Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

glitter graphics

This is my favorite time of year. So many of the TV channels are running monster movies--the old ones with Lon Chaney, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff...

The only thing I haven't seen playing are any of the Christopher Lee Dracula movies. Bummer. I love those--even in the one where he doesn't have one single speaking line, he is still really creepy scary! Nobody did Dracula like Chris Lee!

Frank Langella played a very sexy Dracula.

And Gerard Butler in Dracula 2000...

We get to see his naked bum (not here!). Need I say more? LOL

But I'll admit none of these are my favorite vampire movies. My favorite is Dracula: Dead and Loving It with Leslie Nielson. *G*

Happy Halloween!

Be sure you check out the Amber Heat blog today--it's the last installment of our Halloween story, contributed by me!

"From ghoulies to ghosties and long-leggety beasties, and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!" ~Old Scottish Saying

Monday, October 30, 2006


Well, with all the furor over the last couple of days regarding the newly formed International Independent Literary Agents Association, it appears they've closed down their brand new website. (At one point yesterday, they (and the more I read I believe the site was built by Barbara Bauer, who is in the "Twenty Worst Agents" list at Writer Beware) replaced the website pages with a ranting message and a "kiss my ass"--literally, complete with a picture. Talk about poor grace and extreme unprofessionalism. Which should make anyone think more than twice about using the sodding bastards. Okay, sorry about the foul language, but this kind of thing just pisses me off. It's unethical, immoral, and just downright evil. When I went back later, there was only a "I'm currently working on the site... Thanks for visiting" message. Guess she rethought the whole "kiss my ass" thing.)

The sad thing is, they'll be back. Under some other name, some other guise. Because they make money exploiting people's dreams. So they'll be back. That's what scam artists do. Someone else likened them to cockroaches--smoosh one with your shoe, and another one just scurries around, taking its place.

They make money because there are a lot of people out there who are desperate for their manuscripts to be published. Some of those people (not all, by any means) don't want to take the time or spend the money or effort it takes to hone their craft and do the research. If they did, and if they have the talent (which I believe is one of those "you either have it or you don't" kind of things), they'd be able to secure a reputable agent without paying any fees to the agent.

In case you don't understand the basic message of all this hubbub: Money flows to the author from the agent, not the other way around. A reputable agent will NEVER charge money upfront to his/her authors.


So... writer beware. If you're at a point where you're looking for an editor, be sure to check Preditors & Editors first. And do some research on the internet. If the agency you're looking at charges upfront fees, run away. If they don't list their current authors/sales on their website, run away. If they change their website and tell you to kiss their ass... RUN AWAY VERY FAST!

Be smart. Do your homework. And be ready to run.

~ * ~

Part 5 of our Halloween story is running today at the Amber Heat blog. All leading up to Part 6--my contribution and the end of the story--tomorrow!

"A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives." ~Albert Schweitzer

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Scam In Town--IILAA

Or, rather, it's an old scam in new clothing.

The Writer Beware website created a list of the "Twenty Worst Literary Agencies", which has been circulating among writers for months now in the hopes of preventing newbie writers from being victimized by predatory scam artists.

Well, with all of the emails and blog posts, whenever someone enters one of those twenty agency names into a search engine, a warning pops up. And, in true scam artist fashion, some of those so-called agents have misdirected people once again.

How? you ask.

They've established a new website: The International Independent Literary Agents Association (IILAA). Their website is www.iilaa.com.

One of IILAA's web pages is "Top Ten Literary Agents". Of the nine agents listed, six of them are on the "Twenty Worst Literary Agencies." Hmph.

Oh, and their website also includes a statement that a writer should expect to pay their agent a retainer fee upfront, in the same way one expects to pay an attorney's retainer fee. This is a load of bull hockey.

Legitimate agents make their money from a percentage (usually 15%) of the royalties and advances on deals they've arranged for their clients. A legitimate agent does not charge upfront fees of any kind.

Let me say that again. A LEGITIMATE AGENT DOES NOT CHARGE UPFRONT FEES OF ANY KIND. Anyone who says otherwise is only trying to scam you.

