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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

COMING SOON


Divorcing the Devil
by Dwan Abrams


Urban Books (April 29, 2008)

ISBN-10: 1601629605
ISBN-13: 978-1601629609

For Skyler Little, it's not easy being a psychoanalyst and a Christian. Sometimes it's hard not getting drawn into her patients' personal lives filled with adultery, abuse and turmoil. Yet, she remains steadfast in providing them with the best in Christian counseling. She even counsels her friend, Gabriella, who has just learned that her husband is cheating on her.

But when Skyler learns whom Gabriella's husband is cheating on her with, things start to spiral out of control, and she is now caught in the middle. Can Skyler get herself out of this situation, or can anyone be spared when you try to divorce the devil?

Monday, April 21, 2008

BOOK INTRO: Choices

CHOICES

Making choices had come easily for Lara Boyd, until an unlikely ultimatum from her fiancé changed everything.

Six years later, the kindergarten teacher is heartbroken, love-leery, and certain her dreams for husband and family will remain just that. But everything changes when widowed illustrator Ryan Andrews and his young son, Justin, enter her classroom, and Lara finds herself making choices she never thought she would, in the name of a love she never thought she'd have.

Three years widowed, Mr. Mom Ryan Andrews never thought he'd want to date again, but one look at Lara Boyd changes that. If feeling attraction isn't enough of a surprise, his dead wife appearing and urging him to finally move on definitely is. With Justin's encouragement and his wife's prodding, Ryan chooses to pursue the relationship, a choice that does not sit well with everyone in his life, and proves the power of love can make the easiest choices the most painful.


Choices

Tammy Williams

Genesis Press

April 1, 2008

ISBN-10: 1585713007

ISBN-13: 978-1585713004

Sunday, April 20, 2008

EXCERPT: Dangerous Secrets


DANGEROUS SECRETS

In the final book of the Harbor Intrigue Series, Lyn Cote takes all the parts familiar to readers of the series and steps up the romance element. The suspense element grabs you from the first chapter if not the first page. Sylvie Patterson wants to know the truth about the death of her cousin Ginger. Ridge is on loan to Winfield's police department and stuck right in the middle of the developing intrigue. When the string of break-ins continues, following the trail might become dangerous for body and heart. Side by side, Sylvie and Ridge seem to find the other uncovering their secrets too.

Website: www.LynCote.net

DANGEROUS SECRETS

By

Lyn Cote


Prologue

March 1st

She'd managed to climb in a rear window. Had anyone seen her? At this time of night in this little burg? She doubted it. Standing in the apartment lighted only by her flashlight and thin moonlight coming through the windows, she laid her flashlight on the floor. Where should she start looking? It had all seemed so easy. Well, get started, she told herself. She approached a built-in bookcase.

As she reached up to remove the books from the top shelf, it began. The wall in front of her eyes started to undulate as if an earthquake were taking place. Then the floor beneath her feet began ripple. She staggered and caught hold of the bookcase, cursing.

And then she heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Or was that just part of the flashback too?





Chapter One

March 2nd

Sylvie, I am going to WOW you with a big surprise tomorrow! What could Ginger's WOW surprise be? This question kept bobbing to the surface of Sylvie Patterson's mind--interrupting her work. She sat at her PC near the front of her store, My Favorite Books, answering customer e-mails.

Last night Ginger, her favorite cousin, had blown into Winfield, intending to spend the next two months in her apartment above Sylvie's bookstore. Just a few years younger than Sylvie, Ginger would be busy "polishing" her dissertation on Alaskan whales. Last night Ginger with her long curly red hair and golden freckles had been more effervescent than usual.

And in just a few more minutes, Sylvie would close up shop and find out what Ginger's big secret was. She'd make Ginger come clean tonight.

The little bell on the door jingled and cold air swished inside. In the off-season, Sylvie didn't usually look up from her monitor to see who'd come in. But today it might be Ginger.

She glanced up. Not Ginger.

Ridge Matthews looked back at her. Ridge Matthews, standing there against the wall, lined with shelves and shelves of books.

Waves of recognition on so many different levels undulated through her. So much history lay between them. Then the waves emanated from her, toward Ridge and were palpable in the silence. Ridge was still tall but not too tall, still stocky with broad shoulders, still the same dark brown, nearly black eyes. Only a few glints of gray in his short-cropped hair reminded her that eighteen years had passed since he'd been a year-round resident of Winfield.

"Sylvie," he acknowledged her with the grave voice he'd acquired that awful summer night eighteen years ago.

"Ridge," she returned the greeting and forced a smile. She rose, holding out her hand. I'm surprised to see you, Ridge, but not unhappy. Never unhappy.

He hesitated a split second and then came forward and gripped her hand—-briefly.

He was still as buttoned-up as his black wool winter coat. Last December, she'd glimpsed him at Trish Franklin's wedding, another of his rare visits. And now she thought she knew his reason for appearing here today. "Are you looking for Ben?" she asked. "He's running an errand for me."

Ridge digested this in several moments of silence. "My mother said he doesn't come home after school. Every day he walks here from the bus stop."

Yes, going home to your parent's house is way too depressing for any kid. For a long time, the Matthews' home had been nothing but a house, merely four walls, a roof and floor. That was why Ridge had forsaken Winfield.

"Thanks for being kind to Ben." His low tone curled through her.

Resisting his effect on her, she forced another smile. "Ben's a good kid. Are you here to visit him for a few days?" she added, hoping his answer would be yes.

"I'm moving him away this weekend."

She stiffened with shock. "With you to Madison? Now?"

The door opened behind Ridge. More frigid air rushed in.

"No," Ridge said, "an opening has come up unexpectedly in a good military school near Milwaukee. Ben was next on the waiting list. He's scheduled to start bright and early on Monday."

Just inside her door, blond-haired and freckle-faced Ben halted, looking as if he'd just received the death sentence.

She took an involuntary step toward him. Military school? For Ben? No.

"Military school?" Ridge's orphaned ward echoed her aloud. "Monday?"

Sylvie wanted to pull Ben, now white-faced, into a protective hug. But at twelve years, he was too old for that.

Caught between the two of them, Ridge shifted sideways, eyeing both. "Ben, you know I told you that my parents are too old to keep you."

Besides being too self-centered, too self-absorbed, Sylvie amended silently. The constant ache in her damaged hip twinged at this thought. Ridge, don't be so cold. He's just a kid and he's been through so much.

"I thought—" Ben's voice thinned. "--you were going to get a place big enough for me to come live with you."

Ben's plaintive tone stung Sylvie.

Ridge had enough conscience to look uncomfortable. "My job doesn't make me good guardian material, Ben. I travel all over the state on homicide cases. Or I get embroiled in local ones that keep me out all hours of the day and night. This way you won't be shifted around from house to house while I'm tied up on a case. You'll be at school and I'll come and get you at least one weekend a month."

"What about this summer?" Ben asked, an edge of panic in his voice. "Sylvie said she'd teach me how to snorkel."

Ridge looked distinctly uneasy now. "I've signed you up for summer camp—"

"No!" Ben burst out.

"Ridge," Sylvie overrode Ben's heated stream of objections, "my dad and I want Ben to spend the summer with us. I meant to ask you."

Silence.

"Really?" Ben asked, approaching her.

The spur-of-the-moment invitation had been forced out of her. She reached for Ben and he came to a halt beside her. She rested a hand on his shoulder. "Yes, and Milo planned to hire you to help him at the bait shop." Her father hadn't said so in so many words, but he liked kids in general and Ben in particular.

"Really?" Ben repeated, color coming back to his cheeks.

"Really." She squeezed Ben's shoulder and then glanced at Ridge, reading his chagrin, wanting to shake him, reach him. "You trust us with Ben, don’t you, Ridge?" She knew this last phrase would make it impossible for him to say no. He wouldn't stir the murky waters of the past.

"Of course," he said brusquely. "Time for us to go, Ben." Peremptorily, he turned toward the door.

Again, some imp prompted Sylvie to refuse to let Ridge have his way completely. Perhaps it was Ridge's aloof, almost insensitive handling of Ben that made her want to throw another speed bump in his path.

"Just a moment," she said, "let me shut down my computer and we'll go upstairs. Ginger's back. She'll want to see you. Just got in last night."

"From Alaska?" Ridge asked, showing that he wasn't completely out of touch with Winfield.

"Yes, she plans to 'hole up' and finish her master's thesis. I haven't seen her at all today. She's probably still glued to her laptop upstairs in her apartment. I need to pry her loose. Then we'll go to pick up the pizza Ben just got back from ordering for me at Audra's Place and I'll then take her home with me to eat it." Sylvie bustled around turning off her computer.

Ben, who'd spent every afternoon after school with her since he'd moved into the Matthews' house last fall, went around turning off lights, helping her close up as usual.

Within minutes, Ridge and Ben huddled around her outside, protecting her from the stiff wind. Ridge's presence made her feel everything more intensely. But without revealing this, she locked up the front door of the two-story Victorian that she rented from Ginger's parents. Then the two males followed her limping gait over the narrow shoveled sidewalk around the side of the house. Their footsteps crunched loudly in the clear night.

The only other sound was the cutting wind blowing from Lake Superior at their backs. Sylvie tried to think of some way to hint to Ridge that she wanted to discuss Ben with him. But if the past was any guide, she knew Ridge would do anything to avoid being alone in her company.

