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Archive for 'Contemporary Romance'

Brent Archer: Steak Pies and The Rain City Tales
Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

My first experience with steak pies came in the spring of 2009. My best friend from college informed me that she was leaving Auckland after a two-year stint with her partner, so I decided I’d better get there before I lost the free room and local tour guide. For those of you who’ve read The Officer’s Siren, this might sound familiar. For the purposes of this post, I’ll call her Emily (like I did in the book). Emily took me to the grocery store after my jetlag wore off, and I found a huge selection of these wonderful meat pies. Now I love cheese, and I really love meat and gravy, so the combination of both in a pastry shell had my mouth watering before I even got to the checkout stand. They didn’t disappoint! My favorite by a mile was the steak and brie pies. Australian meat pies have the meat ground, but New Zealand Pies are chunks of steak. I’ve had both, but prefer by a mile the Kiwi (New Zealander) pies. I’d definitely brave the 13-hour flight to have these again.

After returning to Seattle, I didn’t find a source for these wonderful treats until another writing friend, Maia Strong (seriously, check out her stuff – she’s awesome), took me to Pies and Pints on Sixty-Fifth Avenue NE in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Although they had the Aussie version of the meat pies, I loved the place so much, I sent my guys there in both The Officer’s Siren and in the second novel of the Rain City Tales, Past Secrets Present Danger. Sadly, after 13 years, Pies and Pints in Seattle closed in 2017, but the wonderful space, and the yummy meat pies, live on as our guys’ go-to place after work for pool, pies, and tater tots!

The second installment of the Rain City Tales, Past Secrets Present Danger, is now available for download on Amazon and Kobo today! Past Secrets Present Danger follows accountant Roger Matthews navigating his partner, SPD Officer Paul Tomlinson’s, secrets and past when he lands in the hospital after a shooting. Stay tuned for Rain City Tales Book 3: I’m Yours due out before Valentine’s Day, and Rain City Tales Book 4: The Wedding Weekend, out in May 2018.


You can order the first Rain City Tales story, The Officer’s Siren, here.
Checkout Brent’s website for more details on upcoming books.

Excerpt from Past Secrets Present Danger:

The pub teemed with people as they stepped inside, and Roger thought the restaurant seemed overly crowded for a mid-week evening. Paul navigated his way through the sea of chairs, holding Roger’s hand and steering him to a small table not far from the pool table, where Fred Collier waved his arms in animated conversation with Alex and Sarah Templeton.

“Not sitting at the bar this evening, gents?” The bartender, Seb, approached the table with two coasters and tossed the disks onto the table top.

Paul grinned. “No room. How’s married life treating you?”

“I think your buxom Italian wife disappointed all the women and over half the men in this place when she caught you,” Roger joined in.

Seb laughed. “Emily’s amazing. I’m still marveling at how awesome she is.” He leaned in. “Although, just between the three of us, I could do without the jogging outfits she comes up with. Love is blind, though, eh?”

As Seb moved to another table, Fred hurried over. “Paul, good that you’re here. Alex and Sarah challenged me to a game, and I need my partner.”

Eyeing his co-worker, Paul crossed his arms. “What’s the matter?” he asked, his tone wry. “Your pool-shark buddy, Mike, not available?”

Fred’s eyes widened. “It was just that one time, I swear. You were out of town, and I was in a bind.”

“That’s not what Sarah said,” Roger piped up. He loved joining in the teasing interplay between Paul and his boss, and loved even more the fact Paul’s friends and fellow officers had accepted him so readily into their circle. “She told me you constantly beg Mike to come play.”

Paul shifted his gaze from Roger to Fred. “Is this true?” he asked with exaggerated dismay and indignation.

Swinging his gaze toward Sarah and Alex, Fred glared at the couple. The Templetons exchanged glances and shrugged while smothering smiles.

Officer Jason Lynch and his husband Mike Bryant wove their way to Roger and Paul’s table.

Mike’s goofy smile lit up his face. “Did someone mention my name?”

Stifling a laugh, Roger sat back and watched the officers bicker about who was entitled to play and how often Mike was cutting in on Paul’s gig. Seb bustled over and planted his hands on his hips.

“All right, boys. If you don’t cool it,” he said, winking at Roger, “I’ll have to call the cops.”

The room filled with the roar of laughter from the three officers. Jason and Mike took the two extra seats at the table, and Roger handed his menu over to the pair.

“I’m ready to order, Seb,” Roger said.

Seb pulled his pad from his apron. “Shoot.”

