I'm glad you stopped by. I hope you'll stop by again.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

GUEST: A.R. Braun & #NewRelease STORM OF THE GODS

Please welcome Amy Braun, a fellow Weekend Writing Warrior (#WeWriWa). I've been reading snippets from Amy's new book for several weeks. The story is captivating. And now it's here!

Here's Amy to tell us about her new release.

Storm of the Gods is a story that’s been with me for years, and one I was nervous about writing. How was I going to accurately combine Greek lore, magic, brothers, an engaging world, action, monsters, and lay the base ground for an entire series?

The simple answer: Trial and error.

To date, this is the story I’ve wanted to write more than anything else. I’ve always had a huge love for Greek myths and the monsters within them, and while it took a few tests and some creative thinking, I eventually got the story I wanted.

Writing it was a huge process, as I made a couple mistakes since I went with a new distribution company, paid for more promotional materials, and had my first ever fantasy map created. I stressed and stressed and constantly changed my mind about things, but in the end I got the story I wanted. It wasn’t accepted  by literary agents, and it’s gotten some mixed reviews as of late. But it’s still the story I wanted to create and that I love wit all my heart.

Here was this dream I’d always had, from a world and characters who consistently popped into my mind and inspired me with random snippets and twists and adventures that I will always carry with me, even after the series is wrapped up in a couple years.

It’s my goal to one day become a full time, professional author who will hopefully snag an NYT ranking one day. And for as much as I wanted it to be, Storm of the Gods, is not that book. I didn’t hear much from literary agents and there are mixed reviews out there, as there are with any book. But the most important I learned from the experience was that I could achieve my goals. I wrote a story that I will always adore with characters who have woven themselves into my heart. It’s the story I wanted to tell and share, and now that it’s out in the world, I have another chance to improve and grow and take this new adventure to greater heights, and live out the full extent of Derek and Liam’s story as I play it out in my head.

As the boys will have, I foresee bumps and trials in the future. But I’m ready to face them, because there’s nothing more fulfilling than making your own dream come true.


Thirty years ago, the gods of Greek legend returned to the world. Their return restored their powers, which had been spent in a cataclysmic battle with the Titans. With the ancient deities imprisoned in Tartarus, the Olympians now reside in Néo Vasíleio, formerly known as California.
Twenty-four-year-old Derek Aerios is a war scion, a descendent of Ares, the God of War. He and his brother, eighteen-year-old Liam, capture mythological creatures and rogue scions as part of Ares’s elite military force. As he struggles to cope with his violent powers and the scars of a traumatic childhood, Derek tries to keep the two vows he has made: protect his brother, and never kill a human again.
But when Ares forces him to hunt and kill four rogue scions under Athena’s control—by threatening Liam’s life—Derek chooses to go after the scions in order to save his brother and keep his promise to himself.
Yet the closer Derek gets to the scions, the more he realizes that his orders are part of a deeper conspiracy that put him at odds with his mission and his conscience. Athena may not be the enemy, a traitor could be in their midst, and the Titans could be closer to freedom than ever before. 

Buy it here:

About the Author

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. 

When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction, and diving headfirst into danger in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Amy can be found online on Facebook (www.facebook.com/amybraunauthor/) Twitter (@amybraunauthor) and Instagram (@amybraunauthor)
Social Media Links

Sunday, August 26, 2018

#WeWriWa - ROMANCE REKINDLED - Who's the Judge?

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors where authors share an 8 - 10 sentence snippet. Be sure to visit the other authors. You can find them here.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by last week and left comments. This snippet is from my Christmas story, ROMANCE REKINDLED.

To orient you: After Abby discovered her mother was arrested with a strange man and his son showed up, they were told they had to wait for a hearing in two days--the day after Christmas. They return later that morning to visit.

Please excuse the creative punctuation, necessary to keep this within the guidelines. It's also edited some from the original.

