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Carmen DeSousa – Author

Author  – Carmen DeSousa

Book Title: Entangled Dreams

When Alexandra Nicole was eight, she thought she was a princess in a fairytale.  But after a tragic accident shatters her magical life, she finds herself in a cold and heartless reality.

As an adult, she once again faces harsh truths and decides to take control of her destiny. Unfortunately, choices have a way of entangling her dreams and pushing her down a dark and dismal path.

Alexandra must trust her instincts to escape danger, but be able to surrender all to find her happily ever after. Knowing how to decipher the difference, will be her toughest challenge.

Author Bio:

While Carmen DeSousa does not write “Christian” books, she does share her characters’ Christian beliefs. Her characters are real people who come with real flaws; no perfect people allowed.

She characterizes her stories as modern-day fairytales, as they are overflowing with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a fairytale be without a tragic event setting the stage? All of her novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic and will hopefully make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.

Both of her published novels, She Belongs to Me and Land of the Noonday Sun, have reached bestseller status right alongside Nicholas Sparks, J.D. Robb, and other great authors. Her third novel, Entangled Dreams, releases September 2012.

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Blog Blizzard – Introducing Carmen DeSousa – Author

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

I love being able to create characters that reach into a reader’s soul, making them feel as if they are living and breathing individuals.

What genre(s) do you write?

Short answer: Romantic-Suspense

Long answer: I characterize my stories as modern-day fairytales, as they are overflowing with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a fairytale be without a tragic event setting the stage? All of my novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic and will hopefully make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Ending it. I fall in love with my characters and don’t want to let them go. I end up having to trim away scenes, so my stories won’t be too long.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A pantser without a doubt. Even when I write a whodunit, I’m not sure who did it until the end. J

Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?

For years, I watched as writers felt in order to tell a story they had to shock their readers with graphic scenes. My goal is to take you to the precipice in all areas of my writing. My stories do have violence and sex as they are a part of life, but I leave the best parts to your imagination, as I believe most readers have marvelous imaginations. That’s why they read.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

Above all, love and hope. My stories are about overcoming adversity and finding a way to live again.

How long have you been a writer?

My entire life, but I decided to see publication in 2010.

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

Approximately eighteen months.

What other careers have you had?

Sales and marketing for fifteen years. Editing ten years.

Are any of your characters based on real people or events?

Yes, but I won’t tell you which book or characters.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?

Sidney Sheldon

Iris Johansen

Nicholas Sparks

Jaime Rush

How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

Shocked the heck out of the ones I told. I kept it a secret for two years until I decided to publish. Yep, even my husband didn’t know.

Where are you from?

Florida native.

How do you come up with the titles?

Usually from a line in the novel that best describes the story.

Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?

Not really. I’m still me.

Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?

Multi-task without a doubt. I have three in the stage of editing at the moment, and I’m writing two.

When not writing, how do you relax?

Is this a rhetorical question? Read, of course. J

Do you have any reading suggestions?

I have two follow up novels my readers might be interested in.

Split Decisions is the follow up to She Belongs to Me

When Noonday Ends is the follow up to Land of the Noonday Sun

Love Like Crazy is my first young adult, which I believe adult readers will still enjoy.

 

http://www.carmendesousa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarmenDeSousa?fref=ts

   Twitter – @Author_Carmen

    Amazon: http://ow.ly/bfZKa

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Doug Simpson – Interview

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

There are many things I like about being an author or writer, but if I have to pick one favorite I guess it is the feedback from readers who say things like: Wow, I really enjoyed reading your book/article. Touching people’s lives makes the work all worthwhile.

What genre(s) do you write?

Spirituality mystery/romance fiction.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Writing comes pretty easy to me most of the time. Promoting it is the hardest function of an author, in my opinion.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a pantser. Sometimes I start a chapter heading here and along the way I get hijacked and end up over there. The same thing happened with Soul Awakening manuscript. It did not end up anything like what I thought it would be when I started.

Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?

