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Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Christmas Proposal

Every year at Christmas I send my newsletter subscribers an exclusive short story from the world of Shifters and Seers. This one is from 2013 and tells the engagement story you didn't get to hear in Infinite Harmony

Not subscribed to the newsletter? Do so in the sidebar so you won't miss this year's short story! (Note: I'm a lazy newsletter sender, so don't worry about your inbox getting spammed.)



“You’re not dragging me out here to murder me and hide my body in a shallow but frozen grave are you?”

Liam threw a look over his shoulder. “Like I would ever dig a shallow grave.”

Everything about him, from his voice to the narrowing of his eyes, said he was serious, but I could feel his quiet laughter through the bond we share as mates. No one else in the Alpha Pack would believe a teasing man lay just beneath the Alpha Male’s serious exterior, and that was okay with me. I liked being the only one who knew that part of him. It made me feel special. Loved.

“You know, I’m not opposed to hiking,” I said, making my way over a particularly ugly patch of terrain. “Exercise. Getting back to nature. All of it good stuff. Do it often. But normally not in the middle of the night. On Christmas Eve.”

There was a time when my Christmas Eve nights were reserved for family fun time at the Matthews house, but all that changed when Mrs. Matthews called me the devil and suggested I get my head removed from my shoulders. Since then, things between the two of us have been a tinsy bit strained. Unfortunately, she’s still Talley’s mother, which means the rest of my family still feels the need to gather under her roof as Santa starts making his rounds every year.

As an Alpha, I suppose I could put a stop to the whole situation, but I haven’t. They can do whatever they want as long as they don’t expect me to go along and be nice. I’ve always sucked at playing the Pollyanna, but it’s gotten even harder over the past year. The fun new responsibilities of being an Alpha and my course work as an independent study student with an emphasis in genetics takes most of my energy. There simply isn’t enough left to paste on a false smile and pretend like I don’t want to murder people with my bare hands.

Last year on Christmas Eve I stayed home and wrapped all the gifts I left in their Amazon boxes until the absolute last moment, and was in the middle of doing the same thing this year when Liam came in and told me there was something he wanted me to see. Thirty minutes later I was tromping along behind him, my nose so cold I thought it might actually break off my face.

“Okay, close your eyes,” Liam said, stopping directly in front of me.

“Close my eyes?”

Dammit. He really was going to kill me and leave my body in the woods.

“Shut them tight. And no peeking.”

I gave my mate one final glare before snapping my eyelids together.

“Are you peeking?”

“No.”

“Are you going to peek?”

“No.”

A hand, warm and familiar, covered the top part of my face.

“Hey, I said I wouldn’t peek.”

Liam chuckled quietly in my ear, his breath warming the side of my neck. “You also said you wouldn’t eat the last of Gramma Hagan’s chess pie. I’ve learned the hard way not to trust you, Scout Donovan.”

His other hand found its way to my hip, and with it he guided me further into the woods. It felt like we went on that way forever. I really didn’t mind. Any excuse to be close to Liam was a good excuse in my opinion. We’d been growing closer over the past few months, but it still wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more. I wanted the fairytale. Instead, I got stuck with the emotionally realistic supernatural story.

Sometimes life is really unfair.

Eventually, Liam stopped dragging me over knobby tree roots and through thorn-filled bushes. My insides quivered with a cocktail of anticipation and nerves as we stood there. I thought at least one of the emotions was coming from Liam instead of myself, but I couldn’t be sure.

Slowly, the hand covering my face lifted away, and I found myself staring at a small building. It was one of those storage sheds made to look like a small house, with a porch and all that jazz.

“That’s… new,” I said, completely confused as to what was going on. “Why did my dad put a storage building in the middle of nowhere? Please don’t tell me he’s decided to take up hunting again. He shot the tire off of his truck the last time he tried.”

Liam moved up beside me, grabbing my hand and leading me towards the shed.

“Your dad didn’t put it here. I did.”

“For Talley on full moon nights?” I guessed.

“She can use it if she wants, but it’s not hers. It’s yours.”

“Mine.” Of course it was. It was exactly what I always wanted.

A storage shed. Right. It was just below “world peace” and “Teen Wolf DVDs” in my letter to Santa.

“Thank you?” I hadn’t meant for it to sound like a question, but it was storage shed in the middle of the woods and my acting skills are decidedly subpar.

