Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Secret of Clouds

I’m delighted today to share with you THE SECRET OF CLOUDS (Berkley Hardcover; February 19, 2019; $26.00), an uplifting story about a mother’s love, a teacher’s promise, and a child’s heart. It is the author’s first book set in contemporary times, told through flashbacks that shed light on a recent historical tragedy.

Internationally bestselling author Alyson Richman is best known for her beloved World War II historical fiction novels like The Velvet Hours, and The Lost Wife, the latter of which is in development to be a major motion picture and is currently being cast. Now, Alyson pens a heartwarming story of love and the power of healing for a Ukrainian immigrant family living in New York following the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

In THE SECRET OF CLOUDS, Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev, Ukraine. Years later, after the couple has safely immigrated to America, the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. 
          Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher, agrees to tutor Yuri at his home. Maggie bonds with Yuri and his family over their love of baseball, which has eased their assimilation into American life. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri’s boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspire Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life.  And she'll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her—until she needs that strength the most.

THE SECRET OF CLOUDS is a novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart. 

Author Alyson Richman
For those unfamiliar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Alyson Richman is the #1 internationally bestselling author of the The Velvet Hours, The Garden of Letters, The Lost Wife, The Last Van Gogh, The Rhythm of Memory (previously published as Swedish Tango) and The Mask Carver's Son. Her novels have been translated into twenty languages and "The Lost Wife" is in development to be a major motion picture.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you enjoy books that use flashback to help tell the story?

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Dirty Dozen: Princess Edition

The Dirty Dozen: Princess Edition
Publication date: February 14th 2019
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, Romance
12 Novellas ~12 Princesses ~ 12 Authors
What happens when 12 contemporary romance authors decide to put their own spin on classic Princess stories?
You get 12 uniquely different Princesses where they give as good as they get.
Every girl has a fairy tale Princess slumbering within; they are waiting for their very own Prince Charming to awaken them.
Join this amazing line up of authors as they tell the tales of how their Princesses were awoken.
No matter the style or how naughty and nice, one of these tales will become your new vice.
Lets us take you on an adventure you won’t forget……


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Side Job

It’s always fun when you can meet a new author and discover a fascinating read at the same time.

Today I’d like to welcome author Don Lubov to Thoughts in Progress to talk about his new release, THE SIDE JOB, and his writing. First here’s a quick synopsis of his book.

                At 17, unmarried, unskilled, and pregnant, Maggie Gomez is abandoned by her boyfriend and evicted from her home by her parents. For five years, she leads a hardscrabble life on the underside of a Las Vegas ghetto, working at menial, minimum-wage jobs, to support herself and her asthmatic daughter. As her daughter's health declines, Maggie's need for money turns from needy to desperate. Either 5-year-old April gets an expensive operation, or she dies.
             When she takes a new and dangerous profession; as a hitman for a local mobster, Maggie’s life becomes a soap opera of mixed emotions and dangerous ties. Things come to a head when she discovers that her detective lover is investigating her loan-shark boss…who, has put out a contract on her. With the help of one of Frankie D's thugs, all of Maggie's unsavory connections to the Las Vegas underworld are violently canceled. She and Shawn and April survive ‘what happens in Vegas…' and remain in Las Vegas, together.

Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Don as he shares a bit about his writing. Welcome, Don.

What is your writing style and where did the idea for your book come from?


How I write - I’m a "pantser." I just sit down to the keyboard and start typing away. The book, THE SIDE JOB, just came to me as a 500-word word flash-fiction.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?

The take-away is that "a mother's love for her child knows no limits.”

What is the best advice you’ve received as a writer and are you working on anything at the moment?

Best writer advice: hard work, perseverance, and read other books. In 2018, I completed 5 books, simultaneously, and published them at the same time. Consequently, I am focused on promotion by way of literary contests and book reviews.

My 6 books, currently in print, can be purchased from Amazon as paperbacks or on Kindle.

