#FeatureFriday- Sullivan’s Way by Wilhelmina Stolen

***5 Prince Publishing NEW RELEASE!!!!***

Cover

Historical Romance

A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that would change the Sullivan family for generations.

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Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn’t last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.

 Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.

 Amazon     5 Prince Publishing

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Excerpt:

February 2, 1868

Sullivan Settlement, Virginia

Them Damned Confederates

Marnie Joe Sullivan, a well-bred woman of Virginian wealth, sat at the head of her father’s table. Despite her cool exterior, she felt civility’s firm grip slip and a white-hot anger coil its way up her spine. The beast threatened to burst forth in a rage of unladylike vulgarities of which the gentlemen across from her would undoubtedly recoil and offer a hideous clicking sound of disapproval from their forked tongues! No, that wouldn’t do.

“Damn it Marnie! You can’t go!” The abrasive voice manifested itself from the older man sitting across from her. He heaved one foot upward and slammed it against the smooth cherry floor of the great room. The dull clap of the heavy boot vibrated against the stone walls of the Sullivan house, “We have to wait for Lucas. He’ll be back anytime now.” The stub from his missing first finger wiggled uncontrollably as he ran his gnarled fingers over his thinning, silver hair, creating a wild mess. The missing digit was Ike Ritchie’s trophy for his victorious fight in the Battle of Buena Vista in ’47, “Your Pa was crazy for going to Silver Creek!”

With an unwavering face of authority, Marnie lifted her chin and leveled her gaze. A delicate blush of pink rushed over both cheeks, “My Pa is not crazy! He’s grieving.” Her small fingers anxiously examined the delicate embroidery of her handkerchief as her eyes burned into Ike with disapproval. The midnight black of her silk dress couldn’t quench the green fire that raged in her eyes. Since her mother’s death, Marnie had adorned black in every sense of the word, her soul, her spirit, and her will were all shaded black by that day, but not today. Today was a day of action!

An indignant “humph” escaped the edge of her full lips. As if being prompted by the sound, a petite black woman stepped from the hall and stood with folded hands as they waited for their guests to arrive, her slate stare burning relentlessly into Marnie. Yes, yes, I know, Tillie! Ladies always remain calm! As leaders from the settlement below entered the room one by one, Marnie took a deep breath that generated a small look of understanding and approval from the housekeeper.

Marnie’s skin itched and burned from the laces of her corset, causing her to shift in her seat. Thanks to Tillie’s diligent efforts, she was presentable. It infuriated Marnie to know that over half the morning had been devoted to tying, lacing and buttoning her unmentionables just so she might look presentable to the men in front of her. In the time it had taken Tillie to carefully style her unruly blonde hair into the neatly formed chignon, she could have been half-way to Silver Creek. This is ridiculous! I don’t need their help! Will Roark, Louis Porter, and Charlie Wilcox, represented only a handful of families that homesteaded on her father’s land. The men had taken council at this house since Marnie had donned pigtails and played with dolls. They weren’t use to answering to anyone but her father, “Thank you all for coming on such short notice.”

Will looked confused, “Marnie, I don’t know what we could possibly do to help your Pa.”

Ike eased forward and rested his elbows on the table, “Marnie thought you gentlemen might accompany us into Silver Creek.”

Charlie frowned, “Why would we do that?”

“To help me break Papa from jail.” Marnie said hopefully.

Her statement provoked a laugh from Louis, “You want us to help you stage a jailbreak?” He glanced at the other men, “Is she serious?”

“I don’t find anything funny about it. It is possible.” Their snide smiles added to her frustration, “If we go in after dark, there’ll be only one or two guards.”

“That’s insane!” Louis interjected.

“No, it’s not!” With her fists clinched tightly at her side, she demanded an answer, “How can you sit there and do nothing to save him?” Their silence infuriated her. They weren’t taking her father’s capture seriously. “Papa’s been rotting in that jail for three days and God only knows how long Lucas will be gone!” It had been two days since her adopted brother, Lucas, set out for Richmond to find her Uncle, and Marnie’s confidence in the law and Maxwell Richardson was diminishing, “I haven’t seen my Uncle Max in years. How can we be sure he’ll even help Papa?”

“Maxwell won’t think twice about it.” With a dismissive hand, Ike waved her fears aside, “Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if old Maxwell dynamited the jail himself to free your Pa!”

It was because of her father’s selfish act that she sat like a plucked turkey, stitched and tied for the presentation at hand. Her father, Daniel Sullivan never left anything to coincidence. Why had he allowed himself to get caught by the law in Silver Creek? Haven’t I dealt with enough tragedy? Less than a year ago her mother lay lifeless on the floor as Marnie and her sister were ripped from their home and taken for ransom.

Tight lips controlled Marnie’s words. She lifted her chin and fought to steady her breathing. Back straight, shoulders square, you’re a Sullivan, baby girl! Her father’s voice echoed in her mind and unconsciously her posture straightened. Defiance rushed through her as the authority in her eyes demanded attention from each man.

“We can’t wait! Are you going to help me or not?” Marnie gave the table a single strike with her fist, “Someone answer me! My father gave you a roof over your head, and never asked for anything in return. Without his help, none of you would have anything. If Talon Dougal hangs Papa, nothing will prevent him from taking the mountain and everything around it!”

Louis adjusted his collar, “Marnie, we’re all concerned about your father, but he knew not to go. He was safe here. He knew if he went to town he would risk getting caught.”

“We could protect him here, but not in Silver Creek. Hell! We could be hanged right along with him!” Will shouted and Charlie nodded.

Ike agreed, “They’re right, Marnie.”

Twenty-five years ago, through dense forests and jagged rocks, her father carved out a life for not only his family, but for the families in the valley below. Now when he needed them, they cowered in fear like children, “So it will be the same as before? He needed you last year and you didn’t lift a hand to help him. You all wanted to run and hide.” She tapped the table with a finger, discarding the truth for her cause. The people around her father’s table were loyal, but fear made her desperate.

“Now wait just a damn minute little girl!” Her accusations brought Ike up out of his seat. In his younger day, he’d been a boxer, broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hip. Legend of the “Fists of Fury” spread through Texas like wildfire. Even now, his withered frame towered above Marnie. When his expression changed, she braced herself, “You seem to forget I was riding right alongside your Pa when them damned Confederates took you girls, and I helped him bury your Ma!” He shifted his weight from one leg to the other in agitation, “So don’t you go lecturing me about helping spring your Pa from jail!”

The outburst sent a silence over the men. Ike shook his head, “I’m sorry Marnie. I know you miss your ma, but−” Marnie watched him rub his furrowed face and produce a tender smile, “you girls, feel like you was my own and I don’t want to see ya get hurt.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, “We’ll wait for Lucas.” he instructed softly.

Marnie’s head shook feverishly, “We can’t wait. They could hang him at any time. Lucas might persuade the Governor to intervene in the charges against Papa, but Talon is a coward. He won’t wait for a judge or jury.” Marnie forced a wave of moving tears as she let out an, “Oh!” and pushed the handkerchief against her nose. She sniffed and dropped her head. Papa’s running out of time!

Ike eased down in a chair beside her, “Look Marnie, we can’t just go into the jail and ask for the key. He’s a wanted criminal, they’ll be guarding him close.”

“I won’t be moved by tears young lady.” Will interrupted Ike’s careful words, “I’d give my life for Daniel, but our actions have to be thought through. We wait.”

The firmness of Will’s words stilled her tears. I knew it! They’re not going to help me. Marnie refused to lose the fight. She calmed herself and raised her head, “I’m sorry, you’re right.” Her head nodded slightly in agreement and then bent forward with humility, “I know without your loyalty Papa would have been caught a long time ago, and Callie and I would probably be dead.” When she met Ike’s concerned face, the storm in her green eyes cleared, and a crafty smile eased its way onto her pouty lips, “Forgive me.” Her voice was soft, “I’m just scared.  I had to try.”

Ike cocked one bushy eyebrow upward and sighed, “Well girl, Lucas will be back from Richmond tomorrow.”

A half an hour later Marnie walked the last remaining man to the door. Ike shifted awkwardly and moved towards her. When the others had gone, he called Marnie by her childhood name, “Joe, in nineteen years I ain’t never seen you give into a fight. I saw them green eyes clear, and that means one thing. You’re up to something!”

 ####

authorAbout the Author: 

Wilhelmina Stolen is the pseudonym for romance writer, Shannon Hayes. Shannon is a native of Kentucky and makes her home in a small southern town close to the Tennessee line. During her adolescence, her mother’s free spirited nature became restless causing the family to embark on a slew of adventurous moves across the country. The moves provoked a hunger for adventure and romance and introduced her to a wonderful world of history and beauty.

