Author Showcase, the First Chapter. Peter Driscoll

Today, I have the privilege of showcasing Peter Driscoll and his ancient piece about Doggerland.  Join me in finding a lost tribe when time began.  We follow their struggles and loves as their lives unfold.  You’ll love his writing and story as much as I do.  I promise.



Eight thousand years ago, in the lowlands of Doggerland, tribes war against each other. A lone hunter enters their territory on a ruse. There he sees a beautiful girl. One he wishes to make his own. But going anywhere near her risks death.
The long struggle to gain her trust and love has begun, but that is only the start. What they discover threatens the nefarious schemes of the tribal leader.
Together, they decide to stand against the evil.



And now, for the first chapter


Chapter 1 – The Snow-Covered Hills


My fingers follow the surface of the curved slats of wood and my hands know the moves. I whittle with stone flints just as they did eight thousand years ago, turning branches into tools. They survived in Northern Europe after the end of the ice age when hunter gatherers turned towards agriculture. The sea level lay lower, exposing the lowlands of Doggerland.

Dr. Carl Bolt

Tablets: 54-87, 95, 123-130. Staves, 2, 12, 19.

The previous day had not gone well. Warriors from Kirak’s tribe had tracked him and driven him out of his hunting grounds. Talid had escaped over the pass to the shoulder of the mountain. From there he ascended, hoping to avoid his pursuers, until the cold air chilled him. Near a high copse of pine, a snow-covered slope spread out below.

Two warriors appeared out of the trees and tracked towards him. Snowshoes slowed their progress, but the pursuit proceeded towards its inevitable end. The slow flap, like the feet of large birds waddling, made him smirk for a moment before he calmed his face, to feel the reality of his predicament. They would skewer him like meat on a stick if they caught him.

His legs ached with every step, and his muscles burned, as he shuffled on clumsy pads of woven reeds. Two figures appeared in front of him from behind a rock, but to the left. He angled away from them hurrying his pace to a clumsy half run. Behind him, his pursuers closed the gap with every step.

He focused on the accurate movement of his feet. Snowshoes threatened to trip him up, and the slope became steeper. In haste, he unwrapped a device made of wooden slats from around his waist and tightened the ropes to join the carved pieces into the single solid form of a sled. He had never used it before to escape. Now it was his only hope. A desperate lunge took him over a lip onto a steeper slope as his pursuers closed in.

A warrior readied a spear and hurled it toward his chest as he slammed down hard onto his sled. The weapon sailed past him as he slid away on steep powdery snow. Smooth untouched whiteness spread out before him into the distance, as he picked up speed. The four men, who had been so close to catching him, disappeared behind him.

Far down below the snow line lay green valley, and in the distance, strips of grassland stretched between forests. The wind whipped in his face, blowing his hair back. Top heavy with his pack, the weight pulled him one way and then the other as he fought for balance. His path curved down the slope, snow spraying up.

With a graceless swerving course, he carved S curves down the mountain. His shoulders tightened and he struggled with the guide rope, gaining steerage after what seemed an age. The panic passed as his sled carved to the left angling across the slope. Now with a little more confidence, the thrill of moving fast overtook him and he yelled like a child. How strange to be so near death and then suddenly free, using this simple device, his invention that meant so much to him, yet nothing to anyone else.

As he approached a high stand, a tree blocked his path and he guessed the wrong route around it, to wipe out with a spectacular flight that buried him in a snow drift. Powdery snow engulfed him and he crawled out of it to see a white fluffy land. He flopped back into a loose pile of snow.

The day had turned out better than expected. But he doubted that the warriors would give up so easily. After checking for anything broken he found and repacked the sled. With his snowshoes on, he proceeded into the trees. His path would be easy to follow, but the warriors were far behind, and as long as they followed his trail he had a good idea where they were.

Coming to the other side of the forest, another wide-open space led, with a gradual slope, down into the valley below. He considered his options. Better to head up hill and find a way out of Kirak’s territory. But he wanted the thrill of sliding over the snow again.

He took to sledding. The long run took him deep into the valley to the snow line, where he again packed his sled.

The escarpment off the mountain led him down. Careful steps took him over slabs of rock which might break his trail. Sharp-edged flinty stones threatened to trip him up. Maybe the rocky ground would shake them off his trail. But experienced trackers can follow trails over rocky ground.

He angled across the slope. A rocky bluff stuck out and he headed below it. The air became damp, and a fast-flowing river came into view as the pleasant vista put a spring in his step. The strong flow stood in standing waves that rippled, lines written in unmoving movement.

As he approached, the power of it scared him. How could he cross the water safely? The crossing would break the trail and set him free from his determined trackers. The valley had begun to feel like a trap. The thought of dying on this tree lined slope by the river nibbled at the corners of his mind.

A raft would do the job but that would take time, and time trickled away with every step of the warrior’s feet. He pictured them, tracking him through the snow.

The crossing carried risk. The current could carry him under, and the cold water would suck the heat from his bones. He could head upstream and hide. This option seemed less obvious, and perhaps Kirak’s warriors might believe he had crossed the river when he had not.

From where he stood the path of the river steepened and led to rough country. The rocky bluff that he had seen on the way down made an obstacle, and the water must find a way around. Where the flow swung around the rocky outcrop, there may be impassible cliffs. Obstacles could waste more of his time.

He balked at the decision. Heading up river could lead him back to the warriors, if any had made the direct path down. Heading back up hill would be too slow. How had he come to this dangerous situation?

Up above him a bird squawked and a large flock flew off. He hoped his pursuers were too far away to see it.

Out of options, he chose to build a raft and brave the crossing. The raft needed small trees, the width that would fit between thumbs and fingers. Using a stone axe, he chopped one down. With a hearty swing, he cut into the second tree but the axe broke where the stone blade fitted into the handle and he cursed the goddess of the woods. Time slipped away.

A pair of birds twittered and flittered around each other before landing on a branch. The bright blue colour of one contrasted with the drabness of the other.

Using the blade as a hand axe he attacked the second tree. Each blow rang through his arm, but he ignored the pain. He lifted the axe to see a corner chipped away. His plan headed toward disaster. He pictured warriors tracking him, their inevitable loping run coming closer every moment.

A small lizard crawled toward him and looked up. The fine silver-gray skin glinted in the dull light. It wiggled away with an ungainly gait.

A large wedge-shaped stone with a jagged edge caught his eye, and he touched it up to make a saw stone. Setting the flat base of the stone level, he sawed at the tree, ripping off small pieces of wood. As they accumulated, they stood out, light against the dark soil.

How much time left to complete this stupid raft? Give up now when most of the work had been done? He dismissed a nagging doubt as he cleaned up the branches using his hand axe, and lashed them together using vines.

He imagined footsteps pounding through the forest toward him. Eerie bird calls cut the air.

In panic, he grouped bundles of sticks and bound each one with vine. A bundle flopped loose and he re-tied it. He slammed them on and lashed them to the base. After a final check, he launched the craft, tethering it to the earth by a small vine, pegged to the ground.

He paused listening for any sound. What foolishness had locked him in obsession on this one task? Had the ghost maidens of the forest enchanted him? He could hear nothing. The hairs stood up on the back of his neck.

A tree back up the path had the right thickness of bark to make an oar and he crept back to it, step by quiet step. He tore off a long section.

A pigeon took to the sky, making the distinctive whir, whir sound.

There was no other noise except the trees bending in the wind.

Something was wrong. Without hearing them, he knew they were there.

The crack of a broken stick sounded like a hammer blow, and he ducked, as a spear buried into the tree where he had been a moment before.

Without looking he grabbed the strip of thick bark and sprinted for his raft. Kicking the peg free, he leapt onto it, his momentum carrying it away from the shore. A warrior raced down the hill and hurled his spear. Talid ducked, and the spear sailed into the water beyond him. With fevered strokes, he paddled further out toward the middle of the river, as another spear missed him by a hands width.

The current grabbed the ungainly craft. The flow took him quickly, surprising him with its ferocity. He paddled further out into the middle, struggling for balance.

Rapids appeared in front of him and his fragile raft poured through a narrow opening. He laid down flat, gripping the raft with his arms as it rose and fell. The current took him over a series of standing waves. The water soaked him, the cold shocking. The waves threw him, his knuckles white as he hung on for his life. The river held him in its malevolent grip, as his hands froze in terror. The cold hand of death whispered to him to slip a little further into its embrace, and give in to fear.

He struggled to his knees, but had no time to find his balance as rapid after rapid bounced him around and propelled his fragile craft forward. The river poured through a narrow gap and turned sharply to the right in front of a rock wall. He staggered for balance as the current threw him around, flushing him out into a long line of standing waves. A roaring sound ran through his body, bringing some new level of panic to his terror.

Clear now, the water raced around a long curve, then through a narrow gap and out into a shallow pool. The raging flow disappeared into nothing. Mist obscured his view, and a moment later, the raft fell from beneath him and he sailed through the air over a waterfall.

Smashing down hard, Talid tumbled end over end deep underwater. Releasing the broken raft, he kicked free. His lungs burned. Desperate to breathe, he kicked and pulled, hauling himself upward.

He splashed out onto the surface, and gasped for air. Above him rained the tall waterfall he had flown over and wet rock surrounded a large pool. The roaring of the water rang in his ears.

With his head above the water, he looked for signs of people. Crawling out, he saw a well-used path. It led up, out of the canyon. His wet clothes sucked the warmth from his body.

His raft had been broken up by the fall, smashed to pieces, but his pack floated free and circled in a backwater. He retrieved it. The oiled waterproof backpack had dry furs and he put them on.

Then he packed his gear, strapped it on, and followed the track. A shout rang out from the trees behind him. Hurrying now, the steep climb tested his muscles. The slippery path with rocks and mud made the climb difficult. At the top, he found himself in open grassy land. In the distance, a forest spread out and he made for it at a run.


