Monday, December 18, 2017

#Interview #SpotLight ~ Grace’s Turmoil By Peter Perrin ~ @peterperrin44

Grace’s Turmoil
By Peter Perrin
Interview with Peter Perrin:

Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting  Peter Perrin. Welcome, Peter! I am so excited to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?

Peter: Well, let's see. I've been married to my second wife for almost forty years, and she is my soul mate.

Crystal: What are you currently working on?

Peter: I haven't mastered the art of multitasking so there's no real next piece of work yet. But I have found myself scribbling scaps of scenes and bits of dialogue for book two into a notebook as they occur to me. I even have tiny bits of up to another four books after 'Not Too Old for Love: Grace's Turmoil'.

Crystal:  Where did you come up with the idea for either your current release or your current WIP?

Peter: I wanted to show that people over forty (or in my book 'over sixty') aren't sitting with their feet up, just waiting to die. They can still have romance and relationships in their lives. Some of the spirit of the characters is drawn from members of my local Community Centre, and its members will certainly recognize the centre in one scene.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite snack that you like to munch on while writing? If so would you mind sharing what it is with us?

Peter: Oh, that would definitely be dark chocolate. Great anti-ageing apparently, plus good for creativity, and tastes amazing.

Crystal:  Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?

Peter: I have several, but then I'm biased. But there is one that my Critique Partner loved that involves the hero and a man-hungry (but married) woman he is introduced to in the local Royal British Legion club. (I guess the USA equivalent would be a veterans club).

Crystal:  When you are not busy writing wonderful stories to keep us lucky readers entertained, what do you like to do? Do you have a hobby?

Peter: Despite being seventy-three I'm still a kid at heart and I play games on my PlayStation 4, and have just gone back to playing 'World of Warcraft' online on my laptop after a few years off. Oh and I fish for Carp and recently caught a lifetime best fish of 26 pounds (about 12 kilos I think).

Crystal:  Do you have a favorite background noise you like to having going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?

Peter: When writing or thinking about the book the only sound I want to hear is the sound of silence. Any noise at all throws me completely.

Crystal: Thanks for visiting. It has been a pleasure having you visit today. Can you think of anything else you would like to share with us today?

Peter: Just that it seems the average age of romance readers is between thirty and forty, yet the average heroine in those books is in her early twenties. It seems more mature readers of romance novels are asking for heroines they can identify with, and that’s what I’ve tried to give them. Long live Seasoned Romance.

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Blurb: 

Divorced and emotionally damaged, artist Grace Stollery wants nothing more than to spend her semi-retirement painting and let time heal her emotional scars.

But when dashing widower Alfred Nobel moves into her retirement village he turns her life upside down and her heart inside out by awakening feelings she wants to keep dormant.

Alfred quickly sets out to woo Grace and slowly she warms to him. But the village’s resident femme fatale wants him for herself. Will she succeed in driving a wedge between Alfred and Grace?

Buy Link:

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 Excerpt: Grace’s Turmoil
Not Too Old for Love
Book 1

Grace jabbed at the volume button on the remote control, turning up the sound on the television. She was trying to drown out the chatter which filled the palatial residents’ lounge. It had been like that for days, and she’d grown tired of it. Who would have thought the imminent arrival of one man could affect mature ladies like that?
One of the things which had appealed to her when she moved to The Grange retirement village was the lack of men. Yet a man who aroused feelings in her she didn’t want was going to add to their number.
Grace had caught a glimpse of him across The Lounge a few months ago, taking the standard tour of The Grange. He'd towered over the young woman he’d been with, and she’d guessed he was at least six-foot-five. Built like a tank, with a mass of wavy white hair and a snow-white beard, he’d reminded her of a polar bear. His presence had been overpowering and almost menacing. An image of him defending a seventeenth century mansion in days gone by had jumped into her mind.
Looking at him had sent a spontaneous burst of attraction rippling through her. It had caught her by surprise. Becoming attracted to anybody was the last thing she’d needed right then. Her divorce had been too recent and too painful. All she wanted was to focus on her painting to block out the pain. Although she hadn’t come there to look for a man, there was no denying how she’d reacted to the sight of him. She wondered how she would cope when they met. And she couldn’t help feeling he was going to have quite an impact on her life. Whether it would be a good impact or not was the million-dollar question. He might be the greatest thing since sliced bread! Or he could turn out to be a snake in the grass like her ex-husband.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~
About the Author: Peter Perrin

