Tag Archives: #preorder

An interview with #writer STELLA GRAE

I’ve got a brand new-to-me- author and WRP sistah here today for a visit and an interview. I’m so excited to introduce you all to STELLA GRAE. Let’s get to know her a bit and then take a glance at her new WILD ROSE PRESS book JUST CALL ME CONFIDENCE releasing March 22, 2023

Stella…take it away.

Stella –The Writer

1. What drives you to write?

For me, writing has always been cathartic. I write when something bothers me, upsets me, or when I’m trying to process something. So, writing has become almost this extension of my personality. And, I just love creating an alternate reality where I might want to live…for a just little while at least.

2. What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why?

I write erotic romance, which I had never thought I’d do. When I first began writing, romance writing was at the bottom of the list. Honestly, I was very frustrated with my lack of success in other areas, so I thought, “Why not?” and the words, plot, characters—everything flowed really well. I’m very fascinated with sexuality. I will often look at people and wonder how they are sexually. I know…it’s odd, but for me, erotica is as much about the psychology as the sex.

3. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?

I prefer romance with a dark twist. I have read and enjoyed Pepper Winters writing. I love that the characters are allowed to evolve and triumph out of dark, gritty situations.

4. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day?

I do not write every day unless I have a work-in-progress that is pulling me to it. Some weeks that means I may write every day, but usually I devote part of a weekend to writing. Since I teach, I do a lot of writing during the summer and on breaks.

5. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?

I have devoted a corner nook in my bedroom as my writing space. The gorgeous old table that my family used when I was a kid is my desk. It’s a little cluttered, but I am essentially an organized person. I love the table because I can see the indentations in the wood that spark a lot of memories. It’s a very comfortable place for me to be mentally as well as physically.

6. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnelvision?

I really like quiet. I am bothered by background noise, so I do writing in the early morning or late at night.

7. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?

No! I honestly don’t know how people do that. I might be able to do some classical music, but usually silence is best. Now, I can be inspired to write by a song, but that’s it.

8. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?

So, this will be an interesting answer because most authors pull some part of themselves into a work, even if it’s just their own personal fantasies. Just Call Me Confidence and its sequel, which I’m working on right now, were both born of a failed relationship. I was lonely in the relationship, but didn’t want to do anything stupid, so I created characters and situations that were based a little on reality, but twisted them to create the kind of relationship that I actually had wished I had. The relationship fizzled, but the plot sizzled, as they say.

9. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?

I’d have to say that the plot comes first, but the character and his or her conflicts will come a close second. I often think about real people and their stories—why something is the way it is, or how it could be—and can flesh out a story pretty quickly. The characters have to be spot on though for a story to click, and that’s why, for me, character development really drives that plot.

10. What 3 words describe you, the writer?

Intelligent, determined, and passionate.

Stella –The Gal

  1. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing! I love to work with my hands, especially on home improvement projects. I’ve tiled a bathroom, put in flooring, installed crown molding. I even have my own saws, levels, and such.
  2. Who was your first love and what age were you? I was young—maybe first grade—and I had a crush on this boy named Greg. I just thought he was wonderful, but he only had eyes for someone else. I can’t remember why I liked him, but I do remember that by middle school I had a mild obsession with Rick Springfield.
  3. If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and…. I think I would relive the day that I was with my grandmother, brother, and other family on a train trip to the West. We were going across the Continental Divide and it was just magic—the scenery, the people I loved—I just could live that feeling of majesty over and over. It was very humbling to know, in a moment, how blessed you are.
  4. What’s one thing you love about your significant other? I absolutely love that my significant other gets me and my writing. He isn’t jealous of the time I put in to it and really lifts me up. He’s so encouraging!
  5. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it item, what would it be? Pencil and paper—I’d go crazy if I couldn’t write things down.
  6. What three words describe you, the person? Intelligent, kind, and independent. (Peggy here – loves those descriptions!)
  7. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?  “Tide Is High” by Blondie. It’s a fun, feel-good song that Jimmy would like and I love Debbie Harry’s voice—she sings in my range, so I’d sound somewhat decent.
  8. If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together? There are so many great characters, but I think I’d hang out with Edward from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. While it’s geared toward kids, that story has one wise bunny! He makes the best of any situation and keeps himself open for love, even if it’s fleeting. I like to hike and cook, so I imagine that Edward and I would do both because he likes that independent, vagabond life. I could make some cowboy beans over a fire, build a little shanty, and we’d philosophize under the stars.

