Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Very Hero Christmas - Chapter 3

Oops! In the rush to edit, format, and bake pies, I totally forgot to post Chapter 3. The entire novel A Very Hero Christmas will be released on Sunday, December 1st!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

* * *
In the baking goods aisle of the grocery store, Harri crouched and pulled a five-pound package of flour from the bottom shelf. She straightened and brushed white powder from the paper exterior. “Don’t these come in smaller sizes?”

“Actually, you should go back and buy a couple of those delicious-looking premade pies.” Jeremy propped his fists on his jeans-clad hips and flipped his longish front shock of blonde hair in the direction of the bakery section of the store.

“No.” Harri set the flour in their shopping cart. “This is Grace’s first Christmas, and it’s going to be perfect.”

“Sweetie, Gracikins isn’t six-months-old yet.” Jeremy shook his head. “She won’t remember this. Hell, she can’t eat most of what you’re making.”

Harri ignored him and checked her list. He may be one of her closest friends, but right now, he was being a Negative Nellie, and it was irritating the hell out of her. “I’d better get two bags just in case.”

Jeremy slapped his forehead as she crouched and grabbed another package. “Harri, I love you, but you can barely boil water. Put this stuff back, and let’s go back to the bakery and deli sections. I know the manager. He’ll let us put in a last-minute order.”

“No.” She crossed flour off her list. “Now, where’s the salt?” A sign that said “Seasonings” hovered over some shelves ahead of her cart. Salt was a seasoning, right?

“All of your guests are going to starve.” Jeremy threw his hands in the air as Harri pushed the cart down the grocery store aisle. “You may be the best attorney in Canyon Pointe, heck, even the state, but you can’t cook Harriet Matilda Winters!”

He sounded exactly like her ex-husband Eddie. Worse, Jeremy had used the despised full name. She whirled and jammed her index finger into his breast bone.

“I am not going to serve Grace food cooked by maids or caterers like mine and Tim’s families did. I am not going to serve anyone warmed up TV dinners like Arthur’s parents did. I’m sure as hell not serving her bread crusts and telling her to be grateful for it like Patty’s grandmother did. Grace is getting the real Christmas she deserves!”

“Is there a problem, ma’am?” a voice rumbled behind her.

Harri pivoted and looked up at the huge man, who towered over Jeremy as well as her. His scarlet necktie and white dress shirt matched nicely with his Quinto’s Grocery apron. However, his graying beard stood out against his dark skin.

She glanced around and realized she’d attracted a crowd.

“She’s just uptight about the holidays, sir,” Jeremy said smoothly.

“Is that the case, ma’am?” He didn’t have a name tag, but from his stance, the man was probably the store manager. He was also probably worried about violence in his domain. Two idiots had gotten into a gun battle over a fashion doll’s dream house at a local chain toy store last weekend at the Southside Mall.

Luckily, Harri’s superhero client Cobblestone stopped the mothers before anybody had gotten hurt. Thank goodness, he was still at the store after his annual Christmas gift event for kids in the foster system.

She totally understood why Rey wanted to follow in Cobblestone’s footprints, but battling Aisha over a new moniker for Rey was getting on her last nerve. She could literally feel her blood pressure rising, and she shut down that train of thought.

Harri took a calming breath and looked up at the manager. “I’m sorry for my outburst, sir. My brother was merely pointing out I’m being an obsessive butthead over our goddaughter’s first Christmas.”

“As long as you don’t make any more of a ruckus.” The manager’s salt-and-pepper eyebrow rose, questioning her intentions. “I won’t.” She crossed her heart.

“Happy Holidays, then, ma’am. Sir.” He nodded to both her and Jeremy before he sauntered back towards the check-out lanes.

With the show over, everyone else resumed their shopping.

“I didn’t realize how much the past holidays bothered you,” Jeremy said softly as he followed her down the aisle. “Is that why you’re trying so hard to be Betty?”

“Betty and Marvin gave us the closest thing we had to a real Christmas,” Harri muttered. And Aisha’s parents really had been the only ones who gave a shit when Harri and Jeremy had been teenagers. She swiped at her eyes. That damn flour dust was everywhere in here. “Anyway, she sent me a few of her recipes. It doesn’t sound that hard.”

“Aisha’s mom was also up at three a.m. to start Christmas dinner.” Jeremy grabbed a canister of salt and set it in the cart.

“That’s because she didn’t want any interference from Grams and Aunt Queenie.” Harri consulted the list again. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger were needed for the pies.

“They only flew into Canyon Pointe our junior year in high school,” Jeremy stated.

Harri handed the cinnamon and ginger jars to him. “That’s because the Franklin house in this city wasn’t big enough with you and I living there. Now, where the hell is the nutmeg?”