Peter Perrin writes sweet, seasoned romances involving larger-than-life mature characters who will make you rethink your views on older people in a positive way. His characters are mature in age but not necessarily in their behaviour. They may not be in the first flush of youth but that doesn’t stop some of them acting like hormonal teenagers.
Peter was born in Romford, in the county of Essex, near London, England. For nearly twenty years he has lived with his wife of almost forty years in a quiet suburb of Swindon, in the county of Wiltshire, in England. He is a father and grandfather.
He is a former member of The Royal Air Force who has served in the UK, and in Madagascar, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. He was also stationed for two years in Aden—which nowadays is part of Yemen.
After almost fifteen-years’ service in The Royal Air Force Peter worked in Engineering, Quality Control, and Procurement Management, not to mention myriad smaller jobs in between those careers.
Now retired Peter’s interests are Writing, Carp Fishing, and (despite being in his early seventies) PC and PlayStation games.
His favourite quote is “Youth passes, but with luck, immaturity can last a lifetime.”

Author Links: 

Amazon:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

#Review ~ Temptations of Christmas Future By Lexi Post ~ @LexiPost


I love Christmas books and I love Lexi Post's books. Pardon me for a moment while I bask in my glory of a Christmas book from Lexi Post! Temptations of Christmas Future is the third book in Ms. Post's Christmas Carol series. Each book has been fabulous.  I started this book and had a really hard time putting it down. My Kindle battery went dead or I would not have been able to set it down and I would have finished it in one sitting. 

Joy Collingwood is one of the good girl spirit guides. She sweet, kind, and wants to help everyone. She is surprised an yet excited when she is teamed up with Malcolm MacLachlan for spirit guide mission. She knows he is a little rough around the edges but she thinks she might be able to help him.


Malcolm MacLachlan is ready for one more mission and he must prove himself with this one or his tenor as a spirit guide just may be over. He wants to show Joy that life isn't all roses and peaches. He thinks she might be a little too sweet. 


So these two completely different spirit guides set out on their mission to help Holly, their boss' widow, see her possible future and help her set a path for a good future. Joy and Malcolm have two completely different attitudes towards things but they work well together. They are also massively attracted to each other. The attraction soon leads intense passion. These two unlikely spirit guides soon find they have a lot more in common than they thought.


Lexi Post has created yet another fabulous story that has all those good things that make a story perfect. This lady has an incredible talent for writing a steamy hot story with plenty of drama, mystery, and characters that quickly become friends. I enjoyed the whole idea behind this series. I love the Characters, I love the paranormal aspects and the storylines.  No matter what genre this lady writes in the story is fabulous. Lexi Post is always on my MUST read list. I can't wait to see what incredible story she has in store for us next. No matter what it is I know it will be a great read. 

If you love a HOT Christmas story then you need to grab this book now. Each of these books will stand on their own just fine but they are all so GOOD that you may just want to go ahead and grab all three of them right now. Then settle in and enjoy. 


I was given the opportunity to read this fantabulous story and it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you.


You may read more of my reviews on Lexi Post's work here.



Amazon Buy Link 

Desires of Christmas Present (A Christmas Carol Book 2) by [Post, Lexi]
Review 
Desires of Christmas Present

Pleasures of Christmas Past (A Christmas Carol Book 1) by [Post, Lexi]
Pleasures of Christmas Past
My Review

Friday, December 15, 2017

#SpotLight #excerpt ~ Delectable By Ann Grech ~ @anngrechauthor @HotTreePromos

"This book is so... Delectable, Delicious, Dirty, Damn good!"

Delectable 
Gold Coast Nights Book 1

About the Book: 
Can true love really withstand any test? Suffering from PTSD, Connor returns from war to his best friends. Are they the key to this Australian ex-soldier’s happily ever after? Ann Grech’s delectable MMF menage romance will take you on an emotional roller coaster through twists and turns leaving you breathless.

Connor
I owe Levi everything, so when I fell for his girl, I did the only thing a good mate would do. I left. Ran. Six years in the Army and I still couldn’t forget. But I couldn’t stay away any longer.

And now I’m realizing it wasn’t just her I’d fallen for.

