Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Conversations: #interview with #AAMBookclub #author Keyanna Ford

Please welcome AAMBookclub author Keyanna Ford to Conversations today. Keyanna is here to talk about her new novel, Living in Fear. So, check out the cover and blurb below! And don't forget to check out her interview too, and get to know Keyanna.

Lisa ~
_____________________________________________ in Fear

Tia Green came from Kalamazoo, a small town in Michigan. From the time she was a child, Tia had known exactly what she wanted out of life and had already dreamed about how to get it a thousand times over. Tia had always planned on attending the University of Michigan with her childhood friend where they both wanted to become nurses. She worked hard in high school and made sure she got good grades. Eventually, That hard work paid off, She was admitted early to U of M with a full scholarship. After going on the college tour, life changed for her in ways she would have never believed…

Ace was the guy that everybody dreamed they had. He was smart, sexy, and athletic, not to mention, the star of University of Michigan’s football team. See, Ace turned heads wherever he went, and people were always striving for his attention, but Ace could care less. He was a player who didn’t believe in giving his heart away to any female due to his childhood, but that all changed when he met Tia. She was everything he had ever wanted, and most importantly, she reminded him of his late mother whom he lost at a young age. Ace thought Tia was perfect for him. He thought he would finally get the family he had always wanted. He never imagined she'd betray him, especially not with the only other person he loved…

Tia and Ace started with a fairytale romance, truly in love. As true colors bleed out from the cracks of their exteriors, the couple discovered that their fairytale romance was turning into a painful nightmare and the dream filled partnership was on its way to ruins. 

Interview with Keyanna Ford

What made you start writing?

I started writing for therapy. I was going through a bad relationship and didn’t have anyone to talk to about it, I would have usually read a book in this situation but I decided to put it in a book instead. No that does not mean my book is an autobiography, it means it fiction based on a little fact.

Give us an insight into your main character, why is he/she so special?

Tia Green is a high school senior, she na├»ve and a little innocent. She gets good grades, never had a boyfriend or even kissed a guy until Ace comes along. Tia fell head over heels for Ace as most of us did for our first love, it’s just too bad things changed in a blink of an eye and dreams started to become nightmares.

Tia is special because she’s relatable. How many females have lost themselves in what we thought was love? I know too many and Tia is no exception. Tia is an example of how quick things can change and one wrong decision can change your life forever.

Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come from real life events, I’ll take something that happened and expand on it. Not necessarily, something that happened to me but maybe something that happened to one of my friends.

Do you read often, if so who’s your favorite authors?

Yes, I love to read. Reading has been my passion since about middle school, the first book I ever read was dope fiend by Donald Goines. It was so descriptive it was like watching a movie in my head and that’s when I fell in love with books.

I love to read Wahida Clark books, she’s my favorite author along with Deja King. I also love Nikki Turner, Ashley & JaQuavis. That’s just to name a few, there’s so many other authors I read and I discover new ones every day.

Do you write every day, if not how often?

No I don’t write every day, sometimes I go weeks without writing. I binge write as I call it meaning I write nonstop for a few weeks straight, leave for a few week then come back and finish.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing to me is incorporating more than just your main characters. For me I could have wrote about Ace and Tia all day but they had to have friends and a family. Making sure everything flowed and the timeline was right was also a challenge.

What are you working on at this moment?

I’m currently working on the sequel to “Living in Fear” which should be out next year, along with my third novel not related to this series that I haven’t titled yet.

Keyanna was born and raised in Kalamazoo, MI, she has always been into school but never knew exactly what she wanted to do. She graduated from Loy Norrix High School in 2005 with high honor and went to college where she studied Criminal Justice at Kalamazoo Valley Community College first then went on to get her bachelors at Western Michigan University where she doubled major and graduated with two majors in Criminal Justice and Social Psychology. After going through a bad situation Keyanna decided to write about it where she discovered her love for writing and that’s how her debut novel “Living in Fear’ came to life.

Connect with Keyanna:

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Conversations: #romance #author Pema Donyo

Please join me in welcoming romance author, Pema Donyo to Conversations today! Pema is here to talk about her new historical Western romance novel, One Last Letter. So be sure and check out the cover and blurb below. Plus, Pema has a great interview for us, so be sure and check that out too and get to know Pema and her work!

Lisa ~
__________________________________________ LAST LETTER

A romantic hardened by reality…

Evelyn Lancaster turned her back on her love for ranch hand Jesse Greenwood when she was sixteen to pursue a career and marry into wealth that could save her father’s struggling ranch. Now twenty-three, she works hard to keep the property afloat, but no suitor has stirred her heart the way Jesse did. After her father falls ill, she needs all the help she can get to keep the ranch running.

