Archive for 'excerpt'
Friday, May 17th, 2019
Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. That’s the way it is in both life and writing. I have several publishers and occasional participate in Indie projects, so I have no control over when my books are released. Sometimes I may go several months without a new release. Then there are times like this when I had two books releasing less than two weeks apart.
Even nicer? They’re totally different kinds of projects. One is a contemporary romantic suspense story for an anthology. The other is a smoking hot science fiction romance.
The first book released was STRANDED: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY. This is actually the second A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. It’s fun to write a short story. There’s not a lot of time to tell the story so everything has to be tight, which means lots of tension and action between the main characters.
My story is “Undercover Lover“—Undercover as a waitress in a biker bar, DEA agent Sherry Norman is alone, stranded without backup until Ellis Smith, a man from her past, walks into the bar and back into her life.
Mind racing to try to figure a way out, she glanced toward the door when it opened. Her heart stopped. The entire bar dropped away. She no longer felt Deke’s hands on her. All she could see was the man who’d just walked in.
He stood about six-eight, his shoulders nearly as wide as the doorway. He was all muscle, which was on display as he wore nothing more than an open leather vest, a pair of faded jeans, and leather biker boots.
“Ellis,” she whispered.
“What was that?” Deke demanded, giving her a shake.
That drew the attention of the man. He looked their way and his gaze narrowed. “That’s my old man,” she told him. Deke was so surprised, he released her.
Praying she wasn’t making a mistake that might cost her dearly, she hurried over to the man she hadn’t laid eyes on in ten years. He watched her, his eyes still as blue as a lake in summer. His shaggy blond hair fell to his shoulders.
She put her hands on his shoulders and went up on her toes. “Kiss me,” she whispered. Not giving him time to object, she laid her lips against his.
Only days after the anthology came out, RESCUING RORY was released. This hot science fiction romance was actually published before for a very short period of time some years ago. It was the last book that a former publisher released before they closed their doors. I’d always planned for the Marks Mercenaries series to be a five book series, so I’m thrilled that it’s finally happening. The other four books in the series have been written and contracted and should be out very soon.
Being a writer is never boring.
Marks Mercenaries, Book 1
Betrayed and sold into slavery after her father’s death, Rory Banks finds herself dancing on the Exos, a deep-space pleasure ship. So when a stranger breaks open her cage and offers her a way out, she grabs it and runs.
Kal Marks and his brothers are space mercenaries and traders who have spent the past ten years searching for their younger sister. Their hunt has led them to the Exos and to Rory, who they hope will have information. But Kal never counted on wanting Rory or on the sexual tension and scorching heat that blazes between them. This mission just got a lot more complicated.
What did Rory think she was doing? And why the hell did she want to bunk somewhere else?
Well, he wasn’t having it. She belonged here with him.
He didn’t question the craziness of that last thought. He was long past rational reasoning when it came to the woman perched on his lap. Just the thought of her leaving him left his guts in a knot. It was like getting a fist to his heart when she’d casually mentioned Albion 5, but nothing like the boot to the balls he’d received when she’d said she wanted to move out of his quarters.
None of it made sense. Why should he care that she didn’t want to stay with him? He’d just met her, barely knew her, but that didn’t matter one little bit. They’d been through more in that short time than many people had in a lifetime together. He’d protected her. Saved her life. And she’d given him her trust.
The muscle beneath his eye continued to flutter. He forced himself to stop grinding his back teeth together for fear of damaging them. Rory felt right in his arms. He hadn’t realized how empty his arms or his life had been until he’d filled them with her.
Evernight Publishing: https://www.evernightpublishing.com/rescuing-rory-by-n-j-walters/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rescuing-rory-nj-walters/1119955681
About the Author
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Visit me at:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
Here’s a snippet from my latest release. Be warned. The story is very erotic, contains scenes with BDSM, and features two female lovers—a witch and a vampire. Enjoy their “first meet”. Elena has no clue that her “target” is about to get the upper hand. I stayed twice in a hotel right next to the Old Absinthe House and knew I had to feature it in a story. I love, love, love it! Remember, you can get a FREE copy here: Amazon
Excerpt from GILDED CAGE
Elena approached Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House from Bienville Street. She skirted the sidewalk, striding in long steps, enjoying the cloying heat, the mingled scents of life and decay, sniffing delicately when she passed a sewer grate, but not minding the odors all that much. Tonight, little would spoil her mood.
The tavern looked good for its age—although not as good as Elena. Not a single wrinkle marred her face. Not that she was mindful of her beauty. She only accepted it as a fact, having come slowly to acceptance, acknowledging her beauty not as a gift or a curse.
