Wednesday, February 21, 2018

His for the Week

Giveaway of $5 gift card!

For many years, I worked with one other woman in a small office.  When you’re with someone, mostly alone, for all that time, you become very close.  We used to talk about how we’d really like to see sex portrayed in adult movies or TV shows—exactly how it’s depicted in a sensual or erotic romance novel.  In other words, between two people who care about each other and the other person’s pleasure.  It would be explicit but tasteful, with a true emotional attachment.

I’m glad I can incorporate that sort of lovemaking in my books.  In my latest from Entangled Scorched, His for the Week, my two characters find themselves at an exotic, erotic resort, complete with a very private place called “The Barn” where guests pursue all sorts of sexual expression.  My hero and heroine dabble in experiences quite outside their day-to-day lives.
Both Nate and Désirée are dead set against falling in love with each other.  He because of a bad marriage in his past and she because she writes a column called Sexy and Single.  Of course, this is a romance, and love conquers all.


Sex columnist Désirée “Rae” Knight is in a bind—and not the kind she usually likes. Her newest assignment, and possible big break, is an article for her magazine on the sex resort that just opened. The only problem is it’s couples only. Although she writes about having red-hot sex, she’s been single longer than she’d like to admit. Enter her coffee shop crush, who she’s been secretly ogling every morning. Trouble is, he doesn’t know she exists.
When Nate Winslow recognizes the shy, quiet woman at Sufficient Grounds as the author of the sex columns that fuel his fantasies, he’s surprised. And the last thing he expects is an invitation to join her at a sex resort. But his answer is hell yes!
Rae and Nate have enough chemistry in the bedroom to set the sheets ablaze. When Rae insists they limit their relationship to sex only, Nate agrees since he’s burned out on love. But the more they push each other’s boundaries, the more they realize one week won’t be enough.
“I’d like to know exactly what’s expected of me,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”

She stopped herself before she blurted out that he could do whatever he wanted. True, she’d brought him here because of her job, but in fact she’d wanted him since the first time she’d seen him. She wrote a column telling women to go after their desires, so she had no reason not to follow her own advice.

“Do whatever comes naturally, I guess,” she said. There. That hadn’t been so difficult. After that kiss at the coffee shop, they both knew what would happen once they got here. She only had to make herself relax and enjoy it.

“What’s okay with a Hook-Up Guy in public?” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Holding your hand. Touching you. Putting my arm around you. Those are all allowed?”

“They are.”

He raised a hand to her face and rubbed the backs of his fingers over her cheek. “This is allowed?”

She did her best not to tremble. “Sure.”

“Uh-huh.” He walked around behind her and ran his fingertips from the spot behind her ear down to her shoulder. “What about this?”

Every inch of flesh he’d touched came alive, suddenly full of nerve endings she hadn’t known existed. “I’d say that’s okay.”

“And this?” He pressed his lips to the spot where her neck met her shoulder.

“For now, just in private. We’ll find out later what goes on in The Barn.” Anything more, and she’d be purring like a cat and arching to have more intimate parts of her scratched.

“And this.” He grasped the zipper pull of her dress and eased it down. “In private.”

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

From Paris, With Love

With: MV Ellis

There are some places I have visited have that ‘spoken’ to me more than others. Paris is one of those places. Ever since I first visited at the age of 15, I’ve mesmerized by the place. In short, I can’t get enough of it. After all these years, I still can’t quite put my finger on what it is I adore so much about it, but it definitely has a special place in my heart. Perhaps the appeal is a combination of the things that make it uniquely Paris: the architecture, food, fashion, art, the sense of endless opportunity and possibility, the grandeur and refined but casual romance, and just the general “vibe.” Nowhere else in the world compares. Each time I visit, I fall a little more in love with it than the last. Each time I leave, I vow that our love affair isn’t over yet, and that I’ll definitely be back. I always am.

I was almost inevitable then that Paris would feature heavily in Catching London. The central characters, Arlo and London, tour the world together, but Paris provides the backdrop for some of the most pivotal scenes in the book. As they tread the ancient pavements, worn thin by the feet of lovers past and present, they take photos documenting their trip. Will those photos also document their journey as lovers? Paris is a city of grand gestures and Arlo is a man of grand means, will he use those means to show London Paris like she’s never seen it before? Will they or won’t they succumb to the inherent romance of the City of Love, or will the romance around them convince them that theirs isn’t to be?

