Writing Update! News! Read All About It!

It’s probably not as exciting as the subject line sounds, but I thought I’d post to let you know what’s I have going at the moment. Summer is here in North Dakota USA, so I’m sweating and moaning. In five months I’ll be shivering and moaning. LOL  But I should get to the point.

So, NEWS:

Zizzling

I will be part of a blog hop beginning Friday August 1 and ending Sunday August 3. That’s next weekend! I love these bloghops because they are so well run, and there are tons of great prizes. Not just gift cards and free books, but the grand prize is a Kindle Fire. I will be offering a download of any of my ebooks or audiobooks, plus I’ll be running another contest on my blog. If you are a cat lover, you might like to sign up.  One winner will have the right to name and design Rose’s cat. This cat will be Sky’s mortal enemy, but even Sky has to love him when he helps to save Rose.  You can signup for an email reminder at www.JustRomance.Me  So, be sure to swing by next weekend.

The other thing is that on Wednesday October 29 2014 I’ll be having a Facebook Party. You can ask me any question and I’ll be having games  and prizes. The main prize will be a (very raw and unedited) ARC of Wolf’s Princess. I’ll be sending out more info on that in a couple of months.

 

WRITING UPDATE:

We are coming to the end of Wolf’s Lady, the serial short story I’ve been posting on Tuesdays on my blog. I haven’t posted all of it, and I think it will be about 35,000 words long. I plan to have it released for free on December 5, 2014. It will be on my website, and Smashwords. I’ll upload it on Amazon also, but they don’t allow a book to be started at FREE. It must be at least $0.99, and then people can report it as free in other online stores and Amazon will match the price. So you might want to download it from Smashwords if you prefer a kindle. More about that to come.

 

I feel like I’m doing well with Wolf’s Princess. I love, love LOVE this story. Sky is half Alpha jerk and half tender lover.  Rose is snarky, pragmatic, and brave. Once she figures out what she wants, she goes for it.  Poor Sky doesn’t have a chance. Not that he complains after the first few chapters. I hope to have it ready to go out to the Beta readers by mid-October and hopefully will have it submitted to Liquid Silver by mid-November. I can’t tell you for sure when it will be released, because it depends on the publisher’s schedule, how long edits take, etc, but my educated guess is late February to mid March.

 

Well, I better sign off and get Rose and Sky going on their first kiss. Fireworks are about to erupt in the form of a small, mean feline who despises Sky. :)

 

Tuesday Teaser July 22: Wolf’s Lady Part 27

We’re coming to the end of this story, but it’s not quite done yet. :)  NOTE:  This tidbit has a mild spoiler for Wolf’s Vengeance. I think that book’s been out long enough for the spoiler to be okay, but I wanted to give fair warning in case anyone has strong feelings about having a book spoiled.  So, with no further ado, I give you the very raw and unedited Wolf’s Lady.

 

Amanda held her husband’s hand as they strolled through the streets of Omaha to her father’s house. He looked handsome in his charcoal grey trousers and brick red raw silk shirt open at the throat. She had combed his hair and fastened it into a sleek tail that hung between his shoulder blades to the skinny black belt around his narrow waist. She decided every man with a high tight ass should have a pair of well tailored dress pants to show off his assets. Any woman would be proud to walk hand in hand with Sand, but no one else would ever have the chance, because he was hers.

It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk, sunny and warm, but not hot, with a light breeze. She had her mother’s hand knit shawl tucked into her bag, since the walk home could be chilly. It was a lengthy walk from Sky’s House in what was called the Gold Coast to her childhood home in the poor part of Omaha. They arrived and she tugged him to a halt at the edge of the bare yard to look at the small house.

“I’m going to miss it,” she said. “I know it’s not a big place, or even very nice, but it was home.”

Sand lifted their joined hands to his lips and kissed her fingers. “If I could, I would bring it with us to the den.”

“I know you would. But then where would my father live?”

“He’d always be welcome to live with us at the den.”

Amanda shook her head slowly. “Since my cousin has been named his legal ward, they couldn’t leave Omaha without paying a huge fee. Well, he could, but she couldn’t, and of course he’d never leave her behind.”

He stared at her for a moment, a strange look on his face that morphed into disgust. “Of course the greedy city fathers of Omaha wouldn’t let a woman out of their grasp without being paid for it.”

