When Emily gets an unexpected afternoon off from work due to a power outage, she decides to surprise her husband, Jesse, by preparing his favorite dish. Unfortunately, Emily will be the one in for a surprise once she arrives home. Please enjoy this sample read from the contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.
Emily stepped out into the blazing midday sun, smiling to herself as she walked across the parking lot. She would stop at the grocery store on the way home so she could prepare a surprise dinner for Jesse. Hopping into her car, she fired up the engine, and turned the air conditioning on high. After a few hot moments, the air began to feel deliciously cool. Another smile broke out across her face as she drove off. It would be the perfect opportunity for her to tell Jesse the time had come for him to keep his end of their bargain.
She soon turned into the grocery store entrance and hunted for a parking space. Tonight, she would prepare her famous chicken divan. It was Jesse’s favorite dish. She picked out her ingredients and tossed a bouquet of fresh flowers into her cart before heading to the checkout lane and out the door.
Emily frowned as she turned into her driveway. Annette’s white Civic was parked in front of the house. Jesse’s assistant usually didn’t come on Wednesdays, so something unexpected must have come up. Emily sighed as she pressed the button to open the garage door. Shutting down the engine, she quickly grabbed the grocery bags and hurried out of the hot garage. The air conditioning felt heavenly as she stepped inside the house and went straight to the kitchen.
“Hi guys. I’m home.”
There was no response. The house seemed unusually quiet. Emily set the grocery bags on the counter and went down the hallway. Jesse was using one of the downstairs bedrooms as his office. She tapped on the door and smiled as she pushed it open.
“Hey guys. The air conditioning went out and I’m–“
Her smiled faded. The room was empty. The lights were out, and Jesse’s computer was shutdown. Emily was getting a funny feeling, but quickly brushed it off. Perhaps Jesse and Annette were out by the pool. She went to the living room and opened the sliding glass door.
Again, there was no answer. The backyard was eerily quiet, and no one was by the pool. Emily closed the door and headed toward the staircase. The upper floor contained the master suite and a rarely used guest bedroom. Jesse would be leaving for Houston on Friday to facilitate a seminar. Perhaps he and Annette had gone upstairs to decide what he should pack. Emily took a deep breath and started up the stairs. Upon reaching the landing, she heard muffled voices behind the bedroom door. Jesse must have had the TV on. She hurried up the remaining flight and stepped inside.
Spring break is coming up fast, but Tonya may have to change her plans at the last minute, and Evan isn’t pleased. Please enjoy this sample read from Aquamarine.
Evan greeted her with his usual kiss when he arrived. “Ready to go?” he asked.
“In a minute.” Tonya’s tone turned serious. “First, I need to talk to you about something.”
A concerned look came over his face. “What’s wrong? Is there another family emergency?”
“No, they’re all fine.” Tonya grabbed her phone, and after touching a few buttons she handed it to Evan. “I’ve got my modeling photos. So, what do you think?”
He sat down on the sofa and started scrolling. “Well, they’re certainly interesting.” An unexpected scowl came over his face and he showed her the image on the screen. “So, what’s this?”
“It was Julianna’s suggestion, and as you can see, even though I’m topless, nothing is showing. It’s just my back and shoulders, and that, my dear, is as provocative as it gets.”
“Okay,” he said, cautiously, “but like I said before, you need to be careful. I don’t want anyone taking advantage of you.”
“Now you sound like my mother.”
“And your mother has a point.”
“I know she does, but as I’ve told you all before, it’s a legitimate agency, and this photo is as racy as it gets. At least for me.”
He seemed unconvinced as he handed back her phone. “Well, okay, I guess. Let’s get going.”
“In a minute.” She took a deep breath looked him in the eye, hoping for the best. “As you know, everything changed after my grandmother died. Fortunately, I have some money in my savings account, so I should be able to cover my rent and groceries until the end of the semester, provided I don’t splurge. I also called Mr. Loomis. He’d love to have me back at the music store this summer, and hopefully I can stay on through the rest of the year, but until then I have to watch every penny.”
“Look, if you’re worried about spring break, it’s not a problem. I’ve already taken care of our Airbnb, and we can eat in. I’m sure there are grocery stores close to where we’re staying.”
“Which’ll help, but there’s more to it.” Tonya took another deep breath. “Melissa has a possible job lined up for me during spring break.”
“Evan, please, just hear me out. Yes, I’m coming to South Padre Island, butit might not be until Tuesday night, because I may have a modeling job Tuesday morning. It’s a poster shoot for an auto parts company. I’m meeting with them the day after tomorrow, and they’ll let me know if they want to use me or not.”
