Today they announced the RuBY finalists for books published in 2017. A fabulous selection of books and talented writers. I feel incredibly honoured. I entered both my self-published novellas and one of them made the final. I had finalled with Swept Away in August 2017 and I decided to release them together as they are about a pair of siblings.

Sean from Swept Away is a musician and his sister Fran in Road Trip Baby was a career woman in the public service advising on multicultural issues to the politicians in power. There isn’t a lot of overlap as Sean’s story takes place before Christmas and Fran’s story happens after Christmas.

I’ve had a great year for competitions, with two of my unpublished stories finalling in the Emerald Pro and one short story each in the Little Gems Anthology and the one in the Spicy Bites Anthology coming third overall.

It’s been a busy year altogether with the release of my Crimson Romance duology with Nicole Flockton featuring a cousin of Fran and Sean at the Winter Games being a brief foray into the world of the big publishing groups and since then I’ve been working on new projects. These successes in competition have been great for boosting my morale and my confidence as a writer.

Once upon a time I wrote a story. Then another one. As you do. It’s the eternal cycle of being a writer. It’s like housework. Every time you finish and everything is (hopefully) perfect you have to start again.

I’ve lost count of the number of manuscripts I’ve started. Some will never see the light of day. But there are over a dozen that I finished. I made it to the end. And that’s how I know I can write.

If you can take your characters on a journey and get them to the end, you have written a story. We won’t discuss quality. That comes with practice. With those thirteen plus finished stories. The *cough* fifty plus unfinished remnants.

In the current climate, it’s very easy to self publish. It was always the consolation when I received rejections for my beautiful (in my head) stories. But if no-one else wanted to publish my stories, what did that say about the quality of my work?

Then in 2017 I entered a novella called Swept Away into the prestigious Romance Book of the Year competition run by RWAus. I had written it as part of a collaboration with other emerging writers for an anthology called Beautiful Disaster: An Anthology published in 2016. (Which is still available out there.)

I was nominated as a finalist in the RuBY. So at least that one time, I know I wrote well enough for people to enjoy the story. The top three were all self-published novellas. Both other nominees were multi-published experienced authors. To make my life complete, I was highly commended in the Valerie Parv Award. That meant top six. So I wrote reasonably well twice.

That gave me the courage to self-publish my little Christmas Novella. It didn’t exactly make a profit, but I learned a lot. Now I’m republishing Swept Away with a companion novella called Road Trip Baby. In February, Sean and Fran’s cousin Maybelle has a story in Man of Ice, part of the Medal Up Duology with the fabulous Nicole Flockton, set at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Two stories about finding and losing and finding love again with The One. Siblings Sean and Francesca Li have loved and lost. In these two stories, they have a second chance to work out a happy ending.

Swept Away was published in the Beautiful Disaster Anthology and was a finalist in the 2017 RuBY competition. The draft version of Road Trip Baby was on Wattpad. This edition brings the two linked stories together for the first time with an all new epilogue. Because epilogue.

 

Swept Away.

Swept apart by the force of a tsunami, Sean and Sophie have fought their own battles to survive. Now they must confront the challenges caused by the decisions they made separately, if they want to be together again.

Sophia thought she had her happy ever after. Until it was swept away along with her brand new husband only hours after arriving at their tropical honeymoon destination.

Sean lost a lot more than a limb in the aftermath of the tsunami that separated him from his wife. Still battling the effects of that day, he has to make hard decisions about his career as a musician.

Pushed into an engagement with a girl chosen by his parents, he can’t believe his eyes when Sophie appears at the party with another man.

Now both must choose between a new life and the life they thought lost.

Road Trip Baby.

Whose baby?

Fran knows Ethan doesn’t want children, but when contraceptive failure leads to pregnancy, she didn’t expect his total denial of responsibility. Now she has one last chance to find out the secret stopping him from accepting his child. The clock is ticking and they are a long way from home.

Ethan knew sleeping with his sister’s best friend was a mistake. Especially when he can’t give her the home and family she deserves. Her betrayal stunned him into a reaction that sent her away. Now he’s thinking clearly and maybe he does have something to offer, even if he has to reveal his shameful secret to make it happen.

Buy Links for the Duet. It’s also available in paperback from US Amazon.

Amazon Au

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Google Play

Smashwords

Happy New Year, and thank you for all the wonderful support. I hope the New Year Brings you all the Happy Ever Afters you could possibly want.

 

 

 

 

Oh Christmas Tree, My Christmas Tree

This post is part of the Coastal Christmas Blog Hop. I’m feeling a little bit of a fraud because while my story is set at Christmas time, there is no coast in sight, only a river that eventually leads to the ocean.

If you want to track down all the fabulous authors and check out their blog posts you should click here.Don’t forget to enter the Raffecopter to get your awesome prize of a $150 Amazon gift card and more than 30 eBooks from the participating authors.

