Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guest Author: Clare London

Today I'd like to welcome a dear friend from across the pond :) with her newest release...
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He loves me … he loves me not …
Eeny, meeny, miney, mo …

Would you trust finding your soulmate to Lady Luck?



My new novella JUST-YOU EYES released this month at Dreamspinner Press, and in it my hero goes speed dating. Now it’s not exactly his thing, as it’s a m/m romance – and in the quaint British town where he lives, they haven’t yet progressed so far as to offer gay Date Nights :). But Elliot is being a supportive sibling to his sister Effie after a bad break-up. He's just there to make up the numbers and have a chat with friends. Not to find love or even a casual partner. That's just the kind of guy he is...

Until Alexsy sits down opposite him and smiles. And there begins a night of adventure for Elliot - and maybe something precious for many more days ahead.

It reminds me of the pure luck that *is* involved in many of the great romances. How often do our heroes "bump into" someone who turns out to be The One? How often were they hostile to start with, then gradually come around to see the true character behind the bluster? How often do our heroines take a particular direction - just on that day, just along that street, just into that store - and meet the one who takes their breath away?

I met my own dear husband on a complete off-chance, when a mutual friend brought him to our local pub over a weekend. He lived on the opposite side of the country: we would never have met otherwise. Over thirty years later, he still rolls his eyes at the memory of me sitting on the jukebox in the pub with a bottle of beer in either hand (I was looking after one for a friend, honest!) and wondering what on earth possessed him to come and say hi :).

I hope readers enjoy Just-You Eyes. The title comes from Effie's description of how you can tell if a lover is really interested and caring - because they listen to and watch you with loving, "Just-You" eyes.
Aww... so let me ask again: would you trust finding your soulmate to Lady Luck?

***

BLURB: Elliot didn’t know that offering to help his sister get over her broken love affair would mean attending a speed-dating evening at the local hotel in their quaint English town. Obviously, as a gay man, he’s not the target group, and there’s nothing for him there except cheap wine and uncomfortable chairs. But when hotel manager Alexsy sits down opposite him and offers an evening of a very different kind than Elliot expected, Elliot’s tempted to try something for the very first time in his lifethe tantalizing adventure of a one-night stand.