“The spices are in alphabetical order, silly.” Jeremy pointed at the bottom of the spice rack.

“Gotcha!” Harri tossed him the last jar of nutmeg.

“All right. Fine.” He set the glass jar carefully into their cart. “You cook. Leo and I will bring the mulled wine and eggnog.”

“It’s a deal.” She was going to make this the Christmas they all deserved even if it killed her.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Quick Update!

For those of you waiting for your paperback copies of Resurrected, they are going out in today's mail. I really apologize for the delay, but I had an unexpected out-of-state trip at the beginning of November. I didn't want to order the books and have them show up on my doorstep when we weren't home.

Especially since we ended up getting four and a half inches of snow.

Again, sorry for the delay, and I hope you enjoy your signed copies.

(For those of you who want an opportunity to receive signed books from me, please sign up for my newsletter. Tap the CONTACT ME tab on the website menu and type in you deets.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Very Hero Christmas - Chapter 2

Aisha leaned back in her airplane seat and wiggled her butt in an attempt to get comfortable. Despite all these stupid super powers from the HRSP, she couldn’t stop the baby from abusing her internal organs. It didn’t help she felt squished between her husband and brother-in-law.

“You know, we both offered to get you a seat in first class,” Steve murmured.

“How is that going to stop your nephew from practicing his goal kicks on my lungs?”

The plane finally pushed back from the terminal. She glanced to her right. Rey stared out the tiny window. His knuckles glared white against the rest of his skin.

She laid her palm over his left fist. “Breathe, sweetie.”

“I can’t believe he’s afraid of flying,” Steve muttered.

“Not all of us grew with a silver spoon in their mouths,” Rey snapped.

“Stop it,” Aisha hissed. “Both of you.” She glared at Steve. “And it’s only when someone else is the pilot.”

“I don’t need you to defend me,” Rey growled.

Before she could call her husband on his crap, Steve said, “You’re right, Aisha. I’m sorry.”

If her brother-in-law actually meant his apology, she wouldn’t have the urge to smack him, too. He was merely trying to show up his twin. Not for the first time, she wished the guys could’ve worked out their sibling rivalry while they were kids, like normal people.

“I didn’t thank you two for coming up to Seattle with me for Thanksgiving,” Steve added. “So, thanks for that. I promise to behave myself at your parents’ home, Aisha.”

Okay, maybe he meant his apology after all.

She eyed Rey.

“I’m sorry for snapping at you, honey.” He raised her hand to his lips and kissed the back. “I promise to behave, too.”

“Thank you both.” After the year they’d all had, a week of rest, good food, and family fun would be a welcome respite from the superhero shenanigans in Canyon Pointe. She didn’t realize how much she was looking forward to a real visit with her relatives until now.


Rey would have rather sat with Aisha in the rental SUV, but Eric insisted she take the roomier front passenger. Not to mention Aisha’s nephew begged to sit next to his hero.

“Have you come up with a new name yet, Uncle Rey?” Even with his seatbelt on and snugly tucked between Rey and Steve in the backseat, Devon quivered with excitement.

“Hey, secret identity, dude!” Eric glared at his son in the rearview mirror.

“But we’re alone in the car, Dad,” Devon protested.

“It’s a rental car, and it can be easily bugged,” Rey said gently. “The last thing your Aunt Aisha wants would be for you to get hurt because you know my other identity.”

“But that’s why you waved your phone all over the SUV right?” Devon said. “To make sure it wasn’t bugged?”

“Yes, it is,” Rey replied. He didn’t want to mention he was also checking for explosive devices. “However, we all still need to be careful.”

“But Mom and Dad said the guys who are after yours and Aisha’s baby are in jail.”

“They are for now.” Rey didn’t want to get too far into the subject of Corvus either, but neither did he want to lie to the kid. “But bad guys can escape and sometimes, they can even beat the system—”

“You mean, because Cal’s an idiot, and he might screw up the prosecution’s case,” Devon firmly stated.


What little of Eric’s expression Rey could see appeared totally appalled at his son’s blunt assessment.

In the front passenger seat, Aisha snickered.

“He is an idiot, Dad,” Devon proclaimed. “He blamed Aisha for not having any babies. And Mom said he was shooting blanks.”

Eric groaned. Steve and Aisha laughed out loud.

“Calvin was mean to Aisha after they both promised to love each other forever,” Rey said patiently. “That does mean he can’t do his job as a lawyer. These same bad guys threatened him and his new family. He understands that no one is safe if the bad guys aren’t punished for the things they did wrong.”

“You said you’d promise to love Aisha forever, too.” The boy peered up at Rey.

