When the sound of bird song has just about drowned out the sound of traffic and my nose is beginning to run, I know I’m in the right place. This is where I want to work.
I’ve found a bench to sit on because, once again, I’ve forgotten a towel to place on the wet grass. I find the one mostly clean spot on the one bench along this path because it looks like someone had a dance party on the rest of it the last time it rained.
Few people walk by here. Every so often someone comes by walking their dog, which just means that I need to be careful about where I walk because people don’t always pick up afterward, especially not here in the woods. And there goes the occasional runner while the whine of a saw provides background music.
Yes, it’s here that I can work. And if the sun decides to make more of a show of it today, I can move to a more open spot where I can catch some rays.
This is summer to me. Walking to the woods. Working outside. Enjoying the warmth of the days. Even here in perpetually raining Brussels, I’m taking advantage of the time I have to be outside.
My mind works better outside. It works better for having the walk to get here. My imagination can expand in the open and yet not too much that it wanders away from where I need it to go. The woods, the trees, they keep me centered and allow me to focus.
This is working in the summer.
Where do you work in the summer? Do you take a break from your usual work space or continue on as usual?
Since June is synonymous with weddings, I thought it would be fun to share an excerpt from Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the first book in the Highland Gardens time travel romance series, where a wedding goes horribly wrong thanks to a meddling clan brownie.
* * *
The gilded chapel glowed with candlelight. Laurie’s gaze circled the small interior, filled with her new friends.
With a twinge of regret, she thought of her family. She would never take the long walk down the aisle at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Uncle David’s arm. Nor would she see the expected smirk on her Cousin Finn’s face as she passed him on her way to meet her intended at the altar. She wholeheartedly wished they both could be here with her now, to share her happiness.
Lost in thought, she startled when the chapel quieted.
Laurie raised her gaze to Patrick, forgetting all else. Only him, the man of her dreams. The man she desired for her own, the man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life.
Even if it meant staying in the past.
Her heart swelled and she smiled at him with love.
Patrick strode past those gathered, eyes only for her. His heated gaze scorched her. Her nipples puckered in response. Oh, how she wanted this man.
He came to stand before her. Their eyes locked in communion. Time and space no longer existed, they were alone, two souls united.
The old priest cleared his throat, breaking the spell. Directing them to stand together in front of him, he joined their hands and bade them kneel. He motioned for Elspeth and Archibald to step forward, for they were to witness this union before God and their clansmen.
Patrick squeezed Laurie’s fingers. The mass and ceremony buzzed by in a blur. She hardly remembered saying her vows.
Laurie accepted Patrick’s assistance to stand. With his hands on her shoulders, he twisted her to face him. He placed his fingers on her cheeks and lowered his head. His eyes smoldered.
His lips were warm and persistent. The kiss shot to her toes.
Everyone cheered, and her cheeks burned.
Patrick stepped back. “Wife.”
She stifled a giggle. “Husband.”
They left the chapel and crossed the passageway to the council chamber where they would celebrate their union with a wedding feast. Patrick’s warriors, some with their wives, and some with their sons and daughters filled the chamber when they arrived.
The cheer echoed from the rafters.
Laurie toyed with the large sapphire ring on her finger, the beautiful token of Patrick’s love. This was the happiest day of her life. Yet it was as if she walked within a dream.
Could this be real?
She sighted Patrick across the chamber, standing with some of his men. Jamie slapped his back with some jest and they laughed. Catching her eye, Patrick raised his cup to her, and she smiled.
The crowd moved in waves and she lost sight of him.
Her stomach clenched when Munn, the clan brownie, approached. He made odd sounds as if he couldn’t form words and handed her a beautiful bejeweled goblet.
Elspeth joined them. “He presents you with an offering of peace.”
The little man made a choking sound, but vigorously nodded.
“Thank you.” Laurie accepted his token and sipped the sweet wine. The ruby drink tasted delicious, fruity flavor burst on her tongue. More wonderful than any wine she’d ever tasted before.
Strolling around the hall, she accepted the best wishes from Patrick’s clansmen. She sipped from her goblet. The cup never emptied. Each taste was more luscious than the last.
She danced with Patrick, ate from the savory assortment of foods, and drank from the goblet given to her by Munn.
Later, she whirled around the floor with Stephen. When they danced past the trestle table where her goblet sat, she stopped to take more of the sweet wine. Delicious.
Laurie enjoyed the minstrels and more dancing. She moved to the side of the hall to rest her aching toes and sipped from the goblet. Whew. She blew out a puff of air. A feverish heat flushed her chest and neck, making her desperate for Patrick’s embrace. She wanted to consummate her marriage. She’d been waiting forever and didn’t want to wait any longer.
Taking another sip of wine, she spied him at the edge of the hall. She rushed across the oak flooring toward him. Everyone else faded away. She giggled as she stumbled into him. He caught her by the arms. He was so sexy, and tonight, finally, all of that glorious man would be hers. She wrapped her arms around him and breathed in his earthy scent.
He smelled different. Felt different. His eyes were different.
It gave her pause, but only for a moment. They were married now.
Everything was different.
She leaned into him. When she hit his hard chest with her sensitized breasts, she pressed even tighter to him. She kissed his neck, slid her tongue along his jaw.
“Lass, what are you about?” He chuckled, the sound rough against her throat.
