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Proving Paul’s Promise

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Young casual couple isolated on white



I’ve heard that the best way to get over one man is to get under another. With that said, I doubt this is what the speaker had in mind. A hand squeezes mine tightly. It was pretty stupid of me to allow them to be in the room with me for this part because I’m feeling terribly exposed, despite the fact that my lower half is draped with a sheet. There’s just something about having my legs up in stirrups and the top of a woman’s head visible between my thighs that makes this all awkward.

It should be beautiful, and really, it is. It’s just…odd.

I have Cody on my left and Garrett on my right. They lean toward one another to kiss over my head, and Garrett uses his free hand to wipe a tear from Cody’s cheek.

The doctor looks up from her perch down below. “You doing okay up there?” she asks.

I squeeze my eyes shut. “Fine,” I say.

Garrett leans down and kisses my temple, his lips lingering there. “Thank you for doing this,” he whispers vehemently, and emotion swells within me.

“Thanks for letting me do this,” I say back. I tip my face up, and he presses a soft kiss to my lips. There’s no passion in this kiss whatsoever. There’s only emotion and gratitude and a type of affection like I’ve never known.

Cody squeezes my shoulder. These guys make the cutest couple. They have been together for about twelve years, and after three failed adoptions, they wanted more than anything to have a kid. They didn’t even ask me. I volunteered to be their surrogate. I’m healthy, I’m young, I’m in love with the type of love they have for one another, and I wanted to give them their own baby.

We used a donor egg and a mishmash of their sperm. The donor egg is so I could stay as far removed from the situation as possible. The mishmash is so they won’t know who the father is. They’ll both be fathers. All I know is that I don’t want to be a mom. But I’m willing to let the little guy cook in my uterus for nine months or so. Then I will gladly hand him over to these wonderful men, and they will be able to raise their own child.

I wince as the doctor cranks the speculum down and pulls it from my vagina. She lifts my feet from the stirrups and rolls her chair back. “Friday,” she says. That’s my name. Friday. Like the day of the week. It’s not the name on my birth certificate, but it fits me better than that old relic of my former life ever did. “In about ten days, I want you to come in for a blood test.”

Cody rubs his hands together. He’s so excited that I get all teary again. That could be the hormones they used to get me on a cycle similar to that of the egg donor, but either way, I’m much more emotional than on a normal day. “Ten days until we find out if we’re going have a baby!” Cody squeals.

A grin tugs at my lips as Garrett helps me sit up. I feel a lot better with the gown covering all my girly bits, instead of having my hoo-ha up in the air for everyone to see.

“I can go to work today, right?” I ask.

She nods her head. “The only thing you can’t do is have an orgasm.”

Heat creeps up my cheeks, so I slap my palms against them. “Oh no!” I cry. “What am I going to do without my daily orgasms?”

Garrett holds up two fingers. “Twice on Sundays.”

“Don’t do any heavy lifting or any strenuous exercise. And no warm baths,” the doctor says. She looks at the tattoo on my knee with keen interest. It’s a spider web with a baby rattle in the middle. “Interesting,” she says, more to herself than to me. Hell, she already saw the one on my inner thigh.

I cover my knee with my hand, and she jerks her gaze away. I have tattoos all over my body. I love them, and each one tells a story. I drew most of them, and they all mean something to me. I know people with tattoos have a lot of stigmas attached to them, but I just like art, and I like to wear art on my body. Judge me if you want to, because I don’t care.

“I have to get back to work,” Cody says, and he leans over to kiss Garrett on the lips. Then he kisses my temple and leaves, his smile big and bright.

Garrett hangs out with me while I change clothes behind the curtain. I can hear his feet hitting the side of the exam table he’s sitting on. He’s like a giddy little kid with his feet swinging back and forth. “Where do you have to go when you leave here?” he asks.

“Work,” I say as I pull my dress down over my head. I like vintage clothes, and today is no different than any other day. I wonder how I’m going to be able to pull off the vintage look when my belly is big and round. I am not sure vintage-inspired maternity clothes will be easy to find.

“Don’t you want to take the rest of the day off?” he asks. “We could go shopping. Buy some baby stuff.”

“Tempting,” I say. Honestly, it sounds like hell. “I’ll leave that to you and Cody, if you don’t mind.”

“Fine,” he tosses back harshly, like he’s annoyed, but I know he’s not. “Let me buy you lunch, then. And I’ll walk you back to Reed’s.”

Reed’s is the tattoo parlor where I work. The idea of him walking me there makes me surprisingly joyful. “Will you be sure to kiss me before you leave?” I ask. I grin as I put on my delicate shoes with the tall heels that I love so very much. They match the dress.

“Why?” he asks, instantly suspicious. He jerks the curtain back as I pull my hair from the neck of my dress. He grins. “Which of the Reeds are you hoping to make jealous?” He narrows his eyes at me.

I start to tick them off on my fingers. “Logan is married and has a baby on the way. Pete is with Reagan. Matt is married and knocked up his wife. With twins!”

“So that leaves Sam and Paul.” He appraises me shrewdly.

Kissing Sam would be like kissing my brother. Paul, on the other hand…

“Mmm hmm,” Garrett hums. “It’s the big one, right?”

“He’s not that big,” I mutter to myself.

“Are you kidding?” he shrieks. “He’s fucking huge.” He grins. “I bet the rest of him is just as big.”

Sometimes having a gay man as a really good friend has its advantages. Because a straight man would never wonder how big Paul Reed’s dick is. “I wouldn’t know,” I murmur. His baby mama would, though, because he still sleeps with Kelly. That part makes my gut ache.

“Does he still walk you home at night when the shop closes?” Garrett asks.

I shrug. “One of them does.”

“Does he still try to kiss you?” Garrett sings. He’s like a damn woodland creature with his giddiness. I expect him to break out into song any second.

“That only happened once,” I say. It was the kiss that rocked my world, though. I pick up my purse and step out into the room.

“And?” He makes a rolling motion with his finger as he opens the door for me and we walk through the hallway. He checks us out, pays the bill, and we step into the sunshine.

“And what?” I huff as I put on my sunglasses and pretend like I don’t know what he just asked.

“The man laid one on you and you still have to see him every day, Friday. How’s that going?” He takes my hand in his and threads his fingers through mine as we wait for the subway. The baby doctor’s office is on the good side of town. And Reed’s is not. It’s in the area that I love more than anything.


He gapes at me, his mouth hanging open. “That’s all I get? Fine?” He points to my belly. “You might have my baby in your uterus, and that’s all you’re going to tell me?”

I cover his mouth with my hand. “You don’t get any say over any part of my body except for that baby that may or may not be growing in there.”

