Saturday, September 30, 2017

New Release: Guarding My Heart by S.C. Wynne


Hello, all!


I had a new release last week. Well, actually a new re-release. If that's a thing. I added over twenty thousand words and I completely rewrote the ending. It's even in Kindle Unlimited, which i usually only do with re-releases so far.

Here's the blurb:

Liam Carlington is a spoiled rich kid. He’s been acting out since his childhood love, Paul devastated him by marrying a woman. Liam drops out of college and is drinking and partying way too much. When his current bodyguard is injured in a bar fight, a new bodyguard replaces him. 

His new protector, Scott Jackson is gorgeous, and tough. He’s back after a break from the job after losing a client. He’s attracted to his new charge, and Liam is aggressive about how much he would love to get Scott in bed. But Scott is worried Liam is just a using him for a sexual fling.

As the two men grow closer, it becomes obvious the threats against Liam's life are horribly real. Both men can't help but wonder if they'll even live long enough to figure out their feelings toward each other.


Hope you all enjoy the book. I'm working on the third Mpreg book right now in my Bodyguards and Babies series.

S.C.
www.sc-wynne.com

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Up for the Challenge


Did you hear? I have a new book out with Devon McCormack. UP FOR THE CHALLENGE is available now exclusively from Amazon.



ETHAN:

I'm not used to anyone having the upper hand over me, and in a single night, Sean Wright rescues me twice. That's why he intrigues me--why for the first time, I want another man. I'm used to getting what I want, and I don't plan to let anything stop me. Only...he continues to get the best of me, and it only makes me want him more. When I start to see Sean's not just good looks, hot sex, and constant competition, I realize I'm in over my head...and I might like it. He makes me laugh, and he understands the pain I feel over my past, a pain we share. Even more than that, somehow, Sean gets me, but I'm not going to lie and pretend that giving my heart doesn't scare me.

SEAN:

The night I rescued the presumably straight Ethan Harris...twice, I figured that would be the last time I saw him. However, he keeps finding his way back into my life and into my bed. Guess he wasn't as straight as I thought. Ethan's full of surprises, though, and being bi is just one of them. As cocky as he can be, he's also sharp and witty...and even when he's being his most arrogant self, he's charming as hell. He likes to win, but so do I. However, as we get to know each other, I realize there's more to us than the games we play in and out of the bedroom. It's a game neither of us have played before--one we could both wind up losing. And with our hearts on the line, the real question is, when push comes to shove, are we both up for the challenge?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ask Andrew - Author Influence


Dear Andrew

Who were the three authors who most influenced you?"

Hugs
Dawn

Dear Dawn

I have been influenced by many authors and its hard to pick just three.  However I'm going to try.

Ariel Tachna is the first.  I read much of her work, especially early on when I was starting to write romance.  It touched me and I loved the stories, but I also read those book for craft and story development.  They helped me learn what made a good romance and how to structure my stories to help make them more interesting.

Clive Cussler.  I read all his Dirk Pitt books for years. They had action, drama, and excitement.  I really enjoyed them and have tried to put elements of those mysteries and excitement into my stories.  I love it when I can make my own heard pound in my work because hopefully it will translate to the reader.

Rhianne Alle  She was one of the very first authors that I got to meet and talk to in person.  I was blessed enough to have bene able to sit down and talk to her about story and craft.  She took the time to help me develop and grow my stories, providing insight and help along the way.  I will forever be grateful to her and for all those authors who have been part of my life.

Hugs and Love Always
Andrew

Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.

So if you have a question, please send it to andrewgreybooks@comcast.net.  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Kneeling by Cardeno C.


Kneeling shows deference and respect - proposing marriage, praying. Players kneeling during the anthem show their respect for what our country promises to be and remind us that the respect isn't yet given equally to all who live here, in particular people of color. They do so because they have a platform and some level of power others don't. They do so because they want you to hear them.


If you can't see that, consider listening more. Then listen again. And then again.


Remember that Rosa Parks wasn't protesting transportation. Remember that the people at the diner counters weren't protesting food. Remember Reverend King's words as he sat in a Birmingham jail for protesting. Remember yourself as a child when you first heard these stories and wondered how anyone could have gotten angry at these people, these causes, these protests.

And then look at what you're saying and doing now. How are you using the platforms and power available to you to help others?

CC

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Keeping Calm by S.C. Wynne


Morning all!

Do you find yourself not watching the news?  I used to watch MSNBC every night and I've noticed lately I don't even want to look. It's like that scene in Aliens when the creature is about to eat Ripley and the little girl she's holding, and she says to the child, "Don't look, baby." lol

There is just so much going on from earthquakes in Mexico, N. Korea beating it's chest and Hurricane fill in the blank threatening our coasts. It's almost impossible for me to watch the news and keep an upbeat attitude. And I think keeping a positive attitude is critical. It's critical for my mental health and it's important if only to keep focused on the things that matter; family, friends etc.

