Finally, Friday! Post-Valentine’s Day catching up…

Here’s something I find amusing:

Valentine’s Day fell on Ash Wednesday this year.

Today is Chinese New Year!

Easter will be on April Fool’s Day.

Can you tell I love reading the calendar?

How was your V-Day? Mine was routine because my hubby, bless his soul, was born without a romance gene. He means well, but the whole “one day of shouting out embarrassing professions of love” just isn’t his style. He likes to say, “I show you how much I love you every day…by working.”

He has a point. I used his tractor to haul the garbage cans to the community dumpster so he didn’t have to–that’s love, right? 😉

But we do have our mushy moments and we mouth, “I love you,” way more often than is probably necessary. (We’re old. We forget.)

I hope you had a lovely day of romance, complete with bling, baubles, and bubbly.


I’d planned to share this adorable video in my Valentine’s Day newsletter, but, alas, my VA’s computer died. EEEK! So, here’s my 14-month old granddaughter:

In case you missed it, I’m part of a fun Facebook promotion that runs through the 18th with some of the coolest authors on the planet. Instead of mushy Valentine sayings, we went for direct and honest.

Find a Hero Who Will Give You Whatever You Need: http://bit.ly/ValentinesDayHeroes

My contribution is Arley McNamara, hero in Love, After All.  Still just 99¢ for a few more days.

Have a great weekend of reading! 🙂

Deb

First Kiss=Tuesday from HER ROGUE TO TAME by Debra Salonen #Love, Montana

 

HER  ROGUE TO TAME

Love, Montana, Book II

Roommates with benefits. A temporary arrangement between two people with time on their hands. Who could possibly get hurt?

“Get your Zip On” – That’s Tucker Montgomery‘s slogan for the new zip line he’s building near Marietta, Montana. But before Tucker can get the first pole in the ground, he suffers an injury that could cost him everything, until help arrives in a surprising–but gorgeous–package: Amanda Heller. They’ll share her grandmother’s guesthouse while he supervises the old Victorian’s restoration… all with the added benefit of exploring a sizzling mutual attraction.

Amanda Heller knows her exile to Montana is her family’s excuse to spare them the embarrassing fallout from her very public break-up with her ex-boss’s son that left her jobless and living in her parent’s Manhattan home. But then Amanda strikes a bargain with injured, sexy businessman Tucker Montgomery, who needs a place to stay while recovering. A hot summer fling seems just the thing for Amanda and Tucker, something to enjoy for a month or two tops. Most certainly not long enough to fall in love….

 ~~~~~

         FIRST KISS ©Tule Publishing:

He let out a sigh of relief when saw Justin catch up to Amanda. He could see them arguing but couldn’t hear a word over the rumble of a second cement truck idling in line. The concrete guys all huddled in readiness to shovel the wet cement into the hole and spread it around the four-foot square base as soon as the wet concoction started down the chute.

At the last possible second, Justin snatched the box from Amanda’s hands and dove for the hole. Luckily, the plan called for six inches of cement to go into the hole as a base for the pole that would then be raised in place using winches and pulleys.

Tucker held his breath as he saw Justin check the box then reach into the hole as far as he could. A second later, with the help of two concrete guys, he popped back to his feet.

Justin spun around to give Tucker a thumbs-up gesture at the same moment Amanda kicked him in the shins and stormed off.

Tucker was still laughing when Amanda reached him. “Your friend’s a glory hog. That was my job.”

“He didn’t want you to get dirty.”

“You didn’t trust me to do it right.”

It struck him that he and Justin accidentally had hurt her feelings. Did society girls suffer from wounded pride the way normal people did? “I was afraid you were going to break your neck or get run over by the cement truck.”

She crossed her arms and glared at him. “I’m tougher than I look. You have to be to survive in a family like mine. Next time you ask for my help, forget it.”

He moved closer and did something he knew he’d regret later. He grabbed her firmly by the shoulders, letting his crutches fall. Balancing all his weight on his good leg, he pulled her to him and kissed her. Hard, but not fast. The opposite of fast. He took his time to experience every damn nuance, like how she resisted him for three and a half seconds. And how, when she gave in, her mouth softened and her lips parted to invite him in.

The thought crossed his mind that this was one of those I’ll-remember-this-moment-forever sort of thing. Was it? Would he never forget the first time he kissed Amanda Heller?

Of course not. She was just a pretty girl who kissed like a damn siren luring him to the wicked rocks where he’d crash and burn. There was nothing special about her. Other than her taste, maybe. Honey sweet but with some intangible something all her own.

But even if Amanda was different from all the other girls he’d kissed–and enjoyed–over the years, she most definitely wasn’t a long-term prospect. God, no. Not that he was looking for a forever love–something he knew existed because Ona and Twig had been inseparable right up till the day he died.

But even if Tucker bought into that happily-ever-after fantasy, he had way too much on his plate to get involved with Amanda Heller–even for the short term.

Too bad he had a feeling that decision was completely out of his hands. Her kiss told him she might be up for a little tryst he decided to call: “Roommates with benefits.”

 

 


Purchase at these fine retailers:

 Amazon

iTunes

NOOK

KOBO

Google Play

TULE (print)