She dressed simply. Straight-legged blue jeans, a black tank, and black military boots. A man’s black-banded watch sat on her left wrist. Her hair was pulled tightly into a ponytail at the back of her head. Her only concession to her femininity were the large white-gold hoops she wore in her ears, and only because she liked the way they bumped against her cheeks.
Still, as severe as she knew she’d dressed, Elena drew attention. She had a model’s long, lithe frame and moved as fluidly as a cat. Again, facts about which she was aware of but not overly self-impressed.
She’d reached the point in her long life where little mattered. Not friendships, because they were fleeting. Not money, because it could be gone in a single day—something she’d faced twice now in her lifetime. Little interested her. She’d seen most of the world. Done everything. Her only constant was the hunger that drove her even now when she was wishing she could ignore it just a while longer.
The other constant was Angela. And she was meeting her tonight for the first time in ten years.
Her stomach growled loudly, and Elena growled right back, alarming a musician carrying a guitar case so much so that he stepped onto the street to make a wide arc around her.
Something in his keen eyes said he knew what she was. What she must do. And soon. She toyed with the idea of stalking him, making him her supper. That might amuse her, but she’d have annoying regrets later because she no longer wished to prey on the innocent.
Besides, he’d looked to be in the flush of good health, smelled of broccoli and legumes. His sweat was fresh, pure. She wrinkled her nose because she preferred blood flavored with sin even when she wasn’t being noble. Or at least, trying very hard to be.
Her secret wish, the one she’d shared only with a priest before she’d ripped out his throat, was that she would ascend to heaven after a very long stay in purgatory. Something the priest had said was impossible due to the horrendous list of sins she’d confessed.
No matter that she’d been forced into this undead life. The moment she’d opened her mouth and accepted Angela’s blood, she’d forever outlawed her soul.
At least, she’d have good company.
Her phone chirped, and she slipped it from her back pocket and swiped across the screen.
Am here. Where r u?
Elena grinned and tapped the button on the side to close the phone. She was so close she didn’t bother responding.
She approached the doors to the Absinthe House, smelled the citrusy, medicinal scent of the absinthe they served and the burnt sugar they lit atop the drink the house was named for. The odors of sweat and perfume, fresh alcohol from opened bottles, and stale liquor oozing from the pores of patrons, kicked up her heart beats. She dragged in the smells, discovered one intriguing aroma among the snarled pack, and homed in on it—lush, sweet musk. Feminine. Dark.
The sense she’d honed over time found the sinner. Her gaze tracked over the tables and the people seated at the bar, landing at last on a woman whose unblinking eyes stared right back.
Angela could wait. This one was too delicious to pass up. The woman’s hair was a mass of shiny corkscrew curls, which tumbled past her shoulders in shades of dark brown, blond and red. Her skin tone was a milky latte. Her eyes were golden and tilted upward at the outside corners, long, thick lashes sweeping downward to cast shadows against glowing cheeks, before rising again so that their glances locked.
The vixen’s mouth sent a thrill through Elena’s body, cinching her nipples, hardening her clit. Her hips swayed a little deeper as she approached. Draga, esti mina. You’re mine.
The woman’s head canted slightly, as though she had heard her, which surprised Elena. Most humans couldn’t hear the suggestions although they acted upon them, thinking they’d formed the thought themselves. Perhaps she was a sensitive, one with psychic gifts. There were many in this city.
Elena stopped beside the table. “Are you expecting anyone?”
A glance flitted over Elena’s slim frame. “I think I’ve been waiting for you.” Her voice oozed like caramelized sugar onto Elena’s skin.
Satisfaction shivered through Elena as she sat in the empty chair opposite the woman and let her own gaze trail lower. Her heart fluttered at the sight of the temptress’s breasts—nipples like dark moons, shadowing her gold tank, the tips protruding, lengthening as Elena stared.
Elena’s mouth watered; her tongue scraped the edge of an eyetooth, drawing blood. Her belly growled again, but the music and sounds of conversations flowing around them masked the insistent sound.
The dark-skinned woman lifted a hand from her lap, one long, slender finger beckoning a waitress. “Would you like a drink?”
“Perhaps, later.” Elena smiled, dipping her eyelids as she gave the sultry beauty a look that said without words what she hungered for.
A slight, feline smile curved the corners of her generous mouth. “Then we’ll leave. My apartment’s not far.”
Thursday, May 2nd, 2019
I’ve always heard “there’s a time and place for everything.” Well, in romance… every time and every place is how it can work… but it’s not always easy to make it happen. Bedrooms… Well, they have beds. Houses, lots of flat surfaces.
But what happens when the right moment put you in a place that isn’t so easy to make it work. (Felt like I channeled Tim Gunn for a minute).
