10:56 PM

A Real Man Contest

Patricia Altner was the winner. She won A Real Man, and I hope she enjoys it. Thank you to all who stopped by and posted. Don't forget if you do want to read A Real Man you can order it here: http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/arealman.htm. You can read the prologue and first chapter.

Thanks again everyone.


12:29 PM

Gracie is Doing Great!

Just wanted to let you all know that Gracie's surgery went well and she's doing just fine. It's amazing how kids bounce right back. I told my mom if it were any of us we'd be on the couch feeling miserable. :-D

She agreed.

Thank you those of you that said a little prayer. I really appreciated them.


11:24 AM

Daughter's Surgery Tomorrow

As most of you who've seen my Facebook page know my daughter is going to have surgery tomorrow morning. It's a simple procedure, but one she'll need to be 'put out' for. As you know, being a mom, it makes me very nervous. She's given us two big scares in her two year life, and so I'm very overprotective of her. Sometimes I tend to hover. :-(

I know, I know, that's not a good thing. So, tomorrow I know everything will be fine, and that God is with us no matter what. If you could keep Gracie in your prayers though I would greatly appreciate it.


9:03 AM

Wednesday's Witty Words
AND a Birthday

If it is your time, love will track you down like a cruise missile.

- Lynda Barry

Plus, it is my daughter' s 2nd birthday today. Cake and ice cream is on the agenda for this weekend. :-D

9:23 AM

In the Author Spotlight

Charlie Cochrane

Charlie will be giving away goodie bags (magnets, postcards, bookmarks, any other nice doo-dads lurking chez Cochrane, which might well include sweets) for two prize drawing winners. In order for a chance to win you'll have to post so that your name can be entered. Best wishes to all!

AL: Hi Charlie! Thanks for being In the Author Spotlight this week.

CC: Thank you for making me so welcome, Ann. I feel like I’m dropping in for tea and cake.

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

CC: I’m on a quest to find four extra hours in the day. We’ve just returned from a short break in Brighton, the kids have gone back to school after half term and I keep trying not to look at my ‘to do’ list and concentrate instead on seeing if there are any spring flowers coming out. The next couple of months are very busy on every front so I shall treasure every moment I get to look at the daffodils.

AL: You have been sharing some exciting news for, “Lessons in Love”. Would you care to share that news with us?

CC: Well, I had a totally ‘knock me down with a feather’ moment last weekend. When I went to check how it was doing on Amazon.com (not something I do above, oh, six times a day) not only was it number 2 in gay romance, it was in the top 100 for both romantic suspense and historical romance. It was great to see that Amazon doesn’t have any prejudices against m/m stories and was happy to include the book among its peers. I’ve managed to stop grinning about it now.

AL: What do you have currently for us to read?

CC: There’s ‘Lessons in Love’, which you’ve just mentioned, and that’s the first in the Cambridge Fellows series of romantic mysteries. Set in Edwardian Cambridge, it was the first book which was all my own work so has a very special place in my heart. The second book in the series, ‘Lessons in Desire’, has just come out in e-book form with print to follow in the spring.

Both of these books are published by Linden Bay Romance, as is ‘Speak Its Name’, a trilogy of historical romance novellas which includes stories from me, Lee Rowan and Erastes. My contribution, ‘Aftermath’, is set post WWI and looks at two young men at Oxford struggling to come to terms with the loss of a generation and their own burgeoning sexuality. You can also find ‘Blitz’, set in WWII as the name suggests, at Linden Bay. This is a free read e-book (which means you can download it without cost and see if you like my style).

Back end of last year, I was lucky enough to be asked onto the acquisitions team for the anthology ‘I Do’, which is in aid of Lambda legal. My story ‘The Roaming Heart’, a tongue in cheek tale of the post war British film industry, was included in the twenty tales we chose for publication. You can find this gem of a book (I can say that because the other 19 stories are absolutely spiffing!) at MLR press or on Amazon.

AL: What sizzling tales are you whipping together for us readers?

CC: More of the Cambridge Fellows tales. Book three is just going through edits and book four is getting a once over before it goes for editing. Jonty and Orlando seem to like getting into scrapes, both romantic and murder related. The course of true love gets a bit potholed at times, but it’s fun getting them over the humps and bumps. Of course, it’s essential that they kiss and make up when required. Frequently.

In addition, I have a story about gay werewolves (yes, that’s not a misprint) in the anthology Queerwolf, due out later this year. A bit of a departure, although my lycanthropes are very polite and well-bred, the sort you could happily introduce to your granny. As long as it’s not full moon. And I’m also tinkering with a tale set over the course of WWI, although that’s in the very early stages.

AL: What is the hardest part about writing a book?

CC: For me, the bedroom scenes. I can get a storyline, see settings, devise the characters, but when it comes to writing the intimate stuff, I sweat blood. I think the average love scene takes longer than all the rest of the book – or it feels like that. I don’t write physically explicit scenes, although the emotions run very deep. I try to describe the acts involved in a lyrical rather than practical way, if that makes sense.

AL: What is the strangest source of writing inspiration you’ve ever had?

CC: Ooh er. The Starbucks café on the Old Brompton Road which sort of found its way into the werewolf story, is one of them, I guess. Then there’s a very stupid thing I once did when helping on a school trip, which Jonty and Orlando do in ‘Lessons in Desire’. I shan’t elaborate; suffice to say I tried to pretend I was only eleven years old again and soon thought I was going to die.

AL: Besides writing, what other things do you like to do in your spare time?

CC: Watch rugby, either live or on TV. Actually, I love all sorts of sports (am listening to cricket as I type this) but rugby is the pinnacle of pulchritudinous competition. I also like strolling around places of interest, being an active member of our local church and going to the theatre. Will everyone forgive me if I confess I’ve seen both David Tenant and John Barrowman on stage this year?

AL: You’re an actress in the middle of filming a blockbuster movie, what is the movie about and what role do you play?

CC: It’s about the England rugby team. Someone is trying to sabotage their bid for the 2011 World Cup and I’m the mature but still attractive (I may have lied about the attractive bit) senior operative with MI5 who comes in and saves the day. I’ll wear tight jeans and a leather hjacket and they’ll put a stocking over the lens to hide my wrinkles. Actually, they might be better with the jeans over the lens.

AL: What is your favorite comfort food?

CC: Jelly babies. Especially the green and black ones.

AL: Are you a sports fan? Being in the UK what favorite teams do you root for?

CC: I think I may have given away the answer to that already. I’ve supported Tottenham Hotspur (Premiership soccer team) for more years than I’ll confess and Saracens rugby team for slightly fewer years, but more than I care to number. I also like watching golf, especially if my beloved Jose Maria Olazabal is coming down the fairway.

AL: Please share a favorite quote with us.

