Welcome 2018!

I’m so excited about 2018 and the changes going on here on Main Street. The most exciting news is our upcoming Summertime Romance on Main Street! Another box set by some of my favorite authors!

Let’s welcome the New Year by playing a game. Go to the 18th page of your latest release if you’re an author or the closest book next to you if you’re a reader and give us a snippet of that page in the comments. Do it carefully, because what you choose will predict your year!

If you’re an author, be sure and leave us a buy link to your book. Here’s mine:


29 thoughts on “Welcome 2018!

  1. It’s from my soon to be released Rewriting Rita. It’s currently available on pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/Rewriting-Rita-Seattle-Fire-Book-ebook/dp/B078SZS99Z/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 for the introductory price of 0.99

    Addison put down the manuscript. It was silly…but compelling. The opening advertisement made her ill. So many women through so many generations saw marriage as the end-all. Her mother had taught her, “A man is not a financial plan.” And yet, Addison had still fallen for it. It was like she was programed to see a man as an answer to her problems. When would she finally grasp that a man wasn’t the answer, but, in her case, the problem?
    Addison braced her shoulders. She had to solve her own problems now. But a tricky little voice in the back of her head whispered that even after Paul’s death she still wasn’t standing on her own financial feet. The life insurance policy would always eclipse anything she could ever hope to earn at the bookshop. It had been tempting to continue on at the store, watching it lose money every month, but common sense and Mr. Patel had prevailed. She had tried to make a go of a business and she’d failed. Just like she’d failed her marriage. Even if she hadn’t known it.
    She glanced around the Books and Bun Bookshop. What made this place successful? Who says it is? the voice in her head asked. All the people? But how many are actually buying anything?
    Addison sank back in the club chair and took note of her fellow bookstore patrons. The elderly man with his glasses perched on the end of his nose had a pile of historical fiction books on the ottoman in front of him. In the children’s section, a mother with a toddler on her lap flipped through a picture book. Two chairs over, a nail-biting woman sat lost in a romance. Dozens of people were parked at the tables, hiding behind laptops. She couldn’t see the checkout counter from where she sat and, of course, she had no way of knowing the store’s financials, but if no one was actually buying anything, the store had to be suffering.
    It was just like the self-publishing tidal wave. If everyone was going to give away books, how would any book business survive?
    “Addison? What are you doing here?”
    Too late to hide. She smiled up into his blue eyes. How could she have been so mistaken? Had she completely misread him? Had all those lunches and long conversation been nothing more than a pleasant way to spend the time?
    “Checking out the competition?” he asked.
    She swallowed. “A bookstore in Shell Falls could hardly compete with a shop in Frisco.” Especially if the Shell Falls shop closed its doors.
    “That’s true.” He nodded. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find you in here. But why didn’t you tell me you were coming to San Francisco?”
    Not knowing what to say, she gave him a weak shrug. She’d wanted to surprise him. But he’d been the one to surprise her when she’d spotted him kissing that blonde on the pier. The girl looked like a teenager with an incredibly poor sense of color coordination—bumble-bee stockings, a red and white striped mini-skirt, a purple hoodie.
    “You’re a long way from home.” She heard the questions in his tone, but she didn’t feel the need to provide any answers.
    Cary Grant handsome, James usually caused her to melt whenever he came into her shop, but now when she looked at him she couldn’t help seeing the Barbie hanging on his arm. Even if the blonde wasn’t there physically, in Addison’s head, she was.
    “Even bookstore owners need a vacation,” she told him.
    “How long are you in town?”
    She had thought about leaving as soon as she’d seen him and Bimbo in action, but now she decided she wasn’t going to let him run her off like a dog with a tail between her legs. “I’m here for the weekend.”
    Trying to mask his surprise, he glanced at his watch. “That’s great. I have a commitment tonight.”
    I bet you do, she thought.
    “But how about tomorrow? Are you available?”
    “No. I have plans.” It gave her a little surge of power to say that, and like candy sprinkles on top of a cupcake, the disappointed look on his face only added to her pleasure.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is from my upcoming release, With This Heart: https://books2read.com/WithThisHeart

