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#SundaySnippet 9.9.18

At this rate, half the book will be on my blog before it’s released into the world! Hahahahah.

Today, a little tidbit concerning family members. Fiona Scallopini is Colleen’s 93 year old, 4 times married and widowed Irish born and bred grandmother. She’s feisty, unfailingly loyal, and loves nothing more than to buck the system. In this scene, she’s being held in the town jail by Chief of Police Lucas Alexander for a traffic violation. Colleen is tasked with bailing her out, something she and her sisters have done before….lots of times before. 

The hallway opened into a kitchen. The decor was circa nineteen sixties, the table an oval of solid oak surrounded by four chairs, one of which was occupied by a leprechaun. A flaming red-headed leprechaun with the bluest eyes ever produced. While the eyes were their birth color, the hair was not. The shade was simply one not found anywhere in nature. I knew it came out of a box—two different boxes, in fact—because Nanny had never been able to find the exact color she desired, so she created her own. All the O’Dowd women resembled our grandmother in coloring and facial structure. My sisters and I could still claim, truthfully, our red hair was from God.

“Nanny, I’m here.”

“Praise the Lord.” She jumped up from the chair and bolted across the room with more speed and vigor than a woman in her nineties should have. “Get me outta here, Number Two. Tilly’s probably having a coronary wondering where I am. I need to get to the home.”

As she spoke, her eyes grazed over Slade and narrowed thoughtfully. “And who might this be?” she asked, pointing her chin in his direction, but addressing me. “Got the look of a legal man about ’im.”

Before Slade could introduce himself, I moved to the other man in the room, one I’d known since birth.

“Lucas, what’s all this about? What’s Nanny done?”

“I’ve done nothin’, child. I’m falsely accused. Police brutality, ’tis. Pure and simple.” Nanny did her best to pull herself up some in height, but even standing on the tops of her toes, she couldn’t achieve more than four foot ten.

“Nanny, please.” I turned back to the chief. “Lucas?”

“It’s what she didn’t do, Coll, that has her sitting here. Her driver’s license expired.”

“Oh, my God, is that all?” I relaxed for the first time since the phone call. “She can just retake the test, then. Her license isn’t too far out of date, is it?”

Lucas looked at Nanny and said, “Do you want to tell her when it expired?”

Nanny’s mouth clamped shut.

“Well?” My gaze bounced between them. “How long ago?”

“Ten years,” Lucas said.

What? “Te-ten? Years?”

Lucas nodded, flicked his gaze to my grandmother and then back to me.

“Obviously, you didn’t know. I wouldn’t have either, but she ran through the stop sign—”

“I did no such t’ing!” Nanny shouted.

Lucas ignored her. “—on Purgatory Place. Pete Bergeron was sitting in the squad and saw her blast through it.”

“Lies! All lies.”

“Nanny, please.” My hand flew to my left eye, bracing it when it started twitching like a meth addict in need of a fix. I turned back to Lucas. “Go on.”

I had to give the man credit. He never lost his composure when Nanny yelled her accusations. He simply waited until she wound down. “Like I said, Pete saw her run the stop and then gave chase.”

“Lights a-blaring, sirens a-blasting like he was chasing a notorious criminal.” Nanny shook her bottle-dyed head, the corners of her lips pulling down to her chin, a click of her tongue echoing with disgust. “The whole of Glory Road saw him barreling down on me like I was Whitey Bulger himself, come back from the grave!”

I ignored her outburst, never correcting her that the famous mobster was still alive and well and living out his days incarcerated.

“When he finally got her to stop,” Lucas continued, “he asked for her license and registration, and where she was speeding off to so fast she blew the stop sign.”

Nanny made a rude noise, crossed her arms in front of her chest, and said, “The man’s a complete askhole.”

“Excuse me?” Lucas’s voice dropped several notches. I imagined criminals wet their pants when he used it on them.

“It’s what she calls people who ask—in her opinion—stupid and pointless questions,” I explained quickly. “Askholes.”

My pulse slowed a little when I saw the ghost of a grin tug at his mouth. “The car’s registered to your dad,” he said after a moment.

I rubbed my eye, then batted it a few times to focus. “Daddy left it for her to use when he and Mom moved. Is the registration expired, too?”

“No. Just her license to operate a vehicle.” He finally turned his full attention back to my grandmother. “What I can’t understand is why you let it go so long, Fiona.”

