Monthly Archives: October 2014

A “Ghostly” Memory

ghost 1 ”You have to take her with you.” Our mother uttered those horrifying words and my sister Gail and I looked at each other in terror. Not that our little sister, Sandy, was anyone to be afraid of, with her red-gold curls and big blue eyes, but she was only six and we were so much older at seven and eight.

We had been planning our outfits for weeks and now mom wanted Sandy to tag along while we went in search of Halloween candy? Sandy didn’t even have a costume. We’d have to explain “Trick or Treat” to her. Although, to be fair, we’d only had to do a trick once in our vast experience. As part of a pack of neighborhood kids, we’d built a human pyramid.

It was too late for a fancy costume. Everyone would be heading out in another half hour. I eyed our sister’s petite frame.

Gail walked around Sandy as if searching for inspiration. “We could paint her face and give her a blanket as a cape.”

“It would take too long.”

“I want to be a princess.” Sandy peered up at us hopefully.

“You can’t. You don’t have a dress.” There was only one solution. “We’ll make her a ghost.”

Gail shook her head. “Mom will never let us cut holes in a sheet.”Ghost

“Then we won’t. We’ll lead her around.”

“But I don’t want to be a ghost.” Sandy’s words were somewhat muffled as I’d grabbed a sheet and thrown it over her head.

My sister’s hands stretched out in front of her, making her look like a sleep-walking spirit. “I can’t see.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll make sure you don’t trip over anything.” Although, I was being a bit optimistic as the sheet already dragged on the ground.

We joined the neighborhood kids, our plastic bags clutched in one hand, while Sandy stumbled along between us, “ET” style. We had her bag and as we traveled the rows of well-lit homes, our sacks of candy were growing heavier.

Until it rained.

One, by one, the other kids left, not willing to brave the storm, but we continued, traipsing down the street, promising Sandy, “Just one more house.”

By then her sheet hung in wet folds and sniffles could be heard from under the dripping mess, along with mumbled words that sounded like, “I want to go home.”

Eventually, even our stamina came to an end and we went back to the house. In the living room we dumped the piles of candy on the floor and Sandy’s wet face brightened. However, to this day, her view of sheets is very different from most people.

Happy Halloween! pumpkin

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Thursday Threads

This week I’m welcoming Sandra to my blog. She comes to us from “Down Under” and brings her brilliant imagination to her stories.

Love Encoded Cover SmallTitle: Love, Encoded

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Heat Level: Sizzling

Website: http://www.sandraharrisauthor.com

Buy Link: http://tinyurl.com/pz2b22u

Blurb:

Book 1 in the Selected Evolution Series

Do you really know who you are? What you are?

Earth: Near Future

Experience has taught Sarah Rasmussen that hot guys don’t go for geeks like her. Their retreat speed is usually proportional to the value of her IQ. However, for every rule it seems there is an exception—or in her lucky case, two.

When confronted with the disturbing fact she has been genetically manipulated in order to save an alien race stranded on Earth for a thousand years, she needs the strength of the men’s devotion to deal with the life-changing news. But when she learns that the love of the two men she has come to care for deeply is not quite as it appears, it could shatter her heart forever.

Nick Bannister and Adam McKeoun will never stop fighting to convince Sarah she is their world, no matter what the source of their emotion. They will let nothing stand in their way of forging a happiness that will transcend any challenge, especially not a calculating and determined enemy bent on Sarah’s destruction.

Excerpt:

Fear coated Sarah Rasmussen’s harsh, rapid breath.

Her feet pounded over the uneven, dirt track and she pushed her body hard to keep the pace up a rise. Through the thick, early morning mist the familiar stippled trunks of spotted gum loomed like every nightmare she’d ever had. Her heart beat a frantic rhythm against her ribcage and her ears strained to catch the slightest sound of her pursuer.

She pulled to an abrupt halt, heaving cold air into her starved lungs, then struggled against her desperate need for oxygen to smother her gasping breath and listen. Through the mist the echo of footsteps slowed, halted. Sickening apprehension corkscrewed through her stomach. A shiver prickled her heated skin.

She tried to force some semblance of calm over her panicking wits, but her instincts would not be denied. The fact that initially an unseen runner seemed to play cat and mouse with her had spooked her. They’d remained out of sight, had not responded to any of the hails she sent into the mist. She’d even taken a small sidetrack to try and throw them off.

