7 pm PST.

Lynne Marshall

Author of:

All Taylor Clark ever wanted was a normal life and a traditional family, but so far she’s had neither. Soon after discovering that her boyfriend was secretly engaged and she moves to Charity, Montana for a fresh start, she realizes she’s pregnant. As her new friendly and sexy landlord helps her settle in, they become friends, although Taylor has to keep reminding herself to keep her distance. The last thing she needs is to start something new.

As an ex-con, Joe Collins knows a little something about fresh starts. Despite his determination to keep his head down, he can’t ignore Taylor’s natural beauty or obvious vulnerability. In short time, a tentative friendship blooms along with something more precious—trust.

When Taylor’s ex comes to town, he threatens everything that Joe and Taylor have built together. Joe steps up to care for and protect her, even though he risks losing more than the woman he loves.

Shaken and unsure of how to handle her “thing” for Joe, Taylor prepared for her bath.  She gathered clothes and a fresh towel while thinking over the “situation,” her bad timing, and the distraction in her back yard.  And mostly, she thought how hard it was to pretend she didn’t want to see him.  She liked having him around, even though she’d been avoiding him.  She wondered about him all the time. But it wouldn’t be fair to Joe.
She smiled, he’d made up a great excuse to see her today. 
But weren’t they just friends?  Wasn’t that the deal?
         She’d never bothered to notice her other male friends in the exact way she did Joe, like when he’d bent down to toss aside that rock, and his powerful thigh muscles bunched and bulged.  She’d never seen him in shorts before, and definitely liked the view.  He hadn’t shaved today, and strawberry blond stubbles dusted his cheeks.  When she’d first seen him, she’d wanted to trace that bead of sweat on his temple all the way down to his jaw with her finger.
         Snap out of it!
         Taylor made sure the bathroom blinds were securely closed then snatched a huge towel from the rail and wrapped her body tightly.
         These sorts of thoughts about her “friend” confused her and had to stop.  She tapped her forehead on the bathroom wall.  If being pregnant and confused was a bad combination, she could only imagine what being an ex-convict hunk must be like.
         She plopped onto the covered toilet and hugged her knees tightly against her chest.  What she should do, to show her appreciation for Joe taking time off work to do her landscaping, was make him a nice big lunch.   But then she’d have to face him again, and after reminding herself how gorgeous he looked in nylon jogger’s shorts, she might not be able to hide her interest, and that just wouldn’t be right.  There was no point. She was pregnant for crying out loud!
         She peeked out the window.  He was digging, back muscles bunched, arms tight and sculpted.
Okay, this had to stop.  She’d make an excuse about having to run errands and stay as far away from her house as possible until the coast was clear of Joe.  She’d been a runner all her life, she knew how to keep a low profile and dodge anyone she didn’t want to see, even if that person was the sexiest man she’d ever met. 

From daddy?

This story was inspired by JoJo Moyes’ book Me Before You, which was a heartbreaking read. Being a romance writer and reader, well, I simply had to write a story about a disabled hero, a completely different story than hers, with the kind of ending I personally love HEA! (Happily Ever After). So I did and it’s called – Miracle for the Neurosurgeon.

Neurosurgeon Wes Van Allen is used to being at the top of his game, so when an accident puts him in a wheelchair, he’ll push himself to the limit to regain his strength—he just needs a physical therapist who can keep up!
Enter Mary Harris, whose sweet kisses he’s never forgotten! She’ll help Wes achieve his dream, if he helps her achieve hers—a baby! Captivated by Mary’s sunny optimism, dare Wes hope for the ultimate miracle—a family, with Mary by his side?
Here's a link to a preview blog about my research for this book: 

Unedited excerpt:

