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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Everything is coming up...DAISIES!

Spring is a fantastic time of year. After the terrible winter we had in Boston, I'm welcoming this warm weather with open arms. I'm sure many around the northeastern US are as well. There's something about seeing all of the flowers come up and feeling the sun on your face that brightens the mood. Well, at least it brightens my mood. :)

There's another thing that happens in spring: spring cleaning. For the past few weeks, I've been going around the house and cleaning like a madwoman. This is especially true in the third bedroom, which we are making over into my home office. All of the kids' toys are out and so far I have a desk and a chair. Yay! The rest of the room looks a little bare, though. There are still some nursery curtains on the window, too. (Hmm, must do something about that.) Change is sometimes quick, like flowers suddenly appearing in spring, or slow, like buying furniture for a new room. As much as I want all of my furniture now, I know that it's best for our budget if I wait and do it piece by piece.

Flowers and office space aren't the only things changing. I'm also giving all of the covers in my Ecstasy Spa series a face lift. The series was in desperate need of something more. . .updated and it took me almost a full year to save up the money to get them all done. I think they look great, don't you?





Pretty, eh? It was a race to the finish, but I'm happy to report that they're all done and ready for the release of Ecstasy Spa, Volume III, coming out the end of May (cover arriving soon). What better way to celebrate spring than with a brand new release?

So tell me, what changes are you going through this spring? Do believe in spring cleaning? Have you started yet?

Read more about the Ecstasy Spa series here.

Visit my Ecstasy Spa Pinterest board here to see the old. . .er. . .vintage covers. :)


A lifetime New Englander, Suzanne married her college sweetheart and has been with him for over twenty years. Every summer she drags her husband and two daughters to Maine on a quest for the perfect lobster dinner. Every fall she can be found down in Foxboro, Massachusetts cheering on her favorite football team. In between those trips, she’s a chauffeur, a maid, a chef, an event planner, a hairdresser, a wardrobe stylist, a tutor and a sometimes masseuse. To keep her sanity, she often drinks copious amounts of coffee and stares at the blank screen of her laptop, dreaming of great adventures. Sometimes she even writes them down for others to enjoy.

Go here to see where I'll be next!

Join my Facebook reader group here.

Visit my website here.

Visit my Tumblr blog here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stormy beginnings and inspirations #RB4U

Storms are an intriguing aspect of nature, because in any season they can become so incredibly immense for the hours they are effecting our lives. I live on the East Coast of Canada, and this past Winter we’ve survived a pattern of weather that many people figured would never end! Three a week, and most of them blizzards, we were buried, quite literally, under about 9 feet of snow by the end of March. Our winter didn’t fully kick into gear until the end of January, so that will give you an idea of the pattern we were locked into here on the coast.

Of course, all that snow did inspire a couple of great writing sessions, and it probably won’t surprise anyone to know that at least one couple from an upcoming book gets caught in a blizzard, and wake to a changed landscape. If you’ve never seen a truly massive snowfall, it’s actually a magnificent vision the morning after if the sun is shining. The ice crystals sparkle like tiny shards of glass and diamonds on a scape that looks like the Sahara desert, only this one is cold and white. The ripples are the same, blasted into the snow dunes by high winds, and it blankets everything. I can stare at it endlessly and appreciate its beauty.

Summer storms are a different kind of power and energy. After a particularly long lightning and rain storm, I wrote a story called Storm-Singer the next day. The idea being that a shifter-witch, I called her a were-witch, could summon magic and power from the skies and channel the energy of weather to weave spells. She is the mate of an ancient vampire in a world called the Rim Rocques.

A while back, I discovered a video that fascinates me, of lighthouses being battered by storms… I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched that video, and I know there’s a story waiting to be told. Have a look and see if it hits you the same way:

And, if you’re curious about my Storm-Singer, you can read that tale here:

Three stories, one kind of hero, pirates anyone? Includes the short stories:

Storm-Singer: The Isle of Nyx has become the dread of all sailors who must dare the waters surrounding the mythical island. Local legends say a vampire prince resides in the ancient castle that can be seen from the harbor of the island. At his side is a powerful sorceress whose song can control and summon storms.

In a desperate attempt to end the eternal threat looming over them, the people of the Aurora Islands sacrifice their greatest treasure, the princess Sarita, entrusting her with the task of seducing and destroying the dark prince who has been plundering their wealth and their people for centuries?

