Tag Archives: #TeaserTuesday

#Teasertuesday 11.24.2020 BAKED WITH LOVE ( A Match Made in Heaven, bk 3)

Since BAKED WITH LOVE is due out in less then 3 week ( I’m not freaking out.I’m not!) I figured a teaser from the book would be good for today. This scene is Maureen’s first indication Lucas may feel something for her more than friendship…

“What were the three of you talking about?” I asked Lucas once the others left the kitchen.

Before answering me, he closed the dishwasher and wiped his hands on a dishtowel.

He leaned back across the sink ledge and crossed his arms over his chest. The material on his dress shirt pulled against the bulk of his biceps, and my mouth went dry as unprocessed baking flour.

“Mac’s bachelor party. Cathy said she’s busy next weekend finalizing some wedding stuff with Colleen, so they’re both free. We’re gonna do something Saturday night.”

“What? Heaven’s not exactly the place where three guys can run amuck as a last hurrah to bachelorhood. Not that you’d ever run amuck, but still.”

His right eyebrow rose on his forehead. “Run amuck?”

I shrugged. “You know what I mean.”

When he dropped his chin to his chest, I got the distinct impression he was laughing at me and didn’t want me to see. When he shook his head, I was certain of it.

“I should pay you to help Robert with his SAT prep. Amuck. Good word.”

“And accurate. So, what are your plans? Getting out of town for the night? Driving into Concord or Manchester? Hitting a few bars and drinking your weight in beer?”

He angled his head to one side as he regarded me through half-closed eyes. His entire stance as he leaned against the sink, arms folded, ankles crossed and pushed out in front of him, radiated a calm, cool, and disinterested façade. I knew he was anything but. Lucas Alexander was never so focused, so intense, or so stealthy as when he appeared exactly the opposite.

His ability to remain calm and unreadable was another facet of his personality I loved.

“Why do you want to know?” he asked me. “What are you worried about?”

“I’m not worried.”

“You say one thing, but your body language says another.”

I rolled my eyes. “My body language says nothing. There’s no reason for me to be worried about anything since Slade and Mac are going to be with you, Lucas. Whatever you wind up doing, I know they’ll be safe. I’m asking because, like my sisters are fond of saying, I inherited Nanny’s nosy gene.”

His brows pulled together between his eyes and that head tilt shifted.

“What do you mean you’re not worried because they’ll be with me? And what did that crack about me never running amuck mean? Jesus.” He unfurled his arms and swiped his hands through his hair at the temples. “I’ve said amuck more times than I’ve ever said it in my life.”

“That’s a dumb question, since you’re the chief of police.” I held my hands up at my sides. “You’re the most responsible and trustworthy human being I know. You don’t do anything that crosses a line either morally, ethically, or legally. I’ve seen you drunk once in your life after Danny’s funeral, and you deserved to be since you’d just lost your best friend. You’re dependable, Lucas. Completely.”

It was a wonder he didn’t get a headache from the way the skin over his forehead puckered inward.

“Dependable and trustworthy? You make me sound like a cub scout, or an unemotional robot with a stick up his ass. Dull and boring. Like I don’t know how to have a good time and never do.”

“I’m sure you do, but I’m also sure since you became chief, you’re more aware than ever of the small minds and big mouths living in this town. You can’t be seen doing anything”—I shook my head again— “questionable or unseemly, like getting drunk in public at a bachelor party. You need to be on the safe side of gossip at all times. And you are. It’s what makes you such a good leader.”

“Unseemly? Lord, Maureen. Now you’re making me sound like a modern version of Josiah Heaven. You gonna accuse me of having a God complex next?”

How the heck had this conversation veered into him thinking I was comparing him to our town founder?

“What?” I fisted my hands on my hips, well and truly confused and getting irritated by the second. “Weren’t you the one who told my sister in that very breezeway”—I pointed behind me—“not more than two hours ago you weren’t going to condone anything illegal because, quote, you’re the chief of police, unquote? I don’t think I imagined it, Lucas.”

It was as if he hadn’t heard me.

“I’m not old and tired and worn out yet, you know.” He started pacing back and forth, his hands slung in his trouser pockets.

“I never said you were. I—”

“I’ve got responsibilities to this town and its citizens, Maureen. I’m on call twenty-four hours a day for the city. Never a day to myself, never a night to call my own. Christ. I had to promise Pete Bergeron three weekends in a row off in order to be free Saturday night.”

“Lucas, what—”

“I haven’t had a vacation in six years. In addition, I take care of a man who wants nothing more than to die and finds it amusing to take pot shots at my son.”

For the first time in my memory, Lucas’s voice rose. He was always the proverbial calm during a crisis, the one everyone gravitated to for guidance, the man people regarded as a natural leader.

It dawned on me he wasn’t simply tired, but exhausted. And not only physically. The weight of all the responsibilities he carried on those strong, broad shoulders was taking its toll, and he had no one in his life to help shoulder them.

Placing myself straight in front of him, I barred his pacing. I reached out, wrapped a hand around his forearm, and pressed, forcing him to pay attention to me.