Oh, God, she thought, looking around to see if anyone could overhear them. The City Guard didn’t patrol this neighborhood the way they did the more prosperous sections of the city, but anyone could inform on them. When she made frantic shushing motions at him he lowered his voice. “If she wants to leave, there are ways to smuggle her out of Omaha.”

She tugged his hand to get him moving to the house. “No, that would be too dangerous.”

He moved obediently toward the house. “How much is the fee?”

“I think it’s one hundred gold strips. I have a little money left, but not enough to pay that.”

Sand muttered something in Lakota and walked with her up the wooden steps to the front door. She knocked. He asked, “Why are you knocking? This is your home.”

“Not anymore. My home is with you from now on.”

Her father opened the door in the middle of her comment. “Now, that’s not quite true, little girl. Your home is with your husband, for sure, but this will always be your home. And Sand’s too.”

Sand shook her father’s hand and they all walked into the small living room. “Smells good,” Sand said.

Her cousin came in from the kitchen, wearing a smile and her novice uniform. Sand went to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Supper smells delicious, cousin. Did you make some of your famous bread?”

Sara grinned. “No, but I made dinner rolls.”

Amanda went and gave her cousin a hug. “What can I do to help with supper.?”

“Supper’s ready, but you could help carry food into the dining room.”

An hour later, Amanda leaned back in her chair, feeling pleasantly full. Her husband and her father were deep in a discussion about rat control. Amanda made a face at Sara, and the girl smothered a giggle behind her hand.

“Let’s leave them to it,” she suggested. “I can help you with dishes.”

Sara accepted the offer. Amanda stood in the familiar kitchen, on the rug her mother had made laid over the section of worn out linoleum  in front of the sink, and dried the supper dishes while Sara washed them.

“This is the last time I’ll do this,” she said quietly. “At least, for a very long time.”

Sara smiled at her as she set the last pan into the drying rack. “I remember how hard it was for me when my dad died. I haven’t seen our place in Kansas since.”

That was a reminder to Amanda to be thankful. Her father was still alive, and she hadn’t been sold to be a prize in a Bride Fight. “I’m sorry. That must have been so hard.”

Sara was quiet for a few minutes, her face furrowed with sorrow. “It was. But at least I’m safe here for the time being.” Her face brightened. “And I got a letter from my husband. It was only a few lines long, but it means he’s thinking of me. He hasn’t forgotten me.”

From the entry to the kitchen, Sand spoke. “He hasn’t forgotten you. No wolf would ever forget his mate.”

“Even if he wanted to?” Sara’s smile twisted. “Never mind. When you get back home be sure to tell Spot hi from me, and tell him I’m waiting for him.”

“I’ll tell him.” His voice softened when he turned to Amanda. “Darling, we need to leave.”

Amanda hung up the dish towel and sent a lingering glance around the kitchen. It was time for her to leave. She forced a spring into her step as she walked to the front door of the house. She would be on tomorrow’s train to go to her new home in Kearney. She was looking forward to that, but …

“Daddy,” she whispered, feeling the tears start. ”Daddy, I’m going to miss you.”

Her father’s arms closed around her, not quite as strong as they had been when she was a girl, but just as warm and loving. “I’ll miss you too, little girl. But I’m glad to know you’ll be away from Omaha with a fine man for a husband. Now, don’t cry. You’ll get me started.”

“You’ll come live with us someday,” she said fiercely. “In only a couple of years, you’ll be free to come west. There will be room in our house. Right, Sand?”

“Yes.” Sand put a hand on her father’s arm. “You’ll always be welcome in the Pack.”

Sara’s eyes were streaming, but she tried to stop. “I know you have to go, but I wish you didn’t. It’s a long walk back to Sky’s House and it’s dark. Will you be safe?”

“Sand is with me.” She hugged her cousin one more time. “Of course I will.”

But she was wrong.

Tuesday Teaser July 15, 2014 Wolf’s Lady Part 26

This week’s tidbit is really is just a tidbit. The point I want to get across here is that Sand and Amanda are enjoying their honeymoon. They are becoming comfortable telling each other how they feel, and they love one another. Not a lot of action here, but I felt it was necessary before having them go have dinner with her father and cousin.

Enjoy!

