Monday Mayhem – What-what?

I’m fresh off the plane. There are hampers full of laundry, a need a needy bunny, and an equally needy man demanding my attention, but you guys were my priority. Here are my 5 whats for this week:

What I’ve been working on: Still working on the romance for people who know the power of AquaNet Super Extra Hold. J

What’s running around in the back of my mind: “I should be writing. I should be writing. I should be writing, but I’m on vacation…I should be writing.”

What I’ve accomplished: I made it to Canada and back without getting strip-searched at the border. I consider that a win.

What new goal I’m chasing: I want to try to finish the first draft of my WIP by next weekend. Cross your fingers for me!

What I saw: My favorite Canucks.

Canada

Now give me yours!

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O Canada!

O Canada! La la la la la la…. O Canada!

La la la la la la. La la la la la, la la la la la, la la la la la la la….

We stand on guard for thee!

canadian-flag

So yeah. It’s Canada Day, and as an HonoUrary Canuck, I thought it would be cool to have my Canadian friend and anthology buddy, Evelyn Jules, stop by to entertain you.

You got your party toque on? Excellent! Say good day, eh!

****

Hello there, everyone! Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks out there, and Happy Monday to the rest of you! J

I’m a quirky girl. Some might even call me a bit of a clown. I love to juggle, I’ve been on a flying trapeze, and at the very top of my ‘things Evelyn must own’ list is a unicycle. Most of the time I’m loud and proud, but sometimes I’m awfully quiet too. Like a mime. It’s possible I took a four week introduction to physical theatre (aka: miming) course.

Here’s the funny thing. Margaret is kind of (or a lot) afraid of mimes and clowns. She’s also a very close friend of mine. Like an older sister, you might say. And since we’re like sisters we enjoy tormenting each other…which brings me to my reason for being here today. One day I heard that Turquoise Morning Press was putting together a collection of wedding-themed stories. I decided to write a love story about a mime and a clown. Then I laughed at myself because I think I’m pretty funny and stuff. But then I stopped laughing because OMG, this was a brilliant idea! So I found a scrap piece of paper and started jotting down all the bits of plot and dialogue that were floating and bouncing and cartwheeling in my head. And then I pitched my idea, including stick figure art, to the collection editor, and instead of shipping me off to the loony bin, she actually LIKED the idea. She liked it so much she actually gave me a spot in the collection!

Now, back to Margaret. Part of the reason why I wrote the story was to drive Margaret crazy. But you know what? Something amazing happened in the end. She liked it too! That’s when I knew I had to share it with the world. It’s not a dirty story. Shocking, I know. It’s actually a beautiful love story of two circus freaks…Oh, hell, just read the blurb.

All Action, No Talk

Alice Moore is a clown . . . in love with a mime.

Her parents have never approved of her circus-oriented lifestyle and in effort to deter her from wasting her life clowning around, they set her up with family friend, Grant Humphrey. A practical man. A businessman. And the last man on earth she wants to marry, but here she is, marching down the aisle toward him.

Alex Holiday is a mime . . . in love with a clown.

He’s silently followed Alice from venue to venue on the circus circuit, working alongside her, worshiping her in secret. He’s never been able to tell her how he feels . . . until now. When he catches wind of the upcoming wedding, he vows to put a stop to it. But will his objection be too late?
I have cover art too!

WeddingCollection_MD

 

The best part about being in this collection is that I get to share it with Margaret. Her story, Always the Groomsman, kicks things off to a hilarious start! I hope you all get yourselves a copy! And remember, clowns and mimes deserve love too.

Now, tell me, what’s the strangest romantic pairing you’ve ever written or read about it?

The Wedding Day Collection is available at these fine retailers:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wedding-Day-Collection-ebook/dp/B00DF2IJOE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371389617&sr=8-1&keywords=the+wedding+day+collection+margaret

Turquoise Morning Press Bookstore: http://www.turquoisemorningpressbookstore.com/products/the-wedding-day-collection-anthology

All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theweddingdaycollection-1222660-166.html

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wedding-day-collection-margaret-ethridge/1115674093?ean=2940016477282

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Monday Mayhem – Memorabling

The Gilmore Girls fans in the crowd will know that the title is no typo. The rest of you should go watch season 1. At least, I think it was season 1….

