Allison was filling one side of the sink with soapy water.
He stood to her left and pointed. “You can use the dishwasher.”
She smiled at him and shook her head. “Do you mind if we do them by hand?” she asked. “I think best when I’m doing something routine like washing dishes. Lets my mind roam a bit,
helps me find solutions.”
“Sure, that’s fine.” He couldn’t find a dishtowel to save his life. “Just a sec.” He ran to the box of bath towels, pulled one out and covered the counter with it. “I’ll rinse and we’ll let them
Allison nodded absently. She was stacking clean dishes into the other side of the sink, and he waited until quite a few had gathered, then sprayed to rinse them, stacking them on the
towel. They worked quietly, both lost in thought. He wondered if she was really thinking about their mystery or if, like him, she was soaking up the chance to stand close together, bumping
each other now and then, doing this homey task as a team. Every time she reached to place the next dish in the sink they managed to bump. Every time an electric sensation shot through him.
When Allison finished the last dish she opened the drain and began to wipe down the sink. Sean stacked his last dish and dried his hands on a remaining corner of the towel. He turned
then, watching Allison in profile as she completed her simple task.
“Hmm?” She turned and looked up and his heart began to pound a little faster. He reached out with one hand, rested it on her arm, stepped a little closer. He saw the realization in her eyes — she knew he was coming in for a kiss. A smile flickered over her lips and her gaze dropped to his mouth. He dropped his head to line up for a taste of that luscious-looking mouth and her eyes drifted closed. The first brush was light, careful, gentle. She held still, held her breath. He leaned in a little closer, his lips firmer. Her tongue flicked a corner of his mouth, quick and teasing. She opened her mouth just a little, and he took her shoulder by his hands to pull her closer. He brushed the sides of her neck with his thumbs. She pressed her body into his and lifted her arms, still damp from doing dishes, and wrapped them around him.
He deepened the kiss; awareness sizzling through every place his skin touched her.
Because Mike and Winter have known each other all their lives, there isn’t exactly a first meeting scene, but here is their first grown-up meeting:
Mike found her at her captain’s desk. The blue light of the flashlight reflected off the no-glare, paper-white computer monitor and showed her face, casting sharp shadows over the planes and valleys of her features. Her pin light was clenched in her teeth, and she murmured around it, likely speaking into her neural cell memo pad.
Not giving himself time to overthink, or her a chance to notice she was no longer alone, he sprung, taking her down to the floor with a forearm to the front of her neck and an arm around her tiny waist.
She had not seen him coming.
He reached inside her jacket and unclipped her weapon from its holster, pulling it out and shoving it into the waist of his jeans at the small of his back.
The pin light landed with a loud clang on the tile floor and its light popped, leaving the small office in complete darkness.
Mike had the advantage, of course, not only having surprise on his side, but his size and the fact he could see whereas Winter was blind.
Nether spoke, only fought.
Mike’s view of her glowed green with his night vision contacts. Her body moved like poetry in motion, her focus was absolute, her chin set and determined. Blind or not, she fought him like a wild cat. Her Tai-Chi was expert, she was clearly using the sound of his breathing to ‘see’ him and landed some outright painful hits and major kicks to his body with her size five combat boots before he’d had enough and slammed his full weight on her, pinning her to the floor.
“I have a name!” she shouted. “Call J. D. off from my grandmother now!”
“I’ve already logged Baker’s name in my memo pad, and set up automatic email delivery of it from my Neural cell.” she tried to knee him. “My Neural stops transmitting, those emails will hit every law enforcement agency and news station on the west coast.”
Her eyes narrowed. He knew she could not see him but that didn’t stop her from glaring, then her full lips pulled into a smirk and admiration welled within him for her courage and nerve.
“You are so screwed,” she scoffed. “You guys dropped the ball bringing J.D. within your corrupt little fold. He’s weak. You know he’s your teams’ weak link, that’s probably why you put him on granny duty. It won’t take anytime at all during interrogation for the threat of penal colony 867 to get to him. I can see it now. He turns on all of you to keep himself earth bound!”
Pieces of the puzzle fell into place while she yelled. Yes, he’d seen her talking to the key suspects this past week, but from what she was saying now, thinking she was being attacked by one of the bad guys, it was glaringly clear she had known about the corrupt cops and had been chatting them up to get a handle on who all was involved, the same as he had been.
Knowing what he did of the Parkers’ little girl, she likely planned to take down the rogue cops single-handedly.
