Friday, February 5, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor Valentine's Serial Day 5, Danica Favorite

Adette shot a glare at the trespasser. She didn’t owe him any answers. And yet… “If you were at all familiar with my grandmother and Nougat Peak, you’d know that they don’t allow visitors this late.”

She took a step forward, wincing at the pain as she rose to her full height. “Which tells me that you’re the one who doesn’t belong here. I’d heard that there was some charlatan sniffing around Grandma, trying to milk her for what she had left.”

Pointing to the ring, she said, “you just couldn’t wait until she was dead, could you? The director at Nougat Peak said she only has days left, but that wasn’t good enough for you, was it? You had to get your finger on her money now. Well, the joke’s on you. There’s no money. There’s a reason Dunkleman Chocolates and Confections has been closed all these years. Surely you heard about that kid who fell into the chocolate vat? Our very own Augustus Gloop, only the reality was far worse than Roald Dahl could have written it. They sued for millions, and won.”

Casting a scornful look at him, she looked past him to the field beyond, to the land where a condo development had been built over where the factory had once stood. “My grandparents lost everything. And my parents…”

Adette tried to ignore the way her chest tightened every time they came up in conversation. People always assumed that there’d been enough insurance to cover everything. Enough to set her up living the good life. But that was another one of those jokes that wasn’t funny.

“Let’s just say there’s no money, and leave it at that. Go away. Give me my grandmother’s ring, and I won’t press charges.”

Instead of looking disappointed at being confronted with the truth, he stared at her like she was an idiot. “I told you, I own this house. Your grandmother sold it to me a month ago.”

Her heart thudded to the bottom of her stomach. “She would never…”

Then Adette closed her eyes. Remembered. The student loan people had stopped hounding her about a month ago. Oh, grandmother, why??

“She did. Said you weren’t interested.”  Devon gave her a look of contempt that would have frozen just about anyone. 

But it only made Adette sad. How many times had her grandmother asked her to come visit? And how many times had Adette told her that she couldn’t take the time off work?  Between working two jobs to pay the rent and the time she spent auditioning for roles, she couldn’t afford it. Obviously she hadn’t been able to keep up on the student loans. Even now, her credit card had barely had enough room on it for the plane ticket. 

“She misunderstood,” Adette said quietly. “Now may I please have her ring? Don’t tell me she sold that to you too. I don’t think I could bear it.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor - Chapter Four

Valentine Serial 2016
The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor
Chapter Four

The audacity of that man! And what did he mean, he owned the house? Adette pivoted, only to hiss in pain. She crumpled to the bottom step of the once grand staircase.
            “Chambermaid…weakest play…what does he know? The lunatic…” she muttered, fumbling with her skirts to uncover her ankle. Didn’t look swollen.
            “Let’s see what you've got.” He pocketed the ring and knelt before her, taking her foot into his hands and removing her shoe. He had a tender touch for such a large, muscular man. The pain vanished as his fingers caressed her ankle. “Doesn’t seem broken. You probably just twisted it.”

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

            “So you’re a doctor now, too.” She flipped her skirt over her pretty red shoe. Whoever this guy was, he didn’t seem to be a criminal. And it wasn’t his fault she’d spent the past three hours in a panic over her grandmother…and her life.
            Bit parts in off-off Broadway plays had been her only acting accomplishments in five years. Dare she admit, even to herself, she was disillusioned with the city? That she craved a less cutthroat life? Here in Rose Lake? Maybe even on Candy Lane.
            Those baby blues twinkled as she clutched the rail and hauled herself to her feet, keeping her weight off the troublesome foot.
            “Since you clearly are not putting your degree to use here tonight.” She channeled her inner queen, a role she'd mastered last summer in Kingdom of the Wretched Koalas. A dubious choice on her part, but he didn't have to know that. "What are you doing in Truffle Manor?”
            He leaned close, his face inches from her. Her heartbeat accelerated so quickly she almost brought her hand to her chest. 
            “Something isn’t adding up.” He tapped his chin. “If you are who you claim to be, you’d know why I’m here. Which makes me wonder…You must have been in a big hurry if you didn’t even change your costume after your starring performance. Why didn’t you go straight to Nougat Peak to visit your beloved grandmother?”