 

Sand woke, exquisitely aware of his mate pressed against him. She was on her side, her back against his chest and her ass snuggled into his groin, and desire, fresh and hot, rose in him again. He listened to her soft breathing and something Quill had told him a long time ago came back. Quill told him the first time he made love with his mate, he’d wept. At the time Sand thought Quill was pretty stupid to cry at a time like that, but now, feeling Amanda lying so close to him, showing such utter acceptance and trust, Sand understood. Tears of joy, awe, and overwhelming tenderness were gathering in his eyes now. After years of silently yearning to have a woman to love, his mate was lying next to him. He burrowed his nose into Amanda’s soft hair and breathed in her scent.

“I love you,” he whispered into her hair.

She didn’t wake, so he lay beside her and enjoyed her scent in his nose and her warmth beside him. She was his mate. No matter how many times he thought it, the joy of it remained fresh and new. He would never be alone again, now that he had her.

Over the next three days, early morning became one of Sand’s favorite times. Amanda always slept long past sunup, so he had plenty of time to revel in her presence at his side. Of course, that was only one of his favorite times. The nights when they shared passion were even better. Amanda told him what to do to please her, and he eagerly followed her instructions, and even embellished them with his own imagination. He delighted in making her scream his name. Later mornings were wonderful too, after she woke up and he made love to her again. Night time was for hot passion; mornings were for tenderness. He loved all of it.

On the fourth morning after their wedding, Amanda stretched languorously after she had gotten her breath back. She looked up at him from the rumpled bedclothes and giggled.  “You look pretty smug, there, husband. You practically ooze satisfaction.”

“You satisfy me,” he told her solemnly. “Making love with you satisfies me, and so does lying here like this, just talking. I’m so lucky. A lot of wolves never choose a mate, and even those who do aren’t always accepted.”

“I love you, Sand.”

He would never get tired of hearing that. Her hair was scattered over the pillow, a beautiful frame for her beautiful face. I love you, Amanda.”

“Come on!” She tossed the sheet back and got out of bed to stretch. “
Tonight we’re going home for supper, remember? You looked fabulous in Sky’s suit. Let’ s go buy you one.”

He tried to stifle his horror. “A suit? I need to wear a suit to eat with your dad?”

“Well, no.” She smoothed her face out, but he could smell her disappointment. “Not if you don’t want to.”

She was naked, pale and lovely and soft. He pulled her against him and kissed her hair. “I will if you want me to.”

She leaned back to look into his face. “I can tell you hate the idea.”

Already she knew him well enough to read him. “I don’t, no. But if it will make you happy…”

Her finger was unbearably gently on his lower lip. “How about a pair of slacks and a dress shirt?”

“No tie?”

“No tie,” she confirmed.

He kissed her deeply. “No wonder I love you. You can buy me a shirt and pants and I’ll wear them. For you.”

“Thank you. We can go shopping now and if there are any alterations that need to be made…” She paused when he pressed her against his erection. “Again?”

Her voice held a little surprise, but no complaint. “If you don’t mind,” he said, straight-faced.

He loved her laugh, and adored her stroking fingers. “No, I don’t mind. We can go shopping a little later.”

How To Make Win Win Magnets

All done

I have some old business cards left over, and I’m too darned stingy to just throw them away. My sister and my niece made me some fridge magnets, and while I was admiring them, a thought popped into my head. Hey! I could make some cute magnets out of my business cards! It took me almost no time to make a dozen of them, and didn’t cost very much, and now I’ve gotten rid of some old business cards that were just taking up space. That’s what I call a Win Win! And then I thought: Wow! What a great thing to do with lots of the swag that I’ve gotten. I mean, I hardly read paperbacks anymore, so I could recycle all those great bookmarks I’ve picked up at conventions that are too nice to throw away. Oh, and maybe my mom would like some magnets with the grandkids’ pictures!  Or those Christmas cards I keep saving but never do anything with could be great seasonal magnets!  And the more I thought, the more hooked I became on this quick and easy craft. And, being a nice, generous person, I thought I’d share how I did it.

 

supplies

Gather  supplies.  I used the following:

 

Glass bubbles.

     I don’t actually know what these are called, but they are glass round things flat on one side and rounded on the other. You can get them in the floral section in the craft store, or in the mosaic making section. Mine are about 1 inch in diameter and about a quarter of an inch tall. Mine cost $2.99 for a 2 pound bag. You can get something like them for a buck at the dollar store. Or you can buy square glass tiles for a bit more.

 

A clear adhesive to glue the picture onto the bubble.