    He stood with the animal in his arms and turned back to the truck. Chris had opened his door and stared at them with eyes as huge as the fawn’s.
    “You ran over Bambi?” he said, shocked.
    Damn Disney movies.
    “No, I did not run over Bambi,” Jared muttered, though he’d thought the same thing himself. “I tried to miss this fawn, but must have bumped him after all. I think his leg is broken. How about spreading out that blanket you brought and I’ll lay him down on it, okay?”
    Chris nodded and scrambled to do as he’d been asked, laying the quilt across the seat. “Ready,” he announced when it was positioned to his satisfaction. “Can I hold him?”
    Jared hesitated, then shrugged. As long as he kept away from the sharp little hooves, he should be fine. “Yeah, sure. Just sit there and I’ll set his head on your lap.”
    The fawn seemed to sense Chris wouldn’t hurt it. They stared at each other, and when Chris lifted a hand to pet the animal, it barely flinched. “He’s beautiful,” Chris said, wonder filling his voice. “Do you think I could keep him?”
    Jared shook his head, hating to see the disappointment clouding his son’s face. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. This little guy’s mom is going to be worried sick about him. Just like your mom is probably worrying about you. I better call and let her know about the hold up. You good here?”
    Chris gave him a woebegone expression, but nodded.
    “Okay. I’ll be right back, then. Keep this guy calm if you can.” He carefully closed the door so as not to frighten the deer and grimaced at the rapidly darkening sky. Annie was not going to be happy.
    He dialed the number and waited for the call to go through. Nothing. No dial tone. He looked at the reception bars; great, no service.
    This day had started out so good, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Oh my! I do hope my year isn’t as bleak as Brandy’s has become. A SISTER’S CHRISTMAS GIFT,
    tucked in this year’s Authors of Main Street Christmas boxed-set CHRISTMAS BABIES ON MAIN STREET for 99c
    or just click the blue boxed-set pic at the top of this page!