A cowboy returning to what he left behind…

After making his fortune, a newly wealthy Jesse has returned home to see his younger sister married. Still smarting from Evelyn’s rejection, he finds the tables have turned, and now only his investment could save the ranch that he vowed to never step foot on again.

When he agrees to help her salvage her family legacy, they must overcome their pride and painful past to work together. As long-held emotions rekindle, Jesse pretends indifference, only to admit his true feelings in an unsigned letter left on Evelyn’s porch.

Evelyn finds the missive and writes back, beginning a furtive correspondence. She dares to hope her mystery admirer is Jesse, but then another man comes forward to claim the letters as his own. Will one last letter give them the courage to say yes to love on the wild Texas plains?

Interview with PEMA DONYO

When did you first start writing?

I've written stories for as long as I can remember. Even in second grade I was penning down plot ideas - which never ended up having endings, but they were still beginnings! The first full story I wrote (with an ending included) was in fourth grade. My teacher, Mr. Mason, read my story and encouraged my love for creative writing. I was extremely fortunate to have him as my teacher.

Tell us a little about the story behind your current project.

One Last Letter was inspired by reading Lorraine Heath's Amelia and the Cowboy. It was the first book from Heath that I picked up and I was hooked. I've read historical romances before, but there was something about the American West that seemed a perfect backdrop for romance. I knew I wanted my story to take place in Texas, but I've lived my entire life in California. Lots of research was required!

Southern California is a lot different than 1800’s Texas. What’s the biggest challenge involved with writing about such a different environment and how did you overcome it?

I ran into so many historical restrictions while writing the novel. Since finishing One Last Letter, I have much more respect for historical fiction writers! Extensive research is required at every step of the way. At the same time, it’s exciting to create new worlds and travel back to long-forgotten times. I brushed up on written research, but I also watched a lot of modern Western movies. I love The Love Comes Softly Saga from Hallmark Channel (adapted from books by Janette Oke). Binge-watching historical dramas definitely helped.
What is the single most important thing you've learned about managing your career?


Don't give up. The road to being an author is paved with rejection. You have to possess a thick skin when you’re an writer – when querying publishers/agents, requesting reviews, or even reading reviews – there’s so many opportunities for others to criticize or reject your work. But if you know creative writing is what you want to pursue, nothing can hold you back from it in the long run. It’s all about just sticking to what you feel passionate about and moving forward.

They say you make your luck...what have you done in your career that has resulted in what other people might think of as being lucky?

Being published so young. I’ve been fortunate enough to publish my first novel (a New Adult thriller) The Innocent Assassins and my second novel (a Western romance) One Last Letter while I’m still eighteen. It’s a blessing to begin my journey of being an author so early in my life. Of course, there are lots of authors who have been published even earlier than I! I’m currently living out the years I’m writing about. All my characters in my works have been between the ages of 17 and 23, and I’m fortunate enough to express the age from someone who’s living it out.

Do you write every day?  Every week?  Odd times?

Since I’m still in college, I mainly write during breaks. Winter break, spring break, and summer break all provide perfect opportunities for writing. Once I’m at college, there’s so many other projects and events going on that make it hard to write every day during the school semester.

Any advice you can give to other young writers?

Trust that everything happens for a reason. Every rejection letter you receive is just more time for you to improve your craft and experience more in the world. Don't be too starry-eyed, but don't ever be disillusioned. Publishing is a business just like any other - there's competition and intimidation. But there's also camaraderie and community and creativity. Just keep writing and don't lose hope; that's all you can do.

Favorite writing quote?

“In order to write about life, you must live it,” by Ernest Hemingway. He’s completely right. Experience is the best source of writing material. Whether it’s relating to a character’s first heartbreak or first kiss or even watching a beautiful sunset, authors can only write about emotions after they’ve experienced it for themselves. That’s one of the many wonderful parts about writing: the ability to relate to so many other readers through our shared emotions and experiences.

Pema Donyo is a coffee-fueled college student by day and a creative writer by night. She currently lives in sunny Southern California, where people wear flip-flops instead of Stetsons and ride in cars instead of carriages. As a rising sophomore at Claremont McKenna, she’s still working on mastering that delicate balance between finishing homework, meeting publisher deadlines, and… college.

Visit Pema on her website at
Follow her on Twitter @pemadonyo 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Conversations: #AAMBookclub #author Tamika Newhouse

Please welcome AAMBookclub author Tamika Newhouse to Conversations today. Tamika is here to talk about her new novel, The Words I didn't Say. So, check out the cover, blurb and excerpt below!

