SEARCHING FOR HER: Did you know?

Some writers say they put bits of themselves into their stories. I, too, have incorporated parts of my life in my writing. I call it — Therapy. These are a few of my bits and pieces that sparked my series. (You may sense a Back in My Day theme as you read them.)

DID YOU KNOW I was compelled to write more of Joe’s backstory? He speaks for me. From an early age, Joe wanted to be an FBI agent and he wanted to find true love. Through hard work, he achieved the first. He’s struggling with the second and wonders if he’s worthy of love. I remember feeling that way, too.

DID YOU KNOW writing this is my acknowledgement to trust the Synchronicity of the Universe? I learned this from my friends Kass and Pam. I still prepare for the things I want to achieve in my life, but I’m less in a frenzy to make my “triangular” plan fit into a “round” Universe.

DID YOU KNOW throughout the eight-year span of this anthology I touch on Joe, Eva, and Taylor’s milestone events? A birth, a birthday, a graduation, and tragic deaths. These characters’ emotions will be a reflection of their motives later.

Download a FREE copy of Searching for Her from Instafreebie.

Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories about Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series, takes place after The Kindred Code leading into Chemical Attraction. During the eight-year span of these seven stories—as seen through the eyes of his family—Joe gradually loses faith that he’ll find his soulmate.

His sisters, Taylor and Eva, conspire to help him. Convinced Madeline Pierce is his perfect match, Eva and Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia push for a connection. Each time they try to force a meeting, it backfires.

Unbeknownst to Joe and his family, the Synchronicity of the Universe is at work. Can Joe decipher the subtle signs pointing him toward Destiny’s grand plan with Madeline? Many could die if he doesn’t.

 

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Meet Stuart Morgan from The Chemical Attraction Series

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the people in The Chemical Attraction Series. Taylor Valentine, Eva O’Sullivan, and Joe Roberts are siblings by choice. They’ve told me their story, and I wrote about their amazing journey. These interviews take place just after their adventure in Chemical Reaction. [trivial spoilers/no plot spoilers]

As a history professor and former Marine, Dr. Stuart Morgan, a blond, blue-eyed war hero, battles his inner demons. Although he longs for mental peace from an empathetic woman, his rigid rules prevent it.

In Their Rigid Rules, he meets Taylor in his Civil War seminar then throws out his strict rules to pursue her. Instead of sharing their personal struggles in The Kindred Code, they drift further apart. In Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, Stuart and Taylor remain supportive of Joe and the rest of their family. Today, Stuart answers a few questions for the fans of the Series.

CHRISTINA: Will we ever hear your military story that won you a medal?

STUART: Yes, Taylor and I discuss it in The Kindred Code. I had a hard time putting that time in my life behind me. Thankfully, I have Taylor and the rest of the family for support.

CHRISTINA: What do you do to cope with your PTSD?

STUART: It’s not something a lot of people know about. Although medication has helped many, I don’t take any because I don’t want that to be an issue with my job. Unfortunately, it would give the university president more ammunition against me. The negative connotation of perceived violence is why many vets with PTSD don’t seek medical help … myself included. Support from my family helps, and I work out every day at the gym. Although my symptoms have lessened, I still have occasional nightmares and panic attacks.

CHRISTINA: Are you and Matt Connor friendly? We haven’t seen much interaction between the two of you in the stories.

STUART: We’re married to sisters so, yeah, Matt and I hang out a lot. Joe’s usually there, too. He’s a smartass. Matt and I keep him grounded and enjoy giving him a hard time. Joe’s like our annoying little brother.

CHRISTINA: Have you and Joe worked out your issues over Taylor?

STUART: I worked out my issues with Joe a long time ago. It took him a while longer. Joe protected Taylor for much of her life. He focused on his career, which, I think, helped his transition with the changes. Joe cares about his sisters. You can’t fault him for that.

CHRISTINA: On a lighter note, are any of the football players in your history classes?

STUART: All of them are. It’s a requirement. Taylor once met me as my class let out. Talk about awestruck. She went gaga. The guys were all about meeting her because of our notoriety. She impressed them with her knowledge of the game. She even lectured the offensive linemen on their tells which gave away their blocking direction. I don’t tell Taylor when that class is. My students don’t need the added distraction, and I don’t need the competition.

