Author Sarah Ballance – Timeless Desire Blog Tour

Sarah, oh Sarah, where art thou lovely image, Sarah? I could not, I repeat, could NOT find a picture of Ms. Ballance ANYWHERE and I was looking hard, too. I mean, I probably would’ve found Waldo a few times over in the amount of time it took me to try and find just one of Ms. Ballance. I said to myself: Ren, why not put up a portrait of classic beauty? 

The name Sarah makes me think of old-school femininity and this one of  Dame Elizabeth is one of my favourites. So Sarah, you elusive creature, please enjoy my improvisation.

Ms. Ballance is my guest today as part of the Timeless Desire Blog Tour. Her new novella, Familiar Light, is the featured book of the day.

The Interview:

Can you tell us a little something about yourself. I’m a perpetually frazzled homeschooling mom of six (13, 11, 8, 5, 4, and 1) – five on purpose, and the last my husband’s fault (I had my tubes tied after #5, so clearly HIS input is what caused baby #6, LOL). He and I have been married for over 14 years and every day is truly better than the last. He’s amazing – he works all day, then takes over the kids in the evenings so I can write. He also makes for an awesome research partner when it comes to the good parts. *grin*

Six kids? I don’t know how you do it. I nearly went insane with the one I have. How do you manage to write? I mean, where do you go to write? What’s the set-up?  After dinner I escape the bedroom and do most of my writing sprawled on the bed. I pretty much have to have background noise to drown out whatever the kids are up to elsewhere in the house. I love music but I tend to sing along, so my go-to noise is usually reruns on TV Land. I pay the kids 25 cents a cup for coffee, cappuccino, or hot chocolate … but only if they don’t bother me too often. The system works!

Nice 🙂 Who are some of your favourite authors? Have they inspired you to write? My greatest source of writing inspiration is the Harlequin Intrigue line. It hooked me on romantic suspense, and when I need to re-center I just grab one from the HUGE pile by the bed and dive in. There’s a feeling of *yes, THIS* every time I get between the pages of one.

Really? I like the Historical or the Nocturne lines. My TBR pile is ridiculous. What is it about this genre that you like? My favorite genre is romantic suspense. One theory is I like to take out my daily frustrations (at home with six kids, remember) by putting my characters in peril (*evil cackle here*). Some days there might be some truth in that, LOL, but honestly, the added tension danger adds to the story just adds to the romantic or sexual tension. When emotions are high, anything can happen. I love the intensity there.

That makes total sense, lol. How long does it take you to write out the story from start to finish? For a long while, I only managed about 10k words a month. Then I had a tight deadline for a charity story, and I kicked it up a notch. Now that I know I *can* write faster, I find I’m doing it under less duress, LOL.

How did you come up with the idea for Familiar Light? It started with the theme of the blog tour, which is “Timeless Desire.” I paired that with my love of the beach and anything suspense, then talked it out with my husband. (He doesn’t read romance at all, but he’s my go-to guy for hashing plots. He’s insanely good at it.) We came up with the suspense aspect of the plot, which I tweaked as I wrote. As for the title, I ended up with a random song in my head and got the words wrong – instead of “different light” I said “familiar light” and thought, wow. Old lovers reunited, and a lighthouse central to the plot. How much better does it get?

I love how authors can basically connect the dots with the inspiration, character build-up, the plot, the fine details and all of the other things that make it work. Can you describe your book for potential readers? Laney and Bridger have a heated past that went cold in a hurry when she left town and didn’t come back as she promised she would. Years later, she has high hopes for reconciliation but he’s got better things to do … until events take a deadly turn and their one night together comes perilously close to being their last.

What is your favourite scene in the story? The opening scene. The tension between the two of them is pretty thick, and I love his … dare I call it sarcasm? After seven years, he’s still hurt by her disappearance and none too happy about it. He’s rather blunt with her about how he feels as a way of protecting himself against those emotions, but just as honest with himself about how it’s not working. I just love how he tries to mask those feelings.

