Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday's Guest - Frank Talaber answers questions #MFRWauthor #Plot #characters

1. Are you a panster or a plotter or perhaps a bit of both?

I’m definitely a panster. I’ll just sit down and start pounding out scene after scene as the book unfolds in my head. Most often in no particular order, with the end scene often one of the first I write. Although once I reach a certain point then I’ll start organizing the plot. Which then usually leaves me with more ideas on scenes to write. Also with the end scene written I usually end up writing backwards towards the beginning. I suppose you could call me a reverse-plotter/panster. Hey, did I just invent something new here?

2. Which comes first - characters or plot for you?

Usually plot. While some of my characters tend to get into and raise a lot of trouble that has to be dealt with, the plot will drive the book. I usually will think up a plot idea and ask my usual question, what if? Then coffee kicks in, after I feed the cats. Trust me, no writing is done in the morning unless the cats are fed first. But once I get an idea on what to write, then the nagging question, what if, begins to stalk me. I’ll answer more of that in the next question.

3. What are you working on now? Is this a book in a current series or something totally new?

A totally new series entitled; The Ainsworth Chronicles. Book One: The Joining. 
Carol Ainsworth is an undercover police officer acting as a day manager at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Two mafia mob families have gone there to supposedly have a wedding and join their families. Only the truth is they’ve gone there to start up a new division of the mobs business, one that would concentrate on importing illegal goods and drugs from the Far East using Victoria as its hub. Victoria just happens to be the most haunted city in all of Canada, with a lot of ghosts and hauntings. For some reason the ghosts are being disturbed and agitated by what is happening, as Carol soon discovers. Carol worked in a previous series with a Haida Shaman and knows there are a lot of woo-woo things we don’t understand and/or believe in. Because of this, she soon learns that she’s sensitive to ghosts and ghostly disturbances.
Carol runs into Jake Holden an American FBI agent, also investigating the case. They both have the hots for each other. Then enters handsome Luigi Cavallio one of the mafia head men, who really has the hots for Carol. 
Toss in Rebecca, a demented dominatrix, who’s been jilted by Jake and still wants him and elderly Agnes who is known as Ms. Teak from her stage career. She can read minds, as Carol soon finds out and talks intimately with a crystal skull named Cider. High Tea at the Empress Hotel just evolved from high class and social decorum to crazy on the edge of your seat thrills.

4. Do you have some kind of object or place that figures in most of your books? I use gems a lot, hospitals and caves.
Well, if ghosts and spirits count then yes. But for the most part I use the west coast of Canada, which is rich in native lore and legends.

5. Do you write everyday or just when the spirit hits?
Usually more when the spirit hits, if I’m heavy into a novel I’m working on, then usually everyday. But as my day job is being a service manager for a very busy auto shop, during the week my mind is usually very tired at the end of the day. I usually spend half an hour to an hour in the wee hours of the morning writing and on weekends.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday's Third Scene - Code Blue #MFRWauthor #Romantic suspense #medical

He stood in the shadows just beyond the brightly-lit Emergency Room entrance. She was here. A series of quickly inhaled breaths brought a feeling of euphoria. He caught his lower lip between his teeth and savored visions of what was to come.

He felt the softness of her skin and of his fists pummeling her body. Susan would be with Mommy and he would be free. There would be no one to scold him for doing the things that made him feel so powerful and so strong.

He slapped his jacket pocket and growled. No hard piece of metal pressed against his hip. Susan was here. What had he done? He had planned this event so carefully but somehow, he had forgotten a vital piece of the plan. He pulled off his gloves and shoved his hands into his pockets.

What would he do now? He rocked from his heels to his toes. It had to be tonight. He couldn't wait.
The glow of anticipation faded. He struggled to renew the fire.

Susan was like Mommy. Until he closed her eyes, he couldn't act. Before he had a chance to make those people pay for what they had done to Mommy she had to die. He knew she would tell on him.
"I'll never leave you. They'll have to kill me first."

"Mommy, don't leave me."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday Hooking Murder and Poisoned Tea #MFRWBookHooks #cozy mystery #Katherine Miller

Murder and Poisoned Tea (Mrs. Miller Mysteries)

The moment she hears his mastery of the organ, Katherine covets him as St. Stephen’s new Minister of Music. Handsome, charming and vastly talented, the women of the congregation adore him. Even Katherine is swayed by his manners and ability, But Roger not only brought beautiful music, he brings poisoned notes to the choir. Katherine seeks to find the secret of why he has changed churches yearly. She prays the discovery will be in time to prevent a tragedy.

