In 1970, Violet Hawkins’ only wish at eighteen is to escape her life in the Dayton, Ohio, foster-care system and make her way to the west coast to enjoy a mellow life and find the love she’s been missing all her life. She makes it to San Francisco, but soon learns she needs a job if she’s to live properly. A kind, young man named Kenton Chandler offers her a sandwich and a job at his father’s inn and vineyards. With nothing to lose, Lettie takes him up on his offer and begins a whole new life in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. She immediately falls in love with the land and is fascinated with the idea of growing grapes in order to make wines. She, Kenton, and Rafe Lopez become friends as she learns about running the small inn on the property.
At the same time she marries Kenton, a stroke kills his father. And then before she can tell Kenton she’s pregnant, he dies in an automobile accident. Heartbroken and burdened with the gift of the Chandler Hill Inn and Winery, she’s left with the task of making them a success. Struggling to raise a child alone while working to grow the business, Lettie makes a shocking discovery that changes everything.
Some people’s lives unfold in the most unusual ways.
In 1970, the only things Violet Hawkins wanted for her eighteenth birthday were to escape the Dayton, Ohio, foster-care system in which she’d been raised and to make her way to San Francisco. There, she hoped to enjoy a mellow lifestyle and find the love that had always been absent in her life.
Though she made it to San Francisco easily enough, she soon discovered she couldn’t afford a clean, safe place in which to settle down. At first, it hadn’t seemed to matter. Caught up in the excitement and freedom of living in a large city where free love and openness to so many things reigned, she almost forgot about eating and sleeping. One couch, one futon was as good as any other as long as grass or other drugs were available, and others didn’t mind giving her a place to sleep. But after spending four months there, the dollars she’d carefully saved, which had seemed so many in Dayton, were nothing but a mere pittance in a city where decent living was too expensive for her. She took to wandering the streets with her backpack until she came upon a friendly group willing to give her a sleeping space inside or a bite to eat.
One June day, feeling discouraged, she’d just sunk down onto the steps outside a row house when a young man emerged.
He smiled down at her. “Tired?”
She was more than tired. She was exhausted and hungry. “Looking for work. I need to eat.”
He gave her a long, steady, blue-eyed look. “What’s your name?”
“Violet Hawkins. But call me Lettie.”
His eyebrows shot up. “With all that red hair, no flowery name for you?”
She shook her head. She’d always hated both her hair and her name. The red in her hair was a faded color, almost pink, and the name Violet indicated a delicate flower. She’d never had the luxury of being the least bit frail.
He sat down beside her and studied her. “You don’t look like the hippie type. What are you doing in a place like this?”
“On my eighteenth birthday, I left Dayton, Ohio, to come here. It sounded like a great plan—all this freedom.”
“How long have you been here?”
“Four months. I thought it would be different. I don’t know … easier, maybe.”
He got to his feet. “How about I fix you a sandwich, and then I’ll tell you about a job, if you want it. It’s at a vineyard in Oregon. I’m heading there later today.”
Her glance slid over his well-built body, rugged facial features, and clean, shoulder-length, light-brown hair. He didn’t fit into the usual crowd she’d been with, which made her cautious. “Who are you? And why would you do this for me?”
“Kenton Chandler.” His lips curved into the same warm smile he’d given her earlier. “I’m heading to Oregon, and, frankly, I could use the company. Keeps me from falling asleep.”
“Yeah? And what is this vineyard?”
He shrugged. “A couple of years ago, my dad bought a small inn with 75 acres in the Willamette Valley south of Portland. He’s planted most of the land with grapes. He doesn’t know that much about making wine and wants me to learn. That’s why I’m in San Francisco. I’ve been working at a vineyard in Napa Valley just north of here, learning the ropes.” He grinned. “Or maybe I should say, learning the vines.”
“What kind of sandwich?” she asked, warming toward him and his wacky humor. Her stomach rumbled loud enough for them both to hear it.
“How does ham and Swiss sound?” he said, giving her a knowing look.
