Sunday, January 31, 2016

Move over diamonds, I got a new best friend for you.

You know, having your fiance tell you that you can get off the IUD birth control because it made you gain 70 lbs, and you just can't take it anymore... is truly amazing.

What makes it even better?

He’s taking matters into his own hands, or rather… into his own balls.

He’s getting a vasectomy.


Right? I mean what’s better than not needing birth control, needing to worry about a pill, putting stock into pregnancy test companies, or worrying about going under the knife yourself?

WRONG! So, so very wrong.

It was amazing of my fiance to volunteer the knife to his scrotum, however… The waiting. The never ending WAITING afterward is killer.

Back in June he had it done, The day after he proposed, the day after Father’s Day - ironic, no? I took him in, sat there waiting for the Dr to call him back while on the TV talk show… they skewered and grilled up meat balls. ….

Yup, that actually happened.

Thirty minutes I sat in the waiting room, waiting for my man, my brave, brave man, to have this procedure done so I could take him home and baby the hell out of him. However, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. While we kept gel packs frozen for him, I didn’t see him much - if at all- for three full days.

He stayed in bed, shifting uncomfortably, ice packs on his nuts and heavily medicated for the pain.

7 Days, the doctor told him. 7 days and you’ll need to clear everything out. He was in so much pain it took him ten days. When he did that, all I could get from him was a big fat “NOPE”. He was afraid to ejaculate. YAY… not.

I already had issues with my man’s sex drive because of his prozac all but eliminating it. But then? To have a fear of it all together was torture. So, for a few days I took to the best friend.

His name? “B.O.B.”

The fiance doesn’t get jealous of it, or upset, because he encourages me to because he knows his drive is a hell of a lot lower than mine. I told him he needs to take it as a compliment because at least I’m still lusting after him. -- with the ex husband that was gone in less than a year.-- So, to the vibrator I took. And took. …. and took. Many times.

Then everything stopped for a while in July when I suffered a loss. We didn’t have sex until the end of August, this was after he’d given two samples, and we STILL hadn’t heard back on if he was cleared or not. Still had the IUD in at that point, so I wasn’t worried. It was hella painful for him, and I worried for the future of our sex life.

Mid-September, and I got my IUD out, still nothing from his Doc. I’m back to using good ‘ol’ BOB. A lot. Every night. Multiple times. All before he gets home from work so he doesn’t start feeling guilty, and I don’t feel guilty for not just being patient and understanding.

I started working in October, and finally we’d heard back from the doc, the local hospital send back saying there were traces of swimmers left. HOW after that many months is completely beyond me. Fiance is instructed to give another sample, but to take it to a different hospital - there’s three within 20 minutes of us.

Back to BOB I go. Then he starts seeing the Chiropractor I worked for for his neck. Well his hip had started bothering him, and stupid head - the Chiro- tried to adjust it. It was the flippin muscle, not the joint, and he really fucked shit up. Since November I’ve actually had sex ONCE. ONE TIME. and he was in so much pain I barely got anything out of it.

Debbie downer, right? LOL Just wait. Because I knew that I could take care of myself, keep the edge off. Lose myself in my writing, in books, hell, in PORN I looked up just because, dammit! I started feeling guilty because I was having to take care of myself so often, and then I came across this Huffington post article.


It goes through the list, and it all makes perfect sense to me. So I stopped feeling guilty. I actually started advertising to my fiance that I was taking care of myself. I was feeling good, I was happy and satisfied, and sleeping REALLY well!

And then you get to number 9 and oHH boy is that correct. If you can think it or dream it, it’s out there! What’s the internet rule for that? Rule 34? or does that just apply to porn? 

*Further investigation has discovered, it’s just applying to porn.*

Regardless of that, there’s so many things that we women can do to keep ourselves satisfied, even when our partner isn’t exactly getting the job done, yanno? Here it is, the end of January, and I’m still using up good ol’ BOB and not feeling the least bit guilty about it. Though, the motor’s kinda gettin’ worn out. Trip to the toy store? I think it might be a must do in the very near future.