The threesome reached the rear door of the enclosed two-story porch that shielded the back staircase. Sylvie unlocked and opened the door, ready to call up the stairs to her cousin. Then her heart stopped for one beat.

At the bottom of the steep staircase lay her cousin, crumpled. The early winter dusk made Sylvie doubt her eyesight. She hurried over the threshold. "Ginger! Ginger!"

No response.

Sylvie threw herself onto her knees beside Ginger's body. No one alive would lie in that rigid twisted position. Sylvie knew she must be dead. "Ginger!" she keened. "Ginger! No!"

Ridge heard the hysteria in Sylvie's voice. Taking the scene in a glance, he recognized all the signs of death and death that had taken place hours before. He shoved Ben back out the door. "Go home. Now!"

"But, but," Ben sputtered.

"She's dead," Ridge hissed beside Ben's ear. "You need to go home and stay there."

"Sylvie—"

"I'll take care of her." Ridge pushed Ben farther away. "Go. I'll handle this. I'll take care of Sylvie. Go."

Looking fearfully over his shoulder, Ben fled, letting the outside door slam.

Ridge turned and knelt beside Sylvie. He went through the motions of checking Ginger Johnson's non-existent pulse. He lifted her eyelids. Her irises were dilated. But . . . her eyes were closed. The thought made his insides congeal. Not just for the sorrow, death always brought but because that meant . . . he didn't want to go there. For so many reasons.

He snapped open his cell phone and punched in the emergency number. He gave the details as simply as possible to the responder. He snapped it shut again. "Sylvie," he said gently, "help is on the way."

"She's dead, isn't she?" Rocking on her knees, Sylvie had wrapped her arms around herself as if she might fly apart.

"It looks like it." He didn't mention Ginger's eyes being closed. It hit him then. This was the second time he and Sylvie had together confronted the body of a relative, lying dead. He felt sick in the pit of his stomach. In spite of himself, he laid a hand on her slender shoulder.

She covered his hand with hers. "Ridge, Ginger must have fallen last night," she pleaded. "I think I would have heard her fall if . . . if it happened while I was in the store." She looked up at him, her woebegone face pale and fringed by her short silvery blonde hair.

He read in her huge blue-violet eyes the silent plea for exoneration. Had this event taken her back too, back to the night Dan had died? "Yes, you're right. From what I see I think Ginger must have fallen last night." You didn't fail your cousin. She was dead before you came to work this morning.

But he didn't let any of his suspicions about Ginger's fatal tumble color his tone or expression. If only her eyes had been open. How easy everything would have been.

With relief, he heard a police siren. Gently he grasped Sylvie by the upper arms and drew her to her feet. She felt unsteady to him. So one arm under hers, he guided her to the door. "I'm going to ask you to go back into your bookstore. Why don't you make a new pot of coffee?"

She looked up at him. Her lips were pressed so tightly together they were as white as the swirled frost on the single-pane window behind her. "I want my dad."

Another sting. She'd said those exact same words to him on that long ago night too. "Call Milo. He should be here. Ginger's mom Shirley still lives here year-round in her Victorian, right?"

She nodded. "But she and Tom away in Arizona for a delayed honeymoon, a break before the tourist season starts in May." Tears filled her eyes. "I'll go . . . I'll go make coffee."

After giving her a heartening squeeze, Ridge nudged her through the doorway. That was all she could do, anyone could do now. Make coffee for the very long night ahead. He couldn't help himself, his gaze followed Sylvie until she disappeared around the corner at the front.

#

The long night of investigating the crime scene had finally come to an end. Ridge glanced at his watch, his eyes watered with fatigue. Nearly three o'clock in the early morning. Sheriff Keir Harding whom Ridge remembered stood, facing him at the bottom of the stairwell. Ginger's body had been taken away hours before.

"I don't think we can deny that Ginger's death is suspicious," Keir said. "But I don't want to start rumors."

"Having an autopsy done--people will hear about it and talk," Ridge said, rubbing his forehead. As they stood here talking, the coroner was probably wrapping up the autopsy at the local funeral home.

Keir grimaced. "Ginger was well liked. This will hit everyone hard."

I couldn't agree with you more.

"Let's send Milo and Sylvie home then." Keir led Ridge to the door he'd entered hours ago with Sylvie and Ben. "We'll lock this place uptight and I'll make sure a deputy checks around here every hour so the crime scene isn't tampered with." The sheriff made a sound of exhaustion.

Outside in the silence, in the stark icy night, they walked single-file on the path between the waist-high mounds of snow around to the front. Sylvie's bookstore was still alight on the quiet street of darkened shops and homes.

"I'm so glad you were already in town. This saves me calling for state help." After delivering these unwelcome words, Keir bid him good night and headed for his sheriff Jeep.

Ridge fumed in silence, but his fatigue even dulled this reaction. This was supposed to be just a quick trip home to take care of the problem of Ben. But Ginger hadn't gotten herself killed just to trouble him. Keep this in perspective. My problems are nothing compared to Ginger's family's.

Now he had to face Sylvie. Ridge stiffened his defenses and moved inside. Visibly despondent, Sylvie was draped over a well worn tweedy sofa along the wall in the foyer. She glanced up at him, her appealing face drawn.

"Where's Milo?" he asked, forestalling her questions.

She sat up. "Dad went home hours ago to call Shirley to break the news to her about Ginger and to make the flight arrangements for her and Tom on his computer while they packed."

He watched her slip her small feet back into her fur-topped boots. "Rough."

"Dad wanted to tell his sister Shirley himself, not the sheriff."

Their eyes connected. And he sensed that everything that he wished to conceal about Ginger's death and about everything else that lay between him and Sylvie, she read with ease. His jaw clenched. He tried to relax it. And failed.

A tear trickled from Sylvie's right eye. She brushed it away and stood. "I take it I can go home now."

Ridge nodded, unable to speak. Images from the scene of Dan's untimely death had slid in and out of his conscious thoughts during the night-long investigation. Bringing Sylvie along with them.

She went to the coat rack and Ridge hurried forward to help her don her long plum-colored down coat the second time tonight. In her evident fatigue, she wavered on her feet. He steadied her, a hand on her upper arm.

"I'm fine," she whispered.

Her frailty belied her words. He admired her nerve. Nothing was fine tonight and nothing would be fine for quite a while. "My car's out front."

He escorted her through turning off the foyer lights, locking up, and then out in the winter cold so dry the air almost crackled with static electricity. After helping her into his SUV, he went around, got in, and turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. He tried again. Not even grinding. Sudden aggravation flamed through him. With his gloved palm, he slapped the steering wheel once. Nothing ever went right for him in Winfield.

"You left your lights on," Sylvie said, pointing to the dash where sure enough his lights had been switched on and left.

He let out a slow breath. "I'm used to the automatic ones but I must have turned them on and forgot."

"And when you arrived, the street was still lit by shop lights along with the street lamps, you wouldn't have noticed you'd left them on. No one did." She opened her door. "It's only a few blocks for me. I always walk to work. And your parent's house is within walking distance. Leave it till morning."

Not willing to let her out of his sight, he got out and joined her on the sidewalk. The icy temperature nearly took his breath away. It was probably quite safe for her to walk home, but after finding Ginger dead, he didn't want to leave Sylvie alone in the dark early morning. He's only leave her when she was in her own home safe with her father. "I'll walk you home first."

"That's not necessary. This is Winfield, remember?" She stopped speaking--abruptly.

Her face was turned away from the street lamp so he couldn't see her expression, but her sudden silence and immobility told him that Ginger's death had hit her afresh. Yes, this was Winfield, but Ginger had died not in faraway Alaska, but here in hometown Winfield.

Without mentioning this, he looped Sylvie's arm around the crook of his and began leading her down the street he knew so well. He didn't need to ask her where her house was. Walking beside Sylvie made him very aware of the stark white of the snow mounds left by the ploughs. Also aware of the way the cold, along with being in Winfield, was nibbling away at him bit by bit.

After a couple of steps, he adjusted to accommodate her halting gait. This nipped his conscience. He'd been able to walk away from Dan's accident, unscathed. But did every limping step remind Sylvie of the past? If it did, how did she stand it?

"What took the sheriff so long?" she asked. "I mean why did they spend so much time up in her apartment?"

Uneasiness twitched through him. He didn't want to face this. No, he did not. They reached the end of the block and started up the next. How to avoid this bullet?

"Ridge?" she prompted.

"Sylvie, it's late. We can talk about this tomorrow."

Sylvie halted. "You're frightening me. What aren't you telling me?"

"Come along." He tugged her.

She resisted. "I'm not moving until you tell me why they took so long up in Ginger's apartment."

He'd had it. Why didn't anything ever go the easy way? Why couldn't she just accept what he said? "Ginger's death has been deemed suspicious."

"Suspicious?"

The low temp was numbing his bare ears. "It's freezing out, don't you feel it?" He tugged her elbow. "Come on. I'll tell you everything. Let's just get out of this cold." He drew her along.

"Tell me," she insisted, even though she began walking again.

He walked faster, urging her along. "Ginger's apartment had been ransacked."

"What? You mean someone broke in?" She slowed, pulling against him.

He tugged her. "Someone tore Ginger's apartment apart," his voice turned savage. I wanted to leave in the morning. What's the chance of that now? "We think the point of entry was a rear window on the back porch."

"What could they have been looking for?" she asked. "Ginger didn't have anything worth stealing."

That only made it more suspicious. Didn't Sylvie see that?