“Okay.” Lettie didn’t want him to think she couldn’t manage on her own. That was dangerous. She’d learned it the hard way, fighting off a guy who thought he could have her just because he gave her a puff of weed. She’d been careful ever since to stay away from situations and guys like that.
“Well?” He waved her toward the door.
Lettie checked to see if others were within hearing range if she needed them. Plenty of people were hanging around nearby. Thinking it was safe, Lettie climbed the stairs behind Kenton. He didn’t know about the knife tucked into one of the pockets of her jeans.
Inside, she found the same kind of contrast between this clean house and others she’d been in. It wasn’t sparkling clean, but it was tidier than most.
He led her into the kitchen. “Sit down. It’ll only take me a minute to make your sandwich.” He handed her a glass of water. “Mustard? Mayo?”
“Both,” she replied primly, sitting down at a small pine table in the eating area of the room.
She sat quietly, becoming uncomfortable with the idea that he was waiting on her. She wasn’t used to such a gesture. She was usually the one waiting on others both in her foster home and at the church where she’d spent hours each week attending services and events with her foster family. Thinking of them now, a shiver raced across her shoulders like a frightened centipede. It had been her experience that supposedly outstanding members of a church weren’t always kind to those they’d taken into foster care primarily for the money.
“Ready!” said Kenton, jarring her out of thoughts of the past. He placed a plate with the sandwich in front of her and took a seat opposite her.
She lifted the sandwich to her face and inhaled the aroma of the ham. Keeping her eyes on Kenton, she bit into the bread, savoring the taste of fresh food.
He beamed at her with satisfaction when she quickly took another bite.
“Who lives here? Lettie asked.
“A friend of mine,” said Kenton. His gaze remained on her. “You don’t look eighteen.”
She swallowed, and her breath puffed out with dismay. “But I am.”
“And you’re not into drugs and all the free-love stuff everyone talks about?”
Lettie shook her head. “Not really. I tried weed a couple of times, but it wasn’t for me.” Her strict upbringing had had a greater influence on her than she’d thought.
“Good. Like I said, if you want to ride to Oregon with me, there’s a job waiting for you at the Chandler Hill Inn. We’re looking for help. It would be a lot better than walking the streets of Haight-Ashbury. Safer too.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “And if I don’t like it?”
He shrugged. “You can leave. One of the staff recently left for L.A. That’s why my father called me to ask if I knew anyone who could come and work there. You’re my only choice.”
Lettie’s heart pounded with hope. Acting as nonchalant as she could, she said, “Sounds like something I’d like to try.”
The ride to Oregon was mostly quiet as an easy camaraderie continued between them. Kenton answered any questions she had about him, the inn, and the way he thought about things. Lettie was surprised to learn he hadn’t joined in a lot of the anti-war protests.
“My best friend died in ’Nam. He believed in serving our country. I want to honor him,” he said to Lettie.
“A boy in my high school was drafted. His parents weren’t happy about it.”
“Well, if I’m drafted, I’m going,” Kenton said. “I don’t want to, but I will. I don’t really have a choice.”
As they talked, they agreed that John Wayne was great in the movie True Grit.
“And I love the Beatles,” said Lettie.
“Yeah, me too. Too bad they just broke up.”
“And what about the new group, The Jackson 5?” Lettie said.
“They’re great. And I like Simon and Garfunkel and their music too.”
At one point, Lettie turned to Kenton. “Sometimes you seem so serious, like an old man. How old are you, anyway?”
He gave her a sheepish look. “Twenty-two.”
They shared a laugh, and in that moment, Lettie knew she’d found a person with whom she could be herself.
Lettie woke to someone shaking her shoulder. She stared into the blue-gray eyes of a stranger and stiffened.
“Lettie, we’re here,” said a male voice.
As she came fully awake, she realized Kenton was talking to her.
“Here at Chandler Hill?” she asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
She looked out through the windshield of the Ford Pinto and gaped at the huge, white-clapboard house sitting on the top of a knoll like a queen overlooking her realm.
Lettie scrambled out of the car and stood gazing at the clean lines of the two-story building. Across the front, four windows offset by green shutters were lined up with identical windows below. Beneath a small, protective, curved roof, glass panels bracketed a wide front door, welcoming guests. To one side, a two-story wing had been added to the house.
