Happy Book Birthday to TO PROTECT HIS OWN #new #bookbuz #amreading #romance

I’m very excited to share with everyone my latest release in the NY State Trooper Series: TO PROTECT HIS OWN.

The hero, Jake Prichard, made his first appearance in MURDER IN PARADISE BAY. He was mentioned a few times, but only on stage in one scene. What was interesting for me as a writer was that when he first showed up, I visualized him so clearly and there was something about him that made me go huh, I need to write his story. I had a short chapter I’d written years ago about a horse farm and the owner had been poisoned, bringing his estranged son home. When I originally wrote that opening, the character had a different name, but I remember I had no idea where I was going with that story.

Now all I needed was a heroine, and thanks to my good friend Jennifer Probst nearly falling off a horse on one of our many adventures, I got the idea for Kenzie Chorley, the manager of the farm and Jake’s ex-girlfriend. I just love a good reunion story.

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Below is a short excerpt from TO PROTECT HIS OWN. I hope you enjoy and if you can, please leave an HONEST review on Amazon and Goodreads. I read everyone and really appreciate the feedback from readers.

Chapter One

The large American Quarter horse kicked and snarled as soon as Kenzie Chorley closed the stall door. “Relax,” she whispered, holding out a slice of apple. She held her palm flat, raising her hand so that Boots could snag the treat. The giant horse snorted, shaking his head, before he pushed her away with his nose. The piece of apple landed on the floor with a faint thud. She didn’t budge, locking gazes with the horse, who then turned, giving the door one quick kick with his hoof.

In all her years working with horses, she’d never seen one hold a grudge before. But Boots was holding a ten-year-long one and it didn’t look like he was ever going to let it go. “Suit yourself.” She picked up the apple slice and tossed it over the gate along with a few more. The horse would eat them eventually.

She made sure the door was secure. Every evening Kenzie would take him out and walk him around. Occasionally, when Boots was unusually friendly, Kenzie would ride him, letting the old horse trot around the pen. Today had been one of those days, only Boots decided to get ornery the moment she dismounted. She rubbed her ass with one hand while gently placing the other protectively over her stomach.

“Be good,” she whispered.

Boots raised his head, nodding, as if he understood. Maybe he did.

She turned and slowly made her way across the barn to her office, right across from Boots, who served as a constant reminder of the day Jake stormed off the farm, vowing never to come back.

The sun peeked through her office window as it began its descent behind the mountains. She’d spent the day working with the new Thoroughbreds, getting them ready to be shown and then sold. It had been a long day, but she still had some paperwork to do.

She pulled her chair back and as it screeched against the wood floor, Boots grunted and looked over at her, then just stared. He did that all the time, as if she were an interloper in what used to be Jake’s office. “I’m not leaving.” She groaned as she sat down a little too hard and a little too fast, forgetting about the bruise forming on her butt. Boots snorted.

She pulled open the side draw and removed the ledgers from the last two months and a file filled with invoices and sales receipts. Then she fired up her laptop. She rubbed her forehead, deciding a cup of coffee, even if decaf, was just what she needed. After filling the coffee pot with water and stuffing a packet of decaf in the cylinder, Boots squealed, kicking up both hind legs, hoofs hitting the door in powerful strides meant to knock it down. “What is the matter with you?”

“Kenzie?” Ethan’s voice rang out across the barn.

“Back here,” she yelled as Boots continued to kick and squeal. She raced across the barn, her heels clicking on the hard floor, catching the horse’s attention. “Hey,” she said calmly. “Come here.”

The horse stopped kicking and stared at her before scraping his front hoof on the floor a few times.

She climbed up on the gate. “Come here,” she whispered again and Boots turned, taking a few steps toward her, pushing his nose into her chest. “There now.” She rubbed the spot between his eyes. Boots was an American Quarter Horse. Even though he was pushing seventeen years old, he was still well-muscled. His coat chocolate brown and his mane a few shades darker.

“You’re the only one that can get near that beast,” Ethan Prichard said.

“He’s not a beast,” she said, still stroking his long nose. “Just loyal.”

“What got him all riled up anyway?”

“I saddled him and rode him around the pen.”

