Monday, August 31, 2020

NBtM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway - The Wonders of the Peculiar Parasol: A Dragonstone Story by Mark M. Even

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for The Wonders of the Peculiar Parasol by Mark M. Even. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt for you and a guest post. There's also a tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: The Wonders of the Peculiar Parasol
Author: Mark M. Even
Publisher: Cresting Wave Publishing
Publication Date: October 20th 2019
Print Length: 131 pages
Genre: Children's Fantasy
The Wonders of the Peculiar Parasol is an outstanding fantasy that shows how Mandy discovers her magic under strange circumstances. It focuses on how Mandy will get home and how she'll discover her real purpose in coming to this land, providing the basics of how this new world operates in a manner that elementary-level readers can readily understand: "The parasol and the dragonstone work together to sense the presence, or lack of presence, of the inner magic of the person holding the parasol. The dragonstone uses the infinite power of the sun to tap or channel or access that magic. And one way it does that is to transport an individual to Storyworld.”

As Mandy harbors a secret, puzzles out how to use the dragonstone, and interacts with her family while battling lizards and building an army, young readers will relish the blend of real-world family dilemmas and fantasy world encounters. (D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review)

**The eBook is only $0.99!**

Mickey smiled at everyone and said, “OK! Here we go!” and started twirling the parasol. Instantly the dragonstone flashed a bright purple light, and Mickey was frozen still—with a big grin on his face.

After about ten minutes, during which time the parents, as they always did, checked their watches about a hundred times, Mickey popped back to life and said, “Neato!”

Everyone else applauded and clamored for his story. Not one to easily cede being the center of attention, Mickey entertained everyone with a story of being a high-performance race car driver in a sort of “Olympics of Racing.”

“It was amazing!” he said. “I got to be in several different races in one day. One event was drag racing. And I got to drive a big purple car with extra-large black rear tires, a tiny steering wheel, a jet engine—and a parachute to stop the car at the end of each race. Totally cool!

“Then I was also in an Indy-style race of one hundred laps around a huge red brick track. Then I did an off-road endurance race in a cool purple dune buggy with oversize tires with ‘MICKEY’ in white letters six inches high on each tire. I won two of three races with my buggy!” He rolled his eyes and continued, “I only lost once to a yellow dune buggy in the cool endurance race event. And you know what? That yellow dune buggy was driven by a girl I thought I knew. She was wearing a red and yellow jacket and a silver helmet with blue and green lightning symbols on it. She looked so… familiar!”
I retired from almost 40 years working for IBM in Mar, 2017. I’ve been married for 43 years to my wife, Joyce and have 3 children and 8 grand-children. I enjoy golfing, fishing, bird-watching and travel.

Shortly after retiring from IBM in 2017, I was at a small-town celebration in northern Wisconsin and noticed that a number of the little vendor booths were people selling children’s books that they created and self-published. I looked at these and told myself that I could write something like that. And I did, but these were the type of books that were targeted at small kids and needed vibrant pictures and artwork.

In the spring of 2018, I was visiting my niece and her family, and she told me of this wonderful idea for a story for a children’s book and after talking with her about it, we agreed to collaborate and I took on the task of writing the story. After many iterations, The Wonders of the Peculiar Parasol became a reality.

- What advice would I give my younger self if I could go back in time and why?

Well, being 64 years old, going back in time is a pretty wide span to pick from --- just how far back would I go?

I actually had a pretty good childhood, growing up in a small Iowa town (population 1000). From the time I was 8 years old, I was free to go anywhere in town on my bike. I played golf, I played baseball, I went to the swimming pool. During the summers, I would leave the house as soon as I woke up and would only come home to eat at noon and at 6 and then go out until bedtime. My dad had one of those super shrill whistles (the ones that you pressed your fingers into your mouth – I could never do it) that we could hear just about from anywhere in town – when you heard the whistle, you hustled home.

So, I wouldn’t go back that far. High school was also enjoyable – met my wife freshman year and played a lot of sports. My baseball team went to the State tournament 4 times (Iowa had both Fall and Summer baseball back then) and we won the championship twice. I’ll never forget those days and wouldn’t want to change a thing.