     I looked at my glue supplies at home, and considered the Mod Podge, but it was pretty thick and old. I picked up some “Glossy Accents” at the craft store for $5.99.  I couldn’t find Diamond Glaze, which is what others have used.

 

Magnets

     I bought a 48 count pack of 3/4 inch round magnets for $7.99.

 

Glue

     A good, strong glue is what you want here. I already had some E6000, but Goop would be fine, or whatever you like.

 

Pictures

     Anything you want. Scan and print photographs. Cut out pieces of pretty wrapping paper, old Christmas cards,  Valentine’s cards, paper swag from Romance Conventions like bookmarks, trading cards, and postcards, or whatever you want.

 

Hole Punch

     This actually optional. I already had a 1 inch round hole punch from my scrap booking days. A pair of scissors would work just fine. If you decide to buy one it would cost under $10.00.

 

 

Directions:

 

1. Clean the glass bubbles to be sure there’s no lint or dust on them.

 

cut out image

2. Cut out your paper. Should be a hair smaller than the flat side of the glass bubble. Doesn’t have to be exact. The glass isn’t always a perfect circle.

 

 

 

 

smear glue on bubble

 

3. Smear a small amount of adhesive to the flat side of the bubble.

 

 

 

 

put photo on glass bubble

4. Place the paper on flat side of bubble, picture side to glass, and gently move it around to be sure the adhesive coats all parts of the paper. Smooth it flat to get any air bubble out. Let dry an hour or so, until it is completely dry.

 

 

 

 

glue on magnet

5. Squirt a pea sized dollop of the strong glue to back of picture. Press magnet firmly into the glue. Set aside to dry.

 

 

 

 

 

Done! See how easy that is? Unique and fun gifts that take very little time and very little money. Even if you have to buy every item needed, including the hole punch, and pay to have old photos printed out, I think the magnets come out to about $0.49 each. But watch for sales and clip coupons, and it’s more like $0.28 each. A set of 6 would be a great stocking stuffer gift and could be tailored to the recipient.  Know a quilter? Know a cat lover? This is a perfect, easy gift with a quirky, personal touch that won’t take weeks to make or break your budget. That’s why I call these Win Win Magnets.

Tuesday Teaser July 8, 2014: Wolf’s Lady Part 25

          At last the end is in sight. After this there is just one more big scene, and then the wrap up. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself! I have finished writing the wedding night scene. I hope you will like it. I finished it literally just now, and haven’t even looked at it again, so it is probably littered with typos and all kinds of other boo boos. Please disregard them.

 

          For those of you who are just finding this now, I have been writing a serial short story called Wolf’s Lady, about Sand, one of the wolf warriors of the Lakota Wolf Clan, and Miss Amanda, a business woman employed in Sky’s house in Omaha. This story takes place a few months after Wolf’s Vengeance ends, and approx a year and a half before Wolf’s Princess begins. To read it from the beginning, click Wolf’s Lady in the list of categories on the right.

 

          I am picking back up a little before the end of last week’s tidbit, so the first few paragraphs are repeats. I am once again giving you a link to the pages, because these are explicit love scenes not meant for anyone under 18.  If you are not an adult in your country, please do not click the link below. For everyone else, enjoy!

 

Wolf’s Lady Wedding Night

Happy Fourth of July!

fireworks-new-year_737942

Here in the States, we’re celebrating our Independence Day.  For most of us that means, picnics, parades, and Fireworks.

Well, I have some fireworks to set off too.  Rose and Sky will be pretty explosive.  Click Here to read the first two chapters UNEDITED of Wolf’s Princess.

 

Happy Fourth and Happy Reading!

Tuesday Teaser July 1, 2014 Wolf’s Lady Part 24

Okay, you’ll all going to want to kill me. I promised the wedding night scene for this week’s teaser, but I didn’t finish it.  I’m leaving you hanging here but I have a really good reason. I got so busy with Sky and Rose’s story, that I ran out of time. I promise I will finish it in a few days. Meanwhile, I am attaching the first 5 pages as a word docx. The first four pages could be posted here, but the last page is a teeny bit steamy. I don’t want young people to stumble over it on accident. If you are 18 years old (or the age of adulthood in your country)  click below to read the next tidbit in Sand and Amanda’s story. It will take you to the download page. Thank you for your patience!

 

 Wolf’s Lady Wedding Night Part 1

Sleeping With the Wolf FREE!!