CC: Can I share a couple? One is ‘If I could write the beauty of your eyes’, which feels like a motto for a romance writer. It’s from Shakespeare’s sonnets, of course, and seems very appropriate as it’s one of those addressed to a man.
The other is ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. Jesus’ teachings were so fantastic, so radical, it’s no wonder people have been trying to tone them down and hedge them about ever since.

AL: Thank you so much Charlie for sharing with us today.

CC: Thank you for letting me come and chat, Ann. It’s been a real pleasure to answer your questions (they certainly got me thinking) and it’s also been so nice to get to know you. Now, you pour another cup of tea and I’ll break open a fresh packet of custard creams…

AL: If you'd like to find out more about Charlie and her work please visit:

Featured Title:

With the recent series of college murders behind him, Cambridge Fellow Jonty Stewart is in desperate need of a break. A holiday on the beautiful Channel Island of Jersey seems ideal, if only he can persuade Orlando Coppersmith to leave the security of the college and come with him.

Orlando is a quiet man who prefers academic life to venturing out into the world. Within the confines of their rooms at the university, it’s easy to hide the fact that he and Jonty are far more than friends. But the desire to spend more time alone with the man he loves is an impossible lure to resist.

When a brutal murder occurs at the hotel where they’re staying, the two young men are once more drawn into the investigation. The race to catch the killer gets complicated by the victim’s son, Ainslie, a man who seems to find Orlando too attractive to resist. Can Stewart and Coppersmith keep Ainslie at bay, keep their affair clandestine, and solve the crime?

"Do love you, you know. Don't say it enough."

"You don't need to say it, not in words.” Orlando briefly caressed Stewart’s fingers. “It’ll be the last dance soon. I'll take Mrs. Sheringham if she's up for it, and you ask Mrs. Forbes, that'll wipe the smiles off the faces of their husbands. And their daughters. Then we'll be allowed to make our way up to bed."

"A handsome plan. So to bed, where actions may be given free rein to express what words can scarce dare to hint at."

"That's lovely. Is it Shakespeare?"

"No, it's Stewart, inspired by a theme of Coppersmith. I hear a waltz; duty first." Jonty made an elaborate salute.

“I hope you don’t intend to do your duty by the young ladies?”

“You know I only ever do my duty by you. If you want, I’m ready to do it tonight.”

Coppersmith was convinced that his heart would have leapt out of his chest had he not his best boiled shirt on to contain it. “Then mark your card for the last dance with me, Jonty. To be performed in our suite.”

The sound of the orchestra still rang in their ears as they opened the door to their rooms. Orlando closed it carefully behind him, then immediately took Stewart in his arms. “I promised you the last dance. We’ll have it here and now.” They began to slowly waltz across the room, Coppersmith leading them expertly between the little tables and the sofa.

“Why must I be the woman? I’m sure your mathematical noddle would be better at reversing the steps.”

“You can lead next time. If your home in Sussex is as spacious as you keep saying it is, there should be ample room for dancing.” Orlando drew his lover close, took in the aroma of his hair, newly washed that afternoon and still smelling of lavender. “If I were a woman, I wouldn’t let anyone else dance with you.”

“If you were a woman, I’d get my mama to tell you that I’d been injured in a certain part of my anatomy in a hunting accident, so couldn’t be interested.” Jonty buried his nose in the folds of his lover’s jacket.

“You are such an idiot at times.” Coppersmith kissed the top of Stewart’s head. “I sometimes wonder if I really do love you, or simply tolerate you in an attempt to keep you from causing chaos amongst the rest of the world.”

9:13 AM


In honor of A Real Man's release. I'm going to have a little contest. Those of you that post a comment in this blog bite, will be entered for a chance to win a free download of A Real Man. Easy enough. You can post and say, "Hi Ann," or "What's up, Ann?" or if about something you may have liked in the blurb & excerpt. Anything, as long as it's not rude, or offensive of course. :-)

OH! Don't forget to scroll to other Blog Bites and read Marna Martin's interview and excerpt for her Featured Title this week.

If you'd like to Order A Real Man go to: http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/arealman.htm


Falling in love with your kidnapper is never supposed to happen, but when he isn’t exactly human it brings up another set of problems all together…

Rachel fights with everything she has against a man, Scott, who has broken into her apartment. On the run, Rachel learns Scott isn’t running from the law, he’s running from a secret branch of military that the government doesn’t know exists. Scott’s mysterious, deadly, and handsome as sin. Her mind tells her to be terrified, but her body and heart are making other demands.

Now Rachel finds herself trying to help her kidnapper, along with two other of Scott's colleagues that have gone AWOL. They must locate and save the doctor and a congressman who can bring down this illegal operation. It’s a race against the clock to blow the top off one of the biggest secrets the world has ever known.


His stomach was in knots at what he was about to do. He’d been training for this. This was what he was made for … to kill. To assassinate anyone who threatened their organization, or the government of the United States.

He looked through the scope, focusing on his objective. The man passed by the window once, too quickly for a killing shot. “Do you have the target in sight?”

“Negative. No clear shot available.”

“There can be no **** up’s with this one. Once you have the shot take it.”


He blew a steadying breath as he adjusted the focus on his scope, holding the sniper rifle loosely in his hands. He felt sweat beading on his brow, his hands slick.

The man came into full view. He tensed making ready to shoot. “Target is in view.”

“You are clear to proceed.”

The man smiled. He could see the action clearly through the night vision scope. The target leaned down out of view for a moment then came back to his full height, holding a toddler in his arms.

His finger tightened on the trigger and as he watched father and son, staring out the window, he stopped, his finger twitched slightly. The man was pointing up to the sky, showing his son the stars that were winking there.

“Take the shot!”

He shook his head and wiped furiously at his brow, before returning to the scope. The little boy’s eyes were full of wonder, his arms around his father’s neck, holding on tight. There was love between them. Complete trust. Once he put a bullet between the man’s eyes the boy’s life would be forever changed. He’d fall, he’d see his father and look death straight in the face.

“What are you waiting for? Take the shot. That’s an order.”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t have a clear shot.”

“The **** you don’t. You have it. Take him out.”

His gut clenched further and he felt like he was going to be sick. It wouldn’t be the first time. His hands trembled though he’d been trained. He’d killed before protecting himself during training, but this … this he knew he could not do. He couldn’t kill in cold blood and damn the bastards, that’s what they wanted.

What had this man done? He didn’t know, because they didn’t tell him. He was to take an order and carry it out without question. He lowered the weapon.


There was silence for a moment, before another voice came on the line. He knew that voice so well. That voice had been on his ass for the last five years. “This is your commanding officer. You are to take the shot and return to headquarters immediately.”

He pulled the rifle to his chest and leaned against the wall, jerking the comm. unit from his throat. “No,” he said one last time.

You are terminated. Your orders were clear and you’re done.”

