Okay so it looks like I fell off the planet. Promise - I'm still here. The last four years have been ... hard. There's no other word for it. Everything is fine. I'm fine, but I've been the caregiver of my mom who has Dementia. Between her needs, work, etc I seem to have lost control of my time. I am still writing and am trying hard to get back to my blog.

In case you weren't aware Phaze and HSWF which where under the Mundania Umbrella have closed. I was smart enough to get my titles back before all this happened. I'm happy to say the three books I sold to HSWF have been picked up by Melange Books and are available through their Satin Books imprint. I have even sold a new title to them called Magical Quest due out in 2022

I have also been lucky enough to find a publisher for my Vespian Way series. I'm now with Blushing Books under the name of Bethany Drake. I have five titles out with them right now and am close to submitting two more. There's Desire's Destiny, Desire's Duty and Desire's Promise. Then there is two in my werewolf series, Tears of the Queen and Legend of the Tears. I have just finished the rough draft of the third book in the series and have plans for a fourth one the moment I submit it.

I'll probably still be sporadic here on the blog. Unless I win the lottery and can hire someone to help me I can't avoid it, but know I'm still here still working hard in the background and am hoping to do better at keeping my blog alive.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! Plus My New Year’s Resolution

First I want to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. May 2015 bring you everything you wish for!

Now let’s talk about those resolutions. We all make them but how often do we keep them? I’m awful at keeping mine. So once again I’m going to try.

Personal goals:
I have one big one – don’t get stressed out. I let little things get to me and I need to remember the attitude of the people on Aruba “it’s okay.” If I can do that most of the things that normally stress me out will just fade away. This is one I will have to work at and there will be times when I’ll fail but I know I will be focusing on this regularly so I already feel successful.

Of course I want to lose weight. Writing is a sedentary job and I need to exercise to keep the weight off. This is one that has been on the list for a few years. I have started exercising, nothing big but it makes me feel better and if I keep the little I’m doing I’ll be happy. Baby steps.

I want to eat healthier too. My hubby and have a tendency to do this in spurts. We just need to make those spurts longer and keep at it until we are doing it all the time.

Writing goals:
I’m still going strong with my Vespian Way series so I will continue to write stories for Heather and Storm, but I also have a few others I have let sit on a back burner.

I want to finish a short story I started for Melange. I have the story in my head but just haven’t been working on the story. Time to change that.

I have a werewolf story I wrote several years ago. I need to pull it out of the mothballs and see if I can polish it to a point of publication. If I do it will be another series for me to work on.

Well that's my goals. What are yours?


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Meet My Latest Guest Patricia Preston!

I want to welcome Patricia Preston. First, I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Hi, Barbara. Thanks for having me over here! I’m a Southerner, who loves to listen to epic music while sipping on sweet tea and writing romantic stories. I’m working on a mainstream historical series set in the French Quarter of New Orleans during 1814-1815. The first book of the series, TO SAVE A LADY, is available now on Amazon. I’m also finishing a contemporary romance series set in a fictional town, Lafayette Falls, near Nashville, Tennessee. Both series are romantic novels with a dash of humor and lots of emotion and action.

I also have e-novella, Almost an Outlaw, published by Carina Press available now. And I have two short comedies, set in the South and filled with quirky Southern characters, available on Amazon.

Tell us about your latest release:

I wrote a book I’d always wanted to write. Such is the joy of Indie publishing. TO SAVE A LADY defies convention as far as historicals. Although the time period would fall under Regency, it is not set in England and the hero isn’t a duke. I threw everything I love in it. Starting with the French Quarter, a dashing captain, a desperate heroine, a snarky villain, some pirates, the battle for the city, political intrigue, masquerades and moonlight courtyards. By the time I was almost finished with this book, I knew I’d have to write Rafe and Simone’s story next. French Quarter Brides are for readers who love fast-paced romantic adventures set in the past.

You can read the first chapter here: www.frenchquarterbrides.blogspot.com

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain?

The Governor on Walking Dead. He was one bad guy and he got off easy. Out of all the characters, he was the one who should have been a meal for the walkers!

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books?

Don’t make me choose! I love all my babies!

