Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Friday, November 28, 2014

#Excerpt from "The Girl Who Came Back to Life" by Craig Staufenberg @YouMakeArtDumb #MGLit

Sophie woke at the table the next day before the sun rose and let habit and obligation drag her from her seat and pull her to the bakery. Setting her body in front of the floured marble table and searching her chest, she found a hole where her heart used to beat, and when she dove into this abyss she felt something close to cold, but far from feeling itself.

That morning her dough would barely budge when she touched it and the loaves she handled wouldn’t rise an inch and the bread she placed in the oven left their fires cold and flat and dead no matter how long they spent among the flames.

The baker saw this and responded to her as if she were a stubborn slab of dough. She pressed patiently and consistently and with constant motion, asking Sophie this and that, pushing and pulling at her, all without mentioning her failures, without forcing a point, yet unrelenting and unwilling to toss her to the side.

Yet despite this care, by the end of the morning, Sophie’s failures at the simple, mundane tasks built up and tore through her. Her frustration broke as she pulled a final frozen lump from the fired oven and a small tear arrived in her eye as she held the uncooked dough in front of her chest.

The baker stepped over to her and took the dough from Sophie and placed it on the table with a thud. She admonished Sophie, without any hint of anger or malice, “Cry if you need to, but don’t cry into the bread.”

Sophie stood there, that single tear still caught within her eye, her arms and hands still held up in front of her. The baker took each of Sophie’s raised, empty arms, one at a time, and placed them down at her sides. She took one of her own weathered hands and guided Sophie to the table and pulled up a stool and motioned to Sophie to sit. Sophie set her elbows down on the floured marble table and leaned across its surface.

The tear finally fell from her eye and dropped down onto the table, creating a little wet crater in the flour that lay sifted across the top of the marble table. The baker reached out a thumb and smudged the crater across and smiled to herself, then went to the front of the shop and picked up a small olive loaf from the day-old bin. She held it in one of her hands and opened the oven door with the other and let a whiff of the blasting hot air spill out and wash over Sophie. The baker commanded her, “Take out some butter, if you would.”

The baker reached her hand into the oven and held the loaf above the flames for a moment as Sophie walked to the side counter and pulled out the pan of thick yellow butter that sat there. She brought it to the table and returned to her seat.

The baker left the oven door open, warming the room. She pulled up another stool and sat next to her and placed the now-steaming loaf down. The woman tore off a chunk and slathered it with the rich butter, which melted on contact and found its way into the bread’s hidden corners. She handed the bread to Sophie, then she tore off and buttered a second hunk for herself.

Sophie took a bite of the bread, and that bite sank into her. The half-stale loaf crunched in her mouth and the butter pressed through her body as surely as it soaked through the bread.

As they ate for a moment in silence, the baker continued to pull off pieces of the bread and butter them, handing one to Sophie first then taking one for herself. She ate in silence as the dry heat of the oven filled the back of the shop, until Sophie broke the quiet and spoke first. She apologized for her shoddy work.

The baker nodded her response. “It’s alright. I had a lot of bad days too when my parents died.”

Sophie looked over at the sturdy woman with surprised eyes and asked when the woman’s parents had passed.

The baker replied with a soft smile, “Some time ago. I was a little older than you but I was baking by that point… and for a long time my bread wouldn’t rise either.”

The baker deepened her smile as she lifted her hunk of bread into the air and inspected it for a moment, then took a bite and continued as she swallowed, “Clearly it was a temporary problem.”

Sophie couldn’t stop herself from laughing. She asked the woman what fixed her troubles.

The baker thought for a moment. “Time.” She placed her elbow on the table and scratched at her cheek. “As the days passed I found myself again.” She paused, her finger rested against her cheek. “But my bread wasn’t this good again until I went north and Sent them.”

Sophie looked over and was about to speak but the baker stood up and cut her off firmly. “Come. We need to open the shop.”