“I don’t think you should be riding, especially that horse.” Ethan leaned against the wood post next to the stall. He’d aged a lot over the last ten years. Not speaking to his only child had taken its toll, but he was too stubborn to ever pick up the phone. She, on the other hand, was stubborn the other way and she never gave up, reaching out to Jake regularly. Mostly, he ignored her calls. But when she’d showed up on his doorstep a few months ago, he let her in, only to slam the door in her face the next morning.

“The doctor said it was okay for me to ride.”

“I should have sold that horse.”

Boots kicked the stall, letting Ethan know what he thought of that idea. Besides, Ethan couldn’t sell Boots. It was the only connection he had to his son. Sometimes she’d see him come down to the barn and sit with Boots, talking to him for hours.

“You’re not helping to keep him calm,” she said, scratching behind the horse’s ears.

“Have you told Jake about the baby?”

“He hasn’t been at the station. They said he was on vacation and he hasn’t returned my calls or texts. I left him a message earlier that it was very important and that I had to speak to him. Don’t think this is the kind of news you send in a text message.” He was avoiding her, which was normal considering how they’d been with each other over the last ten years, but she wanted him to be a part of his baby’s life. “Maybe you should call him?”

“Not a bad idea,” he said. “Maybe he’ll answer me.”

“You should call him. Tell him your sorry and take that first step to making things right again, but you can’t tell him about the baby. You know that needs to come from me.”

“He has a right to know.”

“That’s real funny coming from you,” she said. “I don’t intend to keep his child from him. You, on the other hand, still have two secrets you’re keeping from your son.” There were too may secrets and betrayals in Jake’s family. She wasn’t going to contribute to that anymore.

“Like your news is only for you to tell, so is mine.”

“This is different and you know it,” she said. “You’d want to know if the tables were turned.”

“Let’s change the subject because we’re only going to end up talking in circles and arguing.”

“Fine. What brought you down here at this hour?” she asked.

“Two things,” he said. “First, I closed the deal on the two thoroughbreds.”

“Quinten bought them both?”

“Yep. I’m really pleased with the work from Timothy Overton, the new breeder you hired.”

“He’s really good. I’m impressed.” She gently stroked Boots’ cheeks.

“We need to prep them for transport tomorrow.”

“Want me to deliver them? I can do that after lunch.” She rubbed her nose against Boots. Sometimes this horse was just a big baby.

“They are going to pick them up, but I’d like you to introduce Timothy to Quinton. I’d like to give him more responsibility,” Ethan said.

“Happy to,” she said.

“Now, the second thing I wanted to discuss has to do with Charlie Masters. He called me a bit ago. Said you took some of the books.”

She closed her eyes, dropping her forehead to the horse’s nose. Charlie didn’t think there was a problem and took it personally that she’d asked for the ledgers. “Some of the numbers don’t make sense to me.”

“Why didn’t you just let Charlie handle it? Your job is to manage the farm. His job is the books.”

“I know,” she said, sliding down the door now that Boots had turned his head and gone back into his corner, no longer wanting her attention. “But this is a large discrepancy and thought a second set of eyes would be good.”

“Not disagreeing, but don’t you think you went about this the wrong way.” Ethan tossed his arm over her shoulder, escorting her back to her office. He did best to hid his limp he developed when he’d taken a fall down the stairs right before he found out he had cancer. “He’s been my CFO for over thirty years. He knows what he’s doing. Just like you know your job. You’ve got to trust others can handle theirs.”

“Charlie, and you, are too old school. We need to make some changes around here and not just technology. We’re missing out on financial growth and new business opportunities.” She shut her laptop down and sat behind her desk, while Ethan poured himself a cup of coffee, putting in two creams and one sugar.

“I take it you want some?”

“Yep, just cream,” she said.

“I’m looking at all your suggestions. But you’ve got to give me a little more time than a week with them and give Charlie more than a couple of days to look over the books.”

“So does Charlie see there could be a problem?”

He laughed. “Charlie found the problem. A transposed number. But he needs the books so he can double check and he doesn’t want to admit you were right, so I’m doing it for him.”

“They are right here.” She piled them, one on top of the other. “I’m just trying to make sure this farm runs properly.”

“I know.” He turned, setting a mug on the desk, and then leaned against the filing cabinet and raised his mug to his lips. He blew and took a long swig. “God, that’s some horrible coffee,” he said.

“Really?” She picked up her mug and took a slow sniff. “It does smell kind of funny.”

“Not worth…” His hand shook, and the scalding liquid tumbled out of the mug.

“What’s wrong?”