3.) What are you working on now?

I’m working on TO LOSE A LADY and the first book in the contemporary series.

4.) What got you to start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Born a storyteller I guess!

5.) Where do you get your ideas from?

All over the place. I get ideas when I travel, when I’m doing research, from incidents that happen in life, from books, movies, even music.

6.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

Compared to my characters, I have a quiet life.

7.) Do you have any special talents?

None that I can list here. LOL.

8.) What song would you say describes your life?

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

9.) If you could come back as any animal, what would it be?

A white, blue-eye Persian cat because they are so pretty.

10.) If you could talk to any famous person, who would it be?

Jean Lafitte. I’d ask him what happened to him after the Battle of New Orleans. How was it that he just vanished from history?

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A move from Paris to New Orleans brings disaster to Elise Plaisance’s predictable life as a lady’s maid. The son of her grief-stricken mistress disappears, and Elise becomes involved in a dangerous masquerade when she turns to a devious gentleman for help finding the boy. Captain Jesse Cross has journeyed to New Orleans with General Jackson’s army, but his biggest battle is one of the heart when he falls for a French girl cloaked in mystery.

With the city on the brink of war, their romance is born in the darkness of a moonlit courtyard and never meant to last forever.

Deceived by an adversary and haunted by her tragic past, Elise must risk everything to rescue her mistress’s son before all is lost, and Jesse knows he has to stop her even if it means sacrificing his honor and his life to save a lady.

He tugged her onto the banquette where a street lamp hung from a rope suspended across the street. A haze of light shimmered through the fog. He stepped back to get a better look at his quarry.
A black hooded cloak, with beaded trim, shrouded her from head to toe. An excellent garment for pursuing a man in the dark. The deep hood obscured her face, except for the half mask she wore. The sparkling gemstones scattered across her silver mask winked at him.
He couldn’t believe a woman was out at this late hour following him.
You could expect anything to happen in this bizarre city.
He shoved his pistol in his waist belt. He figured he knew who was behind this caper. “Bonnard hatched this little plot, didn’t he?”
His cousin, Lieutenant Bonnard Reid, had been enthralled by the numerous whorehouses in the city. Bonnard acted like a kid running from one candy shop to another. He visited a different whorehouse every night and returned bragging about how the women were so adept in the art of pleasure.
Bonnard had begged Jesse to join him on his escapades, but Jesse had been too busy setting up the general’s headquarters. He figured his cousin had taken the matter into his own hands.
“Wait until I see him tomorrow. He won’t pull a stunt like this again.”
“I do not know the man you call Bonnard.” She repeated the name awkwardly.
He frowned. “But you are here intentionally?”
Oui.” She stepped forward, closer to him.
The seductive scent of flowers and musk intoxicated him. Like her face, her body was hidden. It was all shadows and secrets beneath the cloak except for the flirty mask with its twinkling gems, but his imagination pictured her as a beautiful woman. Nude, of course.
“I am your liaison.” Her sensual voice was a mere whisper carried in the wind.
“Liaison?” The implication was so intimate that it aroused him. He reminded himself she could look like a toad for all he knew. She could have a husband and ten kids waiting at home for her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I know, I know, where's the writing down the bones segment? I haven't posted anything since the - what - beginning of November? I'll start back with them after the first of the year once everything around here calms down.

You see Christmas is when my family invades. This year it's my sister, her hubby, My dad and my step-mother along with my brother-in-laws family. I always cook Christmas dinner - turkey and all the fixens! As crazy as this might sound I enjoy doing it. I love having my family around me.

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, or what you might celebrate this time of the year. I hope you are healthy, happy and safe for the holiday season.

Tis a month before Christmas
And John is in the attic
What is he doing?
Snarling and growling because I’m in a panic
There are trees to put up – I’ve now go three
And rooms to decorate
There’s shopping and cooking – will I ever be free?
There’s the writing and editing and blogging for sure
My brain is spinning
Is there a cure?
But somehow I do it
Year after year
How I don’t know
But I succeed – never fear
I take a deep breath and do what I must
I write, then I edit then work on my blog
I push and push until I could bust
Now the holiday is here
And everything is done
I’m happy for my family, friends and my fans who are dear
My crazy mind that comes up with the wild stories that I share
For my job and my passion to write
Sometime they make me pull out my hair
But I love each story
I wish all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Barbara Donlon Bradley

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Welcome my Newest Guest! Rachel Smith!