Liam smiled one of his real smiles where his cheeks fold up like an accordion. “Come on,” he said, tugging my hand. “It’s a gift. It’s what is on the inside that matters.”

Still confused, I followed along behind him, although my steps were a bit quicker and more surefooted than they had been moments before. Curiosity has always been one of my biggest downfalls.

“Go on,” Liam said, nudging me with his shoulder once we were at the door. He looked like a little kid, practically bouncing with excitement, and in that moment I couldn’t have cared less what was inside the building. No one would ever describe Liam as “carefree” or “joyful”, and the last few months had been especially hard on him as we followed one bad lead after another looking for the person who left the disfigured body of a murdered Shifter in our backyard. Finding the responsible parties hadn’t brought the closure either of us was expecting, and we both waited for the next inevitable strike. We lived in a constant state of stress and unease, and Liam carried the majority of the emotional strain. But standing there, waiting for me to “unwrap” his gift, he looked truly happy for the first time in a long time. If I could have, I would have stopped time and stayed there with this carefree Liam forever.

Or maybe I would have shoved open the door as fast as I could then, too.

Curiosity. It gets me every time.

“Well…?” Liam prompted, but I couldn’t answer. I was too busy blinking back tears.

Two years ago Liam and I spent the winter hiding out in a cabin in the frozen wilds of Canada. We survived for months without electricity or contact from the outside world. Starvation and freezing to death were real fears. But the former Alphas were out for our blood, and we weren’t mentally or physically ready to take them on yet. So, we hid in our tiny cabin. Most of my memories of that time involve being so cold it hurt and working myself to exhaustion just so we would survive another day. Really, the only good memory I have from Canada is of Christmas. Homemade gifts. Carols sung out of tune. And a Christmas tree decorated with up-cycled ornaments made from soup labels and Pop-Tart wrappers. It was both the ugliest and most beautiful Christmas tree I’d ever seen.

And its twin was sitting on the other side of my storage shed.

“It’s our cabin,” I finally said. A card table and fold-up chairs stood in for the furniture Liam had made with his own two hands and a kerosene heater was sitting where our fireplace had been, but the spirit of our Canadian hideaway was there. “You remade our cabin?”

The “why” didn’t escape my lips, but Liam heard it all the same.

“I know it was small and cold and crappy, but sometimes I wish we could go back there again. Just the two of us, hidden away from the world.”

My heart fluttered hopelessly in my chest as I turned to look up at him. Something big and profound was happening here, I knew it in my gut, and I wanted to be looking him in the eyes when it did.

“You know my bed in Romania? The giant one with the space-age foam some lady down in the village has to make special sheets for because it’s so big? When you’re not there, and I’m trying to go to sleep in that monstrous thing alone, all I can think about is how much I would rather be on a cold, lumpy futon mattress with you.”

I felt certain I had stopped breathing, but since I wasn’t laid out on the floor, I must have been getting oxygen from somewhere. Or maybe I was dreaming. That would explain the not breathing and still standing thing, as well as why my taciturn mate who avoided emotions like a communicable disease was saying the most beautiful, wonderful things I had ever heard in my life.

Of course, if I were dreaming, my feet probably wouldn’t feel like two ice cubes from stomping through the woods in a pair of Tom’s.

“Liam—“

A finger pressed against my lips.

“Let me get this out before I lose my nerve.”

Eager to find out what else he might say, I nodded.

“That cabin was quite possibly the most miserable, uncomfortable place ever, but it’s my favorite place on earth because it’s where I fell in love with you.”

Whoa. Stop. Rewind.

Love?

We had been mates for over a year, and never once during all that time had Liam said the l-word.

The muscles in my jaw quit working, sending my chin plummeting down to my chest. Liam misinterpreted my newfound neuromuscular disorder and placed his finger back over my lips.

“Still talking,” he said.

“Still listening.”

“I tried to deny what was happening for a long time. I told myself the only reason I waited up every night until you fell into a deep enough asleep that you would let me hold you was we needed the warmth, but I really just wanted to feel you in my arms. I wanted to wrap myself in your scent. I wanted to…” His eyes trailed over my body, sending a wave of goosebumps over my skin. He took a deep breath and rubbed a hand over his head. “Nevermind.”

No. Not nevermind. I wanted to hear this part. And maybe get a demonstration.

“When I realized what was happening, I almost lost it. I thought about just leaving. Turning wolf and never Changing back. Anything to get away from you and what was happening.”

Okay, not exactly how I hoped this monologue was going to go.

