Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In the Spotlight...Jessica Freeburg

Please join me in welcoming Jessica Freeburg and her new release, Living in Shadows.

Be sure to check out the buy links.

Short Blurb:

 Vivian is able to see things other people can’t; things like spirits, both good and evil. After a tragic accident, she begins a new life with her estranged father. While coming to terms with her own inner demons, Vivian realizes that she must help the lost spirit of a girl who disappeared in her new home 15 months earlier; her life depends on it.

BACK COVER BLURB:

            Vivian is able to see things other people can’t.  Things like shadows that move without a maker and hover over people, feeding their depression and fueling their self-destruction.  She also sees kind spirits, guiding and guarding their loved ones against the shadows.
When Vivian’s mother and brother die in an accident, the only option is to reunite with her estranged father at his new home in another state.  Unfortunately, there are shadows in the house, and Vivian tries to avoid them during this time of heartache and anger.  Her brother’s spirit warns about an especially strong shadow at the top of the stairs, one inhabiting the bedroom of a girl who disappeared fifteen months ago.
Once the spirit of the missing girl reaches out to Vivian, she learns the girl was murdered in that bedroom while staring into the eyes of a trusted person possessed by the shadows.  The girl’s spirit is restless, her undiscovered body lies buried in a shallow grave, not far from Vivian’s home.
With her brother’s assistance, Vivian searches for answers in hope the girl’s spirit can move on.  But the shadows are intent on protecting the killer’s identity.  They stalk Vivian.  Her life depends on releasing her own pain and anger, because the shadows won’t stop until she stops searching…or until death finds her too.

Excerpt:
Vivian’s feet planted on the second step from the landing, causing her father to stop abruptly to avoid crashing into her back.
Rebecca was still walking toward the room. “I’ve always thought this pink room would be perfect for a girl.”
“Stay away from the door, Vivian. This shadow is evil. You can’t let it know you can see it!” Thane disappeared before the dark spirit could see him speaking to Vivian.
“Where’s your bedroom?” Vivian pretended not to know as she turned toward her father.
“It’s just at the end of the hallway,” he replied pointing away from the room where Rebecca was standing in the open doorway. She’d already flipped the light on. Pale pink wallpaper dotted with tiny white and fuchsia flowers burst into view behind her.
A shadowy figure darted across the dimly lit room like a large, black dog rushing to examine an unfamiliar house guest, pausing just inches from Rebecca. It was at least a foot taller than her, even as it stood in front of her hunched over awkwardly, partially hidden from Vivian’s view by the bedroom wall flanking the doorway in which her stepmother stood. Its head cocked sharply to one side as it seethed like an angry cat.
Vivian wanted to scream for Rebecca to get out of that room. Instead, she took a deep breath and said calmly, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a room closer to yours.”
Rebecca and her father exchanged looks. Vivian held her breath, while the vaporous shadow figure reached a jagged, bone-thin finger toward Rebecca’s face and gently stroked her cheek, its bulk still partly obscured by the wall that separated the room from the hallway. Rebecca shifted her gaze to Vivian, unaware of the touch.
Most people never knew the spirits were present. They didn’t hear them, they didn’t feel them, and they didn’t see them like Vivian did. Sometimes Vivian wished she was one of those people. Life would be so much simpler.
“Of course.” Rebecca flipped the light off as she stepped out of the doorway. The vapor sucked itself sharply back into the shadows of the room. An unearthly shriek pierced Vivian’s ears as Rebecca pulled the door shut behind her.
“We just thought you might like a bit more privacy, but there’s a room right next to ours.” Rebecca smiled at James as she walked past the stairs where Vivian’s body had rooted itself.
Vivian closed her eyes against the high-pitched screeching, as if not seeing would somehow stop her hearing, as well.


Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Clean Reads


Author Bio:

Jessica Freeburg has always been inquisitive and loves the challenges of all that life, and the afterlife, has to offer. Her fascination with history and the paranormal fuels many of her creative works. She embraces the fringe and relishes in the examination of what others may take for granted. As the founder of Ghost Stories, Inc., Jessica has performed paranormal investigations at a variety of reportedly haunted locations. LIVING IN SHADOWS: BOOK ONE OF THE SHADOWS SERIES is her debut novel. Her second book, a middle grade nonfiction about the Holocaust will be released in the fall of 2016. She is a news correspondent for the wildly popular paranormal radio show DARKNESS RADIO. She also serves on the editorial staff of FATE Magazine and is the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for the state of Minnesota. In addition to writing books, she enjoys working in screenwriting and documentary production. She lives in Lakeville, MN with her husband and three children.


Social Media Links:

Twitter: @jessicafreeburg 
Author Website: www.jessicafreeburg.com
Ghost Stories, Inc. Website: www.ghoststoriesinc.com










Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In the Anniversary Spotlight...L.E. Fred

Today, I am spotlighting Lucid by L.E Fred to celebrate it's one year anniversary!

Blurb:
Devon Alexander is a 15 year-old teenager coping with the monotonous reality of his average life. His life receives an interesting reprieve as he has his first realistic dream of a spaceship. The strangest thing about the dream is that he seems to be the only one on board who isn’t in a dream-like trance. Before he can figure out anything about the dream or his strange shipmates, he manages to wake up. The next day, Devon catches a news story about inexplicable comas taking place all over the world. Devon’s life becomes increasingly interesting as he recognizes some of the victims from his spaceship trip.

Devon and an unlikely group of other teens start devising a plan to find out who is behind the strange dreams and the comas. Their plan is not only successful but immerses them in to the fantastical world that only resides in dreams. While in the dream world, the teens learn about the power of teamwork, a new world of culture, and their hidden potential to be heroes.

Suspenseful, funny at the worst times, and just a hint of teenage romance, Lucid takes a group of young adults and throws them into a fantasy world that they only thought could exist in their dreams. In a sense, they’re right.


Excerpt:
I know that most adventure/fantasy/whatever-you-would-like-to–call-these-stories start with something magical, but my story starts with something ordinary, dreams. I’m talking about the “I’m taking a test and don’t realize I’m in my underwear” kind of dreams. We have them every night, whether we remember them or not. Sometimes they leave us waking up with excitement or inspiration. Sometimes they cause us to wake with a shriek and to look around our rooms. Sometimes they leave us waking up confused or ashamed. These experiences are probably commonplace for most people, but I doubt any of you could ever say your dreams caused you to stay asleep for a long period of time.
What if your dreams made you disappear?

Bio:
L. E. Fred is a perpetual dreamer who writes about worlds both within and without this realm. With a degree in psychology, L. E. Fred tends to get lost in the mind, the greatest adventure of all. L. E. Fred is currently traveling the world, finding more adventures to inspire new tales of dreams and beyond.

Social media links:



Buy Links:





Q&A Answered Questions:

Q: What inspired the creation of Lucid?
A: I started writing Lucid after experiencing my first lucid dream. It’s a very out-of-body and surreal experience. We’re used to dreaming every night, but being able to control your actions and fate in the dream world is almost a magical thing. After figuring out how to wake up (yes, you have to oftentimes find your way out of the dreams,) I started pondering the idea of a dream world actually existing, and before I knew it, I had Devon and the plot for Lucid.

Q: You write from the P.O.V. of a 15 year-old boy. Is there anyone who shaped Devon’s character as the protagonist.
A: A wonderful counselor-in-training that I worked with actually inspired Devon’s character. Real-life Devon, who shall be nameless, was one of those campers that turned into a CIT when he outgrew the camp’s age groups. I never went to summer camp as a child, so working at one was a very interesting experience. I got to witness real-life Devon change from being a happy-go-lucky camper to a miserable CIT. As for Devon’s personality, that was shaped by my own sense of humor. I wrote Lucid through Devon’s eyes, and my own commentary sort of slipped through. It fit his sarcastic nature, though, and rereading some parts still makes me laugh.