So – the timeframe I would pick to go back to would be just after graduating from college. My wife and I married during my final year and we packed up and moved to New Jersey from Iowa to start my career with IBM. During the 4 years we lived there, we worked hard and saved enough money to buy a house (interest rates were at 17% at that time). We played hard too, joining softball and volleyball teams with our new friends and workmates. And every possible holiday or vacation, we chose to travel back to Iowa to spend time with family – which in hindsight was the very right thing to do!

We also “explored” a little bit – but not as much as we should have. Living an hour outside of New York City, we did venture in and saw the sights, went to Broadway, and attended a few Yankee games. But in hindsight – we didn’t do this enough. We really had no major responsibilities to keep us from exploring the surrounding area. I still haven’t been to New Hampshire or Maine (2 of the 7 states I’ve never set foot in). I didn’t learn to downhill ski until we took our kids to a local bunny hill in Minnesota overlooking the Mississippi River almost 12 years after leaving New Jersey – my friend kept asking us to go to Vermont to ski with him when we lived out East but we didn’t go. Those 4.5 years before kids were spent keeping our nose to the ground and building our careers. We could’ve had a lot more fun and adventures!

That’s what I would tell myself if I could!
Mark M. Even will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the tour. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
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Blurb Blitz Tour and Giveaway: Mimi Takes Paris (The Mimi Series #1) by Mimi (Translated by Elizabeth Cooke)

Welcome to the blurb blitz tour for Mimi Takes Paris by Mimi (translated by Elizabeth Cooke). This blitz was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt for you as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card or a print copy of the book. Be sure to check out the other stops on the blitz tour. Enjoy!
Title: Mimi Takes Paris
Author: Mimi
Translator: Elizabeth Cooke
Publisher: The Troy Book Makers
Publication Date: July 1st 2020
Print Length: 100 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
It is the start of the adventures of a small black poodle, escapee from a cruel puppy mill, who is rescued by Nicole Marcel, a pretty girl singer in the City of Paris. The two become inseparable.

The little dog has an animal intelligence and a tremendous sense of smell, and proceeds to solve a murder, and other crimes by nasal prowess. Mimi gains celebrity status, as does her PERSON, Nicole.

It is a Cozy Mystery like no other!

In book two, titled “Mimi’s Paris Dilemma,” Mimi’s reputation, (and that of Nicole’s), is sullied by an unfair assessment by the public. The little dog slowly regains status by solving other crimes.

Mimi was fortunate enough to live in Paris, and she knew it. She, and her ‘person’ resided in a petite hotel on the Left Bank. That ‘person’ was young and pretty and would leash Mimi for walks.

In winter, Mimi wore a pink wool coat with a tiny, white handkerchief peeking out from a pocket on the back. It was so handsome against her jet -black toy-poodle hair. Of course, in warm weather, she only sported the leash.

How proud was Mimi to parade along the rues and boulevards. All of 12 inches long and perhaps 10 inches high, she walked with such elan, that people noticed her. She liked that. But most of all, Mimi reveled in the fact that she had been lucky enough to be endowed with a moist, black muzzle with two intense nostrils that provided her with a world of sensuality.

The scent of companion dogs with messages left behind, greeted her at every corner. The odor of soupe a l’oignon or boeuf, simmering in wine, emerged from the bistros as the two passed by, one two legged, the other on four. Oh, and to pass a fromagerie, was a special delight. The smell of the pungent cheeses from across the country within the little store could not be contained, and all of France was laid before Mimi’s hungry little nose.

Occasionally, Mimi was lucky enough to find a morsel of crepe au sucre on the rue Cler, inadvertently dropped by a hungry tourist who had been munching while he walked. Ah, life was good. What a lucky dog am I, was her constant thought.

Mimi knew she was smart, and she knew her sense of smell was extraordinary, even for a dog. She could define with her nose every herbal addition to a stew of veal with sage, or rosemary in a gigot d’agneau. Oh, the herbal names meant nothing, but the specific tingle in her nostrils made everything so clear, distinct and utterly delicious.

But not this time. This was a dark odor. It was the smell of blood.
The daughter of the Dean of Medicine at Columbia University, Elizabeth Cooke was raised in Manhattan, graduating from The Brearley School, and Vassar College, with a major in Drama, and minor in Art. As a young woman, she worked in theater and as a casting consultant, briefly served on the board of MoMA, before moving to Paris for three years, after her marriage ended. There, she immersed herself in the museums, studied at the Sorbonne, cooked at The Cordon Bleu, and traveled all over Europe. Until recently, Elizabeth Cooke resided on the East End of Long Island. For 10 years, she was the Chairman of The Bide-A-Wee Home, a prestigious animal shelter complex in New York City and Long Island. She also served on the Executive Committee of the Westhampton Free Library for 30 years.

