It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve got to get better at this. I love social media, but it’s hard to keep up all of the time. Any who, a lot has happened since my last post. So, I participated in #SASS15, an ah-mazing author signing event in Greenville, NC on October 24th! This was my first signing and let me tell you, it was a great experience. I met so many awesome authors, (rookie fist bump to Adrienne Dunning and Emma Lee Skye). It was great to meet so many readers and to see the enthusiasm everyone had for books, their favorite authors and finding a new story to love. If you ever get the opportunity to go to one of these events, GO! It’s definitely worth it.
Another big thing that’s happened…my 3rd release and very first novella came out on November 5th as part of the Unwrap the Romance anthology from 5 Prince Publishing. My story is just one of six heartwarming Christmas stories in this grouping and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
My novella, Restored Hearts, was such a joy to write. Why? Because it was inspired by a few things. One, my love of Christmas. I am a Christmas junkie. I love the feeling of the Christmas season and all of the bustling and hubbub that goes along with it. Seeing all of the decorations and spending time with family is so wonderful. Two, I was inspired by a song by Nat King Cole, The More I See You. It just epitomized the two main characters, EnVee (yes, pronounced like one of the seven deadly sins) and Logan. These two were so much fun to write because no matter how much they butted heads, the more time they spent together, the more they were drawn to one another. And three, The Property Brothers. Yes, I am an HGTV junkie and I freely admit it. I love all things creative and watching their show was the inspiration for Logan and his brother Alex. The jovial banter between the two and how they play off of one another is entertaining to watch and I just had to tie it in to the story.
As an early Christmas present, I thought I’d post an excerpt from Restored Hearts. I hope you enjoy.
“Please make it stop.” EnVee struggled to reach for the Ibuprofen on the shelf. If she could just get them into her system to make the headache go away, she’d be okay. Her head was pounding and it felt like it was filled with gallons of water. Her inner ears itched nowhere close to where a cotton swab could fit and she’d been tempted to take a pencil and jab it into the canal to relieve the incessant irritation. Her eyes watered and she was pretty sure by now, the mascara she’d applied earlier in the day was now wedged into the creases of the bags under her eyes. She had to get rid of this cold. She had a presentation to do in the morning and it wasn’t going to do her any good to get less than the usual four hours of sleep she was used to.
As she reached for the boxes, squinting to read the labels through the glaze that had formed over her eyes, she nearly dropped one when a high-pitched squeal pierced the air.
“Gracie, please. Sweetheart, I know you don’t feel good. I promise Daddy’s going to find something to make you feel better okay?”
EnVee closed her eyes, placing her hand on her temple, knowing if she didn’t get home soon, she was going to pass out. “Goodness, please make that kid stop.”
“Excuse me.” She cut her eyes to the left to see eyes as dark as the depths of the ocean narrowed and watching her. With her ears not only itching, but stopping up, she couldn’t hear her own self and must have said it a little louder than she intended. The owner of the eyes was now balancing the whimpering child in his arms and glaring at her. “She’s teething and in pain. I don’t suppose you would be in too good of a mood if you had enamel pushing its way through your gums.”
Taking a deep breath, EnVee summoned the strength to turn in the man’s direction. “Look I’m in pain myself so don’t tell me I don’t have a right to want the incessant noise coming from that little person in your arms to stop. What, does she have a megaphone in that throat of hers?” EnVee watched as the sable haired man stood in the aisle bouncing his mini me on his hip. She had to admit even with the ire billowing in his eyes, he was a fairly attractive man. He was clearly taller than six feet and his thick, Gable-esqe hair gently kissed the tops of his ears and collar. His strong jaw jutted forward as he shifted the little girl, trying to find a more soothing position for her.
“Look, lady. My daughter is not feeling her best right now. I’m trying to keep her as calm as possible, but don’t tell me she doesn’t have a right to cry.” Obviously, the baby could sense the tension flowing through her father’s body as she began to wail again, turning her head into his barrel chest and EnVee nearly toppled over from the pain.
Rolling her eyes, she fumbled across the rows of painkillers and found the one she was looking for. Placing it in the hand tote with the rest of the meds she’d loaded up on, she started to walk around him to the end of the aisle. “Well, sir, I don’t know much about kids, but I wouldn’t imagine it’s helping her any to be out in the night air. Maybe you should have done us all a favor and left her at home with her mother.”
The gentleman pivoted on his heel to face her. “Maybe you should mind your own business. I don’t know why you believe the world revolves around you, but it doesn’t. Maybe you should stop self-medicating and become a much nicer person. Maybe then, instead of you being in the store getting something for your cold, someone would be nice to you and get it for you so you could be at home resting.” His snide comments struck her in the face as if he’d reached out and slapped her and she stopped to stare at him. If she didn’t know any better, she’d swear the baby, who had quieted down from his soothing pats on her back, was smirking at her.
“You know nothing about me or anyone in my life, so why don’t you mind your own business and leave me be.” EnVee was sick, but she wasn’t about to let him get the best of her. Why was she even entertaining this conversation? He meant nothing to her. He was a perfect stranger with a baby. One of the last and possibly worst traits she could want in a man. They were nothing but distractions to her goals and she was not about to be derailed by anyone or anything.
