I hate computer “problems.” I’m betting you do too.
Last year, my 1 ½ year old laptop—a first for me—crashed. Like I turned it on, and nothing happened crash. I panicked. My books! My stories! My life!!!
I had a warranty on this laptop. I don’t buy warranties and a nice tech man put a new solid-state hard drive in. I sent the old hard drive off to have material retrieved (which, by the way, cost more to have done than the actual computer). Soon I was back in business.
But in the back of my head was “when is this going to happen again?”
Last week, my computer program was corrupted. I had everything saved, all was wiped, and restored. I had to spend several hours again to bring it up to speed.
Again, my brain went to the dark side— “when is this going to happen again?”
One week later, my laptop wasn’t running well. I determined to have the security software company run its scans. I’d paid for this premium service after the crash and could use as much as I wanted. Fortunately, what they found was no big deal (except in my head) and no virus had attacked it.
I’m still having thoughts of “when is this going to happen again?”
I don’t like living like that. Maybe that’s normal for laptop people. I’m not sure. I don’t watch movies, TV stuff, or do games. I write and buy handbags. So why me?
After a huge discussion with Handsome, I decided to buy a new laptop, but what kind?
So, I’m appealing to you and your computer knowledge…what kind of laptop do you like?
No problems here! Just lots and lots of laughs and happy every afters! “Some had me laughing out loud and others had me saying…awww. Quick little stories and a great way to escape from the stress of the day and just sit back and enjoy. Each story shows how two people meet. Sunshine, humor and heart all rolled into one enjoyable book.”
Yesterday was my day to blog, and I tried, really tried to write about the recent blowup in the writing world. I wrote and deleted two long, wordy attempts to address the horrors of people stealing a writer’s hard work, and how thieves and the dirty underbelly of the writing world affected me personally…then I gave up and put it away for the night.
Here instead, a day late, is the simple version.
Around a week ago, a plagiarist was caught stealing the work of over thirty writers. Bringing this to light also exposed other scammers and thieves preying on readers and writers, and the entire situation was mind-boggling enough… and then I discovered my books being offered for free on a pirate site.
And I started to wonder whether this writing gig was worth what it was costing me–literally, and figuratively.
Is it worth my time to try and compete for readers in a world where scammers hit bestseller lists with fake books? Where book stuffers collect thousands of dollars while real authors barely scrape by? Where readers have been conditioned to search for free or 99 cent books and don’t care if they are stolen?
And what about the dollars? Each book I publish costs me at least $2000 for editing, cover design, and basic marketing. Can I make that money back? Probably. But can I make enough to pay myself for even a small portion of the hundreds of hours I spend writing, revising, formatting, uploading, advertising…
Not when I can’t get my books noticed because the market is flooded with fake books, plagiarized work, and other scams.
So I’m considering other options right now. Considering going traditional. Giving up the creative control I cherish, for a chance at having a big publisher marketing my work.
Why? Because I love writing, I love giving readers an emotional experience, and I don’t want to quit. But seven years into self-publishing I’m still operating at a loss, and it is time for a change.
In the nature of one last ditch effort to get my work out there, I’ve put a six book bundle of books on sale for just 99 cents. Yep, the first SIX full-length books in my Intrepid Women series, for a grand total of $0.99 … Grab them HERE right now.
If you would like to find out more about the plagiarism and other scams, go to, Nora Roberts blog,Fall Into The Story. A kickass woman I have always admired, Nora lays it out beautifully…such a way with words!
Five years ago, I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and do something about it. You see, I’d recently moved away from home and was lost and lonely.
But, I had a dream.
One I’d carried in the back of my mind for years. I wanted to write a book. Deciding the genre was the easy part. Romance. I was an avid reader of romance novels. They took me to faraway places, fed my spirit and thrilled my heart.
Yep, romance it was.
Okay, now what?
I had a computer that I used for my bookkeeping, but had no idea how to use it as a writing tool. I needed to learn though, my lefty handwriting was atrocious- that wouldn’t work.
