A Sample from The Reunion

© Can Stock Photo / yellowj

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.

“You’re sure?”

“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.”

***

The Reunion is available on Amazon, Barnes&noble.com, and other online booksellers.

A Thanksgiving Scene from Aquamarine

© Can Stock Photo/ gajdamak

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.

“I’m good.”

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.”

“But I—“

“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.”

***

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com and other online booksellers.

A Preview of Aquamarine

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.”

***

Aquamarine is available on Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and other online booksellers. 

 

 

 

A Sample from The Betrayal

© Can Stock Photo/ stillfx

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.”

“I’m fine.”

“Well then, you two ladies have a safe trip, and I’ll see you when you get back.”

“Thanks, Jorge. Please tell Marta hello for me.”

“Will do.”

They waved goodbye as Megan drove off.

***

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

A Sample from The Journey

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.

Marina Martindale

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.”

“Such as?”

“I’ve decided to sell the diner.”

“You’re kidding?”

“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?”

***

The Journey is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Sample Read from The Scandal

 

© Can Stock Photo / PerseoMedusa

The Scandal is the story of soap opera star Lauren McAllen. For the past ten years Lauren has been playing Hayley Lancaster on The Seas of Destiny. Hayley is the woman fans love to hate, and the role made Lauren famous. Now she’s ready to take her career to the next level and try to break into films or prime time television. 

Luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. She’s soon cast in a supporting role in a major motion picture. However, before the camera starts rolling, studio head Calvin Michaelson is accused of a serious wrongdoing, and an unwitting Lauren finds herself in the middle of a scandal which rocks Hollywood.

a sample read from The Scandal

Lauren McAllen wrapped her hands around the steering wheel and held on tight. Raindrops splattered the windshield while the wipers furiously knocked them away.

“You may think you’re getting him back, Ashely,” she said through clenched teeth, “but trust me, it’ll never happen because he’s all mine now.” A defiant smiled broke out across her face, but it instantly turned into a look of sheer panic and terror as she frantically yanked the steering wheel back and forth. Unable to regain control of the car, she threw her arms across her face and braced herself for impact.

“Cut!” shouted a man’s voice. “And that’s a wrap.”

As Lauren relaxed, she turned her head and smiled. “So, we got it?”

“Perfectly,” he said, “but if you wouldn’t mind waiting here, the director would like to speak with you for a moment.”

Lauren patiently waited for the rain machine to shut down. A moment later a production assistant walked up to the car and extended his hand. A serious look came over her face as she took his hand and allowed him to pull her out. Before walking away, she turned and looked back at the prop car, placed in front of a green screen.

“And so it ends for Hayley Ann Lancaster Wright Sweeney Mason, as her car crashes off the bridge and plunges deep into the bay, but at least she went out with a bang.”

“Not necessarily.” The director had returned to set. His deep-set brown eyes matched the color of his wavy hair, but they turned sad as he presented her with a bouquet of pink roses. “Her car will be fished out of the water, but she won’t be in it, because we’re all hoping you’ll be back someday.”

Lauren’s face lit up as she accepted the bouquet. “It all remains to be seen. I’ve been doing this gig for ten years. It’s time for me to move on.” She stopped to take in the sweet scent. “Chuck, really, you shouldn’t have. These are beautiful. Thank you for thinking of me.”

He gave her a warm embrace. “You’ve been an absolute joy to work with. I’ll be the first to admit you’re overdue for a long hiatus, but we’re still going to miss you. If your future plans don’t work out, you know you’ll always have a home here.” He kissed her on the cheek and gave her a final squeeze.

The Scandal is available on Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and other online booksellers.

 

 

 

A Christmas Scene from The Betrayal

Photo by Gayle Martin

For your holiday reading pleasure, I’m sharing a sample from my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.

Emily thought she had a good marriage until she caught her husband, Jesse, with another woman. Jesse however, has fought hard to win her back, and his efforts appear to have been successful. To celebrate their reconciliation, he’s taken Emily to San Diego for Christmas, but an unexpected phone call from Emily’s grandmother is about to set the stage for an even bigger tragedy. 

Marina Martindale

A Christmas Scene from The Betrayal

Emily heard a knock at her door as she put on her earrings. Jesse waited on the other side. Once again, he greeted her with a kiss.

“You brought your little black dress.”

She smiled in return. “Indeed I did. As I recall, it was your favorite.”

“And it still is.”

As he stepped into the room her phone started ringing. She reached into her purse and frowned as she checked the caller ID.

“Who is it?” asked Jesse.