Levi
He left us to defend our country. While I was living in paradise, happy, and in love with my gorgeous girl, he faced horrors I can't even imagine. It nearly broke me knowing he was there, and we were here. Twenty years we’ve known each other and we’re still inseparable. Now I’m beginning to understand how, in another life, we could have been so much more. 

Katy
Levi’s the love of my life, my soulmate. And life is good. We’re so damn lucky… blessed to have found each other. But when Connor left, he took a piece of my heart and we’re incomplete without him. In limbo.

NOW HE’S BACK.
Genre: M/M/F Romance

☆ BUY LINKS ☆




About the Author: 
By day Ann Grech lives in the corporate world and can be found sitting behind a desk typing away at reports and papers or lecturing to a room full of students. She graduated with a PhD in 2016 and is now an over-qualified nerd. Glasses, briefcase, high heels and a pencil skirt, she’s got the librarian look nailed too. If only they knew! She swears like a sailor, so that’s got to be a hint. The other one was “the look” from her tattoo artist when she told him that she wanted her kids initials “B” and “J” tattooed on her foot. It took a second to register that it might be a bad idea.



She’s never entirely fit in and loves escaping into a book—whether it’s reading or writing one. But she’s found her tribe now and loves her MM book world family. She dislikes cooking, but loves eating, can’t figure out technology, but is addicted to it, and her guilty pleasure is Byron Bay Cookies. Oh and shoes. And lingerie. And maybe handbags too. Well, if we’re being honest, we’d probably have to add her library too, given the state of her credit card every month (what can she say, she’s a bookworm at heart)! 


She also publishes her raunchier short stories under her pen name, Olive Hiscock.


Ann loves chatting to people online, so if you’d like to keep up with what she’s got going on:
Join The A-Team (Ann’s street team and fan group): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1871698189780535/ 
Insta & Twitter: @anngrechauthor 
Visit her online: http://www.anngrech.com/ (while you’re there, sign up for Ann’s newsletter. You’ll get a free read)

#GiveAway ~ Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge By Kryssie Fortune ~ @KryssieFortune

Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge
Holiday Series Boxed Set
By Kryssie Fortune

Kryssie is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and 3 ebooks of Submission, Secrets, and the Soldier to lucky winners during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember there is a chance to enter every day, so please follow us along on the tour. You may find the tour locations here


About the Boxed Set:

Kryssie Fortune's holiday series, Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge, is now available in a convenient e-boxed set!


Marriage, Mobsters, and the Marine:


Abigail Montgomery, a small town schoolteacher with zero self-confidence, dreams of the Dickensian Christmas her family never enjoyed. Each month she attends a masked BDSM club, but her next visit will be her last. If she doesn’t marry within the next year, her brother won’t inherit Montgomery Hall. Desperate, she advertises for a husband.

Jared Armstrong, a former Marine sharpshooter and occasional Dom needs $125,000 to get his family out of a hole. His solution--to marry Abigail Montgomery for her money. His only regret is his wife won’t accept his spanking lifestyle.

Gradually, Abigail comes to dream of making their marriage real, but she promised Jared a divorce two years after their wedding. Can they share some Christmas magic as their relationship faces extortion threats, a kidnapping, and an attempted murder? Or will Jared break her heart when he walks away?


Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff:
Jasmine Stewart (Jazz to her friends) falls for the blond stranger when he spanks and seduces her at a Washington soiree. Later, when she discovers her flatmate is trying to draw her into a spy ring, she goes to the authorities. The ensuing publicity costs her her job, her security, and her future. Starting over in Westhorpe Ridge is her only option.

Sean Mathews, former SEAL and Westhorpe Ridge’s sheriff, can’t forget the woman he spanked when he visited Washington, but he thinks she’s a spy. When she turns up in Westhorpe Ridge, he tries everything to make her leave town. Despite their misunderstandings, though, they can’t keep their hands off each other.

As Year’s Eve looms, the spy ring resurfaces. Jazz will need all of Sean’s SEAL prowess to survive. But because his wounded leg cost him his speed in the water, will it be enough?

