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

Chapter One

“You still haven’t told me what you want for Christmas,”

Jack murmured as he carefully squeezed Grace’s warm backside to his front-side. Few things felt better than making love to his wife. Giving her slow thrust, he reveled in her sweet and snug pussy, determined to take his time.

“Mmmm,” Grace purred as she rubbed her luxuriant, warm ass against him, tightening her grip on their entwined fingers. With a round and not very subtle undulation of her hips, she said, “Right now, I’d be thrilled if you would fuck me until I see stars. You have no idea how much I’d love to get this show on the road.”

Jack chuckled, but held his libido in check. There was nothing he’d like more than to give her exactly what she wanted. A good fucking. A hard orgasm. And maybe a kick-start to labor. Poor Grace wasn’t overdue but she was definitely ready to be done.

Grace reached back and caressed his ass. “You want to fuck me, don’t you? I know you do,” she purred. He could hear the smile in her voice as she urged him on.

He caressed the lower swell of her mounded abdomen

before reaching for the hot, slick haven between her thighs. “Darlin’, nothin’ would make me happier. Don’t worry, I’m gonna give you what you want, but you’re gonna let me be in charge.”

As he kissed the fragrant flesh beneath her ear he flexed his hips, thrusting slow and deep. Her moan and sigh were music to his ears and he smiled as he leaned forward enough to watch her face. Her eyelids slid closed and she caught her lip between her teeth as she arched back against him.

Breathing her in, he focused his stroking on the hot, slippery and swollen bundle of her clit, sliding his fingers back and forth, side to side, just the way she liked it, according to her answering moan. “Yes, like that.”

Keeping his thrusts even, he nibbled at her earlobe and said, “You make the sweetest sounds when I fuck you just right, Grace. I’ll never get enough of you. All of you.”

The tap of a small foot or elbow at his inner forearm

told him that their early morning play had awakened their unborn daughter, currently nestled beneath Grace’s heart.

Love, overwhelming in its strength and depth, brought an all over flush of heat to his body and he groaned with pleasure even as his vision misted momentarily. Making love to Grace was a spiritual event, even more so than in the past. He truly loved her more with each passing day. Every single thing about her turned him on, and made him even more determined to give her what she needed.

When he changed up the stroking pattern over her clit, she gasped and cried out, “Yes, oh yes! More, just like that. Fuck me, Jack. Please, oh please!” Her sensual moans were his undoing and he increased his thrusts as she arched back against him. Her hot, lush pussy was just too hard to resist and he gave in to her, fucking her until she dug her nails into his buttocks. “That’s it! Oh, I’m coming! I’m coming!”

“Yes,” he growled as he held her to him with a firm grip and pumped hard. Ecstasy created a haze of rapture he gave in to, falling over the brink of lust. Searing shards of pleasure blazed through his nerve endings and he gave a loud groan as he came, thrusting hard with each orgasmic surge.

When his senses returned, it was to find she was giggling.

Gently pulling out, he leaned over her so he could look into her beautiful flushed face. His extremities still tingled and she looked up at him with those bright blue eyes of hers. “Woman, you are spoiled. You know that?”

Giggling some more, she nodded. “Are you still going to get a tree for me?”

“I’m not sure I can feel my legs at the moment. Give me time to recover from servicing my demanding woman and I’ll consider it. In the meantime, you still haven’t told me what you want for Christmas.”

With slow, careful movements, she turned from one side to the other, a maneuver that took longer in her advanced state of pregnancy. When she was situated, he pulled the covers over her. Before she’d awoken, he’d gotten up to start a fire in the mistress suite fireplace to take away the early morning chill, but he didn’t want to risk her being cold anyway. So he was a little protective. Her smile as she snuggled closer to him told him she appreciated the effort.

Resting her golden head on his bicep,

she played his chest hair and then looked up at him. “All I want for Christmas is a woobie under my tree.”

With a chuckle, he replied, “Lucky for you, you’ve got three of them. If you count Grant-boy, you’ve got four.”

Grace chuckled. Their son Grant was proving to be just as protective of his mama and sister as Jack, Ethan, and Adam were, although he was thoroughly sick of being Rose Marie’s roping dummy. “I can hardly ask for more.”

“Yeah, you can, darlin’.” He admired her appreciation for what she already possessed but he wanted to do his Christmas shopping soon and he really needed to know what was on her secret wish list.

“Charity has a list, because she knew you would all be asking. There’s one item you’ll have to take her shopping for since she knows exactly what I want.”


Charity was a good sister-in-law and wouldn’t steer them wrong. “You’re really determined to put up a Christmas tree today?”

“Yes. I want to have it up early this year, so it’s already done for Thanksgiving, and so I can enjoy watching Rose Marie and Grant decorate it. Once I have my hands full with the baby, I’ll be more likely to miss things like that. I wanted to take pictures of the three of you helping them put the ornaments on.”

“Well, all right, then. Adam is supposed to come with me to the tree farm to pick out a good one.”

“A nice, tall one, please.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he murmured and then kissed her throat again. “Whatever you want.”


Chapter Two


“Rose Marie, hold the door for your daddy,”

Grace said as she caught Grant by the collar of his barn coat before he got trampled by Angel, Ash and Joaquin as they moved the sleeper loveseat to the other side of the living room. The thing weighed a ton, and just because the little squirt could move like a basset hound on steroids, quick and low to the ground, didn’t mean he wouldn’t get squished if he tripped them.

“Thanks, sugar,” Adam said as he, Ethan, and Jack wisely stamped their boots on the back porch mat before inching the huge and fragrant tree through the doors. No need to track dry leaves and dirt on her just cleaned floors.

“Watch the door frame. I don’t want to have to repaint,” she said, reaching out but then standing back as Jack caught her eye and nodded at her. They wouldn’t let the door frames get dinged. His patience with her neat freak tendencies, made worse by advanced pregnancy induced nesting instinct, warmed her heart.

“Okay, Gracie,” Ethan said, bringing up the rear, carrying the stump of the tree in gloved hands. The scent of fresh cut fir filled the crisp air drafting in through the door all around them. Her heightened sense of smell also picked up notes of clean, hard-working men,

and her inner sexpot purred contentedly.

Jack cleared his throat, gaining her attention, and she giggled when she caught him staring at her, recent carnal knowledge in his eyes. He probably knew exactly what she was thinking. “Darlin’, it’s getting heavy.”

“Oh! Sorry! Pregnancy brain! Over there.” She pointed across the room. “Try it over there first.”

Joaquin snorted softly at her word choice as he and the other two helpers stood by. They’d probably had to go through the same ritual with their women at home. Positioning the tree just right was important. It had to be visible through the back windows, not too close to the fireplace or the stairs, out of the flow of traffic, and far enough from the wall she could decorate the backside and be able to reach the switch for the tree lights, as well. Location, location, location!

“How’s that?” Adam said as he held it steady for her.

“Move it a foot to the left. It’ll snag everyone’s pant legs where it is right now.”

They moved it without a single grumble.

“How’s that?” Adam asked, switching hands on the tree and catching Grant as he ran forward and grabbed him about his long thigh.

She beckoned them to bring it forward. “I need to get the bumpers out for the bricks on the hearth. The last thing we want is Grant busting his head open if he trips.”

Grant frowned at her. “I not no baby, no more, mama.”

“You mean, ‘I’m not a baby anymore, mama.’ And it’s not up to you young man.”

“I ain’t a baby! I ain’t!”

Ethan growled softly and tapped his son

on the back of his head. “Don’t sass your mama, son.” To Grace, he said, “We gave the bumpers to Presley, Jared, and Kendry.”

“Oh. Oh, well, just be super careful, Grant. Bring it forward and away from the fireplace just to be on the safe side.”

“How’s that?” Adam asked with a soft sigh.

She backed up and took in the room as a whole. “You know what? I think I’d like it better over there next to the staircase.”

Jack nodded once, and they lifted the tree to heft it across the living room while Angel, Joaquin and Ash hurriedly moved the loveseat out of the way again.

“No, wait. I’m sorry. If it’s over there it won’t be as visible from the backyard.”

“Why does it—never mind,”

Ethan said and then grunted as he repositioned the stump in his gloved hands and nodded at Adam to proceed.

“Which way, baby?” Adam said, not budging even though Jack and Ethan had started to back to the original spot.

She pointed to the original spot with an apologetic smile. “Back where you had it. Okay, now turn it. Turn it. Just a little more—stop. She backed up and looked at the room as a whole. “Right where you have it is perfect. Don’t move it or turn it. Angel can you help him with the base?”

“Sure thing, Grace. You know the water is going to have to be filled every day, otherwise it’ll dry out before—

“Oh, I’ll keep up with filling it,” she said, smiling at the beautiful symmetry of the tree they’d chosen. It had to be nine feet tall.

“Uh, no, I’ll be filling it,”

Jack said, watching the bulge of her abdomen as it lurched.

Grace sighed at the corresponding pressure to her bladder and said, “I’ll be right back.”

She bit her lip, and paused, hand on the couch to steady her, as Calliope Elizabeth squirmed and did ‘the thing.’ Unable to speak, she breathed carefully as Callie stretched, pushing a tiny foot against her much abused lower ribs.

“She’s doing ‘the thing’?” Jack asked, coming near.

Grace gave a thumbs up, back still turned. Give the man a prize!

Peeing could wait as Callie ground her hard little Warner head against Grace’s tender nether parts.

“Grace, you okay?”

Adam said, sounding concerned when she didn’t speak.

Just as quickly as Callie started her yoga routine, she relented, curling back into a tiny tight ball, giving her mama enough room to draw a breath.

She turned and smiled. This had only happened umpteen times in the last few days. “No biggie. Callie’s just squirming around a lot. Must be that orange juice I drank. I’ll be right back.”

The trip the bathroom was all good, if one counted having to balance carefully to sit down on the toilet because her abdomen made bending a bit dicey. Getting up was actually easier. Then she looked down. “Well, fuck a duck. Nope. Not right when I’m getting my tree decorated. I’ll call Emma later.”


Jack watched Grace

when she returned from using the bathroom. He studied her expression, looking for signs of discomfort or worry. She was as serene as she could be, and then she smiled at him. “Did we get the tree in the base?”

“Yeah, Ethan’s filling a bucket right now. Is this how you wanted it?”

No other woman had ever made a pregnant waddle look sexier, he thought as she moved to the center of the room, gazed at the tree, moved to the back windows, gazed at the tree some more, and then waddled back to the stairs, eyeballed that tree once more, and then gave them the thumbs up.

Relief filled him, and he turned to Rose Marie. “Sugar, can you close the back doors? We don’t want Mama getting chilled, do we?”

Horror dawned on Rose Marie’s face. “Oh, no. I wasn’t thinking.” She ran back to the doors but Grace stopped her.

“No, sweetie, leave them open for me. The crisp breeze is nice.” Grace tilted her head and looked at the tree and he dutifully turned it one millimeter to the right when she asked him to.

Ethan came in from the kitchen carrying a mop bucket and said, “Who left the door open? Gracie’s going to get chill—” He turned to look at her and paused mid-step. “Gracie? You okay?”

“I’m fine,”

she assured him, her hand smoothed over her burgeoning middle as their daughter squirmed again, and what he thought had to be her little butt shifted visibly from Grace’s left side to her right side.

Angel chuckled and said, “There is another reason why the women have the babies, because we weak-spirited men would be wetting our pants if we had to experience that. The women are the stronger sex, no doubt.”

