Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meet the Characters – An Interview with Jacklyn Hollander from “Twisted Mind” by Ann Raina

A new love affair and a serial murder case don’t go well together.

After four murders of young men along the east coast, the FBI realizes they’re dealing with a serial killer. Agent Nicolas Hayes is assigned to lead the investigation. Besides solving the crimes, he tries to spend time with his new flame, Jacky, who’s got ideas of her own about how their love life should develop. Things turn ugly once a fifth kidnap victim is reported. Time is running out to find him alive.

Today we’re talking to Jacklyn Hollander from “Twisted Mind” by Ann Raina. Let’s get started. I’m sure our readers are eager to learn more about you.

Please, introduce yourself.
My name’s Jacklyn Hollander, and I’m thirty-four years old. I’m the daughter of a French costume designer and an American diplomat. I grew up in different countries around the world, but after my graduation, I worked in New York and Philly.

And what’s your profession?
Today, I’m a physiotherapist and happy with my job. Several years ago—and not only to finance my training—I worked as a mistress and quickly got the hang of it. Now that I opened my physiotherapy office in Washington, DC, I no longer swing the whips. Though it is satisfying to help people heal and assist them in regaining their mobility I don’t deny that I miss my old life sometimes.

If I have it right, you’re in a relationship now?
Oh, yes, I am. Nicolas is a young, very talented FBI agent—charismatic, clever, handsome. I met him when my car had a breakdown on the highway eight weeks ago. He helped me, and I…well, it was a split-second decision. See, all of my lovers so far had been older than me. He’s twenty-eight, grown-up but still with the gullibility of an adolescent. Nevertheless, I handed him my calling card, and he actually called me. He’s a great lover…and a chicken.

Would you like to explain that?
When I told to him that I’m into bondage games and would like to tie him up, he was hesitant. Really hesitant. He had never submitted himself to a woman before, and he couldn’t wind his mind around the idea of giving up control. The first time I thought he’d rather jump and run than lean back and enjoy the ride.

And did he run?
I had him tied to the bedframe, so…no. And he didn’t rush out after I untied the knots, if that would’ve been your next question.

How’s your relationship evolving?
Gradually. I’ve tried to get across that he’s the right man for me, but that I won’t forego being a mistress in a relationship. I need this to be really happy. So I’m teaching him step by step that my satisfaction is his, too. So far, it’s working.

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you – aside from finding the right partner?
I’m proud I could open my physiotherapy office in DC and be among those women who managed the jump to self-employment. I had help from two friends, whom I had met in Philadelphia. They were…clients at one of the clubs back then. In real life, Rick’s a successful lawyer and Harry owns a real estate business. Their backup helped me find affordable rooms, and they sent the first patients. The office is prospering, and that makes me very happy.

What hobbies do you have?
I’m not a sports person though I try to stay in shape. Nicolas introduced me to jogging, and whenever possible we spend time in the park. If no one pushes me, I’m a couch person. I like action movies, TV series, and I can sit with a bowl of popcorn to binge-watch any crime series. Though I’m half French, I don’t like cooking so much, but I don’t put my hope on Nick. He can’t cook at all and only makes a mess in the kitchen.

What inner doubt causes you the most difficulty?
My relationship with Nicolas is still in the first stage—getting to know each other. I don’t trust people easily, and though he tells me he loves me, I still doubt his honesty. It’s not fair for there are no clues that he’s not the man he says he is, but…it’ll take time to overcome my reticence.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely a morning person. I can get up at five and be a happy camper. I don’t need much sleep. Back in the days, dungeon time started around midnight, and I never found it difficult to get up in the early morning. I love to watch Nicolas crawl out of bed, all grumpy and bleary-eyed if he didn’t get enough sleep.

What’s your greatest wish?
Nicolas has a dangerous job, and each day he leaves for work, I hope he’ll come back unharmed. And if he does, I’m happy beyond words. I think it’ll take time to get accustomed to his unusual work hours and that he could get hurt while chasing some bad guy. I hope that—maybe in a year—I’ll look back with more ease. In other words—I’m happy with my life and with Nick at my side. I couldn’t wish for more.

Twisted Mind” is available through:

Connect with Ann Raina

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

New Release: "The President's Wife" by Seelie Kay

What happens when one of your best friends, the First Lady of the newly democratic Republic of Lodatia, appears to be an imposter? If you’re criminal defense attorney Julianna Constant, you pursue the truth like a rabid dog, then wage a battle to save your friend’s life.

