Part Five: Absentminded Angel Out-takes (Finale)

Out-takes Part Five

Winter trees in mountains covered with fresh snow


Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 🙂 My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.

This scene was cut from the midst of the scene where she purchases the sewing machine in San Antonio. You may remember that at Kendry and Jared’s urging, she took Jared’s phone with her for the trip, since hers wasn’t functioning. In the original version, she’d lost the phone while working in Marvin’s cluttered office. This is also her first conversation with their cousin Felicia, who was a trip. Writing her dialogue was like a day in my life when I had toddlers at home. Herding cats would’ve been easier. 🙂 


Presley Ann and Whit returned to the front of the shop and she was sitting in the waiting area looking at a magazine when the melody from “Crazy” starting playing in her purse. She wouldn’t have taken Jared for a Patsy Cline fan but to each his own. Concerned that the call might be from Kendry, she answered it.


“Who is this?” a female voice asked with a sharp tone.

“You’ve reached Jared McCulloch’s phone.”

“You didn’t answer my question. Tell me who this is.” Maybe the ringtone had been an indicator of something else.

Debating the wisdom of answering Jared’s phone after all, and peeved at the woman’s snippy tone, she replied, “This is Presley Ann Woodworth. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“Are you that pregnant chippie? You’d better not be taking my boys for a ride,” the woman said challengingly.

“Excuse me? I—”

The woman started fussing in the background and Presley Ann grew more confused as she listened. “Stop hitting your brother! If you don’t quit that crying I’m going to give you something to cry about. No, do not put Spaghetti-Os in your sister’s hair. I’m about to go Crazy Mama on the bunch of you if you don’t stop your whining and finish your lunch. Ashley, go wash your hands, please. Now, where was I?” she said, speaking directly into the phone with what sounded like a multitude of little voices in the background. “Jared and Kendry are my honeys and you’d better not be taking them for a ride.”

Presley Ann shook her head, trying to not get riled up by the challenging tone. “Last time I checked, Jared and Kendry were grown men. I already know their mom is deceased so you can save the protective mommy routine. Not that it’s any of your business, but I am friends with them, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to take anyone for a ride. Now who in the hell is this?” Her ears throbbed a little as she waited through the long pause on the phone.

A female chuckle finally came on the line over the hubbub in the background. “They told me I’d like you but they forgot to mention how prissy you sound when you get riled. My name is Felicia and I’m married to their cousin, Marty.”

Felicia! Oh crap! “I’m so sorry—” She remembered Kendry referring to Felicia as Dommy Mommy.

Felicia cut her off as she laughed out loud. “Ah, no backtracking now, missy. Are either of them around?”

“I—uh—I—” The mother to twelve children. Presley Ann had hoped if she ever met this iconic woman that she’d make a better impression and all she could do was stutter.

“Now you sound like one of my kids when they are in trouble. I must’ve laid the bitchy on a little too thick. Let me guess, you thought I was an ex-girlfriend and you were regretting answering the phone.”

Presley Ann giggled and took a deep breath. “Yeah, pretty much. They’ve told me a little bit about you.”

“Unfortunately, it’s probably all true. Hang on. Garth, you either eat what I put in front of you or you go hungry until suppertime. Your choice, mister. Sorry. So, is Jared around?”

“No, but they are both on duty right now so if you call Kendry’s phone you should be able to reach him. I lost my phone right before a road trip and Jared insisted I take his phone with me.”

“Okay. He showed me a picture of you with your little cutie pie.”


“Yeah, you’re very pretty and your boy is gorgeous. If you look in his pictures on his phone, you’ll find pics of me and Marty with the brats. Listen, Presley Ann…”

Presley Ann waited, sensing that Felicia was choosing her words even though she didn’t strike her as the type to pull any punches, ever.

“He likes you. Actually, I think they both do. I don’t know what’s up with that. They told me Divine is a different kind of place to live and I guess I’m just hoping it’s not different, like, making the Nightly World News kind of different. Please don’t hurt him or Kendry. If you’re not really interested in them don’t string them along. I don’t know if you’re the reason they moved or not but I just want you to know they are good guys and they don’t deserve to get their hearts broken. Kendry just got back on his feet after being so sick, and Jared…Let’s just say he’s had enough bad luck with women.”

“Felicia, I don’t know what to say.”

Felicia hushed a crying baby and then said, “It’s not me you need to say anything to, Presley Ann. It’s them. I’m just a protective family member who wants to see them happy, whether it’s there in Divine, or back here in Abilene. It was great talking to you but I’ve got to get three little ones down for a nap so I can start prepping for supper.”

Presley Ann looked at the phone after the call ended, her head filled with all kinds of thoughts. She had a hard time getting one little baby down for a nap and this woman handled them three at a time? Supper prep started after lunch when feeding fourteen people? Parents still said “if you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about”? And Felicia was concerned enough about her husband’s cousins to call and check on them and quiz her. Her mind was like a pea in a whistle and she got curious when she remembered Felicia saying there were pictures of her and her family on his phone. Curiosity consumed her and she tapped the screen on his phone and pulled up his pictures.

“Aw,” she murmured softly while stroking Whit’s sleeping head. The picture on screen was one she remembered him taking just a couple of days before, of her and Whit at the firehouse, when she’d joined them for lunch at the picnic table located in the shady lawn area behind the firehouse. There were several other pictures of the two of them and then she came across a picture of a couple with children chaotically massed all around them, one baby crying, a couple of younger kids in mid-argument, and the rest in various stages of ready-to-stop-smiling-for-the-camera. The mom and dad looked harried but happy, and it was cool to be able to put a face with the name.

“Ms. Woodworth, here we go,” the owner of the embroidery shop said as a male employee followed her out into the waiting area with the machine packed away in its box and loaded on a dolly.


This section is from the same chapter, just a little later on, picking up at the moment where Presley Ann is accidentally run off of the increasingly icy road by a ranch truck hauling a trailer. It’s raining, she is off in the muddy ditch, the temperature is dropping, and she has a squalling infant on her hands. Oh, and it’s dark. What else could possibly go wrong?



The driver never stopped and Presley Ann’s pulse was like a drum in her ears as she watched the taillights fade into the growing dark. The next thing she was aware of was Whit crying. She unbuckled and turned to kneel over the driver’s seat so she could see him. He quieted when her face came into view and she patted and soothed him until the tears and wailing stopped. “Poor baby. Did that big ranch truck scare you? He scared me, too.” He pooched out his lip and let loose a final wail and then started sucking his fist, a sure sign he’d want to nurse soon.

Turning to sit back in her seat, she looked out the window at the rain, wondering how badly her car was damaged. Bundling up, she pulled out her umbrella and climbed out to inspect the damage and her flats slid a little under her as she walked in the slushy mud. The bumper had a dent in it but that was all she could see. The temperature definitely felt like it’d dropped since she’d left San Antonio and she shivered as the cold mist blew in her face.

A vehicle was approaching and realized she hadn’t turned on her hazard lights. As she opened the door, the older minivan hit a puddle on the road, spraying her with icy water and mud as it flew past her without slowing.

Now she was not only cold, she was also wet, and filthy. Barely holding back a juicy curse, she looked down at her clothes and the interior of her car, which were both a mud-spattered mess.

“Son of a biscuit-eater! It’s even in my mouth!”

She spit a few times and her stomach churned at the grit and taste of mud in her mouth. Whit whimpered as she reached in the car and stroked his cheek and then grabbed a handful of tissues from the front seat and wiped her face and the front of her ruined coat and then quickly wiped the mud spatters from the cloth upholstery.

The rain fell a little harder as she surveyed the vehicle and the mud her tires had sunk into made her stomach fall. Her car was still running but the door was open, letting out all the heat.

Chilling wetness soaked between her toes as the mud seeped inside her flats. On her budget she hadn’t been able to afford boots and she hadn’t dressed to be outdoors in weather like this.

Climbing back inside, she adjusted the heat, buckled up and put the car in gear. Offering up a prayer she slowly accelerated, heard the wheels turning, but the car didn’t move.


Shifting into reverse, she tried backing out of the mess and had similar results. Not wanting to dig herself in any deeper, she groaned as she took out Jared’s phone.


That’s it for out-takes from Presley Ann’s story, Absentminded Angel. I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes process. A book can go through multiple changes prior to being released, and almost none of the out-takes ever see the light of day. I knew I’d never recycle these into another story, because they were written for very specific characters, but I hated to just leave them to languish in a folder.

For information about the series, and to find out what I’m currently working on, please visit the Works in Progress page on my website. I also make frequent updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand


Part Four: Absentminded Angel Out-takes, Chapter Four


me-hr-dcr-absentmindedangel-fullOut-takes Part Four

Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 🙂 My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.


This scene picks up about three weeks after Presley Ann had given birth to Whit. Kendry is helping out at Marvin’s Computer shop, where all the old-timers like to congregate in the morning, solving the world’s problems while they drink coffee. This was another one of those scenes I hated to cut. It features check-ins with familiar old-timers in town. Readers also get a little glimpse of Uncle Marvin’s sweet little crush, Miss Petunia Dawson.

This installment also includes the original migraine confrontation scene between Kendry and Presley Ann. Some of it may seem familiar, although the released version takes place in her apartment instead of Marvin’s office, but read through to get to the following scene, which got cut from the released version but explains how Kendry wound up over at the fire station while she was at her doctor’s appointment and Violet’s Emporium. I liked that scene because of the mention of their cousin Felicia (mother of twelve children). She was quite a character, as readers will see in the next installment, but it didn’t justify a whole scene.


Kendry sat on the barstool behind the customer service counter at Marvin’s Computer Repair, tinkering with an old computer. Woody Porter came over to the pot and poured the last cup of coffee in his chipped mug before pulling out the ground coffee and a fresh filter from the supplies beside the old Mr. Coffee. Marvin’s friends didn’t seem to be fazed by Marvin’s absence that morning as they shot the shit while sitting in the chairs around his waiting area out front.

“We’ll have more going in just a minute, gentlemen,” the venerable Justice of the Peace said as he lowered himself back into his chair by the window.

Having something else to focus on set his mind at ease, as he tested the computer’s power supply with Marvin’s multi-meter. Listening to the men talking helped, at least that’s what he kept telling himself, but he kept catching the hint of sound from upstairs. Being in the building with her made him feel a little better but it also put temptation so close he could almost feel her silky skin against his lips.

There it was again. That sound.

The coffee pot gurgled as it did its thing, filling the carafe with coffee so stout one cup had hit him like a shot of espresso, not that he was given to drinking that much of the stuff. The men’s conversation hummed in the background as they set about solving the world’s problems while he killed time.

They’d been in town for three weeks and he hadn’t seen Presley Ann even once. He and Jared had agreed to not press her too much because she had her hands full with Whit. Kendry grinned, just thinking about the baby’s name, which suited the infant perfectly. Maybe it was the impending holidays that made him sentimental but he missed her. Whit wasn’t his biological son, he even missed the baby. The memory of the fire in her eyes that day in the hospital made him smile.

He’d just dropped off groceries at the station earlier that morning, a favor for one of the firefighters who was trying to put together a Thanksgiving meal for the firefighters who would be on duty during Thanksgiving, when he’d seen Marvin across the street. He’d been leaning up against his truck, coughing.

Concerned about the old-timer that had become his and Jared’s friend, Kendry crossed the street to check on him. It didn’t take much for a cough like that to turn into pneumonia and Kendry knew him well enough to know that he’d ignore the symptoms until it was serious.

“Marvin, you need help with anything?” he’d called out so that he didn’t startle him.

Marvin grinned and shook his head. “Nah, just allergies and a little congestion this morning. When the temps swing back and forth like they do this time of year, this is what happens.” Kendry had seen the way he labored a little to catch his breath and had made a decision. He was off that day and he’d offered to watch the shop for him. Marvin had needed a little convincing but he’d finally said, “You know, I was coming in today mainly just because the other fellas will be by for coffee. It’s likely you wouldn’t see anyone besides them. I could do with a little nap and a hot toddy. You sure you don’t mind?”

“No. I’ll come check on you later today. I don’t like that cough.”

Marvin had nodded and handed him the keys to the shop and told him to make himself at home. Now here Kendry sat. Jared had grinned when he’d gone back across the street to let him know where he’d be during the day. Jared was supposed to be bringing him lunch from the firehouse kitchen before long.

There was that sound again. He strained his ears, trying to catch it again. A couple of times he’d thought he’d heard Whit crying but the spells had been brief. Sometimes he heard her soft steps overhead. His senses were on alert and his worry increased. It had sounded like she was crying.


He blinked and looked up to find Woody standing there with the coffee pot in his hand. “I’m sorry, I was distracted. What?”

“Want more coffee?” Woody asked with a grin and twinkling eyes which he shifted up to the ceiling before looking at him again. “You’re distracted, boy, aren’t you?”

Kendry chuckled. “Maybe a little.”

From the corner, Joe Warner said, “Bet he’s got his mind on a pretty little blonde. He’s awful distracted and keeps alternatin’ between looking at the ceiling and starin’ off into space.” The gray-haired man, who he’d discovered was Jack Warner’s dad, chuckled and lifted his old coffee mug as if in toast to Kendry.

Kendry laughed with them good-naturedly and quietly said, “Just wonder how she’s doing, that’s all. New babies can be demanding.”

George Owen pulled a paper towel from the roll by the coffee maker and wiped out his mug before setting it upside down on the nearby towel and said, “That is the truth. I remember when out youngest girl was an infant and had colic. Maizy could scream so loud I swear it rattled the neighbors windows. Nearly drove poor Amelia and me to drinking.”

Joe scoffed and said, “Couldn’t have been as loud as Jack. To this day I’m a little deaf in my right ear from walking that kid for hours on end with colic.”

The old timers all nodded wisely but Kendry’s worry ratcheted a notch tighter. Was it possible Whit was keeping Presley Ann up all night with colic?” His resolve to not bother her weakened a tiny bit more.

George turned to the group and said, “Well, gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure. Got to get to the house and see what the missus is up to.”

Joe slapped his friend’s back as he came over and wiped out his mug. “Probably planning another trip for the two of you.”

George grinned and nodded. “Maybe so. She was talking about going to Atlantic City this time.”

The men teased him about being a jetsetter since retiring and he took it goodnaturedly as the rest of them rose from their chairs. During a lull, Kendry heard the sound from upstairs again. Kendry decided that he’d check on her the second they were all gone. He’d hear the front door bell if anyone came in the shop while he was upstairs. He couldn’t stand it anymore.

Joe patted the counter and said, “Kendry, thanks for covering for Marvin. Let him know we we’re thinking about him.”

“Will do. I’m sure he’ll be back tomorrow.”

He breathed a sigh of relief and then groaned miserably as Joe held the door for a little elderly woman who walked up as the last of them exited. In her frail arms she carried a venerable old Smith Corona electric typewriter.

Her eyes widened as she looked at Kendry and then cast her gaze around the room and the space behind the customer service counter. “Is Marvin around?”

“No ma’am. He’s a little under the weather today.”

Her shoulders drooped a little as she said, “Oh. I was hoping he’d be in. I’m having trouble with this, and…”

“I could take a look at it for you,” he said as he came around the counter and carefully took the weighty machine from her and put it on the counter.

“I hope I’m not taking you away from your work, young man,” she said, pointing at the disassembled computer on the counter. “All of these newfangled machines are a mystery to me.”

Kendry grinned as he lifted the cover on the 70s-era typewriter. The computer he had been working on was probably brand new in 1980. “You’re not taking me away from anything, ma’am. Can you tell me what’s happening with your typewriter?”

His heart lurched as he heard the sound again from upstairs and he prayed the solution was a simple one as she pointed at one of the keys and demonstrated the problem to him.

“Is Marvin going to be all right?” the little lady, who had to be close to Marvin in age, asked as Kendry went back around the counter and pulled a couple of tools from the organizer under the desk top.

“I think so. Just needed a little rest.”

“When I talked to him on the phone about this old machine he told me I could come anytime I wanted and he’d be more than happy to take a look at it. Figures I’d miss him. Maybe I’ll have to make him some homemade chicken soup.”

The look on her face was sweet and hopeful and he smiled at her and said, “He might like that, ma’am.”

“I’ll just call him at home and check to make sure. Are you related to him? He’d never mentioned children or grandchildren to me before.”

“No ma’am. I’m just a friend. I work across the street.”

Her eyes rounded and her eyebrows rose. “Oh, are you a fire fighter?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, thank you for doing that. Can you see what’s wrong with it?”

He couldn’t help but smile as he pointed with the tiny screw driver at the problem. She asked him his name and where he’d come from. She was cute and if he wasn’t mistaken, she had a crush on Marvin. He had to wonder if maybe the feeling wasn’t mutual. Marvin had told him he’d been a bachelor all his life but had indicated he knew a little lady whose company he enjoyed very much. Maybe this was her.

He heard the downward thump of footsteps on the staircase as the woman asked him questions. Moments later he heard the sound of footsteps ascending again, and then coming back down. Her car was parked around out back and his heart fell as the sweet old lady kept talking. The door between the front of the shop and the hallway that led to the back was closed and Presley Ann would probably leave before he could even say hello.

“Can you fix it, Kendry?” she asked as she leaned in to look at the broken part.

He heard the final thump of the back door and his heart fell. “Yes ma’am. It won’t take but just a few minutes.” He waited for the sound of her car pulling around the gravel on the side of the building. Damn.

“Oh, then I can wait?”