He squared his shoulders, clinched his teeth in determination. She wouldn’t have to now. No, now she had him in her corner. Although, she didn’t know it yet, they would somehow gather the evidence they needed to positively confirm the identity of the twelve preps he’d tagged, and stop them in their dirty tracks.
Relief her impromptu speech had cleared her as a suspect distracted him. Mike swallowed as she continued to thrash beneath him, his body responded accordingly even though his mind was far removed from the physical.
Winter Parker was a victim, not a villain.
Against all odds, her grandmother had somehow become another victim.
Their interest in Winter and her grandmother didn’t make any sense that he could see.
It was high time he asked her what was going on.
“Listen to me, Winter,” he hissed in her ear. “We don’t have much time before they override your block on the doors.”
She went perfectly still and quiet.
He pressed his advantage, easing his weight off her just a bit. “We need to talk, and I think it’s in both our best interests if we are not found here together until we compare notes.”
She frowned at him, her eyes narrowed. “Who are you?”
Sounds of doors unlocking clicked through the building, the lights flickered then snapped on.
He blinked twice to set his contacts into normal mode and Winter, her ice blue eyes haunted and huge, stared unblinking at him.
His lips pulled into a half smile. “It’s Mike, Winter, Mike Hunter. And we’ve got to get out of here.”
Doctor Al was a woman. That was the first thing that registered. She was petite, with very small but competent hands examining King’s body. “Carol has given your dog a dose of an
antihistamine to quiet what appears to be an allergic reaction.” She flicked her gaze to him. “How long ago did this bite or sting happen?”
Her presence was calming. He shook away the tears that formed in his eyes at the thought of how close he’d come to losing his partner, his best friend. “Only a few minutes.” He cleared
his throat in an effort to dislodge the fear and grief clogging it. “Maybe ten minutes ago. I was a couple of blocks from here, and figured it was faster to run in than to risk going home for my
car.” He looked down at his running sweats, gave her what he hoped was an apologetic grin. “I know I stink and I don’t have any I.D. with me.” Embarrassed heat warmed his cheeks. “Or
money, because we were out running. But I don’t live far,” he assured her with a quick gesture of his hands. He hoped he could count on small town acceptance. “As soon as we have this situation
under control I’ll go get them.”
She nodded, continuing her examination. “Has this ever happened before?” When he shook his head she added, “Looks like there is only the one sting. What’s your dog’s name?”
He slid a glance to his dog. “King Solomon, but I just call him King.” At the sound of his name King raised his head, then got to his feet on the exam table, standing eye level with him
and a head taller than the doc. He leaned in and licked at his master’s face. Sean laughed, partly in relief, partly in the surging joy that his dog really would be okay. He put his arm around
King’s neck and the dog rested his chin on his shoulder.
Doctor Al lowered the stethoscope and looked into his eyes, and his breath locked in his lungs when he realized how beautiful she was. Auburn hair brushed her shoulders and framed
her face, and eyes the color of the bluest sky met his. His knees went weak. He swallowed.
A hint of pink touched her cheeks and she averted her gaze from him back to King. “I’d like to watch him for a couple of hours, make sure we don’t have any further reaction.” With
gentle fingers, she touched King’s face above the swollen eye. “I also want to clean this wound once the swelling has gone down, make sure we have the stinger and that we don’t risk infection.
Can you come back after lunch?”
Sean nodded. He usually didn’t have so much trouble thinking of something to say, but Doctor Al left him speechless. He cleared his throat. “I’ll have a break at work around 2:00.
Would that be okay?”
She nodded. “I’m sure that will work. Check with Carol at the front desk before you go.”
She smiled, and dimples appeared on both sides of her mouth. Kissing dimples. Where that thought came from, he had no idea, but he wanted to brush his lips against those smooth
cheeks, flick his tongue into the little crevasses and claim them, claim her, as his own. He shook his head, a wry smile touching his lips. Boy, oh boy, he had it bad.
She had been so serious before now. Then that smile, wow, it hit him in the gut with joy.
She started to turn away and he wondered how he could get her to stay just another minute. As if she heard his mind call out to hers, she turned, tilted her head a little, and put out
one hand. It shook, just a bit, and his heart sang. Maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t the only one affected by this — whatever it was which had tossed him into a sea of want — of need.
“In our hurry to get King taken care of we didn’t introduce ourselves. I’m Allison Green.” He engulfed that dainty hand in his own. It was cool, smooth, and soft. “Sean Barnett. I’m
more glad to meet you than I can ever say.” He covered their joined hands with his other hand, hoping to warm her a little, hoping to keep her close just a moment more. “Thank you so much,
Doctor Allison Green.”
