Civil Warriors


“…I love you. God help me, but I do.” The air lay heavy between them. Her eyes were glossy with moisture, his intense with emotion. “Tell me, if you can, you do not feel the same.” He whispered so low it might have been silence, “And make me believe it.”

Civil Warriors

A story of Love and Possession

There were things the Sagamores could and could not do:

William defied all social norms.
Georgie could be trusted with any secret.
Georgia Anne did as she pleased.
And, John Richard would kill a man for hurting her.

But,

William could not keep his feelings hidden.
Georgie could not let an innocent man die.
Georgia Anne could not be a slave.
And, despite going to hell, John Richard could not stop loving her.

To order: https://www.amazon.com/Civil-Warriors-Tracy-Ball-ebook/dp/B07RV4FS7W/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=tracy+ball&qid=1569361996&s=gateway&sr=8-3

Q&A with author Tracy A. Ball

How would you describe this book to your friends and family?

It’s an interracial romance set in the 1860’s. It’s based on a local legend and an old diary. Without downplaying the severity of slavery,  you get a rich love story that is very  human and complicated.

What inspired you to write this book?

The legend, the diary and the fact that I have an interracial marriage. My husband and I often wonder ‘what if?’.

What have some of your readers/fan said about your book that surprised you?

I was concerned about how Civil Warriors would be received (it’s different) but the reviews have blown me away! I am humbled to tears by the reaction.

*One of the best books I have read.

*Good intelligent read!!!

*It kept me up past my bedtime 😊

The book is set in 1860’s. How did you prep for this book?

Sooooo much research, lol. I had to be sure every unconventional idea I put into the story was provable.

What can you tell us about some of your characters?

Georgia Anne is a woman of color with education, ability and no desire to be a servant. (You can imagine how that goes over in the 1860’s)

John Richard owns her, and loves her. But, he can’t reconcile the two. (He is a product of his environment and a prisoner to his heart.)

William would buck society to have her, but he would never hurt his brother.

Red Eagle is a Plains Indian who could alter Georgia Anne’s destiny.

Georgie is Georgia Anne’s twin. It’s up to him to save their lives…or not.

Are you planning on a sequel for this book? Why or why not?

People have asked but, John Richard and Georgia Anne’s story is done.  I do, however,  think about some of the side stories that happened and maybe there will be a next generation sequel. Idk.

What surprised you when you were writing it?

The number of practical examples for my seemingly far-fetched ideas.

And last but not least, because I am a huge fan of movies, what are some of your favorite films?

High fantasy and epic overcoming!

Lord of the Rings (you don’t want to know how many times I’ve watched this), Harry Potter, The Avengers, The Phantom of the Opera (Royal Albert Hall), Pride & Prejudice (Keira Knightly)

About the Author

Novelist, Reviewer, Content Editor, Blogger, T-shirt Wearer, and Professional Snacker; Tracy A. Ball is a native Baltimorean and a veteran West Virginian whose family is blended from three cultures. She has opened her home to foster children, drug addicts, AIDS victims, and anyone who needed an assist. She knows people who have committed murder and people who have dined with the Pope.

Which is why she writes sweet stories about tough love, tough stories about sweet love, and takes long naps.

Her published works include:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbJa-rZGIp0

Imogene’s Flowers

Black’s Magic

Truly, Madly, Kiss Me

Thorns

Dragonfly Dreams

Civil Warriors

Death’s Desire

An Angel with Dirty Wings

Tsarnia

KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse

The Tiger & The Snake

The Right Way to Be Wrong

Left on Marriottsville

The Train Ride

Join Tracy’s Newsletter

https://mailchi.mp/dcc40b02b5e6/ball-books

https://tracyaball.wordpress.com/the-book-i-write/

* * *

Find and Follow Tracy

https://www.amazon.com/Tracy-A.Ball/e/B00JH7R8XY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

tra3ball@gmail.com

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/tracy-a-ball

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3171920.Tracy_A_Ball

One Summer in Santorini

After a humiliating break up, Sarah decides it’s time to fall back in love with her first true love—travel. She books the perfect trip to revive her humdrum heartbroken life—ten days sailing the Greek islands on a yacht.

The last thing she wants is to meet someone new, but Sarah soon finds herself flirting with the cute American, Josh, and considering something more serious with the sexy silver fox, James.

Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan – steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta, and find her own way after all?

Ten days, two men, one boat, and one big decision.

Buy links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Summer-Santorini-Sandy-Barker/dp/000

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NZZZJSR/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/one-summer-in-santorini

Also available on iBooks

Q&A with author Sandy Barker

Now folks, this book is a favorite of mine! I laughed, I cried. After I was done with the book, I felt like I had just been on vacation! The way that Sandy Barker describes the food, and the locations-so great. You’ll absolutely love this romcom of a book!!!

It is my pleasure to include the author today. Welcome Sandy Barker!

In your own words, how would you describe your book?

One Summer in Santorini is a fun and flirty romantic comedy with a hefty theme – getting back to the once-happy you and living your biggest life. And although she’s really not interested in meeting anyone new, being fresh from an awful breakup, she meets two ‘someones’ – very different from each other, and each bringing out a different side of her.

What is the first food you would order/eat if you returned on this same trip Sarah takes?

Horiatiki – hands down. It’s Greek salad to non-Greeks and quite honestly, when I am in Greece, I will have one or two a day. It’s the tomatoes – they are the best in the world. There is a lot of other goodness in that salad, but it is almost impossible to recreate unless you have good tomatoes.

Tell us a little about Sarah’s background. Who was she before the vacation?

When we meet her, she is reasonably fresh from a breakup, and she’s ‘stuck’. She’d let herself love an unkind man, one who snuffed the joy from her life. She’s been coping by wallowing in self-pity, slaving at the gym, and spending far too much time alone. Booking the trip to Greece in a moment of bravery was the best thing she could have done. It terrifies her – she Is prone to anxiety and worry – but she needs the journey to get back to herself.

Who are some of the friends on the boat? What can you tell us about them?

As this book is inspired by my real-life love story – I met my partner on a pier in Santorini just as we were about to get on a sailing trip – the characters on the boat are also inspired by real people. Gary and Mari are a married couple who have a fantastic relationship – very loving. It’s important for Sarah to see that love like that exists, and Marie becomes like a big sister to Sarah, even giving her a dose of tough love.

The Skipper, Duncan, and his partner – long-distance love, Geraldine (Gerry) – show Sarah that relationships can be fun, flirtatious, and anchored in friendship. They are both funny characters, and I loved writing them. Hannah is Sarah’s cabin mate. She’s also trying to get over a heartbreak, but is more cynical than hopeful, and Sarah finds herself wanting to smooth out some of Hannah’s rough edges.

And then there is Josh, one of the love interests. He is younger than her, but they both feel that yearning for a bigger life, as he calls it. They start as fast friends – he is bright and makes her laugh – but she can’t deny the attraction either.

Can you share a picture with us on your trip to the Greek Islands? What is your memory of this photo?


This is me, Ben (my partner) and Sinead, a member of our floating family from our last trip to Greece. We are sailing into Athens at the end of the trip, so it was a bittersweet moment – we’d be saying goodbye soon. Patrick, the Skipper who inspired the character of Duncan, is in the background. Sinead became a dear friend and she has inspired a character in the sequel.

