Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm reposting this because it's such a pretty New Years Eve picture!
Happy New Year everyone, wishing you all the best in 2010!

If you haven't read my Samhellion freebie, today's a good day to do it because it's New Year's Eve...Gavin and Melina are having a sexy celebration!

Love Me Tonight is a short story about Gavin and Melina, who you may recognize from Love Me and Love Me More. They're in for another sexy New Year's Eve adventure - but this one may surprise you!

Go check it out!





Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I finished a novel by a new-to-me-author who happens to also be represented by my agent Laura Bradford and is also a fellow Samhain and Ellora's Cave author - Beth Kery. I read Sweet Restraint and I really liked it! What a great story! I loved all the emotion and what kept those two lovers apart all those years.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Love Me Tonight


My Samhellion freebie is up already!
Everyone loves a free story, right?


Love Me Tonight is a short story about Gavin and Melina, who you may recognize from Love Me and Love Me More. They're in for another sexy New Year's Eve adventure - but this one may surprise you!

Go check it out!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 25


Monday morning Jack met with a nurse at the oncology clinic.
“I’m Marlo Dixon,” she said, shaking his hand. She motioned to a chair and gave him a warm smile. “Please call me Marlo.” What type of person did it take to be a pediatric oncology nurse? He could only admire the way she made him comfortable, asked if he’d brought any family with him. He regretted not bringing Ally, but it was probably best not to get her too involved with all this stuff.
“Human leukocyte antigen or HLA testing is used to match patients and donors for bone marrow transplants,” Marlo told him as they sat in a surprisingly un-clinical office with cheerful yellow walls and brightly colored furniture. “HLA antigens are proteins found on most cells in our bodies. Your immune system uses these proteins to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. A close match between your HLA antigens and the recipient’s reduces the risk the recipient’s immune cells will attack donor cells or that your immune cells will attack the recipient’s body after the transplant. We take a blood sample to test for your HLA tissue traits.”
Jack nodded, trying to remember to breathe.
“Don’t worry about remembering all this,” she said with a smile. “I have pamphlets and printed materials you can take with you when you leave. You can spend as much time as you like going over them before you make your decision.” She nodded to a stack of paperwork on her desk. “It’s very important to the success of the transplant to have a well-matched donor. The best chance of finding a match is with a brother or sister. Since we inherit half of our HLA antigens from our mother and half from our father, each brother and sister who has the same parents has a twenty-five per cent chance of matching a recipient.”
“Wow. Even that sounds low. And Sarah doesn’t have any brothers or sisters.”
She nodded. “I know. There is less chance that other family members will match. But we will certainly test parents to make sure we don’t miss out on a viable donor. There are a number of other factors that lead to improved transplant success rates.” She outlined some of the factors.
“So I’m good on all those.” Jack gave her a small grin. “I’m big, I’m young, I’m male, I’m healthy.”
Marlo smiled back at him. “Yes to all those. So, I’ll explain how the bone marrow donation process works. It’s a surgical procedure performed in a hospital. The donor receives an anesthetic and doctors use special needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the pelvic bones. Some donors receive a transfusion of their own blood. A donor’s marrow is completely replaced within four to six weeks. Usually the donor goes home the same day. Donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days, maybe longer. Some donors feel tired or have some difficulty walking, but are back to their usual routine in a few days, although some may take two to three weeks before they feel completely recovered.”
“Is it a general anesthesia or local?”
“Could be either,” she answered openly. “The anesthesiologist decides which the best option is. The two types of regional anesthesia used most often are spinal and epidural. They prevent the donor from having any feeling below the waist and the donor is awake through the procedure.”
Jack noticed how she always referred to the donor and recipient as a nameless people rather than him and Sarah. He supposed she was trying to make it as neutral as possible so as not to influence his decision.
“After receiving anesthesia, the donor is placed on his stomach. The doctor makes an incision through the skin on the lower back and the needles are inserted through the incision into the pelvic bones. The doctor then attaches a syringe to the hollow needle and draws out the marrow and repeats this aspiration process until the appropriate amount of marrow is collected. About a quart of marrow is collected, depending on the size of the donor and recipient. After the marrow is collected, a dressing is placed over the incision. Most incisions are small enough that there’s no need for stitches. The donor then goes to a recovery area and is monitored until the anesthetic wears off. When the donor is fully awake, he or she is either brought to a hospital room for further observation or goes home. As with all same-day surgical procedures, when a donor goes home the same day, someone other than the donor must drive.”
Jack nodded, immediately thinking of Ally.
“We follow up with you after a few days to see how you’re doing, and then we call once a week until you feel you’ve fully recovered.”
“I’ve been living and working in Iraq. I just came home to...do this. How long do you think it would be before I could go back there?”
“Are you in the service?” she inquired.
He shook his head. “Photojournalist.”
“Ah. Well, I would think you should probably stay here for three to four weeks after.”
Jack nodded. Three to four weeks. Oh, man. He hadn’t really thought ahead that far. But in the big picture of things, a few weeks out of his life wasn’t that big a deal.
“Do you have any other questions?” she asked gently.
“Are there any risks involved?” he asked. “Just so I know.”
“Of course. As with any surgical procedure, there is some risk involved. Serious complications are rare but could include anesthesia reactions, infection, transfusion reactions, or injuries at the needle insertion sites. We take every precaution to ensure the safety and well-being of the donor. You must have a thorough physical examination before you donate.”
Jack nodded, recalling Brittany telling him that.
“What about Sarah?” he asked slowly. “Are there risks for her?”
“I can’t speak about Sarah specifically,” Marlo said. “I know you are her father, but without permission from her mother I can’t give out that information. But I can tell you generally a bit about the transplant experience from the recipient’s perspective. There are some risks, risk of infection, of bleeding, of interstitial pneumonia, and of course graft-versus-host disease. Acute GVHD can occur anywhere from ten to seventy days after a transplant, though the average time is around twenty-five days. About one-third to one-half of allogeneic transplant recipients - allogeneic transplants are where the donor is a family member - develop acute GVHD. It’s less common in younger patients and in those with better HLA matches between donor and recipient. Most cases are mild, and those who develop it usually have no long-term effects, although in some cases it can be serious or even life threatening. We try to prevent acute GVHD by giving drugs to lessen the immune response, but although these help prevent serious GVHD, mild GVHD will almost inevitably occur.”
“Oh,” Jack said. “That doesn’t sound good. You know, I’m not liking these odds.”
Marlo nodded sympathetically. “I know. But think of it this way - without a transplant, Sarah’s odds of survival may be even less.”
He nodded sombrely. “Okay,” he said decisively. “I’m ready. Let’s do it.”
“You don’t need to make a decision immediately,” she cautioned him. “You can go home and discuss it with your family. You may want to talk to Brittany more about it.”
He shook his head firmly. “No. That’s not necessary. Really, I knew before I came here what the decision would be. How could I not do this?”
She smiled. “All right then. In Sarah’s case, timing is a bit urgent. She’s almost at the point in her treatment where we would want to do the transplant. So we can get you in for a complete physical this afternoon. We’ll take some blood samples for testing and we’ll know this week if you’re a suitable donor.”
When Jack got back to Carter’s place, his mind whirled with all the technical information he’d heard, and he threw himself down on the couch to go through the printed materials they’d given him. Then he realized he should call Brittany and let her know his decision.
He heard the tears choking her voice when he told her he was willing to go ahead with it, but cautioned her that it would be a few days before they knew the results of the tests to know if he was a good donor.
“You will be, I know it,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “Thank you, Jack. You have no idea how much this means to me.”
He rubbed his face. “What about Sarah?” he asked. “Now do we tell her I’m her father?”
“No.”
“But...”
“Not yet. I’m not going to get her hopes up about the testing, Jack. It’s possible you aren’t a good match either, although you’re our best hope. But she’s sick. She has a lot of stuff going on. This is hard for an adult to deal with, never mind a nine-year-old kid.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“If the transplant goes ahead, then I think that would be a good time to tell her. I don’t even want to tell her this is happening, because it will get her hopes up and things don’t always work out. We’ve learned that the hard way.” She paused. “So, if it’s a go, we’ll explain things to her then.”
“Yeah. I can see that would be the best way. Okay.” He paused. “I’ll come by tonight. Sarah and I are going to finish painting the tree house.”
“Okay.” Brittany’s voice sounded strangled. “See you later.”
He hung up, tossed his cell phone on the coffee table and leaned his head back against the sofa. Jesus. Everything was so complicated.
He finished reading the information he’d been given, not that anything there was going to change his mind. A sore back for a few days was nothing compared to saving Sarah’s life.
The urge to talk to Ally about it all was so overwhelming he picked up his cell phone to call her. He flipped it open, stared at it, then slowly closed it.


Extreme Close Up Chapter 26

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy holidays everyone!

I want to wish everyone the most joyous of holidays full of peace and laughter, friendship and love!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I've been back on a Lorelei James reading kick! I finished All Jacked Up. I really liked this story, and the characters really got inside my head. Reading this book and Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks last week reminds me how important good characters are. Then I read Cowgirl Up And Ride also by Lorelei James, and now I'm reading Shoulda Been a Cowboy. I only wish I'd read these stories in the order they were written because now I'm reading about characters (like Keeley, whose story is in All Jacked Up ) who haven't had their own romance yet. I don't think you really have to read them in order, and I've sure been jumping all over the place, but they are all connected.
Non fiction: Making Magick by Edain McCoy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A great review for Love Me More!


This is my first ever 5 review!!
Romance Junkies gave Love Me More 5 Blue Ribbons:


"With tons of red-hot romance and a surprising understanding of relationships between men and women, LOVE ME MORE is an excellent sequel to LOVE ME. I think every female in the world has probably shared Mel’s feelings at some point...Excellent job!"