I am so excited! My first book is FREE!

sleepingwiththewolf

          iTunes is running a First In Series world-wide promotion this summer, and my After the Crash series was selected for it. That means Sleeping With  the Wolf is FREE at iTunes for the next few weeks. I don’t know how to link to iTunes, but you can go there and search for Sleeping With the Wolf.

          My publisher, LSBooks, has set the book to Free at some other online bookstores too. If you don’t have a copy yet, you can click the links below. Tell your friends too. This is only a for a few weeks, so grab it now!

At Amazon

At Barnes & Noble

 

Tuesday Teaser 6/24/14: Wolf’s Lady Part 23

Hello! We’re heading down the home stretch of this little short story about Sand and Amanda. I think I’ll have this rough draft wrapped up by the end of July. But we’ll see. You recall we left Amanda telling Terry Askup he wasn’t man enough to handle a woman like her, and the only man who would handle her from now on was Sand? We pick up now from Sand’s point of view. Enjoy!

Delight and elation soared in Sand. My mate, he thought. My mate is magnificent. He said, “I love you too,” but the people in the room were shouting and laughing, and she was glaring challengingly at Askup, so maybe she didn’t hear him. That was okay. He’d tell her again later. He would tell her every day for the rest of their lives.

The judge stood at his desk, face red while he banged his hammer and shouted for silence. Since his desk was at the top of a few steps, he was taller than anyone else. Sand forced himself to look away from his mate and focus on the judge.

“Order! Silence! Order! If you clowns in the gallery don’t shut up and sit down, I’ll empty the courtroom!”

The judge’s threat was effective. The room quieted. The judge cleared his throat and pointed his wooden hammer at Amanda. “You may sit down, ma’am.”

Sand heard her settle herself back into her chair. The judge remained standing at his desk.

“It is clear to this court that the discord between Mr. Askup and Mr. Wolfe stems from their ardent desire to win the affections of the same woman. She has stated before this court that her affections belong to Mr. Wolfe. Based on the evidence and testimony heard today, I find that both the plaintiff and the defendant are at fault. They will each be fined two gold strips or one hundred hours of community service.”

Two gold? Sand’s heart sank. He didn’t have any money at all. One hundred hours of labor he could do, but he wanted to take Amanda home as soon as possible. He couldn’t wait to introduce her to the Pack by Kearney, and then take her out to the Clan on the plains to meet his father and brothers.

“That ridiculous!” protested Askup. He shook off his lawyer’s hand. “I am not at fault here!”

“I say you are, and since I am the appointed judge of the court, I think my word carries a little more weight than yours.”

Askup turned his head to look behind Sand, obviously at Amanda. “Amanda, I know you’re being coerced. You can’t want to marry that filthy, longhaired—”

“Oh, but I do,” Amanda spat.

“That’s enough,” the judge said with authority.

Askup gave the man a hostile stare. “This part has nothing to do with your court, so stay out of it. Amanda, if you actually marry this Indian, I will kill him and bring you home with me.”

Sand bared his teeth at the threat. He heard Sky’s voice urging him to calm down. There was only so much he could take. Counting each breath that hissed through his clenched teeth helped. So did the expression on the judge’s face. He didn’t know the judge, but any fool could see Askup had said the wrong thing.

“This is my courtroom,” Judge Case said coolly, “and I’m raising your fine another two strips of gold, for contempt of court! And one more, for threatening the life of a man within the hearing of the court.”

Could a man’s face get so dark without harming his heart? Sand was amazed and even a little worried. If Askup dropped dead it might upset Amanda. But his worry was swallowed by anger when Askup spoke next.

“I forbid you to marry him. Do you understand me, Amanda? I forbid it! A whore should be good at taking orders; why can’t you just listen to me?”

“That’s enough!”

The judge’s roar cut through Sand’s growl. He could almost taste Sky’s suppressed rage behind him. Sand subsided, holding to a sliver of his temper with great effort. The judge waved a hand at Amanda behind him.

“Stand up, my dear, stand up and approach the bench. Bring your fiancé with you, please.”

Amanda’s soft hand slipped into his. Just the scent of her calmed him. They walked the few yards to stand in front of the judge’s raised desk. The judge leaned forward to look at both of them and spoke quietly.

“Do you have enough to pay the marriage fee?”

“Yes,” Amanda answered quickly. “And enough to pay his fine.”

