Archive for the 'Womens Lit' Category
Monday, May 13th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Fleur Gaskin to Highlighted Author
Fleur Gaskin calls herself a Kiwi. She grew up in Wellington. When she was twenty, she left New Zealand to start her career as an international model. She travelled Asia and Europe, modeling as she went. Now, she lives in Shanghai with her fiancé and two cats.
Author Fleur Gaskin is with us today to tell us about her debut novel, Arabelle’s Shadows-A Guide to Understanding Depression & Other Destructive Afflictions of the Mind. She has a fantastic website set up, Fighting the Shadows, to help both those with these disorders and those who have these people in their lives.
Welcome, Fleur. Please tell us about your featured book.
When I first started writing Arabelle’s Shadows, I thought I was going to write a kind of exposé on the truth about modeling. We always hear about the rich, glamorous lives of supermodels but their lives are so amazing because they are at the top of the industry. Most models lives aren’t quite so magical. It’s the difference between a celebrity chef on the Food Network and a line cook in your local pub. Then I started writing Arabelle’s Shadows and I found that I had much more to say. Modeling became the setting for my novel, not the focus.
Arabelle’s Shadows is about depression and learning how to love yourself. In the novel, Arabelle is constantly battling her vile Shadows. The Shadows are those dark thoughts in your mind telling you that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. Not everyone becomes depressed the way Arabelle did, but most people have some Shadows to contend with. Sometimes they show themselves through an eating disorder, an addiction or anxiety. Sometimes they reveal themselves through a temper problem or an inability to stay in a relationship. I hope that readers of Arabelle’s Shadows will learn how to control their own Shadows.
My inspiration for writing Arabelle’s Shadows was to show that wealth, beauty, thinness won’t bring us peace. Happiness comes within ourselves.
What they’re saying:
“Arrabelle’s story is in the spirit of such classics as “Bright Lights, Big City.” It’s well written and well told from an insider’s view looking back. There’s a feeling of other-worldliness in setting which is very well described. Arrabella is growing up before our eyes and we can’t help but cheer for her.
If you like coming of age stories, human struggle stories and generally raw looks into a field where most people have a short shelf life, I think you’d have a hard time finding a better example than “Arrabelle’s Shadows.”—T. Dewhirst, Avid Reader
Written in diary form, this coming of age story is based on real-life events and provides an interesting look at the not-so-perfect life of aspiring international models. Arabelle’s Shadows is quite different from many of the New Adult books I have reviewed in the past, which is not a bad thing at all. I like different.
“The story deals with very real issues, including depression, eating disorders, and suicide, to name a few. And though there are guys galore, it isn’t your typical boy meets girl, lots of angst ensues, boy and girl finally get together, boy and girl have major misunderstanding, and then boy and girl make up and live happily ever after. No, this book is real and deals with very real situations, insecurities, and relationships, which more often than not, are messy.”—Nevaeh, Amazon Review
Everything in Arabelle’s life is coming together. She has confidence, great friends, she’s even dating Naak, a wealthy Thai socialite. But there are too many models in Bangkok. Arabelle’s broke, she can’t find an agent in New York, and Naak isn’t as wonderful as he first appears. Slowly the Shadows creep back into Arabelle’s mind, bringing with them thoughts of hopelessness and despair. The vile Shadows know something Arabelle’s refusing to remember and, if she’s not careful, they’ll use it to destroy her. Based on a true story, Arabelle’s Shadows takes us on a journey through the struggles of growing up, not quite making it as an international model, and attempting to overcome a crushing depression.
My day started off okay. I had a casting at Emporium, a shopping centre near Rompo. I’ve always loved being in Emporium. Outside it’s all hot, dirty and crowded but as soon as you walk through the entrance everything’s cool, spacious and sparkly. And it’s welcoming, even though it’s full of lavish designer stores. It’s not like other stuffy malls for the wealthy, which always make me feel uncomfortable like, since I don’t have a platinum credit card, I shouldn’t be there.
After the casting I saw my friend Ying Thompson walking towards the escalator. She broke off from the group she was with and came over to give me a hug. “Hey Arabelle, what are you doing? Come sit with me while I get my makeup done.”
“Are you doing a fashion show?” I asked her thinking of all the models that’d been with her. “Nope. The others are, I’m hosting the event. Come on!” Without waiting for me to reply she linked her arm through mine and led me downstairs towards a backstage area in the basement. Ying’s a very popular singer in Thailand. As we walked through the mall you could hear people saying her name and giggling. Ying paid no attention to all the turning heads. She was on the phone, in the middle of a fierce monetary negotiation with a client. They want her to become the face of their rice crackers.
The concrete room we entered was full of people bustling around getting ready for the fashion show. We found an empty space and sat down amongst everyone else’s handbags, shawls and bottles of water.
“So what’s been happening?” She asked in a strong Kiwi accent (her Dad’s from New Zealand, her Mum’s Thai-Chinese). “I think I…” I was bursting to tell her about Naak but Ying’s assistant interrupted and started asking a lot of questions in Thai. “Sorry,” Ying said focusing her attention back to me, “what were you going to say?”
“I was out at Bed the other week and… well… I think I’m dating Naak!”
Ying pursed her lips together in a frown, not the look of excitement I’d been expecting. “No you’re not.” Ying said flatly, “Naak has a girlfriend. She left to study in the States a couple of weeks ago.”
Looking away from Ying I caught sight of my reflection in the makeup mirror opposite me. My face was stuck in the smile I’d worn when I was telling her I had a boyfriend. Except now the lines around my mouth were strained. With bulging eyes my smile looked more like a grimace.
“I think they’re dating because her family owns a lot of the property on Sukumvit Road,” Ying continued. “You know, she’s only eighteen!” Naak’s thirty.
“Okay,” I murmured. I searched desperately for something else to say in response. Luckily the brand new mobile on Ying’s lap began to vibrate. With her perfectly manicured fingers, a tiny crystal heart in the centre of each nail, Ying set about replying to the text message. Ying hates all unpleasantness and it appeared that, as far as she was concerned, the issue was settled.
I’ve had plenty of experience detaching myself from my wretched weeping soul and by the time Ying put her phone down I’d rearranged my face into neutral. My robot body looked at my mobile and told Ying, “Sorry, I’ve got to go see the agency now,” it hugged her goodbye. It smiled and acted like Arabelle didn’t care that Naak had a girlfriend.