It seems my memory is shot these days. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling pretty proud of the fact that I remembered to do this post, since I’ll be car-bound most of the day. So before I forget, here are a few things I want to share with you:

Coming in June from TMP – The Wedding Collection. Includes my story, ‘Always the Groomsman’
WeddingCollection_MD
Want a taste?
Things weren’t going the way he planned, but Tom Sullivan was getting used to the phenomenon. Life as he once knew it went kerblewie the first time he kissed Maggie McCann. This latest spin in the cosmic Cuisinart should have been a cakewalk. Still, he stood there at the end of the counter befuddled, betrothed, and—if the woman currently kneeling on a grimy Dunkin Donuts bathroom floor had anything to say about it—possibly soon-to-be-beheaded.
Just finishing edits on Long Distance Love – the collection of Jack and Ellie stories. I think you’ll like the way their story comes full circle. Look for it in August 2013.
Working on Containment. That’s the best I can say at this point. It’s been a difficult story to write. I’ve hit a couple of walls, but I think I might have found a way to smash through. Stay tuned.
And last, but certainly not least, I want to take a moment to honor the memory of all the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our way of life.
One day seems a humble thank you, but your legacy beats in the hearts of a grateful nation.
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Monday Mayhem – Big things, wow things

I’m on the road this week, but I wanted to share a little news. In case you missed my squeeing across multiple social media platforms….

Commitment has been chosen as a finalist in the Single Title category of the GDRWA Booksellers Best Awards!

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2013BBAfinalist

The winners will be announced in July, but check out the fabulous company I’m keeping!
The Greater Detroit RWA would like to congratulate all the finalists for the 2013 Booksellers Best Award Contest.  Winners will be announced at a private reception in Atlanta at the RWA National Conference in July.
 
The finalists are listed below.    * denotes a Best First Book finalist
TRADITIONAL
Snowbound in the Earl’s Castle – Fiona Harper
Bet You’ll Marry Me – Darlene Panzera – *
The Nanny Who Saved Christmas – Michelle Douglas
Kincaid’s Hope – Grace Greene
The Rebel Rancher – Donna Alward
 
SHORT CONTEMPORARY
The Doctor’s Not So Little Secret – Cindy Kirk
Redemption of a Hollywood Starlet – Kimberly Lang
The Good, The Bad and the Wild – Heidi Rice
Enemies at the Altar – Melanie Milburne
Christmas Conspiracy – Robin Perini
 
LONG CONTEMPORARY
The Marriage Bargain – Jennifer Probst
The Long Way Home – Cathryn Parry
When Lightning Strikes – Brenda Novak
More Than A Kiss – Stacey Joy Netzel
Far From Perfect – Barbara Longley
 
SINGLE TITLE
The Reason Is You – Sharla Lovelace – *
Commitment – Margaret Ethridge
A Man of Honor – Loree Lough
Back To You: Bad Boys of Red Hook – Robin Kaye
Just Down The Road – Jodi Thomas
 
ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Dancing With Danger – Laura Sheehan – *
Revenge – Dana Delamar – *
Death of a Beauty Queen – Mallory Kane
Deadly Dance – Dee Davis
Dangerous Affairs – Diana Miller – *
 
SHORT HISTORICAL
Lessons In Loving A Laird – Michelle Marcos
Lady of Shame – Ann Lethbridge
Too Tempting To Resist – Cara Elliott
The Homesteader’s Secret – Lacy Williams
Return of the Viscount – Gayle Callen
 
LONG HISTORICAL
Twas The Night After Christmas – Sabrina Jeffries
Sweet Deception – Heather Snow
The Promise – Kate Worth – *
Highland Surrender – Tracy Brogan
When You Give A Duke A Diamond – Shana Galen
 
INSPIRATIONAL
The Rose of Winslow Street – Elizabeth Camden
Short Straw Bride – Karen Witemeyer
Twin Peril – Laura Scott
Christmas Roses – Amanda Cabot
Devotion – Marianne Evans
 
PARANORMAL/TIME TRAVEL/FUTURISTIC
Love, Eternally – Morgan O’Neill – *
Vengeance Born – Kylie Griffin – *
Flirting with Fangs – Peg Pierson – *
A Soul For Chaos – Crista McHugh
Gather The Bones – Alison Stuart
 
EROTIC
Circle of Deception – Carla Swafford
Playing To Win – Jaci Burton
Circle of Danger – Carla Swafford
Hidden Paradise – Janet Mullany
A Little Wild – Kate St. James
 
NOVELLA
The Governess Affair – Courtney Milan
Be My Texas Valentine – Jodi Thomas
Rising Above – Stacey Joy Netzel
Once Upon A Frontier Christmas – Debra Cowan
Miracle in New Hope – Kaki Warner
 
YOUNG ADULT
Pushing the Limits – Katie McGarry – *
Riley’s Pond – Harley Brooks – *
The Mephisto Kiss – Trinity Faegan
Forgiven – Jana Oliver
Courtship and Curses – Marissa Doyle

Squeeeeee!