When criminal defense attorney Julianna Constant travels to Washington, D.C. to join her former college roommate, Marella de la Aerelli, in celebrating her husband’s election as the first president of the newly democratic Republic of Lodatia, she is met with an unpleasant surprise. Her friend of almost 30 years not only looks unwell, she is cold and distant. After Julianna becomes convinced the woman is really an imposter, she attempts to expose the faux Marella by using a secret only she, Marella, and the sitting U.S. President share. In the process, Julianna helps to uncover an international conspiracy to seize control of the new country, using the president’s wife as a pawn in a dangerous and potentially deadly game. Will Marella be rescued before a coup takes place? Or will she become collateral damage in one tiny nation’s fight to be free?


Julianna picked at her dinner, some sort of beef dish with quirky vegetables, and continued to study Lodatian President Georges and Mrs. Marella de la Aerelli, as they chatted quietly with the U.S. president and his wife. Marella barely looked up from her plate, and conversation with her hosts appeared to be minimal. God, that is so not the Marella I know. She hasn’t even acknowledged me and I sent her an email informing her that I would be here.

Julianna set her fork down on her plate and nudged her husband, Little River, Wisconsin Police Chief David Manders. “Something’s wrong.” Julianna whispered. “Marella looks wrong. Maybe she’s just tired after the campaign, but she looks sick. Too thin and too pale. And she isn’t smiling. Marella is always smiling, even when she feels like shit. And she hasn’t even looked at me. Why is she ignoring me? Something is not right. I can feel it.”

David looked at his wife and tried to hide his smile. “Jules, you find a conspiracy behind every door these days,” he said quietly. He looked around to ensure that the other four couples seated at their table were otherwise engaged. “I vote for tired, no, make that exhausted. My God, five months ago, she was a farm wife in Lodatia, now she’s been thrust into the international spotlight as the wife of the President. That would exhaust anyone. I know if you ran for president, it would have a negative impact on me.”

Julianna smirked. “If I became President, sir, it would have a negative impact on both of us.”

David sighed and ran a hand through his short, silver hair. His piercing blue eyes gazed at his wife, his fondness apparent. “Well, instead of jumping to conclusions, let’s wait until the reception at the Lodatian Embassy. There are a lot of rules and protocols for visiting dignitaries. Maybe it just isn’t appropriate to buddy up to an old friend at a state dinner. Once you get up close and personal with Marella, you can get a better fix on things. That woman has been through the wringer, what with that opposition group trying to assassinate her husband not once, but twice. I imagine the stress of clinging to Lodatia’s newly formed democratic government is a kind of like hanging on to a cliff, knowing that if you fall, there will be no net to catch you. Cut her some slack and do not tell her she looks awful.”

Publisher – EXTASY BOOKS
Amazon: coming
Barnes & Noble: coming

About Seelie Kay

Seelie Kay writes about lawyers in love, with a dash of kink.

Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in nine works of fiction, including the Kinky Briefs series, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, and The President’s Wife, as well as the romance anthology, Pieces of Us.

When not spinning her kinky tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.

Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Author links:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Meet the Characters – An Interview with Sara Alderson from “Dream Student” by J.J. DiBenedetto

Sara Barnes has her life totally under control. All she has to worry about is college exams, Christmas shopping, applying to medical school--and what to do about the cute freshman who has a crush on her. And everything is going according to plan, until the night she starts dreaming other people's dreams.
It's bad enough that every night is a theater of her friends' and classmates' secret fantasies. Worse yet are the other dreams, the dark ones featuring a strange, terrifying man committing unspeakable crimes.
As the nightmares increase, Sara's life becomes a blur of waking and sleeping, of terror and urgency. Because if she was given this dream-sharing gift for a reason, it must be to stop the killer madman she's come to know all too well. But how can she stop him when she's just a student, and they're only dreams?

Today we’re talking to Sara Alderson from “Dream Student (the Dream Doctor Mysteries, prequel "Book Zero"),” by J.J. DiBenedetto. Let’s get started. I’m sure our readers are eager to learn more about you.

How old are you?
You’d think that would be a simple question, but it depends when you ask me. In my first book, I’m 21, and I’m still in college. By the end of my series, I’m 46 years old, and about to watch my daughter get married. And there are flashbacks, too, so you get to see me back when I was 16 and I had my horribly embarrassing first kiss with my best friend’s older brother.

What is your relationship status?
Married! Happily married to my wonderful husband, Brian. At least, after the first book. I’m single in the first book, though, but I meet him in chapter two, so it doesn’t take very long!