“But I was too weak. I wanted you too much. And so I stayed, and I let myself fall in love with you.”

“I’m sorry?” I said, but as soon as it was out of my mouth, I wanted to take it back. I wasn’t sorry. I loved Liam. I loved the way he thought everything through about fifty different ways before doing something. I loved the way he wanted to protect and save the entire world. I loved the way he was good to his very core but tried to hide it behind glares and scowls. And I loved how he’s the sexist human being to have ever walked on the earth. And I wasn’t ashamed of loving him at all. If you gave me a rooftop, and I would shout it out.

Was it too much to ask that he feel the same about me? Was wanting my mate to not regret loving me so unreasonable?

“Is it really so bad?” I asked. “Is loving me such a bad thing? I mean, I get that I’m not perfect. I’m weird looking—“

“Harper Lee Donovan.” The words came out from between clenched teeth. “You stupid, ignorant, beautiful girl. Would you shut up for one minute and let me finish.”

I snapped my teeth together, but only because of the “beautiful” he causally dropped. I wanted to hear where that was going.

“You think I’m ashamed to love you? That I think the problem in this relationship is you? Are you insane?”

“I believe I can Change into an arctic wolf on command, so there is strong chance I might be.”

“Do you know what has happened to every person I’ve ever let myself love, Scout? Do you?”

“I…” I was going to tell him I didn’t know what he was talking about, but then I did.

Nicole.

His parents.

Alex.

“Everyone I love dies, Scout. Everyone. And then came you. The first dominant female Shifter in hundreds of years. The biggest threat the Alpha Pack had ever seen. You were marked for death, and I was falling in love with you.”

The danger had passed. I’d met death on that field and walked away, but looking in Liam’s eyes you would never know it. The fear was still very real for him.

Unable to stop myself, I reached up and cradled his face in my hand.

“I survived,” I said. “We made it out. The Alpha Pack is ours.”

“And someone just spent the past four months trying to kill you.”

Well, there was that.

“But they didn’t. I’m still here, Liam. And I plan on sticking around for a long time.”

“You better,” he said, moving my hand from his face and onto the back of his neck with one hand and using the other to pull my body flush with his. A warmth built low in my stomach and spread until my entire body practically radiated heat. “Because it’s too late now. I’m so in love with you I can’t see straight.”

I flattened my other hand against his chest so I could feel his heart pounding.

“Say it again,” I whispered.

“I love you, Scout Donovan.”

“Again.”

“I love you.”

I was smiling so big my face felt like it was splitting in two.

“Again.”

“Everything that is good in my life is because of you. When I have to leave you all I can think about it how long it’s going to be before I can see you again. I need you so much it scares me – hell, it should scare you - but I love you too much to walk away.”

“Liam—“

“Still not done.”

His hand trailed from my hip, up my side, and down my arm until his hand was intertwined with the one I had against his chest.

“I’ve tried to keep my distance, tried to hold back my instinct, but I can’t do it anymore. I won’t.”

Between the intense look in the grey eyes staring into mine and the thrum of some emotion I couldn’t name coming through the mating bond, I was getting a little nervous. This Liam, the one with all the burning emotions and passionate declarations, wasn’t the person I had known for the past three years, and I had no idea what to expect from him.

“Things are going to have to be different between us from now on,” he said. “No more of this dancing around each other, neither one of us knowing what the other wants crap. I can’t do it anymore. I need you. All of you. And I want to give you all of me.”

My heart was beating so hard in my chest I thought I might have to Change just to repair a broken rib.

“I love you.” I didn’t know exactly what was happening here, but I did know how I felt about him and how I would always feel about him. “You and me are my OTP.”

“Then tell me what you want from me, Scout.”

“Right now?” My brain was so overloaded I couldn’t think of my name and he wanted me to start listing what I needed out of our relationship? I frantically looked around the room for inspiration. “Sex,” I said, my eyes snagging on the futon in the corner. “I want sex from you.”

Oh dear sweet Jesus, I actually said that out loud.

Instead of the deer-in-the-headlights look of mortification I was expecting, Liam choked out a laugh while the back of his neck took on a decidedly red tone.

“I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that,” he said.

“Yeah, I surprised myself with that one a little, too.” I almost left it at that, but since we were trying this new being completely open and honest about our wants and needs with one another thing, I added, “But I meant it. When you said you wanted all of me… well, I want all of you, too. And I think it’s time naked Liam is part of that package.”