What are some of the more important traits that you wanted your characters to have and why? I always shoot for real emotions. Will everyone react the way my characters did to a particular situation? Of course not. But my goal as an author is to justify and make believable their actions. In that sense, I hope readers can relate to my characters and their stories even if readers themselves have never been the target of a killer or found themselves stuck in an awkward situation with an ex who made him/herself that way for a reason. (Any votes on which of the two situations might be worse? LOL.)

I’ll go with the second one 🙂 Did you have any difficulty with a particular scene/character? How did you resolve it? Sex. The sex scenes hate me, and they always have. I couldn’t ask for better source of inspiration than my husband, but when it comes time to put those feelings on paper, darn if I can do them justice. I’ll have to get back with you on that “resolving” part … in the meantime, I’ll just keep picking loose plaster out of my hair and try not to bang my head on the wall quite so hard the next time.

Its weird that you can feel “feelings” but to try and write them down can be so hard. Oh, you can get back to me on that “resolving part” 🙂 How many books are in the series?  Familiar Light has a sequel. The plot in FL is resolved for Bridger and Laney, but what comes next will forever alter local detective Holden Whitlow. Tide of Lies picks up with his story and a devastating development that changes everything … then threatens to take it all away.

While writing Familiar Light, who were you picturing as the main/secondary characters? I found a sensual, smokin’ hot black and white picture (thank you, Google) of a couple in the middle of a scorching moment. I don’t know who they were – couldn’t even see them very well in terms of features – but the mood of that picture is what I used as inspiration for my characters.

Google is one of the best creations out there. You can find ANYTHING, and I mean, ANYTHING on it 🙂 What advice would you give for aspiring writers?  LOL! It’s not original advice, but it’s crucial: find a crit partner who will tell it like it is. Simply put, you can find out your weaknesses in private, or you can unleash them on paying readers and wait for them to tell you, publicly and en masse. My vote is for private lashings, thank you very much.

I’ll second that vote. I know I get lots of those from my writer’s group, lol. What can we expect from Sarah Ballance in the future? I’m Packing Heat! Er, that is, I’m working on the next title in my romantic suspense series with Noble Romance. The Packing Heat series kicked off with UNFORGIVEN in September, and the next one, LAST CALL, is in the works. Although readers will recognize characters from one title to another, each story stands alone so they may be enjoyed in any order. *Ahem.*

Readers, did any of you pick up on that very subtle hint? *wink, wink* 🙂 I like to ask this question: If you could pick an era in history to travel back to, where would you go and why? Oh, this is hard! I’m fascinated by colonial American history and the wild west. I’d love to go back to an old ghost town – Harper’s Ferry WV, Virginia City NV, Deadwood SD – and see it in its heyday. Only problem is if I had to give birth back then (even ONE time) I’d freaking DIE. I am SUCH a wimp … I rather like modern medicine, thank you very much. (I’ve had babies without the benefit of pain meds, and let’s just say if I have to feel like I’m dying, I like to do so in a gleaming medical facility.)

I can’t even begin to fathom going to the dentist back then let along giving birth. I totally agree with you there 🙂 On that delightful note, LOL, may I say I am just honored to be here and promise not to skip out on the cleaning bills. (That, and whatever broke, I didn’t do it.) Readers, here’s a tip for you: if you subscribe to my blog *by email* you will be automatically entered for a weekly drawing to score your choice of a $10 gift card to Noble or a $5 gift certificate to Head on over to for details. I’m thrilled to see you here, and I’d love to see you there!

Sarah, thank you so very much for coming by 🙂

Here is a sneak peek from Familiar Light by Sarah Ballance:

 Click on the cover or link to buy


Seven years of longing comes down to just one night.

