Saturday, July 20, 2013

Truth - Chapter 1 - part 2 of 2

Excerpted from Truth, Book 1 of the Donovan Legacy series. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or any information retrieval or storage system without the prior written permission of the author.

Continued from last week. If you missed last week's installment, you can find it HERE.

      Aaron Everett forced himself to walk away and not look back. He’d waited too long. That jerk Davis had moved in and taken the place in Missy’s heart that Aaron had coveted far longer than he should have.
He should have kissed her beyond thought and reason at Christmas like he’d planned. But he’d chickened out. Stupid, cowardly thing to do. He should have just done it and not worried about possible consequences or ramifications. At least then he wouldn’t have to walk around with this heavy weight of regret bearing down on him.
Okay, so maybe the moment had been interrupted by her father, but still. That was no excuse for not finding another opportunity, preferably away from the watchful eyes of her father and three older brothers. Her brother Dax was the only one inclined toward violence, and Uncle Wes probably wouldn’t have decked him or anything if he’d caught Aaron kissing Missy. He could have fired him though, and Aaron had been afraid to put the possibility to the test. No matter how close-knit their families might be.
Though no blood tie existed, Missy’s parents were Uncle Wes and Aunt Terry to Aaron and his siblings. Same thing with his parents and Missy and her brothers. If he had kissed Missy and she didn’t reciprocate... well, he’d rather not think about how ugly it could’ve been. His parents would have his head if he caused a rift between the two families.
“Just look at her as a fun little sister who sometimes gets on your nerves.” He couldn’t even remember how many times he’d told himself that. Useless. Utterly useless. All it took was one of those beautiful smiles to blast the “little sister” image clean out of his mind.
A huge reason to pursue his transient lifestyle. Travel for work, doing computer security consulting for Uncle Wes’ firm, kept a safe distance between them. Prevented him from divulging, and indulging, the desires of his heart.
Plus he’d figured Missy wouldn’t want to go out with a guy five years older than herself. He snorted and picked up his pace toward the car. And there she was dating a guy nearly as old as her father. Man, had Aaron pegged her wrong, or what?
Besides, she saw him as nothing more than one of her big brothers. He might as well be one of her brothers. Major drawback to growing up next door and spending so much time with them.
He’d bet she had a date with the cradle-robbing jerk that evening. In fact, he’d stake everything he had on it, and didn’t have a single doubt he wouldn’t win that bet. If he could get anyone to take him up on it anyway.
You should’ve told Uncle Wes about them months ago when you realized her family thinks their dinner dates are purely business. Another thing he’d played the coward about it. Aside from concern her father might shoot the messenger, so to speak, he hadn’t wanted to betray her confidence and risk her never speaking to him again. Then again, if Uncle Wes found out about this and realized Aaron had known all along... would he fire him?
Besides, the pastor at a church in Chicago he’d spoken with months before had assured him many young women dated an older guy at least once but the relationship generally didn’t last long. Part of their road to discovering who they were and what they wanted out of life or some such. You should’ve asked how long is long.
He should’ve kissed her when he had the chance.


