Can love survive the ultimate betrayal?
Rivals, Galen Odgers and Cam Fawst have shared many things. Gifted athletes and favored sons of Eagle River Wisconsin, both have been quarterbacks for the same legendary football team, the Warriors. Each was raised by a strong woman, and both love the same beautiful girl, Kjersten Solheim.
Though they despise each other, they are inexorably linked. But there is a secret about one of them, a secret that a mother took to her grave, that a high school coach swore never to reveal, and one whose consequences continue to reverberate.
Can love survive the ultimate betrayal and the revelation of a decades old secret?
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Genre: New Adult | Contemporary | Sports | Romance
Pink Satin Romance
The Fair 1985
~ Ben ~
It was the kind of night when you held hands with your girl, rather than tossing an arm over her shoulders, because you were uncomfortably aware of the big sweat patches that extended all the way down to your belt. The evening breeze was heavy and sluggish with humidity, newly spun cotton candy, and buttered popcorn. Now and then, the heavy air would pick up a hot breath of animal smells emanating from the stock pens. And everything was sticky, especially the bodies of small, sun burned, black fingernailed children. The animals tied up in the fluorescently lit “Cow Palace,” were drooping and soggy despite the flashing lights and the cacophony of sound that rudely interrupted the surrounding opaque silence of a fallow field in the Midwestern night.
Years later, Ben could still hear it, the manically cheerful music of the Ferris wheel, the melodic wailing of some local country band from the beer tent, the dull hum of voices speaking, the lowing and bleating of the discontented animals, and, occasionally, a mother’s shrill cry for a child that had wandered off. He could still smell it and taste it, and it was right there when he closed his eyes. And then it would flood him and he would ache with the tight sunbaked skin feeling of childhood summers.
There was one such Saturday night that stood out as brilliantly lit among Ben’s memories as the Vegas strip in the quiet, indigo emptiness of the desert night. He remembered being ticked because his mother had saddled him with Timmy Johansson for the evening, and that meant that Ben had to leave the fair by eleven to get the kid home on time. Timmy wasn’t a bad kid. It’s just that he tried way too hard. His mom knew the kid had problems. She was the one who made Timmy go out for football, the year that Eagle River made it to the State Championships. Galen’s year.
That night, it turned out to be a good thing that Timmy came along. At least he was someone for Ben to talk to, someone easily impressed. Galen was in one of his moods. So, there they were, doing the fair thing: Ben, Galen the mute, and Timmy, shirt buttoned all the way up his neck, don’t-look-over-at-the-beer-tent Johansson.
It must have been around ten o’clock and all three boys were about faired out. They had taken to wandering around the stock barns with no real purpose, blowing time, when they heard cheering and applause from over near the game booths. There was a pause and then the same again. A good sized crowd had formed around one of the booths. They walked over to check out what was going on. Ben couldn’t see anything at first, but the three worked their way through the crowd. Ben was tall and so it wasn’t long before he had a decent view.
The crowd had formed a semi-circle around one of those games where one throws a football through a ring. The size of the prize you win is determined by how many times consecutively a person can throw it through the ring. The area in front of the booth was all clear, except for one figure which was alternately illuminated and then shadowed by the rapidly changing Ferris wheel lights. The man stood a good thirty feet from his target. At first, Ben couldn’t make out who it was. The guy was tall and strong. His shoulders were turned sideways. He stepped, reached back, and threw. The football sailed through the hole. The crowd went nuts. Their hero stood still, basking in their praise while some kid ran the ball back to him. Just then, a light from the Ferris wheel flashed across the man’s face, illuminating him. But Ben already knew who it was; he had kept stats at too many football games throughout high school not to recognize that particular throwing style.
Timmy, who had followed Ben through the crowd, tugged at his arm. “Hey, isn’t that Cam Fawst?”
Ben spun, searching for Galen, but he had already lost him somewhere in the crowd.
“You know him, right?” Insisted Timmy. He pushed at Ben’s shoulder. “Hey, Ben, what’s up?”