 

So, this is my turn.

For most of us, Christmas holds memories, some good, perhaps some not so good.

Memory is a powerful thing. It takes us through time. Through memory we can relive the past. It is our memories that help define who we are. We carry our memories into the future, but only so far.

When I think of Christmas as a child, I have some vivid memories that remain clear even after fifty years.

One of my few photographs of my mother with me as a baby.

 

My mother with her little sister.

My mother was a dressmaker in my early years and I remember when I was around four, she made me a ballet tutu out of red taffeta and tule with a vee of sequins down the front. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I can see the glow of the taffeta and the sparkle of the sequins in my memory.  I also remember how tragic it was when I spilled cordial on it and it had to be washed. It was never quite the same afterwards.

The following Christmas, my mother made me school uniforms, which weren’t quite as rapturously received. But she did do something amazing. She found a tumble weed and decorated it as a personalised Christmas Tree using the smallest size balls and fine lengths of tinsel. It looked amazing. At least it does in my memory. There are no photos, even in black and white, because the following year, our house burned down.

The sad thing is that my mother probably doesn’t remember. Her memories are mostly from her childhood now. I’m the only person holding those memories.

 

My little Christmas story is about Holly, who loses her memory after an accident. When Ori finds her, he can’t believe she doesn’t remember the powerful connection between them. With his help, she finds those memories and discovers who she is, piece by piece.

If you’d like to read the story, all the links are here.

 

 

Yesterdays Blog

Tomorrows Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Peoples. Long time no see…post…whatever. I’m posting this because Kari is a friend who I met as an aspiring writer. Now she is on the road to having her debut story published so it’s all very exciting.

 

WILD CARD UNDERCOVER                                                                                              book #1 in the Love on the Line series

By Kari Lemor

Published by Kensington Lyrical Underground – March 2017
 All that glitters in Miami is not gold…

Lured in by a bad ex-boyfriend and the moonlight of Miami, Meg O’Hara is trapped in a nightmare situation, waiting tables for a crime boss and fearing for her life. When undercover FBI agent Christopher Shaunessy offers her a way out, she seizes it. Getting the goods on Salazar Moreno might not be easy, but she’ll do anything to be freed from her servitude and Moreno’s sexual advances, even if it means moving in with the charismatic agent.

Chris Shaunessy pretends to be Meg’s lover in order to keep her safe, but he steels his heart against further involvement. Passion has no place in the sordid world of organized crime. And yet, the closer they get to cracking the case, the stronger his feelings for the spirited waitress shine. It’s a dangerous game he’s playing, and taking Meg in his arms for real could prove a fatal misstep . . .

 

karicover

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

 

“Does that man never have a day off?” Margaret Kathleen O’Hara grumbled, grabbing her tote bag and sarong to move surreptitiously along the chairs by the pool. If the hotel manager saw her here again she’d be toast. He’d more than toss her out. Threats to call the police had been thrown at her for months now. Although in her case, that might be a better deal.

With her eyes trained on his location and the Miami sun beating down on her exposed skin, Meg backed along the water’s edge attempting to leave the area before he spotted her. She needed to shower the chlorine out of her tangled hair and change for work soon. He looked in her direction and she rushed behind the closest object. It was six-foot-plus of blond-haired gorgeousness. The man’s eyes were glued to something on the upper deck. Her boss was sitting there with one of his expensive bimbos. Did Blondie like that type? Maybe he wouldn’t notice her little game of Hide and Seek.

She leaned around him, ducking back when she saw the Pool Nazi still present. Getting caught was not an option. She already owed more than she could ever repay.

“Are you okay?” Forest green eyes stared down at her, puzzled. Would he buy that she was simply looking for shade? He was big enough to provide it.

With strong hands, he reached for her shoulders and Meg reflexively batted them away. She got enough of people groping her at work. Scorching curses froze before erupting from her mouth as the hotel manager moved, staring in their direction. Her mind kicked into overdrive, scrambling for a way to hide in plain sight.

“Sorry,” she squeaked. Grabbing the man’s head, she planted her mouth solidly on his. Short, thick strands of hair tickled her fingers. Firm lips yielded no resistance to the increased pressure of her mouth. Better make this look good.

An electric current skittered over her skin causing her heart to race. Maybe too good? Slowly he pulled her closer with his muscular arms. Her eyes flew open and she broke the connection. His hair-covered chest was too close for comfort. And much too tempting. Distance, she needed distance.

Her eyes darted around, seeing no signs of the manager. A sigh escaped. Time to make her exit as well.

“Sorry,” she mumbled again, looking up. Big mistake. The stranger’s curious eyes captivated her. They were soft and tender and filled with something she could…trust? If she still had any of that left in her. His hands were gentle as they held her. A tiny smile played about the full lips she’d brazenly kissed. She couldn’t believe she’d done it. Her mother would be appalled. But it had worked.