I searched online and found RWA® Romance Writers of America, a group of thousands geared toward helping authors better their craft. I also managed to find a local writing group and gathered up the courage to go to one of their meetings where I immediately felt at home. I joined both and began to take classes to learn the art.
It took time (I’m still a work-in-progress) but finally, FINALLY I published my first book in September of 2014.
I could barely contain the excitement blooming in my chest to see a book with MY name on it for sale. But then came the realization. People were going to read it. My heart and soul on those pages and they were all out there– I felt sick.
The reviews trickled in, some good, some not so much, but the addiction was born. I loved to write!
This week I’m celebrating that momentous moment by sharing my first book with you- free!
Nick jogged through the early morning streets, Jake trotting by his side, enjoying the peace and quiet before the town woke for the day. Little songbirds greeted him as he passed a cedar hedge on his way to the park. The air was fresh and cool at this hour. He was glad his strength had returned, his breathing even and stride long. It’d been an uphill battle. For a while after the ambush he’d shut down. Closed everyone out. He wished now he’d made it his business to keep in touch with all his old teammates. The faint sounds of a dog’s bark had Nick looking down at Jake, loping alongside. He’d healed up well, and only flinched at sudden loud noises these days. His hip had taken the brunt of the damage. When the explosion had thrown them, Nick worried he’d need to put him down, but he’d pulled through. Tough mutt.
After his run, he would head over to Sara’s and have a look at those files, see what they were looking at here. Nick had a bad feeling that Tommy boy was into some heavy shit. They needed to solve that first, before there could be a chance for him and Sara.
A sudden sharp pain stabbed him behind the eyes, causing him to falter. Jake whined, sensing his distress. Squinting through slit eyes he spotted a nearby bench, and slumped onto the seat. He pushed a shaky hand through his hair, and then using his thumb and middle finger squeezed in towards his nose, relieving the pressure. “It’s okay, boy. I’m fine. Let’s just take a little break, hmm.” The doctor had explained in excruciating detail while he lay in that hospital in Germany, how lucky he was. The explosion had hit him and sent him flying right up against the stone wall of a nearby house. Shrapnel had gouged a deep line on his forehead, right above his old bullet wound. A centimeter farther to the left and it would have been lights out, of the forever kind. Unfortunately, it’d taken his short-term memory away from him. He’d been told it would come back in dribbles, or one big slam––or maybe not ever. Nice. It angered him that he couldn’t break through the fog to discover the truth of what happened to him and his team. There was something there he could feel it.
He supposed he should be grateful he could remember his childhood, though those memories he could have lived without. Years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of his old man had sent him down nothing but a path of trouble during his high school years. Alcohol, substance abuse, vagrancy, you name it he tried it. His motto had been if you’re not living on the edge, you’re just taking up space.
Then he’d met Kendra in one of the few classes he’d decided to show up for and they’d fallen in love. She’d been the only child of lawyer parents, sweet and innocent. The odds had gone against him when they’d had unprotected sex on a hot summer’s night. She’d gotten pregnant. At least he’d done the right thing and proposed. And though her parents of course hated him, they agreed the marriage should take place. Maybe if they’d stopped it, or if he’d just walked away, Kendra and his son would still be alive today.
They’d been too young, and in the end, it tore them apart. He couldn’t even recall what the fight had been about––no doubt his lack of a ‘respectable’ job. He’d been working at a local garage at the time––all he did remember was getting up to answer the door, only to see two uniforms on the other side. Devastated, blaming himself, he spent the next couple of months shit-faced drunk. Coming out of an alcohol-induced daze one day he saw a poster for enlisting in the marines. Not caring much whether he lived or died at that point, he’d signed up. They sent him to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, where he met Jake. They’d been inseparable ever since.
