Monday, June 29, 2015

Six Sexy Second Quarter Reads


So in the end of March, I made a post highlighting my favorite books for the first quarter of the year. Jump HERE to see it. Since I love recommending books to people, I figured I'd try it again. So here's a list of the books I think you should one-click right now! Because good stuff!

There's not an exact order to this list, although you'll notice there are two #1s. And that's because I loved both of them so much! Putting For Real at the top of the post does sort of imply it's my favorite-favorite, although my other favorite, Jackdaw, is so different it's almost impossible to compare the two. In the interest of expediency, I'm calling it a tie. So, without any more blathering, here are my six favorite books for April, May, and June...


1. For Real

This is one of the few books I've read that deals with the topic of BDSM as if real people might be involved in it, and not some class of weird sexual superheroes. For me, For Real is just about the perfect book. There are big ideas and small moments of tenderness, and an absolutely fantastic use of language. The way Alexis Hall weaves in bits of brilliance while keeping the story moving is astonishing. This is a book you could spend hours discussing with your friends - trust me, I have. It's about real people, about challenging expectations, and it's one of the most unique love stories I've ever read.




1. Jackdaw

My other #1 favorite story this quarter was Jackdaw by KJ Charles. It's the fourth book in her Charm of Magpies series, and the only one not to feature Stephen & Crane. They're there, but they're kind of the bad guys, which was fun. While the first three books in the series told a BIG story, with huge stakes and a romance for the ages, Jackdaw had a much narrower focus. This one's about two of the guys who got caught up in the BIG DRAMA from the previous book, how it tore them apart and how they eventually found their way back together.

And oh, you guys, the FEELS in this one. Jackdaw has so much heart, and so much sweetness. Jonah was one of the bad guys in the last book, but he redeems himself - and then some - here. The role-reversal (good to bad/bad to good) won't mean quite as much if you haven't read the other books (so jump HERE to get started with The Magpie Lord) but even without that background, this is an entertaining read.


3. Baked Fresh So this is the second of three books in Annabeth Albert's Portland Heat series, and while they're all good, this one was my favorite. (The other two are Served Hot and Delivered Fast.) I think the reason I liked this one the best was the chemistry between the heroes Vic & Robin, and the sensitive way the author dealt with the subject of homelessness and drug addiction among kids on the street. It's really easy to make an "issues" book feel like a school assignment - something that's good for you, but not all that fun to read - but this story flowed naturally. Vic and Robin are a little bit of an odd couple, but they totally work together, and I was so happy with the way their story unfolded. 




4. On A Lee Shore

I have recommended this book to all kinds of different people. Like YOU. Read it! On a Lee Shore is hands down the best historical I've read this quarter, maybe even this year. It's like they took the movie Master and Commander and made the Russell Crow and Paul Bettany characters gay. The details are gritty and real, and the voice is perfect for the time period. My friend Nan, who has read all the Patrick O'Brien "Master and Commander" novels, seconds my assessment of the voice. Elin Gregory nailed it, and she tells an entertaining story of pirates (and love!) on the high seas.




5. Clear Water

This one came highly recommended from on of the private Facebook pages I hang out on, and I'm SO happy I read it. Last year I read a different book by Amy Lane, and while it was entertaining, it didn't grip me the way Clear Water did. Both Patrick and Whiskey are tremendously sympathetic characters, and their journey to happiness felt real to me. There's a mystery-suspense subplot that worked fairly well, and the resolution ticked all my boxes. I love books that take me out of my regular old world, and this one had me spending lots of time on a houseboat on a hot summer's day. Too fun!





6. Jinn and Juice

Look! A Girl!!

Heh.

