I used to be a traveler. In fact, it was my top thing to do. It’s why I joined the military in the first place. The captain who lured me into ROTC in college promised me I’d see Europe, and sure enough, I spent my first assignment there and was lucky enough to spend my last one on active duty there as well. While I was in Germany, I took advantage of the rails and boats and picked off many, many countries on my bucket list. I love road trips here in America, too—but COVID and kids have kept me homebound for a while.
When life gets a little less complicated, I’m going to take some trips. The pictures in the puzzle are some of the places I’d love to go.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, solve the puzzle, and tell me where you’d like to go (even fantastical places)!
I’m up to my eyeballs in work today. Did you think writers have days off? Pffft!
I have to make my final selection of stories that will be featured in my next anthology, Silver Soldiers (again, thank you Reina Torres for the title!). That task is sooooo hard. I have to trim six stories from my YES pile, which means I have to let go of some wonderful stories and authors.
I have to complete another chapter of my upcoming Brotherhood story. A book I HAVE to finish this week, come hell or high water.
And I need to clean my space. I let too much slide while I was under the weather. Here’s hoping my stamina is up for today’s tasks.
In the meantime, please take a look at the open contests. Some are closing soon, like maybe tomorrow! Enter while you still can!
Ugh! So, today is the first time in a week that I’ve felt kind of normal. No huge headache, no low-grade fever, no desire to simply stay in bed. Yay!
I’m thinking that between the horrible heat I dealt with last weekend, my newly diagnosed high blood pressure, and the COVID bivalent booster and flu shots I got during my doctor’s visit, my body simply said, Enough!
So, while I’m tackling my infinite To-Do list, how about you all have fun with this puzzle!
For a chance to win your choice of download from among my backlist of books, solve the puzzle then tell me what you think this picture is all about. Have fun!
I had a guest lined up today, but I can’t find her content. So, I’m hoping I can still get that and post it either later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, I may as well do my end-of-month wrap-up. You do know that these are mostly for me—my way of stating out loud, to the world, what I accomplished and what I plan to do. It keeps me honest about my productivity, which has been slipping of late. Not sure why.
I went to the doctor yeterday and discovered I have high blood pressure. For years, my blood pressure was low, then normal—and now? I have to make changes. My dd insisted on accompanying me, because she knows I tend to blow off medical concerns. She says changes will be made! Gah. I have to cut out salt, and there’s a list of foods to avoid and incorporate. I’m so excited. *yawn*
Anyways, onto my wrap-up!
Here’s what I accomplished…
I began work on a story that comes out in my sister, Elle James’s Brotherhood Protectors world next month! I had hoped to finish it by the end of the month, but I’ll be writing up until the date I have to turn it in. She’s going to kill me.
I completed 3 editing projects for other authors in September.
I fell off the Weight Watcher’s wagon again. At least, I’m maintaining my loss. 🙁
As for physical activity, I swam every single day (until the Art Festival), and while I spent two days baking in the sun, the pool turned green. So, no more swimming. I’m usually the kind who swims until the water’s so cool I’m gasping.
I went to the doctor to find out why I feel like shit and found out I have high blood pressure.
I met with the local art guild and the humanities council. Yes, I mingled with real people. I’m on two boards now. I’m not sure why I raised my hand, but I guess it gets me out of the house.
I participated in the Festival of the Arts and sold enough to pay for my tent and supplies for next year! Woot!
I worked on pieces all the way up until the festival.
Here are a few of my September pieces…
For work-related, I plan:
To complete Guarding Hannah! It will release October 11 come hell or high water!
To write Hard Knox, my first We Are Dead Horse story! I hope to have it in time for my pre-order release of October 25, but that is looking extremely iffy. I will try.
To complete 5 editing projects in October! And therein lies my problem with items 1 & 2 on this list.
For health related, I plan:
To return to counting those points for my Weight Watchers diet (I hate that word) and hopefully shed at least 5 pounds, remembering, as always: Slow is good!
To review my diet plan to reduce salt, processed food, and incorporate foods good for blood pressure (spinach, broccoli, bananas, red wine).
To replace swimming with walking.
To begin some low-impact aerobics. I’ll re-dedicate myself to doing more housework, too, because my art room is a disaster after the show. I have to find room for everything!
For happiness-related, I plan:
To begin one of the many already paid-for online art classes I’ve wanted to do.
To begin working on the crafts projects I want to sell in the local Christmas arts and crafts sale in December.
To blog about art (on my Emerald Casket site) just to keep myself honest!
Comment on anything you’ve read in this post. Tell me what you’re doing to make yourself happier and healthier. Tell me what you plan to read…
Like I said, comment on anything for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Depending on how long you’ve been reading me, you might not be aware of my naughty cowboy ménage series, Lone Star Lovers. All my sexiest fantasies are rolled up in those stories. Two cowboys, three cowboys, four… All that attention concentrated on one lucky girl… Heck, it’s not really fair, and there must be something in the water in Two Mule, Texas because there’s a whole lotta sharin’ goin’ on. 🙂
One for remembrance…one for healing…and one to steal her heart forever…
Chrissi Page has tried to find one man who heats her bed the way the Kinzie brothers did one shameful night years ago. She’s failed miserably, leaving her with no choice but to bank that inner fire—and keep a lid on her inner bad girl.
