Saturday, December 21, 2013

Welcome to the 2013 Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop



Hello Muses and Fallen Friends,

It's almost that time. Can you believe it? That's right Christmas is here! Woo Hoo. All my shopping's about done and my boys have made their lists. Has Santa visited any of you early this year? I'm wracking my brain right now as I try to think of some fun post so we can all share what we got. Also, if you enjoy romance novels, I have a new blog called Naughty Little Kisses I recently opened up. So take a moment to swing by and join so you can follow our reviews & interviews on some fantastic romance authors here: http://naughtylittlekisses.blogspot.com/.

On to the giveaway! For this hop, hosted by Bookhounds and I Am A Reader Not a Writer, I'll be giving away the first five ebooks of the Lost Immortals Saga, including an ARC of Torn Seraphine which hasn't been released yet. Plus you'll get a $5 gift card from Amazon so you can purchase any other great books that have inspired you when you're done. This is my gift to you for being such fantastic supporters of my work over the past couple years since book one: When Copper Suns Fall was first released in December of 2011. There's much more to come in 2014 and beyond. With your enthusiastic support, I know next year will be just as fantastic as the previous ones. 

Here are the prizes!






Good Luck Everyone!


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Friday, December 20, 2013

Series Cover Reveal, The Secrets Saga by Angee Taylor





Series Title: The Secrets Saga    
Author: Angee Taylor    
Genre: Paranormal Romance/mystery
Reveal Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Journey: The Beginning
Blurb
Journey is a prequel to the Secrets Saga books, Hidden Secrets and Deadly Secrets. In this novella you learn some of the life history of Rose, Cortne and Aj. We also see a glimpse of the beginning of their friendship. 
Rose 
How do you explain to a family that you lost their dead loved one? Especially, when said family is standing right behind you? To all the patients at work, she appears to have everything going for her. Beauty and brains, should make for an easy life right. Well they would never guess the strong confident nurse they have taking care of them is abused every day at home. 

Patients predicting their own death and foretelling a future she doesn’t want to believe. Does she stay or let the predicted future come to life. Why does she leave her family? Why doesn’t she tell anyone what she is when she finds out? 
Cortne and Aj 
What have they seen that make them accept the things that come to pass? 
The Three of Them 
What trials have they gone through that bind them? What have they seen that make them accept all that happens to each of them. 
We take a glance back at snapshots of their lives to see if it can help us understand them any better. 

Excerpt
At nine that night, I carried the sleeping boy to his bed and headed towards mine. It had been a long week, I may just sleep all night and day. I crawled into my bed, and turned the lamp off. The darkness of the room made me uncomfortable for some reason. I dozed off anyway, at some point in the night something woke me up.
To this day, I don’t know what. My room was glowing red. All the curtains were closed and lights were off. Even the door was closed. The air felt heavy, I felt threatened. My heart raced, my breathing was labored; I had broken out in a sweat. What was this? I spoke out loud, following my gut. “This is my house and you are not welcome here. Leave here and leave all in this place alone,” I said through closed eyes, afraid of what I may see in the red glow. The heaviness slowly lifted but I didn’t open my eyes until the next morning. Josh didn’t mention it to me and I damn sure wasn’t going to scare him.
Later that day I took my horse out for a ride through the woods. The sun was so damn bright my sunglasses just weren’t helping. My eyes felt like someone had lit a match and thrown into each of them. Hence, the ride in the woods, it was shadier.
After about an hour of riding straight into the depths of the forest, I turned my horse around and began making my way out. I had ridden in these woods for most of my childhood. I knew every inch of them. I rounded the big oak to see a man standing there. He startled me, I almost yelled but remained calm. “Hi, are you lost?”
“No, I’m not lost I came to see you."

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Hidden Secrets

Blurb
Rose has been struggling for years to find out about the mysterious illness that’s killing her. She’s decided to end her life after one last trip to the French Quarter…Her plans go awry when the sexy Caleb Glasson, who carries a dark secret, saunters into her life. She discovers that she’s not what she appears to be, to rest of the world. The only man that can unlock that secret is dead at Caleb’s hand. The most startling epiphany is that she has latent powers that will emerge in a haunting thrilling story that will answer all of her questions.