Green, leafy bushes offset by an assortment of colorful flowers she didn’t recognize softened the front of the building. As she walked closer, she realized between the main house and the addition a small, stone patio and private garden had been installed.
“Come on in,” said Kenton. “There’s a beautiful view from the back porch.”
Feeling as if she were Alice in a different kind of Wonderland, Lettie entered the house. As she tiptoed behind Kenton, her gaze darted from the polished surfaces of furniture to gilt-edged mirrors to a massive floral bouquet sitting on a large dining-room table. It all seemed so grand.
Kenton led her to a wide porch lining the back of the house. Observing the rolling land before her and, in the distance, the hills crouching in deepening colors of green, Lettie’s breath caught. The sun was rising, spreading a gold topping on the hills like icing on cake.
Lettie smiled and answered, “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful, so peaceful.”
At the sound of footsteps behind her, she whirled around.
A tall, gray-haired man with striking features similar to Kenton’s said, “Welcome home, son.”
They shook hands, and then the older gentleman turned to her. “And who is this?”
Shy, she stared at the man who seemed so familiar to her.
Kenton nudged Lettie.
Minding her manners, Lettie held out her hand as she’d been taught. “Lettie Hawkins. I’ve come for a job.” A niggling feeling kept her eyes on him longer than necessary. When she could no longer stop herself, she blurted, “Aren’t you Rex Chandler, the movie star?”
He smiled. “Yes, I am. But I’ve changed professions.”
Lettie held back a chuckle of delight. A friend’s mother had privately adored him.
“Why don’t the two of you come into the kitchen,” said Rex. “Mrs. Morley will want to talk to Lettie, and I need to talk to you, Kenton.”
As Lettie followed the men into the kitchen, a woman hurried toward them, crying, “Kenton! Kenton! You’re home at last!”
Laughing, Kenton allowed the woman to hug him. “You’d think I’ve been gone a year, Mrs. Morley.”
“You almost were,” she said, smiling and pinching his cheek. “And look at you! More handsome than ever.”
Looking as if he couldn’t wait for her to focus her attention elsewhere, Kenton said, “Mrs. Morley, I’d like you to meet Lettie Hawkins. She’s here for a job.”
Mrs. Morley’s gaze settled on Lettie. “So, you like to work?”
“She likes to eat,” said Kenton, bringing a smile to Mrs. Morley’s full face.
“By the looks of it, Lettie, you could use more food,” said Mrs. Morley. “Let’s you and I talk about what kind of jobs you could do around here. I’m short-handed at the moment.”
Kenton and Rex left the kitchen.
Mrs. Morley waved Lettie over to a desk in a small alcove in the kitchen. After lowering her considerable bulk into a chair, Mrs. Morley faced her. Her green eyes exuded kindness as she studied Lettie. Her gray-streaked brown hair was pulled back from her face and banded together in a ponytail, giving Lettie a good look at her pleasing features.
“Have a seat, dear.”
Lettie sat in the chair indicated for her and clutched her hands. After seeing the small inn and the beautiful countryside, she desperately wanted the job.
“Where are you from, Lettie? And why in the world do you want to work here in the country? I’d think a pretty, young girl like you would want to be in a city having fun.”
Lettie paused, unsure how to answer her. She’d thought she’d like living in the city, being free to do whatever she wanted. But after four months of doing just that, the excitement had worn off. She liked to know where she was going to sleep at night and when she’d next eat.
“Maybe I’m just a country girl at heart,” she answered lamely. Her two best friends at home would scoff at her, but right now, that’s how she felt.
“Well, that’s what you’ll be if you stay on. A lot of activity is taking place around here, what with people buying up turkey farms and the like, turning them into vineyards, but it is country. I hope it always will be.” She leaned forward. “Know anything about cooking? Cleaning?”
“Yes,” said Lettie. “I used to do both in my foster home. I was the oldest of eight kids there.”
“Eight? My land, that’s a lot of kids to take in,” said Mrs. Morley.