“Don’t’cha be addressing me as anyt’ing other than Mrs. Scaloppini. You’ve lost the right to use me Christian name, treating me like a criminal as ya are. I used to wipe your snotty nose when your ma brought ya to catechism class. You’ve no cause to be calling me Fiona as if we were friends. We’re not from this moment on and never shall be.”

Nanny Fee provides a great deal of the humor – and angst – for the O’Dowd sisters in my MAtch Made in Heaven series. I just love me a feisty grannie!

DEARLY BELOVED, Book 1 in a Match Made in Heaven,  Coming in November 2018 – I’ll post the pre-order links as soon as I have them!

You can also look for them – and me – here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Contemporary Romance, Dearly Beloved, love, New Hampshire, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Sunday Snippet 9.2.18

I had so much fun posting something from the soon-to-be-released DEARLY BELOVED last Sunday, I figured I do another this week.

Blurb first, so you know what you’re reading ( heehee)

Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in their hometown of Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with her demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she’s starting to feel she may never find her Mr. Right.

Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him that life is better if you’re single and unencumbered. But Slade loves his sister and he’ll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. One thing he doesn’t plan on when he signs the checks is losing his heart to his sister’s smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner.

When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen is forced to choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

And now, a little sumthin’ sumthin:

“You’re early,” a familiar voice said from behind me.

How was it possible for anyone to look so damn good all the time? Slade was leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest. He’d obviously just finished his run, evidenced by the steam gusting off his sweating body. His hair was plastered to his head, the ends spikey with perspiration. A saturated blue T-shirt molded and outlined every curve and bend of muscle in his torso and abdomen.

Every. Single. One.

The sweatpants dropping down his long, long legs rode low on his hips. Like the shirt, they clung to his thick, muscular thighs and did nothing to hide their power and bulging firmness.

Mother of God.

A ball of instant lust bounced through me, and I started to drool—drool! I swallowed, my neck muscles tight and rigid against the movement.

“Game day,” I managed to say. Okay, it was really more of a toad-like croak, but I couldn’t help it. The man turned every fiber of my being, every system in my body, every nerve ending, to the on position.

He smiled and my toes curled up inside my pumps.

“So this is your, what?” He moved toward me, stealthily, predatory, his hands dropping to his sides, flexing and extending his fingers as he walked. His lips lifted a bit. “Game day uniform?”

He stopped right in front of me. The surrounding air went up a good ten degrees around me from the heat sluicing off him, but my body responded as if it had been slapped with an icepack. My nipples pulled to two painful points inside my lace bra, and my skin prickled with goosebumps, precisely the way it had when he’d kissed me right before leaving my house several hours before. My nostrils flared, filled with the fragrance of the autumn woods he’d run through, mixed together with his natural, earthy, manly scent. Desire drenched me.

Slade reached out and pinched the lapel of my suit jacket. “This color is gorgeous on you.” His voice dropped to a sexy, just-out-of-bed timbre that made my knees wobble. “What’s it called?”

“Aub-aubergine. You know? Like eggplant?”

His left eyebrow lifted, and his eyes twinkled with mirth.

“It’s more like an autumn plum, and since Isabella wanted a fall color scheme, I thought this would be a good way to blend in when I’m running around and making sure things go as planned.” I swallowed again. “I don’t like standing out or drawing attention to myself when I’m working. I want people focused on the bride and the groom, so”—I shrugged—“this seemed like the ideal color for blending. So, yeah. Um…aubergine.”

I really needed to get some kind of therapy to correct this nervous babbling Tourette’s.

Slade’s grin turned wicked, his eyes filling with heat. His fingers clenched my lapel and pulled me in closer with a simple tug. My senses were quite completely filled with the very essence of him. “Am I making you nervous?”

“You’re making me insane,” I blurted. Lowering my voice, I added, “Do you know how incredibly hot you are right now, all sweaty and perfect and—” I waved my hand in front of his body, in lieu of finding the right way to describe what he looked like.

Is orgasmalicious a word?

That wicked mouth widened, and I knew exactly how Red Riding Hood felt when the Wolf grinned at her—like she was about to be devoured. Whole.

A breath later, I was.

Slade’s kiss sent an erotic shudder down my spine so powerful, my heart stopped then kicked back in at twice the normal rate. The only part of his body in contact with mine was his mouth, but he had me in a stronghold I couldn’t move out of. Not that I wanted to. Ever.

