Saturday, April 23, 2016

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! My 5th Year as a Published Author, Lessons Learned, Bruises Earned by @KarynGerrard #opinion


I was going to let this anniversary pass with little fanfare, but I thought, the fact I got this far deserves a nod of acknowledgement.

My first contract offer from a publisher was March 2011, book published May 2011. In the following five years, I have evolved a lot. You see, I am not a 'trained' writer. I didn't go to university, did not take creative writing classes, so to say my early manuscripts were a mess is an understatement. I want to thank Evernight Publishing and Decadent Publishing—to call out a couple—for seeing beyond the grammar nightmare to the storytelling beneath.

I learned with each edit, good and bad, and I got both over the years. It gave me the confidence to write longer stories with more intricate plotting and characterization. To submit to bigger publishers. Okay, not everything worked out. Ellora's Cave turned out to be a hot mess instead of a stepping stone to bigger things. Thankfully, I only have the one book with them and will be able to get back the rights soon. (bruises earned)

It was then I decided to leave erotic romance behind and try something more mainstream. What came out of the EC debacle is I had originally sent a second manuscript to EC and smartly turned the contract down as things unfolded in the hot mess department. I then sent it to Kensington Publishing's digital line. Why not, worth a shot. I mean, people better trained and with more experience than I were rejected, I had no expectations. (lesson learned, always go for it)

Well, damn. It was accepted. And they wanted to know what else I had. I wound up with four contracts from a publisher based in New York. With offices and everything! This I didn't expect. I waayyy out performed my expectations.

At now standing here at this point, with an unsure writing future ahead of me, it was time to 'take stock' and accept some truths.

I can't see me doing this for much longer, in fact, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. E-book sales are soft across the board. My best year was 2013. Each year has declined more. I am so glad I don't depend on these royalties for anything. Like food or utility bills.
Because I don't 'need' the money, I can write at my own pace, write for myself and not the market, and I do realize that's probably one of the reasons (my) sales have declined. I accept that, it was my decision. We all have our own paths, one is not better than the other.

Personally, I do this for me. And to indulge myself, I am going to focus on self-publishing for a time. If I attempt any new writing, I will be pivoting back to contemporaries.

Reflecting back, there were many different paths I could have taken the past five years. More successful paths. But I didn't, and I'm cool with it. Could I have done things better? Made smarter, more calculated decisions? Sure. But as things stand, I am just amazed after five years I am still doing this. I love writing. The other stuff like promo, publishers, edits, etc? Not so much.

But the love of writing is still there, pulsing inside me. So I will bang away on my keyboard when the mood strikes me, try not to let the back chatter, social media, sales, reviews, promo etc to overwhelm me.

After five years, I learned valuable lessons and earned bruises along the way. I am finally comfortable in my writing skin. Happy anniversary.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Vicar's Frozen Heart by Karyn Gerrard @KarynGerrard #Historical #Victorian @KensingtonBooks


The Vicar's Frozen Heart By Karyn Gerrard

Book #2 The Hornsby Brothers
approx 55,000 words
Historical/Victorian
Heat Level: Sensual
Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press
Release Date: March 1, 2016

NOTE: This is not an inspirational romance.


His heart begins to heal…

He gave her shelter from the storm, nursed her back to health, just as any good man might do for a damsel in distress. But Tremain Colson is more than just a small town vicar performing a gallant duty. He’s an ex-soldier whose spirit has been ravaged by war, a nobleman hiding his aristocratic heritage. Yet despite his secrets, he cannot help but feel drawn to the fallen beauty and soon asks her to stay and care for the orphan in his charge…

And hers is lost…

Disgrace sent Eliza Winston out into the world, a governess in ruin. But once she finds herself in Tremain’s home—and in his bed—she realizes her handsome rescuer is the one in need of healing. No sooner does Eliza thaw the vicar’s heart than she realizes her own is in danger. For Tremain is not only the man she dreams of marrying, but a blueblood whose noble birth makes him an impossible match…



