More Than Words First Chapter

Friday, December 1, 2017 No comments
 

Chapter One

"I'm sorry, you want me to what?"

There has to be cotton in my ear. Or maybe I blasted My Chemical Romance too long in the car on my way here today. Perhaps she was mumbling and the words she said became misconstrued in my head. There's no way Jamie just asked me what I think she asked me.

She frowns and clears her throat. "I need you to write an erotic novel."

I didn't misunderstand what she said. Her words were clear as crystal that time. "Um...Why do you need this from me?"

She takes off her glasses, setting them on a stack of papers on the desk. "Our ghostwriter for Juliet Oliver just quit before turning in her latest submission. She was already well past deadline, but we thought she'd pull through at the last second. Unfortunately, she didn't. Now we're in a bind and scrambling to find someone to write a new story while we find her replacement."

I realize their predicament. If a writer goes too far past the deadline, it creates even weightier deadlines for the publisher. What doesn't make sense is where I fit in. I may have been writing and publishing with Gravity Lit for three years, but this request is way out in left field. "Couldn't, I don't know, Gina do it? This is more up her alley than mine." Gina's stories fall into the category of romantic suspense and wouldn't be complete without at least one romp in the sheets.

She shakes her head. "I already checked with her. She's too pressed for time completing final edits on her next release to squeeze it in."

"I don't..." I press my lips together for a second. "I'm not sure I'm able to write that sort of thing."

"What, sex?"

"Well, yeah." My stories are more along the lines of clean romances. You know, the ones full of self-discovery, small towns, and a new-old love that turns into a happily ever after. There are a few kisses, but they barely register on the steamy scale.

Jamie leans forward. "Look, I get it. It's not your usual kind of story writing, but you're an amazing writer, Dana. You have the potential to be able to cross genres seamlessly. It's a lot like your stories. The only difference is the sex."

Not just sex—lots of sex. And dirty talk. And euphemisms for penises that make you cringe.

I take a long look at her and can tell it hasn't been a good day. Her messy fire-red hair is wrapped up in an even messier bun with pieces flying in every direction. It always looks worse at the end of the day—even more so when it's a bad day. I concede with a sigh. "What exactly do you need for this story?"

She puts her glasses back on and opens a file. "The Juliet Oliver stories run between forty- and fifty-thousand words, give or take." She skims down the page with her finger. "There's always a strong female main character, but her job varies, as do the suitors. There are usually no specifics to go by for what kind of protagonist and love interest."

I lean back in my chair and think it over. The requirements don't sound too difficult. I could probably throw together a story easily enough. The hardest part will be the sex scenes. I've never written one before, not even for fun. Not that I'm unfamiliar with lady porn—I have read a few—but reading it and writing it are completely different matters.

I open my mouth to speak, but Jamie cuts me off. "There's just one catch."

"What?"

"We already released a synopsis."

"Oh. What is it?" She hands me the paper and when I read it my eyes widen. Apparently, there are more expectations than she hinted at. Given the specifics mentioned in the synopsis, there's very little wiggle room. Maybe I could manage, given enough time. "When's the deadline?"

"Two weeks."

"Two weeks?" I squeak. "Write forty- to fifty-thousand words in two weeks?" Even National Novel Writing Month doesn't expect this much from writers.

She shrugs. "Give or take."

I would have to be crazy to accept this assignment, even if broadening my horizons does sound somewhat intriguing. Since I'm between projects, it's the perfect mental change of scenery. But two weeks? I don't think I can pull it off.

However, the way Jamie looks at me now makes me realize exactly how desperate they are. If I say no, her hair's going to be far worse tomorrow. Nobody wants to witness that.

There may be only one way to make the decision. I ask, "What do I get if I say yes?"

"We'll pay you double your usual advance."

Without hesitation, I say, "I'll do it."

~*~

"I can't do it." I rest my forehead on the bar and groan. It's the following Friday night and my best friend, Ivy, just yanked me from the confines of my apartment. "I can't believe I told her I could. I'm going to call her and tell her I can't." I sit up in my seat and pull out my phone. The sooner I tell her, the better.

Ivy grabs the phone from my hands and shoves it back in my purse. "Don't you dare give up now! You'll do fine. You're Dana Darling, master of the written word."

I laugh. "I don't know about that." I've been at it for exactly one week, writing day and night. I have the bulk of the story written...but no sex scenes. I've hit a block. The first writer's block I've had in a long time. I'm too afraid to keep going. "I'm not sure if I'm qualified."

"You're an exceptional writer, of course you're qualified."

I shake my head. "No, not that. I know I can write; I just don't know how to write those scenes." The plot involves my protagonist, Melodie, getting lessons on sex from her brother's best friend, Michael. The banter is easy enough to throw together, but when they're about to get down to business, I freeze like a deer in headlights.