“Hi, Abby,” Deputy Jenny Sampson called out, “If you’ve come to see your mother, you’re just in time, Ron’s taking her and George Watson over to the courthouse.”
At that moment, Deputy Dawson ushered a handcuffed George and Florence to the side door of the station, the one closest to the courthouse.
“Really, Ron?” Jenny said, “Handcuffs? Afraid those two desperados might get away from you?”
The deputy, who carried a large, black garbage bag, ignored her.
Abby followed Bethany into a bench, then Sam slid in next to her. She tried to scoot over, but Bethany wouldn’t budge. Abby was about to ask her to move when the bailiff announced, “All rise. The honorable Judge Daniel DeVran presiding.”
Santa Claus walked out and sat on the bench.


Abby Ten Eyck likes her life the way it is. She runs a successful business, has a well-adjusted teenage daughter, and has managed to keep men at bay since her divorce fifteen years ago. Just before Christmas, she’s hit with change. Her mother decides to sell the family home. Then she’s arrested, with an unknown man. Could this new man in her mother’s life create more upheaval? Or could his handsome son be just what Abby needs to revive her dormant feelings?

Sam Watson embraces transition from frenetic Wall Street to a small Michigan resort town. His health is worth moving close to his dad who seems over the moon in love. But it’s the daughter of his father’s girlfriend who fascinates him. Abby Ten Eyck reminds him of his driven self. He must help her slow down before she burns out. Like he did.

ROMANCE REKINDLED is available at:

Amazon  ~  Amazon UK  ~  iBooks  ~  Kobo  ~  Smashwords  ~ Nook

I'll be at a book event all day Sunday, but I'll be sure to visit when I return.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

GUEST Maris Soule, author of LYON'S PRIDE

Today's guest is my friend and fellow author. I've always enjoyed her stories.  Back in 2010, Maris suggested I self-published my first book to which I'd gotten the rights. It took scaredy-cat me almost a year to do it. What an adventure I've had--all because of Maris. Here she is.

Thank you, Diane, for inviting me to your blog. I still remember when we first met. You were writing a book and took one of my community-ed classes on “How to Get Published.” You’ve come a long way since those days: you’re now multi-published in both scifi-romance and mystery, with many more books to come.

I was writing romances back then. During the ‘80s and ‘90s I wrote sexy romances (at least they were considered sexy then), sweet romances (sexual tension but no bedroom scenes), and romantic suspense. It wasn’t until the turn of the century that I switched to mystery and suspense.

My romances were all paperbacks, on the shelf for 30 days then stripped and gone forever, unless you found a copy at a used book store or garage sale. It seemed a shame those stories had such a short life. Thank goodness e-books have given us a chance to revive some of those stories.

LYON’S PRIDE is one I wanted to give a new life. It was published in 1993 by Silhouette Romance, and is classified as a sweet romance, though if Greg Lyon and Doc Amy hadn’t had Amy’s house guest, Peggy, sleeping in the next room, there might have been a bedroom scene.

But let me explain:
For years the syndicated cartoon, Lyon’s Pride, made people laugh, but when its creator, Greg Lyon, starts lampooning doctors, newspapers threaten to stop publishing the cartoon. Greg decides he needs a break, never expecting his walk from New York to California will land him in a small town in southern Indiana. Rescued from a rain storm, his ankle broken from a fall, he’s taken to Dr. Amy Fraser’s home office clinic and ends up staying in her house. Greg knows he can’t reveal he’s the creator of the cartoons she finds so offensive, so he tells her his last name is Lyman, but from the start he’s confused by his attraction to this physically scarred country doctor. Is she for real?

Amy Fraser cares more about people than money, and her patients love her and want to protect her from this stranger she’s allowing to stay in her home/clinic. It isn’t long before her neighbor Peggy (whom Amy had told could stay at the clinic while Peggy’s house was being renovated) recognizes the sparks between Greg and Amy and decides this is the time to be there.

And Amy finds it difficult to believe this man can really be attracted to her; after all, she walks with a limp and has a scarred face. But how can she think of him simply as a patient when her heart skips a beat every time she sees him?