Mary stepped outside Wes’ front door, her hands shaking, her body quivering.  She leaned against the wall biting her lip, blinking her eyes, until grief overtook her. The man she’d idolized as a teenager was sentenced to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. She’d known it in advance, of course, but seeing him—the same yet so changed—drove the point home and deep into her heart. 
The ocean blurred, her skin flushed with heat, and her pulse jittered through her veins, forcing her to let go of the threatening tears. To stop fighting and release them before she choked and drowned on them. It had been a long time since she’d cried, and they pricked and stung the inside of her eyelids. She buried her face in the bend of her arm, smothering the sudden keening sounds ripping at her throat, thankful the screeching seagulls overpowered her mourning.
Wesley took a break from his demanding routine and peered out the upstairs window, not believing what he was seeing. Heath, his groundskeeper, directed Mary as she backed a tiny portable wood covered house, complete with porch—if you could call that out-pouch a porch—onto the graveled ground beside his unattached garage. So that’s how she’d taken care of living arrangements. She drove the pickup truck like a pro, threw it into park and jumped out to check her handiwork. Clearly satisfied with the parking job, she dusted her hands and went about releasing the hauled house from the towing hitch.
         This wasn’t her first time at that rodeo.
         His guess was that RV sized house couldn’t be more than 200-300 square feet, tops. Sure Mary was petite, no more than five-three and a hundred-ten pounds wringing wet, but it had to be snug in there.  Why would she want to live like that for two months?
         She smiled, and from all the way upstairs he could see the self-satisfaction in her expression.  Determination had always been her saving grace, and he’d admired it. Until just now when she’d trained her grit on him and weaseled her way back into his life. He didn’t need anyone—didn’t his family get it? He shook his head, frustrated, yet amused. That same tenacity had always been the key to her survival. Could he fault her for not letting him send her away?
         He moved further into his gym and grabbed some free weights.
Mary had gotten a lousy start with her parents stumbling their way through life, blaming everyone and everything else on their failings, rather than taking a good look at themselves. Fortunately, she hadn’t picked up their lax habits. In fact, she’d done exactly the opposite—she’d taken a long look at her parents and had become convinced she could do better for herself. Then she’d set out to prove it. And prove it she had. She held a doctorate degree. Could work anywhere she wanted. And at this point in time she’d chosen to work here. Lucky him.
         When Alexandra had first brought her home, Mary was scrawny and wore clothes from thrift shops. They’d been assigned to work on a science project together, and instead of judging Mary on her appearance, Alex had been raised to be open minded. She’d treated Mary like all of her other friends, though those friends were all rich. Without passing judgment, Alexandra had quickly zeroed in on how bright Mary was—beyond how nice and sweet she was—and their team project had taken first place.  She’d also realized that Mary couldn’t always depend on meals at home, so she’d quickly become a regular guest for meals at the Van Allen house. Soon Mary was best friends with his big-hearted sister.
         Back then, he’d also been taken in my Mary’s upbeat spirit, and secretly by her waist-long strawberry blonde hair, which she wore only shoulder length these days. Her shining inquisitive green eyes had stood out like a newly discovered gem in a household of brown-eyed people, and he’d been drawn to her from their very first meeting. Plus, he’d seen something else in that wide and intelligent stare of hers—admiration. Admiration for him. He’d enjoyed knowing his sister’s new best friend had a huge crush on him, accepted it with pride, even fed that crush from time to time.
         But she’d been innocent and vulnerable, and with parents like hers, hungry for love and attention. With a father like his, who had unwavering expectations for him, well Wes had been wise enough to play gently with her heart by keeping her at arm’s length, knowing his future would take a far different direction from hers. Still, selfish eighteen-year-old that he was, he’d strung her along, given her enough attention to keep her hopeful.
