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!


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.

It Pays To Have a Sense of Humor

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604137_102082776625452_34904134_nConfidence may be the key to getting a lady’s attention, but if a woman likes a man’s sense of humor, he’s well on his way to winning her affection.

A big cowboy was at the Dancing Pony one evening. I mean BIG. So big that his friends nicknamed him Ox. In addition to being big, Ox is also funny. What the guy may lack in male-fitness-model good looks, he makes up for with self-confidence and a great sense of humor.

He was with his buddies that evening and they were having a fun and noisy time as usual when he set eyes on a very pretty, very curvy brunette named Liz who’d just come in with a group of friends to celebrate the end of the work week.

Ox observed the way Liz sang along with all the songs, and that she bobbed in place at the bar with her friends, as if she wanted to dance, but no one had asked her yet.

Never one to let an opportunity pass him by, Ox strolled up to Liz and said, “Sweet, voluptuous angel, would you care to dance with me?”

Now, being married to a sweet, voluptuous blonde angel, I readily noticed the flicker of defensiveness in her eyes as she blinked at him, as if wondering if he was making fun of her curviness.

She put a hand on her hip as she looked Ox up and down. “I think that beer belly would get in the way, don’t you?”

Without missing a beat, Ox patted his mid-section as if he was displaying washboard abs. “Sweet angel, don’t let appearances deceive you. This isn’t a beer belly, it’s a fuel tank for my sex machine, and right now it’s sittin’ on ‘full.’”

By the time everybody stopped laughing, we were pleasantly surprised to see Ox and Liz dancing together.

Looks are a great thing to have but they fade, where a heart of gold and a sense of humor last forever.

Cheers y’all!

Note from Heather: I hope y’all are enjoying the Slices of Life from the Dancing Pony. I have to say, I identified with Liz and this pickup line, only I wished that I’d encountered a man like Ox. We’ve all been there, I suppose, and not all men have as much “snap” as Ox did, in asking his curvy beauty to dance when she was trying to hide that she was afraid he was making fun of her. I know he was big, and funny, and self-confident, but at his core, I think his greatest asset was kindness.

You know I value a snappy pickup line if you’ve read the Divine Creek Ranch Collection, so tell me about the pickup lines you’ve heard. We’ve all heard the cringe-worthy ones but have you ever heard one that either struck you right in the funny bone, or one that strummed the chords of your heart? Tell me about it in a comment. 😀

Seize the day, baby!

All material copyright ©Heather Rainier 2015

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PS: Thanks to all the readers who have contacted me with compliments about Bunny and the Beast. Thanks to wonderful readers like y’all, Bunny and Joseph’s story has been very successful, and I hope continues to be when it reaches Amazon. Thanks also for telling your friends about the series.

Shy Girl Takes a Shot

Ethan Grant's Slices of Life Banner

This pickup line was actually delivered—or fumbled—by a shy young woman named Gina, who works as a secretary for a local law office, to a guy who is also a bit shy. I imagine if Gracie had been at the Dancing Pony on the night in question she’d have taken matters into hand and called it a service to young love…and the universe at large.

Alex works for the Texas Department of Transportation, also known as TxDOT, so you can imagine that he doesn’t get practice making small talk with pretty women on the job.

It started out simple enough. Gina and Alex kept making eye contact with each other from opposite ends of the bar. Alex would catch her watching him, and turn beet red from his forehead and his ears all the way down to his neck. Then she’d look up to find him watching her, and she’d get clumsy and knock her purse onto the floor or knock my stack of cocktail napkins into the bar sink. Neither one of them had the nerve to go over to the other and open a conversation. It was nearly painful to watch.

Granted, on most occasions a lady need only make eye contact and smile, but Alex needed a little stronger push.

Finally, Gina got up, grabbed her purse, and started to walk past Alex and by “accident” spilled her beer and drenched Alex’s shirtfront.

Gina gasped said, “Oh! I’m so sorry! That was really clumsy of me!” She grabbed half the fresh stack of my bar napkins and began blotting his shirt front, dropping most of them on the floor until they were standing there surrounded by a mound of cocktail napkins, and she was patting his chest with a handful of damp, shredded napkin and leaving bits and pieces of paper all over his shirtfront. Meanwhile he’s just standing there grinning like a tongue-tied fool because she’s actually touching him.

