What a Way to Start the Day Promotion

When you get one friend to either subscribe to my Facebook group or subscribe to my Blog, you will both receive a FREE download of “What a Way to Start the Day,” my paranormal short story. Simply have your buddy post a comment in my Facebook group [http://tinyurl.com/Ella-FB-Group] or on my Blog [http://ellagrey.wordpress.com] telling me who sent them and then send me an email letting me know you posted so I can give you your download. It’s as simple as telling a friend! Send emails to samanthaallard@hotmail.co.uk. Promotion ends 5/31/2012 so hurry up.

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Reenacting a Murder by Wayne Zurl (On Sale Now)

Reenacting a Murder by Wayne ZurlOne potential witness said, “Whitey wasn’t the best-liked member of the reenacting community, but who would have thought he’d end up like this?”

When Prospect, Tennessee Police Chief Sam Jenkins attends the town’s annual heritage festival it not only satisfies his interest in Early American history, it draws him into the investigation of another murder on “the peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Local antique dealer, G. Nobel Whitehead, has been savagely killed. As former New York detective turned police chief wades through a cadre of quirky local characters to learn how the victim’s shady dealings lead to his demise the questions just keep popping up.

Did Whitehead’s attraction to a half-Cherokee woman trouble her fiancé enough to commit murder? Or did the victim cheat one of his customers? The only thing for certain is that someone really wanted him dead.

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Meet Wayne Zurl:

After retiring from a twenty year career with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, Wayne Zurl turned his hand to writing.

He began with non-fiction in 1996 and had 26 articles on Colonial American history and the books of James Fenimore Cooper published in magazines.

In 2006 he switched to fiction, writing about Sam Jenkins, a retired New York detective lieutenant who found a job as chief in a fictional East Tennessee town. To date, eight of his novelettes are being produced as audio books and published in several eBook formats.

Wayne’s first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was traditionally published and released in January of 2011.

All his stories bring the reader procedures and dialogue tempered by twenty years of investigative and supervisory experience with one of largest municipal departments in the country.

For more information about Wayne Zurl and all the Sam Jenkins mysteries, 

[Blog][Twitter][Facebook][LinkedIn][Manic Readers][Website]

Quick Facts:

Author Name: Wayne Zurl
Title: Reenacting a Murder
Word Count:
10,500
ISBN:
9781590808535
Price:
.99
Genre:
police mystery
Target Audience (Ages):
18 and Older
Author Email:
wayzur865@aol.com

Immortal Echoes: The Forgotten Echo by Jen Wylie

Sometimes death is only the beginning…

Even after the bad day she’s had, Cassy is still surprised to find herself shot, an innocent bystander in a drive by shooting. Bleeding to death in an empty parking lot, she knows she is going die.

What she doesn’t expect, is the arrival of a strange, and unnaturally handsome, man who tells her he can keep her from passing on in return for being his forever. In desperation, she agrees but afterwards she is beyond dismayed to discover she has died.

To make matters worse, the stranger has disappeared, leaving her spirit to wander through a series of worlds unknown to her. Her existence is one of fear and loneliness, until she meets another like her and discovers she’s not a ghost at all but something much more.

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Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate, she dislikes the snow and cold.
Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales. Thanks to her mother, she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel.

Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

Excerpt:

Maybe if I hadn’t turned to look I would have been alright. Well, maybe not. Things would have been different if I hadn’t stopped to get milk. If I hadn’t worked late I wouldn’t have stopped at this particular corner store on my way home. If I’d been quicker, or longer, inside the store, I wouldn’t have walked into the middle of a gang fight. If…if…if…

I barely made it to the parking lot before the yelling and shooting started. A car sped by, passengers shooting at their rivals two feet from me. In reflex, I turned as the car passed. A bullet ripped through me like a punch to the stomach. The force knocked me up against the side of a van.

I looked down in, yes, surprise. I don’t know what kind of guns they had, but the shot went right through me. Gasping in panic, I stared in shock at the blood blossoming through my white blouse. Pain radiated from the exit wound in my lower back. Shit. This couldn’t be happening!

The street kids shouted obscenities. Another shot echoed in the night. Ducking instinctively, I slipped around the back of the van. I had to get to my car, find safety.

