Monday, November 30, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

DO WAH DIDDY ME
An Erotic Time Travel Romance
by Linda Mooney writing as Carolyn Gregg

It all began when she found the silver charm bracelet.

As a realtor, Geraldine "Geri" Jones has been trying for years to get the property off her hands. Back in the 50s, it had been called Mabelling's, one of the first drive-in soda and burger joints in the state. But after a calamity destroyed the place and took many lives, the remaining structure had fallen into ruin.

It was while showing the location to a prospective buyer that she finds the bracelet buried between the cracks in the blackened floor tiles. What she doesn't expect is for the bracelet to transport her back to 1959. Back to the diner when it was in its heydey. There she meets Roddy "Hot Rod" Carvelle, with his tight jeans, tighter white T-shirt, and slicked back hair. A man twelve years her junior, who gives her the thrill of her life in the backseat of his baby blue Bel Air.

But the anniversary of the catastrophe that destroyed Mabelling's is fast approaching, and Geri is determined to save Roddy from his final destiny. What she doesn't realize is that she and Rodney could become two more victims of the disastrous event.



Sunday, November 29, 2015

Finding My Smile

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
2015 has been a rough year. The previous year, my dad had a stroke, and we spent nearly a year taking care of him and hoping he’d get better. This year, we said goodbye to him. Having never before lost anyone close to me, let alone a parent, it rattled me pretty hard. It's easy to wallow in the hard stuff, especially with the holidays here, and somewhere along the way, I'd lost my smile. I’ve had to take stock of my year and try to refocus on the good things that happened instead.

Not only did I find a lot of good in my year, thanks to modern technology, my phone kept a photographic record to remind me. Let me show you.

In January, I published my short-story collection, Transmonstrified. In March, Phoenix in My Fortune, the final book in my Monster Haven series, came out. And in July, Unfinished Muse, book one in my new Mt. Olympus Employment Agency series, released. Book two, Unamused Muse will be out before the year is over. I wanted to do more, but I've learned where my limits were, at least while dealing with grief. Still, I'm really pleased with how much I managed to get done. Four releases in a year means I'm finally getting the hang of this. But work isn't the only good that happened this year.

I love going on adventures, and this year, that was how I coped. Adventures can be grand and planned out, or they can happen in the quiet moments when you're feeling your lowest. You just have to be open to them. Here are some of mine for the year:




 One afternoon I took a long drive to clear my head. I came around a corner and found a herd of reindeer in an enclosure. Since then, I've visited them several times and come to realize they're probably just regular deer, but in my head, I found magic reindeer. No matter what they are, they were beautiful and unexpected.


My husband and I went on a drive-through safari. This zebra looked up from his grazing, made a beeline for me, and stuck his head in the car for me to scratch. He stayed a long time, even though we weren't feeding him. It was magic.


Mother's Day this year was all about dinosaurs. Because I love dinosaurs and my family loves me. My daughter made me this T-Rex pancake, because when your children grow up, they can do loads of cool stuff for you. 


I was a guest at Kansas City's SFF convention, ConQuesT. I was on several panels, met new people, drank a lot with my friends, and pretended that George R.R. Martin was too shy to approach me in the bar. Bless his heart. I am intimidating.


We went to a Huey Lewis/Jimmy Buffett concert. My first. It was spectacular.


Went to the drive-in for the 4th of July. Best non-Disney fireworks I've seen, plus a double feature afterward. In jammies. With snacks. You can't beat that.


We spent the night in one of the most haunted rooms in the Stanley Hotel. Though we failed to see or hear anything supernatural, we did freak ourselves out. There was also a weird moment where the front desk guy came to our room because he thought I wanted corn. I did not. But the question was--if he thought I wanted corn, why didn't he have any corn to give me?


I went to Denver to hang out with my best friend since third grade. We went to a butterfly garden, tried on squid hats, and went to the Celestial Seasonings factory. The factory was already closed, but we drank tea samples and spent money on tea-related goods. The next day we all went to the museum and saw dinosaurs. Did I mention I love dinosaurs?



Not exactly an adventure, but I bought a new car. (My daughter was using my old one, which left me stuck at home all day, every day. So, I needed a car for adventures. And sanity.) She's purple in the sunlight. I named her Iris in honor of a certain skunk ape from Monster Haven. 



We went to the Oztoberfest and watched the Oz shenanigans while eating lunch from a food truck. Then we tasted many different wines from the Oz Winery and bought several bottles. Lest you should think the Oz winery was a spontaneous side trip, you should know the bartender recognized us from several earlier trips, despite the unusually heavy crowd. Oz wine is special. It comes from the other side of the rainbow.