Wheee!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Release day!



I'm blogging about my Ellora's Cave Release RIGGER over at the Nine Naughty Novelists today - come find out what inspired this story!

Extreme Close Up Chapter 24



Jack collapsed onto Ally’s sofa as soon as they were in the door. He stared into space.
Ally watched him, concern and love for him swelling and aching in her chest. If only she could make this all right for him. She’d do anything to ease this pain for him. This was unbelievable.
She sank down on the couch beside him and took his hand. For a long moment they sat there in silence. The tension between them was replaced by the shock of Sarah’s illness, the horror that she might die, and anger that something so cruel could happen to a beautiful child.
“Are you okay?” she finally whispered, not looking at him.
“No,” he groaned. “Ally.” He turned to her and pulled her into his arms, which tightened around her like clamps. She slid her arms around his neck and let him hold her, nestling in against him, both of them taking comfort from the close connection.
“I can’t believe it,” he said, his low voice muffled by her hair. “I just find out about her, just get to meet her...and I find out she’s dying.”
“She might not be.” She stroked her hands over his back. “If you’re a good match, and you’re willing to donate, maybe you can save her.”
His arms tightened and she felt his uneven breathing, the heavy thud of his heart against her. “Yeah. Maybe.”
They stayed like that for a long time, and she knew Jack was fighting to control his emotions, his breath shuddering in and out of him.
“Would you do it?” she finally asked him, drawing back a little. “Donate your bone marrow?”
“Of course!” He looked down at her with faintly red eyes, his face drawn. “Man, if I can do something so little as donating bone marrow to save a life, why wouldn’t I? So many families I saw ripped apart, innocent children killed. Those parents - Mohim - had no choice about keeping their kids alive.” He shook his head, his eyes sad.
“You can do something about this,” she whispered, laying her palm on his cheek, rough with a day’s growth of golden beard. “And I’m here for you, Jack.”
“I know.” He hauled her against him again, pressed his face to her hair. “I know you are, Ally. I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re all that’s getting me through this.”
“No, I’m not. You’re strong, Jack. You’ve always been strong. You know what you need to do and you do it.”
“I know, but it doesn’t make it easier. I didn’t plan to stay here very long. I have a job I have to get back to. My whole life is bombed–out rubble.” He shook his head. “Except you.”
She knew he wanted her, cared about her. She felt the same. She also knew if they slept together again Jack was going to feel horrible. But she couldn’t stop it. They needed each other, on a level that went far beyond rational thoughts about why they shouldn’t do it. And Ally didn’t care. She didn’t care if Carter was pissed off at them. She and Carter had been done a long time ago. She should care about Carter and Jack, she supposed, but she couldn’t help feeling that Carter didn’t deserve Jack’s unswerving loyalty.
She stood up and took Jack’s hand in hers. He looked at her. Then he stood up, too. And followed her up the stairs to her bedroom.

* * *

“I’m going to go stay with Carter.”
Ally’s head snapped up. They sat in her kitchen drinking coffee the next morning.
“Why?” Her forehead creased.
“I can’t stay here with you, Ally.” He swallowed hard. “This is going to keep happening. And it can’t.” He tensed, waiting for her response.
She set her cup down on the counter, looked down at it.
“I know,” she whispered.
Jack blinked, then stared.
“I’m being when you have so much stuff going on. I swore to myself I would let you deal with Sarah and Brittany. You don’t need me bugging you about us and about Carter on top of that.”
“Oh.” Jesus, that wasn’t the problem. Ally was the one sane thing in his life, his angel. He struggled with how to tell her that.
“You still feel guilty, don’t you?” she asked.
“Hell, yeah. Although I have to admit, I totally forgot about Carter for a while there.” He let out a long breath. “I just couldn’t help myself. Couldn’t resist you. I’m weak, Ally.”
She gave a little laugh. “Weak my ass. You’re the strongest person I know.”
“Not when it comes to you, apparently.” He reached for her hand, then drew back. “I’m sorry.” He wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for. For hurting her? For being a stupid idiot who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants? “I know we shouldn’t have done it, but damned if I could help myself.”
“I know.” She touched his face. “I feel the same. I told myself I would leave you alone, that I would just be supportive and helpful until you get through all this. Then you touch me and I’m gone. I’m sorry, too, Jack.”
“Don’t apologize,” he whispered in agony. “You don’t need to feel guilty, too.”
“But I do feel guilty. Your life is crazy right now. You don’t need this on top of everything else.”
Hell, she was right. And yet...how could he get through it without her? Ally may think he was strong, but the truth was, without her he felt weak and helpless.
Ally sat there, quiet, then asked, her voice touchingly tentative, “Will you let me know when you get the test results? And how things go with Sarah?”
Her words made Jack’s chest tighten. “Of course.” Did she think he was going to leave and never see her again?
“And what about after your surgery?” she asked. “You need someone to drive you home and you shouldn’t be alone. You can come back here, then, if you want.”
“I thought Carter might look after me,” he joked.
“Yeah, right. ‘Cause Carter is so nurturing.” Her lip curled.
“Hey. He stood by me once before, when I went through a tough time. The toughest. He was a good buddy, and I’m sure he will be this time, too.”
Ally stayed silent and he shifted, turned her face with a hand on her chin so he could see her eyes.
“You know, Carter changed the last few years,” she said slowly, meeting his gaze. “When he started working for Chipman, Barratt he got so involved in his career. There were things about him I didn’t like. Sometime he was working on cases that I...had problems with. Defending guys that were guilty, getting them off on technicalities. I felt like he was becoming...unethical.” She cleared her throat. “The first time he cheated on me I tried to tell myself it was a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. But the second time - no.” She hesitated. “I shouldn’t be saying this. He’s your friend.”
Jack listened, touched her hair.
“I just want you to know ...be prepared that maybe he’s not the guy you think he is.”
Jack knew Carter wasn’t perfect, but he still felt he owed him a lot. He owed him his loyalty.
“But,” Ally continued, her voice determinedly upbeat. “Sarah is the most important thing right now. I understand that.”
“Thank you, Ally.” He held her to him for a long moment then kissed her hair.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 25

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coming tomorrow: RIGGER

Take a peak at the trailer for a little preview of this book, out tomorrow with Ellora's cave...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I finished Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks. Nathan is so alpha, yet he's met his match in Julie! A nice simple but hot story.

I'm currently reading All Jacked Up by Lorelei James. I do love her stories. I love these two strong characters and the sparks flyign between them.

In my non fiction reading, I'm working on Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England by Kristine Hughes. No, I don't think I'm going to write a historical romance, but I have this idea...Also reading Lords of Battle by Stephen Allen. Also related to my idea...which still needs a lot of work. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 11, 2009

My first Bradford Bunch post

Come on by the Bradford Bunch blog where I'm telling a Christmas story!

Extreme Close Up Chapter 23

“Dinner’s ready.” Brittany’s voice came from behind them. Ally turned and Jack wanted to kick the tree house as he walked past it and into the house. They took turns at the sink washing up and Jack pulled his T-shirt back on, but not before he’d noticed Ally eyeing him again. She seemed to like what she saw. Oh, man this was so bad.
They sat around Brittany’s small kitchen table eating hamburgers and home-made French fries, and Jack got that beer he’d been wanting. He talked to Sarah about her daycare and the trip they’d taken to the local pool that day, and even though it was surreal if he thought too much about where he was and who he was with, it was nice. Almost a family kind of thing, even with Ally there.
The truth was, Ally was the one who felt most like family. The one he was most comfortable with, the one he wanted to be with more than anyone else. He glanced at her occasionally. She didn’t say much through the meal, but he could tell she was listening intently. She asked Sarah the occasional question, too, laughed and smiled.
The strangest thought shot into his mind, a wish that Ally was Sarah’s mother and the three of them were truly a family. Not that he didn’t like Brittany. They could still be friends, despite their teenage relationship. The reality was - Brittany was Sarah’s mother. She always would be and he’d always have that link to her. But it was Ally he wanted to be the mother of his children.
Pain sliced through him and he set down his beer. This was what his life was going to be. Linked to a woman he didn’t want, by a child to whom he owed it to be the best father he could from the other side of the world, all while wanting a woman he could never have. Jesus, what a fucking dismal future he had to look forward to.
He couldn’t eat any more, pushed the plate away from him.
“Can I have your fries?” Sarah asked him.
“You’re having a hungry day, aren’t you sweetie?” Brittany asked with a little laugh.
“Sure.” He let his daughter take his plate. He swallowed past the golf ball that had materialized in his throat and smiled at her.
When they’d helped Brittany clean up and do the dishes, they all went back outside.
“How much more are you going to do tonight?” Ally asked him.
“I dunno.” The longer he worked here, the less time he had to spend with Ally alone at her place, or deal with packing up his stuff and telling her he was leaving.
He stared at the structure still in pieces. It was going to fill Brittany’s entire tiny yard. Shit. What had he done? Sarah didn’t even want it. “I guess I’ll work a bit longer.”
“Want some help?”
He looked at Ally. “You can hammer nails?”
She gave him a crooked smile. “Probably not. But if there’s anything I can do…”
“Hey, watch this!” Sarah ran over to her swing set and grabbed the two rings again.
They turned back to watch Sarah’s gymnastics. As she struggled to hold herself upside down on her skinny arms, Jack grinned. Then Sarah’s hat fell off, to the ground. And her pony tail went with it.
He stared at the hat on the ground with hair attached to it, his smile fading...my God! How had her hair fallen off? Then he lifted his gaze to Sarah as she righted herself and quickly grabbed for the cap. She was completely bald.