To celebrate, I’m going to give away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter. Tell me, have you read any of the books selected? Any on the list you’d like to try? Comment and I’ll draw a winner next Sunday, May 26, 2013.

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Monday Mayhem – Sharon B freaks out

When I talked to Sharon Buchbinder about doing a little guest stint on my blog I offered her the chance to play two truths and a lie with y’all. Apparently that wasn’t very kind of me….

Play along, will ya? I think she’s on the edge.

Truth-Truth-Confabulation

When Margaret shared that her blog was now featuring author guest posts with two truths and a lie, I had writer’s block for the first time in years. Normally, I have what I call writer’s logorrhea, which Miriam Webster’s online dictionary defines as “excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness.” Yes, even my academic pals have marked up my work with the dreaded words, “over writing.” I paced the room, wrung my hands, and moaned, “Why me? Of all the writers in all the blogs in all of the world, why did Margaret do this to me.” See. I over write. And then I have to KILL MY DARLINGS.

So, on that note, I now present two truths and a confabulation involving my book babies and killing my darlings. I leave it up to you to guess which one is the lie. From those readers who correctly identify the confabulation, I will award the winner’s choice of a book from my backlist.

1.  The only problem I had with Desire and Deception was getting an agent, editor or publisher to give it a read was because it had “too much sex.”  When I submitted it to an erotic publisher, the editor liked it, but complained it had too little sex.

2.  Some Other Child is based, in part, on growing up the child of a sociopath.  My mother taught me not to pay parking fees and to use American Sign Language to pretend I was deaf when confronted by angry attendants. I deleted the scene where she kept a shovel and newspaper in the trunk of her car so she could steal plants when I saw ones she liked.

3.  Obsession originally came in at 100,000 words. After three rounds of revisions, and a virtual blood bath of killing darlings, the book is now 70,000 words long. Many of the words were related to hot monkey sex in Mexican jungles and expletives in English, Spanish, and Russian.

~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Obsession_w7616_750-2

Now Available from The Wild Rose Press: OBSESSION

A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive. She’s finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney. But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent’s worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the “Chosen One.”

Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help. Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord’s right-hand man. Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover—and falling in love with her.

~~~~~~~~~~

Author Bio and Links

After working in health care delivery for years, Sharon Buchbinder became an association executive, a health care researcher, and an academic in higher education. She had it all–a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it an obsession) kept beckoning her to “come on back” to writing fiction. When not attempting to make students, colleagues, and babies laugh, she can be found herding cats, waiting on a large gray dog, fishing, dining with good friends, or writing. You can find her at www.sharonbuchbinder.com

~~~~~~~~~~~

SBB_Sandman Bookstore Headshot 3

Where Sharon Buchbinder can be found on the Internet

Website/Blog http://sharonbuchbinder.com/blog/

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001IODIE2

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4417344.Sharon_Buchbinder

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sharon.buchbinder.romanceauthor

Twitter @sbuchbinder https://twitter.com/sbuchbinder

The Wild Rose Press http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/

Book Trailer for OBSESSION http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1kujUWoGbk

Book Trailer for DESIRE AND DECEPTION http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drjvWmZEHrU&feature=player_embedded

Book Trailer for SOME OTHER CHILD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EMvzxE-iBY

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RT 2013 – Day 5

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

Today I’m featuring Spring Chickens

SpringChickens_w6395_750

You don’t have to be a spring chicken to fall in love.

 

The residents of Heartsfield, Arkansas think Lynne Prescott has it all. The wealthy suburban divorcee captures everyone’s attention when she blows into town to dispose of the family farm. But her nosy new neighbors don’t know she ran away from home.

 

Bram Hatchett’s interest in buying the land adjoining his farm is yesterday’s news, but the handsome widower’s inability to contain his attraction to the land’s beautiful owner quickly becomes fodder for the local gossip mill.