“How soon will you know?”
“I’m not sure. Melissa says they usually get back with her fairly quickly, but not always. All I can tell you is they’ve already interviewed several other models, but so far they haven’t found the right one.”
“Okay, and while I don’t want to sound like I’m jinxing you, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll still leave Friday morning, as planned.”
“Hopefully, but there’s no guarantee.”
“If they decide they want to hire you, would you be willing to turn them down?”
Tonya shook her head. “I can’t. I honestly need the money. I’ve also just signed on with the agency, and it’s my first interview. I don’t want to jeopardize them calling me for future jobs. If I get the job, I’ll head straight to South Padre Island the minute I’m done. I promise.”
“Unless Melissa calls you with another job.”
“That’s not fair!” Tonya’s face flushed with anger. “I’m trying my best, Evan. I really am. I really was looking forward to us having the entire week together, and we still may, because we don’t know if I’ll get the job or not. I’m just saying I may have to come a few days later than planned. Either way, I should be in a much better position next year, so if I miss part of spring break this year, we can make up for it next year.”
“You already told me you’re taking next year off.”
“To establish residency, but it doesn’t mean I can’t join you for spring break.”
“All right, fine. You may not be there until Tuesday night, and I really am sorry you’re in the mess you’re in. You know I’d help you cover your expenses if I could.”
“I know you would.”
“C’mon, let’s go grab a burger and try to enjoy the rest of the evening.”
Tonya grabbed her sweater. However, Evan seemed quieter than usual, and they didn’t linger afterwards as they normally did. Driving up to her apartment, Tonya gave him a sultry grin.
“I think we should kiss and make up.”
“Some other time. Right now, I’m not in the mood.”
“Yeah. I’m just tired, and I need to finish a project.”
“Well, okay, if you’re sure.” The disappointment resonated in her voice.
“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll text you later. Maybe this weekend we can go see a movie or something.” He gave her a less than enthusiastic kiss before she hopped out of the car.
Lauren has unwittingly been caught up in a major scandal that rocked Hollywood. Thinking her career is over, she plans to start a new life in Colorado, but Chuck wants to tell her goodbye before she leaves. Please enjoy this sample read from The Scandal.
A Reading Sample from The Scandal by Marina Martindale
Chuck looked at his phone and sighed. The call had dropped. Obviously, Lauren hadn’t found her charger quick enough. As he waited for her to call back, he wondered if he should offer to buy her dinner. Several anxious minutes passed, and he looked down at his phone.
“C’mon. Ring, why don’t you?”
He was about ready to give up when he received a text message from her tablet. She couldn’t find her charger but would call him the following night.
“Sorry Lauren, but you’re not getting away that easily. I’m going to see you in person so we can talk.” He quickly typed his response. She replied a minute later with the name of the hotel and her room number. Barney raised his head as Chuck stood from his chair.
“I’m going out for a little while,” he said, “but it won’t be late because I have to be up early tomorrow morning.” He gave the dog a quick pat on the head and hurried out. Twenty minutes later he arrived at the hotel. Knocking on Lauren’s door, Chuck greeted her with a smile as she answered.
“Your soda, Madame.” He looked her up and down as he stepped inside. “Well that’s certainly not what I expected.”
“I’m not Hayley,” she said with a grin. “I go for comfy, not sexy. Those teddies may have looked hot on camera, but they pinched in places I didn’t want pinched.”
Chuck felt his cheeks flush. “I had no idea you were being goosed by your costume. You never, ever let on. Not even for a moment.”
Lauren grinned. “It’s called acting, but trust me, I was gritting my teeth the entire time, and we won’t even discuss the drafts I was feeling. Now I’m forever grateful to never have to wear another teddy again.”
He felt a sudden twinge of disappointment as she pointed out the ice bucket.
“I made a run to the ice machine, but I’m afraid the only glassware I have are these lovely plastic hotel room cups.”
“They’ll do just fine.” Chuck quickly unwrapped them and dropped in some ice. Pouring the soda, he waited for the foam to bubble down before handing a cup to her.
“So, here’s to both of us coming to our senses and getting the hell out of this freaking town.” Both took a sip and sat down at the small table in the corner.
“So, Lauren, what made you change your mind?”
She gazed out the window at the city lights and her mood turned serious. “I think you already know the answer. My dream of stardom turned into my worst nightmare when I inadvertently took out one of the biggest power players in Hollywood.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
She looked him in the eye. “So everyone tells me, but nonetheless, I’ve been blackballed as a result. My phone hasn’t rung in weeks, not that I even care at this point. My heart’s no longer in it. I still feel the same as I did the day I shot my last salsa commercial.”