Excerpt
What a sight, she thought they were in violation of every vampire lore out there. They were awake during the day, driving a convertible with the roof down, enjoying the sunshine through their dark glasses, of course. The wind made conversation hard and she was grateful. She didn’t know what to say and didn’t know if she could stand to hear what he had to say. The car ride would only last so long. She had to pull herself together. By the time they arrived at the airport, she had reined her emotions in and was ready for anything he could throw at her. Thanks to private airports and no security, she had been able to keep her knives. As they boarded the plane Caleb asked, “Where to? The pilot needs to know where he can file a flight plan.”


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Deadly Secrets


BLURB
The wedding was supposed to stop the endless stream of death threats. It seems someone didn’t get the message. As the family struggles to find the person or persons sending the threats, they face problem after problem. Rose is developing new powers so fast she's having a difficult time keeping up with them. New family members have been discovered that were erased from the family history. There is even possibly a betrayal from within their own family. Whom can Rose and Caleb trust? Who is out to kill them? Will they figure it out in time to save themselves and their family? Or will they discover the truth too late to save everyone they love?

EXCERPT
***Rose***
I crouched there looking down, sliding my tongue over my unsheathed fangs, which pricked it, and allowing the precious blood to seep into my mouth. Tasting the sweet taste of the iron rich liquid, my thirst spiked. The raw desire of hunger ate at me, like a wild animal chewing on a bone.
This wasn’t about hunger though, it was anger, and it was about protecting my family. Hearing Caleb and the others beating at the door, knowing I only had minutes before someone got the doors open. Looking deep in myself, breathing deeply I released the leash I kept on my powers. I felt them slam into me, for once the feel of thousands of bolts of lightning hitting me made me feel powerful, it wasn’t painful this time.
***Collin***
I stood still watching my sister-in-law. I had no idea what she was up to. I’d heard she had a protective streak and was very lethal when she wanted to be. Even though I couldn’t see this slip of a woman being lethal, I’d wait and see. I was caught off guard by what I saw with my own eyes.
The books went to flying off the shelves all around my library. Furniture began floating. The fireplace was erupting with flames all the while my little sister-in-law was still crouched looking down at the floor. Books that were flying off the shelves finally took on an ordered chaos as they were circling around and over me. Trying to get out of the room, I found I was fixed in place.
The fireplace calmed down, the furniture sat back on the floor. I was still fixed in place unable to move and books still circled around and over me. Looking at Rose she was still crouched, never looking up.
When she did what I saw startled me.
Standing slowly, she walked to me. Caleb was beating on the metal door that stood between him and his wife.
As she approached me I guess the fear in my eyes made Rose smile. “You see now I’m no child for you to mess with. You ever kidnap me again, it won’t matter who you’re related to. I’ll kill you and won’t tell them you’re a good guy.”
“Why are your eye’s…That’s not normal.” My voice quivered with the fear, no terror I felt.
“It doesn’t matter. All that does matter is you realize that those people behind that door are mine. I love each and every one of them. If you do anything to harm them, I won’t show you mercy. Vampire or not I can kill you. You may have gotten the drop on me once and drugged me. That was the only time it will ever happen. You better be truthful in all dealing with us or you will see what all isn’t normal about me.”
Waving her hand, the entire room returned to perfection. I shook my head half in shock but completely terrified of her.
Rose looked down, blinking a few times. When she looked at me again all traces of the person she had been seconds earlier was gone.
“Open that door for me, if you don’t mind.” Rose all but ordered it.
“Sure thing Rose.” I did so as fast as I could. I didn’t want to be in a room with her alone any longer than I had to. As the door opened, her family rushed out all speaking at once.
“What happened? What was all that noise? Is everything okay?”
Smiling at her beloved family then turning to look at me before she spoke, “Everything is just fine. Isn’t it Collin?”
“It’s great.” I gave my best smile, even though I was scared at the moment.
Caleb looked around the room, looking for some indication at what had happened. He found none. “Rose let’s go to bed.”
“I’m past ready. I hope the bed is a soft one, after being on that hard silver table for a few days.” Rose said as she walked down the hall towards the bedrooms.
As she walked through the door it closed behind her. I sat on the floor. It had been all the years of training to look tough that had kept me from doing just this earlier. I would not show fear.

