Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Conversations: #Interview with #AAMBookclub #author Ra'Mone Marquis

Please welcome AAMBookclub Author Ra'Mone Marquis to Conversations today. Ra'Mone is here to talk about his new release, District 69: The Crimson Edition. So, check out the cover and blurb, and get to know Ra'Mone by checking out his interview too!

Lisa ~
_____________________________________________

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IZSVM56/?tag=crlaofsu-20 
District 69: The Crimson Edition

District 69: The Crimson Edition is an urban erotica experience that follows 3 diverse characters.











Interview with Ra'Mone Marquis 

What 5 words would you use to describe yourself and why?
  1. Determined – with various situations that I was born into and raised in; statistically I should not have acquired half of what I have. I was determined and still am to make something out of myself and to break certain cycles that are in my surroundings.
  2. Persistent – with all of the obstacles I have endured and still deal with I refuse to let it define or deter me.
  3. Chameleon – I’ve always been able to blend into any situation and environment. A wide variety of people have always been able to relate and connect with me; everyone from a local dope boy to the CEOs of corporate America.
  4. Private – I am a very private person. My business is my business and I do not feel it is anyone else’s business. People know about me what I choose for them to know. This has allowed me to protect myself. However, on the flip side this is a pro for those who are close to me, because I’m not just private with my business but theirs as well.
  5. Progression – I have come a long way from the person I was 20 years ago and even the person I was 7 years ago. I love me, I’m proud of me. I’m stronger, wiser, and my zero tolerance for various things has increased. Each day I strive to have progression internally and externally. This helps strengthen the foundation for my success.
What makes District 69: The Crimson Edition stand apart from all the other books of its genre?

When I read a book, you feel that you’re doing just that. However, when you read my book you feel as if you’re chilling, kicking back, and having a one on one conversation with me or one of your friends. This type of presentation allows the readers to relate more to the stories I tell. Through the descriptiveness I provide, they are more in the moment while they are reading. What really hooks the readers and takes them to another level is the fact that my stories are real life experiences. Nothing excites people more than juicy real life stories; whether it’s a tv movie, reality tv, a box office film, or even a novel. All of these components together provide my readers with a literary experience. Although many books are good most do not do that.


Were there any aspects of yourself that you used to enhance the stories written?

My personality fueled the entire book. My personality has always entertained and/or gravitated people towards me. To make the book more entertaining I used my personality with regards to the word usage and how I described things and situations. This made the stories easy to tell because it allowed me to pretend that I was chilling with my close friends having a good ole chill chat and chew.

In 2011 you created and since have been growing your own non-profit, True T.A.L.E.N.T.S. Foundation, Inc., which deals with the mentoring and enrichment of youth 13-18 years of age. The effectiveness of the organization has been showcased through winning awards and being published in newspapers. Do you feel that by being an erotica author that you have tainted your image and respect as a community leader?

I do not feel that I have tainted any image or reputation. My effectiveness and success with mentoring youth is heavy due to my transparency. A huge majority of the youth today do not have a positive outlet where they can express their thoughts and feelings without being judged. I came from the same background as almost all of the youth that I mentor. I have no criminal record, I have college degrees, and I’m an independent adult consistently accomplishing things. I provide them with not just a positive role model but someone they can trust and relate to. I provide them with positive insight and enrichment to aid them in reaching their full potential.




Ra’Mone Marquis is a native of the state of Florida. He received his Bachelors degree from Florida International University where he became a proud 2005 initiate of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He went on to receive his Masters degree from the University of Phoenix. Currently living in Melbourne, Florida; Ra’Mone cites Miami as his second home. Due to a desire to provide people with an uncensored, informative, and uninhibited place to learn and express one’s self, regarding everything sexuality; Ra’Mone created the website The Quis Box. It includes everything from a blog, discussion forum, videos, and more. He is also the Founder and President of True T.A.L.E.N.T.S. Foundation, Inc.; a 501c3 nonprofit that he started in 2011. Its mission is to mentor and enrich the youth of our communities, ages 13-18 years old. With talents including music and the dramatic arts; Ra’Mone finds joy in writing, cooking, entertainment, exercising, eating, and traveling…just to name a few.