“Oh, that was cold,” he says. But I have quite effectively changed the subject.

He talks about nurseries and bottles and clothes and all the things I don’t even want to know about until we get to Reed’s. When we get there, he stops in front of the shop, cups his hands around his eyes, and looks through the glass into the room.

“Yep,” he says with a grin. “It’s showtime!” He takes my hand and opens the door. The grin falls off his face, and he replaces it with a look of aloofness. It’s uncanny how he can do that. He minored in theater many years ago, though, so I guess it makes sense. He’s a teacher now.

I drop my bag behind the desk at the front, which is where I usually work. I design the tattoos, and sometimes I do the actual tattoo part. I’m still learning how to do that, but drawing is my thing. That is where my skills lie—I’m an art major at NYU, after all. Or at least I was until I graduated two weeks ago. Now I’m just a possibly-knocked-up soon-to-be-homeless person. Oh crap. I haven’t told Garrett and Cody about my living situation yet.

Paul looks up from where he’s doing a tattoo on a guy’s shoulder, and he frowns. “Morning,” he says, looking from me to Garrett and back. Garrett swells up in size. Honey, no matter what you do, you will never look as big or as tough as Paul Reed.

“Morning,” I chirp back.

Logan is here, too, and he smiles at me and waves. Logan is deaf but can speak, and we all learned how to sign many years ago. I wave back.

Who’s that? he signs at me and points to Garrett.

I put my hand on Garrett’s shoulder. “Garrett, this is Paul, and the quiet one there is Logan.”

Logan stands up and shakes Garrett’s hand. Paul just grunts.

“Nice to meet you,” Garrett says. He turns to me and tips my face up. He leans down close to my ear and says, “I bet he’s fucking huge.” I laugh and try to turn my face away, but he just holds me there with his thumbs beneath my chin and his fingers splayed toward my ear. Then his lips touch mine.

He’s actually a really good kisser, and I kind of envy Cody a little bit, because if he goes after sex the same way he’s going after this fake kiss, Cody’s getting it pretty good.

The only thing about it…there’s no spark. Not a single one. It’s just warm, wet lips sliding across mine, and a really quick touch of a tongue. I pinch his side, and he laughs against my lips and pulls back. He drags his nose up and down the side of mine.

“Cody is going to love it when I tell him about this.” I stab him in the side with my index finger, and he bends over, trying not to laugh.

“Remember what the doctor said,” he tells me, facing me and speaking quietly. “No orgasms. Not even ones offered by great big studly tattoo artists that make you sweat.” He waves a hand in front of his face like a fan. “He makes me sweat a little bit, too.”

I hear a clatter behind us as Paul throws down his tattoo gun and stalks toward the back of the shop. He pulls the privacy curtain closed behind him.

Logan looks up at me, grins, and just shakes his head.

Garrett kisses my forehead, lingering there for a second. “In ten days, you might be my baby mama,” he says, his body rocking against mine as he chuckles.

I punch his shoulder and point toward the door.

Next time he fake kisses me, I have to remember to tell him not to use tongue. I wipe the back of my hand across my mouth and watch him leave. He waves and blows me a kiss.

Logan throws up a hand to get my attention. You’re playing with fire,he warns. He jerks his thumb toward the curtain. He’s pissed. He must not want Paul to hear him or he would be talking instead of signing.

I wave a breezy hand at him. He’ll have to get over it.

He looks toward the curtain. You should go talk to him.


Because he still has a client out here, and he had to leave because you were sucking face with the other guy.

Crap. Paul walked away with a client in his chair. With a half-finished tat. He has no right to be angry.

Logan’s brow arches, and he shakes his head.

Well, he doesn’t.

Quit being a baby, he signs. He jerks his thumb toward the curtain again. Go talk to him.

I heave a sigh and go to get Paul out of his snit.





I can’t fucking believe she brought that man here. To my shop. Where I work. Hell, it’s where I live.

I lean against the counter and balance myself on my palms. My forehead rests against the upper cabinet, and I force myself to take a deep breath and count to ten. It was all I could do not to jerk him off her and show him the door. With my foot up his ass.

One of my brothers left shit on the counter that should have been put away, so I clean up and slam the cabinet door. That feels a little better, but not much. I can just imagine that douche in the front of the shop. He’s probably got his hand all the way up her shirt by now.

I slam another door.

The curtain rattles behind me, and a breeze tickles the back of my neck as someone walks into the space. “Not now,” I grind out.

“Then when?” she tosses back.

Great. It would be her that came to get me. I knew it was her. No one else makes the hair on my arms stand up or gives me fucking chills. Not to mention that the perfume she wears gets to me before her voice does. It reaches across the room, creeps up my nose, and wraps itself around my heart. I lower my head and grit my teeth. “Go away, Friday,” I say.

“You have a client waiting,” she says, as though I don’t know.

“I’m aware.”

“Then what the fuck are you doing?” she asks.

Friday is the only one who talks to me like that in my shop. She calls me on my shit, and she has since the day she first walked in here. She was eighteen years old, and she had just started at NYU. She walked in looking like she was lost, and I hired her on the spot when she told me what was wrong with the tattoo on the side of my neck. She told me how she would change it and that any good artist would have known that it was placed wrong. She pulled out a sheet of paper and drew a quick sketch of a new design.

“Want a job?” I’d said.

“Yeah,” she’d replied. “But only if you’ll fix that fucking tattoo so I don’t have to look at that monstrosity every fucking day.”

I’d grinned. Hell, the thought of it still makes me grin. Logan had fixed the tattoo that day, and she’d started working for me. That was four years ago. Four fucking years of looking at her beautiful legs and red lips. Every. Single. Day. Four years of watching her and wanting her. Four years of lusting over Friday. Four years with her busting my chops.

“I’ll finish in a minute,” I say. I heave a sigh and drop heavily into a chair. Friday wears me the fuck out.

She puts her hands on her hips and glares at me. “Why?”

“Why what?” I force myself to look at her face instead of her rack. She has the most beautiful rack I have ever seen, and I’ve been looking at it long enough to know.

“Why are you back here instead of out there working?”

Because I couldn’t watch you sucking face with that douche. “I told you, I’m taking a break.” I give her a what-the-fuck look. If I let her think she’s gone mental, I can blame it all on her, right?

“But why?” she asks. She stomps that little foot of hers, and it immediately draws my attention to her feet, and then up her legs, and then… God. I swipe a hand down my face. “Why, Paul?”

“Who’s the douche?” I ask, instead of telling her how I’m feeling.

“What douche?” She still has her hands on her hips.

“The one who had his tongue down your throat.” I glare at her. But she doesn’t back down. She never does.

