I found a wonderful cover created by Teagan Geneviene and it gave me the idea for a YA novel about two sisters estranged over their father’s suicide.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Our house looks just the same; a two-bedroom craftsman Daddy converted into four by finishing the basement for his girls. That’s what he’d called Izzy and me, his beautiful baby girls. We’d grown up poor, but it never felt that way. Our parents always made sure we had new outfits for school, birthday parties all the neighborhood kids clamored to attend, and Christmases where we could hardly find the floor for all the gifts. We were spoiled, but in a good way. We understood the value of money and knew we had to take care of our stuff or face severe punishment—usually a week of doing dishes by ourselves, washing and drying. Dad worked long hours at the tire shop and Mom took in mending and did baking for the local market. My job was to babysit my brother and sister and keep them out of Dad’s hair until he had a chance to relax after work, which meant chugging back a beer or three.
I can’t make myself pull into the driveway, it feels too much like getting sucked into a void, so I parallel park in front of the house and shut down the engine. Over the click of the cooling motor I hear the birds chattering in our giant pine tree that shades most of the yard and part of the road. We used to take turns seeing how high we could climb as kids, even though Mom said if we broke our necks we were on our own. Izzy, the little tomboy, had scurried from branch to branch like there were suction cups attached to her feet and hands. Ben was only five or six maybe and scared of heights. I could get him to hang onto the bottom branches, but that was as far as he would go. But, his smile. It made the fact I was stuck on the ground watching him worthwhile.
We’d tried to talk Mom into moving after Dad… but she wouldn’t hear of it. She said this house held the key to every happy memory she could recall; from arriving as a young, naïve bride, to pregnancy, babies, and holidays. She refused to throw it all away because of our father’s last, selfish act. And that was that. We all pretended the backyard didn’t exist, and carried on as though our lives were normal, when they were anything but.
The gate creaks open with a lisp, the hinges old and rusty and barely holding onto the whitewashed fence. Grass grows better between the sidewalk blocks than in the rest of the yard, littered with pine needles and the cones Mom used to send us out to collect for craft night. My heel catches in one of the hairline cracks in the cement and I nearly fall on my face. It’s the final straw; I turn to leave, tomorrow is another day, but the door opens and I stop in my tracks.
She looks older. A nervous laugh bubbles. I wasn’t expecting it to be this hard. “Hi.” That’s me, Miss Eloquent.
“What are you doing here?” She leans a slim shoulder against the door frame, her red hair glinting in the sun, her gaze flat and hooded. The dark circles underneath her blue eyes tug on my heartstrings. Well, that and the sorrow engulfing me the moment she opened the door. There’s no more denying it—Mom is gone.
I ignore her antagonism and hurry forward, dropping my overnight bag at our feet—so different, me in my heels, her barefoot—and draw her resisting body into my arms. I close my eyes, the better to breath in the essence of my baby sister. Every bit as strong and lean as I remember, her arms are stiff and unyielding at her sides. Heaven forbid she’d give in to a moment of sentimental emotion.
Forgiveness isn’t big on the Thomas’s list of strong points.
Reluctant, I let her go and take a step back to assess how she’s holding up. Not good, if the too pale skin and deep lines across her forehead are anything to go by. Well, I’m here now. It’s past time I take on some of the family responsibilities.
“Where’s Ben?” I ask, glancing over her shoulder into the dim hallway beyond. “Is he…?” What could I say? Doing okay? Upset? Sad? Mad? No doubt, all of those and more. Benjamin was closest to Mom, her baby. It wouldn’t be easy for him to accept her death. An ugly shiver sweeps down my back.
“He’s in his room. He doesn’t come out. I can’t get thr… what does it matter?” Izzy snarls, tossing her head. “You didn’t care before. You can’t just show up, especially now, and expect everything to be how it was when we were kids. There’s no going back.” She straightens and heads inside, trying to slam the door in my face.
Good to know her temper is the same, anyway. I stop the door with my palm, wincing as the pressure explodes up my arm. Much as I want to leave, the time for running is over.
I’m also working on the third in the Men of WarHawks series, which follows the lives of a NHL hockey team. This is a romantic suspense series with plenty of pulse-pounding action!
I love the romantic suspense genre and Navy SEALs (who doesn’t? :)) and wanted to combine the two with another favorite, motorcycle clubs.
The premise of this story is that a woman disappears and her shy, geeky sister seeks help from the only man she thinks will be invested in her case- Reed McLaughlin.
Emma Stone knew the moment she entered the Twisted Sister it was a mistake. The biker bar was as rough on the inside as it was intimidating on the outside. If she weren’t so desperate she would’ve turned around and gone home the moment she saw the long line of bikes parked in front of the dilapidated building.