"What scenes?" I give her a look and she smirks. "Oh, those scenes." She brushes me off. "All you have to do is go by your own experience and you'll be golden."

I cringe. "I don't have a lot of experience in that regard." My actual firsthand sexual knowledge is extremely limited. I may be twenty-three, but I've only had two serious boyfriends, both of whom weren't remarkable or imaginative in the bedroom. The majority of what I know about sex comes from the few romance novels I've read in my life. Even the pile of Juliet Oliver paperbacks piled on my desk haven't really helped.

Ivy tucks a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear. "You've had sex though, so you know how it works."

"This story calls for several scenes involving varying positions."

"Okay...so?"

I close my eyes and let out a breath. I whisper, "I've only ever done...one position."

Her jaw drops and a choked sound comes from her throat. "Get out! You...you haven't even been on top?"

I give a shy shrug. "Never had the opportunity."

"What do you mean 'opportunity'? You just climb on top."

"Oh good God." Sometimes I forget how bold Ivy is until she comes right out and states it so plainly.

"Are you blushing?" I shake my head no, but touch my cheek to cover it. She tsks me and says, "Honey, you shouldn't be afraid of stepping outside the box."

"I'm not. I just never had a guy willing to."

"Then you need to find one and get to work."

"You did not just suggest I start hooking up with a guy for research."

"I didn't, but now that you mention it..."

I smack her arm and laugh. "That'll be the day."

"I'm serious."

My smile fades away. "Wait, you are?"

"Yeah, why not? Could be good for you," she says with a shrug.

"I don't do sex with no strings." Not just don't—I can't. I'm not good at separating the two. Sex happens when I feel love, not because I want to have fun. "I don't misbehave."

"You should. Playing it safe is why you're so scared of writing this book. Being 'good' is boring. Predictable."

"I don't want to be boring and predictable."

"Then misbehave," she says with a grin. She snaps her fingers. "I've got it. Find a guy to help guide you through the positions without actually doing the act."

"Like a sex position buddy?" I guess that's not a bad idea exactly, but what guy would be willing to practice sex positions without having sex? "Where do I find one?"

Ivy shrugs. "I just come up with the ideas, not the details. You'll have to figure that part out on your own." She downs the last of her drink. "I gotta jet. We have an early morning flight and need to finish packing before we get to bed." She and her fiancé, Wesley, are visiting his parents in Alabama for a few days. It's the first time they've gone back since the engagement, so Sal and Margaret are very excited to see their future daughter-in-law.

When she stands, she towers over me. Ivy's height is just under six feet, which is nine inches taller than I am. She has to lean down to give me a hug. She gives my arm a quick squeeze with her hand before she lets go. "Hang in there. You'll figure it out."

"Thanks, doll. Have a safe trip."

"Always do."

I wave goodbye to her and turn back to my drink. I'm not going to find my answer at the bottom of another vodka cranberry. I need to get home and stare at a computer screen, praying for the words to come. How am I so inexperienced? Why haven't I bothered to assert myself in the bedroom? I know I can be a bit shy at times, but still. I had a small circle of friends all through college that included Ivy and my first boyfriend, Finn. My relationship with him was nice, but we had little in common outside some classes, mutual friends, and physical attraction. I didn't realize until after it ended that there was no substance to it.

When my phone buzzes, I'm thankful for the distraction. It's Landon, my writer friend. We met at a coffee shop several months back. I was struggling with the words for a scene in my last book and he leaned over from the table next to me and asked if I needed some help. Two lattes later and we became the best of friends. It was a welcome change of pace to have someone in real life to talk with about writing.

"Howdy stranger," I say.

"Hey! I'm glad I caught you. Did you turn in my manuscript?"

About a month ago, he asked me if I could get his latest novel in the hands of a publisher. "Of course I did."

"And?"

"And, I don't know. Joel said he'd finish reading it this weekend. He did tell me he likes it so far."

"Oh, thank God." The relief in his voice makes me smile. "I was worried it wouldn't meet his expectations."

"You have nothing to worry about. I read it first, remember? Joel trusts my instincts and I have great ones. You'll do just fine Landon Sinclair, most-likely-very-soon-to-be published author."

"I owe you big time, Darling. Like huge."

"You don't owe me anything."

"Nope. I owe you something. Dinner, a gift card, movie tickets. Anything."

Hearing the word "anything" causes me to straighten in my seat. My head swirls with an idea—one I probably shouldn't be thinking. I can't help it though. Ivy put it there. "Anything?"

"Name it and it's yours."

"I wouldn't be so quick to say yes."


| Add to your Goodreads shelf |
| Purchase on Amazon |

Sweet & Steamy Giveaway -- Hosted by Sunrise Author Services #giveaway

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 No comments

Welcome to the Sweet & Steamy Giveaway,
hosted by Sunrise Author Services!

Hiiiiiii! I'm joined by 21 other authors in the first newsletter giveaway hosted by my author services company, Sunrise Author Services!