“His name is Garrett,” she mumbles. She is suddenly really interested in looking at the magnets on the fridge.

“Garrett is a fuckwad. Tell him to keep his dick in his pants the next time he comes in my shop.”

She blows out a breath and raises her finger to point at me, and I can tell she’s about to ream me a new one.

“Weren’t you fucking somebody else last week, Friday?” I blurt out. I want to take it back immediately because it hangs there in the air between us like a bomb about to explode.

“What?” she asks, and her voice goes soft.

“Last week it was a different guy who took you to lunch.” I grumble to myself and get up, pretending to clean the counter.

She thinks it over. “You mean Cody?”

“How many are there?”

She blinks hard. What the fuck? Friday never cries. Ever. I take a step toward her, and she steps back, putting her hand up like she’s going to push the air around me back. “How dare you?” she breathes. A tear falls over her lashes, and she swipes it away and then looks down at the back of her wet hand like she doesn’t know what the fuck a tear is.

“Friday,” I say. I step toward her again. I soften my voice because I have no idea what to do. I have never seen this Friday before. I have only seen the one who can eat my balls for lunch. Hell, she’ll feed my balls to me if I piss her off enough. And make me like it. Four years and I have never seen her shed a tear.

She turns around and runs into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. I lean my ear against the door and listen, but I can’t hear anything over the sound of the fan. I knock. She doesn’t answer.

“Dammit,” I swear. I lean my forehead against the door.

“Leave her alone,” I hear from behind me.

I turn around because Logan is talking. “I can’t,” I say to him. I knock again, but she doesn’t answer.

“Just leave her the fuck alone,” he says again. He’s pissed, I can tell. “You have a client.” He waves toward my customer like he’s Vanna Fucking White. “Work to do. So, you might want to get to it.”

I heave a sigh and look at my client. “Just a moment,” I say.

“Take your time,” he says with a grin. He’s loving the show, apparently.

I pull my keys from my pocket and fit the key in the lock. I hesitate long enough for Logan to notice.

“You shouldn’t,” he warns.

I know I shouldn’t, but I am.

I turn the key and let myself into the room. I find Friday washing her face.

“What the fuck, Paul!” she cries. She turns back to the mirror and dabs beneath her eyes. She looks at me in the mirror. “Get out.”

I close the door behind me and lean against it. “Why are you crying?”

“I don’t know,” she bites out. But another tear slides down her cheek. “Fucking hormones,” she says as she swipes it away.

All this because she has her period? I know better than to say that out loud. “Oh,” I say instead.

She turns to face me, hitching her hip against the sink. She crosses her arms beneath her breasts, which pushes them up and makes little pillows over the top of that low-cut dress she’s wearing. My God. I look up at her face. She smirks at me. I like a smirking Friday a lot better than one who’s crying because I don’t know what do with tears. Not from her.

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” I blurt out when she just glares at me.

“Yes, you did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“Fuck me, Friday,” I breathe. I swipe a hand down my face again and growl to myself.

She faces the mirror and starts to put on her lipstick. “I tried to do that and you didn’t want to,” she says. She purses her lips and kisses toward the mirror. The move shoots straight to my dick. “So, you, Mister I Am Jealous, don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t sleep with.” She looks directly into my eyes in the mirror. “So, I can sleep with Garrett. I can sleep with Cody.” She throws up her hands. “Hell, I can sleep with both of them at the same time, if I want.” She glares at me. “And you don’t get to have any say-so about it.” She walks toward me. “You can’t say a word because you didn’t want it.” She gestures toward the front of her body. “You said no to all this, so you don’t get to have an opinion.”

“I didn’t say no,” I mumble.

“You kissed me and then you tried to take it back!” she yells.

Okay, I like Friday yelling. I like it so much more than Friday crying. “I didn’t try to take it back!” I slap my palm against the wall, but she just looks at my hand, smirks, and rolls her eyes. “I just… Never mind.”

“Just what?” she asks.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s over and done with.”

“Yep,” she says, letting her lips pop on the P. “Over. Done.” She dusts her hands together. “So you don’t get to go all Neanderthal when someone else kisses me.”

“I just…” I shake my head. “I had something I needed to take care of.”

“Don’t you mean somebody?” She smirks and shakes her head. “Was it Kelly you had to take care of? Heaven knows Kelly needs to come more than I do.”

Did she just say come? I shake the thoughts away. They’re not going to get me anywhere.

Friday tolerates my daughter’s mother, but I don’t think she’s ever really liked her. “It actually was Kelly I needed to take care of,” I say. I may as well lay all my shit bare. Friday cried, for God’s sake.

She lets out a heavy breath. “You kissed me, and then you went and got some from Kelly?”

Her voice is soft. She’s… What is she? Is she hurt?

“No, I didn’t go and get some from Kelly. I went and broke things off with Kelly.” I take a step forward until I’m towering over her and she has to tip her head back to look at my face. “I had to go and tell her that I kissed you and that you rocked my fucking world.”

She freezes, so I take a chance and put my arm around her, pulling her against me.

“What?” she breathes. She turns her face up to mine.

“I haven’t slept with Kelly since before I kissed you. I don’t want to sleep with Kelly. I have you on my fucking mind, and I can’t get you out. So, I went and broke things off with Kelly. Completely.”

She blinks her brown eyes at me. Blink. Blink.

“Then I came back to see you, but you were pissed. You wouldn’t let me in. You said ‘no fucking way, you stupid son of a bitch.’ And you told me to go home. So, I went. Alone.”

Blink. Blink.

“Kelly and I weren’t dating. We were just friends with benefits. Or parents with benefits. Whatever. Now we’re just Hayley’s parents.”

Blink. Blink.

“I went and told her that we couldn’t do that anymore, and she understood.”

“You told her?” she whispers. “That you…what? What did you tell her?”

“I told her that I can’t stop thinking about you.” I brush her hair back from her forehead. I kissed Friday that one time when I walked her home and she invited me inside, and we both knew what she was offering, but I don’t think I’ve ever just held her in my arms. I like it. She lays her palms flat on my chest, like she needs to steady herself.

“I have a thing for you,” I admit. I wince inwardly because it sounds so lame.

“A thing?”

“A big thing.”

Her gaze drops.

“Not that thing.” Although now that she’s looking down at it, it’s ready to rise to attention. Fucking attention whore. I tip her chin up. “But,” I say.

“But what?”

“Then you showed up with that first douche. And then that second douche. And I had just changed my whole life for the possibility of you. But you had moved on. Quickly.” I drag my fingertips up and down her bare arms, and chill bumps rise. She shivers. “So, yeah, I’m mad. Sorry.”

“You don’t sound sorry.”

