“I propose a toast.” Mika raises her lipstick-rimmed glass. “To finding an outstanding partner and crushing this year’s wedding season.”
“I’ll always drink to the success of my business.” I raise my glass too and clink it gently against hers.
“The right person is going to come through. I can tell.”
“Is this like the time you could tell Lincoln was going to propose? Because, although you were right, I’m hoping for a better outcome this time.” Preferably one which doesn’t involve getting my heart broken.
“Hey, Lincoln wasn’t all bad. You ended up in Enita Springs, you met me and you got his last name out of the deal for Bennett’s Bridal. The power of good alliteration cannot be underestimated.”
“True enough.” I laugh.
“Are we talking about him yet?” Mika asks, her voice softening. “Specifically, are we talking about what happened this morning because I think we should.”
I give a sharp shake of my head. “Definitely not.”
Mika studies me for a long minute then nods, too. “Okay. I figured, but you know I’m here when you want to process things.”
“I’m probably never going to want to process this.” I’d rather talk about a silent investor than what happened this morning with Lincoln. My face feels ten degrees hotter just thinking about it.
“Okay, fine.” Mika nods again and then says, “I’m just going to point out you’re bound to run into him again. Enita Springs isn’t big. Do you have a plan for when you do?”
Besides turn and run the other way? No.
To Mika I say, “I don’t need a plan. I’m sure it will be fine.”
“Because you’ve dealt with all the feelings seeing him brought up or because you’re still avoiding said feelings?”
“What’s there to deal with? I was embarrassed, which is understandable.” And the time before I was so nervous I thought my chest was going to explode, but being nervous is perfectly normal. “Besides, it’s stupid. We’ve been divorced longer than we were married.”
“Just because time has passed doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with your feelings about the end of your marriage.”
“Feelings, schmeelings. I’m avoiding them, and it’s working for me so far.” I take a sip of my wine. “Just like I plan to avoid Lincoln.”
“You two were the happiest couple I knew,” Mika says softly.
My heart feels like someone’s squeezing it and I’d wonder if I was having a sudden heart attack if I didn’t recognize it for what it is – nostalgia. “We were really happy, as much as it pains me to admit it.”
“Why does it pain you to admit it? Being happy is a good thing.”
“Not when you squander it like we did.” I take a deep breath, hoping it will help my chest expand again.
“You never saw him after you guys filed for divorce. It might be good for you to actually, you know, have a conversation with him about what happened.” Mika raises her glass to her lips and looks at me over the rim. “For closure.”
“I have the signed divorce papers, which is enough closure for me. Besides, I’m avoiding him, remember?”
“Hmmm.” Mika takes a sip of her wine but doesn’t say anything else.
She doesn’t need to. I know what she’s thinking, just like I know she’s wrong. I have zero intention of seeing Lincoln again if I can help it. If I do, I can always go with my unofficial plan to turn and run the other way and pray he doesn’t see me.
Because if he does, it’s not going to take him long to realize I still have feelings for him. Deep and complicated feelings I have no business having. Especially for my ex-husband. Add in the real reason I didn’t fight for us and, well…avoiding him is my only choice.
“I propose a toast.” Mika raises her lipstick-rimmed glass. “To finding an outstanding partner and crushing this year’s wedding season.”
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“Middle-aged and starting over is the last thing I ever wanted on my bucket list. But since my husband announced he was gay and my daughter left for college, I don’t really have a choice.”
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“Do you see those graves?” Branson asked, pointing at the looming dark stone pillars that were covered in knots and braids.
“They look like Celtic crosses,” I said. There were a couple rows of them. They looked quite beautiful, sharp, and crisp against the blackening sky.
“They are for sure,” Branson said, pointing toward the three on the highest ground. “Those are the Celtic Martyrs. Your ancestors.”
“The martyrs?” I asked, moving toward the rise where the largest Celtic cross stood. “I thought martyrs were European inventions.”
“There were martyrs here, also,” Branson said. “They are the daughters of the first Hayes who established The Estate. Something happened to them at birth and the younger one came out stronger than the older one and the middle one was always stuck in between. So the three of them lived in the house together their whole lives and managed The Estate.”
“And let me guess, they were killed by the local town folk when they found out my ancestors were all sorts of crazy?” I said, because the more stories I heard about my ancestors the more I realized the altar in my aunt’s living room wasn’t just the renters.
“No, they died battling an influx of zombies and monsters,” Branson said.
I laughed. What else was I supposed to do? “Zombies? Monsters?”
“Creatures.” Branson ran his finger over a moss-covered gravestone. “You didn’t seem too shocked by the altar. Did your mom raise you Wiccan?”
“Absolutely not.” I laughed at the thought. “No. We were good Catholics, always going to church on Sunday. I took all the steps to be a good Catholic girl, but it never really stuck with me. I couldn’t bear to bring my daughter up through it all so it kind of died with me.”