He glanced at the pistol beside him. Picking it up, he shoved it in the waist band of his pants at his lower back. Next, he retrieved the bullet from the rifle. Standing, he glanced one more time back at the house across the field. He shoved the bullet in his pocket, tossed the weapon aside and left it behind.

CONTEST ENDS: Friday, Feb. 27th so hurry and enter!

9:18 AM

Wednesday's Witty Words

Idealists...foolish enough to throw caution
to the winds...have advanced mankind and
enriched the world.

- Emma Goldman

11:32 AM

In the Author Spotlight

Marna Martin

AL: Thanks Marna for being in the spotlight this week.

MM: Thank you for having me. I love getting a chance to talk to people!

AL: Tell us what’s happening with you?

MM: Right now, I'm living the glamorous life of a stay-at-home mom. This is a big change for me! It's taken quite a bit to adjust to making my own deadlines. My husband is active-duty Navy and is currently deployed, so our entire family is in a holding pattern until he gets home this summer. Right now, I'm focusing on Scout meetings, choir practice and writing.

AL: What do you have the shelf for us to read?

MM: My only currently published work is Strip. I'm polishing up a few other projects, including the sequel to Strip, and those will be heading out in the next few months.

AL: What sizzling tales are you whipping up for us readers?

MM: Tease, the sequel to Strip, will be bringing back Lissa and three sexy Egyptian demigod brothers, searching for the missing fourth. I'm also working on Metamorphosis, a s/f romance featuring space pirates, and Don't Touch, a paranormal romantic thriller.

AL: When did you know you had to be a writer?

MM: I started telling stories before I could write, much to my parents' consternation. My first published story appeared in a teachers' magazine when I was in 8th grade. At one point in time I was given some very negative feedback and that kept me from attempting to get published for almost two decades. I'm happy to say that I've moved past that and now I'm trying to make up for the lost time.

AL: Who is a great example to you and how you live your life?

MM: I have a great deal of respect for the late Bettie Page. In a time where women were supposed to keep their sexuality behind closed doors, she embraced it. She's the ultimate expression of liberal feminism, owning her sensuality without being constrained by how "good girls" were supposed to live.

AL: Do you have a top 5 actors list? You know that list of men that make you go yum, yum that would be inevitably yours, if only....

MM: My big weakness is for voices. Classically trained actors with a hint of a British accent send shivers up my spine. I'd have to say my top picks to come over and read to me would be would be Sean Connery, Patrick Stewart, Naveen Andrews, and Hugh Laurie. Oh, and I adore Masi Oka, because intelligent men are a total turn-on.

AL: If you were a Superheroine, would you wear tights and a cape?

MM: Probably not. Tights have a bad habit of bunching if you move in them too much, and I keep thinking capes are just things for the super-villains to hold on to in a fight. I'd much rather be wearing leather.

AL: You are told you have to meet one paranormal creature, no safeguards, what do you choose? What do you bring with you?

MM: Oooo, this could be fun! I only get to meet one?
Considering how much I hate housework and how seldom it get done when I'm writing, I think I'd like to meet one of the Wee Little Brown Men. I'd take bottles of cream and stout lager, so I could pay them appropriately.

AL: What fun activities do you like to do when you’re not locked away weaving tales of steamy love and hot blooded men?

MM: Moms are allowed to have fun?
Actually, I am a gamer chick. I love role-playing games. I'm equally happy playing in a tabletop game with dice and character sheets or in a live-action game, dressed up in a costume and beating on my friends with plumbing supplies. I find that creating a character and totally immersing myself in that mind-set for a few hours really sparks my creative juices. After a good gaming session I'll sit up and write for hours.

AL: Please share a favorite quote with us.

MM: "Well-behaved women seldom make history."--Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and Harvard professor

AL: If you'd like to learn more about Marna please visit:

Featured Title:
Availiable from New Concepts Publishing


Faced with paying tuition after losing her scholarships, Lissa auditions to work at a high-class strip club. An attempted abduction by an obsessed fan forces her to re-evaluate working in the club; when her boyfriend disappears, she feels compelled to investigate the club's hidden mysteries. She finds a 4,000 year old terror that may demand her life—or more.


Mike shuffled quickly through a folder of CDs, selecting some older syntho-punk pop with a strong beat . His fingers fumbled as he tried to drop the disc into the tray.

Lissa hid her smile as he bent to pick up the disc. “I am such a dork,” he muttered quietly as he hit the play button. He sat back on the couch as Lissa pushed the coffee table to one side to give herself more room.

She began swaying with the music, catching the beat and losing herself in the song more thoroughly than she did at work. For once, she didn’t have to worry about keeping a customer pushed to the absolute edge between club propriety and animal desire. This dance was for herself as much as for Mike. Her hands ran up and down the front of her dress, cupping her breasts then traveling down to press the thin fabric of her dress against her pubis, outlining the shape of her stomach, hips and crotch. Her hips moved back and forth, and she delighted in the feel of cotton wrapping sensuously around her legs, clinging, revealing, flowing around her in an eddy of flower-printed black fabric. She was hypersensitive, hearing the catch in Mike’s breath as she turned and swayed before him. He reached out, touching her legs just above the knees, where the fabric hem flirted across his fingers. He lightly ran his hands up the outside of her thighs, his fingers shaking. Lissa smiled, resting her hands on his shoulders, swaying under his touch as she met his green eyes, dark with desire.

“Dear God,” he whispered, his hands sliding up over the curve of her ass and pulling her gently to him. “How do you keep them off of you?”

Lissa slid into his lap without resistance, meeting his lips for a long, sweet, lingering kiss. “I don’t encourage them,” she answered.

His fingers curled in her hair as he pulled her in for another kiss, tasting her lips and mouth. His other hand caught for a moment in the fabric of her skirt, then he slid it around her waist. Sitting in his lap, Lissa could feel his erection pressing against her thigh. She pressed back, and Mike groaned softly against her mouth. “Oh, Lissa,” he breathed. “Is this what you really want?”

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.” She slid down from his lap until she was kneeling between his knees, her abdomen pressed against his crotch, her breasts against his stomach as she turned her face up to kiss him again. His hands wandered up and down against her back. She could still feel the tremor in his hands, and knew she was shaking like a leaf herself. “Any roommates I should worry about?” she asked.

“No, none.” His hands moved hesitatingly to the long row of buttons on the front of her dress. He undid the top button slowly. As the first button squeaked free, she reached up to his hands and gently lowered them to the second button. His eyes widened and he leaned forward to kiss her again. Four buttons were undone by the time they came back up for air.

Mike lowered his head to her bared cleavage, running his tongue between her breasts. Lissa sighed and threw her head back. His mouth nibbled up along the line of her throat, and she gasped in pleasure. Her hand cradled the back of his head as he kissed her throat and breasts some more. His warm thumbs edged the fabric of her dress and bra aside, releasing her nipples. He sucked the right one first, then the left, biting gently before he pulled away. “I’ve wanted to do that ever since the first time I saw you on stage, wearing that chain,” he whispered, his voice hoarse.

