Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fifty Frogs



 It is with great pleasure that I share this new release with you today. For those of you who read across all genres, you will find Tawdra Kandle will become a new favorite for your romance reads. Check out her latest release.


FIFTY FROGS by Tawdra Kandle




Release Date: June 27, 2017













Blurb:
Vivian is sick of dating. Sick of the way guys treat her, sick of living and crying by when and if they call . . . she’s just done. 

When her aunt reminds her that a girl has to kiss a lot of frogs before she finds her prince--Aunt Gail says that number is fifty--Vivian decides she’s taking control of her dating life: she’s going to go on a series of first dates only, and each one must end in a kiss. She begins chronicling each date--the good, the bad and the downright unbelievable--with a plan to turn the stories into an in-depth magazine series about the realities of dating in the twenty-first century.

Everything’s going along according to plan until Vivian hits a bump in her road with Frog Number Five, who doesn’t seem to understand his role in this deal. And despite Vivian’s determination to make it all the way to the big five-oh, when fate keeps throwing this same man across her path, she begins to wonder if maybe it’s time to ditch the plan . . . and kiss just one more frog.


Author Bio: Tawdra Kandle writes romance, in just about all its forms. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include young adult and new adult paranormal romance, new adult and adult contemporary romance and adult paramystery romance. She lives in central Florida with a husband, kids, sweet pup and too many cats. And yeah, she rocks purple hair. 

Social media tags: Tawdra Kandle (Facebook) @tawdra (Twitter and Instagram)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017



Blog Tour for Layla Dorine's
New Release
...AND All Shall Fade to Black






Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Layla Dorine's new release ...And All Shall Fade to Black. I'm excited to share with you an excerpt from the book.


…And All Shall Fade
Heaving a heavy sigh, Jax nodded.
“All right, fine, we’ll do it your way, but when I completely screw it up, we’ll know who to blame.”
“You can’t screw it up, Jax, it’s as simple as picking out the things you like.”
Jax cocked an eyebrow at him and tapped his foot and Callum cringed.
“Okay, I should maybe amend that. It’s a matter of picking out the things you like that would actually work well together to create as space with some harmony and unity,” Callum remarked sheepishly. “So please no two dollar paintings on crushed velvet and framed black light posters. We’re adults now, time to be more sophisticated about things.”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll actually put some effort into it this time.”
From across the room Max laughed. “Hey you’ve had it easy up until now, you’ve had us decorating most of the house for you. Just remember that if you plan to invite Danny or anyone else over to your place, you might want to consider tones besides black and gray. They’re kind of depressing.”
“They are solid colors that go together. Haven’t you guys been stressing that?”
“Yes, and they’re a good start. Now think about adding some additional shades to that.”
Unscrewing the jar, jax pulled out a pickle spear and crunched away, thoughtfully running through different shades in his head and dismissing them. It wasn’t that he was picky, it was just that he wasn’t a fan of bright things. “What about purple?”
“Purple can work,” Callum remarked. “Now if you’re done stalling, can you answer my question?”
Jax scowled, confused. “What question.”
“The one I asked when you walked in here. You asked how Max knew. What did Max know?”
“Oh.”
Silently, Jax headed for a chair and flopped into its overstuffed folds, put his feet up on the Ottoman and started crunching on another pickle.
“Yeah, oh, as in oh come on Jax spill it already. You know I won’t start the game until you do.”
Groaning, Jax glared at the pair, wishing he wasn’t holding the pickles so he could cross his arms. It might have been a little childish but at that point he was in the mood to pout and stubbornly hold his tongue.
“Apparently I interrupted him kissing Danny,” Max finally supplied.
“No shit?”
“No shit,” Jax grumbled. “Him and his bellowing put an end to what was shaping up to be a really nice moment. Then he hits me with a remark about Shiro.”
Jax watched as Callum shot a look between him and Max.
“All I said was that he shouldn’t let what happened with Shiro happen between him and Danny.”
“Ohhh.”
“Yeah, and I wanted to know what the hell he meant by that.”
“Oh come off it Jax, we both knew you were pining after Shiro and too scared to do anything to make it happen. Anyone with eyes could have seen that, just from your moods and body language whenever you two were together. What I don’t get is why you didn’t just ask him out or something.”
Jax shrugged and busied himself with another pickle. It was a good question, it was just a complicated one. The truth was, by the time he figured out that Shiro was as bad at picking up on relationship cues as he was, Nozomi had swooped in and asked Shiro out. He’d never been the type to get in between two people, even at the start of a new relationship, and especially not one to do it to friends. So he’d kept his feelings bottled up, half hoping that maybe it wouldn’t work out between them, though, the signs had all been there that it would.
“Earth to Jax…hey…”
Fingers snapping next to his ear drew Jax’s attention and he turned to see Callum grinning down at him.
“You know what, I think you need to pursue things with Danny, if only so you don’t end up looking like a lovesick puppy every time someone brings Shiro up. That ship has sailed, it’s a new day my friend, and a new city, though there’s one thing that will never change.”
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“Me kicking your ass and leaving you to the zombies,” Callum laughed.
“You’re on!” Jax snapped, reaching for a controlled.
Max just groaned as he reached for one himself. “I can already see how this night is gonna go. You two are going to be so busy trying to throw each other in the path of the zombies or outdo each other that you’re going to end up killing me in the process.”
Jax glanced at Callum, who was staring back at him, smirking.
“That’s been known to happen,” Jax admitted.
“True, it has,” Callum replied with a shrug. “You’d think he’d be used to it now.”
“Yeah really, sheesh, I mean, it isn’t like it’s our fault that he can’t stay out of the way. Maybe if he’d learn to dodge a little better…”