“Hey, Mom.” Missy tapped the plexiglass window between her and the cab driver then pointed toward a shopping center. “Take me there instead please,” she whispered, holding the phone away from her ear for a moment. A new dress was in order. Her savings account wouldn’t hurt too badly for the hit.
The man nodded.
She sat back. “So, how’re you feeling?”
“I could’ve come, but your father put his foot down. You’d’ve thought I had pneumonia, the way he acted.” Warm affection softened the words.
“Yeah, well, you know as well as I do that airplanes are like flying petri dishes.”
“You need to stop listening so much to Anthony.” Mom chuckled.
“Maybe.” She shrugged then realized her mom couldn’t see her. “Anyway, Daddy’s just being careful is all. Those chest colds can turn to pneumonia, so you need to take good care of yourself.”
“Yes, Mother.”
They shared a laugh. “Sorry, Mom. Aaron and Daddy keep saying I’m just like you. Maybe they’re right on more counts than I realized.”
The cab came to a stop. Missy paid the driver and climbed out, shutting the door behind her. She was within an easy walk to the hotel, so if she could find the right dress quickly, she’d be back in plenty of time to get ready for her date.
“So? Are you going to tell me how it went today or do I need to get a blow-by-blow from Aaron?”
Oh, yeah. How could she possibly have forgotten the other reason for calling? Good grief. “Rebel and I won.”
“That’s wonderful! You two have worked so hard. You deserve this.”
She grinned. “One step closer to the Olympic team.”
“Regardless of whether you make the team or not, we’re so very proud of you.”
Why did Mom sound like it didn’t matter if she made the team? Wasn’t that what everyone wanted? Missy frowned and yanked open the front door of a store. “Um... so how’s Daddy’s training going? Is the new guy wrapping his head around all of that electronics stuff?”
“I suppose so. Your father hasn’t really said much other than that Darrell is bright and a nice guy. I haven’t seen much of him the last couple of days. He has Darrell helping him install an alarm system in one of the businesses in town, so this installation is taking longer than normal.” A chuckle reached across the span of the country, causing Missy to smile. “Then again, the fact he’s training Darrell may not have as much to do with it as you’d expect. If he’d stop calling every hour on the hour to check on me to see if I need anything, he might get done faster.”
Missy smiled. Could Davis love her the way Daddy did Mom? “Well, listen, I’ll give you a call probably sometime tomorrow. I have to go. I’ve got dinner plans and need to get ready.”
“Hang on a sec. ... That’s your father calling. Right on schedule. I better go. Enjoy dinner with Aaron tonight, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Bye, sweetie.”
The call disconnected before Missy could fully digest what her mother said and correct her assumption. Mom had known Aaron planned to invite her to dinner? Had she put him up to it?
Great. Another big brother scenario. And he was in league with her mother. So much for thinking he just wanted to spend time with her.
Good thing she’d made plans with Davis.


The clock crept toward eight o’clock. Missy waited in the hotel lobby for Davis, tingling with anticipation. What had he planned? And why so secretive? She smoothed her hands over the sleeveless, lavender evening gown she’d bought on the way from the stables to the hotel. Hopefully Davis liked it. It certainly cost enough to be awe-worthy.
She ducked behind a large potted plant and twisted to get the bustiere under the dress back into proper position. As uncomfortable as the thing was, she sympathized with women in the era of corsets. If this thing was so fidget-producing and unpleasant, she’d hate to think how bad a corset had to have been with the stiff ribbing.
She glanced down. Of course, if she had more bust, perhaps the uncomfortable undergarment would stay put. Maybe she should have padded it.
She snickered. Good grief. She hadn’t padded a bra since she was fourteen. Okay, sixteen and trying to get Aaron’s attention. Might as well be honest. But she was nineteen now. Adult women did not pad their bras.
Did they?
Hm. Maybe a question worth pursuing sometime.
The strappy, spiked heels weren’t much more comfortable than the bustiere. She prayed she could spend the bulk of the evening sitting. The shoes already killed her feet, but they matched the dress perfectly and looked far more appealing than riding boots would have.
Davis appeared through the revolving door, his cane more a walking stick than a real source of support given how his stride had improved with physical therapy. He looked dashing and handsome in a tuxedo. His choice of attire made her all the more grateful for her decision to splurge on the evening gown. He crossed the lobby and headed for the elevator.
Missy hesitated a moment, watching him. He’s not right for you. Conviction needled deep. She frowned and shook it off. Now she was letting her family’s unfounded opinions nag her. She lifted her chin, stepped from behind the potted plant, prayed the bustiere would stay put, and straightened her shoulders. “Davis.”
He turned with a questioning look that cleared in an instant to a smile of pure pleasure. His appreciative gaze slipped over her. He came toward her, the look in his eyes reflecting the same warmth and male interest as his smile. The hateful, uncomfortable shoes suddenly didn’t seem so bad. They brought her a few inches closer to Davis’ six foot height. She no longer felt quite so much like a child playing dress-up. The thought raised her chin another notch.
“You look positively stunning.” He gathered Missy’s right hand in his left and leaned down to kiss her gently. He tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and led her toward the doors, his gaze lingering. “I’m going to have to keep you close to me tonight, or someone might steal you away.”
She giggled then bit her lip, annoyed. Why couldn’t she have given him a sultry laugh as she’d seen women do in movies instead of giggling like some enchanted, mindless school girl? Heat crawled into her cheeks.
“That blush makes you look even more lovely.” He leaned down to whisper in her ear as he tucked her back close to his chest and stepped through the revolving door.
She smiled brightly as he moved to her side and dropped his free hand to her waist.
“Are you ready for a full evening? I have some wonderful plans for us.”
You bet, she wanted to yell. But restrained herself. Instead, she gave him what she hoped was a dignified nod. “I can hardly wait to see what you have in mind.”
Deep inside, where no one could see, she performed a little happy dance. That had sounded so grown-up. Maybe she really could pull this off. Excitement sent her heart racing.

