Marching to the beat of my own drummer! #romancingthegenres

On this leap day I’m up on Romancing the Genres and the theme this month is one I know intimately: Being different. Or in this case, Marching to the beat of a different drummer.

You can read the post here: RTG

Until next time, peeps ~Peg

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Filed under Romance, Romancing the Genres

#RomanceGems 2.27.2020 LoveIsLoveisLoveIsLove

It’s my turn over at the Romance Gems blog and today I’m talking about- what else? Love and Romance. Hee hee.

You can read the blog post here: RG2.27.2020

Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

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#LongandShortReviews #Wednesdaybloggingchallenge 2.26.2020

Today’s topic prompt is: My favorite memory and why.

Easy Peasy. My favorite memory is tied to a Christmas gift 40 years in the making.

I don’t get a lot of gifts. I didn’t as a child and I haven’t as an adult. I tell you that so you’ll know how precious the gift I’m going to tell you about really is to me.

Obviously, I’m a girl. Duh. I was a child in the 1960’s a time when stereotypical gender roles were still very much in place. Boys got baseball cards, BBguns, and sports equipment for Christmas and birthday gifts. Girls got Barbies, Easy Bake Ovens, and board games like Mystery Date.

I hated all those girly-girly toys. Still do, to be truthful. Even back then I knew they were designed to keep girls in their places, hoping and dreaming of the perfect boy/man to come along and take care of us for eternity.

Gag me now. I so did not buy into that dream. But that’s a blog for another day. Today’s is about my favorite memory.

When I was eight I asked Santa ( that’s right. I still believed in Santa at 8. Still do, in fact.) for a toy I’d seen advertised on Saturday mornings during the cartoon hours. It was aimed at the boy buying market but I didn’t care. I asked Santa that year for Rock’em Sock’em robots!

Lordy, I wanted that toy!!! I said a prayer every night that Santa would leave it for me. I was extra good around the house, doing my chores and even doing things I wasn’t asked to do just to score some brownie points with Old St. Nick.

Christmas morning came and….no robots. I think I opened a new outfit or two for the Barbie doll he’d brought me the year before – the one I NEVER played with, and some Barbie coloring books.

Devastated is too tame for how I felt. My mother asked me why I was so pissed ( and yes, she did say it like that to an 8 year old. Is it any wonder I am the way I am today?) I told her I’d asked Santa for Rock’em Sock’em Robots and couldn’t understand why I didn’t get it. I’d been good, did well in school, went to church. Did everything I was told and supposed to do.

Her explanation was very telling. She shrugged, took a puff of her cigarette and said, “‘Cause you’re a girl, not a boy. Santa doesn’t give boy toys to girls or girl toys to boys. That’s not right.”

See? Telling.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I told you that story. Stick with me and you’ll understand why.

Flash forward 48 years. I’m sitting at dinner with my entire in-law family a few days before Christmas and we go around the table telling stories about Christmas’s of the past. My father-in-law asks me what the best gift I ever got was. I told him, instead, about the Rock’em Sock’em Robots debacle and how much I’d really wanted that toy and how upset I’d been when I didn’t get it. On to the next person for another story.

Christmas morning comes and we are spending it with my in-laws. I wake up and we all start to unwrap gifts. My husband hands me a huge box wrapped with a big red bow and a tag that said, “to Peg, from Santa”. Since I hadn’t asked for anything that year, I was in a quandary about what it could be. When I opened it I started bawling my eyes out. Yup – you guessed it. He’d given me the toy I’d always wanted. Apparently, after hearing the story I’d told a few nights before, he’d sent my brother-in-law to Toys R Us with instructions to get it for me.

Is it any wonder I love this man and have for over 30+ years?

Since this is a blog challenge, click on to any of these author sites to see what they have to say: L&SR

And if you’re ever looking for me, I’m usually here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// Book Me

ANd don’t forget to vote in the L&SR Book of the Year Contest. My book, DEARLY BELOVED, is a finalist. You can vote here: L&SRBOY

 

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Filed under Dearly Beloved, Long and SHort Reviews, Uncategorized

#FreeAudiocodes for your #romance listening pleasure…

A few times in the past I’ve written blogs about the benefits of being a widely disbursed author. The days when we read only print books is past. These days we have electronic devices to read on and we have the growing use of audiobooks.