My insides died and disintegrated the whole journey home. I paused the tears right up until I exited the elevator. When I found no one in my shared room I blinked, allowing them trickle down the sides of my face and jump to the floor.
Get your copy of Arabelle’s Shadows at these fine outlets:Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Arabelles-Shadows-Fleur-Gaskin/dp/1481073915/ Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/arabelles-shadows-fleur-gaskin/1114301682?ean=2940045092241 Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255578
You can find more about Fleur here:Website: http://fightingtheshadows.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ArabellesShadows Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17282501-arabelle-s-shadows Twitter: https://twitter.com/fleurslove
Monday, February 4th, 2013
Join me in welcoming Alexandrea Weis to Highlighted Author.
Alexandrea Weis began writing at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. She is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans.
After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen again and began her first novel To My Senses. Another of her novels, Recovery, has won the Gold Medal for best romantic suspense from The Reader’s Favorite Book Awards 2011, was named best Romantic Suspense novel by the Spring 2011 NABE Pinnacle Book Awards, and was a Finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Wards in 2012. Broken Wings, which won best Contemporary Romance by the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards in 2011, and is a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards for Contemporary Romance in 2012. Her latest novel, Diary of a One-Night Stand, was released in August 2012, and is our featured book this week here on Highlighted Author.
Also to her credit, are two screenplays, White River and Blood Will Tell. Blood Will Tell is currently in pre-production with Buyer Group International. Her critically acclaimed work is continually growing in popularity.
A permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Alexandrea rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She recently has been working to aid oil soaked birds in the Gulf disaster. Alexandrea lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.
What they’re saying about Diary of a One Night Stand:
“Alexandrea Weis pulls no punches, her incredible stories weave so many twists-and-turns, your head will spin. But, you will also become mesmerized and addicted to the end as you crave for more as in all of her novels. DIARY OF A ONE-NIGHT STAND is as sensual and dramatic as ‘Indecent Proposal.’”—Author Geri Ahearn
Resilient and practical, Kara Barton has continually strived to live a respectable life. She went to college, embarked on a promising career as an attorney, married a great guy, and always appeared to be the perfect wife and mother. But all is not what it seems, and the troubling past Kara has been running from her entire life is about to catch up with her. Urged on by her insecurities about growing older, and desperately wanting to feel one more night of passion, Kara agrees to share a tryst in a hotel room with a sexy business associate, Scott Ellsworth. But Scott wants more than one night together, and Kara quickly discovers it is impossible to resist him. Soon Kara finds herself transformed into the kind of woman she vowed never to become, and the secure world she has struggled all her life to build begins to fall apart. Kara Barton is about to find out how a one-night stand can change everything.
Get your own copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Night-Stand-Alexandrea-Weis/dp/1938243935/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Want more Alexandrea? Here’s where you can find her:
Monday, April 9th, 2012
Join me in welcoming Rachel Van Dyken to Highlighted Author.
Rachel Van Dyken is a USA Today best selling multi-published author with titles such as Waltzing With The Wallflower, Every Girl Does It, An Unlikely Alliance, Compromising Kessen, and The Parting Gift. She recently celebrated the release of The Redemption of Lord Rawlings, book three in the House of Renwick series following the bestsellers The Ugly Duckling Debutante and The Seduction of Sebastian St. James.
But, Rachel doesn’t stop there. Her upcoming stories include, Alexander King, Divine Uprising, and Upon A Midnight Dream: London Fairy Tales, Book 1. Sneak peeks to these can be found at Delicious Romance by Rachel.
Rachel grew up in a small community where cows outnumbered people and there were more tractors than cars. And just between you and me, she thinks “the world would definitely be a better place if we ate more chocolate and read more books. Just saying. *wink*” She now resides in Idaho with her husband and invites us to come on over for a Starbuck’s cuppa.
Welcome, Rachel. Tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for hosting me Charlene! I’m so happy to be visiting today and sharing my newest release The Redemption of Lord Rawlings.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. You can often find me drinking my body weight in Starbucks coffee or eating my body weight in Swedish fish. I have a soft spot for any sort of rake or rogue and for the past three years, I’ve been begging my husband to dress up in regency attire for Halloween.
What is your favorite genre to read/write?
I must admit to being a sucker for any sort of historical romance, which makes it so much fun for me to write regency romance! I love the research that goes with that time period and find that even when I’m writing I can’t help but be transported back in time.
What’s it like for you to be a published author?
It’s funny to think of myself as an author because I am such an avid reader myself! When I’m not writing, I’m usually cuddled up next to the fireplace reading a book and drinking wine. My husband’s often threatened to hide both my computer and kindle, which I don’t find at all funny.
Anything you’d like to add?
I love to hear from readers!
You heard it, everyone. *big smile* drop Rachel a line while you’re here.
What they’re saying about The Redemption of Lord Rawlings:
“From the very beginning, the character development was well done…
The attraction between the two characters is undeniable, and the tension is built throughout the story through passionate interactions, though clean and sweet. I love this author’s ability to build the intensity of the relationship without crossing the line. Add to this, her usual knack for comedic wordplay, and you have a winning combination.”— Scribbles on the Back of January
“I love the realistic romance. I remember being engaged. I remember wanting desperately to…ahem…”guard my virtue” while simultaneously wanting to tear off my fiancé’s clothing in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Love is crazy. Bible verses don’t generally pop into your head to remind you why you want to save yourself for marriage. And kissing…kissing can be like the hottest thing ever when you can’t go any further. Reading these books took me back several years, before marriage, before kids and a mortgage and the dog and cat…to a time where I breathed for stolen moments with the man I loved. Sometimes it’s good to remember that, in order to treasure every moment you have, no matter how crazy life gets…
I would also like to say that to call these books “Christian romance” would be a stretch. There are a few references to church, to God, but they are not overly “Christianized”….and yet, at the same time, the things they make me think of (Well, aside from the hotness of making out) actually are quiet spiritual. I would say that they are clean and morally sound books, but they still make me blush and giggle. Well done!”—Indy O’Hara
Phillip Crawford, the eighth Earl of Rawlings and notorious rake of the ton, has come to the end of his rope. Out of money, out of favor, and out of luck, he wanders the streets of London in the rain, hoping to be hit by inspiration…or a runaway carriage. Something has to give. It is his father’s final cruel trick to hold his inheritance just out of reach, requiring him to marry by his next birthday in order to claim his full rights as earl. His step-mother refuses to offer him any more support. With no money, no prospects and no other place to turn, he has only two options:
Marriage or debtor’s prison.