He blinked hard a few times, as if coming awake after a deep sleep. The confusion in his eyes worried me.

“Lucas. Stop.”

He focused in on me, then to where I held his arm. When he lifted his gaze back to me, his forehead was furrowed. “Maureen?”

I squeezed his arm again. “Are you okay?”
 He tilted his head to one side while he continued to stare at me for a few beats.
“I’m worried about you,” I told him.

“Worried?”

“Yes. You’re being”—I shrugged then shook my head—“weird. And you’re scaring me.”

He blinked a few times. “You’re worried about me?”

“Yes, dammit.” I stamped my foot, frustrated and getting mad, now. “I care about you, and I’m worried because you’re acting so out of character. What about that is so hard to comprehend?”

I removed my hand from his arm, only to have him grab it back with his own.

“Let go of m—” I stopped dead. One look at the expression on his face and any and all words were forgotten. The confusion reeling in his eyes shifted, cleared, then flew completely to be replaced by a piercing, all consuming…hunger.

Intrigued? I hope so. You can preorder your ecopy here, now: BWL

And if you’d like a PRINT version before the book is released, I’m selling them on my website store for a drastically reduced price, here: STORE

And not to brag ( even though I am) Long and Short Reviews gave BAKED WITH LOVE a BEST BOOK RATING.

Love that!!!

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#teaserTuesday

 

 

From WOKE, my Sleeping Beauty redux….Aurora is thinking of things she…..misses.

 

He reached into his pocket and handed me a business card.

Enright Investments/Management

Kincade Enright, MBA, PFS

“So, you’re a stock broker?”

“No, I’m in personal finance. I manage investments and portfolios for my clients, one of whom wants an original Ainsworth. So,” he lifted his hands in the air.

“Well, I hope you can make your client happy tonight, Mr. Enright, and in doing so, you’ll both be benefiting the women’s center, so I’ll thank you in advance.”

“You’re welcome, and it’s Cade.” He stuck out his hand to shake mine. “And you are?”

My gaze took a quick dip from his grinning face to his outstretched hand. Manners had been ingrained in me from birth, both by my mother and Maeve, so I slid mine into his, ready to give it a perfunctory shake. The moment his fingers wrapped around mine, though, a bolt of lightning flashed between us and paralyzed me to my spot.

His eyes flickered, telling me he’d noticed it, too.

Warmth steeped through me and flowed all the way to my core, heating it like a nuclear coil. His skin was soft and smooth, like he wasn’t used to manual labor, but by no means was he weak. Strength and power surged from his grip. Instinct told me this was a man for whom character, depth, and a strong sense of self were integral parts of his makeup.

All intriguing qualities in a man.

Intriguing, and wildly alluring.

While he stood in front of me, still holding me hand, I realized I was supposed to answer him.

I blinked a few times to try and refocus myself just as I had at the Till, before finding my voice.

“A.J. Callahan. Sorry, I’ve got a lot going on up here”—I pointed to my head with my free hand—“and I’m thinking of fifty things at the same time.” Lame, I know, but I was really caught off guard by his touch.

He pumped my hand once, then let it go. For a hot second I fantasized about pulling it back and maybe even wrapping it around my waist.

“Well, I’ll leave you to them, then. It was nice seeing you. Again.” He grinned.

“Enjoy the auction and the dinner. Bid often and bid high,” I added. “It’s for a worthy cause.”

With a salute, he made his way into the crowded ballroom.

Well, that had been…unexpected. Serendipity or not, both times I’d been in his presence I’d been rendered a bit off kilter.

Before the coma I hadn’t been a nun. Far from it.

I’d dated—and slept with—my fair share of handsome, rich, socially acceptable guys. None of them had ever made me want to spend forever tied to them. They were merely a way to have fun and explore my own sexuality. I couldn’t remember one guy, though, whose simple touch against my skin had caused such a powerful reaction in me.

The five years since I’d woken I’d been concentrating on getting my life back to some normalcy. That meant focusing on me and me alone. While the number of my former friends had dwindled considerably, the new ones I’d made through my charity work and other endeavors I kept at a relative distance. Very few of them knew I was the former Rory Brightwell, party-girl and society scion. I used my mother’s maiden name now as my own and my initials to introduce myself.

I liked A.J. Callahan. A lot. And I didn’t miss the old me too much.

But some things I did miss, like…sex. I hadn’t met anyone recently who gave me a tingle in that department.

Until today.

I glanced down at his card then tucked it into my clutch.

Intrigued? I hope so, hee hee.

Get your copy here: WOKE

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Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

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#tuesdayTeaser 8.4.2020 – WIP

In order to be a real tease(r) I figured I give you a taste of the Christmas book I’m releasing independently this year. It’s in final edits and I don’t have a cover yet, but I finally decided on a title after putting up a poll on my facebook page : MISTLETOE, MOBSTERS, & MOZZARELLA. Just from that you can surmise it’s a RomCom!

Here’s the burb, then the little tease from between the pages:

Finding a body in the freezer of the family deli isn’t the way Madonna San Valentino planned to start her day.