A lot of other things happened this year. Two of my dearest friends were married. My daughter started college. My son moved out, but started coming home most days to have lunch with me. My friends showered me with love and support. My readers were enthusiastic and patient. My brother and I grew closer through all the difficulties we shared. And as always, my husband stayed by my side no matter how grouchy, sad, or introverted I became.

So here we are, nearly at the end of the year. Not a bad year after all, was it? I looked for the good, and I found it. And in the end, I remembered where I left my smile.  I hope your year has been filled with more good than bad. And I hope you never lose your smile.


Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.


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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Top 10 Reasons Why Shifters Are the New Black

Posted by: Marie Harte
I love shapeshifters. Vampires used to be the most popular paranormal beast out there, but then the shifters took over. And for good reason. Here's my top ten list for why shifters deserve to be number one beast on the block:
  1. FIDELITY: There's nothing more romantic than a shifter who, once mated, can't stray. 
  2. DESTINY: Fated mates. Takes away all the difficulties with trying to find that special one.
  3. ALPHA MALES: Who doesn't love a beast in the bedroom? And someone who can kick major butt when the need arises.
  4. SENSITIVITY: Nothing like those enhanced senses to make kissing even better.
  5. NEVER DIET AGAIN: Shifter metabolism rocks. You'll never have to diet again.
  6. SUNLIGHT: Unlike vampires, shifters can handle the sun no problem. 
  7. HOWLING: And hand-in-hand with sunlight, moonlight makes them howl and brings on the beast.
  8. SUPER STRENGTH: Never lift weights again. Automatic increase in muscle mass once you turn furry.
  9. LONGEVITY: Seems like lycanthropes live longer than normal people. At least, that's what my Uncle Harry tells me. Ha. (Okay that was bad, I admit it.)
  10. FAMILY: There's something satisfying about a pack. Safety, family, built-in togetherness. What's not to like?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and try not to turn too beast-like during these hellacious shopping days.

Marie
website | blog | facebook
follow me on twitter @MHarte_Author
NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Top Four New (to me) Series of 2015

Posted by: Nicole Luiken


1/ Gini Koch’s Katherine “Kitty” Katt series. (SF) I read book one Touched by an Alien in February. I immediately needed book two. I caught up with the latest book in the 11-books-and-counting series by June and am looking forward to book 12, Alien in Chief, coming out in December.




 


2/ Brent Week’s Lightbringer series. (epic fantasy) Book one: The Black Prism. Even more amazing than his Night Angel trilogy. Love the light-and-color-based magic. Love the characters. High action and man, oh man, some of the plot twists! Am dying to find out what happens next. I’m lobbying to convince my husband and son to start reading the series so I can justify buying book four in hardcover when it comes out.



3/ Diana Pharaoh Francis’s Diamond City series. (urban fantasy) Book one: Trace of Magic. Every bit as good as the author’s Horngate Witches series. Cool magic, lots of action and peril and some steamy romance scenes, too. Two books out so far.


4/ Carol Berg's Sanctuary Duet. (fantasy) Book one: Dust and Light. I'm super excited for the release of book two Ash and Silver to come out in December. I love Carol Berg’s world-building, and she's very good at putting her characters in tough places.



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

Posted by: Janni Nell
When I was considering a topic for this post, I realised that it's almost Thanksgiving in the U.S. and that got me thinking...

Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated in Australia, but there are plenty of reasons we should give it a go. I mean, what’s not to like about having time off work and totally pigging-out on turkey with all the trimmings. Of course, it’s hot in Australia at this time of year, so I’ve thought about what Thanksgiving might be like Down Under.

The Venue: Outdoors. Maybe a picnic. Definitely near water—a beach or river, the harbour or just a backyard swimming pool.

The Dress: T-shirt, shorts, thongs (flip-flops), or a light summer dress and sandals. (Don’t forget the hat, swimmers and sunscreen.)

The Food:  BBQ bush turkey with chilled cranberry and avocado salsa, sweet potato and bush tomato salad, green bean and macadamia nut salad, pumpkin scones.

Dessert: fruit salad with pumpkin seeds, pecan ice cream, pumpkin and apple pavlova.

The Drinks: pumpkin beer, apple cider, cranberry wine.



The People: It’s all about family. Doesn’t matter whether they’re blood relations, or randoms who have come together just because they like each other.