Yep. I definitely broke a rib. Or pulled a muscle. Or maybe I was in cardiac arrest. Something horrible had to be going on because my chest was way too tight, my heart was beating way too fast, and my mouth was operating without getting preapproval from my brain.

I think it’s time naked Liam is a part of that package.

And the award for the worst seduction in the history of all time and space goes to—

My train of thought was completely derailed by Liam’s mouth pressing against mine. I gasped in surprise and he took the opportunity to take the kiss deeper. My brain was still standing out in the cold trying to figure out why in Hades there was a storage shed in the middle of the woods, but my body had no trouble going with the flow and getting into the moment. I was thankful for both the kerosene heater and my Shifter tolerance of the cold when my shirt hit the floor.

“Wait,” Liam gasped as my shaking hands wrestled with the button on his jeans. “Scout, we need to wait.”

I couldn’t stop the growl of frustration from escaping my throat. “I’ve been waiting for a year,” I snapped.

A huff of breath tickled the top of my head, and I looked up to see him laughing at me in that silent way of his. I carefully considered scratching my nails down his stupidly perfect chest.

“Patience.”

I put all my frustration into the glare I leveled at him, which only made him laugh more.

“I promise, we’ll be completely naked soon.” His gaze seemed to get stuck on my bra, which made me blush in places I didn’t know could blush. “Really soon,” he amended. “But I need to give you your other present first.”

“You can’t give me another present.”

Now it was Liam’s turn to look confused. “I can’t? Why not?”

“Because,” I explained, “all I’ve got for you is a sweater and toolbox.”

Liam cocked his head to one side, deep in thought. “A toolbox?”

“You look at it every single time you drag me into Home Depot.”

“The giant Kobalt with the refrigerator in it?”

“Don’t forget the speakers.”

I felt a deep sense of satisfaction at the gleeful look of anticipation on his face.

“I’ve wanted that thing forever. You’re amazing.”

“Well, it’s no reconstructed cabin in the woods, which is why you can’t give me another gift. The scales are unbalanced.”

“Then how about this?” he said, reaching into his pocket and extracting a small box. “Instead of calling it a gift, it’ll be an exchange.” He flipped up the lid of the little black velvet box and my previously racing heart stopped beating all together. “You get the ring, and I get a fiancĂ©e.”

Words. Words would have been good. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make any.

While I was trying to remember how the whole speaking thing worked, Liam got down on one knee, which made me also forget how to breathe.

“Harper Lee Donovan, will you marry me?”

Since air and speech had abandoned me in my hour of need, I nodded my head, slowly at first, but by the time Liam stood up and gathered me in his arms I was like a bobble head gone wild. Liam stopped the manic neck-hinge action by capturing my mouth with his as he slid the ring onto my finger. The kiss started sweet and tame, but it didn’t stay that way long. This time, when I reached for the clasp of Liam’s jeans, my hands were steady.

It was a long while later when I finally took the time to examine the ring on my finger. I never paid a lot of attention to things like diamonds and rings and jewelry in general, so I wasn’t sure exactly what I was wearing, but I knew it was beautiful. Even in the low light of the darkened cabin it sparkled.

“Do you like it?” Liam asked, peppering my bare shoulder with little kisses.

I moved my fingers, watching as the light danced from the larger stone in the middle to the smaller ones guarding it from the big, bad world. “It’s perfect,” I said, rolling over onto my back and adjusting the sheet as I went. “I love it.”

“I love you.” My heart reminded me it still wasn’t back to normal, and I decided it might always react to hearing those words from his lips. “I think my life would be perfect if I could wake up in your arms like this for the rest of my life.”

Liam traced the curve of my mouth lazily with his thumb. “Which is why I have another gift for you.”

My eyes narrowed. “Liam Cole, the scales are so unevenly balanced they’ve fallen off the table and onto the floor already. I refuse to accept any more gifts.”

“One,” he said, kissing the side of my neck, “all I’ve given you as a gift so far has been a crappily furnished storage shed. The ring was part of a bargain. And two,” his lips moved to the other side, “this isn’t really so much a gift as an announcement.”

“An… an announcement?” His lips trailed lower and I lost all coherent thought for a few minutes. It was okay though since he was too busy doing things my father would have shot him for to talk.

A long time later, which was entirely too soon from my point of view, he said, “At the next hustings in February I’m announcing that we’re officially moving the Den to the United States. We’ll still have to travel to Romania a couple of times a year, but not for more than a week at a time. And we’ll do it together.”