* * *

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jack growled.
They sat in Brittany’s living room. Sarah had gone to her bedroom after a tearful scene when she’d apologized to her mother for letting her hat with the fake ponytail fall off. Apparently Brittany had told her not to let Jack and Ally see her without her hat. Upset but not angry, Brittany had comforted Sarah, her eyes pleading with Jack for him to wait for an explanation.
“What’s wrong with her?” He rubbed the ache in his chest. Ally sat beside him, once again took hold of his hand, and he clutched it in both his as if it were life support.
“She has leukemia,” Brittany told them. “Acute lymphocytic leukemia.”
“Oh, dear God,” Ally murmured beside him.
“She started having a lot of fevers and then infection. She got bruises all the time and I had no idea how.” Brittany pressed a hand to her stomach. “She felt weak and tired and finally her doctor did some tests that showed she had leukemia.”
“When was this?”
“A couple of years ago. Then she had to have more tests, to see what kind of treatment she needed. She’s had a ton of drugs and chemotherapy, to try to heal the bone marrow. She lost her hair, was throwing up all the time.”
“That’s why she missed so much school,” Jack murmured.
“Yes. And now, she...she needs a bone marrow transplant.” She lifted her eyes and met his and his stomach dropped to his heels.
“Is she...is she dying, Britt?” The words came out almost a whisper.
She nodded, shiny-eyed. “She could die if she doesn’t get the transplant.”
“That’s why you called me,” he said slowly, realization crawling over him. “You want me to donate.”
“I’m n-not a good match. I was hoping that you would b-be.”
Jack closed his eyes as the room spun around him momentarily.
“I’m really sorry to drop this on you out of the blue like this, but she’s my daughter, my b-baby. I’ll do whatever it takes to get her better, and I really hope you feel the same.”
Jack was taking it all in, absorbing it. The burger and fries he’d eaten earlier threatened to come back up. He glanced over at Ally and her glossy eyes shone with concern.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I wanted you to get to know her. I thought if I asked you to donate marrow to a total stranger, you’d probably say no. But if you got to know your daughter, got to love her...” She paused, swallowed hard. “I thought you’d do it.”
Jack took a breath. “What all is involved?” he asked. “For me.” God, that sounded selfish. “I mean...”
Brittany nodded. “I know. You have a right to have a lot of questions. I’ll tell you as much as I know, but it would be better if you met with the specialist. He can tell you more and explain it all better than I can.”
Jack nodded.
“Apparently you have to meet with the transplant team so they can give you information. Then they’ll do some blood tests. That will tell them if you’re a good match or not.” She paused. “I’m really hoping, because there are a lot of factors, and the fact that you’re a man, you’re big, and you’re young, are all good things.”
Jack nodded again.
“If you’re a match, you go into the hospital to donate. They give you an anesthetic and then they take some marrow out of your hip bones. You go home the same day and apparently you might have some back pain for a few days. But that’s really all there is to it.”
“It is a surgical procedure, though,” Jack said. “There are risks.”
Brittany slowly moved her head up and down. “Yes. There are. I don’t mean to minimize it, but I think the risks are pretty small, if you’re healthy. You’d have to have a complete physical before they do it, too, to make sure you are healthy and there aren’t any risks.”
She sat there, looking at him, waiting. Ally squeezed Jack’s hand and her support was all that gave him strength to go on.
“Will you come and talk to the specialist, at least?” Brittany asked quietly. “I know it’s a lot to ask.”
“Of course I will.” Was there any other answer? What was he supposed to do? Let his daughter die? Even though he’d had no idea she existed until a week ago, there was no way he could turn his back on her. He glanced at Ally and she smiled at him and he knew she was happy he’d agreed. Of course he had to do the right thing. Hopefully she hadn’t had any doubts about that.
“I’ll call the doctor in the morning and make an appointment,” Brittany told them. “Then I’ll let you know when.”
“Okay.”

Extreme Close Up Chapter 24

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Release date!


RIGGER will be released with Ellora's Cave on Friday December 18!

Here's the blurb:

Photographer Alek Kroft likes to tie up women. As a rigger, he’s into the aesthetics of bondage – the pattern of rope against skin, the marks left in tender flesh – but he has to admit he also likes the high of being in control and yeah, it turns him on. When Alek needs a model to complete the photographs for his book on rope bondage, he asks his good friend Shaela Hudson.

Shaela disapproves of Alek’s kinky sexual habits, but he’s a friend and she agrees to help. She’s not prepared for how being bound and helpless releases her from her everyday problems – her slave driver boss, her unsatisfying career and her derogatory father. She’s also helplessly aroused. So is Alek. He sees how Shaela loves being bound, even though she doesn’t want to admit it, and proposes they explore it together. Intrigued but nervous, Shaela agrees. Neither of them expects to learn the things they do about each other – and about themselves. And neither of them expects to fall in love...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Naughty Nine Recipe!

Here's my Christmas "recipe" - but don't eat it!!! Seriously, these ornaments look like cookies and smell divine but they're not edible. My kids and I enjoyed making these when they were little.

Cinnamon Christmas Tree Ornaments
1/2 cup unsweetened store-bought applesauce
1/2 cup ground cinnamon

In a sturdy plastic bag (like a Zip Loc), combine applesauce and cinnamon. Seal bag and knead until consistency of cookie dough. If too crumbly, knead in more applesauce, 1 tsp at a time. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with Christmas cookie cutters. Using a straw, make a hole in the top to thread a ribbon through.

Place on paper-towel lined baking sheet and let dry for 24-48 hours, turning several times, until hard and dry. Decorate as desired - with paints, glitter and ribbons. Gingerbread men and Christmas trees are really pretty and fun to decorate.

Hang on tree!

Recipe from The Canadian Living Christmas Book

What I'm Reading Wednesday


This week I finished In the Dark by PG Forte (just out yesterday at Samhain but I got a sneak peek!) I could not put this book down. I loved the vampires PG has created - a tortured hero who makes my toes curl, a sweet and innocent heroine who brought tears to my eyes several times in the story, moments of pure heart ache, and laughter and oh yeah, it's hot too! I had to keep reading to learn everyone's story and my only disappointment was that it ended! But good news, this is Book One of a series so we get to read more about these sexy vampires - I just hope it's soon!

And I started Sweet Seduction by Maya Banks. This story features Julie and Nathan, who we met in Sweet Surrender and Sweet Persuasion. Nathan is so funny, such a...guy! I'm enjoying this book!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another review for Irish Sex Fairy


Fallen Angel Reviews gave Irish Sex Fairy 4 Angels!!

“Kelly Jamieson has created a truly likable heroine in Keara, and a hero worthy of her in Shane. Skillfully developed, their relationship simmers before exploding into wild, passionate encounters that threaten to set the screen on fire… A sexy, suspenseful book, Irish Sex Fairy offers a gem of a story sure to please fans of contemporary erotic romance.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dear Chapters/Indigo

Dear Chapters/Indigo:

Thank you so much for the Christmas gift! It arrived in the mail last week, a lovely little notebook. Apparently I am one of your most valued customers. In a way that's not a surprise to me. I know how much money I spend at your store. I do love books, as do my kids. I also just love your store - the rich scent of Starbuck's coffee, the comfy chairs to sit in and browse through books and magazines, sometimes someone is there playing on that beautiful grand piano - lovely.

But in a way it does surprise me that I'm still such a good customer since I bought my Sony reader this year. I think I'm spending a LOT less money on books at your store, and a lot more at the Sony store.

So why don't you sell ebooks on-line, Chapters? Then I could still be such a good customer.

I'll still come to your store, because, like I said I enjoy the experience (and I pick up my monthly issue of RT Book Reviews). I know I have to do that sometimes, or else there won't be a store for me to visit. But I do like my ebooks...

Sincerely,
Kelly

Friday, December 4, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 22

Eden
Eden by flambard Flckr
Ally knew Jack was going to feel guilty, and a twinge of anxiety fluttered in her tummy, but she felt so incredibly good it was hard to get too worried about it. They’d talk about it and she would convince Jack it was silly to be so worried about Carter.
She stroked his back, the rippling muscles and smooth skin, down over his tightly muscled behind, then back up. His weight squashed her, making it hard to breathe, but it felt so good she wasn’t going to complain. Wow.
After long moments, while his breathing gradually slowed and he regained control of his body, Jack rolled off her and off the bed. He went into her bathroom presumably to get rid of the condom, came out and picked up his jeans from the floor. His face looked like someone had died.
Oh-oh.
He stepped into his jeans then sat down on the bed beside her. She looked up at him, that small knot of fear growing.
“Do not apologize again,” she hissed and sat up, pulling the duvet cover over her. “I’m the one who instigated that, so you can just blame me. You don’t need to feel guilty.”
He gave a short laugh at that. “Yeah, right.”
Ally snagged his gaze. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”
He closed his eyes. “Ally. We’ve been over this. We shouldn’t be doing this. Carter would be so pissed off at me.”
“But Carter and I are not together!” She sat up and held the sheet to her bare breasts. “I just don’t get this! I know you’re a very loyal person, Jack, but this is crazy.”
He was silent, his lips pressed tightly together.
“He cheated on me,” she said earnestly. “I don’t owe him anything.”
“But I do,” he said gravely.
Ally was silent for a moment. “You know, I was going to tell you that I think I was starting to have feelings for you, too, back in college,” she said slowly. “I was feeling very weird when we were graduating and I didn’t really know what was going on. I wish you had told me how you felt back then.”
His lips twisted. “I was about to, and then I found you and Carter together.”
Her heart sank. She had hurt him without any idea of what she was doing. What a mess.
Jack got up and left her room, quietly shutting the door behind him. She must have dozed off, sexually and emotionally exhausted, because the next thing she knew her alarm was going off at the usual seven-thirty. She lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering if she had the guts and the strength to get up and face Jack again after what had happened.
But she didn’t need to worry because he’d already left.

