Well, it looks like the groundhog wasn’t quite right this year. Here we are in the first week of April and instead of April showers bringing May flowers, we have wind and snow beating up on the first buds of the trees. Last week, the robins were singing and the bunnies hopping, but today they are all snuggled up in whatever shelter they can find. Maybe Mother Nature is a bit confused or maybe she needs some medication. Must be menopause.
I know I’m ready to put on some shorts and do some barefoot gardening. I’ve ordered the seeds and the plants and waiting patiently for them to arrive. More so, I’m waiting for the weather to cooperate. Lots of work to do around here this spring and summer. Like new siding on the house and landscaping that can’t be done until the siding is complete.
Of course, I also have the lake place that is calling my name. I have my old furniture sitting on the back porch just waiting to go to its new home at the lake. There are fishing poles and maybe even a boat to find. And I’m hoping I get to spend some writing time up there as well.
Writing is going slow. I’m working on a book that is an entirely different genre than my usual romance or erotica. I will soon be introducing my alter ego. Ann Nevada. The ideas of a very special and intelligent man coupled with the writing ability of a romance writer. Not sure how this political thriller will turn out, but I’m really excited at getting it completed and released. Hopefully, later this month.
I’m preparing for Wild Deadwood Reads in June. My goodness, I had so much fun and met so many great people last year. I’ll be sponsoring a trail ride, going to the rodeo, going on a ghost hunt, and taking along a friend this year. I hope she enjoys herself as much as I did last year. It’s a wonderful place. Steeped in history. Beautiful scenery. And we’ll cross our fingers it doesn’t rain or end up being in the upper nineties like it was last year. I can’t wait to go to the wineries and toss some money in the slot machines. Or watch those awesome eight second rides.
It is also exciting to know that I got to participate with a group of awesome authors in creating the anthology. So many great stories set in Deadwood. Something for everyone. Watch for it to release on June 1st just in time for the signing on June 9th. And if you watch my blog and my Facebook page, one lucky winner will get a copy of their own. Signed by all the contributing authors. And the best thing is, all the proceeds go to a great cause! The Western Sports Foundation.
Well, I just wanted and needed to take a break from the thriller writing and say hello. It’s time for me to get back to Washington D.C. and San Antonio, Texas where a lunatic with a gun is holding a senator’s daughter hostage. Will she get saved? Watch for the release of The 2nd coming this spring! Have a great week and don’t forget to email me if you would like to be included in my newsletter mailing list where readers can get exclusive offers that nobody else does! Happy Spring and April Fool’s and Happy Easter!!
That’s what I’ve been since the last time I did a blog entry! With a little luck and a lot of work, the final book of my Summers Sisters trilogy will be complete by the end of the month, so watch for my release party coming in the next week or so.
Also, in case you didn’t know, my books are now available on iTunes and Nook as well as some other outlets. I’ve been releasing links to those as they become available on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TeresaAKeefer.
I want to send out a very sincere thank you to those of you who voted for the cover of Threefold in the recent cover of the month on All Author. It’s the support of all of you that got me to the final round and even though I didn’t win the contest, I was still a winner because of all of you! And don’t forget, if you voted, go check out to see if you were the lucky winner of the $20 Amazon gift card.
How are you all faring with the cold weather and grey skies of winter? For a person who really enjoys the different seasons, there are times I’m ready for sunny skies, green grass, flowers and gardening. Which is what I will be planning here shortly. What I’m going to grow in my garden this year. It will soon be time to start seeds indoors and I’ve been poring through the garden catalogs trying to decide what delectable veggies will make it into the garden this year. And, of course, checking out the different flowers that I will be using for the landscaping around my back porch. After watching The Shack and seeing the awesome porch in the movie with its vining flowers, I’m thinking of trumpet vines, honeysuckle, climbing roses and clematis. With some hanging baskets of purple wave petunias and potted plants to grace the rest of the porch. And I’m dreaming of watching my hummingbirds return to feed from the feeders I have hanging on my porch. What do the rest of you do to chase away the winter blues?
You may be wondering what I have next on the agenda for releases. Well, I hope to have something for everyone this year as I turn loose my alter egos. There will be the re-release of my Vengeance series with the final book sometime in August if you like vampires and New Orleans. If you’ve been following along with the excerpts of Faith’s Hope on my blog, you will definitely want to take a look at the full novella to be released sometime in the spring. If you are more in the mood for erotica, Autumn Drake will be releasing two more novellas in the Diary of a Prostitute series. And, if your tastes run more along the lines of political thrillers, I will be introducing the first book by Ann Nevada in the upcoming months. I am also going to have a fourth book in the Possum Creek series. If you have been following this series, you will be able to read about Ellie’s romance with a newcomer to town.
See, I’ve not been ignoring my blog. I’ve just been busy with projects that I hope will appeal to each and every one of you in the upcoming year. I also plan on releasing a quarterly newsletter that will begin on February 14th. If you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter, please take the time to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and just write SIGN ME UP in the subject line and my lovely PA will get you on the mailing list. Newsletter subscribers will get the first news of any new releases and will have the opportunity for exclusive giveaways and short stories. I can’t wait!!
Without much more delay, here is the last installment of Faith’s Hope:
The antique mantel clock chimed once, signaling that the time was heading toward morning. On the sofa between Faith and Brent was everything that she had managed to dig up about his Civil War ancestor and the elusive Hope Avery. But all of the information had come to an abrupt conclusion at about the same time that the war had ended.
Brent rubbed his eyes and shook his head. “I don’t get it. I know that there were several of my ancestors that fought on both sides during the Civil War but I don’t recall hearing anything about a Geoffrey.” He powered off the laptop he had retrieved from his car earlier to try to assist them in piecing together the story of Hope and Geoffrey. As he started to close the top, he glanced over at the woman sitting on the opposite end of the sofa. There was something about her that invoked a protectiveness that he hadn’t ever felt before toward anyone else. He couldn’t explain it. Hell, he didn’t even know this woman. Well, except how fantastic it had felt kissing her earlier.
As he looked around the small apartment, he noticed that it was devoid of any photographs other than the tintype. That was unusual. Perhaps she had just moved in and hadn’t unpacked everything yet. No, that couldn’t be the case because he had checked to see how long she had been at the coffee shop so she wasn’t all that new to New Orleans. Maybe she was a criminal hiding out from the authorities. Inwardly, he chuckled. This girl was too nice and too wholesome looking to be a criminal. But there was something about her. A certain vulnerability. And being the attorney that he was, he was curious.
