Summer Storms & Power Outages

I woke up Thursday morning – at 4:00 – to what I thought was an emergency vehicle parked somewhere near my house. I could see the flashing lights from both of my bedroom windows and was grateful they didn’t have their sirens going.

Then I realized it wasn’t an emergency vehicle at all. Nope. It was lightening. Constant lightening. I didn’t remember seeing anything about a storm and since that much cloud activity made me nervous, so I turned the computer on and, sure enough, we were in the middle of a severe thunderstorm warning. About that same time, the wind picked up and I went from nervous to scared in a split second. 

Seems I wasn’t the only one quaking in my slippers. I headed over to Facebook and found a few more people who had been rudely awakened by the severity of the storm. My mother told me later that day that one of her neighbors, a non-religious neighbor, wished she believed in something because she thought it was the end of the world.

No, it wasn’t the end of the world – but about two minutes before the worst of it passed – the lights flickered and went out.  And they stayed out. Not something I want to happen in the middle of summer.

Several hours later, several uncomfortably hot hours later, the power company recording finally had an estimate on when electric would be restored to my area. Nearly midnight … on Sunday.

Noooooooo!!!

That was more than forty-eight hours away – and it was going to be near ninety on Friday.

Long story short, they had it back on before 9:00 last night (Friday), thank God. I’m not sure what I’d have done if it had really been two more days. I’ve never been a summer lover because I don’t handle heat well – and this was no exception.

But what bothered me most was that I’d been making good progress on a couple of new stories. Stories stuck in my computer. You know – the one that won’t run without electricity.

But all is well now. My air conditioner is my BFF again, the washer and dryer are taking care of the week’s laundry, and I’m sitting at my keyboard and excited about getting back to work on the editing and adding a new scene here and there.

I’m also counting down the days until  October 1st, which (for me) marks the end of scary summer storms and 90-degree heat indexes end.

It’s 85 days … in case you were wondering. 🙂

Photo credit: Pixabay. And no, we didn’t get a hurricane yesterday morning – but the wind took down a lot of trees and hit 90 mph in some places.

Speaking of storms, have you read Holding On To Yesterday yet? A fan of time-travel romance, I was excited to write my first story in this genre and this book has a life changing storm, along with a little magic.

One fork in the road of life, two choices. The future is irrevocably, tragically altered when the wrong path is chosen. But then a second chance presents itself. A brief, impossible window of opportunity sends you back to that crucial moment. The clock is ticking. Time is running out. Will you be able to save the day, or are events from the past forever set in stone? ***Affiliate link(s) below*** (Explanation in Terms of Service)

When the woman he loved more than life wanted to take their relationship to the next level, Kyle Ferguson’s fear of marriage sent her running away from him. It was only then he realized he’d do whatever he had to in order to be with her, but before he could tell her how sorry he was, how wrong he’d been, Maggie died in a tragic accident.

Now, with the third anniversary of her death looming, is it possible a drunken wish might change the events of the past? Might allow him to save her? Might give him a second chance to make her his wife? Or is it all just a delusion brought on by too much alcohol and too many lonely nights?

Find out if wishes really can come true in the Wishes in Time story, Holding On To Yesterday.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KAW91J4?tag=httpkristynet-20

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AWOL For Too Long

When looking at my blogging history for the past year or so, I just kind of hang my head. I’ve blamed everything from life’s demands to having a hard time adjusting to having a baby/toddler in the house again. The truth is, those are only a small part of the reason why I’ve spent more time away from the blog and gotten almost nothing published.

The biggest reason is one I’ve clammed up about but since there seems to finally be a light at the end of the tunnel, I’ll explain. Briefly, because it feels too much like whining and I just want to get busy again.

Last spring (2016), I was sick for most of two months. It really fouled things up with my hypothyroidism and I’ve spent the time since then struggling to get to the place where I feel human again. And it’s been a challenge. What little energy I had – and believe me, it wasn’t anywhere near enough – was spent taking care of Aria. I wouldn’t trade that for the world, but there just wasn’t anything left over to spend on writing much of anything. Even Facebook was more than I could handle most days.