“The steak and cheddar pie with a mound of tater tots.” He glanced at the beer list. “And…a bottle of Roger’s Pilsner.”

Mike chuckled next to Roger. “I’ll have the same, except I want a ginger beer.”

Seb nodded. “Paul?”

As his boyfriend and Jason ordered, Roger cast Fred a bemused grin. The poor guy was desperate for Paul to go shoot a game of pool with the Templetons, and Paul was purposefully taking his time, being indecisive about his food and drink order.

When Seb finally left the table, Fred plunked down between Paul and Jason. “Seriously, are you going to help me out, Paul?” He glanced across the table at Mike. “I’m sure there’s someone else here who’d play if you don’t want to.”

Paul leaned toward Roger. “What do you think, babe?”

“Let Mike play.” Roger grinned. “The game’ll be over in about five minutes.”

Another roar of laughter erupted from the table, although this time Fred didn’t join in. He looked like a spoiled child whose favorite toy had been stolen away.

Taking pity on him, Roger turned to Fred. “Just kidding. Go shoot one game.” Roger raised his index finger and waved it in front of Paul. “One game. You have commitments after we’re done eating.”

Heat burned through the look Paul shot him as he pushed himself to his feet. “Okay, Fred. You heard the boss. One game.”

“Commitments?” Jason looked between them.

Mike chuckled and reached his hand under the table. “Commitments.”

Eyes widening, Jason stared at his husband. “Oh. Commitments.”

About the Author

Brent Archer began writing in 2011 at the nudging of his cousins (ahem, Elle James and Delilah Devlin). His first story sold, and he was hooked! Keep up with Brent Archer and his current releases at his website, and follow him on Twitter: @brentarcherwrit.

Allie Boniface: Look up, Angel (F*R*E*E READ)
Monday, January 15th, 2018

First off, a big thank-you to Delilah for hosting me here on her blog!

So here we are in January of a brand new year. Can you believe it’s 2018? I don’t make formal resolutions for myself anymore (ugh! too much pressure!), but I do like to look at the new year for a chance to reboot my daily routines and take a look at how I can become a better writer.

One of my goals this year? To interact more with YOU, my readers. I read an article in the New York Times last fall that really stuck with me. It talked about how people need social interaction, and social support networks, to be both physically and mentally healthy. Among the statistics they cited? People who’d suffered a heart attack had only a quarter the risk of death in the next 3 years if they had a strong support network, as opposed to those without one. In general, people who are socially isolated have a higher risk for stress and inflammation, which in turn can lead to mortality risk factors like high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, and coronary heart disease.

Scary stuff, right?

And yet so many of us walk around attached to our phones, or sit in our living rooms focused on our tablets, and we forget to look up, to have a conversation with those around us, to talk and listen and engage in a very human, one-to-one way.

So my goal this year is to be more present and more engaged with the people in my life. I can’t always do that in-person with my readers, but I can chat with them online and in social media groups and I can develop relationships with them both because of, and outside of, the books I write.

All this is a very long way of inviting you to be part of my journey this year in building better relationships with my readers! Two ways I have already started:

I am resurrecting my blog, and each week I’ll put up a post that will feature a giveaway. I hope you’ll stop by, visit, leave a comment, and throw in your chance to win whatever prize I’m giving away that week.

I am also writing 4 short stories exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. These stories will be free, and they’re my way of thanking my loyal readers and followers for supporting me on my writing journey. The first story, “Look Up, Angel,” released last week, so if you’re interested in reading it, you can subscribe to my newsletter for all the details:

Enjoy this excerpt, and then if you’d like, drop by my blog to check out this week’s giveaway. I hope you’ll become a regular there, or on my Facebook page, or simply drop in every now and then to see what I’ve been up to. In the meantime, Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2018!

Look Up, Angel

Sometimes love is waiting for us in the places we least expect it. All we have to do is look up…

“You’re kidding.” Angela skirted a mom pushing a double baby stroller and darted across 42nd Street before the light turned red. A cab missed her by a quarter inch, hit a puddle, and splashed dirty water all over her ankles. Fabulous. She pressed her cell phone to her cheek. “Is this guy even qualified to be your cameraman?”

“He’s got some experience,” her best friend Sophie said. “At a local cable station, but at least it’s something.”

Angela glanced over her shoulder and crossed 9th Avenue. “Soph, this is one of the biggest shows of your career. And you’re letting a hometown boy who’s got — what? Two or three hours behind the camera? You’re letting him shoot it? I can’t believe Lon isn’t freaking out about it.” The producer of Sophie’s travel show freaked out about everything.