My grandmother.” Emily let out a frustrated sigh. “Somehow it figures. I haven’t heard from her in weeks, and now, here she is. Her sense of timing is impeccable. She’s always had a knack for raining on people’s parades, and I’m really tempted to let it go to voicemail.”

“Don’t.” Jesse’s voice sounded firm. “Otherwise she’ll keep calling back, every half hour, until you answer. Besides, it’s Christmas Eve, and you and I are on our way back to where we belong. It’s time to let it go and wish her a Merry Christmas.”

Emily shook her head and shrugged her shoulders before she accepted the call. “Hi Grandma. Merry Christmas.”

“I just got off the phone with your brother.” Her grandmother’s voice had its usual demanding undertone.  “So I know your father is in Minneapolis and you’re at home alone. So why don’t you come over here?”

“Where are you, Grandma?”

“I’m at your Aunt Heather’s house. I’m with her, and your cousin.”

“Which one?”

“Tonya. Gary and Annette have other plans tonight, but I’ll be seeing them tomorrow. Meantime, I’m very concerned about the fact that it’s Christmas Eve, and you’d rather be home by yourself instead of reaching out to your family.”

“Actually, Grandma, I already had an invite from Eddie and Gwen. You know, my other cousins. On Dad’s side of the family.”

“Oh.”

Emily heard the distinct sound of disapproval in her grandmother’s voice. “Besides, this year none of you invited me to any of your holiday celebrations.”

“So I’m inviting you. Now.” As usual, her grandmother’s invitation sounded more like a command.

“Sorry, Grandma, but I won’t be able to make it. At the moment I’m in California, with Jesse.”

“With Jesse?” Barbara sounded stunned.

“Yes, Grandma, I’m with Jesse. He’s still my husband, and we’re trying to work things out.”

“Well, hallelujah. It’s about time you came to your senses. I’ve been telling you for months now that this was nothing more than a misunderstanding that’s been blown way out of proportion. It’s about time you stopped telling all your vicious lies about your cousin. You know, he fired her because of you, and she’s–“

Jesse could hear Barbara’s end of the conversation through Emily’s phone. “May I?” he whispered. Emily gladly handed him her phone.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Leary.” Jesse tried to sound upbeat.

Well, Jesse. Merry Christmas to you too.” There was a phony sweetness in Barbara’s voice.

“Thank you.” His voice took on a serious tone. “I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight, if I may, once and for all. There was never any misunderstanding about anything on Emily’s part, and everything she’s told you is the truth. I fully admit that last summer I had an inappropriate relationship with your other granddaughter, and Annette was a willing participant in that relationship. It was a huge mistake on my part, and Emily did indeed catch us in the act. It damn near cost me my marriage, and I’ve taken full responsibility for my wrongdoings. I don’t know what Annette may have told you, but my decision to fire her was mine and mine alone, and I’d think by now my reason should be pretty clear. At the time I let her go, Emily and I weren’t speaking to one another, so please, quit blaming her for something she didn’t do. And by the way, I also referred Annette to another job, with better pay I might add, but for whatever reason, she wasn’t hired.”

For the moment Barbara was speechless. Jesse went on.

“I want Annette out of my life, Mrs. Leary. Emily wants her out of her life as well, and I’m sure you can understand the reason why. I’m sorry it’s come to this, and I’ll always regret my part in creating a permanent rift in your family, but I’m afraid it’s the way things will have to be from now on. Emily and I will be here in California for the holidays, and then she and Megan will be leaving for their cruise right after the first of the year. We’re hoping she’ll be ready to move back home once she returns, and then maybe we can have you over for dinner. In the meantime, we’d like to wish you, and your daughter, and Tonya, a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you sometime in the New Year.”

He disconnected the call before Barbara could respond. “Hopefully that’ll shut the old battleax up for a while,” he said as he handed the phone back to Emily. “So are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said, “and I hope you finally got through to her, because she sure wouldn’t listen to me.”

“I think she may have gotten the message. At least for now.” He smiled and gave her a reassuring hug. “But even if she didn’t, it’s not your fault. I know she’s your grandmother, but it’s a toxic relationship. You have every right to live your life in peace and to not have to put up with her abuse. In the meantime, you’re sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, Jesse.”

He looked into her eyes and kissed her. “In that case, I guess we’d better get going. I made dinner reservations for seven o’clock, but hold that thought, okay?”

 

The Betrayal is available on Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and other online booksellers.