Angel-Fire: A short intro to the world of Captain Jack Stanton, an honourable man with a tarnished reputation. Stranded in Nassau, caught up in a pleasant interlude with a barmaid, Jack has a vision that will lead him to his past and his future, if he can survive to get back Tortuga to discover what it all means…

The Phantom’s Lair: Upon her arrival in the pirate port of Tortuga where her father is acting as Governor, Katheryn Hollinsworth is determined to choose her own path, and follow her heart wherever it may take her. On the streets of Puerta de la Plata, she encounters the mythical buccaneer known as The Phantom, and very quickly loses her heart to the handsome rogue.

Jack Stanton is a man who has never fully come to terms with his past, and in the Governor's pretty daughter he finds a most unlikely champion. But when his past threatens her life, and any chance of a respectable future, The Phantom must face the demons of his past, and accept the dictates of his own reawakened heart...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guest Blog: Raelene Gorlinsky: Your Books Will Live On...

Your Books Will Live On…
By Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I am not offering legal advice. You should consult an experienced and licensed attorney regarding wills, trusts, copyright, intellectual property rights.

You are going to die, but your books don’t have to. (How’s that for a grabbing first sentence?) My list of EC authors has “Deceased” next to nine names. Most of them still have books for sale through EC—the author’s death does not mean the death of her or his published books.

Your books (copyrights, intellectual property rights) are assets you own, just like real estate or investments or family heirlooms. So you need to make plans for what will become of your literary assets when you pass on.

Your publisher most likely continues to hold the right to publish and sell the book for the term of the contract, even after your death. Standard publishing contracts typically state something to the effect that the contract terms are binding on your heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns. Check each of your book contracts for wording dealing with this. But the publishing contract does not cover who inherits your royalty income or your copyrights, who has the right to make decisions—you need to deal with that in your will or trust.

~ Make a will! Consult an attorney with the appropriate experience and knowledge. The family lawyer may know little about intellectual property or copyrights, so you may need to consult a specialist or do thorough research yourself.

~ Create a file for your executor and heirs with all the information about your books: copies of contracts and correspondence, any other relevant legal documents, contact data for publishers, agents and editors.

~ Make sure someone (your executor?) knows to notify your publishers/agent in the event of your death. Check with your publishers—would it be helpful for you to provide them a letter stating who to deal with when that sad event occurs? Because your editors/agent/publishers are likely to find out about it pretty quickly via social media. Right now I’m dealing with a situation where I do not know anything about a recently deceased author’s family, all I have is the author’s email/phone/mailing address. It is uncomfortable to just call her number and say “Hi, who do I talk to about the dead person?” How long should I tactfully wait to do this, will I even reach anyone, and will they assume I’m another casket salesperson and hang up on me?

(As an aside, I strongly recommend Good to Go: A Guide to Preparing for the End of Life by Jo Myers. She makes the topic entertaining while being practical and realistic.)

Publishers have a legal process to go through when a contracted author dies. They may require a copy of the death certificate or other legal proof. Once the estate is settled, they need legal documentation about the heir. They can’t make royalty payments based on “Hi, Annie Author has died, I’m her spouse/sister/son; send me the money.” And only the legally designated heir can act upon any contract terms. A quick summary:

So plan now to ensure your books are cared for as you want them to be after you are gone.

BTW, I intend to die with a book (or e-reader) in my hands.

Raelene Gorlinsky has been with Ellora’s Cave for twelve years, starting as an editor, becoming Managing Editor and then Publisher. She loves books in all formats, and collects antique dictionaries and the most beautiful of illustrated children’s picture books.

Ellora’s Cave is a digital-first publisher of erotic romance (Romantica®) and erotica fiction (Exotika®). Founded in 2000, EC has published over 5600 ebooks from more than 800 authors. EC is always open to new submissions, plus does several special theme calls each year. Please read the Author Information brochure to learn what we’re looking for and how to submit. (Available at

Books Published by Ellora's Cave:

The Spitfire by Bertrice Small
Blurb: The year is 1483. Tavis Stewart, Earl of Dunmore, abducts beautiful Lady Arabella Grey, cousin of King Richard III, as she is about to marry Sir Jasper Keane. Tavis wants revenge for Jasper’s murder of his fiancée. Irresistibly, deliciously, Arabella surrenders to her enemy with fierce abandon--knowing that there may be only one way to get what is rightfully hers.

