Tag Archives: romantic suspense

3 Books for ONE Great Price! Labor Day Weekend Contest – FREE!

It’s called a “bundle” and might be the smartest way to stretch a dollar if you’re an avid reader like me. But wait . . . I’m also an author so treating readers to my backlist seemed like a great idea as both a reader AND a writer. The only thing to make it better is if you win it FREE by submitting a comment to this post. I’ll be giving away THREE (I thought that number seemed appropriate) E-copies in MOBI or PDF format so enter now! Drawing will be held Tuesday morning, Sept. 3rd.

ThreeCoversTHREE ROMANTIC THRILLERS is a smorgasbord of delight for those who enjoy some sexy romance with their suspense. Buy at Amazon and hoard it for those cold wintry nights when you need to generate a little “heat”. Or read it now . . . because I’m very close to releasing my next book, UNHOLY ALLIANCE – a contemporary thriller with paranormal aspects.


Deb Sanders

Genre: Romantic Suspens



STONE COLD JUSTICE – When Maggie McGregor returns to her childhood home, she realizes the killer who stalked her ten years earlier is still out there and wants her dead -now, more than ever. The only person who can save her is sexy Nick Stone, a man determined to put her behind bars . . . but not before he puts her in his bed.


“W…What are you doing here?”

Nick cocked his head to one side. “I’m enjoying the hot springs after a long day, just like you. I come here two or three times a week.”

“How did you know I would be here? Are you following me?”

He laughed. “Would you blame me if I was? I mean, after this morning . . .”

She cut him off. “This morning was a mistake. We both know it.” To Maggie’s dismay, Nick began to glide toward her.

“The only mistake we made was not finishing what we started,” he murmured provocatively.

Heat flamed across her cheeks. “And that’s the way it must stay.”


He was dangerously close. Close enough to detect the shimmer of her bare skin beneath the ripples. She watched his eyes dilate into black orbs. “Because it’s not wise.”

“What if I don’t want to be wise? Perhaps wisdom is overrated.”

“Not this time,” she retorted. “We have a business association. Nothing more.” Maggie felt his leg brush her thigh and shivered.

“I’d say there’s a lot more going on between us than just business. All work and no play can make life rather boring, don’t you think?”

She tried to ignore the seductive way he was looking at her. “On the contrary, I believe it makes life productive.”

“We might have to debate that philosophy.” He reached for her but she pushed away. “What are you afraid of?”

“I’m not afraid.” Maggie eyed him warily, slowly increasing the distance between them. “What would your girlfriend say if she knew you kissed me this morning?”

He arched an eyebrow. “My girlfriend?”

“The woman from your award ceremony. I read about it in the local paper.”

A strange light glimmered in his eyes. “Marianne was my date but I would hardly call her a girlfriend.”

So he was unattached. She tried to camouflage her delight with sarcasm. “And I would hardly call our encounter this morning anything but regrettable.”

“Why, you little minx!”

She dove under the water, reappearing several feet from the shore. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw his surprise turn to pure determination. Pushing off a rock, he sliced through the water in direct pursuit.

Maggie propelled herself faster, leaving a small wake until her feet hit the rock floor. Within seconds, she was scrambling from the steamy pool, her legs straining against the resistance of the water.

Nick sprang for her ankle. His fingers skimmed the slippery skin before closing around a handful of air.

Plucking her towel from the ground, she quickly wound it around her dripping body like a sarong before gathering up the rest of her clothes.

Nick grinned. “Tally ho,” he called wickedly, refusing to give up the chase. Judging by the intensity of his glazed eyes, he must have seen her naked body.

The cool air hit Maggie, bringing her senses alive. Nick’s jeans and shirt draped across a boulder. It took only a moment to form a plan. Without stopping to second-guess her decision, she grabbed his pants and fished inside for keys.

Nick’s eyes grew wide. “Maggie . . . don’t . . .”

It was too late. She threw the keys into the tall grass, turning to grin triumphantly over her shoulder. That should delay his pursuit.

He rose from the water’s edge like Poseidon, dark hair spiked against his forehead. Boxer briefs clung tightly to his wet form, emphasizing what she already knew – Nick Stone was a big man.