"Maybe you've got it wrong," Sylvie said. "Ginger might have been looking for something and had everything turned upside down and inside out. Ginger wasn't always very neat."

Ridge didn't want to respond to this excuse. Let her come up with ways to avoid the truth. He just plodded on, the cold filtering through all his layers of protection.

"Don't you think it could be that? Ginger might just have been unpacking and—"

The sheriff's words came back to Ridge: It's good you were with Sylvie when she found the body. She might have closed her cousin's eyes without thinking or I might have assumed that she did. But we both know— Suddenly Ridge had had it. He couldn't take any more waffling, any more lame explanations. "Ginger's eyes were closed," he snapped.

"What does that mean?" Sylvie halted again. "You're not making sense."

He urged her along again. His face was stiff not just from the bitter temperature but from irritation. "It means that someone closed her eyes."

"Someone . . . what?"

His patience evaporated. "Sylvie, if a person falls to their death, their eyes will remain open. Someone was there after Ginger fell and shut her eyes."

Sylvie exhaled—deeply and loudly. And then began breathing very fast.

In the scant light from the street lamp, he glimpsed her eyes and mouth wide in shock. Then he realized she wasn't getting her breath. "Sylvie." He shook her arms. "Sylvie."

She was hyperventilating. If he didn't get her breathing, she'd faint on him.

He pulled her face close to his and blew into her open mouth. Once. Twice. He shook her again. Three more times he blew carbon dioxide into her mouth. "Breathe. Breathe."

She shuddered once and then leaned her head against him. She was gasping now, but was getting air. "This," she whispered, "can't be happening."

Not wanting to, but unable to stop himself, he put his arms around her delicate form. "It's freezing. I've got to get you home."

She raised her pale face to him, visible now in the street lamp glow. "What happens now?"

Friday, April 18, 2008

EXCERPT: Shadow Living…Paintings of Grief

Shadow Living…Paintings of Grief
by Deborah Slappey Pitts

Edifying the World Thru Words

Shadow Living…Paintings of Grief is the enthralling sequel to I Feel Okay, Deborah Slappey Pitts’ debut bestseller. In Shadow Living…Paintings of Grief, the author shares her intimate story of grief and survival after her husband's death to a silent killer disease, primary amyloidosis.

Drawing from personal experiences of pain, depression, and unnerving despair, Pitts identifies the perplexing stages of grieving and shares her tale of faith and healing. Readers will discover the many stages of the grieving process and how to embrace the light of hope. It’s a must read—an unforgettable story; written with soul, candor, and love.

Website address: http://www.dslappeypitts.com/

Chapter Six…Retreat into the Shadows

I was overwhelmingly lonely and I missed Clyde so much. I missed holding hands with him and sitting down on the sofa discussing current events. I missed sitting with him at the kitchen table, laughing and having fun together. I would see couples walking and holding hands together. I wanted to walk with my husband again, too. It reminded me of my loss as I had to relive the day Clyde died a thousand times.

T wo weeks had passed since we buried Clyde and I still couldn’t sleep well at night. I tried my best to fall asleep around 11:00 p.m., sometimes 11:30 p.m., but my body wouldn’t have it. My eyes would routinely pop open early in the morning, sometimes 3:00 a.m. and on a bad night even 2:00 a.m. I would stay awake the rest of the early morning.

I wanted to be strong. I tried so very hard, but the pain was relentless, razor sharp as if someone was deliberately pulling back my skin, slicing my insides without mercy; exposing the delicate layers of my anatomy. The weight of the despair throughout my body was dreadful, especially at night. I began to despise nighttime. I dreaded seeing the sunshine leave the sky. I wanted daylight to last forever. If I could manipulate the night into day, I would have.

What do you do at 2:00 a.m., other than stare at a man pointing at a map of the United States with potbellied grey clouds, seemingly pregnant, waiting for the birth of rain. It was all too unreal as I watched the man wave his hand from one side of the U.S. map—from east to west, from north to south, and back to east and west again. The meteorologist kept reiterating the same thing as my body starved for sleep. But my mind couldn’t rest; it was constantly moving from one thought to the next.

I pulled the composition book from my bottom bedside table and began to write these words…

I feel so alone, nothing is the same. I don’t have much to give. I try hard, but I don’t have much left in me. I am trying to keep my health intact. But it’s not working. As the days pass by, the reality seems to set in more and more…

“If only I could have gotten Clyde to the Mayo Clinic one month earlier,” I said, “he would be alive today, Lord. I would nestle close to him and we would be all right together. I would take care of him. I would make sure he took his medicines. Oh Lord, I would take care of him forever. I would. If only I’d known about the Mayo Clinic earlier in December. Everything would be different. Clyde would be here. He wouldn’t be lying in a cemetery. He would be smiling and laughing because he knew he had escaped the jaws of death. Lord, how can anyone make it through this?” I asked. “How can I make it through this agony? How will my family make it through this?”



During the first few weeks, I would cry myself to sleep in hope that for just a few hours I would escape the reality of death. But as always, I kept praying. I couldn’t read because I couldn’t concentrate. But I could pray, and I did. God always comforted me in my tears and He took care of me in my sorrow.

The next morning, I decided to go in and check on Alex Keith, hoping he would be sound asleep. To my relief, he was asleep. I was simply amazed at the way he had pushed Clyde’s death far from him so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. I knew it wasn’t good. He appeared to be acting as though nothing had happened. Clyde was more than a daddy to Alex Keith. Clyde was Alex Keith’s hero. I gently stroked his forehead back and forth and whispered softly to God:

“Lord, please protect him. Please watch over him. I know he’s in a lot of pain, losing his father at such a young age. I know he’s hurting, but please comfort him in his sorrow. Please help him deal with it. Help Clyde Daryl to deal with Clyde not being here, and please help me. We don’t have anywhere else to go. We only have you. Please help us now Lord. Help us. We miss Clyde terribly.”

I shut my eyes tightly and stood motionless for a few seconds. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t move as I stood in Alex Keith’s room. Finally, I mustered the strength to place one foot in front of the other and walked out of his room into mine. I slumped my body on the bed, closed my eyes, and wept silently in the darkness of the night. I felt so bad for Alex Keith, Clyde Daryl, and myself. I didn’t know how we would ever make it through without Clyde or even if we could. Sleep was a welcome relief. There were rare moments when I felt we would be okay. Clyde would want us to keep going, I would say, even though he wasn’t with us physically. I knew that fact with all of my heart, but most of the time, it wasn’t enough. All I knew was that God was with me and my family. I knew this fact without a shadow of a doubt, but still the pain was unbearable.

Mourning my better half was worse pain than having a baby. It was worse than having a toothache or any physical abnormality or condition on this earth. Grieving someone in death takes on a life of its own. It takes over physically, mentally, and even spiritually. It’s a mind-absorbing pain that penetrates the essence of one’s mental abilities to discern reality from dreamland. I was a walking zombie—living in the shadows of death while fighting desperately to remain with the living. For the first few years of living as a widow, I walked through the motions of living day by day, but deep within I wasn’t doing much living at all. I was existing—simply existing in the wind. I felt part of me had been cut off; my best half had been torn, ripped from the rest of my body.

That’s the kind of pain I experienced throughout the days, the weeks, even the years. There was no one prescription to ease the pain. My mind dripped with sorrow. I tried to read, but I couldn’t decipher the words. But I could listen. Anything would trigger my pain. I would experience fond family memories. Sometimes I would be watching TV, listening to the radio, or just cooking in the kitchen. I remember on one occasion when I was watching a movie and someone died. Had I known the person was going to die, I wouldn’t have watched the show. The experience of seeing someone die on television was devastating to me. I would be “out of things” for days—crying, hoping the sorrow would leave me. Many times I thought I was losing my mind. As years passed, I learned more about grief and the stages of grief and began to protect myself from situations that would trigger episodes of anguish and pain. I learned that grief is a journey to the other side. It takes hard work to work through the stages of grief, because you naturally don’t want to work through your pain and sorrow.



Three weeks had passed since Clyde’s burial. I didn’t plan to go back to work so soon, but Mattie, Clyde’s oldest sister, talked with me and told me that I needed to keep busy. I did appreciate her wisdom.

“Debbie,” she said, “you need to go back to work. It’s not good for you to be in the house alone. It’s just not good. You need to go back and keep yourself busy.”

I heeded her advice and went back to work three weeks after the funeral. Even though I hadn’t been able to sleep much most nights, I knew I needed to go back anyway. Maybe work, I thought to myself, will help me sleep better at night.

I had already spoken to my manager earlier in the day to let her know that I would be returning to work on the following Monday. I knew Clyde wanted me to take care of everything—the children, the house, and I knew that he wanted me to keep things together. I wanted to respect his wishes. I wanted to do all the things he would have wanted me to do.

I was trying to rely on God, but the pain still remained. I didn’t understand it. There were so many questions and thoughts, and I had very few answers. The pain was insistent and at times I felt there was nothing I could do. I felt helpless, but not hopeless.

The grief was feverishly painful as if it was determined to drive me out of my mind. Sleep, when it welcomed me, was a sigh of relief for my soul, and a quiet moment was an escape from my dismal reality of living without my better half. And Clyde was the better half of me. The pain would be unbearable and there was nothing that I could do about it.

No matter how much I screamed at the top of my voice or threw furniture from one wall to the other, the reality was Clyde had gone away and left me to suffer a miserable existence. So, I began to feel sorry for myself. I didn’t know at the time that I was progressing into another phase of grief—leaving the shock of seeing Clyde die before my eyes and now facing true reality that Clyde would no longer walk into the door saying, “Hi honey, I’m home.”

