Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Trapped in Time II Chapter Six

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! Just one more day until Thanksgiving, for those in the US! And for everyone, we present to you our weekly serving of flash fiction by the members of the Wednesday Briefs! Stories for your pleasure! An assortment of goodies calculated to tempt your discerning literary palate!

Trapped in Time II continues, as Myron attempts to use magic to locate the missing Vittorio. Will he be successful? Stay tuned and find out! Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to! Their links follow my tale! And this week we have another FLASH VIRGIN!

Trapped in Time II: Chapter Six

We wait to reconvene until after the rest of the camp is settled for the night, and after I have shaken off my persistent suitor—how can I not regard him as such when he makes his interest in me obvious to one and all? Even Charlie has noticed, as evidenced by his first comment once we are together once more.

“Flynn like Doll?” A slight frown creases his brow, and for that I cannot blame him, as I heartily concur—the idea is most distasteful, and insulting to my Vittorio.

“Too much.” I grimace my agreement.

We turn our attention to the matter at hand. I know that Vati and Myron have spent time together since I first brought up the question of performing some sort of spell to locate my Vittorio. I can only pray they have the situation well in hand. I look between the two of them, anxiously, trying to assess their mood, perhaps gain a clue as to the measure of their success.

They do not look unhappy, so I am heartened.

Vati defers to Myron, who clears his throat. Charlie takes his hand and squeezes it, and I think it gives him the confidence to speak.

“I think,” he begins, “that I can do this. I mean, we can do this. Together.”

All of us? How?

“By which I mean,” he continues, “that we are stronger together than alone. He darts a quick glance toward me, as if to give me the opportunity to speak, perhaps to object. I nod for him to go on. I am listening to him closely and am anxious to hear his idea.

“Rolf and I have been talking about this. He says that science and magic are very close together. Like all of us.” I watch as his eyes grow wide, and I understand his fears, for he has never really belonged anywhere before we became a group. I realize anew how fortunate I have been to have the best parents in the world, as well as the most wonderful friend and lover I could ever ask for. Not everyone is so lucky.

Myron clears his throat. “So what we need to do is for everyone to focus on Vittorio. And Doll,” he hastily adds, “as you are closest to him, in your heart, your input will be needed most of all.”

I am touched at his consideration. “I will do everything I can to bring Vittorio back to us,” I solemnly proclaim. I know, deep in my heart, that failure is not an option and never will be.

Instinctively, without being told, we reach for one another and join hands, forming a human chain. It reminds me of spirit circles that I have read of, whose purpose was to contact the dearly departed. In this case, of course, we are seeking the living, but perhaps they operate on the same principle.

Myron begins to mutter his incantation, words I cannot understand, and I cannot guess in what tongue he speaks. I focus my entire being on Vittorio, on my love and devotion to him, on the years which we have shared together, and the years which are yet to come. Of that I have no doubt. I shut my eyes tightly, the better to see him within my mind, and there he is. My beauty. My love. My Vittorio.

My breath catches at the sight of him, although I know he is not actually there. Where are you, my love? Tell us... tell us...

I hear a soft sound, very faint at first, but it begins to rise in volume, an eerie almost ghostly tone that sends a shiver through my body. My eyes snap open and I half expect to see Vittorio’s image emblazoned upon the heavens. I am not the only one, apparently, for everyone seems to be listening to this almost unearthly music. Even Mary has ceased her chittering, her head cocked, listening.

My chest aches with a combination of sorrow and hope. But what does this mean? I do not understand.
Suddenly, within the tight circle which we’ve formed, a mist begins to form, rising from the ground, ethereal and other worldly. We’re all staring now as it circles and whirls, spiraling upward as it begins to change color, from peach to apricot to bright scarlet and tangerine, sparks seeming to shoot from its midst which fall harmlessly to the ground around us, illuminating our awed faces. Just before the phantom dissipates, it utters but one word.


And suddenly I know, and my heart leaps, ready to explode with happiness. Except that I am still not sure of where he is. Was there a message there, one I do not understand?

A hushed silence descends upon us, then we regard one another with unabashed awe.

“What does it mean?” I ask. “Does anyone know?” I look hopefully into their faces, but they seem as perplexed as I am.