“I’m sorry, Lauren. I had no idea it had gotten this bad.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Stuff happens, but hey, I’m still young. Maybe not by Hollywood standards, but certainly by the rest of the world’s standards. I have a degree in interior design, and before Hayley came along, I was working for a design firm in Pasadena. Other actors have left Hollywood to pursue other careers, and so can I.”
“Some have even said their lives were happier and more meaningful after they left.”
“Which is what I’m hoping for as well. So, what about you, Chuck?”
“It’s like I said that day on the beach. I grew up in the business, and everyone assumed I’d follow in my father’s footsteps, but it’s not the life I would have chosen for myself.”
“So what would you have done, had it been up to you?”
“You know, I’m honestly not sure,” he said. “I’ve been tinkering around with a couple of screenplays, and I’ve always envied the cinematographers because I love looking through a lens and figuring out what would be the most artistic shot. On the other hand, I might possibly be interested in directing independent films, the more offbeat, the better. The only thing I’m certain of is that I don’t want to do anymore rushed, talking head crap, but hey, I came here to talk about you, not me.”
“All I can tell you is I had an incredibly good run. I got to experience things most people never will, but now it’s over, so it’s time to move on.”
“Lauren, if it means anything to you, this whole incident has made everyone rethink the way they conduct business. Eric Conway is making some big changes and he’s rebuilding Cloudland from top to bottom.” Chuck noticed Lauren flinch as he spoke. The wounds still hadn’t healed. “So, I think you should focus more on where you want to go from here.”
“Actually, I’m still not sure. I’ve never been to Colorado, so I’m going to explore the place while I’m there, but I have no idea if I’ll stay or move on.”
Chuck’s heart sank. He would have to find a way to convince her to stay. “In that case, take your time and at least stay long enough to get to know it first. Then you can decide whether you want to move on or not.”
“All right. I can do that for a while. All I have is time right now.”
As the old year comes to an end Tonya and Mike are on opposite sides of the country. Mike is performing in New York while Tonya has a gig at a hotel in Beverly Hills. During a break, however, she’ll discover that she has an unexpected ally.
A New Year’s Scene from the contemporary romance novel Aquamarine
The hotel ballroom was packed with New Year’s Eve revelers. Among them were Stanley Klein and Mandy West. No doubt George had insisted they attend, and during a break Mandy approached Tonya in the ladies’ room.
“Nice show.” Mandy kept her eyes glued to the mirror while she touched up her makeup. “And your dress is stunning. Red is certainly your color, and you and Shawn have a nice chemistry together.”
Tonya remained on guard as she grabbed her lipstick. “Shawn and I are old friends. We’ve been working together for some time.”
“So, I hear.” Mandy lowered her voice. “Although you and Mike are a great couple.”
Tonya also spoke in a hushed tone. “Not anymore. You know who put a stop to it.”
“For now, but it won’t be for long if I have anything to say about it. I told our mutual friend you’d never fit in with our inner circle, and I’m going to keep reminding him until he realizes it for himself and sets you free. So, hang in there. I’m on your side.” She dropped her compact back into her purse and spoke in her normal voice.
“Happy New Year.”
Mandy quickly walked away, but it took Tonya a moment to gather her thoughts and refocus on her gig.
“Well, you certainly look happier,” said Shawn when she returned.
“Turns out I have a friend I didn’t know I had.”
“You’ll have to fill me in later. It’s going on midnight, so let’s make this next set count.” They watched the clock as they played. It was less than a minute before midnight when they finished their final song for the year. Shawn took the mic and began leading the countdown. Balloons and confetti were released at the stroke of midnight and he gave Tonya a hug.
“Happy New Year. It’s all going to work out. I have it on the highest authority.” They began playing, “Auld Lang Syne,” and the audience sang along. Afterwards, they resumed their set as a few people began leaving. An hour later they said goodnight, and as the last of the partygoers left the room, the hotel staff began clearing the remaining tables. Shawn and Tonya were packing up their gear when one of the servers brought them a take-out bag.
“Happy New Year,” he said.
“Happy New Year to you as well,” said Tonya, “and thank you for thinking of us.”
“My pleasure. By the way, I’m a part-time musician myself, and you guys are fantastic.”
Shawn and Tonya had adjoining suites on one of the upper floors. After changing into his sweats, Shawn tapped on Tonya’s door and came in with their food.
