A Christmas Memory

It was Christmas 1980-something and one of my fondest childhood memories is the one where  I was making a snowman with my uncle Alan. Outside, we had lots of snow and it was the perfect amount for the biggest snowman ever.

I don’t recall much of that cold snowy evening. All I do remember was the laughter and the joy of the moment. I think that is the most important part. My uncle had created a precious memory for me.

Life is too short to focus on the negative stuff. As adults, we sometimes forget about having old fashion fun. We forget about laughing and living in the moment. We must reach deep within ourselves and bring out that child who is in each and all of us. She or he is there. Just let them out.

This holiday season, I hope you find joy and have lots of fun. Watch that crazy Christmas movie, listen to the fun songs, sing, laugh, make some awesome memories that will stay with you forever.

Happy Christmas!

Jackie

 

 

 

 

 

Mickey-Mouse-Christmas-christmas-2735426-500-375

Winter Wonderland Forum Hop

Happy December!

I’m participating in Coffeetime Romance’s Winter Wonderland Forum Hop.

Love to read? Love to win prizes? Looking for some new reads for your holiday vacation, or to give as gifts?

Come join me today until December 15th 2015 and get your chance to win some of me ebooks and some neovintage jewelry(created by yours truly)!

http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/showthread.php?t=32765

Hope to see you there!

Jackie

New book release dates!

Happy Monday!

I’m happy to announce new tentative dates for my books! All my books published with Secret Cravings Publishing have found new homes. The re-release of my babies will happen in 2016.

Here are the dates(by publisher):

Beachwalk Press

On His Honor: 01/18/16

Hidden Desire: 02/15/16

Klondike Winter: 03/21/16


Resplendence Publishing

Forever Yours: 03/02/16

Colliding Hearts: 04/20/16

A Soldier’s Vow: 06/01/16

My Favorite Things to do in October

Happy October!

Hello-October-Photography-1

On this cool autumn day, I would like to share with you my top 10 favorite things to do this month.

  1. Baking with apples. 
  2. Decorate my front porch.
  3. Halloween.
  4. Walking in the woods.autumn 2images
  5. Cuddling with my lovebug.
  6. Jewelry making.
  7. Working on my new romance novel.
  8. Crafting.
  9. Wearing my comfy sweater.
  10. Sitting in front of a pit fire and watching the stars.

What are your favorite things to do this month? Please feel free to share with me. Bonus: A lucky participant will win one of my Ebooks. All you need to do is comment, share and like this post. Draw will be held at random on October 31st 2015.

Best of luck to all!

New Home for My Books!

Hello everyone!

Today, I would like to share with you some awesome news. Beachwalk Press has agreed to republish three of my “babies” : Hidden Desire, Klondike Winter and On His Honor.

The publication dates are to be determined, and I will let you know.

As for my other books previously published, my new publisher will put them aside for now. The time periods do not fit into their categories. But that’s fine with me. I can always look for another publisher for these ones. One criteria I look for in a publisher is they must have the print option. I like feeling books in my hands. I’m old-fashioned.

Finding a publisher isn’t an easy task. As a writer, you want to find the best publication company. For me, since I decided to be an independent author, I like smaller publishers. Of course, I have learned my lesson with the first two publishers with whom I signed. When I found SCP, I had not only became a better writer, but I have also found a support group composed of awesome people and writers.

I hope my partnership with Beachwalk Press will be as fulfilling as the one I had with SCP.

For now, I sign the paperwork and wait.

Guest Author Spot: Judith Kammeraad

Today, I would like to introduce to you the lovely Judith Kammeraad.

Judith Kammeraad grew up a good girl as a preacher­teacher­author’s child. A fecund imagination served as a survival tool. Making up stories was almost involuntary to a lonely girl who moved to various countries and states. Books were her friends, story­telling her calling, and words the best fun ever.

She married her high school sweetheart, who brought out her naughty side at last. The Kammeraads settled down in Michigan and raised two daughters as creative as their mom, encouraging them to embrace their inner quirkiness. Judith devoted herself to a teaching career and created her stories and poems on the side.

