xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Kryssie Fortune: June 2015

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hands up if you’d like to attend a show here.

Does it look Roman to you? A place where the legions gathered to watch gruesome entertainments? Think again. It’s the brainchild of one remarkable, 20th-century woman—Rowena Cade.

Born in 1893 Rowena was the second child of a Derbyshire mill-owner. Her great, great grandfather, Joseph Wright painted haunting images of 17th-century life. I guess the artistic streak ran in the family. It certainly surfaced in Rowena.

After the First World War, Rowena and her widowed mother moved to Cornwall, and Rowena discovered a love of costume designing for the local amateur dramatics. When she produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream the action took place in a local meadow.

Her next play was Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Rowena decided Cornwall’s cliffs would make an amazing backdrop. She looked across at Minack gully above Minack Rock and wondered if she could make a stage there.

The answer was yes.

For six months, Rowena and two Cornish craftsmen struggled to carve a stage and some seating from the rocks. It would have been hard work anytime, but working on an exposed cliff in the depths of a Cornish winter took guts and determination.

I couldn’t resist standing on one of the balconies and declaiming Juliet’s famous speech “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo.”

My husband laughed. I guess I wasn’t cut out to be an actress.
As Minack Theater’s fame spread, Rowena realized she’d have to separate the theater from her garden. She helped build the walls surrounding the place, just as she’d helped build the seats and balconies spread out below.
Imagine how devastated she must have been when World War Two saw the place fall into ruins.
This gusty woman dusted off her overalls and rebuilt. One of Minack’s joys are the Celtic designs that Rowena drew in the concrete before it set. Another is the names and the dates of the shows carved into the front rows of seats.

In 1976, Rowena gave the theater to the charitable trust that runs the place now.

During my visit, I enjoyed a late lunch in the tearooms. One of the waitresses told me she worked in the best place in the world. “Where else can you look out the window and watch a basking shark while you’re working?”

In 1993, the trust started to landscape the Cliffside gardens. Here’s what BBC Garden’s Illustrated Magazine said about the result. “Niall & Jill Milligan have created a pioneering garden worth of Rowena Cade’s own imaginative leap: a feast of succulents, cacti and other drought tolerant species, interspersed with vivid blasts of bulbs and herbaceous perennials.”

 Perhaps the waitress was right. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. On a sunny, spring day, I certainly thought so.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Five Facts Thursday - please welcome Rosemary Morris

Five facts about myself.

I met my Hindu husband, who was born in Kenya, in London when he was reading law at Middle Temple.

When our eldest son was a newborn, my husband’s father died so he rushed back to Nairobi to support his mother and 11 brothers and sisters. 

A year later I joined him, but although the country is beautiful with glorious beaches and national parks where I saw wildlife, I pined for Europe.

Years later, after an attempted coup d’etat I went to France with four of my five children, and lived in an ashram where I studied the Bhagavadgita As It Is by A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and other ancient Sanscrit texts.

Today, I live in England, happy writing novels and with my organic garden which supplies fresh food for my vegetarian cuisine.

Buy Links and Author Links

www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com False PretencesB009YK1MFO, Nook and other online retailers.

False Pretences

By Rosemary Morris
Traditional Regency Romance

Five-year-old Annabelle arrived at boarding school fluent in French and English. Separated from her nurse, a dismal shadow blights Annabelle’s life because she does not know who her parents are.
Although high-spirited, Annabelle is financially dependent on her unknown guardian. She refuses to marry a French baron more than twice her age. 
Her life in danger, Annabelle is saved by a gentleman, who says he will help her to discover her identity. Yet, from then on nothing is as it seems, and she is forced to run away for the second time to protect her rescuer.
Even more determined to discover her parents’ identity, in spite of many false pretences, Annabelle must learn who to trust. Her attempts to unravel the mystery of her birth, lead to further danger, despair, unbearable heartache and even more false pretences until the only person who has ever wanted to cherish her, reveals the startling truth, and all’s well that ends well.