The area of spirituality that I write in is not common. Soul Awakening is fiction but it was inspired by actual events in the lives of a number of people, many of which I know personally. If a reader is curious about the possibility of survival of the soul and spirit after the death of a body, and reincarnation of souls, then Soul Awakening is definitely an eye opener.

 What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

We do not just have ‘one life to live’. Reincarnation is real.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The most important function of our life is to be of service to others, not to enjoy life or get rich.

 How long have you been a writer?

Almost four years, full time.

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

Five or six months.

 What other careers have you had?

High school teacher.

Do you write under more than one name? Why?

No. I am me and I am not ashamed of what I write.

Are any of your characters based on real people or events?

The characters are fictional but I did give the main character, Dacque LaRose, a number of my characteristics. Most of the events are real.

How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers?

You may never have heard of me before, but you will never forget me and my message after reading Soul Awakening.

What’s something fans would find fascinating about you?

I receive guidance from the other side.

What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?

I believe the message in the stories I write. The story is fiction but the message is not.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?

The over 15,000 archived readings and over 300 books, including over 30 biographies by and or about the legendary American mystic, Edgar Cayce, have been my primary inspiration.

How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

Most of them share my beliefs and are very supportive.

Where are you from?

Ontario, Canada in the warm weather and Florida in the winter months. We call it the best of both worlds.

How do you come up with the titles?

I have found that my anticipated title never survives the manuscript writing as the story glances off into adventures I never dreamed of when I started. The last thing I do is pick a title.

Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?

I thought I was retired, but it turns out I just changed occupations.

Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?

I try to work on one book at a time, but when I have completed the first draft I like to let it sit for a number of months and come back to it later for a fresh look. In between I can start another project.

When not writing, how do you relax?

I do not have a specific hobby, such as golf. I guess the best response would be to say that I do whatever I want that I feel like doing at the time.

Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.

Soul Awakening was first published by Book Locker in October of 2011. It will be re-released by 5 Prince Publishing in October of 2012 followed by Soul Rescue in November of 2012. These will be followed by Soul Mind in January of 2013 and the yet uncompleted Soul Connections in October of 2013.

Please share any links you would like listed in the Interview. Website, Myspace, blog, facebook, yahoo group etc.

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/doug.simpson.902

Website   http://dousimp.mnsi.net

Blog   http://doug-simpson-author.blogspot.com/

Twitter   https://twitter.com/#!/1DougSimpson

Brief bio

Doug Simpson is a retired high school teacher who has turned his talents to writing. His first novel, a spiritual mystery titled Soul Awakening, was published in the United States in October of 2011, by Book Locker. It will be available in print and eBook format through most book stores around the world, in October of 2012 from his new publisher 5 Prince Publishing. His magazine and website articles have been published in 2010 to 2012 in Australia, Canada, France, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. His articles can be accessed through his website at http://dousimp.mnsi.net.

Soul Awakening description

Soul Awakening is a work of fiction, inspired by a series of actual events. It is a spiritual mystery involving the apparently accidental, though actually orchestrated by Divine Intervention, meeting of three total strangers and their ultimate discovery that they shared previous lifetimes together. It delves into reincarnation, past lifetimes, spirit communication, messages from God, past-life regression sessions, Guardian Angels, past-life recall in the awake state, and soul attraction, which is the reincarnation of groups of souls together in more than one lifetime.

A Memorable Excerpt from Soul Awakening

“I would like you to again picture yourself sliding down the same tunnel as before, sliding towards the light at the end. When you exit from the tunnel, you will land in a different lifetime than the one as Bernice Woodward. Please let me know when you are out of the tunnel.”

After a few seconds, Clippers said, “I am out of the tunnel.”

“Please describe what you see.”

“There is a large crowd, men, women and children, waiting by the side of the path from Capernaum.”

“Who are you waiting for?”

“Jeshua.”

“Who is Jeshua?”

“Jeshua the healer. Our Savior.”

“Are you waiting with the crowd?”

“Yes.”

“Is Jeshua a relative or a friend of yours?”