The chlorine scent from the pool faded into the background as sweat and suntan lotion wafted off the man’s damp skin. Her stomach did cartwheels followed by a few back flips. Dangerous.

“Let me go,” she hissed as reality returned. She gave a swift shove at his well-defined pectorals, rushing to get past, to escape from this distraction and the possibility of being caught. Her head whipped around at the sound of a splash and water droplets from behind. Gorgeous was just breaking the surface of the pool. Had she pushed him that hard?

“Oops.” No time for apologies. He looked like the forgiving type. She had to blow this joint before the Pool Nazi came back. Grabbing her fallen sarong, she ran across the deck to hustle inside the luxury hotel.

“Damn.”

The manager stood sentry near the front door. A crowd appeared at her back making that way impossible. The stairwell to the left would have to do. She’d go up a few floors then down to the side entrance. She wrapped her sarong around her as she carried out her plan to avoid being seen…and caught.

Meg should stop coming here to use the pool: this proved it. Sneaking in was adding to her already hellish life but swimming always helped work out the stress and the pool here was more accessible than any other on the strip. Pretending she had money to stay in a place like this, rubbing elbows with all the beautiful people, yeah, that got her through too. She’d learned the best times to come and not be seen. Well, for the most part. It was well worth the risk to get away from her dump of a room and its enchanting neighborhood. She’d leave this all behind her soon. She kept telling herself that. Had to believe it for her own sanity.

Footsteps behind her pushed those thoughts away. Her bare feet padded silently along the lushly carpeted hallway. Heart racing, she ducked into the ice machine alcove, her sigh echoing in the silence. She glanced down. Her bag? She must have dropped it as she rushed off. How had she not realized? It couldn’t have been the threat of being arrested. Or the crooked smile of the handsome stranger she’d kissed. The one with the kind eyes and gentle hands. No, she couldn’t allow herself to be led astray by a pretty face. Not again.

She continued down the hall, her trip cut short when someone grabbed her by the arm and spun her around.

* * * *

 

Links to all pre-order retailers can be accessed on the Kensington site

http://www.ekensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/34406

For more information on Kari Lemor or her Love on the Line series from Kensington Lyrical Underground, follow her on social media.

http://www.karilemor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Karilemorauthor/

https://twitter.com/karilemor

https://www.pinterest.com/karilemor/

Loner guy (special virgin edition) + free time x crisis of the soul + scorching hot pole dancer lust = unexpectedly beautiful sexy relationship.

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Amazon Link on pic

There are stacks of new books coming out today, but of course the one I’m going to get excited about is the one with a virgin. Not just any virgin. A male virgin. Yes, the hero is a virgin. The heroine is a pole dancer and I’m pretty sure she is NOT going to be a virgin.

The book is Offensive Behavior, part of a new series by Ainslie Paton. I haven’t read all her books but I certainly own them with the intention of reading them. The ones I have read are fascinating. The main reason I haven’t read them all is because they are mostly big books and I read according to time slots because I want my Happy Ever After in one sitting. For this reason I read mostly category romance or novellas and Paton writes romance that is definitely nothing like category. But there is something so real about her characters it’s a little bit scary. Hyper-real if you believe her tag line and I do.

Here is the blurb:

Everyone is virgin at something

This is the story of a man who’s never done it, and a woman with the experience to teach him how.

Reid McGrath is drunk and intends to stay that way. It’s what a man does when the world he built gets ripped out from under him. He’s staked a claim on the back booth at Lucky’s where he can fixate on a dancer who makes him wish things were different.

Zarley Halveston dances under shimmering lights in a barely there costume, but it’s not the gold medal life she trained for. She expected to stand on an Olympic podium, instead she glitters under disco lights, gyrating on a chrome pole.

Zarley can’t see the brooding man in the back booth, but she knows he’s there. He’s toxic, but it’s not her job to care, until the night he collapses at her feet and she has to choose to step over him or help him up.

Reid thought he’d hit bottom when he was fired as CEO of his own company, but kZarleynowing he’d needed the kindness of a stranger, and realizing she was the dancer he’d lusted after was a new low.

Question: What do a fallen golden girl turned exotic dancer and a sacked, socially awkward tech tycoon have in common?

Answer: A deep understanding of failure and the whiplash sting of humiliation, a need to re-build their dreams and the sexual education of a frustrated geek.

Amazon Oz

 

And here is a specially super duper hint about the heroine in book two of the series coming later in the year around the end of July. It’s almost like she wrote this series specially for me.

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BannerBD

Finally our Beautiful Disaster has happened. A few hiccups on the way delayed the release on line but the party went on regardless. We are all about the disasters and we know not to panic.  Don’t get confused if you don’t see my name in the listing as some sites can’t cope with six authors and I was lucky last. I’m on the cover and in the book. Also last…like a delicious dessert or perhaps the after dinner mints with a glass of something warming.