RED HOT and DANGEROUS – As a favor to her best friend, Andie Lange agrees to act as personal assistant for a famous movie star on a one day press junket. When the movie star is murdered, Andie’s life takes a dangerous turn – it seems she’s next on the killer’s list. Just when she decides things can’t get worse, Detective Drake Slater shows up to put her in protective custody . . . a job he takes way too personally!


“Is this the kind of law you practice? Guilty until proven innocent?”

Drake’s features turned to granite. “Miss Lange, in my line of work, most suspects are guilty.”

“So now I’m a suspect?” Horrified, she rose to her feet, nearly knocking over the chair.

Drake showed no signs of relenting. “You need to cancel your return flight until you’ve been cleared. You were one of the last people to see Miss Dixon alive yesterday. How do we know it wasn’t you who poisoned the wine?”

Andie blinked as the blood drained from her face. “Why would I want to murder Diana Dixon? You don’t actually believe I had anything to do with this?”

“Stuart Prescott is missing, we don’t have a firm set of prints on the wine glass, so that leaves a lot of unanswered questions. And yes, Miss Lange, until further notice you are under investigation.” He motioned to his partner before heading toward the door, pausing to place his business card on the kitchen table. “If you remember anything else that might help us, give me a call.”

Joe Barnes approached the car in silence, not speaking until Drake pulled out of the drive. “She’s not guilty and you know it. How come you’re being such a dick? You’ve got the poor girl scared half to death.”

“It’s always the sweet, innocent types who shoot you in the back.”

Joe unwrapped a stick of gum and plopped it in his mouth. “You two have some history. Where’d you meet?”

Drake stared straight ahead, ignoring his partner’s curious expression. “I saw her yesterday at the Biltmore. Never got her name, though.”

“Is that why you were so hard on her? Geez, what’d she do? Turn you down for a date?” Joe’s mouth dropped open when he saw Drake’s expression. “That’s it.” His triumphant tone made it redder. “She turned you down. The great Drake Slater met a woman who refused his bed. I’ll be damned.”

“Shut up. It wasn’t like that.”

Joe leaned back, a huge grin creasing his face. “She sure is a looker. There’s something about redheads. I’ll bet she’s hot between the sheets, too.” He shot his partner a sideways glance. “Of course, you wouldn’t know.”

“Enough, Joe!” Drake gripped the steering wheel and maneuvered a turn.

There was no way he would admit she got the best of him. Not that it mattered. Andie Lange was a potential suspect. Nothing more.

He thought about the creamy white leg peeking from the folds of her terrycloth robe. Quite a shapely leg, too. Just like the soft mounds barely visible at the neck. He’d wanted to take her right there, and he might have if Joe hadn’t been around. Drake gave in to a reluctant smile. Hell, he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t glad she had to stick around for a week or two. Andie was the first woman in a long while to show immunity to his charm – and that intrigued the hell out of him.


BLOOD STORM – Kate Merrill is determined to fulfill her deceased father’s last wishes – deliver a mysterious package to an unknown woman in Atlanta. When the chartered plane in which she’s travelling is shot down over the snow packed Sierra Nevadas, Kate is rescued by reclusive Sam Holden, a secretive man who can’t wait to get her off his mountain. As tensions rise and passions burn, Sam and Kate are thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with terrorists intent on launching a brutal attack.


“You’re awake.”

Kate blinked at the man hovering in the doorway. Where was she? Who was this man and why did she feel like she’d survived a head-on collision with a freight train?

Fighting off a wave of dizziness, she searched for something to use as a weapon. Her fingers twitched as she spied a heavy looking lamp on the bedside table. She began to inch closer to the edge of the bed. If she could just reach it before he had a chance to react . . .

The sheet slipped from her fisted hands. She froze. I’m naked. Her gaze flew to the stranger. He’s half naked. A towel circled his hips, hanging low on his waist. Golden hair spiked against a wide forehead, like he’d just gotten out of the shower. His upper body still glistened with beaded water, accentuating every ripple of his well toned abs.

Yanking the bedcovers to her neck, Kate battled a deluge of emotions. Fear, shock, embarrassment – and admiration for the hard bodied man in front of her who seemed to have no problem with the intimate surroundings. What had she done? What had they done?

