Monday, June 3, 2013

Thank you all for stopping in for our Crimson Romance A Year In Love Blog Hop.

We Crimson sisters had such a fabulous time with the Blog Hop and totally appreciate all who participated, left comments and met some of us you'd never known before. Thank you so much. 

A Year in Love Blog Hop

   The winners of the grand prize $50 gift cards are Veronica Dream and Kathleen D.  Congratulations!

The winner of the rafflecopter drawing for a free ebook of Smitten Image is Mary Schiller. Thank you so much for entering!                             

Here is a short excerpt (the set up for Lily and Daniel's first love scene) from Smitten Image, a futuristic fantasy romance set in 2026 New Chicago where the magnetic pole has switched and magic has gone viral.

The shriek of a door opening made her jump and Daniel stepped down into the light.  Lily watched him pause to gently brush an orchid, leaning to sniff the delicate scent. Straightening, he saw her down the length of the greenhouse. For a moment he just looked at her, then held up the bottle of wine in a gesture of truce.

"Wine or beer?" He asked in a neutral tone. She couldn't tell his mood and her pulse beat faster in her throat.

He wove his way between benches of ripening tomatoes, begonias and mint to set the bottles on a nearby worktable before flopping down in the chair beside her. Lily pointed at the wine, which he uncorked.

"I don't need a glass," she snatched the bottle and tipped a mouthful down her throat. Her eyes on his were defiant and wary. "I'm primed for a night of oblivious debauchery."

Daniel raised a quizzical eyebrow and twisting the cap off a beer, clinked it to her bottle.  "Then here's to a night of dissipation.  And other utterly stupid things-"

"You always do this, Daniel, pick up a conversation where we left off. Even if it's days later. I'm not keen on continuing this one."

"How can I turn a blind eye on you, young Nila, and- let me guess- a love potion?"

"So what? I need a lecture from you since now I attract men like dogs to a training whistle? I'll just say it. You are not responsible for destroying what was a perfect friendship."

"I should hope not," he responded. "And let me just say that I've wanted to kiss you since the day you knocked on my door asking for an apartment." His gaze was confrontational.

 Lily sat forward. "Then the potion isn't affecting you?"


 “Good." Lily took another swig of wine. "So forget the kiss and stay friends?"

He hooked an ankle around her chair to drag it closer to his. "I don't happen to think kissing ruins a friendship. And I'm pretty sure someone who snogs her cousin hasn't the right to judge-"

"Like you've never humiliated yourself."

 He grinned, "I kissed you, didn't I? It was all right but might have been more inspiring if you'd participated."

She laughed, gave his chair a kick. "You're wacked."

They sat in silence for a while, Daniel sipping his beer and plucking at the label while Lily slogged back wine like it was flavored water. His face, caught in the mellow light of the grow lamp, was a captivating blend of mauve and indigo shadows. She wished she could paint him just this way, all softened angles and sweet curves-

"So, Lil. Tell me what happened in your apartment last night?"

 "Last night?" She scowled. "This day has been endless, I don't remember last night."

 "You cleaned up a hell of a lot of paint."

 He saw the color fade from her cheeks, watched lines deepen around her lovely mouth. She sent him an apologetic glance louder than words that said she wished she could tell him everything.

Draining his beer, Daniel set the bottle on the floor and reached over to grab hold of her legs and pull them up on his lap. He watched her eyes go drowsy as he slipped off her shoes and began to rub his thumbs over the arches of her feet. Discovering her toes cold to the touch, he tucked them inside his shirt against his warm belly.

"Can you remember the last time you ate, Lily? Because you're knocking that wine back pretty fast on what I'm guessing is an empty stomach."

 "Have you forgotten I'm headed for drunk? And I think I had lunch.  Maybe."

 "Will you stay put if I run to the deli for sandwiches?"

"Will you get me a Reuben?"

 He frowned. "You only eat Reuben's when you're depressed."

She dug her toes into his stomach so hard he flinched. "It doesn't take a psychic to see I'm depressed, Daniel.  Just like it doesn't take a genius to figure out you inherited your grandmother's gift.  You're a  Reader too, aren't you? I've seen how you carefully and oh-so-casually keep your distance from people."

Anger flitted across his face and was gone. "I don't casually do anything. And you aren't one to talk about keeping your distance."

 She leaned forward, eyes outraged. "How can you justify never sharing something this big with me? A telepath... Christ, Daniel, you must know all there is to know about me."