Jinn and Juice isn't the only m/f book I read this quarter, but it was absolutely the best! Nicole Peeler is a wizard at creating memorable characters and her dialogue rocks. This is the first in a new series set in Pittsburgh (of all places). Because of the 'first book' thing, there was a fair amount of world building, but it didn't bog the plot down at all, and I loved the way she integrated the setting into elements of the story. You'll have to read it to see what I mean, but this book could ONLY have been set in Pittsburgh. This one's all about the urban fantasy fun, with lots of hot teasing but no actual naughty bits. She's holding out on us for book 2, I guess.

There you have it! Six books that are well worth your reading time. I hope you one-click on at least a couple. Meanwhile, I've already started on next quarter with last nights read of Payback and Vertigo by Jordan Castillo Price. They're the first two books in her Channeling Morpheus series, and so far my only complaint is that I bought Payback as a single book. I didn't realize how short it is, and if you're interested in queer vampires having blazing hot sex, look for the whole five-book set. I guarantee you'll want to keep reading, but spending $2.99 for each book is fairly pricey when you can get all of them for $6.99.

Cheers!
Liv

If you've got a favorite recent read, leave a note in the comments...


I'm infatuated with this cover, ya'll...


Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Fiction - The Ring Toss Pt. 7


A last-minute change lands Mack in a long white dress, but can she commit?



This week's installment gets a little hot, but it'll be hotter if you read the other bits first. Check out Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 -  Part 5 - Part 6 to catch up. 

Mack's been cast to play a bridesmaid in an equity-waiver production of "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", but at the last minute she's upgraded to the role of Brittney, The Bride. It's a tough gig for a woman with a wedding phobia, especially since her boyfriend Joe's not around to talk her off the ledge. In the last snippet, Mack had a little I-miss-Joe moment, gearing up for some bump & grind with Salvatore the Stripper...


The Play – Something Borrowed, Something Blue: A Bachelorette’s Adventure

Director: Dusty Squires
Assistant to the Director: Donald Loudemilk

Cast:
Brittney (the bride): Mackenzie Reed
Mara (the maid of honor): Geneva Louise
Kenley (the bride’s sister): Dusty Squires
Caitlyn (the bridesmaid): Cheyenne Miller
Salvatore (the stripper): Julio Lorenze
Pete (the groom): Julio Lorenze


From the light board, Donald flipped a switch, lowering the disco ball and starting the pulsing techno beat. The stage was done up like the private party room of a nightclub, with black walls, a fat couch, and several low ottomans scattered around. One section of the back wall had a large frame that held sheer, black fabric with flashing lights behind it. That was the window that looked onto the dance floor. Mara and Caitlyn were sitting side by side on the couch while Kenley and I were posed on either side of the window.

Woot! We are ready to par-tay!” Mara bounced up off the couch and started to dance.

Caitlyn raised her glass in my direction. “Hey Brittney, you took your veil off.”

Not okay, Britt. Where is it?” Mara scolded me.

I picked up the oversized clump of white tulle threaded with little flashing white lights from where I'd stuck it on the floor between two of the ottomans, and made a show of putting it back on my head.

“It sucks to be the bride, don’t it?” Kenley laughed as she spoke.

“Yeah… No. It’s cool. Sorry guys, I didn’t mean to take it off. It’s just hot in here.” It was easy to put energy behind that idea, with sweat washing the heavy make-up off my face and running between my breasts. I kept dancing until Mara and Kenley threw significant glances at each other.

Mara came over and put her arm around me. “You’ll be fine, you know.”

“What? The music’s too loud.” I pulled away from her and reached for my drink.
Mara shook her head. “Our buddy Salvatore will be here any minute. He’ll take your mind off your nerves.”

The lights overhead started to strobe, which made Kenley’s reach for my arm look like more of a jerk. She swung me back and forth until we were both doing a weird robotic dance under the flashing lights. 

“Got a meetin’ in the ladies’ room…” Mara sang along with the music.

I had to laugh. “I swear you know the words to every song, Mara.”