Laney Kent returns to Barrier Shoals hoping to reunite with her first love, Bridger. She anticipates his reception might be chilly, but what she doesn’t expect is to become the victim of a deadly obsession … or that this night with Bridger could be her last.

Bridger Jansen tangled a lot of sheets trying to forget about Laney, but his heart knew what the rest of him refused to admit: he could love no one else. He’s determined not to forgive her for leaving him without explanation, but when he fails to protect her from a viscous attack, the person he can’t forgive just might be himself.


“Can I help you?” The gruff question trickled through the cavernous space like water leaking through pipes. He seemed to materialize from the shadows as he strode toward her, the rise of heat from the concrete floor keeping him just out of focus.

But her heart knew.

She swallowed a hard knob of regret. “Bridger?”

He couldn’t have heard her—not with the way she clung to his name, as if saying it out loud would be to lose another piece of him. But his step faltered, and the recognition in that interrupted cadence brought the burn of tears to her eyes.

No regrets.

She stood, trembling, as the fifty feet between them dwindled to ten. When he was close enough for her to make out the stubble lining his jaw, his legs stopped moving, but his gaze tore over her. The impassioned glare was without direction, a harsh reflection of the hard lines edging his face. The warm brown eyes she remembered were now a bitter shade of espresso.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

The words, tense with fury, sent her backpedaling against the concrete wall. Too late, she realized she no longer knew this man. They were kids when they’d parted ways, too naïve to realize they’d never keep those breathless promises. At least she’d been that way. His tone suggested otherwise.

They were alone in the deeply shadowed belly of Barrier Shoals Light. And for the first time within those walls, Laney tasted fear.

“Was I supposed to wait for you?” he asked.

Seven years had passed since her weak-kneed promise to return to him. She didn’t have an answer for that.

He took another step, boxing her against the curvature of the rock. He stood close—so close, she had to tip her head to meet his eyes.

And she summoned courage to do it.

“Was I?” he asked, his voice softer now. He leaned closer. The stifling heat morphed into sexual innuendo, his skin slick with sweat, daring her to touch.

She was one careless thought away from taking him up on that unspoken suggestion. Her fingers itched to claw through his hair, to draw him closer until the distance between them evaporated. Memories of frantically grasping for purchase against the stone wall besieged her, curling fear into boundless adrenaline. “Did you?”

Her words coaxed a slow grin from his sensual mouth. “Was I supposed to?”

Wait for me, Bridger I’ll be back.

The thought came from nowhere, peeling away seven years to their last night together. He’d held her, caressed the hair from her face, and kissed every salty inch of her skin. Stay. A single word. A plea from a man who asked for nothing—and yet owned it all. Every piece of her was his.

She’d just taken too long to realize it. And those eyes . . . . They bore into her, dark with the kind of passion that made anger futile and sex magnificent.

She remembered the latter well.

“Can we talk?” she asked. Lame. But in that moment, all that mattered.

He ran his index finger along her jaw—a slow, teasing exploration he abandoned in short order to toy with a strand of her hair. Dipping his head so his lips grazed her ear, he said, “To think I have anything to say is to assume I still give a damn, Laney. And I think I left that behind a long time ago.”

His words were so much at odds with his actions she failed to reconcile the two. Lack of awareness might also be blamed on the hand curling at her nape, the gentle touch drawing her against his chest. Or the heat of his mouth lingering on her flesh, following the coy path his finger trailed across her jaw. Every nuance of touch electrified her, each moment captured in a single thud of her heartbeat.

He stood so close she saw only snapshots of memories, each one triggering another landslide of emotion. His mouth closing over her skin. His fingers laced through hers. That wicked grin he wore as he held her captive with his touch, her wrists pressed overhead against the sand. The dark shadow of his profile blotting out the dance of moonlight on water, their heavy breaths intoxicated with salt air and lust . . . and a promise she failed to keep.

“If I were less of a man,” he said, “I’d tell you what you wanted to hear. We’d have a good time, and then I’d walk. Let you spend the next few years wondering what the hell you did to lose me.”