“Or duck,” Jax added, laughing and ducking himself when Max threw a pillow his way.




About the Author
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.
Layla Dorine can be found at:
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005197938547&fref=ts Twitter: https://twitter.com/layladorine
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/layladorine/
Tumblr: https://layladorine.tumblr.com/
Author Website: layladorine13.wix.com/layladorineauthor
Author on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9814124.Layla_Dorine

Friday, June 2, 2017

Release Day Blitz

Release Day June 2, 2017
And All Shall Fade to Black
by
Layla Dorine


Release Day Blitz-….And All Shall Fade to Black by Layla Dorine
…And All Shall Fade to Black Blurb
Moving into his new apartment, Jax never expected to have to break up a fight between his new neighbors, resulting in a physical altercation and a visit from the cops. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would lead to him meeting Danny, the cute theater manager and playwright that lived next door. Unfortunately, his first impression of Danny and the way he’d cowered away in the fight with his ex, wasn’t exactly a favorable one.
Jax already has his own issues to deal with, between his past problems with his mother and the chain of men who’ve floated in and out of her life, his new job as a piercer in his sister’s tattoo shop and his struggles with an eating disorder; the last thing he plans to add to it is a relationship. Yet Danny isn’t so easy to ignore and when they find themselves bonding after Danny shows him around town, and more when Jax offers to help with sets for his latest play, it becomes harder and harder for him to ignore the connection forming between them.
As Jax’s insecurities and food issues grow more and more out of control, he find himself turning to Danny for help, rather than his longtime friends Callum and Max who lives just downstairs. Danny’s mix of patience, stubbornness and tough love make it harder and harder for Jax to keep his distance, and somewhere in the course of their daily lives, they find themselves moving from being friends, to being more.
Book Trailer