False Pretences

By Rosemary Morris

“I have good news for you, Annabelle,” said Miss Chalfont, the well-educated head mistress and owner of The Beeches, an exclusive school for young ladies.
Seated on a straight-backed chair opposite Miss Chalfont’s walnut desk, Annabelle clasped her hands tightly on her lap. “Has my guardian told you who my parents are?” she asked in a voice quivering with excitement.
Regret flickered across Miss Chalfont’s face before she shook her head. “No, I am very sorry, he has not. For your sake I wish he had. In fact, I do not know who he is. I receive instructions from a lawyer in Dover. To be honest, for no particular reason, I have always assumed your guardian’s identity is that of a man, but it could be that of a woman.”
Dover! Annabelle thought. The town where she had lived with her nurse before a nameless elegant lady, with a French accent, brought her to The Beeches. Time and time again she had wondered if the lady was her guardian or whether she was a stranger ordered to bring her here. She had no way of knowing, for the lady had not answered any of her questions.
Annabelle looked into Miss Chalfont’s eyes. “Who is the lawyer, ma’am?”
“I do not know for he does not identify himself. He merely arranges for your…er…upkeep, and sends me your guardian’s instructions.”
No clue to the mystery of my own identity, Annabelle thought and gazed down to conceal her disappointment. “Has the lawyer given you permission to tell me who my guardian is?” she asked, despite her suspicion that he had not.
Miss Chalfont looked down at a letter. “No, your guardian, whom I have no doubt has your welfare at heart, still wishes to remain anonymous. But, my dear child, you are fortunate. Your guardian has arranged for you to marry Monsieur le Baron de Beauchamp.”
Annabelle looked up with a mixture of astonishment, disbelief, and intense indignation at the arrangement that took no heed of her wishes. “I am to marry a man I have never met?”
With restless fingers, Miss Chalfont adjusted her frilled mobcap. “Yes, your guardian has arranged for you to marry Monsieur le Baron tomorrow.”
Annabelle stared at her kind teacher as though she had turned into a monster. “Mon dieu!” she raged, reverting to the French she spoke when she was a small child. “My God! Tomorrow? My guardian expects me to marry a Frenchman tomorrow? Miss Chalfont, surely you do not approve of such haste.”
“Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.” Miss Chalfont tapped her fingers on her desk. “My approval or disapproval is of no consequence. Your guardian wishes you to marry immediately so there is little more to be said. A special licence has been procured and the vicar has been informed.” Miss Chalfont smiled at her. “You have nothing to fear. This letter informs me that Monsieur speaks English and lives in this country.”
Annabelle scowled. Her hands trembled. For the first time, she defied her head mistress. “Nothing to fear? My life is to be put in the hands of a husband with the right to…beat me…or…starve me, and you say I have nothing to fear, Miss Chalfont? Please believe me when I say that nothing will persuade me to marry in such haste.”
Not the least display of emotion crossed the head teacher’s face. “You should not allow your imagination to agitate your sensibilities. For all you know, the monsieur is charming and will be a good, kind husband.”
“On the other hand, he might be a monster,” Annabelle said.
Miss Chalfont ignored the interruption and continued. “At eighteen, you are the oldest girl in the school. It is time for you to leave the nest and establish one of your own.”
“Twaddle,” Annabelle muttered. “My education is almost complete and I suspect you wish to be rid of me.”
Miss Chalfont smoothed the skirt of her steel-grey woollen gown and looked at Annabelle with a cold expression in her eyes. “I beg your pardon? Did I hear you say twaddle? As for wishing to be rid of you, child, that is not true. However, I will admit that in recent months I have worried about your guardian’s future plans for you. But I need not have worried. As a happy bride, I daresay you will go to London where those pretty blue eyes and long lashes of yours will be so much admired that Monsieur le Baron will be proud of you.”
At any other time Miss Chalfont’s rare compliment would have pleased her. On this occasion it only served to increase the fury she tried to conceal. Losing her temper would be pointless. Before Annabelle spoke, she took a deep breath to calm herself. “It is unreasonable to order me to marry the man without allowing me time to become acquainted with him.”
“Do not refer to your bridegroom as the man. I have told you his name is de Beauchamp.”
Rebellion flamed in Annabelle’s stomach. “What do you know of my…er...bridegroom-to-be, ma’am?”
Miss Chalfont looked down at the letter. “He is described as a handsome gentleman of mature years.”
“One would think the description is of a piece of mature cheese or a bottle of vintage wine.”
Miss Chalfont frowned. “Do not be impertinent, Annabelle, you are not too old to be punished.”
“I beg your pardon, ma’am, but please tell me how mature he is,” Annabelle said, her eyes wide open and her entire body taut with apprehension.
“Monsieur le Baron is some forty-years-old.”
“How mature?” Annabelle persisted with her usual bluntness.
“He is forty-two-years-old.”
Annabelle stood, bent forward, and drummed her fingers on the edge of the desk. “Please be kind enough to inform my guardian that I will not play Guinevere to an aging Arthur. I would prefer to build my nest with a young Lancelot.”
Miss Chalfont’s shoulders heaved as though she was trying not to laugh. “Regardless of your preference, you must marry according to your guardian’s wish.”
“Dear ma’am, you and your mother have always been kind to me. I cannot believe you approve of—”
“As I have already said, my approval or disapproval is of no importance. Your duty is to obey.”
Annabelle’s anger boiled and she felt somewhat sick in the stomach. Now that she was old enough to leave the seminary, it seemed that unless she refused to co-operate, she really would be disposed of without the slightest consideration for her personal wishes. Simultaneously afraid to obey her guardian and furious because not even Miss Chalfont seemed to care about her dilemma, Annabelle straightened up. She looked around the cosy parlour, with its thick oriental rugs, pretty figurines on the mantelpiece, and a number of gilt-framed pictures on the wall, one of which she had painted. “I will consider the marriage.” Annabelle looked down again, in case rebellion revealed itself on her face. But she had not lied. She would consider the marriage proposal, but not in the manner Miss Chalfont expected, for she would find a way to reject the elderly baron.
Miss Chalfont stood, walked round her desk, and patted Annabelle’s shoulder before resting her hand on it. “My dear child, there is little for you to consider. I dread to think of the consequences if you disobey your guardian. You could be cast penniless from here with only the clothes on your back. After all, your guardian does have complete power over you.”
Annabelle wanted to jerk away from her uncaring teacher’s hand but forced herself to remain passive. She did not want the woman to suspect the nature of her rebellious thoughts and have her closely watched. Inwardly, she seethed and decided that whatever the cost, she would escape the fate in store for her. An image of her former nurse, with whom she corresponded, flashed through her mind. With it came a sense of security and purpose.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Three Shades of Gorgous

