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Archive for April, 2021

We’ve talked about Esperance and Lady Calloway, but what’s up next for Gambler’s Folly?

Old Flame

They were friends in university thirty years ago, though they never dated. They were simply friends with no strings, no desires beyond that. His family had money to burn while she struggled to make ends meet.

Who would guess that thirty years down the road, with him single and her a widow, they would meet on their way to Gambler’s Folly?

And who would have guessed an attraction, which had been absent in their university days, would suddenly blossom?

Meet Kort Behrens, multi-millionaire tycoon. His family made it big in electronics with the development of a new drive for interstellar shuttles, along with other inventions and developments along the way. After two failed marriages, he’s decided not to risk any more entanglements. Women only wanted to be with him for the money and prestige.

Elizabeth’s husband died four years ago and she has secluded herself in her little mountain home seeing only her Reiki clients and any neighbors who stop by. She has her cat, Puzzle, for company and hasn’t even considered dating, let alone remarrying.

During an altercation in the hotel the night before her flight to Houston to catch the shuttle, a voice from her past intercedes on her behalf. Warm strong hands on her shoulders comfort her as he deals with the situation. But she was not prepared to see her old friend, Kort, alive and in person. And since she rarely listened to the news or paid much attention to the society rags, she didn’t realize that the young man she’d known at uni was the powerful bachelor billionaire in today’s world.

Neither was Kort prepared for their meeting, or for the feelings he developed during their flight to Gambler’s Folly. But he is determined to show her a good time on one of his favorite worlds. If nothing else, he could help her come back out and learn to live again.

Old Flame hasn’t made it to the editor yet, but how about a brief excerpt?

OLD FLAME

Gambler’s Folly Book 4

Checking her reflection in the mirror, she decided she didn’t look bad for a woman of her age. Her hair was beginning to gray a little, but it didn’t show too much in her blond hair. With a final tug at the skirt of her black dress, she slipped on pumps and took the lift to the third floor dining room. She preferred a table which wasn’t out in the open, so it took her a minute to get situated. Once seated, she took a deep breath and began to peruse the menu. 

“Excuse me, Mrs. Murphy?”

Staring up at the stranger, she said, “I’m Elizabeth Murphy, yes.”

“It’s about time we met,” the man sneered.

“I don’t know you,” she answered. “What do you want?”

“You may not know me, but you have received several letters from my boss concerning a debt of $10,000. We haven’t received your payment yet.”

“You’re with them? I’ve written back and explained everything to your boss. I don’t know what the debt is for, and I can’t get the money to pay it.”

“May I remind you of a trust your late husband set up for you that you can borrow money against?” the man asked.

“How do you know about that? There is nothing I can do. Go and talk to the attorney who administers the trust. If your claim is legitimate, I’m sure he’ll do what’s right.”

“Mrs. Murphy, it isn’t wise to anger the people I work for. I suggest you find a way to get the money and pay us what you owe.”

“Look,” she said, beginning to panic. “I don’t know who you are, or who your boss is, but I’ve never owed anyone that kind of money in my life. And I can’t imagine Joe did either.”

“Mrs. Murphy,” he began again.

“No! Go away. Go talk to the attorney, but leave me alone.”

Her whole attention had been on the man across the table, but she suddenly felt warm, strong hands on her shoulders.

“Listen, friend,” a deep and vaguely familiar voice said. “You have the lady’s answer. Anything more from you is harassment. Call it a night.”

“This is none of your business. It’s a private affair. Go away.”

“Your private affair became my business when you shouted it across the dining room. You are bullying this poor woman, who I understand has lost her husband. Say good night.”

“Listen, buddy, I don’t know who you think you are, but I can make big trouble for you,” the man threatened.

One of the hands lifted from her shoulder and she heard the man behind her speak into his com.

“Security? Behrens here. I need to have someone escorted off the property from the third floor dining room. I’ve sent a photo.”

“You can’t do that!” the man across the table shouted.

“I think you’ll find I can,” he answered as his hand returned to her shoulder. Liz felt so much safer with him here.

Almost immediately, two security guards from the hotel came down and took the man into custody.

“Anything else, sir?” one of them asked.

“No, thank you. He was making a nuisance of himself and upsetting this lady. We were going to have dinner.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

As they took the man away, Liz felt drained and slumped into her chair. The hands left her shoulders, and the man came around to kneel in front of her.