As with most writers, her stories began at an early age with long sessions of seclusion and secrecy. While her classmates and friends were outside playing, Shannon was locked away in her room hammering out ideas on an old 1940’s Royal typewriter.

After finding Mr. Right, Shannon found herself wanting the comfort and security of the small Kentucky town she longed to escape as a child. Fortune smiled upon her and she became the family historian; gathering pictures, wills, marriage certificates and everything else that somehow managed to fall into her lap. Stories flooded her mind and writing quickly became an obsession that turned into the Way of Hearts Saga. The saga spans six generations and three families.

Shannon holds an Associates in Applied Science in Technology, a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Management as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership. Visit her author page at www.wilhelminastolen.com to learn more about the saga.

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Wattpad

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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#GuestPost- 5 Things Interracial Couples Can Do to Make their Relationship Work + Giveaway by Roxy Wilson

Interracial Couple- Via Getty Images

Getty Images

Happy New Year, MJ.  It’s good to be visiting with you and your readers, today.  Like the rest of your fans, I’m eagerly anticipating your third book in the Butterfly Memoirs.

It’s interesting that about a year ago, I had the privilege and pleasure of reading and reviewing Jaded (click here to read my review).  Incidentally, Zach made it to Roxy’s Top Ten Heroes for 2013.

I’m an avid reader, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that since I enjoyed Jaded, I checked out MJ’s backlist, 1-clicked, and read A Heart Not Easily Broken.  Brian and Ebony’s story was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming and I rooted for them all the way to the end of their journey, at least the journey within the confines of the pages of the book.

For those who may not know this, Brian and Ebony are an interracial couple, not unlike Blake and Sloane in my newly released novel, the Right Kind of Love.  Just like Brian and Ebony, Blake and Sloane had their troubles as a couple, wrestling with negativity from kith and kin.  They are fictional characters, but in real life, interracial dating and marriage are becoming as common as apple pie.  Does it mean, therefore, that this trend is more socially acceptable?  Sadly, it’s not always the case.

Many times, what we see depicted on TV and at the cinema is a reflection of what‘s happening in our community and the rest of the world. When it comes to interracial courtship and marriage, some shows deserve an honorable mention.  Take, for instance, Guest Who’s Coming to Dinner.  This movie highlights the disparity between what we say and what we do.  Joey Drayton’s parents raised her to treat all men, regardless of their race, as equals, but when she introduced them to her fiancé, Dr. Prentice, their true colors shone through.

What’s more, Tom and Helen Willis, the interracial couple in the sitcom, the Jeffersons, often bore the brunt of George Jefferson’s insults, which he dished out week after week. Many an episode featured Jefferson poking fun at the couple, whom he called ‘chocolate and vanilla’ or ‘zebra’.

Hmmm…  Thirty-one seconds.  That is the duration of the Cheerios commercial which first aired less than a year ago.  However, not long after it was broadcasted, the YouTube page was bombarded with many racist comments.  Why?  It was because Cheerios depicted an interracial family.   Eventually, YouTube had to shut down the comments section.

**Click to view the Cheerios commercial**

Moreover, many people are completely obsessed with Scandal, the TV series, because of Olivia’s sense of style, Shonda Rhimes’s inventive use of cliff-hangers, the dirty politics, the music, the dialogue, the sizzling sexual chemistry between Olivia and Fitz… Okay, you get the picture!  Nonetheless, there are others who hate the show!  Much of their angst revolves around the fact that, not only are Fitz and Olivia having a torrid affair, but also because Olivia is a black woman, who chooses a white man. Say, what?  “Isn’t Olivia the epitome of independence and ingenuity?  Isn’t she a 21st century woman? Then why does she seem content to be the President’s side piece, the other woman?” some ask, by way of seeking confirmation.  To many of them, her relationship with the President is reminiscent of the cruel system of plantation slavery, when white slave masters took their black slaves as mistresses.  Hmmm…

Though interracial relationships have increased significantly, in recent times, it’s obvious that many people who date and/or marry outside of their race face a number of challenges.  But how can they conquer them?  I believe there are five things they can do:

  1. Respect each others’ culture and traditions.  Life can be stressful, so couples ought to use their differences to learn from each other, laugh with each other, and cement their love for each other.
  2. Keep away from toxic people who are hell-bent on destroying the relationship.  Let’s face it; there will be haters out there.  However, the couple should not allow them to steal their joy.
  3. Remember to reflect and rejuvenate.  Yes, all couples experience trials and tribulations, but interracial couples may have to face a greater number of them, than same-race couples.  However, they shouldn’t think that every problem encountered is as a result of the fact that they are of different races.  They need to take the time to talk about what’s hurting them, and implement those measures which will allow them to heal.
  4.   Stay focused.  Even if the couple’s family or closest friends are ambivalent about them dating or marrying interracially, they need to let them know where their loyalties lie.  They shouldn’t allow anyone to persuade or intimidate or lambaste them because of their decision.  If they’re married, their spouse should come first.
  5. Acknowledge the blessing.  Think about how the blending of both cultures increases the couples’ knowledge, makes them more tolerant of other people’s perspectives, helps to improve their attitude, and deepens their love for each other, thus, creating a unique human being. And if the couple has biological and/or adopted kids, they need to think about all the things they can pass unto them, which in the end enrich their lives.

Brian and Ebony in A Heart Not Easily Broken and Blake and Sloane in the Right Kind of Love, face some of the ordeals mentioned above. You, too, may have had the bitter taste of what it feels like to be one-half of a racially-mixed couple. Yet, just like M. J. and my fictional characters did, you can also overcome some, if not all, of these challenges with patience and perseverance.

 

Right Kind of Love

New Yorker Sloane Saunders has just about given up on love. She’s thirty-something and very single. A magazine article jolts her from her malaise and motivates her to do something she’s never tried before: online dating, and firstmeet.com is the website of choice.

Attending his brother’s bachelor party was the wake-up call Blake Morrison needed. Memories of a passionate relationship from his past drive him to return to claim his woman. Sloane. Despite the sizzling chemistry between them, it’s not as easy as he thought. With a family crisis and Sloane’s preconceived notions about love and relationships getting in the way, can Blake convince Sloane they have the right kind of love and that a love like theirs can last?

Amazon     Secret Cravings Publishing     ARe     Bookstrand

 

***Read the Excerpt then enter the contest listed below!***

Excerpt:

“Why am I doing this, again?”

Sloane stared at the matchmaking website. Firstmeet.com. It promised to make falling in love easy. Then why was her chest so tight? Why did she feel like Atlas, with the weight of the heavens on her shoulders? Were these signs that her foray into online dating could turn out to be one of the horror stories she’d heard on the news? With her luck she’d end up meeting a catfish who created a false identity and made a complete fool of her. Not in a million years would she have believed she would resort to this.

Do I really need to do this? Is it worth the risk? No. Maybe I shouldn’t bother. I should just be content living alone, and using my Hitachi Magic Wand when I feel the need for some adventure in the bedroom.

“You know what?” Sloane moved the cursor to the Log Out icon. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.” Just when she was about to click on the icon, Harper’s words came swimming up to the surface of her consciousness—Open yourself up to new possibilities, and maybe, just maybe, you might get your happily-ever-after.

Sloane lifted her eyes toward the ceiling. “Harper, you’re not even here, and you’re messing with my head.” She looked at the monitor and saw she had a million questions to answer before she completed her profile.

She inhaled a deep breath. “Okay, here goes.”

The questionnaire was exasperating. She couldn’t believe it went so far as to ask her to select what she’d do if she won the state lottery. How about all of the above? Sheesh. Sloane used the Eeny meeny miny moe rhyme to choose an answer, since all of the above wasn’t one of the options.

Twenty minutes later, Sloane completed the online form and paid the subscription fee. She took her shower and was just about to wrap the bath towel around her body, when she heard the doorbell. She wasn’t in the mood for visitors. Not when she needed to get ready to head out in a few minutes. The NHL games attracted large crowds, so everyone knew how important it was to arrive there early to get the coveted seats. Whoever was outside continued to press the doorbell, making Sloane more and more irritated by the second.

“Enough already, I’m coming,” Sloane muttered. She dried her skin briskly. Who could possibly be disturbing her peace this early on a Sunday morning? Don’t people understand the concept of weekends? It’s Sunday, for crying out loud. She rushed to her drawer and grabbed some clothing, along with her under-things. It didn’t seem as if Sloane could put her clothes on fast enough for her impatient, unwelcome guest.