“Not like I have much choice. I’m in the middle of nowhere. This town doesn’t even have a decent coffee shop.”

Horns blared around Angela. People rushed by in an effort to get home. The marquees, the storefronts, the traffic itself, lit up Times Square. She passed three coffee shops in the time it took Sophie to complain about the lack of one in Lindsey Point. She’d never lived anywhere but Brooklyn, as a child, and now Manhattan, as a journalist fresh out of grad school. She couldn’t imagine a place without espresso and parking garages and twenty-four hour take-out.

“Well, you’re not there for too long, right?” she said.

“I’m not sure. It’s a heck of a good story, I’ll tell you that much. I might be here a couple of weeks.”

Angela turned a corner, then another, and stopped in front of her favorite Italian restaurant. She rarely cooked, and at almost nine o’clock, her empty stomach reminded her that it had no patience for her attempts to. “Listen, I’ll call you later. I’m picking up dinner.”

“This late?”

Angela frowned at her phone. “It’s not even nine.”

Sophie laughed. “Sorry. It’s just that this town closes up after seven on a weeknight. I’ve been eating dinner at six.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope.” Sophie paused for a minute. “Call me later, yeah. I want to tell you more about my new cameraman.”

Forty minutes later, Angela arrived at her apartment house in the neighborhood of Chelsea. The building was tiny, but it had a doorman and an exquisite view, if she craned her neck and peered out one window at just the right angle. Plus she could afford it on her salary, without a roommate.

“Angel,” Mario greeted her. He pushed open the door, tipped his cap, and waited until she was safely inside before securing the door behind her.

She smiled. Her doorman was the only person who’d ever called her Angel, instead of her given name, Angela. She thought maybe it was a nickname in the place he came from, not like she knew where that was, but she guessed maybe the Dominican Republic, from his accent. He had light brown skin and a near-perfect smile.

“Coffee tonight?” He held out a paper cup from the shop around the corner.

“You’re so sweet. Thank you.” He’d started the tradition sometime last year, soon after taking the job. She didn’t know if he gave free coffee to everyone in the building, because she kept crazy hours and didn’t see most of her neighbors, but she imagined it was a perk that came with living in a nice place like this one…

Allie’s Website
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Lizzie Ashworth: Refuge in His Arms (F*R*E*E READ)
Friday, January 12th, 2018

Hi Delilah Fans! Hope you have a safe and warm holiday season. Now that all the excitement is dying down, I’ve got something to talk about.

Addiction. It’s a horror show for everyone it touches, and I’ll bet that most of you are touched by it, one way or the other. Fortunately—I guess—the addiction that touches me isn’t opiates or meth. It’s alcohol.

Alcohol is one of those ubiquitous parts of our world that almost everyone enjoys, a sociable, relaxing, and tasty treat. It’s been part of the human experience since pre-history. According to a February 2017 article in National Geographic, “Chemical analysis recently showed that the Chinese were making a kind of wine from rice, honey, and fruit 9,000 years ago. In the Caucasus Mountains of modern-day Georgia and the Zagros Mountains of Iran, grapes were one of the earliest fruits to be domesticated, and wine was made as early as 7,400 years ago.”

Plenty of evidence suggests that from the earliest days of mankind, intoxicants—especially alcoholic drink—have been at the foundation of religion, creative arts, and even the development of language. It seems that getting out of our minds actually helps us get into our minds.

That out-of-mind aspect, unfortunately, can become a serious problem for those who can’t get far enough or often enough out of their minds, and take up substance abuse as a way of life. Some even argue that substance abuse isn’t a matter of deciding anything, that compulsive consumption is an illness that we may be predisposed to due to genetics and/or early childhood experience.

It’s said that alcoholism accounts for around 88,000 deaths every year and costs the nation billions. On a personal level, suffering addiction or experiencing the troubles of a loved one with addiction is a tragedy that seems never-ending. So when I wrote alcoholism into a character in my most recent novel, Refuge in His Arms, it was a choice I made with some hesitation.

No one wants to relive painful experiences. Romance novels aren’t exactly a place where you expect to think about addiction. No one experiences difficult relationships in the same way. But alcoholism and other forms of addiction are pervasive. Characters without flaws are simply not believable.

My story isn’t meant to be a definitive analysis of alcoholism, and the character of David isn’t just about his love of drink. By the time we see him in this story, the worst of his struggle is behind him.