We need to protect each other. Spread the word about the International Independent Literary Agents Association so that the search engine results will show it as a scam website every time someone searches the name.

(Update 1:25 p.m. MST: Here's the link to Victoria Strauss's post about the International Independent Literary Agents Association: http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2006/10/victoria-strauss-iilaa-or-what-you-do.html

And also, check out Miss Snark's blog on the same subject.)

~ * ~

Check out Part 4 of the Halloween story at the Amber Heat blog.

"Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home; I'm tired." ~Mae West

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Definition Of "I'm Sorry"

Okay, all together now...

Awwwwwwwww. Isn't he cute?


~ * ~

Part 3 of our Halloween story is posted today at the Amber Heat blog. Please go on over an enjoy it!

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too." ~Samuel Butler

Friday, October 27, 2006

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Well, I'm doing my bit for breast cancer awareness. Today's the day I get to go put my feet up in stirrups and say "Ahhh". So to speak. I'll get my scrip for a mammography and in a couple of weeks I'll get to have my boobs smooshed by a machine.

And for those of you who say it doesn't hurt... Well, you're just in denial. It hurts. Some times worse than at other times, but it always hurts.

If you don't have these done... suck it up, girlfriend. Deal with the pain and have it done. It's better than having breast cancer go undiagnosed.

Take care of yourself. No one else will. :)

~ * ~

The second installment of The Gathering, a collaborative Halloween blog story, is up at the Amber Heat blog. Check it out.

~ * ~

It's my author day at the NCP blog, and I'm talking about ghosts. Come over and say hi, and share your ghost stories.

"My husband said, "Show me your boobs," and I had to pull up my skirt..." ~Dolly Parton

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Come Fly With Me...

Look at that face... those shoulders... that chest... those arms... those abs... the obliques...



I just don't have the words.

~ * ~

Beginning today and ending on October 31st, we have an ongoing Halloween story over at the Amber Heat blog. Check it out!

"A hard man is good to find." ~Mae West

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Name That Movie

Emma Sinclair had a post the other day where she shared some of her favorite lines from movies and asked that people guess the movies. I'm such a copycat, but it seemed like a fun idea, so here goes...

A. Pick 16 of your favorite movies.
B. Then pick one of your favorite quotes from each movie.
C. Post the quotes in your journal.
D. Have those on your friends list try to guess what the movie is. If you google, you suck.
E. Strike out the quote once it has been correctly identified and place the guesser’s username directly after the quote.

1. This has got to be a nine-point-oh on my weird-shit-o-meter. Men in Black ~ Jenna
2. And what do they call you? Wheels? X-Men 1 ~ Sam
3. I saw what I saw when I saw it. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein ~ Sam
4. You broke the ship. You broke the bloody ship! Galaxy Quest ~ Jennifer Y.
5. Listen! Do you smell something? Ghostbusters ~ Emma
6. Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops. Arsenic and Old Lace ~ Jennifer Y.
7. She's a ho! My dad's been captured by a ho! Sleepless in Seattle ~ Sam
8. Of course you know him. All you bastards know each other. French Kiss ~ Jenna
9. Well, double dumbass to you. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ~ Sam
10. You are a boil on the butt of humanity. Steel Magnolias ~ Jennifer Y.
11. This town needs an enema! Batman ~ Sam
12. Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges! Blazing Saddles ~ Sam
13. Women need to have a reason for having sex; men just need a place. City Slickers ~ Jennifer Y.
14. He chose...poorly. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ~ Sam
15. You don't like it? You can kiss my furry little butt. Men in Black ~ Jenna
16. I have a dragon here, and I'm not afraid to use it. Shrek ~ Jenna

Well? Name the movie...

"Good women are no fun... The only good woman I can recall in history was Betsy Ross. And all she ever made was a flag." ~Mae West

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Funny Way To Start A Monday

A cabbie picks up a nun. She gets into the cab and notices that the very handsome cab driver won't stop staring at her. She asks him why he is staring.

He replies, "I have a question to ask you, but I don't want to offend you."

