Preview (Triggered by Love)

triggered-by-love

Fashion Designer Avery Cockburn lost everything in one New York minute. Her fireman fiance was gunned down next to her and her business is in shambles.

NYPD Detective Jason Burnett shot the killer and saved Avery’s life, but a year later, he still has no leads and the case has gone cold. He believes Avery is still in danger so he stalks her — to the gun range, through clubs and parks, and hopefully into her heart.

Chapter One

Avery Cockburn was on top of the world.

Here she was, twenty-six years old.

Manhattan Fashion Week and her very first show under her own label.

Her models strutted on the runway, and the fashion press was going gaga over her daring designs.

Haute couture with a wicked flair.

Her longtime boyfriend, fireman Brando Bonet, fidgeted with his suit jacket and tie, and she hung onto his arm.

They’d take the trademark ramp walk together, trailing the last model and accept the accolades of her fans, competitors, the press, and industry buyers gathered at the base of the runway.

“Ready?” She graced his handsome visage with an encouraging and adoring smile.

She loved this man. How could she not?

He’d saved her life. She was a complete stranger and a nobody back then—a design student staying late at her drafting table when a fire broke out at the institute.

Ivanna, her model wrangler, signaled her. “It’s looking good out there. And, you’re on.”

Striding in a more subdued gait than the slinky models, Avery placed one slender leg in front of the other, letting the slit of her off-shoulder evening gown part, barely. Her steps were in between mincing and assertive, and beside her, Brando’s hunky fireman’s body was solid and fluid like a symphony of testosterone and alpha manhood forged with power.

The applause and cheers were deafening as they walked out onto the runway. The spotlight heated her face enough to draw tiny prickles of sweat, but Avery was safe underneath her makeup. The heady, spicy scent of Brando’s cologne was enough to invigorate her from the stage fright she suffered—unbeknownst to her colleagues.

This was her moment of glory. She had nothing to be afraid of. It was her hometown crowd, and she was the hometown favorite. With Brando at her side, she’d foregone her anti-anxiety meds. She could do it.

Brando shined a proud and admiring glance on her, bucking up her spirits. They strode past the applauding models to the end of the runway. The cheers were deafening over the electronic pulses of techno music, and the plethora of photographic flashes shot stars into her eyes.

“We did it,” she whispered, glancing up at her hunky hero.

“Love you,” his mouth formed the words.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

“Get down!” A man’s voice roared, followed by more popping sounds.

Avery tumbled off the runway. Pain showered her, punching the breath out of her and slamming her ribs. Her head thumped onto a hard surface, and her arms and legs flailed helter-skelter.

A collective scream arose around her with the sounds of chairs toppling and footsteps running. Avery pushed and shoved underneath a big, heavy body.

“Brando. Brando,” she cried, unable to see past the red blurring her vision. Hot, sticky blood dripped over her, and she could taste the salty tang in her mouth.

The heavy man weighed over her, still warm, but silent. The coppery scent of blood overpowered the manly cologne, but Avery knew every inch of her lover’s body.

“No! No! No!” her screams rose in a wail of anguish. She didn’t have to listen for a pulse to know there was none. No breath, no heartbeat, not a single muscle twitch.

What happened? Why?

She held onto him, moaning, sobbing. “I love you. I didn’t get to tell you. I love you. Come back. Come back. You can’t leave me. My love. I owe you. It should have been me.”

“Man down,” someone shouted close by, but she already knew.

A fusillade of what she now recognized as gunshots followed. Shells clicked to the floor, and a strong hand yanked her from underneath her precious Brando’s body.

“No, no, no!” She was reduced to a single word. “No, no, no, no, no.”

Pop. Pop. Pop.

“You got to get out of here.” The stranger wrapped her slender body with one arm while shooting at the same time.

“No, no, no!” She struggled and clawed at his face, hands, anything.

Bullets whizzed by her, but strangely she didn’t care. She turned her head, looking back through the red mist. Brando’s eyes were still open. He lay on his stomach with his arms spread out. He’d protected her, and she was soaked with his blood.