Just a few years ago I was listening to an audio book on cassette tape in the car during a long trip. That mode of listening has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur and VCR’s, peeps. Now, AUDIBLE rules and you can download, listen, and enjoy millions of books in every genre right on one of your e-devices.

Several of my books have already made their way to audio and you can check out my Amazon list for those that have, but today I want to give you all a little present. My wonderful publisher, THE WILD ROSE PRESS, has made a number of FREE codes available for two of my most downloaded and read books, CHRISTMAS AND CANNOLIS, and THE VOICES OF ANGELS.

With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she’s got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she’s better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can’t find it in her heart to refuse him.

Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself – and his company’s reputation – in Regina’s capable hands. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.

Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who’s awoken her heart?

Love is the last thing Carly Lennox is looking for when she sets out on her new book tour. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine profile based on her book, Carly’s thrilled but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is ambitious, and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else. As he tells her, he’s a patient man. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him.  

Carly Lennox is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it – and him – may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken.

I’m gifting whoever wants them with free codes below. Just click on the link and follow the instructions for download. And, because my life is filled with marketing these days, if you enjoyed the listening experience of the book, please write a review on Amazon or Goodreads (I’ve provided those links below too, just to make it easier.)

Bless you all and I hope you enjoy what you read AND hear from me! Hee hee

CHRISTMAS AND CANNOLIS Audio Link: here

THE VOICES OF ANGELS Audio Link: here

For Reviews:
C&C  Amazon // Good reads // Bookbub

TVoA Amazon // Good reads // Book bub

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A little ego boost from a Book of the Year Nomination~

SO every now and again I ask for what I want. It’s a strange concept for me since I’m usually the one who screams I’M INDEPENDENT AND CAN DO IT MYSELF!!!

Did you hear me screaming that??  Hee hee

But…I need help and I’m asking. My first Match Made in Heaven book DEARLY BELOVED is up for BOOK OF THE YEAR over at Long and Short reviews e-zine. While I know in my heart of hearts it really isn’t the best book of 2018-19, because it was voted a book of the month, it’s in the running with the other 12 books who were voted that as well, and this final vote decides the readers fav book of the year.

So…will ya vote for my book? Here’s the link to do so: L&SRBOY

Voting ends on 2.29.2020 so if you do vote, do so before you forget!!

I know: I’m shameless.

Thanks, peeps

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven

On Book reviews – good ones, bad ones, and ones that make you go “WHAT??!”

I’m not gonna lie….I read my book reviews.

Many authors will tell you they never do because they don’t want to hear anything negative about the book, or that it makes them uncomfortable, or anxious or ( insert your own descriptor).

Not me.

I read every single, friggin, review I find, especially those from people I don’t know. You kind of expect the people you know to say something nice about your book. But it’s the ones I’ve never met, who don’t know me from Eve, who when they take time to write something about one of my books, I sit up and take notice. I’m not arrogant enough to think my words will inspire, entertain, and bring happiness into every single reader’s lives. It’s my hope, but not my reality, peeps, heehee.

What I always find intriguing though, is when one book has polarizing reviews – both ends of the spectrum from 5 stars to 1.

Let me e’splain….

This was a recent review from a very famous author I know through a publisher connection. We have never met, but I thoroughly enjoy reading her books and she is a one-click author for me. For TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS this is her review, up on Amazon:

Katie O’Sullivan

Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2020

Format: Paperback

Peggy Jaeger has done it once more, proving why I keep returning to her stories again and again. The vivid portrait of small town life, the depth of the characters and the breadth of emotions… I love escaping to the worlds this author creates on the pages.

Ms. Jaeger writes in a first person point of view that drags the reader along on a sometimes chaotic ride with Cathy O’Dowd, a small-town lawyer and the eldest O’Dowd sister in the small town of Heaven, New Hampshire. She took over her father’s practice and responsibilities when her parents retired, one of which was sitting on the board of the local Historical Society. When a well-known author comes to town to research his new book, the pair are thrown together and sparks begin to fly.