I want to welcome Rachel Leigh Smith. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

I write romance for the hero lover. Because I’m a hero lover. Whenever you pick up a book with my name on it you can be certain it’s a story about the hero.

I live in Louisiana, where I root for the Arkansas Razorbacks because my dad’s a UA alum and I was born in Little Rock. I’m the oldest of four, was homeschooled, love cats, and shrimp is my favorite food. Purple is my favorite color. I do my hair and makeup 1940’s style. Tom Selleck is one of the sexiest men alive. And chocolate should always be eaten without fruit, without nuts, without caramel, and absolutely without whipped cream.

Tell us about your latest release.

It’s the first book in the A’yen’s Legacy series, My Name Is A’yen. Set 3,000 years in the future it’s the story of an enslaved alien race’s fight to restore their freedom and return to their homeworld.
They've taken everything from him. Except his name.

The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A'yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master's murder, has sucked the life from him. Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant.

Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and is determined to prove it. And win A'yen's trust. But she's a breeder's daughter and can't be trusted.

Hidden rooms, information caches, and messages from a long-dead king change A'yen's mind about her importance. When she's threatened he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Breeders Association's radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

Scorpius! He was the villain in Farscape, a space opera TV show that ran from 1999 to 2003 on SyFy, back when it was spelled Sci-Fi. He wanted the wormhole knowledge in the main character’s brain, and no tactic was too low for him. He went so far as to put a mental clone of himself in Crichton’s head and it wreaked all kinds of havoc.

Scorpy, as Crichton called him, is a fully formed, three-dimensional bad guy with a complete back-story and moments where you almost feel sorry for him.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

A’yen, without a doubt. He’s the main character in the first three A’yen’s Legacy books. His arrival helped me heal from a marriage gone bad and restored my ability to write. I wrote the first draft of My Name Is A’yen in 86 days. He’s a snarky smart-ass who will do anything to keep his heroine safe. Including sacrificing his own dignity and pride.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I write science fiction romance and historical romance. Weird combo, I know. History has always been my favorite subject, so it was a natural thing to settle on when I wrote my first novel.

The SFR came out of nowhere. I had no idea it was an actual genre until after I finished the first draft of My Name Is A’yen. Now I have five completed SFR novels in the A’yen’s Legacy universe, half a dozen more planned, and another SFR series built on multiverse theory and alien genetic experiments.

4.) What are you working on now?

I’m deep in edits on A’yen’s Legacy numbers two and three, The King’s Mistress and To Save A Life. The King’s Mistress releases January 20.

5.) What got you to start writing?

I don’t really remember ever not writing. The first thing I clearly remember writing was what I considered missing scenes from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, namely between the beach kiss and the wedding. I also wrote Hardy Boys and Thoroughbred fan fiction for several years before switching exclusively to original stuff. I finished my first novel in the fall of 2011.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

Everywhere! My Name Is A’yen came in a dream. My historical was born out of research I was doing at my job at a plantation-turned-museum. My other SFR series came out of a desire to play with alternate dimensions and creatures with feline characteristics. (I’m a cat person, and owned by a half-crazed calico.)

The fifth A’yen’s Legacy book was born after I read Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and asked myself what if someone was as trained as Acheron in physical pleasure, but actually enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun to write. The hero in that one, Lorin, is about as polar opposite of A’yen as a hero can be.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

That I see the world in black and white. There’s right and there’s wrong, and very few shades of gray. Yet shades of gray is where I live in my writing. Go figure!

8.) Do you have any special talents?

I can swing dance and waltz. Other than words, I’m not that creative. Can’t draw, can only paint if it’s by number. I do counted cross-stitch all the time, and I have a fondness for intricate patterns that makes people stare at what I’m doing and wonder how I’m not losing my mind doing it. I like to use hand-dyed fabrics too and find just the right one to set off the design.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?