“No!” Avery’s wail was thin and forlorn. “No …”

“Get down.” The man shoved Avery through a doorway and fired off more shots. “Got him.”

He spoke into a shoulder mic and holstered his gun.

“You killed him.” Avery kicked him with the heel of her stiletto. “You killed my Brando. Who are you?”

“Officer Jason Burnett, NYPD.”


Watch for Triggered by Love some time in 2020. [Avery’s friends have novellas in the same world as the REVISED (2018) Leap, Laugh, Love and Blush of Love.]

Christmas Creek Christmas Romance – An Unexpected Hint of Magic

Christmas Creek Series

As an author, I love when stories weave an unexpected and magical direction. It’s as exhilarating as riding on a runaway sleigh and realizing I’m not in charge. My Christmas Creek series of romances has surprised me in every way.

Initially, I conjured up Christmas Creek as a town where Christmas lives all year round. I was invited to be in a very special boxed set with Mimi Barbour and her Gang of awesome writers. I never dreamed I would be even associated with them, but Mimi is always looking for the unexpected story and serendipity in putting together her sets so she proposed a theme. Let’s write a story around a Christmas carol.

Thus, Love, Christmas: Songs of the Heart [A USA Today Bestseller] was born. Everyone chose their favorite Christmas carol, and I picked Deck the Halls, mainly because it’s public domain, so I get to include the lyrics inside my story. I set out to write a story between a Christmas fanatic named Holly Jolly and a grouchy Grinch named Gordon Gills. My first scene was Holly decorating the old Gills Mansion when Gordon walked in and knocked her off her ladder and catching her when she fell.

Little did I know that magic would come into the picture when Gordon tried to hightail it out of Christmas Creek and caught an “Uber” from the past.

Oh boy! Writers do love magic, because once I created Christmas Creek, I used it for my next story, Her Christmas Chance, which featured a cantankerous Maine coon cat, a woman with cerebral palsy, and an ex-con with a mysterious past. Once again, they meet their fate in the Gills Mansion, only in a different century.

In 2018, Mimi went back to our Love, Christmas idea, and this time proposed a set based on the theme of Christmas movies: Love, Christmas: Movies You Love [Another USA Today Bestseller]. I dipped once again in the well of Christmas Creek and wrote my own rendition of A Christmas Carol where the Ebenezer Scrooge character is played by a frustrated romance writer, Ebony Cruse, wanting to escape Christmas nonsense on her old family farm, on the outskirts of guess where? Christmas Creek.

This year, Mimi proposed a new set of Christmas Shorts, short stories as a snack for Christmas readers. While searching for a cover image that would match my other Christmas Creek stories, I came across this cute and adorable picture of a kitten in the snow. Before I knew it, I wrote not one, but two stories. Kitty, It’s Cold Outside [See my comments on how this book came about] and A Christmas Creek Caper for the boxed set. It’s a short story, and it was a challenge to fit a sweet story that touches all bases into such a short format. [See my comments on how I did it].

Rachelle Christmas-Creek-Caper

I hope you’ll check out all of my Christmas Creek Series as well as the Authors’ Billboard sets, Love, Christmas: Songs of the HeartLove Christmas: Movies You Love, and Christmas Shorts18 brand-spankin’-new and fun stories.

Christmas Creek: Romance and a Tint of Magic

[Sassy] Deck the Hearts Can Holly’s jolly Christmas spirit help Grinchy Gordon Gills save the town of Christmas Creek? Audiobook link.

[Sassy] Her Christmas Chance A woman with cerebral palsy and her tomcat disagree about the attractive ex-con living next door. Will a dose of Christmas magic reach through his dark secrets? Audiobook link.

[Sweet] A Christmas Creek Carol A reclusive writer, Ebony Cruse, is given a one-star review on her life by characters in her past, present, and future. Audiobook link.