CHRISTINA: Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans a look into your life. To read more about Stuart and Taylor’s romance, check out Their Rigid Rules and its sequel, The Kindred Code.

 

 

 

I Love Joe

 

I. Love.  Joe.

There … I said it. Joe Roberts IS my favorite character out of all my novels. Why? Well, like many of us, he’s searching for his purpose, he’s searching for love, and he’s searching for the woman, who will help him understand him.

I’ve described Joe as charismatic yet brooding, a womanizer on the surface. Deep down, Joe’s searching for an instant chemistry with his soulmate—the one person who will love him “for” his faults not “in spite” of them.

From an early age, Joe’s wanted to be an FBI agent and he’s wanted to find true love. Through hard work, he achieved the first. He’s struggling with the second and wonders if he’s worthy of love.

As an offshoot from The Chemical Attraction Series, Searching for Her is about Joe’s heartache. He’s slowly losing hope for that soul connection. He doesn’t realize that it’s always darkest before the dawn. I’ve been there. I know how he feels. He compelled me to write his story.

Would you like a behind-the-scenes look at Joe Roberts?
Searching for Her is FREE on Instafreebie

Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories about Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series, takes place after The Kindred Code leading into Chemical Attraction. During the eight-year span of these seven stories—as seen through the eyes of his family—Joe gradually loses faith that he’ll find his soulmate.

His sisters, Taylor and Eva, conspire to help him. Convinced Madeline Pierce is his perfect match, Eva and Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia push for a connection. Each time they try to force a meeting, it backfires.

Unbeknownst to Joe and his family, the Synchronicity of the Universe is at work. Can Joe decipher the subtle signs pointing him toward Destiny’s grand plan with Madeline? Many could die if he doesn’t.

Have you read The Chemical Attraction Series?
Please consider writing a review on any or all of the novels.
Thank you.
Christina’s Amazon Page

 

Meet Matthew Connor from The Chemical Attraction Series

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the people in The Chemical Attraction Series. Eva O’Sullivan, Taylor Valentine, and Joe Roberts are siblings by choice. They’ve told me their story, and I wrote about their amazing journey. These interviews take place just after their adventure in Chemical Reaction. [trivial spoilers/no plot spoilers]

Ruggedly handsome with a calm demeanor, Officer Matthew Connor had pushed any romantic life aside to focus on raising his eight-year-old son, David. Then, he meets Eva O’Sullivan in Their Rigid Rules. In The Kindred Code, he watches Eva take his hometown by storm. As the police chief, he steps up during Joe’s case in Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction. Today, he answers a few questions for the fans of the Series.

CHRISTINA: When you first saw Eva with David, what was your first thought?

MATT: Mesmerizing came to mind. She definitely spiced up my life. The first time she visited my home, she turned the town upside down. I didn’t think the Allenton gossip circuit could travel faster than the speed of light. Boy, that weekend it had.

CHRISTINA: How hard was it to be a single dad for the first eight years of David’s life?

MATT: Tough. Like I mentioned before, gossip is big in this town and stereotypes are even bigger. I’ve been the chief for nine years, but I’m still known as the guy who knocked up his high school girlfriend. Beth gave up her rights to David right after he was born while I embraced fatherhood. I wouldn’t have changed a thing though. David makes me a better person, and I strive to be the man he looks up to.

CHRISTINA: Uncovering a criminal network in your town, Joe created tension by not informing you about his case from the beginning. How’s your relationship with him now?

MATT: Man, I don’t want him to visit us anymore … too much drama when he’s around. Joking aside, I love Joe like a little brother. Years ago in The Kindred Code, Stuart and I helped him out of a sticky situation, which cemented a brothers’ bond among the three of us. Besides, I could do worse than have a federal agent and a college professor as brothers.

CHRISTINA: Just a couple more questions before I let you go. Do you want David to pursue a career in law enforcement?