This has been a labour of love for all the authors involved and I’ve read and loved all the stories. I hope you do too.

 

ANTHOLOGY INTRO

Beautiful Disaster is a collection of six contemporary romances from rising names in the Transparentromance genre and talented newcomers.

Parched Earth by award-winning Escape Publishing author M.A. Grant – A prodigal son returns to his drought-stricken hometown for his nana’s funeral, only to discover the girl he loved and left behind isn’t about to let him slip away again.

Stranded on Savior Peak by Carina UK author Gina Rochelle – A divorce attorney-turned-author and his editor’s assistant find love in a raging hurricane.  But is this promising new bond stronger than the aftermath that threatens to tear them apart?

Island Encounter by Alice J. Miller – Justice, revenge and fear are ripping a couple apart, but when a volcanic eruption destroys everything in its path, will their love be enough to keep them alive.

Unstable Ground by Kensington Lyrical author Kari Lemor –  A rejected suitor finds himself trapped by an earthquake with the woman who turned down his proposal.  Will their forced proximity help them realize they belong together or will their rekindled feelings die with them?

Snowbound with the Stork by 2015 Maggie Award for Excellence winner Carrie Nichols – A freak storm traps a surly sheriff with his very pregnant ex. Can he convince her to give him another chance or will his secret destroy them both?

Swept AwaBDlargewordswagy by Fiona Marsden  – Swept apart by the force of a tsunami, Sean and Sophie have fought their own battles to survive.  Now they must confront the challenges caused by the decisions they made separately, if they want to be together again.  

 

 

 

Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

It’s also available on iTunes and will be on Kobo and B&N

In Real Life

I told you I had an excuse. I had a tummy ache. It turned out to be an ulcer but the fun part was I got to go and have some tests. The ultrasound was fun. I met a premmy baby and several pregnant women in the waiting room and, shy little flower that I am, I chatted with all of them. I discovered I do have a gallstone but not a problem one…yet. I also saw all my insides and so I’m pretty confident there is nothing there that is likely to kill me soon. I’m sure you are all relieved about that. The attention seeker hypochondriac in me was a smidgen disappointed.

The next fun thing was the gastroscopy. By that time I was feeling pretty ordinary and I forgot to say hello to my charming surgeon with the Scottish accent. Instead I demanded to be put to sleep immediately. So he sent me a delicious anaesthetist who did so pretty promptly. He held my hand. It was so romantic and inspiring so you can understand why I love writing about medical heroes.

Arc Reading

I didn’t do any proper ARC reading. I did get to read the ARCs from the Beautiful Disaster Anthology coming out soon (see below) and they were lovely. While I was sick, I read and reread lots of vintage by Carole Mortimer, Penny Jordan, Susan Napier and the original Presents wounded hero megastar, Violet Winspear. Better than Prozac.

Movies I’ve Seen

I went with Mother Dearest thailcaesaro see Hail Caesar  howtobesingleby the Coen Brothers. Seriously, there is something for everyone. If you are a fan of fifties Hollywood movies you will be like a pig in mud. There is even a little noirish touch as a thread running through the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it and Mother Dearest probably felt like she’d fallen into a time vortex and was reliving her teen years.

While I was by myself in Brizvegas, I watched How to be Single starring Dakota Johnson. This was largely a research event but I did enjoy the movie. It was more chick lit than strictly romance with an ensemble cast led by Dakota. She was very good in a role that had certain similarities to her character in the 50SoG movie but with only a passing millionaire and no red room.

ThTriple9e final movie I watched this month was Triple 9. I hadn’t heard of this until I rolled up at the cinema with a couple of hours to kill and a free movie pass to use. The impressive ensemble cast persuaded me. Kate Winslet as a Russian Mafia wife? You had me right there. It was a fascinating story, reminiscent of Fargo but with a touch of Tarantino.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’m Writing

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The Fabulous cover design by Author Jan Meredith

The Sekrit Project, now called “Swept Away”, is finally finished and will be published on the 20th March as part of the Beautiful Disaster Anthology. This project started a couple of years ago with a group of aspiring writers who met on the Harlequin discussion boards. M.A. Grant is a published author with several books under her belt and Gina Rochelle’s debut book came out just before Christmas 2015. Kari Lemor has some other anthology work behind her and the rest of the team have some interesting things coming up in the future.

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A Sunstone Pendant

Most of you would know by now that I have two short stories coming out in the Romance Writers of Australia Little Gems Anthology in August. I was in the top 14 for both my entries so I was incredibly excited. This years Gem is Sunstone and I did a historical and a contemporary story based around the stone.