Joaquin nodded silently and fist bumped his brother.

“Is it time, Mama?” Rose Marie said as she and Grant bounced up and down beside the stacked boxes containing ornaments.

“Yes, it’s time. Once box at a time, and let your daddies help you with the box marked ‘fragile’. I’m going to get my phone so I can take pictures.”

Ethan watched her as she waddled into her office, and then looked at Jack and Adam, suspicion in his eyes. Angel and the others said their goodbyes and ventured out the back doors.

They watched her like a hawk,

while helping the kids open the boxes of ornaments. He set the box of fragile ones aside because he knew they were extra special to Grace, and he didn’t want to be responsible for any of them getting broken on his watch, especially the spun glass ones. She’d loved those when they’d given them to her their first Christmas together.

With the back door open, the sounds of the working ranch filtered into the house, and Rose Marie giggled when they heard one of the dogs barking. Barney looked a bit like a bloodhound but Jack swore up and down there was a little bit of mastiff in him. And he had a bark that pierced the thickest walls, and eardrums.

“Barney must be chasing a rabbit again,” Rose Marie chirped as she showed him the shiny red ball ornament. “Let’s hang all red ornaments on the tree, Daddy.”

“Nooo,” Grant groused in his grump-old-man voice. “Red and green, cuz it’s Christmas.”

“You mean, “Red and Green, because it’s Christmas,’” Grace said, shooting video of the kids and the three of them. “I wonder what Barney is after,” she said, keeping the phone trained on them while looking out the back doors. “He’s chasing a cat. Is that Jake? I haven’t seen him in ages.” She turned checked her phone screen’s position and then looked back out the doors. Barney and Jake had a love-hate relationship.

“Rowr-rowr-rowr-rowr! Barowwwwrrr-rowr-rowr!”

The sound came closer and closer, Jack looked over to see what the ruckus was, and suddenly Grace shouted, “Oh, no you don’t! Not my clean floors!”

In her advanced state of pregnancy she couldn’t move fast enough to reach the doors to shut them, and Jack wouldn’t risk knocking her over to get to them. He wouldn’t have been in time anyway.

Jake the barn cat was a huge, orange, fuzzy streak as he zipped through the back door with Barney hot on his tail, jowls flapping, drool flying everywhere as he dogged the cat right to the Christmas tree. Like a feline missile, Jake got vertical, sloshing the water in the tree base everywhere, before rocketing straight to the top of the pristine, perfectly positioned fir tree.

Rose Marie and Grant stood stock still, jaws hanging open. Then Jake snarled at Barney, who was barking so loudly it shook the rafters and vibrated in the center of Jack’s sternum.

With every hair on end

until he looked twice his normal above-average size, Jake fixed Barney with a green-eyed glower and yowled and hissed like a cobra.

The tree tilted slightly out of kilter because Ethan hadn’t had a chance to fix it more steadily into the base yet. Jake’s weight at the top of the tree made it shake as he tried to maintain his balance.

“Barowwwwrrr-rowr-rowr! Baroooooooooo!” Barney howled, having successfully treed his quarry.

Not relinquishing victory that easily, Jake hissed, spat and growled, struggling to maintain his high perch, unsuccessfully as it turned out, since the tree finally toppled to the floor.

Jake leaped at the dog, the dog shrieked in fear, and the cat chased the squealing dog around the living room twice, unseating Grace’s bric-a-brac and books from their shelves before racing at top speed right out the back door.

All eyes turned to Grace.

She was still holding the camera, and had caught at least part of the event on record. As if for added affect, the base containing the water for the tree, which had managed to stay on its edge that whole time, finally toppled over, spilling water all over the floor.

Grace blinked a couple of times, and then looked around the room at all their shocked faces.

“Heh-heh,” she snickered as she pointed at him, Ethan, and Adam, and the kids. They were all watching her as if she was a ticking time bomb. “Heh-Heh-heh,” she continued. “You should see your faces.”

She looked back at the tree, and then burst into great, belly-rolling laughter. Pointing at the door, she said, “The cat ran in the…and the dog…then Jake went ‘reeeewr! So Barney howled…and kaboom!” She mimicked the tree falling with a sweep of her arm, starting to sound a little hysterical. Her laughter was infectious and soon they were all laughing.

By the time she finished laughing

and let out a big sigh, they had the tree back in an upright position, and were holding it firmly as Ethan bolted the base to the stump. That done, he picked up the bucket and headed back to the kitchen.

It was Jack that noticed something was up when he glanced over at Grace. She had a towel and was trying to soak up the water on the floor, and he said, “Darlin’, don’t worry about that. We can mop up the floor after we’ve got the tree secured. Don’t worry, we’ll have it all picked up in…” He noticed she was mopping up a puddle that was nowhere near the one that surrounded the tree.

He caught her eye and she shrugged and grinned at him. “Guess we got that show on the road after all, baby.” She stood upright and then gasped as she braced one hand on the couch and held her abdomen with the other. “Well, that was fast.”

The baby is coming?

It was time for his baby girl to be born? Just like that? So suddenly?

Ethan grabbed Jack and shook him out of his idiotic stupor. “We’ve got this. Her labors go fast. Take her to the hospital. I’ll call Emma—

“She’s already on alert. I called her from my office. I lost the mucous plug last time I peed. She said to get my ass to the hospital at the first contraction.”

Ethan sighed, which sounded remarkably like a growl.

“What? I wanted to finish the tree first.”

“Woman,” Adam murmured.

“The baby and I fine. I’ll go now, since…kasploosh!” she mimicked a puddle splashing out around her and then winced at another contraction.

“I’m calling the hospital to let them know you’re on the way,” Adam said.

Ethan gave him a gentle push toward the door. “Take her now. We’ll get this tidied up. I’ll call Charity to come stay with the kids and we’ll bring Grace’s bag to her just as soon as Charity gets here.”

Damn it, it isn’t like I’ve never done this before. Why did he feel like he was having an out of body experience?

What finally galvanized him into action was the gentle grip of Grace’s hand on his forearm. “I’m ready, Jack.”

He turned to her. “Can you make it to my truck?” Thank goodness it was parked right out front. “I can carry you.”

Grace smiled and took his hand. “I think I can make it. Let’s go do this.”

“Mama?” Rose Marie said as she went to her mother and gentle patted her swollen abdomen. “I can’t wait to see my sissy.”

“Me, too, Mama!” Grant chirped, reaching out to be picked up, but Adam caught him up in his arms so Grace didn’t have to form a refusal. “I wanna see Sissy! Can I come, too?”

“You can come when she gets here, okay?” She took a breath and squeezed his hand hard. “We need to go.”

Jack guided her out to the truck and helped her into the cab. She buckled herself in while he ran around to the driver’s side.

On the wild tear down the driveway,

Grace giggled and pointed at one of the pastures, where Barney had Jake treed in an old oak, baying and jumping to get at him.

She took out her phone and began tapping on the screen.

“What are you doing?” he asked, keeping both eyes on the road as they turned onto the state highway.

“Texting Charity. I want her to take pictures of the kids putting the decorations on the tree. They’ll have a little sister the next time I see them. I wanted them to have that memory of when it was just the two of them in pictures.” She sniffled.

His sentimental sweetheart.

“Darlin, this time next year they’ll still be Mutt and Jeff, arguing over whether he should still be the roping dummy or not. It’s gonna be great. You doing okay?” he asked as she started blowing out in slow breaths.

She nodded, and when she could speak, she said, “Step on it, handsome, your little girl is in a hurry to meet you.”

Only the fact that he was behind the wheel, and the man in charge of getting her to the hospital in time, that kept him from totally losing it at her words.

This was his baby girl and the woman he loved more than breath.

Super-focused on getting them to the hospital safely, he said, “Well, I can’t wait to meet her, too. With you for her mama, she’s one lucky little girl.”

Grace tapped her phone and put it to her ear and said, “Hey, it’s me. Yes, they’re not even—” she paused what she was saying to blow out a long breath, over and over. “Yeah, that’s what I was trying to tell you. I’m blowing through them. I feel it. Be ready when we get there. Awesome. Bye.”

At the emergency entrance to the hospital, Jack spotted Eli Wolf waiting with Emma. Jack screeched to a halt and Eli opened the door and spoke calmly to Grace as he unbuckled her seatbelt and lifted her carefully from her seat. He glanced at Jack and grinned. “Hey, Jack. We got her safe. Park and come inside. Tracey will suit you up and show you where to go.”

Grace looked back at him and beamed as Eli placed her with utmost care on the gurney and they began rolling toward the automatic doors. Grace blew Jack a kiss and in between blowing breaths, she called out, “Hurry.”

Chapter Three


Jack couldn’t see Nurse Tracey’s mouth because she wore a mask, but her eyes were smiling as she held out a pair of surgical scissors to him. He fumbled them in his gloved hands and chuckled. “My hands are shaking so much I can hardly get my big ol’ fingers in the grips.”

Adam stood behind him at his left shoulder, sniffling. A little sob snuck out the big guy as Emma cleared the mucous and fluids from Calliope Elizabeth Warner’s mouth and nose and then lifted her so they could see her in her pink, chubby-cheeked glory, howling to beat the band.

“Meet your daughter, guys.

Jack? Care to do the honors?”

“Huh?” he asked dumbly as he gazed at Calliope’s cherubic face.

Grace chuckled softly and reached out. “Can I have her?”

Ethan gripped Jack’s shoulder and said, “Time to cut the cord.”

He looked down at the scissors in his hand and then understanding dawned. “Oh. Me. Okay. You know, I remember catching Rose Marie when she was born, but for some reason my legs hardly work.”

“It’s okay. Take your time, Jack. Mama and baby are just fine,” Emma murmured as she rose from the stool at the end of the birthing bed and gently placed Calliope on her mother’s bare chest. The infant squinted and squawked as she was rubbed gently with a cloth.

“What a pretty girl,”

Ethan said as he came around on Grace’s other side and stroked the babies tiny ear. “Look at all that dark hair, will you?”

Adam squatted down and Tracey shook her head at him and pushed another stool in his direction. He’d never live down nearly fainting at Grant’s birth. He chuckled and took it as he rolled to the head of the bed opposite from Ethan and caressed

Grace’s cheek. “Thank you, baby. You’re amazing. She’s beautiful.”

Grace kissed him and beamed. “She is pretty isn’t she?”

“Calliope is a mouthful for a tiny little baby,” Tracey said. “Is she going to have a nickname?”

“What do you think we ought to call her, Jack?” Grace asked as she stroked the baby’s little pink cheek.

Emma touched the top of his hand to galvanize him into action, as she held the clamped cord and showed him where to cut.

His hands still trembled

and Emma said, “Sometimes if I’m shaky it helps to take a slow breath and cut as you let it out. You’re golden, Jack. This is a huge moment, no matter how many times you have a baby.”

He nodded, unable to speak as he severed the cord and Emma gave him a thumbs up and took the scissors. Wow. She’s really here.

Grace gazed at him as he came close and laid his hand on Calliope’s back. “What should we call your daughter?”

“Callie Beth,” he whispered, the syllables crackling as his throat constricted. Her tiny little body was so warm, so vital. And then she squawked again as she started rooting in earnest.

“That’s a determined little girl, guys,” Emma said with a chuckle as she went about her work.