By the time Sloane reached the hallway, the shrill sounds of the doorbell seemed to touch the most sensitive part of her nerves. She barely restrained herself from shoving her fist into her mouth to prevent herself from screaming. Sloane opened the door, not too gently. Belatedly, she thought how foolish it was to not check the peephole before opening the door. When she saw the man standing before her, her last-minute fear vanished.

The first thing that caught her attention was the width of his shoulders. It was one of the things about a man’s physique that got her going. Sloane believed only other full-figured women would understand the rare delight she felt in the moment, to be standing next to a man with such broad shoulders. Sloane was sure she would feel protected, and oh-so-delicate, if he wrapped his arms around her. It was a sensation she didn’t often enjoy with the opposite sex. It would feel so good to be an elf, a dainty little thing, needing protection, in his presence. Sloane mentally shook herself out of the fixation on the man’s shoulders, and allowed her eyes to track upwards.

“What the—” Her voice trailed off as she peered into cyan-blue eyes. She felt like her eyes were going to pop out of her head, as she looked into the all-too-familiar crooked, dimpled smile of the man who’d haunted her naughtiest dreams for ages.

“Blake?”

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*****ENTER THE CONTEST for a chance to win a copy of The Right Kind of Love!****

It’s simple!

Leave a comment, along with your email address, below. 
Contest ends 1/10/2014 11:59 EST!!! The winner will be contacted via email, so don’t forget to leave your email address!!!! 

About the Author: 

Roxy Wilson is a self-professed junkie whose excessive consumption of traditional and electronic books is legendary.

As a graduate with a degree in Education, she writes blogs which help readers to think critically about and appreciate poetry. In July, 2012, however, she decided to delve into the world of writing romance stories.

When she is not reading or writing, she spends her time cooking, listening to music and visiting the various islands of the Caribbean.

Website     Facebook     FB Fan Page     Goodreads     Twitter

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Family for the Holiday- A Ebony and Brian Short Story, Part 5

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Part Three- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Brian

Part Four- Christmas Day- December 25th- Ebony

Christmas Day- December 25th

Brian

 

“Merry Christmas, Brian!” my sisters sang as I entered the kitchen.

The room was filled with the aromas of Christmas dinner and sound of my sisters singing Christmas carols off key.

Andrea and Lisa assisted my mother as she finished making dinner. Caroline sat at the kitchen table, bottle feeding her newborn son. Bridget danced around everyone doing absolutely nothing, as usual, except use the wooden spoon as a microphone. In the middle of it all was my fiancée and her mother. Mrs. Campbell sat at the kitchen table nursing a cup of coffee, bewildered and amused. Ebony seemed to enjoy every minute of it.

I walked among the group and kissed them each on the cheek. To my surprise, Ebony’s mother allowed me to give her one as well. After her standoffish greeting at the airport, we had yet to have a one-on-one conversation.

Maybe her husband’s talk with me the day before won her over. Either way, I would take whatever she wanted to give.

“It smells good in here,” I said. As tempting as it was to sneak a taste of the dishes lining the kitchen island, I knew better.

“Thank you,” my mother responded.

“Do you guys mind if I borrow Ebony for a moment?”

“No,” my sisters sang.

Ebony followed me out of the kitchen and into the dining room. My mother’s fine china, used only for special occasions, sat on the table along with other decorative items used for family gatherings.

The minute we were out of sight of my nosey family, I pulled her in my arms and kissed her. “Want to sneak back outside tonight?”

Her arms went around my neck as she laughed. “I don’t know. I had a hard time sleeping last night.  It was a combination of wanting more and guilt.”

I chuckled. “Hey, you’re the one who started it. I’d rather think the wanting is what kept you up. Did you make the call?”

She nodded. “Yes, and everything has been worked out. Now we just have to make the announcement.” She inhaled deeply. “I’m not sure how they’re going to take it.”

“Neither am I, but it’s our decision.” I pulled back to so our eyes met. “You and me?”

She smiled. “Me and you.”

****

With dinner time nearing, everyone was either in the living room, kitchen, or my father’s man cave watching television. I snuck out on the back porch for a few minutes of silence. The last few days of being with my family was inspiring. My mind was in creative mode, toying with rhythms and notes to recreate the melody in my head.

Brian, can I talk to you for a minute?”

I turned to find Mrs. Campbell standing behind me

“Sure. It’s a bit chilly out here. Do you want to go inside?”

“No, here is fine.”

I waked over to the patio set and pulled out a chair for her.

“Thank you.” She sat down, tugging the edges of the shawl she wore around her shoulders a little tighter. “I can’t believe how much warmer it is here than it is back home. It’s still chilly, but at least you can walk outside without turning into a Popsicle. Weather like this will make you want to stay in California.”

“Yes, ma’am, it will. Are you enjoying your visit?”

Her attention turned to me. “Yes, I am. It’s been more than I expected.”

Not sure how to take the comment, I remained silent.

“Let me rephrase that,” she inclined her head. “You’re more than I expected.”

I thought back to conversations held with Ebony when we started dating. She told me her mother made a habit of pointing men who were ‘talk, dark, and handsome’ in her direction, playing matchmaker from afar. If anyone was thrown off by her decision to be with me, it was her mother.

“Brian, do you really love my daughter?”

I looked her in the eye. “Yes, ma’am, I do.”

“Then forgive me for asking this question, but I must. Ebony mentioned you were in a relationship with a black woman before. So I get it, this isn’t new for you, but it is for Ebony. She says she’s ready to tackle anything life throws at you, and I believe her. But I can’t help but wonder…what happened to the last woman?”

Momentarily caught off guard, I kept my mouth shut. My first instinct was to tell her it was none of her business. What happened with my previous girlfriend had nothing to do with my relationship with Ebony.

I sat back in my chair. “You think I’m trying to replace my ex with another black woman?”

Mrs. Campbell tilted her head as if studying my body language. “Are you?”

I sat forward in my chair, rested my elbows on the table, and linked my fingers. I kept my eyes trained on hers. “My feelings for Ebony have nothing to do with any woman from my past. The night we met, I wasn’t looking for any one. She caught my attention as a beautiful woman I wanted to know. Skin color, race…none of that stuff mattered. I fell in love with the woman she is. Period.

“Mrs. Campbell, I don’t take relationships lightly, nor do I play with anyone’s emotions. If you’re worried I’ll get tired of her and leave…believe me that will never happen. I’m in love with your daughter. I don’t know what else to say. And to be honest, my job is to make sure Ebony is satisfied with what we have. Outside opinions don’t matter. Not yours, your husband’s, and not my parents. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from. I mean no disrespect.”

Both of Mrs. Campbell’s eyebrows rose as she sat back in her seat, her lips pursed. A part of me wanted to apologize, but I hadn’t said anything to offend her. If anything, her question had offended me.

After years of watching my brother-in-law’s deal with my mother, I learned one thing; as the husband, there were times your foot had to be put down in order to gain the respect of your wife’s mother. Since I wasn’t the one Mrs. Campbell selected for her daughter, I had to make her see me for who I really am: the man who loves her daughter and the father of her future grandkids.

“I know my daughter, Brian; it takes a lot to win her heart, especially if she’s got her mind set on reaching a goal. She would have moved back home a long time ago if it weren’t for the job opportunities in front of her. Can you promise me that you will continue to make her happy and support her, not just financially, but emotionally?”

“Until the day I die.”

She nodded slowly. “Then there’s only one thing I can say,” she rose from her seat, walked over to where I sat, and opened her arms wide. “Welcome to the family. And you can call me Mom.”

****

 “I am stuffed!” Ebony pushed back from the table, both hands on her belly.

I looked over at her plate; there was food left. “Are you going to eat that?” I pointed to the stuffing and cranberry sauce.

“Have at it.” She pushed her plate over and I devoured the remains. There was nothing like my mother’s homemade stuffing.

“Where on earth do you put all of that food? If I ate like you do, my hips would spread.”

I swallowed, then followed it up with the soda sitting in front of me. It was the only thing that had not received a re-fill since dinner was served. “I burn it off. And don’t worry, if it goes to your hips, I’ll help you get rid of the calories.” I winked; she laughed.

“It seems like everyone is nearly done. Are you ready?” she asked.

I held up a finger and ate the last of the dressing.

As I chewed, my gaze went around the table. Nearly everyone was here. My parents, her parents, my sisters and their husbands, and my grandparents, which was a blessing. All six of the grandkids were seated at the table in the kitchen.

I wiped my mouth on a napkin, then picked up my glass and tapped the side with my fork. “Excuse me everyone, can I have your attention?” I stood as everyone quieted down.

Ebony stood, too.

“First of all, I’d like to say thank you to the wonderful hands that prepared this evenings meal,” I rubbed my belly as everyone murmured their appreciation. “And to anyone who is unable to finish their plates, I have containers with my name on them in the kitchen. No doggie bags will be allowed to leave the premises.” Laughter erupted; I waited for it to die down.