Seriously, ladies, I know I’m not alone. Not on this blog. Let’s see, it’s been 8 weeks without real sex. 8 weeks I’ve been putting BOB to VERY good use. I think I’m working on a new record.

So tell me, what’s the longest you’ve ever gone relying strictly on BOB? I can't be alone. Right?

During the day, Jordan Ashley is a caring and compassionate LMT at her day job, Come evening, she is SUPERMOM, wrangler of children and multi-tasker extraordinaire. By night, she's an author who enjoys writing beautiful stories with a whole lot of sizzle! 
Follow her one her own personal blog here

Saturday, January 30, 2016

#NewRelease #Wolves Rediscover what it means to be pack with the #BlackHillsWolves

Kindle | Kobo | iBooks | ARe | Nook

While their Alpha fights to survive, an elusive killer hunts among their pack, slaying humans and the wolves who mated them. The Enforcer’s rigid rule and terse attitude have everyone uneasy. On the hunt for madness, he may lose everything…

Ryker continues to hunt for the elusive murderer. The others have eliminated several suspects, but tensions in the Black Hills have never been higher. For all of his experience in hunting and dealing with the wolves, Ryker has never found himself torn between two loves before—to be the killer he is, means he has to turn off the softer side Saja awoke in him.

Saja’s life with the wolves is nothing she would ever have imagined. Being the center of Ryker’s attention is both a blessing and a curse, but her mate’s gentle, indulgent nature seems to be a thing of the past. While she understands his remoteness comes from a place where caring and fear collide, she doesn’t want to lose Ryker to the madness creeping through the pack.

Clashes with Colt and several other dominants heighten the danger, and Ryker refuses to allow her out of his sight unless she is with Gee. When the killer sets his sights on her, will the Enforcer drive his mate away rather than lose her?

Read an excerpt now!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Another Chance

So this has been an exciting week for me! ANOTHER CHANCE, my second hot and sexy Black Hills Wolves book, released early. Although the official release date was supposed to be February 12, there it was live on Amazon, on January 22!

The early release by Amazon had some of the other book vendors scrambling around to get in on the act. ANOTHER CHANCE is now live at ARe and other places also, although some vendors still have it available for Pre-Order with the release date as Feb.  12. Confusing, no?

Anyway, I picked up a stock photo and fooled around with graphics a bit, although fooling around with graphics (or anything computer related, really) is not exactly my strong suit.  I came up with two different versions, virtually identical except for the pull-out quote. 

Which do you like best?


Chance Northridge left Los Lobos more than ten years ago, deserting his family and his young, unclaimed mate. Now he's back, upsetting their world.
But those he left behind don’t understand that the pack’s former insane Alpha threatened everything Chance cared about in the world. Still, he’s got some big-time groveling ahead of him.
Julie Pembroke has struggled hard to forget her disloyal mate’s desertion and to gain acceptance in the pack as a woman on her own, and making a new life for herself.
When disaster strikes his family and endangers Julie’s life, can Chance prove himself worthy of a place in the pack and in his mate’s heart?


He sniffed the air. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla filled his nose and shot straight to his brain—and points south. A fragrance he knew well. Would never forget. The scent pressed all his buttons, triggered every wolfy response. Mate. A scent now tinged by the iron whiff of blood…and the heavy acrid sting of fear. Find. Protect.

“Julie’s in trouble,” he growled. “She needs me.”

Pulse pounding and heart in his mouth, he shifted instantly and bounded off into the dark woods.


A large figure blotted out the sun and crouched above her, growling. Another wolf, then. She could only hope someone from Los Lobos had chanced upon her, and not a feral wolf or some other predator. She wished she could see better, discern the animal’s color and markings. A thick muzzle nudged her side. It released a series of guttural growls and grunts, as if the beast tried to speak to her.

Huge jaws opened and clamped around her belt. She held her breath. The beast’s long, sharp canines didn’t tear her to shreds. Instead, the other tugged on her belt, dragging, pulling, and lifting her out of the ravine. She screamed with excruciating pain. Nausea overwhelmed her. Gulping another breath of fresh air, she steeled herself to keep from blacking out.