Hope you’ll join Peter for the rest!  Available on Kindle Unlimited.


There are two sides to any brain, and playing on the other side can stretch the will.
I write books about the spirit of invention and creativity. They are full of passion, for somewhere within my logical heart lies a seething bed of emotion. I want to feel the struggles of people as something on the edge, balancing for a second to be wiped away if they tumble.
These books can be about anything. Anything that is alive and real. Painted Days is about the late stone age, and my next book will be about nature.
I want my books to feel real. About real people live and breathe in their worlds. But they are my worlds and my people. I never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
My books are about time, and how fragile we all are. Mere blips in the long ages that precede us and extend long after we are gone. I wanted to include ideas, but that ain’t easy. Books are about projecting emotion, and maybe logic is not emotions friend. I’ll look at that again someday.



Author Showcase-Sue Seabury- Shear Luck

This week, I’m honored to host Sue Seabury’s first chapter.  I love her writing and her characters.  The humor is top-notch, too.




It’s sheer luck when the Queen of Coiffure books the wrong flight and meets Mr. Mane Attraction.

Kandi is all set to open the hottest hair salon in West Hollywood. The only thing she needs is a teensy bit of cash to cover the rent. Should be no harder than trimming up split ends with all the investors headed to the First Annual Hairstravaganza in Juno Beach, Florida.

One minor hitch: she booked a flight to Juneau, Alaska.

All return flights are booked for the next few days, but Kandi is confident everything will work out. In the meantime, fate has placed a gorgeous man with the most amazing head of hair in her path, perfect for promo photos.

Mario can’t wait to leave weird, smoggy LA behind and return to his true calling: building a community center for his tribe of Tlingit Indians. The last thing he wants is a gal with a turkey on her head. But he can’t leave her stranded on the curb.

While Mario fights to stop his uncle from putting a strip mall on the sacred land and Kandi texts her thumbs down to nubs trying to keep rivals from renting her salon out from under her, their growing attraction proves a distraction neither wants.

Then again, maybe each has exactly what the other needs.



And now to the First Chapter.




Shear Luck
Sue Seabury

Three things that have never failed me in life: the Golden Rule, intuition, and my stainless seven-inch barber shears. Due to some silly airline regulation, I had to put the shears in my checked bag, but I always have the other two at the ready. Good thing the current hair emergency doesn’t require scissors.
The mussed section of the gentleman’s careful comb-over is positively heartbreaking. His cane is jutting out in the aisle as well. In one smooth motion, I reposition the cane and the offending lock of hair. Crisis averted.
“Allow me.” I place his rolling suitcase in the overhead bin for good measure.
“Thank you, erm, miss.” His squint seems mistrustful, although I use the utmost care.
I hope I didn’t insult his manhood. He must be as old as my Grandpa Kimball. It’s only right for the able-bodied to lend a hand. “You’re welcome.”
On the way to my seat, I stow luggage for an over-processed permanent wave, a shaggy mullet, and a bowl cut. Is this flight going to Florida or 1982?
The thanks I received may have been lukewarm, but the universe repays me by placing the most gorgeous hair I have ever seen outside Fresno’s Sixth Annual Wig Convention in my row. A luscious black curtain that falls to his waist. Now that’s what I call serendipity.
Might he be headed to the HairStravaganza too? I never tire of talking shop, but it’ll have to wait until I resolve the more pressing matter of my missing business partner.
No space left in the overhead bin for my own bag after all my good deeds. That’s okay. I’d rather keep my things close at hand. With a conspiratorial wink at my seatmate to initiate the connection, I crane my neck to see around the plodding line of passengers. Still no Candy. Where can she be?
I know the announcement said to turn off all devices, but we’re not moving yet. Anyway, this call is très important.
The stewardess in desperate need of a root touch-up is headed my way again. She probably wants to thank me for helping out, but she seemed a touch hostile toward technology when I tried to make a call while boarding. I duck.
Due to a miscalculation of the distance between myself and Mr. Mane Attraction, I bonk my nose on his shoulder that is apparently made from rocks. Although literally and figuratively on the edge of my seat with my business partner about to miss our flight, I am a professional to the core. With a quick rub to the injured part, I pull out my sweetest the-customer-is-always-right smile. “Sorry.”
He stares at me as if I just told him I enjoy murdering kittens in my spare time. The first person in my twenty-eight years on the planet to be impervious to my charm. No matter. I brought plenty of fashion magazines to study during the flight.
Candy finally answers. We’re hair and name twins. I whisper, “Where are you?”
“Stuck at security. Something about my ionic curlers.”
“Well hurry up already! I’m in seat —” I tilt my head to read the number but that frizzy-haired stewardess is back again. It’s like she has nothing better to do than walk up and down the aisle.
Desperate times. I slip a handful of those tremendous tresses over my face, then separate the strands enough to peek through.
“Twenty-seven B,” is all I have time to say before the stewardess swoops in. She actually crosses her arms and taps her foot like a grammar school principal. Very unprofessional.
“Gottagobye.” I click off but stay concealed in the borrowed hair blind. The scent is exotic, spicy and vaguely savage. Would be sexy if it weren’t for the frown. He’s making the same face as Frizzy even though I’m taking care not to tug. Few people have more respect for hair than I.
Frizzy isn’t doing herself any favors by making that face. Wrinkles already started even though I wouldn’t put her much past thirty. If she doesn’t knock it off and get serious about an age-defying skin care routine, she’s going to have a permanent eleven etched into her forehead. Not a good look on anyone.
The hair blind, while an extremely pleasant place to pass the time, is clearly not working. A few strands stick to my Siren Red ‘Perfect Pout’ lipgloss I wore to prevent dehydration during the flight. A strand gets caught in my mouth triggering my gag reflex, but neither the stewardess nor my seatmate seems interested in helping me. Without a single sign of sympathy over my potentially fatal coughing fit, she extends a hand. Her nails are done in last year’s ‘Checkmate.’
“Hand it over.” Her brassy name tag flashes in the florescent light. ‘Britanni.’
Where was Britanni while I was doing her job loading all those people’s bags into the overhead bins? Not taking care of her hair, that’s for sure. She could use deep conditioning treatment in addition to the touch-up. No wonder she’s in such a foul mood. I wish I had a sample of Tahitian flower oil on me. “What exactly is it you’re looking for?”
She rolls her eyes. Someone just lost a star off her customer satisfaction rating. “Your phone.”
“What’s the number? I’ll dial for you.”
Her eyes bulge. Britanni has quite the repertoire of unattractive expressions.
“The only call I’m going to make is to security if you don’t give me that phone.” She rips the boarding pass from my hand. “And I will, Miz Kane.”
Clearly this woman did her stewardess training in boot camp. As if the condescending announcement of my name isn’t enough of a breach of my confidentiality rights, she actually reaches around my back and yanks my phone away. It’s her fault the man’s hair got pulled. She could have asked nicely. I stand, because being eye to eye is a key component in the art of negotiation.
“Sit down and fasten your seatbelt. We’re about to back out of the gate.”
“But we can’t leave! My business partner isn’t here yet!”
“I’ll be happy to deplane you so you can take the next flight together.” Bootcamp Britanni points at the exit door. I sincerely hope she didn’t pay for that amateurish manicure.
I give it one last shot. “If you let me keep my phone, I’ll bring you a ton of free samples from the haircare conference. They’ll definitely have something to help with your . . . issues.” I use my most professional sensitive tone so as not to offend. “What kind of processing does your stylist use?”
I lean down and pull a freshly-minted business card from my purse that one of the check-in squad had the nerve to call “oversize” although it contains no more than the bare necessities. I pared it down significantly because of the insane airline restrictions. Razors are an essential tool of any haircare professional. How is this not common knowledge?
Not everyone is blessed with a solid education, but since I know a thing or two about customer service, I offer Britanni a winning smile along with one of my pizza-scented Shear Genius cards.
She refuses it. “Sit.”
Now I’m a dog? Minus another star.
There’s no reasoning with a person who treats a customer paying full price like she isn’t even part of the human race. (Full promotional sale price with an extra 10% discount for signing up for the airline credit card, but you can’t fault a gal for being savvy.)
Eyes are on me. Normally I wouldn’t hesitate to promote my salon. But my instincts never fail and today the vibe I’m getting is alarm. These other travelers must know something about Bootcamp B. Both Candy and myself missing the opening day of the Juno Beach HairStravaganza would be a disaster. I sit.
Angel Hair leans against the window. He must be intuitive as well, and sense that I need some space right now.
BB isn’t satisfied. Should’ve known. Now she has her eyes on my purse. I give it a poke with my toe to better stow it under the tiny seat in front of me. It is nice, a genuine imitation Michel Kors in this year’s hottest pea green. I find the best stuff at the Santee Alley flea market. But just because the woman is employed by the airline doesn’t give her license to steal my bag. What is this world coming to? She already has my phone; my purse is non-negotiable.
Turns out the joke’s on her. She can’t lift it, which she makes a big show of. Her theatrics are ridiculous. I had no difficulty carrying it and she’s got a good twenty pounds on me.
“Definitely overweight,” she says.
If we were on friendlier terms, I might offer some tips on how to tone up while slimming down. As our relationship is strained, my heroism extends only to not pointing out that they make a matched set.
“Needs to go below,” she says.
Sympathetic heads ten rows in either direction whip round but they have no effect on heartless Britanni.
“Sit and buckle. You’ll get both of them back when we land.”
She stomps off-kilter down the aisle, my most precious belongings in tow. I’m breathless. My iPhone and I have never been parted since I got it two weeks ago. The case alone set me back over a hundred bucks, but image is important. I designed it myself: a stunning combination of zebra and neon pink rocker hair, with Shear Genius written in raised, jagged script.
I need something to calm myself. First choice is a head to style. With no tools but my bare hands, braiding will have to do. But my own head is out of the question. I spent three hours coiffing it into the perfect ‘do for my grand entrée at the HairStravaganza. Complex, yet elegant. The marcel waves turned out just right, and I used the perfect amount of styling wax to achieve maximum shine without a hint of greasiness on the upturned tail. Spraying the colors to make feathers was a snap, and the single red Betty Boop curl in the front is the crème de la crème, if I may be allowed to toot my own horn, which I’m sure I do rarely enough.
My seatmate’s luscious locks call to me like a Siren. He really likes the view out the window. It is a lovely vista of LA. The smog only adds to its mystique.
“Excuse me,” I say. “This may be an unusual request, but would you mind if . . .” I wiggle my fingers at his hair.
The man’s expression is blank, a considerable improvement over the previous one.
I hate to have to spell it out. First off, I do not want my question to be misinterpreted as flirtation. My salon is the only thing on the radar screen at this time.
Second, it might make me seem odd, like hair is some kind of kinky fetish. But it’s not. It’s my passion, my love. I never put a pair of scissors to a head without first saying a prayer that this will be the best cut I’ve ever done. Like Momma says, humility is a blessing. I know that which is given can also be taken away.
His hair is so long, he probably wouldn’t have noticed if I just started on a section. Too late now. “Would it be all right if I braided your hair?”
The corners of his lips twitch. When he isn’t scowling, he has a not-unattractive face with a straight nose, full lips and eyelashes no women can achieve without assistance. And those exotic cheekbones. Even nicer than I-will-love-you-forever-oh-wait-I-like-my-parents’-moolah-more Sebastián’s. I have to get my hands on that hair.
“It calms me down,” I explain, since he doesn’t reply.
“Do you need calming?” His voice is pleasant, like a QVC presenter’s. He seems genuinely interested in my answer.
“After that . . . woman stole my belongings, yes.”
I’m not sure if that’s a “yes,” but as the plane jerks out of the gate, I take hold of the man’s hair reflexively. “This is my first flight, and my business partner didn’t make it onto the plane, but we’re scheduled to be at the HairStravaganza in a few short hours. Is that where you’re headed?”
Too bad. His hair is so silky. And the smell. What is that spicy bit? Anise, maybe?
I have to find out what products he uses. I won’t rush him, however. I will allow the conversation to flow around naturally to haircare, like it always does.
The plane lurches again; I braid. It occurs to me that he hasn’t, in so many words, given consent. I lean forward to check his face. A pleasant grin communicates the answer. I have people skills, unlike some people who work in customer service but should clearly be in another line of work, like prison guard.
The rhythmic twisting keeps my mind off the stomach-churning liftoff. So much beautiful hair. It lasts the whole ascent.
Although it’s unergonomic to twist in my seat like that, I continue even after the ride smooths out. I know all about the dangers of such things: carpal tunnel, trigger finger, varicose veins. I pay attention and am careful to not overdo. I never wear anything higher than a four-inch heel. For this busy day of travel, my gold gladiator sandals with a modest platform sole were the obvious choice.
I’ve never encountered anything like this man’s hair. I don’t know exactly how much it would be worth to a wig-maker, but I’m guessing a couple thousand at least. I run my fingers through the silky tresses to undo the plaiting so I can start again.
The man clears his throat. I pretend not to hear. It can be rude to call attention to such things, like when a person is coughing. I hate it when people ask me if I’m okay. If I’m not okay, I’ll make the internationally recognized signal for choking. Otherwise, I’m fine and I don’t like people staring at me when my face is red and blotchy.
“Are you done?” he asks. “I feel like one of those doll heads little girls have.”
I scoff. They aren’t “doll heads.” They’re mannequin heads, an essential tool in the haircare learning process. I happen to have three in my checked luggage.
But he’s been generous, so I say politely, “Thank you for allowing me to do your hair. If you don’t mind my asking, what products do you use?”
“What products?” he echoes. “Are we in an infomercial?” His teeth are straight and white, but his smile is mocking.
A pity he’s so unfriendly; he’d make a great advertisement for our website. I stay polite for just that reason. “I meant, in your hair. What types of styling products do you use? Like, wax or mousse?”
He pulls his hair out of my reach. My fingers ache with longing. “None, but if I was going to use anything, I would definitely use moose wax.”
I go through my mental catalogue of haircare. “I’ve never heard of mousse wax. Who makes it?”
I don’t recognize the brand either. I remain silent.
“You know.” His large hands form antlers on his head. “Big, hairy things.”
With a polite nod, I turn back in my seat. Valuable minutes have been wasted when I should have been reading up on the latest hair trends from Tokyo.
I look for my bag, then remember where it is. That stewardess was cruel, inhuman, just like this uncongenial person. Abandoned by Candy, tortured by Britanni and trapped with a teasing man with to-die-for hair. What have I done to deserve this?
Out of desperation, I pluck the in-flight magazine from the seatback pocket. It’s mostly a waste, no real celebrities to critique and the regular people, well, like Momma always says, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I would do the sudoku, except I don’t even have a pen. Thanks again, Brat-anni.
As I try to work it out in my head, Lovely Locks pulls a Sharpie from the breast pocket of his chambray shirt. I almost refuse it on principle, but there’s a crossword, too. I don’t like the way crosswords always try to trick you, but Momma says they’re good mind-sharpeners, and staying sharp is key in the realm of haircare where trends change faster than Lady Gaga’s ensembles. I figure if I don’t go too quickly, the puzzle might last me to the end of the flight.
“Thank you.” Even though I make it clear I’m not interested in reopening the conversation, I always remember my manners.
On second thought, it might be wise to stay friendly with him so he’ll let me braid again during the descent. I’ve heard it’s worse than liftoff.

