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Silver sweater.1

Yeah, sitting here listening to the rain come down. I think my house needs pontoons.

So, what do you do when it’s a dark and rainy day outside? I’m trying to decide between knitting and reading. I have a knitting project started for a friend who’s expecting this fall. But my “to read” list is backing up also.

Decision, decisions…

What are you reading today?

Come with me to the Cote d’Or to visit with Richard and Anne-Marie. Set in an alternate timeline of the American Northwest, it is a tale of an America with a much stronger French influence, with kingdoms rather than states, and where magic is real.

Richard shapes wind and water in his capacity as master of the fleet for his family’s shipping firm. While he has master over these elements, a woman rules his heart. A woman who’s heart he hopes to win.

So let’s go for a visit, shall we, and leave all this rain behind.

Master of the Fleet

Who owns your passion

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Yes, we have an ice cold drizzle falling here today. I’m sure the rain is good for the garden, but I would love a day or two of sunshine.

How about an excerpt?

From GAMBLER’S FOLLY

Karianna woke to the sound of raindrops on the balcony. She had always liked the rain, and had often taken long walks under an umbrella to enjoy the quiet. Tossing the covers back, she rolled out of bed, put on her dressing gown, and went to watch the rain.

Damiano paced the floor, every inch an angry cat. His kiss was brief and unsatisfying, the hug nearly an afterthought. “What’s wrong, honey?”

“Nasty weather. Rain is depressing.”

“You don’t like the rain?” she asked.

“No.”

“Can you elaborate? I always thought it was kind of nice. So quiet and restful, unless there’s thunder.”

“Elaborate?” he snarled. “Fine. It is wet, it makes spots on my clothes, ruins my shoes and makes my fur all matted and smelly.”

She couldn’t contain her amusement at the image of a large black leopard dripping with water, ears laid back, and snarling at the sky.

“It’s not funny,” Damiano protested. “First I get wet, and then I have to get even wetter to get clean. Most annoying.”

“But you love to swim or take a bubble bath. Why don’t you like the rain? It’s like a shower.”

“It isn’t anything like a shower. It’s cold, you can’t turn it off, and it makes nasty puddles everywhere.”

“Alright, so we won’t go out sightseeing today. We can stay in and relax.”

“How can I relax with that noise?”

“Really, Dam, it’s not that loud. We can put on some music or watch a movie.” After waiting for some sort of answer, she gave up on conversation. “Fine. I’m making some coffee. If you want any, come in the kitchen.”

Still chuckling to herself, Karianna turned on the tap, let the water run so it would be fresh, and put a coffee packet into the machine. Pushing the button to turn it on, she heard it filling. So she closed the tap in the sink and went in to relax on the sofa until the coffee was ready.

Her usually even-tempered husband stood, arms crossed over his chest, glaring out the glass doors at the pouring rain. If he’d been in his cat form, his ears would have been laid flat against his head, tail lashing.

“Damiano, if you don’t like the weather, draw the drapes and come sit down.” She heard a low, chesty growl in return. “Don’t you growl at me, Damiano Leone. I’ll come over and smack your nose again.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” he retorted, his head snapping around.

“Well, I’m not going to stay in all day with a sulky leopard. So either close the drapes and shut out the rain, or go back to bed and sleep it off. But don’t ruin my day being snarky.”

“If you like the rain so much, why don’t you go for a walk and let me sulk? And if you get all wet and filthy, don’t complain to me about it.”

“I do not believe what I’m hearing. One of the most powerful men on the planet, and a great big leopard as well, and you’re put off by a little water falling from the sky? Really, Tiger, get a grip.”

The sound of the coffeemaker turning off got her attention, so she stormed back to the kitchen, trying to control her temper. Pouring a cup of the aromatic brew, she took it back into the living room, so she could stretch out on the sofa.

Sniffing the air, Damiano watched her get comfortable before asking, “Did you bring me any coffee?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“But I always have coffee in the morning,” he said, whining.

“When you can be civil, I’ll bring you some coffee. If you can’t be civil, get it yourself. I don’t cater to spoiled brats. Or cats.”

