Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Clean Slate...A New Trilogy

I started my new trilogy this weekend, and it's a pretty awesome feeling.  As good as it feels to wrap up a project like The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy, it feels even better to start a new one.  I'm all giddy and excited and full of ideas.

The Demimonde Trilogy is going to take me back to the historical romance.  There will also be some suspense, but that is secondary to the history and the romance.  All three books are set in Butte, Montana in 1910, and the research has been fascinating!  What a remarkable time and a remarkable place!  I keep stumbling upon new golden nuggets and thinking to myself, "I have to incorporate that." This is why I decided to turn one book into three.

In addition to the steamy romances and the strong-willed characters, I also get to create stories around the issues of human trafficking, prostitution, labor union fights, the Suffrage Movement, and the Progressive Movement.  See! I told you that it was a remarkable time.

Is anyone else annoyed by my overuse of exclamation points yet?

I can't help it!  This project has me pretty pumped up.

I sketched out some hopeful release dates, but I'm not prepared to share those.  I'm only on page five, and a lot can happen between now and then to throw those dates off.  And frankly, I've been eagerly anticipating this project for months, so I'm going to take my time to enjoy it and do it properly.

And since I have five more days before I get buried by my real job's obligations, I plan to put in some serious writing this week.  I'll begin releasing some sample pages in January.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays to you all!
And be well.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TRIPLE THREAT is now available on Amazon!

The heading says it all.  I have finally finished TRIPLE THREAT, the final book in The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy.  Check it out!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


It's nearly official.  I am on the final revision of Triple Threat.  I expect to release it on Tuesday, November 19, which will make it available for purchase on Wednesday, November 20.  (I'm currently doing my victory dance.)

This is officially the conclusion of The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy.  

And as much fun as it has been, I'm eager to work on my next project.  I'm delving back into the world of historical romance and will be playing there for a while.  I did enjoy the paranormal, though, and will definitely re-visit it in the future.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Raging...Not Sleeping

I should be asleep right about now, preparing to start my week at my day job.  But on a whim, I decided to do a Google search of one of my book titles.  I wanted to see if anyone had blogged about it or reviewed it on their websites.  I got a bit more than I bargained for.

I found that a person published my entire novel online.  For those who are wondering, yes, this is a copyright infringement.  Simply put, it's theft.

Oddly enough, she listed her own name as the "publisher" on the website but then posted the entire file, including the cover with my name and the copyright page with my name.  So she doesn't seem interested in taking credit for my work.  She apparently just wanted to put it out there for anyone who might be interested in reading it for free.  Illegally.

So I had to file a complaint.

Because that is EXACTLY what I want to do late on a Sunday evening.

I would like to take a moment now to string together a series of my favorite profane phrases, but I've been trying really hard to stay positive throughout this process.  (I chuckle while I read bad reviews over my MiniWheats.  I'm particularly fond of the ones where the reviewer admits that he/she didn't read the book.)  But this makes me seriously furious.  Those of us who are indie authors are genuinely trying to make some money doing something we love.  So for someone to simply undercut us by stealing our work is either a huge and grave oversight or simply super shitty.  See, now I've begun with the profanity.

I must go do some deep breathing exercises so that I can actually get to sleep.  With any luck, the stolen novel will disappear from public domain in the next day or two.  Grr!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Not Drowning But Waving

There have most definitely been moments when I've felt that I was drowning in the writing process for the third book in The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy.  I have repeatedly told myself that I refused to let Triple Threat kick my ass.  But damn if it isn't putting up a good fight.

I was nearly half done when I decided to do a complete re-write.  I am very passionate about sociology and politics, both of which could easily slip into this particular novel.  The genre, however, is not about making some grand statement.  So I started over and focused instead on developing the romantic relationship and the suspenseful action.  And while I'm thrilled with the changes I've made, the choice to re-write threw me off of my deadline.  I, however, refused to admit defeat and continued to forge ahead.