When I was writing Playing With Fire, I had a lot of fun, but part of the fun was finding my characters in a rather unconventional locale—the heroine’s old model VW Rabbit.
Now, I will admit to a certain affinity for this diminutive car. My first vehicle was a 1981 VW Rabbit (I bought it in 1991), and the poor dear wasn’t in the best shape, but it got me all over California during my last three years in college. And while Jefferson Automobile and I had a good time together, I thought it might be a challenge for my hero (six-feet-plus) to attempt a little sexy time in such a petite auto.
So what does any author do when confronted with a question?
That’s right… LOOK IT UP!
Sooo many articles online… Even one that gave suggestions for positions based on Auto Model that included SOUNDTRACK suggestions… *wink* So when you’re planning the “spur of the moment” sexy times…be prepared…
Playing With Fire
St. Raphael, CA Book 2
When Finley tells him that she’s given up on love and done with men in general, Jackson sets out to prove that he’s not only the man she was meant to be with, he’s a firefighter who knows how to heal her heart and soul. Is he Playing With Fire?
Get your copy here!
Finley slipped her hand between them, and curled her fingers into her pocket, withdrawing a small foil packet held loosely between her fingers. “We don’t want to waste this, do we?”
She felt him stiffen against her, and it wasn’t just the hard ridge in his jeans; it was every single inch of him and she smiled. She’d turned the tables on him, taken his impromptu admission to heart.
“Finley, this isn’t the place-”
“It’s the perfect place,” she argued back, taking a quick look around, “there’s no one out here, and even if they were, the trees are so overgrown no one could possibly see us.”
She worked her hand over his length. His open-mouthed groan muffled her soft satisfied laugh.
“You can’t do this to me, Fin.”
“To you? I’m hoping to do it ‘with’ you.” Her next pass along his length brought his zipper down with it, and he leaned into her touch.
It was addicting, she decided, having this power over a man as strong as Jackson. And as she released the button on the waistband of his jeans she heard him swear under his breath.
“I’m sorry,” she asked him in a sweet and playful tone, “I didn’t hear that. What did you say?”
“Dammit, Finley,” his voice ground out between his teeth as he drew in one breath after another, “don’t tease me. There’s no way we’re going to fit in your car.”
“Well,” she flattened her palm over his stomach and slid it down under the waistband of his briefs, “you fit on the drive up here.”
He turned them, bracing his hands on the top of her car on either side of her body. The shift in their positions added enough friction to make him hiss. “That stick shift is going to make one of us very uncomfortable.”
“You have to think creatively.” She leaned closer, pressing her lips against his chest, and wondered if that was really the speed of his heart or her own. “Or you could put yourself in my hands.”
She felt him swell against her palm and licked her lips. “Then again, looks like you already have.”
Reaching out with her free hand she tugged open the passenger door. A moment later she was busy fiddling with the seat. Behind her, Jackson leaned heavily against the car his jaw tightly clenched.
She heard the impatient edge in his voice and couldn’t help but smile hoping he couldn’t see. “Just a minute.”
The snap in his tone made her laugh outright. “If you want to hurry so much, you could get rid of those jeans.” She heard the rustle of fabric and turned a moment later to find Jackson gloriously naked in the moonlight. She pulled her lower lip into her mouth, enjoying the sharp brush of her teeth against the soft flesh. “Wow.”
His shoulders rose and fell as she looked at him, from head to toe and back again, with a long curious pause in the middle.
“Why did you take off the shirt?” Mentally she kicked herself. One didn’t question a panty-melting man about why he took his clothes off. One just enjoyed the view and said, “Thank you.”
Oh my god. “Did I really say that out loud?”
His broad grin was answer enough. But then he opened his mouth and made her go weak in the knees. “It’s going to get hot in your car, Finley.” He gestured at her with a gleam in his eyes. “I think you might want to get rid of all of that.”
She reached for her waistband and pulled it down over her hips, her panties caught up in the motion ended up tangled at her feet. The long hip-length tunic she wore kept her covered in shadow.
“That’s not fair,” he growled the words and moved closer, his hands reaching for the hem. “I think it’s only fair that I get to see all of you too.”
She wanted to cross her arms over her chest and back away, but that would be silly given the number of times they’d been together over the last few weeks.
Once you’ve had a man naked in your kitchen, your legs wrapped around his waist as you tumble half the spice rack into your sink, it’s silly to hide yourself from him when you’re alone and in the dark.
Jackson reached over and slid his fingers under the hem, brushing the back of his hand against her stomach. “Need some help?”
She shook her head. “Get in the backseat and I’ll take it off.”
It took only a second or two for him to climb into the backseat of her car, tucked into the corner with one leg bent and the other leg stretched out the door.