Lisa ~
_____________________________________________ Words I Didn't Say

Janet had been there and done that when it came to love. After a broken heart love was no longer an option for her. No strings, meaningless sex, and random dates were now her top choices. Besides keeping men at a distance and away from her heart was safe right? You can t get hurt if you don't let anybody in.

But what happens when you suddenly meet someone who just gets you? The moment she met Denim she knew it was something different, something she couldn't control. And from day one she fought that four letter word, love.

Denim had loved and lost and vowed to never feel for anyone ever again and that had worked for years. A successful music producer but a womanizer by nature the day he met Janet his quest to be unattached was challenged. Janet and Denim both fight what was evident, that they both wanted and needed each other.

Vowing to just be in the moment and not commit to one another tension grows as their emotions can t be controlled. Random sex want do, the endless dates with unfamiliar faces is getting old, and everyone is compared to the one that matters, each other.

But when Janet fears confessing her deep feelings for Denim will push him away; things change. Denim although loves Janet is unwilling to commit and it is his the lack of effort to change on his end that ultimately changes them.

Words go unspoken as this romantic, sexy, dramatic novel unfolds leaving two souls lost within each other. And when a broken heart can't be mended it seems that their love will be lost forever without a real chance at happiness.

A love story not based on a fairy tale but solely on the fact that sometimes we run from the very thing that will make us happy.

Excerpt from The Words I Didn't Say

I walked into the restaurant and asked the hosts for the party of a Denim Overton. She assured me that my party called and said they would be five minutes late and led me to my table. I knew that at meetings like this my bill was always covered by the client so I wasted no time ordering an appetizer and pulling out my laptop to work on my novel.

Thirty minutes and fifteen hundred words, and a plate full of bones later, I heard, “Janet Jamison?”

My eyes traveled over my laptop and trailed from the soles of the most expensive shoes I would never spend money on, up his leg, briefly stopping at his mid-section to examine the bulge but I made sure to not stare too long. His torso was broad, his arms were dark so he was a chocolate brother. Please let him be cute please let him be cute. I stared at his face and tilted my head to the side. Got damn this man is sexy.

Stuttering over my words and attempting to gain my composure I say, “Yes!”

He extended his hand and said, “Denim Overton. I do apologize for my tardiness. You can never be too sure with Atlanta’s traffic.”

I suddenly heard the sounds of “Freak Me”by Silk but I think it was only in my head. “Oh that’s fine. I had some time to write.”

He took a seat across from me and smiled. “You’re the writer that everyone praises up in New York. They say you’re the best.”

I blushed. “They speak truth. I’ve already been looking into your client’s life. I think this project is going to be a quick and easy one. He is pretty much an open book.”

“Yeah he is someone I can’t control and he is pretty open.” He said, referring to his client.

“I thought he was going to join us too?”

After ordering a drink Denim turned his attention back to me and said, “No, he had a show in Tampa so he left this morning. I didn’t want to cancel because we have pushed this back long enough. Tell me what you have in mind.”

I begin to lay out the idea for the memoir I was going to write for his artist. I had written for indie and mainstream artists and actors a dozen times and I was good at what I did. So good that my best friend, Claire, and I decided to open our own offices called From the Pen of Claire and Janet. We were both published authors, but we were currently working as ghostwriters for a lot of celebrities throughout the Atlanta area. For this project with Denim’s artist I would pocket over $75,000. So was I complaining truly about being behind on my own project? No. But then again I wrote for the love of it not just for the dollar sign.

“You are good,” Denim said, just above a slight laugh. He leaned back in his seat as our server sat a plate of salmon and rice in front of him.

“I try to do my best,” I said, as my plate of turkey and dressing was placed before me. “Have you read any of my works? Tell me what you know about me.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Well I actually have been in Houston a lot working on an album with an artist so I haven’t been out of the cave in about two months. I hadn’t had the chance to do much of anything else.”

“Oh so what do you do when you’re in the studio?”

“I create beats. The sound of the music.”

“Oh that’s right?” I smiled and nodded my head while covering my mouth that was full of food. “You’re DJ Denim O!”

He had a look of shock on his face. I didn’t know why so I asked, “Thought I wouldn’t know about you?”

“Depends on what you heard.”

He took a bite of his food keeping his eyes glued to mine. I had to rearrange myself in my seat. Denim was more than handsome. He was so heavy on my eyesight that I took deeper breaths to maintain the anxiety building in between my legs.

“Well, I heard some things from back in the day. You’ve been in the game for a while now, huh?”

“Ten years,” he said, leaning back in his seat. “Started in small clubs back in Fort Worth, Texas.”


He raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“I’m from there you know.”

He gave me the side eye and smiled. I nearly sunk in my seat. I could feel juices from the crevices of my lips seep through and threaten to wet my panties. I squeezed my pelvis really tight hoping my efforts to tighten my walls would create a stopper to the flow. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“You’re from Funkytown?”

“Yes. I’ve been here in Atlanta for about five years now. Came here for my career.”

“Small freaking world,” he laughed.

“Small freaking world,” I added.

There was an obvious pause in our exchange. I was too busy focusing on stopping the flow of my juices, but what the hell he was doing, I didn’t know. I was thinking to myself this man was obviously irresistible and he knew it. He sat there looking as if he possessed the most sought after tool in the world. Hmmmm his tool. I wonder.

I shook the thoughts out of my head and asked, “So you stay here?”

“I am in and out of almost every major city at some point. Nowhere is home really but Texas.”

He stared at me. His stare was like dare. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking. He had these seemingly innocent eyes that held a hint of grey.

“I like it here. It’s different from Texas,” I said.

“Very different. It’s a city of opportunities you know… And meetings such as this.”

I smiled and bowed my head as if I was a shy school aged girl when his cell phone buzzed. He glanced  at the caller ID with a look of anxiousness. After apologizing for having to take the call, he picked up as I attempted to tune out his conversation. Although being nosey and writing about other people’s lives was how I made a living, for once I wasn’t trying to be.

Denim hung up and said, “I have to get to my next meeting but Janet I will definitely be in touch. I will let my client know what we came up with. He’s really excited about this opportunity.”

I stood up and shook Denim’s hand. When my hand landed in his I felt a rush of something. It was weird. I couldn’t explain why my palms became moist, my breathing became heavy, my heart began to race, and my mind was boggled. Denim tilted his head to the right and frowned. He feels it too.

I quickly let go of his hand and allowed it to drop to my side. “It was nice meeting you Denim.”

His confused look didn’t change as he stated, “It was a pleasure Ms. Jamison.” He slowly took a few steps backwards until he turned on his heels and walked out of the restaurant. I plopped down into my seat and blew out hot air. What the hell just happened? I think I stared at my computer screen for ten minutes before I managed to collect my items and head out of the restaurant pushing back what was obvious; I wanted that man in the worst way.

Tamika Newhouse is a self-published bestselling author who founded Delphine Publications, at the age of 21; Tamika appeared on various bestseller lists and won Self Published Author of the Year at the 2009 African American Literary Awards only 9 months after her debut novel. In 2010 she was inducted into Who’s who in Black San Antonio and she landed a major publishing deal without an agent and still continues to write independent projects. In 2011 her company Delphine Publications won an African American Literary Award for Best Anthology as well as Tamika won for the second time Self Published Author of the Year. She was also nominated by the National Women in Business Association for the 2011 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. In 2013 she was honored with the Author of Distinction E. Lynn Harris Award. Her latest award for the 2013 African American Literary Award for self published author of the year.

Along with Delphine Publications, Tamika is the founder and President of African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) – an online book club and radio show catering to avid readers across the nation. She is also CEO of Obsessive Soul Media. With future projects in the works from short films, stage plays and much more, Tamika is a young woman on a mission. She has been featured in Uptown Magazine, Essence, Hello Beautiful, Juicy Magazine, and in Vibe Vixen Magazine.

Tamika presently tours the country speaking about overcoming her teen pregnancy to fulfill her dream, as well as teaching aspiring writers the publishing ropes. A former radio host, she hosted her own internet radio show (AAMBC) for over three years and continues to expand her brand. She is currently living in Atlanta with her son and daughter and is currently working on her next novel.

Find the author:
Twitter @TamikaNewhouse
Instagram @BossladyTamika

Friday, August 1, 2014

On Conversations: #author Pamela Jaye Smith

Please join me in welcoming author, Pamela Jaye Smith to Conversations today! Pamela is here to talk about her book, Show Me the Love. So be sure and check out the cover and blurb below. Plus, Pamela has a wonderfull QandA for us, so be sure and check that out too and get to know Pamela and her work!

Lisa ~
__________________________________________ ME THE LOVE
All Kinds of Love for All Kinds of Stories

For content creators and consumers of all genres, styles, and media this book offers a rich resource, new ideas, and a comprehensive, practical guide to using and understanding the dynamic and dramatic power of all sorts of LOVE.

Identifying, understanding, portraying, and communicating the core of emotion in a story is what entertains, enlightens, and educates your audience.

The best stories have some aspect of LOVE in them: romantic love, familial love, best friends, interspecies love, love of animals, country, art, death and destruction.