“No.”

 “Why did you come this day to see Jeshua?”

“I brought our son for Jeshua to heal.”

“What is wrong with your son?”

“He has a crippled leg.”

“What is your son’s name?”

“Abraham bar Joseph.”

“Is your husband Joseph there with you?”

“No.”

“What is your name?”

“Anna.”

“I would ask you now to move along in time, just a little, to when Jeshua and His followers or disciples arrive at the spot where the crowd, including Anna and Abraham are waiting. When they arrive there, where you are, will you let me know, please?”

“Yes.” The room went silent, and the seconds slowly ticked by.

“Four of His followers have joined our waiting group. They are telling us that Jeshua will be arriving in a few minutes. The four followers have split up and are circulating amongst the throng of people. One is coming over where we are. He seems to be looking at us, or maybe it is Abraham that caught his attention.

“‘What is the matter with the boy’s leg? Did he break it?’ he is asking me. I told him that Abraham was born crippled. He has put his arm around Abraham’s shoulder and asked us to come along with him. We are moving through the crowd to the edge of the pathway. The people at the south end of the crowd are starting to cheer. I see heads appearing over the knoll. It is wonderful to see Jeshua. We have never seen Him before. He is stopping when He reaches one of His followers. That follower appears to have a blind beggar with him. Jeshua just placed His hand on the beggar’s head, and said something quietly. I am too far away to hear. The beggar is jumping up and down, shouting, ‘I can see! I can see!’ He is now thanking Jeshua.

“They are moving on towards us. The follower beside us is telling Jeshua that Abraham has been crippled from birth. ‘Is that correct?’ Jeshua is asking Abraham. Abraham says, ‘Yes, sir. Please make me well so that I can run and jump like the other boys.’ Jeshua is smiling. ‘My son, your sins are forgiven. Give Me your crutch.’ Abraham hands Jeshua his crutch, and He tosses it on the ground. ‘Now My son, let us see you jump as high as you can,’ Jeshua says. Abraham is hopping around the path like a rabbit. ‘Now,’ Jeshua says, ‘Let’s see you run down to the end of the crowd and back as fast as you can.’ Abraham has taken off moving as fast as I have ever seen any boy run. This is a Miracle. It truly is a Miracle. Abraham has turned around and is charging back towards us. He runs right into Jeshua’s arms and is hugging Him, saying, ‘Thank you! Thank you!’ through his tears.

“The tears are pouring down my cheeks, also. I feel faint. I reach out for Jeshua’s follower and he helps me to remain standing. Jeshua backs away from Abraham, and musses-up his hair. ‘The Father has Blessed you, My son,’ He says and now is walking further down the path. The follower asks if I will be alright, and I tell him I think so. He is also moving along the path, following Jeshua. Abraham and I are hugging each other. We are still crying.”

Eye was so mesmerized by the revelation that it took a few moments for it to register that Clippers had stopped talking.

‘How do I follow that?’ she asked herself. “Is there anyone in your current lifetime that you recognize who is there in the crowd waiting for Jeshua?”

“Yes.”

“Please tell me their name then and today.”

“Abraham is Max Winston, my son.”

“I am now going to slowly bring you out of your hypnotic trance. On the count of ten, you will be wide-awake and feeling refreshed, and you will be able to remember most of what has taken place during our session today. One …… two …… three …… you are beginning to feel more awake, four …… five …… six …… seven …… you are almost totally awake, eight …… nine …… ten. Wake up!”

Clippers stretched her arms, yawned, and opened her eyes.

Eye handed her the two CDs. “I believe that we just experienced the most rewarding regression session that I can ever remember, Clippers. You truly are Blessed.”

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Blog Blizzard – Doug Simpson – Author

    MY SOUL AWAKENING

Interesting title, some of you are probably thinking, but what does he mean? My personal soul awakening provided me with the knowledge and courage to write my first novel, appropriately titled Soul Awakening. Here is my story.