The baker gathered the few loaves she managed to salvage from Sophie’s empty heart and sighed out loud, “Here’s hoping for a slow day…”

She smiled then pushed her to clean the oven, as she always did, and from there the afternoon proceeded as it always had. Sophie took on her chosen chores, straightening the shop, cleaning, organizing and restoring order as the baker took her seat at the counter where her customers purchased their bread. When her grandmother arrived, Sophie avoided her gaze. Aside from a lingering moment when the baker stepped to the desk and spoke for a moment longer than usual to the old woman, the day proceeded as it always had, right until the sun began to set and the baker asked Sophie and her grandmother to come to the counter to receive their day’s wages.

The old woman placed her payment in her purse, and as she stood for a moment to wait for her granddaughter to receive hers, the baker told the wrinkled woman, “I need to speak with Sophie for a minute longer, you don’t need to wait for her.”

The old woman nodded and said goodbye and left through the shop’s swinging doors as the baker asked Sophie to stand there for a moment. She held still and watched as the woman came out from behind her counter and walked through the shop, examining the little touches Sophie added to it throughout the afternoon. The baker inspected the organized loaves and gave a small approving nod, then examined the swept floor and made a minor appreciative grunt, then noted the neatly stacked bags of flour with a lingering look, before she returned to the counter and opened her drawer and began to count out Sophie’s wages. As she did, the woman spoke to herself, loud enough for Sophie to hear, “Let’s see…”

The baker set down Sophie’s usual wages. Sophie thanked her and reached for the bills lying there. The baker stopped her hand and spoke, without looking up, “The shop looks better than ever lately.”

She turned her eyes to Sophie. “You’ve been working a little later than necessary for some time now.”

Sophie looked at her feet, embarrassed, as the baker pulled some paper and a pencil from beneath the counter and set them down and continued, “I used to hire someone to tidy up the shop as you’ve been doing. I can’t quite remember what I used to pay them.”

The baker marked a few calculations onto the paper and reached into the cash drawer and placed a few extra bills on top of Sophie’s normal wages and looked down at her paper.

“That doesn’t seem right. You’ve been working late every single day for some time now… Let me check the math again. Oh, I shouldn’t have let your grandmother off, she’s better with the numbers than I am.”

The baker made a few more marks on the paper, performing some simple math, adding up the days and Sophie’s extra wages, reaching into the drawer and pulling out more money and placing it on the counter, before checking her math again and pulling out more and adding it to the growing pile, speaking loudly and absent-mindedly the whole time.

“This afternoon your grandmother told me she plans on heading north soon, and that she’ll be gone for some time.”

The baker looked casually at Sophie. “It’s to be expected, of course. She never said so but she adored that man.” The baker looked back down. “Though now I’ll have to find someone else to take care of the books for me.”

She placed more money on the counter. “As I said, I’m not very good at math.”

She returned to her paper, then scanned the neatly ordered shop, then added even more money to Sophie’s thick pile. The woman looked back down and spoke some more to herself.

“I’ll have to find someone to help me with the oven and the store too, while you are traveling with her.”

Sophie’s heart returned to her chest for a moment, before rising and getting caught in her throat as she looked at the thick stack of money on the counter.

The baker rolled her eyes up at Sophie with lightly arched eyebrows. “Though only temporary help, of course… as you’ll resume working here when you return…”

Sophie nodded yes, yes, yes. The baker sat back in her chair and pushed the money towards her.

“And I’m sure if my math was wrong and I’ve overpaid you now, then you’ll work the remainder off when you return.” Sophie pressed her heart down her throat and back into her chest and released a soft, “Of course.”

The Girl Who Came Back to Life

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Craig Staufenberg through Facebook and Twitter

#Excerpt from PEGASUS by Marilyn Holdsworth @M_Holdsworth #WomensFic #Goodreads #Contemporary

Pegasus by Marilyn Holdsworth 

SATURDAY WAS A WARM, sunny day, just as Win had predicted, and the drive out of Los Angeles was a welcome change from the heavy work schedule Hannah had been demanding of herself for the last few days. Sitting next to Win, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans with her hair pulled back and fastened with a barrette at the nape of her neck, Hannah looked young and vulnerable. The miles sped by, and they chatted easily together, but Win made no further mention of what was so important for her to see at the ranch.