You’ll have to read Catching London for yourself to find out for sure, but in the meantime, know that no matter what happens between them, Arlo and London will always have Paris.


He’s not looking to change his bad boy ways.

Arlo Jones is a badass millionaire rock star with the world at his feet. He lives the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle to the max, and believes in working hard and playing harder. He’s a man who always gets what he wants, especially when it comes to women. Until he meets London.
She’s a damaged dancer not looking to fall.
All London Llwellyn wants is to rebuild her life following the tragic car accident that robbed her of her fiancé, and ended her career as a professional ballet dancer. She’s working two jobs to scrape together the cash to set up her own studio, and reinvent herself as a photographer. The last thing she wants is to get involved.

Arlo promises to always be there to catch her, but can London trust him enough to let herself fall?

The sun is just starting to set, the muted colors of the Paris skyline perfectly matching Arlo’s somber mood. It’s a beautiful sight. He’s stunning, and Paris speaks for itself. The two together are a potent combination. It would make a dramatic image for the book, but something tells me now is not the time to start firing off shots, so I leave my camera in my bag. I also resist the urge to run to him and smother him with passionate kisses. I can’t get over how gorgeous he is. Months on, and that shit never gets old. I push all those feelings under, and silently take a few photos in my mind.

Instead of flinging my arms around him, I greet him with a curt nod, which he briskly returns while quickly wrapping up his call—no doubt hanging up on the person on the other end while they are still speaking. No smiles, no words, and only fleeting eye contact. Looks like we’re in for a fun night. He motions toward the car, and I climb in—sitting as far away from him on the back seat as possible—and stare out at the dusky beauty of this glorious city.

The car pulls away from the sidewalk and wends its way into the early evening traffic. Much like my fascination with Arlo, I’ll never get over the majesty of Paris, and I’m pretty sure that however well I get to know it, the city will never lose its mystique for me. We seem to be going the scenic route back to the hotel, taking in all the sights on the way. Not that I’m complaining—I’m not exactly in a hurry to get back, considering the tension between us.

We pull up outside the hotel and exit the car in silence. I should have known it was a mistake to agree to spend these few days with Arlo, given our history. This “thing” between us—whatever it is—has been a real roller coaster, and it’s only been a few months. That’s damning in itself.

As I start walking, Arlo suddenly grabs me by the wrist, turning sharply to face me, and pulling me to his chest. The sudden maneuver catches me off guard, and I stumble, almost losing my balance. He steadies me, drawing me closer, speaking into my hair.

“I’ll always be here to catch you, remember that.”

MV Ellis Bio
MV ELLIS knows what it’s like to fall head over heels in love with a badass musician. She followed her heart halfway around the world to be with one. She moved from London to Sydney after a steamy holiday romance with a sexy bass player in sultry Brazil.

Twelve years, two children and a dog later, and she’s still smitten. All this with a guy she sat next to on a bus for 36 hours! She has toured internationally as a ‘WAG’, and her experiences inspire her writing.

Ellis’ love of romance began when she was 11 years old, after a summer spent secretly reading her auntie’s books. She’s been a sucker for an alpha hero and strong heroine ever since.

An avid reader, Ellis always knew that she’d write a book of her own one day. She was right about that. Following a career spanning advertising, marketing, and social media, she finally wrote Catching London in 2017.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Playlist for Lost on Anna Maria Island

Thank you for having me back on Just Contemporary Romance! It’s always so much fun to hang out with you guys. Today, I wanted to share some behind-the scenes info about my new release, Lost on Anna Maria Island, specifically, the playlist!

As many of you know, as I’m writing music is usually playing. While I’m drafting the music is more white noise and usually consists of light classical or jazz, but once the draft is done and I’m polishing a manuscript, songs will pop into my head that embody the feel of a scene or part of the characters’ journeys. Those songs help me get back into the book if I’ve been away a little longer than I should, or if I’m trying to work out a plot point.