Cowboy Gone Wild by Brit Blaise
Blurb: Cowboy Ray Wilde has a secret. To the fans, he’s a bull rider. But in private, when the moon is high over the Arizona desert, he gets more than a little hairy. Rachel Benson is searching for her missing sister and she suspects one of two men is involved in the disappearance, but which one? Is it the doctor or a handsome, shape-shifting bull rider who’s into bondage?

Virtual Heaven by Ann Lawrence
Blurb: Nothing extraordinary has ever happened to Maggie O’Brien until the day she plays a fantasy game called Tolemac Wars. When something goes awry, Maggie finds herself a slave in a very frightening world engulfed in war. How can she escape this strange place where men carry swords and others perform magic? When Kered comes to Maggie’s rescue, she cannot fight the attraction she feels for him. He casts a spell over her heart that has nothing to do with magic, and when she falls in love, she realizes she must choose…his world or hers.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rain by Janice Seagraves

Photo of Janice Seagraves
 April’s theme is daisies, diamonds, and storms. 
Thought I'd stay with storms since I do write about them, even though
my home state of California is in a sever drought and we don't get enough in the way of rain.
Every drop of water is precious. Lucky for us we just had rain pass through here two days ago.
Photo by Janice Seagraves
In my SF book Matrix Crystal Hunters I have a rain storm.


“I smell rain and my wrist hurts.” She showed him the arm that had gotten bitten by the sherakey. Her wrist was swollen. “It’s a weather gauge now.” She pulled a flat, round package out of her backpack. Walking around, she spent some time studying the ground.
“Now what are you looking for?”
“A smooth, level place to set my tent up.” She showed him the pouch in her hand.
He chuckled. “That’s not a tent.”
“Yes it is. Just watch.” She took something out of the pouch, then flung it out. From her hand, sprang a tent, which landed perfectly set up. Taking out some spikes, she hammered them into the ground, securing it. She tucked a few things from the bags under her arm and went inside.
Vach saw the lantern go on and heard her air pump humming inside the tent, as she inflated her mattress. He found her backpack and popped his head through the entrance of the tent. “I have your things.”
“Thanks.” She took it from him.
He looked around the inside of the tent. It looked like the same one she’d used in the ancient building, where she had nailed him with a frying pan. She’d taken down the tent while he had loaded up her jeep. “There’s a lot of room in here.”
“Yes. Sometimes I keep my instruments in here with me, so they’ll be safe.”
“There’s room in here for my bed roll.” He pointed at a spot on the floor.
“Nope.” She shook her head. “You’re not staying in here.”
“I’m your servant. I stay where you stay.”
“Not this time.”
“Oh?” He raised his eyebrows.
“You’re sleeping by the fire so you can gaze up at the night sky.” Maya grabbed something and shoved it against his chest. “Just to show what a great mistress I am, I got you a sleeping bag.” She turned him around and propelled him out the door.
Stumbling out, he turned to frown back at her. “Some gratitude.”
“Gratitude for what?” She stuck her head out of the tent flap to stare at him.
“For getting you off Brawley’s back.” He grinned. “I could have just left you up there.”
“But you didn’t.”
“No, but I might next time.”
She arched an eyebrow. “Would you really be that petty?”
“I might be.” He smirked, waiting her out.
She shrugged. “Then you wouldn’t be my servant, now, would you?”
Vach watched the zipper as it sealed the tent closed. She got me.
He dropped the sleeping bag on his blanket, by the fire, and went to organize the packs he’d taken off the animals. A water drop hit him on the back of his hand. Glancing up, more drops hit his face.
Goddess, she has better weather sense than I do. He moved the packs to higher ground and then covered them with a waterproof tarp.
Shaking out his blanket, he tucked it, together with his new sleeping bag, under his arm and hurried to the tent as the rain began to pour down.
He unzipped the tent flap and stepped inside.
Maya gasped. She jerked her pajama top closed. Turning her back to him, she quickly buttoned it up. “Vach! What are you doing in here?”
“It’s raining.” He swept a hand over his head, getting off some of the water. “You don’t want your servant sleeping out in the wet, do you?”
“You should have knocked first.” She grabbed her pajama bottoms.
“On a tent?” Vach briefly managed to get a look at her bottom, covered in the silky material of her panties, before she to pull her PJs up.
“Well, scratch on the material, or say knock-knock or something. Don’t just barge in on me while I’m changing clothes.”