The Mrs. Miller Mysteries series is a sheer delight. Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher would love Katherine Miller. I know I do. ~~ Writer Gail Roughton


On Groundhog day when Robespierre, my Maine Coon cat, jumped from his place on the window seat, one thought popped into my head.  Company.  Who?  After following him to the kitchen, I watched him push his bulky, brown and black body through the hinged opening at the bottom of the door.  Moments later I peered down the dimly lit stairwell.  Robespierre had sprawled in the center of the third step and blocked my visitor’s progress.
“Good grief, Katherine, I hope he’s not planning to bite me again.”  Edward Potter, pastor of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, glared at the cat.  His voice had risen to a high pitch.  “Whatever do you feed him?  He’s ever so much bigger than Bitsy.”

            The temptation to say my pet fed on pastors was strong.  I refrained and fought to control a grin that threatened to blossom.  Teasing Edward usually results in a lecture delivered in an indignant voice.

            With an air of disdain, Robiesperre stretched.  His back rippled in a way I envy.  Then he slithered around Edward.

            When Edward reached the top of the steps, he turned and peered at the cat.  “He’s becoming more brazen.”

            “Only toward selected guests.  He ignores most people.”  I turned my head and Edward brushed my cheek with his lips.

            Edward is a dapper little man with an ear for gossip and a penchant for turning even the slightest event into a fiesta or a disaster.  He’s astute about church politics.  The coffers at St. Stephen’s are filled through his ability to cosset and cajole the elderly population of the church, mainly wealthy women.  I partially fit the category, being over sixty-five, and while not rich, I’m at least comfortable.

            When he entered the sunlit kitchen, the expression on his face announced a problem.  He walked into the living room.  Unlike most of my guests, he considered chats at the kitchen table for commoners.  In the living room, he perched on the edge of a Queen Anne chair, purchased years ago before antiques became the rage.  In the past twenty years, stores selling every manner of old things have spread plague-like in the business district of the Hudson River village where I live.

            “You’re tense.  How about a cup of mint tea?”

            “Not all the tranquilizers in the world will calm me.  It’s a disaster, a complete and utter tragedy.”  His hands fluttered.  The words rolled out like a sermon promising hell and damnation.  “How will we maintain the quality of the services?  Easter will be a disaster.”

            My forehead wrinkled.  What in the world had stirred him into this state?  The last time had been when one of the altar boys had spilled the communion wine.  Had there been a fire at the church?  A flood?  A plague?  The strident fire whistles had been silent for days.  What had occurred?  Knowing a full and dramatic scene would develop, I wanted mint tea.

            “I’ll heat the water.  Then you can tell me about this tragedy.”  Mint tea is my all-purpose remedy, calming nerves and stimulating the mind, bringing alertness or sleep.

            I retreated to the kitchen, filled the kettle and stuffed a silver ball with an assortment of dried mint leaves.  While the water boiled, I assembled the pottery mugs, sugar and spoons on a wooden tray.

            “Why will Easter be a problem?”  I set the tray on a Duncan Phyfe table.

            “We may have to cancel the season.”  He patted his thinning light brown hair.

            I swallowed a laugh.  “How can we cancel one of the main reasons for St. Stephen’s existence?”

            “Are you making fun of me?”  His voice rose in pitch.  “I’m absolutely serious.”  He accepted a mug.  “Mary’s husband has been transferred.  It’s a disaster.”

            I mentally sorted through all the Marys in the congregation and tried to decide which one’s leaving would cause Edward to fall apart.  Who had triggered the word of the day?  On another level, the need to giggle soared.  Perched on the edge of the chair and holding a tea cup with both hands, Edward looked like a child.

            “There are about twenty Marys at St. Stephen’s.  Which one do you mean?”

            “Mary Hensen, our organist.  What will our services be like without the organ and the choir?  Katherine, you have to help us until we find a replacement.”

            Twenty years ago I resigned my position as organist at St. Stephen’s.  My husband’s sudden death had left me with a son to raise and enough money to cover three years of expenses.  Once I finished my nursing course, my Sunday schedule had passed out of my control.

          “Don’t you think I’m a bit old for the job?”