When it did, I reached for Ebony’s hand and kissed it. “This year, we have had the pleasure of having new guest join us. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, and my beautiful fiancée, Ebony.”

“Thank you for having us,” Mrs. Campbell said.

My parents raised their cups and saluted them.

“I appreciate you guys welcoming my soon-to-be in-laws into our family. I know every Christmas won’t be celebrated this way, but this was a great start to our future. I can’t tell you how much Ebony and I appreciate your continued support.  With that said, we have an announcement.”

I turned to Ebony, but didn’t miss the anticipation on the faces of every woman in the room.

“For the past three days, Brian and I have received advice about love and marriage, even kids,” Ebony laughed; I chuckled. “Between our parents, that over sixty years of experience. We love you for it.”

Around us, my sisters and their spouses’ clapped in agreement.

“And with that said, we’ve decided on a date for the wedding. April 5th!”

More clapping and cheering.

“And…,” she gripped my hand for reassurance as the din called down, “we’ve decided on a location. Mom,” she looked at my mother, “and Mom,” she addressed her mother, holding her gaze. “We talked about the locations you suggested, but have decided to do this our way. Our wedding will be held at the Phillips Family Inn. They have several beautiful rooms that will be perfect for the ceremony and reception. There’s also a spacious garden that will be perfect for pictures. We chose this location because it is significant to us. We built memories there and want to add one more; our wedding day. We hope you guys understand and respect our decision.”

There was a moment of silence as our mothers looked at each other across the table.

“If this is what you want, Ebony, then I’m happy. I’ll buy our tickets for the flight out as soon as we get home,” her mother said.

“I agree. Whatever you need, let me know. I’m sure Anita and I can coordinate over the phone or Skype, or whatever! Isn’t that what technology is for?” my mom added.

Both of our mothers got up from the table to hug us.

“Dad’s, I could use some help footing the bill,” I said and received hearty laughs from both men.

My niece, Hannah, tugged on my arm. “Hey, Uncle Brian, can you play us a song?”

“That would be great!” Ebony said. “I’d love for my parents to hear you play.”

“Well, it is tradition for us to sit down after dinner and sing a few Christmas carols. Let me get my guitar.”

Before long, everyone was squeezed into the living room. The children were on the floor, while the adults sat in every available seat, including chairs brought out of the dining room.

I took my customary place in front of the fire place while Ebony sat with her parents. I played a few carols we loved to sing, laughing at the off key notes sang by my sisters, some of it done intentionally. All the while, the notes that had been playing around in my head since before dinner came to mind.

“I’ve got one last song to play. It’s my Christmas gift to all of you.” I announced. “It’s a bit different and there are no lyrics, because honestly, I just made this up. It was inspired by my crazy, loving, and sometimes annoying family. I wouldn’t trade you guys for a thing. And this is also for you, my new family.” Across the room, Ebony and her parents smiled.

I closed my eyes and let the notes flow from me to the strings, humming the melody as I remembered Christmases past and revisited the conversations had with my future family.

Most of all, I thought of the love I had for Ebony and the un-known future lying ahead of us.

When the song ended, the room was silent. I opened my eyes to see my mother wiping tears while my father smiled, full of pride. Ebony’s mother had a hand over her mouth, while beside her, her husband nodded in appreciation.

Ebony walked towards me. “Brian, that has to be the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard you play. Thank you.” She threw her arms around my neck and kissed me.

Around us, our family clapped.

“Merry Christmas, baby,” Ebony whispered.

“Merry Christmas, to you, too.”

The End

####

Thank you for taking this journey with Ebony and Brian, I hope you enjoyed this brief peek back into their lives as much as I did writing it!

If you love The Butterfly Memoirs and would like to stay in the loop of what’s coming next, please sign up for the monthly newsletter. And above all, tell a friend! If you’ve read A Heart Not Easily Broken or Jaded, take a moment to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Your thoughts and opinions go a long way and are much appreciated. 🙂

The next book in the series, Lonely Heart, will be available March 6, 2014, so mark you book buying calendars! Sample Sunday excerpts will be starting in a few weeks so be sure to follow the blog as well!

Stay safe, Happy Reading, and Happy New Year!!!!  

MJ

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

 

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Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story, Part 4

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Part Three- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Brian

Christmas Eve: December 24th, Part 4

Ebony

 

“Ebony, baby, wake up.”

I awakened in the dark room to find Brian looming over the bed, his blond hair illuminated by the light streaming through the bedroom window. “What time is it?” I rubbed my eyes. After a day spent shopping and preparing for tomorrow’s activities with my mother and Mrs. Young, I was exhausted.

“Nearly midnight. You were supposed to meet me outside ten minutes ago.”

The mattress lowed on one side of the bed as Brian sat down. I reached out and rested a hand on his thigh. I wanted him to crawl in-between the sheets with me and talk in bed. But I knew my man. Talking would lead to cuddling which would lead to kissing and end in sex. I had no problem with all three activities, but his mother’s rules about un-married couples sleeping together in her house were finite. I was not about to break them.

“Are you sure we can’t talk here? It’s warm and I’m comfortable.” I put on my best smile, but it was no use; he couldn’t see it in the dark.

“Don’t tempt me.” He ran his finders along my hand. “Let’s go, I promise you’ll be comfortable. Be sure to grab a jacket.” He stood and offered his hand.

I still wore my clothes from earlier in the day in preparation for our late night rendezvous. I shoved off the sheets, got out of bed, and slipped on my tennis shoes.

Our fingers linked, I followed Brian into the hall, tiptoeing past the guest room where my parents slept, and his parents’ master bedroom. The lights in both rooms were off, but a faint blue glow ran underneath his parents’ door.

“They sleep with the television on,” he whispered.

We crept slowly down the steps.

“Follow my lead, step where I step,” he instructed.

I nodded and did as I was told; only missing one spot. The creak of that step sounded like a gunshot in a quiet room. We froze; no doors opened. I suppressed a giggle while Brian stifled a laugh.

We made our way through the dark house and out of the sliding-glass door in the kitchen. Instead of stopping at the patio table and chairs on the back porch, Brian retrieved a flashlight from the railing and led me across the backyard.

I looked at the newly built gazebo. “We’re not going there?”

“No. We need privacy. If they wake up and look outside, they’ll see us. We’re headed for the treehouse.” Brian handed me the flashlight and lowered the rope steps. He reached for the light, stuck it between his teeth, and climbed.

I inclined my head and watched. When he reached the top, he looked down. “Come on.”

“I must be crazy,” I murmured, testing the rope to be sure it would support my weight. “If I fall on my ass I’m kicking yours,” I said, loud enough for him to hear.

When I reached the top, I crawled through a small door into a room that was big enough for us to sit facing each other. The flashlight sat on its flat base, the light reflecting off the ceiling and bouncing off the wooden walls. I wiped my hands on my jeans and looked around. Pictures, drawings, and posters lined the walls while a box filled with a variety of toys sat in the corner.

“My father and I built this when I was eight. Now my niece and nephews play here when they come to visit.” He chuckled. “You know, my sisters used to sneak out of the house late at night to make out with their boyfriends when our parents were asleep.”

I laughed. “I assume you did, too.”

His lopsided grin I loved so much appeared. “Of course.”

I shook my head, trying to ignore the green-eyed monster of jealously. It wasn’t often that I thought about the women from his past.

“Don’t worry, I never got past second base with anyone up here,” his eyes turned mischievous. “I’d love to do it with you, though.”

I covered my mouth and laughed. “But your mother’s rule─”

“Only applies inside the house. We’re outside.” He wagged his eyebrows, then reached into a box beside him. “And, I’ve come prepared.” He pulled out candles and a lighter. A large blanket, a small bottle of wine, and plastic cups followed.

Brian always had a way of bending rules to meet his needs. My heart warmed. “When did you have time to do this?”

“When no one was looking.”

We maneuvered around the small space and lay the blanket down. I held the candles while he lit them; he held the cups as I poured the wine.

“This is perfect,” I said after sipping the chilled liquid. “I thought today would never end. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I’ve missed being with you.”

“I missed you, too,” he said, settling against the opposite wall. “So, what went on with you guys?”

I sighed. “In a nutshell? I was told we don’t need to drag our feet with starting a family. Oh, and deciding where to have our wedding is going to be a pain in our backsides.”

Brian lifted his head from the wall. “What?”

I nodded, sipped again. “You heard me. Apparently waiting a few years to have kids is going to make us ancient by the time they get to be teenagers.”

Brian laughed. “Which one of our mothers said that?”

