Tag Archives: free ebooks

Free Funny Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Books This Week

I’m excited to try something new this month. Have you heard of InstaFreebie? It’s a way authors can give away one of their books for a limited time, and readers can get an almost unlimited number of free books to read!

Free book promotion December 10-16, 2016

It’s quick, easy, and fun! I’ve gotten several free books myself this way, but this is the first time I’ve participated as an author. All you have to do is click this link or the picture above and you’ll go to a page with all the books. Click on any (or all!) of the books that look good to you, choose which file type you want, and enter your email. The books will be emailed to you a few minutes later.

Check out the books, download all you want, and share the link with your friends! (Click the share links on the left.)

And enjoy all the fun reading! 😀

13 Days of Free Books

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzThis is the last time for a while that I will have an opportunity to give away all of my books for free on Amazon. (Insert uninteresting story about Amazon rules here…)

So starting today, Tuesday, June 28, 2016, Little Miss Lovesick is free for five days as an Amazon Kindle ebook. That’s today through Saturday, July 2. Hurray!

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding book cover by Kitty BucholtzThen on Saturday, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding will become free for five days – Saturday, July 2 through Wednesday, July 6. Awesome!

Unexpected Superhero cover by Kitty BucholtzAnd then Unexpected Superhero will be free from Wednesday, July 6 through Sunday, July 10. Yay!

Of course, the short story prequel to the superhero series, “Superhero in Disguise,” is permanently free on Amazon and most other online retailers (like iBooks, Kobo, BN, etc.).

Superhero in Disguise by Kitty Bucholtz, in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke seriesI’ll send you a quick email on Saturday and next Wednesday reminding you that it’s the last day to get one book and the first day to get another.

Plus, I’ll send you one more quick email when “Welcome to Loon Lake” is published. I’ve had a couple little problems, but I expect it will still come out this week. I’m so excited!

Romance and Superheroes – Free or 99c Today

I’m doing a big promotion for all of my books right now. You may have seen my blog post a couple days ago where I mentioned it. I just wanted to remind you because Tuesday is the last day for one of the books. Here’s the breakdown.

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzLittle Miss Lovesick – FREE on Amazon Kindle April 18-19, 2016
Sydney Riley hears voices in her head…

Voices that keep her sane and voices that drive her crazy. The one thing they all agree on – forget Dirk the Jerk and move on.

So Sydney lets her friends drag her into the wilds of Northern Michigan where Little Miss Lovesick, the loudest voice in Sydney’s head, runs into – literally – the perfect man. Is hot fishing guide Matt Engel the man to vanquish heartbreak?

With the vacation flirtation behind her, Sydney is ready to start again. Soon after, however, a difficult – and must keep – client demands Sydney work with his new contractor. Yes, one and the same Matt Engel, hotter than ever and right here in town.

But when Matt’s past comes between them, Sydney wonders how to prevent another broken heart. As the rest of her life spirals out of control, she learns that sometimes a plan isn’t enough without friends to share the load.

Maybe together they can even help Little Miss Lovesick find what she’s been fishing for.

Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero urban fantasy series (in order)

Superhero in Disguise by Kitty Bucholtz, in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series“Superhero in Disguise” – FREE short story on Amazon and all other outlets permanently
The romantic prologue to A Very Merry Superhero Wedding and Unexpected Superhero in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series.

Something was not quite right about Tori Lewis. She knew it, and did her best to hide quietly, not letting anyone too close. But she was getting tired of hiding. That’s what Operation Freedom was all about — discovering her true self. Tonight, Halloween night, she could pretend to be anyone she wanted.

Joe Clarke descended from a long line of superheroes. He knew exactly who he was and what part he played in the world — defending the citizens of Double Bay, Michigan. He loved his job, especially when he found himself rescuing damsels in distress.

But on Halloween, no one is who they seem. Quiet girls can pretend to be bold, confident, adventurous. And even a superhero can pretend to be just a man.

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding book cover by Kitty BucholtzA Very Merry Superhero Wedding – 99c on Amazon Kindle April 18-20, 2016
A novella in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero series

WEDDING DREAMS…

Tori Lewis can hardly wait for her Christmas Eve wedding to handsome Joe Clarke. But her friends and family don’t think it’s prudent to marry someone you just met. There’s something about him, though. She’s never felt safer in her life. The only question is — does she have to tell him all her secrets before the wedding?

Joe Clarke expected to be a happy superhero bachelor for years to come. But after meeting Tori Lewis on Halloween, he can’t get her out of his head. Marrying a woman he barely knows is hands-down the craziest thing he’s ever done. So how does he explain himself to a woman who doesn’t believe in superheroes?