I’ll load the playlist onto my phone and go for a walk or clean the house (you know things are going badly when housework comes into play!) or just a long drive. While I’m doing those other things, my plot or character problems seem to work themselves out in the background, and when I’m back at the keyboard, it’s time to write. Lost on Anna Maria Island was a book that flowed from beginning to end…well, until I realized that I needed to rearrange a few scenes!

The book is part of a continuity, with authors Elley Arden and Katie Kenyhercz, so there is a line of plot that goes all the way through the different books, which was really fun to write and play around with – so some seriously emo music came into play. It’s also set on a real-world island just sound of Tampa, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico – so beach songs hit this playlist hard.

Lets get into the line up!

No playlist that involves a beach would be complete without some Kenny Chesney, and this playlist had a couple of his songs. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems and When the Sun Goes Down got a lot of play! And I couldn’t have beachy music without a little Zac Brown Band (Toes), some Jimmy Buffett (Margaritaville), or Brad Paisley (Water). Maren Morris’ 80s Mercedes made an appearance, too.

But Lost on Anna Maria Island isn’t all fun and games. So Chris Lane’s Let Me Love You made an appearance, along with I Could Use a Love Song from Maren Morris, and Keith Urban’s Tonight I Wanna Cry.

And then, there’s the love. That’s where Lanco’s Greatest Love Story came in, along with Brett Eldredge’s The Long Way, Thomas Rhett’s Unforgettable, and Old Dominion’s Written in the Sand.

Lost on Anna Maria Island

Florida Warriors star defensive end, Colby Sullivan, is the best in the business, but since his parents dropped the news that he not only had a biological sister but a biological twin sister, he’s been on his heels. He feels like he’s in the middle of a cover defense with no one backing him on the strong side. Colby knows, as the eldest, it is his job to keep the family going, but he can’t figure out what all this means to him with the daily interruptions from either his well-meaning parents or his rallying brothers. A flirtation with the girl next door is the perfect distraction, but all too soon she’s way past his defenses and heading for a touchdown that his heart just isn’t ready for.

Between her baby sister’s wedding and her job rehabbing Colby’s image, Madalyn Hunter is holding on by a thread. Mad understands football, cover defenses, and option offenses, but dealing with sneaky paparazzi, her sister’s obsession with the perfect wedding, and Colby’s not-friend-like kisses has her ready to throw a Hail Mary. The more time she spends with Colby, the harder it is to resist the gorgeous man who has always been her best friend. It’s fourth and goal with love on the line, but can Madalyn teach this star defender that the best way to protect his heart is to give it to her?

Buy Links:


“I’m not here just because Henry thinks I need to be associated with football’s Queen of Nice. I’m here because there is something going on between the two of us that I can’t ignore any more.” He paused, and uncertainty floated into his eyes. Mad swallowed. “Mad, I don’t want to ignore it.” His voice took on a husky edge that made the hairs on the back of Mad’s neck stand up.

The butterflies stilled in her belly, and for a moment, everything else faded, too. It was just the two of them, and she knew the right thing to do would be to break whatever this spell was that was building between the two of them. For the first time in her life, she didn’t want to do the right thing. She didn’t want to be the nice girl, the good girl. For once, she wanted to do what she wanted to do. And she wanted to do it with Colby. 

Dance in formal wear at this ridiculously theatrical party.

Walk on the beach in the moonlight. 

Watch a romantic movie and share a bowl of popcorn and not make a concerted effort to keep her hand from brushing against his. 

Wake up in his arms. Madalyn swallowed. 

“Dance with me,” he said, holding out his hand. The band struck up a waltz. Of course, Livy’s first dance would be a waltz. From the corner of her eye, she watched Carlton sweep her sister onto the dance floor, the two of them flowing together as if they were part of the song. She could do that. Just let herself get swept away for a little bit.

Oh, this was going down the wrong path, and it was going fast. She should get things back under control. Back where Colby was her friend, and she understood that things between them would only ever be friend-related. 

“Forget Henry and the paparazzi and my getting drunk the other night,” he said. 

She needed to remind Colby they were friends, just friends. Remind him of the image rehab plans. Remind herself that this was only going to end in either broken-hearted suffering or the loss of a friendship. 