I stumbled, leaving bloody handprints on a few cars. I’d been shot. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen. My brain refused to believe it. I didn’t make it far. Everything spun, fading in and out. Shit. Somewhere I dropped my purse. My keys were in there. Damn dress pants with no decent pockets.

When did I fall to my knees? I toppled to the hard asphalt and rolled to my back. I instinctively pressed my wound, trying to stop the warm, sticky blood pumping from me.

The pain twisted around and through me, but dim and distant, like it wasn’t mine at all. I certainly wasn’t going to argue. I didn’t have anyone to argue with anyway.

Screams echoed from the store, but the parking lot remained quiet and empty. Except for me.

Should I bother calling for help? I didn’t waste my fading energy. First, they wouldn’t hear me, not over the noise they were making. Second, I was dying. Not to be melodramatic, but seriously, I’d been shot. Blood coated my hands and poured from my wounds, running down my side, pooling beneath me. My blouse clung to my skin.

My eyes closed and I heard the blood pumping out of me. My life’s blood, as I’d heard it called once.

Tears fell, cold on the side of my face. Damn it, I didn’t want to die. I guess no one did, though. Death just happened. You could die any day, get struck by lightning, run over by a bus, or as in my case, caught in a drive-by shooting.

Thankfully, I didn’t have a family who needed me. My parents died years ago, and I hadn’t spoken to my sister in Nevada in at least four years. No husband, no boyfriend…thank god, no children. No one to miss me. That hurt more than I expected. Dying alone.

I’m afraid of dying.

Afraid of what came next, if anything. I didn’t want to simply end. I didn’t want to be forgotten.

I heard faint laughter, like bells and little children and angels. It made me smile. Which said something, since I was dying. Or was I dead already?

The sound grew closer, but not very much louder. As I listened, I picked out tiny voices within the laughter.

“Come, come!”

“We found her! We did! We found her for you!”

“Hurry, hurry!”

Their words didn’t make any sense, and the little voices tumbled over each other so I missed more than I actually heard.

“It’s time! Come, come!”

I opened my eyes, not because I wanted to, but because dancing lights flickered though my lids and caught my attention.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the voices, to find a dozen tiny, glowing people surrounding me. They continued their constant babble, and one flew so close I saw its wings before it darted away again.

They were no larger than a quarter, and were mostly wings. Their thin naked bodies glowed a pale gold, their wings beautiful rippling shades of orange and red. From even a short distance, they looked like little dancing flames.

Other than a most interesting distraction from dying, I had no idea what they were. Would I know if I was dead?

“Quickly, quickly!”

I wanted to close my eyes again. The cops hadn’t arrived yet, but it felt like I’d been on the ground forever, losing myself. Bleeding away. I’d never been so frightened, so helpless, in my life. A strange calmness washed over me, likely since I couldn’t help myself. Soon I would be dead. End of story.

I watched the little dancing flames as I listened to my heart slow and my breathing turn shallow. Everything faded and the flames rose up, their angelic babble so loud and fast I couldn’t understand them.

I didn’t need to. The person they’d been calling had arrived.

He strode into my blurred field of vision, the flames parting before him only to gather again behind him and follow as he came to me. His lean body was clad neck to toe in black, his hair long and pale. He dropped to a knee at my side and the flames fanned out around him, lighting his hair and throwing his face into strange shadows. Too tired, too weak, I couldn’t focus on his hidden face.

Beneath the stench of my own blood, I smelled leather and freshly turned dirt, newly cut grass, and the sea. How bizarre. Cologne didn’t have such a natural range of scents.

Men didn’t often appear out of nowhere, heralded by little dancing flames either. Perhaps I had lost my mind.

He raised a hand just slightly and the babble silenced immediately. This frightened me. I don’t know if the fear arose because I missed the little childish voices, or because he’d brought these chaotic little beings to order so damn quickly.

“Mortal,” he said quietly, in a normal voice.

I blinked. He should sound like silk or honey, yet instead he sounded…human, a bit rough, but human.

“You die,” he continued.

“No shit.” I paused. Maybe I shouldn’t piss him off. Maybe he could help me.

He rested a hand on my chest. I hope he didn’t mind all the blood. “Your soul will soon leave this body.”

Or maybe not.

“Can you help me?” Certainly there was no harm in asking.

He inclined his head slightly. “I can keep you from passing on.”