* * *

Jack trekked back to Brittany’s home to do more work on the tree house. Even if Sarah hated it, he needed to distract himself from what had happened last night.
Christ. He’d slept with Ally. His body leaped at the thought, his dick twitching, yet he felt heavy with guilt. He rubbed the back of his neck as he drove. They were supposed to be friends.
Like hell. Since he’d discovered his feelings for her five years ago, the chance of them being just friends was about the same as him dancing naked in the streets of Baghdad. Coming back had driven that realization home.
Carter could never know about it. He and Carter were supposed to get together this weekend and somehow Jack was going to have to pretend it never happened, act as if he and Ally were the friends they’d always been. He could do it. Sure.
He parked in front of Brittany’s house and walked around to the back yard. She’d given him a key so he could come and go, and it was on his key ring next to Ally’s. He paused and studied the two keys, side by side.
The tree house was coming together and actually looked like a house, now. He hoped he could finish it today. Then maybe Sarah would be excited about it.
He’d pictured Sarah out here with him, handing him nails and pieces of lumber. He’d envisioned taking her back to the home center to pick out paint colors for the house once it was done, and the two of them laughing and slopping paint around. He chewed at his bottom lip as he got to work. Maybe they could still do that this weekend.
The familiar drone of a lawnmower stirring up the scent of freshly-cut grass made Jack realize how long it had been since he’d heard and smelled such things. He paused, closed his eyes, transported momentarily back to Garden City, to his own back yard, helping his dad saw and nail and put together a ramshackle tree house with a rope ladder that he’d loved beyond anything.
Emotions squeezed his chest and for a few moments, he longed to go home to Garden City, the last home he’d really known. His relationship with his parents had never really been the same since he’d had to tell them he’d gotten a girl pregnant. Disappointed. Ashamed. He didn’t really know he they felt. They hadn’t talked a whole helluva lot. He’d left for college, had only gone home for holidays, but things had been strained ever since.
He would go see his parents before he left, tell them they had a grand-daughter. God. How were they going to take that? They’d thought things had worked out for the best, but, Jesus...here he was, a father.
Hell, he hoped Sarah would be excited. She’d been so disappointed the house wasn’t exactly what she’d wanted. It wasn’t exactly what he’d planned either, but dammit, it’d be better.
He firmed his lips as he worked, sweating more in the late afternoon heat. He stripped off his T-shirt to work bare-chested. Steadying a nail with one hand he lifted the hammer and brought it down sharply right onto his thumb. “Jesus Christ!” He dropped the nail and the hammer and straightened, clutching his throbbing thumb. “Son of a bitch.”
“Those are bad words.”
He turned to see Sarah frowning at him. He hadn’t realized it was so late.
“Yeah,” he ground out. “Sorry.” He looked at the thumb. No blood. That was good. He flexed it and it moved, another good thing.
“Did you hurt yourself?”
“Yeah. Hammered my thumb.” He shook the hand vigorously. “I’m okay.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That you hurt yourself.”
“Thanks.” He picked up the hammer again with a sigh. “Are you here to help me?”
“I can’t help,” she said solemnly. “I don’t know how to build a tree house.”
“You can be my gopher, okay? Bring me that piece right there.” He gestured with the hammer.
Obediently Sarah picked up it up and brought it over to him. And for a while they worked side by side, Sarah doing whatever he asked of him. She’d gotten over the letdown of the house not being in a tree, apparently, but Jack still felt crappy that he wasn’t able to build what she wanted. He blew out a long breath.
“How’s it going?”
Ally’s voice behind him startled him and he damn near whacked his thumb again. He stood up and turned and her eyes moved over his torso with both heated interest and wariness. He felt himself get even warmer, memories of last night flooding his body with hot lust.
“Good,” he managed to say. “What are you doing here?”
“Just thought I’d stop by and see how you were doing. You’ve been talking about this tree house all week and I was curious.” She dragged her eyes off his body with apparent reluctance and surveyed the structure. “It looks great, Jack. Do you like it, Sarah?”
Sarah tipped her head. “I guess so. I still think it should be in the tree, though.”
“It has a ladder for climbing up into it,” Jack said. “See?”
Sarah nodded. “That’s cool.”
Ally smiled, shot him a told-you-so glance. “Need anything? More nails?”
“A beer would be great,” he muttered, dropping the hammer on the grass.
Ally moved closer. “Brittany just invited us to stay for dinner.”
“Oh. Good.”
Ally’s eyes moved away from his bare chest and abs and surveyed the mess. “Wow,” she said. “That thing is huge.”
“Yeah.”
“It’s going to take up the whole yard.”
“Um...not quite.”
He saw her lips twitch and his own curved in response. Trust Ally to make him laugh about it.
“And it’s not in the tree,” Sarah put in again, despondently. So she wasn’t quite over her disappointment. He put a hand on her head, wearing her usual ball cap, her long blonde ponytail hanging down her back.
“Sorry, kiddo, it’s the best I could do.”
She nodded. “I’m going to swing.”
They watched her go over and grab hold of two rings hanging from the top bar. She started flipping around like an Olympic gymnast.
Ally and Jack’s eyes met and they stood there, memories of last night coiling around them, drawing them together. Jack felt himself harden and cursed mentally. His body didn’t know that he and Ally couldn’t be together like that – ever again. Ally swayed toward him and he took a step back, saw her eyes darken with hurt.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 23

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I was sick, sick, sick. For a couple of days I couldn't even read because my eyes hurt and my head ached. So I haven't gotten much writing done, but once my eyes felt better I had a few days of laying around on the couch reading.

I finished No Matter What by Erin Nicholas. This was a very sweet touching story, a classic romance. And I read What She Needs by Lacey Alexander. This is one hot hot story. I am very admiring of Ms Alexander in the male hero she created this time - Brent is as sexually adventurous as he tries to teach Jenna to be, and Jenna even comments that he "walks the talk". I loved that and it was sizzling hot, too.

And I've just started reading an advance copy of a Samhain release that's out next week - In the Dark by PG Forte. I cannot put this book down. Already I can tell this book is so different! I'm not one to read a lot of vampire books, but this one has hooked me. More next week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bad Sex in Fiction Awards!

Yes, it's that time again! Literary Review gave their Bad Sex In Fiction Awards yesterday. I’ve blogged about this award for the last few years and this year’s winners once again have me shaking my head. I know literary fiction is different than romance but the only emotions these excerpts evoke in me is “huh?”

Here’s a nice literary example from Rhyming Life and Death by Amos Oz (Chatto & Windus):

“She holds him tight and squeezes her body to his, sending delightful sailing boats tacking to and fro across the ocean of his back. With her fingertips she sends foam-flecked waves scurrying over his skin... “

Gotta love those metaphors. And let’s extend the marine metaphor even more:

“Attentive to the very faintest of signals, like some piece of sonar equipment that can detect sounds in the deep imperceptible to the human ear, he registers the flow of tiny moans that rise from inside her as he continues to excite her, receiving and unconsciously classifying the fine nuances that differentiate one moan from another, in his skin rather than in his ears he feels the minute variations in her breathing, he feels the ripples in her skin, as though he has been transformed into a delicate seismograph that intercepts and instantly deciphers her body's reactions, translating what he has discovered into skilful, precise navigation, anticipating and cautiously avoiding every sandbank, steering clear of each underwater reef…”

This one from Ten Storey Love Song by Richard Milward (Faber & Faber) is particularly creative:
“They shag at double-speed: Inthekitchenthrydospoonsonthebreakfast baramongstallthecutlerytheninthebathroomtheyshowereachotherwithhotkissesandGeorgiekneelsinthepisserwhileBobbydoesheruptheshitterthenintheloungtheybounceupanddownonthesofathenin thebedroomtheysqueakthespringsofthemattress. Meanwhile, down in Vaginaland, Mr Condom's beginning to feel a bit iffy.”

And the winner for 2009 is Jonathan Littell with The Kindly Ones (Chatto & Windus). I wholeheartedly support this one as the winner. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Her vulva was opposite my face. The small lips protruded slightly from the pale, domed flesh. This sex was watching at me, spying on me, like a Gorgon's head, like a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks. If only I could still get hard, I thought, I could use my prick like a stake hardened in the fire, and blind this Polyphemus who made me Nobody. But my cock remained inert…”

Though then miraculously:

"without moving, I came in an immense splash of white light”.

Awesome feat.