“I’m not.”

She laughs, and the sound of it shoots straight to my heart.

“Am I too late?” I ask. I wait, with my heart in my throat.

She steps back from me. “Paul,” she says. Her voice cracks. “I’m so sorry.”

I don’t need to hear any more. I go out and start my machine up and get back to work. I hear her move around in the shop, and I glance up at her every once in a while, but she gets busy with clients, drawing tattoos, and she ignores me. She doesn’t look in my direction. Not even once. Not for the whole rest of the night. And when it’s closing time, Logan volunteers to walk her home. I let him.


(Unedited) Chapter one of Maybe Matt’s Miracle




Today would be a beautiful day if not for the casket at the front of the church and the three children with wet faces and red eyes sitting beside me on the front pew.  The service hasn’t started yet, and people keep wandering to the front of the church to look down at my half-sister, Kendra. Some of them whisper soft words to her and reach out to touch her cold hand. I touched it too. That was the second and last time I would ever touch her. She’s the sister I never got to meet until the day she died. 

I startle as the pew shakes. Seth, the oldest of Kendra’s children, jumps to his feet and cries, “Grandpa!”

Grandpa? What? He has a grandpa? I look up and see my very own father.  He’s here?  What? He wraps Seth up in his arms and squeezes him tightly. He sets him back and looks into his eyes. “How are you holding up?” he asks quietly.

Seth’s eyes travel toward the casket. “We’re okay,” he says. He swallows hard. I can hear it from where I’m sitting.

Dad takes Seth’s face in his hands and stares into his eyes. “Everything is going to be fine,” he says. “She’s in a better place.” He looks over Seth’s shoulder toward me. “And you have Skylar now,” he whispers. Seth nods.

A better place? When can I go to a better place?  Anywhere would be better than this church where my dad is paying homage to his illegitimate daughter.

Dad walks over to me and kisses my cheek. “How are you, Sky?” he asks. He’s not nearly as friendly with me as he is with the grandchildren I never even knew he had until a few days ago.

“Fine,” I bite out.

Dad sits down and motions toward Kendra’s girls with a crook of his finger.  The little one, who is three, scrambles into his lap, and the older one, who is five, leans into his side. He drops an arm around her and holds her close. He knows these kids. He knows them a lot better than he knows me.  That chafes at me so badly that it makes me squirm in my seat.

Dad’s brows scrunch together in subtle warning.  I stop moving.

I really need to learn that look now that I’m a mom. 

Yes. I’m a mom.  My dad came to me about a week ago and asked for my help. And there it was – instant motherhood.


I should have known that my father wanted something. Or he never would have invited me to lunch.

“Skylar,” Dad says quietly. “I need you to do something for me.”

I look up from my manicotti and force a grin to my face. “Did you get another speeding ticket?” I ask. I’m a brand new attorney as of last month.

“No,” he says slowly. He won’t look into my eyes. “It’s about Kendra.”

I drop my fork and it clatters loudly to the table. I scramble to catch it, and then brace myself with my palms on the table. “What about her?” I ask.

I know who Kendra is.  She’s the daughter my dad had with his mistress.  I found out a few years ago when my mother went on a drunken bender and unburdened her soul. And burdened mine. 

Kendra is the daughter my father loved. Her mother was the woman he loved.  It didn’t matter that my father was married to my mother. It didn’t matter that he had three kids with my mother.  It didn’t matter that we were the perfect family with the house on the hill and a summer home at the Cape. Our family was perfect until we found out he had another one. One he actually loved.

He had a whole other life with Kendra’s mother.  Right up until the time she died.  They shared an apartment together and they had a daughter. Dad went back and forth between our house and theirs.  But he was never really present when he was at ours.  My mother was too resentful. So he stayed away more and more. With them.

Then suddenly one day he was back. His eyes were rimmed with red and he retreated to his study with a bottle of Glenlivit.  He didn’t come out for days.  When he finally did, my mom walked around for a week singing, “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.” Kendra was already an adult at that point, and married.

But I had my father back after that day. I didn’t understand at all how it had come to be.  I didn’t know until much later that he had another daughter. Another woman he had once loved. Another life.  But he did. And now he wanted to talk about her?

“Kendra is dying,” he says. His eyes fill with tears, but he won’t let them spill over. He blinks furiously, his face reddening.

“Oh,” I say. What am I supposed to say to that?  Ding, dong, the witch is dead… “What happened?”

“She has cancer. She found out when she was pregnant with her youngest daughter, Mellie.” He wipes his eyes with a cloth napkin and motions for a waiter to bring him a drink. “I got her into a really wonderful chemical trial. But she wanted to wait until Mellie was born.” He heaves a sigh. “If she hadn’t gotten pregnant, she might have made it.  She could have gotten an abortion, but she refused. She waited too long. The cancer is going to win, and she doesn’t have anyone to take the children.”

I can’t breathe. My chest stills and I feel like I’m going to pass out. Dad shoves a glass of water at me, and I raise it to my lips, sputter into the rim of it, take a sip, swallow, and inhale. I take in a deep breath. And I wait. Because there’s more. There’s always more with my dad.

“She has three children.  Seth is sixteen.  Joey is five. And Mellie is three.” He covers my hand with his and squeezes it. “They don’t have anyone but me. And I can’t take them.” He sits back and rubs the bridge of his nose. “You know how your mother is,” he explains.

Yes, and I know how my mother was betrayed. Yes, I know how my mother found out about his mistress. Yes, I know how my mother hates the ground they all walk on.  Sometimes I think she hates me too. It’s hard to tell. I really don’t think she loves anyone or anything.

He looks me in the eye. “I need for you to help me. They’re your nieces and nephew, no matter what your mother has taught you.”

I am stunned. Absolutely stunned. “You love them,” I say quietly.

He nods. “I do.”

“You love her.” The words fall on the room like cracks of thunder.

“I do.”

I lean back against the chair. “Can I ask you something?”

He nods. It’s a quick jerk, but I see it.

“What did they give you that we couldn’t?” I ask.  I don’t even cry. I just ask it. I always wanted to know.

“Your mother made it really hard for me to be a part of our family,” he says. “After she found out.” He raises his hand to stop me when I open my mouth to complain. “Wait,” he says. “Hear me out.”

I nod. I couldn’t talk if I wanted to.

“I loved you and your brother and sister. But I loved Kendra’s mother too, and I should have divorced your mother and made a clean break.”

“Without us,” I say.