For the record, I still will not admit defeat.  But it is important to me that I take the time to make sure this one is done properly.  There's nothing worse than getting excited about a trilogy as a reader and finishing with a sour taste in your mouth.  So I refer to a spectacular Stevie Smith poem in my post title to indicate that this book has not licked me, it has merely forced me to take my time to do it the justice I feel it deserves.

Triple Threat follows the story of Teddie Archer.  She has just graduated from college and is returning home, but not to enter the family business as her mother and aunt had hoped.  And even before she can begin to build her political career as an employee in the Mayor's office, she learns that her childhood friend has been abducted.  When she ventures outside of the city walls to go after her, the secret society that has been hell bent on destroying her since birth begins their attack anew.  She must rely on her own powers of premonition as well as the support of Special Agent Luke Berger and her best friend, Dominic Battaglia, two men who are both determined to love and protect Teddie at all cost.

I want more than anything to have this book wrapped within the next two weeks so that I can release by November 15, before the holiday hustle begins.  But I am also perfectly aware of the obligations I have at this particular moment to my day job.  So I will do the best that I can.

And as I mentioned before, I welcome any extrinsic motivation.  So please feel free to email me a daily "you suck" email until I am able to complete this final book to my liking.  I will welcome the challenge.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Teaser for TRIPLE THREAT (Book 3 of The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy)

Excerpt from TRIPLE THREAT, the final book in The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy

     “Happy graduation day, Mr. President.”
     He looked up from the desk in his home office and grinned in welcome at the beautiful woman in the doorway.  She was approaching fifty now, but she was still as gorgeous and sexy as she had been when he met her twenty years before.  “Can you believe it?  She’s already graduating.”
     “They grow up so quickly,” she agreed, sauntering across the room and lowering herself into his lap deliciously.  Her mouth was painted red, accentuating her pink tongue as she licked her lips.  “Don’t worry,” she assured him.  “The wife left ten minutes ago.”
     “I don’t worry…as a general rule.”  He pulled her forward so that he could taste those lips for himself.  “Did you see the ceremony?”
     “I had a front row seat,” she bragged.  “She’s a beautiful young woman, Gabe.  You should be proud of her.”
     He grinned wryly.  “She still doesn’t seem to know about her future?” he asked in disbelief.
     “My sources say that she does not.  She is well liked by her friends and respected by her professors.  She graduated at the top of her class and is now returning home.”
     “To work at her family’s company?”
     “You would think, but no.  She’s actually taken a job with the Mayor.”
     “The Mayor?”
     She studied his thoughtful expression.  “Is he one of ours?”
     He met her intelligent eyes.  “One can never be sure,” he answered cryptically. 
     “We’ve waited for twenty years, Gabe.  You have retired from politics and no longer need to collect votes.  She is old enough that she will not be under the constant supervision of her family.  And she is no longer living within the protective walls of her university.  I have to wonder if it isn’t time to make a move.”
     He chewed his lip thoughtfully.  “She is twenty-two and will begin making a name for herself.  If she’s already got a job in the Mayor’s office, she will begin networking.  You said yourself that she is well liked.  I don’t think that we can afford to wait and let her build a following.”
     “And let’s be real, Gabe.  Between the gangs, the refugees and the revolutionaries, it’s a dangerous world we live in.  MaCall Securities Consulting cannot possibly protect themselves from all of the bad guys.”
     He smiled in response.  “Then it’s time.”
     “Get the boys together.”
     “We have lost a number of members, Aislin.  The Order only has a fraction of the membership we had twenty years ago.”
     She pushed herself back and seated herself on the desk in front of him, allowing her skirt to hike up high enough to reveal that she wore nothing underneath.  “Fortunately, darling, you still have all the power.”
     He stood up and reached for the button of his slacks.  “If I didn’t, you wouldn’t be here, would you?”
     Instead of answering, she grinned and pulled him to her.

TRIPLE THREAT will be available on Amazon 
October 31, 2013!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Status Update on Kindle Free Promo Results

Last week (September 23-27), I ran a five-day free promo on Amazon for my contemporary romance, Inner Moonlight.  Of my four books that are currently available for purchase, this particular novel is my favorite.  You can imagine my frustration with my fairly abysmal sales.  So I decided to pull it off of Smashwords, put it in Kindle Select, and run a free promo.