Adding insult to injury, the investigating detective is the one guy she’s never been able to forget. After seven minutes of heaven in the back seat of his car when they were teenagers, Tony Roma skipped town without so much as a thanks for the memory.

Just when Madonna thinks the present situation can’t get any worse, Tony is ordered to go undercover at the deli to ferret out a killer. Forced to work together, she vows to keep their relationship cool and professional. But with the sexy, longing looks he tosses her at every turn, Madonna’s resolve is weakening.

With Christmas drawing closer and Tony’s investigation taking an unexpected turn, Madonna is at her wit’s end. Can she really be falling for him again? And will he wind up leaving her broken hearted and alone like the last time?

Advice for surviving in a big Italian family: Family comes first, last, and always. No excuses.

I sent up a prayer to St. John the Silent in the hope it would keep my father from divulging what Tony had informed us about Chico. I should have saved myself the trouble because with no thought to the promise he’d given the good detective, my father vomited everything up to my uncles.

Christ on the cross, what a mess,” Joey said, rubbing his fingers over his eyebrows.

“I heard’a this piece’a work, Archetti,” Sonny said after sipping his espresso. “Low-level drug scum. Got shanked. Good riddance.”

I was cut short from adding something when my mother blasted into the room.

And that’s not an exaggeration.

Grace Liliana Chicollini San Valentino is a force of nature. There’s really no other way to describe her.

At five foot eight, she towers above all her siblings, leading some in the family to ponder if nonna had done the nasty with the milkman when nonno was off fighting the Fascists. She’d been born and blessed with the northern Italian DNA of fair hair, blue eyes, and light skin, unlike my father’s Sicilian genes, which were dark, dark, and darker. I’d always considered it a crime against nature my brothers all took after my mother while I got the lion’s share of Daddy’s genetic makeup.

At sixty, my mother appeared ten years younger in any light. Nary a line warped her skin, due to the religious rubbing of extra virgin olive oil she applied to her face and neck nightly. When I’d been a little girl and plagued with night terrors, the familiar smell of my mother’s skin while she hugged me, soothed away the fears. It’s probably the reason to this day pizza or pasta dripping in oil still calms my soul.

What it does to my ass is another story entirely.

My mother has miraculously kept the figure she’d been gifted with when she sailed through her teen years, even after birthing six kids. Breasts like a screen siren’s, a tiny waist, and hips built for pregnancy, my mother’s silhouette is a classic hourglass and she still dresses in ways that accentuate her assets. The movie star bombshells of Hollywood’s heyday have nothing on my mama for natural sexiness.

As a teen, being her daughter hadn’t been easy. My brother’s friends all fell in pubescent lust with mama. Standing next to her I paled in the female comparison department and looked more like another of her sons than her darling daughter.

But she had a heart of gold and when she loved you it was for life. That military expression I’ve got your six could have been devised for mama because no matter what stupid things my brothers had done, any trouble they’d gotten into, and even through my turbulent and emotional teen years, she’d always had our backs.

“Louie. Louie,” she shouted as she blew like a sirocco into the room. “I just heard from Frankie about a dead guy at the store. Mi amore! Your heart. Are you okay? You ain’t hurt are ya?”

She flung her fur coat off and it landed on the floor in a heap behind her. Wrapping her arms around my father, who’d stood the moment her worried voice boomed through the back door, she cried, “Are you okay?” She ran her hands over his head, down his shoulders, to his chest, her gaze raking along with her movements, making sure all his parts were intact and he wasn’t spouting arterial blood.

My father, ever calm and controlled, took her hands with his and brought them both to his lips. After he kissed each one he continued to hold them as he told her, “I’m fine, Gracie. I’m okay. It was Donna who found Chico, not me. And he was already dead.”

My mother whipped her head in my direction. With her forehead a mass of furrows and her eyes pinched at the corners, she pulled a hand from my father’s grip and grabbed my arm. “You okay, bambina?”

I squeezed her hand and nodded. Then, without any warning, an unusual need to fall into her arms and cry overcame me. When a sob escaped me full-force, she pulled out of my father’s hold, clicking her tongue on the roof of her mouth, grabbed me, and hauled me against her chest, my nose crushing into her well-supported cleavage.

Her arms were like steel traps and she kept me glued to her body while she rubbed my back and cooed in Italian. A quick whiff of her knock-off L’air du temps combined with a hint of garlic and I closed my eyes as the tears fell.

I’m not gonna lie: as a thirty-four year old, grown-ass woman, nothing made me feel better when I was off-kilter than when my mama held me in her arms. I’m not one iota ashamed or embarrassed to admit it.

As I cleaved to her she asked my father, “You’re sure you’re okay?” He told her he was, then, “Why don’t you take Donna into the kitchen, mi amore? Get her something hot to drink. It’s been a long morning for her.”

My mother nodded then slipped an arm up and around my shoulders. “Come on, bambina. Let the boys talk.”

I allowed her to propel me into the kitchen she’d had remodeled the year before.

“Sit.” She pointed to one of the breakfast bar chairs.