But like compulsive behavior for anyone, the tendency is never far away. And as David Evans shows us in this novel, when the right circumstances arise, the desire for that mind-numbing relief becomes a battle all over again.

I’m giving a discount coupon (GC48J) for Refuge in His Arms. It’s good for three days only, January 12-14, at Smashwords. If you have opinions about the issue of addiction, alcoholism, or if you read the story and have comments, I’d love to hear them. You can email me at

Follow my blog for more of everything including a complete list of all my books and short stories!

Sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter, Liz’s Hot News, for freebies, pre-release deals, and much more.

Here’s hoping your shiny new 2018 is another step toward your happiness! ~ Lizzie

Peter Perrin: Grace’s Turmoil
Sunday, January 7th, 2018

A few years ago, my granddaughter self-published two novels on Amazon, at the age of fourteen. I was impressed with this and decided to try writing a novel myself, after all they do say everyone has a book in them. I thought that at the very least it would be a good mental exercise for my then sixty-nine-year-old brain. How much exercise I could never have imagined.

I believed the younger generation thought most people over the age of sixty had one foot in the grave, and were just killing time until the grim reaper claimed them. But, I knew that wasn’t the case for many people, so I looked for a way to write something to show them in a positive light.

I got the idea to write a romance, with the hero and heroine being over sixty. And, I came up with the idea of my characters being residents at a retirement village that was pretty much a private 5* hotel. There was a lot of scope for activities and relationships and I was sure the idea would work.

Unfortunately, I had virtually no previous writing experience or training and no idea about planning, outlining, plotting etc. So, the book started off as a series of conversations, and developed slowly from there. Sadly, my inexperience meant that a lot of what I wrote wasn’t very good, and I had to throw away a lot of material as the book developed and the story just didn’t work properly. This meant the book took a lot longer than I had initially expected it to.

I submitted a sample chapter to a publisher to see if it fitted with the sort of work they publish, and it did. After a year of rewriting and polishing the manuscript I submitted it and ten months ago I won a publishing contract. Now, at the age of seventy-three, my debut novel, Grace’s Turmoil has been published today as Book One of a series called Not Too Old for Love.

It seems that over recent years more and more readers of romance have become frustrated that all the heroines they read about were aged about twenty, whilst they were on average at least ten years older. Now it seems that there are a growing number of authors writing for this new market, which seems to be being referred to as Seasoned Romance, Second Chance Romance, and the like. I’m proud to be a part of that growing band of authors trying to respond to this demand.

Grace’s Turmoil

Divorced and emotionally damaged, artist Grace Stollery wants nothing more than to spend her semi-retirement painting and let time heal her emotional scars.

But when dashing widower Alfred Nobel moves into her retirement village he turns her life upside down and her heart inside out by awakening feelings she wants to keep dormant.

Alfred quickly sets out to woo Grace and slowly she warms to him. But the village’s resident femme fatale wants him for herself. Will she succeed in driving a wedge between Alfred and Grace?

Get your copy here!


Grace jabbed at the volume button on the remote control, turning up the sound on the television. She was trying to drown out the chatter which filled the palatial residents’ lounge. It had been like that for days, and she’d grown tired of it. Who would have thought the imminent arrival of one man could affect mature ladies like that?

One of the things which had appealed to her when she moved to The Grange retirement village was the lack of men. Yet a man who aroused feelings in her she didn’t want was going to add to their number.

Grace had caught a glimpse of him across The Lounge a few months ago, taking the standard tour of The Grange. He’d towered over the young woman he’d been with, and she’d guessed he was at least six-foot-five. Built like a tank, with a mass of wavy white hair and a snow-white beard, he’d reminded her of a polar bear. His presence had been overpowering and almost menacing. An image of him defending a seventeenth century mansion in days gone by had jumped into her mind.

Looking at him had sent a spontaneous burst of attraction rippling through her. It had caught her by surprise. Becoming attracted to anybody was the last thing she’d needed right then. Her divorce had been too recent and too painful. All she wanted was to focus on her painting to block out the pain. Although she hadn’t come there to look for a man, there was no denying how she’d reacted to the sight of him. She wondered how she would cope when they met. And she couldn’t help feeling he was going to have quite an impact on her life. Whether it would be a good impact or not was the million-dollar question. He might be the greatest thing since sliced bread! Or he could turn out to be a snake in the grass like her ex-husband.

About the Author

Peter Perrin writes sweet, seasoned romances involving larger-than-life mature characters who will make you rethink your views on older people in a positive way. His characters are mature in age but not necessarily in their behaviour. They may not be in the first flush of youth but that doesn’t stop some of them acting like hormonal teenagers.

