A Rough Year

Creative writing is like taking flight.

Sometimes in life, things assail people that catch them completely off guard.  This year has seen some of these road blocks in this writer’s life.  Reality is a rough place to reside when you face the ugly side of our existence on earth.

I wish I could tell you the answer for me was to escape into writing.  But dealing with health issues and denial of your own mortality overrode my creative nature.  Sorry, but that’s truth.  Does that make me weak?  I do not have the answer to that one.  Today I opened my story file to work on the tale of a witch with PTSD in love with an empath kidnapped by a narcissistic demon.  The contents could mirror my mental state at this point.

The good news is I am closing in on the end of the story, and I am sure of one thing.  Life goes on.  I will survive.  I will not make promises.  Everyone has the promise to offer, so I will not compete.  Instead, I will seek the creativity to heal my battered soul.  The story will end when it is time.

For those of you who have patiently waited, here is an excerpt of my latest work in progress, Beyond The Veil. Thank you for your continued support.

Rockets whistled overhead.  Gunfire erupted all around Logan’s unit.  He blinked away the vision of Luke’s lifeless body lying in a pool of blood.  “Gotta stay here.  Gotta focus.  Just a vision.  Nothing more.”  Logan raked fingers through his hair.  Snarling at the noise, he crouched low.  The feel of his mind slipping from reality made his breath come in quick pants.  Gas fumes and burning rubber assailed his senses.  “Gotta get out of here.”  Logan closed his eyes and covered his head with his fists.

The sound of a chopper sitting down reminded him he had to evacuate.  Sweat popped out as he took a couple of steps toward the door.  There was not the time for the sense of dread, which enveloped him.  Still, the image of another person standing behind Luke frazzled his nerves.  Logan cursed low under his breath.  The sense of De Ja Vu whirled in his head.  He stumbled before clutching the doorframe.

He had struggled with the image ever since he returned from the ‘sandbox’.  Figuring it was a figment of a battle weary brain or some psychotic meltdown did not stop Luke’s form from popping up at the worst times, like now.  He could not see ghosts now – not now.  Shaking out the kinks, Logan forced one foot in front of the other.  “Stay in the present,” he murmured.  Willing away the thoughts, Logan forced his brain to think of Aubrie.  She was safe and out of harm’s way.  The crystals he had given Gus to use would keep Aubrie safe until he could stop this disaster from happening.  Her alter ego; Valcura was going to be pissed.  Logan grinned at the image of her flying off the handle and gathering a head of steam to dump on his ass when he returned.  A quick prick of guilt reminded him of the trick he had used to keep her out of the action.  So what if she was pissed at him for holding her hostage until he could eliminate Absol and his band of merry warriors.  The eye roll brought back the headache.  Tension gripped his neck.

“Time to rock and roll, bro.”

Logan wiped away the dirt.  The voice reminded him of Luke.  Searching behind him, he confronted his buddy standing much as he had the day they’d left for Afghanistan.  Luke, the boy from back home, the quarterback and hero, stretched to his entire six foot two frame and grinned for Logan.  Gathering his wits, the former Navy SEAL shook away the memory.  “Gotta focus.  Can’t go in halfcocked.”

                                    ***

Thank you for sharing with your friends.  Your support means so much.

This excerpt from Beyond The Veil, book 1 of Shadow Company is copyrighted material and the property of Catherine Wolffe, author.

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Casey’s Gunslinger – Snippet – The Loflin Legacy Continues

Casey's Gunslinger - Snippet
Click on the picture to download a free sample of Comanche Haven # 1 in The Loflin Legacy series

For the love of a good woman, a man will go against what’s lawful. Here’s a snippet from the second novel in The Loflin Legacy Series, Casey’s Gunslinger. Happy Saturday!  Enjoy and know I appreciate your comments greatly.

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Casey’s Gunslinger snippet! Excited to share this bit from book two in The Loflin Legacy. Casey’s an orphan. She’s come back to Tyler to confront the father, who abandoned her as a baby. Charles Harrison, the gunslinger, turned lawyer takes on more than he bargained for with the feisty filly, who vows revenge on the Loflin name.

***

Driven by an inner demon, Casey crossed the rock bank of the creek. “Mr. Harrison, I demand an apology.” Hands fisted on hips; she glared at his broad back. Noting the way the leather vest fit him perfectly, accentuating his narrow waist and trim behind, she waited.
He turned smooth and easy as if the idea of an apology had been his own. “Certainly, Miss St. Clair, just as soon as hell freezes over.” With two fingers to the brim of his Stetson, he rounded her and headed for his horse. “Get ready to ride,” he growled over his shoulder.

Book Daily Shares The Lady in the Mist

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The Lady in the Mist (The Western Werewolf Legend #1)

Catherine Wolffe

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The Civil War took Sonja Brooks’ husband and left her alone. Unprotected and scared, she runs headlong into a life changing event when she’s attacked by a pack of wolves. Her fate as a werewolf is sealed. When she stumbles upon Ty Loflin, a Rebel soldier dying of his wounds, she nurses him back to health. He’s the perfect mate, but will…Download Free TODAY on Amazon ← Click now while it’s still free!

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Friday Eve – Spend the Day with Desire’s Embrace

Good morning.  Lovely to have you drop by today.  I want to share an excerpt from Desire’s Embrace with you, my readers.  If you aren’t familiar with my latest paranormal romance set in post-war New Orleans, circa 1872, then here’s the blurb:

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An orphan with a goal to become her own woman. Quite a challenge for a woman in 1872. Still, her drive leads her to answer an ad placed by the mysterious man from Louisiana. He’s known for being the sugar baron of the south and his good looks. Can she become the independent woman she wants to be under his roof as the nanny to his children? Or will the attraction between them drive her into his arms despite her questions about his secretive nature? Join Laura Sinclair as she takes on the greatest challenge of her life with her employer, Morgan Latimar, sugar king of New Orleans.

Morgan Latimar seeks a nanny for his children. The woman who accepts the position can never know he is a wolf shifter. Despite his Wolfen wisdom, Morgan is mesmerized by the passionate, Laura Sinclair. Will she be his salvation or his downfall?Enjoy the

Enjoy the excerpt and have a wonder-filled day.

Desire’s Embrace

Chapter 7 – The Governor’s Ball

“Show me what to do with this thing.”

A lace and feather encrusted mask dangled from the eye opening on one finger of her gloved hand.  Laura’s expression proved what Morgan had known all along.  The hostess arrangement did not make her happy.  Laura enjoyed the children, and teaching seemed her forte.  She resisted the social aspect of their arrangement with some vigor.  “Here, let me show you how fetching you’ll look with the mask in place.”  His arched eyebrow with a debonair slant did not impress her.  “You position the paper mache thus.  You then tighten the ribbons like so and with a couple of hairpins your costume is secure.  Cherie, you’re ready to turn heads wherever the night may take you.”

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The lack of enthusiasm she wore dealt his positive statement a harsh blow.  “You are going to make me wear this thing, aren’t you, sir?”

The use of such a formal address pressed on his already stingy patience.  “Why yes, my dear, you look marvelous.”  With a wink, he smiled.  “I for one would dance with you every dance just to discover who the beautiful creature is under the mask.  Besides, we had an arrangement – remember?”  Hating the reminder, he vowed to be on his best behavior.

Laura rolled her eyes to the ceiling as he adjusted the black lace shawl about her bare shoulders.  The tall mirror in the foyer proved his point.

“See, you look stunning.”

She glanced at him in the mirror.

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“Forgive me, Laura, but I’m only telling the truth.”  His tone must have sounded sincere because she turned to peer closer before returning his gaze in the mirror’s reflection.  Something stirred in his gut.  Morgan hesitated to put a name to the sensation, more a swirling of energy, a tingling of feelings each time he took her hand in his.  “The carriage is here.”  Propriety allowed for a hand upon her low back to assist her inside.  The heat from the touch startled him making Morgan wonder if, in fact, she did possess a streak of magic.  Something perhaps even Laura wasn’t aware she owned.  Mystical and tantalizing, the sensation held the same mystery as the first time he had touched her.  Her mother’s illness perhaps was not an illness after all.  Laura’s mother may have been a true seer or even a witch.

“Where are we going tonight?”  She glanced out the window, watching, yet not seeing.  Her hands relaxed atop a velvet purse and gloves in her lap.