“Who are you?” she croaked, shrinking as far away from him as possible. “How did I get here?”

“I rescued you.”

It was a simple statement but did little to ease her agitation. “You rescued me?”

The man moved slowly toward the dresser, retrieving his wallet from the top and flipping it open. He held up an official looking badge.

“I’m a Wilderness First Responder. Sort of like an EMT for remote areas. You’re at my cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.”

Mountains? Great! Stuck in some God forsaken outpost with Paul Bunyan.

She swallowed the bile building in her throat. What was she doing in the mountains? Nothing made much sense and she was having a hard time remembering things. “How long have I been here?”

“Two days.”

Two days? Panic tightened her chest. “I want my clothes.”

Silence fell between them like an impenetrable wall. Kate wrapped the blanket around her before attempting to swing her legs to the floor. The movement sent shockwaves of pain racing through her. She groaned and fell back against the pillow.

“I wouldn’t move if I were you.”

She shot him a withering look which didn’t appear to faze him.

“You’re pretty banged up. There’s a laceration on your thigh and a nasty bump to your head. Nothing life threatening but you’re gonna hurt like hell for the next couple of days. That was quite a crash you walked away from.”


She must have wrecked her car. That explained the bruises. But it didn’t clarify how she’d wound up naked in a strange man’s bed. Granted, he had a body that rivaled Mr. December on her Chippendale’s calendar but that was beside the point.

Or was it? He is the most handsome man I’ve ever laid eyes on. Had she slept with him? And if she had, who could blame her? Her gaze followed the dark shadow spilling across his chest to where it disappeared beneath the towel. If he moved an inch in any direction, his wrap would fall off . . . and from the way the terry cloth bulged, it would no doubt reveal an impressive sight.


Spotlight on: RADIANT by Belinda Williams

CONTEST: Tour Wide Giveaway!!!!  Win one of THREE e-copies of Radiant. Enter by clicking the Rafflecopter link below:




Belinda Williams

Romantic suspense/paranormal    

Number of pages: 384

Word Count: 118,000 approx.

Cover Artist: Creative Fusion

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/ot8GyT3c8m0

Amazon        ASIN: B00BP34VRY

RADIANT COVER 600wBook Description:

Do you believe in angels and demons? They believe in you…

Lily Ainsworth, a twenty-eight year old Emergency Department nurse, is used to keeping calm under pressure – until the day she wakes up to find herself a patient in the very ED she works in. A victim of a near fatal hit and run, Lily recalls nothing of the accident. The only witness is the mysterious and charming, Leo.

As she attempts to return to normal life, Lily is plagued by strange events, which has her wondering whether the hit and run was merely a coincidence, or if it was something much more sinister…

Drawn to Leo, Lily confides in him and reveals long unanswered questions about the disappearance of her mother twenty-five years earlier. But his presence appears to come at a price.

Suddenly thrown into a dark world she doesn’t recognise and fighting to stay alive, Lily begins to realise the key to her survival lies in answering the questions surrounding her past.

It’s a journey that will change her life forever, make her question everything she has ever believed in, and test her feelings for Leo in ways she never imagined.

2013 Romance Writers of Australia Emerald award finalist

About The Author:

Belinda Williams is an author based in Sydney, Australia. When she’s not reading romantic suspense or chick-lit, she’s writing it (or else can be found wasting time on social media).

Belinda Williams author image

Belinda is also a marketing communications specialist and copywriter who, after spending more than a decade writing about exciting subjects like financial services, IT and hospitality, allowed an addiction to romantic suspense and chick-lit to get the better of her. Radiant came to life when Belinda decided it was time Sydney featured in some fast-paced, heart-stopping romantic suspense, with a dark twist.

Radiant is her novel début and earned a finalist placing in The Romance Writers of Australia Emerald award 2013.

Belinda is a music lover and her eclectic taste forms the foundation for many of her writing ideas. She also has a healthy appreciation for fast cars

and would not so secretly love a Lamborghini. For now she’ll have to settle with her son’s supercar Hot Wheel’s collection and the occasional drive in her much loved MX-5.