Don, thanks for stopping by today and giving us this insight into your writing and your new release.

For those who aren’t familiar with Don, here’s a bit of background on him.

Author Don Lubov
Don has been happily married since 1976. He was an artist for 34 years and exhibited his artwork at three New York City Art Galleries and the Heckscher Art Museum. He spent eight years teaching Art & Design at East Carolina University, McNeese State University, Suffolk County Community College. He taught energy-efficient architecture at Stanford University.

He was a guest lecturer at Stony Brook University on “Hyperspace—A Visual Introduction to the 4th Dimension”. In 1985, he received a grant from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation for his work combining art & mathematics, with his “Quantum Pictures”.

He has written about spirituality and stress relief since 1971. He is the author of 9 books. 10 years successfully teaching his “Six-Step Path” at College of Central Florida Sr. Center, MTP College, and The Lifelong Learning College in The Villages, FL. He has taught his unique brand of meditation to over 2,000 people, who subsequently achieved a level of inner peace. He has taught his "Six-Step Path" for stress reduction for the past 12 years, at Del Webb and 3 local colleges.

Don has written for Yahoo Voices,, and His writings have been published in various magazines and books. He has written the following 6 books                                         
     An End to Stress – spirituality and self-help
     The Plague – sci-fi cautionary tale
     The Side Job – a novel of a female assassin
     The Writers Bloc Club – an anthology of prose & poetry                 
     Near Death in the Gila National Forest – a memoir
     Frosty the Soulman – an illustrated children’s book
His YouTube videos include—
      “The Grassroots Manifesto”,                                                 
      “Creativity Manifesto”
      “Spirituality Manifesto”

He created and developed “Pyramoids” – an energy-efficient building system, and taught this system at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. One of his “Pyramoid” designs was accepted and juried in The World Trade Center Memorial Competition.

Articles and Poems —,, Yahoo Voices, Florida Writers Magazine,
Journal of Creative Writers Notebook, The Daily Sun, The Stress Blog on Deeper Meditation,
Horizon Magazine, Mark Miller’s One, What is love – Diane Sikel, Fifty is the New Fifty – Steve Winston, The Speaker Anthology – Shields & Gustavson, The Florida Writer, The Boomer Cafe

For more on Don and his writing, visit his website.

Thanks for stopping by today during Don’s visit. Do you agree a mother’s (or father’s) love knows no bounds when it comes to their children or at least that’s the way it should be?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Foiled … and So Much More

It’s my pleasure today to welcome a new-to-me author who writes Children’s Middle Grade Historical/Speculative novels.

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Jeff Bolinger – better known as Author Carey Fessler from Melbourne, Australia. Carey has published four Middle Grade Action/Suspense novels and is here to talk about this books and writing. While I don’t have children nor grandchildren, I still enjoy books for all ages.

Welcome Carey. Please tell us a bit about your writing and your latest released, FOILED.

Where do you get the ideas for a book?

Ideas can come from everywhere, which is why I’m open to trying new things. The more experiences I have in life the more I have to draw from to inspire my writing. Coming up with the seed for a scene (remember, a story is just a series of scenes you weave together) idea is easy for me. All I do is say these three words: “What happens if …? (I brain storm the worst-case scenario, then dig a bit deeper and drop my MCs into the hole) 

For example, the seed for my book Foiled came after my brother in-law had showed me his three photographs of a UFO near Roswell, New Mexico. As an author I didn’t care if the photos were real or not. I just asked myself, “What happens if … in 1947, two Roswell kids obtain a piece of alien technology and become fugitives?”

Once I complete a skeletal scene-by-scene story outline, only then do I begin the actual writing process and flesh out the story by creating a couple of engaging heroes that serve as catalysts and a formidable villain who cross paths, blocking each other’s goals, which creates plenty of opportunities for tension, suspense, and action.

Please tell us more about Foiled.

Foiled is a Middle Grade pacey, page-turning novel set in 1947, featuring the famed Roswell UFO crash incident near Roswell, New Mexico.