Tracey slid a little stocking cap on Callie’s head and said, “She looks like a little Callie Beth, doesn’t she? I love romantic names. She’s going to be a heart-breaker, I bet. I can snap some pictures for you real quick while Emma finishes up, before I take Callie to be weighed. You can come with me for that, Jack, if you want?”

He wasn’t sure if he could make his legs move

but he nodded and handed her his cellphone with the camera turned on. The guys got their phones out as well.

Exhausted from birth, Callie Beth fell asleep before finding success with the whole nursing thing, and that was okay. It was a big day. Tracey took the opportunity to wrap her in a receiving blanket and then popped her right into Jack’s arms, like he knew what he was doing.

Wait. I do know what I’m doin’. This isn’t my first rodeo. Get with the program, Jack!

Callie Beth mesmerized him. Her tiny hands were a carbon copy of Grace’s in miniature. She opened her eyes briefly and gazed up at him, so serious and still, inspecting her daddy for the first time.

Grace chuckled as he moved close to the head of the bed, the baby held securely in his arms. He leaned down to kiss Grace, and tears he didn’t know he was shedding dripped onto her hospital gown.

She was sniffling, too, as she reached up and stroked the moisture from his cheeks. Her lips were so warm under his and he lingered there before resting his forehead against hers.

“You done good, mama.”

“We all did. Congratulations, daddy. Daddies. I love you.”

They each responded in kind and even Tracey was sniffling as she moved around quietly snapping pictures. At times, Ethan and Adam caught his gaze and their happiness practically radiated from them.

All three of their kids belonged to all of them, by choice, but because of family resemblances, and timing, Grace was comfortably certain that Rose Marie was Adam’s daughter. She had the Davis green eyes and the family nose.

Ethan was most certainly Grant’s father, because of busy schedules and the fact that Grace had been charting her fertility. Grant also showed an amazing sense of intuition, like his father, when he wasn’t being a toot.

And this one…this little dark headed-angel.

Grace and the guys had done everything they could to make certain it was Jack who had fathered this baby, even giving their blessing for a Hawaiian getaway for just the two of them at a time when Grace was likely to be fertile. Callie Beth’s hair was the same color as his.

He lifted Grace’s hand into his and stroked her palm with his thumb. “Grace, you’re our every dream come to life. Thank you so much for this blessing.”


Chapter Four


The Christmas party at the Divine Creek Ranch

was a little more subdued that year, but not by much. Because of scheduling they were having it on Christmas day instead of Christmas Eve.

Jessica Bright’s wedding and binding ceremony with Tank Drummond and Troy Burns had happened the day before and everyone had stayed for the reception. Some faces were missing, because they had to travel to see their families, but Jack thought it was still a great turnout.

It was his protective side that hoped it didn’t go too late. Rose Marie and Grant were their usual energetic selves, and he’d been watching Grace for signs of fatigue. She’d given in to their badgering to rest because she hadn’t bounced back quite as quickly from the birth. She pushed herself so hard sometimes, thinking she needed to handle things for everybody else.

After the overwhelming success, and accompanying behind-the-scenes stressful drama, of the charity fundraiser, she’d finally given in and taken it easy, allowing them to do for her for a change.

With any other woman that might’ve meant being available at her beck and call. With Grace, it meant movie nights, long talks in bed, back rubs and brainstorming sessions for future stories she’d write in the coming years. Who knew he, Ethan, and Adam had such romantic creative sides? Jack honestly enjoyed being of help to her in a way he never had before.

He handed her to tall glass of ice water she’d asked him for and she thanked him with a kiss. Little Callie Beth was watching the goings on of the gathering from the security of the sling Grace was wearing, a gift from Presley Ann McCulloch, who had also given birth to a baby girl a month or so before Callie Beth had come into the world.

Callie Beth gazed out at the group

from the comfy security of her mother’s warmth, before burrowing close to her mama again. Warmth filled his chest and when he looked up it was to find Ethan and Adam watching her as well, twin sappy grins on their faces, probably matching the one on his.

Ethan brought him a beer and the three of them clinked bottles and Ethan said, “To Grace.”

“To Grace.”

“To Grace.”

Ash Peterson and his wife Juliana came in through the back door, looking a little flushed, and judging by the twinkle in Ash’s eyes, and the blush in Juliana’s cheeks, they were feeling a little more than just the crisp chill from the outdoors. Good thing for them, they lived nearby.

“What is all that racket?”

Juliana asked as she turned and peeked out the opened doors.

A commotion in the backyard got everyone’s attention. Ace and Kemp were on it immediately, coming from the kitchen where they’d been conversing with Duke and Gage, Dr. Emma’s husbands, reaching in to their sports coats by reflex, but showing no other sign they were armed.

After the security breach on the ranch the night of the charity dinner and double bachelor auction, they were all much more vigilant about disturbances, especially with little ones running around everywhere.

“Just the dog barkin’ somewhere nearby,” Ash said, nodding and smiling at Ethan when he lifted a beer bottle in inquiry. “I’d love one, thanks. Need to wet my whistle.”

Juliana snorted and nudged him with her elbow. “It’s important to stay hydrated, right?”

“You hush, woman,” he said, but his affectionate, gentle squeeze led Jack to believe he enjoyed it when she got feisty. Their relationship had been fireworks from the get go, as Jack recalled and maintaining that spark was good for a marriage.

They were just closing the French doors when Erin, Ethan’s baby sister snuck in, looking a little disheveled.

“Hey, Erin. I was wondering if you were going to make it or not,” Ethan said as he handed Ash his beer, and then squinted at her. “What’ve you been up to?”

“Nothin’. Mind your own beeswax, dude. I need a drink.”

“A good stiff one? Here,”

Charity quipped as she sauntered over and held out a shot of what looked like tequila. “Careful, there’s a song that talks about tequila making a girls clothes fall off.”

Erin growled at Charity but took the shot with a nod of thanks anyway. Ethan’s sister was a spirited woman, and it wasn’t his place to say so, but Ethan’s protectiveness was just making her even more determined to do as she pleased. She’d recently decided to move out of the ranch house, even though they had plenty of room. Jack could understand her wanting her independence.

Charity looked over at Teresa, who was standing nearby with Angel and Joaquin bracketing her like bookends. “Hey Teresa, where’s Luka and Matthias? I heard they were going to be here tonight?”

“They should be here already,” Teresa said, casting her husbands a questioning glance. Their brothers were always game for a party but didn’t always show up when they said they would. “I’m not sure where they are.”

Erin groused under her breath and headed for the kitchen as the sound of boot steps stamping on the porch signaled another arrival.

The brothers in question grinned and waved in greeting as they came in through the back door and slipped their coats off and put them on the tree with their hats. “Hey,” Luka called, shaking hands with Duke Rivers who had come into the living room. “How is everyone?”

“Barrrrrooowrrrr! Rowr-rowr-rowr-rowr!

Grace gasped and blinked as everyone turned at the commotion on the back porch. She opened her mouth to speak and turned imploring eyes to him. “Close the doors before they—”

A furry snarling orange rocket ran between Luka’s booted feet and shot into the house.

“Jake, out!” Grace called as he shot past her. “Someone catch him. Oh, not again!”

“What the—” Luka shouted as all one hundred and twenty pounds of Barney barreled into him from behind, knocking his legs out from under him, missing landing on the tile floor only because Matthias caught him from behind.

“Barrrrrooowrrrr! Rowr-rowr-rowr-rowr!

Reeeeewr! Hisss!

The cat dog combo looped the living room twice as the party-goers tried to catch them, the kids laughing and adults shooing them toward the door before any real damage could be done.

The cat went airborne over the couch,

while Grace watched in consternation. Like a safety-seeking missile, the feline made a beeline for the only vertical perch in reach. Straight up the fully decked out Christmas tree. The ornaments trembled and shook on the tree as he scaled the heights to the angel perched on the top, knocking it askew.

Ethan made a made a mad grab for Barney and got dragged across the living room for the effort, before the coffee table stopped his progress and he let go or risked hitting Grace with the furniture.

Jack felt like he was moving in slow motion. The spun glass ornaments swung wildly as the tree teetered with Jake’s attempts to gain some balance. Each step around the room took forever. Barney was headed straight for the tree. It was one thing to knock over the tree when it was bare. It was another mess of shit to do it when it was full of Grace’s precious glass ornaments.
Barney attacked the base of the tree, knocking it off kilter, and Jake leaped from the top, rebounded off Jack’s shoulder and flitted out the still open door. The tree was a lost cause as Barney attacked the red furry tree skirt, evidently thinking he’d caught his prey. But Jack could still save the decorations.

Nope. The tree fell on him.

And for his efforts, he got a face full of Barney’s dirty paws and slobber as he climbed over him and shot out the French doors. When he regained his breath, he looked up at the crowd of faces ringing him.

Grace rose from the couch and told someone that she needed a towel and for the men to lift the tree off of him carefully. A sparkle caught his eye and he lifted the spun glass ballerina from his chest and showed it to Grace.

“Well, darlin’, at least I saved one of your ornaments.”

Holding one hand to Callie Beth’s head to keep her settled in her sling, she got down on her knees and took the ornament from him, as well as another he spotted in the branches squished against his chest.

“Are you hurt?”

“Nope. I wanted to save your glass ornaments from being broken.”

Grace grimaced. “You could’ve been impaled on broken glass,” she said as they lifted the tree off him and the round ball ornaments made tinkling sounds as they bounced and rolled across the floor. The kids giggled as they chased after them.
Jack grinned, and then picked a dry tree bristle from his shirt front when it poked him. He nodded his thanks when the guys helped him up. In turn, he helped her to rise, and showed her that he was fine, except that the water from the tree base had soaked the back of his jeans.

“It’s all good. Lookie there, the other two of your special ornaments are still hanging on the branches, undamaged.”

“Jack, I was teasing when I said I wanted a woobie under my Christmas tree.”

When he stopped laughing, he caught Ethan’s attention and said, “Let’s make sure those doors are shut good this time.”

The tree was restored to something resembling its former dignity, with only a few ornaments damaged beyond repair. Barney and Jake streaked past the back door, playing their endless game of cat and dog.

The lights from the tree sparkled and reflected on the windows and Jack thought of Grace’s care in making sure the tree was positioned so the lights shined out.

Standing talking with her friends and their family and acquaintances, she caught his glance and smiled at him as she caressed his daughter’s dark head.

The house shone with a light that had nothing to do with artificial tree bulbs. The warmth he felt was the light that was reflected by of the woman he loved with all his heart.


The End

©Heather Rainier 2017 All rights reserved

This short story describes events that took place during the course of Operation Ginger Avenger. For the full story, visit the book page and you’ll find info and links to various retailers. Click here to purchase at Siren BookStrand Right now

If you enjoyed this Christmas-themed short story, check out The Woobie Spirit of Christmas Past 

and It’s a Very Woobie Christmas in Divine, Texas

News From the Divine Creek Ranch…

Operation Ginger Avenger releasing December 22nd

The next book in the Divine Creek Ranch Collection has had a reserved spot in Siren’s calendar for a while now. I don’t generally like writing with a deadline but sometimes I need a push, so I reserved the spot and set myself a deadline to submit this story in time for it to be published by Christmas. That’s four books released in a calendar year, which I haven’t done in a while. Even more extraordinary for me, it was four books in one quarter. That’s stressful because I need to be online promoting at a time when I also want to spend time with family and friends celebrating and doing all the activities leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the majority of the work: writing, revising, editing, writing blurbs, creating graphics, shopping for stock photos, and all the other gazillion tasks were done up front, to make the fall and holiday season spent promoting go more smoothly.