There was that smile again, those irresistible kissing dimples winking out at him. “You are very welcome, Sean Barnett.” She took the end of King’s leash, which dangled from his
collar. “See you in a few hours. King, come. Heel.” King didn’t look back, just dropped down to the floor from the exam table and meekly followed the Doc without even waiting for a release
command from Sean. She did have a way with animals.
Because much of my professional life is lived in the disability rights and justice community, some of the characters in my books, including main ones, have disabilities. Here are some examples.
In More Than a Job, Paige and Joshua work for a company that provides small, personalized and respectful living settings for people with cognitive disabilities, in contrast to the institution where some of her family once resided. The book addresses some of the problems with institutions and the very controversial topic of parents who have a cognitive disability.
In Out of Agony, Brian works through the depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that result from the death of his daughter. One of his clients is a man with MS who loses his job in what appears to be discrimination because of his disability, but becomes something more when his employer attempts to steal his patent for a new pain medication that will mean relief without liver damage for people with chronic pain.
In the next release, next January, the heroine is a blind single mom, loosely based on someone I know, and explores the prejudice in society against people with disabilities being parents. It is especially challenging when her ex attempts to gain full custody of their child.
Oliver Twist is my personal dog, a therapy dog like Atlas in The Return of Joy.
I didn’t own pets until after my 50th birthday, so they mean a lot to me. (I didn’t engage with the ones in the household as I was growing up — they belonged to other people.)
When I walked into the pet store to get something for the cats that my daughter convinced me we needed, I saw Ollie in a cage with the other rescues. He was looking right at me, and I knew if I looked back I would bring him home, and I did.
So I had to include Ollie as a character in my latest release, Finding Her Voice.
A remarkably talented artist has just finished a statue of him for me to use in promoting Finding Her Voice when he can’t come along in person. And here it is with his actual photo for comparison.
Check out more of Jennifer Rudkin’s art at:
The Pain will never go away — but Love Helps Jen Cope
Jennifer had the perfect life. A loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a flexible job in the family business. When it was all taken from her, Jen struggled to move through her days with the help of friends and family — but they couldn’t understand, and somehow expected her to get over her grief. Even her twin brother, Joshua, was unable to help her heal.
Ollie, her daughter’s rescued dog, was the only one who seemed to share her grief and understand her pain in losing her daughter. When the divorce ended in the sale of their home, she and Ollie set out on a road trip of discovery. She needed time and the care of an old friend, and along the way met others who had lost a child or a marriage or both. None of them expected her to get over it, but they did help her go on living.
Her old friend listened, and with love guided her to an outlet for her feeling through music — and she found comfort through on-line contact with other bereaved parents, including Michael.
Life would never be the same, but maybe she could find the music, find her voice, find her own path to living after her loss. And if she was lucky, find love along the way.
Time to get this show on the road. She typed out a text and sent it in a blast to her whole family.
I’m packed and headed out. Thanks for understanding. I’ll update you from time to time.
Then she gave a little whistle and commanded Ollie to get up. He clambered into the seat where she belted him in.
“Well, boy, here we go. Off on an adventure.”
They called every ride an adventure. He had no idea how long a trip he was in for. Or that he would never come back to the place they’d called home. But then, she wasn’t certain how long it would be either.
Jen went around to the driver’s side, climbed in, and dropped her phone into the sound system so she could take or make phone calls if she wanted.
She started the van and, out of habit, started the tunes saved to her phone.
The song that came up was one she and Trudy sang together, a fun, silly song. She couldn’t bear it. She shut down the music. It was too hard. She couldn’t sing. Not anymore. She took one last look at the house that had been home to her now-destroyed family, then threw the van into reverse and turned so she could steer out of the driveway and onto the road. She didn’t look back. Her goal today was to drive as fast as the law allowed, and as far as her energy would support. She needed distance between her wrecked life and whatever was ahead.
Announcing the Paperback release of my first two books in the Starting Over Series
I am pleased to announce that the sales for these books were high enough to go to press — literally. My debut contemporary romance, More Than a Job, follows Paige Hamilton as she is forced to seek a new life when her consuming, 24/7 job ends at the hands of a new company owner. But Paige is a survivor, and begins to build a new life, one that may even have room for romance. A handsome stranger helps her through the transition, and soon she falls fast and hard for Joshua Robinson. Then she discovers he is the cruel owner, and that the company she loved — the company that cared so much about the adults with disabilities who lived in their homes — is in a downward spiral that puts the life of one of her friends at risk. Romance, job loss, life coaching, hidden family treasures, and a secret about an uncle she’d never met — Paige learns that life is More Than A Job.