Against the aged upholstery, Jackson sprawled like a mythological god. And when he held out a hand, crooking his finger to draw her closer, she grabbed the hem of her azure tunic and pulled it off, the beaded neckline brushing over her face, another layer of sensation prickling along her skin.
Ducking into the car, she ended up straddling his leg. The heat of his thigh between hers set her skin aflame.
About Reina Torres
Who would have thought that I’d start off as a painfully shy child writing stories and end up as a painfully shy adult writing books and publishing them for others to read? Crazy? That’s me!!
When I was a little girl, I read every book I could get my hands on and if I didn’t have one available to read, I’d get out my pencils and paper and write down stories and scenes. Waiting for my mom to finish working, I’d duck into the ladies’ breakroom and use the typewriter. I’d feel like Jessica Fletcher, happily tap, tap, tapping away until I got to ‘The End.” Couldn’t quite get the flourish after that and end up tearing the paper, but it was cool and scary to sit down and read the book or give it to my friends to read.
Now, my ‘typewriter’ doesn’t clack the same way and the I don’t even have paper to pull out of it with a nod of satisfaction, but I have the joy and excitement of sharing my characters and books with people all around the world!
I hope you’ll enjoy reading my books, because I’m going to keep writing as long as the characters are feeling chatty!
Amazon Page http://www.amazon.com/author/reinatorresromance
Reina Torres Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ReinaTorresRomance/
Reina’s Readers https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReinaTorresReaders/
Tell me your favorite car/vehicle. Either one you’ve owned or want to own… and what was its name?/would be its name?
Prize—Two winners, for an ebook of Playing With Fire or any other of my St. Raphael, CA books
Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
UPDATE: The winner is…Booklady!
It’s finally here! 322 pages of goodness! My latest anthology, filled with wonderful stories—some action-packed, some poignant, some funny! All of them are sexy! I can’t wait to hear what you all think. And after you’ve had a chance to dive in, I want to hear what you’d like to see me do next. My plan is to publish at least one a year, depends on how busy I am. As always. 🙂
Anyway, I’ll give you an overview of the book then an excerpt from my shorty, which is a prequel to another Montana Bounty Hunters story (to be written soon!). My entry is entitled “Quincy Down Under”, and you’ll get the joke/double entendre when you read it. LOL
And there’s a contest, of course! You’ll have a second chance to win if you head over to the Collections website and comment there, too!
Comment for a chance to win a download of one of the full-size books below. You can tell me whether you love short stories. Tell me what theme you’d like to see for the next one. Or just ramble about what you’ll be doing while you’re reading the sexy shorties in this collection (passing time in a dentist’s office, reading sexy stories to your significant other in bed at night, etc.). Just be sure to comment!
Here’s what you might win (click on the covers to learn more):
Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
Get it in Print or eBook!
The stories inside…
A Stranger’s Kiss by A.C. Dawn – Sparks in the sky ignite an inferno when a millionaire bad boy rescues a struggling romance writer stranded in an airport
Shelter from the Storm by A.J. Harris – A rogue super soldier and an ocean-dwelling scout discover the keys to surviving enemy soldiers and giant super-storms on their flooded world may be each other
Reviving Artemis by Ara Geller – Defying her alpha’s direct orders, a young warrior braves a pack of hunting werewolves to finally claim her Mate
Quincy Down Under by Delilah Devlin – A bounty hunter following a lead is trapped in an underground-bunker-turned-beauty-salon with a pretty beautician
Rescuing Alaska by Elle James – A Coast Guardsman on an Alaskan fishing trip jumps into frigid waters and dares a bear-ridden island to rescue a beautiful deckhand
Hourglass by Kenzie Mathews – With danger all around them, time-hopping graduate students find it hard to keep their clothes on while their time machine glitches
Out of This World by Kimberly Dean – When an astronaut is stranded without a research partner, her mission’s bad boy commander volunteers to help her complete her studies…on sex in space
Burning Stars by Kimberly Lithe – Heated glances and flirtatious banter ignite into a fever pitch when a mechanic aboard a stranded starship looks for her rescue from an intergalactic criminal
Switching Call by Lucrecia Christina – Stranded in a field, a tow truck driver learns from his sassy rescuer that there’s more to getting stuck in the mud than spinning tires
A Change in Predicament by Melanie Jayne – A doctor with a death wish and a history of bad decisions uses her wits to survive a kidnapping by the wounded leader of a dangerous gang
Put it in a Book by Michal Scott – Trapped in a book by a sorcerer for rejecting his sexual advances, an ex-slave’s daughter discovers one hope of rescue – a nosy thief
Undercover Lover by N.J. Walters – A DEA agent working undercover as a waitress in a dangerous biker bar is stranded without backup until a man from her past walks in
Too Deep by Sam Heathers – When an undercover officer loses her handlers in the outside world, she must trust the top lieutenant of a gun-running gang to survive
Going Down by Sukie Chapin – One broken elevator, one sexy boss, one hot night…maybe falling isn’t so bad after all
An Excerpt from “Quincy Down Under”
Meet my heroine…
“Looks like a damn hickey,” the elderly beauty operator said in her raspy voice as she set the straightening wand in its metal stand.