“It’s a lot of money,” Lettie said, unable to hide her disgust. “That’s why they did it.”
“I see,” said Mrs. Morley, studying her. “So how long have you been on your own?”
“Four months,” she replied. “I was in San Francisco when I met Kenton.”
“Such a good, young man. I’ve known him for a while now,” Mrs. Morley sighed with affection. “You’re lucky he found you. Why don’t we start in housekeeping, see how it goes, and then maybe you can give me a hand in the kitchen.”
“Okay,” Lettie said, jumping to her feet. “Where should I put my things? I need to get them from the car.”
Mrs. Morley gave her an approving look. “I like your eagerness. Let me show you to your room and then I’ll give you a tour.”
The north half of the front of the house consisted of a large, paneled dining room she’d seen earlier. The long mahogany table that sat in the middle of the room held seats for twelve. A summer flower arrangement consisted of pink roses and pink hydrangeas interspersed with white daisies and sat in a cut-glass vase in the middle of the table. Along one wall, above a service counter, an open cupboard made of dark wood stored coffee mugs, extra wine goblets, and water glasses. A coffee maker and a burner holding a pot of hot water sat on the marble counter. A bowl of sugar, a pitcher of cream, and a dish of lemon slices were displayed nearby. At the other end of the counter, a large plate of homemade, chocolate-chip cookies invited guests to take one.
“How many guests do you usually have?” Lettie asked.
“We have six guest rooms, so we have as many as twelve people for the breakfast we serve. During the day, people come and go on their own, tasting wine at nearby vineyards or sightseeing. We offer a simple dinner to those not wishing to travel to restaurants at night.” A look of pride crossed Mrs. Morley’s face. “Sometimes my husband, Pat, grills out, or Rita Lopez cooks up Mexican food. Guests like these homestyle meals. In fact, we’re becoming known for them.”
Lettie’s mouth watered. It all sounded so good.
Mrs. Morley led her to a sideboard, opened its drawers, and gave her a smile. “Let’s see how well you polish silver.”
Later, after being shown how, Lettie was working on the silverware when Kenton walked into the kitchen.
“Well? Are you going to stay?” he asked.
“Yes,” Lettie said with determination. The whole time she’d been cleaning the silver she’d been able to gaze at the rolling hills outside. This, she’d decided, is where she wanted to be. It felt so right.
About the Author
Judith Keim was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Idaho with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.
Growing up, books were always present being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. Information from the books was shared in general conversation, giving all of us in the family wealth of knowledge and a lot of imagination. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the idea of writing stories early on. I particularly love to write novels about women who face unexpected challenges and meet them with strength.
A hybrid author who both has a publisher and who self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming stories of strong women who face challenges and find love and happiness along the way. Her books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many, loyal readers love.
Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy longs for a better life. She lost her parents at age seven and her aunt at nine. Her uncle also enforces unfair rules. But Alyssa discovers something she has never thought existed before… magic. A wicked sorcerer hunts her down. He kidnaps her from her ordinary New Jersey town to Yanowic, an enchanted island in Fiji.
Alyssa is trapped in the country due to a giant shield covering it. She must defeat dangerous creatures and the evil wizard in order to leave. But with sorcerers and enchanted technology getting in her way, can Alyssa succeed?
Originally published in 2013, the book has been updated to its full potential with edits, while keeping the storyline the same.
Rain banged against the window. Alyssa looked up from washing her lunch dishes and stared at it. At least she could daydream while no one else noticed. After all, how else would she spend life without family fun—or even love? Her uncle enforced strict and unfair rules. Alyssa longed for the kind of life she’d lived before her parents had died in a car crash five years ago. She’d only been seven at that time, and now she couldn’t experience things like many children her age. Unless . . . she could find her godfather’s phone number and secretly call him. She hadn’t talked to him ever since she’d also lost her aunt three years ago. But she recalled his kind attitude. Her parents had even designated him as a legal guardian. But something seemed off with the raindrops. They turned grayish blue and darkened into black, looking as if ink fell from the sky. Alyssa leaned closer, squinting to determine the shapes it formed on the window. The rain formed—letters. No. That couldn’t happen. But a message formed as the rain plopped on other parts of the window. Nature couldn’t change its laws, right? Yet, the message finished putting itself together. Alyssa gasped at what it said.