“Dizzy,” he croaked. “Burns…” He dropped the mug. It shattered when it hit the floor. His face metamorphosed into a pale yellow as he toppled to his knees.

“Ethan?”

Boots kicked up his hoofs as he let out a long snort with a squeal.

Ethan doubled over, vomiting blood.

“Ethan!” She ran to him, knocking over her chair. She placed her hand on his forehead, cold perspiration slicked under her palm.

“Call…” his eyes lids fluttered closed as he gagged and choked, spitting up blood. His arms wrapped tightly around his middle.

Her hand trembled violently as she pulled her cell out of her pocket. Her eyes burned as she tried to focus on the keypad and dial 9-1-1. “Hang on,” she whispered. “I’m going to get help.”

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It’s all about emotion… #amwriting #amreading

Yesterday I read through the 50k words I have on my latest NY State Trooper book: DEADLY SEDUCTION (23 May 2017). I had set it aside for a few weeks while went through copy edits for TO PROTECT HIS OWN that comes out 20 March 2017 and then to deal with a Beat Read of THE BUTTERFLY MURDERS. Yes, I’ve got a lot going on, but I like to be busy. Keeps me out of trouble.

Anyway, I needed to dive back into the characters and the world. While I was sitting on the sofa in my office, my laptop on…well, my lap, my husband walks by and looks at me and says, “Why are smiling?”

I was reading a section that was meant to be a bit of a comedic break from the action and I basically cracked myself up.

He walks by later and says, “You look like you’ve been crying.”

I laugh, but I had been trying to fight back the tears. Of course, I’m way too close to the material to know if others will feel the same way, but a good book is based in the readers connection to the characters.

I just finished watching This Is Us. EVERY episode made me cry. I mean, water rolling down my cheeks, totally unstoppable. THAT is good writing!

Pre-Order only 0.99.

So, here is a sneak preview of the opening scene of DEADLY SEDUCTION. This is a ROUGH DRAFT never seen before by anyone. AND, the pre-order price is only 0.99. That will change release day when it goes back up to 3.99.

Chapter 1

Delaney Mervis couldn’t believe her bad luck when the man she’d been watching had decided to sit outside. Normally, sitting under the stars as they twinkled across the ripples of the picturesque lake, during a warm summer evening would be a treat, but not tonight.

Her phone vibrated, sending her stomach on a roll, twisting and churning. She didn’t check the text, she knew exactly who it was from and what he wanted her to do.

She ordered a glass of house white wine and a salad while pretending to be deep into a book on her kindle. Seemed like an easy cover and kept people away so she could focus on how the hell she was going to seduce a man.

The outdoor patio seemed crowded for a Tuesday evening, though she’d heard some of her co-workers talk of some wild times in the Village of Lake George, New York. Looking around, it didn’t look tame, but it certainly wasn’t wild. Then again, what did she know of wild. Taking a sip of her wine, she looked across the deck at the four men sitting at a table right against the railing, overlooking the water. She recognized one of them as the owner of the hotel she was staying at. There was a pitcher of beer on the table, along with a plate of chicken wings, what looked like mozzarella sticks, and maybe nachos.

Josh Burdett sat directly across from her, sipping his beer while the other men laughed about something. Josh was certainly better looking in person with his sandy brown hair, cut in a stylish fade that only accentuated his square dimpled jaw, sharp-high cheek bones, plump lips, and piercing green eyes that made it difficult for her to keep from constantly staring, which could be a good thing.

She knew she was a pretty woman. The rare occasion she went out to a bar, she would get hit on, but she had a rule about dating men she’d met in bars and that was, she didn’t date them. Lately, she hadn’t dated all, her last relationship hadn’t been a very good and it left her feeling as though there might be something wrong with her.

Setting her glass down, she poked at her salad with the fork, doing her best to keep her eyes on the kindle in her hand, while keeping the hot sexy trooper in her peripheral vision, hoping he had noticed the woman sitting alone. Her heart pounded, rattling her ribcage. If she did what grey eyes asked, he wouldn’t kill her brother. Simple enough, right?

Not.

“How is everything?” The waitress appeared at the side of the table.

“Great,” Delaney said. “Can you bring me the check?”

“More wine before I do that?”

“One more glass, with the check,” Delaney said. Might as well have something to slowly sip, figuring Josh and his friends might be awhile and she’d look silly at a table, reading a book, without at least a beverage. Plus, she could use it to spill on him. One way of getting a man’s attention. She shook her head. The art of seduction wasn’t her strong suit.