The Sentiment: I figure that’s the same wherever you come from. Taking time to give thanks for what you have—whether it’s a lot or a little—sharing time with family and friends.

So, here’s what I’m thankful for:
Family
Friends
Good food and wine
Sunshine
Line dancing
The time to write stories
And the freedom to self-publish.

What are you thankful for?







Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Looking for Holiday-Themed Spec Fic Romance Recs!

Posted by: Jenn Burke
One of my all-time favourite
holiday romances.
It's that time of year again...when romance readers scoop up all sorts of holiday-themed books. There are some fantastic ones out there. One of my favourites (which I just re-read) is Amy Lane's Christmas Kitsch, a story about a college kid who might not be the brightest star in the sky when it comes to academics, but he's got an amazing heart and soul. When he kisses his best friend/new boyfriend at Thanksgiving, he's thrown out by his parents and needs to define a life for himself. I highly recommend it.

But...it's a contemporary romance. I find most holiday-themed romances are. And don't get me wrong...I love contemporary romance. Spec fic romance, however—sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal—is my favourite.

So, any suggestions for this holiday-loving spec fic romance reader? I love romance of all sorts, but I'm particularly interested in LGBTQIA romance these days.

I know Indra Vaughn has a new book out called Winter Spirit, all about a lonely B&B owner and his cupid-like, matchmaking ghost. Looks fun!

Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton (out soon!) also looks great, with a twist on the Christmas ghost theme.

Go ahead and list your favourite holiday romances! I know I asked for spec fic ones, and I'll love you forever if you have a few for me to add to my ever-expanding to-be-read list, but feel free to suggest anything—contemporary and het romance included!

Happy Thanksgiving (week) to my American friends. I hope you'll find some books on this list to enjoy after the turkey's done!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

Cover reveal!





The much-awaited third book in the award-winning Ravensblood series is coming in February!  

The reformed dark mage Corwyn Ravenscroft, Raven, has finally found his place in the world. He has a fiancé, friends, and meaningful work. Yet a shadow hangs over everything. His former master, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time, the man he betrayed, the man he thought he had killed, still lives. William is determined to destroy everyone and everything Raven ever loved.
Will Raven find a way to defeat him, once and for all? Or will he see the life he has built crumble around him as William rises once again to threaten the Three Communities, perhaps even the world?

www.Shawna-Reppert.com



Jeffe Kennedy is participating in the Worldbuilders 2015 Fundraiser for Heifer International, sponsored by Patrick Rothfuss. The high bidders can win a manuscript critique and genre analysis from her, or she'll name a character after the high bidder in her next Twelve Kingdoms book, THE EDGE OF THE BLADE. Lots of other great stuff to bid on, too!

OTHER NEWS:
We're thrilled to report the Here Be Magic box set charted as an Amazon best seller in its first week! Thank you to all the readers and we hope you're enjoying the stories!

Available at ebook retailers.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Food. Glorious Food!

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
Food is so important in storytelling. Who else remembers the orphanage food scene in "Oliver"?
Food sets the scene in so many ways. It employs the senses - taste and smell. How it looks, the crunch of it, the slurp of a villain - it adds both to characters and setting. Personality is revealed in the foods we enjoy and share. A sense of where we are is established by the food we eat.

My books tend to feature food. Not to the extent some books do, where they actually share recipes in the back pages, but I do like to imagine my characters eating. Interesting discussions happen over a meal.

If you write fantasy or historical fiction, or are simply interested in history, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista Ball is good reading.

I love imagining great restaurant food. It's an excuse to check out menus online, and then, inspired, make up my own perfect meal - without messy cleaning up or the frankly impossible price.

I also share food ideas from my own life. If my characters are in a rush, I try to think what I'd cook in such situations.

It's interesting to read contemporary novels from different eras and see how eating trends shift. Stirfries, pasta, pizza, bbq, all have their time, and then, become dated. Have you ever read a novel where the character uses a pressure cooker? It's so 1950s. Food is a subtle way to position a novel in time.

Last, but not least, food is sensual. In a romance novel, as the characters dance towards intimacy, food can play a major role. It is sharing, indulgence and celebration.

I guess I'd better wind up the post with a recipe, except ... I really don't feel like cooking, today. Nope, not even fictionally.

Anyone want a donut? And while you contemplate that sugary-overload, do you have a book you love for its food?



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Building Characters: Finding My Inspirational Mojo

Posted by: Danube Adele
 
Sometimes my brain goes on hiatus.

