HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
By: Diana Castilleja
Published By: Tease Publishing LLC
ISBN # 978-1-60767-081-0
Word Count: 69,000
Brooke Aiza has returned home after staying with her Aunt Jerry for more than a year to learn she's an aunt herself by her brother, and her sister is married! Overwhelmed by the changes taking place with her siblings, she begins to feel more than a familial affection for her new brother-in-law, and sees no escape except to put distance between them until she leaves for her parent's home.
Mitch isn't interested in any woman, content with his life. Mostly. Even his brother senses a restlessness building within him, but for what? Then when Mitch suffers a major accident, he and Brooke are all but confined to the same house, and he is left trying to remember why he didn't want anything to do with women. Because the more he sees of her, the more he needs her kiss.
The resurgance of an amulet into the sibling's lives changes everything, for the amulet can control them all. It will take two to destroy the evil stalking the Aiza family, and if Mitch refuses to face his feelings and Brooke can't overcome her hesitations to form a deeper trust, the opening of the gates of Hell could be the result.
“He’s beautiful, Delilah,” Brooke said, leaning over the tinted wood crib where her six month-old nephew slept without a care in the world. A disorderly wave of black hair flowed over his head. The baby resembled a sweet cherub in his fluffy white jumper. Brooke’s first thought was looks could be deceiving, knowing what kind of child her older brother had been. All four of the brothers and sisters had some story to scare their mother gray. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here for the big moment.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Delilah replied. Standing several inches shorter than the new mama, Brooke peered up at her sister-in-law. “Roman kept himself together long enough to get me to the hospital. Then,” Delilah said with remembered humor, her eyes twinkling, “he had my permission to fall apart.”
Brooke’s finger drifted to smooth the rich cap of hair covering Adrian’s crown. The sensation reminded her of soft down, silken and delicate. Her brother and his wife were a very lucky and blessed couple. Brooke asked curiously, “There weren’t any problems at the hospital, then?”
Delilah shook her head. “The blood samples didn’t show anything.”
Brooke exhaled in quiet relief. “I’ve always wondered. We were born at home, and needless to say, we stay away from doctors and needles and avid curiosity.”
Sunshine brightened the baby’s room from the large windows flanking the outer wall, washing the room in light and warmth. The room was filled with an impossible-to-miss gentle happiness making Brooke’s own urges seem to be right in front of her.
“From what I can tell, talking to your Dad and Roman, the changes happen after puberty. Isn’t that when you started training for it?”
Brooke stepped back from the crib where she’d been admiring her nephew. Delilah draped a thin blanket over the baby for his nap. “Yeah. It sounds right. I guess we’re a little spoiled with Selene in the family. Our own doctor.”
“Sure doesn’t hurt anything, that’s for sure,” Delilah remarked with an answering smirk. “Speaking of the dynamic duo, are they back yet?” Delilah asked as they left the baby’s room, walking into the living room together.
“No. St. Marten doesn’t have a prayer. Something else I missed while I was in Belgium with Aunt Jerry—their wedding,” Brooke replied with a regretful sigh. “I swear, if she hadn’t needed me so much, I would have been here in a heartbeat. Their wedding and Adrian’s wonderful arrival.”
“I have pictures. Do you want to see them?” Delilah offered.
“I’d love to.”
Brooke was amazed at the woman Roman had found for his wife. Delilah was a gracious, generous woman. She stood inches taller than Brooke and looked fabulous for recently having had a baby. Brooke had noticed her blue eyes first, a shade darker than sky blue. They were beautiful framed by her black hair. What shocked Brooke more was Delilah had taken their family secret and had made it her own.
When Brooke arrived the day before in Oregon, intent on finding her sister, she’d discovered Selene was on her honeymoon. Being out of the country had put Brooke out of contact with the rest of the family, and she’d missed all the good stuff. After calling Morgan and Roman, Brooke came to crash with Roman in Wyoming first. Plus, she got to see her first nephew. Dead asleep, he was a charmer.
“I’m sure once they get back, Selene will be only too happy to tell you about Bram.” Delilah turned the photo pages at a slow pace. “He’s exactly what that doctor needed,” she told Brooke with amusement.
“Is that him?” Brooke asked, examining a picture of a tall man in a tuxedo.
“That’s him. Not bad for a doctor,” Delilah said smiling in apparent memory of the wedding, her fingers dancing over the various pictures. “Really nice guy too.”
“I’m sure he is if Selene found him. She’s very gentle,” Brooke said.
Delilah’s brow flickered in surprise. “Gentle? Her?” She laughed again, but not unkindly. “Your sister will face anything. That doesn’t equate to gentle with me.”