         Damn, he’d been mean even then. Or careless? Egotistical for sure. Hadn’t Prince of Westwood been his family nickname? Especially the one time he’d slipped up and let his—what should he call it, curiosity or desire?—get the best of him.
He traded in the first weights and lifted two heavier weights and began vigorously trading repetitions, like a locomotion locked in place.
He’d always been lucky that way, saved from his wandering, kept on the straight and narrow if not by himself, by outside forces, especially by his father, because he was meant to be a doctor. And not just any doctor, a neurosurgeon. He’d planned his entire life around it, and a young, pretty and fresh face like Mary’s couldn’t get in the way. Yes, his parents were open minded about many things, but getting mixed up with a girl literally from the wrong side of the tracks would never be tolerated by dear old Dad.  Alexandra having Mary as a friend had proved to be charitable enough for the Van Allen family
Until her prom two years later. When no one had invited Mary the first week after the school prom kick-off announcement, Alexandra begged Wesley to invite her. He’d fought it at first, knowing there had to be several guys who’d love to take a girl like Mary, unless they were snooty and let her being poor get in the way of good taste. By the end of week two, Alexandra had gotten her mother involved, and what seemed beneath him as a twenty-year-old university student, got foisted upon him. Three years older than all the others attending, he’d been volunteered to take her to the prom. If he’d let himself look deep down, he wouldn’t have been able to deny he still had vague feelings for her. He’d become a sophisticated pre-med student and a seventeen-year-old woman was not only jail bate, but socially undesirable. The Prince of Westwood had taken her to the prom anyway, just so his family could wear the “aren’t we good people” badge.
His worldly-wise self hadn’t expected to be knocked off his feet when he’d seen her that night in the dress his mother had bought. Not as pricey or special as Alexandra’s dress, of course, but perfectly suited for her. His conscience had been dealt its first blow when he’d picked her up at the ratty mobile home park she lived in, her parents not even bothering to make an appearance. Maybe they were embarrassed? Regardless, he’d taken her back to his house where Alexandra and her friends waited to take before-prom pictures, wondering how such a lovely flower had grown in such bleak surroundings.  Then he’d spent the entire evening keeping her at arm’s length, being a boorish cosmopolitan minded university man, The Prince of Westwood lecturing her on making something of her life. Explaining to her how insignificant something like a high school prom registered in the course of a lifetime. So why was he still thinking about it now?
While on his soapbox that night, he’d warned her about guys—like himself—who’d love to take advantage of her.
So wise. So stupid. So moved by her poverty. So protective of her. Out of obligation, he’d asked her to dance and when holding her he’d made the mistake of looking into those eyes, a shade darker than her pastel green dress. Innocent and beautiful and calling out to his soul. To love her.
He knew he couldn’t. He wasn’t nearly enough of a man to risk that. When he’d taken her home, out of gratitude she’d thrown her arms around his neck, and he’d nearly kissed her the way he’d wanted all evening. But he knew it would change everything if he did, and he couldn’t stray from his calling.  Nothing could keep him from medical school, and surely getting involved with a girl like Mary would change his life. For the better? Who knew.
How pompous he’d been, lecturing her on making something of her life, to not get knocked up so nothing could stand in her way. To do it for herself, because no one else could.
He stopped the repetitions and stared out the gym window, down where her crazy little house stood.
The least he could do was let her share her expertise with him. Who knows, he might learn something, and if that helped his recovery and goal to get back to work along, it would be worth all of these memories bombarding him about his unwanted guest.