"I don't snoop-"

 "Or maybe our friendship is about keeping you safe?" She sneered. "I mean, who better to hide behind than a friend who's thoughts and emotions flit about like soap bubbles? And being a woman," she smiled and skimmed her heel up the inside of his thigh, "I can offer much more in the way of friendship than Gradyn Spencer can."

 Brows thunderous, he flung her feet off his lap. "Yeah, but you won't.  You're afraid to offer anything that's real, Lily."

"What's that supposed to mean?"  Her eyes shot hostile sparks at him.

Daniel leaned back in his chair.  "That our friendship has always been defined in your terms, not mine.  And don't think I won't kiss you again to up the stakes, Lily."

"Well," she pretended a yawn. "I'd rather be asleep than kiss you."

In one quick move, Daniel's had his hands on her waist lifting her out of the chair and onto the bench.  Fire blazed in his eyes.  "Is that so?"

Fire in her belly, she glared up at him, "Absolutely."  

Check out an original short story written in round-robin form by seven Crimson Romance authors! 

Chapter 1- by Amber T. Smith
Chapter 2- by Peggy Bird

And here's Chapter Three:

Holding Ari, the poodle, for observation overnight proved a distraction. In more ways than one. The dog would not stop pacing the kennel and whining a mournful cry. And Storm could not stop thinking about Blake, new handyman extraordinaire, after she hadn’t bothered to think through having him working around her place. Invading her very private, coveted space. And she needed space. And peace.

The nightmares had returned.

Storm reached for Ari, probing gentle fingers over the poodle’s abdomen, hips and legs. The swelling had diminished but the little dog still seemed distressed. “Hey, little girl, I’d rather not sedate you. What’s going on?” The poodle pressed close to her warmth and shuddered another whine.

“Homesick, huh? Should have known, a girl just can’t stay away from a hot guy like your guy.”

Storm had no trouble driving the route back to the small ranch house where Blake lived. She knew the house, it had been abandoned for years. As kids, she and her friends would pepper the windows with rocks, thrilled at the sound of shattering glass. But that was before… now as she turned down the drive, a shiver wracked her. She still could not look directly at the barn looming on the back of the lot. Even after all these years.

On the seat beside her, safe in a crate, Ari went berserk, yapping and spinning in circles with excitement. The poodle knew she was home. Storm saw the warmly lit windows, the fresh coat of paint on the house and heard music. She opened the truck door and listened to the sounds of a guitar playing melancholy riffs, pausing, plucking a minor set of notes that sent a quiver of loneliness down her spine. And Ari barked, a joyous shout that silenced the sad guitar.

Blake came out on the porch. Storm felt less, well, lustful, now his gorgeous chest was covered by a t-shirt and those long, sexy legs were encased in levis worn at the knees. He still wore no shoes. Her toes curled at the sight of his, naked.

“She was homesick,” Storm said. At the same time, Blake said, “I missed you, little girl” and reached for the poodle. Ari scrambled up his chest to wrap her body around his neck like a scarf, pink tongue bathing his face.

“True love if I’ve ever seen it.” Storm said and felt a blush heat her cheeks.

A deep sorrow flashed cross Blake’s handsome face, tightening his mouth. “It was,” he said, then, “Dammit, Ari, that’s my ear you’re chewing!” He grinned at Storm from under the wriggling dog. ‘It is, I mean. True love. Obviously. I wouldn’t let just anyone chew my ear.”

Heat fired Storm’s cheeks again. She backed down the steps to hide her blush. “Well,” she said to gain composure, “as her vet, I recommend as much chewing as you both can handle tonight. She’s going to be fine.”

Blake laughed, a spontaneous, delighted sound that shot a thrill straight to her heart. “Told you she was. Wanna come in for some coffee, Doc?”

She shook her head.

“C’mon. Truly, I don’t bite.” Blake grinned again, held the door open for her with one hand while holding the dog in place with his other. “At least not without permission,” Storm heard him murmur as she passed him on her way into the house.

“Wow!” She looked around, flushed to the core and pretending she hadn’t heard. “You have done wonders with this place. This is reference enough of your skill if I hadn’t already hired you to work on my house. I love the wainscoting. Pine?”

“Mmmm.” Blake lifted Ari from around his neck, pointed her at the doggie bed sitting near a woodstove. The poodle scuttled over to search out the treat.

Blake poured them each a mug of coffee, fresh brewed, Storm’s nose told her. She sighed, felt the day’s tension leave her shoulders. He took a carton of cream from the fridge and placed it on the kitchen table next to a delicately beautiful sugar bowl. She reached to touch the bowl, saw his face shadowed again, and drew her hand back.