“Reminds me of someone, but I wonder who?” Roman’s teasing bass made the women snap up from the picture album on Delilah’s lap. “Hi, Babs.” He leaned down and gave Delilah a quick kiss. “Hello, beautiful,” Roman purred.
Brooke giggled behind tight lips. It was good seeing her brother so in love. “Hi, Roman. Get everything in town?” Brooke asked as he straightened from kissing Delilah. Married life and fatherhood agreed with him, if his adoring expression was anything to believe.
“Yeah, I’ll have Adrian’s playground done in no time,” he informed them.
Delilah rolled her eyes. “Roman, he can barely roll over.”
“That’s why I’m starting now. I might have it done by the time he graduates,” he said, laughing with a rich, happy sound. He ran a hand over his midnight black hair, disturbing the thickness with his absent gesture. “I’ll be around back. Just holler if you need me.”
“All right,” Delilah replied.
Brooke continued to peruse the photos in the packed album. Selene’s wedding had been beautiful. Her dress flowed like a mythical creation of satin, lace and sheer gauze that sparkled as though it were sewn from the stars, glinting in the daylight. She had been a stunning bride.
Brooke struggled with her own fears with both her sister’s and brother’s happiness so right in front of her. Two down, two to go.
“She was gorgeous, wasn’t she?” Brooke managed to say through a raw throat a moment later.
“Yeah.” Delilah sighed. “Your parents have the most incredible house. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all of you married there.”
Brooke shook her head regretfully. “I doubt it. Morgan probably, he’s still gorgeous. Especially with those eyes. Me…” she told her wistfully. “I’m an old maid. Thirty-one sucks.”
Side by side, Delilah bumped Brooke’s shoulder with her own. “Hey, I hit thirty this year.”
“Nice try. You’re hitched and a new mom,” Brooke pointed out. “But it’s not a big deal. I’m not trying. Selene found Bram on the trails by chance when she was studying. That was fate with a capital F. The closest I get to a male form is the checkout boy at my grocery store.”
Delilah stared at Brooke, a concerned frown cinching her brow. “Brooke, I haven’t known you long, but is there something you want to talk about?”
Brooke covered up her lonely misery with a rush of words. “Just the usual. I’m over thirty. I feel that urge. I’m lonely. I’m surrounded by people who’ve found what I feel I’m missing.” Brooke drew a deep, steadying breath. No sense in being maudlin this early in her visit. “Sorry, I’ve been on a pity party for over a month now. I don’t know why,” she explained sheepishly.
Delilah leaned toward her. “Would you be offended if I looked? Maybe I could see something on the horizon for you.”
Brooke openly studied the guilelessness in the brunette’s blue gaze. “A week ago, I’d have jumped at the chance. For some reason, being home messes with me. Thanks, but no. I’ll take my lumps like a big girl.”
Delilah offered an understanding smile. “I know. It’s hard, and you’ve got a lot to catch up on.” Delilah’s attention shifted toward the nursery when Adrian began to cry. “Here, look some more. Let me go see what the prince is upset about.”
Brooke moved the album over to her lap as Delilah swept from the couch and aimed for her son’s room. There were pictures of her parents and the house where Brooke and the others had been raised. In Brooke’s mind, there was nothing like Northern Minnesota, beautiful with trees and unbelievable snow falls during the cold winters. Christmas times had been a blast with snowball fights and sledding to die for. There were pictures of Roman and Delilah, with Adrian bundled up like a miniature snowman in a cute powder blue outfit in their arms. Delilah appeared almost normal in height compared to Roman, and Roman’s expression was absolutely, gloriously, happy in the picture.
There were more photos of Selene, her blonde hair curled at the ends, standing with people, or standing alone holding a huge bouquet of tiger lilies. Brooke’s finger traced the photo. She flipped the page slowly, regretfully. She was really sorry she had missed it.
The next photo she found was of Selene and Bram. He was a very handsome guy. Thick brown hair and an aura of happiness in every picture. They were a perfect match also. Brooke could almost feel the strength of their bond in the picture at her fingertips. The way he held her close, a possessive and protective hand on her slim waist. There were a few photos of when Delilah had captured him unaware, with an adoring gaze, staring down at her sister. The blatant ease of his emotions brought up that poignant ache in her one more time. Alone, it was harder to dismiss the nagging emptiness to the background of her mind.
Where was her mate? When was she going to find the man who would hold her and cherish her? Brooke felt so old.
snitched from my overstuffed bookshelf
Once upon a time there lived a king.