    Brandy walked through the little town and looked around. The place was quaint, as though time had left it alone. Her phone rang, and she realized it was Ed. She didn’t bother to answer it. I don’t have anything to say to you at the moment. I’ll call you later. You’ll still be up. It must have rung four times in less than twenty minutes, and then it stopped.
    Above an office was a bank of tall, wide windows. And one contained a For Rent sign with a phone number. She wasn’t certain why, but she copied the number.
    Her phone rang again, and she looked at the incoming call. It was Craig. She debated and then ignored it. Not wanting to be disturbed, she was trying to re-balance her life or at least make sense of it.
    A little further up the road was Kathy’s Diner. I could use a cup of coffee. She walked to the small restaurant and pulled the heavy door open. There were several booths and a long row of counter seats. She slipped into a booth and picked up the plastic menu. Suddenly her desire went from coffee to a root beer float. She couldn’t think of when she’d last had one. Maybe it was for their thirteenth birthday. Their mom took them to a diner to eat and let them choose whatever they wanted. What a treat!
    “Can I get you som–” The woman inhaled and turned whiter than a sheet. “Oh, no! No! J-J-Jake!!!”
    “What in tarnation?” A large Black man came out of the back with an apron tied around his waist. “You for real?”
    “I ain’t never seen anything like this.”
    A little smile began to play on her face. “You’re thinking I’m Breanna?”
    The man nodded, and the woman hid behind his big frame.
    “I’m her twin sister, Brandy. I’m here to settle her estate.”
    “I ain’t never seen two people look so much alike.”
    “We heard that a lot growing up.” She smiled at the man. “But we were quite different.”
    “She worked here since she first got into town. Good waitress. Everyone loved her. Still can’t believe she’s gone.” The man brushed his large hand against his apron.
    Brandy nodded.
    “We’ve all worried about her baby. You got Geraldine?”
    “Not yet. I’m waiting for some paperwork to clear.”
    He smiled broadly, showing off his perfectly aligned white teeth. “She’s just the cutest little thing and always happy. Just like her mom. Who has her?”
    “Social Services.”
    The waitress stepped out from behind the cook. “You want something?”
    Brandy smiled at the middle-aged woman. “A root beer float.”
    “That’s all you want?”
    She nodded. “I figured I’d have one. After the last few days, I need to indulge in something totally decadent. May I have it with whipped cream and a cherry on top?”
    The waitress looked at her and vanished to the back.
    Several guys came in and settled at the counter. The waitress came out carrying a large glass with whipped cream piled a mile high and a cherry precariously balanced as though it might slide off its soft white mountain. She deposited the drink in front of Brandy and went to the counter for the men’s orders.
    Brandy picked up the stem and ate the cherry. She looked at the stem between her fingers and smiled as she deposited it in her mouth. Can I still do it?
    She worked at moving the stem around with her tongue. It wasn’t easy, but then it never was. She remembered a few nights while in college when she and her friends would have a race to see who could tie a knot in the stem first. Certain she had it, she removed it from her mouth just as she spotted Craig walking through the door. The little stem popped into somewhat of a straight line.
    Craig lowered his gaze to the red stem between her fingers and winked as he sat in the seat across from her. “Practicing? What are you doing slumming in a joint like this?”
    Craig watched her blush and found it endearing. She wasn’t at all like her sister. He waited for her answer.
    “Wasn’t ready to call it quits for the night. Thought maybe I’d poke around in town.”
    “This might be a small town, but crime can happen anywhere. Next time you want to wander around this late at night, will you please promise you’ll call me?”
    “And you are going to protect me? I can protect myself. Are you forgetting I live in the city?”
    “I figured you’d prefer to have a Navy SEAL protect you.”
    “Oh yeah, right, in your dreams. Any guy who wants to sling a little bull and has a few muscles would like a woman to think he’s a SEAL. I don’t play that game. I’ve got a condo on New Mexico’s oceanfront.”
    He laughed. “Okay, I’m not a SEAL. In a few more days, I’ll officially be a former SEAL. I’m being permanently reassigned to a desk job.”
    “Let me guess, you are some sort of sergeant. You get to holler at the new boys and make them do pushups because they have a wrinkle in their uniform?”
    “No, wrong military branch, and that would be a non-commissioned officer. I’m Navy, a Commander. Remember, I’m college educated. But you don’t have to believe me.”
    She shrugged.
    “Feeling the pain of losing your sister? Do you really think you can wash it down with ice cream? Wouldn’t something a lot harder help?”
    “Probably, but I didn’t feel like doing that tonight.”
    He blew out a breath. “It’s always difficult to lose someone. But they say twins are closer than average siblings.”
    “Something like that. It’s making me rethink what is important in life.”
    “I’ll be honest. I tried to take Breanna away from here. She was too smart to be working a dead-end job. But she wouldn’t even consider it. She wanted to live life her way.”
    “I’m pretty much the same, except I make a lot more money. I have more options. And I don’t need a man to make me happy.”
    He stared at her. “Are you saying you prefer women to men?”
    She rolled her eyes. “Lifestyles are individual. I don’t care what others do. But I’ll stick with my heterosexual orientation.”
    “Nice to know.” Are you feeling what I’m feeling?
    “How close were you with Breanna?”
    He shrugged. “No one could ever get close to Breanna. She kept to herself. This joint has long been known as a rumor mill, but Breanna never opened her mouth. Didn’t repeat stuff. She probably kept more secrets than anyone else in this town.”
    “Did you actually date her?”
    “Oh, every chance I had. We’d grab the blankets and toss them in the back of my pickup truck. That was our idea of camping. We’d go fishing north of here. Not too many gals would do that, they’d want a night at a five-star hotel, but she considered it an adventure. I could be myself around her. She’d relax and was the same way.”
    They talked some more, and then Craig walked Brandy back towards the hotel. When she started crying, he wrapped her in his arms and let her grieve. “It’s okay to cry. I’ll hold you until you’ve cried your last tear.”
    “I’m sorry. I feel as though I’m crumbling under the weight of everything.” She sniffled and fished in her pocket for a tissue.
    “No apology needed. Don’t be afraid to show your feelings.”
    “I feel like a blathering idiot. It’s more than just losing a sister. I feel as though my entire life is changing, and I have no control.”
    “You are welcome to soak my shoulder any time. Change isn’t a bad thing.”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for the opportunity, Kristy!
    Here’s mine, from Once Upon a Vet School #7: Lena Takes a Foal
    get it at: https://lizzitremayne.com/OnceUponVet7