…AND CHRISTMAS FIENDS

Meanwhile, the city is going through a Christmastime crime spree. In addition to the usual madness and thievery, a gang of robbers is targeting mall shoppers. Joe must juggle his wedding duties with his alter ego Superhero X’s commitment to protect the citizens of Double Bay.

Will it all come together without ruining the perfect Christmas wedding?

Unexpected Superhero cover by Kitty BucholtzUnexpected Superhero – 99c on Amazon Kindle April 18-19; $1.99 April 20-21; $2.99 April 22-24
From Wallflower…

Newlywed Tori Lewis wants nothing more than a quiet life with her hunky new husband. She doesn’t expect to walk into a robbery right after her honeymoon. But even more shocking is her discovery that she stopped the gunman with a super power! How did that happen?

Undercover superhero Joe Clarke and his team are investigating a string of missing children. When the father of a lost boy turns up dead, the team must decide if the death is related to the disappearances – or to the super villain group, The Nine.

…To Super Power!

Meanwhile, Tori decides to try out this superhero thing. She needs a mentor, so she asks Superhero X to help, the only superhero she’s ever met – and the only one she’s ever kissed. As they work together, Tori worries that the superhero is getting too familiar. How can she be attracted to one man when she’s wildly in love with another?

Will she have to choose between her husband and her destiny? No one warned her that love would be so complicated!

Get 72 Free Books Today!

Firsts Free for All promo

This is an exciting promotion and I get to be a part of it! There are 72 (!) book series in this list, and the first book in every series is FREE this weekend! When you sign up, you see all 72 free books and you can download them directly from Amazon.com. (They may or may not be available on Amazon’s sites in other countries.)

Then on Monday, you’ll get an email telling you about the other books in each series. Many of those will also be on sale Monday. Yay!

For instance, in my superhero urban fantasy series, Adventures of Lewis and Clarke, the first story in the chronology is the short story where they meet, “Superhero in Disguise.” It’s permanently free everywhere. The second book is the story of how they got married, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding. It’s normally $2.99, but Monday through Wednesday it will be just 99c.

Then Unexpected Superhero, the official book one in the series (I wrote the two prequels because readers asked for them 🙂 ), which is normally $3.99, will be on a Kindle Countdown Deal for a week. That means that Monday and Tuesday, it will be 99c, then it will be $1.99 for two days, then $2.99 through the following Monday, April 25, 2016.

So if you picked up all three books in the series on Monday or Tuesday, it would only cost you $1.98. Sweet deal, eh? 😀

And mine is just one of the 72 series where you’ll find great deals! I hope you find heaps of wonderful books to read. Remember, some of these books will only be free through Sunday so act now!

Oh! I nearly forgot to tell you – since the superhero series is on sale, I decided to put my romantic comedy, Little Miss Lovesick, on special, too. It’s FREE Monday and Tuesday, April 18 and 19, 2016. I hope you check it out!

Spring Fling Romance Readers Club Giveaway TODAY

Happy woman with tablet in the park

Guess what I’ve got for you today? Romance Readers Club is doing a Spring Fling Massive Ebook Giveaway today only!

Click the link and scroll through the list of over 100 free romance books. Download any or all of them today! 🙂 My romantic comedy, Little Miss Lovesick, is one of the free books, and free through tomorrow.

There are a variety of subgenres, heat levels, and book lengths. Most are novels, some are novellas, some may even be short stories (I don’t know for sure.) Some of them are free every day, but most of them are free today (and maybe tomorrow) only.

And if dozens of free books aren’t enough to start your spring off right (or your autumn if you’re Down Under), scroll to the bottom of the list of books to see how to have multiple chances to win a Kindle Fire HD6.

Hurry! The giveaway ends in a few hours at midnight Pacific. 🙂

FREE Book – Generational Curse by Tracy Reed

Generational Curse CoverTo celebrate the one year anniversary of my first book, GENERATIONAL CURSE, it will be available as a free download at Amazon, December 28th – January 1st.  Help me celebrate my book, while you celebrate the New Year!

Blurb:
Kyla James is a beautiful, confident woman.  She has two vices, champagne and sex with married men.  Being tied down and answering to a man has never appealed to her until, her friend Sean Prescott presents her with a proposal.  They’ve been friends and business colleagues for several years, but if she accepts his proposal, they could discover something better than friendship.

Is it possible for a celibate Christian man to be involved with a woman who has only been the plaything of married men?  Or will she make him the next notch on her belt?

Get Some Free Love

More free books available this week. Yay! Now if only I could find us both some free time to read more!

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzLittle Miss Lovesick
by Kitty Bucholtz (yup, me! Haha!)