“They gave us sandwiches and salads,” he said. “One is roast beef; the other is turkey.”
“You can have the roast beef.” Tonya sat down at the table and kicked off her shoes. “What a night. Great gig, but not easy when you’re wearing high heels.”
“I don’t envy you, although I’m glad to be out of the monkey suit” Shawn took out his phone as he sat down. “Jacque says Happy New Year. She had a busy night and she made a boatload of tips.”
“Wasn’t tonight her last night?”
“It was. She’s taking a few days off. Then she starts an office job with regular hours.”
“I’ll bet she’s looking forward to it.”
“She is, and we have a message from another mutual friend. It’s a short video he shot in his hotel room. Take a look.”
“Hey you guys,” said a tired looking Mike. “It’s been a long day, but I got the live performance done. So, before I crash I want to wish you both a Happy New Year, and with any luck, Ms. Rose, we’ll be together next New Year’s Eve.”
“I sure hope so,” said Tonya once the video ended.
Tonya’s holiday turned bittersweet after George thwarted her plans to spend it Mike. However, her other friends have a special Christmas surprise in store for her that is guaranteed make her smile.
A Christmas scene from the contemporary romance novel Aquamarine
Tonya spent the next few days jamming with Shawn and helping Jacque with her last-minute shopping. Christmas Eve was spent baking pies, and on Christmas morning the three drove to Arlington to have breakfast with Shawn’s family. Returning to the apartment, Tonya and Jacque prepared a lemon chicken dinner, but both Shawn and Jacque were acting strange over the meal.
“C’mon you guys,” said Tonya. “I can tell you’re hiding something, so you all can stop acting innocent. What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” said Shawn.
“Uh-huh,” said an unconvinced Tonya as someone knocked at the door. Shawn hopped up and answered.
“I see you finally made it.”
“Yeah,” said a familiar voice with a southern accent. “Although we had a slight delay getting out of Birmingham.”
Mike had barely stepped inside when Tonya rushed up to him. As they wrapped their arms around each other she suddenly burst into tears.
“Hmm…this isn’t quite the reaction I was hoping for.”
“I’m fine,” said Tonya as she squeezed him again. “I just wasn’t expecting this.”
“Don’t worry, Mike. It’s happened before,” said Shawn. “The last time was right after she threw a bra into Becca’s soup.”
“The little bitch had it coming,” said Tonya. “I’ll fill you in later.”
Shawn smiled at the memory. “It was an unforgettable moment. We also saved you a chicken leg and there’s plenty of other fixings, so go grab yourself a plate while Jacque and I pack our bags.”
“What’s going on?” asked Tonya.
“Jacque and I booked your room at the Westin Galleria after you cancelled it. She and I are going to enjoy a little quality time together before I leave. You and Mike will be safe from the public here.”
“I’ll only be here for thirty-six hours,” said Mike. “Then I have to leave for New York. I’m appearing on a New Year’s Eve special at Times Square.”
“I know you are,” said Tonya, “and Shawn and I have a gig in Beverly Hills.”
Shawn and Jacque excused themselves to pack their bags. Ten minutes later they were out the door.
“Are you okay?” asked Mike after they left
“I’m doing as well as can be expected. How ‘bout you?”
“The same.” He stopped and gave her a smug grin. “So what’s this about a bra throwing incident?”
Of all of my contemporary romance novels, The Reunion will always be my personal favorite. It’s a story of hope and second chances. As the story begins, Gillian, and her assistant, Rosemary, are on the way to a Denver art gallery. It’s Gillian’s opening night, but Rosemary can’t shake the feeling that something is about to go terribly wrong, in spite of Gillian’s reassurances.
Rosemary McGee had the next traffic light perfectly timed until a car from the other lane suddenly cut in front of her minivan. She slammed on the brakes, narrowly avoiding a collision as the light turned yellow. Keeping her foot on the brake pedal, she came to a stop as the signal turned red. Her knees were shaking as she looked at the woman sitting in the passenger seat.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“I sure hope that wasn’t a bad sign. It’s your opening night and I want everything to be perfect for you.”
“It’s not a bad sign, Rosemary,” she said, trying to reassure her. “These things happen, especially in rush-hour traffic. Don’t worry. We’re okay. We’ll get there in plenty of time, so try to relax. You’ve been on edge ever since we left the hotel. You’re about to give yourself an ulcer, and me a screaming headache to go along with it.”
“Sorry, Gillian. It’s not like I know my way around Denver, and these idiots on the road certainly don’t help.”
“Which is why we have a GPS device. Like I just said, everything is fine.”