I couldn’t bear this thought. Not yet. I just wasn’t able. How would I ever survive the next stage—anger? The first stage of grief, shock, had nearly killed me.



Darkness overwhelmed the daylight once again as I found myself surrounded with sadness, watching the darkness engulf the daylight whole. I felt choked with pain and agony as I tossed and turned each night. I tried desperately to go to sleep. I would have given anything to simply close my eyes and drift into a deep sleep, but I couldn’t.

“Oh Lord,” I spoke very loudly this time. “Help me,” I said as I stared at the ceiling, hoping that God would answer me quickly as he’d done numerous times.

“Clyde, where are you, sweetheart? You need to be here with me; with Alex Keith and Daryl, with the whole family, sweetheart. It’s lonely without you being close to us. It’s so lonely. Please come to me. Please let me see your face. I need to be with you. I need to touch your handsome face.”

I kept looking at the ceiling and rubbing my forehead. I became very aggravated, even agitated.

“It’s lonely without you, sweetheart. I’m so lonely. I need for you to come home to me. Please come home now. Please!”

I clenched my fist and began to beat against my face furiously and yelled at the ceiling.

“Clyde, why did you leave me here? I can’t do this without you. I can’t keep going without you. Please come back. Don’t leave me here alone. It’s just too painful. Why didn’t you stay with me?”

Tears streamed down from my eyes as I lay against the blanket that night to remember our beautiful family.

“I miss you being here. I miss you Clyde,” I said as I wrapped myself into one of his crisp white cotton shirts. “I’ve cried for you, but God won’t bring you back to me. He won’t.”

I buried my face into my hands and pulled Clyde’s pillow close to my face. Finally around 12:30 that night, I drifted into sleep. Sadly, I would have many nights of pain-wrenching hours of agony and despair of trying to come to grips with the reality that Clyde was gone and wasn’t coming back. I couldn’t feel his presence against his pillow anymore. His scent was fading and even though I wanted desperately to hold on to his scent. It was fading away.

The Telephone Call to the Mayo Clinic

For some reason, I was drawn to call the Mayo Clinic just to see how everyone was doing. I felt a connection to the hospital and staff and I still do to this day. I knew they had done everything possible to save Clyde, and I would always appreciate their service, their generosity, and their very special compassion for our family. I decided to call the transplant unit. The nurse told me that every patient had received a heart transplant, and was doing well. She asked me how I was doing and I told her we were taking it one day at a time. I also told her to tell everyone that I was very happy for all of them. Now everyone would be able to go on with their lives with new hearts.

After a few minutes, I hung up the telephone and closed my eyes in devastating pain. My face displayed the sheer horror and anguish as I replayed her words in my mind: Everyone received a heart transplant. Everyone…Everyone…Everyone... Everyone except Clyde got a heart! He was the only one who didn’t.

I was totally devastated by the news. I was very happy for the patients who had waited for months on end to receive heart transplants, but I was stricken in throbbing horror that Clyde was the only one who didn’t get a chance to receive a life-saving heart. Instead Clyde, the youngest of all of them, had died a few weeks earlier.

“If only, Lord, he could have lasted a few more weeks! Clyde would be smiling with everyone else in the transplant unit. If only, Lord, you could have allowed him to receive his heart. He would be here with us. He would be here. Lord, he was only 43 years old.”

I cried and cried, and before I knew what was happening, I lifted the lamp from the nightstand and threw it violently against the wall.

“It’s not fair! It’s not fair!” I said screaming. “Why Lord, why did You let him die? What are we going to do?”

I was alone and Alex Keith was at school. Thank God he didn’t see me this way. I was devastated. My beautiful love story, my Innisfree for life, had left me here.

“Tell everyone I’m happy for all of them,” I said as I said my goodbyes to her.

After that day I didn’t speak to them again until nine years later.

I was never the same after that day. Older patients had waited for a heart and received it. Clyde was the youngest patient in the transplant unit, and he didn’t get a new heart. His body was riddled with the amyloid tissue. I was deeply disturbed that my husband wasn’t one of them. It just wasn’t God’s will that Clyde would have another heart. It wasn’t God’s will for Clyde to live. As the afternoon turned into evening, darkness covered my heart in despair.

I became angry with Clyde because I felt he should have been able to hold on, even by a thread, so he could be with his family. He was a strong man. I remember him being so strong…so why didn’t he hang on? My anger dissipated because I knew deep down that Clyde held on as long as he could. And if it was God’s will for Clyde to recover from the debilitating effects of amyloidosis, he would have done so. I believed that without a shadow of a doubt.

But still my anguish kept returning, and it hovered over me as a dark, rain-soaked cloud. I began to retreat into the shadows of my pain. “Oh Lord, I failed him! I failed Clyde and it’s my fault. All my fault! Clyde, please forgive me!” I yelled out in pain.

I paused for a moment and longed to hear Clyde’s voice in my ears. I yanked myself from the bed and walked over to the other side of the bed to reach the telephone answering machine. Clyde’s voice was still on the answering machine, so I pressed the recording to hear his voice:

“Hello, this is the Slappey residence. We’re not at home right now. Please leave a message and we’ll get back with you. Have a nice day.”

His voice was very comforting. I pressed the answering machine again and again that afternoon:

“Hello, this is the Slappey residence. We’re not at home right now. Please leave a message and we’ll get back with you. Have a nice day.”

Calm descended upon my face as I listened to his voice. I began to feel a sense of peace as I felt his presence near. His voice calmed my soul. I felt at ease and began to smile. I started to remember our good times together. Clyde always had a tremble in his voice. I played the recording over and over, and after awhile I laid down across my bed, sensing his warmness close to me. I turned over, lay on my back, and drifted quietly off to sleep.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

TRAILER: Across Time: Mystery of the Great Sphinx


Across Time: Mystery of the Great Sphinx

O. J. Harp III

Sci-fi; Romance

1-59526-601-1 Paperback pp.268
1-59526-602-X Hardcover pp.268

Llumina Press

June, 2007

History is fascinating any way you slice it. When it's brought to life, with an enigmatic and magical twist, it's just that much more captivating. Across Time: Mystery of the Great Sphinx, bridges the ages, expertly pulling you into the diverse realms of the future as well as the distant past. The novel answers the question: What might happen if modern-day science decides to clone an ancient Egyptian Mummy? Both the young and the young in heart can sit back and become entranced with this exciting tale of love and adventure.

For more information visit: www.acrosstime.info

Check out the trailer: http://ojharp.com/buynow.shtml

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

TRAILER: Divorcing the Devil



Divorcing the Devil
by Dwan Abrams


Urban Books (April 29, 2008)

ISBN-10: 1601629605
ISBN-13: 978-1601629609

For Skyler Little, it's not easy being a psychoanalyst and a Christian. Sometimes it's hard not getting drawn into her patients' personal lives filled with adultery, abuse and turmoil. Yet, she remains steadfast in providing them with the best in Christian counseling. She even counsels her friend, Gabriella, who has just learned that her husband is cheating on her.

But when Skyler learns whom Gabriella's husband is cheating on her with, things start to spiral out of control, and she is now caught in the middle. Can Skyler get herself out of this situation, or can anyone be spared when you try to divorce the devil?


Check out the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPMwuyA_ibA

Monday, April 14, 2008

CHAPTER EXCERPT: Watercolored Pearls


Watercolored Pearls shares the story of three friends at different places in life, looking to God and each other for the keys to happiness. Serena is a former executive struggling with motherhood, Erika can't break ties with her once-abusive spouse, and Tawana's shameful past threatens to taint her future. Join these characters as they explore whether God can use their less-than-perfect circumstances to create something beautiful.

http://www.stacyhawkinsadams.com/


Watercolored Pearls

By Stacy Hawkins Adams

(An Excerpt – Chapter Two)

2

Erika Tyler Wilson stared at the unopened greeting card and debated her options. If she tore it up now, Aaron would be watching and want to know why. If she waited, she might actually be tempted to read the romantic musings scripted by the card manufacturer, as well as the handwritten message she knew Elliott had neatly penned—again.

She shifted in her seat and continued sorting through the mail while she waited for the pasta to cook.

Aaron sat across from her and colored a worksheet his preschool teacher had given him as homework. When she sighed heavily and picked up the card again, he looked up.

“What, Mommy?”

She laughed and tweaked his nose. “Why do you want to know, little man? Are you going to handle this for me?”

“Yes,” he said with a straight face. “Tell me so I can fix it.”

He had just turned four, but Erika regularly informed anyone who asked his age that he was going on forty. He was what her friend and surrogate mother Charlotte called an “old soul,” and Erika agreed—he was wise beyond his years.

“Nothing for you to worry about, sweetie,” Erika said. “Mommy’s just reading the mail. Finish your homework.”

She rose from the table and went to the stove to stir the marinara sauce in one pot and the pasta in another. She zoned in on the circular motions and tried not to be angry because of the letter. Every two weeks, she went through the same emotions.

Memories of the fear, the beatings, and the sickness of loving someone who hurt her rushed forth.

She thought about Naomi’s Nest, the shelter she had called home for nearly a year. Kodak-like images of that period flashed through her mind: the joy of giving birth to Aaron; the anguish of handing him over six weeks later for Serena and Micah to raise; interning at D. Haven Interior Designs to learn the craft from senior designer Gabrielle Donovan and the company’s owner, Derrick Haven. Falling in love with God for the first time. And eventually, with. . . .