EXCERPT: “So tell me about life in London. In the big, bad city.” My words were a little slurred. Maybe the brandy was having more effect than I thought. “You work hard, you said. I’m sure you play hard as well.”
Alexsy laughed.
“I’m sorry,” I said, irritated. “I know it’s not the most original conversational gambit.”
“Just ask me,” he said.
“Ask you what?”
“I don’t know!” He tilted his head to one side. “But I can see the questions in your eyes. You won’t offend me, Elliot. Ask what you like.”
“I suppose you’ve had plenty of….” I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t finish the question.
Alexsy laughed again. There was a teasing edge to his voice. “Boyfriends? Lovers? Sex?”
Please.” The tops of my cheeks flamed, I could feel them.
He just grinned. He seemed to have relaxed as well since he’d started drinking the brandy. “Your face! I’m not trying to embarrass you, Elliot, but are you so easily shocked?”
“No.” It felt more like confusion by now. “I’m just not used to talking about it so openly.” With a near stranger.
“I’ve had boyfriends, yes. Of course. And plenty of sex. Maybe a lot of what you would call one-night stands. They’re good for what they are. Fun, delightful and usually very brief. No strings, as they say.”
“How do you know it’ll be good?”
Alexsy frowned. “You manage your expectations.” His gaze met mine, eyes clear and suddenly very knowing. “It’s a risk but it’s an adventure too. And maybe it is an option when you’re not sure what you’re looking for.”
Was he talking about me?
He leaned forward even farther, and I watched as his hand slid down the inside of my arm and on to my chest. His palm rested against my nipple. I didn’t push him away. My heart started to beat so fiercely I expected his whole arm to shake with the vibration. “You should try it, Elliot,” he said, his voice low and slightly hoarse.
Was this a joke? What did he mean? “Maybe I should,” I said. I was ludicrously proud my voice didn’t break up. “Managing expectations, right?”
“Right.” He didn’t move his hand. In fact, he pressed farther, moving gently against my breast as if he was massaging me. The warmth of his palm was astonishing, even allowing for the fact I felt hot all over. I found myself leaning forward as well, my eyelids heavy with something more than the smoky seduction of the drink. Our faces were only a few inches apart. What was going to happen? Was it going to happen?
“May I give you an example?”
Example? “Whatever. I mean, yes. Go ahead.”
He drew in a soft breath, the sound like a further caress. “Look at us. We’re both free. We both have time. I’m sexually active and so are you. You like sex.”
I used to. I meant, “Yes, I do.”
“And you like me?”
“Yes.” God, yes. I’d have thought I was broadcasting it all through the room, though maybe he had no idea of my dry mouth and the urgent ache in my groin.
“You’d like to have sex with me?”
I thought for a second my heart had stopped with shock. It stuttered, and life went on regardless, but a thread of sudden, fierce bravery flared inside me. “Yes,” I said.
“So that’s how it would be,” he murmured back to me. “Just like that.”
Just like that.
His hand moved up from my chest, the fingers trailing until they rested against my jaw. “You have your own life. You’re cautious of more commitment. That’s understandable. And maybe you have Effie to think of, as well. Yet sometimes you need a f—” He was obviously about to say something blunt again, but maybe the shock of his last example still showed on my face, because he bit back the first choice of word. “Friend. Intimate friendship, in bed. Some uninhibited fun.”
“Uninhibited fun.” Repetition seemed a safe bet. I reached out and slid my hand around his waist. The fabric of his shirt creased under my fingers. I tried to imagine the delight of the taut skin underneath, the pulse of flesh against mine, the taste of another mouth, the touch of another body. It had been many months since Bernie left, but not so long I couldn’t remember how sex felt. It just all seemed very different, here with Alexsy.
He shifted on his chair, hitching himself nearer. “Elliot.”
“No strings, as they say,” I whispered.
“No, no strings.” He brushed his lips against my ear, barely touching. Somehow it was more exciting than if he really had kissed me.
Which I realized I wanted him to. Very much.

Clare London, Author
Writing… Man to Man 

My blog

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wimbledon

This is my favorite time of year. Whenever I think of Wimbledon I don't think of strawberries and cream. I think of my granny. I think of hot summer days and hot stuffy living rooms. I think of endless cups of tea, ginger biscuits and an idyllic childhood. 

After school and during the holidays, me and my brother and sisters would go to gran's while my mom and dad worked. It might not have suited every kid, but I loved it :)

I grew up on Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Bjorn Borg and Virginia Wade. Boy, did my gran hate John McEnroe. She also hated Steve Davis (the snooker player). I understand McEnroe even though I think he's great. I never got Steve 'interesting' Davis because what was not to like?


Would my gran have liked Andy Murray? I have no clue. She just wasn't that predictable. I really like Murray and hope he wins a Grand Slam soon. I lived in the town where he grew up, Dunblane, for about a year. I loved it. I know he's not pretty but GO, ANDY MURRAY!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blooming heck...

The garden is finally starting to bloom with some color...





These last are chocolate cosmos--they really smell like chocolate :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's FREE BOOK WEEK at Carina Press!!!