    The jingle of the ice cream truck pulled me out of whatever internal medicine doctorate-dissertation trance I was in, typing myself stupid. I’d been stuck in bed with Sarah’s Previously Unknown E. coli in a Dog for nearly a week and I had a desperate urge to catch that truck — and snag me a chocolate gelato.
    Never mind I could barely make it to the toilet.
    With a frown at Tamarah’s makeshift desk sitting over my reclining body, topped by 35 pounds of IBM Selectric correcting typewriter, I bit my lip, held my breath and heaved. My sore ribs shrieked, but the typewriter barely budged. I tried again and managed to tip it off my lap, then swung my legs across and dived for the door… but my leg was trapped in the sheets, wasn’t it?
    I hit the floor with a grunt and a scream, then dragged myself to the door frame and climbed up its slippery surface.
    That ice cream had better be good.
    I staggered down the hallway, leaning against the wall as I went. If I’d gone to the doctor, I’d no doubt have a crutch, but my stupidity might cost me that gelato. I could almost taste it and I hurried, nearly falling over Tamarah’s golden Labrador as she rushed up to me, leash in mouth and a hopeful look in her big brown eyes.
    “Watch out, Susie, not now,” I mumbled, then stumbled down the porch steps. I was limping across the lawn at a great rate of knots when the brightly painted van, playing its merry tune, drove away in a cloud of diesel smoke.
    I growled beneath my breath at the universe for denying me the chance to add inches to my waistline, then took a deep breath. The mailbox stood just yards away. I might as well check it, now I was out here. As I reached into the box, a movement to my right caught my eye.
    “Susie, what have you got?” I called out to the dog. She looked at me, all big, innocent Labrador eyes, a half-grown bunny draped through her mouth.
    “Gently, gently,” I whispered, as I picked up her forgotten leash and followed her into the bushes, dragging my screaming leg. A domestic rabbit like this baby Belgian Lop running around in the middle of town must be someone’s pet. It was still alive, its little chest heaving in triple time, but that could change in a heartbeat.
    “Come on, Susie, give it here,” I cajoled, and waved the leash at her.
    With a joyous look, she spat the rabbit at me and lunged for the leash. I dove for the bunny like a wide receiver making the final play in the end zone, quite forgetting for one brief moment that I only had one functional leg.
    This time, I’m sure the whole neighborhood heard me swear.
    Lucky Susie. She got her walk after all. We returned to the house to put the little hopper in a box with some water and lettuce to calm down while I fashioned a rough — operative word, rough — crutch. With the Labrador helping, against my wishes and better judgement, I loaded the bunny into a backpack. It snuggled down and never moved as we set off to tour the neighborhood. I’m not sure if Susie’s enthusiasm helped, but I hobbled from house to house, muttering a fairly constant stream of imprecations under my breath. It took over an hour to canvass the neighborhood, but we finally found a little old lady whose eyes watered up when I mentioned the rabbit. Her granddaughter brought it over to show it off last week — and forgot about it while it grazed on granny’s back lawn. When they returned, of course it had gone walkabout. They thought they’d never see it again.
    Made my day.

    A few days later, despite the hydrotherapy, massage, and loving care by Tamarah, the leg actually looked worse. Not content to stay a nice blue color, it had morphed to a purple, black and yellow camo pattern. Understanding the medical significance of the color changes was all very nice, but it sure didn’t make the bruises resolve any faster.
    “Do you want to see that blasted horse of yours?” Tamarah said the next day, out of the blue.
    “Really? You’ll take me?”
    “I go there every day to take care of him, anyway.” She scowled at me. “You might as well come along… on one condition.”
    “What is it?” I said, rather ungraciously, under the circumstances. She’d been caring for me, too, since my fall. I peered sideways at her.
    “We go by student health on the way back. I don’t want to come home from walking the dog to find you seizuring from a blood clot in your brain.”
    Susie jumped to her feet at the W-word and spat her slimy tennis ball at me. I sidestepped, with a yelp, but offered the dog a twisted grin. After the bunny incident, I had a new appreciation for her ability to hurl things with her mouth.
    “My father would shoot me,” Tamarah continued smoothly, “if he knew I’d let you stay away from the doctor.”
    That got me.
    Tamarah’s daddy, a lovely man, was also a professor… at our veterinary school. I bit my cheek. He wouldn’t be impressed by my irresponsible behavior. Now was not the time to annoy his daughter.

    Get your copy now at https://lizzitremayne.com/OnceUponVet7
    Hope you love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I loved your story because it was a peek at what goes on in a vet school. So often I think everyone thinks it’s just classes with lots of anatomy and they don’t see what goes on behind the scenes.

      Personally, I’ve always thought that vets have a harder time than than human doctors because they only have one living body to study and vets have everything from fish to elephants. I found your book to be fascinating. It wasn’t just a romance- it was a journey and I love reading those kind of stories!