Right after the waitress left, she snuck a glance in Josh’s direction, connecting with his sea green eyes. She swallowed, holding his gaze, unable to shyly look away. Isn’t that what men liked?

He tipped his glass, nodding.

She smiled weakly as she raised her nearly empty glass, then took a sip, before lowering her head, eyes focusing on the kindle screen. The information she’d been given indicated Josh was nearing his thirtieth birthday. Same age as her. He’d been a Trooper since graduating from the Academy at the age of twenty-two and worked as a detective in special crimes unit most of his career. The portrait that the man with the grey eyes had built for Josh, made him out to be this bad ass cop who abused his power. But when she looked at him, all she saw was a young man with this boyish quality that made a woman want to go curl up in his strong powerful arms because you knew he was the kind of man who would forever and always be your protector…and love and worship you as if you were the most important person in the world.

But looks could be deceiving as she’d found out with Kirk.

She swallowed her pride and stiffened her spine, as she took a long slow sip of her wine noting that Josh continued to look her way, even while engaged in conversation.

When the waitress returned, Delaney had pushed aside her salad, only half eaten, then quickly paid the bill. This way she could just sit and drink her second glass, while she argued with herself that if the tables were turned, her brother would do the very same thing.

The next thirty minutes dragged on as she watched Josh and his friends enjoy a meal, but finally they had begun to stand, shaking hands. She took the last sip of her second glass of wine when the waitress showed up with another glass.

“I didn’t order that?” Delaney glanced toward the table where Josh had been, his buddies heading toward the parking lot, but Josh seemed to have disappeared. She couldn’t blow this chance. Not now.

“I did,” a husky deep voice said. “Thought we could have a drink together.” Josh stood in front of her, fresh beer in his hand.

The waitress set the glass on the table. “Let me know if I can get you anything else.”

“Thanks Viv,” Josh said.

Delaney let out a long slow breath. Both relieved and terrified at the same time.

“I’m not usually this forward,” he said. “But we noticed each other, so thought I’d say hello.”

“Hello,” she said smiling. “Please. Sit down.” Kirk had been right, she did sound like she was conducting an interview.

Josh pulled out the spare chair at her table and sat down across from her. “Name is Josh Burdett.” He held out his hand

She took it in a firm handshake. “Delaney. Nice to meet you.”

“Are you from around here?”

She tucked her kindle, along with her notebook into her purse. “No. I’m just here for a couple of weeks.”

“Vacation?”

“Working vacation,” she said. “I’m a writer and I’m here to finish my novel.”

“Are you published?” he asked, leaning forward, elbows resting on the table, his green eyes focused a little to intently on her face, but it least his gaze wasn’t on her non-existent boobs. Or maybe that was a bad thing.

“Not yet.” Keep as much of the truth about yourself as you can. “The novel writing is a hobby. I hope to turn it into a paying gig sometime soon.”

“So, what do you do…as a career?”

“I’m a copy editor for a publishing house.” So far, no lies. “What do you do?” she asked.

“I’m a State Trooper.”

“Impressive and dangerous. I bet exciting too.” She did her best to act surprised by his profession while gauging his responses and body language, which by the way he pulled back a tad, he wasn’t into girls who thought his job was sexy. But what did she know about reading people? She thought Kirk loved her fried chicken when he actually hated it.

Josh chuckled. “Honestly, more than half my job is sitting in a patrol car or in a patrol boat, waiting for something to happen, hoping nothing does, wishing for boring, which I think is the complete opposite of why I became a Trooper in the first place.”

“Did you join because you’re an adrenaline junkie?” What the hell kind of question was that? The gene that gave a woman the art of seduction had passed her by.

“I suppose a little.” He swigged his beer. “I wanted to make a difference. Help people. Protect them.” Laughing, he shook his head. “This is a deep conversation for two people who just met.”

“Hazzard of my hobby,” she said. “I’m always studying people and asking questions. Trying to figure them out. Sorry.”

“Is that what you were doing earlier. Studying me?”

“I was studying everyone.”

“So you weren’t just looking at me.”

She did her best to blush, letting her gaze drop to her lap. “No. Pretty much just you.”

“Good to know. Want to go for a walk down to the water?” He pointed toward the long dock that extended off the restaurant into the lake.