He couldn’t help the smile that crept across his face.  She hated the gloves and removed them often.  “Tonight’s fete’ is at the governor’s home.  Despite my misgivings about socializing with a reformist Democrat, I must keep up appearances.”  He waved a hand in the air.  “The coach is a symbol of the Mardi Gras season.  Though a bit old-fashioned for my tastes, they’re used by all the krewes’ for parties and balls.  We’ll stay until the Governor arrives and leave soon after we’ve thanked him for the invitation.  The whole affair shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.”  Leaning close, he lowered his voice.  “I promise not to be too much of a bore during our time together.”

She turned, yet said nothing.

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Reaching out, he took her hand in his.  She tensed.  “Easy, my dear.  By the way, you smell enchanting tonight.”  He held her gaze a moment and then glanced out the window and sighed.  “I’m certain.  I’ll have my hands full fighting off the young bucks tonight.”

Her brow furrowed.  “Young bucks?”

He grinned.  God, what an innocent she was.  “I’m referring to the men with their youth and vigor which will try to steal you away.”  They crossed a deep pothole, causing the coach to lurch.  Pain shot through his bum leg.  He eased back into the plush cushions of the seat.

A quick glance proved Laura was riding out the obstacles in the street as well.

She held the leather strap attached to the ceiling with a frown on her face.  “I’ve never been interested in those young bucks as you say.  I prefer a man with life experience.”

His breath caught.

Laura studied him in the dim light.  “Forgive me for being blunt, but how old are you-thirty-five?  It has been said; a man is like a fine wine, which requires aging to ensure its quality.  You, sir, possess that quality.”  Her eyes remained on his.  “You have control over impulses – the kind that would derail a younger man.  Yours is a quiet confidence without arrogance.  Younger men always seem to have something to prove.”

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Clear blue eyes held his gaze without wavering.  Always outspokenly truthful, Laura hit her mark.  She could have spouted the Rosary in Latin and not have had a more profound effect on Morgan.  He stared for a full minute before finally swallowing and glanced out the window into the misty darkness of the street.  A sickly ill sensation swam in his gut.  What a boon she had been since her arrival.  She deserved – a whole man– one without flaws and deception.  Pain speared him again, and he sucked in air.  The devil takes him, but he wanted her.  Perhaps, he would have to settle for her in his arms for the leg throbbed anew, and Morgan closed his eyes.  In the darkness, all he saw was Laura.

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“We’re here.”  She slid the gloves back on and gathered her purse, rearranging the shawl more closely.  The footman opened her door, and she got out.  Morgan had difficulty standing.  Cursing silently at the damn leg, he adjusted the brace as the mechanical mechanism hissed and spewed.  With the footman’s help, he pulled the crippled leg out to stand.  Laura took his arm as they made their way up the low-slung porch to the massive door.  He gave her points for her accommodating nature.

The lively music coming from the double doors drew their attention.  Inside, dancers swirled and twirled to the sound of an old-fashioned waltz.

“It is beautiful.  Laura cut Morgan a sidelong glance.  “Where would you prefer we start – at the receiving line or the dance floor?”

Morgan patted her hand on his forearm.  The glib way she asked the question told him she wanted to dance.  “I’ll wager you’ll surrender before I get warmed up.  What do you say?”

Her laugh of pure delight trailed after them as they descended the stairs to a large ballroom.  Sparkling lights eliminated the dancers.  Her enthusiasm bolstered his confidence.  Soon they disappeared into the wave of guests.  Next, accordions and fiddles replaced violins and harps as they shuffled at a dizzying pace to a Cajun tune.  A dip and twirl had Laura holding on to him.

“You dance so well, sir.”

“This old dog hasn’t forgotten everything.  Hang on, Cherie.”  Giving her a good squeeze, Morgan faded before twirling her out and back into his arms.

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Genuine surprise crossed her face.  “Oh, Monsieur, you are an accomplished dancer.  Why didn’t you tell me this?”

He noted the stain of pink in her cheeks.  “Be truthful – would you have believed me?”  The directness of his question caught her off guard.

“To be sure, I didn’t believe you so light and steady.  But, you are confident as well.  There’s no hesitation, no uncertainty in your direction.”  Her eyes traveled over his face in speculation.  “You’ve been trained no doubt.”

He noted the pulse in her neck throb with the blood coursing through her veins.  His blood surged at the sight of such life.  “Yes, we were trained in dance, theater, music appreciation and the accordion as children.  My mother insisted though my father found the instruction tedious.”  Her light laughter filled the air as the music ended.  The sensation of real pleasure washed over him.  He lifted her hand, kissing her knuckles.  “By the way.  I like it when you call me by my French title – Monsieur.”  With a flourish, he released her hands.  “It’s a pleasure to be of service, madam.”  Bowing formally, Morgan gave her a satisfied grin when she continued the private joke by curtsying before accepting his hand to leave the floor.  “Can I get you some refreshment?”

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Her tiny paper fan appeared.  Laura batted her eyelashes at him.  “Yes, thank you.  That would be lovely.”

“Good, I won’t be long.”  Depositing her along the wall where chairs offered a quiet repose, Morgan winked as he left.  The night was going well, he mused.  Laura’s reluctance seemed to ebb.  Thankfully, a cheerful demeanor won out.  He could only hope the mood carried the night.  Humming a light-hearted tune, Morgan made his way across the room to the dining hall where food and drink abound.

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/552070

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World of Desire’s Embrace

 

 

 

Morgan Latimar knows what it is to be lonely.  He’s reminded of his predicament every day when he reaches for the cane which he uses to walk.  He watches over his shoulder constantly and examines what people don’t tell him more closely than the words they utter.  He has many responsibilities of which he guards with his life.  No one knows his secret, not the full extent of his misery.  For if they did, he would have to eliminate their existence.  So, this is Morgan’s world.

Soon, a young woman will come into his world and turn it upside down.  Her mere presence will rip the cloak from his secret and leave him exposed to the dangerous knowledge he is not what he appears to be.

Laura Sinclair, a bright, exuberant, young woman who’s on her own for the first time in her life is anxious to meet the mysterious man from Louisiana.  His letters painted a picture of beauty and home and she wants to see for herself the wonders that await.  Her first job as a nanny and governess to two children will drop her amidst this storybook world.  She’s on her way to becoming independant.  A dream of hers for so many years.  So, as she stands on tiptoes and crains her head to see the man waiting for the new nanny, she imagines all the splendor of a new adventure.

This is the backdrop for Desire’s Embrace.  While writing this tale of deception and discovery, I strove to prove that though, things aren’t always as they seem,  the heart is still a magical place where forgiveness and trust form a bond so strong, nothing can tear it apart.  I invite you to discover the world of Morgan Latimar and Laura Sinclair in Desire’s Embrace.  Enjoy the excerpt and happy reading.

Desire’s Embrace – Chapter 1

“Give it back!”

“No, get your own!”

“Children.”  As Morgan Latimar entered the kitchen, he admonished his quarreling children for the noise.  It did not matter that their escalating argument was over who got the last piece of bacon.  The scene was the third such episode in a week.  Tensions were running high in his household.  The situation needed a resolution.  This morning, Morgan was on a mission that would cure their unruliness.  “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he told Ruby, the housekeeper.  Not breaking his stride as he scooped up the last piece of bacon, Morgan divided it into two portions and presented it to Sara and Jacob. Then he exited the kitchen door.  Hearing their laughter, he hoped the peace would last, yet knew it would not.

As the screen door smacked shut a second time, Bertrand, his manservant spoke up.  “That solution will last about five minutes.”

Morgan did not respond.  Instead, he decided not to glance back at the small disturbance mounting as Ruby tried to establish order in the kitchen with her demand for quiet.  His manservant was right.  Lately nothing had calmed his children.  They were out of control.  It was past time he found a nanny for them, someone who could give them the loving, yet strong hand of a guiding force in their lives.

The temptation to shift into a wolf and bound off into the woods sounded better and better these days.  Coming to a stop just shy of the barn doors as he waited for Bertrand, Morgan realized he desperately wanted to run.  However, the reason was not the children.  He loved his son of seven years and his daughter of five.  Jacob and Sara meant more to him than life itself.  His desire to run lay in the loss of their mother and his soul mate.  Diana, the only woman in the world he had ever loved, was lost to him now.  Sara’s birth had taken her five years ago despite everything they had tried to do for his beloved wife.  And yet, it felt like it was only yesterday on a morning like this.  Sometimes he could hear her calling to him from the fields, or he would see her standing on the ridge of the mountains beyond his family’s land.  She waited for him in the cool of the evening breeze as the sun settled quietly over the horizon.  He yearned to race with her once more over the fields and through the woods of Bay Ridge.  His family’s sugar plantation held nothing except memories now.  The discomfort in his leg spiked.  Morgan sighed as he propped open the barn door and adjusted the mechanized brace holding his useless limb upright.  The old war injury plagued him daily.  Life had changed.

