September 5, 2014

Cover Reveal and Excerpt

At long last, Love Will Grow is finally complete. It's being edited right now. I haven't assigned a release date yet, but it will probably be around the end of this month or perhaps early in October. If there's one thing I've learned since being an indie writer, it's not to be so quick to hit the Publish button; take your time and do it right.

First, the cover:

If this looks familiar, it's because this is part of my Love Will series. This is the final book; the earlier titles are Lost That Lovin' Feeling (a short prequel) and the novel Love Will Follow. For the convenience of those who might have missed any of these prior studies, I'll be offering a bundle with all three titles at a savings. For those of you who've read the other books, I'll be offering Love Will Grow on pre-order on Amazon for $2.99...the price will go up to $3.99 on the release date, so you'll save by pre-ordering. If you need a PDF or an EPUB, those will be available at my eStore at an even sweeter deal!

In the meantime, here's an excerpt for you. Enjoy!

Nylah got out of the car, slammed the door shut, then hurried inside the small post office branch on her route home. A small, one-person post office, it closed at 5:30. It was now 5:24, but she still had time to buy stamps, get the envelope containing her rebate date stamped, and get to Dillon’s daycare by six.

She held the door of the post office open for a slow-moving elderly gentleman, who thanked her profusely in a voice creaking with age. When she went to pull the envelope out of her purse, she realized she’d left it sitting on the passenger seat of the car. She cursed under her breath as she rushed back outside to retrieve it. As she did, she noticed an old Ford Taurus pull into the parking lot.

It only took a few seconds to get the envelope. She rushed back toward the post office entrance.

“Hello, Ms. Taylor.”

Turning sharply at the sound of her name, Nylah found herself looking dead into the eyes of Detective Marc Samuels. She felt her jaws tighten, then forced herself to relax her expression. She’d been contacted by his partner, Detective Sayegh, last week. They planned to charge the already imprisoned woman with identity theft upon her release. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, she had claimed innocence, and they were unable to get her to confess having known anything at all about Dillon’s personal information, much less giving or selling it to anyone. Detective Sayegh told Nylah that they would try again when she was released from prison, offering to reduce the charges against her in exchange for names of her clients and/or partners. He told her that people’s memories often improved once they were arrested.

At least she knew who was responsible for what happened, even if nothing ever became of it. That part of the nightmare was over, and the detectives on the case, John Sayegh and Marc Samuels, had been the ones to solve it. So what if Marc had been inconsiderate with his questions about Dillon and had stepped into matters that shouldn’t concern him when suggesting that she tell Dillon about his birth parents. His apology in the hospital cafeteria had felt genuine. The least she could do was be civil to him.

“Detective,” she said with a curt nod. “You’ll have to excuse me. They’re going to be closing at any moment.” Once more she rushed toward the entrance.

He was behind her in an instant, reaching forward to open the door for her. “Thank you,” she tossed over her shoulder.

“You’re welcome.” Marc inadvertently licked his lips. Nylah Taylor was, in the words of a sexy jazz tune by Harry Connick Jr., one fine thing. It still distressed him to have clashed with her, not once, but twice. He’d like nothing more than to get another chance with her, especially now that the perpetrator of Dillon’s identity theft was now in the hands of the justice system, delayed as it would be. He didn’t often meet a woman who piqued his interest in the way Nylah had. As he watched her make a purchase, then step aside with her change in hand, he decided to go for it. He moved up to the counter, barely a foot away from her as she put her change away. The clerk gestured to him that he’d be with him in just a moment. That was even better. He’d prefer not to have an audience, and the only other person present was an elderly man who was handling some sort of paperwork at a rear counter. “Ms. Taylor, do you think I could speak with you for just a moment?”

He was pleased when she actually smiled at him. “I’m terribly sorry, but I have to pick up Dillon at his daycare by six o’clock at the latest. I’m already in trouble with the management. They’re threatening to terminate his enrollment because I’ve been late several times recently. So I’m afraid I have to run.” She gathered her change purse and wallet and returned them to her handbag, which she slid onto her shoulder. “Take care.”

