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#MFRWHooks for **NEW BEGINNINGS** 08/02/2017 #bookpromo #amreading #MFRWOrg


I hope you get hooked by this Snippet

Today’s hook

drive through Hobart was mostly quiet as Sophie and Mia took in the scenery. It was certainly a hilly place, and Mt. Wellington with its 1270 meters in height, seemed to overlook every little part of this waterfront capital. It was definitely a different atmosphere from Sydney. They drove along the busy streets and, considering how small the town was, the car ride seemed to last forever.

Mr. O’Connor cleared his throat. “So what are the suitcases all about?”

Taken by surprise by the sudden start of a conversation, Sophie looked up and gazed back at him through the mirror. She wondered how old he might be. Even though Mr. O’Connor was dressed up neatly in a grey suit with a matching tie, his tousled blond hair gave him a casual look. But then her gaze drifted down to Mia’s hand clasping hers and resting in the younger girl’s lap.

“Just making conversation,” he clarified with a shrug of his right shoulder as if he knew what she was thinking.

He checked the traffic as he moved into another lane, but their gaze met again in the mirror. His expression told her that he was still waiting for an answer.

“I’ve already told you. Considering what we’ve inherited, we brought along everything.”

There was this churning in her stomach, and she wasn’t sure what it was all about. It was hard to pinpoint. Anxiousness probably. At least a little. It was a strange city to her, and here she was in a stranger’s car, being driven to an unknown location.

And nervousness.

Yes, he most certainly made her nervous. At least a bit, because Sophie found him very attractive and his sudden need to talk surprised her.

“Parents?”

The chance to start life all over with the help of a stranger.Twenty-two-year-old

Sophie Levesque has been guardian to her eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago, and it hasn’t been easy. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know and have never heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator. Settling into their new life, Sophie is still afraid it’s all a mistake.

Mark O’Connor, attorney in Hobart and the bearer of the good news for Sophie and Mia, curses himself for the lack of information about the testator. However, researching the questions gives him an opportunity to see Sophie again, and the more time he spends with the two, the more he realises that his life is missing something. And it’s not his casual lover Linda.

But then there’s Zach, Sophie’s sexy neighbour from across the road… and a very good friend of Clara’s.

Will unravelling the mystery unravel Sophie and Mark’s promise of a future?

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2a1BSJ7
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/29FTb4B
AMAZON AU: http://amzn.to/2a9yKgW

5star Review:

I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Blobel’s novels, but I adored New Beginnings. This is a
feel good story centered on love and hope, Sophie’s dedication to her younger sister, Mia, is incredible. The child is the center of her universe and there’s nothing she won’t do for her. Concerned the recent inheritance is all a mistake, Sophie wants to know more about the woman who gave them a home. Helping her is a drop-dead gorgeous attorney and the handsome, hunky neighbor. Sophie’s journey of discovery is a beautiful one, and when she gets her answers, she finds the last thing she ever thought she would–love. Looking forward to the next book in this excellent series.


Wow…what a tangled web we weave! Sophie has got it coming in all directions with the mystery of the testator. These are the type of stories that I love…since it has a bit of everything in it. Not only do we get a bit of a love triangle but add some mystery and thriller to it. Now, that makes a perfect book by Ms. Blobel! But let me remind you that this is nothing new since I find myself always wrapped up in this author’s writing since she writes with emotion and feelings. Whether it be anger, happiness, sadness – you name it…Ms. Blobel gives us the whole package in her stories!

#MusicMonday “Tell Me Why” by #Limahl

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Snippet Sunday – FLY WITH ME – 05/02/2017 #romance #love #SnippetSunday #SundayBlogShare

 

FLY WITH ME

This is Tiffany’s story, who receives a call from the police one morning forcing her to deal with a chapter from her past, which she is unhappy to revisit. When she calls her friend Dylan, it’s Mat from New Zealand she ends up talking to.

This is still a WIP, so critique away. It’s set partly in Melbourne, Australia, and in New Zealand.

