THE JADE EMPEROR
A marriage of nearly half a century faces its greatest challenge when a stranger arrives, bearing life changing news. Although Steve and Kelly Boyd live together, they barely tolerate each other. Marrying in their teens and quickly becoming parents, the separation due to the war in Vietnam forms the foundation for the next forty-five precarious years.
Filling the empty marriage with the companionship of her twin sister, Karen, and the family she made with Steve, Kelly’s life revolves around her six adult children.
The stranger’s sudden appearance clarifies so much about Steve’s lifetime behavior to Kelly.
Heartfelt conversations at the local coffee shop where son Reggie works as a barista, help the family resolve differences, build new relationships, and grow in acceptance of one another.
At the end, love outweighs everything.
Before night fall, Kelly Boyd’s life revolved around her marriage and children. After sundown that same day, many of the things she’d based her life on would no longer exist.
In Michigan, autumn meant apple cider and donuts; pumpkins piled high at every market, the pungent smells of campfires in backyard fire pits, and hay bales stacked decoratively on suburban porches instead of in horse and sheep troughs. Loving fall the best out of all the seasons, Kelly hoped to spend part of the upcoming weekend visiting a local cider mill with her children and grandchildren, initiating the onset of autumn. No one questioned what the weekends would bring; Kelly had something planned for each one far in advance. Looking forward to it all week, the excitement and anticipation made the stress of her job recede. Kelly didn’t need vacations; cruises and trips to exotic places held no interest for her because her family provided all she needed in life.
Simmering away in the back of her subconscious was a seed of non-specific unease that grew and festered if she gave it too much of her attention. A common occurrence for her, she thought it was simply women’s intuition instigating worry with no foundation. Sticking rigorously to her schedule no matter what; her husband, Steve once joked that he could be having a heart attack on the floor, and Kelly would finish whatever task she was doing before she’d stop to call 911.
“That’s not even funny,” she replied the first time he said it, frowning, but he wouldn’t relent.
The routine had become essential for her wellbeing. After a week of grueling hospital work as a nurse, Kelly spent each Friday night cleaning house so the weekend would be free. Dinner long over, she’d talk on the phone to her sister with reruns of Hoarders on the television as background noise while she cleaned. Steve, her husband of over forty years, sequestered in his basement man-cave watching sporting events on a ninety-inch flat screen, was oblivious to whatever Kelly was up to until he heard the vacuum running.
On this particular Friday, the weather was warm; the last days of Indian summer in progress, and in honor of it she’d left the front door open, locking the storm door. While mopping the wood floors that covered the dining room and front hallway, she heard a car pull up in front of the house.
“Hold on for a minute,” she told her sister, holding on to the phone.
Going to the door, she looked out at a Yellow Cab that had stopped directly in front of their house. A tall, thin, man got out of the back, and leaned through the window to chat with the driver. Kelly saw him reach into his pocket to retrieve paper money, watching as he counted out bills, handing them through the window. The driver drove off, and it wasn’t until then that Kelly realized the man was headed to her house.
“Beaver, come,” she called to the dog in a low voice.
Their shepherd – boxer mix obediently came to her side and gave a low growl as he watched the man walk up the steps. Wishing the TV wasn’t on so loud; if she needed to yell for Steve, he’d never hear her. Standing with the mop handle in her hand, the young man came up the steps, smiling. Attractive, clean cut, and possibly Asian, she thought if he’s going to attack me, he’d bust through the door right away, but the dog would get him.
“Hi, I’m sorry to show up at this hour. Is Augustus Boyd here?” he said loud enough to be heard through the glass.
It was uncommon for someone to come to their house late, and never for her husband. Kelly hesitated, wondering if she should at least ask his name, or why he wanted to speak to Steve, but decided against it; she’d let Steve handle it.
“I’ll get him. Wait here just a moment.”
The young man nodded his head, and Kelly, on a whim, shut the big door and locked it, putting her mop handle against the wall, moving quickly to the basement landing. She opened the door and ran down the steps. Steve looked up when she entered his den.