Diana had died early on a June morning as the world started to stir.  Perfection – no one expected anything less of Sara’s birth.  Diana’s pregnancy had been a normal occurrence.  She was healthy throughout the months as they awaited the arrival of their second child.  Something had gone dreadfully wrong, and Diana had slipped away from him as he held her in his arms.  Time passed, as time always does, and Morgan forced the daily responsibilities to consume him.  A way to survive he supposed.  After all, there were the children to consider.

“Where are you going?”  His brother, David’s voice held concern.

“This morning I’m going to meet The Creole Belle, a paddle-wheeler out of Memphis.  The children need more than Ruby, the housekeeper or me or even your dear wife Jacquie can give them.  They need supervision from a dedicated caregiver.  Not to say Ruby and Jacquie haven’t done all they can to help with the children.”  He slowed, shaking his head.  “No, they’d been wonderful since Diana’s death.”  Glancing out at the tree lined boundary, a pang of longing shot through him.

The overwhelming urge to race through the fields would simply have to wait.  There was trouble brewing.  Morgan did not fully understand how he knew this, yet things were not right.

“I understand the need.  I just don’t understand how you’re going to accomplish this without jeopardizing your safety as well as the safety of the family.”

Turning, Morgan studied his brother.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll manage.  The children need a nanny.  She will arrive before I get to the dock if I don’t hurry.  Give my best to Jacquie.  I’ll be back as quick as I can.”  Climbing into the steam buggy, Morgan gripped the wheel.  Bertrand, his manservant, rode shotgun as they sped off.

Checking his hydraulic watch, Morgan parked the buggy as close as possible to the dock.  Crowds always gathered when a paddle-wheeler dropped anchor, especially one as refined as the Creole Belle.  Carnies and hobos scouted their next grift while ladies of refinement awaited the unloading of their luggage.  Men of color labored in the already oppressive heat of a youthful spring day.  Some, visiting the city for the first time, gawked at the chaos while frequent visitors to the Crescent City dove into the bedlam as a matter of routine.  He scanned the dock for the woman he had asked to come to New Orleans.  She was probably already lost in the congestion of the crowd.  The city, still the commerce center of the south, was growing exponentially since the war of northern aggression.  Thriving in a climate of renewed business, the unique pleasures the city always proved noisy and rude.

In Morgan’s opinion, the rude and noisy overrode the immense and busy when the topic arose about his beloved New Orleans.  Then there was reality, which took a back seat to customs and superstitions.  Voodoo, the dark religion, ran rampant throughout not only the alleys and byways of the city.  The religion also consumed the parlors and drawing rooms of the enticingly mysterious region.  The city’s underbelly thrived on superstition embedded in fear.

“Do you plan to divulge anything about your background, sir?”

Morgan cut a cool gaze at Bertrand.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”  The hour was early for so many questions concerning his common sense.  The irritation rolled restlessly in his gut.  His French father would have said the timing was bad.  His Indian mother would have soothed his concern with a prayer to the Great One.  “Are you trying to get under my skin, Bertrand, or just bored?”

The manservant flicked a piece of lint off his cuff before cocking a brow.  “Perhaps both.”

“I’m Creole, not stupid.”  Morgan slapped the buggy door shut.  Steadying his leg brace, Morgan glanced up.  “You are a free man of color and as such, you may find employment where you wish.  There’s nothing holding you.”

The comment did not sit well with Bertrand.  Sniffing lightly, the manservant glanced outward, rather than dignify his employer’s comment with an answer.  The routine was an old one the two friends rehearsed practically daily.

“Hey, mister.”

Caught off guard, the hairs along Morgan’s crisp, white collar stood at attention.  An eerie, old witch with knarled fingers curled atop a crooked cypress cane poked him in the side.

“You got a coin for an old woman?”

“Be gone with you, hag.  I don’t have time for your nonsense.”

The witch clucked her tongue.  “You’ll be needing my kind of wisdom soon.  The stirrings are multiplying.  The child grows restless.  Be warned.  You’ll seek that which can save those you love.”

“I want nothing you have, woman.  Be off with you.”  Tossing a coin in the old hag’s basket, Morgan moved as quickly away as his leg would permit.  The sheer shock of the witch’s words had him scurrying to safer ground.  Shame in his fear had nothing to do with his wish to rid himself of the needling sensation the witch was right.  How had she known a child of his grew restless?  Unease clawed at his insides.  He gripped his silver-headed cane until his knuckles grew white.  No one outside of his immediate household had witnessed Sara’s spells.  Sweat trickled slowly down his backbone one vertebra at a time.

Surely, there was a reasonable explanation for her dilemma.  For three nights past, she had awakened screaming.  Crying, she had begged Morgan not to go.

“Don’t go into the dark, daddy.  Please don’t go!”

Stroking her silky blond hair, Morgan had prayed desperately for help with her nightmares.  That is what they were after all.  Nothing more and certainly nothing like he had experienced over the years.  He would not believe she had succumbed to the same fate as he.  The damned Voodoo Mambos with their potions had tried countless times to rid him of the misery of the shift. No one could break the curse.  Marie Laveau had done this to him.  In the darkness, Morgan prayed the plight he faced was not hers as well.

“You’re safe, my sweet.  Don’t worry.  I am here, and I will not leave you.  Rest, Sara.  Get some sleep.  I’m right here.”

The child clutched the covers tight.   Vigilant, Morgan sat as she fought the trouble brewing inside her small frame.  Soothing her with soft assurances, he did his best to calm both their fears.  Surely, the gods were not so cruel as to burden his only daughter with the curse.

***

The loud clap of board against board brought him back to the present.  The Creole Belle had docked.  Ropes flew through the air landing unceremoniously onto the planks as crew members worked to secure the vessel.  The Belle crept closer to dry land.  Shipment planks fell from deck to dock, and the unloading commenced.  Laborers went about pulling heavy pallets of cotton, sugarcane as well as grain, all bound for market, with a swift indifference of pure purpose.  The passengers, attempting to disembark early, found themselves caught in the chaos.  Such noise as the laborers toiled at their task.

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Morgan straightened his frock coat as he glanced into the sky.  The morning had broken clear and bright.  Squinting, he gazed across the channel as the sun danced on the water.  Spring was coming. With the shift in the season, a change was upon them.

Bertrand walked up beside him, breaking his concentration.  “I never dreamt anyone would answer your ad.  Who in their right mind would seek employment in this postwar confusion?”

The needle, thou well selected, did not set well.  Touché old chap.  Morgan glanced askance at the man who had been loyal to his family for two generations.  Bertrand was overly opinionated.  He always knew, exactly, how to play his pawn without regard of reprimand.  After all, he was a free man, a Creole, who worked where he chose.  Unwilling to let the jab get under his skin, Morgan faced the water once more.  “You sound surprised.”  Morgan did not wish to rehash the tired topic.  Not since everyone in his household had a negative opinion of his plans.  Taking a step toward the gangplank, he planted his feet firmly before continuing to stare out at the horizon rather than let Bertrand’s innuendos get the best of him.

The fact was he had placed several ads in the eastern papers.  After numerous correspondences, Morgan had almost given up.  One morning several weeks past, a peculiar missive had arrived from Georgia.  A young woman had written to inquire about the position.

Out of the corner of his eye, Bertrand appeared at his side.  Apparently misreading his employer’s silence as his opportunity to elaborate on his opinion, Bertrand expanded on his theory.  “Undoubtedly, sir.”  This woman has very little experience, despite the fact she comes with glowing references from her school instructors.  There must be something about her that has bewitched you.”  He cut his eyes at Morgan’s profile.