I typed “The End” on Operation Ginger Avenger (Divine Creek Ranch 24) just last night. I fell into bed early last night, and woke up ready to work this morning.

Today, the work to revise and promote the story begins. I’ve built and published a page here on my website for Operation Ginger Avenger, but at this point, it’s really just the bare bones, since the blurbs are my next order of business. I hate writing blurbs, but right after I’ve finished the book is the best time for me to write them. If you check back in coming days and weeks, I’ll be adding more info to that page as I have it ready.

Divine Creek Ranch Boxed Sets

While checking Siren’s calendar, I also discovered that the 4th volume in the Divine Creek Ranch Boxed sets is scheduled for release on November 21st. I’ll add the pre-order/buy link when I have it. This set will include:
Their Divine Doctor (Book 9)
Divine Phoenix (Book 10)
Sparks Fly! A Divine Creek Ranch July 4th Family Reunion (Book 11)

Tangere Tales Trilogy Progress

All of the rounds of edits for Midnight of the Fae (Tangere Tales 2) are completed and returned to Siren-BookStrand, and it will be releasing on November 10th. It has a preorder link available now and I hope you’ll order your copy today.



Author “Appearances”

I’ll be attending a Facebook event this Saturday, at 1:00pm (Central) at the next Author Takeover for Romance Readers Recommend. These events are a great way to interact with your favorite authors as well as authors you may not have met yet. I’ll be answering questions about Divine, Texas and the Tangere Tales Trilogy, and also doing a prize drawing for all attendees. If you’re Interested, click over to see the awesome lineup of authors and let the ladies know you’ll be attending. No obligation, just come and have fun.

Slices of Life from the Rainier Household

I titled this post “News From the Ranch…” and I meant that both figuratively and literally. We’ve gotten pretty much settled in our new home. For those of you who may have missed it, we sold our place and downsized just a bit. We had a dream to own acreage in the area Mr R grew up in, but we’ve found that as we mature, so have our dreams. He’s been self-employed all of his life, in a line of work that’s extremely physical and in Texas heat, also very taxing. So we downsized and we’re leasing until we find the place that’s the right size for us. The rambling, old ranch house we’re leasing is on a large cattle ranch, and I enjoy that aspect of our current home way more than I thought I would.

Fall wildflowers in South Texas
The view from our new home. Wildflowers in the fall…

Our house is fully fenced so the dogs are contained and don’t bother the cattle, beyond barking at them occasionally. Eli has settled in and resigned himself that he can’t just go “walkabout” when he wants to. He’s getting a little old for that anyway.

The calves and yearlings are a hoot to watch, and there is this old bull…

Let me tell you…

One day I noticed Eli barking, and it wasn’t his irritating “I’m barking cuz I’m bored” bark. This was “Stranger-Danger! WTF!” Mildly curious, because our house is located within the gated ranch and people can’t just walk right on up, I wander up to the kitchen to see what’s going on. Eli is strutting up and down along the fence, all stiff legged and jaunty, like “I’m the man and this here is my property. Be gone, foul interloper.” The herd roams loose all over the property, and it’s not unusual at all to look out the bedroom window and see one grazing not ten feet away. So I see a cow close by the fence, roll my eyes, and begin to walk away, and then Eli growls and marks his territory.

It’s a scary sound.

I take a closer look and there’s a cow on the other side of the fence. Our vehicles are parked outside the fence under or near the carport. Hasn’t been a problem so far. This cow is grazing between the fence and my Tundra. Also no biggie. I’ve seen them do it before. They’re docile and even the dogs barking doesn’t faze them all that much. Closer inspection reveals its the bull. The Bull. I’ve affectionately named him Horny Toad. That should tell you all.

I’m curious what’s going to happen next. He’s a thick, beefy sort, as you’d expect. He’s staring at Eli while he’s grazing and then he gives Eli the same stiff-legged and jaunty “I’m the man, and this here is MY property. You are a rodent I want to stomp.”

The bull turns to my truck, and not surprisingly licks the bumper and trailer hitch. *shudders*

Okay, you pervert, lick my bumper, just have at it.

As I watch, the truck starts rocking up and down ever so slightly. (Not to worry, y’all. It’s an older model 4-door Tundra we bought as a ranch truck, and to fit all four of us as the kid’s legs got longer, and for the kids to learn to drive in. It’s had a full life.) Anyway, the bull starts rubbing against the truck and it really starts rocking.

Son of a bitch!”

I spill my coffee, run outside in my nightgown and robe, “Get on outta here, you horny mother–

Thank goodness the landlord was nowhere in sight, because I scared the dogs for sure. The bull was less than impressed but he left off from humping my truck, for softer and perhaps more receptive hind quarters elsewhere on the acreage.

If I ever go outside and find my tail pipe broken off, y’all will be the first to know.

This place is beautiful. The property is thick with mature oak trees and this fall the fields were thick with yellow wildflowers. I don’t own this bit of heaven but I sure am enjoying it until we find our own.

Vain Heifer!

One day, I was working under the covered picnic area in the backyard. It’s fenced off from the house so I can work in peace without the dogs cold nosing my elbows every few minutes. (Surely I’m not the only one who is bugged by that sensation). The cows were wandering all around the house, grazing, and then I noticed one of the cows had gone over by my Camaro, which was parked under the carport.

Being protective of my car, I sneak over to investigate. The heifer was looking at her reflection on the side of the car. I caught her with my camera, peeking over the hood. Yes, I’m a tad nervous about the car, but I like our landlords, and the property. They’ve assured us any damages would be taken care of. Of all the things I have to worry about lately, this rates pretty low.

While I’m writing this to you, the bull is outside my window, singing his snort-y song of unrequited lust for my Toyota Tundra. The saga continues…


I hope you all are having a fine start to your fall and upcoming holiday season. There will be more updates in weeks to come, and probably more news from the ranch.

Seize the day, baby!


A Guest Chat with Bestiale and Charmeur of Beasts in Winter

Let me tell you something about fae enchantresses

They often have evil senses of humor. Earlier today, I was scheduled to meet one of my favorite bloggers to do an interview. I’d promised her I’d go along because the subjects of the interview might be a tad…prickly? Claws. Fangs. you get the picture.

I didn’t blame her for not wanting to go alone…

especially since the journey involved a dimension shifting portal. Rollercoasters aren’t my thing, and I wasn’t looking forward to that sensation so soon after the last time, but I showed up on time to make the trip, only…no portal. Only disembodied laughter told me I’d been had by Selena Eryaras, the fae enchantress / matchmaker herself.

Eniko, being the champ she is, handled the interview with the beasts on her own and I want to share the results with you. And the best part is that there are no spoilers. If you’re even remotely curious what the beasts are like in their own wintry environment, follow the link below.

My Chat with Bestiale and Charmeur


Make sure to enter Eniko’s drawing on this blog post, and while you’re there subscribe to her book blog and check out her other interviews with me and my characters. Oh, and count on the fact that the fae has other tricks up her sleeve for the rest of the Tangere Tales Trilogy, which will be available in the coming weeks.

Seize the day, baby!

Love, Heather

PS…seriously, you’re going to enjoy this interview. Eniko has guts. 😀

I WRITE FAIRY TALES! There, I said it!

After so many years of writing a contemporary erotic romance series set in a small Texas Hill Country town, why did I decide to write fairy tales?

That question has a few answers, and that’s what I thought I’d write about today.

I suppose anything I write could qualify as a fairy tale happily ever after. The heroine winds up with her heroes (usually multiples) and they do live happily ever after. That’s my job and I love it.

Then I decided to dabble in a true fairy tale world.

A land where magic exists. Beasts, princes, kings, and fae are bad ass and sexy. Oh, and hello, dragons! Villains, adversaries, and evil queens who are “I will eat your soul” kind of ominous and scary (mostly). But through it all, love prevails.

Taking a detour through the land of Tangere was refreshing because there are so many options in a magical realm.

Anything can happen.

I needed that uncertainty and opportunity, I suppose. And in the end, with the finished product in hand, I hoped readers would approve.

A close associate asked me a good question this morning.

“Have you really billed this trilogy as fairy tales?”

The question gave me pause. At Siren-BookStrand it’s categorized as “Contemporary, Fairy Tales/Myths, Fantasy, Menage a trois, Paranormal” in alphabetical order. I’ve mainly promoted the series as fantasy. I mean, obviously, with a titles like Beasts In Winter, I knew readers would see what I was going for, but when asked about this trilogy for the last year or so, I would always hesitate before calling them fairy tales. Why on Earth would I do that?

Fairy tales are simple bedtime stories that have been told to children for hundreds of years, embellished in our “modern” times for a wider audience. Maybe it’s because the themes seem so simple on the surface–how could they be made any better? Is it because some people still see fairy tales as childish, and why would I reinterpret a childish thing? Maybe because there are so many retellings already?

I don’t talk about what I write much to people in my everyday real life, but that’s because of privacy. I realized even in my online activity, the fairy tale aspect of what I was writing was not the first thing that I mentioned. Why? My best guess is that as a grown woman, I worry what people will think about me dabbling in fairy tales. After all, the classic fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Snow White, are first read to us when we’re little. Or we grew up watching the Disney interpretation of those fairy tales. And in the back of our minds, my mind, maybe that was always my ideal for a happily ever after. Now, here we are, grown women.

We KNOW that fairy tale happily-ever-afters are all too imperfect,

short-lived, or just plain non-existent. That doesn’t make us want them any less, but it did make me hesitant, I suppose, to talk about them.

I think part of me also kept this series close to my heart, giving as little information as I could without being downright reticent, because I feared that devoted readers of my contemporary series might not want to “jump” genres with me, although I know plenty of readers who do. Or maybe they would find that my interpretation of them would be repetitive of what other authors have tried to do.

We authors are a neurotic lot. Haven’t I ever mentioned that?

Anyway, I am over that reluctance. The truth is that my heart, sweat, and tears have gone into all three stories, even surprising myself with the elements that leaped from my imagination onto the page.  And I laughed and laughed while writing them. Maybe that’s why I loved them so much. But the love scenes are the heart and soul of the stories. I can make you laugh all day long, but if I haven’t made your heart swoop and pound at least a little, I haven’t done my job and merited my reader’s business.

These are not your mama’s fairy tales.

They certainly aren’t Hollywood’s politically correct fairy tales. And I hope you will discover between the pages that they are unlike any erotic retelling of a fairy tale that you have ever read before.

I’ve taken many of the familiar, well-loved landmarks from Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Snow White, embellished them with vivid imagery, added new elements, introduced a new set of secondary characters, and heated them up to the top of the scale for erotic romance. Oh, and they’re all ménage happily-ever-afters, if you haven’t guessed by the covers.

And here I am, loudly and proudly proclaiming


Information about each story is located on my website. Just click on the menu button and select Books in the Tangere Tales Trilogy, or click any of the links from the Home page to read the blurbs and excerpts. And read on for a fun look at Beasts in Winter, as well as snippets from Midnight of the Fae, and Dance of the Dragon Sorceress.


A rumbling sound nearby startled Angel,

and she opened her eyes, not remembering why they were closed. She couldn’t possibly have dozed off. Her awareness returned, along with a blast of freezing cold, and she gasped.

“Ho-Holy shit! Where am I?”