Thanks … and enjoy 🙂

accent-clipart-13309573511112670181decorative-lines-2_large

Tiffany went into the kitchen for a drink and as she filled and switched on the kettle, her mind went back to the conversation with Dylan’s friend Mat. She’d enjoyed the brief, although bizarre, conversation. His voice had been so happy and full of energy, it had taken her mind off her problem within only a few minutes. Something she hadn’t been able to achieve with the bath she’d taken later that morning. The whole hysteria from the previous year had crept up, leaving her anxious, tense, and with a headache. A nice cup of tea would hopefully do the trick. She thought of Mat’s laugh and her mouth curled in response. It’d been a deep hearty laugh. One of those laughs that could be contagious to anyone who heard it. Closing her eyes, she tried to remember whether Dylan had ever mentioned Mat’s name, but as much as she tried, she wasn’t able to recall ever hearing about a friend from New Zealand.

The whistling of the kettle drew her back from her thoughts, and she poured the water into her cup. Dipping the teabag in and out of the water, she recalled her conversation with Dylan.

“What’s up Tiff? I’ve got about three missed calls here.”

Relief rushed through her like a tidal wave, almost catching her breath. After all, most of her problems were half as bad once Dylan was there to help. Despite being Liam, her brother’s best friend, Dylan and Tiffany had become close during the year Liam had gone to London for a gap year.

“Why haven’t you ever told me about Mat?” Stunned by her own question, she slapped her forehead a couple of times wondering where the question had come from— especially as matters more important were on hand.

There was a quiet chuckle on the other end of the line and a bout of embarrassment rushed through her.

 

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“The Cowboy’s Triple Surprise” by Barbara White Daille – #NewRelease #book @BarbaraWDaille

The Cowboy's Triple Surprise
The Cowboy’s Triple Surprise

Iris – it’s always so nice to stop by for a visit with you and your readers! Thanks for helping me celebrate my newest release.

***

The Cowboy’s Triple Surprise
The Hitching Post Hotel series

A BIG SURPRISE—TIMES THREE!

The last time rodeo cowboy Tyler Buckham was in Cowboy Creek, he spent a steamy night with local beauty Shay O’Neill. Back in town for a quick visit, he’s hoping they’ll have another go-around before he heads for his next rodeo. But seeing Shay pregnant—with triplets!—leaves Tyler feeling as if his best horse has kicked him in the gut.

Shay swore she wouldn’t fall for an unreliable cowboy, and Tyler’s playboy past makes him even less likely to settle down. The whole town conspires to push them together, and Tyler insists he wants to do his duty by Shay and the triplets, but Shay knows she can’t count on promises from a cowboy. Besides, Tyler never once mentioned the word love…

Buy Links

Amazon  ** Barnes & Noble ** Books-A-Million ** Harlequin  ** IndieBound  ** Kobo 

Excerpt

The Hitching Post’s dining room was crowded with Garland family members and hotel guests, yet the instant Tyler paused in the doorway, he spotted Shay.

She sat on the far side of the long center table reserved for the Garlands, half turned away from him as she talked with one of Jed’s granddaughters. He recognized the straight, wheat-blond hair that fell below her shoulders and felt like silk against his fingers. He knew when she looked his way he would see eyes one shade lighter than her green sweater. Her cheeks held a natural pink tint. Her lips curved in a soft smile.

Just looking at her from a distance made his pulse speed up and his jeans tighten.

She reached for a cloth napkin and unfolded it. As if she’d given a signal, the folks around him began heading toward the tables. The movement spurred him toward the vacant seat at her side before anyone else could grab it. As he slid onto the chair, she turned his way.

The smile stayed, but the light pink color drained from her cheeks. He saw her fingers clutch the napkin she had draped across her lap. And then he saw the rounded expanse of belly straining the knitted weave of her sweater.

She was extremely pregnant.

Thoughts of anticipated pleasure flew from his head. Words did, too, leaving him struggling for something to say.