Over thirty years ago, my wife introduced me to one of America’s almost-lost miracle-men. His name was Edgar Cayce. He is regarded by many scholars in the field as America’s legendary mystic. Edgar gave over fifteen thousand psychic readings in a self-induced, trance-like state. His trance state was so deep that, in the early days of his amazing medical readings, a group of doubting Doctors performed their own sadistic experiments on him to prove he was duping his clients. One Doctor took his pocketknife and slid it fully under one of Edgar’s fingernails. He never reacted and there was no blood. Another sadist poked a hatpin right through Edgar’s cheek. He never reacted, but there may have been a drop of blood. But, as you can imagine, when Edgar came out of his trance state, all hell broke loose!

Throughout approximately forty years Edgar gave over ten thousand medical readings for people, some of whom Edgar never met and who were located a thousand or more miles away at the time of the reading. On occasion, in his deep trance state, Edgar prescribed treatments and remedies that had not yet been invented.

As amazing as the medical readings were, it was Edgar’s life or reincarnation readings that seized my attention.  Some two thousand real live individuals, or their guardians, requested approximately twenty-five hundred life readings where they were given information on a few of their previous incarnations, specifically those ones which were significant to their understanding of the reasons for their souls selecting the particular bodies that they resided in, in their current incarnations. Reincarnated souls that appeared in Edgar’s readings went as far back as the days of Adam and Eve, and included the souls of Mary Magdalene, Thomas Jefferson and Martha Washington, to name just a few.

If you are curious, visit my website at http://dousimp.mnsi.net and you can access the articles I have written on these three historical characters, and many others.

Once certain individuals, seriously interested in researching ‘the-other-side,’ were convinced that Edgar was the real deal; they asked inquisitive questions about Creation and many other topics. One answer, significant to our story, is Edgar’s account of the Creation of souls. In brief, think of God as an enormous energy field that can think. After God Created and evolved the Earth with its animals and numerous other creatures, but no humans, God realized that He had done a pretty good job but He was lonely. Man had not been in the original plan, so for company, God Created a calculated explosion in His energy field and all souls were Created at the same time from the God-Energy. There is much more to this story, but in a nutshell, God Created humans as residences where souls could experience ‘life’. Souls incarnate time and time again until they learn the required lessons to become God-like once more.

After years of researching the Edgar Cayce readings, I ‘had’ to verify my beliefs so I enlisted the services of a licensed hypnotist and experienced four past-life regression sessions and uncovered a number of my past lifetimes.

Now one hundred percent convinced of reincarnation, I commenced to write my reincarnation articles in 2010, using the Edgar Cayce readings. I parlayed my knowledge and experience and, with some helpful guidance from the other side along the way, wrote my first novel, Soul Awakening. It is a work of fiction but was inspired by a series of actual events. Probably all of the major events reported in Soul Awakening have been experienced by me, by individuals I know, confided to me or individuals I know, or revealed in the Edgar Cayce readings. Four of the incarnations uncovered by the characters in Soul Awakening are my actual past lifetimes, right down to the name and location.

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/doug.simpson.902

Website   http://dousimp.mnsi.net

Blog   http://doug-simpson-author.blogspot.com/

Twitter   https://twitter.com/#!/1DougSimpson

 

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Bernadette Marie – Interview

Have you ever wondered why an author decides to write? Or what they like to write about? We asked Bernadette Marie those questions and a few others. Read her answers below.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Creating! I love the whole process of building characters in my mind and portraying them, hopefully correctly, on the pages as their stories are told.

What genre(s) do you write?

I love to write Contemporary Romance.  However, I do have some paranormal in my future.

What genres and authors would we find you?

You’ll find me in contemporary romance and I’ve been blessed to ride the charts with such great authors as Nora Roberts and Bella Andre

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Not falling asleep at the keyboard.  I’m blessed with constant flow in my mind…but my eyes won’t always stay open for me.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Total pantser!  Nothing is planned when I sit down.

Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?

