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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THEIR RIGID RULES: 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 Taylor and Eva’s dorm room isn’t set up like the dorms at Western Michigan University? Instead, it’s akin to the dorms at Nazareth College in Kalamazoo where I attended college. At my small college, two buildings had four floors each. The men were on only one of the floors since the campus first became coed in 1971. Shout out! Go Moles! (Yes, that was our mascot.)

DID YOU KNOW Holly’s Bistro on Westnage Avenue in Kalamazoo was a real place? Stuart takes Taylor to Holly’s on their first official date. My now husband Kraig and I had dinner there often while dating. Sadly, the romantic restaurant isn’t there anymore.

DID YOU KNOW Matt Connor’s son, David, started out as such a minor role that I used my son David’s name? I wanted a strong name, and my son’s was right there. Now, David Connor has become an integral character in the Series. I don’t regret naming him after my son, however, my David may receive flack for it. (Sorry/Not sorry, Son.)

Mark your calendars for the re-release of Their Rigid Rules on Wednesday, July 19th.

OR better yet, sign up for my newsletter and get a reminder:

CHRISTINA’S NEWSLETTER 

(Signing up automatically enters you into the drawings for all my giveaways.)

Cover Reveals & Relaunch of The Chemical Attraction Series

The Chemical Attraction Series has had a major makeover – both inside and out. On July 19th, the entire series will be re-released. The books will be a little bit hotter, and will come full circle, giving you more of the characters you have grown to love.

The re-release will be aligned with the new release of The Kindred Code, now Book 2 of the series. Confused? Don’t be, the only books you need to read in order is Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction…the rest is up to you.

***

Now, for an inside look at The Kindred Code:

Taylor Valentine, Eva O’Sullivan, and Joe Roberts are siblings by choice. They believe in The Kindred Code: blood means nothing and love is everything. After all, they’ve been together every day since the third grade. As their lives take different paths after college, they wonder if their mantra will stay true.

When word gets out that Professor Stuart Morgan had dated Taylor while in his class, the publicity takes a toll on their relationship. While Taylor recovers from a gunshot wound, Stuart struggles with his PTSD. Instead of sharing their pain, they drift further apart.

With his son, David, at a sleepover, Officer Matt Connor invites Eva to his home. During their romantic weekend, volatile confrontations erupt between Matt’s mother and Eva and David’s biological mother and Eva. The rural town enjoys the uproar. Even on her best behavior, Eva worries about the chaos she brings to Matt and David’s lives.

Before Joe heads to the FBI Academy, Director Peter Bingaman asks for his help on an unofficial case. He needs an outsider, who’s smart and quick on his feet. Joe jumps at the chance to test his skills. Before long, they uncover horrendous crimes. Suddenly, Joe’s in over his head.

Will Joe’s family put aside their problems and come to his aid before it’s too late? And what will that mean for his career as an agent?

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Add it to your Goodreads TBR List

Series Cover Design by Ampersand Book Covers

BONUS: Searching for Her will be FREE July 19th

Here’s a sneak peek into my new anthology:

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.