Jed Garland had no such problem. “Shay, you remember Tyler, don’t you?”

She nodded.

“I thought you might.”

Tyler couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. He also couldn’t miss hearing the satisfaction in the older man’s voice. What had brought that on? And why had Jed mentioned Shay’s invitation to lunch but said nothing about her condition? Of course, Jed—and everyone else at the Hitching Post—probably thought he and Shay were just passing acquaintances.

He tried for a casual smile. The one she gave him looked about as sincere as his felt.

Obviously, she’d met someone else since they were together last summer. Or she’d already been involved with the man when they’d had their fling. Either way, she wouldn’t want him hanging around, maybe bringing up their brief relationship in some conversation. As if he would.

The boys at the ranch back in Texas always said he needed to have “Love ˋem and leave ˋem” tattooed across his chest. That didn’t mean he’d make a public announcement about a one-night stand. Shay couldn’t know that, but you would think she’d at least give him the benefit of the doubt.

About the Author

Barbara White DailleBarbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom. Barbara also loves writing, reading, and chocolate. Come to think of it, she enjoys writing about those subjects, too!

Barbara wrote her first short story at the age of nine, then typed “The End” to her first novel many years later…in the eighth grade. Now she’s writing contemporary romance on a daily basis, with a brand-new series from Entangled Bliss (Snowflake Valley), an ongoing series from Harlequin Western Romance (The Hitching Post Hotel), and many more books on the schedule.

She would love to have you stop by her website and to look for her on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Links

Website  ** Blog  ** Newsletter  ** Twitter ** Facebook
Amazon Author Page

 

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My #Birthday #selfpromo for NEW BEGINNINGS …. and #promo for you ☺

 

Image kindly copied from http://www.isbn-us.com/publisher-talk/

 

I received a really nice 4-star-review from THE ROMANCE REVIEWS for NEW BEGINNINGS … and … since it’s my birthday I thought I’m allowed to a little self promo and share the review.

Sophie Levesque has been raising her younger sister since their mother died a few years earlier. They lived in Sydney and always wondered where their next meal would come from. They slept in the same bed had to share a common bathroom where the water usage was monitored so they never truly felt at home. Then it happened. A complete stranger to them, Clara Bellinger leaves them a house in Hobart. This is a wonderful feel good read. It’s a story of hope and, as the title states, new beginnings. Sophie is a twenty-two-year old woman raising her younger sister Mia since she turned eighteen so she hasn’t gotten to experience the normal life that young adults experience at that age. She was always struggling to put food on the table for the both of them as well as keeping a roof over their heads. Then out of nowhere they are offered a miracle. A woman by the name of Clara Bellinger leaves them a house in Hobart. Where this would be a true gift to most, Sophie isn’t used to good things happening to her so she is cautious. She has questions. Who is Clara Bellinger? How are they related? She relies on Mark, the attorney who is handling the transaction and also receives answers from Zack a very handsome neighbor who knew Clara. This creates an interesting love triangle. Can Sophie find happiness and love for herself? Can she truly make a home for herself and Mia? NEW BEGINNINGS is a very emotional read, one that is heartwarming as well as heart wrenching. It gives you hope in the act of human kindness and that good things do happen to good people. I highly recommend this book.

Liked it as well?

Feel free to hop over to Amazon or Barnes & Nobel – for only 99cents this story could be on your e-reader within minutes.

Oh – and I did get some money to spend on books as well. PLEASE, do leave a link to your latest book release or your favourite book in the comments. I’d appreciate it ☺

#MFRWHooks for **NEW BEGINNINGS** 01/02/2017 #bookpromo #amreading #MFRWOrg


I hope you get hooked by this Snippet

Today’s hook

Today, she wasn’t sure. There was something about Mr. O’Connor that she was drawn to.

Sophie’s eyes met his, and she squared her jaw as she tried to keep her composure and stood straight as she corrected him. “All, as in all our belongings.”