Matrix Crystal Hunters is available:
US Kindle

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April Storms are Real World Magic by Sam Cheever

I've always loved a good storm. Power throbs in the air, the skies rumble and belch, rain spits against windows and streams over roofs. It's as close to real magic as reality-bound romantics may ever get. Whether you love storms or hate them, there's no denying that the energy they bring makes the blood pump.

Maybe that's why I like to infuse stormy weather into my stories. I mean, let's face it, a good weather episode can only make a dangerous trek or a terrifying adventure more challenging and fun. Thunder makes an awesome backdrop for a scary scene...lightning adds a delicious element of danger in a pursuit...and rain drumming gently on the roof is a cozy counterpoint in the symphony played by two lovers before a fire.

April, and the Spring months in general, are an inspiring time of year. Of course we love Spring because of warmer temps and May flowers. Flowers make the heart sing. They're Mother Nature's best paintings, coloring a brown and gray world and infusing it with heart stopping beauty. But before we have the soft, gentle beauty of the flowers, we must survive the harsh, pulse-pounding violence of April's storms.

They scour, they wash, they saturate and they scrub the last, unsightly dregs of Winter from a brown and ugly landscape, paving the way for the vibrant hues of May to come. It's a wonderful cycle, filled with hope and purpose. And it makes April one of my absolute favorite months!

From Honeybun in a Loin Cloth:

Godric stopped walking and placed his arm out, stopping Dini beside him. Thunder rocked the ground beneath their feet and lightning snapped overhead. The trees swung manically in a continuing wind, flinging debris.

Through the cacophony, Godric strained to hear the sound he thought he’d heard a moment earlier.

“What is it?” Dini screamed over the din.

Godric listened a moment longer and then shook his head. He could have sworn that he’d heard an engine. But that would be crazy. Nobody would be out in this mess. He must be imagining things.
He squeezed Dini’s arm and started walking again.

Above the clamor of the storm, they’d been hearing another roar for several minutes. They were walking parallel to the stream, but had been keeping a safe distance because Godric knew how quickly a harmless creek could become a violent whirlpool in a storm like the one they were currently experiencing.

With several inches of water coming down in a relatively short amount of time, the creek would quickly explode into an uncontrollable force, searing its way through the trees and vegetation and leaving destruction in its wake.

Godric could see the bright shimmer of the water through the trees, but thought they were on high enough ground to stay clear of it. Despite that, he’d been casting nervous glances as the water seemed to gain violence and move closer with every moment.

Finally he saw the rocky ledge he’d remembered from their earlier passage through the woods. He scanned the chiseled surface of the granite outcropping and found what he’d been hoping for. A dark spot about halfway up, an indentation, maybe even a shallow cave. It would provide at least some cover from the storm.

He touched Dini’s arm and pointed toward the spot. Dini followed his gaze and nodded, starting off in that direction.

A loud crack jerked them to a stop and their eyes widened as a massive tree, reaching high above their heads, shuddered, creaked, and began to topple in their direction, its massive branches reaching for them with deadly promise. 

Godric grabbed Dini’s arm and threw her toward the rocky outcrop, covering her with his body as the tree crashed to the ground just inches away. The tips of the largest branch scraped down the rock on either side of them and gouged a nice chunk out of Godric’s back.

He gritted his teeth against the pain, his muscles stiffening in anticipation of being gored by the tree.
When it had settled to the ground at their feet, the densely-leaved branches swinging from the impact and the building wind, Godric took a deep breath and relaxed.

But only for a moment. He suddenly realized that the roar they’d been listening to for the last quarter hour had grown louder. He turned and saw a muddy, swirling mass rushing toward them, tearing down trees and brush and moving massive boulders from its path.

“Flood!” Dini screamed.

Godric scanned the area and realized they had two choices, they could either turn around and try to outrun the water, or climb the rock wall in front of them. When water slammed the massive tree at their feet into the rock, he realized they really only had one choice.

There was no time to run.

“We’re going up!” Godric had to scream to be heard, but she was way ahead of him. She’d already jammed her soft shoe into a crevice in the rock and was climbing, her small hands grabbing at chunks of rock and bits of leathery root sticking out from the wall’s surface.