“Have you lived here long?” He watched her body language and noticed slight stiffening of her slender frame.
Faith shook her head. “Only a couple months.”
Brent noticed that her hands trembled a bit as she made an attempt to straighten the sheets of copies she had made on one of her trips to the library. “What made you decide to move to New Orleans? Family? A boyfriend?” He reached across and touched the back of her hand and attempted to make a joke of it. “I hope that I didn’t tread on somebody else’s territory earlier.” He even cracked a grin to try to ease what was evidently uneasy for Faith to talk about.
She stood up and started collecting their empty glasses and plates from the snacks she had put together for them as they studied internet article after internet article. With her back to him she succinctly threw up a wall between them to discourage any further questioning. She was slender. Perhaps too slender. And she had a general nervousness about her that despite her attempts to overcome, seemed to simmer right below the surface of her outward personality. She reminded him of an iceberg, not because she was cold by any means, but because she only showed the tip of who she was and Brent sensed that that there was a whole hell of a lot more beneath the surface of Faith Marshall. And he intended to find out what it was.
Faith stammered as she turned back to look at him. “I really need to get to bed. I have the early shift at the coffee shop tomorrow.”
It was a dismissal. A way to avoid answering his last round of questioning. Brent got the message loud and clear. As far as she was concerned, it was time for him to leave. But he wasn’t quite ready. He stood and moved toward her. Intended to give her something to think about. Brent held her gaze with his own and reached out to trace a line along the side of her jaw with his index finger. Was satisfied to see her catch her breath and shiver a little. He smiled as his lips descended to lightly touch hers. Then he stepped away and strode on long legs toward the front door leaving Faith standing in the center of the living room with a blank look on her face while the sound of disjointed female laughter drifted through the quiet of the night. ——THE END
The new year is upon us and I can’t wait to start releasing some new works for all of you to enjoy! My New Year’s Eve was certainly special. Nothing like an evening out for the first time in I don’t know how many years. Casino…dinner…hotel…and a sexy little black dress with sparkly heels. Not to mention I got to spend the evening with my favorite handsome man…
I have to say, going to a casino in Indiana is nothing like going to a casino in Vegas. In Vegas, you get class…in Indiana you get Casino Walmart. People watching was interesting. I saw an aged rhinestone cowboy all gaudy in his sparkly white shirt and silvery cowboy hat. And aging women all wrinkled up with their tight pants and cigarettes dangling from their lips as they shimmied around the wrinkly old men in their bedraggled suits. I was waiting to see if anyone got in a knock down drag out over a bucket of booze.
The band was good and so was the magicians. The slots were tighter than some of the pants on the wrinkly old women, so I spent my cash on drinks. Dinner was fantastic. Nothing like prime rib cooked to rare perfection and the bread pudding was almost—almost—as good as the stuff served in the restaurants in New Orleans.
I hope all of you have had a great start to your new year. That you got to spend New Year’s Eve with good company. That the rest of your year is filled with love, prosperity and good health.
For those of you who have been patiently waiting for the next scene of Faith’s Hope, here you go…and if you have time…head over to my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TeresaAKeefer and vote for my book cover that was nominated for cover of the month for January!
Brentley Maillieux stopped dead in his tracks as he saw the familiar figure step inside the little coffee shop on the corner of Burgundy and St. Louis. There had been something so familiar about her from the time he first set eyes on her standing alongside the fence that circled the lush lawn and garden of his family home. Not so much her looks, but a sense of familiarity that he couldn’t describe. And his beloved auntie hadn’t been much help when he’d mentioned it to her. She went on one of her forays into fate and life path and reincarnation and quite frankly, he’d blocked it out.
Something pulled at him. Curiosity. Where was that coming from? Brent had never been curious about anything that didn’t include one of his current cases. Having only passed the bar a couple of years prior, he already carried a full caseload for his father’s firm and tended to work eighty or more hours a week. It was better for him to work than sit around thinking about how his damned fiancée had run off with another man three weeks before their wedding date.
Brent couldn’t help himself. He walked toward the door of the coffee shop with purpose in his step. Nothing like a nice caffeine-infused latte to get his heart beating faster than it already was. After spending the morning in a rather difficult deposition where neither of the fighting marital partners were ready to give an inch and spent throwing insults at each other across the table, his day was already set to be a real pain in the ass.
The bell above the door jingled as he stepped inside the air-conditioned interior. A nice relief from the smoldering heat that hovered at face level and sucked the energy out of him. He surveyed the shop and didn’t see the girl anywhere, but he was certain she’d walked inside just a few scant moments before he had. Striding toward the counter, Brent reached for his wallet not paying attention to what he was doing. And collided with the object of his curiosity as their paths met by the tall counter. The sound of cups shattering across the floor accompanied the muttered oath of the young woman who had been carrying them.
Brent watched for a moment as she stooped to pick up the unbroken cups without looking up to see who she’d run into. Her brown hair was secured tightly in a braid down her back, and she appeared to be rather skinny in the fitted jeans and neon green tee shirt emblazoned with the name of the shop on the front. His first thought was to chastise her for not paying attention to where she was going, but he stopped himself. There was something vulnerable about her and in all honesty, had he been paying attention to where he was going he wouldn’t have ventured anywhere near the swinging door to the kitchen beyond.
He approached her and squatted down to her level, reaching for one of the unbroken cups and handing it to her. His fingers barely touched hers, but the effect for him was profound. It was like he had touched those fingers a million times before. As his eyes met hers, another feeling. Déjà vu. Then her hands started trembling, and she stood up with the stack of rescued cups and disappeared behind the swinging doors.
Another woman came out with a broom and dustpan and started sweeping up the ceramic fragments of the remainder of the cups. Smiling brightly, she motioned him away with a sweep of the hand. “Thank you for trying to help Faith pick up the cups. I’ve got it from here. Now go on and get yourself a cup of coffee or latte. On the house.”