Way back when, she’d been weak, unable to choose between three cowboys who appealed to her in very different ways. After they’d each tried to win her for their own, they’d confronted her, demanding she choose. Confusion and anger had boiled over into a passion so wild, that to this day, she’s still trying to live it down.
Since that night, Ezra, Cade, and Joshua have individually sewn their wild oats with pretty much the entire available female population of Two Mule, Texas. Yet nothing and no other woman has ever erased the attraction they still feel for Chrissi. When she’s stranded on the road near their ranch, it’s their last chance to turn their mutual obsession into an unusual proposition…
Read an Excerpt from Breaking Leather…
Chrissi Page raised her cell phone in the air, staring at the screen. No bars. Not even a hint of one skinny, green nub. “Oh, come on,” she moaned as her radiator hissed behind her. “Damn, damn, damn.”
She’d been tempted to ignore the CHECK ENGINE light when it first appeared, wanting to take the chance she could limp back into Two Mule. However, the steam seeping from under the hood had pretty much killed that hope.
Today was not the day for her car to break down. Not so far from town. Not so close to their ranch. Any minute now one of the Kinzie brothers might happen by.
They’d stop because they’d never leave a woman stranded.
They might not let her go because of their shared past.
And she didn’t know if she had the strength anymore to fight fate or her own inexplicable needs.
Macy Pettigrew, her best friend and boss, had sent her to the Dunstan house to make sure the owners had followed her suggestions to increase the house’s curb appeal. Never mind that there wasn’t a curb. Not really even a road—more of a caliche-covered goat trail that meandered up a steep hillside, rutted from runoff during recent summer storms.
Something must have happened to her car on the run up that hill. She’d heard the rocks pinging against her undercarriage but had been too busy thinking about Ms. Dunstan’s handsome neighbors. She’d been afraid she’d pass them or that they might stop in to see old Lettie Dunstan, the widow selling off her roughhewn, century-old home.
Chrissi had forced a smile on her face, looked at the potted plants the old woman had placed in pretty window boxes and admired the paint she’d used to spruce up the weathered door and window frames. The junk the old woman’s husband had accumulated, and that she hadn’t had the heart to part with after his passing, was gone from the front lawn. And lo and behold, grass was beginning to grow to fill in the brown patches where engines and tires had lain.
Macy would be pleased. They had a potential buyer. One who’d relayed an offer via email, which had checked out with the mortgage lender. Details Macy had been eager to handle herself, leaving the showings to Chrissi.
Chrissi heard a powerful engine rev. She slowly lowered her arm and glanced nervously over her shoulder. A metallic sage pickup truck pulled off the road behind her, and her stomach dropped to her toes. She’d known the moment her CHECK ENGINE light had shone that this was going to happen.
And good Lord, it had to be Ezra Kinzie. His dark gaze narrowed on her through the windshield, the intensity of it feeling like the hissing heat of a brand against her skin.
He opened his door and stepped down, slamming it with a decisive shove. Everything Ezra did was deliberate. He never wavered once a decision was made.
Long ago, he’d decided he wasn’t going to fight his brothers for her. If she wasn’t going to decide among them, then she’d have to take them all.
And, Lord help her, she had.
She’d never gotten over that night, had never been able to push it to the farthest corner of her mind when she lay down to sleep. Just the memory of it made her hot, cold, _wet_…
And horribly ashamed. Anyone could have seen them beneath the bleachers at the homecoming game. Gossip hadn’t followed, but that didn’t make her any less self-conscious when she strode down the sidewalk on Main Street.
Someone might know. Someone might tell. The thought of that sordid night being revealed left her feeling nauseated. Her life had been circumspect ever since, her love life nonexistent.
They’d left her scarred. Unable to move on.
Not because they’d harmed her physically, but because she hadn’t been able to shake off the terrible attraction that tempted her every single day since that fateful night.
Boots crunched on the gravel at the side of the road. The brim of Ezra’s straw cowboy hat left his ice-blue eyes in shadow.
She straightened away from her car and squared her shoulders.
“Havin’ trouble, Chrissi?”
“It just showed up,” she said under her breath, determined not to let him see how flustered she felt.
One side of his mouth quirked up. He glanced up at the sky, squinting against the bright Texas sun before leveling that devastating stare on her again.
Her belly clenched, and she fought hard not to give him any clues about how he still affected her. Just the rumble of his deep voice always made her think of crisp, cool sheets and hot, slick skin.
Her glance flicked over his body-hugging dark tee, noted his well-developed chest, the bulge of his biceps, his taut abdomen. She started to sweat. “Will you call a tow truck for me when you get home?”