The searing pressure eased enough for him to open his eyes. Jake sat with his head cocked to the side, his ears laid back in commiseration. Nick nudged him with his knee and gave his sides a good hard rub, Jake groaning his thanks. “Okay, big guy, what do you say to finishing our run?” He’d learned a long time ago that pushing through the pain was often the best medicine.
He had that in common with Sara. She’d gone through both a physical and a mental trauma that would have crushed most. She was doing great, but he bet a violation like that was something from which no woman ever fully recovered.
It humbled him that she had trusted him enough to allow him to make love to her last night. Nick would never hurt a hair on her head, but there was no real way for her to be sure of that. He hoped and prayed no one would ever crush her again, and swore to do everything in his power to make sure of that, starting with Sheridan. If those files contained half of what Sara had intimated they did, he’d need some help. Checking to make sure no one was around, he pulled his cell out of his sweats and made the call.
“Hey, Chief, how are you? It’s Nick, Nickolaus Kelley. Long time, sir, too long. Shit, I’ve missed the team. How’s the whizz kid?” A big grin split his face as he listened to Frank describing Jared’s latest and greatest.
“No kidding, trust Martin to take the term, Land of opportunity, to a whole new level, right?” He laughed. Man, it was good to talk to the chief again. Why did people always let the important ones in their lives fall to the wayside, while they went about the business of life?
He could well believe Jared had almost shut down the strip; the man was scary good with electronics. “I understand that you’re out of the loop these days, sir, but I was hoping I could ask you, and Jared if he’s still with you, for a helping hand. I have a situation here and could really use your input.”
Relief coursed through his veins at the quick response to his plea. “I’ll tell you all about it when you arrive. Tomorrow then, and thanks—Frank.”
Because I’ve been told many, many times that a writer should always stick to one genre, yet in the span of just a few months I’m releasing four books, in three different genres.
Because I write what I want to write. What I feel. I don’t write to the market. That is, I don’t write a book based on how well that particular genre is selling, or because that “subject” is hot right now.
Can’t do it.
I have always written for the sheer joy of it, and now, even though I have a following of readers who love my Romantic Suspense series–readers begging for the next book–I still follow my heart and write for the joy.
Somehow, that seems to work, and my readers are happy with my choices, so it’s a win for all of us.
How do I choose what will give me joy?
I don’t choose. Stories show up in my head as an opening scene and simply grow from there. Sometimes the scene is simple, sometimes complex, but they are always interesting.
MISSING, came to me as the simple, crystal clear moment when a mountain climber pops his head up over a ledge and comes face to face with a mamma bear and her two cubs…
DIAMONDS TO DIE FOR, began with two people sitting on a bench in front of a barn full of racehorses. It was early evening and all was peaceful, quiet but for the sounds of contented horses chewing hay, rustling about in their straw…
CALLISTA GOES COUNTRY began with a funny scene I can’t resist sharing with you.
Under normal circumstances, Callista Fontaine was mild-mannered, adjusted easily to whatever came her way, frequently laughed at herself, and only once in a blue moon raised her voice.
But normal was gone and her life in the city but a distant memory. Here she sat—at the butt crack of dawn—doing something she had never in a million years dreamed of doing.
Milking a goat.
And the baby goat, which she actually—God help her—delivered into the world only a few days earlier, was dancing a jig on her hunched back while nibbling on the tendrils of hair sticking out from under her hat.
CATS: A Heartwarming Collection of Furry Tales, Volume #5 began here:
Rain dripped from the edge of the overhang, barely missing Eddie where he was hunkered down, waiting out the storm.
He didn’t like storms, and really didn’t like being alone while thunder rolled and rain pelted from the sky.
Water was beginning to cover the ground and creep up toward him, making him feel like he would soon be sitting in a puddle.
He should have left when the other cats did.
In total, two Romantic Suspense, one Contemporary Romance, and one Collection of Short Stories.
Have I lost my mind?