Might as well. “Sure. I saw a model just like this one in his office when I was in there earlier. I’ll just take it apart and swap out the broken piece. Help yourself to coffee if you’d like. Mr. Porter just made it, but I’ll warn you, it’s strong.”

Petunia Dawson smiled at him and reached for a cup as she said, “I don’t mind if I do. My now deceased husband, Harold, made his coffee strong, too.”

Kendry disassembled the necessary components of the typewriter, lamenting that they didn’t make devices that were that easy to service anymore. “I’ll be in the back for a minute, Mrs. Dawson.”

“Take your time, sweetheart,” she as she browsed through Marvin’s collection of magazines on the coffee table.

Relief hit him as he heard the sound of the baby crying through the door as he approached it, and the full volume hit him as he opened it. Whit wasn’t just crying, he was screaming.

“Honey,” she whispered soothingly and he followed the sweet cooing sounds to the office, where she was bent over a portable bassinet. She was dressed in a gauzy red flowing skirt and a soft V-neck top and standing in profile, he got a glimpse of her full bust and curvy bottom and hips.

What a goddess. 

His cock stirred and the sweet sounds she made to Whit only made it worse. “Honey, Mommy has to get some work done or Uncle Marvin is going to think I’ve forgotten him. I wonder where he is today—” She turned and let out a scream and Whit began to wail again. The sound was so loud that it created reverb inside his ears.

“I’m sorry—” she began to say as she held out a hand to him and then looked back at the baby and cringed. She looked around at the mess as she reached for Whit and lifted him from the bassinet. Kendry went to her and got a close look at the desperation in her eyes as she cast her gaze around the office.

Reaching out to her, he flipped on the overhead lights so that the room was illuminated by more than just the desk lamp. She shielded her eyes and winced. Whit screamed even louder, his face beet red and big tears rolling down his cheeks as he looked up at Kendry. She jostled him and bobbed, trying to soothe him but the crying only grew worse. She looked up at him and he could see that her eyelids were red and swollen as if she’d been crying for a while. There were dark shadows under her eyes. She cringed and tears leaked from her eyes and his heart thumped hard as the need to fix the situation for her overtook him.

She’d told them she could do this all on her own but she looked as though she was nearing the breaking point. He caressed her soft shoulder and squeezed gently to get her attention because neither of them could hear each other over all the noise.

He held out his hands to Whit and looked at her for approval and said, “Let me?”

More tears leaked from Presley Ann’s eyes and her brows furrowed as she handed Whit off to him. The baby felt warm and a little sweaty in the sleeper he was dressed in and he reached for the receiving blanket she had draped over her shoulder. With pure defeat written on her features, she placed the receiving blanket over his shoulder and watched as he spoke.

“Little man, you have got a set of lungs on you. Where did you get those from?”

Whit sucked in a breath and stared wide-eyed at Kendry, his mouth hanging open as if he’d forgotten what he was doing in mid-wail. In the short space of silence, he heard Presley Ann draw in a ragged, shaky breath.

He turned his gaze to her and said, “Are you okay?”

Her shoulders slumped in defeat and she shook her head. As if on cue, Whit began wailing again and Presley Ann started crying, too.

“Oh, kitten,” he murmured as he wrapped an arm around her back and pulled her close so that he had his arms full of both of them and just let them cry themselves out. “Poor, poor babies.”


Presley Ann wanted to kick the crap out of her inner angel, the self-sacrificing maternal one that had told her she could handle an infant on her own. The only thing worse was her inner devil, that remnant of the spoiled brat she’d been rearing her ugly head, who told her that perhaps her aunt had been right.

The pain in the left side of her head was so intense that she was actually seeing stars, and crying only increased the pressure and the pain. She could barely function, so all the desire in the world to succeed as a mother was wasted, and the inner negativity only increased the feeling of failure. The knot in her throat grew as she looked up at Kendry, defeat settling uncomfortably on her shoulders as he made a sympathetic sound deep in his throat.

Whit let loose with another bloodcurdling scream and the nausea roiled in her stomach. Kendry watched Whit and when he lost steam and finally drew a long, stuttering breath he turned his gaze to her and asked, “Have you slept?”

She shook her head but couldn’t speak as another pain-wracked sob rose up as she estimated the distance to the nearest bathroom. If she got sick in front of him it was going to be epically embarrassing. Whit’s subsequent wail made the knot of muscles at the base of her skull tighten another degree.

With the baby’s next inhalation, Kendry asked, “Are you in pain?”

Helpless to do anything but nod, she put her hands to her temples and leaned against him.

Whit’s next shaky breath was less intense than the last one. Either that or she was finally going deaf. Kendry asked, “Got a headache?”

She nodded and managed a weak smile. “Migraine.”

She held her hands open expecting him to hand the baby right back to her. Lots of moms dealt with migraines while caring for an infant and she needed to suck it up.

“I have an appointment with Doctor Emma later this afternoon.”

“Have you had them before?” he asked as he caressed her brow, which sent a wave of shivers down her spine, leaving her feeling a little weak in the knees.

“Rarely. The normal over the counter meds aren’t helping and obviously I can’t go lay down in a quiet room with a washcloth over my eyes. I thought a distraction might help.” She gestured around the office. “I’m helping Marvin get this place organized, or at least I planned to. Right now, not much is getting done.”

“What time is your appointment?”

Whit began wailing again and he patted the baby on the back. His deep voice drew Whit’s attention and he gave a piteous cry, and then sucked in a few stuttering breaths. His face was red as he gazed up at him and then rubbed his eyes. He was just as exhausted as she was.

Kendry turned the baby in the crook of his arm so he faced Presley Ann and said, “Could you unzip his sleeper all the way down? Let’s get this off of him for a few minutes.”

“But he’ll get chilled,” she said, thinking a sick baby was the last thing she could deal with right now, but did as he asked.

“We’ll cover him with the blanket. There.” Whit bleated as she gently tugged the sleeves free from his arms and then eased the thick blanket sleeper down his back and off of his legs. Whit flopped his head on Kendry’s shoulder and went back to sucking his fist. “What happened?” she asked as she looked at the sleeper and then at her son.

“Maybe he was hot.” Kendry brushed his lips against Whit’s head as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do and flipped the light switch back off, easing the pain behind her eyes slightly. “Let’s see if cooling him off doesn’t help the little man. You couldn’t hear me before when I asked but what time is your appointment with your doctor?”

“Not until this afternoon at three. They couldn’t fit me in before then and I didn’t want to sit with Whit in the waiting room since it’s flu season now.”

Kendry bobbed Whit in a gentle motion and said, “When was the last time you had a break? A few minutes to yourself?”

She hated answering because she didn’t want to sound like a whiner. Being a single mom meant she played the hand that was dealt her and breaks were a luxury she just couldn’t afford to think about, let alone indulge in.

“He conked out last night and I had enough time to take a quick shower.” Yeah, at four o’clock in the morning. She’d had to take the opportunity while it was allowed and the hot water had felt sooo good she’d nearly cried. He’d been awake and crying again before her hair was even fully dry. “I’m glad you didn’t see me yesterday,” she said as she fingered the straight ends of her hair. She hadn’t been anywhere in days, much less had the time or energy for the basics. She’d been a mess.

Whit made a snorting sound and began rooting and Presley Ann giggled as Kendry shifted the baby in his arms. “Can’t help you there, buddy.” He didn’t seem at all embarrassed.

Grabbing the receiving blanket from Kendry’s shoulder, she flipped it over her shoulder, and hissed softly at the pain the simple movement sent through her wrist. Kendry handed Whit to her and she sat in Marvin’s chair with her back to him, parted the overlapping neckline on her top, got Whit latched on, and then draped the blanket so she had a little privacy before turning back to Kendry.

Frowning, Kendry knelt down and lifted the hand she was using to stroke Whit as he began suckling in earnest. She smiled, because this part she could deal with. At least until Kendry manipulated her wrist and her thumb. She hissed at the sharp pain that had been nagging her for two weeks.

“That hurts?” He glanced at her and moved it in a different direction and she flinched when pain shot up her forearm. “I’m sorry, kitten. Looks like tendonitis and tennis elbow, too. A brace will help. You’ve been holding Whit a lot, haven’t you?”

A lot. A lot. A looooooot.

She nodded. “He hasn’t been sleeping or napping well since the end of the first week.”

She’d loaded him up when he was four days old, to take a little ride and go visiting. Get a little fresh air. How smug she’d been, thinking she had this mommy stuff down. Whit was so good and nursed so well that she’d disregarded when Emma had cautioned her to take her time getting back up to speed, and Leah had offered to keep the baby for a few hours every now and then so she could take a nap or go relax. That night, Whit had introduced her to colic. She’d thought he was dying and almost called 911. She’d called Emma instead and the doctor had assured her it was just colic. Just colic. She hadn’t left the apartment since then. Nights were a misery and days weren’t much better. And the baby blues had struck, along with exhaustion. Tears made her irritated eyes sting.

Kendry stroked her knee and she could feel the heat of his hands through the gauze of her skirt. A disconcerting warmth spread through her and further embarrassment heated her cheeks when the sensation set off another letdown reflex. Whit was audibly having difficulty keeping up as he glug-glug-glugged. She tipped his head up a little bit to keep him from choking but didn’t move for fear of breaking the moment as Kendry looked into her eyes. His cheeks took on a slightly ruddy hue and she blushed even harder, thinking he might’ve caught on to what he’d done with his simple touch.

She inhaled a stuttering breath and licked her lower lip, slowly leaning toward him as if drawn by a magnet. Their breaths mingled as he moved closer and their lips brushed against each other, their warm flesh meshing together like silk on silk, barely making contact. Suddenly Whit thrashed out an arm, interrupting the moment. Kendry looked down and his expression went blank as a cool draft wafted over the upper curve of her breast and the cool air tightened her damp nipple.

Oh. My. God.

But like the eager little piglet that he was, Whit rooted around until he found the source of his nourishment. He patted her breast and squirmed closer, now perfectly content, as though he hadn’t been screaming at the top of his lungs for the last five hours. And half the night. And most of the previous day. And all of the previous night. And…

Her head bobbed and then she blinked as she looked into Kendry’s concerned gray-blue eyes.

“Whoa, kitten. You just zoned out on me for a few seconds there. I don’t think you’re going anywhere until after you’ve had a nap.”

“Hello?” a soft voice called from the front of the building. “Is everything okay back here?”

“I’ll be right back,” he said as he rose to his full height and left the office. Judging by the voices, he was conversing with someone who’d come in for some sort of computer service. It sounded like Petunia Dawson, the little old lady that had been coming in to see Marvin every so often. While he was out of the office she shook her head and stretched out her shoulders, trying to revive herself a little. Just having a little company bolstered her mood.

As a testament to her sleep-deprived state, she gasped as she realized they’d just kissed and she’d flashed her rather large boob at him. It struck her as funny for some odd reason and she started to giggle. He returned from the front and smiled at her, she got tickled all over again, and before long her laughter involved her entire body. Whit stopped nursing and when she peeked behind the drape he was staring up at her as if she’d grown another head. That struck her as hysterically funny and she laughed some more until tears were streaming down her cheeks and then held a hand to her head as the pounding increased. “Oh. Ow.”

She tried to dial it back and took some deep breaths as Kendry grinned and asked, “What’s so funny?”

“I am seriously loopy, that’s all. I just fell asleep sitting up, after sharing a very sweet kiss with you and then flashing my mommy boobs at you.”

Kendry chuckled. “Actually, it was only one mommy boob, and it was rather nice, if you want my opinion. Kitten, you need a little break. Finish nursing him, we’ll change him, and then I want you to go back upstairs and lay down for a while.”


“Do you trust me?”

No hesitation was needed. “Yeah, I do.”

“Finish with him while I take care of a customer for Marvin, who’s also at home in bed, only he’s sick.”

“Oh, no.” Whit finished and she quickly did up the cup on her nursing bra and adjusted her top before switching the baby and the cover to the other side. Kendry had been right, she thought. Whit had been overheated because now his skin was warm and dry to the touch, not sweaty and flushed like it had been. And he wasn’t fussing. She looked up at Kendry and blinked. “I’m sorry. I was zoning again. Is Marvin okay?”

“I think so. I’ll go up front and finish with this customer and then you can leave Whit with me down here for a couple of hours so you can nap in peace and quiet. It might even help your head if you use an ice pack on it.”

It was on the tip of her tongue to thank him and refuse the offer. Whit was her responsibility. But then she thought about driving somewhere with him in the car. No. She needed to be responsible by not getting behind the wheel in a seriously sleep deprived state.

“Okay. If you’re sure you don’t mind. I’ll be just a few more minutes and I’ll change him and get his diaper bag and a bottle for you. Oh, and tell Mrs. Dawson that I said hello.”

“I will.”

Kendry grabbed a typewriter from one of the shelves and hustled back out front, the sound of their voices mingling before the door cut off the sound. Belatedly, she wondered how long he’d been down there and if Kendry had heard her crying upstairs. She hoped not. She hated looking pathetic.

After Whit was full and burped, she took him back upstairs, changed his diaper, dressed him in a onesie, prepared a backup bottle from her precious store of pumped breast milk, and grabbed a thicker blanket and his diaper bag. Just this once, she’d accept help.

She stood in the bedroom holding Whit and paused, hoping she hadn’t forgotten anything he might need. Closing her eyes, she remembered the warmth of Kendry’s lips on hers, the way her heart had pounded, and the rush of pleasure that had coursed through her body. Her mind went fuzzy for a few seconds and then she gasped as she shook her head.

“Falling asleep while standing up holding the baby. Not good.” She rushed to the kitchen sink, got a glass of water and took a long drink, before carefully going down the steep stairs. Her wrists ached as she held Whit securely in her arms and she noticed he looked like he felt better, too. “Sorry for overdressing you, sugar. I don’t like that either and don’t know why I thought you would.”

He blinked those baby blue eyes at her and stuck his fist in his mouth.

Kendry had already moved the portable bassinet to the front of the building and reassured her about his ability to take care of Whit before hustling her back up the stairs. “Don’t forget to eat lunch while you’re up there.”

“Can I make you something?” she called from the stairs.

He waved his hand at her and smiled. “Jared is bringing me lunch. Go. Sleep, Mama.”

Heat filled her again and she bit her lower lip as she smiled on the way up the stairs. Looking around the apartment, it was tempting to do the flight of the bumble bee and clean house while she had the chance. Her body felt like she’d been carrying the baby nonstop for days. She nipped the cleaning impulse and went to the kitchen and got herself a bowl of cereal, after realizing she hadn’t eaten anything that morning. “That’s good for a headache, too.” She drank more water and then flopped on her bed with a cool washcloth over her eyes.

Her mind wanted to race but she knew the next two hours would be fleeting so she regulated her breathing and closed her eyes.


Carrying a couple of plastic food storage containers and a travel cup full of sweet tea, Jared crossed Main Street in front of the firehouse at lunch time. The sight that greeted him when he knocked on the back door of Marvin’s shop wasn’t the one he’d expected.

“Hey, Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Kendry chuckled as he cuddled Whit in his arms. “Tater-tot here got droopy-eyed during our staring match and I decided to occupy the baby with my extensive repertoire of funny noises and faces before putting him down for his nap.” Besides looking exhausted, Whit looked about as fit as a three week old baby could be.

“Dang, he’s a pudgy little thing, isn’t he? How’s our girl doing?”

“She puts on a brave face but she’s having a hard time. I sent her upstairs to lay down for a bit. She has a nasty migraine and she’s dog-tired. Whit’s had colic for the last two weeks straight and she was at her wit’s end, no pun intended.”

Jared cringed. “You remember when little Ashley had that?”

Kendry grimaced as he bobbed Whit gently and he crossed the space to the portable cradle-thingy and eased Whit down into it on his tummy. Whit curled up with his cheek to the fuzzy sheet and didn’t make a sound. “If you think Ash was bad, you should hear Whit when he gets going. It’s enough to make your eyeballs bleed. No wonder Presley Ann has a migraine, on top of everything else.”

“Everything else?”

“Yeah, looks like he startles easily so she’s been holding him a lot, hoping that would help him get some rest. It’s been a downhill spiral for them both. She’s got a bad case of tennis elbow and tendonitis in her wrists from holding him so much. I think she’s got the blues, too. I know I would. This is one of those times when hanging out with Marty, Felicia and the kids really came in handy.”

Marty had always been like a brother to them and they’d spent a lot of time at his house, even babysitting on occasion so the two adults could have some time alone, which it seemed they’d used to make more babies.

Jared smiled at the memory of their cousin and his extensive family. “Felicia would like Presley Ann. She’d probably take her right under her wing. I can hear her now. ‘Darlin’, you let that baby cry it out a little. It won’t hurt him.’”

Kendry chuckled. “‘Put him on his belly. He’ll sleep better and he won’t have a flat head.’”

Both men chuckled softly, remembering Felicia’s loving but often politically incorrect way of expressing herself.

“Anyway,” Kendry said, “She’s seeing her doctor this afternoon and I didn’t want her driving in a sleep-deprived state.”

“Good call. She gonna leave him with you while she goes?”

“That’s up to her when she comes down but I was actually thinking the same thing, if she’s willing. She has him on a feeding schedule, although she packed a bottle for him that I can warm up if I need to.”

Jared peered into the cradle and grinned when the baby’s jaw bobbed as if he was nursing in his sleep. “Bring him for a visit at the station if you get bored after he wakes up. There’s spaghetti in one container and some fancy Italian salad with dressing in the other. I grabbed you the last piece of garlic bread and stuck it in with the spaghetti.”