Finish your first draft! You’ll learn more by finishing that very first first draft, than from any class or workshop you ever take. And it’s true. Once I had a completed novel under my belt I knew this was the life for me and that I had many many more stories in me.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

This is such a hard question. I’ve watched so much science fiction that I’ve absorbed the lessons of time travel. The first one is don’t mess things up. One of the easiest ways to mess things up is to talk to people.

That aside, a conversation with Louisa May Alcott would be fun. I love her stuff, especially An Old-Fashioned Girl. I’d like to ask her if she’s on Team Laurie or Team Professor Bhaer. I’m on Team Professor Bhaer, but my sister’s on Team Laurie.

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

You know, I can’t think of one. In the grand scheme of things my life has been pretty boring. I was 18 before I ever left the United States. But I love my life and wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A cat! So I could sleep most of the day and everyone would think I’m adorable while doing it. There are days I want to trade places with my cat, Zoe.


He did what he did best and faded into the background while Dr. Hart finished giving instructions. None of them applied to him anyway. She turned to him and he followed her back into the main room and set about gathering the things he’d need to measure the grid so he could lay out the base map. 
Twenty minutes later all nineteen of them, counting him, left base camp. He remained up front with Dr. Hart despite the looks from some of the others. Part of his job was to keep her safe and, breeder’s daughter or not, he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t live up to his designation of protector. Even without having had those instincts enhanced when he was marked the first time, he’d still do it. 
The group hiked for two miles through pristine forests painted with hues of purple, blue, orange, yellow, and red. Trying to capture the play of color had stymied him last time. Maybe with more time he’d figure out how to transfer it to paper. Here and there along the path, white flowers stretched for the sun. Still no bird song. 
Like last time, the presence of pathways and what might have been roads surprised him. It was almost as if the planet held its breath, waiting for someone to return. These little details were things not even the best scans picked up. Mapping these almost roads could be useful, especially if Dr. Hart found evidence of a past civilization. 
A growing part of him wanted her to succeed. 
The path forked and they went left. Trees parted and another meadow stretched before them, the biggest one on this part of the continent, and a logical place to start looking for evidence of a city or village. Here and there stone pillars pointed to the sky. A rainbow of flowers covered every inch of the meadow. The earth-moving equipment covered the southeast corner of the meadow.
 I wish we didn’t have to get rid of these flowers to excavate. They’re so beautiful.”
 One eyebrow lifted at the sorrow in her voice. “From what I remember, they’re fairly common.”
 She looked at him then, a hint of a smile chasing across her face. “When you grow up on a desert world, there’s nothing fairly common about wildflowers.” Kneeling, she bent her head and inhaled the perfume wafting from the flowers.
 So many contradictions wrapped up in this bundle named Farran Hart.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Welcome My Latest Guest Martha O'Sullivan

I want to welcome Martha O’Sullivan First I’d love you to introduce yourself.

Thanks for having me, Barbara. I write sexy, contemporary romance with traditional couples and Happily Ever After endings. My Chances trilogy was published in September, October and November 2013 by Red Sage Publishing.

Tell us about your latest release.

 My latest release is the conclusion of my Chances trilogy, Last Chance. When I started writing Second Chance, a trilogy was the farthest thing from my mind. Moira and Paul's story was originally part of that first novel. But as Lindsay and Brian's adventure evolved, I realized there wasn't room in the book to do Moira and Paul justice. And since Delaney and Mike's Chance Encounter was dancing relentlessly in my head, I put Moira and Paul on hold. Now it’s their turn for Happily Ever After. What better way to conclude the Chances trilogy than to come full circle.

Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?

Larry Hagman from Dallas. He was frighteningly brilliant, cunningly manipulative. And that wicked smile...But there was something endearing about him. You hated to love him, but you did.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?

Moira Brody, the heroine in Last Chance. Moira is strong and independent, yet vulnerable on the inside. She is loyal to a fault and her tough love forces others, and subsequently, herself out of their comfort zone.  There’s probably more me in her than any of my other characters.  

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?