These days the Kammeraads and their talented sheltie live in Florida near their six grandchildren, who inspire stories about the vivid minds of children. In a secret life she writes sweaty novels that break hearts and warm the spirit. And keep her laughing and crying all day. Look for shelties and children in all her stories.

Visit Judith at judithkammeraad.com

****************************************

Teach Me Too

Blurb

TeachMeToo_fullres (2)Angry students assault Lyla Grey at school and put an end to her career. She heads to Citrus County,  Florida for a new life as governess on an orange and alpaca ranch. She recovers her professional confidence quickly, but rebuilding her personal life is out of the question. What is she supposed to do with a libido on overdrive and a dread of…the scary part of men?

Even so, sweet, yummy looking Mark DuPree keeps her on a slow burn with his hungry, sad green eyes. He’s lost in running the ranch and dealing with vandalism, lifelong feuds, and his anger junkie father. She can’t seem to walk away from her loin­wrenching arguments with Mark.

Lyla learns that everyone needs healing. Tending to the tattered emotions of those worse off than she gobbles up her obsession with herself. Will Lyla experience the empowerment that comes from unselfish love? And will Mark help her overcome her past and teach her there’s nothing scary about loving after all?

Genre: Erotic romance/Romantic suspense

Teach Me Too /Excerpts

Sept. 2015

Excerpt 1

Balancing

Lyla slept well, with no bloody closets or rampaging villains. In fact, if not for Romeo singing at her door, she might have overslept and embarrassed herself. As she stretched, she heard the children downstairs, bickering together and jabbering with Mattie in the kitchen. She wanted to run down and hug them both. “Oh, my,” she murmured, “I wish they were mine. I love them already.” Lyla’s heart turned over when she said the L-word. It burrowed into her heart like a worm before she saw it coming.

She tore out of the bathroom and slipped on her skirt, flats, and blouse, struggling with the front buttons as she hurried onto the stairs. What was she thinking when she bought a blouse with tiny buttons like this? They needed attention for the proper alignment. “Bottom to top. Bottom to top.”

Oblivious to her surroundings, she bumped into Mark, a step below her. He snatched her around the waist, steadying her, and his touch sent a flash of honeyed heat through her. His eyes met her breasts, which threatened an imminent entrance into society through her open top buttons.

The stairwell stretched down behind him. He didn’t step backward, into the abyss, and he probably couldn’t go forward unless he forced his face deeper into her bosom in order to hang on while shifting her upward. She caught the astonished pleasure on his face. He stared straight ahead, straight into the cleft between her breasts. Apparently he was in no hurry to move.

Finally, he tore his gaze upward to meet her eyes. His were an emerald green now, not the lighter color she knew, and their rims bore the red of emotion.

The two of them seemed to be stuck.

What if he mounted one step higher, so that his groin met hers? Another hot flush came unbidden. She had bade such feelings good riddance for her peace of mind, but the refusal to indulge in this kind of emotion had cost her part of what she wanted in her life.

Mark spoke first. “Well, here we are then. I don’t want to knock you over, and I sure don’t want to tumble over backwards. Any ideas?”

Lyla was pretty sure Mark knew just how to maneuver out of this position. It occurred to her that he was delaying the moment that would release them from this contact. How fascinating to watch him think!

“No? Well, what if I lift you off the floor, climb up, and then set you down on the landing. Just don’t let go of me, because I’ll be off balance on the edge of the first step.”

Lyla nodded as she held him tight around the neck. He advanced a step higher and then stopped.

How elaborate. What theater! She was intrigued and fully immersed in the game. She smirked, her face out of sight next to his ear. The clean smell of a mild soap distracted her—the kind she used herself. Mmm… Her mouth made a little o of surprise. Surprise that it smelled so good on a man.

Images of them in a bathtub together, soaping each other with a shared bar of soap, bubbled in her mind. Immovable, she was at a loss, delightfully wedged into this scenario. What was happening to her?

