Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Dancing with Fireflies releases one week from today!
I'm so excited about the 2nd book in the Chapel Springs series. Fireflies
picks up right where Barefoot Summer
left off. I can't wait till it hits the shelves. In the meantime here's the 1st chapter to wet your appetite. :-)
Jade’s foot eased off the gas as she passed the
marina, not because the speed limit had changed but because her heart had begun
beating up into her throat.
She hadn’t expected to see Chapel Springs,
Indiana for a long time—it had barely been a year—a year of broken dreams. But
then sometimes life took unexpected turns.
The evening sun sparkled on the Ohio River, the
pink clouds brightening the water’s surface. Spring has wakened the valley,
greening the hills and unfurling leaf buds on the trees.
Jade stopped at a light and put down her
window, inhaling the fresh scent of a Midwestern spring: rain, river, and pine.
Tourists had yet to arrive, and the parallel parking slots on Main Street were
empty, the storefronts locked up for the night.
Nothing had changed. Same brick storefronts, sun-faded
canopies, and ancient streetlamps. On the corner, the Rialto theater’s lights
kicked on, chasing each other in an endless rectangle. The board listed two
movies that had premiered in Chicago months ago.
When the light changed, she pressed the
accelerator. Her car gave a reluctant start. She followed the road through town
and around a corner that separated her from the river. Her mouth dried as she
approached the turn toward her parents’ farm.
The fields would be plowed by now, the corn in
the ground. Her mom and dad would be snuggled on the couch watching some old
black-and-white movie. She suddenly regretted her decision to surprise them.
Her heart thumped heavily against her ribs. She
squeezed the steering wheel, her rings cutting into her thumbs. Her foot never found the brake, and she
passed the turn, continuing on the winding road.
Ahead on the left, she saw the cement drive.
Lined with landscape lighting and winding up a wooded knoll, it was hard to
She headed into the drive and mounted the hill,
her pea-green Ford struggling with the effort. Twilight was thick under the
canopies of ancient trees. The crickets and cicadas had already begun their
She pressed on, following the lane down the
backside of the hill, sloping toward the river. Ahead the shingled boathouse
was silhouetted against the darkening sky. A lone light shone from the upstairs
window through what looked like a thin sheet.
She put her car in park and turned off the
ignition. She hadn’t been here for years. Daniel was always at her parents’ house
or hanging around the coffeehouse with his laptop and a ready handshake.
She got out of the car and pushed the door
shut, its loud squeak echoing across the water. She stepped onto the dock and followed the stairs that ran
alongside the building, suddenly wondering if he’d be upset. She hadn’t exactly
kept in touch.
When she reached the top, she rapped her
knuckles on the pine door and waited. Below her, the water rippled against the
shore and against the dock. The wind kicked up, and Daniel’s boat bumped the
wood piling. She wondered if he still took it out on the river when he needed
to get away.
The door opened, and there he was. He froze at
the sight of her, his lips parting, his blue, blue eyes widening. If she hadn’t
been so glad to see him, she would’ve laughed.
“Jade? What are you doing here?”
She walked into his arms and felt his shock
ease as he enveloped her with his solid frame. She already had a big brother,
but Daniel filled a spot in her heart she hadn’t known existed until Ryan brought
him home when they were all still kids.
She heard a voice that belonged to neither of
them and pulled away. It was coming from the phone in his hand.
He put it to his ear, stepping aside to let
Jade go inside. “I have to go, Mom. I’ll call you later.” He sighed, not
following through. “I guess. I know.” He grabbed a scrap of paper and jotted
down a phone number. “Fine. Yes, I’ll call her. Bye, Mom.”
He pocketed the phone and turned to her. He
seemed taller and broader. His hair was longer, his bangs dipping down nearly
to his eyes—very un-mayorlike. It looked good on him though.
“Sorry to just drop in. It’s so good to see
She watched his blue eyes go from warm to cool
in the space of ten seconds. He’d always had the most mesmerizing eyes.
He crossed his arms. “I’m kind of busy.”
She escaped his gaze, scanning the room. A lamp
glowed by a leather recliner. His open laptop was perched on the end table
along with a bunch of boring-looking forms.
She wiped her palms on her gypsy skirt and
flipped her braid over her shoulder. “I’m sorry I didn’t call.”
“I know I’m not your real brother, but—”
She frowned. “Stop that.”