Author Contact Info:
Email: kacebooksllc@yahoo.com
Twitter: @ramonemarquis
Instagram: @ramonemarquis
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ramone.fluellen

You can enter and enjoy The Quis Box at:
www.thequisbox.com

You can find additional information about Ra’Mone Marquis’ non-profit, True T.A.L.E.N.T.S. Foundation, Inc., at:
www.ttfoundationinc.com
Twitter: @ttfoundation5
Instagram: @ttfoundation5
Facebook: www.facebook.com/truetfan or www.facebook.com/true.talents

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On Conversations: #bestselling #author Mindy Klasky

Please join me in welcoming best selling author Mindy Klasky to Conversations today! Mindy is here to talk about her new novel, Perfect Pitch, the first volume in her Diamond Brides Romance Series. So be sure and check out the blurb, cover and excerpt below!

Lisa ~
__________________________________________


PERFECT PITCH
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I5WWKLW/?tag=crlaofsu-20

Reigning beauty queen Samantha Winger is launching her pet project, a music program for kids. All she has to do is follow the pageant's rules—no smoking, drinking, or "cavorting" in public.

That's fine, until D.J. Thomas—God's gift to baseball—throws her a wild pitch. He slams her in an interview, and the video goes viral. Sam's no shrinking violet. She parlays D.J.'s apology into a national T.V. appearance—and a very unexpected, very public kiss.

Soon, paparazzi catch the couple in a steamy make-out session, and Sam's music program is on the block. The blazing hot relationship is threatened even more when D.J.'s son begs to trade in Little League for music class.

Can Sam and D.J. sizzle past the sour notes and find their perfect pitch?






Excerpt from PERFECT PITCH


     D.J. Thomas, Sam’s mind supplied, even as she registered the face she’d first seen on her grainy video screen the night before. But that poor-quality picture hadn’t done justice to the man’s riveting lapis eyes. And it hadn’t adequately captured the determined line of his jaw. And it had not even begun to reveal the broad set of his shoulders, or the way his waist tapered to the extraordinarily well-fitting jeans that threatened to snag the last of Sam’s suddenly-scattered concentration.

     “Excuse me,” D.J. said, and his voice was smoother than she expected, a rich baritone that flooded her senses like the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee. She felt herself pulled forward one step, two, then three, even though she hadn’t made a conscious decision to move. The man turned toward her. “Miss Winger?”
     She couldn’t have made a sound if the building were crashing down around her. All she could see was D.J. Thomas. D.J. Thomas and a massive bouquet of sweetheart roses, three dozen at least. The flowers cascaded over the ballplayer’s hands, yellow and peach and a pale pink that tugged at her heart, all cradled between lush ferns and wrapped with a bow.
     They weren’t the type of flowers a baseball player would ever choose to deliver. They were the flowers a marketing department would order—a public relations crew that was determined to redeem one of its players from his own faux pas.
     D.J. took a step toward her, offering up the bouquet with all the charm of a small boy making amends for stealing from a cookie jar. She wouldn’t have been surprised to see the toe of his well-worn boots digging into the conference room floor.
     Then those amazing eyes locked on hers, and she knew she would never think of him as a little boy again. Electricity sizzled between them—a secret telegraph she had no way of translating. All she knew was that she never wanted to look away, never wanted to break that searing bond.
     Some tiny part of her brain continued to feed her information. Judith and Bill were frozen in place, halfway across the room. Johnny had braced himself against the conference table, his camera settled on his shoulder. She could see the red light on the front of the contraption; she knew she was being filmed.
     She and D.J. Thomas were about to make another video. One that had the potential to erase the horrible clip that she had watched over and over and over again in the long, lonely hours of the night.
     But Johnny wasn’t going to be able to help her if she didn’t do something. If she didn’t say something. Now. “Mr. Thomas,” she finally managed.
     Her heart slammed against her ribs as he offered her the flowers. “I’ve made a terrible mistake, Miss Winger. And I hope you can see your way clear to forgive me.”
     At that moment, in that place, pinned by that incredible blue gaze, Sam was willing to forgive him just about anything. But Sam wasn’t just a woman, standing in front of a man. She was the Summer Queen. And the ball player who stood before her had embarrassed her and the Summer Fair.
     “Why, Mr. Thomas,” Sam somehow managed to say, forcing an arch smile to her lips. “We were just talking about you. How kind of you to stop by, after such an important night in your pitching career.”
     Behind her, Bill actually laughed. From the corner of her eye, she could make out Judith’s tight nod of approval. Johnny reached up and touched something on his camera, changing the angle of the lens, or the depth of its focus, or something else that was going to help enshrine this moment forever.
     D.J. glanced at the cameraman, but then he blanched and looked away. Sam might be reveling in how this was all working out, but the pitcher seemed mortified. This time, when he spoke, he directed his words to the roses. “Miss Winger, I’m here to make my own apology. But I’m also here to represent Marty Benson, the owner of the Raleigh Rockets.”
     Of course he was. The same P.R. department that had hunted down the flowers would have formulated a careful message. Marty Benson, a long-time Raleigh philanthropist, wasn’t about to have his name sullied by one pitcher’s smartass comment. Not his name, and not the name of his team.
     That smartass pitcher might not be happy to be filmed, but he wasn’t a coward. He forced his eyes back to her face. There was that zap again, that instant connection that made her wonder if his heart was galloping at the same pace as hers. She had to say something. Had to respond. That’s what any Summer Queen would do. She kept her voice light, but her words sounded about an octave too high when she asked, “And what does Mr. Benson have to say about all this?” She gestured toward Johnny and the camera, silent symbols of the controversy D.J. Thomas had created.
     “He’d be honored, Miss Winger, if you’d join us at the ballpark tomorrow afternoon. We’d love for you to sing the national anthem, and then you can watch the game in the owner’s suite.”
     Sing The Star Spangled Banner. At a major league baseball game. On national television.
     A year ago, she would have quailed at the possibility. But after ten months of public appearances as the Summer Queen? And with a chance to let the public know about Musicall, after her fruitless hours trying to track down wealthy donors the day before? She was stunned by her change of fortune.
      But D.J. Thomas apparently misunderstood her silence. “Please, Miss Winger. I’d take it as a personal favor if you could find a way to say yes.”
     The urgency of his plea drove him forward, closing the distance between them. She caught her breath in surprise, drawing in the perfume of the rose bouquet. But there was something spicier beneath that rich floral scent, something like cedar and sunshine. D.J. thrust the flowers toward her, and she clutched them automatically.
     Her fingers brushed against his—long and lean and warm against the greenery. She had the sudden sensation that the room was tipping, that the conference table was rocking like a ship at sea. But she was standing steady. She was standing strong, with D.J. before her, their hands still tangled in the roses.
     “Please,” he said. “Say yes.”
     And suddenly it didn’t matter if the roses had been purchased by the P.R. department. It didn’t matter if Marty Benson was extending an olive branch to make the Rockets look good. The only thing that mattered was the steady gaze and the warm hands and the determined jaw of the man who stood before her.
     “Yes,” she whispered.