FREE October 21-25, 2015
on Amazon

 

 

 

Crushing cover

 

Crushing

by Elena Dillon

FREE October 19-23, 2015
on Amazon

 

 

 

Girlfriends and Secrets coverThe Alex Chronicles: Girlfriends & Secrets
by Tracy Reed

FREE on  iBooks

Book Marks: Crushing by Elena Dillon

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Elena Dillon today. She writes YA (Young Adult) novels with lots of action and suspense and emotion. Read on as she tells us about her free-this-week novel, Crushing.

Crushing coverElena: How do you all feel about love triangles? I know some people love them, and some people hate them. When I sat down to write Crushing I hadn’t thought much about them either way but I also didn’t intend for Crushing to have one as a key part of the romance. Not in my plan at all. I thought I was writing a teenage mystery with a romance. Shows what I know.

The problem started when one of the characters that I intended to be kind of a jerk, Dominic, had other ideas. As it turns out, he’s had a crush on Rory, the main character for a long time. And he refused to be a jerk, he was a sweet guy. He was her friend and, by the way, he had no intention of stepping back and letting this new guy step in and take his girl. Wait, what?

Rory and the other love interest each had a different viewpoint about this situation which added to the complexity of the story. I actually had conversations with Dom, in my head, explaining what I had planned, but he was extremely uncooperative. The entire book felt like one long battle. Looking back I realize I shouldn’t have worried. It all worked out in the end.

All that being said Crushing is all about love, friendship, and choices. I had no idea writing a love triangle could be so complicated. It was a really fun book to write, but I’m not sure who was in charge, me or them.

Crushing is available for Free on Amazon October 19th – October 23rd!

Here’s an excerpt of one of the scenes:

A small clinking sound coming from the balcony distracted me. Huh.

Then another one. Clink.

I got the chills. What was that?

I stood up and slowly moved over to the French doors. On my balcony were two pennies.

Clink. Another one hit the glass right between my eyes.

My heart in my mouth, I looked out into the yard. Gage was standing there holding the puppy and getting ready to throw another penny. He jerked his head toward the beach, turned, then went through the gate on the side.

Oookay. I guess I was just supposed to follow? Why were all the males in my life so overbearing? I huffed and put my shoes on. I needed to revert back to my old ways a bit. My parents were still up, and no way would a walk on the beach go over without a fight. And walking with Gage wouldn’t be any better in their eyes.

I went out onto my balcony. The drainpipe was still there even though it didn’t look quite as sturdy as it did a few years ago. I hadn’t shinnied down a drainpipe in years, but I imagined the process hadn’t changed that much. Good thing I had on appropriate shinnying clothes.

As I climbed over the rail and reached out for the drainpipe, I felt a flurry of excitement. Trouble—an old friend I hadn’t visited in a while. I had to suppress the giggles that wanted to bubble out of my chest. I missed this. I made it to the bottom without too much damage, although I wouldn’t be wearing a skirt anytime soon, what with the scrape on my knee now.

I came through the gate, and he and the puppy were waiting at the beginning of the beach path. By the time I caught up, the puppy was running ahead toward the water and then running back to us, barking and tripping over her feet. Her paws were almost the size of my palms. I think she had grown since I saw her yesterday, and Gage must have given her a bath because her fur was fluffy and she looked even more adorable.

He didn’t say anything; we just started walking. This felt weirdly familiar. Because of his stutter, we had spent a lot of our childhood not talking. If I had something to say, I would just jabber on like a monkey in a tree, and he listened. Too nervous for speech now, though, I tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to say.

We walked and our arms brushed. The squirrels in my stomach were at it again, and now they were doing the Mexican Hat dance. Really? I needed to calm down. I annoyed myself.

Clear and beautiful, the night was made for a walk on the beach. I loved the sound of the ocean, and most nights I fell asleep with my balcony doors open. A bit of a breeze blew, but even though it was still winter, it was only a little chilly.

We found a small sand dune and sat down to watch the puppy running at the waves and barking. Gage was looking out over the water. He looked relaxed, but I could barely keep my knees from bouncing. I really had to focus to keep myself calm. I breathed deep.

“So why didn’t you tell me who you were the other day?” I blurted out.

He laughed. “Sorry, I guess I was shocked you didn’t recognize me. I’m pretty forgettable, huh?”

“Well, since you don’t look the same at all, and you are about a foot and a half taller, I think I should get a pass.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “I hear you’re either a drug dealer, a cheater, or you got the dean’s daughter pregnant. Should I be worried about being out here on the beach with you? I came prepared.” I dangled my keys with the pepper spray my dad insisted I keep at hand. I knew I was perfectly safe, but I wanted the real story.

He laughed. “Wow, is that what’s going around? I guess I’m not surprised. We Southerners do love our gossip. I didn’t actually do any of those things, but in the spirit of honesty, I did get expelled.”