I write contemporary romance novels with traditional couples and happy endings because that’s what I’ve always enjoyed reading. The stories are about finding true love, not just lust, even in the wake of unexpected and seemingly insurmountable circumstances. And trusting in that love enough to take the leaps of faith that lead to happily ever after.

4.)What are you working on now?

I’m writing a sweet and steamy Christmas novel set in Costa Careyes, Mexico.

5.) What got you to start writing?

I’m a lifetime reader. I always found myself drawn to the wire rack of slightly musty and lovingly tattered paperback romance novels at the public library. The books took me to places all over the world where effortlessly beautiful, wonderfully flawed heroines were swept off their feet by dynamic, irresistible heroes. And if I found the ending disappointing or abrupt, I would simply continue the story in my head. But why it all starting clicking on that April night in 2008 beats me!
6.) Where do you get your ideas from?

I love watching people and trying to figure out their story. Everybody has one. And sometimes characters start dancing around in my head and won’t stop until I let them out!

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?

I revised Second Chance, the Chances trilogy opener, at least a hundred times before I sold it. Every time I was rejected by a publisher or discounted in a contest, I’d go back and rewrite based on the comments. As disheartening as that was, it made me a better writer in the end.

8.) Do you have any special talents?

Not particularly. I’m not musically inclined or athletic. My greatest strength is probably my ability to get along with all types of people. And I love words.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Never give up on yourself. At RWA Nationals in 2010, Nora Roberts recounted going to book signings on Saturday mornings where no one showed up. She remembered sitting there with a stack of books, as the bookseller silently pitied her, wishing away the day. But she never gave up on herself.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

Jesus Christ. I’d ask him what I could do to live more in his likeness and why forgiveness and faithfulness are so hard to come by.  

11.) What song would you say describes your life?

The Time of My Life by Green Day.

12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?

My Cairn Terrier Butterscotch. No dog was more loved and spoiled. And she sleeps half the day! 

Martha O’Sullivan’s Chances trilogy is available now from Red Sage Publishing. In Second Chance, star-crossed lovers Lindsay Foster and Brian Rembrandt get a second chance at love amid the brilliant blue waters of Lake Tahoe. In Chance Encounter, Delaney Richards and Mike Savoy’s quest for love takes them from Tahoe’s fawn-colored shores to the serpentine streets of San Francisco. And the heat in Last Chance comes not from the blazing summer sun and rugged, white-hot sand, but from the long-bridled desire between friends-turned-lovers Moira Brody and Paul Webster. Here’s an excerpt from Last Chance:

Excerpt from Last Chance
by Martha O’Sullivan

         The black ice cast an eerie sheen on the road ahead and the glare of the oncoming high beams had Paul squinting as if at the summer sun. The weather was coming in fast and he wondered if Moira had gotten home safely.
         Or at all.
         Or alone.
         He should’ve gotten her roses.
         But he didn’t.
         Because she’s...Moira. Effortlessly beautiful, remarkably grounded, perpetually good-natured Moira.
         And tonight she was something else.
         Irresistibly sexy.
         In tight-fitting jeans and a scooped-neck top he’d never seen before.
         With her freshly washed, begging to be touched spiral curls skimming her shoulders.
         And eye makeup.
         With red lipstick.
         She smelled pretty good too. Like spring rain and lilac laced with desire.
         All for the guy begging for roses at the flower shop. For someone he’d been “interested in” for a while. For whom he had a last minute arrangement thrown together.
         From his cuttings.
         For his girl.
         Paul huffed out a harried breath.
         Is that what she was?
         Apparently not.
         But he sure as hell wanted her to be.
         He slammed on the brakes and the Beemer swerved, then leveled, sliding into the precarious U-turn.
         It took Paul twice as long as usual to get back into town with the slick roads. And by then the temperature had dipped enough to turn the spitting rain into pellets of steel. A frigid, damp sleet akin to the block of ice that had staked a claim in the pit of his stomach.
         Turning the high-curbed corner, he heaved a halfhearted sigh of relief when he saw no car in the driveway and a hodgepodge of lights burning inside.
         She was home.
         Unless they came in one car, he prepared himself through gritted teeth.
         Paul knew the garage code, but didn’t want to scare her, so he opted for the conventional route. He could see her profile through the slates of the plantation shutters as he made his way up the flagstone path to the front porch. She was in the kitchen fussing with something, still dressed up like she hadn’t been home long.
         Alone, it would seem.
         His throat muscles contracted as his mind began to race. Had her date seen her home or had they parted ways at the office? Gone somewhere for a drink after dinner? Made another date? He looked on as Moira stepped back from the beaded board kitchen island, arms drawn across her chest, and appraised her work. The midnight blue jeans sat just below her hips, hugging every one of her curves from hip to ankle and Paul found himself disturbingly covetous. The sheer shirt rested at her waistline and when she bent over, the dimples at the small of her back implored him to wonder what came next. And her breasts looked bigger somehow, like they’d grown overnight. The mere thought of it made his heart skip a beat and his cock begin to grow ridged.
         Seemingly pleased with her work, she reached for the dish towel flung over her shoulder and dried her hands.
         That’s when she saw him out of the corner of her eye.
         She did a double-take, then mingled with his soulful gaze momentarily. He thought the corners of her mouth curved slightly upward, but the distance between them was too great to be sure. She shook off whatever she was thinking and walked toward the front door. He visualized her on the other side, squeezing her eyes shut and taking a few deep breaths before opening it. She greeted him with a wobbly, “Hey.”
         She looked captivating in the amber light. Her eyes were languid and clung to his as if unwittingly attached. Her lips were naked now and Paul told himself it was from eating. The tendrils around her face had doubled, like some vagabond strands had fallen from the clip at the crown of her head. Also from natural causes, he forced himself to assume. “Hey,” he returned.   “Can I come in?”
         “Of course,” she invited blandly, ushering him in.
         Stepping inside, Paul rapid-fired, “I’m glad you’re home. I wanted to—”
         “Where else would I be at eleven o’clock at night?” she cut him off.
         “I don’t know.” His mind was suddenly a mare’s nest and his palms were beginning to sweat. “I wasn’t sure what your plans were for the rest of the evening.”
         “I’ve been home for almost an hour,” she informed him crisply.
         “Alone?” His eyes scanned the house beckoningly.
         “Yes,” Moira patronized. “It was just dinner, Paul.”
         On Valentine’s Day, he silently added. “About that, I came by to apologize.” He wondered if she sensed the audible relief in his voice. “I shouldn’t have assumed we’d see each other tonight. And I certainly shouldn’t have assumed you’d be,” he bit off the word, “available.” He looked away then, into the cottage-style kitchen, and saw what she’d been working on.
         His flowers.
         She must have acquired clairvoyant powers in those few seconds, because her tone softened and she said, “I had to bring them home. They were too beautiful to waste.”
         Like her.
         No, like them.
         With four wide steps he advanced into the antique white kitchen he’d designed. “Where are the roses?”
         She followed him. “At the office.”
         “They’re not too beautiful to waste?” he quickened in a thick voice, turning to face her.
         “No, they are.” Her breath hitched. “They’re just not from you.”
         Her emerald saucers were filling behind their licorice lashes and she was biting her bottom lip, trying to hold back the tears. Paul couldn’t have stopped himself from going to her if he’d wanted to.