Q: What about the villains? How did they come to be?
A: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by mythological monsters. There seems to be a common thread of villainous snakes and lions. A chimera combines these two deadly creatures, along with a goat, into one evil creature. I liked the idea of having three diverse villains; the more you get to know a villain, the scarier they can become for the reader and the heroes. As I wrote, Serpentine, Gruff, and Leona, seemed to appear out of nowhere to fit the evil villain’s roles. The Nightmares were a little trickier. I thought long and hard about how they should be portrayed, and I eventually started combining features of animals and creatures that people feared the most into one character. That’s why they have shark teeth and devil horns.

Q: Lucid is your first novel. Are you currently working on anything else?
A: Since Devon and his friends’ story didn’t want to finish at the end of Lucid, I’m currently working on the sequel. The story will continue our heroes’ adventure, but you’ll get to hear from other characters in it. It will also have much more of a fantasy element with an even crazier cast of characters. Aside from Lucid, I’m working on two more stories, both in the YA fiction genre.

Q: What inspired you to write YA fiction?
A: I’m a teacher, so I love working with young adults and teens. I’ve seen the power of books transform kids’ ways of thinking about the world and boost confidence. Never underestimate the power of reading. I know it played an important role in shaping my future, and I hope to reach out to as many young adults to inspire them to find their inner heroes and go change the world for the better.

Favorite 5s:

5 favorite YA books/series
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

5 fun facts about the Lucid crew.
Devon’s favorite thing about the Dream World is the pink grass.
Kyle is deathly afraid of insects. Devon hinted that his older brother screams like a small child when they find roaches in their houses.
Mitch, despite his love for water sports, is afraid of open water. He saw JAWS one too many times to trust the murky deep.
Viv fights with Elis frequently, but she is secretly jealous of his sword skills.

Iven researched the history of human music (with the help of Sophia.) His favorite tunes come from 15th century Gregorian chants and 1980s pop. 






Monday, June 22, 2015

In the Spotlight...Sue Searles

Please join me in welcoming Sue Searles and her new release, Lucia's Web.

Blurb: 

Creepy characters and shadowy scenes are woven through this suspense-filled story, steeped in strangeness with splashes of humor. When Ali Duncan advertises for two tenants to share an upmarket apartment with her, she has no way of knowing the series of cryptic events that is about to unravel.  When one housemate turns out to be a quirky nonconformist, the other a Gothic misfit, she has to rely on her own defective judgment to find her way.
With circumstances stacked against her, whom can she trust when she finds herself alone in her quest for normality, but nothing in the house is as it seems?

Excerpt: 