The question is, what will she do when she discovers who he really is?

Trying not to get her hands muddy, but failing, she pulled off the one shoe he wore. Next came his sock. Both smelled as bad as the rest of him. They joined the growing pile of clothes in the corner. Grinning, she looked back at Greg. “The shorts have to go, too.”
“My shorts?” His eyebrows rose.
“Yes. Then after I get your ankle taken care of, I’ll wash your things.”
“Laundry services as well as medical. Now, I’ve heard it all.” He studied her face, and she knew this time he was truly looking at her, seeing the uneven bridge of her nose, the reconstructed cheekbones, and the scars. With some people, when they looked at her, she saw pity in their eyes. Suspicion better described the look in Greg’s eyes. Finally he shook his head. “You don’t need to wash my clothes. I’ve got more shorts and T-shirts. At least I think I do.” Greg glanced Mel’s way. “My pack still in the back of your truck?”
“Dag-gone it, I forgot all about it. That and your sleepin’ bag.” Mel started for the door. “Must be getting’ addled in my old age. I’ll go get it ‘fore it’s soaked clean through.”
Greg watched Mel leave and sighed. “I should have set up camp when I first saw that storm front.”
Amy moved from the end of the table to his side. “Have you been living in a tent for long?”
“Since the end of March.”
“That’s a long time.” She patted the section of blanket covering his hips. “I still want those shorts off.”
“Oh yeah?” He grinned rakishly. “You saying you want me to take off my pants?”
Something in his tone made her heart skip a beat, but she ignored it. The only flirting men did with her was in a teasing, playful way. She’d learned a long time ago not to take it seriously, to counter with teasing of her own. “That’s what I want.”
“And do you always personally undress your patients, Doctor?”
“Only when they’re turning blue and my nurse has gone home for the night.” Not that he was blue anymore.
Still watching her, he reached under the blankets. From the movement of the material, she guessed he was unbuttoning his shorts, then she heard the sound of a zipper. She smiled at his modesty. After four years of medical school, two years of internship, and three years of practice, she’d seen too many men without their clothes on to count. She was nearly thirty years old. No trembling virgin.
Well, maybe she was still a virgin, though she hated to admit that. And there was a strange, trembling sensation in the pit of her stomach and a warm glow in her cheeks, which she couldn’t explain. She glanced at his face and found him watching her.
“Are you blushing?” he asked.
“Of course not,” she lied. “Why would I blush? I’m not the one undressing under a blanket.”
“It is kind of silly, isn’t it,” he admitted. Still watching her, he pushed back the blankets, exposing his shorts.
They were unbuttoned, the zipper down, and Amy could clearly see a V-section of silky, black nylon. She hadn’t expected him to be wearing a pair of skintight briefs. Nor had she expected the trembling, skittish sensation in her stomach to turn into a full-fledged gastric attack. Or her skin to be feverishly hot. In the blink of an eyelid, she’d lost her professional distance. Quickly she looked up at the ceiling, her gaze catching the Lyon’s Pride cartoon. Leo the lion was doing cartwheels. The message in the balloon above the lion’s head was simple: “If thrown for a loop, just land on your feet.”
Maybe she didn’t like what Leo had been saying for the last year or so, but this was good advice. What she needed to do was land on her feet, get control of the situation. Taking a calming breath, she looked back at Greg. “Can you get your shorts off by yourself, or do you need help?”
“I can do it,” he insisted and began to pull and wiggle at the same time.
But he didn’t get very far. With a gasp of pain, Greg stopped, his shorts still solidly around his hips. “My ankle,” he groaned through clenched teeth. “Moved it. Damn! Give me a minute.”
Beads of perspiration formed on his forehead, and Amy patted his leg. “Let’s try another way. Roll to your side.”
Without argument, he did as she’d asked, rolling away from her, over onto his left side and good ankle. His body was tensed, and she automatically began to massage his shoulders and back. Slowly she worked her hands over rock hard muscles, down toward his hips. He said nothing, but she could feel him relax. Finally she knew she could move his leg without putting him in agony and began to work his shorts down over his right hip. Inch by inch, she exposed more of his black, nylon bikini briefs. The man definitely had sexy taste in underwear.
She hated herself for what she kept thinking, yet the wayward thoughts continued to slip into her head. Lightly she brushed her fingertips over his hip. She told herself it was to make certain his briefs weren’t wet, nothing more. She found the material only slightly damp and wasn’t sure if she was pleased or disappointed. She could leave his underwear on.
“Now roll over to your other side,” she ordered.
He obeyed, slowly and carefully rolling toward her.
As she pulled down on his khaki shorts, she tried to keep her gaze on the pale hairs that covered his legs and not let her eyes stray to the bulge beneath the silky-smooth, black nylon. She wasn’t successful.
What she saw surprised her. Considering the cold and the pain he was in, an arousal was the last thing he should have had.
Her gaze darted to his eyes, and once again she found him looking at her, directly at her face . . . at her scars.
Thinking what? She wondered. Being aroused by what?
Certainly not her. She was too realistic to imagine that.

