Archive for the ‘Adult Historical’ Category

Title: Ghosts & Gravity

Authors: BT Urruela, Anne Malcom, Morgan Locklear, Jennifer Locklear, Shani Struthers, Becca Vry, Susan K. Swords, Kris Babe, Rumer Haven, Ai Tran, A.S. Orten, Christopher Winks, and D.L. Hartman
Genres: Short Stories, Romance, Paranormal Romance, Cozy Mystery, Historical Romance, Ghost Fiction
Release Date: November 11, 2022
Front Cover Design: Krys Janae
Interior and Back Cover Design: Lindsey Gray
Published by Locklear Books
New York City, 1972.
Between Central Park and the East River sits an apartment building as tall as a castle, and as orange as a sunset. The Wellraven barely pricks a skyline so grand, but it’s curious history reaches out through occupants, young and old.
Eleven stories chronicle the life and times of characters who cross paths, and share destiny’s fire escape. Ghosts, gravity, romance, and secrets weave the communal narrative.
Step into the elevator. Push any button, but try to remember your way back out. Not everybody makes it.
Proceeds from this limited edition anthology will benefit VETSports, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Veterans with continuous opportunities to reintegrate into their communities through sports, community service, events, and partnerships.

BT Urruela: Author. Filmmaker. Model. Songwriter. Photographer. BT Urruela strives to promote a positive and healthy lifestyle through his work and contributions to various charities, as well as his commitment to the arts. http://www.bturruela.com/
Anne Malcom: Anne Malcom has been an avid reader since before she can remember, her mother responsible for her book addiction. Finding writing about alpha males and happily ever afters more fun than reading about them, Anne is not about to stop any time soon. https://www.annemalcomauthor.com/
Morgan Locklear: Morgan Locklear is a novelist and musician living on the Oregon coast. He writes romance adventures with a focus on humor, and a few ghosts thrown in from time to time. https://www.locklearbooks.com/
Jennifer Locklear: Jennifer Locklear writes the “wildly erotic” Constellation series in addition to Exposure, a Hollywood based romantic comedy, co-written with her husband, Morgan Locklear. https://www.locklearbooks.com/
Shani Struthers: Born and bred in Brighton, UK, Shani Struthers is the author of twenty-four supernatural thrillers (so far), some set in various locations in England, others in more far-flung destinations such as Venice and America. https://www.shanistruthers.com/
Rumer Haven: I’ve grown up (sort of) as a lover of books, Buffy, travel, and tarot. I’m an old soul with a penchant for the past and paranormal, and am probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. My writing loves to creep inside those interiors, spelunking through dimensions of time, love, and the soul. https://www.rumerhaven.com/home
Becca Vry: President & Founder of Muse Creative Consulting LLC, Best-Selling Author, Copywriter, Speechwriter, Artist, Soul City Corridor/Creative SOULutions collaborator, and Creative Consultant. https://musecreativeconsulting.wordpress.com/
Susan K. Swords: Susan is a lifelong reader and a lifelong aspiring author. She is also currently writing a sci-fi/fantasy novel. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. If you work for it, they’ll come to you. https://tinyurl.com/ypd5yb7z
Kris Babe: Reader, writer, editor. Marketer by day. Politically opinionated. Not fully dressed without a scarf. So many books, so little time. https://tinyurl.com/yadhhhyz
Ai Tran: Ai is from a family of historians, philosophers and story tellers. A Bay Area native, if she isn’t exploring the city or hiking in the woods, you can find her behind her notebook free-writing paranormal comedies. https://tinyurl.com/yckejd65
D.L. Hartman: Deb has been writing poems, short stories, and just nonsense since she could hold a fat Crayola. She always dreamed of someday being published. Now, her dream is coming true. She has spent much of her life moving around the USA, 43 times in her 65 years. She is an avid reader. https://tinyurl.com/muwzs5dp
A.S. Orten
Christopher Winks
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Title: She Wore a Hat in Prison
Author: Marion L. Cornett
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: September 7, 2022
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
The charge is Mayhem. Locals in the small village of Cedartown cry out for harsh judgment by finding her guilty of the horrific act and making her pay for her sins. How could a woman so egregiously harm her husband, especially one so admired as Narcisco Boronza?