He concentrated on undoing the buttons again, then pushed the dress down off Lissa’s shoulders. The dress fell away, leaving her bare but for her bra above the waist. The black lace cups of the bra were riding underneath the curve of her breasts, and Lissa felt more exposed than she would have naked, her breasts being presented on display for Mike’s pleasure. “Are you sure?” he asked, his eyes locking on hers, his hands cupping her breasts, thumbs running across her tight nipples.

“Yes, I’m sure,” she said. She began unbuttoning his shirt, smiling at the tiny pops of the plastic buttons escaping the tight material. When she could reach inside his shirt, she let her hands rove across the light cotton of his t-shirt, enjoying the feel of chest hair and toned muscle underneath. “Are you?”

His arms wrapped around her as he pulled her close, kissing her thoroughly as their bodies pressed together. She could feel the hardness of his erection pressed against her stomach, his pulse pounding hard enough that she felt it through the denim. “Very,” he answered.He stood, lifting Lissa to her feet. She twisted her hips and her dress fell to the ground, leaving her wearing only a black lace set of panties and bra. Mike shucked off his shirts and tossed them onto the papasan chair. He scooped Lissa up so she was cradled in his arms. “My room’s a mess,” he admitted ruefully, “but the bed is still more comfortable than the couch.”

Lissa didn’t notice his room.

9:32 AM

Wednesday's Witty Words

If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they put them all there?

- Anonymous

9:10 AM

In the Author Spotlight
Laura Shinn

Contest: For those of you who post, Laura will enter your name into a drawing for a free download of, 'Someone to Watch Over Me'. Please enjoy Laura's interview, blurb and excerpt, and don't forget to post for a chance to win!

AL: Thanks Laura for joining me and being in the spotlight this week.
LS: I’m delighted, Ann. I’m excited about participating in this interview and giving your readers a glimpse of my world. *g*

AL: Tell us what’s happening with you?
LS: Much! I’m actively involved in my church and family life. I have an awesome hubby who supports my work and two boys who are turning me gray, though I love them dearly. I’m making new friends and hubby and I are losing weight together and getting fit! We’ve each lost about thirty pounds and we’re getting stronger from taking daily walks. If it’s nice outside, a walk right before sunset is the way to go! You’d be amazed at how wonderful it makes you feel.

AL: Do you have any current or upcoming releases you’d like to fill us in on?
LS: I have high expectations on a two-book proposal I’ve sent off to Class Act Books. Since I design my own book covers that is one less step toward publication. Both covers have been approved by the publisher. Recently released in to print are “Someone To Watch Over Me” (the first in my Angels of the Realm series) and “NIGHTLIFE Anthology” (two vampire short stories) at Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing. Their bookstore is at Reader’s Eden (http://www.readerseden.com/). I also have to mention that “NIGHTLIFE Anthology” was recently in the top ten finishers during the P&E Poll for 2008. It won in the Artwork category, and I’m proud to say I designed that cover. I also designed the cover for “Someone To Watch Over Me” and it tied at eleventh place. Woo-hoo! LOL I’m very excited. My cover designs are really taking off and most can be seen at either Reader’s Eden or Class Act Books. You can also view my cover designs on my “My Books” page at my site: http://www.laurashinn.com/ Give the page about two minutes to load since most of that page consists of cover designs.

AL: Tell us what you’re working on.
LS: I have several things in the works, though I’m still typing. Other than the two-book proposal, I have a trilogy about twins that I’ve outlined briefly and would like to see finished in the near future. I’ve also begun a psychological thriller, something new for me. Once my two-book series is published, I have two sequels waiting to be finished: Angels of the Realm series, Book 2: Someone To Guide My Way; and The Men of Wellington, Texas series, Book 2: Nothin’ But Trouble. I’m looking forward to finishing both of those as well. My angel series will have a third novel, but the Texas series may end with book 2. We’ll have to see about those possibilities… *g*

AL: You’re the heroine of your book, why do you fall in love with the hero?
LS: For purely romantic reasons. *g* All of my novels are mixed genre, one of which is Romance. The heroine falls in love with her hero because they are chosen for each other, destined to be mated. And my heroes and heroines come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities and personalities. If they didn’t, the story wouldn’t be interesting at all, would it?

AL: If your muse were to talk behind your back, what secrets would he/she tell?
LS: LOL Now, that’s a dangerous question and could get me in a lot of trouble with my muse if I don’t answer it correctly. My muse is an inspiring spirit who comforts me when my well of inspiration has gone dry and crowds my mind and emotions with potential ideas the rest of the time. I think of my muse as a sort of mother figure who pops my butt when I’m being lazy and claps with glee when I’ve finished an awesome scene. I also think my muse grows with me, learning as I learn and providing me with ideas as I type. What secrets would she tell? If she knows what’s good for her, she won’t divulge a single one… LOL

AL: If you could go anywhere in the world and write to your hearts delight, where would you go, what would your story be about and what is the title?
LS: Oh my goodness, that is difficult! I’d have to bring my family, of course. But if they’d allow me to choose the destination, it would be the Bahamas, hands down. I’d be sitting in an actually comfortable fold-up chair in the sand with a large umbrella above me and my laptop sitting squarely on my thighs with the incredible sound of the ocean penetrating my ears and calming my mind. While the kids and hubby play in the sand or ocean (about half a mile down…I have to concentrate, you know…) I’ll be writing my next novel or series, designing the cover during my down-time, just as a relaxing exercise. *g* The plot and title would be… Wait a minute. I can’t tell you until I actually get to the Bahamas. LOL Until then, only my muse knows for certain. *sneaky smile* Makes you wonder what’s in the creative noodle, doesn’t it? I can tell you it would have romance, action, danger, a possible nemesis who makes Michael Myers look like the boy next door…and a hero who is everything the heroine wants in a man, even if they clash from time to time. Love is perfect, even if our hero and heroine are not. Love would be the perfection that binds them together and enables their love to grow over the years. Hmm, now you have me wondering how much it would cost to fly to the Bahamas… LOL

AL: Best movie you've seen recently?
LS: That’s difficult since I love a hoard of various types of movies. Recently my family and I saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop (which was absolutely hilarious and surprisingly touching); Twilight (wonderful movie, eagerly awaiting the sequel); Jumper (of the many paranormal films available today, this one really delivered); Ironman (one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time); and – don’t laugh – Horton Hears a Who! (everyone is special, no matter how small *g*). I’m hoping to go see Bedtime Stories very soon. As for later in 2009, I’m desperately waiting for Star Trek to come out in early May & Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince during the summer. I think the kids want to see the Dragonball movie and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen sequel. The previews looked good, so I’ll probably be joining them.