“Good.” The judge straightened and raised his voice to a boom. “It is the pleasure of this court to unite Miss Amanda and Mr. Wolfe in the bonds of Holy Matrimony immediately. Mr. Wolfe, please take your bride by the ha— Good God. Bailiff! Unlock the shackles on this man.”

Amanda waved a shaky hand at the judge. “Johnny, I mean, Your Honor, right now?”

Sand’s heart plummeted to his stomach. “Have you changed your mind?”

“No!” Her hand, which had released him so the handcuffs could be removed, clutched his hand again. Her eyes looked into his with a smile, and he was ready to do anything so she would keep smiling at him like that. “I will marry you this second. But  I want my dad to give me away.” She looked back up at the judge. “Please, I want my father here.”

“Very well.” The judge beckoned at one of the uniformed guardsmen. “Go fetch Mr. Nelson. Waste no time. We’re starting in a half hour whether he’s here or not.”

“And my cousin, if you see her!” Amanda called at the departing man.

Askup’s face was livid right down to his jowls. “Do I have the court’s permission to withdraw?” he asked, sarcasm dripping from his voice.

“No, you do not.” The judge’s smile was anything but friendly. “You will stay and witness this marriage. That way, I and all of Omaha, will know that you cannot be ignorant of the union. And you do recall, don’t you, that the punishment for interfering with a marriage can be anything up to death?”

Terry Askup subsided, his color now sickeningly pale. But Sand couldn’t care less about that. Amanda stood at his side, holding his arm with that brilliant smile on her face. In only a few minutes she would be his wife, and nothing else mattered to him.

 There you go! Next week I’ll have to post a link to follow so you can read their wedding night scene.  That will be for the over 18 crowd ;)

Tuesday Teaser June 17, 2014 Wolf’s Lady Part 22

Hello! I’m back with an extra long snip from Wolf’s Lady to make up for missing last week. I’m also including a pic of the real Amanda, a friend that I’ve loosely based this character on. We spent part of Saturday doing pictures. When I’ve finished this story I will put it away until I’ve submitted Wolf’s Princess, then I will have it edited, and I’ll do a re-write based on the edits, then I will make it available for free on my website. I’ll get a cover made using one of the pictures from Saturday’s photo shoot.

Before we get to the tidbit, I wanted to let you know that I have officially started Wolf’s Princess. My soft goal to have the rough draft done is October 10. We’ll see how I do with that. :)  And now, with no further ado (I’ve always wanted to say that!) here is Sand and Amanda.

 

Amanda returned home from shopping with a box under her arm containing a lacy nightie that covered almost nothing, and a sheer robe that hid barely more. Cayla walked beside her in the light drizzle through the gates to Sky’s House. She nodded to Randy, the gate guard, as he swung the gate closed behind them.

“You should have had something made up special,” Cayla said, nodding at the package Amanda tried to shield from the rain. “I mean, that one special night with the one special man deserves something unique.”

“That would have taken at least a week.” Amanda smiled in anticipation. “I’m not waiting that long.”

Their hair was damp by the time they rushed into the house, laughing, but their laughter died when they saw Sky standing in the front hall, face set in harsh lines.

“Where’s Sand?” Amanda asked, heart jumping in her chest.

“Come back to my office.”

She gripped her box tighter for a moment before surrendering it to Cayla. The compassion on the other woman’s face hurt. She followed Sky to his office, noticing he had changed into jeans and a cotton button down shirt. He had been back for a while, then.

As soon as the door closed, she asked, “Where is Sand?”

Sky looked her right in the eye. “During the meeting, he attacked Terry. He was arrested for assault. He’s in the City cells.”

Turning away with fist clenched against her stomach, Amanda huffed, “That idiot!”

“He was provoked. Askup said some nasty things.”

Amanda whirled back with a swing of damp hair. “Not Sand. Terry! That asshole just won’t give up. Doesn’t he understand English? Is he stupid enough to think this will make me accept him?”

“Who can say what a stupid man thinks when he’s in love?” Sky’s voice was full of bitterness that he instantly banished. “I petitioned for a speedy trial. It’s going to be even speedier than I expected. Three pm today.”

That didn’t give them much time to plan a defense. “Where’s Joe?”

“He’s with Sand, coaching him in how to answer questions at the trial.”