“There’s a man at the door asking for Augustus.”
“Did he give a name?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I was standing there like an ass with the door wide open cleaning when the cab let him out, and all I thought of was how quickly I could get the door shut without offending him.”
Steve got out of his recliner and followed her up the stairs.
“Who’d come here in a cab?” he said, his lips set in a line.
“I have no idea.” Kelly stepped aside so Steve could get to the door.
Opening it, the young man looked at Steve, smiling. They watched each other, looking into each other’s eyes.
“Can I help you?” Steve asked, his heart pounding, the unfamiliar intrusion upsetting.
Not a deep thinker, something told Steve this man would alter the course of his life.
“Can I talk to you in private?” the young man asked, looking around Steve’s shoulder at Kelly.
Steve looked at her, too and shrugged his shoulders. He unlocked the storm door.
“Sure,” he said, stepping out onto the porch, closing the door behind him.
Kelly wondered what could be so important, or so private that the man couldn’t talk about it in front of her. Picking up the phone, she spoke, but her sister had hung up. Calling her back, for the next ten minutes, they speculated about who it might be.
“I’ll call you as soon as I know what’s going on,” she said before hanging up.
Walking to their bedroom, she grabbed the linen hamper, circling through the rooms on that floor to grab what needed washing, taking it to the basement. Nothing, not even a mysterious stranger could disrupt her routine. Moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, she then fed more dirty clothes into the washer. If she timed it right, she‘d have all their laundry done by midnight.
Life had become regimented for Kelly and therefore tolerable; grocery store after work at the beginning of the week, housework on Friday, visiting on Saturday, outings on Sunday. Monday she’d start all over again, cooking for the week, visiting her children when she could in the afternoon, often lingering over their kitchen tables long after she should’ve been home. Getting things done, being organized; that was what mattered to her. Having every area of her life under control was what brought her anxiety-ridden thoughts into submission.
Their six children lived locally. Augie, Jr., twins Ben and Lisa, Ken, Reggie, and Alice. Two were married with children of their own; they lived in houses and apartments spread around town. Proud of her children, she and Steve had worked hard to educate them, and they were all employed in some form.
Running up the stairs with a basket full of folded laundry, she yelped when she opened the door, Steve standing in the kitchen surprising her.
“You scared me. Who was it?” she asked, taking the laundry back to their bedroom.
Not answering, he followed her.
“I’m going to drive him to his hotel so he doesn’t have to wait for a cab,” he said, picking up his wallet and money clip off the dresser.
“Who is he?” she asked again, making his and hers piles on their bed.
He didn’t answer again, and Kelly turned to look at him.
“Steve, who is it?”
“The son of a friend,” he said. “I’ll be gone about an hour. Do you want anything while I’m out?”
It was so odd, him leaving like that on a Friday night; she was concerned only from the standpoint that he’d be safe and nothing else. She didn’t distrust him, certainly. There was no reason not to trust him.
“No, I can’t think of anything. Are you okay?”
Taking a moment to really look at him, he was as white as a sheet. “What’s going on?”
He went to her, took her by the shoulders, kissing her forehead, so out of character; she knew something was terribly wrong. Steve hadn’t kissed her in months.
“I’ll get the full story from him on our way into town. I’ll have my cell phone if you decide you need anything.”
She thought, what would I need?
“Hurry back,” she said, concerned.
Trying to think what friend had a son who’d show up on a doorstep at ten at night, no one came to mind. Steve was a pipefitter, and the shop where he worked had almost a zero turnover. When he retired in one more year, it would be the first opening they’d have in almost fifteen years. She knew everyone he worked with, and his friend-pool, although she could hardly say they were friends, was made up of other pipe-fitters. They’d all worked together since they were kids. Could it be a son of someone from work? She picked up the phone, wanting to speculate with her sister. It was almost eleven, but she knew Karen would still be up, running the vacuum.
“What did the man look like?” Karen asked.