And better still? I have a new opening scene tugging at me, and although I think it will be a mystery, I won’t know for sure until my fingers hit the keys and words become sentences…
Want to check out more books and other stuff I’m doing these days? (Yes, I’ve just added more author services to my list, and I’m having great fun helping out my fellow writers.) Pop on over to my website: https://kathrynjane.com/
Lately I am rushing, scurrying, and barely on the brink of being on time.
Why? Oh, that answer is simple. Because I’m a procrastinator and tend to overbook myself. So here I am, a day late with my blog post, and this time it is because I’ve been fighting to get my latest book published.
I had a deadline to upload to Amazon. Midnight on Sunday. And when I arrived home from doing a live event, skidded in the door and fired up the computer at 6pm, I got a nasty little message box that informed me I could not upload because the account was locked for pre-order.
I still had six hours!
So the messaging began. And all the Kindle Direct Publishing reps who have responded insist that I can now upload, but nope, when I push the appropriate buttons I get this
So…… What to do? Panic? Scream? Stomp my feet?
There is nothing constructive I can do but wait and work with the system. And promote book sales through the other channels. Yes, the book is now live with Apple, Nook, and Kobo, so Yay!
What book you say?
The first book of a fabulous new Shared World project called Copper Mills.
These are novellas by a whole bunch of different authors all writing about the same quaint town in Arizona. Releasing one a week for the next few months, mine, Callista Goes Country, is up first. Second and third are, Only this Tuesday by Melissa Keir, and Finding Her Way, by Deb Julienne.
Lisa Huffman is one of the authors in the group and is designing all the amazing covers for us, too!
Getting back to my dilemma.
What about the release date and plans for Callista?
The book is up and available live on three sites, APPLE ,NOOK, and KOBO, AND still as a preorder at the other. Here’s a little bit about the story you’ll get when you click on one of the links.
Callista Goes Country
Falling in love was not on the agenda.
Advertising executive Callista Fontaine has never backed down from a challenge and isn’t about to give in now. Taking over the operation of a small farm while her sister recovers from a spinal cord injury seems like the right thing to do, until she comes face to face with a dozen or so very smart goats, and a henhouse filled with more attitude than eggs.
Physiotherapist, Kevin Baker prides himself on getting his patients back up and running—literally—and is more than comfortable with being the guy everyone looks to for help. But the woman he most wants to impress doesn’t want or need his assistance and he’s challenged to find a way into her heart. When a modern day damsel doesn’t need a knight in shining armor… Will love still work if they’re standing shoulder to shoulder? And what kind of magic will it take to keep her from going back to the city?
Author Kathryn Jane writes the kind of stories she loves to read—fast-paced, and crammed full of love, life, laughter, and suspense. To find out more about her eclectic background, kindness projects and her wacky world filled with painting and writing projects slide on over to her website and check out the photos.
If you’re an indie author, like me, you know there’s a lot more to creating a successful marketing plan than writing the book. While an engrossing story is important, it doesn’t do you any good if no one knows about it.
Editing, beta reading and critique groups are a good start and a necessary set of steps in order to make your book baby look the best it can (on the inside.)
But what do you do after that?
GET A PROFESSIONAL COVER ARTIST!
I can’t say how many times I’ve been turned off of what could have been an award-winning story because of a weak cover.
One of the first things any potential buyer is drawn to, whether online, a library, or in a brick and mortar store is a standout cover. It is critically important that YOU, as a hard-working writer, DO NOT skip this important marketing step.
Okay, you have your masterpiece and the perfect frame for it, now what?
I recommend creating 5-6 memes that you can switch out in your social media posts. Try Canva or Covers Sell Books, both are great. Yes, you need to play nice on Facebook and Twitter 🙂
Seriously though, having a strong social media presence is crucial if you want to get the word out about your books.
Next, set up a newsletter–you’ve been building up subscribers at the same time you’re building SM contacts, right? :)–and send it out with the big news. It’s recommended not to push your sales, so take the time to be personable. Your followers want to know you, share a piece of you and they will respond, trust me!