Mark lifted her up a step and climbed to the next level. This brought his face even with hers, so that his eyes shone into hers. They held on for dear life. “One more now,” he said, as if those were the most important words in her life. “Hold tight.” Both hands clasped his neck. Up she flew to the landing, while he ascended to safety himself.

Her face at the height of his shoulders now, she slumped against him and peered over his back down the steep, narrow steps. She splayed the fingers of one hand out on the hard muscle over his scapula. The sweet fragrance of his body…the contradiction of left-behind stubble adjacent to the ultra-soft skin on his throat… It turned her giddy. She spoke with a quick rise in pitch. “Ooh!”

He grinned. “That was fun. Can we do it again?”

“Ooh…my…” She sat down on the top step to catch her breath. A lucid response was beyond her. “You, you…I only needed to back up or move over. You…”

He turned at the door to his office, blazing his crooked grin though sounding stern. “I guess this means you’re late for work.”

She narrowed her eyes and answered him with a barely audible growl.

*************************

Excerpt 2

Mark and Lyla re: What They Want Piles of books surrounded Lyla and Libby when Mark poked his nose into the attic room. He looked rather mulish to her.

“There you are. I’ve been looking for you. Come down to my study, please.”

Lyla’s back stiffened. He demanded her presence, did he? What was it about that man that made her feel so annoyed? Why couldn’t he act like his easy-going brother? They could have so much fun working side by side in this house.

She started off to Mark’s lair, as far from her room as possible, thank God. She wanted to keep that grimace at arm’s length.

She forced a few deep breaths and halted on the stairs to consult with her inner self. What did Mark say that set her off? Did he mean it the way she took it? She felt sweaty and cranky. Don’t be stupid, Lyla. Don’t start out on the wrong foot. She stopped in front of Mark’s open door.

She opened her palms to him. “You summoned me. Here I am.”

His oversized, tidy desk dominated the center of his uncluttered office. Books and organized stacks of papers filled shelves on three walls. She drew in the odor of leather and wood, aromas that spoke of testosterone and set her anxiety vibrating like a violin string. Just enough to keep her on edge.

He motioned her to the cowhide chair across from his desk. He sat down in its twin, with his back to a double window that looked out over the back lawn and the Big River. Good. Just keep the desk between them. Already the hairs on the nape of her neck stood at attention, and he hadn’t said a word.

Lyla sat up straight. The chair was comfortable but made for a man’s long thighs, so she kept sliding forward in the well-rubbed cowhide. If only her mouth weren’t so dry. She forced down a couple of swallows and turned her face to sniff the leather, as if that could immunize her against masculine power. She couldn’t get comfortable with him over there ogling her, judging her.

Mark stood up and extended his long-fingered hand, the nails short and clean. Her hand in his felt like a chocolate in an overly warm room, but she lacked the will to remove it. At the same time, his sober eyes on hers made her anxiety twang. He tipped the plantation blinds to minimize the glare on her eyes. Hmmm, all right, she could give him points for that.

She rubbed her wrists against each other, leery of him as a male, maybe a man who missed having a woman. Already he put her teeth on edge and pulled her closer at the same time.

At first they engaged in general conversation about his two children. She burned to pry more out of him.

“What are your goals?” she probed. “What do you want me to do for them?”

“They need to learn, especially English and math—and anything you think is important. I want to send them to college.”

“Ah, that helps. Do you have a copy of the local curriculum?”

He waved the question away. “I thought that was up to the teacher.”

“What about textbooks?”

“Order what you want—Dick and Jane or something.”

Inside she growled. “Well, I expect you’ll want your stamp on their education. Do you value creativity, or rote learning? Are you a liberal thinker or conservative? Not that they won’t experience my influence as well.”

“All that. Whatever works.” He passed a hand over his face.

Annoyance bubbled over in her stomach. “My goodness, haven’t you thought about the shape of your children’s education at all?”

He stood up and stared out the window at the wide part of the river. Had she irritated him?

Good. Stick a match under him.

