Tag Archives: F/F Romance

Squee! Let the Party Begin! Happy Release Day = “Emma’s New Year”

It is quite fitting that we should throw a party for a book who’s setting begins at a New Year’s Eve Party!

Happy Release Day for Emma’s New Year. One night when everything changes for Emma and sets her world on end.

Have you ever had that kind of experience…a pinnacle where everything changes as if your whole world was turned inside out and remade?

Come and visit me today at either this party page. or at either Skye  or Mummy’s Naughty Corner or at Lori J. Gordon’s

I’ve gathered the links for “Emma” at all your favorite ebook vendors

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

ALL ROMANCE E BOOKS

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Emma’s New Year releases July 10th! Vote Now!

My newest title, a short novellette of 5 chapters, titled “Emma’s New Year” releases on July 10th from Rebel Ink Press

The early ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copies) Reviews are coming in and I’m pleased to have produced another story for readers to enjoy.

Check out what early reviewers have had to say about “Emma’s New Year” in these blogs. Ameliah F and Sarah B

Emma's New Year-200 x 300

I think I’ve settled on this blurb for the story. But I’d like to hear which one blog readers like the best. So vote in the comments for the blurb you like best.

Blurb 1:

Emma Reed needs a change from her stale boring straight life. Her lesbian friend drags her to a gay New Year’s Eve dance. There she meets butchy El Westin, out of her league and out of her comfort zone. The unexpected kiss at midnight makes Emma’s outlook start to sparkle and get interesting again. Emma has a choice to make. Is this a night of possibilities influenced by the magic of a borrowed amethyst necklace or is it a resolution in the making?

or

Blurb 2:

Convinced to ring in the New Year at a gay club with a lesbian friend, straight girl Emma Reed gets a little more than she expects when she meets El Westin. Maybe there was something magical about that Amethyst necklace she’d borrowed for the night. Or perhaps her resistance was lowered by the fruity concoction, Hawaiian Iced Tea, she’d been drinking. Her immediate attraction to El sent up fireworks and it wasn’t even midnight. Would one night of wild sex be the start of a New Year, New life them both or end up being just another big mistake.

 

Vol 1 “Raynia’s Magic” a Contemporary Menage’ story M/F/M with some M/M –            A short Novella, 52 pgs.
Vol 2 “Beverly’s Secret” A Contemporary Lesbian story. – Novellette 24 pgs
Vol 3 “Phoenix Reborn” A Paranormal Lesbian story. A Short Novella  54 pgs.
Vol 4 “Shifter’s Legacy” A Paranormal Menage’ story M/F/M – Novella, 72 pgs.
Vol 5 “Emma’s New Year”
Expect more stories of this mysterious Amethyst necklace and the passion it evokes in the lives of it’s chosen wearer.

Production Schedule for 2014 – 2015

I’ve been buried under edits this month. I’m excited to release this production schedule for 2014 and 2015. I will release more than this I’m sure. However, this is what I have nailed down to deadlines as we speak.

These blurbs are in draft form at the moment. I’d love to hear comments about what you like in the blurb. Also what in the blurb might stop you from thinking you would like one of these stories. I will choose a random comment that I like to send a swag pack to with a lovely Facebook card on one of my titles and a cover trading card.

To Be Released in 2014

From Rebel Ink Press: “Shifter’s Legacy” a M/F/M Menage Erotic Paranormal Wolf Shifter Novella TBR 05/03/2014 Vol 4 in The Amethyst Desire Collection. Look for a Cover Preview in April. This cover is in it’s final edits. The story is with the editor and I am looking forward to a revision letter from them to put things in their final format.

Draft Blurb

Addison Barnes has loved Nathan since the moment she looked into the deep brown eyes of the injured grey wolf brought to her rescue facility and saw a human soul. Yet, the complications of the birth of their first child, demands of mothering and keeping her wolf rescue running leaves Addison feeling less like a sexy mate and more like a saggy mom. She’s frightened of the pervading consequences of their son Logan manifesting shape shifting abilities. She longs to regain her confidence and sexual vitality and carefree demeanor. She hires drifter Duncan Black to help with some of the more physical chores at the rescue Nathan doesn’t have time to accomplish. Duncan proves to be an attractive distraction.

Duncan’s life changed forever when he’s stranded in the quaint (er…hole in the wall) north Florida town for a part for his motorcycle. The chance meeting with Addison gives him the opportunity to earn a little cash and regroup before heading on to his next destination, somewhere else. Addison and her curvy little ass are a significant distraction to his fence building chores. With his own secret to hide, he’s not prepared to be swept into a whole different world. Covertly witnessing what seems to be a wolf turning into his boss, Duncan realizes the couple might hold the key to his own mystery.

Nathan Barnes struggles to unite his pack. Key to their future is whether his human wife can help him secure the next generation of shape shifting wolves through their offspring. Or will the shifter genetics be diluted by human ones? Duncan’s presence gives a much needed buffer from all the stress. Nathan purchases an amethyst pendant from Salynne’s Crystals and Thyme as a gift of love for his beautiful wife. Sparks ignite as Nathan demonstrates to Addison the lengths he will go to for her happiness. Uncharacteristic of his Alpha possessiveness, he wants to fulfill Addison’s fantasy of a ménage with Duncan.

After weeks of handy man chores by day and lusting after Addison by night, Duncan doesn’t want to resist the offer of a weekend threesome. Planning to leave after their weekend of carnal debauchery anyway what could it matter?

“Emma’s New Year” a F/F Erotic Contemporary Romance Novellette TBR 07/03/2014 Vol 5 in The Amethyst Desire Collection. Cover Reveal coming in June. This cover is also in final edits with the graphic artist over at Rebel Ink Press. I will be looking for a special place to do the cover reveal.

Draft Blurb

Convinced to ring in the New Year at a gay club with a lesbian friend, straight girl Emma Reed gets a little more than she expects when she meets El Westin. Maybe there was something magical about that Amethyst necklace she’d borrowed for the night. Or perhaps her resistance was lowered by the fruity concoction, Hawaiian Iced Tea, she’d been drinking. Her immediate attraction to El sent up fireworks and it wasn’t even midnight. Would one night of wild sex be the start of a New Year, New life for them both or end up being just another big mistake.

5 More releases for “The Amethyst Desire Collection” over the course of 2014 and 2015 to complete the collection. What kinds of stories would you find fun to round out this series. I have sketched out blurbs for four of the five. They would be seasonal holiday stories: Halloween F/F; Thanksgiving M/M; Christmas Menage F/F/M; Valentines Menage M/F/M with some M/M/F scenes;  Perhaps a summer time story? OHHH maybe something at the beach for the very last story. And have the necklace get lost forever in the sea. After ten stories…maybe it needs to be LOST FOREVER in the sea. Awww darn that wouldn’t work. I’d just write a mermaid story then about finding the dang thing. LOL

Direct Publication Projects

Drakins of Wyrmarach

Draft Blurb

Bad-boy twins, Ethan and Caleb Monroe are exiled by Drakin society because of their defective Dragon form, two heads are unacceptable. They’ve gotten used to breaking rules to help their world. Their sensory powers draw them to Cathwren Aldridge, the one woman they could both love, just in time to save her from harm. Much to their surprise, she’s the lost descendent of Wyrmarach’s Dragon Guardian and rightful heir to the title. They have to break the oldest custom of all, risking everything on the chance to awaken ‘Wren’s’ powers and rekindle the magic of the Drakin’s world.

Wren came to the small North Florida town to enjoy a quiet life running her shop, Salynne’s Crystals and Thyme. Now Wren’s on the run from ancient enemies who want to kill her and the ‘Watchers’ who think she should be secluded in a Temple communing with the Goddess. The whole thing sounds like a bizarre SyFy movie. Yet something is happening, unleashing feelings she can’t deny, feelings that urge her to push the boundaries of pleasure, feelings that whisper she’s something more than ordinary. Her conscience wages war with emotions urging her to climb in bed with these two very sexy dragon shifters and stay there.

The trio embarks on a hunt to uncover and eliminate the threat against Wren’s birthright. Will their people accept such a deformed dragon as Kings.   Can such a closed society accept a human as Guardian and Queen?  Together they struggle to claim their shared destiny as Dragon Guardian of WyrmArach and Monarchs of the Realm.

“Dragon Guardian” a M/F/M Menage Erotic Paranormal Dragon Shifter Novel. Vol 1 Drakins of Wyrmarach TBR 05/03/2014 Cover Reveal coming in April. I have the cover on this baby and it is (singing) Awe-SOME. A fantastic cover created by Hot Damn Designs. I’ve made it into a poster so I can look at it every day. The same poster will be on display at the two author events I’ve scheduled in the Western North Carolina Area. May 3rd Blue Ridge Books on Main Street Waynesville, NC at 3pm and at City Lights Book Store in Sylvia, NC on Friday, May 16th, 2014 at 6:30pm. There will be swag and wonderful drawings for attendees. I will offer a bottle of Menage De Trois wine autographed label as a door prize drawing to one lucky purchaser of “Dragon Guardian” at each event. At City Lights we will be enjoying wine and chocolate while I read an excerpt, sign books and visit with guests. Planning the activities for the Blue Ridge Books event are underway.

Draft Blurb

Wren, Cathwren Aldridge, is catapulted into steamy relationship with twin brothers Ethan and Caleb Monroe quite by accident when she falls through her stairs. She discovers nothing is what is seems and she may be Goddess forordained for more. Not Queen of some small European country but a world in another dimension, a world of dragon shapeshifters.

Evil stalks her, and it’s up to Caleb and Ethan Monroe to protect her while they figure out just what she is, Human, Dragon or something much more. Is she the one they’ve hoped for to unite them in their journey to the throne? Or will the strangeness of the truths they tell her drive her onto a path of self discovery leaving them bound to a woman they can never have, The Dragon Guardian.

“Dragon Betrayal” a M/F Erotic Paranormal Dragon shifter novellette Vol 1.5 Drakins of Wyrmarach TBR 06/03/2014 Cover Reveal coming in May. I have the cover for this lovely as well, created by Toby-by-Design. It is Fabulous! This novellette will be offered as a free read yes FREE READ. It will have some more hot menage sex with Wren, Caleb and Ethan of course. However, there will also be insight into the Knights of Druiere’ and their holy quest. Dirk is the hero of his own story of course. And a Betrayer is revealed to the reader.

“Dragon Mark” Vol 2 Drakins of Wyrmarach M/F/M Menage Erotic Paranormal Dragon Shifter Novel. Cover contract with Hot Damn Designs

“Dragon Kings” Vol 3 Drakins of Wyrmarach M/F/M Menage Erotic Paranormal Dragon Shifter Novel. Cover contract with Hot Damn Designs

Toby-by-Design will be creating a cover for one more direct publication project. I’m debating on what to write for this story. Something that ties into world I’ve created with the Dragons, or a totally different project.  Oh the endless possibilities.

“Raynia’s Magic” on Sale Through Valentines Day

In honor of it’s publication anniversary, I am able to offer “Raynia’s Magic” vol 1 of The Amethyst Desire Collection” on sale for $.99. at Amazon

Blurb:

Raynia Castellano is drawn to purchase an amethyst pendant as an impulse buy but not before the clerk assures Raynia the magic is in the woman, not the necklace that seems to call to her. And given Raynia has just left an adulterous ex-husband and has recently settled into a law practice with her oh so sexy and oh so apparently gay law partners, surely a little magic is required.

200x300RayniasMagic

Excerpt:

Peter watched Raynia move past Sally’s desk. Just the view of her Marilyn Monroe curves awakened his cock and started an inevitable hard-on. As she turned for her office, the view of her heart shaped ass finished stiffening his erection to a painful thickness trapped in his briefs. This had to end soon.