One thing that I do is I lose myself in movies and books. I absolutely love Agatha Christie's Poirot series and I could watch and rewatch those over and over. The sets and the acting are so beautifully done it just relaxes me instantly.

What do you do that helps you relax? Do you read? Go out with friends? Hide in a cave and cry into a hanky? lol

Let me know!

S.C.

www.sc-wynne.com

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fall questions with BA, Julia, Kiernan and Sean


Hey y'all!

BA is out of the hospital for now, and the Mayo clinic is supposed to call. Thanks to all for all the well wishes and help!

Today we did some fun fall Qs

Pumpkin Spice, yes or no?

Favorite apple thing.

Cinnamon rolls or blueberry muffins?

Turkey or ham?

Coffee or hot chocolate, and what's your favorite flavor of it?

Kiernan

1. Ew. Pumpkins are meant to be carved or baked into pies, not drunk.

2. Baked apples with cinnamon and brown sugar, or honeycrisp apples in salad.

3. Blueberry muffins. Yum!

4. Turkey. I look forward to Thanksgiving every year just for the leftvovers.

5. Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffeeshutupcoffee. French Quarter blend, with chicory, please!

B.a.

1. Sure, but I want it with 1/2 the sweet, almond milk, and an extra shot of espresso

2. Apple piei!

3. Blueberry muffins

4. Yes please.

5. Coffee. Totally coffee. UItterly coffee. I love them all.

Sean

1. Yes, but not on absolutely everything – it does not belong on many things that it is now being put on. For instance – not in my white hot chocolate. Please!

2. I like apples just as they are. Give me a good crisp MacIntosh or a Spartan and I am happy.

3. Cinnamon rolls for sure.

4. Eh, neither is my favorite. If the question had been turkey or pork, I totally would have said pork, no question. I like turkey once or twice a year with gravy, and then in a sandwich the next day. Ham I love with a good glaze on it, especially if there are crispy caramelized bits.

5. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t even like coffee flavour in anything. So yes, hot chocolate, and I prefer the white hot chocolate with whip from Second Cup, please.

Heh, I started and ended with white hot chocolate - maybe it's time to head to Second Cup....

Julia

Yes. I love it in all sorts of things, even Febreeze

Apple pie with ice cream

Both. Though blueberry muffins are easier gluten free

Turkey. My girl cooks them all winter

Coffee. Adult hot chocolate is good though

XXOO

Julia

http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

Julia’s is http://www.juliatalbot.com

BA’s is http://www.batortuga.com

Kiernan's is www.KiernanKelly.com

Facebook:

Sean -- https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites

Julia -- https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

BA -- https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

Kiernan -- https://www.facebook.com/kiernan.kelly

Monday, September 18, 2017

Contemporary, Sexy Romance Novel - On Sale for 99¢! by Cardeno C.


 

PERFECT IMPERFECTIONS - ONE OF MY MOST POPULAR BOOKS - IS ON SALE FOR 99¢ TODAY!