I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:

  1. Favorite sound I love nature sounds—birds singing, leaves blowing in the wind, little animals scurrying. It’s so peaceful and humbling.
  2. Least favorite sound Loud talkers. I cannot stand loud talkers.
  3. Best song ever written Well, I’m going to pick something suggestive because I write erotica, right? So, a song that’s always in my line up is “Physical” by that late, great Olivia Newton John. I fell in love with the Xanadu soundtrack and “Physical” is just a perfect combination of seductive lyrics and music.
  4. Worst song ever written I’d say I’ve always disliked the Carpenters—“Rainy Day and Mondays.” Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
  5. Favorite actor and actress George Clooney is my favorite actor; he’s always very natural, and easy on the eyes. My favorite actress is Kate Winslet. I loved her in Revolutionary Road. She seems very genuine, and I love that she embraces her age—bravo!
  6. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead) I think I’d like to be Queen Elizabeth. Can you imagine the secrets she took to her grave and the things she’s seen? I could take that information and write some great stories.  Plus, a castle, a carriage, corgis, and servants—yes, please!
  7. What turns you on? A great vocabulary and a kind heart.
  8. What turns you off? A person who is narrow minded and unkind or rude.
  9. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) You have a stripper’s body.
  10. What’s your version of a perfect day? My perfect day begins with a snowy morning in a cabin, freshly brewed coffee, and a day completely dedicated to writing. I’d see some sun later for a quick hike, then a nice fire—and more writing!

And now, here’s a little about Stella’s book:

Jenna Craig is a 40-year-old freshly-minted “hot momma” looking for a little love in her post-divorce life. After a night out with her cougar tribe, she wonders whether she’s still got “it”—the double-takes from the college clowns at the bar quickly put her doubts to rest. Though she may be alone, she knows she’ll never be lonely.

Jenna’s newfound confidence is buoyed by some swim club eye candy: Travis the lifeguard. Hot trysts in the locker room leave her wondering if she might want something more. When her naughty, new boy toy introduces her to his friend, Collin, Jenna is engulfed with waves of emotion that she thought she might never feel again. With two younger men vying for her heart, will she choose the perfect guy for right now, or the man who could give her another shot at love?

The experienced Ms. Craig is certain of one thing: She better bring the confidence to pull off the choice of her desire.

“I’m glad we’re friends, and that you think nothing of racing to my house to help me with my man woes, and my panties. But you know what I appreciate most?”

“You appreciate my sarcastic, brutally honest, down-home wit?”

“No, the fact that you don’t judge me or what I do, or don’t do. You’ve never said you think I’m acting like a whore.”

Fielding hugs me and doesn’t let go. Patting me on my back she responds, “I’ll never stoop to calling you a whore because you’re simply acting like a woman with a man’s morals.”

Get your copy here: AMAZON

Stella Grae is an unassuming English professor, copyeditor, and copywriter living in Lexington, Kentucky. She’s the author of the short story “Power Play” that was originally published in the website erotica journal Oysters and Chocolate. In her spare time she enjoys sipping on bourbon, nibbling cheesy grits, and philosophizing about love and sex in her blog, “Bone Up,” which can be found on her website: stellagraeerotica.weebly.com…along with other sexy tidbits.  This is her first erotica novel.

You can connect with Stella here:

Website: https://stellagraeerotica.weebly.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sgraeerotica/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SGraeErotica

AllAuthor: https://stellagraeerotica.allauthor.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/159637845-stella-grae

Email: stellagrae@proton.me

Amazon Central Author Page:



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#Tuesdaytease 2.21.2023 SABLE ( Always a Bridesmaid)

This little gem is up for preorder right now and releases on 5.27.2023, just in time for my birthday. SABLE is book 12 in the ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID series.

Instead of the typical tease for today, I want to show you the book trailer I made the other day when I had an hour to kill waiting for dinner to cook.