Desire, Deceit, and the Doctor:
Twelve years ago, Mandy Devlin moved away from her friends and family--under threat. If she returned in the next ten years or told anyone who fathered her baby, her boyfriend’s great-aunt would bankrupt her family. She’s a single mom who dreams of her lost love and a good spanking. When she’s finally free to return to Westhorpe Ridge, the last person she expects to see is Adam--the man she loved and lost so long ago.

Dr. Adam Montgomery doesn’t know he has a son. Thanks to his great-aunt’s will, he has nine months to find a bride or he loses Montgomery Hall and the fifteen million dollars she left him. Although he seduces Mandy on his first night home, he still believes she betrayed him twelve years ago. No way would he marry a woman like her.

As Valentine’s Day looms, someone tries to kill Mandy. Is Adam trying to get rid of her? Or can Mandy trust him to protect them?


Note: All of the books in this set were previously released as single titles.


Buy Links: 



Excerpt from Desire, Deceit and the Doctor:
Ben pointed at the man the medics were checking. “He ran down the beach, dived in, and hauled me back to shore. Then he picked me up and shouted at me. He wouldn’t put me down. I couldn’t get away no matter how hard I tried. Duffy kept barking and jumping up at him, but he yelled, ‘Sit,’ and Duffy did.”
Mandy glanced around, wondering where the dog had got to, but her concern for Ben overrode everything.
Her son hiccupped in a great lungful of air. “Once we got off the beach, he opened the back door of his black SUV. Duffy jumped in and sat there like he owned it. I thought that man meant to shove me in his car and drive off, especially since he wouldn’t put me down. I tried to squirm free and yelled for Mom. I—”
The rest of his words were lost as he buried his head against her chest and wept harder. Mandy stared at the black SUV, the same make and model every tourist rented. It would have faded into traffic and vanished if the guy she’d decked had managed to force Ben inside it. Only, according to Ben, the man at her feet was a hero not a kidnapper.
Now she’d heard the truth, she wanted to shake Ben too. Not that she ever would, but her temper still burned inside her. The guy she’d brained with the bottle had risked his life to rescue her son. She felt bad that she’d assaulted her son’s savior, but nothing gave him the right to manhandle Ben. Torn between tending the stranger or kicking him for upsetting her son, she swallowed hard. “Is he dead? Please tell me I didn’t kill him.”
As she spoke, Ben’s rescuer groaned and tried to sit up. “What the hell?”
Gods, she knew that voice. It might be deeper, smoother, and sexier, but she’d never forget the three years she’d spent dating its owner or the dreadful way things had ended between them.
One of the paramedics eased the injured man’s arm out of his shirt and gently held him in place. “Lay still. You’ve had a blow on the head, and you’ve reopened the wound in your shoulder.”
Sean’s jaw dropped. “Adam? You weren’t due home until Easter. What happened? And what’s with that wound in your shoulder?”
Mandy’s pulse raced, and she shivered with shock. Adam’s voice sounded as mellow as Scotch whisky and just as tempting, making her ache for what might have been. Her hands trembled, and her heart pounded so hard it felt like a hammer trying to break out of her chest.
Even now, she couldn’t understand how she’d loved and lost, or why Adam had left her after the one time they’d had sex. Despite the way he’d hurt her, she forced a small smile. One night of sex in thirty years wasn’t a great average, especially when the sex had been so bad she’d cried afterward.
At least Adam had moved on and made a life as an army medic, or so she’d thought when she mortgaged her life to buy the hotel. After she’d signed on the dotted line, she discovered Adam would be home soon. “Easter,” his little sister, Abigail, had said. Mandy had hoped to get Devlin’s Hotel’s Valentine’s Ball out of the way before she considered what to say to Adam, especially since he didn’t know about Ben. Now Adam had turned up almost seven weeks early.
She’d always known seeing him again would hurt, but she hadn’t expected his presence to make her short of breath or for her body to tremble for his touch. She’d imagined so many ways to greet him once he came home, but none had included laying him out with a beer bottle.
She took a deep breath and satisfied herself that Ben hadn’t suffered more than a bad fright. Standing here staring at Adam, she felt scared, excited, and exhilarated, like a human cannonball who’d missed the net. Her gaze felt glued to the only man she’d ever loved. The man who’d hurt her so deeply she’d never dated again.
The intervening twelve years had made his shoulders broader, and when he rose to his feet, he stood taller than when she last saw him. Even damp with seawater, his close-cropped hair shone like a raven’s wing. His broad lips still looked they’d been made to be kissed, but he had more muscle than she remembered. At eighteen, he’d been good looking. At thirty, even soaking wet and furious, he was drop-dead gorgeous. Everything about him seemed…more.