His words brought hope. They also brought panic. I knew he wasn’t human. The dancing flames behind his head and the strange way he talked kind of tipped me off. Could I simply be imagining this? Could it be real? If this stranger wasn’t the creation of my dying mind, then what exactly was he? An angel or a demon? Perhaps the devil himself? I could ask, but I doubted a demon would admit to being one.

“You do not have much time. Do you wish to stay?”

I struggled to get my dying mind to think. I worked for a lawyer and wasn’t an idiot. There was always a catch. “What…what is the…cost?” Speaking while dying is hard.

“If I take your last breath into me, you will not truly die, but you will be mine forever.”

What did he mean by that? “I don’t…understand.”

The little flames darted around, mimicking my confusion. He said, “You are running out of time.”

He avoided answering me.

I tried to think, to get my eyes to focus. A choice like this shouldn’t be made without more information, but I didn’t have the strength or time to ask more questions. However, I also didn’t want to sell my soul to the devil, or anything equivalent.

I whimpered, both confused and terrified.

“I do not think she will.” He sighed and bowed his head. His voice sounded strangely sad. As he began to rise, I slipped my blood-covered hand over his. I think he smiled a little. “You must choose now.”

One breath away from death, I whispered, “Yes.”

The babbling flames echoed faintly as he bent and placed his lips on mine. The sudden touch startled me. I wasn’t prepared for his kiss. Even though I parted my lips to allow him to take my dying breath, I didn’t expect his tongue. I didn’t expect him to taste so sweet, either.

He must have felt my surprise, because his lips smiled around mine. He gently held my face, deepening the kiss. I won’t lie, I kissed him back. When someone kisses you the way he did you can’t help it.

I inhaled a breath through my nose, and suddenly understood. He was waiting.

I closed my eyes and let my breath escape into his mouth. The kiss changed as he took my breath into him.

I felt it enter him beginning a strangely euphoric experience. I floated and swirled and spun all at once. I did so all around him, through him.

“Mine forever,” he’d said. I understood this also. He drew me into him, bound me to him. Strangely, the sensation didn’t make me afraid. I’d made the right decision, hopefully. He may not have been an angel, but I didn’t think him to be a demon either.

“Thank you,” he whispered and withdrew.

I opened my eyes slowly. “Shouldn’t I be the…”

He wasn’t there to hear me.

I lay in stunned silence, staring blankly in the direction he had first appeared. Did I imagine it all in a state of shock? I felt normal. Tired, almost drained, but otherwise perfectly fine. I sat up and looked around. I saw no evidence of a strange man, no eerie little dancing flames. I ran my fingers tentatively over the bullet wound, expecting it to be healed over, gone.

I started to shake when my fingers found the hole.

The hole no longer bled, yet I definitely had one. No, I did not stick my finger in to see if it really did go all the way through. I blindly reached around to feel the larger wound in my back. It wasn’t quite as shocking to feel a hole there as well.

Breathing rapidly, I scrambled to my feet and froze. I remained on the pavement. Well, my body had.

Stunned, I stared at myself, unmoving, hands still over my wound and eyes closed. I didn’t breathe. Apparently, I had died.

Sometimes death is only the beginning…

Even after the bad day she’s had, Cassy is still surprised to find herself shot, an innocent bystander in a drive by shooting. Bleeding to death in an empty parking lot, she knows she is going die.

What she doesn’t expect, is the arrival of a strange, and unnaturally handsome, man who tells her he can keep her from passing on in return for being his forever. In desperation, she agrees but afterwards she is beyond dismayed to discover she has died.

To make matters worse, the stranger has disappeared, leaving her spirit to wander through a series of worlds unknown to her. Her existence is one of fear and loneliness, until she meets another like her and discovers she’s not a ghost at all but something much more.

Or something, considering I stood staring at myself.

With blood covered fingers, I rubbed my temples and tried to wrap my mind around everything. I’d died, but I was here. Lowering my hands, I stared at them. Although they weren’t blurry, I vaguely saw through them.

“Sonuvabitch.” I whirled, searching for the man. “What did you do?”

He didn’t answer, leaving me angry and frustrated because I didn’t understand. Clearly he wanted, or needed, to do whatever he did to me. Why had he left me like this?