My Road Trip Baby story on Wattpad has been hanging fire while I finished Swept Away and I hope to get another chapter up in the next few days. I also entered the Love Inspired Historical Manuscript Match competition at the end of February.  I’ve always been interested in the Love Inspired line but it is largely US based apart from some English Regency stories. I was fortunate enough to have my concept and first page picked to go through to the second round. I’m really looking forward to putting this story together but there is a timeline so I will have to be on target to make the next round deadline in early April. Whatever the outcome, I’m thinking I will learn a lot in the process.

What I’m Reading

I’m not going to have a lot of time for leisure reading over the next two weeks. I have been putting aside books for the Easter holidays and hopefully will catch up on some of my TBR piles. Yes, there are multiple TBR piles.

 

In Real Life

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Amy Andrews, Me and Ros Baxter

I went to the launch of Numbered in Brisbane with my writing group pal Dakota Harrison. You might recall I mentioned I’d started reading Numbered last week. I was slow to get into it because I was frankly scared it would be a tough read because of the subject matter. I think most of us probably know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and not all of them have been happy outcomes.

Anyway, I got to meet the fabulous Amy Andrews and her sister Ros, who flew in from Canberra for the occasion. It was held at River City Labs, the space was donated for the occasion by Baxter sibling Steve from the Shark Tank television show.

There were a stack of other authors at the event so I had a lovely fangirl time.

ARC Review

Numbered by Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter.

I could tell you about this book like this…(sort of spoilers so you could skip it and go straight to the review if you likenumbered)

  1. Laugh
  2. Snigger
  3. Drool
  4. Belly Laugh
  5. Whimper
  6. Disbelief
  7. Laugh
  8. Giggle
  9. Sniffle
  10. Smirk
  11. Laugh
  12. Cry
  13. Denial
  14. Laugh
  15. Sigh
  16. Cry
  17. Snort Laugh
  18. Cry
  19. Smile
  20. Cry
  21. Bargain (this was where I killed the fairy)
  22. Snot Cry
  23. Guilty smile
  24. Cry
  25. Sob
  26. Anger
  27. Sob more
  28. Struggle to smile
  29. Depression
  30. Snot cry
  31. Sobbing snot crying
  32. Acceptance
  33. Making public spectacle crying
  34. Hopeful smile
  35. All Choked up.
  36. Still all choked up. *sniff*

I should have known better. Amy Andrews wrote a Medical romance called “How to Mend a Broken Heart” a few years ago and I still cry when I try and talk about it. She wrote Sister Pact with Ros and it was funny and sweet and romantic. I never thought they would combine to create a book that was funny and sweet and romantic and MAKE ME SNOT CRY THROUGH HALF THE DAMN BOOK. And this isn’t some measly little category book. This is a full size book so that is a lot of crying.

The story is about Poppy Devine who starts the book being tested for a lump in her breast. The same day she meets Quentin who works as a chef in the hospital by day and plays in a rock band by night. When he flirts with her, she invites him to do a sky jump with her. The first impulsive thing she probably did in her life.

The sky jump is number one on a bucket list Poppy drew up with her best friend Julia years ago. Number Ten is sex with a stranger. See where we are going with this?

I didn’t notice until we were well through the book that the story is pretty much told from Quentin and Julia’s point of view, not from Poppy’s, the heroine.

Quentin is an unlikely hero for Poppy, who is constantly being told to take risks by Julia. He’s quite a bit younger than Poppy and, in his mind as well as Julia’s, not someone for the long haul.

Julia has been Poppy’s other half for eighteen years, since they met at boarding school at eleven. She is strong, aggressive and totally devoted to Poppy.

This is not really a romance, but is a love story. *wipes tears*

The relationships between the three main characters, with Poppy’s mother and Quentin’s band mate Spike thrown in, are complex and real and imperfect, just as they are.

There is a lot of laughter and humour in the story, but there is also the spectre at the feast, the cancer that drives the momentum of the relationships. It is a very real look at the impact of cancer on not only the person involved, but those around them.

It is a hard book to read. *sniff* But it is also a beautiful story and so very worth it. It is real and magical and bloody brilliant. Anyone who can drag me willingly through that kind of emotional angst had some serious writing cred.

Review copy begged from the publisher because I knew it was going to be great.

Movies I’ve Seen

The same day I went to the Numbered launch, we went to see The Choice by Nicholas Sparks. I will admit that I Googled it pretty thoroughly to ensure it wasn’t one of those movies that ends with one or other of the hero and heroine dying. Overall, I really enjoyed it. There was some great dialogue between the good ol’ boy hero and the uptight doctor in training heroine.

It was one of those opposites attract stories that worked quite well in this case. The hero is a small town vet and the heroine has plans of joining her rich boy doctor boyfriend at a prestigious city clinic when they get married. There was the usual angst you would expect from Sparks but the ending was sweet.