In honor of EL James releasing Grey, I'm sharing an interview with three of my heroes that first appeared on lovely Lisabet Sari's blog last year. http://www.lisabetsarai.com/

 I’m in the Hereditary Lykae King’s palace, and I’ve blagged an interview with the heroes from the first two books of my Scattered Siblings series, To Wed a Werewolf, and Curse of the Fae King. I thought I’d do a formal Q and A, what with them being Kings, only before I got started, they showed their true colors. This is what happened.

Caleb the Cold rules the Lykae packs with a firm hand, and until he met Sylvie, he earned himself the sobriquet, the Cold. Believe me, ladies, the Lykae king is hot.

Then there’s Leonidas, King of the Fae. Dark haired, tall and broad-chested, the Fae King’s definitely not the Tinkerbell type. Even his muscles have muscles. I’m so going to enjoy this interview.

King Leonidas spotted me first. He crossed the great hall to greet me by kissing my hand. My god, it's hot in here. He spoke in an impossibly deep voice that made my heart race and made my temperature spike again. "Charmed to meet you."

Then again, King Caleb makes my breath catch in my throat. The blond warrior king matches Leonidas muscle for muscle, but he lacks his practiced charm.

There’s no formality in this castle. Caleb wandered over, rolled his eyes and said, “Hi. Ignore Leo’s attempts to flirt. He just can’t help himself.”“

Leonidas’ eyes narrowed. “At least I don’t have to kidnap a woman to get her into my bed.

Caleb let his fingernails extend into claws. “Unlike you who just locked yourself in a tower, turned feral, and let your chamberlain pimp for you. I still don’t understand what that rainbow-haired witch saw in you.”

Leonidas’ voice deepened. Hell, it came from his boots, rumbled around his chest, then rolled like thunder through the great hall. “I could say the same about my little sister, but at least she had the wits to defeat the People’s Defense League. Apparently, she’s both the beauty and the brains in your relationship.”

Apparently, these two argue like this all the time, but I’m pretty sure there’s good humor beneath it. At least I hope so. Time to remind them where we are I think. “Are you ready for your interview, gentlemen?”

They both looked sheepish, then grinned. JBefore either could say a word, Joel Blackheart, Grand Marshall of the Lykae Forces, slipped into the room. Good grief, I wondered when I saw him, does every Lykae come in shades of gorgeous? The exalted company didn’t bother him—maybe because he had a smidgen of royal blood himself.