“But no one deserves that. Not even you.” His tight smile brought hard lines to his jaw, but no trace of forgiveness. Holding fast to her gaze, he stepped away, taking twenty degrees of Fahrenheit with him.

Laney shivered. He may have put distance between them, but the narrow darkness in his eyes clutched her throat. She’d mistaken the flat, slated glare for fury, but it wasn’t anger . . . it was hurt. She’d hurt him by not coming back. And that was far worse than his wrath.

“You should go.”

She opened her mouth and closed it. Every reason she counted for coming back begged her to stay and stand up for what they once had, but there was one thing missing from her fight: a leg upon which to stand.

So, with nothing left to say, she went.

About the Author:

Sarah and her husband of over fourteen years live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep.  She often jokes that she writes to be around people who will listen to her, but her characters aren’t much better than her kids.  Fortunately, her husband is quite supportive, having generously offered to help her research “the good parts.”  She’s never had to ask twice.

Please visit Sarah at one of the places listed below:







*****Continue the tour by clicking here*****

Author KevaD – Timeless Desire Blog Tour

When I first joined my writer’s group, ERA, I clearly remembered one of the gentlemen in there introduced himself as “The Resident Grouch”.  As a noob, I was in total fear of him.

As time went on, however, I got to know “Sir Grouch” and have come to admire him immensely. He is a fount of knowledge, has a wicked and twisted sense of humour and is always ready with a word of encouragement.

KevaD is my honoured guest today for the Timeless Desire Blog Tour. His two (that’s right, folks, two) new releases: A Dance with Bogie & Bacall  and Desire Damned are my featured books of the day.

The Interview:

Hi KevaD 🙂 Hello, Ren, and thank you so much for allowing me to share some time with you and your readers. As a bonus, I’ll be giving away a $10.00 Noble Romance Publishing gift certificate to a randomly selected commenter.

For those not familiar with me, I’m KevaD, writer of any kind of story that crosses my mind and path. My alter ego David “DA” Kentner is our façade of sanity. Don’t be fooled by him, he doesn’t really exist.

See what I mean, folks 🙂 Okay, I really need to get some new questions going but lets get started. Tell us a little something about yourself. I have an innie bellybutton and a callus on my left heel.

Um…okay…Where is your favourite place to write? Background music/noise/or silence? What about something to drink while you’re writing?  Bank vault, silence, and “Sure. Whatever you’re serving is fine.”

What are some of your favourite authors? Did they inspire you to write?  “What” are some? Hmm. Interesting question. Richelle Mead in chocolate sauce with a side plate of strawberries comes to mind. I think I might find such a dish quite inspiring.  (I KNEW he would point out that I said  “What” instead of “Whom” lol)

What is it about this genre that you like ? *Covers face with hands* She’s a redhead. Normally I prefer shoulder-length blonde or pixie brunette, but variety strengthens and tunes the taste buds. Or maybe it’s just close to dinnertime. Hard to say.

Um…moving right along *clears throat* How long does it take you to write out the story from start to finish?  Generally about as long as the story requires.

How did you come up with the titles for your books?  I hacked into James Patterson’s ghostwriters’ computers and stole the titles to his next two novels, just to piss him off.

Author, journalist and now hacker. Awesome 🙂 Can you describe your book to potential readers?  Yes, I can. Thanks for asking.

What is your favourite scene in the story?  The one just before the moment that other thing happens.

I swear I’m going to need a drink after this 🙂 What are some of the more important traits that you wanted your characters to have and why?  Two arms, legs, and feet, a head – just one – and functional reproduction organs for the sex scenes.

(I think he’s trying to tell me that I need better questions) Did you have any difficulty with a particular scene/character? How did you resolve it? *Holds breath for this one*  The warrior Taka in “Desire Damned” was a bit difficult to work with due to his superior attitude. You let a guy become the greatest warrior the world has ever seen, and he gets all egotistical, thinks he’s in charge. The significance of his viewpoint gained instant clarity when he pressed his knife blade against my testicles.