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Here's an excerpt for you:
Arching his eyebrows and twisting his lips in amusement, Reg said, “You’re saying you chose your musical instrument based on sex, which you don’t even like all that much?”
“That’s only one part of what I said. And besides, it was more the idea of sex. I started playing guitar when I was in middle school. It’s not like I’d done the deed at that point.”
“Okay, fine.” Reg rolled his eyes. “You chose to play guitar for a living because of theoretical sex and fame?”
“Yeah.” Jeremy nodded. “That’s about right.”
Sighing, Reg shook his head. “You can hear yourself, right?”
Jeremy wriggled around until he was comfortable and then lay on his side, facing Reg. “It’s not a weird answer, believe it or not. I bet most guitar players have the same two reasons, along with, ‘Because it looks cool.’ The only difference is they won’t admit it. I’m not screaming it from the rooftops either; usually I give some spiel about being inspired by my father. But you asked me for the truth, and you’re my pretend boyfriend, so I gave it to you.”
With a chuckle, Reg said, “Are you always one hundred percent honest in your pretend relationships?”
“This is my first one, so, yeah.”
“Fair enough. How about in your real relationships? Are you always completely honest?”
It didn’t take long for Jeremy to come up with several examples of situations when he’d been less than honest with his ex-girlfriends. “No. I haven’t always been honest.”
“Why not?”
After giving it some thought, Jeremy realized the fundamental reason was always the same. “It’s easier that way.”
“How do you mean?”
“I told you how it is with people in this industry. They’re not with me because of me, and even if they are, it’s a small part. Mostly, it’s the mystique of dating a musician or someone famous, or a hope that they’ll elevate their own careers. With people like that, there’s inevitable disappointment because what they came into the relationship wanting and what they end up getting aren’t the same thing. The last thing I need to do is add to that frustration and resentment and guarantee some tell-all exposé. So instead of being brutally honest, I spew the garbage they want to hear.”
Reg cleared his throat and licked his lips. “Uh, JJ, I don’t think what you’re describing is a real relationship.”
“What do you mean? Sure they are. Some people stick it out longer than others, but usually we stay together for close to a year at least. That’s a decent length of time for a relationship.”
“I know. But like with my brother and his wife, they fight and stuff, but they’re in it together. It’s not about what they can get from each other. Even my parents, before my dad died, they were like a team. Do you get what I’m saying?”
In theory, Jeremy knew, but that wasn’t his reality. “It’s not like that when you live your life in the spotlight.”
“I’m sorry,” Reg said, and he looked sad as he said it. “That must be really hard and lonely.”
“It’s fine.” Jeremy shrugged. “It’s all I know.”
Reg squared his shoulders and narrowed his eyes. It was his determined stance. Jeremy had seen it whenever the man was about to embark on a challenge nobody else would dare try. He had seen Reg dive off a bridge against the advice of the bungee-jump operator because his cord was so long that most of his body dipped into the lake underneath, face included. His expression had looked exactly the same when he had jumped off, and when he had bounced back, he had been smiling from ear to ear.
“Not anymore,” Reg said.
“What do you mean?” Jeremy asked.
“You’re with me now, so that won’t be all you know.”
“Uh, I don’t under—”
“I’m going to show you what it means to have a real relationship, JJ.” Reg paused and grinned. “Even if it is pretend.”

Have a terrific week!

CC

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Making Time for Reading




“I don’t really read anymore.” I’ve seen several writers say this. And every time, readers and other writers gasp in outrage. HOW can you be a writer if you don’t read?! And I gotta say, I understand the confusion. It’s weird to think of writers not reading. I couldn’t imagine being that writer. Until it happened to me.

My face when writers say they don't read.
 The more I write, the less I read. And that’s not to say I don’t read at all. I do. But I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. It’s partly because there are so many other ways to occupy my free time these days. There are a billion and one things to binge on Netflix and HULU. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a new movie every week. My dogs want to go outside for walks. And Twitter has some sort of unholy hold on my attention span.

But the other part of it is that I spend so much time in my head, coming up with plot bunnies, outlining, and actually writing, that when I do have free time books are no longer the first thing I reach for. I sort of feel like I need to take a break from the pictures in my head – and yes when I read I do see it as scenes in my head – and let someone else do the work of entertaining me. Hence, the Netflix bingeing. Also, I tend to write so late into the day, that when I settle down in bed or on the couch to read, guess what happens. If you guessed I fall asleep and wake up hours later with my face smushed under my Nook, you guessed right.

Or, I’ll sit down to read and then remember that I have to answer an email or approve a cover or update my website or write a blurb or drop a giveaway prize off at the post office or, or or. So much to do! And all of it takes away from my reading time.

But I still love reading! That won’t ever go away. Except now, I have to purposely make time for it. I started Saturday Relax Day a few weeks back as a way to stop working for one day out of the week. I fell into a pretty unhealthy habit of working and writing seven days a week. No wonder I was so stressed!

Giving myself that day to chill and do something fun means I have dedicated time to read. I spent this past Saturday reading comic books. (Check out Marvel’s Iceman. I believe it is their first major LGBT character with his own series) Next week I’m going to dive into one of the unread titles waiting for me on my Nook. My Goodreads status update has shown I’m reading Sam B. Morgan’s Love By Design for about three months now, so I’ll read that one first.

Since I’ve been a binge reader for practically my entire life, it probably won’t take me long to fall back into the habit. I’m just glad I noticed how far away I’d drifted from my true love before it got too out of hand!

So for all those writers out there who say they don’t read anymore, I understand where you’re coming from now. I feel your pain and I hope you can get back into the habit. Writers, have you noticed this happening to you? And readers, what do you think? Do you hate me now for admitting I don’t read as much as I used to? I’m still one of you, I promise! So when I come knocking at the club house door, asking for book recs, be kind and let me in.

Thanks for reading!

Love,
Christa

P.S. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter. This month I have a giveaway for An Officer’s Submission swag and a look at Cuffs, Collars and Love #5: Hector’s Story.

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Book IV of the Cuffs, Collars and Love series is now available.
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Growing as an Author by SC Wynne


Morning all!