As I mentioned last year, I know that taking passages out of context can render even the most beautiful writing ridiculous, and all these stories probably have much to say about the human experience. I think I’ll keep reading about love.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 21


Jack covered his eyes with his hand after Ally left the room. Shit. What was wrong with him? He had to keep his hands off Ally. Never mind leaving tomorrow – he’d get the hell out of there now.
He climbed the stairs and knocked on Ally’s door. He turned the knob and pushed the door open a sliver, saw her sitting on her bed, head bent, shoulders slumped. She looked so forlorn and adorable, his chest tightened.
She looked up and saw him. “Come here,” she said.
He moved into the room intending to tell her he was leaving. He was vaguely aware of her bedroom, of the inviting impression of intimacy. She hadn’t turned on the lamp and the light from the hall sliced the room in two, Ally sitting in shadow.
A pouffy dark green duvet and piles of pillows layered the bed. Another soft carpet adorned the floor, funnily enough like the ones he’d seen everywhere in the Middle East...Persian carpets. Rich green, gold and russet glowed in the stripe of light from the open door. More mismatched antiques gleamed faintly in the shadows, all old golden wood.
She extended a hand, and he took it as he got closer. That exotic floral scent of her shampoo or whatever she’d used in the bathtub enticed him. She tugged him forward then down onto the bed beside her.
“Ally...”
Then his heart stopped as she stood, straddled his legs, and sat on his lap. His mouth dropped open when her hands reached for the edges of her robe and drew it apart. His heart resumed beating with a slow, painful thumping. The soft cleavage she revealed drew his eyes helplessly. Oh God.
With a small shrug of her shoulders, the robe dropped off and crumpled around her hips.
She was sitting on his lap, bare from the waist up. Holy Christ. He swallowed hard.
“What are you doing?” he whispered hoarsely.
“This.” She leaned forward and kissed him, putting a hand on each side of his face to hold him there. Her mouth was soft and warm and sweet and he opened for her automatically. Her small tongue licked his lips, licked her way inside his mouth and his still-hard cock swelled even more, pressing painfully against the fly of his jeans. His hands went mindlessly to her narrow waist, her skin silky soft and warm.
Then her hands tugged at his T-shirt, shoved it up his chest, and with some struggle she yanked it over his head and off. Now he was bare-chested too, and she leaned in for another kiss, her breasts pressing to his chest. Her hard little nipples and soft flesh rubbed against him and it made him ache. He swallowed a groan.
She slid her hands into his hair, then yanked, raising herself up so her breasts were right in front of him. Christ. She pulled his head toward her and he buried his face between the soft, generous curves there, inhaling the warm, flowery scent of her. It made him dizzy.
She shoved at his chest and he fell back onto the bed, feet still on the floor. She laid over him, kissed him again, her breasts rubbing back and forth on his chest, sending zings of pleasure down to his groin. She shifted closer so her crotch pressed against him, and rubbed there too. Lights exploded behind his eyes as his balls tightened and he was afraid he was going to come in his jeans. What was she doing?
But she backed off again, stood before him and shed the robe to stand there in a pair of tiny yellow panties. Concentrating, she bent forward to unbutton his jeans, lower the zipper, paused to cup his fullness and rub him there. He bit his bottom lip, closed his eyes. Christ. He was going to explode.
“Ally, what are you doing?”
“Seducing you,” she whispered. Then she curved her fingers into the waistband of his jeans and yanked them down over his thighs, pulling his boxers with them, and knelt before him to tug them right off his legs. She climbed on the bed, straddling him again, and looked down at him.
Her flushed face glowed, her multi-hued eyes sparkled with admiration and lust as she looked at him. He was lost. Gone. Done. He reached for her and pulled her down onto his naked body, revelling in the feel of her soft flesh against his, skin to skin.
Her mouth met his again and he opened for her hungrily, like a starving man. He had been starved for five long years. He’d been with other women, but nobody else could ever satisfy this deep, yearning hunger. He ate at her mouth, devoured her, hands sliding up and down the silky smoothness of her back, tracing over the firm ridges of muscles on each side of her spine, down lower to the curves of her ass, making her shiver. He loved that he could do that to her.
His fingers traced the bottom curve of her ass where it joined her thighs, and she wriggled against him, moaned a little into his mouth, rotated her pelvis against his in a way that was so sexy and seductive it made his head spin.
Her mouth left his, kissed his cheek, his chin, his throat, licked there, tasting him, and she gave a little murmur of enjoyment that set his blood on fire. Hot chills rippled through him and he rolled her, so she was flat on her back and he was on top.
He reached for a breast, filled his hand with her soft flesh, squeezed gently. He palmed her stiff nipple, then drew his fingers together to tug on the tight bud, and she groaned. He kissed his way down her neck to her collarbone, tasted her there, then lower to her breast, desperate to take her into his mouth. He closed his lips over the tight peak, drew gently on her, felt her arch beneath him. God, she tasted so sweet. His tongue swept over the puckered nipple, swirled around it, and he scraped his teeth gently over it.
Her head tossed on the mattress, damp auburn waves spread around her. He looked at her, eyes closed, teeth sunk into her full bottom lip. God, she was gorgeous. “This is crazy,” he muttered.
“No, it’s not,” she whispered, eyes still closed. “I want to show you how I feel.”
“Oh, Ally.”
He moved to the other breast, covering the damp nipple with his palm and using his fingers, his lips, his tongue and his teeth to make love to her breasts. Then he reached for her legs and swung them up onto the bed so they were lying lengthwise, shifting his own position so he was beside her, their heads on the pillows.
He kissed her again, a wet, sliding, open-mouthed kiss that was urgent, desperate and hot. She embraced him, her hands on his back, holding him close, stroking over his muscles.
Then she shoved at him, rolled him, straddled him again and he gazed up at her. Her hands slid over his chest, over his nipples, pinched them lightly and he gasped. She smiled, did it again. Then she bent forward and kissed each nipple, using her teeth a little, too, to arouse him even more. She licked him there, nuzzled the fuzz in the center of his chest, kissed his flat abdomen.
“This feels good, doesn’t it, Jack?”
He sucked in a breath as she shifted her body lower, between his legs, her soft hands tracing down his sides, making him shiver. She clasped his hip bones, her mouth moving lower, pressing into the curls at his groin. She inhaled deeply, then drew back, taking his cock in her hands.
“Oh Christ, Ally.” He was blind with lust and excitement. She stroked her hands up and down him, over the sensitive crown, wringing another gasp from his lips. Then the top of his head almost blew off when she lowered her mouth and kissed the tip of his cock, and he could feel he was wet there. She licked at him with her little tongue, kissed him again and then, sweet Jesus, she took the head of him into her mouth and sucked. His hips bucked, hands fisted in her long thick hair, holding her there.
Now it was his turn to yank her hair, pulling her off him. She looked up at him questioningly, her swollen lips gleaming wet, eyes shining.
“Not yet,” he muttered. She cupped his balls and squeezed gently, then released him and slid back up his body, the friction of her skin against his insanely pleasurable.
Impatient, desperate, he rolled her again, tucked her under him, threw one leg across her hips to hold her down. He kissed her, eating at her mouth with hungry, biting kisses, then licking her lips, sucking her tongue.
He wanted to be inside her so bad it was killing him. He slid a hand between them, down through the tiny patch of auburn curls at the juncture of her thighs, into her folds. She was so wet. God. He shifted off her so he could part her thighs, cupping her mound as he moved. Her little clit poked out from between her surprisingly, beautifully, smooth and hairless labia, and she was dripping. He put a hand on her thigh, pushed it wide and gazed at her sweet feminine folds, all pink and glistening and ready.
He swallowed hard, his mouth filling with saliva at the sight of her. He could smell her arousal, warm and sexy. He wanted to taste, wanted to touch, wanted to fill her up. He slid a finger down through the slick folds, into her. Tight. Soft. Wet.
“I want to make you come,” he whispered.
“Yes.” The way she watched him so intently, so hotly, almost made him lose control.
He moved between her legs and opened her wider to him with a hand on each thigh and the scent of her arousal filled his head, intoxicating him. Then he bent his head to taste her. Oh man, she was sweet. He licked her up and down, his tongue moving through the folds, licking up, down, over and then inside her, tasting her deeply. She arched beneath him, head tossing on the pillow, making little whimpers of pleasure. When he touched his tongue to her swollen clit, she jerked and writhed.
He kissed the soft folds, one side, the other, licked again, then sucked the tender flesh gently into his mouth. She cried out, and he kissed her clit, suckled it, too.
“Oh God!” He flattened his tongue against her and let her set the rhythm, moving up against him with pulses that got tighter and tighter until he felt her whole body tense...and then shatter. He thrust two fingers inside her to feel her come around him, her hot, wet inner muscles contracting on him as she shuddered and shook through a hard orgasm.
“Beautiful,” he murmured, then kissed her belly softly again and again, until she was still, panting for breath, but quieter. He moved up her body to kiss her mouth.
She slid her mouth to his chin, where he was still wet with her juices, and licked him there. Heat flashed through him straight to his cock and he groaned again.
He reached over the side of the bed for his jeans, praying the condom he’d carried around in his wallet forever was still there and still usable. With some scrambling and frustration and cursing he managed to finally find the pocket, then the wallet, then the little packet which he hastily ripped open.
He rolled the condom on while Ally watched with hazy eyes, then moved over her.
“Is this what you wanted?” he asked. If she said no, he didn’t know if he could stop, but he felt he needed to make sure.
“Oh, yes,” she whispered, reaching for him. She closed her hands around his shoulders, and he took his cock in his hand and found her entrance, probing there. He thrust in as far as he could without hurting her, withdrew, pushed in again a little further. “One more,” he murmured. “Almost all in. Okay, Ally?”
When he said her name, he almost had a heart attack. Ally. This was Ally. His body tightened, feeling like his heart was going to explode like a grenade.
She nodded, eyes huge and dark. He thrust one more time, felt her take him right to the root, and stopped, heart pounding heavily in his chest, his lungs feeling shrunken, like he couldn’t get a breath. Balls full and tight, he knew he wasn’t far off. He kissed her mouth.
Her nails dug into his shoulders, then her hands slid down his back to his ass, pulling him closer. “Do it, Jack,” she whispered. He lifted his hips, the slow drag of her flesh pulling on him an agony of pleasure, then her hands on his ass pulled him hard against her, into her, and he pounded into her over and over until his orgasm washed over him like a tsunami, roaring in his ears, blinding him, waves of ecstasy washing over and over him as he pumped in to her, swept him away on a storm of pleasure. “Oh God, oh God,” he muttered through gritted teeth, collapsing onto her, knowing he was heavy but unable to move even a finger at that moment.
Her hands slowly stroked his perspiration-damp back as he fought for breath, heart thumping. He buried his face in her warm neck, sweet and fragrant, unable to speak or form a coherent thought.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 22

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


It's not Thanksgiving for me this weekend and I have to say I'm envious because I have to go to work today and Friday. But it's always good to think about what we're thankful for, and I know I have so much, especially in times like this when so many are struggling. I'm thankful for my day job that pays the bills and lets us do things we like to do. I'm thankful for the generous vacation time I have, and every other Friday off, when I can write. I'm thankful that even though my kids are teenagers they are good kids and make me proud. I'm thankful I have a partner who loves me and who is my best friend and supports me no matter what. I'm thankful for the writing success I've had (even though I want more!) and for the awesome writer friends I've made on-line that make writing so much less lonely.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I read Pleasure and Purpose by Megan Hart, one of my favourite authors. This book is actually three stories and it's very different from other books I've read by her. I enjoyed reading her writing from the male POV, which I'm not sure she has done in any of her other books I've read. I also enjoyed the world she created, though I'm not sure what or where it is! The stories were each beautiful and different, with wounded heroes and handmaidens to help them find solace. Each of the handmaiden has a different background, each suited to the man she is sent to, and in the end the handmaidens find what they need, too. I loved it.