Always a bridesmaid… never a bride. It’s the siren song of many a frustrated woman. While they might not be able to compete with 27 Dresses—the hilarious comedy on the subject—each of our heroines has a story to tell about playing second fiddle to the beautiful bride.

Will they ever find their own happily-ever-after? Or, will once again be buying a dress they’ll never wear again?

Welcome to the new multi-author series, Always a Bridesmaid, a fun companion to last year’s wildly successful Last Man Standing series. All books in both series are standalone stories, linked only by subject matter.



Pediatrician Sable Miller is sick and tired of being the go-to, dependable bridesmaid in all her family and friends’ weddings. But her demanding job, the ridiculous hours, and endless family commitments keep her from finding the perfect man. A matchmaking service? Sounds like too much work. Swipe right dating? Not her thing. The bar scene? When was the last time she even had an evening free to go to a bar?

And forget about dating the myriad of on-the-make doctors and residents in her hospital. Besides, workplace romances never work out.

Sable’s options to meet the man of her dreams and start a family are dwindling and time is running out, because she promised herself the next wedding she would attend would be her own.

Kristopher Lee, the Physician’s Assistant assigned to Sable has a crush on his new mentor. But she’s got a hands-off rule when it comes to dating someone she works with. Kris is nothing if not persistent, though. After all, he didn’t survive three tours in the Army without focusing on a goal. And making Sable Miller fall in love with him is his best goal yet.


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#TuesdayTease SABLE: ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID #preorder

So last year a group of authors got together and penned the LAST MAN STANDING SERIES, of which my guy was CHANCE. This year we’re taking on the ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID gals.

My addition is SABLE, Chance’s little sister.

Pediatrician Sable Miller is sick and tired of being the go-to, dependable bridesmaid in all her family and friends’ weddings. But her demanding job, the ridiculous hours, and endless family commitments keep her from finding the perfect man. A matchmaking service? Sounds like too much work. Swipe right dating? Not her thing. The bar scene? When was the last time she even had an evening free to go to a bar?

And forget about dating the myriad of on-the-make doctors and residents in her hospital. Besides, workplace romances never work out.

Sable’s options to meet the man of her dreams and start a family are dwindling and time is running out, because she promised herself the next wedding she would attend would be her own.

Kristopher Lee, the Physician’s Assistant assigned to Sable has a crush on his new mentor. But she’s got a hands-off rule when it comes to dating someone she works with. Kris is nothing if not persistent, though. After all, he didn’t survive three tours in the Army without focusing on a goal. And making Sable Miller fall in love with him is his best goal yet.

“I tried to introduce her to a guy from my office last month,” Sable’s cousin Moira said. “Single and a stockbroker. I invited him to dinner, Sable too. She called me at the last minute and canceled, saying she had to cover at the hospital. I swear all she does is work.”

“This is the sixth family wedding in a row where she’s been a bridesmaid,” Aunt Mary declared. “Goodness knows how many times she’s stood up for her friends.”

“Does she even have friends?” Teresa asked. “If all she ever does is work, how can she?”

That hurt.

Sable had a score of college and medical school friends she got together with whenever she could. And yes, she’d been an attendant at all their weddings. So what?

Come to think of it, they were all married now, too. She was the lone single on not only the family front, but in the friendship ring as well.

A sudden burst of sadness overtook her.

“That old saw always a bridesmaid never a bride fits our girl to a tee,” Aunt Mary said. She blew out a breath. “I’m worried for her. You know if her mother were still alive she’d be trying to find someone for Sable just as we are. It’s our duty as her sisters to make sure her daughter is happy and settled down.”

“I just can’t understand why some worthy man hasn’t already swept her off her feet. Our girl is beautiful. Stunning, even. Smart and savvy. And so kind heart hearted and warm,” Teresa said. “You’d think a dedicated pediatrician who looks like she does would be snatched up in a heartbeat. What’s wrong with men?”

A question Sable had asked herself numerous times over the years. She’d had two long-term relationships since graduating college and dated when she could. She’d thought she’d be married by now with kids, a dog, and that house in the suburbs that fulfilled the American dream. Unfortunately, the men she’d been involved with hadn’t liked coming in second to her career. With so much time spent studying, then her on-call rotations while in residency, the relationships had fizzled out due to lack of available time to spend together. One guy had even accused her of being married to her job.