Then suddenly Charlie’s face brightens, and he begins to vigorously nod.  “Yes, yes, I know, I know!”

“Know what?” Myron asks. Everyone turns toward Charlie. I hardly dare to hope.

“The wind,” he announces with a knowing grin.

“The wind?” I echo, still confused. What about the wind?

“That was the sound of the wind whistling through the trees.”

But that doesn’t make... and then suddenly I understand too. “Whistling Wind,” I repeat, feeling both humble and grateful at the same time, a feeling that overwhelms me, and brings tears to my eyes. Tears of happiness and joy.

“Whistling Wind,” Vati repeats. “Ja, ja.”

The very town toward which we travel. See? I was right to believe he was here. And we will be there tomorrow, according to Shaughnessey. And then... and then I shall find my Vittorio and all will be right with the world once more.

And then we can figure out how we are to go home. Home to Mutti.

 to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers have been up to! Enjoy!

Grace Duncan   ***FLASH VIRGIN!!!!******

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Super Book Blast: Vault of Secrets

Please welcome author Hawk McKinney who's come to talk about his newest release, Vault of Secrets. Hawk will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more often you comment, the greater your chances of winning. To find out where the other stops on the tour are, go here.

Hawk McKinney

Vault of Secrets is a compelling tale of intrigue, murder, deception and redemption that leads retired Navy SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram in search of the connection between seemingly random murders and a banking conspiracy.  Working with the local homicide investigator, who just happens to be a former Navy buddy, Craige Ingram's attempts to protect a lonely widow and solve the case before another person dies are only thwarted by a psychotic killer whose motivation is based on pure pleasure.  The instincts and skills Ingram and his buddy acquired as Navy SEALS are tested to their limits.


Before the forensic team videoed the kill zone, they took painstaking wide-angle photos and close-ups, made a detailed sweep of the area, packaged possible physical evidence and tagged the zip-locks.  The heavy, thick plastic body bag was zipped shut.  The woman’s remains were then hoisted into the van with County Morgue stenciled on the side—slaughtered meat on a gurney.  It was ready for storage and probably a pauper’s grave.

In one desolate corner of the garage, beyond the yellow marked area and oil splotched parking slots, the two bag ladies tried to be inconspicuous, waiting where they’d been told to stay.  Her drab gray-blond hair twisted into a bun, Sallie Mae Drutherferde darted distrustful glances at the clusters of police.  She squinted a sky blue eye, didn’t like cops one iota, and gave a dubious, all-knowing look at Agatha Ruth.  Together, the two were often pushing their rickety grocery cart with its one lopsided wheel.

Sallie Mae asked, “A’gatha, you not gonna tell ‘em anything?” Her eyes were cocked big and round.  Sallie Mae always called her A’gatha ‘cause that’s the way Agatha Ruth Hutchers said it.  Didn’t matter what others said.  A’gatha nervously adjusted her dumpster-discard, hairbare, blond wig twisted askance, which made her look like she was staring sidewise.

A’gatha shook her head, “Ain’t sayin’ nuthin’ ‘bout nuthin’—‘bout no big, show-off, black see-dan automobile that pulled in here last night.  Right off the bat, they’d be askin’ why we was where we didn’t supposed to be.  We end up havin’ to find us another place to skitter in out of the weather.  No sirree.  Ain’t sayin’ nuthin’.”

“Gonna have to find us another place anyhow,” Sallie Mae muttered as she crooked one finger to scratch her curls.  “‘Sides, I didn’t hear no scuffle.”

“Whole lot of ‘em drunk as hoot owls,” A’gatha said.  “Was all set to have a wing-ding party long ‘fore they showed up here.  Poor thing yonder in that amb’lance wadn’t no innocent church mouse.  She was more’n willin’.” She then added with a snap of her head, “Lordy mercy.  Tsk-tsk.  More’n willin’ and a cagey type, too.  The type who makes sure to be paid ‘fore puttin’ a foot in anyone’s big, long car.  Scandalous tight dress showin’ off her wares, and a skimpy blouse didn’t hide nothin’—poochin’ out her chest for any fancy man long as they brung money.  Even if she was a harlot, ain’t no bizness a ours.” Her face softened.  “Ain’t tellin’ nobody nuthin’.  You know how cops be.”