I turned at the sound of sirens, and hesitantly wandered toward the sidewalk. No one acknowledged my existence. They weren’t ignoring me. You couldn’t ignore someone covered in blood. Not if you could see them.

They couldn’t, which didn’t make me happy either.

I’d become a ghost. Or something.

Numbly, I watched the police discover my body. I watched the paramedics declare me dead. In silence, I watched them take my body away.

I didn’t follow. I didn’t see much point.

Ex…closet

Like its predecessor, there is a real component to Ex Libris. The story to which Ex Libris is a sort-of, maybe, not-much-of-a-sequel, Off the Map, was originally written as a contest prize. Echelon had a contest and the prize was for the winners, ten of them, to be turned into characters and put into a story. I don’t know if I did it right, I wrote the entire thing about her. She was very much into taking care of animals, especially wounded ones, so I put her into a position where she had to care for a wounded monster, a griffin, with very sharp bronze feathers. Which was a bit of a mistake, as griffins are supposed to have regular feathers, it’s the harpies who have bronze feathers, but…oh well.

Then along came Confluence, that SF/F convention in Pittsburgh with the writing contest. That year the theme was ‘Metallic Feathers’. And here I was with a story about a beast with metallic feathers. So naturally the only real problem was to write a story about him.

I wish I could tell you how I came up with the idea for this story, the way I can with Off the Map. But I can’t. Off the Map and Steampunk Santa are the only stories I’ve written where I knew pretty much how I wanted it to go right from the start, even if the story took a few turns here and there, for form’s sake. I have another that will be coming out soon, Chasing His Own Tale 2, which has that distinction, but for a very different reason.

I would imagine that there was some other story that came out at about the same time that may have played a part, since the original title for the story was The Children’s Room (which was a sucky name, by the way, as anyone who’s read my post on titles would know). There are also lots of stories about things coming out of stories, which get believed into existence by those who read/watch/listen to them. I think they were making movies about characters stepping out of or into movie screens back in the Silent Era. For all I know I was watching Last Action Hero at the time. I suppose you remember where every story idea you ever had came from?

In any event my griffin got a life of its own. But where, and how?

Off the Map is an ebook, which would be read on a computer screen, and this was in pre-Kindle days. Not many people read ebooks then, but libraries (in my youthful imaginings) would have ebooks in their systems. Where would be more likely than a library? What would be more likely than my own library! So I set the story for Ex Libris in my own town library, as it was laid out at the time.

Not that I wanted to be obvious about it. It was a little joke I put in, at the start, using names that didn’t sound like standard (read: American-style, me being American and all) names at all, to give it a more straight-forward fantasy feel. In my office I work with a number of people who come from different countries, so I borrowed their names. Or they had nicknames, and I borrowed them. Whatever worked. (Which reminds me, that one of main characters is Raf, and there is a character in a Dave Duncan series named Rap, who steps through a magic casement window into another part of his world for an adventure. Maybe that had something to do with it, I don’t know.)

I suppose if I’d made either of them villains they might have gotten upset.

 

Ex Libris by Marc Vun Kannon

For centuries, brave and noble warrior-scholars have protected mankind from the most deadly fruits of its fertile imagination, binding dreams, lest they become very real nightmares. 

Over the many years, time and technology have shifted that balance yet again, making creatures of lore and legend virtually unstoppable. 

It is up to those very warrior-scholars to keep the creatures at bay, and if they should find their way out, to return them from whence they came before all is lost.

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Marc Vun Kannon was born in Bethpage, Long Island, and grew up with a complete collection of Oz books in his room, and Star Trek on the TV. After surviving his teen age years, he entered Hofstra University. Five years later, he exited with a BA in philosophy and a wife. He still has both, but the wife is more useful. 

A series of minor jobs followed, which allowed him to enter Graduate School for Philosophy. Although he chose not to complete the degree, his studies inspired him to write his first novel, Unbinding the Stone. His wife inspired him to have children. 

He went back to school, and completed a Computer Science degree. He also wrote his second novel, A Warrior Made, and a variety of short stories. Currently he is employed as a Tier One support engineer at Bottomline Technologies, a father to his three children, husband to his wife, and author to his books. 

He, and they, now reside in Wading River, Long Island, New York.