(I'm reposting this for Christine Bell but think you'll enjoy :))

Starting on June 20th, every weekday, all week, Carina is offering a spectacular title for free download. And when they say free, they mean ACTUALLY free. Not "sorta free", or "free with a $50 purchase" free, but actually, totally, no strings attached FREE! So, get thee to Carina press to download a free book every day! Here are the books being offered, and the links and promo codes for your free download:

Monday's FREE BOOK is:
The Debutante's Dilemma by Elyse Mady
Just type in the promo code DEBUTANTEFREE at checkout
http://ebooks.carinapress.com/ContentDetails.htm?ID=50C0978A-DAC7-44E7-B627-C26A520471C0

Tuesday's FREE BOOK is:
Demon's Fall by Karalynn Lee
Just type in the promo code DEMONFREE at checkout
http://ebooks.carinapress.com/ContentDetails.htm?ID=1E5A3A07-9BC7-4449-9B8F-377C21E2F664

Wednesday's FREE BOOK is:
The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell
Just type in the promo code TWISTEDFREE at checkout
http://ebooks.carinapress.com/ContentDetails.htm?ID=D79D7CD6-1BAA-4D2E-AE65-FF0E42F79BE7

Thursday's FREE BOOK is:
Blue Galaxy by Diane Dooley
Just type in the promo code GALAXYFREE at checkout
http://ebooks.carinapress.com/ContentDetails.htm?ID=827CC21D-6F33-437A-977B-B0F291B70367

Friday's FREE BOOK is:
Friendly Fire by Megan Hart
Just type in the promo code FRIENDLYFREE at checkout
http://ebooks.carinapress.com/ContentDetails.htm?ID=E1466469-DB0C-404F-A0AA-3491BB9E9B14

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Winner of Leah Braemel's contest is...


picked by random.org

 Susan

Congratulations!

email Leah about the format you'd like at contest@leahbraemel.com

Happy Father's Day, Dad

This is my dad last year after he set his crotch on fire while grinding metal. Sorry, Dad, it's a great picture and a moment I'll never forget :) I came outside and there were flames and sparks and then frantic flapping. Thankfully he didn't get seriously hurt.

I got to speak to my dad and my grandad on the phone this week which was lovely, but not as lovely as seeing them would be :(

Happy Father's Day, Dad, Granddad, Pop and DH and all the other great fathers out there.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My garden grows

 The deck is almost finished (yay DH!)--see Holly at her post?
 And despite the rain, rabbits, cold, and general blah!, we have veggies...
 and fruit...
 and flowers :) (almost)
See my beautiful black columbine?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Author: Leah Braemel

Most of my stories start with a premise. “What happens if someone suggests they have a threesome and then halfway through realize it really wasn’t a good idea and they don’t want to do this anymore?”  (That’s the premise for my very first published novella, Private Property.) Sometimes I imagine a single incident (for Deliberate Deceptions, I originally envisioned a man in a suit walking through a cemetery and laying a stuffed rabbit against a gravestone. Although in a strange twist of fate, I ended up having to cut that scene.)  Unfortunately this usually leaves me with no idea who the characters are or what they want or, more importantly, need. I often don’t figure it out until I’m done the first draft then have to go back and make major adjustments to the second draft to properly reflect the characters. 


But every once in a while I get really, really lucky. A character walks into my head fully formed, prepared to tell me their story.  Sam, the third person in that infamous ménage from Private Property, walked strutted into my head fully-formed. He made writing Private Property that much tougher because he was supposed to be a secondary character but he very nearly took over, and in her initial email offering a contract, my editor asked if Sam was going to get own story. Which, of course, he did -- and in true Sam-style he wouldn’t settle for a novella. His story, Personal Protection, took a full length novel to tell. 


Jackson and Nate from Tangled Past were like that too. From the first moment the idea behind Tangled Past started niggling, they were both front and center. Side by side, chap-wearing, Stetson-wearing hard-working old-fashioned cowboys. Who loved each other. And once they realized they’d got my attention, they persisted until I told their story. 

Of mixed blood – half white, half native American, Jackson Kellar’s endured a lot of rough treatment from others. But he’s persevered. Jackson isn’t rich, but what he does have, he values. Including his friends. And his word. Just as he explains to Sarah on their wedding night and she’s feeling guilt that he got trapped into marriage with her:


“Well, before you go doubting me, I had a choice. I could have saddled my horse and rode away. Not that I would have.”
“Why not?”
“Because I gave my word.” The brush paused midstroke. “I don’t got much in this world, ’cept for my word. I break that, I ain’t got nothing.”