The noise from cheap speakers pumped way higher than their tweeters could take competed with rowdy laughter, the slap of pool cues striking balls, and the stench of unwashed bodies blending with spilled beer.
Em stood just inside the doorway, blinking like a lost owl. The scene in front of her bemused eyes was like something out of one of those thriller novels her sister enjoyed. She prayed Rose hadn’t ended up like one of those victims.
A burly guy in a leather vest covered in badges bumped into her, almost knocking her out with his breath. Hope he didn’t plan on driving.
“Well, looky here,” he slurred. “Aren’t you in the wrong church, sister?” He stuck his head back and roared, thoroughly amused at his obvious wit. Emma ducked her head and wished herself back home curled up on the sofa with her tortoiseshell cat, Thomas. He slung a beefy arm around her neck and tugged her under his armpit. “Sugar, what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?”
Emma’s heart beat frantically as she pushed ineffectually against his chest. “Let me go. I need to find a man.” The words barely left her lips before she cringed.
He grinned down at her with teeth stained from tobacco and Lord knows what else. “Lucky you, you found one.” His moist lips puckered and his head lowered and Emma did the only thing she could—lifted her knee and caught him square between the legs.
His arms loosened, his face turned an alarming shade of green, and he dropped like a sack of potatoes.
Emma was feeling a little woozy herself. She’d seen it done on TV, but the women there stood over their fallen assailants with satisfied expressions and handcuffs. She had no cuffs and was terrified. What if his friends noticed? They’d probably shoot her on the spot.
A quick glance around showed her no one was paying them any attention. Relieved, she edged around the groaning mound and inched her way through the crowd up to the bar. A busty brunette in a too-short jean skirt and a black t-shirt with the words, I Really Feel Like Going for A Ride, emblazoned across her chest gave Emma the onceover before grabbing a couple of longneck bottles of beer dripping condensation from the counter.
“You’re in the wrong bar, honey,” she muttered, slipping off the high stool. “You better leave—while you can.” She sauntered over to a table in the corner. Emma could just make out a set of masculine jean clad legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. The moment the woman got within range, arms, one covered in a sleeve of tattoos, reached out and tugged her onto his lap. She shrieked, but not in fear as Emma had done. This was more of a hello, baby, proven when she buried her lips against the stranger’s neck.
Embarrassed, Em turned away. It wasn’t that she was a prude, it’s just that there was a time and a place and public displays were neither. In her opinion romantic encounters belonged behind closed doors. Some people—her ex-boyfriend for one—would say it was an antiquated ideal, and maybe they were right. But, there weren’t half as many divorces in the days of courtship as there was now with the modern generation’s loose morals.
It took forever before the bartender noticed her. He made sure everyone was happy then worked his way down, laughing and chatting with the locals. He wiped his hands on a surprisingly white apron tied around a lean waist and leaned an elbow on the counter, arm bunching with impressive muscle. His bald head and a gold hoop dangling from his ear gleamed under the fluorescents. A tattoo of an eagle’s talons peeked out from the arm of his shirt.
“What’ll ya have?” he asked, eyeing her like she was an anomaly. Which she probably was, around here anyway.
“I’m, ah… looking for someone. Reed McLaughlin.” Emma caught the quick glance over her shoulder. She turned, but no one was there. “Do you know him?” she asked, not sure why the name would elicit that suspicious look she was now receiving from the previously friendly bartender.
“Maybe. What do you want him for?” He straightened and crossed his arms over a rock hard chest.
This was such a bad idea.
“I have a proposition,” she whispered.
He cocked his head. The earring flashed, mocking her. “Speak up, missy. This is a bar, and I can’t hear on the best of days.”
Emma twisted her hands, then grabbed deep for some courage. “I said, I have a proposition for Mr. McLaughlin.” The words rang loud and clear into the silence between one song and the next ear-splitting tune.
Someone laughed, and then the catcalls and wolf whistles began. Emma groaned, her face flaming as only a redhead’s could. She looked to the barkeeper for help, but his face was stoic. Despair brought a tear that she wiped viciously away. These people didn’t need to see her misery. No one cared.
She swung around to blindly head for the door, and practically rammed her nose into a man’s chest. Her distraught gaze climbed to an uncompromising jaw, firm, yet supple lips—her heart fluttered—a nose with a slight bump on the side like it had been broken at one time, and eyes that glittered almost black in this lighting.
Her knees gave out, but before she could slide to the ground in an ignominious heap a firm male hand gripped her arm and held her upright.
“My place or yours?” A voice like a cat’s contented purr rumbled in her ear.
So there really was a devil, and he was in Cincinnati.