         “Moira, what are we doing?” he entreated, gripping her forearms. “What have I done? Have I lost you?”
         She shook her head from side to side and her eyes began to empty, leaving sooty tire-like tracks on her china doll face. Tipping his head back in silent thanks, Paul took her in his arms. She moved into his body, sobbing through sawed-off breaths.
         “Tell me nothing happened. Tell me there’s nothing between you and him,” he prayed out loud after an affecting moment.
         She answered by burrowing her head deeper into his shoulder and wreathing his middle. He felt her breathing level off and he kissed the top of her coal-black mane. She smelled like a subtle version of earlier, infused with wine and garlic. Hope replaced the uneasiness in his stomach and he heard himself say, “I had to force myself not to go back there. I’ve been driving around for hours, going crazy.”
         She angled out of his grasp just enough to make eye contact. Suddenly she was the girl he used to know again, not the woman tying his insides into knots. Or maybe the perfect combination of both. Her eyes began to shine and a satisfied smile curved her lips. “You have?”
         “Yeah. Like outside my mind crazy.” He laid his lips on hers and tasted the salt from her tears. She melted into the kiss, then the next. He wondered if she could sense him growing behind the zipper. Or the spool of want unwinding into a thousand frazzled threads in his gut. Gasping for air, he released her mouth and cupped her face. “You make me crazy, Moira Brody. Absolutely crazy.”
         Her breath caught in her throat and her eyes began to swell again. She swallowed hard and allowed, “Then I like you crazy.”
         Resting his forehead on hers, he let the night roll down his back like a recalcitrant tumbleweed. Then he closed his eyes and appealed, “Do I need to fight for you, Moira?”
         She laughed a little. “Well, Jason did bring flowers, dinner, wine.”
         “I brought flowers, dinner, wine,” Paul defended high-mindedly, straightening. “Did you ever get the Chinese food?”
         “Yeah, it’s in there.” She nodded over his shoulder at the sub-zero they’d picked out together.
         “It’s your favorite. Cashew chicken.”
         “Thank God,” she gushed, dabbing the outer corners of her eyes. “I’m starving.”
         Paul’s nose wrinkled. “Did Bernini’s have a bad night?”
         “Not from what I picked at.”
         “Poor guy,” he gloated through a chuckle. “Went to all that trouble for nothing.”
         “I wouldn’t say for nothing,” Moira demurred, her eyes dancing with innuendo. “He seemed to enjoy the evening.”
         “Oh?” inquired Paul, stepping out of her embrace.
         Gleaming now, she raised her eyebrows mischievously. “Yeah.”
         He felt his expression plummet. “Did he kiss you good night?”
         “He did,” preened Moira.
         Paul couldn’t believe how much that bothered him. “Did you want him to?”
         Her face instantly sobered. “No,” she avowed, then finished with hushed care. “I wanted you to come back.”
         “I did.” As if he’d had any choice in the matter. Paul drew her to him again and ran his hands up and down her willowy back. “I had to.”
         “That was all I could think about during dinner,” she lamented into the crook of his shoulder. “That I could’ve spent Valentine’s Day with you.”
         “Don’t let it happen again.” He leaned back and dried her tearstained cheeks with his thumbs. “I know I won’t,” he warned gallantly.
         “I didn’t want it to happen to begin with.”
         “Good to hear.” He kissed her nose with the puissance of a snowflake. “Think he’ll call you?”
         She shrugged matter-of-factly. “Yeah.”
         “What will you say?”
         “What should I say?” Her voice was hopeful.
         “No.” He reached into his jacket pocket. “And thank you.”
         Her eyes narrowed in confusion as she took the red velvet box from his open hands. “What is this?”
         He gestured toward the white satin bow-topped lid with a tip of the head. “Open it and find out.”
         Moira obliged as Paul looked on eagerly. A tiny gasp escaped her throat when she saw the studs inside.
         “I know they’re on the small side, but you’re not one for flash.”
         She glided her fingertips over each diamond. “They’re beautiful.”
         “Megan thought they were perfect.” Just like you, he almost said.
         Her astonished gaze shifted upward. “Megan?”
         “She’s not sick. She found another sitter for tonight.” He paused to let the benevolent betrayal sink in. “So we could spend Valentine’s Day together.”
         “Oh, Paul! I’m so sorry!” she effused. “I had no idea.”
         Neither did he. Until just now. And the realization hit him like a ton of bricks. “You can make it up to me tomorrow night,” he told her extemporaneously. “We’re going on a date. It’ll be our first one.”

Last Chance
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Martha O'Sullivan has loved reading romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing her own novels is the realization of a lifelong dream for this stay-at-home mom. Martha writes spicy, contemporary romances with traditional couples and happy endings. She is the author of the Chances trilogy from Red Sage Publishing. Her current work-in-progress in a sweet and steamy Christmas novel set in Costa Careyes, Mexico. A native Chicagoan, she lives her own happy ending in Tampa with her husband and two daughters.

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Find Martha on the web at: marthaosullivan26.wix.com/marthaosullivan