I’ve also included a photo of Sinead and I swimming off the boat when it was anchored in a tiny cove off Sifnos. We were the only boat there, and we called it Artemis Cove, because the night before had been a full moon and we’d had a barbecue on the beach by moonlight.

What are some of your upcoming releases?

I am about to hand over edits for the second book in my series about Sarah’s sister, Cat. She becomes a love fugitive when her flatmate declares his undying love for her, and she escapes to Europe on a bus tour. In Paris, she runs into someone from her past and …

You’ll have to read it when it comes out in March. 😉

It looks like the sequel to One Summer in Santorini will be out mid-year 2020 and I am also writing a Christmas book about three friends from the UK, the US, and Australia who swap Christmases. Look for that ahead of Christmas next year.

Because I am a movie lover, I have to ask all authors who chat with me, what is a movie you could just watch over and over?

Just one? How about two?

When Harry Met Sally – the most perfect romcom ever written.

Pitch Perfect – hilarious and I love the singing.

Thank you very much for having me – this was a blast. xx

About the Author

I’m a writer and traveller with a lengthy bucket list and cheeky sense of humour. When I travel, I love exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local. I’m also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.

As an author, I write the heart – what makes it sing, what breaks it, and how it mends – and many of my travel adventures have found homes in my novels. My first novel, a romantic comedy set in Greece and inspired by my real-life love story, was published in June 2019 by One More Chapter (HarperCollins).

I am editing my second book (the follow-up to One Summer in Santorini), and have just started writing my fifth. 2020 will see at least two new books out in the world!

Buy links:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NZZZJSR/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/one-summer-in-santorini

Also available on iBooks

Contact links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandybarker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandybarkerauthor
Website: https://sandybarker.com/

A Matter of Timing: Chapter Two

Chapter Two

The apartment was up two flights of stairs. The party had started an hour ago. He arrived as quickly as he could after he received a text from David to stop by the liquor store for more beer. Always more beer.

Inside, he looked around. Not a bad crowd, he thought. Lots of faces he didn’t know. He took the beer to the kitchen and placed the two twelve packs in the fridge, but not before grabbing one for himself. He changed his mind when he noticed that they weren’t as cold as the ones that had been inside the fridge, so he took one of those instead. He felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Guess who?” asked a woman’s voice.

He had no idea. He turned around.

Shit. It was Sarah. David sister’s friend. Double shit. He had met her last time he went to one of David’s parties. Emily had come to drop off some food she made for his party and Sarah had come with her. Emily had left, but Sarah had stayed and had thrown herself at him and it was not a pleasant experience. The girl could talk. She had him pinned down for two hours and she acted like she expected to see him again. He never called her. And now here she was. Damn it.

“Hey…” He pointed at her and smiled, beer in hand.

She hugged him. He did not hug back.

“Hi! I wasn’t sure if you were coming, but then I saw David arrive about ten minutes ago, and he mentioned you were on a beer run.”

How could he get rid of her? He needed to think of something fast. Just then, he saw a flash of short blonde curls coming into the kitchen, Emily. Save me, he thought as he looked at Emily, silently pleading her to help him.

“Yeah, it’s good to see you, too,” he said, still trying to think of a way out.

“I almost brought a date, but it’s a good thing I didn’t,” Sarah said.

He looked past Sarah at Emily and held her gaze.

“Sorry, I’m actually sort of seeing someone.” It was a lie. Emily, who had heard, knew it, too. Sarah however, wasn’t even fazed.

 “Oh, well that’s okay I mean, she’s not coming, is she?”

 And that’s when Emily finally came in for the save. She had remembered how Sarah had gone on and on about him after meeting him. It was obvious now that he didn’t reciprocate those feelings.  

“Yes. Hey, actually she’s just back there.” Emily came around to put her hand on his arm. “This guy here helped us move in. And I guess he and Elle really hit it off,” Emily said to Sarah. Then she looked back at him. “Actually, before you go over there, I was wondering if I could ask you to help open the window in my bedroom. It’s stuck and David hasn’t had a chance to try.  And then I will let your date have you, I promise.”

 “Sure.” What the fuck was happening?

 Once they were inside of Emily’s room, he asked, “Okay, who’s Elle?”

“I’m sorry. I panicked. You needed a save. Fucking Sarah, she’s so persistent.  You remember Elle. She’s my friend from high school. She’s been at the University of Maryland for two years. She’s the one in the graduation picture you like, from my parents’ house.”

He swallowed. He remembered the picture she was referring to. “She’s the one who’s moving back?”

Emily nodded, smiling.

He wasn’t surprised he didn’t know. David didn’t exactly talk about his sister or her friends very often. He thought this party was just because Emily had gotten a new place. Ordinarily him and David didn’t hang out with Emily and her friends, but David had wanted to come tonight and it wasn’t hard to convince the rest of the guys to come along, too.

“You can kill me later. I wasn’t planning on saying that. Let me text Elle. Wait, I’ll call her.”

He took a deep breath. “Well, anything is better than being stuck with your crazy friend. Unless Elle is another nut job. She’s not, right?” he asked, smiling.

Emily laughed. “No, Elle won’t bother you too much. She’s a little on the quiet side. Okay wait, let me call her. Also, I wasn’t kidding. The window really is stuck. Could you try?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Emily pulled her phone out of the pocket and called Elle, who was in the living room.

“Okay, I had to save one of my brother’s friends. He was being hounded by Sarah. I don’t know why I invite her anymore. Anyway, really quickly, he told her he was seeing someone else, which is a total lie. And she still fucking tried to pounce on him because he wasn’t actually with his date, so I kind of told her that his date was here and that you were his, uh, date… Just made it work for one night. You don’t even have hang together. He’s going to hang out with my brother anyway.  Please. Please. Please. Be nice to him. He’s David’s best friend. Love you. Oh, and you met because he helped us move in here. We’re in my room right now, I’ll bring him right out.”

Meanwhile, he had gotten the window open. 

“Thanks. Okay, so Elle will be fine. And she’s my best friend. So be like really nice.”

“At least it will be an interesting night.” They walked back out into the party.

“Elle, sorry I had to steal your beau. He got the window open!!!” Elle smiled and

turned to look at both of them. The man was tall, a whole six inches taller than Elle. He had dark skin and dark hair. She wondered if her was Greek. He was definitely good looking. He had a long thin face with big dark soft eyes. He politely kissed her on cheek. Elle couldn’t remember the last time a complete stranger kissed her on the cheek, but then again, he wasn’t supposed to be a complete stranger. They had to make it look like they had chemistry, but she was touched by the simple gesture nonetheless. He pushed his hair back, waiting for her next move.

Elle excused herself from the conversation she was having with an old friend and he led her to a quiet corner in the apartment. He leaned in close, his right hand brushing her hip ever so slightly. She was just as beautiful as he remembered from the picture at David’s house, except for the glasses.  Elle normally wore contacts but couldn’t bear to wear them today. She was still jet-lagged from her trip and her eyes felt dry. He took a sip of beer. She was definitely cute. Her dark brown hair was up in a ponytail. She was dressed casually in a pair of tight jeans and an old Bob Dylan shirt which fit her just right.

“I am so sorry about this,” he whispered into her ear.

Elle smiled. “It’s okay. It’s what Emily does. I’m used to it. So, where’s the girl we’re doing this for?”

He described her with his back to the room and Elle scanned the party.

“Shit, she’s looking in our direction, but pretending she’s not. Ooh, I know her. She went to our high school. God, I didn’t like her then.” He stayed close to her.