Like many of the farmers I grew up around, Jackson prefers to let his actions speak for him. That made his character quite easy to write. If there was a problem he just buckled down and got it done with no whining and not a lot of talk. Of course, as anyone who has been married can attest those first few years when you’re dancing around trying to establish your identity as a couple, lack of communication can create huge conflicts out of tiny incidents. But as long as I stayed true to his nature,  the story chugged along with few hiccups.


Nate was equally co-operative in telling his story. Like Dillon in Texas Tangle, he hasn’t suffered the same hardships that Jackson has (though Jackson’s suffered nowhere near the torment Brett endured.)  Nate inherited his ranch and by extension became Jackson’s boss, though he’s never thought of himself that way. They were friends first, and lovers next. As a white man he’s never been shunned by society the way Jackson has, so he’s more light-hearted:


Grinning, Nate took the steps two at a time. His spurs jangled as he strode across the porch and stepped into the front hall. He inhaled a lungful of the heavenly scent filling the house. Nothing smelled as good as Miss Martha’s cooking. His belly already growling its approval, he’d taken two steps when the kitchen door swung open. 


“You stop right there and take your boots off, Nate Campbell.” His housekeeper folded her arms and glared with that same look his mother had given him when he was six and he’d pried the chair rails off the walls—not only in his bedroom, but the entire upstairs hallway. “I just swept, and I’ll not have you fillin’ the house with your dust again.”


But for all his good nature, Nate has his own secrets that have him terrified that he’ll end up swinging at the end of a rope. (Yeah, there’s that whole “I’m in love with Jackson” issue, remember?)  Having Sarah living in their home just mixes him up even more…

Jackson hefted the bundle from the dress shop and tucked it under his arm while escorting Sarah into the house. Nate kept his lids lowered in an attempt to hide how he watched the gentle swing of Sarah’s skirts. It wouldn’t do to be caught ogling another man’s wife.
 
He hadn’t lied when he said he would have been proud to take his vows as her husband. Though it left him disturbed that he still fantasized about being in bed with Jackson, Sarah had been appearing in those fantasies lately.

These two were really fun to write, and because of it the story almost wrote itself even though all that research for a historical is…well, it’s a challenge. 

By the way, the bit about Nate removing the chair rails? That’s based on a true story – my parents’ best friends had a son whom I’ll refer to as G, who was the same age as me. I suspect if he was in school nowadays they’d say he was ADHD, but my parents just said he was precocious. And a handful. One day G’s parents had locked him in his room as punishment – my mother still delights in telling how “the little devil” took out a child’s toolset he’d been given for Christmas and proceeded to remove all the chair rails and baseboards off every wall in his room, and then dismantled the lock, got out of the bedroom and started taking apart the hallway. Did I mention that G and I didn’t always get along so in an effort to smooth some tensions between our four year old selves, my parents and G’s parents staged a mock wedding with me as the bride and G as the groom? What the heck were they thinking? Needless to say that was one “marriage” that didn’t last long. I don’t think they’d finished playing Wagner’s Lohengrin before we were already battling…hmm, I wonder if I’ve ever mentioned to Gizmo Guy that he wasn’t technically my first husband?
***
Forced to marry a man she just met, Sarah McLeod clings to the hope that she’ll finally find the love and acceptance she’s always craved. But her tenuous dreams of a happy life on the frontier are in danger of being dashed by the one thing she can’t change—her husband’s love for another man.


Jackson Kellar’s determined to do right by his bride, yet he’s torn between his newfound love for Sarah and his still-burning desire for Nate.


Ranch owner Nate Campbell loves them both. He hates to see Jackson’s loyalties so divided, and doesn’t want Sarah hurt either. But how can they fix the tangled mess they find themselves in? Nate suggests a possible solution – a permanent threesome.


