Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Release Spotlight and Contest!

Today the spotlight is on my friend and fellow author Chelle Ramsey. Chelle has just released the final novel in her Bejeweled series entitled Standing Strong. Before we get into the book, let me tell you a little bit about Chelle.


An original Georgia Peach, Chelle Ramsey is a fiction author, writing stories to encourage, empower, entertain and strengthen readers. Many of her stories are based in her birthplace of Atlanta or her husband’s hometown of Cincinnati, where readers can relate to local hot spots and events. She wants her readers (women and men) to become empowered to rise above adversity, with faith in God, and belief in themselves.

Chelle holds an MBA in Human Resource Management, which she puts to use in her HR generalist role by day, while she writes her women’s fiction and Christian fiction novels by night. She is also a romance ghostwriter, a genre very diverse from her own.

Her most important roles are those of a wife and mother of three. During her “me time,” she loves listening to music, and becomes enraptured with the enthralling stories of Terry McMillan, and Nora Roberts. She especially relishes trying to solve the engaging mysteries of James Patterson and Stuart Woods, while eating a bowl of her favorite butter pecan ice cream. Chelle resides in a rural community of Atlanta, GA and enjoys writing, family time, and watching NBA games with her husband.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Olivia has overcome many challenges and disappointments in her life. Yet, when faced with an unexpected death of a family member, and witnessing the murder of someone she cares for, she isn’t sure she can survive. The losses incurred on this journey may cause her to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

The return of Black and Kianna means the puzzle pieces of Angel’s life are finally locking into place. The picture is different than she envisioned. Angel must determine if uncovering the truth of their past, is worth the sacrifice of her new relationship.

Kianna’s played dirty in the past, but this time the fight is deadly. She’s willing to go all in to expose the truth, which will cause everyone in the game to ante up. Will her sacrifice be more than she bargained for?

Black’s gambled several times in the past, but this time the stakes are high. With his life and those of his family serving as the bargaining chips, it isn’t that easy to fold. To protect those he loves the most, he may have to sacrifice his own life to save theirs.

Angel. Kianna. Black. In the end everyone must bear their cross. And the truth is so explosive, the House will never be the same. One will stand strong and walk away. One will stand strong and make the ultimate sacrifice. And one will stand strong and won’t survive!

EXCERPT:
The doorbell buzzed, waking Black from a nap. He had fallen asleep on the couch after TJ left. Looking at his cell phone, he noticed he had missed several calls. He had been asleep for over two hours.

Damn, how did that happen? Shaking his head, he smiled, recalling he had placed the phone on vibrate after his son left. Although it was his birthday, he decided to chill. This birthday was different than any of the previous ones. No longer hanging in a nightclub with his boys and a few women around as usual, today he chose to relax and reflect on his life.

The doorbell buzzed again, forcing him to get up to answer it.

“Whachu want?” he asked, not surprised to see Kianna.

“You,” she said, forcing her way through the door. She held a bottle of champagne and a couple of balloons in one hand and a small, wrapped box in the other.

“C’mon, girl. Why you here?” Irritation colored his voice.

“Duh? It’s your birthday. And since I had a feeling you weren’t out partying, I decided to bring a little private party to you.” She shrugged her shoulders and sashayed through the apartment to the bedroom.

Black caught up with her and grabbed her by the arm. “Look, I thought I told you I was done with you, girl. Wassup?”

“You’re not done with me! Black, you can’t get rid of me like that,” Kiana replied, snatching her arm from his grasp.

Pulling her form-fitting white mini dress up her ample hips and over her head, she tossed it to the floor, freeing her full breasts.  She wore absolutely nothing underneath, and Black’s body betrayed him as it went on alert. With her firm, luscious breasts bouncing and behind jiggling, he recalled what it felt like being inside of her, holding her, kissing her, and sexing her.

“C’mon, baby, what we had was good,” Kianna said, pressing up against him and kissing his neck.

His mind and flesh warred against each other. Giving in would mean going back into the life he was trying to escape. He didn’t know what it meant to ignore her. He could only try that route again and see what it brought.

“Please…put your clothes on, and get out!”