Faith was curled up on the sofa, her slender legs tucked up beneath her and a book on her lap. The mystery was an older paperback she’d picked up at a sidewalk sale as she walked home from work the day before. Anything to take her mind off the man who so closely resembled the image in the photo she’d found in the trunk upstairs. After that first meeting as she stood outside the house in the Garden District, she brought the old tintype downstairs and set it on her bedroom dresser. The next day she came home from work and found it standing against the vase on the side table. And every time she returned it to the bedroom, the old photo ended up back where it was now. On the side table. Apparently Hope preferred it to be displayed in the living room.
When Faith mentioned the whole situation to Frankie, the older woman merely nodded and continued working in the flowerbed the two of them had created the second week she’d lived here. It was coming along nicely with a selection of annuals and perennials now blooming in a variety of colors.
“I’m glad she has decided to annoy someone else for a change. That infernal crying is enough to drive a person to distraction at times.” Frankie pulled a weed and tossed it over her shoulder and that was that.
Faith hadn’t heard the crying after the night it had stormed, but she knew there was a presence on her side of the double. She would catch a drift of fragrance that wasn’t hers or see a shimmery shadow pass down the hall in the middle of the night – and of course the tintype being moved. But other than that, the only thing that really haunted her was how his eyes seemed to look at her like he knew her.
She pushed the thought of the man that she discovered through her browsing the internet at the library was a descendent of Geoffrey Maillieux. An attorney with the firm Maillieux and Bonaparte. Handsome, refined, educated and wealthy. Old family money that could be traced back to the grandparents of the young man in the tin type photo. Which didn’t make sense, because from what she’d discovered was that men from the rich part of town didn’t go to the area around the French Quarter to find a wife in those early days. They went there to find a good time. But the letter she’d found in Hope’s chest didn’t sound like a man who was just looking for a good time. It sounded like a man who was in love with the girl from the wrong side of town and had every intention of returning to her after the war. But from her searches in the attic there was no evidence that he’d returned for Hope. Perhaps that was why the ghostly apparition lingered in the attic close to the carved chest that contained items she was positive Hope had made herself while waiting for her man to return. Things that would be useful in her marital home.
It was a quiet night. Cooler than usual so Faith opened the windows to let fresh air breeze through the screens and fill the house with the fragrance of the night air slipping in through the lacy curtains. She’d come to enjoy the sound of blues music, and there was an instrumental CD playing on the secondhand stereo that now sat on the bookshelves in the living room. A set of bookshelves that were starting to fill up with not only books but also with little personal touches as well.
She was starting to feel much better physically. Emotionally, at least the nightmares didn’t haunt her every night like they had when she’d first come here. Faith was beginning to feel safe. No more prying eyes or whispered comments as she walked down the street. Faith would never be the same as she had been before, but maybe she could at least have some peaceful solitude here. Maybe even make a friend or two. She already had a good start with her quirky landlady and neighbor, Frankie.
Absorbed by the novel she was reading, she didn’t immediately recognize that fragrance that she had come to associate with Hope. Or rather Hope’s spirit. But she did notice it about the same time that the tintype photo dropped into her lap and a knock sounded at the door. She glanced at the slender, gold watch on her wrist that was all she had left of her mother. It was still early, and she shook her head. Frankie’s date must not have turned out so well for her to be back this soon. Setting the book aside, Faith got up and went over to the door, pulling it open without looking. An action that was so unlike her these days. And she came face-to-face with Geoffrey Maillieux’s twin. Descendent. Unwelcome.
Faith didn’t have time to react before the man stepped inside her doorway and jerked her roughly into his arms. His mouth was on hers with a ferocity that left her breathless. And more. Her blood pulsed through her veins and pounded in her head. She lost all sense of equilibrium as the floor swayed beneath her and the floral scent spun around them like a whirlwind. Strong fingers tangled in her hair while the other hand at the small of her back became the only thing that held her upright because the way he was kissing her practically caused her legs to buckle. His body was strong and hard with a heady heat emanating from the parts that touched her body. Then the sensual assault was over and he held her away from him, his dark eyes piercing.
“Dear God, I don’t know what came over me. There’s something about you that is so familiar and enticing I couldn’t help myself.”
Faith struggled to pull loose from Brent’s hold. Her hands shook and her knees buckled. “Let me go.”
Brent shook his head. “I’m so very sorry. I only came here to meet you. I’ve had dreams of you ever since the day you were outside my home, and it’s been torture.” He touched her face, his eyes never leaving hers. “For the love of God, what is happening to me?”
Faith’s breath was coming in short gasps as she tried to recover her composure. She should send him away. Slap him for his aggression toward her. Push him right out the door on his ass. But that hot, sensual mouth on hers had been familiar. Like he had kissed her lips a million times before. Like Faith had felt his body against hers in the night. She lifted a hand to her mouth and put her fingers where his mouth had just been. Then the quiet in the room was interrupted by the eerie sound of laughter. Soft and musical laughter swirling around them both. Could he hear it or was she imagining it?
He frowned. “Is there someone else here? That laughter. Where is it coming from?.”
She shook her head. “There’s nobody else here. Maybe you and I need to talk.” She held out her hand to him. “My name is Faith Marshall.”
He nodded again. “Yes, I know your name. It took some doing, but I was finally able to get your boss at the coffee shop to spill the information.” His fingertips came up to touch her chin gently. “And I’m Brentley Maillieux and forgive me, but I need to kiss you again.”
As much as Faith wanted to push him away, something in her very soul stopped her. Instead of putting up her hands to protect her from his abrupt invasion into her space, she rested them on his shoulders. Let her fingers trail up his neck and tangle in his dark hair. When his tongue licked at her lips, she parted them and allowed the kiss to deepen. There was no panic. No icy fear stabbing through her chest this time. It was like a whole different person had taken up residence in her physical body. Someone who was familiar with this man and wanted all that he had to offer.
Faith felt his strong hands as they stroked down her back, leaving a trail of heat in their wake. She shivered as his lips moved along the tender skin of her neck and his arms held her closer. When his fingertips touched the side of her breast, she gasped from the sensation like electricity jolting through her body and coming to a head at a point between her thighs. She sucked air like a drowning woman before his lips returned to hers to once again play even more havoc with her senses.
There was a wild tempest in the room, swirling around like a cyclone of power. At first, it was just something Faith could feel as it set her skin tingling even more. Then suddenly, it changed. The air became heavy and she felt like she was starting to smother. The tin type, which had fallen to the floor earlier, lifted into the air and was returned to its place on the table. Brentley’s kiss was no longer enjoyable and Faith started to struggle to free herself from his embrace. Finally, unable to make him understand that he needed to release her, she shoved against his chest with all of the strength that she had.