 

The side door of his and Chase’s connecting offices opened and his partner watched him with a grin and similar evidence in the form of a tented crotch in his trousers.

 

Peter tossed instructions over his shoulder as he crossed the room. “Sally, hold our calls for a while.”

 

“Yes, Mr. Thornton.” He closed the office door and turned to Chase.

 

“I can’t suffer like this much longer.” He pulled out the chair and sat down, adjusting his pants and cock to a less uncomfortable position.

 

Chase leaned in the opening of the door. “You’re the one who had the bright idea to let her think we’re gay.”

 

“You know she was a wreck after her husband left her. She needed a place to stay where she felt safe. I didn’t exactly know how to broach the conversation of Chase and I are bi-sexual and have wanted to jump your bones since we were freshmen together. Chalk it up to, our timing sucks.”

 

Chase pushed away from the doorframe and crossed the room to lean over Peter’s chair. He punctuated his words with forefinger jabs to Peter’s chest. “Yes, well our little butterfly is emerging and if we don’t do something soon another bee is going to be dipping into that honey.”

 

Peter slapped Chase’s hand away. “Didn’t anyone ever brief you on the concept of metaphors and explain–what you do with them should be grounds for incarceration.” 

Raynia’s Magic The Amethyst Desire Collection Vol 1

Amazon:   $.99

Barnes and Noble 

All Romance E Books

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Whoo, baby! April 24, 2012

By shlafe
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Hot hot hot story!!! I love that Raynia wasn’t your typical size 2 perfect boobed heroine. And I love friends to lovers stories. The writing itself was light and fun (except for that twist) and a truly enjoyable read.
Vol 4 Shifter’s Legacy TBR Spring/Summer 2014 Menage M/F/M Paranormal Erotic Romance
Vol 5 Emma’s New Year TBR Spring/Summer 2014 F/F Contemporary Erotic Romance

Beverly’s Secret The Amethyst Desire Collection Vol 2

Amazon: 

Barnes and  Noble:

All Romance E Books 

 

Phoenix Reborn The Amethyst Desire Collection Vol 3

Amazon:

Barnes and Noble 

All Romance E Books

 

 

A.J. Adaire Guest Promo

A.J. Adaire and I have become cyber friends since I invited her to be my guest on Author Spotlight. We’ve trudged through battling book piracy together and the woes of promotion in general. I’m pleased to have her encore visit today to promote her new book Awaiting My Assignment, a lesbian romance. And for a real treat! she’s given us an exclusive three chapter read at the end of this blog.

aj sm copy

 AUTHOR’S PAGE ON AMAZON: 

A.J. told me more about herself in this interview.

Twenty years ago, I wrote my first book just to see if I could do it. The novel occupied space on my bookshelf, unread for nearly twenty years until, one day while in a cleaning frenzy, I considered disposing of the neatly stacked but now age-yellowed pages. As I began to read the long forgotten work, I was surprised to discover that the story was enjoyable! Editing and retyping the first book provided a new sense of accomplishment and additional tales followed. Completion of This is Fitting encouraged me to write four more romance novels. I Love My Life and Sunset Island were followed by Awaiting My Assignment and its sequel, Anything Your Heart Desires. One Day Longer Than Forever is now complete and in the hands of first readers before the first big edit.

Now retired, there is all the time in the world to write. I live on the east coast with my partner of twenty-eight years. Because we love a challenge, we provide a loving home for two spoiled cats instead of a dog! In addition to writing, any spare time is devoted to reading, mastering new computer programs, and socializing with friends.

So, I asked her

Who is your favorite character in Awaiting My Assignment and why? 

This is a hard question. Awaiting My Assignment is really a double Romance, leaving a hard choice between the four main characters. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite in this story—I like them all. The characters are ‘people’ I’d love to have as friends in real life. Awaiting my Assignment is book 2 in a series I’ve called ‘The Friends Series. Each book is a stand alone story, and as the series develops, so do the characters grow and develop. Although I have no favorite in this book, I think one of these characters becomes my favorite in my next book. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal it here without giving away a big secret from Awaiting My Assignment. I think readers will enjoy each character for different reasons, and they won’t be disappointed because they’ll get a visit from everyone’s favorite character from Sunset Island, Lindy (along with Ren, of course.)

AMA blueflat

BLURB:

AWAITING MY ASSIGNMENT: Bernie was a liar. Amanda learned that much when she caught her lover cheating the first time. Upon discovering a second indiscretion, Amanda vows there will never be another and leaves the relationship, fleeing to her friend Dana in New York State. There, Amanda meets and falls in love with a wonderful woman named Mallory.
However, the consistently surprising Bernie isn’t finished yet. Amanda learns of Bernie’s rudest betrayal yet when she receives a package from her ex-lover. Contained therein is a very surprising revelation and one final request. The favor comes with a gift that delivers dramatic and life-altering changes not only to Amanda’s life, but to the lives of her closest friends and new partner as well.

Twists and turns abound in this stand alone lesbian romance from Adaire. Awaiting My Assignment tells Mallory and Amanda’s story. Revisit Sunset Island friends Ren, Lindy and Mallory in AJ Adaire’s Book 2 of the Friends Series.

AWAITING MY ASSIGNMENT ON AMAZON:  

PREVIEW CHAPTERS 1 – 3
Chapter 1

Amanda raised both hands to her head and although tempted to use them to cover her ears, she ran her fingers through her dark auburn hair instead. Exhaling a long sigh, she drew herself up to her full height of just over five feet then crossed her arms in front of her chest, her hazel eyes unsympathetic. Bernie was still pleading her case. However, this time, Amanda ignored the excuses and explanations, all of which were achingly familiar.

“Look,” Amanda said, her tone measured, her voice more calm than her wrath would indicate, “I told you the last time that if I caught you cheating there would never be a next time or I’d leave you. As you can see, I meant it. There will be no more chances.”

“But honey…”

“Don’t ‘but honey’ me.” Amanda could feel her anger creeping into her voice. It was time to end this debate.

“Okay sweetie, you’re right,” Bernie said, trying a new tactic. “It was just a one night stand. You know she doesn’t mean anything to me. I love you. With her it was just sex. With you, I make love.”

“You’re pathetic. Love? You don’t even know the meaning of the word. I’m done here.” Amanda shook her head in disgust.

It was clear that this pronouncement had no impact because when she turned to head for the bedroom Bernie followed, close on her heels. She strode from the room hoping that would be the end of their discussion. She felt her shoulders slump when she heard Bernie following her down the hallway. Amanda grabbed her matched set of luggage from the hall closet before she entered the bedroom to begin packing. Without making an effort to sort things properly, she grabbed stacks of items she thought she might need for the next few days and jammed them into her suitcase with little care for how wrinkled they would be.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“Away from you. I told you, I’m done here.” Amanda repeated her intent as much to convince herself as to convince Bernie she was serious.

Amanda packed her belongings. Recognition of how little there was in the house that reflected her taste compounded her sadness. Their custom built home, not a size or style she particularly liked, was paid for mostly with Bernie’s money. Amanda, so enamored with the magnetic woman at the time they built it, would have done anything to make Bernie happy. When Amanda couldn’t afford the lavish home Bernie desired, they agreed she’d contribute what she could afford and Bernie would provide the rest. For that reason, Amanda had acquiesced on nearly every decorating decision in their three bedroom home from, in her opinion, the tacky, ornate, and overdone bedroom furniture to the sleek white modern, extremely uncomfortable living room set. None of the artwork was her taste, nor had she picked any of the paint colors, which ranged in shades from eggshell to pale almond. It distressed her to admit how much of herself she had surrendered to be Bernie’s partner. She always felt that living in their house was akin to living in a snowstorm.

Amanda’s haven was her office. She decorated it with dark green walls, crisp white trim, comfortable leather chairs, a roll top desk, shutter covered windows, and ceiling to floor bookshelves. Books had surrounded her all her adult life. How was it ever possible for me to establish a relationship with someone who doesn’t value the printed word? I’m an author, for God’s sake, involved with a woman who hates to read.

The house was uncharacteristically quiet. Left to her own devices, Bernie would have the television on twenty-four seven. Not in the beginning of their relationship, but for the past few months, Bernie even hated to turn it off when they had sex. What possessed me? What was I thinking? How could I have been so stupid to have not seen what she was up to?

“Okay, I’m sorry. Is that what you need to hear?”

Amanda recognized Bernie’s statement for what it was, another attempt to deter her, and responded in a voice tight with emotion. “No. You remain completely clueless about what I need to hear.”

“Well, then that makes us even, since you’re clueless about what I need, too. I need a little excitement in the bedroom, not that bland huggy-kissy, touchy-feely pablum-like, lukewarm sex you prefer. You bore me to death sexually. If you’d spiced things up a little, maybe I wouldn’t have strayed.”

The education in various sexual techniques and positions that Bernie had provided over their years together gave Amanda confidence and left her with no doubts about her sexual prowess. Amanda knew that Bernie was simply being hurtful. Amanda wanted to say, ‘Yeah, maybe being the operative word in that sentence,’ or perhaps ‘So now it’s my fault that you cheat?’ Amanda’s resolve to maintain control steeled her. She managed to clamp her mouth closed and refrain from spitting out either retort. It was important to her that she not allow herself to be pulled into exchanging hurtful barbs with the woman she at one time thought she loved and who, she thought, loved her in return. Unfortunately, their definition of love turned out to be too disparate. Although she had to bite her tongue to keep from tossing a final insult that burned to be released, she managed to remain silent. Instead, Amanda picked up the overnight bag, slipped the strap over her head, and adjusted its weight on her shoulder.

Bernie grasped Amanda’s upper arm with enough pressure to cause Amanda to wince. Pulling Amanda around to face her, while gesturing expansively with her free hand, Bernie assaulted Amanda with her words. “Are you just going to throw all this away? Aren’t you even going to fight for our relationship?”

“What for? So you can cheat again? How truly stupid do you think I am?” Amanda shrugged her arm free from Bernie’s painful grasp, slid the large suitcase from the bed, and extended the handle. “I’ll come back to get the rest of my stuff after you leave on your trip.”

“Coward,” Bernie uttered. The word was just barely audible as she changed strategy again.

Amanda glanced back at her, noting Bernie’s sad expression she didn’t for a minute think was genuine. “I can’t believe you. You have the balls of life!” In a momentary lapse of control, Amanda allowed herself to be hooked in. “Cheater!” She snapped the word back, her voice strident.

Bernie’s eyes flashed. “If you walk out that door, don’t think I’ll let you come crawling back. I can have that empty spot you’ll leave in the bed filled three times over before it’s even cold.”

Despite the angry and bitter feelings she had yet to express, Amanda replied in a calm and measured tone, “I don’t doubt for a minute the veracity of that statement.” She was too exhausted to argue.

Although slamming the door might have been more dramatic, Amanda opted to close it quietly behind her, refusing to allow her tears to come until she was alone in the car nearly a block away from the house. She pulled to the side of the road when she no longer could see well enough to drive. Okay, that was certainly a dramatic exit, but what the hell are you going to do now? Mentally ticking through her list of friends, she concluded that she had no friends on the west coast that were exclusively her own and didn’t want to put their mutual friends in the uncomfortable position of having to take sides. May as well get a motel room until I figure all this out… 

Her emotions in control and with a destination in mind, Amanda drove as thoughts swirled in her head. She realized she was thankful that, except for the house, they had maintained separate financial accounts, opting not to co-mingle their money. At least she wouldn’t have that hassle to deal with on top of everything else.

Amanda settled into her motel room, after a cursory look around the simple but functional room decorated in a combination of green and orange stripes and flowers. Idly, she wondered when designers had begun believing that the different contrasting patterns like stripes, plaids, and floral prints coordinated with each other. “Well, at least it’s clean.” Spotting the coffee pot on the dresser, “and it has coffee.”