She might as well have slapped him from the look he gave her. Stomping into the bedroom, he slammed the door. “Well,” she murmured under her breath. “Great big pussycat has his tail in a knot this morning.”

“I’m not a pussycat and my tail is not in a knot,” he shouted through the door. “But I have very good hearing.”

“Then hear this, pussycat,” she shouted back. “You can either get over your damn self, or you’re in time-out. I will not put up with this.”

After her third cup of coffee and a couple croissants, the bedroom door opened and Damiano stepped back into the room. She ignored him.

“Karianna,” she heard, in a gentle, apologetic tone. “I’m sorry, Karianna. The rain and the darkness, they put me in a bad mood.”

“Did you have to take it out on me?” she asked tersely.

“No, cara. That was wrong. The rain is not your fault, and it is good for the growing things outside. Even if I don’t like it, it is necessary.”

“I’m sorry you’ve had a bad morning, lover.”

“It is alright, now?” he asked, so very much like a little boy who was sent to his room until he could behave.

“Yes, come over and sit down,” she answered, patting the sofa with her hand.

Damiano padded quietly over to where she sat, looked down at her with big, questioning eyes and asked, “May I have some coffee now, carissima?”

And don’t forget Book 2–DANTE’S ANGEL

For more info, follow me on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/meleighscreations

 

 

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Where, you ask?

On Facebook and Twitter! I have pages for both my series, one for my stand-alones, and one all-purpose page.

https://www.facebook.com/meleighscreations

https://www.facebook.com/gamblersfolly

https://www.facebook.com/esperanceseries

https://www.facebook.com/SultonnaNadine

And of course, there’s Twitter! Find me @Sultonna

So check out the pages for news, snippets, and excerpts!

Ciao!

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Want more information on my books? I have a page for each of my series–Esperance and  Speranza (Gambler’s Folly) on Facebook and a separate page for my books under the name Sultonna Nadine.

I’m also on Twitter.

And for general information about what’s happening in my writing world, there’s always Meleigh’s Creations page on Facebook.

I’m back to work on Talents, so I’ll post a few excerpts later. For now, here’s a peek into Dante’s Angel, the second book from Gambler’s Folly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Master of the Fleet? Here’s a bit from the marriage ceremony.

Excerpt:

“Is there anything else I should know before we begin? If not, call your witnesses and we will conduct the ceremony.”

Richard had nothing else to say and apparently Anne-Marie didn’t either. Once the witnesses were present, the ceremony began. The group passed through the front gates into the courtyard, to stand in the presence of the heavens.

Those in the wedding party removed their shoes to stand on earth. With hands raised, eyes to the heavens, the priest began to intone the opening words of the marriage oath.

“In the presence of God, I call upon heaven and earth, water and fire, wind and spirit, to witness the union of Lord Sir Richard LeMarnier and Anne-Marie Desplaines…”

They made it through the ceremony without complications. He used the ring he’d bought for their betrothal for her wedding ring. She used his signet ring for his. These represented Earth. Candles lit during the ceremony represented fire, the couple was sprinkled with water, and the kiss represented an exchange of spirit. As the ceremony continued under the stars, the evening breeze swept around them, caressing them and adding its seal to the union. Arcane symbols bound their vows to each of the elements.

Bound by God and the six elements of creation, their human representatives bearing witness and completing the perfect ring of seven, the marriage was sealed by the priest, and recorded.

Available in e-format from Smashwords!

http://bit.ly/MasteroftheFleet_SW

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I know, I’ve been away for a while. My husband of 42 years recently had a total knee replacement and has been convalescing at home, complete with physical therapy…

How has your new year begun?

MASTER OF THE FLEET  is out on Smashwords, and as soon as we have the final and finished cover for CreateSpace, it will publish on Amazon as well.

Richard LeMarnier is the owner and master of the fleet for LeMarnier shipping, the largest commercial fleet on the west coast. With control over wind and water, he can manipulate the elements to keep his ships safe.

He’s been courting Anne-Marie for nearly two years and hopes to become engaged to her during the harvest festival in her home kingdom.

Anne-Marie never intended to marry. Men were for one thing only–taking them for all  you get before moving to greener pastures.