Lady Dorn by Sean Hayden

Lady Dorn is anything but a lady, she’s a vampire. A former member of the imperial guard and ennobled for saving the emperor’s life, she gave up on life and retired to her airship home. Now, the person responsible for the attacks on the vampire population has resurfaced, and Lady Dorn may be the only one who can stop them. Or will her luck come to an end at the hands of her most treacherous ally?

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Sean Hayden works in South Florida as a Fiber-optic Engineer for a cable communications company. 

Born in the Suburbs of Chicago he relocated to Florida as a child, where he grew up and attended school at a small Catholic elementary and high school. It was there, in literature class, he fell in love with books. Vampires especially fascinated him as well as the realm of possibilities of the urban fantasy genre. This fascination gave birth to his first novel, Origins.

He lives at home with his wife, children, and a plethora of pets.

Seducing Cupid (an excerpt) by Karen L. Syed

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Cupid stood sightless, the afternoon sun warming her bare shoulders. The arrow quivered in the bow, pulled back and ready to go. The sudden whir of an engine distracted her, but only for a moment.

“Cupid, wait!”

Twang!

The arrow left her grasp and soared through the still air to find its mark.

Cupid Albright pulled the blindfold off and looked down at her nephew, Mikey. “What’s wrong? Why’d you yell at me? I probably missed my target.”

“That depends on what you were aiming at,” came a rich baritone voice behind her.

Cupid twirled around.

Parked several yards away, sat the longest, shiniest, blackest limousine she’d ever seen. In the driver’s seat sat a man. A very handsome man.

“Oh Lord,” she mumbled aloud. Her arrow hung precariously from his cheek.

Protectively, she wrapped her arm around Mikey’s shoulder. The nine-year-old boy squirmed out of her grasp. She rushed after him when he darted toward the car.

“Wow, a real limousine!” Mikey rubbed his hand along the sleek metal. “Can I go inside?”

“Mikey, get over here and stop puttin’ fingerprints on the nice man’s car.”

“He’s all right,” the man said climbing out of the car.

Cupid’s attention traveled back to the driver of the limo. He pulled the arrow off his cheek, leaving a small ring of spit–her spit–glistening on his skin.

“I am really sorry. I didn’t mean to shoot you. We always practice out here. I was blindfolded and I’m–”

“I know, you’re sorry. I’m just thankful you don’t use real arrows.” He kept his tone light and his eyes sparkled a shade of blue that reminded her of–geez, she couldn’t think of anything she’d ever seen that was as blue as his eyes. For just a minute, she thought she might drown in them.

An image of a Bermuda vacation commercial came to mind. An endlessly deep pool of aquamarine shimmered before her.

“Aunt Cupid, look at this car.”

“Cupid?” A dimple appeared in his cheek when his lips curved up into a smile darn near as dazzling as his eyes. The damn dimple all but begged her to investigate.

“Aphrodite Albright.” She held her hand out toward him. “Everyone calls me Cupid.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

Anger instantly heated her cheeks and her temper rose. The last thing she wanted from him was another stupid joke about little blind boys who shot arrows of passion into the hearts of unsuspecting lovers. She’d had more than enough of that growing up. Flat as a board, front and back, she’d had the same haircut as her brother. Thanks to genetics, she’d never been the victim of the real Cupid’s fateful shot. To date, no men had fallen at her feet and pledged their undying love.

“No, I’m not joking.” The glint of humor in his eyes stoked her anger and she needed to get away from him before she did something horrible. “Mikey. Inside.”

“Look, Cupid–”

“Miss Albright,” she insisted.

His smile disappeared. “I didn’t mean to offend you. But you have to admit it is kind of funny.”

“There ain’t nothin’ funny about it at all. It just so happens I was born on Valentine’s Day and my parents were deeply in love.”

“I’ll say. They followed it all the way through.”

She pinned him with a wicked stare and delighted in watching him squirm. She fought down her smile when he dug his finger into his collar. It didn’t matter one single bit that she couldn’t catch her breath, or that she ached to know if his lips tasted as sweet as they looked. She forced her thoughts away from him and focused on the car behind him.

“You’re blockin’ my back door, and I have a delivery due. Besides, you’re invadin’ my space.”

That dang smile was back and she needed desperately to get away from this man, before she burst into flames.

“Doesn’t the Arrow Corporation own this lot?”