“I want to dance with you, Mad.” 

Madalyn ignored all the shoulds and reminders circling her mind, and put her hand in Colby’s. “Okay.” She wanted to dance with him, too. Maybe take things farther than a dance. Maybe, for the first time since they were kids, see if the undercurrents between them could be more than undercurrents. 

Colby swept her onto the dance floor, which flowed around and over the pool area. Groomsmen and bridesmaids had joined Livy and Carlton, along with other party guests, on the dance floor. Madalyn caught a few flashes as different people took pictures, but she didn’t worry about what they were shooting or why. It was all she could do to keep her feet on the ground and to keep her heart from beating out of her chest. 

Colby’s hand was warm at the small of her back. His thumb brushed bare skin at her waist, and Madalyn couldn’t hold back a shiver at his touch. His other hand was firm on hers, and he waltzed as effortlessly as he chased down running backs on the football field. She caught scents of ocean and something else that was inherently Colby. Something she usually worked hard at not allowing herself to notice.

Madalyn let herself be swept away. By the music, by Colby. She wasn’t completely sure. More than that, she didn’t care. Just for tonight, when things were already surreal from Livy’s elaborate staging, maybe it would be okay to lose herself in him. 

Enjoy the feel of her skin against his, the way his hand seemed to burn, in the best possible way, where it touched her lower back.

Author Bio 
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police - no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after.

Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

Author Social Media Links

Monday, February 12, 2018

I’ve always been rather persistent...

Congratulations to "Colleen C.", the winner in Maggie's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I’ve always been rather persistent. I even bought the T-shirt.
I have five older brothers. They didn’t always want to let me play with them, so they used their superior size and strength to try to muscle me out.
With five boys and little hope of ever growing grass, my father covered our backyard in asphalt, installed a regulation basketball hoop, and marked the free-throw and three-point lines with spray paint. The ‘no blood, no foul’ rule was instituted. I was never big enough to mix it up in the games, but they would let me play H-O-R-S-E with them. Of course, they could stand behind either of those spray-painted lines and knock me out of the game in five quick rounds.
Nevertheless, I persisted.
Being a small girl, I had little hope of developing the arm strength for shots from field goal range. I needed to develop another weapon.
And so, I became the queen of the backwards bucket shot.
With a bit of practice, I could (and still can) sink a basket from anywhere within the arc by turning my back on the basket, spot-checking my alignment with the goal, then hurling the ball up over my head from between my knees.
I did what I had to do. I persisted until I found a way to give myself a chance to win.
Kate Snyder, the heroine in my new book, LOVE GAME, is a born winner. She nabbed her first NCAA championship title as an undergraduate basketball player, went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics, then came home to take the WNBA by storm. When an injury ended her playing days, Kate persisted. She went back to her alma mater as an assistant coach, then took over the top job. As Head Coach, she has led her players to a national championship four times.
It’s no wonder she’s lightly peeved when the university signs a scandal-tainted football coach to a multi-million dollar contract.
Kate dropped the pen she’d been clicking manically and glanced toward the window. Intruding on Coach Hotshot’s press conference wasn’t the most mature way to introduce herself, but damn it, this was her turf. She’d spent her entire adult life representing Wolcott University athletics, and she wasn’t about to be brushed aside for some smarmy has-been with a shoulder pad fetish.

Her phone rang, and she reached for it without looking. “Kate Snyder.”

“That was gold, Katie! Gold! Check the website.”

Twisting in her seat, Kate smirked as the Wolcott Athletics home page loaded on her computer screen. It hadn’t taken Millie long to get a snapshot of Kate nose-to-nose with Danny McMillan posted and released to the press. The university’s media maven was as industrious as she was insidious. Once Millie wrapped her arms around an idea, it was almost impossible to pry it from her grasp.

Kate fell back in her chair. “Does Jerry Seinfeld know you’re stealing his lines?”

“It’s Kenny Bania’s line.” The older woman’s raspy voice might have indicated a three-pack-a-day habit, but Kate knew for a fact Millie had never taken a puff. The woman ran marathons as often as others ran errands.