“—a phone call isn’t asking much. A letter, a
postcard, a text—”
“You’re right.” She’d hurt him. And he probably
wasn’t the only one. “I’m sorry. Things weren’t what I expected in Chicago.”
That was the last thing she wanted to talk
about. She followed him into the living room, passing a spare room that was
filled with barbells and weights. A heavy-duty treadmill stood in the corner,
the panel lit with orange numbers. She caught a whiff of sweat and ambition.
Daniel picked up the remote control, and
blackness swallowed the political talk show. Silence crept in, filling the room
He studied her until she felt like an amoeba
under a microscope.
“Are you just here for the wedding?” he asked
An emotion flickered in his eyes, but he turned
and headed into his galley kitchen before she could decipher it.
The wedding was less than a month away. Her sister
Madison and Beckett O’Reilly. Jade’s heart sank at the thought of facing her
soon-to-be brother-in-law. The whole secret admirer thing had been one big embarrassment—the
reason she’d left. Or the last straw anyway. Deep down she’d been yearning for
a fresh start for years.
Jade had thought Beckett had sent her notes and
flowers. Thought he’d wanted her. But it had been Madison he’d wanted all
along. And now Jade was arriving home just in time for their wedding.
Daniel opened the fridge, pulled out a jug of
tea and poured it into a glass. He added two heaping spoonfuls of sugar and
brought it to her.
He gestured toward the brown leather sofa. “Have
“Thanks.” She took down half the glass, then set
it on the front section of the Chapel
Springs Gazette. Her eyes wandered the room and settled on the curtains—a
white sheet hanging haphazardly over a curtain rod.
“Your folks didn’t tell me you were coming.”
“They didn’t know. Still don’t. This is my
She shrugged. “Impulse.” She was beginning to
think it had been a bad one. She’d already insulted Daniel by ignoring him for
a year. Now she was going to beg a favor?
She was selfish and thoughtless. She should’ve
gone to her parents’ or Madison’s. She’d at least spared them a few phone calls
over the past year. She took another sip of her tea, wishing it were ginger
Daniel cocked his head. “What can I do for you,
She hated that he’d guessed right. She didn’t
want to dive into that yet. She remembered the phone call she’d interrupted.
“How are your parents? That was your mom on the
He gave her a look—I know what you’re doing—but settled back in the chair and went
along. “They’re fine. Mom’s found my perfect match again and is determined to
set me up when I go there next weekend.”
“There” was Washington, DC. Daniel’s dad was an
Indiana senator. If his parents had anything to say about it, Daniel would one
day move into national politics too. At present they settled for town mayor, a
post his grandfather had held for sixteen years, but they probably wouldn’t be
satisfied until he occupied the White House.
She gave him a weary smile. “Maybe she is your
perfect match. Mom knows best and all that.”
He looked away. Closed his laptop.
“Catch me up on you,” she said.
He steepled his hands, resting his chin on his
fingertips as he filled her in. Still a volunteer fireman. His job was keeping him
busy. Grandma Dawson was having trouble keeping up with her social obligations
and charity work.
“And you, Jade?” he asked when he was finished.
“What’s going on with you?”
She cleared her throat, thinking of the
stressful four weeks she’d just endured. Why did it always seem her life was
spinning out of control?
She wasn’t going there tonight. “I need a job,
Daniel.” It was the least of the favors, the easiest one to start with.
“Food . . . shelter . . . clothing . . .”
“That’s not what I mean.” His blue eyes were
like lasers, seeing too much, too deeply.
She looked away, twisting the top ring on her
middle finger. “I’m back to stay.”
She was sure her family had kept him in the loop
while she’d been gone. She’d been living with her best friend, working at a
café, playing her guitar at a trendy coffee shop.
And now she was home. Jobless.
“Don’t really want to get into it.”
Daniel popped to his feet and headed to the
kitchen again. He emptied the carafe into a mug and took a sip, his white dress
shirt stretching across his shoulders at the motion. The sleeves were rolled up
at the cuff, exposing sturdy forearms.
“I thought you might have the inside scoop on
A few seconds later he turned, leaned against
the counter. “You could probably get your spot back at the coffee shop. Including
your guitar gig. The guy who took your place doesn’t compare.” His lips turned
up before he took another sip.
His smile. That’s what had been missing. She
wondered if things were as okay with him as he’d said. Or maybe he was more
ticked at her than he let on.
The thought of smelling coffee all day made her
stomach turn. “I need more than minimum wage. I’m hoping to crash with Madison
until the wedding, but after that . . . ”
“Don’t want to horn in on the newlyweds?”