“Can you do that?”

A slow smile spread across his face. “In the words of this really sexy girl I know, ‘I’m the Alpha. I can do whatever I want.’”

It dawned on me then that there, in that moment, I was happy. Not just life-is-pretty-good happy either. We’re talking life-is-a-Disney-movie, let’s-burst-into-song-and-dance happy. And the moment I realized it, I started worrying about losing it.

What happened when Liam realized that full-time living with Scout wasn’t as much fun as it sounded? When the day-to-day stuff became tedious? What happened when he woke up one day and realized he’d made me his wife?

“We don’t actually have to do this,” I found myself saying. “We’re already mates. That’s like being married squared. We could skip that whole wedding thing. I don’t really like those anyway with all the people staring at you and the pressure for everything to be perfect, and… and… and…”

I watched as Liam rolled over and waited for him to get out of the bed and walk away from me forever. It was inevitable. Life doesn’t actually come with happily-ever-afters.

“Ninety-eight minutes,” he said, looking at his phone. “Good job. I said it would be under an hour. Of course, Jase didn’t think you would actually let me put it on your finger, so he owes me like hundred bucks now.”

“Is it my imagination, or did this whole conversation just become as confusing as that movie where Leonardo DiCaprio went into people’s dreams or whatever?”

In a move that was clearly a Shifter making sure you noticed his crazy good reflexes, Liam was back by my side and propped up on an elbow before you could say “show off.”

“We took bets on how long it would take you to freak out. Talley won. She gave you a full two hours. I thought it was very generous of her.”

“Talley is a generous girl,” I said. Part of me considered being pissed that the people I love most in this world placed bets on how long it would take me to lose it, but Liam was still in the bed and seemed to be handling my whole not wanting to get married thing pretty well, so I decided to just go with it. I could kick Jase’s ass over the whole thing later.

“We’re getting married,” Liam said. “We’re doing the whole thing. Pretty white dress. Boring preacher. Crying parents. All of it.”

“Why? Why go through all the trouble?” Although the part about the pretty white dress was tempting, which was something I wasn’t expecting. Who would have thought I had a secret, hidden desire to wear a wedding gown?

“We’re going to get married because we fell into this mate thing. Neither of us knew what we were doing when we made the choices we did. We just woke up one day eternally linked to one another. And while I wouldn’t change that for anything, I want you to know – I want the world to know – that I’ve made the conscious decision to be with you.” His lashes dropped, and when they rose again he couldn’t quite manage to meet my eyes. “And I need to know this is where you want to be, too. Please, marry me, Scout.”

I blinked back the tears threatening to fall. “Liam Cole, you are my forever and always. Of course I will marry you.”

And as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day, I lay in my mate’s arms and began planning my wedding.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Liam's Canadian Cabin Christmas

Every year at Christmas I send my newsletter subscribers an exclusive short story from the world of Shifters and Seers. This one is from 2012 and joins Liam on the Christmas morning he shared with Scout in Fate Succumbs

Not subscribed to the newsletter? Do so in the sidebar so you won't miss this year's short story! (Note: I'm a lazy newsletter sender, so don't worry about your inbox getting spammed.)