Other than the friendships she and Bernie had established as a couple, Amanda had made no new friends of her own since she relocated from her apartment about fifty minutes south of their current home in San Francisco twelve years ago. She moved in with Bernie and pursued her profession as a writer, a solitary endeavor. It wasn’t as if she didn’t like people or was unlikeable herself, she had simply gotten out of the habit of doing things and placing herself in environments where she might meet people. Bernie’s job in hotel management required frequent travel. When Bernie came home for a week off before her next trip to Brazil or across the country somewhere, they would rarely socialize. Sometimes, they might get together with another couple, but more often, they would simply fall into bed or work. Bernie always brought work home with her to do, even on what was considered her down time.

When had their relationship really ended? Certainly it had changed at least a couple of years ago when she’d called Bernie’s hotel room early one morning and another woman sleepily answered the phone. She thought back to the confrontation they had upon Bernie’s return home. Bernie swore that would be the last time but, of course, it wasn’t. Amanda had her suspicions before, but this time there had been proof Bernie couldn’t explain away.

Alone, thinking over her earlier dialogue with Bernie, self-doubts began to clamor in her brain. Were all those cruel things Bernie had said about me true? Am I boring in life and in bed? It was true that Bernie did most of the talking when she came home. From my perspective it seemed that Bernie enjoyed the sound of her own voice, so I just let her talk. She was never interested in any project I was working on and had shown absolutely no interest at all in the novel I’ve been writing.

Their sex life had changed too, from loving and exciting to something darker and more edgy. Although Bernie had never hurt her, she had become sexually more aggressive, dominating her physically and verbally. At the outset of their relationship, Amanda would miss Bernie when she was gone. Lately she dreaded Bernie’s return home from a trip.

This is a good decision. Although I’m sad, I’m not sorry I ended it. Amanda exhaled a long sigh and felt some of her tension release. In all honesty, the primary emotion I’m feeling is relief. Desiring support and needing to unburden herself, Amanda called her oldest friend Dana in New York.

Dana had obviously checked her caller ID. “Hey girlfriend! What’s happening?”

Amanda grinned at her always-upbeat best friend’s greeting. Her petite frame, rusty-hair, blue-eyes, and freckle-faced appearance combined with her unflaggingly cheerful and good-natured personality made Dana someone that everyone liked. Born two days later in the month than her own January fifteenth birthday, she was Amanda’s closest friend.

Amanda had come out to Dana years ago. Fearing rejection, she’d delayed telling Dana that she was gay. The day she finally worked up the courage her palms were sweaty and her stomach queasy from nerves. However, her concerns were unfounded. Dana’s response had been to simply pull Amanda into her arms to give her a hug. “So what,” she said. “I still love you.”

They became even closer than they were before she’d revealed her secret. Maybe it was because Amanda felt freer to share her thoughts and feelings more openly. Smiling at the pleasant memory, she returned her mind to the phone conversation. “You mean what’s new other than the fact that I left Bernie.”

“I know this will sound unfeeling, but I’m glad.”

“I know. I’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion.”

“So, when did you leave?”

Amanda adjusted her pillow under her head and made herself comfortable on the bed. “About two hours ago.”

“Where are you now?”

“Motel.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes.”

“So what’s your next move? Do you plan to stay in California and get an apartment?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t really had the chance to process the whole thing yet.”

“Are you open to a suggestion?”

“From you, always.”

“Okay. Well, less than two weeks from now, I’m leaving for a two and a half to three month assignment in Italy. Why don’t you come stay at my place till you figure out what you want to do? Honestly, you’d be doing me a favor.” Knowing her diligent and hard working friend all too well, Dana added, “You can work anywhere as long as you have a computer with Internet access and a phone, can’t you?”

Amanda smiled as she pictured her friend in her cozy little home. The lovely cape style cabin she owned sat nestled in a small town bordering a large New York State park, a little over an hour from New York City. A mid-sized international pharmaceutical company employed Dana as a certified translator. She was often required to travel with her boss for her assignments. “Yes, I can work anywhere, but let me think about it. I’ll call you in the morning and let you know. It’s an extremely attractive offer and I appreciate it very much. The best part is that I’d get to spend a few days with you before you leave.”

“Okay, let me know. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Call me if you need me. Good night, sweetie.”

Amanda gave about five minutes of serious consideration to her friend’s suggestion. There was really no down side to it. She checked flight information, booked her flight, and texted Dana her travel plans along with a thank you for the offer.

***

 Amanda knew her partner’s schedule as well as Bernie did. In two days, Bernie was set to fly out on her next trip. Amanda organized her plans then waited patiently for time to pass. Two days later, when she returned to the house she shared with her lover, Bernie had already left for the airport. It took Amanda less than a day to pack up her office, files, a few personal items, and to have her remaining belongings that she wanted or cared about, moved into a storage unit or shipped to Dana’s place. The rest, mostly clothes, she decided could be collected once she determined where she would settle.

Amanda only took things she had brought to the relationship, leaving everything they’d bought or accumulated while they were together. She left a note on the kitchen counter for Bernie saying that, after careful consideration, leaving was for the best and that she would be in touch in a week or two to let her know where she decided to settle. After a final look around, she left for the airport.

***

 Dana was waiting for Amanda at the arrival gate in Newark. In the car on the way to Dana’s cabin, Amanda recalled the wonderful times she’d shared with her friend as they grew up. Dana’s grandparents had raised her after her parents died when she was a teenager. Another painful loss struck when her grandfather died just after Dana turned twenty. Dana inherited the cabin when her grandmother passed a few years later and had lived there full-time since graduating from college. Amanda loved the small town’s ambiance and its proximity to the park in Harriman, NY.

Amada smiled as they pulled up in front of the house. “I’d almost forgotten how lovely this place is.”

While she and Dana grabbed her bags from the trunk, Amanda noticed Dana’s neighbor wave in greeting to Dana.

“Mallory, stop over after dinner. I want you to meet my friend,” Dana called to the attractive woman with a megawatt smile.

Once inside her house, Dana helped Amanda get settled in the guest bedroom in the loft. “Need anything else?” Dana asked as she turned to leave.

“Do I have time for a quick nap before dinner?” Amanda flopped on the bed.

“Sure. I’m just going to defrost a casserole. We can eat in an hour and a half or so.”

“Need any help?”

“No, get some rest. I’ll call you when dinner is ready.” From the doorway, Dana gave a quick wave before she closed the door and headed downstairs to prepare dinner.

Chapter 2

A

manda awoke when Dana called up the stairs that dinner was just about ready. Even though she felt more refreshed after her nap, Amanda knew she’d still be able to sleep soundly when she turned in for the night. The emotional strain of the past few days had left her mentally and physically exhausted. Dinner was delicious and the two long time friends chatted easily throughout the meal. Just as they were finishing up, there was a knock at the door and Mallory let herself in.

Dana wrapped her arm around Mallory’s shoulder, leading her to where Amanda sat. “Fantastic! I’m glad you’re here. You’re just in time for coffee and dessert. Mallory, this is my oldest and dearest friend Amanda. She’ll be staying here at the house while I’m away.”

Mallory flashed her dazzling smile in greeting. “That’s great. I’m glad to have someone that I’ll know next door.”

Dana’s friend is an attractive woman, but when she smiles, she’s beautiful.Her hair was an unusual shade of ash blonde, lightened by the sun on top, with a darker layer underneath. Amanda forced herself to drag her eyes away from the woman’s sexy mouth so she could meet her eyes.

“Amanda, this is Mallory Barnes. She’s the Director of Nursing at the hospital. Her job there requires her to work some strange hours, but she always lets me know her schedule. That way I don’t worry when I hear her come home at some odd hour. Also, when I’m traveling, it’s useful to have someone I can text or call at all hours of the day and night, just so someone knows I’m alive and well.” Dana gave Mallory’s shoulder an affectionate squeeze and a quick wink, for which she received another brilliant smile.

Amanda liked Mallory’s warm smile and welcoming demeanor. Mallory was maybe an inch or two taller than Amanda and they had a lean, muscular body type in common. A hint of eyeliner and a light application of mascara emphasized her beautiful sparkly greenish blue eyes. Her hair was streaked with naturally sun-bleached ashy colored highlights that indicated she spent time outdoors. Amanda guessed Mallory’s age to be a few years older than her own age of thirty-eight. Her own birthday would occur in four months, leaving her only one year until she turned the dreaded forty.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mallory. I hope we’ll be good friends. So, a Director of Nursing huh? Do you still do direct care or is your job totally administrative at that level?” Amanda asked.

“For the most part it’s administrative, but I’m still able to orient the new nurses, so I get to set standards for my staff. It’s true that I still have my fair amount of pure paper pushing as well. There are advantages and disadvantages to any supervisory role, but most days I enjoy my job. What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Have I possibly read any of your work?”

Amanda laughed. “Possibly, I write copy for a direct mail company. So, if you read any of the direct mail fliers, chances are good I’ve written some of them.” She thought for a moment. “I did ghost write a novel that was published last year that you may have heard of.”

“Really. Which one?”

“Doctor Jonathan Grandly’s book on diet and exercise, Get Fitter Faster.”

“No kidding. I’ve more than heard of it. Would you believe that I own it? You did a great job of making an extremely boring man sound interesting.” Mallory’s engaging grin appeared again and she produced an endearing giggle.

“Oh, you’re being too hard on him. He’s a genuinely nice man.”

Mallory’s smirk and raised eyebrow made Amanda laugh in return. “Okay, I’ll agree to nice, if you’ll give me boring. Plus I’ll admit that he really knows his subject. I attended a lecture he gave at my college a few years back.”

Amanda liked Mallory’s conciliatory efforts. I’ll bet she’s good at her job. Her warmth is conveyed through her quick smile and obvious willingness to compromise. “It’s a deal.”

“You know Amanda, like you, Mallory loves to bike ride. You’re welcome to use my bike if you want to ride with her sometime,” Dana offered.

Both Amanda and Mallory were enthusiastic at the prospect of having someone to ride with them. During the animated conversations over the remainder of the evening, Amanda and Mallory discovered that they had a lot in common. Besides biking, they both enjoyed reading, hiking, photography, and watching old movies. When the evening ended and Mallory hugged Dana before leaving, it seemed perfectly natural for Amanda and Mallory to hug each other good night as well.

“I really like her,” Amanda confided after Mallory closed the door. “Being able to have someone to do things with will make my stay here much more enjoyable while you’re away. What’s her story?”

“Story?”

“Yeah, you know. Who does she date, is she involved? The dirt.”

“The dirt, huh?” Dana shook her head and rolled her eyes causing them both to laugh. “Honestly, I don’t know who or even if she dates. I’ve never seen her go out with anybody and she’s never mentioned anyone she’s been serious about since she moved here about a year ago. She seems to work a lot and her hours are extremely irregular. I’d think it would be difficult for her to have a relationship with anyone who follows a regular work schedule. Maybe she just doesn’t have time to date.”

“Oh, I was just curious.”

“Oh, duh,” Dana uttered, just getting it. “If you’re asking me about her sexual preference, I honestly don’t know. Are you interested?”

“No. Not really. Geez, give me a break here. It’s been less than a week since my relationship ended. It’s too soon. It’s just that she’s so darned cute and likable.” Amanda refrained from mentioning that Mallory had one of the most kissable mouths she’d ever seen, classifying it as too much information.

“Think about it, Amanda. Your relationship with Bernie has been over since you found out she’d cheated on you the first time, a couple of years ago. You’ve been pulling back your feelings from her for a long time. Seriously, be honest. How much have you missed your relationship since you ended it?”