Meow,” the cat answered, its bright white fur blending in with the snow scene surrounding her. Brilliant sunlight lit the frozen landscape and another wave of chills hit her, reminding her she was clad in denim shorts, hiking boots, and a tank top—because it was summertime. As if to reinforce her confusion, snowflakes drifted around her and caught in her long auburn hair and sifted into her cleavage.

“We need to get out of here, wherever the hell here is. I know I promised to take you home, Miss Priss, but I’m freezing my ass off. You wanna go back home with me? It’s warmer there, and

I can hook you up with all the catnip your heart desires.”

The feline shimmied against her as if trying to keep her warm and then turned her shapely head and gazed off into the distance. Her purring grew loud enough to be audible over the gusting wind. A soft ringing sound drew Angel’s attention, and she noticed a bauble made of glass or crystal hung from the cat’s collar. Within the clear material was suspended a blue flower, like a violet. The cat looked into her eyes, as it began a pumping motion with its paws, “making biscuits,” as her grandmother would’ve said. The cat’s eyes were the same brilliant blue as the flower within the bauble.

The cat looked to the horizon again, and Angel understood why when she spotted the castle across a clearing, its roof peaks, chimneys, and architectural features piled with snow. Was she directing Angel there?

Wait, what? Directing me? I must be hallucinating.

Sunlight poured down on the palatial fortress, and the ice crystals covering the structure glittered, dazzling her for a moment. “Whoa. Sorry, pretty girl, but I need to go back. This…this is crazy.”

“Put down the animal.”

Chills rippled down her spine at the gritty, almost inhuman quality of the voice.

Don’t show fear. It’s not a bear or a monster. If they can speak, they can be reasoned with. Just don’t…show…fear.

“Are you deaf, or do you have a death wish? Put down the animal.” A hint of aggravation was plain in the accented syllables.

Angel turned and nearly lost her footing. Her knees wobbled, as well as her grip on the cat, who just kept purring and making biscuits. What stood before her was something out of her wildest, darkest dreams—no, not dreams. Nightmares.

“Holy…” Did one cuss in front of a monster? “Shit. What-what are you?”

Two massive beasts loomed before her.

Steam puffed from their mouths and their nostrils as they breathed the wintry air. Clothed in leather in an antiquated fashion, as if they were warriors of old, both also wore shaggy hooded cloaks that appeared to be made from the hides of bears.

She blinked up at them towering over her from several feet away and then looked at the blue-eyed cat, who seemed pleased to keep rubbing on her and purring, as though two hairy, threatening beasts weren’t standing ready to tear her limb from limb. Feeling as though she was standing at the widening void between reality and a really fucked-up fantasy, she realized she must be dreaming or losing it, and a hysterical giggle erupted from her throat.

“Did I trip and hit my head in the cave? Am I hallucinating? This can’t be real.”

Her moment of levity was cut short by the bulkier and scarier of the two, who growled again. “Put. Down. The. Animal.”

Totally real. Really real. Really really real. I’m gonna die.

Such a wave of terror coursed through her at the ferocious voice, she froze and slammed her eyes shut. The cat hissed and growled at the beast, and over the pounding of her heart in her ears and the chattering of her teeth, Angel thought she heard an amused snort.

“Fine,” the angry beast snarled, its voice as rough as a gravel truck driving on a bad road. “You’re not an animal. Woman, put down the feline and don’t move.”

Angel’s pulse roared in her ears, and her throat went dry as she darted her gaze around, looking at the snowy ground, anywhere but at the monsters. Looking for the cave. If she could reach it, it was her best chance for evasion. Her only chance. But the cave was nowhere in sight. Not hidden from view by the snowfall. There was no cave opening anywhere in sight, just a bare slope.

Normally the strategist among her friends, Angel could see only one option as she looked at the snow caking her boots and the castle beyond the clearing. The snow wasn’t terribly deep, and no way was she letting herself or the cat get eaten without at least trying to escape.

Woman, do as I say.

Put down the cat and do not think to run.” Another growl, angrier and more ferocious than the first, vibrated from his massive chest as she tucked the cat to her side and backed up a step. His eyes glowed silver as he advanced. The cat mewed plaintively to her, which she took for fear, and she exercised the only option her mind would consider.

Run! Now!

Beasts in Winter is available for pre-order now and releases Friday, October 20th.


And now, a snippet from my retelling of Cinderella, entitled Midnight of the Fae, coming Friday, November 1st…

“I thought you were a harmless little puppy, or I never would’ve slept with you, or undressed around you…told you all my secrets. Shit.”

“Or checked under my tail?” Leandre asked with a chuckle, feigning to defend himself as she glowered at him. “Sweet Caresse, every moment is a fond memory already. I never would’ve taken advantage of your vulnerability.”

“Oh, and licking my boobs isn’t taking just a little bit of advantage?”



And a little tidbit from my retelling of Snow White, entitled Dance of the Dragon Sorceress, coming December 1st…

The flickering firelight illuminated the resolute angle of Elaina’s jaw. “I don’t leave my friends, or the people I love, just because things get tough. If Angel and Caresse were here, they’d tell you the same thing. We stick together, or what good are we?”

“Elaina—” Rainger murmured, taking her other hand into his.

“No,” she replied, mirroring his gentle, cajoling tone.

Zayrgrud made a grating, rumbling sound deep in his chest and then let out a sigh—and a puff of black smoke.

A beaming smile transformed Elaina’s face, and she said, “Well, at least Zayrgrud the Terrifying can see reason.”

Basile smirked. “He just knows a stubborn woman when he sees one.”

“Pigheaded,” Bleu the Irascible muttered.

“Imprudent,” Jaune the Cautious agreed.

“Foolhardy,” Vert the Protective said.

“Tenacious!” Orange the Amiable crowed as he reached over and yanked at the rolls of cloth that still waggled from Bleu’s broken nose.

“Ow! What did you do that for?” Bleu howled as he put his hand to his nose, as if checking for blood.

“It was time, you ninny! You left them in just to gain Elaina’s sympathy.”


Okay, I’m done teasing…for now.

I just can’t wait to share with you what it looks like in my imagination when the fairy godmother isn’t a fairy godmother, and when the seven dwarves are actually seven brawling knights dedicated to saving the dragons of Tangere.

Seize the day, baby!

Love, Heather

Books in the Tangere Tales Trilogy

Wonder Woman…with really REALLY Sore Feet.

A lot can change in a month.

In my case, a lot of progress has been made behind the scenes; not all of it is visible to my readers because I’ve become even more careful about sharing, unless, it’s on my terms.

The books, and all the work involved in bringing them to fruition, are coming along and looking beautiful. I’ve gotten new covers, new graphic artwork, both for the trilogy but also for the boxed sets coming out in conjunction with the fantasy trilogy.




A tough year…

The last twelve months have been varying degrees of heaven and hell but I honestly think it’s all worked together to help me create what could be my best work this year.

I made the mistake of posting a warm, relevant, and encouraging meme on Facebook last month. You’d think I’d know better after seven years, but no good deed goes unpunished by the perpetually offended. I stay away from politics and try to stick to encouraging readers when I’m not actively sharing about books coming out. I subscribe to the belief that entertainers, of any kind, owe any following and success they have to the people they entertain. Having amassed that following doesn’t give them to right to step on their fan’s toes by getting political. A true artist knows that the best way to express themselves is through their art and not through an unwilling audience. It destroys the escape and disillusions our audience about who we are.

Maybe I’m being hypercritical,

but I agree with the moviegoer who said (paraphrasing), “When you’re not entertaining me, I want you to go back in your box and shut up. I’m not interested in your political views.” Harsh? Maybe, but I agree. I’ve got a 50/50 chance of offending someone if I start sharing my political views. Having worked (literally) as hard as I can to create a world where readers can escape reality, why would I shoot myself in the foot just to vent a little steam? Professionals should know better.

Long story short, that meme I intended for comfort and encouragement got hijacked by people who, up until that moment, I’d truly respected, one of whom was a personal hero of mine. I was unfriended because I refused to sign on to an (at the time) politically correct ideology. I wound up taking down the graphic and walking away from the whole conversation, reminding myself I’m here to write love stories, not argue with trolls. And time showed that I was correct in that earlier choice.

On the home front…

While all this was going on, we were selling our home and packing up and moving. Sometimes dreams, even good ones, are temporary things. Mr. R and I are building a new dream after coming to the conclusion that we’d bitten off more than we could chew with 25 acres that needed constant care, repair, and maintenance.

Yes, I mourned leaving my house, my quiet privacy, my bees, my built-in book cases, my whole house wired for sound, and my enormous closet. And that huge shower with enough elbow room for five people, much less two.

We’re downsizing but Mr R knows better than to think that means tiny-sizing. He’s a generous man. We’ve moved into a leased home that has a similar amount of square footage. It’s an older, rambling ranch-style home located in the midst of a huge cattle ranch. The dogs love the yard, and I love the hundreds of acres of majestic oak trees. The interior is rustic and quaint, and I still have a separate office space, so I’m happy. I’m better than happy, actually. I’m relaxed. Relaxed means I’m open to possibilities, and renewed creativity.

I don’t want to even think about moving again right now, but Mr R is already sketching new house plans. It’s what he does, and one of the things I love about him. I hope y’all will stay along with me for the ride like you did with the last one.

One last note about the new place~

We have an unusual neighbor. A badger lives beneath a shed near one of the ranch barns, right near our house. I don’t want to meet him. At all. Oh, and there are calves! They’re so cute gamboling around their mamas between naps and grazing.

Somehow I managed to get books submitted, the house packed up and moved in August and then unpacked in September.

I’m fricking Wonder Woman…with really really sore feet. 😀

Besides writing this post, I spent today updating the website with book covers and cool graphics for the Tangere Tales Trilogy and the two new boxed sets (Volumes 2 and 3). I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look around and let me know what you think of the new appearance. Make sure to check out the trilogy book pages for extra goodies like this one…

Some dates for you to mark on your calendars before I sign off…

10/10 ~ release date Boxed Set Volume 2
10/20 ~ release date for Beasts In Winter, Tangere Tales 1
10/31 ~ release date Boxed Set Volume 3
11/10 ~ release date for Midnight of the Fae, Tangere Tales 2
12/1 ~ release date for Dance of the Dragon Sorceress, Tangere Tales 3
12/22 ~ release date for next Divine Creek Ranch story (Website page coming soon)

Join my Book Discussion Group on Facebook to participate in conversations about the series and the new releases.

~Seize the day, baby!
Love, Heather

Works in Progress

Coming Up For Air…

May 8, 2017

This is quick update shared from my Work in Progress page about what I’m working on. At the beginning of April I was working on an update to this page. I was in a hurry then, too, because we were in between severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches. I thought I’d posted the update before I shut things down, but I guess I wasn’t successful.

Anyway, things have progressed at a steady clip since then so I’m giving it another go with the update.

Personally, I’m doing fine. I’m still battling frequent tension headaches and migraines, with some sinus pressure thrown in just to keep things interesting. My thyroid medications have been adjusted so I’m doing well in that regard, too. Hypothyroid brain fog is not a symptom that should be disregarded. I tried to tough it out for years but I’m making my well being a priority now.

Feeling better means I feel like working again. My writing routine is back to “normal” and I look forward to continuing this journey as an author.

In Divine, Texas…

Operation Ginger Avenger is progressing. It looks like this book spans several seasons, which it should, since Jessica’s issues are not the kind of thing a heroine could overcome in the span of weeks or a month.