I also watched Deadpool which was right on the other end of the spectrum. Loosely linked to the X-Men universe, Wade Wilson is a former special ops soldier who has been doing small time shakedowns of local bad guys. He meets a girl and is all set for his happy ending when he’s diagnosed with Cancer. He then undergoes a secret procedure a la Wolverine to cure the cancer and become a supersomething mutant.

Thinks don’t go as expected and he becomes Deadpool. This is an origins story in case you didn’t figure that out.

The thing about this movie is it was funny. Dead funny. Crude, sweary, violent, whatever. But funny. There was also that self deprecating humour that made fun of itself and lots of in jokes for the dedicated fans. Wade Wilson is The Merc with the Mouth and he proves it, all the way through. Oh and there is a love story. He says so. And the sound track is fabulous.

What I’m Writing

After reading Numbered I’m not sure if I want to even try to write anything. But hey, it took two of them to be so brilliant so maybe I can be half as good…or a quarter…a bit…whatever.

I’m still uploading my latest Wattpad story, Road Trip Baby. Up to chapter eight and still going. I’m only doing a couple of chapters a week with everything else that’s going on. Nearly finished my Sekrit Project so will be working on that this coming week.

I did start a new Medical story for the fast track but it’s not going to be finished in time so I’ll put it aside. After listening to Tessa Dares Spindle Cove series on recent trips, I’m tempted to go back to my historical partials. I’ve not had any success with my submissions for The Spy Who Saved Me, seven passes out of ten subs. If I get a full set I’ll put the Spy series aside and work on something else. I’m finding I’m not getting overly despairing after the initial couple of disappointments. At least I’m getting some feedback from Wattpad to stoke my ego.

What I’m Reading

Dived into a batch of Presents for research, and review, as you can see. I’m thinking I might do a Presents style book for SYTYCW16.

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Recent reviews

Apparently once our entry for the NYCMidnight Short Story Challenge is received, we can post our short story to get feedback.

Genre: Fairy Story

Subject: An Accusation

Character: A Bed and Breakfast Host

Title – The Littlest Fairy Godmother

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, Cinderella met her prince charming, but things didn’t work out the way she expected. Now Sherry has met Zander again and he knows about the child she had after they parted, so with help from a very small fairy godmother, they may finally get their Happy Ever After.

 

“Once upon a time.”

Sherry was sick of those words. The only ones she hated more were the ones that came at the end of the storybooks her daughter loved. “And they lived Happily, Ever, After.”

All the same, she smiled as she closed the book and kissed her baby goodnight. At nearly four years old, it wouldn’t be long before she was off to school. Not a baby any more. She brushed the dark curls back from the damp forehead. It would be easier to push the memory of Zander into the past if Alexa didn’t look so much like him. Every day she had to confront those melting brown eyes, the firm jaw only slightly softened by her little girl face.

Downstairs she set the bread to rise for the breakfast rolls and checked over what else was needed for the morning. Only one couple were in residence tonight, but tomorrow a wedding group would be arriving ready for the celebration on Saturday. Three couples, five singles. The rooms were mostly ready. All she needed to do was prepare the last room once the current guests finished breakfast and left.

 

It was early afternoon when the convoy of four black SUV’s pulled into the circular driveway at the front of the guest house.  Sherry went immediately to the front door, curious to see who had insisted in taking over the whole of the guesthouse for the weekend under the name of Destoni Corp. Three large men in black suits were busy unloading the luggage while the other guests milled around, admiring the gardens and chattering. They were probably the bodyguards mentioned in the booking, occupying three of the single rooms.

Finally the men started herding the others into the house. Sherry smiled and shook hands with the three older couples with the same dark Mediterranean looks as the bodyguards. The next guest was an elegant woman around her own age with Nordic colouring and a slender figure Sherry envied. Automatically she put her hand out to the final guest. He didn’t take it and she looked up.

The air thickened and she struggled to draw breath. Zander?

“Surprise, surprise.”

“How?”

“We’re here for the Taylor wedding.”

“Cecy Taylor, who was at college with me?” Sherry swallowed, tasting bile. The girl who single-handedly sent her running. “I heard she was getting married, but she’s lived away from here since she graduated. How come you’re invited?”

He ignored her question, moving into the entry hall, hands buried in the pockets of his grey suit. Hastily she instructed the bodyguards as to the luggage. George, her general factotum and husband of the cook took over that task, guiding them to the staff stairway at the end of the house and Sherry returned to her guests.

“I’ll show you to your rooms so you can settle in. When you’re ready there will be afternoon tea available in the dining room to the left. The lounge room is on the right and beyond it we have a library and a billiard room for the use of guests. The swimming pool is accessed down this hall past the main staircase and along the patio.”

They followed her upstairs, quite happy to make themselves comfortable in their rooms before coming down to relax in the public areas of the B&B. Sherry held her breath when the blonde paused at the door of her room, half expecting Zander to join her. They looked like a couple. Perhaps it wasn’t protocol to be seen by the older family members to be sharing a bed. They were in adjoining rooms, though it hadn’t been specified.