Secrets Revealed

Blurb
Rose is tired of her and her family being hunted, so she decides to do the hunting herself and takes Cortne along with her. They end up taking a few detours along the way, learning more about Rose’s past and her family. Does being a Sun Witch add more problems to her life or does it make it easier? Facing severe fatigue and needing to feed frequently makes the hunt more difficult. They already found the traitor in the family, or did they? Is everyone who they appear to be? Has her family been honest with her? Has she been honest with herself? Are friends truly friends or are they enemies lying in wait?

Excerpt
Cortne
“Cool tats!” I almost yelled when I saw the tats on the upper portions of both of Rose’s arms.
“What tats?”
“The eclipses on each of your arms, they are mirror images of each other.”
“They marked me…” I heard Rose whisper.
“What? Who?”
“Nevermind, we have to set up a meeting with Drake.”
“I’m already on it. I called while you were still in bed. We have a meeting at four this afternoon. That gives you two hours to get your shit together. Whatever happened earlier you need to get your mind wrapped around it.”
“My mind is around it. I’m just tired. Maybe I will nap for a bit.” She snapped.
She turned and headed inside, leaving me alone on the balcony. My mind drifted to Sean. It had been months since I’d seen him. I’d kept our separation from Rose by lying to my best friend. I saw the love her and Caleb had. I wanted that, but Sean just couldn’t accept me being a wolf. He’d tried, he really had. I’d planned to tell Rose the divorce was final on our girls’ day. That plan had gone to hell.
I really needed to talk about this with someone, but Rose had too much on her plate now. She would be pissed when she found out I’ve been keeping this from her. I called Aj. Her voice filled with laughter as she answered the phone.


Author Bio
I was born in Houston, Texas in 1977, to an interesting family. My mother and father separated when I was young. I lived with my mother who later remarried a wonderful man, who had a huge impact on me as I grew up. I have always had a love of reading, mostly paranormal. As a child, I would sneak up at late night, when my mom thought I was sleeping, to read. We moved around a lot, eventually settling in Deep East Texas. I married at a young age and eventually divorced. I have raised my now 16 year old son alone. I work full time as a pre-hospital nurse and sometimes see things that would make the rest of you have nightmares. On other days, I'm blessed to see miracles. These things are what drive me to write. 

I describes my job as- “I fight to save people’s lives. Sometimes I lose, sometimes I win. It's the emotional roller coaster of that job, which leads me to writing. I'm able to put those emotions into my characters and let them out of my heart and soul.” 

In 2006, I was diagnosed with a rare disease, shortly after that I was told I would be on full disability in five years and most likely to be dead in ten. I've fought to live a normal life every day since and I'm beating those odds. I work at a demanding job, I'm a single mom, care for an elderly mother, and two hyperactive dogs. 

On April 17, 2013 I faced another challenge in my life when my home was destroyed in the explosion in West, TX. I lost many friends and almost everything I own. Once again I have fought to get through it and I'm finally starting to feel normal again. 

Links


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Blitz, Mabe's Burden by Kelly Abell



Title: Mabe's Burden
Author: Kelly Abell
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Blitz Host: Lady Amber's Tours

Blurb
Hot tempered, Mabe O'Banyon will do whatever it takes to keep the family's Irish pub, Shenanigans, out of the mob's dirty hands. She quickly learns, though, their attorney and the bank will offer no help. So, she calls in the reinforcements--Mara and Meg. She hasn't seen her two sisters for years, but her desperate message brings them running.
Commercial real estate developer, Aaron Shaw has a secret. He arrives in Monticello, FL, expecting to purchase a quaint Irish pub and move on to his next conquest. But the transaction doesn't take place as planned--in fact, it doesn't take place at all. The hardheaded owner--a stunning redhead with curves that don't quit--isn't selling. 
With time running out and the mob on their heels, Aaron wants nothing more than to save the woman he's fallen for from impending danger. Mabe is torn between a man she loves but can't trust and the need to hold on to her family's pub. Their choices lead them down a path neither could have guessed.