Mindy Klasky learned to read when her parents shoved a book in her hands and told her she could travel anywhere in the world through stories. She never forgot that advice.

Mindy's travels took her through multiple careers - from litigator to librarian to full-time writer. Mindy's travels have also taken her through various literary genres for readers of all ages - from traditional fantasy to paranormal chick-lit to category romance, from middle-grade to young adult to adult.

In her spare time, Mindy knits, quilts, and tries to tame her endless to-be-read shelf. Her husband and cats do their best to fill the leftover minutes.


Find Mindy on her website, www.mindyklasky.com or any of these social networking sites:
 

twitter.com/MindyKlasky
facebook.com/mindy.klasky
facebook.com/JaneMadisonSeries
facebook.com/FrightCourt
mindyklasky.livejournal.com


Friday, April 4, 2014

On Conversations: #author Leslie Ann Sartor


Please join me in welcoming novelist and screenplay author Leslie Ann Sartor to Conversations today! Leslie is here to talk about her novels, being an indy author and Jackie-Of-All-Trades.So be sure and check out her very informative guest post and get to know Leslie. She has some great advice and some exciting book deals, including a freebie!

Lisa ~
__________________________________________


Thank you, Lisa, for hosting me on your blog, it's an honor to be here.  And again, congratulations on making the NYT Best Seller list.  You're my role model :) 


Today I'm talking about being the Jackie-Of-All-Trades…that's what you are when you publish Indie.

And to go along with being a JOAT, is the axiom I'm learning to live by.  NEVER SAY NEVER.

Okay.  Being a Jackie-Of-All-Trades isn't a bad thing, honest. It's just very exhausting and I wish there were thirty-six hours to the day, twenty-four simply isn't enough.

And I have to sheepishly admit I mess up sometimes, and that's horrible for a person who on one hand is a near perfectionist, and on the other creates constantly so is always working on getting what I do, be its best. Sounds like a vicious circle, doesn't it?

Okay, so here are a few things I've learned since I first published that help me tame that nasty circle.