Elle put her hand on his chest. “If we are going to make this believable, we have to get out of here for a second. Let’s go outside.” She took his hand and led him to the balcony.

Once outside, he gently backed her into the sliding glass door and leaned in. “This should look real enough,” he said. She smelled good, he thought.

“Easy, easy. Don’t give me bad rep. Everyone will think I’m super easy. I just met you,” she said softly, but she was smiling.

His lips hovered over her collarbone, coming ever so closely without actually doing anything. From the inside of the party, though, it didn’t look that way. The sheerness of the curtains made the illusion all too real.  “I helped you move, so you didn’t just meet me,” he said.

Elle laughed. “No. Mary and Jordan helped us move. And they’re inside., I should text them to lie for us if it comes up.” Elle turned and headed for the bench. “C’mon, let’s sit down for a minute.”

She pulled out her phone and sat down, sending a group text to Jordan and Mary. “Okay, Jordan and Mary are up to speed.” Elle laughed to herself. “Wow, this is crazy.”

He sat down next to her and looked at Elle. She crossed her legs, suddenly self-conscious. Her body had reacted to him when he pushed her against the sliding glass door. He had been gentle, but the effect was a powerful one. It didn’t help that he was incredibly good-looking. He had that southern California look down. He seemed easy-going and looked great in the black t-shirt he was wearing and what she guessed must have been designer jeans and shoes.

“So, what are you going to do once you’re back?” he asked, breaking the ice.

Elle shrugged. “Get a job, go to school. You know, the norm.”

Emily knocked on the sliding glass door and joined them outside. “Elle, I just talked to David, so he’s knows now.”

“Okay. God, I haven’t even had a chance to say ‘hi’ to David yet. So, what’s the plan? I’m just supposed to lie to everyone in there because one girl couldn’t get her feelings hurt?” Elle asked, remembering David and what had transpired last time she saw him two years ago.

Emily glared at Elle.

He was quick to defend himself. “Whoa, hey. This wasn’t my idea. You can do what you want. You don’t have to help me. I’ll figure something out. Don’t worry about it.” He smiled a tight-lipped smile, left the two of them, and went back inside.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Emily asked once he was gone.

“I’m sorry. Shit.” Elle sighed. “I just got embarrassed when you mentioned David. We just got his friend involved in some crazy lie. And I’m tired and grumpy. I’m sorry.”

“Okay, I got his friend involved in a crazy lie, but it’s harmless. And Adam doesn’t care, no one cares. It’s not a big deal.” Emily sat down. “Elle, David’s friends are awesome. And that one…well, he likes you.”

Elle looked at Emily. “What are you talking about?”

“Elle…he likes you,” Emily said.

“How do you know that?”

“You know that picture of us on graduation day? The one where you have your robe in

your arm and, you’re laughing?”

“What about it?”

“He looks at that picture a lot when he comes over my parents’ house. Last Christmas we all had a little bit too much to drink, and he asked me about it. He wanted to know who you were, where you were. I’ve seen him look at it like at least a dozen times.”

 “How do you know he likes me? Maybe he likes you.”

“He does not like me. He’s never ever made a pass at me. And he can be on the tad outspoken side. Listen, he’s a good guy. My favorite of David’s friends. Didn’t you always want to date one of his friends anyway?”

She laughed. “When we were like sixteen!” Elle left out the fact that at one point, she had wanted to date David, but never told Emily.

“Well, wishes do come true. What do you think, anyway? Think he’s cute?”

Elle thought about his dark hair. The way it had tickled her neck when he was leaning in close. She thought about his dark eyes, his dark skin and wide smile.

“He’s definitely cute,” Elle said.

 “Yay!” Emily clapped.

“Oh, Em. Don’t get your hopes up. I can’t do this right now. I literally just moved back.”

“Okay, okay, I know,” they were interrupted when David knocked on the sliding glass door. He waved then came out. “Emily, something is going off in the kitchen.”

“Oh shit, the cookies.” She stood up and David took her place.

Elle’s heart pounded in her chest as she stood up for a hug.

“David, hi!” she said as he hugged her back. David towered over her at 6’3”. His straight dirty blond hair was still slightly long, but not as long as it had been when she had last seen him. Elle thought back to that incredible week they shared. She wondered if he ever thought about it. Seeing him smile now; after two years, wasn’t making her as nervous as she’d thought she’d be. She was thrilled to see him. While she had been attracted to him then, there was something about him now that made him appear less gawky. He looked older. The shorter his hair was, the more grown up he looked. She loved the way his hair framed his face perfectly, especially when he looked down. In this moment, though, his big blue eyes smiled down at her.

“Hey Elle! It’s been such a long time. Hey, cool shirt. Wait, is that the one we got              together?”

“Yeah, it is.” Elle cringed, wishing she had worn something else. She had put it on this morning when she found out David was coming. Then, she had thought it would be a good idea, celebratory somehow, but now she wondered if she looked like that same teenage girl who had tried to get his attention.

“I still have mine, too, except mine has a hole now. Too much use, I guess.” They sat down on the bench. She wasn’t sure what they’d talk about, she hadn’t spoken a word to him in two years.

“Hey David, I’m so sorry about your friend getting mixed up with Emily and I in this scheme. You know how Emily can get.”

David laughed. “It’s okay. I think she’s just making up for all the drama she’s missed since you were away.” He realized she didn’t know how to proceed with Elle. David smiled shyly. “Hey, listen, sorry I didn’t say ‘hello’ right away. Andy reigned me in as soon as I got here. Word of advice, never get into a Marlon Brando/James Dean debate.”

Elle smiled politely, but didn’t know what he meant. She made a mental note to research the actors she had heard of later. Instead, she blurted out exactly what was on her mind.

 “David, I also want to apologize for what happened the last time we saw each other.” David turned to look at Elle, she had a worried look on her face. “I am so embarrassed. The way I made it into more than it was.” She shook her head, remembering how foolish she had felt afterwards.

So much for breaking the ice, he thought. She went right into their past. “Oh hey, don’t be embarrassed. It was a long time ago.” He paused, searching her face. “But it was nice, you know? I’m glad we went through with it and we had that.” David looked down into his hands, his blond hair falling over his eyes. Truth was, he didn’t want her to apologize for it. No woman had looked at him the way she had, or had said anything close to what she had said to him two years ago. He had brushed her off then, the idiot that he was. But what was he supposed to do? They were both going to be living on opposite ends of the country. But she was back now, and he wanted to ask her out for a drink sometime, maybe start from square one. He wondered if she’d ever look at him that way again or if she’d ever hold onto him again, the way that she once had.

Elle peeled the sticker label off of her beer bottle. “I know we missed each other the last few times I came out. I asked Emily to invite you tonight, but I honestly wasn’t sure if you’d come.” It was time to put the past behind her, she thought.

 “Hey, of course I’d come. Sorry about the entourage I brought with me. We just left a movie and they wanted beer and free food, so they tagged along.” David loved his friends, but he wanted to figure out a way to escape them so he could talk to Elle properly. He figured he’d introduce her to everyone, and casually make eye contact with her, starting with small moves to let her know he was interested. “Come on, let’s get back inside. I’ll introduce you to the gang.” 

She followed him inside. She scanned the apartment, wanting to also apologize to his friend for how she acted. She decided to go along with the lie, and why not? It could be fun, and it was just for one night.

David led Elle back inside and back to his small group of friends.