One-liner
While being threatened by the mob, a hot-headed barkeep goes toe-to-toe with a real estate developer who wants to save her and falls head-over-heels...until she learns he's been keeping a horrible secret.


I can't remember a time when I didn't want to write.  From the time I was learned enough to string sentences together I liked writing stories.  In high school I was the literary editor of our school magazine Sketches and had a series of short stories that I'd written even then.  I'm published with two wonderful publishers, World Castle and Solstice Publishing, and on my own as an Indie.  


I live in Florida with my two adult children and my husband of 30+ years.  I have a wonderful dog named Snickers that can even open her own Christmas presents! (don't believe me?  Look below) When I'm not working full time in the insurance industry, I write.  I believe any writer should write because they love the craft. The rest will come in time.  I hope you enjoy reading my stories as much as I've enjoyed writing them.

Links
website
Facebook
Twitter

Buy Links

Smashwords Buy Link

When Mabe meets Aaron Shaw for the first time

The door to the pub swung open for a tall, ebony haired man wearing an expensive tan suit. Mabe straightened. Riveted, she stared at his strikingly angular face. His chin, grooved by a slight dimple, struck her as sexy.
His gaze roamed the bar, settling on her. Warmth radiated through her entire body. Never had she felt such an intense attraction to a man. Who the hell is he? She didn’t recall ever seeing him in the pub. Her nerves tingled. Resembling a panther, he wove his way through the crowd. Slightly ashamed of her attraction to a strange man at her father’s wake, she turned her back, resuming her position behind the bar. She spoke to several patrons, mentally noting their drink orders on her way.
“No one could pull a pint like your da,” an old grizzled man at the end of the mahogany counter stated. “Smooth like silk he was.”
Mabe smiled. “He was, Angus. We’ll miss him.” She handed a frothy mug to the man. “Here you go. Enjoy that.”
“I will,” Angus declared, raising his glass to her. “To many years.”
She picked up a glass of Coke, clinked it against Angus’s mug. “And to you.”
“I’ll have one of those if you don’t mind,” a deep voice spoke from behind her.
Turning, ready with a flirty response on her tongue, she came face to face with her handsome stranger. His eyes matched the deep rich mahogany of the bar. His smile, while slightly crooked, seemed genuine and swept the words right out of her brain.
“Uh…sure. Name your poison.”
“Guinness?”
Mabe nodded, pulled the beer, scraping the foam from the top. “I’ve never seen you here before. What’s your name, and how did you know my dad?”
His gaze caught hers, sympathy reflected in his eyes. She tried to look away, but she couldn’t. The man was a god.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thanks. He will be missed for sure.”
“I just realized…this is his wake, isn’t it? A private party?”
She nodded. “It is.”
The man smiled gently. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I’m intruding. I should go.”
She set the beer in front of him. “Nah, we’re all friends here. It is a private party, but stay if you’d like.” She gestured. “Those are my sisters Meg and Mara. We own the place now.”
“It’ll be hard to run it without your father, won’t it?”
Mabe sighed, leaning on her elbows. “It won’t be the same, for sure, but we’ll do okay. It’ll take some work….” She glanced lovingly around the pub with all its Irish paraphernalia adorning he walls. “Da, loved this place. I grew up here. It’s our place. We’ll make it work.”
She shivered, feeling his intense stare. Her skin burned under the laser scan of his eyes. Her pulse jumped. If the room were empty except for the two of them, he’d be in some serious trouble. He took a sip of the Guinness, still staring at her over the mug.
She licked her lips then broke the gaze. She swiped at the glossy mahogany top with a rag. “What brings you to town?”
“Business,” was his response.
“Ooh, cryptic, are we?” She flirted.
“Suits me for now.”
A man at the end of the counter signaled for her. She held up a finger then approached her guest. She served a few more beers, all the while being extremely aware of his gaze. His allure was more powerful than any she’d ever experienced. Monticello wasn’t full of dashing men in expensive suits, but it had its fair share of good lookers. Lord knew she’d flirted with some from time to time, even dated a few, but none of them stirred in her what this man did.
No longer needed, she returned to him, eyeing his empty mug. “Another?”
He nodded, offered her a smile.
Her knees weakened. She steadied herself by grasping the smooth wood. What the hell is wrong with me? She pulled his beer, but before she handed it to him she asked, “What did you say your name was?”
He chuckled. “I didn’t.”
She set the mug down in front of him. “Oh, come on. You’re not going to waltz into my pub during my daddy’s wake and not tell me who you are. It’s not polite.”
One dark eyebrow rose. “Not polite, huh?”
“Not at all,” she declared, leaning on the bar, offering him her most dazzling smile.
“Okay then…if you insist.
“I do.”
He held out his hand. Mabe reached out, taking his warm palm in hers. The air between them practically crackled with tension. “Aaron Shaw.”
Her previously heated blood froze. In one swift moment, all the allure she’d experienced earlier evaporated. This is the shark trying to buy my pub. The nerve of this man, waltzing in here, flirting with me, when all the while he’s casing the joint for a future purchase. She grabbed his beer unceremoniously dumping it on his head. The dark brew dripped from his hair all over his tan suit.
“What the hell?” he shouted, jumping off the stool.
“Get out of my pub,” she yelled at him.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Release Day Blitz, That One Summer by CJ Duggan