With the open frontier closing in around them, is Nate’s solution their path to happiness? Or will others destroy what they’ve found together?

Want to read more? Visit my websiteYou can also find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

Want to buy Tangled Past?  Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

I’m going to give away a copy of Texas Tangle, the story that inspired Nate and Jackson’s story,  to a random commenter – just tell me if you did anything naughty like prying off the chair rail when you were a kid. I won’t tell anyone…honest! (I’ll draw a winner and announce them on Sunday)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Writing--how I stay relatively organized

Whenever I work on a story I collect all my notes and pictures for that story (copious and eclectic) and store them in an IKEA box. These boxes sit on top of my desk/cupboard and I pull them down and put them up as I switch from one story to another. I have a tiny workspace (yes, that's it below!) and this is the only way I can manage to keep the information together and yet for it still to be instantly accessible.
See--there's a box missing. That's my WIP and it is down on the ground beside me.

Sometimes I have more than one story per box. HER SANCTUARY also contains all my notes for the unpublished sequel BLADE HUNTER (I guess I should sub that baby, huh?). STORM WARNING shares a box with SEA OF SUSPICION full of Scottish research booklets, pictures and memorabilia. I have a box for Harlequin Intrigue (still waiting to sell one of those babies so keep your fingers crossed for me please). I have another PRESENTS box. I tried and failed to write a Harlequin Presents. Actually I really like the premise of that story too.

The box for EDGE OF SURVIVAL is full of stuff I collected on that long ago field assignment and copies of emails from my various 'sources'. I swear I did more research for that, even though I'd did the fish study, than I've done for anything.

So, there's a fascinating look into how I keep all my junk pieces of paper in order. Don't say I never give you the inside scoop.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Guest Author: Hunter Raines


Thanks so much, Toni, for having me here as part of the blog tour for my upcoming Carina Press release, PARADISE FOUND! 

I married a geek. He’ll be the first to admit it, too. My husband is a very handsome man, but he’s not a 6’4, muscular, football-player type. He’s quiet, shy, and unassuming. No one would mistake him for James Bond, or for an underwear model. Yet he’s the inspiration for every one of my heroes.

Sure, the men in my stories are fairly typical of the romance genre. They’re tall, well built, and gorgeous. But underneath those physical elements lies the soul of a real man. And that’s where hubby comes in.

I ask his help constantly when it comes to getting a solid grasp on the way men think about things. I don’t take it for granted that men would approach anything the same way a woman might, whether it’s shopping for new clothes or taking a new partner to bed for the first time. My husband has been instrumental in helping me develop characters who act, talk and think like real men.

I hope. 

Because you see, as much as I’d love to run my books past my husband and get his official stamp of approval on manly behavior, he won’t read gay erotic romance (M/M). I can’t entirely blame him, either. As supportive as he is of me and my writing, the subject matter makes him just a slight bit uncomfortable. And yet he won’t hesitate to describe in vivid detail the men’s locker room at his gym, for example, or what wet dreams feel like.

I write M/F erotic romance under my other pen name, and I thought getting into one man’s point of view was tough. It got a whole lot tougher when I decided to try my hand at the M/M genre. And since my upcoming release from Carina Press is M/M/M, my job was three times as hard.

Luckily, my husband came to the rescue. We talked at length about how each character in my novel might feel about certain things, from hiding a major secret to dealing with feelings of betrayal. What I’ve learned about the way a man’s mind works has been fascinating. As a bonus, it’s helped me understand my husband better, too.
---

BLURB
Paradise is just an illusion…

Or so Philip thinks as he vacations on exotic Anguilla. He should be celebrating the end of law school and the start of his successful career, but he’s tired of living a lie for his family’s sake. For just one night, he lets down his guard with two men he thinks he’ll never see again.
 
