Tami's Thoughts (Blog)

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To be released July 14 through Liquid Silver Books – Liquid Silver Books

They were supposed to be enemies, not lovers.

Tanner Lyons is a shifter without a pack, which is just the way he likes it—until he rescues Olivia Bennett, princess of the lightbearers. Suddenly, he finds himself fighting an attraction that makes no sense, because lightbearers and shifters have been mortal enemies since the beginning of time.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

They found him in a no-name bar in a no-name town, playing pool and getting hustled by a human. Tanner spared a moment to determine he would rather continue to be hustled out of his hard earned cash than to talk with the two shifters who stood at the other end of the pool table.

He bent at the waist to take his shot, brushing an errant lock of hair out of his face as he did so. The redheaded woman in the pink shirt and blue jean mini that barely covered her ass noticed the gesture. He wondered how fast he could get rid of the two reminders of a life he’d left behind ten years ago, so he could make a move on the human.

Tanner took his time taking his shot, partially as an excuse to size up the intruders on his shifter-less life. Finnegan Hennigan, coppery hair, pale blue eyes, same age as Tanner, arguably the best tracker in Tanner’s former pack—if not the country. Not surprising they’d found him, with Finn assigned to the task.

The other one was Mickey Rollins, dark hair, dark eyes, a young punk who couldn’t be more than twenty, was probably more like seventeen or eighteen. Tanner remembered him as one of the many in the pack who idolized the pack leader and everything he stood for.

“Your father sent us,” Mickey said when Tanner made no move to acknowledge their presence.

Tanner did not take his eyes off the pool table. “There’s a shadow on the table,” he commented in a gravelly voice that was rough as sandpaper from lack of use. Tanner didn’t talk much. He didn’t have anyone in his life worth talking to.

Mickey scowled, but obligingly shuffled to the side. Finn smirked. Tanner took his shot, a sloppy one that nonetheless landed in the corner pocket. His human opponent nodded his approval and offered a word of advice for the next time he had the same opportunity. Mickey looked enraged that the human was even speaking to Tanner, let alone offering him advice on playing pool.

“He wants to see you, Tanner.” Mickey tried again to pull Tanner’s attention.

“I don’t give a fuck what that bastard wants.” He took another shot and succeeded in pocketing the cue ball.

“He captured a lightbearer.”

Tanner didn’t even lift an eyebrow. “Again? You know, Wyoming doesn’t have a very large human population to begin with. At the rate my father is going, he’s going to wipe them out.”

“It’s for real this time,” Mickey assured him. He glanced at the human pool player, who appeared oblivious to their conversation as he proceeded to run the table.

It’s always “for real this time.”

“Quentin Lyons rules the most powerful shifter pack in the country. He has everything a shifter would want. Why the fuck does he keep wasting his time chasing myths?”

He even had women, any and all the women he could possibly want, Tanner thought ruefully as he eyed the redhead again. Unlike Quentin, Tanner sometimes had to work to attract a warm, willing body into his bed. At a young age, Tanner had become aware that Quentin made a habit of sleeping around, despite having been mated to Tanner’s mother for nearly forty years. Shifters may mate for life, but in Quentin’s world, that didn’t mean they had to stay faithful for life.

Another reason to despise the man.

“It’s not a myth,” Mickey insisted. His eyes darted to Tanner’s human opponent. Discussing business associated with the magical world was strictly off-limits in front of humans, and Tanner knew it was making Mickey nervous that he didn’t seem concerned that the human had overheard any part of their conversation.

“No one can inherit magic from anyone,” Tanner replied, deliberately speaking at a normal level. The human could hear their conversation, Tanner well knew. The thing about humans, he’d learned, was that they only heard what they wanted to hear.

“Quentin says it’s true,” Mickey stubbornly pressed on.

“So that makes it true?” Tanner said with sour amusement in his voice.

“Yes.” Mickey insisted, absolutely convinced.

Finn stood with his back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, observing the interaction but offering no opinion. Tanner wondered if he even had an opinion on the subject, or if he followed blindly like all the rest in Quentin’s pack.

“Tell him I’m not interested in his stupid obsession,” Tanner suggested without looking at the messengers. He didn’t want them to see the guilt in his eyes. All three knew that if Tanner didn’t go back to the pack with Mickey and Finn, Quentin would take out his wrath on the messengers. It had happened plenty of times over the course of the last ten years. Every time they found him.