It took me over a year to retype the book and find a cover I liked better than the one Silhouette used, but now LYON’S PRIDE is available as an e-book through Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and all the other readers. I didn’t try to update it, so the story is set in 1993 (before smart phones and the ease of Internet searches) but I fell in love with Greg all over again, and I hope others will enjoy how two scarred people (one internally and one physically) discover real love.

Available at:

Maris Soule started her career writing romances (25 published, of which 2 were RITA finalists), before switching to mysteries. (The Crows, As the Crow Flies, Eat Crow and Die, A Killer Past, and Echoes of Terror (winner of FWA’s 2017 RPLC thriller category.) Soule has been self-publishing several of her early romances as e-books, and recently got the paperback rights back for A Killer Past. She hopes to release that book in trade paperback form this fall.  Originally from California, Soule and her husband moved to southwest Michigan in the early ‘70s. They now divide their year between Michigan and Florida.

You can find out more about Soule at:
Her web site: http://www.marissoule.com
Her Blog: http://blog.marissoule.com/blog/
FB Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/MarisSouleAuthor/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/marissoule
Twitter: http://twitter.com/marisSouthHaven

Diane here: I'm so happy Maris is republishing her earlier works. I remember how much I enjoyed Lyon's Pride when it first came out. Maris doesn't have internet service today until this evening or tomorrow morning when she'll reply to comments. She didn't want you to think she was ignoring you.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

#WeWriWa - ROMANCE REKINDLED: The man in Mother's cell.

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors where authors share an 8 - 10 sentence snippet. Be sure to visit the other authors. You can find them here.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by last week and left comments. Sorry it took me so long to get to everyone. This snippet is from my Christmas story, ROMANCE REKINDLED.

To orient you: After Abby got a middle-of-the-night phone call from the police, she and her teenage daughter, Bethany, race to the jail. 

Please excuse the creative punctuation, necessary to keep this within the guidelines. It's also edited some from the original.

“Who are you?” Abby demanded of the old man sitting in the cell next to Mother . . . and holding her mother’s hand!
Florence bounded off the cot with the agility of a much younger woman, all those classes at the Senior Center must be paying off, “Abigail Louise, what are you doing here?”
Abby fisted her hands on her hips, “What are you doing in jail—and who is that man?”
That man rose more slowly than Mother had—he looked to be about her age, or slightly older, and a little taller with a head of thick, gray hair and a weathered face that had seen a lot of sun. When he reached Mother’s side, he placed his arm around her waist. Around her waist! How dare he?
“Abigail, go home, I don’t want you here. How could you drag poor Bethany out of bed at this hour of the morning? And it’s such a nasty night with the storm coming in across the lake.”

I said in last week's comments I'd reveal why Mother is in jail. Sorry. I'm going to tease you a little longer.