That winter I had a love-hate affair with mornings. I hated the cold that was so pronounced it sank into my bones, freezing the marrow. I hated knowing a long, hard day of simply trying to survive lay ahead. And mostly I hated knowing that soon she would be slinking away from me, leaving me physically aching for her touch the rest of the day. But those few moments when we were still in bed, her body tucked into mine like it belonged there, were among the best in my life.
Christmas morning was the exception.There was no dread for the day to come, only a spark of the same hope every person who celebrates the holiday feels upon waking on December 25. I had busted my ass the day before to make sure I would only have to do the bare minimum to get us by for the day. Maybe it was stupid and foolish to even consider celebrating the holiday when there wasn’t anything the two of us had to celebrate, but I needed this. We had filled the last few weeks with off-key songs and makeshift Christmas festivities. Like any kid over the age of three, I knew it would all be over tomorrow, and I wasn’t able to let it just fizzle out. Even if we did nothing but huddle by the fire all day, I would enjoy the hell of out it. Actually, that sounded really fantastic. It had to be ten below in the cabin, which meant it was considerably colder outside. The only thing saving me from turning into a Liam-shaped snowman was Scout’s warmth as she burrowed a little further into my chest. I breathed in through my nose, letting her scent warm my two-sizes-too-small heart the same way her slight body was warming my arms and legs.
Santa, if you’re listening, this is what I want for Christmas. I want this, forever. Let me live the rest of my life in this bed with her and I will be happy and content.
Of course, there was no Santa to listen in and grant my every desire. And if there was, he obviously knew me well enough to put me on the naughty list, because as soon as I made my wish, I felt Scout wake up. For a moment I thought I might get my ultimate wish, one I was too chicken to admit to even Jolly Old Saint Nick. Instead of immediately getting as far away from me as humanly possible in a one-room cabin, Scout lingered. In my head, I saw her opening her eyes, realizing where she was and who she was with, and not regretting it. I imagined her saying my name, coaxing my eyes open. My lips itched with longing, and it was becoming almost impossible to just lie there and pretend to be unaware of her. Just when I though I might break from the effort, she slipped out from under my arms and bound out of the bed.
I stayed where I was, waiting for her go through her normal morning routine before dragging myself out of the heaven that was this bed. But instead of going to add some wood to the fire and gathering up her day clothes, she went to the cabinet and started moving stuff around. When I heard something crinkle I lost the battle with my curiosity. I moved my head to where I could see her through tiny gap I allowed in my eyelids. At my movement, she ran towards our sad excuse for a Christmas tree and underneath tossed two objects I couldn’t discern with my limited vision.
Presents. Scout had put presents under the tree. Presents for me. From Scout.
My heart kicked in my chest. Maybe there was a Santa Claus.
“It’s Christmas!” Scout bellowed from the top of her lungs, and I had to throw a cover over my face to hide the ridiculous grin stretching across my face. “It’s Christmas! Santa came! It’s Christmas!”

It was Christmas, and for once, I was happy to be alive to experience the miracle of it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Infinite Harmony Release Day

Today is the day! Infinite Harmony is LIVE!



The eBook is only 99¢ for a limited time, so grab it up super-crazy-cheap while you can. The Amazon link is live, and it should be on Barnes & Noble soon. Both sites have the print version available.

Thank you all for your support over the years, and I hope you enjoy reading Joshua & Ada's story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

***

Thanks to Jake Petway for the new, pretty banners on the website!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Infinite Harmony - Chapter 1

Have Sex.

Ada Jessup stared at her journal and waited for a wave of emotion that never came. This was supposed to be it. The one. The thing that when crossed off her list would make her feel like she had really accomplished something. Instead, all she felt was the need for a nap. 

Well, a nap and for her boyfriend to send her a text. She didn’t even care what it said.

“Nooooooo!”

Across the lobby, a guy braced his arms on either side of the vending machine. His shoulders slumped dejectedly as he scanned the ravaged bins.

“There is another vending machine at the picnic pavilion,” she called out, trying to use the cheerful, welcoming voice her boss assured her was the most important part. It was certainly the hardest part of her job since she was feeling the exact opposite of cheerful and welcoming at the moment. “If you can’t find what you want there, Minit Mart is about a mile and a half down the main highway. They stay open all night.”

“There were two Kit-Kats in here this afternoon,” the guy said, pressing his nose up to the glass as if he was going to find them hiding behind the Swiss Cake Rolls. “I’ve been pining for them all night. Crispy wafers. Milk chocolate. Crispy wafers. Milk chocolate. It’s like a chorus in my head. I swear, I can smell them.”

Ada draped a tissue over the distinctive orange package sitting next to her keyboard. 

“Would you like directions to the picnic pavilion?”

“It’s no use,” he said, feeding money into the machine. “I ate all of those before dinner.” He punched a few buttons, causing a Reese’s to take a swan dive. Another dollar fed into the machine, another push of buttons, and another Reese’s. And then a Snickers. And a Milky Way. And finally, a Milky Way Dark.

“Partying hard tonight?” 

The guy stopped stuffing candy into various pockets of his well-worn jeans and turned towards Ada. He blinked a couple of times, the act exaggerated by his owl-like eyes. 

“Party?” His voice was an octave lower than she was expecting and held a soft, farther-south-than-Kentucky accent.

“I know how you kids do it these days. You jack yourself up on tons of chocolate and then play your Worlds of Warcrafts and Grand Theft Autos until the wee hours of the morning. Chocolate and video games. It’s ruined many a good boy.”