 Author page



Author Showcase-Joshua Tarquinio-Rogue Mountain

This week showcase is a Supernatural Thriller.  A novel set in my neck of the woods, Pittsburgh. Check out the First Chapter.

The Rogue Mountains by [Tarquinio, Joshua]

The end of times hadn’t been the end of times. It wasn’t even the end of Pittsburgh. But what else to call it? Heaven and Hell and all the other planes had opened up on Earth and the battle was fought. But then it ended, and everything was still here, albeit with more than a few new additions to the taxonomy.

If the end of times had come and gone, had God gone too? The Creative had given no sign, renewing the faith of some, destroying that of others. One question prevailed. Whether or not God was still around, what would be the place of mankind in the order of things?

As this story begins, Del Ballantine, monster hunter, arrives in a small mountain town to help with the infestation. He soon learns it won’t be as easy as the last ten or so places. One mountain is home to a witch. Another mountain, home to a primordial beast only one man ever lived to speak of. That man hadn’t been able to say much before he went insane though.

Ariana, Jeremy, and Reggie make up the house band at the Foothill Hotel and Bar. Though Reggie is content to go with the flow, his band mates are becoming frustrated with their situation. Jeremy, too talented to stay where he is, must care for his nightmare plagued mother. Ariana, who hasn’t yet found herself, finds that the thrills she once easily extracted from her middle-of-nowhere town are beginning to lose their luster.

Along the way, Ballantine meets the curmudgeon taxidermist and his uncommonly attractive wife, the no-nonsense hotel owner and her mute husband, a cocksure world traveler come to try his hand at hunting game from Hell, wood devils, shug monkeys, hunner dyers, hellcats, a ghost, and Jessica among many others.

There’s action and suspense, magic and mayhem, sex and violence, mixed emotions and questionable deeds.

Can the people take their mountains back? And whether or not they succeed, will they find their place?


And now

on to

the First Chapter.



The woods were dead silent. Even Tempest’s hoofbeats were muted in the dewy leaves, like she was tiptoeing. She’d been making these treks for about five years, since Ariana Coleman was 16. The human girl had the small town blues, among other things. Got her kicks from ringing death’s doorbell and running. Tempest was used to it, and if she’d been able to talk, would’ve said she enjoyed the thrill too.

The sun, still behind the mountains, lit the sky enough to see, even in those woods where the leaves had begun to change and fall. Ariana preferred the dull blue glow to the contrast of a sunny day. In those woods, where death took many forms, every stark shadow was a potential threat.

Tempest got that feeling—that innate sense of danger animals get when a predator is near—and she stopped. She stopped and gave a stamp, which she and Ariana decided a long time ago was her way of warning her human.

Ariana stroked Tempest’s mane and asked, “Where is it, girl?” The human held her breath and looked around, first for familiar shapes and then for movement…

Nothing yet.

The girl clicked her tongue which was the signal (they had decided) to proceed with caution and be prepared to turn tail. Reins in the left hand, Ariana slid her right hand over the grip of the Smith and Wesson Model 19 on her hip.

Tempest took a few more steps and stopped again. Ariana’s fingers closed on the handle of her sidearm. An alarm went off in her bones.

Ariana drew her gun as a hunner dyer emerged, shrieking, from under a swath of leaves and dirt. Tempest reared, brandishing her hooves.

Hunner dyers most closely resembled carpenter ants, though they were only slightly smaller than men. They had six legs and their bodies were segmented. Their abdomens were proportionally small, allowing them to walk and stand on their hind legs. Their thoraxes appeared to have human-like ribs on the outside. Patches of coarse hair grew randomly. Their heads contained a loose ring of 24 black eyes, a pair of fangs like a tarantula, a long, retractable middle tooth, and a needly tongue for extracting whatever the tooth exposed.

“Hunner dyer” was not the creature’s proper name. It’s just what everyone called it. Ariana and Tempest had seen and killed a ton of them; shriek, click, bang. This time, however, as Tempest’s hooves came back down, Ariana hesitated. This time she felt different. This time she felt like a bully; like she had just walked into the creature’s home with the express purpose of killing it for no reason. That was exactly as it always had been. Why it bothered her now, she didn’t have time to speculate.

The hunner dyer lunged. Tempest turned and ran without a cue from Ariana. They beat a path back across and down the hill. Though the monster gave chase, it couldn’t keep up with the horse. It was far behind by the time they reached the fence.