“What of it?” Cupid folded her arms across her chest, daring him to argue with her. “I pay my rent and that makes this a private alley.” The Texas twang creeping back into her voice annoyed her to no end. The hotter her temper got the more obvious her accent became.

He nodded his head toward the extended car. “Same folks that own this limo.”

A rush of panic overwhelmed her. Someone from Arrow Corporation was sitting in her alley and she was a month behind in the rent she’d claimed to pay. She considered falling down on her knees and begging them not to evict her. Maybe she could explain the situation. Things were a little slow at the moment. The first of the year was always rough, people coming down from their holiday highs. She knew the valentine’s specials would start rolling in any minute. She always had lots of pre-planned orders for candlelit dinners and boat rides.

“So, what exactly do you do, Cu–Miss Albright?”

“Obviously, I’m a specialty caterer.” She pointed to the sign tacked to her rear door.

“What kind of money do you make in a business like this?”

All of his questions rubbed her in all the wrong ways and her emotional wall of defense shot up around her. Just who does he think he is?

“Is there a problem? Did your boss come to kick me out? I am only a month behind and I know that–” She stopped when she noticed him leaning casually against the car smiling at her. “What are you starin’ at?”

“I don’t know diddly about your business, and I can honestly say the occupant of this car is in no position to toss you out on your cute little–well, er, your ear.”

His deep Texas drawl sent a twitter up the length of her spine. Shaking it off, she stared back at him.

The news that she wasn’t being evicted thrilled her, but it also sent her back to wondering what they were doing in the alley. Maybe they’re meetin’ someone to make some kind of illegal drug deal. Her eyes rolled at the thought. “Look, if you are doing somethin’ illegal, don’t do it in my alley.”

“And what is it you think we’re doing?” He crossed his arms over his chest. Russell Arrow hadn’t come across anyone quite as invigorating as her in a long time. She had a spunk most socialite women didn’t come close to possessing. That energy flashed in her hazel eyes.

Soft chestnut curls twirled around her face. Neatly trimmed bangs hung long, repeatedly flopping down into her eyes. She squared her shoulders and blew the bothersome locks away from her face. Not very lady-like, he thought, but cute as hell.

“Does your boss know what you’re out here doin’? I’m sure the president, or whoever, wouldn’t appreciate you hangin’ out in alleys doin’ lord knows what,” Cupid said caustically.

“We still haven’t established exactly what I’m doing.”

“So why don’t you tell me before I call the police and let them find out.”

“Is that really necessary?” Wouldn’t father love that? Rusty thought.

“You tell me, Mr.–?”

He hesitated before he answered. “Rusty.”

“Mr. Rusty. I think it’d be best if you just told me what you wanted and went along on your way.”

“My name is Rusty, not Mr. Rusty.” He eyed her appreciatively. Hmm, he thought. What do I want? Looking at her, the possibilities seemed endless. A night would be good. A lifetime would be perfect. “Why don’t we start with dinner?”

The intercom buzzer inside the car startled them both.

Rusty turned around, glaring at the window. He knew Cory was sitting back there sweating bullets. His friend had been nervous enough about the switch. He was sure to be a mess with as long as they’d been in the alley.

“Aren’t you gonna see what your boss wants?” She stood motionless, eyeing the tinted window.

Rusty wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t want to take the chance of one of his father’s tenants telling him what he and Cory had done. He decided just to duck and run. “I’ll just get out of your alley. It was a real pleasure to meet you.” He reached out and took her hand in his.

It had to be some kind of crime to have skin so soft and smooth in Texas. Her fingers wrapped gently around his and right then and there he knew he’d found heaven. It wasn’t the typical lusty feeling that shot through him. It was more of an awakening.

The simple gesture opened the floodgates and he contemplated falling down on his knees and begging her to run away with him. The buzzer sounded again. Without letting go of her hand, he reached back and opened the front car door. “I’ll be right there.”

Cupid, trying to squirm free, mumbled. “I’ve gotta go inside.”

Rusty could feel her tugging, but he wasn’t ready to let her go. Two more times the buzzer echoed. “Coming,” he growled.

“Really, I have to go.” She finally pulled free and backed away from him.”

“You never answered me about dinner.”

“I can’t. I’m babysitting. Just then, Cupid remembered Mikey. She turned around and found him standing in the doorway looking at her. She took one last glance at the stranger then hurried inside the building.

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