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Archive for the ‘Guest author’ Category

Friday Feature

Be a little devilish with

Dominique Eastwick

and her delicious luncheon treat.

DOM’S DEVILED EGG SALAD

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
4 tbsp. mayonnaise (Dukes is the only kind for our home)
1 tsp. mustard
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, Real Lemon works too
1 pinch dill weed
Himalayan Pink Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sprinkle of paprika
Chives, snipped – optional

Set eggs in a saucepan, cover with water and a lid. Bring pan to a boil on medium heat. Boil for 5 – 6 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water before you peel the eggs.

While they are cooling mix mayo, mustard, lemon juice, dill weed, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.

Chop, dice, or slice eggs and then gently mix into the other ingredients. Sprinkle with a little paprika. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Serve on toast, bread, or crackers.

Enjoy!

Here’s a little from one of my romantic erotica books for your reading pleasure.

Love doesn’t come easy and sometimes when it does come it isn’t strong enough to weather the storm. That is what Jonathon Edward Railey, Eighth Viscount of Aunton, found out the hard way. With his burden of family debt and eight younger brothers to feed, what woman would stick around?

Miss Isabel Hathaway might have loved the viscount once, but she would be damned if she would allow him to marry her for her money. Better to have never loved at all then to have him bought.

When fate throws them together again, will the love they once had be enough to see them through a new storm? Or are they destined to a life of want and heartbreak?


Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pastimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

Stay connected on Twitter, Tublr, and Pinterest.

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Friday Features’

Guest shares

an exciting Romantic Suspense

from

Nancy Kay

that you won’t want to miss. A well written book with characters that are real and a plot that keeps you intrigued.

Delilah Wyeth and Kevin McClain face tough choices.

Can Delilah give up her trendy career to run a chocolate shop? Is there room for more than law enforcement in Kevin’s life?

Ten years ago their lives took separate paths.

Delilah sought a career in New York City; Kevin entered the state police academy. But when Delilah inherits Cocoa Treat’s Chocolate, danger trails the cool city ad exec back to their hometown.

Kevin admires the cool, professional woman Lilah’s become, but he misses the feisty girl he once knew. Though he vows to uncover why fear lurks in Lilah’s lovely eyes, his less than stellar ancestry haunts him, and he struggles to keep his hands off her tempting body.

Lilah faces a life-altering choice. Precious memories pull her to stay and convince Kevin he deserves more in his life than a badge and a gun, but if she abandons her smooth-talking, manipulative New York supervisor she fears her decision will trigger a deadly reaction.

Her decision turns Lilah’s fear to reality, and more than duty drives Kevin as he races to save her life.

EXCERPT

He ignored the first high-pitched yowl, savoring cheese that burned the roof of his mouth. But the unearthly squalls continued, like nails on a friggin’ blackboard. Why did the damn cat come here? Yeah, sure. He’d saved his furry butt, once. Didn’t mean he’d make a career rescuing dumb cats.

Long drawn-out pitiful cries continued, increasing in volume. Then an ominous thump and rattle made Kevin shove the last bite into his mouth. He stomped to the door. Fourteen pounds of agitated feline hung on his screen door.

“Dammit.” He pushed the door open, and the cat tried to jump down, but his huge claws were hooked in the tight mesh of Kevin’s newly-refurbished door. Truffle hung there, voicing his complaints.
“Hold still,” Kevin ordered, as the cat struggled like a hooked trout. He gripped Truffle’s compact body and lifted. When the claws released, Kevin set him down. “Now shoo. Go home,” he said, expecting the cat to take off like a rocket.

No such luck. With big gold eyes gleaming in the porch light, Truffle continued his ungodly tirade, pacing, tail twitching.

Kevin stood, hands on hips, scowling down at the cat’s weird behavior. He glanced around. What the hell was upsetting this guy? Darkness shrouded the area, and the only sound, other than Truffle, was the evening breeze whispering through branches overhead.

He scrutinized the Wyeth A-frame. Narrowing his eyes, he studied the scene below. Lights blazed, which he’d discovered over the past few days was normal for Lilah. The small SUV of her grandmother’s was parked in its usual spot. What sent a quick tingle up his spine, were the two unknown vehicles parked alongside the SUV.