“Both.”

He cringed. “Yikes. And the wedding?”

“Remember when I told you the last time my mother assumed I was getting married she started planning the event?”

“Yes.”

“She informed me she’s already talked to the pastor back home and has the church reserved. All she needs is the date.”

His eyebrows went up. “Okay…”

“Oh, that’s not the half of it. Your mom insisted the church your sisters were married in is the perfect location, especially since your family is so big.”

He whistled. “What did you say?”

“Nothing other than we haven’t decided on a date yet.”

Brian shook his head.

“How was the ride with my dad?”

Brian’s brow rose as he looked down at his near empty cup. “Enlightening and informative.”

It was my turn to look confused. “How so?”

“Do you want the long or short version?”

“Short, that’s all I think I can handle.” I emptied my cup and reached for the bottle.

“He admitted he had reservations about me being white, but said since meeting me and my family, he’s happy if you’re happy.”

“Hey, that’s great news!” Then I realized Brian wasn’t exactly smiling. “Did I miss something?”

His eyes turned intense when what he was about to say was important. “Can I ask you a question? I need you to be honest.”

“Always.” I gave him my undivided attention.

“Your father made some good points about what it takes for a man to support his family. It’s funny, even he mentioned kids.”

I nearly choked on my wine. “You’re kidding.”

He shook his head. “Nope, I got family advice, too, the practical side that is. He made me think about something I haven’t considered before. With both of us determined to see our careers grow, what happens if get you get pregnant before we’ve reached them?”

Instinctively, my hand went to my belly. His eyes followed.

“Would you want to go right back to work, or would you prefer to stay home?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. After talking to my sister, I know daycare can be expensive, and I don’t like the idea of someone else raising my child during the day.”

“Neither do I. But what if we needed the money?”

That was a sobering thought. “What are you saying, Brian?”

He took a deep breath. “I’m saying…maybe I should cut back on the music and focus on building my business. It was a way to supplement my income while I focused on my career. It worked when it was just me, but now…,” he looked down at his cup. “The business has grown over the last few months. If I focus on it, with my cousins help, I can make it into more. We’ll need that type of stability in the future. I can make a decent living off my contract with the studio and playing gigs. The major money is in touring, but I’m not about to go down that path again. The last time was…,”he looked away. “I’m not leaving you like that again, especially if we have a child.”

“Brian, are you saying you’re going to give up everything you’ve worked for because of something my father said?”

He scooted around, as if suddenly uncomfortable with the thought. “I want to provide a good life for you, for us. You’re about to be my wife and─”

“And I want you to be happy about it.” I set my cup down and moved closer to where he sat. His eyes were cast down. I lifted his head until our eyes connected. “Can you honestly say you’d be happy if you put your dream aside?”

I gazed into the cerulean eyes I loved and saw him at war with himself, trying to make himself say something I knew he wouldn’t believe.

“No,” he admitted.

“Then don’t walk away from what makes you happy. That’s like asking me to quite school and give up on becoming a veterinarian because I was pregnant. Not about to happen. I’m this close,” I held up two fingers in demonstration, “this close to earning the degree it took eight years to get. Walking away now would be throwing away eight years of my life. The same for you. You’ve got talent like I’ve never seen before, and you are good at what you do. There’s nothing worse in life than giving up something you love. You’d be miserable, and for what? I’m not pregnant. We have time. I don’t want you regretting our relationship because my father is making you doubt your career. I’m happy with you and your career…now and in the future. What happens next is our decision. Where we work…where we get married…when we start our family.” I swallowed hard, forcing the lump I felt in the back of my throat to go away. If I wasn’t careful, tears would follow.

“Your right.” He pulled my hand that rested on his check to his lips, and kissed my ring finger. Then he chuckled. “And to think, a month ago, we were worried your parents wouldn’t support our relationship. Now we’ve got support, but it’s the real life issues that are stressing us out.”

“Tell me about it.” I settled into his embrace as he pulled me next to him. “What are we going to do about the wedding? Tomorrow is Christmas Day and your entire family will be here. They’re going to expect us to announce a date.”

Brian kissed my forehead. “You’re right. You know, we could always do like my cousin and run off to Vegas. We could sneak away for the weekend, then Skype everyone with the good news.”

I laughed. “Don’t tempt me. I say we don’t worry about what our mothers want. It’s us getting married. Why don’t we find someplace neutral?”

Brian nodded. “I like the way you think. Got someplace in mind?”

“The perfect place. I’ll need to make a call in the morning. What time is it anyway?”

Brian dug his phone out of his pocket. “Damn, it’s way past midnight.”

“Christmas morning?”

He nodded.

“You do realize this is our first Christmas together.” I let a seductive smile play across my lips and saw his eyes light up in response.

His focus went to my mouth as the deviousness I loved came out to play. “Indeed. What are you thinking?”

I scooted away from him and settled down on the blanket. It wasn’t a bed, but it could work.

“I’m thinking we celebrate early. We may not be in our house, but I’m sure I can knock out the memory of Betty Sue or Sara-what’s-her-name who wouldn’t let you get past second base.” I beckoned him over with the crock of my finger.

Brian laughed, put his cup down, and moved the lit candles out of the way. He settled in the space of my open legs, resting his elbows on either side of my head. “You know, I think your right.”

Our lips fused together as my hands dug deep into the blond waves of his hair. The feel of my son-to-be-husband’s body pressed against mine would never get old. I pushed all thought and worry about family aside and focused on what was important…the here and now. The love that we shared. The future we were building.

Now all I had to do was keep from moaning too loud. The neighbors had dogs. No need to wake up the entire neighborhood.

Brian’s mouth left mine and traveled the expanse of my throat. In-between kisses he said, “I love you.”

I sighed. “I love you, too.”

#####

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion, Part 5!

 

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 3

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Christmas Eve- Part 3

Brian

 

My father jumped out of his recliner as his favorite football team scored. “Go, go, go….yes! See, Brian, I told you! Pay up!”

Beside me, my future father-in-law shook his head. “That was just luck.” He dug into his wallet and pulled out the money to pay his debt.

“No, that was an athlete who knows how to play the game,” Dad said, laughing as he collected his winnings.

I dug into my pocket and gave my dad a dollar before glancing at Clarence. He appeared calm, even though his team was losing. The good-natured bets going back and forth between us was an easy way to study the temperament of my future father-in-law. After last night’s handshake, I was still on edge.

He sipped his beer and studied my father’s movie posters on the wall during the commercial break. “Nice man cave you’ve got here, Winfred. I’ve tried to get Anita to let me have one inside the house.” He shook his head. “You’d think after thirty years of paying the mortgage I would have earned a room. Instead, I got pushed out to the garage.”

Both men laughed.

“What we won’t do for the women we love, eh?” My dad supplied.

Clarence raised his bottle. “Here, here.”

Both men looked at me. I held my bottle up in agreement then gulped.

A soft knock on the door drew everyone’s attention. Ebony peeked into the room. “Excuse me, Brian, your mom would like you to run to the store before they close.” She held up a sheet of paper.

I tried to hide my relief. “Sure.”

If I was lucky, Ebony would be able to sneak away with me. After my mother’s invitation to spend the week at the house with everyone else, Ebony and I had gone to our respective homes and grabbed enough clothes for the week. Our original plan had been to spend the rest of the holiday at our new home.

Three weeks had passed since we signed the lease. Ebony came by periodically to help unpack and set things up. A few of her personal items had made their way over. Her official move-in date was a few days after Christmas. Regardless, my attempt to convince her to spend at least one night at our new home and come back in the morning hadn’t worked. She insisted on not disappointing our parents. In the end, not only had I slept alone, I slept in my childhood bed.

My mother insisted we sleep in separate rooms because we weren’t married. She knew we had sex, but my parents were old fashioned. ‘Unwed? No sex in my beds!’ was her motto.

Imagining my fiancée sleeping down the hall in addition to the intimidation of being in the same room with her father made a good night’s sleep hard to come by.

I joined Ebony in the hallway. “How are things in the kitchen?”

She walked over, slipped her arms around my waist, and laid her head against my chest. “Up until twenty minutes ago, fine.”

I caught the change in her voice; she was no longer as excited as she’d been at breakfast.

In need of physical connection as much as she apparently did, I held her tight. “What happened? Is everything okay?”

Before she could reply, I heard the door to the man-cave open behind me.

“Hey, Brian, do you mind if I ride with you? I could use a bit of fresh air.”

Clarence’s booming voice forced me to jump away from Ebony as if we were teenagers caught red handed. My back was turned to him so he couldn’t see my initial cringe as I squeezed my eyes shut.  “Sure. I’ll be ready to leave in five minutes.”