I nodded. If I let my mouth run away with me now, I would never get the story out of him.

“It was for fighting.” He did have the grace to look a little embarrassed. “I would imagine you aren’t shocked about that, but it was unavoidable so—”

“So that’s why you’re back? Because you got kicked out of school?”

He opened his mouth to answer, when the puppy came skidding to a halt right in front of us and decided to shake the water and sand off her body all over us. I shrieked and tried to block it with my hands, but too late. Lovely. Good thing she was cute.

“Did you come up with something to call her?” I asked while I was attempting to brush myself off.

“Bailee.”

“Cute. What made you pick it?”

“Well, we had to bail her out, so it seemed to fit. She reminds me of you, actually.” He nudged me with his elbow.

“I remind you of a dog?” He was obviously not trying to win any points with me. First I’m fat, and now I remind him of a dog.

“Uh, no. She reminds me of you. Getting herself into messes I have to get her out of.”

“Oh really?” I smiled. “Well it’s been a long time since you have attempted to get me out of any messes.”

“Until yesterday. And tonight.”

I frowned at him. “As a matter of fact I was thinking earlier that my life has never been more dramatic than since you showed back up.”

“So it’s my fault?”

“Well, it stands to reason. My life seemed normal before, and it’s been upside down since you got back . . .”

“Ah. I see.”

That reminded me.

“Hey what did you mean when you saw me in the storm drain and said ‘of course’?” I glared at him again.

“Just that. Of course you would get stuck in a storm drain trying to save a puppy.”

“You act like you know me now. You don’t, so don’t pretend you do.” I wasn’t sure why, but I was mad. It didn’t make any sense, since I was pretty sure he hadn’t had a choice about leaving. Still, he didn’t get to pretend like he knew anything about my life now.

He didn’t say anything, just turned away. Now I felt bad.

We stared out at the ocean for a while just listening to the waves. I thought about when he left. There had been a hole in my heart where only he fit. I had shut off that part of my heart and didn’t even realize it. We weren’t the same people now, and I didn’t know if we would ever be able to get back to the closeness we had when we were kids, or if I wanted to.

The puppy had finally tired herself out. She came over to me and climbed into my lap, then she curled up and went to sleep. She was adorable.

There was something I wanted to ask him. I wasn’t sure if I should, but I really needed to know.

“What happened with that fight? I don’t understand.”

“Holden’s a tool,” he said with a grimace.

“Well, yeah, but you knew that when we were eight. Why would you hit Dominic when Holden was the idiot?”

His face got serious, and he didn’t answer right away. He looked back out to the ocean.

“Is he your boyfriend?”

“Umm, no.”

He looked back at me. “That didn’t sound too convincing.”

“Well, we’re good friends. It’s complicated.”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re either dating or you’re not. I’m hoping not, since you’re out here with me. That wouldn’t be cool.” He sounded disapproving.

I didn’t want him thinking I was like that. Eww.

“We aren’t. Our parents would love it, and I don’t think he would object, but he hasn’t asked, and I made it clear I don’t want a boyfriend. Clear enough?” Sheesh.

“You don’t want a boyfriend, or you don’t want him for a boyfriend?”

“As you well know, I have two very large overprotective brothers and a dad who still likes to think I’m six years old. Would you want to deal with that?” I realized he had turned the conversation back to me and away from him. Convenient. “You still didn’t answer me.”

He looked back out to the ocean before he answered. For some reason I knew the answer was important.

“I don’t like him. He should have made Holden let go of you himself. No guy has the right to put his hands on a girl against her will. Ever. If you aren’t doing something about it, you are enabling it, and I hate that almost as much. Even if he isn’t your boyfriend, as your friend he shouldn’t have allowed it. If you don’t believe me, ask your brothers.”

Wow. Okay. I think I hit a sore spot.

“I guess I can see your point of view. I don’t actually think Dom saw it until you guys started pushing and shoving, but okay. He probably doesn’t take Holden seriously, since we see him like that a lot.”

“He grabs you a lot?” He was starting to look angry.

“No. He’s obnoxious and drunk a lot. I appreciate that you were concerned, but it wasn’t necessary.”

He shrugged. “That’s your opinion.”

“I can take care of myself. I’m not sure why nobody gets that.” Why were guys so irritating? Ugh.

“Yeah I saw how well you were taking care of yourself.” He didn’t look convinced.

I wasn’t getting anywhere. I looked at the time on my phone. I didn’t want to go, but I also didn’t want my parents to check in and find me gone. That would not help my situation.

“I’d better get going.”

I handed him Bailee so I could get up. She was obviously exhausted from her adventure. “I’m glad your uncle let you keep her.” I rubbed her head.

“Yeah, I think he feels bad because he isn’t home much.”