In the beginning of the month, I sent email notifications to a number of websites, asking them to advertise my book.  These include:

On the day of the promo, I released notifications on multiple group message boards on Goodreads and also sent a couple of tweets and Facebook updates.  In general, I did the exact same promotional emails that I had done for all of my previous promos.  For these previous promos, I'm averaging around 1500 free downloads for a two- or three-day promo.

After five days, I had 19,960 free downloads!  Ten-thousand of those took place on Monday alone.  I cannot be sure why my numbers surged.  I'd like to think that I'm establishing a bit of a fan base, but more than likely, someone ran my promo and inflated my sales.  And to that organization, I offer my sincere gratitude.

I wish that I had had the good sense to check these websites to see who ran an ad, but to be honest, I was so busy checking my KDP reports with childlike glee that I forgot that marketing analysis component.  Oops.  Regardless of how or why it happened, it has been a particularly exciting event.  I actually made it all the way to #9 in all of the Kindle Free selections.  And I hung out at #3 for free contemporary romances for a little while.  It was a tad bit unbelievable.

In other fun news, I'm making progress on the third and final book of The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy.  In addition to writing, I'm also in the final stages of the cover design with my graphic designer, Laura Gordon.  I've said it before, but she is such a joy to work with.

Within another week, I plan to release an excerpt and the cover for Triple Threat.  It is the romance of Teddie Archer, a young woman with more power than the other women in her family, and more challenges given the savage world in which she lives.  And while the storyline initially seemed on the verge of declaring war on me, it has turned out to be a surprising pleasure.

More on Triple Threat very soon!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Inner Moonlight is free on Amazon THIS WEEK!

Clearly, some part of me wishes it were still August.  On a not entirely unrelated note, when you are promoting a free promotion, it is usually helpful to identify the correct dates.  

So INNER MOONLIGHT is free on Amazon from September 23-27.  


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Inner Moonlight is FREE on Amazon - August 23-27

After playing the role of the perfect wife for sixteen years, Elena Mazur is devastated by the death of her husband. She struggles with the relief she finds in her new freedom and the guilt she feels over his accident. She finds comfort in the arms of J.P., her husband's cousin and a man who has craved her since they were teenagers. And if she can stop blaming herself for her husband’s death, she might just fall in love with the man she’s always wanted.

Get Inner Moonlight, a contemporary romance, for free on Amazon today!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The MaCall Prophecy Update

I released Second Sight only a month ago yesterday, and I have witnessed some outstanding sales.  I am not sure why my sales began to balloon, but I have heard rumors that Amazon sent an email suggestion for Second Sight.  This email, I hear, was received by people who have purchased at least one of my books.  I cannot be sure that this is what happened, but I can assure you that short of the free promo for the first book in the series, I really did almost no social networking about the release.

The amazing news is that sales are up.

The other really good news is that my sales are really pushing me to move faster on the third book in the trilogy.  It is a busy time of year for me, and I find myself back to balancing life's responsibilities, but I have definitely been moving forward a bit on TRIPLE THREAT.

And I am still aiming for an October 31 release date.

It is the most challenging book I've ever written, but I am definitely enjoying it.  When I get a bit further and have the ability to get some editing done, I will release an exerpt.

In the meantime, thank you so much for your support!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Indie Book Sales for August

I am up early this morning to celebrate the completion of my August sales.  (And considering how much  I dislike mornings--as a general rule--that really is something.)

I do want to provide a bit of background.  In March, I released my first book through Kindle Direct Publishing.  Unsure of an appropriate avenue for advertising, I scoured the internet and examined various writers' blogs.  I then began my own blog in hopes of assisting other future indie writers.  I created my own website, Facebook account, and Twitter account.  I posted excerpts and promos.