The king had a beautiful daughter,
But there was a problem. Everything the princess touched would melt.
No matter what;
Anything she touched would melt.
Because of this, men were afraid of her. Nobody would dare marry her.
The king despaired. What could he do to help his daughter?
He consulted his wizards and magicians. One wizard told the king,
'If your daughter touches one thing that does not melt in her hands, she will be cured.'
The king was overjoyed and came up with a plan.
The next day, he held a competition. Any man that could bring his daughter an object that would not melt would marry her and inherit the king's wealth..
THREE YOUNG PRINCES TOOK UP THE CHALLENGE.
The first brought a sword of the finest steel.
But alas, when the princess touched it, it melted.
The prince went away sadly .
The second prince brought diamonds.
He thought diamonds are the hardest substance in the world and would not melt.
But alas, once the princess touched them, they melted.
He too was sent away disappointed.
The third prince approached. He told the princess,
'Put your hand in my pocket and feel what is in there.'
The princess did as she was told, though she turned red .
She felt something hard. She held it in her hand.
And it did not melt!!!
The king was overjoyed. Everybody in the kingdom was overjoyed. And the third prince married the princess and they both lived happily ever after.
Question: What was in the prince's pants?
M&M's of course.
They melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
What were you thinking??
YOU THINK I HAVE A DIRTY MIND!
It's almost over. November. The ugliest month of the year--this year at least. As of the writing of this post, we still haven't closed on our home, even though it has been empty and waiting for us since the 7th. Yeah, a solid three weeks and we're still waiting on the mortgage company to get their act together. With the holiday this week, we won't be closing this week either. I guess that's a bit of relief, but it really puts me in a bad place to get the rental cleaned and turned back over, not that they care. They get paid their forty and they're done. I've worked in mortgage, finance and title, more than ten years combined experience so... I'm not surprised it's taking so long, but daaaaammn people... *deep breath*
Soon... I keep telling myself. Soon.
The last of my November releases are also done so that just leaves two for December. One ebook and the print of Unbound Trust. Woot! Yet, I'm thankful that I did have so much to do this month. It kept me busy. I've just gotten to the point where I have a permanent headache because of it.
Which brings me to December. A huge relief, because I am officially out for a month. I'll give you a minute to get back into your chair after that shocker. But it's true. I "disappear" from the beginning of December until after the New Year. Well, sorta. I mean, I'm still here, still writing and generally still reachable, but I purposely take time away from the computer to recharge. I read a lot, get some of the shopping done. Just in general relax to start it all again next year.
I'll have more coming through the end of the year, but with this fiasco with the house, I seriously need to take a break. So that being said... *poof*
| Word Count: 69,000 |
Available in: Adobe AcrobatPrice: $3.99
This week is pretty simple. I'm covering the Fall Book Fair at the boy's elementary school. This makes my fifth semester to volunteer and I love doing it. I thought I'd share a few shots I managed (thankfully the camera actually worked).
This is the display before the kid invasion. By the end of the week, there will be huge gaping holes of complete sell-outs, which is wonderful. We have a very reader intense population at this school. Note the Star Wars signage. Huge with the kids.
For the younger sprouts there's the picture books, with some darling titles, new and old. Puff the Magic Dragon, Spongebob and Dora. A lot of them are educational fun reads too, like the Birds book on the corner, and a reptile book about snakes with live-shot photographs. Creepy stuff, but the kids eat it up!
I took a picture of this one because I thought the cover was cool. And here is a huge table of hardcover storybooks. These make great teacher gifts because they hold up.
Aside from myself, there's other volunteers. This is Julie. Her son also goes to karate with the boy, so it's fun to see her at the Book Fairs. :)
Mrs. Fisher is one of the Librarian's at the school, and a real sweetheart. She makes the library fun, even for the adults. This parent was there bright and early, picking up a goody for their kiddo. So if your school does a book fair, I highly recommend volunteering for the week or even just a day or two. It's a crazy hectic fun time spent with the kids and it really help encourage their love of reading to see adults they know there too.
| Word Count: 69,000 |
Available in: Adobe AcrobatPrice: $3.99
"You're family. Family is everything to the Aiza clan," she stated.
"Is that why you agreed to stay here with me?"
Her gaze flickered away, cooling to two dark pools. Those coffee brown orbs were enigmatic, bewitching. Mitch knew of no one else with eyes like them.
"Mostly. The rest of it is personal and very boring."
