Greetings loyal readers and friends. This afternoon, I am highlighting my three short romances from MuseItUp Publishing.
First is Love Delivery. I chose the excerpt for this contemporary romance because I feel it shows you, the readers, something about my main characters Ann and Tom, as well as introducing some of the conflict which hinders their budding romance.
Next is Lady In Waiting. The excerpt I chose for this historical romance gives a glimpse into my main character Mabriona and introduces the first of the major obstacles in her romantic life, Prince Blayne. This excerpt also gives the reader an idea of the complex relationship between Mabriona and her cousin, Princess Alana.
Finally, I offer the excerpt for Mirror, Mirror, a time travel romance. In this excerpt, you will meet my main character, Lindsay, as she awakes to find herself in the fifteenth century…a far cry from the 21st century in which she lives. Lindsay is suddenly aware of how different life here actually is from the Renaissance Faires she loves so much.
I hope you enjoy these brief glimpses into my stories and will follow the links provided to MuseItUp Publishing’s book store. Thank you all for visiting today.
EXCERPT, LOVE DELIVERY
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“Here it is,” he said, steering her to a quiet corner. Candles lit the table. A bottle of red wine stood open. Tom held the chair for her and then sat close so their knees touched. “Would you like a glass of wine?” he asked, reaching for the bottle.
“No thanks,” Ann said. “I don’t drink.”
Tom poured a glass for himself. “Here’s the menu.” He handed it to her.
“I know what I want.”
“Fettuccini Alfredo.” Ann shook out her napkin and placed it on her lap.
“This chicken dish is good,” Tom said, pointing to an item on the menu.
Ann grimaced. Is he a control freak? I already told him what I want. “I don’t eat meat.” Her voice sounded harsh in her own ears.
“Ah, well, okay, then. Fettuccini Alfredo it is.” Tom called the waiter and ordered the Alfredo for Ann and a spicy chicken dish for himself.
I guess we don’t agree on everything after all. He drinks and eats meat, too. I hope he doesn’t drink a lot. Maybe we weren’t made for each other. Not knowing what else to do, Ann took a sip of water and smiled.
Tom smiled back. “You’ll have to come meet my cats one of these days. Tyra, a gorgeous, long-haired black female, is my bathroom kitty. Whenever I’m sitting in there, she has to be in my lap. There’ve been times when my pants have been around my feet, and she’s curled up in my underwear.
“Then there’s BeeBee. She’s a Siamese. When I first got her, I thought she liked to cuddle, but it turned out she was just scared. It took me a long time, with lots of persuasion, to get her to come close to me. Finally, I was able to pick her up. I had her in my arms, and I put my face down to smell her fur. Suddenly, she turned and bit me on the nose.
“I think my favorite, though, is Loki. He’s the smallest of the bunch. He has allergies, and if I don’t get him to the vet for a shot in time, he loses his fur on his rear quarters, right by his tail. He loves to ride on my shoulders. Looks just like I’m wearing a fur collar.
“Then there’s the two new ones, they’re the kittens. They haven’t developed personalities yet. You should always get two kittens instead of one,” Tom said when the food arrived.
“Why?” Ann asked. Her face hurt from laughing at Tom’s cat stories. Mittens never did any of the things Tom’s cats did.
While she ate, Tom continued to share funny stories about the cats and kittens. “Kittens play with each other so you don’t need to play with them. You can just sit back and watch them. When I have kittens in the house, I don’t even turn on my T.V. set.” Tom twirled pasta on his fork. He lifted the fork halfway to his mouth and stopped. “Looks like we have company,” he groaned.
Ann turned. Maria and a curly-haired blond child entered. Ann watched Maria’s smile turn to a frown. Maria pulled the child toward their table. Ann gulped. Now what? Can’t she leave us alone? How can Tom and I ever get to know each other if she’s always showing up? She pasted a false smile on her face and clutched her napkin tightly.
“So you decided not to listen to me,” Maria spat at Ann.
“Daddy!” the little girl cried, holding up her arms.
“Hi, Kitten,” Tom said, scooping the child into his arms. He gave her a bear hug, and she giggled. “I want you to meet my friend, Ann. Ann, this is Kitten.”
“Hi, Ann. Daddy calls me Kitten, but you can call me Catherine.” The child put her arms around Tom’s neck and hugged him.