“You met them, loved them, milked them, and left them, before anything permanent developed. They were none the wiser and happy to have known you. ”

But at the banquet, everything goes wrong when her temper gets the better of her. Now bound to Richard by an oath, marriage vows and a blood oath, she hopes for a way to escape once he’s at sea in the spring.

A blend of romance, intrigue, and magic, MASTER OF THE FLEET  is a stand-alone under my pen name–Sultonna Nadine.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and profitable New Year!

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Master of the Fleet should be released December 22! A stand-alone romance (written under the pen name Sultonna Nadine) set in an alternate timeline of the American Northwest, the hero of our story owns a merchant fleet and is Master of the Fleet as well. His special abilities in elemental magic give him control over wind and water, the perfect combination to keep his ships safe.

Who’s ready for an excerpt?

Master of the Fleet

Chapter 1

For the first time in a very long time, Anne-Marie was afraid. She had been on her own since she ran away from home years ago. Up until now, she had always managed to stay in control of her affairs.

How had she let her temper get out of hand this evening? Since she had made her way into the upper echelons of society, she had dreamed of coming home to gloat. Even if nobody recognized her, she could look down her nose at those who had scorned her for her country upbringing. In spite of them all, she had escaped and become somebody. In Côte d’Or, people looked up to her, as she mingled with the leaders of the world.

She had met Richard at a society ball two years ago, during the harvest celebration. He was home for the season, like most of the merchant seamen, since the western seas were treacherous during the winter months.

Half a head taller than most, he stood out from the crowd, and had immediately captured her attention. She’d caught glimpses of him all evening, but they weren’t introduced until it was nearly time to leave. She hadn’t realized how large a man he was until she saw him returning from the hors d’oeuvre table in the next room.

Twisting his shoulders slightly to keep from brushing the door frame, he ducked his head and stepped confidently into the room. As she watched, he reached up to run his fingers through pale, sun-bleached hair. As if he sensed her watching, he turned his gaze toward her, and his dazzling blue eyes seemed to pierce her soul.

“Who is the handsome man by the doorway?” she’d asked the woman next to her.

“Oh, you mean Lord Richard? Let me introduce you.”

Richard LeMarnier was the owner and master of the fleet of the largest merchant fleet on the coast. At well over six feet tall, he stood head and shoulders above everyone there. His tanned, weathered face was in sharp contrast to the sun-bleached hair and blue eyes from his Nordic ancestry and time spend at sea. The thin white scar running from his left temple to the point of his jawbone stood out against the deep tan.

Given his position in society, he was invited to all the social events. Still a bachelor at forty, he was the most eligible man on the Côte. As soon as she saw him, her goal was to capture his attention and see how much she could glean from this new source of income.

All in all, she had done pretty well from Richard. He wasn’t in town too often, as he preferred to oversee his ventures from the decks of his ships. He showered her with gifts from abroad: fabrics, spices, jewels, and gold. In return he asked for very little. Mainly he sought her company at social functions and her companionship over dinner in his home.

By the time he was ensnared in her plans, he thought they were courting. She, of course, never hinted there would be no betrothal. Long before the question arose, she would’ve had to leave the Côte and return to her family for some dire reason. She would have shed torrents of tears at their good-bye and have promised to remember him always.

Naturally, she wouldn’t have gone home. She would have taken her gains from this relationship and traveled to some new place of opportunity, selling what she must to pay her way. Once situated in a new town, she would have set up her seamstress shop once again, and kept her eyes and ears open for the next perfect mark.

This was how it had always happened. You met them, loved them, milked them, and left them, before anything permanent developed. They were none the wiser and happy to have known you. Sorry your mother is dying and, of course, you must leave. In a few weeks they were over you and looking at fresh faces for a bit of dalliance. You were far away setting up the next mark.

She had stayed with Richard for far too long. Charming and a true gentleman, she kept putting off her farewell. Once affection had had a chance to blossom, she’d concocted a plan to go home and gloat over who she’d become. She’d known very few men who could afford to bring her so far and had been carried away with the idea.