The Return of Joy is actually the first book I wrote — and the first where an animal is one of the key characters. Patterned after a therapy dog I know, Atlas steals the show every time he shows up. His story is woven into his master’s, Mark Stone.
When Joy Huffman’s recurring dreams of the husband she lost become urgent she is convinced to go tot he cabin, their project of love, in New Mexico. With her daughter and mother-in-law, they set out to learn what Steve wants them to know — that his death was no accident, but murder. Their investigation stirs up the evil that ended his life, and puts them all at risk. The caretaker at the cabin, Mark Stone, is challenged to keep them safe while he unravels the mystery of why Steve died. Along the way he falls in love with Joy — but will she be open to loving again?
These books are available in paperback from Amazon today! Check out all six listings at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Lynette%20Endicott&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank
I’m J. Morgan and I am the proud pet of two evil overlords and an emperor of the Cith. No, I’m not talking about my wife and daughter, though, now that I think about it… so, who am I’m talking about? My Chihuahua, Paco, and the beautiful Mini Pin, Maxine. The emperor is the feline Mr. Bean, who has proudly owned me and my family for the past fifteen years. You may be asking yourself, with all these owners how does J. Morgan have any time to write. Well, you know those little voices that I’m always talking about? Now, you know who I’m talking about.
For those of you who aren’t a pet of one or more furry masters, I doubt you’ll get what I’m about to say. I’m not sure if I could write without them. Seriously, I couldn’t. Each one of my beautiful children of the fur help me in ways that I never thought possible.
Paco is my game changer. He knows exactly when his daddy is about to lose his mind. Whether I’m blocked or just have lost my way, he senses my frustration and clears it up the only way he knows how. When I feel the tap tap on my foot, I know it’s time to close my screen and pay attention to my baby boy. And, there he is, with one of his hundred toys hanging out of his mouth. It’s wubby time. So for the next twenty minutes to three hours I throw. He brings back. Repeat process until one of us passes out. Usually, that someone is me. Other times, he’ll just crawl up and sit on the keyboard, telling me enough. You’re driving me crazy with that mumbling under your breath. Just stop it. Strangely enough, he’s got more sense than me when it gets to that point.
Paco has been so much of a muse to me, he even wormed his way into Love Bites Book Three: Love Free Stake Hard as Dela and Deme’s loveable adopted son. Paco came to us in much the same way. Someone just threw him out in our yard when he was just a puppy. From the first second his big brown eyes stared into mine, it was over.
Now, we come to the ultimately adorable Maxine. She is the queen of the big brown eyes. Max is pretty much our lurker under the blanket who only comes out to bark at mystery sounds, Mr. Bean and her food bowl. So, how does she help me write? Ms. Maxine is a hugger. Dare I say the best hugger in the world! She instinctively knows when I’m having a hard time with a scene. I’ll hear the clickity clack of her feet and then she’s in my lap with her arms on either side of my neck, her head nuzzling my ear, and so much love flooding me, how can I not be inspired?
Mr. Bean on the other hand is pragmatic about it. His favorite minion, namely, me, has certain responsibilities in life. I’ve got to make sure his food bowl is full. Dry food all day long. Wet food once in morning. Once at night. The water bowl must be full and be at a certain temp. His recliner, yes, he has his own recliner. My wife thought it was hers, but he disabused her of that fact. Where was I, again? Oh yeah, his recliner has to have the proper amount of fluffed blankies for him to lounge upon. Once I have accomplished all that, I get the look. Silly man, get to writing. I don’t have time to watch you dither about. Cable does not pay for itself. I must have my stories to watch, food to eat, and please do something about these lesser beings. I did not give you permission to bring canines into my abode. You get the idea.
The point is, pets are beings of perfect love. They wrapped you around their paws and never let you go. Writing is a labor of love. How can you truly know what love is if you’re not surrounded by it. I am the luckiest man alive. I have examples of love around me all the time. From my wife, daughter, my family, my friends, and of course, my furry overlords, I am never far from the things that make life a true blessing.
Where in the net can you find J. Morgan?