Zerelda Boronza is caught in the middle, between defending and saving herself.

When she awoke one humid morning in the fall of 1907, splayed on the hardwood floor, she was covered in blood not knowing if it was someone else’s or her own. Eyes gritty and hard-to-focus, palms sticky on the floor, and a blood-soaked spread covering an empty bed—her memory offered no clue of how this all came about.

And now, as she sits next to her attorney, the judge pounding his gavel for silence, her mind swirls with confusion. What happens during the week-long trial and after is unthinkable.

 

The charge of Mayhem is defined by causing injurious and irreparable harm to another human being. In 1907, when my character took drastic measures to prevent her husband from ever being with another woman, the following paragraph at the beginning of her trial shows when it starts to become apparent what she did.

“You are charged, by the great state of Michigan, in the county of Livingston, village of Cedartown, with the crime of…” The officer’s voice trailed off as he gawked at the remaining words on the page. The single piece of paper he’d been holding escaped from his fingers as if on fire, and the yellowish sheaf fluttered to the wooden floor. “…Mayhem,” he said after a long pause. His voice hissed out no louder than a mouse’s squeak.”

 
Marion Cornett, like many novelists, began her career in a steep learning curve that ultimately lasted over some forty years before having her first story published. That meant having national magazines publish original patterns for knitting, crocheting, and needlework, while perfecting her journalistic abilities through motorcycle road racing reporting.

Her claim to fame, at this point, is all about Michigan’s past. Two volumes of local history about her adopted town, Fowlerville, proved to be a great research tool to then write two historical novels set in a small town that looks a lot like their village in the early 1900s. “Juniper and Anise,” a story of a woman bootlegger selling bathtub gin during the Prohibition Era, was published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2014 and “Tilly Loves Johnny,” a murder/mystery tale centered around the illicit activities of a blind pig, was published by the Wild Rose Press in 2016.

“The Fowlerville Chronicles” (2010), a compilation of the village’s history from 1836 to 2010, and “Through the Eyes of a Country Editor” (2012), the writings and life of G.L. Adams, publisher and editor of the newspaper, “The Fowlerville Review,” are available in used and new prints. “A Soldier, a Brother, and a House” is also available on Amazon–original Civil War letters have been transcribed and preserved for all to read in this compilation of notes between two brothers and of the house in Fowlerville where the letters were discovered a hundred years after the war ended.

As research continues, more stories are in the works. All happening while continuing to travel around the country on named “awesome road trips,” hiking portions of the Appalachian and Arizona trails, and thoroughly enjoying time with her husband, Doug, since falling deep into retirement.

Love to read, write, exercise, socialize, and be a part of the internet social media. Born to be creative, loves to write–that’s my motto and I’m sticking to it.
 
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Priscilla’s Stake

Land Run Mail Order Brides Book 8

By Annee Jones

Hosted by DS Book Promotions

AMAZON 

    US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09WM5D3LF/

     UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09WM5D3LF/

CA https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09WM5D3LF/

        AU https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09WM5D3LF/

 https://books2read.com/PriscillasStake

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Blurb:

“At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22d, the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government.”

March 1889

Franklin Sinclair, wealthy Chicago mine investor, has had enough. It’s time for his vain and spoiled daughter, Priscilla, to grow up. After refusing every suitable man who might have her as a bride, he declares that if she wants to see a penny of her inheritance, she must go to Oklahoma to stake a claim on his behalf in the upcoming land run. Otherwise, he’ll marry her off to the first old man who expresses an interest in her before he retires to San Francisco. Priscilla, horrified but determined to get what she wants, agrees to the deal. However, what happens when she discovers that poor and pesky – yet annoyingly handsome – Ladd Mabry, also plans to head out west to participate in the land run?

 

Ladd Mabry works in a dirty Chicago factory after his father was killed in an explosion while mining for silver in California. He blames the mine’s owner, Franklin Sinclair, for not ensuring safe working conditions at the mine. Since he can’t get close enough to the man to demand restitution – or at least an apology – he’ll settle for his pampered (albeit gorgeous) daughter, Priscilla. Irritated after she blows him off, Ladd decides to leave Chicago altogether and start over out west. But who should he then discover on the very same train bound for Oklahoma?