“Damn it, just teach them,” he said, running his hands through his hair. “Can’t you do that?”

His distraught gesture pulled on her reins. Don’t jump to conclusions, said an inner warning. You did that when you trusted your students. You don’t know what’s going on with this man. The blood throbbed in her veins from sparring with him or trying to. This was like a good jolt of caffeine, honing the sharp, suspecting edges in her mind.

She paused while she restrained herself a little further. “Mark, I’m not trying to wear you down. I don’t want a dispassionate discussion. Surely you have hopes…objectives.”

Mark jerked in his chair. “Don’t you have any idea how to take care of this without me telling you everything?” His eyes were flinty.

She met his gaze, her chin high. “Of course, I do. I know how to do it all, but I can help your children so much better with you involved. Your resistance is holding me back.”

His eyes blazed, and he clenched his fists. She shouldn’t have worked herself up, but, damn it, she enjoyed it, and she liked seeing his eyes darken with feeling. Heat rolled off him to her and made her shiver. Inside her, where he couldn’t see, longing unrolled itself, a carpet, long untrodden. She tried to stuff it back inside.

He looked from side to side, as if searching for something. “Can’t you see I’m at a loss how to proceed with the children? I’m at a loss how to deal with you, too, if you want to know, though I shouldn’t admit weakness.”

“Maybe you don’t need to deal with me, as you say. But we do have to talk. I need to know where you stand.”

He turned to the window. He waited, his words below the surface, like a long forgotten wreckage, and when he faced her, his jaw was all hard angles again.

They started to talk, both at once.

“Mark, I…”

“It’s…”

They sighed.

He cleared his throat. “Look, I run this place. Office work, phone calls, orders, sales, manning the winery—that’s my day and part of my night, with my dad’s work knocking me into next week. I need to be steel-minded, and I make all the decisions—all of them, but I’m out of my depth here.

He opened his hands in an expansive gesture. “I really need you to take charge of this.”

Approval cuddled up in Lyla’s heart. Wasn’t it nice that, after all, Mark could concede his shortcomings without it bringing him down? That made him a man like her father, the pastor who was quick to say he didn’t know it all. A real man.

“Mark, why don’t you let me tell you some of my ideas? Then, if you agree, I’ll start that way.

Let’s just talk, okay? I merely need to know if we’re on the same page about the children.”

He flopped back down in his chair. “Yes, all right.”

She summarized her observations so far. Elizabeth could start at grade level in math. Reading was a mixed story. Lyla talked about passive word recognition and phonics skills. “Teaching those is my job.” She explained the importance of writing alongside reading.

His face cleared. “You mean Libby can tell a story but not put it in writing?”

“Exactly. That’s not too unusual but frustrating for her, given the large number of words she wants to use. I have an idea she’s pretty bright, and she’ll learn quickly. She’ll have a lot to write about.”

Mark grinned. “That makes me proud.” His hands were in his hair, his elbows on his desk. “So, reading and writing are perfect partners.”

She smiled. “Yes, the light will go on. She will start choosing to read more often than doing something else.”

He laughed. “You mean soaking up television and punching her brother.”

“Yes, she already loves stories. She told me about Jane Eyre today. You were there.”

He grinned. “I hate to bear bad tidings, but she didn’t read the book. We watched it on television together not too long ago.”

“And she loved the story, right?”

Mark gave a tentative smile. “Yes, and she was in heaven when she learned a governess was coming here.”

“Well, I want to give her the skills to express herself. Her delights, her fears—everything in life.”

Mark agreed that Libby would like that. “That’s how you get on top of life before it crushes you, I imagine.”

“Yes. I can’t say I’ve mastered that a hundred percent myself—getting on top.” She remembered the blood all over the closet on the day words had failed her. Raw fear alone had helped her to survive, and it was still with her now sometimes.

Mark bounded to the opposite side of the desk. “You don’t look too well all of a sudden. Wait a minute.”

He returned in a moment with a glass of water. “Here, clear your mind.”

The water felt cool, Mark’s response warming.

“I’m sorry. I can see I put you too much on the spot.”