  “No one wants to be good forever.” His mouth was wide, which meant when he smiled, it took over his entire face. He tore into a pack of Reese’s and popped an entire peanut butter cup into his mouth. “It’s a horrible burden to bear. Might as well fall down the chocolate and video game rabbit hole while you’re young and get a head start on some good, clean, hedonistic living.” He meandered towards the front desk while he talked until he stood just on the other side of the two-foot wide counter separating Ada’s personal domain from the rest of the world. “Come to the dark side,” he said, holding out the second Reese’s cup. “We have chocolate.”

Ada felt the corners of her lips tugging upwards despite herself. Who was this guy? Was he for real? Normally the only people she encountered on her late night shifts were drunks and frustrated families who made a wrong turn in Illinois and ended up getting to the resort six hours after they intended. Flirty teenage guys were a rarity. Actually, as far as Ada could remember, this was the first time in her seven months at Serenity Shores she’d encountered one.

“No, thanks,” she said, even though the thought of spending a moment in a chocolate coated peanut butter heaven had her mouth watering. “I’m good.”

The guy tilted his head and studied her more closely than was entirely comfortable. “Sorry, but that music and those brackets around your mouth say you’re the exact opposite of good.” He held out the Reese’s cup a bit further. “Come on. Take it. It’ll make you feel better.”

“I don’t need to feel better. I’m already having the best day ever.”

Or at least, it should have been. It was supposed to be. 

“Then let this be the cherry on top of your perfect sundae day.” This time the peanut butter cup did a little dance in his fingers as he thrust it forward. Unable to resist temptation the third time around, she snatched it from his hand as a deeply satisfied smile spread across his face. 

“Word to the wise…” His eyes roamed down to her less-than-impressive chest and narrowed on her name tag. “Ada. I like it.”

Ada tilted her head in something that could have been interpreted as a shrug or a half-hearted thank you. It was a name. Sometimes she hated it, other times it wasn’t so bad. Either way, it wasn’t exactly like she had any choice in the matter. She’d been incapable of anything other than floating in amniotic fluid when it was chosen.

“If you want someone to believe you’re having the best day ever,” the guy continued, “you might want to lay off the Patsy Cline. Someone might miss the sadness in your eyes, but it’s impossible to overlook the velvety tones of melancholy floating out of your speakers.”

Ada felt her chin jerk up in defiance at the same time heat spread across her cheeks. “Maybe I just like Patsy Cline,” she said with a bit too much snark. Getting caught up in what some random guy thought about her wasn’t normally Ada’s thing, but Mr. Lanky McLankster and his assumptions were pissing her off. What made him think he could just waltz into her lodge on his long legs and tell her she was miserable? She was happy, and if not happy, then at least content.

Except for the way she wasn’t so much content as wanting to curl up into a ball and have a good cry.

And now she had to admit it to herself thanks to Reese’s Boy, who was still standing there, and who, for reasons she couldn’t understand since she was doing absolutely nothing to encourage him at this point, was still talking.

“Everyone likes Patsy, because everyone likes to feel wretched. It’s human nature,” he said, pulling the Snickers out of his pocket. His fingers were long and spindly, reminding Ada of a newborn colt’s legs. She expected them to be just as uncoordinated and clumsy, but they were almost graceful as they freed the candy from its confines and broke it in half.

Pianist fingers, she thought as she refused the half he extended towards her. Her mother had played the piano in church since Ada was barely big enough to crawl up onto the bench and had high hopes for her daughters, but as always, Ada proved a disappointment. Her fingers were short and stubby, the exact opposite of pianist fingers, and she didn’t have the desire or disposition to overcome the obstacle they presented. When the mood struck, she could sometimes tap out “Chopsticks,” but even then she managed to miss a note or two.

“How about you?” she found herself asking. “Do you enjoy misery?”

He leaned across the counter and motioned for her to do the same. Curious, she braced her arms on the edge and leaned her head in close to his. 

“Lifelong member of the Official Patsy Cline Fan Club,” he confessed in a whisper. When she giggled, he pulled back and attempted to widen his already round eyes. “True story,” he said. “I still have the certificate somewhere.”

Ada slid back into her seat, surprised to find a genuine smile teasing the corner of her lips. “So you’re an official, lifelong fan of misery, are you?”

“I’m very into the human fandom, and nothing is more human than misery.”