[Sweet] Kitty, It’s Cold Outside When mailman Mick Jolly delivers a kitten to an abandoned millhouse, he is ensnared by a mysterious Victorian woman caught in a Christmas curse.

[Sweet] A Christmas Creek Caper Someone’s stealing packages off the Christmas Creek porches. Sheriff Brad Wing is on the case, and he sets a sure-fire trap. Will he catch this cold-hearted person, or will he find something he never imagined?

 

The Case for Paperbacks

My bookshelf

My house is literally full of books. Books I’ve collected since I was a child [I still have a ragged Barney Beagle] to books I purchased just this week. If you’re like me, your kindle is also burgeoning with books. I have over 5000 at last count.

My friends tell me to declutter and sometimes, I have rather reluctantly said goodbye to many of my books (sniff, sob, I still mourn them). After all, why hold onto the paper or hardback when I can simply download an ebook to my ereader?

The answer is simple. With 5000+ books in my kindle library, I’m constantly forgetting I have a book. How many of you have gone to a book page, hit “purchase” only to have Amazon tell you you already have the book? Thank goodness Amazon does this, but that doesn’t count the books I have on Nook and Google Play, not to mention borrowed from Scribd or Overdrive.

So the other day, I got to thinking, and maybe it’s a dangerous thing since I’m supposed to be decluttering so that when my husband retires we can move… Books that I have in paper form are like friends I see in person, my neighbors, my cousins, my relatives, and my old school friends who live within fifty miles of me. Books I have on kindle are like social media friends. And while I love my social media friends, they don’t occupy the mind space and physical space as people I get together for coffee, walks, and parties.

It’s the same with ebooks. Now, don’t kill me here. I love ebooks. I love the convenience, the ability to have thousands in my account and countless more available at any time or any place. But I don’t “bump” into them the way I do with my paperbacks. They don’t bring back memories, and I don’t pick them up and flip to a bookmark or a crease in the spine or discover a long-forgotten sticky note or bookmark, and they definitely don’t transport me back to when we first met.

Paper books, meanwhile, are like old friends. A couple weeks back, in the throes of decluttering, I kept putting a set of books into a box, then taking them back out and reshelving them, then trying to resolve to give them away. I made excuses for them. They’re yellowed and wrinkled, no one would want them, and I can’t bear to throw them in the garbage. But they’re taking up space! Logically, all these books exist as ebooks. I can simply do as Marie Kondo says: to discard them, knowing that if I ever wanted to read them again, I can buy the ebook or the audiobook.

BUT… here is the big question. Will I remember them?

This particular set of cozy mysteries was written by Carolyn Hart. While flipping through these yellowed paperbacks, I was transported back to my younger days, scouring bookstores to buy her latest Death on Demand mystery. I’ve quite forgotten Max and Annie throughout the years as my reading tastes diverged to romance and suspense thrillers. But because I could not throw away that set of books, I am now reliving the 1980’s by re-reading my Death on Demand stories. I’ve even downloaded the audiobook so I can have it read to me–the font on the old paperback being kind of small for my senior eyes. I’ve rediscovered that series and was so pleased to discover that it is STILL GOING after all these years.

It’s all because I had the paperbacks. A paperback from 30 years ago can remind you of an author you loved and lost touch with. A paperback is like a loyal friend sitting on the shelf winking at you when you walk by, and a paperback is something you can pass on to others. As an author, a paperback is a living reminder to your readers about you. Who knows? Twenty years from now, the reader you have now might rediscover you and be joyously surprised that your series is still going on. Or your paperback has been passed from friend to friend, making you new friends to the farthest corners of the earth.

Now that, is like having a friend for life!

p.s. I have the black covered collector’s hardbacks of the Agatha Christie mystery library [a subscription series] and I’m NOT parting with them. Besides, my daughter has tagged them all already. Agatha is a friend for life and beyond.

What do you think? Do you buy paperbacks of the books and authors you like? Do you keep every autographed paperback of your writer friends? [I do]. Or do you let them go to share and spread the joy?