Joel sighed and shook his head. “That war dragon of King Leo’s caused chaos in the courtyard. He tried to force his huge bulk into the kitchen. The chef had hysterics.”

Leonidas chuckled—a sound so sexy breath caught in my throat. His eyes twinkled, and he got a soppy, I-love-my-true mate look on his face. “Meena will sort it.”

Joel grinned, and if there’s been a thermometer close by mercury would have burst out the glass. “She already did. Now your prize war dragon’s laid with his head’s on his paws, and his tail curled around his body. He’s a picture of misery with his hangdog eyes and nobody-ever-feeds-me expression. Even the cook felt sorry for him. He ordered the porters to bring trays of food from the kitchen.”

Joel sensed the testosterone flowing from the respective kings and moved to Caleb’s side.

Leonidas turned haughty. “I’m just pointing out my half sister has a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. Why else would she marry someone like your king?”

Caleb growled and bared his fangs. Fur grew on his arms. Then two women strolled in, arm in arm. One smiled shyly as she moved to King Caleb’s side. He swept her into his arms and moved in for a kiss that went on so long I thought they’d suffocate. Just watching it made my temperature rise. Again!

The other woman—the one with a mass of rainbow curls—rushed into Leonidas’ open arms. He swung her round, then buried one hand in her hair, and tugged her lips to his. She ran her foot up and down the back of his calf. Finally, she lifted her head. “Leo, I heard what you said. Play nice.”

Joel Blackheart stared out the window, then up at the ceiling. I half expected him to put his hands in his pockets and whistle. “Too much public pawing. Can’t you save it until you get to the bedroom.”

Leonidas and Caleb dropped their antagonist fa├žade. United, they turned on Joel Blackheart. Caleb went first. “Just wait until you find your true mate.”

I don’t want to,” Joel shot back. “I won’t let some woman wind me around her little finger.”

Leonidas looked down at his queen, his heart in his eyes. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my Meena. I hope your true mate makes you crazy.”

Joel shook his head. “I’m immune to all that true mate nonsense. Sure, you two have found women who make you happy, but I’ve agreed to an arranged marriage that allies us with another pack. In three weeks I leave the Lykae army, return to Rackutta Valley, and take over as alpha of the Tundra-Tough pack. After that, I’ll meet the fiancee my father picked out for me.

Meena, the Fae Queen, turned to her sister-in-law Sylvie. “I hope those words don’t come back to haunt him.”

I hope you enjoyed the brief insight into the relationship between King Caleb and King Leonidas, but on rereading this, it says more about Joel Blackheart. You can read his story in To Mate a Werewolf.

To give you a taste, there's an excerpt from my first Scattered Siblings book, To Wed a Werewolf, below the buy links.

Each book is a stand-alone romance set in a realm of witches, dragons, Lykae, and Fae.  

Buy links

To Wed a Werewolf

Loose ID               http://www.loose-id.com/to-wed-a-werewolf.html 
Amazon.com         http://amzn.to/1FtmB9b
Amazon.co.uk       http://amzn.to/1QIOEgB
Amazon.com.au    http://bit.ly/1Ftn2QI

 Curse of the Fae King

Loose ID               http://www.loose-id.com/curse-of-the-fae-king.html
Amazon.com         http://amzn.to/1TDUYox
Amazon.co.uk       http://amzn.to/1FtmOcy
Amazon.com.au    http://bit.ly/1TDVXoI

To Mate Werewolf

Loose ID                  http://www.loose-id.com/scattered-siblings-to-mate-a-werewolf.html
Amazon.com           http://amzn.to/1QIOBBo
Amazon.co.uk         http://amzn.to/1GqBOZv
Amazon.com.au      http://bit.ly/1LlLAnb

Except from To Wed a Werewolf

I told you”—a huge hand landed on each of Sylvie’s shoulders—“you’re not welcome here.” 

The damn security guard had already turned her away twice, but he definitely looked good in a tux. She could get a neck ache staring up at his towering wall of muscle and menace, but she liked the way his blond hair curled over his collar. His broad shoulders and long, lean physique made her heart beat a machine-gun rhythm, but his clear gray eyes narrowed when he realized she’d sneaked back again. 