I sucked in a deep breath and held it, then wiped sweaty palms on my trousers. I’d only arrived home ten minutes ago and hadn’t relaxed enough to freshen up or change out of my work clothes.
Get a grip, Ali. I shouldn’t be so nervous—this was my apartment, my advertisement. So I was in charge.
It took me a little over eight seconds before I snapped myself out of my trance. If Lucia James had seemed distant and sociably inept on the phone, meeting her in person only solidified my impression of her.
Pin-straight hair, dyed jet black with purple streaks, hovered just above a sorry pair of sagging shoulders. A thick, black fringe fell across an insipidly white face, barely hiding brown eyes bordered top and bottom with a heavy band of eyeliner. Black lipstick sapped the girl of any natural color and made her look deathly pale. She clutched a brown leather bag across her chest, and a black leather jacket and studded jeans rounded off the look. The girl bit her lip and dipped her chin, her nervousness palpable.
I closed my mouth when I realized I’d been staring. “Um, sorry…come on in.”
I stepped aside to let Lucia enter. Her brown eyes darted furtively around the spacious lounge, then focused on an invisible speck on the hardwood floor.
“So, do you live nearby?” My eyes remained on her as I asked the question and tried to size her up.
“No, I’m not from around here. I don’t know many people in Umhlanga yet.” A shoulder raised two inches, then went back down.
“Where are you from?” I studied her, trying to draw the girl out of whatever spell she was in.
“Eastern Cape.” Her eyes remained averted, the brown leather bag clutched like a lifeline across her chest.  The long fringe hung like a thick, black curtain over her right eye, and I had to resist the urge to reach out and pull it aside.
“So, what brings you to Durban?” I honestly wasn’t trying to sound pushy, just curious. Besides, it was a reasonable question, not so? When Lucia didn’t reply, I crossed the room and closed the front door to give her time to answer. Just as I turned back to face her, she jerked her head away and averted her eyes back to the floor. I felt my frustration levels start to rise. So Lucia could quite easily look at me, as long as I wasn’t looking back at the same time?
I held my palms together and tried to shake off the girl’s unsettling presence. “All right, so…the rent is fourteen grand, split three ways. With water and lights, say an extra grand, we can round it off at five grand each. How does that sound?”
Lucia bit her lip hard and her eyes darted around the room briefly. “Sure. Whatever.”
“Rent’s due by the first of each month.” I tried to keep it upbeat, to sound much friendlier than I felt. “I’d like to check references before I make a final decision.” I gave Lucia a pressing look, one intended to communicate that I wasn’t too convinced about her yet. And in case she hadn’t been looking, I’d made sure she heard the threat in my tone.
“That’s no problem, you don’t have to worry about me not paying or nothing.” My warning didn’t seem to rattle her one bit.
I drew in a deep breath and gathered my thoughts. “Right, so we have a domestic worker who comes in once a week. Name is Thandi.”
Lucia met my eyes for the first time since she’d stepped foot in the place. “A-a cleaning lady?” There was measured trepidation in her voice.
“M-hmm. That’s okay, right? With all three of us girls working—”
She waved her hand. “That’s okay, I’ll clean my own room.” Lucia returned her grip to the bag and her gaze to the floor.
I narrowed my eyes at her, unsure how to respond. For somebody trying to gain approval, she was being surly and aloof, if not downright rude. “Well, if you’re sure. Just let me know if you change your mind.”
She gave a quick nod, obviously just to appease me.
Lucia’s tone was as colorless as her complexion, and lacked any kind of verve or energy whatsoever. The girl was as insipid as a jellyfish, with a personality to match.

Buy Links:


 
Sue Searles has written several books, ranging from women’s fiction and short stories to poetry and children’s books. Having worked on various forms of storytelling since childhood, writing has been a lifelong passion.
Now somewhat older and wiser, she is passionate about thinking outside the conventional box, and conveys messages that are thought-provoking and life-changing.
Her inspiration comes mainly from studying people, reading, and daily life.
Sue is happily married and lives in sunny South Africa with her husband and son.


Author Links:

Instagram – Sue Searles

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In the Spotlight...Holly J. Gill

Please join me in welcoming Holly J. Gill and her sweet romance, Innocence.

Innocence Blurb
Book 1

Calvin Edwards has everything he could dream about— perfect lifestyle, running the family real-estate company back in London. He takes a holiday up north to visit his parents only to find a young pregnant woman attempting to take her life. Wishing to help, Calvin becomes a friend to her, only fears he’s out of his depth. Just when he thinks he can do this his past resurfaces, sending his life crashing.

Kacey is pregnant and her life is out of control with nowhere left to go. She descends on her mum for one last chance for help, only to have the door slammed in her face. At her wits end, she is alone, scared, and helpless until Calvin comes along. He becomes a dear friend giving her kindness, something she thought no longer existed in the world. Only she finds what she’d pushed to the back of her mind through selfish pain is back. Her past with all its mistakes has come back to life!