“The likes a her endin’ up dead in some alley ain’t no surprise t’me one bit,” Sallie Mae said.
“Sallie Mae!” A’gatha eyed her.  “You hush up ‘bout us seein’ them in that alley.  Bankers that works in this building won’t bat nary an eyelash payin’ some low life to dump us off the Fifth Street pier.  We end up gator bait stuffed amongst swamp sycamore tree roots.” Truth glimmered from her eyes like a cornered rabbit.  “Them kind got money to buy their scutwork done.”

The police finally got around to them.  “What were you two doing in here that hour of the night?” the beat cop asked.

“Passin’ through,” Sallie Mae said, her head up proud.

“Passing through …” the cop snorted.  “Up here on the upper deck?”

A’gatha scowled, “We got lost.” Her lips were tight as she glowered, “We ain’t done nuthin’ wrong.”

“This is private property,” he said.  “Nobody’s supposed to be in here unless you got business with the bank, and nobody’s supposed to be in here at night.”

“We didn’t bother nuthin’, didn’t see nothin’.”  Sallie Mae wasn’t about to let no cop push A’gatha around.

He knew he was getting nowhere.  He turned to the lieutenant, “We’ve dealt with these two before.  The only arrests they have is when some owner found them sleeping in his garage or in the back of an unlocked delivery van.”  He knew they were tough, weren’t about to crack, but finding them here meant an extra patrol for him and his partner.  There was no point in pushing further, so he closed his notepad and shoved it in his pocket.  “You two can’t loiter here,” he said.  “The bank don’t like it.”

A’gatha bristled, “Ain’t loiterin’.”  She wasn’t going to put up with being called a bum neither.

“Don’t let me catch you two in here again,” he said and walked away.

“Let’s git.”  They scurried away.  A’gatha knew they didn’t amount to anything to any of these cops.  They were nothing more than dust in a world that passed them without ever seeing them.  “Might be a good time to take us a Florida vacation,” A’gatha said.  “Ain’t never comin’ back near this here place.” She could feel the spirits hovering about.  “Not ever.”

“Cops don’t scare me none,” Sallie Mae said.

“Tain’t the cops,” Agatha said, eyeballin’ the shady darkness ‘round abouts them.  “They be a evil smell to this place.  A hoary breath of death abouts.  I can tetch it.  You best listen t’me.  Be like about that other time when I said things wadn’t safe,” she said, directing a sidewise glance at Sallie Mae and sensing the murky gloom behind the midday brightness.  “I’m rollin’ the bones this night.  Death be here.” Her eyes were big with fear.  “Ain’t stayin’ where demons walk the night mist.”


With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

"Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy--these are the things that take Hawk's main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation's capital and across Europe and the Middle East."

Barbara Casey, President
Barbara Casey Literary Agency

Monday, November 25, 2013

Virtual Book Tour: Forward to Camelot

Please welcome authors Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn, who have come to tell us about Forward to Camelot. Susan and Kevin will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To see the other stops on the tour, go here.

The Questions

1)      You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?
The one person I am marooned with is 80‘s pop diva Debbie Gibson, and our one item is a tape deck with microphone.  When  we are not cavorting in the sand, she can sing to me, or I can record new ways to cavort in the sand with her.  Or play back the previous moments of cavorting in the sand with her. Imagine being on a secluded island with MaryAnne from Gilligan’s Island...except MaryAnne is blonde.  

   2)     Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you? 
West Side Story.  I’m a native New Yorker, grew up in a tough time with racial divide even though I was
too young and too ignorant to know what that really meant.  While I would want to be Tony, starry eyed and believing everyone could always get along if we really tried, I would be most likely be Riff.  I’m the loyal friend, grounded in reality as you reach for the stars, taking a bullet (or a knife) for you, all in the name of friendship.  And Riff could dance, like I’ve always wanted to.  Plus Russ Tamblyn, who played Riff, has an amazingly beautiful and talented daughter. I’ve got one of those, too.

3)      Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scenario using them:  insurance, owed, talk
I shot the insurance agent who could only talk about raising my deductible.  This was something I owed the world. One cop differed. 

