My publisher has even more free reads for your Christmas “me” time. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/StoreFront.bok or check them out below:
Joel Randolph was a set designer in summer stock when he met Emily Keeler, former Hollywood starlet — and her daughter, Max. Cast opposite her in a romantic comedy, and then summer friendship and acting as a father-figure for Max changed Joel, until he realized he wanted Emily and Max in his life permanently.
A little body with an amazing mop of black curls squatted in the pool of light from the Green Room door, playing with one of the wooden tops that Gregori liked to carve during performances while waiting for his lighting cues. She looked up as Joel approached and opened her mouth as if she would say something, then shook her head. She stood up and held out her hand.
Bemused, Joel bent over. He had learned a long time ago that no matter how small the children, they hated when adults went down on one knee and emphasized how short they were. He shook her hand.
“Hello. I’m Joel. What’s your name?”
“Max?” He grinned, sure he had heard her wrong.
“Max? What are you doing out here?” A little woman with pure white curls and a neon orange jogging suit paused in the doorway, leaning on her glossy black cane. “Honey, remember what Mommy told you? Don’t go running around strange places.” She took hold of Max’s hand to lead her back into the Green Room. “I’m sorry. We just got here, and she’s been riding for six hours and … well, you know children. If they can’t run around once every hour…” Her smile was full of mischief and life, and Joel found himself grinning back at her.
“But it’s not a strange place,” Max said, all seriousness. “It’s a theater. I know all about theaters.”
“You do, huh?” Joel gestured for them to precede him into the Green Room. “How’s that?”
“Max?” The sweet alto voice full of concern was more than familiar to Joel. He had just watched Sand and Storm two nights ago, on a rented videotape so grainy some of the scenes were lost in snow static. He didn’t mind – the static that came with too many viewings usually covered up Carlo Vincente’s face and cleared whenever Emily Keeler came on the screen. It never covered up her voice. As if it knew better than to interfere with her performance.
“Kurt Horner?” Emily said, coming forward and holding out a hand.
“Ah, no. Joel. Joel Randolph. Tech director. Kurt had to go to town for our annual conference with the police about traffic …” He held out his hand to shake, then the pieces clicked together in his head. Gloria had said “they” and “three.”
“I’m Emily Keeler, and this is my Aunt Maxine, and my daughter, Max.”
“I’m named for Aunt Maxi,” Max announced proudly.
“That makes sense.” Joel wiped his suddenly damp hands on the back of his jeans and looked around. “We should have your room ready for you soon. We call it the tower room. More than enough room for the three of you, and it gives you a great view of the ravine behind the theater. Let me give you a tour, show you where we eat, where the laundry facilities are, the bathroom, give you a rundown of how we run things here.”
Joel turned, gesturing for them to follow. It was a survival tactic he had learned long ago, when beautiful gray eyes and heart-shaped faces threatened to overwhelm him and tie his tongue into knots. The only solution was to do something, offer some service, and put himself into a position of giving instead of asking.
He had only taken two steps before Max scurried to catch up with him. She reached up for his hand and he gripped her little fingers without thinking. Later, looking back, Joel realized the moment he looked into those big dark eyes and that trusting little face, he had fallen in love.
A Desert Breeze Publishing Free Read
Companion piece to Anne’s WOUNDED HEROES series — beginning with Kill Shot
Hope Erickson, a Blackhawk pilot, and Nick Cunningham, an army ranger, renew their acquaintance on the battlefields of Iraq. Will they risk their hearts to one another or does fate have other plans in store for them?
Penned down under heavy fire, the sound of the Blackhawk chopper is one of the sweetest sounds a ranger will ever hear. Then to discover an attractive female at the stick has the sparks flying.
Hope Erickson, a Blackhawk pilot, and Nick Cunningham, an army ranger, renew their acquaintance on the battlefields of Iraq. He was a bully while she was the chubby girl with braces he and his friends picked on in school.
Hope has changed though, and Nick wants a chance to convince her so has he. Will they risk their hearts to one another or does fate have other plans in store for them?
Nick changed out of his uniform and into the clean PT clothes he borrowed from another soldier. He hoped the accidental meeting would be worth the twenty bucks it cost him.