Suddenly the other wolf’s scent enveloped and overwhelmed her, awareness jackknifing through her. Not the least foreign. Totally familiar. Playing through all her memories and dreams. No, no. It couldn’t be. She squeezed her eyes closed. Smoke and white sage, pure masculine sex appeal. She’d know his scent anywhere. Her whole body awoke. Shook. Bringing with it a renewed surge of agony. A different kind of tension also took hold. In the midst of all her pain and horror…lust. The recognition stunned her.

A ripple of silver-white energy shimmered in the air and a megawatt bolt of power surged into her. A hand appeared on her shoulder where the paw had been. She couldn’t deny her rescuer’s identity. Darkness began to claim her.

“Damn it, stay with me, Jules. Don’t you fuckin’ leave me now.”


#Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1OchWjR
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You can find me at tarynkincaid.com; or on Facebook, Twitter, tsu, Pinterest, Goodreads and so forth. Come play!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Seven Nights of Sin: Scorching Historical Romance

Seven Nights of Sin...coming soon from your favorite bestselling historical romance authors! Preorder your copy today!
Luscious By Sabrina York
When Deveny Hargrove rescues a waif in a rainstorm in the middle of nowhere, he has no idea that she represents his long-awaited chance at vengeance. When she offers him her virginity—in an attempt to escape an unwanted society marriage—he has to agree. To his surprise, very little of his motivation stems from punishing her brother.
The fact is, Matilda Paddington represents his chance at revenge...or redemption…but his choice could destroy them both.