She answers, "My son, you cannot offend me. When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I'm sure there's nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive."

"Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me."

She responds, "Well, let's see what we can do about that: #1, you have to be single and #2, you must be Catholic."

The cab driver is very excited and says, "Yes, I'm single and Catholic!"

"OK," the nun says. "Pull into the next alley."

The nun fulfills his fantasy with a kiss that would make a hooker blush. But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

"My dear child," says the nun, "why are you crying?"

"Forgive me, but I've sinned. I lied and I must confess--I'm married and I'm Jewish."

The nun says, "That's OK. My name is Dave and I'm going to a Halloween party."

"One and one is two, and two and two is four, and five will get you ten if you know how to work it." ~Mae West

Sunday, October 22, 2006

New Release: Obsidian's Flame

Available now at Amber Heat:

Samantha Burton is trying to obtain proof that the mining process of a rare mineral is causing sterility among the Enhanced—humans exiled from Earth after being genetically mutated by secret government procedures. She, herself, is one of the Enhanced—she is partially empathic and can shoot fire from her hands.

She runs into trouble, however, in the form of Marcus "Trey" Treyva—Obsidian, the captain of the Elite Security team in the mining town of Nowhere. His enhancement, the ability to form an impenetrable body armor, makes him immune to her flames.

But when Trey is betrayed by someone close to him, Samantha may be his only hope of survival. Will Obsidian's Flame save him, or will he be devoured by her fire?

Read an excerpt or buy.

"When a girl goes bad--men go right after her." ~Mae West

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Release: Phoenix Rising I

Available now at New Concepts Publishing:

The Wolf of Cnoc Meadha, part of the Phoenix Rising I Anthology - Connor mac Finnbheara, the son of Finnbheara, the powerful king of the Daoine Sidhe, is sent on an errand by his mother to locate MacKenzie McCallum. The queen is concerned about Mackey--the young woman had been a favorite at the king's court many, many years before. A favorite wolfhound, that is. The queen had discovered the king in yet another dalliance with a flighty young fae woman, and in retaliation she turned his favorite hound into a woman. In anger, the king banished Mackey to live in the human realm, never to return to the land of the Fae.

The queen thinks to ease two burdened souls at once: Connor will find Mackey and convince her she's better off as a woman, and Mackey will soothe the prince's troubled heart.

There's just one problem. Centuries before, Connor had been cursed with lycanthropy and, under the full moon, will attack anything Fae. Is Mackey human enough to be safe from harm?

Read an excerpt or buy.

~ * ~

I'm SExing today. Come over and say hi!

"Too many girls follow the line of least resistance--but a good line is hard to resist." ~Mae West

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hidden Treasure...

Ooh, yeah, baby. Let me get a look at what's underneath the zipper...

Go on. I dare you.

Make my day.

"An ounce of performance is worth a pound of promises." ~Mae West

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Review For Praetorians

The Praetorians: Discovery by Sherrill Quinn
From Cerise at Joyfully Reviewed:

"The Praetorians: Discovery is a fast paced adventure. Cat is hilarious; she shows such indignation at being "manhandled" while Max gets her to safety. Max is a true alpha, determined to keep his woman safe and take care of her, although he is not quite sure he deserves her. I really feel that this is a wonderful introduction to the world of the Praetorians. I can’t wait for the next book to see what happens with Max, Cat, and the rest of characters. Ms. Quinn has a captivating cast of characters, with the wonderful suspense of The Foundation and their initiatives, making this a definite page-turner."

The Praetorians: Discovery--a top 5 best seller at Fictionwise.com, available also at New Concepts Publishing.

"A man's only as old as the woman he feels." ~Groucho Marx

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's A Beautiful Time Of Year

Our temperatures have finally gotten back to a level where I can work outside. I have a new bistro patio set that I haven't used yet because the temps have just been too high. Yesterday I finally got to try it out. Took my laptop and a big glass of iced tea outside, and went to town on my current wip.