“Elle, this is Andy.” Andy was the shortest of the four. He was 5’6” maybe 5’7”. He was wearing a punk band shirt over his broad body. Elle extended her hand to meet his. David continued with the introductions.

“This is Mark.” Elle shook his hand, too. He was the most preppy looking of the bunch, very handsome, with killer dimples and gorgeous espresso-colored skin.

“And this sexy bastard, well you already know him.” David said, laughing easily with his friends.

Elle blushed. She realized just then that she didn’t know the name of the friend she had been set up with.

“Hi everyone,” was all she managed to say. She held up a hand in an awkward greeting. How could she not have asked anyone his name? Sure, it had been a whirlwind of craziness since the moment he arrived, but that did not excuse the fact that she could have asked his name. Her heart started racing and she looked down at his beer and noticed that it was empty.

“More drinks, gentlemen?”

“Ah, gotta love this one. Welcome back, Elle.” David pulled her in for a side hug and held onto her. Elle smiled, remembering how she had grown up watching David pull his sister in for the same type of hug. While Elle was still embarrassed how she had acted, David didn’t hold a grudge and she was feeling more and more at ease around him.

She went for David’s friend’s beer and they locked eyes for a second. He held on to his beer not wanting to give it up. She kept her hand on the bottle and their hands touched. His gaze was penetrating. Finally, he let go and smiled.

When she returned with four beers, David was pulled into a conversation with Andy. David took the beer Elle handed him, nodded to Andy as a way to end the conversation so he could talk to Elle, but Andy only got more heated.

“It’s the same exact storyline as the original. Couldn’t they come up with a different fucking plot line? You can literally do anything with superhero movies, I don’t get it.”

Elle looked David’s way, but didn’t want to interrupt, so she turned her attention to her new friend.

“Hey, I’m sorry about earlier. I’m jetlagged and grumpy from the lack of sleep. Anyway, I’ll do it. It’s not really a big deal.”

He shrugged. “It could be fun right?”

Elle smiled at him. “You know, I actually have no idea what your name is. We were never introduced.”

“Oh, this is good,” he said with a smile, then took a sip from his beer bottle. 

Elle watched as Emily turned up the music across the room. Elle winced, not feeling in the mood for a party tonight, even if it was for her. “Hey, can we take a walk somewhere for a bit?”

“Sure.” He looked around the apartment. More people were starting to arrive. Someone had just walked out onto the balcony to answer their phone. “Where?” he asked.

 “How about your car?”

“Yeah,” he replied softly. He took his keys out of his pocket and took her hand.

“Hey, where you two off to?” David yelled playfully. Deep down he felt he was losing his chance.

“To make out,” his friend yelled back. The entire party heard. Elle bit her lip and blushed.

 David smiled at his friend’s response, but couldn’t think of a single thing to do. He thought about how the rest of the night would play out. Those two would pretend to be seeing each other, but what if, just what if David lost her to his best friend?

Once they were through the door, her “date” apologized.

 “Sorry, I was kidding about the whole making out thing. I forgot you have a squeaky-clean reputation,” he teased.

“It’s okay, I don’t mind. It’s a good show. I think it’s working.” But her heart was racing at the thought. He was so incredibly handsome, completely out of her league. “Where are you parked?”

“On the main street about a block away.”

“Hey, so I’m really sorry so for being such an asshole,” she said once they were outside. “It’s been a really long week and this isn’t your fault.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Elle laughed nervously. “I can’t believe I didn’t ask anyone what your name was. Okay, so what is it?” She stopped to look at him.

He laughed with her. “I am not telling you.”

“What? Why not?”

“Because it’s more fun to see you go through the night this way.”

“Oh, c’mon.”

“Nope.”

“I can just ask Emily. Or David. Someone is bound to say it out loud.”

“But that will ruin all the fun. Let me introduce myself to you, later. Properly, yeah?”

“Fine.” She had to admit, she was amused.

When they got to the car, he opened the door for her.

“So, what do you want to talk about?” he asked when he got inside.

“Oh, just that I’m sorry.” Elle said, unsure of what to say next. She hadn’t planned on what to say after she apologized.

“You mean the stuff you said on the way here?”

“Yeah, I guess I thought there’d be more, but that’s the jist of it.” Elle said awkwardly, a silence hovering between them. “Really, I just wanted to get out of there for a minute.”

He nodded and looked out of the window on the driver’s side. “You know, ever since I’ve met you, I’ve been lying an awful lot,” he said matter-of-factly.

She smiled and straightened the hem of her shirt.

“How about we making one lie a truth?” he whispered.

She swallowed. It was so quiet in his car. She couldn’t hear a thing except for their breathing. She was sure they’d be able to hear her heart racing any second.

He leaned in closer and looked down at her lips.

“I don’t even know your name,” she whispered.

“Well, here goes your reputation,” he whispered before he kissed her. He put his other hand on her leg. She put her arm around him, while her other hand went up to his shoulder. His kiss went even further, deeper. She pulled back.

“Sorry, I got a little carried away,” he cleared his throat.

“It’s not that. I just…wow. You’re really good, that’s all.”

He smiled and went in for another kiss. Softer, this time. He placed a hand on her face. Her entire body melted into his arms. She wished they weren’t in his car at this moment.

“I kind of love that you don’t know my name right now,” he said, breathless, in-between kissing her.

“I kind of do, too.”

They kissed for a few minutes longer, before Elle pulled back again. She tucked her shirt down, suddenly self-conscious. She could feel how bad her body wanted him.

“Well, see. We’re not liars anymore, you and I,” he said.

She laughed.

He closed his eyes. “Wow. This was not what I was expecting to happen tonight. But I am definitely not complaining.”

“We should probably go back up.” she said awkwardly.

“Yeah, I’m gonna need a minute.”

Elle blushed.  She didn’t want to look down at him as he adjusted himself quickly.  Instead, she looked out the window. They were starting to fog up from the inside.

“I need to get something to eat. Do you guys have anything upstairs?” he asked, changing the subject.

“Yeah, I think Emily ordered some pizza for everyone. What time is it? She ordered it for nine.”

“Oh good, I’m starving. I think the beer is getting to me.”

“Where do you live? Around here?” she asked, wanting to get to know him.

“About twenty minutes away.”

She nodded.  “Did you grow up here?”

“In Los Angeles? I did.”  He adjusted himself once more, then said “Okay, I think I’m ready.”

“Okay.”

“But wait. Hold on.” He leaned over to her and kissed her once more on the lips, very quickly. “I just wanted to do that again.”

Her heart did somersaults.

The pizza had already arrived when they got back and the party was in full swing. Elle felt as if everyone could tell they had made out and she was okay with it. She couldn’t hide her smile and spent the rest of the night mingling with others.

A few times, she checked in with David and his friends. She looked at them from across the room. They stood out amongst Emily and her friends. They dressed a little older. Talked a little louder, had more opinions and seemed very intellectual. She walked over there a few times to make sure they had enough to drink and eat. Once, David’s friend pulled her down onto the sofa on top of him and kissed her quickly on the lips. All of David’s friends cheered.  Elle blushed, she didn’t want to appear the easy type in front of David, but when she looked for him, David was nowhere to be seen.

In the kitchen, Emily found her brother, David, eating a slice of pizza. “Looks like those two hit it off.” She had a smirk on her face and was proud for setting them up.

“I thought they were just pretending to like each other,” David said, his mouth full.