The grand prize for the giveaway is a $100 Gift Card to Amazon or B&N (winner's choice) AND a bunch of e-copies of books written by the authors in the giveaway!

Here are all the amazing authors participating in this giveaway:

| Alexa Padgett | Alicia Kobishop | Brenda St John Brown |
| Charlize Starr | Cheryl Phipps | Chiquita Dennie |
| J. Saman | J.J. Bella | Jessica Sankiewicz | Julia Imari |
| Juno Chase | Kinsey Corwin | Lilly Avalon |
| Marie Landry | Mercedes Siler | PJ Fiala | R.M. Gauthier |
| Robin Laine | Sherri Hayes | Simone Leigh |
| Suzanne Jenkins | Tamara Ferguson | Taylor Marsh |

Be sure to follow them on their social media pages:

Alexa Padgett ~ Twitter | Facebook 
Alicia Kobishop ~ Twitter | Facebook
Brenda St John Brown ~ Twitter | Facebook 
Charlize Starr ~ Twitter | Facebook 
Cheryl Phipps ~ Twitter | Facebook
Chiquita Dennie ~ Twitter | Facebook 
J. Saman ~ Twitter | Facebook 
J.J. Bella ~ Twitter | Facebook
Jessica Sankiewicz ~ Twitter | Facebook
Julia Imari ~ Twitter | Facebook
Juno Chase ~ Twitter | Facebook
Kinsey Corwin ~ Twitter | Facebook
Lilly Avalon ~ Twitter | Facebook
Marie Landry ~ Twitter | Facebook
PJ Fiala ~ Twitter | Facebook 
Mercedes Siler ~ Twitter | Facebook
R.M. Gauthier ~ Twitter | Facebook
Robin Laine ~ Twitter | Facebook
Sherri Hayes ~ Twitter | Facebook
Simone Leigh ~ Twitter | Facebook
Suzanne Jenkins ~ Twitter | Facebook
Tamara Ferguson ~ Twitter | Facebook
Taylor Marsh ~ Twitter | Facebook

What books could you possibly win?

  1. A Brit on the Side by Brenda St. John Brown
  2. Antonio and Sabrina Struck In Love by Chiquita Dennie
  3. Behind Closed Doors by Sherri Hayes
  4. Below the Beltway by Taylor Marsh
  5. Beltway Betrayers by Taylor Marsh
  6. Between Breaths by Alexa Padgett
  7. Bittersweets Brenda and Larry by Suzanne Jenkins
  8. Bittersweets Terry and Alex by Suzanne Jenkins
  9. Christmas Miracle in July by R.M.Gauthier
  10. Christmas Miracle on Valentine's Day by R.M.Gauthier
  11. Christmas Miracle on Easter by R.M.Gauthier
  12. Daddy's Bossy Friend by Charlize Starr
  13. Mastering the Virgin: Friends (Book One) by Simone Leigh
  14. Mastering the Virgin: Partners (Book Two) by Simone Leigh
  15. New to the Game (D.C. Knights Book 1) by Juno Chase
  16. Not Until Tonight by Jessica Sankiewicz
  17. Reluctant Billionaire by Cheryl Phipps
  18. Resist by Lilly Avalon
  19. RUSE: A Billionaire Single Dad Romance by J.J. Bella
  20. Securing Kiera's Love by PJ Fiala
  21. Something in the Air by Marie Landry
  22. Start Again by J. Saman
  23. The Fine Line by Alicia Kobishop
  24. The Girl in the Front of The Room by Mercedes Siler 
  25. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Marie Landry
  26. Their Secret Desire by Julia Imari
  27. Two Hearts' Christmas Wish by Tamara Ferguson
  28. Unexpected by Lilly Avalon
  29. Unwell by Robin Laine
  30. What if We Break by Kinsey Corwin

$100 ~AND~ ALL THOSE BOOKS???
WHAT A GIVEAWAY!

How can you win? It's easy! Enter your email into the first Rafflecopter entry to subscribe to all the author newsletters. After that, you can gain MORE entries by following the authors on Twitter and visiting their fan pages on Facebook. Super easy, right??

Terms and Conditions: Open internationally. Must be 16 years of age or older to enter.

Giveaway begins on November 28th, 2017 and ends at midnight EST on December 5th. Winner will be selected within a few days after the giveaway ends and notified via email.

This giveaway is sponsored by 22 authors and hosted by Sunrise Author Services. All entrants will be added to all 22 author's newsletters as per the agreement with your mandatory entry. The gift card will be provided by SAS and the ebooks will be provided by each author once the winner is selected.

Thank you.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck everyone!

Resist First Chapter

Monday, November 20, 2017 No comments
 

Chapter One

This is a mistake.