With innate mastery, his tongue parted my lips and feasted. He cupped my chin to hold me in place and tilted my head back a bit. The angle allowed him full power over the kiss, which I willingly gave up. I couldn’t have fought for control even if I wanted to, which—believe me—I didn’t.

Did I call him a master at the art of the kiss? What’s higher than a master? A prefect? A god? Whatever it was, Slade was so far up the scale, he made his own title.

He kept his body separated from mine, and I instinctively knew it was because I was dressed for the long day ahead of us while he was still in sweaty running clothes and needed a shower. I had an overpowering urge to step into him, wrap my arms around his trim waist, and forget everything. One of us needed to be the stronger person here, and I’m so glad it was Slade because if he’d even shifted a whisper closer to me, I would have put my yearning into action.

All too soon he pulled back. It took me a few moments to open my eyes and focus. When I did, he was grinning down at me again, his head titled to one side and his fists back on his hips.

“Insane, huh?” He shook his head. “Now you know what I feel like every time we’re in the same room and I can’t touch you. Insane describes it perfectly.”

A lump formed in the back of my throat. If I opened my mouth the frog brigade would croak again, so I took a few calming breaths instead.

“Colleen.”

My name had never sounded so sweet. A million tiny fluttering butterflies beat against my spandex-free tummy muscles. There was something hidden in the way he said my name. Something…promising.

Slade shook his head and stared down at the floor for a second, before pulling his gaze back to mine. A long, deep exhale filled with resignation blew passed his crooked grin. “Not the right time,” he murmured, almost more to himself, than to me. “I’ve gotta go grab a shower, get some breakfast. You’ll be around?”

“I’m taking Isabella and the girls to the beauty salon in a bit. As soon as we get back, it’ll be time for her to get dressed and ready.”

Was that regret in his eyes?

“Charity and Kolby will be here, though, if you need anything. Maureen’s available, too. Just ask.”

Slade took a step closer to me again. “I wish this day was over already.” His voice was soft and low, and a firestorm of need flamed low in my belly. “I wish I was back in your bed, this day behind us. I’d be able to take my time with you, knowing I had all the time in world. All the time to make you”—he leaned a little closer, dropped his voice to a caress—“scream my name over and over.”

What would it have cost me to admit to him I wanted that, too? Too much, at the moment. “Don’t say that.” I took his hand in mine. “Don’t wish your sister’s day away. She deserves an entire day filled with wonderful, lifelong memories. Don’t wish it away for her.”

He covered my hand with his free one, sandwiching mine between them. “I’m not. I want Izzy to have her moment, I do. I just want you, too.” A thin line spread between his brows. “I-it’s just…”

“What?” I squeezed his hand. “Tell me.

His breath was deep and if I had to hazard a guess, troubled. With another shake of his head, he said, “Nothing. Sorry. I’m in a mood. I’ve been thinking about potential parental drama. Today is the first time Janelle and my father have seen one another in a while. I’m not anticipating a happy reunion. For me, either.”

Why didn’t I believe seeing his father was the root of his unease?

Before I could probe further, he stepped back. “Listen. I’m gonna go get cleaned up. I know you’re going to be busy all day, but remember your promise.” That penetrating gaze of his seared right thought me. “I’m collecting at the reception, and you’re not gonna worm out of it.”

Like I would? Please. My parents didn’t raise an idiot, just a nervous twitterer. “I always keep my promises,” I told him.

“I’m betting on it.” He kissed my cheek and left me.

Something was up with him, weighing on his mind. While he might be a little anxious about how his father and ex-stepmom would behave was probably true, I’d wager the secret stash of chocolate covered peppermint candies hidden in my office drawer for emotional emergencies, that wasn’t all that was bothering him.

Tentative publication date is November 14, but I’ll be keeping you updated, peeps!

Find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

 

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Sunday Snippet – Dearly Beloved 8.26.18

From my upcoming DEARLY BELOVED, Book 1 in the Match Made in Heaven series.

Chapter One

“9-1-1! Colleen, I’ve got a 9-1-1 in the Bawl Room!”

I cringed at the crisis call blaring through my earpiece. I hated emergency calls, especially when everything was about to start. To pull off the perfect wedding, just like when invading an enemy country during wartime, you have to run on a strict, unbendable time schedule. There was no room for deviation. A 9-1-1 call was the equivalent of a ticking time bomb, set to blow up the whole operation.

“On my way,” I said. “Any bloodshed?”