If you've enjoyed this excerpt and would like to read more, please buy the book at one of the links provided on the Donovan Legacy series page of this blog.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Truth - Chapter 1 - part 1 of 2

Excerpted from Truth, Book 1 of the Donovan Legacy series. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or any information retrieval or storage system without the prior written permission of the author.
Sunday, November 2, 2003
Lexington, KY 

Stay calm. Nineteen-year-old Melissa “Missy” Donovan waited outside the ring after a clean run on her horse, Rebel. An entire swarm of butterflies flitted through her innards, leaving her mildly nauseous. They’d made great time over the jumps, and no bars went down. Thankfully, the drizzling rain of the day prior hadn’t made a mud-hole out of the ring, and the fog had lifted with the rising of the sun.
She leaned into Rebel’s black neck, her back to his muscular shoulders, and hugged his head, caressing his face in long strokes. The slow movements were as much to keep her calm as they were for him. Waiting for final results had never been so nerve-wracking. They were in first place, but four horses and riders remained to make runs. The first team to follow them had taken down two bars, which removed them from the running for first place.
So much hinges on today’s outcome. Probably a really good thing Mom and Daddy couldn’t come. If they were here watching, I’d probably be an even worse nervous wreck. She had to remember to call them after she returned to the hotel that evening. Check on Mom. And hopefully pass along good news.
Missy closed her eyes, head down, and concentrated on her breathing. Please, Lord. All this hard work has to amount to something. I just want to make everyone proud. Please.
The crack of a hoof on wood followed by the hard thud of a bar hitting the dirt sent her heart rate up. Another team out of the running. She glanced at the clock. That team might manage fourth if they kept their time on track and didn’t take down anymore bars. She took a shaky breath.
Rebel shifted, sensing her growing excitement.
“Easy, boy. Two more teams to go, and we’ll know.” She patted his massive neck to soothe him.
Minutes crawled by. And still they waited.
The last team finally finished their run. Missy listened for their time. When the announcement came, she forced herself not to jump up and down and cheer. Must be dignified and grown-up. Mustn’t bounce around like an exuberant twelve-year-old with no impulse control.
She straightened tan breeches, white shirt, and black coat, snapped the harness on her helmet, and checked the sheen on knee-high black boots. Then she walked around Rebel to give him a once over, straightened his forelock, and smiled. All looked good. She took a deep breath and mounted her horse. Giving him a pat on the neck, she waited for the call to return to the ring.