The better choice seems clear enough, but with his name and reputation being attacked daily in the society papers, there’s not a proper lady in all of London desperate enough to accept him. It isn’t going to be easy, even if the reports of his exploits and rakish lifestyle are greatly exaggerated.
On the other hand, debtor’s prison does start to look much more appealing when the only friends he has left decide to help him in his search for the perfect bride. Matters become much more complicated when the only woman who shows an interest in him just happens to be the young sister-in-law of the Duke of Tempest; the same man who, just months ago, had been tempted to kill him.
One thing is for certain, as the Season draws to an end, Lord Rawlings will have to decide once and for all, if his wicked ways are enough to bring him contentment in life, or if a leopard really can change his spots. Or in Phillip’s case—can a devil truly be redeemed?
This author’s curiosity had been piqued. While taking an innocent stroll through Mayfair, it was noted that a curricle of a certain earl was outside a particular duke’s home. Well, they say that opposites attract. This author wonders if even the Angel Duke can influence a man as corrupt as Rawlings. It has been said that he once had a mistress in every hair colour to suite his scandalous tastes. Alas, it seems we will be seeing more of this unfortunate creature. Ladies, guard your honor.—Mrs. Peabody’s Society Papers
Of all the ways for a man to swallow his pride, this had to be the worst. Phillip arrived at the house of his once betrothed, now the Duchess of Tempest, and one of the wealthiest dukes of the realm—a man he had wanted to kill and a woman he had desired for himself not so long ago.
Asking them for help was reminiscent of the time Lady Fenton had yelled at him for gawking at her bosom, when he was all but one and five. The lads hadn’t let him live it down for years. He had been appalled the witch had seen him staring, and to this day, felt he couldn’t quite look at her in the face without thinking of something else entirely. Shuddering, he lifted his gloved hand to the door and knocked.
They should be just about ready for afternoon callers. And although it was a little early for the women to begin making visits, Phillip had hoped he could have this dreadful conversation done and over with before the dandies and puppies made their appearances. No doubt they would be crowding the doors of the duke’s home in hopes of an audience with Abigail.
He shook his head, a cynical grin creasing his lips. It would be impossible to use any other sort of address for her. She would always simply be, Abby. Not Miss Abigail Gates. And certainly thinking of her marrying and obtaining a title made him want to spit. Fortunately, it seemed she was merely out for a bit of fun this Season and not planning to marry. Her actions proved she was nothing more than a curious innocent out for London adventure.
“My lord?” The butler answered the door and recognized Phillip. Not because he was such a good friend of the duke’s, much to Phillip’s dismay, but because he was the infamous rake. That blasted Mrs. Peabody had made him sound more deranged than even he could imagine. How was it that the menacing woman knew what he was up to so often? It seemed he was being stalked like a lion’s prey, and he did not appreciate it one bit. For every time he read the society papers a new sin of his was on display, warning the entirety of the female population in London to be wary of him.
It was another reason he had decided to take Emma up on her offer.
Nobody would have him otherwise.
Just this morning, when he went for his usual ride through Hyde Park, he was appalled to endure an elderly lady’s attempt to throw an apple at his head. Unsuccessful, she had yelled a derogatory name, loud enough for some young ladies to hear. Their faces lit up in seductive smiles which were quickly smacked away by their mamas, who whispered who-knew-what in their ears. Their eyes widened in horror, and they scurried away as if he was some diseased creature.
Which he wasn’t.
But they didn’t know that. All they knew was he had been with so many women that even the men who called themselves rakes looked like innocent boys standing next to him. Not that the talk was minutely true. Hundreds of women was quite a stretch, even for a man of his appetite, and he hadn’t fed said appetite in over a year.
The butler heaved a deep sigh, which spoke volumes, then looked behind Phillip as if to make sure nobody knew he was entering their house, and quickly ushered him in.
His pride would have been pricked had he any left, but instead, he was grateful the butler had insight Phillip hadn’t. And even more grateful that the duke’s butler had been reading his papers, for he had tea and biscuits brought in from the kitchens. Food wasn’t that scarce yet at Phillip’s house, but good hot tea was.
Nodding his head in a silent thank you, Phillip ate, and then he waited.
As he finished the last of the biscuits and his tea began to cool, Emma rushed in with Sebastian at her side.
“I knew it!” She tapped Sebastian across the chest with her glove. “I was just telling him this morning after reading the papers that you would be desperate enough to take me up on my offer.”
“Ah, desperate.” Rawlings rose so he could bow to the duchess. “A word I’ve been overusing as of late. And yes, you are correct in your assumption. Did you know someone threw an apple at me this morning? And the number of lovers I’ve had has tripled over night. Imagine my shock to wake up in my bed alone whilst I was apparently tupping half of London.” Frustrated, Phillip hadn’t meant to announce all that information to the duchess, but he was at his wit’s end. Had he just said tup in front of the Duchess of Tempest?
Get your copy of The Redemption of Lord Rawlings at:
Connect with Rachel around the web:
Facebook: Rachel Van Dyken Author
Sunday, February 26th, 2012
Please welcome Charlene A. Wilson to Highlighted Author.
I was born in Florida, and with a father that loved to wonder the states, I’ve lived all over this country. The waves of the oceans on each coast have wash over my feet. I’ve stepped across the borders to the north and south. But, we finally settled in a small community in Arkansas where nature sings all around me, from the birds in the countless trees to the cows in the fields across the way. (Yeah, they call it lowing. I call it singing). I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters, a fuzzy dog named KooJo, and a gray cat, Chester. I still imagine friends in far-away places. Now, though, I write them down and share them with others.
I was labelled a writer when I was 16. I would write short stories about dreams I had and shared them with my friends. For a time there I even wrote short plays that my youth group acted out for family and friends. I guess I’ll never know what everyone really thought about the productions, but we had so much fun and I’m sure our parents were just happy to have something to keep their kids occupied and out of trouble. Lol. I’ve since been published through Class Act Books.