The cat stretched up and planted both front paws on Kevin’s leg. Kevin reached down and picked him up. “Something up, fella?” He scratched beneath the cat’s chin, which usually brought loud purrs and cuddles. Not this time. Wide gold eyes locked on Kevin’s. Unblinking and motionless, the cat in his arms remained stiff as a board.

He strode to the state car, slid in behind the wheel, and put Truffle in the passenger seat. “Don’t tear up the seats,” he warned. “It’ll be my ass if you do.”

The engine roared to life, and after a fast three-point turn, they headed down Kevin’s driveway. When he made the sharp turn to Lilah’s place, he glanced down at the cat.

Truffle placed his front paws on the dash and stared straight ahead.

Kevin grinned. “You’re more alert than some guys I’ve worked with, pal.” He turned his attention to the mid-sized car directly in front of him. It bore New York plates and the earmarks of a rental.

“Wait here, partner,” he said, and ran a gentle hand down the cat’s body. “I’ll let you know if I need back-up.”


Nancy Kay resides near Lake Erie in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, a former member of the Marines and the Pennsylvania State Police Department who provides valuable insight for her stories. Nancy is a long time member of Romance Writers of America. Her stories are set in small towns and inland communities scattered along the shores of the Great Lakes. They focus on romance, intertwined with the love of hearth, home, and family. Yet, they are sprinkled with suspense, danger, and intrigue. Learn more about Nancy on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest shares about

coping with emotional and physical pain

by

Tina Griffith

My husband of 25 years passed away in 2003, and I was lost and sad. I began a journal as a way to cope with the emotional and physical pain that coursed through me, and while that helped, I was never rid of the sting of losing him.

A friend of mine read my scribbles, and decided to get my story published. At that point, I didn’t even know there was a story, let alone sell. Three years later, my married friends pushed me onto the dating sites. I wasn’t serious about finding someone. But as I went through the process, I documented everything, and again, my friend loved the story and had it published. She continued to do this with all of my stories, until she moved to a different province in Canada. After that I was alone and fell into a state of writer’s block.

I met Alberto in 2010. He turned out to be the beacon of light that I needed. We were married in 2011, and he is my best friend and my inspiration to carry on.

Before we met, I had written six romance novels and twenty-seven children’s books. Since he and I have been together, I’ve written six more romance novels and two more children’s books. I continue to write my novels under my pen name, Tina Griffith.

But I now use my married name, Tina Nykulak Ruiz, for my children’s books. That way, all of my novels will be featured on the same page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other well-known venues like this.

Alberto recognized that while romance was the main theme in all of my novels, there were also elements of murder, mystery, and intrigue. When I was about to start writing a new book in January of 2018, he asked me to forgo everything but the romance. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I set out to try.

I thrive on the excitement when the police come into the story, and I dwell on how the victims get killed. This is not something my husband is fond of.

A friend of mine posted a song on FB (the Caruso Song), and I couldn’t stop watching it. The vibe, the elegance, the beauty, and the romantic tones of the music, sent my heart reeling. I then looked up what the song was about, and watched it again by other artists. After that, I was hooked. Romance was going to be the only theme in my new story, and I vowed to make it heartbreaking, soulful, and delightfully spicy.

The Elusive Mr. Velucci turned out to be painfully raw with emotion, mesmerizing to the sentimental part of your soul, and captivating enough to make you lose track of time. I still cry when I read the passage where Sadie and Enrico are on the dock and they have to say good-bye to each other. I know how the story goes because I wrote it, but I have tears in my eyes and goose bumps on my arms when I read that part. And when I turn to the last page of the book, I can already feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck, because I am anticipating how the story will end. To me, it’s my best book ever!

My husband is very proud that I wrote a book on nothing but romance, and he encourages me to write more books like that. However, his wish is not always my reality. I thrive on the excitement of danger, mystery, and getting the police involved, and I dwell on how the victims are killed, which is not something my husband is fond of. All those elements are present in the story I am currently writing.

The Elusive Mr. Velucci is dedicated to my husband, Alberto Ruiz – the man who has renewed my faith in love, encouragement, and support on every level. He is the reason I am smile now, for he is the main character in my last chapter of life.

This excerpt is after their one night of passion, and before Enrico must board the ship back to Italy. I hope you enjoy it.

Enrico and Sadie were now standing alone, and it was their turn to say good-bye. They faced each other, he took her hands in his, and he spoke in an extremely compassionate tone.

