all those other holidays when something goes wrong. It has been a running joke in the family for a number of years now that the sink will back up or the dishwasher overflow or something similar will happen over the holidays. It almost invariably happens either during dinner prep or the cleanup afterwards. I’ve become quite adept at removing the u-joint and cleaning the trap under the kitchen sink. In fact, as long as electricity isn’t involved, I can repair most anything in the kitchen or bathroom area. I do it not out of a joy of mucking about with the stuff but because I refuse to pay the prices to call out a plumber over a holiday unless I absolutely have to.
Another tradition has been a family friend coming in for the holidays the weekend before Christmas and staying the week. That has meant, for the last five years or more, that I’ve wound up having to do all the baking because Mom was always busy with our friend. So imagine my surprise — and relief — yesterday when I came home from my critique group to find Mom busy in the kitchen baking cookies. I wanted to do handstands because it meant the next two days would not be spent in the kitchen and completely away from the keyboard. Oh, there’s still some baking to do and I’ll do my share of it, but having part of it already done is a relief.
The second surprise of the day was Mom cooked dinner. We’ve fallen into the habit over the last year and a half of me doing most of the cooking. It’s not that Mom can’t or won’t but when she was sick a year ago last summer — truth be told, she was sicker than either of us realized for awhile — I got into the habit and I do like to cook. But I also appreciate it when someone else cooks for me. So I wasn’t going to argue when she said she’d get dinner.
Afterwards, she took her plate to the sink and then came back to the den where I was and, with a very sheepish look on her face said she couldn’t get the disposal to work. Foolish me, I wasn’t worried. After all, we didn’t have company about to arrive for Christmas Eve dinner. I figured all I’d have to do is punch the little red button on the bottom of the disposal and all would be well.
Button pushed, water turned on and power switch flipped and a low hum. No chopping.
Obviously, something was jamming the gears. Power switched off, water turned off and flashlight found. Then, telling Mom to leave the room — yes, I did learn after the lamp incident — I very carefully began checking the disposal to see what might be jamming it.
Aha! I found it. Or so I thought. My carefully seeking fingers found a white plastic measuring spoon and pulled it out. But I knew triumph couldn’t come quite that quickly so I tried again.
And came up with another measuring spoon. Oookay. Mental note made to talk to Mom about how she needs to quit leaving things, especially small things, on the edge of the sink where she can knock them down into the depths of the disposal.
Surely, that was all. Little red button pushed, water turned on and power switch flipped.
Only to be greeted with the hum and no grinding. Damn it!
Repeat all of the above and find a piece of a third measuring spoon. Frustration growing, I started the search again and discovered that one of the grinders spun freely. The other was stuck. Even the optimist, I found myself hoping it was jammed by a little piece of plastic and would break free with a judicial application of the Allen wrench. (Please note, I was ignoring the fact I had yet to find the handle to the measuring spoon.)
After much huffing and puffing and cursing because I couldn’t budge the damned thing, I admitted defeat. One more check of the disposal confirmed my worst fears, the handle of the spoon was jammed between the grinder and the wall of the disposal and nothing I did would budge it. So, I went in and gave Mom the verdict. We had three choices: we lived without a disposal (no biggie for me), we called a plumber or we called a friend to see if he could work the offending plastic free. So, since Mom is as frugal about these things as am I, we called Terry.
Disposal is fine — but it took him quite a bit of work to get the plastic broken down and then free of the grinders. He will be getting an extra batch of divinity for all his work. My only concern is if things have started breaking this early into the holiday week, what is waiting for me around the corner.
Don’t mind me. I will be hiding under the sink until after the holidays.
Now for the obligatory promo bit. With Christmas coming in just a few days, it’s still not too late to order those e-books for the readers in your family.
Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)
written under the pen name of Sam Schall
First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.
Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.
But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.
Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2)
written under the pen name of Sam Schall
Duty calls. Honor demands action.
Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.
But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?
Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)
Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.
Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.
Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.
Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.
Nocturnal Serenade (Nocturnal Lives) (Volume 2)
Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.
Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.
Nocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives 3)
(This title will soon be available again.)
Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?
Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.
Nocturnal Haunts is a novella set in the Nocturnal Lives world.
(This title will be available soon.)
Mackenzie Santos has seen just about everything in more than ten years as a cop. The last few months have certainly shown her more than she’d ever expected. When she’s called out to a crime scene and has to face the possibility that there are even more monsters walking the Earth than she knew, she finds herself longing for the days before she started turning furry with the full moon.
Hunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1)
written under pen name Ellie Ferguson
When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what.
Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous
Hunter’s Duty (Hunter’s Moon Book 2)
written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson
Maggie Thrasher is looking for a man, not to love but to kill. Duty to her pride and loyalty to her family demands it.
Joshua Volk has betrayed pride, pack and clan. All he cares about is destroying the old ways and killing anyone, normal or shape-changer, who gets in his way.
Jim Kincade is dedicated to two things: upholding the law and protecting the pride from discovery.
When Jim is called to the scene of a possible murder, the last thing he expects is to discover the alleged killer is a tracker from another pride. Now he’s faced with a woman who is most definitely more than she appears. Complicating matters even more, there’s something about her that calls to him and his leopard is determined to claim her for his own.
Joshua Volk is looking for revenge. Maggie killed one of his own. His vengeance will bring Maggie’s worst nightmares to life. Is the passion between Maggie and Jim enough to defeat Volk’s plans or will Maggie’s determination to fulfill her duty to her pride be the death of them both?
Hunter’s Home (Hunter’s Moon Book 3)
written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson
They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.
When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.
Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?
Wedding Bell Blues
written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson
Weddings always bring out the worst in people. Or at least that’s the way it seems to Jessica Jones as her younger sister’s wedding day approaches. It’s bad enough Jessie has to wear a bridesmaid dress that looks like it was designed by a color blind Harlequin. Then there’s the best man who is all hands and no manners. Now add in a murder and Jessie’s former lover — former because she caught him doing the horizontal tango on their kitchen table with her also-former best friend. It really is almost more than a girl should be expected to handle. . . .