It was grand. Well, once the landscapers or whoever they were stopped running their loud whatevers, it was grand. When I look up I can see part of the mountain range--it'll be even more visible in another month or so once the mesquite trees lose more of their little leaves. The sun was warm on my back, the birds chirped, the sky was a bright blue without a cloud in sight...


The only complaint I really have is those doggone bugs. Some kind of kamikaze gnat-type creatures who kept landing on my laptop. Thankfully none of them went into my tea. Well, not that I know of anyway. I don't suppose it'll hurt me if I ended up rinking some of them. They're pretty little... I did check every time I took a sip, so I think I'm gnat-free. LOL

The rest of the week I have to go to my day job about 5 hours a day--the boss is off and so I'm covering for her. Then next week I'm back to my normal 2 days a week.

Have a great day today, everyone!

"Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." ~Dorothy Parker

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Cover!

I have the cover for one of my two Christmas stories with Whiskey Creek Press Torrid! And it's gorgeous!

Woo-eeee! Talk about knowing a book by its cover...

"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, didn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?" ~Dr. Seuss

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I've Been Tagged

By naughty Emma Sinclair. I've never been tagged before and, before anyone else gets any ideas, I don't plan on always playing when I do get tagged. So tag at your own risk.

However, Emma and I will be sharing (at least) two anthologies together (Fall Fires is available now at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid, and the other one tentatively titled Edge of Night will be coming from Liquid Silver Books early next year) and I thought it'd be fun to play along this time. :)

1) One book that changed your life: Secrets Volume 3. It was the first erotic romance book I ever bought (and read, of course). It had a fantastic story by Angela Knight in it, and I was hooked on this hot sub-genre.

2) One book that you'd read more than once: Knight of a Trillion Stars by Dara Joy. I'm just in love with the hero, what can I say? I also have to add the JR Ward series. Her heroes are all very grrrrrrr. Oh, and Fred Saberhagen's Dracula series (The Dracula Tape, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, An Old Friend of the Family, and A Sharpness On the Neck). There are a few in the series I've missed--Dominion, A Matter of Taste, and A Question of Time.

3) One book you'd want on a deserted island: How to Build a Boat Using Nothing But Coconuts and Palm Fronds. Unless, of course, I had a really cute hunk stranded with me. Then maybe I'd like the Kama Sutra...

4) One book that made you laugh: Oy. I haven't read any funny books recently. I'm either reading books on the craft of writing, or I'm reading romances (erotic or otherwise). But I love all things Dilbert, if that counts.

5) One book that made you cry: Heck, I cry at a mushy commercial, so it doesn't take much. But, seriously, one of the stories in the Summer Sizzlers Anthology from Whiskey Creek made me cry: Sizzling Summer by my friend Jenna Howard.

6) One book you wish you'd written: Dark Lover by JR Ward. Cuz then I'd have a huge hit series on my hands with grrrrrr vampire heroes, and my name would be on the NYT's best seller list! Color me j-e-a-l-o-u-s!

7) One book you wish had never been written: Hmm. I can't say I wish any particular book had never been written. There are certainly books that I can't get through, the most recent one being The Historian. I managed to get through the first three chapters and kept nodding off but, dayum, with all the money I spent on the danged thing (I paid full price), I was determined to finish all 600+ pages. I made it through Chapter 14 and finally said the heck with it. I donated it to my local RWA chapter and it was used as a raffle item for a fundraiser.

8) One book you're currently reading: Lover Awakened by JR Ward. Next on my list is Seduced by Magic by Cheyenne McCray.

Well. Did anyone learn anything new about me? LOL

And I tag... no one.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

"A girl's best friend is her mutter." ~Dorothy Parker

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I Sold To Ellora's Cave!

Squeee!!!!! My sci-fi menage story (originally titled Triad: Always Faithful) will be in one of the Cavemen Anthologies in 2007! I have to come up with a different title, since a couple of EC's talented authors have already used Triad and Always Faithful. *grumble*

But, hey! That's all right. I can come up with something, I'm sure. As soon as I do, I'll update the info on my website--cuz this is another one I get to move from "Works in Progress" to "Coming Soon!" Yay!!