The title Foiled has three meanings:
1.  Foil: noun - referring to the ‘magic foil,’ (piece of thin metal sheet) in the story, which is a piece of alien technology from the crash site of a UFO. On the front cover, you can spot the girl holding it in her hand. ;)
2.  Foil: noun - The two MCs contrast each other and so emphasize and enhance the qualities of the other.
3.  Foil: verb - prevent (antagonists) from succeeding.

What exciting story are you working on next?

I’ve just finished the last book in my sea-island adventure trilogy:
Shanghaied: Escape from the Blackwolf
Shipwrecked: Dragon Island
Sea Raiders

How did you come about writing?

I first started writing short stories for my son when he was very young. I made him the MC of each story, which featured his favorite toys as sidekicks. The stories were an instant hit … with him anyway. That was enough to keep me at it.

When did you first consider yourself an author?

The first time I came out of the closet and told someone other than my wife.

Do you write full-time?


Then what's your work day like?

Up at dawn, walk the dog, eat brekky, and write (from a small simple Ikea desk, which overlooks our leafy street) until noonish. Walk the dog, eat lunch, re-write/revise the previous day’s work until around 3pm’ish. Walk the dog, do errands, housework and make supper. Binge on Netflix. Fun read an hour before bedtime. (I like Clive Cussler). Rinse and repeat.

Fun related 😊:

I write while listening to either Classical or New Age music. Yes, I love Mozart and Enya.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An oceanographer. Probably from watching so much Jacques Cousteau on TV. Later, I took scuba diving lessons in college and then joined the Navy, serving on board nuclear submarines, so I came close-kinda.

Best piece of writing advice:

Anne Rice- The Vampire Chronicles. “Go where the pain/pleasure is.”

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

- I use the pen name Carey Fessler to honor the two people who encouraged me to read as a kid — my grandparents: My G’ma’s maiden name is Carey and my G’pa’s last name is Fessler … Carey Fessler worked perfectly.

- In my book Shanghaied: Escape from the Blackwolf, Scott wants to tell a lie to get aboard the submarine. In Foiled, Kate wants to help Billy hide from the authorities. Life is all about making choices: good vs bad. Sometimes people make a bad choice for a good reason. Either way, experience is a good teacher. Adults are constantly telling children what they can and can’t do. In Foiled, I set out to write a story about an eleven-year-old stumbling over endless physical and mental pits, picking herself up, and pushing herself on to discover for herself what she can do. I also wanted to ask, “Would an eleven-year-old stop at the established limits set by the grown-up world to save her friend and family, or would she break those limits?”
- One thing I like to do as an author is name a minor character after a person who has helped me by being a test reader. I do this as a way of saying ‘Thanks.’ Plus, people think it’s cool to have a character in a book with their namesake. Ex: In Shanghaied I named Golsh after a friend who read an early draft of the story and gave me some useful feedback. I find sharing my work with others is a great way to improve my writing.

- I write my stories because they’re the kind of books that I would’ve wanted to read when I was a kid. The fact that other people—ages 9 to 99—enjoy reading my stories is a bonus.

- Talent is nice to have, but I relied more on practice and determination to achieve my dream, which was to write a book. When you’re passionate about something, it never feels like work. Dreams do come true, so don’t give up on yours.

- I’m hoping to turn kids onto reading by sparking their imagination.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is intelligence having fun.”

- Never underestimate how important you are to a book as a reader. Without the reader, the words are just ink marks on paper. Your imagination brings the story to life.

Carey, thanks so much for joining us and sharing this insight into your writing. I love how you came about your pen name. It’s a great way to honor your grandparents. You can find Carey’s books HERE.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Carey, here’s a bit of background on him in his own words.