Peter was born in Romford, in the county of Essex, near London, England. For nearly twenty years he has lived with his wife of almost forty years in a quiet suburb of Swindon, in the county of Wiltshire, in England. He is a father and grandfather.

He is a former member of The Royal Air Force who has served in the UK, and in Madagascar, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. He was also stationed for two years in Aden—which nowadays is part of Yemen.

After almost fifteen-years’ service in The Royal Air Force Peter worked in Engineering, Quality Control, and Procurement Management, not to mention myriad smaller jobs in between those careers.

Now retired Peter’s interests are Writing, Carp Fishing, and (despite being in his early seventies) PC and PlayStation games.

His favourite quote is “Youth passes, but with luck, immaturity can last a lifetime.”

Goodreads Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:

Read an excerpt from Bound & Determined–Coming Tuesday! (Contest)
Saturday, January 6th, 2018

This one’s releasing sometime early Tuesday morning, but I thought you might like to take a peek inside first! Hope you love the excerpt! Information regarding the contest is at the bottom of this post! ~DD

Pre-order your copy here!

Read an excerpt!

When the DJ’s speaker set crashed to the floor as the first women to arrive rushed the tables nearest the stage, Tara Toomey scrambled for a replacement and chalked the mishap up to high spirits.

When one of the volunteers carrying a tray of Jell-O shots tripped, and cherry and lime gelatin slid in glistening trails down his face and naked chest, she laughed as eager women offered to lick him clean.

However, it wasn’t until one of her staff whispered in her ear that she knew she was in for a long night. The main attraction had yet to arrive.

She crushed her dog-eared copy of the “Hook-up” program in her fist and headed toward the old-fashioned, double swinging doors, ready to stomp all the way to Redbone Ranch to drag his butt to town.

As she passed excited, tittering women her smile felt strained, and her nerves stretched taut. The “Annual Honky-tonk Hook-up” had always been a good time, but this year she wished she hadn’t been so quick to volunteer her bar again. Sure, it was good for business and many of the “blow-ins” from Houston, San Antonio, and San Angelo returned throughout the year because they enjoyed the event and Paraiso’s authentic western ambience.

But Tara wished she could return home, crawl into bed, and pull the covers over her head. The last thing she felt ready to do was watch one particular cowboy strut his stuff across the stage and land in some other woman’s clutches—even if it was just one night, completely innocent, right, and for a really good cause. The fact he might blow off the auction pissed her off almost as much as the thought of the spectacle he’d cause if he did finally make an entrance.

If anyone thought splintered speaker casings or a little spilled Jell-O were trouble, they hadn’t seen a room full of women erupt in the wake of one seriously sexy cowboy. Read the rest of this entry »

Sierra Brave: Christmas at the Beach? Yes, please!
Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Hello, I’m Sierra Brave, multi-published author of steamy, spine-tingling romance. Thanks so much to Delilah Devlin for having me guest on her blog today. It’s a pleasure.

After I wrote Crystal Coast Christmas, a relative of mine had the nerve to ask, “Who goes to the beach at Christmas time?”

I’m sorry, but, say what?

At the time, I simply explained my main characters, Jessica and Chase, lived at the coast year round; but even if they didn’t, is there anything better than a day at the beach? No matter if the weather is hot or cold, I love the sand and surf. Even if I don’t dip a single toe into the water, I enjoy a trip to the coast. The minute I set eyes on the ocean, my entire body relaxes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, medical research indicates, “Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”

The waves aren’t the only relaxing element either. The beach offers a feast for many of the senses. Even the smell of the salt in the sea air refreshes and energizes me. Combine the beach and romance and a recipe for love emerges, and I wrote all the books in the Crystal Coast series with that concept in mind.


After escaping a bad relationship and moving into her aunt’s guest quarters, marine biologist Jessica Butler has sworn off love and relationships. Still, she can’t resist a night of no-strings passion with hunky soldier, Captain Chase Culpepper. Their evening sizzles, leaving Jessica satisfied but wary. Her ex did a great job of destroying her self-confidence, leaving Jessica reluctant to take the plunge into romance again. While Chase is asleep, Jessica runs.

Chase can’t believe he’s found his sexual equal in Jessica. When he wakes up alone the next morning, he’s determined to make Jessica his, in spite of her reluctance to put her heart on the line.

Jessica’s sworn off men for good, but the faster she runs, the more Chase finds to love about her. What will it take for him to win her trust and her love?