“No, I would have taken you with me if I could. But I couldn’t. Your mother would have ruined me politically, but I could get over that. She would have gotten custody of you all. And I couldn’t just leave you with all that hatred, without at least trying to be a buffer.”  I don’t remember him as a buffer. I know him as that man I never knew. He balls up his fist and squeezes tightly.  “That’s why I never left completely. Your mother is more than a bit vindictive, as you know.” He scrubs a hand across his perfect white hair. “Sometimes I think she would have been okay with it if Kendra’s mother was white.”

What? Kendra’s mother’s not white? My father had an affair with a woman of a different race?

“If you do this for me, your mother is going to be very angry at you.”

No shit. She’ll hate me. But I think she already does anyway.

“I understand if you say no,” he says on a sigh. “But they don’t have anyone else.”

“Where is their father?” I ask.

He shrugs. “Fathers,” he says, enunciating the word.  “Seth has a dad who probably never knew about him, the girls’ dad has a new family and not enough time for them.”

“So, what do you want me to do?” I ask. I throw my napkin into my plate. My manicotti is churning in my stomach.

“I want you to go and get them.”

“Did you ask Tim? Or Lydia?” They’re my brother and sister and both are older than me.

He shakes his head. “They have families of their own.”

“And I don’t.” Shit, I don’t have anyone. No one but a boyfriend I almost never see. My mother is a nutcase and my father’s heart lies with another family.

“You’re single. You would be wonderful with them.” He lowers his voice and looks around the room. “You won’t look at them like they’re unwanted, bi-racial children. You’ll love them. I know you will.” He glares at me. “Will you at least go and meet them? Please? I know it would be a challenge. You’d have to learn a lot but Seth is almost sixteen. He helps to take care of the little ones. Hell, in two years, he can take custody himself. That’s what he wants.”

Dad’s pleading with me.

“I’ve never asked for anything before,” he says.

He’s right. He’s never asked for a good night kiss. Or any of the things fathers want. Well, he probably asked for them from Kendra.

“I’ll go,” I say. They’re just children after all. And children need to be loved. I wasn’t, but I can make it better for Kendra’s kids. Can’t I?  There’s a tiny little piece of me that wants to make my father proud. To make him love me.

He deflates like a balloon. “Oh, thank God,” he says. He lays a hand on his chest. Then he gets up, lifts me by my elbows and pulls me into him. I can’t remember ever getting a hug from my father before, and I don’t know what to do with it. He holds me like that, breathing into the hair on the top of my head for a moment. Then he sets me back. His eyes are wet with unshed tears.  “Thank you,” he says. “Thank you so much.”

I nod. I can’t do anything more.  I feel like somebody took my insides and shoved them into my throat. 


I’m jerked from my memories when someone sits down on my left.  I look up and instantly recognize Matthew Reed. He was a friend of Kendra’s from the cancer center.  I went to visit right before Kendra died to get the kids, and he was waiting with her. He stayed with Seth so they could be there when she took her last breath.  I took the little ones home, because I didn’t think they needed to remember their mom that way.

His blue eyes gaze into mine, and he sticks out a hand to shake. He doesn’t say anything. I look up at him. He’s wearing a blue turtleneck and a black button down shirt, with a pair of really nice trousers. He tugs at the neck of the turtleneck and I see a tiny peek at his tattoos.  “You clean up nicely,” I say. I smile at him, because I don’t know what else to say.

“Thanks,” he says quietly. His blond hair is held back with a leather band at the nape of his neck, but a piece falls forward and he tucks it behind his ear. He has a row of piercings up the shell of his ear, and I count them in my head. I have a suddenly insatiable desire to see his hair hang loose around his face.  He looks down at my black skirt and my white shirt. “So do you.”

I think I was wearing something similar the last time I saw him. But I smile anyway. He squeezes my hand and pulls his fingers from my grasp. I probably shouldn’t have held his hand so long. I’m an idiot. He leans across me and reaches for my dad’s hand. “Mr. Morgan,” he says with a nod. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Dad nods in thanks and grips Matt’s hand tightly. Dad’s eyes are rimmed in red and he swipes a finger under his nose. He goes back to talking to the girls, and they’re getting closer and closer to him as he murmurs softly to them.

Matt reaches past my dad and bumps knuckles with Seth. Seth smiles at him, but then the preacher walks to the front of the church, they close the casket, thank God, and the sermon begins.

Matt takes my hand in his again and I feel tears sting my eyes. I blink up at him and he smiles softly at me. He squeezes my hand gently and listens to the pastor. But he doesn’t let me go. 





“She looks lonely,” Emily says as she elbows me in the side. She’s my brother Logan’s fiancé and she holds a little piece of my heart. But sometimes I want to elbow her back when she pokes me with her scrawny limbs.  “You should go check on her,” she whispers vehemently. She raises her elbow again and I grab it before she can jab me.

“Fine,” I bite out. I get up, stepping on my four brothers’ feet as I scoot past them. Of course, I’m in the center of the aisle and I have to go by all of them. Reagan, Pete’s girl, reaches out and squeezes my hand as I walk by her. I love Reagan, and Emily, too. But Emily is a little more outspoken. Reagan is famous for her tender touches, and Emily is the opposite.

I adjust my suit coat and tug at the turtleneck I borrowed from Logan. He gets free clothes from Emily’s parents, who own Madison Avenue, the upscale clothing company. I feel like a monkey dressed up in a coat and a top hat. One of those that dances at carnivals.  Dance, monkey, dance.

I drop into the open seat beside Skylar, Kendra’s half sister, and I reach out to shake hands with her.  She holds on a second too long, and I don’t mind it. She looks tired. Her dad is sitting beside her, but there might as well be an ocean between them.  It’s only a few inches, but even I can feel the divide.

I shake his hand and bump knuckles with Seth. Seth and I were together with his mom when she died. We shared the most difficult moment of his life, and it’s a time I will never, ever forget.

I watched Kendra take her last breath and all I could think was how lucky I was that it wasn’t me dying there in that bed. I could have so easily been me. Kendra and I were in the same chemical trial, but I got better and my cancer went into remission, and hers didn’t.

She died.

I’m alive.

I look down at Skylar. She looks nothing like Kendra.  Kendra was biracial, so she had skin the color of sweet coffee, and she wore her hair natural, but short. Skylar is light skinned, blonde and blue eyed. She has rhinestone-encrusted sunglasses pushed up on top of her head, holding her hair back from her face. It hangs half way down her back in soft waves.

The preacher starts to speak at the front of the church, and Skylar closes her eyes. She squeezes her hands together in her lap, and I can’t tell what’s going on in her head. I wish I knew.

Without even thinking about it, I reach out and take her hand in mine. I tuck our twined fingers down on the seat between us, and I give her a gentle squeeze. She looks up at me and blinks slowly, her blue eyes startled. But then they soften and she blinks at me, and really looks at me. She squeezes my hand back and I don’t let her go. I hold it until our palms start to sweat together.