Okay, none of that sounds terribly exciting, does it?

Small town lawyer. Author doing research. Historical Society.

It all reeks of dusty pages and yawns hidden behind polite hands. And yet…

This story crackles with emotion and tension, as the main characters are instantly drawn to each other but trying desperately to ignore the electric connection. The stubbornly broken characters kept me glued to my Kindle rooting for them to give into their feelings, to get over their sad pasts and find a happily ever after with each other. The scenes with Cathy’s grandmother, Nanny Fee, add comical humor and lightness to the overall story. Ms. Jaeger does a wonderful job of creating real characters we can relate to and root for, with the strong background themes of family and forgiveness running throughout.

I finished this book in a day, and loved escaping into the world Ms. Jaeger created. The first book in this series, Dearly Beloved introduced the town of Heaven and the sisters… And I know there’s one more O’Dowd sister whose story has yet to be published (I can’t wait!)

Amazing, right? And such an ego stroke I can’t tell you!
Now, here’s the same book and a review from Netgalley from someone I don’t know from Adam:
Maggie – 1 star
I have thoroughly enjoyed what I have read so far in Today, Tomorrow, Always. I love the small town atmosphere, the family surrounding Cathy, and the love and patience she has for her family, her sweet dog and her community. The buildup of Mac’s background and loss of his family add to an intriguing mystery. Why did you throw in a gay marriage? My decision is to not finish this book and not request any more of Peggy Jaegar’s books. I read Christmas and Cannolis last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thus, I requested this book. Please leave LBGTQ topics no matter how small under LBGTQ headings. It may be only a minor one-page item, but I am not interested in finding out. I will not be leaving a review on Twitter or Amazon as I do not believe in writing negative reviews.
The last sentence made me laugh. THAT’S exactly what she’s done, isn’t it??
Like it’s been said many times in the past : You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Now, if this reviewer had said the story was boring, or the writing was sophomoric, or even that the characters were unrealistic, I would have taken her words to heart and chalked up the bad review to someone who just didn’t like the book. This is still America, people, and we are allowed to have opinions that differ.
But…. this isn’t really a review of the book, is it?
Think about it.
Reread her words.
This is about 1 scene, 250 words, 1 page of a book that she even claims she was enjoying up until these 250 words came into play. For whatever reason this was a trigger for her and she decided to condemn me for the rest of my book writing life.
This is just one of those aspects of being an author that makes me go… WHAT??!
If you’re looking for me I’m usually here ( or out reading my reviews!)Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// Book Me // Watch me
…And liked Katie mentioned above, Book 3 BAKED IN LOVE is with my editor, but you can read the opening scene here: PJBlog
Until next time, kids ~Peg

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor, Writing

#LongandShort #Wednesdayblogging challenge 2.19.2020

This is going to be the shortest blog I think I’ve ever written. Today’s topic is :TYPES OF EXERCISE I ENJOY.

Answer: NONE.

Not kidding….not even a little.

Let’s see what the other authors in this blog hop have to say: L&SR

On a lighter night, my book DEARLY BELOVED ( A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN< Bk!) Is up for the L&SR Book of the YEAR!!! YIPPIE.

Voting begins on 2.22.2020 here: B.O.Y.

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#WinterGames are going strong and #Raving

So since February 1, I’ve been participating in a wonderful author/reader challenge titled WINTER GAMES. 50+ authors, offering their books for free or at 99cents to the members/readers who signed up for our read-a-thon. The only rules? Once you read the books you have to post a review.

I offered IT’S A TRUST THING up for read and review. On 2.1.2020 I had 3 reviews on Goodreads. I now have 16 and more will be coming because we still have 2 weeks left!
Yowza!

Tomorrow, starting at 5pm EST, I’m one of 5 authors who are RAVING, which doesn’t mean what I think you think it means ( Okay, end of Princess Bride reference). A RAVE at the WINTER GAMES means we will be hosting the FB page for 1 hour, talking abt our books, giving away prizes, and generally, getting to know our readers. If you’ve signed up for the WINTER GAMES, first; YAY! Next, I hope you requested my book and if you have BLESS YOU. And third, please consider joining us for a fun hour of author mayhem!! heehee

If you’re a member, here’s the link to the rave: WintergamesRave

Even if you aren’t a member, you can still read IT’A TRUST THING. It’s free on KU and only 99cents on kindle. Not a bad price for hours of fun and laughter.