    1) You cannot do it all:
I finally found a great virtual assistant and she does some of the work like mailing lists and promo's I just can't manage to do. I'm never ever…opps, didn't I just say that I should never say never. This is an exception. I'm never ever letting her go :)

    2) Try everything that sounds like it's up your alley:
Then find out what works and what doesn't work. I put my last book on KDP Select and I was pleased with the response it received. And even more so when it hit Best Seller.  But I won't keep it in Select, (but it will stay on Amazon), as I like having the options of other means for distribution. But that entails more work.  Vicious circle again. However, read on.

    3) Then narrow your choices to those that work best, or feel right:
As I said above I like options, but even those are narrowing.  I'll move my books out of Smashwords because I don't like the direction they're moving.  I'll also take them off of ARe and now that Sony is no more, that's a done deal.

And notice I said feel right?  All the sites you're on, be it for promotion, for publishing, for blogging, have to hit the right chords inside of you.  I have about 5 promotional sites I'm pushing myself to build my presence on. That's down from maybe 15. That's cutting by 2/3rds.

    4) But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try more new things:
Does that sound contradictory?  It's not.  You can't remain static. Neither can you go with what may have worked before, but may not be now.  So how do you find out what is working?

That is a hard answer. It's a just sense of feeling of connecting with the person who runs the site, sometimes I can see the numbers increase on a particular book and I know it's because this particular month I'm promoting it.

If you have a better way to tell what's working. I want to hear it. But I rely a lot on instinct and feelings.

What about trying all the different social media you ask? HA!!  That's another post entirely.


http://www.amazon.com/Mine-Christmas-Night-Light-Bright-ebook/dp/B00GGAGV1K/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0XG4400PYFPVEEPX3CND



Remember I said Jackie-Of-All-Trades and how that sometimes doesn't work?  Well, from April 1-5th ONLY, I'm again putting Be Mine This Christmas Night up for free on Amazon, and that's because I made the mistake of not UNchecking the box that said automatically renew.
  

And because I made that mistake I'm trying to reap some reward from it, by increasing my visibility. SO I'm offering my other two books for 99¢ during that same time. 

                                    



Two things that when I started this journey I swore I would never do, FREE and CHEAP. But here I am doing exactly that.

But I have a new title, Best Selling Author, and I have great readers so why not repackage myself and offer this?  No reason.  #4 on the list.

I have a blog, www.anindieadventure.blogspot.com and I have room for guests, but I've had to rethink just how much time I can put into the blog, so I've changed my offerings.  Numbers 1 and 3 on the list. I'm trying to give visibility to authors and screenwriters and musicians, but not at the expense of my own writing.

You can't be static. You can be a perfectionist, but you can't dwell on things when they turn out to be less than perfect. And as writers, we still have to find time to write.  After all, that's what all the rest of this is about isn't it?



Leslie Ann Sartor (aka L.A. Sartor) began telling stories around the age of 4 when her mother, at Leslie’s insistence, wrote them down and Leslie illustrated them.  As an adult she writes suspense and action adventure novels with a dash of romance, and screenplays—she's had a contracted adaptation!  She lives in Colorado with her husband whom she met on a blind date.  Leslie loves to travel and thinks life is an adventure and we should embrace the journey.  She has a blog: www.anindieadventure.blogspot.com. She is also one of the Five Scribes at www.fivescribes.blogspot.com.  Check out her website, www.lesliesartor.com.

She two books coming out in 2014, Viking Gold, book 2 in the Carswell Adventure Series (Stone of Heaven is book 1) and the second book in the Star Light ~ Star Bright Series (Be Mine This Christmas Night is book 1)

Social Links
L.A. Sartor's website:  www.lesliesartor.com
Facebook Profile:  www.facebook.com/Leslie.Ann.Sartor
Facebook Writer:  www.facebook.com/LASartor.Author
Twitter site: @LesannSartor
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/L_A_Sartor
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/lesann415/


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On Conversations: #romance #author Margaret Daley #firstkisses

Please join me in welcoming romantic suspense author Margaret Daley to Conversations today! Margaret is here to talk about the Inspy Kisses Collection #1, First Kisses, featuring six novellas. So be sure and check out Margaret's article featuring comments from all the authors of this awesome collection of inspirational romance stories. And don't forget to check out the story descriptions and cover below too.