One of the other bar patrons nudged Alex and whispered something to him. He finally snapped out of it, and said, “You could’ve dumped a keg on me, pretty lady, and I wouldn’t have minded, as long as I get the next dance.”

604137_102082776625452_34904134_nGina looked so relieved, and she accidentally whacked that helpful bar patron in the head as she passed her purse to me to put behind the bar. She grabbed Alex’s hand, stumbling on her own two feet once as they headed for the dance floor.

One of the bartenders looked at me and said, “She shoots, she scores!”

The execution doesn’t have to be graceful or suave but it’s important to take a shot at what you want.

Looking forward to serving you another slice of life from the Dancing Pony soon!

Cheers, y’all!

Note from Heather: I hope you enjoyed the first in a series of pickup line stories as written by Ethan Grant. It started out as a brainstorming session with my street team one night. I was looking for the perfect pickup line to use in a scene set in the Dancing Pony in the book I was currently writing. I’d asked the Divine Divas to tell me about the worst and best pickup lines they’d ever heard or fallen victim to. Ethan Grant was still new to Facebook (no, it’s not me 😀 ) and he piped up with one of the gazillion pickup lines he’d heard while working at the Dancing Pony.

The Divine Divas, still a little twitter-pated that Ethan Grant was actually on Facebook and a member of their private FB group, were thoroughly entertained by his stories and over time, it grew into a weekly thing. Some of those pickup lines became the basis for scenes or actual books. That was back in 2013, and all those great pickup line stories just languished in the ever growing group feed.

Ethan and I talked about it and thought my readers might enjoy some of those stories here on the blog. So, with the help of my excellent personal assistant, Lily Castle, we found all of them and dusted them off for their own special editions of the Divine Tease. We collaborated–with Ethan revising and me editing–to bring them to you in a new and improved version.

These are different stories than the ones he currently shares from Ethan Grant on Facebook on Sunday nights, so if you enjoy this one you might look him up there and read the current stories, known as the Dancing Pony Pickup Lines.

All content is copyrighted ©Heather Rainier 2015

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Part Five: Absentminded Angel Out-takes (Finale)

Out-takes Part Five

Winter trees in mountains covered with fresh snow


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

“Excuse me? I—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

“Felicia, I don’t know what to say.”

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand


Part Four: Absentminded Angel Out-takes, Chapter Four


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

There it was again. That sound.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Kendry chuckled. “Maybe a little.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, ma’am.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, then I can wait?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a goddess. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What time is your appointment?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lot. A lot. A looooooot.

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

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

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

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

Oh. My. God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Do you trust me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I will.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Hey, Mrs. Doubtfire.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Everything else?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll talk to her.”

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


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

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand

Happy New Year!!!!!

Sparks Fly! 2

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

Out-takes Part ThreeWinter Landscape

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes she hated the person she’d been.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shoot. Me. Now.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Locked,” Kendry said.

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

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

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

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

“I-I had s-slippers on earlier.”

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

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

“I hate bothering him this l-late.”

“Okay, what about Leah?”

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

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

“I—uh—yeah, I guess s-so.”

Kendry dialed the number she gave him.

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you having labor contractions?”

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

“How many?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Poor baby, she must be chilled to the bone.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, but it’s just a short—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biting her lips, Presley Ann finally nodded.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kendry drew close. “Just what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You have got to be kidding me.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll be right there. Sit tight.”


Watch for the third installment soon. 🙂

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren BookStrand



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

Out-takes Part Two

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

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

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


Chapter Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kendry looked around and said, “Nice place.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kendry frowned. “What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lydia grinned and said, “Good luck!”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

“Come on, Uncle Marvin.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well that’s open-ended.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the peanut,

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

                                                                              -Love, Leah


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

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

A giggle sounded over the line. “Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Leah! That’s expensive.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course.”

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

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

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

“Actually, I think it’d be nice.”

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

“Any closer to deciding a name?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What else have you been up to?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

“Yeah. He just bounced on my bladder.”

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

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

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

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

“Uncle Marvin is a sweetheart.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Absentminded Angel Copyright©2014 All rights reserved, Heather Rainier

Buy Absentminded Angel at Siren-BookStrand

Trees covered with hoarfrost and snow in mountains.

Coming Soon: Out-Takes from Absentminded Angel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit my Author page at Siren-BookStrand

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

Visit my Author Central page at Amazon

My Author page at Barnes & Noble

NaNoWriMo: Now What?