Paris In “Eye of the Beholder,” completed after the memoir, Elizabeth Cooke writes in rather irreverent terms, of the lives of six artists and the most compelling muse in each of their lives: next came, “A Shadow Romance,” an odyssey of an unfulfilled love affair between a mature New York City couple: then, the four “Hotel” books. She has just completed “How To Game People Without Even Trying,” the true story (fictionalized) of the murder of her second husband in his Paris apartment. A fifth ‘hotel’ book, titled “Rendezvous at a Small Hotel” has just been released. The sixth hotel book, “Intrigue at a Small Hotel” has received top honors from The Paris Book Festival for 2016. The seventh and final in the hotel series, “The Hotel Marcel Dining Club” is currently available.

For her, there is great joy in having the gift of expression that writing provides, and this is reflected in her rather prolific output.

Elizabeth Cooke will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (INT) or a print copy of Mimi Takes Paris (US only) to six randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter after the blitz. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the blitz each day. Good luck!
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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Slanted Light (Jackson's Pond Texas Series #2) by Teddy Jones

Jackson's Pond Texas Series, Book 2
Teddy Jones

Genres: Literary Fiction / Family Saga / Western Women / Rural Fiction  
Publisher: Midtown Publishing 
Publication Date: August 21, 2020 
Number of Pages: 275

 Scroll down for the giveaway!
Teddy Jones’s earlier novel, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, began the saga of the Jackson family. Now, Slanted Light continues their tale. 

Claire Havlicek’s late night call brings her brother Chris Banks from his home in New Mexico back to the town that bears their family name, Jackson’s Pond. She’s collapsed under the weight of threats to her thirteen-year marriage that have undermined her confidence and her will. Her husband, J. D., responds to seduction by a woman in need; theft and the threat of a forced buyout jeopardize Claire’s two medical clinics; drought imperils their ranch and cattle business; a teenage daughter turns to bulimia. 

When Claire admits her limits, her grandmother, Willa Jackson, and the other members of her family help her learn that being human, weaknesses and all, can be a source of strength and joy.
Teddy Jones is the author of three other published novels, Halfwide, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, and Well Tended, as well as a collection of short stories, Nowhere Near. Her short fiction received the Gold Medal First Prize in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2015. Jackson’s Pond, Texas was a finalist for the 2014 Willa Award in contemporary fiction from Women Writing the West. Her as-yet-unpublished novel, Making It Home, was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2017 and "A Good Family" was named a finalist in that contest in 2018. 

Jones grew up in Iowas Park, a small Texas town. She has worked as a nurse, a nurse educator, a nursing-college administrator, and as a nurse practitioner in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. For the past twenty years, she and her husband have lived in the rural West Texas Panhandle, where he farms and she writes.

This Writer’s Journey
by Teddy Jones

It seems I’ve been writing, in one form or another, since the time my seventh-grade English teacher, Mrs. Brownie Tanner, complimented my writing and encouraged me. But I only began writing fiction in earnest around 2001. Before that, all my writing had been on academic topics, either in nursing or higher education. None of that was wasted effort in regard to polishing writing skills. It’s necessary to write clearly, to be aware of the reader’s perspective as the other party to the communication, and to weave the key ideas into a narrative regardless of whether the form is a research report or a piece of fiction.

During those years between Brownie Tanner’s kind comments and the time I gave myself permission to concentrate on fiction, I had filled notebooks with observations, descriptions, fragments of ideas, and quotations from fiction I read, all with the intent that eventually I would try to write fiction.

A friend and colleague, Dr. Edwina McConnell, volunteered to be my reader as I began my first efforts at fiction. In exchange, I read and commented on the biography of Elinor Gregg that was her long-term project. She had first begun the research when she was an undergraduate. More than twenty years later she allowed herself to dedicate her time to creating Elinor Gregg’s story, the tale of the woman who was the first supervisor of nursing for the Indian Service.