“Let me grab my shoes.” Clarence walked by me, stopped at Ebony, who’d stepped away from me, and kissed her cheek before heading for the stairs.

Ebony watched as he disappeared, then turned to me. “I saw that look. Things aren’t going well in there either?”

I shrugged. “They’re getting along fine. Men are easy. Beer, sports, everything is all good.”

She cocked her head to the side, studying me. “What about you?”

“I’m hanging in there.” It was my turn to study her. “How about you? You guys seem to be getting along great. We can hear the laughter over the T.V.”

Ebony ran a hand over her head. “Woman can be touchy, especially when the subject of weddings and babies comes up.” She shuttered.

I was about to ask for details when I heard her father’s heavy footfalls on the stairs. I kissed her quick. “We’ll talk tonight after everyone goes to bed, okay?”

“Sounds like a plan. Be safe.” She kissed me again and headed for the kitchen.

“Ready to go?” Clarence said.

“Yes, sir.”

***

We were in my truck, merging into the main street traffic when Clarence spoke.

“Brian, I have to be honest. When my daughter told us she’d been dating a white man and that you were engaged, I had my reservations. Even after she told us about what you’ve done for her, I still was wary. Things were different when my wife and I got married, but times have changed. We raised our children to be open-minded, loving, and honest individuals. As a father, it’s hard to imagine your little girls growing up and being involved with a man. You worry about how well they’ll be treated and if the guy really loves them…” His voice drifted off as if in remembering something.  “Then one day they say, ‘Pop, I’m getting married.’” You learn to handle it and move on, but it’s never easy.

“Ebony has always been strong minded, hard-headed, and determined to have what she wants. Ever since she was a little girl.” He chuckled. “I can’t tell you how many times she almost gave her mother a heart attack by bringing injured animals home and hiding them in the garage.”

I smiled, trying to picture Ebony doing those things. Then I felt Clarence staring at me. My smile dropped.

“You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve come off as rude. With everything my daughter has told us over the last few weeks, it was quite a shocker. What happened to her…what you did…the engagement…that was a lot of information to process at one time.”

“And the fact that I’m white.” I glanced over in time to see him crack a small smile and nod.

“And there’s that. Can’t lie and say we weren’t shocked.”

I braced myself for what he was about to say next.

“But since meeting you and your family, I can understand why she loves you. You’re a good man and come from a good family.”

My mouth fell open. I risked a glance as I drove to make sure I hadn’t heard incorrectly.

Clarence watched me, an enormous smile on his face.

“Thank you, sir,” I stammered.

His thunderous laugh reverberated in the car. “You were scared, huh? I must say, you did better than my other son-in-law. Poor boy nearly pissed his pants the first time he met me, and he’s black.”

I found myself laughing. “Well, I didn’t have problems with my bodily functions, but my hand still aches.”

“Sorry about that. I hope it’s not one you play with.”

I shook my head. “It’s fine. I’ve done a lot worse. When I first met Ebony, I did yard maintenance for a living. There were numerous times when I had cuts and bruises on my hands and had to go to the club to play that night. Professionals learn to do what you must for the show to go on.”

He nodded. “True. Which is what I want to talk to you about.”

Something about his words set me on edge. “What’s on your mind, sir?”

“You can call me Clarence, or Dad, whichever one you’re comfortable with.” He watched me nod. “My daughter comes from a family of hard workers. You’ve seen it for yourself. She’s worked hard to get where she is in her career.”

“Yes, sir. I support her with anything she wants to do. That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with her.” I watched him nod with my peripheral vision.

“So I’ve heard. I understand you have a pretty good work ethic, too. You’re a musician and own your own business. How do you balance the two?”

“I’ve got family; my cousins are running the business for now. I join in when I have time. But working for the record company pays well, too.”

“How long do you plan on staying there?”

“Excuse me?” I gave him my full attention when we reached a red light.

“Musicians tend to move from job to job. It’s not like working for a corporation that pays for your health insurance and gives you a 401K. There’s no retirement fund. What happens when Ebony gets pregnant and you guys need a bigger place? What about when you have a second or third kid? Life won’t get easier. I know my daughter is going to get the job at the zoo she wants, but how long will she be able to work once she’s pregnant? What if she takes off from work and decides she’d rather stay home with the kids. Will you be able to handle the expense with the job you have now?”

Clarence looked at me full on. Nothing about his facial expression or body language said he disliked my choice of careers. He was asking real-world questions based on the reality of the commitment Ebony and I were going to make.

“To be honest…” I gripped the steering wheel. “I don’t know. I’ve thought about some of it, but right now, children are not high on our list.”

“Do you guys have a five-year plan? Ten year? Anything?”

I shook my head. The plans Ebony and I made were about our jobs and getting married. Now that I thought about it, even that was unfinished. We had yet to set a definite date.

“We’re moving in together this weekend.” My eyebrows furrowed. “I guess with everything that’s happened, we’ve skipped ahead a few steps.”

“I’m glad you’re willing to admit it,” Clarence said. “There’s one thing I want you to remember.” He paused, waiting for me to look in his direction. “Nothing is set in stone. Plans can be broken, updated, and reevaluated at any time. Trust me. I’ve been married to Ebony’s mother for over thirty years. Sometimes I knew where we were going in life. Other times, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t always share the ups and downs with Anita because the stress would have made her worry too much. There were times when I carried the burden alone. As men, that’s what we do to take care of our families. Remember that. But don’t just take my word for it, ask your father. I’m sure he’s got some stories he’ll be able to tell,” he chuckled, “especially when raising five kids. And four daughters?” He whistled. “Two was enough for me.”

I smiled then got lost in thought.

Clarence had given me a lot to think about. While Ebony said she was supportive of my career, how long would it last? We avoided the baby roulette game once, but what if it happened again? We’d welcome our baby, no doubt about it. But what about everything it would take to care for my family?

Insurance. Housing. Daycare. Stay-at-home mom? Could my current career handle all of that on one income?

Yes, Ebony and I were definitely going to talk tonight.

####

Come back tomorrow for Part 4!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

About Me Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ Goodreads Linkedin Email

Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 2

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

***Miss Part One? Follow this link! ***

****

Christmas Eve- December 24th, Part 2

Ebony

My mother-in-law to be led us into the kitchen. “Ebony, Anita, we’re going to have so much fun!”

My mom and I laughed at Mrs. Young’s enthusiasm. We’d spent the day going from store to store, picking up last minute gifts and ingredients for her Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner dishes.

The Young family’s customs were nothing like my family’s. I watched my mother all day as she stopped herself on several occasions from suggesting where the other woman should place a decorative item or exactly what meals should be on the menu. I had to say…she was a trooper.

This was the first time my mother would not be hosting Christmas dinner at our family home. Every year, no matter where we were, our family dropped everything to be together. Especially since Trevon and I graduated high school and went to college. I’d moved to California while my brother, Trevon, attended college in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon graduation, he made the city his home. My older sister, Lashana, and her husband and daughter were the only ones living near mom and dad.

I snuck a peek at my mom as she accepted the aged recipe from Laura’s family cook book. She scanned the ingredients and plastered on a smile. It wasn’t a dish she was familiar with. When it came to something new, my mother had to be prodded to accept change. I could tell she longed for the dishes she customarily made back home.

I felt a momentary pain of guilt. Once again, my decisions affected those I loved. If I had opened up about what was going on in my life, things would be a lot different now. I would have been home, and Brian would be with me, meeting my entire family. Instead, he had obligations to attend to that kept us in town.

But when I thought about it, things were working out the way they should. Soon, Brian and I would be starting our own family traditions as a married couple. Between my family across county, and his large family in town, deciding where we spent the holiday would be interesting.

Having my parents meet my future in-laws now instead of on our wedding day would make the decisions we made much easier.

“Oh crap, where are my manners?” Laura said. I looked up to see her watching my mother. “We were out all day, so I didn’t ask if there was something you’d like to make for dinner. I’m so sorry.”

My mom smiled. “Oh, it’s not a problem. Everyone does things differently.”

“Yes it is. It’s probably too late to plan a meal. Would you like to make something for dessert?”

My mother’s eyes brightened. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course not.” Laura smiled. She walked over to the refrigerator where a mini notepad and pen were stuck on with a magnet. “Write down what you need. Whatever we don’t have, I’ll send Brian to the store to get.”

“Okay, wow, I’m not sure what to make!” My mom put her hands on her hips, deep in thought.

“How about your famous Banana Pudding? I haven’t had it in ages,” I suggested.

“Perfect!” both women said in unison.

My mother jotted down the ingredients from memory.

“Laura, what time is Bridget going to be here?” I asked.

“Bridget?” My mom looked up from her notes.