Morgan had to marvel at the precision of his man’s barb.  Truth resided in Bertrand’s assumption.  For despite the woman’s lack of hands-on practice with young children, Morgan was fascinated with her determination and persistence in securing the position.  Not only had she written him three different times, she had telegraphed him as well.  Besides, she was far more pleasant to look at than the prune-faced old maids he had interviewed thus far.  Morgan answered her missive, inviting her to come out for a face-to-face interview.  Wondering if the tintype in his vest pocket was recent, his mouth drew up in a quirk at the thought of the young woman’s dark hair and slim build.  Irritated with his train of thought, Morgan limped closer to the Belle’s gangplank.  The smells of leather and hay invaded his nose as he made his way to the edge of the dock.  “Haven’t got anyone to best in poker this morning, Bertrand?”  Morgan knew the man was only a step behind him.  “I’m sure I can scrounge up a game for you with the local card sharks if you’re bored.”  With a cutting gaze, he arched a brow.  “Better enjoy your entertainment while you can, old man.  I am looking forward to a little boredom.  With this woman in charge of the children, maybe our lives will return to some level of normalcy.”  Eying his man, Morgan smiled as the barb hit home.

Still, a twinge of guilt mingled with longing washed over him as he realized he was about to place his children in the care of a stranger.  Would Diana have approved?  His heart began to ache with the things he knew were true.  She had wanted a large family, something they had dreamt of such on those nights as they lay awake planning their future together.  The painful truth he understood too well.  Diana was not coming back.  Their lives changed forever.

The coal-fired engines of the paddle-wheeler spewed smoke into the sky in perfect unison with the churning of the pistons.  The Creole’s massive boilers belched out identical, dark plumes of smoke from matching stacks into the morning sky.  The commotion sent a signal to the rest of the passengers on board to disembark.  Morgan watched as men in finely tailored suits and ladies in proper bonnets with matching gloves scurried to leave.  Soon the dock overflowed with all manner of people.

He stretched to his full six-foot-four-inch frame.  His superior height allowed him to scan the milling crowd.  The woman in the tintype, a dark-haired, doe-eyed creature, resembling a life-sized doll in her starched pinafore was not there.  Glancing down at the picture once more, he realized Miss Sinclair would not be wearing a school uniform.  Morgan closed his eyes briefly, trying to envision her in a traveling suit – probably a dowdy gray, ill-fitting spinster suit with an ugly hat, which did nothing to accentuate her features.  Chiding his inner demons once more, Morgan reminded his wayward mind, how she appeared did not matter – only that she perform her duties responsibly.  Tapping his index finger against the cane he leaned on, he scowled at the vessel, wondering if, after all their correspondence, Miss Sinclair had changed her mind.  Perhaps she had gotten a last minute marriage proposal and sailed off to Atlanta to keep house for a young, well-to-do banker whose pockets bulged with ill-gotten gains since the war’s end.  Only prune-faced old maids came looking for employment while the youthful grasped their future in their fists, taking what they wanted despite anyone else’s problems.  “You fool.” He growled under his breath.  “What made you think a lovely young woman like Miss Sinclair would accept a nanny position for a middle-aged, crippled, old war veteran.  Stupid.”  Morgan was well aware his man heard the comment, yet to Bertrand’s credit, he did not jump to answer.

As they both stood carefully watching each passenger disembark, Morgan never saw the young woman until she tapped him purposely on the shoulder.  Slowly turning, he came face to face with a tall, regal vision.  The woman stood with her back to the paddle-wheeler.

The Creole Belle picked that particular moment to release the remaining steam from its great boilers.  As the vessel did, the sudden blast of evaporating moisture created a perfect backdrop for her lovely form.  Certainly a vision, yet with purpose, to be sure, he mused.  What a look of irritated inquiry on her angular face.  Her doe’s eyes narrowed as she sized him up.

Presenting a hand, she proceeded to introduce herself.  “My name is Laura Sinclair.”

The vision stood only inches shorter than he did.  Her shoulders squared as she extended her gloved hand in a gesture normally reserved for dealings between businessmen.  Her set jaw and thin-lipped smile gave her the appearance of a woman with unwavering determination.  He could not find his tongue.  Her eyes, the color of rich, blue pools of azure, bore into him.  His inner wolf stirred despite Morgan’s attempt to quell the urge.  The suit she had chosen for the trip was a smart blue and gray tweed, which accented those amazing eyes.  She had cinched her waist with a leather corset, which accentuated her firm, round breasts.  Secretly he congratulated her on the choice of a smart, veiled hat of the same blue hue as the suit.  .  She was a breath of fresh air in their dull environment.  Proper, yet with a sparkle of courage, Miss Sinclair stood out in their postwar city.  Seconds passed in silence as he decided she would have looked marvelous in anything she wore.  Her skin reminded him of Georgia peaches.  Glancing down, he noted she carried a derringer in her skirt hooked to the leather corset about her waist.  Despite her beauty or perhaps because of it, the young woman was serious.  Her demeanor spoke of confidence.

The boat’s whistle took that moment to blast a loud arrival signal.  The distraction proved effective.  Now vexed at the trail of his musings, Morgan shoved the image of her wearing nothing at all away, before growling under his breath.  “What a stupid man you are.”

“I beg your pardon?”  Confused curiosity bloomed in her eyes.  “Are you not Mr. Latimar?  Mr. Morgan Latimar?”

“I am.”  His mouth felt like he had swallowed a handful of sawdust.

Her hand remained out in anticipated acceptance.  “I’m Laura Virginia Sinclair.  I’ve come to apply for the position of nanny you posted.”

His brain drug its feet.  Staring at her extended hand, Morgan moved in slow motion.  Observing her slim fingers, covered in lace, he noted she wore intricately carved leather bracelets encircling her slender wrists.  The bracelets connected to metal rings circling both her pinkies.  Fascinated with the daring fashion accessory, he faltered in his response.  He would have taken her slender hand, bowing low before dropping an air kiss above her knuckles, as was the polite custom in his world.  However, her bold stance and the blood rushing to his loins gave him pause as he realized he was still staring.  Since she did not budge and squared her shoulders once more before giving him another narrow-eyed perusal, Morgan hesitated a moment before taking her hand in his.  When he did, he discovered strength in her grip.  Her flesh lay coolly in his palm.  He detected a minor tremor.  Morgan warmed to the way her hand fit neatly in his.  The thought stole the remainder of the composure, which had not already drained to his crotch.  She was no average woman.  She was young, which meant she was of the new notion the world splayed, fresh in anticipation of her.

Snapping back, Morgan nodded as irritation rippled up his spine.  “This is my man, Bertrand.  He’ll get your luggage.”  Despite the awkward step back on his bum leg, he made a sweeping gesture indicating the steam buggy he had driven into town that morning.  “My carriage awaits,” he quipped as he moved aside for her.

Laura eyed him without words.  He indicated she move ahead of him.  She continued the rigid, no-nonsense posture, without asking for his assistance into the carriage.  The young woman struck him as serious for her young age.  Having been an orphan, she had probably grown up fast.  Truth – she appeared to be ready to handle what came her way.  He, on the other hand, had a needling urge to protect her.

Lifting her booted foot to the landing, Miss Sinclair alighted in the shotgun seat.  In his younger days, Morgan would have enjoyed the view of trim ankles and a well-defined waist accentuated by the lady’s darkly tooled corset.  That man had flourished in a world untouched by the war and its life-changing aftermath.  The present day Morgan Latimar remembered little of the flirtatious ways of a gentleman groomed as a wealthy, affluent plantation owner.  So, with Miss Sinclair seated and Bertrand securing the bags in the boot of the steam buggy, he concentrated instead on leaving the congestion of the dock.

The reins lay loosely in his hands as Morgan let the horses have their heads.  Responsibilities – he had them in spades.  The time to think of seducing a woman, even one as lovely as Miss Sinclair was long past.  He sat straighter in the seat.  Now he was a single parent, a rebel against a regime gone mad, not to mention a shifter with much to lose.  Clearing his throat, he tugged at the reigns, snapping the horses to attention.

She cut him a contemplative eye.  “This is a lovely buggy.”  Her dark head had bowed briefly, before she asked pointedly, “Why did you go to such trouble?  You could have sent your man, Bertrand to fetch me back.”

Clearly spoken with a lovely twang.  Morgan smiled to himself.  If he wasn’t mistaken, he heard Tennessee in her voice.  It reminded him of his days in the Confederate Army and a march through Tennessee.  First impressions were important, even if she had no training for the position.  “I wanted to make sure you were safe and-” A prickle of idiocy nagged at his tongue.  The words were there, right there, yet he would rather die than admit his real reason for coming after her himself.  Did the idea of seeing if she resembled the breath-taking beauty in the tin type mean he was behaving irrationally?  Probably.  “The steam buggy is a much more comfortable ride.  I am the only one who would recognize you,” he lied.  After a pause he added, “Besides, I’m the only one who can drive the fool contraption.”