Your life will never be the same again, Alyssa McCarthy, as magic will interfere.
What? Alyssa had never believed in magic. She’d been told at a young age that it hadn’t existed. Everyone on Orion Street was ordinary—at least, Alyssa had thought that ever since she’d moved here, right after her parents’ deaths. Turning around, she saw her babysitter, Mrs. Hutchinson, examine the kitchen floor. Alyssa’s eleven-year-old cousin, Hailey, watched the progress. Hailey had mopped the floor. Would she earn a break now? Ever since her uncle, Bruce, had hired Mrs. Hutchinson, Mrs. Hutchinson had admired the way Hailey had done her chores more than Alyssa. “Hailey, you can take a break until your next chore,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, get back to work. You’ve been staring at the rain for too long.” “Okay.” Alyssa turned back—only to see the message gone and the rain back to its normal transparency. “What did I say?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson. Alyssa sighed. “Fine, I’ll finish washing the dishes.” She scrubbed her dish and glass with soap under warm running water. Her eyes focused on just those. No way would she want Mrs. Hutchinson to catch her looking out the window again. Mrs. Hutchinson was only in her sixties, but she’d sometimes seem to forget that was 2010 and not 1960 with her guidelines. Yet, it had taken Alyssa a while to realize that she wouldn’t even tolerate the mildest kind of nonsense, such as getting distracted by a windowpane when having to perform chores. Now that she finished washing her dishes, Alyssa put them to the side and grabbed some paper towels to dry them. “What do you think you’re doing?” Mrs. Hutchinson asked. Alyssa stopped. “I’m just—” “The last few times I was here, you left little bits of food on your dishes.” “But they were stuck.”
“Let me inspect them. Also, if something is rubbery, you have to wash it again.” “Why?” “Because clean dishes aren’t supposed to be rubbery. And boy, did you do such a sloppy job. Look at that stain on your sweater.” Alyssa looked down. “That looks like chocolate.” Alyssa blushed and arched her eyebrows. “Hey—it’s just water.” She covered the stain at the bottom of her sweater’s V-neck. But Mrs. Hutchinson waved her index finger. “Don’t you ‘hey’ me, Alyssa. That’s rude. In my days, kids respected their elders. We never would dare talk to them that way unless we didn’t mind them smacking our bottoms.” “Things change.” “Not when I’m here, they don’t. Now let me do my inspection.” Great—an inspection! How long would Mrs. Hutchinson take? She might spend a couple minutes or maybe twenty. Alyssa crossed her arms and tapped her foot. She wanted her break now. She wished to read, rest, do a small craft, like lanyards—anything but wait for Mrs. Hutchinson to finish her task. “Mrs. Hutchinson?” Alyssa asked. “Whatever you need to say, wait till I’m done,” she said. Alyssa sighed. She continued to watch Mrs. Hutchinson run her finger down the middle of the front of the dish. She then rubbed it back and forth. When she put it down and nodded, Alyssa figured out that the dish had nothing on it. Mrs. Hutchinson spent a few minutes of running her finger down the glass. She put it down and turned to Alyssa. “You’re good. Now what did you want to tell me?” “Um . . . if I tell you, can you not give me a hard time?” “Okay.” “There was writing on the window.” Mrs. Hutchinson pursed her lips and tilted her head. “Really?” “Yeah.” “Nonsense.” “No, really, it was there.” “There was nothing there when I came, and there’s nothing there right now. So don’t tell me stories.” “But it’s not a story.” “I don’t want to hear any more. Now it’s time for your next chore.” “Aw, but I wanted my break.” “Too bad. You have to go vacuum the living room.” Alyssa dragged her feet toward the living room and took the vacuum from the corner. She cleaned and thought about that writing as well as how Mrs. Hutchinson wouldn’t believe her. Would a nicer babysitter have believed her? Mrs. Hutchinson had watched her and Hailey for three years, and not once had she smiled or assisted with anything. After vacuuming the carpet for about five minutes, Alyssa decided that she had tidied the floor enough. So she stopped and put the vacuum away. “Hailey, you and Alyssa need to go get the mail now!” Mrs. Hutchinson called, facing the staircase. “Coming!” cried Hailey.