 

A rickety old porch and a disturbing decrease in the poultry population bring them together—but with wagging tongues and grown children against them, Lynne’s inclination toward flight comes smack against Bram’s aversion to fight. Can they whittle away the secrets of the past in order to scratch out a future together?

And here’s an excerpt!

The photograph of her aunt with his uncle served as an easy out. Lynne laughed and shook her head. “I found something I wanted to show you.”  She offered it to him with a sheepish smile.

Bram took the snapshot, shooting her a wary glance before lowering his eyes. The glimmer of a smile twitched his lips then blossomed. “This is them,” he said in a soft, reverent tone.

“I know. Look at how happy they were.” He squinted and stretched his arm, leaning back until he could focus. “Wanna borrow my glasses?” she asked, waving the drugstore readers in his direction. His glare might have leveled a lesser woman, but she figured she’d already shown him her worst. She flashed her biggest grin. “Need longer arms? Want me to hold it over here?”

He snatched the glasses from her hand and slipped them onto the end of his nose. “Hell to get old,” he grumbled, moving the photo closer until he found the right spot.

She leaned against the doorframe. “Tell me about it.”

Bram whipped the glasses from his face and handed them back to her with the photograph. “I usually don’t need them. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“Chirping keep you awake?” she asked with a wry smile.

He chuckled and shook his head. “I don’t keep my chickens in the kitchen.”

“Smart man.”

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RT 2013 – Day 4

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

Today I’m featuring Commitment – an All Romance eBooks best seller!

Commitment_MD

Tom Sullivan wants a woman who is willing to accept him as he is. The successful divorce attorney has seen enough of the flip side of love to know better than to promise forever. Women have tried to pin him down, but none have managed to make it stick.

Until Maggie McCann.

Maggie is only interested in one thing. Her fortieth birthday is looming and the tick-tock-tick-tock in her head means her biological clock is about to strike midnight on her dreams of finding Prince Charming. Armed with a new plan for her happily ever, she foregoes the Fairy Godmother routine and makes an appointment with a fertility clinic for a rendezvous with a sperm donor.

The last thing Maggie needs is to get mixed up with a player like Tom Sullivan.

A chance encounter and the opportunity to scratch a decade-long itch prove irresistible, and what starts as a one-night stand turns into a game of cat and mouse when Tom learns of Maggie’s plan to start a family on her own.

To Maggie, messing with a guy like Tom Sullivan is the single-girl equivalent of playing with fire, but she convinces herself to take what she can get for as long as she can and expect nothing more. But Tom falls hard and fast for Maggie, and now that they’re planning to have a baby together he starts banking on his own a happily ever after.

And here’s an excerpt!

The kitchen gadget aisle of Bed Bath & Beyond isn’t the place to make major life decisions, but there she was—there it was—staring her right in the face.

“No.”

The word popped out of her mouth before it registered with her brain. Maggie McCann glared at the plastic tube then turned away, feigning interest in a set of matched measuring cups until she could gather her wits. The answer wasn’t unreasonable. The thought was ridiculous, the location…highly inappropriate.

Inappropriate, but not unusual. A born nester, Maggie liked taking a spin through the house wares super-store. She found it relaxing. There was nothing in the world she wanted more than to have a real nest to feather. Not that the apartment above her shop wasn’t real. The entire brick and mortar building was very real. She had the gigantic mortgage to prove it. But she wanted a house, no, a home.

Maggie didn’t consider her forays into this Valhalla of domestic bliss a stop gap. These excursions were not a desperate attempt to fill an empty life with candleholders, no matter what Oprah implied. She just had an itch for Egyptian cotton, and the best way to scratch that itch was by indulging her yen for plush, thirsty bath sheets. Hell, the terry cloth tantalizers practically leapt from the shelves and into her arms, desperate to be the towel she wrapped around her bubble bath-scented body. Maggie clutched the latest volunteers to her bosom. How could she deny them their destiny?

Under normal circumstances, she didn’t bother with the kitchen section of the store. Maggie shopped to satisfy her bed and bath jones. She considered anything that required her to spend time slaving over a hot stove definitely ‘Beyond’, but her ancient can opener was grinding to a slow and painful death.