The footsteps picked up again and the possibility of what might happen if she were caught speared a surge of black fear through her heart. Adrenaline charged through her body and she took off, feet flying over the rough surface of the track. The sole of her shoe landed heavily on a small rock. Her ankle collapsed and she lurched sideways, straining every muscle to remain upright. Twisting, burning sensation ripped through her right calf. She choked a cry as she tumbled to the hard ground, her running shorts and sleeveless top providing little protection. Every bone in her body jarred to the cruel impact.

A whimper of frustration and dread escaped her lips as the strangling pain of cramp throbbed through her leg. She made to stand. Agony tore through her lower limb and she collapsed back to the hard dirt. Desperation and pain stole her strength and for a moment she huddled on the ground in a limp mass. She dragged determination from the depths of her soul and pulled herself together, raised a shaking fist and pummelled it into the tight knot of her muscle. Again. Again. Her weak punches had no effect.

Footsteps approached. Terror twisted her nerves. Her skin felt like it wanted to crawl off somewhere and hide. She’d love it to do just that, so long as it took her with it.

Maybe I’m just being fanciful.

Her fears seemed to think otherwise, coiling nausea through her stomach. She pushed herself to her hands and knees. Sharp-edged pebbles and forest debris dug into her flesh as she crawled off the track. She thrust her back to the wide girth of a big gum tree and forced her breath into slow, deep inhalations. Heart faint and fingers trembling, she pulled her cell phone from a pocket again. And again hope died at the lack of coverage bars.

That shouldn’t happen. Not here.

She closed her eyes tight and bunched her fists against escalating terror.

Get a grip, Sarah. Get a grip.

The cool air brushed a clammy hand against her hot skin. A soft footfall and the rustle of clothing drifted through the mist. She snapped her eyes open. Gravel crunched. Her heart exploded into a wild gallop. Frantic, she scanned the ground for a weapon. Anything. A rock . . . sand . . . broken glass left by a careless hiker . . . anything. The smooth, pearl grey bark of a discarded ghost gum branch poked through yellowing clumps of grass. She lunged for it, wrapped her fingers around its width and lifted. The weight of the solid, four-foot piece of wood eased a little confidence into her mind.

Yeah, and now I’m being self-delusional.

Despite her doubts, her resolve strengthened. Looming shadows snatched her attention to the edge of the mist. Dark shapes moved towards her. Her heart leapt to her throat. She struggled to her feet, put her back to the tree and hefted the branch across her shoulder.

Two big, jeans and T-shirt clad men stepped clearly into her vision.

Thursday Threads

Elle Hill theTithe_505x825The Tithe

By Elle Hill

Genre: Science fiction romance

Heat level: Sensuous

Back blurb:

“Every seven years, seven persons from each of the ten towns must go into the desert, where they will enter into the realm of Elovah, their God.”

No one knows exactly what happens to these seventy Tithes, but everyone knows who:  the “unworkables,” those with differing physical and mental capacities. Joshua Barstow, raised for twenty years among her town’s holy women, is one of these seventy Tithes. She is joined by the effervescent Lynna, the scholarly Avery, and the amoral Blue, a man who has spent most of his life in total solitude.

Each night, an angel swoops down to take one of their numbers. Each night, that is, except the first, when the angel touches Josh… and leaves her. What is so special about Josh? She doesn’t feel special; she feels like a woman trying to survive while finally learning the meanings of friendship, community, and love.

How funny that she had to be sacrificed to find reasons to live.

Excerpt:

The lights in the Great Room went out.

No flickers, no dimming, no sizzling sounds—nothing. Just darkness where light used to be.

A man cried out and several people gasped.

“It’s all right, everyone,” Marcus called. Really, he was beginning to annoy Josh, too. He didn’t know that. No one did. “I’m sure this has—”

A whooshing sound, like air displaced, sliced through the room. For a tiny, tense moment, no one spoke.

“Is it an angel?” a child’s voice asked.

Several voices broke out then, some in shouts, some in startled cries, one or two in terror.

Just like the night before, the fold and crack of feathered wings in motion breathed through the room. Weak light from the multiple hallways leaked through the perimeters. Now that her eyes had adjusted to the sudden darkness, Josh found she could identify vague outlines.