A nanowrimo2012-tuawYou took that leap of faith. November 1st or thereabouts you set fingers to keys and unleashed the visions in your head on the page. You learned a few things along the way:

~It’s harder than you thought.

~You know less about good grammar, spelling, and punctuation than you imagined.

~You realized that plot and structure apply to you as well, even if you don’t want them to.

~Even if you want to break the rules you still have to understand the rules to break them properly.

~It’s necessary to show up every day and put fingers to keys in order to achieve your goals.

Those are all good starting points and NOT reasons to give up.

A novelists_0What do you do now? Save your magnum opus in a computer file and shake your head because who would want to read that? Put it away because you can’t look at it again after working on it for 30 days straight? Or open it to page one today and realize that what you have in your hands is a FIRST DRAFT. It’s not supposed to be perfect.

Oh wait. Did you think it was perfect? *gigglesnort* I refer you to Tymber Dalton’s advice: Go take your meds. Do yourself a favor and go read her own blog post “You Are Not A Special Snowflake”

You may be getting pressure from well meaning friends asking when they can read this creative work of genius they’ve seen you posting progress for on Facebook all month. You may be getting lots of advice about what to do with your masterpiece. All I can say about that is to check the quality of the fruit of the person giving you advice. If they are where you really want to be then by all means skip the rest of this post and do that.

If not, then let me bend your ear (or monopolize your eyes) for a few more moments…

“What do I do with this thing, Heather?”

Many of you are seriously considering self-publishing your NaNo novel. You want to make a successful career out of the writer gig. Awesome. But for the love of all that is inspiring, beautiful, and magical about storytelling…


You were not “finished” with your book at midnight on November 30th.

Yes, you typed those wonderful words—“The End”—but you were by no means done. This is where the real work begins.

It’s not time to start looking at graphic designers, stock photo sites, or cover artists. That’s one of the last things you need to do.

Revisions. Right now, it’s time to comb through that manuscript and find all those areas of inconsistency in your story. Weed out the content that doesn’t move your story forward. Fine tune your character development.

Are your characters relatable, likable? They don’t have to be perfect but they DO have to be characters your readers will want to root for. Can your readers suspend disbelief to enter your world? Is there a compelling story to keep them in that world?

Correct your typos, grammar, tenses, and punctuation. Yes, a copy editor will also perform this service but don’t think it’s not part of your job, too.

Your readers may be able to suspend disbelief for your world building but if their experience is repeatedly interrupted because you don’t know the difference between there, their, and they’re, or because you’re head-hopping faster than they can keep up, or your heroine’s eyes just changed from blue to green then all that awesome world building isn’t going to carry you.

  • If an editor asked you to tell them about your book in two sentences or less, could you do it?
  • Do you know the rules for the genre you wrote your story in? Do you even know what genre your story is? If it’s supposed to be an erotic romance but you spent more time on the comedy than the love scenes, you might want to dial back on the giggles so your readers can feel the heat.

Perhaps you’re from a creative background and you already have some skills, but if you’re a first timer maybe you’ve drawn another conclusion:


A ready-get-set-go-nanowrimo-L-ahAKHWDuring a lull in writing last summer, I read a number of self-published romances, both erotic and not-so-erotic. I’d been getting recommendations from Amazon based on other books I’d been reading, and I’d also had some reader recommendations. What the heck, right?

I learned quickly to always choose samples instead of investing the full price. The reason? While the $2.99 price tag may be tempting, MANY of those books were a waste, not only of my money, but of my time, because of issues that were fixable if they had just taken the time to either fix them or get the advice of a professional.

  • Typos, bad grammar, errors in tense and point of view, head-hopping, improper or missing punctuation. Poor sentence mechanics and structure. Lack of basic description or too much description. Narrative that goes on for pages and pages. Repetition. Choppy, chit-chatty, boring dialogue. All those are bad enough.
  • What’s worse? Unlikable characters. Storylines that were more contorted and convoluted than they needed to be. Inconsistencies within the stories. Lack of showing versus telling. Missed opportunities. Poor timing, especially in love scenes.

1653491_915838241768500_3212485775564198219_nI’ve painted a pretty dismal picture, I know, but that was my experience as a reader. I don’t want to start any wars here but I’ll happily pay ten dollars for a well-written, well-edited story that will satisfy me, whether it was published in New York, or by an indie publisher, or self-published.