About the author:

Annee Jones is an author of heartwarming romance, cozy mystery, fantasy, & more. She is passionate about writing stories that offer readers a place where dreams come true and love wins!

Professionally, Annee works as a disability counselor where she helps her clients navigate through complex medical and legal systems while rediscovering their wholeness in Spirit.

Annee also enjoys freelance writing for Publishers Weekly and multiple publishing companies.

Follow Links:

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Annee-Jones/e/B08KSFSHX1/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21136605/

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/annee…

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnneeJones

Website www.anneejones.com

Title: The Hoyden and the Rake
Author: Victoria Price
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: January 18, 2022
Cover Design: Amanda Walker

“A light, engaging romance with all of the necessary historical trimmings.” ~ KIRKUS INDIE


“I recommend this book to all those who love the classical style of writing and wish to go back to different a era – if only for the length of an amazing story.” ~ Fatima Aladdin

The Hoyden and the Rake follows the escapades of a young debutante Fiona, as she flees home to avoid the unwanted advances of her suitor. Her attempt to escape is foiled, when her getaway vehicle gets involved in an accident and she is forced to take shelter in the home of her brother’s sworn enemy Phillip, the Earl of Sheffield. Phillip who is shunned by the ton for his dark past, is a reluctant host to the impetuous young lady who turns his orderly world upside down. Sparks fly despite their resolve, and when discovered in a compromising situation, a duel between Fiona’s brother Ted and Phillip is inevitable. As the demands of society and Phillip’s reputation as a heartless rake, keep them apart and Fiona and Phillip continue to fight their growing attraction to each other. Fiona wishes to marry only for love and will not accept Phillip even to save her own reputation. Phillip, branded by the torch of love in his past, no longer trusts his own heart. How the two stubborn lovers find each other forms the rest of the story.
⋆ Come meet Victoria Price (signing as Pria Dee) at the Once Upon a Book Signing in Michigan in July 2022!

Fiona sat frozen in shock. Not Sheffield! The carriage door opened, and in the dim light, she recognized the man from the Wandering Goose Inn.

“Care to alight, ma’am?” He extended his hand.

She stared at him in consternation. This was quite the pickle to be in. After running away from home to avoid the advances of one rake, she had ended up in the hands of the most notorious rake of all! The man was known to her by reputation only, though at one time he had been a close friend of dear Ted. However, their relationship had suffered, and to make matters worse, Lord Sheffield had wounded Ted in a duel! She quailed at the thought of accepting aid from one such as him.

His smile faltered. “Well, ma’am? I don’t have all night.”

“Lord Sheffield? I cannot possibly come to your house,” she blurted.

“Not overwhelmed by gratitude, I see,” he drawled. His sardonic expression told her that he had correctly interpreted her reaction to his identity. “I am not in the mood to ravage muddy, soaked maidens today, so you may be at ease that your virtue is safe with me, ma’am.”

Her face reddened further at his crude remarks. “No, you don’t understand, sir! I am Fiona Cavendish. Edward Cavendish is my brother.”

The man stared at her in disbelief. “Oh! Good God! What a damned mess!” She heard him swear under his breath. Her head hurt, and the shock of the accident made it impossible for her to think straight. She stared at him wordlessly, trying to find a way out of the unbearable situation. He appeared to come to a decision. “There is nothing for it but that you must take shelter at my house tonight.”

Fiona shook her head. “No! I will not! My brother will be most distressed. Please take me and my people to the nearest posting house, I beg you.”

“Your brother is not here, and you must be addle-witted to suppose that I will allow my coachman or cattle to drive anywhere in this weather. You may have no concern for the well-being of your staff, as is evident in the fact that you chose to be out on the road on a night like this, but I value the lives of my people. I will be damned if I am going to stand in the rain and argue with you. Please alight and let me show you into the house.”

Fiona shook her head stubbornly. “I will not set foot in your house willingly, my lord.”

“Very well then, let it be noted that you came into my house most unwillingly.” Without preamble, he picked her up as if she were a child and carried her from the carriage. A footman hovered beside them, protecting them with an umbrella as his lordship strode purposefully into the house.

