I know, I know. I'm over here on a very spotty basis, but there's been a computer virus, bad weather, and some personal stuff I had to deal with. I'm trying to get life (and thus blogging) back to normal.
Thanks to everyone who dropped by to offer congratulations and comments on the debut of Facing It. (It's hit the top ten at My Bookstore and More! Whoo!)
Jenn asked in the comments what was up next . . . the answer is Uncovered, now in final line edits and set for a summer 2009 release. Here's the blurb:
After nearly twenty years, her career in possible ruins, homicide detective Madeline Holton returns to her hometown for a temporary stint working with the local sheriff's department. Everywhere she turns, the demons of her teen years lie in wait, rising once more in the form of a cold case she must solve . And when it comes to a handsome farmer who’s making good on her family’s former land, she can’t seem to keep her foot out of her mouth—or her hands off him.
Agricultural businessman Ash Hardison won't lie to himself—despite Madeline's obvious issues, he's more drawn to her than any woman he's ever known. He's already laid the ghosts of his past to rest, and he's determined to help Madeline purge hers. Whether she likes it or not.
Because he knows it’s the only way they have a chance to forge a future together.
Here's an edits-in-process excerpt:
“I’m going to see if Cait’s ready to go.” Tick jerked a thumb toward the back door.
Once it closed behind him, Ash slanted a sideways glance at Stanton. “He’s wound pretty tight.”
Stanton huffed a humorless laugh. “No kidding. I thought having Madeline here, taking some of the pressure off him would help. Guess I was wrong.”
“He’ll be fine. He always is.” Ash rested both hands on the counter’s edge and let his gaze travel to the window once more. On the deck, Tick leaned down to lift the baby from Caitlin’s arms and waved Autry to stay seated. Madeline darted another of those secretive looks at him. Ash frowned. Something was…off…there, something he didn’t get.
Was that attraction or dislike that kept her so focused on Tick?
“I hope so. I need him back on his game.” Stanton came to stand beside him. Madeline unfolded from her chair, and as Caitlin and Tick came in the back door, her voice carried in with them.
“I think I’m going to head out as well.” That indefinable strain tightened her words. “Thanks for dinner.”
“You don’t have to go yet.” Autry followed her sister into the room. “It feels like you just got here.”
“It’s been a long day.” Irony laced Madeline’s voice. Tick looked up from placing the baby in his carrier. Palpable tension vibrated between them before he dropped his gaze.
He hefted the infant seat. “Cait? You ready?”
At her nod, they exited in a small flurry of thank-you’s and good-night’s. Autry turned to Madeline. “I wish you’d stay a little longer.”
She shrugged into her jacket. “I have an early day tomorrow.”
“I’ll walk out with you.” Ash pulled his keys from his pocket and leaned down to kiss Autry’s cheek. “Dinner was awesome.”
Madeline eyed him, wariness coloring her features. “You don’t have to.”
He put on an easy grin. “You’re not the only one with an early day ahead of you.”
Outside, a hint of cool air kissed the unseasonable warmth. His truck waited beside her compact sedan and the gravel walk crunched under their feet as they walked toward the vehicles. She glanced back once at the house, a strange hurt flickering over her features before she straightened her shoulders to a near-impossible angle. Unhappiness hung around her like a pall, a loneliness that stopped him from cutting his losses, especially after everything Tick had said, and walking straight to his driver’s side door.
He leaned against the truck’s hood while she unlocked her car. “What do you like to do during your free time?”
With the door partially open, she froze and confusion glinted in her hazel gaze before disappearing beneath shuttered contempt. “You don’t give up, do you?”
“What are you so afraid of?” He spread his elbows to a more comfortable position.
She slammed the door and came to stand before him. Outrage rolled off her in waves. “I’m not afraid of anything. I’ve told you I’m not interested and you won’t back off. End of story.”
Bravado. Lots of ballsy bravado that still didn’t quite cover the soul-deep isolation that shrouded her and called to him. Pushing wouldn’t work with her, though. “If that’s the way you want it.”
“It is.” Her chin lifted to a challenging angle, daring him to dispute her statement.
“Good night, then.” He inclined his head and stepped away from the truck. She backed up, stumbling a bit in her haste. He didn’t reach to steady her, but let her regain her footing alone. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Madeline.”
She snorted. “Sure it was.”
He lifted a hand and strode around to the driver’s side. The old Ford rumbled to life, reliable as ever, and while the cold-natured engine warmed, he patted the gas pedal a couple of times. His wrist draped over the wheel, he watched in the rearview as Madeline reversed hard and flew down the drive. He shook his head and reached for the gearshift.
Confident and breezy, then prickly and wary. Obsessed? Lonely and afraid of connecting.
Like he could walk away from that puzzle without a second thought.
For excerpts and info on Facing It, available now, visit http://www.samhainpublishing.com/romance/facing-it