Jessica closed her eyes, delighting in Chase’s touch. She couldn’t remember the last time a man had taken such time and care to fine-tune her body, testing her flesh to learn where to touch to make her scream. His mouth found her other breast, his tongue tracing the rosy circle.
She squirmed beneath him, bucking her hips, her nails raking across his broad shoulders and down his muscular back. He blazed a trail leading him to her navel, which he nibbled and kissed, making her squeal. “Oh, God!”


Twitter: @bravesierra


Lindsay McKenna: Excerpt from BOXCAR CHRISTMAS
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Read an excerpt from Lindsay McKenna’s heartwarming Boxcar Christmas! And if you’d like to read the story behind this book, head here: The story behind Boxcar Christmas.


November 1
Hamilton, Montana

“It wasn’t much to look at. The wooden slats that made up the ancient red caboose were weathered, the boxcar sitting on the edge of a flat yellow grass meadow, backed by thousands of evergreens in western Montana. Early November wind whistled and cut at Jesse Myer’s exposed face. She felt the icy morning coldness seep through her rain dampened olive green Army jacket as she emerged cautiously out of the woods. She had discovered the boxcar while hunting rosehips scattered along the banks of the Bitterroot River. It was a source of protein for her tightened, gnawing stomach in want of food.

The large, oval-shaped meadow bordered the water and the rose hips were a substantial source of food when in the back country. She chewed slowly on another one, knowing it was packed with nutrition. Shivering, she felt hope spike through her as she walked out of the woods that lay west of Hamilton, a small hunting and fishing tourist town. She had followed the river in search of a place to pitch her tent outside the city limits.

Standing on the edge of the meadow, she fully surveyed it. It rained at dusk last night and then snowflakes had fallen thick and fast throughout the nighttime hours, and toward dawn the ground was covered with about six inches of the white stuff. As a gray dawn sluggishly crawled upon the eastern horizon, the flakes had turned into a soft, constant rain once more. Most of the snow had melted as the temperature rose, but patches of white still existed here and there–it was an Indian summer event. Jesse sincerely hoped that it meant warmer weather would come into the area and warm it up for a couple of weeks while she hunted for a place to live.

She’d discovered the ancient Union Pacific caboose at the edge of the meadow by accident. There was no telling how old it was, the slats of tongue-and-grove wood that composed its sides were worn , the paint chipped off but still solidly in place despite the harsh winter weather that it had obviously endured over the years. There were no railroad tracks around from what she could see. The under carriage of the caboose had been removed and it had been set upon a rectangular concrete slab, reminding her of the tiny house craze sweeping through her Millennial generation.

Her gaze absorbed the forty-foot long boxcar and she could see that at one time, it had been well cared for. But now, it looked utterly abandoned, the paint dull and peeling off the sturdy oak staves beneath it. Someone had brought this caboose out here. Was it someone who lived in Hamilton? Maybe the owner of this plot of land used it as a cabin to hunt and fish on weekends? Jesse had no idea, but there it was. Maybe it could be a possible home for her instead of the tent she had strapped to the huge knapsack she carried on her back. She wanted to make sure no one was living in it presently and thought about trespassing to find out–even though it went against her grain. Jesse couldn’t explain the allure to do just that.

She called out several times, her voice echoing around the meadow. There was no response or movement from inside the boxcar. The four windows along the meadow side were dirty, and she longed to clean them. Deciding either no one was home or living in it, she curved her hand around the rusted metal railing at the rear platform of the boxcar and took the first tentative step upward. The ends of each wooden step curved upward from age and now rested precariously on the metal frame beneath each one, the nails pulled out by rain and snow over the years. The step groaned. Not that she weighed that much. In the Army, she had been a hundred and sixty pounds; but three months ago, when she received an honorable medical discharge at the end of eight years of service, she had slowly lost at least twenty-five pounds due lack of appetite and no money to buy food. Her Army jacket, the only reminder of her life since age eighteen, hung loosely on her frame.

Her gloves were threadbare, her fingertips numb. She hauled herself up the rest of the creaking wooden steps and leaned forward, cupping her hands around her eyes and peering through the dirty glass of the door to see what was inside the caboose. It was a possible place to live but she had no money for a room rental. She’d just gotten a job at Katie’s Koffee Bean in Hamilton as a dish washer. But it was part time and Jesse had no money yet to rent a room in town, much less an apartment. She had lived in her tent since leaving the Army and was prepared to do it now, but maybe her luck was about to change.

Get your copy here!