AL: What's your favorite music?
LS: Everything except Opera & hard metal rock. I love nearly every type of music, and I love to sing to it. Musicals are some of my favorite movies from the past. If I had to pick my favorite music from a musical, though, it would probably be The Sound of Music. South Pacific & Oklahoma run very close in second place. *g* I’m so happy to see the High School Musical movies come out as well. It’s good to see that kids today can appreciate awesome music in a movie/musical format.

AL: What’s your favorite comfort food?
LS: Here’s what’s strange… It used to be chocolate. Lately, though, when I need a comfort food I eat peanut butter (with nuts), right out of the jar with a spoon. My kids love it and think it’s cool. “Look! Mom’s eating like us!” LOL

AL: Share a favorite quote with us.
LS: Here are a few of my favorites…
-Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
-To err is human; to forgive, divine.
-Less is more & simplicity is always key.

Laura's Featured Title is: 'Someone to Watch Over Me' - Angels of the Realm Series, which is available now.


Author, Laura Shinn will take you on a journey where heavenly creatures of an unseen realm battle for the protection and happiness of mortals. Two worlds collide and an angel must make the most important decision of his existence. The wrong decision will end in his destruction.

Deep within the forest, David -- a Guardian -- watches over a hunted child and her mother. David has battled, protected and encouraged human authorities for centuries as an Avenging Angel, since the dawn of Earth's creation. But now he faces a new challenge...and a new problem. How does an Avenging Angel under new assignment become a Guardian, and how should he cope with his growing feelings for Sarah, the child's mother?

Time has run out and a hitman is on their trail. Forced to run, they must find the evidence to protect Nicole before a ruthless killer finds them. Determined to win Sarah's heart and still maintain his heavenly status, David accompanies them on their quest. Will the Lord allow David, Sarah and Nicole to be a family...a mortal one?


Outside, within the realm of supernatural creatures, David hovered easily, ever watchful over Nicole. He wasn't visible. He didn't need to be. The man, Louis, was a good protector. And Nicole, under his kind attention, was progressing at a normal rate. She smiled often and spoke several times a day. He was pleased with her recovery. She deserved so much happiness.

David turned his head in time to see Sarah in the kitchen window. His eyes followed her retreating back as she turned away. How he wished he could see beyond the cabin's walls as easily as he passed through them. Even angels had limitations.

Though Sarah was human and needed human contact and love, David's heart ached nonetheless when he remembered the sweet embrace Sarah had shared with Louis. He wished for one brief moment in time to be human as well. A man with a soul. A man with something to offer his mate. Then it would be possible for him to share Sarah's life, experience her love and return it with all his heart.

However, such was not the case. Nor could it ever be.

David looked up towards the Heavens, recognizing the Lord's voice inside his head. Immediately, he knelt on one knee. The Lord's words filtered down to him in the instant that He spoke.
Prepare for battle. Evil comes with the dawn.

David lowered his head in confirmation and understanding. Earthly evil didn't exist on its own. It was conceived and carried out from the minds and will of Satan's minions. Before the evil men arrived, there would first be a battle in the air. Only the victor there would find victory later at the cabin. He had every intention of being the victor.

Because it was imperative that Nicole listen and obey, David appeared before the child and spoke calmly, but with authority.

"Go inside. Stay there with your mother and protectors. Leave for no reason until I return. Do this now."

"Yes, I will," Nicole answered, entirely too serious for a child her age.

Louis's head popped up from his position on the ground where Nicole had defeated the bad guy...namely himself. She still leaned over him, a wooden stick at his chest: her sword.
Smiling, Louis asked, "Will what, Nicole?"

His humor faded quickly when he noticed that her attention was focused not on him but on the tops of the forest trees above his head. Who was she speaking to?

She never answered. With the speed of the very young, she turned quickly and, like a shot, began running the twenty-five feet toward the cabin.

Alarmed by the drastic change in her behavior, Louis rolled to his feet and pulled his gun from his shoulder holster, following right on her heels. A quick search around them revealed nothing. What had spooked Nicole? To his surprise, she quickly closed and locked the door behind him. She looked as cool as a cucumber. What the devil was going on?

Confused by her actions and lack of fear, he turned and asked breathlessly, "Nicole, are you okay?"

In a charged whisper, she said, "No one can leave the cabin! We all have to stay inside until I say."

Relief washed over him in powerful waves. Quietly, he holstered his gun. A game. All of this was a simple child's game...that had taken about ten years off his life.

Loosely placing his hands on his hips, Louis asked in a mock serious voice, "What if the cabin's on fire? Can we leave then?"

Nicole didn't smile. In fact, the question seemed to alarm her and Louis opened his mouth to put her fears at ease. At that moment Sarah spoke from the kitchen doorway.

"Why should we stay inside, honey?" Sarah wiped the last of the water from her hands on the old dish towel and laid it aside. She knew her daughter too well. Something was wrong.
"Because he told us to."

The adults exchanged a blank look. "Who, Louis?"

Nicole rolled her eyes. Sometimes grownups weren't very smart. "No, Mommy. My Guardian angel."

Sarah looked over to Louis and saw him release a heavy breath and relax. She, however, did not. She knew better, knew that angels truly existed. Throughout time, their deeds were clearly recorded in her worn and well-read Bible.

"Come here, honey." Sarah opened her arms. She wrapped them comfortably around her daughter. "How long has your angel been talking to you?"

"About a week, I guess. Why, Mommy?"

Sarah remembered her frightened daughter's first smile, remembered the slight nod she had believed was for Louis. She remembered all the times Nicole seemed to be speaking to what Sarah had thought was an imaginary friend. Now she wondered if she'd been wrong.

"I was only curious," Sarah reassured her daughter with a gentle hug. "Mommy wanted to thank your angel for taking such good care of us." She swallowed nervously. "Is he in the room right now?"

Nicole's smile vanished and Sarah had her answer.

"No. He told us to stay inside until he returns. Do you think something bad is about to happen?"
That was certainly a loaded question. She couldn't answer her daughter past the lump of fear in her throat. Frightened eyes rose to Louis and he easily read her expression.

"Not if Jimmy and I have anything to say about it," he answered Nicole but kept his gaze steadily on Sarah.

Louis's face changed suddenly at the mention of Jimmy and he quickly left the living room, searching the cabin. He returned a few seconds later and meet Sarah's questioning look. He shook his head. Jimmy was not in the cabin.

9:20 AM

Dog Poo and the Cat!

WARNING! If you are easily grossed out do not proceed.

If you would like to get a kick out of a sick dog poo story, carry on.

So, I get home from work yesterday evening. I unload my (soon-to-be) two year old daughter from the car. I'm racing her up the sidewalk, in a good mood.

Unlocking the door, I walk in and everything freezes. Yes, my entire house smells like I had just walked into a thick, murky cloud of dog poo. I'm freaking out cause that means my dog has diarrhea, something I hadn't had to smell in a long time; but I'm freaking out worse cause it smells as if it's right there in my living room. Hadn't we put Molly in her kennel before leaving for the day?