A frown dug a deep crease between his dark brows. “Get in my truck, Chrissi. I’m not leavin’ you on the side of the road.”
“I’m not goin’ anywhere with you, Ezra Kinzie,” she said tightly.
A muscle rippled alongside his jaw. “I’m just offerin’ you a place to wait out of the sun. And a cool drink. Nothin’ more.”
His features were stern, his jaw rigid, but the heat blazing from his eyes mesmerized her, made her want to sway toward him. The intensity of that unblinking stare made her wish he’d take the decision right out of her hands. She’d never willingly take that first step. Her days of following his commands were over.
Chrissi swallowed hard and broke from his glance, looking down the road and praying someone else would appear over the crest of the hill. She needed rescuing from the deep emotions roiling inside her—from the temptation his large, hard frame embodied. However, only the shimmer of heat waves rose off the black tar.
A trickle of moisture dripped between her breasts, gliding along one curve—and just like that, her imagination replaced the slide of that hot little bead with the tip of his tongue. She turned away from him and dragged in a couple of deep breaths, trying to stiffen her resolve, but the only things hardening were the tips of her breasts. She crossed her arms over her chest and lifted her chin, then turned to aim a glare at the one man who had the power to make her knees quiver.
So many memories swamped her as she stared into his handsome, rugged face. So many regrets sat like soured milk in her gut. He’d been “the one” until she’d succumbed to a dark sensual greed.
Too bad she couldn’t turn back the clock about seven years. She’d make damn sure she’d never let him take her hand and pull her into the shadows.
Ezra barely suppressed the urge to step closer and crowd her tall, lithe body against her car. He’d love nothing better than to snug his dick between her legs while he licked that trickle of sweat tracking down her chest, and then follow the curve of her sweet, round breast.
But he and his brothers had planned this abduction down to the last detail. No time now to let a hard-on get in the way. “I’m not leavin’ you on the side of the road. It’s a hundred damn degrees out here, sweetheart. Get in the truck.”
“Don’t call me sweetheart,” she said, sounding a little breathless.
It did his ego good to know she wasn’t unaffected. This was the closest they’d stood in seven years. Since he’d kissed her before letting her head to the girls’ restroom to clean up after he and his brothers had her.
A sordid little chapter he was determined to remedy. If he could get her ass inside his truck.
However, Chrissi, stubborn as ever, jutted her chin high and crossed her arms over her chest. Did she know she was plumping up her breasts, drawing his gaze to the creamy tops? Her clothing stuck to the sweat coating her skin. Her light blouse skimmed close to her narrow waist. Her dark blue trousers pulled tightly as she braced apart her legs. Did she know how well they cupped her mound?
Just that hint of a cleft was enough to add a spike of steel to his already raging erection.
“Maybe you’d let me use your cell phone?” she ground out.
Ezra let a hint of a smile curve the corners of his mouth. One thing he’d learned over the years was the value of patience. He’d waited a long time to be where he was, standing in front of the one woman who had the power to make his knees buckle. The one woman he’d gladly share if that was the only way he could have her.
“Chrissi, don’t you think we’ve waited long enough?” he asked quietly.
Her breath caught, lifting her chest. “I’ve waited long enough for you to act the gentleman and do what I asked. I’ll walk back to town.” She dropped her arms, reached through her car window for her purse, then straightened.
She’d have to stride around him, and he guessed she was girding herself to do just that. Her gaze didn’t rise above his shoulder. She sucked in a deep breath and gave him a wide berth as she brushed past.
Ezra let her go, easing a hip against her red Mustang and watching her walk away—on three-inch heels that stuck to the hot tar, making a sticky sound with each step she took. She made it only about ten feet past the end of his truck before she slowed.
Her shoulders fell, her head turned to the side, but not quite far enough for her to meet his gaze. “You’re not gonna let me go, are you?” she asked softly.
Her profile, so pure and pretty, stirred a suffocating desire inside him. He steeled himself to pretend a strength he was far from feeling. So many hopes rode on the next few minutes.
“I’m just givin’ you a few moments to make up your mind, sweetheart. I have every confidence you’ll do the smart thing.”
“Just a ride to your place to make a call?”
“And a cool drink. Whatever else happens will be up to you. I’ve always let you make your own choices. Even when you were dead wrong. Even when it was killin’ me.”
And even though she still hadn’t moved, he straightened away from her car and walked to the passenger door of his truck. He opened the door and waited.
Chrissi turned her head toward the road, and Ezra held his breath, praying another vehicle wouldn’t come along, praying he’d have the strength to do what had to be done, no matter how much she might beg him to end it later.
When she faced him, he couldn’t read her expression. Her mouth was firmed into a thin line. Her chin tilted. Her brown eyes raked him up and down, and she stepped out, her body moving fluidly, hips swaying. Not a conscious invitation, but he knew if he touched her between her legs right this minute, she’d be wet.
He fought a smile of satisfaction as she walked toward him and stepped up into his cab.