David! I mean..uh..KevaD! Oh my goodness lol!! While writing the title of the book who were you picturing as the main/secondary characters?  For the MF romance “A Dance with Bogie and Bacall,” me and Sarah Palin. For the MM erotic “Desire Damned,” Hugh Jackman and Brad Pitt. How’s that for a visual?

Sarah Palin? Are you serious? *reaches for bottle of vodka*  How about this one: What advice would you give for aspiring writers and BE NICE. Darn. I better get serious here.

Please, I beg of you 🙂 First and foremost, write the story. Nothing else can or will happen until you write the story.

Next, and this is important. After you have your story critiqued by people you don’t know, revised and reworked it, and submitted your story to a publisher, that story, your pride and joy, you have published today is not your best work. Hate to be the bearer of bad tiding, but it’s the truth.

Everything is a learning experience and journey. Teachers teach, but aren’t as good their first five years as their next five years. Same with welders, hairdressers, and mechanics. Same with writers. We all learn through the success and failure of experience. The key is getting that experience, and accepting there is and will always be room to grow, another horizon to explore.

Last. If you get to the point you are so successful you don’t believe you have anything else to learn, that you have vanquished all the literary frontiers… Quit. I say quit because you will just be writing the same story over and over. And we as readers deserve better.

Amen to that. What can we expect from KevaD in the future?  Fewer baths.

*Shakes head* Okay, last question: If you could pick an era in history to travel back to, where would you go and why? 1348 Europe. The Black Plague. All those dead bodies? Yum.

Why am I not surprised 🙂  On second thought, I’ll close with some real insight to my character. 1500 AD North America. To traverse this land’s raw, regal splendor would be my ultimate fantasy. I’ve always possessed a sense of wanderlust, and there’s nowhere I would have rather wandered than this country before we began to cast nature’s purity and magnificence into extinction. Can I mention my books now?

Sheesh, you are so impatient *steps back*  Here you go, the floor is all yours, and again, thank you so much for stopping by 🙂

Please enjoy the sneak peeks into Desire Damned and A Dance with Bogie and Bacall

Desire Damned

click on the cover or link to buy


Satan wants the warrior Taka to bow before him. But Taka bows to no one except his gentle lover Har.

For thousands of years the two men have been doomed to a life of torment. While one walks the earth, the other suffers under the devil’s lash. Their only respite is an occasional night; a random, beautiful, love-filled night, knowing that with the dawn one of them must die in battle and return to Satan’s wrath.

On the war-torn fields of Gettysburg, the two lovers are reunited once again. But this time something beyond Hell’s reach has happened. Something so wondrous, Satan may finally get his wish.

Chapter One:

Glory could not be found in death. Taka chuckled sadly. For him, not even death could be found in death. How long had it been this time? He pulled the blanket tight around his neck and kept his eyes closed. The blanket stank of sour sweat and damp wool.

What new ways have they found to kill each other by now?

He’d learned with each new age he found himself in, war was nothing more than the testing ground for technology, an incubator for new-fangled ideas. Men died, war ended, only the inventions remained to tell the tale. People soon forgot the lives destroyed, but enjoyed the innovative toys and the comforts spilled blood produced.

Taka rubbed his head over the soft grass. So many wars, so many battles. So many times he’d died, only to awaken in the midst of another opportunity to be killed.

There was one good thing about war though, for a day or two, Taka wouldn’t suffer under the devil’s lash. Insects wouldn’t crawl in and out of festering wounds, gnaw at his eyes and lips. And if he was lucky—very lucky—he might even live until the next war. He sighed heavily. To live meant Har had to die and suffer the unrelenting torment, the inextinguishable pain. And he would never allow Har to suffer, not as long as he held the strength to die and keep Har alive.