One of the short story favourites was called Misty Moon. I was shocked when a few years ago I ran into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen since my youth. Honestly, I didn’t remember her, until she reminded me that she was a friend of a friend. She had been invited to a church youth function and evidently on the way (it was an hour drive to the dance), I shared my stories…as usual. Well, she was all smiles and told me she remembered Misty Moon and actually told the story to her children at story time before bed. I was floored and a little shy about it all. She asked if I still wrote and, of course, I had to tell her about my published work.
I took all the creative writing courses I could in high school and college. One of the exercises that stood out was to imagine myself in the middle of an orange. I was to write about my experiences inside that orange—what scents would dominate the air, the textures, how it would look from that perspective, how it would affect my actions. I’ve used that exercise of viewing things outside of my own situations to get into the worlds I’ve created and the psyche of my characters.
Several of my stories come from dreams I’ve had: Scenes, settings, plots… And many of the attitudes and personalities woven into the characters are taken from those I worked with while serving as a Deputy at a large detention center. You can find it all in those places. Kindness, bigotry, spirituality, opportunism; the variety of personal outlooks is amazing.
Lord Dressen’s character from Cornerstone Deep Echoes, book two in my Chronicles of Shilo Manor series, was very easy for me to write. He’s the villain of the story. Though, he does have his reasons for doing the things he does. Then, don’t we all. Life is just complicated. I don’t believe anyone is all good or completely bad.
Cole, the hero of the story, is pretty tarnished himself. He’s led by his heart, and with that trait, he makes some decisions that really should have been made with a level head. But he’s such a romantic soul. And when Mianna speaks in her unique poetic way, he’s just gone. He loves Mianna with his whole being—would do anything to keep her safe…and his. But Lord Dressen is determined to win her over one way or the other…to the point of obsession.
Really, these characters made it clear how they wanted their stories told. Comments, quirks, personalities, they all came to light as the scenes unfolded. I hope you fall in love with them as much as I have.
Cornerstone Deep Echoes was just released February 15th. So, I’m traveling the web celebrating with a virtual book tour and offering weekly giveaways and a grand prize at the end of it all. All the details can be found at the series site,ShiloManor.com. You can enter there for your chance to win or leave a comment here to be included in the drawing!
I’ve had the chance to be interviewed on BlogTalk radio and had such a good time jabbering about the series. You’re welcome to listen in…
Interview with Giovanni on Gelati’s Scoop
Interview with Donna Brown on BBCN
And can I blush as I share some praise?
What they’re saying:
Series Review: (Chronicles of Shilo Manor)
“Cornerstone Deep is without a doubt the best paranormal romance book I’d read in 2012. It’s a classic love story with beautiful prose meets modern-day fantasy meets popular paranormal culture with a twist… Even better than the A+ cast of characters is the fantasy world in which the author sets the story.
In Book 2, Cornerstone Deep Echoes, Ms. Wilson takes the plot and the characters to a whole other level… I cannot wait to read the third book in the series; Cornerstone Deep Destiny!!!
I’m sure you’ve all guessed this…overall I give the Chronicles of Shilo Manor 5 coffins! This is one new author you want to keep your eye on!”—JD Brown, VWW Book Club
“This is a well-written world, with a cast of characters that bring it to life. Cole is the bad boy, the one that tugs at your heart, but makes so many mistakes. His brothers are a great foil to his personality, both well written as well with stories of their own. Anna is a fun and feisty young woman, also looking for love, but with her will taken from her, making her an entirely different character. Cornerstone Deep is fast-paced and hard to put down. I look for Ms. Wilson to follow this up with stories on each of the brothers. I would enjoy reading more about this fascinating family.”—The Romance Review
“This is an exciting, suspenseful tale that isn’t so much about magic, though there’s plenty of that floating around, than it is about true love and how its essence may live from century to century, recognizable only to the two beings to whom it has happened. The dialogue is snappy and amusing and the narration never lags. It appears the Wizards of Shilo Manor are in for some more adventures, and I, for one, will look forward to them”—The Book Review
“Everyone is looking for that one true love, that one that completes us. In short, our soul mate. Using the belief of reincarnation and a paranormal aspect, Wilson brings us this beautiful love story in Cornerstone Deep…
A delightful fantasy world with a beautiful love story. Who wouldn’t like to read that?”—Gothic Mom’s Book Review
Here’s a peek at Cornerstone Deep Echoes…
Cornerstone Deep Echoes
Mianna’s return heals Cole’s soul and he promises to follow her for the rest of his existence. But the past isn’t what he believes. The fight for her has only begun.
Lord Dressen’s obsession grows as unexpected knowledge is revealed. His search for Mianna has spanned six life times and he won’t give up now. The courts stand behind him. Power pulses through his veins. Determination peeks and not even Cole Shilo can stop him. He will win his prize.
Struggling to stay ahead, Cole’s anger explodes. Nothing is sacred when it comes to keeping his love—not even covenants made with gods. But, through all his efforts, lofty or damned, the truth remains. Will echoes of another life cause him to fail?
~ * ~
“Every breath you take is a song to my soul.”
Cornerstone Deep Echoes
Exhaustion racked Cole’s body. He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath to cleanse his lungs. The harm he’d caused Anna pulsed through his fatigued mind in fits of memory—distorted flashes that reminded him of the deceit, broken covenants, and ethereal anger. Pressing his palms onto his brow, his head sank deeper into the pillow. Did his actions really cost her soul six life times?
He dragged a hand down his face and blew air through his pursed lips. He’d bound her soul and even with his formidable skill with spells, he was unable to undo his wrong. Whatever cost Arylin saw fit to impose, he was grateful for the intervention. Only the Goddess of Love, with her boundless benevolence, would have found a way for them to continue their souls’ progression.
The God of Life’s fury rang in his ears as scenes of the night before haunted him. “You have defiled that which is sacred. No Meridian shall cause my child’s death without promise of rebirth. Griffin, I demand justice!”
His gaze returned to his love at his side and he listened to the sweet sound of her steady breathing. Strands of sleep-messed hair fluttered along the pillow each time she exhaled. Griffin, as God of Conformance, had every right to end him when Taravaughn called for justice. Surely, that was the desired punishment. To sentence him to serve her for the rest of her natural life only echoed Cole’s heart’s intent from the start.