Excerpt Calvin Edwards

“What the heck has she been telling you? Honestly, that girl wouldn’t know the word truth if it hit her in the face. She is after money, no doubt to take back to her drug dealing boyfriend.”
Calvin stepped forward needing to correct the evil woman. “She finished it, and she isn’t with him. Instead, she is scared and looking for someone to love her, but clearly the word ‘love’ means nothing to you. What mother,” he said, marching forward pointing his finger in her face, “would allow their daughter at her most vulnerable state to walk the streets, how can you not care? No shame? She is frightened and yet, she is the one holding the grudge with you…yet you have turned it onto her. She is broken, has no one and nowhere to go and yet you…you…” He gritted his teeth.
“Calvin,” he heard his mother’s voice from behind as she touched his left shoulder. “Step back.”
“No,” he growled. “She,” he said, pointing to Rosalind, “what she has done. I saved your daughter. I,” he said, thumping his chest, “I stopped your daughter from jumping off the bridge. I saved her. I was the one who coaxed her down,” he screamed.
Tears ran down his cheeks and could feel his mum holding onto his shoulder for comfort. He had to do it. He had to make her see how weak her daughter was and her mental state.
Rosalind widened her eyes, glaring at him.
“Yes, I saved her, I stopped her,” he said lowering his voice in heartache. “All she needed was someone to reach out to and help her take care of herself. She has nothing…nothing. You imagine feeling that lonely,” he said, glaring deep into her eyes through the tears.
“I have spent a few days listening to your daughter, trying to help her, guide her, get her the help she needs, but as my good friend keeps telling me! She isn’t my problem, but I have made her my problem. I want to help her, and no, it’s not just because she’s expecting your grandchild,” he snarled. Calvin didn’t want anyone assuming that, but they would, of course they would, and he’d be the first to admit when he saw her bump, he had to do what he could to get her down from the bridge.
“Calvin,” his mum muttered.
“No, Mum,” he said, turning his head to glare at her. He watched his mum gulp. “Even you would admit you were fooled into the real reason why she left the village.” He turned his head back to meet Rosalind’s eyes. “Weren’t we?”
Rosalind still looked gormless, frowning like she had no idea what he was talking about.
“Don’t you care your daughter was about to jump into the river and take her and the baby’s life?” he sneered.
She stared at him, shocked, like she had no idea what was going on with her daughter, puzzlement across her face and her eyes roamed all over the room, like the walls would give her answers.
“I’m sorry.”
He shuddered.
“Sorry! Is that all you can say. Sorry,” his voice rose. “Well, you're saying it to the wrong person, but then why would you wish to waste your breath on your daughter, when she is the one who has disgraced you. I mean heaven forbid she would turn out to be the little angel you had wished for, but noooo, she had to get herself knocked up, didn’t she?” he roared.










Where to find Holly’s books







Author Holly J. Gill
A wife and a mum to three grown up children, and lives in the UK. Holly J. Gill is a romance writer, her main genre being erotic, romance and has recently been exploring new channels, paranormal and contemporary. Holly has been writing since being a young girl, having characters talking to her, and longing to get their stories written. Finally, her dream came true two years ago, when getting her first contract with Secret Cravings Publishing for her Desires series. In Holly’s spare time she loves spending quality time with her family, seeing friends for lunches and sharing her new potential ideas for books. She enjoys listening to music, watching movies and travelling around England visiting the beautiful countryside.
Writing is where Holly’s heart is…   

Where to find Holly



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

In the Spotlight...Carol Malone


Hello! 

Today we are going to focus on the next book in the compilation. 
Check it out!


Summer Holiday:
In the summer of 1905, Lizzy Gordon’s father dismisses her desires to be a doctor, demanding she become a teacher—a profession which does not allow women to marry.
Teacher Brent Pierce is dedicated to expanding young minds, but circumstances are forcing him to take over the family farm.
Before the summer is over Lizzy and Brent will be forced to make hard decisions. Can they find the courage to each stand up for themselves and still be together?





Now about the fabulous lady behind this book!

 

Carol Malone
Award-winning author Carol Malone has successfully combined her three passions – romance, sports, and writing in her two highly-rated books, Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night, and Ladies Night Christmas sequel. She was the first woman to write a romance for the all-male dominated genre. Carol invites her readers to scramble into a front row seat for a thrill-ride of suspense, sports, and romance. If not hammering out new tales, Carol’s loves reading, sports, and hanging with her author husband on the coast of California.