Although her breasts perked up and demanded his attention, the attraction certainly wasn’t mutual. Maybe she shouldn’t have crept in with the caterers, but he’d left her no choice. Why did he have to be huge, imposing, and so sexy he made her mouth water? Damn it, she was lusting after another Lykae, and people’s lives were at stake here. 

Desperate to speak to the bride or groom, she grabbed a tray of drinks from a side table and slammed it into his stomach. Wine splattered the walls. Glasses shattered as they crashed onto the marble floor. The Lykae growled in annoyance, but the tray bounced off him like it had hit a brick wall. 

“Violent little thing, aren’t you?” He never flinched. “But I’m definitely up for the fight.” 

He stalked toward her, his eyes—dirty ice diamonds—condemned her, and she quickly dropped her gaze. 

Great! Now I’m staring at his dick. But it’s definitely worth a second look. 

His brows drew together in a frown so fierce her courage shriveled inside her. Arms wrapped around her chest, she backed off, but there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. 

“Hey, lady,” one of the caterers called, “get back in the dining room and finish setting up your tables.” 

“She’s fired,” the security guard snarled. “And step up your security, or your firm won’t work here again.” 

His clenched jaw and angry glower sent the caterer running. That left Sylvie trapped and alone with a furious Lykae. God, what if he turned? Would he rip out her throat? So scared she could hardly breathe, she stared anywhere except at him; then he stepped closer and invaded her personal space. One swift, graceful move and she hung over his shoulder like captured prey. An inch or so lower and she could bite his spectacular butt. When he flashed them into the otherworld, she struggled not to barf all over it. 

The transition always made her stomach churn. Once her nausea settled, she screamed the high-pitched shriek only a fairy in distress could manage. 

“That”—he stroked one hand over her bottom as she squirmed and kicked—“hurt my ears.” 

“Good,” she snapped, and screamed again. 

Whack! The gentle pressure became a full-on slap that made her bottom burn. 

“Be quiet or I’ll spank you again. The wedding’s in two hours, and I don’t have time to deal with a troublesome bitch like you.” 

God, that slap made her ass throb—and there he went insulting her again. What was it that attracted her to arrogant Lykae men? And why did they treat her as a second-class citizen? Story of her life, really. 

Even her Fae father had walked away and left her human mother to work two jobs to keep Sylvie clothed and fed. Then the day she turned seventeen, her half brother had arrived on her doorstep and told her she was a Fae princess. She’d told him to get real, but he had been. He introduced her to the otherworld—a place so beautiful it made her gasp, but so violent it scared her witless. Ever since, she’d dreamed of someone strong and special, someone who’d always put her first. 

“You don’t understand.” She beat her fists on Mr. Arrogance’s back. “I have to speak to Giles.” 

“I just bet you do, but news flash, sweetness, you have to get past me first.” He shoved her into a bare room, empty but for a cast-iron bed. “Don’t worry, princess. I promise we’ll play later.” 

She tried to dodge around him, but he moved with Lykae swiftness, blocking her way and looking her over like she was a fine meal. 

What the hell happens if he bites me? Will I turn all wolfy too? 

He backed her against the wall, placed one hand on either side of her shoulders, and leaned in closer. His woodland-fresh essence hit her; then his gaze focused on her lips. He pressed his body against her, and she suddenly understood the expression “hung like a stallion.” 

His grin was all predatory wolf and playful masculinity. Her body tensed with excitement. Anticipation made her breath catch as he lowered his mouth toward hers. Eyes wide, heart racing, she parted her lips for his kiss. Then he spun her around, shoved her, aching breasts first, against the wall, and locked one arm around her neck in a sleeper hold. 

Damn it, she thought just before she lost consciousness. What do I need to do to get a Lykae to kiss me? 

* * * * 

Sylvie’s sore arms and aching head woke her. She forced her eyes open, but the world seemed blurry and unclear. She’d no idea where she was or how long she’d been unconscious. Gradually her vision refocused, and she realized she stood in a bleak room—medieval even—her wrists bound in thick rope that looped around the rafters. No wonder her arms throbbed, but if she stood tall, she could relieve the strain. 

The room was dirty and neglected, but clean sheets covered the bed. Spiderwebs hung like curtains over the windows. Something flapped sedately past, its golden scales a stark contrast to the green sky, bloodied prey dangling from its beak. A wyvern swooped from nowhere, its claws sinking into the carrion eater’s flesh, and they plummeted downward. Their battle screams echoed through her prison, then ended in a roar of triumph. The blue-scaled wyvern zoomed past the window as it shot off with its stolen prey. 