On any other day, Ada might have argued. Humanity was a lot of things, most of them of the warm and fuzzy variety. To put misery over all the laughter and love in the world verged on sacrilege in her mind, but today she felt like he might have a point. Misery felt more real to her than anything else at the moment.

As if sensing all she needed was to add some more disappointment and frustration onto her current mood, the customer service line rang.

“Sorry, I gotta take this,” she said before picking up the handset on a phone so old it belonged in the Smithsonian. Random Guy leaned against the counter like he planned on being there all night. “Serenity Shores front desk. This is Ada.”

“Hey, Ada, darlin’. It’s Jennie over at Lake’s Edge. I thought you would want to know you’ve got some squatters, hon.”

Ada muttered her thanks before dropping the phone back into its cradle and then methodically banging her head against the side of the filing cabinet, accenting every slap of flesh against metal with a whispered “Damn it.”

“Problem?” 

Problem didn’t even begin to cover it. Serenity Shores was an exclusive community of rental cabins where nightly rates ran in the thousands of dollars. Currently, every cabin but one was reserved for a wedding. The largest cabin, which was really more of a lakeside mansion, was being renovated and hadn’t been available all summer. Since it was pretty far down the lake from the main office, Ada’s boss had asked the staff at Lake’s Edge, Serenity Shore’s poorer cousin across the water, to keep an eye out for any shenanigans. It was only June and this was already Ada’s third call.

Going out in the middle of the night to tell someone to vacate the premises before the authorities were called was bad enough, but Ada already knew who she would find, and that made it worse. She thought about telling her boss a lot of his problems could be solved if he would do a better job of hiding his keys from his son, Timber’s most notorious druggie, but the big guy was stupidly loyal to his offspring. Last year, when Dorian nearly beat his ex-girlfriend to death, his father threw around a lot of money to keep the situation quiet. Even when the poor girl was walking around in a cast and sporting a black and blue face, Mr. Rudolph insisted his son was a good boy who was just a bit misguided. He wouldn’t tolerate anyone mentioning his son’s shortcomings, but at the same time, he expected his staff to keep the hellion from destroying the business he’d devoted his entire life to building. The situation placed Ada in a cabin featuring dazzling, up-close views of both a rock and a hard place.

“It was nice meeting you—” 

“Joshua,” he said, extending a hand in her direction.

Ada gave his hand two hard pumps and affected a look of mock sincerity. “A pleasure making your acquaintance, Joshua, but I must be off. It seems I have some business to attend to.”

Joshua’s eyes darted to the wall of glass overlooking the lake and then the clock above her head. 

“You have business to attend to at one in the morning?”

“A front desk clerk’s work knows no hours,” she said, extracting her hand from his so she could grab the golf cart key from the little hook hanging off the desk. “Not rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor dead of night can keep us from breaking up a party.”

“A party?” Joshua’s eyebrows raced across his forehead to meet each other in a downward slope. “Here? In the resort?”

“No. It’s over at the state park. It doesn’t matter where a party is, I’m going to break it up. I’m Party Breaker-Upper Girl. I have a cape and stuff, but I don’t really like to talk about it.” She slid through the door separating the front desk from the back office and then walked out into the hallway, making sure to lock it securely behind her. The rest of the resort had undergone a giant facelift and upgrade over the past few years, but the main lodge was still an old building with ancient locks, so it took her a minute to free her key. By the time she was sliding it into her pocket, Joshua was standing at her side.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m coming with you.”

“I don’t really—”

“Come on.” His grin was boyish and endearing. “Every super-hero needs a sidekick.”

Infinite Harmony will be available 
ONE WEEK from today on October 14!



I mean...


You can pre-order your copy on Amazon today!
(Links to other retailers will be made as they come available.)




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Infinite Harmony Cover Reveal


Ada Jessup lives for the moment, knowing the promise of tomorrow can be all too easily broken.
Joshua is an Immortal, a heavenly warrior who will still be fighting long after the rest of the Alpha Pack have turned to dust.

When a gunshot wound forces Joshua to tell Ada the truth of what he is, there is more at risk than the safety of the Alphas he's sworn to protect. For Joshua, the real danger is the way he feels drawn to the human girl. After all, what can the future hold for a girl whose days are numbered and a boy whose life has no end?

Guys, I am totally excited about this book! I love Joshua and Ada, and I think you're going to love their humor and heart. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


Infinite Harmony will be available on October 14! 
Pre-order your copy today!

And don't forget to stop by every Tuesday until October 14th to get a teaser from Infinite Harmony!