We’re doing great!
Books are selling, reviews are trickling in, but then as time goes by the initial excitement wanes, now what?
Placing your book on sale is a good marketing strategy. Not only do you regenerate interest in the product you’re promoting, but it often gains you readers for the rest of your backlist, as well.
Again, this is where your growing social media connections can count. Rather than shoving the sale in their faces though, use those pretty memes you made and share them on Twitter and Facebook group pages in your chosen genre.
I also like to book professional sites to share my sale, such as ereader News Today, Book Gorilla, and ebook Discovery, to name a few. Just make sure to decide on a budget beforehand, and stick to it. Keep in mind that while on the dace of it, your sale book may not pay out the cost of the fees, subsequent sales on all your books will continue for days or weeks after as your name moves up in Amazon (or other retailers) algorithms.
Another choice you can make is upgrading to a new cover. Maybe, for whatever reason, the old cover isn’t doing its job of catching the attention of new readers. This is a guessing game, of course, but sometimes a cover with brighter colors, or a stronger image can make all the difference.
I’ve decided to take that course of action with my 1950’s murder mystery, Missing: The Lady Said No. The title was clunky, so I dropped the Missing and added An Augustus Grant Mystery subtitle to define the series.
The original cover was dark and moody, and didn’t explain the era as well as I wanted it to.
The new cover is flashy, using a bright, bold color palette and an eye-catching image that does a much better job of hinting at the genre and storyline.
JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love.
Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:
I am a woman, and therefore, as enlightened as I like to think I am, I still have a female point of view…which can sometimes be annoyingly skewed.
As a writer, I am often writing in a male point of view and like to think I do a damned good job of it because throughout my life I have worked side by side with many men, and have a decent understanding of how the male mind operates. Or so I thought.
But here’s the thing.
Readers constantly say they love how real, how authentic my male characters are. But are they? Or do I follow the myth of what women generally believe? Perhaps the men I create are the kind we would like to have in our lives.
The question then becomes, does it matter? Fiction is fiction after all, and creating characters a reader can love and relate to is what matters, right? Right!
But every once in a while I feel a need to validate my hero’s thoughts and actions and that’s when I do the scary thing. I ask a man. A real live, breathing male what he would have done in the same situation. What his thoughts might have been.
Sometimes I get the answer I want. Sometimes I don’t. But I always get something I can add to my understanding of the male mind, and often I get an answer that makes me laugh.
My hubby is my go-to guy for these questions because he’s one of those men who is totally stumped by a female perspective, which means I never get an answer tempered to fit the question.
Just now I did a test, for the fun of the blog. I asked him what color these scarves were. He said one was blue and the other was red. I see turquoise, and a reddish orange pattern on apricot which creates and overall burnt orange, but his male mind sees only the straightforward, none of the nuance.
Last week I had an important question for him. I came out of my writing cave and leaned on the door jamb. “Question,” I said, and he instantly gave me his attention because although he doesn’t read my books, he’s right into my writing and loves to help.
Me: “The hero has spent months trying to track down the woman he loves and finally finds her far from home, down and out, bone thin, and living on the streets. When he gets her to the safety of a hotel room, will he jump her bones?” (I asked this because it happened sort of like a celebration in the first draft of the story, but when I was editing it seemed insensitive.)
Hubby: “Is she asking for it or is he?”
Geeze, I hadn’t thought of that. Okay, I roll with it.
Me: “She wants it, but she’s skinny and looking pretty rough. Not attractive at all.”
Hubby: “He won’t say no.”
Me: “If she doesn’t want/ask/push for sex?”
Hubby: “He’ll look after her first. Wait until she does.”
And that, my friends, changed an entire scene in the book, and made it better. Much, much better! I realised that the heroine was going to want sex for validation of their relationship, to feel connected again, and that was yet another flaw in her I could explore.