Not pairing the silver stilettos with my brand new blue dress—no, that was genius. The mistake is coming here tonight when I should have stayed in my hotel room. It's not like I couldn't come up with a believable excuse. I'm relatively good under pressure. Not to mention the fact that lounging in nothing but a robe and watching from my window as the sun sets behind the Manhattan skyline sounded exceptionally better.

Why am I here, then? I'm on a mission.

The lobby in the Quartz Hotel is exquisite. Red velvet-cushioned chairs and golden framed early 1900s-style artwork line the walls. You feel like you've traveled back in time, expecting to find a mink stole draped over your shoulder when you peer into one of the vintage mirrors. This whole place is much fancier than I usually am. Tonight, however...

Stepping off the elevator into the lobby should bring a smile to my face. Instead, I'm sighing as the doors close behind me and the nerves creep in. There's still time to push the button and get the hell out of here.

"Allegra!"

Well, there goes that option.

When I turn, an older gentleman is walking in my direction. "Mr. Morris!" I say as I shake his hand, flashing him a huge grin. "It's so great to see you again." Mr. Morris, or Walter as his close friends know him, is the founder of the company I work for, Morris Enterprises. His goal upon finishing college was to start his own business. After a few failed ventures with fellow businessmen, he finally started Morris Enterprises. We dabble in various types of online businesses, including a website that sells quality office supplies. Twenty years later, the company is still running strong, largely thanks to his determination.

When Mr. Morris smiles, his forehead wrinkles, giving away his age. "Oh, Allegra Maxwell, it's always a pleasure to see you. How's Jack been treating you?"
"Very well."

"Wonderful. You look great, by the way." He gestures to my dress.

I glance down, and then back up at him. "Oh, thank you. So do you. So spiffy." I touch his arm lightly. "Tell me, how's your wife? Is she here? I'd love to say hello."

He shakes his head. "Unfortunately, Beverly had to stay home tonight. She's been feeling a little under the weather lately with the temperature changes."
Lucky bitch, I think. I give him a disappointed frown. "Oh, that's too bad. Please send her my love."

"I will definitely do that, Allegra. You enjoy yourself tonight and try not to get into too much trouble." He gives me a wink as he shakes my hand one more time before he walks away.

Now that Mr. Morris has seen me, there's no escaping. Get ready for two hours of forced smiles and sucking up to bosses and executives. The annual company dinner may have the most delectable dishes and desserts, but it's boring as hell. The only thing that saves it is the men who show up. At least half of them are good-looking, handsome, and, dare I say it, sexy. Which brings me back to my mission and why I chose tonight to carry it out.

When I hit my mid-twenties last month, it felt like hitting rock bottom. I spent four years climbing to the top of this company straight out of college. I may have achieved success and a strong foundation for the future complete with a full benefits package, but there's not much to show for it, aside from a padded bank account. Yet, after all that overtime, what's the point of money when you have nobody to spend time with?

It's been years since I had a boyfriend. In fact, my last serious boyfriend was in college, and that's just depressing. I want nothing more than to settle down and have a steady relationship again. However, my job makes that nearly impossible, and the last time I had a relationship... Let's just say it didn't go as expected. Since I can't get serious with anyone, I've settled on the next best thing: a one-night stand with a complete stranger.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to find "The One". Every girl wants to find him. Since I haven't found any suitable contenders for the position, I might as well have some fun while I'm still young. And let's face it, I have needs—needs that haven't been taken care of in a year.

A whole year.

Screw finding The One. I just need one night. That's all I ask, at least for now. A palate cleanser, if you will. I need to feel that desire—the longing—that comes with a roll in the hay. I haven't felt it in a while, and I'm overdue for it. Long overdue. A girl can only take care of herself for so long until she needs someone who has the equipment for the job.

Before I have to go suffer through the dinner, I find a spot off to the side but in full view of anyone walking into our private dining room. I take my phone discreetly out of my clutch and speed-dial my best friend, Sonya. The first thing she says is, "Why are you calling me? Aren't you on a mission?"

"That's why I called. I need moral support."

"There's nothing moral about what you're about to do."

I accidentally let out half a snort, then bite my lip to keep from cracking up entirely. "Stop it, Miss Wallace. Don't make me laugh. If Jack catches me on the phone, I have to look like I'm on an important call."

"Yeah, I don't think our boss would be too pleased to know you're scouting for bedroom talent. Speaking of which, how are the prospects?"

"Haven't really spotted many yet. I just got down here, though." A couple younger men walk out of the elevator toward the dining room. "There we go."

"Score."

They're both probably in their early twenties. The taller of the two has caramel-blond wavy hair, the kind long enough to run your fingers through. The other has darker, shorter hair, and a chiseled jaw. They glance in my direction and I give them a flirtatious smile. I can tell by the look in their eyes that I've already hooked them. I'm extremely thankful for this dress. It has the perfect balance of elegant and sexy with enough professionalism to get away with it. I'm also appreciative of the subtle highlights I had my colorist put in my hair, which I spent the last hour curling in between putting on my makeup. "Just a matter of time before I reel one in."