Kianna refused to back down, instead choosing to stroke his manhood. “You don’t mean that. You’re all lip service, because your body’s saying something different,” she purred.
Black groaned against what he was feeling. “Shit don’t matter, I said leave!” He let his mind wonder to the feeling of cold ice on his back, being shot, and roadkill. Anything that would eliminate sexual thoughts from his mind and ease the tension he allowed to flow. Somehow it worked, and his manhood began cooperating with him.

“Black, I brought you a present, part of which was me. Seeing how you’re not appreciative of my gift, then maybe you’d like this one better.” Kianna strutted back to the bed and grabbed the little box.

“Here, open it!” she commanded, thrusting it in his hands.

Sighing and tired of playing her games, he reluctantly followed her instructions. Although he had just taken a nap, he felt depleted of energy simply being in her presence. His back and neck were aching, and he wanted to ease the pain. Wondering what was in the box, he made his way to his bed.

He looked up at her briefly while unwrapping it. “What’re you smirking for?”

“Oh, nothing. I’m just thinking about how good we were together. There’s nothing I won’t do to make me and you a team again,” Kianna stated.

“What the hell is this?” Black asked, pulling a tape recorder from the box.

“What does it look like? Listen to it; there’s a birthday message on it.” She smiled, pointing at the small rectangular grey device in his hand.

Black hit the play button and began listening. Cold chills ran down his spine as he heard his own voice. There were several conversations recorded of him setting up drugs buys. There were also other recordings of him making arrangements for Starr and Kandi, two dancers he had met at the strip club.

####

Purchase links: BeJeweled: Standing Strong:
Amazon Short Link: bit.ly/THOBJ4

ALL BOOKS AMAZON: Chelle Ramsey Amazon

PAPERBACKS:
(HOBJ IV) https://www.createspace.com/6828683 

RAFFLECOPTER:

Two different winners will be randomly selected from the participating blogs. One will receive an autographed copy of BeJeweled: Standing Strong, and another visitor will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Winners will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. Simply enter the link below in the blog post wherever HTML can be posted.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK:

CONTACT INFO:

Monday, January 16, 2017

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!

It is with enormous pride that I present an important new release from a young man I've known all of his life. 

                                             

Thomas Holt has written a book that has importance to all Americans regardless of race.


“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Newton’s Third Law of Motion
Black & Blue is Thomas Holt’s invaluable personal insight and reaction to the sensationalized news headlines, “Police Shoot Unarmed Black Man.” Holt provides thought-provoking conversations and personal stories of walking on both sides of the “thin blue line.” With over a decade of law enforcement experience, Holt offers historical narratives and research on the implementation of the first organized police force created over 200 years ago. Tommy is doing his part to ease racial tensions, injustice and mistreatment of police interactions with African- Americans. Holt strongly believes that if his Come Home S.C.H.O.O.L. approach is utilized, it will save the lives of both citizens and police officers.

Black & Blue​ examines the intersection between race, culture and our inherent biases. The book artfully describes the humanity of the citizen and the complexity of the job officers are charged to perform. This book is a must read for all individuals in the ​Black and Blue 
​ communities. - William A. Dudley Jr. Esq. 

 "​Black & Blue​ ​is essential reading for all those who really want to participate in the improvement of police and community relations. It is a unique view from both sides of the line that everyone can learn from."  - John Celestand 2000 NBA LA Lakers Champion 

Officer Holt has written a heartfelt and brutally honest book, which has statistical data for any doubters of the truth.The journey of his youth and as young police officer is a story that many Black police officers have lived through and is a key reason why they chose to become law enforcement officers, to make a difference. 

This book should be read by all including potential law enforcement officers to realize that there are some legitimate reasons for distrust of the police. Yet that should not stop law enforcement officers from doing their jobs to make communities safe and prove that 97% of police officers work hard, and are there to serve and protect, and not to abuse and mistreat. Very proud of this young man. - Craig McQueen Retired Assistant Chief City of Miami Police Department 

“Thomas Holt's new book is a reminder of the perceptions of our citizens and police officers. This book offers a view from a minority and a police officer in today's 21st Century society. He has provided an excellent example of Impacting Lives Today For A Better Tomorrow. This serves as a reminder that we all are connected by a commonality which is the human race. - Ian A. Moffett Chief of Police, Miami-Dade Schools Police Department 

Black & Blue is available in paperback on Amazon.com - http://amzn.to/2jzhoKV 

Coming soon to Kindle...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sample Sunday

Continuing where I left off last time (Dec. 21 and Dec. 10) in Chapter One with the unedited excerpt of Born To Be Wild.