He simply nodded. They made their way to the front door and stepped outside the building, following Mr. O’Connor with their suitcases. Two teenage boys walked past them, eager to capture the interest of some girls across the road. Aware of the attention, the girls covered their mouths with their hands and broke into giggles.

Sophie’s stomach churned. So many things she had missed out on in life. The little things most took for granted. But it was going to be better from now on, she reminded herself. Better for both of them. She didn’t want Mia to miss out on so many things like she had, and the thought gave her some joy.

The chance to start life all over with the help of a stranger.Twenty-two-year-old

Sophie Levesque has been guardian to her eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago, and it hasn’t been easy. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know and have never heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator. Settling into their new life, Sophie is still afraid it’s all a mistake.

Mark O’Connor, attorney in Hobart and the bearer of the good news for Sophie and Mia, curses himself for the lack of information about the testator. However, researching the questions gives him an opportunity to see Sophie again, and the more time he spends with the two, the more he realises that his life is missing something. And it’s not his casual lover Linda.

But then there’s Zach, Sophie’s sexy neighbour from across the road… and a very good friend of Clara’s.

Will unravelling the mystery unravel Sophie and Mark’s promise of a future?

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2a1BSJ7
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/29FTb4B
AMAZON AU: http://amzn.to/2a9yKgW

5star Review:

I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Blobel’s novels, but I adored New Beginnings. This is a
feel good story centered on love and hope, Sophie’s dedication to her younger sister, Mia, is incredible. The child is the center of her universe and there’s nothing she won’t do for her. Concerned the recent inheritance is all a mistake, Sophie wants to know more about the woman who gave them a home. Helping her is a drop-dead gorgeous attorney and the handsome, hunky neighbor. Sophie’s journey of discovery is a beautiful one, and when she gets her answers, she finds the last thing she ever thought she would–love. Looking forward to the next book in this excellent series.


Wow…what a tangled web we weave! Sophie has got it coming in all directions with the mystery of the testator. These are the type of stories that I love…since it has a bit of everything in it. Not only do we get a bit of a love triangle but add some mystery and thriller to it. Now, that makes a perfect book by Ms. Blobel! But let me remind you that this is nothing new since I find myself always wrapped up in this author’s writing since she writes with emotion and feelings. Whether it be anger, happiness, sadness – you name it…Ms. Blobel gives us the whole package in her stories!

The power of pleasure… #BookBlitz “The Knight” by @skye_warren ~ @XpressoTours

The Knight
Skye Warren
(Endgame #2)
Publication date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

 

The power of pleasure…

Gabriel Miller took everything from me. My family. My innocence. My home. The only thing I have left is the determination to get back what’s mine.

He thinks he’s beaten me. He thinks he’s won. What he doesn’t realize is that every pawn has the chance to become a queen.

And the game has only just begun.

* * * * * *

THE KNIGHT is book two in the Endgame series from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks


Grab book 1 – The Pawn – for only 99¢!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

A sleek black limo idles in the center of the parking lot, the gleaming black stark against the backdrop of cracked concrete and cigarette-littered gravel. It’s not for me, I tell myself. It can’t be.

It’s probably one of Chastity’s customers.

At eight o’clock in the morning. In the cheapest motel in Tanglewood.

The driver steps out and nods to me in that deferent, discreet way that drivers have. My stomach sinks. He opens the back door and stands beside it, a silent invitation. A tacit command from the man inside.

My feet move me across the pavement, breath trapped. It’s that moment when you’ve slammed your finger in a door, before the pain has registered, when your mind is all too aware of what comes next.

The shadowed interior hides his face, but I know who it is before he speaks.

“Good morning,” comes the low voice of the man who made me come on his desk. The door shuts behind me, enclosing me in the warm darkness.
“What are you doing here?”

A shuffle of papers. The scratch of a pen. As the darkness solidifies, I see him reclined in the back of the limo, focused on a stack of papers in front of him. Working, like I’m a distraction. “I’m your ride.”