As he stood looking at her with surprise and confusion in his eyes, music started playing in the attic. Glancing toward the ceiling, he sighed. “What in the hell is going on around here?”
Faith felt overwhelmed but as she looked at the disappointment on Brentley’s face, she stepped forward and carefully took his hand. The physical contact sent a shudder through her but she tried not to let it show. “Please, let’s sit down and talk. I don’t really understand what happened here tonight either but I have a pretty strong feeling that it has something to do with your ancestor.” As she led him over to the sofa, she glanced back at him over her shoulder. “Do you believe in ghosts?”
Brentley rolled his head and groaned. “Good grief, I thought only my aunt talked about things like that. Don’t tell me you are one of those crazy spiritualists too?”
Faith smiled and shook her head. “No, I’m not crazy and I didn’t believe in ghosts until I actually saw one. Here. In my attic.” She should have been offended by the look he gave her, let alone the reference to being crazy. But she understood what he must think because for a few days, she thought the same of herself. “Let me tell you what I know so far.”
As this year draws to a close and Christmas is just a little over a week away, I am reflecting back on the past year and all the exciting things I’ve done. Things that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t been encouraged to sit down and write a book by one of the best friends a woman could ever ask for. But he’s an entirely different story altogether. Maybe another time.
Today, I looked back at all the photos from the trips I’ve been so fortunate to take. I spent a birthday on Bourbon Street with the best group of friends and romance authors. Attended a formal ball and got to wear a beautiful gown in my favorite color. Rode the streetcar to the Garden District. Sipped mimosas and sat at Café Dumonde and devoured the most delectable of beignets.
I flew to Denver and rented a car. Got to visit my nephew and his little family. Saw the Rocky Mountains and antelope as I wove my way through Wyoming to have lunch at The Virginian. Backtracked through the nature preserve and used the men’s restroom at a truck stop because I learned the hard way that a Wyoming mile is more like ten miles long and there are no stops along the way. Saw the Black Hills after a rainstorm with its green beauty. Stayed in a turn of the century hotel and casino and had lunch at the #10 Saloon where Wild Bill Hickock was shot in the back of the head. Met some more wonderful authors and got to see an exciting ten second ride at the PBR rodeo. Took a train ride through the Black Hills and visited some lovely wineries.
I got to go to California. Took a flight to Las Vegas and drove on the Las Vegas strip on a Friday night. Took a side road while driving through the Mojave Desert and found a busy little oasis that I am sure will be the site of a romance novel in the upcoming months. Spent some quality time with my youngest daughter eating a seafood lunch right on the Pacific Ocean. Saw the Top Gun house in Oceanside. Watched the moon set on the Pacific and felt the damp chill of the surf as it came over the rocks of the patio of the beach cottage where we stayed. Walked the street of Old Town San Diego.
I’ve lived. I’ve done things that I never thought I would do on my own. And I have memories that will be forever etched in my heart. And none of it would have been possible if it weren’t for the encouragement of those who are near and dear to me. God is good. I’m blessed. And this Christmas season, I wish all of you a wonderful time with family and friends. Cherish those moments and hold them close to you.
And for you, here is the next scene from Faith’s Hope…
Faith tentatively approached the magnificent Greek Revival home sitting back from the sidewalk that ran along Chestnut Street in the Garden District. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her since the stormy night she found the ghostly young woman crying in the attic. So curious that she spent her day off at the library doing research until she found the exact address of Magnolia House.
Unlike the unkempt neighborhood where her own apartment was, the homes here were immaculately tended with beautifully landscaped lawns and gardens. Four columns supported the double gallery of the mansion, and steps spanned the better portion of the lower gallery. Magnolia trees in full bloom flanked the sidewalk that led from the wrought iron gate. Massive ferns hung from both levels of the gallery between each of the columns, and she was intrigued by how in the world they may have gotten there, let alone how they were attended to.
When she’d set off this morning and hopped on the streetcar, it was to take a walk around the Garden District and casually stroll by the house. Faith had searched the chest for any other letters from the southern gentleman to his lady but had found none. Only delicately embroidered linens yellowed with age and crocheted doilies and tablecloths filled the chest. Those were carefully removed and soaked in mild detergent in her bathtub then dried in the sun on the patio out back. The round table cloths looked very nice on the accent tables in her living room and her thrift store dresser and nightstands held the matching set of doilies.
She tried to imagine the two young lovers standing on the steps of this beautiful home with the moon and stars twinkling in the night sky above them and the fragrance of magnolia blooms filling the air. Hope and Geoffrey. She couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the two of them after the war was over. Had he returned to her or had he perished in the war? Why was it she cried so heartbreakingly in the afterlife?
“Good afternoon. Beautiful house isn’t it?”
Faith jumped at the sound of the deep voice with a very pronounced accent that she had become to recognize as being prevalent in New Orleans. As she did, her feet tangled up and she found herself starting to fall. However, she was rescued by a pair of strong hands gripping her upper arms to right her. When she looked up, it was to stare into a familiar pair of dark eyes. Her mind told her there was no way it was him, but there was no mistaking the timeless face that looked back at her. The black hair much shorter than that in the photograph, but overall this man had to be Geoffrey Maillieux. Or a direct descendant.
“I’m sorry miss. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
He held onto her arms for a moment longer, and the heat of his touch burned through the thin sleeves of the flowing summery blouse. A heat that was very disconcerting to her, especially after the traumatic events before she came to New Orleans. She tugged herself loose from his grip and looked down at the sidewalk where their feet were a mere few inches apart.
“It’s fine.” Faith managed to mumble before she started to walk away. And only because it would be too obvious for her to run.
It’s a snowy evening here tonight but I’ve got a fire going and it’s nice and cozy in my living room. I don’t mind winter days because it gives me a reason to stay inside and write. Progress was made on Namaste and I hope to have it ready to release by Christmas. Namaste is the conclusion to the Summers Sisters series as they continue to search for the way to defeat the entity that has been playing havoc on the small community of Lakeview.