EXCERPT: Eliza’s entire body throbbed with pain. The fall from the carriage no doubt did damage as she’d rolled down a slight embankment, landing in a ditch. That much she did remember. Groaning, she tried to lift her arms. No luck.
The door swung open and banged against the wall, startling her. A tiny squeak escaped her chapped lips. A tall, imposing man, leaning heavily on a cane crossed the threshold. Dressed entirely in black, he hobbled closer to the bed. All at once she was struck by his austere face. Deep frown lines were etched on either side of his mouth which was turned down in a fierce scowl. Here stood a man the furthest thing from a kind, older grandfather, more like a man of thirty-odd years. He would be considered handsome, she supposed, with his thick, raven-black hair and sculpted cheekbones, but the chilled expression he gave evoked no warmth at all and his silver-gray eyes held the shade of chips of ice from a frozen lake. Rather frightening and much like a stern schoolmaster or unforgiving, sober priest, both of which Eliza had enough of in her life.
“You’re awake then?” The words were clipped and precise.
“Tha...thank you, sir,” she croaked. “Your name?”
The cane thumped heavily on the floor as he made his way to stand at her bedside. “Tremain Colson.”
A deep voice, but it held no warmth at all. Well, she was thankful he found her and took her in, but had the distinct feeling she’d be out on her backside as soon as she became mobile. “My trunk?”
“I recovered it about an hour ago. I found you at half past four this morning. It is now three in the afternoon.”
Goodness. She’d slept near around the clock. With great effort, she managed to lift the blankets and peer under them. I’m only wearing my shift. Did this iceberg of a man strip off her clothes and lay his hands on her? “My clothes?”
“I hung them by the fire in the parlor. May I have your name?”
Right. “Eliza...Eliza Winston. Where am I?”
“The village of Hawksgreen. Where were you heading?”
His standing over her should be ominous for he had quite the presence. Yet the fright she experienced initially dissipated even though he continued to act in a grave, unfriendly manner. What a dark, brooding man.
“Dover...I think.”
“Are you in pain?”
Yes, you daft man, I was tossed from a moving carriage. She no longer wished to converse. Instead she gave him a brisk nod.
“Very well, I will make you a cup of willow bark tea.” He turned on his heel and hobbled out. Eliza admired the view. Well-proportioned with broad shoulders, at least it appeared as such considering he wore wool trousers and a matching coat. The clothes fit him well, the coat hugging a slim waist. He wore no cravat, but the shirt was buttoned up to his neck. Wonder how Mr. Colson injured his leg? He’d grimace in pain as he turned to leave. Even with his disability he brought her and her trunk into his home? Perhaps he also experienced discomfort this day.
Where on God’s Earth was Hawksgreen? She’d never heard of it. A shiver of apprehension ran down her spine. She needed time to construct a sound plan for her future, a plan all the harder to make since she’d been robbed. Not a farthing to her name and she possessed nothing of value to sell. Eliza doubted this man would be empathetic to her plight. Perhaps he had a long-suffering, kindly wife who would take pity on her. Nevertheless, if she must exaggerate her injuries to gain more time, she would.








 BUY LINKS





Karyn lives in a small town in the western corner of Ontario, Canada. She whiles away her spare time writing and reading romance while drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. A multi-published author, Karyn loves to write historicals, particularly in the Victorian era. She also writes contemporaries. Tortured heroes are a must. As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward.



  Check out: BOLD SEDUCTION (The Hornsby Brothers #1)


BOLD SEDUCTION
The Hornsby Brothers #1
Karyn Gerrard
Release Sept 1st, 2015
Lyrical Press


No offer is more daring…

BOLD SEDUCTION

An Intriguing Proposition

Passion. Seduction. Pleasure. These are the qualities of any courtesan worth her salt. As owner of The Starling Club, London’s most notorious house of ill-repute, Madame Philomena McGrattan has seen it all, heard it all, done it all. There is little that surprises her anymore, and even less that excites her. So when she is presented a chance at an irresistible seduction, she can’t help but rise to the challenge.

A Dangerous Game

Studiousness. Practicality. Discipline. Such are the attributes of a good scholar, and such are the principles Lord Spencer Hornsby has built his life around. Alone in the Welsh countryside, with only his wolfhounds for company, Spencer has thrown himself into his work. There is little time for the pleasures of society, not even to think of the joys of the fairer sex. But when an unexpected guest arrives at his isolated hunting lodge, Spencer cannot help but be baffled by the presence of this dangerously beautiful woman. And when he discovers the reason for her arrival, and the pleasures she promises, he cannot help but find himself irresistibly intrigued . . .