Erika laid the wooden spoon on the stovetop and abruptly walked away. She returned to the kitchen table, still lost in her reflections. Aaron was so engrossed in coloring images that began with the letter Y that he didn’t notice.

“Look, Mommy! All done now and ready to eat!”

He gripped the paper, stood up on his chair, and leaned toward Erika to hand it over.

“Good job, Aaron,” she said and smiled. “Dinner will be ready in a few minutes.”

She grabbed him around the waist and lifted him across the table, into her arms. Erika hugged him tightly and planted a loud kiss on his soft cheek.

She sat back in the chair and smiled at her son. Despite the darkness of her days as Elliot Wilson’s wife, God had created something magnificent from the best of the both of them. Aaron had been graced with their similar honey complexions and thin frames; he was the perfect combination of both parents.

When he spent time with Elliott during supervised visits, no one doubted that the two were father and son. Yet put the boy next to Erika and there was the same effect—he looked just like his mom.

He was still young enough that the life that had been crafted for him was the only normal he knew. It made sense to Aaron that the bedroom he slept in every night used to be Aunt Serena’s when she was a girl, growing up in this North Richmond ranch-style house.

“Doesn’t everybody have someone like Aunt Serena and Uncle Micah?” he once asked Erika, when a friend at preschool told him he was moving into a new house his parents had built.

Erika snuggled with her son until he squirmed away.

“What’s in here, Mommy? A birthday card?”

He had noticed the pink envelope that bore Elliott’s Chesterfield County return address. Thank goodness he couldn’t read.

Before she could dream up an appropriate answer, the doorbell saved her. Erika walked to the living room and stood on her tiptoes to peer through the front door’s peephole.

Gabrielle was just in time for dinner. She opened the door and headed back toward the kitchen. “Had to work later than usual?”

“Yeah,” Gabrielle replied. “Had an evening meeting to finalize the papers for the Mitchell deal. The spaghetti smells good.”

Gabrielle lived two hours away, in Northern Virginia, where the main office of D. Haven Designs was located. When the interior design firm that also employed Erika opened a Richmond office two years ago, Gabrielle began traveling to the capital city twice a week.

Erika worked full-time in Richmond and insisted that Gabrielle stay in the extra bedroom of the house she was renting from Serena and Micah.

The arrangement worked well, for a number of reasons. Among them was that it meant she didn’t always have to do “Elliott watch” alone.

Gabrielle took her briefcase to the guest room and returned seconds later. She strolled to the kitchen sink and washed her hands with the antibacterial soap perched on the window ledge. When Aaron leapt from the table to find the tennis ball a neighbor had given him earlier that day, the stack of mail caught Gabrielle’s eye.

“Another card, huh? Wonder what he’s saying this time,” she said softly, mindful that Aaron would return in a few seconds.

Erika shrugged and set three plates on the table, including a miniature one, with an image of Scooby-Doo on it.

“I see him at church, serving as an usher. I know he provides free legal counsel on small cases for members who can’t afford representation.

“But I don’t trust him. He says he’s giving me space, but these cards keep coming,” Erika said. “Like clockwork. On the first and fifteenth of every month. The day of the month we met and the day of the month we married.”

Gabrielle shook her head and scanned the hallway for Aaron. “I hope you’re keeping them. For evidence.”

“Most of them, unless I get frustrated and rip them apart,” Erika laughed sheepishly. “That’s happened a few times.” She picked up the envelope and fingered it.

“Why not read it? I know I’ve heard it all before.”

She tore open the card and sighed at the cover: “‘If love had another name, it would be yours . . .’” Her eyes widened when she read the message inside.

“What?” Gabrielle asked.

“He says he’s found someone else. He wants a divorce.”

© Do not copy or reprint without permission from Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, April 11, 2008

CHAPTER: My Soul Cries Out


My Soul Cries Out

Monica Harris-Day’s perfect world begins a downward spiral the afternoon she comes home to find her husband in bed…with another man.

After confronting Kevin, her husband of two years, Monica discovers he’s had a lifelong struggle with homosexuality that began at the age of ten after he was molested by a deacon in the church. Their pastor offers them marital counseling, but Monica suspects he’s really concerned about maintaining his mega-church – it’s grown to 10,000 members since Kevin became the minister of music.

My Soul Cries Out is a compassionate look at Christians struggling with homosexuality and the redemptive power of God to bring deliverance.


The worst day of my life was the day I caught my husband cheating on me.

You know those movies where the wife forgets something important for work and comes home in the middle of the day to get it, only to find her husband in bed with her best friend?

I should have been so lucky.

I had forgotten my good Littman stethoscope and hated the flimsy plastic ones we kept at the nurses’ station. I didn’t know how any nurse could get a decent blood pressure with those things. Since I was home, I figured I might as well eat. I opened the fridge to get some leftover lasagna before going back to the office.

That’s when I heard it…the bumping.

Not a regular foot-shuffling bumping like someone walking around. This bumping had a rhythm to it. A beat.

I stepped into the dining room and stared at the ceiling. The noise came from the master bedroom, directly overhead. Women’s intuition rose from my belly to form a lump in my chest that ascended to my throat. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention.

I tried to reason away the knowing in my head. My husband, Kevin, usually spent the one Saturday a month I worked playing basketball or writing music. Yeah, that was it. He was pounding out the beat to a new song with his size 13 feet…in the bedroom, instead of his studio down the hall where he usually wrote music.

I tiptoed toward the steps, hardly able to breathe. Movie clips of guilty husbands and shocked wives flashed through my mind. Which one of my friends would it be? Or I bet it was Janine, the cutesy little soprano who sang all the leads in the church choir. During every rehearsal, she batted her eyelashes at Kevin and always needed him to stay after to help her get her solo right. I knew she was a skank ho.

I dragged my feet up the steps, fighting to lift them as I got closer to the top. I wasn’t sure of the protocol for such a situation. Did I throw the door open and cry, “Aha, I caught you!”? Did I knock on the door and wait for them to get dressed and come out and admit their crime?

Nothing in my life could have ever prepared me for what I saw when I swung the door open and sang out, “Honey, I’m home.”

Imagine my surprise when I realized that the she I thought she would be was actually… a he.

I had never fainted before, but then again, I had never caught my husband of two years cheating with the guy who was supposed to be his closest “friend.” They were close all right. Closer than two men should ever be.

When I opened my eyes after a few minutes of unconsciousness, they were both scrambling to pull on some clothes – eyes wide, mouths hanging open. I took a deep breath, made sure I didn’t have any life threatening injuries, jumped up and went to swinging.

“Wait, let me explain!” Kevin held up his arms to ward off my blows.

“Explain? What could you possibly explain? I’ve seen enough to know there’s no explanation you could possibly come up with that could begin to explain what I just saw.”

I searched the room for something to swing or throw. Why hurt my hands? I threw books, hangers, a lamp – one of those big floor ones – anything I could get my hands on. I caught Kevin right above the eye with my alarm clock. I felt triumphant when blood trickled down his cheek.

“And you, Trey! You smile in my face, eat dinner at my house, talk about how happy you are for us and how happy I make Kevin, but all the while you were scheming on how to steal my man.”

“It wasn’t like that, Monica, I promise. I –”

“Wasn’t like that?” I threw one of my high heel shoes, aiming for his eyeball. “Obviously it was, Trey.”

I stomped out of the room and disappeared down the steps. They probably thought I had gotten tired or come to my senses. I wasn’t anywhere near coming to my senses. I just remembered Kevin’s golf clubs in the front closet.

When I came back, the look in Kevin’s eyes said he regretted the day he ever became obsessed with being the next Tiger Woods. Trey screamed like a girl and ran out of the room when he saw the driving iron in my hand.

I made a wild swing at Kevin and hit the wall instead. Paint and drywall crumbled to the floor. While I was prying the club out of the wall, Kevin grabbed my arm and wrestled me to the floor.

“Monica, please, calm down and let’s talk about this like rational adults.”

“Calm down? Rational adults?” I unleashed a spray of curse words – strung them together like a pro. Kevin’s eyes widened. He had never heard me curse before. By the time he met me, I’d gotten delivered of the cussing demon I had picked up my freshman year of college.

I twisted a hand free and slapped his face. Hard. Twice.
He grabbed my hand again and tried to pin me down. He was forceful enough to stop my assault against him, but gentle enough not to hurt me.

“Monnie, please.” His eyes begged me. Those big, beautiful eyes I had fallen so deeply in love with. Seeing the tears forming in the corners of them took some of the fire out of me. I stopped struggling for a minute.

Kevin looked like he was trying to decide if I was faking him out or if he could trust me enough to loosen his grip. He stared, obviously not knowing what to say. What could he say?

I realized my dream life, my fantasy, had just fallen apart. I let out a wail. “Oh my Gaaaaaawwwwwddddd…”

“Monnie, I’m sorry. I –”

“You’re sorry all right. You sorry son of a…You mother-lovin’…” Forget it. It was too hard. I unleashed another spray of foul language, knowing no matter how much I cursed or how many times I hit him, I’d never be able to make him hurt as much as he had just made me hurt.

I sure could try, though.

He’d let his guard down, giving me perfect space and time to kick him in the groin. When he fell, I jumped up and kicked him in the side with all the force my leg could muster. I didn’t know such violence lived in me. I had to make myself calm down before I really hurt him. Even though he deserved it.