Book Buy Links:


Don't forget to get your name into our GIVEAWAY!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  


Book Tour Schedule:
(You can check out posts that have been made during this tour here:

Don't forget! Each author in this tour will be featured once during the tour, and on her special day there will be all kinds of fun facts to check out about her and her book!

June 6th:
Featuring Dreaming in California by Debbie Lee
robynechols.blogspot.com
semishort.blogspot.com

June 7th:
Featuring A Summer of Stars by Lisa Watson
robynechols.blogspot.com
semishort.blogspot.com

June 8th:
 Featuring Drowning Sandy by Sarah Daley
Authorbrookewilliams.com/blog
robynechols.blogspot.com
semishort.blogspot.com

June 9th:
Featuring Summer Holiday by Carol Malone
robynechols.blogspot.com
semishort.blogspot.com

June 10th:
Featuring Shark Boss by Kathy Bosman
robynechols.blogspot.com
semishort.blogspot.com

June 11th:
Featuring The Best Place to Meet a Man by Robyn Echols
robynechols.blogspot.com
semishort.blogspot.com

June 12th:
Featuring the entire compilation
robynechols.blogspot.com
semishort.blogspot.com

In the Spotlight...W. Lynn Chantale

Please join me in welcoming W. Lynn Chantale and her new release, Take the Cake.


Blurb:
Liz Washington cant believe her good fortune when shes asked to cater one of the biggest and most prestigious weddings of the year. Not only is the location perfect, but working with the bride is a dream. But her dream job quickly turns into a nightmare when the brides brother Keegan keeps pushing to change the cake. Yet whenever shes in his presence all she can think about is being skin-to-skin.

Keegan Murphy is determined to make his sisters wedding the talk of the town, but that cant happen with a plain and unimaginative cake. He doesnt anticipate the instant attraction he has for Liz, but he has no problem seeking out every opportunity to seduce her.


Lizs not there for pleasure; she has a wedding to save. But will salvaging the wedding cost her a relationship she shouldnt have started in the first place?

Excerpt

“This is unacceptable.” Keegan Murphy shoved the drawing of the plain cake beneath the pretty nose of the caterer, not caring that he was interrupting her work. “You need to fix this.” 

Liz Arnold snatched the drawing from his hand and slammed it onto the table. The metal reverberated with a tinny clang. Around them, work momentarily ceased, and Keegan was aware of several pairs of eyes focusing in their direction. After a heartbeat, they resumed working. 

Liz’s nostrils flared a moment before a tight smile creased her lips. Keegan drifted his gaze over her and fought back the wave of desire. A pink bandanna held a riot of brown ringlets away from her heart-shaped face—a rather attractive face. Her smooth caramel complexion was devoid of makeup. Remorse chased his thoughts. He remembered a time when he’d have pulled the hair restraint free and combed his fingers through her tresses. 

Somehow he’d missed his opportunity. He returned his attention to her face. Wire-rimmed glasses held specks of green and red, probably frosting splatter if the bowls on the table were any indication. 

How had she kept her apron so pristine when her hands were covered in several colors? The fitted chef’s coat accentuated firm, round breasts and a narrow waist. He shifted his stance as lust simmered through his veins and rushed between his legs. LIZ was stitched in heavy lettering over her left breast. In that moment, he envied the bit of material caressing the curvy swell of her bosom. He longed to trace said breast, and he lifted a hand to touch her. Taken aback by his reaction, he recovered by combing his fingers through his hair. How could he be so attracted to her after all these months? 

“Mr. Murphy, I appreciate your concern, but the design has already been approved by the bride, your sister. She’s happy with it, and you should be too.” She reached past him for a blob of red dough. “If you don’t mind, I’ve got work to do.” 

He stepped in her path, and she juggled the bright crimson ball to keep it from touching his clothes. “There’s no need to be so formal, Liz. We had some good times. We have a history.” 