 “…think you better watch your man…”

Thankfully the strobe lights stopped, which was our cue Salvatore had walked onstage. When we turned in his direction, he whipped off his black leather trench coat and threw it over the back of the couch. Mara approached him to shake his hand, passing him a small white envelope. He kissed her cheek.

“I’m so glad this worked into your schedule,” she said. “Come meet Brittney.”

Salvatore flipped his long blond hair over his shoulders and gave her a hundred-watt smile. 

“Ta, luv. Happy to be here. Let’s go see the bridey.” They came over to where the rest of us were dancing. “She’s a flasher, ain’t she? Hey, bridey!”

He pulled me close and kissed me on the cheek, a move that definitely wasn't in the script. I stood there, shocked, while he started to rock to the beat. The other girls crowded around us. With a grin, he grabbed Kenley and started rubbing his belly against her. For just a second, I saw Dusty freaking out behind Kenley’s mascara, but then his head came up and he started rubbing back. Salvatore unbuttoned the top of his shirt, his diamond-blue eyes laughing in a way the script hadn’t called for. He'd clearly been holding back in our previous rehearsals.

The girls made a half-circle around Salvatore. When he got his shirt open, he grabbed Caitlyn’s hands. She screamed, sounding a little hysterical as they danced together.

“Oh my God, he’s so handsome.” I was laughing so hard I could barely get the words out. 

Beside me, Mara giggled.

“I knew he’d be your type.”

I hopped up onto one of the ottomans for a little dance fever of my own. The other girls fanned out on either side of me like I was JLo or Madonna onstage with a troop of dancing girls. Salvatore moved into the open space in front of us and started to really go to work. White leather straps crossed his bare chest and slipped down under his jeans. I knew from the tech rehearsal that once the chaps came off, the jeans would come off too, and those leather straps would be the only things holding up a certain white silk bag.

The music shifted to a slower song and, holding his arms above his head, he swung his hips and danced closer to the girls. The sheen of sweat on his chest picked up the colored lights overhead, accenting the hard swell of his pectorals and the curve of his biceps. Gazing out into the room, I smiled because some of our audience members were dancing in the aisles along with us.

“Okay Mara, it’s your turn.” Kenley pushed Mara toward Salvatore.

Mara started a surprisingly risqué dance which Salvatore picked right up on. He planted one leg between her knees and they rocked in time, working lower and lower till she was more-or-less riding his thigh. The rest of us shrieked and hollered and egged them on. At one point Salvatore reached up and brushed his fingertips down my thigh, starting with the bare skin right under the hem of my very-short skirt. The bold suggestion in his gesture lit up the nerve that started in my head and traveled down south of my navel. Things had gotten way out of control. I was glad when the song changed to something a lot faster.

“Now where’s the flashin’ bridey? Ah, there ya are. C’mere and give me a dance.” He reached up for my hand.

“Oh. I don’t think…”

“Get down from there, little sister.” Kenley grabbed my other hand and yanked me off the ottoman.

I followed Salvatore toward the far end of the stage. He started to strip just for me, slowly unbuckling his chaps and throwing them toward the other girls. They screamed and scattered. The song changed again and the beat increased. Salvatore started to move more aggressively.

I pretended to hesitate, watching his hips before moving in synch with him. Salvatore unbuttoned his jeans, deliberately teasing me with each gesture. 

I was onstage and people were watching. Caitlyn and Mara were holding onto each other and squealing, and behind them Kenley was shaking her head as she moved to the beat. Julio was an actor and the action wasn't real, but when that last button popped free, the bottom dropped out of my belly. I'm only human and this guy was a pro.

The script said I was supposed to flirt with him, so I tried. “Hey, handsome. That’s some…um…nice…”

“You’re awful pretty yourself, bridey.” His eyes sparkled and his grin told me he was picking up exactly what I was putting down.

Caitlyn shrieked behind me. “She’s totally grinding him.”

“It’s okay. He’s still got his jeans on.” Mara, acting as the voice of reason.