Her Lykae had left her alone and vulnerable, but even if she escaped her bonds, how could she survive out there? And why was her magic always just beyond her grasp? Then she remembered. Mr. Arrogance had brought her here. As she struggled to free her wrists, she prayed he came back after the wedding. 

Oh God, the wedding! The war! 

She’d failed, and now the entire Fae Nation would pay the price. How could she have been so stupid? 

She swung like an acrobat on the rope, but her bonds stayed intact and her wrists burned and bled. Desperate, more scared than she’d thought possible, she screamed that bloodcurdling banshee shriek that carried for miles—but no hero rushed to her rescue. 

She’d no idea how long she hung there. Eventually the door opened, and Mr. Arrogance swaggered back, his every movement making his muscles ripple beneath his tux. 

He was one breathtaking, blond he-man, the stuff of any girl’s fantasy, but he’d never look at a skinny thing like her. Her stick-thin body, coffee-colored hair, and clear green eyes could never compete with the curvaceous Lykae ladies she’d seen back at the wedding hotel. Better to forget this jaw-dropping piece of masculinity and creep back to her half brother’s court—not that he wanted her for more than a political pawn. 

Her dominant Lykae stared at her, eyes stern gray mirrors void of any emotion, and his wolfish grin made her wonder if she was his dinner. Then she remembered his promise to play later, and no matter how she much she wanted to fight him, a delicious tingle spread through her pussy. Damn it, this was no time to give in to her body’s cravings, not when she had a wedding to stop—or better yet, postpone—and an interspecies war to prevent. 

“Had time to reconsider?” He smirked. 

“Are they married,” she demanded, “or is there still time?” 

“Persistent little beggar, aren’t you?” 

“You don’t understand—” 

“Oh, sweetness,” he mocked, “I understand all too well, but if you’re determined to play your sex games, you should play them with me.” 
Copyright © Kryssie Fortune

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Five Facts Thursday - please welcome Jean Joachin

Five Facts about me:

1. Although a New York City resident for thirty years, I escape to a small town upstate, with a population of 1500, every summer to write. 

2. I adore black licorice and can't resist a piece of cake lurking in my refrigerator.

3. I have a rescued pug named Homer. He is my muse and we are inseparable.

4. I have two grown sons who are the light of my life. 

5. My grandfather was the sheriff of Bisbee, AR, many, many years ago. 

Buy links:

BARNES & NOBLE - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/buddy-carruthers-wide-receiver-jean-joachim/1121655138?ean=2940151875486

ITUNES - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/buddy-carruthers-wide-receiver/id987365024?mt=11



 Known for his record-breaking stats and womanizing ways, wide receiver, Buddy Carruthers, would give it all up for one chance to win the only woman he ever wanted, Emmy Meacham. Hard-won games, and traveling half the season kept Buddy from pursuing his secret passion. Even if he managed to corner her for a moment, would she still care?
Now a rock star known as Emerald, Emmy lived her life on the road with no time for love. In her dreams, she longed to turn back the clock and spend another night with Buddy. But lies and deceit had kept them apart for five years. Would a chance meeting wash away those years or cause old wounds to resurface? Could two lives traveling in opposite directions make room for love or would they continue to spin, out of sync, and always alone?