I'm rereleasing a book this month, Guarding My Heart, and as I was going over it, it occurred to me how much I've grown as an author. It was a pleasant surprise actually. I've learned so much at every publisher I've worked with. I've worked with many, many editors over the years and each house had something new to teach me.

I had editors over the years who would love my stories, but they'd say things like "Dig deeper!" I had no idea what they meant until I began rewriting this story I'm rereleasing. I had a habit of saying something meaningful, but just leaving it there. I wouldn't expand on that thought. Now I get it. But I think it takes time to learn to be a good writer. You have to have talent, but all the nuances that take you from newb to quality, can only come with time.

I look forward to many more years of sharing my stories and learning more and more. I hope I always keep my desire learn so that I can write better and better as the years continue.

SC
www.sc-wynne.com


Friday, September 15, 2017

A Happy New Year by Felice Stevens


Next Wednesday night is the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. It's a time for celebrating with family and a wish for peace in the world. There is a belief that the Book of Life is open at this time and your coming year is inscribed inside.

As common with many if not most of our holidays, food is heavily involved. Except for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, where we fast. But I refuse to  discuss that any earlier than necessary.
At Rosh Hashana, friends and family gather to eat apples dipped in honey and foods made with honey and sugar, all in hopes that we will be granted a sweet year.

In Learning to Love, I created the characters of Gideon and Rico, two chefs who specialize in kosher foods. There are recipes inside as well, including brisket, and chicken soup, also traditional meals at the holiday time.

All or Nothing, my next release in early October is Rico's book and we again return to the kitchen, but this time it's Rico who shows off his prowess in the kitchen...as well as the bedroom. I thought to celebrate I'd give you all a new recipe, one I'll be making. It's called Tzimmes. It can be made with meat, usually by adding pieces of short ribs to the mixture. I make mine meatless.
As an aside, the word "Tzimmes" means a 'Big deal", or a "big to do." in Yiddish.

2 cups of pineapple jiuce
3 pounds of carrots, cut into chunks
3 pounds of peeled sweet potatos
2 cups pitted prunes and apricots
1/2 cup of sugar-you can use less
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large Dutch oven place pineapple juice and carrots and add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Decrease heat to low and simmer 30-45 minutes until tender.
Pre heat oven to 350 F. All the rest of the ingredients to the Dutch oven and mix. Uncover and let cook at least two ore hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you cook it the richer it tastes.
The finished product:

  1. If you want to read Learning to Love and Beyond the Surface before the release of Rico and Adam's story, Here are the links:

  2. Beyond the Surface: http://amzn.to/2sh11Hy
  3. Learning to Love: http://amzn.to/2rxBHQz

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Being a Writer by Riley Hart



In one way or another, I've always wanted to be a writer. I've loved writing for as long as I can remember. I won my first writing contest in elementary school--Tomorrow's Leaders on the Move--and my second not long afterward.

You know how it goes with dreams sometimes though...we lose sight of them. Or they feel too out of reach. Or life happens. All of those things happened to me. How could I ever be a writer? It felt like being a movie star or president, LOL. Something that would never happen. My backup plan was a child psychologist. How's that for a "backup" plan? hahaha.

But then...yes, life. I got married young and had a baby young-ish. I forgot about my dreams because we had responsibilities and bills to pay. I worked at the hospital in the ER and though I loved it, it wasn't my dream. I was just getting by.

We moved to California after that. I went from a small town (98 kids in my graduating class) where I knew everyone, to Southern California where I knew no one (other than hubby's family). It wasn't easy at first. I was lonely and sad, but it ended up being the best decision I could have made. It's where my love of reading was reignited which flamed my love of writing.

It was a long road for me. I started writing in 2005. I didn't really make any money until 2012. LOL. When I say that, I don't mean that money is what's important, because it's definitely not everything to me. Yes, I obviously want a career out of writing, which means I need to make some of it, but writing is my heart too (it's tough when your heart is connected to your livelihood). But it was hard to continue to "excuse" the time I spent writing, hours after work, and money on classes and organizations when I wasn't making money and was just getting rejections. I have folders FULL of rejection letters from editors and agents (back then that was mostly the only way to go). And though they hurt at the time, I'm thankful for them. I learned about the industry and myself as a writer from them. I learned how to take rejection from them too. I studied my craft. I took a romance writing course. I joined my local RWA chapter which was a critique group. There were a lot of tears--God were there a lot of tears. I almost gave up. There were two agents, close calls, flat out "no's" and so many comments about "my little hobby".

It was all worth it though. I look back at my journey and smile. It makes me even more thankful for where I am today. I will never take for granted what I do, or take readers for granted.