Salvatore pushed his jeans down farther and rubbed himself against me. I tried to keep my response within the confines of the script, but it was hard not to show too much enthusiasm. The heavy bass beat slowed and he moved back to step out of his jeans. My eyes widened, even though I knew what was coming next.

“You’re just wearing a little baggie.” My voice dropped even lower than normal.

He laughed. “It's a big baggie, luv.”

“Let’s dance.” I tugged off the veil and threw my arms in the air. He came up behind me, close enough for his “baggie” to press against my butt. We were following the script. Mostly.

“You probably do this with all the brides.” As I spoke, a lock of his blond wig stuck to my cheek where I was sweating a little.

“Only the cute ones.”

“I have a thing for blond men.”

“It’s your lucky day, sweets, cuz I have a thing for you.” He pulled me across the stage, farther away from the girls—who were more-or-less dancing with each other.

I dug in my heels as if I was fighting to keep us onstage. “I can’t believe I’m dancing with a naked man.”

“We could stop.”

I shook my head and put a hand on his chest. When Candi had rehearsed the scene, she'd grabbed Salvatore around the waist and just about forced him to kiss her. In real life, she was a single girl between boyfriends. In the back of my mind, a little voice was asking what Joe would think of all of this.

Despite my attempt at restraint, Salvatore still had that wild fire in his eyes, that “oh yeah baby, I'm going to kiss you good” look. I swallowed hard and let him pull me closer, keeping my gaze locked on his. He was hot and buffed and nearly naked. Wow. He leaned in for the kiss.

“No. Oh my God, no.”


I shoved him away and ran offstage.


How can something imaginary cause so much consternation? Mack's got trouble on her hands with this one...
Thanks so much for reading along!
Liv

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Dom for Patti by Elodie Parkes



Here's lots of fun stuff from Elodie Parkes, including a giveaway at the bottom...

Blurb



An erotic romance, with Dom/sub and spanking elements—a contemporary, magical love story.


Background to the story


I wrote a story titled Rescuing Cade published by Evernight in February this year. In that story, Patti, the heroine from a Dom for Patti, is introduced to Cade. They are both visiting The Club, a select BDSM club. Cade is kind to Patti, but his heart already belongs to someone else and after only a few minutes he tells Patti he’s leaving. In that few minutes, he kisses Patti and she feels an instant attraction to him. Unfortunately, lonely Patti is destined not to be with Cade.


I liked Patti a lot and I decided to write her story. It’s an erotic romance with a twist. Patti is hoping for love as well as a handsome Dom to fill her lonely life, when she meets hunky Cameron in The Club, she thinks her luck is looking up … let’s hope so.

Interview with Cameron


1. If you were a dessert, what would you be?


Chocolate ice cream cake with a drizzle of coffee liqueur

2. What is it like being a personal trainer?

I enjoy seeing people achieve their goals and becoming happier with themselves. I travel with them sometimes, if they’re a movie star or model trying to get back into shape, and that can be fun.

3. What do you do when you need to blow off steam?

I own a fitness center with my brother so I work out and sometimes I’ll take off on a rock-climbing spree.

4. What do you look for in a woman?

Gentleness, intelligence, a sense of humor, sexiness, courage, beautiful eloquent eyes

5. What’s your favorite sex toy?

Mmm, let me think for a moment … okay well all kinds of vibrators and lubes are great because I can give my lady more pleasure

6. The blurb for A Dom for Patti mentions spanking, can we expect some in the story and do you enjoy spanking?

(Laughs) I’ve never been spanked per se, although Patti has dared to slap me on the ass as I pass naked, which I loved and had to kiss her loads to reassure her it was okay. I spank her because it makes her wet, but I don’t put my strength behind it. I do it for her to give her pleasure not to hurt. Frankly, I’d be devastated if I hurt her. I cherish her—she’s mine and we both know it, but that means I take care of her.