Good news on another front, I received a request for a partial from one of the agents I queried. So keep your fingers crossed for me on that one, too. (Of course, on the heels of that request came a rejection from another... Just how it goes in this biz, I guess.)

And more great news...

It's Saturday!

"I dream of a rural life--raising cheques." ~Dorothy Parker

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday The 13th

Why is it that Friday the 13th in the month of October seems to have an extra bang? I guess it's because October is the month of Halloween, when all kinds of things go bump in the night.

I've blogged before about Friday the 13th but, if you'll humor me, let's talk about it again. From what I can tell, one of the explanations for associating Friday the 13th with bad luck here in the West started back in 1307 when the final Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques Demolay, was arrested (and later tortured and executed). From there it was a short time until the Knights Templar were no more. And so Friday the 13th has become unlucky.

I have never particularly found it to be so. But, then, I'm not a particularly superstitious person.

Well, I do knock on wood when I talk about something that has never happened to me. And I say "Bread and Butter" when a friend and I are together and walk on opposite sides of a pole. But, really, it's more of a habit than out of any real belief.

What about you? What superstitions do you hold, or people you know have?

"Doomed... You're all doomed." ~Crazy Ralph, Friday the 13th (the movie)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cowboy Up!

Just in case anyone's going through cowboy withdrawal...


"I've always followed my father's advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to..." ~John Wayne

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Takeout, Anyone?

I'm thinking that Egg Foo Young's lookin' pretty good...

"I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women have affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex." ~Erma Bombeck

Monday, October 09, 2006

What's better than one hunk in blue jeans?

TWO hunks in blue jeans, of course!

What's better than two hunks in blue jeans?

3 cowboys, hands-down!

Happy Monday, everyone!

"Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway." ~John Wayne

Sunday, October 08, 2006


My friend Sara took this picture of one of the funniest things you'll see--in Bisbee or anywhere else. I tell you, these have got to be the most long-suffering dog and cat I've ever seen...

And the mouse, too. I have no idea how he gets these animals to do this, but he does. The cat climbs up on top of the dog, then the guy puts the little white mouse on top of the cat. The mouse stays still, the cat stays still, the dog stays still, for however long it takes for the tourist to take the picture.

Isn't that just too cute?!?

Now, just what kind of threesome did you think I meant? For shame...

"The transatlantic crossing was so rough the only thing I could keep on my stomach was the first mate." ~Dorothy Parker

Saturday, October 07, 2006

It's An Amber Heat Day

I'm over at the Amber Heat blog, talking about why women live longer than men--complete with pictures. Come on over and say hi!

But, before you do, here's a little somethin' somethin' for you:

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy." ~Dorothy Parker

Friday, October 06, 2006

Day Trip To Bisbee

I love history, especially of the Old West. One of my favorite shows is Old West Tech, on the History channel. Whenever I get a chance to head out to a town ripe with historical stuff, I'm so there.

Yesterday, the local gals in my critique group and I drove down to Bisbee, an old mining town turned tourist destination at an elevation of 5,300 feet, which means it's usually about 10 degrees cooler than Tucson, and as much as 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix. When the temps in those northern/lower elevation cities is over 100 degrees, every degree cooler counts!

We had a great time and I have pictures to show you--I think these'll be especially neat for those of you who haven't experienced a town like this.

First things first, though. One of the things my critique groups does really well is eat. LOL We stopped at a refurbished 50's diner for lunch:

Then we went on into the heart of Bisbee. The town was established after a civilian scout with the calvary in 1877 spotted mineral deposits that suggested to him the presence of lead, copper and possibly silver. Over the next several years, other prospectors came and filed claims. Many of the main buildings that currently stand were built in the early 1900s after a fire destroyed many of the earlier wooden structures. Most of the residential houses are original to the area.