In the midst of that work, Edwina was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When she died shortly after the diagnosis, her will named me as the person to receive her research material and the ten chapters she had completed. I had promised to finish the work she began. But she had left no outline and no instructions. She trusted me to tell Elinor’s story. I put aside my fiction, and after several months spent reading all of her research documents and the completed chapters, I decided the best way to attract the audience Edwina hoped would read about Elinor was to make it a biographical novel. Finally, in 2005, A Stone for Every Journey was published.

That experience convinced me that writing was then the main thing I wanted to do. I returned to the work I had begun and soon realized that to reach the level of skill I aimed for, I needed formal education in the craft of writing. I entered a graduate program in creative writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. That intense program made all the difference in that I not only learned the techniques of fiction, but I also learned the benefit of revision based on feedback gained in critical workshops. Since graduating with my Master of Fine Arts in 2012, I have thought of myself as a writer. I dedicate myself to creating literary fiction—novels and short stories—as my full-time occupation. Nothing could suit me better at this point in my life.

I imagine my fiction will always have traces of Texas in it. A reader will find those traces in the dialogue, in the descriptions of places, and in the yearnings of the characters. I grew up in a small Texas town and have lived most of my life in Texas. Except for the period in Austin, I’ve lived in West Texas most of those years. The voices I hear when I imagine my characters often have West Texas accents; their speech is marked by the rhythms and languages of the region. Whether one of my stories is contemporary or historical or a hybrid, the physical environment and the local cultures are vital to understanding the characters and their stories.
Grand Prize: $25 Amazon gift card and signed copies of both books in the Jackson's Pond, Texas Series by Teddy Jones
Two Winners: Signed copy of Slanted Light by Teddy Jones
(US Only)
August 25-September 4, 2020

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Belle Vue by C.S. Alleyne

Title: Belle Vue
Author: C.S. Alleyne

Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Publication Date: August 25th 2020

Print Length: 350 pages
Genre: Horror

Jealousy. Betrayal. Murder. And a hunger for vengeance that spans the centuries…

History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum.

But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum’s past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane.

As the two strands—past and present—unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant—without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Present Day
Claire who is having a housewarming party has cleared out more stuff from her apartment and is taking it down to her storage room in the basement.
She put the box under her arm and took out her key. As she opened the door, a subtle smell caught her attention. Garlic? How odd. She didn’t keep any food down here. She ignored it and switched on the light. The things she treasured most almost filled the space: items belonging to her parents she’d chosen to keep but couldn’t fit upstairs. One day, she’d have to decide what to do with them. For now, they were piled up in neat rows with a list of contents taped to the front of each. Courtesy of Marianne.

Claire stepped inside and placed the box on the floor. She was about to push it closer to the others with her foot when she caught a movement from above. Instinctively, she looked up. A flash of black. Something dropped onto her shoulder.

She let out a screech and leaped back, her fingers brushing blindly at her shirt. Looking down at the floor, she screwed up her face in disgust as she saw a huge spider scuttle between the cartons. She peered at the ceiling. A cobweb hung across the gap between the rows of boxes, ready to trap any unwary prey. The spider must have been in one of the crates of her parent’s stuff. A few more were probably lurking around. She’d have to summon her courage and spray the place. Or ask Alex.

Shivering with revulsion, she pressed the toe of her shoe against the box, keen to give it a final shove and get back upstairs. A faint breeze brushed her cheek. Still jumpy, she twisted round. Her view of the corridor quickly narrowed, and the door clicked shut. Damn. The box was fine where it was. She took a first step then halted at a more ominous sound: of a key, the key she’d left in the lock, turning.

“Hey, stop that.”

She jolted forward. Bloody joker. The lights suddenly went out, stopping her dead. Claire sucked in her breath. She looked where the gap at the bottom of the door should be but instead of a comforting line of light, total darkness now surrounded her. She fought to stay calm. Bad enough having a power failure in her own flat with loads of people around, but not down here with some moron playing games.

“Let me out,” she yelled. A deep brooding silence was the only response. She held her hand out in front of her and took a tiny step. Her stomach lurched as she remembered the spider.

She shuffled forward till her fingers touched a hard surface. It should be the door, but it didn’t feel right. This felt like rough wood, and the door to her lockup was metal. Heart pounding, she moved her fingers to where the light switch ought to be. She felt a slight dip where the door ended and the wall began, but no sensation of smooth plaster. Only something cold and rough, like stone.