I grabbed a paper napkin from the holder on the marble topped counter, did as she commanded and sat, then swiped at my wet eyes.

This is mama’s domain. Daddy may run a successful deli and is an amazing cook in his own right, but Mama rules the kitchen in our house. When nonna was alive she could be very stingy with any kind of praise, but she always complimented my mother on her cooking skills, honed—of course—at nonna’s knee.

Moving with the finesse of one who knows where every single item is to be found in her world, Mama filled the teakettle then put it on the ceramic-topped stove to boil. She didn’t even look when she reached into one of the cupboards and pulled down two porcelain cups with one hand, the other disappearing into one of the pottery containers on the counter that held the teabags.

I sat, silent, watching her move with efficiency from one task to the other, and marveled as I’d done my entire life at what a dichotomy she was. While she had the body of a pampered goddess and could cook like one of the world’s finest Italian chefs, she wasn’t – what my Uncle Sonny often remarked – the sharpest tool in the drawer. I’d always thought this was mean, but in reality, it was God’s truth. My mother wasn’t a member of Mensa – not even close—and on any given day she was known to pop out with things that made most of us cringe or she’d ask a question a bit too intrusive for the person being asked. She had a habit of saying exactly what came to the front of her mind at any given moment with no regard to filtering it. This was one of the reasons my father never let her work in the deli. She couldn’t be trusted around the customers to self-censor. But, despite this one flaw, he adored her, as did I.

She reached into the cabinet under the sink and grabbed the bottle of brandy she kept there for emergencies. When my nonna had been alive, the bottle had gotten a great deal of use, especially after one of her visits. Mama poured way more than a shot-glass full into my teacup after adding the boiling water. She let it steep for less than a minute then handed it to me.

“Drink this. And then tell me everything ‘cause I know your daddy won’t. He’ll gloss over details thinking he’s protecting me.” She waved a hand in the air with a dismissive flick.

Intrigued? More to come when I have a cover, but I’m thinking an October release. I’ll let ya know.

Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

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#teasertuesday 7.14.2020

I’m on track to get my first edits back today for the third book in my MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN series, BAKED WITH LOVE, so I figured this was a good time to put out a little something from that for today’s Teaser Tuesday.

Book 3 is Maureen’s Story, the inn keeper, baker, youngest sister, and the moral compass of the family.

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.”

Intrigued? Hee hee, me too. Here’s a mockup of the cover. I don’t know what it’s really gonna be yet, but this is one I use while I’m writing.

And did you know that book 2, TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS has some exciting news? Not only is it a finalist in the GRDWA contest in the Long Contemporary category,

But it’s also just been named a 2020 RECOMMENDED READ from AuthorShout

Exciting times, peeps.

Until next time ~ Peg

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#TuesdayTeaser and Ice Cream!

From VANILLA WITH A TWIST one of the One Scoop or Two novellas from The Wild Rose Press

“I can’t pay you in cash,” she said, oblivious to the effect she’d had on him, “but at least let me treat you to anything on the menu. There’s never a wrong time to have ice cream.”

He chuckled.

“How about a free cone every day you’re in town? I’m assuming you’re on vacation?”

His head bobbed once in answer.

“It’s the least I can do for your help, Mr…”

“Deacon. Deacon Withers.” Ingrained manners forced his hand out.

She gazed down at it for a beat, and he wondered at her reluctance. When she finally took his hand, she said, “Tandy Blakemore. Vanilla with a Twist is my shop, and you just helped me fix an ongoing problem and prevent a dispensing disaster. This machine is the only one that does flavor twists.”

“I’m glad I could help. And while a free cone sounds nice—” He cleared his throat, surprising himself with his next words. “—how about you have dinner with me instead?”

Wariness flew back into her eyes. As intriguing as her open smile had been, this hesitant reaction was even more so.

“I’m sorry. I can’t. The store is open until ten. Tourist season, you know?”

“You have to eat sometime.”

She shook her head again. “True, but…sorry. Now, about your ice cream? What flavor did you order?”

He hadn’t met many people who could so summarily dismiss him and still smile while doing so.

“Fudge ripple with chocolate jimmies.” The woman who’d originally waited on him had one all ready to go and handed it to Tandy.

“For services rendered,” Tandy said as she gave it to him. “And with my sincere thanks.”

Enjoy an ice cream on this hot day. Remember, like Tandy says: “There’s never a wrong time for ice cream.”

Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

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#TuesdayTeaser 6.23.2020

So today’s teaser is from the book I currently wrote THE END for on the first draft. It’s a Christmas story and I plan on having it out by October. One of my big Italian family RomComs, this one takes place in NYC ( of course!) in a family deli ( lots of recipes) and has a little dash of mystery/suspense because a murder occurs. The love story revolves around a second chance meeting between the heroine, Madonna ( Donna) and the detective in charge of the investigation, Antonia ( Tony) Roma.

Enjoy! And remember, this is a work in progress. Any spelling or grammar issues are okay for now. They will be dealt with in editing!

Advice for surviving in a big Italian family: Family comes first, last, and always. No excuses.