Nell Newbery has trust issues. It’s hard to trust when you’re the daughter of a fallen financial scion who bilked people out of billions. Nell’s done everything in her power to keep away from men who see her as their ticket to fortune and fame. All she wants to do is run her ultra-successful business, HELPFUL HUNKS, in peace.

But it wouldn’t hurt to find a guy who doesn’t know a thing about her father’s felonious past; one she can give her heart to and trust it won’t come back to her battered, bruised, and broken.

Is Charlie Churchill that guy? On the surface he seems perfect, all polished manners and quiet mirth. Nell’s convinced he knows nothing about her, other than she likes superhero movies and views junk food as a food group.

Can she trust him to be what he appears to be? Or is he just pretending?

For Nell, trust is everything in life…and in love.

See ya at the RAVE!

Until next time, kids ~ Peg

Oh, and if you’re looking for me when I’m not raving, here’s where I’ll be:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// Book Me // Watch me

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Filed under It's a trust thing, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

#Author Lorelei Confer, #Newbookrelease

You all know I love having fellow authors on my blog. It’s truly my pleasure to give them a boost with promo and introduce them to readers who might not know about them. Today is an especially gleeful day for me because the writer I’m telling you about also happens to be my very first EDITOR at the Wild Rose Press. Lorelei Confer is the woman who changed my life for ever because she contracted for the WILD ROSE PRESS my very first book, Skater’s Waltz.

Lorelei has a new book out, DEADLY HOMECOMING and she’s also having a facebook premier party tomorrow, 2;18.2020 that I’ll be appearing at at 6pm EST. Here’s the link to the fb party: FBParty

The party starts at 10 am EST and goes until 8pm EST. Join a whole passel of authors for hourly stops. We’re playing games, giving away prizes, and having fun!

Here’s more about Lorelei’s new release:

Deadly Homecoming 

Madelyn (Maddy) returns home to arrange her mother’s funeral and has to face her biggest fear; her ex who broke her heart, but in oh so many more ways than one.

Garrett, her close childhood friend and FBI agent assigned to the human trafficking task force, gave his heart to her years ago and wants no other woman.

Does he have a second chance, or will her ex steal her from him again?

Available here: Amazon

A little about Lorelei:

Lorelei Confer lives on a peninsula in the mid-west coast of Florida with her high school sweetheart, now husband, and AJ, her longhaired Chihuahua.

In the fourth grade, she wrote her first story—something about getting a shot at the doctors—that was produced by the teacher for parents and students in an assembly. When she was older, she spilled her guts in a journal every night and wrote long newsy love letters to Viet Nam.

She is a multi-published author of romantic suspense with two series: The Deadly series and the Saddle Creek series. She also has written numerous novellas and short stories.

She loves to hear from her readers so if you want to stay “in the know” visit her website, sign up for her newsletters and contact her.

You can find Lorelei Confer here:

Website // Twitter // FB // Pinterest // Goodreads // AMazon  // Instragram

Don’t forget to join us tomorrow, 2.18.2020 starting at 10 am, I’ll be on at 6pmEST!

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#SundaySnippet 2.16.2020

So, the other day I sent off the manuscript for the final book in my Match Made in Heaven series, BAKED WITH LOVE, to my editor at Wild Rose Press. Fingers crossed she likes it.

I get a great deal of inspiration for writing my characters from my PInterest Boards. I have a few for Baked with Love you can troll thru:

Maureen’s Aprons //  Nanny Fee // Maureen and Lucas

Below is the opening scene I’ve written for the book. Here’s hoping it stays as is when it gets edited, because I lovelovelove this scene so much! Hope you do, too.

Chapter 1

Oh, my God, Maureen.” My sister Colleen’s voice rose a good two octaves from its normal sultry timbre. “Are those…penis pops?”