She shook her head. “You didn’t.” Her voice was a dry croak. How could she explain that fear unsettled her?

Mark leaned against the edge of the desk, watching her nurse her water.

This put her face on the level of his crotch. She eyed the wide leather belt holding his jeans low on his hips. She could smell the cowhide on him, along with gentle soap. The honest scents kept her anxiety at bay. Lyla claimed a deep breath and lifted her eyes to Mark’s face in time to see an earnest smile replace his knit eyebrows.

“Maybe it would be more fun to talk about my son. I’m sure you’re wondering about Raisin’s name?”

She nodded.

“It grew on him over the years. Most of his mishaps had something to do with his raisin obsession. Early on, he stuffed several of them far up his nose to save them for later. The same with his ears. Another time, his raisin stash sent Ralph to the vet hospital with kidney trouble.”

“Yes, I can see Raisin’s difference from his sister. He meant it when he said he didn’t want to go to school, but he’s a sucker for stories too. I intend to draw him in with that. And raisins.”

Mark’s attentive eyes indicated he followed her ideas for his offspring.

Finally her talk turned to him, the father. “Libby and Raisin need you to read to them. A lot. And talk to them about the stories and the life lessons in them.”

“That’s what I pay you for, isn’t it?” His abrupt tone rankled “You read to them. I’ll work and make money so I can pay you to read.”

She straightened her spine and lifted her chin. “Your children need both of us if this is going to happen for them. I’m telling you.”

Mark steepled his fingers and peered at her as clouds gathered on his face.

She had to win this round. “Reading can’t be something you do only in school, Mark. Reading has to be something the children care about deeply, because it connects them with their dearest love.”

He took the bait. “What’s that?”

She looked into his earnest eyes. “You.”

He paced in front of the window.

Finally she changed the subject. “What about the teenager you described in your letter?” She already knew the answer, but she wanted to hear it from him. It was hard to repress her smirk.

He chuckled then. The thunderclouds cleared off his face, and he gave her a sheepish glance.

“That was Robert. I don’t know why I wrote that. He’s a college graduate now, with a degree in agriculture and business, to the benefit of the ranch. I suppose it’s too late to tame him now, anyway.”

“Maybe he doesn’t need taming. Maybe he needs freedom.”

“Look, it was a joke, writing that, and partly I was irked with him at the time, because I wanted him to stop goofing around and take responsibility. I’m, er, ashamed of myself now. Of course Robert works. He just has fun while he works.” Mark paused, scratching his head. “And you’re right.

Robert feels shackled to a job he doesn’t love. I’m sorry about that, because he deserves better.”

A man who can apologize, purred the warm, fuzzy spot in her heart.

Mark sighed. “I’m sorry too, for the offensive things I said when we met. It seems a long time ago now, and I can’t believe I was not more cordial.”

“That was today.”

“Well, I was angry. I was irritated. I was frustrated. And I was unbelievably tired. I know those things do not make an excuse for my bad behavior. Please forgive me for that. I need a second chance. With you, with my kids…and with life.” His eyes looked contrite.

That squeezed Lyla’s heart. “We both need that, I think.”

“The truth is I’m the one who needs to be tamed. Ever since my wife died and my father started getting more eccentric and depressed, I felt like the only adult in the family, with this strange cast of characters around me.” He made a wide circle with his arm.

“What happened to your wife?”

He lowered his eyes and hunched his shoulders forward.

The pain in his eyes made her heart turn over. “I’m sorry.” she said. “I have a way of saying the wrong things.

“No, we might as well get to know each other, so, yes, my past is a place you should be able to visit. My wife Ruthie died three years ago. She had a heart attack shortly after giving birth. The baby died too. Raisin was two, and Libby was five.

“My father was undependable, my brother just a kid, or so I thought. Mattie kept our bodies and souls together in every practical way after Ruthie died, just as she did before, when my wife was sick, and even earlier, when my mother passed away. I ran the ranch…I don’t know how. Emotionally, I was shattered and exhausted. Maybe the others were too.”