“I didn’t realize how much you would mean to me when we first met”, he whispered with total sincerity. His eyes had filled up and he could hardly see, and with everything in his soul, he very much wanted to stay right where he was. He was miserable because he knew he couldn’t, so he promised to come back as soon as possible.

“Enrico”, she whimpered, as she looked lovingly into his eyes. Her voice had a gentle softness to it, with undertones of abandonment. She wanted to say a thousand more words, but they got stuck in her throat.

“I know”, he revealed, in a voice that was fragile and shaking. It was quite evident to everyone around them, that he wasn’t prepared to say good-bye to the beautiful girl standing in front of him. He brought his forehead forward until it was touching hers, and they cried with immense fear that they would never see each other again.

An announcement came over the P.A., which stated that all passengers must get checked in. It was in that moment when Enrico knew in his heart, that no miracle was coming and that he would have to leave. He pulled his head back from hers and looked deep into Sadie’s unhappy eyes. He had not expected to fall in love, and now he could feel his own heart breaking.

Enrico placed both of his hands against the sides of her face, and slowly closed his eyes. With all the love he had inside of him, he kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her nose, and then her mouth. It baffled him that this woman had provided him with the absolute need to love another living soul, for he would not have guessed that to be possible. He wanted to hold her, take care of her, know her whereabouts, and love her for the rest of his life, but he could not; he had waited too long to change the course of his immediate future.

Enrico was becoming frustrated that he had taken eight months to get to know her, but he had only had six hours to really love her. He pulled her body closer to his, and then held on tight. ‘If only I had known or acted sooner…’ he whispered.
Enrico needed to go, so he ended their embrace as hurriedly as it had begun.

A flash of wild grief suddenly ripped through her soul, as Sadie realized the true reality of what was happening. “Enrico!” she cried from every pore in her body. Her eyes were begging him to stay, while her heart was breaking into a million pieces. The whole thing suddenly felt very real, and severe panic began to fill every fiber of her being.

Enrico examined her face and he knew what she wanted. “I’ll be back”, he assured her, in a voice that was both soft and trying to stay strong. He picked up his suitcase with one hand, and he placed something in her hand with the other.

Without looking to see what it was, she swaddled the object safely in the palm of her hand, while keeping her eyes locked with his.

Enrico twisted his upper body to face his family and shouted, “Good-bye everyone!” He turned around to take one more look into the face of his beloved Sadie, and then he began to walk away.

“No!” she shouted loudly. The simple word dissolved into the air like a crispy leaf in the fall.

Enrico hadn’t gotten very far, and now it was him who was falling apart. He took one more look in her direction, put his hand to his mouth, and blew her a kiss. “Bye for now!” he said quietly. As he faced forward again, he began to cry. Not full-out crying like a small child who had gotten hurt on the playground, but a grown man’s frustration and enormous displeasure of things that he couldn’t fix or change.

Nothing in her mind or body was able to let him go, and now Sadie felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her muscles were paralyzed and she was experiencing numbness all over. Her eyebrows were raised, her eyes were wide open, and a look of extreme anxiety shot across her face.

While Enrico was moving his feet, he was trying to hide his appearance from the other travelers. He was utterly depressed and having a hard time forcing his emotions to stay down. He tried to make it look like he was holding back a sneeze rather than a flood of tears, but when one or two drops of salty water leaked out from their moist environment, Enrico wiped them off of his face with the sleeve of his right arm and kept going.

Sadie had been watching the man she loves walk away, and with an incredible amount of courage, she boldly took a few steps towards him. “En-ri-co!” She shouted his name as she extended her left hand far in front of her body, but he didn’t turn around. With sheer desperation gushing from the very core of her soul, she wanted to run after him, to hold him one last time, but she knew she couldn’t; their time was up.

Enrico heard her calling him, but he couldn’t bear to turn around again; he knew that if he saw her, he would run back into her arms and he would never let go. Instead, he made himself a promise to return to New York as soon as he could.

Sadie stood frozen in her tracks, while anxiety guided her every thought. She watched Enrico, as he continued to walk in a hurried pace, and she wanted him to come back. “Enrico”, she sighed, with little air passing through her trembling lips. “I love you.” Her head was bent in sorrow while the world was crashing down around her.