I get so wrapped up in the feel of her hand in mine and the soft drone of the preacher, that it startles me when a cough jerks me out of my trance. I look up and see a tall man looking down his nose at me. He nudges my knee. “I think you’re in my spot,” he says.

I look at Skylar, and she is just as shocked as I am. She pulls her hand from mine and wipes it on her skirt. I scoot over and he settles down beside her. He drops an arm around her shoulders and she leans over to press her lips to his. It’s a quick kiss, not a kiss like I would give her, because if I kissed her, I would never, ever want to come up for air.

Shit. Where did that come from?

Finally, they roll the casket from the church and we all follow to the graveside. I am a pall bearer and so are my brothers.  My brothers are really good for things like that.  I volunteered them when Mr. Morgan called to ask me to do it.

I take the carnation off my lapel and lay it on top of the casket, and go to stand with my brothers behind the crowd.

Emily threads her arm through mine. “Who is the guy?” she asks, nodding toward the man who’s standing with Skylar.

I shrug. “I have no idea.”

“Does she have a boyfriend?” Reagan asks.

My brothers are silent. I wish Logan and Pete would tell their girls to shut it for a few minutes and to quit being so nosy. I tap Emily on the tip of her nose and she scrunches up her face. “Stop being so curious,” I tell her.

I wrap my arm around Reagan and pull her into me. I like it when she goes all soft against me, because when she’s not soft, she’s ready to take my head off with a karate chop. I have been on the wrong end of a startled Reagan before and I don’t particularly want to go there again. “You okay?” she asks quietly.

I heave a sigh. “I guess.” I shake my head. “I still can’t believe she’s gone,” I say.

Reagan kisses my cheek and then stops to wipe her thumb across the lipstick she must have left on my cheek. She smiles. “I’m glad you got better,” she says quietly.

I squeeze her. “Me too.”

But shit. I feel guilty. Kendra left behind three children.

I see Skylar walking toward us, and Emily and Reagan step back. The heels of the three-inch high shoes Skylar’s wearing sink into the earth and she totters a little because of it. I reach out to help steady her with a hand on her elbow. She stops in front of me. “Thank you for being there with her,” Skylar says quietly.

“She was my friend,” I explain.  I don’t know what else to say.

She looks into my eyes. “Was she in a lot of pain?” she asks. She shakes her head. “I tried to talk to Seth about it, but he pretty much pretends that I don’t exist.”

I shove my hands in my pockets. “What do you mean? He’s not giving you a hard time, is he?”

She shakes her head again. “No. He’s perfect. He takes his sisters to daycare in the morning and picks them up after school. He feeds them and he bathes them. He won’t let me do anything. I think I’m just a placeholder.” She blows out a heavy breath.

I scratch my head. I don’t know how to tell her what I want to say.

“What?” she asks, her delicate brow arching.

“Kendra asked him to make it easy for you,” I admit. “When she was dying, she told him some things about how to be a good man. Always open car doors. Carry  a handkerchief on dates, because you never know when she’ll cry. Never let her pay for dinner.” I take a deep breath. “And she told him to make it easy for you.”

She’s speechless. Her mouth opens like she wants to say something, but nothing comes out. She closes it tightly, biting her lips together. “What else did she tell him?”

“Just normal stuff about dying,” I tell her. It was soul-wrenching to watch. And I’d finally had to leave the room so I wouldn’t upset them both with my sobbing, so I missed some things. 

“I don’t know what to do with kids,” she says.

“They don’t really need much,” I say. “Just for you to love them.”

“I’m trying,” she says.

I want to lay my hand on the back of her hair and draw it down the length of it. I bet it feels like silk.

“I, um, should have introduced you to my boyfriend,” she says. “Do you want to meet him?”

I shake my head. I see him talking with Mr. Morgan. Skylar’s dad doesn’t look like he’s impressed.

“When you, um, took my hand…” she says. “I should have told you.”

“Why?” I look down at her. She comes up to my shoulder, even in her heels.

“I, um, didn’t want you to get the wrong idea.”

This time it’s me raising my brows at her. “Why did you think I took your hand?”

Her face colors. “I’m not sure,” she says.

I wrap my hand around her wrist and give her a soft squeeze. “I took your hand because you were trembling,” I say. “That’s all.”

“Oh,” she breathes.

She has her phone clutched in her free hand so I take it from her and add myself to her phone book. “Do me a favor?” I say.

She looks up at me and then back down at the phone.

“Call me if you need anything. Anything at all. I promised their mom.”

“Okay,” she replies. “Thanks for everything.” Her blue eyes meet mine and I have never seen anyone look quite so lost. But then her eyes narrow as her gaze shoots past me. “Shit,” she suddenly spits out.

“What?” I ask, looking over my shoulder toward the sedan that just parked.

“My mother is here,” she says. She squares her shoulders and I suddenly see a spark that wasn’t there a moment ago. “Can you watch the children for a minute?” she asks.


“Just because,” she says. She grits her teeth. She looks up at me. “Promise me. No matter what, don’t let her anywhere near the children.”

Is she going to tackle her mother? What the fuck? I look back at the sedan. The door opens and an older version of Skylar gets out. “Okay…” I say slowly. Skylar nods her head, steels her spine, and walks toward where her mother is getting out of her car.

The rigidity of her posture makes me think of my own mother’s the time that Johnny Rickles stuck a kick-me note on my back and then watched all the other kids laugh. My mother went ballistic when she saw it.  It’s a look that says danger will have to go through her before it gets to the children, and I think I just met Seth, Mellie and Joey’s mom for the very first time. Her name is Skylar Morgan, and she’s tiny and gorgeous and awesome.


For my readers – A free short story!


*** This is a short story. It’s not a full book. It’s only 7000 words, plus samples of the Reed Brothers series. ***

Sean has been in love with Lacey for as long as he can remember, but she has pushed him firmly into the friend zone and plans to keep him there. Or so he thinks.

Lacey did put Sean in the friend zone, but now she’s ready for more. Only he won’t make a move.

Lacey enters a contest in which a kiss from her will be the prize. Can Sean win the contest? Can he win the girl?

Available for free at Smashwords:


Nook:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-jelly-beans-and-jealousy-tammy-falkner/1118002569?ean=2940045545020

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/just-jelly-beans-and-jealousy

Coming soon to other retailers!


Unedited Chapter Three of CCC!