“I’ll meet you downstairs, Jacinta.” His deep voice still had the power to thrill Sherry, even after more than four years. Even when talking to another woman. Thrill with an aftertaste of bitterness. Once that caressing tone had been for her.

Avoiding his gaze, Sherry opened the door to his room. His luggage was already lying on the rack. “I hope you’ll be comfortable.”

He sauntered across to the window, looking down at the pool. “I’m sure I will be.” He turned to face her. “You’ve done well for yourself. This place is quite impressive.”

“It was my family home. A windfall you might say, when they died.”

Something stirred in the depths of his eyes. Pity? “I’m sorry for your loss. When did it happen?”

“Four years ago, a little more.”

His eyes narrowed. “Is that why you left?”

“No.” The bald declaration hung in the air. “I have to go finish preparations for afternoon tea.”

Inclining his head, he dismissed her. Still as autocratic as ever. But when you grew up in the kind of wealth Zander Demetrius revelled in, it probably came naturally.

 

She didn’t see him alone for the rest of the afternoon. The group sat around in the large lounge room being served drinks from the bar. Sherry tried not to notice how intimate Zander was with Jacinta. She couldn’t even dislike the woman, who displayed a casual friendliness to the staff.

It wasn’t until the older couples had departed for the wedding rehearsal dinner with the bodyguards and she was cleaning up that Sherry found herself with Zander in the hall.

“Your friend is waiting in the lounge area.”

“She will keep. I want to ask you a question.”

She stiffened and forced herself to relax. He couldn’t know. “What kind of question?”

“What is a journalism graduate doing running a bed and breakfast?”

“I didn’t finish my degree. I came home and my parents died shortly after.”

“They were unwell? Both of them?”

“They died in a plane crash while holidaying in South East Asia.”

His chin dipped as he processed the information. “I didn’t realise.”

“How could you?”

“True. You made sure you vanished off the grid.”

“You knew I came from here.”

“Yes. But you didn’t come here immediately.”

He’d looked for her? “No. I stayed with an aunt for a while.”

The sound she dreaded came from the upstairs hall. Alexa, singing one of her favourite Disney songs. She appeared at the top of the stairs in her princess print pyjamas, a pink tutu, a glittering pink plastic tiara and waving a pink plastic wand.

The wand pointed accusingly at Sherry. “It’s time for my story.”

Zander stood in the centre of the hall, looking up at her. “Who are you?”

“I’m the fairy god-mother. When I wave my magic wand, Mummy will go to the ball.”

Sherry stepped forward. “Go back to your room, darling. I’ll be up in a few minutes.”

“I have to make the spell.” Alexa waved the wand and threw a handful of glitter into the air. “Abbacadabba, bibbety-boo.”

The glitter settled on the timber steps. Good job she had the hand vacuum with her. “Alexa. Bed.”

Her daughter giggled one last time and trotted away along the upstairs hall.

Zander put his hands on his hips, pushing back the coat of his dinner suit, showing off his tailored trousers. “Who is she, Sherry?”

“My daughter.”

His dark eyes had a steely glint in them. “Perhaps you mean, our daughter.”

“Why do you say that?” She was stalling and he knew it, his mouth twisting in derision.

“I’m not stupid. She looks enough like me without the guilty look on your face to confirm it.”

Sherry stood tall, stiffening her spine. “Yes, she is genetically yours. But that’s all.”

“How dare you keep my child from me? You did it deliberately didn’t you? Some kind of warped revenge.”

The accusation barely registered. “I did what I had to do.”

“If she is my child, I’ll be suing for full access.”

“I don’t think you’re a suitable role model for a vulnerable child.” She looked up at his glowering face. “What kind of father would a playboy with your reputation make anyway?”

“Playboy? I don’t think you’ve been keeping up. I’m very respectable these days. Not a whisper of scandal anywhere.”

A cold lump settled in her chest. “Are you married? Engaged?” Her giveaway glance went to the lounge room.

“You think Jacinta has reformed me? Wouldn’t you like to know?”  He turned away as the woman in question emerged.

“Darling, we should be going.” She took Zander’s arm with a perfunctory smile at Sherry. “The food is lovely.”

They drifted out and Sherry sat on the seat by the door. He knew about Alexa. There was bound to be trouble if he was serious about wanting access. Zander had money and lawyers to burn. She had a few hundred in the bank and possession. Somehow that didn’t seem very comforting.

 

Sherry was cleaning the lounge room, while the guests were at the wedding. It was late, because she’d had to shop for fresh fruit for tomorrow’s breakfast. By the time she’d done that and spent some time with Alexa, darkness had fallen. The click of the front door opening and closing and the sound of footsteps across the timber floor was the only intimation before Zander walked into the room.

“Is something wrong?”

“I thought this might be a good time to catch you alone.”