Sadly, Fred was the only one around to witness her heroics when she called ‘Clear!’ and jolted the appliance back to life with a stout slap. Not that he cared about her histrionics. The only thing that ever concerned Fred was his next meal. The longer she took to serve him, the louder his complaints. Just that morning, in the midst of her appliance saving routine, the overstuffed tabby took his dissatisfaction out on her by stepping on her toes, butting her with his head, and nudging her with his bulky body before he resorted to violence.

The pebbled scratch on her ankle itched. She wanted to blame cat scratch fever for the heat coursing through her body, but she knew Ted Nugent didn’t hold the answer. Panic clawed at her throat. Maggie focused on every piece but the one that called to her. She scanned the rows, desperately searching for the fancy hand-held can opener she’d seen advertised on TV—the one that guaranteed a soft silicone grip and safely rounded edges.

She spotted her quarry and stretched to yank the package from the wire hook. It clung for dear life, almost as if the damn thing sensed it was doomed to an existence filled with tomato soup and economy-sized cans of Gourmet de Gato.

“Join the club,” she muttered.

Maggie gave the opener another yank and it surrendered, sending her stumbling into a display of mixing bowls. She gasped and flailed. The turquoise towels she’d taken hostage in the bath department fell to the floor in a heap. She caught the edge of a shelf and the can opener landed on the heap of terrycloth with a muffled plop.

Above her head, the rattle of plastic and cardboard warned of imminent disaster. Maggie groaned in surrender as bubble-packed kitchen gadgets began to rain down from over-stocked hooks. A torrent of teaspoons and tablespoons clattered against the flour sifters, colanders, and measuring cups lining the bottom shelf. Her jaw dropped, and her eyes popped. A melon baller teetered on the edge of its hook, telegraphing its intent.

“No, don’t jump!”

It didn’t heed her plea. On its descent, the thick silicon handle caught the top of the package on the rung below. Maggie winced as she made eye contact with the dastardly implement again. The cardboard backing swung wildly, rocking to the tip of the prong.

“Oh no….”

Maggie stared in horror as it let go. The bulbous rubber ball caught the edge of a mortar and pestle set and sent the plastic tube bouncing in her direction. Her grip on the shelf tightened as her knees buckled. She blinked in dismay when the taunting tool defied all laws of physics by landing face-up, its tapered tip pointing directly at her.

She stared down at the turkey baster, blinking back the hot rush of tears prickling her eyes. “No.” Her whispered refusal lacked conviction, and she knew it.

“That’s okay. It happens all the time.” A woman in a blue polo shirt hurried over. “I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

“No.” Maggie shook her head to clear it. “I mean, yes. Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about the mess.”

“Sometimes the stockers get a little overzealous,” the woman said, offering an apologetic smile. “I hope you weren’t hurt.”

“No, not at all.”

Pulling a card from her pocket, the woman stepped over the forgotten towels. “I’m Jackie Dunforth, Store Manager. Take that up front and tell them I said to give you twenty percent off your purchase.”

“Oh, that’s not necessary—”

“You almost got sliced by a grater. It’s the least I can do.”

Maggie bent to scoop her selections from the floor, carefully avoiding the turkey baster as she groped for the can opener. “Thank you.” She juggled her purse, towels, can opener, and business card.

She didn’t bother shaking her hair back from her face when she straightened, hoping a curtain of hair might camouflage her flaming cheeks. “Sorry,” she whispered again and slinked away.

“Oh! Ma’am?” The manager’s voice rang out, echoing through the aisles. A grimace twisted Maggie’s lips. She turned, eying the store associate warily. The woman held up the turkey baster, waving the damn thing in the air like a flag for all to see. “Did you forget this?”

Maggie shook her head a tad too vehemently. “No!” The woman took a quick step back, a puzzled frown creasing her brow. Dragging in a deep breath, she straightened her shoulders and tossed her hair. “I don’t need it, and it’s not my fault if the damn thing is suicidal.”

With that, Maggie McCann, towel tramp and candle craver with an itch for Egyptian cotton, turned on her heel and fled from the beyond and the terrifying thoughts a taunting turkey baster implanted in her mind.

 

 

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RT 2013 – Day 2

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

Yesterday we had a peek at Paramour. Today, we’ll continue Frank DeLuca’s story with Inamorata.

 

 inamorata_1 md

 

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

 

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

 

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way. Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

 

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.

And here’s an excerpt!

“Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.”