Har. How he missed him. Hopefully, they would find each other. His heart thumped at the thought. Har in his arms, their lips meeting, their bodies entwined. How joyous the time shared would be . . . before one of them died and submitted to the hellish torture inflicted on their immortal bodies.

An odor of beef and boiling potatoes drifted past. His empty belly rumbled in want. Clothing rustled. Men groaned and moved. Metal buckles clicked. Rifle hammers snapped back, clapped shut. Low conversations started, faded. The voices were tired and broken, not hopeful and filled with excitement.

Wherever he was, whatever war this might be, hadn’t just begun.

In the distance, cannon fire shattered the stillness.

“Fall in! Form a line, recruits.”

Taka puffed his cheeks and blew out a breath. That would be him, a recruit—one of the new men, not known to the rest. He tossed off the blanket and sat. Slowly, he opened his eyes. Leafy boughs of trees sheltered him from the sun. A tree grove. Shade surrounded him. Elms and walnuts mixed their odors to provide a façade of serenity.

“I said, fall in, goddamn it!”

English. He’d heard English before, but never spoken the language. Each new war brought another tongue to add to his growing list. Satan seemed to have a fascination with tongues and dialects and always made sure Har and Taka mingled well. Ojibwa had been his last voice, the one prior. He’d fought nearly naked alongside Frenchmen in grand, colorful clothes. Running through the forests, his skin free to breathe, had reminded him of his earliest days when few men walked the earth. Before he’d disobeyed Satan and incurred the devil’s unrelenting anger. He shook off the memory. Today, he lived once more. No need to waste a moment on the past or the future.

Taka stood and combed his fingers through his thick hair. Then he ran his hands over his clothing. The shirt was a pullover of discolored white cotton, the material soft on his skin. Dark gray trousers of wool scratched his legs. Braided suspenders held the pants on his hips. He wiggled his toes inside brown leather boots. Cotton covered his feet. At least he had on socks. The boots were a bit tight, a tad too small, but not all that uncomfortable. When the opportunity presented itself, he’d take a bigger pair from a corpse.

Taka grabbed his blanket from the ground. A folded paper fell out. He retrieved and opened the parchment. Enlistment papers. His name was Sanford Rawlings, and he’d been drafted into the Army of Virginia, whatever that was. Not that it really mattered. Finding Har was his only goal, and his love wouldn’t be in this army—he’d be a member of the opposing force.

He stuck the paper inside his shirt and took his time rolling the blanket.

Heavy steps tromped toward him.

“Did you hear me, boy? I ordered you to fall in!” The voice was thick with a drawl and full of raw domination. A sergeant of some sort, no doubt. Officers didn’t waste their valuable time with individual soldiers.

Taka/Sanford Rawlings placed the blanket next to an elm’s trunk and turned to face the man huffing anger on his neck.

The bearded man planted the edge of the black brim of his drooped front forage cap against Taka’s forehead. Brown eyes flamed. “You don’t want to cross me, boy. I’ll be the weevil in your cotton, you want to mess with me.”

This man, this overconfident rabble, defeat the warrior Taka? Hardly. He tried to stop the chuckle, but the minute laugh slipped between his lips.

“You think I’m funny?” The voice climbed two octaves. Sallow cheeks burned red. Bushy brown brows lowered. Spittle splashed on Taka’s lips.

Better to leave this annoyance alone and get started finding Har. “No, I don’t. Sorry. Didn’t mean nothing by it.”

“Sergeant,” the man growled. “Didn’t mean nothing by it, Sergeant.”

“Sergeant. Sorry, Sergeant.”

The sergeant’s eyes shifted their gaze back and forth. “Best be. Now fall in.”

Taka slipped around the man clad in gray from throat to pants bottom. Large stripes blazed yellow on the man’s woolen waist-length coat. Sweat dripped down his dirty neck. A wide, black belt cinched around the jacket. A leather holster with button flap dangled from the right side of the belt; a sheathed bayonet on the other.