MATT: It’s his choice. Eva’s not keen on the idea, but she accepts it. David’s smart and has made responsible choices so far. As a dad, I have to trust he’ll continue to do that. There’s not much else I can do.

CHRISTINA: I get the feeling that your responsibilities take over much of your life. What do you do for fun?

MATT: Ha. Not having much fun these days. I enjoy spending time with my wife and I crochet to relax. It’s meditative. My mother taught me years ago. I made David’s first baby blanket, and I donate the baby blankets I make now to our local hospital. After seeing the basket of yarn next to our sofa, Joe gave me a hard time until Eva told him what I did with the finished ones. Boy, did he feel bad. His niceness lasted for a month. It really creeped Eva out.

CHRISTINA: Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life.

Read more about the chemistry of Matt and Eva’s first meeting in Their Rigid Rules (Book One). Then follow up with their touching romance in The Kindred Code (Book Two).

Their Rigid Rules (Book One)

The Kindred Code (Book Two)

 

If you obey all the RULES, you miss all the fun.

“If you obey all the RULES, you miss all the fun.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

One of the reasons for the second edition release of The Chemical Attraction Series is to put it in chronological order. Captivating, fast-paced, suspenseful, and romantic, Their Rigid Rules is now the first book in the Series. Learn more about these characters from the beginning:

Taylor Valentine, a senior at Western Michigan University, has had her life planned out since kindergarten. After her parents died while she was still in high school, she had perfected it to make them proud. Now with the help of her best friends, Joe and Eva, she focuses on graduation and a career with romance in the far distant future. However, when the visiting professor enters the lecture hall to a four-weekend Civil War seminar, her perfect plan hits a snag.

As a handsome history professor and former Marine, Dr. Stuart Morgan has his own set of strict rules especially with infatuated students. He enjoys his boring yet pleasant life until he starts receiving death threats. With his unwanted bodyguard in tow, Stuart is unnerved by his reaction to Taylor.

Their rigid rules discourage all but a flirtation. With the threats from family and foe pulling them apart, Stuart must somehow convince Taylor to break her rules and embrace a new plan.

Grab your copy for ONLY $0.99

(the sale ends soon)

Their Rigid Rules (Book One)

Ten Reasons to Read/Reread The Chemical Attraction Series

Here are my TEN REASONS why you should read/reread The Chemical Attraction Series:

#10 – The Re-release of the Series

One of the reasons for the second edition release is to put the Series in chronological order. The newest novel, The Kindred Code, is the sequel to Their Rigid Rules. (Saying the sequel to the prequel was a mouthful.) With the order change, I was able to add more scenes to Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction for a smoother transition. I love the result and think you will, too.

#9 – A New Addition

The Kindred Code is divided into three storylines: Matt & Eva’s budding romance, Peter & Joe’s new working relationship, Taylor & Stuart’s engagement struggles.

I love Matt and David’s bond. Matt’s a great dad always putting David first. All of a sudden, he meets Eva, who completely mesmerizes him. They aren’t saving the world, only each other. However, it’s not all wine and roses for Stuart and Taylor. They’re together but miles apart; and it’ll stay that way until they share their pain and fears.

Meanwhile, Joe and Peter work on an unofficial assignment before Joe heads to Quantico for his FBI training. Joe simply has to sweet talk the waitress for information, but they soon uncover a sinister plot. This novel picks up two weeks after Their Rigid Rules.

#8 – Hot Alpha Men

As a history professor and former Marine, STUART MORGAN, a blond, blue-eyed war hero, battles his inner demons. Although he longs for mental peace from an empathetic woman, his rigid rules prevent it.

Ruggedly handsome with a calm demeanor, Officer MATT CONNOR recovers from a gunshot wound obtained while on duty. As a single parent, he pushes any romantic life aside and focuses on raising his eight-year-old son, David.

Charismatic yet brooding, JOE ROBERTS is a womanizer on the surface. Deep down, he’s searching for an instant chemistry with his soulmate, the one person who will love him for his faults not in spite of them.

#7 – Strong Sexy Women

TAYLOR VALENTINE, a natural beauty, embraces her vanilla tendencies. Her plan for her life reinforces those traits. Kindhearted, she doesn’t apologize for giving people the benefit of the doubt.