My Favorite Passages to Write

© Can Stock Photo / mrdoomits

Writing contemporary romance novels is incredibly fun. I get to create interesting characters, put them in all kinds of precarious situations, and write action-packed scenes. I suppose it’s the adult version of playing make believe. And while those action-packed scenes are fun to write, there’s another kind of scene I also love writing. It’s the quiet, intimate moments when the character is in a time of personal reflection. It’s when I go inside the character’s head and make the emotional connection which, in turn, creates the magic moment when the character becomes more than just words on paper. He or she essentially becomes a living, breathing human being who seems so real that we can almost reach out and touch them.

The following example  is from my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. Ian believes he’s just lost Gillian, the love of his life, to his son, Jeremy. Ian takes a long walk to try to sort things out, and reflect on what has happened. 

Marina Martindale

a sample read from The Reunion

Ian spent the next few hours walking, but he was in such a state of shock he became completely unaware of his surroundings. At sundown he was sitting on a bench at an empty playground in a small neighborhood park. Gazing at the playground equipment in the twilight, he saw ghostly images of Jeremy as a small child, laughing and playing. How could such an innocent little boy have grown into the man who betrayed him? Darkness was soon upon him, but he had no desire to leave. His mind was filled with images of Gillian and Jeremy, laughing and smiling, while they enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Las Vegas strip. Then he saw the two of them together in their bed. Jeremy was making love to her. Would she respond to Jeremy’s touch the way she’d responded to his?

“Oh, stop torturing yourself, Ian,” he said aloud. “It’s over and done with and you allowed it to happen. Now you can’t undo it.”

 He couldn’t bring himself to leave. His mind was filled with the memory of a long-ago night in his college apartment. Gillian was on the leather sofa, wearing his old yellow bathrobe, and he was making love to her for the first time. It was the moment he knew he had found his one true love, and twice he had foolishly pushed her away. Tonight, she was somewhere faraway, in her marriage bed, with Jeremy for her bridegroom. She had entered a place from where he could never get her back.

The breeze stirred and he heard the leaves rustling on the ground. The cool October night air seeped through his jacket. It was time for him to return home, to his own empty bed. Finally, he stood and walked out to the street. Nothing looked familiar. Walking to the nearest corner, he didn’t recognize the names of either street. He looked at his watch. It was after ten o’clock. No doubt Larry would be frantic. Reaching for his phone, he called Larry, who answered on the first ring.

 The Reunion is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

A Thanksgiving Scene from The Journey

Photo by Marina Martindale

For your holiday reading pleasure I’m presenting a snippet from my contemporary romance novel, The Journey as Cassie and Jeremy’s Thanksgiving celebration takes an unexpected, and frightening, turn.  

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Marina Martindale

***

“Happy Thanksgiving, Jerry,” said David as he stepped inside. “I’ll bet you’re glad to finally be home.”

“You got that right. I think I’ve finally got my life back on track now.”

David presented Jeremy with a bottle of white wine. “I brought a little something to go with dinner, and I have some ginger ale for Cassie.”

They went into the kitchen where Cassie greeted David with a hug while Jeremy put the bottles in the refrigerator. She then excused herself, saying she needed to change, while the two men headed into the living room to watch football. As Cassie headed back toward the kitchen doorbell rang again. Ian and Gillian had arrived. Ian joined the men in the living room, while Gillian followed Cassie into the kitchen.

“That sweater looks gorgeous on you,” said Gillian as she put her bowl of fruit salad into the refrigerator.

“Thanks,” said Cassie. “It’s nice and cozy too.”

“Can I help you with anything?”

“Thanks, Gillian, but I think I’ve just about got it. Everything should be ready in another couple hours or so. I’ve got some snack trays in the fridge that I need to get out, but first, can I fix you anything to drink?”

“Just a soda, thanks.”

As Cassie reached into the cupboard for a glass, she suddenly stopped and placed both hands on her belly, crying out in pain.

“Oh my god!” Gillian rushed up to her, trying to hold onto her as she doubled over. “Cassie, what’s wrong?”

Cassie took a deep breath. “I don’t know. All of a sudden, I felt a really sharp pain.”

Jeremy burst in. Ian and David were on his heels.

“What happened?”

Gillian helped Cassie back up. Both women had horrified looks on their faces.

“I just had a contraction,” said Cassie, “but it’s way too soon.”

David stepped forward and scooped her into his arms. “We need to get her to the emergency room. Now.”

Jeremy stayed behind him as they rushed out the front door. Gillian quickly turned off the stove and oven before hurrying to join the others.

“We’ll take her in the minivan,” said Ian. “The hospital is only a few minutes away.”

Jeremy helped David load her in the van as Ian hopped into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine. A minute later they were on their way.