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
That’s a funny question. When I went out for New Year’s Eve with my husband (well, he wasn’t my husband yet, this was right after we met, in college), my mom bought me this amazing dress, and lent me her diamond earrings, and took me to the salon and everything, and when I looked in the mirror one last time before I left, and I thought I was looking at the older, prettier, more sophisticated sister that I don’t actually have. I still feel that way sometimes, all these years later.

Name three of your favorite things.
My husband.  Duh.  Although it’s not nice to call him a “thing” so I’ll pick something else. Let’s see… Long, uninterrupted bubble baths. And the “uninterrupted” is the key point here. My emerald. Our first Christmas (a month after we met), my boyfriend (not husband) gave me a small emerald necklace. He spent all the money he’d saved up to buy a used car, just because he thought it set off my eyes so nicely. And I’ve almost never taken it off since then. My first dog, Lumpy. He was a Golden Retriever, and I got him as a puppy for Christmas when I was ten. He was the best dog ever, and he was smart, despite what everyone else in my family thought.

What are you most afraid of?
Myself. When I was in college, I discovered I could step into other people’s dreams. Over the years, I learned that I could do more than just watch what they dreamed about. I could change their dreams – mess with their minds from the inside. I didn’t know I could do that, until I met someone else who had the same ability I do (this is in book four, which is called, “Waking Dream”) and she ended up causing someone to kill themselves. Ever since then, I’ve been conscious that I could do the same thing – even without meaning to. Even with the best intentions of helping someone, I could drive them crazy, or worse. So, yeah, I’m terrified of my own power.

What is your favorite food?
Anything spicy, the hotter the better. I didn’t always like spicy food, though. It was only after I had my daughter that my taste changed.

What is your favorite song?
Rick Springfield, “Jessie’s Girl.” Well, I was a teenager in the 1980’s, what do you expect? Plus, he was really hot back then!

Do you have a hobby and if yes, what is it?
Does reading medical journals for fun count as a hobby?

What was your first impression of Brian?
Oh, God, he was SO shy! It was almost painful. I had to make the first move, even though I knew he had a crush on me, because he’d been dreaming about me. And thanks to my “gift” I actually was there in his dream to see it. 

What would you most like to forget?
I’ve learned that forgetting is something you can’t – or at least shouldn’t – do, no matter how painful a memory is. I learned that the hard way. I was arrested (for something I didn’t do), and I was only in jail for one night but it was the worst night of my life, and I was – well, I won’t go into it here, but let’s just say I was “mistreated” and leave it at that. Anyway, for a couple of weeks afterwards, I couldn’t remember what had happened. I wouldn’t let myself remember. But the memory was still there, and it was toxic, and it wasn’t until I forced myself to tell my best friend everything, that I was right again. So I wouldn’t forget anything, no matter how awful it is.

Are you close to family?
Absolutely. My parents actually live with us, in what they used to call a “mother-in-law apartment” in back of our house. I’ve always been close with my parents, and (mostly) with my husband’s family, too (except for his mother, who finally, grudgingly, sort of accepts me by the time the series ends, and I’ve been married to her son for over twenty years). I didn’t always get along with my little brother; I’m told that when he was born, I asked if we could send him back and trade him in for a puppy (I don’t remember that, of course!)

Do you see morality as black-and-white, or with shades of gray?
That’s a tough question, because I always think of myself as a more black-and-white type of person, but I keep finding myself in situations where I honestly don’t know what the right thing to do is. You’d think it would get easier over time, but it sure doesn’t seem that way to me.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
I think in all my books, the only time that ever happened was my honeymoon, which the author didn’t even have the decency to write about except for a sentence or two about how much I enjoyed it. But it involved laying out on a beach with a drink in my hand (In a coconut. With an umbrella in it, too), looking out at crystal clear water and a perfect cloudless sky.

“Dream Student” is available through:

BOOKS2READ (link to all retailers including Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Google Play & Smashwords)

Connect with J.J. DiBenedetto

Friday, June 22, 2018

First Kiss Friday – An Excerpt from “Ulfbehrt’s Legacy” by Holly Bargo

Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome romance author, Holly Bargo, and an excerpt from her Contemporary Romance, “Ulfbehrt’s Legacy.”

Fleeing horrific abuse and an uncaring legal system in the USA, Zoe lands in Norway to study archeology, specifically pre-Viking civilization. With the nightclub where she worked and her apartment building condemned, she needs a new job and a place to live.