I paced around the bedroom. “Help me, Jesus. Help me not to kill him. Help me not to go down to the kitchen and get a knife and gut him. OhLawdJesus, help me. I want to take this golf club and beat him in the head ‘til his brains drip out his ears. Jesus, keep me. I need you, Lord, otherwise I’m gonna …” My eyes darted around the room, looking for other things I could murder my husband with.

Kevin stood up, holding his side, sheer terror in his eyes. He had only seen me this mad once before – the last time my mother caught my dad with one of his many women.

“Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus…” I called His name like I was on the tarrying bench, trying to get filled with the Holy Ghost. When Kevin heard me praying in tongues, he scrambled toward the door.

After I heard the front door slam, I screamed from somewhere deeper than I knew my soul went. What had just happened? How long had it been happening?

I started pacing again. I walked up and down the steps, into the kitchen, into the den, into Kevin’s music studio, back up the steps, into our bedroom, into the guest room, and into my exercise room I never used. Every time I tried to stop and sit, this wave of anger-bewilderment-shock-sadness-confusion-fear-insanity would come over me, and I’d have to walk again.

After about fifteen minutes of walking, cursing, and praying, I got tired. The initial adrenaline rush wore off and I remembered how out of shape I was. I looked at my watch. My half-hour lunch break was over and I was due back at work. I caught my breath and picked up the phone.

“Greater Washington Family Medicine, how may I help you?”

“Anthony, this is Monica. I need to talk to Dr. Stewart. Is she in with a patient?” I tried to keep my voice from doing that shaky thing it did when I cried.

“What’s wrong wit’ you, girl?”

“Not now, Anthony, just get her for me. Please.” I hoped the “please” would soften my snippiness. I wasn’t in the mood for Anthony to catch an attitude.

“Let me check. Hold on a sec’.”

I waited for a moment, trying to think of a way to explain why I wasn’t coming back to work. My brain was too fuzzy to come up with a good lie.

“This is Dr. Stewart.”

“Hey, it’s Monica. An emergency came up. I won’t be able to make it back this afternoon. I know Saturday’s are bad, but I just can’t make it back.”

“Oh dear, I hope everything is okay. Let me know if you need anything. See you Monday?”

“Oh yes, of course. Everything will be fine by then,” I lied.

I hung up the phone and went straight for the freezer to grab a pint of Tom & Larry’s ice cream. Chocolate Walnut Brownie Crunch. My favorite. I plunked down in the middle of the family room floor and stared at the walls, covered with pictures chronicling the last six years of my relationship with Kevin.

Tears fell as I looked at the beautiful black and white engagement picture of us staring into each other’s eyes. I should’ve known it was too good to be true. Kevin was every woman’s dream. He was the one man I knew who wasn’t afraid to share his feelings. He was my best friend. Closer than any of my girlfriends. I could tell him anything and he could tell me anything.

Or so I thought.

How could he have deceived me? This wasn’t something he just tried out. He’d known Trey since childhood. Trey Hunter turned up at our door six months ago after not having seen Kevin in years. Kevin introduced him as his high school friend. I guess high school sweetheart was more like it.

I should’ve known something wasn’t right when Trey first appeared. Trey was more effeminate than me, and I couldn’t think of any of the straight men I knew who were close friends with gay men. But something should have alerted me long before that. I racked my brain searching for clues I might have ignored.

Kevin and I met not too long after I finished college when I started visiting the church he attended. They had the best choir in the city and sang the latest contemporary music.

I joined Love and Faith Christian Center after attending a few Sundays. As soon as I finished my new members’ classes, I joined the choir. I had sung in the choir as long as I could remember. Never sang a solo, but I was one of those solid altos any director could count on to keep everyone else on key. Kevin was the minister of music and I was the section leader, we hung out after rehearsals to discuss songs or parts or whatever.

One night after practice, we went to IHOP and ended up talking until two in the morning. From then on we were inseparable. After that, we went out after every rehearsal and every church service. Sometimes with a big group from the choir, sometimes just us.

The end table held a picture of us and our choir clique at our favorite table at IHOP. Judging from the fatness of my cheeks, my all-black outfit, and the salad instead of pancakes on the table in front of me, I must have been on an upswing of my lifelong weight yo-yo. Kevin had this enamored look on his face and I had this look of total shock like, “he’s really with me?”

I scraped the bottom of the ice cream carton. Where did a whole pint go that quick? Good thing they had a two-for-one sale last week. Or maybe it wasn’t such a good thing. Forget it. This was no time to worry about my weight. I needed all the comfort Tom & Larry could offer right now.

I turned to stare at our wedding picture hanging over the fireplace mantle. Kevin was dashing in his tux. I looked at his mocha chocolate skin, tall muscular body, thick, curly hair, and heartbreaking smile.

Sistahs was hatin’ on me that day.

I had crash dieted to get into my size 12 wedding dress and looked good if I do say so myself. My classy Halle Berry haircut complimented my heart-shaped face. The dress was perfect for my hourglass figure. That was one thing I had going for me. Even at my largest, I was still well proportioned, and always had a waistline.

I knew some of my fellow choir sistahs were jealous and I felt good to be the one that caught the mysterious, elusive Kevin Day. He was charismatic as the minister of music – able to lead the whole church into the highest realms of praise and worship. But he seemed nervous when all the women fawned over him and vied for his attention.

That shoulda let me know something wasn’t straight. But then again, what would I know? Kevin was my first and only real love. The only man I ever had a serious relationship with. The only one I’d ever been intimate with. And now…

Help me understand this, God. Kevin is…gay?

Something in me snapped. I picked up a book and crashed it into the picture. I don’t know what broke it, the book or the high-pitched scream I let out as I threw it.

I began picking up pictures of me and Kevin from all over the den. The one from our honeymoon in Negril, I threw against the wall. I sent the last year’s Christmas picture hurling into our engagement picture hanging over the stairs. One by one, I destroyed the evidence of what I thought was our wonderful, God-ordained life together.

As I smashed each picture, my heart shattered with the glass. My throat was raw from screaming. I couldn’t stop though. I had to destroy everything that told the lie I now knew my marriage was.

My mind was spinning. Instinctively, I picked up the phone to call my best friend, Trina. Right after the speed dial finished, I hung up. What would I tell her? “Hey, girl, guess what? I just caught my husband with another man?” Too embarrassing.

I started pacing again. “Oh my God. Did that really just happen?” No matter how much I walked, I couldn’t escape it. “Okay, Monnie. Get yourself together.” I made myself stand still and take ten deep breaths.

The phone rang. Without thinking, I answered it. “Hello?”

“Did you just call me?”

“Trina…I…yeah, it was…I dialed by accident.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” I tried to clear my throat and sound normal.

“Monica, stop lying. What’s wrong? You sound like you been crying.”

I didn’t say anything, knowing my voice would betray me.

“Monica?”

Why did I answer the phone? I could have played this off to anyone else but Trina. I choked on the lump in my throat and started crying again.

“I’ll be right there.”

“No! Don’t come over. I’m fine –” Too late. She’d already hung up the phone.

I looked around at the mess. Trina lived only about fifteen minutes away. I knew she’d be speeding to get to me. I grabbed a broom and swept the glass into a pile.

I cut my finger on a long, thin shard. “Ouch!” Blood trickled down my arm. I ran to the bathroom before it dripped onto my plush, off-white carpet.

I ran water over my finger until its red tinge ran clear, then wrapped it in toilet paper. That would have to do for now. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were puffy, nose red and my short bob was flying everywhere. I looked like a crazy woman.

The doorbell rang. I splashed my face with cold water, blew my nose and tried to smooth my hair down. The doorbell rang again

“I’m coming, doggone it!”

My feeble attempt at fixing my face was lost on Trina. When I opened the door, she gasped. “Oh my God, what happened to you?”

The look of concern on her face was too much for me. I burst into tears again.

“Monnie, what is it?” Trina led me into the family room and sat me down on the couch. She stared at the broken glass, picture frames and picture fragments. “What happened in here? Did you and Kevin get in a fight?”

I nodded, still crying.

She must have noticed the blood soaking through the tissue on my finger. “Oh my God. What did he do to you? Did Kevin hurt you?”

I shook my head, still crying.

“What happened?” Trina got up and walked into the kitchen. I could hear her rummaging through the cabinets while running water. She came back with a wet dishtowel and a glass of water. She unwrapped my finger and wrapped it in the wet cloth and gave me the water to drink. She went to the bathroom and came back with a roll of toilet paper and handed me a wad to wipe my face. She rubbed my back and waited for me to stop crying.

I finally looked up at her. “I…Kevin… I…” I shook my head and took a deep breath. I rolled off some more tissue and blew my nose. I looked at the floor.

“Monnie, this is me, your girl. Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

I had to just spit it out. “I walked in on Kevin and Trey this afternoon.”

“What do you mean?”

“I walked in on them in my bed.”

Trina’s eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean?”

“What do you mean what do I mean? I walked in on my husband…” I sucked in a deep breath, “…having sex with another man.”

Her mouth flew open and her eyes bugged out. “What do you mean?”

“Trina, I can’t say it any clearer than that. Unless you want the graphic version.”

She held up her hand as if to say “no thank you.” She stood up and began pacing the den. Every few seconds, she would turn back to me with her mouth wide open, her eyes asking if I said what she thought I said. Each time she did, I nodded. She’d open her mouth like she was about to say something then close it, then open it again and close it, until finally she put her hands on her hips. “What do you mean?”

