Schools are closed today due to the good possibility of icy roads today. The kids loved lying in on a Tuesday and are hoping the “snow days” stretch into Wednesday, too. It’s quiet in the house. One child’s reading in her room. Another has her school laptop open while working on an assignment. I’ve been under the weather for two days now. Headaches, fatigue, chills. I’m a weenie when I’m sick. I completely shut down. I binge-watched Abbott Elementary. It’s not my kind of show (no aliens or ghosts), but it’s funny and real. I was a teacher for a couple of years in a poor district and can relate to their struggles. There’s some really good acting there, too (Sheryl Lee Ralph!). Anyways, I’m moving away from the TV because…headache, ya know.
I decided to share a puzzle today. The theme is “things you can do or consume on a cold winter’s day.” For a chance to win a downloadable book from my backlist, offer another suggestion!
People always ask me “where do you get your ideas?” For my newest release, Texas Hook-Up? It all started with a meme about a guy who had a cat who shared his name.
I have a dog named Seamus, and a cat named Turtle, so when I have to pick up the prescription food Turtle requires from the vet’s office, the label on the package is for Turtle Braemel. Or Seamus Braemel. So, I understand why someone who isn’t familiar with my pets might get confused. Well, not with Turtle – though they might think I’m talking about an actual turtle not a cat.
That’s when the plot bunnies hit me, and I imagined a guy overhearing his friend’s girlfriend talking about having to get home to Jeff. Except his friend’s name is Brody. And only learning much later that Jeff is not another guy. Jeff is a cat. That’s how I ended up writing Texas Hook-Up, a novella about a grumpy EMT having to apologize to a female tow-truck driver he’s judged wrongly for the last few years.
Bonus! Once I was finished writing Texas Hook-Up, I wasn’t done with those characters. I ended up writing a free Bonus Epilogue called Getting Hitched about how Quinn’s attempts to propose to Mia go askew thanks to the now infamous Jeff. You can find the link to that novella at the back of Texas Hook-Up.
I am a woman in a male trucker’s world, which means I’ve developed a thick skin and a potty mouth over the years. When an EMT that I sorta kinda like decides he doesn’t like me, no skin off my nose. I can take Quinn’s snark and dish it right back at him. Until he finally realizes he’s in the wrong about me, and he goes and does something decent, like apologizing. Now what do I do with him?
I come from a screwed-up family that I admit affects how I judge people. When I overheard Mia talking about living with someone named Jeff while she was dating my buddy Brody, I jumped to the wrong conclusion and I’ve been giving her grief ever since. I’ve finally realized I screwed up. Big time. So I’m trying to prove how sorry I am but she’s making me jump through hoops. Rightfully so.
Being around Mia, away from her truck, has let me see the soft squishy parts behind the thick armour she’s donned. But going from hating someone to trusting them is a long swing. Now I have to convince her—and myself—I’m worth the effort.
Excerpt of Texas Hook-Up…
Without saying anything more, Mia gulps down her coffee, and scrambles from the table, stopping at the counter to pay her ticket. I’m wondering if I should go after her when she heads for the door, just as Gonzalez is coming in. He holds open the door and they say something to each other, politely, from their body language. I can’t miss how Gonzalez’s gaze lingers on Mia as she walks down the street. Guess there is still some attraction.
When he finally pulls his gaze back to the diner, he spots me, heads over, and takes Mia’s spot. He eyes the coffee cup with its telltale lipstick stain until Shannon, efficient as always, removes it and fills a fresh cup for him.
“You were talking with Mia?” He keeps his tone even, though his curiosity is evident.
“She’s pissed off at me.” What else is new?
Gonzalez tilts his head, as if he doesn’t believe me or figures I have some hidden agenda.
“I’m not interested in her, if you’re thinking of trying to get back together with her,” I assure him.
“Oh, I’ve tried, but…” He shrugs and gives me an I have no idea, look.
“Why?” The word slips out of my mouth before I can stop it. “Why would you want to hook back up with her?”
“There’s something about her. I can’t put my finger on it, but we were doing good.” He shrugs again. “At least, I thought we were. We were even talking about moving in together, and then all of a sudden, she dumps me. No reason, just, she doesn’t think we’re headed in the same direction. She doesn’t think we suit.” His tone betrays his I thought we suited belief. “Basically, she told me to not let the door hit my ass on the way out.”
“Maybe it was something Jeff or Brian said to her. Did you do something to piss them off?”
Some strange expression lights his eyes. Not confusion, something I can’t read, before he drops his gaze to focus on his coffee. “Jeff and Brian? I liked them. I mean, Brian’s a biter, but if you know how to handle him, he’s okay. Jeff’s a real softie. Mia knew I loved them and would never have hurt them.”