Her roommate and classmate Tabetha comes to the rescue with an invitation to move in with her family. Zoe’s grateful for the offer and the warm welcome Tabetha’s family extends to her, even though Tabetha’s oldest brother discomfits her.

Wounded in battle against eco-terrorists, elite sailor Lars moves back in with his family while he recuperates. Upon seeing his sister’s roommate, he discovers that his father’s “pow” theory of love isn’t just a cute story: Zoe stirs his blood like nothing else.

Zoe’s not looking for a relationship, but Lars’ gentle persistence shows her that she can trust him. However, an enemy wants to make Lars suffer by harming what will hurt him most, and one of Zoe’s abusers wants her back. She saved herself once, she’ll have to do it again.

First Kiss Excerpt

“I’m going to miss your family,” Zoe said as she and Lars walked back to the SUV. She shivered at the cold, which prompted Lars to wrap an arm around her and draw her close to his side as they walked.

“I’m glad,” he replied.

She looked up at him, her expression bewildered. He looked back down at her and added, “It shows you love them as much as we have come to love you.”

Her answering smile was tight. “I suppose you never guessed you’d get a new sister when Tabetha’s roommate came to visit.”

“I don’t see you as my sister.” His deep voice spoke the words quietly, but with no less conviction for their lack of volume.

Zoe’s feet skidded to a halt. “What do you see me as, Lars?”

“Something infinitely more.”

Her features scrunched in distress. “I—I can’t go there, Lars. You know why.”

Lars put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. He tipped her face upward by the gentle pressure of his finger under her chin. He bent down and, ignoring the sudden spark of fear in her eyes, pressed a kiss to her forehead. When he straightened, he said, “I know why and I won’t force you. I don’t force women.”


“Ulfbehrt’s Legacy” is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and available through:

Connect with Holly Bargo

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Meet the Characters – An Interview with Mason Harding from “Arresting Mason” by Amber Daulton

Once you’re in a prison gang, you’re in it for life. That’s what Mason Harding thought until the boss accepted his resignation. After the State releases him on parole, a sexy divorcée behind the wheel of a car almost ends his life quicker than a shank. His chance encounter with Mia Eddison results in a night of passion, but her brother—his parole officer—catches them together and doesn’t approve.

Mia falls hard for the cocky ex-con, but not because of his chiseled body. She vows to break through his walls and discover his secrets, but never expects those secrets to threaten her life.
When members of an organized crime ring kidnap Mia to force Mason’s return to the gang, he goes up against an old friend to save the woman he loves. Will his sacrifice be enough or will everything fall apart in a blaze of gunfire?

Today we’re talking to Mason Harding from “Arresting Mason: Arresting Onyx (book 1),” by Amber Daulton. Let’s get started. I’m sure our readers are eager to learn more about you.

What is your relationship status?
I’m happily engaged. I didn’t mean to ask Mia to marry me, especially since I hadn’t bought the ring yet, but the question just slipped right out. I couldn’t take it back, and I really didn’t want to. I needed to confess what I felt in my heart, and when she said yes, damn. I still can’t get over the overwhelming relief that surged me. I love her so much.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
A man who has made a ton of mistakes. Most people think I’m cocky and arrogant, which I am, but only the people who really know me can see the vulnerable man beneath the façade. Sometimes, I just can’t escape the regret I see in my eyes and in the fine lines on my face.

What is people’s first impression of you?
Women want me. They see the tattoos and my chiseled abs, and they flirt like they’re in heat. Before I met Mia, I definitely encouraged their behavior.
Men think I’m no good. I guess they could be right on that, but I try hard each day not to revert into the prick I used to be. I want to be a good person, but I don’t always come off as one when I first meet someone.

What is your best memory to date?
Nearly getting hit by a car. No really, I’m serious. That’s when I first met Mia. She’d nearly rammed my legs with her vehicle, and after I calmed the frantic woman down, I asked her to dinner. We probably never would’ve met without that little incident.

What are you most afraid of?
My past coming back to haunt me. Again. Mia and I have already survived a few throw downs with some old friends of mine, and I never want her in that type of situation again.

Now on to something lighter, what is your favorite drink?
Whiskey. I love that damn drink, but I haven’t tasted a drop of alcohol in over ten yeas. It’s like a drug to me, it makes me stupid and dangerous, and it’s my choice to stay sober.

What would you most like to forget?
The first time I spoke to my brother, Alan, while I was behind bars. The anger and tears in his eyes had ripped through me, and I will never forgive myself for the crap I’d put him through.