Jared lifted his gaze to the ceiling where it sounded like everything was quiet upstairs. “Sounds like she took your advice. How long has she been up there?”

“Only a half hour or so. I’m hoping she’ll sleep until at least two-thirty. Though what she really needs is a solid twenty-four hours of it.”

“That bad?” Jared asked, worry for her edging into his heart. He hated that she was in pain and that worn out. The need to provide a solution was strong.

Kendry nodded. “She wants to do all of this on her own and I think it’s shaken her confidence to find out she needs help. I’m glad I decided to check on her.”

“You aren’t worried she’ll see that as swooping in and saving her?”

Kendry leveled a gaze on him and said, “As tired as she is right now, she may not like it but that’s what she needs. I’m even thinking about calling her sister. If Leah knew, she’d be over here in a heartbeat.”

Jared nodded. “I don’t want her upset with us. You’re the better judge right now. Come visit later if you want to. The fresh air would probably do him some good, too.”

“I’ll talk to her.”

Jared left a few minutes later, trying to reconcile the urge to fix the situation with understanding her need to succeed on her own. If she viewed herself as a “bad” person in the past, then she might equate being self-sacrificing with being “good.” He didn’t care if she’d been a spoiled daddy’s girl. He only knew her as the beautiful, caring woman both he and his brother were attracted to.


Be watching for the fifth and final part of the Absentminded Angel out-takes, coming tomorrow!

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand

Happy New Year!!!!!

Sparks Fly! 2

Part Three: Absentminded Angel Out-takes, Chapter Two-Three

Out-takes Part ThreeWinter Landscape

Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 😀 My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.

This scene picks up right where the last one left off, with Presley Ann preparing to do laundry. What could go wrong?


While the washer and dryer spun and hummed through their cycles, she poked around in Marvin’s office, familiarizing herself with what needed to be done. First on the agenda was clearing the clutter off of his desk so she could have a flat surface to work on. Midway through the piles she discovered a radio and set it to a pop station, humming along with Adam Levine but eventually, she changed the station. The contemporary pop music brought back memories that weren’t necessarily happy ones. She didn’t like the person she’d been.

Self-absorbed and trying to snare one of the Carlisle brothers. Too stupid to realize they were both already head over heels in love with Lydia.

Flirting with Cody Welsh, even though it had been obvious he was in love with Maizy, because Presley Ann had thought there was no way the little kindergarten teacher could handle three men. So she’d decided to try her hand at tempting one of them away from her. No biggie.

Yanking Lucy Carter’s chain, and her corset strings, at the Dancing Pony’s Halloween party and very nearly revealing her voluptuous attributes to the entire crowd. That one had been motivated by pure jealousy both because she’d looked hot as hell in her Elvira costume but also because Presley Ann could see that Lucy was pretty much clueless about how riveted Patrick and Beck were by her presence.

She’d laughed at and looked down upon Grace Warner, Summer Webster, and many—no—all of her friends, simply because they were full-figured women who must have no self-control. Now, here she was, destined to be full-figured herself, just like her mother and grandmother. She’d held it at bay with dieting and starving herself but the writing was on the wall. Her presumption that having curves meant she was somehow “less than” was embarrassing to look back on.

Sometimes she hated the person she’d been.

Her life was now divided into halves, much like the B.C. and A.D. calendar. There was B.B., before baby, and A.B., or after baby. That was better for her than “before” and “after” cowboy because thinking that way just kept him on her mind and that wasn’t healthy for her right now. She’d begin missing him, after only having had a night with him. A one night stand was not a good basis for framing her life around. But this baby…Her baby was a good point of reference.

She settled on a station that was playing a seventies love ballads and was humming along to “What A Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers when she heard the rinse cycle end on a load of wash. Feeling a little ungraceful, she waddled into the kitchen at the back of the older house that Marvin had remodeled into an office, emptied the dryer, transferred the load from the washer and then set the washer to fill again. One load left. All blacks. She looked down at her outfit, contemplated the next step, glanced out the window at the dark yard beyond, and pulled the white nightgown she’d folded earlier from a basket.

She stripped out of her maternity clothing, every stitch, and dropped it into the washing machine and quickly slipped her nightgown over her head, smiling as the slinky fabric slid down her legs to her ankles. It tickled and even little peanut wriggled a little as she settled the lace bodice in place beneath her now enormous breasts. They’d always been on the large side, to the point she’d even been accused of having breast augmentation surgery, but now they were seriously prodigious, and also a little achy and tingly.

More thunder rumbled in the distance, creating a little static on the radio and making the floor vibrate slightly beneath her feet as the simple guitar chords of a Bread song began to play. She listened intently to it, trying to remember the name of the song she hadn’t heard in ages and smiled when she remembered it. “Everything I Own.”

Humming with the music playing in the other room, she went back to work, filling the washer with the last of the dirty laundry and then returned to the office. Her robe was upstairs, already clean and hanging on the back of her bathroom door but she didn’t worry about it. Marvin had told her that she had the run of the place at night and that he’d call if he needed to come to the office for something so she wouldn’t be scared if she heard anyone downstairs. She heard the growl of thunder from the storm moving into their area as she considered how to make sense of Marvin’s chaos.

Boxes of files and computer parts were piled around so she couldn’t get close to the filing cabinets to see if they were empty or full already. She cleared everything off his desk, except for the radio and the old touch tone phone and felt like she’d accomplished something. He hadn’t intended for her to even start that night so she felt good about making a little headway he could see in the morning. Then she’d negotiate her hourly rate with him, she thought with a smile. She would put every dime of the money she made at her part time job in savings.

Light flashed and thunder boomed outside, startling her and making the lights flicker overhead. Hoping to finish her laundry before the storm blew in and she possibly lost power, she turned off the radio and the office lights and went into the kitchen and folded the load she’d taken out of the dryer earlier while she waited for the washer to finish. She pulled out the romance novel Leah had loaned her that she’d brought downstairs with her and sighed as she sat down. It was one of Veronica’s books, a bestseller according to Leah. Presley Ann had never been one for reading but the cover looked good so she’d decided that she might give it a try if she didn’t have anything else to do. Books had never held her attention, which was why she’d never done more than average work in school.

She smiled when she saw the inscription on the title page. Leah had loaned her an autographed copy. That was really something, to think that they had several published authors in their community. If she read their books she might have even more to talk with them about. She turned to the first chapter and began to read.

Twenty pages later, with her heart pounding and her nether regions aching and hot, she jumped up when the dryer finished and pulled warm clothes out one-handed while she kept reading.

She flipped the book over to look at the cover. Bound By The River Bridge.

“Holy crap, we were never assigned reading like this in English class.” She bit her lip as she read, anticipation ratcheting higher as the heroes and heroine faced off in their first meeting, the sexual tension building with every word they snapped at each other.

Thunder crashed and the lights flickered and she screamed out loud. Then she cackled with laughter as she pulled the last load out of the dryer and began folding them.

“Okay, so maybe I’m a little bit of a reader after all.”

She carried the first load to her apartment door, and was propping it open with the doorstop when she heard a noise. Cocking her head, she set the basket down and went to the window over the sink. It was all inky black darkness outside and rain had begun to fall. She stilled and listened and frowned when she heard the noise again. It couldn’t be—


Shaking her head, she went to the heavy back door. “Who would have a little baby out this time of night?”

She flipped the deadbolt lever and pushed the release bar on the backdoor, which unlocked it automatically, and cracked it open. At first she couldn’t hear anything because of the wind and the rain and then it came again from beneath the window. She’d have to open the door all the way in order to be able to see around it.


It sounded so much like a baby instinct took over and she hurried out onto the concrete steps, ignoring the splattering rain that soaked her in seconds as she tried to block part of her body with the heavy door. “Hello?”

Wishing she’d grabbed the flashlight from her room upstairs first, she opened the door further and looked around it. Belatedly, she remembered the stories going around on the Internet about rapists using the recording of a baby crying to get unsuspecting women to open their doors. Lightning flashed, illuminating two mating cats crouched near the foundation that snarled even louder. The crash of thunder made her scream and jump, and her hand slipped from the damp metal door. The wind caught the door and she remembered Marvin’s words the day he’d replaced the back door as she watched it slam closed.

“If you go outside make sure to keep your keys with you. Even if you unlock it to get out, this door locks automatically when it closes.”

“No!” she cried as she yanked on the door handle ineffectually.

The cats snarled and growled and then tore past her on the porch and disappeared into the night.

“Hey! At least you got laid,” she groused and then gaped as she looked down. The nightgown was plastered to her from neckline to ankles and her favorite cushy house slippers were soaking up the water. Chilly water seeped between her toes. “Oh no!” Looking around, she surveyed the bare backyard, the houses in the neighborhood beyond, and heard the rumble of cars on Main Street out front. She wrapped her arms around herself, shivering in the cold.

“What the hell do I do now?” It was cold and she needed to get back inside immediately. She knew that much. But her mind went blank. Light pierced the air and she was already shrieking when the thunder shattered the night. She screamed again and was filled with fear when her abdomen tightened up in a contraction. It was mostly painless but it scared her into action.

She went to the window and tried to reach it but couldn’t. Using the more benign flickers of distant lightning, she looked about the yard for a ladder or crates. Anything she could use to get back inside. Marvin would understand about the broken window but no way was she running around the neighborhood in a transparent nightgown. Lightning flashed again nearby, startling another scream out of her.

If she kept screaming like a ninny the police would be there before she could get in and how humiliating would that be? Hysteria bubbled up inside her when she considered that it might be one of her brothers-in-law who were dispatched to check out the disturbance. That would be the worst, most embarrassing thing that could happen to her. As if fate was having a field day on her pathetic ass, she suddenly heard male voices drawing near.

“I think it came from back here!” a deep voice called as she whimpered and prepared to explain. Lightning flashed and thunder blasted again, making it hard to hear for a few seconds and when she looked up from her crouched, protective position, their faces caught the flicker from distant lightning and she recognized both men.

Shoot. Me. Now.


Jared’s worry multiplied as the second scream echoed across Main Street. They’d just been dropped off by James Elder at the fire station, where they’d left their truck, after having a late supper with him, Vincent, and Leah. The plan had been to make the short trip back to the Hourglass Inn, catch a good night’s rest, and head back to Abilene the following morning. They were just opening the truck doors when they’d heard the first scream and that plan was all but forgotten. The voice was clearly female and his immediate fear had been that, given the hour, it might be Presley Ann, and that she was in some sort of danger. A quick glance across the street showed the lights of her apartment upstairs were on.

Both of them were drenched by the time they made it across the street and the same fear must’ve been uppermost in Kendry’s mind because he headed for the back of Marvin’s building, calling out, “I think it came from back here!”

They barreled around the corner and lightning lit up a white clad figure under the window at the back of the building. She looked up and the lightning illuminated the fear written in her body language as she crouched there, her arms wrapped protectively around her tummy.  “Oh, honey,” Jared murmured as he tore off his jacket and draped it around her as he squatted to offer additional shelter from the rain beating down on her. “Presley Ann? It’s me and Kendry. Are you injured?”

Shaking her bedraggled head, Presley Ann said, “I got l-locked out.”

She shivered against him and he turned to Kendry. “Call the firehouse to bring a blanket.”

“No! No! They can’t see me like this,” she pleaded with chattering teeth as she grabbed hold of Kendry. “They-They’ll be able to see through my n-nightgown. Please don’t. Just help me get back in my apar-partment.”

“I’ll check the window,” Kendry said after also wrapping his jacket around her. She moaned softly as Jared helped her stand and didn’t even hesitate to wrap his arms around her when she burrowed close as a cold wind gusted around them.

“Locked,” Kendry said.

“Bring the truck.” He handed Kendry his keys. “We can wrap her up and then call Marvin or her sister.” Kendry bolted for the front.

“Th-thank you.” He could barely make out her words. She trembled as she put her hand up to shield her face from the rain that was now blowing sideways. Looking down, he groaned when he saw her slim bare feet, only one of them encased in a soggy slipper that was stained with mud. The other lay nearby, ruined, in the sparse grass and gravel.

A minute later, the light from headlights bounced into the parking lot on the side of the building. Kendry pulled clear to the back and left the truck running as he hurried to them with the wool blanket they kept handy for just such a need.

“Let’s get you out of the rain,” Jared murmured as he and Kendry quickly wrapped her up.  She turned with him and he caught her just in time as her feet slipped out from under her. “Whoa, darlin’.” He lifted her into his arms and carried her to the passenger side door and raised her into the truck and into Kendry’s arms as he reached for her from the driver’s side. They both climbed in on either side of her and Kendry turned the heater up and directed the vent at her. She passed their jackets back to them from under the blanket, carefully keeping it closed as she did. Her little feet were completely pale and felt like ice when he wrapped his hands around them and rubbed to warm them.

“I-I had s-slippers on earlier.”

Trying to get her to smile, Jared said, “I think the lightning scared you right out of them. I saw one on the ground and you must’ve lost the other one on the way to the truck. Sorry, but I think they were pretty much ruined.”

“You look like a bedraggled kitten,” Kendry said with a grin as he took the edge of the blanket and began blotting at her pale golden hair. Jared had to agree, thinking that the appellation suited her. “What’s Marvin’s number?”

“I hate bothering him this l-late.”

“Okay, what about Leah?”

“Oh, no! That’d be worse. I don’t want to worry her.”

“Then Marvin it is?” Jared asked as he brushed a drenched lock of her hair back over her shoulder.

“I—uh—yeah, I guess s-so.”

Kendry dialed the number she gave him.

She held her hands out to the warm air coming from the vent. Jared asked, “So how did you come to be outside in a thunderstorm?”

He noticed the way she tensed as she took a deep breath and let it out slowly and he and Kendry made eye contact over her head, and his EMT instincts came alive. Kendry held the phone to his ear while the call rang through and then a distant voice came on the line.

Glancing at his watch, Jared softly asked, “Presley Ann, you okay?” and then watching her face for any sign of pain.

She looked up at him and nodded. “I was downstairs in the kitchen, where the washer and dryer are located. While was I finishing my laundry, I heard a noise outside,” she said, and proceeded to explain what had happened. Guilt showed in her eyes when he groaned at the vulnerable position she’d put herself in.

“I know. It was stupid but I really thought it was a baby. I went out there and saw the cats and the thunder startled me and the wind slammed the door shut, locking me out.”

“Are you having labor contractions?”

With a shake of her head, she said, “I don’t think so. Being startled caused a really hard Braxton Hicks contraction, that’s all.”

“How many?” he asked.

“Including the first one, there have been three. None of them hurt…at least not really.”

He was relieved that her teeth were no longer chattering and turned his attention to Kendry as he finished his call with Marvin. He really wanted to get her upstairs and make sure she was okay.

“Marvin said he’ll be here in just a few minutes.”

“I feel bad for disturbing him,” she said as she pulled the blanket tighter around her.

“He said you’d say that,” Kendry said as he helped her cover up her knees, which were visible through the filmy white fabric of her gown.

Poor baby, she must be chilled to the bone.

The wind, rain, and thunder outside made a lot of racket. With a giggle, she looked down at her blanket covered tummy and said, “The excitement has the baby all stirred up.”

“Any pain?” Kendry asked as he put his hand out to her middle.

“No, just moving around a lot. Oh, heck.”


“Now I need to pee. He just shifted onto my bladder. The rain doesn’t help, either.” He and his brother chuckled and then she looked up at Jared with solemn eyes. “Sorry to be a bother. I know the last thing you probably planned on tonight was getting soaked and cold while coming to the aid of a damsel in distress. It’s really embarrassing being seen like this, especially by you.” She bit her lip after the last word was out of her mouth and a rosy blush filled her otherwise pale cheeks as she looked down at her stomach.

“Kitten, we don’t want you to be embarrassed. I’m just relieved we heard you. I hate to think of what could’ve happened if we hadn’t. And I for one am happy to see you under any circumstances.”

“Same goes for me…kitten. Hey, I kinda like that,” Kendry said with a nod as he stroked her hair from her cheek, warmth filling his eyes. A warmth that didn’t surprise Jared because he felt it, too, at least where this woman was concerned. Expecting or not, she’d captured their interest and their hearts practically from the first night she’d met them.

Presley Ann’s cheeks turned pink and she held the blanket higher under her chin as she looked from Kendry back to him. “Kitten? You mean like a nickname?”

“An endearment,” Jared said, hoping she didn’t take offense. “Would that bother you?”

She bit her lower lip and he didn’t like the resignation that came into her eyes. “Guys, in case you didn’t notice, I’m like…super huge and pregnant. You really don’t want to waste your time on me.” She sucked in a shaky breath and shook her head. “I heard you were moving here and there’s lots of pretty single women in this town. Why would you—”

Jared laid a finger lightly on her lower lip, his heart aching at the desolation he saw in her blue eyes and the set of her mouth. “Why would we be interested in you?”

Presley Ann gave him a conciliatory smile and shook her head. “I know why. It’s because of Leah. She told me you asked her if she had a sister, because you took a liking to her when you met her but she was already taken. But really guys, you don’t know me at all. You don’t know how I’ve been over the years.” She stammered as she continued, talking faster and faster. “My life is way too complicated and I have no one but myself to blame. If you really knew me you wouldn’t think I’m much of a ‘kitten’ or anything else sweet, cuddly, and likable like that. You really don’t want to spend time with—”

She was getting more and more worked up and Jared did the one thing that would distract her from saying such negative things about herself. He kissed her right on the lips. Her soft squeal was muffled against his lips and her blue eyes flashed open wide as she gazed up into his eyes before her eyelids slowly slid closed. Her breath puffed in little pants from her as she cuddled close to him. A shudder rippled through her as Kendry gathered her hair from beneath the blanket and he laid a kiss at the juncture of her shoulder and throat.

