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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 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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It’s #Menopause Tuesday….

Another Tuesday, another posting about Menopause. This one’s a …trip. Stop by. See why. Here’s the link: menopause

 

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