Fiona was too surprised to protest until she saw that he was not setting her down in the hall as she expected and instead was carrying her up the stairs. She then struggled furiously against him. “Put me down at once. Where are you taking me?” Her voice sounded querulous to her own ears.

“Why, to bed of course,” he replied, innuendo dripping in his cynical voice, and he leered at her dramatically, all the while ignoring her protests and struggles.

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kissed cover

Title: Kissed

Author: M.C. Frank

Series: Rakes and Ruin (4) Standalone

Release date: 13th June 2022

Hardcover: 390 pages

Genre/categories: Regency Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical RomCom

Blurb

What happens after she is woken by his kiss?

Lady Adelina Halifax has never been kissed, which honestly is the second worst thing that can happen to a young lady. Apart from being left at the altar, of course. And publicly losing her reputation.

Adelina might just have ruined her first Season, earning the reputation of a fast and spoiled debutante, and ending up being jilted by her own bridegroom. But before she can accept the hated fate of a spinster she is determined to do one thing right: She will be kissed before the Season ends. But by whom?

Enter Lord Burns. Golden-haired. Rich. Loyal. Kind. A war hero. Has the face and stature of Apollo. Is desperately in love with Adelina. There is just one problem: She hates the very sight of him.

But it can’t be helped. She will try to swallow her distaste of the man and his proper, gentlemanly ways that force him to always want to rescue her. He will be perfect to practice kissing with, since no one else wants to.

Here are the “kissing game” rules:

  • Lord Burns is absolutely forbidden to transform her into a proper lady.
  • He is absolutely forbidden to ask her to marry him.
  • He is absolutely forbidden to stop kissing her (until she says so).

There. Now she is completely safe. What are the chances that she will end up falling desperately in love with Lord Burns while he learns to loathe the very sight of her? The very idea! Impossible.

And then, the kissing begins.

Kissed is a hate-to-love-to-hate-to… Regency romance that will melt like chocolate in your mouth.

BUY LINKS

 Ebook preorder: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B092JDW6KR

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58609619-kissed

Recommended for fans of: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Bridgertons Netflix show, Friends to enemies to lovers, Emma, grumpy/sunshine trope, Pining trope, Hero falls in love first trope.

Content Warning for: Mention of past mental and emotional abuse and trauma, mention and description of mental disease, mention of war, description of PTSD episodes.

Series: Kees & Colliers Series

Author: Kellyn Roth
Cover Design: Cover Culture
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction/Teen & Adult
 
 
 

 
 
 
Adele has been lost for a long time now …

Adele Collier has sought a carefree lifestyle ever since her tragic childhood. Determined to never allow anyone or anything to control her life or emotions again, she consistently seeks distraction in gaiety. But shaking her ghosts isn’t as easy as she’d like.

Troy Kee has been alone in the world since the Great War took his parents and left him in charge of his younger sister. When she marries, he’s left to seek after his goal of a healthy, complete family. But how can he focus on his dream when trouble plagues his family vineyard?

When Adele and Troy meet, a whirlwind romance begins—but can two lost souls have a healthy relationship?
 
 
 
 
HER ENTIRE WORLD IS CHANGING—AND THERE’S NOT MUCH LEFT TO HOLD ON TO …
 
When her husband goes off to war, Adele feels lost and confused. In a new, less-than-ideal place in a frightening, less-than-ideal time, she flees to the garden with her daughters, determined to make their new house a home, even if it is from the outside in.
Battered by her own inner turmoil and scoffed at by those close to her, Adele seeks to make something beautiful amidst chaos. But can even the most beautiful flowers cover the years of scars?
 
 
IS IT TOO LATE FOR ADELE TO RETURN TO HER DAUGHTER’S LIFE?
When her ex-husband reappears in her life determined to spend more time with their child, Adele Collier allows him to take Judy to France for the summer. As the summer goes by, an internal battle rages in Adele’s heart. Can she give up her glamorous lifestyle to win her daughter’s heart?
Six-year-old Judy is more than happy to trade Adele’s neglect for her father’s adoring care. She loves his vineyard and wishes she could stay there forever, but someday she must return to England. Can Judy trust her mother again?
 