"Ew." She's pretending to be disgusted, but I know better. Sonya and I may not go way back, but we've bonded since I started working at Morris Enterprises. We're incapable of hiding what we really think from each other.

I sigh. "I know what you're going to say." Ever since she got engaged, Sonya's been having a rough time trying to fulfill the wing-woman role in our friendship. It's not that she doesn't care, she's just been too focused on the wedding and the idea of finally being married. But she is interested in helping me find happiness. She wishes it were with someone special instead of this convoluted plan, though.

"I know you know, that's why I'm not going to say anything."

"Thank you. But I still hate you right about now."

"Why? Because I'm happy with Rodney?"

"Yes."

"That's no reason to hate someone." She sighs, and I can picture her rolling her eyes. "Look, just have one final fling tonight so that you can come home happy. Then we'll start our search for The One for you."

I want to be hopeful of the elusive One but I can't stop being cynical. "Good luck finding a guy that isn't a complete waste of a man."

"I don't even know how to respond to that."

Another younger man comes out of the elevator and stops to talk to Mr. Morris. "Well, hello there."

"Ooh, another one? What does he look like?"

"Something tall, dark, and handsome." I press my lips together to hold back the laugh.

"Something? Don't you mean someone?"

"Probably."

"In all seriousness, though...what does he look like? Face, eyes..."

"Well, unfortunately I can't get a good look at him."

"Why not?"

"He's facing the other way." Squinting my eyes, I try to see if I can make out the details of the handsome something. He's wearing a very expensive suit by the looks of it, navy pinstripe over white button down. He obviously works out based on how perfectly tailored it is. I mean, that ass... Yowza. That's all I can see from this angle though. Come on, show me your face. I need something to boost my spirits.

He finally finishes his conversation with Mr. Morris, and starts walking toward the dining hall. After a few steps, the light hits his face just right so I can make out his features. He seems familiar, very familiar. That's when I gasp. I recognize the well-defined face. The dark brown hair. The smoldering dark emerald eyes.

"Anything?" Sonya says.

"Holy shit," I breathe, nearly dropping my phone. This can't be happening.

"That good, huh?"

I can barely speak, but not for the reason she's thinking. I'm flabbergasted. Floored, even. He looks familiar because I have seen him before—right at this very place—almost exactly a year ago. My heart races and breaks all at once when the memory returns. I thought I had buried it back then.

"Allegra? Are you still there?"

Somehow, I discover my voice again. "I'm gonna have to call you back." I hang up on her before she can respond. I'm not sure what to do with myself. I'm not sure of anything at this moment.

Because the man who stepped off that elevator is Devlin Pierce, and his eyes have landed on mine.


| Add to your Goodreads shelf |

Can't Stay Away First Chapter

Friday, November 17, 2017 No comments

Hello lovelies!

As promised in my last update post, I'm re-posting all of the first chapters that I had on Wattpad over to this blog. The rest of the month will consist of these first chapter posts, so if you haven't read certain books of mine, you're in for a little treat these next couple weeks. ^_^


Chapter One

Stand up for yourself.

It's part of my morning mantra: after my eyes adjust to the light and I remember what the day holds for me, those four words come to mind. Every time. They return like a ghost, haunting me with the voice that first uttered them to me four years ago. I thought one day it would stop, but it hasn't.

I peel the covers away and get up, groaning as I look at the time on my alarm clock. Eleven o'clock. Marjory will have words for me about missing church again. You'd think she could show some understanding, especially since as her future stepdaughter I've been spending the majority of my free time planning her wedding. It's the third week in a row I slept in, though. Third time's a charm? I let out a snort. At least I can still find humor in annoying her during these stressful times.

I shuffle down the hallway to the kitchen of my spacious one-bedroom apartment. Marjory helped decorate the place in a classic motif—gray upholstered furniture, lamps with subdued floral accents, and a couple ornate silver matching mirrors on the walls. The only things I insisted on were the paintings that would hang on the walls in my bedroom, which were all painted by me. It isn't quite the style I pictured for my first place, but I like it just the same.

A loud meow greets me when I enter the kitchen. My cat Sparkles runs up to me, rubbing against my legs as I fill her food dish and set it down. I scratch the top of her head. "Good morning, pretty kitty." She peeks up at me between bites with an appreciative look.

I get a bowl out of the cupboard and start making oatmeal for breakfast. While it heats in the microwave, I cut up a banana to put on top. I'm not a fan of oatmeal, but it has enough protein to keep my energy level where it needs to be to make it through the day.

The faint sound of my phone has me scrambling to find it. I rummage through my purse thinking I left it in there when the ringtone starts again from my bedroom. I run in there and pick up right before it ends. "Hello?" I answer breathlessly.