“I’m looking forward to riding today. I haven’t been on a horse for ages. Hope I haven’t forgotten how,” she worried.

“Like riding a bicycle,” he laughed. “Once you learn, you never forget. You’ll do fine.”

Win turned the sleek, midnight-blue Jaguar into a long, narrow drive flanked by split-rail fencing. On either side, rolling green pastures spread as far as she could see. An arched gateway marked the entrance to the ranch. Mounted at the top of the crescent was an imposing round emblem emblazoned with a large metal sculpture of Pegasus at its center.

“Pegasus, the winged horse,” she exclaimed. “What a wonderful name for a horse ranch. Do all your horses fly?”

He smiled. “I’m sure when my dad was so into racing, he wished they could. But it was my grandfather who founded the ranch and named it Pegasus. He named it after the Greek mythological horse in hopes of pleasing my grandmother. She was a very scholarly lady of Greek heritage, very interested in the arts, especially the Greek classics. Grandfather spent his entire lifetime trying to please her, but I’m afraid to no avail. I’m told she detested the West and the ranch, preferring Eastern city life and its more sophisticated offerings. They separated shortly after my father was born. She kept her Eastern townhouse, attending operas and grand parties while he built his empire out here.”
“Sad she couldn’t have enjoyed it with him,” Hannah said. “It’s so wonderfully tranquil here, a truly rare and beautiful setting with the mountains in the background and the rolling green hillsides. Didn’t she ever see the horses race? Not even when the ranch’s prize winners were entered in all the country’s grandest races?”

“No, she never did. And it was a great sorrow to my grandfather. But, oddly enough, he never divorced her. He always hoped she’d change her mind, come back to him, and learn to love the land as he did. My father was raised by Mary Little Deer’s mother here at the ranch. He was an only child, of course, and the lifestyle Grandmother lived in the East was not meant for a boisterous little boy. So he grew up at Pegasus and loved the ranch until his dying day. Now it’s mine, and I must say, I share his deep love for the place.”

They had pulled up to a sprawling Spanish hacienda with a red tiled roof and thick adobe-brick walls. Built around a central courtyard, the house had the look of an early California mission.

“It’s really the picture of the Old West, Win. I can see why you love it here,” she said as he helped her out of the car.

The house’s thick walls and Mexican tile flooring made it cool and inviting. He ushered her through wide carved doors adorned by large bronze knockers shaped like horse heads. As they stood together in the dimly lit hall, Hannah blinked to adjust her eyes. From a stained-glass window at the end, a prism of light slanted across the floor, illuminating a majestic bronze sculpture of Pegasus standing like a sentinel in the massive entry. She stared at the beautiful sculpture. “It looks like it would take flight at any moment, leave its marble pedestal for the heavens.”

“My grandfather had it made in Europe,” Win explained as she continued to study the art piece.

“Another futile attempt to win back Athena’s heart, I suppose. The artist who did the piece has become quite famous. Perhaps you know of him—P. J. Mene. He did some smaller renditions of the same subject for him. One is in the garden, but I’m not sure where the others are now.”

Hannah walked closer to the exquisitely detailed bronze statue, gently touching its flowing mane and extended wings. “He certainly captured the spirit of the horse.”

“I thought you might like it.”

“And is this what you wanted so much for me to see?”

“No, it isn’t,” he said, smiling mysteriously. “You’ll have to wait for that,” he teased. “Now let’s see if Mary Little Deer left us a snack in the library.” He led her through wide double-oak doors into a large high-ceilinged room with open carved beams. At the far end was a massive stone fireplace surrounded by walls lined with bookshelves.

“What a lovely room, and such a collection of fine books,” Hannah said, scanning the leather-bound volumes.