*********


We stepped out onto the sidewalk, a huge black and silver motorcycle sat at the curb gleamed in the midday sun. I stepped closer to examine it. “That’s a big bike.”


He shrugged. “I’m a big man.”

That’s for sure

Once I put my sign on the front door and locked it, we headed to Eufaula Street, and I felt dwarfed beside him. Miss Cordelia, the flower shop owner and probably the oldest store owner in town, was adding water to the display she kept outside her shop. She paused and gaped as we approached. “Good afternoon, Tangie,” she said, eyeing Mr. Turner with a suspicious squint. “On your way to lunch?”

“Yes, ma’am. It’s about that time.” I had the distinct feeling she expected me to introduce him, but the situation didn’t call for it, so I smiled and kept walking.

“Was it my imagination, or did she just give me the evil eye?”

“Yeah, she did, but it’s only because she’s looking out for me. I’m one of the youngest shop owners here.” He didn’t need to know the reason why. Miss Cordelia had never seen me with a man other than, Johnnie, whom I’d been dating for the past two years. Everyone in town also knew him, because we grew up together.

We turned the corner onto Eufaula Street where Karly’s Kafé sat on the ground floor of a large three-story brick building in need of tender loving care. The first floor housed several businesses, but the top two floors remained vacant. A For Sale banner had adorned the second level railing for more than a year, but the owners hadn’t received any offers. The building needed too much work.


My handsome customer held the door as I preceded him into the café. “Are you eating here, or getting something to take out?”

“Most days I eat here. It’s good to get a break from being in the store all day.”

“Do you mind if I join you, or are you meeting bae for lunch?”

“No. I usually sit over there.” I indicated a table by the front window and let the bae comment slide. When I looked up, Karly, her husband, Sal and Breelyn, their day waitress and my best friend, were staring as if I’d grown a third eye. They had also never seen me out with a man other than Johnnie. Sal had the culinary expertise, and Karly had the personality. Several years ago they passed through our little town on their way to Florida and fell in love with it. Six months later, they left New York City and bought a house here. Immediately, they started looking for a spot to open their restaurant.

                

“Hey, Tangela, how’s life treating you?” Karly asked from across the room in her loud New York accented voice.

In the five years I’d known her, she had never asked me that question. It was obvious she was fishing for details about the man sitting next to me. “I’m just fine, Karly. How’re you doin’?”

“Bree will be over with menus in a minute.” She and Bree put their heads together and whispered before Bree sauntered over wearing a surreptitious smile.

“Welcome to Karly’s Kafe. My name is Breelyn, and I’ll be serving you today.” Her formal welcome was laughable, and obviously for Mr. Turner’s benefit. “Can I get drinks for you and your…friend?”

I sent her the side eye. “Bree, this is Mr. Turner. He’s passing through town on his way to Panama City Beach. Bree is my best friend.”

He smiled.  “Pleased to meet you, Bree. My name is Reese, and I’d like the biggest sweet tea you have with lots of lemon.”

The way she grinned back at him made me want to slap her upside her silly head. “Here’s today’s menu. I’ll be right back.”

His gaze followed her across the dining room. As soon as she was out of hearing distance, he said, “You’re not drinking anything?”

“She knows what I always get.”

“Oh, okay. I thought she was dissing you.” He glanced at her again. “She has an interesting look.”

“Like she doesn’t belong here, right?”

“Well, yeah. It’s not often you see a black woman with purple hair in a country town.”


“Eufaula isn’t country. It’s the largest town in Barbour County.”

He snickered and checked out the short menu. “I’m from Atlanta. Believe me, this is country.”

Bree brought our drinks and blatantly studied him while he concentrated on the menu. Her gaze did a slow scan from his boots all the way up to the turquoise and silver necklace beneath a red bandanna at his throat then gave me a raised eyebrow.

I nixed her and asked if he was ready to order.

“Think I’ll try the meatball parm sandwich and a side salad with Italian dressing.”

“Good choice,” Bree said. “Sal’s meatballs are amazing, but I suggest you get that on the toasted garlic bread.”

“Okay. Recommendation taken.”

“And what are you having today, girl?”