By the beginning of May, I had released my second book and had discovered Laura Gordon (my cover designer) and Goodreads.  I found almost immediately that Goodreads is a vastly superior social networking site for the marketing of indie authors.  You also have the ability to network with other authors.  Every day, I check my book sales, my email, and my Goodreads account.  I only use Facebook to announce new releases and Twitter to promote free book promotions through Kindle Select.  On Goodreads, I belong to groups where I can announce new releases and free promos to thousands of people.  And since the Goodreads members are all readers and writers, your audience is much better suited than the wide world of Twitter and Facebook.

For a couple of months, I published my second book on both Amazon and Smashwords.  Although I did get some sales on Smashwords, they only started coming in after I ran a 4-day free promo.  And even once the sales came in, they were still only a fraction of the sales I was experiencing on Kindle with my books that were enrolled in the Kindle Select program.  After four months, I pulled this book off of Smashwords and enrolled in Kindle Select.

It was around this same time that I began crunching numbers and came to the conclusion that the $0.99 book simply does not pay.  It's great for new indie authors.  Between the low price and the free promos, I was able to release nearly 5,000 copies of my first book.  But most of the downloads were free and I was making almost nothing.  After much consideration, I decided to price all of my books at $2.99.  This allowed me to collect a greater percentage of profits, as well (70% on Amazon compared to the 35%.)

In June, I released my first book in my first trilogy.  Given that it was my third book, I do believe that I had a bit of a readers' base built in.  It also, however, was my first paranormal romantic suspense.  These days, it seems the popularity of the paranormal and fantasy genres almost guarantee an increase in sales.  In July, I saw my best month in royalties, doubling my record month.

In the middle of August, I released my second book in my trilogy.  This was huge!  For the first time, I could see directly that the free promos were paying off.  I actually outsold my first book in the trilogy, which seemed to suggest that some of the people who had picked up a free download then paid for the second book.  I tripled the volume of my best month and saw my royalties multiplied five times the amount I made in July (my record month)!

So after six months, I've drawn the following conclusions:
1.  Keep all books enrolled exclusively in Kindle Select.
2.  Price books at $2.99.  (I may increase these to $3.99 after the first year.  It depends largely on the cost of ebooks overall, which do seem to be on the rise.)
3.  Use Goodreads for primary marketing and networking purposes.  (For free promos, there are a number of other websites that advertise.  You should contact them two weeks before your promo.  And for a list of sites, you can check out the Author Marketing Club.)
4.  Trilogies pay off.  (Just make sure that you are actually writing three complete books rather than splitting a single book into three parts that requires your readers purchase all three to get the complete story.  This seems to be an emerging trend among indie writers, and I can't help but think that if a traditional publisher pulled this stunt, they would face severe criticism.)
5.  And lastly, be patient but continue writing, editing, and releasing.  Clearly, the more books you have under your name, the more you build your reader base and your sales.

Happy writing!

Saturday, August 24, 2013


With the release of SECOND SIGHT last week, I've been thrilled with the initial success and also feel that much more pressure to wrap up TRIPLE THREAT and to make it amazing.  This particular novel is definitely creating more hurdles for me.  It's kicking my ass!  I love having the character base established from the first two novels, but this third and final book in the series takes place twenty years later, in a society fraught with violence and corruption.  The challenge is that I am pretty passionate about both of these issues and need to really focus on establishing the relationships, romantic and otherwise, instead of my own political opinions.

I have also really taken the care to develop a vision of the setting and the backstory.  In some respects, there is a Dystopian element to the book, which is a genre that I have never written before.  So it is definitely taking some time.

Two days ago, I set an official goal for a release date on October 31, 2013.  I am now publishing this date in my blog to make sure that I'm holding myself accountable.  If the book is not officially available on Amazon by November 1, please feel free to send hate mail.  I welcome all forms of extrinsic motivation.

And following the release of this last book in the series, I will begin work on another historical romance.  I can promise you that this particular novel will take me considerably more time to write.  If I can complete it for publication by the Spring of 2014, I will be happy.  The historicals require more research, which I actually enjoy; and after knocking out an entire trilogy in six months, I need to slow things down a bit and let my creative juices regenerate.  I also have been brainstorming this particular historical romance since last January, and I am looking forward to reveling in it for a bit.