“Another of Grandfather’s attempts to please Athena. All the classics are there, with a very special collection of Greek literature and ancient mythology. I’m afraid the architecture he chose when he built the ranch and its name do seem a bit incongruous, but when you know the history of the place, it fits together after all. I’m rattling on about the past too much,” Win said, suddenly glancing across the room. “Sure hope you’re hungry, Mary Little Deer’s done her usual I see. Light snack just isn’t in her vocabulary. Unless she hears the legs groan the table isn’t set, “ he laughed. A tray of assorted sandwiches , a large fruit bowl and a plate of freshly baked cookies with a pot of coffee stood waiting on a long, low knotty-pine table in front of a deep saddle-brown leather sofa.

“It all looks delicious, “ Hannah said. “And actually I’m starved.”

When lunch was finished and cleared away by the silently efficient Mary Little Deer, they went in search of the stables. Once again, Winston Caughfield III was right; it was like riding a bicycle. Hannah settled easily into the saddle on a bay mare. Riding next to her, astride his favorite horse, Alabaster, Win guided them around the barns, past the corrals and the training track, and toward the gently rolling hills. They rode for more than an hour, enjoying the sunny afternoon and clear, fresh air. The bay mare responded eagerly when Hannah nudged her into a canter. Although spirited, the horse was smooth-gaited and perfectly trained, and Alabaster pranced, tossing his head to show off for them both. Win rode with the grace and skill of an accomplished rider. It was obvious how much he loved the horse as he reached over to pat his arched neck when they pulled up after galloping across an open meadow.

He called to Hannah as she reined in beside him. “Over there,” he said, pointing to the ridge. “Just over that crest is where we’re going.” He urged Alabaster into a trot, beckoning for her to follow. At the top of the rise, they pulled the horses up, and Hannah gazed down into a small valley. Several corrals dotted the landscape, each with its own enclosure and hay bin. A feed storage shed stood close by, and a barn was under construction at the far end.

Hannah looked questioningly at Win, but he said nothing, just guided his horse down the slope; she fell in behind him. Hannah’s mare picked her way down the hillside and came up next to Alabaster at the base of the hill. “Well, this is it,” he said, spreading his arm wide to indicate the corrals and structures.

Hannah looked at him blankly. The corrals were empty, and there seemed to be no one around.

“Come on,” Win said. “I want to show you something.” They dismounted, tied the horses, and walked toward the newly erected barn. He swung the door wide for her to enter.

“Almost finished. Some work inside and some paint outside left to do,” he said with satisfaction.

“This week will do it, and then we’ll be ready for occupancy. Don’t you think?” He turned to a very puzzled Hannah.

“Yes, it does seem to be almost finished,” she responded. “Are you planning on moving some of your horses here from outlying pastures or the main barn?”

“No,” he said. “I’m not. This is where I thought we could put your adoptees.” His eyes were twinkling with delight now.

“My adoptees?”

“I read those articles you gave me last month,” he said soberly. “And I know how you feel about what’s happening to the American wild horses, the mustangs. You told me yourself about wanting to do a series of stories on the Adopt-a-Horse Program sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management and all the problems plaguing the plan. I thought if you had some space to save a few yourself, it might ease the pain I know you feel for those animals. And we do have room here at the ranch to take in a few.” He looked at her hopefully, wanting so much to please her and let her know he understood how seriously she took this cause.

“Win, I can’t let you do this for me,” she said. “Even if I wanted to, it’s not right. And besides, I could never afford it. At best, I might scrape up the money for the initial adoption fees.”

“Who says it isn’t right?” he broke in quickly. “We can make it strictly a business deal. You can rent the space at a price you can afford, and I’ll give you the feed to start you off. Simple as that. Now it’s settled. How soon do you want to see about the adoption? I’ll even throw in a little assistance in the training program if you’ll settle for one old trainer, me. We’ll turn them into trail mounts and find homes for them. When you begin to turn a profit, you can start buying the feed, stock, and all that. I know there must be good homes to be found for well-schooled riding horses.”

She hugged him. “Oh, Win, it’s perfect.”

“One stipulation,” he cautioned her sternly. “You do your articles on saving the horses, but leave all the corruption, especially Vincent Rossi, out of it. He’s major trouble.”