Author: Here Friday 7 pm PST. 1 Rad-Reader Reviews: Interview Schedule: Guest Authors: Every Friday 7 pm PST. : This Week's Author: Lynne Marshall: HERE BABY, HIS LOVE

Author: Here Friday 
7 pm PST.  
New Authors added in Red

July 28 -  Lynne Marshall
Her Baby, His Love

1 Rad-Reader Reviews: 

Interview Schedule: Guest Authors: Every Friday 7 pm PST.

Aug. 4 – Mary E. Thompson
Chubby & Charming

Aug. 11 – Heidi McLaughlin
Grand Slam #3

Aug. 18 – Violetta Rand
One Taste of Angel

Aug. 25 – Joe Cox
Almost Perfect

Sept. 1 – Kelly Jamieson
Shut Out

Sept. 8 - Aviva Vaughn

Sept. 15 – Trish Milburn
The Rancher’s Surprise Baby

Sept. 22 – Terri Osburn

Rising Star

Sept. 29 – Leigh Lennon

Oct. 6 – Lynn Shurr
An Ashy Affair

Nov. 3 – Leigh Lennon
The Last Breath

Twitter: @1RadReader59

Instagram: @1radreader

Coming Friday 7 pm PST. Lynne Marshall Author of: HER BABY, HIS LOVE SEE EXCERPT

Coming Friday

7 pm PST.

Lynne Marshall

Author of:

All Taylor Clark ever wanted was a normal life and a traditional family, but so far she’s had neither. Soon after discovering that her boyfriend was secretly engaged and she moves to Charity, Montana for a fresh start, she realizes she’s pregnant. As her new friendly and sexy landlord helps her settle in, they become friends, although Taylor has to keep reminding herself to keep her distance. The last thing she needs is to start something new.

As an ex-con, Joe Collins knows a little something about fresh starts. Despite his determination to keep his head down, he can’t ignore Taylor’s natural beauty or obvious vulnerability. In short time, a tentative friendship blooms along with something more precious—trust.

When Taylor’s ex comes to town, he threatens everything that Joe and Taylor have built together. Joe steps up to care for and protect her, even though he risks losing more than the woman he loves.

Joe loaded the large five-gallon containers onto a flat metal wagon and pulled them up to the register with little effort.  Taylor followed behind his lanky strides. Once there, slowly and meticulously he calculated the totals.
Taylor tried not to stare at him so she bought extra planting soil and one small decorative pot she spotted at the last minute.
He smiled and one dimple popped up on his cheek, and while she was in the territory, she noticed a small patch of reddish beard growing just beneath his lower lip. 
As he continued to smile, she glimpsed a tiny gap between otherwise straight front teeth.  His grin seemed kind and welcoming.  Oh, please don’t do that.  She smiled back and felt her cheeks warm up, again.  They stood grinning at each other for an awkward moment or two before it occurred to her that he was waiting for her to pay.
“Oh!  Excuse me.” She got out her debut card then handed it to him. “Here.”
He was still smiling when he took it.  Fine lines fanned out from those pale brown eyes on an otherwise tanned face.  He had a long nose, masculine and appealing.  Deep creases shot up his cheeks and accentuated his single-dimple smile.  She recovered from his charming assault while he ran the card through the machine.
When the nurseryman handed her the receipt, she avoided his gaze.  All men were scoundrels weren’t they?  He walked her and the purchases to the car in humble silence making her want to squirm; still she couldn’t ignore how well he filled out his jeans.  After pulling the wagon to the bumper, he lay plastic on the back seat and car floor with great care placed the shrubs inside.
He certainly didn’t seem like a scoundrel.  Problem was, neither had Clay, nor Matt, nor Gary, nor Rich, at first, and her judgment was still in serious need of adjustment.
“Thank you for all of your help,” Taylor said.  “It was very … helpful.” Cringe.
“You’re welcome, Taylor.”  He surprised her.  She figured he noticed her name from the debit card.  She looked for a nametag or something on him, but couldn’t find one.  Once again, stuck without words, and hesitant to ask his name figuring what was the point, she simply nodded when he shut the hatchback.
Just before pulling the empty cart back to the front of the nursery, Joe Collins stopped and watched the sleek, auburn-haired woman, with amazing green eyes, wipe the dust from her hands and get into her car.  He’d noticed her when she’d first walked into the nursery.  He’d gone back to work, but attempted to keep track of her whereabouts without being too obvious.  Because of the headphones, he’d hardly heard the sound of her sandals crunching on gravel when she’d approached.  The sight of the woman’s feet, complete with a delicate braided silver toe ring and deep red pedicure, had highjacked his attention.  Something he hadn’t allowed himself to feel in ages had made itself known and surprised him. Attraction.
Those feet were attached to long, shapely legs that had been close enough to touch, and a verse from the Song of Solomon came to mind - How beautiful your sandaled feet… your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman’s hands.  To distract from his wayward thoughts, he’d spoken to her and helped her choose the plants.
His gaze lingered on the foot that dangled gracefully a second or two before slipping inside her car.  He returned the headphones to his ears and released the pause button as she backed out and drove off.  Another verse accompanied an uncomfortable longing.  Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun? 
Now itchy and restless, he switched from classical to country.  The up-tempo song helped blast away his unwanted feelings until a short time later, when Brad Paisley sang some words that hit home, and Joe agreed that life was more interesting now that Taylor had come to town.