7. Tell us a little about Patti.

She works in fashion. She’s pretty, small, slender, and fits over my shoulder. (Smiles) She’s sexy, clever, interesting, luscious … let’s stop this before I start craving her kiss.

8. So, this is a love story?

It sure is. It’s hot, sexy, and there’s a journey, but it’s all worth it.


Excerpt


The darkness soothed Patti. The music lifted her spirits and she smiled at the lovely sight of people enjoying each other. She relaxed in the familiar atmosphere and began to wonder why she’d denied herself this pleasure for so long. Happy now, she wandered along to the bar and ordered coffee.

Patti spent a pleasant ten minutes drinking her coffee and talking with the bartender, before a man and woman she’d seen around The Club in the past arrived at the bar. Patti cast a sidelong glance at them before transferring her scrutiny to watching their touches and kisses through the length of mirror along the back of the bar. They were obviously a couple. More than that, they were obviously in love.

Patti left the sight that reminded her of what she desperately wanted and walked along to the end of the room. She stopped in the gloom there and considered going home. She’d shaken her depression and maybe on her next visit she’d find one of the Masters free.

About to move off, instead, Patti turned abruptly. Someone approached from behind and she was suddenly aware she lurked around in the entrance to the corridor that led to the private rooms.
He was closer than she’d anticipated. A hard muscular chest met her, and as she bumped against the man, his arms enclosed her.

Patti looked up into the face of a man she’d never seen before.

His eyes were dark in the gloom. He’d stopped further into the shadows, but the handsome planes of his face were still obvious. A dimple appeared in his left cheek as he smiled.

“Hey, are you okay? I didn’t mean to scare you.” He left his arms around her.

Patti soaked up the contact. She looked at him with interest. “I was deep in thought.”





Buy Links




Bio


Elodie Parkes: Cool Stories - Hot Love Scenes 


Elodie is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal, fantasy, or suspense. Her books are always steamy. Her tag is, Cool stories: Hot love scenes.

Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique shop by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.

Elodie writes for, Evernight Siren Hot Ink Press Eternal Press Secret Cravings

She has also released titles as an individual indie author.

Find Elodie online: Blog  Facebook  FB  Twitter Tsu  Google +  G+ Pinterest  YouTube  Amazon USA  Amazon UK  Manic Readers

Elodie only ever wears boots. (Yes, even in summer) She has three bachelor degrees because she couldn’t make up her mind what she wanted to do, and even then she got two Grad Dips in different subjects, naughty Elodie.

Elodie loves:
Music (her nickname at work is Melody Elodie because she’s often singing), the countryside, the ocean, animals, gorgeous men, technology, art, stockings and garter belts, movies, and potatoes, in any order. Elodie is addicted to black leather jackets, and faded jeans, and owns so many she’s ashamed to count them.


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Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Fiction - The Ring Toss Pt. 6


A last-minute change lands Mack in a long white dress, but can she commit?


And now we're at Week 5! If you're just stumbling over this story, you can check out Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 to catch up. 

Mack's been cast to play a bridesmaid in an equity-waiver production of "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", but at the last minute she's upgraded to the role of Brittney, The Bride. It's a tough gig for a woman with a wedding phobia, especially since her boyfriend Joe's not around to talk her off the ledge. In the last snippet, Mack and her bridesmaids were off to meet the male stripper, though some of her costars were a little weird off-stage...


The Play – Something Borrowed, Something Blue: A Bachelorette’s Adventure

Director: Dusty Squires
Assistant to the Director: Donald Loudemilk

Cast:
Brittney (the bride): Mackenzie Reed
Mara (the maid of honor): Geneva Louise
Kenley (the bride’s sister): Dusty Squires
Caitlyn (the bridesmaid): Cheyenne Miller
Salvatore (the stripper): Julio Lorenze
Pete (the groom): Julio Lorenze


Dusty patted my shoulder as he passed me on his way offstage. I wasn’t sure if he meant the gesture as praise or sympathy. With no time to prepare for the role, I was pretty much happy I got the lines in the right order, let alone found ways to create a character. I’d get to know Brittney better, finding her quirks and what made her tick, after the rehearsal was over. 