About the Author: 
Kryssie Fortune writes the sort of hot sexy books she loves to read. If she can sneak a dragon into her paranormal books she will. Her paranormal heroes are muscular werewolves, arrogant Fae, or BDSM loving dragons. 

Kryssie likes her contemporary heroes ex-military and dominant. Her heroines are kick ass females who can hold their own against whatever life - or Kryssie - throws at them.

Kryssie's pet hates are unhappy endings, and a series that end on a cliff hanger.

Her books are all stand alone even when part of series. Plot always comes before sex, but when her heroines and heroes get together, the sex is explosive and explicit. One review called it downright sensual.

Kryssie's Social Links:
Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Website   


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

#SpotLight #ChristmasBook ~ CHRISTMAS AT WHISPER BEACH by Shelley Noble

CHRISTMAS AT WHISPER BEACH 
by Shelley Noble
Blurb: 

The holidays always seem brighter at Whisper Beach

Van Moran is ready for happily ever after, even if she’s not quite convinced she can get it. After finally opening a second branch of her company in Whisper Beach, she’s enjoying her new romance with Joe Enthorpe, the local vineyard owner. She may never have a traditional family, but she won’t let that stop her from having a joyful Christmas.

Joe is ready to spend a very merry Christmas with Van and his always rambunctious family. But when the mother of a local boy becomes tragically ill, Joe invites him and his sisters to stay at the vineyard. Everything soon begins to unravel as Joe fears the complications will drive Van away and he’s desperate to keep their relationship from crumbling.

But with every Christmas comes a miracle and soon, Van and Joe learn that it isn’t always about the family you make, but the one that lives in your heart.