When I was a little girl, everything was very magical and seemed to happen automatically without having to give it much thought. I slept in my comfy bed, in my toy-laden room in a lovely little neighborhood. It was a care free time of non-directed play and endless fun when creative thoughts, wonderings and ideas bloomed in a state of perpetual spring. So what the heck happened? I'll tell you. Life.

I grew up and found myself inundated with responsibility. All that free space available in my mind as a happy-go-lucky kid became filled with giving homework help, maintaining soccer schedules, harassing children over piano practice and trying to figure out what to cook a week in advance that will accommodate everyone's work practices. Then there's the sick dog, monthly bills, a car that seems to be acting up every other week, taunting me I'm convinced, and house chores that just won't do themselves. I'm telling you, I refuse to be that family that ends up contracting some strange bacterial infection that comes from lack of cleanliness. Then I'm looking around wondering why it's already dark. So what do I do when I have a million and one things to think about besides the fun of writing when I'm finally sitting in front of my computer ready to start creating? I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

One of my favorite ways to get my creative juices flowing is music. What songs represent my characters? "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman has been excellent for overall theme of a character's struggle. Listening to the lyrics, I can sit back, close my eyes and let my imagination create the image that matches what the song makes me feel. Who is that girl? Why is she so completely down on her luck? Then I might listen to "Run Around" by Blues Traveler when I'm looking for a lighthearted tone that can create comic relief in a scene. Different songs can help give structure to an entire chapter. "It's the End of the World As We Know It" by R.E.M. is one of those songs in a new book I'm writing, a sci-fi romance. "Take Me To Church" by Hozier is a song that helped to form the emotional background of one of my male characters in Book 4 of the Dreamwalkers series. But wait...there's more.

Giving my characters a chance to rant is another way I work to build who they are. If I'm watching a television program or the news, I test myself to see how well I know my characters. I ask myself, how would they feel about what they just watched and why? This is purely an exercise and likely not going to end up in any of the story, but it helps to know how a character views the world. We're all shaped by the way we judge what is happening in our world, which in turn, tells us how to behave. Someone who is appreciative of the environment might be angered when they see someone throwing a cigarette on the ground in a careless manner, as an example. And still, there are times when getting started is really hard.

A final way of stirring the creative pot is to make sure I've figured out all aspects of a character's background, which means sitting my but down and figuring it all out. Often, when I'm stuck for ideas, it's because I haven't taken the time to really do my homework. Free time is so precious, a true rare commodity, that I just want to get to the writing. The result? Frustration. What I write is just sucky - a technical term - and it inevitably ends up getting cut. Instead, if I create a graphic organizer that lets me explore in depth how my characters feel about family, work, politics, religion, their dating background, etc., then I know how they will react in a given situation. At that point, the story can more easily unfold with not so many glitches - another technical term.

Thanks so much for stopping by. How do you get your creative juices flowing? If you're in the mood for a sexy, paranormal/sci-fi series, check out my Dreamwalkers series. It's a hot way to spend a chilly, fall evening.                                                                                                                                

 

Carina Amazon BN
 

Carina Amazon BN
Carina Amazon BN




 
 
 
 
 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Terror Mansion Excerpt New Rebecca York Decorah Security Novella

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Our new HERE BE MAGIC boxed set was released this week! Only 99 cents for eight special tales of magic. Here's an excerpt from New York Times and USA Today Best Seller Rebecca York's new novella Terror Mansion.

The story: His psychic abilities can save her life--if she will only trust him.

This wasn’t Wyatt Granger’s routine nightmare. Usually he had a clear vision of some unfortunate future event that he might or might not be able to alter.

Instead he saw a confusing swirl of murky images with shadowy figures appearing and disappearing, mostly at an old building near the dock in a seaside town. More confounding were the scenes in what looked like a house of horrors, filled with distorted mirrors, a laughing but menacing clown and places where the floor dropped out from under your feet, sending you to the depths of hell.

But always at the center of the whirlwind was a beautiful young woman with terror in her wide-set blue eyes and her blond hair in a tangle around her heart-shaped face.

When his own eyes blinked open, he lay with his heart pounding, fighting his way back to reality. But the here and now kept slithering away. What he saw instead was the woman’s face floating in his mind, the most indelible image from the nightmare.

“Who are you?” he whispered as he sat up and thrust aside the tangled bedsheets.

Although she wasn’t there to respond, he had no doubt that he was going to meet her soon, and the encounter was going to change his life.