After Enrico boarded the large vessel, he made sure to stand on the very end of the large deck. He was facing her, but they were so far apart. His hand leaped high into the air and swayed back and forth, as he watched her wave back to him. He could tell that she was beckoning him to come back, and it was killing him that he couldn’t.

Sadie’s heart leaped in her chest when she saw him. “Enrico!” she called loudly. She saw him waving, and she waved back with as much energy as she could muster. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the handsome man, who only hours ago, had made passionate love to her. “I’m here!” she cried. Her voice had cracked and was full of raw emotion.

Enrico’s face was wearing the biggest smile of his life, and he waved with all of his might. “Sadie!” he called, as if she could hear him.

“Enrico!” she shouted. She knew in that instance that he was the man who she would love for the rest of her life.

The ship blew its horn a few times, and then it slowly pulled away from the dock.

“No!” she screamed, as her body went into an even bigger panic mode. Tears were trickling down her moist and flushed cheeks, as her soul was being smashed into a thousand different pieces. “Please don’t leave!” she pleaded at the top of her lungs. She was yelling with as much force as she had in her body, and was stunned that no-one was looking in her direction. ‘Why were they not helping me get him back?’ she wondered wildly.

“Sadie!” Enrico called, but the sound of his words were not as clear anymore. “I love you!” he added happily. “Can you hear me?”

With all the noise that was around her, Sadie’s ears didn’t get to receive his tender words. “How will I go on without you?” she cried, while choking on her own tears. Her heart was in her throat, her will to live had been taken away, and now there was a horrible, empty ache in her soul.

“Enrico!” Sadie shouted at full volume. She continued to step closer and closer to the edge of the platform, as the ship appeared to go further and further away from the shore. “No-o-o-o-o!” she screamed, as if that would somehow stop what was happening.

With each moment that passed, their hearts were growing heavier with the sadness that was now weighing them down. Minute-by-minute, their emotional pain was getting worse, and almost an hour later, the ship was nothing more than a mere dot on the large body of water.

Sadie had fallen to her knees before the ship had totally disappeared, and it was then when she discovered what Enrico had placed in her closed fist – a beautiful silver locket. On the left side of the elaborately engraved heart, was a picture of Enrico. On the right, was a picture of her.

AMAZON BUY LINKS E-BOOK PAPERBACK

Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The ever-engaging Sloane Taylor bringing us her latest recipe for comfort.

There comes a time when everyone needs a little comfort food. Lovely hot soup with fresh bread and a glass of wine always does it for me. Maybe this recipe will do it for you, too.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Photo Courtesy of Monovareni Pixabay

2 lbs. fresh asparagus
6 cups chicken stock
7 tbsp. butter
½ cup flour
3 tbsp. shallots or scallions, chopped fine
¼ cup dry sherry
2 egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter, softened
White pepper to taste*

Slice off the asparagus tips and set aside. Trim off ¼ inch or so from the bottom ends of the stalks and discard. Chop the rest of the spears into ½ inch lengths.

Use a medium-sized saucepan to bring the chicken stock to a boil. Drop in the tips and lower temp to medium-low or soft boil. Cook tips until just tender, 5 – 8 minutes. Drain the stock into a bowl and spoon the tips into another one.

Melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a 4 -5 quart saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in the flour. Lower heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Be careful not to let this roux brown or the soup will be bitter.

Remove pan from heat, let cool 30 seconds or so. Pour in stock. Stir constantly with a whisk to thoroughly blend the stock and roux. Return pan to moderate heat and stir until this soup base comes to a boil, thickens, and is smooth. Lower the temperature and simmer gently.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. When the foam subsides, stir in the stalks and shallots. Toss them in the butter over low heat for 4 minutes or so. You only want to soften them so don’t allow them to brown. Stir this mixture into the soup base, add sherry, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until asparagus is tender.

Purée soup in a blender or food processor. Pour into a strainer set over the pot. Stir with a spoon or spatula to extract soup from the pulp. Discard pulp.

Whisk the egg yolks into the cream. Stir in 5 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added about ¾ cup. Reverse the process and slowly whisk the now-warm mixture into the soup.**

Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and season with pepper if necessary. Add the asparagus tips.

Serve from a tureen or in individual bowls.

This recipe makes 6 bowls.