Missy and Rebel exited the ring. Davis waited to greet her with a proud smile. A champion who had retired a couple of years prior due to a serious hip injury, Davis Gallagher had coached her since the previous coach retired the year before. They’d started dating in early April. At least, she supposed that’s what they’d been doing with the occasional dinner out when Davis had time. Although he was twenty-five years her senior, she was the envy of many of the other female riders. She’d learned to ignore their catty comments.
She shied away from thinking about the fact she should have told her parents about their relationship long before now. Well, she had. Sort of. She’d mentioned to her mother from time to time that they went out to dinner. Okay, so yeah, maybe she’d let her believe they were business dinners. And she certainly hadn’t admitted to any of her family that the man had kissed her. For some reason no one could quantify, or perhaps would quantify, her parents didn’t like Davis. They’d even objected when she hired him as her new coach.
Maybe today’s win would change their mind, and they’d see what a great coach he was. If they’d just give him a chance, they’d find out what a nice guy he was.
A broad smile wreathed his handsome face as Davis leaned against the cane in his right hand. “See? I said you could do it.”
Missy slipped off Rebel’s back into Davis’ waiting arms. He hugged her tight then loosened his grip to plant a toe-curling kiss on her lips.
“I should never have doubted you,” she said, out of breath. She hugged him again to keep both feet on the ground and maintain her dignity. “And we couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Damn straight.” He chuckled and set a hand on her shoulder to push her away enough that he could look down into her face. “So, what do you say we go out tonight and celebrate?”
Her heart pitter-pattered. Handsome, charming Davis Gallagher truly wanted to spend time with her. A fairy tale in every way. Seven months into their dating relationship, it was still surreal. She bit her lower lip and nodded. “I’d love to.”
“Fabulous. I’ll pick you up at eight.”
She nodded, rose up on her toes to accept another kiss, then picked up the reins. “I better take care of Rebel so I can get back to the hotel.”
Someone across the grounds hollered for Davis. He lifted a hand in acknowledgement. “Wear something special tonight.” His grin hinted at a secret. Then he turned and walked into the milling crowd of horses, riders, and spectators.
Missy walked Rebel toward the stable. Wear something special? He’d never asked her to do that before. And what was that grin about? What kind of secret was he holding close? A new sponsor maybe? No. He’d never kept such things a secret before. It had to be something else.
She halted. Rebel stopped patiently. She scanned the crowd. Not for the first time, she wished she had reached at least her mother’s five-foot-seven height instead of a measly five-three. She couldn’t see anything over all the heads and horses around her. It was too reminiscent of getting lost in family gatherings, dwarfed by everyone and everything around her.
“Missy.” A hand popped above the crowd then a familiar face appeared. Dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a gorgeous smile Missy had known all of her life.
“Aaron!” A thrill shot through her. She hadn’t known he was coming.
He broke free of the people between them and jogged to join her, scooping her into his arms for a long, hard hug. When he finally set her down, chocolaty eyes brimmed with joy matched only by a bright smile.
“What’re you doing here?”
“I came to see you. What else?” He threw both hands out to punctuate the question and accidentally smacked a passing rider in the chest. “Oh, sorry.”
The rider scowled, shook his head and kept walking.
Aaron threw her a silly, somewhat embarrassed grin and said, “Oops,” with a soft laugh. “Anyway, did you really think I’d miss one of your big events? You were beyond wonderful.”
He was way too good for her ego. “You didn’t need to come all this way, you know.” Missy motioned him to follow her toward the stable. He immediately fell into step beside her and Rebel. “I know you’re busy with work and all the travel you have to do.”
“Ah, who needs work?” He waved a hand and grinned.
“Aaron.” She shook her head in disapproval.
He rolled his eyes with a snort. “I’m kidding. My boss knows exactly where I am.” His grin widened, laugh lines crinkling the corners of his eyes the way she’d always found incredibly hot and appealing.
“Well, that’s reassuring. I don’t want Daddy to fire you over me.” She sent him a teasing look and handed Rebel off to a groom named Alex Finnegan.
The stud planted all four feet and stood his ground. His ears flipped backward but didn’t quite flatten to his head. He snorted softly.
Alex hesitated. The man was new, so he wasn’t accustomed to Rebel, plus the horse didn’t know him.
“Go with him, Rebel.” Missy patted the horse’s shoulder and gave the groom a reassuring smile. “Don’t let him kid you, Alex. He’s nothing but a big sweetheart.”
“I sure hope so.” The man’s look was dubious.
Rebel gave her a disgusted look but followed the groom away.
“I see he still lives up to his name.”
“Not so much after a good run. He’s still my baby, so he listens to me.”
“Yeah, well, might I remind you that baby outweighs you by a thousand pounds?”
“Doesn’t matter how big he is. He’s still my baby.”
Aaron shook his head and chuckled. “You really are so much like your mother.”
“Thanks!” She gave him a bright smile.
“That wasn’t necessarily a compliment, but take it as you will.” He laughed. Then he shoved his fingertips in the front pockets of his jeans, suddenly looking nervous.
She cocked her head, completely befuddled. Aaron never got nervous. He was one of the most self-assured, confident, easy-going people she knew. It was one of the many things she’d always loved about him. Even if he would never see her as anything but a little sister. But then, maybe if she’d ever had the courage to kiss him senseless like she’d longed to for years, he wouldn’t be so blind to the fact that she was a woman.
She gave herself a mental shake. She was dating Davis, for pity’s sake. She shouldn’t allow her mind to toy with such thoughts about boy-next-door, nothing-but-a-friend, sees-me-as-a-sister Aaron Everett. Old habits insisted on rearing up. But that doesn’t mean you should entertain them, you nit. Time for a grown-up relationship, not childish fantasies.
“What do you say we go out to dinner tonight? Celebrate today’s victory.”
“Oh.” The starch left her shoulders. “I can’t. I already have plans.” She wanted to tell him more, but he hadn’t been very supportive when she’d told him months ago about dating Davis. In fact, he’d been rather hostile toward her coach as a result. She’d avoided the subject since then.
“Oh, well... that’s okay. Maybe another time.”
“I’d love that.” Missy glanced toward the stable with regret. “I have to make sure Rebel is settled in and get back to the hotel. I’m a bit short on time.” She cocked her head to look up at him. “What about lunch or dinner tomorrow?”
“I wish I could, but my flight leaves first thing tomorrow morning. I doubt I’ll even have time for breakfast. Duty calls.” Disappointment matching hers colored his tone, salving some of her regret.
“I’m glad you came today.”
“So am I.” He smiled, but it didn’t seem quite as bright and cheerful as before. “Your dad told me they wouldn’t be able to make it today. I didn’t want you left without a cheering section.”
Had Aaron figured out she had plans with Davis for the evening? If she didn’t bring it up, he wouldn’t either. She knew him well enough to know that about him. Guilt prickled. She should be honest with him.
Then again, maybe he hadn’t a clue what her plans were and was disappointed about not being able to spend time with her while they were in the same place.
Yeah. She liked that possibility much more. She’d go with that one.
“I better let you go,” he said after staring at her for a few moments. He pulled her into a hug. “Congratulations on the win today. You earned it.”
“Thanks, Aaron.”
“See ya ‘round, short stack.”
She took a playful swing, but he hopped back and laughed. “You know I hate it when you call me that!” Would he ever stop calling her that? Or was she stuck with the annoying label for the rest of her life?
“Touchy, touchy.” He backed away. Then he stopped, humor fading. “Bye, Missy.” He turned on his heel and walked off.
Missy watched him go. Had he ever said goodbye before? Maybe. But not quite like that. Like she may never see him again. She shook her head. Don’t be ridiculous. Their parents were next door neighbors and closer than family. They were bound to see each other for the coming holidays.
A yell from the direction of the stable pulled her from her thoughts. She listened. Was that someone hollering about or because of Rebel? The yell repeated, this time more clearly. Nope. Nothing to do with her or Rebel. But she headed for the stable anyway. Make sure Rebel is settled for the night and get to the hotel. Davis will be prompt, so you can’t be late.