Time to move again.

Mickey shoved his hand into the front pocket of his jeans and pulled out a scrap of material. It was white with silver and gold thread woven into the material. He thrust the scrap at Tanner. “It’s true,” he insisted. “Feel this. You can still feel her magic.”

The human won the game and Tanner pulled two twenties out of his wallet. “Why don’t you go get us all a round?” he suggested. He wasn’t surprised when the human nodded his head and did Tanner’s bidding. Whether he wanted to acknowledge it or not, he was a natural born leader. Future pack master.

No. I made my choice. I chose to live by my own rules, not his.

He noticed that the redhead lost interest and moved away from the pool table, probably because none of the men in the pool area were paying her any attention. Not all my choices are my own, he thought with disappointment, as her swinging ass disappeared around the corner.

Tanner pulled his eyes away from the sight and studied the scrap of material. In truth, he could feel … something without even touching the stuff. But it had to be a trick of some sort. There were plenty of other magical beings in the universe. Not many that lived in the human world, though. Only the shifters claimed that right. Everybody else had their own worlds in which to live.

“Descendants of the fae,” Mickey said in an excited voice, reciting what they’d all learned as younglings, crouched around Quentin’s knee as he expounded about his obsession. “They moved to our world to get away from the fae, who were so obsessed with them that they wanted to enslave the entire race.”

“I sense a theme here,” Tanner drawled.

Mickey flushed and angrily pressed on. “Their magic is renewable. Everybody knows it.”

“Yeah, I get that they got their magic from the sun,” Tanner acknowledged. He eyed the scrap of material in Mickey’s hand. “But no one has seen a trace of lightbearers in over five hundred years. Somebody wiped them out. Probably our kind, trying to inherit their magic.”

“Probably our kind eating them for dinner,” Finn contributed to the conversation for the first time. “Back then we were slightly more primal.”

“Slightly,” Tanner remarked tongue-in-cheek. Finn smirked. Tanner recalled how they used to hang out together as kids. They’d shifted for the first time together. Now, Finn was Quentin’s best tracker and Tanner was doing his best to avoid getting sucked back into the pack. Time and change and all that.

“If a shifter kills a lightbearer, he’ll inherit its magic.” Mickey refused to give up on Quentin’s obsession.

Considering the only magic a shifter possessed was the ability to change forms at will, it was a heady idea to be able to steal another creature’s magic. Especially for one who considered himself to be the top of the food chain, even without much magic.

“Touch it,” Mickey demanded as he waved the bit of material in Tanner’s face.

Tanner batted at the material, if only to push it away. His fingers skimmed the surface. A jolt shot through his system, so raw and potent that his entire body reacted as if he’d been electrocuted.

“Told ya,” Mickey said triumphantly.

“Give me that,” Tanner said as he snatched the torn bit of material out of Mickey’s hand. He held it, reveling in the feel of magic there. It felt … intoxicating. “Where did you get this?” he breathed as he stared at the gold and silver thread that wove a pattern through the white material.

“The lightbearer. Your father figured you wouldn’t come, unless you had proof.”

Tanner continued to stare at the material. It wasn’t true—was it? Tanner—and a great many other shifters—believed they didn’t really exist. His father had never let go of the belief that they were simply hiding, and all he had to do was find one of them. Just one.

Was his father right all along?

Fates be damned, but Tanner certainly hoped not. He’d spent the better part of his life desperately hating the man for what he represented, for how he ruled his pack, for the way he treated Tanner’s mother and every other woman in his pack. Most of all, he’d hated the man for his obsession over a race of magical creatures that Tanner had been certain no longer existed.

Tanner didn’t understand his father’s obsession. The man was already pack master over one of the largest and most respected—or at least feared—packs in the country. He didn’t need magic to gain prestige and power. He already had it all.

“Come on, Tanner,” Mickey begged. “He won’t let none of us see her until you come back to the pack. He says you get the first honor. Come on.”

Tanner continued to stare at the scrap of material for a few more moments, pondering his decision. Finally, he tossed the pool stick onto the table. “Damn it to hell,” he muttered as he turned and strode from the pool area, out of the bar and into the cool summer evening air.

Damn the man for luring him back like this.

* * * *

Pre-order details coming soon! In the meantime, feel free to check out my other books, available above. As always, if you read it and like it, please leave a review!