“Yeah, that’s Cam.” Where was Galen?
“Could you introduce me to him? He’s the Coyotes’ quarterback! I watched him on TV. I can’t believe that he’s actually here!”
Ben watched again as Cam turned, stepped, and hurled the football. It spiraled tightly, powerfully through the hole in the board. The crowd cheered wildly again. Once more, the kid jogged the ball back to Cam.
“That’s twelve, Cam,” someone shouted.
“Don’t miss this one, Cam.”
The tall figure turned into the half-light cast by the carousel. “It’s in the bag,” that familiar deep, confident, sardonic voice announced over the manically cheerful tune shrieking out from the carousel.
“No one has ever gotten thirteen, the whole fair, Mom,” Ben heard some little kid squeal. “Look how far back he is.”
“Hush, Toby. You’ll wreck his concentration,” a feminine voice ordered.
Ben watched Cam critically. He turned and threw. The ball spiraled through the air once more. So controlled, so smooth. But Cam still threw with this arm, not his shoulder. Ben had wondered whether the coaching Cam received in Milwaukee would correct that technical flaw. But, no. It was still there. But, if you were really critical, if you examined his throwing style as a potential NFL player, then you would have to admit that he didn’t use his shoulder the way the great ones did, the Johnny Unitases, the Dan Marinos. Still, Cam was impressive. And he remained Eagle River’s favorite son.
Once again, Ben searched the crowd for Galen, but there was still no sign of him. Is Kjersten here? Ben’s stomach twisted. God, he hoped not. It was way too soon for Galen.
Then, as he stared into the front rows of the crowd, the frenetic flash of the Ferris wheel lights reflected off moonlight bright long hair. He could just make out the familiar long, slender frame. God no! She’s here. Galen can’t deal with her right now, too!
Nominated for Book of the Year 2013 By LASR
Case Thomas is always in control whether it’s on the basketball court, the lab where he works, or in his love life. He thinks he has everything all figured out. All that changes when his parents pass away during his last year of college and Case is thrown into fatherhood when he becomes temporary guardian to two adorable twin toddlers. Weeks later, exhausted and running out of time, Case must decide if he’s ready to become a father to these children, or give them up and move on with what’s left of his life. Then he meets Gabbie Vaulst.
Gabbie is amazing with the kids, owns her own business, and has all the right curves in all the right places. She can tell Case is attracted to her, but does he really love her or is he just settling for a surrogate Mom who can wrangle his new kids? Knowing that she’s falling in love with him, she chooses to push him away until his world straightens out. Can Case prove to Gabbie, and himself, that his feelings are real? Or, is this sudden family too much for both of them to handle?
The odds, as well as members of their past who’ve come out of the woodwork, are against them, but when kids are involved, all bets are off.
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Genre: Contemporary | Interracial Romance
White Satin Romance
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
Gabbie heard the sound of plastic packages falling in the row behind her. A frustrated groan started to escalate, which peaked her interest. Curiosity, being her downfall every time, made her wander into the next aisle to see a frustrated guy juggling diapers, as a small child, no more than three, used the dropped bundles as building blocks.
Normally she let the chips fall where they may, but this young guy was obviously not a father—or if he was, he was in way over his head. He looked the same age as her with his shoulder length dreads pulled back with a binder, and thick-framed dark glasses. With his striking light caramel color skin and a goatee that was starting to turn into a beard, the man stood at least six-two. What seemed to catch Gabbie’s attention the most was his firm build under a University of North Dakota T-shirt and sweatpants.
Gabbie bit at her bottom lip thinking, if he looks this hot in couch potato clothes, what will he look like dressed up?
Or better yet, undressed.
The little boy at his feet came up to his knee, with round cheeks and was a little darker than he was. The boy had a slight Afro and, when he looked up at her, she saw the deepest mahogany eyes she’d seen in her life.
The man’s frustration grew; he tossed a package of Pampers toward her and she caught it with one hand. Thank goodness for all those years behind the plate in softball, she thought.