I'm not sure where all this is going today. I think I just ran across the above quote (I'm a quote fiend) and it made me think about all the blood I've shed--both at the computer, bleeding for my characters and their story--and within the industry. When I started writing, I don't think I realized how much we bleed for this thing we love so very much, for this piece of our soul that we couldn't live without.

I'll continue to bleed for it until there's nothing left in me :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

BA, Julia, Sean and Kiernan say oops


hey y'all

BA is still in the hospital. We're scrambling to get anything done, so we were short a post this week. In its place, I offer a puppy nose.

XXOO

Julia

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Work In Progress by S.C. Wynne


Morning all,

I'm a little tired still from last weekend. I was at an outside event performing, and it was so hot I
drank about eight bottles of water and only had to visit the little girls room once! lol That was how much sweat was involved. It was not nice.

Because I'm still worn out, I decided to share an excerpt of a work in progress that I'm submitting to a publisher. It will be a series, whether they take it or not, and I hope you enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE:

The first thing that hit me was the smell. Covering my nose, I tried not to gag on the pungent scent of cattle and dust. I climbed from the taxi as the driver tugged my suitcase from the trunk.
Scanning my silk suit and tie, the driver smirked. “Sure you don’t just want me to  take you back to the airport?”

Lifting my chin, I stuffed money into his grimy hands. “Maxwell Thornton doesn’t run from a challenge.” My statement was a ridiculous lie. The only reason I stood in this smelly, hell hole of a town was because I was running. Fleeing something too horrible to contemplate; I was a murderer.

I picked up my suitcase and stepped away from the car. When my shoe landed in something suspiciously squishy, I winced, afraid to look down.

The driver grimaced. “Oops.”

I lifted my foot and stepped aside, finding hard ground this time. I scraped my shoe back and forth and pretended I didn’t want to scream with frustration. How could this be my life? I’d spent the last decade as an esteemed surgeon in Los Angles, and now I stood on a dung riddled dirt road as the sole GP in this grimy little town of Rainy Dale, TX. Life had seemed so promising only two months ago. Now I felt as if I’d been exiled to Siberia. Or the hellishly hot equivalent.

Turning, I faced the little white house that would serve as my office and home. It was in better shape than I’d assumed; no peeling paint or broken windows. The garden was green with yellow esperanza and blackfoot daisy growing along the front of the yard. I liked that it seemed private. My nearest neighbor was about 200 feet down the road toward the town that sprawled along the big lake.

“Well, I’m gonna take off now, doc. You just give me a call if you change your mind about staying.” The driver spoke as he opened his car door.

I glanced toward him, stuffing down the urge to beg him to take me back to civilization. “I’m not going anywhere.”

He snorted. “Suit yourself.” He climbed into his vehicle and the engine roared to life. I watched him slowly bump down the lane away from the town.

Moving down the cobblestone path, I strode determinedly up the steps to the front porch. As I reached for the knob, the door opened abruptly. A young girl of about twenty with freckles and purple framed glasses stood there with her eyes wide.

“Oh, you’re already here!” She ran a hand over her tousled auburn hair. “I didn’t expect you till evening.”

“Who are you?” I asked, wondering why a strange girl was in my home.

She gave a tense laugh. “I’m Girdy. I’m your receptionist. Remember we spoke on the phone?”

I eyed her up and down, and then I frowned. “You don’t look old enough to be a receptionist.”

Another uptight laugh left her lips. “I am. Plus, I’ll have you know, I’m a certified phlebotomist, sir.”

“Hmmm.” I lifted one brow.

Her cheeks seemed pinker than when I’d first arrived. “Why don’t you come in out of the heat?” She stepped aside and avoided my gaze. “It tends to make people a tad grumpy.”

I entered the building, relieved to discover an unmistakable chill that could only come from central air conditioning. At least this place wasn’t so barbaric they didn’t have that one small comfort. I glanced around the wide area, taking note of a staircase, desk in the corner and chairs lined along the wall on either side of the waiting area.

“That’s my desk.” Girdy moved into the room, and pointed to a door at the far end of the room. “Your office and examination room is there.”

I widened my eyes. “There’s only one examination room?”

“Yep.” She grimaced. “Sorry. Do you usually have more than one?”

I thought about my beautiful, state of the art clinic back in LA with a sinking heart. “Yes.”

“Oh, well…” She tucked a tendril of hair behind her ear. “We just have the one.” A phone on the desk rang and she jumped, pressing her hand to her chest. “Sorry.” She went to answer it.

There was a knock on the door jamb behind me. When I turned a middle aged man with a shiny bald head and thick salt and pepper eyebrows stood there. “Are you the new doctor?” He looked hopeful as he stepped into the waiting area.

I gave a curt nod. “I am.”

“I’m Ned Tinkerson.” He held out his arm showing an angry red rash from his wrist to his elbow.