We had a nice dinner of meatloaf, potatoes, macaroni and cheese and dessert was apple crisp with ice cream and caramel sauce. I’m ready to wind my evening down with a glass of wine and a Christmas movie, but wanted to take the time to give you the next scene of Faith’s Hope.
So, snuggle up with your favorite winter drink and a snack and enjoy…
The storm turned out to be a slow moving one so by the time it reached the city and unleashed its fury, Faith had finished dinner and bathed and sat curled up among the cushions, reading a book in her pajamas. The wind howled and whistled through the streets as it preceded the rain and hail that soon joined it. Then it died down, and all she could hear was the sound of rain and the crashing of thunder while lightning flashed through the windows, causing dancing patterns of leaves to play against the wall opposite the windows.
A chill passed over her, causing the hair on the back of her neck to stand up at attention. She stopped reading for a moment, and then continued as she realized the chill had probably come from a blast of the air conditioning. The television flickered a bit before the signal went dead and a loss of reception message came across the screen. She reached for the package of matches and lit the three candles on the side table, and she enjoyed the scent of the magnolia fragrance that filled the air as the candle burned.
The wind picked up again, and the loose shutter on the window banged against the side of the house in a lonely beat. With the next clap of thunder and flash of lightning, the power went out and the house was suddenly quiet inside while the tempest continued outside. Faith was tired from her day at work so she sat for a little bit with her head resting against the back of the sofa before finally giving up on her reading for the night.
She picked up the candle and carried it with her to the bedroom. The light flickered against the ornate molding along the top of the wall as she set the candle down on the nightstand beside the brass bed. Turning back the quilt that Frankie had given her out of her own collection of bedding, she slid underneath the top sheet onto the coolness of the freshly laundered linens. Plumping the pillows first, she settled comfortably against the softness and lay looking up at the dancing light on the ceiling. Outside the rain splattered against the window next to her bed, and the lilac bush swiped against the house like slender fingers brushing against the wood. The sound was actually soothing, and she drifted off to sleep.
Someone was crying. A woman. Heart wrenching sobs. Was she crying in her sleep or was she dreaming of someone crying? Faith’s eyes fluttered open and took a moment to focus. The candlelight flickered and created shadow on the walls. The sobs were real and not her imagination or a dream. The voice was too soft to be Frankie and it sounded like it was coming from above her. She sat up in the bed and looked around the room. Despite the air-conditioning remaining silent with the power outage, the room was strangely cool. Cold in fact. Chill bumps formed on her arms, and she drew the quilt around her for comfort.
Her imagination must be playing tricks on her. There was nothing above her but the attic and even though she’d never been up there, she knew there was access inside the closet across from her bed. Frankie told her that she could help herself to anything she might find up there that could be useful, but Faith had never taken advantage of the offer. A person crying? Maybe it wasn’t a person. Perhaps a stray cat had found refuge from the storm by slipping through the vent. It couldn’t be a person.
The sobs were suddenly accompanied by a haunting melody that echoed throughout the room. A tune that scratched and hissed like an old record. She threw the quilt aside and swung her feet over the edge of the bed. As the music continued the crying lessened. Something caused the music to jump and repeat. Like an old record that had been played so much that it was worn to the point it missed a bit of the tune here and there. She pulled open the drawer of her nightstand and took out the little penlight she kept there. A lot of good it was going to do in a darkened attic. But Faith had always been curious and tonight that curiosity was getting the better of her.
She crossed the wood floor, which was cool and smooth beneath her bare feet and slid open one of the closet doors. Obviously an addition many years after the house was built, it spanned the entire wall that made the bedroom private from the rest of the house. She didn’t have a lot of clothes so it didn’t take much effort to slide them aside and point the flashlight toward the ceiling of the closet. A worn piece of rope hung from the trap door in the ceiling of the closet and when she pulled on it, she could see the ladder above her head. She reached with her free hand and gave the bottom rung a tug allowing the ladder to fall free directly in front of her.
Taking a deep breath and holding it, she listened. The crying had quieted and the needle of the old turntable in the middle of the room bumped and scratched putting an end to the melody. Frankie’s parting words echoed through her mind. Only the living can hurt someone. With that memory, a sweet scent filled the dark attic. Lilies. She would know that fragrance anywhere because at her childhood home, there was a whole bed of lily of the valley beneath her bedroom window, and she remembered the sweet fragrance wafting in through the screened windows in the springtime.
Using the flashlight, she scanned the room and didn’t immediately see anything. Then she caught a glimpse of some movement and focused the light on an area in the farthest portion of the attic. Faith gasped in disbelief as she saw the ghostly figure of a woman sprawled across a wooden chest that sat next to an old Victrola that continued to spin. The ghostly woman looked up, and Faith saw the innocent face of a young woman. Very young. Perhaps even a teenager. Dressed in clothing that was reminiscent of Civil War times with her hair falling freely across her shoulders. Blinded by a flash of light as the power came back on, Faith stumbled forward and pain exploded as her head hit a low beam.
Faith sat on the floor and put her head between her knees fighting off the dizziness from the blow to her head. Her stomach churned for a moment but she managed to calm it with a few deep breaths. When she felt she’d recovered enough, she stood up and looked around the cluttered attic.
The turntable had stopped and she knelt down to look at the record. It appeared to have been played so much that there was not much left in the way of grooves in the aging material of the disc. She ran her finger over the top of the Victrola and it came away smeared with dust. She looked over at the trunk that the ghostly figure had been weeping against. It was a beautifully crafted chest with a pair of lovebirds holding a heart carved in the center of the lid. She brushed dust away and found one word inside the heart. Or was it a name? HOPE. Hope’s chest? Or a hope chest. She gently lifted the lid and peered inside. Atop a stack of hand-embroidered linens was a tintype photo of a young man. He was dressed in a Confederate soldier uniform, his face solemn yet handsome. Not much older than the ghost of the girl Faith found crying just mere moments before the lights came back on..
Beneath the picture was a yellowed envelope addressed to Hope Avery with a return address for a Magnolia House in New Orleans. She turned the envelope over in her hand and found a red seal stamped with an ornate M. Faith lifted the flap and found a letter inside. Actually, just a brief note telling Hope that he would be leaving soon to fight for the Confederacy, but would return to her as soon as the South was successful. It was signed by Geoffrey Maillieux and dated 15 August 1861. The young man had enlisted at the very beginning of the Civil War.