At such close proximity to each other, Jared looked up and made eye contact with his brother. Kendry’s eyes held more than a trace of heat and he groaned softly as he sat back and said, “We’ve got company.”

Jared drew back from her, pleased with the dazed look on her beautiful but pale face. Her eyes fluttered open, revealing bewilderment as she looked up at him and then turned to look at Kendry, then back at him, then back at his brother.

Kendry chuckled and said, “Careful, kitten. You’re going to give yourself whiplash. That lace is pretty on you.”

“Huh? Oh!” Presley Ann said, gasping as she looked down. The blanket had fallen around her shoulders, revealing the lace on the neckline and bodice, and the lush swells of her breasts. His cock tingled as he caught a glimpse of perky pink nipple before she jerked the blanket back up around her neck. Before she could say anything else, Marvin Kramer’s truck pulled in next to theirs in the back lot. Feeling disappointment that they’d been interrupted but happy that they could get her back inside and warmed up, Jared opened his door as Marvin climbed from his truck.

Jared stopped Presley Ann when she would’ve hopped down and said, “Wait until we get the door opened, kitten, and then I’ll carry you inside so you don’t have to walk on the gravel. There could be glass or something that would injure your feet. You don’t need that right now.”

“Oh, but it’s just a short—”

“Hey folks! Sorry you got locked out Presley Ann! You okay?” Marvin called over the wind and the rain as he came around to the passenger side. He clucked sympathetically when he saw her soggy state.

“I’m fine, Uncle Marvin. Sorry I got you out of bed for nothing.”

“It’s no trouble at all, sweetheart. I’ll get that door opened for you in a jiffy.”

He hurried over to the steps and had the back door unlocked and held open for her a few seconds later. Jared lifted her, enjoying her solid, warm weight against him, despite her protests, and carried her up the steps and over the threshold. “Smells like fresh laundry in here,” he murmured as he set her on her feet.

Presley Ann smiled and then flushed crimson as she grabbed for the opened paperback book lying beside one of the laundry baskets. It was a pretty hot-looking romance, judging by the cover. She stuck it in the side of the basket. “Yeah, I’d just finished folding my last load when…all that happened.”

Marvin shook the water from his hat in the sink and said, “I’ll install a back-up key for you somewhere out back just in case something like this ever happens again. I’m so sorry about this. You must be freezin’.”

Presley Ann shook her head and said, “No, it was my fault.”

“A hot bath will get you warmed up, sweetie. I’ll let you know where I put the key when I see you tomorrow.” Glancing at the Jared and Kendry, he added, “Everything else okay? You need help getting your baskets back up those stairs?”

“No, Uncle Marvin, I can manage. Everything else is fine. They weren’t visiting or anything, just…rescuing me,” she said with a little smile before looking between the two of them.

“We don’t mind carrying the baskets upstairs for you, Presley Ann,” Kendry said. “Especially since you were having those minor contractions. We have EMT training so we know that’s not active labor but you shouldn’t push your luck after being frightened and chilled.”

Marvin nodded and looked at them and then toward the door. “All right then. Kendry and Jared seem like nice guys, and they’re gonna be neighbors over at the fire station. You should let them carry those baskets up.”

Biting her lips, Presley Ann finally nodded.

Marvin said, “I best be on my way, then, folks…if that’s okay with you, Presley Ann?”

She nodded and thanked him for bringing the key. He went on his way, after giving Jared and Kendry one last long look and tipping his hat.

Jared piled two baskets on top of each other and Kendry grabbed the third and her laundry products and Kendry said, “Lead on, kitten.”


Another mild contraction wrapped around her middle and Presley Ann looked at the loaded baskets and at the two handsome men, standing there holding them. The energy to carry them upstairs had deserted her. A shiver wracked her and the contraction pulled tighter. All she wanted was to get out of the night gown and into a very warm shower.

“Kitten, your lips have a bluish tinge to them,” Kendry said as he inched a little closer. “All we want to do is help get your laundry upstairs and then we’ll let you get warmed up. Whatever worries are in your head, just let them go. We’re only here to help.” He smiled and looked a little guilty. “I liked kissing your neck but I wouldn’t take advantage.”

She bit her lip as she glanced at Jared but he just gazed at her with those gray-blue eyes of his, a paler version than Kendry’s medium gray-blue eyes. His mouth curled up ever so slightly at one corner but he didn’t say a word, just glanced down at her laundry and then stared at her lips. His gaze created a little flicker of heat in her core, all the more noticeable because she was frozen.

Not only is he not sorry for kissing me, he looks like he’d do it again, given the chance.

She shook her head as she motioned toward the propped open door to her apartment and slowly climbed the steep stairs. She had to pee really bad and she breathed shallowly as another contraction tightened her middle. It was painless but disconcerting.

When they reached the landing at the top of the stairs, she darted a glance back at them, wondering what they thought of her tiny home and then, because she had little choice in the matter, she scampered with all haste to the bathroom and shut the door.

“Oh my gaaaaaaah…” she moaned in sweet relief as she huddled there, finally able to relieve the pressure.

“You okay, Presley Ann?” Kendry called through the door. The hint of amusement was clear in his voice.

“Um, yeah! I’m fine!” One of the pitfalls of living in a loft apartment. Very little in the way of sound barriers.

Still shivering, she stripped off the clammy wet gown and hung it up to dry and slipped into the comfy fleece robe she kept on the back of her bathroom door. After tying the sash, she looked down at the soft knot pushed up high by her abdomen and shook her head. Prepared for them to take one look and hightail it, she exited the bathroom carrying their blanket.

Jared said. “We put your laundry baskets on the table. Hope that’s okay.”

“Sure,” she murmured as she went to Jared and handed him the blanket as she glanced at him and his brother. “Thank you again for being there for me. I’d probably still be down there if it wasn’t for you.”

Jared folded his big callused hand around hers as he took the blanket from her. “Promise us you’ll never go outside alone at night like that again.”

She nodded. “I promise. It was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.” Speaking of… “Guys, I really meant what I was trying to say earlier, before…You really don’t want to waste your time on me.”

“I wouldn’t consider it a waste of time,” Jared said.

“I have too much on my plate as it is. I’m just…”

Kendry drew close. “Just what?”

“Just not a good bet. Let’s leave it at that.”

Kendry shook his head but didn’t argue with her. “Kitten, you’re still shaking and you need a hot shower. We’ll get out of your hair. But consider this once we’re gone—why not leave it up to us to determine if you’re a good bet?”

Because I’m the one who stands to lose that bet.

She looked at them and said, “You’re soaked and shivering, too.”

Jared said, “That’s okay. We have fresh clothes at the Hourglass Inn.”

“I wish you luck on your move here, and finding a place to live.”

Kendry turned back to her and grinned. “Thanks. And we did find a place, out near James and Vincent’s cabin. Plenty of room to run. You’ll like it.” He spoke as if he assumed she’d be visiting and then he winked at her.

Kendry was the more extroverted of the two, although Jared didn’t seem unnecessarily taciturn. He just didn’t smile or open up as easily as Kendry did.

Jared leaned forward and kissed her brow and his scent, wood and spice, invaded her senses. “We’ll lock up. If you have any more contractions, call your doctor, kitten. We’ll be in town until tomorrow. I left our numbers on the note pad on your table. Call us if you need us.”

“Or if you just wanna talk,” Kendry said quietly, smiling up at her with those sparkly eyes of his before he kissed the corner of her mouth, sending a tingle shooting through all of her extremities and into her core. “Drink lots of water. And don’t open your door unless you’re sure who’s on the other side.”

With a soft chuckle, she nodded and put a hand over her abdomen as the baby jostled around some more. “I’ll be very careful. Thank you.”

The door shut behind them and she heard the telltale click of it being checked from the outside and then felt the thud as the heavy outside door was closed tight as well. It was kind of nice to be looked out for like that.

Don’t go there, girl. They were being nice. Now they probably feel even sorrier for you.

She lit the wall heater in her bathroom and took a leisurely warm shower. The heat went a long way toward easing the ache in her back. After the excitement of the evening had worn off, fatigue gripped her and she dressed in a clean nightgown and retrieved the sexy romance novel from her laundry basket and climbed into bed, wondering if she’d be able to stay awake to read.

She didn’t even make it to the next chapter before a tight—and most definitely painful—contraction wrapped around her abdomen.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

Once it had passed she reached for her phone and checked the time. Laying there, breathing with as much calmness as she could summon, she stroked her abdomen—and her suddenly quiet little boy—and began talking to him.

“Is it time, little one? Too much stress this evening?” Whispering softly to him, she watched the clock on her phone and moaned when another contraction came five minutes after the first one. She let out a shaky sigh, trying to remember what Leah had told her about when to call and who to call. In her anxious state, she needed to reach out to someone.

The image of the note with the phone numbers scrawled in a decidedly masculine hand on her table came to her, but she needed her sister this time. Part of her heart mourned that it was not the confident warmth of a significant other that she reached for. After the third painful contraction she pulled up the last number she’d dialed on her phone and waited for the call to connect. It picked up on the second ring.

“Hello? Presley Ann? Are you okay?” Leah’s voice brought instant calm with it.

“Sis, I think I’m having contractions.”

“I’ll be right there. Sit tight.”


Watch for the third installment soon. 🙂

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren BookStrand



Part Two: Absentminded Angel Out-takes, from Chapter Two

Out-takes Part Two

Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 😀 My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.

This was the original first scene featuring Presley Ann’s heroes. Kendry and Jared McCulloch. They made fast friends with Presley Ann’s elderly Uncle Marvin Kramer. Presley Ann wasn’t the only one who had friends trying to match make for her.

The second scene features Presley Ann and Uncle Marvin. Readers get a feel for their relationship and how concerned he was for her and the welfare of the baby. I would’ve liked to have let readers get to know this colorful character but space and pacing just didn’t allow for it. His appearances later in the story served to show what a sweetheart he was to her and the baby.


Chapter Two

Kendry McCulloch stood with his brother, Jared, in the big bay of the central fire station on the outer edge of little downtown Divine. Since they were in town looking for a place to live, they’d decided to stop at the station and say hello to the chief and meet some of their future coworkers. A real estate agent was meeting them there shortly to take them on a tour of the properties that met their needs in the area.

Vehicles meandered along, heading up and down Main Street at a measured pace. Even this late in the year, there was still green grass, and leaves on the numerous trees that dotted the Texas Hill country landscape. Most notable, however, was the light breeze that whispered through the big, wide open doorways of the station. He was used to the dry, stiff winds of Abilene that persisted, regardless of whether the temperatures were sweltering or frigid.

Jared crossed his arms over his chest and craned his neck to peer up and down Main Street, and then looked at Kendry. “Good call, brother.”

The gut level feeling that this was the right move for them tightened in his chest and Kendry grinned and nodded. “This was a mutual decision, so right back at you.”

They weren’t scheduled to be on duty for two weeks, after they’d finished moving from Abilene. They’d shared a house there for the last several years so they had a whole household to move. Besides checking in with their new boss and delivering paperwork to him, they were also in Divine to hopefully find a new place to live, hopefully one with a big yard and room for a couple of big dogs to run.

They’d let James and Vincent Elder know they were in town and they’d invited them to supper that night and had mentioned that after their shifts were over, they’d be across the street from the fire station taking care of a delivery for Leah. Kendry smiled just thinking about that sweet lady…and her beautiful and perplexing sister.

Presley Ann Woodworth had sparked his interest from the moment he’d met her. Something in her eyes and her manner. Shyness and stress had seemed to rolled off of her and she’d been so thin, despite the fact that she was expecting. When he’d asked her, she’d told him that she was single and had left it at that. His intrigue had grown each time they’d encountered her on visits to Divine. Each time their paths had crossed, she’d grown more beautiful, more self-confident, and more appealing to him. And still, there was no man, no father to her baby, in the picture, at least not that they’d heard of.

When he’d asked Leah in private about it, Leah had only said, “You need to ask her about that.”

His attention centered on the building across the street and the white-haired man struggling to lift a heavy-looking box from his tailgate. The sign on the building proclaimed it Marvin’s Computer Repair. The bed of his truck was filled with such boxes. He and his brother shared a mutual chuckle when they both moved at the same time to walk across the street and offer the man a little help.

“Hi there. You look like you could use some help, sir,” Kendry called, as the usual spokesman for both of them. He and Jared often shared the same thoughts but Jared was more introverted and let Kendry do the talking.

The older man swiped his cowboy hat from his head and smiled at them and nodded breathlessly. “If you have a mind to help, I’m willing to accept. I was feelin’ strong this morning when I was loading all these up from my storage barn but I’m definitely flagging. Name’s Marvin Kramer. This is my place of business…or where I spend my daytime hours at any rate.”

Kendry held out his hand and shook Marvin’s. “I’m Kendry McCulloch. This is my brother, Jared.”

“Sir,” Jared said quietly and offered his hand as well.

Kendry hefted the box Marvin had left on the tailgate and said, “If you’ll just show us where you want these, we’ll get them unloaded for you.” Jared grabbed a box and they both followed Marvin in through the front door on the two story structure. “Computers, huh?”

Marvin chuckled as he hung his hat on the coat rack in the corner and nodded. “Nowadays it’s just a place to go during the day. I own some property down south and that brings in a little income and helps to keep the lights on. Always had a knack for electronics and such so I help out my friends who have difficulty with their laptops and all the snazzy mobile devices their grandkids talk them into buying. Pretty simple mostly and it keeps me in circulation.”

Kendry looked around and said, “Nice place.”

“I like it. Bought it a couple of years ago. My little upstairs renter helped me to make it homier.” He gestured at the potted plants and the window treatments. “The place needed a lady’s touch.” Marvin showed them back to the office and told them just to put the boxes wherever they could, which meant adding to the mild shambles the room was already in.

Jared glanced at him and they turned and went back out to the truck but Kendry’s curiosity was piqued. He had a knack with electronics, too. The breeze was nice outside and after the truck was unloaded, Marvin offered them an ice-cold beer from his refrigerator. They sat on the tailgate of his truck and watched the traffic go by as he told them all about life in Divine, occasionally waving back at people who honked or waved at him from their vehicles.

The wind kicked up, sending a blast of cooler air to ruffle his hair and he noticed the sky was darkening to the north. A distant rumble reached his ears.

Marvin said, “Storm’s coming. Weather’s been mild lately but that front is gonna change things. I need to get upstairs and make sure the windows in my little renter’s apartment are sealed properly. I’ve never spent any time up there in the winter so I don’t know if it’ll be warm enough for her and the baby she’s expectin’ soon.”

“Oh yeah?” Kendry asked, his attention piqued a little.

“Yeah,” Marvin said with a slight nod. “She’s actually my niece…sort of. Me and her daddy—and her mom—were best friends in school. Presley Ann Woodworth.”

Kendry and Jared both perked up and Kendry chuckled. “No Kidding!”

Marvin grinned. “You know her? She’s a sweetie. Used to be a bit of a Daddy’s girl but she’s grown up a lot recently. Got no choice.” Before Kendry could ask him what he meant, Marvin raised his hand in a wave and said, “Looks like I got more visitors.”

Kendry got up from the tailgate, prepared to take his leave with Jared as another vehicle pulled into the lot and then he laughed when he saw who it was. It was indeed a small town, he thought, as James Elder rolled to a stop in the space next to Marvin’s truck. He and Vincent jumped out, now dressed in their street clothing, with big smiles on their faces.

Vincent said, “Hey! I see you’re already getting to know all the local old timers.”

Marvin gave a belly laugh and said, “Not so old I can’t still put you across my knee like I did when you were little, boy.”

Vincent dodged a play punch and then shook Marvin’s hand and said, “Hey, we got the key to Presley Ann’s apartment from Leah. We’re delivering a surprise for her and some others are gonna be showing up with other stuff for her and the baby.”

“Sounds good, Vince. I was just telling the McCulloch boys that I need to get up there and make sure her windows are all sealed nice and tight. I don’t want that cold wind blowing through any cracks, chilling her and the little one once he gets here.”

So it’s a boy she’s carrying. He wondered, not for the first time, why the baby’s father wasn’t in the picture. She didn’t strike him as the type of woman any man could easily walk away from.

“If you bring me the stuff, I can do the work for you,” James said as he opened the tailgate on his truck and pulled a large box out to the edge of the truck bed. “This crib isn’t going to take long to get set up.”  Vincent helped him lift the bulky box, which must’ve been the crib, from the truck.

“Sure,” Marvin said. “I’ll be right back.”

While Marvin went inside, the Elder brothers turned to Kendry and Jared, and James lifted his chin. “It’s a small world, huh?”

“I’d say so,” Jared said. “Any chance Presley Ann might be interested in joining us for supper tonight?”

James chuckled and shook his head. “Leah mentioned it to her a few minutes ago and Presley Ann told her that she was supposed to stop in and talk to Marvin after work and she wasn’t sure how long it’d take. She also said her feet were really painful today.”

Vincent nodded as he took the mattress from his brother. “I used to think she was whiny but there are days where she looks like they really are hurting bad, and being pregnant seems to make it worse. Besides that, she seems like she’s just a little skittish—” James knocked him in the shoulder and Vincent turned to him. “What? It’s the truth. They need to know where she’s coming from.”