I think my voice is very natural. I don’t try too hard. My characters talk normal and their situations aren’t out of the ordinary.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

I hope they have a sense of I NEED MORE! But aside from that I promise happily ever after and I deliver on that. I want to walk away from a book and feel good for days.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I suppose it would be, if you look around you you’ll notice exactly what you need.

How long have you been a writer?

I have been a writer since I was 13, but have been published since 2010

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

My very first book is not published…it’s hidden.  However, the book that was first pubbed was penned with 12 others in 2007. I was on fire. So it didn’t take long to write. I received my first contract in December 2009 and the book was launched in April 2010.

What other careers have you had?

I never give up a good career. SO I’m still doing data entry, I still run a salon—only now it is in my basement. I teach anyone anything they want to know from writing to karate.

Do you write under more than one name? Why?

I only write under Bernadette Marie, which is my given name.

Are any of your characters based on real people or events?

After a while I found that my characters took on traits of other people.  As for events, they are modern day, so that keeps the events current.

How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers?

I promise a happy ending. You won’t walk away from my books with a heavy heart.

What’s something fans would find fascinating about you?

As of October 2012 I will be a 2nd degree black belt momma! I have 5 sons (2 of them are 2nd degree black belts, 2 are conditional black belts and one is a high red.) We kick butt in this house!

What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?

That I put my heart into every story I write. Sure I have been accused of being predictable, but with happily ever after that part is predictable…but the journey is the fun part.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?

By far Nora Roberts has influenced me the most. Next would be Karen White, she was the one that took me out of the box of 3rd person always. And Megan Hart…well, I didn’t know an erotic story could change your life! She’s amazing and none of these ladies are a waste of time or money to read.  BUT early on it was Sidney Sheldon that got me reading and made me want to write. When I knew it was romance that I enjoyed the most then it was Danielle Steel

How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

There isn’t one family member or friend who isn’t 100% supportive of my adventure into writing! They are all amazing supports!

Where are you from?

Born and raised in colorful Colorado!

How do you come up with the titles?

This is a blessing to me…they are just there in my head!

Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?

I’ve certainly had to learn to take personal compliments! As a writer you can change people’s lives with your words. It’s powerful. Other than that I’m still doing what I love and in the middle of that I’m driving my kids around, trying to clean the house, and kicking butt in karate.  That’s the best part about being an author.  The book is out there now doing the work.

Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?

Multi-task to a fault!

When not writing, how do you relax?

I’m always writing…so I must be sleeping if I’m relaxing!

Please tell us 5 miscellaneous facts about yourself.

       

  1. I’m messy!
  2. I’d much rather be cold than hot. You can keep layering, but you can only get so naked.
  3. I’m a professional stylist and I cut my own hair.
  4. I can write backward as fast as I can write forward.
  5. I multiply by 9s on my fingers.

Thank you Bernadette Marie for being my guest this week! Looking forward to reading First Kiss!

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Blog Blizzard – Introducing Bernadette Marie – Author

I’m so excited to be hosting my very first Blog Blizzard! For the next month I will be featuring different authors. I would like to introduce Bernadette Marie. Let’s get started!

 Bernadette Marie has been an avid writer since the early age of 13, when she’d fill notebook after notebook with  stories that she’d share with her friends.  Her journey into novel writing started the summer before eighth grade when her father gave her an old typewriter.  At all times of the day and night you would find her on the back porch penning her first work, which she would continue to write for the next 22 years.

In 2007 – after marriage, filling her chronic entrepreneurial needs, and having five children – Bernadette began to write seriously with the goal of being published.  That year she wrote 12 books.  In 2009  she was contracted for her first trilogy and the published author was born.  In 2011 she (being the entrepreneur that she is) opened her own publishing house, 5 Prince Publishing, and has released contemporary titles and began the process of taking on other authors in other genres.

In 2012 Bernadette Marie found herself on the bestsellers lists of iTunes and Amazon to name a few.  Her office wall is lined with colorful PostIt notes with the titles of books she will be releasing in the very near future, with hope that they too will grace the bestsellers lists.