Read an excerpt!
Chapter One
It was a dismal day for a homecoming, but as there would be no one at home to greet him, at least it was fitting.
Dev Hargrove slumped lower in the hard seat of his rented coach and stared out at the passing fields, sheeted in rain as they were. It pattered against the window and thundered on the roof. He was very glad to be inside.
Even so, the damp made his leg ache.
He’d been recuperating at Wickham’s estate in Cornwall when the message—informing him that his every living relative had died—had come. That, and the summons.
The irony was rich. In oh so many ways. First, his uncle and his cousins had been safely ensconced in the bosom of their homeland, gleefully tupping wenches, racing curricles and drinking their livers green. While Dev, on the other hand, had been on the continent, dodging cannonballs, drinking cold swill from a tin cup and diving into trenches to avoid pesky rifle shots. Yet they had died.
The other irony carried much more pain. Years of it. A lifetime.
He’d been born to the second son of a lord, a man whose family not only disliked Dev’s mother—as she came from the lower classes—they had repudiated her as well. And with her, her son. After Dev’s father had died, his uncle had gone out of his way to divest them of any inheritance, leaving them little more than beggars.
It was only through the grace of his mother’s people that Dev had been able to attend Eton and Cambridge. And even that had been a nightmare.
Because his cousins had been there to torment him, urging the other young men to do the same.
And young British lords, cattle that they were, did.
It hadn’t been until he procured the coin to buy his commission that he’d really found his place in the world. Earned the respect he craved.
He’d always been a nobody before then. The poor boy. A mongrel.
And now, here he was, in a dowdy carriage, heading along mud-slogged lanes toward London. To claim a title.
He should be nervous, stepping into a world he barely knew, but he wasn’t.
One had to care to be nervous, and he did not.
He didn’t care about much of anything.
The coach slowed and Dev peered out the window to see why. He had to squint to make out the form on the side of the road.
Poor bastard.
Wrapped in a blanket and hunched against the incessant battering of the rain, the figure moved slowly, stepping cautiously. Even as he watched, the coach wheel hit a puddle, sending a tremendous wash of water through the air, spattering the traveler.
The shrouded head whipped around and, as the coach passed, their gazes clashed. Dev had the brief impression of delicate features, large eyes and a rounded mouth, opened in shock.
Good God, it was a woman. Out here. In the middle of nowhere. In the pouring rain.
Without thought, he knocked on the roof and the coach pulled to a stop.
He could not, in good conscience, leave her here, in a storm, not after his coach had utterly drenched her. He opened the door. Surely invitation enough, but he had to poke his head out and wave to the wayfarer before she took his meaning.
“Get in,” he called. “We will give you a ride.”
Still, she hesitated, looking to the left, then to the right down the road…as though some other coach might miraculously appear. He understood her reserve. A woman should always be cautious in such situations, but he was a war hero. Surely she could trust him?
Although, in her defense, he didn’t look much like a war hero with his scraggly beard and rumpled clothing.
“It’s all right,” he said. “I promise to deliver you safely to your destination.”
He had no idea why a puzzled look crossed her face, but his words seemed to do the trick and she accepted his invitation, bracing herself on the bar and climbing the steps. He did not help her—she didn’t need it, and an outstretched hand might be perceived as a threat to a frightened woman—but he did shift positions, allowing her the forward-facing seat as a gentleman did.
At least, he was fairly certain he’d heard something of the like.
As she closed the door behind her and sat, Dev fished a couple blankets from beneath his seat. “You’re wet,” he said with a gentle smile.
Her response slayed him. She glanced up at him and for the first time he got a good look at her. And bloody hell. She was gorgeous. A delicate heart-shaped face framed by unruly damp curls, enormous violet eyes with a thick fringe of lashes, arching dark brows and—good glory—dimples.
Dimples. They exploded on her cheek as she grinned. It was an engaging, mischievous grin and it made something deep within his belly shift.
He’d promised to keep her safe, but all he wanted to do was pounce upon her.
“Well, it is raining,” she said, accepting the blankets from him.
Her voice was soft, musical, a whimsical lilt. It made shivers walk along his spine. Oh, she was a lovely girl, this sodden wayfarer. But a mystery.
He’d always enjoyed a mystery.
“And why, pray tell, were you walking along the side of the road in a downpour?”
She didn’t answer at once. She removed her wet blanket, and then her pelisse—one of quality, he had the presence of mind to note—and wrapped one of the dry blankets around her shoulders.
It was beneath him to notice her bosom, but he excelled at disregarding society’s expectations. And it was an excellent, attention-grabbing swell. Her waist was nipped and her hips were full. All in all, quite a luscious package.
She used the other blanket to tousle her hair in an attempt to make her curls wilder still. As she did so, she surveyed him from beneath her lashes. And damn, they were long.
“Can I trust you?”
He blinked. No one had ever asked him that question and he wasn’t certain how to answer. For one thing, could he be trusted? He hardly knew.
“Trusted for what?”
“Why, not to return me from whence I came.”
“Did you come from Bedlam?” It was a logical question. She had been walking in the rain.
Her laugh was lovely. It made the tiny hairs on his arms rise. Something else stirred as well. How he would love to hear her laugh, just like that, as he buried himself in her—
“No. But I have run away.” She raked his person with what he could only assume was meant to be a merciless survey. She was like a ferocious kitten, this one. “You look like the type of man who might return me to my brother.”
Ah. She had not run from a husband. He was not certain why relief trickled through his veins. Or was it lust?
“I shall not return you to your brother.” This, he pledged with his hand to his heart and she seemed to believe him.
She gushed a sigh. “Oh, thank God for that.”
“So now, will you tell me why you were traipsing along the road in a storm?”
“I most certainly was not traipsing. I never traipse. And I already did tell you.” She cocked her head to the side. “Are you not paying attention?”
“I thought I was.” But clearly he had missed something.
“I was running away.”
“You were hardly running. Surely, you can understand my confusion.”