It’s hard to explain the absolute exhaustion that goes hand-in-hand with out of control hypothyroidism. But like I said, things are getting better. I’ve still got a ways to go but it’s looking like the first story in the Weko Harbor series might be ready by mid-August. And the second in the Double M series four to six weeks after that. I hope I’m actually being a little overly cautious and that they’re both out before those dates (and definitely not after!). 

Until then, I’ll try to do better both here and on Facebook. And I’ve also decided that sharing excerpts of some of my other books here.

This time, it’s book 1 from the Casteloria Series, Laying Low in Paradise. This particular scene ‘stars’ Cameron Rafferty, as well as Nolan Campbell (A Cool Summer in Paradise) and Finley Hughes (A Cold Day in Paradise). Individually, the books sell for $11.97. However, The Casteloria Series bundle is only $7.99, for a limited time. That’s all three books for the price of two. 🙂

Hope you enjoy the excerpt! 

He watched the boy called Sam bound out of the chalet and down the steps, hurrying to the beach. Glancing to the right, and then to his left, he appeared to be on the verge of panic, probably wondering where his mother had wandered off to.

Cameron noticed her heading out for a walk as he’d carried a cup of coffee out to the deck a couple of hours ago. She seemed like a conscientious parent and had surely let the boy know where she was going. Unless she’d expected to return before he’d woken up. If that had been the plan, she’d miscalculated how late her son would sleep.

Sam followed her footprints to the shore but the waves had long since erased any trace of the direction she’d taken. Now he looked a little scared and Cameron took pity on him.

“Excuse me,” he called, waving his hand at Sam. “If you’re looking for your mother, she was heading south when I came out this morning.”

“Thank you, sir,” Sam said, waving back before he started jogging off in that direction.

Cameron smiled a sad smile. He knew from unfortunate experience that when a child had experienced the loss of one parent, they tended to worry obsessively over the one who remained. And that, he was sure, was what fueled the fear so evident on the boy’s face.

“Where’s the kid going in such a rush?” Finley asked sarcastically, joining him at the table.

“Looking for his mother.”

“I thought we agreed that we wouldn’t initiate contact.”

“Oh for crying out loud, Fin He’s worried. I just pointed him in the right direction.”

“But-”

“No. I don’t care if you like it or not. Regardless of the circumstances, I won’t be party to a child suffering needlessly.”

“Fugitives don’t draw needless attention to themselves.”

Cameron rolled his eyes and sighed as Nolan Campbell strolled up the few steps to the deck.

With brown hair that hung past his shoulders, a perpetual days growth of whiskers, and an always-ready grin, Nolan was the polar opposite of Finley, with his short cropped, prematurely gray buzz cut, smoothly shaven face, and ever present scowl.

He supposed he, himself, fell about dead center between them, his dark blond hair not short by any stretch, but not particularly long either. Like Finley, he shaved daily and, like Nolan, smiled often.

Or at least he used to.

“Playing the drama queen again, Finley?” Nolan drawled joining them at the table, and taking a swig of Coke, his beverage of choice no matter what time of day it was.

“Just being cautious, unlike some people,” Finley snapped, crossing his arms over his chest like a petulant child. “Do any of you take this situation seriously? If we’re caught, we can kiss our butts good-bye. Do any of you get that?”

“I think we all get it. In fact, I believe that’s the sole reason we’re stuck on this island in the middle of nowhere with your ugly mug,” Nolan said. He glanced at Cameron, who was struggling to hide a smile. “What’s got him so bent out of shape on such a beautiful morning?”

“I had the nerve to talk to the boy next door.”

“Oh no!” Nolan gasped, clutching a hand to his chest, eyes wide. “You do realize that you just signed our death warrants, don’t you?” Cameron laughed when Finley glared at them, then got up and strode inside, slamming the French door behind him.