“Good.” Joe Sullivan was a quiet man whose thin pale hair matched the rest of him. Shy and unassuming until he stood in a courtroom, Sky’s lawyer was passionate in pursuit of justice. “I’ll go get changed. Don’t leave without me.”

Sky caught her elbow. “No, you need to stay here.”

“Are you crazy?” She jerked her elbow free. “This is my fiancé we’re talking about.”

“Your fiancé?” Something lit Sky’s eyes to radiant blue. “You’re accepted him?”

“Yeah. He doesn’t know it yet, but yeah. I decided this morning that I would marry him.”

Sky was silent for a moment before nodding. “Get changed and have something to eat. We leave for City Hall in an hour.”

 

 

*  *  *

The courtroom was packed. That was unexpected, considering how the trial time had been rushed through. Amanda could see a Amanda-3dozen of her usual appointments present, as well as quite a few young men, apparently expecting to see a show. If the trial went badly for Sand, she would damn sure give them a show. Terry was sitting with another man, probably his lawyer, at a table at the left in the front of the courtroom. She studiously ignored him as she let Sky’s firm hand guide her into a chair right behind the defendant’s table on the right. Joe Sullivan was already there, shuffling papers in a false show of nerves.  Sky leaned forward to whisper in the lawyer’s ear.

She smoothed the skirt of her floral maxi dress over her knees while the men whispered. What to wear had had been a hard choice. She wavered over her one conservative suit, but decided to wear a dress Sand had admired. Her hair was brushed out, damp from the rain, over her bare shoulders. She wore less makeup than usual. As she’d feared, even with an umbrella, she’s gotten wet on the walk downtown. No way would she attend Sand’s trial with her mascara smeared over her face as if she’d been crying. Instead she put her shoulders back, slipped the skinny shoulder strap of her dress back up and put a mildly interested expression on her face.

It was hard to maintain that expression when the door to the side of the room opened and Sand was marched in. He was still gorgeous in Sky’s borrowed suit, but the handcuffs holding his wrists together in front of him made Amanda’s blood boil. His face, with eyes narrowed into black slits, looked barely civilized. The Guardsmen steered him to the table beside Joe, nearly within touching distance of her. When he saw herm, his eyes opened wide.

“Amanda,” he said, twisting around in his chair to stare at her.

“I’m here with you, Sand.” She kissed her fingertips and flicked her fingers toward him to throw him the kiss. “I’ll always be with you.”

He opened his mouth to say something, but Joe tugged on his sleeve, murmuring urgently. The reluctance was obvious when he turned around, leaving her to stare at his hair. It was still braided, with the watery light from the windows gleaming on the rain that wet it.

“All rise for Judge John J. Case,” the bailiff bawled.

Amanda relaxed a little and stood. Johnny had been one of her regulars until he married five years ago. And, more importantly, he wasn’t a friend of Terry’s. She made sure she caught Johnny’s eye as he mounted the steps to his seat. She gave him only the smallest of smiles, trying to convey thoughtful respect, no flirtation or sassy appeal. His answering smile and nod were warm, lifting some of the weight off her chest.

“Everybody, take your seats,” Johnny said, settling himself behind the tall imposing desk. “Bailiff, read me the charges.”

“Mr. Terrence Askup, plaintiff, accuses Mr. Sand Wolfe, defendant, of physical assault on two occasions, the first on the evening of September 10th of this year, and the second in the morning of September 30. That would be today, Judge.”

“I know what day it is,” the judge said, gazing at Terry with a cool expression before turning that same expression on Sand. “How does the defendant plead?”

Joe and Sand stood up. “Mr. Wolfe pleads not guilty to both charges.”

The back of Terry’s neck went red and he leapt to his feet. “Liar!”

Johnny cast him a narrow-eyed glare. “The plaintiff is not to speak unless asked a question. Sit down, gentlemen.”

Amanda couldn’t see Terry’s face, but she would bet he was scowling. The judge raised a sheaf of paper. “I want quiet in the courtroom while I review the complaint.” He muttered something about haste making waste, and began reading. After long minutes he raised his head again.

“It says here that Mr. Sand Wolfe is employed by Mr. Sky Wolfe in the capacity of Hall Monitor, which I believe is a fancy word for bouncer.”

Some of the men in the room laughed.

“Mr. Askup alleges Mr. Sand Wolf ejected him from the premises with no explanation and excessive force, causing bodily harm. Is that right, Mr. Askup?”