Their history was something he’d always regretted. For some reason, Keegan had believed she would wait for him no matter how long he took to get his act together, but he had been wrong. Now he lamented not making her his when he had the chance. 

“Convenient how you want to bring that up now,” she scoffed. “Our past will not work in your favor. Whatever we had has nothing to do with your sister and her wedding. Now leave. You bother me.” 

He stepped closer and was satisfied when her eyes widened and a quick inhale thrust her luscious breasts up. “Change the design. When they see the cake, everyone is going to know what it means.” 

She rolled her eyes and huffed. “Mr. Murphy, if you believe that nonsense, then you’re not as intelligent as you look. Now would you please get out of the kitchen and let me work?” 

“What did you say?” 

A ghost of a smile flirted at the corners of her mouth. “Go. Away.” 

He lifted the drawing from where she’d slammed it earlier. “I’m going to speak to my sister about this design.” 

“As long as you do it outside of my kitchen.” She plopped the dough on the stainless-steel table. A cloud of flour floated upward in its wake. She kneaded the crimson ball, pushing it forward with the heel of her hand and then folding and pulling it toward her body. Her movements were smooth and fluid, and he yearned to feel her hands work him in the same manner. 

Keegan stepped into her space. Her scent—a hint of spiced vanilla—rose to greet him. Just as he remembered. He closed his eyes, savoring. With a sigh, he inched back and opened his eyes. Her jacket lifted, baring her back just above the waistband of her black, curve-hugging slacks. For a moment, he was rendered speechless as he fastened his gaze on the hint of smooth toffee skin that was revealed. He had an overwhelming urge to slide his palm over the exposed flesh. The long apron did more than just keep her clothes clean. It also hid a great figure. 

She glanced at him but continued to work the dough. “Are you still here? I thought you were leaving.” 

He bit back a smile. He liked her gumption. Plus, she was sexy and sassy, a combination he thoroughly enjoyed, but this was supposed to be about his sister, not him. “For the time being.” 

“Mr. Murphy, I’m sure you’re aware that there is a dinner for thirty friends and relatives in roughly”—she glanced at her watch—“three hours. You being here is a distraction. Unless you plan on donning an apron and joining the prep?” 

He laughed. His idea of cooking was a takeout menu or pushing buttons on a microwave. Even then he still used the smoke detector as a timer. “Right. I’ll talk to my sister about this. You will change the design.” 

“Whatever.” 

Keegan strolled out of the kitchen, aware of the looks from a couple of the cooks, one chopping vegetables, the other standing near the wall of commercial stoves. Let them stare. Having such a simple cake for a grand wedding would be an atrocity. Too often he heard about Liz’s cakes and how her more elaborate designs would ensure a newlywed couple would enjoy a long and prosperous future. Even while they were dating, a certain mystique was attached to her name as the premier cake decorator. And he’d checked out the weddings of the cakes she had designed. Many were still happily married, but those who’d chosen a lesser design… The simple cake for his sister would guarantee disaster for her marriage. 

He shoved through the double swinging doors, rounded the corner into the wide corridor, and spied his sister. Her back was to him as he approached. He hurried over. “Hey, Caroline.” 

With a bright smile on her face, the younger woman turned from her conversation with an older woman who held a clipboard. “Keegan. Just the person I was looking for.” She glanced at the other woman. “Thanks, Martha. Would you be so kind as to let the caterer know about the menu change for tonight?” 

Martha nodded and hurried toward the kitchen. 

“A menu change?” 

“David just informed me that half his family is allergic to shellfish, which just proves he was not paying any attention when we were going through the menus for the parties.” She shook her perfectly coiffed head. “I hope Liz isn’t too inconvenienced by the menu change.” 

Keegan nodded. “Caro, are you sure about the cake?” 

His sister stopped in front of a mirror and tucked a stray blonde curl back into its pin. “Isn’t the design heavenly?” She pulled lipstick from her purse, then swiped the color across her lips. “She’s got the most decadent chocolate, chocolate-mint, and vanilla-raspberry layers going on. It’s so good.” 