Title: That One Summer (Summer, #3)
Author: CJ Duggan
Genre: New Adult Romance

Release Day: December 17th, 2013Blitz Host: Lady Amber's Tours

Book Description:
Loving Chris Henderson would be wrong. Diabolically disastrous. I mean, what is there about him to love? He’s moody, bossy, brooding, a control freak, and that’s on a good day … but there was one achingly obvious fact that haunted my every thought, every minute of every day …

He sure could kiss.

As the countdown to the new millennium begins, there is one thing everyone agrees on: no one wants to be in Onslow for New Year’s Eve.

So that can only mean one thing: road trip!

No longer the mousey, invisible, shy girl from years ago, Tammy Maskala is finally making up for all those lost summers. A new year with new friends, which astoundingly includes the bossy boy behind the bar, Chris Henderson.

She likes her new friends (at least most of them), so why does she secretly feel so out of place?

After chickening out on the trip, a last-minute change of heart sees Tammy racing to the Onslow Hotel, fearing she’s missed her chance for a ride. The last thing she expected to meet was a less-than-happy Onslow Boy leaning against his black panel van.

Now the countdown begins to reach the others at Point Shank before the party is over and the new year has begun. Alone in a car with only the infuriating Chris Henderson, Tammy can’t help but feel this is a disastrous start to what could have been a great adventure. But when the awkward road trip takes an unexpected turn, Tammy soon discovers that the way her traitorous heart feels about Chris is the biggest disaster of all.

Fogged up windows, moonlight swimming, bad karaoke and unearthed secrets; after this one summer nothing will ever be the same again.


C.J Duggan is an Australian author who lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia.
The Boys of Summer is Book One in her Mature Young Adult Romance Series.
For more on C.J and ‘The Summer Series’, visit www.cjdugganbooks.com

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Blitz & Giveaway for Class of ''98 by A.L. Player



Class of '98

Summary from Goodreads:
Jackie Dunn and Matt Stewart barely knew each other in high school, back when she was a blue-haired alterna-kid and he was a preppy jock. High school rules dictated they'd never hang out, or sit at the same lunch table, or God forbid, date.

But when a weird storm transports them from their ten-year reunion back to senior year, they have to work together to figure out a way to get back to 2008.

Stuck in high school, Jackie and Matt agree to tough it out. They agree to do everything exactly as they remember, even though that means staying with the boyfriend Jackie knows will betray her, or playing nice with the girl that will someday be Matt’s ex-wife. Soon, they come to rely on one other, even become friends.

Jackie’s just starting to get used to curfews and term papers again, when Matt hits her with the biggest surprise of all: he’s fallen in love with her. He’ll change the past however he has to if it means a future with Jackie. But Jackie’s terrified they’ll not only alter their lives, but the lives of everyone around them.