EVA O’SULLIVAN, a petite Irish spitfire with auburn spiral curls, has big opinions, and you know them whether you want to or not. Masking her vulnerability, she wears her willfulness like armor.

Akin to Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, MADELINE PIERCE, a dedicated scientist, has pain in her heart from an abusive relationship. With her Ice Queen persona set, she hides within the realm of her research.

#6 – More Romance

I consider my Series to be equal parts romance and thriller. I think the romance and action feed off each other creating the suspense. Now, there’s more romance as I delve deeper into Eva and Matt’s and Taylor and Stuart’s relationships. The combo of respect and humor in Joe and Peter’s bromance is also fleshed out in both Their Rigid Rules and The Kindred Code.

In Chemical Attraction, Joe’s player ways hinder his potential relationship with Madeline during the case. I’ve amped up their sexual tension. While finishing the case in Chemical Reaction, Joe cares deeply for Madeline. His actions reflect his love for her, intensifying the decisions and choices he makes to save her from her abductor… some good, some bad. He’s torn between his personal desire and his professional integrity.

#5 – Based on Real Places

I love giving a shout out to Michigan where all four seasons can be felt in a single week. In Their Rigid Rules, I describe autumn at Western Michigan University. In The Kindred Code, winter in Michigan is my main focus. I also mention Allegan’s Regent Theater, the Grill House, Minnie’s Diner, and Marr Haven Wool Yarn Farm.

In Chemical Attraction, I’ve referenced a hot humid summer in Allegan (aka Allenton), its beautiful boardwalk along the Kalamazoo River, Bubba’s bar, the Griswold Auditorium (aka my fictional Hartford Auditorium), and the Delano Mansion Inn (aka Sylvia’s B & B).

Although the external description of the Delano Inn and Sylvia’s B & B is the same, the inside couldn’t be more different. I refer to Sylvia’s as a comfortable farmhouse-style B & B. The Delano has a classy Victorian-style decor. If you get a chance to stay there, do. The owner Marcia Neigebauer goes out of her way to make you feel welcome … much like Sylvia, my fictional owner.

Summer carries over into Chemical Reaction. The focus is back on Allegan, Detroit, and the Great Lakes. Although I’ve lived in Michigan most of my life, I still learned so much more about the Great Lakes and the Welland Canal’s locks between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario that bypasses Niagara Falls.

#4 – Science & Holistic Aspects

What happens when science runs amuck? Who has the courage to stop it?

With a degree in Biology and a diploma in Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, I’m passionate about science as well as holistic health. In Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, a nanotechnology drug designed as a medical cure ends up a bio-weapon. Meanwhile, for Joe and Madeline, the healing power of love is incredibly profound. I love exploring the physical science, the emotional workings of our mind and heart, and the spiritual energy that taps into our passions.

#3 – New Cover Art

Although I like the original cover art, I love the newer versions … simplistic and meaningful to the novels. When Taylor meets Stuart for the first time, her life’s plan goes up in flames in Their Rigid Rules. A single ring in The Kindred Code changes the family dynamic forever. With the recently added scenes to Chemical Attraction, the cell phone in the water fits perfectly within the storyline while the floating beaker in Chemical Reaction represents the chase along the Great Lakes.

#2 – More Humor

Throughout the Series, Joe, Taylor, and Eva needle each other with playful sibling banter. In The Kindred Code, Joe’s joking nature tests his and Peter’s new working friendship while Taylor’s and Eva’s first impressions with their future mothers-in-law go awry then increasingly worse. With the additional scenes to Chemical Attraction, Joe’s Fun Phone wreaks havoc in his pursuit of Madeline, who isn’t falling for his lame pickup lines.

#1 – My Best has gotten Better

I had the opportunity to improve the stories with everything I’ve learned over the last few years. These characters have been in my head for over a decade. Now, I’m able to share more of their backstory. A special thanks to my publisher, Juanita Samborski. I’m grateful for her faith in the Series and in me. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished.