Why was he trying to push her away?
Laurie wouldn’t allow it. She wrapped one leg around his hip, laced her fingers in his hair and shimmied up his body. Without losing her stride, she sucked his bottom lip into her mouth.
He let out a tormented groan.
* * *
When Patrick caught sight of Laurie on the other side of the hall, an intense, hot fury boiled within him. Her arms draped his brother’s neck and she smiled adoringly at Archibald as if he were her one true love. Couldn’t she tell them apart?
Did she prefer Archibald?
A red haze clouded Patrick’s eyes and angry words choked his throat. He strode across the chamber, his steps long and sure. Somehow, he managed to gain some control, forcing himself to swallow his rage before he made a public display of his disgust.
Archibald wrestled with her. She was an unruly vine, clinging to him.
“Archie, take my lady-wife to our bedchamber. I will follow,” Patrick ordered through clenched teeth.
His brother had the audacity to chuckle. He practically manhandled Laurie to move her. He lifted her through the doorway and up the stairs before anyone noticed. She attached herself to Archibald, wrapping her legs and arms around his body, kissing him with sloppy, wet kisses. He struggled with her. Finally, managing to get her to the bedchamber and off him, he dropped her onto the big bed.
“I am not Patrick. He is over there.” Archibald pointed to where Patrick watched the scene from the threshold, fury smoldering inside his chest.
“You’re mine.” She jumped up, reaching for Archibald once more.
Moving quickly, Patrick lunged across the chamber and grabbed her around the waist, pulled her away from his brother and dumped her back on the bed.
She laughed and swayed as she tried once again to rise. “Wow. Everything is spinning. Hey, there are two of you.” She giggled and fell back against the mattress like a heavy boulder.
“I never thought the day would come when you would covet my bride.” Patrick glowered at his twin.
Archibald raised his hands, palms forward. “I stand before you, falsely accused. Your lady-wife is in her cups. She is not herself.”
“How did she get that way? I saw her take but one goblet of wine. Nary enough to confuse us. She is a trifler, playing with us.” Patrick continued to glare at his twin, his disappointment and anger consuming him. “’Tis too late. I have wed the wench. I will have to teach her I am her only master.”
“You make too much of this. She is but drunk.”
“Leave. Before I forget you are my brother.”
Archibald pivoted on his heel and left the chamber without uttering another word. Patrick stared at his new wife in disgust. She sprawled across the bed, insensible, as intoxicated as a drunken warrior. Since he first found the lass, she’d been naught but trouble. Not in his thirty summers had he ever been this angry.
He reached for her and as if he held a rag doll, shook her. She didn’t stir. Cursing harshly, he dropped her onto the feather mattress.
If she loved him, she should be able to tell them apart.
* * *
Now would be a great time to read Just Beyond the Garden Gate and the other books in the Highland Gardens time travel romance series with the next book, Just Wait For Me scheduled for release on August 10th.
Coming August 10, 2016
The third match in the Fae Queen’s challenge is in play. Will fae magic change Stephen and Jillian’s destiny?
In the chaotic aftermath of the battle of Flodden, an injured Highland warrior makes a vow to a twenty-first century lass cast back in time by a meddling, matchmaking faerie. Stephen MacEwen promises to find a way to send her forward to her own time. But is that an oath he’ll want to keep after finding love in Jillian O’Donnell’s arms? And after saving Stephen’s life, will Jillian want to go?
No matter what the lover’s decide, Stephen’s wife—a woman who acquired the title through deceit—and an old enemy attempt to destroy the couple’s chance for happiness. Only with the help of Fae allies can Stephen and Jillian overcome and earn their reward—everlasting love.
The long awaited story of Hugh and Stacey, book 4 of the Shadow Walker Romance Series. If you like spies adventures with a paranormal twist, this book is for you.
Trapped In Shadow
Book Four in the Shadow Walker Tribe Romance Series
Stacey Johnson is all about secrets. She’s an operative for the government and kills people on command. Love has no place in her life. Even when she dreams about Hugh Thunder Hoof, the one man who makes her wish for a different lifestyle. With him she can believe that happy endings are possible.
Hugh Thunder Hoof, Shadow Walker, left the service after being injured. Now he walks with a slight limp. The one thing he still craves from that crazy lifestyle is his last partner, Stacey Johnson. When she shows up in his life five years later, he thinks he’ll finally get his wish. But Stacey isn’t going to make it easy on him and once again when the mission is finished she disappears. Only this time, he’s going after her.
I asked another author to share something supernatural that happened in her life, sort of like how I was born on Friday the 13th, and how I celebrate each and every Friday that happens to fall on the 13th. So, Dawn Marie Hamilton agreed to share this story:
“As a four year old, I had an imaginary playmate named Michael. He was a wealthy grownup who owned houses, boats, and airplanes. When we went out for a family drive, I’d point to a big house and claim it belonged to Michael. When a plane flew over the house, I’d claim it was Michael’s. Same with when we went to the beach; the boat anchored offshore belonged to Michael. I called him on a fake phone and talked for hours. Sometimes my mother would set a place at the table for him. To be honest, I only vaguely remember any of this, but I’ve heard the stories over and over from my siblings. Perhaps, Michael wasn’t imaginary at all but a ghost.”–Dawn Marie Hamilton