“No, I think they actually like each other. Well, he has liked her for a while, actually.”

“What do you mean a while? He’s never met her before today.”

“He’s seen pictures of her.”

“Pictures?” he asked, confused. He thought back to the picture he kept of Elle in his bedroom, and wondered if his friend had meant that one, but he couldn’t possibly.

“You know that picture of us downstairs at Mom and Dad’s? That’s the one he saw and trust me, David, he likes her,” Emily said, then asked him if he was still coming by tomorrow to help her Dad deliver the dining table.

David said he was, but was distracted. What if his sister was right? Then he’d most definitely lose his chance with Elle.  A little while later, he joined the guys again and tried to act casual.

“Hey, so my sister actually managed to set you up, huh?” he asked his friend in question.

“Yeah, call me crazy, but I think I’m actually gonna go for it.”

“As in tonight?”

“I don’t know. Probably. I mean, she’s cool. I could see myself asking her out in a couple of weeks. Let her get situated.”

“I don’t know. She is wearing a Bob Dylan shirt. Maybe she’s better suited for David.” Mark said. Everyone knew David was the Dylan fan.

“No way. David can’t date his sister’s best friend. That’s like some unwritten law. It would way get too weird. Plus, I mean, he could never come here. Sex would just be too awkward with his sister in the next room,” his friend replied, not having the slightest clue about how David felt about Elle.

David laughed, playing it off. Somewhere, deep inside, he knew they were right. It probably would get too weird. And what of he and Elle didn’t work out? What kind of toll would it take on him and his sister? Or Elle and his sister? They were too close for him to get in the middle of it. His friends were right, it was probably better he didn’t go after her.  

A little later Elle decided to start cleaning up in the kitchen rather than having to do most of it tomorrow. Sarah, Emily’s friend, ran into Elle while she was cleaning and approached her.

 “Hey, so congratulations on landing your new guy,” Sarah said spitefully, having had too much to drink.

“Oh, well, it’s just…” Elle shrugged. “It’s nothing yet.” She didn’t want to cause a scene and wasn’t the type to get jealous or get dramatic.

“He’s an asshole, you know? My guess is he won’t even call you. Maybe you should quit while you’re ahead.”

“He’s definitely not an asshole,” she replied, defending him. 

“You barely know him.”

“True. Which is why it’s nothing, yet.”

Elle continued to clean the counters, trying not to get mad.

“I bet he’s a lousy lay,” Sarah said.

“Excuse me?” Elle asked, putting the dishtowel down and turning to face Sarah. The nerve of this girl.

“In the sack, I bet he’s lousy.”

“Well, tomorrow morning I’ll keep you posted,” Elle said defiantly and smiled.

Sarah scoffed, said something under her breath and walked out.

What a bitch.

It was still early, and there were a still a lot of people around, but Elle was jetlagged, still on East Coast time. She was starting to get really tired and stifled a yawn. She had to get some sleep soon.

Just then Emily came in. “Hey hon, the kitchen looks great. Thank you.”

“Oh sure. Listen, I know you’re going to ask me about your brother’s friend. Do me a quick favour? We have this thing going on. You know, you never actually introduced him to me by name, so I have no fucking idea what his name is. And so far, I haven’t accidentally heard it, even though Sarah came in and talked shit.”

“Oh my god, she talked shit?”

“Yeah, but don’t tell me his name, okay?”

Emily laughed. “Okay. Weirdos. But what did Sarah say?”

“She said he would probably be a lousy lay!”

“How the fuck would she know? Anyway, what did you say?”

“I told her I would let her know in the morning.”

“You did not?!”

“Of course, I did. Why are you friends with her, anyway?”

“I know. I need to do something about that.”

“Hey, so thanks for tonight.” Elle sighed. “It’s really great to be back. I’m super sleepy though. I feel so lame, but I am so tired.”

“It’s okay.” The two of them hugged. “And you’re welcome.”

Elle sleepily walked over to David and his friends. Her heartbeat had already started racing again on anticipating of saying goodnight to the one friend in particular, wondering if she’d ever see him again.

“I hate to say it, guys. But I can’t stay up anymore. I’m still on East Coast time.”

David and his friends drunkenly booed her.

“You’ve got to fight it,” Mark said.

“I have been fighting it,” Elle laughed.

She felt a hand find hers. Her ‘date’ leaned in and whispered in her ear. “I’m not letting you walk in there by yourself,” he said, his words confident.

She nodded back at him. She felt the same way.

He started to say goodnight to everyone.

Elle’s heart danced. She remembered the state of her bedroom and decided to warm him.

“Yeah, so…my stuff just got here yesterday. Everything is still in boxes except for the bed.”

“Lucky for us, that’s all we need,” he said.

Elle blushed.

“Listen, I’m kidding. I get it. You’re tired. I was just kind of hoping for a private goodnight kiss. Maybe I’ll get a little daring and take off my shirt and go out to the bathroom or something for a little attention, though.” She laughed as they walked into her room.

“Jesus, you weren’t kidding about these boxes. Did you live in a mansion before and now you’re trying to fit everything into one bedroom?” he joked.

She cringed. “I know. I read a lot, so I have a lot of books. I can’t seem to get rid of any. Not even my entire Goosebumps collection from when I was a kid.”

“Wow. I’d love to see it all when it’s all unpacked. Let me know if you need some help with all this stuff.” He peeked through a partially open box.

She nodded. He looked at her, took a deep breath and brought her closer to him by putting his arms around her waist. 

“Don’t worry, I won’t overstay my welcome. I really should stop drinking anyway. Would you mind if I just chill in here for a while? You can use my shoulder as a pillow,” he whispered.

“I have pillows, thank you. But no, I wouldn’t mind.” Elle turned away and stifled another yawn. She took him by the hand and led him to her bed. He leaned on top of her, hovering closely and came in for a soft kiss.

“Thank you for tonight. This is so much better than the alternative,” he said after a few moments. “They’re probably thinking we’re getting it on out there,” he said, nodding towards the closed door.

Elle laughed. “Probably.”

“Yeah, sorry about that. Your reputation and all. And to think, you’re in bed kissing a man whose name you don’t even know…wait, you don’t know it yet, do you?”

“Why don’t you finally tell me?”

“I will.”

She waited.

“Well, not now.” He kissed her again.

 After a few minutes, they heard a knock on the door. It was Emily. “Hey, can I come in?”

Adam adjusted his position but didn’t exactly get off of her. Instead, he leaned to one side so Elle could have a view of the door.

Emily opened the door. “Oh shit, sorry. I thought you were alone.” She smiled at the two of them.

“It’s okay. What’s wrong?” Elle asked.

“Nothing, I just wanted to remind you that my brother and my Dad are coming tomorrow sometime around eleven or twelve to deliver the table. Wake me up if I’m asleep when they come.” She knew Elle would be up earlier than her since she was still on East Coast time.

“Oh yeah, I will.”

“Okay thanks. Goodnight,” and Emily winked at the both of them and closed the door. Outside she found her brother.

“Am I good or what?” she said to him. David did not ask her to elaborate on the details. He didn’t need to. It didn’t matter anymore.