“She’s one of Brian’s sisters. You’ll love her, she’s a riot.”

“That’s right, I remember you telling me about her. Laura, how many children do you have?” my mom asked.

“Five. Four girls and one boy. Brian is the baby.” Laura selected a pot out of the cabinet, then put her hands on her hips as if reviewing the inventory. “I hear you have twins. How fun was that?” She glanced over her shoulder.

My mother laughed. “Honestly? Not as much fun as you would think during the first few months. Sleep was a commodity not easy to come by. Let’s not talk about potty training and learning how to walk.” She looked at me and shook her head.

“What?”

“Wait until you have your own kids.”

Laura laughed. “Do twins run in your family?”

“Yes, they do,” mom confirmed.

“And that’s why I’m not in a rush to start a family.”

Both women looked at me as if I’d used profanity. Neither woman lacked in the grandkids department. Laura had six and my mother had one. My twin brother and I weren’t in a hurry to add to the Campbell family tree.

“Does Brian feel the same way?” my mom asked.

“Um…yes, we’ve had this conversation.” A feeling of unease hit the pit of my stomach. A quick glance at my mother and seeing the expression on her face didn’t help. “We are both starting out in our careers and want to get stabilized first. I have a few more months until I graduate college, and he’s still making a name for himself at the record label. We’ve got three years until we turn thirty. We’ve got time.”

Both women looked at each other and smirked.

“Baby, I was twenty-one when I gave birth to your sister, and twenty-three by the time you and Trevon came along. I couldn’t imagine doing it when I was older than that.” My mother shook her head. “You have no idea how much energy it took to keep you two out of trouble.”

Laura laughed. “Tell me about it. I started young, too. It seemed like they just kept popping out. Give birth to one, look at Winfred, then I was pregnant again.”

I laughed along with them and ignored the momentary flash back to when there was a chance I carried Brian’s baby. Even then I was sure the Young men were potent. A twinge in my gut made me nauseous.

I pushed the reminder of the decisions of my past aside. There were some things Brian and I chose to keep private.

“When the time comes, I’ll be sure to do a conference call and let you both know at the same time.”

“Let them know what?”

We turned to see Bridget breeze into the kitchen, her arms loaded with groceries, her pixie cut hair tousled.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” I warned. One thing I’d learned about Bridget, she was in no rush to be attached to any man, much less have a baby.

She took a moment to study me, looked at the older women, then back at me. “You know…you’re right.” She went to her mother, gave her a hug. “You owe me, Mom. This is the last Christmas Eve where I go shopping. If it weren’t for the fact that Caroline just had her baby…” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, I’m being rude. Hi, I’m Bridget.” She extended a hand to my mother.

“This is my mother, Anita,” I said, praying her appearance would speed up the change in subject.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Bridget walked over to the kitchen table and grabbed a bright red apple from the fruit bowl, rinsed it off, took a bite, then chewed. “Where’s Dad?”

“Your father, Clarence, and Brian are in your father’s man cave. When it comes to cooking, Winfred stays away from the kitchen, but if it has to do with grilling, that is his territory,” she advised my mom, who nodded in understanding.

“No surprise there.” Bridget took another bite and chewed. “Well, it’s obvious I’m here in time for cooking. What have I missed? Have we started planning the wedding yet?”

“No, but there’s no time like the present.” My mother’s eyes lit up. I knew exactly where this was about to go. “Ebony, I’ve talked to our pastor back home and he said he’s more than willing to perform the ceremony. All we have to do is notify him of the date and the church will be reserved.”

Laura looked up from the cookbook she’d pulled out. “I thought the wedding was going to be here in L.A. The church we attend is beautiful. There’s plenty of seating and all of my daughters have gotten married there. Well, except for Bridget.”

My future sister-in-law rolled her eyes and continued eating.

All eyes centered on me.

I bit my lip. “Well… with everything that’s been going on, we haven’t set an exact date yet, much less decided where to hold it.”

“Well, that’s a no-brainer. North Carolina is your home. You grew up there and have family and friends who haven’t seen you in years. What’s there to think about?” My mother stated.

“Brian has a lot of family here, too. If you have it in North Carolina, a lot of people won’t be able to attend. Andrea and Lisa have small kids, and Caroline just had the baby…”

Both women started going back and forth, listing the pluses and negatives of each location as if I were no longer in the room.

I was scared to utter a word for fear it would turn into World War III.

“Holy crap, I didn’t mean to start an argument,” Bridget murmured out of the side of her mouth when she joined me at the kitchen island.

Both of us watched our mothers, shocked at how fast the ambiance in the room changed from happy to nearly volatile.

“Have you guys decided what you want to do?” she asked.

I shook my head. “Not yet.”

It was apparent that whatever we decided, neither of our families would be happy.

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Check back tomorrow for Part 3!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part One

The Meeting- December 23rd

Brian

 

“Brian, my mom just sent me a text. Their flight just landed.” Ebony typed a response on her phone, then cursed. “I hate autocorrect. I typed ‘whoo hoo’ and it posted ‘whoop’. That’s what I get for typing too fast.”

I rested my hands on her shoulders and massaged. “Ebony, calm down, you’re tense. Everything is going to be okay.”

“You don’t understand, Brian. I haven’t seen my parents in nearly a year. And after all that’s happened…”

I reached over, pulled my fiancée into my arms, and kissed her forehead. “What’s making you nervous, having them here or them meeting me face-to-face?”

She looked up at me with her gorgeous brown eyes, her eyebrows furrowing. “Both?”

I chuckled. “I’m supposed to be the one who’s nervous.”

“And you’re not?” Ebony stared at me in disbelief.

“No, I’m not.”

‘Delta Flight 4224 has arrived and is now unloading.’

Ebony squealed with excitement at the announcement then covered her mouth.

I smiled. Seeing my fiancée this happy after the events of the past month was more than I could ever ask for. After the turmoil our relationship had gone through, it was a blessing to still be together.

And now I was about to meet her parents for the first time.

I pushed aside the thought of how long it took Ebony to tell them about us. It turned out her fear of their disappointment because I was white had been unfounded. It took them by surprise, but after what I’d done in retaliation of what happened to their daughter, her parents made it clear that race didn’t matter.

Ebony squeezed my arm. “There they are!” She ran to her mother, embracing while rocking back and forth. Beside them, her father stood, his smile wide as he took in the sight, waiting patiently for his turn.

I took my time walking toward the group, giving them a private moment to reconnect.

Ebony’s mother took a step back and held her daughter at arm’s length, appraising her as if making sure she was actually all right. I couldn’t blame her. The events of the past few months and Ebony’s decision to keep it secret were one of the reasons why they made the trip to California for Christmas. They needed to see for themselves that she was indeed okay.

“So, where is this young man?” her father bellowed, looking around the crowded area.

Ebony turned, looking for me. “There he is! Brian, come meet my parents!”

I paused only to avoid a young man dragging a large suitcase, then made my way across the tile floor. “Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.” I held out my hand to Ebony’s father. He took a second to look me up and down then accepted the handshake.

“I know it’s crazy to do this because you’ve talked on the phone, but I can’t help it. Baby, these are my parents, Clarence and Anita. Mom, Dad, this is my fiancé, Brian Young.”

Ebony’s parents were nothing like I imagined. Mrs. Campbell was the same height as her daughter, but a little thicker.  Her eyes were sharp as she appraised me in a cautious fashion.

Her father, on the other hand, was a large man and could not be missed. His salt and pepper hair and beard gave him the look of a genteel grandfather, but the booming voice and intimidating height said otherwise.

“So, you’re the young man who’s stolen my daughter’s heart.” His eyes bore into mine, and his grip was tight. Though he smiled, the meaning was clear. ‘I may be grateful for what you’ve done for my daughter, but you hurt her and I will kill you.’ It was obvious Ebony was daddy’s little girl.

My insides turned to jelly.  Message received, loud and clear.

“Yes, sir.” I smiled, keeping my fear hidden. I ignored the pain in my hand from his two-hand grip and turned to her mother. Looking at the women side-by-side was like looking into a mirror of the past and future. “Mrs. Campbell, I have no doubt Ebony will be as beautiful as you are as we grow old together.”

An unreadable expression passed over her face. “Oh, why thank you.”

Inside, I kicked myself. So much for assuming my charm and wit in person would have the same results as it did over the phone.  I had to remember, regardless of our racial differences, I was still a man who could hurt their daughter.  Though she wore my ring, they knew nothing about me.

Moments ago I was cool and calm, but between Mr. Campbell’s handshake and Mrs. Campbell’s appraising stare, I was thrown off my game.

Ebony seemed oblivious.