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Today, I welcome Carter James to my blog. Carter is Allison’s main squeeze (most of the time) from The Resort series. This series started about a year and a half ago, when Allison and Carter met while she was trying to sneak into the exclusive high-end resort and Carter was just doing his job by keeping out the riffraff. Since then, they’ve encountered would-be murderers, obsessive artists, his con-artist ex-wife, and a slutty wedding planner who was more concerned with hooking up with Carter than doing what she was paid to do. That’s all beside the attentions of hot detective Dan McIntyre, who, in the final book of the series, finally makes his move on Allison. Will Carter get the girl in the end?

This interview was featured on another blog just a few days ago, and I thought Carter did such a great job, I figured I’d feature him on my blog too. Enjoy, and don’t forget to click on the buy links at the bottom.

The Resort Nook 150

 

What’s your name?

Carter James

 

 

How old are you?

Thirty-two

 

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m in security. I own a security firm. My brother, Ben, is my partner, although he doesn’t really do much other than shmooze the clients. Which I suppose is necessary because I’m not really good at that sort of thing. Like this. Not my thing. I’m not a fan of being in the spotlight.

Anyway, we started J&J Security about seven years ago in Dallas, which is where I’m from. About, oh, two years ago, I was given the opportunity to move up here to northern Michigan to oversee security for The Resort. It’s this exclusive resort where the wealthy and sometimes famous go to basically hide from the rest of the world. My job is to make sure they’re kept safe and hidden for as long as they want to be.

 

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less.

Yeah, this is kind of awkward. Can we move on to another question? …Okay, fine. My girlfriend Allison says I’m sort of like James Bond. I mean, that’s cool, if it’s true, but I don’t know. I just try to take care of myself and those I love and do the best I can, you know?

 

Would you kill for those you love?

This is a loaded question because my sister was killed during a random shooting at a nightclub about ten years ago. That’s actually what inspired me to get into the security business because that club had shit for security. If they’d had someone like me or someone on my team there, that shooting never would have happened and my sister would still be alive. So would I kill for someone I love? Used to be not a day went by that I didn’t imagine killing the asshole who shot my sister.

 

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?

My weakness is definitely my girlfriend, Allison Bell. I don’t know why but that woman got under my skin the very first time we met, and my affliction just gets worse every day. If she knew that I would figure out a way to pull the moon from the sky for her, well… She probably wouldn’t believe it (laughs), which I guess is part of what makes her so damn irresistible.

 In the same vein, I think Allison is my strength too. She is so caring and loving and smart. She inspires me every day. Which is also funny because she truly has no idea about that either. In case you haven’t noticed, she’s a little naive too. But I guess that just adds to the overall package.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why?

Definitely my relationship with Allison. Despite the fact that she keeps trying to spread her wings or whatever bullshit she comes up with when she picks a fight just so she can be “free” for a little while. But the thing about Allison is, she needs someone to watch over her, to protect her, mostly from herself. Remember when I said she was naive? Well, that naivety tends to get her into hot water all too frequently. I spend half my day worrying about whether or not she’ll inadvertently get caught up in some stupid crap that she shouldn’t. And with Allison, it’s never easy to disentangle herself from whatever the hell she got mixed up in.

 

Do you have any phobias?

Fear of losing Allison. Is that a phobia?

 

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

I’m just a guy. A guy who loves a girl and runs a business. Seriously. I’m not really all that complicated, despite what Allison thinks.

The Resort III - Holiday In Dallas by Tami Lund

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.

I live in this tiny town in northern Michigan. The winter population’s around five hundred. During the summer months the tourists’ll push it up to a thousand, maybe fifteen hundred. I’m from Dallas, so you can imagine the culture shock I experienced when I first moved here. For the first few months, I admit, I thought a lot about moving back. But if I’d left, I’d never have met Allison, so it was definitely worth staying. Even if everyone in this damn town knows your business practically before you do it.

 

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?

Once a month, back to Dallas, which is where my company’s main office is located. Before I took on this contract with The Resort, I used to travel all over the country to meet with other clients, but managing security for The Resort is a full time job, so my brother does most of the traveling now.

 

Name and describe a food from your world.

(Laughs) Well, I’m from Texas, and we have the world’s best Tex Mex, hands down. And now that  I’m living in northern Michigan, I can tell you, there is nothing like a good Tex Mex restaurant. It’s just about the only thing I miss about Texas, to tell you the truth.

 

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?