“Sometimes religion seems outdated,” Branson commented, stretching past me to knock some gravel off a grave. I could smell the rich personal musk of his skin. It made me want to accidentally fall against him and feel his arms around me.
I cringed a little inside. I was way too old for feigning inadvertent falls. But the truth was, I wanted him. Despite his age, despite his obvious way-too-hot-for-me-ness. I shoved the feeling away.
The cemetery was peaceful and still in the evening light. The breeze was uplifting the trees and the birds were calling out at sunset. We stood in the natural silence, our gazes colliding.
There was no mistaking Branson’s predatorial look. I shook my head, both to him and myself. I was way too old to be a deer in the headlights. I knew that look on a man’s face. At least I thought I did. But what I didn’t understand was why it was coming at me from this amazing, hot young man.
“You must stop giving me the eye.” There. I said it. I called a spade a spade and now it was out there in the open. He could laugh and deny it and we could move on.
“What?” He asked, leaning back against the gravestone and not taking his eyes off me.
His mojo wasn’t going to work on me. “That thing you’re doing right now,” I pointed out.
“I’m not doing anything.” His mouth pulled up in a flirtatious grin.
“You’re looking at me.” I accused him, taking a casual step back.
“Are you telling me I can’t look at you?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Not like that,” I insisted. “You shouldn’t be looking at me like that. I know I’m not a married woman anymore, but I’m not interested.” I folded my hands over my chest for emphasis.
“I don’t believe you.” He grinned, stepping forward.
“That is exactly the opposite response I was going for.” I put my hands up as he entered my personal space. “You were supposed to back away. I don’t want to do this.” I was pretty sure I looked like a deer in the headlights now.
“I don’t believe you for one second.” He reached forward, slowly sliding his fingers underneath my ear and around the back of my neck.
USA Today Bestselling Author. Farm Girl. Marketing Director.
Since I was eight, I have been writing stories that capture the adventures in my head and the characters strong enough and flawed enough to have them. When I look at an empty field, I see a formidable citadel. When I meet a vulnerable old man, I greet an emeritus warrior. When I walk through city streets, I feel dimensions hiding around every turn. It has been my lifelong passion to explore these worlds that reveal the pain of loneliness, the joy or self-actualization, and the hope of magic.
I grew up in a place called Potter Valley where the Milky Way is held aloft by a circle of mountains and the central business district consists of a bait store and a saloon. At 19 I moved alone to London and spent the next ten years exploring the world, even becoming an Australian citizen, before I returned to California and found a new home in Los Angeles. My world revolves around my two wee children, storytelling, and my love of travel.
I decided to read these books – well the first one, as I had enjoyed the Deadwood series by the same author, and some of the same characters appear in both series, and I thought maybe..
What surprised me was that I kept on reading and reading until I got to the end of the series if not the stories.
In particular these books are about the Morgan sisters and their various escapades. At JackRabbit Junction. Which is little more than a camp site in Arizona where people go to escape a cold winter, or to see the birds. There is an amazing variety of scenery and types of habitats in Arizona apparently, from riparian, to mountain, to desert, and much in between.
Plus lots of other minerals, especially copper now, but sometimes gold before and silver. And precious gems. There were still 380 active mines in 2019, and you can find: turquoise, peridot, azurite, chrysocolla, and malachite. agate, amethyst, garnet, jade, jasper, obsidian, onyx, and opal and even occasionally diamonds. See Geology.com for more details about gem mining in Arizona.
And JackRabbit Junction has lots of mines to add adventures into these stories – which are used for many different purposes, especially illicit purposes as so many are now abandoned and difficult to reach.
All of which means that the Sheriff (an elected office) is kept busy – and the Morgan sisters’ activities help with this – to his frustration.
There are no paranormal happening here – just general mayhem plus heists, arson, mines, dead men, prisons, sheriffs, and various (bit part) players, including some dirty old men still behaving and talking as though they are in the army armed with the necessary add-ons to ensure that they can fulfil fantasies. And who are very fond of drink and cigars.
A lot of drinking happens, a lot of loving, some winnebago escapades, plus a serious number of dangerous car chases and a crazy pregnant woman. Psychotic episodes like these are very uncommon indeed but mood swings are relatively common – this is just an extreme version – perhaps?
All of which makes for an interesting series as you never can guess what is going to happen next – and the stories just keep coming.. and you gotta love the car – see book jacket.
This is a series of 3 of which I read books 1 and 2 some time ago, but book 3 was then published, so I re -read 1 and 2 to remind myself of the storyline. Available in paperback and KU.
Our flawed heroine begins to mature into a responsible adult in book 3 as her relationship with Ghost – the Hero – develops during the hunt for Millenium.