To continue to part 1 of 2, click HERE. You can find links to purchase the book in either paperback or e-book on the Donovan Legacy series page of this site.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Love and Time

Photo courtesy of sullivan
My husband and I met and married in 1993. From our first date to the wedding was 3 months. Some thought we were doomed because we hadn't dated each other for months or years. Here we are 20 years later (as of this past week), loving each other more every day, and STILL learning about each other.

So much for the naysayers.

And, you know, it amazes me sometimes how much I'm still learning about my dear hubby after all these years. It seems like no matter how long you know someone, or how well you THINK you know them, there's still so much to learn, so many revelations to be had.

That's something that Missy and Aaron discover in my latest book, Truth, which released in June. They've know each other their entire lives. Grew up next door to each other, their families so close as to be blended into one family in many ways.

Though Aaron has spent the better part of the years teasing Missy mercilessly at every opportunity, the one time he hurt her feelings, he felt horrible and apologized. A teenage crush turned into more, but she kept that fact to herself. Aaron is five years her senior, and he couldn't possibly be interested in her. As she puts it:
Maybe if he hadn’t known her from birth and seen her go through the Play-Doh-eating phase at three, a paste-eating period at five, braces at fourteen, and acne at sixteen, he’d be able to take her seriously as a grown woman.
Aaron has adored Missy as his best friend for several years, and he's yearned for more. But she seems set on seeing him as nothing more than the "big brother" and friend who grew up next door. Then she gets engaged to another man and life takes an unexpected turn.

How did the characters in your latest book meet? What attracts them to each other? What is keeping them apart? Feel free to answer those questions and share the link to your latest book in your comment on this blog.

By the way, if you would like to read chapter 1 of Truth, you can find it HERE.