They waited for the light to change. Once it turned green, the minivan lurched forward.
“You know,” said Gillian, “just before that happened, I was thinking about my father, and how convinced he was that I’d have no future whatsoever if I became an artist.”
“And when I first met you, I knew you were much too talented to be wasting your time laying out ads for weekly supermarket specials. You’ve come a long way, Gillian. I’m sure your father would have been proud of you.”
“I hope so.”
Gillian Matthews making a name for herself in the art world, and now she had a new gallery to add to her collection. All the risks she had taken to get herself where she wanted were finally paying off.
“Right turn ahead,” said the electronic voice.
“Thank you, Bill,” said both women in unison. Bill was the name they had given the GPS.
“It’s too bad you never got to meet my father, Rosemary. I’m sure you and he would have found one another, interesting.”
“I met your mother.”
“Only once or twice, and it was after she’d gotten so sick she really wasn’t herself anymore. Trust me, there was no way my parents were ever going to allow any daughter of theirs to become an artist. It was way too beneath them. I’ll always remember when Cynthia first went off to college. She was studying to be an elementary school teacher. As far as they were concerned, that was an appropriate career, and I was to follow in her footsteps.”
Rosemary sighed as she turned the minivan to the right at the next stoplight. “I don’t know why, Gillian, but for some strange reason I’ve had a bad feeling about tonight’s show. It started about the time we drove over Raton Pass and crossed the Colorado border.”
“I don’t know why you’d feel that way. It’s not like this is my first time having an opening. You brought all our paperwork, didn’t you?”
“It’s in my briefcase.”
“And we already know my paintings arrived safely. When did you last speak to the people at the gallery?”
“About an hour ago,” said Rosemary. “They said everything was just about ready to go.”
“Have you spoken to your family today?”
“Lou called this morning. He and the kids are managing just fine.”
“Then I’d say we have all our bases covered. You’ve probably just have a case of opening-night jitters, that’s all.”
“I hope you’re right,” said Rosemary, “but for some reason I just can’t shake this feeling.”
Bill announced that they had reached their destination, and the minivan turned into the gallery parking lot. Anthony Sorenson Fine Art resided in a large, single-story office building which had been converted into an art gallery. A catering truck was parked nearby. Its crew was busy unloading boxes and carrying them into the rear entrance.
“See, Oh Worried One, we have arrived. In one piece, and in plenty of time,” said Gillian with a grin.
Rosemary shut down the engine and the two women emerged. They stopped for a moment to smooth the wrinkles from their dresses before Rosemary grabbed her briefcase. Walking toward the front door, a passing car honked at them.
“You’ve still got it, girlfriend,” said Rosemary as she opened the door for Gillian. “I told you that yellow outfit would make you look hot.” Entering the art gallery, they came upon a reception area in the foyer. Beyond it, the building was divided into two sections. The main gallery was on the right, with the smaller changing exhibit gallery on the left, where final preparations were being made for Gillian’s opening. At the back was a hallway leading to the administrative offices.
Rosemary stepped up to the receptionist’s desk and introduced herself. A minute later Tony Sorenson, the gallery owner, entered from the hallway and greeted them, but he appeared to be a bit out of character. He looked uncomfortable in the stiff, three-piece suit he was wearing, and his thinning, curly gray hair appeared as though it had been hastily pulled back into a ponytail. Gillian guessed his typical work attire was probably a well-worn pair of blue jeans with a tie-dyed shirt. As they made their introductions, a harried-looking young man, whom Tony introduced as his assistant, Paul, quickly joined them.
“What we need to do now,” said Tony, “is take a little tour and make sure everything is absolutely correct.”
“Of course,” said Gillian. “Rosemary, do you have copies of our inventory sheets?”
“Right here,” she said as she retrieved them from her briefcase.
They stepped into the gallery and proceeded to go over every detail, inch by inch. Gillian’s favorite subject matter was architectural and outdoor scenes as well as the occasional still life. She worked mostly in acrylic and watercolor, and she was known for using big, bold, brightly colored shapes. Mounted next to each painting was a small descriptive paper plaque, but they discovered one plaque with a minor error. Paul ran back to his office, quickly printed out a corrected copy, and remounted it next to the painting. Once everything passed inspection, they went to Tony’s office to go over the last-minute details.