“None so far,” my assistant Charity Quinlan replied, her small voice breathless with urgency. “But it’s coming. Get here. I don’t know how much longer I can keep them from killing one another.”

I shot from my command post at the back of my hometown church in Heaven, New Hampshire, and sprinted down the long corridor toward the kid’s section, affectionately known as the Bawl Room, which was the staging area for the soon-to-start wedding I was in charge of. The small space was given this moniker because it was where parents of unruly children shuttled their little miscreants when their behavior disrupted the congregation during Mass. My sisters and I had been banished to the room every Sunday of our childhood.

I took a calming breath in front of the closed door—a door that did nothing to muffle raised, angry, and shrill voices—and ran a hand across my quaking abdominal muscles. They’d been throbbing and pulsing like a precision quartz timepiece from the confining, belly-flattening, spandex undergarment I wore to mask the extra eight pounds I’d recently packed on.

I said a silent prayer to St. Gabriel, the patron saint of strength. “Breathe,” I whispered, making it a plea. “Just breathe.”

Placing a broad smile across my face, I pushed through the door and entered into a tempest I regarded as the tenth circle of Hell: ex-wives.

Two lavishly dressed women—one in her fifties, the other ten years younger, and both trying desperately to look in their thirties—stood, dyed stiletto to dyed stiletto, glaring at one another. Both had fisted hands planted on their hips, shoulders hunched, perfectly coiffed heads bent, ready to do battle.

“Who do you think you are?” one screeched at the other. “You’re not her mother. You’re nobody in this wedding, just my ex’s current squeeze of the second, so back the hell off. Now!”

The woman being shrilled at, all six foot of her in icepick heels, leaned forward and pulled her outlined, lipstick-enhanced mouth back into a perfect teeth-baring snarl. She jabbed one of her french-manicured tips at her aggressor and ground out, “I’ve been married to him longer than you were, bitch, and you know it, so who you calling squeeze of the second, because from where I’m standing, you were more like a mistake who got knocked up than a wife any day of the week.”

The elder of the two was set to pounce, aiming for her rival’s perfect camera-ready face so I did a quick little jog and insinuated myself between them.

“Ladies.” My gaze ping-ponged from one to the other. “Please. The wedding is about to begin. We can’t have this kind of behavior.”

“She started it,” the actual mother of the bride, Mary Ann Stively said, pointing at her ex-husband’s current wife. “She says she should go down the aisle after me because she’s married to my loser ex—”

“Who’s the father of the bride,” JoEllen, wife number two, said. She turned her back on wife one and faced me. “You’re the wedding planner, Colleen. You know proper protocol says I should go down the aisle right before the party, since I’m married to the father of the bride. I looked it up, read all about wedding etiquette and procedures.”

“In what? Your current edition from slut-of-the-month book club?” Mary Ann spat.

JoEllen’s eyes slitted under penciled eyebrows standing stationary on her unlined and unmoving forehead, a paralytic effect—I surmised—from years of Botox injections.

“Why, you—” She inched forward and tried to reach by me, but eight years of track in school and four more in college gave me a decided advantage in swiftness. I blocked her, my arms splaying out at my sides so she couldn’t go around me.

My left eye started to twitch—never a good sign—and I knew I had to set this situation to rights. Now. The wedding was scheduled to begin in less than ten minutes.

“Mrs. Stively.” Both women stared at me. “Um, the current Mrs. Stively.”

JoEllen pulled herself up to her towering height and gave her paid-for breasts a good forward thrust. “What?”

“I know you feel you deserve to walk down right before the wedding party—”

“I do.”

“—but I’m sorry. Whatever you’ve read stating that was the correct procession is incorrect. The actual mother of the bride is the one who immediately precedes the party. Unless, of course she’s not present or deceased. Then it would be proper for a stepmother to be the last person down the aisle before the attendants and bride.”

JoEllen slanted a deathly glare at Mary Ann. I swear I could hear her brain running through scenarios on how to commit murder in the next five minutes.

“Now, I need you both to take your places so we can get this wedding started. Stop arguing and let’s go.”

I’d dealt with these two overbearing women many times in the past few months and knew neither would give an inch, or relinquish control, of their own accord. Since they continued to stand rock-still, daggers zipping between them, I did what I always do in situations like this and got physical.

I grabbed the first Mrs. Stively firmly by the forearm and gave her a good yank while motioning to Charity, who’d been cowering behind a pew, to do the same to Stively spouse number two.