She tilted her head. “I’m not in the habit of going anywhere with strange men.”

“Your profiling skills need work because I’m not strange,” he said with a grin, then turned and pointed to the other side of the deck. “The band is about to start and it gets pretty loud, even sitting out here. We can bring our drinks. I can even have the waitress bring us down another round.”

She bit down on her thumb nail, looking between him and the docks. There was nothing to contemplate, but she didn’t want him to think she was so willing or easy, though she was willing to do whatever to took to save her brother, even if her brother didn’t deserve her loyalty.

“I understand,” he said. “We can sit here and yell over the band.”

“No, we can go walk down by the water.” She stood, tossing her purse over her shoulder, holding her drink in the other hand. “And since my hotel is just down the road and I walked, I just might have another.” She might need an entire bottle to make this happen.

“After you.” He waved his hand out in front, then motioned to the waitress for another round.

They walked quietly through the gate off the deck, down a windy pathway, before stepping onto the dock. A boat hummed in the distance as small waves gently crashed against the break wall. “It’s really beautiful here.” Once they reached the end of the pier, she kicked off her shoes and sat down, dangling her bare feet in the chilly water and took another gulp of wine. “It’s so different from any water I can see in New York City.”

“Is that where you live?” He’d shed his shoes, and had just finished rolling up his jeans as he sat down next to her.

She nodded. “I grew up in Brooklyn. Went to college at Columbia and still live right near campus.” Kicking her feet in the water, she glanced in his direction. The light from the moon hit his green eyes, making them look like gems. “Have you lived here you whole life?”

“I’m actually from the Bronx. Lived there until about a year ago.”

“Small world.”

“Not in New York,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I hated it there until I came here.”

“Why’d you hate it?” She sipped her wine, enjoying the crisp cool dry flavor as it rolled across her lips a little too much, just like she enjoyed the company, though liking him, being attracted to him, might make this go easier.

“Cliché, but I felt like a fish out of water in the city,” he said.

“And you don’t feel that way here?”

“You can breathe in this town and not have it taste like a combination of your neighbor’s three-day old Chinese take-out and the taxicabs exhaust.”

“I don’t know where you were living, but I love the smell of hot dogs and fresh pretzels on a cool fall day near Central Park.”

“Hey Josh,” a woman’s voice called as the dock vibrated. “I got your drinks.” The waitress approached, then squatted, setting the drinks on the dock.

“Thanks, Viv.” He reached in to his pocket, pulling out his wallet. “What’s the damage?”

“Fifteen.”

He handed her a twenty. “Keep it. Thanks for bringing them down.”

“I owed you one after what you did for me the other day.”

He shook his head. “It was nothing.”

“Always humble and modest, this one,” Viv said. “Tries to be the deep and brooding type, but really he’s just the nice boy next door. You’re in good hands with him,” Viv said. “I’ll check on you two in a bit.”

“I think we’re good for the night,” Josh said.

“Enjoy yourselves.” Viv winked, then turned and disappeared.

“So, you’re a regular boy scout.” Delaney had picked up her fresh glass and sipped as eloquently and slowly as possible, the effects already making her a bit fuzzy, but helping her with her horrible flirting skills.

“Just your average Joe Trooper.” He raised his bottle, tipping his head.

From what she’d gathered about Josh Burdett, he was anything but average. “What did you do that earned such high praise and a wink from our waitress?”

“Jealous?”

She winked.

He chuckled. “She had a flat tire on the Thruway. She doesn’t have road side assistance and couldn’t afford to pay someone to come out, so I did my job and changed her tire.”

“Didn’t know tire changing was in the Trooper job description.”

“Protect and serve. On my knees, getting my hands dirty, that was the serve part.”

She burst out laughing, nearly spitting out the wine she’d managed to sip just as he spoke.

“What’s so funny?”

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

“Did your mind just go to the gutter?” He leaned in, his green eyes flickered.

“I plead the fifth,” she said. “Tell me. Why did you leave the city to live here?”

“I wanted a change of pace,” he said.

“I bet you left behind a string of broken hearts.”

He shook his head. “There was no one in the city for me. What about you? Why stay? Have a boyfriend back home?”

“No,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever leave. I’ve always been a city girl. I like the hustle and bustle of the streets. Here,” she paused, “I feel exposed.”