She frantically skimmed her shaking fingers across the alien surface. This was real, this was real, this was real.

A chain rattled behind her.

“Let me out. Let me out!” she shrieked.

The clanging of metal on stone grew more insistent. Now too, not just garlic, but a dreadful stink like something rotting down a sewer. A thousand tiny ice spiders crawled over her flesh. She cringed back against the wall as though, by some miracle, she could force herself through it. Something scurried over her foot and she flinched. Not a spider, heavier, like a rat.

Oh, dear God, no.

She screamed again. Louder this time.

As she slid to the floor, her heaving sobs couldn’t cover the pitiful cries for help from the middle of the room.

C S Alleyne grew up in Australia and originally trained as a hotel manager in the UK. After several postings in the Caribbean she changed tack and completed her MBA followed several years later by a PhD in Information Systems. She is a management consultant and also lectures in several universities.

With a lifelong love of reading, anything historical and a fascination with the supernatural and death, her vacations usually include visits to such places as the Pere La Chaise cemetery and the catacombs in Paris, the tombs in Egypt, the Popes' crypts in the Vatican and any church yard with gravestones - you get the picture...

Cheryl was inspired to write Belle Vue by her daily journey past a block of luxury apartments that had been converted from an old asylum. Like her protagonist, Alex Palmer, she started to investigate its past and learnt that one of the inmates was murdered there in the late 19th century. The victim's sister was hanged for the crime. Cheryl was also thrilled to discover the asylum's overgrown cemetery in her explorations of the area!

Belle Vue is her first, full length novel. Jonathan Myerson (Oscar nominated, Bafta and 4 Time Emmy winner) says he is 'blown away' by Belle Vue - 'I am hugely impressed by this novel - it's ambitious and daring and amazingly imaginative'.

Cheryl has a daughter and son-in-law who live nearby and a partner who, since reading Belle Vue, says he now sleeps with one eye open.

She is represented by Gandolfo Helin and Fountain Literary and Dramatic Rights Management.

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: #Surviving40 by Karen Anne

Title: #Surviving40
Author: Karen Anne
Publication Date: August 25th 2020

Print Length: 240 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Piper Quinn was more than ready to turn forty. So ready she began planning her Parisian celebration at thirty-five. That is until her life fell apart at thirty-nine. Left staring at divorce papers, Piper instantly regrets signing that pre-nup. How was she to know her husband would turn her in for a younger model?

After “accidentally” setting her Manhattan apartment on fire, Piper finds herself not only newly divorced, but newly homeless. Forced to move back home with her parents and take a job she doesn’t want, she soon discovers the gossip train in town moves faster than the subway system in New York—and she’s the hottest topic to leave the station. If matters weren’t bad enough, life in rural Connecticut seems downright claustrophobic when her sixteen year old daughter stops talking to her.

A blast from her past is the spark Piper needs to reignite her life. Owen Clarke, an old high school flame has the ability to turn back time making Piper feel sixteen again. The instant chemistry between them gives Piper hope of redeeming her second act. There’s only one teeny, tiny three foot problem: Owen’s daughter is in Piper’s Kindergarten class. With temptation lurking in every corner, Piper needs to put her emotions—and hormones— in check.

No one said getting older was easy, but turning forty just became a game of survival.

#SurvivalTip: If it looks like a date and feels like a's a date and you're just in denial.

Owen peeked at his watch before shoving his hands into his pockets. “I’m hungry. How about lunch? I know a great place in Litchfield. Can I kidnap you for a few more hours?”

I tossed him my car keys. “Sure, you can even drive.”

“A carjacking, too? You’re not going to even try to resist?”

“Not today.”

When Owen said he knew a place, I figured a place to grab a burger or a turkey wrap. I didn’t expect an Inn located on a vineyard. We sat outside at a table overlooking the grounds and rows upon rows of grapes. It was tranquil.

“Red or White?” Owen asked. The hostess had given him the wine menu of all the bottles they made here on the premises.

“Uhh, white sounds good.”

“Good choice. They have the best clams casino here. Maybe a riesling would pair well? They also have flights, so we could sample a few and then choose a bottle.”

I nodded. “Yeah, flights could be fun.”