Jessica Bright was introduced in Divine Charity (Book 18 in the series) and she’s popped up in a few of the subsequent books, obviously reluctant to take many personal risks in relationships. And who could blame her? Her daughter Bella is a toddler/preschooler in the scope of this story, and full of spunk and giggles. The redheaded heroes, Tank and Troy, are helping Jessica stretch out of her comfort zone and reminding her that she’s more than just a mom, she’s also a woman with needs.

Here’s a brief taste from Operation Ginger Avenger

Tank turned to find Jessica standing in the doorway to the living room, watching them, wringing her hands together. Where Jessica and her nerves were concerned, to hesitate was to lose the moment.

“What were you talking about?” she asked.

Before Troy could say something about the weather, Tank blurted, “Keeping you warm when it’s cold.”

Her half smile disappeared and she wrapped her arms around herself. The way she turned to the doorframe and hunched her shoulders was the last straw for him. “Come here, Jessica.”

The Tangere Tales Trilogy

I know that title sounds odd coming from me, because up until now I’ve kept my work firmly in the contemporary world. I started this project last year. A trilogy of erotic ménage retellings of classic fairy tales with my own personal twist. I’m approaching these differently than I do my other works. I’ll complete all three tales and release them close together, since there is some synchronicity to the story lines.

All went well in the writing of the first story, Beasts In Winter (You guessed it! A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, my own personal favorite fairy tale).

A Snippet from Beasts in Winter…

The feline shimmied against her as if trying to keep her warm and then turned her shapely head and gazed off into the distance. Her purring grew loud enough to be audible over the gusting wind. A soft ringing sound drew Angel’s attention and she noticed a bauble made of glass or crystal hung from the cat’s collar. Within the clear material was suspended a blue flower, like a violet. The cat looked into her eyes, as it began a pumping motion with its paws, “making biscuits,” as her grandmother would’ve said. The cat’s eyes were the same brilliant blue as the flower within the bauble.

The cat looked to the horizon again and Angel understood why when she spotted the castle across a clearing, its roof peaks, chimneys, and architectural features piled with snow. Was she directing her there?

Wait, what? Directing me? I must be hallucinating.

Sunlight poured down on the palatial fortress and the ice crystals covering the structure glittered, dazzling her for a moment. “Whoa. Sorry, pretty girl, but I need to go back. This…this is crazy.”

“Put down the animal.”

Chills rippled down her spine at the gritty, almost inhuman quality of the voice.

Don’t show fear. It’s not a bear or a monster. If they can speak they can be reasoned with. Just don’t…show…fear.

“Are you deaf or do you have a death wish? Put down the animal.”

Angel turned and nearly lost her footing. Her knees wobbled, as well as her grip on the cat, who just kept purring and making biscuits. What stood before her was something out of her wildest, darkest dreams—no, not dreams. Nightmares.

“Holy…” Did one cuss in front of a monster? “Shit. What-what are you?”

Two massive beasts loomed before her.

Steam puffed from their mouths and their nostrils as they breathed the wintry air. Clothed in leather in an antiquated fashion, as if they were warriors of old, both also wore shaggy hooded cloaks that appeared to be made from the hides of bears.

She blinked and looked up at them towering over her from several feet away and then looked at the blue-eyed cat, who seemed pleased to keep rubbing on her and purring, as though two hairy, threatening beasts weren’t standing ready to tear her limb from limb. Feeling as though she was standing at the widening void between reality and a really fucked up fantasy, she realized she must be dreaming or losing it—and a hysterical giggle erupted from her throat. “Did I trip and hit my head in the cave? Jeez, and we tease Elaina about being the clumsy one. Am I hallucinating? This can’t be real.”

Her moment of levity was cut short by the bulkier and scarier of the two, who growled again. “Put. Down. The. Animal.”

Totally real. Really real. Really really real. I’m gonna die.

Such a wave of terror coursed through her at the ferocious voice, she froze and slammed her eyes shut. The cat hissed and growled at the beast, and over the pounding of her heart in her ears and the chattering of her teeth Angel thought she heard an amused snort.

“Fine,” the angry beast snarled, its voice as rough as a gravel truck driving on a bad road. “You’re not an animal. Woman, put down the feline and don’t move.”

Pulse roaring in her ears, Angel’s throat went dry as she darted her gaze around, looking at the snowy ground, anywhere but at the monsters. Looking for the cave. If she could reach it, it was her best chance for evasion. Her only chance. But the cave was nowhere in sight. Not hidden from view by the snowfall. There was no cave opening anywhere in sight, just a bare slope.

Normally the strategist among her friends, only one idea came to her mind as she looked at the snow caking her boots and the castle beyond the clearing. The snow wasn’t terribly deep and no way was she letting herself or the cat get eaten without at least trying to escape.

Woman, do as I say. Put down the cat and do not think to run.”

Another growl, angrier and more ferocious than the first, vibrated from his massive chest as she tucked the cat to her side and backed up a step. His eyes glowed silver as he advanced. The cat mewed plaintively to her, which she took for fear, and she exercised the only option her mind would consider.

Run! Now!

In the midst of writing the second story,

Midnight of the Fae (a retelling of Cinderella) I hit a wall creatively, personally, and online. I set the project aside, promising myself that I’d go back and figure out where I went wrong in telling that story.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been working on the trilogy, writing the second draft of Beasts In Winter, and then moving on to Midnight of the Fae. I’m happy to say that with a little help from my muse, inspiring music, and my awesome PA Lily Castle I found the problem. It’s fixed now. I can move forward and complete that story and move right into The Dance of the Dragon Sorceress(retelling Snow White) as soon as I finish.

I know fantasy is not every reader’s cup of tea

but I’m counting on a simple belief that I hope readers share with me. If I love an author’s style, I will read everything they write. I hope my readers will make this jump with me from contemporary. I’ll still be writing Divine Creek Ranch stories, don’t worry. I’m just stretching my creative wings. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to finally pinpoint the problem in that story. Nothing throws an author quite like not being able to figure out where they went wrong in a story.

If I can go back to Divine for a minute…

(and yeah, I know this is no longer a short update, but when have I ever been able to say hello in less than 80,000 words? 😀 )

Readers have told me over the years how much they enjoy the appearances of past main characters in my Divine Creek Ranch stories, whether it’s a major role or just a simple cameo. If you’re one of those readers, you’re going to love Operation Ginger Avenger. Because of certain story elements, past characters are popping up all over the place. Grace is pregnant up to her eyeballs, Lydia is cooking up all kinds of mischief, Bunny is in trouble again, or still, and Hank’s fan girls find the map to Divine and finally come to town. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates about the series, and join my reader’s group, Divine Divas, for insider information about what I’m up to. There is also a Divine Creek Ranch Book Discussion group, where the stories are discussed regularly. I share excerpts from my works in progress from both groups as well as inspiration pictures, eye candy, music, and whatever else pertains to my writing the series.

Email me to be added to the Divine Divas, and you can click the link below to be added to the Book Discussion Group. You’ll also find links on my Contact Heather page. Just click on the menu button.

I know many of you want one question answered.

“When are these books coming out?” This year is my plan. I appreciate your patience, and count on the fact that when I have release dates I will publicize them here and online. I love making readers happy but I’ve come to terms with the fact I can’t rush the creative process. I’d rather take the time and make it worth your wait than apologize for hastily written stories. Just know that I’m at the keyboard on a daily basis now.

That’s it for now.

Seize the day, baby! ~H


discussion group pic 2 (1)

Do you like book discussion groups? Consider joining the Divine Creek Ranch Collection Discussion Group on Facebook to discuss the series. It’s a moderated, closed group so posts are private, and you won’t get fussed at for sharing spoilers, either. Just follow the link and click to join.

Works in Progress

Books in the Tangere Tales Trilogy


The Woobie Spirit of Christmas Past

Awakened by a subtle movement

from the lush form curved to his side, Ivan Cutter blinked and listened to the stillness of the house. The heater kicked on and he shifted carefully from his back to his side facing the center of the bed.

Christmas Time.Christmas candle and decoration. Christmas border design on the wooden background. Christmas fir tree with christmas candle and decoration.

Cassie responded to his movement, snuggling closer to his warmth as she shivered. Wondering briefly if he was dreaming, he drew the blanket back up over her shoulder. She’d pushed it down in her sleep and her skin had cooled. He slid his hand under the blanket and rested it on her upper arm, sharing his warmth with her.

A flicker of something metallic caught his eye. He gazed sleepily at the Christmas snow globe she’d placed on the dresser in the corner. It’d played “O Holy Night” when she’d wound it up and placed it there the night before while decorating her house for Christmas. Even though they didn’t often sleep there, she’d still wanted the house to be festive for when her kids came home from college.

She sighed and murmured in her sleep and he leaned down to kiss her head as she stilled once more. Drifting back to sleep, he remembered a time when it would’ve been impossible to touch her like that, to share this precious space next to her…to share her love with the man who knew him better than he knew himself. His brother, and identical twin, Samson, who snored softly on her other side.

By their junior year of high school

he’d honed the ability to hide his adoration for his brother’s sweet-spirited girlfriend. He could smile, joke, and converse with her in a crowded classroom, restaurant, or family living room without giving his secret away. He had no choice, because the idea of avoiding or ignoring her was just too painful. If he couldn’t have her at his side to gaze at with open affection like Samson could, at least she was still near him, sharing her soothing presence with him.

If he was competitive like Samson, he might’ve let her know how he felt early on and forced her to choose between them, given her “options,” but he wasn’t wired that way. He didn’t begrudge Samson that he had his heart’s desire at his side. But it didn’t change the way he felt about her, either.

During the December of that year, their mother had invited Cassie over for a fun night of Christmas decorating, something they’d discovered that she loved doing. Once they’d been old enough to hang the ornaments on the tree, Mom had always left the decorating to him and Samson. Their often lopsided efforts over the years had been fairly pathetic and likely would’ve driven anyone with OCD tendencies to a conniption—and then Samson had begun dating Cassie in their freshman year.

front room decorated for christmas with christmas tree stockings and fireplace

So Ivan had made a huge pot of chili

and Cassie was on her way over, bringing tamales that she and her mother had made themselves at Rudy’s, the family restaurant her father and her uncles all owned together. Mom had gotten down a couple of jars of peaches she’d preserved earlier in the summer and had just put a peach cobbler in the oven when the phone rang.

Ivan tasted the chili as his mother conversed on the phone and had then hung up. “Your dad has to respond to a fire emergency. It’ll be a few hours, he suspects, before he’s done.” Their father was the chief of their local volunteer fire department and had been up at the headquarters all afternoon.

“There’s plenty of chili, and it’ll only get better as it simmers” he said, setting the spoon aside. He was slicing the green onions for a garnish when the phone rang again a few minutes later. Because his hands were damp, he let his mom grab the corded handset hanging from the wall.

“Hello?” she said with her usual cheerfulness. “Oh. Oh no. I’ll be there in a few minutes. It’s okay, the guys can hold the fort down for a little while.”

Five minutes later,

Mom was wrapped in her heavy coat and out the door, on the way to their grandmother’s house to investigate a heavily leaking kitchen faucet. Their mom had been raised on a ranch and taught how to handle a wide range of mishaps on her own and was pretty handy with a wrench.

Samson was thumping around in the finished attic room upstairs, locating all the Christmas decorations when Ivan heard the dogs barking outside and the sound of a car door closing.