“Exactly. And I refuse to be one of those
twentysomethings eating Cheetos all day in her parents’ basement.”
“So can you help me?” Jade’s eyebrows rose, disappearing
under her dark bangs.
He’d forgotten the magnetic pull of her green
eyes. There was something different about her face, though. He studied it,
trying to solve the mystery. Same almond-shaped eyes that hitched up at the
corners. Same straight, button-tipped nose. Same full lips that so rarely
stretched into a smile, he felt like a hero when he made it happen.
“What about your music?” he asked.
She sat up straighter, lifting her dimpled chin.
Her rings clicked together as she laced her fingers. “It’s time to grow up. I
need a real job.”
Never thought he’d hear those words come from
Jade’s mouth. She lived and breathed her music. It had been that way since he’d
taught her some basic guitar chords her freshman year. She’d plucked away for
hours a day and passed him up within a few months. She’d written songs through
high school and given lessons to every friend who showed an interest. By the
time she left she’d built a strong base of students.
What happened in Chicago? She’d always marched to
the beat of her own drum. He remembered the first time he’d seen her, spinning
in circles in the McKinleys darkened backyard, her skirt swirling around her
“What are you doing?” he’d asked, one part
scoffing, one part fascinated.
“Dancing with the fireflies,” she’d said. “Wanna
Jade had always done her own thing. But she
seemed different now. Like she’d lost her spark. She hadn’t really been the
same since Aaron’s death.
He blinked the memory away. “I’ll check around.
See what I can find.”
“I appreciate it.” She finished her tea and
stood, her long dark braid slipping over shoulder. “I should let you get back
Daniel followed her to the door, wondering why
she’d stopped at his place first. Just the job? Unlikely. There was something
she wasn’t saying, but he knew enough not to press her.
“The family will be glad to have you home,” he
said as they reached the door.
She turned and leaned in for a shoulder hug
that he longed to make more of. Instead he patted her on the back the way he
“It’s good to see you again,” she said.
“You too, Squirt,” he added for good measure.
And then she was slipping out his door, down
the steps, and into her car. Slipping back into his life as easily as she’d
slipped into his heart.
posted at 9:50 AM
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Meridith Ward has crafted a carefully ordered life to make up for the chaos that plagued her childhood years.
But one phone call upsets all that. Her father who abandoned her is dead, and she's been named the sole guardian of his other three children. She nervously heads to Nantucket to care for the siblings she's never met with plans to stay until their uncle returns from his trip before relinquishing guardianship to him.
She arrives to find the children living in Summer House, a Bed & Breakfast that's falling apart around them. Meridith wants to move on as soon as possible, but the inn will never sell in its dilapidated condition. Then an itinerant handyman, Jake, shows up with an offer she can't refuse.
Much like the powerful ocean just a short walk from her deck, Jake appeals to Meridith. But she senses he is also capable of pulling her under in a heartbeat. What if the thing she fears the most is exactly what she needs? Can she trust God with the details and relish the adventure?
posted at 9:07 AM
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
|Releasing March 11, 2014|
They've won an early copy of "Dancing with Fireflies" and have been notified.
posted at 11:23 AM
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Be one of the first to read "Dancing with Fireflies", book 2 of the Chapel Springs Series!
To be entered, leave a comment with your email address. US addresses only. Winner announced tomorrow (Feb 19).
posted at 6:56 AM
Monday, February 10, 2014
We Smitten gals have a couple fun things coming up! We'll be hosting a facebook party on February 20th. There will be lots of giveaways--including a Kindle Fire--trivia, Q&A and more! Don't miss it.
Enter to win here!
Also, there will be 100 book club brunches gathering on March 22 to discuss "Smitten Book Club". Sign up to host one and have a chance to win 1 of 3 book club kits! Click on the link below for more details:
Sign up to host a brunch!
posted at 4:48 PM
Saturday, February 08, 2014
Well, girls, you know that free book I found out about just last night, Last Resort? It has apparently already been changed, and is no longer free. Does that happen to anyone else? No one tells you what they're doing with your book, and then when you find out about it and try to catch up, they change? Sigh. Sorry for the alert.
posted at 11:22 AM
Friday, February 07, 2014
Hey girls, I was checking on my books with Amazon and found that Last Resort is free on Kindle tonight. If you haven't read that title yet, you might still find it for free. Check it out!
posted at 11:56 PM