“Because you’re not just one of millions wondering the city streets. A nameless face in a sea of people going about a busy life, never really slowing down to get to know themselves, much less anyone else.”

She leaned back on her elbows, looking at the night sky. “I never thought of it that way, being nameless, but there are so many stories in those faces. Some you want to know. Some you don’t. I like to sit on a bench and just people watch. It inspires me somehow.”

“Then why come here to write when you have all the inspiration you need in the city?”

“Because I’ve never been out of the city.”

“Never?” He sipped his beer before laying back on the dock. “No family to visit in other places?”

“It’s just me and my brother now.” If she could manage to pull this off. If she didn’t, grey eyes said Liam would be dead in a few days.

“That means you’ve never been on an airplane?”

She laughed. “I can barely drive a car,” she said. “And almost turned around a dozen times on my here.”

“Normally, city girls are supposed to be so worldly.”

“I’ve thought about leaving the city, but it just never happened.”

“I don’t know anyone from New York that either didn’t grow up somewhere else, or at least traveled off the Island.”

“I took the ferry to New Jersey once. Nice view of the city. That’s when I decided if I wanted to be a writer. I need to see some of the world. See if it was how I imaged in my head.”

“Well, you picked a beautiful place to start.” He tugged at her sleeve. “Lots of stars out tonight.” He patted the wooden dock with his hand. “It’s a great view from down here.”

“Not sure I’ve ever had a man use that line on me before.” The instant heat she felt for him should be making this process easier, but all it did was confuse her and rattle her already frazzled nerves.

“I didn’t intend it to be a line.” He rested one hand behind his head. “You won’t ever see a night sky like this in the city. It’s the kind of vision one writes about in books.”

She laughed as she eased her way to her elbows, pressing her back against the hard wood, and drawing her feet up from the water. “Now that was a line.”

“Pretty much.”

“Wow. I’ve never seen so many stars,” she said. “It’s like a jar filled with fireflies that never goes out.”

“What do you know about fireflies, city girl?” He’d rolled to his side, propping up on his elbow, sipping his beer. His eyes still illuminated from the glow of the moon. His plump full lips circling the neck of the glass bottle. She didn’t know what was more picturesque. Him or the night sky.

“I’ve read about them in books.”

They both laughed.

“How long have you been in town?”

“Got in yesterday.”

“I can show you around, if you’d like.”

Closing her eyes, she breathed slowly, taking in the fresh scent of warm spring water mixed with a faint musk smell of what she suspected was aftershave, but one she’d never smelled before. She wanted to turn her head, lace her fingers behind his neck, and kiss him, which was a crazy thought because she’d never acted impulsively in her life. Her older brother used to tell her all the time to lighten up and live a little.

But look where that got him.

“I’d like that.” She jerked her arm, feeling a slight tickle of something across her skin.

“Didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, his voice deep and throaty, sending messages to her body that she didn’t know what to do with. No man ever made her this nervous before. Perhaps it was because her only reason for being with him, was to destroy him. His finger tilted her chin and when she opened her eyes, her breath hitched. “You’re very beautiful.”

“I bet you say that to all the women you bring down here.”

“You’re the first.” His palm grazed her cheek. “I’ve got tomorrow off. Can I take you to lunch?”

She nodded, holding her breath. If he leaned just a little closer, she’d be grabbing him, and pulling his hard, lean body on top of hers and tangling their tongues in a hot dance. He stared at her for a long moment. His thumb fanned across her cheek.

He licked his lips. “I want to kiss you.”

“I’m thinking all the fresh air may have gone to my head because I’m thinking I want you to kiss me.” She held his gaze for what seemed like an eternity. Both her hands resting on her stomach that flipped and flopped as if she were about to be kissed for the first time.

When he leaned in, she closed her eyes, waiting for his moist lips to brush against hers…but they didn’t. Instead he kissed her cheek. “We’ve both had too much wine and beer,” he whispered. “Let me walk you home.”

“You are the boy next door.”

He smiled, helping her to her feet, intertwining their fingers.

“You don’t have to walk with me,” she whispered.

“I want to. Besides, when we get there I can kiss your other cheek.”

“I wouldn’t be opposed to you kissing my lips either.”

“Good to know.”

They walked in silence until they reached the parking lot of her hotel. “I’m in the main building.”

“You didn’t get a cabin?”

“Couldn’t afford it, even if there had been one available,” she admitted. “But the rooms here are fabulous. And the owners are incredibly friendly.”