As the morning sun’s light inched up the comforter’s patchwork pattern, he hitched his knee around her legs, forming his body to hers. For Arylin to return Anna’s soul to a previous life blessed them both beyond his dreams. It freed the binding and… He buried his face in her long waves and the scent of roses filled him. He had Mianna back.
“Mianna.” His whisper warmed his lips as it pooled against her neck.
She stirred and he pressed a kiss to her shoulder. “Cole.” Her sleepy eyes fluttered open but closed as if her lids were too heavy. “Have you been awake long?”
He smiled as the sound of her voice dispelled his mind’s troubles. “A while. How are you feeling?”
Her hand lifted and she brushed his long hair with her fingers before resting it at her side. “So tired. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired.” Her soft voice turned to a mumble. “You couldn’t have given me a better wedding gift but,” she drew a deep breath, “what did it do to me? What does Unsigh mean?”
Cole blinked to the side. She doesn’t know what Unsigh means? He lifted his head to peer at her cherubic face. Did she say wedding gift? Realization flushed his senses. Arylin returned her memory to our wedding night. We truly are starting our life together over.
He pulled the comforter up to her chin and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Unsigh means one heart, my love. It joins our passion when you create the symbol and utter the spell. It’s an enchantment only you can call on.”
“Oh,” she breathed. “It’s amazing…really. It’s just…I’m so…” As she drifted back into sleep, Cole’s brow furrowed. Mianna’s spell had never caused her fatigue, not even when her soul called upon it in Anna’s lifetime.
A spray of sun’s rays pitched across his face as they hit the wide dresser mirror. With a scowl, he squinted at the glare and twitched his hand at the window. The crepe sheers whipped closed followed by a thick swish from the burgundy drapes. The room plunged into darkness. As his eyes adjusted, dim light from the vanity area competed with the beams’ peek through the gaps around the window coverings. He sighed and sat up, resting his arm on his knee.
Perhaps it was everything she’d been through and she just needed rest. She’d experienced more trauma in the last week than he had in the last twenty-five hundred years. Her life as Anna had hardly been easy—abandonment, loss, and then manipulated by a man whose attention she’d refused. He raked a hand over his scalp. Then to nearly lose her life while they tried to unbind her soul, only to be saved by grace at the price of six life times’ progression…
Cole gazed over at the petite form beside him. He shook his head and brushed the dark hair from her face. How could Anna’s features be so similar to Mianna’s? The gentle slope of her nose, the curve of her bowtie lips. He tilted his head and gently stroked her cheek with his finger. Or was it the love he held in his heart that colored his view? A smile blossomed from his lips and he leaned to her, touching his brow to hers. His black hair fell to the pillow like a sheet of satin, deepening the shadows. No matter the reason. He had her back. And he vowed to never lose her again.
~ * ~
A satisfied grin tugged at Lord Dressen’s lips as he looked out over the gathered noblemen. Low voices filled the stately hall. Marble bracing columns led way to the arched beams in the domed ceiling. Sunbeams poured through the twelve-foot windows, filling the space with a yellow haze. The gold that framed the life-sized portraits along the walls appeared to glow, accenting their subjects.
The turn-out was as hoped. He had the majority of the Grand Marshals’ court in attendance and every member seemed dedicated to support him. His heavy brow furrowed and he lifted his chin. Cole Shilo, you’ll pay for taking Anna from me.
The dull rumble of conversation subsided as he stepped to Officiator’s stand and took his chair at the center of the table. He nodded to the two uniformed gentlemen who stood guard at the entrance and they stepped out, closing the doors behind them.
Lord Carrington tugged at his vest as he strode up the center aisle. A more trusted friend he’d never had. The tall man moved with trained temperance. An admirable trait; grace under pressure. Taking his place at Dressen’s side, he leaned to him with a hushed voice. “Ninety-nine are in attendance. Lord Standish’s men are the only ones not to sign in.”
“We can do without them. What are twenty-two votes against ninety-nine?”
Carrington nodded and ran a hand along his tailored beard. “One concern I feel I must voice, Kyle.” He looked at his friend and his brown eyes twitched. “Standish may not hold the court’s majority, but he’s a strong believer in tradition. The men here control a vote, but many of their wives and family are faithful to the Gods, including my own. They practice religious rites and that encompasses the Shilos as Sentinels. If this isn’t handled with care it could become nasty.”
Dressen sighed and he glanced at the portraits that lined the room. Every Grand Marshal that had held a senior position was portrayed. His gaze gravitated to the depiction of Sylis Shilo at the center of the hall. The founder seemed to watch his every move—his coal hair, onyx eyes, and square features set firm. Dressen sneered. A wizard surrounded by noblemen.
“Sentinels.” He scoffed. “They’re aliens. Nothing more. And their own laws protect us from their dimension’s powers. What superior race agrees to such an arrangement? They’re weak. Their kind has no place on Terra.”
“Never-the-less, the faithful could rise up to protect them.” Carrington looked down at his cufflink as he straightened the gold piece. “And I’ll be frank. Even though I see nothing wrong with how you achieved your goal with the girl, many will see it otherwise. Having the wizards bend her will as a servant was one thing, but calling for total compliance pushed the agreement’s intention.”
Dressen scowled. “The Wizards of Shilo Manor accepted my bid as any other. She broke the law and she was harvested. With the new curfew in play, she was no different from the homeless.” He softened his voice. “It was the only way to get her past the idea that my standing separated us. Once she joined the household, she admitted she wanted to be with me all along. She told me she loved me. Always had. She was happy.”
He looked at his comrade and his narrow features leered. “Cole Shilo’s desire to have her took her from me.” He pointed a finger to accentuate his view. “I know he has her up at that manor.”
Lord Carrington cocked his head. “We have no jurisdiction within the walls of the Sentinel’s home.”
“You just deal with the charges.”
“The only real proof we have is the vision you shared from that night she disappeared, Kyle. And that’s another issue. You were only able to share it by way of the magical means Cole Shilo gifted you.” His friend quirked his cheek. “There’s talk of a loss of integrity at the expense of…”
“A thief?” A growl rumbled in Dressen’s throat as his blood seethed.
“A Sentinel, Kyle. You have to view this from these men’s perspective. I know you’re not religious, but religion is going to play a large part in what they decide.”