She couldn’t remember where Alexa had gone, but she was quite safe in the house. “I can spare a few minutes. I have to put my daughter to bed.”

“Yes. Your daughter. How old is she?”

The date was easy. She gave it to him and watched him calculate.

“You must have known before you left.”

“I did. But we weren’t talking at the time.”

He shifted on his feet, long black lashes shadowing his eyes. “Is that why you didn’t tell me?”

“In part. I maxed out my text message allowance that week.”

“I read them. There was nothing about being pregnant.”

“You expected me to text you the news that you’d knocked up your ex-girlfriend?”

“Were you my ex? I don’t remember us breaking up.”

“Only because you didn’t have the decency to tell me. You decided to show me by taking out every girl in my dorm room. It was pretty clear.”

His mouth shut, the lips thin, as a scuffle of sound came from near the windows. Alexa crawled out from behind the couch, wand in one hand and tiara crooked on her dark curls. “Are you the handsomest prince?”

Zander adjusted the headpiece with a gentle hand. “Sorry, sweetheart. No princes here.”

Her bottom lip drooped. “I thought you might be, because you knew Mummy a long time ago. Did you know her handsomest prince?”

“Your Mummy has a handsome prince?” He darted a cynical glance up at Sherry above the child’s head.

“Yes. It’s my favouritist story.” She sucked in a deep breath and waved her wand. “Once upon a time an orderinary girl met a handsome prince at a ball and they danced all night. But in the morning, the handsome prince had to go back to his own kingdom and Mummy, that’s the ordery girl, was sad for a long time. Then one day a fairy brought her a baby princess. That’s me. So she was very happy.”

His brows drew together in a thick line above his eyes. “I’m sure she was. What an interesting story.”

“She doesn’t have the ending yet.”

“It sounded like a perfectly good ending. For her.”

Sherry winced at the subtle barb, hidden in his affable tones.

Alexa shook her head. “But she didn’t get to live happily ever after with the handsomest prince.”

“No, I suppose she didn’t. But you can’t have everything. She did get a princess to keep all to herself.”

Anger flushed through Sherry’s chilled body. “If the handsome prince bothered to come back, or even answer his calls, he might have had his own princess too. He preferred to get lai…”

“Mummy? Are you cross with Mr. Dem…with the man?”

“No, darling. But it is past your bedtime. Say goodnight to Mr Demetrius.”

“Goodnight, Mr Demetrus. And may frights of angels take you to your bed.”

His eyes softened as he kissed the upturned cheek. “Thank you. I hope your dreams are happy ones.”

Sherry steered her daughter from the room, pausing at the door when Zander spoke her name.

“We need to talk. I’ll wait here for you.”

“Don’t you need to get back to the wedding? What about your…partner?”

“Jacinta? Her fiancé is the best man. My brother Antony. Now his official duties are more or less over, he can take care of her.”

She steadied herself on the door frame. The room spun hazily. They weren’t together. Not that it meant anything. He could have any number of woman in the background. That had been his playbook when she first met him at the university.

 

Reluctantly, she returned to the lounge room. The confrontation had to happen. She just wished she’d had time to dress up. He was standing in the middle of the room holding one of the shoes she’d taken off when she was cleaning up.

“These are pretty.” He held up the sparkly silver slip-on.

“Alexa’s choice.”

“She seems happy.”

“I like to think she is.” Maybe it wouldn’t be so easy once she started school and felt the dearth of a father.

“I know I behaved badly at college. My ego took a dent because you wouldn’t come with me when I finished my masters. The other girls meant nothing.”

“Except Cecy.”

He cocked his head. “Is Cecy the wicked witch of this fairy tale?”

“She slept with you. I met her coming out of your apartment. She confirmed it.” Her eyes were dazzled by the play of light as he fiddled with the shoe.

“She didn’t. It was Paul Varis, my cousin. She was drunk so I put her to bed in my spare room. Paul arrived in the early hours. She thought he was me, he wasn’t the kind to say no. The rest is history. They got married this afternoon.”

“Is this the truth?”

“I might avoid talking to you, but I’ve never lied. I’ve been wanting to find you ever since. When I saw your name on this B&B I took a chance.”

“I didn’t mean to keep her from you. It was never in my plan. It just happened.” A ball of pain pressed at the back of her throat. “I’m so sorry.” A hiccupping sob bubbled up and she sat on the couch, knees too weak to hold her.

“Don’t cry, my darling.” He knelt before her, one hand resting on her knee. “I’ve a lot to make up for, haven’t I?”

“I should have tried harder. Not let my hurt feelings stop me.” The sobs pushed up, choking her.

“Is this where I try the slipper on you?” His wry tone stopped her tears. She stared down at him as he slid the shoe onto her foot. He looked up and met her gaze, eyes warm and tender.

Maybe there really was such a thing as living happily ever after.