“I’ve only broken my word once—” Rey started.

Devon opened his mouth, but Rey held up his index finger.

“The only reason I broke it is because the monsters who were trying to kill me would have killed all of my friend Takashi’s colleagues,” he continued. “When to break your word is one of the hard things you have to decide for yourself as an adult. I hope you never find yourself in that position, Devon.”

“I hope not, either.” The boy nodded solemnly. “Can I ask you another question, Uncle Rey?”


“What does ‘shooting blanks’ mean?”

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Very Hero Christmas - Chapter 1

Two months later…

“The Crimson Commando?” Harri said. She’d lost track of how many suggestions she’d thrown out during this latest brainstorming session. She was also ready to throw a kolache at her law partner when Aisha shook her head.


And they’d been in the law office conference room for less than ten minutes.

“Too militaristic. Rey wants more of a pacifistic name,” Aisha said around a mouthful of breakfast burrito. “Something that won’t make the parents afraid. He’d like to do volunteer work like Cobblestone.”

“Pacifistic?” Harri threw up her hands. “He’s a freakin’ demigod!”

“Scream that a little louder the next time,” Susan Kennedy said. Their law school classmate, now new associate, deliberately slurped her tea before she added, “Only those with superhearing on this block heard you.”

Harri clenched her fists on her lap to keep from pulling out Susan’s ponytail by the roots. Or Aisha’s henna’d dreds. “Then why isn’t he in here giving us some suggestions?”

Aisha chewed and swallowed her eggs and tortilla. “Who are you really pissed at, Harri?”

She propped her elbows on the maple veneer conference table. It was bad enough they’d had to go to a used office furniture warehouse. She always thought if she’s opened her own firm, it would be classy. But no, Daddy Dearest managed to blow through the entire Winters fortune.

Or rather snort it.

Harri took a cleansing breath. The firm couldn’t continue riding the fumes of Rey’s licensing deals. “You came up with Captain Justice on the fly after I was arrested earlier this year. Why can’t we go back to that if you’re going to negate every name I propose?”

“Because you had to bury him along with the Ghost Owl after the Professor Paranoia fiasco this summer.” Susan picked at her banana muffin.

“Jatz’om Kuh was never registered,” Aisha muttered.

Harri sat back in her chair. Aisha using the Ghost Owl’s Mayan name meant something deeper was going on in her brain. “Is this about Tim? Is he pressuring Rey to take his place? I’ll talk with Tim is that’s what he’s doing.”

“No, this isn’t about Tim.” Aisha laid down her breakfast burrito and shrugged. “Since we learned about Steve, Rey’s been…adamant about establishing his own identity.”

“What do you mean his own identity?” Harri leaned back in her chair and glared at her partner. “Steve doesn’t even want to be a superhero.”

“Is that the real reason why Rey’s been hiding down at Marta’s restaurant the last two months?” Susan asked. “He’s avoiding Steve?”

“No, Rueben’s showing Rey the ropes so he can cover the kitchen while Rueben’s in Paris.” Aisha took a sip of her pixie barf. Harri didn’t understand how anyone could handle that much sugar in their coffee.

“Being a short order cook isn’t conducive to being a superhero,” she blurted. For a split second, it looked like Aisha would throw the rest of her burrito at Harri.

“Rey’s sticking with his original plan,” Aisha growled. “He’s investing in this neighborhood. Getting people working again. Providing them a chance to build real homes for their children rather than squatting in the old Canyon Hotel. I thought you of all people would get behind giving the poor folks a hand-out.”

Fury rushed through Harri at the words her father often threw in her grandmother’s face. She stood and slammed her palms on the tabletop. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Okay, ladies.” Susan raised her hands. “Let’s calm down here. We’re all looking out for our client.” She eyed Aisha before she turned to Harri. “Right?”

Harri slowly sat down, but she waited for Aisha to make the first move.

Her partner cleared her throat. “Maybe we should table this discussion until Rey, Steve, and I get back from Atlanta.”

“After Christmas?” Harri tilted her head. “Why?”

“Because I have a meeting about the new Blue Racer shoe line, and I need to get ready for it.” Aisha rose and tossed the rest of her breakfast in the trash before she stomped out of the conference room. At least, she’d stopped wearing her damn stilettos now she was in her seventh month of her pregnancy. The office carpet was the smoothest it had ever been.

Susan exhaled gustily. “For being one of the smartest people in our law school class, you can sure be a dumbass at times.”

Harri glared at her. “Excuse me?”

“Has it occurred to you the reason Aisha’s shooting down every moniker is because she’s scared of losing Rey again?” Susan tucked an errant auburn lock behind her ear.