“This is your wedding day. Your cake should be elaborate.” 

“It is. It’s got curlicues and fresh flowers.” 

He shook his head. “I know you’ve heard the rumors about Liz’s cakes. A simple cake means your marriage won’t last.” 

Caroline faced him and laughed. “Keegan, you are the most superstitious person I’ve ever met, and I can’t believe you’d put stock in all that nonsense. People make a marriage work, not a piece of pastry.” She rose on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. Then she wiped the lipstick off with her thumb. “You’re so sweet to worry about such things.” She glanced around the large foyer. “Have you seen David?” 

Keegan frowned. The caterer had corrupted his sister into giving up her dream cake. “What about all those pictures you had in your wedding wish book?” 

Her greenish-gold eyes widened. “You remember that silly thing? Goodness, I think I lost that when I was thirteen.” She shrugged. “Besides, there are much more expensive items to worry about than childish wishes. Did David show you the rings? Or my gown?” She clutched his arm. “Keegan, the dress is exquisite. The lace is perfect, and the crystals will dazzle. I try it on every night.” 

He chuckled. Just like his sister to forge ahead with what was most important to her—jewelry and clothes. “I still think there’s something to this wedding cake thing. She did the Fuller wedding two years ago, and they’re now divorced. Their cake was simple, whereas the Salzer wedding cake was ornate and extravagant. There were even cupcakes, and they’re still married.” 

She patted his cheek. “Only you would worry about the statistics of our friends’ marriages. What you need to do is find one of the bridesmaids and sleep with her.” She paused. “Or do you prefer one of the groomsmen?” 

Heat touched his cheeks. With nearly a decade separating them, his love life was not a conversation he wanted to have with his sister. 

He did prefer the soft, voluptuous curves of a woman, losing himself in her sweet, slick heat. The subtle scent of spiced vanilla teased his nostrils, and the image of a certain caramel-skinned woman drifted to his mind’s eye. He’d love to explore all that creamy flesh with his mouth and tongue, indulging in her nectar. It had been so long since they were together; he wondered if she’d taste as good as she smelled. 

“In this day and age, one can never be presumptuous. Whatever your preference, I still love you.” 

“That’s good to know, and none of the bridal party appeals to me.” 

“Too bad. Sandra’s been eyeing you like a chocolate-covered berry.” 

Keegan shuddered. Since the bridal party arrived at the family estate two days ago, he’d been playing keep-away from the maid of honor. Spending any length of time with the brunette lowered his IQ. Whoever said blondes were dumb hadn’t taken the time to know this particular brown-haired beauty. An ordinary conversation with Sandra was the equivalent of smashing his fingers in a door. How the woman obtained a medical degree, he’d never know. “I’d rather not,” he said. “How did you two become friends?” 

“She’s a lot of fun when you get to know her.” 

“I don’t have that type of time.” Or enough fingers. Although, a little fun with a certain caterer would be welcomed. 

A loud crash emanated from the kitchen, the doors opened, and muffled swearing followed a harried and blushing Martha. She saw them and nodded. “The…um…caterer will make the changes.” 

Keegan smothered a chuckle. Apparently, Martha hadn’t had much luck with the caterer’s temper either, and he wondered if Liz was still just as feisty outside the kitchen. 

“I can just imagine how upset that dear woman is. She’s spent so much time helping me pick out the right dishes, and this change is last minute. I better go see if there’s anything I can do to help.” 

He grabbed her arm as she headed toward the kitchen. “I’ll go check. You go mingle with your guests. This is your weekend. Your moment.” 

She nodded. “You’re right.” A man of medium build wearing tennis whites and twirling a racket strolled by. “Hey, Christian. Wait up. I’ll walk to the courts with you.” 

Keegan narrowed his gaze as he watched the two walk out arm in arm. His sister was awfully close to the best man. Another crash from the kitchen captured his attention. A faint smile creased his lips while his pulse pounded a hasty rhythm of anticipation. Time to see the caterer again.