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday's Writer's Tip - Balancing Scene and Sequel #MFRWauthor #writingtips #Swain

As a writer, there needs to be a balance between scene and sequel. Too much scene and the characters bounce from one adventure into another without time for the reader to draw a breath. On the other hand too much sequel and the reader might fall asleep. The character can only obsess over a decision and react emotionally to what has happened before the boredom element sets in. You do not want to bore your reader, neither do you want him of her to feel breathless and wish the story could end so they can take a breath.

Blending scene and sequel are important to the flow of the story. They also perform different parts of the whole. If the pacing of your story seems to drag, a scene where action is the king needs to take place. If the story begins to become just one adventure after another give the characters time to reflect on what just happened and what that means to them and their quest for their goal.

How big should the scene be? There much to consider. Where does the scene fall in the story? If you open with a scene like a volcano erupting or a major battle unfolding, what kind of scene do you follow this with.  I look at each story like a rollercoaster. The ride takes you up and then down and up and down. That's what scene and sequel do but each must build a little higher than the last one.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #Poetry #am writing

Meander 1 - Poem

Autumn River

Lashing against rocks and earth
In aimless efforts to win free from a channeled life
Trying to erode entrapping banks
Before the coffin beneath its grave cloth
When your currents are calmed
And you are snared.

Meander 2 _ Visiting With a Friend - Not in person, though I wish we could see each other again. I've been reading the books of my friend Kat Attalla and enjoying every moment. Her stories make me laugh and also bring tears. She had such a gift for snappy dialogue and very macho heros who were also human like some macho heros aren't.  I wish there were more stories but walking this pathway on occasion brings memories of the days we spent talking about writing and life.

Meander 3 - Writing. I am still slogging through Sweet Tea. Hopefully soon this will be at an end. Also typing up another short story to share. This is one story that really sounds like a synopsis for a book. One never to be written since the world has changed especially with technology and all. 1968 the story was possible. Not today.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday's Book - Code Blue #MFRWauthor #Suspense #medical

Code Blue

In the medical suspense Code Blue by Janet Lane Walters, published by Books We Love and previously published as Obsessions, nurse Susan finds the body of the hospital’s “gossip queen” in the orthopedic storage room. She doesn’t realize this is the first of a series of murders involving her colleagues or that her life is in danger. She is a widow and is exploring a new romantic relationship that promises love but she fears the man she is falling for is as controlling as her dead husband. The arrival of courtship gifts, at first, seen as innocuous soon takes on a sinister note.


This book kept me on edge from the first page to the last. Several times I just 'knew' I'd figured out who the killer was, but each time, there was a bit of doubt there until the very last paragraph! I highly recommend this book. 4 Stars (Excellent!)"--Tracie's Book Reviews by Kathy's Faves and Raves 

"A series of murders, suspense, action, a tad of love makes OBSESSIONS an intriguing tale designed to mystify your mind. If you love mysteries, you'll love Janet Lane Walters newest release. 4 Stars!"--Just Views 

"Fast-paced mainstream novel ... Walters plots carefully, each scene constructed to perfection. For readers who enjoy being terrified, this is an author to turn to for entertainment. She tells all, while managing to create paranoia among the characters."--Affaire de Coeur

on January 16, 2013
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on September 24, 2012
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on April 25, 2013
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on December 26, 2012
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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs featuring Books by Rosemary Morris #MFRWauthor #historical romance #regency romance

Yvonne Lady of Cassio

When Yvonne and Elizabeth, daughters of ruthless Simon Lovage, Earl of Cassio, are born under the same star to different mothers, no one could have foretold their lives would be irrevocably entangled.
Against the background of Edward II’s turbulent reign in the fourteenth century, Yvonne, Lady of Cassio, contains imaginary and historical characters.
It is said the past is a foreign country in which things were done differently. Nevertheless, although that is true of attitudes, such as those towards women and children, our ancestors were also prompted by ambition, anger, greed, jealousy, humanity, duty, loyalty, unselfishness and love.
From early childhood, despite those who love her and want to protect her, Yvonne is forced to face difficult economic, personal and political circumstances, during a long, often bitter struggle.

Tangled Love

Tangled Love is the story of two great estates. The throne has been usurped by James II’s daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. In 1693, loyal to his oath of allegiance, ten- year-old Richelda’s father must follow James to France.

Before her father leaves, he gives her a ruby ring she will treasure and wear on a chain round her neck. In return Richelda swears an oath to try to regain their ancestral home, Field House.