“How about we get your suitcases from the baggage claim? Brian’s mom has put together a great dinner. I hope you’re hungry.”

“Free food? Now you’re talking,” Mr. Campbell said, his attention turning back to his daughter. He walked toward the luggage claim. I followed, leaving Ebony and her mother to reconnect.

****

“Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, these are my parents, Laura and Winfried,” I said, after my mother let us into the house.

“Please, call me Anita, and this is Clarence,” Ebony’s mother said. She accepted my mother’s hug, while Mr. Campbell shook hands with my father.

“Please have a seat and make yourselves comfortable,” my mother said, slipping into hostess mode. If there was one thing she loved, it was entertaining. While everyone, including Ebony, moved to the living room, I brought in the luggage. Fine by me. I was trying my best to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth again. The ride from the airport to my parents’ home couldn’t have gone fast enough. While her parents were cordial, I couldn’t help but feel as if I were the chauffeur. The conversation flowed around me, full of laughter and questions as the family caught up on what was going on back in North Carolina.

“Brian, baby, are you okay?” Ebony joined me in the foyer, concern etched into those lovely features.

I cleared my throat and walked toward the front door. “Yeah, I’m good. Just getting the rest of the luggage.”

“You’re lying.” She poked my shoulder and followed me outside to the trunk of her car. “My father made you nervous, didn’t he?”

“No.” I popped the trunk and grabbed what had to be her mother’s bag. It weighed a ton.

Beside me, Ebony burst into laughter. “It’s okay to admit it. He’s a bit intimidating in person.”

Intimidating wasn’t the half of it. Mr. Campbell was not a little man. Though we stood at the same height and he had about twenty pounds on me, his booming voice is what did the trick. Though I’d talked to him for a brief period of time on the phone, it was something quite different to be face-to-face with the father of the woman I loved. For once, I could understand exactly why Ebony had been hesitant about telling them about our relationship.

I shrugged. “Maybe just a little.”

Ebony forced me to put the bag I’d pulled out of the trunk on the ground.

Her arms went around my neck. “Do you love me?”

“You know I do.” I leaned down for a kiss, taking my time to savor the connection with my fiancée. The woman I’d willingly sacrifice my life for. The woman I was ready to kill for.

“Then don’t worry about a thing. They’re staying with your parents, and from what I’ve seen, I doubt they will kill each other. It’s like you told me, everything is going to be all right.”

I let out a half-laugh. She used my words against me.

“You’re right. They’ll be here and you’ll be with me.” I kissed her again. “I can’t wait to get you home tonight.”

The sexy smile I loved appeared. “Me, neither.”

I pulled away to grab the suitcase off the ground while Ebony leaned in to grab the smaller carry-on pieces.

We entered the foyer and dropped off the bags at the base of the steps. I had no idea which room my mother wanted them in.

“Oh, there you two are!” My mom walked over, hugged and kissed Ebony. “We thought you got lost outside.”

“No, just getting the bags. Which room do you want them in?” I asked.

“You can put them in your sisters’ old room.”

“Okay.” I grabbed a bag and started up the stairs.

“Oh, by the way, we’ve all been talking, and Ebony, it seems so unfair for your parents to fly across the country for Christmas to see you, only for you to live thirty minutes away. We’ve decided it would be best if both of you stayed here for the week. We’ve got plenty of room in this house. Ebony, you can sleep in one of the spare rooms. Brian, you can have your old room.”

My eyes went wide. “What?” I looked over at Ebony whose eyes were lit up.

“Mrs. Young, are you sure?”

My mother reached over for Ebony’s hand. “How many times do I have to tell you it’s okay to call me Mom?” They both laughed. “Yes, it would be perfect. Not to mention it would save gas and time for us to all get together. Besides, Brian, it will give you a chance to know your future in-laws.” My mother pinched my cheek. “Don’t take too long; dinner will be served in fifteen minutes.” She left to join everyone else in the living room.

“Brian, this is going to be so much fun!” She grabbed the carry-on bag and started up the steps.

I stood at the bottom in shock. Why did I have a feeling this wasn’t going to be as fun as Ebony thought?

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Come back tomorrow for Part Two!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Spend the Holiday with Ebony and Brian!

A Heart Not Easily Broken(Butterfly Memories) by M.J.Kane

Christmas will be here in a few days and many of you are looking forward to spending time with family and friends. So are Ebony and Brian. If you’ve read their story, A Heart Not Easily Broken, you know when the story ends  it is nearly Christmas and Ebony’s parents are coming to town to meet their future son-in-law. Many readers have said they would love to know what happened. So, after a lot of prodding, begging, and down right pleading, Ebony and Brian have decided to let me (us) in on what happens.

Starting tomorrow (December 23rd until December 27th), they have agreed to share the days events when her parents come to town and meet his parents. Stop by daily for the next glimpse into Ebony and Brian’s continued memoirs!

***UPDATE! FREE READ IS NOW AVAILABLE!***

Family for the Holiday: Part 1

What Readers Are Saying…

“The characters of “A Heart Not Easily Broken were are all very intriguing and captivating …showing emotions through the whole novel…from Ebony, Yasmine, Kaitlyn, Brian, Javan to a few others that I have left out keeping you on the edge of your seat and not being able to put this novel down until the end.”-Amazon Review

***

In “A Heart Not Easily Broken” MJ Kane gives us a front row seat in observing the interracial relationship between Ebony and Brian. The story is told from their perspectives, and addresses the challenges, the insecurities and the potential emotional pitfalls that an interracial couple must face as individuals and as a couple. Some of them are common to every couple. Some are unique to interracial couples. Others are uniquely the challenges faced by a white man and black woman who love each other.- Amazon Review

***

I’ve read quite a number of novels in the IR genre over the years. My interest was primarily due to my own relationship, and the desire to see African-American women portrayed as appealing, interesting, sensual, fully-formed characters – women I could recognize and relate to, and with whom I could go on a journey as I read their stories. I wasn’t always able to find novels that embraced all those elements. However, M. J. hit all those notes, and made me care deeply about the characters. I recognized Ebony. I liked her very much. She was real to me. Her struggles were real. Her dreams and goals were real. Her insecurities were real. Her self-assessment was real.- Amazon Review

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#FeatureFriday- Right Before My Eyes II by Michelle Robinson

RightBeforeMyEyesII-FRONT-Cover_FINAL

Journee and Jordyn are back! It’s a new year and things have shaken up alot between The Bell Twins after the untimely death of Kalena’s husband Todd. Coming back alone from her honeymoon, discover if Kalena will find peace with Todd’s death and happiness within her own life again.

Jordyn’s shocking secret only gets worse as it takes a turn down a path that leaves everyone more confused than before. Will Jordyn and Chris survive? Now that Jordyn’s mayhem has put Journee in the middle of her and her sisterhood, Journee has to decide what’s more important now, the friendship that the girls have shared for over twenty years or the relationship with her twin sister.

Chelsea & Najah’s lives have changed as well as Journee’s when Drew comes home from prison. This is the moment that Journee has been waiting for but is she ready to leave her broken past behind and marry him? Has she really moved on from Jason?  On vacation in Cabo San Lucas, things about him are uncovered and the truth is finally revealed to her.

As you witness more drama and celebrations, follow Jordyn, Journee, Kalena, Najah & Chelsea as the year 2009 just might be their year after all.

Amazon     Barnes & Nobel

head shotAbout the Author:

Michelle Robinson was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Oakland’s rich culture has laid the fabric for this story. She’s been doing hair for two decades. As a hairstylist, it’s safe to say she has also served as a therapist to her clients. She has heard and witnessed it all right behind her styling chair. From her experiences, she’s given advice to many and has watched people’s lives transistion. With this driving force, she has finally penned her second novel.

Website     Facebook     Twitter    Email

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#CoverRevel: The Library by Carmen DeSousa

cover

When Mark Waters decided to be a detective, he didn’t plan to investigate ghosts.

But as he sifts through evidence of a supposed suicide by train, he learns a murder that took place eighty years ago may directly affect his case.

Six months after the strange occurrences at The Depot, there’s another murder. This time, The Library holds secrets of several murders, and the dead won’t rest until the murderer checks out too.

 Available December 12, 2013!

****Download a FREE COPY of the prequel,  THE DEPOT,  and register for a chance to win a copy of THE LIBRARY!****

Interview with Carmen DeSousa! About the Author: 

A romantic-suspense writer, Carmen writes novels that overflow with romance, mystery, suspense, a hint of paranormal sometimes, and of course–tragedy. After all, what would a great story be without a heartrending event setting the stage? Her sensual and gripping stories have earned bestseller status on three continents because of her ability to make readers love, laugh, cry, gasp, and hope.

 Website     Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email