“Yes, I guess you’re right. I think I’ve had more of a sense of relief than anything else. Still, I don’t know what I’m going to do, where I’m going to end up, or even where I’m headed.” Feeling suddenly fatigued and not wanting to talk about Bernie any more, Amanda stood up and hugged her friend. “I’m bushed. I’m heading up to bed. Thanks again, Dana. You’re a lifesaver. I’ll see you in the morning.”

***

 Over the next several days, Dana and Amanda spent their time talking and relaxing together as only old friends can. Dana had several things to do to prepare for her trip, so they focused on getting together what she needed. Too soon, the time came for Dana’s departure and Amanda drove her to the airport. Each reluctant to say goodbye, they lingered over small talk for a few minutes before she gathered her belongings.

“I’m glad you’ll be here to run my car.”

“Thanks for letting me use it. I love you, you know. You’re the best friend I could ever ask for.”

“I know that…and don’t you forget it.” Dana grinned and winked at her friend before she pulled her close for a final hug. “I’ll be in touch when I get settled in. If you need me, text me and I’ll call you back as soon as I can. Don’t forget, I’m about six hours ahead of you in time.” After a final good-bye, she gave a jaunty wave and disappeared into the terminal.

***

 The day after Dana left for Italy, Amanda spent time reacquainting herself with the area and buying miscellaneous items that didn’t get packed when she’d hastily left home. She shopped for food for the rest of the week, stocking up on staples and buying some snacks in case Mallory dropped by. A brief stop at the video store yielded two of her favorite old movies to rent.

Amanda pulled into Dana’s driveway and glanced over towards Mallory’s house. The car in the driveway indicated that her neighbor was home. Once inside Dana’s house Amanda unpacked her purchases, tidied up the kitchen, and gave some thought to dinner. Suddenly feeling very lonely and a bit panicky with nothing to do, she decided that the safest and most productive thing would be to get back to work. Amanda had set up her computer the previous day and knew some extra hours of work would be required to assure she would get caught up, just not today—she couldn’t do it today. Instead, she sat down at her computer and pulled up her novel.

The previous year she’d invested in dictation software that allowed her to speak into a microphone and control the computer with her voice. She’d conquered the training period and, once she’d mastered the program, she found it worked very well. Being able to dictate certainly helped alleviate the typing induced pain in her neck that radiated downward between her shoulder blades. When she had to sit at the keyboard to type her work, she suffered constantly. Now, instead of perching over her keyboard at a desk, she could just sit on the recliner with the computer on her lap and dictate. Amanda hadn’t written anything for over a week, making it necessary to go back and reread the last few pages to orient herself to where she was in the story. She checked her notes and was just about to begin dictating when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“It’s Mallory, you know, from next door.” The hesitancy in her voice conveyed her nervousness.

“Hey! I almost gave you a call when I got back from dropping off Dana. I didn’t because I was afraid I’d wake you up.”

“No, I worked midnight to eight a.m. this week. I slept a few hours when I got home. I have some time off before I swap to the four p.m. to midnight shift. It’ll take me a day or two to get acclimated. This is the last rotation change I’ll have to do for a while. Working midnight to eight a.m., I have fewer interruptions. I use the late night, quieter hours to work on reports and budgeting, and to meet with the night supervisors. Once that’s done, I’ll go back to covering day and evening shifts. In a couple of weeks, I have new staff coming on board. These two I just hired should be easy, since they’re very experienced nurses. I was lucky to get them. I usually stay on schedule with the new folks as much as I can for the first few weeks, just to make sure they get all the training they need. Often those in my position don’t have to work shifts. Because I work in a small hospital, I have the flexibility to set up my own schedule to suit my own needs, as long as I’m available for staff and planning meetings. I prefer a hands-on approach to training and supervision. Sometimes, I cover part of one shift then part of another. I find it keeps channels of communication open and makes me more accessible to my staff.”

“Our jobs have one thing in common, we both have that unrelenting element. Even though I finish an article or project, there’s always another to deal with right away. No breaks from that sense of deadline,” said Amanda.

“That’s an astute observation. Yes, I do feel that way and, sometimes, I wish I could clone myself so that I could be in more than one place at a time. I know the paperwork is an unavoidable evil of the job, but I’d much rather be working with the staff and the patients. The supervisory position pays better. However lately, I’ve been feeling like there’s more to life than just money.” Mallory shrugged, a natural gesture indicating some frustration, even though no one was there to see it. After a brief pause, she revealed, “My work schedule leaves very little time for socialization.” She chuckled. “Wow! Where did that come from? I hope that wasn’t too much information. You’re very easy to talk to, you know…and a good listener.”

“Thanks. I feel very comfortable with you also.” She hoped that Mallory could feel her smiling through the phone.

“Maybe I’d better hang up now, before I disclose where I’ve hidden my family jewels.”

Several quick comments ran through Amanda’s head in response to that straight line, but she settled for the most benign. “Well, in keeping with that sentiment, could I interest you in dinner, another opportunity to discover your secrets, and maybe a video? I was thinking of having grilled hotdogs and a salad.”

“That sounds delicious…even if it’s not healthy, it’s a great suggestion. Think there might be enough time before dinner for us to take a walk?”

“Sure, that sounds wonderful. It’ll help me wake up. Shall I come collect you, or do you want to come here?”

“I’ll come to you. See you in a few minutes.”

Amanda realized that her heart was beating a bit faster than usual, and she recognized that she was excited by the prospect of spending time alone with Mallory. A few moments later as they left the house, Amanda gestured for Mallory to lead the way. “I’m not sure where to go from here. I’m sure you have a trail you like.”

“How much time do we have?” Mallory glanced at her watch.

“Until about a half hour before you reach famished. We just have to grill up the hotdogs. I have potato salad, coleslaw, and some tomatoes to slice. Easy as can be.”

“There’s about a two mile walk I like a little ways up the road here.” Mallory indicated a path a short distance away. “Will that be okay with you?”

“Perfect.”

The first few minutes were quiet as they adjusted their strides to one that was comfortable for each of them. They were well matched in height, so it wasn’t much of an issue. They fell into an easy, ground-consuming pace and before they knew it, they were deep into the shaded woods. They walked for about thirty-five minutes before pausing to rest on a fieldstone wall overlooking a small creek.

“What a beautiful spot,” said Amanda glancing around. “Just gorgeous.”

They sat in companionable silence for a while until Mallory nudged Amanda and gestured with her head upstream. A deer emerged from the brush and lowered her head to drink from the water.

“Wish I had my camera with me,” Amanda whispered.

The deer looked up, noticed them, and melted back into the undergrowth.

“Isn’t it amazing that a large animal like a deer can disappear into the brush like that with hardly a sound?”

“Absolutely,” agreed Amanda.

“So, tell me a little about yourself.” Amanda propped her chin on her hand and waited for Mallory’s response.

“I finished my degree by attending college in New York City, after which I returned home to Philly. I moved back to New York State a little more than a year ago to take the supervisory position at the hospital. I fell in love with this area while I was in school because of its rural nature. I wanted to advance in my profession, which was something this supervisory role at the hospital offered me. It didn’t take long for me to discover that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.”

“What do you mean?”

Mallory shrugged. “Don’t get me wrong. Although there are numerous aspects of the job that I like, there are just as many that I don’t. Once I began working in the supervisory role, I discovered that I missed providing direct care to the patients, and I hate the report writing and the politics of the budgetary process. In the plus column, I do enjoy helping to decide hospital policy and training the new employees. So there are tradeoffs in everything and since I don’t hate the job, I’ve made myself contented.”

“Does the shift work bother you?”

“Not any more. I’ve adjusted to it I think. It makes socialization difficult. It’s sometimes hard for me to find people to do things with. It’s nice that you’re able to join me today.” Mallory smiled and turned toward her right. Pointing she said, “See that path there? That’s a loop I usually add onto the shorter trail if I take this route with my bike.”

“I can’t wait to do that. If we walk or bike again tomorrow, I want to bring my camera.” We should be getting back. I’m starting to get hungry. How about you?”

***

 They retraced their path back to the house. Amanda opened the fridge and gathered the ingredients for a salad. “I’ll start the grill if you’ll make the salad,”

“Deal. You want onions in yours?”

“Sure, why not. Throw whatever you have in there, I’ll eat anything.”

They ate at the counter in the kitchen. Mallory pushed her plate back then wiped her mouth with her napkin. “That was great. I’m stuffed.”

“In my one concession to good nutrition, I have fruit for dessert.”

Mallory laughed. “You might need more than that to make amends for those hotdogs.”

“Would you like to stay and watch a movie with me? I picked up a couple of movies earlier.” Amanda retrieved the DVDs and slid them across the table.

Mallory assessed her choices. “You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorites. However, since I’ve never seen Overboard, let’s watch that one,”

They cleaned up the dishes and finished dessert. Amanda set up the DVD. The light and funny movie had them sharing laughter as they watched.

“That was wonderful. Any movie that makes me laugh out loud gets five stars in my book.” Mallory stood and stretched. “Thank you so much for dinner and the video.”

Amanda walked her guest to the door to bid her good night. “I mentioned to you that I finally have a couple of days off. Would you be interested in taking a bike ride tomorrow? We could go a bit farther since we’ll have more time, see some new scenery, and maybe take a ride around the lake. I’ll pack us a lunch and we can make a day of it.”

Amanda didn’t hesitate at all. She could write at night, or in the morning before they left for their ride. “That sounds great. Would it be okay to leave around ten? If I get up early, I can get some writing done before we take off. What do you think?”

“Sounds like a plan to me. Okay, it’s a date then.” Mallory gave Amanda a quick hug and left without looking back.

Hmm, date. Did she mean ‘date’ as in a friendly get together or date as in ‘date date?’ Which do I want it to be? She wasn’t even sure if Mallory was gay or straight. Since she’d recognized and accepted her own attraction to women, Amanda had made it a policy to only date other lesbians because she didn’t want to bring a straight woman out. She’d seen too many of those relationships end in heartbreak when reality faced them. The pressures of coming out to parents, family, and friends too often sent them running back into the folds of heterosexuality, leaving a wake of pain behind. Amanda’s own coming out had been painful enough. She told three of her closest friends about her ‘secret’ only to have two of them cut her from their lives. Only Dana had stood by her. Telling her family had brought additional heartbreak.

***

 Amanda locked up the house before she went upstairs. There was ample time to get in a couple of good hours of work before she went to bed. She logged into her email to see if the new assignment from her boss had arrived. In addition to the standard batch of spam she didn’t need to bother with, there was an email from Bernie. She ignored it not wanting to ruin the good mood she was in after her evening with Mallory, by reading what she expected would be a poison pen note from Bernie. She had closed that door and was happy leaving things as they were.

Before snapping the lid closed on her laptop, Amanda noticed that it was just after one o’clock. She was pleased with her accomplishment of finishing another chapter in her book plus a short article that she’d been putting off writing since arriving at Dana’s. It was a relief to finish it and email her submission. After setting the alarm for nine, she slid into bed between the soft sheets and fell asleep almost immediately.

***

 Refreshed after a solid night’s sleep, Amanda lingered in the shower then ate a breakfast of cereal and fruit. She was just finishing a cup of tea when Mallory knocked at the door.

“Good morning.” Mallory’s greeting was as cheerful as she looked. Dressed in a bright red jersey and black body conforming biking shorts, she entered the kitchen and took a seat next to Amanda at the breakfast bar, but not before Amanda got to check out Mallory’s tight body in the outfit that fit her like a second skin.

“Want some breakfast or some tea? The water is still hot,” Amanda pointed to the kettle on the stove.

“No, thanks, I ate already, but I’m out of juice. Do you have any?”