He isn’t the only one with secrets. For years, Cameron Drake has suppressed his need for dominance, afraid of hurting his lover, Mark Wilder. But when Cameron’s hand meets Philip’s ass, there’s no more pretending. Mark can’t face his conflicting feelings about the ménage; does Cameron want more than Mark can give?

The three of them may have been perfect together but consequences follow them back to their real lives. Will their desire for another encounter shatter the illusions they’ve built to protect themselves or clear the obstacles to paradise? 

PARADISE FOUND is available at Carina Press, Amazon, and other online retailers.

---
About the Author
Hunter Raines holds an Honors B.A. in English Literature, and is the author of numerous short stories and novellas. When she's not working or writing, she can be found curled up in her library of more than four thousand books, or playing video games with her husband. Find her on her websiteTwitter, and Facebook, or join her Yahoo Group.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

News...and Happy Birthday, Carina Press

I can finally announce that SEA OF SUSPICION is going to print with Harlequin's 'Direct to Customer' program and will be available to order from the Harlequin website next year (right here on this link).

Yay!!! Happy dancing :)
PS. Birthday party at the Carina Press blog. Prizes and stuff :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Guest Author: Elise Warner

 SEE, HEAR, TASTE, SMELL, TOUCH

     New York is my city—that sounds possessive—I was born here, grew up here and it will always be part of my life. The city’s sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch appear in many of the stories I’ve written. Streets, neighborhoods, architecture and parks are an important part of my debut mystery Scene Stealer published by Carina Press.
     The idea for Scene Stealer and its three leading characters began when I took the subway to Lincoln Center to buy tickets for a play. A ragged, unkempt man and a well dressed boy were sitting diagonally across from me. The child appeared tense and anxious. I began to wonder if they were related and— if not—why they were together and—more important—why the child was frightened. The pair left the train at the next stop but I couldn’t stop thinking about them and they became Miss Weidenmaier—a retired schoolteacher and soon to be amateur detective, Kevin Corcoran—a young actor and spokesperson for the “Cowboy Bob’s Big, Bad Burger,” commercial and Lawrence Dunn—an aging, underemployed would-be Shakespearean actor.
     In her search for Kevin, Miss Weidenmaier explores an off-Broadway casting call, Greenwich Village with its aromas of coffee and spices, a verdant Central Park where a motion picture is being made, a legendary building that once housed song writers, cold, glass skyscrapers that hide the sun, and a church transformed into an off-off-very-off Broadway theatre.
     Added was Miss Weidenmaier’s distaste for fast food, the blindness of night, a fit of sneezing caused by dust, the sound of unexpected foot steps, and the roughness of a canvas drop.
     Characters included—a villainess as icy as the skyscraper she reigned over, a hard-nosed detective—for Miss Weidenmaier to frustrate, suspects including Kevin’s parents, school-friends, agent, an obnoxious talk show host, an eager ingénue and assorted citizens of the Big Apple.
     I had a great time writing Scene Stealer and a bit of aggravation too—when my villain refused to do dastardly deeds and I had to change my plot. I admit—he was right.

Scene Stealer is available through www.amazon.com/scene-stealer-ebook/dp/B003NX7BSA



SCENE STEALER  EXCERPT  CHAPTER 16

Miss Weidenmaier believes she has found Kevin—the young kidnapped spokesperson for the Cowboy Bob’s Big, Bad Burger commercial—hidden in the basement of a theatre that was once a church. She intends to rescue the boy who had asked for her help.