Dafuq? Brian’s a biter? Talk about TMI. I’ve always thought of Gonzalez as being pretty straitlaced. Always looking for a girl he could bring home to momma type of guy. It’s always the quiet ones. “I never pictured you being into that scene.”
“What scene?” Danny spreads his hands palms up. There’s that weird expression on his face again. Like he has some private joke.
“Sharing a woman.” Aware of the people in the next booth, no doubt straining to hear, I lower my voice. “Orgies, having sex with multiple partners. Do you do guys, too? I mean, don’t get me wrong, if that’s what you’re in to, fine.” Okay, I’d better shut up before I earn a fist to my jaw. Except I can’t help but ask, “Is that what broke Dickinson and her up, too?”
His jaw drops momentarily, and then he’s whooping with laughter and every head in the joint turns to look at us. “Orgies? Seriously? Is that what you still think? That Jeff and Brian are guys? Peterson, for a smart guy, sometimes you’re as sharp as a marble.”
Eyebrows all around us arch at his very audible mention of orgies, enough that I want to slide under the table. “What are you talking about?”
Still laughing so hard tears are gathering in the corners of his eyes, he shakes his head. “Bro! I thought Brody told you. Jeff and Brian are Mia’s cats.”
About the Author
Leah Braemel is the only woman in a houseful of males that includes her college-sweetheart husband, two sons, a Shih Tzu named Seamus who behaves like a cat and Turtle the cat who thinks he’s a dog. She loves escaping the ever-multiplying dust bunnies by opening up her laptop to write about sexy heroes and the women who challenge them.
It’s Sunday, and I slept in. Wish I hadn’t. My dd woke me a little while ago to ask me a question, interrupting a dream about me baking a lemon cake and wanting to add poppy seeds, but I had no poppy seeds, so I collected mouse turds to put into the cake. Is that a prescient dream? Will I be that mouse-shit crazy when I have dementia?
Anyways, it’s Sunday, which means it’s time to brush up my weekly work plan and balance my checkbook. After that, I might just kick back and do nada! Before I begin updating plans, I’ll pull a tarot card…
The Nine of Pentacles. Hmmm. What does the picture tell me? Well, Daedalus (you know, father of Icarus who flew too close to the sun?) is standing behind an impressive stack of gold. The grapes are ripe and abundant. He’s wearing a gold gown rather than his usual craftsman’s apron, so he’s celebrating, right? What does that mean for me? Will I have a “good money” week? I’ll check the book. It says, this card is about reward and achievement. That it “augurs a period where one might be justifiably pleased with oneself…” I’ll take that. Now, I actually have to do the work to earn that card!
So, I’ll be updating things, and maybe tackling the rabbit cage (I guess I’m still thinking about those mouse turds). What are your plans for the day?
I hope you love the puzzle! I found this image and knew it would make a great puzzle! Very inspirational—cool and creepy! We are getting close to Valentine’s Day, and I have a ton of cards to make. Or maybe just a couple. Depends on my inspiration. Now, I feel like Santa making his nice and naughty list. Anyways, it’s Saturday! I got to sleep in, it’s cold outside, and I’m wearing fuzzy socks, so you know it’s the beginning of a great day!
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, have you ever made a homemade valentine card for someone special?
I was thinking the other day that my kids have been deprived of knowing about the great classic films. When I grew up, there weren’t many channels on the TV, and they played classics late at night or on Saturdays. It was a captive audience, but I grew up loving these films. Nowadays, kids have so many options for what they can watch, it’s mind-numbing. The 9-year-old is obsessed with YouTube and obnoxious cartoons like Uncle Grandpa and Chowder (I actually love Chowder), but getting her to watch a movie that isn’t a Disney cartoon is nearly impossible. The 14-year-old is obsessed with anime. The 18-year-old loves Rom-Coms, and we watch those together, but watch something in black and white? They look at me like I’m nuts when I suggest it, but I think it ought to be part of their education. Classic films, the really good ones, had tons of dialogue and lovely themes and lessons. The comedies are so much better than most produced today.
I have my particular favorites here…
I’m thinking about instituting a classic movie night, maybe once a month, because more than that would stoke insurrection in my house. I’d plan a movie, have snacks ready, and if they want to eat, they have to watch! What do you think of that idea? I want to broaden their horizons. Am I expecting too much thinking they might enjoy these films?
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, I’d love your suggestions for movies to add to the list. And let me know what you think about my idea!
I struggled with a theme for today’s puzzle. My mind is on the work I have to complete. So, I reached out on Facebook for suggestions, and author A. Catherine Noon suggested chocolate. So, I could have gone with candy bar names, types of chocolate, but my mind when straight to things you can cover in chocolate that are delicious! And yes, a mild cheese coated in chocolate is very, very delicious! 🙂 Have fun with the puzzle.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, give me some more suggestions for yummy goodness! Do you have a favorite combination? I love orange + chocolate.