FREE! Obsession by Sharon Buchbinder

Obsession Banner 450 x 169 June free KindleOBSESSION

Sharon Buchbinder

FREE Kindle DOWNLOAD – June 4-8 on Amazon

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Page Count: 288

Word Count: 71392

ISBN : 978-1-61217-867-7


Book Description:Obsession_w7616_Full_Resolution

A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive.

She’s finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney.

But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent’s worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the “Chosen One.”Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help.

Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord’s right-hand man.

Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover–and falling in love with her.

Book Trailer http://youtu.be/f1kujUWoGbk

Sharon BuchbinderAbout the Author:

I’ve been writing fiction since I was in high school and have the rejection slips to prove it.

After I graduated with a BA in Psychology and no job, I realized my dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over my head.

Fast forward a few decades, and I had a career path that would make all but the kindest say, “What were you thinking?” After working in health care delivery for years, I became a researcher, then an academic. I had it all– a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning me to “come on back” to writing fiction. I spent one whole month away doing nothing but writing fiction, the first of many drafts of my first novel.

My genres include horror, mystery, romance and weird blends of the three. For a sampling of my work (fiction and nonfiction), click on “Stories and Links“.

When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh, I can be found herding cats and dogs, golfing, deep sea fishing, or writing.




MOLLY BROWN – The Crime Thriller sequel you’ve been waiting for!

Molly BrownMolly_Brown_front_cover_v2_2_
Mrs Jones – Book 2
B.A. Morton

Genre: Crime/thriller/romance
Publisher: Taylor Street Books

ISBN:13 978-1481818612

Number of pages: 292
Word Count: 81.000

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/Kdi24jF_jzA
Amazon  Amazon UK

Book Description:

A Child to save.

A Killer to catch.

Tommy Connell’s playing with the bad guys again, but this time the rules have changed…and he still hasn’t learned to play nice!

Connell’s keeping the wolf from the door, rooting out bad cops for his buddy Gerry Gesting. He’s handed in his badge, turned his back on all that, but…
When a weird little kid disappears into the night and no one gives a damn including the cops, he reckons that maybe someone should take another look.

The good cops are busy hunting down a serial killer…good.

The bad cops are busy hunting down Connell…not so good.

The serial killer, well he’s looking for victim number twelve, which is… definitely not good.
And little Molly Brown is about to throw an almighty spanner in the works.

Connell’s dabbling in things that he shouldn’t and it’s not the first time…

Molly Brown Tour Button 300 x 225Excerpt from Molly Brown – Chapter 20

Connell finally realizes that he’s dropped the ball and only he can pick it back up:

The banging on the door woke him. Dragged him kicking and screaming from a nightmare where fear was all he could recall. He kicked at tangled sheets, wiped perspiration from his brow and struggled to his feet. It was still dark out, that murky time just before dawn.

The noise was relentless. He’d dropped the latch the night before, done up all the locks and chains just like he’d promised Lizzie. Now, he couldn’t co-ordinate. His senses confused, the noise, the back taste of fear and broken sleep, all interfering in an essentially straightforward task. He slammed a hand at the door in an effort to shut out the din, so he could think. Four bolts, two locks- where was the damn key?

“Okay, Jeez, I’m coming,” he cursed. “Give me a goddamn minute!”

The banging stopped as suddenly as it had begun and in the subsequent eerie silence Connell became aware of a different sound. A muted sob- the whispered wail of someone so desperate, so alone, that he felt his own throat constrict. His nightmare paled as his fear grew exponentially.

“No – Lizzie! I’m coming. I’m here, babe, hang on.”

When he finally wrenched the door open, she was crouched on the floor. Hugging her knees; rocking on the balls of her feet. She looked up through a curtain of wet curls, her cheeks streaked with tears, her eyes rubbed red. He pulled her to her feet and wrapped his arms tight around her slender frame. She trembled beneath his hands.

“What’s happened? It’s the middle of the goddamn night. Where’s Joe?” He leaned away from her, caught her face gently between his hands. “Lizzie, honey, you’re scaring me. You’ve got to tell me what’s wrong?”

She looked at him and he was stung by the accusation in her eyes.

“You promised me, we were safe.”