Back inside Elle’s bedroom they continued where they had left off and kissed each other with more force and passion than they had before. Elle’s hands roamed underneath his shirt. She could feel her body ache for him and really wanted to do something about it, but this was nice, too. Maybe it was a good idea not to, especially if he was David’s friend. She continued to kiss him and to let her hands explore. She moaned softly as they kissed each other. She could tell he was hungry, hungry for her. Elle wrapped her legs around his body and he put his hand underneath her back. She could feel him between her legs, despite the jeans they were both wearing. Elle wondered if she should take hers off but didn’t want to send the wrong message. Not tonight.

As if he read her mind, he stopped gracefully and kissed her neck. “We should slow down, or else…” He knew she was tired, so he lay next to her and changed the subject. “You know, having a pretend girlfriend is kind of nice.”

“How do you mean?” Elle asked with laugher in her voice.

“Well, it got me out of a sticky situation. It could get me out of so many things. Plans I don’t want to keep, that sort of thing.”

“You could just get a real girlfriend.” Elle joked with him.

“Why, you want the job?” he asked playfully, cursing himself afterwards. He was jumping to conclusions, but he couldn’t help it. He liked her.

Elle hit him softly. “That’s not what I mean.” She snuggled up closer to him instead. “Just stay and talk for a minute. I’m not that tired anymore.” She put her arm around him and they both continued to lie in her bed and talk. A minute turned into two hours. Their bodies were touching the whole time because of her twin bed. She loved how warm he was. He was good at making her laugh. He explained how he had met David and the rest of the guys. He was roommates with David at UCLA. David had gone for the music program, while Adam studied architecture and had a full-time job in his field. She told him about her last two years in Maryland. She asked him about his background. He told her that both of his parents were Hungarian, but he got his dark skin from his Mom’s side. He also told her that he was obsessed with the ocean. He learned how to surf as a teenager and he told her he would take her out to the beach one morning in the future. She was excited about that. He did get up to the restroom, once. He had taken off his shoes when he climbed into bed with her, but he had decided to keep his shirt on. The party was winding down, but he still managed to receive a few cheers from whoever was left. He looked around, but it looked like all of his friends had left. Those who remained were just Emily’s friends, and Elle’s, too.

When he returned, they talked for another thirty minutes. It was just past one in the morning when he said he would be okay to drive. The alcohol had worn off.

Elle put her arm across his chest and held on to him tightly.

“Stay.”

He looked at her and kissed her forehead.

“Okay.”

Elle was asleep minutes later. He shifted in her bed, realized he wasn’t comfortable because he was still wearing his clothes and quietly took them off.

He thought about where the night had led him. The girl from the graduation picture.  No fucking way. He fell asleep remembering what it was like to kiss her.

The next morning, when she awoke, he was fast asleep. She looked around for a clock, but she remembered it was still packed. She got on top of him and looked for her phone on the floor. Six a.m. Damn, too early.

She went back over to her side of the bed and looked at him. She noticed he had taken off his shirt, and took a peek under the covers. She liked what she saw and smiled to herself.  She put her arm around him and kissed his shoulder, careful not to wake him up. She tried going back to sleep.

Two hours later, he awoke and couldn’t remember where he was. He had a strange dream about boxes. And then he remembered why. He looked to his left and saw her there. Her legs were tangled around his. He smiled.

“Elle.” He touched her face.

She stirred.

He kissed her face awake.

“Mmm?”

“Elle. Wake up.”

“Hmmmm?”

“You’re adorable when you sleep,” he said.

“Okay, I’m awake.” She smiled at him sleepily.  “Hi.”

“Hi.” He smiled. “Hey, so my name is Adam.”

“Adam. I like it.”

A Matter of Timing: Chapter One

Chapter One

            6:07 P.M. Los Angeles, Ca

Elle grabbed her coat from her desk chair, said goodnight to the janitor who was the only one left in her office building, and took one last look around trying to remember if she had forgotten anything.

The parking lot wasn’t quite deserted and she wondered whose lives belonged to these cars and which of the surrounding office buildings they worked in. What were their evening plans? The owner of this white Honda Civic for instance? Was she a woman, and would she be going home to cook dinner for her family, regretting a dream she left behind? Or was he a man, making last minute dinner reservations for two?  Elle got into her car and contemplated her own evening plans. She’d probably go home and make dinner for one, a glass or two of wine and maybe finish her Kerouac book. That sounded pretty darn good to her. Still, she was in the mood for something different tonight. Kerouac will always be waiting.

She turned up the music and drove through traffic to get home, changed into something that didn’t remind her of selling homes to potential clients. In this case, she chose tight black pants with combat books, a low-cut black blouse and reapplied some make-up, darker this time. Elle didn’t want to reel anyone in tonight, she didn’t need to. In Los Angeles there were plenty of men to choose from, but they hadn’t been able to reel her in. No one had been able to except for David, and he was in Seattle right now. That didn’t do her any good. She had just wanted to get out of her apartment for the night, maybe a drink or two, then go home. Nothing too wild.

Ten minutes later, Elle left her apartment feeling confident. She would take the long way to her favorite whiskey bar, through Laurel Canyon. She decided to bring some work with her, waiting for the night to settle in.

There was still traffic at this hour, but she didn’t mind. Elle loved the mountains surrounding her on Laurel Canyon. She loved the sharp turns, the steep climb. The exciting descent as you got closer and closer to Hollywood. On a night like this, the cool breeze flirting with the loose strands of her hair, Elle felt like anything can happen.

It wasn’t easy finding parking near the bar, but she got lucky within in a few minutes and found a spot directly across the street. She only had to circle the block once. The spot was small, but she silently thanked her Mini Cooper, it was just small enough for the spot she had found. Elle grabbed her work, her purse, and took one last look in the rearview mirror. She saw sadness in her eyes and shook it off.

It was close to eight by the time she arrived. A local band was about to go on stage in a side room. She found a tiny table in a corner and actually felt foolish for bringing her work, so she didn’t dive into it right away. She would try and get a feel for the night first. When she walked up to the bar to order a drink, she saw a face in the crowd and was hit with a force of recognition so hard she couldn’t think for a moment.

That woman, her face. She was so familiar! Who is she?

The woman in question didn’t see her. Elle’s eyes followed the woman as she walked back to her group and suddenly, Elle remembered who she was. It hit her like a ton of bricks. That’s his wife. Elle said a silent prayer to herself. Please don’t let him be here. Not tonight. Not this night. There’s got to be a mistake. Maybe it’s just someone who looked like her.  And then Elle realized that the gods were not with her this night, or if they were, they were not listening to her pleas. And there he stood, beer in hand. Adam. The couple were among friends, laughing and drinking all of them. Elle didn’t recognize the other people. Adam was laughing at something someone said, or probably something he had said, knowing Adam. And almost as if Elle herself had willed it, Adams eyes found hers. He did not react but took a swig from his beer instead. To the naked eye, no one would have noticed anything out of the ordinary. No one would have guessed that Elle and Adam had had a relationship that lasted five years, and that they used to fit one another like hand in glove. They would have probably gotten married. No one could have known that it had been a few years since they had last seen each other. 

She thought about leaving. But, damn, he had already seen her. As much as she wanted to get the hell out of there, she knew that was immature.

No, she thought to herself. Stay. She squared her shoulders and took the drink the bartender handed her and took a sip. Deep breath. She walked back to her table. 