If you could go back in time, what one thing would you change in your life?
The reason why I ended up in prison. I never would’ve robbed that liquor store. Even when I did it, I knew it was wrong, but that didn’t stop me. I was nothing but a fool, and I’ve learned a very hard lesson from that mistake.

Are you close to family?
I suppose so. My brother and nephew are great, and I love them to death. I haven’t talked with my dad in years, but I’ve started talking with my mom. Maybe, it time, Mom and I will work out our differences, but I’m not holding my breath.

Do you see morality as black-and-white, or with shades of gray?
A bunch of gray, believe me. I’ve done too much crap to be one of those snobby people who doesn’t realize life isn’t perfect and you can’t wrap everything up in a neat little box.

Do you care about what others assume about you?
Not really, except for Mia and Alan. Their opinions mean a great deal to me.

If someone from your past showed up, who would you most NOT want it to be, and why?
There are tons of people I don’t ever want to see again, but I suppose my boss while in prison would be at the top of that list. I respect the hell out of Oskar Udell, and I will always think of him as a friend, but that part of my life is over. If I would see him again, I would feel obligated to do his bidding, especially after all he’s done for me. I couldn’t say no, and then I would have to deal with Mia’s fury. Her being mad is a sexy sight, but I don’t like hurting her. Anyway, Oskar is serving life in the slammer, so it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever show up on my doorstep.

Who in your life has the power to hurt you the most and why?
Mia is my everything. If she would ever leave me, I don’t know what I’d do. I need her like I need the air to breathe. Yeah, that sounds sappy, but I can’t help it. She completes me.

What is your most prized possession?
Mia will probably slap me when she finds out I told you this, but I gotta say her. Mia Eddison is my most prized possession, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I would do anything to keep her safe, and I mean anything. She knows that, and she knows the hell I’ve been through, so I think she’ll understand why I said this about her.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning person. I wake up at the crack of dawn, exercise, shower, and start my day. I don’t see a point in staying up late—unless I’m rolling with Mia in between the sheets—and I wake early because I’m grateful to be alive, and I just wanna start my day.

“Arresting Mason” is available through:

Connect with Amber Daulton

Friday, June 15, 2018

First Kiss Friday – An Excerpt from “The Thin Person Inside” by Rochelle Weber

Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome romance author, Rochelle Weber, and an excerpt from her Contemporary Romance, “The Thin Person Inside.”

Kristen Jensen, a Navy veteran, is at the end of her rope. She weighs almost three hundred pounds, and she’s becoming a cripple. Desperate for help, she asks her VA therapist if she can go into treatment with the addicts and the alcoholics. In treatment, Kristen meets Sean Wesley. She melts when she sees his black hair, blue eyes and perfect body, and assumes the only reason he’s speaking to her is that she’s the only other person in the room. She has no clue, at first, who he really is, or what a rock star could ever see in her.

Sean thinks it’s tragic that a pretty girl is trapped inside such a huge body, and when she shares her story, he’s impressed by her openness and honesty. She’s the bravest person he’s ever met, sitting with her fruit and salad surrounded by people eating the day-old pastry donated by the local bakery. He finds himself drawn to her, but she’s had decades to build her layers of defense.

First Kiss Excerpt

It started as a tentative kiss. She had only ever let him kiss her in a friendly way, and now he was maimed, missing an arm. Still, she opened her lips and met his tongue. She tasted of diet cola and he chuckled inwardly as he deepened the kiss. He felt his groin harden. At least that still worked… Hey, wait— He felt his groin harden!

“Not yet, Sean.”

“Why not? I thought you said my arm and paralysis didn’t matter.”

“It doesn’t.”

“Then what is it?”

“We don’t have our year of abstinence or sobriety yet, Sean.”


“We can’t yet. We don’t have our full year.”

“Well, we have something else to celebrate. I have a raging hard-on.” He was grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m sorry, Sean. I don’t mean to be a tease.”

She wasn’t getting it. In fact, she looked truly woebegone.

“It’s so hard, it hurts!”

“Really, Sean. We can’t. Not yet.”

“Kristen, it HURTS! Below my WAIST, it HURTS!” He tried to wiggle his toes, and they moved. “Look! My toes!”

“Oh, my Goddess! Sean! Oh, Sean! Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God!”

“The Thin Person Inside” is available through:

Connect with Rochelle Weber

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Meet the Characters – An Interview with Heath Barrow from “Civil Hearts (A Haunted Voices Novel)” by Claire Gem

A widow with no family, web designer Liv Larson yearns for big change. After all, she can work from anywhere, right? Why not throw a dart at the map? She heads out of the big city for the rural South and falls in love as soon as she arrives—with the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion.