Frank DeLuca closed his eyes and prayed harder than he had ever prayed before. Considering the fact that he’d been trapped in some bizarre kind of purgatory on earth for the last twenty-five years, you can bet he’d done some pretty hard praying. But there was always room for improvement, and since he still hadn’t been sprung from this stupid fake-brass Brady Bunch wannabe light fixture, he gritted his teeth and tried again.

“Come on. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.” His fingers curled into his palms. He tightened his fists, trying to cling to his last shred of patience. “Just turn on the light.”

He opened his eyes. Not that it made any damn difference. Everything in his world was black. The way it had been since he last saw Cam. The way it had been since he pried the screwdriver from her hand and asked her to turn out the light. It seemed like the right answer at the time. Of course, with Cam popping in and out of his room, he’d never had to deal with such a dark stretch of eternity before. Lesson learned.

“Turn it on, turn it on, turn it on,” he chanted into the darkness. “Turn. On. The. Fucking. Light.”

His order went unheeded. He could hear someone moving around the room. Her. The woman who moved a bunch of crap into his place and chattered away endlessly to some kid too young to talk, but still wouldn’t turn on the goddamn light.

“Sorry, not goddamned,” he whispered to whoever might be listening. After a quarter century in never-never-land, and god-only-knows how long in the dark, he was willing to concede the belief in anything if it meant a little light. “I can’t take it. I can’t take it.”

The mumbling was nothing new. He’d been mumbling to himself for days, weeks, months, and possibly years. Time lost all meaning when cricket chirps of one evening bled into a thousand others. His half-life hadn’t been worth a damn since Cam walked out of his world and into the land of the living. Okay, so she’d never really belonged in his half-here, half-somewhere else world—seeing as how she was alive and all—but still, Cam knew him. She knew about him once upon a time. And with nothing but time on his hands, Frank couldn’t help but wonder if she remembered, or if she was too busy living her perfect little life with her perfect college boy. Stupid, living, breathing jerk-off….

“Is he okay?”

The question jolted him from his reverie. Frank clamped his mouth shut and perked up. A man. The woman who’d been tearing his room apart came with a man. That made sense if there’s a kid, he reasoned. Then again, a woman doesn’t need a guy around to raise a child. He was proof of that. It had been just him and his mother after Big Frank bought it in a convenience store robbery, and no one missed his flying fists one tiny bit.

“He’s fine. Aren’t you, Jay?”

There was no answer from the kid, but that didn’t stop the lady from running like a freight train. At least he assumed it was a kid. For all he knew, the chatty broad could have redecorated his old bedroom for her dog.

“I think he likes his room. Don’t you, Jaden? Do you like your new room?”

No response from this Jay person. He shook his head. Please, God, let it be a kid and not a dog. A dog would just be too damn annoying. Frank clenched his fists, trying to conjure up a little of the patience he’d honed over a couple of decades stuck between heaven and hell. At least, he hoped his stint in this god-forsaken wall sconce wasn’t the final destination, otherwise organized religion had sure as hell picked the wrong travel agent for booking accommodations in the afterlife.

“Do you like all your new toys and games?”

Frank sighed. Desperation wormed its way into her voice. He should know; he’d been listening to this broad’s rhetorical questions since the truck squealed to a stop out front. He sure hoped she was talking to a kid and not a dog. Either way, he couldn’t blame the pooch/tyke for keeping his trap shut. What was the point in trying to edge a word in sideways when she was happy to plow on regardless, or worse, answer for him.

“Do you want to hug the teddy bear? I can hold Bugs for you if you want,” she offered. “Or maybe Grandpa could hold Bugs. That would be cool, wouldn’t it? If Grandpa held your bunny?”

Frank snorted and rolled his eyes. The coaxing routine was a repeat as well. “No, lady. He doesn’t want to hug the bear, or the duckie, or the mother-fuh…stupid platypus. He doesn’t want you to hold his bunny for him. You know what? I think he wants you to turn on the light and read him a book. A book would be great, huh? You don’t want the kid to grow up illiterate, do you?”

“I’ll, uh, I’m going to…”

Frank frowned when the man’s explanation trailed off down the hallway. Whatever the guy planned to do sounded sketchy and more than a little vague, even to a dead guy living in the light fixture.

“Awkward.” He tried to imitate the wry, singsong tone Cam used to use, but it sounded flat. Lifeless. Like him. Before he could sink into a fresh bout of self-pity, a sharp clap of hands ricocheted through him like the report of a pistol.

“Okay! Grandpa’s busy unpacking, but maybe later.”