Tonight I start a new book: No Matter What by Erin Nicholson.

And I have so many other wonderful books queued up to read, by some of my favourite authors - Maya Banks, Lacey Alexander and I even get a sneak peek at a new Samhain book that's not even released yet...I just need more time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Win a Kindle!


My Samhain editor, the fabulous Tera, is having a contest at her blog right now. All her authors have chipped in and bought a Kindle which we're giving away loaded up with some great books! To enter, go on over to her blog - leave a comment AND send Tera the answer to the question at the end of the post. Today's my day there, but the more you enter, the more chances to win!

EditorTera's blog

Friday, November 20, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 20


Ally stared back at him, then nodded jerkily.
“I left because of you and Carter,” he said harshly, his tanned cheekbones darkening. “I left because I walked in on you and Carter about to have sex in your dorm room. Because the next day Carter told me you and he were suddenly more than friends. And I couldn’t stand staying and watching the two of you together.”
She gaped at him, her mind whirling. What could he possibly mean by that? She swallowed nervously, licked her dry lips, and stared searchingly into the depths of his eyes.
“We didn’t have sex that night.” God, why did she say that?
“You didn’t?”
She shook her head. “What are you saying, Jack?”
“Too damn much.” He closed his eyes.
Her insides quivered. “Are you saying you were ...jealous?”
Silence. She sucked in a breath. Then ...“Yeah.”
“There’s different kinds of jealous,” she said slowly, felt his fingers tighten on hers.
He gave a low groan. “I was jealous of Carter, Ally. I was starting to have feelings for you, too...I didn’t want to leave you and it was messing me up. Then Carter tells me you two are going out. I could not face that. I just couldn’t. I know it was chicken shit, but I just couldn’t stay around and watch you two together. So I left.”
Ally’s breath caught in her throat and her heart tumbled into a rapid rhythm. “You had feelings for me...like what?”
“Like this.” And he yanked her up against him and kissed her.
She felt the tension vibrating in his body, their clasped hands crushed between them as his hard, hot mouth covered hers. Her head spun and her other hand came up to clutch his big shoulder. She wriggled her hand out of his and wound her arms around his neck and kissed him back, opening her mouth under his, letting his tongue fill her mouth.
Hot liquid settled low in her belly, an empty ache that needed to be filled, and she pressed herself closer. She was still aroused from their earlier kiss.
Her breasts compressed against his hard chest and he slid a hand around to her low back, to rest on the curve of her butt, pulling her into him. She rubbed herself against the hard evidence of his arousal, making him groan.
They broke the kiss and stared at each other with hot, questioning eyes, then Ally closed her eyes and they were kissing again. Jack pressed closer, one big thigh moving between her legs, and she arched into him, head falling back. He kissed her throat, sucked gently, and she trembled with desire and pleasure.
Then he released her and stepped back. He stared at her with wild eyes, chest heaving and she, too, sucked in air.
“I’m sorry,” he said in a raspy voice. He wiped his mouth. “I should not have done that.”
Not again! How could he keep doing this to her, getting her all excited and then pulling the plug. “But you said you had feelings for me...”
“It was five years ago. Things have changed.”
She pressed her fingers to her mouth to stop her swollen lips from trembling, still watching him.
“I just got carried away,” he continued.
“I don’t get it. What’s wrong with us...doing that?”
“It’s Carter.” He paused. “He’s still my friend.”
“I know, but…he doesn’t need to ever know about this.”
“Does that make it okay? Would you have felt that way about him cheating on you? It was okay as long as you didn’t know about it?”
“It’s not the same thing.” She frowned. “It’s not the same thing at all. We’re not cheating on Carter.”
“It’s still a kind of betrayal,” he said, looking like someone was pulling out his fingernails. “It’s how I felt when I found you two together.”
“It’s different,” she insisted.
His eyebrows slanted down, and the corners of his mouth dipped. “How did Carter take it when you broke up?”
Not well. Carter had been furious and it had been ugly. She could never understand why he wanted to stay together when he also apparently wanted to screw every girl he met. But she didn’t want to tell Jack that because it would just prove his point.
“It was a long time ago,” she muttered.
“He could probably handle seeing you with someone else,” Jack continued. “But not with me.”
“I can’t believe you would consider Carter’s feelings over mine.” She just stared at him, blinked a few times, then pulled her hand free of his. She turned and left the room, went up to her room. There, she sank onto the bed. This was getting to be a regular thing, sitting there frustrated, confused, aroused, because of Jack.
She couldn’t get over the idea that Jack had had feelings for her in college. She recalled her own confused emotions at that time, that peculiar longing she’d had and how she’d been so depressed about Jack leaving. Was it because she’d been falling in love with him too?
It wasn’t that crazy. Except he’d disappeared. She stood up and strode determinedly to the door of her room. She was going to tell him that.
Then she leaned her forehead on the door, hand on the knob. Could she handle any more rejection from Jack? This was the second time he’d pulled back. He’d had feelings for her five years ago, but maybe things had changed, like he’d said.
She turned around and paced back to her bed, sat again, her mind whirling with mixed emotions. She still didn’t understand what his misplaced loyalty to Carter was all about. Carter didn’t give a shit who she was with now, she was sure, and probably didn’t care who Jack was with either.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 21

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is this the future of publishing?

The announcement by Harlequin of their new Harlequin Horizons imprint this week sent shock waves throughout the publishing industry that likely registered on the Richter Scale. My initial gut reaction hasn’t changed much after reading a lot of the chat about this in various loops and forums, but I’ve given it some thought, looking to the future.

Apparently Harlequin is not the first publisher to move to an agreement like this with self-publishing companies. As a business decision, I can totally understand why Harlequin would do this. Malle Vallik commented on Smart Bitches that the reason they’ve done this is to offer authors other avenues to get published. Nothing wrong with that. They’re charging a fee, and there may be a market for this service that will make them money. Tons of money (based on the fees on their website). Especially if every author they reject is directed to Horizons.

On the surface, if that’s all it is, I say, fine, let them run their business (buyer beware). I can understand Harlequin authors who are upset by this, although Ms Vallik assured them there will be no association between the two imprints and readers will not confuse Horizons books with traditional Harlequin imprints.

We know the publishing industry is struggling with their outdated and cumbersome business model, especially in this economic climate. The advent of digital publishing has highlighted some of those inefficiencies and change has started to occur. I don’t know enough about the publishing business to be able to suggest solutions to their problems, but I can’t help but wonder if publishers are seeing this kind of venture into vanity publishing as a solution.

In an economic climate that is requiring all businesses to look for efficiencies, this definitely works. Editors/editorial assistants read through piles of queries, rejecting most of them or asking for a few partials to read, then read through piles of partials and reject most of them or ask for a few full manuscripts, read through all of those, passing some up to senior editors but rejecting most of them, then senior editors read them and reject them, with all the back and forth correspondence that happens, or in the case of those they accept, the publishers then spends considerable time editing, designing covers, printing, promoting, etc etc. Harlequin still does all their business by snail mail! That boggles the mind in this day and age! No wonder it takes a year to hear back from them.

In this new model, the author pays for all these costs. It also saves them all the time (and editorial salaries and benefits) of reading through slush piles. They can see which self-published stories do well, and pick those ones up with no risk and little cost.

Malle Vallik also stated: “…if anyone is wondering if this changes anything with Harlequin’s usual editorial processes, the answer is no. We remain committed to reading and acquiring manuscripts from aspiring authors. It’s new voices that set new directions for the future.”

Call me cynical but if I was an editorial assistant or less senior editor at Harlequin, I’d be worried about my job. Looking to the future, I can envision Harlequin reducing editorial staff and picking up fewer books from slush pile submissions, and relying more on the Horizons line to provide their next releases. And it makes me wonder if other publishers will do the same.

Publishers are already reducing editorial staff and are apparently reluctant to take on anything that isn’t “big”. They’re afraid to take risks with new authors, and rumour has it they’re even hesitant to take on proven mid-list authors. This is a way for them to reduce their risk. Let’s face it, every book they decide to publish is a guess. Editors are using their best judgment, but it’s subjective and they’re just guessing. Mistakes are made, and it goes both ways – authors who get huge advances that never get earned out; manuscripts that are rejected and go on to become bestsellers with other publishers; books that you read and say, “how the heck did this get published?” and books with few expectations that go on to sell big numbers. This kind of model would take the guesswork out of it, take the risk out of it, and save publishers a ton of money on one side of the business, while making them money on the other side.