“I see.”  With her eyes focused straight ahead, Miss Sinclair folded those long, slim fingers in her lap.

If he was not mistaken, she did not believe him.  Well, the devil take her.  Why should he care?  He was her employer.  Why should he care what she thought of him?  Still, Morgan wondered what they would talk about on the long trip home.  He was so out of practice with people he barely knew where to begin.  “How was your trip from Savannah?”

“Fine.  The train kept a perfect schedule.  When we boarded the paddle-wheeler, we didn’t suffer any delays either.”

Precise and to the point, she did not elaborate or attempt to flirt like many of the others he had encountered since becoming a widower.  The slight turn of her head in his direction was the only indication she had finished what she had to say.  The first stirrings of panic swam in his gut.  What was he doing?  She was a perfect stranger.  Morgan Latimar had so much to hide.  Bertrand was right – she was not qualified.  The menacing urge to yank the buggy around, taking her back to town rode heavy in his thoughts as they traveled in silence.  His mind would not fix on one problem at a time.  To hell with it!  Mention the points of interest if you must, you imbecilic oaf, but get her to talk.  “Have you ever been to Louisiana before, Miss Sinclair?”

“No.”

Her smooth yet short replies gave the panic in his stomach a reason to churn.  Well, bloody hell!  He closed his eyes and prayed for inspiration.

After all, he did not want the woman who had traveled all the way from Georgia to change her mind simply because he could not manage a polite conversation.  What must she think of him?  The fact he wore a mechanical brace around an injured leg bode ill for most people, he mused.  To have lost the ability to converse was mortifying.  Morgan inhaled slowly and tried again.  “The children are looking forward to meeting you.  I have shared your correspondence with them.  They are happy you agreed to make the trip.”  Flicking a glance in Miss Sinclair’s direction, he hoped she would take the bait.  He thought his heart stopped when she smiled.  The transformation was illuminating.

“I must confess I can’t wait to meet them as well.  However, there is some anxiety I had not expected to face.  Please forgive me for speaking so frankly…”

Her pause set small warning bells off in his head.  Did she suddenly reconsider after all?  “There’s no reason to feel anxious about the position.  The children will love you.  You’ll fit right in at Bay Ridge.”

The smile was warm as her mouth turned up at the corners in a smooth, fluid expression of pleasure.  The response was like a sucker punch to the chest.  Sucking in air, Morgan willed away the darkening of his peripheral vision as his heart beat quickened.  He had to maintain he reminded his befuddled brain.  The damn young bucks at the plantation were going to trip over their tongues when Miss Sinclair flashed her smile their way.

“Mr. Latimar, I need to be frank with you.”  She glanced down at her hands knotted in her lap before meeting his gaze.  Turning, she faced him more completely.  “I lack in experience as a nanny.  However, I love children very much.  I am looking forward to meeting Jacob and Sara.  In addition, I am educated and capable of teaching them all I know.  Furthermore, being young and strong are qualities I consider necessary if an individual is to care for others.”  Her spine straightened as she locked eyes with his.  “I resolve to do everything in my power to be the best nanny.  I’ll take care of your children as if they were my own.”

Morgan blinked.  She had stopped talking.  Relaxing a fraction, he attempted to appear composed.  “To be sure, Miss Sinclair.”  He watched as her chin lifted right above level.  The line of her elegant neck stirred something in his gut.  “I consider your frank honesty refreshing, Miss Sinclair.  What do you say we give the arrangement a trial run…to see if the children take to you?”

“Oh, yes.”

Again, there was that smile.  The stars in the sky could not shine any brighter, Morgan thought, as when Lara Sinclair smiled.

***

Thanks for dropping by,

Catherine

P.S.

I came upon this delightful review today.  Thank you so much for your kind words.

 

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Once you start reading a Catherine Wolffe book you can’t put it down I loved this book so much I have to say I cried and I don’t cry over a book, but this book is so great and I fully recommend it to all who loves Catherine’s books you won’t be disappointed I can’t wait to read your other books Catherine and thank you so much.

 

 

 

Desire’s Embrace-A Wolf Shifter Romance

11160571_1649199951968626_2103220830101452295_nMorgan Latimar seeks a nanny for his children. Being a Creole and a shifter makes the search hazardous for him as well as his family. The woman who accepts the position can never know his secret. Yet, despite his Wolfen wisdom, Morgan falls for the passionate, Laura Sinclair.

Laura Sinclair answers the post from the mysterious man from Louisiana. Soon she’s thrown into the world of Voodoo magic deep in the heart of Creole New Orleans in 1872. How can she perform the job she was hired to do when she’s falling in love with the handsome Morgan Latimar?  Will he want her once he knows her secrets? Where can she turn for help?

Interview with Marie Laveau, Voodoo High Priestess in Desire’s Embrace

“I promised you an interview with the Queen of Voodoo, Marie Laveau. This woman ruled life as it was in 1872, New Orleans. She reigned as the Mamba of the Voodoo religion in Louisiana for countless years. Her talent is legion among the believers.”

“I had the opportunity to sit down with her and ask her some difficult questions. Here is the interview.”

“Good day, Marie. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.”

“Thank you for having me, Catherine. I sense you have an interest in Voodoo but hold back because of your social position. Am I right?”

“Ah, well, I suppose you’re right. I’m here today to talk about you, Marie. What is your title among the believers?”

“Some call me Mamba, some call me priestess, some call me Marie and some even call me Mother. I go by many names. I am a servant of the great one. I serve the believers.”

“You serve the-the great one. What is his name? Who do you serve?”

“I told you, Catherine. I serve the great one. He is known by many names. He is our leader, and I await his pleasure.”

“Really? Because I have information, that states you perform many rituals that involve some very disturbing elements. Is it true you eat the hearts of newborn babies and the young among the believers. Sacrifices continue to include human offerings despite the constables raids and arrests.”

“Catherine, forgive me. I don’t want you to think I am using the position I have been given as a catalyst for my own desires. The constables are mistaken. I govern the believers in the name of our leader.” Marie shares a short laugh. ” You see, I want nothing but the power of our father to shine through.”

“Yes, yes, of course. You want what’s best for the believers. Correct?”

“Yes, and with that said, I want to thank you for the opportunity to share this space in time with your readers. Their belief in our devotion is welcome and cherished. I invite them to contact me for more on our religion and the strength of discovery.”

“Marie, one last question? Are you responsible for the curse on Morgan Latimar? A simple yes or no will suffice.”

“No. It is an insult for you to ask me that question. I curse no one in such a way. My power is to heal. This interview is over. Good day, madam.”

###

Purchase your copy of Desire’s Embrace at Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Desires-Embrace-Catherine-Wolffe-ebook/dp/B0130OFQCE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Catherine Wolffe – Desire’s Embrace

test1_desire_embraceDesire’s Embrace on Amazon

Desire’s Embrace by Catherine Wolffe

Morgan lost the rest of her sentence as her scent came to him like a siren calling his name.  Stepping toward her, he grappled with the beast for control.  The creature within him growled.  Morgan pulled her close, crushing her against his chest.  Laura’s eyes grew wide.  The kiss stole her breath as he molded his mouth over hers.  Rough and callous, he forced her lips open.  His tongue tangled with hers.  She tasted as sweet as honey.

Laura shoved.  A faint whimper escaped.  Struggling, she managed to reach up, raking her nails across his neck in one violent sweep.  The attack was like cold water sluicing over him.  Howling in pain, he fell back.  She stood, feet planted.  Fury etched her face.

“How dare you?”  Her words were breathless yet deadly calm.  “How dare you, sir.”  Her chest rose and fell with the effort.

Wiping the blood from his skin, Morgan stared as if for the first time.  A silence fell between them.  Morgan wheeled away.  The silence continued.  He glanced out the library window.  Needing a bit of time to harness the beast, he supposed.  Finally, composed once more he turned back.  “Forgive me.  I…I shouldn’t have done that.”  The jut to her jaw said she doubted his sincerity.  Why had he allowed the beast such leniency?  When she was near, Morgan couldn’t control his urges.  The beast reigned superior it seemed.  Rather than endure her stare of contempt any longer, Morgan sidestepped her and reached for the cigar box.  “I will not discuss my daughter with you unless the subject involves her lessons.  Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

Striking the match, he lit the cigar.  His hands shook.  Inhaling Morgan waited until the trembling subsided before facing her again.  “In the future, Miss Sinclair, you’d be advised to stay out of things that aren’t any of your concern.  Is that clear?”  He peered at her over his smoke.