“Okay,” he said as he seated himself behind his desk. “We sent out the media releases two weeks ago. There was a mention of you, Gillian, along with a photo, in last Sunday’s paper, and, as I already told Rosemary over the phone, a reporter and photographer from The Denver Centennial, one of our weekly papers, will be coming here tonight. They’ll want to interview you and take a few photos, and they said they’d be here sometime between seven and seven-fifteen. Our friend, Paul, will position himself near the front door so he can watch for them, and he’ll let you and Rosemary know the minute they arrive. We don’t want to keep them waiting.”
“Understood,” said Rosemary. “I’ll keep an eye on the clock myself, so I’ll know when to watch for Paul.”
“Good,” said Tony, “then it sounds like we’ve covered our bases on that one. We’ve sent announcements to all of our regulars and we’ve had a good response. We’ve also updated our website and social media pages, so between that, and last Sunday’s paper, we hope to have good turn out from the general public as well. I have a feeling this will be a very good evening for all of us.”
Tony and Rosemary went over the rest of the last-minute details before the meeting broke up. Stepping back into the gallery, they walked past the caterers, who were almost finished setting up.
“See Rosemary, everything is fine,” said Gillian. “I expect tonight will go flawlessly. Tony and his staff are pros. You have nothing to worry about.”
“I know, Gillian, but I still have a feeling that something’s about to go terribly wrong.”
It’s Tonya’s first Thanksgiving in Los Angeles. George will be spending the day watching football, while Tonya’s mother and stepfather have come to visit her. Tonya meets her parents at their motel, and they drive up to Santa Barbara to spend the day with Mike. As the turkey is cooking, the conversation takes an interesting turn.
An except from the contemporary romance novel Aquamarine
It had been years since Heather or Alberto had seen the ocean, so they stopped to take pictures as they made their way up the Pacific Coast Highway. Tonya’s spirits rose once they reached Santa Barbara and parked in front of a small, unassuming home in a quiet, residential neighborhood. Mike came out as they exited their vehicle, greeting Tonya with a big hug.
“Okay, that’s enough,” said Heather with a nervous grin.
“Sorry, Mom.” Tonya quickly made the introductions, but her mother looked a little star struck. The scent of roasting turkey filled the air as Mike invited them inside and told them to make themselves at home in the living room.
“Can I help you with anything?” asked Heather as she presented him with the pies.
“Mike’s an amazing cook.” Tonya’s face beamed with pride as she spoke. “He learned how while he was working at his dad’s grill.”
“Yeah, but they also knew to not serve anything I prepared to the public.” He excused himself for a moment, but before stepping away he asked if they liked dogs.
“We love dogs,” said Heather.
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Tonya grabbed the wine and followed Mike into the kitchen where he greeted her once again, but this time with a kiss.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Ms. Rose.” He was about to kiss her a second time when Bruno barked loudly from the patio. Both burst out laughing.
“Well, okay, I guess.” Mike opened the door and both dogs bounded inside, greeting Tonya with wagging tails while Mike grabbed a few sodas from the refrigerator. Heather still looked a little star struck when they returned to the living room, and she immediately focused her gaze on Tonya.
“So, now that we’re all here, I want to talk to you about something. I’ve been having dreams about your sister again, and she’s been saying some interesting things.”
“Like what?” asked Tonya.
“She says you need to let it go about Jesse and move on.”
“I’m just telling you what she said, and I feel the same, so maybe the dream came from my own subconscious. The point is, you’re an up-and-coming musician, and Jesse hosts a nationally syndicated talk radio show. I’m not saying you have to be a guest on his show, and frankly, I’d prefer you weren’t. I’m simply saying you could possibly run into him somewhere, and if it were to happen, you need to be gracious. Just give him a nod or a quick hello and go your merry way.”
“She’s right,” said Mike.
Heather turned to Mike. “I’ve had other dreams in which Annette tells me you have some sort of a plan to get Tonya away from George.”
A serious look came over his face. “As we all know, Tonya isn’t in a financial position to live on her own. However, I’ve offered her a room here, and she’s saving up her money so she can buy a dependable car. So once she has the means to travel to LA for her modeling gigs, we plan on making some changes.”
“What about your advance?” asked Heather.
“I won’t have the money until sometime next year.”
“I wanted to take her on tour with me,” said Mike, “I certainly could have used her on the viola, and it would have given her some nice exposure as well. However, George wants to remaster the album she did with Shawn, so they’ll be in the recording studio when I start the first leg of my tour.”
“Hold on. Time out.” Alberto looked at Tonya. “Have you signed any kind of agreement with him?”
“They’re still working on my contract, which my manager will sign for me as my representative.”
“Good to know, but I wasn’t talking about your record contract. I’m asking about the agreement for you to rent a room in George’s home. Did you sign any kind of lease?”