"So far, your family is not boring. I doubt you are," he told her honestly. "I know you are not boring," he clarified quietly. Her chin lifted, bringing her up to his searching gaze, her mysterious depths grabbing his thoughts. Mitch wanted to lean forward, to be closer, touching her. He felt a surge of wanting when she licked her lips, felt it in his groin as heat pooled. The need to feel her lips against his own was so strong, a fire in his blood. Forcing his body to relax, he managed to stay right where he was. Why did he feel so drawn to her?
Her attention returned fully to him. "Have you heard from Roman?" She glanced at his laptop under the phone table.
Regaining his composure, he replied, "No, I haven't checked."
"I'll be right back, if you want some privacy," she offered and glided down the hall to the restroom. What was the saying? She looked beautiful walking up and even better walking away? It may not happen today, but he was going to get another kiss. He had to. The fact that he couldn't explain the first one just didn't seem to be deterrent enough.
(For my readers who buy and read any book, print or ebook legitimately, I LOVE YOU! This is not aimed at any of you. There is a growing problem out there that is forcing authors to stop writing because of lost income. If you believe theft is wrong, please visit this page http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/fightebookpiracy?e and sign.)
Well, it happened.
My first book was pirated. I guess I should be grateful that it took this long. I mean, it's not like I need the money to buy bread or anything (Yes, that's sarcasm. My book royalties have pulled us out of the fire a couple times this year, but thanks to the pirates... eh. I'm screaming at walls.)
You know, we should all just steal everything. Farmers can steal gas to plow, we can steal food, and hey, the banks won't care if we don't pay mortgages, right?
Nooo? Oh. you mean, because you know that is wrong?
But pirates (lets lump 'em all together shall we--music, movie and book) don't have a care in the world when it comes to stealing intangible property, especially if it's a file on the internet. There are thousands of requests on hundreds of forums for FREE stolen books that they want to share, so long as someone posts it first for free. Well, see here's the deal. Books, like music (and movies even though you don't want to hear it) aren't sharable in digital formats. You can't scan a print one either and say it's free, because like rabbits, those copies multiply. There's also this little legal law called a copyright but pirates, even though they steal books (et al) to read, these same thieves can't read a copyright law and understand it. I know! They must be stupider than dust bunnies.
Before I go getting insulting, because it's tempting, all I'm going to say is if you want it, go to the library, the used bookstore, but for shit's sake people, let me feed my kid. BUY the books you read. PAY for them legally. There are no rich writers anymore. The economy drove that line into a sandbar below sea level. The average pay on royalty for a PRINT BOOK (listening?) is 8% AFTER COST. I'd ask the pirates to do the math, but since their intelligence is in question...
But for some reason I can't fathom, pirates (ha! Get the joke?) just don't care that they are stealing not only our property, but our right to a livelihood. A right to EARN a living, because they deign to give it away for free FOR us? How nice of them... (Yes that's more sarcasm.)
So while someone is downloading a book they may not (but probably do) know is illegal, that's two (or thousands of) book sales that would result in royalties that could have bought bread, or milk, or gas when I really needed it. But you know, my world means nothing to them, so when there's no more books to steal worth reading, it'll be their fault, because writers, any creative person will quit when they have no choice. The government doesn't care if they have books. They're cutting library funding like a bad salami. Schools while they need them, can't afford them. And hey, half of America is already illiterate, why keep writing at all?
It's really no better than walking down the street and getting mugged. Only when it comes to downloaded property, it happens tens to hundreds of times A DAY.
Hope you don't get mugged on your walk to work tomorrow. It's a suckass feeling.
“This is going to be a very difficult assignment.”
Micah shrugged, feeling confident in his ability.
Aria’s gaze cooled a little. “Don’t be overly assured of success on this one, Micah. It is the Christmas season on Earth. The hardest time of the year for us, for those who lose faith.”
There was a moment’s concern, brought on more by Aria’s caution than his one misgiving about the time of the year. Earth hadn’t changed in millennia. People were the same regardless of creed, sex, or religion. He reacted with humans as they saw him, as their beliefs allowed. Sometimes he stayed invisible, sometimes not. He’d become very good at reading the necessity and nudging the proper outcome for the individual. At one time, his commanders would have called him cocky. Now, he was simply confident.
Humans all desired. They all loved, and hated. Many lost their way, and some simply quit. Those souls didn’t make it to the gates, if they chose that path. It was a sad occurrence, but he’d realized some time ago that he couldn’t help them all. Those souls didn’t become angels, but it was his honor to aid the others as best as he could. So far, he had a near perfect track record. Even young angels make mistakes.
He wasn’t young anymore, which was why he anticipated this assignment with eagerness.