Tamara Adams rose from the seat at Miss Gracie’s station and leaned closer toward the marquee lights. Yup, the tender mark on her neck did indeed look like a love bite. She touched her finger to the burn and hissed.
“A little aloe vera will fix you right up,” Miss Gracie said and rummaged through a drawer to pick up a tube that looked to be twenty years old and squeezed of all its precious cream.
Tamara bit back a grimace and waved the woman away. “Thank you so much for straightening the back of my hair, but I’ll take care of the burn. You have a dinner at the senior center. Don’t want to be late,” she sang.
Miss Gracie’s eyebrows shot halfway up her forehead. “Thanks for reminding me.” She quickly retrieved her purse from her bottom drawer and headed toward the door leading out of the beauty shop.
The older woman glanced down at the cinder block holding the door open then gave Tamara a pointed stare. Tamara waved her hand in acknowledgement of the issue she still hadn’t addressed, and then held her breath as the woman slowly climbed the steep steps. Miss Gracie disappeared into the sunlight that filtered down the metal staircase—the only natural lighting in Tamara’s tiny shop.
When she was alone, Tamara moved toward her own station, her Sketchers sticking to the misting of hairspray that always surrounded Miss Gracie’s chair, making a sound reminiscent of Squidward’s tentacles.
She opened her own drawer, pulled out a tube of concealer, then did her best to mask the nasty red burn. So, maybe she should have treated it with antibiotic cream first, but she planned to hit Slim ’n’ Shorty’s for a drink as soon as she finished cleaning up and counting her earnings for the day.
Tamara snorted. Wouldn’t take a minute to empty her cash drawer. Miss Gracie’s elderly clients, the ones who could make it down the steep steps, had been the only customers that day.
Staring into her well-lit mirror, Tamara didn’t get it. She was a walking advertisement for her skills. Her messy-wavy, chin-length bob was all the rage in Hollywood. The platinum color with the lone rose-pink streak was flawless.
But she knew the problem was the location of her shop, and the fact she needed more noticeable signage for customers to even find it. Again, she snorted.
Hell, a billboard wouldn’t be enough to convince women to make the trek down into her doomsday-bunker-turned-hair-salon.
Footsteps sounded on the metal staircase, and she whirled, excited that she’d have at least one paying customer this day. However, the huge man descending the steps wiped her smile away. There was something about him that told her he was trouble. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. She’d have to remember to take a razor to them later.
Read the rest of this entry »
Monday, April 29th, 2019
Just after I moved to the area where I now live (New South Wales, Australia), I checked out possibilities for classes as I’m always interested in learning new things. Finding a six-week evening course on making silver jewelry, I asked if it would be suitable for a complete beginner; assured that it was, I signed up. Well, it wasn’t. The tutor preferred to work with the seven others all of whom who had done a course with her previously. She started me off cutting silver, and only later did I realize she hadn’t given any occupational health and safety information surely essential in a studio with sharp tools, soldering and electrical equipment, and a gas-heated dish. I pestered her with “Is this OK?” and “What do I do next?”, and filled a notebook with instructions. After the six weeks, I ended up with a ring, two pairs of earrings and an unfinished pendant. The ring was too small, one pair of earrings too heavy while the other, on which I etched a simple design, was definitely wearable.
But I did come away from this unsatisfactory experience with something worthwhile: an idea for crafting a story involving a silver jewelry designer. My contemporary romantic comedy, Silver Linings, was hatched. I’d recently completed Hot Ticket, which is located in tropical Darwin, and I wanted to set this new romance at the other end of Australia, in an isolated area with harsh winter weather. I love researching, and if it involves travel, so much the better! So I explored southern Tasmania, conceiving a wild island on the edge of the Southern Ocean. I also spent time in Hobart and nearby areas visiting galleries similar to where my characters could sell their creations, and inventing a funky bar where Alistair takes Cassandra after he almost runs her over. No one almost ran me over but I did get to a funky bar…
He almost runs her over, she breaks a shoe in a drain…what can he do but play Prince Charming? This near accident caused by Alistair is Cassandra’s introduction to life in the fun lane. Both fresh out of inappropriate relationships and jobs, each is novelty value for the other. But their exes are pulling tricks to be reinstated, offering lifestyles where income is guaranteed. So can Cassie’s passion for fashioning silver jewellery and Al’s for re-purposing driftwood timber keep them fed?