Because of Richard’s social standing, they had been invited to the Baron’s banquet. She had been intoxicated by the opportunity, which was where the trouble started. After a glass or two of wine, she flirted with any man who gave her a second glance. After three or four glasses, it was any man at all.

****

If Anne-Marie hadn’t begged and pleaded with him, Richard LeMarnier would never have made the exhausting trip from the Côte, high up on the northwestern coastline, across the mountains to High Plains. But after several years away from home, she must return for the festival.

“Please, Richard,” the tall slim woman with dazzling green eyes had begged. “You must come with me. You must!”

And so he had. The bewitching beauty with hair as black as a calm sea on a moonless night and eyes like perfect jade was stunning. Dressed in crimson satin, every eye in the dining hall was on her.

The evening had started out well. White linens and crystal goblets invited them in to tables heavily laden with the best in food and wines. He must be edgy from the trip and imagining slights from the woman he adored.

As the evening continued, it became clear he was being snubbed by the woman for whom he’d sacrificed so much. Her warm smile and come-hither eyes sent an invitation to any man but him. She flirted with every man who came past, whether lord or serving boy. Yet Richard couldn’t attract her attention long enough to ask if she was enjoying the evening.

“Anne-Marie,” he finally asked, in exasperation, “could you spare me some of your charm? You make me a laughing stock, after I brought you all this way for the festival.”

“Are you accusing me of some impropriety, Richard?” she asked in a haughty tone. “I haven’t accepted your offer. Therefore, you can lay no claim on me.”

“I think you could pay me at least as much attention as you do the serving boys,” he snapped. “For them you have smiles and flirtatious glances. For me, you have nothing at all.”

He had seen her angry before, but nothing ever came of it. Perhaps it was being home which made the difference tonight. His eyes burned from the wine she threw in his face as her temper flared.

“I will not have any man dictate my actions,” she shouted, rising to her feet. “If I’d wanted a task master, I would have stayed under my father’s roof rather than cross half the continent to get away.”

The jeweled dagger flashed in her hand as she thrust it at him. A skilled swordsman, Richard easily parried the attempt as he rose to his feet. The dining area was too crowded to deal with the situation.

Backing away from the table, he suggested, “Anne-Marie, drop the dagger and sit down. You’re making a scene.”

She stalked after him, dagger in hand and in an absolute rage, as he retreated toward the dance floor. This was getting a bit sticky. With room to maneuver, Richard was ready when she lunged at him again. Grabbing her wrist with one hand, he slapped her with the other. As the dagger dropped, she tumbled to the floor and her glare was pure venom.

With the dagger tucked safely into his belt, Richard turned back toward the table. This should end the matter, and the relationship as well.

“I hate you,” Anne-Marie screamed, as she snatched a sword from a nearby table. Swinging wildly, she came at him with murder in her eyes.

Lord Richard drew his blade. While defending himself was not a problem, disarming her without harming anyone else might be. Anger rising, he waited for his opening. After the time and money he had spent on this trip, would she murder him in front of the high table?

His opening came and he threw her blade clear of the floor. With the point of his sword at her throat, Anne-Marie backed away, eyes wide, as anger became terror. Richard moved toward her, his blade never wavering. Finally backing as far as the high table, Anne-Marie’s retreat was blocked. Sidestepping, he grabbed her hair to expose her throat fully to his blade.

In a room as silent as a tomb, every eye was focused on the frozen tableau before the baron’s table.

“My good man, were you planning a human sacrifice on the high table? Who are you and what is the meaning of this?” the baron demanded.

A large man, with dark hair turning gray at the temples, and neatly trimmed beard, his presence commanded the attention of the room.

“Your Excellency, I am Lord Sir Richard LeMarnier, from Côte d’Or. The lady and I have traveled for more than a week to attend the festival here in her homeland. At least she claims it as such. After courting her for over a year and asking for her hand in marriage, I dance on her leash while she toys with my affections. Though she hasn’t refused my offer, she has yet to accept it.”

“What do you do?”

“I am in shipping, Your Excellency, with access to goods up and down the coast and from overseas. I have brought her gifts from every part of the world, given her everything she’s asked for, and more. She’s been blessed with everything within my power to give.”

“We’ll agree you’re a generous man. Why are you here?”

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