Charity, at a spit above five foot, was no match for the lengthy, stilettoed second wife, but what she lacked in height, she more than made up for in determination. With a firm hand draped along JoEllen’s back, Charity began walking, propelling the woman forward.

“Can you believe that bitch?” Mary Ann asked as I escorted her down the long hallway to the back of the church where the procession stood, waiting. I continued to hold her forearm in a grip of steel in the event she planned to escape and go back to punch her replacement.

“Forget JoEllen,” I commanded. “It’s your daughter’s day. Focus on her. You don’t want Annie to remember this day filled with problems or fights. You want her to have the most wonderful memories of her wedding, don’t you?”

Before she could reply, I steamrolled right over her. “Of course you do. Fighting with JoEllen serves no purpose and will only upset Annie. Take a quick, deep breath if she annoys you again and ignore her. Believe me, you’ll feel better for it.”

I knew I was telling a bald-faced lie.

Mary Ann and JoEllen both wanted to scratch the other’s eyes out, and today’s incident was another in a long line of antagonistic outbreaks since Annie had retained me as her wedding planner. The two Stively wives despised one another for various and obvious reasons. Their only compatible redeeming value was their mutual unconditional love for the bride-to-be.

In the vestibule, the melodic strings of a Mozart concerto serenaded the waiting congregation.

Annie Stively’s parents had spared no expense on their cherished only daughter. From a twenty-thousand-dollar, custom-made, hand-stitched, lace and satin gown complete with a five-thousand-dollar tiara and train, to the five-hundred-dollar-an-hour stretch limousine waiting outside the church entrance, prepared to whisk the happy couple off to their reception a mere five minutes away, Dr. and the two Mrs. Stivelys set out to give their little princess everything she desired in a wedding.

With my help, they had.

“Mom? JoEllen? What’s going on?” The bride glanced from her mother to her stepmother, concern creasing her flawless brow.

“A few last-minute details we needed to go over,” I answered before either woman could. “They wanted everything to be perfect for you. It’s all settled now, correct, ladies?” With an arched and determined glare, I all but dared them to contradict me.

Both women, with uncharacteristic placidity, nodded.

“Good. Now, let’s get you all lined up, and we can get this beautiful girl married.”

I went into command mode, corralled the wedding party into their appropriate places, and gave the all-start command. “Let’s roll.”

Once the bridal party, including the two warring Mrs. Stivelys, were all seated, the soft, haunting strings of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D drifted through the air.

I stood behind one door, Charity the other. On my count, we threw open the doors wide at the same time. A collective wave of sighs blew through the church as the first view of the stunning bride broke through. While she floated up the aisle on her father’s arm, my photographer darted ahead of them, filming, as they slowly made their way to the altar. Charity and I closed the doors behind us and slipped into the last pew to watch the wedding.

At the front of the church, Dr. Stively stopped, lifted his daughter’s veil, and then kissed her cheek. I could hear dueling sniffling from the front pew, Mom and Stepmother each trying to outdo the other in the waterworks department. Once Dr. Stively took his seat between his first and second wives, the congregation sat as a unit.

“Did you check to make sure the best man has the rings?” I asked Charity, looking toward the stable of tuxedoed ushers at the altar. The groom’s younger brother looked as if last night’s bachelor party had been a rousing success, evidenced by the pasty tinge to his skin, the railroad track redness covering the whites of his eyes, and the none-too-subtle tremor in his hands.

“He does,” Charity replied.

“Did Devon bring the basket with the bird seed?”

“He did.”

Off to one side of the altar, I spied my trusty and talented photographer being as unobtrusive as possible while he captured the happy event through his lens.

“Kolby has everything he needs?”

“He does.”

When I slanted her a look, Charity grinned. “And before you ask, I already called the inn. Everything is ready. The champagne is chilling, and the band is warming up. Maureen told me to tell you not to fret. She’s got it all covered. No worries.”

Two of the most overused and least accurate words in the English language, especially when speaking about a wedding.

With as deep a breath as I could manage (I really was going to throw in the towel with this pseudo-girdle and cut back on the carbs instead), I sat back and watched the ceremony I’d put together, and prayed the rest of the day would go on without any further problems or arguments between warring family factions.

What’s that old saying? Man makes plans and God laughs?

Yeah…the story of my life.

 

DEARLY BELOVED, coming November, 2018. Buy links coming soon!

 

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