  ~~~~

Happy reading, my friends!

Deb

 

First Kiss Tuesday: MONTANA ROGUE by Debra Salonen

First Kiss= TUESDAY

MontanaRogue-LARGE

MONTANA ROGUE – Big Sky Mavericks, Book VI

Roommates with benefits. A temporary arrangement between two people with time on their hands. Who could possibly get hurt?

“Get your Zip On” – That’s Tucker Montgomery‘s slogan for the new zip line he’s building near Marietta, Montana. But before Tucker can get the first pole in the ground, he suffers an injury that could cost him everything, until help arrives in a surprising–but gorgeous–package: Amanda Heller. They’ll share her grandmother’s guesthouse while he supervises the old Victorian’s restoration… all with the added benefit of exploring a sizzling mutual attraction.

Amanda Heller knows her exile to Montana is her family’s excuse to spare them the embarrassing fallout from her very public break-up with her ex-boss’s son that left her jobless and living in her parent’s Manhattan home. But then Amanda strikes a bargain with injured, sexy businessman Tucker Montgomery, who needs a place to stay while recovering. A hot summer fling seems just the thing for Amanda and Tucker, something to enjoy for a month or two tops. Most certainly not long enough to fall in love….

 ~~~~~

         Excerpt: MONTANA ROGUE

 

He let out a sigh of relief when saw Justin catch up to Amanda. He could see them arguing but couldn’t hear a word over the rumble of a second cement truck idling in line. The concrete guys all huddled in readiness to shovel the wet cement into the hole and spread it around the four-foot square base as soon as the wet concoction started down the chute.

At the last possible second, Justin snatched the box from Amanda’s hands and dove for the hole. Luckily, the plan called for six inches of cement to go into the hole as a base for the pole that would then be raised in place using winches and pulleys.

Tucker held his breath as he saw Justin check the box then reach into the hole as far as he could. A second later, with the help of two concrete guys, he popped back to his feet.

Justin spun around to give Tucker a thumbs-up gesture at the same moment Amanda kicked him in the shins and stormed off.

Tucker was still laughing when Amanda reached him. “Your friend’s a glory hog. That was my job.”

“He didn’t want you to get dirty.”

“You didn’t trust me to do it right.”

It struck him that he and Justin accidentally had hurt her feelings. Did society girls suffer from wounded pride the way normal people did? “I was afraid you were going to break your neck or get run over by the cement truck.”

She crossed her arms and glared at him. “I’m tougher than I look. You have to be to survive in a family like mine. Next time you ask for my help, forget it.”

He moved closer and did something he knew he’d regret later. He grabbed her firmly by shoulders, letting his crutches fall. Balancing all his weight on his good leg, he pulled to him and kissed her. Hard, but not fast. The opposite of fast. He took his time to experience every damn nuance, like how she resisted him for three and a half seconds. And how, when she gave in, her mouth softened and her lips parted to invite him in.

The thought crossed his mind that this was one of those I’ll-remember-this-moment-forever sort of thing. Was it? Would he never forget the first time he kissed Amanda Heller?

Of course not. She was just a pretty girl who kissed like a damn siren luring him to the wicked rocks where he’d crash and burn. There was nothing special about her, he told himself. Other than her taste, maybe. Honey sweet but with some intangible something all her own.

But even if Amanda was different from all the others he’d kissed–and enjoyed–over the years, she most definitely wasn’t a long-term prospect. God, no. Not that he was looking for a forever love–something he knew existed because Ona and Twig had been inseparable right up till the day he died.

But even if Tucker bought into that happily-ever-after fantasy, he had way too much on his plate to get involved with Amanda Heller–even for the short term.

Too bad he had a feeling that decision was completely out of his hands. Her kiss told him she might be up for a little tryst he decided to call: “Roommates with benefits.”

1

 


Purchase at these fine retailers:

 Amazon

iTunes

NOOK

KOBO

Google Play

TULE (print)

  ~~~~

Look for MONTANA MIRACLE next month, my friends!