To his shock, his dry wit amused her. For so many people, his jests were like pigeons, soaring over their heads and occasionally loosing a rain of aviary excrement. But she got his humor. He saw it in her eyes.
He decided he liked her. He liked her very much.
“All that aside, I was indeed fleeing.”
“And what were you fleeing?”
She leaned closer. Her scent, tangled with the smell of rain, danced to him, curling through his olfactory process and making his mouth water. She smelled divine.
“Well, a fate worse than death, of course.” She sniffed and buffed her hair a little more. “Why else would I brave this weather?”
“A fate worse than death?” In his understanding, this phrase had one meaning and one meaning only. Something settled in his chest, a hard and furious ball. “Did your brother…” God, he couldn’t say it.
She peered at him when he didn’t finish the thought, blinking several times like a sparrow. “Did he what?”
Dev swallowed heavily. “Did he…accost you?”
He’d kill the man, whomever he was. Kill him with his bare hands.
“Oh good God, no.”
He nearly collapsed with relief. He’d killed enough people on the battlefield. He didn’t really want to kill any more. That part of his life was over.
“He is forcing me to wed.”
“Oh.” It was an effort to keep back his bark of a laugh. Was that all?
“Don’t say, oh. The man he wants me to spend the rest of my life with is a complete and utter stick.”
“A stick?”
“Yes.” She crossed her arms and shook her head. Curls tumbled.
It should be illegal for those curls to roam free. Dev longed to gather them up and tie them into a queue so they did not distract him so much with thoughts of…other uses.
Yes. He was a perverted soul for even having the thought. This girl was pure as the driven snow. Without asking he knew she was a virgin. Probably a lady. And the stick her brother wanted her to marry was probably a lord of the realm.
“So you’ve run away.”
“I have.”
“And where are you going?” Where did one go to escape a fate worse than death? When one was a woman in this age where women were so dependent upon men?
She pressed her lips together.
“That’s all right,” he said. “You don’t need to tell me.”
Contrarily, she did. “I have an aunt living in London. She will help me get it done.”
Myriad questions assaulted him at the same time. He grasped the first and foremost. “Get what done?”
“Why, lose my virginity of course.”
“Of course.”
“Then no man will want me.”
Oh, how untrue that was.
“And this aunt will help you, um, divest yourself of this unwanted virginity?”
“Naturally. She’s quite avant-garde. After her husband died—he was twice her age, you know—she decided never to marry again. She lives a truly blissful existence attending parties and balls and answering to no one.” She leaned closer once more. Her eyes sparkled. “She has lovers.”
“Never say it.”
“She most certainly does. A legion of them. She will be able to advise me on how to proceed.” She nodded, probably to herself, as she made her point with enviable insouciance. “By the time my brother finds me, the deed will be done and my suitor will run for the hills.” She sat back and fixed her hypnotic gaze on him, apparently waiting for some response.
He had to work one up. “But what if your brother finds you before, ahem, the deed is done?”
“He won’t.”
“Would he not immediately suspect you have gone to your aunt?”
Her face clouded a bit and he felt a tremendous regret for having caused her dismay. But she tapped her lips as she reflected on his suggestion, and he forgot to think about being regretful.
Her lips were…lush. Lovely.
He had the sudden urge to kiss them. Or perhaps it was not so very sudden an urge.
He knew the desire to give her what she wanted.
It was a pity he was a man of some principles. Deflowering virgins, especially those he had rescued from a raging storm, was over the line. Even for him. Even if they wanted it.
She was an innocent. She had no idea what she was asking for.
There were many men who would be gentle in a situation like this, but many more who would just take what they wanted. There were men in the world with dark desires. He’d met them in his travels… He couldn’t bear the thought of this precious creature finding herself in a horrific situation with one of them. He couldn’t bear the thought of her first time being painful or frightening or worse.
He had the sudden inclination to return her to her brother, even though he had promised he would not. She needed someone to protect her from the predators—and her brother, the dolt, whoever he was, was clearly not up to the task.
While he had been thinking, so, apparently, had she. Her eyes widened and a smile quirked her lips and she said the most heinous thing he had ever heard.
“Oh. You could do it.”
He sputtered for a bit, then burbled, “Who, me?”
“You are quite handsome.”
“Is that a criteria?”
“And you are a gentleman.”
“How on earth do you know that?” He roared the question, because seriously, how the hell would she know that? Also, he was not a gentleman. Decidedly not. He was a savage and little more.
Aside from that, she could have crawled into anyone’s carriage. For all she knew, he made it a regular habit to cruise country lanes in search of vulnerable women to molest.
She tipped her head to the side and smiled. It did not calm him. “Because you gave me your seat. That’s what gentlemen do.”
“You cannot offer yourself to the first man who offers you a seat!”
“Oh pish,” she huffed. “You are hardly the first.”
The blood drained from his face. “What?”
“To offer me a seat, silly.”
Damn and blast. The woman was a menace.
“I am not taking your virginity.” Was he really protesting so vociferously? What on earth was wrong with him? “I don’t even know your name.”
“Well that is remedied easily enough. I am Tildy Paddington. Well, my real name is Matilda, but everyone calls me Tildy because, apparently, Matilda is too much of a mouthful, but you know what I mean.”
She continued discussing the origin of her name, but Dev heard nothing but a faint buzzing in his head.
He narrowed his eyes and took in her features, the slant of her eyes, the slight upturn of her nose, the crooked curve of her lips. And he saw those features on another face. One who had persecuted him for years through Eaton and Cambridge.
Chas Paddington.
He’d been one of the worst.
He’d made Dev’s life a living hell.
And now, here, a chance to pay him back by claiming something he valued.
He thrust out a hand. “Well, Tildy Paddington, my friends call me Dev. It is delightful to make your acquaintance.”
She slipped her fingers into his—he ignored the sizzle that shot through him as their skin touched—and he kissed her hand. He made the buss slow and languorous, a taste of the night to come.
Because he was going to do it.
He was going to debauch Charles Paddington’s sister.
And he was going to enjoy every moment.
Seven Nights of Sin 3D