If I were some other kind of guy I’d make a crack about the magic happening in my bedroom. But I’m not that guy.

The Resort IV - Valentine's Day at the Resort

 What form of politics is dominant in your world? 

 Oh, this place is like a world of its own. Gossip is their politics. Small towns are like that, I’ve       learned. You want to know anything about anybody, just go hang out at the local ice cream parlor.   These people have turned gossip into an art. In the wintertime, it’s all they do. Seriously. That’s why I don’t like doing this publicity type stuff. I don’t like to be the one they all talk about.

 

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people.

This is a small town. These people probably believe the loch ness monster lives out there in Messenger Lake.

Is that it? Well, thanks for asking me to do this interview. What’s this for again? You aren’t going to make me look like a sap in Allison’s eyes, are you? I mean, not that I buy into her whole James Bond theory (nervous laugh), but you have to admit that’s a nice stroke for a guy’s ego. So just make sure I sound Bond-like, okay?

Okay?

 

Want to learn more about Carter? Purchase the books below:

The Resort:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Resort-Tami-Lund-ebook/dp/B00AXD8CGI/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=17NGFAX83A9FTVXFAYRP

The Resort – Artist’s Obsession: http://www.amazon.com/Artists-Obsession-Resort-Tami-Lund-ebook/dp/B00C45BTBS/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0579H19GQR6K0MCJAE9F

The Resort – Holiday in Dallas: http://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Dallas-Resort-Tami-Lund-ebook/dp/B00DPN3Z5G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1399425497&sr=8-2&keywords=tami+lund

The Resort – Valentine’s Day at The Resort: http://www.amazon.com/Valentines-Day-at-The-Resort-ebook/dp/B00HO2YMT2/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0R80P12TJVBRY1X6Y3BW

Coming in June, 2014: Summertime at The Resort!

The Resort 5 black

Where, besides here, can you stalk the author?

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTamiLund?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/TamiLundAuthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5169798.Tami_Lund

http://tjlund1.tumblr.com

 

KindlingthePast600x800 cover art FINAL

Sometimes, I get sick of talking about myself. Okay, not really, but I figure you all do. That’s why I decided it was time to add a little spice to my blog. Bring in some new blood. Introduce a fabulous new author who puts out some truly entertaining books from one of my favorite publishers, Liquid Silver Books (http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com). So, without further boring ado, please read on and meet…. M.S. Kaye!

Thank you, Tami, for having me!

Welcome to my Quick Tips Blog Tour. I’ve put together ten short, easy writing tips to share. Follow my tour to see them all. Tour stops will be posted on my website: http://booksbymsk.com/?page_id=616

Quick Tip 5:

Be a tease!

Make your book un-put-down-able. Don’t let your point-of-view character share everything, but choose the bits of info that will make the reader think hmm, I wonder what that means…

You can do this throughout a book, even with little things. Constantly tease, let the reader discover something, and then tease some more. Keep them curious, wondering.

Just don’t confuse them or make them wait the whole book to learn some of the secrets. Flirting is great, but you do eventually have to put out.

Kindling the Past

by M.S. Kaye

Kindle is fighting to survive on her own, to break free from her possessive and violent ex-boyfriend, and trying not to let her best friend, Anna, know she’s in love with her husband. Most of all, she fights the visions she sees of the past—she doesn’t believe in that kind of stuff.

Then Anna is shot and killed.

In their grief, Kindle and Ty, Anna’s husband and Kindle’s Taekwondo instructor, grow closer. Although Kindle is careful never to let him too close, he helps her learn to accept that her visions are real. Eventually, the truth about Anna’s death breaks through into Kindle’s visions, and she must find a way not to let it destroy her.

Author Bio:

author pic

M.S. Kaye has several published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband, Corey, in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at www.BooksByMSK.com.

Contact M. S. Kaye at:

www.Facebook.com/BooksByMSK

www.Twitter.com/MSKosciuszko

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7222522.M_S_Kaye

Excerpt:

Prologue

I fought the visions. My mother used to tell me my expression turned stupid when I had them, but I didn’t care about that so much anymore. I hated when the visions were true somehow, actual bits of the past. I didn’t believe in that kind of stuff.

Chapter 1: Fight

“She’s such a snob,” one of the young women whispered on the other side of the locker room.