When well-crafted, the LOVE aspect of a story lives on in the hearts and minds of readers and viewers, be it “My old love! I’m paralyzed with happiness!” from The Great Gatsby; “I see you” from Avatar“; and Casablanca's "We'll always have Paris".

This book covers the psychological background of different types of love and how it works in myth, history, current events, and media. You’ll learn ways to express that type of love both in words and visuals so you can make your stories much richer and more memorable.

Readers and viewers of all types of media find this information enhances their understanding and enjoyment.

"SHOW ME THE LOVE!  is witty, smart and fun...truly a comprehensive field manual to help you navigate the minefield of romance and all sorts of love. A must-have for both the lover and the lovelorn. And those who create the stories about them." ~Geffrey von Gerlach, Life Coach and author of the novels Ghostpoints, Beehive Arizona and Hexe: Witches, Warriors, Magic & Murder

"I just LOVE, SHOW ME THE LOVE!, a wonderful resource for everyone who is interested in "love". ~Dr. Rachel Ballon. Licensed Psychotherapist, International Writing Consultant, teacher and Author of 5 books on writing.

Buy the book in print or e-book versions


“Emotionally compelling, thoroughly enjoyable, full of insights for writers and non-writers alike. But absolutely essential for all writers. Love, or the lack of it, is at the heart of every story, no matter what the format. How clearly and profoundly that theme of love is expressed determines how well the story succeeds in touching an audience or reader. On a personal level, reading this book made me think deeply of the role of love in my personal life. And in my professional life, I will keep this as one of my most essential reference works." ~Pam Wallace - Academy Award winning screenwriter, Witness

What drives your characters? What is their back-story? What stands in the way of them achieving their desires? Most of the answers will revolve around some type of love. This is what this book is about.

Too often people think love is just the romantic or sexual kind. However, people experience all sorts of love at all different levels in many different ways. Included in this book are love of the land, familial love, best friends forever, warrior bonding, love for animals, love of art, love of adventure, love of death and destruction, interspecies love, and transformative chivalric love. Including some of these other loves in your story will help create much more interesting characters and situations in support of your romantic and dramatic plots.

Each chapter explores the mythological, historical, and psychological aspects of different types of love with examples from history and in media, suggestions for written descriptions, the all-important Shining Moment, cinematic techniques, and appropriate symbols.

Understanding the deeper drives that affect how we act and react – along with ways to illustrate those drives – will give you better tools with which to create and motivate your characters and stories along their transformational arcs.

What inspired you to write “Show Me the Love!”?

In our language we only have the one word for “love” while many other languages have unique names for different types of love. We saw a need to help story-makers be more aware of other loves that influence our lives every day, and how they can make characters more multi-dimensional and stories more compelling.

How do your own experiences influence what you write about in this book?

We are really fortunate to have careers in a business that always offers a challenge to learn new things, try new techniques and technologies, go new places, and meet new people. Work and adventurous spirits have taken us to the Arctic, the Andes, Southeast Asia and many other parts of the world working on features, TV series, music videos, commercials, documentaries, web series, corporate and military films.

As for the different types of love, we both grew up in Texas (Pamela on a cattle ranch and Monty on the Gulf Coast) and have an inherent love of the land; we have military backgrounds so warrior bonding is familiar to us; a love of art keeps us enthralled in the media business; and some of the projects involve blowing things up and killing people, for pretend and on camera. Luckily we don’t have any personal experience with interspecies love, unless you count dating actors.

How do you suggest writers use the information in Show Me the Love?

Romantic love does not necessarily have to drive the bigger story, in fact it can come as a result of other kinds of love. A shared love of land and country can bring people together romantically, as can the intensity of military combat, the pursuit of artistic perfection, and such.

A character’s back-story often suggests the perfect kind of love – or the lack thereof –
against which to frame desires and obstacles. The setting of your story also offers the opportunity for a type of love. The antagonist needs a serious drive, too: love of death and destruction works well, whether it’s the petty acts of destroying budding relationships or the larger threat of total annihilation.

What about non-writers?

“This is a very well-written, thought-out guide. I am not an author nor do I have anything to do with the film industry. I am just an avid reader. This book has really opened my eyes on what the author or director is trying to visually accomplish in his or her book or film. I will definitely start paying more attention to symbols and camera angles in the future." ~Deborah J. Richardson

Authors Smith and McMillan have worked in all aspects of the media industry for 35+ years, in Hollywood and around the world.

Monty directed Life on the Slope, a documentary on the North Slope of Alaska and was media consultant for People to People: Heart to Heart,  a peace conference between North American and Ecuadorian tribes.