“I worried he would make you take her to the pound,” I said as I brushed myself off.

“Well, I think he wishes he could change his mind now,” he said with a laugh.

“What happened?”

“She chewed a pair of his seven-hundred-dollar shoes. Not a banner moment for her.”

“Oh man. Poor Bailee.” I reached over and gave her a scratch. “It’s not fun to be labeled a troublemaker.” She looked at me sleepily and licked my hand.

I worked up the nerve to ask him something I’d been wondering about since he came back.

“So…” We started back up the beach toward home.

“Uh-oh.” He laughed.

“No more stutter?” I asked.

“Nope. Gone for good.”

“I’m going to be totally nosey here. What happened?”

“It’s fine. When we moved to Florida, my grandma and I took foreign language classes.”

“And that helped?”

“Yup. She read somewhere that it could help. I became fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.” He shrugged like it was no big deal. “Once I could speak another language without a stutter, it pretty much went away. Totally gone by the time I was fourteen.”

We had stopped in front of my gate. I reached out and gave him a hug, squishing Bailee in the process.

“Whoa. Okay.” He hugged me back.

“I’m sorry. I’m just so happy for you.” I knew it must have been more work than he let on. I was relieved he didn’t have to live with that stutter forever. I could feel tears behind my eyes trying to get out.

“It’s okay, Rory. I’m all good.” He shook his head at me.

I gave him another squeeze, then let go and stepped back.

He walked me through the gate up to my back door. I turned and we just stared at each other.

“I’d better go in.”

“Wouldn’t want the parents to know you are out with the bad boy and not the ‘Mr. Perfect’ they’ve picked for you,” he said.

I felt bad that he knew how my parents felt about him. My life was not usually this full of drama. I huffed out a breath. “Sorry.”

“Here, give me your phone. I don’t want you to have to climb down a drainpipe just to talk to me. I thought you would just come out the back door like a normal girl. I should have known you would do things the hard way.”

We exchanged phones and put our numbers in.

He handed me back my phone. His face was serious all of a sudden. “Now I won’t lose you again.” He gently brushed his fingers over my cheek and pushed a piece of hair behind my ear.

I shivered. We stood there staring into each other’s eyes. Bailee yawned a huge yawn, and the moment was lost.

“See you,” I whispered as I snuck in my back door. I turned and looked through the window. He was still watching me. When he turned and walked away, there was a tiny ache in the area of my heart. I already missed him. Not good.

* * *

Elena DillonAuthor, Elena Dillon, is the winner of a Weta Nichols Writing Award and an InD’tale RONE award. She was also a finalist in the Book Buyers Best, the Published Maggie’s and the Reader’s Favorite Awards all in the Young Adult category. She writes sweet teenage romance with sass, suspense and swoon.

Elena has never lived anywhere besides Southern California, which is probably a good thing since she hates being cold and is terrified to drive in the snow. She loves being a wife to her husband of twenty-five years and a mother to her three kids and high-maintenance bulldog, Brutus. A self-proclaimed nerd, she spends her days writing and catering to Brutus, who considers her “the help.”

“The Amulet” by Dolores Else (Free Today)

Another one of my friends has a free book today! Yay! Dolores Else has a series called Burgundy Street Women. Her first book came out in February 2013, The Women of Burgundy Street. Book two, The Amulet, was released last December. But it’s free today and tomorrow, through September 24. Hurry and download it!  🙂

If you want to start at the beginning, here are the book descriptions for both books.

The Women of Burgundy Street by Dolores ElseLa Fonda never had a family and never knew love. When she goes to Father Andre to advise where she could live, she feels love and generosity for the first time. He finds her a two-room attic flat in his Aunt Camelia’s building. How could she not love him?

Father Andre, a devoted priest, never dreamt he would fall in love with a young woman who looked up to him as a man of God. How could he not admire her innocence and unworldliness?

La Fonda and Andre become lovers. Father Andre’s pastor learns Father Andre has a mistress and transfers him to another part of the city and has him promise never to see “that woman” again. Andre cannot imagine the rest of his life without La Fonda. Will he be able to leave his beloved vocation and the respect of his parishioners for the woman he loves?

The Amulet by Dolores ElseCamelia, a midwife and dressmaker, prepares amulets for three friends and a daughter in her candle-lit dining room. Each woman has a special need. Some want children, some want love and normalcy in their lives, and Rosalia wants to consummate her marriage. She wishes to give her husband the love he deserves.

The women consider Camelia a wise woman and go to her with their problems. She puts different herbs in each little red satin pouch according to the needs of the women and tells them to believe in the power of their amulets. They do believe.

With her unique challenge, each woman goes through disappointment, and some must take a different path in their lives to attain happiness.

