Thanks to all here on the blog (and other places on the interwebs) for the positive feedback about last week’s sneak peek.
Originally, I planned to give you a little taste of something else today – one of my other projects – but given the FREE promotion going on right now for The Ruth Valley Missing, I’ll give you just a teeeeeeny bit more of the follow up novel.
But before I do that, just wanted to let you all know how the promo is going -
As of this morning, this is where we stand. Not bad at all! If you recall from the last time I did this sort of thing, I pretty much died when I broke the Top 50, so this is definitely awesome.
But wait, there’s more!
#12 in overall Fiction & Literature! That’s pretty sweet…
#3 in Women’s Fiction…
…and briefly, #1 in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense category!
This may be as good as it gets on this promo, and I’m totally thrilled with the results. So a big thank you to all of you newer blog readers who downloaded and passed this along to friends.
The FREE promo continues through the 29th, so feel free to spread the word.
And now, the continuation of last week’s sneak peek into the next Jameson Quinn novel. (If you missed the first peek, go back and give it a read.)
A pixie haired brunette with coral-stained lips stood behind the table of wine bottles. “Excuse me?”
“This is the third week in a row I’ve seen you here.”
“Oh. I live here. Sort of.”
“The timber frame on the lake?”
“A Quinn property?”
I nodded. “You know it?”
“The owner usually orders a couple of cases from us to keep his properties stocked. The timber frame is my favorite one. You’ll be staying there for a while?”
“For the summer, at least.”
“Wow.” The woman bit her lower lip for a second. “Do you know anyone up here?”
I could see a plan forming behind her tortoise-shell glasses. “You know, there’s a group of us girls that get together every few weeks. A book club. We take turns playing hostess. Next week’s host had something come up…”
I started to make an excuse, but remembered Mike’s request before we hung up.
Make some friends.
“I guess I could host one week.” I pushed the words out, doing my best to make them sound convincing, for my sake as much as hers. “It’d be nice to meet some new people.”
She clapped her hands together, then grabbed a business card from the table. “Fantastic! This is me, Suzanne, although most everyone just calls me Suze.”
“Nice to meet you, Suzanne. I’m Jameson.” I extended a hand and added, “Quinn.”
Rather than shake my hand, Suzanne slapped my arm. “Shut up! Well, that would explain how you got that place for the summer.”
I forced a grin and nodded. “I have to get going, but I guess I’ll call you?”
“Sure. Or shoot me an email so I have your info and I’ll let you know the details.”
I started slowly stepping backwards. “Sounds good.”
I waved and nodded as I turned away from the booth and headed to find Callum.
As I approached his usual spot, I noticed the booth was there, but was already being broken down for the day, by a middle-aged mustachioed man.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for Callum?”
“The old man? He was feeling a bit under the weather and headed home.”
“Do you work for him?”
The man snorted. “No. That’s my booth over there.” He nodded towards a table full of vegan jerky. “He asked me to take this down and drop it at his place. And by ask, I mean he told me what to do and took off.”
I tried not to smile, as I imagined Callum doing exactly that. Somehow I’d bet this guy wasn’t quite as charmed by the gruff old man as I was. “I had something I needed to drop off for him. If you think this stuff will fit in my car, I’d be happy to save you the trip.”
“Really?” The man frowned, his forehead wrinkling. “You related to him?”
I shook my head. “No, why?”
“He’s not exactly a people person, so I figured only family would be so willing to head out to see him. Plus, the red hair, thought maybe you were Scottish, too.”
“Nope, far as I know this is Irish red. And I like the old guy.”
“Alright. Let’s see if we can’t get this stuff in your car.”
I grabbed the rolled up canvas and a few poles, while the vegan jerky man grabbed the folding tables and followed me to the car.
When we arrived, he eyed the little black coupe for a moment, then declared, “We’ll make it work.”
After a bit of grunting, some tetris-like maneuvering, and a bit of twine keeping my trunk from flying completely open, I was ready to go.
I knocked on the door again, this time with a bit more force.
I’d been standing outside for five minutes, contemplating whether or not I should knock again. After all, if Callum wasn’t feeling well, he could be resting.
The house was down a long driveway, far from the road, and it was a perfectly clear day. Given the circumstances, I figured I could get away with leaving everything on the porch, so I decided to go head back to the car and unload.
After figuring out how to undo the knot securing the items in my trunk, I pulled on a folding table, only to find it wouldn’t budge.
“Stupid vegan-jerky man,” I grumbled as I walked around to the side of the car and opened a door. I pushed on the other end of the table, trying to wiggle it loose. I felt it give a bit, and hopped back out and around to the back.