I needed a beer and some sleep first.  For right now, it was pretty much like riding Class Five rapids, with speed and adrenaline surges and maybe a splashdown or two.

Cheyenne stopped when the door to Dusty’s office closed and I almost ran into her. She was lowering the zipper that ran up the front of her leather dress. One of the tricks she used was to unzip little by little as the show went on, changing her appearance from sophisticated to slutty. I slipped around her as she stared at the director’s door, adjusting her boobs to maximum cleavage for the next act. Dusty was going to be in trouble.

Back in the dressing room, I all but ran to see if there was a text from Joe. We’d started dating in college then separated for eight years when he moved to L.A. Now here I was, an independent thirty-something woman and a hot mess after two weeks apart. I couldn’t imagine how I’d survived all that time alone in Seattle.

It wasn’t just that he looked like a cross between Robert Downey, Jr. and Collin Farrell. He got me. He saw who I was and who I could be, and I loved him for it.

I know you're rockin' the bachelorette action.

Smiling, I sent him back a text saying at least I hadn't bungled any lines.

Donald popped in with his clipboard a couple of times. Beads of sweat speckled his bald scalp. He had to be just as hot out front as we were back here. The rest of us kept ourselves busy while we waited. Geneva was checking emails on her cell phone and Cheyenne was brushing out her hair. Again. Everyone took advantage of the brief downtime to filter the earlier scenes and check our plans for the next few. Except for me, whose only plan was to keep on winging it.

And when I get home, I'm going to give you something else to rock.

Oh yeah, that's what I’m talking about. I quickly typed in a message. We’re going to have to make up for lost time, dude. I might charge interest. I hit ‘send’ with a smile on my face.

Nerves were a bigger issue for me now than during the opening scenes, because the upcoming action was designed to spread Brittney’s insecurities all across the stage and, sadly, Brittney’s insecurities lined up awfully close to my own. It wasn’t just that Julio ended his big dance number wearing not much more than a pair of white chaps and a little satin bag—although that wasn’t going to help. If Joe was here he’d say something wise or funny and it would be perfect and perfectly helpful, or he’d keep his mouth shut and just wrap his arms around me until I wasn’t scared any more. And I wouldn’t look twice at Julio and his…bag.

Except Joe was in New Orleans, probably wrapping up the day with a cold one and some good music. He’d be hanging out with other actors and some of them would be pretty girls. Heck, he probably didn’t need to go far to find an attractive woman in New Orleans. Okay, that was not a constructive line of thinking. The phone chirped again.

Missing my girl.

And I was missing my guy. I should just grow a pair and ask him to marry me. I already knew his answer and it was a good one. I just hadn’t wanted to get married before. A swirl of watercolor blue caught my eye.

“You’re going to be awesome as a bride,” Geneva whispered, referring to the final scene when Brittney and Pete got married. At least, I thought that’s what she was referring to.

“Bite me,” I said soundlessly, hoping she could read lips.

She chuckled quietly and wandered off.

Cheyenne turned away from the mirror. “Where I grew up, we called single women your age ‘cat ladies’.” Her voice was a shade loud for a whisper and her smile wasn’t entirely friendly.


I suddenly couldn’t remember why I liked Cheyenne. I stared at her ‛til she went back to brushing her hair. It’s funny what happens to people under pressure. Cheyenne was showing her bitchy streak and I was hot and sweaty and my stupid dress wanted to stick in awkward places. Out of patience, I pulled myself to standing and tugged the dress back down over my butt before stalking off to the bathroom.