“You do enjoy goading him, don’t you?”

“It’s the highlight of my life,” Nolan said, chuckling. After another long swallow of soda, he asked, “How’s the tyrant this morning?”

“I looked in on him a while ago. He was still sleeping.”

“Or pretending to.”

“Or pretending to,” Cameron agreed, closing his eyes for a moment. “I don’t know what we should do about him. He doesn’t want to be here and he doesn’t want anyone bothering him.”

“I guess that’s just too bad, isn’t it? I’ll be bothering him in just a bit. He hasn’t managed to get hold of a gun since I saw him last night, has he?” Cameron snickered.

“At this point, I have no doubt he’d shoot us all, so I don’t leave them lying around where he can get to one. Don’t worry, Nolan, you’re safe from that fate. Today anyway.”

 

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Sneak Peek – Weko Harbor, book 1

Wow, I’m really losing track of time this year! Almost two months since my last post. Now that Aria is almost two, that child is running circles around me but we’re establishing a routine and I’m at a place where I’m starting to demand everyone else give me some space so I can start spending more time on my books. It’s not that I don’t love that little squirt more than anyone on the planet but I need to work too. And just because my job happens to be working at home doesn’t make it any less necessary that I do it.

Off topic for a second… Last year, Aria loved the Easter Bunny. This year, not so much. We couldn’t get her within five feet of him without her planting herself on the ground. 🙂

Back on topic…

The first book in my Weko Harbor series is finally coming along well. It helps that I’ve discovered that if I sneak into town with my phone, I can dictate parts of the story into an email and send it to myself. What I wind up with is often a hilarious mess and I have to try and remember what I actually wanted to say. I’ll be sharing some of the best ones on my Facebook page.

Here though, I’ll start sharing some snippets of the stories I’m working on. Yup. More than one. The Weko Harbor series, the Harper’s crossing series, and the Coach’s Boys and Enza prequels.

I’m also working on some short stories and hope to publish the first one next week. They’ll average 10-15,000 words and sell for .99 cents on Amazon – after I send them to members of my VIP Club. If you’d like to receive free copies of the short stories too, just click the link above and enter your email address. That’s all there is to it. 

But back to Weko Harbor. I thought I should explain a bit about the hero in this story. Wesley Cooper. Wesley, as you’ll soon find out, has a lot of growing up to do – so please don’t judge him too harshly. Trust me, he’s going to be just as surprised over his transformation as we will be.

Oh yeah. And if I haven’t already mentioned it, Weko is pronounced Way-co. It’s based on a real place called Weko Beach near a small town on Lake Michigan. That town will be partially factual and partially fictional – and will hopefully be a lot of fun.

And now for the snippet…

“Seriously? You’re pulling the twin card?”

“You signed me up for a marathon, Wes. What did you expect? That I’d just be okay with that?”

Wesley Cooper snickered, remembering the last minute meeting his brother’s boss had called. The problem was, it had been the same night he and Brenda planned to attend a concert. They’d bought the tickets weeks before and had been looking forward to it.

So, in a long established habit, he’d asked the favor. Pretend to be Chase for a few hours, take meticulous notes, and don’t get him in any trouble. But when Mr. Monroe had sent the signup form around the room for one of his pet fundraisers, the temptation had been too strong.

“Well, I didn’t expect you to thank me or anything.”

“I didn’t expect to be running my butt off for the next eight months trying to get ready for this thing. In case you’ve forgotten, brother, I don’t run.”

Locking his office door, Wesley laughed again, then sobered quickly. Having fun at Chase’s expense right now wasn’t going to help his argument.

“Yeah, I know but give me a break. Brenda’s cousin?”

“It’s not like we’re asking you to marry her,” Chase said patiently on the other end of the line. “Just even the numbers up a couple of times a week. Maybe take her out yourself once in a while.”

“So you’re asking me to date her.” His tone was flat as he stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the main floor.

“No. Just a kind of friend thing. She’s only going to be here for a few months.”