Laura nodded.  “Will that be all, sir?”  Glacial in tone, her words rang in his ears.

“Yes.”

Rigid and regal, she turned on a dime.  The cool click of the door’s latch echoed in the room as she disappeared into the hall.

Silently, he watched her go.  Her lovely backside swayed in cadence with the pounding of his heart.  “Damn it all to hell!”  Dumping the cigar into the coffee cup atop the desk, he leaned in on the walnut wood.  With his eyes closed, Morgan surmised he had a problem.  The beast raged within.  Morgan slammed his fists on the desk.  How would he manage to share an entire evening with her?  His ill-conceived idea would surely kill him.  Raking a hand through his hair, Morgan sought the whiskey bottle he kept beneath the interior wall of his desk.  He needed a drink.  Throwing the first one back, he pondered the dregs in his glass.  Perhaps David was right.  Miss Sinclair’s presence wasn’t helping his situation.  However, Sara was blooming into a bright and talented child with Miss Sinclair’s help.  Despite her burgeoning transformation, Laura was good for the girl.

“Do not grieve over that which is past.  The day dawns new with every sunrise – a gift for our pleasure.”

Jacquie Latimar – Desire’s Embrace

Blurb:

Morgan Latimar, a decorated Civil War veteran, and shifter seeks a nanny for his children. The woman who accepts the position can never know his secret. Yet, despite his Wolfen wisdom, Morgan craves the passionate, Laura Sinclair.

Laura Sinclair answers the post from the mysterious Louisiana widower. Soon she’s thrown into the world of Voodoo deep in the heart of Creole New Orleans, circa 1872. How can she perform her duties when she’s falling in love with the handsome Morgan Latimar. What secrets will she reveal and who will she believe?

 

http://tinyurl.com/ok78xkz  Desire’s Embrace

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Cowboy Heat

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      “Gotta love a cowboy,” right? I wonder sometimes what you envision when the word cowboy is mentioned. Everyone’s ideas are different. Mine is of a rough, tough, no excuses kind of guy with a no-nonsense attitude about life. If you’ve ever tried to get close to somebody like this, you know how “hard” it can be. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, I want to share an excerpt from my novel, Comanche Haven. Given twelve years apart, Seth Loflin has a difficult time deciding how Celia, the woman from his past “fits” into his well-ordered life. You decide if he’ll succeed or not. Have a scintillating Sunday and enjoy a little cowboy heat.
Oh, by the way.  Check out the interview I did with Celia back in the day.  Click on the book cover below to be transported.  Cheers!
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Comanche Haven by Catherine Wolffe (Amazon link)

Seth sank into the steaming tub of water the housekeeper had prepared for him, almost immediately, after reaching his room.  Steam rose in a cloud around him.  He leaned back and closed his eyes.  The numbing power of the hot water was doing a fine job on the aches and pains in his body.  What the water couldn’t fix, the whiskey in his hand could, so he closed his eyes and tried to forget the trouble brewing around him.

Dark hair and cool green eyes appeared in his mind’s eye.  Ty and he had traveled hard to make it back by sunset.  He hadn’t wanted to leave Celia alone any longer than was absolutely necessary.  Jake’s report on her activities had him wishing he’d sent the foreman to Tyler in his stead.

While the bath and whiskey did their job, Seth had time to consider what Jake had told him.  Celia had slipped out and gone to meet Red Bear.  It didn’t set well.  But the fact she’d gone alone and told no one was more disturbing.  Right now, he was in no mood for deceit under his own roof.

The knock at the door startled him.  Seth sloshed water as he sat upright in the tub.  “Who is it?”

“It’s me, Celia… ma…may I come in?”

“Wait a minute,” he snapped, more harshly than he had intended.  It took a moment of stretching at the low-slung table just out of arms reach, but Seth managed to retrieve and strategically place a towel over the tub for her sensibilities.  “Come on in.  It’s open.”

“I didn’t get a chance to speak to you when you arrived,” Celia said as she slipped into the room.  Her polite but prim demeanor faltered when she spotted him in the hip bath.  “Oh! Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t know you were bathing.  I’ll come back later.”

She wheeled and her hand was already on the doorknob when Seth called out to her, “No, wait.  It’s okay.  I’m covered.”  His wry smile topped off the smoothing of the cloth over the big brass tub.

Slowly, Celia turned.

He had to chuckle to himself.  It was admirable she didn’t turn scarlet or wave away the vapors or some such nonsense at the sight of a half-naked man.  He reminded himself of others who would do just that when presented with a bit of male anatomy.  Satisfaction surfaced.  Probably seen all there was to see in the surgery theater, Seth mused.  With a waving of his wrist, he motioned her in as his smile became wicked.  “Come on in and keep me company.  I might even get you to scrub my back later.”  He took a deep swallow of the whiskey before setting his glass on the stand beside the tub.  The dark liquor burned all the way down and still didn’t numb the feeling of need growing in him.  He watched her out of eyes gone to slits.  For the life of him, he couldn’t seem to curb the irritated bend to his mood.

Cutter got up from his post near the hammered brass tub and wagging his tail, before sashaying over to greet Celia as she neared the bed.

Traitor, Seth mused as the dog thumped his tail with affection for the room’s newest member.

Lighting on the bench at the foot of his bed like a butterfly, Celia relaxed fractionally and let out an exaggerated breath when she noticed the hint of mischief in his expression.  “I never know how to take you.”  Trying to get her bearings back, she reached out and rubbed the cow dog behind the ears.  “I wanted to ask if you’d heard anything about the… the… about my father’s murder while you were in town?”  She finished in a rush.  “You went to the sheriff, right?”

Nodding, Seth cupped water in both of his big hands and splashed it into his face.  He was in no hurry to respond as he wiped the back of his hand across his face and then shook his head like a dog sending droplets of water in all directions.  “I went to alert Sheriff Cole and Major Chance at the Fort like I said I would.”  Seth reached for the bar of soap and began to scrub.  “We checked the tracks leading away from Lone Eagle’s campsite.  They headed north into Oklahoma territory.  We lost them not too far from the boundary to the reservation.”  He shook his head.  The ponies still carried Army issue shoes.  The riders are either U.S. Army or somebody with balls of steel.  They left a lot of signs and discriminating evidence.  I’m thinking they did it on purpose.  Whoever is responsible wants it to look like the army did it.”

His gaze met and held hers for a minute.  “I spoke to Jake earlier.”  He waited a beat.  “How did you like your ride?” Watching her closely, Seth waited.

Celia looked away, “Fine.”  She worked her hands in her lap.  The knuckles she gripped turned white under the pressure.  “Your place is so big.  I still have trouble with how vast it is.”

Seth watched as Celia placed her hand on her stomach and rubbed.

“We spent most of the day seeing a great deal of your place.  It’s beautiful,” Celia concluded quickly.

Too quickly, Seth thought, Nerves – not a good sign.

“Jake said we’d only skimmed the surface.  He mentioned how far away the outlying line shacks sat.  He reminded me the Shooter Creek remained the northern boundary of your spread.  He said you own everything almost to the Oklahoma territory.”

Seth watched her and only nodded.  His expression remained benign.

Celia responded with her hands moving to grip the bench on either side of her.  “Do you need help with your back?”  She rose.

The question came unexpectedly.  To his surprise, Celia got up and walked toward the tub.  Leaning over the squat table to retrieve the soap, she began to lather his back.

What was she up to?  Seth stalled in the water.  His next thought had nothing to do with the cooling temperature of the water.  He realized the true reason he’d been driven to get back to the ranch so quickly, which had nothing to do with her safety and everything to do with her.

The stroke of her fingers along his back had him tensing and sent blood rushing to his shaft.  Seth closed his eyes and willed himself to focus on something else.  His back muscles twitched as her hands glided up and down in a slow, rhythmic dance along his backbone.

“Seth, I wanted you to know how much I appreciate all you’ve done for me.” Her voice sounded like distant music. “I don’t think I would have made it without you.”