Abby Ten Eyck likes her life the way it is. She runs a successful business, has a well-adjusted teenage daughter, and has managed to keep men at bay since her divorce fifteen years ago. Just before Christmas, she’s hit with change. Her mother decides to sell the family home. Then she’s arrested, with an unknown man. Could this new man in her mother’s life create more upheaval? Or could his handsome son be just what Abby needs to revive her dormant feelings?

Sam Watson embraces transition from frenetic Wall Street to a small Michigan resort town. His health is worth moving close to his dad who seems over the moon in love. But it’s the daughter of his father’s girlfriend who fascinates him. Abby Ten Eyck reminds him of his driven self. He must help her slow down before she burns out. Like he did.

ROMANCE REKINDLED is available at:

Amazon  ~  Amazon UK  ~  iBooks  ~  Kobo  ~  Smashwords  ~ Nook

Friday, August 17, 2018


Please welcome author Tamara Hughes. Her newest book was released on Wednesday. The cover is so compelling. Look at his eye!

Here's what Tamara has to say about this book. Welcome, Tamara.

The original idea for Bewitching The Beast came from a song I heard on the radio while driving to a writers’ meeting. The song was “Better Than Me” by Hinder. You can do much better than me. That particular lyric had me wondering what would make someone feel they were undeserving of someone’s love. I guess I was in a paranormal mood because I automatically thought about the guy being some sort of creature that hurts a woman and feels bad about it.

I like to write fairly unique paranormal elements, but I wasn’t sure at first what this guy’s deal was. Soon after, I started listening to Evanescence. Their Fallen album in particular inspired me. The more I listened to it, the more this story developed in my head. Ethan ended up being a man possessed by a spirit who was eating away who he was inside, while Tess needed to wake up from her grief of losing her fiancé. I’ve never had a book come to me this way before. We’ll see if it ever happens again.

Here's the blurb:
Ethan Lockwood hates what he’s become—a slave to a parasitic monster whose victim’s names pepper the obituaries. He’s possessed by The Beast, a dragon who feeds off human spiritual energy. After a year of fighting The Beast’s demands, Ethan is losing the battle. The creature is taking over his mind, body, and soul. When he spies Tess, he can relate to her weary look and the sadness in her eyes, but her aura shines like a beacon, attracting The Beast. Ethan is forced to drain her energy, but for a split second, she subdues the creature inside him, compelling the spirit to slumber. How? Can she somehow free him from The Beast? Ethan chases after her. He can’t afford to let Tess die.

Since her fiancé’s death, Tess Edwards struggles to find new meaning in life. She doesn’t expect that new meaning to involve a sexy photographer who says he’s possessed by an energy-stealing beast. He claims she’s in danger and that he’s the only one who can save her. Great. He’s a nut job—cute, but delusional. She doesn’t believe in dragon spirits and magic, not until she finds her grandmother’s Book of Shadows. She’s descended from witches, and the book warns her of her fate. Although the beast inside Ethan needs her alive, he isn’t the only one of his kind. There’s another, and he wants Tess dead.

The Beast had taken over again, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. Ethan’s thumb brushed the back of the slender hand in his. He’d overpower The Beast’s compulsion if he could, but it was no use. For the last year, he’d tried everything he could think of to stop that monster, and nothing ever did any good. The evil inside him had become too strong. A bitter taste coated his tongue, and self-disgust soured his stomach. He’d been reduced to becoming a fucking minion to a parasite.

He glanced back. But why a woman this time? The Beast had never preyed upon a woman before. Then again, through the monster’s eyes, her aura glowed brighter than any he’d seen. The amount of psychic energy within her had to be phenomenal.

Shit. The Beast just had to choose this particular woman, didn’t he? When Ethan had first spotted her, he’d read the pain in her eyes, something he could relate to. No, he saw more—spirit. Nothing could defeat this girl, not totally. She was the first to catch his interest in a long, long time—he struggled to swallow past the knot of remorse in his throat—and now he was going to destroy her life.

The buzz of the crowd grew louder with each minute as midnight approached. Despite the mass of people around them, his senses centered on this one woman. He detected the faint smell of vanilla on her skin and the whisper of her every breath.