“I’m sorry your stay here has been marred,” he said and then stopped abruptly, looking startled. “Liz? I mean, are you Elizabeth Stockton?”

Looking up into dazzling blue eyes that could belong to nobody else, she asked, “Kort? Is that you?”

“Yes. Liz, what are you doing in my neck of the woods?”

For some unknown reason, she sprang out of her chair and threw her arms around him. Tears she’d held back began to trickle down her face.

“Hey, it’s all right. I’ve got you. You’re going to mess up your makeup,” he told her softly.

Forcing herself to give him some space, she dabbed at the tears with the handkerchief he offered.

“I’m Elizabeth Murphy now. Our kids sent me tickets for my birthday, so I could come visit them.”

“How many kids do you have?” he asked.

“Two, a son and a daughter. Our daughter has two sons, who are eight and ten. What about you?”

“No. I married right after university, but it didn’t work out. A few years later, I tried again, and it lasted less than a year. I’ve been a bachelor most of the time since we last saw each other.”

“That’s a shame,” Liz said. “You were always such a sweet guy.”

With a hearty laugh, which was as delightful and sincere as she remembered, he said, “I know quite a few people who would disagree with you. Would you join me for dinner? We could catch up on old times.”

Seated comfortably at his table, she picked up the menu and began to look for something relatively inexpensive. She knew it was included in her holiday package, but she hated to waste money, even if it wasn’t coming out of her wallet..

“Liz, get whatever you like. It’s on me tonight,” Kort told her.

“Oh, no. I couldn’t,” she insisted. “Anyway, I’m sure you’ve got better things to do with your money.”

“Not really. I have loads of the stuff. Why not enjoy it?”

“Seriously? What do you do for a living?”

The look he gave her was part amusement and part surprise before he asked, “Do you watch the news?”

“Yes. Well, not watch. I listen to the news while I putter. Why?”

And then her mind put the facts together and she began to sputter.

“Oh! You’re that Kort Behrens–the billionaire who is always on TV?”

“Right in one,” he said with a smile. “How many Kort Behrens do you know?”

“Oh, Kort, or Mr. Behrens, you must have better things to do than entertain me. I’ll go order something from room service. Thank you for your help and everything,” she said as she began to push her chair away from the table.

“Liz, sit down. Please,” he insisted firmly. “I may be wealthy, but I love to visit with old friends. People who knew me before the media splashed my life all over the world.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. “I don’t even know how to talk to you. I can’t believe the Kort Behrens I knew became one of the wealthiest people on Earth.”

“Sit down. Forget the money. I’m Kort, Liz, the guy who almost lost you over a balcony one night.”

“Oh my gosh! I’d almost forgotten that dance.”

“It wasn’t one of my better moments,” he said.

“Nice save, though,” she added.

“Thank you.”

They talked over dinner and wine before he suggested a walk around the gardens. She had forgotten how big the man was. He towered over her. If he was anything like he’d been at university, there was no fat concealed under his three piece suit. It was all washboard muscle. It was a good thing he had such a mild mannered way.

“Are you headed back east tomorrow?” he asked her.

“It’s sort of funny, considering I don’t travel much, but I’m not. I’m headed to Houston.”

“What’s in Houston?”

“The kids bought me a vacation package—transportation and four weeks of vacation on Gambler’s Folly.”

“Five o’clock shuttle?” he asked with a curious look.

“Yes, as a matter of fact. Why?”

“This is quite a coincidence. I’m booked on the same shuttle.”

“To Gambler’s Folly? You’re kidding,” she said in amazement.

“What flight are you on tomorrow morning?” he asked.

“I’m on the ten o’clock Delta flight. Why?”

“I can call and have your money refunded if you’d rather fly with me. There are fewer lines and hassles when you fly corporate.”

“Seriously? Won’t I be in your way?”

“Not at all. Once I get to Gambler’s Folly I’ll have a couple things to check on for business, but for the rest of the time, I’m on vacation. Just plain old rest and relaxation.”

“I don’t know, Kort,” she said, hesitantly.

“Say yes, Liz. It’ll be fun.”

“If you’re sure,” she told him, not sure why she was agreeing.