Heath Barrow loves his country life, managing his antiques store in sleepy Camellia. But he’s lonely, and his condition—epilepsy—makes life uncertain. It’s already cost him a marriage. A new medication and the new girl in town have his heart hopeful again.

Sparks fly between Heath and Liv. But his first seizure sends Liv into a tailspin. Its mimics those her husband suffered before he died . . .

To make matters worse, Liv discovers she’s not living alone. Her challenge? Dealing with a Confederate soldier, one who clearly resents his Yankee roommate—even though he’s been dead for over a hundred and fifty years.

Claire Gem met with Heath Barrow in his store, Heath’s Heirlooms, to get to know him better. Heath lives and works in sleepy Camellia, Alabama. He is divorced and is quite a looker—sexy brown curls and chocolate eyes.

Claire: Thanks for allowing this time with me today, Heath. This is quite a store you have here! Looks like you have a little bit of everything.

Heath: Yes, I guess I do. I was bitten by the antiques bug when I was a kid, when my dad hauled my sister and I around to every auction within two hundred miles. It was just the natural thing to do when I graduated with my marketing degree to sell the things I knew the most about. I sell reproduction furniture too.

Claire: Did your sister stay in the business too?

Heath: She did. Cynthia manages my warehouse in Birmingham, and I rent her a little shop in the front to sell her vintage glassware and jewelry.

Claire: Vintage jewelry, huh? What kind?

Heath: Oh, she’s obsessed with the Victorian era. There’s something called “mourning jewelry” that she collects and sells, but personally, the stuff gives me the creeps.

Claire: Why’s that?

Heath: It’s made with the hair from dead people. Seriously! Sometimes it’s woven into intricate lace-sort of stuff, and other times it’s encased behind glass, like in a frame. (He closes his eyes and shudders). Morbid.

Claire: I’ve never heard of anything like that. I think it would give me the creeps too.

Heath: Yeah, well, a lot of people are fascinated by it. Like this new girl in town—the one who bought the old Belle Bride? She went into Cynthia’s shop yesterday and bought a brooch with two different kinds of hair in it. Two different dead people.

Claire: The Belle Bride . . . I’ve heard rumors about that place. What’s the deal?

Heath: It’s been mostly empty as long as I can remember. People buy it but leave within the first year. Nobody has ever stayed around long enough to fix it up. The last family restored the little barn out back but never even moved in.

Claire: You think it’s haunted?

Heath (shaking his head): I’m not one to believe in all that. I think it’s just a really big project sitting out in the middle of nowhere. People’s imaginations run away with them.

Claire: This new girl, what’s she like?

Heath (sliding his eyes off to the side and heaving a big sigh): Darn pretty. But I doubt she’ll last long out here in the boondocks. She’s a city girl, from New York.

Claire: What’s she doing here?

Heath: Damn if I know. She got it in her head she wants a new start, one completely different from the life she had. Not sure why. I’m going to try to get to know her better, though . . .
Claire (with a wink): Love interest, maybe?

Heath: I doubt it. Like I said, she’s a city girl. I don’t do well with those.

Claire: Why do you say that?

Heath: I was married once, to a local girl. But she’d spent her college years in Atlanta, and the city bug had bitten her. It didn’t take too long before she realized that Camellia wasn’t her thing. Or me.

Claire: I’m sorry to hear that, Heath.

Heath (running his fingers through his curls): Yeah, well, that wasn’t the only thing. I have a . . . condition. I’m epileptic. I’m on medication, but I still get a seizure every now and then. I had one at a most inopportune time for my ex—right in the middle of her big dinner party. That was the final straw that snapped our marriage, I think.

Claire: That’s terrible. I would think, if she truly loved you, she would have been more understanding.

Heath: She wasn’t, so I guess she didn’t. (He shrugs) I guess I’m sentenced to a life lived alone.

Claire: Maybe this city girl . . . what’s her name? Maybe she will be different.

Heath: Olivia Larson. Says to call her Liv. I hate to get my hopes up about her, but it’s really hard not to. She really got to me, right from the minute she first walked into my shop. (He stands and extends his hand) I’m headed out to an auction now, Claire. But it was really nice meeting you. And good luck with the book.

Claire: Same here, Heath. And best of luck getting to know Liv Larson. I can’t wait to see what happens between you two.

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