Lisa ~
__________________________________________

Writing a Multi-Authored Collection
by Margaret Daley 

Working with five other authors (all who have written for Love Inspired Books) has been so rewarding and fun as we write and publish a collection of novellas (a mixture of contemporary romances, historical romances [one set in the 1950s] and romantic suspense) together.

This collection is title First Kiss. We are already working on the second one title Love Letters due out in a couple of months. In first collection I have decided to write about strong women in extraordinary situations. My first book is about a female bodyguard and I’m working on the second one about a female Texas Ranger. Going through this journey with five other authors has been a wonderful experience. Below are some comments from the other authors about the process.

"I am excited about doing the collection together simply because we are doing it together.  I love working with friends! I love seeing how other authors take the same topic and do something completely different than I do. Writing is often a solitary occupation and I'm a 'water-cooler' kind of worker.  I like to have others around -- to bounce ideas off of, to plan with, to celebrate with!  We do it all with the Inspy Kisses collections." ~Janet Tronstad

"I was over-the-moon to be a part of this group, which includes two of my writing mentors, Margaret Daley and Linda Goodnight. Without these ladies and their encouragement and help, I wouldn't be published today. It's definitely been a challenge trying to write to their level! I have loved reading Debra's, Janet's and Camy's books, so I was also excited to write in this collection with them. I think what makes us unique is the mix of genres (historical, retro romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance) and it has been really fun choosing a subject (like our first collection, "First Kisses") and seeing the individual stories develop around that theme." ~Lacy Williams

"I was so thrilled and honored when Lacy asked me to be part of this stellar group of writers, all of whom I deeply admire. Everyone's enthusiasm and ideas have been very encouraging to me, and it's really nice how all of us shoulder different tasks, although Lacy has the lion's share right now. I've never before worked so closely with other authors in this way and I absolutely love it!" ~Camy Tang

"Lacy Williams and I first met (over lunch at Panera) to discuss forming a group like this, and as excited as we were about the possibility, I could never have imagined the stunning results. After brainstorming a very select group of authors whose work we admired and respected, I knew we had something special. Working  with these authors is exciting because they are not only professional, multi published, award-winning authors,  they are smart, fun and just plain good people. Being on the inside of how they work and how they think and how they create has been a real treat. Our diverse talents and styles has created a collaboration that I think every reader can enjoy. Something for everyone, as they say!" ~Linda Goodnight

"I've had so much fun joining up with this group of gals. We're all like minded in our quest to give our readers quality, entertaining stories. I love the way we all work together and the diversity that we bring to the table. We've enjoyed ourselves so much and its turning out that our ideas for future collections continues to grow! I'm hoping our readers enjoy the books and future collections as we have." ~Debra Clopton



http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IPIETRE/?tag=crlaofsu-20FIRST KISSES 

Enjoy this collection of love stories with a theme of FIRST KISSES. The First Kisses collection includes:
  
From New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author Linda Goodnight comes a new historical romance The Rambler’s Bride

 
In 1870’s Kansas, Widow Esther North will do most anything to save her land from her powerful cousin and the coming railroad-even kiss a stranger! The kissing cowboy, Jericho North is bent on revenge from his brother’s widow, and the will hidden in his pocket is all he needs to make it happen. But he hadn’t reckoned on a baby...and neither he nor Esther had reckoned on love.
  
From USA TODAY and Publisher's Weekly Bestselling Author Janet Tronstad comes a new retro romance Lovebirds at the Heartbreak Cafe 
 

Janet pens a brand-new Retro CafĂ© Sweet Romance starring a 1950’s truck driver (Buddy) and a waitress (Penny) who both have enough trouble without everyone in Webster’s Crossing thinking they are falling in love.
  
From #1 Amazon Bestselling author Debra Clopton comes a new contemporary romance Her Mule Hollow Cowboy 
 

Rescuing a beautiful cowgirl from being trampled has professional bull rider, Cliff Masterson, dreaming of romance, home, hearth and that first kiss...but Maddie Rose has had enough people in her life leave and she’s not willing to risk her heart on a rambling cowboy—Sparks fly when these two are near. Can the Matchmakin’ Posse of Mule Hollow help this couple find their happily ever after?
  
From #1 Amazon Bestselling Author Margaret Daley comes a new romance suspense Deadly Hunt 
 

All bodyguard Tess Miller wants is a vacation. But when a wounded stranger stumbles into her isolated cabin in the Arizona mountains, Tess becomes his lifeline. When Shane Burkhart opens his eyes, all he can focus on is his guardian angel leaning over him. And in the days to come he will need a guardian angel while being hunted by someone who wants him dead.
  