Heaving a sigh, Kate tucked the receiver under her chin. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Enjoyed it? NSN called. They’re sending the crew in to talk to you this week. Not Brittany, the documentary crew.” Kate’s eyebrows shot up. “They want to shine their Sports Spotlight on you ASAP, Coach.”

Kate rolled her eyes. “I bet they do.” It was hard to keep the edge of bitterness out of her voice. The network had already pitched the documentary idea, and she signed the papers nearly two years earlier. Somehow, there was always a bigger story to be told. A man-sized story. She tapped her mouse to minimize the screen. “Tell them to bring it on.”

“Done.” She heard the click of Millie’s pen. “And Kate?”

“Avery said to remind you that you built this athletic program. Don’t let them marginalize you. Keep giving him hell.”

Kate smiled, seeing straight through the moment of sisterly solidarity to the media circus that was sure to blossom at the center of this hiring fiasco. “Will do.”

“Good girl. Your contract’s almost up and you can’t buy this kind of publicity.”

How about you? Tell me about a time when your persistence paid off, and I’ll gift you with a digital copy of the first book in my single dads series, PLAY DATES (Play Dates #1).
LOVE GAME is available now in eBook and mass market paperback at your favorite retailer.

About Maggie:

By day, Maggie Wells is buried in spreadsheets. At night, she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, you only have to scratch the surface of this mild-mannered married lady to find a naughty streak a mile wide. Maggie has a passion for college football, processed cheese foods, and happy endings. Not necessarily in that order.

More Maggie:
Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Feb. 13th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Valentine’s Day and Single Awareness Day: Together Forever

Whether you’re happily married, partnered, or single, February is the month of amore. For us romance book lovers, the fourteenth is the one day every year, that our staunchest critics extend a hand in solidarity to celebrate falling in love.


Because once a year, on the same day, its gives great joy to be reminded that your life is entwined with another person who brings the madness of love and belonging to your heart.
At the end of the day, a man may grump about paying for over-priced chocolates, sappy flowers, or a candle-lit dinner, yet he detours by the drug store to grab a KitKat Candy Bar for his sweetheart, the first token of his affection twenty years into yesterday.

Valentine’s Day, with its cupids and candy, symbolizes the caring we have one for another. It’s wonderful to know someone cares enough about you to make a grand gesture with the smallest of gifts.

Wishing you a heartfelt Valentine’s Day, Siera

In Forbidden Attraction, Sarah Jones finds an unexpected sweetness in Lance Stevens, a younger man who gives her a sense of belonging after life’s foundation crumbles under the weight of betrayal.


Recently divorced, Sarah Jones no longer looks forward to the cupid and candy holiday. With her shattered heart and designer swimsuit in tow, she plans a little vacation to Adventure Cove Resort and Spa. It’s just the respite she needs from inquiring minds.

Quiet and brooding, Deputy Lance Stevens wants to be left alone with the pain of his past mistakes, but his family has other ideas. This contrived vacation is another family intervention he plans to squash, that is until Sarah zips into his life.

What’s meant to be Sarah’s escape turns into a steamy attraction to a man who’s too young, and too determined to get what he wants-her. Lance is forbidden in more ways than one and Sarah is harboring a secret that could destroy more than their budding romance.

What happens when Ms. Jones realizes there’s more than a Valentine’s Day fling going on?