“Yes!”

Amanda saw Sand twitch, and Joe lay a soothing hand over his wrist.

The judge read the paper again. “And this morning Mr. Sand Wolfe attacked you in the mayor’s home without cause or reason. Is that right?”

Terry’s neck reddened again. Shame? Amanda hoped so, but she doubted it. “Yes,” he said loudly.

“Do you have any changes you’d like to make to your statement or anything to add?”

Terry’s lawyer whispered into his ear. Terry shook his head as if irritated. “No, Your Honor.”

“Very well. Mr. Wolfe?” Johnny cast a quick glance at Sky and clarified, “Sand Wolfe?”

Sand and Joe stood up.

“The complaint states you removed Mr. Askup from Sky’s House without any explanation. Is that true?”

“No, Your Honor,” Sand said in a clear, level voice. “I told Mr. Askup that his appointment had been cancelled. That all his appointments with Miss Amanda had been cancelled. He said very insulting things about me and tried to push past me to go to Miss Amanda’s room. I had to lift him off his feet to stop him. I carried him down the stairs and pushed him outside. If he got bruised, it was his own fault. He should have left when he was told to.”

The gallery buzzed with whispered and chuckles. The noise stopped dead when Terry leapt to his feet.

“She’s my fiancée!” he yelled.

Noise broke out again. Sand fell into a half couch. Next to her Sky stiffened and said quietly, “Easy, cousin. Don’t make the change here.”

Incredibly, Sand seemed to have heard him even over the noise. He relaxed. “You asked her to marry you. She refused.”

Terry began to yell again, but the bailiff grabbed hold of his arm as Johnny banged his gavel on his desk. “Silence!” he roared. “You will have another chance to speak, as long as you stay quiet now! Mr. W—Sand Wolfe, what happened this morning?”

“My cousin Sky and I went to the mayor’s house to meet Askup because he was making trouble. An inquiry. Or an investigation?”

The judge lifted a page, scanned it. “Yes, it’s here. What happened? Did you assault Mr. Askup?”

“I wanted to pound his face in,” Sand said, “but I didn’t. I might have, if Sky hadn’t stopped me.”

More laughter from the gallery. Terry was not well liked in Omaha.

“The complaint states you attacked the plaintiff for not reason. Is that true?”

“I had plenty good reason!” Anger threaded liberally through Sand’s voice. “He said filthy things about Amanda.”

Joe spoke for the first time. “A man has a right to defend his fiancee’s honor.”

Amanda saw that Sand and Terry both stiffened, but probably for different reasons. Sand swung around to stare at her, confusion and hope on his face. She smiled at him and nodded.

Terry screamed, “She’s my fiancée!”

“The hell she is!” Sand roared back.

“Dear God,” Johnny growled. “Bailiff! Separate the plaintiff and the defendant.”

Actually, Sand hadn’t moved. He stood straight, fists clenched  at his sides, but Terry was trying to get to him. The bailiff wrestled Terry back to his table. He stared, wild-eyed, at Amanda.

“I asked you to marry me!” he shouted.

“And I told you no,” she shouted back.

The gallery tittered like schoolgirls, staring at the front of the courtroom like it was the most fascinating play they’d ever seen. Amanda felt her cheeks flush. She sat back in her chair, trying to calm herself.

“Aha,” said the judge, like a man who had finally smashed the mosquito that had been buzzing around his face all night. “Both of you seem to think you’re engaged to marry the same woman. And here is the lady herself. Miss Amanda, if you would satisfy the court’s curiosity on one point, the court would be grateful. Yes, stand up, please, and tell us which, if either, of these two men you would like to be your husband?”

She stood up, feeling slightly wobbly, but Sky beside her and Sand in front of her, steadied her. “Your Honor, I am going to marry Sand Wolfe.”

The blaze of joy in Sand’s face made tears smart her eyes. “I love you, Sand,” she said in a low voice she hoped he could hear over the roar of the gallery.

“No!” It was a demented scream from Terry. He clawed at the bailiff to free himself. “You can’t marry that stinking Indian. He’s not good enough for you.”

The gavel thudded repeatedly while the judge shouted for silence. The roar had almost died to nothing when Amanda put one hand on her hip and glowed at Terry. “You think you’re good enough for me? Listen, sugar, I am way too much woman for a pencil dick like you to handle. From now on the only man to handle me will be Sand.”

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