A not uncommon sight: in between two building are steps leading up to a house (you pretty much have to climb steps to get to any of the houses):

The library (seen on the left in the picture below) was built in 1902 or thereabouts:

Here are some of the shops from one of the streets:

And the outside of the Copper Queen Hotel:

And here's a couple of pictures of the old mining houses (most of which are being lived in today), built on the sides of the hills. In this first pic, you can see a portion of the Copper Queen in the lower left corner (see the green-trimmed windows?):

And here's a more panoramic view:

The mine company executives lived farther away from the mine in what's now known as the Warren section of Bisbee. The picture below is of the mine president's house:

Hmm. Big difference between the mining president's house and the miner's houses, wouldn't you agree? Guess not much has changed in 100 years...

Now, if you'll pan back up and look at the sky in the first two pictures... then take a look at this:

This is the weather we drove home in. At least I got a rainbow. You can't tell from this picture, but it was a double rainbow--absolutely beautiful.

I love day trips in Arizona! *VBG*

"A little bad taste is like a dash of paprika." ~Dorothy Parker

Thursday, October 05, 2006

So Tempting...

Ooh, just lift that sheet a bit higher. Or move it a bit lower. Either one. I'm not picky.

I mean, beggars can't be choosers, right?

"Ducking for apples--change one letter and it's the story of my life." ~Dorothy Parker

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dead Like Me

Have y'all watched this show? (I catch it on the Sci-Fi Channel on Tuesday nights.) It's such a clever premise--a young woman (18 years old) is killed but, instead of going to Heaven or Hell or wherever, she is chosen to become a Grim Reaper. But she has to hold down a job to support herself--and learn life lessons she didn't before she died--while she's going around collecting souls of those about to die.

And she gets her assignments on little yellow sticky notes from her "boss", played by Mandy Patinkin. There are three other Reapers she hangs out with.

The opening credits show a bunch of Reaper-robed, er, Reapers, going about daily business-playing basketball (while holding their scythes in one hand), doing laundry at the laundromat, making copies at the office, etc.

Sometimes the show is funny, sometimes it's very poignant and makes me cry. (Though... I can cry at a commercial, so that may not be the best barometer...)

If you haven't seen it, you should tune in.

"All I need is room to lay a hat and a few friends." ~Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Man And His Horse

Just in case you--like me--were having cowboy withdrawal...

Erm, I mean, you missed seeing pictures of yummy cowboys. *G*

"I wish I could drink like a lady; I can take one or two at the most. Three and I'm under the table; Four and I'm under the host." ~Dorothy Parker

Monday, October 02, 2006

My Author Day At Love Romances

I'm over at Love Romances Cafe today, sharing excerpts and being silly, as usual. I'm also having a contest there, so come on over. I'll be there from 9-9 EST, so there's plenty of time for you to come play with me!

~ * ~

On this second day of a new month, I'm thrilled to give y'all a progress report:

  • The Praetorians: Discovery is still #2 in the erotica category over at Fictionwise.
  • The Claiming has been in the top 5 best sellers at Amber Heat for 4 straight months. AND it was the #3 best seller for the second quarter of the year, and #2 for this last quarter!
  • Dragon's Bane has been in the top 10 best sellers at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid for the third month in a row, and now sits at #3.


~ * ~

It's also my day to blog over at Torrid Temptations--I've got an excerpt from Pumpkin Moon, my story in the Fall Fires Anthology. Come over and say hi!

"I require only three things of a man. He must be handsome, ruthless and stupid." ~Dorothy Parker

(Now, may I just say here... Stupid will wear on my last nerve a lot faster than ugly will.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sweet Treats - Excerpt

Coming December 1st at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid - Sweet Treats, Part of the Christmas Candy anthology:

Jenna Sweet owns a coffee shop across the street from Gabriel Horne's trail outfitter store. She doesn't think the ruggedly handsome man had been serious in his flirtations with her, but when an opportunity presents itself to find out, she doesn't pass it up. And the treats Gabe gives her are sweet, indeed.

~ * ~

“All I want for Christmas is a big, sexy man. A big, sexy man. Oh, a big, sexy man.”

“Would. You. Shut. Up.” Even though she secretly wished the same thing, Jenna Sweet glared at her friend and business partner, Taylor Evans, as the other woman sang the distorted Christmas tune off-key. Taylor was beautiful with a lush, gorgeous body, but she couldn’t sing worth spit.