BUY NOW

Saturday, April 2, 2016

COVER REVEAL: My Highlander Cover Model by @KarynGerrard #ComingSoon #Rerelease #Timetravel Hot Highlander!


My Highlander Cover Model
by Karyn Gerrard
KG Publishing
Time Travel/Fantasy/Contemporary
Approx 27500 words


Blurb: Skye Bancroft, assistant art director at a small New York publisher, is used to dealing with the occasional spoiled and egocentric model. After all, it’s part of her job description. But during a photoshoot, she didn’t count on one to become so delusional as to think himself a Highlander from 1814 Scotland. 

Cailin Thorburn is every woman’s dream: A warrior who is fierce, passionate, and protective. Rendered unconscious during battle, he awakens in another place, time, and seemingly in another man’s body. Could this all be a dream? Convincing the bonnie lass, Skye, that he is Cailin is a daunting task. 


Regardless of his strange time travel story and sexy Scottish burr, believing this extraordinary man is from another era becomes hard to deny. The attraction between them sizzles and Skye is left to wonder: Is Cailin truly a Highlander from the clan Macbeth, or just a Highlander cover model?


THE SCOOP: This was originally published by Decadent Publishing from April 2013 to April 2016. I now have the rights back. I can now say I never cared for the original cover much, But, time to move on, and I will be revising, re-editing etc and self-publishing this soon. (This cover done by Melody Simmons)

When? No idea. I am taking things slow and I am dealing right now with Mr. Gerrard's health, so that takes top priority. 

Meanwhile, so far, I have added about 5000 words. Also, I no longer write erotic as such, so am dialing back the heat a notch. Or two. And deepening the characterization and romance. 

When I do release it, it will be 99 cents and put in Kindle Unlimited for a time. So stay tuned!

So, what about the first book in this series, My Vampire Cover Model? Sorry, no plans at the moment. It needs too much work and I've kicked it down the queue. May not get to even look at it until later 2017. 

That's if I am even still doing this in 2017. *wink*

Next? The Governess and the Beast. I get the rights back May 1st. Cover on order with Cora Graphics so will reveal it soon.

Have a good weekend~


Saturday, March 26, 2016

I'll Be Back Soon: Taking a Break, Taking Stock by Karyn Gerrard @KarynGerrard #Personal #Writing



This has been coming for some time. Mr. Gerrard has not been well for some time as well. He is about to undergo a serious operation and I will be turning my attention to him going forward while he recovers (operation to take place out of town in the first week of April)

Living in a small town really sucks especially when something medical pops up, and driving five hours for an operation doubly sucks. But, we will do what has to be done, so I will be stepping back from the internet and social media for a bit. (though I will check in here and there)

Also will be taking this time to take stock and figure out what direction I want to go next. I will continue with plans to re-release some stories I am getting the rights back to, but beyond that?

No idea.

Lots of different paths I can take. Going forward may entail sticking with self-pubbing. Who knows. Much to think about. Much to mull over.

Meanwhile, watch for MY HIGHLANDER COVER MODEL re-release coming soon. And also, THE GOVERNESS AND THE BEAST.

Cheers~


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Writing Plans Going Forward, Taking a Bit of a Breather #ReReleases @KarynGerrard #selfpub #Revisions


Just passed in my final contracted story to Kensington Publishing, Beloved Beast. Big sigh of relief.

Now what?

Not sure. The book market is in flux and I don't have the 'fire in the belly' to fight the on-coming tide of digital book sales declines. We all have our own paths to tread. So that limits my choices. And with Samhain and other digital romance publishers closing, not many options.

For now, I am going to take a breather, work away on revising books that will be reverting to me during the next several months and get them ready for self-pubbing.

NOTE: I am not an erotic romance writer any longer, so the heat will be dialed back a notch on these re-releases~

THE GOVERNESS AND THE BEAST originally 21,000 words will have about 6000 words added, and will revert to me May 1st. I hope to get it back out there right away, so I am working on revisions and edits now. Cover ordered. Unfortunately, the audio book is a 7 year term so that is staying with the publisher.

MY HIGHLANDER COVER MODEL Originally 22,000 words, reverts to me April 1st. I have the cover. I will work on this next. Will have about 7000 words added and this book will go in Kindle Unlimited for a time when I do release it. Summer or fall? Not sure. Maybe later.