      I must ask. Did she ever give him back his shirt? LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is from “The Christmas Stocking” in Authors of Main Street boxed set Christmas Babies on Main Street. Here is the link: http://amzn.to/2xQ5Lsj

    Mrs. King and one week before Thanksgiving

    With her head in a full spin, she shut her eyes and simply willed Mrs. King to go away. But that wasn’t happening no matter how much she wanted it to. Ellie took a deep breath and asked the question she realized she might live to regret. “What about the children? What will happen to them?”
    Mrs. King blinked, then raised one eyebrow. “I’m afraid I’ve exhausted all my resources. They have no other place to go since the Children’s Center is at full capacity.”
    Ellie’s heart skipped a beat. “Is anyone in the community available to care for them?”
    Mrs. King turned her head to check on the kids. “No. I’ve contacted everyone that would even come close to qualifying.” One hand rubbed her temple, and she straightened in the chair. “I’ve placed all my hope in you, Mrs. Newsome. Their time spent here would only be for a few days, a week at the most.”
    How can I take care of someone else’s children when I’ve just lost my second baby?
    “Mrs. King. I’m sure you aren’t aware, but I miscarried two weeks ago. Not to mention that Thanksgiving is a week away. I have no idea how I could possibly attend to the children.”
    “I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your baby. I hope your health is good now, and you certainly have my condolences,” Mrs. King offered, then pushed her cup away from her and sighed. “Would you mind if we shared another cup of coffee?”
    “Of course. Forgive me for not offering sooner.” Ellie refilled both their cups and stared out the window, then twisted around facing Mrs. King. “By the way. How did you come to get my name and address?”
    “Gage Landon volunteers at the Children’s Center, which her husband, Matt, owns. She was there this afternoon when the police brought in the children. She’d overheard the director’s conversation of how the home had exceeded their limit. We talked a while about some of the other people who might take in the children. When none of them worked out, I contacted Gage again and she mentioned you might be available.”
    Surprised, Ellie questioned her. “So you ran my credentials?”
    Mrs. King smiled. “No. Not without your permission. But Gage is well known and liked at the home and in the community. Her word is good enough for us. We don’t normally place children without a thorough investigation, but this is an emergency and a short term placement.”
    “Well, that clears up how you came to see me,” Ellie said. “It’s awfully quiet in the den. Why don’t we check on the kids?”
    When they peeked in the den, both kids were fast asleep, but Danni had twisted the blanket around her while she tossed and turned.
    “They’re worn out. Today has been rough on them,” Mrs. King commented.
    “Does Danni know what happened?”
    “Yes. A counselor at the home spoke with her. As expected she’s distraught, but we managed to calm her down, which took a while.”
    Ellie could imagine how she must be feeling. “Poor little girl. That’s a lot for her to bear. It’ll take a long time for her to come to grips with such devastating news. If ever.”
    Mrs. King’s expression softened. “Mrs. Newsome, it is my hope that you can provide a home here while we search for a temporary home, until their dad is well enough to take them again.” She leaned forward and whispered. “If…he doesn’t succumb to his accident injuries.”
    Lord, please don’t let that happen. Ellie drew in a quick breath. “Is there a possibility he won’t make it?”
    “As I said, the doctors are doing all they can. It’s too soon yet for them to give us an absolute state of health. Only God knows the outcome.”
    Ellie felt herself weakening in her objection to turning her life upside down. Her hopes of finding a job outside the home literally just flew out the window.
    These children must have a place to call home. It wasn’t her place, nor was it in her best interest to take on the kids, but then again Mrs. King had made it clear the children would only be there for a few days.
    And…all things considered, maybe it would be best for her to put off looking for employment right away. Children must come first. Sense of duty and a heartfelt responsibility helped make up her mind.
    “If you’re sure this won’t be a long-drawn out undertaking, then my answer is yes. Yes. Leave the children here. I’ll do my best to take care of them.”


  6. This is from God Help Ye, Merry Gentleman, which started out as a Christmas present for those following the story of Never Kiss a Toad on Wattpad. Never Kiss a Toad is a novel I’m cowriting with Mariana Gabrielle/Mari Anne Christie about the romance between her regency rake’s son and my regency rake’s daughter. The novel starts with the two teenagers being discovered in bed together by their horrified fathers.

    God Help Ye, Merry Gentleman is set some two years earlier, when Sally was fifteen, and was originally a short story about my Sally blackmailing Mari’s David (aka Toad) into explaining some erotic pictures. As the sixteen-year-old student of two former rakes, he knows a lot more than as good for him. As a properly raised Victorian daughter of a noble house, she knows a lot less than she wants to, as the excerpt from page 18 shows. But then the book grew. We kept adding other bits of backstory and excerpts from books about the other characters, and finished up releasing the collection as a book just before Christmas.