“Reese and Patty.” He guided her up the stairs to the porch as she pulled out her keys to open the main door.

“I thought I recognized one of the owners at your table. Was that Reese?”

“That was him. He and his wife are good friends of mine.”

She held up the key she’d finally found in the bottom of her purse. “Thanks for walking me back.”

“Not a problem. I’ll pick you up here at eleven for lunch?”

“Sure.”

“Pack a change of clothes and a bathing suit.”

“For lunch?”

He didn’t answer, instead he cupped her face, lowering his mouth to hers, but once again, his lips landed on her cheek. “See you tomorrow.”

Leaning against the door, she watched him as he took the steps down the porch and headed back the way they had come.

“You’re not driving, are you?” she yelled.

“Nope. I rent the apartment over the Boardwalk.”

“Walk home safe then.”

He turned. “You never told me your last name.”

“Mervis. Delaney Mervis.”

“That’s a nice Irish Jewish name.”

She laughed. “Good night.” Quickly, she unlocked the door and once inside, she tapped her phone, looking at the texts. All from the many with the grey eyes.

The clock is ticking. Report in.

I’m waiting. If I don’t hear from you tonight, your brother will pay.

Shaking her head to try to clear the cobwebs, her hands fumbled with the phone.

Found Burdett and made contact. Meeting again tomorrow.

She stared at the phone. The little caption bubble danced while grey eyes typed his response.

Why didn’t you seduce him? The sooner I get that tape, the sooner this is over for you.

She wanted to ask him how on earth a sex tape was going to ruin Josh. As a woman, it would affect her more, but she kept her mouth shut, not wanting to know any more about grey’s eyes plans. All she wanted was to make sure her brother wasn’t murdered.

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Help! Cover decision and book blurb for THE BUTTERFLY MURDERS #amwriting #writerslife

This is one of those books that I’ve been working on for like EVER, but I’m finally ready to give it wings…I’m getting ready to load it to Kindle Scout. It’s with copy editor, so hoping in the next month. But, I’m not sure which cover I should go with…and I think the blurb sucks…so, bring on the comments! What cover? And does the blurb make you want to read the book? Feel free to make suggestions on the blurb. I can write these for other people, but never for myself!

Cover Option 1
Cover Option #1
Cover Option #2
Cover Option #2
The last two years have been hell for Detective Shane Rogers. First, his wife is killed in a car accident. A year later, his son’s rare heart condition takes a turn for the worse, forcing Shane to go on administrative duty. But now that his son is thriving after a successful heart transplant, Shane decides it’s time for him to go back to homicide. His first day on the job, he’s assigned to the gruesome murder of a congressman’s fourteen-year-old daughter. He knew it was going to be a tough case when the killer had removed the girl’s eyes.
 
Special Agent Kara Martin has spent the last thirteen years doing whatever she could to forget everything about her hometown… where her parents had been murdered. She thought she could avoid Rochester, but when a congressman’s daughter is murdered she finds herself not only back in a place she said she’d never return, but working with a man she thought she’d never see again. A man she once loved… until she broke his heart.
 
Shane and Kara are thrust together in one of the toughest cases their careers and in the background their past taunts them.
 
As they begin to come to terms with the past, the bodies pile up. With each new murder, the killer takes a different organ that is commonly harvested. An organ they had received in the form of a transplant.
 
And now Shane’s son has been kidnapped…

Writing More than one Book at a Time? Is it possible?

It’s possible. And I do it.

When I tell people I work on more than one fiction book at a time I always get the same question: How to do you keep the characters straight and make sure they are different?

The key is the ability to put out of sight, out of mind…without losing the ability to dream about the characters and story.

The other day I was walking down the steps to our condo in high heels. My husband and I were on our way out to dinner with friends. As I came down the outside steps my husband said, “you look like you are drunk.”

I laughed and said, “I’m daydreaming about Delaney and Josh.”

He replies, “Who the F are they?” Of course, he knows they are two fictional characters, but one of the ways I working on character development, plotting, and pacing is by constantly visualizing the scenes in my head. I often type notes to myself in my phone so I don’t forget neat things that reveal themselves. I also don’t follow my mind exclusively because as I write, other things are revealed.