“Would you mind terribly taking a look at this, doc?”

It took a lot not to recoil. “No. I literally just arrived.”

“Oh, well…” Ned frowned. “But it would only take a minute.

Girdy spoke from behind me. “Doc, Mrs. Lowe has a fever and she was hoping maybe she could pop over and you could check her temperature?”

“Pop over?” I scowled. “Absolutely not. What’s wrong with you people? I haven't even set my bag down and you’re already trying to book appointments?”

“But—” Ned began.

“How did you even know I’d arrived?” I inched toward my office, feeling sweaty and uneasy.

“We’re neighbors. I live just down the road and saw your taxi.” Ned laughed. “I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask if you’d take a look-see.”

Pop over. Look-see. Didn’t these people understand protocol?

“I’m not set up to see patients yet.”

“Dr. Pine—your predecessor-- left over three months ago. We haven’t had a doctor that whole time. If we wanted to see someone we had to travel all the way into Dallas.” Ned sighed. “Come on. What would it hurt to take a peek?” He scratched his arm. “It’s awfully uncomfortable.”

“Doc, what should I tell Mrs. Lowe?”

“Tell her to make an appointment in three days when I’m ready for business.” I took a few more steps toward my private office.

Another knock on the door jamb set my teeth on edge. I glanced over to find a elderly woman wearing a large hat with sunflowers. “Hello,” she called out in a sing-songy voice. “Is there a doctor in the house?” She giggled as if she found herself hilarious and she held out her hand. “I’m Penelope Granger. Mayor of Rainy Dale.”

I shook her hand.

“I was here first,” Ned grumbled, eying her impatiently. “Mayor or no Mayor.”

“Oh. Well, I don’t need much time. Just a renewal of my um… medicine.” She pulled her hat off and fanned herself. “It’s hot as hades today.”

Two more people entered the small clinic and I avoided making eye contact. Had someone sent up a plane that had sky written the message ‘The new doctor has arrived’? Why were all these people descending on me?

The phone rang again and I clenched my jaw. I didn’t like crowds and I didn’t like being pushed into things. “Look, you all need to go away. I don’t open until Thursday.”

Apparently not hearing me, Girdy spoke with her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. “Doc, Patrica Bones would like to bring her son in. He has a cough.”

I faced her, my shoulders stiff. “Please don’t call me doc. I prefer Dr. Thornton. And no. I won’t see Patrica Bones, or anybody.” I raked a shaky hand through my hair. The small room felt even tinier with all these people staring at me expectantly. “I open for business at 8am on Thursday. Unless it’s an emergency, go away.”

“Go away?” Penelope widened her eyes. “What do you mean?”

I hitched my suitcase higher. “I mean go home. Make an appointment and then go.” I headed toward my office, feeling their eyes burning into my back.”

“But you’re a doctor.” Ned’s voice was outraged.

I stopped and faced them. “Yes. During business hours. If you want a beer but the bar is closed, it’s not like the owner opens the bar for you just because you show up.”

“But we’re not talking about a bar. You’re a doctor. You deal in life or death.” Penelope’s eyes were cool and her mouth a hard line.

“Are any of you dying?” I raised one brow.

“Well…” Ned sputtered. “I might be.”

I rolled my eyes. “Go to the pharmacy and buy an intensive healing cream for eczema or something. That should give you some relief.”

The phone rang again and Girdy lifted the receiver, when she met my stern gaze she hung up.

“Good, girl.” I turned back toward my office and opened the door. The musty smell of stale air hit me. I closed the door behind me and I leaned against it. I’d hoped to have a few days to acclimatize myself to this town, but the way they’d all come at me, I felt a little like the last donut at a police station.

Glancing around the stuffy, dark room  I noticed an EKG machine and a sphygmomanometer, aka blood pressure monitor. White cupboards and a sink were across from the examination table and several pairs of stethoscopes hung from a hook on the wall. I moved to the storage area and rummaged through some drawers, checking over consumable supplies and making a mental note of things we’d need. Making lists and organizing always calmed me.

There was a soft knock on the door and I closed my eyes, feeling irritable. “What is it?”

The door opened slowly and Girdy poked her head in. “They’ve all gone.”

Relief washed through me. “Good.”

“I’m sorry about that.” She grimaced. “Dr. Pine pretty much let people come and go as they pleased.”

“That’s no way to run an efficient office.”

“I know.” She shrugged. “But people liked him.”

“I’m not interested in making friends. I’m here to keep the people of this town healthy.” I crossed my arms.

She bit her lower lip. “Is there some reason you couldn’t maybe do both?”

I snorted. “Why would I?”

She stepped in and closed the door. “You were a surgeon before, right?”