He doesn’t even look up. “Excuse me?”

“To Landon Moore’s office. That is where you’re going, I assume.”

My eyes narrow. “How do you know that?”

Finally he looks up, his golden gaze searing me. “Because you’ll do anything to get your house back. It’s the only place you feel safe, isn’t it? The only place you felt loved?”

My stomach clenches. “How did you know where to find me?”

“I don’t think you need me to answer that.”

Because he knows everything that happens in the city. He could have had me followed after I left his office yesterday, but odds are he knew where I was before. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather walk on nails than ride with you.”

I pull the latch to discover that the door is locked. From the inside.

My gaze flies to him. “You’re kidnapping me?”

“Unfortunately,” he says with fake sympathy. “You’ll have to explain to the cops how I abducted you and transported you in comfort to your previously planned destination.”

The car glides forward, as if connected to his very will.

Asshole.

I glare at him, settling into the warm leather. Are these seats heated? Of course they are. I have to admit this is way more comfortable than the city bus, but everything has a cost. And when it comes to Gabriel Miller, the cost is always too high. “Why are you doing this?”

“Does it matter?” he asks, his voice faintly mocking. “As a gentleman your comfort is my highest priority. It’s enough to be of service to you.”

“You’re not a gentleman.”

“Probably right. In that case I’m coming with you to see sweet old Uncle Landon give you the horrible news, to see your face fall as he assures you there’s nothing you can do.”

My throat constricts. “Can’t you find someone else to torture?”

“No one nearly as pretty. Besides, my presence has some advantages.”

“My very own supply of fire and brimstone?”

“People are more inclined to tell the truth when I’m in the room. My reputation for dealing with liars and cheats is somewhat brutal.” He leans forward, his eyes reflecting sunlight. “All of it true, I’m afraid.”

I’m living proof of that, the fallout from my father’s decision to steal. “Be careful or I might think you’re actually being nice to me.”

A short laugh. “Not a chance. It will be my pleasure to see Landon Moore break. And even sweeter to watch you break, too. A show I can’t pass up.”

 


Author Bio:

Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube / Pinterest

 

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#MusicMonday “You Came” by #KimWilde

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Snippet Sunday – FLY WITH ME – 29/01/2017 #romance #love #SnippetSunday #SundayBlogShare

 

FLY WITH ME

This is Tiffany’s story, who receives a call from the police one morning forcing her to deal with a chapter from her past, which she is unhappy to revisit. When she calls her friend Dylan, it’s Mat from New Zealand she ends up talking to.

This is still a WIP, so critique away. It’s set partly in Melbourne, Australia, and in New Zealand.

Thanks … and enjoy 🙂

accent-clipart-13309573511112670181decorative-lines-2_large

“Nice meeting you, Mat.”

He shook Karen’s hand and was slightly taken aback by her firm handshake. “Likewise.”

As they sat, he studied her small frame, her short wavy grey hair, and soft blue eyes. He assumed her to be in her mid- to late fifties. Her complexion was attractive with not even a small blemish on her skin, but only a few lines around her eyes.

Her assistant brought some coffee and biscuits.

“You’ve brought the cold weather to Melbourne,” Karen said as she poured herself some coffee. Pointing to his take-a-way coffee cup, she asked, “Would you like a fill-up?”

“I’m right, thanks,” he replied, ignoring her swipe at the weather.

Mat emptied his cup of coffee with one long sip before he placed it on the table. “Are you still going ahead with the contract?”

He was referring to the nasty incident only a week earlier with a helicopter crash in the mountains. It’d been a big blow for the small communities of Fox and Franz Josef Glacier.

Karen nodded. “Terrible. Just terrible.” She paused a moment and leaned back into her chair. “Yes, we’d like to go ahead with the contract. We assume by the time you will have set up the business in Queenstown, it will be out of the news.”