Buy Links

Excerpt
As he stood under the warm spray from the shower, some of the anger from the night before began to creep back in. Without a doubt, that had to be one of the stupidest things he’d ever done. In fact, if he were to rank a lifetime of insanity and bad decisions, that one was floating somewhere between number two and number five in a very long list.
It wasn’t like it was going to make a difference, the small guy, what the fuck he’d said his name was, Denny, Danny, whatever, had probably bailed the asshole out and was up making him breakfast and laying his shit out for work. Dumbass.
Jax sighed and brushed the water out of his eyes. His sister would tell him he was being a cynic, that not everyone was like their mom had been. Fuck that noise, Steph saw rainbows and sunshine in everything. Even when people pissed her off she just smiled and somehow or another managed to win them over. That wasn’t him, had never been him and never would be.  People only showed you good when they wanted something, or when they wanted you to like them. As soon as they’d suckered you in, who they really were tended to emerge and he’d learned early on that it was safer to play with pit bulls then people. At least a dog wasn’t gonna bite you unless you provoked them to.
People on the other hand…
Turning the water off, he shook his head, sending water droplets everywhere before grabbing a towel and quickly drying off. He’d barely pulled on his jeans when someone began knocking on his door. For a moment, he considered ignoring it, but the knocking grew more insistent and with a groan he resigned himself to the fact that whoever it was just wasn’t going to go away.
Muttering curses he stalked to the door and yanked it open, only to see the top of Denny-Danny’s head. The smaller man looked up at him with a sheepish grin, the bruises on his face and neck looking much worse in the light.
“Hi, umm,” Danny stammered, as Jax crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe, wondering how long this was going to take.
“I umm, I just wanted to, ummm,” Danny continued, looking around awkwardly. “You didn’t have to help last night, and umm, I just want to thank you.”
“Is that all?” Jax asked abruptly, pushing away from the doorway. “Don’t expect it to happen again.”
Danny took a step back, eyes widening in shock at Jax’s harsh tone. “I-I don’t, I mean, I-I won’t.”
“Good. And do me a favor, try and keep it down the next time you guys decide to fight. No one else needs to hear that shit.”
Jax reached for the door, intent on shutting it, when Danny slammed his hand against the door, stopping him. Jax blinked, glancing from Danny’s hand to his face and back again.
“Do you have a problem?” Jax asked, feeling himself tense, readying for confrontation. He watched the mired of expression that played across Danny’s face, from shock to outrage, to furious indignation, and couldn’t be bothered to worry about where the whole situation might lead. The coward had showed his true colors in the hallway. Nothing he did now would change Jax’s mind about him.
“I didn’t ask for your help last night,” Danny sputtered, weight pressed against the door.
Jax knew he could close it if he truly wanted to, but this was almost amusing.
“I’m grateful to you, f-for what you did, but if you were gonna be an asshole about it, why’d you even bother at all? Or did you think you were coming to help a woman? Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Yeah, I did think it was a woman getting the shit beat outta her,” Jax shot back. “And since you guys were loud as hell, it wasn’t like I could sleep through it or anything.”
Chin trembling, Danny raised his head. It looked to Jax like it was actually taking him some effort to look at him. His one cinnamon colored eye was almost swollen shut, the dark blue bruise around it making the sliver of color stand out even more.  

“Look, I didn’t mean to disturb your night. I didn’t ask for him to go off on me like that. He was higher than I’ve ever seen him and to be honest, I’m still not sure exactly what set him off.”
“But you know he uses, and you live with him anyway. Bet you bailed him out too, didn’t you?” Jax shot back, scowling. “Apologized for everything, made him breakfast and even promised to make him a nice dinner tonight when he came home from work, right?”
Danny’s eyes narrowed and his fingers curled into a fist against the door. Jax licked his lips, waiting to see if Danny was actually going to attempt something. Not like he wanted to hurt the guy, he already looked hurt enough, but he seemed to be mustering up more outrage now than he’d shown the night before.

“Actually, I pressed charges against him and left his ass at the precinct when he called me at three in the morning begging me to come bail him out. I even called a moving van to get his shit out of here, rented a storage unit for them to put it in, and planned to invite you over for dinner to thank you, but you can pretty much forget that part of the plan. I don’t invite people into my life who are going to treat me like shit, and I sure as hell aren’t the type to actually forgive them and bail them out after they do. I don’t know what kind of people you’ve been around, but, not everyone likes to play the part of a human punching bag. Anyway, for what it’s worth, thank you for coming to my rescue, trust me when I say there will never be a need for it to happen again.”
About the Author
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

Layla Dorine can be found at:



Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Pinkerton Man Series is Back

For a limited time only, you can get the re-released version of the Pinkerton Man Series Bk 1 & 2 for just $.99. Good through June 1st.




AMAZON Buy Link

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I'm Back!!!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Every day is a challenge in this life. Some days more than others. The past three months have been a challenge for me. So much so, that writing has become something I dreaded and feared. I won't go into a lot of detail so as not to sound like a whiner, but...it sucked. This was going to be my breakout year and I've had nothing but set backs and the year is half over! 

I've been contemplating what I really want to do. How do I move forward in a positive way? Can I do this all on my own efforts? The answer came to me this week, as I contemplated turning 61 this Saturday, May 27th. Hell, yes I can!

So in the weeks and months to come, you may not see me on social media as much as I have been. There are stories to edit, covers to pull together, WIP's to finish and work to be done. 

In the next two months, you will see the third Warfield Hotel Mystery book titled "Roaring Waters" and for the holidays a "Warfield Hotel Christmas", a novella bringing all the couples together to celebrate. You can also expect to see the re-release of the Pinkerton Man Series Bk 1 & 2, plus the release of the third book in the series by the end of 2017. I also hope to have the first book in a new series, the Knight's Club available by the end of the year as well. 

On top of all of that, I will be attending three book events this year where I hope to see some of you.