It was dawning on me that this had all been carefully planned. Owen had turned a simple day of scoping out the gallery into our first date. Like a magician, he had unfolded his performance so naturally I wasn’t even aware I was wrapped up in the illusion until it was too late. I was in it now, a full participant. Not only was I unable to leave, I had no desire to. Damn he was slick! I knew I couldn’t even acknowledge the date. I had to pretend it was nothing more than friends having lunch, because a date would be breaking the rules, and if we started breaking the rules now, we’d never be able to stop.

Our meal was superb. Owen was right; the clams casino was delicious. He had the chicken cordon bleu for his entrée, and I went with the herb butter salmon. “Would you like dessert?” Owen asked, and although I knew picking coffees and desserts were his specialty, I shook my head.

“I think I’ve had enough sugar for today.” Everything we ate this afternoon was smeared in decadent glazes. “I’m content finishing this bottle of wine.”

Owen agreed and poured what remained of the bottle into both our glasses. “Let me get the check, and then we can take our glasses down by the lake.”

“I can’t let you pay for this.”

Owen flinched like I had pricked him with a pin. “Why not?”

“You know why not.”

“Piper, are you my friend?”

“Of course I am. What kind of a question is that?”

“Well, as my friend, can’t I take you out to celebrate your huge accomplishment? You have artwork hanging in a real gallery. Think about that for a minute. Buying you lunch is the least I could do to toast your good news.”

“I only even got the gallery because of you. All the more reason why I should be paying.”

“Lunch was my idea. The restaurant was my choice. The bill is mine to pay. Stop arguing with me.”

I opened my mouth to do just that, but closed it, deciding I shouldn’t argue with my kidnapper. Owen handed over his credit card and signed on the dotted line. Then we took our wine glasses over to the oversized Adirondack chairs to watch the sun set over the lake.

“This is pretty perfect,” I admitted. “My only regret is we’re almost out of wine.” There was one last mouthful left in my glass.

Owen dangled his arms over the sides of the armrest, his own glass almost empty as well. “If this were a date, we could order another bottle. We are conveniently at an Inn. No need to drive home. Then the town could all whisper about us as we rolled back into Stone Creek tomorrow dressed in the same outfits we left in.”

“How scandalous!” I feigned a gasp. “Good thing it’s not a date then.”

“Good thing.” Owen smiled and polished off the last of his wine. Yup. This was totally a date.

I dropped Owen off in front of Jitterbug. The shop was closed, but Sage was inside putting chairs on top of tables with Taylor. “I’ll send her out,” Owen said. “No need for her to stay any longer.”

“Are you sure? I could come back and get her when she’s done.”

“She looks pretty much done. Leaving a few minutes early isn’t a big deal.”

“Thanks again for coming with me this afternoon, and for lunch. It was a really nice time.”

“Well, if this was a date, I’d be glad you had a nice time.”

I laughed, and he unbuckled his seatbelt, moving a little closer to me.

“And if this was a date, I’d kiss you goodbye right about now.”

He did it again, paralyzing me with want. It was so unfair how easily he could turn a switch like that. I wanted nothing more than to fall into his arms and make out like we were teenagers, steaming up the car like Jack and Rose in Titanic. But Jack and Rose didn’t have a kid a few feet away who needed a ride home. So, instead, I said, “Have a good night, Owen.”

He chuckled in response. Chuckled. Was he aware of how frustrated I was? It must be nice to strut around swaddled in confidence. Owen got out of the car, a swagger to his step, and I blew out a hard breath. This was ridiculous. I was getting all hot and bothered over Owen Clarke. Owen, who was a lanky kid on the chess team and had a chin spotted with acne all through high school. Owen, who used to blush when he talked to me and was the kid I’d ask when I needed someone to explain Physics. Why was I acting this way?

Sage jogged across the street with her apron in her hand. “How was work?” I asked, trying to knock the image of Owen taunting me with a kiss out of my head.
Karen Anne was writing before she could read. As a toddler, she sat with a book in her hands and made up the stories, eager for the day when she'd find out if it all truly ended in happily ever after. Karen still determines the destiny of other people's lives, but this time, the characters are her own.

She is a Contemporary Romance author who lives in New York.

Coffee drinker by day, wine enthusiast by night, she loves cats and deeply misses 90's grunge.

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