He led a team that helped establish TV-3, Malaysia's first Public Television Network in Kuala Lumpur and traveled to Burma for The Dhamazzadhi Bell project, to raise a giant temple bell lost in Rangoon Harbor.

McMillan was West Coast director for AUSA’s America’s Army  TV series. He and Pamela both attended the Army War College and Air War College National Security Forums.

Affiliations include the Scottish Heritage Society, China Exploration and Research Society, LA World Affairs Council, and the Community Emergency Response Team in both LA and Austin.

He has written screenplays (optioned and sold) and is currently writer-for-hire on a mini-series set in Burma.

Pamela Jaye is a mythologist, international consultant-speaker, and award-winning producer-director. She’s written five books for writers, co-authored two children’s books, writes screenplays, short stories, and articles.

She’s the mythology expert on Ice Age:  Continental Drift Special Features and was  spokesperson for Microsoft’s Age of Mythology.

Credits include Disney, Romance Writers of America, Paramount, Universal, RAI-TV Rome, UCLA, Natl. Film Institute of Denmark, LA and Marseille WebFests and more. She was also story and design consultant on two Wes Craven films, Nightmare on Elm Street 7 and Vampire in Brooklyn.

The Last Tiger Expedition sought a lost WWII American pilot (her uncle) in the Himalayas and worked with NASA/JPL, the Smithsonian, the State Department, and Pan Am.

Smith served as past president, LA Chapter, of the Pan Pacific SE Asia Women’s Assoc. and is a 3rd degree Master Mason in a co-ed Lodge.

She founded MYTHWORKS – “Applied Mythology for Improved Reality” and co-founded  Alpha Babe Academy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Read Chapter One of HIS DAKOTA BRIDE by Lisa Mondello

HIS DAKOTA BRIDE ~ Dakota Hearts Book 5

Her heart had always belonged to Wade McKinnon...

When single mother, Skylar Barnett, came to South Dakota, she thought her life was just beginning. Newly pregnant, she waited for the love of her life, Wade McKinnon, to join her so they could start their life near his family. But her joy quickly shattered after learning Wade was presumed killed during a tsunami that hit the small Asian island they'd both worked on in the Peace Corp. She'd spent the last four years making peace with her decision to marry a man she didn't love so her baby would have a father. But marrying the wrong man when her heart belonged to Wade was the biggest mistake of her life.

Secrets and circumstance kept them apart...

No one in Wade McKinnon's life knew that his work with the Peace Corp. was just a cover for his real job in a secret military agency. Not even Skylar, the woman he'd fallen hard for the moment he'd laid eyes on her. But when his mission in Asia suddenly became too dangerous and all agents in the field were ordered to disappear, using the tragic events of the tsunami on the island where they'd met seemed like the only way to keep Skylar and their unborn baby safe until the situation cooled down. As much as it killed him, Wade stepped aside when he learned Skylar had moved on with another man. But now that she's free, he's determined to do everything he can to win back her love and claim the life they'd dreamed of sharing.  