 Before Lance could figure out what Sarah was doing, she leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.
“You’re sweet, Lance. I’ll be fine with the ice and elevation.” He’d placed bed pillows behind her back and under her left leg. “I’ll be out of your hair soon enough.”
Speaking of hair, hers looked soft, like those twisty bread sticks that melt in your mouth, butter soft just the way her lips felt against his skin.
“What was that for?” he asked.
She blushed a pretty rosette and he grimaced. Now, she wanted to play shy? This woman was difficult. Impersonating a drunken cupid at the zip lining park, refusing medication, and kissing a guy for sitting down.
She fell back against the couch. “For trying to take care of me. It’s kind and you’re sweet.” She waved his hand away. “I still don’t want your gag pills.”
She blatantly refused his help, but somehow he’d earned a kiss for his efforts. Maybe, he could get the hang of this understanding women thing.
“So, you kiss men who are kind and helpful?”
Her face scrunched. “Yes...what? No,” she stammered.
“Yes to kind men. But, no to helpful men.”
Her mouth fell open. “Stop. Your man logic is baffling,” she laughed.
Sarah thought him confused? She’d kissed him for offering pills that she refused. Of the two, he was the least confusing, yet the most perplexed.
“Alright, let me clarify.” Without taking his eyes off her, he leaned forward, his face close enough to feel the warmth of her breath on his lips. She smelled of sweet spice and clean rain.
“What are you doing?” she rasped, voice husky.
He placed one single capsule between his teeth.
“This,” he whispered, “is me being kind.”
He covered her mouth with his. At first, she didn’t respond. Slowly her lips parted, her tongue tentative in its touch. When he nipped her bottom lip, she opened fully. He released the pill into her mouth, following it with his tongue. He went to pull back, in case she had difficulty. Without missing a breath, Sarah swallowed, grabbed a handful of his shirt, hauled him closer, and deepened the kiss.
“Open,” she urged him.
Lance never liked taking orders, but hell, he followed Sarah’s direction down to the last letter.❣️

Forbidden Attraction releases February 13, 2018

Forbidden Attraction buy links:
Barnes & Noble:

Add Forbidden to your Goodreads TBR pile today:

About the Author:
Siera London is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She crafts stories of diverse characters navigating the challenges and triumphs to find lasting love. Intelligence, wit, emotion, drama, and sensual romance are between the covers of every Siera London novel. Siera lives in California with her husband, and a color patch tabby named Frie.

Connect with Siera London:
Facebook: - Visit today for my latest giveaway!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Color Of Love

Giveaway Alert!

He might be winning her heart before she even knows who he is…

Welcome to Blessings, Georgia, the small town with a big heart! Anyone from a small town can tell you that gossip never stays quiet for long. The biggest news lately is Ruby Dye: she's been receiving gifts from a secret admirer. But Ruby isn't sure she can trust this newfound happiness. Nobody knows the dark secrets she keeps about her life before she arrived in Blessings. Is this the beginning of a would-be romance, or is she the target of something more sinister?

Everyone admires Ruby and her determination to do the right thing, especially local lawyer "Peanut" Butterman. He's finally ready to tell her how he feels. But when trouble arrives on Ruby's doorstep and their little town is threatened, Peanut may have to prove himself in ways he never imagined.