The uniform was soiled, but not with fresh dirt. The sergeant hadn’t seen combat in at least a few days. Cannon continued firing from a distance too far for Taka to accurately judge. Could he be among reserves maybe? Troops not involved in the actual fighting, but at the ready for a moment’s call should the battle sway in the wrong direction for either side. Which, since Taka was here, probably stood a very good chance of happening. Add that to the bayonet—an infantry weapon—on the sergeant’s belt, and a charge into the enemy’s ranks had to be on somebody’s agenda.

Taka walked out of the grove into a lush pasture of grass dotted with the white petals and thick scent of sweet clover. A black and yellow bee nonchalantly buzzed past. Heat pressed his face. The sun beat down from behind. Summer. Had to be. The fiery orb sank almost imperceptibly. Afternoon. Four o’clock or thereabouts. The sun sat in the west. That meant the cannon fire, and possibly the bulk of the fighting, was north of his position.

Har would instinctively know he had arrived and make his way to the farthest end of the battle sometime after dark. Undoubtedly to Taka’s right—south. Lifetimes ago, they had agreed to always seek out a small river or stream to meet. Trees and thick foliage would hide their all too brief time together.

“Move your ass.” The sergeant brushed past Taka.

At the bottom of the slope lay rows of small canvas tents extending east, interspersed by an occasional, larger tent with the sides drawn up and tied. Uniformed men milled about the larger tents. Command tents. Men shuffled about a quadrangle of stone-ringed fires. Two cows hung on spits over a pair of the fires. Kettles boiled over the others. Supper.

Small groups of soldiers led by sergeants in waistcoats practiced marching with rifles held waist high. More evidence of an upcoming assault. But the marching aspect dictated there would be a lot of ground to cover before the actual call for the charge.

The cannons boomed.

“Ohh,” Taka moaned. Cannon and men marching on open ground. An inevitable bloodbath. Whatever time had passed, man had learned little in the spans.

A Dance with Bogie and Bacall

click on cover or link to buy


Radio DJ Scott Kincaid’s first caller of the night is a lady who died forty-nine years ago. The second wants to knock his head off. And he thought falling in love would be easy.

Maureen and Frank Johnson shared the kind of romance most people believe only exists in movies. Until a ballroom fire took Maureen’s life.

Franci Johnson grew up hearing her grandparents’ love story a thousand times and wishes to find the kind of undying love Frank and Maureen had once upon a time.

DJ Scott Kincaid just wants the ghost following him to go away. But Maureen thinks the hunky DJ might be just the answer to her granddaughter’s dreams.

Chapter One:

Frank propped his elbow on the iron railing at the edge of the dance floor and absently watched yet another Humphrey Bogart lookalike attired as film noire detective Sam Spade arrogantly strut across the ballroom, through the forest of faux palm trees and potted plants with crepe paper leaves.

Ribbons of gray tobacco smoke broke and swirled in his wake. The hard, leather heels of his polished shoes clicked a beat on the floorboards. At a rickety, corner table barely illuminated under the flickering flame of a sconce gas lamp, a Rick Blaine copy in the character’s patented white tux and black tie rose from a wooden folding chair and grasped Sam’s extended hand. An obvious Vivian Sternwood Rutledge in full aqua gown uncharacteristically scurried across the floor until she stood at Sam’s side where she ran her hand over the back of his black suit coat. A glint of a too long pocket watch gold chain flashed in the dim, orange light. A subtle nod to Rick’s left, and Sam turned his shoulders to take the hand of a seated Nora Temple resplendently sensuous in a black dress with plunging neckline that tickled the top of the fleshy V of her very noticeable, ample cleavage.

“You’re staring,” whispered Frank’s own duplicated Nora into his right ear. “Not that she doesn’t
have a lot to stare at.”