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor -- Valentine Serial -- Day 3, Teri Wilson

Valentine Serial 2016
The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor
Chapter Three--
Teri Wilson 

Devon was beginning to wonder if this whole thing had been a mistake. A very big, very expensive mistake. It was bad enough that Truffle Manor was all but crumbling to the ground, but he hadn’t anticipated having to rid the place of so many hidden heirlooms. Or hostile women.
He stood and planted his hands on his hips. “Fine. Suit yourself. I was just trying to help.”
She blinked up at him with wide violet eyes. Something about those eyes made Devon’s chest ache. Whoever the woman was, she was very pretty. Beautiful, even. Too bad she was also nuttier than a Snickers bar.
“Stay back,” she said, scrambling to her feet and tripping over the heavy crimson folds of her velvet dress.
Devon crossed his arms and watched while she righted herself, raven curls tumbling down from her elaborate up-do.
What was with the old-fashioned get up anyway? She looked liked she’d stepped right out of Bronte novel or something, which was fitting considering their surroundings. The grand walnut staircase and frothy crown moulding suited her.
Devon swallowed. Hard. Then he turned on his heel and headed back toward the master suite.
“Wait,” she called after him. “Where do you think you’re going?”
He shrugged without bothering to turn around. “Back to work.”
“To work? You mean you work for my grandmother?”
Her grandmother?
He slowed to a stop, turned around and gave her thorough once over. So this was the mysterious Adette. He remembered Candy Dunkleman telling him the name “Adette” meant sweet.
Sweet, my foot.
“Actually, I work for myself,” he said.
“What are you doing here, exactly? And why are you holding my grandmother’s ring? Unless you’re a jewelry appraiser or something, you’re in trouble, mister.” She fixed her gaze on the hammer dangling from his tool belt. “By all appearances, you’re not. Do you care to explain yourself, or shall I call the police now?”
He lifted a challenging brow. “Go ahead and try. There’s no cell reception in this place.”
It took two full minutes for her to find the pocket of her billowing gown and dig out an Iphone. If Devon had indeed been a criminal, he could have escaped six times over by the time she finally realized he’d been right. No signal at all.
“Told you,” he said.
She glared at him and kept a firm grip on the useless phone. Devon could practically see the thoughts spinning in her pretty head, and he got the distinct feeling this whole encounter would end with him getting hit in the face with the latest in cellular technology. “I demand you to tell me who you are.”
“You demand me, do you?” Her tone didn’t sit well. At all. He took a step toward the impetuous Miss Dunkleman, pinning her against the intricately carved bannister. “I’ll tell you exactly who I am, but first I want you to answer one question.”
“Perhaps.” She swallowed, and Devon couldn’t help but notice the graceful curve of her porcelain neck.
He forced himself to meet her gaze. “What’s with the dress?”
“My dress?”
He nodded.
“It’s a costume. I’m an actress, and tonight I starred in a production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” She cast another dubious glance at his hammer. “That’s a Shakespeare play.”
So she thought he was an idiot in addition to being a criminal, did she? “Yeah sweetheart, I know. I have a masters degree in classical literature.”
“Oh.” Her cheeks turned as red as a heart-shaped box of Valentine candy.
“Let me guess—you played Silvia?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No.”
“Julia?” He’d stand there and list every character in the blasted play, if only to prove he knew his Shakespeare.
“No, but does it really matter what part I played?” Her blushed intensified a few shades.
“I think it does.”
She lifted her chin. “If you must know, I was a chambermaid.”
“I see.” A triumphant grin made its way to Devon’s lips. “So you starred as a chambermaid in what is widely considered Shakespeare’s weakest play. Impressive.”
“I don’t need your approval. Nor did I ask for it.” She jammed a finger at his chest. “Now tell me who you are. Right now.”
“My name is Devon Hershey. I own this house. And you, my little chambermaid, are the one who’s in trouble.” 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor chapter two

Valentine Serial 2016
The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor
Chapter Two by Terri Reed