I stayed faced away, trying not to hear their gossip. I tugged my jeans on and pulled my shirt over my head. When I glanced in the mirror to fix my hair, I barely saw the dark brown framing my fair skin—only the way the other girls looked at me. I bent over to pick up my shoes.

“The guys don’t even ask her out because she’s so stuck up.”

I didn’t understand why they thought like this about me, but I didn’t much care anyway. As soon as I had my shoes on, I threw my gear bag over my shoulder and walked out.

Master Trahem was on the workout floor sparring with Mr. Schmidt. Master Trahem’s uniform was starting to come open, and sweat glistened on his well-built chest.

I looked away.

“Bye, Kindle,” Mrs. Trahem said as I passed the front counter. “See you tomorrow.”

I smiled at her, one of the few people I reserved my genuine smile for. She was a big part of the reason I came in early to help every day, her and her atrocious typing skills. She always held her fingers above the keys like a fisherman wielding a spear, as if expecting them to squirm out from under her aim.

But honestly, helping with data entry was just an excuse—Mrs. Trahem was the best person I’d ever known, and I felt calmer when I was around her.

“You’ll be there early, right?” Mrs. Trahem added. She tucked her silky dark hair behind her ear. There was a grace to her movement. No wonder Master Trahem had married her so quickly. At twenty-nine, she was a few years older than me but looked just as young.

“Definitely.” Then I kept walking. Before I gave into the urge to turn and watch Master Trahem.

The girls from the locker room followed me out into the parking lot. I sat in my car and started the engine.

While I drove the forty-five minutes home, I fought to stay awake. At least traffic at nine-thirty at night was thin. I always missed rush hour. I left my apartment before six every morning and didn’t return until after ten. Being tired felt normal.

As I pulled up to my building, I examined each car. I knew to whom each of them belonged, as well as half my neighbors’ friends’ cars. The girl across the hall traded boyfriends every week. She drove me nuts.

I had no way of knowing what Chris was driving. I had to know which cars were supposed to be here in order to know if there was a new one. Most of my neighbors drove beaters like me, and Chris had always liked something flashy. But with him, I couldn’t depend on consistency. He was smart.

I recognized all the cars tonight. I parked under the streetlight and kept the door locked while I pulled my gear bag onto my lap and slipped the strap over my shoulder. Keys ready, I jumped out of the car and jogged up the steps. I hated apartment buildings in Florida. The halls were open, no security doors to block unwanted visitors from knocking on your front door, from lurking in shadowy corners.

Within about ten seconds, I was up the stairs, down the hall, and at my door. Just being able to move quickly without running out of breath was worth the cost of Taekwondo classes. I felt more confident, less scared.

My door unlocked, I glanced down the hall one more time then slipped inside. I closed the door, locked it, and flipped the lights.

I was not alone.

He was right there, tall, thick, and blond as always. I was seeing as clearly as if through acid. I blinked to make sure he was really there. I always did that. It was stupid.

Chris was always there.

Want to read more? You can purchase Kindling the Past using any of the links below:

 

 

 

This has been a busy week. Besides the usual (the job that pays the bills, the family, the geriatric, slightly senile dog), it’s been an incredibly busy writing week too.

I’ve promised the final book in The Resort series in May, and since I’ve signed up for a couple of marketing campaigns to coincide, I really don’t have a choice with that one. I realize May is two months away, however, while the book is written, I’m still working my way through final editing and I haven’t even begun to work up the concept for the cover yet. Well, that’s not true. We know it will be pink and blue, right? Yeah, I have a ways to go…

In addition to that, I have a paranormal series that I’ve been giving serious thought to self-publishing, so I’ve been editing the heck out of it, mostly because I’m avoiding the create-a-cover process. I have an idea in my head, I’m just not sure I can pull it off, which, in truth, is the main reason this series hasn’t been offered up to you as of yet.

As if that isn’t enough, I have been querying publishers and participating in pitch contests. Trust me, I have a lot of material to get out to you, my readers. I just need to determine the best way to do it.

All of this has had positive results, in the form of potential interest from a few publishers, which is super exciting — and means a lot more work to do. I’m okay with that, because this is what I want to do and love to do, but what it means (for this week anyway) is that I did not carve out the time to put together a blog post for you all.

I think that’s okay though, because right about the time I started stressing about this, I received an email from someone else’s blog for which I had signed up, and guess what the blog consisted of? An excerpt from a recently published book. Which, of course, I read. Why not? I also added it to my Goodreads “to read” list, which I’m guessing was the author’s intent. Win, win for everyone.