S’more Romance in Little Miss Lovesick – Free This Week

If you haven’t picked up Little Miss Lovesick yet, it’s free today through Saturday (August 18-22, 2015) on Amazon in all countries. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 3. I chose this portion because it’s the scene with the s’mores. 😉

My friend Rachel visited last week from Melbourne, Australia, and my friends here threw a s’mores party in her honor. Here’s a picture of her eating one of her first s’mores. You can just see her smiling around the bite. I, on the other hand, am getting melted marshmallow all over my hand. 😀

Rachel and Kitty eating smores

From Little Miss Lovesick, Chapter 3:

“Seriously, Sydney, our cute fishing guide was definitely hitting on you.”

“Which is precisely the reason I don’t like him already.” Technically, I was lying. He seemed nice enough. But I needed to put a stop to Em’s ideas.

“Yeah, right, I forget how that works. Only flirt with guys who ignore you. I always get that one wrong.”

I threw an orange peanut butter candy in her direction. “I didn’t come up here to flirt, I came up here to heal. Rebound relationships rarely last because they’re rarely healthy. I’ll get healthy, then start…you know, dating.” It felt weird to say it. When I moved to Traverse City, I assumed I’d never have to date again.

“Quoting another Internet guru? I’m telling you, flirting is a healthy way to move on. Trust me.”

Listen to her, urged Little Miss Lovesick.

I’ll admit, it did feel good to have the attention of a seemingly nice and definitely attractive man. And we were only here for the weekend. If Emily was wrong, we’d be safely home again in three days and I’d never see him again.

I sat up on my bunk and stared hard at Em. “You really think it’d be good for me?” Even though she didn’t have a boyfriend right now, she always seemed so confident when it came to relationships.

“Healthy and harmless.” She crossed a finger over her heart. “I swear.”

I ate some more of my candy, pairing up the brown ones with either an orange or a yellow and eating them two at a time. After a minute, I said, “Okay, I guess.” I looked up at Em again. “But don’t get pushy, okay?”

She grinned. “You’re going to feel so much better. Come on, let’s go outside.”

We wandered out and sat on the porch swing. It was in good shape, but it looked old. I liked that.

“This is the life, huh?” said Emily.

“Mmm,” I said as we set the swing in motion.

We both leaned back and closed our eyes. The breeze tickled the leaves and rustled them like quiet wind chimes. I smiled. I just might have to sit here the whole weekend.

Footsteps sounded down the porch. They got closer until they stopped and I heard another chair creak nearby.

“Ah, this is the life, huh, girls?” Patty’s voice floated over and we giggled without opening our eyes or changing the rhythm of the rocker.

“I just said those exact same words,” murmured Emily.

Creak, swish, creak, swish. The rocker lulled us into a lazy peacefulness. It felt soo wonderful. A few minutes later, more footsteps sounded on the grass, getting closer. I opened one eye and saw Matt coming toward us.

Patty waved. “Matt, this is wonderful. You and Ted have outdone yourselves.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” Matt said as he turned toward us and stopped. “I guess you were right about the swing.” He put one foot on the bottom step and leaned against the railing, nodding toward Em and me.

His wavy dark hair was tousled and messy. His eyes and his mouth always seemed to be smiling. I liked people who smiled a lot. Normally, I’m one of them. I thought about Em’s suggestion that I do a little flirting. How do you start again? I noticed his biceps and forearms were tanned and covered in muscle. Nice, but I couldn’t really say, hi, so how’d you get all those muscles?

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzHe is so sexy, crooned Little Miss Lovesick.

I closed my eyes again. Too relaxed to argue. Especially about that.

Patty laughed. “I didn’t unpack quickly enough.”

“Did you want to sit here?” I asked. I turned toward Patty, poised to get up.

“I can trade with you if you want,” Emily volunteered.

Matt grinned and Patty laughed. “No, no, no. You girls enjoy it. I’m fine for now.”

“Patty and my uncle argued all winter about whether he should bring up this swing. He insisted no one would sit on it, but it looks like he was wrong.”

“It used to be in my backyard. But we got a new one and I couldn’t think of a better place for that one than up here. Worst case, I’d sit in it every time I came up.”

“You all know each other then?” Emily finally opened both eyes.

“Oh, where’re my manners? Matt this is Sydney Riley and Emily Dodson.” The three of us murmured our acknowledgements. “Matt’s mother and I were best friends all through school.”

“And you still are?” I said.

“Well, she died when Matt was a boy.” Patty smiled in a motherly way at Matt and he smiled back. Smiles tinged with a bit of sadness. It made my heart ache a little. Seemed I was sensitive to anyone losing someone they loved.

“Are you going to build our little fire?” Patty asked, eyeing the bag in Matt’s arms.