So, as the proud owner of a newly completed manuscript, what do you take home from my experience?

  • You need a professional editor for both content (storyline and character development) and copy editing. Hire a professional who edits in the genre you’ve written in and pay them. (If you ask them and they have no clue what to charge you, they are not a professional.) And don’t expect them to do the work for you. You’re the writer. They’re your edits to work through. The benefit is that way you will learn, by doing, what not to do.
  • You need a professionally done cover. You’ve been on Amazon. You know what I’m talking about and I don’t need to say anything else, because…damn.
  • Don’t set a release date and then kill yourself reaching it, only to discover that you have major screw-ups in a manuscript that is now accessible to millions. Your name is your brand and the last thing you want is for readers to feel cheated.
  • Take your time and put only the best into your readers’ hands every time. No, that is not an unreasonable goal. I’m not talking about perfection. I’m talking about being a professional.

“Heather, I can’t afford to pay an editor, or have that kind of time! I have a day job and bills.”

That’s okay. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The more you write the more you hone your skills, provided you’re educating yourself in the process.

A Chris Pine writingKeep writing. You could be another blockbuster author who writes for the sheer love of it and winds up with a big Rubbermaid tub of manuscripts or a cloud drive full of completed stories. If your goal is to become an awesome writer, one day your opportunity will present itself and you could wind up a millionaire with readers worldwide who adore you. It could happen. It has happened.

Keep honing your craft. Read everything you can on the craft of writing. Subscribe to writer’s and editor’s blogs. Most of what I’ve learned about craft I learned online by asking questions and doing Google searches. The answers are out there. Read bestselling books in the genre you want to write. Dissect them, outline them, (just don’t plagiarize them!) and discover what works about them…and what doesn’t..facebook_1410934681774

Befriend authors online. Observe what works and what makes you come back to them. And learn what the turn-offs are and promise yourself to never air your dirty laundry, political or religious views, or rants over reviews online. Never. Just don’t.

Don’t go for promo gimmicks. Building a following that lasts is a time-consuming process. If you’re doing this to get rich quick, it’s highly likely you will be disappointed in the long-term results. And value the people in your life who will tell you what you need to hear, even if you have to pay them to do it.

The other benefit of taking your time is that it allows you to develop subsequent stories that can dovetail into previous ones. The fact that I’m able to do that in my series is borne completely from the fact that releasing a submitted book takes two months and in that time, story elements from future books can be woven in to previous ones (with care).

I apologize for popping your bubble if you wanted to get rich quick with your NaNo novel. The writing is the fun part. December 1st, the work will have only just begun.

  • Make the investment in professional editing, formatting, and cover design.
  • Do the work.
  • Have it edited again.

.facebook_1414207362932Then worry about unleashing that masterpiece on the millions who will love it. That way, when your work stands out, it won’t be because it’s a train wreck, it’ll be because you are the cream rising to the surface in an industry that is increasingly difficult to be seen in.

This post was primarily geared toward those NaNoWriMo survivors who are considering self-publishing. It’s important that you get references for all professionals that you hire. And if someone approaches you wanting to publish your book “for you” if you’ll just pay them a fee, don’t walk, run the other way. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. Yes, if you want to self-publish you’ll have to pay your team of professionals for services at the time they’re rendered, but in publishing, the royalties should flow to the author not away from them, assuming you want to make money. 🙂

10297569_1551280418346272_5825404518159253846_nNote before anyone throws a fireball at my head: My thoughts about self-published books are based on my experience as a paying reader. And yes, there have been a few that have been worth the money I paid. My intent is not to denigrate self-published works, but merely to emphasize that self-published authors have to serve as their own gatekeepers.

My professional experience is as an author writing for an independent publisher. I don’t have to worry about paying an editor, a formatter, a cover artist, or a printer for paperbacks, and I don’t have to deal with distributors. They handle all that for me. That means I can do what I’m best at.

Rather than ask for comments about self-published train wrecks you may have read and regretted, or self-pubbed works that you thought were more than up to snuff, I want to open comments up to NaNoWriMo pre-published authors, and those who would encourage them.

Tell us in fifty words or less about your book.

Hook us. Make us salivate for your story. What were some of the challenges you experienced along the way? You’re welcome to comment whether you met the 50,000 word count goal or not. It’s about the journey.

Comments are moderated for first time commenters and posts shaming any author by name will be deleted.