Sable had to consider he wasn’t wrong.

“Maybe it’s not the men,” Moira offered. “Maybe Sable’s too picky and no one can live up to her expectations.”

Well that’s wrong, Cuz.

The only expectations Sable had at this point were the man not be abusive, have a pulse, and tolerated her crazy work schedule without an argument.

“Maybe,” Teresa said. “At this rate, Mary’s right and Sable’s always going to be a bridesmaid and never a bride. I’d hate to see her turn into an old maid with nothing to show for her life but a career.” Sable could hear the swish of her hair as the woman shook her head.

“And sitting alone in an apartment every night with just a herd of cats for company.”

Sable blanched at the picture forming in her head.

The trio left a moment later.

Sable blinked back the tears swirling in her eyes. Her aunt’s words hurt—more because they were true.

What to do about it was the question. Meeting available men was difficult at best. The men she met in her practice all had children who were her patients, and wives. Picking up a man in a bar was something she would never do even if faced with that lifetime of loneliness and feline companionship. She’d tried a few dating apps but the men she’d met hadn’t been what she’d been looking for. They fell into two categories once she told them she was a physician. Half were intimidated by her brain and earning potential, the other fifty percent got naughty ideas along the let’s play doctor route.

No thank you.

The notion to succumb to her aunt’s desires and meet some of the men they had lined up for her was fast becoming something she needed to consider.

One thing she was certain of as she left the stall and glanced at her visage in the mirror over the sinks. The next time she attended a family or friend wedding it was going to be her own. She was sick of always being a bridesmaid.  She wanted top billing and she was going to do whatever she had to in order to ensure it.

If only she could figure out how to do so without involving her busybody family.

Releasing into the world on Ma7 17 just in time for my birthday, lol. You can preorder your copy now, here: SABLE

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#goodreadsGiveaway #horror #shortstories

Hey kids- just wanted to let you know that I’ve got a GOODREADS GIVEAWAY going on for my upcoming short story collection DEATH BETWEEN THE PAGES.

I’m giving away 50 KINDLE copies of the book.

You can enter the giveaway here: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

and don’t forget to go to the book listing and mark it as WANT TO READ.

thanks, oodles, and good luck!

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#Tuesdayteaser #teaserTuesday – A Return to Dickens!

Today’s little something extra comes from my upcoming addition to the Dickens Universe, SASHA’S SECRET SANTA, which releases into the Dickens-loving universe on 11.7.2022.

After a terrifying incident derails Sasha Charles’ career and confidence, she moves back to her hometown of Dickens to heal, reorganize, and start over.

The only problem? The paralyzing panic attacks that plague her whenever she thinks about going back to nursing. Sasha is mentally, and emotionally stuck, and has no idea how to move forward.

Steve Caldwell is the new Director of Services at Dickens Memorial Hospital. After witnessing her save the life of a local resident in Dorrit’s Diner, he knows Sasha would be perfect for the new trauma center he’s planning. When she refuses his job offer outright, he sets out to change her mind.

But Sasha has thick, protective walls erected around her so Steve must first break through them. With patience and kindness, he does. As the two grow closer, each begin to have second thoughts on what their futures should look like, until idle, small town gossip threatens to derail their budding relationship.

With the imminent arrival of Christmas, will Steve be able to convince Sasha he has her best interests at heart?



Thinking of her compelled him back to the diner. It was lunchtime after all, and a man had to eat. Especially one who’d skipped breakfast so he could get in a fast run at the gym before starting his work day.

The moment he came through the doors he spotted her. The lunch crowd was brisk, every stool at the counter in use and not one booth empty. Luckily, he was the only one waiting, so when he spotted a couple leaving one of the back booths and Sasha quickly moving to bus it, he shot to it.

“Almost done,” she said without lifting her attention from the task of wiping down the table.

Steve slid out of his coat, tossed it carelessly on the seat, and then settled himself in. When Sasha finished her task she pulled her order book from her back jeans pocket, popped it open and finally made eye contact with him as she said, “What can I get—you.”