Ariana’s nerves balanced on a pinhead as she dismounted and opened the gate. She smiled at the feeling as her hand shook on the gate latch. This was what she came for—the adrenaline rush.

The hunner dyer shrieked again. It had cleared the last hump and was on its way down to torture and kill Ariana and her companion.

The girl threw open the gate and led Tempest through. The monster descended, kicking up leaves and shrieking every few breaths. Its movement was sloppy, as if it didn’t know how to run. It was neither a crawl nor a gallop, but something in between. Its clawed forelimbs waved and reached, only touching the ground when it needed the balance.

Ariana slammed the gate closed as the monster slammed into it, giving the girl a good look at about ten of her own reflections in its onyx black eyes. It ran its tooth through the fence, reaching its limit an inch from Ariana’s throat. The girl flinched and fell backward.

This was an unusual situation for Ariana. Typically, she would have shot the monster when it first appeared and left it deeper in the woods. The fence itself was never meant to hold the creatures of the mountains back, only deter them from the areas where people live. Ariana had never seen what would happen if a monster were given incentive to find a way over or through the fence.

She wished the creature away as it rammed and beat at the fence. She wished for it to get tired and go away. Then she thought she might have to kill it anyway, just to make sure it didn’t come back.

The hunner dyer made her decision easy. It looked up, ran its forelimbs along the top of the fence, then began to crawl up. It got one more shriek out before Ariana blew its head off. The gunshot tapered off through the valley, leaving Ariana and Tempest in dead silence once more.

The adrenaline sat in Ariana’s veins like stale coffee in a day-old pot. She wondered if that would be the end of that thrill—one of the few thrills she had in her podunk, one-horse, middle-of-bumfuck-nowhere town.

She opened the gate again and tied a rope from Tempest’s saddle to the carcass. Couldn’t leave chum by the gate. Girl mounted horse and they dragged the dead bug into the woods before heading home.


Away from the scant foothills, an old refrigerator truck puttered up to an old picket fence around an old farmhouse. The truck door slid open and Reggie Adams slid out, drumming a pencil on his clipboard. His curly black hair billowed and bounced as he bobbed to the song in his head. He popped open the side door, hopped in for a moment, and then dropped back out with a small package wrapped in butcher’s paper.

Rick Jenkins greeted Reggie at the door. Rick was one of the old timers. Been living in Brothers since before the whole Pittsburgh thing, before that mess made its way to the country. That was always the way though, Rick knew—everything starts in the cities and works its way out, whether countryfolk like it or not. Though neither Rick, nor anyone else for that matter, expected what they got. He thought the changing times would’ve meant dealing with kids and their long hair and devil music. Instead he had an infestation. It put things in perspective. With monster-infested mountains a stone’s throw away, Reggie’s hair was less of an affront to Rick than it could have been.

“Morning, Rick,” Reggie said with a smile.

“Reggie,” Rick nodded. “I don’t know how you’re so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after playing music all night.”

“I got a little nap. I’ll get the rest when my route is over. I’m used to it.” He handed the package over saying, “Five pounds of ground wood devil, right?”

“Sounds about right to me.”

“Solid. Just sign right here for me.”

Rick signed and handed the clipboard and pencil back to Reggie. “You know,” asked the elder, “I always wondered. How often you attract any them creatures, driving a meat bus around like that?”

Sometimes Reggie wondered that himself. That truck was on its last leg. He, nevertheless, responded as he always did—with confidence and good humor. “Ah! Well… Difficult as it may be to ascertain by the humble exterior of this fine machine, the refrigerator contained within not only keeps the fare fresh, but well sealed. And if all else fails, the exhaust fumes will repel just about anything.” Reggie patted his sidearm and said, “I’ve never even had to draw this thing.”

“Say, that’s pretty—watch out!” Rick pushed Reggie to one side and drew his own gun. He took aim at a hellcat that was sprinting toward them. Reggie covered his ears and watched. The gun wobbled in Rick’s hand. He was getting older, but not too old. And it certainly wasn’t the first time he’d had to deal with a hellcat.

The creatures looked like bobcats, but bigger and mangier. Their eyes glowed and flickered with hellfire whether at night or on a bright sunny day. They made no noise as they ran, creating a sensory dissonance in anyone unfortunate enough to see one bearing down on them.

Rick’s shot rang out and dropped the hellcat 20 feet from the porch. The old timer kept his eyes on the beast as he holstered his weapon. When he was satisfied it wasn’t going to get back up, he turned to Reggie and said, “Never had to draw, huh?”

“That’s right,” Reggie said with a smile and gesture at Rick’s gun. “Plus, most people around these parts don’t like to stand around talking with raw meat in their hands. Did you want me to take that?” He pointed at the hellcat.

“Please,” said Rick.

Reggie flipped the pages on his clipboard to start on a new form. “And do you want to sell it, have it processed, get it mounted?”

“I’ll take five pounds of it. Ground is fine. Make it easy.”

“You sure? The tenderloin on these is almost as good as beef. Just smaller. You can do like little filet mignon medallions. Little butter, little garlic… mmmm, mm!”

“Heh, all right then. I’ll take five pounds ground and a tenderloin. Sell you the rest.”

“Excellent choice, sir!” Reggie said, filling out the order. “Excellent choice, indeed. Here is your receipt. And I’ll bring you the difference on delivery. Sound good?”

“That’ll be fine, Reggie. Thanks.”

“Cool, cool.”

Rick helped Reggie load the carcass into the truck. Once it was closed, Reggie took a spray bottle and spritzed a few blood streaks left on the exterior. He said to Rick, “A little bit of bleach helps keep the monsters away too.”

The truck fought itself awake and backfired its displeasure. Reggie waved to Rick and pulled away. He only had a few more stops before he could head home and sleep.

When the truck had gone, Rick looked to the three mountains in the distance. The overcast sky reached down wisps to stroke them. The mountains used to be beautiful. They used to beckon. Back in the day, Rick’s chief motivation was to give himself as much time as possible to hike or hunt those mountains. They used to be havens for such things. Now they loomed, foreboded, and forbade. They were home to escapees of what everyone thought was the all-time final battle. They were gargoyles, demonic sentinels.

Rick realized he hadn’t looked behind himself lately. He wheeled with a hand on his gun.


A couple of farmhands rode tractors in the field behind the house.


Jeremy Crawford was jarred awake by one of his mother’s nervous tics. He took a deep breath and looked at the clock: 2:30pm. Pretty close to four hours of unbroken sleep. He’d take it. Despite it being upright in a chair, it was a deep and solid sleep. He felt rested and tongued the film out of the corners of his mouth.

Connie, Jeremy’s mother, twitched and chuffed in her bed in a dream state akin to the line between Purgatory and Hell. Whenever Jeremy left the room, the nightmare would return and push Connie’s dreams into torture.

The young man took another deep breath, then moved to the edge of the bed. He took Connie’s hand and said, “Mom. Mom,” startling her awake. Or maybe only half awake. Maybe Connie only feigned half awakeness so as not to have to think or talk or burden Jeremy or herself too much.

“Mom, come on. You should get up and move around a little bit. Get some food.”

Connie stared. Afterimages of her nightmares played on the ceiling; visions of gory death, torture, and loss burned into her memories. Like so many times before, Connie wondered how much more she could take. She didn’t know how she had made it as long as she did.

Jeremy gave her hand a tug and helped her sit up. She shambled to the kitchen while Jeremy went to the bathroom to relieve himself and get a shower.

There wasn’t much in the fridge. There hadn’t been since the nightmare, since the role of caretaker flipped at the Crawford house. Fortunately, Connie and Jeremy were friends with Kelly Karasek, the owner of the nearby Foothill Hotel and Bar. Kelly usually made sure to send some food home with Jeremy at the end of the night.

Connie slouched at the table, thousand-yard stare, turkey club between her hands. With no saliva to help, she chewed her first bite for a few minutes. She heard the water running in the shower—a sign of life in a house, formerly a home, being eaten by time before her eyes. She remembered the day she put up the now-peeling wallpaper with her husband, James. She remembered how they bickered over it. She remembered how he let her have her way and how he said it didn’t look half bad after it was up. She remembered the squeeze and smile he gave her. Then she cried, because she knew the nightmare would ruin that for her next. But as much as it hurt to sleep, it hurt even more to be awake.

Jeremy had barely rinsed the shampoo out of his hair when he heard Connie screaming. He sighed and shut the water off. He pulled on a bathrobe and walked out, cleaning the fog from his glasses with his sleeve. “Twenty minutes!” he said. “Was all I needed.”

Rounding the corner into the kitchen he saw Connie curled up on the floor next to the table, the sandwich a few feet away from her, and the nightmare. The gremlin-like creature sat on Connie and looked up at Jeremy. It was furry, with a pair of short round canines poking out over its lower lip. It turned its bulbous eyes to Jeremy with the ignorance of a house cat as Connie screamed and trembled beneath it.

“Go on!” Jeremy shooed. “Get outta here!”

When it didn’t move, Jeremy stomped toward it. It vanished.

Jeremy cleaned up the sandwich while Connie calmed down. He put the sandwich back in the container and the container back in the fridge. Then he wiped the mayonnaise off the floor with a dish towel and balled it up on the counter.

He woke up Connie again.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah I know,” he said, helping her to her feet. “Listen, I gotta get some clothes on. You think you can stay standing here for five minutes? Or even better, walk around a bit?”

Connie’s eyes were closed but she nodded and got out a weak “y-yes” as she held the doorway for support.

She didn’t walk around, but she did manage to stay standing and awake until Jeremy returned. He helped her to the bed, where she fell right back to sleep and right back into the dream state that wasn’t quite Hell and wasn’t quite Purgatory.

Jeremy set up a stool and began to quietly write and practice music with his guitar.

This was the majority of Jeremy’s daily routine.


Contact info:

IG: @the_rogue_mountains

I hope you enjoyed it as much as me!