And next week....dancing with Salvatore the Stripper...really not something you can miss, right? Jump HERE to see what happens next!
Cheers!
Liv

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

California Sunrise by Casey Dawes

California Sunrise release day

Book Blitz

California Sunrise Cover - new

Book Title: California Sunrise Author: Casey Dawes Genre: Contemporary Romance Release Date: June 15, 2015 Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions


Goodreads Button with Shadow



Book Blurb



Alicia’s son, Luis, may be suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, but he’s too young for a definitive answer. She’s struggling with his care, holding down a job, and going to school. All she wants is a chance to stand on her own two feet.

Dr. Raul Mendez lost everything at sixteen when the rest of his non-US-citizen family was deported. In spite of depression that has dogged his life, he’s managed to become a pediatrician with a specialty in childhood development. Alicia brings something special into his life, but their opposing points of view may keep them from ever finding love.



excerpt


Raúl pushed open the door to the examining room. The petite woman standing by the child on the examining table turned. The strong bones of her face, full lips, and dark eyes matched the structure of her body. Attractive. Not that he was looking for anyone right now.

“Are you Dr. Mendez?” she asked.

 “Sí. And you are”—he checked the chart—“Alicia Fuentes.”

The boy on the table squirmed and let out a howl. Raúl glanced back at the chart. No medical problem stood out, but the young woman had been to several doctors, including specialists at Stanford. Was it some type of Munchausen syndrome, or was there a legitimate illness? “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.

 “Luis is difficult.”

He was tempted to tell her all children were difficult, but the set of her jaw stopped him short. “In what way?” He leaned back against the counter, his interest piqued by what she might have to say. If the child wasn’t simply a fussy baby, it might be a chance to increase his behavioral development experience.

“He mixes up his days—sleeps during the day and wants to be up all night. He’s a fussy eater. I practically have to hand-feed him. He doesn’t seem to sit up well. And temper tantrums! I know all children have them, but his seem worse than other kids’. My grandmother says she’s never seen anything like it.” Snapping her mouth shut, she stared at him, as if defying him to tell her there was nothing wrong, that her child was normal.

In that instant, he knew there wasn’t anything normal about Luis. Although he hadn’t seen a wedding ring, he asked the question anyway. “How is he with his father?”

“I’m a single mom.” Her chin went up. “He never sees his father.”

A too common answer. His heart crinkled with sadness for her and anger at the boy’s father. “He has no contact with his son?”

“No.”

The finality in her voice warned him not to pursue the subject.

He ignored the warning.

“It must be very difficult for you, especially so young.”


“I’m eighteen.” She made her age sound as if she were in her mid-thirties.

He hid a smile. “The baby is twelve months, correct? What have the other doctors told you?”

 “They don’t know what’s wrong. He’s too young for certain tests. They can’t help me.” Defeat crept into her words, and her shoulders slumped, but then she rallied and looked him straight in the eye. “I’m told you can."

 He hoped her confidence wasn’t misplaced. “Why don’t you take a seat, and I’ll take a look at your son?”

“Do you have children, Dr. Mendez?” She moved toward the chair but didn’t sit.

“Me? No. I’ve never been married.”

“Brothers and sisters?”

“Yes. Older brothers. Why do you ask?”

“It seems odd for a single man to be a pediatrician.”

“Like many of us, I come from a large, extended family. Lots of cousins. Lots of different problems—some the normal hazards of being a kid, some brought on by poverty. Giving kids a healthy start is a way to help our people.” He looked down at Luis and put his stethoscope in his ears. “Now let’s see what’s up with you, little man.”



Meet the Author


Casey Dawes has lived a varied life--some by choice, some by circumstance. Her master’s degree in theater didn’t prepare her for anything practical, so she’s been a teacher, stage hand, secretary, database guru, manager in Corporate America, business coach, and writer.
With a few marriages, two sons, and three step-children, her personal life was a challenge when she met and married her current husband who has proved to be the love of her life. They reside in Montana where she quilts, writes, and coaches on the banks of the Clark Fork River. The couple has been adopted by two gently used cats.


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