Mark paused but finally continued in baby steps. “So…you see…I…I don’t really know what we need. I don’t know…what I want, except in the broadest way. I want my kids kept away from danger and bullying. I want them nurtured the way their mother can’t do anymore.”

His groping fingers made his hair stand up like a child’s. Lyla wanted to laugh at this sign of his agitation, but she knew this was serious. Important.

He cleared his throat. “So, maybe that addresses your question. I want less aggravation. I want some kind of life back. I want laughter in my house. Maybe you can help me with that. If you think that’s not your job, I understand.”

She nodded assent.

“How about you, Lyla? What do you want? What do you need?” He reached for her hand.

How could she tell him the truth? Hers wasn’t an easy story to tell, especially to a man.

He turned her hands over and examined the scars on the inner surface of her wrists. “What’s this?”

She turned her eyes to him. “What do you know about me? Did you notice I haven’t worked for over a year?”

“Yes, I did notice that.”

“Didn’t you think it was strange? Didn’t you want to ask me about it?”

He gave a rueful laugh. “Nothing you may have to hide is stranger than what you’ll find right here on the funny farm.” Those remarkable green eyes riveted her to the point. “What I needed to know when you answered my ad was that you were willing to come here and take on my kids…and the rest of us.”

He waited a few beats. “I can see somebody hurt you. The rest of your story I’d very much like to hear when you are ready, a little at a time, or all at once. Lyla, no one will hurt you here.”

He cleared his throat. “I run a rat race around here every day, but in the long run I have time to listen. He smiled and took her hand again, as he rested his elbows on the desk. He looked over their hands into her eyes. “Let’s talk again, okay?”

This moment didn’t last as long as she wanted. Mark stood up and led her to the door. “You know where you can find me.” He closed the door behind her, and she heard his boots squeak on the rug as he returned to his desk.

Her breath hitched. A sensitive man who tells you his story on the first day, said her inner self. Why was she standing here outside the door, just when he got her interested?

She didn’t get him. First he lit a fire in her, but then he called it quits. It felt exhilarating to argue with him, though she felt strong empathy too. He gave her a peek inside him, when they’d only just met. Maybe she wanted to do the same for him.

Inside her quarters, she leaned against the door. “It turns out you want the same things I do, Leather Man. So you say.” She closed her eyes and ran her hands up and down her arms. She growled as she revisited his words. “I want some kind of life back too. I am shattered and exhausted too, so if you can help me, that’s what I want you to do.” She tasted tears in her throat. “And I want to help you too.”

In her memory, his eyes flashed. She groaned and opened her eyes wide, her pulse awakened.

“And I want to fight with you too.”

***********************

Excerpt 3

Mark and Lyla Meet

Lyla hoped her employer, Mr. Mark DuPree, would be like this guy and like her brother. He’d looked so kind in the family photo he had sent of himself, with his two little children on his lap.

That portrait had made her feel mellow in the months when they had corresponded about the job.

She was ready to like the man.

A smooth voice behind her rumbled. “Miss Grey, I presume.”

She jerked out of her reverie.

“You’re late,” said the deep voice, “but at least you’re efficient. Already you’re on your way to teaching my brother how to…whatever that is you’re teaching him.” He sniffed. His tone sounded serious and stiff. It got her attention.

Lyla pursed her lips. She didn’t like this man’s off-putting gravitas, nor his implication. He made her feel trapped there with the sand and the red oranges. Without a better look at that acerbic person and an equal posture, her good mood rolled up and left.

“Robert, get back to work, will you?” said Deep Voice. “We don’t have time for you to lie about in the orchard. You can ply your…talents with this young woman later.”

His sarcasm shriveled Lyla up inside. The poor fellow beside her must be sore and humbled.

How to help without embarrassing him? Sweet and undemanding, he had let the older man get the advantage of him. Her fault, not his. Nobody moved.

Lyla wanted to jump up and explain herself, defend her companion. How dare the man talk that way? Something about him unleashed her inner fighter. Bring him on, by God.