Pages in the Caves in Cave City, Kentucky September 23
Indie Book Fest 2017 Orlando, Florida September 29 & 30
Glass City Author Event Toledo, Ohio October 28

Details for tickets will be coming over the next few months. 

On a side note, my daughter gave me an early birthday present this year. Tickets to the amazing Broadway show "Kinky Boots"! OMG, if you every get the chance to see this go, go, go! I'm still feeling the chills.

Love you all. Hope your holiday weekend is filled with happiness, family and friends. 

CJ



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Come to the Oaks Review



Amazon buy link


The first thing that gripped me about this story was the stark and depressing description of the slave boat and the people trapped there. The author tells us from the very beginning that this book is a work of fiction and yet, there were times I felt I was right beside Mamadou Masamba on his long journey.

Historical stories can be dull in their need to describe every building, article of clothing or food that is consumed. I didn't feel that way with this book. Every detail was there for a purpose to enrich the story of Ben and Tobias.

Tobias (Mamadou) was confused in his new world. Rightly so. He had lost everything and they took his name as well. He struggled to understand the workings of the plantation and how it was possible for one man to own another. His remembrances of his life in Africa, at times brought comfort but mostly kept his desire to return home alive in his heart.

Ben Lee, the son of the plantation owner, was a slave to his upbringing. Importing slaves had been outlawed, yet men like his father kept buying from slave traders. In his heart, he knew it was wrong but he didn't know to escape the future his father had cast for him.

From the moment Ben laid eyes on the young black slave, he had to have him. Tobias brought out the hidden desires Ben had kept buried inside for a long time. Though Ben owned Tobias, he didn't treat him as a slave which caused problems for both young men. They became friends and then so much more.

Hardships came and Ben makes the brave decision to take Tobias and run. The last half of the story focused on their dangerous quest to find freedom. Dealing with the Underground Railroad system and yet trying to keep their feelings for each other hidden as they traveled.

I won't given anything else away. I enjoyed this story for several reasons. I'm a Civil War buff. I am from the parts of Kentucky mentioned in the story. My ancestors were tobacco growers, too. Though to my knowledge, my ancestors never owned any slaves. And at its heart, it is a MM love story between two beautiful characters. For most, I enjoyed this book for the excellent writing and storytelling skills of Bryan T. Clark.


He took a fictional story and made me ache for these two young men who were forced to exist in a world torn apart by bigotry and war. Reading this book will make you feel many things...regret won't be one of them.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Serpent's Kiss by Layla Dorine




I'm so excited to share "Serpent's Kiss" by Layla Dorine with you all today. 


Serpent’s Kiss Blurb

While searching for their missing sibling, Zaiden and his sister, Kaandhal come across the last pure blooded psy-clairvoyant of their kind. Unfortunately for them, Darian has no idea what he truly is and isn’t much interested in learning, or in helping them locate their brother, Zxex.
A bounty hunter by trade, who’s been all but banished from his family due to his visions, Darian’s a bit cynical about his ability to be of any assistance to them. Never-the-less, Zaiden brings him back to their home Rhumba, where Darian discovers that very little is what it seems.
With plots unfolding all around them and discoveries about his own heritage leaving Darian reeling, he is left with the choice of whether to embrace who and what he is, or spend every moment with them a prisoner on the fringes of their society.

Add in a pesky little bond that only seems to grow the more time he and Zaiden spend together, and several factions looking to gain possession of him and Darian is left wondering if his visions just might be the least of his troubles. 


Buy Links


About the Author

LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.


Layla Dorine can be found at:






Sunday, April 2, 2017



Today it looks like spring outside and that should be a welcome thing. Right? Well, yes in some ways and maybe not in others. 

Yes, because the wind is a bit warmer and the sunshine brings warmth as well. No because, the weeds and dandelions are sprouting everywhere so that means the dreaded "yard work" needs to begin. 

I look around our home inside and out and I start making lists of things that need to be done. 2016 was a year of upheaval and change for our family. Some things we planned, a lot we didn't. That being said some of my goals have changed since the beginning of the year. 

You will be able to see me at only three book events this year. I'm cutting back because I need to write. I want to produce the best stories for my readers that I can and I can't do that if I'm constantly traveling and playing on Facebook. So you won't see me on there as much as I have been. I have stories to tell and share and that's what I'm going to focus on. 

The last Warfield Hotel Mystery is in the hands of the publisher and hopefully soon I will have news about it's release. Unfortunately for all folks who love MM stories, Wayward Ink Publications has closed it doors and The Pinkerton Man Series was released through them. I have the rights back and I am working on finding a home for Stiles and Lizzie and their future stories. They will be back with more to come. I have also started a new series that I will be self publishing called the Knight's Club. No mystery to this series but lots of men, angst and romance. Look for the first book mid summer.