It’s been a busy week at the day job. And it’s a full moon. Did anyone see how bright the moon was last night? Almost like daylight in the middle of the night. Lots of deer out running around, there were three does in my yard before dawn today and they looked so regal standing in the moonlight with their shadows casting across the frosty ground. There are so many things I like about autumn!
I’ve been busy working on my historical romance for Wild Deadwood Reads anthology. It’s a historical romance which takes place in wild Deadwood and I’m pretty excited to be able to share it next year. I think you historical romance lovers will like the storyline. And the best thing, it’s done!
So, next on the agenda is the final book of the Summers Sisters series. This book is all about the fun loving Riana. I am several chapters in right now and the story is coming along nicely. But, I’m really looking forward to writing Rowena’s Song, which is their mother’s story. I also have started a rough draft of my very first political thriller which does not yet have a title.
Sigh. I have so many ideas that will be forthcoming and I have the goal of releasing at least 5 books next year and possibly just as many novellas. Is anyone else looking forward to 2018?
As promised, I am going to share the next scene from Faith’s Hope. If you can’t wait to read the whole thing, watch for the full-length novella to be released in the upcoming weeks. If you can wait…here is the next scene…
The apartment was shaping up nicely as far as Faith was concerned. The heavy drapes in the living room had been replaced with lacy white sheers pulled back with ribbon. They would let in the sun except for today when the clouds had piled up to the west long before Faith got off work. Shades of grey, occasionally lit up from behind, flashed with lightning. The talk in the coffee shop suggested the storm was building steam as it crossed over Texas and headed their way. Even though the apartment was air-conditioned, her walk home had been a stifling and steamy six blocks so she reached for the switch that sent the ceiling fan whirring air throughout the living room.
The pretty floral sofa invited her to relax with the heaps of throw pillows she found at the neighborhood thrift store for barely nothing, and she thought about laying down for a few minutes. A convention in town had kept her busy, and her feet ached almost as bad as they had the first week at the coffee shop, but pushed herself to take a quick walk through the market and picked up fresh fruit and vegetables. Then she stopped at a yard sale to purchase a bag of paperback books which all needed to be put away. Little by little her tips had purchased little items to add her own personal touches to the apartment.
She walked through the bedroom into the small kitchen at the back and started stowing the produce in the noisy old refrigerator. Her appetite had gradually begun to return to normal, and she heard it rumble a bit as she thought about the chicken breast that was marinating in a bowl on the top shelf of the refrigerator. She glanced at the calendar on the wall by the back door. It was hard to believe that she had already been here for almost a month. The open shelf above the stove held a variety of spices and a ceramic pot where she kept the new set of cooking utensils purchased from the local dollar store. A pair of plain iron sconces had already been hanging on the wall above the small bistro table and chairs, but the hurricane globes and candles were her own addition. A bouquet of fresh cut flowers nestled in a terra cotta bowl in the center of the table. The hooked seat pads on the chairs matched the hooked rug in front of the sink. The single window in the room was bare except for a macramé hanger, which held a potted vine rescued from a discard pile behind a floral shop that shared the same alley as the coffee shop. A little bit of plant food and water and it was already boasting a brand new growth of leaves.
Her bathroom was hidden behind a narrow door next to the sink, and she stepped inside to put the shampoo and body wash on the little stand next to the antique claw foot tub. From above the stand, a collection of Mardi Gras masks grinned down at her. All of them pieces she discovered at the thrift store along with the secondhand bath set she’d dyed in a bright fuchsia color that almost matched the cheap set of towels from the big box store by the interstate.
Thunder rumbled in the distance, and someone knocked on the back door. She greeted Frankie as she let herself inside with her key. She looked frazzled with cobwebs in her bright hair and a streak of dirt across her face. “Lord have mercy that sure is a scary looking storm coming our way.” Her tiny body was clad in a pair of bright yellow Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian print shirt, and she had a pair of garden gloves tucked into her waistband. “I was puttering about in the garage and found that old patio set that I haven’t used in years so I pulled it out and put it by your back steps to go along with that little grill you brought home.”
“Come in and sit down for a minute and have a glass of sweet tea with me.” Faith pulled the pitcher out of the refrigerator. She motioned toward the table and chairs. “Go on, sit down.” She worried about the older woman puttering about in the garage out back. Not only did the structure look like it was ready to collapse but it was also stacked full of junk in every space that Frankie’s old Cadillac didn’t occupy. It was an accident waiting to happen, and Faith had become quite fond of Frankie over the last few weeks.
She put the two glasses on the table and sat down across from Frankie. “You should have waited for me to get home before you went digging around in the garage and moving lawn furniture.” Faith smiled as the woman brushed a cobweb out of her hair. “Seriously, couldn’t it have waited until I got here?”
“Little girl, I’ve been doing things on my own for a great many years before you came along. Don’t go thinking you can get me to stop now. I’m too damned stubborn.”
“I never said you had to stop.” Faith chuckled softly. “I just said you could have waited until I got home so that if you fell or something fell on you, there would be someone here to call the rescue squad.”
“Those rescue squad boys are nice specimens of muscled glory.” Frankie lifted a penciled eyebrow. “Maybe I should have a little accident so that you could call them over and we could both get our eyes full. What do you say little girl?”
Faith shook her head. “You’re too eager.” In an attempt to change the subject, she got up and pulled the bowl of marinated chicken from the refrigerator. “Do you want to eat dinner with me? I have enough here for both of us.”
“No thank you. I have a gentleman friend coming to take me to Arnaud’s for dinner and cocktails.” She gave an exaggerated wink. “I’d have to poke him full of Cialis for it to be much more than dinner and drinks.”
Frankie was impossible. The older woman alternated between acting like a proper southern belle and a dirty old lady. Faith still hadn’t asked, but she would guess that she had at least seen the end of the Second World War. She did know that she had come to New Orleans to get away from an overbearing mother and overprotective father, purchasing this little shotgun double with money from her trust fund when she turned old enough to access it. What Frankie had done in the meantime was a mystery Faith wasn’t sure she wanted to solve.
Frankie drained the glass and stood up, using the edge of the table as leverage and winced a bit. Faith didn’t comment because she knew that no matter what she said, the older woman wouldn’t slow down or take it easy. The thunder sounded as if it was getting closer to them, and Faith could have almost sworn that the last clap of thunder shook the whole city.