“Perfect! I’ll have my driver get your luggage in the morning. We need to leave by nine-thirty, which will get us into Houston early enough to have a late lunch before we go on to the Spaceport. Do you have all your paperwork ready?”

“Yes, Kate and I made sure of that before she left the hotel.”

They chatted all the way back to the hotel, where they were besieged by people with cameras.

“Is this a new girlfriend, Mr. Behrens?” one of the reporters asked.

“No, Liz is an old flame from my university days. Say hello, Liz,” he said with a smile.

“Hello,” she managed as Kort turned away from the reporters and entered the hotel.

“Sorry about that. I hadn’t expected them so soon. I’m glad we’ll be off planet tomorrow night. By the time we get back, they’ll have something else to talk about, hopefully.”

“I hope so. I never thought about reporters,” she said, still a little shaken. “Old flame?”

He grinned widely at her expression, winked at her, and put his arm around her shoulders. When they got to her room, he looked deeply into her eyes for a moment.

 “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said before he pressed a warm, gentle kiss to her cheek. “Sweet dreams, Liz.”

It may be just a little while before this is ready to be published, but it is in the process.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

And as always

Don’t Forget…

…to Share the Romance.

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And that is a very good question. Where do authors and artists get their ideas?

And for me, it depends on which book we’re talking about. Some of mine have come from recurring dreams of a particular scene. Jareth, First Lord is a good example. I kept dreaming a particular scene over and over until a sat down and wrote the scene out. Of course I then had to figure out where in the story this particular bit occurred, but this was my starting point.

Some start with a “what if” sort of idea, such as Gambler’s Folly. I heard a particular song and wondered how this sort of thing could happen now or in the future. What if…?

But Master of the Fleet was a bit different. For several years I participated in a group called the SCA–Society for Creative Anachronism. The people in this group learned skills used during the middle ages and met to practice their particular skill. I was a musician. Mostly I played in a recorder consort, but sometimes I sang and composed little ditties about the places I’d been.

It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about the various skills the people during that time used in their lives.

And I loved watching the fighters. Some fought with sword and shield, others with staffs. Some wore leather armour, others chain mail. Watching someone painstakingly make chain mail is an education in itself.

So one day as I was daydreaming about this and that, I came up with a scenario for entertainment at a high feast. A scene that would play out in the performance area in front of the high table, which should shock yet entertain those gathered there.

It began with an argument between a man and his lady over something silly, until tempers flared and blades were drawn. As the disagreement escalated, her blade was thrown clear before she was backed up to the baron’s table, sword tip at her throat, as the man demanded justice.

As these things go, it eventually ended up as a book, and while it is in the first chapter, it is only the beginning of the story. There were a lot of questions I had about this relationship.

Why were they at the feast?

Why were they arguing?

Why did they marry, and what about the blood oath which bound them together?

Do they ever find happiness?

What is a weather shaper? And where does magic fit into this picture?

Ready to find out?

How about a short excerpt?

MASTER OF THE FLEET

Richard was angrier than he had ever been. How had she used him for so long without him noticing the hints he should have seen? After a year of courting, he had asked her to marry him, but she’d begged for more time. He’d decided to ask her again, here at the festival. He was so certain of her acceptance, he had bought a ring for their betrothal.

She had never intended to marry him. She had simply used her charms to get what she wanted. When the source dried up, she would have left him for greener fields. Use him would she? He would show her what it was to be used, and he had half a lifetime to make his point. As soon as the priest got here, she would be bound to him, not only by her oath to him and the blood oath, but by her vow to heaven as well.

Master of the Fleet is available at Amazon, at Smashwords, and most major book sellers.

So if you’re ready for a little magic, check out Master of the Fleet, written under my pen name, Sultonna Nadine!

And as always…

Don’t forget…

…to Share the Romance…

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I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expecting below freezing temperatures this time of year down here in the American Southeast. Last week we had highs around 80 degrees outside with night time temperatures in the 50’s. So yesterday’s high in the low 50’s followed by below freezing temperatures was a shock to my system.

And then there were the tomato plants we set out, thinking warm weather had arrived. I managed to get them dug back out of the garden, put into pots, and back in the greenhouse before the chill hit. With any luck they’ll survive all the disruption.

So what am I doing as far as writing?

LADY CALLOWAY

I’ve finally figured out how to wrap it up, which has been my hold up on this particular project. The lady is being quite obstinate about cooperating with me.