"Piper, darling?" The sound of Marjory's confused voice causes me to shove my face into my pillow. This is the reason they invented caller ID and yet I'm not awake enough to utilize it. "Did I interrupt your cardio?"

I hold back a laugh at the thought of me actually exercising. If I had the time, maybe. "No, I was just trying to find my phone. I left it on my nightstand."

"Ah, I see. Missed you this morning. Just wanted to make sure you were going to make it for dinner tonight."

"Of course I will. I always come home for Sunday dinners." Per your request, if you remember.

"Excellent. Well, darling, I have to get ready. The ladies are coming over this afternoon for tea. We're discussing Charlene's fundraiser for the hospital. That's where her sister Francesca has her chemotherapy. The doctor says there's a good chance of her going into remission when she finishes treatment."

"That's great news, Marjory."

"You should stop by when we're finishing up. They always love to see you."

"I have a few errands to run, but I'll do my best."

"That's my girl. I'll see you tonight, darling."

"See you." I end the call and rub a hand over my face. I don't want to go over there early, but when she mentioned me stopping by it sounded more like a request than a recommendation. I wish I could talk to my father about this, but he's too busy with business to be concerned with ladies and their tea. Shaking my head, I go back to the kitchen and finish breakfast so I can get started on my day.

A few hours later, I walk into my father's house. It feels strange every time I come here. There's no reason for it to since I lived here for all my teenage years. Maybe it's because it's five times bigger than the yellow farmhouse that was my childhood home. Maybe it's because once Marjory moved in, the place became more like the rest of the houses in this tax bracket. Shiny, sparkly, sterile.

But I'd bet dollars to donuts it mostly has to do with somebody who used to grace these halls.

I follow Nan, the housekeeper, as she leads me to the sunroom. Once inside, a chorus of hellos greets me from twelve different women. I smile and return their greeting as Marjory walks over to me. Her silky yellow flowered top sets off her auburn hair perfectly. She gives me a kiss on the cheek. "Darling, I'm so glad you were able to make it."

I plaster on a smile. "Well, I'm glad I made it in time." I hold out the box I've been carrying. "I brought a treat for everyone."

Marjory gasps in delight as she takes the box from me. "Macarons! Oh, darling, this is lovely. Look at what my sweet girl has for us." She waltzes over to the ladies and sets it down on the glass coffee table. Every woman present gets a napkin and picks out a macaron. Marjory takes a bite out of one and closes her eyes. "Oh, this is heavenly. What shop did you get these from?"

"Annie's Confectioneries."

Charlene brightens and says, "Marjory, you should have these at the reception."

Rachael claps her hands together. "Yes! My cousin's daughter had a dessert bar at her reception instead of dinner. Everyone thought it was brilliant."

Instantly, I cringe on the inside. I spoke to the caterers on Friday regarding the filet mignon Marjory selected. It's the second time she's changed her mind. I doubt the caterers would be thrilled with yet another change.

This fact, of course, doesn't deter Marjory from speaking up. "That sounds absolutely divine!" She turns to me, eyes full of hope. "Do you think that maybe you could contact the caterers and ask if they could forward you a dessert menu?"

It wouldn't be a problem at all! I'm sure the caterers would absolutely love to start over for the third time. It's not like your inability to make decisions and stick with them doesn't complicate matters. Oh wait, it does. I fake a smile. "I'll call them tomorrow."

"Splendid, darling. I'm sure they won't mind if we tweak the plan just a smidge. They're getting paid either way."

The ladies chuckle over this. Yeah, "tweak" the plan from dinner to dessert. I want so much to roll my eyes, but I know I can't without at least one person noticing. I love Marjory, I really do, but sometimes she is impossible to deal with. I'm already wishing I hadn't arrived for dinner early.

"Piper, dear," Charlene says. "How are you enjoying working for Loving Bliss?"

Loving Bliss is what I like to call Marjory's pet project. It's a wedding planning company with all the connections and the expertise. Marjory couldn't find a wedding planning service to fill her every need, so she decided to take it upon herself to create a company that could. She has plenty of connections in the community and she has my father's money to pay for the start up costs. It hasn't even officially opened for business and the buzz for it is overwhelming.

And, of course, let's not forget her almost stepdaughter who ends up running the company by herself since the first client is the woman who started the business.

Yeah...welcome to my life.

I launch into the speech I've given to everyone else. "It's been great so far. Marjory has supplied a long list of amazing businesses and companies that can accommodate every possible bride-to-be. Most of them have a wide array of choices and packages, which is great. And even though some can't work around all requests, there are plenty of back up plans. Plus, our first bride has been special, so I couldn't ask for anything more." I smile at Marjory and she holds a hand to her heart as a chorus of "aw" spreads through the room.

Charlene blinks back the moisture building in her eyes. "Oh, Piper, you're the sweetest girl. I wish I was gaining you as a stepdaughter."