Chief Pittman drove through town with lights flashing, then pulled into the alley behind the bar to the small, clapboard house.
There was no smoke coming out of the fireplace, no lights on anywhere inside, and when he saw the front door open and a tall, gangly boy and a huge bloodhound emerging, he jumped out to open the back door of his cruiser.
As he did, a woman followed them out. She was blue from cold and shivering. She coughed, then couldn’t stop. Then the boy approached and held out his hand.
“I’m Charlie Conroy, Sir. Thank you for calling.”
Lon wondered how desperate they were and then decided to deal with that later.
“You can put your dog in the back and ride up front with me.”
“Yes sir,” Charlie said, loaded up Booger, then got into the front seat.
Lon turned around.
“Mrs. Conroy, I’m Chief Pittman. Thank you for allowing your boy to help us. I’ll have him back as soon as possible, okay?”
“Yes, it’s okay,” she said.
And then another little voice piped up, and Lon saw a tiny little girl standing in the doorway, also wearing her coat over her clothes. She was crying.
“Mommy, Mommy, I’m cold.”
“I have to go,” Alice said, and ran back to the doorway, picked up the little girl and disappeared into the house, shutting the door behind her as she went.
Lon got in. The boy was already buckled up.
“We’re going straight to the nursing home.”
“Yes, sir,” Charlie said, his heartbeat jumping as the Chief drove away.
“So what’s going on at your house? Don’t you have any heat?”
“We don’t have any utilities, sir. We got cut off.”
“When was this?” Lon asked.
“Oh, a few days ago, but I’ll get the money earned to get them back on.”
“Is this why you put out the fliers?” Lon asked.
Charlie nodded.
“That was very industrious. How old are you?” Lon said.
“I’m twelve, but I am the man of the family now,” Charlie said, and then turned his head as they passed the school, looking at it with a mixture of longing and despair.
Another two blocks and he pulled up in front of the nursing home. One of his deputies was already there gathering info, while the other one on duty was back at the station. People were gathering here as the news had spread, ready to help search.
“Here we go,” Lon said, as he pulled up and parked. “You get your hound and follow me.”
“Yes sir,” Charlie said, and leaped out, grabbed Booger’s leash, and took off after the Chief.
Nathan Rose, the nursing home administrator, was trying not to panic as he explained what he knew to the Deputy, Ralph Herman.
“We’ve never had this happen before,” Nathan said. “We lock the doors at night and everything. Wanda is the one who discovered her absence.”
Ralph eyed the aide in purple scrubs. She looked to be in her late twenties, and she also looked scared to death, like someone was going to lay the blame of this on her.
“So, Wanda, how did you know she was missing?” Ralph asked.
“She wasn’t in her bed when I came on duty at six a.m., so I went looking for her, assuming she’d just fallen asleep somewhere else inside the building. They do that sometimes, but I couldn’t find her. That’s when we all began to search. She’s not here.”
“Were there any unlocked doors?” Ralph asked.
Willa’s shoulders slumped.
“The one from the kitchen leading out into the back alley. There’s an extra lock up high. She’s so little, I don’t know how she reached to open it.”
“Either someone helped her, or it was unintentionally left unlocked,” Nathan said. “It’s the only explanation.”
“Have you notified her next of kin?” the deputy asked.
“She doesn’t have any,” Nathan said. “She brought herself here three years back and hasn’t had a visitor from outside Blessings, since.”
At that point, the Chief walked up and didn’t waste time explaining.
“Nathan, I need something that belongs to Gertie...something that would have her scent on her shoes... of a piece of her clothing...something that hasn’t yet been washed.”
Nathan saw the boy and the bloodhound and didn’t ask questions.
“Wanda, you heard him. Bring something that will have Gertie’s scent on it.”
Wanda turned and ran into the building as the deputy recognized the boy.
“Hey, that’s the kid from the flyer,” he said, then glanced at Lon. “Good call, Chief.”
“If it works, we can all thank Peanut Butterman. It was his suggestion.”
Charlie had outgrown his coat months ago, and had been wearing his Daddy’s clothes all winter, but he didn’t have a coat. It had burned up in the explosion. He shivered slightly as he waited, thinking nothing of the discomfort because it had become the norm, but Lon saw it.
“Be right back,” he said, and jogged toward his cruiser, popped the trunk and then came back with a heavy, fleece-lined flannel jacket. “Put this on,” he said, as he handed it to Charlie.
Charlie’s eyes widened.
“I might get it dirty.”
“Son, it’ll wash,” Lon said. “Put it on.”
Charlie didn’t argue. The warmth that enveloped him was so welcome it brought tears to his eyes.
“I thank you,” Charlie whispered.
Lon patted the boy’s shoulder as Wanda came running back holding a pair of cotton socks.
“Gertie wore these yesterday. They were still in her shoes. Will this work?”
Lon glanced at Charlie, who nodded.
“They’ll do just fine,” Charlie said, then glanced at Lon. “Are you ready, Chief?”
Lon glanced around at the small crowd of people who’d gathered to help search.
“We’re going to try this first before we send everyone out in differing directions. If some of you want to go home, you’re welcome. But if there are any who want to follow us and the hound, then fan out in a grid behind him and do your best to keep up.”
A few waved and headed back to their cars, but a good dozen of them stayed.
Lon heard one searcher call out.
“That hound won’t track. I reckon the rain has washed out her tracks and scent.”
“We’ll see,” Lon said, and watched as Charlie Conroy got down on one knee and shoved the socks up under Booger’s nose.
As he did, the hound began to whine, as if sensing he’d just be given a task.
“Hunt, Booger! Hunt!” Charlie said.
The massive bloodhound lifted his head, sniffing the air, then put nose to ground and moved toward the back of the building with Charlie hanging onto the leash. The moment they reached the back door, Booger bayed.
“He’s on the scent,” Charlie cried, and off they went, through two blocks of housing, across the baseball field and then up into the woods, with the cops and the searchers behind them.

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