HEART OF ROCK, will revert July 1st, I am tearing the story down to the bare bones and re-doing it completely to fit my 'Wicked Men of Rockland' series. This will take awhile. It will be called MY WICKED SOUL (Wicked Men of Rockland 2.5) and I have the cover for it. Hoping for a later fall release.

But I am taking my time with all this. Working at my own stress-free pace.

THE COPPER AND THE MADAM will return to me December 1st. This needs a major reworking, (never did care for the original edit much as in: stuff cut out) so it won't re-release until later 2017.

ROCK THE WOLFE should return to me November 1st. No immediate plans for this. Will put on the back burner.

My Evernight Publishing books? I am eligible to ask for Black Lust this fall, I may get the entire 4 book series back. Again, back burner. It's erotic and paranormal, things I don't write any more, and at some point will be revised with new titles and put out under a new pen name. Plus more books will revert next year.


As you see, I have more than enough to keep me busy. From the first time I was published five years ago, I write for me. I will continue to do so.

Disappointments are the name of the game in the pub biz. I now have no expectations for any release. The market is what it is. As far as personal publishing success, I far exceeded what I thought would happen. I'm proud of that.

For now I am going to take it slow and easy. Take things as they come. The thing is, I can see the end game. I won't be doing this forever. When I do hang it up? I will probably place everything in Kindle Unlimited and walk away. No muss, no fuss.

Until then, I will stay in my writer's cave and do what makes me happy: Write. Or more specifically...revise.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

WEEKEND SPOTLIGHT: The Spinster and Mr. Glover @KarynGerrard #99Cents #Historical #Victorian #BlindCupidSeries



THE SPINSTER AND MR. GLOVER (Blind Cupid Series #1)
By Karyn Gerrard
KG Publishing
Approx 15,000 words Short Story/Historical/Victorian


BLURB: His male beauty moved her. His vulnerability touched her. His past horrified her...

Anne Sommer, a spinster firmly on the shelf, does the unthinkable. She hires a man from the Blind Cupid brothel for a night of scandalous pleasure. Anne wants the sensual memories to keep her company in the lonely years ahead. However, she did not expect the young man to move her in ways she never imagined.


Desmond Glover gives sexual gratification—for a price. An orphan whose childhood was mired in scandal and poverty, Desmond has learned to close off his emotions with regard to his occupation. He did not count on a lonely spinster to awaken his hidden passion.

Not only do the years separate them, but so do their social standing. Can Anne and Desmond cross such a chasm and find mutual desire—or love?

This short story was previously published with a different title. Revised, re-edited, and more than 7500 words added. Heat Level: Very sensual 