When I sat down to write this book, I had the image of a formerly bubbly, beautiful young woman, who had changed drastically in the thirteen years since she’d met and fallen in love with her high-school sweetheart. He’d left for boot camp, been chosen for Special Forces, become a Green Beret medic, traveled the world, and carried on with his life. She’d made a painful decision, harbored a huge secret, and paid a devastatingly high emotional price. And it had changed her life. The choices we make in our youth often come back to haunt us.

As this reunion story unfolds, I hope you’ll fall in love with my gorgeous hero, Beck, as much as I did. And I suspect, once you’ve scratched the gruff exterior of my heroine, January, you’ll want to be friends with her.
A bit about Special Forces medics here. They are first on scene in the battlefield, and what they do for the injured can save lives. Their training is intense, and in all my years in nursing I haven’t come close to doing many of the procedures our medics learn in their Special Forces training. Hats off to those who volunteer for this difficult job. There is only one word to describe them. Heroes!
I love to hear from readers. If I’ve struck a chord with you in this book, let me know. Or if you’d just like to say hello, you can visit me at my website:

Thirteen years back Beck Braxton enlisted in the Army and left town, but not before asking his girl to wait for him. She didn't. Now he needs a Medic refresher course and the RN he's assigned to is the last person he wants to see.

January Stewart gave up being that bubbly, carefree girl who'd fallen in love with her high school bad boy when she was forced to make a painful decision all by herself. Thirteen years later she harbors a huge secret.  

She owes him the truth. He wants to get even. But that old chemistry keeps messing up their plans...

Jan finally had a chance to take her dinner break around eight p.m. She notified Carmen and headed for the nurses’ lounge. Unable to wait one more second to read the special letter, she dug it out of her pocket and ripped it open. This time every year, as promised, the updated letter arrived.

A shining smile from Meghan Jean greeted her inside the envelope. She’d be twelve and a half now, and in seventh grade. Long dark brown French braids rested on her bony shoulders. A handful of freckles were sprinkled across her nose, a nose very much like Jan’s. But the eyes were definitely placed and shaped like her father’s, except their color was hers.
Dear January,
We’re reporting in on this year’s progress with our daughter. Meghan has joined the track team and also loves to dance. She scored in the top ten percent for her annual scholastic testing and her teachers want to place her in some gifted classes. It seems that out of the blue she has discovered a love of art, and wants to take painting classes. She continues to be a warm and loving girl with a natural excitement and curiosity for life even though puberty is fast approaching. Meghan absolutely hates wearing braces, but we’ve discovered clear wires and sometimes she likes to have bright blue ones applied just for fun. As you know, she’s quite the ham and keeps Daryl and me laughing. We promised her a Disney World vacation this year and she can barely go to sleep each night from thinking about it.
On another note, something new has cropped up in school. Meghan’s science class is studying genetics and genealogy and she is suddenly bursting with questions about her birth parents. Would it be okay for us to tell her a bit more about you? We understand that you never named the father, but if there is any information whatsoever you can provide, we’d appreciate it.
As always, Daryl and I are so grateful to you for your unselfish act and want you to know we treat our daughter as the precious gift she is. We pray that life is treating you well.
All the best,
The Williams
The last part of the letter went blurry. Had it been an unselfish act? Could giving her daughter away to strangers in an open adoption be considered anything less than an easy way out for a frightened seventeen-year-old? Sure, they had been well screened, willing and anxious to become parents, but they’d solved her “problem” and life had never been the same since.
She glanced again at the school picture, and choked back her tears.
The door flew open behind her. “Apparently only the nurses keep fresh coffee in the pot,” Beck said.
Jan startled, dropping the letter, and the picture went flying through the air to the floor. She scrambled to reach it before Beck could see, but he was just as quick.
She leaned. He knelt. They almost bumped heads. They looked into each other’s eyes. Fear of being found out sent a rocket fueled with adrenaline through her chest. His hand rested on top of hers on the picture on the floor.