Let’s say one day this becomes the normal new publishing model, where authors who have the money pay get their book published and out there, perhaps connected to a particular publishing house that may or may not decide to offer a contract on that book if it does well. If we’re all playing on that level playing field, I suppose it could work. You would think that the books that are good stories and well-written would in fact rise to the top and sell more – thereby attracting the attention of the publishers. Which in fact is a more accurate way of deciding which books to spend money on publishing and promoting than say, a query letter.

But my goodness, how many sales do vanity-published authors make? My understanding is, the numbers are very low. How do you get your vanity-pubbed book into bookstores to sell, without the backing of a publisher? Most bookstores won’t even consider it. Once again, someone with enough money and knowledge to run a good promotion campaign will come out ahead on this one.

Authors already spend money now to write. I spend money on Internet service, workshops, reference books, membership to various professional associations, my own website and promotion, paper, printer ink, postage. Maybe that extra money will just become another cost of doing business for a writer. I’m not saying I like it, or that it’s right or wrong. Things that have been generally accepted business practices in the past aren’t necessarily the “right” way, and I’m thinking of traditional advances. Most people are now recognizing there are other ways to pay authors.

But in that model, only writers with money would get published. That’s a bit discouraging, isn’t it? What about all the great voices and talents and people with something to say, who may not have that kind of money to spend? What about other artists? Sure, painters have to buy brushes and paints and canvases – do they pay galleries to have exhibitions or sell their work? (I really have no idea, not being that kind of artist). Do musicians pay recording studios to produce their album? (Recognizing that many musicians can now record their own music and put out CD’s and MPs independent of big record labels – kind of like self-publishing, hmm?)

In this kind of model, publishers potentially could make more money from rejecting authors than by actually publishing their books and selling them. That just doesn’t feel right and doesn’t bode well for the quality of the work being put out there. And if that was all there was to choose from – unedited, self-published books - what does that do to the quality of our literary experiences?

If this in fact becomes the new model, how would that affect other stakeholders? What happens to agents? If anyone can pay to have her book published, she doesn’t need an agent. If the publisher decides to offer a contract, the author may need an agent to negotiate terms. Or maybe not. Maybe publishers would move to standard boiler-plate contracts like many digital publisher currently do. In which case, why would anyone need an agent? Or could there be a dual model, where some pursue the vanity publishing avenue and others try to get that contract through an agent as they do now?

What about existing digital publishers? They have built an apparently successful business model based on no large advances and higher royalty percentages. Would they be motivated to move to a similar system, whereby authors pay to be published and associated with their name?

Somehow, in the digital-only world, this doesn’t sound so appealing. Vanity publishers have traditionally focused on print books; if you want to publish a digital book, apparently it’s quite easy these days through various venues (Lulu, Smashwords, even Amazon). So it’s unlikely that digital publishers could make money offering this service. And digital publishers are probably pretty lean already in terms of their business processes. Editors work from home, most of them have “day jobs” as well as their editing work, business is conducted electronically and the publishers aren’t paying for office space, computers, equipment, supplies and the salaries of editors to sit in those offices all day reading the slush pile.

I don't have answers, only a lot of questions, and I don’t know if this is where the publishing industry is going. I have to admit I find it a frightening prospect as both an author and a reader. I think everyone will be watching this venture with great interest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How do you like your coffee?


Today I'm blogging about some of the things I learned about coffee while researching SEXPRESSO NIGHT ( now available from Ellora's Cave) over at Nine Naughty Novelists - come on by!
WHAT I'M READING WEDNESDAY...
I finished The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes. She is one of my favourite authors, but this wasn't my favourite book. Lots of characters and I didn't connect with all of them. It took a while to figure out what was going on - okay it took the whole book, and at the end I felt a little let down. There was one hint (that I caught anyway, maybe others whizzed by me) about it and that wasn't even much. At first, I noticed that the days were going backwards, yet the events weren't. I said that to my husband, and my daughter (aka Miss Smartypants) overheard and said, "It's a countdown". Duh. Of course it's a countdown! Then I got all excited about what we were counting down to. All the characters are moving toward the same one point in time, one day, and I did like the ending for some of them but much of it felt very deus ex machina - I mean, come on? A chunk of ice falling out of the sky? Still, a very entertaining Marian read.
Just started Pleasure and Purpose by Megan Hart, another favourite author!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Release Day! SEXPRESSO NIGHT


My second Ellora's Cave book is out today!


After a disastrous D/s relationship nearly destroyed her, Danya swears she’ll never go back to that lifestyle. She tries to deny the dark hunger rising inside her, a craving to be pushed, taken to the edge, until the night she ends up at Karma Coffee for Sexpresso Night. There she discovers how sensual and sexy coffee can be--and how sensual and sexy barista Carter Jarvis is. Carter senses gorgeous Danya wants to let go of control with a man. When they end up back at his place ‘for coffee’ she submits to him so beautifully he knows she’s meant to be his. Carter seems perfect for her–not wishy-washy, but not a sadistic pervert–until he shows her his BDSM playroom.

As always I'm giving away a copy to one of my newsletter subscribers, so if you're not a member, join up now and leave a comment for a chance to win!

Click to join KellyJamiesonnewsletter

Click to join KellyJamiesonnewsletter




Here's the trailer:

Monday, November 16, 2009

A review for Irish Sex Fairy!



Veiled Secrets Reviews gave Irish Sex Fairy 4 Dragons



“You won't want to miss this book. It's got charm, humor, love and really good sex… a very good story with twists and turns throughout it, amongst the loving.”


http://www.veiledsecretsreviews.com/IrishSexFairy.html

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New website!

So if you're a regular visitor to this blog, you probably noticed the change a week or two back - it matches my new website, which is up and running now, and it's so beautiful! I just want to sit and stare at that splash page. Big thanks to Tina Pavlik at Pysche Designs for all her patient help with my lack of tech knowledge!

www.kellyjamieson.com

Friday, November 13, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 19

Why should she care that Jack had found her scrapbook about him? He was her friend. Wasn’t it natural she’d be interested in and proud of what he was doing? Maybe it was a bit much, which perhaps was the embarrassing part.
“I found this.” He looked up at her, his blue eyes full of questions.
“I hadn’t heard from you.” She could hardly speak through her tight throat. “When I came across something you’d done, I kept it.”
“I see that,” he said slowly, turning another page. “This is basically my whole career in here.”
He looked up at her again, and her glance skittered away from his.
He got up off the floor, unfolding his long legs in their faded denim, the scrapbook in his hands.
“You want to tell me why you collected all this stuff about me?” he asked softly.
Her mouth went dry. “Um...it’s no big deal. I was relieved when I saw your name in Newsday, I started keeping an eye out for more of your work.” She gathered the sides of the ridiculous fluffy robe together over her chest.
“Relieved?” One straight brow eyebrow lifted.
Shit. “Well, yes.” She blew out a long breath. “Yes, okay? Relieved. I thought maybe you were dead.”
He frowned.
“Then when I found out where you were, I was even more worried. It’s so dangerous, Jack,” she told him earnestly. “Every time a journalist or a photographer got injured or killed, I worried about you.” She’d thought about him a lot more than that. Damn it.
If it hadn’t been for that crazy, hot kiss earlier, she’d be fine telling him so much more...about how much she’d missed him, how hurt she’d been that he’d left like that, how she worried about him all the time. She’d tell him how much she’d wanted him there to talk to and comfort her like nobody else ever could when she’d been crushed and betrayed by Carter.
But she couldn’t say all those things, because there was still that arc of tension between them, that edge they were both balancing tenuously on.
“You were worried about me?” he murmured, moving closer to her. She backed up, clutching the robe. Her damp hair dripped water and a drop ran down between her breasts. She was surprised it didn’t sizzle, she felt so hot.
“Well, yes. Of course.”
“That’s nice, Ally. At least I know you cared.”
She swallowed. “You were my friend, Jack.”
His brow lifted again. “I was your friend?”
She frowned and put a hand out to stop him from coming closer. She wanted him closer, so, so much, but she was not going to embarrass herself again. “I mean, you are my friend. Of course, you are. Even though you didn’t contact me the whole time you were gone. I know, I know, you and Carter e-mailed all the time.” Christ, she was babbling like a baby but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. “And even if Carter didn’t bother to tell me about it, and it’s true that you did e-mail him, it doesn’t really matter. The fact is, you never contacted me.” She jabbed a finger into his hard chest. “We were friends, even before you and Carter were friends. You should have e-mailed me. And you should have told me why you left like that so I didn’t have to hear stupid rumors about you.”
His eyes narrowed and he put up a hand to clasp the one she’d poked him with, keeping her from continuing to jab at him. His warm, lean fingers closed around hers and held them between them, pressed against his chest. “What rumors?”
She sighed. Hell. “Carter told me he’d heard a rumor that the reason you’d left in such a hurry was because you’d gotten another girl pregnant.”
“Whaaat!” Jack’s face was comical, his mouth open, eyebrows up near his hairlie .
She nodded, frowning. “I knew it wasn’t true.” She looked up at him through her lashes, practically begging him to deny it categorically even though she’d never believed it.
“Hell, no, of course it’s not true!” He ran his other hand through his thick, sun streaked hair. “Jesus Christ. Who the hell would start that rumor?” He laughed shortly. “I barely even dated in college, and believe me, when I had sex, I used protection. I learned my lesson the goddamn hard way.”
Um. She’d known how much he had dated. After all, they’d been best friends. But she was disturbed to hear him talk about having sex. She frowned. She wanted so badly to ask who he’d had sex with, but that was a stupid question, none of her business and she was probably better off not knowing.
“I know,” she said. “I told Carter that couldn’t be true.”
“He believed it?” Jack asked incredulously.
She shook her head rapidly. “No, no. Of course not.” She bit her lip. “Although he did say it kind of made sense because you’d done that before.”
There was silence for three heartbeats.
“Fuck him!” Jack burst out. His fingers tightened painfully on her hand. “I may have gotten a girl pregnant, but I never abandoned her!”
“I know, I know,” she soothed him, surprised this conversation had gotten him so riled up. She put her other hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “It doesn’t matter, Jack. I knew it wasn’t true, and Carter did too. And I don’t know who would have started such a crazy rumor, but I don’t think anybody else would have believed it either.”
Jack stared down at her, his blue eyes stormy and flashing. “You want to know the real reason I left?”