 This is book one of the Blind Cupid series. Book two is The Governess and the Beast. Book three is The Copper and the Madam
~~~~~~
Here's the dirt. This was originally called The Blind Cupid, a short story for Decadent Publishing's The Edge line where the story had to be  mega hot and no more than 7000 words. It was released December 2012. It is now called THE SPINSTER AND MR. GLOVER, self-pubbed, and the story is now 14,995 words. I also dialed back the heat a notch or two. I also expanded the plot and characters.

I have written more than a few stories about a couple caught in strange circumstances and falling in love during a short period of time, the situation fascinates me. Two unlikely people, alone, emotions are intense, desire even more so. Yes, they fall in love quickly, but isn't a lot of romance based in fantasy? Besides, though rare, people in real life can fall in love at first sight, so why not my hero and heroine? :)  Hope you enjoy!



 


EXCERPT:“Miss Sommer? I am Desmond Glover. I believe we have an engagement.” His speech possessed a deep, husky cadence and every syllable rounded and well-modulated, as if he’d been trained to speak as a gentleman. Handsome did not seem adequate enough to describe his astounding countenance. The prospect of sending him away with a flea in his ear and ten pounds in his satchel no longer appealed. The man was stunning, absolute masculine perfection. No. She would not dismiss him. This opportunity should not be tossed aside so cavalierly. Never had a man’s good looks caused her to act in a rash manner. First time for everything. She stepped back. “Please, do come in, Mr. Glover.”
After offering to take his hat and long cloak, she hung them on the hall tree.  Stealing a glance, she marveled at his stunning profile. How appealing. With a quick nod, he followed her into the parlor. Inhaling, she could make out his scent which consisted of a light fragrance of bay rum and clean linen. There was no denying his thoroughly male presence as it dominated the room. “Please, take a seat. Would you care for a cup of tea?” she asked politely.
How prim, proper, and well-mannered she sounded, considering her nerves were in knots. She picked up the pot with both hands to stem the shaking. With a quick flick of his suit coat, he sat across from her, and with slow purpose removed his leather gloves. “Very well. Milk, no sugar.”
Anne added the milk then poured, and passed him the cup which rattled slightly on the saucer from her trembling grasp. As Mr. Glover took the tea, one of his long fingers brushed hers and he stroked it intimately before moving away. Rolling, raw heat traveled up her arm from the innocent touch or perhaps the deliberate contact was all part of his game of seduction.
Taking a sip of the beverage, Anne stole another glance at her visitor over the top of the cup. His hair shone as gold as the bright morning sun, the curling locks touching his broad shoulders. How scandalous, far too long for the fashion. How pleasing to discover he was clean-shaven when most men of a certain age wore facial hair or those silly sideburns. Better to show off his prominent cheekbones and well-formed jawline, she mused. The shade of his eyes was similar to the color of a snifter of warmed brandy, his gaze mesmerizing. However, she read no real warmth there, only a cool detachment. Not boredom as such, but a disturbing lack of emotion.
He crossed his long legs. “Perhaps we should discuss terms. I am here for two hours. The carriage driver will then return and if I am not out within five minutes, he will depart and return in another two hours and the cost will rise in accordance with the stipulations the abbess relayed to you. If you would be so kind as to pay in advance for the first block of time?”
Anne blushed, reached for her reticule, and slid a handful of pound notes across the table.
“Excellent. If you wish for us to sit and drink tea for this period, I can oblige you. However, I am here for more carnal pleasures. Do you wish to begin?”

Cover art by Cora Graphics 



*Note: I have already been informed by Decadent Publishing I will receive the rights back to The Governess and the Beast May 1st,(but not audio rights) and The Copper and The Madam December 1st. They will be revised and eventually self-published. Until then, they are still available.

THE GOVERNESS AND THE BEAST (Blind Cupid Series Book 2)


BLURB: Hiding secrets and a past she longs to forget, Hortense Jennings answers an ad for a governess and embarks on an adventure she did not expect.

Concealed in a gothic, crumbling manor on the edge of a North Sea cliff, Baron Simon Wolstenholme is hiding from life. Horribly scarred from battle wounds, he lives up to his name “The Beast of Stonecliff” in both appearance and attitude until he realizes how lonely he has become.

Simon propositions Hortense for a singular night of passion. Raging weather and storms of anger clash between a lonely man and a distrustful woman to reveal secret desires in an emotional crescendo. Can the Governess and the Beast find calm amid the storm and admit their true feelings, or will pride destroy the fairy tale before it begins?


THE COPPER AND THE MADAM (Blind Cupid Series Book 3)

BLURB:

In 1897 London, Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Rory Kerrigan never expected to find love among the crime-ridden streets he vowed to protect. Kerrigan, a man with a wretched past and hardened heart, keeps emotion from his life and its interference with his police work.

Abbess Rea is owner of the brothel, The Blind Cupid, and a woman with a secret and desolate past of her own. Rubenesque and leery of men, Rea lets no one close. Yet, she cannot deny the ruggedly handsome Rory touches her heart.