Lynne Marshall used to worry she had a serious problem with day dreaming, until she discovered she was supposed to write those stories. Now traditionally published with Harlequin for more than ten years with over twenty-five books as a category romance author, and more recently with TULE Publishing, she has also gone hybrid.  She is a Southern California native, has been married to a New Englander for a long time, and has two adult children of whom she is super proud. She is also an adoring grandmother of two beautiful little girls, a woman of faith, a dog lover (Milo can vouch for that), a cat admirer, a meandering walker, a curious traveler, and an optimistic participant in this wild journey called life.



Jane Austen’s Emma made a habit of meddling in other people’s lives, but Melanie Abbott has turned it into a cottage industry.

As “modern American royalty” living in Abbott’s Bay, Massachusetts, a town founded by her ancestor, Melanie Abbott feels it’s her right—even her duty—to employ her uncanny knack for knowing exactly what everyone needs to improve their lives. She eagerly shares her wisdom and insight with her friends and neighbors . . . whether they ask for it or not. If only Conn Garvey, her dearest friend, agreed with her.

Connacht Garvey has been keeping an eye on Melanie since they were kids. A bit older, far more level-headed, and infinitely patient, Conn feels it's his duty to pull Melanie back from whatever cliff’s edge she’s about to wander off. Conn thinks Melanie is egotistical, self-centered, irritating, infuriating, relentless, ridiculous . . . and irresistible. Not that Conn’s confessed to that last one. Yet.

When Melanie impulsively starts up a new advice-giving business, it’s an instant hit. Conn doesn’t approve, as usual, which is too bad, because Melanie’s convinced he needs her VIP package. (Of advice!) His coffeehouse is showing signs of financial trouble, plus his toxic ex is suddenly sniffing around, acting like she’s having second thoughts about their breakup. Will their friendship be blown to bits because of Melanie’s meddling . . . or will it become something more?

“Melanie Abbott is in the house!”

“I’ll alert the media. And don’t say you’re ‘in the house’ ever again. It’s just wrong.” 

Ooh, somebody sounds cranky. I let the door to the coffee house swing shut behind me. The place immediately reverts to its standard half-gloom, an arty kind of light, and a relief from the bright May sunshine outside. I cross the wide, pegged planks of the two-hundred-year-old floor, familiar with every odd dip and rise, and push against the wooden counter. 

“It’s three o’clock,” I say lightly. 

As if my friend Conn, the owner, needs reminding that I show up at this time every day. He barely glances up from the papers spread in front of him, and I twist the upper half of my body to get a peek. All I can tell is they look financial before he sweeps everything up into a neat stack. 

“Get away. Nosy.” 

I’ve seen that expression before, many times. It’s a cross between a can’t-you-see-I’m-busy scowl and a half grin that assures me he’s not actually in a bad mood. Okay, if he wants to be all secretive, that’s fine. I’ll get it out of him later. For now, I strike a pose, a bright smile on my face. My arrival, after all, is the highlight of his day. 

Or not. 

He ignores me. 