Chapter One

The McKinnon clan didn’t need a reason to get together and celebrate, but this Labor Day weekend they were going to get one.  Homecomings were always a good cause for a party.  But this was one homecoming no one was expecting.
He parked his car in the driveway under a shady tree along the driveway, making note of the fact that there was a pick-up truck parked next to the garage in the spot where he used to park his old sixty-seven mustang.  He recognized the truck, although the last time he’d seen Logan McKinnon driving it, the truck had been in better condition.
He paused at the corner of the house and heard laughter filtering through the air.  The boisterous laughing he always heard when his brothers were all together.  The giggles and shouts of young children he’d yet to meet.  It called to him as strong as the smell of food being cooked over an open flame that tickled his senses.  But a hunger of another kind was stronger.  The voices he heard had been missing from his life for too long.  But he listened closely until the female voice that had haunted him grew louder.
“I need to finish up in the kitchen.  Hawk can you give me a minute and then come carry a few things out to the table?  No, Kate you put your feet up.  You’re always serving everyone at the diner.  Let me do this.”
The screen door on the back deck opened and then shut.  With his heart pounding, he walked to the front door so he could have the precious few moments alone with her before the rest of the family converged on him.  He needed those few moments.
His old key still fit the lock on the front door.  Turning the knob slowly, he pushed the door open quietly and stepped into the foyer.  He glanced into the living room, taking in every detail and exchanging what was different with what he’d committed to memory long ago.  The familiar smell of the house magnified the realization that he had finally made it.  He was home.
He didn’t want to scare her.  He could only imagine her reaction when she saw him.  So he slipped through the living room and into the kitchen through the dining room so he wouldn’t startle her.  And when he finally saw her, he thought his legs would crumble beneath him.
Skylar Barnett.  If there truly was just one great love in the universe for every person, Skylar was surely his.
She buzzed around the kitchen, almost dancing on the balls of her feet as she moved.  He used to say she looked like a ballerina, dancing as she walked in the sand.  She’d told him it was only because he made her happy.
“I heard the front door.  Did I lock the screen door on you by accident again, Hawk?” Skylar asked, licking her fingers of the dressing she’d just stirred in the bowl.  “This potato salad has to get into the ice bowl on the table or it will spoil in his heat.”
She turned in the opposite direction towards the refrigerator, opened it, and then pulled out a bottle. “Oh, and I forgot the Italian dressing for the salad.  Would you mind bringing that with you, too?”
She still hadn’t lifted her gaze to him.  And he didn’t rush to get her attention.  He enjoyed just watching her move.  He’d always loved the way she moved as she rushed from one side of the kitchen to the next.
Picking up the bowl of potato salad from the counter, she turned to him, her smile as bright as the blazing sun outside, and said, “Those barbeque ribs your dad has on the grill smell so good, it’s making me-”
Their eyes met for the first time in over five years and she gasped.  He should have done something to prevent the bowl of food in her hand from slipping through her grip and crashing to the floor.  The bowl shattered and the potato salad splattered on the tile floor and the cabinet Skylar was standing near.  She barely noticed the remnants of the mess at her feet.
“I’m not Hawk,” he said, never taking his eyes off hers.
Her mouth dropped open, as tears welled up in her eyes.  “Wade?”
He barely heard the words escape her lips, but he felt them just as strong as he had the last time they’d been together.  The memory of what it tasted like to kiss her, and that small intake of breath she made before her lips touched his.
“Is it really you?”
Her voice was a whisper and surged him forward. He took a slow step toward her as she took in seeing him for the first time in years. Her hand came up to touch his face but stopped short before making contact.
He leaned closer, giving her access to reach him without overwhelming her.  When she still didn’t touch him, he took her small hand in his and pressed it against his cheek.
“Flesh and blood, sweetheart.”
He’d had years to dream about this day.  He’d waited until the time was right, agonized over the best way, and played this moment in his mind a thousand times.  And yet, nothing prepared him for what it would be like to touch Skylar again.
Tears streamed down her cheeks.  She did nothing to wipe them clean.
“Wha…where have you been?”  A sob escaped her lips before she could finish.
“We have plenty of time for that.  I just want to hold you now for a minute.”  And then he slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her close against his chest.  The heat of her body penetrated the thin fabric of his shirt, bringing back memories of their burning love making on a hot evening.
Her sob against his neck tugged at his gut.  “I’ve missed you so much.  How can this be happening?”
“It’s happening.  It’s real.  I’m never leaving you again.”
“What the hell took you so long?  When they couldn’t find you after the tsunami, I called everyone we knew in the Peace Corp.  They said there was no trace of you at all.  Then your father used whatever connections he had and called every hospital in the region.”
“I wasn’t in the hospital.”
“I heard lots of stories where people had amnesia because of head injuries.  They didn’t know who they were.  I can’t imagine what that was like.”
He pulled back just a little to look at her face.  The last thing he wanted to do now was lie to her.  “That’s not what happened.  I didn’t have amnesia.”
“Then…where were you?  Why didn’t you follow me here like you said you would?”
“It wasn’t safe.”