Lastly, I'm venturing outside the box for me. For some time now, others have encouraged me to write romance novels with strong older women as the main characters. I have a rough draft with three women who have shared everything in their lives; births, deaths, marriages, divorces, sickness etc. I'm hoping to bring these women to life under a new pen name with the first release late in 2017. 

Look for a newsletter from me in the next month filled with info on coming book events, contests and more. And the face of this blog is going to have an update with some changes as well. 

Here's to a bright spring filled with blooming flowers that make your days sing with joy and laughter.

C.J.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

This has been a long exhausting week for me. I started a new day job that is actually a night job. I know it doesn't make sense to me either. Suffice it to say, I've been exhausted. The good news is Roaring Waters, Book 3 of the Warfield Hotel Mysteries has been sent off to the publishers and I'm hoping to have good news for everyone in the next few months. And as promised below is a portion of one of the chapters in the coming story.

This is a stand alone story, though characters from the first 2 books play a part of this new story. It does have a HEA and no cliffhanger.

Enjoy Damien Fitzgerald and Robert Wyler.


Robert Wyler couldn't think of one thing to say as Damien Fitzgerald walked away with Justin. Nothing. Not one snappy comeback. Not one sardonic syllable. What the hell was wrong with him? Why did this man always affect him this way?

Thankfully, the man would probably be in and out of the hotel before Robert caught sight of him again. The best thing to do was get back to work and let it go. There was only one little thing that was stopping him. Something was wrong. Robert felt it in his gut. And if Robert had a fault, it was this desire to help whenever he saw someone was in a bad place.

Damien Fitzgerald was always a well groomed, sophisticated man. The man Robert crossed words with was anything but. His normally neatly trimmed Van Dyke was in need of care. The meticulous style of clothing was replaced with jeans and a stretched out of shape sweater. Granted the steel blue of the sweater made the paleness of his eyes deepen in intensity. It was the dark circles under those eyes that bothered Robert and the man's thinness. Damien's trim and toned physic was something to admire. He was the total opposite of Robert and his bulky heaviness. But Damien was thin now, he hadn't been eating, and it was plain to see.

Peter passed by Robert loaded down with a try of food headed for the office. He smiled at Robert and nodded toward the door. Robert opened the door but didn't go join the group inside. He overheard Damien arguing with Marcus and Justin trying to calm them both down. Not wanting to intrude Robert closed the door behind Peter and headed down the hall to the lounge. There was work needing to be done.

"Hey, how's it going down there?" Peter's cheerful voice called out as he leaned across the bar in Robert's direction.

"I'm counting stock to gage how much I need to add to the order this week," Robert said as he stood to his feet. "Actually, since traffic has been kind of slow, the order will low this time week."

"Makes sense."

Peter looked over the order sheet that Robert passed him. Counted to himself and wrote his initials on the bottom of the form.

"I don't think we're going to be very busy the next few weeks. If that weather forecast proves to be true, anyway."

Robert sat two glasses on the bar and filled both with Coke. It was still too early in the day for anything else. Peter picked up his glass and took a drink.

"You mean all that talk about a snow storm headed this way," Robert chuckled as he drank from his glass.

"You don't think it's possible?"

"Of course, anything is possible. But snow here? Come on Peter. Can you remember the last time it snowed in Beaufort?" Robert doubted Peter remembered a snowfall in their home town. He didn't.
"Well, not here this close to the coast, but it's possible in the mountains. That would make driving pretty rough. God, do you remember when Atlanta shut down two years ago because there was an inch of snow on the highway and a little ice."

Robert laughed remembering the local news stations and most of the nation having a laugh at Atlanta and the mess the highways were.  Nobody knew how to drive in the stuff and there were accidents everywhere. They eventually chose to close the main roadways because service trucks unable to get stranded vehicles and motorists.

"Let's hope they learned their lesson from the experience. They will be a little better prepared, if it does snow this time."

Robert lifted a basket of clean glasses from the washer. As he dried them and set them on the sideboard behind the bar, his mind drifted back to Damien.

"Did you see Damien?" Peter asked interrupting his thoughts about the man.

"Yeah. We spoke." Robert didn't want to admit that he was curious, but he was.

"Is he okay?"