Trying valiantly to regain his composure, Seth sat in the water in silence for a time.  Her words sounded sincere.  Then as if driven, he slowly leaned back in the tub.  He had to admit, if she was toying with him, she was damn good at deception.  “No need to thank me, Celia.  You’ll always be able to count on me.”  Seth took mental stock one more time and assured himself he was in control.  But the need churning inside him had other ideas.  One look into those emerald green orbs and his heart gave a little lurch.  His mind simply stopped working.

Celia’s fingers continued to glide over his soap-slicked skin.  With each stroke, her fingertips were sending molten heat straight to his loins.

They reminded him of satin.  He wanted more.

Before he realized what he was doing, he reached out and clasped the nape of her neck.  Feeling her start to pull back, Seth whispered, “Relax girl, I won’t hurt you.”  With his eyes on her lips, Seth hesitated briefly, searching for something – anything, which would let him know how she would react.  Then he reached up and took her mouth with his.  The hunger breaking free had nothing to do with sensibilities.  This time he coaxed her mouth to open and let him taste the sweetness of her tongue.  Seth’s pulse hummed as her lips gave warm and tender under his.  She opened for him like a flower and Seth tasted the warmth of her lips, which were pliant against his.  He groaned softly.  She tasted like honey and the line of her throat like cream heated by the sun.  He thoroughly explored the inside of her mouth and then the slender neckline she offered when her head lolled to the side on her own gentle moan.  Slowly he discovered every slick, wet curve of her mouth.  His teeth grazed her lips and tasted the salt of hunger in her response.  Did she want him as much as he wanted her right now?

Celia exhaled and her eyelids fluttered shut.

The hunger growing inside him knew only one end.  Long agile fingers sank deep into the silken strains of her hair as he levered himself up the side of the tub angling for a better hold on her warm skin.  Cupping her head in his big hand, he kissed her again.  This time it was with the fever of need.  A need he’d, long ago, locked away.  It surged up from the cold depths of his own desire and rocked Seth with its intensity.  Taking her mouth in an attack meant to capture and possess, Seth realized too late he was losing the battle with reason, but he’d lost the will to care.  She tasted so good.  Her head fell to the side on another soft sigh of pleasure.  Seth found himself trailing long wet, ardent kisses down her neck.  The soft dip of her collarbone was a perfect place for him to linger.  He could feel the blood pulsing there, just under her skin.  Her smell, the smell of roses was all around him.  Another soft moan escaped.  So full of life, a life he’d thought he’d never hold in his arms again.  The warning bells were going off in his head by then.  His blood was roaring in his ears.  He was in too deep to heed any of it.  He felt like a drowning man with no desire for rescue.

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It took a moment for it to register.  She was saying something and the air around him was cooling as she drew back.

“Seth…”  Her voice was a fragile murmur as she pushed gently at his chest.  “I think I better go and let you get out.”  Celia shifted and disengaging his hands.  She slowly rose from the edge of the tub.

His eyes were on hers, those deep green orbs, pulsing with a thinly veiled need.  He could see it lying there in their depths, a molten-hot, burning fire.  Then, as quickly as it had come, it was gone – snuffed out like a candle flame.  Logic reined once more.

“You better get out before you turn into a prune,” she said primly.  The words, spoken so plainly, sounded strange coming from the swollen mouth Seth saw was bruised red with passion. Her lip quivered before she bit down on it.

He noted a small mark along her neck where, he surmised, he’d used his teeth.  Some base demon urged him to pull her back and take what was so close.  He simply stared.  Unable to say anything, Seth watched her cross her arms over her breasts in a protective gesture.  There was no question in his mind she’d been affected by the kiss.  She ran her tongue over her lips again and looked away.  Seth watched her as she brushed deliberately at the front of her day dress before she spoke again.

Long, sooty lashes rose and Celia looked once more into his face.  “I better go,” she whispered.  Quietly heading for the door, she quickened her pace when, she heard him sloshing water as he rose.

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Cowboys and Angels

Thanks for dropping by and be sure and check out all the other scintillating blogs in this weeks showcase!  Click on this link:

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Freckled Venom Copperhead by Juliette Douglas

One click to Amazon purchase
One click to Amazon purchase

The title had me hooked and I enjoyed talking with the author so much I invited her to be on my blog.  Here’s our conversation about Freckled Venom Copperhead with the lovely and talented, Juliette Douglas.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’m not sure, all I know is that I kept waking up with these goofy westerns percolating around in my head. I guess I was going through a mid-life crisis or God was trying to tell me something. I just know as I would scrub boats I would write dialog and scenes in my head. I didn’t even own a computer or have internet when I began writing six years ago. Wow! Things have come a long way since then.

 

How did you come up with the title?

A very dear friend has a cousin who is a retired publisher. Not only did he love the rough, raw version I presented, he offered two titles, to replace the one I had. I chose Freckled Venom.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That when life dumps a wagon load of lemons on you and you don’t have ‛nuff sugar to make lemonade, Just keep plugging along, you will survive.

 

What are your current projects?

Finishing the third book in the Freckled Venom series: Freckled Venom Skeletons to be out in 2014.

 

Next up:

Perfume, Powder & Lead

The tale of three floozies who leave the red-light district, heading for the goldfields and stumble upon four dead Nuns and decide to change their habits…so to speak and begin robbing banks masquerading as Holy Sisters.

 

Shave-tail

 

Bed of Conspiracy: Fiction based upon fact, The Knights of the Golden Circle and Jesse James, President Grant.

And whatever else pops into my little pea-picking brain.

 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Excerpt from Freckled Venom Copperhead

 

   

    Soft light began to fill the barn while he looked around, noting the three horses watching him with mild interest, There were three doors in the stable, the one behind him, and on the opposite wall, a single sliding door with another smaller one next to that. Turning slowly,  he took a good look at the Dillard boys. The three boys looked to be in their late teens to middle twenties, maybe a little older. Lanky to husky builds. Rawley had seen nasty looking hombres before, but these boys looked like sod busters, not killers. Tilting his head, he spoke to Lacy, asking, “You sure these are the Dillard brothers?”

Lacy nodded, pointing to the first one they’d brought in the barn, “That’s Aubrey, the youngest. That one is the middle brother. Name’s Keller. The dead one is the oldest, Ed.”

“Where they from? They look like sod buster.”

“They are, were, from Missouri. They’ve killed in every territory, well, almost every territory west of the Mississippi. Like I said, ‛Satan’s own spawn’,” Lacy finished, pressing her lips together.

Hearing a groan, they both turned toward the sound. Aubrey was beginning to awaken, after being smashed in the head by Lacy.

Anger began a slow burn deep inside of Lacy. She walked over to the boy and stared at the two-legged monster. This one had the scratches on his face from the Clancy woman. That made Lacy’s temper rise to a slow boil.

Aubrey looked up to see the purtiest l’il gal he’d seen in a while, flaming hair and big brown eyes you could melt into. He could feel himself rising.

Lacy’s anger continued to grow as did the bulge in his pants. She knew exactly what he was thinking.

That flaming temper overrode whatever sense Lacy had. Straddling the boy, she whipped out her knife. Bending over, she stuck it against the boy’s throbbing neck. His eyes quickly went from lust to fear.

Lacy whispered with deadly calm, “How ‛bout I do you like you did your last victim?” She asked, sliding the knife lightly drawing blood.

The boy blanched with fear. “Or better yet…” she began, brandishing the knife at the fly on his britches. She used it to pop off the buttons. She watched as the boy pressed himself against the post. “How ‛bout I just slice off your…,” her hand laid the edge of the blade across his bulge, then lightly sawed the blade back and forth, its edge beginning to cut through the material.

The bulge suddenly wilted. He looked at the knife, then, back up at her. The boy’s eyes wide with fear, he mumbled something against the bandana, shaking his head vigorously. Lacy’s eyes dripped venom as she added, “So you can’t play no more.”

She whisked the knife away only to continue her threatening attack on his torso. “How “bout…” as she sliced the buttons off his shirt and slit his underwear, exposing his gut. “How ‛bout…” she began as she slowly and lightly, sliced his skin upward. “I gut you like a hog at killing time, but I’ll leave you alive. Take your innards out.” Dark eyes never left the boy’s face. Lacy waved at the barn rafters. “Throw them up over those beams there, so you can watch your guts swinging from the rafters. Like sausages hanging from the beams of a smokehouse. How ‛bout that?” Lacy finished quietly.