“Hello, Catherine,” Ann said, finding her voice.
“At least you could have gone somewhere else, Tom. We always ate here,” Maria accused and pushed Tom’s shoulder.
Tom moved Catherine to his other knee and glared at Maria. “Do we have to fight in front of Kitten?”
“Hey, Mr. Nice Guy, you’re the one who left us, remember?”
Removing Catherine from his lap, Tom stood up and faced Maria. “You’re creating a scene. Why don’t you leave before things get ugly?”
“Maybe you should have thought about that a long time ago.” Maria poked Tom’s chest with her finger.
Ann watched in fear. Only moments ago, she and Tom were enjoying dinner. Maria’s face now looked hard and dark. She swore at Tom and poked him again. Then she shoved him on the shoulder.
Tom grabbed her hand. Maria spat at him and reached up, clawing his face with her other hand.
“I hate you,” she screamed, grabbed her child, and ran out crying.
Tom turned to Ann. There were bloody scratches on his face. Ann dipped her napkin in her water glass and dabbed his cheek. “I’m sorry, Ann, I guess this spoiled dinner.”
This is never going to work for us, not as long as Maria is in the picture. Ann nodded her head. “Sure did. I’m not very hungry now. I think I’d better just go home.”
EXCERPT, LADY IN WAITING
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Mabriona assisted Alana down to the common dining hall as was her duty. The big room was warmed at both ends by huge hearths. In honor of Prince Blayne’s arrival, the boards had been scrubbed until they gleamed. Warm, fresh-baked loaves of bread graced each table, and the delicious aroma made Mabriona’s mouth water as they entered the room. Jars of honey mead sat within easy reach of all. Pewter bowls piled high with fresh picked apples and pears were artfully placed. Serving wenches waited, poised, with huge pots of steaming porridge.
King Cedric already sat at the upper table with Prince Blayne at his right hand. His face lit up with a smile when Alana and Mabriona approached. His voice boomed as he greeted his daughter, “Here she is, the flower of my life.”
Mabriona’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes met Blayne’s. As Alana had feared, the young prince was dark-haired with eyes the color of jet, his stature kingly. Broad shoulders and well-muscled arms nicely filled out his deep purple brocaded doublet. A full beard of coarse black hair covered his cheeks and chin, but what stopped Mabriona was his smile. Never before had she seen someone’s face light up like the sun rising on a summer’s morn. Yet, this was what came to her mind. Clearly, Blayne’s smile was meant for her, but why?
He stood and walked toward the women. “Princess Alana,” he said, bowing before Mabriona, his glance speaking words of heat and passion.
“Oh no, Your Highness,” Mabriona said, blushing. “I am Princess Alana’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Mabriona.” She felt Alana glaring daggers at her and quickly curtseyed to hide her embarrassment. Alana made it clear earlier she wasn’t attracted to dark-haired men, why is she so angry? It isn’t my fault the prince was confused. Alana looked down at the floor before glancing up at the handsome prince.
“Forgive me, Lady Mabriona. I’ve made an unthinkable error.” Prince Blayne bowed again and then turned to Alana. “Your Highness, your beauty should have made it clear to me you are my intended.”
Mabriona’s heart sunk. She saw Alana’s cold look as Blayne bowed and took her hand to kiss. She knew then that Alana hated him, yet Alana would marry him as her father decreed. It was unfair, but Mabriona was already wise enough to know she couldn’t change her lot in life. Alana would marry the handsome prince and live happily ever after, and she would remain the ever-faithful servant catering to Princess Alana’s every wish.
Blayne grasped Alana’s elbow and led her to the table to sit beside him. Yet as Mabriona watched them, Blayne’s gaze slid back to her, lingering as if he could imprint her image upon his soul. Her knees felt weak, and Mabriona quickly took a seat at the far end of the board. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest. What was happening to her? Prince Blayne was not the first man to have caught her eye, yet he was certainly the first to have affected her so she could barely breathe. Unobserved and temporarily forgotten, she watched the couple. Just as she suspected, Alana kept her nose in the air and cringed each time Blayne looked at or touched her. King Cedric would get an earful as soon as Alana got him alone, of that Mabriona was certain. Her heart bled for the handsome prince.