Her brow furrowed, “Well, if he’s involved in any way, that will be hard to do. But I’ll try. I give you my word on that.”

“Good. Then let’s get down to business. As I understand it, all you need is a $125.00 adoption fee and a horse trailer to haul the animal. Do you have any idea where to go to get these horses? Are they rounded up out in Montana, Wyoming, or where?”

“I’ve gotten some information, Win, but I’ll get more next week. I think a lot are in Nevada. I’ll find out.”

“Good. I’ll wait to hear from you about it in a few days,” he said. “Now we better get back to the ranch and to the city. I have an early-morning deposition to prepare for if I’m going to continue to have any law practice.”

All the way back to the ranch house, she chattered excitedly about the mustangs, the Adopt-a-Horse Program, and their plans. Win smiled happily at her, knowing the project was sure to bring her closer to him. The idea had come to him almost immediately after she had shown him the tiny newspaper clipping about the BLM’s horse adoption program. Her passion and love for her work involving the humane treatment of animals really did impress him. She was dedicated and tireless in her efforts to expose animal abuse and exploitation. He was really looking forward to helping her, but mostly, he had to admit, he just wanted to be important in her life. He’d known that much after their first date.
They had met so unexpectedly. She was seated with friends in the box next to his on the opening day of the Penbrook Park Races. Quite by accident, they were introduced by his friend Neil Jacobs, whose thoroughbreds were running that day. She immediately impressed him with her quiet, unassuming manner. Neil had spoken of her articles and told him she was sure to be a candidate for the Pulitzer Prize one day.

Long ago, after losing his first wife to cancer, Win had resigned himself to a solitary life. But looking at Hannah’s young, eager face today, he felt how much he wanted her near him. At forty-five, Winston Caughfield III was a handsome, distinguished man, and he was very aware that he was fifteen years her senior. But when they were together, the age difference seemed of no importance to either of them. In many ways, she seemed mature far beyond her years, perhaps because of her total commitment to her work and the tragedy of her young husband’s death. She seldom spoke of her loss; only once had she mentioned that ill-fated Chicago flight. She was very courageous. He looked over at her now, long stands of hair loosened from the barrette streaming in the wind as she rode. He never would have suspected that there was such strength in that delicate figure riding beside him, but more than once he had seen her face her adversaries with determination. Some secret source of energy seemed to well up and spill out of her. He’d known when she started her investigation into this horse thing that she would be relentless. He looked forward to sharing in it, but at the same time he felt a foreboding sense of fear for her. Above all, he wanted to protect her and keep her near him.

As a novelist, I draw on many real life experiences to provide background for my books. After completing studies in Literature and History at Occidental College, I became a staff writer on a travel magazine, and throughout my career I have traveled extensively all over the world. Because I love horses, I owned and trained them. I support horse rescue and wild mustang preservation. Based on my experience with horses and my research on abuse issues, I wrote Pegasus.

As a descendant of James Monroe, I did extensive research at the James Monroe Museum in Virginia about him and his wife Elizabeth Kortright Monroe. I also visited their home, Ashlawn/Highland in Albemarle County. This resulted in my novel, The Beautiful American. Making Wishes, was based partly on my experiences as creator, owner and operator of a greeting card company.

Elloree Prince is an attractive, creative young woman who marries a wealthy businessman, Tom Randall. After courting his bride with unrelenting determination, Tom moves her into old-moneyed Oak View, where generations of Randalls have lived for years. Outwardly, Elloree appears to settle into raising their two sons within Oak View’s stifling social structure, but inwardly, she yearns for her artistic work. An unexpected phone call from Mark Williams, her former employer, offers her the career opportunity of a lifetime, and she must make a choice. She is torn between her devotion to her sons and her love for her work. Her decision to return to Wishes, Inc. brings dramatic life changes to her and the people she loves.
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Genre - Women’s fiction
Rating – PG-13
“Abby Long is thrilled when she offers the winning bid for an antique desk at an auction. With its intricately inlaid woods and elegant style, the desk is perfect for Abby; it is the gift she promised herself to finally celebrate her thriving antique business. She has no idea that the antique desk holds a secret that will lead her on a fascinating, life-changing journey back in time.