“Better get your candles and matches out. Storms like the one coming usually bring power outages, and this creaky old house can be a bit overwhelming if you’re a suspicious person.” The soles of her sneakers squeaked against the worn black and white checkered linoleum as she sashayed toward the back door. She glanced back at Faith as she turned the knob to let herself out. “Don’t fret too much. Only the living can hurt a person.” And she slipped quietly out the back door as Faith stared at her retreating back.
Happy holiday season everyone!
I hope everyone got plenty to eat on Thanksgiving and didn’t get assaulted too badly on Black Friday. Me, I celebrated my Thanksgiving holiday with my family and friends that became family over the last 18 years. Everyone pitched in and we had quite a feast…not to mention some great beer and wine to go along with it. After dinner, I had the pleasure of attending the latest Thor movie (did you get a look at that hard body?) with a very handsome bearded man. Perfect end to a perfect day.
I didn’t shop on Black Friday. Something about spending 15 minutes finding a great deal and then another 3 hours to get through the check out line just didn’t appeal to me. So, I cozied in my pajamas and spend the day and evening writing.
After a day of writing yesterday, last night was Daddy’s Home 2 with the bearded fellow (not Santa Claus) and came home for pizza and beer and a movie on television.
Starting this week, I want to give you a free story just for following my blog. I am sharing with you my story from the Crossroads Romance Writers Anthology from two years ago. Faith’s Hope was part of The Hope Chest collection and starting today, Part One is free. I hope you enjoy this paranormal romance set in the steamy streets of New Orleans….
Two strangers fated to meet...And bring a Civil War love affair full circle.
Faith Marshall picked her way around a discarded Colt 45 can still encased in a soggy brown bag and stepped over a crack in the sidewalk. She smiled as she remembered skipping alongside her mother when she was a little girl. Her mother had teased, “Don’t step on the crack or you’ll break your mother’s back.” It seemed like a lifetime ago. A carefree child in a small rural community dressed in a pretty dress and shiny black Mary Janes. Her brown braids bounced, and her hazel eyes danced with happiness as she accompanied her beloved mother to the drug store with its old time sundry counter. But not anymore. Probably never again. The image that had looked back at her this morning in the cheap motel mirror had been gaunt and haunted with dark circles under her eyes with her brown hair up in a haphazard bun because she just hadn’t had the energy to do anything with it.
The neglected neighborhood was scattered with patches of dirt. A few clumps of weeds and sun-scorched grass were scattered precariously in front of the houses that actually had yards. It was a shame that houses that were built over a century or more ago and probably held so much history were being permitted to fall apart. Faith approached the dilapidated house where a hand made FOR RENT sign was hanging from the wrought iron fence haphazardly. The light blue paint peeled in strips, revealing aged wood below. A white shutter hung in disrepair from the window directly next to the narrow alley facing her, and she noticed the curtains move as she approached. Faith had called from the motel after seeing the advertisement posted in the all-night coin laundry the night before, so the owner was expecting her.
The gate screeched ominously as she pushed it open. “A little WD40 would fix that…” She chuckled as she realized she spoke the same words her grandfather had always used when fixing things around her childhood home. WD40 and duct tape would fix anything he used to say. A small patch of dirt lined either side of the sidewalk leading to the shotgun double and set of wind chimes hung lifelessly from the porch—gallery—as it was called down here in New Orleans. She approached the set of steps on the left side of the house and noticed that a couple of geraniums drooped lifelessly in the clay pots on either side of the top step. A little water would probably help.
The woman on the phone last evening told her to come to the pink door. Faith shook her head as she looked at the door that was only partially painted a hot pink color. Lifting her hand, she started to knock only to have the door open before her small fist could rap on the glass. Startled, she looked down at the tiny elderly woman standing inside the doorway.
A pair of wire-rimmed glasses were perched on the woman’s nose, and cornflower blue eyes peered over the top of them. Pink rouge accented her wrinkled cheeks and her thin lips bore the brightest red lipstick Faith had ever seen. But what really caught Faith’s eye was the hair. It was so red, it bordered on orange. Flamboyant. There was no other word to describe the woman who had to be close to ninety.
“Miss Marshall, I presume?” Standing back, she motioned with her jewelry adorned wrist and hand toward the interior of the house. “Come now, don’t just stand there gaping at me like a fool. Come into the parlor so we don’t let the air conditioning cool that ghastly heat out there on the gallery. I’m Francis Devereaux, but you can call me Frankie.”
Faith stepped inside the cool interior, and her nose filled with the scent of roses, musty age and lemon furniture polish. It was like walking from modern day right into the Victorian age. Despite the exterior of the house being rundown, inside was an entirely different story. A magnificently colored rug covered almost all of the floor except for where polished wood peeked out around the edges. A Greek revival settee was intricately carved from beautiful cherry wood and upholstered with gold brocade. An ornately carved mantle stood out against the brick of a fireplace against the far wall. The room opened on the other side into what appeared to be a bedroom, and an oil-painted landscape hung over the bed. A lush fern sat on a wicker stand in the corner by the front window.
The elderly woman sat on the settee and patted the space beside her. “Sit. Let’s chat a bit before I decide if I’ll show you the apartment or not.” When Faith didn’t immediately join her, she patted the spot a little bit more insistently with a twinkle in her eyes. “I promise I don’t bite.”
Faith crossed the room and sat down in a cloud of fragrance — one of those heady department store scents that overwhelmed shoppers entering the cosmetic section. A perfume Faith always associated with wealth and older women. Her own preference leaned more toward fresh and light. She clasped her hands on her lap, doing her best to hide the nails that were bitten almost to the quick.
The bright blue eyes were sharp and piercing, making Faith feel like the woman could see inside her head. Like she could see the secrets hidden there. “Mrs. Devereaux…”
“Frankie. Please. My mother was Mrs. Devereaux, God rest her soul.” She lifted the lid on a ceramic dish and pushed it toward Faith. “Have a mint. Buttercream. I get them down in the Quarter at a shop right by the French Market. Have you been there?”
Faith shook her head. It had only been three days since her arrival in New Orleans. The first day in the ratty motel she’d slept for over twenty hours. On the second day, Faith pulled herself together and searched the classifieds for job options and had found a waitress job at a coffee shop in the French Quarter. She had withdrawn enough from her savings account back home to pay the deposit and first month’s rent on the apartment and get whatever she needed to start her life over.