She looked up to see Alana motioning furiously at her. She went to the princess and bent near her. “Yes, Princess?”
“Get me out of here, now,” Alana whispered harshly.
Mabriona offered her hand, and Alana rose from her place. Blayne looked up, catching Mabriona’s gaze. His eyes sparkled, and a smile spread across his face. He bowed his head slightly. He openly flirted with her. This could not be happening. If King Cedric saw the interplay, what would he think? Blayne was the intended of Alana. Things could not get any worse. Her thoughts tumbled like the bones the guards threw when they played at betting games.
EXCERPT, MIRROR, MIRROR
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“Fool-born child! Watch where you are walking. The master will have your hide for getting mud all over his clean shirts.”
Someone pulled her ear—hard—and Lindsey yelped with pain. She was tugged up into a kneeling, then standing position, before she opened her eyes. She realized in the first moment she was no longer in Oregon.
“Where is your cap? If the master sees you with your hair hanging down all over your face, he will switch us both.”
She stared wide-eyed as a large, buxom woman bent down, picked up dirty white shirts from the ground, and thrust them into Lindsey’s arms.
“‘Tis not here. Take my extra one.” The woman grabbed Lindsey’s hair, balled it, and shoved it into a long, sleeve-like cap, which came to Lindsey’s forehead and fell down around her shoulders. Balancing the load of shirts with one hand, she felt the cap. Not a shred of her hair was showing.
“Um, thanks,” she said.
“Well, donna be thanking me now. You just watch what you be doing next time, clumsy girl. Now march back into the washhouse and get the mud off those shirts. When you have finished, hang them out to dry. Then get you into the kitchen and help cook with dinner.” The woman brushed her hands off; then she smoothed her apron and marched through a courtyard toward a large stone house.
Dumbfounded, Lindsey stood where the woman left her. She looked down at herself and saw she still wore her second-hand clothes from St. Vincent de Paul’s. Her feet were bare. Then she noticed the woman walking away from her was also barefooted. Despite the muddy courtyard, the air was warm and so was the soil. But where am I? As she looked around, the structure of the buildings reminded her of pictures from her British History course in college.
In the opposite direction from which the woman took, Lindsey noticed a path leading to a small outbuilding. Smoke rose from a chimney. She trudged back to the washhouse, opened the door but stepped back outside when her eyes began to tear, and the heat blasted her face. Do people actually work under these conditions? With the door opened, some of the smoke and steam cleared, and she was able to see a large wooden tub sitting on metal legs straddling hot coals. Lindsey dumped the load of shirts into the tub, picked up a stick and stirred the load in the water. Before long, her muscles ached, and she had blisters on her hands. Once the tears began, there was no stopping them. Until this point, she hadn’t thought much beyond putting one foot in front of the other. She collapsed on a small overturned crate and with head in hands, had a good cry.
With red, puffy eyes, and stuffed nose, Lindsey looked up when the door opened. A wizened old woman leaning on a cane shuffled in. She looked at Lindsey with questioning eyes. “Is it really you, Mistress?” she asked.
“What do you mean? Who am I supposed to be?” Lindsey responded between sobs.
The old woman began to dance. “It worked! It worked!”
Lindsey wiped the tears from her eyes with the bottom of her skirt. “What worked?” she asked, realizing this woman might know what happened.
“Why the summoning I did for Mistress Prudence. So you’re the one, eh?” The old woman pinched Lindsey’s cheek and turned Lindsey’s face from side to side to get a good look. “Well you do look like the young Mistress.
When are you from, then?”
“You did say when, not where?”
“Of course. I know you’re not from now, foolish simpkin. I brung you here.”
“This morning it was 2011. I’m not sure what year it is now.”
“‘Tis the year 1421, and you need to get busy, little missy. You need to get the Master to accept Prudence as his bride. Soon as you do, we can send you back from whence you came.”
Lindsey stood and looked down at the little woman. “Just how do you propose I do that? Who is this master, anyway?”
“Why, he be the master of the house. He loves our Prudence, he does, but his father wants him to marry for money. He’s just distraught our Master is. I wager you be a smart woman. You can get our Master to marry you. I canna help you anymore, but I’ll be watching you.” The crone turned and shuffled toward the door.