By the age of eighteen, Richelda’s beloved parents are dead. She believes her privileged life is over. At home in dilapidated Belmont House, her only companions are her mother’s old nurse and her devoted dog, Puck. Clad in old clothes she dreams of elegant gowns and trusts her childhood friend, a poor parson’s son, who promised to marry her.

Richelda’s wealthy aunt takes her to London and arranges her marriage to Viscount Chesney, the new owner of Field House, where it is rumoured there is treasure. If she finds it Richelda hopes to ease their lives. However, while trying to find it her life is in danger.

Sunday’s Child

Georgianne Whitley’s beloved father and brothers died in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte. While she is grieving for them, she must deal with her unpredictable mother’s sorrow, and her younger sisters’ situation caused by it.
Georgianne’s problems increase when the arrogant, wealthy but elderly Earl of Pennington, proposes marriage to her for the sole purpose of being provided with an heir. At first, she is tempted by his proposal, but something is not quite right about him. She rejects him not suspecting it will lead to unwelcome repercussions.
Once, Georgianne had wanted to marry an army officer. Now, she decides never to marry ‘a military man’ for fear he will be killed on the battlefield. However, Georgianne still dreams of a happy marriage before unexpected violence forces her to relinquish the chance to participate in a London Season sponsored by her aunt.
Shocked and in pain, Georgianne goes to the inn where her cousin Sarah’s step-brother, Major Tarrant, is staying, while waiting for the blacksmith to return to the village and shoe his horse. Recently, she has been reacquainted with Tarrant—whom she knew when in the nursery—at the vicarage where Sarah lives with her husband Reverend Stanton.
The war in the Iberian Peninsula is nearly at an end so, after his older brother’s death, Tarrant, who was wounded, returns to England where his father asks him to marry and produce an heir.
To please his father, Tarrant agrees to marry, but due to a personal tragedy he has decided never to father a child.
When Georgianne, arrives at the inn, quixotic Tarrant sympathises with her unhappy situation. Moreover, he is shocked by the unforgivably brutal treatment she has suffered.
Full of admiration for her beauty and courage Tarrant decides to help Georgianne.

Rosemary Morris’s Romantic Historical Fact Fiction is published by Books We Love. Her novels are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday's Guest - Rosemary Morris #MFRWauthor #romanceregency #historical

 Question. Do you write a single genre or do your fingers flow over the keys creating tales in many forms?
Do your reading choices reflect your writing choices?
Are there genres you wouldn’t attempt?

Answer. I only write Romantic Historical Fact Fiction. Writing, researching and my interest in history keeps me too busy to write in other genres. Reading historical non-fiction inspires me. I am reading Set in A Silver Sea, Volume One, A History of the British People, by Arthur Bryant and intend to read Volumes 2 and 3. His description of the Dark Ages and the successive invasions of Britain has stirred my imagination.

I wouldn’t attempt erotica or novels with explicit sexual content. I might write contemporary short stories but not novels.

 Question. Heroes. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or plain imagination create the man you want every reader to love? Do they come before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?

Answer. Imagination creates the heroes in my novels but their lives, not their appearance or character, are based, are influenced by biographies.  Sometimes they evolve in unexpected ways. For example, I dreamt about a young man called Justin who lived in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, 1702-1714, who asked me to take him shopping at The Royal Exchange in a novel. If he is lucky he might be the hero in a future novel.

The themes for my novels are derived from reading historical non-fiction.

I choose a name appropriate for the era. Next, I create him by writing a detailed character profile, so thorough that I get to know him as well as I know a close family member.

Question. Heroines. How do you find them? Do pictures, real life or imagination create the woman you want the reader to root for? Do they appear before the plot or after you have the idea for the story?

Answer. My heroines are products of my imagination dependent on the eras in which they lived. I don’t write about 21st century women dressed in costume with 21st century attitudes. I read biographies, base my imaginary heroines on them and decide on the theme. Next, I write a detailed character profile. From this the plot emerges. Illustrations and painting help with descriptions of hair styles and costumes as well as books on these subjects.

Question.  Villains or villainesses or an antagonist, since they don’t always have to be the bad guy or girl. They can be a person opposed to the hero’s or heroine’s obtaining their goal. How do you choose one? How do you make them human?

Answer. They evolve according to the plot and are used as devices to create conflict. To avoid stereotypes, I give them a redeeming quality, love for someone or a pet or a moral boundary they would not cross. For example, in Sunday’s Child, the villain kidnaps a little girl but he would not cause her bodily harm.

Question. What is your latest release? Who is the hero, heroine and or the villain?