4)      What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other? 
This varies greatly.  I love to hold hands in a movie, or rub her back surreptitiously if we’re simply out having a drink with friends.  Constant contact and tenderness is very important  I love to cuddle and kiss or hug on the couch while listening to bad 70’s pop music.  Romantic dinners, quiet moments on the beach at midnight, catching her eye while I’m ‘working’ the crowd at a film festival and she watches me do it, a hotel room on the cold beachfront in the dead of winter.  High rolling at a Vegas casino, making naughty bets while our rival football teams play each other...a writer’s imagination truly transcends real life.

5)      When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot? 
Most times, it begins with a character.  What if a guy/girl who had to ....  and I go from there.  I find characters in the people I meet every day in life, so it is very common to take on an individual’s story and broaden it into a filmic storyline. Every tale I write has to to do with real characters, so if I’m not true with a character there is no chance of being true to a plot.

With Forward To Camelot, we actually began with both.  What if a young woman from the year 2000, on the hunt for a rare artifact...John F. Kennedy’s personal, one of a kind Bible, used to swear in Lyndon Johnson aboard Air Force One just hours after Kennedy’s assassination...  The story is a product of both character and plot, intertwined from the outset.  It promises the reader something different, a unique twist to both character and story.  

6)      If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?
Willem Dafoe or Denis Leary.  They’re not the best looking guys in film, matter of fact, each has a great face for radio.  As do I.  Yet they are both attractive in a way, personable through their wit and charm more so than their looks. Far removed from the classic leading man stereotype, yet passionate and charming, well versed and articulate.  I’d be honored to have men of that caliber live out my life story on screen.

   7)      Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?
Jack Torrance, Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’.  I’m not a King fan for many reasons but  the idea of a
writer losing his mind while trapped in a remote location with only his family and his characters.  Murder is the least he could do. Brilliant wordplay, Mr. King.

8)      Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it? 
If you consider Bettie Page historical, there it is.  A daring, sensual woman who was ahead of her time, feminine, intelligent and erotic all at once.  A close second is Queen Margaret of Spain, a headstrong woman who still succumbed to the charms of Don Juan de le Marena. Both women looked great in corsets. 
9)      Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?

I’d love to tell an intelligent, erotic thriller grounded in the real desires and passions of every day men and women.  Where ’50 Shades...’ falls short, I would pick up.  There is no greater erotic weapon than the human imagination, and I’d love to explore every sensual nuance, every perverse nuance or fetish that common people insist on keeping hidden despite their yearning to break out and let free. 

Forward to Camelot
by Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn




On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003 with a new Afterword from the authors.

On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price.

In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald.

Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both.

History CAN be altered …



The man in the doorway was yawning, and his bright chestnut hair, flecked with threads of gray, was tousled. He wore half glasses down on his nose and held a thick typewritten report in one hand. His navy silk tie was pulled down, his white shirt was rumpled. His eyes, though bloodshot, focused on us politely.
I was face to face with President John F. Kennedy.
He looked at us, puzzled, and glanced around the empty hallway.
I knew if I didn’t speak that I’d never have another chance, but I couldn’t think of a thing to say. The President looked at us, raised an eyebrow.
Quick, Cady, say something. “Mr. President, my name is Cady Cuyler.” Beside me, I felt Lee start at the words. “I’ve come a long way to speak to you. Please, it’s very urgent.”
He was still puzzled. “Where’s my Secret Service detail?”
I took a deep breath. In for a penny, in for a pound. “They’re out drinking at a nightclub called The Cellar, here in Fort Worth. They left some Fort Worth firemen to guard you. They’ll be pretty hung over in the morning.”
Kennedy looked down at me. His eyes were a bit brighter, though it was now close to 2:00 a.m.  He looked over at Lee, who gave him a tense smile, and stood almost at military attention. He looked back at me and asked quietly, “And how do you know this?”
It was time. His hand was on the doorknob. Almost imperceptibly, he was inching it shut.
I took a deep breath. “I’ll tell you, but you’re not going to believe me.” I waited; he waited too. But he was listening; I still had a chance.
“I’m from the future. I don’t live in Dallas in 1963. I live in New York in the year 2000. I’m here to warn you, sir, and save you if I can. If you don’t listen to me now… you’re going to die in less than 12 hours.”