High above them, about twenty feet up, the dark crevice in the rock that Godric had been heading for beckoned. In a deadly, building wind, with the brute force of a runaway river roiling below them, that crevice seemed very far away.

Though they’d started out close together, the need to use the existing footholds in the side of the wall gradually pulled them apart. Godric made good progress and soon found himself several feet above Dini on the wall. He intended to pull her over the top when she got there.

Just as his hands found the narrow ledge in front of the crevice, a shadow fell over him and he heard Dini scream.

He looked up just in time to see a large rock descending toward his head. The rock smashed into his face and pain blossomed in his head and neck. Godric was suddenly falling backward, toward the roiling water below. He hit something soft and warm on his way down and heard a small grunt of pain before he splashed into the water and slammed into something hard and unforgiving. Icy, swirling water washed over his face as the world went immediately black.

He had no idea how long he was out. When he woke up, he discovered he was wedged into the prickly branches of an enormous evergreen tree, his face, neck, and arms stinging from the cold and the wind-blown scraping of the needles.

His arms were thrown over a pliant branch, his face kept out of the water by the branch, but his hands and legs dragged with the icy current. He was numb where he’d been in the icy water, and could barely get his hands and feet underneath him to stand.

He struggled to pull himself upright and turned toward the wall of rock they’d been climbing to escape the flood waters from the creek.

The wall was empty. He scanned the water around him and saw no sign of her.
Dini was gone. She’d just disappeared.

Though he screamed her name as loud as he could, the sound was completely lost in the violent wash of the wind.

Google Play:

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

If you haven't already connected, Sam would love it if you Liked/Followed her wherever you enjoy hanging out online. Here are her online haunts:

Amazon Author Page:

Friday, April 24, 2015


April’s theme is daisies, diamonds, and storms. Daisies are very pretty and festive. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I don’t have many diamonds, and the few I have are small, but that’s okay. I’m not much of a diamond gal. I prefer more colorful gems.

I chose the storm picture here because it shows one of the famous natural monuments in Monument Valley, Utah, a place I visited with my husband and son on one of our trips to the Southwest. We didn’t see any storms, but the mesas and plateaus and the wonders of Nature spread out for all to see there is awe-inspiring.

I live in Delaware, on the East Coast. Thankfully, we don’t get weather extremes here. Tornados have been known to touch down, but they’re minor compared to what they get in Tornado Alley. We have severe thunderstorms at times, but thunderstorms don’t scare me. I think they’re awesome, but I do worry about losing power each time we have a storm. In 2008, we were hit with a big hailstorm with golf-ball size hail. The sound of those ice balls hitting our house was deafening. When it started, we didn’t know what it was. My husband, son, and I, along with our cat, ran to the window. I’ve never seen anything like that before or since. Unfortunately, our cars were parked outside and they sustained damage from the hail.

Hurricanes, snowstorms, and ice storms are our biggest weather challenges in this part of the country. As a child, snowstorms were fun because we got out of school and we could go sledding when the snow stopped falling. Snowstorms and ice storms aren’t much fun when you’re an adult and have to drive in them to get to work. Most companies don’t close for snow or ice.

The last big hurricane here was Irene in 2011. Hurricane Sandy the following year was worse but it affected the Jersey Shore and not so much Delaware. During Irene, we lost power and Internet for six days. The evening the hurricane started, we lost Internet. We lost power during the night when a tree in a neighbor’s yard fell on electric wires. Twelve houses in our neighborhood were affected by that falling tree. Power outages were widespread throughout the state. At least we had water and our landline. Two of our phones are hardwired so even with a power outage we have phone service. That first afternoon when the storm finally ended, I heard a horrible thumping noise that shook the house. I looked out the window to see a telephone pole in our yard on the ground and split in two. There went our landline.

We were luckier than our neighbors because we had hot water. Their water heaters are electric while ours is gas-powered. We could take hot showers and they had to be content with cold ones. It was still summer and that helped. We managed to save everything in our refrigerator. We took our frozen stuff to a nearby relative’s and stored them in her freezer. We had two large coolers in our kitchen where we kept the refrigerated stuff. Every other day we bought more ice for the coolers. I cooked every night on the grill outside. On the fifth day our food ran out and we had to eat out. Every morning, I made a run to the convenience store for coffee. Must have my coffee in the morning.