“Lower your voice,” I told her as I continued to pipe buttercream roses on the cupcakes I’d made for tomorrow’s wedding. “My entire inn doesn’t need to know I’ve got those”—I grinned—“hardening in my kitchen.”

“Why, in the name of all that’s holy are there”—she counted out loud—“seven chocolate candies in the shape of male genitalia on your counter?”

“Because your bride’s maid of honor special ordered them for the attendants. I tried to talk her out of it, but she paid me triple to make them and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Be happy there are only seven. She wanted one for each of the thirty females on the guest list. I was able to talk her out of it by promising to make those”—I pointed my chin toward the candy—“for the bridesmaids. She’s going to present them tonight after the rehearsal. Thinks they’ll be, quote, a scream, unquote.”

My wedding planner and getting-bigger-by-the-second pregnant sister plopped down onto one of my kitchen chairs and sighed. Heavily.

“Oh, good Lord. Thanks for the head’s up. I’ll make sure the moms are nowhere in sight when she gives them out. I don’t relish having to listen to one more complaint about this wedding. I’ve had enough for the past week to last me until Princess here”—she patted her round tummy—“is off to college.”

I flicked her a glance and said, “Put your feet up, Coll. I can see how swollen they are from here.”

With more effort than was probably warranted – she is after all, related to our grandmother, who corners the market on theatricality – she hefted her feet onto an opposing kitchen chair then extended and flexed her toes a few times. This time her sigh was thick with fatigue, and if I wasn’t mistaken, pain.

“I can’t believe you’re still wearing those ridiculous heels when you’re almost nine months along,” I chided. “Standing in them all day can’t be good for the baby. Or your back.”

“Stop scolding me.” It was impossible not to miss the whine in her voice. “I refuse to take advice from someone who thinks flipflops are the greatest invention known to the shoe wearing population of the world. For the record, my back is fine and my feet don’t hurt.”

“No, they just look like flesh colored water balloons.”

“When did you turn so mean? You’re usually the supportive, quiet sister.”

In ordinary circumstances this was true. But with my ready-to-pop and three-inch heel wearing sister, I was more than willing to make an exception.

I piped the last rose on the final cupcake, laid my pastry bag down on the counter, and took a good look at her. Camera ready face with her professionally polished outfit perfect and not a tendril of red hair out of place, the middle of my three sisters looked something she rarely did: tired. With her hands folded over her protruding belly, she’d dropped her chin to her chest and closed her eyes.

The snarky remark I was going to make about the benefits of wearing flats died before I gave it breath.

Since lunch service had finished a half hour ago and my serving staff was done with cleanup, Colleen and I were alone in my kitchen. I put the kettle on for tea and asked, “Did you have lunch?”

When she lifted her head her eyes took a moment to clear before they focused on me, lending credence to the fact she was tired. And maybe more than simply tired.

“There’s a salad waiting for me at the office. Charity got one for me while I was with the florist.”

“Text her back and tell her to put it in the fridge. I’ll make you something to eat.”

While she contacted her assistant, I plated the luncheon salad I’d concocted for today’s menu, then put half a ham and cheese sandwich into my Panini maker.

“Eat this until the sandwich is done.” I handed her the salad and a bottled water.

“What is it?”

“Spinach, cranberries, walnuts, raisins and carrots with a light pomegranate dressing and shaved Parmesan.”

Colleen shoved a forkful in and groaned. “Oh. My. God. Honestly, Maureen, you should have your own cooking show. This is insane.”

“Everything she makes is insane,” a male voice said from the doorway.

It was a voice I knew well, since its owner was a frequent inhabitant of my dreams. Husky and deep, with a dash of just woken gravel, it could cajole a lover into seduction or cut off a criminal at the knees.

Fortunately, I’d never been the latter. But I’d fantasized about being the former for years.

“Truth,” Colleen said around a mouthful of salad. “Why are you here?” she asked Heaven’s Chief of Police, Lucas Alexander before I could. “Somebody call a cop?”

Lucas flicked his moss green, heavily hooded eyes from my sister to me, one corner of his mouth tilting up. I actually had to contract my pelvic floor muscles whenever he looked at me so I wouldn’t melt to the floor in a pool of want. My ninety-three year old grandmother, Nanny Fee, calls this girding your loins. As far as a descriptive phrase for the maneuver, it’s a good one.