At least he pretends to. Then, not missing a beat, he puts down his pen, stuffs the papers under the bar, and reaches for a small white cup to make my usual triple espresso. 

“Aw, you do love me.” 

He shoots me a glare from under the ledge of his eyebrows but says nothing, then focuses on skillfully and smoothly grinding the beans, packing the grounds, and finessing the temperamental machine that’s held pride of place behind the counter since Deep Brew C opened three years ago. 

“Haven’t you heard that bartenders are supposed to be chatty?” 

Deep Brew C is also a bar and restaurant with an environmentally conscious bent, so Conn wears several hats: manager, barista, bartender, host, herb garden pruner, rainwater collector, compost turner, and recycler. I don’t know a whole lot about organic, locally sourced, farm-to-table (and ocean-to-table) practices, but there must be something to it because the food is phenomenal, at least in my opinion. DBC has everything I need—coffee, food, and drink—which makes it my second-favorite place in the world. My own home comes in first, and that’s only because I can wear pajamas and ditch my bra there. If I didn’t care about proper dining attire, I’d live here instead. 

Still, Conn says nothing, just to be contrary. I know darn right well he can talk up a storm when he feels like it. I fill the gap, shouting over the gurgling sound of the espresso maker. “Hey, I had the weirdest dream last night.” I wait. The noise dies away, but he doesn’t ask for details. I end up watching the broad expanse of his back as he pares a bit of lemon rind. I clear my throat, subtly. Nothing. I clear my throat a little less subtly. 

“Coming down with a cold?” How the guy’s voice can be smooth and rumbly all at the same time is a mystery, but there it is. 

“Oh, good. You’re still able to talk. I thought maybe Harvey had taken the whole cat-got-your-tongue thing literally.” 

“Harvey’s too old to make that kind of an effort, and you know it.” He turns around with a genuine smile. Even a mention of his geriatric feline best bud gets him all mushy. The softie. 

“Do you want to hear about my dream or not?” 


“So okay,” I charge on. I knew he’d say no. I was going to tell him anyway. “I was late getting to this party, right?” 

“Accurate so far.” 

“Quit it. It was at my dad’s house, but it didn’t look like my dad’s house.” I pause as Conn’s head drops to his shoulder, his eyes closed, and he starts snoring. “Are you going to listen to this or not?” 

“I already said not. Nobody wants to hear somebody else’s dream. They’re always boring, and they never make any sense.” 

Mine is no exception, I realize. At least I’m not going to be able to explain it easily—how the party was crowded with everyone in town (a couple thousand, many of whom I actually know, at least by sight), but I couldn’t manage to engage anyone in conversation. How bereft I felt when people started leaving but I had to stay. How I got lost in the dozens of rooms I didn’t recognize. It wasn’t the events, but the weird feeling the dream gave me, the mood it put me in that lingered even after I woke and put in most of a full day’s work, that’s still compelling me to decipher it. I know Conn could offer some insight…if he were interested. 

“Would you change your mind if I said you were in it?” 

Conn raises one eyebrow as he slides the espresso toward me, a curlicue of bright yellow lemon rind standing out against the white of the cup. “Depends on what I was doing in this dream of yours.” 

I make a face at the innuendo. “You were there at the party. And so was George the mail carrier, and Chelsea who runs the daycare, and—” 

“Okay, Dorothy, I get the idea.” 

“Oh—and there was a creepy doll room. I mean wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bug-eyed antique dolls.” 

“You do know the connection between dreams and the dreamer’s mental state, right?” 

I adjust my bag on my shoulder and pick up my drink. Conn holds out one large hand, palm up, and flicks his fingertips in an expectant gesture. 

“Put it on my tab.” 

“Your tab rivals the national debt.” 

“You know I’m good for it.” His hand is still out. “What?” 


“Use SPF 45 or higher.” 