“He might have been Hispanic or Asian,” Kelly said. “Foreign. Tall. Black hair, high cheek bones, almond eyes. I couldn’t really tell because the light is dim on the porch and it was late. Anyway, like no one I know. Maybe late thirties.”
“Well, you’d better text me the minute he comes back because now I won’t sleep. I’m getting ready to take my shot so you know I’ll be up for a while.”
Kelly laughed heartily. Karen had a shot of vodka nightly, and Kelly’s concern for her sister’s liver was a running dialogue.
“Your husband will drink a six pack tonight. How good can that be for his liver?” Karen said. “Pour another glass of wine. You deserve it.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” she said, going to the fridge. “I’m going to do it right now.” She took the bottle out and poured a healthy glass of wine. “Okay, I’m all set. Thank you for listening.”
“Don’t forget to text me,” Karen said.
“I won’t. It might be late. He said an hour but who knows,” Kelly said.
She’d polish the furniture while drinking the wine.
“I’ll talk to you later,” she said.
Suzanne Jenkins Bio Suzanne writes page-turning contemporary romance, mystery, and women’s fiction with passionately gripping characters that stay with readers long after they turn the last page. The Detroit Detective Stories, beginning with The Greeks of Beaubien Street are a reflection of American fantasy with historical reality. Pam of Babylon books consistently rank in the Top 100 Best Sellers in American Drama with over 500,000 downloads. A retired operating room nurse, Jenkins lives in Southern California.
PROMO TOUR FOR PATRICIA CHARLES
Genre: Contemporary Romance with Military Elements
Nothing could drag Kristen McConnell back to re-enacting. Nothing, except the wedding of her best friend. Maybe Creed Graham wouldn’t attend the 150th Battle of the Wilderness. Maybe she wouldn’t see him even if he was.
When Creed discovered Civil War reenacting, he knew it held everything he loved: history, horses, sleeping under the stars, guys drinking beer by the campfire. There was nothing better. Then he met Kirsten McConnell. And she ruined everything for him.
The Wilderness held his salvation. He knew she would return after three long years. This time he would erase her from his heart for good,
While the Battle of the Wilderness rages in explosions of cannon fire, Kirsten can no longer avoid Creed. Will they continue their war or will there be an Unconditional Surrender?
Where else in the entire world but at a reenactment could one cross the lines of history, camp near a forest and go shopping at the same time? She marveled at the people in period clothing as they browsed through the shops—a 19th century shopping mall made of canvas tents. Thousands of men, women and children wandered through the tents for items made especially for reenactors.
The sounds of approaching horses jarred her attention from the earrings. Her hands trembled so much she dropped the jewelry back into the case.
Just because there were cavalry, didn’t mean Creed would be riding with them. Maybe he hadn’t even come, Kirsten rationalized. Perhaps he gave up reenacting long ago.
But as the pounding hooves on the dirt road grew closer, her heart mimicked their thunder. She wiped the perspiration from her quivering hands onto her skirt.
Get it over with. You’ll be anticipating him to be on every horse you hear or see. On the other hand, if she could avoid him for the weekend, she wouldn’t have to address the problems that plagued her so long.
Yet, if she came face-to-face with him again, she might be disappointed. Could it be that only his memory caused her heart to flutter? Impulse drove her to the edge of the sutler’s tent. Hiding behind the rows of Confederate butternut jackets hanging at the edge of the tent so he wouldn’t see her, she peeked over the clothes as the tide of Yankee blue surged upon her. She glanced from face to face, searching for the one who made her anticipating heart threaten to burst from her body.
The snake-like column drew to an end. No Creed. Relief overcame curiosity, and she glided from her hiding place.
Then, as if the devil played with her heart, he appeared at the tail of the procession. Their eyes met. He squinted through the dust at her. Beneath his slouch hat, a frown creased his forehead, and his teeth clenched.
Recognition. Yes, he recognized her, and she recognized something also. If she ever doubted, she appreciated that he was still the most handsome man in the world, at least to her. Steeling herself, Kirsten faced the man she would love forever.