Friday, bloody Friday. Why did it always rain on Fridays?
Waiting at a red light, Alistair drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Might as well rain forever. No job, retrenched this sodden morning after four years, downsizing they called it. No girlfriend, ditched last soaking Friday after two years, upsizing Toni called it.
By the time the light condescended to turn green, he could have become fluent in Urdu. He flicked the wipers to fast, the heater to high, and the headlights on as he joined the five p.m. traffic crawling towards Hobart’s Tasman Bridge. July in southern Tasmania made a man hallucinate about a tropical Queensland beach—and yet he loved the island. Which was why he’d fallen onto the singles trash heap. And why he’d probably be jobless until the South Pole’s icecap melted and drowned them all. He didn’t need to open the window to feel the chilly winds of a miserable future.
Jeez! He stamped on the brake. Why the hell didn’t the damn fool woman look? Glancing in the rear view mirror, he sucked in his breath. She was standing in the roadway. Thank God he hadn’t hit her. A bus behind him honked as he skidded to a halt. Just his luck, he’d pulled up at a stop. He inched forward, pushed into park, toggled the engine off and rummaged for his umbrella. He should clean up this post-Toni mess of newspapers, chocolate wrappers, apple cores, and—hey, was this lottery ticket as winner? Nah, nothing in his life was a winner. His fingers located the recalcitrant umbrella. He swung out of the car in time to see the bus driver make a rude sign at him. He returned it and was rewarded with a shower of slimy spray as the bus pulled out.
Cassandra had no desire to do a Cinderella and leave her shoe in the gutter, so she stumbled onto the kerb on one and a half heels. She glared in the direction of a silver bullet of a car. Not satisfied with half-drowning her, that maniac had ruined her shoes. She hobbled to a streetlight to lean against it, took off her left shoe and examined it. She’d felt it catch in a drain as she struggled to save herself from annihilation. Tatters of leather were all that connected the last two inches of heel to the first four.
The sight of her poor battered shoe crushed the last straw holding up her life. Straws had been crumpling for months, and after today’s incendiary stuff in her office, and terminal exasperation with her serial date-cancelling fiancé, she might a well drop out of civilisation. Ex-office, since she’d left her boss in no doubt that she would ever go back. And fiancé? Ex too? Her engagement ring, tossed among the clutter at the bottom of her bag two hours ago when Jeremy had cancelled tonight, was emitting persuasive return-to-sender signals. Then he’d couriered the theatre tickets for this evening, suggesting she took her brother. Getting run over was almost a preferred option to going anywhere with Gordon.
She sighed, regarded her shoe with displeasure, and pushed her foot into it. It would have to get her home, if she could ever manage to cross the road to her bus stop.
Friday, April 26th, 2019
Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Womanist Original Gangster
The term “womanist” was developed by African-American theologian, Delores Williams, to distinguish the feminist theology of African American women like herself and Katie G. Canon from the feminist theology of their Caucasian counterparts, where sexism in the church and the larger society was being addressed, but not racism. As African Americans in a predominantly white denomination, Williams and Canon and those who came after them, knew there could be no progress for African American women in the church, and by extension the larger society, if racism was ignored. I knew both Delores and Katie, studied alongside them, and belonged to the same denomination. I was privileged to call them colleague and friend. What Delores and Katie started doing in their writings in the 1980’s, Ida B. Wells-Barnett was doing in the 1880’s, and beyond, in hers.
Born into slavery in 1862 in Mississippi, Wells-Barnett lived as a life-long activist, confronting racial injustice wherever she encountered it. She sued a train car company when she was put off a first-class train even though she had a ticket. She marched in the integrated Illinois delegation to a 1913 suffrage demonstration, despite the handwringing racism of the march’s white organizers. She’s probably best known for her anti-lynching exposé, “The Red Record and Southern Horrors Lynch Law in All Its Phases” where she exposed lynching justifications for the lies they were. She continued her crusade here and abroad, despite having her presses of her newspaper burned and her life threatened numerous times. She married, raised a family and continued her activism until her death in 1931.
James Weldon Johnson wrote these words in his poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”:
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered
We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
Out from the gloomy past
Til now we stand at last
In the white gleam
Where our bright star is cast
Johnson’s brother, John Rosamund Johnson, set the poem to music, and we in the African American community sing it as the Black National anthem. The hope and pride reflected in the words of “Lift Every Voice” have always warmed me with pride when I sing them. Knowing about this Reconstruction-era woman whose life and work embodies the anthem’s ode to perseverance inspires me as well.