Meet King, Sean’s Shepherd from Animal Instinct
Excerpt from Animal Instinct, Book One of the Time After Time Saga with Tami Dee
Sean tried to shrug away the tension gathering in his shoulders and the back of his neck. He’d seen the clinic on his way home yesterday, and he didn’t know where any other vets were located. He prayed someone would be there, and they could take his dog. The sting the poor boy got during their morning run was swelling around his eye and his breathing seemed more shallow than just a minute before. As a first responder, he knew the signs of anaphylactic shock, and he was terrified. He shifted King’s weight and kept on jogging, a slower jog with the extra hundred pounds, but he didn’t want to waste any time. He was close, just another half a block. “Hold on, King, I’ll get you some help.” He shouldered his way through the door. He barely took in the prim ladies with their lap dogs on leashes. He only had eyes for the person behind the counter who could get him some help.
“Doctor Al’s office, Carol speaking. How can we help you and your pet today?”
She wasn’t talking to him. She was answering the phone. He rested King, all sprawling, hairy, panting, wheezing dog, right on the counter in front of her.
His swollen eye was on her side of the counter. She couldn’t miss it.
“Just a moment, I have an emergency,” she said to the caller. “I’m putting you on hold.”
The woman was quick and competent. She called over her shoulder, “Doctor Al, we have an emergency in Exam One.” Then she turned to Sean as she opened the door to the side of the counter. “Follow me.” She opened another door into an exam room, grabbing what he recognized as the new epi pen on her way through. He carefully placed King on the table in front of them. “I will get you some paperwork in a minute. Do I have permission to treat your dog?” He nodded and she put the needle against King’s neck and pressed the life-saving drug into his system just as Doctor Al came into the room.
King was already breathing easier.
Sean’s whole body relaxed in relief. “Thank you, thank you.” He pressed the hand of the lady from the front desk; the motherly one who had acted so quickly.
“You’re welcome. Doctor Al will look at your dog now. Stop by before you leave.”
Doctor Al was a woman. That was the first thing that registered. She was petite, with very small but competent hands examining King’s body. “Carol has given your dog a dose of an antihistamine to quiet what appears to be an allergic reaction.” She flicked her gaze to him. “How long ago did this bite or sting happen?”
Her presence was calming. He shook away the tears that formed in his eyes at the thought of how close he’d come to losing his partner, his best friend. “Only a few minutes.” He cleared his throat in an effort to dislodge the fear and grief clogging it. “Maybe ten minutes ago. I was a couple of blocks from here, and figured it was faster to run in than to risk going home for my car.” He looked down at his running sweats, gave her what he hoped was an apologetic grin. “I know I stink and I don’t have any I.D. with me.” Embarrassed heat warmed his cheeks. “Or money, because we were out running. But I don’t live far,” he assured her with a quick gesture of his hands. He hoped he could count on small town acceptance. “As soon as we have this situation under control I’ll go get them.”
She nodded, continuing her examination. “Has this ever happened before?” When he shook his head she added, “Looks like there is only the one sting. What’s your dog’s name?”
He slid a glance to his dog. “King Solomon, but I just call him King.” At the sound of his name King raised his head, then got to his feet on the exam table, standing eye level with him and a head taller than the doc. He leaned in and licked at his master’s face. Sean laughed, partly in relief, partly in the surging joy that his dog really would be okay. He put his arm around King’s neck and the dog rested his chin on his shoulder.
Doctor Al lowered the stethoscope and looked into his eyes, and his breath locked in his lungs when he realized how beautiful she was. Auburn hair brushed her shoulders and framed her face, and eyes the color of the bluest sky met his. His knees went weak. He swallowed.
A hint of pink touched her cheeks and she averted her gaze from him back to King. “I’d like to watch him for a couple of hours, make sure we don’t have any further reaction.” With gentle fingers, she touched King’s face above the swollen eye. “I also want to clean this wound once the swelling has gone down, make sure we have the stinger and that we don’t risk infection. Can you come back after lunch?”
Sean nodded. He usually didn’t have so much trouble thinking of something to say, but Doctor Al left him speechless. He cleared his throat. “I’ll have a break at work around 2:00. Would that be okay?”
She nodded. “I’m sure that will work. Check with Carol at the front desk before you go.”
She smiled, and dimples appeared on both sides of her mouth. Kissing dimples. Where that thought came from, he had no idea, but he wanted to brush his lips against those smooth cheeks, flick his tongue into the little crevasses and claim them, claim her, as his own.
Download and read Animal Instinct, Book One of the Time After Time Saga with Tami Dee.