The woman’s brittle cheerfulness made him cringe. He squeezed his eyes shut again, trying in vain to stem the trickle of sympathy that made his fingers twitch. Biting his lip, he hoped for the metallic tang of blood even though he knew it wouldn’t come. Purposefully, he flexed his hands, stretching his fingers and spreading them wide. He didn’t need the light to know exactly how much oil and grease there was ground into his nail beds and the creases of his knuckles. The pattern had been exactly the same for too damn many years.

“A book.” His voice came out ragged, the order more of a half-plea. “Just read to the kid. Please.”

Silence hung heavy in the air, muffling the scrape of drawers opening and closing and the rhythmic zffft-zffft-zffft of a box cutter slicing through tape. The silence rang in his ears like an alarm, the blare so loud he almost missed the sigh of a swallowed sob. Almost, but not quite.

“Oh shit,” he whispered into the darkness. “Okay. Never mind about the book. Forget the light. Okay?” She hiccupped softly, and he groaned. “Come on, lady. Don’t do that…”

He flinched, bracing himself when she sniffled loudly and clapped her hands again. There was no need to see her. He could almost feel the impact of her forced smile through the darkness. If asked to give testimony, Frank would swear to the god who never listened to him that he heard this woman swallow her pride. His throat ached, tightening around the lump that rose there.

“Want to read a book?” she asked in that damn Mary Poppins voice. There were rustling sounds as she flitted about the room. “I got a new Thomas book. Want to read Thomas?”

“Aw, shit-shit-shit.” Frank pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes, bracing for the inevitable.

“And look, Jay, look at this cool old lamp above your bed.”

The switch snicked and that soul-deep pull grabbed him by the throat. Light—warm, golden, gorgeous light—beckoned him. He knew she wouldn’t be there. Cam had probably long-since forgotten him and married pansy-assed college-boy Brad. She was in the land of the living where she belonged, and he was…here. Always here. Trapped in nothingness.

A fingernail tapped the faux-brass sconce. “Maybe Oma can find you a new one, huh? Something more up to date?”

He let go, allowing the soul-crushing pain to swamp him, plummeting to earth once more. He couldn’t crash and burn any worse than he had before. Twice before. Once when he was living, and once long after he’d been dead. Frank blinked the glare from his eyes and focused on the blank wall in front of him. The rosebud wallpaper was gone. The sheetrock had been stripped, sanded, and painted blue. A blue that was just a half-shade lighter than the blue that coated the walls in nineteen-eighty-seven.

He shook his head to clear it. Finally, his gaze tracked to the right where he spotted a bookshelf loaded with books, games, and stuffed animals. At the very top, a collection of trophies like the one he once kept in this very room was proudly displayed. Tiny gold men holding bats glistened in the soft amber glow of evening. He gaped at them perched atop their faux marble and fake brass pedestals.

He could see it so perfectly in his mind’s eye. A spotless trophy, gleaming bright gold in the light cast from the cheesy 70s directional sconce mounted on the wall. His mother running her fingertip over the engraved plate bearing his name.

“Francis DeLuca.”

The name rolled off his lips even though he hadn’t spoken it aloud in nearly two decades. Not since the night he introduced himself to the little girl who moved into his room. Not since he fell in love with Cam.

His eyes locked on the gilt batter glued to the top of the tallest trophy. He couldn’t look away. Obviously they didn’t belong to the little guy snuggled into the race-car shaped bed. But something told him they belonged here, just like him.

He stared hard at that trophy, seeing his mother’s wind-up, flinching just as he flinched when she hurled it across the room, smashing the bulb in the brass-colored wall sconce to bits, stealing the last wisps of breath from his lungs, and sentencing him to an eternity as the middleman.

On August nineteenth, nineteen-eighty-seven, he died. That was the day he broke his mother’s heart. That was the day his fate was sealed.

 

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RT 2013 – Day 1

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

 

Paramour_med_300dpi

Camellia Stafford has never been alone in her room. For twenty years, she’s been engaged in a fierce power struggle with her bedroom’s previous tenant, Frank DeLuca, the ghost trapped in the light fixture above her bed.Frank has one soft spot—Cam.