 
 
 
Kellyn Roth is a historical romance & women’s fiction author who writes about the empty places where hope has the most room to grow. Her novels include the inspirational Victorian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, which follows a broken family in the tumultuous years of the first half of the 20th century.

Kellyn is a student of the Author Conservatory, a virtual assistant, and a writing coach. When not building her author career, she is likely getting lost somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with her friends, watching period dramas and facetious comedies, or spending time with her husband.

 
 


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 ★✩★ RELEASE TOUR ★✩★

The True Purpose of Vines

Book 1 in the Winemaker Series.

By Giovanna Siniscalchi

GOODREADS

Hosted by DS Book Promotions

AMAZON

  US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

   UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

CA https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

       AU https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

NOOK:  https://books2read.com/u/47Q6zq

Blurb:

Portugal, 1870

A winemaker desperate to save her vineyards…

Julia Costa is the best winemaker in the Douro. When a greedy businessman threatens the land her family has held for generations, Julia defends her legacy and independence by any means necessary.

The Englishman sent to uncover her secrets…

The last thing Griffin Maxwell wants is to waste time mired in a Portuguese backwater. Still, to guarantee a partnership with Oporto’s largest trading firm, he agrees to travel up the Douro River and chase some reluctant debtor.

A meeting of two cultures…

Nothing prepared Griffin for the headstrong winemaker. Alluring, she tempts him into enjoying Portugal’s vibrant tastes and is a threat to his carefully constructed plans. The arrogant Englishman arrived at Julia’s lands, believing himself entitled to everything, including her heart. But how can she resist an attraction headier than a vintage?

An enemy too powerful to fight alone…

When a mysterious plague decimates Europe’s vineyards, Griffin and Julia struggle to find a cure, blind-tasting their way into an intoxicating passion. But reality demands an answer: will they allow cultural differences to keep them apart, or will they fight for the love of a lifetime?

About Giovanna Siniscalchi:

Stories are the very fabric of life. I want to transport readers to exotic settings, where they can find romance and happy endings and hopefully bring some back to their daily lives. Portugal brims with beauty and passion, and I research every tiny detail of my novels, hoping to make the reader treasure my grandparents’ country as I do. I have a loving husband who still is my hero and two amazing kids. When it’s cold and rainy, I run inside to read and watch movies under blankets, sipping wine. You can find me on the beach during summer, surfing with my family.

Follow Links Here:

AMAZON https://www.amazon.com/Giovanna-Siniscalchi/e/B09W7PBBKR/

FACEBOOK  https://www.facebook.com/Giovanna-Siniscalchi-100318749253629/

INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/giovannasiniscalchi/

GOODREADS https://tinyurl.com/yk4pkvfw

BOOKBUB https://partners.bookbub.com/authors/6409343/

Title: Flowers in Her Heart
Series: Kees & Colliers #3
Author: Kellyn Roth
Cover Design: Cover Culture
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction/Teen & Adult
Release Date: April 26, 2022
HER ENTIRE WORLD IS CHANGING—AND THERE’S NOT MUCH LEFT TO HOLD ON TO …
 
When her husband goes off to war, Adele feels lost and confused. In a new, less-than-ideal place in a frightening, less-than-ideal time, she flees to the garden with her daughters, determined to make their new house a home, even if it is from the outside in.
Battered by her own inner turmoil and scoffed at by those close to her, Adele seeks to make something beautiful amidst chaos. But can even the most beautiful flowers cover the years of scars?
 
 

Kellyn Roth is a historical romance & women’s fiction author who writes about the empty places where hope has the most room to grow. Her novels include the inspirational Victorian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, which follows a broken family in the tumultuous years of the first half of the 20th century.

Kellyn is a student of the Author Conservatory, a virtual assistant, and a writing coach. When not building her author career, she is likely getting lost somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with her friends, watching period dramas and facetious comedies, or spending time with her husband.

 

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★✩★ NEW RELEASE ★✩★

The True Purpose of Vines

Book 1 in the Winemaker Series.

By Giovanna Siniscalchi

GOODREADS

Hosted by DS Book Promotions

AMAZON

       US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

         UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

    CA https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

             AU https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09W6CL8RQ/

NOOK:  https://books2read.com/u/47Q6zq

Blurb:

Portugal, 1870

A winemaker desperate to save her vineyards…

Julia Costa is the best winemaker in the Douro. When a greedy businessman threatens the land her family has held for generations, Julia defends her legacy and independence by any means necessary.