Mat’s stomach squeezed. How he hated this side of business. If this hadn’t meant a big opportunity for him and Adam, he’d have cancelled the whole meeting. Bugger the money. But he wanted to move back to Queenstown and the contract would give him the finances to set up an office in his hometown.

He gave a slow nod. “Okay. Let’s talk figures.”

 

Thanks for all your comments,
I do appreciate each single one of them!
And check out Snippet Sunday  Facebook site for other writers.

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#BlogTour “Flightless” by L Duarte ~~ #flightlesstour @starange13 @LDuarte77

Title: Flightless
By: L. Duarte
Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Publisher: LD Publishing LLC
Genre: Romance
Cover Designer: Okay Creations
#flightlesstour

Everyone has a story.Mine went like this: Once upon a time, I met a boy. He was the most handsome fella in the land. I fell in love. Together, we had cosmic chemistry. I believed I would live a life of unending bliss. Until he broke my heart. Shattered it to pieces. And I lived unhappily ever after instead. The end.

Or so I thought.

Life found a way to reunite us. But to change that unhappy ending, I had to learn how to forgive. And my heart seemed unable to do so.

This is a love story. But it is also, much more. It’s the story of how I coped with my shortcomings, my fears and rewrote my destiny. Everyone has a story. This is mine.

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AMAZON AU – https://goo.gl/ItxgHI
Check out these other amazing books from L. Duarte

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 AMAZON  – http://amzn.to/2jLA6ly
Chapter One
I stepped back. Not literally, just figuratively. I did that with every concert. I allowed my mind’s eyes to hover over me and my fans while I analyzed and dissected the unique relationship between us.
As I watched the multitude of people—a beautiful kaleidoscope of different races and social statuses—my heart, in utter bliss, roared.
The audience held their hands upwards as if in an offering or a request. I never knew which. In perfect synchrony, their arms rolled in waves like the swaying of a stormy sea. Their voices cried out my name, and the smell of their sweat and the heat of their mingled bodies emanated from them, unfurling to me like the sweet perfume of incense.
I held the mic near my motionless lips and stared at them. At that moment, I became one with thousands. At that moment, I took back from the crowd all the energy I had fed them. And their vibe made me high and drunk. It was my personal Nirvana. The kind of rapture that can only be attained through uttermost intimacy. A oneness I had only felt with one other person. A person who had severed that connection and shattered my heart into a million shards of pain.
I worshiped them as they adored me. The exchange of atomic energy contained nuclear power. I was drained from giving. They were wasted from receiving. But we were both impossibly happy and satisfied.
My motionless lips finally moved, uttering the final words for the night. The parting words. “Good night, Sydney!” I waved a hand back at them. “You looked beautiful tonight. All forty thousand of you.”
I bowed. They deserved my reverence. People had spent their time camped outside the venue waiting for a closer glance at me. They had spent their precious earned money to see my performance. They were worthy of my respect and gratitude.
Another wave of a hand. A kiss. Another bow. And I was out. Another show was done. Eight more to go.
I jogged backstage and gave the mic to Jeremy, my makeup artist, in exchange for a bottled water. He opened a portable case containing all the potions that would quickly improve my appearance for the meet and greet. 
Before I took a swig from the bottle, Clara, my assistant, brusquely interrupted my post-concert ritual. She snatched the bottle from my hand and returned it to a confused Jeremy. “Gray. With me,” she demanded, grabbing my elbow and urging me toward my changing room.
I glanced back at the stunned face of Jeremy. It was time for meet and greet with the VIP’s. I needed to freshen up. My makeup had all but melted under the stage lights.
Once inside the privacy of the room, I demanded, “What’s going on?”
She raised a finger and said, “Wait.”
I opened my mouth to protest. Instead, I swallowed the words. Clara was usually a chatterbox; her clipped words quickly clued me in that something was seriously wrong.
As I waited, Clara dialed a number on her phone. Her silence became as unnerving as the red glare of an alarm light.
“Betty, I have Gray,” Clara said. Wordlessly, she shoved the device in my hand. The door closed with a thud after she exited in a flurry of silent drama. 
“Mama?” I asked holding the phone to my ear.
“Hey, Puppy,” Mama said in a soft, almost regretful tone.
“What’s going on?” I asked. Silence filled the other end of the line, only increasing my concern. Mama knew I had just left the stage. She followed my tour from home. Minute by minute. It was unusual for her to call me so soon following a show.
“How was, um, the, um, concert?” she asked.
“Mama, did you call me to ask how the show went?” I furrowed my brows and every hair on my body stood at attention. Mama knew my routine during a tour. After a performance, I had a brief meet with fans and then I would go on hours of silence to rest my vocal cords. Although she knew she could call me at any time, she never called until at least ten hours following a show.
“Mama?” I prodded after a long silence.
“I have cancer,” she said bluntly.
The phone connection was perfect. No static. But Mama’s words hummed in my ear with a tunnel-like quality. Distorted, altered, garbled. My mind, however, had remained sharp and alert. Without much thought and after a brief pause, I uttered the words, “I’m coming home.” I hadn’t said those words in over a decade. Somehow, they didn’t taste as foreign as I had imagined they would.