As he neared, she recalled his tousled hair when he woke at her side and how his original declaration of love caused her to sob so hard she couldn’t answer. Most of all, she remembered the look in his eyes as they glowed with desire.
Yet today was different, not just because they already had loved each other or because he proposed and she accepted. Her heart still trembled as it had every time she looked at him, but today was different mainly because a young boy, perhaps two years old, sat before him on the saddle. The child was a close duplicate of Creed from his black hair covered with a Yankee kepi to the boots on his tiny feet. He looked up at Creed with a smile and adoration.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Sinner or saint?
When Celine St. Pierre is murdered under the canopy of oaks on St. Charles Avenue, questions arise about this New Orleans sainted woman, and Assistant District Attorney Claressa Dupré vows to find the answers. Top of her list of suspects is the sexy Texan, West Morgan, IV.
Wealthy oil baron Weston Morgan, IV, arrived in New Orleans on a mission to return to Texas what Celine St. Pierre stole from him and his family. But the woman’s death throws a monkey wrench in the works and pins him as the top suspect in the murder investigation. Further complicating his life is the beautiful but determined Clarissa Dupré, whom he can’t seem to get close enough to or far enough from.
As the investigation spirals out of control, Clarissa and Morgan find that nothing is simple in The Big Easy.
The evidence against West Morgan in Celine St. Pierre’s death practically stuffed the valise she carried. Yet she lacked the most important: motive. Why had Morgan come to New Orleans? Why had he killed Celine? What circumstances had driven him to murder? Not that she needed a motive, but she’d learned juries preferred it.
Astonishingly, his attorneys had asked to meet with her.
“Mr. Morgan.” She glanced up from her notes. Eyes cold, calculating, and conceited gazed back at her through hooded lids. Celine St. Pierre hadn’t stood a chance.
“I only have a few questions.”
“Take all the time you need,” he answered. “I’ve nothing else on my agenda today.”
“Why did you kill Celine St. Pierre?”
“Didn’t you?” She glanced at the three attorneys, and suddenly she envisioned the three monkeys: see, hear, and speak no evil. “Then prove it to me.”
Removing the Stetson, he threaded his fingers through his hair. “Hell, Honey, I don’t have to. Remember? I’m innocent until you prove otherwise.”
Honey? She’d worked long and hard to get where she was. No one called her, “Honey.”
His hand was on the doorknob.
“Mr. Morgan, you agreed to answer some questions.”
After several anxious moments, Morgan shrugged off his attorney’s instructions not to answer. “Ask away.”
Glancing back at the note pad where she had listed the questions, she proceeded. “Why did you sell more than half of your assets before you came to New Orleans?”
He sat in the hard wooden chair at the end of the table, like a corporate giant ruling his boardroom. Crossing one leg over the other, he rested his ankle on his knee and his Stetson on the table. His long legs appeared to go on forever.
She asked again, “Why did you sell off your assets?”
“Ask my accountant.”
“I have.” She waited, hoping he would reply. Nothing.
“Why did you put all of it into checking accounts?”
“I’ve been to New Orleans before,” he said, and Claressa inched forward, anticipating his answer, the last puzzle piece. “Knowing your city’s reputation, I didn’t want to carry that much cash on me.”
Smart aleck. “And why would you need that much money during your visit?” At least this cowboy didn’t spurt four-letter words at her. Or lunge for her throat. Not yet, anyway.
Thankful for the civil atmosphere, she took a deep breath and a different route. “How long have you known Celine St. Pierre?”
“Mr. Morgan . . . “
“Mr. Morgan, why did you kill Mrs. St. Pierre?”
He shot forward so quickly that Claressa jerked back. West leaned as far as possible over the wide table and demanded, “Look at me.”
She tilted her chin defiantly, met his gaze, and tried to seem undisturbed.
“I’m successful. I’m rich. Why would I have to kill someone?”
“Rich people kill all the time. Don’t you read the news? Why would you kill Mrs. St. Pierre? What’s the connection?”