Romance Showcase: Teddy Hester- The First Chapter

Bunny Bottom 1600x2450

Today, I have something very original for you.  Bunny, A Bow-Wow Bistro Series Novella by Teddy Cat Hester.  A new release and you get the first peek.   There are four novellas in this series.  I counted 93 pages in the debut book.  The other three are also available now! First off, I have to say that this novella is the best-formatted book…ever.  You have to pick it up just to see the original way she did her the interior.  Seriously!  There’s this paw and the pad is a little heart and inside the heart is the chapter numbers.  It is the cutest thing.

The Blurb:

At twenty-five, Bunny Cloverfield has had it with boyish men who spend more time playing games than attending to her and her two Cavalier spaniels. She’s serious about her computer-consulting career and her dogs, and she’s looking for similar dedication in a potential mate.

Thirty-year-old Maxwell Sheridan is too focused on managing his venture capital business to invest in serious relationships, much less ones that come with dog fuzz and slobbery kisses. In the little free time he allows himself, he plays backgammon for charity fund-raisers.

When their paths cross in this romantic comedy, fur and sparks fly.

Can a dog-loving computer consultant escape past mistakes and let herself love a seriously sexy, pet-immune gamer?


I’m excited.  Everyone loves a good story with dogs in it- me included.  What is it about those adorable little creatures we love so much?  


Now, for Teddy’s First Chapter.


1Every morning’s a cuddle fest with two tricolor King Charles Cavalier Spaniels. This morning I’m the filling in their sleep sandwich, two furry beasties snuggled tight against either side of my torso. In the nightly battle for the bed, even my ex, Duncan, hadn’t stood a chance. Not that it mattered. Night was almost day before he’d finish playing whatever game held his attention. Most mornings we’d find him curled up on the couch, draped in my Snuggie. Turns out pink was a good color for him. Too bad our relationship wasn’t as good a fit.
With a big sigh, I sit up. It’s the mops’ cue the day is about to begin. They leap from the bed and dash out the bedroom door. I’m slower to follow, taking time to shower and groom before joining them.
A familiar sight in the living room greets me and puts a smile on my face. Two little furry bottoms sway back and forth, bushy tails wagging. Flopsy and Mopsy stand at the picture window of our ground-floor apartment, front paws braced on the sill, noses pressed against the glass, entranced.
I flop down in the cozy chair I keep near the window for my own animal-watching, preferably the two-legged, muscled kind without shirts. I’ve gone almost all winter without sighting one of those . . . much less touching one since my break-up . . .
It’s full-on spring here in the heartland. The precious dark eyes of my pups follow the flight of birds swooping through the yard, sunlight dappling the grass. Colorful tulip beds and lilac bushes dot the space between my building and the residential neighborhood. Fat, lazy bees float around the wisteria arbor at the edge of our patio and beautiful ornamental pear trees in full bloom. A glorious time of year.
Here’s the problem—
My name is Bunny Cloverfield.
I dread spring. Well, commercialized Easter, mostly. With a name like mine, can you blame me?
What kind of mother gives her child a name ready-made for ridicule?
My mother.
She said she just couldn’t resist. With the last name Cloverfield, I guess it was to be expected. After all, a cute little bundle of pink skin, blue eyes, and a halo of apricot hair is just begging for it, right?
Once I get past Easter, though, I’m okay with spring, except for the sappy spring fever that seems to hit everybody. My two wiggly little dogs are freaky over spring. Can’t wait to roll around in it with their canine pals.
Flopsy jumps down from the window seat and fetches her leash.
“Ready to go outside, sweetie?” Her tail wags her whole body, and her eyes sparkle like obsidian in the sun.
Mopsy’s jumped down and splayed himself flat on the floor, going for broke.
Hands on my hips, I stare down at him. “Really. Pulling out the big guns?”
His tail whips back and forth.
What he doesn’t know is I’m prepared to stay inside with my head under the covers until all evidence of Easter is done and gone. If my solitude lasts past the usual spring fever evidenced by lovers and their goo-goo eyes, that’ll be okay, too.
Chin between two fuzzy paws, Mopsy’s soulful brown eyes gaze up beseechingly.
He holds his pose.
I throw my hands up in the air. “Gah! You win.”
Canine Country Club and Bow-Wow Bistro, here we come!
Fit young maleThe main Canine Country Club building serves dogs and their owners, offering human bathroom facilities, a gift shop, and membership sign-in for access to the extensive grounds. The main building is large enough to contain a doggie spa where pampered pets are groomed and can even receive massages and acupuncture treatments.
Out of the north end of the main building, the Bow-Wow Bistro offers healthy, organic meals and treats for guests from a pass-through window. Heavy metal tables with attached benches are scattered over the concrete patio area covered with a permanent awning to keep out the sun and rain. Occasionally, as today, the Country Club hosts events to raise money for charity and operating expenses.
When I knew I was going to have to face pre-Easter spring in public, I called my posse. The Bowsers are my three BFFs who also own a pair of dogs each. We regularly congregate at the Bistro to chat and let our pups socialize. If the dog park weren’t owned by one of us, none of us would be able to afford it.
“Well! Isn’t the Bow-Wow Bistro a beehive of beautiful bitches today!” my friend Scarlett says, guiding her pair of Greater Swiss Mountain dogs to our table on the concrete patio. The male, who weighs more than his owner, plops his massive head on the tabletop while his mama bends down to sort out the leads. “Damn, my hair’s all tangled in my leashes! Can you help me here?”
Portia, the owner of the facilities, chuckles. I tug Scarlett’s long red hair up and out of the way, then go back to my seat. When the Swissies are tied up, Portia rubs the glossy spot between one dog’s brows. “He’s ready for lunch, I see. And how are you, girl?” she asks the female who’s sticking close to mama. “Feeling kind of shy today?”
After a beat, Portia squats next to her, not touching or looking at her, letting the dog socialize in her own good time. When the Swissy finally leans in to scent Portia, they rub cheeks. “Good girl.”
“Oh, yeah, they know the drill,” short, curvy Megan chimes in as she maneuvers her shambling pair of yellow labs to the metal loops on the back of the bench seat. They flash their signature doggie smiles around the group, panting their pleasure at the familiar outing.
One of my Cavaliers sounds a greeting, and I intervene. “Psst! Hey, Flopsy. No barking in public.”
Adoring black eyes stare up at me, fluffy tail wagging energetically. Mopsy roams over to sit with the big boys. I start to pull him back, but Scarlett stops me.
“Oh, let him live his dream, Bunny. He thinks he’s a Swissy who’ll catch up someday.” She unclips Mopsy’s leash from my seat and fastens it instead next to her Swissies. She gives him an affectionate pat, careful to dodge his sloppy thanks.
“That dog sure gives good tongue,” Scarlett observes. “A few of the men I’ve dated lately could take lessons.” She bends down and rubs the sides of his face between her hands.
Aww. Mopsy’s such a sweet thing. My heart flips over in a chest suddenly too tight, like it never has for a man. He runs in and out between the legs of the bigger dogs, oblivious to the fact that he’s a fuzzy house slipper to their steel-toed work boots. He’s also prey to hunters. Which reminds me . . . “Where are your racers?”
Portia’s finely manicured finger points to the dog run at the far side of the Club grounds. Two Italian greyhounds look more like prima ballerinas in pale gray leotards. They grand jeté around the dirt oval, chasing a furry toy on a mechanical arm. “They’ve been whimpering all morning, so I sent them out to work off some energy before lunch.”
“Golly, they’re beautiful.” Megan straightens from securing the labs and stretches, taking in a gulp of fresh air.
Golly? Only a woman surrounded by children all day could get away with saying something like that.
“I just love spring!” she gushes.
Sure. Your name’s Megan Pennybaker. If your mama had named you Marvelous Marigold Medley, I bet you’d be trillin’ a different tune.
While she’s busy channeling her preschool-teacher enthusiasm, I’m eyeballing a shirtless guy out in the fenced-in park. A well-defined arm raises, drawing attention to muscled shoulders and broad back as he flings a brightly colored Frisbee. The spinning disk sails through the air, and an eager pooch springs up to catch it. The lure of neon blue bicycle shorts hanging low on slim hips and hugging every bulging asset brings out my inner pooch panting and eager to spring into action—Frisbee optional.
“Yeah, great, beautiful,” I mumble, standing stock-still beside her, mesmerized by visions of homo erectus. Spring does have a couple of advantages, I guess.
Megan clears her throat, and I glance over at her. She’s stroking her male lab and drinking in Frisbee Guy. Two red patches on her cheeks look like somebody rubbed them with sandpaper. Her dog yelps. Hmm. Mama dig her fingers too deep into your neck, there, boy?
Max isHoly cow. Here we go. Spring fever sure is a potent freakin’ bug.
I turn back to the peep show in the park. What is it about men in their prime, exercising and having fun? Wide smiles? Faint sheen of sweat? Trails of body hair highlighting virility? Rumbling chuckles?
Strong hands rub furry ears, reminding me of how it feels to have strong hands on my—never mind.
Portia glides up behind me and follows my gaze. “All those rippling muscles. It’s like we’re voyeurs at an outdoor tanning booth.”
Scarlett’s attention is snagged, too, judging from her deep sigh. “Nothing better than a dog and his man.” She nudges me with her shoulder. “You about ready to get back into that scene, Bun? Maybe take home one of your own?”
And there it is. The video of stripped-down Frisbee Guy in the park cueing up on my internal monitor sputters to a halt. I roll my eyes. Bunny Cloverfield is immune to spring fever when it involves guys playing a game. Unless he’s a serious guy, ready for adult responsibilities over games-playing, Megan can have him. “Sure, Scar, Frisbee sounds fun. I’ll pick one up.”
“Honestly, Ms. Grouch, if you’re thinking to pick anything up, why not make it that hottie out there?” She jerks her chin at Frisbee Guy who chooses this moment to drop on the ground and rough-house with his pittie. It’s a toss-up as to who’s the better-built male. Flopsy whines. She’s made her choice. When she looks up at me, I swear her dark eyes beg.
I drop to my knees and fiddle with the curly black silk of her ear. “Oh, Sweetie, you’d be dessert for that fella. He’d scoop you up in one bite. And we couldn’t have that, could we?”
Wag, wag. Swish, swish.
My hands fit perfectly around her little face, and our noses nearly touch. Baby-talk dribbles out of my mouth. “No, we couldn’t have that, nope, nuh-uh, that’s right, no pittie party for you, sweet girl. Not my good little girl.”
By the time I’m finished, my register is higher than a 10-year-old boy singing soprano, and Flopsy’s tongue is flailing to rain kisses on anything that gets in its path.
Scarlett’s silence warns me. My gaze flicks up to where she stands staring at me with a smirk on her face. For a second, it seems like her head is on fire, the cranberry and neon orange streaks in her hair glowing in the afternoon sun.
“What?” I ask.
“How many dates have you had in the last month?”
Flopsy cocks her head at me as if she’s interested in hearing the answer to that question, too.
“With the upsurge in muggings these days? It’s too dangerous to date,” I say with a sniff for emphasis.
Suddenly I have an audience. Not only is Scarlett gazing dramatically down on me, Portia is back from fetching her racers and takes the bench closest to where I’m kneeling with Flopsy. Megan rouses out of her intoxication with spring’s bounty to turn around on her bench and face us. The female lab pops her head up with a doggie-vocal slide that sounds like a question.
The male Swissy raises his head to scope the scene. Oblivious to the tension around him, he dismisses us all with a jaw-cracking yawn before rolling over for a nap.
His nonchalance makes me want to giggle, but I figure that’s probably not the best way to handle this situation.
Geez, could things get any more uncomfortable?
“So, okay, it’s not about the increase in crime. You know this is the time of year I hibernate.”
Scarlett rolls her eyes. “No, Bun, this is the time of year animals wake up and find themselves a mate.”
“Richard Bach says ‘Our soulmates are the ones who bring life to life.’ Don’t you want a soulmate, Bun?” Megan asks, studying me.
Do I? Holding hands, wandering through a gallery, riding bicycles, cuddling through a movie? Sure, it would be nice, I guess. With the right guy. No, with a man. I’m tired of man-boys in backward baseball caps and video game equipment littering the living room.
Out of nowhere, I’m clocked on the back of the head.
“Ow! Hey!” I complain, rubbing the collision site. I turn to share what’s left of my mind with Frisbee Guy.
“Sorry. I didn’t see you down there,” says a man whose must have been excavated from the Mariana Trench. I scope him from head to toe and back.
I don’t know who he is, but he isn’t Megan’s Frisbee Guy.
Tingles radiate from the bump on my head, down the rest of my body in a shivering wave that almost knocks me over. It electrifies Flopsy, too. She sidles his direction with an enticing wiggle.
“I guess that suitcase you lugged to the dog park blocked your line of sight.”
He holds up the offending parcel. “You mean my backgammon case?”
Oh, that voice. If he doesn’t stop giving me chills with it, I’m going to need a sweater.
“Is that what it is? Felt like it’s filled with rocks.”
He gives me a stiff half-smile as he deposits his gear at the table next to ours and sets up for a game. He’s not model gorgeous, more substantial looking than handsome. Medium brown hair, cut businessman short. Fit body of a thirty-year-old, built like a mountain, his face its rugged surface.
“No rocks, just little round checkers.” He holds one up. “We’ll try to stay on this side of the aisle. I’m Max Sheridan, by the way. Aren’t you ladies playing in the tournament today?”
He’s into games? Oh, goody, just what I need, another gamer. “No, oddly, we brought our dogs to the dog park. Didn’t you bring yours?” I counter.
He eyes Flopsy and her antics to attract his attention. “I don’t have any pets. Sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
Strike two, Mr. Basso Profundo. Telling you my name would be a waste of breath.
“She’s Bunny Cloverfield, and I’m Megan Pennybaker,” our exuberant preschool teacher chimes. “This is Scarlett Peacock, and that’s Portia Goldstone.” They wave on cue, and he nods back.
He turns to me, a twinkle in his eyes. “Nice to meet you, Bunny Cloverfield.”
It’ll be stee-rike three if you make one comment about my name.
“And who’s this delightful flirt?” he rumbles down at Flopsy. She rolls over and presents her belly for a friendly rub. For a split second, I have the impulse to follow suit.
That’s spring for you.
All sorts of muggers on the loose.
Bunny season.Teaser 1(2)