Deb

MontanaCowgirl-LARGEjpg NobodysCowboy-MEDIUM MontanaDarling-LARGEMontanaMaverick-MEDIUMMontanaHero-LARGE

First Kiss Tuesday: MONTANA HERO by Debra Salonen

First Kiss= TUESDAY

MontanaHero-LARGE

MONTANA HERO – Big Sky Mavericks, Book V

 I’m so excited to share my new Big Sky Mavericks’ title: MONTANA HERO. My hero, Flynn Bensen, first appeared in his brother, Ryker’s, book: MONTANA DARLING. I love the Bensen brothers, and it was fun to reconnect with Ryker and Mia in this new book.

Would you like to meet Flynn Bensen and Kat Robinson? I really loved writing these two characters. They feel so genuine to me–both survivors and both heroes to me. You’ll see why.

“Hero? Hell, no. A woman died despite Flynn Bensen’s best efforts to save her from the wild fire that nearly took them both. The last thing he expects from his job as head of Crawford County, Montana’s Search And Rescue is another life and death scenario–this time racing against the clock and a storm to find ten-year-old Brady Robinson. And this time it’s personal, because Brady is the son of Kat Robinson, the woman Flynn loves.”

~~~~~

         Excerpt: MONTANA HERO

 

“How ’bout a cup of tea?”

She nodded. Anything to stall.

He led the way to the kitchen, flicking on lights that illuminated a workshop that must have been a family room at some time in the house’s life. The sparkle and pop of silver, gold and semi-precious stones brought a smile to her face, despite what she knew was coming.

“Bailey’s really talented, isn’t she? I bought a pair of her earrings at the Big Marietta Fair last summer. They were my favorite until I lost one in the laundry.”

Flynn busied himself by filling a kettle with water. “I heard the ladies who work here talking about a replacement they were working on. Bring the one you have to work and I’ll…” He didn’t finish the thought. Instead, he reached overhead for a box of herbal tea choices.

He carried the box and two mugs to the table.

“Are you quitting because of what happened at the school today?”

“Mostly.”

She sat opposite him. She didn’t dare sit too close. Giving up her job was only part of her penance. She’d come to the conclusion that this could have been avoided if she’d been a more attentive mother. Brady somehow picked up on her latent, mostly hidden–even from herself–desire to have a “real” family.

Since that was never going to happen, she owed it to herself and her son to hunker down, regroup and refocus all her energy on Brady.

“Brady thought he was helping me.”

He cocked his head in that thoughtful, questioning way that told her he was listening intently to what she had to say. “That’s not surprising. You’re the center of his universe.”

An observation? Or judgment?

“It might be different with two parents, but even when Greg was in the picture, he was hands-off where Brady was concerned.”

“How come?”

“Honestly, I think he was afraid Brady was smarter than him. Which Brady is. His intelligence is off the charts, but he’s never been able to connect well with people.”

“So, you’ve had to be his advocate, his interpreter.”

A strange flush of pleasure swept through her. “Yes. You could say that. Especially when he was younger.”

The kettle started to whistle. Kat couldn’t stop her gaze from following him. He hadn’t changed out of his jeans and long-sleeve red shirt, but she was certain she’d never seen any man looks sexier in “uniform.”

He carried the kettle using a potholder on the handle and placed another on the table. Thoughtful. Did she know any men who would do that?

Zero.

“Pick your poison,” he said offering the box of individual tea bags to her first.

She grabbed one without looking. What did it matter? She ripped open the package and dunked it in the hot water, watching the reddish hue spread.

What did I pick?

She flattened the crumpled envelope to read: cranberry spice.

Oh.

When she looked up, she found Flynn watching her, a hint of a smile on his lips–as if he knew exactly what she’d done.

He held up his little package. “Mint. Helps settle my stomach after a big meal so I can sleep better.”

“Do you have trouble sleeping?”

His gaze dropped. “I was having nightmares. Post-traumatic stress, probably. The guys wanted me to see a shrink, but then my brother contacted me about this job, and I decided to see if a change of venue would help.”

“Did it?”

“Yes. And no. I’m still not sleeping as soundly as I used to, but no more nightmares.”

They sat in silence a few minutes, just the tick-tock of a clock above the stove keeping track of their wasted time. “I’ve never talked to anyone about my possible connection to the Zabrinski family. I went back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should ever bring it up.” She swallowed hard. “What if I was wrong? What if my mother slept with every guy in town and this is just a big misunderstanding? It could ruin a person’s life.”

He took a sip of tea before answering. “You don’t owe me any explanation, Kat. Especially not if you’re leaving Marietta.”