If you missed the first two chapters, you can find them here:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2



Damn, she’s pretty.  Then again, she’s the first girl I’ve had my hands on in almost two years. She lay there on top of me for a second looking down at me and I immediately knew who she was. I’ll never forget her. But the last time we met… it wasn’t a good night for her. And she would probably be uncomfortable if I brought it up.  I don’t want to get sent back to the city. I want to be here. I want to work with these kids. I want to have this damn tracking bracelet off my leg so I can go back to some semblance of a normal life. I just want to be Pete.

I wish the fuck I knew who Pete is. I had a pretty good idea of what my life would be like, until my brother Matt got sick.  Then things got all fucked up. 

Then I did what I did and ended up in jail. It was all my fault and I take full responsibility for it but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck ass.

She has green eyes and the same freckles I remember across the bridge of her nose. Shit. I can’t even think about things like that. If I were at home, I would ask her out to dinner. I would tell her about how I know her. I would find out if she’s all right. Then I would ask her out on a date. But here, I’m nothing. Nothing but a man who would get his nuts chopped off for talking to her. I have no doubts that her father was serious. Dead serious. I adjust my junk and keep moving.

But then she looks over at me, glancing over her shoulder. Her face colors, and my heart starts to do a little pitter patter in my chest. I’m an ex-con who’s still on house arrest, and she’s looking at me like I’m a real live man? She licks her lips and turns away to talk to someone else. I want her to look at me again.

Her blond hair is damp and it’s tangled up into a messy knot on top of her head. She’s not wearing any make up. The women I know paint their faces until they’re almost unrecognizable when they get out of the shower.  This one is all natural. And I like it. I shouldn’t. But I do. I could look at her all day.

There was a second there when she fell on top of me that she looked fearful. Was that because of what happened to her? Does she even remember me?

But then a motorized wheel chair zips toward me. “Hold on there, Speedy Gonzales,” I say, stepping in front of him. “Where are you going in such a hurry?”

The young man is blond and fair and he has a piece of plastic sticking out of his neck. He signs to me, but his movements are jerky and off balance.  They’re not fluid like sign language usually is. Marshmallows, he spells with his fingers. He jerks his crooked finger toward where someone is lighting a campfire.

I wonder if this is the boy I’m supposed to work with.  An older woman runs up behind him, her breaths heaving from her. “Sorry,” she pants, clutching her side. “He’s hard to keep up with in that chair.” She extends a hand. “I’m Andrea. And this is my son, Karl. Karl’s excited to be a camper this year.” I shake hands with her and drop down in front of Karl.

“You can hear, right, Karl?” I ask, signing to him. He nods and smiles, but it’s jerky and crooked. He’s so damn excited he can barely sit still in his chair.

I can hear, he signs. I just can’t talk.

I nod. I get it. “How old are you?” I ask.

Fifteen. He looks around me toward the camp fire. I think he really wants to get to where the other kids are congregating.

“Such a lovely age,” his mother says, rolling her eyes.

He’s fifteen? He can’t weigh more than a hundred pounds. I step out of his way. “Go get ‘em, Gonzales,” I say, nodding my head toward the fire. He grins and rolls away from me, stopping beside where Reagan is now setting up chairs by the fire.

“I think he already has a crush on Reagan,” she admits.

“Reagan?” I ask. My Reagan?

She arches a brow at me. “The owner’s daughter.”

Reagan is Caster’s daughter? All this time My Reagan’s father has been my pro bono attorney? Shit. This just got even more convoluted. I shake it away and I look at Gonzo’s mom. “Can you tell me a little about his challenges so I know what I’m working with?” I ask.

“Not what you’re working with,” she corrects. “Who you’re working with.”

“That wasn’t what I meant,” I start.

She lays a hand on my arm. “Where did you learn to sign?”

“My brother is deaf,” I say. She nods, taking in my tattoos and my piercings, which I couldn’t even get back in after I got out of jail.  I had to get re-pierced last night, and they’re still sore. At least I don’t feel naked anymore. “I didn’t mean to insult your son,” I say. Now I feel bad.

“Karl’s only limitations are that he’s in a body that doesn’t do what he wants it to do, and that he can’t speak.” She looks at him across the clearing, her eyes full of love for her son. And exhaustion. “He still has all the desires and urges of a fifteen year old boy. There are just some things he can’t do.” She heaves a sigh. “He gets frustrated easily. That’s the hardest thing for him. His mind is sound and his body just won’t cooperate.”

I nod. I know what it feels like to be out of control. “Why don’t you take a break for a half hour or so?” I say. “I’ll go hang with Karl.”

Her eyes widen and she looks so excited that I wish I’d made the offer as soon as they arrived. “Really?” she asks.

I nod. “Have fun. I’ll take care of him.”

Tears fill her eyes and I realize how much this woman desperately needs a break.

“I’ll see you in thirty,” I say.

She nods and walks toward her cabin. She’s tired. And I can tell.

I walk toward the campfire. The sun has just barely set and there are only a few kids out here. “Hey Gonzo,” I say to Karl. He turns around and looks at me, his grin big and goofy and so fucking adorable that I already love this kid. “You giving Reagan a hard time?” I drop down to sit on a log that rims the fire.

She’s really pretty, he signs. He looks up at her, blinking his blue eyes, his face tilted toward hers. She smiles at him.

“What did he say?” she asks.

“He says you’re really pretty,” I translate.

He throws up his hands in protest. You’re not supposed to tell her!

Sorry, dude, I sign back, trying not to grin. If you’re going to talk about her, I’m going to have to tell her what you say. I grab his shoulder and squeeze. This is a rule my brothers came up with and we always stand by it. You don’t get to use sign language to talk about people. It’s for communication. So, unless you want her to know it, you better keep it to yourself.

Traitor, he signs. But he’s grinning.

Reagan blushes. But she says, “Thank you, Karl. I think you’re kind of cute, too.”

I’ve never seen a kid grin quite so big. She looks down at him. “Do you want to go with me to find some sticks for the fire?”

He nods, and he’s already moving, before she’s even ready to go.

“You think we should bring your mouth piece?” she asks, nodding her head toward me.

He signs to me. I got this. You stay here. He waggles his eyebrows at me.

Not a chance, dumbass, I say back. He laughs. It’s the first sound I’ve heard him make. She’s too old for you.

Maybe she likes younger men.

I look around like I’ve lost something. I don’t see any other men here. I see a pretty lady and a boy who’s hoping to get some action.

He grins and nods.

I laugh. She’s too old for you. So, lay off. We’ll find you a different one. One more your speed.

My speed is faster than you think.


She turns back from where she’s been walking in front of us. “Are you talking about my ass?” she asks. She doesn’t even crack a smile.

Gonzo points to me as if to say, “He was.”

She laughs and blushes again.

Traitor, I sign when she turns back around.

He laughs, jumping in his chair a little.