"Well, you can't have her, Charlene. She's mine." Marjory takes my hand in hers and gives it a quick squeeze before letting go.

"Where will Loving Bliss be located?" Charlene asks.

"We have a space in a building downtown in the boutique district," I answer. "My father signed the papers and got the key for me on Friday. I'll be spending most of my time getting the place ready in between wedding plans. You know, setting it up and interviewing potential staff. We'll be opening September fifteenth."

"Will you be able to get it all done by your grand opening?"

Considering the time crunch, I'll be lucky to make it to the end of August without wanting to hurt somebody. Namely Marjory. "Of course. There's plenty of time." Before anyone else can probe into my job any further, I ask, "Is my dad home?"

Marjory shakes her head, tapping a napkin to her lips. "No, he went to the office for a couple hours to work on some new contracts. He should be back soon, though. We've got something special planned for dinner tonight."

"Oh? What's special about it?"

"It's a surprise."

When she grins, I can't help but wonder what in God's name she has up her sleeve tonight. Ever since I graduated from college last month, she's been pushing me toward what she believes to be the next goal in a young lady's life: marriage. This doesn't bother me because I'd actually love to get married in the next couple of years. The problem lies in her choices in men for me. Don't get me wrong, these are decent and upstanding young men. They're just not my type. Their lives are too similar to my father's—focused on working sixty or more hours per week. Marjory might like playing the role of trophy wife, but it's not the life I envision for myself.

Not that I know what I ultimately want from life. I know I can't continue working for Loving Bliss forever. Once Marjory gets married to my father and back from the honeymoon, the company is back in her hands. I'd be glad to play a part in the company, but only a small one. There's something else out there—something bigger—and I want to be available to grab onto it with both hands when the time comes.

My phone buzzes and I excuse myself from the room to answer. "Theo, you're a master."

"Master of what? Ceremonies? Master Chef?"

I chuckle as I let out a sigh of relief. Leave it to Theo to ground me again. I slip upstairs quickly to get well out of earshot from Marjory. "Master of timing."

"Ah...I take it you're with the parentals. A little early for a visit, though, am I right?"

"Yes. Marjory said something about tea this afternoon and—"

"You were guilted into 'stopping by'?" he finishes my sentence and tsks me. "Piper, Piper, Piper."

"What, what, what?" I round the corner and walk into my old bedroom. "I made her day. I might not have needed to do it, but it's done."

"Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. So! You gonna stop by tonight? I'm working until close and need company."

Theo works at a bar downtown called The Village Idiot. It's located in a dumpy brick building on the outside of the city of Charlotte. It's not the kind of place my "parentals" would approve of, but I don't care. I've been friends with Theo since high school and I'm not about to toss aside one of the few people who have been with me through thick and thin. "That would actually be nice. I won't be able to stay late, though. I have work in the morning."

"You only have the one client. It's not as if you have to make tons of phone calls. Can't you sleep in just this once?"

"I slept in today. And I have to call the caterers."

"Again?"

"Yes."

He breathes out a long sigh. "Girl, we need to get you out of the house more."

"Tell me about it." When I peek at the time on my phone, I rub my other hand over my face. "I better get back downstairs. My dad will be home soon and dinner is probably almost finished. Apparently, there's something 'special' happening tonight."

"Oh, God. It's a blind date, isn't it?"

"I'm hoping the answer is no," I grumble. "But with her, anything is possible."

"Good luck, sweets."

"Thanks. I'm going to need it." I hang up with Theo and slowly make my way back downstairs. Instead of returning to the sunroom, I head into the kitchen.

Charles, my parents' full-time cook, is hard at work. He glances over when I walk in and smiles warmly. "Miss Piper, so good to see you."

"Hey, Chuck. What's on the menu tonight?"

"Roasted potatoes and duck l'orange."

Sounds about right. "Can't wait." Even though it's a typical meal in this house, Charles is an amazing connoisseur of food. Seeing him is always a treat, too, because he's so genuine. When I'm around so many people who place stock in their money, being around down-to-earth people always bolsters my spirit.

I leave Charles to his masterpiece of dinner and head back toward the sunroom. By the time I get there, all the ladies have left. Marjory is nowhere in sight, either. I stroll through the downstairs searching for her. I find her outside the dining room with my father.

I observe them from several feet away. Their heads are close together and they are talking quietly. When they met, neither of them had any interest in a serious relationship. My mother died when I was ten and my father swore he would never marry again. For Marjory, her ex-husband was a deadbeat dad, leaving her when she got pregnant. She didn't plan on getting married, but after four years of living with my father, she finally told him that they might as well make it official since they're committed to each other.

I walk toward them, not wanting to interrupt their conversation, but also not wanting to be caught staring either. When my father sees me, he grins and says, "There's my baby girl."