“Yes.” I sighed.

“So, you mostly dealt with people who weren’t awake.”

I frowned. “I consulted with patients too.”

“But mostly, you just operated?”

“Where are you going with this?”

She moved closer, her voice soft. “You might need to tweak your bedside manner a little bit if you’re going to last in Rainy Dale.”

“I can’t even believe I’m stuck here,” I snapped. The moment the words were out of my mouth, I regretted them. I’d been lucky this opportunity had come up for me. I’d needed to get away from the city and had jumped at the chance to take this position.

She narrowed her eyes. “You don’t want to be here?”

My face felt hot. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” I turned my back on her. “I apologize. My comment was rude and I don’t even mean it.”

She came around so she could see my face. Her expression was irritated, but it gradually softened. “Maybe this town isn’t what you’re used to. But there are some wonderful folks here. You might even enjoy it a little if you let yourself relax and get to know people.”

I walked across the room and sat in the chair behind he desk. “I don’t see that happening.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t really do people very well.” I held her gaze firmly. It was best she knew what I was like now, that way she could decide if she wanted to work for me or not. I wasn’t ever going to be a warm and fuzzy employer. If that was what she needed, she should move on.

She followed me and she sat in the chair that would usually be for the patients. “I know why you’re here.”

I glanced up sharply. “Pardon?”

“I um… I know what happened. I know what the catalyst was that made you decide to hide away in Rainy Dale.”

Heat returned to my cheeks. “What are you talking about?”

“I know about the little mishap that made you quit doing surgery.” She shrugged.

“What do you think you know?” I asked softly.

She rolled her eyes and leaned toward me. “Lydia Pine was the receptionist before. She was Dr. Pine’s wife. She knew all about you and she thought it would be useful for me to know too.”

“Why?” I sounded horrified to my own ears.

Her laugh was gruff. “I guess because I was going to work for you.”

I exhaled impatiently. “That’s nonsense.”

“Is it?”

“So long as I do my job properly while I’m here, you shouldn’t need to know anything personal about me.” I chuffed. “And I shouldn’t need to know about you either.”

She smirked. “The difference is you’re not interested in my life. The rest of us are nosy about yours.”
Pulling my brows tight, I said, “Why in the world would you or anyone in this town care about me?”

She stood. “Plan old curiosity. You’re the new kid in town. Things can get a little dull around here.”

I sat back in my chair, feeling frustrated. “My business is my own.”

Moving to the door she said, “You keep telling yourself that. But you’re in for a rude awakening. Small towns don’t operate like the big city.”

An uneasy feeling came over me and I stood quickly. “You’re not going to tell anyone else what you know, are you?”

She hovered near the door. “Do yourself a favor doc and don’t try to hide things. It won’t work.”

“I don’t want to be the fodder for town gossip.”

“It doesn’t matter. People will still talk about you. It’s just how it is.”

“Not if you don’t tell them.”

She gave a bark of a laugh. “If Lydia Pine told me your little secret, you can bet your life she told other people too. She was a huge gossip.”

“I thought you said she only told you because you were going to work for me.” I squinted.

“I lied.”

I sucked in a steadying breath. “Look, what happened was a terrible tragedy.”

“Yes. And, personally, I think you’re being too hard on yourself. Sometimes people die on the operating table. It’s a sad fact. I had an uncle who died during a hernia operation. That surgeon still practices just like he always did.”

“Good for him,” I whispered.

“I’m sure it wasn’t your fault.”

“Even so…” I murmured.

I closed my eyes as unwelcome anxiety washed over me in waves. Memories of that horrible moment always hovered on the edge of my mind. Grim recollections that flooded back at the slightest nudge; the alarm of the heart monitor, noisy suckers, a sinister silence as I snapped orders, frantically trying to stop the tsunami of blood. An adrenaline syringe ran as swabs soaked with blood were packed around the veins that refused to be tied off. Panic set in as sutures sliced through the veins like swiss cheese. An undiscovered tumor had weakened the vein walls and they’d disintegrated as I fought to stop the  bleeding. The sheer helplessness of that moment still made me nauseous. No amount of training had been able to stop the relentless hemorrhaging. The failure. The death.

“Are you all right, Dr. Thornton?” Girdy’s hesitant voice caught my attention.

I straightened and swallowed against the bile that threatened to rise. “Of course.” My voice wobbled.

Pull yourself together you fucking, pathetic fool.

I met her gentle gaze as she said, “No one will judge you. Bad things happen.”

“Not to me.”

Her frown was skeptical. “You’d never lost a patient before that day?”

I shook my head.

“Not in a decade of surgeries?” Her eyes widened.

“You don’t get to be the top of your field by murdering your patients, Girdy.”