“There’s some OJ in the fridge. Help yourself.” Amanda allowed herself to appreciate the view as Mallory leaned over to get the juice from the fridge.There’s no doubt about it—I find Mallory’s sporty good looks and tight body very attractive. Her eyes, an interesting blue-green, appeared greener in the morning sunlight streaming through the kitchen window. Her lashes were darker than her paler hair color, almost black in fact, giving the appearance that she was wearing mascara although she was not. Mallory is cute, for sure, but her smile transforms her face from cute into lovely. She has a very kissable mouth, especially the way her lips turn up at the corners giving the impression that she is always just about to smile.

After finishing their beverages, Amanda rolled Dana’s mountain bike out of the garage and they set off following the path they had taken the previous day. They took a trail that headed north at the first intersection and rode for about an hour before stopping for a break. Mallory produced some nuts and raisins from her seat bag. She shared them with Amanda who, in her pack, was carrying bottles of water, one of which she shared with Mallory.

Amanda wiped her brow. “This is a great ride. Not too steep, but it still presents enough of a challenge for someone like me who’s out of practice. You’re definitely a much better rider than I am.”

“You have to be patient with yourself. When was the last time you rode?”

“At least a year or more ago. I got focused on working and really didn’t pay attention to my health as much as I should have. I’m glad you’re here to encourage me to not just sit around and veg out.”

Mallory let her eyes travel the length of Amanda’s body, boldly assessing without appearing the least bit self-conscious. “You look to be in good shape. You must have done something, because you’re still fit.”

“I used to jog or walk, but not often enough. We had a gym in the basement of the house, so I could go there and work out occasionally.” What was that look that flashed across Mallory’s face? What did I say?

“Maybe we should get on with it. Think you can manage another twenty-five minutes or so? There’s a wonderful place to stop up the trail a bit further. We can eat lunch and have a rest before we head back.”

They rode to the spot Mallory had described and stopped for lunch. Amanda was tired. She hoped she’d be able to make it back and that she wouldn’t embarrass herself by having to ask Mallory to stop too frequently. “So, do you ride often, then?”

“As often as I can. When I work the day shift, I try to ride to work if my schedule allows and the weather permits it. Other than that, I do try to ride at least five miles two or three times a week. Time is always an issue though, isn’t it? Do you find that you generally seem to find time for everyone but yourself?”

Amanda nodded her agreement.

“My mom always told me, ‘Pay yourself first.’ Of course, she was talking about saving money. She tutored me to think of myself as a bill that I owed and to be sure that I paid myself every pay period just like the telephone, electric and gas bills. I maintain that habit to this day. In the past, I’ve always been reasonably well disciplined financially, but not always personally, especially as it relates to exercise. When I moved up here I decided to generalize my mom’s rule to include health. So, now I follow my mom’s advice and pay myself first by taking time to exercise. Now I’m doing better about putting my health and fitness at the top of my daily list of things to do.”

“Sounds like a good policy. Maybe I’ll try to emulate your good example. I mean, I always enjoy myself when I’m getting exercise, but left to my own devices, I often just can’t muster up the initiative,” Amanda finished up her sandwich and took a long swig from her water bottle.

“Well, then, I’m glad you’re here. We can motivate each other. Besides its more fun doing it with someone, isn’t it?”

“So you’re close to your mom?” Amanda asked.

“Yes. I’m especially close to my mother. My dad and I don’t always see eye to eye about all things, but we still get along. I think they gave me a good start in life and I love them both. I wish we lived closer sometimes, but I haven’t helped that by moving too far away for them to pop over. I was thinking of inviting them up for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. I haven’t made a final decision yet. My family usually tries to get together for at least one of the holidays, but it’s getting to be a bit labor intensive for them the older they get.”

They sat quietly together enjoying the scenery. Mallory nodded toward the clearing. “Look, a chipmunk.”

Amanda followed the progress of the cute little creature as it scurried furtively from the sanctuary of one form of vegetation or shrub to another, darting quickly from beneath a leaf of some plant to another place of safety. Suddenly, he slipped into a hole that would have been virtually invisible had they not been watching so intently.

Amanda furrowed her brow. “Wonder if he has a family in his little burrow.”

“Don’t know,” Mallory replied. “Maybe we’ll see if we watch a little longer. What about you, Amanda? Tell me about your family. You have sisters, brothers?”

“My parents are both deceased. They were smokers and ended up going long before they should have. Dad had lung cancer and mom had breast cancer. I have one brother.”

“You must be close, since it’s just the two of you now.”

Amanda shrugged. “We used to be.” She paused. Amanda assumed that Dana would have told Mallory that she was a lesbian. “Um…when I came out, not only did I lose some of my friends, but my parents also disowned me and my older brother stopped speaking to me. The worst part is that he refused to allow me to visit with my nieces and nephew, a punishment that I still can’t forgive him for to this day. Despite his refusal to allow me to see the kids, I continued to send the kids cards and gifts on their birthdays and other holidays, but never receive any indication from my brother or the kids that they arrived at their proper destination. On the QT, my sister-in-law sends me a picture of the kids each year along with a note and an update on the highlights of their lives. When she sent the first photo, she begged me not to let him know.”

“Thank God for your sister-in-law. At least she has sense, in addition to being kind. But never hearing from your brother must be a heartbreaking dismissal, especially since you said you were close before you revealed your sexual orientation.

“Yes. Initially it was devastating. Now, it’s just painful.” Amanda looked away.

The play of emotions across Amanda’s face hinted that, obviously, there was more to the story, but Amanda wasn’t ready to share the depth of hurt her brother’s dismissal had inflicted. After such a wonderful day, she didn’t want to bring down her spirits by digging up how deeply his rejection hurt her. Amanda was grateful that Mallory was willing to allow her to reveal things at her own pace and to not push by asking questions. The silence between them was comfortable.

Referring to the chipmunk, Mallory said, “Well, I suppose the little guy is tucked in for now. You feel rested enough to start back?”

“Ready when you are, I guess.” Amanda wanted to ask Mallory more about her family, but Mallory was already packing up the remnants of their lunch and seemed eager to get under way. There’s plenty of time, I guess, maybe tonight when we have dinner.

Before she swung her leg over the seat of her bike Mallory said, “You’ll probably be glad to hear that the path home is much less strenuous and the ride goes much more quickly than the ride up…I know I sure am.”

Standing together next to their bikes, they took a few minutes to appreciate and comment on the beauty around them. It won’t be too many weeks before the leaves begin to change,”

“I know. The fall colors of the forest will only add to the beauty of the mountains in the background.”

The comfortable, sunny weather contributed to a wonderful day that the new friends were sharing. The path that Mallory selected for the ride home was exactly as promised, easier than the earlier ride out, because it varied between being flat or, in places, slightly downhill.

“There’s only one steep part that can be difficult. When I signal you to be careful, either get off and walk your bike or take it very carefully. That one curve up ahead can be tricky.”

They had ridden a short distance down the trail when Mallory signaled with a downward motion of her hand and they dismounted to survey the difficult part of trail ahead. With Mallory’s guidance, they both navigated the trickiest bit of trail. Things were easier after that for both riders. They stopped to rest twice before taking on the final leg of their ride that brought them back home.

“I don’t know about you, but I need a shower,” Amanda said as she toed the kickstand into place.

“I know what you mean.” Mallory stretched out her legs before she turned toward Amanda. “That was a great workout, though. I think I might add a soak in my hot tub to my agenda as well. Want to join me? I bet it would make you less sore tomorrow.”

“I definitely can’t decline that offer. Let me wash up, get my suit, and I’ll meet you at your place as quickly as I can.”

Mallory gave a wave as she pedaled towards her garage.

Chapter 3

A

manda washed off, before going in search of her suit. Unable to find it quickly and knowing that Mallory was waiting for her, she gave up searching and settled for a pair of lightweight jogging shorts and an old sleeveless T-shirt that she threw on.

“Well, at least they’re clean. Can’t wear what I don’t have with me. Hopefully, she’ll understand,” she mumbled.

After gathering a towel and a comb, Amanda cut across the back yard to Mallory’s house. The hot tub was recessed into the deck and Mallory was already in it, submerged to her chin in the furiously bubbling water. The air had already grown cooler since they returned from their ride causing steam to rise from the water.

“I’m sorry I took so long. I couldn’t find my suit. Hope what I have on will be okay.” Amanda tugged at the shoulder of her T-shirt.

“You don’t need anything but your skin. Get out of those clothes and climb in. You’ll feel one hundred per cent better.”

“You sure?”

“Yes, come on. We’re not getting any younger.” Mallory softened the words with a smile and a wink.

Since high school, Amanda couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t feel shy about being naked in front of anyone who was not her lover. The little voice inside the left side of her head said, “Grow up, she’s a nurse, for God’s sake. It’s not anything she hasn’t seen before.” To which the voice on the other side of her head replied, “Yeah, but she hasn’t seen mine before.” Amanda looked around for a sheltered spot where she could remove her clothes and found none. She also noted the neighbors wouldn’t have a view of the deck area.

A devilish grin accompanied Mallory’s giggle and amused, twinkling eyes. “Come on, nobody can see you but me.”

Amanda slipped out of the shorts and took off her T-shirt, leaving the final bastion of modesty for last. Finally, in one quick motion, she bent and stripped off her underwear. As she stepped down into the hot tub, Mallory appreciatively swept her eyes over Amanda’s body from head to toe. It was obvious that she didn’t miss anything in her quick perusal. “So what’s the significance of the tattoo?”

Amanda had a bar code tattoo just below her navel done in rainbow colors. Ignoring the rainbow coloration, she replied, “Just my date of birth. The tattoo seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve never had any doubts about my sexuality and have always described myself as ‘gay from the day I was born.’ So in my drunken state one night, I thought the tattoo expressed that sentiment perfectly. It wasn’t anything I’ve ever regretted doing exactly. Given a second chance to make the decision, I might have considered locating it in a less public place.” Amanda hadn’t noticed any change in Mallory’s attitude when she mentioned coming out before, but she still waited to see if Mallory’s attitude toward her would change.

“What a neat idea. I like it a lot and there’s nothing wrong with the location you chose. I don’t have any tattoos…I’m too cowardly.”

“Ha! You can dish those needles out, but can’t take them, eh?”

“Busted!” Mallory chuckled at the reference.

Amanda felt herself respond to Mallory’s endearing laugh and warm smile. Once Amanda settled into the water, the two women enjoyed the relaxing heat of the water in shared silence. They soaked in the hot tub together for about ten minutes until the timer chimed.

“I’m cooked. I think I need to get out, but you can probably do another ten minutes or so. I was in for a while before you arrived. How about I go start some dinner? You’ll join me, won’t you?”

Amanda nodded her agreement and Mallory reset the timer for an additional ten minutes, stood up and walked to the steps providing Amanda an opportunity to appreciate the woman’s well-toned body. She felt herself warm in response and was amazed that she could be so attracted to someone so soon after she had ended her relationship with Bernie. After Mallory’s departure, as she soaked alone in the tub, she realized that Dana was right about the fact that she’d emotionally left her relationship with Bernie long ago when she’d learned that Bernie had been unfaithful the first time, or at least the first time she had caught her. She suspected there might have been many others she didn’t know about.

The timer turned off the jets in the hot tub. Amanda stepped out and dried off. She still felt awkward standing outside completely nude, even though she was alone and knew no one was able to see her. From the corner, where the hot tub was tucked, to the sliding door was nearly the whole length of the house. She didn’t feature making the dash naked, so she got out of the tub, hid in the shadows as best she could before drying off. Quickly throwing on her clothes, she scooted across the length of the deck. Her soft tap at the window drew an invitation to come in from Mallory. Amanda entered the living room of the cozy cottage and appreciatively absorbed the welcoming room. Decorations were in warm earthy colors with splashes of red as the accent color. Two rich reddish brown leather recliners, facing each other, were placed strategically on either side of the fireplace. A leather sofa in the same shade appeared soft and inviting. It sat opposite the fire, providing a straight on view of the flames through the glass doors that covered the hearth.