Buy Links: 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Excerpt:
Chapter One
Vanessa Moran pressed her hands into the small of her back and stretched. Five huge boxes were left to unpack and it was already after three. She dragged another box into the storeroom and reached for the utility knife.
Someone knocked on the front door. “Yo, Van, are you in there?”
“Back here, Suze,” Van called back.
The front door closed, footsteps sounded across the wooden floors and Suze Turner appeared in the doorway to the storeroom. She shrugged out of a fire engine red cargo coat and tossed it on the floor. Her hat and gloves followed the coat, leaving her tall, large-boned figure clad in harem pants and a “Nevertheless, She Persisteth” sweatshirt.
Van held up her utility knife. “You know, when they let you intellectual types out of their ivy-covered towers you never know what to expect. ‘Yo?’ Really? Is that what a PhD. in English gets you?”
“I’m practicing my vernacular. And stop waving that weapon around. I came to help.”
Van frowned. “Really?”
“Really. Chaucer was getting me down and it’s too early to declare happy hour, so I came to see what’s up.”
“Drag that box in here and I’ll tell you.”
Suze looked behind her and hoisted the box. “Heck, what’s in here?”
“Either pine cleaner or wood floor oil.”
“Hmm,” Suze said and took the utility knife. “I have to say, the old homestead is looking better than I ever thought it could.”
“It does. Thanks for convincing me to use it for headquarters instead of renting that over priced, chic hole in the wall on Main Street.”
“See, us intellectual types are good for the occasional pragmatic morsel.” Suze lugged two large containers out of the box.
“Second shelf on the far right.”
“You mean where all the other ones just like these are?” Suze put the bottles next to the others and reached for two more.
“Sorry, I’m in micromanage mode and I didn’t have a victim until you came in.”
“Thank heaven for ivory towers, imaginary people, and the past.” Suze lifted out two more bottles.
Van laughed. Suze never ceased to amaze her. They’d been best friends since they’d both had summer jobs working at Dorie Lister’s Blue Crab restaurant down on the boardwalk. Van, still in high school, worked out of necessity. Suze, already in college, was willing to wash dishes, waitress, scrub floors—anything to avoid commuting to the city for an internship in the financial district.
When Van’s future unraveled, Suze had literally saved Van’s life. They’d lost touch until the past summer when they both returned to Whisper Beach for a funeral. It was meant to be a several hour trip, it had turned into something much longer for both of them.
Van was still doing manual labor but now for her own business. Suze was on sabbatical from Princeton, working on a paper entitled “Misogyny in the Works of Chaucer.”
Give Van manual labor any day.
A few minutes later, the cleaning supplies were shelved, the boxes were broken down and Van and Suze were sitting in the newly painted kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil.
Suze got down two newly purchased mugs from the refaced cabinets. “You know it’s amazing how much you’ve accomplished in a few short months.”
“Between my Whisper Beach peeps and the crew from Manhattan it was a piece of cake. Now I just have to hire an office manager, a receptionist, and cleaning and maintenance staff.”
At first Van had been skeptical. She’d planned to expand Elite Lifestyle Managers—Organization for Families on the Go—from Manhattan to Boston or Philly. But her life had taken an unexpected detour and so had her business. Now her first branch office would soon be opening in Whisper Beach.
“You have time,” Suze said.
“At least I decided to wait until after Christmas to open.”
Suze grinned. “Capitalize on all those New Year’s resolutions.”
“Exactly,” Van agreed.
The kettle whistled and Van poured water into the mugs. “I’ve only got generic tea. I was waiting for the new fridge to arrive before I stocked the kitchen, then I just got too busy and forgot. I do have milk and sugar.”
“And nary a biscuit in sight,” Suze intoned.
“Nope, but Joe’s mom insisted I have this so I don’t succumb to hunger while I work.” Van took out a plate covered in foil and placed it on the table.
Suze pulled off the foil. “Mom Enthorpe’s date nut bread. I’m in heaven.”
“She said I was too skinny.”
“It’s just your metabolism. Now me on the other hand . . .” Suze’s sentence trailed off as she cut into the date nut bread. She pushed the plate toward Van. “I shouldn’t be eating this.” She took a bit. “Hmmmm. This would be even better with cream cheese.”
“Sorry.”
“So how are you doing living at the farm?” Suze shuddered. “With Joe’s parents.”
“Actually It’s kind of great. They’re wonderful and we live at the back of the house. They made up a little suite of rooms for us, a bedroom, sitting room and our own bath.”
“Nice, still can’t believe you moved out of Dorie’s. Is this going to be permanent?”
Van cut herself a slab of bread. “I don’t know. Yes. Maybe.”
“Oh goodie, more vacillation on a same old theme. You know, you worry more about stuff that hasn’t happened than anybody I know. If it doesn’t work out you do what thousands of other divorcees do . . .” Suze grinned. “You start all over again.”
Van rolled her eyes. “That isn’t Chaucer.”
“Jerome Kern. Very smart man.”
“I couldn’t marry Joe knowing that I might bring him unhappiness.”
“Pick yourself up, brush your . . .” Suze sang under her breath. “Just because you can’t have kids doesn’t mean you both can’t be happy.”
“I know. I just don’t trust that it will turn out that way.”
“You also never thought you’d come back to Whisper beach. Much less actually using the house you grew up. As I recall you were waffling between selling it and burning it to the ground. And now voila, you’ve transformed it into a dyn-o-mite, upscale, cutting-edge business office.”
“Dana helped.”
“Dana? What did I miss while I was hunkered over my laptop?”