He went out the back door and found her reaching into the back seat of the old Mercury she drove with the dogs all gathered around her. “Shoo, mutts, shoo! Here, let me help,” he said as he reached for the foil covered roaster she was lifting out of the backseat.

She was wrapped up in her puffy blue jacket

and was wearing a festive red and green knit hat with a matching scarf wrapped around her neck. Her warm, sherry-colored eyes twinkled as she smiled at him and held the roaster out.

He took the heavy pan from her and said, “Holy mackerel, how many tamales did you bring?”

She rubbed her mitten covered hands together and said, “Enough for your folks to enjoy for the rest of the month, besides what we can eat tonight. It’s my gift to your family.”

“Oh man, are you kidding?” She and her mom made the best tamales. “It feels like there’s enough here to keep us in tamales for a few months at least.”

“I’m trying to be creative with gifts, since I’m saving all my tips for college now.”

“Good idea. Come on in,” he said with a gesture of his head, and they went around to the back door, where the dogs were now begging to be let inside.

“Good boy! Good boy!”

Cassie said as she squatted down to greet their conglomeration of mixed breed dogs. Her laughter as the dogs crowded in for her attention was contagious and he was glad his hands were already full. She didn’t realize how her position put her assets on display. His rebellious cock did, however. Sometimes being around her was a series of mental exercises trying to keep his dick in line. She wasn’t his but according to his libido that was neither here nor there.

The dogs jumped up on him when they caught a whiff of the tamales and he said, “Open the back door, would you?” as she laughed at his predicament. Their feet got tangled up with the dogs on the porch steps as she tried to pass him.

“Whoa!” she crowed as she grabbed him around his middle, trying to keep her balance. “Well, at least you’re nice and warm,” she added as her arms slid up inside his coat.

With the pan hoisted precariously over his head,

he couldn’t help her, and chuckled to hide his groan as he leaned against the door frame and tried to shield her from the dogs.  “Hold on to me, Cassie. Bad dogs! Bad dogs!”

His dick started tingling and he knew it was a matter of seconds before she realized what she was rubbing her hip against as she tried fruitlessly to turn the door knob. Her mittened hands kept slipping off the knob.

She looked up at him and laughed. “You okay with those? I’m gonna take off my mittens so I can get a better grip with my hands.”

You have no idea how much I wish you could!

The door suddenly fell open with a good, firm turn on that lucky knob, and they were inside along with half of the dogs.

“Out! Out, boys!” she said as she blocked them with her booted feet while he carried the pan into the kitchen and set it on the island.

After hanging up her coat and stuff, and washing her hands, she opened the foil on the roaster and began dividing up the tamales. “I thought that two dozen would be enough for the five of us tonight.”

“Better make it three, to be safe,” he said as he stirred the chili. The scent made his mouth water, and so did the sensual sound she made as she crowded in close to his side and looked in the pot.

“I can’t wait to taste it, Ivan.

It looks and smells so yummy!” she murmured in a velvety voice that gave him a sweet shiver up his backbone. His mom had taught him how to cook a few things and he’d found that he enjoyed the process. He shared a love of cooking with Cassie, which was also very cool.

“Here. Taste it for me,” he replied as he handed her the spoon he’d been stirring with. “You’ll never believe what we got our hands on to watch tonight.”

“What?” she said as she lifted a spoonful. She parted her lips—and he licked his—as she tested the temperature with the tip of her tongue before opening her mouth wider to take a spoonful. Her face was made even more lovely as she smiled and then moaned over the mouthful. Dipping the spoon in the pot for another bite, she looked over at him and grinned. “What?”

“What?” he asked, blinking as the totally erotic sound she’d made over his cooking replayed over and over in his mind. Was that what she’d sound like if—

“What did you get for us to watch?” she asked, her cheeks filling with color as he continued staring at her.

“Oh,” he said, his breath catching in his throat a little.

“Our cousin has pay-per-view on their big satellite dish and he recorded Star Wars for us. Samson and I thought you’d like to watch that tonight. If that would be okay?”

“Of course,” she said as she gazed into the pot and stirred, then took a blissful whiff from the fragrant steam.

christmas tree ornaments on tree

He licked his lips as he watched her beautiful face, unobserved. God, I love you. “I mean, I guess we could always go see a movie, if…if it’s kind of lame to watch something on the VCR.”

“No,” she said with a shake of her head before tasting another tiny bit. “I want to stay here with you and your family. And who will decorate the tree? That’s why your mom invited me over.”

“She invited you over because she likes you, but yeah, if you don’t do it, I won’t be able to vouch for the results.”

She giggled, set the spoon down, and returned to unpacking the roaster. “I brought regular pork tamales, and see these here that are tied differently with a knot? Those are for your dad. They have jalapeños in them since I know he likes them. And these are the bean and cheese tamales for your mom. The rest are plain pork.”

“These smell fantastic, Cassie. Thank you,” he said as he turned to her, intending to give her a safe, brotherly hug. She smiled at him and put her arms around him, leaning in so her head nestled against his shoulder. He concentrated on the sweet scent of her shampoo to give himself something else to think about besides the way her plush breasts felt against his chest.

She gave him a squeeze

as she rested her cheek briefly against his chest. “You’re nice and warm. You and your brother give such wonderful hugs. Did you know that? I always feel so safe with y’all, no matter what,” she added, her tone trailing off. Besides her mom, Ivan didn’t think she got very many hugs at home.

All thoughts of how damned good she felt were forgotten as he leaned back to look down at her. “Everything okay at home?”

She gave him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes and kept her lips pressed together. “Dad wasn’t all that happy that I was coming over here tonight. He wanted me to work a shift at the restaurant but Mom told him no, that I’d asked permission for this night off, and out, over a week ago.”

“So he decided to let you go?”

Her smile grew a little wider. “Mom helped me pack the roaster and told me to go on and have fun while he was in the restroom. She said she would deal with him.”

“Oh, man,” he said with a groan. “Does that mean he’s going to be mad at you when you get home? I hate the thought of him yelling at you…like he did that time in the restaurant.” Her dad had let her have it because she’d forgotten and seated them in a section of the restaurant he wanted to close off to clean. The whole restaurant had heard him ranting. Ivan was just glad that soon enough she’d be off to college and out from under her father’s thumb. Unfortunately, that also meant he wouldn’t see her every day.

“Nah, Mom said she’d take care of it, and that he can’t expect us to work all the time—like he does. Thank you for being so protective, Ivan” She gave him one more gentle squeeze and then let go. “Your house always smells so good. Where’s Samson?” A thump came from above their heads and she said, “I’ll go help him get the decorations down the stairs. Where’s your folks?”

“Handling various emergencies,” he said over the clatter he made as he got bowls, plates, and utensils out for that evening’s meal. “Dad is on a fire call and Mom ran over to Grandma’s to help her with something. They should be home soon.”

He listened to the sound of thumping footsteps overhead,

followed by a long pause, during which he could imagine his brother kissing his girlfriend. That was what he’d be doing in the semi-privacy of the attic. Leaning against the counter, he tried to get his ever-present half-boner under control. When she was in the room, he had to fight not to watch her every move, even as he hung on her every word, every reaction. It was a wonder no one had realized yet that he was in love with his twin brother’s girl.

While he stayed busy unwrapping the foil packages of tamales and arranging them on a small platter, making iced tea, and setting the table, Samson and Cassie brought down several boxes filled with decorations and ornaments to hang on the bare tree that was already set up in front of the picture window.

The phone rang while they were opening the boxes, and Ivan answered it. “Hello?”

“Ivan, honey, it’s Mom.”

“Mom, how do you always know whether it’s me or Samson?” She hardly ever got it wrong when she called home.

“I’ve always been able to tell you apart since you were babies. I could take one look or pause to listen and know instantly. Of course you’re easier to tell apart in person since your hair is longer now. Listen, I just talked to your dad over the two-way radio and the grass fire he’s working on is near that new subdivision. They were going to let it burn itself out but then the wind shifted, so he has to stay out there.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m still at your Grandma’s. When she called, she neglected to tell me that she hurt her hand trying to use the pipe wrench. I want her to get it looked at in the emergency room. I’m afraid she needs stitches, and you know what that means, right?”

“You’ll be up there all night, waiting. Want me to bring you a plate of food?”

“No, honey, but thank you. That’s another way I can tell I’m talking to Ivan. Always wanting to feed and take care of everyone.”

With a chuckle, he said, “I got that from you, you know.”

“Save us some tamales, and tell Cassie I said hello. Who knows, with any luck I could be home before midnight.” She paused before continuing. “You know I trust you both, but do you think it might be better if Cassie went home? I wouldn’t want her to get in trouble if it ever got back to her father that your father and I weren’t home while the three of you were there alone.”

“I’ll mention it to her.”

A few minutes later, after they’d sat down to eat at the dining room table, he did bring it up, but Cassie shook her head. “I’m not telling my dad, and I know that neither of you will, either. My mom knows I’m a good girl, and the two of you know—I mean—you know that, Samson. I feel perfectly safe with both of you. Far as I’m concerned, this is our secret.”

Her words registered over the buzzing in Ivan’s head.

And that’s not the only secret. Or at least it wasn’t going to be, if Mr. Insta-Boner didn’t stop rearing his inflating head. Once he was able to think again, he noticed the flush in her cheeks, as well as the curious way Samson kept glancing at him.

The quiet during the rest of meal was interrupted only by compliments on the tamales and chili but the tension seemed to ease up a bit when Ivan got out the video cassette tape and turned on the VCR.

Still seeming a little flushed,

Cassie sat on the floor in front of Samson and began unpacking the tree ornaments from one of the boxes and grouping them together on the coffee table as the opening music began. Ivan watched as Samson gathered her long, sleek waves of hair into one thick bundle and began twisting it. Her hands came to a rest on the coffee table as the chapter heading for “Chapter IV: A New Hope” began to roll up the screen.

Even though he’d saved the tape to watch with her, and hadn’t seen the movie since watching it in the theater, he surreptitiously kept his eyes on her. Cassie’s gaze was focused on the screen but there came a point when her attention turned elsewhere, evidenced by the gooseflesh that came in waves up and down her arms.

Samson continued playing with her hair,

seemingly oblivious to her reaction, while he watched the movie. Or at least that was how he appeared. He toyed with the long rope over and over, tugging lightly as he twisted and released it, to start the process all over again. The ornaments forgotten, she slowly relaxed back against the couch between his feet and wrapped one arm around his calf and rested her hand on his knee.

Samson began gently pulling on the ends with the tips of his fingers, just a strand or two at a time, and though he was watching the movie, a slight smile appeared on his face when Cassie gasped and shuddered.

Action happened on the screen, drawing Ivan’s attention, and he was grateful for it when he saw Cassie turn her head to look at him. He kept his attention on the screen, thankful he had a throw pillow in his lap so she couldn’t see his rather crowded groin-al area.

Samson leaned down to her and she whispered to him, and then softly, but not so softly that Ivan couldn’t hear, Samson said, “No, baby, he doesn’t mind.”

Fuck, no. Why would I mind?

After that, they settled in to watch the movie and she arranged the multicolored lights on the branches and began putting the ornaments on the tree. He’d been excited to watch the movie again but it was no competition when she was nearby, moving around, reaching, bending, squatting, and then stretching as Samson lifted her by her waist to place the angel on the very top branch.

She tugged the hem of her sweater down after Samson had placed her back on her feet, and then hesitated only for a second when he beckoned for her to come and sit between the two of them.