Ethan led her down a hall he knew too well. His chest ached with The Beast’s need for her energy, a need that grew stronger with each step. He opened a door and entered a storage room, drawing the girl in the teal dress with him. Shelves with boxes of glasses, paper towels, and cleansers lined three walls. A stack of chairs and a stool filled the cramped space, along with the usual mops and brooms.

“What’s your name?” she muttered as he flicked on the overhead light and closed the door.

He did a double take, and hope cut through the dread. No one under The Beast’s trance had spoken to him before. He took in her pale-gray eyes. They had the vacant look he’d become accustomed to. Damn. His hope dimmed. “My name’s Ethan.”

“I’m Tess. Tess Edwards.” Her silky voice washed over him as her full lips curved into a smile. Ash-blonde hair hung in waves past her chin. She stepped toward him, and those pink bobbly things on her head wiggled back and forth. The dress she wore accentuated her shape. Not too thin, just curves in all the right places. Beautiful, and sexy. At one time, before The Beast had invaded his body, he might have snuck a date into the closet for a whole different reason. Wouldn’t that be a nice change. To feel normal again. The very idea sparked his imagination, and his mind reeled with what else they could do in this closet.

As if she read his thoughts, Tess smoothed her hands over his chest and pushed the leather jacket off his shoulders. It slid down his arms and landed on the tiled floor. Long-suppressed need shot through him as she dropped kisses along his chest. What was happening here? He took her shoulders and put some space between them.

The Beast hissed inside his head, commanding him to follow his body’s desires, directing his senses to her, only her. Why? What could that parasite have to gain? Psychic energy was stolen through a hand to the back of the neck.

Rising on tiptoe, Tess lifted her face to his, her lips beckoning. Ah, God, so damn tempting. He backed up a step. She followed and yanked his T-shirt from his jeans. Ethan moaned when her hot hands explored his back. It had been so long. Not since The Beast had claimed him. He clenched his fists. “Wake up, Tess,” he rasped, knowing full well it wouldn’t change anything. He’d never been able to break The Beast’s trance.

Her fingers slid over his skin, waking every nerve ending. Enough. He turned for the door, and The Beast’s hiss became a roar. Power surged through his legs, rooting him in place. Tess reached around his neck and urged his face closer to hers. No, he couldn’t do this. His body rigid, he fought the devil inside him, pushing away its evil commands. He grabbed her arms and shook her. “Tess, wake up!”

Her hands seized his wrists, and an electric impulse flowed from her fingertips and up through his arms. Not a painful shock, more like a tingling vibration. His muscles tensed, and he gaped as The Beast’s hold on him faded away, jarred into submission.

This book is available on Amazon. And it’s also in the Kindle Unlimited program.

About the Author
A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and characters who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh. To learn more, stop by her website: www.tamarahughes.com.

Follow Tamara
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Tamara-Hughes/e/B00HXKHTY0

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tamarahughesauth

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/tamhughes

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7738043.Tamara_Hughes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tamara-hughes

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#WEP - Hawaii

I accepted the challenge. Here's my short story.