“Not dating?” He snorted in disgust. Take her out a couple of times a week for a few months? And it wasn’t dating? Yeah, right.

“Wes…”

“Listen,” he said, lowering his voice when the elevator dinged and the doors opened to the lobby. “I remember her visiting Brenda’s family when we were kids. She was a chunk with pimples and braces.”

“It’s gotta be ten years since she showed up at the youth group. The braces would be gone now, and most people outgrow acne.”

“Well that’s comforting.”

“You owe me, Wes,” Chase said, his voice low. Wesley held the phone between his shoulder and ear as he climbed into his car. “I’m stuck doing a 5k run because you thought signing me up was fun. Now I’m cashing in the card. You’d do the same thing if the situation was reversed and you know it.”

The whole twin card thing was getting old, he thought, dropping his head back against the seat. They’d been ‘trading’ it since they were kids. If one of them took advantage of the fact that they were identical, though only in looks, then the other had to do whatever the ‘victim’ decided was fair retribution.

“Dating Brenda’s cousin for the entire fall season is asking a little much, don’t you think?”

“I’m going to be running every day for the next eight months to get in shape for that marathon, baby brother, so no. I don’t think it’s asking too much.”

Maybe the whole marathon thing had been out of line, he admitted, but only to himself. He’d gotten a lot of laughs out of it though. But still…

“So why can’t this chick get her own dates? Does she look like Frankenstein? Or Frankenstein’s curvy sister?” Because usually, when friends or family badgered him into something like this, the girl wasn’t anything to write home about. And more often than not, she had a weight problem.

“I’m guessing it’s a weight thing,” Chase said reluctantly. “Brenda did say she was a really pretty girl.”

“And what’s this girl’s name?”

“Lainey.”

“Last name?”

“No clue. She’s only referred to her as Lainey. So are you going to do it?”

“How many dates?”

“I don’t know. Like I said, maybe two or three times a week. We’ll have to take her out and Brenda doesn’t want her feeling like a third wheel. But you have to be nice to her, Wes.”

“How nice?”

“I already told you, we don’t expect you to marry her so not that nice. But not rude or like you’re doing her a favor either.”

“Okay, fine.” Until they renegotiated the twin card, he didn’t really have any choice. Fair was fair. But they were going to discuss this at the first opportunity. “Will that square us up then?”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it. I’ll still have five or six months of running after she goes back to Ohio.”

“Whatever. But don’t push your luck.”

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A Little Nervous – and a Lot Excited!

A few weeks ago, fellow author Ruth Ann Nordin invited me to be part of a project for next year. A project that involves mail-order brides in the 1800s. Of course I said yes! And then I said, “yikes!”  I’ve only written two historicals – Reluctant Guardian (2011) and Enza (2012). Obviously, I’m a little rusty in all things past so I started researching and reading everything I could about the subject. Then, armed with all of this new knowledge … and my trusty copy of Everyday Life in the 1800s, I decided I needed to get some practice in.

And so the Harper’s Crossing Mail-Order Brides series is in the process of being born. I thought about setting it in the wild west, or in a state like Montana or North Dakota but decided on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Harsh winters, a largely unsettled territory, violent storms in Lake Superior, and pirates… What’s not to love about that mid-1800s setting?

Currently, I’m working on A Long Cold Winter and hoping for a release sometime in late March. Actually, I’m hoping for a lot earlier than that but I want to get it right so we’ll see. In the meantime, I thought I’d share the first (and maybe final) version of the blurb with you.

When a promise extracted by his dying sister leaves him a surrogate father to his infant niece, Ethan Barclay resolves to keep his word no matter how hard it might be. It’s not long though before he realizes cattle ranching and hauling a baby around on horseback in the bitter cold of a Keweenaw Peninsula winter isn’t going to work. Then an acquaintance suggests a solution so ridiculous his first instinct is to laugh. But looking at the innocent face of the baby in his arms, he wonders if it’s really so absurd after all.