I rolled my eyes. “Should I say it in French?”

“Sorry, but you gotta give me a minute with this one.” She frowned as if she was trying to solve the most difficult Calculus problem. “So you’re telling me Kevin was…he and Trey were…Kevin is…oh, my…”

I started crying again. Her saying it – or not being able to say it – seemed to make it more real.

Trina pulled herself out of her stupor and came over to hug me. “Oh, Monnie, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to–”

“I’m not asking you to fix this, Trina. You don’t have to say anything. Just…help me not to lose it.” I sobbed in her arms. “You coulda never told me Kevin was…I never expected…”

“Shhh, I know. Me either. He doesn’t seem…I mean nothing about him is…” Trina shook her head and grimaced as if an image just registered in her brain. “Oh, boy, this is…”

We both sat there shaking our heads for a few minutes.

She chuckled. “So you kicked his tail, huh?”

Leave it to Trina to make me laugh at a time like this. “Girl, I had to call on the Lord to keep from killing both of them. I lost control.”

“Y’all was tearing up the den?”

“No, the bedroom. I did all this after they left.”

“Umm.” She looked around at the mess again. “Remind me to never get you mad.” We both laughed, then I started to cry.

“Oh, Monnie. I’m sorry, girl.” She held me until I stopped crying. “Come on. Let’s pack you a bag. You’re going with me.”

I looked the around room. “What about this?”

“Let him clean it up. That is, if he’s stupid enough to come back.”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

TRAILER: When A Man Loves A Woman


WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN

by LaConnie Taylor-Jones

Publisher: Genesis Press

ISBN: ISBN-10: 1585712744
ISBN-13: 978-1585712748

Website address: http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/

Where can it be purchased from: All major books stores and on-line at: Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles.com, CushCity.com, Mosaic.com, to name a few

Nursing administrator Victoria Bennett has soured on love. She has sworn off men; they bring too much drama and too much pain into her life. That is, until she meets pediatrician A.J. Baptiste, a single parent who is determined to woo her. A.J. will stop at nothing to have her, and Victoria finds her resolve put to the test...but is this a fight she really wants to win?

Check out the trailer: http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/media/wmlw.swf

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

NEW AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Leah Starr Baker


The Bunko Babes: A Novel

Leah Starr Baker


Publisher: Emerald Pointe Books
Contemporary Fiction


Drawing from the frantic reality of a woman’s daily life – cooking breakfast, clothing an army, running errands, forgetting the dry cleaning – and from a host of deeper struggles, like infertility and divorce, The Bunko Babes offers readers a cast of loveable friends: friends whose troubles certainly aren’t getting in the way of weekly bunko. Likened to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Bunko Babes follows the lives of eight women who rely on each other for strength and support.


Drawing from the frantic reality of a woman’s daily life – cooking breakfast, clothing an army, running errands, forgetting the dry cleaning – and from a host of deeper struggles, like infertility and divorce, The Bunko Babes offers readers a cast of loveable friends – friends whose troubles certainly aren’t getting in the way of their weekly bunko game.

“I have fallen in love with each of these women, and by the end of the novel, I was sad to let them go,” says Baker. While the “Bunko Babes” are far from perfect, they are survivors, much like Leah herself. “The Bunko Babes chose me I guess you could say, not the other way around,” says Baker. “And I hope the main message that readers take away from the book is that nothing and no one is perfect. Life is not perfect and better yet, God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He just wants us to be real,” she says.

Though Baker’s various career paths have included everything from stay-at-home mom to country music recording artist, she admits that she never sought out writing as a profession until recently. Her knack for storytelling, however, does appear to be a family trait: the daughter of pastor and author, Richard Exley, (Alabaster Cross and Encounters with Christ), Baker recalls watching her father burn the midnight oil preparing sermons for his congregation. “As a child, I remember my father sitting at his desk, kerosene lamp at his shoulder, preparing his Sunday sermon and me across the room watching, absorbing,” says Baker.

Combined with the colorful cast of real characters in her life – “a compilation of the many amazing women who have touched my life throughout the years,” she notes – Baker had all the tools necessary to explore female friendships in a work that has been likened to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

“I write as if I am sitting on the couch, sharing a cup of coffee, and chatting it up with one of my girlfriends,” says Baker. “I like to think of the reader as a participant in the story, instead of an observer.”

Along with her two children and husband, LEAH STARR BAKER currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When she is not writing, she is a volunteer for Jenks Public Schools. For more information, please visit http://thebunkobabes.biz/

Monday, April 7, 2008

BOOK INTRO: Nights of Desire


Nights of Desire

Nine years after the death of her fiancĂ©, afraid she will never love again, Temple Marshall’s plan to carefully choose a stranger to father her child is upset when the morning after the annual office party she wakes naked in her boss's bed.

Layton Grayhawk has been impatiently waiting until time and circumstances finally contrive to land the woman of his fantasies just where he wants her — in his arms and bed. Just as things finally seem on track for him to claim her as his own, she reveals her plans — plans that threaten to tear the two apart.


http://www.marilynlee.org/

Thursday, April 3, 2008

TRAILER: I Stand Accused


I Stand Accused
By Monica Frazier Anderson

Successful, sexy and celibate Dr. James Adams has bizarre nightmares about the murder of his father years ago. When his troubled past threatens his future—with the only woman he’s ever loved, he embarks on a life-changing journey. He must learn what really happened the day his daddy died.

Website: www.drmoeanderson.com
CLICK VIEW ALL IMAGES to see the slide show trailer

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

EXCERPT: Sweeter Than Revenge


Sweeter Than Revenge
by Ann Christopher

Newly-minted millionaire David Hunt has come back to get revenge on pampered princess Maria Johnson, the beautiful woman who broke his heart years ago. Too bad he doesn’t know he’s about to fall more in love with her than ever …




Getting back on her unsteady feet, she watched him come closer and wondered how she could possibly survive this encounter with the man who’d loved and left her. Well, left her, anyway.

He’d changed—she saw that right away. Once he merely walked, but now he prowled with supreme confidence, owning the ground and the world around him the way Chris Rock owns the stage during one of his concerts. He’d thinned down and muscled up, too; the slight breeze pressed his short-sleeved blue silk shirt against a torso that had not one ounce of body fat on it. The height, the wide shoulders, the narrow waist and the endless long legs—none of that had changed, of course. But flecks of gray dotted the wavy black hair at his temples now.

And his face. That was different.

Not the laughing brown eyes or the clean-shaven deep chocolate skin. His cheekbones—that was it. Before they’d just been high, but now they were sharp and arrogant. So were the heavy quirked brows and the long straight nose. Faint, interesting wrinkles bracketed his mouth and lined his eyes, giving him a wiser, more mature air. He looked amused and cynical now, as though the whole world was a joke. As though he’d seen and done it all, and didn’t know what she—or anyone—could possibly say to interest him.

He stopped in front of her, staring openly. His cool, assessing gaze slid up over her mostly nude body, touching her legs and arms, lingering on her hips and breasts.

Her face burned but she held still, trying not to fidget under this inspection. Modesty was a worthless virtue, and one she’d never possessed. Hard work in the yoga studio and at the gym kept her body fabulous, and she knew it. But now her near-nakedness made her feel exposed and vulnerable, as if she needed to grab her towel and cover herself.

Why did she feel this way? David Hunt knew her body better than anyone else on the planet, including, probably, her. There was not one inch of skin, curve, hollow or hair follicle with which he was not intimately familiar. But of course that was the old David Hunt who’d loved her body.

This David Hunt was a stranger.

Finally he looked her in the eye. One brow arched skyward and one corner of his mouth inched up in a disquieting half-smile.

“Hello, Maria.”

The syllables pulsed through the air, slid under her skin and pooled into a painful mass of loss and longing low in her belly. If she’d thought—hoped—he was a figment of her overwrought nerves, she now knew better. That low, deep voice—as thrilling as helicopter skiing and as smooth as black velvet—couldn’t belong to anyone other than David Hunt.

“You came back,” she said unnecessarily, an unfamiliar, Marilyn Monroe breathiness in her voice.

Her father tutted before David could answer, stepping forward to press a light hand to the small of her back. “Now, Sugar. Is that any way to treat an old friend? Besides. I told you. He’s the new director.”

Maria and David stared at each other, neither of them blinking or acknowledging that Ellis had just spoken. The world shrank down to the two of them, to the intensity in David’s eyes, and the leashed tension that pulsed between them.

“Didn’t I tell you I’d come back?” David asked her in a low, silky voice.

Maria shivered, wondering what to make of his tone. He sounded as if he wanted to rip the bikini from her body and enter her now—hard, fast and furious. He also sounded vaguely threatening, as if he wanted to rip her body limb from limb, to punish her, to humiliate.

God, what was he doing? Why was he here?

“Yeah, you told me you’d come back,” she said, keeping her voice steady even though it wanted to quaver. “I just didn’t think it’d take four years.”

With that, she turned, sat on her lounge chair, stretched her legs out and tried to pretend he wasn’t there while watching him from under her eyelashes. During the silence that followed, Ellis shuffled on his feet and brought his hand to his mouth to cover his uncomfortable cough. David’s jaw tightened, but he managed to look supremely unconcerned, although his gaze flickered over her body again. Maria prayed for the strength to remain detached, and for the hot tears that burned her eyes to wait until later, when she was alone, before they fell.