Sabrina_head_logoAbout Sabrina York
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance.  Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/free-teaser-books/ Get updates and alerts from Sabrina here: HotSheet Sign Uphttp://eepurl.com/bj8tKb.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cerise went to #London, #Bath, #Osterley and more for her #Regency research (One must!)

   This past October, my husband and I went to England for a much-overdue trip. Yes, it was research. Yes, it included marvelous food and great restaurants and B and Bs. Yes, it included lots of walking. We took good shoes, wore layers for the chill...and had in hand our umbrellas.
Where did we go?

Hampton Court, Osterley Park, the Tower (for the hundredth time because hubby adores the place), St. Paul's (again!) and all the delights of Bath and riding the efficient Great Western Railway. In between, we dined.

First stop was Apsley House that gorgeous home of the Duke of Wellington. I will tell you one fact struck my husband, who is not a history nut as are others in this family. He commented that Wellington seemed to respect Napoleon. Why else would he have a marble statue of the man in his foyer? It is true that the Duke did think the Frenchman's skills were to be respected, honored and feared. We had no other pictures of the house as it is not possible to take them because flash deteriorates fabrics, art, decor, etc. But here is the Wellington Arch across the street from Apsley.

After leaving Apsley, we walked along Piccadilly and stopped for afternoon tea and divine pastries. One must keep up one's energy...and calorie count.

We did the Royal Cavalry Museum and smiled at the officers. Patted the horses. Went on to the Royal Mews which we highly recommend for those of you who always get a charge out of watching Britain's royal family take a little jaunt down the Mall in fabulous carriages. One carriage that knocked my socks off was the 22 carat golden leaf carriage made for George III in 1762.  Here it is in all its fabulously gaudy glory!

We also toured that famous house Osterley Park in suburban London. This house, redecorated into a Palladian beauty by Robert Adam. Here the joys of the house included the Long Hall, meant for exercise when the weather prohibited one from walking outside. 

South Moulton Street today is a busy traffic free shopping area!
We strolled through London to find South Moulton Street, where once modistes had shops. In fact, I wanted to take pictures of #6 because I had found records of a modiste shop there and put it in my new Regency Romp release, MASQUERADE WITH A MARQUESS. (out soon) Now many fabulous shops still cater to avid shoppers. See my picture here. Past Hanover Square, we went to that famous church St. George's where so many were married.