He felt it then, a churning deep in his stomach. He dropped his hands, felt the room sway and steadied himself against what he knew was to come.

“What’s happened, Lizzie? Just tell me, honey.”

“They came, after you called…,” she sobbed. The words fractured, forced between desperate gasps for air and normality. “They took Joe and Molly…I tried to stop them. I pleaded with them.”  She took a breath, seemed to draw strength from somewhere deep inside.  “They said you’d gone too far and now it was time to pay.”

He stared at her, looked through her, past her, and the moment hung. The gulf between them widening in front of his eyes, as if he stood at the edge of a precipice of his own making and the only way forward was down. He re-focused and saw that her face was bruised, her lip swollen. When she raised her hand to shield the bruises from him he saw angry finger marks on her pale wrist. She had fought to protect his son and a child she barely knew and despite her efforts she had failed. His nightmare returned with sudden clarity, the fear, the uncontrollable anger and despair. He could not lose any of them, this couldn’t be the end.

B A MortonAbout The Author:

Born in the North East of England, B.A.Morton writes crime fiction and historical fantasy all with a smidgeon of romance thrown in. After a twenty year civil service career, she and her family escaped the rat race and relocated to the remote beauty of the Northumberland National Park. She now works part time in the village GP surgery and lives in a cottage built on the remains of a medieval crypt – the inspiration for the medieval fantasy trilogy, “The Wildewood Chronicles”. She keeps chickens and dogs, enjoys country life and can be bribed with chocolate! Her debut novel “Mrs Jones” a fast paced, romantic, crime thriller set in New York, was runner up in the Yeovil Literary Prize 2011 and subsequently published by Taylor Street Publishing. The sequel, “Molly Brown” was released in December 2012.



Review: SONATA – A Romantic Mystery

I love romance and I love a good mystery . . . so, of course I love SONATA by Blair McDowell. It combines suspense, family drama, and an old love – all elements that blend together like oil on water, creating a delightful montage with depth and character that stays the course to the last page. And if you don’t believe me, enter the contest to win one of FIVE PDF copies to be given away during the book tour. Just click the link below to enter.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sayuri McAllister is a world renown cellist who returns home after an extended tour for a well deserved rest. Her new stepmother is less than welcoming, and the two women soon find themselves vying for the patriarch’s affections. Enter the old high school flame, Michael Donovan, who is now a police detective and just as attractive as Sayuri found him ten years ago.

Sayuri is lured into normality as Michael investigates a jewelry heist at her father’s house, entertaining thoughts she and the good detective might achieve a lasting lifestyle as a couple. Her stepmother’s brother, Hugh James, soon appears like a Pied Piper, cloaking Sayuri’s good sense with doubt in an effort to win her affections.

Things take a nasty turn when accidents start happening and no one trusts anyone . . . what else would you expect from a whodunit? Except you should be able to figure out the “who”. Unraveling the “why” takes a bit more time and effort.

SONATA is a delightful journey into the unknown where romance leads the way through a murky set of events. If you like Romantic Suspense, you should enjoy this fast paced read.


Blair McDowell

Genre: Romantic mystery

Publisher: Rebel Ink Press

ISBN:  9781937265670

Number of pages:       130
Word Count:   56,500

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVAhOqelyEE

Purchase Link: http://www.blairmcdowell.com/Sonata.html

Book Description:

A jewel heist…

When renowned concert artist, Sayuri McAllister, returns to the west coast of Canada after an absence of five years, she discovers her family home has been a broken into and jewelry worth two million dollars is missing. Michael Donovan, Sayuri’s old high school flame, now a detective with the Vancouver Police Department, is the officer in charge of the case.

What chance can he have…

Michael takes one look at Sayuri and falls in love with her all over again. But they parted in anger years ago and Sayuri is no longer the innocent girl he once knew. What chance can there be for a Vancouver cop with someone as famous as Sayuri McAllister?  Especially when that cop is investigating her family and friends?
An unexpected marriage…

Then Sayuri’s widowed father, Sean, marries Alyssa James, a woman Sayuri has never even met. The three live uneasily together in the Point Grey mansion until the unexpected arrival of Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, a devastatingly handsome, charming Irishman who immediately begins a campaign to bed and wed the delicious and wealthy Sayuri.