From fan favorite Camy Tang comes a new romantic suspense Necessary Proof 
 

Alex Villa became a Christian in prison, and because of his efforts to help stop a gang producing meth in Sonoma, he has been set up for the death of a cop. Can computer expert Jane Lawton find the evidence that will prove his innocence before the gang eliminates them both?
  
From fan favorite Lacy Williams comes a new contemporary romance Kissed by a Cowboy 
 

Former shy-girl Haley Carston is back in Redbud Trails, Oklahoma, to care for her dying aunt. She didn’t count on cowboy Maddox Michaels, her high school crush and the man who might just bring her dreams of marriage and family back to life… 

Purchase FIRST KISSES







Friday, March 28, 2014

HIS DAKOTA BRIDE, book 5 of Dakota Hearts is now available! Read Chap 1 #amreading #asmsg

HIS DAKOTA BRIDE, Dakota Hearts Book 5

Her heart had always belonged to Wade McKinnon...

When single mother, Skylar Barnett, came to South Dakota, she thought her life was just beginning. Newly pregnant, she waited for the love of her life, Wade McKinnon, to join her so they could start their life near his family. But her joy quickly shattered after learning Wade was presumed killed during a tsunami that hit the small Asian island they'd both worked on in the Peace Corp. She'd spent the last four years making peace with her decision to marry a man she didn't love so her baby would have a father. But marrying the wrong man when her heart belonged to Wade was the biggest mistake of her life.

Secrets and circumstance kept them apart...

No one in Wade McKinnon's life knew that his work with the Peace Corp. was just a cover for his real job in a secret military agency. Not even Skylar, the woman he'd fallen hard for the moment he'd laid eyes on her. But when his mission in Asia suddenly became too dangerous and all agents in the field were ordered to disappear, using the tragic events of the tsunami on the island where they'd met seemed like the only way to keep Skylar and their unborn baby safe until the situation cooled down. As much as it killed him, Wade stepped aside when he learned Skylar had moved on with another man. But now that she's free, he's determined to do everything he can to win back her love and claim the life they'd dreamed of sharing.


Available NOW!

http://bit.ly/1eRxzN6 https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=IDa5AgAAQBAJ

 

His Dakota Bride ~ Chapter One:

The McKinnon clan didn’t need a reason to get together and celebrate, but this Labor Day weekend they were going to get one.  Homecomings were always a good cause for a party.  But this was one homecoming no one was expecting.
He parked his car in the driveway under a shady tree along the driveway, making note of the fact that there was a pick-up truck parked next to the garage in the spot where he used to park his old sixty-seven mustang.  He recognized the truck, although the last time he’d seen Logan McKinnon driving it, the truck had been in better condition.
He paused at the corner of the house and heard laughter filtering through the air.  The boisterous laughing he always heard when his brothers were all together.  The giggles and shouts of young children he’d yet to meet.  It called to him as strong as the smell of food being cooked over an open flame that tickled his senses.  But a hunger of another kind was stronger.  The voices he heard had been missing from his life for too long.  But he listened closely until the female voice that had haunted him grew louder.
“I need to finish up in the kitchen.  Hawk can you give me a minute and then come carry a few things out to the table?  No, Kate you put your feet up.  You’re always serving everyone at the diner.  Let me do this.”
The screen door on the back deck opened and then shut.  With his heart pounding, he walked to the front door so he could have the precious few moments alone with her before the rest of the family converged on him.  He needed those few moments.
His old key still fit the lock on the front door.  Turning the knob slowly, he pushed the door open quietly and stepped into the foyer.  He glanced into the living room, taking in every detail and exchanging what was different with what he’d committed to memory long ago.  The familiar smell of the house magnified the realization that he had finally made it.  He was home.
He didn’t want to scare her.  He could only imagine her reaction when she saw him.  So he slipped through the living room and into the kitchen through the dining room so he wouldn’t startle her.  And when he finally saw her, he thought his legs would crumble beneath him.
Skylar Barnett.  If there truly was just one great love in the universe for every person, Skylar was surely his.
She buzzed around the kitchen, almost dancing on the balls of her feet as she moved.  He used to say she looked like a ballerina, dancing as she walked in the sand.  She’d told him it was only because he made her happy.
“I heard the front door.  Did I lock the screen door on you by accident again, Hawk?” Skylar asked, licking her fingers of the dressing she’d just stirred in the bowl.  “This potato salad has to get into the ice bowl on the table or it will spoil in his heat.”
She turned in the opposite direction towards the refrigerator, opened it, and then pulled out a bottle. “Oh, and I forgot the Italian dressing for the salad.  Would you mind bringing that with you, too?”
She still hadn’t lifted her gaze to him.  And he didn’t rush to get her attention.  He enjoyed just watching her move.  He’d always loved the way she moved as she rushed from one side of the kitchen to the next.
Picking up the bowl of potato salad from the counter, she turned to him, her smile as bright as the blazing sun outside, and said, “Those barbeque ribs your dad has on the grill smell so good, it’s making me-”
Their eyes met for the first time in over five years and she gasped.  He should have done something to prevent the bowl of food in her hand from slipping through her grip and crashing to the floor.  The bowl shattered and the potato salad splattered on the tile floor and the cabinet Skylar was standing near.  She barely noticed the remnants of the mess at her feet.
“I’m not Hawk,” he said, never taking his eyes off hers.
Her mouth dropped open, as tears welled up in her eyes.  “Wade?”
He barely heard the words escape her lips, but he felt them just as strong as he had the last time they’d been together.  The memory of what it tasted like to kiss her, and that small intake of breath she made before her lips touched his.
“Is it really you?”
Her voice was a whisper and surged him forward. He took a slow step toward her as she took in seeing him for the first time in years. Her hand came up to touch his face but stopped short before making contact.
He leaned closer, giving her access to reach him without overwhelming her.  When she still didn’t touch him, he took her small hand in his and pressed it against his cheek.
“Flesh and blood, sweetheart.”
He’d had years to dream about this day.  He’d waited until the time was right, agonized over the best way, and played this moment in his mind a thousand times.  And yet, nothing prepared him for what it would be like to touch Skylar again.
Tears streamed down her cheeks.  She did nothing to wipe them clean.
“Wha…where have you been?”  A sob escaped her lips before she could finish.
“We have plenty of time for that.  I just want to hold you now for a minute.”  And then he slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her close against his chest.  The heat of her body penetrated the thin fabric of his shirt, bringing back memories of their burning love making on a hot evening.
Her sob against his neck tugged at his gut.  “I’ve missed you so much.  How can this be happening?”
“It’s happening.  It’s real.  I’m never leaving you again.”
“What the hell took you so long?  When they couldn’t find you after the tsunami, I called everyone we knew in the Peace Corp.  They said there was no trace of you at all.  Then your father used whatever connections he had and called every hospital in the region.”
“I wasn’t in the hospital.”
“I heard lots of stories where people had amnesia because of head injuries.  They didn’t know who they were.  I can’t imagine what that was like.”
He pulled back just a little to look at her face.  The last thing he wanted to do now was lie to her.  “That’s not what happened.  I didn’t have amnesia.”
“Then…where were you?  Why didn’t you follow me here like you said you would?”
“It wasn’t safe.”
“Of course it wasn’t safe.  There was a tsunami, for God’s sake!  That small village we stayed at was washed away by the tide.  And all this time I thought you were washed away with it.  You know we lost six people from our group that day.”