“I’m in here, around the corner,” Mallory called.

Amanda, moving in the general direction of Mallory’s voice, made her way into the modern kitchen. The cherry cabinets and granite countertops with swirls of deep burgundy accents complimented each other and made for a pleasing combination. “Do you want to eat in here at the counter or in the dining room?” Mallory held two plates, napkins, and silverware in her hands.

“Let’s eat in here. We don’t have to be fancy. What’s for dinner?”

Mallory smiled. “Hungry?”

“You bet. It’s probably a good idea that we’re not going to the dining room. I might gnaw at the table leg and ruin the good table.”

Mallory chuckled. “Well, then it’s good we’re staying here. I defrosted some sauce I made a couple of weeks ago. We’re having pasta, my special recipe meatballs, and a huge salad. Oh yeah, and some garlic bread.” She gestured between the sink and the wine rack. “Water or wine?

“Wine. Want me to open it?”

Mallory handed the dishes and silverware to Amanda. “How about you set the table and I’ll finish up everything else in here.” When the meal was ready, the two women sat down to their dinner. Mallory held up her glass and offered a toast. “To a wonderful new friendship.”

“Absolutely,” replied Amanda. “Cheers!”

“I’ve really enjoyed the time we’ve spent together the last two days. I love having company for dinner and having someone to enjoy hiking and biking with has been a gift. There have been many times that I’ve been lonely since I moved here,” Mallory admitted with characteristic candor.

“I can understand that. It must be difficult meeting people when you work such irregular hours. How do you even begin to establish friendships, let alone find anyone to date?”

Mallory shrugged. “Yes, it’s tough. Even tougher now that I’m in a supervisory role, which eliminates most of the people I know at the hospital from the friendship pool. It would be too awkward to be friends outside of work with people I supervise and impossible to date anyone from there. I just wouldn’t be comfortable. A few months ago, I met a police officer named Jo, who is someone I like a lot. She was on duty at the hospital guarding a prisoner. Because we both work shift work, we’ve only managed to get together sporadically. I played cards with her and a couple of her friends a few times. So, honestly, the closest friend I have here is Dana and unfortunately, between her schedule and mine, we don’t see each other all that often.”

“So how do you go about meeting people?”

Mallory paused before she responded, giving thought to her answer. “It seems that I just wait patiently for my neighbor to invite a lovely woman friend of hers to stay at her house—someone with whom I immensely enjoy spending time.. Problem solved.” Mallory winked at Amanda and flashed a wide grin, displaying perfect teeth. “We really have to thank Dana when we talk to her. She’s done well by both of us.”

The two women cleaned up the remnants of dinner, storing the leftovers, before they carried their wine into the living room. “Think we need a fire?” Mallory asked.

“Not unless you want one. I’m going to have to be going soon, anyway. I have to check my email to make sure everything was okay with the article I just submitted, and I wanted to write a quick email to Dana.”

“If you’d like, you can log into your email account from here. You could check your mail and we could write a note to Dana together.”

“Great idea. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?”

The email to Dana was great fodder for laughter for both women. They commented on Dana’s great choice in friends and wrote a breezy, lighthearted account of their day together. Without discussion, neither seemed to feel that it was necessary to describe their soak in the hot tub to their friend, but they mentioned the delicious dinners and how much they both enjoyed sharing meals the past two days.

Amanda reread the letter aloud one final time to allow for edits and corrections. “Okay?”

“It sounds good to me. Hit the send button.” Mallory stood and stretched. “I think, after our workout today, we both may be a bit too sore tomorrow for another ride. If that turns out to be true, I wouldn’t mind going into town for a leisurely lunch and a movie. I’d love to have some company. Are you up for it?”

“Sure, that sounds great, but I have to do a few hours of work sometimetomorrow. Could we do lunch after 12:30? Maybe we should check what time the movies start, decide what we want to see first, and then let the movie time dictate when we eat.”

Mallory nodded her agreement. “Works for me. I’m going to use the facilities. Do you mind looking up the movies for us?”

“Sure. Not a problem.”

“I’ll be right back.”

Amanda reached for the laptop and turned the screen to face her. The screensaver was rotating through several pictures. Each picture showed Mallory with a very attractive blonde woman. They were touching in each picture, either clowning for the camera or standing with their arms linked or one behind the other with their hands on the other’s shoulders. The next photo was a picture of the two women close, face-to-face, looking into each other’s eyes. Mallory was kissing the other woman on the nose. The lovely, fun photo revealed a deep intimacy between the pair. The meaning left little, if any, doubt in Amanda’s mind that Mallory and this woman had a romantic relationship with each other.

When she heard the toilet flush she quickly looked up the local movie theater. By the time Mallory returned, she had the current show times up on the screen. She didn’t know if she should address the information that she’d just learned about Mallory or wait for her to disclose the relationship on her own. She decided not to mention anything right away, but before she allowed herself to become too attached to Mallory, she needed to know something about the status of her relationship with the attractive blonde. Perhaps they still had a long distance involvement.

“So, did you pick out a movie?” Mallory asked as she returned to the living room.

“No,” Amanda smiled. “Thought I’d wait for you so we can pick it together. I have the list here.”

They selected a movie that began at two-fifteen and agreed to hold lunch untilone o’clock.

“Do you have a favorite place for lunch?” Amanda asked.

“Yes, I do, and I think you’ll like it too.” Mallory quickly pulled up the restaurant’s website and clicked on their lunch menu.

“Umm, I’m sure I can find about ten things I’d love to eat on this menu,” Amanda exclaimed. “Okay, I’d better get back home so I can get up and do what I have to do tomorrow before we meet. Thank you, Mallory, for a very enjoyable day and an amazing dinner. Shall I pick you up tomorrow at what…twelve-thirty or so?”

“That would be perfect.” Mallory walked Amanda to the door. “I had a great time today and am really looking forward to another day with you tomorrow.” She gave Amanda’s hand a quick squeeze as Amanda slipped out the door and headed home.

Before stepping off the deck, Amanda glanced back to find Mallory watching her departure, a sad expression on her face. Amanda gave a quick wave, which Mallory rewarded with a sweet smile.

Author Spotlight Welcomes Author A.J. Adaire

I introduced myself to A.J. Adaire when I saw her book Sunset Island as the #1 Lesbian Fiction book on Amazon. Yes, I had a fan girl moment. LOL.  I’m delighted to welcome her to my Author Spotlight event.

 

sm aj web

CONTEST>>>

The week long contest will be held in conjunction with AJ Adaire’s October 22, 2013 appearance in the Author Spotlight on Eden Glenn’s blog

Top prize is a $25 Amazon gift certificate,
2nd and 3rd place winners win a copy of Sunset Island  

BIO

Twenty years ago, I wrote my first book just to see if I could do it. The novel occupied space on my bookshelf, unread for nearly twenty years until, one day while in a cleaning frenzy, I considered disposing of the neatly stacked but now age-yellowed pages. As I began to read the long forgotten work, I was surprised to discover that the story was enjoyable! Editing and retyping the first book provided a new sense of accomplishment and additional tales followed. Completion of This is Fitting encouraged me to write four more romance novels. I Love My Life and Sunset Island were followed by Awaiting My Assignment and its sequel, Anything Your Heart Desires and One Day Longer Than Forever 

Now retired, there is all the time in the world to write. I live on the east coast with my partner of twenty-eight years. Because we love a challenge, we provide a loving home for two spoiled cats instead of a dog! In addition to writing, any spare time is devoted to reading, mastering new computer programs, and socializing with friends.

EG: What a wonderful success story. I love hearing about your journey. And can I say your cat is beautiful? I had two Siamese cats years ago while in college. At the moment I have an orange Tabby, Peyton who guest stars in one of my books. LOL

I asked AJ some questions about her current release Sunset Island.

1.    Who is your favorite character in this book and why? 

Like most of my readers, my favorite character is Lindy. She is someone with whom I’d enjoy spending the day. I especially enjoy her playful personality and openness to engage in new adventures. Like me, she is both a teacher and an author, so I suspect we’d enjoy chatting.

2. What inspires you for your stories?

I guess I’d have to say the characters inspire me to tell their story.

Most ideas for my stories come to me when I’m driving my car or doing a mindless, repetitive task. I’ve yet to master the ability to sit down at the computer and say to myself, “Okay, what shall I write about today?”

For me, the hardest part of a story is to decide the basic scenario, which is how the two lead characters will come to reveal their attraction for each other. In a ‘straight’ romance, where the main characters are male and female, the potential for a relationship is always assumed to be there.

In writing a same-sex romance, the author always needs to decide first if the characters will be ‘out’ lesbians, two women who have never experienced a same-sex attraction before or, lastly, if one character is a lesbian and the other historically straight. If both characters are open about their sexuality, it’s no more difficult to develop a story line than it would be for a male/female pairing.

It gets trickier if any of the other scenarios exist. So, once I determine the basic scenario, I try to figure out how they’ll reveal their feelings to each other. Once that part is clear, I begin to develop the rest of the story by making some brief notes. Only then, after all that has occurred, am I able to sit down to write the story and allow the characters to reveal the rest of the story.

Sometimes the characters surprise me. For example, in Sunset Island, the original story was to be Ren and Brooke’s. As I was writing it, I realized I didn’t have enough substance for a novel for those two characters. Lindy presented herself to me, and in order to move the story forward, Brooke had to ‘go.’ When I killed off Brooke, my partner called me a murderer for two weeks. Then she, too, fell in love with Lindy and peace was once again restored in our household.

EG: I laughed out loud reading about your killing off of Brooke. LOL.  Our creative process appears to be very similar.  I get a lot of thinking in while driving.

3. Tell us something no one else knows about you.

I can’t abide the taste of peanut butter despite the fact that Ren and Lindy, my main characters in Sunset Island, each relied on it as one of their primary sources of sustenance.

EG: OH NO. I’m going to side with Ren and Lindy on this one.

4.   What genre classification would you put on your book and what would you consider the heat level of the romance? 

 I write ‘Lesbian Romance.’ As to heat level, depending on the book and which characters are involved, the love scenes tend to be “warm” to “hot.” All love scenes are loving and consensual. My books are easy to read, feel good, f/f romances with not too much angst. The characters may encounter day-to-day obstacles often faced by real people, but the ending is always happy…they are romances after all!

EG: I love the way you’ve described this. Feel Good! F/F Romance.

5.   When did you start writing and what kicked off your passion to be an author?

I began writing twenty years ago. I used to buy lesbian novels from Naiad Press, back in the late 80’s. During a huge snowstorm we were snowed in and I was bored because I’d already read all the books I’d purchased. I said to my partner, “I think I could write one of these stories.”  She dared me to try. So, I wrote my first novel just to prove I could. Twenty years later, after I retired, I had more free time and began again, initially by editing the first book. For the other books, I have no excuse!

More information about my stories, and about me, can be found at the following sites:

http://www.ajadaire.com

http://www.ajadairebooks.com

http://www.desertpalmpress.com/our-books/SunsetIsland.html

http://www.desertpalmpress.com/

ebook sunset island 72dpi

Sunset Island — A Lesbian Romance
by AJ Adaire
Published by Desert Palm Press

Owning a beautiful Inn on a private island off the coast of Maine—what could be more conducive to happiness? Ren Madison is certain her life couldn’t be more perfect. She treasures her loving relationship with her older brother Jack, his wife Marie, and dotes on her niece Laura. She has a passionate and supportive relationship with her partner Brooke, and a successful business that doesn’t require her undivided attention, allowing her ample time to pursue her true passion, her art.

Then, in an instant, Ren’s idyllic world crumbles. Concern grows that Ren may never fully recover from her loss.