Diane Burton
I walked down the jetway with a jaunty step. I’d never been to Hawaii. I’d never even flown by myself. And here I was. Honolulu, Hawaii. The excitement of this trip had me nearly dancing out of my skin. I was probably grinning like a fool.
A smiling Polynesian girl held out a lei and said, “Aloha, wahini nani.”
“Ooh. What does that mean?”
“Welcome, beautiful girl.” She slipped the lei over my head.
“Thank you. Wait. I mean, mahalo.” I grinned, pleased that I knew that phrase. I held the flowers of the lei close to my nose. “Mmm. What a lovely smell.”
“Plumeria,” she said then moved on to the next passenger.
Standing on tiptoe, I scanned the area for Zoe, certain my friend would be close by. I couldn’t see her. Cries of “welcome” and “aloha” surrounded me. But they weren’t for me. When someone’s carry-on bag bumped into me, followed by a quick “sorry” in a male voice, I realized I’d been blocking traffic. Stepping to the side and dragging my own carry-on with me, I continued to look for my friend. Zoe had flown out four weeks ahead of me, staying with friends until I could get away from my tutoring job. We both taught at the same elementary school. Every year as soon as school was out, she headed to Hawaii and spent all summer there. I could only take off two weeks. Still, two weeks on Hawaii was better than staying home in boring, old, Michigan.
She’d said she would meet me at the gate. I wished she’d hurry up. After that long trip, I needed a restroom. About to say the heck with it and beat it into the nearest lavatory, I saw a man running toward me carrying a mangled sign, with “Mannington” in black Magic Marker.
While that was my last name, I hesitated. The man, tall, well-tanned and fit, wore neon yellow board shorts, flip-flops, and a tight tank top. His blond hair, bleached from the sun and longer than most men I knew wore theirs, hung over his forehead. He looked like a surfer dude.
Coming to an abrupt halt in front of me, he shoved his hair back then grinned. “Sally Mannington? You’re Sally, right?” He had a pleasant voice with a cadence I recognized from TV shows, like Hawaii 5-0.
The waiting area had emptied, except for me and the flight attendants exiting the plane. I still hesitated. Who was this guy? How did he know me? And where was Zoe?
“Hang on.” He dropped the white cardboard sign on a nearby seat and dug into his shorts pocket. He pulled out a crumpled snapshot and showed it to me—Zoe had her arm around my shoulders. “You are Sally Mannington, right? Zoe Turner’s friend. Hi. I’m Jack.” He held out his hand.
“Jack?” Reluctantly, I shook hands with him. He did mention my friend’s name. Still, I looked at him askance.
“Oh, boy. Didn’t you didn’t get Zoe’s text yet?” He shoved his hair back again. “Better read it. She explains. Sorry I’m late. Let’s go get your luggage.” He grabbed the handle of my carry-on bag. Before I knew it, he was striding down the corridor, his flip-flops slapping the floor.
“Hey, wait.” I raced after him while trying to dig my cell phone out of my pocket. By the time we reached baggage claim, I’d read and reread Zoe’s text. Maybe if I read it again the message would change.
Hey, kiddo. Rico wanted to go to Tahiti, so I’m off to Tahiti. Jack will take care of you. Have fun.
My friend deserted me. We’d planned this trip for months. All winter—while slogging through snow and slush—she’d regaled me with tales of the islands. How beautiful they were, how much there was to do, how much fun we’d have. Huh. Now, I was all alone, regretting I’d ever succumbed to her enticing view of our adventure. What should I do? I’d never been on vacation by myself before. Why, oh, why had I listened to her?
“Hey, sweetheart. Tell me what your luggage looks like.” Jack, whoever he was, glanced at my cell still in my hands. “You got her text. Great.”
I walked over to a row of seats and sank into the closest. With a puzzled expression, Jack followed me. “Problem?”
“I don’t know. Who are you?” I looked up into warm brown eyes, with laugh wrinkles fanning out from squinting at the sun, I assumed.
“I told you. Jack. Jack Turner. I’m Zoe’s brother, here to give you the grand tour of Oahu and anywhere else you’d like to go.”
Zoe never said she had a brother or that he lived in Hawaii. All she ever talked about was her boyfriend Rico. The same Rico who took her to Tahiti and left me here alone. Ditched by my friend. Alone in paradise. Scared out of my mind. With no idea what to do.
Okay, I had a choice. Go to a ticket counter, get back on a plane, and return to Detroit. Or stay and let some man I’d never even heard of show me the islands.
If I turned around and went home, I’d always regret not staying. I didn’t know this man. He seemed friendly enough. Should I ask to see his I.D.? What should I do?
Make a decision, I told my scared self.
I stood on shaky legs and held out my hand. “Hi, Jack. I’m Sally. My bag is that blue one with bright green tape on the sides.”

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The next challenge is October.

Monday, August 13, 2018


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