Kendry frowned. “What do you mean?”

James held up a hand. “She’s just in a difficult place right now. Being focused on bringing this baby into the world and taking good care of him is her major motivation right now. I—we think her self-esteem took a major hit when she discovered she was pregnant.”

“Is the father in the picture?” Jared asked softly as a pair of shoppers walked out of Batson’s Grocery Store next door.

James was about to answer when another vehicle pulled up in the parking lot. The SUV was driven by a familiar brunette who grinned and waved at the Elders before smiling at Kendry and his brother, curiosity obvious in her eyes.

James hurriedly said, “I’ve probably already said too much, guys. I’ll tell you we did mention to her earlier today that the two of you were moving to Divine and she seemed to like that news. Just…be careful with her.”

Jared frowned and leaned closer as the pretty brunette climbed from her truck. “We’d never do anything to hurt her feelings, James.”

James nodded and put his hand on Jared’s shoulder. “I know you wouldn’t. Y’all are like family. Just understand…there’s only so much Presley Ann can handle right now.”

Kendry nodded as the brunette walked up and said, “Kendry, Jared, I don’t know if you remember me or not but I’m Lydia Carlisle.”

“From out at the Rockin’ C, right? You’re Chance and Clayton’s wife?”

“Yes. I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re moving to Divine. That is good news.”

They all chatted for a few minutes and then Lydia mentioned that she had food that needed to be refrigerated. Kendry wanted to stay and help but he didn’t think it’d be right for them to be going in and out of Presley Ann’s place, helping to carry everything upstairs. No matter how helpful their intentions were, he didn’t want to take a chance on upsetting her. He looked at Jared and his brother nodded, showing that he was thinking similar thoughts.

Jared nudged him and pointed across the street as a man dressed like a cowboy climbed out of a big Dodge dually in front of the fire station. There was a magnetic real estate sign stuck to his driver side door.

“Well folks, looks like our guy is here to show us properties in the area.”

Lydia grinned and said, “Good luck!”

James said, “Leah should be here soon. She’ll be sorry she missed you.”

“Give her a hug for us,” Kendry called as they made their way across the street and greeted the real estate agent. Presley Ann stayed on his mind as the agent took them on a tour of the surrounding area and properties that were available.

When he’d mentioned the attraction he felt for Presley Ann to Jared a couple of months before, his brother had admitted that she stayed on his mind as well. Surprising or not, neither of them minded that she was bringing a baby into the world on her own. They didn’t know much about babies but any child of hers would be a welcome addition. Kendry’s chief concern was whether the father of her baby might make an appearance in her life someday and whether or not he and Jared might have a chance at making her forget the man entirely.


“You’re willing to pay me to organize your office for you?” Presley Ann asked later the same day after work as she stood in Marvin’s cluttered office. She’d never been in his office because he kept the door closed but it looked like a tornado had hit it. There were copy paper boxes full of manila files piled everywhere, bits and pieces of computers, typewriters, and other unknown equipment on shelves, and boxes holding more stacked next to the boxes of files

Marvin jingled the change in the pockets of his jeans as he stood there with her, looking around at the messy room. The distant rumble of thunder filtered in through the walls of the building, which had originally been a house that Marvin had remodeled into an office with an apartment above it. Storms had been in the forecast for that evening. “Uh, yeah. I started clearing all my business files out of the storage barn today and now I can barely get to my desk. Looking at it through fresh eyes, I must seem like I’m auditioning for that television show Hoarders, huh?”

Presley Ann turned her gaze to him and when he grinned, she burst into laughter. The light fizzy feeling in her heart increased. “My dad put you up to this, didn’t he?”

Marvin ran a hand through his curly white hair and shook his head but his eyes twinkled. “Doesn’t it look like I need the help?”

“Come on, Uncle Marvin.”

“Let me put it this way. My office has been needing a skilled hand at organization for a long time. Now the need is dire. Your dad told me you’re looking for a way to make some extra money on your days off and I’d like to think it’d make your mom happy, knowing that I was somehow contributing to you making ends meet. This is perfect for you, provided you don’t go trying to move any of the heavy boxes. I can do that for you. I spend most of my days at the front counter so this space is always neglected. You live just above the office so you don’t even have to dress up or anything, just come down the back stairs.”

“No one has ever trusted me to organize such a—”

“Mess?” he asked with laughter in his voice as he nudged a box with the toe of his cowboy boot. “It all got packed up when I bought this building and moved from my location downtown and I’ve just never… Well, to be honest, it was a mess back then too, so the mess just moved from there to here and it’s only grown since then. It’s bad, huh?”

“No,” she replied hastily. “No, it’s just a huge project. I’m not renowned as an organized person.”

“You did a fine job of organizing and prettying my storefront and that space upstairs. And your dad and Leah tell me you do a good job of staying organized at work.”

“Yes, when I can stay focused, I do. It’s staying on task that can be the problem.” She squinted at the labels on the boxes and almost didn’t hear him as she lifted the lid on a box marked “1983.” He’d been working on computers and such in the area a long time.

“Ah, don’t be worried about that, Presley Ann. You’ll be the only one working and you won’t have any interruptions, besides from your little one of course.”

She walked around and looked closer at the huge mess and then turned back to him. “I’ll do it.”

“Great. I imagine it’ll take you several months, if you’re working part time, to get it done. I don’t need you to rush. I’d just like it finished before I retire.”

“Well that’s open-ended.”

“Yup. And you’re more than welcome to bring the baby down here with you. There’s even room in the corner for a cradle or playpen if you want. You stop to feed or take care of the baby any time you need to, and I won’t bother you. You can even shut the door if you need privacy to nurse—or whatever,” He blushed a little, probably at the thought of her breastfeeding a baby and she had to giggle at the notion herself. There was a time she’d have been flat out disgusted at the thought of letting a baby near what she’d thought of as perfect breasts. All she cared about now was that they were perfect for breastfeeding, at least that was what she hoped.

“I usually have two days off every week but they switch up my schedule so I don’t always have the same ones.”

“That’s okay. I’ll keep a timesheet on a clipboard for you. You just record your time. And hey, I know little babies can get sick and whatnot, and sometimes need lots of care so if you’re looking for a flexible boss, that’d be me. And like I said, there’s no rush at all.”

“Are you sure my dad didn’t put you up to this?”

Marvin shook his head and looked like he was fighting a grin. “Nope. I’ve heard you’re a good little worker and you always pay your rent on time so I trust you. You set your own pace. And remember, anything that’s hefty I can move for you.”

She looked around at the messy office and said, “I love a challenge.”

It wasn’t until after she’d gone back upstairs that she realized she hadn’t asked him what he was willing to pay her per hour. She wrote herself a note to remember to ask him. Setting her purse and keys on the kitchen counter, she enjoyed the sound of the thunder rumbling in the distance. She’d always loved storms, as long as she was inside where it was safe.

A smile crossed her lips as she looked around the cozy expanse of her apartment. Marvin was right, she had done a good job with it. It was nice to be trusted with the task of organizing his office, even if she did still have the feeling that her dad had put Marvin up to it.

After pulling her shoes from her aching feet and slipping on her comfy house slippers, she came around her closet, which was located in the center of the space and created a division between her living room and kitchen.

Something at the far end of the room caught her eye and surprised a gasp out of her. Next to her neatly made bed was a brand new baby crib. Crossing the room, her first impulse was to worry. This wasn’t the used crib she’d looked at online. She hadn’t mentioned the name of the resale shop in Morehead to James and Vincent. The scent of newness filled the space.

With trembling hands she stroked the beautiful oak grain of the crib. Blue sheets in a cheerful teddy bear print were already on the mattress, and the bumper pad matched. Inside the crib there were packages of waterproof pads, cloth diapers for spills, a fluffy blue teddy bear in the corner.

Taped to the rail of the crib was a blue envelope labeled with her name, in Leah’s cursive handwriting.

“What did they do?” she whispered as she opened the envelope. Her baby boy wiggled and squirmed in her belly as she took a seat in the large, padded rocker she’d found for a steal at a local resale shop. She stroked her abdomen and he quieted down as she read the note inside.

For the peanut,

I hope you like the crib, Sis. It’s solid oak and should last for several of my nephews and nieces. I know you budgeted for a crib and I want you to spend that money on yourself instead. I’ll even help you shop.

                                                                              -Love, Leah


Presley Ann laughed. She still hadn’t decided on a name for the baby so Leah and her men called him peanut. Presley Ann had given it a lot of thought over the months and the right name for her baby hadn’t come to her yet. It was an important decision. A small part of her heart told her it was difficult mainly because she didn’t know his father’s name. Given the choice, she’d at least consider naming him after his father.

After dialing Leah’s number, she put her phone to her ear. When the call connected and Leah’s voice came on the line, Presley Ann said, “I have the best sister ever.”

A giggle sounded over the line. “Why?”

“Because you put that snarling hose-beast in her place today at lunch.”

Snorting laughter sounded in her ear. “Yeah, and she deleted my comment like two seconds later.”

“But not before I saw it. You called her on her hatefulness. You should’ve heard her this afternoon before I went to lunch.”

“I heard about a small portion of it from Evelyn when she came back from lunch. Like I’ve said before, that was our dad’s hire, not mine. Soooo…how’s your evening progressing?”

Presley Ann grinned as she caressed the rails of the crib. “This crib must’ve cost you a mint, not including the new linens.”

“The crib was James and Vincent’s idea. They came today to get the extra key to your apartment from me so they could set it up. I already washed the sheets so they’re ready to use. The mattress is made up with three waterproof pads and three sheets.”

“Leah! That’s expensive.”

“Not really, and it will come in handy if he spits up during the night, or so I’m told. All you have to do is strip one set off and there’s another underneath.”

“It’s beautiful, sis. I love it,” she murmured as tears leaked from her eyes. “I wish I could hug you right now.”

“Oh, stop,” Leah replied, her voice sounding soft and shaky on the line. “I know you’ve told me no but I have to ask one more time. Are you sure you don’t want to stay with us until the baby comes? I worry about you there on your own.”

“Sis, I’m right in town, less than ten minutes away from you, and three minutes away from the hospital.”

“But three minutes away is still a long distance to drive all alone if you’re having contractions. It scares me.”

“I’m strong and I can do it. I’ll go to the hospital when they are five minutes apart so if I time it right I should make it with two minutes to spare,” she said, trying for a joking tone so Leah wouldn’t worry.

“But what if your water breaks, or what if you go straight into active labor. I’ve heard of that happening. What if—”

“Stop, sis. You’re looking at all the worst case scenarios. I’m a big girl and I can do this. You’ll see. It’ll be just fine and we’ll laugh later about all your worries. And besides that, you don’t need a big ol’ pregnant lady waddling around your house getting under foot.”

“Not hardly. You’re always at the store. You should be on maternity leave already. I was watching you rub your lower back all afternoon. I know it’s bothering you.”

Her cheeks grew hot and emotion clogged her throat. “You were watching out for me on the security monitors?”

“Of course.”

“My back is just stiff, that’s all. I’ve been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions and being on my feet just makes it sore and tired, that’s all. I promise I’ll be fine. I should probably be drinking more water, too.” Her back was killing her but she couldn’t stand the thought of Leah worrying like that.

“I can’t convince you to come just until it’s time to go to the hospital? I’m willing to bet it’ll happen any day.”

“Or it could be another two or three weeks. You wouldn’t want me underfoot until Thanksgiving, now would you?”

“Actually, I think it’d be nice.”

“Well, don’t worry, I’ll be there for the holiday one way or the other. You can count on that much, and maybe I’ll have the peanut with me by then.”

“Any closer to deciding a name?”

“No. I may just wait and see what comes to me the first time I hold him.”

Leah chuckled. “That’d drive me insane. Okay, since you won’t come and stay with me just plan on hearing from me every night. Do you have your phone all charged up?”

Looking at the charger cable on the table by her rocker, Presley Ann said, “I’ll put it on the charger as soon as I hang up.”

“Nuh-uh. You can call me overprotective or just understanding of how forgetful pregnant mommy brain has made you lately. Plug it in right now.”

With a snicker and a roll of her eyes, Presley Ann did as her sister directed. “Yes, mother. It’s done now. Happy?”

“Only a little. Don’t forget to drink a glass of water and take your vitamins.”

“You sure do hover a lot, Auntie Leah.”

“Oh hush. I’m making up for lost time. Go look in the fridge.”

“What else have you been up to?”

“Not me, I swear. A little elf has been busy baking, cooking, and shopping for you. Go look.”

She slowly worked her way out of the comfy rocker and padded over to the kitchen on painful feet, heaving a sigh of relief that she’d cleaned out her fridge during a nesting binge the previous weekend. It wouldn’t do for anyone to see how messy it had been.

She pulled open the refrigerator and gasped when she saw containers of her favorite juice, lactose free milk, and yogurt among many other staples stocked up in neat rows on her fridge shelves. Yanking on the freezer door, she squealed when she saw all of the foil-wrapped casserole dishes neatly stacked. She went back to her phone and said, “Lydia came with you?”

“She dropped by earlier because she knew we were here setting up the crib. The container of BlueBell Pumpkin Pie ice cream was my idea. There’s whipped topping in the fridge, too.”

“Sis, I’m just gonna get fatter and fatter at this rate.”

“That’s not why I did it. Ice cream is a good source of calcium. I’ve actually been very relieved to see you eating regular normal meals the last several months. I figured that might be hard for you.”

The laughter was rough in her throat. “You know, honestly, once I came to grips with reality, it wasn’t much of a contest. Even if I wasn’t on my own, it’s what I would do. My head is in a different place now.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know. The whole man-catching thing, stupid as it was, is in the past. It’s me and him now.” She looked down at her large abdomen and grinned when a little elbow stuck out on one side, then he shifted onto her bladder. “Uh-oh, gotta go.”

“You okay?” Leah asked with concern obvious in her voice.

“Yeah. He just bounced on my bladder.”

Leah giggled. “Oh, okay. You sure you don’t want to come with us to supper? Kendry and Jared will be there…” Presley Ann could hear the unvoiced suggestion as her sister’s voice trailed off.

“I really can’t. I need to give my feet and ankles a rest and I have to get some laundry started.”

“Okay, but be careful on the stairs with your baskets. They’re steep and that door is heavy.”

“I know,” she murmured, remembering the day she’d smashed her finger. “Uncle Marvin replaced the back door with one of those heavy metal doors. He says it’s his duty to keep me safe.”

“Uncle Marvin is a sweetheart.”

“Speaking of Uncle Marvin, I got another job today. It’s part time with flexible hours, organizing his office.”

“I’ve seen his office. You’re a brave girl. Okay, go pee. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“I love you, Leah. And thank you, and the guys, for the crib and stuff. I’ll give Lydia a call in a bit to thank her, too.”

After hurrying to the bathroom, she separated the laundry into baskets. Because she’d been on a cleaning tear the last few weeks, the loads weren’t very big which meant less to carry up and down the stairs. She’d never been a compulsive cleaner and attributed it to the nesting instinct. Maybe if she could keep a handle on the laundry she could prove to herself that she could be a good mom. Yeah, that explained why the entire apartment was pristine and sanitary. She was in control of her little corner of the world…for now.

This scene will continue in the next Out-takes installment…

Make sure and come back tomorrow morning for a look at the original first kiss between Presley Ann and her men ♥

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand

Trees covered with hoarfrost and snow in mountains.

Part One: Absentminded Angel Out-takes, Prologue and Chapter One

Out-takes Part One Fashion portrait of nude elegant woman

Author’s Note: This series of blog posts includes out-takes from Absentminded Angel by Heather Rainier. I hope you enjoy them. If you haven’t read Absentminded Angel in its released form, these scenes may be confusing as they were cut from varying places in the story. I’m posting them for the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with Divine, Texas, or would like to become familiar. 😀  My recommendation would be to read Absentminded Angel prior to reading these.

What follows is the original opening of Absentminded Angel. I took readers back to the day Presley Ann gets the piece of news that changes her life forever.





“This can’t be happening,” Presley Ann Woodworth whispered, barely able to get the words out. She broke out in a cold sweat. “This can’t be happening. Are you sure?”

Dr. Emma Rivers patted her shoulder and gave her a compassionate smile. “Very sure. A lot of women don’t notice symptoms for at least a couple more weeks but the tests indicate you’re pregnant. At the next visit you’ll be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat.”

“My baby’s heart—” Her throat closed up as panic tightened its grip and cold chills of shock shimmered across her arms. Her cashmere turtleneck felt like it was choking her.

Doctor Emma laid a form on the examining table and then removed a couple of pamphlets from the drawer by the sink. “I’ll leave these with you to look over once you catch your breath. Stop into the lab next door to our office and they will draw blood for the lab work we need done.”

“Draw blood? Lab work?” She felt like an idiot parroting everything Emma said.

Emma reached for the rolling stool, sat down on it, and scooted over into Presley Ann’s field of vision where she sat in the straight back chair. “You do have options, Presley Ann. We can talk about them at the next visit. Maya specializes in prenatal and maternal care and can also answer your questions if you need to call in after you get home. For now, just take a few minutes and breathe if you need to. We’re in no rush for this room. Just get the blood work taken care of before you leave.”

“That’s probably best, since I’m likely to forget otherwise.”

Emma just smiled and nodded. Presley Ann wanted to cringe as she replayed her words in her mind. What kind of mother forgot to take care of necessary things like blood tests? No. What kind of dingbat, you mean.