Patricia Charles remembers going to the public library when she was a small child. The library was only a block away. Because she was too young to cross the street alone, her older brother reluctantly volunteered to take her. Of course, she wouldn’t let him carry her books. She was a big girl. She had so many books she had to balance them with her chin, and she cried when she had to return them. Books have been in her life as long as she can remember.
Her love of books eventually lead her to the theatre. She has a Master’s of Arts in Drama and Communication and a Master’s of Library and Information Sciences. Naturally, she is a librarian, a medical librarian.
She is a member of the Romance Writers of American, Southern Louisiana Chapter of RWA and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. In 2013, she won Best Historical and Highest Overall Score in the Dixie Kane Contest.
Patricia lives on the Gulf Coast, having moved there from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Frodo, her large 16-pound Pomeranian, likes to lick her feet while she writes.
Quirky, Private Investigator, Sage McGuire can’t seem to stay out of trouble in LOVE ME. Book 3 in the Sage McGuire Romance Series.
Bad-ass, Sergeant Carter Morgan of the Portland Police Department takes risks for a living—but he’d never risked his heart before. From the first flirty look Sage flashes, he is hooked and it has been a roller-coaster ride ever since.
With Carter’s conniving ex-girlfriend, FBI Special Agent Mia Williams, in the looney-bin things finally seem to be settling back to normal, until Mr. Smithfield, Sage’s old boss, appears in her dreams asking for help to avenge his death. Knowing full well it could lead to another trip to the emergency room, Sage agrees to help.
Even with Carter trailing her every move, Sage solves Mr. Smithfield’s murder, and helps put her ex-boss’s wicked bride in jail.
With all the excitement, Sage forgets to buy Carter a Valentine’s Day gift, unless you count the edible, strawberry-flavored panties and banana-flavored massage gel. Carter on the other hand hits it out-of-the-park with a cupcake topped with a very special sparkling surprise.
Can Carter keep Sage safe, and out of trouble long enough to get her down the aisle?
Sage McGuire had a great job she loved. All that changed in the blink of an eye when her long-time boss, Mr. Smithfield, had an accident involving an over-sized rubber band. When Mr. Smithfield’s semi-worthless son, Daniel, takes over Smithfield Laboratories Sage figures it’s time to turn her childhood dream of being a PI into reality.
After a night of unadulterated, mind-blowing sex Sage mistakes Sergeant Carter Morgan of the Portland Police Department for a serial killer and runs for the hills, but his sexy pinecone scent and black leather pants have her coming back for more.
Sage’s wild spirit, crazy red hair, and quirky sense of humor take Carter for the ride of his life and he’s more than willing to stick around and see what kind of trouble Sage can get herself into next.
Hold on tight as Sage and Carter rock each other’s world in KISS ME – A Sage McGuire Romance.
Quirky, Private Investigator, Sage McGuire is up to her ears in trouble again in KISS ME.
Sage has left the security of her old job, as an executive assistant to a moron, and jumped feet-first into opening McGuire Investigations. If only her boyfriend, Sergeant Carter Morgan’s big gun and cop’s intuition could save Sage from being grazed by a bullet to the temple, and another trip to the emergency room when she steals back her best friend’s uncle’s pooch, Mimi, from a psychotic loan shark in her very first case.
Carter’s scary and conniving ex-girlfriend, FBI Special Agent Mia Williams, is back in town and full of trouble. Mia is determined to rekindle her relationship with Carter and she is used to getting what she wants—no matter what the cost.
Will Sage and Carter succeed in keeping each other out of trouble while falling head-over-heels in love?
Stay tuned for another crazy roller-coaster ride in LOVE ME – A Sage McGuire Romance.
Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.
Sharonis a multi-published author of contemporary romance. She loves romance. She loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other’s arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.
One of her favorite things to do is pick up a new book and sink into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.
When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.
Contact Sharon here:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/sharonrkleve
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Kleve/e/B006JAH14S
Library Thing: http://www.librarything.com/profile/SRKLEVE