“You got a minute?” he asked me.

“A few. Then I have to get the dining room reading for tonight’s rehearsal dinner.” I pulled Colleen’s sandwich from the press when the bell tinged. Lucas, always comfortable in my kitchen, moved to lean a hip against the counter and then halted mid stride.

I knew the cause of his sudden stop and bit down on the inside of my cheek while I handed Colleen her plate. She caught my eye, and my stifled grin, and realized the cause. Her lips lifted in a wicked grin.

Lucas cleared his throat. “Are those–? Wait. What, what are those? Are they…?”

“Are they what?” Colleen asked, innocence dripping from her voice, at the same time I asked, “Want one?”

Lucas spun around to find the two of us staring at him, expressions blanked, and waiting for him to continue.

He huffed out a breath and dragged a hand through his hair. “Never mind,” he said, with a nervous shake of his head and shoulders.

Colleen glanced up at me, winked, and then took a huge bite of her Panini. “Oh, good Lord, Mo.”

I smiled and told her, “You’re welcome,” before I said to Lucas, “What’s up?”

He cocked his head in a come-with-me move.

In the breezeway separating my private kitchen from the commercial one I used for the inn I own and cook in, Lucas stopped, bit down on a corner of his mouth, and twirled his hat in his hands. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was nervous, but nerves weren’t an emotion common to this man. His army training had taught him how to remain calm in any crisis, cool under the most volatile of situations. I’d never even heard him raise his voice in all the years I’d known him.

I repeated my question.

“I need a favor.”

I rolled my hand in a go on gesture.

“Cathy might have mentioned Robert’s coming to spend a few weeks with me. Nora’s getting remarried this weekend and then leaving on a long honeymoon.”

I nodded. “I’d heard that, but not from Cathy.” To the question in his eyes I said, “Nanny told me the other day when I dropped off her scone delivery at the nursing home. She heard it from Tillie Carlisle who got it from Maeve Capshaw, whose granddaughter, Olivia, told her. Nanny said Olivia was the one who introduced Nora to her intended at a divorced-and-looking event she’d hosted.”

“Jesus.” Lucas shook his head again. “Small towns.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “A curse and a blessing, as Cathy is fond of saying.”

“Yeah, well, your sister is one of the smartest people I know. Anyway. Nora doesn’t want to leave Robert home alone. He’s too old for a babysitter, but at fifteen, still too young to be left to his own defenses. He just started driver’s ed and doesn’t have a valid license yet, so it was easier to take him while she’s gone.”

“So he’s gonna stay with you and your dad until they get back?”

“Yeah.”

“Why don’t you sound happy? Whenever Robert’s visited for school breaks before you’ve always been thrilled since you don’t get to see him as much since they moved.”

He huffed out another breath and leaned a shoulder against the wall. My pregnant sister wasn’t the only one who was tired.

“I’m not not happy he’s coming to stay. It’s more, things with dad now aren’t good and I’m afraid he’s gonna make the kid’s life miserable with all his complaining and griping. Last time Robert came for a weekend all dad did was harp on him. Get a haircut, stand up straight, stop mumbling. Poor kid couldn’t wait to get back to his mother, and that’s saying something, because she’s almost as bad. I don’t want him to spend all his time with his grandfather while he’s here, getting criticized for merely breathing.”

“I’m assuming this is where the favor you need from me comes in?”

He nodded. “The kid needs something to occupy him while he’s here. I’ve gotta work and I can’t take any time. I don’t want him sitting home all day fighting with dad or locked in his room playing video games. I want him to get out of the house. Get a job. You hire high school kids to bus tables and help serve. I’m hoping you’ll take Robert on as summer crew. Then, I’ll know where he is during the day, he’ll earn a little money of his own, and I won’t have to worry about coming home to World War III every night. Plus…”

“Plus?”

“Well, if he’s with you I won’t…worry about him. I know he’ll be in good hands. You’ll feed him and watch out for him like he was one of your own. Like you do everyone else.”