“Put It In A Book” by Michal Scott
The daughter of ex-slaves, Aziza Williams uses her freedom to teach slaves to read, a law-breaking activity that forces her to flee the United States for the Free and Independent Republic of Liberia, where her independent and injustice-confronting ways garners the unwanted sexual attention of a dibia, Dulee Morlu. In a cruel twist of fate, Morlu uses Aziza’s love for education against her and imprisons her in a book. He declares she will remain there until she submits to him. After a month of imprisonment, Aziza despairs that Morlu is right: no one will ever read her book. Fear that she may surrender to him begins to overwhelm her. Then one day hope flutters through her spirit as she senses the unfamiliar touch of Sekou Caine, an audacious and inquisitive thief, leafing through her pages…
“Well, you’re free now.”
She looked toward the window. “Not for long.” Sadness glittered in the tears pooling in her eyes. “Many times with great delight he stated that only by giving myself to him, or having someone take my place, will I be free. If neither happens, I’ll be forced back into the book at sunrise.”
Sekou frowned, anxiety rolling in his gut.
“It’s how my story ends,” she continued. “He read it to me so often I have it memorized.” She closed her eyes and recited…
“Only two paths lead to freedom. Two paths she will never traverse: becoming the dibia’s slave or allowing another to make love to her and then replace her in the story, so now the story becomes his. So, in this story she will remain, too proud to yield and too principled to ask another to pay so high a price.”
She looked at Sekou.
“Why do you believe him?” he whispered.
“Because it’s true. I’ll never submit to him or let anyone be stranded as I was.”
A feeling swelled inside Sekou. He touched her hand and hoped the courage moving inside him might move in her. “We can change that ending,” he said, his heart thudding in his chest.
Aziza frowned. “How?”
He cupped her cheek. “Let me make love to you.”
She pulled away, horrified. “I couldn’t. Just these few moments of freedom…” She closed her eyes. “I couldn’t live knowing I’d stranded you within the pages of that book.”
He touched her cheek and offered her a half-smile. “I’d happily live in a book if I could free you.” And he knew his words to be true. He’d sacrifice himself for her, although they’d just met.
Pre-order link: https://amzn.to/2JyIK4V
About Michal Scott
Michal Scott is the penname of Rev. Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. A native New Yorker, Anna is a recent transplant to the Southwest and is enjoying the great weather along with her husband of twenty-nine years and their two cats. Her love of history and romance came together in her first novella with Wild Rose Press, One Breath Away.
Anna has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 2003 and holds membership in six of their chapters. She also writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance as Anna M. Taylor. You can connect with Michal on Twitter @mscottauthor1 and learn more about her writing at www.michalscott.webs.com.
Thursday, April 11th, 2019
Over the last year and a half, I’ve developed an intimate relationship with grief and loss. Among several passings of family, friends, and colleagues, my family lost our beloved grandmother last year, and my amazing uncle at the end of last month. A few evenings ago, I attended the memorial for a friend who we lost to cancer at the end of February, and I was struck by something one of the speakers said. Our friend had been a long-time and well-known member of the folk dance community in Seattle. The speaker talked about the “village” coming together to help the family both financially and in any way to help ease his journey to whatever was next for him. Up until and through the night he died, the village came out to sing, play music, and bring food and relief to him and his family. Her comments reminded me about the village I had for each loss. Our family rallied around both our grandmother and my uncle as they declined and left us. Friends in the acting community came together to offer support to each other for the fairly sudden losses of two of our colleagues in the last year. And the village came together to throw one hell of a wake for our dear friend in the dance community. He said to “Dance every day,” and that evening, we danced in his honor.
Over the course of the last year, I considered the loss of my grandmother and the impending loss of my uncle while writing Saving Parker. Our protagonist, Parker Rice, is dealt a difficult hand. His father died a hero in the military when he was eight, and his mother never got over her husband’s death. Parker further deals with the loss of his mother, first emotionally when she refuses to protect him through a parade of physically abusive men culminating in the worst of them, Earl, taking her away physically. Alone and closed off, he has a hard time trusting anyone. As the novel continues, Parker suffers more losses, but he finds a village of people ready to lift him up. People who would do anything for him and believed in him even in his darkest hours. Parker discovers the mechanisms to deal with each loss and push forward to improve his life and situation with the help of his friends and the man he finds to love.
The fifth installment of the Rain City Tales, Saving Parker, is now available for download on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. Saving Parker follows Parker Rice, an abandoned and abused thief who needs a second chance, and the attorney with the unconventional family, Anthony Swifson, who falls hard for him but can’t reconcile the eleven years between them. Stay tuned for Rain City Tales Book 6: Song of Salvation due out in July 2019.