Author Carey Fessler
I grew up in a military family and moved around more often than a gypsy. My favorite smell is green, favorite flavor is mist, and favorite day of the week is Funday. I wonder if fish wish they could wink, and trees wish they could walk. I think it’s bizarre that your belly button harbors more bacteria than there are birds in Borneo. I believe biographies are boring and think it’s fun to speak in silly-sounding sentences with wacky words that start with the same letters. Finally, I believe in exercising your imagination and secretly staying up past your bedtime. 

Find out more about Carey and his writing on his website.

Now here’s a synopsis of FOILED.

          Twelve-year-old Kate lives with her mother on the U.S. Army base near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. One night, just as Kate’s friend Billy shows her strange pieces of foil that his dad retrieved from the wreckage of what may have been an alien spacecraft, a CIA agent arrives at Billy’s house and informs his family of their reassignment to Germany. The agent demands the return of the foil. Billy, not wanting to move to Germany or return his treasures, begs Kate for help. Feisty and fiercely loyal, Kate agrees to help him find a place to hide. 
The two friends use their wits, their knowledge of the terrain and geography around the base, and sheer determination to evade capture.
            Hiding under the moonlit shadows at a gas station on the outskirts of town, Kate telephones her mother back on the Army base hospital, where she works as a nurse, to tell her of the drama and warn her of the death threat the CIA agent made against the family. Ignoring her mother’s order for the two children to come to the hospital, Kate is determined to warn her grandfather about the threat, too, since his has no telephone. Together, Kate and Billy strike off to reach him, more than two hundred miles away.
            Thus begins a cross-state adventure in which along the way, the two friends discover the foil has a mysterious power that’s… not of their world.
            Late that evening, disaster erupts into a fiery explosion when a diversion goes horribly wrong, at the gas station, as Kate and Billy sneak into the bed of a pickup truck that is heading out of town. When Kate discovers that their ride is traveling in the wrong direction, they attempt to stop the moving truck, which leaves Billy hanging on for his life, and the driver abandoning them out in the middle of nowhere.
            After they hitchhike a ride to the nearest town, Kate is torn between telling lies and reaching her grandfather to warn him of the threat by Special Agent Falco. With family coming before conscious, opportunity allows her to steal the car in a demolition derby-like get away, where she hopes a couple of driving lessons she’s had behind the wheel of her grandpa’s old jalopy truck will be enough to get the two friends to their destination—alive.
            At an all-night roadside diner, a cryptic phone call with her mother sends Kate spiraling into more worry. An encounter with a suspicious waitress leads to the arrival of a state trooper. Using the magic of the alien foil, which sometimes allows Kate to read minds, she is able to create another chance for escape. However, soon a second state trooper cruiser pulls into the diner parking lot followed by a car driven by Falco. Kate and Billy slip out a back window, abandon their stolen car, and thumb a ride with a friendly trucker that is short lived when they spot what appears to be a police roadblock on the bridge, leaving town. They exit the eighteen-wheeler, ghost back into the dawn darkness, and make the next leg of their journey, travelling down river by borrowing a small leaky boat.
            After escaping the venomous fangs of a rattlesnake, they plod across the burning sands of a mesa to arrive exhausted at Kate’s grandpa’s house—but can’t find Grandpa—anywhere. 
            Her Grandpa Clyde stirs Kate awake and she quickly retells the drama leading up to the present. But before the threesome can take flight, a deputy arrives at the property to take Kate and Billy into custody. Pushed closer to her breaking point, at what appears to be a trip all for nothing, Kate takes extreme action and pulls out a loaded rifle on the deputy, allowing Grandpa Clyde to secure him out of harm’s way. This bold action allows them to escape in the Piper Cub, her grandpa’s small, light aircraft.
            During a fuel stop in Albuquerque, Kate is unable to reach her mother by telephone and fears that Falco has made good on his threat. Using the magic of the alien foil, she discovers the man driving the refueling tanker is planning to stall them long enough for the law to show up. Kate’s quick thinking allows them to make a hasty departure, which is intercepted by the arrival of two speeding state trooper cruisers and flying bullets.
            Grandpa Clyde lands outside an Indian reservation to seek safety and overnight refuge from an old friend. The jewelry craftsman makes a special pendant for Kate, which has a secret compartment to hide the alien foil from unwanted eyes. The next morning, when Billy becomes too homesick and wants to return to his parents in Roswell, Grandpa Clyde drops him off at the nearby airport outside Santa Fe, where Kate must say goodbye to her best friend. 
            Soon after departing the airport, an Army helicopter intercepts the Piper Cub and tries to force them to land in the desert. Kate reaches her limits, fights back, and downs the helicopter with a surprise and inventive attack.
            Their victory celebration is cut short when Grandpa Clyde suffers a stroke and is unable to fly the plane. Kate is forced to take over the controls and must land the plane in nearby Santa Fe … to save her grandpa’s life.
            With only a few hours of flying experience under her belt, Kate crash-lands next to a park plaza in the center of town. Unable to pull Grandpa Clyde from the wreckage, and with the smell of leaking fuel, Kate refuses to abandon her grandpa. When she’s just about to give up all hope, a stranger from the nearby crowd hauls her grandpa to safety. Only when Kate sees Grandpa Clyde being trolleyed to the ambulance, does she melt into the growing crowd of on lookers and slip away.
            From a nearby post office, Kate follows her grandpa’s instructions, and calls another one of his trusted friends, who drives into town to rendezvous and rescue her. Days later, after Grandpa Clyde’s recovers enough to be discharged from the hospital, he secretly joins Kate where they decide to remain living on a ranch until her mother finds a civilian job so she can resign her commission from the Army, allowing them to start a new life beyond the tendrils of the CIA.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy reading books that are “technically” written for people younger than yourself?