Jessie Lockhart has always heard whispers about her parents frittering away their livelihood but she’s never believed it. Not until the day she overhears them planning to marry her off to the highest bidder. To a man who is older than her father.  A man who will be arriving in America in three months’ time. Desperate and willing to do almost anything to avoid her fate, Jessie begins to plan her escape. The question is, what – exactly – is she escaping to?

Can two people who marry for the wrong reasons find their way to love in Harper’s Crossing, a remote copper mining town on the banks of Lake Superior?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Saving Money Is Fun!

I’ve long dreamed of becoming a coupon queen. Of walking out of stores with $100.00 worth of groceries for $10.00. Of learning everything there is to know about sales, stacking, money makers, and all the stuff the greats in the coupon world seem to know. Stuff I can’t seem to grasp so needless to say, those dreams have eluded me for nine long years, since the first time I heard the term “extreme couponing.”

There have been no luxury vacations paid for because I consistently saved ninety percent on groceries and household necessities. No midnight blue Ford Expedition because I’m a penny pinching ninja.

Nope.

But now, thanks to fellow author Diana Layne, I’ve become acquainted with ibotta

Am I saving ninety percent on groceries? Not even close. In fact, it’s closer to eleven percent but you know what? Eleven percent is eleven percent and my daughter and I are having a blast saving it.

Before heading out to shop, you’ll find us both scouring our ibotta phone apps (necessary to earn cash back) and ‘unlocking’ deals at whichever store we’ll be visiting. So far, she’s earned $10.00 and I’m up to $11.00 – just by buying things like bread, milk, yogurt, eggs, egg rolls, frozen fish fillets, bananas, candies, laundry soap, shampoo, and diapers from two local stores.

The deals range from .25 cents to $4.00 – you can pair them with sale items!

We learned on our third trip to scan items before tossing them in the cart so we know they’re the right ones. Then, after checking out and paying, we scan the sales receipts – and that’s all there is to it.

Once your total reaches at least $20.00, and it’s easier to get there than you might think, you can have it transferred to PayPal, Venmo, or gift cards. I have PayPal and can either leave it there for online purchases or have it transferred to my bank.

Like so many others, I find I’m having to tighten my financial belt so I thought I’d share ibotta with you – and invite you to join my team. I’m not sure exactly how that works just yet but members can earn more on teams and with monthly bonuses. When I figure it out, I’ll share it here.

It doesn’t cost you anything and the only special equipment you need is a smart phone in order to start saving money on groceries you’re probably already be buying.

This is probably considered an affiliate link. Please see my Terms of Service for complete explanation. Long story short, I will earn a few dollars if you click the link and sign up.

Click on this link: https://ibotta.com/r/midexpi and use this code: midexpi to join my team.

If they’re still running the same promo I signed up with, they’ll pay you bonuses totaling $20.00 over three weeks – as long as you redeem at least one item each week. They’ll also give me up to $5.00 for each person who joins my team – and the same to you for each friend you refer for your team. 🙂

What are you doing to save money these days? Had you ever heard of ibotta before today?

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

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3 Really Good Romantic Movies!

What makes a movie romantic?  What is it that draws us in and keeps us glued to our seats, mindlessly munching buttery, artery clogging popcorn as we wait, breathlessly, for that final ‘aw’ inspiring scene?  That moment we know our time was well spent because we finally got our happily-ever-after fix.

The lead actor and actress have to be believable, for one thing.  Some very talented people in the industry would be ill-cast in a romance.  Can you imagine swooning over someone like PeeWee Herman?  Of course I never thought Adam Sandler had it in him either until I saw him in 50 First Dates.  And speaking of Adam Sandler, all I can say about his performance in Reign Over Me is…wow!!!  Well, well worth your time to watch!

But back to the subject at hand…

The guy can’t be a jerk.  Or if he is, he has to be changed by the end of the movie.  Same for the woman.  Sometimes, when we’re talking movies like Kate & Leopold we can only hope the guy doesn’t change.  Not even a little.  Leopold was perfect, start to finish and I think if we ladies could find a real-life Leopold to give lessons to ‘normal’ guys, we’d all be happier.  Maybe we could get Hugh Jackman to be the instructor.  Hugh Jackman would make me very happy.