The Englishman sent to uncover her secrets…

The last thing Griffin Maxwell wants is to waste time mired in a Portuguese backwater. Still, to guarantee a partnership with Oporto’s largest trading firm, he agrees to travel up the Douro River and chase some reluctant debtor.

A meeting of two cultures…

Nothing prepared Griffin for the headstrong winemaker. Alluring, she tempts him into enjoying Portugal’s vibrant tastes and is a threat to his carefully constructed plans. The arrogant Englishman arrived at Julia’s lands, believing himself entitled to everything, including her heart. But how can she resist an attraction headier than a vintage?

An enemy too powerful to fight alone…

When a mysterious plague decimates Europe’s vineyards, Griffin and Julia struggle to find a cure, blind-tasting their way into an intoxicating passion. But reality demands an answer: will they allow cultural differences to keep them apart, or will they fight for the love of a lifetime?

About Giovanna Siniscalchi:

Stories are the very fabric of life. I want to transport readers to exotic settings, where they can find romance and happy endings and hopefully bring some back to their daily lives. Portugal brims with beauty and passion, and I research every tiny detail of my novels, hoping to make the reader treasure my grandparents’ country as I do. I have a loving husband who still is my hero and two amazing kids. When it’s cold and rainy, I run inside to read and watch movies under blankets, sipping wine. You can find me on the beach during summer, surfing with my family.

Follow Links Here:

AMAZON https://www.amazon.com/Giovanna-Siniscalchi/e/B09W7PBBKR/

FACEBOOK  https://www.facebook.com/Giovanna-Siniscalchi-100318749253629/

INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/giovannasiniscalchi/

GOODREADS https://tinyurl.com/yk4pkvfw

BOOKBUB https://partners.bookbub.com/authors/6409343/

Title: The Lady of the Vineyard
Series: Kees & Colliers #2
Author: Kellyn Roth
Cover Design: Cover Culture
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction/Teen & Adult
Release Date: April 19, 2022
IS IT TOO LATE FOR ADELE TO RETURN TO HER DAUGHTER’S LIFE?
When her ex-husband reappears in her life determined to spend more time with their child, Adele Collier allows him to take Judy to France for the summer. As the summer goes by, an internal battle rages in Adele’s heart. Can she give up her glamorous lifestyle to win her daughter’s heart?
Six-year-old Judy is more than happy to trade Adele’s neglect for her father’s adoring care. She loves his vineyard and wishes she could stay there forever, but someday she must return to England. Can Judy trust her mother again?
 
 

By the time Granny, Aunt Millie, and Judy finished cleaning the incredibly cluttered flat, it was past noon and soon Judy’s “little friends,” as Granny called them, would be arriving for the party.

In truth, Judy didn’t know her “friends.” They were all grandchildren of her granny’s many church friends who Judy had only met a few times and didn’t much care for. But she supposed that wasn’t quite fair. She just didn’t know them.

However, Granny wanted Judy to have friends, so Judy would try. She’d do anything to please Granny, after all. Who else in this world did she have to please who would actually notice?

Aunt Millie, she supposed, but Aunt Millie just wanted a hug every so often and some acknowledgement that she existed. Judy could do that. After all, wasn’t that what she wanted, too?

Granny set about preparing the refreshments only to find a disturbing lack of the correct ingredients. So she gave Judy a list and told her to run across the street to the grocery and give it to Mr. Tilney along with a little purse containing the sum that would be required to make the purchases.

As Judy exited the flat building, she noticed a tall, skinny man sitting on the curb, wearing a rumpled business suit. He had removed his hat and was twirling it around and around on his finger. His reddish hair was messy and his blue eyes distant. He had a small mustache on his upper lip—at least it was neatly clipped, though. A mustache was bad enough, but a messy mustache was unbearable in Judy’s opinion.

Judy tilted her head to the side, took a step nearer the man, and tried to see what he was staring at across the street.

She could see nothing worth such serious deliberation. Just Mr. Tilney’s store and Mother’s flower shop and the small flat over the flower shop.