Taking a deep breath, Presley Ann rose from the chair, trying to disguise her shock as she adjusted her Coach handbag on her shoulder. Her feet were like ice in her Louboutins and cold sweat trickled at her temples and between her shoulder blades as she followed Doctor Emma out of the exam room and into the hallway.

“Saltines and ginger ale may help with the nausea. Just remember several small meals throughout the day are better than three larger ones.”

Presley Ann didn’t bother asking if two teeny-tiny meals were any better. There went her weight maintenance strategy, a major daily concern up until five minutes ago.

She’d called in earlier that morning for an appointment with Doctor Emma, complaining of nausea and fatigue, thinking she might have the flu. Now here she was. Knocked up.

In a haze, she settled up at the reception counter and mutely nodded when the lady asked if she’d like to set up a time for her first pre-natal appointment. Presley Ann accepted the reminder card the woman filled out for her and then exited the office, stepping out into the atrium that was ringed by other doctor’s offices.

Frosted glass hid the occupants of the waiting room in the dermatology office across the way. Next to it was a pediatrician’s office. Through the tidy, multi-paned windows, children of various sizes could be seen playing with toys or sitting and looking at books in their parents laps in the waiting room.

One young woman sat with a tiny dark-haired infant nestled in a bundle against her chest while her toddler sat looking at a child’s book on her knee. The dark-haired child, obviously the infant’s sibling was chattering non-stop to his mother. And she was surely their mother. There was spit-up staining her shoulder and what looked like wet cracker tangled in the strands of her long curly blonde hair. She looked utterly exhausted, if one was going by the dark circles under her eyes. But then the mother smiled at something the toddler said, and Presley Ann caught a glimpse of something besides the fatigue in her eyes as she stroked the toddler’s cheek. An emotion Presley Ann couldn’t identify.

That mom looked like she didn’t get much sleep but she didn’t seem troubled by it. Presley Ann griped non-stop anytime she had to get up before nine in the morning. Her life had been only about herself up to that morning. I would make a horrible mother.

The mother looked up and their eyes met across the atrium for a split second before Presley Ann looked down at the forms and ordered her feet to put one in front of the other and get her out of there. She didn’t care where.

She wound up in the back entry and her attention was drawn to the fountain located in the midst of crape myrtles that were still dormant from the long winter. Someone had recently tidied up the landscaping and the fountain was already functioning again. Her feet took her to a bench and she plopped down hard on it and was instantly reminded of the nausea when her stomach lurched.

A baby?

She blinked and tears finally overflowed her eyes as she looked down at the forms. Lab work. She’d walked out of the building without stopping at the lab. Feeling wobbly, she put her fingertips to her forehead and they came away damp. It wasn’t hot but the sun shone down on her with intensity that was blinding. Her head began to ache. She needed to get inside in the shade, get the blood work done, and then get a bottle of water so she could take something for her headache.

What can I take for a headache? Is it even safe?


She hurried back inside but groaned when she got to Doctor Emma’s door and saw the sign on it indicating they were out for lunch.

With a shaky sigh, she turned and headed next door. The receptionist at the lab greeted her and took the forms Presley Ann handed her, nodded, and told her the phlebotomist was out to lunch but would return shortly, if she would have a seat and wait.

Presley Ann nodded and walked on wooden legs to the row of cushioned chairs facing the windows and the landscaping beyond. She blinked and her eyes stung as more tears came.

She didn’t know the first thing about being pregnant. Had never wanted to be pregnant. She didn’t even know if she could take an aspirin, for crying out loud. She looked in her handbag, realized she didn’t have any pain relievers in it, but spotted her birth control pill pack.

Zipping the bag, she laid it aside with a wry chuckle. Fat lot of good those had done her. Not that she could blame them. She forgot to take them as often as she remembered and had to double up.

Now look at the fix you’re in, dingbat. You thought you hated your life before.

She sat there for what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes as reality settled heavily on her shoulders. Wracking her brain, she thought back to the last time she’d had sex and let out a long, shaky breath.

“Oh boy.”

The dark blue eyes of a raven-haired cowboy hovered in her memory. She’d met him at O’Reilley’s while waiting for tables to become available. Her dad was supposed to join her and he’d called and cancelled on her because he had to work late. Not a big surprise coming from her dad and she’d decided to stay and eat on her own anyway, since it beat cooking at home alone. Their eyes met across the lobby and the spark between them had been so powerful, so perfect. He’d greeted her and once he found out she was on her own he’d invited her to be his guest at his table for the evening. There was no way perfection like that could last, so she’d refused to give him her name and cut him off gently when he tried to introduce himself. He’d smiled and played along.

“Why did I do that? It was so stupid.” Not only because she was pregnant, either. He’d been different toward her. She had been used to men taking what they wanted, and she was mostly okay with that as long as she got what she needed first.

His hair had been cut short but would be curly if he let it grow longer. His black eyebrows had arched any time he laughed and his neatly trimmed beard had given him a rakish look that reminded her of a pirate. His chest had been broad, covered with a dusting of black hair that had peeked out over the top button of his shirt during that one evening they’d had, until he’d finally taken it off, along with everything else.

His lips were perfect, full and sensual as he’d smiled, and so warm as he’d kissed her all over. His hands had mesmerized her as he’d stroked her flesh, his fingers long and gentle, rough at the very tips.

The night hadn’t ended with dinner, or with their evening spent at the Dancing Pony, and he’d invited her back to his hotel. Perhaps knowing it would end had made the flame burn brighter and stronger, at least in her memory. He’d made love to her with skilled abandon. He’d brought her to orgasm so many times she’d lost count. And when he’d held her afterward, she hadn’t felt used or disappointed. She’d felt a connection with him.

It’d been on the tip of her tongue to tell him her name so that perhaps they might somehow meet again but by then he’d drifted off to sleep, still holding her close. She’d fallen asleep debating about telling him the next morning.

But when she woke, it was to find his note on the pillow next to her, telling her that he’d had a wonderful night and he hoped like crazy that someday his life would bring him back through Divine again. And that maybe then she’d tell him her name.

Crestfallen, she’d showered, dressed, and gone home. The memory of his winsome smile and sparkling eyes created a fresh rush of tears. She wasn’t always the best judge of character but she knew in her heart that he would want to know about his baby.

There had been nobody else for months before him, and nobody else since. Anytime she’d gone out, the men she’d encountered hadn’t measured up to his memory. Yes, he’d want to know. And she had no way to tell him.

An uncomfortable wave of shame wrenched her heart. She scoffed and whispered, “Two ships passing in the night. What an idiotic plan.”



Early April…

Kendry McCulloch’s conscious thoughts floated like a fishing line bobber on currents of sound and light as they neared the surface, able to process neither the sounds nor the sensation. His head…his brain…felt like it was wrapped in cotton, muffling sound and making it impossible to organize thoughts. Then his cognitive bobber popped to the surface.

Beep. Beep. 

He was chilled. His eyelids felt like they were stuck together and he felt powerless to open them.

“There he is,” an approving feminine voice said as it moved around the room. The deep reply was muffled so he couldn’t make out the words that were uttered. Distant sounds of an intercom echoed but made no sense either.

“I’ll let his doctor know.”

His hands felt stiff when he clenched them and they moved toward his torso seemingly of their own volition as he took a deep but shaky breath. A gentle hand stayed his as he clutched the soft material at his chest.

“Steady there, Mr. McCulloch. You’re in the hospital, remember?”


He remembered. Surgery. A heart. Finally.

He was finally able to break the seal on his eyelids and his eyes teared a little as he blinked and saw the double image of a female face and form bending over his bed, smiling at him. No angel wings on her back. No heavenly chorus or blinding lights. He had a new definition for the word awesome. “Your surgery went just fine, Mr. McCulloch. Your brother is here with you.”

“Hey,” the familiar voice of his brother came to him from the other side of the bed and he took another deep breath as he turned his head. His eyes finally focused in the dim room on Jared’s familiar face.

“Hey.” His voice sounded rusty and distorted.

Jared pulled up a chair and sat down. The beeping of monitors and the sounds of a voice on the intercom in the hallway broadcast again and Jared’s unshaven face came sharply into view as the curtains of anesthesia parted completely and reality slipped in.

“You’re gonna scare all the nurses with that wolfman look.”

Jared grinned widely. “Are you kidding? Several of them gave me their phone numbers already. One told me I’m worthy of a romance novel cover. You, on the other hand, look like hammered hell.”

He felt tired and out of it but the bone crushing weakness and unrelenting cold in his extremities caused by poor circulation from a dying heart was gone. “It worked?”

Jared’s face broke into a relieved smile and his eyes got shiny. He swallowed hard and nodded. “Yeah. It worked.” His hand was practically crushed in Jared’s grip as he looked away briefly and nodded. “It worked.” Relief was in every syllable.

Kendry’s eyelids grew heavy again but he smiled and said, “I wish I could thank them…”

“Who? The doc will be here in a few minutes.”

“No, whoever it belonged to before…” Sleep enveloped him again.

Chapter One



“Hope you weren’t expecting a baby shower, cuz. I mean, I can chip in for cheapo diapers if necessary but…” Willie said as she grabbed up an armful of blouses off of the fully loaded rolling rack and hung them en masse on the round display rack, leaving them all askew on their hangers. “Baby showers should be reserved for moms who get their wedding rings on the right side of the pregnancy test, you know? Straighten those blouses for me, will you?”

Her job had been ever so much fun since her cousin, Wilhelmina Perkins, better known as Willie had come to work at Stigall’s earlier in the summer.

Presley Ann imagined a flame thrower in her hands. Willie wore so much hair spray in her hair that it was liable to combust if someone so much as flicked a lighter at it. And she was mean. “I can buy my own diapers, thank you very much. And you made a mess of the blouses. Straighten them yourself. I didn’t need any help over here.” At least not from you, heifer.

“I was told you needed help over here. So here I am, helping you do your job. You can’t lift your arms above your shoulders so I’m doing the bulk of the work. Least you can do is go behind me and fix them.”

I’d like to go behind you and plant my foot in your hateful ass. “Who told you I can’t lift my arms?”

Willie rolled her eyes and scoffed at Presley Ann. “Dummy, you can’t lift your arms over shoulder height because it might wrap the cord around the baby’s neck.” A customer in the nearby juniors department looked Willie’s way and rolled her eyes.

Presley Ann burst into laughter and her baby boy wiggled in interest at the sound as she caressed her burgeoning abdomen. “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, Willie. You should lower your voice and stop repeating old wives’ tales as though they were medical fact or people will think you’re a hick.”

Willie curled her lip. “I’m not the one who’s knocked up and two steps away from trailer trash. Like I said, I hope you don’t think you’re getting a baby shower out of this out-of-wedlock pregnancy.”

Feeling her heart racing, Presley Ann knew when she was being baited. Willie was not worth the escalation in her blood pressure. “Your concern is heart-warming, cousin, but I’m perfectly capable of doing my job, including lifting my arms over my head. And I don’t need a baby shower. I’ll be ready with all the necessities when this baby is born later this month.” She was proud that she’d managed to get together most of the basics for her baby, plus build up an emergency fund in the last eight months. Things weren’t perfect but she was hopeful. Evelyn and Leah had offered to throw her a shower but she’d turned them down. She didn’t feel like sharing that information with Willie. Willie would just turn it around and tell her how ungrateful she was.

Willie scoffed. “That Prada diaper bag is gonna set you back a pretty penny. You sure about that, cousin?”

Willie’s comment didn’t even deserve a response. Presley Ann was getting good at overlooking or ignoring hateful remarks like that. Because there was a time when she might’ve thought she deserved baby showers and things like designer diaper bags, she also felt that in some small way she deserved the catty remark. She could probably cover four or five months’ rent with what it would cost to buy a Prada diaper bag and cringed again at the kind of money she’d spent blindly over the years.

“I’ll bet you’re going to have to buy a whole new wardrobe once you have that baby,” Willie said as she dug a fingernail into her ear and looked Presley Ann up and down.

Presley Ann lifted a handful of the blouses from the trolley and began arranging them on the rack and straightening the ones Willie had mussed. “Why do you say that?” She knew exactly why Willie said that and wished Willie would go back to wherever she’d come from and leave her alone.

“There’s no way that fancy designer wardrobe will ever fit you again, you’ve put on so much baby weight. You’d have to work out nonstop and there won’t be any time for that once that baby comes. Since you got pregnant you’ve ballooned. Those fancy designers don’t make clothes in plus sizes, you know.”

Presley Ann breathed slowly, trying to find her Zen happy place by imagining her baby boy’s face. Willie didn’t need to know that Presley Ann had already sold every stitch of designer clothing and all of her designer purses, shoes, and accessories to a designer resale boutique in San Antonio months ago. She was being careful moneywise since she’d need to shop for clothing once the baby arrived and she knew what size she’d be. In truth, she was surprised she wasn’t completely freaked out by the thought of moving up a few sizes but Doctor Emma said she was doing fine and her baby was healthy. She had more important issues to deal with than whether or not her thigh gap was really gone for good.

“I’ll worry about that when the time comes, Willie.”

“Yeah, that’s what they all say. Next thing you know, you’ve been carrying the baby weight for ten years. Mark my words, the best thing you could do is give it up for adoption. I even know a couple who might be willing to take it off your hands—”

Presley Ann froze and met Willie’s hateful brown gaze from across the rack. “My baby is not an “it”. I think it’s time for you to go back to whatever department you came from.”

An elderly customer meandered into the Misses department and Presley Ann drew in a deep breath and smiled as she recognized the lady.

Willie brushed past her, barely missing jabbing her abdomen with an elbow as she called out, “Oh hello, Mrs. Porter! How can I help you today? We have a sale on those blouses you liked so much last week—”

“Thank you, Wilhelmina. I wanted to visit with Presley Ann. Would you mind letting Evelyn know that I’m here to take her to lunch?” Charlene Porter said with dismissal clear in her eyes and tone.

Willie’s jaws flapped for a second and she frowned. Her dark bushy eyebrows drew together in the fuzzy caterpillar look that was so common among the Woodworth men, as well as Wilhelmina’s mother, Presley Ann’s aunt. Willie nodded and reluctantly left to do the venerable Mrs. Porter’s bidding. Her husband was the local Justice of the Peace and highly thought of in the community. Willie wouldn’t dare do other than what she bid her to do, not if she wanted future business from Mrs. Porter.

Presley Ann threaded her way carefully through the rows of racks, which were full with merchandise for the approaching Christmas season. “Hello, Mrs. Porter. How are you and Mr. Porter doing?”

“We’re doing beautifully, dear. How many times do I have to remind you to call me Charlene?”

Presley Ann laughed and said, “I’m sorry…Charlene.”

“How’s our little man these days?” Charlene asked as she gathered Presley Ann to her for a hug.

“He’s been very wiggly today. Dr. Rivers said he could come anytime.”

Mrs. Porter’s eyebrows shot up. “Should you be on your feet so much?”

Presley Ann rubbed her lower back when it gave a slight twinge and said, “I prefer staying busy and keeping my energy level up with activity, you know? I think if I was at home I’d just sit and stew.” And I need the income.

“Oh, that wouldn’t be good either. When do you take your lunch?”

“In a few minutes.”

A big smile spread on Mrs. Porter’s face. “Well then, that’s just perfect. Allow Evelyn and me to take you out to lunch. I’m in love with the new chicken salad plate at Rosalie’s Café.”

A blush spread heat across her cheeks as she replied, “Oh, Mrs. Porter—I mean Charlene, I couldn’t intrude.”

“It would be no intrusion at all, dear,” Evelyn said as she made her way through the racks. “We would love to take you to lunch. You can finish the rest of that trolley when we get back.”

“Well…if it’s no imposition, I’d love to.” No adult in her life, besides her dad, had ever invited her out to lunch before. “Let me just push it off to the side so it’s not in the way.”

“I’ll help, dear,” Evelyn said as she took hold of the back while Presley Ann guided the front of the trolley around to an open spot against a wall near the dressing rooms. “It should be fine here. One thing, Presley Ann. You might be careful how much information you share with Wilhelmina.”

Mrs. Porter harrumphed as she drew close and said, “That young woman is every bit as bad as her mother. Interfering harridan.”

Presley Ann groaned, recalling Wilhelmina’s domineering mother’s attempts at helping her husband hunt under the guise of finding her temp jobs. Even though Lydia Carlisle had forgiven her, it still shamed her that she’d gone along with that attempt to snare one of the Carlisle brothers. She certainly hadn’t been showing her best side or good character. The memory made her heart heavy. “You can’t choose your family, right?”

“Too true,” Evelyn said with a wry smile. “She’s a talker, that one. I’m glad Leah sees through her obsequious attitude.”

“What do you mean?” Presley Ann asked softly as the ladies came close.

Evelyn shushed her as Willie walked past, eyeing them suspiciously, and then said, “Go get your purse and we’ll tell all.”

Presley Ann grinned and nodded. As she waddled slowly down the main aisle to the back of the store she smiled to herself. Her friendship with Evelyn had blossomed in the last eight months to what it should’ve been all her life because that was how long she’d known Evelyn.

She’d never had any good friends, much less close ones. She’d always thought friendships were just too much work. Too much mindreading necessary. Too much cattiness and too many head games. That’s why she’d never been friends with Willie. She’d given up early on and learned to make her own self happy.

After grabbing her purse, she was walking back up the aisle when she encountered James and Vincent Elder, her still somewhat new brothers-in-law. They were both dressed for work in their police officer uniforms.