To say I was thrilled by the offhanded compliment was an understatement. Even if I wasn’t on the lookout for extra help, I would have hired Lucas’s son.

“Sure. I can always use another body, especially in the summer when I’ve got a full house every weekend from Colleen’s wedding parties.”

Lucas’s shoulders dropped a couple of degrees from where they’d stationed themselves at his ears and he let out a breath filled with relief. “Thanks, Maureen. Really.”

I waved my hand at him. “Don’t worry about it. When does he get here?”

“Sunday morning. Nora’s dropping him off before she leaves for the airport.”

I nodded. “Get him all unpacked and settled and then you can bring him by Monday. I’ll go over everything with him then, okay?”

“More than okay. Again, I can’t thank you enough. You’re truly a lifesaver.” He took my hand and squeezed it. Lucas had done this hundreds of times over the years and like every other time he had, the wiring in my heart went a little haywire.

And like every other time, I swallowed the temptation to tug on his hand and pull him close enough so I could kiss him.

“Any time okay?” He let my hand go and I had to physically refrain myself from pulling it back.

“After breakfast service would be good, so around ten-ish?”

He nodded. Whatever he was going to say was cut off by the beeper at his waistband blaring.

“Sorry.” A quick glance at it and he shoved his hat back on his head. “Duty calls.” He grinned. “See you Monday.”

I waited until he walked out the Inn’s front doors before going back to the kitchen. In all honesty I needed a moment alone to center myself. Seeing Lucas, no matter when or where, always made my insides flutter, my toes tingle, and my heart beat faster.

From the time I’d turned nine Lucas Alexander had been the only man I’d ever loved. At eighteen, nine years older than me, he’d been my brother-in-law’s best friend from the cradle and a part of our family since I was a baby. But the first time I’d ever spied him in his army uniform I’d lost my heart forever. Cliché though it is, Lucas in a uniform had slayed me, even as a little girl. Twenty-plus years later I still felt the same way whenever I saw him in his police attire.

And in his regular clothes, too.

Colleen was still in her chair, feet up, the plates in front of her now empty, and her chin kissing her chest again. I had to smile. This was the sister who defined the term perpetual motion. To see her actually napping during daylight hours was akin to seeing a leprechaun’s pot’o gold. This pregnancy, her first at the age of thirty-seven, was weighing heavily on her and zapping the energy she was blessed with. I didn’t have the heart to rouse her.

With as little noise as I could, I went about tidying the kitchen. The sharp ping of her cell phone signaling an incoming text ten minutes later called her slumber to an end.

She startled, blinked a few times, then tugged her phone from her pocket. No one I knew could type faster than my sister. A series of rapid-fire finger taps and then the whoosh of her text being sent filled the room.

“Did I fall asleep?” she asked, while she stretched her arms high above her head.

“Just for a few minutes. I’m betting this was the first time you’ve sat all day.”

With another of those soul-weary sighs, she hefted her feet from the chair and stood. Another full body stretch, then she said, “No rest for the wicked. Or wedding planners the day before a big wedding.”

“Where are you off to now?”
“The church, the spa to check tomorrow’s appointments, the printers to pick up the programs for the ceremony. Then back to the office for a conference call.” She ticked each stop off on her fingers. “I can check off the rehearsal and reception right now. Everything set?”

“All taken care of. When you all get back from the rehearsal, I’ll start service. Some of the non-bridal party guests have already begun arriving. I had Janie put all the goodiebags in their rooms this morning. The bridal suite is all set for tomorrow. I have the champagne in the cooler and I’ll put it in the room during the reception.” I swiped a hand toward the cupcakes I’d been decorating when she arrived. “In lieu of the cake your bride didn’t want, I’ve got the cupcakes she did all ready to go.”

Colleen sighed and kissed my cheek. “I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d survive but you wouldn’t get the family discount or the personal service-with-a-smile you’re used to.”

Her laugh warmed my heart.

“Before you go,” I moved to my industrial refrigerator, pulled out a bundle of aluminum foils and put them in a shopping bag. “Here. Leftovers from yesterday for you and Slade. Now you don’t have to cook tonight.”

Colleen took the bag and then tugged me into her arms for a full body hug, not an easy accomplishment with her belly bump in the way.