Answer. My latest release is Yvonne, Lady of Cassio, set in the reign of Edward II which begins when Yvonne, daughter of Simon, Earl of Cassio is born. This novel has many twists and turns so I won’t reveal the hero and the villain.

Question. What are you working on now?

Answer. I have finished Wednesday’s Child, Heroines Born on Different Days of the Week, Book Four and am writing Thursday’s Child, Book Five, also set in the popular Regency era. It is unnecessary to read Sunday’s, Monday’s and Tuesday’s Child to follow the stories, each of which have strong themes modern day readers can sympathise with. For example, the heroine in my Regency novel, False Pretences is desperate to find out who her parents are.

Question. How can people find you?

Answer. On my website, at Books We Love, my publisher’s website and Facebook.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday's First and Second Scenes - Romancing the Nurse #MFRWauthor #Medicalromance #

"How long are you going to leave her with me, Joey?" Ginny Barr stood in the apartment doorway and watched her younger brother's retreat to the stairs. She wrinkled her nose against the acrid and musty odors that assaulted her. As usual, the bulb at the head of the stairs was out. Her brother vanished into the shadows.

"A month, maybe two."

"Are you in trouble?"

"These past couple of weeks have been rough," he said. "I really loved Pookie, you know. I need to get my head straight."

She wanted to believe him. He sounded like he meant his words, but their relationship was studded with broken promises. "I'll stay clear of the gangs." He hadn't. "No boozing for me. Look at Mommy." He had. "College will be a breeze. I'll make my mark just like you did." Then he'd dropped out.

At one time, Ginny had believed he would be the second of the Barr kids to escape the spiral of poverty. Maybe this time, he would keep his promise.

After closing the door, she slid the dead bolt home. Her plans for the evening had included an hour's work on the first of her Master's projects. Joey's arrival with his infant daughter had shot down that idea.

Then, before he'd told her why he wanted to leave his baby with her, Annette had arrived. Joey wasn't her friend's favorite person.

For several minutes, the temperature in the apartment had soared above the already abnormal September high. The sharp words between the pair had ended Ginny's chance of learning the entire story behind her brother's flight and his decision to leave his daughter behind. Part of her didn't want to know.

"What kind of name is Pookie?" Annette stroked the baby's light mocha skin with her dark brown finger.

Ginny shrugged. "A pet name. That's all he ever called his wife."

"Were they married?"

"He said they were."

"Ever meet her?"
"No." Ginny lifted Manda to her shoulder and rubbed the baby's cheek with hers.

"What's wrong with you knowing the girl's name? He afraid you're going to approach the grandparents?"

"You heard what he said. They forbade her to see him and when they learned she was pregnant, they tossed her out. They refused to have anything to do with a biracial grandchild. Guess they didn't think Joey was good enough."

"I don't think he's good enough and I never met the girl. You're blind and deaf where that boy's concerned." Annette held up her hand. "Girl, you're crazy taking this on. Don't you have enough on your plate with Honor, work at the hospital and a double Master's program? You'll wear yourself to the bone and you ain't got that far to go."

Ginny fumbled in the brown bag Joey had left beside the lumpy gray couch. She pulled out a bottle. When she looked up, she saw concern in her friend's dark eyes. "You heard him. Just a couple of months. I have to trust him."

"Sure you do ... not. That's like believing I'll be elected president next November. What's wrong with him taking care of his own kid?"

"He's young. He's a guy. What does he know about raising a child?"

Annette straightened. "I'm going to pretend those words never came out of your mouth. What's wrong with a guy raising a child? He sure helped make her. I know he's your baby brother and you've always cleaned up his messes. Don't you think it's time he stood on his own?"

Ginny sighed. "And if I didn't take Manda, he was going to ask Mommy to keep her."

Annette laughed. "He got you again. That boy sure knows how to twist your knobs. Your mother would have 'bout as much care for the baby as her other grandmother. You know how your mother is?"

Ginny nodded and headed to the kitchen. "You're right."

"I'll feed her. Get ready for work."

"Are you sure you want to stay tonight? I could cancel. This is an extra shift."

Annette reached into the bag. "One pack of diapers, four cans of formula, three more bottles, one battered bear, two sleepers. Guess I know where the extra bucks are going. Girl, we got to stick together or we're going to fall apart."


Annette cradled the baby in her arms. "Mama's not expecting me home tonight. Her sewing circle is meeting. I can't stand being in that apartment while the ladies are sewing and talking."