Harri opened her mouth for a retort, then closed it. She sagged in her chair. “Crap. I hate it when someone else is more right than me.”

“She’s leaving for her parents’ place tomorrow,” Susan pointed out. “You and I can work on some names while she’s gone. And it’ll be a lot harder to shoot down every single one if the client is in here the next time we meet.”

“You are truly evil, Susan Kennedy.” Harri laughed. “You keep this up, and you may make partner.”

Susan pushed to her feet. “How about I survive my first year here before we talk permanent?” She gathered breakfast trash scattered across the conference table and dumped it in the waste receptacle before she turned back to Harri. “One more thing. You and I made the choice not to have kids, but even I can see Aisha’s scared something could go wrong with this pregnancy. Especially, since she developed HRSP. Try to take it a little easier on her.”

Harri nodded. “I will.”

Once Susan left, Harri stared through the window at the massive gray stone blocks that formed the wall of the building next door to theirs. Aisha wasn’t the only one scared something could go wrong with this pregnancy. She sighed. Tim was right. She needed to pull up her big girl panties and quit taking her fear out on everyone else around her.

Maybe it was a good thing she wasn’t going down to Atlanta this Christmas. If Aisha was a pain now, she’d be even worse when her family fussed over her and the new additions to the family.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A Very Hero Christmas - Prologue

Rey Garcia stared at his bride as she lay next to him on the blanket they’d spread on the black sand beach on the island of Kauai. The sun shone against a brilliant blue sky. Ocean waves lapped softly against the hardened basalt rocks that framed the secluded cove. Aisha looked so damn beautiful and vulnerable at the same time. But she couldn’t possibly be serious.

“You can’t be the Ghost Owl!” he blurted.

“So you’re saying you want the moniker?”

“You’re pregnant!” The instant the words left his mouth, he knew he was in deep trouble. And not just from ruining the blissful mood of their honeymoon.

Aisha’s dark brown eyes narrowed, and she pushed herself upright. “Excuse me?”

He sat up, too. “I’m sorry. That really came out wrong.”

“I seem to recall beating the crap out of both you and Steve when you were under Professor Paranoia’s control.” Her voice was calm. Too calm. It meant she was on the verge of a serious explosion. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have thrown his newly discovered twin brother in his face.

Rey sucked in a deep breath and released it in an attempt to organize his concerns. Aisha would respond better to a logical argument. “I meant we’re not sure if you’ll keep your powers after the baby’s born.”

“You were the one with the theory about your mom’s kiss protecting me,” Aisha pointed out.

“Yes, to protect you and the baby, primarily from my uncles.” He tried not to think about how Black Death tried to zap her with his powers at their wedding reception. He was pretty sure saving Aisha from little Grace’s father was an unintended side effect of his mother Xquic’s kiss. “That doesn’t mean it’ll extend past your delivery. And you had HRSP before you met my biological mother.”

The condition known hormone-related superpowers or HRSP often affected women carrying babies with the genes related to superpowers. Usually, the condition went away after delivery, but he wondered if his mother had done something else besides protecting Aisha with that kiss.

“If I didn’t know better, I say it was your ego getting in the way,” Aisha said. However, the crease between her eyebrows eased.

“If you want in the supers business, I’d be the last one to tell you no.” He smiled at her.

Aisha laughed. “Yeah, I’ve already considered how Harri will react.”

“But will you do me a favor?”


“At least ask Tim before you steal his name.”

She laughed again. “Definitely.”

“Are you going to officially register with the NSB?”

Aisha hesitated before she said, “If I keep my powers, then yes. It may be the only way to flush out whoever was feeding Corvus information within the bureau.”

Of course. This was more about taking out anyone related to Corvus, especially after Corvus’s former leader, Byron S. Trubble admitted on a FBI wire he wanted Rey and Aisha’s son.

Her law partner Harri Winters may have a horrible temper, but it was there and gone in a flash. Aisha had a slower burn, but her grudges lasted a hell of a lot longer. And the fact that Trubble and his people threatened the child Aisha had longed for most of her adult life only made that inner rage burn hotter.

“I’m just worried that the NSB will drag you in for questioning about Tim,” Rey murmured. He reached over and stroked her cheek.

Aisha leaned her forehead against his and cover his hand with her palm. “Harri’s cover story is holding, and my power set, assuming I keep it, is nothing like the Ghost Owl’s supposed abilities.”

She gave Rey a quick peck before she pulled away. “Besides, we need to come up with your new moniker and costume if you want to re-register. But as your attorney, I suggest you forget about everything while you’re on your honeymoon. And your new bride is in need of a swim.”

Together, they climbed to their feet and raced for the waves lapping the black sand.