Hope was still in the weight room when he came out of the locker room. He considered his battle plan again. If she was still harboring ill feelings toward him he would have his work cut out for him.
“Hey, Cunningham, I thought you worked out in the mornings,” a fellow officer in his platoon hollered.
Hope glanced up from the weight bench midstride. They locked gazes. If she was surprised to see him, she didn’t show it. She did two more reps before straddling the bench.
Nick’s carefully thought out plan just went out the window. Without a clue as to what he was going to say, he walked toward her.
Lieutenant Garret, on the weight machine next to her, smiled at him. “Heard you got yourself in a bit of a jam today… bad Intel?”
“Yeah, but thanks to Captain Erickson here, we all made it out alive.”
Lieutenant Garret glanced at Hope. “You were flying the bird that rescued them? I thought they only used women pilots to ferry supplies and VIP’s.”
She tossed him a smug smile, “Not in this war,” then grabbed her towel and walked off.
Nick quickly followed. “Bet you get a lot of that, huh?”
“I’m used to it.” She stopped at a treadmill and stepped on, draping the towel across her right shoulder.
Nick climbed on the one next to her. After programming his speed and incline, he began a brisk walk. “How long have you been flying?”
“Since I was fifteen,” she answered with barely a glance.
“I meant in the army.”
“Nine years. Did Kylie tell you I was here?”
“Who’s Kylie?” he avoided her question, hoping to keep his promise.
“Never mind.” She met his gaze. “What do you want, Lieutenant?”
He gave her his best smile. “For starters, I’d like for you to call me Nick.”
“There are rules against fraternizing.”
“We’re only talking. Besides, if I did have aspirations toward you in that capacity, that rule refers mainly to relationships between officers and enlisted personnel.”
She shook her head as she glanced away.
“Whoa… wait a minute, was that a smile I just saw?” he teased. When she refused to look at him, he stepped off the treadmill and moved to stand in front of her. “I was a horrible kid, I admit it. And I’m sorry.”
“Forget about it. It’s no big deal.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
“Believe me or not, that’s your prerogative.” She grabbed the towel from her shoulder and stepped off the treadmill. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”
He followed. “Now you see; if you didn’t keep brushing me off I might believe you.”
She paused at the door, turning to him. “Are you always this tenacious?”
“Yes. It’s one of my many attributes. Have coffee with me and I’ll share some of my other qualities.”
“Is that a yes,” he asked, hopeful.
“All right, I’ll have coffee with you. Not tonight, though. I have a pre-flight briefing at oh-seven-hundred.”
“Tomorrow night then… after dinner with your crew, I’ll meet you right here.”
“It’s a date then. Don’t forget.”
“It’s not a date, its coffee, and I won’t forget.” Download the full read from http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-239/Wounded-Heroes-Christmas-with/Detail.bok
For eighteen years, Nik has been a solitary man… focused on his career and his career alone after he lost his wife and son. Now, a chance meeting has given him something else, something more, someone to love again.
CJ Montgomery is young, naïve and moldable when she meets Colonel Nik Tanner… except he is the only person not trying to make her into something else.
Time and distance would eventually heal the rift that meddling, vindictive hands create, but their story is just as much in the past as in the future… A lifetime Ago
Saturday, February 21, 2043
Presidential Ballroom Edward J. Holbrook Center for Areth-Earth Alliance
Washington, Northern Hemisphere Capital City
Former United States of America
Soft music, laced with subtle string melodies, echoed through the expansive ballroom as military leaders, political figures and scientific pioneers mingled with Areth dignitaries and ambassadors. Subdued conversation hummed just below the surface of the music, blending with the tinkle of crystal and china.
Doctor CJ Montgomery stood at the top of the sweeping staircase that led to the ballroom floor, taking in the crowd as a giddy excitement danced up her spine. She tightened her hold on the arm of the gentleman walking beside her. He patted her hand affectionately.
“I take it you’ve never attended a soiree on this grand a scale, Miss Montgomery?”