Not that her husband is any better.

However, with a little luck, Lady Calloway should be finished by the end of next week. Unless she decides to pull another stunt I’m not expecting.

In the meantime, my editor is looking over the next book in the Esperance series–Too Many Talents. This story picks up right after Viviane, First Lady, continuing Viviane’s story and bringing in the new heir of Clan Belfort–a little boy of almost 11, who is not necessarily happy about it.

While it seems having paranormal Talents would be fun, getting a handle on them can be quite a pain. Just ask Viviane and Connell.

Want a bit of a peek?

TOO MANY TALENTS

Viviane–First Lady of Clan Brannach

“Viviane, Duncan is worried about you and has me worried, too.”  

“Worried? Whatever for?” she asked.

“I know how you feel about your Talents, but hiding from them isn’t the answer. And neither is running away and pretending they don’t exist. Duncan and I feel the loss of control you are experiencing is coming from something besides the porting aspect of your Talents.”

“I don’t know what you mean, Jareth,” she answered sharply.

 “Yes, you do, Viviane. Since we’ve been home you’ve been resisting your Talents, and fighting them, especially during training. They will win in the end. In the meantime your control will get worse and worse, until it is manifesting more unpredictably, even when you’re not working with it. With the strengths you have, you will hurt someone, while trying to deny your heritage.”

“But Jareth…”

“Your Talents have to be trained,” he stated emphatically. “There is no escape from it. You have to let go of your fears and put your entire will into your training. It’s the only way to gain control before you do irreparable harm.”

“I don’t want these Talents, Jareth! I never have! Why won’t they go away and leave me alone?”

“We may never know the answer as to why they developed, but since they have, you must treat them responsibly. You wouldn’t hand a child a live blade and expect him to use it properly, would you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Your Talents are exponentially more dangerous than the deadliest blade ever forged. Just as it would be irresponsible to hand a child a sword and let him run through the house with it, chasing the staff, and playing guard, it is ever so much more dangerous to have you, with so much untrained Talent, manifesting uncontrolled.”

Connell, Heir of Belfort

“But Mom, why do I have to go live with Grandpa? I want to stay here with you,” Connell complained for the hundredth time.

“You know why, young man,” his mother scolded. “And as soon as your father and I can take care of everything here, we’ll join you.”

“But how long will that be?” he asked, rolling his blue eyes at her. “I don’t know why we have to go anyway. I don’t want to be First Lord.”

“Now that is enough. We don’t have time for this. You’re ten years old and you know better.”

“I’m almost eleven,” he countered.

“Then start acting like it,” his mother snapped, exasperation beginning to show.

“But what about all my friends? I won’t have any friends there,” he continued.

“I’m sure you’ll make new friends.”

“But I like my old ones.”

“Connell, find something to do besides complain, or I’ll find something for you to do.”

“Fine!”

The little boy of almost eleven spun on his heel and ran out the door. Arriving at his favorite spot by the stream, he dropped down onto a large gray boulder and fought back the tears. No, he would not cry. Selecting a flat stone from the bank, he skipped it expertly across the water.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been there before he heard someone behind him.

“Connell? Can I sit with you?”

Great! The voice could only be little Nell. She was all right for a girl, but, well, she was a girl. And she was always trying to help him with whatever he was doing. Two years younger than he was, they’d grown up together in the village, and he’d always liked her, even though she could be annoying.

“I guess. Sure,” he answered with a sigh.

He turned to give the little blonde, blue-eyed girl a hand so she wouldn’t slip on the bank. Once seated on the rock bench, she smoothed her flowered frock down over her knees.

“What are you doing down here? I thought you guys were moving.”

“Mom’s mad and told me to find something to do. So I came down to skip stones.”

“I could never do that. Can you show me?”

Even if she was a girl, Nell took his mind away from his problems. They skipped stones until the light began to fade.

“We should probably go back, Nell,” he told the little girl. “Mom was mad before I came down here. If I’m too late getting back, it won’t help anything.”

“Will I see you before you go, Connell?” she asked.

“I guess. We’ll be here a few days yet, and anyway, I’ll come back sometimes.”

“Can I still be your friend when you’re First Lord?”

“Of course. Why couldn’t you?”

“I don’t know. I just wondered. Thanks, Connell.”

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