Back to the Future meets She's All That, Class of '98 is a young adult/adult crossover that will appeal to teens and adults.


Available from:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg

CHAPTER ONE


Jackie Dunn needed a change, and she was about to get one.  For four years she had worked in the same bile-yellow cubicle, listening to her officemate hum flat tunes over the partition.  She had slogged through twelve-hour days, translating page after page of legalese that scrambled her brain.  She had taken contracts home over weekends and holidays.  Now all that work was about to pay off.  Today, at four o’clock, she would meet with the partners, who would give her the promotion she’d been desperate for.
            She had the whole day planned for weeks.  First, the purchase of her celebratory coffee a half hour before her meeting with the partners to allow it time to cool to the perfect temperature. That first sugary, whipped-cream-and-chocolate sip would taste particularly good when the partners told her the international liaison position was hers.  Then, she would sign the new contract, which promised not only her own office—complete with hum-silencing door—but also a hefty raise and frequent trips to Spain, Chile, and Argentina to meet with the heads of the companies her firm did business with.  On those late evenings when she thought she couldn’t work another minute, she’d used the dreams of sprawling on sunny Chilean beaches or late dinners at the Ritz-Carlton Madrid to propel her forward.
            The icing on her perfect day’s cake would be leaving the office a few minutes early to zip down the highway to her ten-year high school reunion.  She picked out her favorite blue dress and brown wedge boots and wore them to work so she wouldn’t have to stop by her condo on the way to the school.  Jackie could envision herself, clad in the perfect outfit, greeting old friends and not-so-subtly slipping in news of her promotion.  Her classmates would have to be impressed at how perfectly her life had come together.
The partners announced the month before that the choice was between her and one other candidate, Walker Melton.  She absolutely had the advantage.  As far as she could tell, the most Walker Melton had contributed to the office was a tendency to tell off-color jokes at the worst possible moment.  She hadn’t been sure the promotion was hers until that afternoon, though.  The partners went in for their meeting to discuss the candidates, with Jackie’s boss, Tyrone, in tow.  Jackie searched Tyrone’s face for a sign, and he grinned and winked.  She took the look as a green light to run to Starbucks for the seven-dollar calorie bomb she never would have allowed herself on a normal day. 
At last, the electric-blue clock on her desk clicked over to four o’clock.  Jackie closed her laptop, grabbed the coffee, and walked down the plush carpet to the conference room for her meeting.  Tyrone and the partners were already assembled, standing beside the round oak table.  Her grin wilted a little.  Shouldn’t they sit down to sign the contract?  Her stomach dropped.  A quick glance at their hands told her no one had papers of any kind.
Mr. Houston, the short, bald senior partner, nodded at her.  He offered her a tight smile.  “Good afternoon, Jackie.  Thanks for meeting with us.”
“Thank you, Mr. Houston.”  She went to take a seat in one of the high-backed leather chairs, but he held up a hand to stop her.
“This…this won’t take long.”
Oh, no.  Jackie placed a hand on the back of the chair, in an imitation of nonchalance, but the wheeled chair shifted and she had to do a quick sidestep to keep her balance.
Tyrone stepped forward.  “Jackie, you know we appreciate how much you do for this company.  This was a really tough decision.  But, in the end, the partners and I have decided to go with Walker.”  He smiled a little.  “Something good will come up for you soon, I’m sure.”
Jackie gritted her teeth, but the words still screamed in her head.  But my office!  With a door!  The Ritz-Carlton!  The beeeeeeach.  She took a deep breath and nodded.  “Right.  Well.  Thanks for considering me,” she said, gripping the coffee in both hands.  She turned to walk out, and Tyrone followed her back to her cubicle.
“Try not to let it get to you,” he said.
“You know I do twice the work he does.”  Jackie leaned against the wall.  “I basically did the entire last contract translation by myself.”
            Tyrone held up his hands.  “It’s true.  You’re a real team player.  But you have to take into account that Walker’s kid was sick those two weeks.”
            “I thought the kid just had the chicken pox.”
“Walker took on as much as he could, but his family comes first.  That’s just not something you have to worry about at this point.” 