Yes, we had. (We being my son, whose 10 and I.) I go back to the laundry room, where Molly's kennel is and at some point during the day she'd had 'explosive' diarrhea. It's all over her kennel, coming out onto the laundry floor, and she's covered.

My daughter runs for the kennel to let the 'puppy' (a 13 year old lab) out. I hold her off, and immediately gate off the laundry room. I open the door, and Molly comes 'sliding' out, then continues to my cries of stop, don't move and utter dismay to slip and slid all over my laundry room floor.

I'm gagging and almost upchucking at this point. My daughter who doesn't have that sense of 'bad smell' yet is just looking at me in wonder of everything happening, while standing safe on the other side of the gate.

Hubby comes home, I hear him before I see him. My son follows shortly after with a friend in tow and I immediately hear the gagging and loud voices from the living room. I begin yelling for help, yelling what's going on, yelling to get the dog outside to rinse her off, while it's 18 degrees out. And yes, we had the windows open with the heat running to try to air the house out. Febreeze was my friend last night. My very close friend.

Once Molly is rinsed, hubby wraps her in a towel and carries her to the tub, where we give her a warm bath. While in the bath, we keep having to rinse her as diarrhea keeps leaking out.

I have to mop the floor and mop it again, and I will mop again today with a new mop since mine is not completely ruined (and I had to wash off the sides of the wash machine and drier) AND finally...we put a wet dog, shivering and upset back in the laundry room, gated off from the rest of the house with her kennel sitting outside to be cleaned.

But, my story is not finished!. Once Molly is settled in the laundry room, I walk into the living room and my cat pees on my husbands Nike's and a pair of my heels. Yes, he just stood there and took a whizz. I don't know if he had a lack of oxygen to the brain from spending a day in the fumes, maybe it was temporary insanity, or maybe he thought since Molly had 'marked' the whole house with her scent, he'd just make a few of his own to claim his territory back. Suffice to say it was the last straw. My cat, our first pet after hubby and I were newly married 13 years ago, our first baby; almost saw the light of his after life last night.

So, after cleaning that up, we left the house and went out to dinner. No, we did not want to eat with a cloud of poo hanging in the air. Yuk! And I didn't want to sit and glower at my cat all evening. Dinner was nice and when we returened our house smelled much better.

Fun times, huh? Bletch! We managed not to be sick, my cat managed not to die, but it was a struggle and I feel we should be awarded for all our efforts. LOL!

9:54 AM

Wednesday's Witty Words

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves,
and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.

- Agnes Repplier

8:56 AM

In the Author Spotlight

J. L. Langley

AL: Thank you so much J.L. for joining me today. It’s the “Year of the Blog” and we’re all happy that you could join us.

JL: Thanks for having me.

AL: Fill us in on what’s up with you right now.

JL: Just writing, trying to workout, and keep up with kidlets and the hubby.

AL: Do you have any new or upcoming releases you’d like to fill us in on?

JL: I will have two for sure. Both anthologies, one is called The Shifting Sands, the other is called Studs & Spurs. Both are to be published with MLR Press. Both the anthologies will release in ebook and print this year, but I’m not certain of the time frame.

AL: What are you currently working on?

JL: Right now I’m finishing up a couple of short stories for the anthologies. After that, I’m back to novel length.

AL: Can you tell us a specific personality, character trait that you’ve put into one of your heroes that is totally a J.L. thing?

JL: Hmmm…the one that comes to mind is Laine from With Love. He’s a bit of a klutz, and despite the years of dance, I tend to be a little eon the klutzy side as well. The kitchen scene, with Lainey? Yeah, it was taken straight from a nearly identical scene in real life with Andre and I.

AL: If you had to write yourself as a villain, what kind of villain would you be? What would you be named?

JL: Oh an evil one. I mean if you are going to do something do it right, yeah? I’ve always admired the true evil of Keyser Söze in Unusual Suspects. I mean come on that is a bad guy! Names? Wow. Something scary. What? I have no idea.

AL: Valentine’s Day is around the corner; is there anything special you and your significant other plan for that day?

JL: Not going to the ER! LOL Seriously,. We spent last Valentine’s in the ER. I ended up becoming disoriented and had to call Andre to come get me. It turned out it was from my migraine meds, but since I’d been having so many migraines in a short time frame and had no clue how I ended up wandering aimlessly around Walmart. We ended up getting a CT just to make certain it was an adverse affect of my meds and not something else strange going on. It was actually sort of funny, the patient rep came in and asked how we were when we were waiting on the CT results and asked if we were doing anything special. Well Andre, goof that he is, smiled and told the rep, “We’re doing it. She said she wanted to go somewhere expensive for Valentine’s day so I brought her here.”

AL: If you were a world ruler and you were given a choice of 3 laws to enact, what would they be?

JL: Oh man! I have no clue. I think there are probably more than 3, I’d want to choose, but at the moment all escape me.

AL: You have just won five thousand dollars! But...you have to spend it all today. What will you buy?

JL: Oh this is easy, I’d use it as a down payment on a new car. J I’m actually in the market for a new car this year. Is that cheating? If so, lets see, I’d probably go to Home Depot or Rockler and buy tools. Table saw, router, a planer, etc.

AL: What’s the best part about living in Texas?

JL: The cowboys in tight Wranglers, of course ;-)

AL: One of my favorite things to do; share a quote with us. Any quote be it silly, meaningful, or simple.

JL: Ooh here is one of my favorites: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” - Abraham Lincoln

AL: If you'd like to find out more about J. L. Langley and what books she has for you to read, please visit her at:

J. L. Langley's Featured Title:
The Englor Affair
Available from Samhain Publishing
In hiding who he was, Payton found himself…and the man he would grow to love.

After his brother is kidnapped, Prince Payton Townsend masquerades as an Admiral’s assistant in order to track the culprits through the tangled mysteries of the planet Englor. He finds way more than he bargained for in the form of Marine Colonel Simon Hollister.

Simon is no ordinary soldier. He’s heir to Englor and his life is mapped out for him: throne, bride, and eventually an heir. He never expected a dalliance with Payton to blossom into love, or that the organization that taught him to lead would threaten that love—and their lives.

Danger and intrigue abound as they learn more about their shared enemy, and about each other. What they learn could help them rise above to an enduring love—or pull them apart.
My parents may never recover from the trauma of having to ask me to put my hacking skills to good use after dissuading me from using them all these years.
—from the journal of Payton Marcus Townsend
January 15, 4830: the Lady Anna: Two parsecs outside of the Englor System
“Hurry, hurry, hurry.” Payton looked around the engine room then back to the monitors in front of him. Almost done, download ninety-eight percent complete. Come on. If he could just get into the IN mainframes…

Dust. His hands were sweating. No sooner than he wiped them on his trousers, a drop of perspiration dripped down his temple as well. He dashed it away. Get it together, Pay. If you’re going to spy for your planet you can’t go around looking like a nervous ninny. This was the perfect plan. Hacking into the Englor Marines’ message database from the Lady Anna would make it nearly impossible to trace. Even if there were cyber footprints, they wouldn’t be detected until he was on Englor. No one would suspect him. Unless, of course, he failed to get out of here and back to his room unseen.