"I'm not sure what is going on. Marcus didn't say a word while I was in the office. He kept writing in some notebook," Peter sighed. "That means he's on a case. So he must be helping Damien with something. They arrived early this morning. But did you get a look at Damien? I've ever seen him so disheveled."

"I didn't really notice." Robert hoped he sounded convincing.

Peter's stare heated his skin. Robert didn't blush, but he didn't like having anyone contemplate his feelings either. He learned the hard way not to give his trust to another person. It always ended badly.

"Well, I need to get back to work," Peter said as he slipped from the stool he was sitting on. "See you later."

Robert heard Peter's words, but he never looked up. He was trying to regain control of his mind and not let it run to places Robert did not want to visit.

"Hey Peter. How's Sally doing today?"

Robert recognized Krystal Smith's voice as she greeted Peter on her way into the lounge. She was Peter's girlfriend's cousin. She came to work at the hotel shortly after it reopened. Much like Sally, she was an attractive woman with a strong personality and a great smile. Customers loved her.

"Hey, Krystal. She's doing a lot better. The morning sickness seems to be finally coming to an end," Peter laughed. "Now she complains about her clothes not fitting. But don't tell her I said that."

Krystal joined in the laughter and reassured Peter that things would get a lot worse before they got better. This was Sally's first baby. She and Peter were overjoyed. They were planning a summer wedding after the baby came in early May.

"Give her my love," Krystal added as she kissed Peter's cheek.

Peter left and Krystal went to the small office behind the bar to put her things away. She came out tying her apron around her waist. Robert really enjoyed working with Krystal. She quickly became a good friend who easily read his moods like a book. This time he hoped she'd just drop it and not pick up on how he was feeling today. She grabbed a rag and headed out to the tables. Lowering the chairs to the floor, she rubbed the table tops down as she went. Every once in awhile, Robert saw her glance up and observe him. She moved onto the next table and the next. Eventually she finished with the tables and walked to the bar where she sat down on a stool in front of where Robert was working.

"What gives?" She asked.

"I have no idea what you are talking about." Robert said, hoping she'd let it drop, knowing she wouldn't.

"Something is wrong and don't tell me it's nothing. I can see it in the way you are moving."

She stepped down from the bar stool and moved behind the bar where she turned the mini Keurig on and waited for it to heat the water. She drew a pod out of the drawer under the coffee machine, popped it in and hit the blue light to brew the coffee. She brought her cup and sat back down on the bar stool again.

"Okay, I've got my go juice, now talk."

She wasn't going to let go and Robert didn't know how to put into words what he felt.

"Got anything to do with that hot looking guy in Justin's office this morning?"

"How did... never mind. Sometimes I think you are a witch or something." Robert said. He fixed his own cup of coffee then joined her on the other side of the bar.

"Or something." Krystal laughed.

"Give."

Robert sighed, saying, "The guy in Justin's office is Damien Fitzgerald."

"Wait — the guy you saved when the hotel was blown up?" Her eyebrows shot up, and she stared at Robert.

"Yes. He and I don't see eye to eye on most things. Not even when it came to saving his life." Robert sipped on his coffee smiling as he remembered Damien's reactions that night.

"He's hot." Her smile was knowing.

"He's not my type. Too pretty. Too smart. And too self centered."

" I was wondering, what is your type? I mean I haven't seen you with anyone since I've been working here. It's a simple question."

Robert wondered how she did that? Hit right at the heart of something so easily.

"I don't have a 'type'." Robert offered. "I haven't met anyone in awhile who interests me."

"So what 'interests'  you?" She asked, then added, "You're a great guy Robert, you deserve to have someone special in your life."

Robert wasn't sure what to say to that. He wanted someone in his life but he didn't want the kind of attention that men usually paid him. Because he took care of his body and he liked tats didn't mean he wanted to rule over someone. He wanted give and take in a relationship. Most guys looked at him and assumed he would be up for things he wasn't the least bit interested in.

"I don't know what kind of man is my type because I haven't  met him yet." He answered honestly.

"Maybe you have but you're letting stereotypes cloud your vision." Krystal offered. "You don't like it when someone makes the wrong assumption about you because you have muscles and tattoos and a gruff exterior. Aren't you doing the same when you say someone is too pretty or self centered? Could be they are protecting themselves too."


Robert had never thought of it like that. He was attracted to Damien. Had been from the beginning but the man's mouth always got in the way. Could he be using sarcasm as a defense? Robert wasn't sure that was it. Mostly, he figured Damien Fitzgerald really was a self centered son of a bitch. That thought made Robert smile.