    “Monkey, I am not sitting down to breakfast alone with you.”
    “Oh, don’t be silly. What do you think I will do, bite you?”
    He nearly groaned at the thought of her lovely little teeth buried in his shoulder while she—
    “I do not think you will do anything, but your father will unman me, should he find us alone.”
    Sally sighed and took a roll from the silver basket that had been set on the table, a la française. “Papa has found us alone hundreds of times, you blockhead. We have grown up together, roaming each other’s houses and estates. We are two friends having a meal. For Heaven’s sake, you are almost like my brother, are you not?”
    Toad’s heart slowed just slightly. If she thought of him as her brother, he could, too. Though he couldn’t imagine she would go to such lengths to be alone with Jonny.
    “Will you not sit?”
    Slowly, cautiously, as though she might bite him and he might like it, he moved around her, his back to the wall, to sit across the table from her, not at her elbow, moving the place setting to do it. She eyed him and pressed her lips together, but only said, “I wished to speak to you alone. You have been here five whole days, and while you are everything polite and kind, you avoid me at every turn. I demand to know why you have started acting like an utter nincompoop.”
    He slunk into his chair, looking anywhere but at her. She dropped the hand holding the toast she’d half buttered. “What in cinders is wrong with you?”
    She shoved the basket of bread and rolls at him.
    “Nothing is wrong… exactly,” he mumbled.
    With a huff, she snapped. “You are the most infuriating boy I have ever known. It’s because you’ve spent months and months bouncing from one woman’s bed to another like an absolute dog, and you are afraid I will scold you like our mothers.”
    “No… not…”
    “And now that you have flirted with princesses, you’ve suddenly realized you are eligible and I will come out in three years, and our wretched fathers have told you every noblewoman in the world wants to trap you into marriage any way she can.”
    “I don’t…”
    “Do not be such a bufflebrain. I do not need to trap you into marriage; I only have to wait until our parents can no longer contain their will to meddle, and hope you are not trapped by some other girl in the meanwhile.”
    “Beauty, I—”
    Sally tipped her head.
    Had he just said that out loud?
    “Did you just call me Beauty? Goodness. That’s new.” She gave him a coy smile. “Do you truly think me beautiful, David?”
    “Sally, I… Monkey Face, you know I don’t…”
    With narrowed eyes, she pronounced, “You are an utter idiot, Abersham. I am not like all those other silly women. I. Am. Your. Friend. You ridiculous boy.”
    “Ridiculous man, Monkey.”
    Sally took a bite of her pastry, then set it down and drummed her fingertips against the table. “And since I am your friend, I expect you to answer me honestly. I have some questions for you, Toad Abersham, and I will not hear your evasive, noncommittal responses. You will answer me fully and completely. Do you understand me?” She poked her finger at him the same way her mother did, just for good measure.
    Toad groaned. “You are going to scold, aren’t you?”
    “I am not going to scold. You are the flawed boy our fathers have made you, and sooner or later, you will grow out of it and be ready to be a duke and a husband. Until then, I expect you will keep doing stupid, exasperating things I will hold over your head for the rest of our lives, once we are married.”
    “You needn’t imagine I will marry a shrew, Sally Grenford. You won’t get anyone in the noose till you learn to bridle your tongue.”
    She stuck out her tongue at him, and he returned the gesture, with the addition of crossed eyes. Stifling a chuckle, Sally turned up her nose and continued as though he hadn’t spoken. “I do not care to hear your amorous adventures or excuses for your unseemly behavior. I wish to ask you questions about The Scrapbook. I have been studying the pictures, and I can’t understand exactly how it works, and since you are now clearly an expert, you must tell me.”
    “Sally!” His protest came out in a squeak.
    “Do not ‘Sally’ me. I never agreed not to ask you any questions.”
    “But surely the poems… the papers. Didn’t the novels give you the general idea of things?”
    “David Abersham, do not shirk your bargain with me. Have you finished eating?”
    “I cannot keep anything down until we have ended this conversation.”
    “Very good, then. Come here.” She stood and took his reluctant hand, leading him to the half-hidden niche with the sofa, where they had spent so many rainy afternoons. He sat at the very end of the sofa, hoping she would take the other end. But no, she collected the blasted Scrapbook from a hiding place beneath the flagstone, and sat right in the middle, not close enough for her skirts to touch him, but still leaving him quite crowded. Toad tugged at his cravat.
    She opened it to the first page and pulled out a full page of notes she had taken, which meant she would be tormenting him with this for hours.


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