Someone a few seats down leapt to her feet and hurled herself toward Josh, perhaps seeking the sterile safety of the kitchen. She stumbled over Josh’s outstretched legs and hurtled to the ground. Josh gasped in pain.

And still, the snap and sigh of wings overhead.

Josh wanted to stand up, to defend herself. She wanted to shrink into the upholstery, to make herself as small as possible. In the end, she sat still, trembling in indecision.

“The angels!” someone cried in something like terror, or perhaps ecstasy.

“Keep them away from me!” Someone—she thought it might be Len—shrieked.

Several people jumped to their feet and pushed their way through the room, seeking some kind of safety. The woman who’d tripped over Josh lay whimpering on the ground.

Whump, whump . . .

A warm arm encircled Josh’s shoulder. She shrieked before realizing it belonged to Blue. The baggy sleeves of his black tunic partially covered her head. She turned to him, and he pressed her closer.

I don’t think I want to court you, she remembered him saying, and almost sprayed laughter. Who knew they’d practically snuggle later that day?

The thump of wings grew closer. An outline of a human-sized object hurtled through the air and the darkness toward her. What had to be its wings spread around it, moving and tilting. Some stray ray of light gleamed whitely off the area where eyes should be. They seemed fixed directly on her.

Links:

Email: elle@ellehill.com

Website: http://www.ellehill.com

Blog: ellehillauthor.blogspot.com/

Book buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Tithe-Elle-Hill-ebook/dp/B00MVCPJFG

Thursday Threads

Char Chaffin JessesGirlTitle: Jesse’s Girl, by Char Chaffin

Heat Rating: Sensual

Genre: Nostalgia Romance

Book Cover Blurb:

In 1965, Tim O’Malley returns to his home town of Skitter Lake, Ohio, to clear his name and get the girl: Dorothy Whitaker, the love of his life since eighth grade. Blamed for a destructive fire he didn’t set, only Tim and Dorothy know the truth; that Jesse Prescott, Tim’s best friend and Dorothy’s boyfriend, did the deed that changed an entire town. But Jesse died in that tragedy and seven years later, Skitter Lake still honors him as a hero, rather than Tim, the boy from the seedy side of town whose father was a drunk . . . and whose quick actions saved six people from perishing in that horrendous fire.

In trying to set the record straight and finally claim Dorothy as his own, Tim—and Dorothy, too—will discover that in some small towns the legend often outweighs the truth . . . and their family and friends will forever see Dorothy as “Jesse’s girl.”

Excerpt:

Now the need to lock Dorothy in a tight embrace, and never let go, overwhelmed him. He would have picked her up and carried her to his car, then driven her all the way back to Los Angeles just to get her away from a life he instinctively knew made her miserable. Tim remembered her folks. Wilma Whitaker had been a difficult woman when she was healthy and relatively happy. He couldn’t imagine how losing Dorothy’s dad would have twisted Wilma up inside.

He must have squeezed too tightly, because Dorothy let out a breathy gasp and wriggled until he loosened his arms. She stepped backward with a blush and downcast eyes. “I really do have to go, Tim.” She raised her head and all the longing he’d already been experiencing, all the need, was plain to see on her lovely face, for about half a second.

Then, her expression shuttered, she picked up her purse from the battered nightstand next to the bed where she’d laid it, and moved toward the door. Tim followed, unsure what to say even though a hundred different lines crowded his head. Stay with me. Get to know me, again. Love me, the way I never stopped loving you.

They remained locked behind his compressed lips as he escorted her to the door and wished the last seven years had never happened.

In the open doorway she formed a smile that fell short of her eyes. “I’m glad we got to spend a little time together, Tim.” She slipped her arms around his waist for a quicksilver hug, then stepped back before he could reciprocate. “Please give your folks my best when you get back home.”

Tim flicked his eyes up to hers, then over her face, prettier than ever and without a speck of makeup. Her silky, red-blonde hair, combed back in its usual ponytail, was so unlike the current style he’d seen not only in California but here in Skitter Lake. Her dress wouldn’t have been out of place at the sock hops he remembered from twelfth grade. It was almost as if Dorothy Whitaker had frozen herself in time.

And he suddenly knew he wouldn’t be leaving at the end of the week. He’d stick around and see what was what. For Dorothy, and maybe even for Jesse.