“Of course it wasn’t safe.  There was a tsunami, for God’s sake!  That small village we stayed at was washed away by the tide.  And all this time I thought you were washed away with it.  You know we lost six people from our group that day.”
“I know.”
“You know.”  She touched his face and searched his eyes for answers.  “Wade, what happened to you?  Where have you been?”
“Do you remember me telling you that I was involved in something dangerous?”
“Of course.  That was the reason you wanted me to leave the island so quickly.  You told me not to tell a soul until you came back and that you’d explain everything then.  Oh, my God, are you telling me you were in prison?  Couldn’t the State Department have helped you get word to us?”
She hugged him tight.
“There was no way I could get word to you.  Not at first.”
“At first.  What does that mean?  Why couldn’t you have gotten word to me?  For God’s sake, why didn’t you get word to your parents?”
“You have to believe me that I wanted to.  But it was impossible.”
“I don’t understand, Wade.  What happened to you?  Where have you been all this time?”
“Watching you.”
Her mouth dropped open.  “Watching?  For how long?”
“Ever since you came to South Dakota.  I know about Jay, Skylar.”
The screen door creaked.  Skylar abruptly pulled away from Wade, leaving him cold.  Her eyes widened with confusion and anger as she stared at him.  She turned her gaze toward the doorway, placing a hand on her chest. “I…ah…dropped the bowl.”
Wade turned to see which McKinnon Skylar was talking to and his heart filled with emotion beyond capacity when he recognized his best friend and brother Hawk standing there.  Hawk didn’t look at Skylar or the mess on the floor around her feet that she’d just confessed to making.  Instead, his brother had the same confused expression Skylar had greeted him with.
The next moments were a blur filled with lots of tears and hugs and jumping up and down as Hawk pulled Wade outside into the yard and announced his return to the family.  Each of the McKinnons ran to greet him.  The moment that was most difficult was seeing his mother and how much the news of his death had worn her down.  She still had the twinkle in her eyes, but the years had taken a toll.
“My boy is home,” Kate said through sobs, pulling him into an embrace.  “I have all my boys again.”
His father wrapped his arms around both Kate and Wade and gave them a long hug.  “Now I believe in miracles,” he said.
They made quick introduction of all the new people in the McKinnon family.  Although Wade had been watching closely to make sure his family had been safe, he knew none of the details that changed the dynamics of his family.
He quickly learned that Hawk, the closest in age to him, was now engaged to Regis, a beautiful woman who’d traveled the world with her father while he was in the military.  His family as well as Hawk had won her over and now Regis was determined to dig some roots for the first time in her life here in Rudolph.
Wade had known for some time that Logan had lost his wife, Kelly, nearly two years ago and that in the time he’d been gone, they’d had a son who was now five years old.  But he was equally pleased to see that Logan’s old flame, Poppy Ericksen, had healed Logan’s broken heart.  A wedding was already being planned for the end of the year.
Wade didn’t think he’d ever seen Ethan, Logan’s twin, in love before.  But after a stellar military career as a Navy SEAL where he dealt with the tragic death of his best friend, Denny, he’d managed to capture the heart of Denny’s younger sister, Maddie.  Whatever ghosts had been haunting his brother all these years were now gone.
But the biggest surprise of all had been Sam, who’d had always had a passion for women and for fighting fires.  He’d met his match with Summer Bigelow, a dispatcher who’d moved to South Dakota from Providence.  He soon learned that the two of them had taken up residence in his old room above the garage.
As he moved through the crowd of family, Wade stopped in front of Logan and peered down at the young boy who had wrapped himself around Logan’s leg.
“I know who this little man is,” Wade said.  “But does he know who I am?”
Little Keith half hid himself from view.  “Daddy says you’re Uncle Wade,” he said in a small voice.
Wade laughed as he crouched down.  “That’s right.”  He held out his hand to shake Keith’s.  Keith glanced up at Logan who gave him the okay.  Keith reached out and gave Wade a hard shake of his hand.
Wade tried to act surprised by Keith’s grip.  “Wow, he’s a McKinnon all right.”
“And who’s this little guy in Auntie Poppy’s arms?”  The little boy buried his face in Poppy’s neck, hiding from his view.  Wade already knew the little boys name.  He’d done his homework before deciding to finally come home.
Hawk tried to pull the boy from Poppy’s arms, but the little guy wouldn’t budge.  Then Hawk turned to Wade and said, “This is Alex.  Skylar’s son.”
Looking around, it suddenly dawned on Wade that he hadn’t seen Skylar in a while.
“Where did Skylar go?”
“I don’t know,” Poppy said.  “Alex didn’t want to leave so I said I’d take him for the night.  Then she ran out.”
His stomach sank.  “Wait, she just left?  Where did she go?”
His mother’s eyes probed his face.  She must have sensed the unrest in him from his reaction.  She said to Poppy, “Why don’t you bring the boys to the table for something to eat.  I’m sure they’re hungry after all this excitement”
Poppy lowered Alex to the ground and took both Alex and Keith by the hand.  “Sounds like a good idea.  Let’s go see if Grandpa saved the hamburgers from burning.  If not, we’ll skip lunch and eat some watermelon first.”
Both of the boys yelled, “Yeah!”  Then they pulled from her grip and ran to the other side of the yard where the picnic table was set up.
Kate waited until the boys were fully out of earshot.  “What’s going on, Wade?”
He watched the two boys laughing as they climbed onto the picnic table, sitting next to each other.  “They could be brothers.”
Hawk took a deep breath and placed a hand on Wade’s shoulder.  “Close.  They’re cousins.”
Kate’s eyes widened with surprise.  “What?”
Wade stared at Hawk’s face to see if he was serious, to confirm what he’d long suspected, but didn’t know as fact.
Hawk nodded.  “Alex is your son, Wade.”


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