“You shoulda called me first,” Uncle Sonny declared as he sat down at the dining room table across from my father. Uncle Joey flanked him, nodding. “Now that the cops have taken over we lost our window to figure out what went down last night and to keep a cap on it. Everyone in the neighborhood knows now a guy got dead in your store. That’s bad for business, Louie.” Sonny shook his head, his mouth flattening in a line of rebuke.

“It’s worse for Chico,” I said as I went around the table filling their espresso cups.

Sonny tossed me a squinty-eyed glare. “That goes without saying, little girl, but there’s nothin’ we can do for him now. We gotta concentrate on helping Louie get the deli back open.” To my father he asked, “Roma give you any reason why the kid was capped in your store?”

I sent up a prayer to St. John the Silent in the hope it would keep my father from divulging what Tony had informed us about Chico. I should have saved myself the trouble because with no thought to the promise he’d given the good detective, my father vomited everything up to my uncles.

Christ on the cross, what a mess,” Joey said, rubbing his fingers over his eyebrows.

“I heard’a this piece’a work, Archetti,” Uncle Sonny said after sipping his espresso. “Low-level drug scum. Got shanked. Good riddance.”

I was cut short from adding something when my mother exploded into the room.

And that’s not an exaggeration.

Grace Liliana Chicollini San Valentino is a force of nature. There’s really no other way to describe her.

At five foot eight, she towers above all her siblings, leading some in the family to ponder if Nonna Costanza had done the nasty with the milkman when Nonno was off fighting the Communists. She’d been born and blessed with the northern Italian DNA of fair hair, blue eyes, and light skin, unlike my father’s Sicilian genes, which were dark, dark, and darker. I’d always considered it a crime against nature my brothers all took after my mother while I got the lion’s share of Daddy’s genetic makeup.

At almost sixty, my mother appeared ten years younger in any light. Nary a line warped her skin, due to the religious rubbing of extra virgin olive oil she applied to her face and neck nightly. When I’d been a little girl and plagued with night terrors, the familiar smell of my mother’s skin while she hugged me, soothed away the fears. It’s probably the reason to this day pizza or pasta dripping in oil still calms my soul.

What it does to my ass is another story entirely.

My mother has miraculously kept the figure she’d been gifted with when she sailed through her teen years, even after birthing six kids. Breasts like a screen siren’s, a tiny waist, and hips made for pregnancy, my mother’s silhouette is a classic hourglass and she still dresses in ways that accentuate her assets. Sophia Loren in her heyday had nothing on my mama for sexiness.

As a teen, being her daughter hadn’t been easy. Any guy friends of my brothers  fell in lust in a heartbeat with mama. Standing next to her I paled in the female comparison department and looked more like another of her sons than her darling daughter.

But she had a heart of gold and when she loved you, you knew it was for life. That military expression “I’ve got your six,” could have been devised for mama’s motto because no matter what stupid things my brothers had done, any trouble they’d gotten into, and even through my turbulent and emotional teen years, she’d always had our backs.

“Louie. Louie,” she shouted as she blew like a sirocco into the room. “I just heard from Frankie about a dead guy at the store. Your heart. Are you okay? You ain’t hurt are ya?”

She flung her fur coat off and it landed on the floor in a heap behind her. She wrapped her arms around my father, who’d stood the moment her worried voice blasted through the back door.

“Are you okay?” She ran her hands over his head, down his shoulders, to his chest, her gaze raking along with her movements, making sure all his parts were intact and not spouting arterial blood.

My father, ever calm and controlled, took her hands with his and brought them both to his lips. After he kissed each one he continued to hold them as he told her, “I’m fine, Gracie. I’m okay. It was Donna who found Chico, not me. And he was already dead.”

My mother whipped her head in my direction. Her usually unlined face was pinched as she dragged her gaze down my body. Her forehead was a mass of furrows, her eyes squeezed at the corners. She stretched out a hand and grabbed my arm, the other still held by my father. “You okay, bambina?”

I squeezed her hand and nodded. Then, without any warning, an unusual need to fall into her arms and cry overcame me. When a sob escaped me full-force, she pulled out of my father’s hold, clicking her tongue on the roof of her mouth, grabbed me, and hauled me against her chest, my nose crushing into her well-supported cleavage.

Her arms were like steel traps and she kept me glued to her body while she rubbed my back and cooed in Italian. A quick whiff of her knock-off L’air du temps combined with a hint of garlic and I closed my eyes as the tears fell.

I’m not gonna lie: as a thirty-four year old, grown-ass woman, nothing made me feel better when I was off-kilter than when my mama held me in her arms. I’m not one iota ashamed or embarrassed to admit it.

Hope that brought a  smile to your day.

Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

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#TeaserTuesday 6.9.2020

It’s fun taking a fairy tale and reworking it. That’s what I tried to do in my Limitless book Dirty Damsels, and in my indie book WOKE, which releases into the book reading world on 7.1.2020.

In WOKE, I took the premise of Sleeping Beauty and modernized it. This sleeping beauty isn’t waiting for love’s first kiss to awaken her, though. She’s a modern woman who’s grabbing life by the proverbial reins and forging her future.