He knew a few girls who might’ve taken that invitation to mean getting cozier and seeing where things went, but it wasn’t like that with Cassie. Samson might’ve enjoyed playing with her hair, but he didn’t push things by trying to feel her up, nor did Ivan expect him to. The guy had too much respect for Cassie, and for himself. He took the fact that she was in their care seriously,

they both did.

At the mid-point in the movie, he got up and went to the kitchen to dish up the peach cobbler which had been cooling on the counter. He smiled when he saw their heads come together over the top of the couch. If she was his, he’d be sneaking smooches, too.

Samson paused the movie and they joined him at the kitchen island. After her first bite, Cassie said, “Think your mother would give me the recipe for this cobbler, Ivan? It’s so good!” She licked the juice from her lips and he almost forgot she’d addressed him until Samson waved a hand in front of his face.


“Oh, the recipe! Yeah, she probably would. I’ve tried to make it before, according to what she has written down on the recipe card but it never turns out the same for me. She has a secret she’s not telling.”

Samson groaned happily as he took another big bite. “Moms have magic hands. They touch stuff and it just makes it taste better.”

Cassie giggled. “Awww, that is so sweet. I’m going to tell her you said that. Maybe I can finagle the missing ingredient out of her, too.”

Samson smiled warmly at her and said, “Maybe you can.”

Christmas gift box and baubles. Christmas and New Year celebration. Decorated Christmas tree with various gifts Holiday Christmas scene. Christmas gifts under the Christmas tree

When they restarted the movie,

she snuggled in between them and leaned against Samson’s shoulder. During the scene near the end with Darth Vader at his scary best, Cassie reached out to both of them at the same time and grabbed hold. Samson covered her hand with his and caressed the top of it as she cuddled closer to him and hid half of her face as Darth Vader fought Obi Wan for the last time.

Reminded of the difference in their sizes, Ivan looked down at the little hand covering his and wondered what to do, until he finally, slowly, cautiously turned his hand under hers and clasped their fingers together. He looked up into her warm sherry-colored eyes and blushed like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. She squeezed his hand, and then turned back to the screen, wincing as Obi Wan fell under Vader’s fatal blow. “Oh no.”

The movie ended a little after nine o’clock

and Ivan knew her curfew on Friday and Saturday nights was ten o’clock, unless special permission was given for sporting events or other occasions.

She got up and stretched when they turned off the VCR and said, “Well, I might’ve been able to get away from my Dad without him reneging on his permission for my evening plans but I definitely don’t want to push the curfew. Could I take some of the cobbler home for my mom to try?”

“Of course.”

Ivan put two hefty servings in a Tupperware container, figuring that her father could try some, too, and maybe it would sweeten his disposition some.

“I’ll walk you out,” Samson said as he slipped into his coat and then held hers open for her.

She went to Ivan and gave him a hug

and the soft sound she made was so sweet that it made his heart hurt. “Thank you for supper, Ivan, and for letting me watch Star Wars with you. I enjoyed it.” She patted his bicep and then went back to Samson who had her little knit hat perched ridiculously on top of his head. His expression was full of tenderness as he wrapped the scarf around her neck while she tugged on her mittens. She giggled as he slid her hat on and then she waved to Ivan once more and was gone.

Ivan leaned against the kitchen island, rubbing the center of his chest. Given the trajectory they were on, it was entirely possible that Samson and Cassie might be married after high school, either before or after he and Samson went into the Army.

What a sweet, yet painful addition she would be to their family.

His mom and dad thought the world of her. He worshiped the ground she walked on, from afar. And Samson was completely devoted to her. Was it more painful to have her in the family…or to never see her again? He never wanted to find out.

“You okay?” Samson asked as he closed the back door on the cold draft blowing through as he came back inside. He went to the sink and ran hot water on the dishes in the sink and put the stopper in the drain, preparing to wash them, since Ivan had done the cooking.

“Yeah. I think I’m going to go take a shower and hit the sack.”

“’Kay.” Right as he was about to enter the hallway, Samson said, “She’s pretty special, huh?’

Ivan could guess at the depths of how Samson felt. They were twins and had always shared a sort of twin’s connection. How he felt was in his eyes, his expression, and even in the inflection of his voice when she was the subject of conversation.

Ivan paused in the hallway opening. “Really special. You’re a lucky guy.”

“Yeah, I am. I think she thinks you’re special, too.”

Ivan grinned. “Yeah, I am. But I’m not dating you.”

Samson’s laughter rumbled over the sound of the water running into the sink. “G’night, asshole.”

His body was every bit as confused and twisted up as his mind was over Cassie. Why couldn’t he be attracted to some other girl? Why was she the only one he could see? The only one who made him feel so alive it was nearly painful. The hot water pummeled his head as he lathered his body and he tried to ignore his painfully hard dick. Thoughts of her had brought it to throbbing life as he’d removed his clothing and the thing just wouldn’t take the hint.

What he deserved was an ice cold shower

for wanting his brother’s girlfriend, for wishing it was him holding her, kissing her in the dark, smiling at her like that, and for imagining what it would be like to make love to such an angel.

His resolve cracked as he imagined the feel of her soft, warm skin pressed against him. He slid his hand down his torso to his aching cock, drawing forth a hiss as he tightened his grip around it. He fantasized about not stopping at a smile and a hug, peeling her sweater and jeans off and her straddling him. Getting lost in all that silky dark hair of hers. His dick grew long and hard in his grasp, and he hurt with need for her—


He blinked his eyes and his breath caught as he realized where he was…and when.

She loomed over him in the shadows, her long hair falling cool across his chest and then his face as she smiled down at him. He realized his cock was fully erect, ready for action, and her soft, delicate hand was wrapped around it.

“That was some sexy dream you were having, baby,” she whispered before licking his bottom lip.

“This one is even better,” he whispered as he flipped her onto her back, jostling Samson awake with a snort.

Cassie giggled and squirmed under him, rubbing her pussy against his shaft. “Have I told you lately how much I love the way you wrap me up…both of you. I love how big, and tall…and solid you are. When you sleep, your skin gets hot and then you want to wrap me in your arms when you wake. There’s nothing sweeter than woobie lovin’.”

“Unless it’s double woobie lovin’,”

Samson said with a gravelly chuckle as he leaned toward her and brushed a lock of hair from her beautiful face.

Giggling, she angled her head to kiss Samson as he turned onto his side and watched as Ivan clasped her leg around his waist and slid deep in one solid stroke, drawing a pleased moan from her.

From the top of his head to the tips of his toes, waves of heat shimmered over him, intensifying with each thrust within her honeyed, tight depths. Her slick heat encompassed him, growing tighter as she rocked with him, drawing him deeper and loving him harder, banishing the dream. Thank God that dream was over, because this one was so much better. She’d had a heart big enough to love them both all along.

The End…for now 😉

©Heather Rainier 2015 All rights reserved


Gentle Giants, also known in Divine as woobies,

are a special character facet in heroes I’ve featured in the Divine Creek Ranch Collection. Beyond just the sheer size of them, woobies are all about their heroine’s safety and comfort. They’re at ease with themselves, and they unapologetically adore of their heroines. As laidback as they may seem, they are just as  protective as any alpha and possess the uncanny ability to make the world go away within the circle of their big, strong arms. These are just some of the reasons woobie-ness is one of my favorite character traits to build into a hero.

**UPDATE: If you’d like to read the contemporary novel featuring Cassie, Samson, and Ivan’s love story, visit the book page for How Cassie Got Her Grind Back**

It’s a Very Woobie Christmas in Divine, Texas (2014), my first short story of this kind, featured a (back then) recently introduced character, in the person of Dr. Jessica Bright, and her two woobies, Tank and Troy, whose love story finally comes about in Operation Ginger Avenger.

Also be watching for the 2017 edition of the Woobie Christmas story, “All I Want for Christmas is a Woobie Under My Tree.”

If you’re not already, subscribe and stay “up” with what’s going on in Divine, and with me.

Seize the day, baby!

Love, ~H

Red sparkly Christmas Bulb Decorations and a gold tree topper star are in the corner framing a white background with the words Merry Christmas written.

A Glimpse at Cassie’s Story…

hr website pic 2I’ve been told before that I’m a tease. If so, I came to it later in life when it’s possibly a good thing. The Divine Tease will be bringing you periodic snippets, teases, blurbs and the occasional excerpt from my works in progress.

I typically take a little longer than average in writing a book and this way readers will have an idea of what I’m working on when I’m working, and occasionally when I’m not. 😉

Some of the blurbs will also show up on my Works in Progress page so always check there to find out what’s next in the series. This is just for fun.

Readers have asked what’s next and I’ve mentioned that Cassie’s story is currently being written. After celebrating the release of Lumberjack Weekend (Book 22) on Amazon yesterday, and Bunny and the Beast’s imminent release at Siren-BookStrand this Friday, it seemed like a fitting time to unveil a little of what’s going on with Divine’s favorite barista and baker.


Cassie, Samson, and Ivan made promises on the day they graduated from high school and then life took them in unexpected directions.

Raised in a traditional home, Cassie Villalobos was expected to work hard and obey her elders and because of her inner nature she complies, until life throws her so many curve balls she has no choice but to begin standing up for herself.

Aspiring to join the military, identical twins Samson and Ivan Cutter find themselves pulled in opposite directions on life paths that couldn’t be different, but through the years, they’ve unknowingly had one thing in common. Cassie Villalobos. Or more to the point—love for Cassie Villalobos.

Samson’s successful career in the military and then in law enforcement was interrupted when he was injured in the line of duty. With a well-earned reputation for level-headedness, Samson enjoys his job as an emergency dispatch supervisor but there’s always been something missing. Not even his private lifestyle as a Dominant at Hazelle House, and role as Joseph Hazelle’s right hand man, brings him much satisfaction these days.

Good-humored and affectionate, it’s probably a good thing Ivan didn’t make the cut in the military due to an injury because he’s found his passion and his purpose in his kitchen. An award-winning chef with a major following, he satisfies his sensual nature with culinary prowess while always feeling the inner emptiness that long hours at his Viking stove can’t fulfill.

Thirty years have passed since the night they made those broken promises to each other, and Cassie’s not the only one with some explaining to do.

©Heather Rainier


Next time I tease, I might reveal the name of this story. I have a working title that I’m using, because I have to call the story something, but I’m not 100% on it yet. I’m depending on Cassie, Samson, and Ivan to help me figure out what it’s supposed to be called.

Vector illustration of coffee with heart,logo like,brand

Readers who are familiar with the series know that Cassie is the proud owner of Divine Drip, a local coffee shop. Customers go there for the awesome coffee, but Cassie also sells pastries, kolaches, cupcakes, and in the morning she also does a hopping business selling homemade breakfast tacos.

Curious readers will meet Samson in Bunny and the Beast, since he plays a large role at Hazelle House, along with Joseph’s other close friend Randall. They’re his right-hand men, since Joseph can’t be there 24/7 and still have time for romancing his little firecracker. Ivan will make his first appearance in the course of his story…unless he hijacks the Divine Tease to share some culinary finesse. Man, now my mouth is watering. 😀

Speaking of mouth-watering, share with me in a comment: Are you a coffee-drinker or a tea-drinker? And if either of those appeal to you, tell me your idea or recipe for a perfect cup of coffee or tea. Do you drink it strictly in the morning or do you like a shot of java in the afternoon like I do…or better yet, coffee with dessert? Tell me how you like it. 😉

Seize the day, baby!


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

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