“Hey, sweetie!” James said with a big smile as he opened his arms and she went right to him. “You doing okay today? How are you feeling?”

Happiness fizzed in her chest as she hugged him back and then returned Vincent’s gentle hug as well. “I’m just fine. Hey, I was wondering if I could get some help from you gentlemen.”

“Whatever you need, just ask.” Vincent said easily.

“I found a good used crib at a baby resale store in Morehead. I looked at the picture of it online and I think it might work, once it’s cleaned up. More importantly, the price is right.”

James and Vincent shared a brief look and a smile and then said. “Let us know when you want to get it and we’ll take the truck and help you with it. Is it already put together?”

Presley Ann bit her lip and said, “That’s part of what I wanted to ask you about. The lady said it’s in several pieces, and it comes ‘as is’. She can’t vouch for whether all the hardware is with it or not.”

James nodded and said, “Just tell us when. I’m sure we can improvise if there’s hardware missing.”

“Thank you. Are you here to see Leah?”

“Yeah, we’re taking her on a picnic at the park,” Vincent replied with a grin.

What was it like to be with two such thoughtful men? She was happy for her sister. She’d waited a long time to find her happiness and it still saddened Presley Ann that their threesome might’ve been a foursome if fate hadn’t intervened when James and Vincent’s brother, Patterson, had been fatally injured in a motorcycle accident the previous spring.

Life was hard sometimes. She wondered yet again how it would be for her son growing up with his father missing from his life. Often she wondered what had become of that sweet cowboy and if they might ever meet again.

“Well, you go have fun. I’d like to try and get the crib in the next couple of days if I can. I’ll call you?”

“Sounds good,” James said with a nod and then grinned big. “Hey, you might be happy to know that Kendry and Jared McCulloch made it official.”

Her heart skipped a beat at the mention of their names. “Made what official?”

“They’re moving to Divine. All the visiting they’ve been doing has them convinced that this is where they belong.”

Kendry and his brother Jared had come to Divine during the summer to meet James and Vincent. Kendry’s life had been saved earlier that year when his number had come up on the heart transplant list and the heart he’d received had been their brother Patterson’s. In Presley Ann’s eyes, Patterson took the term “hero” to a whole new level because his decision to donate his organs if he died had led to numerous lives being saved or made better.

Heat blossomed in Presley Ann’s core as she thought of the handsome McCulloch brothers. Her heart palpitated every time she remembered the kind way they’d treated her when they were around her, like she was made of glass. Always making sure to speak to her when they were around her. They obviously felt sorry for her. It was dangerous to think about them but she couldn’t help it.

They made her feel twittery which made her feel embarrassed, which made her blush, which made her feel even more embarrassed. The part that surprised her though was that she’d never acted that way around any other man before, even the father of her baby. He’d brought the boldness out in her while Kendry and Jared made her want to hide. When they looked at her, she wondered if they could tell what she was thinking. She had no business thinking those thoughts, however. She had to stay focused on learning to be a good mom and not get sidetracked by romantic fantasies.

“I’m glad to hear they’re making the move. Abilene is losing two good firefighters, I’m sure. When are they moving?”

“Soon. They’re here today looking for a place to live. They’ve already hired on at the fire station in town. I think that was in the works last time they visited.”

Oh boy.

That information made her quiver a little. The central fire station in Divine was located directly across the street from Batson’s Grocers, Divine Auto Repair, and Marvin’s Computer Service…and her little apartment located above Marvin’s.

“That’s great news. I imagine you two must be hungry. The last time I saw Leah, she was in the stockroom, working with the receiving manager, trying to get the most recent delivery in the back door.”

Vincent’s eyes widened. “She’s moving boxes?”

Presley Ann chuckled and said, “No, she was giving orders.”

Both men laughed and reminded her to call them when she was ready to get the crib. The crib might possibly fit in her car in its disassembled state but she knew there was no way she could unload it and get it up the steep stairs to her apartment. It wasn’t worth the risk. And with her luck, she’d probably wind up shredding the cloth upholstery of her older Toyota Camry.

After her dad had insisted on fixing the air conditioner and the fuel pump in her Mercedes coupe, he’d assisted her in finding a buyer for it and then put out feelers for a good used four door car. She’d drawn the line at him contributing toward the cost of it. In the end, they’d found a reliable car that would get good gas mileage. She’d made an offer, which the seller had accepted. She’d had sufficient money from the sale of her Mercedes to cover the cost plus enough to buy new tires for it.

Her dad had wanted to give her one of several cars he owned but she’d refused him outright, saying he couldn’t keep swooping in saving her. It was enough that he would keep her on his insurance and that he was covering her medical expenses, and even those, she paid for herself whenever she could, without telling him.

After saying good-bye to the men, she went on her way to the front, rubbing her lower back which ached and felt stiff all the time now. She drew a deep breath, trying to feel grateful that her pregnancy had been uncomplicated, according to Emma, and her baby was right on schedule developmentally.

At Rosalie’s, the ladies clucked over her like mother hens as she eased into the seat, her enlarged tummy keeping her from getting very close to the table.

After they’d looked over the menu, Presley Ann said, “Okay, now tell me what you were being so hush-hush about. You said Leah sees through Willie’s obsequious attitude.”

Evelyn cleared her throat and frowned. “When she came to the office to let me know Charlene was here, I heard her tell Leah that every time she turns around you’re loafing around or talking, in other words not doing your job.”

Charlene sipped her sweet tea and then said, “I can’t say I’m surprised. I think that in her mind, because she is family, she’s jockeying for a position of authority.”

Evelyn scoffed. “I’ve seen that, too.”

Charlene replied, “That one is trouble. She’s the type that likes to keep the ugly gossip going. She is what my mother would’ve called a little pot-stirrer. She likes to stir trouble up just so she can watch the resulting fireworks. She was baiting Presley Ann when I walked into the store earlier.”

A blush heated Presley Ann’s cheeks. “You heard her?”

Charlene patted Presley Ann’s hand and said, “Her voice carries so I heard the last part of what she said. I couldn’t hear your reply but I saw the look on your face. You mustn’t let her destroy your happiness, sweetheart. Lord knows it’s hard enough to find in this world. She’s only happy when others are miserable. Now, I’m curious, Evelyn. What did Leah say when she told her that Miss Presley Ann here was sluffing off?”

Evelyn snorted with laughter. “Leah cut her off and told her that even nine months pregnant you could work circles around your cousin.”

Presley Ann almost dropped her fork and her jaw practically hit the table. “She did not.”

Evelyn grinned at her and said, “She did. Leah knows how hard you work. Wilhelmina has always been trouble, even as a child. And I doubt Doug would’ve pushed Leah to hire Wilhelmina if his sister Dorothy hadn’t called in a favor. He’d do anything for family.”

Presley Ann nodded, a bittersweet ache in her heart, thinking of her dad telling her that he thought her situation was partly his fault. Like he’d somehow been responsible for her poor decision making abilities. But he was a sweetheart and an old softy.

Their food arrived and as they ate and shared the latest news, Evelyn said, “I’ve heard that the McCulloch brothers are moving to Divine.”

Presley Ann nodded. “James and Vincent mentioned that just a few minutes ago. I knew they’d talked about it the last time they were here. That’s good news, I suppose.”

“Very good news, I think. I have a good feeling about those two,” Evelyn said and then filled in Charlene on their unusual relationship with the Elder brothers. “I rather like the thought of Patterson’s heart still being around, causing mischief.”

Presley Ann smiled, also happy that Leah had been able to move on with James and Vincent after the heartbreak she’d suffered over losing Patterson. Presley Ann couldn’t imagine what it was like, being bonded to two men, being loved by two men.

Well, yeah, actually you can, but it’s just a fantasy.

Evelyn pulled out her smartphone and said, “Time for a selfie, girls. Here, Presley Ann, you do the honors. My arms are too short.”

Presley Ann giggled and took the picture with the ladies and then handed it to Evelyn. After a few seconds of fiddling with the phone, Evelyn let out an uncharacteristic growl.

“What’s the matter?” Presley Ann asked as she leaned closer. “Having trouble uploading it?”

“No,” Evelyn said, “I posted it on Facebook. It’s your cousin that has me perturbed.”

Now curious, Presley Ann took out her own phone and checked her newsfeed.

“It’s not worth looking at, dear. That cousin of yours is the queen of passive-aggressive posting.”

Presley Ann chuckled and said, “Now I have to see what she said.” Her heart pounded as Willie’s post popped up and she read it out loud. “She just posted this a couple of minutes ago. It says, “Pet Peeve #28: The way some people take advantage of me. They get help and are they grateful? No. They act like they are entitled to everything when all they actually are is spoiled and relying on their daddy’s wealth. I’m not knocked up trailer trash. And some other people need to mind their own—” Presley Ann paused and coughed and then amending the message for Evelyn and Charlene’s sake. “Eff-ing business and keep their hurtful opinions to themselves before they wind up on their asses when I get sick and tired of being told what to do.”

Charlene growled a little, too, and said, “Evelyn, isn’t she still on the clock?”

“Mmm-hmm,” Evelyn said as she put her coffee cup to her lips as she tapped at her phone screen. “I just passed her helpful hint on to Leah.”

Comments began to pop up to Willie’s post. Dorothy Perkins, Willie’s mother, commented about how some people needed to be taken down a notch. Several other people commented who obviously had no idea who Willie was actually talking about. Presley Ann felt lucky she didn’t have anything in her mouth or she would’ve choked when Leah’s comment popped up.

“Pet Peeve #29: People who have a problem with me but are too chickenshit to say it to my face. You’re still on the clock. Get off your phone and come to my office if you have something you need to say to me. Otherwise get back to work.”

Evelyn chuckled when the comment evidently popped up on her screen and she said, “I wonder how long it will take Willie to delete Leah’s comment? Oh…not long at all.”

Charlene snorted and shook her head. “That young woman is a chip off her mother’s old block. All one has to do is look in her eyes and see what a miserable person she is.”

Presley Ann shrugged. “She was partially right. My dad is taking care of most of my medical expenses.”

Evelyn put a warm hand on her forearm. “When George and I were first married, we lived with my parents while we saved up for a down payment on a house. Then I got pregnant and what had been a temporary situation turned into eight long years when he was drafted. My parents were happy to have us there, sharing the burden, and my father said he worried less about me, because I was with them, when George was overseas. What you think of as being a burden may actually be doing your father some good. You just take care of you and that little baby and don’t worry about the opinions of dried up old biddies and their boorish daughters.”

She gasped when Evelyn slid a small envelope across the table with her wizened little hand. “This is from Charlene, Woody, George, and me. Now, no fussing, Presley Ann. You refused when we tried to put together a baby shower for you last month, so we just pooled our resources and got this for you.”

Biting her lip, Presley Ann lifted the flap on the envelope and saw a gift card from a large discount warehouse store located out on the Interstate. “You shouldn’t have.”

Charlene giggled and said, “Oh yes we should have. We all know what it’s like to be on a tight budget with a baby on the way. It’s not as much as we’d like it to be but it should buy you some diapers or other things you might need.”

Blinking back tears, Presley Ann reached out and covered their hands where they rested on the table with her own and whispered, “Thank you.”

She’d argued with her dad over providing the baby diapers on several occasions, telling him that she could provide for her baby. He’d insisted, saying her mother would be so upset with him if he didn’t help her in some way, as if he wasn’t already doing enough. Since she’d refused the car he offered, she had to allow him to pay for her diapers. In the end, she’d won the argument when she’d told him to invest the money in Whit’s college fund so he could have his pick of universities when he was ready. Her father, ever a practical man, had finally thrown in the towel. Her son would have an education and she would keep his little bum covered. Everyone was happy.

“Now, what are your plans for day care, sweetheart?” Charlene asked, blinking back a few tears herself.

“I looked at several daycare centers in the area but I didn’t have any luck finding something I could reasonably afford. I was nearing the panic stage when Leah told me that she’d heard Margie’s daughter has a small baby, too, and needed a job that would allow her to stay home to help Margie out. She and her mother live near Dad so I’ll be taking the baby out to her place every day that I work in the store.”

Margie was a former Stigall’s employee who had struggled in recent years after her husband, a disgruntled ex-employee of Stigall’s had been arrested and sent to prison for coming into the store with a loaded weapon and shooting the place up. Margie and her kids had always been sweet, and with her husband behind bars and likely to stay there for many years, Presley Ann felt like the choice was a good one.

“Well, that’s perfect!” Charlene said as she clapped her hands.

Perfect? Not hardly. “I still wish I didn’t have to leave him with anyone at all.”

Presley Ann couldn’t shake the feeling that at least in part she deserved Willie’s criticism, however harsh and uncalled for in a public forum it might be. She was knocked up and she was receiving help from her father. She just didn’t know what else to do, besides work every chance she got.


Be watching for the next out take post tomorrow morning at 7 AM Central

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand!



Coming Soon: Out-Takes from Absentminded Angel

In other words, stuff that I just couldn’t leave on the editing room floor.

What do you do when you open an erotic romance with an imminently expectant heroine? Slow build-up, for starters. In my case, I originally started Presley Ann Woodworth’s tale, Absentminded Angel, in the days leading up to the delivery of her infant son, Whit. me-hr-dcr-absentmindedangel-full

I’m a pantser, so in those opening chapters I wove in a lot of character development and worked toward the point where her romance with Kendry and Jared McCulloch would take off and the heat would follow thereafter.

During the pre-submission clean-up, after the book was finished, I realized that readers had a prologue and several chapters of build-up to read prior to the baby ever arriving. The problem there is that she would still have a postpartum recovery to get through. Pacing became a concern and I very carefully wielded the scalpel to streamline the story.

I could’ve risked that readers wouldn’t mind reading those chapters to get to the romance and heat but I opted to cut them in order to get to the action in the story. My rationale was that after release, if I felt like readers were open to reading the out-takes I could always post them on my blog for free.

I asked my street team, the Divine Divas, a wonderful supportive group of ladies on Facebook, what they thought about going back to read them, after they’d read the book. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so here I am.

Because they’re pre-submission out-takes, readers should be aware that while they’ve been beta-read, they have not been line-edited. There may be grammar or punctuation typos that they’ll have to overlook.

There are also bits of content that may seem at odds with the released version. A good example of this is Presley Ann’s Uncle Marvin. In the original story, he figured much more prominently, at least in the beginning. Readers of the out-takes will get a clear look at her relationship with him. There is also the original first scene between Presley Ann, Kendry, and Jared. It’s is a funny, sweet, and hot scene and was probably the hardest one to cut, but was necessary.

Readers may also spot short sections that look familiar because I lifted them from the cut portions and woven them into the manuscript elsewhere. An example would be the description of Whit’s father, True, and character development involving Kendry and Jared. These aren’t pervasive, but they are there.

As with the books, I own the copyright on these out-takes.

The out-takes file is sitting at 54 pages right now (about 25,000 words) It’s obviously too long to comprise one blog post so I’m breaking it into five chapter-length sections and will be scheduling posts at regular intervals. I won’t make you wait long in between.

If you enjoy them, please consider sharing the link to the blog/website with your fellow erotic romance lovers, and tell them about the Divine Creek Ranch Collection.

Expect the first installment later tonight. Sign up for my blog posts via e-mail and it’ll show up in your inbox the moment it posts.

Thank you for visiting. I look forward to sharing more with you from in Divine, Texas.

Visit my Author page at Siren-BookStrand

Absentminded Angel will be available exclusively at Siren-BookStrand until around the middle of January, after which it will be uploaded to Amazon, B&N, and other legitimate retail outlets.

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It’s A Very Woobie Christmas in Divine, Texas

Christmas Tree Next To Fireplace

Doing her best to not be obvious,

Grace Warner caught her sister Charity’s eye and then looked across the room at Jessica Bright, who was sitting backed into a corner by herself. The lonely optometrist gazed down into her glass of punch and she smiled wanly at Ethan when he spoke with her before going up the stairs to change baby Grant’s diaper. Normally the kids would be in bed by that hour but there was no point with the house full of people and Santa coming the following morning. Maybe the kids would let them sleep in a little if they went to bed late.

Yeah. Right. It’d be nice if it worked that way.

“What’s up with Jessica?”

Charity asked as she came over and leaned against the kitchen island and slid close enough so they couldn’t be overheard. “She looks ready to bolt.”

“I’m wondering the same thing. She’s closer to the front door every time I look her way.”

Charity snorted and replied, “Are Tank and Troy coming? They’ll coax her into staying, I bet.”

Jessica looked up just then and seemed to rightly guess she was the topic of discussion. She glanced across the room and then set her punch glass on a nearby table.

“Oh no you don’t, girlie,” Grace said as she and Charity both skirted the crowd and caught up with the shy brunette as she approached Val Teller and Ransome Cross, who were taking turns holding her daughter, little baby Bella.

Val blew kisses against Bella’s chubby little neck before easing her into Jessica’s arms as he said,

“You’re not leaving already, are you Jessica? The party just started.”

Jessica gave all of them a halfhearted smile and said, “It’s been a long day and I need to get her into a bath and then into bed.”

Grace smiled at the guys, made their excuses, and then she and Charity pulled Jessica down the hall that led back to Adam and Ethan’s old bedrooms where they could speak privately.

“Okay, ‘fess up,” Charity said as she took Bella into her arms and began swaying with her.

Jessica drew a deep breath and gave a heavy exhale. “I just don’t have the Christmas spirit.”