“I’ll make it easy for you. Give me the same, but with the balsamic vinaigrette on the salad.”
She scratched the order on her pad and sent me another questioning look. “This shouldn’t take long.”

“Are you vacationing in Panama City?” I asked once she left the table.

“Not really. I belong to a motorcycle club. It’s Black Bike Week, and the annual rally is being held there.”

Now his outfit made more sense. I’d never known anyone who belonged to a motorcycle club, and I wanted to know more. “What happens during Black Bike Week?”

His wicked laugh tickled my senses. “What doesn’t happen. The rally used to be held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the same time as the Harley Davidson rally, but this year the organizers decided to change it. The last couple of years the local newspapers and TV stations painted the black bikers as underclass criminals who come to the rally to steal and murder. The white bikers were called examples of American Individualism whose behavior was celebrated as defiant acts against authority."

“Typical.” I shook my head at the trite judgment. “So where do you go after you leave the rally?”

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t you live on the road and travel from place to place?” My stomach did a little somersault again when he grinned.

“Somebody’s been watching too much television.”

“That’s not true?”

“No. Most motorcycle clubs are basically social groups. Riders get together mostly on weekends to share their love for bikes. There are even a few RUBs in our club, but we all have jobs, businesses and families to take care of the rest of the time.”

The heat of embarrassment crept up the back of my neck into my cheeks. “It’s just that I—

“That’s a common misconception. I’m not offended.”

“What’s a rub?”

“It stands for Rich Urban Biker.”

“Oh, wow.”

The way he spoke intrigued me. “What kind of work do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Do you ever watch HGTV?”

I knew he wasn’t going to tell me he was a television star. “Yes, all the time. Why?”

“Have you seen any of the house flipping shows?”

“Uh huh. Flip or Flop was one of my favorites, until Tarek and Christina split up.”

“That’s what I do-buy houses, restore them and flip them for a profit. I own the business, but I do a lot of the actual work myself.”

Well, that explained his incredible shoulders and arms. Reese Turner was becoming more interesting by the minute.

#####

Coming late Spring 2017 to Kindle, Nook and Createspace

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Release Spotlight!

Showcasing new books by my sister (and brother) scribes is always a joy for me. Today I'm happy to feature Stolen By a Savage by Theresa Hodge.


Theresa is a native of Alabama. She is a loving mother, wife, sister, aunt and friend. She is at her best when she is able to bring happiness to others. She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write fictional stories. She has found writing to be therapeutic, especially during the loss of her oldest sister from breast cancer, a period that birthed her first book series, Ask Me Again.


Theresa has gone on to write several more books and collaborations. She is busy writing new stories regularly, so be sure to check her site regularly for new releases. Theresa also has a love affair with writing poetry. She first started writing poetry at an early age and it has been a part of her growth with writing ever since. If Theresa can bring a smile to your face and encourage along her journey, she considers it a blessing beyond measure. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Blurb:  Kohara… It doesn’t matter how good of a person I try to be. Pain and betrayal has a way of ripping my happiness from under me. The one person that I think will protect me and love me until we grow old has proven to me that happiness has a way of turning into heartache. Then, I met him. The one man who can possibly make me forget and change my life as I know it…forever. 

Dante… 

She is gorgeous, warm and sweet. The first time that I laid eyes on her, I could see pain in her eyes. A force drew me to her. A force that I can’t and don’t want to fight. She is forbidden but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to get to know more about her. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to steal her love for my own. 

Excerpt: “My private life is no longer your concern, Gary. It’s all your fault that we are in this predicament. I will not allow you to talk to me like that any longer. If you can’t respect that, then we no longer have anything to say to each other,” she spat out and turned to walk away from me but I grabbed her arm and forced her to look at me. 

“What happened to the sweet innocent girl that I married? What happened to the vows that you spoke to me on our wedding day? You promised me for better or for worse until death do us part,” I queried her as I tried to bring our wedding day back to the forefront of her mind. 

“I’m a woman, Gary.” She jerked her arm from me and stared me down with fire in her eyes. “I am not some little girl that you can manipulate. I put up with your foolishness for as long as I possibly could. People get tired, Gary. And I am the same woman that you married. I’m just a little older and a lot wiser,” she replied. 