A grisly murder on Kerrigan’s turf has Rory and Rea teaming up to bring the killer to justice. As danger lurks closer, secrets are revealed and passion is ignited. Will the copper and the madam acknowledge their mutual yearning even at the peril of their lives?




Karyn lives in a small town in the western corner of Ontario, Canada. She whiles away her spare time writing and reading romance while drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. A multi-published author, Karyn loves to write historicals, particularly in the Victorian era. She also writes contemporaries. Tortured heroes are a must. As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

BLOG TOUR PICK: Sweet Haven by @shirlee_mccoy #Giveaway @TastyBookTours #CleanRomance #Contemporary


SWEET HAVEN
Home Sweet Home #1
Shirlee McCoy
Released February 23rd, 2016
Zebra: Kensington

In Benevolence, Washington, the Lamont family's irresistible handmade chocolates are a cherished tradition--and always a reason to celebrate. And now they're giving the three Lamont sisters, one by one, delicious chances to start again, make a change, and have their sweetest dreams come true...

Neighbors who care, a peaceful routine--accountant Adeline Lamont is glad some things about her beloved hometown never change. But when her grandfather is injured, she has to run the family store, Chocolate Haven, and make its legendary fudge. Trouble is, she can't get the recipe right to save her life--or Chocolate Haven. And she doesn't need her ornery new tenant, Sinclair Jefferson, stirring up the pot with his help--and daring Addie to taste her wild side…

Once Sinclair gets his hapless brother back on track, he's leaving Benevolence for good this time. He's made his life far away from his irresponsible family and their scandals. Trouble is, he can't quite stay away from Addie's optimism, enticing plus-size curves, and kindness to those who need it most. But they don't seem to have a thing in common--except that Addie's passion for chocolate, and for Benevolence, is just as contagious as Sinclair's passion for her. Maybe small-town life has its charms after all…


Addie held the cell phone to her ear as she carefully released milk chocolate hearts from their molds.
Twelve glossy, beautiful hearts. They were perfect. Her day had been nearly perfect too. Good sales. Happy customers. Even newlyweds who’d driven from Spokane to buy a pound of chocolates for their road trip to Glacier National Park.
            Yes. Things had been going wonderfully since she’d arrived at the shop. Until now.
            “I can’t believe I let this happen!” Nehemiah’s voice rang through the phone, his tone just short of panic.
            “You entrusted the dog to me, and I’ve failed you!”
            “You haven’t failed me,” she assured him, trying to ignore the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. Nehemiah was a good guy, but he wasn’t as young as he used to be. He’d been known to misplace his glasses, his cane, his shoes. Maybe he’d just misplaced her giant puppy. “Are you sure he’s not just hiding somewhere?” she asked as she flipped another mold tray, watched the beautiful hearts release onto the marble board.
            “Addie, you’re a smart girl, so what would make you ask such a stupid question?” Nehemiah responded.
            “He’s huge. Where could he possibly hide?”
            “Under the coffee table?”
            “Three months ago, he could have gotten under there. Not anymore. I think he slipped outside when I went to get the paper. The storm door wasn’t closed when I got back from the mailbox.”
            An open door? That was an invitation for Tiny to run.
            The sick feeling morphed to full-out dread. “How long do you think he’s been gone?”
            “Let’s see . . . I went out to get the paper before the sun set. So . . .” He mumbled something. Maybe a calculation of the time the sun went down and the current time—six thirty.
            “Two hours?” he finally said.
            She didn’t curse. She thought about it, though. God, did she think about it!
            “Two hours?” she repeated, hoping to heaven that she’d misheard. That maybe he’d said two minutes. Or twenty. Or anything but two hours. One hundred and twenty minutes for Tiny to find trouble.
            “I’d say about that. Seems to me I was thinking about starting my roasted chicken when I got in. That would have been about four thirty.”
            “And you didn’t see him in the house after you got the paper?” she pressed, hoping against hope that somehow he was mistaken and Tiny really wasn’t gone.
            “I wasn’t really looking for him. He was sleeping right near the fireplace when I went for the paper, relaxing on that old throw rug I brought down from the attic. Same as every day. I went into the kitchen, had me some coffee and a couple of those shortbread cookies I like so much. The ones from Ella’s Bakery Emporium? You been there, right?”
            “Right,” she managed to say through gritted teeth. She’d been there. She’d eaten a scone. She’d enjoyed every bite of it, but she didn’t want to discuss it. Not while Tiny was missing and presumed to be causing trouble.
            “Great baked goods, that girl. She knows how to do things right. Reminds me of my Mary Sue’s baked goods. Mary Sue? She could—”
            “Nehemiah,” she interrupted as gently as she could, as kindly. Mary Sue had died the previous spring. They’d been married for nearly seventy years. “I need to go look for Tiny. I’ll call you as soon as I find him.”