“No. It’s a verbal agreement only.”
Heather spoke up. “All I can tell you is whenever I have these kinds of dreams about your sister, she’s never wrong. She says Mickey will help you break free of George. I have no idea what it means, and it may be nothing more than a concerned mother’s worry.”
Tonya took a deep breath and swallowed hard. “So did Annette say anything else?”
“No. She just said you need let go of Jesse, and Mickey will help you with George.”
Tonya Claiborne is a young music student who plans on becoming a music teacher. Her well-to-do grandmother was helping her through college, but it all came to a sudden halt when her grandmother unexpectedly passed away. Determined to continue her education, new employment opportunity has come her way, but once Tonya accepts the offer her life will take another unexpected turn.
A preview of Aquamarine by Marina Martindale
Tonya Claiborne scanned the room as she finished her guitar solo. Her college jazz ensemble was performing at a Dallas church, and so far everything had gone smoothly. She glanced at the music director, who nodded his head in approval. As the other musicians resumed playing Tonya turned her attention back to the audience. The blonde woman sitting in the front pew gave her another smile. She had been watching Tonya intently for some time. It began while Tonya was singing, “The Girl from Ipanema.”
The audience members were mostly family and friends of the student musicians, along with jazz enthusiasts from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Tonya wondered if perhaps she had met this woman before. She appeared to be friends with the woman sitting next to her, and both appeared to be enjoying the concert. Tonya shrugged it off and refocused her attention on her music. As the chords faded, the audience once again burst into applause.
Their director returned to the microphone. Their next song would be the final one for the evening. As he stepped aside they began playing, “Caravan.” The mystery woman whispered something to her friend as she nodded toward Tonya and took another photo of her. Her actions made Tonya even more curious. Once the concert was over, she would have to find out who this woman was.
The audience rose to their feet and gave them a standing ovation as they finished. The music director thanked everyone for coming and motioned for the ensemble to stand and take a bow. As the crowd disbursed some headed for the exits while others approached the musicians. Tonya looked toward the back of the room. A young man stood from his seat in the last row and made his way towered the front of the church while the woman in the front pew, along with her friend, walked up to one of the trombone players. He greeted Tonya with a quick kiss a moment later.
“Good job,” he said.
“Oh, Evan, you always say that.”
“Hey, just because I’m your fiance-to-be it doesn’t mean I can’t be your biggest fan too.”
“I know, and I love you for it.” She nodded toward the two women, who were still talking to the trombone player.
“I’m wondering who the lady in the blue sweater might be.”
“Which one?” He stepped back to get a better look.
“The one with the shoulder length blonde hair. She kept her eye on me for some time and she acted like she knew me. We must have crossed paths somewhere, but I can’t recall when.”
“Maybe she’s sizing you up,” Evan said jokingly. “But don’t worry. I can handle her if she tries to make trouble.”
“Thanks, Evan. I know I can always count on you.”
As if on cue, the woman walked up to Tonya and extended her hand. “I wanted to stop by and introduce myself. My name is Melissa Atkins. I’m here tonight with a friend whose nephew is also in the band.”
“Nice to meet you”
“Likewise, and at the risk of sounding too forward, I’m also with the Angela Carson Modeling Agency. The reason I was watching you so closely is because you have the perfect look to be a model. You’re tall and thin and your hair is gorgeous. I snapped a few photos of you with my phone, and you’re certainly photogenic. So, have you ever thought about modeling?”
Tonya brushed a strand of her long, dark hair away from her face. “Well, I’m certainly flattered, but to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it. I’m more focused on my music.”
“I see.” Melissa looked disappointed as she handed Tonya one of her business cards. “Well, you’re certainly a talented musician, and you’re going to a top-notch school, but we do a lot of print modeling here in Dallas, and it pays really well. If you think this is something you might be interested in doing to help with school, then please give me a call.”
My upcoming contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine, includes many of the characters from a previous contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.
The Betrayal is a story of infidelity. Emily has literally caught her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Jesse learned a hard lesson as a result, and he’s managed to convince Emily to give him another chance. Emily doesn’t want to give up on Jesse either, and after several weeks of marriage counseling, things are finally looking up.
In this sample we’ll join Emily as she and her friend, Megan, are about to embark on a Caribbean cruise. However, something as innocent as picking up a forgotten passport will soon have unexpected consequences.
A sample from The Betrayal
Megan pulled into Jesse’s driveway and Emily quickly hopped out.
“Wait here. I’ll only be a minute.” She ran up to the front door and rang the bell. Jesse greeted her with a smile and handed over her passport as she stepped across the threshold.