“You know the no-shopping-cart-theory doesn’t work when you have a toddler.”
“Huh,” he replied absently, “I didn’t see you there,” he apologized.
“You’ve obviously never worked in retail and had to clean this crap up.” Gabbie bent down on one knee in front of the little boy. “Hey you, what’s your name?”
“We’re fine, really,” the man said right as the little boy cleared the bottom shelf of its merchandise. “Charlie, no,” he yelped.
“Charlie, huh? You made a mess, Charlie, and you need to help me clean it up. What if someone did that with your toys?”
Charlie’s big eyes, with the longest soft lashes she’d ever seen, looked at her trying to get out of the work. Gabbie scrunched her face in disapproval and Charlie started to put the diapers back on the shelf with his chubby hands, one bundle at a time. Gabbie placed a few on the shelf, but let Charlie do most of the work since he’d made the mess.
“How’d you do that?” the flustered man asked.
“He’s a good boy. He’s just testing your limits. Uncle? Or does his mom take him shopping?” Gabbie fished for information. God she hoped he wasn’t married.
“He’s my…I don’t know…I’m his guardian.”
“That sounds ominous,” she replied.
Gabbie restocked the last bundle on the shelf then picked up Charlie, placed him in her virtually empty cart, and buckled him in. Charlie protested at first, but one raised eyebrow from Gabbie stopped him cold. She then grabbed size four Huggies and tossed them in the basket.
“What else do you need, Guardian?”
“I don’t even know. Look, he’s my brother. My parents were killed in a car wreck two weeks ago. I had one diaper left and…” The man shook his head in despair.
“I’m so sorry. I work with kids every day. Hey, at least he’s a boy and not a girl. You’d have to deal with hair and all that stuff.”
“Girl? Oh shit, Claire.” The man ran frantically up and down the aisles crying out her name.
Gabbie frequented this Walgreens more than she wanted to admit. Something about the crappy As-Seen-On-TV aisle drew her in every time. She headed straight towards the toys and found a little girl that looked the same age as Charlie with definite dad hair pulled up into two lopsided ponytails. She sat with a smashed open package of Oreos as her chubby fingers thumbed through a picture book.
“You must be Claire,” Gabbie said as she looked at the little girl with chocolate crumbs around her mouth. True to two-year-old form she smiled at Gabbie and held a half-eaten cookie up for her. “Thank you, but you can keep it.”
“Oh my god, Claire you can’t run off like that,” the man said as he tore down the aisle and picked her up, to which she squealed in protest. “Come on lil’ bit.”
“Claire, be nice to your brother,” Gabbie said in a calm voice.
To that, Claire looked at Charlie and passed him the half-eaten cookie, which he took with gusto.
“Thank you for finding her,” the man said, dropping the remains of the cookie package in the basket. “You must be ready to call DHS on me.”
“No, not yet. I don’t even know your name.”
“I’m sorry, Case, Case Thomas,” he said, hugging Claire closer to his chest and extending his right hand, which Gabbie shook. His hand was soft, but had worn calluses.
“Gabbie Vaulst. You know what, how about a few happy meals on me. There’s a McDonalds with a Playland about three blocks from here.”
“No, you’ve done enough.”
“I insist, Guardian, and we need to get you some diapers too I suspect,” she said to Claire.
“Right, but teach me how to choose what kind?”
“That’s simple,” she said, pushing back to the baby aisle with Case right on her hip. “First, don’t get your diapers in a drug store; they don’t have big enough packages. Boys get racecars or sports equipment. Girls tend to have princesses or little animals on them. Other than that look at the weight and figure out if they’ve out grown the last size you got.”
“You have kids.”
“Me? No. I run a daycare with my friends. As for size, well you gotta know their weight, but I’m pretty good at that since I’m always lifting kids. You know they’re pretty quiet. How old are they?”
“They turned two last Christmas and no they’re not quiet, are you, Double Trouble?” Case teased as he nuzzled against Claire’s ear. Gabbie was touched.