Follow Teddy Hester

Short-n-Sweet Romantic Comedy. Debut novella, first in the Bow-Wow Bistro series of four standalone novellas.

Author Page:  Teddy Cat Hester





The First Chapter Showcase, PE Kavanagh

This week, I have the very talented PE Kavanagh.  She had two new novels out last just week for your reading pleasure.  I’m sure you’ll love her as much as I do.

She needs security.
He seeks redemption. 

The façade of Lola’s carefully-crafted life begins to crumble the moment the sexy stranger walks into her neighborhood coffee shop. Aidan is smart, stunning, and impossible to refuse.
She isn’t looking for love and he’s too good to be true.
Ominous dreams and looming suspicions keep guiding her to stop. But she doesn’t.
Until the deception that brought them together becomes the danger that tears them apart.
Born in betrayal and threatened by revenge, their future demands they find the courage for bare, brutal honesty. 
It comes at an impossibly high price…



Sex, Money, and the Price of Truth
PE Kavanagh

1. The Great Escape

The door to Galaxy Bar & Grill flung open and nearly smacked Aidan Connelly in the face. He stumbled back as a blur of honey hair rushed past him and continued down the sidewalk. The air around her shimmered as if she were on fire, magnified by a pace that screamed hot rage. He stared, transfixed, as a sea of blue suits parted to let her pass.
Everything about her stood out, like an exotic bird among pigeons. He hadn’t seen her face but the view from the back – the flutter of a summer dress, sun-kissed skin, legs until tomorrow – left him gaping until she disappeared into the crowd. That was not the kind of woman he had ever expected to come out of that kind of place.
He reached for the discolored door handle, pausing in case some other pissed-off patron decided to burst out. The smell hit him as soon as he stepped inside, like getting slapped with a beer-soaked towel. When the door slammed shut behind him, the bright light of the afternoon and the golden veneer of Wall Street gave way to the dark gloom of neglect.
Galaxy wasn’t just a seedy bar, it was an alternate universe, home to a couple of day-drinkers and a grime-covered collection of fake planets and black-light posters. This time of day, the other bars in the neighborhood would be booming with bankers and tourists, while this place echoed with a dusty emptiness. Maybe Mack had chosen it for that very reason.
Aidan could turn around and disappear into the bustling city streets, skipping the pointless conversation. Why had he come, anyway? He had no obligation to sit through another tirade about getting revenge on some woman. What a waste of time.
Before his good sense pulled him back out the door, he caught sight of Mack’s blond hair, slicked back into an immovable mass that reminded him of the yellow ceramic bowls of his childhood. It wasn’t even 5pm on a Tuesday and Mack was already drunk, as evidenced by the jerk and sway of his head.
Morbid curiosity overtook Aidan’s pervasive apathy and growing disgust, and he took a seat at the bar. Everything about this place – the filthy glasses, the cloying darkness, the man sitting next to him – added to the revulsion. He closed his eyes, longing to replace the sights and sounds around him with the image of honey and heat.
Mack’s slurred, nearly incomprehensible rants began without greeting or introduction. “You gotta do this for me, man.”
As expected, that idiot’s begging for help. “Listen, I know this woman messed with you. That’s women, you know? But you can’t get all twisted about it. Don’t let it make you crazy.”
Mack tossed back a shot of tequila, leaving three empty glasses on the bar. “That’s not the point, man. She’s evil. Came all the way down here to tell me to fuck off. Like she’s so much better than me.”
That must have been her.
Aidan swallowed and turned to the drunk man in disbelief. Mack had seemed cool enough when they met at work a few weeks prior. Aidan’s bullshit bank, like so many others, had gotten caught with its pants down and Mack’s fancy law firm had come in to clean up the mess. The two men were in their early thirties, living large in New York City, indistinguishable from every other hotshot in the cesspool of the young and powerful. All part of the unholy bond of lawyers and bankers that kept the madness alive.
“Either way, it’s best to move on. You’re young and rich in a city full of hot women. Just pick another one and get on with it. Why waste your time trying to get her back?” Besides, anyone who’d go out with that schmuck had to be either a saint or a lunatic, neither worth keeping around.
Mack lifted his finger to catch the attention of the bartender before bringing his hand back down onto the grimy bar with a thud. “I’m not trying to get her back, Connelly. I’m trying to get back at her.”
Aidan had realized that something wasn’t right with Mack within their first few encounters. It didn’t matter if he was insane or on drugs or if it was something else; he’d taken the lunacy to a whole new level. But in comparison, Aidan’s life didn’t look so bad. Maybe that’s why he stuck around.
“I get it. But shit like that never ends up how you want it to.” Trust me, I know.
Mack slid his lips apart in a move that might have been a smile on another face. “All I’m asking is that you mess with her. Should be easy for someone like you.”
Aidan clenched his fist, wanting desperately to hurl it against Mack’s face. “You don’t know anything about me. And I don’t want to get involved.”
Mack tilted forward, closing the space between them. Stale booze seeped through his pores. “I can pay you. You just left the bank, right? Maybe you could use a little cash.”
Aidan’s stomach lurched. Right there was the problem. Everything had a price in this world he had helped to create. It was all about taking and owning, possessing and controlling. Nothing was out of reach. Not someone’s belongings, their time, their body, their soul. “I don’t need any cash, thanks.”
“Come on, Connelly. It’s easy money.”
All money was easy. Aidan could buy and sell that douche bag a few times over. “I don’t need your money. And I’m not interested in messing with some woman I don’t even know.”
Mack lifted the newly arrived tequila shot to his lips, paused, then arced it into his mouth. He swallowed without a flinch, then slammed the glass on the bar loud enough to get the attention of two men across the room. “That bitch needs to learn a lesson. You wouldn’t believe the shit she’s pulling. Shoulda heard what she just said said to me.”
“Sorry you got screwed. But I can’t help you.” Aidan pushed himself off the barstool, retrieved his wallet out of his back pocket, and dropped cash next to his glass. Only in Manhattan could a few spoonfuls of warm gin set you back twenty bucks. This city had made him jaded. Turned him into a different person. It was time to get out. This bar, this city, this life. He took two steps toward the door.
“Not even as a favor for a friend?”
We’re not friends. “No can do.”
Mack stood up, stumbled, and fell back onto his seat. “You’re going to regret this, Connelly!”
Aidan snickered as he continued out of the bar. One more regret wasn’t going to make a damn bit of difference in the mountain of remorse his life had become.