She rubbed her knucklesd across her forehead. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Looks to me like you’re resigning.”

“Yes. I’m quitting SAR. You deserve someone better. You have a strong moral compass, Flynn. I thought I did, too, but, lately…” She stared into the pink murkiness of her tea. “I should have done something about Ken’s blatant sexism.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. Maybe I got in the habit of advocating for others, like Mom, Brady, and Molly, and somehow lost track of myself.”

A line from an old movie she and Brady watched a couple of nights ago came back to her. “Not once did I ask what’s in it for me,” she quipped with a lightness she didn’t feel.

Flynn’s sudden grin made herme breath catch. She set the mug on the table hard, hoping he didn’t see her hand shake.

“Field of Dreams. I’ve probably seen it a hundred times.”

He leaned forward, bracing his elbows on the table. “Feeling disconnected from your body or your emotions is one of the symptoms of Vicarious Trauma, Katherine. You need to make time for you. Find a few of those missing pieces.” His smile changed. “I say that as your friend, not your boss.”

“I need to kiss you,” she said.

He blinked. “Really? Now?”

“Yes. Would that be okay?”

He tried not to smile; she could tell by the way his lips twitched. Finally, he gave in and grinned. “Oh, all right. Since you’re no longer my employee.”

As excuses go, it worked. She’d used it, too.

She got up and walked to his side of the table. She waited for him to scoot back his chair, leaving ample room for her to sit on his lap. His rock hard thighs supported her weight without question. She indulged in something she’d wanted to do from that first moment they’d sat stood with a box of doughnuts between them;, she ran her hands across his broad, muscular shoulders.

“How much does that pack you’re always carrying around weigh?”

“Eighty pounds, fully stocked. Give or take.”

“Are you always On Call?”

“Not officially, but I feel an obligation to my training. If I had a the chance to help someone and didn’t go because I wasn’t prepared, I’d feel pretty awful.”

She knew that about him without being told. He took his responsibilities seriously. As did she. It might be the thing she loved best…No. Don’t go there. This isn’t about love or any long-term emotion. It’s about grabbing a tiny bit of goodness for myself before all hell breaks loose.

She kept her eyes open so she could memorize his face as she lowered her head. His eyelashes were thick, like Brady’s, but not as curly. His brows were trim and darker than his lashes. She liked the little bits some might consider flaws. She saw them as his unique perfection.

She bumped her nose lightly against his, drawing a smile that warmed the hue of his eyes, which looked more gray when she was sitting across the table from him, but now looked blue. She wetted her lips with the tip of her tongue before tilting her head to touch her lips to his.

After two weeks of mental foreplay, she’d fully expected a zing, but the charge that swept through her entire body took her breath away. Better than good. When she started to pull back, Flynn deepened the kiss.

“Not enough. Not nearly enough,” he murmured with a low growl that released a the surge of yearning Kat had kept carefully banked.

His tongue teased her lips until she opened them for him with a tiny moan that covered her cry for more. His taste held a smoky flavor of beer and garlic. And the hint of mint from his tea. She explored without hesitation…until he pulled back.

Was he ending things or…

“Are we doing this?”

Of course, he would ask. Flynn wasn’t the type to assume anything.

“Yes. Please. Just one night. That’s all I’m asking for.”

He lowered his forehead to touch hers.

“I can’t promise that, but I’m willing to try.”

Then he stood up, as if she were as light as his pack, and he carried her to his room. What girl doesn’t dream of this from her Cinderella days, Kat thought, resting her head against his shoulder?

She’d take the dream for as long as it lasted.


Purchase at these fine retailers:

 Amazon

iTunes

KOBO

Google Play

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble is coming…soon, I hope! Look for a newsletter announcing Nook availability as soon as possible.

 ~~~~

Happy reading, my friends!  Deb

MontanaCowgirl-LARGEjpg NobodysCowboy-MEDIUM MontanaDarling-LARGEMontanaMaverick-MEDIUM

Cover Reveal & Excerpt: MONTANA HERO by Debra Salonen

MontanaHero-LARGE

MONTANA HERO – Big Sky Mavericks, Book V

I’m so excited to share my new release, which is presently available for Pre-Order at all of these great venues:

Amazon

iTunes

KOBO

Google Play

Amazon UK

This is my first Pre-Order. Talk about easy! Hit the buy link and you’ll have it automatically shipped to your e-reader the moment it “drops” on AUG. 13th –and, if it comes out at a cheaper price, that’s the price you’ll pay. Talk about Win-Win!