Frankie stood up and reached in the pocket of her dress to produce a key. “I highly recommend you go check out the French Market.” She motioned for Faith to follow her, looking over her shoulder once. “New Orleans is a good place for hiding out and starting over. I speak from experience.”
Stop back next week to read the next part of this story….
Yes, fall is back with all its glorious colors and fragrances. Vivid watercolor sunrises over golden fields. Full moons over frosted terrain. This is my favorite time of the year and you will find a lot of my books are set in the fall. Who doesn’t love a romantic evening bundled up in front of a bonfire or curled up inside under a warm blanket with a cup of hot spiked cider? Or how about watching the boys of fall from your hometown move that football down the field?
I could sit all day in my living room listening to the wood crackle and pop in the wood stove in my pajamas and write romantic tale after romantic tale. Alas, there are a lot of stories in my head and I have to finish one before I can move on to the next and by that time, there are several more stories just waiting to come out.
Right now, I am penning the finishing chapters of Threefold which is Book 2 of my Summers Sisters series. Alana, Teagan, and Riana are Wiccan sisters who are called upon by recent events in their hometown which brings to light an entity that was long buried by their ancestors as well as ancestors of a Native American tribe. If you haven’t gotten to read Blessed Be—Book 1 of the series—it is still only 99 cents on Kindle. Threefold will be released by Thanksgiving and the final excerpt—Namaste—will be ready by the end of 2017.
You might wonder what else is on the horizon for me…well, I’m going to give you a sneak preview right now. Starting with a short story that I will be writing for an anthology with a group of awesome authors I met last year at Wild Deadwood Reads. This will be a historical set in the lawless early days of prostitutes and gambling in Deadwood, South Dakota and the proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Rider Relief Fund that helps families of rodeo riders. Speaking of Wild Deadwood Reads, I will again be attending the event in June 2018 and I hope you can join me there.
Next on the agenda, I am going to attempt a new genre. I have a muse who has given me a couple of ideas for something out of the romance genre. To write these books, I am going to be assuming the identity of Ann Nevada as I tell the tale of a congresswoman who is dead set on revoking the Second Amendment right of gun ownership until a fateful day when an NRA member steps in and saves the life of a loved one. Ann will also be writing about an equalizer type person who gets even with some narcissistic and greedy guys by using their own DNA to frame them for crimes they did not commit. Watch for the first Ann Nevada book sometime in Spring 2018.
Some of you may know I also write erotica under the name of Autumn Drake. The first two books of Autumn’s Diary of a Prostitute have been released for a couple of years now, but you will see a couple more in the next few months. Both are novellas and can be found on Kindle for 99 cents.
Finally, I am going to jump on the novella bandwagon under my own name and release a couple of stories that were part of the Crossroads Romance Writers Anthologies—The Hope Chest and The Porch Swing—one is a paranormal set in New Orleans and the other is a historical set in the prairie.
I can’t promise a new, full-length novel every month but I can promise you something new each month and if you will subscribe to my newsletter by emailing me at email@example.com my beautiful, new personal assistant—AKA my daughter Andrea—will get you added and you will have first- hand knowledge of what is new in the pipeline.
With mention of my new personal assistant, I am delighted to introduce Andrea Moore who has agreed to work for me to make sure my readers are kept in the loop. She will be doing regular Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts as well as making sure my newsletter gets out each month and my blog posts are put up each week. I am so grateful to have her assistance because it will free up my time to write a lot more. Andrea is my oldest daughter and she lives with her husband Jimmy about 5 miles from me. She has given me two awesome grandchildren—Ethan who is 16 and Morgan who will be 13 this weekend. Watch for her on Facebook this next few weeks as she does some giveaways!
Thank you for stopping by my page as part of the "Don't Let Summer End" blog hop. I think the two things that I'm going to miss most about summer is my barefoot gardening and watching my new hummingbird friends on my back porch swing in the evening. Or, perhaps the sunshine kissing my skin and the brightly colored wildflowers in my bird garden. And let's not forget, eating fair food or food grilled outside on the grill.
Seriously, I'm an autumn person myself but I'm beginning to think that I could do summer for more than three months a year. Like maybe six with the other seasons getting two each.
Here is an excerpt from my latest release...Home Stretch...which is book 3 of my Possum Creek series...I hope you enjoy and I hope you stop back frequently in the future to visit my blog!
The heat in the kitchen of the little diner was almost unbearable and Charlotte Grimes picked up the little fan on her desk in the corner and held it closer to her face. Like that was going to do any good. She glanced at the slender gold watch on her wrist and shook her head. Where was that son of hers and his buddy? They promised to come by an hour ago to take a look at the air conditioning unit. Here it was close to ninety degrees with no relief in sight according to that blasted weather man and her air conditioner had to take a big dump.
She kept telling herself that she was going to start taking a vacation about this time of the year. August in eastern Tennessee was still pretty darned hot despite the mountain air. Who was she kidding? It had nothing to do with the heat and everything to do with the big event up at Bristol this time every year. The race crowd came and invaded every town within driving distance of the track for a full week. And seeing all of them reminded her of Tommy.
Thomas Grimes, Senior had been gone for over twenty years now but she still got emotional when she remembered the day that he had agreed to drive one last race for the number one team on the circuit at the time. One last race baby. Then I’ll quit driving and do something else for the team. Those words had echoed in her mind every lonely night for the years he had been gone. He had kept his word. It had been his last race. Ever. She would never forget the scene as it unfolded while she watched on the television in the team’s travel bus. The bright red car with the number 61 driven by her husband as it lost control on the two hundred and first lap coming out of the third turn. Slamming into one of his team mates then going airborne and hitting the fence. He had died on impact. Two days before their son Tom’s fifth birthday.
Char pushed the memories out of her head. This happened every time the race teams and fans started descending upon the area. The first car haulers had rolled into Bristol last week and the surrounding area hotels, motels, cabins and bed and breakfasts would be full by race week. It was good for business…it just wasn’t good for her soul.
Get the whole Possum Creek Series here https://www.amazon.com/Possum-Creek-3-Book/dp/B071L6KJ4V/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1502496227&sr=8-8&keywords=teresa+keefer+kindle