His com-pad beeped, signaling it was done. “Yes.” Payton closed the two screens together, with the displays facing out so he could see what the ship’s cameras were seeing. He was going to need it to get back to his room undetected. Bypassing sensors and cameras to hide his whereabouts was simple, but sneaking past crewmembers—Nate in particular—unseen proved a little more challenging.

After punching the buttons on the halo keyboard of the ship to log off, he pulled up the Lady Anna’s cameras on his com-pad. Nate had brought Payton on this trip to work on deciphering a message Aiden and Trouble had intercepted, but Payton wanted to get a head start on looking into Colonel Hollister, who was mentioned in an intercepted letter by an Englorian Spy on Regelence. This should prove once and for all that Payton’s unconventional computer skills were a blessing.

Pulling up the first camera on his screen, Payton hurried to the door. He could turn the camera off remotely, but he needed to see if there was anyone outside the door first. He brought up the view immediately outside the engine room door and then the next hallway to make certain no one was walking into this corridor. The coast was clear. Nothing out there but the ugly purple carpet and stark metal bulkhead. Who used violet on a ship? The IN colors were black, white and gold. Why not black carpet?

He tapped the window on his screen and the corridor disappeared. Payton opened the door and closed it quietly behind him. As he rushed toward the end of the hall he pulled up the next camera. Still clear. With a couple of touches of his fingertip, he turned off the camera and opened a window with the next view in it. Dust. Two sailors were headed his way. Payton looked around. There was a hatch directly across where he stood now. He did some fast tapping on the screen and opened a map. The room across from him was an officer’s apartment. That wouldn’t work. Where was a broom closet when you needed one?

He had mere seconds to decide what to do. The two men were about to round the corner. What were the odds they’d mention to Nate that they saw him? Payton ducked his head and plowed forward, like he was where he was supposed to be. Really he had no other choice, just standing there looking for a hiding place would definitely make him stand out. Note to self: next time steal—no not steal, a Townsend did not steal—borrow a uniform.

The sailors came around the corner. Both were privates, both a little taller than Payton’s five feet six inches. He hadn’t seen either one of them before. Of course that wasn’t surprising, there were over two hundred crewmen on the ship. Fortunately, neither man paid Payton any mind. They walked right past him, still engrossed in their conversation.

Payton let out the breath he’d been holding and brought up the next camera view. That had been amazingly easy. But this was where it could get tricky. The corridor opened up into a four-way intersection. Two of the branches led to the public areas of the ship. The hall he was in led to the engine room, and the hall directly across from him led to his quarters. The problem was, the cross sections were usually busy. Maybe the same trick would work? At this point he had nothing to lose. The closer he got to his room, the antsier he became. On his screen the intersection appeared devoid of personnel, but Payton had no illusions that it would stay that way. He turned off the camera, put his com-pad under his arm and raised his nose in the air. Nothing to see here. Just taking a stroll, stretching my legs.

As Payton reached the halfway point of the intersection, a husky female voice said, “Aye-aye, Admiral.”

Stardust and imploding planets, there was only one Admiral on board. Payton looked in time to see Nate turning away from Captain Brittani Kindros and toward the intersection. Dust. Payton took off running. He didn’t stop until he got to his hatch. He darted inside and leaned against the smooth metallic panel when it closed behind him. He’d tell Nate what he’d done, but he wanted to wait until after he had some information to impart.

His hard-headed macho Admiral brother-in-law would throttle him if he got caught. Despite bringing Payton for his hacking talent, Nate was trying to keep Payton’s involvement to a minimum. At least that’s what Payton suspected.

He took a deep breath and pulled himself together. Using his screen, he brought the cameras back up.

Nate turned down the hallway that led to Payton’s room. Even Payton had to admit how sexy the commanding air surrounding Nate was. The man really was something. Even though he was so big and masculine, he moved with an elegant grace that spoke of his upbringing. And he looked every inch the earl right this second in his crisp brown morning coat, brown pinstriped waistcoat and cream-colored cravat. Aiden was a lucky man…and any minute Payton would be a dead one.

He’d told Nate he was going to nap after Nate had soundly beaten him at chess. His black leather case sat by the chaise he’d deserted to go play spy. He raced toward it and deposited his com-pad into it. He needed to look like he’d been here the whole time. As he sat down he reached into the outer pocket of his case. The knock came just as Payton grabbed his leather-bound journal and pulled it into his lap. He scrambled for a pen.

Payton took a deep shuddering breath, trying to slow his racing heart, opened the book and held his pen like he was writing. “Come in.”

Nate met Payton’s gaze and smiled almost reluctantly. “You’ve been writing in your journal?” The hatch shut behind him.

“Yes.” Payton smiled. Please don’t let him see how hard I’m breathing.

Nate’s brows pulled together, his forehead furrowing. “Okay, I thought I— Never mind. So, tell me, how is it someone as computer savvy as you records his journal on paper rather than his computer? You’ve rarely been without that thing”—Nate dipped his head toward Payton’s computer bag, which lay beside the chaise—“the entire trip. You’re nearly as bad as your brother with his sketchscreens.”

Payton shrugged. “I know better than anyone how easy it is to hack into computers.”
Nate’s face went comically blank. “Are you telling me that your personal computer is not secure?”

No computer is secure with someone who knows what he’s doing. Payton laughed, hoping it didn’t sound nervous. “Of course it is. If you are concerned about household computers breaking in, you need not, even Jeffers can’t get into my com-pad and I’ve programmed him to be able to take a peek at other computers that enter the castle.”

“Good.” The tension in Nate’s shoulders eased and he came further into the room. He smelled good, smoky and kind of sweet, like he’d smoked a flavored cigar. Payton had always liked that smell. Taking a seat on the edge of the chaise, Nate crossed one leg over the other, stretching his feet out in front of him. He gestured toward Payton’s journal, making a “give it here” motion.
Payton’s mouth dropped open. He shook his head and clutched it to his chest. What was wrong with Nate? Surely he didn’t expect Payton to allow him to read his journal.

Nate sighed and held his hand out. “I’m not going to read it.”