“Is everything okay back there?”

“So far, we’re good, Dad. She hasn’t had another one.”

Jeremy had his arms wrapped tightly around Cassie. Her head leaned into his chest. He stroked the side of her face and looked at David, who saw the fear in his eyes.

“Hang in there, Jerry. It’s probably false labor. They’ll give her something to stop the contractions. She’ll be fine.”

Cassie fought to keep her composure. “What about my baby?” 

David patted her arm. “I’m sure he’ll be okay. Just try to stay calm.”

They remained silent for the rest of the drive. Thankfully, the holiday traffic was lighter than normal, and they arrived at the hospital within minutes. Ian pulled up to the emergency entrance and waited as two younger men helped Cassie out of the minivan. This time Jeremy picked her up and carried her inside while David ran up to the admissions desk. A minute later a nurse arrived with a wheelchair and whisked Cassie away. A badly shaken Jeremy took a seat in the waiting room while a clerk brought him the usual paperwork. David sat down next to him.

“She’s in good hands. She’ll be all right.”

“But what about the baby, David?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t see any reason for us to think the worst right now.”

The Journey is available on Amazon, and other online booksellers.

 

A Thanksgiving Scene from The Reunion

© Can Stock Photo / gajdamak

Thanksgiving was always a big deal when I was growing up. It’s still one of my favorite holidays, so I included a Thanksgiving chapter in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. Cassie and Jeremy will hit it off over dinner, and afterwards they’ll step outside for a walk. While they’re out Cassie’s mother, Samantha, has a serious talk with Gillian. The two women have been close friends for years, and as they are talking they will make a surprising wager.

Marina Martindale

A Thanksgiving scene from The Reunion

Samantha smiled to herself. It was looking more and more like Jeremy would become a good friend to Cassie. After dessert, Cassie suggested that he take a walk with her to work off some of their dinner.

“Good idea,” he said. “Would you two ladies care to join us?”

“Not me, thanks,” said Gillian.

“Me neither,” said Samantha. “We don’t get to hang out together very often. You kids go and take your time.”

Jeremy and Cassie quickly grabbed their coats. They were discussing the apartment in Colorado Springs as they went out the door.

“They seem to have taken a liking to one another,” said Gillian once the front door closed behind them.

“Yes, they have. Gillian, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

Samantha’s voice had a serious tone. “Exactly what is the nature of your relationship with him?”

Gillian grabbed the wine bottle and refilled their glasses. “Let’s go have a seat in the living room.” They picked up their wine glasses and Samantha followed Gillian to the sofa where they made themselves comfortable.

“Jeremy is a very special friend,” said Gillian. “We got off to a bit of a rough start, but then it worked out. I truly believed he’d be my stepson someday, but then Ian threw the brakes on that.”

“Gillian, if this is none of my business just say so, but is there anything more to it than just a friendship?”

Gillian hesitated for a moment. “You mean, have I ever slept with him?”

“Yes.”

“Good heavens no. I’ll admit that first night we were together in Las Vegas, I had a moment, and I mean a very brief moment, of temporary insanity while we were out on the dance floor. He’s a good dancer, I’d had a glass of wine, and I sure thought about it, but nothing happened between us that night, or any other night for that matter. Later on, when I thought about it again, I realized I’d wanted to turn him into another Ian, and I could never use Jeremy like that. He saved my life, Sam. Whoever he eventually ends up with will have to understand that he and I will always have a very special relationship. It’s not romantic, but we share a very special bond. One that will last for both of us for the rest of our lives. So please, don’t worry about your daughter. I’m not going to be jealous of her. In fact, I think they’re a good match.”

Samantha sighed in silent relief and gave her friend a knowing smile. “Gillian, do you have a hundred dollars?”

“Of course I do. Why?”

“Because a hundred dollars says that come next Thanksgiving, Jeremy really will be your stepson.”

“Oh, come on, Sam,” said Gillian with a laugh. “I can’t take your money like that. I’m not taking Ian back. No way, no how.”

“Of course not. You’ll just go out and have yourself tattooed in his honor.” Both women burst out laughing, and then Samantha turned serious once again. “Quit kidding yourself, Gillian. You’re going to take him back, and you know it.”

“Am not.”

“Fine. Then I’ll lose the hundred bucks. It’ll be the easiest money you ever made.”

Gillian gave her friend a smile. “All right then. One hundred dollars says I won’t be married to Ian Palmer a year from now.”

“You’re on.” The two women shook hands on their bet and Samantha grinned once more. “Just be prepared to pay up.”

The Reunion is available on Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and other online booksellers.