Things take a dangerous turn…

Accidents begin to happen. Or are they accidents?  Nothing is as it seems. Michael distrusts Hugh James and fears that Sayuri’s life may be in danger.

Blair-2012-256x230  About the Author:

I started to write soon after I found my first pencil. But I began to write for publication about 30 years ago — professional books. I wrote six of them, all still in print and still in use. Only lately have I turned to fiction. I’d have done it a lot sooner if I’d had any idea how much fun it was!

I’ve lived in many different places. The US — Certain cities call to me. I love San Francisco and Seattle and the wonderful Oregon Coast. Australia — among the most open welcoming people in the world, and a wide open young country with incredible land and sea scapes, with amazing animal and bird life right out of science fiction. Canada — HOME. The place where I belong.

I travel a lot. I usually spend the month of October in Europe, Greece or Italy, and the winter in a little house I built many years ago on a small non-touristy Caribbean Island. I have worked and studied in many places — Hungary, Australia the US and Canada, and have spoken in most of the States and Provinces as well as Taiwan and various cities in Europe.  I enjoy being surrounded by cultures other than my own. I enjoy my own as well — but variety is indeed the spice of my life.

I keep busy — and I love my life. I love meeting the people who come here to the west coast of Canada and stay in my B&B. I love traveling after the tourist season is over. And I love writing. My interests?? Music, especially opera, reading everything in print, and Writing.  And walking on the beach and swimming. At one point I had hoped to swim in every major sea and ocean. I’ve realized that may not be possible in one lifetime — but trying has been fun!

Website:    http://www.blairmcdowell.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BlairMcDowellWriter

Google+:    https://plus.google.com/u/0/111235595606875813906/posts

Blog:            http://blairmcdowellauthor.blogspot.ca/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807790.Blair_McDowell

Release Day: Breathe by Elena Dillon

Breathe Tour Button 300 x 225Breathe
by Elena Dillon

Genre: Young Adult Romantic Suspense

Word Count: 62,300

Cover Artist: Alexa Dillon



Book Description:

Jasmine’s life wasn’t normal for a 16 year old girl.  It hadn’t been normal since the murder of her older sister, Daisy, two years ago. Her life had been changed forever. The monster that murdered Daisy was never caught.  That was the reason her family decided to move away from their hometown in Southern California, to start over.  Hopefully in a place where the last name Rourke wouldn’t bring on staring or judgment or morbid curiosity.

In Lafayette, Louisiana things are quite a bit different but in a good way.  Good manners, Cajun accents and a whole lot of Southern Hospitality all make her think things are going in the right direction.  On top of that the most gorgeous boy she has ever met is interested in her. Her new friends are better than she could have hoped for even if she is worried about what they might think when they find out who she is.  Life would be perfect if odd things didn’t keep happening.  Creepy phone calls, texts, and flowers in her locker start adding up quickly to something terrifying. Could the Monster have followed them to Lafayette? Was he coming after her this time?  Maybe she was just worrying unnecessarily…or not.


Chapter 1

Most days I can almost forget someone murdered my sister. I try to go through every day like a normal sixteen-year-old. I can eat breakfast, go to school, do homework, but then something will remind me that my family will never be the same. I’ll see my mom looking out the kitchen window—she has this blank look and her clothes are hanging on her. I worry she doesn’t eat enough to stay alive. Or I catch a glimpse of the picture on the coffee table we took three Halloweens ago, when Daisy and I dressed up like crayons, and Caedan and Lily were Skittles. It seems like a long time ago, and then, again, I remember it like it just happened.

We finally moved two weeks ago. Mom decided we couldn’t continue to live in Burbank. Besides the obvious reason that Daisy’s murderer was never caught, someone was always staring at us with that look that said, “Isn’t it so sad what happened to the Rourke family?” But you know in their hearts they are thinking how glad they are it didn’t happen to them. It’s obvious they’re thinking my mom must have done something wrong. She wasn’t a good enough parent, didn’t supervise Daisy enough, didn’t call the police soon enough. They wanted to believe the murder of a teenage girl happened for a reason and they could avoid it, if they just did everything right. The thing is, I think the exact opposite is probably true.