“Then use their beliefs against them. Look into the covenants the wizards have made. Their long lives will show something. In two thousand years, no man can live without error.”
Carrington ran a finger under his collar as if it suddenly became too small. “I’ll make the assignment. But how do you expect to get to the girl if she’s up there?”
A crooked smile crept its way to Dressen’s lips. “I’ll find a way. You just start by calling them in for questioning and I’ll do the rest.”
Cornerstone Deep Echoes is available in paperback and e-formats. (But here’s a quick link).
And I would love you to join me on the web!
Author site: http://CharleneAWilson.com
Monday, August 15th, 2011
Join me in welcoming Tia Bach to Highlighted Author.
I treasure words, both as a writer and avid reader. My first novel, Depression Cookies, was released in October 2010 and co-authored with my mother, Angela Silverthorne. It is a coming of age tale written from two perspectives: teenage daughter and middle-aged mother. I wrote the teenager’s perspective while my mom wrote the mother’s.
I am blessed with three beautiful girls (11, 9 & 6), a wonderful husband, and supportive family.
What was it that made you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always loved to read and write, inspired by a mom who lived with a book in her hands and made up stories. I filled notebooks with stories as a kid. I found it therapeutic. When I headed to college, I was equally influenced by my practical father and creative mother. A business degree made sense, but I spent all my free time writing for the school newspaper and yearbook.
As soon as a company discovered I liked writing and editing, they incorporated these strengths into my job. I did everything from bank newsletters, marketing materials, and reviewing corporate communications to editing bank manuals. But the creative part of me always wanted a non-business writing outlet. I would sneak in employee interviews or spotlights for a little non-business flair, but I still wanted more.
When my first child was born in 2000, I called my mom with a crazy thought. I was excited to be a stay-at-home mom, but I knew I needed something for myself. I convinced her to write a coming of age story with me. Ten years and two more kids later, Depression Cookies was published.
Is there an author who stands out among the others that you feel influenced you?
First, Judy Blume. I devoured every book she wrote. I tell everyone Depression Cookies is Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret but with both the mother and daughter’s voices. I read so many books, but I find women’s tales stay with me best. I love Fannie Flagg and Billie Letts. My favorite book all-time is Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi, although I must admit The Help recently cracked my top five.
I love a story told from a woman about women and for women. Don’t get me wrong, I read male authors, too. I love She’s Come Undone and even more so I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb. She’s Come Undone is a shining example of a male author capturing the female voice.
Tell us about your featured book:
Depression Cookies is a coming of age story woven around the heart of family triumph. It is told from two distinct vantage points, middle-aged mother, Abby, and her teenage daughter, Krista.
Abby is buckling under the weight of a husband who is climbing the corporate ladder, three daughters each with their own unique needs, a mother who is going off the deep end and family health issues. As she is meeting everyone else’s needs, her own keep surfacing. She feels she is losing parts of herself daily and doesn’t know how to handle the stress and conflict. All she truly wants is a little magic in her life.
Krista is thirteen, battling acne and low self-esteem, when her father waltzes in and announces the family is moving again. Instead of letting fear and anxiety rule her life, she is determined to survive the trenches of teenage cruelty and family issues without completely losing herself in the process.
What neither expects to find is the true essence of magic in the strength, friendship, power and energy of the female spirit.
What was your inspiration for Depression Cookies?
Moving as often as we did, we saw many families and their struggles. Losing a friend to anorexia had a profound effect on me. Too often we get mired down in our own view of life and how things happened, and a mother and teenage daughter can lose each other along the way. We hoped this book would open up a dialogue, not just in the mother-daughter relationship, but for all women to talk about perspective and how life events shape them.
Who was your biggest supporter or influence while you wrote?
My mother. My husband endured my cranky teenage persona, I often channeled her a bit much while writing, and supported my desire to write and publish a novel. But my mother was there every step of the way. When I was overwhelmed with three small children and moving yet again, she provided encouragement and advice. I couldn’t have done it without her.
What was it like to co-author with your mother? How did you arrange your writing schedules?
We would discuss characters and plot points on the phone. I would write a chapter, send it to Mom, she would write a chapter in reaction, then I reacted to her chapter, and so on. We rarely got ahead of each other. When life handed us delays (new baby, health issues), we took a break and resumed when we were both ready. Sometimes I would outline future ideas, but overall we wrote chapter by chapter.
You appeared on The Balancing Act on Lifetime TV. Would you share the experience with us?
Amazing. I can’t say enough positive things about every step of the process. O2 Media produces the show. They contacted us and made sure we were comfortable through each phase. The host, Danielle Knox, was professional but also engaging and supportive. Neither Mom nor I had ever done a television interview before, but they had us so prepared we did it in two takes. We were thrilled with how the interview turned out, and we learned so much.
Do you have any other projects in the works? Or other published works you’d like to mention?
My mother and co-author, Angela Silverthorne, previously published a book of poetry, Promises Seeded Inside. We are currently working on a follow-up to Depression Cookies. The same concept of two voices, but Krista will be entering college. We wanted to explore ages where children, particularly daughters, pull away to define themselves but still need their families for support and comfort. We explored the early teenage years in the first novel, so we wanted to tackle the “leaving the nest” time of life in the second.
In addition, I’m working on a YA novel. I love the young adult voice; it’s a great time of exploration and discovery.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
Depression Cookies was named a Finalist in the Chick Lit category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and more recently as a Finalist in the Chick Lit and Fiction – Realistic categories of the 2011 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards.
Looking through the dingy school bus window, I felt the emptiness of losing another place. I wasn’t losing a home; my family knew better than to get attached to a location. It was worse than that. The persona I had created would stay behind; so in essence, I was dying. I never knew what I would have to become on the other side. The North Carolina girl was an illusion I had yet to create, and the real me was a reality I had yet to know.
Late at night, I would often think about the many characters I had created over the years. I could imagine how actors felt. They become each new role only to lose that part at each premiere. Now, through the cruelty of fate, I would lose another me. I was heading off to start a new movie, a new role.
“Krista, did you study for the math test?” Courtney asked.
I looked at her and felt the separation beginning. She was blurring, and I was starting to forget her. I blinked several times to combat the fuzziness. “I looked over the stuff last night. Not worried about it.”
“Well, I am. I wish I had your knack for numbers.”