Do come to my daily blog and subscribe for more info and pix on my trips to England, France and beyond! http://cerisedeland.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Home for Helena: Book 2 of the Lady P Chronicles

The Lady P Chronicles is the name of my time-travel series that began with The Ultimate Escape, from the Bluestocking Belles' set, Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem. In this full-length novel, Helena Lloyd travels to the Regency period to find the family she lost when she was kidnapped to the 20th century. Lady P, the mother of the runaway bride in Book 1 and a time-traveling Regency lady herself, is Helena's collaborator in this endeavor.

A Home for Helena's Release Party

Join us on March 29, 2016, 5-10 p.m. EST


Guest Authors • Contest • Prizes!


The sign painted on the window read “Genuine Gipsy Fortune Telling” in large red letters with “Palm Reading • Tarot Cards” in smaller print underneath with the bottom line proclaiming “Séances Scheduled at Your Convenience”. A mannequin dressed flamboyantly in a red peasant blouse and gold skirt stood in the window with outstretched arms, no doubt meant to lure the bystander inside. Although an attempt had been made to give her a gypsy appearance—black wig tied back under a bright red headscarf, and glittery gold dripping from every possible place—her expression was the typical bland stare associated with mannequins.

It was cheesy. The sort of place an educated person would never deign to enter. Certainly not Helena, who didn’t believe in psychics or fortune telling, let alone time travel. Was her coincidental meeting with Mrs. Herne simply a scheme to drum up business?

If so, she had been very, very good at it. Her dark eyes seemed to probe into Helena’s very soul, seeing things she could not possibly have known otherwise. A lost soul, she had proclaimed. Wrenched out of her time. Isolated and alone because her soul was out of sync with her true destiny.

“I have a friend who might be able to help you,” she had said cautiously after finishing the egg sandwich Helena had bought her at the Prêt à Manger shop where they'd met. When asked what she meant, the woman had turned cagey.

“Come to my shop”—she'd pushed a card toward Helena—“and we can discuss it.”

Helena’s eyes had narrowed. “Why not now? Here?” she asked, indicating the busy sandwich shop. “Why must I come to your shop? Do you need your crystal ball or something?”

Mrs. Herne had simply smiled and excused herself, leaving Helena to decide whether to ignore her or investigate further her incredible assertions.

Oddly enough, she wanted to believe. Mrs. Herne’s words struck a nerve. Helena had never fit in anywhere, no matter how much she’d tried. Perhaps there was a reason for it. Something that could be done to remedy the situation. But… travel through time? That sort of thing happened only in science fiction. As Dr. McCoy explained in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: “Sure, you slingshot around the Sun, pick up enough speed—you’re in time warp. If you don’t, you’re fried.”

Star Trek. Outlander. Simply fiction. Nobody with any sense believed there was any truth in either story, but they did appeal to the imagination. What if people could travel through time? What would they do? How would they live? How would the future be affected by one's actions in the past? She shook her blonde curls. It was all nonsense, of course.

But here she was, standing outside Mrs. Herne’s fortune-telling shop, gathering up the courage to go inside. Well, she’d come this far. Might as well go for broke. She rang the bell and stepped inside.

The foyer was covered in red damask sprinkled with gold medallions. On a table between two gold satin wingback chairs was an antique Ouiji board. On the adjacent wall was a showcase with a magnificent crystal ball in the center and zodiac plates on the side.

But what really drew Helena’s attention was the familiar-looking Zoltar fortune-telling machine in the corner. The gold-turbaned gypsy male had a narrow black beard and a thick mustache that turned up at the ends like a villain’s. He wore a black leather vest over a gold shirt, hoop earrings, and his eyes seemed to be laughing at her. The case of the machine was of elaborately-carved wood painted in black and gold, and the front of the glass box said “Zoltar” in gold-outlined red at the top, and “speaks” on the bottom. His right hand hovered over a crystal ball, and the left one seemed to beckon her to come closer. Now where had she seen that before?