She scowled. “It wasn’t murder.”

I raked a hand through my hair. “I don’t expect you to understand.”

“Why? Because I’m from a small town?”

I shook my head. “No. Because you’re willing to forgive.”

She exhaled, and her frustration was obvious. “It hasn’t been very long. Perhaps in time you’ll figure out how to forgive too.”

“Not likely.” I moved back to the desk needing space from her kindness. It felt awkward and uncomfortable. I didn’t want it or deserve it. “I’ll need you to call our pharmaceutical rep and order some things.”

She shifted as if annoyed. “That’s it for the heart to heart?”

I met her gaze. “We’ll need sterile gloves, paper exam gowns and tongue depressors.”

“I’m a good listener. You don’t know that about me, but I am.”

“Be sure to order syringes and hydrogen peroxide too while your at it.” I shifted some papers around on the desk.

“I can see you’re going to be a tough case.”

“Girdy, don’t make me your project.”

“Too late.”

There was a knock on the examining room door and I gave her an impatient glance. “Didn’t you lock the front door?”

She shook her head. “No. Why would I?”

“People could be robbing us blind even as we speak.” I moved toward her.

“It’s an awfully polite thief to knock before they come in.” She laughed as she opened the door.

All I saw at first was a black Stetson and broad shoulders. But as the man entered the room farther, I noticed he was tall and lean with a square jaw and sharp gaze. A gold badge glimmered on his dark blue shirt and blond hair poked out beneath his hat.

“Sheriff. What are you doing here?” Girdy squeaked, a big smile on her face.

As his brown eyes met mine, I was surprised by the punch of attraction that rippled through me. I wasn’t the kind of guy who got rattled easily by a good looking man, but I couldn’t deny the sight of him made my pulse spike.

“I wanted to come meet the new doctor.” His voice was husky. Confident.

“You and half the town.” She laughed.

He moved into the room and as he neared, I caught a whiff of bergamont and lemon grass from his cologne. It was a nice change from the smell of livestock that seemed to permeate this town. He held out his hand and I hesitated.

“I don’t bite, doc.” A little smile hovered on his full lips.

Feeling annoyed at my swoony behavior, I took his hand. His grip was firm and warm against mine.
“Dr. Maxwell Thornton. Nice to meet you.” Was he here for a check up like the rest of the town? For some reason, the thought of that wasn’t nearly as annoying as it had been earlier with the rest of my patients.

“Sheriff Royce Callum. Most folks just call me Royce.”

I let go of his hand, but my fingers still tingled.

“How are you settling in?” He put his hands on his narrow hips and glanced around the area. His gaze dropped to my solitary suitcase next to the desk. “Rest of your stuff coming later?”

I shook my head. “No.”

He frowned. “You travel pretty light for a city boy.”

Narrowing my gaze I said, “Is that against the law?”

“Nah.” He pushed his hat up and I could see his face clearer. He was gorgeous, his skin tanned and firm, long dark lashes and teeth as white as I’d ever seen. “But maybe you pack light so you can make a quick get away.”

His challenging tone did weird things to my gut. “No.”

“Any skeletons in your closet you want to tell me about?”

“No.”

He smiled and little dimples appeared. “You say anything other than no?”

“Yes.”

Girdy sniggered. “You two could take this show on the road.”

My face warmed and I crossed my arms.

Callum pursed his lips. “Well, like I said, I just came by to introduce myself.”

“Okay.” I nodded.

Girdy gave me a tolerant look. “I’m sure he means nice to meet you, sheriff.”

I grimaced. “Yeah. Thanks for dropping by.”

He leaned closer. “Welcome to Rainy Dale, Maxwell.” The sound of my name rolled nicely off his tongue and I shivered unexpectedly. He seemed to notice the effect he had on me because he smiled and winked. “Just let me know if you need anybody to show you around town.”

“No.” I winced. “I mean, I don’t... need that.” Certainly not from someone as disturbing as him. I had no desire to get to know anybody in town. I just wanted to focus on building my new practice. I wanted things to go back to normal. I wanted to feel in control again. I wanted to know everything that was going to happen, before it happened. Like the old days.

Sheriff Callum tipped his hat. “Let me know if you change your mind.”

“I won’t.”

He smiled. “Good luck to you, doc.”

I chuffed as I turned my back on him. “Luck.”

“You don’t believe in luck?” He sounded amused.

“Not really.” I shot him a sardonic look over my shoulder. “Lets be honest, sheriff. Would a doctor of my caliber be in Rainy Dale if luck existed?”

“Abso-damn-lutely.” He grinned as he started to leave. “Only this time, the luck is on Rainy Dale’s side.”


Hope you enjoyed it! :)

S.C.

www.sc-wynne.com