When he was granted his wings, he’d be the mentor, he’d write in the tome, and call on his fellow angels to help those who needed it most. It wasn’t power, as he once had craved. It was time to pass on what he had learned.
“I do not fear Christmas,” he said. “It is the best time of the year.”
Aria tilted her chin in a thoughtful silence. “I hope in this case, your assessment helps the lady in question.”
Lovely! He almost cheered. Women’s wishes were by far easier to aid as they rarely fell into materialistic wants. Some did, of course, but women were emotional creatures. They wanted warmth, caring, tenderness. His time traveling back and forth over the centuries gave him quite an advantage.
“Are you ready?” she asked. There wasn’t any need to instruct him, as she once had. He was an experienced angel of mercy. Aria had been a patient and thorough teacher.
“I await my assignment with an open heart.”
She lifted a hand over the hovering tome, and it slowly spun until Micah could also read it.
Silence stretched as he read.
“If you do not think you can help this one…” Aria said, disturbing Micah’s second read through. There was no anger or disappointment. Not every angel could help every case.
“No, no. Why would you think that?” he quickly asked, hiding the swell of doubt he felt, for the first time. This one was not going to be easy.
Her gentle tones floated on the sunbeams around them. “I ask because you were frowning.”
He glanced up and caught her stare. Simply patient. A single ‘oh’ was all he could give her in answer. Aria did not lie.
Micah squared his shoulders. “I accept.” He pushed away the niggle of doubt that sat on his shoulders. He had been asked to help for a reason. He could not fail this one.
For the first time since he’d been serving the heavens, he questioned how humanity continued with such wounded souls walking the Earth. And how those who harmed so deeply could still walk free. Aria’s expression was blank, merely accepting his decision, then she nodded and offered a small smile of warmth, blessing him for his choice. It was not out of arrogance that he’d chosen to help this wounded soul, but because he knew he had been asked for a reason. He would help her, heal her, prepared for the coming moments or days as much as he could be. Standing straight, he waited.
In a flash of light, Aria and the tome disappeared, and Micah was swept down to Earth to give his aid to this lady who had, indeed, suffered.
Okay, I've made a few realizations. One, Kodak will never make a fortune off of me. I'm not a camera junkie. I took like two pictures and both are too dark to see. Second, I love meeting other authors and readers. I went total *squee**fan girl* over a few (you know who you are). Third, I'm going to make this my annual Get The Hell Out Of Dodge trip. Seriously. It was a fast weekend, but it was sooo much fun. So expect to see me again next year, because I'm going to be there.
There are some awesome photo albums out there already. One can be found on Kim's FB page, here, and they're all tagged too. She did a great job getting a bunch of us. Let me see if I can name everyone I got to meet for the first time.... *deep breath*
Teresa Noelle Roberts
Stella and Audra Price (and the happy ninja! LOL!)
Jo Lynne Valerie
I also got to reconnect with Cathy Clamp of 'Sazi fame. :) My roomie was Linda Mooney, and all three of us are Texas gals! Now there was some southern fun!
Now don't you wish you could've been there? Guess what? We're doing it again next year! It'll be bigger and better and so much fun! You know you want to do it. So start planning now.
Why? Well here's the real reason: It's a chance to escape! Seriously, it was the first weekend I've had to myself in two years. I got to leave it all behind for a few days and I'm already ready to do it again. The food was awesome! There was a great party Saturday night and some really awesome panels (I did three). There were prizes galore, books, baskets, bags, candles, bath sets, stuffed animals, perfumes, chocolate, jewelry... And this was all to win or be drawn for door prizes!!! There were a ton of free books and the bookstore, which I was a total bad girl at. AND it's so much cheaper than just about anything and everything else out there.
So start planning on it (tentative dates are late September 2010, Thurs-Sun. See? It was so much fun we're adding a day!!). I'm going to be there. Are you?
I know, batten down the hatches, it's gonna be a wild and crazy time!
New York, here I come. Now quit screaming! I'm not that bad, usually *wink*. I'll be with my writer friends for the Authors After Dark Reader Con in Suffren New York. I'm going to be taking my camera, so I should have some eviden... I mean good pictures to post after the weekend. *evil* There's going to be costumes and ice cream, great food, great books, ice cream, events and panels, more authors than you know what to do with...and did I mention the ice cream? *VBG*
Okay, so while it may look like a great vacation, it's going to be two and half days of constant motion with enough time to pass out in between for a few hours. I plan on sleeping the whole ride back if that tells you anything, and it's a four hour plane trip!
So I want all you guys to hang out, and behave, or at least pretend to behave and I'll share what I can (Can't give out all the good secrets, y'know) when I get home.