Shocked at what he’d been witnessing, Rawley couldn’t move. His boots rooted to the dirt floor like a big oak. He’d never seen a female act like that before. Regaining focus, his ground eating stride placed him at Lacy’s side in seconds. He grabbed her wrist, swinging her around as he wrenched the knife out of her hand, scrutinizing the girl’s eyes. Lacy had traveled to somewhere deep within her soul. Moments later, her eyes came back into focus, fixing a deadly stare on him.

“That’s enough, Sunshine! I’m the law here. From now on you’ll do as I say!”

Freckled cheeks scorched with anger, she blasted the lawman, “I ought to whittle your ears off for that! Sides, you ain’t the only law around,” she told him through clinched teeth. Pushing around, him she moved toward the two boys, angrily tearing the guns out of their holsters. She shoved the pistols into his belly when she walked past him. Rawley caught them, barely. His eyes followed Lacy  as she struggled to slide open the barn door. He didn’t even bother to help, she’d pissed him off. The door continued protesting as the rusty wheels screeched from lack of use along its track. At last it slid open. She disappeared into the darkness.

 

Excerpt 2 from Freckled Venom Copperhead

 

 

 

Rawley’s eyes turned the color of a polished barrel,blue steel. He continued striding towardthe barn.He did not like what he saw, but kept his mouth shut as he loaded up Ed. Walking over to Aubrey, his hand grabbed a handful of hair, pulling up the boy’s head. Rawley looked into a purple and black swollen face, He was in no condition to walk. The boy needed to ride.

Lacy turned in her saddle to address the lawman, “Mount up. We got a good three days’ ride.”

Rawley advanced toward the girl, his anger flaring from beneath black lashes. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Aubrey can’t walk! He’s too badly hurt! Thanks to you! He needs to ride!”

Lacy leaned down toward the marshal, her eyes narrowing into slits, color brightening freckled cheeks in anger. “You listen to me good, Lovett. I’m not all brawn and muscle like you, so…” taking a finger and tapping her head, “I have to use my l’il pea-picking brain. Making my prisoners walk fifteen to twenty miles a day leaves them too tuckered out to argue with me at night, allowing me a little sleep. Keeping the food and water away, makes ‛em real tame. Now, mount up!”

That’s sadistic!”

“Is it? I call it self preservation. No one gets killed. No one gets hurt and we all arrive alive! Mount up!”

“You can’t keep taking your anger and your hatred out on the fugitives you catch, just because you don’t have the guts to confront your grandfather for what he did to you!” His eyes already frosty with anger, turned to diamond chips. “How many times do you have to kill your grandfather, before you give it up?”

Lacy recoiled as if she had been slapped.

“You have all the warmth and welcome of smallpox when it comes riding into town! You know that? He snapped. “I don’t know where you were in line when they passed out hearts. But, you sure as hell didn’t receive one!”

He saw Lacy drop her hooded look back into place, hiding her emotions, again.

Rawley spun angrily, walking back to Aubrey. Cutting enough rope to tie the boy in the saddle, he helped him up, eased him over to the horse, supporting him as he mounted. “I’ll get you to a doctor, soon as I can, son,” Rawley stated, finishing the knots.

Hearing the metallic click of a hammer being pulled back, Rawley stiffened, continuing to face the boy as he waited.

“The boy walks.”

“No. He rides,” he said. His already deep voice dropped lower. “Go ahead. Shoot me in the back. You do, I’ll see you hang,” Rawley threatened.

It seemed like ages before the marshal heard the hammer ease down with a soft click, a gun whispering back into its holster, leather creaking as horses moved off. Turning his head, his eyes followed the girl as she moved out. Keller, his hands tied by a rope half-hitched to Lacy’s saddle horn, struggled to remain on his feet as he was pulled along.

Rawley slowly expelled the breath he had been holding, “Damn kid. I’ve had enough,” he muttered. Whipping out his knife, he ran over to Keller, cleaning slicing the rope with a down turn of his wrist. The boy fell with the sudden slack.

Feeling the taunt rope go slack, Lacy spun around in the saddle, “Lovett! You bastard!” She yelled. Whirling Fancy around, she aimed the big grey on a collision course with the marshal. At the last second, Fancy swerved, throwing Lacy out of the saddle. She landed on top of Rawley, knocking both into the snow. Keller saw his chance. Scrambling up, he ran toward the nearest horse, his teeth chewing on the rope tying his hands. At last the knots loosened enough to where he could slide out his hands. Grabbing the reins, he mounted the big grey. Kicking heels into her ribs, he rode past the two still thrashing about in the snow.

“You damn little…she-devil!” Rawley grunted, taking another blow to his ribs.

Lacy scrambled out of his grasp. Standing, she locked both hands together, straightened her arms and swung, like an ax aiming at a large tree. The movement caught Rawley across his back, surprising, him and driving him to his knees. “That did it,” he mumbled, rising again.

Lacy had whirled, watching Keller ride off on her horse. Taking a few running steps, she suddenly landed face first in the snow. Rawley quickly grabbed both ankles lifting them up so the little hellion didn’t have any leverage. Lacy twisted. Turning and flopping like a hundred and fifteen pound catfish. “Lovett! I’ll kill you for this! I swear…I’ll kill you!” She yelled.

Rawley dragged her, sliding on her belly, pulling snow with her, like a plow, over to where Keller had dropped the rope. Bending down, he picked it up. Kneeling, he not so gently put a knee in her back. “Oww! You bastard! That hurt!” He trussed up her ankles, bending legs at the knees.

Lacy kept twisting, squirming, her body digging a hole in the snow, as she struggled to break the grip he had on her. Holding her kicking legs down with one hand, Rawley’s other hand, at last caught an irate arm, pulling that behind her, adding that to the ankles. Catching the other wrist, he added that to the three making a foursome. Breathing hard, he stood and surveyed his handiwork. Lacy twisted her neck. Seeing nothing, but snow covered boots and pants, she rolled on her side. She gave him the dirtiest look she could muster, “Lovett, you’re an ass! You let Keller get away!” She declared hotly.

The marshal heaved in more air for his starved lungs. Damn kid is quick. It had taken everything he had to subdue her. Fingers brushing his hair out of his eyes, he said, “Maybe that cold snow will cool down your temper some, Sunshine.”

Turning, he walked over to his hat. Picking it up, he brushed the snow off before resettling it back on his head. He threw one more look at the trussed up girl, then mounted. Two fingers brushed the brim of his hat as he nodded toward the girl, riding past her, heading off down the hill after Keller.

“Lovett?” Lacy yelled. “Where do you think you’re going? You can’t leave me like this! Lovett? Lovett…,” she yelled, dragging his name out to four or five syllables instead of the two. His name echoed against the granite backdrop of the mountains.

***

 

Who designed the covers?

We wanted striking, different covers to draw the readers eye right away. Cover photography is licensed from JC Leacock Photography out of Crested Butte, Co. His work is stunning. Bearhead Publishing LLC designed all the graphics and fonts found on the cover and inside under each chapter.

 

 

Who is your publisher and what are a few things you like about their business platform?

Bearhead Publishing LLC out of Brandenburg, Kentucky, a small press publishing company that is family owned. I liked the fact that they want their authors to retain their own unique writing voice. They offer all the same things a big company offers, but on a more personalized level. We have become good friends.

 

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you have as much fun reading these western adventure/romance tales as I did writing them. Enjoy the ride!

 

 

Juliette Douglas, Author of Freck;ed Venom
Juliette Douglas, Author of Freckled Venom

Hello Folks,

 

I’m Juliette Douglas, new western author. I live in Kentucky where in real life I wash boats for a living. Yes, you read that right. I’m just a crusty, rusty old fart of a boat washer who has stories percolating around in my head as I scrub boats.

 

I live on an old farm with a passel of kids…uh…critters. Why do I write western action stories with a little romance thrown in…Go figure! I like to say it is a God thing. I have already published two western novels in 2013. Freckled Venom Copperhead and Freckled Venom Copperhead Strikes. Both receiving the 5-star rating from Readers’ Favorite. I am working on the third sequel in the Freckled Venom series, now. Titled: Freckled Venom – Skeletons making its debut summer 2014.

 

Take time to visit http://www.facebook.com/author.juliette.douglas for updates and events. I love to hear from fans of my books. Email me or friend me on facebook.  Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Freckled-Venom-Copperhead-Juliette-Douglas-ebook/dp/B00IEUXBV8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398947507&sr=1-1&keywords=freckled+venom

 

Genre: Western adventure/romance
Publisher: Bearhead Publishing LLC