Elle could feel his eyes on her. Her heart was racing. Adam and his wife lived in San Diego. She never, in a million years, expected to run into them on a night like tonight, at one of her favorite spots. She felt a little guilty for her next action, but she decided to do it anyway. Elle checked his profile on a social media website she rarely used. She pulled up his page and noticed that his “Lives in” was changed from San Diego to Santa Monica. Elle’s heart started beating faster.  What should she do? She had come to so many forks in the road with Adam. Elle thought back to their history and the heartbreak surrounding it. Some of it, Adam didn’t even know about. She swallowed. Shit, don’t think about it, she told herself. Everything is fine. It was years ago. You’ll be fine. 

Elle took a deep breath and looked up from her phone. She really didn’t want to, but she thought that she should probably greet them. Put on a smile and walk over there, she prompted herself. Elle took her drink with her as a crutch and took a quick sip for bravery before she got to their table. She didn’t like the idea of trying to ignore them. Sooner or later their lives were going to probably mix in with hers again seeing as how they had recently moved back. Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Only one way to find out.

There were about seven people at their combined tables.  His wife was immersed in conversation with another woman. She made eye contact with Elle as she approached and recognition lit her face, but only for a moment, then it passed as she continued her conversation. 

Adam saw Elle approaching and excused himself from the group.

 “Adam? Hi! I thought that was you.” She said, pretending to be happy to see him as they hugged. That second felt like an eternity. The familiarity of his body after all this time. Her hands were around his shoulders for mere seconds, but it brought back a wave of memories. Her mind flashed images of him of top of her. She could feel her face getting warm.

“Hey. What are you doing out here? This isn’t your scene, is it?” He laughed easily and genuinely looked happy to see her.

She smiled. He used to know me so well, she thought. “I think it has been for a few years now. The cafes started to get old.” She looked around the crowd and saw a punk rocker with green hair. She smiled. “These guys are way more interesting.” There was a pause. “What about you? I heard you got married! David showed me a few pictures, it looked lovely.” Elle gave him a fake smile. She had only seen one picture. It had been a picture of both Adam and David from that night. This was harder than she thought.

“Yeah, thank you. I know, it’s all going by so fast.”

“I know,” she agreed. “Hey, so what are you guys doing out here on a Thursday night of all nights?” She pretended she didn’t check her phone five seconds before coming over to their table. She took another swig or her drink, bracing herself to hear it out loud, coming from his lips. The same lips she has kissed over and over again.

“Anne and I moved back to the area a couple of weeks ago. It was time to come back,” he said seriously. He looked around the bar, and in a lighter tone, said “It’s good to be back. And who knows, you and I might even be able to get the old gang back together again.”

Shit. There is no way he could have possibly meant that.

“C’mon,” she smiled, playing it off. “It wouldn’t be the same without David.”

“Yeah, but he’s moving back soon.” He shrugged, as if it were that easy.

“It would be nice to see everyone again.”  Elle wondered if she should tell him about David. How would he react to her dating his best friend? A stranger walked by and brushed her shoulder. No, break away, she told herself. “Well, it was crazy running into you, Adam. You look good. Congratulations on your marriage.” And he did look good. His hair was shorter, more in style. His dark brown skin looked great in a bright white dress shirt and his slacks were designer. He was as tan as ever, which meant he still frequented the beaches. She was surprised that he still found time to surf. She had always loved how put together he looked, even in their early years. He had a knack for always looking good.

She waved her drink at him in an awkward attempt to say goodbye, with a smile to match when Adam pointed to her drink. He hadn’t noticed her trying to break away, or so she thought.

“What are you drinking, anyway? What is this?” he asked. He had noticed her trying to make a break for it but he didn’t want to let go of this unexpected moment in time. 

They had shared drinks often during their relationship. He used to order a unique beer when they would go out and she would do the same. Sometimes they would swap, but even if they didn’t, they would always try each other’s drinks.  It was a thing he had started on their first date. Each time, he would watch her as she brought his drink to her lips. The look he gave her never failed to send waves of electricity through her whole body. It never got old, it never ceased to excite her. The way he would look at her hungrily, it was so subtle. But it was there. No one else noticed it, Elle knew. But they both were always very aware.

This night, he took her glass and took a sip. He thought for a second. Then he took another sip, finishing it off. Elle couldn’t tell if he was doing it on purpose tonight, or if he was just being the same Adam she had once fallen in love with all those years ago, bringing their lips together on the same piece of glass, both marveling at the intimacy of a shared drink like a kiss in disguise.

He made a face and handed her back her glass. “You’re sipping Fireball by itself?”

She took the empty glass from him and hugged it close to her, coming to its defense. “I happen to like it. And yes, I asked for it on the rocks, I can enjoy it this way.  She looked down into her now empty glass. “Well, not anymore, it’s gone.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll get you another drink. A better one.” Oh, Adam was good. He quickly dispelled any and all awkwardness and filled it with charm and warmth. It was a talent of his. It was what drew her to him again and again.

“You don’t have to do that. I mean, I drank most of it anyway.” Also, you have a wife. But she didn’t say that out loud.

He shrugged. “Here, take my beer to hold you over.”

“Beer? I don’t want your beer,” she said with a smile she couldn’t hide. Damn him.

“Try it. I bet you it’s better than yours.” He watched as she put the bottle to her mouth. Her heart raced.

While she drank, she thought about his lips having been on this bottle. Sexual energy flowed through her system yet again as the beer went down, and her stomach fluttered and burned at once. The beer wasn’t ice cold, anymore.  She could feel the warmth of the bottle where his hand had been. Adam’s hands. He used to know how to love her with those hands, she thought.

 Elle smiled and held up the beer. “Well, I don’t know if it’s better, but it’s good. You’ve always had good taste in beer.” She wasn’t as good with the charm and the warmth. Especially now that she was starting to get a bit nervous and she could feel herself trembling. While she was finally over the break-up and had been for a while, seeing him tonight was completely unexpected.

Adam smiled. He could tell she was trying to hide her nervousness. What she didn’t know is that she held his heart in that smile. And therein lay her charm. Her smile, casting its net around him without his consent, the way it had always done. He used to love nothing more than to try and make her smile, and he was good at it, too. Adam allowed himself to briefly take her in. She wore more makeup around her eyes than he was used to. Her face had thinned out making her look older, more sophisticated, her Italian features more prominent. She was more predator now than prey. Adam wondered if he had anything to do with that. He noticed how her light brown hair was now a little darker. He had always liked when she wore it down, and liked that it was now longer than he had ever seen it. Her large crooked nose that she had always hated suited her. She had finally grown into her looks and she didn’t look like an adolescent anymore. Elle was almost thirty now, and he thought her new look suited her well. He had never seen her dressed in this rock and roll style. He thought she looked incredible.

“I’ll order something to your table. It’s my latest discovery. You’ll love it. And hey…” he looked at her, closely. They held each other’s gaze. She searched into his eyes wondering what he’d say, but whatever it was, he didn’t say it. Instead he said, “Good to see you. You look really good.” He sounded so casual.

She smiled and put her arms around him one last time. She patted him on the back in a friendly manner.

Elle walked away and took a swig of his beer. Back at her table she opened up her laptop and gave it a once over. Who was she kidding? She couldn’t work tonight. A waiter came by with a drink for her. She looked for Adam with her eyes, to thank him. She spotted his group of friends, and his wife. But Adam had disappeared.