            Adette Dunkleman stared at the hunk of man wearing a red flannel shirt and jeans standing near the closet in the master bedroom of Truffle Manor. Her grandparents’  house. Her grandparents' bedroom. Grandfather had passed on but Grandma was still alive and this-- this thief was pilfering Grandma’s house.  How dare he?  “Stay right where you are,” she demanded with a huff. “I’m calling the police.”
            She wouldn’t let him steal that ring he held in his hand or anything else for that matter.
            “You do that,” the man said with a mocking tone that grated on her nerves. “You’ll be the one arrested for trespassing.”
            “What are you talking about? You’re the one trespassing!”  This house, with all of its memories, would belong to her one day.
            Sadness cramped her chest.  According to the Nougat Peak assisted living director, Grandma wasn’t doing well. Adette had taken the first flight she could catch after her last performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in an off-off Broadway theatre. Adette hadn’t even taken time to stop at her studio apartment to change out of her costume.  The flowing red dressed swirled about her legs as she turned and hurried downstairs where she’d left her purse with her phone inside.
            Heavy footsteps echoed behind her, spurring her to move faster.  Her red high-heeled shoe slipped off the last step, her ankle buckled and her arms windmilled as the floor rushed up to meet her. She landed with a thud and yelp of pain. She clutched her ankle. “Now, see what you did,” she accused. Blinking rapidly to keep the tears of pain at bay, she glared the man looming over her.
            “I didn’t touch you.” He crouched beside her.
            His musky scent filled her senses. He had light colored hair and the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.  He had a strong jaw and a well-shaped mouth pulled into a frown.  
            “Let me see your ankle,” he said softly, reaching for her.
            Her breath caught. Her heart leapt. She scooted away. “No, way. Don’t you dare touch me or I’ll scream.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor--Valentine Serial--Lenora Worth

Valentine Serial 2016
The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor
Chapter One—
Lenora Worth

He found the antique ring when he was going through the old fixer-upper house on Candy Lane. It was tucked in a cranny inside the closet of the master bedroom upstairs. Like so many of the items he’d stumbled upon after buying the huge house, the ring had been hidden. Someone must have loved scavenger hunts or keeping their treasures in secret places.
Devon Hershey stared at the art deco style ring nestled in red velvet inside the intricate gold box, thinking the solitaire mounted on a silver filigree band had to be at least a carat in weight. Not something a construction contractor could afford.
But then, he was single and aimed to stay that way. His work kept him on the move day and night. No time for romance. And now, no extra money for anything.
“I need to visit Mrs. Dunkleman and give her this,” he said, his words echoing out around him like lost memories in the empty, eerie house. He stood in the  massive entryway of the two-story Tudor mansion he’d paid way too much to save and wondered again why this huge, rambling place had captured his heart.
But he knew Candy Dunkleman had a lot to do with that. The woman could persuade the ganache off a cupcake. And she made the best cupcakes. Or used to.
“You’re the one, Devon,” she’s mumbled from her bed at Nougat Peak, the assisted living place on the other side of Rose Lake, where she was finishing out her last days. “You can make Truffle Manor come alive again.”
Devon first met Mrs. Dunkleman when he’d visited this home with a church group one Christmas. She was an amazing woman and this house was impressive, an estate that encompassed a large acreage and a stunning view of the lake. Bailey and Candy Dunkleman had created Dunkleman Chocolates and Confections over sixty years ago. In love from the very first chocolate truffle, Mr. Dunkleman had named the street after her and the house after her favorite treat. But the Dunklemans hadn’t always had happy times. Their only son and his wife had died in a plane crash several years ago and Mr. Dunkleman had passed last year. Now they would leave a legacy for their only remaining relative, their granddaughter, Adette (which meant sweet, Mrs. Dunkleman always told him with a smile). But their granddaughter lived in New York City and she wasn’t interested in saving a crumbling estate on a lake in North Carolina.
So the Dunkleman Candy legacy would be gone unless he saved the house they’d built on Rose Lake. He couldn’t wait to get started on the renovations. He’d borrowed a chunk of change to make his dream a reality but Mrs. Dunkleman had given him a fair deal and her blessings. It would take everything he had to make this work, but Devon was determined to save Truffle Manor.
But first he had to get this ring to its rightful owner. Closing the box with a snap, he turned to leave.
And found a raven-haired woman wearing a flowing red dress staring at him from the open doorway. “Who are you and what are you doing with my grandmother’s ring box?”

Craftie Ladies of Romance Match the Author Valentine Contest!





Friday, January 29, 2016

Match the Authors with their Valentine Memories!

The Craftie Ladies of Romance are sharing Valentine memories today. Can you match the reflections below with the authors who wrote them?

Leave your answers in a comment, along with your email address. The names of all those who correctly identify the reflections will be entered in a drawing for a giveaway from each participating author. The contest will remain open through the weekend, and the winner will be announced on Monday, FEB 1, 2016.