So today I am a copycat. And maybe a cop-out, but let’s not go there. Read on, for a little taste of the second book in The Resort series — Artist’s Obsession. Considering the final installment,Summertime at The Resort, is coming out in just a few short weeks, I am giving serious consideration to providing excerpts to all four of the currently available Resort books. Not because that would make my weekly blog decision super easy (although it would), but because I want you to have a taste of what you’re missing, if you haven’t read the books, and a taste of what’s to come, when Summertime is released.

Enjoy!

****

“How do you feel?”

The bed shifted, and I cracked one eye to see my live-in boyfriend, Carter James, sitting on the side of the bed, looking at me.

“Like I drank too much crappy liquor last night.”

I smacked my lips and Carter handed me a bottle of water from the bedside table.  “Thanks,” I said, touched, despite myself, at his thoughtfulness.

“Do you want to talk about last night?”

This was an interesting question, because Carter was known for using as few words as possible to get his point across, while I could chatter on and on with the best of them.

“Which part?” The only part of last night I recollected clearly was the argument Carter and I had, right before I stormed out of the house and headed to the local bar – alone.

“You didn’t check your messages.”

I glanced at the floor, where my skirt lay in a heap. I assumed my cell phone was still in the pocket.

“I forgot.”

“You were drunk,” Carter amended. “Bree’s opening reception was last night. For the art show. She wanted you to come up to The Resort.”

The art show. When I first met my best friend, beautiful blond bombshell Bree Jefferson, she was a professional socialite. Two months ago, she hung up her socialite hat and decided to join the working class, by convincing the general manager of The Resort to hire her as the marketing manager. The Resort was an exclusive resort that catered solely to the very wealthy. The locals didn’t get invited inside the tall, stone, grey walls of The Resort unless they worked there.

I worked there myself for about two weeks this past summer. But then a guest attending a luncheon cornered me in the hall and tried to feel me up, my knee connected with a certain part of his anatomy, and my boss thought I reacted a bit harshly, so he showed me the door.

Bree’s first task was to increase off-season business. Since my hometown of Lovejoy, where The Resort was located, was in northern Michigan, in an area with no ski hills, off-season was pretty much September through May. Sure, the fall colors were spectacular and we saw a fair number of snowmobilers and cross country skiers, but aside from two weeks in November during deer hunting season, the population around tiny, back woods Lovejoy hovered around five hundred people during the off-season. Bree’s first task – put together a successful art show during October, when it was as likely to snow as it was to be sixty degrees and sunny – would be her hardest.

Like everything else she did, Bree threw herself wholeheartedly and without reservation, into her job. She decided a fall art show was the perfect way to bring the wealthy and elite to our small up north town.

Feeling a horrible sense of foreboding, I leaned over the bed, snagged my skirt with a finger, pulled the cell phone out of the pocket and dropped the skirt back onto the floor. I typed in the password and 5 missed calls lit up the screen for a moment, before it was replaced with 2 new voice mails. I listened to the voice mails. The first was from Carter:

 

Hey Allison. Bree wants you to come up to The Resort for her opening reception tonight. It started at seven. Sorry, I’ve been so busy I forgot to tell you.

 

I noticed he didn’t sound angry. Apparently, our argument had been one-sided.

The second one was from Bree:

 

Allison, where are you? Carter said he’s been calling but you aren’t answering your phone. Come up to The Resort. It’s a blast with all these crazy artists. It’ll probably go on half the night, so come over as soon as you get this. Miss you!

 

I deleted them both and tried to push away my guilt. I’d been busy drinking away my perceived woos while Carter had been at The Resort, helping Bree with her first big event. They’d both wanted me there, Bree probably actually needed me there, and I’d simply ignored them.

Well, I hadn’t actually ignored them. Wait, yes I did. I ignored Carter’s calls, I remembered, at least the first couple. After that, I was just too drunk to realize my phone was ringing. Which made me feel guilty all over again.

“It looks like you’re having a helluva conversation in your head, Allison. Care to share?”

Carter and I were opposites in many ways, and this was just one example. He could easily hide every emotion, any time, and in fact, I think he had to work to actually show emotion. The only way I could remotely read him was by watching his eyes, and even then it was still fifty-fifty. His eyes were a steely grey color, but when he was angry or turned on, they tended to fade to black. Problem was, I usually wasn’t sure whether I was pissing him off or turning him on, until I was either flat on my back or he was storming from the room and slamming the door in frustration.