Oswald had turned to me in alarm. Kennedy’s gray eyes never left my face while I spoke. When I stopped, hoping, praying I had reached him, he glanced down for a moment, then down the hall. All was quiet, the annoying yellow lights still burning overhead. Like casinos in Vegas, it was impossible to know from the artificial light in the hotel whether it was noon or midnight.
“You’re right,” the President said in that distinctive accent. “I don’t believe you.” He started to close the door in my face.
Before he could, I was talking again, as quickly and persuasively as I could. “Why would I make up a story like that? It makes no sense. Unless it was true!”
His gaze was even and noncommittal, but at least he’d stopped closing the door. “Can you prove it?”



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 previous books, including the recent bestseller Stealing Fire and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in three literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production.

Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.

After beginning his career as a television news and sports writer-producer, KEVIN FINN moved
on to screenwriting and has authored more than a dozen screenplays. He is a freelance script analyst and has worked for the prestigious American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program. He now produces promotional trailers, independent film projects including the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and local content for Princeton Community Television.

His next novel, Banners Over Brooklyn, will be released in 2014.

For updates and more information about Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition, please visit

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Guest Blogger Bru Baker

Please welcome fellow Dreamspinner author Bru Baker, who has bravely answered my infamous Rick Reed
questions and is going to tell us about her newest release, Island House! Make yourself at home, Bru, I'll get the brew!  lol

The Questions

1)      You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?
My first instinct is to answer a boat and someone who knows how to pilot it! I think I'd go insane on a remote island. I don't do well with boredom and I'm always busy with something, so my idea of a nightmare is being stuck somewhere like that. Now, if we suspend disbelief and say that the small, deserted island has electricity and wifi, I might be able to deal. In that case, sign me up with Ryan Gosling and my laptop.

2)      Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you?
Not many people know this, but I actually hate musicals. I have no patience for them, though I have a friend who routinely kidnaps me and forces me to watch them as some sort of immersion therapy. The only one I've seen that I didn't hate was Avenue Q, but how can anyone with a soul hate muppets? Maybe I'd be Trekkie Monster. He sings that lovely soliloquy about the internet being for porn, and who can argue with that?

3)      Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scenario using them: cockroach, lighter, pill
Hmm. A character drops a pill and it rolls into a dark corner, so he uses a lighter to find it, illuminating a cockroach and leading to burnt fingers, terrified shrieking, and an abandoned pill. This has absolutely, definitely never happened to me in a beach house in Hilton Head where the cockroaches are so big they can be listed as dependents on your income tax.

4)      You’ve just been let loose in the world of fiction, with permission to do anyone you want. Who do you fuck first and why?
My first literary crush was on Laurie from Little Women, so I think I'd probably start with him. He just seemed impossibly debonair and sophisticated when I was a kid.

  5)    What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?
I know this is horrible for a romance writer to admit, but my husband and I never do anything romantic. We've never been the sort of couple who takes hot air balloons at sunset or makes grand romantic gestures. The last date night we had involved going to a bar for some great local live music, which I suppose might be considered romantic, but on the way home we took advantage of having a babysitter with no curfew and went...wait for shopping.  Pretty dull stuff—that's why I live vicariously through my characters!

6)      When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot?
It depends. Sometimes I find inspiration for a character and craft a world around him, and other times I find that I really want to write a certain scenario and build the characters based on what fits in with that. When I wrote my first novella, The Buyout, I had an idea about an office romance that involved a lot of inter-office flirting and misuse of instant messenger—the characters themselves and their personalities came about as a way to make that happen. With Island House, I started with the main character, Niall. The entire book is in his POV, so it was really important to really know him well first. Everything else was directed by Niall and his life experiences.

7)      If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?
I'd love to be able to say Tina Fey, but unless the casting director was taking major liberties it would be a long shot. Are there many Hawaiian-born half-Caucasian actresses out there? Hapa haoles represent! *g*

8)      Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?
I suppose it depends on how you classify horror. My favorite villain of all time is definitely Iago from Shakespeare's Othello. He's selfish, manipulative and very sly, which is what you need in a good villain. It's hard not to root for him even though you know he's really just a horrible person who orchestrates the death of pretty much everyone on stage by the end of the play.

   9)    Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it?

I'd say Nikola Tesla. Or more specifically, just his brain—he had a pretty skeezy mustache that was de rigeur at the time but doesn't do much for me. I don't think we'll ever fully be able to grasp the influence his inventions and theories had on modern technology because he had his fingers in so many of the building blocks responsible for technology as we know it today.