Ginny laughed. "They're working on my quilt. Guess I'll go to work." She headed for the bedroom.
"Honor's sure going to get a surprise in the morning. How are we going to explain to that child where babies come from? She's going to be thinking the stork came while she was sleeping."

"You'll think of a way," Ginny said.

She stopped beside one of the twin beds in the small bedroom and looked at her sleeping daughter. A laugh caught in her throat. The heat and humidity of the day remained trapped in the room. The sheet trailed on the floor. Honor's nightgown hung over the bottom rail of the iron bed frame, but covering her feet were a pair of red socks. Ginny touched her daughter's warm brown skin. No matter how hot the weather, Honor always wore socks to bed.

"Baby, I love you," she whispered and headed to the bathroom.

As the tepid water washed over her, she thought about her friend's concern. Two children. Ginny sighed. Manda was her niece. Even if Joey left his daughter forever, Ginny vowed Manda would have love and learn to take pride in who she was.

Chapter One
Two years later

Ginny stepped from the shower and briskly dried herself. The hot water had washed away the remnants of sleep, but a knot of anticipation remained coiled in her stomach. As she dressed in white scrubs, the feeling that her life was about to take another turn persisted.

Not now, she thought. Not when her life rolled smoothly along the road she'd mapped at eighteen.
At nineteen, she had encountered the first roadblock. Then two years later, she had sped around a corner and met a barrier she had deftly steered around. Pride straightened her spine. This time, she'd avoid a detour, but first, she had to discover why she felt edgy.

She smoothed the hand-made blue and green quilt that covered the large brass bed and shoved a small purse in her pocket. Pride was the driving force of her life. Pride in who she was and what she'd accomplished made her strong. She couldn't allow vague feelings to weaken her resolve.

Before heading downstairs, she paused in the doorway of the girls' room. Light cast by the early morning sun shone through the orange, yellow and brown print curtains. The September day promised to be beautiful.

Two year old Manda slept face down with her rear in the air. She clutched the well-worn teddy bear Ginny had found in the paper bag Joey had left.

Ginny chuckled. Eight year old Honor, clad in a short nightie and blue socks, as always, had pushed her covers on the floor. Ginny blew a pair of kisses and pushed away a desire to grab the girls and run.

Foolishness, she thought. She slid her hand along the smooth wood of the banister and walked downstairs. She had no reason to worry, not with her position as Patient Care Coordinator of the orthopedic unit at Hudson View General Hospital.

Though there were ruts to be smoothed, she enjoyed the challenge. The job had allowed her to fulfill so many of her dreams. Escape from the city and the means to raise the girls in a safer environment. The chance to be a home owner instead of a tenant in a fourth floor walk-up. The opportunity to implement the educational program for nurses and patients she had developed.

"Girl, if you don't get the lead out, we're going to be late." Annette stood beside the stairs.

Ginny swallowed a gasp. "Like the hair but next time, tip the ends with bells. I could use a warning." The aroma of coffee filtered into the hall. "Why are you so early?"

"Your alarm broke, right? Mama and I've been here a good twenty minutes. It's twenty-five to seven."

"I got caught up in my thoughts." Ginny followed her friend to the kitchen.

"You do too much of that. Doesn't pay to plan every breath you take."

Ginny wasn't sure Annette was right. Without plans, life would be chaotic. Sure surprises happened, but if the possibilities weren't considered, a person could be thrown off balance by events.
She entered the kitchen and smiled at Miss Nellie. "Good morning."

Black hair, liberally sprinkled with white, framed the older woman's round face. "Morning." She handed Ginny a glass of juice and a slice of toast. "No sense making a proper breakfast when you don't get down here on time. Child, you could stand a bit of fattening up."

"How come you never say that to me." Annette headed to the door.

"Honey, I can't remember you ever missing a meal." Miss Nellie pointed to Ginny. "Eat."

"Yes, ma'am." Ginny chewed the toast and washed it down with juice. "Honor's lunch money's on the table."

Miss Nellie's hands rested on her plump hips. "How are you going to be sure that child's getting the proper nourishing? She's nothing but skin and bones."

Annette grinned. "Just like her mama." She opened the door. "Let's go, boss lady. Maybe you can stroll in late, but I've got a date with a time clock."

Ginny closed the door and followed her friend across the yard. How fortunate she'd been to find a duplex and that there'd been an opening at Hudson View for Annette. Ginny slid behind the wheel and started the ancient van.