It also added another facet to Jason’s personality. He was already a nurturing kind of man, but now he became aware of Kate’s need to use sex as… LOL… I’ll stop here and just say the title of the book is DIAMONDS TO DIE FOR, and it will be out at the end of September.
Meantime, MISSING—Broughton and Alexandra’s story is coming out in less than a month and is available for pre-order now.
Caleb Broughton is a man’s man, and the last thing he needs is a greener-than-grass new partner—especially a woman he’s been avoiding for months. But when a plane suddenly vanishes, nothing else matters.
My first book started as a journal of my experiences as a new EMT working on an ambulance. I wasn’t sure at first what I was going to do with those stories but I felt the need to save them. In a few years I went from EMT to Paramedic and the number of interesting experiences multiplied. I worked closely with a number of fire departments and worked in a firehouse for five years. During that time I became familiar with and close to many different firefighters, ER staff and co-workers who added color to the events. We celebrated our common successes and I was pained when one of them was sick or injured. The worst case, as you may expect, was when we would lose one, and that happened more than it should have. So, on it went through my career as it expanded to Paramedic Supervisor, Clinical Coordinator, ER tech and federal disaster worker. I’m not sure when it happened, but one day it occurred to me that these incidents and these people I cared so much about could be fictionalized in a novel. I realized I had an avid interest in letting readers know who these firefighter-paramedics really were and how the stresses of their work affected them. So, AJ Donovan was born along with his crew of colorful characters at Station 19 in Cedar Grove, California.
Mitch, the Captain, is kind and patient even with guys like AJ who are trying at times. Mitch’s best friend, Barney, is the engineer. Barney is an old Southern boy who shares his experience and advice with younger firefighters. Kevin is a young Irish-born EMT-firefighter who is short in stature but large in passion. Then there is slovenly Craig, the epitome of laziness. His favorite game is pushing AJ’s buttons. Chris is AJ’s partner and best friend. Divorced and a father of two, Chris only wants peace and love in his life but keeping AJ out of trouble is a challenge. Then there’s AJ, a product of a Native American mother and a Scot/Irish father. His mother died suddenly when we was three then he was led to believe his father had abandoned him. He left the reservation at 18 to find his way to California where he became the best rescue technician the department had ever seen. He’s great at his job, but his personal life is a hot mess. All his relationships fail because he’s so emotionally unavailable. A third firefighter-paramedic joins the team. Quin is young, fit and naturally beautiful but her focus is to be accepted as a woman, a firefighter and a paramedic in a man’s world. Her crew is put on notice that her first rule is “no dating co-workers”. It doesn’t stop AJ or even Chris, from falling for her.
Quin quickly impresses all of them with her confidence, talent and empathetic nature, especially Chris and AJ. Strong friendships are formed. The more she gets to know AJ, the more she discovers his issues: low self-esteem, a case of closet claustrophobia, undiagnosed PTSD and anger issues to name a few. After her first few weeks of employment a life-threatening incident puts AJ in the hospital. Quin not only saves him from a near drowning but stays by his side during a subsequent bout of pneumonia. That opens a door to trust that changes both their lives. Subsequent books follow their careers as AJ goes to medical school to become an ER doc and Quin climbs the ladder in the fire department. Later, AJ is introduced to disaster medicine and their first disaster deployment was, well, a disaster.
So, where do I come in? As the story followed its natural course, I began to realize how much of their lives paralleled mine. That was intentional in terms of their career experiences, but not so much in their personal traits. Quin honestly cares about the guys she works with. She took intensive training in critical incident stress management after her own experience left her with PTSD. Enough said on that. AJ prefers to eat whole foods and doesn’t eat sweets. Quin wears men’s style boxer briefs at work and will stay up at night feeding chicken soup to a sick partner. Chris is the kind of guy who never quits loving even after the relationship is gone. The state of people in a disaster situation tears AJ’s heart out. He’s an empath. Captain Mitch believes the team is what’s most important and discipline should come with respect. Kevin is as loyal as they come and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for those he considers friends. AJ is his role model. Barney is the elder, the wise, and cares deeply about the young ones. Craig is an ass. I guess we all have that side of us. So, how many of these traits are mine? I’m not telling, but all of them to some degree. Oh, I’m Scottish with a bit of Irish and was raised by a Native American.