10)   Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?
I have a YA story set in a hospice that I'm not sure will ever be completed, both because I'm not sure that there's a market for it and because I'm not sure I'll ever be in a place that I can write something that doesn't have a HEA or even a HFN. Maybe someday.


Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan's dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he's carved out for himself. 

When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life's simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they've begun.


NIALL AHERN straightened his cuff links, pursing his lips over the formality of his outfit. He’d last worn this suit at his niece’s baptism a few months after her birth, and Camille would be eight that fall. But his discomfort stemmed more from the fact it was August in the British Virgin Islands, not the age of the suit. It still fit perfectly, the brushed wool trousers skimming over his trim waist and toned thighs and the sleeves just kissing his wrists, cuff links appropriately visible. But Camille’s baptism had been in November, not to mention it had also been in cool, overcast London instead of the oppressively hot island paradise he was currently wearing it in. 

“Must be waitin’ on someone important, all turned out like you iz.” Niall whirled around, rolling his eyes when he saw the tall dark-skinned man leaning against a luggage trolley. The fabric of his garishly colored tie-dyed shirt stretched across his belly, its mishmash of colors standing out starkly against the beige walls of the small airport terminal.

“Not that I’m going to tell you how to run your business, because God knows I certainly can’t give tips on success, but do you have to put on such a ridiculous accent when the tourists aren’t here, Jacks?”

The older man straightened and grinned, revealing perfect teeth. It made a remarkable difference, his belly all but disappearing as he stood at his full height.

“It’s what customers expect,” Jacks said with a shrug. “Bettina did a study on it when she took a marketing class up at the college. She had us switch back and forth, using the accent for a week and then not for a week. She had a spreadsheet and everything. Customers tipped 30 percent more when we sounded like backwater Rastas.”

Niall shook his head, fidgeting with his cuff links again. He was absolutely baking in the heavy suit, but he’d worn it because he needed to impress the client, who was due any minute. The small real estate office Niall had opened on the island two years earlier was floundering. He sorely needed the commission that would come from brokering a multimillion-dollar deal. So he’d gone with the suit and given himself the best pep talk he could before heading out, trying to ignore the fact that the future of his business rested squarely in the infamously picky tech mogul Ethan Bettencourt’s hands.

“Think it would work for me?” he asked, giving Jacks his most charming smile. The nerves that had been churning in his stomach eased a bit as Jacks threw back his head and laughed, the familiar sound putting Niall more at ease than he’d been all morning.

“I don’t think so, mon,” he drawled. “You’re missing the key characteristic.”

Niall grinned, narrowing his eyes and inspecting Jacks carefully.

“Actually being Jamaican? You’re missing it too.”

“Niall, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but—” Whatever Jacks was about to say was lost as another voice interrupted them, catching Niall off guard, since his back had been to the door.

“You’re Ahern?”

The voice belonged to a tall, dark-haired man who would have been handsome save for the stubble covering his face. The rugged two-day growth transformed his slightly sharp features into something dangerous, and paired with his slight tan and blue eyes, the end result was nothing short of breathtakingly gorgeous. Were it not for the faded button-down and pair of tattered Dockers the man was wearing, Niall would have sworn he was an 18th century pirate somehow transported to the modern day.

Niall didn’t realize he’d been staring, until Jacks cleared his throat and stepped forward, hand outstretched to welcome the visitor. Niall swallowed, his already heat-flushed cheeks burning with the beginnings of a blush. He hadn’t reacted to a man like this since—well, since ever. Niall’s only serious relationship had been with a man he’d known since childhood, and it definitely hadn’t started with a spark of lust like this. He felt a familiar pang of guilt at the thought of finding a man other than Nolan attractive, though Nolan had been gone for years.
“Sorry?” Niall asked when it became clear the would-be pirate was talking to him again.

“I asked if you were Niall Ahern,” the man said, blue eyes narrowed slightly as he studied Niall. “He said he’d be here to pick me up—”

“Mr. Bettencourt!” Niall felt his stomach drop. Ethan Bettencourt was one of the world’s most sought-after software developers and technology consultants. He wore Armani suits and custom-made Italian shoes, not ancient Dockers and flip-flops. But as Niall stared at him, he could see the full lips and aquiline nose that had made Ethan fodder for gossip magazines across the world. It was definitely him.