“I can’t build a little fire. I can only build towering bonfires.” Matt’s eyes sparkled and Patty laughed. Her eyes widened and she said, “I know!” like there was a story there somewhere.

“What’s in the bag?” Emily asked.

“Hot dogs, condiments, s’more fixin’s, napkins—” Matt peered inside as he listed the contents.

“S’mores?” Emily interrupted. She stopped rocking and we looked at each other and smiled. “Hey, I know you probably need to get that fire started and, you know, watch it and all. We’ll set up the supplies for you, if you like.” She elbowed me.

The supplies Emily referred to were, of course, the s’mores makings. If you haven’t eaten s’mores on a summer’s evening, you haven’t lived. A big fluffy marshmallow toasted over an open fire until it was golden brown, then pressed between two graham crackers with a big square of Hershey’s chocolate. Yum. So good, you always wanted “some more.”

For s’mores, I could pretend to flirt. “We’re very good at setting up supplies,” I said in a mock serious tone. “We set up supplies all the time, don’t we, Em?”

“All the time,” she echoed, standing up. “Patty, don’t you think he needs help setting up the supplies?”

Patty waved her hand at us and laughed. “I’m sure he’d love your help. You all go start dinner”—she got up from her chair—“and I’ll reintroduce my seat to that old rocker.”

“Well, if you want to.” Matt looked at me like he wondered if I was going to play nice or not. I smiled brightly at him, hoping that was the right amount of flirtatiousness. He smiled and made a manly grunting sound, then led the way to the fire pit.

“Are you ladies enjoying the U.P. so far?” Matt asked as we walked along.

If you’re not familiar with Michigan, it’s surrounded by the Great Lakes so both land masses are called peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is where Traverse City is, where I live. The Upper Peninsula is bordered by Canada on the north, and it’s mostly just called the U.P.

“Oh, it’s wonderful,” said Emily. “The flowers and the scenery — and we saw a bear on the way here! Very cool.”

Matt smiled at her contagious enthusiasm. (Everyone does.) “What about you?” He turned to look at me. His expression was kind and gentle. For a second, I wanted to put my hand in his and walk for a very long time. Not Little Miss Lovesick. Me. I wondered what Patty had said to him. Why else would he look at me that way?

I mentally shook myself and decided to go the witty route. “Hmm, I’ve found it to be”—I looked away—“damp and sticky.” I looked back to find the tug of a grin beginning around his mouth. I felt a bit of a tug around my mouth, too. I was tired of being mad at people. In fact, the little relaxation I’d gotten on the porch swing had helped a lot. There was no reason not to be friends. Or at least friendly. We’ll see about flirtatious later.

“Damp and sticky, huh?”

I noticed below his lovely blue eyes, a day or two of whiskers covered his cheeks. I never had to push Dirk to shave every day because he’s the kind of guy who wants to look professional seven days a week. I like kissing a clean-shaven man better than one with whiskers. But there was a certain charm to Matt’s unshaven state.

“Any chance of improvement in the forecast?” he asked.

I tried to act like I was thinking. “Mm, I think tonight is expected to be a vast improvement. A fire, food, fun — and s’more food.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“Definitely, s’more food is in the forecast,” Emily chimed in. “Which will likely lead to s’more fun.”

Matt laughed. “Okay, point taken. I’ll get that fire going.”

We’d walked down a wide trail in the woods and into a small clearing. A firepit the size of a small car was in the middle. There were huge logs around it that I assumed were for sitting on because a piled of chopped firewood waited to one side. A couple picnic tables made up the balance of the man-made objects. The simple setting was perfect.

Matt dropped the bag of groceries on the nearest picnic table and walked over to the pile of wood, grabbing some smaller pieces. “Either of you know how to start a fire?”

Emily pulled the hot dog buns out of the top of the bag. She looked at me and grinned as she answered. “Sydney knows how to build a great fire.” My eyebrows rose. We had a gas fireplace at my parents’ house. You flipped a switch and had a fire. “She used to be a Girl Scout,” Em finished.

“No, I, uh, that was a long time ago.” I made a what are you doing? face at Emily. She nodded her head in Matt’s direction. Thankfully he wasn’t looking our way. Stop it! I mouthed with a glare. Building fires was one of the many things I did not learn how to do in Girl Scouts. This smelled like an Emily setup to me.

“Come help me get this thing going and you’ll have your s’mores in no time,” he said as he arranged the kindling in the bottom of the pit.

This is the point in the movie when the audience yells, “No! Don’t do it!” But like all movie heroines, I blindly moved forward, not knowing that this moment just might be the beginning of the end.

I walked over to Matt, feeling a little stupid, and stood there watching him. He took a long-nosed lighter like people use to light their fireplaces and started dry leaves and grass burning under some twigs.