Friday, February 8, 2019

This Earl of Mine

Kate Bateman (also writing as K. C. Bateman), the #1 bestselling author of Regency, Victorian, and Renaissance historical romances, is kicking off her new Regency romance series, The Bow Street Bachelors, with the charming new novel, THIS EARL OF MINE (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; October 29, 2019, $7.99)!

I’m delighted to announce that the cover for this tantalizing new book is now LIVE and I can share it with you today.

The first book in a new Regency romance series, an heiress and a rogue accidentally end up in a secret marriage of convenience.

In a desperate bid to keep her fortune out of her cousin’s hands, shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed marries a condemned criminal in Newgate prison. The scoundrel’s first kiss is shockingly heated, but Georgie never expects to see her husband again. Until she spots him across a crowded ballroom.
Notorious rogue Benedict Wylde never expected a wife. He was in Newgate undercover, working for Bow Street. To keep their marriage of convenience a secret, Wylde courts Georgie in public, but the more time they spend together, the more their attraction sparks.
Could an heiress with the world at her feet find happiness with a penniless rake? Kate Bateman's This Earl of Mine is a delightful start to the Bow Street Bachelors series, with witty banter, dynamic characters, and swoon-worthy romance.

THIS EARL OF MINE is available to purchase HERE.

For those of you unfamiliar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Kate Bateman
K. C. Bateman, (also writing as Kate Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of Regency, Victorian, and Renaissance historical romances, including the Secrets & Spies series: To Steal a Heart, A Raven's Heart and A Counterfeit Heart, and the Bow Street Bachelors series: This Earl of Mine. All her books feature her favorite feisty, intelligent heroines, (badasses in bodices!) wickedly inappropriate banter, and sexy, snarky heroes you want to both strangle and kiss...

Kate wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she'd 'never finish the thing.' She gleefully proved him wrong. When not traveling to exotic locations 'for research', she leads a not-so-secret double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK, each of which has up to 2.5 million viewers. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children /monsters and a number-loving husband who still owes her that dollar.

Kate loves to hear from readers! Contact her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or via her website at

Thanks for stopping by today. Isn’t that cover just so colorful? Ladies, don't you just love that dress?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Military Wife

I’m delighted to today to tell you about an emotional, heartbreaking and heart mending new novel – THE MILITARY WIFE by award-winning author Laura Trentham – that was just released.