“I’m sorry,” Storm said. “It’s just so lovely.”

“Yes.” Blake pulled out a chair for her and took one for himself. “Everything about my wife was lovely. She died. Last year.”

“I am so sorry. The song you were playing…”

Blake glanced at her and away. “Hers too. And the guitar. And Ari, for that matter.” He looked Storm full in the face, pain around his eyes. “I’m still a broken man, Storm. Otherwise—“

“Yeah.” She ducked her head from his warm gaze and spun her cup on the tablecloth. “Me, too.”

“Alright then,” Blake flashed his devastating grin again. “Enough said.”

They talked of other things, movies they’d seen, books they’d read, the oddest animal Storm had ever treated as a vet, the worst job Blake had ever agreed to do. And began to relax with each other. As Storm drove out of the drive an hour later, she felt… good. Normal, sort of. And was glad she hadn’t asked him if he’d found what was in the barn. She let the night settle around her, felt a simple contentment in the glow of the headlights, the familiar rattle of her truck. And for a moment she wasn’t afraid, felt none of the dread that constantly haunted her and woke her screaming from nightmares.

Something large and fast dashed suddenly through her headlights. Storm slammed on the brakes. Not again! This time she did not feel the thud of her truck hitting another animal. She did hear the squeal of an animal in pain and was out of the truck and running across the ditch in seconds. A mare had run into a partially downed fence and was fighting with everything she had against a mass of barbed wire tangling around her legs.

“Whoa, girl, easy, girl.” Storm crooned, approaching the thrashing horse with her hands out, voice calm and soothing.

The mare stopped struggling and stood, her entire body trembling. Her chest heaved. She snorted, half crouched. Storm laid a soft hand on her shoulder. The mare shuddered, but stayed, barbs tearing her legs, blood already pooling on her hooves.

“Damn, damn and damn.” Storm swore softly at the damage. “Hold on, girl. I’ll be back.”

Storm sprinted back to her truck for the gloves and wire cutters she always kept under the seat. As she returned, the mare began to fight the wire again.

“Whoa! Stand!’” Storm commanded, then turned her voice honeyed and warm. The horse quieted slowly, still edgy to fly, nostrils flared and huffing gusts of air. Storm could see the white of a wild eye in the dark. She talked, clipped a strand of wire, stepped closer, ran her hands over the silken hide, quiet, serene. And the mare stood.

Storm bent to snip the wire around a hind leg. The mare twitched, jerking her leg but did not fight. Storm cleared away another section of wire, easing the barbs from the tender flesh. As if sensing freedom near, the mare reared, spun and knocked Storm to the ground with her hind quarters. Then, with a rapid pounding of hooves, the horse was gone. So were the wire cutters, lost in the dark grass. And Storm lay bound in a snare of barbed wire… just like before.

She screamed and fought, like she did before. She strained every muscle like she did before; ripping her hands to shreds as the barbs tore her skin, panic crushing her chest, hysteria rising in her throat. Pain. Blood flowing warm over her chilled skin. She smelled her own fear, sharp and feral. Just like before… No dark hell of a barn this time. No bright lights seen through the broken boards of a roof.

Except… Storm screamed again, forcing herself into the present. And saw lights in the sky above her, blinking and flaring as if in distress.

Read Chapter 4 ->

Chapter 5- by Becky Flade
Chapter 6- by Irene Preston
Chapter 7- by Liv Rancourt

Pick a Chapter:

1 | 2 |3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

And feel free to visit these blogs in the future. There is always something new to read, discover, make you laugh, tempt you to buy! Romance rules, especially in the summer!!

Sharon Clare
Lola Karns
Leslie P. Garcia
Becky Lower
Amber T. Smith
Nancy Loyan
Carol Ritten Smith
Denyse Cohen
Becky Flade
Lynn Crandall
Lynn Cahoon
Juli Page Morgan
Morgan O'Neill
Katie Kenyhercz
Irene Preston
Pam B. Morris
Andrea R. Cooper
Peggy Bird
Nancy C. Weeks
Danica Winters
Liv Rancourt
Amanda L.V. Shalaby
Barbara Barrett
Melinda Dozier

We Crimson Authors are a close knit group. We keep in touch, laugh together a lot and give each other support in any way possible. So a mighty thanks to you all for stopping in to comment and join our happy band of sisters. Please stay in touch and please, keep the stories in your heartttalive!