Extreme Close Up Chapter 20

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A new sale!

Got the contract in the inbox yesterday, so I'm ready to announce it!

I sold another story to Ellora's Cave (my third, yay!). It's called Rigger (okay it's supposed to be The Rigger, but EC doesn't like "the" in the title, which I totally understand).

So, Rigger is a story about a...well, a rigger! For those who don't know, a rigger is someone who ties women up for the aesthetics of it. The art. Alek is a photographer who's into Shibari bondage as an art form, but also, yes as something erotic and sexual. He needs a model to complete the photography book he's doing on Shibari, and asks his best friend Shaela. She completely disapproves of Alek's lifestyle, but when she's tied up and floating away to a different place, she discovers parts of herself she didn't know existed. And when their relationship moves from friends to sex and then to love, Alek learns things about himself he's been trying to hide from too.

First Kiss Excerpt

...it sent fire streaking through her senses.
His fingers tightened on her head then twisted in her hair, and she gasped against his mouth. He drew back and looked down at her searchingly. She held his gaze, her body throbbing against his.
When he tugged again, his gaze focused intently on hers, a barrage of sparks shot from her scalp over her entire body. His eyes, already espresso-dark, went black as he watched her and he groaned. “You like that.”
She didn’t want to answer. It was crazy to enjoy having her scalp tugged on, but pleasure torched her body at the rough touch. He kissed her, tongue sliding into her mouth again and again. She strained against him, up on her toes, and when he sharply drew on her hair again, pulling her head far back, she moaned. His mouth slid over her jaw with a tiny nip, then to her throat and the pulse that beat there, and he gently sucked on her flesh.
Every nerve ending in her body jumped and danced. She ached between her legs, a ferocious hunger she hadn’t felt for a long, long time. Her breasts swelled, her nipples tingled, and when Carter’s other hand slid down to the curve of her ass and brought her up even harder against him, another low noise tore from her throat.

Sexpresso Night
Available November 17, 2009 from Ellora's Cave www.jasminejade.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Apologies!

I'm in the process of getting a new website, professionally designed (the blog is already changed so you can already see how the new website is going to look (beautiful!) However I'm also changing hosts and for a few days my website is unavailable. This HAD to happen right when the Nine Naughty Novelists are starting our scavenger hunt - so I'm sorry to everyone who tries to go to my website and it's not there! You can find the answer to my question here and rest assured if you send in an entry without my question answered, you won't be disqualified.

The timing sucks but I'm going to be so excited to have my pretty new site!

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I finished Strip Search by Shayla Black aka Shelley Bradley. I really enjoyed this story though I did want to give Mark a smack at one point but then every good hero needs a little smack once in a while when he's being a stubborn male!

I had all these great books loaded on my Sony reader and then by chance I happened upon a new release by my FAVOURITE AUTHOR Marian Keyes. So sorry everyone else, she moved to the top of the list with The Brightest Star in the Sky. I've started it and can't quite figure it out, many characters, though I do notice we are moving backward through time...tomorrow is a day off for Remembrance Day and maybe I'll get more reading done! (Should be writing, but...)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nine Naughty Novelists - contest!

Scavenger hunt banner


The Naughty Nine have launched our new blog and to help celebrate we're having a scavenger hunt starting today!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Extreme Close Up Chapter 18


Jack sat there, feeling like a fucking idiot. How could he have done that?
Not minutes after his friend had left, he’d kissed his ex-girlfriend. What a low life scum he was.
He leaned back and covered his face with his hands. Ah, man. He should never have come here. Of course, he’d thought they were still together when he’d arrived. But as soon as he’d found out they weren’t, he shouldn’t have agreed to stay with Ally.
Not only were his feelings for Ally still alive and well...he’d fallen in love with her all over again. With the woman she’d become. Not a pacifist, conflict-avoiding, see-the-best-in-everyone young girl, but a woman – strong, assertive, who could bring out the best in people but who could also see their flaws.
He let out a long groan. Fuck.
He stared up at the ceiling.
He’d leave. Tomorrow. He’d call Carter and see if he could stay with him. It was for the best, despite the tension still simmering between them.
He stood and wandered around the room, until he stopped in front of the book shelves where he’d found Ally’s photo albums. He pulled out another one, this one full of Ally’s family pictures. Photos of her as a little girl coaxed a grin out of him. He slid that one back and pulled out another album, a newer one. Only it wasn’t a photo album, it was a scrapbook. He opened it up, flipped a couple of pages...
Holy shit.
He flipped another page. And another.
“What are you doing?”
He looked up and saw Ally in the door, clutching that fuzzy pink robe at her throat, staring at the album he held.

* * *

Four years earlier

“Carter! Look at this!”
Ally found Carter in the bedroom, tying his silk tie around his neck.
“What?” He frowned. “I’m trying to get ready.”
She thrust the news magazine in front of him, stabbed a finger at a photo credit. “It’s Jack! Jack’s photo!”
This was evidence that he was alive! “He’s in Iraq!” Then, “Oh, my God. He’s in Iraq.”
Carter glanced at the photograph, then back into the mirror. “I guess that’s what he wanted to do.”
Ally sank down onto the bed, the full skirt of her black party dress spreading around her. She studied the photograph. It was a powerful image of a street, deserted and littered with various articles - military-looking debris, a shoe, a child’s toy. The street had clearly been a residential area, the houses now bombed shells. Dramatic lighting and the starkness of the image made her imagine her own street, her own home, looking like that. She shook her head in dismay for the people who lived there. “Wow,” she breathed. “Oh, God, I hope he’s okay.” She glanced through the article. “Carter, why do you think he took off like that? And we’ve never heard from him. It’s been nine months.”
Carter shrugged, adjusted the knot of his tie. “I really don’t know. I did hear rumors, after he left, but I know they weren’t true.”
Ally frowned. “What kind of rumors?”
“Nothing,” he said dismissively. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yes, I’ve been ready for ten minutes,” she told him. “I was waiting for you.”
“No you weren’t. You were still in the bathroom a minute ago.”
She held back a sigh but didn’t bother to contradict him.
“I don’t want to be late for the party,” he added.
“No one gets there right on time. You’re supposed to be fashionably late.”
“Glenn hates tardiness.”
“Glenn hates tardiness,” she mouthed exaggeratedly behind his back. She hated the way Carter sucked up to his boss. She sighed. “He’s not going to fire you or demote you if you’re late.”
He turned to her and smiled. “How do I look?”
“You look very handsome and professional.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
As she followed him down the stairs, she persisted with her question about Jack. “What were the rumors you heard about Jack?”
He gave a heavy sigh. “If you must know, I heard he got another girl pregnant. That’s why he took off.”
Ally gasped. “That can’t be true! He wasn’t even going out with anyone!”
“That you know of.” He held the door for her as they left their home. “I think he was. Don’t know what the big secret was.” He shrugged. “I don’t believe he would take off and leave a girl hanging like that. But then again, it was the second time it happened. He got lucky the first time.”
Ally looked incredulously at Carter. “You think he was lucky?”
“Sure. If Brittany had had that baby, his whole life would have been ruined.”
Ally wasn’t sure if she totally agreed with that. Yeah, Jack’s life would have been different, but eventually she knew he would have done something great, even if he’d had to work for years at the Garden City Sun. It wasn’t worth arguing with Carter, though. You couldn’t win an argument with him.
They arrived at the party at Carter’s boss’s opulent home, and Carter immediately started fawning over Glenn and his gorgeous, much younger wife. Trophy wife. Shame washed over Ally. Glenn Chipman was clearly in love with his wife, Jillian, despite their age difference. She could tell by the way he watched her as she talked, how he touched her possessively. Ally just hated to see Carter being so sycophantic. He was smart and talented, he didn’t need to kiss his boss’s ass like that to get ahead, and he especially did not need to flatter his boss’s wife with those ingratiating compliments that almost made Ally gag. But Carter’s career and this job at a successful, prestigious law firm were so important to him.
Thoughts and questions about Jack distracted her the entire evening, and the next day, when Carter had gone out, she went on the Internet and Googled Jack. She found lots of stuff – he’d been busy! Damn, why hadn’t she thought of doing this sooner?
She clipped the magazine article she’d found the day before and printed some stuff she found online, carefully pasting them into a scrapbook she’d found. Jack may not want to keep in touch with them, but at least she could follow his career and know he was okay. Somehow, though, she knew Carter would think she was crazy, and she kept the scrapbook carefully tucked away with her own books, only working on it when Carter wasn’t around.

* * *

“What are you doing?” Ally asked.
Jack was sitting on the floor in front of her bookcase, long denim-clad legs stretched out in front of him. He glanced up at her words. “I...uh...”
Her cheeks burned as she spied the scrapbook. Oh shit.

Extreme Close Up Chapter 19