“Here you go,” he said with a smile. “Make sure you keep it in a safe place.”
“I know, I know.”
He wrapped his arms around her. “I know you’re excited, and I know you’ll have a good time, but just be careful, okay? Stay with your group when you do your off-ship excursions. The Caribbean is a beautiful place, but don’t go wandering the back roads by yourselves.”
“I know, Jesse. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”
He gave her a kiss and walked her out Megan’s car. “Have fun, be safe, and I love you.”
“I love you too, Jesse.”
He opened the car door and said a quick hello to Megan while Emily slid into the passenger seat. As the car slowly backed into the street he waved goodbye and went back inside. Megan was about to drive away when an older man, who was walking a dog, stepped off the curb and approached them. Emily asked Megan to wait as she rolled down her window.
“Well hello, Jorge. How have you been?”
“I’ve been good, Emily. How ’bout you? I haven’t seen you in a long time. Not since the morning you moved your things out. Is everything okay now?”
“It couldn’t be better.” She quickly introduced him to Megan, saying Jorge and his wife lived three doors down.
“Jesse and I have been working things out. My buddy and I are taking a short trip together, and when we return, I’m moving back in.”
He gave her a warm smile. “I’m glad, Emily. Marta and I have wondered about you, and we were hoping you were okay.”
“Well then, you two ladies have a safe trip, and I’ll see you when you get back.”
The Journey is a contemporary romance novel about people who aren’t as they appear to be, and the consequences could be deadly.
Newlyweds Jeremy and Cassie Palmer’s lives turn upside down when Cassie is seriously injured in a car crash. Jeremy rushes to his wife’s side, and as she recovers they befriend Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar to Jeremy, although he can’t place her. Denise, however, has never forgiven Jeremy for jilting her years before. As she gains his trust she plans her revenge, and their lives will never be the same.
A sample read from The Journey by Marina Martindale
The moonlight reflected off the snow-covered mountains, creating a dreamy, picturesque landscape, which could easily hide a deadly hazard. Samantha Walsh stayed on high alert as she drove down the highway.
“Is everything okay, Mom? You seem a little tense.”
Samantha glanced at the young woman sitting in the passenger seat. “I’m fine, Cassie. I’m just a little tired, that’s all. As soon we get to the next exit, I’d like to pull over and have you drive, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Sure, Mom.” Cassie sounded concerned. “You haven’t been yourself today. Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I’m fine. I’m just tired, that’s all.” She tilted her head toward the backseat. “So now that your little sister-in-law has finally given us a break and gone to sleep, I have some things I’d like to discuss with you.”
“I’ve decided to sell the diner.”
“Max and his wife have made a very generous offer,” said Samantha. “I’d like to accept, but I wanted to discuss it with you first.”
“I understand. So, what would you do if you sold the place? You’re way too young for retirement, and somehow I can’t see you sitting on your front porch in your rocking chair.”
Samantha chuckled. “I can’t see myself there either, but now that you’re happily married and on your own, I’d like to finally start pursuing my own dreams. Once was the time when I was going to be a nurse, you know.”
“I know, Mom. You’ve told me the story many times. You were going to college, back in Arizona, but then you ran out of money, so you got a job as a waitress at a truck-stop diner.”
“Back then I was quite the dish, and they tipped me really well.”
“And you’re still a dish. None of my friends believe me when I tell them you’re my mother. They all say, ‘But Cassie, she’s so pretty. She looks so young, and she’s so thin. She doesn’t have any wrinkles or any gray hair.'”
“That’s very kind of them to say, but even if I don’t look it, I’m starting to feel it.” Samantha winced and let out a small groan.
“Are you all right, Mom?”
“I’m fine. It’s just a little indigestion, that’s all.”
“You’re sure that’s all?” Cassie tried to mask the concern in her voice. “So, what do you have in mind?”
“I want to go back to Arizona, at least for part of the year. I’ll keep the house in Idaho Springs and stay here during the summers; but I’d like to spend the rest of the year down there and take some classes at the university. I could still become a nurse, you know. I only had a couple semesters left when I ran out of money, and I was ready to go back when I met your father.”
“I know, but then you got engaged, and then you got pregnant with me, and then he passed away.”
“And then I had you to raise. But you know, Cassie, I’ve never once regretted a day I’ve had with you. You’re what kept me going all these years, and I love you with all my heart.” Samantha winced and groaned again.
“And I love you too. You’re the best mom anyone could have asked for, but right now I’m a little worried about you. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”