But let’s get to my top three for today (and that top three could change in an instant, as soon as I remember other romances I love).

In third place, and I’m surprised I’m including this at all, is A Walk to Remember.  Usually I prefer a different sort of ending, but I’ll be good and not give away too much, for those who haven’t seen it yet.  Let me just say I’ll be watching it periodically for years.  Or until my DVD wears out.

I wanted to post a specific scene but every video was embedded (which is extremely annoying!).  So I had to settle for the trailer.

It’s really a toss up for second place. Both star Sandra Bullock. She is one of my very favorite actresses and I own more of her movies than I can even remember.

The Proposal shot to the favorites list the moment my daughter and I saw it at the theater.  What’s not to like about this romantic comedy?  I mean, c’mon.  It stars Ryan Reynolds.  It has some of the funniest scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, most notably the ‘chant’ scene with Betty White.  However, please note that this movie is not suitable for all ages.

And the top spot goes to…My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend. I’ve loved this movie since first seeing it maybe two years ago. In fact, I loved it so much I watched it three times in as many days. The ending is absolutely fabulous!

So now that I’ve shared with you some scenes from a few of my favorite romantic movies, I hope you’ll share your top three picks with me.  Chances are they will make my favorites list, too.

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Merry Christmas Wishes To You

For those who celebrate other holidays, I hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family. For those who don’t celebrate anything, then I will wish for you a fun or relaxing day, whichever you’re most in need of. For those who do celebrate Christmas, here’s my 2016 video greeting card to all of you.

Posted in Christmas | 2 Comments

Overdo Makeovers

Yes, everyone, makeovers. When people tell you that your 2010s romance novels look like throwbacks to the 80s, it’s time to do something about it. So I did – and I’m excited to introduce you to the new Coach’s Boys covers! They’ll be updated at Amazon and on my website in the next few days. 

Love them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

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Doing the Right Thing Isn’t Always Easy

climbing-via-dellamicizia-1512147_1920-pixabayApparently, I’m unable to focus my blog on a single subject. I’ve tried numerous times since mid-2011 … and failed every time. If I can’t share what I want when I want, I get bored. And when I’m bored, I don’t feel like blogging. So I’m not just going to focus on writing. I love sharing the sneak peeks of my stories. The character profiles? Not so much. At least not for secondary characters. Those would be considerably shorter because, well, they’re not my main characters.

I also enjoy sharing my thoughts, stuff that’s going on in my life and with my family … and anyone who’s stuck with me knows I love to share information about good health and all things gluten-free and relating to the thyroid.

So I’m just going to keep doing that, especially since I’m making some big changes for my health again. 

About a month ago, I confessed to spending most of the past eighteen (or more!) months eating gluten-containing foods. But even after realizing it was the biggest cause for the extreme fatigue I’ve been dealing with this year, I couldn’t force myself to give it up again. Not even after announcing what a wimp I am in my November 5th post.

So I kept adding to my gluten-free food stash, hoping that seeing the boxes and bags of foods I’d grown accustomed to over the past several years would help get me on track again. But making a major change in your diet can be difficult, especially when the foods you’re eliminating taste better and are a lot cheaper?

Unfortunately, there was no getting around the fact that I’ve been feeling awful. For months and months. I tried to blame it on having a baby (now a toddler) in the house again but that wasn’t it. Not even with Aria’s crazy schedule – because it pretty much lined up with my crazy schedule.

It’s the gluten – and I know it.

So I finally put on my big girl panties … and gave it up again yesterday. Two days off it now and while I’m not noticing anything dramatic, the feeling that my lungs are burning, that the Hulk is squeezing them after eating gluten and walking anywhere was greatly reduced today.