Chapter One

Buddy slowly tore out the page in Celebs ‘R Us magazine. He smoothed his hand over the gorgeous photo of the stunning rock star, Emerald. Why aren’t you here with me? After a glance at his watch, he pushed to his feet. Trotting through the hallway, he made it to the locker room with ten minutes to spare.
“Whatcha got there, shrimp?” Bullhorn Brodsky asked.
“None of your fuckin’ business,” Buddy said, plucking the paper from the meaty hand of the linebacker and laying it on the shelf in his locker.
Before he could close the door, Brodsky, six four, two hundred and thirty pounds, shoved the five foot ten player aside. The big man stuffed his massive paw in the narrow space and snatched the photo back. He held it high, so Buddy couldn’t reach it.
“Lookie, lookie, a pin up of Emerald. In a bikini, too.”
The players hooted and hollered.
“Like she’d ever look at you, shrimp. Jack off material?”
“Shut the fuck up, you fat asshole. Gimme that,” Buddy snarled.
“Who you callin’ fat?” Strong fingers crumpled the page.
“The guy with three inches hangin’ over his belt, dickwad.”
Bull’s eyes widened as he went for the nimble runner.
Griff Montgomery, starting quarterback, stepped between the two men. “Come on, guys. Give Buddy his picture, Bull.”
The big man handed it over. “I hear she’s gonna pose for Playboy. Now that’d be jack off material.”
Buddy got sick to his stomach at the thought of Bull leering at a naked Emerald while jerking off. He flew at the linebacker. His fist connected with his teammate’s nose.
“Hey! Hey, break it up!” Griff tried to get between them again. Trunk Mahoney and another large linebacker entered the fray and pulled the men apart. Buddy’s nose was bleeding. So was Bull’s.
“Somebody’s got a crush,” Bull teased, in a sing-song voice.
“Shut the fuck up,” Griff said. “Assholes. You could get fined for this. Both of you.”
“The way he’s actin’, you’d think she was his girlfriend.” Bull gently touched the bridge of his nose.
“Yeah? Wouldn’t you be surprised,” Buddy muttered, grabbing a towel and his shoulder pads. After wiping off his face, he finished getting suited up to play. But his thoughts were far from the gridiron. They were squarely planted in a bus station in Willow Falls, New York, five years ago, where he said goodbye to the girl they now called “Emerald.”
Emmy Meacham, her name before she became famous, had been Buddy’s girlfriend in college. Though they had parted ways before she hit it big, his love for her had never died. She looked the same, except for a streak of bright green in her now-short hair. His blood heated simply looking at her petite, well-endowed frame.
Her mischievous smile practically winked at him off the page. Her eyes glowed with promise, promise that she and Buddy had fulfilled in college. His fingers tingled at the memory of her soft skin. He’d slept with a mountain of women in the last five years, but none could compare to Emmy.
Still miffed that the badly wrinkled clipping wouldn’t be worth saving, Buddy decided to reorder last month’s issue, so he could get a pristine copy of the amazing photograph.
When he remembered that she had dumped him immediately following their tender goodbye, his jaw stiffened. She had turned her back on him the minute she left. He hadn’t heard from her since. Now, little Emmy Meacham was Emerald, a big rock star. The wound, still painful after five years, refused to heal.
“Focus, Buddy. We’ve got a game,” Griff said, patting his pal on the shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Buddy put his feelings for Emmy into the cold storage section of his heart and turned the key. After a deep breath, he shook out his arms, twisted his neck to loosen the muscles, and knocked off a bottle of water. Griff tossed him a jersey with number fifteen on the back. He smiled. “Ready, Griff.”
The warmth of understanding in his friend’s smile made Buddy uneasy. He didn’t want anyone to know about Emmy. Only his mother knew of his heartbreak. The team all thought he was a womanizer with a heart of stone. He liked it that way. Fewer questions, fewer lies, and he kept his secret well hidden.
His teammates joined the others heading for the field. They lined up and stopped. Standing next to Tony Harrison, back-up quarterback, Buddy rested his hand over his heart, like his
mother had taught him, waiting for the National Anthem. Harrison looked like he didn’t know what to do. What the hell? What did he do at the million college games he played? Buddy nudged the young recruit and motioned the boy to follow his lead. The newbie grinned. Little asshole is relieved he knows what to do. Buddy gave his head a shake.
A sexy female in very high heels trotted out onto the field, and the crowd went wild.
Buddy rubbed his eyes. His brow creased. He stared in disbelief. “It can’t be.”
* * * *
Emmy had never sung the Star Spangled Banner in public as a solo before. She was nervous singing such a challenging melody. She glanced toward the left and saw The Kings in their dark turquoise and white uniforms. Those are the best colors. The opposing team was clad in dark blue and white. So unoriginal.
She waved to the fans as they cheered her, but her eye kept perusing the Kings’ players, searching for Buddy. He’s gotta be there. Isn’t this why you told Stash you’d take this gig? Two military men raised their trumpets, and Emmy began to sing. She transformed from sweet Emmy Meacham to Emerald as the emotion behind the song gripped her guts.
When she finished, the spectators went crazy, cheering. She took her bow and raised her arms. The players put their helmets on, destroying her chance to catch a glimpse of her old boyfriend.