Grace patted her shoulder and commiserated. “When was the last time you had a good sleep?” The dark circles under Jessica’s eyes told Grace what she already knew.

“I can’t remember. Building up a clientele, caring for Bella on my own, insomnia…and the holiday blues just seem to make it worse.” Grace knew that Jessica didn’t have any family still alive. She was on her own. Lydia had already told her that she and Chance and Clayton were having Jessica and the baby over for Christmas morning. The last thing she needed was to be alone if she was feeling this way. “I wish you’d stay a little longer, Jess,” Grace said. “The guests haven’t even finished arriving yet.”

“That’s right,” Charity agreed. “Tank and Troy should be here soon.”

“Yeah, I gotta go.” Jessica said as she suddenly slipped past them with the baby in her arms.

“But—” Grace held up a hand to stop her but she was down the hall in a flash. They caught up with her just as the front door swung open and let in a frigid gust of air.

“Ho-Ho-Ho!” Tank called as he and Troy piled in and shut the door behind them.

Greetings were called back from the big crowd as Tank and Troy shucked their heavy coats. They turned to hang them on the coat rack, and their faces lit up when they saw Jessica and the baby.

“Hey, there!” Tank said as he reached up to tickly Bella’s chin and Grace noticed the fresh bandage wrapped around his hand.

“Tank, what happened?” she asked, and Jessica groaned softly.

Grace could practically feel the stress radiating off of Jessica.

“Just a little accident,” Tank replied with a shrug before flicking a concerned gaze at Jessica, who looked ready to pass out. “You okay, honey?”

Charity slipped an arm through Jessica’s and gave Grace a big-eyed look. “Oh, she’s fine. We were just headed down the hall to change Bella’s diaper.”

“In her coat?”

Grace giggled and said, “We’ll be right back.”

They ushered Jessica into Ethan’s bedroom and urged her to sit down. Charity sat beside her as Grace took the baby from her and snuggled the precious little girl against her chest. Charity said, “Tell us what happened.”

“I stabbed him!”

Jessica said and then her face crumpled and she hid it in her hands.

“What?” Charity said, giving a half-laugh. That was the last thing either of them had expected her to say.

“I stabbed him with my stylus.”

Charity snorted and said, “This I gotta hear. Start from the beginning.”

“They stopped by the office, both of them, to see if I was coming tonight.”

Amusement lacing her voice, Charity said, “That hardly seems cause for stabbing Tank.”

“The receptionist knew we are—were friends, knew we knew each other, and she let them into my office. I got up—oh my gosh, it was awful.”

“Keep talking then. Get it off your chest.”

“I was working on my tablet, and I had a stylus, the kind with a pointy end in my hand. I was startled when I heard their voices. They’re so big and they make me so nervous. Anyway, I jumped up, and I was wearing high heels—new ones.

When I got up from my desk, one of my heels slid right out from under me.

They jumped at me to catch me as I flung my arms wide, trying to get my balance, and well…”

“You stabbed him?” Grace said, and Jessica’s face fell and she moaned into her hands again.


Grace jiggled Jessica’s wrist until she looked up at them and said, “Jess, those two hunks looked happy to see you—and a little concerned about you. Don’t you think you could stay just for a little while?”


“You can hang out with us. We were about to come and get you when you started scooting for the door. You can visit with us. Who knows, you might have a good time. And I think it’s a safe bet those guys don’t want you to feel bad about what happened.”

“Grace, I didn’t just jab him, I impaled his poor hand.

I thought I was gonna pass out. He told me it was okay and that he would go to the clinic. I just can’t believe I did that.”

“It was an accident, sweetie. Now, tell me again,” Grace began, determined to get Jessica back on the right track, “Why were they at the optometrist’s office?”

Jessica looked down at her hands and paused. “To make sure I was coming over here tonight.”

Charity made a pushy affirmative sound. “Mmmhmm. They wanted you to be here and I know you were looking forward to this earlier today. How are you doing with the crowd and noise?”

Given Jessica’s dark past, Grace knew that certain situations caused anxiety and she couldn’t blame her. She’d been held captive and kept as a slave for several months before being saved by Charity’s husbands, Val and Ransome.

Jessica swallowed and said, “When everyone is talking all at once, it gets a little hard to keep my nerves under control, but Bella is a good distraction.”

“Okay, then that’s it. You’re hanging out with us,” Grace said.

Jessica rose from the edge of the bed and slipped her coat back off. “Okay, if you don’t mind. I feel pathetic, like I need a babysitter or something.”

“Not at all. We introverts have to unite. Remember? “We came. We’re uncomfortable. And we want to go home!” Her mission was accomplished when Jessica chuckled and nodded

Charity scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Introvert my ass.”

“Hey, it’s true. Not all introverts are shy,”

Grace said as she pulled open the bedroom door.

When they went out into the expansive living room, the group was embroiled in a game of Pictionary. Lucy Owen was drawing out her clue on a whiteboard while everyone on her team called out answers.

Teresa Martinez joined them and asked to hold the baby and the four of them sat in the barstools at the kitchen island. Teresa cooed at Bella as she held her and Grace nudged Jessica and pointed across the room. “They’re so cute.”

Looking in the direction she gestured, Jessica smiled and nodded. Gwen Alvarez sat with her husbands, Julian Alvarez and Chris Potter. More precisely, she sat in Chris’s lap while flirting with him and Julian, who sat next to him. Gwen’s baby bulge was just beginning to show and might’ve been overlooked altogether is Chris hadn’t been gently rubbing it while they all talked with each other.

“What a sweet woobie,” Teresa said as she looked in the same direction.

Grace nodded as Charity gave her a surreptitious nudge and then said, “Total woobie. He’s so sweet to her, and then there Julian is, all hot, sexy cowboy man candy goodness. She’s got the best of both worlds and two men who adore her. But Chris? That man is pure sugar.”

“What’s a woobie?” Jessica asked as she looked back at them.

Grace clandestinely pointed at Chris. “That’s a woobie. And that, and that, and that, and that,” she said as she pointed around the room at all the Divine woobies. Adam Grant. Eli Wolf. Richard Warner. Kemp Whittier. Seth Carter. Spencer Ketchum. Lastly, she indicated Tank and Troy, who were busy watching Beck O’Malley give the next Pictionary clue.

“What? Big guys?” Jessica asked, and Grace noticed that her eyes were on the two big, sexy, ginger hunks. Tank happened to glance back at them, caught them looking at him, and Grace giggled when high color rose in his tanned cheeks and his ears turned a little red.

Charity gigglesnorted and said, “Ah, yes, there it is, that sweet ginger blush.”

Jessica looked down at her hands and her own cheeks grew a little rosy as she said, “He hates that his skin does that. He told me it doesn’t matter how tan he gets, his face still turns red at the drop of a hat.”

“A ginger woobie,” Teresa said as she bounced Bella on her knee. “He helped me last week when I was stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. I explained that Angel and Joaquin were on the way and he and Troy insisted they could take care of changing the flat for them.”

Grace grinned and said, “Lydia told me that she encountered a rattlesnake on her back porch, and within seconds of calling out, they were there with a garden hoe.”

Jessica looked from one to the other of them as they laid it on super thick for a minute or two and then finally held up her hand.

“Okay. Okay. So they’re big, and good in a tight spot.”

Charity snorted and started laughing so hard Grace thought she might fall off of her stool. Guests even looked over from the other room.

Jessica gasped and put her hand to her cheek as if what she’d said had just dawned on her. “Oh! You know what I mean!” But then she started giggling, too. Grace noticed that the laughter seemed to ease her stress a little.

They chortled for another minute and then Grace tipped her chin in Chris’s direction. “Chris, and all the other woobies are gentle giants, you’re right about that, Jess. But they’re also really lavish with affection on their women, and they don’t mind if everyone knows the sun and moon sets over their woman’s head.” She let loose a long, soft sigh, as she thought of the gentle lovemaking Adam had lavished on her that morning. “They give great hugs, lots of kisses…”

Teresa echoed her soft sigh.

“And they’re really protective, especially when their woman is hurting. And as gentle as they are with their women, they can be very harsh with those who hurt them.”

Grace glanced over at Teresa as she gazed at her husbands, Angel and Joaquin, but thought she was elsewhere, and Grace said, “Hey, have y’all heard from Luka and Matthias?”

“No. I told you that you could invite them to this party if you wanted to.” Unspoken but obvious in Teresa’s eyes was the fact that she was still hurt by the part her younger brothers-in-law had played in the extensive damage done to her home while Teresa and their family had been away on a trip to see the men’s parents in the valley.

“I tried. Luka didn’t answer when I called him. And Matthias gave me some vague story about having plans already.”

“I told Angel and Joaquin that I’d forgiven them.

It’s not like I could stay mad at them forever.”

Charity hmphed. “I still want to kick both of their asses on your behalf.”

Grace chuckled. “Down girl.” She turned to Teresa and murmured, “They’ll find their way back eventually. And they’re really lucky to have such a forgiving sister-in-law.” Grace secretly still wanted to kick their asses, too.

Teresa smiled at her friends and said, “So now you know what woobies, are, huh, Jessica?”

“I guess.”

Grace nudged her and said, “I think the best thing about our woobies is that they have great big soft hearts and taking care of us brings them a lot of joy.”

Jessica nibbled on her lip and her gaze settled on the two handsome redheads across the room. Both men were talking quietly and then they both happened to glance her way.

“You know what I like about them?” Jessica asked.

Grace didn’t have to ask to know she was referring to Tank and Troy. “What?”

“They’re big but they’re not loud.

You’d think looking at them that they’re loud and boisterous, but they aren’t…at least not around me.”

Grace smiled and nodded. “I noticed that.”

Jessica nodded. “They understand.”

The three of them nodded, knowing what she meant without needing to have it explained. After what she’d suffered at the hands of her captor, Jessica needed peace and stability. Grace looked across the room at the two men who were gazing at Jessica as if they wanted to cuddle her close and Tank blushed again when Grace winked at him.

Jessica suddenly stood from her bar stool. “Right.” She turned to Teresa. “Would you mind holding her for a few more minutes? I thought I’d…go visit.”

Teresa made a shooing motion and her eyes sparkled with mischief. “You go on. We’ll take turns with the baby. You go…visit.”

Jessica made her way over to Tank and Troy. When he realized she was headed right for them, Troy’s cheeks grew a little ruddy, too. Tank spoke softly to her and shrugged when she lifted his large hand to look at the bandage. She looked up at him and said something and he chuckled and put his arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head.

Grace, Charity, And Teresa fist bumped

as they watch the evening unfold. Grace knew Jessica had a long row to hoe in her recovery and any man, or men, she fell in love with would need to be patient with her. Observing the way the men drew her into the conversation yet allowed her a little breathing room gave Grace hope. And that’s what Christmas was all about. Hope.

©Heather Rainier 2014 All Rights Reserved


I thought I’d give you all a glimpse into Grace’s Christmas Eve Party at the Divine Creek Ranch. It was my pleasure to give you a little taste of the stories you’ll be seeing next year in Divine. My family and I wish you all a blessed, safe, and peaceful Christmas, and a very happy and prosperous 2015.

~Heather Rainier

MC 2014     

If you enjoy erotic romance with a Texas twist, check out the book lineup at the right. If you enjoy Christmas-themed erotic romance, click on this link for a look at my latest book, Absentminded Angel which released recently, just in time for Christmas.


All I Want For Christmas Is a Woobie Under My Tree by Heather Rainier

Coffee, Tea, and Matchmaking

Two irrepressible matchmakers meet for a weekend of Christmas shopping. The result? Divinely Lusty Magic!


“Could we stop at Lusty Appetites before we leave?” Grace Warner asked as she secured the shopping bags on the back seat of her Escalade. “I have a craving, and it’s just down the street.”

Kate Benedict chuckled. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with Tracy’s crème puffs, now would it?”

With a giggle, Grace checked her watch. “It’s the perfect time for a snack, and there are several Divine men who would think kindly of me if I brought them crème puffs as a surprise.”

Kate took the elbow Grace offered and they began the short jaunt down the block. “You should take whatever crème puffs Tracy has already made, so you’ll have enough. Just make sure you leave a few for my grandson Henry Kendall. He gets cranky when there are no crème puffs.”

Ginny Kendall greeted Kate and Grace with hugs when they stepped inside Lusty Appetites. “Come on over here and get comfortable. Do you ladies want menus, or are you in for a snack?”

“Just a snack, sweetheart,” Kate said. “Before we head off to Divine. I’ll have a cup of hot tea. Grace would like coffee.”

“And a crème puff each?” Ginny asked.

“You know me well,” Kate said, and then placed Grace’s sizable crème puff to-go order with Ginny.

Ginny nodded. “That’s not a problem. Tracy came in early and has been baking up a storm.” She delivered the beverages and returned a minute later with two saucers bearing scrumptious-looking crème puffs. Grace couldn’t stifle a moan as she sampled the delectable treat.

Grace noticed the gleam in Kate’s eyes and once she’d taken a sip of her tea, she leaned forward. “So? Tell me about your friend, Presley Ann? How is she? It must be nearly time for that baby to arrive.”

Grace set her coffee cup down and said, “Presley Ann is a dynamo, getting ready for the baby. I’d worry about her working so many hours but everywhere she goes, someone is keeping an eye on her, whether she likes it or not.”

Kate lifted a brow. “And those two delightful firefighters you were telling me about? Any chance of them moving to your area? They seem just the type to take good care of a new mother and her baby.”

Grace nodded but rolled her eyes. “I know, right? I pointed that out to Presley Ann. It’s obvious Kendry and Jared care for her, judging by the way they seek her out when they visit. Leah, James, and Vincent are awesome but they aren’t the only ones pulling Kendry and Jared back to Divine. And she can hardly take her eyes off of them when they’re around. But Presley Ann doesn’t see it. She asked why two handsome single guys would saddle themselves with a scatter-brained burden like her. It’s as if she doesn’t think she deserves happiness. Given her rotten luck lately she deserves a little good fortune.”

Kate nodded. “Presley Ann seems intent on punishing herself for her mistakes. Perhaps if someone were to aid Kendry and Jared in finding a nice home for themselves in Divine, she might be persuaded otherwise.”

Grace let an evil chuckle escape. “You know…I happen to have a realtor friend who likes crème puffs. So, tell me what’s going on in Lusty. Any new developments?”

“Your Presley Ann seems to have a lot in common with Veronica’s brothers, Jesse and Barry. I know hard working men when I see them, but those two seem intent on tearing themselves down to their very foundations, judging by the steady diet of crow they’ve been living on for the last year.”

“Are you talking about the younger twins? The ones who were so hard on Veronica when she was growing up? She dreaded seeing them last Christmas at her binding ceremony. They’ve changed?”

Kate patted Grace’s hand. “Like night to day, sweetie. I think that evening was a major wake-up call for them—it was the first time they realized that they’d been bullies. And the cosmos must approve of the changes because it looks like they’ve found love.”

Grace gigglesnorted. “I don’t suppose you had anything to do with that, did you? Who is it?”

“I plead ‘no comment’ on my responsibility. She’s a friend of yours.”

Grace abandoned her pastry. “Who?”

Kate savored her pastry and then took a leisurely sip of tea, amusement twinkling in her eyes. “A lovely woman by the name of Charlotta Carmichael.”

“Get out of town! Really?”

“Mmm-hmm, she’s a clinical psychologist now. I understand she’s good friends with your Camilla Parks who owns the Twisted Bull.”

Grace paused, unsure about saying more. If Kate didn’t know about Charlotta’s former career as a dancer, it wasn’t for her to tell tales.

Kate smiled warmly and forged on. “And yes, I know how she paid for that degree. Without the support of her parents she attended college and graduated debt-free. I admire her for that.”

“Do Jesse and Barry know?”

Kate mulled the question over and shook her head. “That is yet to be revealed. I’ve been encouraging the boys to visit Veronica in Divine. Perhaps they will, during the holidays. It would be nice if they could rebuild their relationship.” Kate took another sip of tea, and ate the last of her crème puff. “Do you suppose when we get to Divine we could visit that little shop located downtown? Violet’s Emporium? And possibly Stigall’s?”

“We could. And if Presley Ann is there I could introduce you.”

“I’d love that. I have a good feeling about her and those handsome firefighters.”

Grace nodded. “I’m pleasantly surprised to say I’m feeling the same way about those grandsons of yours.”

Kate giggled good-naturedly. “Those rascals just needed a proper nudge. Perhaps Presley Ann needs the same. You never know.”

Grace was just collecting her boxes of crème puffs when Adam and Henry Kendall walked in and greeted them. After they’d kissed Grandma Kate on the cheek, Henry said, “I was in the mood for a crème puff.”

“You’re always in the mood for a crème puff,” Adam said. “I, on the other hand, came to kiss my wife.”

After Kate parted ways with her grandsons and rejoined her, Grace looked down at the boxes and said, “When you placed the order, did you have them save any back for Henry?”

Kate snorted and ushered Grace down the sidewalk at a spry clip. “I did. They had plenty of the sugar-free ones left over.”

“Grandma Kate!”


The preceding  was written by Morgan Ashbury and I, and originally appeared as a feature on Siren BookStrand’s Facebook Page the week of 12-11-14, marking the impending release of (my) Absentminded Angel and (her) Love Under Two Outcasts. We hope that you enjoyed it.

For further info about titles in the Lusty, Texas series, please follow this link.

For info about titles in my series, the Divine Creek Ranch Collection, please follow this link.