“I know.”
“You know.”  She touched his face and searched his eyes for answers.  “Wade, what happened to you?  Where have you been?”
“Do you remember me telling you that I was involved in something dangerous?”
“Of course.  That was the reason you wanted me to leave the island so quickly.  You told me not to tell a soul until you came back and that you’d explain everything then.  Oh, my God, are you telling me you were in prison?  Couldn’t the State Department have helped you get word to us?”
She hugged him tight.
“There was no way I could get word to you.  Not at first.”
“At first.  What does that mean?  Why couldn’t you have gotten word to me?  For God’s sake, why didn’t you get word to your parents?”
“You have to believe me that I wanted to.  But it was impossible.”
“I don’t understand, Wade.  What happened to you?  Where have you been all this time?”
“Watching you.”
Her mouth dropped open.  “Watching?  For how long?”
“Ever since you came to South Dakota.  I know about Jay, Skylar.”
The screen door creaked.  Skylar abruptly pulled away from Wade, leaving him cold.  Her eyes widened with confusion and anger as she stared at him.  She turned her gaze toward the doorway, placing a hand on her chest. “I…ah…dropped the bowl.”
Wade turned to see which McKinnon Skylar was talking to and his heart filled with emotion beyond capacity when he recognized his best friend and brother Hawk standing there.  Hawk didn’t look at Skylar or the mess on the floor around her feet that she’d just confessed to making.  Instead, his brother had the same confused expression Skylar had greeted him with.
“Wade?”
The next moments were a blur filled with lots of tears and hugs and jumping up and down as Hawk pulled Wade outside into the yard and announced his return to the family.  Each of the McKinnons ran to greet him.  The moment that was most difficult was seeing his mother and how much the news of his death had worn her down.  She still had the twinkle in her eyes, but the years had taken a toll.
“My boy is home,” Kate said through sobs, pulling him into an embrace.  “I have all my boys again.”
His father wrapped his arms around both Kate and Wade and gave them a long hug.  “Now I believe in miracles,” he said.
They made quick introduction of all the new people in the McKinnon family.  Although Wade had been watching closely to make sure his family had been safe, he knew none of the details that changed the dynamics of his family.
He quickly learned that Hawk, the closest in age to him, was now engaged to Regis, a beautiful woman who’d traveled the world with her father while he was in the military.  His family as well as Hawk had won her over and now Regis was determined to dig some roots for the first time in her life here in Rudolph.
Wade had known for some time that Logan had lost his wife, Kelly, nearly two years ago and that in the time he’d been gone, they’d had a son who was now five years old.  But he was equally pleased to see that Logan’s old flame, Poppy Ericksen, had healed Logan’s broken heart.  A wedding was already being planned for the end of the year.
Wade didn’t think he’d ever seen Ethan, Logan’s twin, in love before.  But after a stellar military career as a Navy SEAL where he dealt with the tragic death of his best friend, Denny, he’d managed to capture the heart of Denny’s younger sister, Maddie.  Whatever ghosts had been haunting his brother all these years were now gone.
But the biggest surprise of all had been Sam, who’d had always had a passion for women and for fighting fires.  He’d met his match with Summer Bigelow, a dispatcher who’d moved to South Dakota from Providence.  He soon learned that the two of them had taken up residence in his old room above the garage.
As he moved through the crowd of family, Wade stopped in front of Logan and peered down at the young boy who had wrapped himself around Logan’s leg.
“I know who this little man is,” Wade said.  “But does he know who I am?”
Little Keith half hid himself from view.  “Daddy says you’re Uncle Wade,” he said in a small voice.
Wade laughed as he crouched down.  “That’s right.”  He held out his hand to shake Keith’s.  Keith glanced up at Logan who gave him the okay.  Keith reached out and gave Wade a hard shake of his hand.
Wade tried to act surprised by Keith’s grip.  “Wow, he’s a McKinnon all right.”
“And who’s this little guy in Auntie Poppy’s arms?”  The little boy buried his face in Poppy’s neck, hiding from his view.  Wade already knew the little boys name.  He’d done his homework before deciding to finally come home.
Hawk tried to pull the boy from Poppy’s arms, but the little guy wouldn’t budge.  Then Hawk turned to Wade and said, “This is Alex.  Skylar’s son.”
Looking around, it suddenly dawned on Wade that he hadn’t seen Skylar in a while.
“Where did Skylar go?”
“I don’t know,” Poppy said.  “Alex didn’t want to leave so I said I’d take him for the night.  Then she ran out.”
His stomach sank.  “Wait, she just left?  Where did she go?”
His mother’s eyes probed his face.  She must have sensed the unrest in him from his reaction.  She said to Poppy, “Why don’t you bring the boys to the table for something to eat.  I’m sure they’re hungry after all this excitement”
Poppy lowered Alex to the ground and took both Alex and Keith by the hand.  “Sounds like a good idea.  Let’s go see if Grandpa saved the hamburgers from burning.  If not, we’ll skip lunch and eat some watermelon first.”
Both of the boys yelled, “Yeah!”  Then they pulled from her grip and ran to the other side of the yard where the picnic table was set up.
Kate waited until the boys were fully out of earshot.  “What’s going on, Wade?”
He watched the two boys laughing as they climbed onto the picnic table, sitting next to each other.  “They could be brothers.”
Hawk took a deep breath and placed a hand on Wade’s shoulder.  “Close.  They’re cousins.”
Kate’s eyes widened with surprise.  “What?”
Wade stared at Hawk’s face to see if he was serious, to confirm what he’d long suspected, but didn’t know as fact.
Hawk nodded.  “Alex is your son, Wade.”


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