“It’s the only thing you can trust,” I said to her. “Two plus two is always four.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But what the heck is x?”
We laughed. Excelling at school was never a challenge. Existing at school was. As we filed out of the yellow bus, I remembered I had not cared when I showed up here, and no one would care when I left. While I was absorbed in questioning my existence, chattering females in the hallway buzzed in my ear as I made my way to my locker. I clicked it shut and was heading to the math test when Dean stopped me.
He put one hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes and said, “So, you think I’m cute?”
A crowd had gathered, and I felt heat spreading from my neck through the rest of my body. God take me to the next place now. Why must I suffer one last humiliation before I am a memory? I wanted to run, to scream at him to please let me down easy; instead, I stared at him feeling like a simple bystander to the scene.
“I only date pretty girls. You know any?” he said and turned to high-five the second most popular guy in school and his best friend. Several girls snickered behind them while several more looked at me with pity.
I simply walked away. Not a word. Neither Mom nor Dad would have believed it. After all, I had a comeback for everything they said. But to defend myself to these kids, I had not one word. I melted into the scenery because I knew how to do that. This was the cherished popular crowd, and I had never gained access.
Want more Tia? You can find her at:
Monday, January 10th, 2011
Join me in welcoming Linda Rettstatt to Highlighted Author.
Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Brownsville, a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania. My first job after high school was working as a clerk for the local newspaper. The news editor knew I wanted to write and, when a local theater group formed, he gave me the opportunity to review plays. I’m sure it was a task no one else in the newsroom wanted, but I gladly accepted. I even got to write one human interest story with a ‘by’ line. I formed my own performing music group while in high school and continued to pursue a semi-professional music career for the following twelve years (semi-professional = playing for the love of the music, not the pay . I spent much of my adult life in Pennsylvania until ten years ago when I relocated to NW Mississippi to work for a non-profit social service organization. I have a master’s degree in social work and have worked in both the clinical and general social work areas. I share an apartment with my companion, Binky, a tuxedo cat I adopted from a shelter two years ago. She now has me mostly trained.
When did you decide to be writer?
In high school, my secret dream was to move to Westport, Connecticut, rent someone’s small attic rooms, and write the great American novel. Yes, I had the plan all worked out in detail. But I was seventeen, didn’t have the encouragement or self-confidence and, well, at that age, what would I have to write about? I poured my creative passion into music and composing. And I dabbled in nature photography. But I never let go of the dream to write a novel. Fast forward years later (no, I won’t say how many) to 2004. I was working here in Mississippi as a therapist. I had a day when all of my scheduled appointments either didn’t show up or called to cancel. I was sitting in the receptionist’s office complaining of having nothing to do. She said, “Why don’t you go to your office and write that book you keep talking about?” So…I did. It was like popping the cork on a shaken bottle of bubby. The words erupted and just kept flowing. I’ve not stopping writing since.
You have several published works that deal with inner struggles and triumphs. What would you say is your inspiration for such touching stories?
In my early adult years, I got away from reading–something I had loved as a child. When I started to read for pleasure again, I picked up a novel by Elizabeth Berg. And I immediately fell in love with women’s fiction. Add to this my background in clinicial social work and my experience as a therapist, much of which involved working with women who were depressed, defeated, or had somehow gotten lost in their own lives. I love stories in which a woman digs deep inside to unearth the strength of spirit she needs to overcome some obstacle or life event that stands in her way.
If you could choose one, which would be your favorite? Your favorite character?
There is something to each of my books and my characters that I love. But right now my own favorite is Rylee Morgan in Shooting Into the Sun. Maybe I’m drawn to Rylee because, in some ways, she reminds me a bit of my younger self. I love the way Rylee is forced to examine her rules for life and to make new choices that promise happiness. I guess what I love, too, is that Rylee is willing to admit to being wrong in order to claim the life she truly wants.
Tell us a little more about Next Time I’m Gonna Dance.
Next Time I’m Gonna Dance, which has finaled for a 2011 EPIC e-book award, is a story borne solely out of a title. I got to thinking one day about regrets and, not being much of a dancer myself, I thought, “If I get to come back in another life, next time, I’m gonna dance.” Well…that line demanded a book. I’ve had friends and acquaintances who were affected by breast cancer and ovarian cancer. I imagined that, if I was ever in that position, I’d examine my life and thing about my own regrets. Next Time I’m Gonna Dance became the story of Emmie Steele as she is told she has breast cancer for the second time. Facing a second mastectomy, Emmie considers the things in her life that she regrets. She could regret her marriage to a man who walked away from her while she was undergoing chemotherapy after her first surgery. But, oddly enough, she mostly regrets never having learned to dance.
Emmie is supported by her four best friends from childhood: Lynn, a teacher and Emmie’s sister-in-law; Brett, an attorney; Chris, a nun; and Polly, the wild child of their group and a writer for a New York-based soap opera. She also has the attention of Sonny who was in love with Emmie in high school. He’s never married and now comes around to offer assistance–cutting the grass or clearing the snow, rescuing Emmie when her car breaks down, cooking her dinner, and then…dessert.
Next Time I’m Gonna Dance is a story about the power of a woman’s determination and spirit, the bonds of female friendship, and second chances for love and happiness.
Could you give us a peek at what you’re working on now?
I’m working on something much lighter right now–a Christmas-themed romantic comedy as yet untitled. It’s about M.J. Rich, an up and coming TV news reporter who gets stranded in the Philadelphia airport on her way home to Pittsburgh from South Carolina to spend Christmas with her family. Brady Cameron, a fellow traveler on his way to spend Christmas with a bottle of Chivas Regal at a ski lodge in Pennsylvania, suggests they share a car rental since they’re basically going the same way–west. The story follows M.J. and Brady, virtual strangers, after they get stuck for two days in an abandoned mountain cabin. M.J. regales Brady with stories of her family and what Christmas will be like at home. When she learns he will be spending Christmas alone, she invites him to her house for the holidays. But when they finally arrive at the Ryczek house, nothing and no one is as M.J. remembered or described–right down to the cockatiel that shares her former bedroom with M.J. and her great aunt Sophie. M.J. is just beginning to like Brady when she finds out his corporation is bidding to take over the TV station for which she works in Charleston–a fact he somehow neglected to mention.
Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers and fellow authors?