“I’m so sorry, sir,” Niall said, rushing forward. He wasn’t sure if he should shake his hand or offer to take his luggage, and as a result he did neither, hand raised awkwardly in front of him as his mind tried to catch up and figure out what to do.

Bettencourt solved Niall’s dilemma by shifting his bag to his other hand and reaching out to take Niall’s half-raised hand. “Call me Ethan.”

The contact had Niall cringing inside, the cool skin of Ethan’s hand making him even more aware of his own sweaty palm.

“Of course,” Niall said, cursing himself for being so flustered. He’d never had this problem before when greeting important clients. Of course, he’d never had an important client who was as gorgeous as Ethan, nor one who could keep Niall’s business afloat for another year with a single transaction.

“Welcome to the islan’, Ethan,” Jacks said, sliding back into his put-on accent and into an easy conversation with Ethan about his flight and the weather forecast for the next few days. It bought Niall enough time to marshal his thoughts, and he made a mental note to buy Jacks a beer the next time he saw him at The Cab, the tiny bar where most of the locals gathered to get away from tourists.

“My car is just outside,” Niall said, reaching out with more grace this time to take Ethan’s bag. Ethan let him, his full lips quirking into a small smile that had Niall’s heart racing again. “I thought you might like a chance to settle in at the hotel. If you like, I can leave you with some of the information on the listings we’ll be looking at tomorrow.”

Ethan’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he dug in his pocket, pulling out a Blackberry that looked like it had been through a war zone. The screen was scuffed and the back was covered with scrapes and deep scratches. It was more suited to a rock climber or beach bum than a man who’d made his fortune in technology. Before Niall could say anything, Ethan had dialed and was pressing the phone against his ear, his tanned knuckles skimming his jaw.

“Explain to me why Mr. Ahern has no idea I’m staying with him for the duration of my trip to Tortola,” he barked into the phone without preamble, startling Niall with both the tone of his voice and the unexpected information.
Niall’s brow creased, his brain registering Ethan’s words as the other man lapsed into silence, apparently listening to whoever was on the other end of the phone. He’d had his office manager, Keandra, handle all the arrangements for Ethan’s visit. Niall had assumed she’d gotten Ethan a suite at Frenchman’s Lookout. It was standard operating procedure with their high-end clients, even though accommodations at the pricey resort cost Niall more than double his monthly mortgage on his boat and the office combined. The hotel gave him a bit of a discount, since he was a local, but still, it was a shock every time the bill came. Regardless, it was worth it. Even if he spent upward of $10,000 wining and dining a single client for a week.

“… absolutely not. I’ll fly back if that’s the case.”

Niall’s head flicked up at the finality in Ethan’s tone. He was obviously not happy with whatever the person on the other end of the battered cell phone was telling him. Niall swallowed, mentally inventorying the state of his house. He hadn’t been home in weeks, as per his usual September routine. It was the one month out of the year Niall decamped to his boat and lived on it full-time. His quick trip home to change into the suit he was wearing had been the first time he’d been in the bungalow since the beginning of the month. Niall made a quick mental study of the rooms, trying to picture whether he’d seen laundry strewn around the bathroom or plates cluttering the kitchen. He didn’t think there had been.

Niall wondered if he should pull out his own phone and call Keandra, but it was her afternoon off. He hated to bother her when she was out with her son. Between her job as Niall’s office manager and working second shift at The Cab, she didn’t have much time with Sebastian. He was brushing the top of his pocket to delve inside for his cell when Ethan made a disgusted noise and stabbed at a button on his phone, glaring at it for good measure before tossing it haphazardly on top of the suitcase he’d set on the terminal floor. No mystery to why it was so banged up, then, Niall thought absently as Ethan swung his black gaze over to focus on him.

“Apparently there has been a miscommunication.” Ethan ground his teeth together, the motion making the tendons in his neck stand out in a way Niall knew should have been off-putting but wasn’t. “Susannah somehow overlooked the arrangements your secretary sent her along with the appointment confirmation.”