“I simply adore you,” she said, with another cheek kiss. “My husband does, as well. You take care of us better than anyone.”

“I aim to please.”

“Speaking of, what did Lucas want?”

I glared at her. “How did you take ‘I am to please’ and equate it with Lucas?”

“He’s just another person in your realm who adores you and who you take care of.”

I shook my head. “Okay, first? He adores my cooking, not me. And second? My realm? Really, Coll? You make me sound like some imperial and benevolent ruler.”

“Benevolent for sure. I won’t go so far as to call you a ruler because then I’d be your subject and I’m older than you, so, no way.”

Her laugh drew one from me.

“And as far as Lucas adoring your cooking and not you, they’re one and the same, sis. Now, why was he here?” She held up the shopping bag. “To mooch one of these go-bags for him and his dad?”

She wasn’t wrong in asking if I’d given him his own to take. More times than not, Lucas would stop by on his way home after a long day for a quick cup of coffee and a chat. He never left empty handed if Sarah—my assistant—or me had anything to say about it.

I explained about Robert Alexander and the favor Lucas had asked me.

“Win win for you,” she said. “You get extra help, which I know you can always use, plus you get another person to take under your smother-love maternal wing and care for.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know exactly what I mean, Maureen Angela Bernadette.” She flapped her free hand in the air like she was waving a wand. “You may be the baby in our family, but you act more like a mother hen any day of the week. You cook for us, look out for us, heck, you even research solutions to problems like you did when Cathy’s dog got sick, or when I was suffering through that awful early stage morning sickness. Adding Lucas’s son, a teenaged boy who’s probably got all the angst and raging emotions inherent in the breed under your wing, and I bet my secret stash of Peppermint Patties the kid’s never gonna look at his own mother the same way again.” She kissed my cheek one more time and said, “I’ve gotta go, so toodles. I’ll see you later when I come back to escort the bridal party to the church. Thanks for lunch.” She lifted the bag. “And dinner.”

To her retreating back I said, “Just FYI, it’s not such a secret stash. We all know where you keep your candy.”

Her response was to toss me a backhanded wave as she went through the doors of the Inn.

With my hands fisted on my hips I shook my head.

So what if I tend to spoil the people I love? Make sure they got enough to eat? Always have a bed ready they can crash in, or a willing ear they can confide in? They deserve it. It’s my humble opinion if more people showed how much they cared about one another, instead of simply tossing out an offhanded I love you every now and again, people, in general, would be much happier.

If that’s smothering, so be it.

Back in my kitchen I washed Colleen’s dishes, then reheated my cup of untouched tea. While I drank it, I planned the next few days in my head and went over the staffing I’d need for the busy weeks ahead of me. When I added Robert Alexander’s name to my mentally tally, it was his father’s ruggedly handsome face that popped into my mind’s eye.

The exhaustion I saw floating in his eyes was worrying. Having his aged and ailing father living with him was taking a toll on Lucas’s mental wellbeing. Hogan Alexander cornered the market on the term curmudgeon. He’d been crabby and ill-tempered ever since I could remember. My grandmother claimed it was because his wife up and left him after sixteen years of marriage, saddling him with a teenaged son Hogan didn’t know how to relate to. The fact Lucas grew to such a wonderful man and upstanding citizen was one of the wonders of the modern world. Cursed with a father who doled out complaints instead of compliments and a mother who left to find her self at the age of forty, Lucas could so easily have gone to the dark side. Instead, he’d enlisted in the army with his best friend, served three tours, then come home to roost.

When his own marriage had gone south, Lucas didn’t turn bitter as his father had, but made every effort he could to be a good father to his son.

A quick glance at the wall clock and I stopped my wool-gathering. I had to get the private dining room ready for Colleen’s bride’s rehearsal dinner. Before though, I needed to wrap the chocolate pops and get them to the Maid of Honor. Remembering the look of confused horror on Lucas’s face when he spied them brought a smile to my own.

But then, just thinking of him always did.

Yeah, I know it’s a long one, but every word I truly loved writing!!!

I’ll let you know about publishing details if and when I have them!

Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women