     I opened a door and found myself in a carpeted hallway that led to an area that must once have been the chancel. Here, the carpeting ended under an archway that led to the right wing of the stage, the carpeting replaced by a highly polished wood floor. A work-lamp barely lit the center area of the stage, casting shadows that might have unnerved someone of lesser will or discipline of mind. I was just able to see an old-fashioned light-board set against the wall. To its right stood a table cluttered with a king’s crown—its brilliant glass gems shining through the gloom—surrounded by false hair, gauntlets, cuffs, a tin of powder, rouge and a box of tissues. Next to the table was a second set of stairs. It would, I was sure, lead to the room in the basement where Lawrence Dunn dressed.
     Careful, I thought; you never saw him leave. He must still be in the theatre and so, if my reasoning was correct, would Kevin.
     The thought of notifying Lieutenant Brown of my suspicions grazed my mind. I quickly discarded the idea; I had to be sure. The detective would demand proof. If it wasn’t supplied, if I were wrong, he would dismiss me as a meddlesome, old spinster with nothing to do but get into mischief. 
     The basement was silent. I spied a splinter of light peeking from beneath a door decorated with an oversized star that managed to twinkle and glitter in the near dark.  Dunn, I decided, would be in that room. I needed a place to hide until he emerged and led me to Kevin. A rack of costumes occupied a corner close to Dunn’s dressing room. I hugged the wall and moved, at a snail’s pace, in the direction of the rack.
     The costumes that had served Dunn’s various characterizations would now serve as my screen. The waistcoats and doublets, pantaloons, padding, cloaks and robes were made of heavy stuff. The materials were brocade, velvet and fur decorated with jewels and chains. They appeared rich and royal in the gloomy light, but an unpleasant odor of perspiration and mildew hovered over this section of the basement. Age and improper cleaning of the costumes, bought second- or third-hand, worn by generations of nervous actors sweating under hot lights in cold theatres I suspected. I felt the glow of perspiration on my brow, but if I were to rescue Kevin, I had to be brave.
    Suddenly a series of strange sounds penetrated the dressing room door and interrupted the silence of the theatre. Dunn, practicing vocal exercises over and over and over again.
     Tears welled in my eyes as, unable to find my handkerchief—I stifled a cough with the back of my hand.
     “Mee…mo…ma…mo…moo.  Mee…mo…ma…moo.” He stopped and took a deep intake of breath then exhaled—an an extremely long slow hiss—before he began to speak.
        “Big, Bad, Brownie Bonanzas, Big, Bad, Brownie Bonanzas. Cousin Cora’s Cakewalks, Cousin Cora’s Cakewalks.”  Dunn recited these lines over and over again, warming his vocal chords. Finally using the same grandiloquent sound he had produced in his characterization of King Lear, Lawrence Dunn addressed an unseen audience. “It is with heavy heart I appeal to my public…”
     I poked my head between two robes, trying to fathom his words. Dust particles invaded my nose and throat. I swallowed a sneeze. Oh my word! That tickle in my throat again. I rummaged through my purse. Where was that tin of lozenges? The tin dropped out of the purse and hit the bottom pipe of the costume rack. The bell-like ping of the tin against the metal of the pipe brought Dunn to the door of his dressing room.
     He was attired in a tatty, red velvet robe—a towel tucked like a bib into the collar. His legs, deprived of the padding that enhanced the shape of his tights, were sticklike and the absence of wigs and hats proved his natural hair to be pure white, collar length and blessed with a natural wave. Framed in the cruel, white light of the dressing room, barefaced, he appeared a good deal older than his stage presence had led me to believe.
     “Annalise? Are you back?” A cough drop crunched beneath a shoe as Lawrence Dunn stepped forward.
     “What…?”
     I tried not to breathe.
     Dunn grabbed a flashlight and dagger—it appeared to be Falstaff’s—from a bookcase standing against a near wall. The beam of light searched the corners of the basement, delved under a table and climbed to the top of a stack of crates; finally coming to rest on my oxfords. The only shoes, I realized, peeping from beneath the costume rack.
     “Out, out damn spot,” he ordered.

Elise Warner blogs at www.elisewarner.blogspot.com
On the web at www.elisewarner.com  and is a proud member of www.notyourusualsuspects.blogspot.com

Scene Stealer is available wherever eBooks are sold and is produced in an audio version by audible.com   
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Thanks, Elise. Great excerpt, great book! And you are SO lucky living in NYC!!