Good luck, everyone! Remember to include your email so we can contact you if you win!

Participating Authors:
Mary Alford is giving away a signed copy of Rocky Mountain Pursuit.
Debby Giusti is giving away her February Love Inspired Suspense, Plain Danger.
Deb Kastner is giving away a copy of her February release, A Daddy for Her Triplets.
Mindy Obenhaus is giving away her August release, A Father’s Second Chance.
Jolene Navarro will give away one of her books.
Pamela Tracy is giving away Second Chance Christmas, a December 2015 Love Inspired story.
 Merrillee Whren is giving away Second Chance Reunion.

Valentine Reflection #1

Some of my favorite dates with my husband were riding horses on the Texas ranch he grew up on. (My last two covers have horses on them). Our Valentine day tradition is not so romantic, but I love it. We see a war movie. Yes, it is the one day a year I will go to the theater and willing watch a war movie. It started on our first Valentine's Day. Being newly in love I agreed to see Platoon. It was 1987. (I think) Since then I have seen some good movies I would have other wise never viewed...Good Morning, Vietnam, Glory, Zero Dark Thirty. This year it looks as if I will be seeing 13 hours. For the last three years we have seen our accountant on the 14th and finish our taxes before we go on our date. LOL Fun side note: Two years ago I had sent a comment about our Vday tradition and Tim Halperin on the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show sang a song about it.   

Valentine Reflection #2

When we were dating, my now-husband tried so hard to be romantic.  I think the fact that I was a published romance writer made him think the bar was a bit high.  Anyway, Valentine's Day fell during the week and I was an elementary school teacher (hint).  He was taking me to dinner that night.  So, we're at the restaurant and I'm thinking I wonder what he's doing to do that's special - besides buy me dinner <hehe>.

Finally, we're in the car and he's driving me home.  We get to my house and he says, "Don't you have something to tell me?"

Hmmm, what to say.

"I had a nice dinner.  Thanks."  <I really thought I'd already said this>

He's a plumber: more a tough Mel Gibson than a suave Brad Pitt.

He stammers, "Did you like the flowers I sent?"


He'd sent me flowers, to my school, which he'd specified needed to be delivered before three.

Nope, they were delivered at four something.  Only the school secretary got to see my flowers on the actual Valentine's Day.  But, everyone got to see them the following day.

And, really, it's the thought that counts.

Poor Don, though, he couldn't believe I didn't come flying out to the car - gushing about the flowers - when he picked me up for our date.

Valentine Reflection #3

My favorite celebration was when my husband and I along with three friends went four-wheeling outside of Lake City, Colorado in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Some of the four-wheel paths are quite treacherous. I had to wonder how those first setters managed to summit those mountains paths under some very difficult weather conditions.
Once we reached the Continental Divide at what felt like the top of the world, we could see for miles around.  God’s handiwork was everywhere. There was snow on the mountains and sheep grazing. It was idyllic. We could see relics of old mines strew around the mountains. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it was for the old miners who lived up there year round. I could never be that tough.

Valentine Reflection #4

My husband hates to wait in line anywhere, but especially at restaurants. And since he’s not necessarily inclined to making reservations either, early in our marriage I came up with a Valentine’s date night that was every bit as fancy as the nice restaurants, but didn’t require a babysitter. I love to cook, so I plan/prepare a special meal for him and me, one that includes china and crystal at the dining room table. When the kids were little, I’d order pizza for them and rent a movie they’d been dying to watch to keep them entertained in the next room while hubby and I enjoyed a restaurant-worthy meal and great conversation. It was a win-win for everyone.

Valentine Reflection #5

My favorite Valentine's date with my husband was for our 28th anniversary. We went on a week's cruise as VIP's of The Texas Tenors, my favorite singing group. Great food, great company and great music. And we get to do it again in 2017!

Valentine Reflection #6

My favorite Valentine memory is my wedding day. I was married on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine Reflection #7

Valentine’s Day always includes good food and roses! Hubby “surprises” me with a dozen red blooms, and I “gift” him with a yummy candlelight dinner…usually grilled sirloin, sautéed mushrooms, fresh artichokes and a tossed salad. Of course, we start the meal by giving thanks to the Lord for all his blessings and then reflect on our wonderful marriage that started when we said, “I Do,” at the Main Post Chapel, at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The Craftie Ladies of Romance 
wish you a 
Very Happy Valentine's Day!

May all your dreams come true!