I’m keeping a journal I’ll be sharing here. Stop rolling your eyes, please. My experiences may well help someone going through the same kind of thing. There’s also the fact that it’s because of old blog posts about my gluten-free journey that opened my eyes to the fact that this time, since March of 2015, I’ve been making a conscious choice to damage my body.

And so I’m not going to do that anymore. Is it fun? Nope. Do I dread the reactions of family and friends who always acted like I was being a paranoid diva about food? Yup. Will I enjoy going to family potlucks and having to pass on lifetime favorites? Not at all.

Will it be worth it to feel better again? To be able to concentrate enough to write more? You betcha!


Seems kind of appropriate given that dealing being gluten-free is a huge mountain in my life – and one I should have conquered by now.

btm-of-blog-pgs-final

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Sneak Peek – Weko 1 – Lainey Lawson

The holiday – and my first (hopefully last) experience with driving a ten foot U-Haul truck 170 miles means I’m posting this a day late. Yup. I now consider myself to be an honorary truck driver. Just because it wasn’t a semi doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big truck. Bigger than my van anyway.

So why did I drive a U-Haul? My daughter had to pick up the rest of her stuff from where she’d been living near Lake Michigan. She was totally up for giving it a shot but it was rainy, the day before a holiday, and the freeway was packed with nearly end-to-end vehicles. So I told her I’d do it. I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect but it wasn’t much different than driving a regular vehicle. A little more uncomfortable, especially after being stuck in a twenty-mile backup but we won’t get into that.

And how was your Thanksgiving? 😀

Okay. Before we get to the sneak peek, I wanted to share a video about a subject Lainey makes reference to. I decided I should provide proof that people actually do surf in Lake Michigan.

~~~~~

Lainey probably set a speed record for shortest shower time in the history of showers, but after getting a good look in the mirror, she decided she needed to do some damage control. She’d just met two extremely good looking men—while wearing a sweat covered tee shirt, her sable brown ponytail wet and plastered to her neck. Definitely not an impression she ever wanted to make.

Wasting no time, she slipped into a pair of clean underwear, carefully but quickly brushed her hair out, then spent the next three minutes drying it as best she could. Since it hung to the middle of her back when loose, and there was plenty of it, she had to settle for slightly damp, clipping it back on the sides before slipping into a pair of denim capris and a soft white tank top. As an afterthought, she added a pair of red clip on earrings and a matching necklace. Glancing in the mirror on her way back to the kitchen, she was pleased with her ten minute transformation.

“What can I do to help?” she asked. Brenda was sitting at the counter putting a cheese and cracker plate together. The guys were nowhere to be seen.

“Just relax, cuz. Chase and Wesley are starting the coals, the burgers are ready in the refrigerator. All that’s left is the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, but we’ve got plenty of time to get those ready.”

“I’ll just do it now, if that’s okay. I’ve been sitting most of the day.” And it was true, first in her car, then on the bike. Brenda nodded and she started rinsing the produce lying on the counter next to the sink.

“So what do you think of the grownup Cooper twins?”

“Well, other than the fact that they look a little like the guy from P.S., I Love You, they seemed nice enough.”

“They really are. Well, Chase is. I haven’t been around Wesley enough to know him well but I’ve been assured he doesn’t bite.”

“It doesn’t matter to me whether he does or not,” she said, laughing nervously. “Like I told you, I’m not interested in anything more than friends. Even if I was, one, I won’t be here long enough to do anything about it. And two, it’s been my experience that guys who look like that are definitely not into curvy girls.”

“You’re not curvy,” Brenda protested without the slightest hesitation. She’d always been her champion since they were kids and it didn’t seem like it was ever going to change. “You’re gorgeous. You always have been.”

“I don’t know that I’d go quite that far, but thanks.”

Lainey had been involved in three long term relationships with good looking, well-built men and had, in fact, been proposed to twice. But something had been missing and she’d regretfully turned them down. For as long as she could remember, she’d believed in the whole knight in shining armor, happily-ever-after thing—and she wasn’t settling for less.

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