Now all I can do is stare at her ass. She’s cute. Like a fairy princess walking in the woods, picking up sticks. When her arms are full, she looks at Gonzo and says, “Can you be my hero and carry these back?”

He nods and lets her fill his lap up with sticks. He turns to take them to the fire, and leaves us standing there, gathering more of them.  “Hurry back,” I call to him. He turns back and signs, Hands off my girl.

I hold my hands out to the side and then give him a thumbs up.

She turns to me and extends her hand. “I’m Reagan.”

She doesn’t remember me. Should I even remind her? She probably works hard on a daily basis to forget that night.

I take her hand in mine and heat shoots straight through me. And it’s not because it’s been two years since I’ve had a woman in my arms. There’s something about this girl. She jerks her hand back and looks into my eyes. I want to ask her if she felt that. She wipes her hands on her jeans, and I realize she was just pulling back because my hands are sweaty. I’m an idiot.

“Pete,” I say.

“Why do you call him Gonzo?” she asks.

“Why not?” I continue to pick up sticks.

“He’s a sweet boy,” she says.

“He’s a hormone on wheels,” I correct.

She laughs. “At least you see him as a normal young man. Most people see the chair.” She shakes her head and looks up at me. I feel like she’s looking directly into my soul. “What makes you different?” she asks.

You mean aside from my tats, piercings and the fact that I came from prison? I shrug. I look in his direction. He’s already on his way back. “I just see a boy who wants to be treated like one.” I call to him when he gets close. “Hey Gonzo,” I say. “Can you take another load?” He grins and nods.  We load him up and he leaves again. I turn to her. “So, what makes you different, Reagan?” I ask. I want to touch her. But I don’t dare. So, I just look at her instead. I watch her lips and wait for her to explain the meaning of life to me.




He has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. It’s a little distracting, because his piercings draw your attention away from his eyes and then you have to find your way back. He has tattoos all the way up his arms, from his wrists to where his t-shirt breaks up the designs. Then they start again and go all the way up his neck. He’s broad and tall, and he’s a little intimidating. But he’s not, all at the same time. He saw me at my most vulnerable point, and he did exactly what I needed.

“I don’t think I’m different,” I say. “I’m just like every one of those kids.” She nods toward the cabins. “No better. No worse. Same fears. Same drives.” I shrug.

He nods slowly and starts to pick up sticks again. He has a tattoo on the back of his neck. It’s written in gothic, chunky letters and it says, SAM.

“Is Sam your girlfriend?” I blurt out. I immediately want to bite the words back, but they’re already out there.

“Sam?” he asks.

I rub the back of my neck, then point to his. “The tattoo.”

He smiles. “Oh, that.”

But he doesn’t elaborate. I feel like a dummy for even asking the first time. I’m not going to ask again.

“So, you’re home from college?” he asks.  I can’t believe he doesn’t remember me.

I nod.

“Where do you go?” he asks. He looks at me, waiting for my answer. And I don’t think I’ve ever had this much attention from a man that I actually want to talk to. He really cares about what I say. Or at least he wants me to think he does.

“NYU,” I reply. “Junior this year.”

“My brother goes to NYU.”  He smiles. “Logan Reed?” he asks. But it’s a big school. The chance of me knowing his brother is small.  But I know about all his brothers because I asked a lot of questions when I was looking for him.

I shake my head.

“He’s deaf.”

I shake my head again. The only time I have seen him was outside the prison yesterday, but never at school.

“All tatted up, like me.” He looks down at his arms, and I take the opportunity to look at his tattoos.

“Can I see?” I ask. I don’t want to be rude, but I really want to look at him. I don’t want to touch him, but I want to look.

He grins. “You can look, but you can’t touch,” he teases. It’s like he read my mind. My heart starts to thud. I’m the last person he has to worry about touching him. “Because I like my nuts exactly as they’re hanging.”

My face floods with heat. But I don’t let the opportunity to study the drawings on his skin pass me by. I look at the cross that has the word “Mom” written inside it. “What’s this one for?” I ask.

“My mom died a few years ago.”

He also has the word “Dad” with wings attached. “Your dad died too?” I ask.

“He left after our mom died.” He stills. He’s suddenly tense, and I hate that I asked.

“I’m sorry,” I say.

“I don’t want your sympathy, Princess,” he says.

I snort. “Princess?”

He nods, his gaze lingering on my eyes, then my lips. He licks his, and draws his piercing into his mouth to play with it with his tongue. “Princess,” he says slowly.

“You couldn’t be farther from the truth,” I say. He has me pegged all wrong.

“I doubt it.” He looks at me for a minute too long.  My stomach flips.

But suddenly, I hear the crash of boots stomping through the woods. I look up and see my dad walking toward us, a scowl on his face, and he has the hatchet in his hand. Pete immediately crosses his hands in front of his lap and steps away from me.

“Go help with dinner,” Dad snaps at me. He glares at Pete.

“Yes, sir,” I say. I take the sticks Pete has in his arms and smile at him. “See you later,” I whisper.

“Don’t go,” he whispers back. “Who’s going to protect my nuts?”

“Princesses don’t do that.” I grin at him and walk away. It’s hard to do, but I don’t even look back over my shoulder.


Subtle changes to my covers

When I first started writing Tall, Tatted and Tempting, I had a definite vision in my head of what Logan Reed looked like. He was tall, shoulders broad enough to fill a doorway, had curly blond hair and he has tattoos from his wrists to his shoulders. But when I went looking for cover art, I couldn’t find anything with enough tattoos!

It took a little work, but I just had my covers remade, and now Logan looks like he did in my head when I wrote the book.

Couple romancing together Couple romancing together

Couple romancing together Couple romancing together

And for those of you who like tatted heroes, here’s what he looks like without the title in the way!

tatted 2

This new look is much closer to how I imagined him. How about you?


My Hero in Training

You may or may not have seen it, but I mentioned a note I got from a reader the other day on Facebook and what she had to say was how happy she was to see a book with a hero and heroine who aren’t perfect.  I haven’t said any of this in the book description or the release notes, but my hero, Logan, is deaf. And my heroine, Emily, is dyslexic. I specifically didn’t add that to the description, mainly because I wanted to see how people reacted to them.  The response has been overwhelming. But my 18 year old son had the most insightful comment to me yesterday, when I asked him why people are finding my hero and heroine so easy to relate to. His response —

“We all have something about us that isn’t perfect.  Some of us wear it on the outside and some on the inside, but it’s in all of us. So, I think that’s why people are enjoying this story. You don’t have to be deaf or dyslexic to relate. You just have to be human.”

The dedication of this book goes like this —


I guess I should consider JT trained, huh?