You can order the first Rain City Tales story, The Officer’s Siren, here, Rain City Tales 2, Past Secrets Present Danger, here; Rain City Tales 3, I’m Yours, here; and Rain City Tales 4, The Wedding Weekend, here. Checkout Brent’s website for more details on upcoming books.
Sunlight streamed through the open blinds of the window, shining against Parker’s closed eyelids. He turned and opened them with a groan. The events of the prior evening flooded his thoughts, and he endured another round of shivers. Even with Anthony’s assurances, Parker didn’t believe for a moment Earl wouldn’t be back.
With a deep breath, he collected his wits and pushed himself up to sit, dangling his legs off the bed. He stared out of the window, taking in the blue sky and the clouds pushing their way across. A cool breeze blew in through the open window, and Parker tugged the blanket around his shoulders. He rose and closed the window, staring across the lush, green lawn to the guest house. A few windows stood open, but he saw no sign of Anthony.
Turning away, he let the blanket fall. He pulled on the boxer briefs next to the bed. Shuffling into the bathroom, his feet met the cold, tiled floor. With a flinch, he stepped onto the small rug and stared into the mirror over the sink. An angry, purple bruise adorned the spot between his collarbone and the left side of his neck. He turned and found four more between his neck and shoulder where Earl’s fingers had dug in. The rest of his bruises from the prior week’s kicks had largely disappeared, but the fresh marks heightened Parker’s anxiety that his mother’s boyfriend would return to exact revenge for the arrest and the injuries.
A soft knock at the door drew his attention. Anthony’s voice filtered into the bedroom. “Parker? Are you okay?”
“Fine,” he called and shuffled back to the bed. He grabbed the T-shirt he’d worn the prior evening and pulled it over his head. “You can come in if you want.”
The bedroom door opened to reveal Anthony in a long-sleeved pullover and jeans. “How are you doing this morning?” He stepped inside, but kept his distance, his gaze raking over Parker’s legs.
Parker sat on the bed, staring at the floor. “I’m fine.” He felt the wall of his defenses go up. Even if Anthony never laid a hand on Parker, he would still abandon him like all the others. He fidgeted with his fingers.
“You don’t look okay,” Anthony replied, his voice soothing and patient. “Want to tell me what you’re thinking?”
With a shake of his head, Parker pushed onto his feet. “I should get a shower.”
“Parker.” Anthony’s voice hardened. “Please sit down and tell me what’s going on.”
The tone brooked no argument, so Parker returned to the bed. He continued to stare at the floor but said nothing.
Anthony stepped across the room and sat on the edge of the bed. Though within reach of Parker, he kept a respectful distance between them. “You’re thinking about Primack, right?”
Parker nodded, not wanting to discuss the situation but also not wanting to lie. After Anthony had stuck up for him and decked Earl, Parker had enough respect for the attorney not to withhold the truth.
“I’m not sure how to convince you that he can’t hurt you anymore, but can you trust me to follow through on my promise?” Anthony’s calm voice and soothing tone broke a hole in the brick wall Parker had erected.
A breath caught in Parker’s throat. “Trusting guys hasn’t worked out for me.”
With a sigh, Anthony brought a hand to his shoulder, the now familiar gesture adding a modicum of comfort. “I understand. It takes time to build up trust, but I think we’ve both gotten off to a good start. You saved my life last night.”
Parker hazarded a glance at Anthony. “I couldn’t let him hurt you.”
Hesitating, Parker considered why he’d rushed to Anthony’s defense instead of fleeing the house. He’d never been able to protect himself, but the thought of Earl hurting Anthony stoked an anger he’d never experienced before. This man who hadn’t turned him in to the police, who’d fussed over his bruises and had taken him to the hospital, and most importantly, who’d defended him from his abuser. Anthony cared like his dad had cared.
But even his father had abandoned him.
The barrier he’d erected sealed again, shutting Anthony out, and Parker dropped his gaze. “You’re a nice guy. It wasn’t a big deal.”
Anthony frowned. “Yeah, it was. You put yourself in danger for me. Like it or not, you’re stuck with me, at least until we can get you into college.” He removed his hand from Parker’s shoulder. “In the meantime, I’ve made us breakfast.”
Parker’s traitorous stomach rumbled its approval.
With a chuckle, Anthony strode to the door. “Come down when you’re ready. I’ve got biscuits and gravy with poached eggs and link sausages. Sound good?”
After another stomach rumble, Parker sighed. “I’ll be down in a minute.” Once Anthony had left the room, Parker tugged off the T-shirt and moved to his duffle. He couldn’t trust Anthony not to abandon him. Just finish your sentence and move on. Story of your life.
Brent Archer began writing in 2011 at the nudging of his cousins. 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.