A young widow embraces a second chance at life when she reconnects with those who understand the sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families in Laura’s latest release.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husbandNoah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.
          Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.
          In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.
          In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?

Here’s an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

Chapter 1
Present Day
Winters in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, were temperamental. The sunshine and a temperate southerly breeze that started a day could turn into biting, salt-tinged snow flurries by afternoon. But one thing Harper Lee Wilcox could count on was that winter along the Outer Banks was quiet.
The bustle and hum and weekly rotation of tourists that marked the summer months settled into a winter melancholy that Harper enjoyed. Well, perhaps not enjoyed in the traditional sense . . . more like she enjoyed surrendering to the melancholy. In fact, her mother may have accused her of wallowing in it once or twice or a hundred times.
In the winter, she didn’t have to smile and pretend her life was great. Not that it was bad. Lots of people had it worse. Much worse. In fact, parts of her life were fabulous. Almost five, her son was happy and healthy and smart. Her mother’s strength and support were unwavering and had bolstered her through the worst time of her life. Her friends were amazing.
That was the real issue. In the craziness of the summer season, she forgot to be sad. Her husband, Noah, had been gone five years; the same amount of time they’d been married. Soon the years separating them would outnumber the years they’d been together. The thought was sobering and only intensified the need to keep a sacred place in her heart waiting and empty. Her secret memorial.
She parked the sensible sedan Noah had bought her soon after they married under her childhood home. Even though they were inland, the stilts were a common architectural feature up and down the Outer Banks.
Juggling her laptop and purse, Harper pushed open the front door and stacked her things to the side. “I’m home!”
A little body careened down the steps and crashed into her legs. She returned the ferocious hug. Her pregnancy was the only thing that had kept her going those first weeks after she’d opened her front door to the Navy chaplain.
“How was preschool? Did you like the pasta salad I packed for your lunch?”
“It made me toot and everyone laughed, even the girls. Can you pack it for me again tomorrow?”
“Ben! You shouldn’t want to toot.” Laughter ruined the admonishing tone she was going for.
As Harper’s mom said time and again, the kid was a hoot and a half. He might have Harper’s brown wavy hair, but he had Noah’s spirit and mannerisms and humor. Ben approached everything with an optimism Harper had lost or perhaps had never been gifted with from the start. He was a blessing Harper sometimes wondered if she deserved.
“Where’s Yaya?” She ruffled his unruly hair.
Of course, her mom had picked an unconventional name. “Grandmother” was too old-fashioned and pedestrian. Since she’d retired from the library, she had cast off any semblance of normalcy and embraced an inner spirit that was a throwback to 1960s bra burners and Woodstock.
“Upstairs painting.” Ben slipped his hand into Harper’s and tugged her toward the kitchen. Bright red and orange and blue paint smeared the back of his hand and arm like a rainbow. At least, her mom had put him in old clothes. “Yaya gave me my own canvas and let me paint whatever I wanted.”
“And what did you paint?” Harper prayed it wasn’t a nude study, which was the homework assignment from her mom’s community college class.
“I drew Daddy in heaven. I used all the colors.” The matter-of-factness of his tone clawed at her heart.
No child should have to grow up only knowing their father through pictures and stories. Her own father had been absent because of divorce and disinterest. He’d sent his court-ordered child support payments regularly until she turned eighteen but rarely visited or shown any curiosity about her. It had hurt until teenaged resentment scarred over the wound.
Noah would have made a great dad. The best. That he never got the chance piled more regrets and what-ifs onto her winter inspired melancholy.
“I’m sure he would have loved your painting.” Luckily, Ben didn’t notice her choked-up reply.
He went to the cabinet, pulled out white bread and crunchy peanut butter, and proceeded to make two sandwiches. It was their afternoon routine. Someday he would outgrow it. Outgrow her and become a man like his daddy.