Would you like to meet Flynn Bensen and Kat Robinson? I really loved writing these two characters. They feel so genuine to me–both survivors and both heroes to me. You’ll see why.

~~~~~

Excerpt: MONTANA HERO

 

Mid-March, Marietta, Montana

“Fake it till you make it,” Flynn Bensen muttered under his breath as he marched the short distance from his designated parking spot to the front door of the Crawford County Search and Rescue Headquarters. “Here goes nothing.”

Or everything.

The nondescript prefab building sat a stone’s throw from the Sheriff’s Department, which possessed more gravitas given its brick facade. In the four weeks since arriving in Marietta, Montana, Flynn had spent the bulk of his time in training, meetings, and an inconveniently timed regional workshop in Missoula preparing to take over the job of Commander of Crawford County SAR, a division of the Sheriff’s Department. With three permanent employees, six on-call EMTs, and a volunteer staff of over a hundred during the high season, Flynn would have his hands full.

As he did now. Literally.

He’d bought the biggest box of doughnuts the local bakery had. Bear claws and apple fritters to maple bars and jelly-filled doughnuts. Sugar on steroids. The smell made his saliva glands kick into overdrive.

He dashed up the three-step rise and, balancing the box on the palm of his left hand, grabbed the lever-type handle to twist and pull.

It twisted but didn’t give as he expected. The cold of the metal burned his palm and he let go, cursing under his breath. Gloves. He’d left them in the truck. The cold never felt quite this bitter in Tennessee.

“You’re not in Tennessee any more, buddy boy,” he pictured his brother, Ryker, saying. “But, spring is coming. I promise.”

He glanced around at the piles of gritty-looking snow outlining the parking lot. He’d seen a few hardy—or foolish—sprouts of green on the sunny side of a few homes, but in the month since his move from the Great Smoky Mountains, which had been his home for nearly ten years, he’d felt winter’s arctic blast more than once.

The weather was the least of Flynn’s worries at the moment. It would play a huge role in his job, he’d been told. But, his chief goal today was to meet and greet his staff. Something he couldn’t do if he couldn’t get inside.

He noticed a warm yellow light spilling from the two curtained windows bracketing the door. Someone was inside.

He used the corner of the bakery box to push back the cuff of his heavy jacket to check his watch. Seven. The exact time he’d asked everyone to meet him here.

Managing personnel. That was what kept him awake at night lately. He’d been an employee of the National Park Service for most of his adult life. He’d moved up the grades by way of good reviews, not from a burning ambition to call the shots. He’d learned at a young age from his very successful father that work defined a man. Good or bad. His father’s credo had been, “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to the best of your ability.”

That early teaching might explain why Flynn’s younger brother, Ryker, was a world-class photographer, but it didn’t address the reason for Flynn’s reluctance to move into a managerial position…until now. At thirty-two…soon to be thirty-three.

He reached for his keys, which he’d clipped to a belt loop—a practice he’d gotten into after leaving them in his truck once too often. Unhooking the clip one-handed stretched his balancing abilities but he finally had the cluster of keys in hand. He located the one he thought fit the front door of the building.

He’d just inserted the key in the lock when the door suddenly burst outward, making Flynn step back. The heel of his boot hit the metal threshold between the ramp and the porch. The big box wobbled as he reached out to keep from cartwheeling backward.

“Oh, shit,” a woman’s voice said.

No shit, he silently seconded. He didn’t recognize the voice or the woman in the doorway but his first impression hit hard and fast. Pretty. Amused.

“Save the doughnuts,” he barked, juggling the box in her direction.

“Oh, hell, no.”

She reached out and grabbed his right forearm and held on with a strength that surprised him, since she was half his size. The box tipped and fell, but given the short distance between them, it only dropped as far as Flynn’s waist before his rescuer pulled him to safety.

The box lodged vertically between them. His left arm automatically wrapped behind her back. His right clasped between her hands. The top of her head, which reached just about to Flynn’s chin, was pointed down.

“Wow. Good catch. You brought doughnuts?”

She let go of his arm to take hold of the box before looking up.

Green eyes.

Oh, I am so screwed.

Laughing green eyes. Intelligent, too. Full of piss and vinegar as his mother might say. The kind of eyes that had proven to be Flynn’s downfall more than once in the past—especially the recent past.

“Yes. From the bakery.”

“Cool.” She stepped back and spun around, box in hand. “Guys, he brought doughnuts. Ken never did that.”