“She forgot the necklace. When Lauren Bacall played Nora, she wore a necklace with that dress in Key Largo. A silver one that clung to the base of her throat and accentuated the graceful turns of her head. Lauren Bacall isn’t only the most beautiful actress to ever grace the silver screen, she makes the clothing and accoutrements she wears stunning”—he shifted his gaze and lost himself in his wife’s glistening green eyes—”just like you do.”

A quickly raised hand pinched his jaw at the chin. “Franklin Johnson, you are such a liar.” Maureen’s glossy red lips curled at the corners. “But a sweet one.” She pushed his face left. “She’s wearing the necklace.”

He coughed a hairball of embarrassment. Oops.

Maureen pulled his face back to hers. In heels, she stood nearly as tall as he did and leaned in as if to offer up a kiss but stopped a heated breath short. “You want to gawk at a woman’s chest, gawk at your wife’s.”

Frank glanced down. Maureen had captured the top of her black silk, body-clinging dress between thumb and forefinger allowing a full view of her diminutive, unclad breasts and perked, pink nipples.

His groin stirred immediately within his Rick Blaine white tuxedo trousers. “You hussy,” he heaved out in a thick rasp. “Where is your brassiere? Some new moral descent didn’t happen when we left the 50s behind us.” Heat scorched his ears. How had he not noticed before this? His breath caught. God, she was beautiful.

“Built-in cups just firm enough to hold me in place.” She chuckled at his discomfort and released the cloth, then slipped her arms beneath his jacket and around his torso. Inching in to him, she only stopped when the hardened beads atop her bosom pressed through his shirt and against his chest.

“Mmm,” he moaned. Her mouth found his ear. Little nips tugged at the lobe. He stroked the sides of her body under the cool silk. The temperature of her skin headed for sweltering, the silken material warmed. Sweat beaded under his arms and between his thighs. She pressed into his thickening erection, which snapped to full attention under a tidal wave of arousal.

He allowed himself the publicly displayed pleasure of sliding his hands to the top of her buttocks, tracing the indentation with his little fingers. Nuzzling her soft throat, he whispered, “I want to make love to you right now. Let’s get out of here.”

The six-piece band comprised of three strings, the leader’s clarinet, one sax, and a trombone returned from break to the small stage at the end of the long room, and oozed into a slow, soft rendition of As Time Goes By. Humphrey Bogarts and Lauren Bacalls of all sizes, shapes, and costumes materialized from the shadows of the gas lamps resurrected for this annual event celebrating Bogart’s life and death. The past’s mimes took to the dance floor under tiny squares of haunting light from the mirrored orb of the Harvest Moon Ballroom.

“No.” Maureen grabbed his hand and yanked him into the throng of couples on the dance floor. “Bogie and Bacall wouldn’t let a night like this go to waste . . . and neither will we.” Her left hand snaked its way to the small of his back, her right took his left in a pretense of submitting to his “lead.” She opted for a closed box foxtrot with her body trying to merge with his, their steps no more than foot-length shuffles.

“Besides, you haven’t given me my anniversary orchid yet. Ten years today, Franklin Johnson. And though I love you more than ever, and have borne you three children, you will give me my orchid.”

All the blood in him fell to his feet. The room swayed, but not to the music. The mirrored ball spun in a prismatic dervish. A ghostly orchid, fragile and pulsing its matte colors, swirled in and out of his vision.

“Frank? Frank! Are you all right?”

About the Author:

KevaD is David “DA” Kentner, prolific author of romance, suspense, horror, fantasy, and winner of American Mensa, Ltd’s Calliope magazine 18th annual fiction competition. His weekly column “The Readers’ Writers” in which he interviews famous and soon-to-be-famous authors appears in newspapers across the country.

When not writing, shoveling snow or mowing their 5 acres outside Freeport, IL, he’s trying to explain to his wife the TV has more than SOAP and GAME channels, and pizza really is a necessary and required food group.

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