Bernadette spends most of her free time driving her kids to their many events.  She is also an accomplished martial artist who will earn her conditional second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do in October 2012.  An avid reader, she enjoys most, the works of Nora Roberts, Karen White, Megan Hart, to name a few. She loves to meet readers who enjoy reading contemporary romances and she always promises Happily Ever After.

www.bernadettemarie.com

www.facebook.com/authorbernadettemarie

www.authorbernadettemarie.blogspot.com

@writesromance on Twitter

info@bernadettemarie.com

       Chapter One

There was a chill in the air, even in June. Cade Carter rolled the windows up on his Porsche as he began his decent into the valley. The mountains of Colorado could deliver any unprepared traveler an array of weather to cope with, and it could change without warning in a matter of moments.

Though the higher peaks still boasted snow, he’d found the entire, long and boring trip from Green Bay, Wisconsin, to be fairly dry. Cade had considered driving his Bronco to Aspen Creek, but he’d needed the speed of the sports car and Ashley had needed it to move.

He glanced at his Rolex for the sixth time in the past half hour. He was going to be late.

Who was he kidding.  He’d had no intentions of getting to his own father’s funeral on time.  Had it not been for Ashley, he’d have blown it off all together.  But no.  The words still rang in his ears.  “You have to go.  He was your father.  He loved you.  You owe him…

Cade gripped the steering wheel tighter.  He did owe him the decency to be at his funeral, because Cade Carter had been the worst son, and he knew it.

The first sign that would alert drivers to the small town of Aspen Creek was coming up on his right.  A left would take him over the next hill to the elite ski resort town of Aspen Hills.  The road he veered down would drop him into small town hell.

As the deep groves of Aspen trees thinned he could see the small town at the bottom of the valley.  Each street was visible, the cars looked small, and the town stood there as if someone had taken a picture of it fifty years earlier, not one thing had changed.  He did see a 7-11 sign peeking above the buildings.  Corporate America had moved in. That was new. At least he’d know what the coffee tasted like.

He could see City Park in the center of town.  The grass was green.  Green’s Market had the most cars in the parking lot and Sloan’s Diner must have just finished with their lunch crowd.

Aspen Creek rolled along the sides of town and under the Rose Bridge. It was fast, unforgiving, and cold all year long.  He’d had his share of dunks in that water, some on purpose, some not. Beyond the bridge and the white rapids of the river that rushed through town with its new melt off he could see the street where he’d grown up, where his father had lived, and where he’d fallen in love as a young boy.

Cade pulled the car to the shoulder of the narrow road and slammed it into park.  He lifted his sunglasses from his eyes and rubbed them.  He hadn’t been back to Aspen Creek in twelve years.  Long had been forgotten the sentiments of home, like people knowing your name, and not because you were some famous football player, but because you were Austin Carter’s son. High school football games, swimming in Aspen Creek, and the girl next door were things a man forgot about when he was an M.V.P.

He blew out a long, ragged breath. The comforts of a sports car were limited to the power of the engine on a man Cade’s size.  He tried to stretch his legs, but to no avail.  If he didn’t get out and walk around soon he’d be paralyzed in the car seat.  Just another thing he deserved he supposed.  Career killing injuries were just another daily reminder that he was lucky to be alive, even if he now stood on the sidelines and basked in the glory of what used to be.

It was easy for the team to cut him loose when he was no longer able to perform. The position needed to be filled by someone younger and able to play. He was just a washed up has-been now who’d collected his payout.

Adjusting his sunglasses back on his face, he put the car back into drive.  He had demons to face and he’d better just get it over with.  Ashley was housesitting in Green Bay and Cade was expected back in three days.  He couldn’t imagine closing out his father’s life could take longer than that.

Olivia Baker sat in the cemetery alone, next to the new grave and sobbed.  The funeral had been small, but Austin had kept to himself for the past two years.  She wasn’t sure everyone had even heard he’d passed.  She wiped her eyes.  No, they all knew he’d died.  He’d died right in her arms and that had gotten the attention of the local gossips.