Marie runs into an old college friend, Dr. Lindy Caprini, at a convention. Lindy, a multi-lingual professor, divulges that she is looking for an artist to illustrate the book she’s writing. Marie instantly suggests her artistically talented sister-in-law, Ren, as someone to do the illustrations. To make working together on the book easier, Lindy takes a year sabbatical from her job, breaks off her relationship with her boyfriend, and moves to Ren’s island. Ren soon discovers that the beautiful and mischievous Lindy is a talented author and a witty conversationalist. Their collaboration on the book leads to a close, light-hearted, and flirtatious friendship. Will their collaboration end there?

Excerpt:

Chapter 1: Look At Those Eyes
September 2005
Ren Madison watched out of the office window of the marina she owned with her brother, Jack, as the door of the out-of-state car opened and a pair of feet clad in comfortable shoes hit the gravel of the parking lot. A grin slowly curled her lips as the rest of Dr. Lindy Caprini emerged from the sports car. The woman stood and stretched before she slowly pivoted to take in the scenery, finally stopping to enjoy the gorgeous view of the ocean.

The picture on the university’s website certainly didn’t do her justice. Look at those eyes. I’d love to paint her. Collaborating with the lovely Lindy to illustrate her book should prove to be extremely pleasant working conditions, indeed. Ren made a mental note to call her sister-in-law, Marie, to thank her again for referring her to the alluring Professor Caprini.

Lindy pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head and tilted her face upwards, eyes closed, soaking in the warmth of the sun. As if she felt Ren’s eyes on her, she turned to glance at the window of the marina office where the dark haired woman sat watching. She smiled and tossed a jaunty wave before turning away to retrieve her coat from the back seat of the car.

Sad that her ability to ogle unobserved was no longer possible she closed up the file she was working on. Ren stood, quickly strode to the door, and went outside to welcome her visitor.

Tomorrow Author Spotlight with A.J. Adaire

Author Spotlight tomorrow I will have A.J. Adaire as my guest. Ms. Adaire is a number 1 best selling Amazon author of lesbian fiction.

She is running a contest this week in honor of being my guest. Check it out and be sure to stop by tomorrow to visit with her during my Author Spotlight Event.

CONTEST>>>

The week long contest will be held in conjunction with AJ Adaire’s October 22, 2013 appearance in the Author Spotlight on Eden Glenn’s blog

Top prize is a $25 Amazon gift certificate,
2nd and 3rd place winners win a copy of Sunset Island

 

 

 

Author Spotlight – Eliza Lentzski

I am thrilled to welcome Eliza Lentzski to Author Spotlight today. Her book Winter Jacket intrigues me as a wonderful character study between two women searching for ‘something’ in a world where they find each other and might be what they least expect and yet most need.  I’ll look forward to reading this one.

1. Who is your favorite character in this book and why? 

Can I say all of them?  No?  Okay.  It’s hard, as the author, not to have an affinity for every character you create; there’s a little bit of yourself in every one of them and that makes you like them all the more.  For the protagonists, I love Elle’s social awkwardness.  Despite her advanced education, she has a hard time completing sentences and I find that endearing.  I also really love Hunter’s quiet intensity.  She’s not going to be intimidated by anything life throws at her, and she’s especially not going to let herself be intimidated by Dr. Elle Graft.

But my favorite character in Winter Jacket is Elle’s best friend, Troian.   She gets the best lines of dialogue and is that comedic relief that keeps the characters from taking themselves too seriously.  She kept me as a writer from taking myself too seriously as well.  Troian is really the ultimate best friend.  She’s loyal to a fault, she always has Elle’s best interests in mind, but she’s not afraid to kick Elle in the head when she’s self-destructing.  She and Nikole are certainly the voice of reason in this book when Elle seems hell-bent on ruining everything.

2. What inspires you for your stories?

I find inspiration just about everywhere.  It’s in the weather and my Midwest environment – a particularly stubborn winter; a fresh, airy spring day.  It’s in the music I listen to that sets the mood for particular scenes.  Every couple I’ve ever written has a Go-to song or musical artist that, regardless of how stubborn my Writer’s Block may be, successfully chisels through that stagnancy.

3. Tell us something no one else knows about you.

That’s actually a hard question because I consider myself an open book.  Something that’s probably unexpected though is my obsession with spectator sports.  On a piece of paper I’m a writer and a historian with a PhD, so when people meet me for the first time they probably think I’m super cerebral.  But there’s few things I enjoy more than watching sports and yelling at the TV.

4. What genre classification would you put on your book and what would you consider the heat level of the romance?

Winter Jacket is a lesbian romance novel more so than erotica.  I was very mindful about the “heat” level of Elle and Hunter’s relationship.  There’s playful banter and sexual tension throughout and I wanted the novel to be sexy, no doubt, but I didn’t want to travel into “lurid” territory at the risk of it turning into a tired student/teacher cliché.  I was very careful to create two characters who see and treat each other as equals, regardless of the age and/or experience gap.

5. When did you start writing and what kicked off your passion to be an author?

I started writing fiction at a really young age; I benefited from fantastic elementary teachers who encouraged and nurtured my enthusiasm for books.  My 5th-grade teacher was particularly formative.  I vividly remember acting out scenes from A Wrinkle In Time in class and transforming our classroom with butcher-block paper into the subway in Slake’s Limbo and eating saltines with ketchupI wrote my first novel in the 5th grade, too.  Mutation in the Sea was the story of twin siblings who, like a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mystery, solved marine-based mysteries that baffled even the police.

Reading was the foundation of my zeal for writing fiction.  From a very young age I fell in love with words.  Judy Blume taught me everything I needed to know about being a girl, The Babysitter’s-Club series taught me about true friendship, and Nancy Drew told me it was okay to be curious and to ask questions.

I grew up in a tiny Midwest town, so small we didn’t have stoplights.  I remember in the summer months riding my bike along the abandoned railroad tracks with my younger sister to the public library, each of us with an empty backpack strapped to our backs.  We’d go to the library at least once a week, fill our book bags up with novels, and ride our bikes back home to do nothing but read all summer long.  In fact, whenever I acted out as a child, my parents’ punishment was not allowing me to read.

If you could see the inside of my head, it’s just Words, Words, Words.  Story ideas and dialogue are continually running through my brain.  If I didn’t write and spill those words out on the page, I’d probably talk to myself a lot more than I already do.

 

Cover Art

Winter Jacket blurb:

It all started with a broken classroom heater…
Graduate school prepares you for many things – the rigor of academic life, how to pull consecutive all-nighters, and living off a meager stipend without having to be roommates with cockroaches.  Elle Graft might have made it through six years of graduate school, but she’s not convinced she’ll survive her first position as an Assistant Professor.  Because for all she learned, graduate school never prepared her for dealing with a student crush.

Book excerpt:

Around nine o’clock, the party finally started to die down.  I was surprised that people had stayed for so long.  Normally students stayed for half an hour, ate the food and drank the free alcohol, and then left for some other pre-graduation party.  But for whatever reason, the crowds had lingered a little longer than usual tonight, well after the last celery stick and piece of cubed cheese had been consumed.

When my house emptied, I looked at the mess in the kitchen and sighed.  I tossed some serving spoons into the kitchen sink.  I might not have had to set up for the party, but the clean up was far more arduous.

Before I could start to give my kitchen a thorough cleaning, I noticed a light on down the hallway, coming from the direction of my study.  I couldn’t remember leaving a light on in the back half of my house.  I’d planned on keeping that part of my house closed off to students and had kept the lights off to avoid encouraging too much exploration.  Curious, I wandered down the hallway.  By this time, I’d abandoned my high heels, and in my stocking feet, I padded soundlessly against the wood floor.

I couldn’t have been more surprised by what I found – who I found – bent over my desk in my personal office, rifling through a stack of graded student papers.  Hunter.

I stood, unnoticed, in the doorway until I cleared my throat.

Hunter seemed to jump out of her skin at the sound.  She grabbed onto her shirt over the space where her heart resided. “You scared me!” she exclaimed.

My hand curled around the wooden threshold.  Normally I’d feel guilty for startling someone so badly, but she’d wandered off to my home office and was digging through other students’ papers like it was the most natural thing in the world.  I felt violated, like someone had read my diary.

Her grey-blue eyes were wider than I’d ever seen them. “I know this looks really bad.” The color had drained from her cheeks.  “But it’s not what it looks like.”

“What it looks like is you’re looking through the final papers for grades.” My tone was unexpectedly cold, but I was upset. I had opened my home to my students, but that didn’t mean they were free to explore and rifle through my things.  “But that couldn’t be it because you picked up your paper,” I said, thinking out loud.  “You already know what your grade is.  Unless you’re stealing papers to sell to some student essay mill.”

Her eyes bulged and she dropped the papers as if they’d burned her. “No!” she exclaimed.  “I wasn’t, I—.”

Her panicked exclamation was interrupted when my new cat Sylvia, who had yet to warm up to me, jumped up on my desk with a grunt.

“I hope you’ve had your tetanus shots,” I said, leaning against the doorjamb. “She hates everyone.”

Hunter stroked her hand down the center of Sylvia’s back and that damn little grey-fuzzed traitor actually arched her back. Hunter picked up the cat and sat down with her on my red couch.  Sylvia made a small half-circle with her body and kneaded her paws into Hunter’s thigh before settling down onto her lap.

“Are you the cat whisperer?” I asked, mouth surely agape. I’d never seen that devil-cat warm up to anyone. Hell, she barely tolerated me.  I likened her to a refugee, still acclimating to her new environment.

“I like cats,” she said simply.  She seemed to have recovered from the initial shock and looked entirely at ease sitting on my red couch with Sylvia curled up on her lap.  She scratched the cantankerous creature between the ears, and I swear I could see the cat’s eyes roll back in pleasure.

“So do you always just make yourself at home in your teachers’ offices?” The memory of her taking off her jacket in my campus office months ago came to mind.  Maybe she did.

Hunter looked suitably shamed, but she didn’t stand up.  I didn’t blame her; making sudden movements around my cat was generally a bad idea.

“I’m not normally this nosey. I was petting your cat out in the hallway and it wandered away. Then I heard some crashing noises later, so I followed the sounds to make sure the cat was okay.  When I came in here, your cat was on your desk, knocking things over.  I was just trying to pick up after her.”

Sylvia had proven herself to be a housekeeping nightmare.  She jumped on surfaces on which she didn’t belong and knocked things onto the floor to make more room for herself.  I’d already found a pair of reading glasses in the bathroom garbage and my favorite grading pens were often rolling around on the floor in the office.

“Don’t worry about Sylvia,” I said, waving a dismissive hand. “She can take care of herself.” I continued leaning against the doorjamb. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, but this felt safe.

“As long as she stays away from gas ovens,” Hunter grinned.

“My, my,” I murmured approvingly, standing up straight. That she knew of Sylvia’s namesake was a surprise, and I was impressed. “You’ve been holding back.”

Maybe it was because of the semester’s end and that grades were submitted, but I didn’t feel so restricted anymore around her. And maybe it was the comfortable way my pet and Hunter were curled up with each other, but I didn’t feel so upset and violated anymore.

“I haven’t actually read anything by Sylvia Plath,” Hunter said, suddenly a little shy. “I just really liked the movie about her life.” Her eyes, which I now noticed were almost the identical blue-grey as my cat’s, dropped demurely. If I had subconsciously picked out that bastard cat because it reminded me of Hunter, I was officially a lost cause.

“You haven’t read Plath?” I declared, sufficiently horrified. I immediately crossed the length of the room and walked to one of my bookcases. I thumbed over the bindings of several titles.  Everything was alphabetical by author, of course.  I pulled out the thin novel from its place between Parker and Plato. The Bell Jar was one of my favorite books. The copy I now held had been well-loved over the years. The binding was creased and worn, the top corner of the paperback cover rounded, and the inner pages were the rich goldenrod color of mass-produced pulp that’s sat too long in direct sunlight.