The Chemical Attraction Series on AMAZON

*****

Goodreads Author Page

48fourteen Publishing

The Chemical Attraction Series Facebook Page

Chemical Attraction: New Cover & New Content

Here’s a sneak peek into some of the new content:

With his FBI badge hanging off a chain around his neck, Joe Roberts, in jeans and a t-shirt, set a file and large coffee on the counter in the FBI reception area in the McNamara Federal Building in downtown Detroit. He patiently waited for Jane Whitmore, the young doe-eyed woman behind the counter, to hang up her phone.

On the early Saturday morning, he glanced around the empty area. Offices surrounded the perimeter of the floor with the hallways connecting as a square. Eight large rooms in the middle were used for meetings, evidence, and work areas.

Joe liked the shared space in the larger work room with his team although they probably didn’t. Known as a hardass, he had vowed that no one would ever get hurt on his watch. His solemn promise rivaled the FBI’s motto of Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity.

When Jane hung up her phone, Joe handed her the coffee. “Thanks for coming in on your day off. Is he here yet?” The whole office had the day off. Except for a rare three-day weekend, he hadn’t taken a real vacation in years.

“No, but you can wait in his office,” she replied, smelling the coffee’s cinnamon aroma, her favorite.

Joe shifted his legs as he leaned on the counter. “I dropped my work phone in the … well … let’s just say it got wet. Can you acquisition me another?”

She smiled. “Sure. I’ll have one for you Tuesday.”

“No hurry. I’ll be gone for a week or so. I have my private cell until then.” Joe took her picture with his cell then added her number to his contact list.

“At the Director’s request, I had the black suit you leave here for court pressed. It should arrive after your meeting,” Jane said.

“Moneypenny, you deserve another raise,” he replied.

“Sweet talker.”

“Hey, hey, you know the rules. If your father caught me flirting with you, he’d assign me to an Alaskan outpost,” Joe said.

Jane laughed. “And here I thought you liked living on the edge. I wouldn’t tell.”

“Seriously? He’d ship you to a convent.”

“Good point. By the way, be thankful you’re leaving. I heard Rita has her sights set on you this week,” Jane said.

Joe cringed. “I’m glad you have my back.” After checking the empty area again, Joe leaned over the counter and gave her a peck on the cheek.

Inside Division Director Peter Bingaman’s large office, with a sofa, coffee table, and private bathroom, Joe sat in one of the three chairs across from the enormous desk. Propping his feet on the corner of it, he leaned back and stared at the woman’s headshot clipped to the front of the file. With her golden brown hair in a bun, she smiled back at him. He wondered how long her hair was. When the Director walked in, Joe snapped back to his new assignment.

Peter shoved Joe’s tennis shoes off the edge of his desk before sitting behind it. “Jane’s out there grinning like the cat that ate the canary. What did you do?” Peter demanded.

“What do you mean? She’s waiting for my suit to arrive,” he replied, sitting up in his chair.

“You called her Moneypenny again, didn’t you? Never mind. Just give me the specifics on this new case.”

Joe passed him the thin file. “Well, I ID’d the anonymous caller as Dr. Madeline Pierce. She’s a scientist working with nanotechnology at BennTech’s Research Facility in Allenton. Her call didn’t give us much information though.”

“It warrants attention. You may have to deal with Matt Connor,” Peter said, glancing at Madeline’s picture on the file.

“I’m a professional, Pete. I would never let my personal life interfere with my career.”

“How many times have we been over this, Agent Roberts? I’m Director Bingaman in this building.”

Joe snorted. “Yes, Sir. Eva and my brother-in-law won’t be an issue.” When Joe’s cell vibrated, he checked it. A sexy brunette’s photo identified her as the caller. Cringing, Joe let it go to voicemail then snapped a picture of Peter to add to his contacts. “I gotta use my private cell until Jane orders me another work one.”

“Don’t get distracted with your Fun Phone. That’s what Eva calls it, right?”

Joe scowled. “Yeah, that’s what she calls it. She’s been bugging me to go to the memorial fundraiser there … so two birds.”