Another rule Uncle Bruce had placed on Alyssa and Hailey was they could only go outside together. He worried about people taking them or something, even though Alyssa would turn thirteen next month. But that rule had been placed because a few months ago, Uncle Bruce had heard about a seventeen-year-old boy who had been shot while skateboarding in his neighborhood. Violence could even happen here in Bursnell, New Jersey. Hailey and Alyssa headed to the closet and put their raincoats on until Mrs. Hutchinson said, “It stopped raining outside.” “Already?” asked Alyssa. “Yes.” Mrs. Hutchinson went to the bathroom. The girls walked outside toward the mailbox. Alyssa pulled the mail and headed back toward the door. But mud bubbled from the ground near the house. It piled up, looking like horse manure, and grew as more soil emerged. Alyssa dropped her jaw and stared at it. “Alyssa, what’s going on?” Hailey asked. “No idea,” said Alyssa. The dirt stopped piling up, but it continued to bubble, and the effects spread throughout the whole pile. The bubbles stopped popping up and down. Alyssa and Hailey gasped as they expanded. They kept their mouths open as the bubbles merged together, each one attached to another, forming a single bigger shape. Alyssa and Hailey stepped back as the now giant bubble swelled. And it . . . popped! Particles of exploding mud landed on the girls. They shrieked. The front door opened to reveal a glowering Mrs. Hutchinson. “What the heck have you two been doing?” “T-the mud . . . it e-exploded,” said Hailey. “Nonsense!” growled Mrs. Hutchinson. “Get inside!” The girls returned inside, pulling and wiping the mud out of their hair. Alyssa could spot the mud in her straight pale-blonde tresses, unlike Hailey, who likely needed more patience to search for globs in her elbow-length red locks. But Alyssa’s hair fell a few inches past her hips, so cleaning out the mud would take longer, even with the shorter layers in the front. “How could dirt explode?” Mrs. Hutchinson stomped. “I-I think it was magic!” exclaimed Alyssa. “There’s no such thing as magic!” screamed Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, you’re twelve years old. You’re too old to say things like that!” “But nothing else can make mud explode!” Alyssa said. “Mrs. Hutchinson, we swear it did!” whined Hailey. “Enough!” snapped Mrs. Hutchinson. “You and Hailey—go upstairs and take showers!” Alyssa followed Hailey up the stairs and heaved a sigh. How else would the mud have splattered all over them? Mrs. Hutchinson couldn’t have thought they’d play in the mud like small children. “Alyssa, can I shower first?” asked Hailey. “Sure,” said Alyssa. As Hailey strode into the bathroom, Alyssa walked into her room. She scratched more mud off her skinny jeans (the only jeans she’d worn ever since they’d come into style) and the back of her hand. She stood by her bed since she wanted to keep it clean. She considered the writing on the window and the exploding mud. Someone wanted magic to interfere with her life, but who, and how come?