I head for my usual seat, a wingback chair by the hearth. Then I hear it: a voice. Coming from my chair. My chair. A woman, on the phone. Well, I hope she’s on the phone because there’s nobody else in the place. Then we’d have more of an issue than the fact that she doesn’t know enough not to sit in my chair. 

Really, this is unheard of. I gawp at Conn, shocked. He just grins the bastard and shrugs. As if this were no big deal. But it so clearly is. 

Do something! I mouth to him. 

“Hey, it isn’t the Friends couch. It’s not automatically reserved for you.” 

“Yes it is,” I say, incredulous, then add belatedly, “unofficially.” Sure, when the summer people get here in a few weeks, all bets are off. The place will be packed with pie-eyed tourists who don’t know the rules, habits, traditions of our Massachusetts seaside town. But till then, that’s my seat. 

“Too bad. She’s a paying customer. You, on the other hand…” he says, glancing significantly at the espresso-on-credit I’m holding. 

“You could have steered her to another seat,” I hiss. 

Conn snorts and starts wiping down the bar. “Sit someplace else, blondie. It won’t kill you.” 

I can’t even fathom this. “What? Where?” 

“The other chair?” 

There is indeed a second wingback chair opposite mine. But it won’t do. It faces the large, sixteen-paned mullioned window looking out on the main road. “The sun gets in my eyes.” 

“Oh, for God’s sake. Here,” he says, gesturing to one of the bar stools. “Sit, and I will admire your beautiful face.” 

It’s my turn to snort. “Don’t get all sentimental on me, now.” Guess it’s up to me to right this ship. I come up on the woman quietly and peek around the wing of the chair, a painfully fake-feeling smile plastered on my face. “Excuse me.” 

She jumps a mile, turning to me with a shocked look, and I immediately feel terrible. Almost terrible enough to let her stay there, but not quite. 

“Yes?” she whispers. 

She’s about my age, maybe a little younger, but dressed older, in tan pants and a beige and pink striped tailored shirt. Everything about her, from her wardrobe choice to her freckles to her skin to her hair that extends out from her hair band in every direction, is some variation of light brown. She does have a phone tucked under her curls, held up to her left ear. Thank goodness. Not crazy. 

“Sorry to disturb you, but…I’m afraid you’re in my seat.” 

Her (tan) eyebrows converge above her thin nose. Her eyes are also light brown. I want to buy her turquoise contacts to break up the monotony. “What?” 

“My seat,” I repeat. “You’re in it.” 

After staring at me for a second, frozen, she bursts into a flurry of motion, putting her phone away and frantically gathering up her things scattered at her feet—(brown) purse, some sort of (tan) messenger bag, short (beige) trench coat. She stands and stares forlornly at her mug and small plate, unsure how to bus her dishes. 

Now I feel like a complete turd. 

“Oh, hey, no,” I backpedal. “No, don’t get upset. I’m sorry. You stay right where you are—” 

Her eyes brimming with tears, she stumbles out the door and rushes past the window, possessions clutched to her chest and head bowed. 

I’m not sure what just happened. 

“Way to run off my customers, Abbott.” 

Conn’s close behind me, his substantial arms crossed, a dishcloth dangling from one hand. 

“I didn’t mean to,” I protest. “She was not exactly normal.” 

“And you weren’t exactly the epitome of graciousness.” He glances at my espresso, still in my hand, now uselessly tepid. “New one?” 

Handing over the cup, I mutter, “I don’t feel like it.” 

Then I’m out of the shop as well, heading in the opposite direction from Miss Beige.

Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies and raising a young son who's way too clever for his own good. She lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village that’s the setting for her Marsden novels, Down on Love, Picture This, and Lucky for You. When she's not hard at work on another romcom, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook (Jayne Denker Author) and Twitter (@JDenkerAuthor). Stop by her blog,, and say hi.


HERE TOMORROW 7 pm PST. Lynne Marshall Author of: All Taylor Clark ever wanted was a normal life and a trad...