“It was the movie Big,”

Mrs. Herne pushed aside some of the strands of colorful beads that obscured the interior of her shop as she approached Helena.

“They had one exactly like this, but mine is the original. I purchased it from Patty Astley herself when her husband refused to have it anywhere near his amphitheatre. She was a good friend of mine, was Patty. Quite the horsewoman, too. But then, Philip was an excellent teacher.”

Astley? Of Astley’s Amphitheatre? From upwards of two hundred years ago?

“How old are you, Mrs. Herne?” She was tall and had a generous, but not zaftig, figure in her flowing crimson caftan. Her black hair was liberally streaked with gray, and her dusky face showed the beginnings of wrinkles. She certainly did not have the look of an aged woman.

Mrs. Herne threw back her head and laughed loudly.

“How old do you think I look?” she asked finally.

“Oh…well…forty-five?” Helena hedged, trying to be diplomatic. She actually figured the woman for about a decade older.

“Right you are, Miss Helena. I stopped aging on my fifty-fifth birthday.” She smiled at Helena’s startled reaction. “You were trying to be kind, of course. To a young person, fifty years seems a long time. In reality, fifty is the best age. You know yourself well by then, and aren’t always trying to become someone else. And you don’t take things so seriously. Life is meant to be enjoyed, after all.” She looked Helena directly in the eye. “After all, fifty is the new forty, or so they say.”

“Come inside, and sit for awhile, and I’ll fetch some tea.”

She was personable and kind, and her words carried the semblance of truth. The tea had long grown cold by the time Helena left the shop, carrying a round gray stone flecked with gold and a list of instructions—mostly preparations for the journey in time and suggestions for what to do when she arrived. Mrs. Herne’s clairvoyant power—no doubt assisted by Helena’s antique locket—pointed to the year 1790 as her birth year, and it was decided that 1817 would be the most opportune time for her return.

“And my good friend Lady Pendleton will be there to assist you!” she had exclaimed. “How very fortunate that she was in Town that year!”

Helena wasn’t entirely certain who or what Lady Pendleton was, but then, she hadn’t quite figured out Mrs. Herne either. Was she a fool to trust either one of them? Perhaps, but at least she wasn’t required to jump off a cliff or risk her life to travel back in time. She only had to clasp the stone tightly in her hands and concentrate on thinking about where she wanted to travel.

“But you must truly wish it,” Mrs. Herne cautioned. “Reflect on your desire to be reunited with your true family and live the life you were meant to live.”

And how to return if things didn’t work out in the 19th century?

“Oh, Agatha will help you. Lady Pendleton, that is. Or you can drop by my shop on Gracechurch Street. Only thing is, I was traveling quite a bit myself that year, so you may or may not find me there. You have a better chance with Lady Pendleton.”

And what if she couldn’t find Lady Pendleton?

“Oh well, you’re a bright girl. Not like the silly chits typical of the period. Keep your wits about you and learn from your surroundings. You’ll be fine.”

Would she? Helena recalled Claire Fraser being branded a witch in Outlander and briefly wondered if they burned witches at the stake in the early 1800's. Or had they been planning to dunk her, before Jamie came to the rescue?

Mrs. Herne was frowning. “That was a work of fiction, nothing more. That Gabaldon woman never time-traveled herself or she would know how it's really done."

It was eerie how easily the gypsy lady read her thoughts.

“If this is where you belong, you’ll adapt. In time.”

Helena didn’t like the sound of “if.”

But in the end, she couldn’t resist. The past was pulling at her, drawing her, and she finally let it take her into its mysterious lair.

The Ultimate Escape (Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem)

On the eve of her wedding, Julia realizes she cannot marry her fiancé after all, no matter that it’s been her dream for eight long years. Too distraught to face him, she follows in her mother’s footsteps and flees to the future for a brief reprieve.

Oliver knows he has bungled things badly, but he is determined to win the woman he loves, even if he must travel through time to do it.

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About Susana

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.