Also, why hadn’t she ever seen wizardry before? Why would her parents and others tell her that it hadn’t existed? Did sorcery just start on earth? Had it hidden somewhere? There had to be some reason why no one had ever believed in it. Alyssa thought about the possibility that maybe magic might only interfere if she stayed here in her uncle’s house. Maybe if her godfather could arrange with his lawyer to let her move in with him, sorcery would hopefully leave her alone. However, unlike science, anything could occur with magic, which meant that it could follow her wherever she went. The sound produced by the bathroom’s running water ended, which let Alyssa know that Hailey had finished. Now she could have a turn. After about five minutes showering, Alyssa stepped out and headed back to her room. She put on leggings and a long shirt. But she gasped at something appearing out of nowhere on her bed. Now that had to have come from . . . magic. Approaching it, she saw that it was a folded piece of paper. She opened it and read it. Hello Alyssa McCarthy, You must be wondering about the writing on your window, the exploding mud, and the note that appeared here. Who was responsible for them? You’ll find out at some point. Anonymous
Anonymous? How dare someone create incidents and not say his or her name! Alyssa needed to know his or her identity in order to report him or her. She didn’t want strange, magical occurrences to keep happening. Regardless of that, now she had proof to Mrs. Hutchinson that the writing and exploding mud had occurred. Mrs. Hutchinson had seen her write before, and this looked nothing like hers. She handwrote in a half-print and half-script style. This, however, was pure print. Alyssa jogged down the stairs and carried the note. “Mrs. Hutchinson, I have something to show you.” “Not right now, Alyssa.” Mrs. Hutchinson left the kitchen. “You and Hailey have to go wash my car.” “But it’s quick.” “You can show me after you’re done with my car.” Mrs. Hutchinson turned to Hailey, who emptied the dishwasher and put dishes away. “Are you almost done?” “I think so,” said Hailey. “How many dishes do you have left?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson. “Uh . . .” Hailey looked at the top rack. “Four.” “Okay, hurry up.” Mrs. Hutchinson turned to Alyssa. “Why don’t you go put that piece of paper away?” “But this is what I need to show you.” “Do I have to repeat what I said before?” “But—” “Alyssa, do as you’re told.” Mrs. Hutchinson pointed to the staircase. Alyssa sighed. This note contained so much crucial information. Only that paper itself had evidence to show that those incidents had occurred.
After putting the note back in her room, Alyssa headed down the stairs and walked with Hailey toward the garage. The two grabbed sponges, buckets, and soap for washing cars. They filled the buckets with water and scrubbed Mrs. Hutchinson’s car. “I wish we had another babysitter,” muttered Alyssa. “What was on the piece of paper?” asked Hailey. Alyssa told her. “Who wrote it?” “There was no name on it. Just ‘anonymous.’” A girl whistling turned Alyssa’s attention away from the car. She leaned her head toward the sidewalk and saw her friend from grade school, Madison Jennings, riding her scooter. “Hi, Alyssa,” said Madison. The wind blew her long dark-brown waves across her face. She stopped at Alyssa’s driveway, and her hair went limp. Hailey and Alyssa ran up to greet her and ask how she’d been. “I just moved onto Draco Drive a few days ago,” Madison referred to a road off Orion Street. “So how do you like the middle school?” asked Alyssa. “Oh, I go to Catholic school now,” said Madison. “What about you?” “Hailey and I are homeschooled now,” said Alyssa. “I never got to tell you.” “That’s okay,” said Madison. “So you guys want to come over to my house on Saturday?” “What time?” asked Alyssa. “I’ll ask my mom and let you know,” said Madison. “Okay, bye, guys. Nice seeing you again.” She rode back in the direction she’d come from as Hailey and Alyssa waved goodbye to her. After washing the car for another ten minutes, Alyssa and Hailey cleaned up and walked back inside. A snore suggested to Alyssa that Mrs. Hutchinson slept. Huh? She never napped while babysitting. Alyssa strode toward the living room and saw Mrs. Hutchinson asleep on one of the couches. Hailey followed her. “Why is Mrs. Hutchinson sleeping?” “I don’t know,” said Alyssa. “Can you show me the note?” Alyssa nodded and led her up the stairs. She opened her door but gasped at what she saw. The note that she’d left on her bed was gone. “Where’s the note?” asked Hailey. “It was right there,” Alyssa pointed to the bed. But another piece of paper appeared onto the mattress. Alyssa picked it up and read it.
Hello again, Alyssa,
I have put your babysitter to sleep to reveal magic to you. You’ll find out why she is sleeping later. Anonymous
“Not again,” mumbled Alyssa. “Why won’t they say their name?” She showed the note to Hailey. “Let’s go call my dad before anything happens,” said Hailey.
How much worse could this get? Alyssa thought as she followed Hailey down the stairs.