For fellow authors, you already know what a tough business this can be. We can make it easier by being kind and supportive of one another. As you move up the scale, don’t forget to offer a hand to those coming up behind you. For readers, my stories are only as good as any of you thinks they are. We authors love to hear from those who read our books, so don’t ever hesitate to write and share your thoughts about my stories.
And, remember: “Life’s an adventure, wear comfortable shoes.”
Where can we find you?
My web address is: http://www.lindarettstatt.com/
My blog address is: http://www.onewomanswrite.blogspot.com/
My email is: email@example.com
Thanks so much, Charlene, for having me here today. It was truly my pleasure.
Next Time I’m Gonna Dance
(This scene takes place after Emmie has lost her hair and her four best friends had their heads shaved as a sign of their solidarity with her. Emmie is coming close to finishing chemo and is able to look toward the future.)
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to celebrate life’s moments as they come. Let’s have music and room to dance.”
“Dance? You don’t dance!”
“Correction…I didn’t dance. I’m gonna learn to dance, and you’re gonna teach me.”
That evening Emmie pushed and Polly pulled on the kitchen table to move it out of the way. Polly set the CD player on the counter and went through Emmie’s collection of music. “Did you stop listening to music in the eighties?”
“I happen to like the music of the eighties. I think I’d make a great disco queen.”
Polly shook her head. “I don’t know about this. I mean, someone has to lead and someone has to follow, and I’m used to following. I think we need a man for this.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We’ll do fine without a man. You just have to think in opposites to lead. Even I know that.”
“Oh, yeah, that’ll be easy. I’m not sure I can think and dance at the same time. Okay, here goes. Let’s start out with something slow.”
Polly turned on the music and held up her arms for Emmie to step into them. They fumbled to establish posture until Polly switched her arms around to the lead position. There they were, two nearly bald women, stumbling around the kitchen, with Emmie either stepping on Polly’s feet or turning the wrong way.
As they passed the window, Emmie saw headlights flash in the driveway. She stopped and looked out the door at the red pickup truck. “Oh, my God, it’s Sonny. What’s he doing here at this time of night?”
“Relax. It’s only eight o’clock, and you look fine. Here, let me get your wig.” Polly grabbed the wig and flopped it onto Emmie’s head, slightly askew. She straightened the scarf she had wrapped around her own head.
When Sonny knocked at the door, Emmie opened it, breathless.
He stepped inside and looked at the table pushed to the wall and the open floor space. “Hi. What’s going on here?” he asked, his head cocked slightly to one side, and his eyes fixed on Emmie’s head.
“Dance class,” Polly said, waving her hand in front of her face to cool off.
“What brings you by, Sonny?” Emmie asked, straightening the wig.
“I was on my way home from work. A customer gave me two bottles of this wine, so I thought I’d drop one off for you.”
“You have impeccable timing. We’re planning a celebration, and the wine will be put to good use. What are you doing a week from Saturday?” Polly asked.
“Nothing I know of. What are we celebrating?”
Emmie smiled broadly. “I have one more chemo treatment, and then I’m done. After a few weeks of radiation treatments, I can start back on the road to recovery. Oh, yes, and Wes filed divorce papers. See, all the bad things are coming to an end at once.”
Sonny stammered, “That’s…that’s great news, Em…all of it…I guess.”
“Sonny, do you know how to dance?” Polly asked.
“And you know how to lead, I presume?”
“Good. I’m going to have a drink. Here are some CDs. Pick a song and teach this one how to follow,” she said as she pointed at Emmie. “My feet can’t take anymore. Good luck.” With that, Polly made a gin and tonic and retreated to the living room.
Sonny hit the play button on the CD player and a waltz came on. He went to Emmie, bowed deeply and extended his hand. “May I have this dance?”
She laughed and accepted his hand, letting him pull her into dance position. He was sure easier to follow than Polly had been. Emmie managed to step on his feet a few times, but soon got the hang of it as he gracefully waltzed her around the kitchen. She was breathing hard when the music stopped.
“Are you okay? Do you need to sit for a minute?” he asked.
“No. I’ve done nothing but sit and rest for weeks now. This is fun. Teach me another one.”
Grinning broadly, he changed the CD and a slow dance came on. He took her in his arms, telling her to look at him and let her feet follow.
She tried, but stumbled over his feet. Laughing, he lifted her and placed her feet on top of his.
“Hey, dancing is so much easier than I thought. Why’d I wait so long?”
“You just need the right partner.” His eyes were fixed on hers and warmth spread up her neck.
She slid her feet from his as the song ended, needing to create some space between their bodies. “Thanks, Sonny, but I think I’ve had enough for tonight.”
They sat at the table while Emmie caught her breath.
“I’m glad I stopped by when I did,” Sonny said with a grin.
“I’m glad, too. Polly really can’t lead, and I was worried someone would come by and see the two of us dancing around in here and wonder what was going on. She’s definitely not my type,” Emmie laughed.
Sonny gazed at her, his eyes twinkling. “What is your type?”
Emmie felt a shift in the air between them. She caught her breath. “Well, definitely not female redheads who can’t lead a waltz.”
Polly shouted from the living room, “Hey, I heard that!”
“So, about the dinner I promised you two. How about next week?” Sonny asked.
“Can we wait until after I’m all finished with the chemo? I know it sounds like I’m putting you off, but food tastes like nothing right now.”
“Sure. Whenever you’re ready. Are you up to another dance?”
“I think I’ll stick to the waltz for now, if that’s okay. I’m kind of tired. It was nice of you to stop by. Thanks for the wine.”
Emmie watched with interest as he stood and ran a hand through his thick black hair, pushing the lock that had fallen onto his forehead back into place. Her hand tingled as she imagined doing that very thing.
“I’ll see you next week,” he said, leaning quickly to kiss Emmie’s cheek. “Goodnight, Polly,” he called out as he headed for the door.
“Goodnight, Sonny. Thanks for taking over the lesson,” Polly called back.
“My pleasure,” he called back to Polly, his eyes again fixed on Emmie as he spoke. “Goodnight, Em.”
Emmie sat for a moment, her hand against her cheek, feeling warmth where he’d kissed her. She joined Polly in the living room. “Well, I can waltz now. You were right, all I needed was a man.” Seeing Polly’s smirk, she quickly added, “To lead. I needed a man to lead.”