  ***

“Gray,” I said. The word hovered on my tongue, saturating my taste buds with an acrid taste. “Gray,” I repeated, letting it roll off my tongue. I did that a lot. It was my name.
Often, I mused about my name. It hadn’t been given to me because it was fashionable. Nevertheless, it had a history. My history.
When I was little, I liked to fancy its origin. The sky, I would think, was painted gray the day I was born. I loved the theory. The unattainability of the infinite mass of gray made it a great namesake. Whenever gray clouds hovered in the sky, I would lay on my back and stare at them, dreaming that when I grew up, I would build an enormous ladder, climb it, and touch the gray painted dome. It was all, of course, a foolish child’s dream, born out of vain imagination. I wasn’t born during the day, nor was the sky gray. And it was most definitely not the inspiration behind the choosing of my name.
I was born in a graveyard. Serene Hills Cemetery, it was called, though its surface was flat. It was a fall night, October 20th, approximately 11 pm.
They found me covered in vernix. I used the term ‘they’ loosely. A dog found me. A female German Shepherd mix that went by the name of Sunshine. Her fur was golden. Shiny like sun rays. I had a newspaper cut-out of her. It’s black and white, but it described her that way. In the shot, she looked straight at the camera, two vivid round eyes dotting a long and alert face. She had the knowing stare of someone who was aware she had done a good deed.
Obviously, I don’t recall the details surrounding my birth. I was an infant. But I had Mama tell me the story so many times, which after a while, the images ingrained in my brain like the roots of a tree embedded in the fertile soil. They became so real in my imagination that it felt as if they were my recollections.
I was a born a preemie. Weak, small, and blotchy-faced. I was skin and bones with a mop of black spiky hair, and a bad case of a cold.   
A miracle, they called me. But I knew I was no wonder. I happened to have the perfect concoction of healthy lungs and a loud cry. These, and the sharp canine sense of hearing and smelling had saved me. I didn’t believe in miracles. Not anymore.
When they found me, decay from the trees covered the ground on a fascinating palette of colors—an array of red, yellow, purple, brown, orange, golden, bronze.
I used to question why the leaves change colors and fall off the branches. According to a scientific explanation, leaves are a weak and feeble part of a plant. So, before the weather gets severely cold, the trees should toughen up to protect themselves. Or simply dispose of the leaves, the weak part.
Personally, I believe they turn colors before falling as revenge. A personal vendetta. And for that I applaud them. They turn their death into a poetic and alluring sight. That line of thought made me believe death was beautiful. It fascinated me. It’s more interesting than birth, although similar.
I had been abandoned under a pile of dead foliage. According to the police investigation, it appeared my birth mother had buried me under the leaves. Hid me. Like a criminal attempting to cover its tracks. Supposedly, I spent the night under a cocoon of leaves. The tree’s decay was soaked with blood and amniotic fluid.
According to Sunshine’s owner, they were walking on the sidewalk by the cemetery when she heard a whizzing sound. Sunshine’s owner discarded the noise as being the cry of squirrels.
Sunshine didn’t. At odds with her sweet nature, she became agitated and broke loose. She squeezed through a small gap in the fence and disappeared between the gravestones, leaving her owner in a frenzy.
Less than a minute later, Sunshine returned. Her mouth muzzled around my small waist, my umbilical cord dragging, rattling the decayed leaves.
I found my story fascinating, unique. Or so I told myself whenever I got teased at school.