Ellis cleared his throat. “Well, David,” he began, “why don’t we go in and—”

“Where have you been?” Maria asked David.

She regretted the foolish words even before she got to the question mark at the end of her sentence. Where was her pride? Why couldn’t she keep her big mouth shut? She would not give this man a reason—another reason—to laugh at her, nor would she act like she cared one iota about where he’d been or what he’d done. No, she would not.

David turned to her, his expression amused and vaguely reproachful for her rudeness. In a gesture of consummate indifference, he slid his hands into his pants pockets, leaned against one of the pergola posts and crossed his ankles.

“Oh … here and there.”

“‘Here and there?’” she cried. “Is that near Duluth?”

The men laughed at her, which only fueled her anger. The ancient scar over her heart, a memento of her affair with David, began to ache with renewed pain. So much for acting cool and aloof; she couldn’t even manage it for five lousy seconds.

Why was he here? To finish her off for good? What right did he have to show up, unannounced, back in her life? To look and sound so good and act bored when he hadn’t laid eyes on her for four years? Didn’t he have anything to say to her?

David turned to Ellis. “Can you give us a minute? I’d like to talk to Maria.”

“Sure.” Her father clapped him on the shoulder and favored him with the kind of loving smile he normally reserved for her. “It’s good to have you back, Son.”

Maria wanted to scream.

David nodded, looking unaccountably touched. They shook hands and pulled each other into one of those gruff male hugs. Finally her father extracted himself. “Come inside when you’re finished. Miss Beverly’s fixing up salmon salads for lunch and then we’ll head on down to the office and I’ll introduce you around.”

Ellis strode off toward the house, his step so springy Maria wondered if he wouldn’t break into the kind of triumphant dance receivers did in the end zone after a touchdown. She wished she could call him back so she would have some buffer, some layer of protection, no matter how thin, between herself and the man who could still tear her to pieces with just a look. She wasn’t safe alone with David.

David stared down at her for a long, considering moment, igniting every inch of her bare skin with a heat that should have given her third degree burns. Her poor heart hammered so strongly against her chest she was amazed it didn’t bulge out like one of those horrible incubating creatures in Alien. More embarrassing were her heaving breasts, the result of her heroic struggle for breath in this man’s presence, and pointed, painful nipples.

The agony threatened to undo her. How could she do this? How could she talk to this man who’d killed her dreams and still owned her body?

Ignoring the numerous other loungers, chairs, benches and assorted seating devices available, David sat on her lounger, his butt brushing her thigh. Facing her, he rested one hand on the other side of her legs and caged her. One muscular forearm brushed her skin, branding her with his warmth.

At this distance, the intoxicating, familiar smell of his cologne—one of those fresh, clean, linen scents that she remembered so well and that immediately shifted her mind to sheets and beds—filled her nostrils and made wet heat flow between her thighs. She waited, frozen. Her pride wouldn’t let her rub her leg against him or shrink away, both of which she wanted to do.

He leaned closer. “Take your glasses off, Ree-Ree.”

“No.” The use of his nickname for her was an unbearably low blow, and the knot in her belly tightened. “And don’t call me that.”

He made an irritated noise, snatched the glasses off her nose, and tossed them onto the table out of reach. She cried out with surprise. Blinking from the sudden infusion of bright light, she stared defiantly.

Their gazes held for what felt like a millennium. Finally one side of his mouth turned up. “You look good.”

Her mouth opened to say something cool and disdainful, but what came out was, “So do you.”

A new, soft light appeared and immediately disappeared behind his eyes, and then his jaw flexed with some dark emotion she’d never be able to identify. Turning, he looked out across the pool.

“So,” he said in a mocking, infuriating tone. “How’s married life treating you?”

“Much better since the divorce.”

His gaze, sharp and narrowed, swung back to her. “Find someone richer already, did you?”

“No. He found someone with a warmer bed than mine,” she told him, having long since gotten over the humiliation of her husband’s defection.

That glittering, insolent stare drifted down to her breasts again, then back up. “No one’s bed’s warmer than yours, Ree-Ree,” he said softly.

She gasped even as desire—powerful, hot and wet—pulsed through her core. She wondered if he had the faintest idea of what his presence still did to her, or if he could smell her arousal through the tiny scrap of thin nylon that stood between them.

Pulling away with no particular hurry, he stood and resumed his leaning stance against the pergola. “I assume you made him pay for the affair.”

“Oh, I made him pay.”

“Good.” He laughed.

When his amusement faded away, they stared at each other in a silence that seemed to throb with energy and meaning. Thinking was a struggle, and speaking was worse. Still, she wanted to tell him something she’d never had the chance to say.

“I heard your father died last year,” she said softly. “I was sorry to hear that. I … always wanted to meet him.”

He blinked. Once, twice … and then he turned his head to look off toward the rose garden. When he turned back, he swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing in the strong column of his throat, and seemed unable to speak.

Maria felt terrible; the last thing she’d intended to do was upset him about his father. She waited helplessly for him to recover and say something, but he didn’t. “I’m sorry,” she began. “I didn’t mean—”

“No,” he said, his voice strong. “It’s okay. Thanks.”

Recovering a little, her curiosity got the best of her. “Where have you been?” she asked for the third time. “And don’t say here and there unless you want me to shove you into the pool with your clothes on.”

He laughed again. “Seattle.”

“Are you … married?” she asked, forcing the word out like a woman birthing a twelve-pound baby.

“No.”

“Divorced?”

“No.”

“Kids?”

“No.” One eyebrow arced toward his hairline. “And my last physical and credit report were fine, before you ask. Or maybe you’d like to see the files … ?”

“Did you bring them with you?”

Throwing his head back, he laughed the roaring laugh she remembered so well, devastating her. Not until this very second had she realized how much she missed the sound. Missed him. The empty place inside her, where he’d been, grew into an abyss.

“Where are you staying?” she asked, just to make sure he really would be nearby where she could find him if he disappeared again.

“Here.”

“Here? Where?”

“I assume in one of the fifteen bedrooms in this castle. Don’t worry. It’s just for a little while until my house is finished.”

“House?”

“I’m coming back to stay. So I’m having a house built. It’s almost done.”

“Oh,” she said, grappling with the idea that he really was back and she really would have to deal with him whether she was ready to or not.

“You don’t seem too happy to see me, Maria.”

To her utter disbelief, his eyes flashed as if he was the wronged party, as if she was the one who’d hurt him. They stared at each other in a seething silence while she tried—and failed—to understand him.

The breeze blew across the pool, ruffling her hair but doing nothing to cool her hot cheeks. From far away in the front yard came the roar of the gardener starting the lawn mower. Overhead, blue jays squawked at each other, battling for turf in the huge oak.

Suddenly she couldn’t stand it anymore—not the tension or the confusion, and definitely not the uncertainty.

“Why are you here?” she cried, jumping to her feet. The need for answers outweighed every other consideration, including the need to protect her pride and ego. “Didn’t you do enough damage the last time you came to town?”

He blinked innocently, as if he didn’t know what in the world she was talking about. But he did know; she could tell because she felt a tremendous new energy from him, a surge that felt like satisfaction.

“Damage?” he asked. “What damage?”

“To my heart.”

“You have a heart?”

“Yes! And you broke it!”

Shrugging, he slid his hands into his pockets and watched her through flat eyes that were also somehow feral and malevolent. “Ah, but luckily you landed on your feet, didn’t you, Maria?” he asked, sidling closer. “You got over our little affair in no time flat. Wedding of the year, a rich husband. So it was all for the best, wasn’t it?”

To her horror, a dry sob erupted from her mouth before she could stop it. He stilled, studying her as though she was some vaguely interesting oddity, like a two-headed turtle at the zoo. Though the answer was painfully obvious, she had to ask the question.

“Did I ever mean anything to you?”

He growled. Actually bared his teeth in a nasty sneer and snarled at her like a rabid pit bull in the millisecond before the attack. One of his arms lashed out and his strong, hard fingers clamped down around her bicep and formed a hot manacle, hurting and binding her.

“I could ask you the same question, couldn’t I, Maria?”

Terror paralyzed her, but only for a second. Then her anger took over. She had no idea what was running through his mind, or what right he thought he had to be upset with her, but she certainly wasn’t going to stand there and let him manhandle her.

“Let go of me. Now.”

He did, jerking his hand away as if contact with her flesh tainted him. They glared at each other, their mutual hostility as dense and noxious as the ash from an erupting volcano. After sucking in a deep breath or two through his flaring nostrils, he seemed to calm down a little.

“Is there anything you want to tell me? About your wedding?” he demanded.

His arrogance and gall were absolutely mind-boggling, and she had no intention of putting up with them. “No.”

There was a long pause, as though he wanted to give her time to rethink or amend her answer, and then, when she didn’t, he snorted. “Right.”

“This is a terrible idea. I don’t want to work for you, and I don’t want you living here.”

Genuine amusement lit up his eyes, but he didn’t smile. “Thanks for the update. But guess what? You don’t get a vote.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“I decided to move back home to Cincinnati. I made a few calls, and lo and behold, Ellis wanted to cut back on his hours and asked me to take over as director. So here I am. End of story.”

“But why did you decide to move back?”

“I have unfinished business here.”

From the book Sweeter Than Revenge, Harlequin/Kimani Press, January, 2008

ISBN: 037386051X
ISBN-13: 9780373860517

Copyright 2008 by Sally Young Moore

® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.

The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

For more information, go to http://www.eHarlequin.com

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