Flynn figured out her name by process of elimination. She wasn’t old enough to be Janet, the main dispatcher, and the third woman designated for that task couldn’t make the meeting because her child was sick. She’d called at five to tell him.

That left Katherine Robinson. “She goes by Kat,” the County Personnel Director told him. “Single mom. Moved here from Texas. Started as a relief dispatcher. Got a permanent spot when Margie Crain retired at the first of the year. She’s good. Only thing keeping her from applying for your job was her son. She didn’t want to take time away from him.”

Flynn hadn’t asked for details. He believed in letting people tell their own stories. And he had a feeling Katherine Robinson’s story would be one he’d enjoy hearing.

He stomped the slush from his boots, re-clipped the keys to his belt loop, and then stepped inside.

“Good morning,” he said, unzipping his jacket. He’d dressed to impress—khaki cargo pants and long-sleeve red T-shirt with the SAR logo on the chest pocket. The color combo of SAR’s official uniform, he’d been told.

He glanced around. Not a single other red shirt among them.

“Thank you all for coming in early. I’d hoped to connect with each of you before this, but the Sheriff had other plans for me.” He kept his tone light with just a hint of irony. He knew how the system worked, as did these seasoned veterans, he was certain. “But you’ll be happy to know we are now the proud owners of the complete 2015 Emergency Response Handbook and FEMA’s Emergency Response to Terrorism, volumes I and II, if you need a little light reading.”

“Welcome to our world,” a tall, skinny guy with a shaved head and trim goatee said. Dressed in a standard issue navy blue paramedic jumpsuit, the fellow took a giant bite of a powdered sugar doughnut he’d plucked from the box Kat Robinson passed around. Residual white granules snowed across his broad chest.

After shoving the final bit into his wide mouth, he advanced toward Flynn, dusting sugar from his hands. “Brad Johnson. EMT.”

The other five paramedics, one in uniform and four in street clothes, followed suit. Four men, two women.

Flynn had read the performance reviews of every member of his team. It had become clear within a few pages that his predecessor had obvious favorites. Katherine Robinson was not one of them. Flynn wondered why.

After shucking his coat and hanging it up on a designated hook, Flynn shook hands with each of them. He tried to fit a face to the names he’d studied last night. Brad, Jeff, Kermit, Mike, Brenda, and Kerry. The ambulance service was contracted with the County Sheriff’s Department and didn’t fall under Flynn’s control, per se, but since the two teams worked closely together and space in the jail was at a premium, the EMT crew used a section of the SAR building for their base of operations, too.

“I look forward to getting to know each of you. If you have any ideas for making SAR run more smoothly, I’d love to hear them.”

“Just let us do our jobs,” Kat Robinson piped up from a spot behind the dispatch desk.

“That’s the whole point, isn’t it?” Flynn asked.

He felt the tension in the room as he walked to the coffee station that had been set up at the back of the room. Instead of grabbing a cup, he turned and looked at the group. “Let’s clear the air.”

He took a breath and let it out. “I’ve read the reports. I have a general idea what went down with the previous administration. I’m not a bureaucrat by nature. I’ve been on fire lines long enough to know that you don’t make it back if you’re not all playing on the same team.”

His last close call hit that tripwire of memory. A “flashback,” the shrinks called it. He used willpower to keep the images at bay. “I’m hoping we can be a team that puts our rescue calls first, but each other a close second.”

The silence made him wonder what he’d just stepped in? Piles of old loyalty? Land mines left by the previous toxic administration?

Kat Robinson came to his rescue. She stood and clapped. “Call me an optimist, but I have a good feeling about you.” She looked at the others. “How bad can he be? We already had the worst.”

The cold, flat tone of her voice told him there was no love loss where Kenneth Morrison was concerned, but he watched the face of the other dispatcher for her reaction. The senior woman wore a nearly unreadable mask. She reminded Flynn of his mother, who over the years had perfected her “iceberg” look, as Ryker called it. “All you ever see with Mom is the tip of the iceberg. It’s what’s underneath her smile that crushes your soul when it hits.”

The woman—Janet Haynes, Flynn believed—was fifty-seven. On the tall side…five-foot-eight, maybe. Not extremely overweight, but most of the extra pounds had settled in her backside. Her voice carried when she said, “Kenny did his best. And he’s not here to defend himself.”

Her eyes narrowed in an unattractive squint as she turned to face Flynn. “We had a team. We did good work. One mistake and you go down in flames. That’s what living and working in a small town, with small-minded people, will get you. I have two years left for my thirty, then I’m outa here. Just so you know.”