When Cam suffers the loss of her beloved father, she returns home to say good-bye, and confront her feelings for Frank–but finds an unexpected shoulder to lean on in neighbor, Bradley Mitchum. Cam falls hard and fast for the handsome ad man’s charming smile and passionate nature, but Brad’s easy-going exterior masks a steely backbone tempered by adversity.Now Cam must determine if her heart is strong enough to choose which dream could lead to a love that will last a lifetime.

Be sure to read the sequel to ParamourInamorata!

Praise for Paramour:

“Paramour is that story prolific readers search for that only happens once every now and then.” – BookingIt.net

“Everything about Paramour-the setting, the dialogue, the pacing and the hot sexy scenes, and most of all three of the most interesting characters you could want to meet plus a surprise ending-will keep this story in your mind long after the final page is turned.” – The Long and Short of It Reviews

“There are so many wonderful things about this book and I highly recommend it. It’s a different twist on the paranormal element, the chemistry between the characters is amazing and the love scenes are hot.” – Everybody Needs A Little Romance

And here’s an excerpt!

Heedless of her stained jeans, Cam fell face-first onto the narrow single bed. She wrapped her arms around a pillow stuffed into a faded rose-printed cotton sham. Inhaling deeply, she picked up the scent of Cheer detergent and searched for a hint of Love’s Baby Soft that used to linger in the room.

A tinge of something different tickled her nostrils. The heady, familiar aroma made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand at attention. The tantalizing fragrance wasn’t a trace of her father’s traditional splash of Old Spice. She raised her head, and her nostrils twitched as she tried to pick up the thread once more, but it was gone, drifting away like a memory.

Cam groaned her frustration and flipped onto her back to stare at the popcorn ceiling. She cataloged the familiar peaks and valleys while she ran through the list of things she’d need to accomplish in the next few days.

The silence hummed around her. Her stomach growled as if to chastise her for the casserole wasted on the kitchen floor. She rubbed the edge of her thumbnail over the pad of her index finger. When fidgeting didn’t prove effective, Cam pressed her hand over her heart and carefully measured the strength of each beat against her fingertips.

She told herself everything would be okay. Here in her room, she was safe. Her eyelashes fluttered with the herculean effort it took to open them.

Cam reached up and twisted the tiny stem on the cone-shaped reading lamp above her bed. A beam of light swept the length of the bed, bathing the faded comforter in a warm, golden glow. Cam basked in the soothing pool of light, safe in her girlhood room. She studied the rosebud-patterned wallpaper and silently thanked her mother for being too bohemian to collect Madam Alexander dolls. The silence throbbed like an ache. She closed her eyes and wished she could hear her father’s tuneless humming just one more time.

She didn’t stir when the edge of her bed dipped. Instead she held her breath for a moment before opening her eyes. Francis John DeLuca sat perched on the edge of the mattress.

She stared at him, drinking in the little details. She knew the leather bracelet he wore had sixteen rows of studs. The ends of the strip of coarse black hair he wore in a Mohawk curled ever so slightly. A tiny gold hoop in his ear gleamed in the light and a Metallica shirt stretched taut across his shoulders. The sleeves cut into his biceps, but the fabric made no indention in his smooth olive skin.

The scent was back, flooding her senses with the relief of homecoming. She wondered if he knew how many hours she’d spent at the men’s cologne counter sniffing samples, trying to place the fragrance. After twenty years of friendship, endless fights, and one unforgettable kiss, she’d wondered if she finally earned the right to ask questions.

“Are you really here?” she whispered, afraid she’d scare him away.

“Yeah.”

Their eyes met, and she tumbled into the depths of his dark gaze. Cam knew if she didn’t take the chance this time, she may never have another.

“What cologne do you wear?”

Frank’s eyes narrowed with typical caution. “Polo.”

“Huh. Smells different on you.”

His thick eyebrows rose, and a sardonic smile twitched his lips. “Might be because I’m dead.”

Cam swallowed hard and sat up. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Welcome home. I’m sorry.”

She shook her head, forcing a small, flirtatious smile. “Did you miss me?”

“Every damn day.”

“Then don’t leave me again.”

Frank raised his hand. His fingers twitched. She could feel heat radiating from his palm. Those warm fingers curved along the contour of her cheek. “I’ll make sure you’re never alone.”

Cam smiled, smoothing her palm over the rough hairs on the back of his hand. “With you around, how could I be?”

She stretched out once again and closed her eyes, certain he’d stay perched on the edge of her bed watching over her as she slept. Cam drifted off, secure in the knowledge that she would never truly be alone in her room.

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