I let him pull me into a tight embrace. "Hello, Daddy." Something I can always count on is my father's love for me. There's nothing he wouldn't do to ensure that I have everything I need.
My father, Marjory, and I sit down at the solid oak dining room table. I clear my throat. "So, where's the surprise that comes with dinner?"

Marjory looks at her watch and frowns. "I was hoping he would be here by now. His flight must have been delayed."

"Flight?"

The doorbell rings and Marjory clasps her hands together. "Oh, that has to be him. Excuse me a moment."

She stands and leaves the room. I sneak a glance at my father, but he isn't looking my way. Who is this man Marjory is inviting into our lives and trying to set me up with? He must be someone very special if she's willing to leave the room to meet up with him instead of letting one of the hired hands answer the door as she usually does.

Marjory's voice travels from down the hall. "You're just in time to experience a delightful dinner, my dear. As you can see, the rest of the family is here. And now all four of us are together again at last!"

Wait...four?

My head whips in her direction. Standing next to her, I'm greeted with a sight I never thought I would see in my life again. He's taller, more muscular, brown hair longer. The chiseled features of his face seem more prominent, and those eyes...those bright green eyes stare at me with the same boyish wonder they always did four years ago. My heart skips a beat when his lips curve into a slow smile. I swallow hard, mustering the courage to say hello to the boy I once knew.

The boy who is about to become my stepbrother.


Add on Goodreads 
Purchase here:
| Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks |

Have a wonderful day!

Holiday Cards from Lilly and Signed Paperbacks

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 No comments
Hello lovelies!

I have two things to tell you about. First of all, I'm sending out holiday cards this year! I put together a form for everyone to fill out if they're interested in receiving one from me. And if anyone would like to send one to me, just put your email address in the comments spot and I'll email my address to you. I'm hoping to have a P.O. Box to use for these things sometime next year.


Also! I took my paperbacks off of Etsy and have opted for a form to purchase signed paperbacks, limited edition swag, and signed bookplates. Etsy charges 20 cents to renew every listing, so I figured I'd save myself that little bit of money and go with an easy to fill out form instead. I've even included shipping charges for each type of purchase. Paperbacks and swag/bookplates will have to be sent separately due to media mail having very strict guidelines (in other words, if they select my package of paperbacks + swag to inspect, they'd discover I'm not following the rules; ridiculous, but I have to follow them).

The bookplates are a new thing I'm trying out to have available for people who already have my books or international readers who would like my signature in their book. I'm not offering shipping outside the US for paperbacks at this time since the cost can be... very expensive. I'm talking $10-25 USD to ship 1 or more books, which is very unfortunate. Luckily, international readers can get my books through other channels for a much more reasonable cost and still have a signed bookplate available to make it into a signed book!



Thank you!

Glass City Author Event - Pictures and Fun times!

Monday, November 13, 2017 No comments

Hello lovelies!

This was supposed to be posted already for this morning, buuuuuuut I forgot to log back in to finish uploading the pictures for the post. Heh. Anyways...

I had LOTS of fun at Glass City this year! I got to see several people I met at previous events and have chatted with on FB multiple times. It's really wonderful to know people at events. I had a really splendid day, sold a bunch of books, grabbed a bunch of swag..... I'll actually be hosting several giveaways in the future featuring this swag as well, so be sure you're following on my social media pages to find out about where you can win some. I haven't decided when I'll be doing the first one, but I'm thinking possibly once I hit 1000 likes on Facebook and other milestones, plus perhaps a FB takeover or party. We'll see. ;)

Here are the pictures from the event!

Me and the hubster
I dressed as a lemur since it was almost Halloween
Me and my bestie, Stephanie <3
Breigh Forstner, me, and Alexandria Sure <3
Me with my friend Michelle
Virginia Johnson and me
Me, Virginia Johnson, and my hubby taking funny pictures




Author group photo! I'm on the right side
Swag-a-licious! And a few books

I'm really bummed out that there won't be another Glass City next year, but there are several people who want to put another event together nearby so here's hoping!

Have a wonderful day!!

Arch City Author Event - Photos and Stuff

Friday, November 3, 2017 No comments

Hello lovelies!

I had a BUSY BUSY BUSY October, lemme tell ya. Two author events is a LOT to do in one month. I will definitely not be doing that again. Not that I didn't love the events (they were great!), but two in two weeks is too much to handle along with getting back to real life.

Anyways... Arch City was fun! It was the first event I had a table mate at, so that was cool. I made some new author friends and gave away another raffle basket. It was in a gorgeous room, very elegant. ^_^ It's too bad they aren't hosting another one next year. This year was the second annual event there.

Here's a few pictures I took!


The sky was pretty awesome on the way down

My table setup!




After we left we went out to eat and checked out a few local thrift stores (which made the trip more fun for the hubster). All in all it was a fun day!

I'll be sharing pictures from Glass City soon!