On the other end of the spectrum, I was an open book. I would make a lousy poker player because every emotion was spelled out on my face as it drifted through my head.

To buy myself time because I wasn’t really sure what to say, I stood up and went into the bathroom. I used the toilet, brushed my teeth, washed my face and wrapped myself in Carter’s black terrycloth robe, which I found hanging on the back of the door.

When I stepped out of the bathroom, Carter lounged against the headboard with his hands clasped behind his head. Despite the argument we had last night – the one that incited me to go out to the bar alone and subsequently get so drunk that someone had to drive me home – just looking at Carter, sitting on the bed, half naked, gave me all sorts of ideas that did not involve actually talking through our problems. He really did have a gorgeous chest, and that errant lock of dark hair that drooped over his left eyebrow…

I shook off the tempting thoughts, knowing that we needed to talk about what happened last night. Carter and I were not very good about talking through our issues, so I figured it would take us half a dozen tries before we got it right. Might as well start now. I walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, next to his legs, with my back to him, so that the sight of his chest wouldn’t further tempt me.

“The detective dropped you off last night.”

So that’s how I got home.

The detective to whom he referred was Dan McIntyre, a detective for the Messenger Lake Police Department, the slightly-larger-than-Lovejoy town located on the north end of the lake.

I met Dan back in August, when some guy tried to run my car off the road, and then ended up dead in a ditch the next day. No, I did not kill him, but I was a person of interest for about five seconds. It was long enough for Dan to develop a more personal interest in me.

Dan happened to be quite an attractive man, and despite my budding relationship with Carter, I was mildly attracted to him too. I haven’t actually done anything about that attraction, but unfortunately, it was mutual, and Dan was not afraid to push his boundaries with me. Whenever we ran into each other, he had a habit of stealing a kiss before we parted ways. I still haven’t determined how I felt about that, so I haven’t yet done anything about his actions – such as tell him to stop.

“He suggested that you might not be entirely happy in our relationship,” Carter added when I didn’t say anything.

I cringed inside, because I could only recall snatches of the conversations I had with Dan last night. I did, unfortunately, recall that I’d used him as a sounding board, complaining about Carter and the way he insisted upon protecting me all the damn time, even when I didn’t need protecting. I also recalled that Dan’s response involved my breaking up with Carter and dating him instead.

I’ve noticed that Dan wasn’t particularly afraid to express his feelings.

“That’s not really it,” I said on a sigh.

“Then what is it?” Carter asked. He wasn’t angry yet, I didn’t think, but I could tell that it wouldn’t take much to push him over the edge, and then any thoughts of making up would go out the window, since my reaction to Carter’s anger tended to involve throwing up my hands and storming away from the situation.

“I’m feeling a little stir crazy lately,” I finally blurted.

“Why?”

“I guess I kind of feel… Useless. I think my job for you is completely made up just so you have an excuse to pay me a salary, because otherwise I would feel the need to go out and find a different job. And if I have a different job, I wouldn’t be under your thumb and you’d hate it.”

It wasn’t exactly what I’d been angry about the night before, but I was still pretty proud of the fact that I’d managed to get all of that out without mangling it. I glanced at Carter. His eyes were dark, and I didn’t think it was because he was turned on.

“Allison, you aren’t useless. And I’ve needed an office manager for a while. I just didn’t like the idea of someone in my home all day while I was at work. You were perfect for the job because you live here, and you needed a job. And surprisingly, you happen to be pretty good at being my office manager.”

I ignored the barb about being surprised that I was good at the job – I did have a brain, after all – and blew out a shaky breath because he’d done a decent job of reassuring me that at least one portion of my concerns were for naught, and yet I still felt… Frustrated.

“The office manager job doesn’t take all my time. I’m usually done by one or so.”

Carter’s lips quirked. “Maybe we need to adjust your salary.”

Well, hell, that wasn’t what I wanted to accomplish. I liked my salary. It was the best salary I’ve ever made. I could actually go out and rent my own place on the salary he paid me.

“Or maybe you need to stop trying to keep me under your thumb.”

“I don’t try to keep you under my thumb,” Carter denied. “I just need to know you’re safe.”

“We live in Lovejoy, Carter. Nothing dangerous happens here.”