So, three months ago, we had a family meeting. We got out a map of the US and each chose a city and state. Mom and I did research on ours, Caedan picked his based on name only, and Lily did the spin-around-and-wherever-your-finger-lands routine. Thankfully, we pulled mine out of the hat. I don’t know how I would have felt living in Smackover, Arkansas. Caedan thought it was hilarious. He is so twelve.

Tonight, my mom drove us all to Wal-Mart in our new town of Lafayette, Louisiana. School supplies were the one thing we hadn’t shopped for in the last two weeks, and school was starting tomorrow.

“Jas, take your brother and sister to the school supplies, while I go grab stuff for lunches this week, will you, hon?” my mom asked, as she walked away without waiting for my reply.

“I was going to—” I clamped my mouth shut. She didn’t even hear me.

I was stuck with this life now. I love my brother and sister, but I hadn’t always been the oldest and in charge of herding them. These are the times Daisy’s absence hits home the most with me. She had been good with them. I used to slip into the background. Do my own thing. Sneak off to the books and browse, while she did her Junior Mommy act. I’m less patient and easily irritated. I’m angry at Daisy for leaving me here with this mess. I don’t want to be the responsible one. I want my life back. I just inherited her spot and, honestly, I don’t want it. Not that anything is going to change it now.

“I want to get all matching Justin Bieber school supplies,” Lily decided, as we found the school supplies section. The place was crawling with kids and parents getting all their last-minute items. I thought we would be lucky to find filler paper and some pencils, as picked over as it all seemed.

Caedan was pushing the cart around the corners and down the aisles with the precision of a NASCAR driver on Sunday. He knew that one incident, and his driving privileges would be revoked. I was trying to find Justin Bieber anything, as Caedan turned onto the next aisle. Suddenly, I heard a crash and a loud oomph as I rushed around the other side.

“Caedan!” I shouted.

“Jas, I’m sorry I didn’t know he was there. It was an accident,” he pleaded.

“So sorry,” I mumbled to the man pushing the other cart. He shot me a look and moved past us. “That’s it! I’m driving.” But when I looked down at Lily, who had been walking next to Caedan, her eyes were big and full of tears.

“My Justin shirt!” she cried out. I looked down, and in the collision her purple slushy had spilled all over her shirt.

“Don’t be such a baby! It is just a shirt,” Caedan told her with all the sensitivity of a pre-teenage boy.

“Shut up, Caedan. I hate you.” Lily shoved him in the chest.

“Purple is not your color, Lils.” He was looking at his twin with pure disgust.

People next to us were starting to stare. I could feel the blood rushing to my face. Why did anyone have children anyway? They were cretins. By this time Lily was starting to melt down.

“Okay, okay, we are going to fix it,” I hurriedly told her. Lily had always been emotional, but since Daisy’s murder she was hypersensitive to anything upsetting her world, and Justin Bieber was her world.

Into this chaos, my mother arrived. In the past, she could handle these situations quietly and easily. The twins fighting, or Daisy and I arguing over the mess in our room, would not even get us a raised voice. She was an RN for geriatric patients, and she was used to calming situations and peacemaking. Since Daisy’s death, even simple sibling arguments seemed overwhelming for her.

“What is going on?” she said between clenched teeth. Lily chose this moment to burst into full tears, while Caedan started protesting about it not being his fault and how mean I was not to let him drive. “I guess it’s too much to ask for you to get one thing done for me without any uproar,” my mother remarked to me sarcastically. “Jasmine . . .” The use of my full name was never a good sign. “Go to the car and get your sister her sweatshirt, while I bring her to the bathroom to get her cleaned up.” She looked at my brother with narrowed eyes, “You will stand outside the ladies room door with the cart, quietly, while I handle the mess you made. And I don’t want to hear another word from you while we are in this store. Are we clear?”

I made a face at Caedan behind my mother’s back before I whipped around and stomped off to the car. Why was his obnoxious behavior my fault again? Whatever. Being the oldest really was the worst.