In today’s Teaser Tuesday, A.J. explains a little about her life, after waking up.

When I’d first woken from ten years of immobility, the muscles in my legs had given me the most difficulty. I was confined to a wheelchair for the first six months, unable to lift to a standing position without help. When I was upright, my legs were too weak to support me. Sam and his team had worked tirelessly day after day to build my upper body strength to some semblance of normal. Once my arms were stronger and I could lift myself I was able to use a walker on my own to help my legs get back their strength.

More nights that I could stand to remember I’d broken down, frustrated at my lack of progress and in serious pain. Maeve and my mother had brokered no whining, though, reminding me often that I was a fifth generation Brightwell and strength and intestinal fortitude were our bedrocks. Maeve had massaged my aching muscles while my mother had become an expert on nutrition and health management.

My coma had been caused by an allergic reaction to the drugs I’d been given, so I was unable to take any prescribed meds for the almost continual pain. I learned to grit my teeth and work through it with Maeve and mom’s help, and today I was relatively pain free.

There’s something to be said for generational fortitude and grit, I suppose.

Intrigued? The ecopy is on preorder here, now. If you like a print book, for some reason Amazon has made that available already, here.

And because I love PINTEREST so much, WOKE has it’s very own board, here

You might like these other modernized fairy tales as well…

Dirty Damsels

What if Cynderella had a one-night stand with a man named Prince? When I first saw Cynderella all covered in soot in that sexy maid uniform, I knew I wanted to be her Prince.She’s a smart and savvy businesswoman who’s built her cleaning company from the ground up. But now that Dirty Damsels was booming, I’ve been hired to arrange a hostile takeover. But the temptation of having her was too much to ignore… We ended up spending one night together–a night neither of us will forget. Now, I want more. I need more. I want to spend every night, skin-on-skin, with my beautiful Ella. Problem is, when she finds out who I really am, she’ll never forgive me.

It’a A Trust Thing

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.

Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

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#teaserTuesday 4.28.2020

I’m excited about my new May 20, 2020 release of VANILLA WITH A TWIST, so today’s #TT is from that! hee hee. What, exactly, are Deacon’s motives in helping Tandy? Inquiring minds – Tandy’s,  in particular – want to know.

“Darla said these were caught this morning and are the true definition of fresh from the sea. I couldn’t resist. She gave me a sample of their”—he made air quotes with the tips of his fingers—“famous cocktail sauce to go along with it. Is it as renowned as she led me to believe?”

“More than their garlic knots, and that’s saying plenty.” She popped one of the warm and yeasty bread circles into her mouth.

They ate in silence for a few moments. It took everything in her not to devour the food like a pig at the trough, she was so hungry.

“Okay.” Deacon swiped his lips with a paper napkin. “We’ve both had a chance to eat a few bites, so why don’t you go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind.”

“What do you mean?”

He dipped his chin to his chest and regarded her over the top of his sunglasses. It was no wonder he was successful. If she’d had to sit across from him at a negotiation table, she’d have been the first to give in during a contest of wills.

She tried not to roll her eyes but found they had a mind of their own. “It’s just, well…”

He didn’t push, which earned him points for patience, something she was sorely lacking in, even on a good day.

“I’m not used to anyone helping me or”—she pointed at the table with her plastic fork—“feeding me. It’s a little, well, unnerving. I’ve been on my own a long time, taking care of myself, my business, and my son. And then one day, bam, you show up, and suddenly I’m eating lobster twice in a week when I haven’t had it for years, and my falling-apart machinery is being fixed without having to shell out hundreds of bucks I can’t spare. I’ve got a toolbox filled with stuff I could never afford, and my sink doesn’t leak anymore.”

“And those are bad things?”

“They’re unsettling things,” she shot back, her voice rising a notch. Determined not to let annoyance get the better of her, she dragged in a breath and mentally counted to five like she had so many times when she’d lived on her father’s farm. “It’s been my experience that men, er, people don’t go around doing stuff like that for other people they barely know, Deacon. Not without getting something in return. And what I can’t understand, what I can’t fathom, is why you would do what you’ve done for me this past week without the expectation of some kind of compensation. You know I don’t have the funds to pay you, so it makes me wonder what you’re really after.”

Intrigued? You can preorder your copy for just 99cents here: VWAT 

 

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#teaserTuesday

You could have guessed where today’s #TeaserTuesday was coming from before you even clicked on my blog, couldn’t you? hee hee.

Here’s a little snippet of conversation between Ella and Buddy that I love, which is kinda good since I wrote it!

“I wasn’t sure you’d come,” he said when I got to the table. A weird sense of déjà vu crept up my neck as I slid into the booth across from him without touching him. Once I was settled he sat back down

“I debated with myself about whether I should,” I admitted.

The waitress shot over to the table, took my coffee order and left. Silence shifted between us, until I broke it. “How did you find out where I live?”

“Aunt Cal. She was worried when you left so suddenly. When I dropped her off at a cocktail party, she ordered me to make sure you were okay, gave me your address and, well, here we are.”