The sun accompanied Aidan nearly the whole walk to midtown, dipping behind the skyscrapers and into the Hudson River as he entered the lobby of his building. The elevator doors opened directly into his loft and to a spectacular view of the Empire State Building, a daily reminder why he had chosen to live far from the financial district.
Getting out from under all those soul-less financial towers helped him stand up straighter. Even the neighborhood was more peaceful. Not that he interacted with his neighbors much, but the occasional sighting of an artist or family made him feel less like an alien in a sea of clones.
He stood in front of the window, watching the buildings change from gold to grey in the fading daylight. This was a much better view than that repulsive bar. Going to Galaxy had been a mistake. There was no talking sense into Mack, hell-bent on revenge, as if he was the only guy to ever get dumped. Hopefully, he’d straighten out before doing something really stupid.
Aidan shook off the uneasy feeling around Mack’s threats to him and that woman, and grabbed a beer before heading into the spare bedroom. The sight of the stack of boxes against the far wall, a reminder of his upcoming departure, brought relief. Two more weeks and all this hell would be in his rearview mirror. He could turn his back on the mess he’d made, as well as the one on the horizon when all his bad choices caught up to him. That same feeling of imminent disaster he’d gotten before each of the recent financial meltdowns buzzed through his veins. He couldn’t be happier to be getting out.
He shoved the two small boxes labeled ‘Jessica’ further into the corner. His ex-fiancee would probably never get her stuff. Why was he even saving it? Maybe the same masochistic streak that kept him on Wall Street for so long kept him connected to her.
She was just like the rest of them, completely satisfied by a stallion on her arm, a huge diamond on her finger, and the good life in her future. Sure he thought all that crap was important too, until it fell apart. He shook his head at his own stupidity and gullibility. I should have known better.
It was book-packing day. The floor-to-ceiling bookshelves against the far wall contained some of his most treasured possessions. Most of them would have to go into storage with the rest of his stuff, but a select few would accompany him on his great escape. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a book of Neruda’s poems, and Ulysses by James Joyce were definites. Perhaps Jung’s Red Book and something by Emerson, to get his mind right.
The promise of a dramatic escape had picked Aidan up off the floor, and given him hope that what had broken could be fixed. Southeast Asia was as far as he could get from Manhattan. He would start out in Thailand. Bali was a must, as was Vietnam. Other than that, he had at least a year, maybe two, to recover from the train wreck his life had become. Maybe he’d never come back. A permanent sabbatical. He called it his parole, even if nobody else got the joke.
Aidan frowned at the growing pile of books on the floor, already more than he could bring, and he’d only scanned the top two shelves. The whole point was to leave the city empty-handed. Only a total purge would begin to wash him clean, absolve him of his disgrace, wrest the life he never wanted from his clenched fists. If he could let go of all he was, maybe someone worth living would emerge.


Everything’s different. Aidan stared out the taxi window at the city that used to feel as integral and familiar as one of his limbs. Exhausted from nearly three days of traveling across the planet, he welcomed in that familiar rush of energy that had sustained him for all those years. New York City was a miracle, even compared to the exotic sights of his recent travels.
As the taxi rounded the corner of his block, he perched forward. Other than different names on a few of the businesses, his neighborhood was unchanged. Maybe the world had stayed exactly the same, but he had very little in common with the man who had fled New York more than two years prior.
The doorman’s eyes widened as Aidan stepped out of the taxi.
“Mr. Connelly! You’re back!”
“I sure am, Edgar.”
The uniformed man took the largest of Aidan’s bags. “Welcome home, sir. You’ve been missed. I’m glad to see you looking so well.”
Aidan ran a hand over his full beard. “That’s kind of you to say. How’s everything with you?”
“Can’t complain, sir. Can’t complain. Added two more grandkids to the stable. We nearly have a baseball team now.”
Aidan patted the older man on the back as the elevator opened. “Congratulations, Edgar. That’s wonderful news.”
“Your place has been well taken care of. I hope you agree.”
A sense of relief greeted Aidan as the elevator doors opened to his loft. During more than one dark moment, he’d imagined it had been looted and vandalized. Maybe the maintenance company he’d hired had stopped coming, and it would be a maze of cobwebs and dustballs. Or they had stolen every tangible piece of his life. Most of the time he didn’t care.
But at that moment, seeing his familiar belongings made him swallow against the push of an emotion he couldn’t quite name. Sadness had been his companion for so long. But this sensation was different, harkening back to a time so long before it might have only existed in his imagination. He was happy to be home.
The spacious emptiness felt like a glorious reprieve from the constant bombardment of people and activity that had accompanied him from place to place. Bangkok was crowded. Bali was chaotic. India was madness. But they were exactly what he needed, pummeling him into submission and breaking him of the fever that had taken over his mind. He breathed peacefully now, slept well, and lost the repulsion at being in his own skin.
Aidan walked through his home, checking each of the rooms. Edgar was right. It was pristine. Almost certainly cleaner than the day he left. Other than the boxes that filled the far corner of the living space, everything was exactly as he had left it.
He had taken a risk, shipping back all the art and decorative pieces he’d bought throughout Asia, but all the boxes appeared to be intact. Aidan ran his hand over the edge of the largest one, nearly as tall as him and three times as wide. Unpacking would have to wait. Maybe for a while. He wasn’t sure he’d be staying.
This city held too much history, too much evidence of his mistakes, too many reminders of how far he’d strayed. He loved New York, but didn’t know if he could be the man he wanted to be in this environment. Maybe he’d leave the city, head out west, re-create himself.
After a call to his parents, Aidan dialed his best friend. “Hey, Tommy. I’m back.”
“Finally! How are you feeling?”
“Really good. Bleary, but happy. I’m sure I’m going to crash in a few hours, but for now, I’m loving all the buzz of New York. My place looks perfect, too. Like I never left.”
“Well, we definitely felt your absence. I’m going to be in the city tomorrow morning. I’ll drop by and we can hang. I want to hear everything.”
“Sounds good, man. Can’t wait to see you.”
The line remained silent for long enough that Aidan checked to see if the call had dis-connected.
Tommy cleared his throat. “I’m so glad you’re home, Aidan. I was scared you’d never want to come back. After everything.”
“Can’t say I didn’t think about it. But I’m here.”
“See you tomorrow.”
Telling his best friend that he was thinking about leaving again, this time permanently, was going to be a hard conversation. At least he felt clear enough to make a decision. But there was no rush. First he’d have to re-acclimate to civilization.

Aidan cleared the steam from the mirror after a luxuriously long shower. He hadn’t missed much of his previous lifestyle, but a shower hadn’t felt that good in a long time. He picked up the tube of shaving gel, ready to eliminate the evidence of his transformation, and paused. Sure, he looked like someone who’d been living on a beach for a few years. But this was him, now. No pretense, no show, no being what he was supposed to be. He put the tube down and walked out of the bathroom. Civilization could wait another day.
His fatigue grew harder to ignore after getting dressed. He needed to stay awake for a few more hours to begin adjusting to the new time zone. A long walk was the perfect option, not only for his body, but for the thoughts tumbling around his head. Lots of decisions had to be made. Would he try to work? Going back into the financial industry was out of the question, but he was hardly qualified to do anything else. Thankfully, money wasn’t going to be an issue for a very long time. Maybe never. But being idle for too long was asking for trouble.
He stopped in the lobby to slip a hundred dollar bill into Edgar’s hand. That guy was a high quality human being – honest, caring, hard-working without being obsessed about money. Aidan needed more people like that in his life.
He walked out into the sunny day, grateful for the late summer breeze. There were times the stifling heat and humidity of the tropics had felt like a well-deserved punishment. He had run away to paradise, but a little bit of hell had followed alongside. Heading uptown to Central Park with a smile on his face, Aidan was certain of his redemption.


Absolutely lovely.

PE KAVANAGH has been a professional dancer, MIT-educated engineer, corporate executive, spiritual teacher, and chef. These days, her favorite titles are author, mother, and hot stuff.

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Author Interview – Godiva Glenn

Gotta love Godiva Glenn.

Very Sherry Terry

If romantic erotica your thing, you’re going to enjoy Godiva Glenn. I don’t personally know her, unlike many of the authors I host. I stumbled onto Godiva through a friend.  I was very excited when she agreed to let me interview her. She is very nice and gracious.

Go read the first chapter of Wedding Antics FREE.

Be sure to check out the reviews on Wedding Antics! Feel free to leave a comment or a review of your own in the comments section – here.

Pleas allow me to introduce, Godiva Glenn.

Hello, Godiva. First I want to thank you for being here, it’s an honor. I have so many questions, I’d love to just jump right in. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in erotic romance writing as far as content?