Niall wondered if Susannah would still have a job when her boss returned to the mainland; Ethan was infamous for his hair-trigger temper and his exacting standards. Niall had done a fair bit of research on Ethan when he’d taken him on as a client, and one thing that had come up time and again was Ethan’s penchant for dramatics.
Niall felt for the secretary. It couldn’t be easy to work for someone as demanding as Ethan Bettencourt. He was beginning to find that out firsthand, and he’d only been in his employ for several minutes.

“I only have thirty-six hours to find a home, Ahern, and I don’t intend to waste any of them lounging poolside at whatever passes for a resort here,” Ethan snapped. Niall stiffened his spine at the insult. Tortola was the gem of the British Virgin Islands, a place he and Nolan had handpicked out of dozens of potential islands when they’d been looking for a place to start a business. He opened his mouth to respond, but Ethan was off and running again before Niall could form any words. “I’ll be staying with you. If you have a problem with that, I’ll find someone else to work with.”

Niall’s lips flattened at the threat. There were plenty of other firms here Ethan could give his business to; Niall knew that all too well. His tiny independent real estate firm hardly caught any of the multimillion-dollar action, and the thought of losing such a big client made his skin turn clammy under the weight of his heavy suit. He was sure Ethan knew he couldn’t afford to lose the commission; in fact, he wouldn’t put it past him to have picked Niall’s firm simply because he knew Niall’s desperation would make him agree to just about anything.

“You’d be much more comfortable at a hotel.” Niall ground the words out, forcing himself to smile.

Ethan studied him for a second before patting his pockets in search of his phone. Niall was about to point it out on his suitcase when Ethan pulled a slimmer, sleeker phone out of his shirt pocket. It was much more in line with what Niall had expected a man like Ethan to carry.

“Change in plans.” Just like before, Ethan didn’t pause for the person on the other end to get a greeting in. “Refuel the plane and have it ready for me in ten minutes.”

Niall’s eyes widened and he stepped forward slightly, panicked. “I—”

“Joe? Never mind.”

Niall watched Ethan end the call, Ethan’s full lips twisted into a smirk. It made Niall wonder if Ethan really would have left. The calculating gleam in the other man’s eyes made him pretty certain it hadn’t been an empty threat.
“You be needin’ a car, Mr. Niall?” Jacks’s voice took Niall off guard, and he shook his head slightly. He’d driven to the airport, as he was sure Jacks well knew. The parking lot wasn’t very big, and Jacks would have seen the familiar battered Mercedes when he parked his cab.

“No, Jacks. We’ll be fine,” Niall said. His brain felt woolly and like it was trying to catch up. He’d been in a fog ever since Ethan had stepped into the terminal, and he needed to shake it off.

“Storm’s comin’,” Jacks said, picking up Ethan’s bag and walking toward the exit as if Niall hadn’t spoken. For a second, he wondered if he hadn’t actually said the words out loud, but then Ethan turned toward him and arched an eyebrow.

“Your car?”

“Right.” Niall jogged a few paces to catch up with Ethan and Jacks, the wind outside drawing his attention for the first time. It had kicked up considerably since he’d arrived at the airport. The tall palms were thrashing from side to side and the sky was an ominous shade of dark gray.

“Didn’t think Sookie was supposed to make landfall here,” Niall said, squinting at the clouds that seemed to be hovering unusually low.

“That’s Thalia.” Ethan shrugged when both Jacks and Niall looked surprised to hear him weigh in. “Sookie fell apart, but Thalia was right behind it. Looks like we won’t get so lucky with her.”

God, he hoped the storm didn’t actually hit, Niall thought sourly as he opened the trunk for Jacks. That’s all he needed, to be stuck in a tiny bungalow with his jackass of a client during a tropical storm.

About Bru:

Bru Baker is a freelance journalist who writes for newspapers and magazines. She knew she was destined to be a writer by the tender age of 4, when she started publishing a weekly newspaper for her family. What they called nosiness she called a nose for news, and no one was surprised when she ended up with degrees in journalism and political science and started a career in journalism.
While reporting the news is her day job, fiction is Bru's true love. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it's creating her own
characters or getting caught up in someone else's, there's no denying that Bru is happiest when she's engrossed in a book. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their two young children, whose antics make finding time to write difficult but never let life get boring.
Visit Bru online at or follow her on Twitter at You can also email her at

Twitter @bru_baker