Got it, Flynn thought. Don’t expect to find you on my team either of those years.

The others? Time would tell. Associations, favorites, who-was-screwing-whom would shake out and reveal itself soon enough. In the meantime, he had an agenda of his own to put in place.

He walked to his office, a small cubicle near the restrooms. He might have thought it was a janitorial closet if not for the filing cabinets and Internet connection. The only window faced the interior, so he could keep an eye on his underlings, apparently.

He’d printed out a welcome letter-slash-questionnaire last night. “Utterly cheesy,” Ryker called it.

“Smart and heartfelt,” Mia, Ryker’s fiancée, had countered saucily.

As he passed a copy to each person, he said, “You’ll see a couple of team-building exercises listed here, including a zip line adventure a buddy of mine is setting up. The initial course will be open in mid- to late-May, depending on the weather, with the full course completed in time for summer tourists.”

“Do you plan to invite the volunteers, too?” Kermit asked.

“To each of the training exercises? Yes. To the team-building excursions? No.”

The two female EMTs had their heads together talking in muffled voices. Flynn couldn’t get a sense from their body language if they were pleased or pissed.

“Look,” he said, “I’m coming into a very well-oiled machine. I get that. I’m not planning to make major changes to your established protocol any time soon. I want to use the next couple of months to observe and get a feel for how you operate. I’ll probably respond to every call. Don’t freak out. I won’t be doing formal evaluations. I merely need to see how we react to 911 calls and what I…we…can do to improve our recovery success rate.”

He carried his thermal mug to the coffee urn at the back of the room. He didn’t have any diehard ideology he felt compelled to press upon them. But his last boss had taught him a few things about being a manager, and now was Flynn’s time to try implementing them.

“You’ll see I included my schedule this week. I will do my best to be available if anyone wants to talk. But to break the ice, I’d appreciate it if you’d each return your questionnaire for a quick one-on-one chat. Consider it your chance to tell me what you think works best about this unit’s present protocols and what you think needs changing.”

He made a sweeping gesture. “I left a job that I loved to move nearly two thousand miles away to take a job that pays less and is completely outside my comfort zone, so obviously change doesn’t scare me. Feel free to make a list.”

Everyone nodded, except Kat Robinson, who was already scribbling like mad. Somebody knows exactly what needs changing and she isn’t afraid to say so, he thought, forcing his eyes to look away from her pretty auburn head bowed so intently over her work, like a student taking the SATs.

Flynn’s gut told him he was going to like her—even if his mind cried, “No way, buddy boy. You know what happened the last time you fell for someone you worked with.”

Darla happened.

His ex-wife, who was happily remarried and living in the house Flynn bought with his first inheritance. He’d let her pick the “house of her dreams’ thinking they’d be living in it together. Wrong. Schmuck that he was, he didn’t see the writing on the newly painted walls until she broke the news she’d never really gotten over her first love, who was newly single and well…sorry, Flynn.

He wasn’t going down that road again. Ever. Ryker had encouraged him to start looking for a house sooner rather than later. “Things don’t stay on the market for long around here, Flynn. Even if you decide to rent instead of buy, you need to get out there and look.”

They both knew Flynn’s temporary living quarters in the back of Bailey Jenkins-Zabrinski’s jewelry shop were just that—temporary. Ryker, too, had made use of the cozy rooms for a few months when he first moved to Marietta. Now, Ryker and Mia were building a new home on the lot he and Flynn had inherited from their father. With the money Ryker paid for Flynn’s share, Flynn decided he could be picky and find exactly the right spot that called to him. No bride with a hidden agenda would take half of it in the divorce. Because if Flynn ever fell in love again—a very big if—he planned to think with his head, not his libido.

END OF EXCERPT


 

Happy reading, my friends. Oh, and if you’re not signed up for my NEWSLETTER, which will be out on August 13 — same day as this release — please do. Here’s the prize one winner will receive: a fab Tule Book Girls tote, an autographed print copy of the story that started the Big Sky Mavericks series and two limited edition bookmarks.

Will that winner be YOU?

Aug newsletter prize small

Happy reading, my friends!

 

Meet the Characters Blog Tag: RYKER BENSEN from NOBODY’S DARLING

I was invited by my pal and fellow Tule Publishing author, Eve Gaddy, to participate in a blog tag.

What’s a blog tag?

Good question. I had no idea.