“For God’s sake, man,” said the velvet voice. “Don’t just lie there…get up, Robert. You’ve got work to do.”

That did it. Couldn’t the bully see this Robert was hurt? All sharp nerves and armor, she summoned her poise and rose to her feet. Nonchalant, she brushed the twigs and orange seeds off her clothing. She sucked in her belly and straightened her posture, her bosom asserting itself.

“Why don’t you help him? Can’t you see he’s hurt?”

Her lip trembled, but she refused to cry. She clenched her teeth and blundered forward.

“Why don’t you ask before you assume what’s going on?” Lyla swallowed hard and emitted a ragged breath and a bit of a growl. She tossed her long hair out of her eyes.

For the first time, she gave her opponent more than a fleeting glance. Her composure buckled.

He possessed the same features as the younger man. The same fine bones, the same unruly, straw-colored hair, and the same light green eyes. She advanced a few steps. There was so much she wanted to say, and her temper flung itself around, all a-jangle and confused, like a firefly in a jar.

How could he be as bad as she thought he was, when those two had the same face?

Robert made her relax and laugh, but the older man ripped through her. What did she really know about him? She should back off. But her inner fists were clenched and raring to engage.

The man on the path scrutinized her—testing her, she was sure. The amusement in his eyes didn’t match his tone of a few moments earlier. He gave her a curt nod and strode the few feet to where Robert managed to sit up.

She liked this nod, though her anger danced like a caged beast, rattling its bars to get out and wreak havoc. This nod caused the man’s eyes to glitter through his eyelashes. She liked those eyelashes splayed out on his cheek—and when they parted and his eyes flashed… Well, maybe she should give him another chance? It did feel right, though, to be mad at this guy with the lightning eyes. And, it felt like…mmm…like a honeyed spear point scratching her insides, making her want to prance with her eagerness to spar with him. Anger, oh yes! Much better than fear.

Robert winced, and his hand went to his left side. “Sorry,” he said, shame-faced.

Deep Voice went down on one knee and spoke to him sotto voce. “What’s the matter, man? Are you really hurt?” His eyes looked concerned now as they flitted over Robert, and Lyla saw the smudge of redness on the rims of his eyelids.

“It’s nothing, Mark. Just a little accident.”

Lyla tapped her foot on the grass. She knew the gesture made her look like a child, but she couldn’t stop doing it. Two pairs of green eyes grabbed her, but she still felt tigerish. “Little accident? No way! He fell out of the tree. That’s what happened.”

“So.” The simple word and the not-so-simple glance riveted her. When the piercing eyes turned on his brother again, she wanted them back on her.

“Still doing that, are you, Robert? What did you break this time?”

Hands on her hips, Lyla’s claws came out. “He was unconscious—dead, I thought. Why don’t you act more concerned about him?”

Regardless of those spine-tingling eyes, Deep Voice failed to behave as she had with her own brother whenever he’d been hurt. How could she work with a man like this? They would never get along. She wanted to cry out her frustration.

Lyla could make out most of the brother’s words to Robert. “I saw it all. I saw you fall. I saw you rearrange your position on the ground. Why did you just lie there?”

Robert spoke between clenched teeth without moving his lips. “I was pretending.”

“Huh? What for?”

“Look at her, man! What do you think? She’s beautiful. I saw that when I peeked.”

Mark turned his gaze toward Lyla and back again to Robert. His guffaw tickled Lyla’s insides and made her angry at the same time. “I suppose you didn’t mind her hands probing your poor, broken body,” he suggested.

Robert blushed, while Deep Voice probed him between his ribs. Was he checking him for injury, or was this teasing—or cruelty? Or was this the way these guys always treated each other? Lyla took a step back.

Deep Voice laughed a little more and wiped his eyes. “No problems, little brother?”

Robert shook his head.

“Can you walk the lady home?”

Robert nodded, and the light returned to his eyes.

“Okay, then.” The brother gave Robert a hand to help him to his feet. “Pretend all you like on the way home.”