It took all of his willpower to stifle the wince from her greeting.

“Hey,” he said, inserting as much warmth into the word as he could.

“What are you doing here?” she asked. It didn’t take a body language expert to read the suspicion and caution galloping across her lovely face. Shoulders squared and locked, back straight as a plank, her entire body looked poised to bolt. Chin raised, eyes squinting, she was the polar opposite of happy to see him.

“Hopefully, getting some lunch,” he said. “I’m starving. I missed breakfast and it’s been a heck of a morning.”

Some of the distrust eased from her shoulders. Some, not all, proven when she asked, “And you just happened to pick my station to sit at?”

He smiled and picked up the menu she’d dropped on the table. “I won’t lie. I hoped I’d be at one of your tables. And as luck would have it…” He lifted his hand in a what-can-you-do gesture. “Here we are.”

Pursing her lips, she shook her head, then glanced down at her order book with a sigh. Pencil poised she asked, “So. What’ll it be?”

After he rattled off his order she left him with the promise to bring his coffee right out.

He watched her move to the counter, place his order, then grab the coffee carafe from the back counter, a cup and saucer with it. She tossed a few creamers onto the saucer and brought everything back to him.

As she filled the cup she avoided any kind of eye contact. Steve figured she was embarrassed about how she’d bolted from him in the store. Should he say something about it? Ask her if she was okay?

Feeling indecisive wasn’t an emotion he usually experienced. In his normal dealings with people, his natural confidence and self-assurance proved beneficial. Not with Sasha, though. He worried anything he might say would have her running away again.

After she’d finished pouring, she placed his cup back down and without looking at him, said, “I’ll bring your order out as soon as it’s ready.”

She moved to another table before he could thank her.

With her other customers she was decidedly different than with him. She smiled; established eye contact; joked. He’d give anything if he could figure out a way to get her to act that way with him.

Hope that whet your holiday book reading interest!! You can preorder the book now, here: AMAZON

just in time to read it or gift it for the holiday season!!

Enjoy your day, peeps ~ Peg

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Photo of the day, day 217


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Photo of the day, day 216

And here’s the rest of the tease….hee hee. Have you preordered CHANCE yet? Let me help you with that:


Chance Miller, divorce lawyer extraordinaire, knows the whole happily ever after dream is an urban myth. He deals with miserable and wedded warring couples every day and swears staying single keeps him sane and happy. His friends and family consider him the last single man standing and fear he’ll never find someone and settle down. But Chance relishes his carefree status and unencumbered lifestyle and has no plans to change anything.

If only his relatives would stop trying to set him up with their version of the perfect woman.

Fredrika Poole already experienced her one great love, and the widow can’t read any future romance in her tea leaves. She’s content to bake, run her business, and care for her daughter.

When Chance meets Freddie and discovers her marriage thoughts run on the same road his do, he realizes she’s the answer to his prayer for keeping the relatives at bay. But the pixie barista has a way of making Chance question everything he’s always thought about love, marriage, and wedded bliss.

Will his last man standing status go unchallenged? Or will Freddie be the one woman he wants…but can never have?

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Photo of the day, day 215

A little teaser of what’s coming soon…

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A July recap…what a month! #writinglife

I don’t usually do recap blogs because I’m always moving forward and looking in my rearview, but July 2022 was a BIG Month for me, so I decided to take a quick look back just so I could bask again in everything wonderful that happened to me, career-wise.

Indulge me, please, lol.

ROMANTICON 2022 was held on July 15th and I had the best time. It’s been a Covid-minute since I was able to attend a book signing and this one was fabulous, so fab, I’m already signed up for next year’s event!

July saw the publication of my first KISS romance book. A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: RICK & AIDEN became KISSapp-worthy, opening my work up to a whole new subculture of romance readers.

Another wonderful honor for A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: RICK was to have it be turned into an interactive romance game under the Chapters App – and again, I now have an entire new fan/reading audience who are romance gamers. Who cool is that??? They changed the title to UNDER HIS PROTECTION and I’ve had a ball playing the game so far. New chapters are uploaded every Sunday morning.