*No need to buy white pepper if you don’t have it. Use black pepper only a little more as it is not as strong as white pepper.
**This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the yolks and cream will curdle.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor currently has seven romance novellas released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Date Night Dinners, her Couples Cookbook with eighty of her favorite recipes, is Taylor’s first solo venture into non-fiction.

Excerpts from her books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page.
Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

comparing picture puzzle to pieces of a cozy mystery.

by

Janis Lane

For me, pulling together the pieces of a cozy mystery dictates the same patience as a family working a picture puzzle. The other day I listened to my daughter teach her young son a technique.

“First,” she said, “we look for the straight edges. That tells us how far the picture (or story) can go. See? The waterfall ends right here. Next we look for colors that tell us something about the center of the puzzle. Isn’t this dark blue part of someone’s skirt? And here is another piece the same color. Now we have half a person. There’s a lot of red. Perhaps it’s a different person. (Our characters.) Perhaps that light blue is the sky (setting). Are there green trees? (Summer) Is that grass? Is there a storm in the sky?” (Trouble looms.)

Step by step an author pieces together clues to make a whole. Especially important for a mystery is the process that leads us finally to the answer of the ultimate puzzle. Who did it? How do we catch them? How can we keep innocent people from harm?

Especially important for a mystery is the process that leads us finally to the answer of the ultimate puzzle. Who did it? How do we catch them? How can we keep innocent people from harm?

Murder on Blake Hill is the third in the series of Detective Kevin Fowler Mysteries. In this story we join a group of neighbors and friends who all live in a small town in typical American fashion. When certain events go awry, the detective starts to systematically pair clues and events with a time line to solve the puzzle. On the way we can enjoy the interaction of our favorite characters as they live and love in this particular setting (the edge pieces). With the richness of an exquisitely woven tapestry, we join in sharing their emotions: happy, exciting, and sad. Sometimes they are frightened and other times filled with astonishment.

The detective has gained the trust of the townspeople and feels the pressure to find the answer to the puzzle. Who is the disruptive visitor at the church barbecue? How do we catch a stalker? Are we finally going to enjoy a wedding celebration? Who killed two old men up on Blake Hill Cemetery and why?

Detective Kevin Fowler is baffled by the wall of silence that greets him from the relatives of two septuagenarians whose bodies are discovered in a country cemetery called Blake Hill. Even more upsetting is the unusual rash of vandalism reported nightly by the citizens in his peaceful community. Have the teenagers declared an uprising? Night patrols reveal a totally unexpected and shocking situation. When a poignant secret is revealed, Beverly Hampton weeps over the sadness of a long ago tragedy, but soon wedding bells are heard for the home town princess and the popular detective. At the local diner the alluring fragrance of fresh-baked, cinnamon sticky buns continues to reign over the peaceful citizens of Hubbard, New York.

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Gina Briganti brings us an aphrodisiac lesson and recipe.

Artichokes were a favored aphrodisiac of Catherine de Medici and Henry VIII. They were considered so powerful that they were allowed for men only, which de Medici defied. It was scandalous for a woman to eat artichokes in the 16th century.

Pine nuts have been used in love potions for centuries because they are high in zinc and are valued as an aphrodisiac because of that mineral.

Chile Peppers raise your heart rate, bringing a flush to your skin, lips, and libido. Hubba hubba.

This is a recipe for seduction.

So smooth you can tip a warm bowl of this aphrodisiac-filled soup to your lover’s lips on a cold night and light your fires.

LOVERS SOUP

2 cups cooked artichoke hearts or quarters
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup pine nuts
1 tsp. hot sauce (more, if you want it hotter)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Stir until mixed. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until artichokes are soft.

Transfer soup to a high-speed blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Strain the soup with a fine sieve.

Serve with warm, crispy, buttered bread.

Lovers Soup was inspired by this scene with Carter and Brittany from my latest paranormal romance.

Natural Gifts…where fate gets a good name.

Brittany has shy down to an art. Maybe she needs a push. It’s been years already!
Jack is stubborn personified. Push, push, push.
Jason is having the time of his life in college. All those beautiful women. Ha ha. Not the plan.
Rowan is convinced that his soulmate didn’t incarnate with him in this lifetime. Surprise!

Forget slow and steady, fate has plans for these four couples!

There’s no looking back now.

There are No Yesterdays.

“Don’t remind me.” He put his hand over his eyes. “I had no idea you were staying away from me because you were sick. How’d you like that spinach soup I made for you?”