Elle took a sip of this new drink and wondered what it was. Heaven in a glass, that’s what. She would have to ask him later. She laughed to herself.  When, later? As if it would become a regular thing. But then again, maybe it would. David would be moving back in six months. The two of them would possibly get together from time to time. Now, she was dating David. She still had time to figure it out all. She felt lucky to at least know what it was like to have been loved like that by Adam. She didn’t wonder if he still loved her now. She didn’t need to know. All that she knew was that he had and that he had once known her so well. Some people go through life never experiencing that. So, their timing was off. So what? She was lucky to have had the time at all, even with all the heart-break that followed. She still thought about it from time to time, her and Adam. A woman doesn’t forget something like that. And though the pain hadn’t faded from everything they had gone through, she had moved on. She was looking forward to her future with David, even though it was still new and long-distance. She had let Adam do the same with his new wife a long time ago.

At the end of the night, Elle was glad to have gone out. She had noticed that Adam eventually returned to his table, but he never once looked back in her direction. She decided to give Adam and his wife some privacy, so she moved to the bar with her back to them and struck up a conversation with the bartender in between his drink orders. When Elle walked to her car, she looked in the mirror and noticed she didn’t look tired anymore despite the late hour. The sadness was gone from her eyes.

When Elle got home, she changed into something comfortable to sleep in and picked up her Kerouac. She climbed into bed with it, not feeling lonely anymore. She had never even seen the note from Adam stuck underneath her windshield wiper asking her out for dinner. It had fallen off while she had driven away. He wouldn’t bring it up at the Thanksgiving dinner later that year either, though they talked about many other things.

Let’s find some more books together!

Hi hi all. I just wanted to write a quick little post to let everyone know that I am going to be diving in and out of Crazy Ink authors, and I am going on the hunt to find some great authors out there who we can all check out. I want to introduce all types of books and genres, so there’ll be something for everyone!

Piano Man

Pierce Leewood, known to the town of Cobbly Nob as the Piano Man, played for the visitors who graced Reagan Inn. His magical melodies made him beloved to guests but stories of his past left him a source of suspicion for locals. When young girls began to go missing and turned up dead, the Piano Man played his last tune.Twenty years later, Sarah Hayes and her daughter Amber find themselves uprooting their lives and returning to Cobbly Nob to help take care of family and the soon to reopen inn. While her mom and Grams immerse themselves in opening-day preparations, the mysteries of Reagan Inn and its most feared employee haunt Amber…as do its ghosts.As the monster known as the Piano Man sets his sights on Amber, she is determined to free the ghosts otherwise bound to suffer at his hands. Can she put an end to the Piano Man’s terror? Or will Amber find herself the next to face the music?

Purchase the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Man-Rena-Marin/dp/1096246880/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=piano+man+rena&qid=1565988592&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Q&A with author Rena Marin

In your own words, how would you describe your book? Piano Man is YA ghost story about the family who owns an old Inn a small mountain town. The Inn has been remodeled and is set to reopen which has the ghostly spirit of the town’s most notorious murderer ready to claim new victims.

What inspired this story? I worked in a haunted hotel for quite awhile. My daughter Amber still talks about the motel all these years later and remembers things that happened when she would visit with us at work. It amazes me how she remembers so much since she was just small at the time. She is a huge paranormal fan, just like her momma, so the more we talked about it, I decided it was time to give the motel its own story in a way. Of course, the real piano man was nothing like the one created for the book, but the name is the same. It’s the name Amber, and several others, called one of the motel’s most active ghosts due to the piano in the corner playing so often. 

What can you tell us of Cobbly Nob, where this story takes place? It’s actually a real community. I drive through it every day on my way to work and its beautiful. That’s what inspired me to use it as my setting. My version of Cobbly Nob is extended compared to the real location. It’s your typical small town. A grocery, a few mom and pops stores, library, small school, etc. To the older people in town it’s the perfect place to live a peaceful life. The kids? Well, they may get a few bouts of boredom which is why they are constantly looking for adventure to get into.

Have you or would you ever stay in a haunted inn? I have. The one I worked at would be my home several weeks in the winter months. It was hard to get to work when it would snow. If need be, the family and I would pack up and stay till things cleared up. I’ve spent many nights hearing things, seeing things, and even wandering around with the kids looking for things while there.

If you could place yourself in your book, which character would you be? What would you be doing? Oh, I would love to be one of the kids. Learning all the old legends about their town, exploring the Inn, and facing a new adventure would be something I would love to take part in. Especially the research part. I love reading about the history of haunted locations.

What surprised you most about your book as you were writing it? Piano Man began as a standalone. By the time I ended it, I found I couldn’t say goodbye to the characters and the location. A series is now in the works revolving around them. Graveyard Girls, book two, will be coming in 2020.

Give us a Rena Marin fun and/or unusual fact. I’m a huge horror/paranormal fan. Growing up, I didn’t have siblings to do the adventurous checking out of creepy places. My friends weren’t as into it as I was, so I was left with research and learning about places. Now, I have a partner in crime. My daughter, she’s 13, is just as taken by the paranormal as I have. We’ve started doing a few things here and there like ghost walks, explorations, etc. We have more planned for the future. I guess in a way you could call us wanna-be-investigators, lol.

What are you reading now? I just finished a reread of Wuthering Heights for an anthology I’m in. Next up will be Erin Lee’s Cotton Candy.

What can you tell us about your future releases? I have several anthologies releasing this year including Beyond Atlantis, Infamy, and Art Inspires with Crazy Ink. I also have the third installment of the Dead Oaks Terrors Series, Night Stalker coming in November which is written with Skylar McKinzie. In October, The Hunter’s Guild of Dark Hollow Ridge will be releasing. It is part two of my Dark Hollow Ridge saga. In December, another solo of mine, Backroad, will be released. As an exclusive author with Crazy Ink, all these titles will be published by them and their amazing team!

And because I’m a movie person, I have to ask, name a movie you could watch over and over and over again and still find merit in? Oh, I am such a huge movie fan!! I love too many! Let’s see as a fan, I love all the great horror movies of the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. Halloween, Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street, all of those. I love all the superhero movies too, but a good movie that gets me every time I watch it has to be Steel Magnolias. It’s my ugly cry movie but watching it reminds me of my family and the people I grew up with so much. Those women act just like my grandma and my aunts. It’s a great nod to life in the south and a time when things were simpler.

About the Author

Rena Marin was born in a small town in East Tennessee where she, her husband Daniel, and two children–Cody and Amber–still reside today. 

Growing up, reading and writing her own stories was Rena’s favorite pastime. Her once-unreachable dream of becoming a published writer came true when she was in high school and found herself with many writing awards and accolades, including a short story in Reader’s Digest. 

After starting her own business, Rena continued writing shorts online before moving on to freelance work. Taking a chance, she and a friend submitted a novel to their first publishing company and were delighted to be accepted.

As a member of Crazy Ink Publishing, Rena now has several co-written series underway, including the Best Selling Dead Oak Terrors Series. Halloween Nightmare, the first book in that series, recently won the Reality Bites Best Horror Book of 2018. Rena also has her own solo series called The Witches of Dark Hollow Ridge. She looks forward to bringing readers with her into a world of magic and adventure.

Keeping close to her short story roots, Rena is part of several anthologies with many more in the works. 

A lover of all forms of entertainment, Rena enjoys horror and fantasy movies new and old. When she isn’t writing or working, she often finds herself cuddled on the couch with her family–including their five fur babies–and lost in a fantasy world or hoping to be scared. 

Order Piano Man here: https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Man-Rena-Marin/dp/1096246880/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=piano+man+rena&qid=1565988592&s=gateway&sr=8-2