I stuck the book in Hunter’s direction, just within her reach.  She stopped giving attention to Sylvia long enough to take the book in both hands.  Her brow was furrowed in concentration, maddeningly adorable, as she read the back cover information.

The Bell Jar is a masterpiece,” I explained, geeking out. “I’m letting you borrow my copy.”

Hunter looked up, eyes large and blinking. “Really?”

I never let people borrow books.  I wasn’t a public library, after all. I also didn’t appreciate getting books back in worse condition than when I’d lent them. But I selfishly realized that if I let her borrow the book, I’d have a reason to see her again.  I didn’t have to give it a second thought. “Really.”

The tick-tock of the grandfather clock in my study filled the silence. “Did everyone leave?” she asked.  “Am I the only one left?”

I scratched at the back of my neck, once again aware of my awkwardness.  At least when I was gushing about literature I hadn’t remembered that we were alone. “Yeah.”

“I’m sorry,” Hunter genuinely apologized. “Not only does it look like I’ve been snooping, now I’ve overstayed my welcome.”

My instinct was to tell her she could stay as long as she wanted.  I smiled instead.

Hunter scratched between Sylvia’s ears again. “I’m sorry, sweetie,” she murmured, “but I’ve got to go.”

If I had been smoother, I would have found a way to convince her to stay longer. ‘Don’t go. It’ll break her kitty heart,’ I would say.   She’d admit she had no other plans that night and I’d suggest we take our conversation to the kitchen where I would brew a pot of late-night coffee. We could bring our filled cups to the front porch and we’d sit in the Adirondack chairs I’d recently purchased. I’d light a few candles—to keep the mosquitoes away, I’d explain—and I’d admire her profile, warmed by the glow of candlelight.

We’d start out with innocent remarks about the strange weather patterns.  It had recently gone from Winter to Spring overnight.  I’d hear about her plans for the summer and her relationship with her family. When the coffee ran out, she’d notice the late hour. She’d thank me for the coffee and conversation, and when she handed me her now-empty cup, our fingers would brush against each other’s.

But I wasn’t that smooth and I wasn’t a moral-free zone. Instead, I’d have to be satisfied with the prospect of seeing her again when she finished reading the book.  Maybe she’d be so impressed she’d ask me for other book recommendations. Maybe I’d see her periodically over the summer because of it.  And maybe this would turn into a regular thing, and we’d meet for coffee to discuss the current book we couldn’t put down. I wondered how she liked her coffee.

“Off you go,” Hunter coaxed Sylvia.  With a disgruntled noise, my cat stood from her lap. It made a big show of stretching before hopping to the floor.  I felt ridiculous for envying that ball of fur.

Hunter stood from my study couch, the very place I’d graded several of her papers, and she brushed at the front of her jeans.  Sylvia had a talent for getting her hair all over everything, and it was currently all over the front of her pants.

“Second-guessing making friends with my cat?” I posed teasingly.

She looked up and met my gaze.  Her eye contact was relentless. “I got a book out of the deal, didn’t I?”

This girl’s mood-swings were hard to keep up with. One minute she was bashful and unsure, and the next, staring me down with an unstated challenge and a charming smile. I wanted to know her better.  I needed to figure her out.

Author Bio:

Eliza Lentzski is the author of lesbian fiction, romance, and erotica novels including Second Chances, Date Night, Diary of a Human, Love, Lust, & Other Mistakes, and the forthcoming All That Is Gold (Fall 2013). Although a historian by day, Eliza is passionate about fiction.  She calls the Midwest her home along with her partner and their cat and turtle.

Contact info:

Readers can follow Eliza on Twitter (@ElizaLentzski) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/elizalentzski) for more information and exclusive sneak peeks of upcoming novels.

Buy link for original novels and short stories: https://www.facebook.com/ElizaLentzski/app_190322544333196

AMAZON: Winter Jacket/  http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Jacket-Eliza-Lentzski/dp/1483908771/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370904154&sr=8-1&keywords=Eliza+Lentzski

 

 

Author Spotlight – Andi Marquette

Andi Marquette is my guest today for Author Spotlight.  She is an amazingly talented woman and funny as a whip. She writes F/F romance fiction.  She is a fellow NaNoWriMo alumni.  One lucky commenter will receive an E-version of her book so tell us if you like F/F romance and want to be considered for a free copy of her book and with that I give you Andi Marquette.

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  1.   Who is your favorite character in this “From the Boots Up” and why? 

First, thank you so much, Eden, for having me along for a bit of a ride!

Okay. Characters in Boots.

I dig all of ’em.

All right, all right. How about Meg and Gina, the protagonists? I have always had a soft spot in my heart for those two. Meg grew up on the family ranch in Wyoming (which is a working/dude ranch). Ranching and animals are in her blood and soul, and that’s why she wants to go to vet school. She’s practical and hard-working, but like her dad (who you will meet in this novella) she has a wry sense of humor and a deep love of the land. I grew up in rural Colorado, and Meg taps into those roots of mine. Gina, on the other hand, is a reporter from Los Angeles who’s got to come out to the ranch and do a story on dude ranching as an industry. Like Meg, she’s driven about what she does, but she’s a little more laid back about some things and she has a great sense of humor, which Meg keeps up with pretty well and it creates a nice rapport between them. I like Gina’s humor, and I like how it shows when she flirts. She’s confident but kind, and adaptable.

Gina would be the person I’d call if I needed somebody to bail me out of a Tijuana jail. Meg’s who I would call to haul my car out of a ditch in a full-on blizzard. Or save me from a stampede.

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2. What inspires you for your stories?

Hell, everything and anything. I started writing my New Mexico-based mystery series when I was living in Nashville, Tennessee (I’m no longer there) and I was totally homesick for Albuquerque. I was born in Albuquerque, and ended up going back in the early 90s for grad school. I stayed for over twelve years then moved to Nashville (then back to Colorado). So homesickness started that series. I started writing my sci fi series one super cold winter that I spent on Colorado’s Western Slope. I think I was kind of tired of the piles of snow and frigid temps that went on for weeks. So I wrote the first novel in that series that winter, and it was set in a desert. Hot and dry. Heh. Funny, what your subconscious can do.

I also find inspiration in mundane things every day. An overheard comment at work. An interesting story on NPR. An article in Outside magazine. I make up stories all the time about strangers. I try to figure out who they are and what kinds of lives they live, and what kinds of characters they’d be in a movie or a book. And over the years, I’ve ended up in some pretty interesting places, where I’ve met some fascinating people. But you don’t have to travel to get stories. Every day, it’s possible to meet somebody who inspires something or see something that does. You just never know what’s going to happen in a day. I love that.

3. Tell us something no one else knows about you.

How about I tell you something that not many people know, as opposed to no one? Heh!

Let’s see…I’ve played piano (lessons for years as a child) and drums (taught myself). Not so much these days, and I’m super rusty, but I didn’t lose my taste for music even when I drifted away from playing instruments. I’m a music fanatic and have been since I was a kid. I’ve also been a radio DJ and I DJ’ed at a small club in Albuquerque for a bit.

 

4. What genre classification would you put on your novella and what would you consider the heat level of the romance?

F/F romance. I’d put the heat level at warm to hot. There’s sexual tension and flirting throughout and what I’d call explicit (though hopefully tasteful) sexuality. I’ve gotten great comments from readers since I released From the Boots Up and one of the more common is “smokin’!”

5. When did you start writing and what kicked off your passion to be an author?

I’m one of those authors who’s just always been writing. I also read incessantly as a child (and haven’t stopped), so I’m sure that played a role in my wanting to craft stories, too. I did write a lot more nonfiction for a few years because of grad school, but the fiction thing has always been in my life. I think I wrote my first story in grade school. No, maybe before that. I wrote two atrociously bad novels when I was in high school, along with a slew of cringe-worthy angsty poetry in college. The poetry got a little better; I’ve had a few poems published here and there. In now-defunct publications, of course. Heh. I also wrote a couple more novels in college. I sent my first short stories out for consideration when I was working on my master’s degree in Denver. I was writing a lot of speculative fiction then, and I sent several stories for consideration to the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, who was doing the Sword and Sorceress series at the time. She sent me rejection letters with really great advice and encouragement. And she personally signed them. That’s a rare thing, and I think had I not gotten those letters, I may not have eventually come back to writing fiction. I still have them.

Anyway, I finally started really writing fiction in the mid-2000s after I came across some of the novels I’d written in college in my parents’ storage shed on a visit to Colorado (I was living in Nashville at the time). The manuscripts weren’t horrible. They weren’t that good, certainly, but the stories were actually kind of cool. So I thought, “Huh. Maybe I can turn some of this into something or jumpstart something else.” So I wrote two novels that summer. One prior to November and then I did NaNoWriMo and hammered out what became the first book in my New Mexico mystery series, which ended up winning a couple of awards after it was published. Then I just…kept writing. Maybe it’s a sickness. Oh, well. I’ve got it, and I don’t think there’s a cure. Guess I’ll just have to write more. Stay tuned…

And thanks again for having me along. Really appreciate it.

Here’re my deets.

For more information about my work, excerpts, freebie F/F romance short stories, and links to buy, come on down to my website: http://www.andimarquette.com

From the Boots Up is available on Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/From-the-Boots-Up-ebook/dp/B00BRBZ3HG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370045797&sr=8-1&keywords=andi+marquette

My other F/F romance novella, Some Kind of River, is also available on Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/Some-Kind-of-River-ebook/dp/B006YHTV1M/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1370045797&sr=8-3&keywords=andi+marquette

And if you read F/F fiction, come on down to Women and Words, where I also blog. http://www.lesbianauthors.wordpress.com

Andi Marquette writes mysteries:
Land of Entrapment (2008)
State of Denial (2008)
The Ties that Bind (2009)
Day of the Dead (forthcoming 2013)
and sci fi:
Friends in High Places (2009)
A Matter of Blood (2011)
The Edge of Rebellion (2013)
and romance:
Some Kind of River (2012)
From the Boots Up (2013)

Thirty Days Till “Dar’kind Promises”

I can’t believe it is only thirty days until “Dar’kind Promises” is released on 2/3/13. This is a short novelette length story. It is paranormal f/f erotic romance. Each day for the next thirty days, I am going to give you a teaser and tell you some background secret about the story. You will also have a chance to ask me ANY question you wish. It should be fun. I just hope I can fill thirty days, eek. You can see the offical blurb and cover in an earlier blog here. So happy reading and let the secrets begin. Tomorrow I will tell you how this story got started.

Teaser:

“No, this is better but still not completely right.” Verucca pulled a book from her cluttered worktable and flipped through pages. “Cat’s the size you are now are pets in the Earth Dimension. However, your color is all wrong. There are no house cats with the odd spotted pattern of your fur. Fuss and bother.”

She lay the book down on the table by her hip, studying a picture from the pages. “Now, that color will do nicely. I’ll just have to add another layer to the spell.” She paused to reassure her feline companion. “It’ll be fine.” She shrugged, reconsidering. “It should be fine.” She checked the book one more time, clapped her hands and pronounced, “Orange Tabby.” The dark spots on the animal’s creamy tan fur stretched, elongated, and ran into a pattern of strips swirling around becoming orangish color on the cat’s fur. The crone walked around the animal looking down at her handiwork. “Yes this will do, quite satisfactory, if I do say so myself.”

The cat spoke for the first time. “Sa-tis-factory?” she stressed each syllable. The animal’s voice sounded like it emanated from the bottom of a well, a remote, shrunken sound that modulated through a range of helium-induced tones. “You cronish hack! This is far from satisfactory.”