“Do you remember our wedding day, baby?” I didn’t respond to what she just said but I would beseech her to remember the happy memories that we had shared together. “You were the most beautiful bride that ever walked the face of this earth to me. You looked like a true princess as I waited for you in my tux and bow tie at the altar for you on our wedding day. I was finally going to get the woman of my dreams and you and I as a couple were going to live out our happily ever after. You made me the happiest man on earth when the words I do slipped past your lips. Please tell me that you haven’t forgotten,” I pleaded with her as I gripped her smaller hands in my own. She tried to tug her hands away from mine but I wouldn’t let them go this time. Just like I couldn’t let her walk out on our marriage as easily as she wanted me to. 

“I remember, Gary,” Kohara answered in a soft teary voice. Tears formed in her beautiful eyes and escaped down her cheeks. I released one of her hands so that I could brush her tears away. 

Title: Stolen By A Savage 
Release Date: January 12, 2017 
Genre: African American Romance 
Series name and number: Stolen By A Savage Book 1 

Theresa can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Poetic__Life?s=09 
Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/askmeagainromanceseries 
Facebook me: https://m.facebook.com/theresa.hodge.10?ref=bookmarks Web site: http://www.amazon.com/Theresa-Hodge/e/B00J53PB3E  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6927856.
Theresa_Hodge Newsletter Signup: https://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin?v=001dQH3Znxg2jdYFxflpyU8DIZkv3r_-ocvEVFy6i1JwgBGnlN57zxpnPbQFDmpTYASp6ZSi1VGrR-QDOA-SOSsU77fc_VbaCvvk5eqZh0mbxs%3D

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Paradigm shift

If you read my last entry, you could tell that I'm undergoing some kind of attitude change. I've been writing now for sixteen years and have been published since 2010. During these years I have worked incredibly hard learning about the industry, studying the craft, trying to become a marketing maven, and it has paid off. 

It's rare that I write about my feelings, which is the reason I don't journal. Navel-gazing does not appeal to me even a little bit. What I've been feeling lately, though, deserves to be addressed.  
Perhaps this came about because of the tremendous amount of negativity in our world that seemed to escalate more and more by the end of 2016. Or maybe it was because of the cancer diagnosis I received. I don't know, but I sensed something changing in my mind/heart - a new creative desire.

Now that doesn't mean I'm going to start doing oil painting or trying my hand at fashion design, but it does mean I am suddenly more invested in my writing. I want to find ways to get into the heads of my characters so I can know them better. I want to learn more about writing better description that will draw my readers into my stories. 

Last night, while trying to decide which book to read out of the six dozen on my Kindle TBR collection, it occurred to me that I need to revisit those books that made an impression on me and re-read them this time with an author's eye to understand why the writing resonated so strongly with me. 

Even though there are many authors whose writing I love, during the past couple of years Nia Forrester holds the #1 spot, so Ms. Forrester's Commitment series is going to be my syllabus. 


     

The Commitment Series
Commitment (Book I) Kindle: http://amzn.com/B008IVMKAG Nook: http://bit.ly/1lvlPR0
Unsuitable Men (Book II) Kindle: http://amzn.com/B0096DLANS Nook: http://bit.ly/S3uLVa
Maybe Never (Book III) Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00BJFNI0E Nook: http://bit.ly/1mEwawL

* * * * * * * * * *

The Afterwards Series (based on the Commitment Series)
Afterwards (Book I) Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00G757PB4 Nook: http://bit.ly/1hTobXf
Afterburn (Book II) Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00JYWX3D6 Nook: http://bit.ly/1lxT3On

************
The Come Up
Kindle: http://amzn.to/2j8TRzv Nook: http://bit.ly/2iMIdhe

Monday, January 2, 2017

A New Year's anti-goals list

This is the time when the blogosphere is filled with everyone talking about their goals. When I first started writing, I did the same and even had the writer's group I led for a few years to do prepare their goals and share them at our last meeting of the year.

                                      

This year I don't have any major goals other than concentrating on enjoying writing more and not putting so much pressure on myself to keep up with what other authors are doing.



So these are my goals for 2017...



😃     😇     😍     😎






Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Born to be Wild - Sneak Peek #1

Here's the first unedited excerpt from BORN TO BE WILD, Book One in my new series - https://www.facebook.com/ChickiBrownNovels/

The heroine owns the only bookstore in a small Alabama lake town...