Almost as bad as losing electricity was losing Internet. I got my first iPhone later that same month so I would never again be completely without my Internet. I was going crazy. It was as if I had no link to the outside world. Finally, after five days, I went to Barnes & Noble to use their Internet. Seems everyone had the same idea. The place was packed with people sitting all over using laptops. A store employee found me the last free electric outlet in the store—in the children’s section. I sat on a tiny child’s seat and hooked up to the BN Wi-Fi. At last, I could read my emails. I felt calmer than I had in days. On the day I was at BN, my husband was working on the yard. He left our garage door open and a guy on a bicycle stole two leaf blowers out of the garage. My husband chased after him on foot but couldn’t catch him. There are always those people who take advantage of situations.

On the sixth day, a convoy of power company trucks rolled into our neighborhood. The cavalry! Most of us neighbors who’d lost power were in my backyard at the time. When we saw the power company trucks, we let out a loud cheer.

We survived Irene, but it was a lesson in how dependent we are on basic needs like electric, water, telephone, and also Internet. I hope not to go through that again, but Mother Nature likes to flex her muscles at times and we’re at her mercy.

Weather can be a great backdrop for a story. My multi-award winning sexy sizzler, Storm of Desire, is set during a January nor’easter at the Delaware beach.

"The storm outside is nothing compared to the storm of desire and guilt raging between former lovers trapped together." 
Corporate attorney Samantha Greco needs some peace and quiet to come to a decision about her career. Instead, while an icy nor’easter rages outside, she finds herself trapped in a cottage on Fenwick Island with Aiden Rourke, a man she used five years ago when she ran from the heartbreak of her fiancé’s betrayal. 

Aiden Rourke has loved Sam for years. For one glorious night she was his. But then she fled, wounding his ego and his heart. Thrown together again, they soon discover time hasn’t diminished their fiery passion for each other. Only Aiden has ever been able to melt Sam with just a look or a touch. But the fear that she’s like her mother, who used men mercilessly, scares Sam to death. 

The storm outside is nothing compared to the storm of desire, fear, and guilt raging inside Sam. But during their wild weekend together, Sam and Aiden draw closer and realize their all-consuming passion for each other masks deeper needs and desires. 

When the storm ends, will they go their separate ways? Or will they find the courage to face the future together as one? 

Winner, second place novella category, 2013 Gulf Coast RWA Silken Sands Star Contest! 

Winner, fourth place short contemporary category-2013 OKRWA International Digital Awards Contest! 