But first, I wrap The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

FREE Paranormal Romantic Suspense!

FIRSTBORN is Free today and tomorrow on Amazon!

Jac MaCall left her father's security consulting firm to run her own shop, selling crystals for healing and meditation.  When she's asked to fill in for her sister on a consultation, she meets the irresistibly uptight Dr. Will Archer and receives a vision that warns of a threat upon his life.  And while her premonitions help her keep him alive, even she cannot foresee that their passion for each other will endanger them both.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Two of The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy is Available Now!

SECOND SIGHT is now available on Amazon!

Taryn MaCall is a very practical woman burdened with very impractical visions.  But with a new threat against both herself and her sister's young child, she has no choice but to embrace this family curse.  And when Fate seems insistent on throwing her together with the gorgeous and rude Special Forces hero, she becomes certain that she must have done something very wrong in her past life.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

BONDS OF MATRIMONY is FREE today on Amazon!

I'm offering a free promo for BONDS OF MATRIMONY today and tomorrow on Amazon!  (For some reason, it has not yet gone free, but it is set up and should go free any minute now...any minute...still waiting...

Friday, August 9, 2013

FREE Copy of INNER MOONLIGHT in Exchange for Honest Review

When I began writing INNER MOONLIGHT, I couldn't get the storyline out of my head.  I was in the middle of another project, and I soon had to shove that project aside so that I could tell this story first.  Now I want to try to draw more readers to this particular story, in hopes that they will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  For this reason, I want to offer a free copy of the ebook in exchange for honest reviews from the first 20 people who contact me.  

This particular story line evolved from--believe it or not--an Abba song.  My daughter went through a phase where she would beg to listen to Abba's Greatest Hits every time we were in the car together, and next thing I knew, I would find myself driving and singing along with Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).    (I'll consider a future blog on my parenting choices when it comes to selecting appropriate musical choices for my then five-year-old child.)

So I was singing along with "Lay All Your Love on Me" when the idea came to life.  

"Don't go wasting your emotion.
Lay all your love on me.
Don't go sharing your devotion.
Lay all your love on me.

I've had a few little love affairs.
They didn't last very long and they've been pretty scarce.
I used to think that was sensible.
It makes the truth even more incomprehensible."

So I developed this story of a man who's wanted this woman almost all of his life.  She, however, belonged to his perfectly handsome, brilliant, kind, and generous cousin.  And when his cousin is killed in a tragic car accident, he is reunited with her and is hopeful for a second chance.  She, on the other hand, blames herself for her husband's death and knows that he would never want her to end up with his cousin.  Determined to punish herself and win her dead husband's approval, she fights her attraction to the man and does her best to try to keep him at arm's length.

It was a story that I loved writing, as I enjoyed and respected both of the characters.  Eager to reach as many readers as possible, I published it on both Amazon and Smashwords.  Without the Kindle Select free promos, however, I'm not reaching as many readers as I'd hoped with this novel.  For this reason, I've decided to offer some free copies in exchange for honest reviews in an effort to spread the word.

If you are interested in reading and reviewing this contemporary romance, please send an email to foxcarrigan at gmail dot com and let me know which format you prefer.  

And if you have already read it, I would be so very grateful if you would please write a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  