“No,” she said as she released a pent-up breath, then blinked and turned to look at Professor Abernathy. “No, Professor.” Her voice was stronger this time.
He smiled behind his full, white beard and took a step forward. CJ walked with him, the flared hem of her silk skirt whistling around her ankles as they took the stairs. “You are the next generation of Genetics Engineering geniuses, Miss Montgomery. It’s high time you rub elbows with the men and women that will lead our world into a future full of promise and advancements like none we have ever imagined.”
They reached the bottom of the stairs, and Professor Abernathy led her directly to a small crowd of people gathered together in conversation. She immediately recognized Warrick, High Commander of the Areth fleet, and her heart jumped into her throat. He was dressed in a long robe of deep brown, five gold cubes on each shoulder the only indication of his rank within the Areth Chain of Command. He needed no insignia to set himself apart. There wasn’t a person on Earth who didn’t know Warrick by sight. She barely heard the exchange between Professor Abernathy and the Areth leader until the saying of her own name snapped her out of her daze.
“I consider Doctor Montgomery my prodigy, and predict her contribution to the study of Theoretical Genetics will be groundbreaking. She is a brilliant doctor.”
Heat rose in her cheeks and she glanced away from the professor and Warrick… and found herself looking into the most intense brown eyes she had ever seen.
“Doctor Montgomery, allow me to introduce Colonel Tanner,” said someone’s voice on the edges of her perception. “Colonel Tanner is one of our honorees this evening.”
Colonel Tanner towered over her, or so it seemed. CJ was five-foot-ten and had on heels and yet she still had to raise her chin to meet his gaze. He was at least six-foot-three, and the blue dress Earth Force uniform he wore accentuated his broad shoulders and a trim physique. His brown hair was cut close in standard military fashion, with the slightest hint of gray at the temples. That, with his rank, told her he had to be in his late thirties at least. Slight lines bracketed his thin, chiseled lips.
He extended his hand and CJ took it, his long fingers engulfing hers.
“Doctor?” he said, and his voice was like honey over gravel.
“Yes,” she managed to say, her voice lost somewhere in her throat.
Download the rest from: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-74/A-Lifetime-Ago–dsh–dsh-/Detail.bok
Bojan and Laney are newly married and about to embark on their honeymoon. They will be traveling to his homeland in eastern Europe to meet his family. Only Bojan has other plans in mind once they get there. He’s out to find his sister’s ex-boyfriend who nearly killed her and left her for dead a year ago. He wants to make sure his sister will be safe and will not have to look over her shoulder for the rest of her life. But he hadn’t thought things completely through and takes a risk by keeping his plans from his wife. The one thing he hadn’t considered, though, was God’s knowledge of the secrets in his heart.
Bojan finally relaxed in his seat on the plane to Paris, his seatbelt almost too tight, and his fingers entwined with his new bride’s. While he hated to be deceptive in any way, he had another purpose for their stopping over in Macedonia to see his family. He needed to know if Georg was still alive, and if so, whether or not he realized Jovana had lived despite his abuse and leaving her on the streets for dead.
He imagined himself giving Georg a sound beating and threatening him within an inch of his life. He knew it wasn’t very Christian behavior, but how else was he supposed to feel knowing the sick things the man had done to his sweet baby sister?
Within seconds of takeoff, he slipped into a deep sleep and dreamt of his first meeting with Georg. Leaving Jovana behind in Arizona had been difficult, but losing her again to that scumbag ex-boyfriend Georg was something Bojan would not tolerate. He and Laney had a European honeymoon planned, but part of their trip included finding Georg so his sister would no longer have to look over her shoulder wondering when her ex would show up.
Yes, one of the reasons she had moved to Arizona was for protection from her ex, and he had no doubt that Georg would have a difficult time finding her there, but he wanted to make sure for his own peace of mind. His new bride thought they were only going to Macedonia to meet his family. She didn’t need to know the other details, but part of him ached to tell her the whole truth about their visit. At the same time, he had waited too long for them to be together to upset Laney right now. If she thought any harm might come to him, then she’d be frantic, and all peace between them would dissipate. Download at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-397/Uncovering-the-Secret-Michelle/Detail.bok
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