A dramatic way to put it? Maybe, but he knew to the marrow of his bones that the dream had been about his own future—even when his prescient nightmares had never been personal before.
“Crap,” he whispered under his breath. He stood up, pressed his feet against the cold floor and walked naked to the window of his condo, where he stood clenching and unclenching his fists as he looked toward the glimmer of dawn on the horizon.

He ached to shake off the vivid confusion of the dream.

But instead of the bare tree trunks outside, he saw the woman’s face, pale and intense and beautiful.
“Who are you?” he asked again, but he heard only the throbbing of the blood in his veins.

He might not know her name, but he had to find her. He could have fought the feeling of urgency that threatened to choke off his breath, but the truth of the dream was burned into his soul, even when he had no way to cope with it on a logical level. All he knew was that he had to go to her. And then he had to take her in his arms and protect her—even when he knew she was going to mount a savage denial that she needed his aid.

Urgency and frustration had him stomping down the hall. In the bathroom, he took a quick shower. In too much of a hurry to shave, he pulled on jeans, a tee shirt and a leather jacket. Logically there was no way to even know where he was going. But he felt a compulsion to drive east, as though a psychic beacon was pulling him in the right direction, heading toward the waterfront that had flickered in and out of the nightmare.

His destination solidified in his mind when he’d crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There were lots of waterfront towns in this part of the state, but he took the turn to St. Stephens, which had been a thriving port in colonial times. Now pleasure craft bobbed gently in the small harbor, and Main Street was lined with tourist shops and restaurants.

A welter of emotions grabbed him by the throat as he parked in a lot in the heart of the downtown area and strode toward the dock. Yet some part of him still feared the dream had all been a lie.

Relief jolted through him when he saw the shambling gray building from the nightmare. The feeling was nothing compared to what he felt when his gaze fell on the woman standing outside the barn-like door.


Buy the "Here Be Magic" boxed set now at

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Advice to Writers

Posted by: Kathleen Collins
This post originally appeared on Bookish Babbles on 09-13-2013. Two more books and a short story have come out since this post was published and it's still as true today as it was then.
***

If you are anything like me than you have received the advice to ‘never give up’ over and over again. And generally it’s coming from an author who published their first book after only five rejections or an agent who’s already rejected you and you think ‘what do they know’.
 
Well now you’re going to hear it again, only this time it’s coming from someone who has been where you are. Realm Walker is not my first, second or even third book. It is, in fact, my fifth. I started submitting this book almost two years before I sold it to Carina. It went through so many changes (including a POV shift) that it isn’t even recognizable as that original book anymore. It was rejected over 100 times and I thought many times about just giving up and setting it aside.
 
But I loved this book. I love the world it’s set in, the characters and the story. I wasn’t ready to let it die. So I tried again and this time I sold not only it, but the second book in the series which hadn’t even been written yet. And I’ll tell you something, all those changes I made to get this book to what it is today made it a better book.
 
My fourth book sat on my shelf of shame for several years, mainly because it was completely devoid of any kind of emotional conflict. I pulled it out completely rewrote it and got an agent after only three weeks of querying. I think I sent ten total and pitched four agents in person and as opposed to rejections, I withdrew most of those when I signed with my agent.
 
What about those first three books you ask? They will never, ever see the light of day. I might revive a character or two, or steal a plot thread, but those books are horrible. And I kind of knew that even as I was writing them. I had to learn the craft, learn what worked and what didn’t. The time and effort I put forth on those books was worth it simply because it helped me improve my skills. A minute spent writing is never a wasted minute.
 
So take it from someone that’s been there. Keep working, keep writing and keep trying. You never know when it might pay off.

****
Kathleen Collins is the author of the Realm Walker series. You can find her on facebook or on her website

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Here Be Magic Boxed Set: Excerpt from Gorgeous Nightmare

Posted by: Angela Campbell

Here be eight wonderful stories of magic and the paranormal, brought to you by eight outstanding authors, headed by New York Times and USA Today best seller Rebecca York. You’ll thrill to high adventure, deep emotion, and that all important happy ever after. Travel from the eastern shore of Maryland through magic realms that will stir your imagination and your senses.  From sweet and sexy to high drama and heart-warming, the stories will leave you wanting more from these masters of the fantasy genre. 


***
Like my co-authors, I'm excited to be a part of the new Here Be Magic boxed set. My story in the collection is a brand new novella titled GORGEOUS NIGHTMARE. It's unrelated to my psychic detectives series, but it features—what else?—a psychic.