Thank you so much!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


     “I don’t suppose any of you can tell a girl where she can find a nice set of concrete flippers.”    She wiggled her toes in the water while the minnows jetted away from her. Who was she kidding? Even the carp would choose to suck on the pond scum before nibbling on her rotting carcass; as well they should. She wasn’t typically given to bouts of self-pity. In general, she felt that her life was charmed. But all of that had changed in the blink of an eye...or more accurately, it all happened in the turn of a head. The eyes didn’t blink. They stared in mortified disbelief. 
     Raising her hand to shade her eyes from the rising sun, she scanned the cottages on the opposite side of the lake until she found the ones she’d been looking for. There were three of them, separated by small side yards and sharing a wide beachfront. Even from this distance, she could see that the grass was sparse in the yards. Sand made the grass a rare commodity for these lake properties, a commodity that most owners chose to forego in favor of grilling, boating, and sitting at the end of their docks during their weekends away from the real world. That is what this lake had been for her growing up. And it was the same for her in-laws, the owners of the three houses across the lake.
     Her parents purchased the green cottage on the lot next to the Mazurs when she was only fourteen years old. That was the summer she met Alec, the summer her world had turned upside down. Granted, it hadn’t happened over night. It took nearly sixteen years. To be fair, it probably took fewer than ten years to turn her world upside down…but it took another six after that for her to realize it.
     She first saw him at the Ice Cream Shoppe across the lake. Her father had docked the boat outside so that she and her sister could sneak a nice cool treat before returning home for dinner. Alec had ridden his bike around the lake to treat himself and his four cousins to waffle cones. His short hair was naturally blond, but it was sun bleached the day she met him. His eyes were pale blue and fringed by long lashes. He was beautiful. And then he smiled.
     It wasn’t the perfectly white teeth. Or the way that his eyes crinkled a bit when he smiled. It was the sincerity. Elena was preparing to start high school, and she was not oblivious to the changes in the boys she’d known for her entire life. Aside from the obvious physical changes, they were suddenly trying too hard and dripping with insincerity. But when Alec Mazur flashed that smile at her, he radiated authenticity and kindness.
     He turned his attention to his cousins as they approached the counter and ordered their ice cream. While they waited, he stepped out of the way and pulled his cousins aside so that Teresa and Elena could place their orders. He plucked some napkins out of the aluminum holder and handed them to her.
     “Perfect day for ice cream,” he greeted.
     She only smiled in response, insecure and unsure of herself.
     “I’m Alec Mazur,” he said, holding out his hand.
     “Elena VanStraaten,” she replied, shaking his hand firmly. “This is my sister, Teresa.”
     Her sister grinned and bit into her ice cream cone. 
     “Girls, let’s get home before your mother realizes where we’ve gone and accuses me of spoiling your dinner.”
     “I’ve gotta go,” Elena said, nodding in embarrassment at her dad.
     “Nice to meet you, Elena VanStraaten. Enjoy your dinner.” Again, he smiled.
     Her sister nudged her and pulled her out of the Ice Cream Shoppe by the hand, laughing the entire way.
     She heard the high heels clicking down the dock toward her even before she heard the voice gently call out, “What are you doing out here, Laney?”
     Looking over her shoulder, she admired her sister’s athletic form in her fitted black dress. Her tan legs were bare and toned. “Remembering,” she answered softly.
     “There’s a lot to remember.” She could hear the smile in her sister’s voice. Teresa slipped out of her heels and awkwardly maneuvered herself and her short dress into a seated position beside her sister on the end of the dock. “A lot of good.”
     “A lot of good,” Elena repeated with a nod, trying to swallow the lump in her throat. 
     “A realtor was showing the place next door when I pulled in. Maybe you’ll get some neighbors.”
     Elena only responded with a noncommittal hum.
     She sat with her sister in silence for a few minutes, studying the minnows nipping at her toes without really seeing them. Finally, she took a deep breath and raised her eyes to look across the lake. A couple of houses down from what they fondly had referred to as the Mazur compound, a man stood on his dock, appearing to glance in their direction. He wore dark pants and a light buttoned down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
     Teresa sighed and softly suggested, “We better get going.”
     “Yeah.” Elena pushed herself to her feet and reached down to help her little sister up. “I just want to get this done and put it behind me.”
     When Elena looked into her sister’s eyes, they were filled with sorrow and sympathy.
     “Stop it, Teresa,” she muttered, moving past her and walking toward the cottage.