“She made me burn sage in all the corners and doorways.”
“Ah, to ward off evil spirits. Well, it worked. I don’t feel anything but good times ahead.”
Suze reached over to squeeze Van’s wrist. “Seriously, the past is done. Only people like me dwell on it, and I get paid to do it. Look to your future, girl, and take the plunge.”
Suze was right, except one part of Van’s past had changed her future forever.
“Or we can talk about my future.”
Van frowned. “Is something up?”
“Another dead horse. We need to beat. I think I’ll have another little sliver.” She reached for the plate. “Dorie’s feeding me like I was the prodigal daughter. Every time my mother sees me, she reminds me that her annual holiday—please-marry-my-daughter—party is coming up and she certainly hopes I’ll be able to fit in my new holiday dress. Which by the way, I haven’t bought yet.”
“Oh,” Van said. ”I thought maybe it was Chaucer that was getting you down.”
“Nah, Medieval misogyny is a walk in the park compared to my mother’s cocktail parties. I’d rather publish and perish than face her without a date.”
“What happened to Jerry? He’s always been willing to go with you.”
“Alas he has to work. Being a cop at Christmas is not for the feint-hearted. Besides I’m beginning to feel a little guilty about always taking advantage of his altruistic spirit.”
“You guys have a fight or something?” Van asked.
“Not at all. But we’re just friends. That’s all it’s ever been. We make each other laugh. But there’s no future there. I’m going back to Princeton when my sabbatical is up.
“Besides, outside of laughing, we have nothing in common. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great friend, but he’s a beer and football kind of guy which I totally get, only I’m a white wine spritzer and British drama kind of girl.”
“And ne'er the twain, huh?”
“Hey you used to yell at me for saying that.”
Van shrugged. “Just saying.”
“Anyway,” Suze continued. “I’m afraid hanging with me is—and I use the phrase loosely— ‘cramping his style.’ I’ve noticed he’s been hanging around Dana lately.”
“Dana Mulvanney?”
“Do you know any others?”
“No. One is enough.”
“True, but while you’ve been busy reconnecting with Joe, starting a new business and overhauling the Enthorpe winery, Dana has been attacking her new life with a vengeance and turning the restaurant around. I swear she’s a born again, efficient, business type, who doesn’t take shit and doesn’t even give it out too much anymore. You’ve been crazy busy lately. You wouldn’t recognize her.”
“I’ve been meaning to come over but it’s just been so hectic between the office, the vineyard, and commuting to the city every few days . . . Not to mention trying to build some kind of relationship with Joe while living with his parents.”
“Yeah I could see where that last part might be challenging for a long time loner, like you.”
Van made a face at her. “Tell her I promise to come over right after the holidays. You’re all still coming to the party?”
“With bells on. If I survive the madre.”
“So who are you going to take? Do you want me to ask Joe?”
“Thanks, but I would never put him through that. Plus it would never fool my mother. Maybe I’ll just tough it out this year. Who knows? Maybe I’ll meet the accountant-dentist-financial advisor-podiatrist of my dreams there.”
“Well, you don’t have to have a date for the Enthorpe’s party.”
“Excellent. Still planning to hold it in the vineyard’s new gift shop?”
“Absolutely. It’s perfect. Once we gutted it and pulled down all the ‘improvements’ and stop-gap fixes that had been made over the years, it was all original stone and rustic wood. I couldn’t ask for a better ambiance if I’d paid for it.” Van sighed. “Still a lot of work to do.”
“I have no doubt that it will be finished, organized, and looking like a million bucks. You’re a multi-tasking wonder. Just try to have a little fun while you’re at it.”
“I intend to.”
Suze her chair back. “Well, I’d better get back to Geoffrey C. Poor man. He lived in the fourteenth century. How was he to know that one day there would be feminist academics picking his Canterbury Tales apart?”
Van accompanied Suze to get her coat, waited while she bundled up and walked her to the door.
“You’d better pack it in soon,” Suze said. It’s beginning to look a lot like snow clouds up there.”
Van laughed. “I’ve never been around you at Christmas before.”
“If I could carry a tune, you’d be amazed. But no kidding. Go home.”
“I’m closing up in a few minutes. We’re decorating the Christmas tree tonight.” Van felt a familiar stab of panic.
“First family tree?” Suze sighed, then grinned. “Enjoy every minute of it, that’s an order.”
“You’re so smart,” Van quipped. Suze might have her head in the literary clouds, but she was the most insightful person she knew. At least into what made Van click. “It’s all so, I don’t know. Hallmark-y.”
“And you’re afraid the warm fuzzy bubble will burst?”
“No, well, maybe just a little. I don’t know.”
Suze laughed loud enough to shake the snow from the clouds. A couple of tiny flakes floated past them. “You’ll be fine, but maybe you better brush up your “Jingle Bells,” all the way home.”
Van watched Suze drive away in her old VW bug—an odd couple of big person and little car. But they seemed perfect together and, according to Suze, the old car gave her a certain cache on the Princeton campus.
Van she stepped back inside and closed the door. With Suze gone, without her laugh and personality that filled the corners, the old house seemed too quiet. And memoires she managed to ignore all day, began to flit in the shadows.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
About the Author: 

credit goes to Gary Brown
Shelley Noble is a former professional dancer and choreographer and has worked on a number of films. She lives at the Jersey shore where she loves to visit lighthouses and vintage carousels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America.

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