Marc knew better than to ask if he could call her. He wasn’t sure whether or not she was brushing him off, but he wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. She seemed sincere enough, and she’d even given him one of her beautiful smiles. He imagined the two of them sitting over a candlelit dinner in a romantic restaurant, a smile on her lips and a sparkle in her eyes.

“A book of stamps, please,” he said to the clerk, who had returned.

Nylah’s voice rang out, sounding more than a little distressed. “Excuse me. Can you let me out, please? This door is locked.”

“That’s because it’s past five-thirty,” the clerk replied. “Because I’m the only one here, I have to take care of the remaining customers, and you’ll all have to leave at the same time.” He handed Marc his change and receipt. “Thank you, sir.”

“But I have to be somewhere in a few minutes!”

One look at Nylah’s agitated expression, and Marc knew she hadn’t been kidding about needing to pick up Dillon on time. Apparently when the clerk excused himself, he’d gone to lock the door. He’d been so busy talking to Nylah he hadn’t noticed.

Damn, he must really be taken with her. Rarely did he find himself unaware of what was going on around him. In his profession such inattentiveness could be dangerous.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the clerk said apologetically. “If I let out each customer one at a time, I’d never get out of here. But there’s only one customer left.”

Marc’s eyes immediately went to the elderly man who was shuffling forward. Instinctively he knew the clerk’s final transaction of the day would be no quick matter, as his and Nylah’s business had been.

He approached Nylah, who appeared to be hyperventilating as she watched the old man pull out a list. “Oh, my God,” she whispered, though not necessarily to him—he wasn’t sure she even saw him. “He’s getting money orders. More than one, if those envelopes are all bills.” She looked as if she was about to cry. “I’ll never get to Merrillville in time.”

Standing beside her, Marc decided to make his presence known. “It looks like we’re stuck for the duration…like being in a traffic jam.”

She looked at him as if noticing him for the first time. The despair in her eyes turned into hope as she asked, “Can’t you do something?”

“Me? What could I possibly do?”

“You’re a law enforcement officer. Flash your badge and demand he let us out of here.”

He shook his head. “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Ms. Taylor. I work for the city of Gary. The post office is a federal jurisdiction. I’m not authorized to interfere in their business.”

“But you’d have to if it was an emergency.”

“Wrong again. I’m officially off-duty. That could easily be proven, and I’d be in a heap of trouble.” Watching her shoulders slump in defeat, it was all Marc could do not to pull her in his arms and comfort her. “I’m sorry, Nylah,” he said, unconsciously addressing her by her first name. “I hope you know I would help you if I could.”

She let out a vexed-sounding breath. “I guess the only way you can help me now is to recommend the second-best daycare center in Merrillville, since Dillon is about to be thrown out of the best one.”

“I’m afraid I can’t help you with that, either. I live in Merrillville, too, but I don’t have any children.” He hoped she would find those two points of personal information he’d purposely dropped about himself interesting, even as he told himself she was much too preoccupied with her current dilemma to take much notice.

Marc knew that if he could somehow get her to the daycare before they closed, not only would he score big points with her, but she’d look at him through new eyes…He’d actually be her hero, having saved the day. Using his detective’s logic, an idea began to form. He’d make the most of this golden opportunity. The police brass wouldn’t care for it much, but the more he thought about it, the more he liked it.

“I don’t think it’s a lost cause,” he remarked. “At least not yet.”

Once more Nylah’s eyes widened with hope. “What do you mean?”

“I’m off-duty, but I usually bring my vehicle home with me. It does have a siren.” He gave her a meaningful look.

Her eyes grew even wider. “You mean…”

Marc casually glanced at his watch. “If you’re willing to ride with me, I’ll turn on the siren. That’ll get us there on time, and of course after you get Dillon I’ll bring the two of you back here to get your car.”

She relaxed visibly. “That’s awfully generous of you, Detective. I accept.”

“I’ll do it on one condition.”

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “And what’s that?”
With a smile as bright as the rays from the fading sun, he said, “That you call me Marc.”
Love Will Grow, Coming soon!