About the Author
Sunayna Prasad has published a few books between her late teens and her mid-twenties. She has won a Pacific Book Review Award for her novel, Wizardry Goes Wild, which will return as a new edition, like From Frights to Flaws. Sunayna also has a blog on different creative and entertaining topics, including writing and fiction. It is called “Sunayna Prasad’s Blog”.
Aside from writing, Sunayna also likes to cook, do art, and watch videos online. She has graduated from college in May 2017 and is looking to continue more writing as well as hold a graphic design job soon. Sunayna lives on Long Island, NY.
Charley is a cleaner by day and a professional gambler by night. She might be haunted by her tragic past but she’s never thought of herself as anything or anyone special. Until, that is, things start to go terribly wrong all across the city of Manchester. Between plagues of rats, firestorms and the gleaming blue eyes of a sexy Scottish werewolf, she might just have landed herself in the middle of a magical apocalypse. She might also be the only person who has the ability to bring order to an utterly chaotic new world.
This is the first book in The City Of Magic series.
About the Author
After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan, and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time, thanking her lucky stars every day that’s she lucky enough to do so!
Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.
She currently lives in Devon in the UK with far too many cats – not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards, and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere.
A Celtic warrior princess is torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and duty to her people.
AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?
Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 2
Publisher: Apollo Raven Publisher
Release Date: September 26, 2018
A Celtic warrior princess accused of treason for aiding her enemy lover must win back her father’s love and trust
In the rich and vibrant tale, Author Linnea Tanner continues the story of Catrin and Marcellus that began with the awarding-winning novel APOLLO’S RAVEN in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings Series. Book 2: DAGGER’S DESTINY sweeps you into an epic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia.
War looms over 24 AD Britannia where rival tribal rulers fight each other for power and the Romans threaten to invade to settle their political differences. King Amren accuses his daughter, Catrin, of treason for aiding the Roman enemy and her lover, Marcellus. The ultimate punishment is death unless she can redeem herself. She must prove loyalty to her father by forsaking Marcellus and defending their kingdom—even to the death. Forged into a warrior, she must overcome tribulations and make the right decisions on her quest to break the curse that foretells her banished half-brother and the Roman Empire will destroy their kingdom.
Yet, when Catrin again reunites with Marcellus, she is torn between her love for him and duty to King Amren. She must ultimately face her greatest challenger who could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.
Will Catrin finally break the ancient prophecy that looms over her kingdom? Will she abandon her forbidden love for Marcellus to win back her father’s trust and love? Can King Amren balance his brutality to maintain power with the love he feels for Catrin?
Since childhood, award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology that held women in higher esteem, particularly the enigmatic Celts reputed to be warriors and druids. She has extensively researched and traveled to sites described in the Curse of Clansmen and King series. A native of Colorado, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Windsor with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.
When it comes to doggy style, he’s behind you 100%.
Preston Evans is a legend in and out of the bedroom. He’s six foot two, gorgeous, and famous because his celebrity ex snapchatted his huge package. I hate him. I hate his stupid puppy store, Doggy Style. I hate the way he looks at me like I’m a piece of meat. I don’t care that his abs are chiseled, his arms are tattooed, and his face belongs on the cover of a magazine. Every dog bred means a shelter dog dead!
I chain myself to his store in protest, but instead of calling the cops, he throws me a bone.
If I spend one week with him in Hawaii pretending to be his fiancée to snag an investor, he will transform his store into a shelter dog adoption center, saving thousands of dogs’ lives.
One week and I never have to see this sexy, dirty-talking jerk again. How hard can he, uh I mean it, be?
Sex is off the table. So why do I want him to bend me over it?
About Alana Albertson
Alana Albertson is an award winning Latina author, the former President of Romance Writers of America’s Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, and Young Adult chapters. She holds a Masters of Education from Harvard and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Stanford. A recovering professional ballroom dancer, Alana currently writes new adult romantic suspense, young adult, and contemporary romance. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, two sons, and five dogs. When she’s not spending her time needlepointing, dancing, or saving dogs from high kill shelters through her rescue Pugs N Roses, she can be found watching episodes of House Hunters, Homeland, or Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.