Peter chuckled at Madeline’s picture then set aside the file. “A word of warning: Your sister has an agenda. She called me to make sure you had a few days off to attend that party,” he said, leaning back in his chair.

“Great. Another setup,” Joe replied, rubbing the back of his head.

“Have fun with that. I only want work-related updates, especially since this scientist researches and develops drugs.”

With a nod, Joe stood. Out of respect for his mentor, he used his t-shirt to wipe off his shoe smudge from the desk before leaving.

Grab your copy of Chemical Attraction on July 19th

In the meantime, add CHEMICAL ATTRACTION to Goodreads

And sign up for updates and giveaways: CHRISTINA’S NEWSLETTER

An Auspicious Day

JULY 19th will be a big day for me … and for you. Have you heard? We’re re-releasing The Chemical Attraction Series with a new book order, a new novel (The Kindred Code), new covers, and new scenes.

These characters have been in my head for over a decade. I can’t wait to share more of their story.

Also on that day, I’m giving away Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories based on the Series. However, it’s an exclusive offer for subscribers of my newsletter.

Sign up now: CHRISTINA’S NEWSLETTER

THEN, on JULY 19th, you’ll receive a reminder about the re-release AND the link to download your FREE copy of Searching for Her.

***

In the meantime, can I entice you with the blurb and excerpt from Searching for Her?

***

Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories about Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series, takes place after The Kindred Code leading into Chemical Attraction. During the eight-year span of these seven stories—as seen through the eyes of his family—Joe gradually loses faith that he’ll find his soulmate.

His sisters, Taylor and Eva, conspire to help him. Convinced Madeline Pierce is his perfect match, Eva and Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia push for a connection. Each time they try to force a meeting, it backfires.

Unbeknownst to Joe and his family, the Synchronicity of the Universe is at work. Can Joe decipher the subtle signs pointing him toward Destiny’s grand plan with Madeline? Many could die if he doesn’t.

***

…Standing next to Maggie, Joe put his elbow on the bar and angled his body toward her. Her friend had left, and she sat bored watching the football game. She ignored him until he spoke.

“Do you see my friends over there?” He casually pointed to Orr and Anderson. “The ones you shot down earlier.”

She glanced at them then looked at Joe. Instead of reaming him like the other undercover agents, she blinked then smiled unfurrowing her brow, a glint of arousal in her eye. He had her full attention now as if he hypnotized her.

“Unfricking believable,” Peter muttered through Joe’s ear com. He had no idea how Joe did that. His eyes? His smile? Sorcery?

“Yes, I remember,” she replied with a softness she hadn’t used before. Was she under Joe’s spell?

With his finger, Joe lightly touched the inside of her wrist on the hand that suddenly stopped caressing the condensation on the glass of her mixed drink. “Well, they bet me forty dollars that I couldn’t get you to kiss my cheek…”

~ from “Peter’s Pet”

***

…Katie Kelley, their young busty waitress, set two more fresh frosted mugs in front of them. Her tight jeans and low-cut Dugan’s t-shirt accentuated her curves and cleavage. “Peter, who’s your cute friend?”

Sitting up straighter, Joe smiled. Peter could feel Joe’s pheromones waft toward Katie. He pictured a smoke-shaped hand reaching out of the fog seductively luring her closer. With a sigh, he sat back not wanting to get sucked into the crosscurrent.

“Katie, Joe’s a colleague,” he replied as an introduction.

“Ooh, a sexy guy with a good job. How irresistible!” She squeezed Joe’s bicep before leaving.

“I really hope she’s not related to you,” Joe said, checking out her behind.

Peter groaned. “She’s not.”

While eating the house special of tender pot roast, red potatoes, and steamed asparagus, Joe and Katie flirted. Feeling like a third wheel, Peter put up with it so he wouldn’t have to talk about Martin. He finally slid his empty plate aside.

“I hate to interrupt your little dance with the waitress, but we have an issue to discuss.”

Joe wiped his mouth and sat back. “Maggie’s phone number? You know I didn’t ask her for it.”