And the way Taylor constantly teased her about Gabriel Horne… well, she was an off-key pain in the ass.

“All I want for Christmas is a big, sexy maaaaaaaan…” Taylor grinned and winked as the door to the coffee shop opened and the big, sexy man in question walked in. Just as he reached the counter, Taylor finished in a sultry tone, “So I can have a very merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas to you, too, Taylor.” Gabriel Horne rested one fist on the glass-topped counter. Jenna stared at that hand for a couple of seconds, heart thudding against her ribs like a mariachi band gone wild. Long, square-tipped fingers led to a broad hand with a smattering of dark hair over the back.

Her gaze traveled up his jacketed arm, over his wide shoulder and turtleneck-covered throat, up to lapis lazuli eyes made darker by the rich royal blue of his shirt. He ducked his head just a bit to put their faces more on eye level. “Merry Christmas, Jennasweet,” he murmured, running her name together as he usually did. “You look… edible this morning.”

His deep voice was rough with the lingering effects of the cold she knew he was trying to get over. Black hair fell over his brow and he impatiently brushed it away from his eyes. The thin scar on his left cheek and the day-old beard darkening his jaw gave him a dangerous, bad-boy look impossible to ignore, and it was getting harder and harder to resist him.

Even though she wore a thin long-sleeved blouse, Jenna felt overheated, like she had too many clothes on. She tried to ignore the hot lust turning her core liquid. Just pour the man’s coffee, Jenna, and he’ll go away. You can get back to your staid, boring, safe life.

“Merry Christmas, Gabe.” Ignoring his comment about her edibility, she poured a cup of hot espresso, then added cocoa, milk, a dash of vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon. She topped it off with whipped cream and handed it to him. Glancing out the window, she saw two extended cab pickup trucks parked in front of his trail outfitter store across the street. With Gabe wearing his heavy sheepskin coat, she figured he was readying to go out again. “You’re going out with a group?”

His fingers deliberately brushed hers as he took the cup. Her breath hitched. When he handed her a ten dollar bill, she practically snatched it from his hand, her fingers trembling. God, what was wrong with her? He came into Sweet Treats every morning for his mocha latte and a banana-nut muffin. She should be used to his flirting by now.

But every morning she worked herself up into a tizzy until he came, acted like a blushing schoolgirl while he was here, then kicked herself seven ways ’til Sunday once he’d gone. Even when she’d finally agreed to go to dinner with him—exactly twice—she’d been nervous and quiet.

She just never really thought a man like him, former special ops macho Marine and all that went with it—tall, gorgeous and world-wise—would be serious about a shy little bookworm like her. She didn’t understand what kept him coming back for more of… nothing. Trying to concentrate on getting his change, she finally slapped the bills and coins down a little too hard on the counter.

“Got a group of businessmen down from Denver,” he said, his drawl sending shivers through her as it always did. “They want to go up on the mountain and spend a weekend at the cabin without their wives before, as they put it, the craziness of Christmas begins.”

Unlike Jenna, who’d been born in the North and had transplanted herself in Colorado to run the coffee shop after her grandfather passed away, Gabe was born and raised in Langton, with the Rocky Mountains as his playground. “I could use some company,” he went on. “I don’t want to sit around watching a bunch of yahoos playing poker. Why don’t you come along?”

He asked her that all the time, in the same dark tones with the same hot, intense look in his eyes. As if he really meant that he wanted to spend time with her, when she knew he was flirting. Period. He couldn’t be serious.

Could he?

She shook her head. “Thanks, but—”

“I have to work,” he finished the excuse she gave each time she refused his offer. Leaning over the counter, he slid one hand behind her head, pulling her forward until their faces were only inches apart. “One day, Jennasweet, I’m gonna change your mind.” His mouth came down gently on hers, coaxing her lips apart. His tongue slipped between her lips to slide along hers, stealing her breath.

Copyright ©2006 Sherrill Quinn. All Rights Reserved.