“Hand me some more of that kindling,” he said. He pointed behind him to a little pile of sticks. I squatted down and handed them over, and he fed the growing fire.

What is it about a T-shirt and jeans that is such a turn-on? Twice in one day, I was admiring this man’s very fine rear end. Women complain about being ogled like a sex object, but we do a pretty good job of doing the same thing to men.

Matt backed up a couple steps as the fire burned higher. I nearly fell over in my haste to get out of his way. The contact I was trying to avoid happened anyway when he reached down and clasped my wrist, pulling me up. “Why don’t you move back a step. The fire’s going to be hot soon.”

Soon? The calluses on his hand tickled the inside of my wrist. I think the fire is too hot already. I was torn between trying a little flirting per Emily’s suggestion or backing up and getting away, far away. My not-yet-healed heart made the decision. I pulled back.

“Looks like you’ve got it going, so…I’ll just see if Emily needs any help.”

The words were barely out of my mouth before Emily called, “Oh, I’ve got it under control here. Matt, you need Syd to help you with anything else?”

Matt tossed another couple pieces of wood on the fire and backed up a little more. He looked over his shoulder at me and said, “Wanna help make some hot dog skewers?”

“Sure. What do you want me to do?” I tried to sound cheerful, easy-going, not at all intimidated by his presence or the fact that he was asking me to help with something I was clueless about. Hot dog skewers. How hard can that be? I could keep a comfortable distance between us. It’d be fine.

He pulled a pocketknife from his jeans and took a long, green stick from a pile on the ground. Unfolding the knife, he grabbed the end of the stick and, with a few clean hard swipes, had a perfect skewer for hot dog roasting and marshmallow toasting.

“Okay?” He smiled and handed me the knife and another stick.

I gulped and took the knife very carefully from him. Concentrate on the task at hand. Don’t think about his smile. I have a task. I can focus. This is good. I took a swipe at the stick. Not bad. I can do this.

I glanced up as Matt happened to look my way. He smiled. I smiled back. If a butterfly flaps its wings in your stomach, will there be a storm?

I looked back at the stick I held and took another swipe with the knife. Yes, concentration is good. The stick is looking fine. Just have a little knot here. Careful. I’ll cut it the other way.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Matt lean over, grab another log, and toss it onto the fire. The muscles in his arms were amazing.

I pressed too hard with the knife. It hit the knot and went flying along the wood toward my hand. Matt turned to me just as I nearly cut my thumb off.

“Whoa, there!” He jumped toward me and grabbed both of my hands in his, holding the knife hand away and looking closely at the thumb I nearly lost. “You okay?”

He’s quite a bit taller than me and he’d bent down to examine my hands for blood and missing digits. His face was very close to mine. I looked for the telltale ring around his irises that would prove he’s wearing blue contacts.

“Fine. I’m fine.” I felt like I was stuttering. “There was a knot.” I held up the stick, but I was still looking in his eyes. No contacts. Real blue eyes. I felt his hands holding mine. That was contact. I pulled away. After all, I didn’t know this guy. He could be a total lunatic.

He’s not a lunatic, he works here, said a Voice.

Remember The Shining, said another.

Patty knows him, so he must be safe.

But I don’t feel safe. I feel like I’m being slowly electrocuted. That Voice certainly had the right of it.

Matt let go of my hands and stood to my left, explaining to me how to safely sharpen the end of a stick with a knot in it. But there were too many other Voices and I couldn’t concentrate. I pulled the knife down the end of the stick and hit the knot again.

“Hold on, you’re going to hurt yourself.” Before I knew it, his right arm was around my back and holding my right hand. His left hand covered mine and he moved the knife smoothly over the wood.

I’d always wanted Dirk to teach me something in a romantic gesture like this. Like what you see in the movies. A man’s arms around the woman he cares for, showing her how to swing a golf club or swing a tennis racket or…

Or sharpen a hot dog stick. Oh geez, he smells good. I closed my eyes for a moment. Like sunshine and spices and…and fire. Matt shifted his weight. I could feel his entire body behind me. His breath moved my hair, which tickled my ear.

“You see?” he said. He moved the knife again, my hand still held in his.

Should I say no so he’ll stay? The Voice in my head seemed logical to me.

I know he was just helping me sharpen a stick without cutting my hand off. I know that. But it felt like being held. And I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been held. I don’t know if I moved closer or he did. But as the knife continued to move up and down the stick, I felt his body wrap around mine. I closed my eyes again, feeling content for the first time in months.

The knife stopped moving. I opened my eyes and turned my head to look at him. A bolt of electricity raced through my body. He must’ve felt it, too, because he pulled away suddenly with a surprised look in his eyes.

He cleared his throat. “And, uh, that’s how you, uh, yeah…”