“We’ll deal with that on Monday. This is something else…”

~ from “Peter’s Pet”

***

…Sylvia put the food containers of ham, scalloped potatoes, yams, and slices of pumpkin pie in the fridge. Eva must have known Madeline wouldn’t stop by there, so she sent Joseph here. They had horrible timing.

“I wanted to check in with you since I didn’t have a chance to attend Herbert’s funeral,” Joe said as she poured them each a cup of coffee. He leaned over to smell the flowers then took the mug she offered. “How have you been doing?”

Sitting diagonally to him, she sipped her coffee. “Some days are better than others.”

“Yeah, the holidays can be rough,” he said. “After Taylor’s parents died, that first Christmas was brutal. All the traditions we grew up with seemed to have died, too.” With a matter-of-fact attitude, he empathized with her grief. She found it comforting.

“I miss him every day. I still expect him to walk through the front door,” she replied.

Leaning back, Joseph retrieved the box of tissues on the counter by her stack of cookbooks and set it between them. “Is all that pain worth it?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Tennyson’s quote: Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” He shifted in his chair. “Is it better?” he asked.

Pushing the tissue box aside, she reached for his hand not sure if he’d pull away. He gently lay his other over hers, warming them. His eyes seemed to search her face for the answers.

“I have a lifetime of loving memories with Herbert that I’d never give up. Your time will come,” she replied.

He sat back in his chair, letting go of her hand, shielding his vulnerability. Her niece did that often. Sylvia had tried to get her to share her feelings, too, but Madeline had only touched the surface, pushing her pain deep down inside her core.

Contemplating her answer, Joseph stared into his empty mug. “I want my life to be better, but I’m tired of searching…”

~ from “Purple Roses”

***

I hope you’ll join me JULY 24th for the first day of 48fourteen’s week-long BOOKTOPIA EVENT on Facebook.

With a background in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I’ll share Feng Shui tips, helpful acupressure points, and various tidbits on holistic health. You’ll also learn more about my Series. Oh, and you don’t want to miss out on the giveaways…lots of giveaways.

48fourteen’s BOOKTOPIA   

Siblings by Choice

Mark your calendars for the release of The Kindred Code on Wednesday, July 19th. In the meantime, enjoy the excerpt between Joe and Eva, who are siblings by choice. They tease, harass, deflect, and know each other so well…

Excerpt from The Kindred Code

“Joey, focus! You missed the street,” Eva said.

Joe backtracked and finally found Matt’s house, a plain, well-kept country blue ranch with a two-car attached garage and a chain link fence in back half buried in the snow. In the neatly shoveled driveway, Matt’s old Bronco had also been cleared. Joe stopped beside it then blew out a breath in relief, glad to be done with the long drive on the slippery back roads.

“Crap,” Eva said, searching through her brown leather purse. “He gave me a key and I forgot it.”

“Damn it, Eva. I’m not going back,” he replied, flexing his fingers to ease the ache from his tight grip of the steering wheel. “Maybe he has one hidden somewhere.”

She laughed. “Here,” she said, holding it out for him. “You’re the one who needs to lighten up.”

He ripped it from her hand. She continued to laugh as he walked around the car to help her out. She handed him her purse and mittens then struggled to stand on her own, despite the walking boot cast on her right foot. Stubborn as always. With a sigh, he filled his arms with her crutches and suitcase from the back seat.

Taking the crutches, she started hopping toward the front door. Matt had shoveled the walkway bare, too, and rock salt covered every cement surface. Matt was definitely a responsible guy. Joe chuckled as he followed her.

Eva held out her hand for the key. “Just drop my purse and suitcase inside then you can leave,” she said, unlocking the door.

“No way. What kind of brother would I be if I didn’t look around and make sure he’s not some psycho?” he asked.

Inside, Eva turned and glared at him. “He’s a cop and a wonderful father who owns his own home.”

“You do need to lighten up. I was kidding, except for the snooping part.”

In the living room, Joe set her suitcase, purse, and mangled mittens beside the worn yet comfortable looking sofa. Under one end table, he spotted a wicker basket with yarn and a partially crocheted blanket.

“How domestic do you want to be with this guy? Crocheting? Really?” Joe said with a chuckle.