My writing is contemporary and based on real people. Would these parallels be the same for someone who writes paranormal? What do you have in common with a vampire or dragon? I’ll bet if you dig deep enough you’ll find yourself in there somewhere. Is this a natural habit for all writers? I’d love to hear your take on this. Think about it. You might surprise yourself.
Though it may be way over commercialized, Valentine’s Day still fills even the most jaded heart with thoughts of how to celebrate a day meant for love.
That special candlelit dinner by the bay.
It’s no wonder romance writers pick Valentine’s and June for weddings as their favorite release dates!
Which made me wonder: do you like to read holiday romances at other times of the year? For example, Christmas stories. Do you sit on a warm summer beach and read about snowbound heiresses? Or, island getaway romances in the middle of a winter storm?
Are holiday romances a limited engagement?
It’s release day for Valentine!
Take two humans who pretend they can’t stand each other and one matchmaking canine and the fun is nonstop!
Val Hodgins is on the road to success. His architect firm handles some of the biggest contracts along the western seaboard. He doesn’t have time to babysit his aunt’s aging house or her pain in the butt dog, but when she falls ill with pneumonia he drops everything to go to her aid.
Sierra Johnson’s dreams of owning a catering company go up in smoke thanks to a bad choice in boyfriends. Now, she’s stuck working for a tyrannical boss, care-taking an aging townhouse, and being tormented by the owner’s aggravating, caustic, way-too-attractive nephew.
Will these two get over their prejudices in time to realize love comes without a price tag?
Val opened the door to the brownstone and ushered Norma Jean inside. What a fiasco. He was just glad it was over.
“Thanks for accepting my apologetic dinner. My aunt’s dog isn’t usually so…”
“Cute?” she supplied, smiling as he helped her remove her wet coat. Of course, it had to be pouring when they left the restaurant.
“Troublesome,” he corrected. Though really, he’d only been living here a week, so what did he know?
“It’s strange I never saw him here before your aunt became ill.” A horrified look crossed her pretty face. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”
He shrugged, uncomfortable. She couldn’t, he barely knew his great-aunt. “It’s fine, we aren’t that close.” He hung her jacket by the door. “Maybe next time we go out we can avoid setting off the fire alarms.”
He’d meant it as a joke, but when he turned and caught the hopeful expression in her sky-blue eyes he cursed his loose lips.
“That sounds amazing,” she sighed, then glanced down the hall. “Something smells good.”
Oh, hell. He’d left his roast slow-cooking while he took her out, but he hadn’t planned on the delay with the water sprinklers and the firemen who wanted to know what happened. He’d be lucky if it wasn’t beef jerky by now.
“Thanks,” he said. “I’m stocking the freezer for those days when I don’t want to cook after work. Do you want to join me for coffee and a sandwich?” he offered reluctantly.
She gazed longingly down the hall, but shook her head. “Maybe next time. I need to study, mid-terms are coming up soon.”
He sighed his relief. She was nice, and would make a great friend, but he wasn’t interested in anything else. He’d been burned by women enough to last a lifetime. He’d give love a pass.
“Okay, well… have a nice night,” he ventured, waiting for her to go up the stairs to her room.
She laughed softly and leaned close to brush his cheek with her cherry red lips. “Don’t try so hard,” she murmured, before sashaying away on the stilts she wore for shoes.
Val rubbed his jaw and strode down the hall. Maybe they could just be friends.
He entered the kitchen expecting smoke, and instead found himself staring at the shapely bottom of a woman bent over his oven basting his roast while the mutt who’d ruined his day sat nearby, a sloppy grin on its narrow face.