She poured him a glass of milk, and they ate their sandwiches, talking about how the rest of his day went—outside of his epic toots. His world was small and safe and she wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.
Her mom breezed into the kitchen, her still-thick but graying brown hair twisted into a messy bun, a thin paintbrush holding it in place. Slim and attractive, she wore paint-splattered jeans and a long-sleeve T-shirt that read: I make AARP look good. Harper pinched her lips together to stifle a grin.
“How’s your assignment coming along?” Harper asked.
“I’m having a hard time with proportions. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure my man’s you-know-what shouldn’t hang down to his kneecaps.”
Harper shot a glance toward Ben, who had moved to the floor of the den to play with LEGOs. As crazy as her mom drove her, she was and would always be Harper’s rock. The irony wasn’t lost on her. As hard as she’d worked to get out of Kitty Hawk and out of her mother’s reach when she was young, she’d never regretted coming home.
“It’s been a while for me, too, but that’s not how I remember them, either.”
“A pity for us both.” Her mother pulled a jar of olives out of the fridge and proceeded to make martinis—shaken, not stirred. She raised her eyebrows, and Harper answered the unspoken question with a nod. Her mom poured and plopped an extra olive in Harper’s. “How was work?”
Harper handled bookkeeping and taxes for a number of local businesses, but a good number closed up shop in the winter. “Routine. Quiet.”
“Exactly like your life.”
Harper sputtered on her first sip. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I hate seeing you mope around all winter.” Her mom poked at the olive in her drink with a toothpick and looked toward Ben, dropping her voice. “He’s been gone five years, sweetheart, and you haven’t gone on so much as a date.”
“That’s not true. I went to lunch with Whit a few weeks ago.”
“He was trying to sell you life insurance. Doesn’t count.”
Harper huffed and covered her discomfort by taking another sip. “What about you? You never date.”
 “True, but your father ruined me on relationships. I have trust issues. You and Noah, on the other hand, seemed to get along fine. Or am I wrong?”
“You’re not.” Another sip of the martini grew the tingly warmth in her stomach. Their marriage hadn’t been completely without conflict, but what relationship was? As she looked back on their fights, they seemed juvenile and unimportant. It was easier to remember the good times. And there were so many to choose from.
She touched the empty finger on her left hand. The ring occupied her jewelry box and had for three years. But, occasionally, her finger would ache with phantom pains as if it were missing a vital organ.
“You’re young. Find another good man. Or forget the man, just find something you’re passionate about.”
“I’m happy right where I am.” Harper hammered up her defenses as if preparing for a hurricane.
“Don’t mistake comfort for happiness. You’re comfortable here. Too comfortable. But you’re not happy.”
 “God, Mom, why are you Dr. Phil–ing me all of sudden? Are you wanting me and Ben to move out or something?” Her voice sailed high and Ben looked over at them, his eyes wide, clutching his LEGO robot so tightly its head fell off.
“You and Ben are welcome to stay and take care of me in my old age.” Her mom shifted toward the den. “You hear that, honey? I want you to stay forever.”
Ben gave them an eye-crinkling smile that reminded her so much of Noah her insides squirmed, and she killed the rest of her drink. She was so careful not to show how lonely she sometimes felt in front of Ben.
“Harper.” Her mom’s chiding tone reminded her so much of her own childhood, she glanced up instinctively. Her mom took her hand, and her hazel eyes matched the ones that stared back at Harper in the mirror. “You’re marking time in Kitty Hawk. Find something that excites you again. Don’t let Ben—or Noah— be your excuse.”
Harper looked to her son. His chubby fingers fit the small LEGO pieces together turning the robot into a house. She had built her life brick by brick adding pieces and colors, expanding, taking pride, until one horrible day she’d stopped. Maybe her mom was right. Was it time to build something new?

For those not familiar with Laura, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Laura Trentham
LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition.

A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

THE MILITARY WIFE is available at HERE.

Thanks for stopping by today. Does your community have something like Harper’s dream to help those in need?