* * * * * * *

This particular Wednesday I was sitting between the shelves on the rolling black stepstool unpacking a box of books I’d ordered for the history section. Biographies of former local residents and family histories were some of my biggest sellers. Soft jazz was playing from the small shelf system I always had playing into the room, and I was engrossed with recording the incoming stock and sorting it out when heavy footfalls drew my attention from the task. 

“I’ll be with you in just a second,” I called out, set the stack of books onto the floor and quickly stuffed the packing material back into the empty box. I was trying to organize the pile of books and papers when the deep timbre of a voice sent a ripple of sensation down my spine.

“Sorry to disturb you.” Black leather boots with silver hardware came into view. My gaze traveled from the boots, up a pair of sturdy thighs, past the black tank which displayed muscular, caramel-colored shoulders. Well-formed muscles were evenly distributed over his lean frame, which had to be at least six feet tall. But his face is what did immediate damage to my nervous system. Scruff covering his angular jaw of a GQ-worth face gave him a rough edge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a good-looking man. It took me a couple of seconds to stand and get my brain and mouth working together to produce some intelligible words that didn’t sound like stuttering.


“I’m sorry. May I help you?”


“Yes.” He took off his sunglasses revealing eyes that were so dark they were almost black and handed me a piece of paper. “I’m looking for this book on motorcycle repair. Would you have it in stock?”


Without even looking at the title, I knew it wasn’t one I carried. “I don’t, but I’ll gladly order it for you. It should take three to four days. Can you wait that long?”


 He smiled and my bones felt as though they were melting. “I’m on my way to Florida, but I’ll be coming back through in a few days. Can you order it for overnight delivery just to make sure?”


“No problem.” It took everything I had to make sure he didn’t see the way my hands were shaking when I handed him an order form and a pen. “Do you mind filling this out for me?”

He grinned. “I wouldn’t mind doing anything you ask.”

The whole room tilted, and I glanced way from his penetrating dark gaze. While he completed the form, it was all I could do not to gawk at him, so I pretended to be busy straightening up around the register.


“Here you go. I appreciate this. It’s a birthday gift for my buddy.”

“Would like me to gift wrap it?” I asked, simply wanting to hear him talk some more.


“Could you?”


“Of course, Mr…,” I glanced down at the order form. “Turner. No problem.”


He didn’t move to leave, and I suddenly felt uncomfortable with the way he stared at me. “Is there something else I can help you with?”

He cleared his throat. “Yes. Can you tell me where can I get lunch?”

“There’s Arby’s, KFC, Church’s Chicken, and McDonald’s up yonder on Eufaula Street.”


“I mean real food. I ate Mickey D’s for breakfast, and after being on the road all morning, I’m starving.”


“Well, I’m prejudiced, but Karly’s Kafé around the corner is where I eat whenever I don’t bring lunch from home.”


That smile again. “It’s lunchtime now. Are you going there today?”

I checked the clock and returned his smile. “I’d planned to.”


“Can you show me where it is?”


Was he flirting with me, or was this confident, laid-back manner just his everyday personality? It had been so long since a man flirted with me, I wasn’t sure, but what harm could there be in walking there with him? It was broad daylight, and Karly’s was a little over three hundred steps away. The only reason I knew that piece of trivia was thanks to my FitBit. “Okay. I have to lock up, because my assistant doesn’t come in until later.”


He propped a lean hip against the counter, placed the leather backpack that hung over one brawny shoulder on the counter top and looked inside. “I need to make a call.”


After I pulled the plug on the coffeemaker and hit the power button on the stereo, I listened as he dialed and said, “Spence, I’m going to get lunch somewhere else. If you want to head out, I’ll catch up with you.” Reese listened for a moment and smiled. “Yeah, there is. Okay. Later.” He returned the phone to the well-worn bag. It wasn’t until he turned around that I realized he was wearing his hair in a ponytail. Long hair on a man never appealed to me, but it actually looked good on him, and it was evident his wasn’t chemically straightened. The texture testified of something in his bloodline. Native American, perhaps.

I grabbed my purse from beneath the counter.

“Nice place you have here. Been here long?”


“Thank you. This is my third year.” I took out my keys. “Okay, I’m ready.”


“Is it okay to leave my bike here?”


“Of course. Nobody is going to bother it.”


“All right, I’ll take your word on that.” He stretched out a very muscular arm toward the front door. “Lead the way.”


# # #