The hospital staff called me the Graveyard Miracle. Soon after, Gray for short. It stuck.
I spent three months in the hospital. That’s where Mama worked. The graveyard shift. She fed me. She bathed me. She caressed my skin. “My heart had not a chance. It fell madly in love with you,” she said, whenever she told me my story. Her pale hand, dotted with freckles, caressing my black, straight hair.
 When I became her child officially, she quit the night job. “I had brought home my very own Graveyard Miracle.”
She found a day job at a pediatric clinic, occasionally helping at the hospital for extra income. She continued working at the clinic throughout my childhood, adolescence, and after I left home. She remained there until cancer said, “No more.” Until cancer said, “I want your time. From now on, you are going to dedicate every waking hour to me. I’m egocentric. I want it all. I want your flesh and the total sum of your soul.”
That’s why I was there, sitting in the back of a limousine Clara had rented to pick me up from JFK airport and take me home.
“When should I schedule your flight to LA?” she had asked. “Only a one-way ticket for now,” I responded.
32 Lorelai Lane, my childhood home. It was a small Victorian-style house, built in 1929. The colorful foliage of a maple tree and an oak tree framed the dwelling as if it was extracted from the pages of a fairy tale book. When I was little, I used to fancy my house was lovely. The most enchanting place in all realms. Staring at the house, I discovered that I still thought that. It was the most magical place in the world because it was the place that humans refer to it as ‘home’. And home is a thing of fairy tales. Rare and pure.
The car door was wide open, awaiting me. I climbed out. The driver stood straight as a pole. His hands perfectly folded in front of him, his face impassive. I wondered how long he had stood there, waiting for me, questioning my sanity. The luggage was lined up at the front porch. His face remained expressionless when I pulled a generous tip from my purse and handed it to him. “Thank you,” I murmured.
He drove off, the sound of the engine trailing off into the quiet street. It was late at night. The crisp air smelled of burnt wood and autumn, reminiscent of bonfires and fireplaces.
I crossed the stone path leading to the front steps.
The hinges of the front door squeaked, and Mama slowly appeared as light spilled out from inside the house. She leaned against the doorframe, cocked her head, her eyes fixed on me. She knew me so well. She knew I needed the time.
I peered up, carefully examining Mama’s face. It had been only two months since I had last seen her, but she appeared decades older. Even under the porch’s pale yellowed light, I could detect the lines circling her mouth. Small bags sagged under her eyes, and her plump skin appeared loose, dripping like melting wax. Her hair showed inches of gray and her usual square and proud shoulders were smaller, fragile. But what got my attention the most were her eyes. Their vivid green had turned opaque.
The grief and sorrow in her stare set my feet in motion, and I climbed the steps.
When mama stepped forward, the old wooden floor groaned and creaked under her feet. She came to a halt at the top of the stairs. Her lips curved into a small smile, and her arms spread open in an inviting hug.
As I stepped forward, my legs felt wobbly with the weight of so many years of absence.

 

I have found that there is only one thing better than reading, and that is writing. I am always torn between the two. I am also frequently torn between chocolate and coffee. However, I emphatically do not like the month of February, lies, and flies. For me, bravery is defined by the courage to do what we fear the most. I live in Connecticut with my husband and two children. Drop a few lines. I would love to hear from you.

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