I pulled again, this time bracing one foot against the edge of my back bumper as I did. The table eased slightly in my direction, then before I could stop it, broke completely loose shifting my leaning one-legged stance to a no-legged crash into the ground.
I hugged my head as I hit the ground, protecting myself from the table closing in above me. When I could hear no other items hurtling out of my trunk, I pushed the table off me and held my elbow, staring up at the sky.
“You’re a graceful one, eh?” I looked to the side to see Callum standing there, one hand in his pocket, the other holding a mug of something. “I was in need of a bit of entertainment this afternoon.”
“Glad I could oblige.”
“Very kind. Need a hand?” I rolled onto my knees and reached out to accept his offer of help. He grabbed my hand and pulled me up, with more force than I expected for a man of his age, particularly one who was under the weather. “Terry unload all this on you?”
“Aye. Mustache, ugly, sells pretend meat.”
I giggled. “I wouldn’t say unload. I did offer after all.”
“You are full of genius ideas, aren’t you?”
“Well, it made sense at the time.” I walked over to the passenger door and grabbed the small gift bag sitting on the front seat. “I wanted to drop something by to thank you for the steak.”
He accepted the bag and peeked inside. “Oh no, who’d you buy these from? Not the girl with the lazy eye, right? She doesn’t believe in butter.”
“I made them myself.”
He looked in the bag again, frowning. “Should I be worried?”
I looked at him standing there, his long wavy white hair loose, the rumpled red flannel untucked with the sleeves rolled up. “I don’t know that my baking could make you any worse off.”
“Cheeky. Very nice.” He took a gulp from the mug and set it on top of my car, then grabbed the table off the ground. “Let’s get this mess up to the house.”
I followed his lead, grabbing as much as I could and hauled it up to the porch. He leaned the table against the house and nodded to the porch floor. “Just toss it there. Did you want to come in and have something to drink?”
I hesitated. “I don’t want to impose. I heard you weren’t feeling well and just wanted to drop off those brownies and your booth.”
“Ah,” he waved a hand, dismissing my worry, “just a bit off today. Was up all night with the cows.”
“What?” I laughed.
“I’m serious. They haven’t been acting right lately.”
“The girls don’t milk well when they’re upset.” He swung the front door open and nodded in. “Come on then.”
I shrugged and stepped inside, pausing in the foyer as I looked around. There were books and newspapers covering the coffee table, odds and ends here and there. Cluttered, disorganized, but not a complete disaster.
“It’s a bit of a mess. Lost one of my farmhands and the girl who helped with the books in the same week, so I’ve been going a bit mad getting to everything.” He threw an afghan to one side of the couch and motioned to the now empty spot. “Have a seat.”
I eased my way into the sunken couch and traced the paisley pattern on the pillow next to me while Callum walked off into the kitchen. I checked my phone as a sudden panic of being well away from the road in the home of a perfectly strange man hit. A sigh escaped as I saw the bars light up and remembered to thank Mike for telling me to switch service providers before heading out here.
“Here we are.” Callum slid a small stack of newspaper on the coffee table over with his foot and set down a tray with two glasses and the bag of brownies I’d brought. “Let’s give these a try, shall we?”
I reached for the glass of milk after taking a bite of brownie and stared for a moment. It wasn’t the bleach white color I was accustomed to, and there was a thick cream at the top of the glass. I looked up to see Callum watching me stare at the glass.
“Straight from the source. Drink up.”
I obeyed. It was rich and flavorful, not at all what I was expecting. “This is really good.”
“Of course it is.”
“So, you lost two workers in one week?”
He nodded. “To each other. Fell in love, got engaged, and decided to move closer to her family.”
I looked around the room and took another sip of milk. As I set the glass down, the words flew out. “I could help you.”
“Yeah. I mean, I don’t know how useful I’ll be with actual farm work, but I can definitely handle books and the household stuff.”
“It doesn’t pay much. And you’d have to put up with me.”
“I’m sure the pay is fine, and you I can handle.”
His bushy eyebrows pulled together as he stared at me over another bite of brownie. “Would you be willing to do a bit of cooking?”
“Does that mean you approve of the brownie?”
“It’ll do.” He popped the rest of the brownie in his mouth, brushed the crumbs from his beard and held out his hand. I took it and he gave it a hearty shake. “Deal?”
“When do I start?”
He grabbed a book from the pile on his table and stood up. “Now. Look at this place. It’s a disaster.”
He gave me a quick smile and walked up the stairs waving his book as he disappeared. I looked around and took a deep breath as I decided where to begin.
Ok, that’s it for sneak peeks!
Enjoy the weekend and we’ll meet back here next week for something new.
Now, for no reason whatsoever, I leave you with this:
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