“Hey, you started it. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. My daughter did nothing to you. She’s six months old and teething. Sue me if I don’t care too much for people talking terribly about her or to her,” he spat as he turned to look for the topical gel for the baby’s gums.
Shaking her head, EnVee turned and stalked to the front of the store. Ugh, men. What did they know? He had no right to judge her. She didn’t feel well. Why couldn’t he understand the baby’s crying was only exacerbating her headache and she just needed to get home and lie down? The place was pretty desolate and at this hour of the night, there was only one lane open. She quietly pulled her items from the hand tote and placed them on the conveyor belt. She hadn’t noticed the gentleman with the baby had made his selection and was now standing in line behind her. Placing her last item on the belt, she reached for her wallet. You have got to be kidding me. I’ve been pickpocketed. She could only imagine that’s what happened. There was no way she’d left home without her wallet. Not now. I just want to go home. She continued to pat her pockets and realized she wouldn’t have been able to miss her wallet in the thin fitness jacket she wore. In her haste to get relief and the fog clouding her brain, she’d left her wallet at home on the kitchen counter.
“You know some of us would like to get home sometime tonight,” she heard from behind her and she pivoted to see those same dark eyes peering down at her. The baby rested quietly against her father’s chest. It probably had something to do with the teething ring she held tightly in her hand jammed into her mouth. Her unruly curls framing her chunky face.
“Well, I would speed up my transaction, but it seems as though my wallet is missing.” EnVee was more than a little embarrassed and was glad it was only she, the gum-popping checkout girl and the gentleman standing there. If there had been a huge crowd, she may have slunk away into the night and never graced the superstore again.
“Hmm, so now it would seem you need someone to be nice to you, huh?”
“I’m perfectly capable of doing for myself. Thank you very much.” She turned to the girl who was impatiently tapping her foot. “I do apologize for the delay. Would it be okay if I just gave you my credit card number and you could punch it in?” She smiled as much as her face would allow. The headache had now radiated to her neck and was spreading across her forehead.
“Sorry ma’am. If you don’t have cash or a card with ID, I can’t help you.”
“Look, it’s not a big deal. I can just tell you my card number. I know it by heart. I’ll just tell you the numbers, you punch it in and I’m out of your hair.”
“It doesn’t work that way lady. I can’t do that. I still wouldn’t have a way of verifying that you actually own the card without an ID.” Staring at the masticating muncher in sheer disbelief, EnVee shifted her weight from one leg to the other. She felt a little woozy and knew it had to be from the fluid she was sure was steadily filling her head. What a time for someone to be conscientious of identity theft.
The gentleman sighed, shaking his head as he put his items on the conveyor belt. He moved forward and EnVee glared at him.
“What do you think you’re doing? I was here first. You can’t just-”
“Lady, please put a sock in it. I need to get my daughter home.” Turning to the checkout girl, he added. “Just total it all up. Bag her stuff separately.” He then turned to EnVee with eyebrows raised. “Ah, are you going to move so I can pay for all of this?”
“I am perfectly capable-”
He shook his head as the young girl totaled up the bill. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yadda, yadda, yadda. You’re capable of doing for yourself. Well, tonight someone else is doing something nice for you. Okay?” Moving over, he tried shifting Gracie so he could get to his own wallet. “Look, I know you have a problem with her, but she’s quiet right now. Can you give me a hand?”
EnVee’s eyes went wide; at least as wide as they could. “You want me to hold her?” She’d never held a baby. Wasn’t in her DNA to do so. Before she could protest, the man pushed the plump monster into her arms and EnVee’s entire body stiffened. She watched as he pulled his wallet from his back pocket and counted out the bills to give to the cashier before she looked down at the little girl. Her eyes were just as dark as her father’s and she stared at EnVee as if she were trying to figure out just who the woman was. Suddenly, the teething ring exited her mouth followed by the formula her little stomach had tried to digest earlier, but obviously didn’t quite complete. “Ugh, uh,” EnVee gagged, nearly throwing up as she watched the curdled liquid run down the front of her hot pink jacket.
“Aw, Gracie,” the man sighed as the cashier handed him his change. The baby, no worse for wear, smiled at him before looking up at EnVee. She then stretched her tiny hands towards her father, who gently took her from EnVee’s arms. “Hey, I’m sorry about that.”
“It’s not a problem,” EnVee sputtered as she took the paper towel the leering cashier offered to her, trying to wipe herself clean. “Thank you for paying for my items. Please give me your address and I can send you the money,” she added through clenched teeth. Her headache was now a full on migraine and she could practically feel one side of her nose completely close. She could only imagine she sounded like that imaginary elephant from the kids show on public television and looked like death warmed over. The solitary thing she could be silently grateful for was the fact she couldn’t smell anything; especially now that there was curdled milk soaking through her jacket.
“Hey, don’t worry about it. After what Gracie just did, I owe you. It’s just formula, so hopefully it won’t stain or anything, but I don’t mind paying for the dry cleaning.” He started to reach for his wallet again and she shook her head.
“No. We’ll just call it even.” She just wanted to get out of the store. Get home and crawl into bed and forget this night ever happened. Taking her bag, she turned and stalked away.
As he watched her walk out, Logan looked down at Gracie and smiled. “I guess you didn’t take too kindly to her talking about you either. That’s Daddy’s girl,” he winked as he took his bag and walked out of the store.