When Abby discovers a hidden diary stuffed inside a secret compartment in the desk, she can hardly wait to read the spidery, faded script. As she carefully turns the tattered pages, she reads the captivating story of two remarkable women from opposite backgrounds who somehow manage to form an unforgettable bond against the backdrop of a fledgling America struggling to find its place in the world. Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, the wife of James Monroe, and Jasmine, a young slave girl, develop an extraordinary relationship as they are united by pivotal historic events, political intrigues, and personal tragedies.

From a bucolic Virginia plantation to the bloodied, starving streets of post-revolutionary Paris, this powerful tale follows the lives of two courageous women from the past as they quietly influence—and inspire—a woman of today’s world.”
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Genre - Historical fiction
Rating – G
Widowed at thirty, Hannah Bradley is a successful journalist focusing on animal abuse issues. An accidental meeting introduces her to lawyer, Winston Caughfield III. Drawn to Hannah’s gentle beauty and fierce commitment to her work, Win joins her in a fight to save wild mustangs from slaughter. Together they rescue a badly injured horse with a mysterious background. 

Hannah’s search to discover the animal’s true identity leads them into a web of black marketeering and international intrigue. Action packed with crisp colorful dialogue the story propels the reader to a race against time conclusion. Marilyn Holdsworth delivers a gripping tale of mystery, adventure and romance guaranteed to hold the interest and capture the heart. She brings true-life characters together with real-life issues to create a fast-paced irresistible story.

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Genre – Contemporary fiction
Rating – PG
More details about the author
 Connect with Marilyn Holdsworth on Facebook & Twitter

#Excerpt from DARK CHEMISTRY by Kirsten Mortensen @KirstenWriter #AmReading #Suspense #Romance

This excerpt is from Chapter 3 of the book. Haley Dubose—a spoiled, shallow rich girl from Southern California—has reacted exactly as you’d expect to the news that, in order to inherit her late father’s estate, she has to move across country and run his company for two years. She threw a temper tantrum and stayed out too late, drinking with her friends.

Now it’s the next day and she’s in the airport, getting ready to board the flight to Amesbury, New York, that will change her life forever…


Haley’s head hurt.

She stood in front of the counter by Gate 7, waiting for the airline attendant to get off the phone.

“May I help you?”

Haley pushed her boarding pass across the counter like a note to a bank teller. “I’d like to upgrade to first class,” she said.

The attendant shook her head. “I’m sorry. We’ve got a full flight. There are no first class seats available.”

“I have miles,” Haley said, but faintly. She wasn’t exactly sure if she’d be able to use Sheila’s miles on a ticket paid for by Marla, the person at her father’s company who’d actually bought it.

The attendant, in any case, didn’t seem to hear. “I’m sorry,” she said again, and then picked up her microphone. “Okay folks, we’re now ready to begin boarding. First class. Anyone serving in the military. People with small children or who need special assistance—you may now board.”

Haley looked down at her ticket. 23F.

The printing pulsed slightly in the fluorescent light. Pulsed like her headache.

And she gave up.

At least it was a window seat ...

She pulled her rollerboard over to the rows of gray chairs near the gate, and squeezed herself into an empty one between two other fliers to wait for her turn to board.

² ² ² ² ²

The plane rose, tipped. Haley watched the red tiled roofs north of downtown shrink and then the plane tipped again and circled counterclockwise out over the bay. The water looked like rippled glass from this height. Still climbing, circling now back over land—over the mountains, the tawny desert mountains that flank San Diego to the east ...

She shut her eyes.

With her eyes closed she lost any sense that the plane was moving forward. There was only the jiggling turbulence and the roar of the engines humming through her body ... but that was people talking, too? How could their voices be so clear with the engines that loud, she could hear every word they said ... a woman telling someone about her son joining the Navy ... a father promising a child that he’d get the iPad when the seatbelt sign turned off ... now the jiggling and the vibration of the engine made it feel like they were moving backwards ...