            Jackie threw a hand in the air.  “And that’s what this is about, isn’t it?  I’m single, I can spend all weekend poring over work, right?  No kids, no sick days.” 
            Tyrone ran a hand over his shaved head.  “Look, when you’re the one with a family you’ll be glad this company takes that into account.  Your day is coming.  It’s just not today.”
            Jackie looked down at the formerly celebratory coffee and decided to re-christen it as a comfort coffee.  She raised it to her lips and tilted the cup, ready for its warm reassurance.  Instead, she felt a tap of plastic on her nose, followed by a flood of liquid over her mouth and down her dress.  The lid, now resting in a brownish puddle on the floor, hadn’t been on tight enough, and the entire drink now soaked through her favorite outfit. 
She squeezed her eyes shut for a long moment as coffee dripped from her chin.  When she opened them again, Tyrone stood staring at her, his mouth slack and his brown eyes wide.  She straightened her shoulders and back, trying to reclaim what little dignity she could with a beverage slopped down her front.
            “I’m taking a personal day,” she said.
            Tyrone glanced at the clock.  “It’s four-fifteen.”
            She dropped the empty cup into the trashcan and grabbed her purse.  “Then I’m taking a personal hour, I guess.  See you Monday.” 
            “Wait,” Tyrone said. 
            Jackie turned back to him and fought the urge to scream.  “Yes?”
            He cleared his throat and picked up a file folder from her desk.  “Any chance you could take a look at the new contract this weekend?”
            In the silence that followed, she could hear the drip of coffee from her dress hitting the floor.  Every muscle in her body felt like a rubber band about to snap.  Even her hair was tense.  Tyrone raised his eyebrows.  Finally, Jackie held out a hand, and he gave her the file folder.
            “Thanks,” he called over her shoulder as she sped down the hall.
            On the way to the elevator, she ducked into the bathroom for paper towels, but they did nothing to sop up the brown stain spreading across the dress.  The coffee did, however, make the outline of her bra and panties clear through the thin fabric.  She wiped the last of the coffee off her chin then sprinted back out toward the elevator, holding her purse awkwardly across her front to try to cover the mess.  As soon as she hit the button, the elevator door dinged open, and she breathed a little sigh of relief when she stepped in.  Maybe she could get to the parking garage without anyone seeing her. 
            A hand appeared between the closing doors.  They sprang open again and Walker Melton stepped in, all goofy grin, bulging eyes, and a frat-boy sweep of brown hair.  The four-letter words bounced around in Jackie’s head so forcefully, she worried they might project out of her eyes and onto the wall of the elevator, like a vulgar PowerPoint slide.
            “Hey, Jackie,” he said, as his eyes traveled down her front.  “Whoa, did you spill something?”
            “No.  Purely decorative.”  She held her purse in front of her again, jabbing the button for the parking deck five or six more times, until the doors slowly closed.  “I guess congratulations are in order.”
            “Thanks.  Not sure my wife is going to like the idea of all those trips abroad.  Maybe if I bring her along once in a while.  Company’s already paying for the hotel rooms, right?”  He winked at her. 
            “Look at you, already embezzling like a pro,” she said.
            His brow wrinkled, and he took on the faraway look of someone trying to do long division in his head.  “Ha, yeah.  Anyway.  You got anything going on this weekend?”
            The thought smacked her between the eyes: the reunion.  She glanced down at her dress, then over at the ring on Walker’s thick finger, glinting in the fluorescent light.
            “I’m supposed to go to my high school reunion, but…I’m not sure if I really want to go anymore,” she said.
            “You should go.  Reunions are a blast.”  The elevator doors slid open and Walker stepped through.  He waved goodbye and grinned at Jackie.  “Have fun.”

            Oh yeah, she thought as the doors slid closed.  After a day like this?  Nothing more fun than a trip down memory lane.

About the Author
A. L. Player teaches middle and high school English in Atlanta, GA.  She lives with her guitar-playing, English-teaching husband and their three crazy rescue dogs.  Her last name gets about the reaction you'd expect.
CLASS OF '98 is A.L.'s first novel.

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