As I reached the electronic sliding doors to the outside, I slowed down and caught my breath. It had gotten dark since we had been in the store. After Daisy’s murder I had found myself starting to get anxious in particular situations. Outside in the dark could be a problem, sometimes escalating to panic attacks. I tried to keep these little incidents from my mom. She was definitely starting to pay more attention these days.

I scanned the parking lot quickly to find the car. My breath started to come in short gasps. The car was halfway down an aisle, three rows over . . . and not under a streetlight. Damn! I grabbed my keys out of my purse and stepped into the lot. I would just hurry. I was being ridiculous. This was Lafayette, not Los Angeles. I had nothing to worry about here—lots of miles between us and him.

When I was three feet from our car, “Hey there,” a male voice said from behind me. I jumped and squealed at the same time. I turned around fast with my pepper spray out. Thankfully, I noticed, before I sprayed, that the nozzle was pointed at me.

“Hey, hey, sorry. I just, um . . . saw you drop something . . . um . . . here.” A tall brown-haired boy around my age was holding my mother’s list of school supplies. He kept moving toward me. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

I kept backing up until my rear end hit the end of our car. “Okay. I, uh . . .” I said weakly. All of a sudden there was a loud buzzing in my ears, and the world started to tilt.

“Whoa.” I heard as everything went black.

I could hear voices around me as I started to wake up.

“Hey, Sleeping Beauty. No time for a nap,” a deep, soothing voice said quietly in my ear. “Trenton, what did you do to her? She fainted dead away.”

I became aware that I wasn’t on the ground, like when I normally wake up from a faint. Since this had happened more than a few times in my teenage life, I found that odd. Due to some hormonal upheaval or whatever, since I hit puberty, fainting had become a fairly common part of my life. But right now, I felt warm, surrounded by the most amazing smell. I was not on the ground with a goose egg on my head as usual. I opened my eyes and saw the most handsome face I’d ever seen. I thought I must still be passed out and was dreaming.

“I was just trying to give her back the paper she dropped, and she acted like I was gonna attack her or somethin’. I don’t know why she fainted. I didn’t touch her—I swear. Why would that happen? I can’t believe you caught her. That was awesome! Is she okay? Do you think there is something wrong with her?” The grating voice kept on until . . .

“Trenton, shut up,” the dream said, still looking into my eyes. I tried to shake my head to wake up and realized I was cradled against his chest like he had swept me up in his arms.

Not a dream then. Crap. I became instantly mortified. “I, uh . . . Can you put me down? Please? I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to faint.” Duh.

“Well, I guess, if you really want me to,” Dream Guy said as he lowered my feet to the ground.

I couldn’t believe he had been holding me while I was passed out. It’s not like I’m so heavy. I’m actually kind of skinny, but I’m five foot nine, and he was holding me in the air like I weighed less than a bag of groceries. Time to make a graceful exit. Or any kind of exit. I probably wouldn’t be able to accomplish graceful. Who was I kidding?

“Do you normally mean to faint?” he asked.

“Um, no. Thanks for catching me. I really have to go,” I babbled, while I searched for my keys.

“Here,” he said, as he carefully handed me the keys.

“Thanks,” I said, as I opened the car and grabbed Lily’s sweatshirt.

“Maybe you should—” he started to say, but I interrupted.

“I’m fine, really. Thanks again.” I shut and locked the door. They were both standing there looking at me like I was nuts. Well, I guess they weren’t far off. This had to be the most ridiculous moment of my life. My face felt like it was burning. I meet the cutest guy ever and what do I do? Faint. Like an idiot. I shouldn’t be shocked.

I gave them a little wave as I ran/walked back to the store. I concentrated on getting inside without looking back. If this day was any indication as to how my life in Lafayette was going to go, I should have closed my eyes and pointed.

About The Author:

Professional Picture MKElena lives and writes in a suburb North of Los Angeles.  She has never lived anywhere besides California which is probably a good thing since she hates being cold and is terrified to drive in the snow. She loves being a wife and a mother to her three kids and three dogs, although really the bulldog is the fourth child who has never matured beyond the toddler stage.

A self-proclaimed nerd, she has been writing since she was a child. She has only recently, however, come out of the closet about this to her family and friends.  They now understand better, but not completely, why she talks about characters in stories as if they are real people.