“Aren’t you going to be late?” Eva replied.

“Nope. I’ve got time.” He walked toward the kitchen on the right.

The plain white kitchen had enough room for a square wooden table and four chairs. David’s school paintings on the refrigerator added the only color to the room. To annoy Eva, Joe opened a cupboard above the bare countertop.

“Joe, stop,” she said, leaning on the back of one of the chairs.

“Do you really want to get tied down with a kid?”

Opening the fridge, he found it overflowing with Tupperware containers. He pulled out the closest, lifting the lid to see what was inside. His mouth watered at the macaroni salad. He quickly found a spoon in the drawer. After taking a huge bite, he moaned and held out a spoonful for Eva.

“This is so good,” he mumbled with another mouthful.

“I think his mom made it. His parents live across the street.” She hopped to the lid on the counter and held it out for him to cover the bowl. Instead, he walked around the table, making her hop after him.

“Sounds like Everybody Loves Raymond,” he said, before taking another bite.

“Have you talked to Taylor today?”

“No,” he replied, taking the lid she thrust in his face. “She’s not my problem anymore.” He shoved the container with its lid back into the refrigerator.

“Not your problem? She’s your family.”

“You know what I mean. She’s with Stuart now.” Leaving the kitchen, he headed down the hallway and glanced in David’s dinosaur-themed bedroom. In the guest room next to David’s, six boxes of toys and books rested on the bed beside two police uniforms lying across an ironing board.

“Do you want to talk about her?” she asked at his heels to keep him from snooping too thoroughly.

“This place is void of a female touch. Are you gonna decorate right away or wait until you’re living here?”

“Peter’s going to make you wear a suit everyday with the FBI.”

“Not if I can help it,” he replied.

Before Joe could add another retort, he and Eva heard a bang then a rattling from the basement. Joe whispered for Eva to go into the bathroom and lock the door. Rolling her eyes, she shook her head while Joe opened the basement door. The rattling vibrated the steps as Joe carefully descended. Eva hopped down behind him.

Beside neatly packed boxes on metal shelves that lined the perimeter of the small clean basement, an old furnace shook. At closer inspection, Joe found a large wrench sitting on the water heater and a slight dent in the furnace beside it. He banged the wrench into the dent and the rattling stopped. The heat popped on.

Joe grinned. “Owning a home is easy. I’m a pro already.”

Eva snorted and hopped back up the stairs huffing as she went. When his cell rang, Joe checked the caller ID. He let Taylor’s call go to his voicemail. Eva watched him.

“You need to work through your feelings for her,” Eva said.

“And, on that note, I’m out of here.” She was right, but he wouldn’t openly admit it.

Using her crutch, Eva poked him in the back, stopping him. “I love you, Joey.”

“Stay out of trouble,” he replied, giving her a hug, “although nothing ever happens in these farming towns.”

 

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THE KINDRED CODE: Did you know?

Some writers say they put bits of themselves into their stories. I, too, have incorporated parts of my life in my writing. I call it — Therapy. These are a few of my bits and pieces that sparked my series. (You may sense a Back in My Day theme as you read them.)

DID YOU KNOW I spoke with an Afghan war veteran about his experiences? He helped bring authenticity to Stuart’s PTSD flashback scene. I’ve known my son’s friend since they were in middle school together. He’s grown into a caring responsible young man. Caleb, thank you for your service. I’m proud of you.

DID YOU KNOW I modeled the tiny spunky nun in this story after Sister Maxine Magee from The Sisters of St. Joseph? I knew her through Nazareth College and our church. She sang “Ava Maria” at my wedding. She recently passed away. I’ll miss the little gal with a big voice and heart to match.

DID YOU KNOW I named Linda Lou’s bar, after my mom? She’s not fond of her middle name. Now, it’s out there in the book world. (Take that, Mom, for grounding me when I was fourteen.) In another book, I name a Great Lakes cruise ship after my dad. I though the USS Hershall Floyd has a certain ring to it. (I’m hilarious!)

 

MARK your calendars for the release of The Kindred Code on Wednesday, July 19th.

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