“Oh.”

You could have sliced the air around us. It was rife and thick with tension, silence, and in my case, worry.

“Ella,” Buddy finally said, on a sigh. He folded his hands on top of the table and a quick, hot flash of them trailing across my naked skin popped into my head. “At least now I know your name.”

My gaze shot to his face, registered the wry, almost shy smile across his lips.

“You knew my name.”

“No, I didn’t. It was only after I woke up the next morning I realized it.”

I frowned. “But you said my name. Twice that I can remember.”

His own eyebrows lifted. “No I didn’t.”

“You called me Cynderella. Once in the penthouse and then at Diablo.”Shock takes many forms on a face. Buddy’s was the classic kind: jaw dropping, mouth falling open, eyes bugging wide with disbelief.

“Your name is Cinderella? For real?”

I get this reaction a lot. “It’s spelled with a “y” but, yes. If you didn’t know it, why did you call me that?”

With a shake of his head, he trailed a hand down his temple to rest on the back of his neck. “Sweetheart, the first time I saw you, you were cleaning the fireplace and your cheek was covered in soot. I wiped it away with my handkerchief. Calling you Cinderella was a joke, said in the moment.”

A little niggle of uneasiness danced in my tummy. “What about at the club?”

His beautiful mouth twitched at the corners. “I wasn’t certain it was you until I got closer. The name just popped out. You never told me your real name. Not once.”

Intrigued? You can preorder your copy here.

here’s the link for the Kindle version: Kindle 

Buy you can also get a print copy here: POD

Costs: KU ( free with subscription)’ KINDLE: 3.99 and POD 12.99

and if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer  made for my uber-talented writing friend, Nancy Fraser

Until Next time ~ Peg

 

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#teasertuesday 5.21.19

So the premise of this Tuesday blog feature was to give you a little insight and previews into books that are coming out, or that I’m writing right now. Today, we’ve got the second category. This is from the second book in my dot com girls series from Limitless. It’s not contracted yet, but hope springs eternal in my house and in my mind! This is the story of Eleanor “Nell” Newbery, a once-upon-a-time heiress, who, through her father’s greed ( think Bernie Madoff) has  tumbled from rich girl to poor. Because of her strong will and business acumen, though, she’s made a success of her moving  and handyman company, Helpful Hunks. Nell’s not a trusting kind of girl – she’s been burned too many times by men who want to date her so they can sell their stories to tabloids. But when she meets Econ professor Charles Churchill at a lecture, for once she decides to toss her distrustful issues aside.

Here’s a little taste – it’s raw so please don’t judge any mistakes yet! This is their first meet, told in Nell’s POV.

A lifetime of innate clumsiness has prevented me from ever wearing anything taller than a tiny kitten heel. A higher heel spelled complications in situations that involved doing anything with my feet and legs in tandem – such as walking. It’s been said by my friends that I can trip standing still. They’re not exaggerating, so today I’d donned a pair of well worn and much loved ballet flats just as a precaution against any movement mishaps. The last thing I wanted to do was fall while I was lecturing. Not in this age of camera phones where my ungainliness could be uploaded and Instagrammed to the world in a matter of seconds.

I should have added walking up stairs to that precaution because three steps away from the second floor landing I slid, stumbled, and slipped. Honesty, who but me could fall up the stairs?

Flailing, my brief case tumbled down behind me and the papers I’d been holding flew around me like confetti in the wind when I dropped them in order to put my arms out and brace myself against face-planting into the marble.

“Shit. Shit. Shit.” I landed with my palms splayed flat on the stair. The slap of my flesh meeting the hard step reverberated around me, and my forearms trembled with the force of the hit. My left shin slammed against the stair tread, the sharp edge of it connecting right under my rounded kneecap. One of my consignment store-bought Kate Spades slid off and plummeted downward, chasing after my briefcase.

For a moment I stood stone still, shocked at the loudness of my hit in the stairwell and the immediate pain filling my hands and knee.

I said a silent prayer of thanks that no one had been a witness to my fall and then took the prayer back when a voice drifted up from below me.

Good Lord. Are you okay?”

Why do people ask such a stupid question? Obviously, I wasn’t. I’d just fallen flat on my face, my papers were strewn about me as if they’d exploded out of a canon and, because this was me of the lousy luck we were talking about, my laptop was probably damaged beyond repair.

Just as I was about to toss the questioner a snarky retort, I felt a hand wind around one of upper arms and haul me up as if I weighed nothing more than a wisp of air.

My dress had three quarter sleeves but even through the cotton the warmth that oozed from the hand heated my skin as if touching it bare.

“Can you stand?” the voice holding me asked.

While the hand oozed with warmth, the voice flowed in a sultry, sensual tone that shot straight to my insides and heated all the parts of me that had been experiencing an arctic frost of late.

Well, a lot more than of late. More like the past decade.

Deep toned and delicately accented like Prince Harry’s, I’d bet cash-money it was English to the core.