“Then why do you want it?” Admiral, brother-in-law and guardian at the moment not withstanding, there was no way Payton was turning it over. Nate would have to physically take it from him, and for all Nate’s brute strength Payton didn’t think the man had it in him. He was so gentle with Aiden. Not that Payton didn’t think Nate could be rough and dangerous, the man exuded danger from every pore, but Payton didn’t think Nate would, not over a journal anyway. He’d overheard his brother Aiden tell Nate to keep Payton safe. And as silly as Payton thought that was—he could take care of himself after all—he knew Nate would never break a promise to Aiden.

“Flip to a blank page and give it here.” Nate’s eyes narrowed. He was serious.

Payton shook his head so hard he felt like Muffin being told to get her bath. He inched his way to the side of the chaise, preparing to run. Childish and cowardly it might be, but no one read his journal.

Moving surprisingly quick for such a big man, Nate snagged the leather-bound book and the pen out of Payton’s arms.

Mine. Gasping, Payton lunged at him.

Nate caught him easily and shoved him back to his seat.

Payton landed on his arse with a jolt, even on the soft cushion.

Flipping to the back of the book, Nate wrote something. Within seconds he offered the book and pen to Payton.

What in the bloody hell? Maybe Nate hadn’t lost his mind. Payton snatched the book from his brother-in-law’s hand, giving him a glare for good measure.

Nate smiled. “I’m impressed. Your brother probably would have attacked me if that were him and his sketchscreen.”

Payton didn’t bother mentioning that he had tried to attack Nate, but Nate had pretty much swatted him away like a pesky fly. Being small rained meteors. Still frowning, he looked down at the journal.

On the unlined paper was a surprisingly elegant scrawl. Can you secure this room so we can talk privately?

The tightness in Payton’s chest eased. The Lady Anna, like Jeffers, had listening capabilities in the private quarters. Nate wasn’t losing his mind, he just didn’t want to take a chance of the IN being alerted that he had silenced the ship.

Nodding, Payton reached over the side of the chaise, stuffed his journal into his bag and grabbed his com-pad. He hadn’t turned it off, so all he had to do was flip it open. In seconds, he had the computer locked out of this room and the adjoining suite that belonged to Nate, just in case the speakers were ultra sensitive. He glanced up at Nate. “Okay.”

“Okay? That was quick.”

Yeah, it was, since he’d already been inside the ship’s computer, but he wasn’t going to tell Nate that. “I’m good.”

Nate chuckled. “You are indeed, I’m impressed. I wanted to talk to you about our plan. You’re going to Englor as my aide and an IN lieutenant.”

Huh? Payton’s jaw dropped open for the second time in minutes. “Beg pardon?”

“I’ve had Brittani fake your records. No one will know but the two of us…and Brittani.”

“And Captain Kindros is trustworthy?”

“Absolutely.” Nate said it so quickly and with such confidence. “But you trust no one but myself. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. What if someone recognizes me?”

“I doubt that will be a problem. But if they do you will just pretend to be flattered and tell them thank you, being a Regelen it is quite an honor to be mistaken for Prince Payton.” Nate grinned. “You are, however, not Payton Townsend, but Lieutenant Payton Jeffers. You answer only to me. I have uniforms for you with my things. We will change on the space station before going down to Englor. Do you think you can act like a soldier?”

“Jeffers?” Jeffers was the name of his family’s computer butler. Payton smiled. This was going to be fun. “Aye-aye, Admiral, I think I can handle it. Are you forgetting where I was raised and how revered soldiers are on Regelence?” He gave Nate a crisp salute. Pretending to be a soldier would be simple.

Nate chuckled and shook his head. “Good. I’ll have to talk to my family to make certain they don’t give you away, but other than that I believe we are set.”

“Not quite.”

One of Nate’s dark brows rose. “Oh?”

They were fairly certain the IN was behind the stolen weapons stash and the kidnapping of Payton’s brother Aiden a few months ago since Nate had identified the spy as an IN Intelligence Agent, but even after Aiden’s return they weren’t certain if Englor was involved or, if so, to what extent. Englor could be a great ally in a confrontation with the IN, but first they had to be certain Englor wasn’t in bed with the enemy. “What other sources do you want me to try? Should I get into IN Intelligence and Colonel Hollister’s computer for a peek around?”

Payton was nearly positive the encoded message Nate’s son, Trouble, had intercepted a few months back had been a stolen message intended for Colonel Hollister from his spy Benson. Benson had been Aiden’s valet for several months but no one had realized he was a spy until after he was killed trying to protect Aiden.

After some digging around Payton had ascertained that the code was Englorian, but since he didn’t know Englorian encryption, that still left him with a lot of work to do. Hopefully, his recent adventure, breaking into the Englor message system, would aid him in figuring out the code. “We still need to learn what Benson was doing on Regelence,” Payton reminded Nate.

“I’m going to ask around…discreetly. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll ask a little more forcefully.”

Yes. “Like an interrogation? Torture?” Payton leaned forward. The danger of getting caught was exciting. It would be like shutting down Jeffers, their butler at Townsend castle, only more intense, more like setting up the program to hack Englor’s mainframes.

Nate laughed and shook his head. “No. Well yes, but you aren’t going to be with me if it comes to that.”

Dust. Payton sat back in his seat, his shoulders slumping. Wait. He leaned forward again. “You can’t do it by yourself, you’ll need back up.” Nate shook his head again, but Payton didn’t wait to be turned down. “I’m an excellent shot with a fragger and competent with a sword. I’m also trained in hand-to-hand combat, although admittedly I haven’t a lot of practice with it.”

“No. You’re here to help me decipher that coded message. There’s no way I’m going to put you in the line of fire. Any information I need you to decipher, I’ll bring to you.”

Oh bloody hell. Payton slumped back into the chaise. “What good is all my schooling if I’m never going to use it?”

“Are you not using your computer skills?”

“I wasn’t taught the particular computer skills I’m using, I learned them myself. I was referring to the different survival techniques all young lords are forced to learn. Like fencing and martial arts.” Here he was away from home and he was still going to be coddled like a child. At least Nate did want him using his more controversial technological knowledge. That was something.

“What exactly does your education consist of? Aiden thinks the majority of it is useless, that it’s all about obtaining a consort and running a household.”

“Some of it was. I suppose for Aiden a lot of it was a waste of time. After taking his first art class, all he ever wanted to do was draw. He only did enough of the other stuff to keep from getting in trouble so he could get back to his art. But for the rest of us…” Payton used a little of all of it.
“We’re taught math and English of course, French, Latin and Italian. The basic computer skills, economics and diplomacy are touched on as well as history and science. I don’t see myself ever using music or art and I wish I didn’t have to use dancing, but all of those were included as well as basic self-defense. We probably learned more self-defense than most lords do. Cony thought it was very important. He still makes us spar with him on occasion just to make certain we remember.”

Nate seemed to consider it for a moment. “Very well, should the need arise I’ll include you on the breaking and entering.”Payton smiled. This trip was promising to be quite an adventure. “Perhaps this is a good time to tell you I’ve hacked into the Englor message center.”