     Elena VanStraaten Mazur had come home. 
     He tried to be subtle as he watched her sitting on the end of the dock with her toes in the water. He hadn’t seen her in ten years, but he could still close his eyes and envision every detail of her gorgeous legs and her cute little toes. He had been more than half in love with her for more than half of his life, but he’d never even considered telling her. She had been Alec’s long before he had even met her. And she was still Alec’s.
     But now she had bought the cottage across the lake from his own. The rumor mill said she might be spending more than just the summer there. And for the first time in ten years, he was going to see her and speak to her.
     But first he had to let her bury her husband.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Preview of SECOND SIGHT: Book 2 of The MaCall Prophecy Trilogy

The following is an excerpt from SECOND SIGHT.  I hope to release this on Amazon by the end of the month.  Enjoy!

     She had no sooner disconnected the call than the view of a winter wonderland outside her windshield was obliterated by a sudden gust of smoke rushing from the front of her car. 
     “No no no,” she urged, frantically checking her gauges.  No lights were flashing…yet.  She continued driving for another six miles before the check engine light came on.  “Crimeny!” she muttered angrily, pulling over to the side of the road. 
     Suddenly, the snowfall outside of her car was not nearly as beautiful.  Her pea coat was expensive but not nearly heavy enough to keep her dry and warm outside.  She also wore a pencil skirt with a silk blouse and high heels.  She couldn’t exactly walk home, even though she wasn’t more than three miles away.  She knew enough to know better than to try to nurse the car home.  She suspected a blown radiator hose, which translated to possibly overheating the engine.  And that meant very costly repairs. 
     Instead, she picked up her phone and called Information for a tow truck.  A woman answered the phone and said she would send someone immediately.  Taryn hadn’t caught the name of the company.
     As she waited, she remembered the last time she’d been stranded on the side of the road.  It had been raining that night rather than snowing.   And she’d missed a consult because of that flat tire.  All had turned out well as Jac filled in for her and met Dr. Will Archer, the man she married a few months later.  And because of that night, Taryn was now going to be a godmother to a beautiful little girl. 
     She tried to forget about the rest of that night.
     She tried to forget Gray Campbell.
     She’d been trying to forget him for two years.
     In the privacy of her office, she had cyber stalked him, learning that he had graduated high school and immediately gone into the Army.  He served for fifteen years and was promoted as high as Master Sergeant.  He had ended his career with Special Forces in Afghanistan, where he and his team encountered an IUD and he had been hit. 
     He had limped slightly that night as he had hopped out of his truck and approached her car.  His jeans had hugged his thighs, and his legs looked muscular and well formed.  He was rugged and more than a little bit gorgeous, with a crooked nose, a bit of scruff on his jaw, and a full mouth. 
     And he’d been rude to her.
     The President of the United States awarded him with a Purple Heart and he’d been labeled a hero.  But that didn’t change the fact that he was a complete douche bag.
     She silently prayed he wouldn’t be the tow truck that arrived to help.
     Then she pulled down her visor and checked her make-up in her mirror…just to have something to do while she waited.
     The tow truck appeared in her mirror and she could see the figure in the driver’s seat.  As it drew closer, she could see he wore a baseball hat.  And as it drove past her, she was disgusted to see the name on the door.  Campbell’s.
     “Crap,” she muttered, even as her heart began to race…in anger, not excitement.
     He climbed down from the tow truck and admired the silver Lexus.  He could see the blond hair behind the wheel and he couldn’t help but smile to himself. 
     The first time he’d met her, she had been rude and stuck up.  The second time he met her, she’d been spouting off military lingo into some high tech device to a hidden security team.  And when he’d misunderstood and thought she was on a bad date and had tried to step in to help, she had pulled her gun on him.
     He’d done his research after that, looking MaCall Securities Consulting up on the Internet.  He had sent the first bill to the company and had ribbed her about Joe MaCall footing her bill.  When her face came up on his computer, he was captivated by her cold beauty and astonished to learn she was none other than Taryn MaCall, Vice President of MSC and daughter—not mistress—of Joe MaCall. 
     At least he was prepared this time.
     Even through the heavy snowfall, he knew she was watching him and he anticipated her bitter reaction.  He headed her off with a charmingly crooked smile that often worked favorably where women were concerned.
     She rolled down her window.  “Why are you grinning like an idiot at me?” she greeted.