“I think so.” With my free hand on the rail, I righted and gingerly placed my unshod foot flat on the stair tread. My knee ached, but I could tell nothing was broken. I was going to be sore tomorrow, though, for sure. And bruised without a doubt. My fair skin always looks like I’ve been in a ten-round prize fight whenever I bang against something.

I lifted my gaze to tell he-of-the-soulful-voice I was okay and the words stuck in the back of my throat.

Concern wrinkled a high brow and the skin at the corners of his eyes. And, goodness, what eyes. As deep and blue as a ripe blueberry on the vine begging to be picked. I’d never seen that color on an actual human before and it was beyond striking. Thick, blond hair tinged with gray at the temples was cut short along the nape. My gaze slid from his gorgeous eyes down to cheeks carved from alabaster and dusted with a salt and pepper stubble that ran down the length of his jaw. When they flitted to his mouth the air stuck in my throat finally broke free in a gasp that echoed around us. Full and luscious, smooth skinned and deep blush in color, they were the most perfect lips imaginable. For a hot second the ache in my hands and knee disappeared to form a totally different kind of ache in my core.

I blinked, shuddered, and teetered a bit when I recognized the alien sensation swimming within me as awareness.

Sexual awareness.

His beautiful lips tugged down at the corners as he stared at me, worry in those compelling eyes. His hand tightened on my arm.

“Steady,” he said in that silky voice.

“I-I’m okay. Really.” I tired to move out of his hold but he wasn’t having it.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Thanks. I’m fine. Well,” I rolled my eyes as he continued to peer at me, “I’m a little banged up and embarrassed, but fine. Really. I fall all the time. Everywhere.”

Geez, Eleanor, shut up, my internal snark instructed.

Mr. Sexy didn’t look all that convinced, but he did let go of my arm.

“It’s true. And now I’m embarrassed and late.” I bent to retrieve the notes that had gone helter-skelter when I stumbled. I didn’t relish going back down the steps to get my briefcase, but I was saved from having to when he did the honors.

I slung the strap over my shoulder after taking it from him. Then he gave me my shoe. I held onto the rail while I slipped it back on.

“Thank you.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

I nodded. “Battered and bruised but I’ll live. Thanks again, but I’ve gotta get going.”

“Where are you heading?”

I blinked, wondering why he asked.

“Room 265. It’s supposed to be right up these stairs.”

He gave me a quick head bob. “It is. Come on, I’ll show you.”

“Oh, no, really. That’s okay. I can find my way. You’ve done enough. I don’t want to make you late for wherever”—I flapped my free hand in the air—“you need to be.”

Those amazing lips twitched at the corners turning his intriguing face into a whole new level of handsome.

“I happen to be going in the same direction, so no problem.”

He held a hand out to indicate we should move up the remaining stairs.

With my papers bundled in one hand, my shoe back in place and my briefcase, thankfully, not emitting sounds of my laptop jiggling in a thousand pieces, I held onto the rail with the other and walked – slowly and cautiously – up the remaining steps while he kept an eye on my progress.

My chaperone, because that’s what he was at this point, kept his stride coupled with mine. At the top of the landing he pulled the corridor door open, held it, and nodded for me to precede him.

It was easy to find my scheduled room because outside it on the wall was a scotch-taped notice indicating my name, the course I was teaching, and the time the class started, which, after a quick glance at my watch, was right now.

“This is me,” I said, placing what I hoped was a normal smile on my face and not a grimace. “Thank you again for your help.”

His gaze shot from the paper on the wall to my face. With his head tilted just a bit to the side, the look he gave me was indecipherable. I couldn’t tell if he was silently laughing at the title of my class, me, or if he was wondering if someone who was as clumsy as I was had personal knowledge and experience with shattering ceilings euphemistic or otherwise.

“You’re welcome, Ms. Newbery.” He pronounced my name as if the second e was missing, the b and the r rolling off his tongue together, and not berry the way people usually did. I have to admit, I liked this pronunciation way better. It sounded…classier, somehow. “Have a good class. And you might want to ice that knee later on just as a precaution.”

With that he nodded again, turned, and then walked down the long hallway away from me.

The back of him was as interesting as the front. Broad, straight shoulders encased in a sport’s coat that dropped effortlessly from shoulder to hip; endlessly long legs wrapped in fitted trousers. He held himself in a manner my mother would have approved of: erect, like a solider but graceful, like a dancer. I could actually picture him in both a uniform holding a rifle and a tuxedo holding…me.

Holy crap.

I stayed in my spot until he opened a door at the end of the corridor and then disappeared inside it without ever glancing back at me.

With a shake of my head to clear it of the wacky thoughts, I opened my own classroom door and entered into what I hoped wouldn’t prove to be one of the nine circles of Hell.

So – that’s it for now. Like I said, this is raw – no editing yet, so don’t be judgey( Hee hee).

If you’re looking for me when I’m not writing new stuff, here’s where I’ll be:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

and please don’t forget I’m participating in the BOOKSWEEPS Sweet and Mild Contemporary Romance Contest until May 29. Enter Here for a chance to win great prizes.

Until next time ~ Peg.

 

 

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