In this world we have official Heroes. And Metahumans. I’m not sure what the difference exactly is except that registered Heroes are just that – registered with costumes and known powers. This is very much the Comic Book world written into a novel with a Hero Guild and enforcers to ensure that Heroes behave appropriately. Society at large accepts Heroes but doesn’t know about Magic even though it is there and everywhere but hidden. There is a belief that Mundanes – i.e. ordinary humans – would accept Heroes but not magic users as it is too easy for magic users to behave selfishly and to harm others. They are not controllable would be the belief. Except they are controlled by a rigid hierarchy of magical creatures. And mythical creatures are real – see Fairies and goblins and dwarves.
Our Sorceress, Sage, is a magic user who also has metahuman – and then some – powers and strengths, and thus can hide in plain sight as a Hero or a bodyguard to mythical creatures. But in previous books, Sage was thrown into jail and thus has a difficult background and finds it hard to find a job, let alone control her rage or strength and magic. In this book, working with Ghost helps her to begin the control and she also works on developing her magic which she had abandoned after her father’s death.
These are fun books – comics as books – lots of snark, bad puns and jokes and great deeds from our Heroes!
Deadwood Humorous Mystery Series
There are 11 books – so far – In this series plus 5 short stories, but plenty of opportunity for more stories to come. Not all the monsters have yet appeared (?) or been vanquished. Whilst the short stories fit in between some of the main books, they are not essential to the main story line – which does continue through the books. None are stand-alone and even the short stories should not be read before their place in the series as the entire story-line is closely entwined.
So, these stories have plenty of humour, lots of ghosts, some murders, romance – quite hot at times, and the Old Wild West crops up as this is Deadwood as in ‘Shoot Out in the Corral’ Deadwood. With brothels, saloons, casinos, and gold – and thus mines and all the icky things that live in old mines! Also cropping up are: myths and mythology, folk tales and horror stories, demons, devils (yes there is a distinction – depends on rank), mediums of various types, ectoplasm and poltergeists – goes with mediums? So full on with all the various nasties you can think of, plus a few more to give you the heeby jeebies at night.
I did enjoy our heroine who was so very protective of her twins, and her boyfriend ‘Doc’ was also good. After all, he put up with her and her various eccentricities and adventures and rather messy way of killing… And she has a job as a realtor – which is the second most common job in Deadwood (they call them residential advisors), so it is tough, and they seem to do a lot of work. But unlike some property companies, she seems to get a steady salary and bonuses for selling and renting, so she has always something to fall back in terms of income.
The writing style was lively, and it was difficult to get bored, and I am now waiting for the next in the series to come out. In fact, I broke one of my cardinal rules and bought 15 books! The first was free but …. That was a lot of books for me to buy as I get so many free. But I couldn’t stop reading – I read all 16 books in one week.
Now we get quite a few descriptions of meals in the stories, and yes, we are in the South Dakota mountains and it is bitterly cold and snowy quite a lot of the year, (Deadwood averages 138 inches of snow per year. The US average is 28 inches of snow per year.) but still, the meals all seem to be very high carb and fat and very low in vegetables and fruit especially for the children. Pizza appears a lot and fruit appears in pies with tinned fillings and sugary tops; there was a mention of a cabbage and some salads, but the green bean casserole (why casserole green beans?) has added fat, as well apparently, according to Campbells Soups, mushroom soup and fried onions.
And then there is sugar, more sugar, and variations of sugar in various sweet foods.
Is there a shortage of fresh/frozen vegetables? Can someone explain please?
Yes, I do realise this is a novel and it isn’t reality but it does seem to me, that there usually a reflection of truth in here somewhere, either in the local culture of the South Dakotas or the author, so I checked with the State regional foods. And the Black Hills Visitor lists the following:
1. Kolache – cakes with cream cheese filling
3. Wojapi – berry dipping sauce
4. Chislic – deep fried meat cubes
5. Buffalo meat
6. Walleye fish
7. Indian Tacos (on Fry Bread)
8. Kuchen with custard
Yup. High carb, sugar and fat…
And look out for the Purple Boots and their importance and influence…
So, I strongly recommend this if you like paranormal fun and aren’t likely to get nightmares.
Nearly Departed In Deadwood (Book 1)
Optical Delusions In Deadwood (Book 2)
Dead Case In Deadwood (Book 3)
Better Off Dead In Deadwood (Book 4);
An Ex To Grind In Deadwood (Book 5)
Meanwhile, Back In Deadwood (Book 6)
A Wild Fright In Deadwood (Book 7)
Rattling The Head In Deadwood (Book 8)
Gone Haunting In Deadwood (Book 9)
Don't Let It Snow In Deadwood (Book 10)
Devil Days In Deadwood (Book 11)
Seeing Trouble (Book 1.5),
Boot Points (Book 4.5), Fatal Traditions: Book 5)
Cold Flame (Book 6.5),
Tequila & Time (Book 8.5), And