“No one knew, Carter. I like the soup. I eat it all the time. I even made a batch, and you know what? It’s better than yours.” She pinched his calf.

“You got your spunk back. Maybe more than I ever knew was missing.” He cocked an eyebrow, waiting for her to say whether or not the whole time they’d been together she wasn’t entirely herself.

When she didn’t answer he went on. “Now, about this vacation. I’m allowed to treat you to a few days in a place you’ve never been, right? Let’s pick somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and just go. You have two weeks off. I can take time off. Dana said she’d cover me.”

“A cabin in the woods, no, let’s go to Vegas, or, hmmm, we could go to New York. I’ve always wanted to see it.” She flopped down on the bed next to him, then sprang back up. “Carter, I love you so much! A vacation, a real, honest, vacation.”

Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Visit her website and blog for book trailers, newsletter sign up, and whatever else she thinks up.

Stay connected on Facebook, Gina’s Amazon Author Page, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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Friday Features’

Guest

Anne Montgomery

talks about

Eyebrow Envy

Film siren Elizabeth Taylor had the art of the eyebrow down pat.

When I was a teen, I had rather thick eyebrows. While beauties like Elizabeth Taylor rocked alluring broad brows, the trend was starting to fade by the 70’s, so I would suffer some brow cruelty, initially afflicted upon me by a well-coiffed woman wielding a pair of weaponized tweezers.

When I was 17, I was awarded a scholarship to the John Robert Powers Modeling School, an unwanted prize my mother hoped would make me more feminine. Note that she truly wanted a girly-girl, one who would take delight in being swathed in dresses and heels. Clearly, since I favored jeans and sweatshirts and tended to clomp around like a Clydesdale on those rare occasions I was forced into pumps, I wasn’t fulfilling that dream.

The only thing I remember about my stint at modeling school was that I hated it. All these years later, I have virtually no recollection of what I did while attending those classes, the memories a black hole save for one miserable moment.

A poised, splendidly-attired woman strode to the front of the room, gliding on pointed heels, chin up, eyes wide. “Today’s lesson will be on the importance of properly maintaining one’s eyebrows,” she said prettily.

I recall being bored, longing to be outside somewhere, as she held up those silver tweezers. Then, she pointed one manicured hand my way and waved me to the front of the room. She smiled, an expression that, in hindsight, bore a sadistic hint. After ushering me to a chair, she disparaged my brows, explaining that such wanton neglect was unacceptable.

I froze as she brought the tweezers close to my right eye, and winced as she plucked. Throughout her lesson, she continued to yank at my offending brow as if to place emphasis on her syrupy words.

Looking back, I can’t reckon why I allowed her to persist. I also can’t figure why she picked me. It’s not like I had something Fridaesque sprawled across my forehead or a set of brows like Mr. Spock.

While it was perfectly acceptable for an alien from Vulcan to sport such expressive brows, for a 17-year-old girl in the ’70s, not so much.

When she finished, she motioned to my sore, red brow, assured the students that the tinge would soon fade, then placed the tweezers in my hand and instructed me to pluck the other brow myself. While I was relieved the assault had stopped, the thought of using the tool on myself made me queasy. Because memories mercifully fade, I don’t recall how I ultimately handled those mismatched brows.

Years later, while working at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, my beleaguered brows took another hit. Since the newscast was in progress, I was the only one in the newsroom when the phone rang. The woman caller wanted to know if I would get a message to that woman sportscaster. Without revealing my identity, I assured her I would.

“Tell her that I hate her eyebrows,” she said.

What propelled a viewer to take the time to make such a call, I cannot say. What I recall was hustling to the make-up mirror and staring at my eyebrows for a very long time.

I have learned that, as we age, our eyebrows naturally thin. Strangely, I am a bit wistful at what I’ve lost, especially considering that the tide has again turned. I read that fashion folks say we are currently in the decade of the eyebrow. YouTube has half-a-million tutorials on how to perfect your brows, and there are brow tattooing and transplants and tinting and threading, for those who suffer eyebrow envy.

I wonder if such procedures are painful, and then think of the woman with the tweezers and the brow beating she inflicted. I don’t think I’ve forgiven her, yet. Can you blame me?

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil as local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters arrive on the scene. As the search for the saboteurs heats up and the authorities question members of the cult, they uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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