I can’t believe my father did this to me.

What had that lawyer told her?

That Richard Molnare’s entire estate was tied up in the company he’d founded. And in two years—provided Haley met the terms of the will—she’d be able to sell RMB, get her money, and go home.

“So what you’re saying is, at that point I get my 70 million dollars,” Haley had said.

But the lawyer had waved her hand back and forth, a gesture signaling not so fast. “Not exactly. RMB generates 70 million in annual revenue. That’s not the same as the value of the estate. You understand the difference, right?”

And Haley had pretended that oh, sure, she’d understood the difference all along.

And the lawyer had gone on for a bit about how the company had been doing well for quite a few years in a row. Something about how it was part of a growth industry, and that a lot of other companies like it were buying each other up, which meant that when Haley’s two years was up, chances were good that RMB would be easy to sell.

“Of course,” the lawyer had continued—the lawyer had talked on and on for hours, it seemed like—“what you take out will depend, in part, on how well the company performs when you’re running it. If you can keep it on its current path, it should be worth more, in two years, than it is today. Several million dollars more, perhaps.”


Haley opened her eyes and leaned forward.

A thick manila envelope protruded from the tote she’d pushed under the seat in front of her.

Everything she needed was in that envelope, according to the lawyer. Including a Ziploc bag with a key inside—the key to her father’s house.

She turned and peered out of the window. The ground was gone, everything was gone, they were inside a cloud—the cloud so thick, so uniformly white that it didn’t seem like they were moving at all—they were suspended, motionless except for that slight jiggling, they weren’t moving forwards they weren’t moving backwards they were motionless ...

She pulled down the plastic shade and closed her eyes again, the sensation growing again that she wasn’t moving anywhere ... she was suspended in the air somewhere, suspended in a box ... in a box over which she had no control, and what choice did she have but to sit here, to let herself be jiggled and vibrated and hopefully go to sleep ...

The “seatbelt sign is on” bell-tone dinged and the pilot came on the intercom to tell them the flight time to O’Hare would be four hours and they’d be out of the turbulence soon and to enjoy the flight.

What was it that Oliver said to me?

She couldn’t remember it—not the words—only that he’d been ugly to her.

The asshole.

Her head hurt.


A woman's worst nightmare

Drugged by something...that makes her think she's fallen in love.

All Haley Dubose has ever known is beaches and malls, clubs and cocktail dresses.

But now her father is dead.

And if she wants to inherit her father's fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California
for a backwater little town near Syracuse, New York. She has to run RMB, the multimillion dollar
chemical company her father founded. And she has to run it well.

Keep RMB on track, and she'll be rich. Grow it, and she'll be even richer. But mess it up, and her inheritance will shrink away before she gets a chance to spend a dime.

Donavon Todde is her true love. But is it too late?

He's RMB's head of sales – and the more Donavon sees of Haley, the more he's smitten.
Sure, she comes across at first as naïve and superficial. But Donavon knew Haley's father. He can see the man's better qualities stirring to life in her eyes. And Donavon senses something else: Haley's father left her a legacy more important than money. He left her the chance to discover her true self.

Donavon has demons of his own.
He's reeling from a heartbreak that's taking far too long to heal. But he's captivated by this blond Californian, and not only because of her beauty. It's chemistry. They're right for each other. But has Donavon waited too long to woo this woman of his dreams? Because to his horror, his beautiful Haley falls under another spell. Gerad's spell.

A web of evil.

Gerad Picket was second-in-command at RMB when Haley's father was alive. And with Haley on the scene, he's in charge of her training. But there are things about RMB that Gerad doesn't want Haley to know.

And he must control her. Any way he can.

Romantic suspense for your Kindle

Will Haley realize that her feelings are not her TRUE feelings?
Does Donavon have the strength left to fight for the woman he loves?
Will the two of them uncover Gerad's plot to use RMB pheromones to enslave the world?
And even if they do – can they stop it?

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Genre – Romantic suspense
Rating – PG-13
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