Godiva: In this field it’s particularly important to know your audience, and yet when it comes…

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Romance Author Showcase- Francisco Cordoba. The First Chapter

I’m excited today.  Francisco Cordoba has announced his new series.  Those of us who have read the series are bursting at the seams with glee.   Check out The Naked Reviewerson Wed for a review!!

After two and a half years The Image may contain: one or more people, cloud, sky, text and outdoorHorsemen of Golegã was unleashed on the world Sept 1, 2017 with Book 1 in the 8 book series, Bosanquet.
What do you do when your BFF’s dream vacation turns out to be your worst nightmare?

After a naïve relationship decision leaves Candice with a handprint on her face and no job, all she wants is to hide in a corner and lick her wounds. But when bestie Fiona comes begging for a last minute travel companion, what else can a true friend do but go along for the ride?

Fast forward to the bustling streets of Golegã during Portugal’s International Horse Fair. Where stunning horses and cocky macho men are every woman’s wet dream. Every woman except for Candice, that is. Horses are her least favorite animal and, right now, men rank a close second.

Determined to steer clear of arrogant males; pursued by a series of psychotic text messages, a crazed cavaleiro, and a vicious black stallion, Candice once again questions her judgment.
The only thing keeping her sane is curiosity over the fascinating stranger who seems as drawn to her as she is to him. Tall, ruggedly handsome, and enigmatic, Gaspar Bosanquet is a man like no other.

Will a night in his arms change Candice’s mind about men?
Or will one impulsive act become her biggest blunder yet?
Only one thing is certain, neither Candice nor Bosanquet will ever be the same again.

Join them on their journey!
Welcome to Francisco Cordoba’s debut novella.
Available on Amazon

Explicit sex (tasteful), and some swearing.


And now to The First Chapter.
Grab your seat for a wonderful ride.
Chapter 1
Image may contain: one or more people, cloud, sky, text and outdoor“You are so going to pay for this,” Candice said, propped against her friend and using the edge of the curb to scrape fresh, sweetly pungent manure off her discolored sandal.
“I already paid for it,” Fiona replied with a smile.
Candice’s efforts were futile. The muck was a magnet for the sand and sawdust spread all over the road. Combined, these substances created a stinky, lumpy minefield with each pile issuing a siren-call just for her feet. Her once pristine footwear was stained beyond repair. She sighed and scraped again. “I cannot believe you lied to me.”
“I didn’t—” Fiona’s words disappeared beneath the whoops and clattering hooves of a passing cavalcade.
A fresh waft of equine and man sweat assailed Candice, causing her to breathe through her mouth while her friend flared her nostrils and grinned.
When the noise had subsided to the general dull roar of the crowd, Fiona tried again. “I didn’t lie. I told you there’d be horses. You should’ve dressed appropriately.”
“You told me there’d be a few horses.” Candice swept an arm toward a large open area and the wide track surrounding it, both were surfaced with the sand-sawdust mix. A low wood rail fence separated the open area from the track—the ‘manga’ the locals called it, making Candice view the scene through the lens of Japanese anime—and a similar fence separated the track from the road. Both the manga and the central ring were packed with horses—led, ridden, and driven. The street the girls stood on thronged with people and, inevitably, more horses. “Since when does a cast of thousands count as a few?”
“It’s all in the perception. One person’s few is another person’s too many or not enough, just like one woman’s adequate is another woman’s too damn small or holy crap that’s huge. Besides, I had no idea it would be like this.” A broad grin split Fiona’s face. “Isn’t it fabulous?”
Candice stopped scraping and started walking, slippery sandals skidding on the damp, uneven sidewalk. She’d only been here a couple of hours and already she was beginning to hate the artistic Portuguese mosaic street pavement. If she escaped this week without a sprained ankle at the very least, it would be a miracle.
The squishiness between her toes made her shudder. “No. It is not fabulous,” she snapped over her shoulder. “It’s wet, it’s cold—you said Portugal was a warm country. It’s crowded—you said Golegã was a small town. It’s overrun with horses and cowboys, and horse shit and testicles. And this is different from Calgary, how? Ahhhhh!” Her arms wind-milled as the ground slid away under her feet. She caught a glimpse of gooey sandals against gray sky a second before her ass hit the road. “Crap!”
“That hurt.” Fiona squatted beside her, green eyes full of sympathy. “You okay?”
“Fine.” Candice sighed. “I always thought dignity was overrated anyway.” She examined her bleeding hand and slimed feet, and repeated her question. “And this is different from Calgary, how?”
Fiona shrugged. “But look at it this way, Cans. You needed to get away from your unpleasant boyfriend—”
“He’s not my boyfriend!”
“—your cougar mother and her cubs—”
“Two of them. Two!”
“—your gay father and his fiancé—”
Candice rolled her eyes. “Don’t need the litany, Fifs.”
Fiona rolled on relentlessly. “—your self-centered brothers—”
“As long as they’re happy.” Candice mimicked her brothers’ favorite words to her every time she complained about their parents’ split and new alternative lifestyles.
“—and the dead-end job you got fired from.”
“Behavior unbecoming of an employee.” Candice stretched her face and voice into a caricature of her haughty boss and surrounded her words with air quotes.
“And your grief.” Fiona ended her list in a softer tone and paused before revving up again. “Coming with me provided a much-needed change. Think of it as a catalyst to propel your life in a whole new direction. Carpe diem and all that.”
“The way I see it,” Candice growled, holding her sore and filthy hand to one side, “I was sitting in shit there, and I’m sitting in shit here.” She wiped the hand on her no-longer-white skirt. “The only difference is at home I spoke the language, and when I ordered a cup of coffee, I got a cup of coffee, not a thimbleful of black tar that would melt the hide off a rhino.”
“Don’t be like that.” Fiona hauled her to her feet and started dusting her down, paused, and wiped her hands on the clean sleeve of Candice’s blouse.
Fiona shrugged. “Sorry, didn’t want to get my clothes dirty, and this is wrecked already. Look, let’s go back to the hotel and get you cleaned up. Then we can go for dinner at that little café and ogle the eye candy while we eat.”
Candice cringed but followed in silence as Fiona wound through crowds of olive-skinned men in tight black pants, short black jackets, and flat-crowned black hats. As far as she could tell, they were the same as the cowboys back home, with possibly better fashion sense. But for all their tight sexy attire, they were still ruled by testosterone, thinking themselves as virile and macho as the stallions they rode.
Fiona seemed as much besotted by the men as by the horses she claimed to have come to see. But for Candice, fresh out of a brief and toxic interlude too short to even be termed a relationship, and unhappy with the whole cowboy scene she’d never even pretended to understand, this seven-day trip to Portugal’s National Horse Fair had rapidly assumed the guise of a nightmare.
Fiona was footing the bill, but only because she hated to do anything alone. She’d planned the trip with equally-horse-crazy-man-crazy-Sarah, and Candice had looked forward to a solitary seven days secure behind the locked door of their apartment, licking her wounds and reading through the contents of box Hist. 2 from Ted’s collection. But Sarah had backed out at the last minute, and Fiona had come begging.
Unable to leave her best friend in the lurch, Candice-the-mug-of-a-roommate and Candice-the-fired-without-a-reference and Candice-the-girl-with-the-most-fucked-up-family-in-the-world had smilingly agreed that a girl’s-only holiday in sunny Portugal would be just the thing. She’d closed the flaps on Hist. 2, packed Napoleon’s Wars: An International History into her travel bag and, ignoring her discomfort at having someone else pay for what she couldn’t afford, headed to the airport.
There would be a few horses in Golegã. Fiona had been up front about that. It was a horse fair after all. For her friend, Candice reckoned a few—a few—horses could be coped with. But holy hell, this was never a few, and if this god-forsaken town had seen sun in the last month, she’d be amazed to hear it.
Ahead of her, Fiona skirted a large pile of fresh droppings with a supple sway of her hips and barely a glance. Candice, envious of her friend’s grace, tried to do the same and promptly stepped on a turd ball. Her foot skidded, but a lucky grab at the nearby fence kept her upright. Muttering curses, she scraped her sandal on the lowest bar of the barrier and grimaced at the drab green stain on her ankle.
“You coming, Cans?” Fiona called through the crowd.
“In a minute.” After one final, pointless wipe, Candice moved to catch up.
A large gray horse overtook her, clopping through a puddle, splashing her legs with malodorous water droplets. A brown one passed in the opposite direction, splattering her with yet more wet filth. The gray sky singled her out for the heaviest of the drizzle. Candice sighed.
Fiona looked her up and down. “You’re a mess.”
Without a word, Candice stomped past her into the heaving sea of masculinity.
And then there were the men. Yes, the clothes were a definite plus, but the men inside the clothes? The muscles and other man bits were clearly in all the right places, but the hormones dripped right along with the sweat. So much sweat, human and equine, plastered all over them, wafting about them, worn like some super-macho membership badge. And the shit. So much shit; although, in fairness, she couldn’t blame the men for that directly.”
“Candice, watch—”
This time there was no fence to grab. “Ahh-ahhhhh! Ouch!” And the landing hurt.
“—out.” Fiona gazed down at her, clearly fighting to keep a straight face. “Again? Really?”
“Fuck off,” Candice snarled.
“Don’t you think you’re pushing credulity just a bit?” Fiona abandoned any attempt to control her expression. “And right outside the hotel? I thought you didn’t like drawing attention to yourself?”
“I may assist you, senhorita?” A deep, accented male voice blended with Fiona’s final words.
“Oh. Fuck. Right. Off,” Candice said, loud and clear.
Book 2, The Great Gaspar Sept 15.
Book 3, Loving North Sept 29
Book 4, Seeking Home coming in October.  Can’t wait!
Book 5, A Dama and Book 6 Keeper’s Wife coming in November
Book 7, The Lone Horseman and Book 8, Candice will be out in December. If Life happens, they’ll be out in early 2018.
Visit Francisco Cordoba on Facebook today then head over and grab a copy of his wonderful books.

Don’t forget to check out The Naked Reviewers for her review and add yours!