Lyla saw him studying her. She supposed her face showed her defiance and confusion.

He slapped Robert on the backside. “Be a gentleman. And get something for her knee.”

Aggression, man-jokes, and an interest in first aid. So much to learn about this man made Lyla itchy all over.

At last he strode over to her. He made a stiff bow, reached for her hand and kissed it. His eyes widened at the contact, and she felt his hand jerk before he kissed her again, on the palm this time.

He studied her face, as if appraising a mare. Nobody had ever looked at her this way before. Was he coming on to her? It didn’t feel that way. His behavior seemed calm…and important. His serious eyes lingered on hers. He brushed a wayward strand away from her face. Even now his eyes held hers. They disquieted her, like a rumble of thunder felt under the skin. There was no fear—not exactly, but a torrent of something new rushed over her, and she rode it for dear life.

The two of them stood quite close together now, and she couldn’t move away. Somehow this tough man had her in his spell. He held her hand in his, like a glove in a drawer where it belonged.

“So sorry for the brutish behavior, Miss Lyla. As you see, I’m not perfect. I just think I am.”

His mental towline pulled her toward him, and she chuckled at his joke. Why wasn’t she more disgusted at these two clowns? For sure, this man made her feel all flustered and sweaty.

He stepped back a bit. “I’m Mark DuPree, and that fellow dragging his toe in the dirt is Robert, my brother, which you can probably see. Fate cursed us with the same face.” Mark cocked an eyebrow at Lyla. “We may not be pretty, but…” He shrugged. “Welcome to the ranch and our jumbled lives.”

Lyla knew this self-assessment was wrong, dead wrong. She might be emotionally damaged, but she could still recognize two handsome men.

“Look, I did this all wrong.” His eyes remained earnest. “I should welcome you better. I should be the one to bring you home.” He gave her a wry, waifish grin. “My man at the winery called to say he hit a snag, and I’ve got to take care of it. Chores at the winery take up most of my work day, and paperwork for it accounts for a lot more. That’s how it is.” He stood still for a few moments while he searched her eyes. “Sorry. I hope I can make up for this later. Meanwhile, my children are dying to meet you. I hope my e-mails and calls made you curious.”

Mark let go of her hand, turned, walked away, and left Lyla to stare after him—at his broad shoulders and strong, slim back, and the full swing of his leg with each stride. She had never felt so conflicted about a human being. He agitated her, but without her accustomed fear. What had happened to her? Had her phobia developed an on-off switch?

I should be the one to bring you home. She thought about those words, and somehow she knew they were true in ways neither of them expected.

************************

Teach Me Too Reviews

Loved the book

By sally j trent on May 16, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Loved the book….An easy read that gets you involved with the characters. Now that I know what happened to Lyla and Mark I am still interested in the other characters I would enjoy finding out about Robert and his new career and just how famous Nip ends up . Hopefully Judith will have another book about them coming out in the future.

__________________________

Ms. Kammerad shows great promise as a writer.

By Ann Heathman on June 18, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I like this story a lot. Ms. Kammerad has done a masterful job of developing complex and interesting characters. Her descriptions and use of metaphors and similes gave the story a uniqueness that kept me turning the pages. Only wish the relationship between Lyla and Mark had started a bit sooner, but once it got rolling…. nice blend of tenderness and sizzle. Well done.

_____________________

Sweet and Spicy Escape.

By Jennifer Taylor on May 29, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Teach Me Too is a delightful and entertaining read, with fully developed characters and a unique, captivating plot. Heroine Lyla Grey redefines the meaning of courage, and the hero is strong, kind, and fights for what he loves. I couldn’t put the story down, and can’t wait for the next one from this talented author.

_______________________

Strong characters. Enjoyed this author’s first book.

By judy swinson on June 19, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Teach Me Too is a great read. Loved the characters, especially Nip and Maddie. There were lots of twists and kept me turning pages till the end. I just relocated to Citrus county Florida and reading about locations I was familiar made it even more interesting. Looking forward to her next book. Judy Swinson