He gave me a look that told me he hadn’t quite forgotten what happened two months ago, when Bree’s mother went on an attempted murder rampage, and I kept accidentally getting into the way.But I didn’t die, I wanted to shout at him.

Instead, I said, “Maybe you need to let me do more stuff for you. Stuff that involves getting out of the house. Stuff that involves more action.”

“You want more action?” I didn’t like the inflection or the tone of his voice.

“Yes,” I said stubbornly.

“Is that why you went to the bar last night? Were you looking for action?”

I could tell we were moving into stormy seas here. “No. I went to the bar last night because I wanted to go to The Resort and you wouldn’t let me, because you said I would just get in the way.” I waved at the cell phone that was now lying on the bedside table. “And then you call and tell me to come anyway. I got sick of you telling me what to do all the time.”

“I do not tell you what to do.”

I snorted in response and Carter rolled his eyes. This conversation was deteriorating fast.

“Are you PMS-ing?”

Really fast.

“No. Why is it any time I’m in a bad mood, you think I’m PMS-ing?”

“Because you usually are.”

“If I were PMS-ing every time you accused me of it, I’d be on the rag three weeks a month instead of one.”

“Fine,” Carter snapped. His hands were no longer clasped behind his head. His arms were crossed over his chest now.

“I do tell you what to do, but that’s because someone has to. Otherwise you end up dancing on bars in your underwear or coming home drunk with a man who wants to get in your pants almost as much as I do. Hell, he probably wants you worse because I’ve already had you.”

What I didn’t like about Carter’s proclamation that Dan wanted me more than he did was the implication that Carter was already tiring of me, which was something I’ve feared from the first moment we met. When we met, we went from toe-curling sex up against the wall in the hallway in his house to living together all in the course of a week. His feelings for me were so intense, I was certain they’d start to cool at some point. I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

Emotion overwhelmed me, and I could feel my eyes welling with tears, so I jumped up and rushed into the shower. “Allison,” Carter called after me, but I slammed the bathroom door.

Unfortunately, the master bathroom did not have a lock on the door, and shortly after I stepped into the shower, I heard the door open and Carter walked in. I braced myself for a new fight, even though I was now licking my wounds and in no frame of mind to spar with him.

Instead, I heard the sound of water splashing in the sink and the sounds of him brushing his teeth, and then the door opened and closed again and he was gone. I blew out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding, and stayed in the shower until I used up all the hot water. When I finally emerged from the bathroom, Carter was gone. The coffee pot was full and there was a note on the kitchen counter:

 

Went for a run. Going up to The Resort later, if you want to go with me.  C.

 

His version of extending an olive branch of sorts, but I wasn’t ready to accept it. It appeared by the note that he’d only figured out half of my problem. Of course, the fear that he would tire of me hadn’t reared its ugly head until the end of the argument, so if I were in a better frame of mind, I would know that I couldn’t expect him to figure that one out.

I poured a cup of coffee, doctored it with creamer, and took it with me back into the bedroom. I picked up my cell phone off the bedside table and called Bree.

“Hey,” I said when she answered. “What are you doing?”

“Going crazy. This art show is so much work, I’m going to need two weeks sitting on the beach in Mexico to make up for it.”

I laughed. “I’m sorry about last night. I didn’t even realize you were having a reception and I didn’t get my messages until this morning.”

I pictured Bree waving her hand as if she were swatting a fly, as she said, “Don’t worry about it. It was a last minute thing I threw together. I originally did not expect so many artists to actually stay here at The Resort. But lodging is limited in Lovejoy and we have so many suites here. I filled about seventy-five percent of them with patrons, and the rest I opened up to artists, so I figured a reception last night would be a nice chance for everyone to mingle.”

She paused and added, “Carter seemed off yesterday. Were you guys fighting?”

I sighed. “We’ve been snipping at each other for days. I’m starting to get a little worried,” I admitted, because she was my best friend and I knew she would understand.

“Don’t be worried. Just talk to him. That man is so in love with you, he’d figure out a way to walk on water if you asked him to.”

Shows what she knew. “I think he’s losing interest already.”

Bree snorted, which always sounded funny coming from her, since she resembled a Barbie doll in appearance, and Barbie would never do something so unladylike. “Oh please, Allison. You must be PMS-ing or something. The man falls more in love with you by the day.”

“I’m not PMS-ing,” I said with a little more force than necessary.

Why did it feel like everyone was accusing me of PMS-ing?

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