            “I really hope you do find him, Addie. I really do. I feel responsible for that dog, and I’ve grown to like him. Problem is, I’m too slow and old and he’s too young and fast. Maybe it’s just not a good match, me dog-sitting him.”
            Maybe not. Probably not, but she didn’t have another option. Janelle wasn’t going to take the dog. All Addie’s friends had pets or kids or a combination, and she didn’t feel like she could burden them with a highenergy, trouble-finding giant.
            That sick feeling, that hard-hitting dread that was building in her stomach seemed to fill her chest, and she could barely breathe. “It’s okay, Nehemiah. I’ll find Tiny, and then we’ll discuss ways of keeping him from escaping again.”
            She said good-bye and grabbed her coat from the hook near the back door, the beautiful chocolates left on the marble slab on the counter. She’d managed to mold all three flavors. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate. She’d purchased cute orange and white polka-dot cupcake wrappers to set the chocolates in. Hopefully May would be pleased.
            If not, she’d have to start from scratch, come up with another presentation for the chocolate wedding favors May had ordered.
            May, who had called three times to ask about the diet, the exercise program, and the dress. The one that still didn’t have a working zipper. Addie walked to the whiteboard list, put a red check near Fix dress, scribbled Find Tiny at the very top, wrote Figure out what to do about Tiny at the bottom.
            She wanted to believe Nehemiah could continue to take care of the puppy, but she didn’t want to stress out her elderly neighbor. She also didn’t want to put a strain on their friendship. She’d been there nearly every day when Mary Sue was dying. She’d cooked meals, swept floors, dusted. Mostly she’d just listened to her neighbors share stories of the life they’d had together. As Mary Sue’s illness grew worse, she’d lost the ability to speak, the cancer settling into her brain and stealing her ability to communicate. That’s when Nehemiah had started to talk about what he was losing and about how much he’d loved what he’d had with his wife.
            Only he hadn’t been talking to Addie. He’d been speaking to Mary Sue, saying the words over and over again as he held the hand of his dying wife. I loved you the day we met. I loved you the day we married. Every day after I have loved you, and I will love you through eternity.
            Thinking about it made goose bumps rise on Addie’s arms and tears burn at the back of her eyes. What Nehemiah and Mary Sue had? That was love, and when she’d seen it, she’d known that what she’d had with Adam had been a poor facsimile. She’d also known that Nehemiah would be lost without that love to guide him, that half of his whole would be gone and that he’d need someone to fill just a tiny bit of the space Mary Sue had left.
            She’d tried to do that, making him meals and visiting him every afternoon. It had been harder to do that since Granddad’s accident, but Nehemiah had seemed happy enough with Tiny keeping him company. Until now.
            No. She couldn’t add stress to Nehemiah’s life, and she couldn’t hurt their friendship over a dog.
            She’d come up with another plan for Tiny’s day care, and she’d bring Nehemiah to the local animal shelter, help him choose an elderly companion dog. One that would spend all day lying by the fireplace and thumping its tail every time Nehemiah spoke.
            She locked the shop’s back door, jogged to her car. Thank goodness she’d closed up for the evening.
Without an assistant to man the shop, she’d have had no choice but to close down during business hours.
That wasn’t something Byron would ever have done. Chocolate Haven was his first priority. Always.
Unfortunately, she had other things that needed her attention. Like her accounting business, her dog, her life.
            She climbed into the car, pulled around the side of the building and onto Main. A light in Granddad’s apartment was on, the soft glow of it spilling out onto the awning that covered the entrance to Chocolate Haven. Sinclair must have returned, but she hadn’t seen him or his truck.
            Not that she’d been looking.
            She’d been too busy to pay attention to the comings and goings of her grandfather’s tenant.
            Sure you were, a little voice whispered.
            She ignored it.
            She scanned the road as she drove down Main Street. No sign of Tiny. Two hours was a long time for a dog to be wandering around. He could be miles away, trotting down the highway heading for Spokane or Seattle or Idaho.
            God, she hoped not. He was a pain in the butt, but she didn’t want anything to happen to him.
            She passed Nehemiah’s saltbox-style house and pulled up in front of her bungalow. She hadn’t left any lights on, and the place was dark and a little lonely looking. She’d have to remember that she didn’t want to come home to that, because . . . well, she didn’t. She jumped out of the car, ran across the yard. Tiny wasn’t waiting on the front porch the way she’d hoped he would be. 


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Shirlee McCoy spent her childhood making up stories and acting them out with her sister. It wasn’t long before she discovered Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, her mother’s gothic romances . . . and became an ardent fan of romantic suspense. She still enjoys losing herself in a good book. And she still loves making up stories. Shirlee and her husband live in Washington and have five children. Readers can visit her website at www.shirleemccoy.com



Cross-posted at E-Romance News
 
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