Here’s an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.
Samantha Greco yanked her wet suitcase through the bedroom doorway, dropped it on the floor, turned on the lamp and slammed the door. The sound reverberated through the empty house. She hadn’t meant to take her frustrations out on the door, but her white-knuckled drive up the coast from Richmond, Virginia, to Fenwick Island, Delaware, had plucked her last nerve.   
Lightning flashed, illuminating the shadowed corners of the room. The fierceness of the January storm had turned the early afternoon to dusk. A sudden crack of thunder made her jump. Damn nor’easter!  
Shivering, she set her handbag on the night table, then shrugged off her jacket and threw it on the bed. The soaking rain had dampened her jeans. She sat on the bed and tugged off her boots, then her jeans and the sweater she'd worn since early morning. She unzipped her suitcase and rummaged for fresh jeans and a sweater. Straightening, the clean clothes in one hand, she loosened her hair from its clasp to let the damp tendrils swing about her shoulders and down her back.
She started when she caught a glimpse of another person in her peripheral vision. With a nervous laugh, she realized she’d seen her reflection in the full-length mirror. She studied herself and shrugged. Clad only in a red thong and matching lace bra, her black hair falling loose and undone, she looked worlds removed from the conservative corporate lawyer she presented to her colleagues. 
The lamp flickered, then went out, plunging the room into semi-darkness.
Samantha dropped the clothes onto the bed and let her eyes adjust. The wind picked up, howling an angry song. Scrub trees scraped the side of the house, a macabre accompaniment to the wind. Anxiety snaked through her. “I should have stayed in Richmond this weekend.”
Above the wail of the wind, she heard a door open and close. Samantha froze. She must have imagined the sound. Or maybe the cats were into something, or perhaps it was only a loose shutter. 
Footsteps echoed in the hallway.  
Definitely not the cats. Not a shutter either. 
Her heart raced. Oh, God. 
She groped for the sweater she’d thrown down. Sweater in hand, she looked frantically around for something to use as a weapon. 
Her bedroom door flew open and hit the wall with a loud bang. She screamed. A tall man, brandishing a baseball bat, stood silhouetted in the doorway. 
She threw the only thing she had in her hand at him--her sweater. He smacked it to the ground with the bat. The light suddenly came back on. She blinked as recognition dawned.
“Who the hell…?” he shouted above the thunder and the wind. His dark blue eyes widened and he sucked in a breath. Frowning, he lowered the bat. “Sam? I saw the car and wondered. But you? Why are you here?”
She couldn’t breathe as his hot gaze raked her. She’d never forgotten those eyes or that thick brown hair, or the dimple in his cheek when he smiled. She'd never forgotten that night five years ago either, that incredible night. Almost naked, feeling vulnerable, she folded her arms across her chest as if she could protect herself from the memories.  
“Aiden.” Her voice shook. Warmth curled in her stomach and wound lower, leaving her breathless from fright and remembered heat. 
He set the bat against the wall and glared at her, making her wonder if she’d imagined the desire in his eyes a second ago. “Sam, what the hell are you doing here?”
No one but Aiden called her Sam. 
The unexpected harshness of his voice brought her to the present. She scowled back at him. “What are you doing here? In my mother’s house?”
He pushed fingers through his hair, sending droplets of water flying, and studied her with eyes that sparked blue fire. This time there was no mistaking his desire. His gaze made another leisurely sweep of her body. “My God, you’re beautiful,” he whispered. “And still sexy as hell.”
Despite the embarrassment of her near-nakedness, her nipples pebbled under his scrutiny. He was smokin’ hot, and impressions flashed through her mind, as quick as the lightning outside--the feel of his lips on hers, the rough skin of his palms against her breasts. 
She should tell him to leave; she should get dressed. But caught in the sensual heat of her memories, she couldn’t move.
He broke the contact and looked away. When he turned back to her, his eyes were cool. “Get some clothes on, Sam. I’m a man, not a saint.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t charged in here scaring me half to death, I would have had time to dress.”
She glanced down and saw her short terry robe hanging out of her suitcase.
She grabbed it and pulled it on, tying the belt around her waist. Feeling armored, she propped a hand on her hip. “You didn’t answer my question. What are you doing here?”
“I promised your mom I’d take care of things while she’s away. I drove over from Rehoboth to check the house and get the cats. I would have been here sooner but the storm's made driving a mess.” He gave her a pointed look. “As you know.”
She ignored his jab. “You’re the friend who’s watching the cats?” At his nod, she said, “Well I’m here now. I’ll take care of them. You can leave.”
A muscle twitched in his jaw and he moved into the room. “Yeah. Right. You’re here now. Get dressed, Sam. We need to leave. All of us.”
At the seriousness in his eyes and voice, apprehension dashed up her spine.
She pulled on the ties of her robe again, fighting her unease. “What are you talking about?”
“The storm. We don’t have time to argue. Let’s find the cats and get the hell out of here.”
“Are you nuts?”
“You’re the one who’s nuts if you stay here.” He jutted his chin toward the windows. “Do you hear that? The storm of the decade and it’s only going to get worse. The Coastal Highway is taking on water. They’re evacuating everyone inland. Didn’t you notice cars going out but none coming in?”
“It’s January. There’s never much traffic here in January. Besides, I’ve been through plenty of nor’easters.”
“Then you know what happens when the highway floods.” 
A clap of thunder shook the house, as if to punctuate his statement.
Aiden reached out and turned her toward her suitcase. “We don’t have much time. Have you seen the cats? I don’t want to leave them alone. We don’t know when the authorities will allow us back in.”
She stepped away from him, then rubbed her arm as if she could erase the heat of his touch. “The cats ran past me into Mom's room a little while ago.”
“I’ll get the carriers. Get dressed, then we’ll get the cats.”
“Don’t order me around.”
He moved closer, invading her senses with his heat. His hair had begun to dry and curled softly over the collar of his black leather jacket. The dim light from the lamp touched his sharp cheekbones and full lips.
“Listen, princess, if we don’t get out now, we might be stuck here for days.”
Remembering the pleasure he’d given her with that mouth, she licked her suddenly dry lips. “Stuck here? With you?”
His eyes darkened and his gaze lingered on her mouth. “The two of us. Here. All alone.”  

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