I had a Cover reveal for my upcoming Dickens Holiday romance, SASHA’S SECRET SANTA with NN Light’s Bookheaven this month. It was so exciting introducing this cover because I lovelovelove it so much! Preorder links will go up soon!

And finally, I’ve got a Goodreads Giveaway for THE HAUNTING OF WILTON JUNE that will end tonight at midnight, so if you haven’t entered yet to win one of 5 print copies, here’s your last chance: Goodreads Givaway

Goodness! I can’t even imagine what August will bring. LOL

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#ThursdayTease CHANCE #preorder #Fakedatingromance

I haven’t done one of these in a while and when I woke up I remembered today was Thursday, so…

From my upcoming addition to the LAST MAN STANDING series, CHANCE, dropping on 9.12.2022. Here’s a little something between the h/h to whet your preorder appetites!

“I’m so sorry about this,” Chance told Freddie as he pulled the car into traffic. “Nothing short of coming down with the bubonic plague was going to be a good enough excuse to get out of today. And if I told her I was sick she would have come straight to my apartment to check on me. Probably would have sent her private doc to visit you if we’d said you were afflicted. I’m so sorry,” he said again.

A quick glance across the front of the rental car showed him she wasn’t showing any signs of being angry or put out. In fact, he ventured to think it was the opposite. She looked resigned to it and content.

“Don’t worry about it.” She turned to glance at her daughter who was secured in the booster seat behind them, holding an iPad and with earphones in place. “I wasn’t doing anything today buy baking for tomorrow anyway, and I already got a head start on that this morning.”

“Still, I feel, well, guilty about all this. If I’d never asked you to pretend to be my girlfriend in the first place you wouldn’t have been ambushed into coming along today. My only hope is that after this they’ll leave me, us, alone.”

He remembered saying the same thing after the anniversary party and look how that had backfired.

“It’ll all be fine,” she said. “Where’d you get the car, by the way? I thought you didn’t keep one in the city.”

“I don’t. I rented it for the weekend. It was easier than depending on car service, plus, this way we can leave as soon as we want without having to wait to be picked up.”

Freddie’s laugh filled the cab. “We haven’t even gotten there yet and already you’re planning your escape.”

“It pays to plan ahead,” he muttered.

Why wasn’t she angry? Or at least put out by the situation? He was. In spades.

But saying no to his family wasn’t something he could do. He felt obligated to abide by his aunt’s wishes no matter how much they inconvenienced him.

 Freddie, though, had no obligation to his family. And yet, here she was, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, going to a dinner that was sure to be emotionally trying, her daughter in tow, and acting like it was no big deal at all.

The more he came to know the woman the more intrigued he was by her.

Traffic, unfortunately in his eyes, was sparse and they made it over the bridge to his aunt’s Brooklyn brownstone in record time.

When he found a parking spot on her street he started to feel like some cosmic force was conspiring against him, making everything easy today so he’d be forced to stay longer than he wanted.

Freddie took Dawn out of the booster seat and once the child was on the sidewalk between then, she slipped her tiny hand into his, the other in her mother’s. Something shifted in his chest when he looked down at the little redhead and she smiled up at him.

“Mommy,” she said as they made their way up the stoop steps to his aunt’s front door. “Did you make enough cupcakes for me to have two?”

“We’ll see,” Freddie said. “It depends on how many people are here and how well you do with eating your dinner.”

“I’ll be good. Promise. I just hope they don’t have carrots.” She looked back up at Chance. “I don’t like carrots. I don’t like any orange food.”

He pressed her hand and said, “Me, neither.”


Her wide, blue-eyed wonder, made him laugh. “Can’t stand them.”

“Wow. I thought all grownups ate carrots.”

Chance rang the doorbell. “Not this one.” He took a deep breath when the lock shifted.

“Relax,” Freddie said.


The door was thrown open wide and his aunt pulled him into her arms, then pushed him away to do the same to Freddie. When it was Dawn’s turn to receive the exuberant welcome, he felt her body press against his leg, her little hand still holding tight to his. In a heartbeat, he picked up her so she wouldn’t have to be engulfed in his aunt’s killer grip and said, “It smells great in here. When are we eating?”

He caught Freddie’s dramatic eye roll as she presented the box filled with the cupcakes she’d baked to his aunt.

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