I almost always have two books going and sometimes three…

To Protect His Own
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Deadly Secrets
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For the last two months I’ve been writing the draft of DEADLY SEDUCTION, which comes out on 23 May, 2017. I’m about 50k into when I got the edits back on TO PROTECT HIS OWN, which comes out on 20 March 2017, so I had to stop the draft and go back to the other book. This is an easy transition for me because its the same world. Both books are in the NY State Trooper series. That said, I have to literally put Josh and Delaney out of my head.

Now, I just got my final Beta Read on THE BUTTERFLY MURDERS and I’m pondering going through that, making a few changes, then get back to DEADLY SECRETS…actually, I just made my decision. The former first because I can do that in a couple of days.

So, I’m really not writing two books at the same time, but I can put a draft on hold to deal with something else, flipping between the characters.

Back to the cave cave…

NY NY

#amwriting differently during #JeRoWriMo17 30K Challenge

I’m almost 20k into this challenge and feeling quite good about my progress. When I commit to writing, I can write fast. Very fast. Doesn’t mean it’s good, but I can crank out 30-50k a month, but I write SEMI-BLIND. I don’t mean literally, but while I consider myself more of a plotter than a pantser because the first thing I have before I start writing is the climatic scene. I have something to write. That means, I generally have a good idea of my character’s goals, but not always their motivation. That usually comes as I read.

That said, when I was writing Murder in Paradise Bay, I write to a climactic scene that when I got there I said, “huh, that doesn’t work”. It didn’t work because my bad guy wasn’t the bad guy, it was someone else, which threw me. But once I figured that out (and accepted it) it didn’t take me but a few days to fix the rest of the manuscript because all along my subconscious mind was dropping little seedlings through the manuscript.

I’m currently working on the 6th book of the New York State Trooper Series, tentatively titled: DEADLY SEDUCTION and I have no clear picture of the climatic scene, so that makes me a little nervous. Then again, there is no real mystery in this book, like there was in MURDER IN PARADISE BAY or some of my other work, where the killer should come as a bit of a surprise at the end. The bad guy DEADLY SEDUCTION is clearly defined in the beginning of the book because he’s seeking revenge on my hero. I have my short one sentence summary of the book: What if the woman you’re currently sleeping with was sent by the man who vowed revenge to ruin your career.

I know my heroine is being forced to do things in order to save her brother…or so she thinks. I have a step-outline that takes me through just past the middle of the book. I even have the epilogue perfectly visualized in my head…but not that damn climatic scene.

But I will keep plugging away because I know that scene will reveal itself as I keep pushing forward. So, onward I go…

Get the first book in The New York State Trooper Series: IN TWO WEEKS for free!

Bad first dates that end up in happily-ever-after…

The other day I was talking with a friend who married a guy I knew from HS. She’d been reading my books and asked why I wrote about Troopers. I didn’t know her in HS. She was a grade behind me. I knew of her, but not sure we ever spent any time together. The guy she married was a friend of mine. Nice guy. They have been together since like right out of HS. She and I chatted for a while and we’re both so lucky to have great hubbies.

Somehow we got on the topic of first dates. I laughed and told her my first with my husband was the WORST date I’d ever been on. She came back with “couldn’t have been that bad.” Then I told her the story and she said, something to the effect of “well, that was bad.” What’s really funny to me was I got home that night and swore I’d never go out with him again…but I went out with him the very next night. Something about it him. Of course, I knew I had a keeper when he bought me a washer and dryer in our first apartment because all I did was bitch about going to the laundry mat. It was our first anniversary present. I thought it was sweet.

So, want the story?

It’s Valentine’s Day 1985. I’d been friends with this guy for like six months. We hung out with same group of friends. He chased me for 3 weeks when I finally said, whatever. He picked me up in his 1966 Buick Special that wasn’t special. It looked like someone took a sledge hammer to it. He pulls up into Oak Hill Country Club and says to the Valle “park this a good spot because last time I was here all this shit happened to it.” Line from Beverly Hills. I was mortified. Then we decided to go to a movie, that he picked…wait for it…he took me to see THE KILLING FIELDS on Valentine’s Date for a first date? Yes. I married this man.

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I’m so glad he stopped wearing that hat and that shirt!

So, the date pretty much sucked, but the interesting thing was he was just so sweet in his weird way. Nothing has changed there. Nothing. We’ve been together for nearly 32 years, 31 years living under the same roof and 28 years married. I think that’s something.

Feel free to share your dating stories…