The man seemed to be staring at nothing, into a distance that didn’t really exist.

He turned. The two stared at each other for a few incredibly long seconds before he cleared his throat.

“Who are you?” His voice was strangled, and his eyes fastened on her face in a hungry sort of way.

She didn’t know what to think of that. It didn’t seem mean, but she’d been given so many warnings about mean men that she knew she ought to be cautious. “Judy.” Surely telling him her name wouldn’t hurt a thing.

“I know. At least, most of me knew.” The man straightened his back and looked her up and down before returning to her face, a bashful grin twisting his lips.

“Then why did you ask?” asked Judy.

“Because I wanted to be sure.” He ran a hand through his hair and watched her with eyes a bit closed, like he was wincing in pain. “Sometimes it’s good to double check before assuming something, especially if you’ve gotten in trouble before for not being sure and assuming and moving too fast for your own good.”

“Oh.” That made sense, she supposed. Caution was definitely preferable. One didn’t make mistakes if one were cautious, and mistakes weren’t something her mother appreciated. Especially ones that caused a mess Mother had to clean up. Not that she ever cleaned unless she absolutely must. Mother didn’t mind most messes. The cleaning up messes part, however? It made Mother most cross. Judy hated when her mother went from not caring at all to being cross. It was the worst feeling in the world.

“You look like your Aunt Lola,” said the man, referring to the paternal aunt who visited occasionally. “But your hair isn’t curly like hers.”

“I know,” said Judy. “It’s curlier when my braids aren’t so tight.” She tugged one to show how tight and unforgiving it was.

“Mine would curl if I let it grow, probably. Like my mother’s hair.” His voice was raspy, and Judy wondered if it was always like that or if he was just sad right then. “Who told you you look like her?”

“Aunt Lola,” said Judy.

“Oh.” He stood. Judy was obliged to crane her neck to continue looking him in the eye. He was quite tall, and not just because Judy was quite short. Her mother was half his size, she was sure. “Are you supposed to be talking to strangers?” the man asked.

Judy shook her head. “I’m supposed to be getting these things and hurrying back,” she said, holding up the slip of paper.

He accepted the grocery list and gave it a looking over before passing it back to her. “Well, then you’d best be about your business.”

“Will you be about your business, too?” Judy asked.

The man nodded, and his voice cleared a bit as he replied. “I will. I need to see my sister before I go to a party, or she’ll be mad at me. We can’t have that.”

“Good. You looked lonely sitting on the street there.”

“Did I?” The man had an odd little twist to his lips now that told her he had some sort of feeling that wasn’t quite comfortable.

Judy offered a bit of a smile to set him at ease. “Yes. And that’s no good! After all, there are so many people in the world that one oughtn’t to be lonely!”

Or at least one oughtn’t to be lonely when one was a big man who could go anywhere and meet anyone. Judy couldn’t really make friends because she got in trouble for wandering off, and it was hard enough making friends anyway, but the man could do anything he wanted. He could make dozens of friends. Judy felt a flash of jealousy but quickly reined it in.

The man laughed dryly. “Well, what if there was only one person in the world a fellow wanted to be with?”

“Then he’d better be with that person.” Judy glanced across the street. “I’d better go. Granny will be worried. Besides, I guess you are a stranger, and Aunt Millie says you might be mean, even in places I think are safe. She’s most afraid someone will be mean to me.”

“Very well. Run along, Judy.”

Judy paused. “How’d you know my name?” Strangers weren’t supposed to know her name.

“You told me, baby,” the man reminded her, eyes twinkling.

“Oh,” said Judy. She stood still for a moment, contemplating whether strangers ought to call her “baby,” then she hurried across the street and into Mr. Tilney’s store.

In no time at all, she was back out with the groceries. The man was gone.

Kellyn Roth is a historical romance & women’s fiction author who writes about the empty places where hope has the most room to grow. Her novels include the inspirational Victorian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, and the Kees & Colliers series, which follows a broken family in the tumultuous years of the first half of the 20th century.

Kellyn is a student of the Author Conservatory, a virtual assistant, and a writing coach. When not building her author career, she is likely getting lost somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with her friends, watching period dramas and facetious comedies, or spending time with her husband.

 

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