Dakota McBride is doing everything she can to fit into her new life in Asheville while guarding secrets that could get her killed. An unexpected run-in with Tyler Jackson—her older brother’s best friend and her long-time fantasy—puts everything in jeopardy. Dakota is a woman being hunted by a deadly serial killer, and Tyler seems hell-bent on protecting her, same as he always has. Through dreams, he’s foreseen her impending death. What neither Tyler nor the killer understand is that Dakota doesn't need a protector. Heaven help anyone who threatens her now…
Here's a brief excerpt:



“Dakota? You in there?” Wayne asked.


Tyler’s smile widened as he smoothly shifted his feet to the ground. “Now things are about to get real interesting.”

“Shhh. Don’t move.” Dakota held up a hand warning Tyler not to disobey her as she turned, took a deep breath, and opened her door only a crack.

Wayne cradled Ricky Bobby in the crook of his arm as he frowned down at her. “You weren’t manning the desk.”

“Sorry. I needed to come grab something real quick. A feminine item.” Her pulse throbbed in her ears as she struggled to stay calm. “Can you please give me a minute?”

His gaze lifted, peering through the open space and into the room behind her. She moved to block his view as much as possible.

“Everything OK?” Wayne asked, his voice softening with concern.

“Uh huh.”

Of course, that’s when all hell broke loose. The yappy hellhound started vibrating with a menacing growl that quickly morphed into a loud succession of ferocious barks. Wayne’s entire body stiffened as his gaze lifted above hers, and Dakota knew without a doubt Tyler was standing right behind her.

“Mr. Kohler?” Wayne’s expression matched the confusion in his voice as he struggled to keep hold of the squirming canine.

The warm press of a body against her back shocked Dakota into silence as an arm clamped around her waist, pulling her tight against Tyler’s front. “I appreciate you checking on my wife, but I can take it from here.”

Wife! Had he lost his mind? Wait a minute. Tyler was Kohler? That wasn’t Tyler’s last name.

“Wayne, he’s not serious. I’m not his wife.”

“Honey, we might have been separated, but we’re still married and you know it.”

Oh for the love of—

She elbowed Tyler’s side and was about as effective at moving him as a feather shifting a rock. His arm tightened around her middle, and the loud hum of a purr at her ear told her the cat was still firmly in his grip, too.

Things were spiraling out of control, and Dakota’s grasp on the doorknob tightened as she fought back the panic clawing at her insides. Worse yet, she had to fight the urge to lean back and let the comforting warmth of Tyler’s body seep into hers.

Wayne’s features paled before hardening. Ricky Bobby was now frantically trying to kill Tyler or the cat—or both. She supposed it didn’t matter because that’s when a door slammed open somewhere down the hall and Sandra’s voice called out, “Ricky Bobby?”

Seconds later, Sandra flounced into view, a pink eyemask pushed up and covering her forehead. “What on earth are you doing to my dog?”

The cat—she’d been calling him Harley because of how loudly he purred—began hissing and screeching, and Tyler’s arm fell away from Dakota’s middle, presumably so he could wrestle with the animal. Good. She hoped his muscular chest got shredded.

Wayne thrust the dog at Sandra. “I’m sorry, Ms. Coswell. Would you please excuse Dakota and me? I need to have a word with her.” He gave Tyler a stern look. “In private.”

Sandra’s eyes were wide as they flicked between Dakota and Wayne, and Dakota felt her face catch fire as she followed her boss down the hall. He stopped at the door that held the supplies before turning on her.

“What the hell is going on?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t—“

“Is he your husband?” He ran a hand through his graying hair. “Is this one of those abused wife situations? You were hiding from him? That’s why you were so desperate for this job and a place to stay?”

“What? No!”

“I want the truth. Do you know that man?”

Dakota clenched her teeth and lifted her chin. “I’ve never seen him before in my life.”

Wayne’s probing eyes scanned her face. “You’re a terrible liar.” He sighed. “That was the cat I told you not to feed, right?”

She glanced away, knowing she was caught.

“Look, I’m sorry, but I can’t have this kind of trouble here. I need you to leave. Do you want me to call the police so he doesn’t follow you?”

What? No, no, no. This couldn’t be happening.

“Wayne, please, no. I need this job.”

“Do you want me to call the police or not?” he repeated, biting out each word as if it left a bad taste in his mouth.

No. That was the last thing she needed. She crossed her arms and shook her head.

“Try to be out by morning, and take him with you.”
***
Buy the "Here Be Magic" boxed set now at
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