"What's got you acting like you're crawling across a bed of nails?" Annette asked.

Ginny backed into the street. "Just a feeling things are about to fall apart, You know what happened the other times I've felt this way?"

"Nate and Joey."

Ginny thought of the night she'd told Honor's father about the pregnancy. Her joy had shattered when he'd informed her he was married and his wife expected his first child in seven months. Ginny hadn't known he was married. She'd believed his declaration. His desertion had nearly wrecked her plans to escape the slums.

"You survived the rat and have a daughter who's beautiful inside and out," Annette said. "You've given your niece a wonderful home and lots of love."

"You're right, but ..."

"Don't go looking for trouble. Who knows, the change might be a good one." Annette leaned back in the seat. "Dr. Marshall's son arrives today."

"What does that have to do with me?"

"Just changing the subject before you worry yourself gray. What's the scoop on the good doctor's plans? The rumor mills are grinding a new story a minute."

"When I stopped by yesterday, he said he'd be released soon, but he played dumb when I asked him when he'd be back to work."

"Let's hope he doesn't retire. He's the glue that holds that bunch of prima donna orthopods together."

Ginny had a hard time imagining the blue-eyed Chief of Orthopedics as a blob of glue. He was more like a teddy bear ... or a father. Something she'd never known.

"The surgeons aren't that bad...most of them."

"Some are okay, but what about Simon?" Annette asked.

Ginny nodded. "You're right. Greg Simon has an attitude problem."

"Maybe young Dr. Marshall will be as nice as his dad."

"We can only hope." Ginny stopped at the parking lot gate and inserted her card. "Except he's fresh out of a residency at 'Old Joints and Bones' and you know how those guys are. I think they have a course titled 'Disdain and Arrogance ... How to Project the Proper Hauteur."

Annette laughed. The beads on her multitude of braids clicked together. "Girl, you got to stop prying under every rock looking for trouble. There are enough problems floating around."

Ginny pulled the van into a parking space. "I believe in looking ahead." She and Annette joined the scattered groups of nurses headed to the red brick, T-shaped building.

Inside, Annette ducked into the hall where the time clocks were kept. Ginny continued to the elevator. Before she reached her office on the third floor, she stopped in the nurses' lounge for a cup of coffee. In her office, she sat at the gray metal desk and stared through the window that provided a view of the hall. Today was one of the times she wished her office looked out to the world so she could see the sky and sunshine.

Stop fussing and get to work, she told herself. Quickly, she sorted through the notes in the wire basket on the corner of the desk and stuffed the requests for days off in a folder. She read the report of an incident that had occurred on Saturday and made a note to thank Kathy Grant. Her vigilance had probably saved the hospital from a lawsuit.

Rounds, she thought. She rose and paused in the office doorway to wait until the couple ahead of her turned the corner. This morning, she couldn't face Dr. Greg Simon's sneering condemnation or Lisa Kingsley's rudeness. The dark-haired surgeon and the blonde nurse were a perfect match, at least in their attitudes.

Once the pair vanished, Ginny headed to day surgery. Of the seven patients scheduled for orthopedic procedures, two had arrived and were being prepared for surgery.

"Hey, Ginny," a red-haired nurse called. "Any news about Dr. Marshall?"

"Which one?" another woman asked.

"The father. The son's an unknown."

How true, Ginny thought. She reported her latest visit and received reactions similar to Annette's.
A short time later, Ginny strode to the acute care area where they admitted fresh post-ops and those patients needing special care. She stopped at the desk and studied the patient board.

Two of the nurses stopped talking. Lisa Kingsley smiled, but the smile wasn't friendly. Ginny looked for Betty Tawser, the third member of the trio who opposed every change on the unit.

With a nod to Lisa, Ginny left the desk and made patient rounds. When she finished, she starred the names of several patients who were stable enough to move if needed to make room for incoming patients from ER, ICU or the OR.

This done, she made rounds on the rehabilitation section of the unit and called Admitting. For the first time in weeks, there was no overflow of orthopedic patients on any of the medical or surgical units.

Wait until winter, she thought. But by that time, the nurses would have completed the educational program and the efficiency of the unit would improve.

She headed to her office. Her life was on schedule, so why was the knot of anticipation expanding?
A rap on the window broke into her reverie. A grinning Annette peered through the glass. "Girl, quit your dawdling. Young Dr. Marshall has arrived." She pressed a hand to her chest. "He's a man for every woman's fantasy."