Slowly, Tim reached out and clasped her fingers, then her wrist. Before he could talk himself out of it, he yanked her into his arms, up against his body, catching the back of her head, right below her ponytail. As her lips parted to speak, protest, whatever, he covered them with a kiss that spun out of control the instant it began. He wound an arm around her waist to anchor her tightly, but she’d already thrust her hands into his hair as she kissed him back. Tim groaned into her mouth and felt it echo back to him in the whimper she uttered that throbbed in the scant space between them.

For what seemed like an eternity, he kissed her, deep, then slow, then fast, greedy, pouring years of want and desire into a single, perfect moment. If he’d ever kissed another woman like this, he couldn’t remember. He deepened the kiss even more, and felt her fingers fist reflexively in his hair. He didn’t care if she ripped it out by the handfuls, as long as she never let go.

And as if she’d somehow heard his thoughts, she stiffened, opened her fists, slapped her hands on his chest, and pushed until he released her lips. Rosy red and swollen, they quivered as she stared up at him with shock in her eyes. She pushed again, a silent demand for him to let her go. It about killed him, but he loosened his arms and stepped back.

Silently, Tim bent to pick up the purse she’d dropped, and gave it to her. As her fingers closed over the pale yellow leather, she whispered, “Why?”

He managed—barely—to keep his hands to himself as he replied, “Because I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying. And when I do leave, Dorothy, you’ll be coming with me.”

Buy Link, Amazon: http://www.amzn.com/B00JK0DUD0/

Char’s Links:

Website: http://char.chaffin.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/char.chaffin

Twitter: http://twitter.com/char_chaffin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5337737.Char_Chaffin

Thursday Threads

THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE by Cathy MacRaeHighlander's Reluctant 10-9-14

Genre: Scottish historical romance

Heat level: Sensual

Book cover blurb:

Determined to keep the Macrory clan’s holdings out of the clutches of marauding pirates, King Robert II sends his man, Lord Ranald Scott, to hold Scaurness Castle. There, Laird Macrory lays dying, awaiting word from his son who is missing on the battlefields of France. If the son is not found before the old laird dies, Ranald will take over as laird—and marry Laird Macrory’s headstrong daughter.

Lady Caitriona sees no reason she cannot rule the clan in her brother’s stead, and is bitterly disappointed with the king’s decision to send a man to oversee the castle and people. Not only is Ranald Scott only distantly related to the Macrory clan, but he was her childhood nemesis. She has little trust or like for him.

Her disappointment turns to panic when the king’s plan is completely revealed and she realizes she must wed Ranald. Pirates, treachery, and a 4-year-old girl stand between her and Ranald’s chance at happiness. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other and find the love they both deserve?

* * *

Excerpt:

So, the king forced Eaden to wed,” she murmured. Her gaze caught Ranald’s. “What will he do to me?” Ranald noted Riona’s sudden pallor, her gray eyes widening until they were naught but huge silver orbs glowing against her skin. Now was as good a time as any to tell her what King Robert intended for her, but he could not force the words. “Ye are a laird’s daughter,” he reminded her. “And an heiress. Yer mother’s dower lands north of here are of great value to the king.” “And I am of little worth, aye?” Riona flared. “Nae. Ye are of great worth.” “But a pawn to the king.” Ranald sighed. This was not going as he planned. “We are all pawns in one way or another, Ree. The king willnae let ye stay on yer own. Ye are a ward of the crown, now.” “So, he’ll marry me off to some rebellious laird he wants to drag over to his side, using me and my lands to hold him?” “Nae. No’ so bad as all that.” “Mayhap to a wealthy laird who’s all but doddering in his cups, hoping I’ll no’ breed an heir before he dies, giving title of the land to the king and my next husband?” Ranald lifted an eyebrow. The lass was getting worked up over nothing. “Marriage, yes. Doddering auld man, no.” Riona snapped her head to one side, a glower on her face. “Then, who?” Ranald swallowed and offered a crooked smile. “Me.”                                           * * * Amazon Buy Link: www.amzn.com/B00J1PNPPC/ Website: www.cathymacraeauthor.com

Blog: www.cathymacraeauthor.com/bits-n-bobs/

Facebook: Cathy MacRae or Cathy MacRae Author email: cathymacrae@cathymacraeauthor.com I love to hear from readers!