The casket had been lowered, the chairs had been collected, and now the only man she’d ever cherished lay beneath the mound of red Colorado soil with a spray of wilting flowers atop it.  It didn’t seem dignified enough.

Her jaw clenched when she looked at the few bouquets and sprays that still lingered near the grave.  Not one of them had Cade’s name on it.

Damn him anyway.

What kind of son didn’t even make it to the funeral of the man who raised him?  The kind like Cade Carter.

The arrogant, self-centered bastard probably had some pressing football engagement and couldn’t be bothered with his father’s passing.  Some dry-cleaners probably needed him to cut their big obnoxious grand-opening ribbon with an oversized pair of scissors, and to Cade that would have always been more important than respecting his father.

Olivia noticed she’d twisted the head off a carnation at her fingertips.  She unclasped her hands and looked beyond the new grave to the one next to it.

CONNER CARTER.

Looking at the name written in stone sent chills up her spine.  She looked away.  She wondered if anyone at all had come to that funeral.  She hadn’t.  She’d been tucked away safely in Grand Junction, again, when Conner had died.  She was sure Austin had paid to bury him and had splurged for the headstone too.  And she couldn’t help but wonder if guilt over Conner’s death had in some way contributed to Austin’s death.

Just beyond the gate to the cemetery she could hear the sound of tires on the gravel.  It didn’t phase her.  Neither did her responsibilities at the bank.  Her boss Parker Woods had told her to take her time and that was what she was doing.  She was in no condition to head back to town and act professional.

Tears streaked down her face from under her dark sunglasses, and she let them fall.

The hole in her heart from Austin’s absence ached and she wondered if she’d get over her loss.  Her son Gabe would never remember the man she adored and loved.  He’d never know how much Austin Carter cherished him and loved him.

Olivia squeezed her eyes shut tight.  Would she miss Austin everyday when she looked into Gabe’s eyes and saw the resemblance?

She wiped away the tears and then noticed that the driver of the car, which had parked in the lot had walked across the gravel and stood only a few feet from her.  She did what she could to compose herself.  After all, she owed it to Austin to be gracious and welcoming to his mourners.

Olivia pushed herself up from the ground, brushed off her black skirt, and turned toward the person standing behind her.

There was an uneasiness that settled in Cade’s gut when he saw the mound of dirt before him.  Could guilt kill a man of his stature?

The woman who had been sitting at his father’s grave stood before him, her elegant black dress covered in dust, but she didn’t seem to mind.

He swallowed hard. “Is this Austin Carter’s grave?”

The woman shook her head more in an effort to convey disgust than to signal that he was in the wrong place.  “Why did you even bother?”

“I beg your pardon.”

“Why show up now, Cade?  You couldn’t even give him the decency of being here on time?”

“I…” he had no answers.  Besides who was she to be criticizing him?

Cade examined the lean, yet curvy woman in the well-worn dress who stood before him. Her hair was pulled back and dark glasses covered her eyes.  Little gold bands adorned each of her ring fingers, so she could have been someone’s wife.  Hell, he’d grown up in the town, maybe he did know her.  But still, what he did to get the funeral on time, or not, was not her concern.

“I guess you know me.  Who might you be?”

The woman opened her mouth, and then shut it again.  Instead of answering she picked her purse up off the ground and searched inside.  She pulled out a business card and handed it to him.  “I’m the one in charge of closing out your father’s estate.”

With that, she started off to the parking lot and he watched.  Back in town five minutes and he was already pissing off the women there.

He ran his hand over the back of his neck and looked at the card as the woman sped away down the hill toward town.

Olivia Baker, Vice President Aspen Creek Bank.

His head shot back up and the air in his lungs escaped him.

A man could drive into town, and the girl next door, whom he’d fallen in love with as a child, could hand him a card with her name on it and he didn’t even recognize her.

Suddenly the aches and pains in his leg, from his brush with death, didn’t hurt as bad when he was faced with a woman scorned and a week in small town hell.