Ginny shook her head. She pictured the older Dr. Marshall, subtracted years and added hair. Pleasant. Maybe cute, but hardly fantasy material. She rose. "I'm on my way. Wouldn't want him to accuse me of ignoring him."

"Won't happen. He seems as nice as his dad. Run, don't walk. Rescue him before Val drowns him in sweetness."

Ginny frowned. Val ... Sweet ... impossible. The unit's secretary was a mistress of the rude put-down.
When Ginny turned the corner, she stopped short. A barely contained urge to run in the opposite direction caused her to approach the desk with slow, measured steps. Young Dr. Marshall was tall, handsome ... and black. He was also the resident who two years ago had questioned her nursing judgment. Though she had been vindicated a patient had suffered needless pain.

Her hands curled into fists. Dr. Marshall laughed at something Val said and then turned to Lisa. The knot in Ginny's abdomen swelled into her chest. No way, she thought. She wouldn't allow this man or anyone to detour her from her chosen road. She plastered a smile on her face that she knew didn't match the hostility she felt.

"Dr. Marshall, I'm Ms. Barr, Patient Care Coordinator for the unit. Welcome to Hudson View."

Lisa strolled away. "See you around, Dr. Marshall. You'll soon discover Hudson View is nothing like the University for interesting and exciting cases."

Ginny stiffened. Why did Lisa constantly bad mouth the hospital? If she felt bored, she should have stayed at the University.

A slow smile curved Dr. Marshall's lips. His dark brown eyes appraised Ginny with the intensity of a scientist peering through a microscope. He held out a hand. She resisted the desire to thrust her hands behind her back. Instead, she held her arms stiffly at her sides.

"Ms. Barr, Blake Marshall. My father speaks highly of you." He rested the hand she had refused to touch on the counter that separated the nurses' station from the hall.

"Then I must thank him. He has been eagerly awaiting your arrival."

She held back a groan. Stilted conversation had never been her forte, but this morning and with this man, she'd become an expert. The knot edged into her throat. She gulped a breath. Why did the air between them smell of ozone as though a bolt of lightning had struck nearby?

She saw a question in his eyes and wondered if he remembered the night they'd met. She had called him twice and the third time had demanded he come to assess a patient. She would never forget because that had been the night Joey had left Manda. Angry thoughts swept her into the past.

"I insist you come immediately." She gripped the phone and listened to the sleep-fogged voice question her about the patient. "I won't hesitate to go over your head. It's been a half hour since my last call and an hour since the first. The patient's pain is constant and excruciating. I've elevated his leg and applied ice. A possible compartment syndrome is no joke."

Five minutes later, he strode into the patient's room. His rumpled, green scrubs didn't disguise his muscular physique. His dark eyes had flashed with anger. He eyed her nametag. "An agency nurse. What do you know about orthopedics?"

She bit back an angry response. She could have told him she had worked in orthopedics for five years and that in three semesters, she would have a Masters as a nurse practitioner with a focus on orthopedics. But she wouldn't. His question didn't deserve an answer."

"Just check the patient," she said.

Once he examined the young man's leg and discovered she'd been right, she had expected an apology. He'd given none, just split the cast, made a note on the chart and strode away.

Her memory of the past faded. She couldn't allow that incident to influence her. "Would you like a tour of the unit? The renovations were completed in May just before I took over."

"That would be my pleasure."

His voice reminded her of velvet, smooth, lush and sensual. She swallowed and headed for day surgery. "Your father has an arthroscopy on the schedule. I thought you might be involved."
Was that her voice? The tight, clipped tones sounded foreign to her ears.

"Greg took the case. As of tomorrow, I'll be taking Dad's cases until he returns."

"Don't you intend to join the practice?"

He shrugged. "I'm not sure of my plans."

The hint of arrogance in his voice was no surprise, but the anger it stirred shocked her. The senior Dr. Marshall had spoken of his son's return with eagerness and pride. "Your father will be disappointed if you leave."

"Not for long. Dad's always encouraged me to pursue my own goals."

"How fortunate for you, but don't you think ..." She stopped herself. Arguing would do no good. Didn't he think he owed his father anything?

As they passed through the rehab section, she spotted Annette and Mike, the orthopedic orderly. Annette grinned.
It's not what you think, Ginny wanted to shout. This man pushed her buttons and produced discordant emotions. She glanced at him. He raised an eyebrow. Her cheeks burned.
* *