Here’s what Eve said, “I blog on Nov. 6. I’ll take 4 other authors and include their bios and latest releases, then on Nov. 13,  you post your blog.” (Here’s Eve’s blog: Meet Della Rose.)

Well, that sounds simple enough. And interesting! So, here’s my Meet The Character blog:

Let me introduce you to Ryker Bensen, hero in my newly completed Big Sky Mavericks novel.

1.) What is the name of your character? RYKER BENSEN

My working image for Ryker. Appropriately scruffy, I think.
My working image for Ryker. Appropriately scruffy, I think.

 

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person? FICTIONAL

 

3.) When and where is the story set? Marietta, Montana, autumn

One of author Megan Crane's fabulous shots.
One of author Megan Crane’s fabulous shots.

4.) What should we know about him/her? He’s 29 years, 11 months, and fifteen days old when we meet him. This is important because he’s a “Trust Fund Baby.” He was born with a slightly tarnished silver spoon in his mouth. Tarnished because his father’s old money got tied up in a trust after he passed away when Ryker was a senior in high school. Ryker and his older brother, Flynn, adored their father and had mixed feeling about their cold, self-absorbed mother. When Mom remarried shortly after Dad’s death, Ryker was angry, hurt and confused. The rules his new stepfather installed across the board seemed punitive and demeaning to his father’s memory. Ryker rebelled. But he was smart enough and gifted enough–he’s a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer–to graduate early and strike out on his own. He never looked back…until tragedy derailed his merrily-along plans, and he winds up in a tent on the land he and his brother will claim ownership of when he turns thirty. Maybe. Unless Mia Zabrinski can prove she’s the rightful owner.

5.) What is the main conflict? Ryker has lost his way. Watching the person you love die in your arms can screw with your head. Some of the things you thought were important don’t seem to matter any more. He was smart enough to know he needed time away from the mainstream world to figure out a few things–like why did the people he loved most leave him? The respite has helped and he’s finally ready to rejoin the world–the photographs he took of a recent Montana cattle drive are just waiting for Ryker to send to his agent. But his plans hit the fan when Mia Zabrinski, a spit-fire who is soooo done with men taking things from her–shows up and demands he get off her land. Mia is in the process of reclaiming her life. The last thing she needs is a drop dead gorgeous younger man messing her “mones” — hormones, pheramones, moans mones. A relationship? No. So not happening. Until it does.

What messes up his/her life? His stepfather has finally gone beyond the pale. He’s depleted Ryker’s trust and sold the land to Mia and her ex-husband, illegally. Ryker has to fight for his life–the one he never truly appreciated. This means confronting his mother and the past. The problem with dueling with ghosts is they’re mirror images of the people you thought you knew and loved. And looking at the past through a new lens can change everything.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character? Ryker needs a reason–a purpose–to rejoin society. Mia’s challenge to his ownership of the only spot on earth he can connect to his father pulls into action, but it’s Mia herself who is the real challenge. One Ryker can’t resist.

Ryker quote Nobodys Darling

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

NOBODY’S DARLING – Her land. His tent. And this is Montana, where property disputes can lead to a range war…or hot sex.

Here’s my rough blurb:

Mia Zabrinski’s lost enough–

Her marriage. Her job. Her health. Mia beat cancer and is ready to rebuild her life in her hometown to Marietta, Montana. Literally. As in, she plans to build a house on the ten-acre parcel she was awarded in her divorce settlement. And she’s damned if she’ll let some stranger who has been camping on her land claim squatter’s rights. So, maybe, he’s not a squatter. The high-end bike and camera hint at more. Plus, he’s hot, gorgeous and smart, but that doesn’t make him less of a threat–especially when he has the audacity to claim the land is his. Look out, darlin’, Nitro is back and prepared to prove what the other Big Sky Mavericks always knew: small packages can pack a big punch.

Ryker Bensen doesn’t have much–

And that suits him fine. Less than a year ago, he had everything: a beautiful girlfriend, a baby on the way, a career that earned him fame and a very comfortable living…until he didn’t. Grief sent him to ground, and his favorite ground growing up was a ten-acre patch along side the Marietta River where his father brought Ryker and his brother every summer. Land held in a trust for the Bensen brothers until Ryker’s thirtieth birthday, which is still a few weeks away. When a beautiful spitfire named Mia Zabrinski shows up and orders him off her land, Ryker realizes she might be the spark he needed to jumpstart his interest in living again.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

NOBODY’S DARLING will be released on January 9, 2015.

Deb