( Chocolate cake and sparkler – Depositphotos )
Yes, it’s July, which means my birthday is coming soon, so expect lots of cake pictures the next few weeks. Since it’s still Independence Day weekend, the sparkler cake seems appropriate today.
There are actually a fair number of family birthdays this month, though even in a normal year, we don’t gather for celebrations, because our family is so spread out geographically, cousins, siblings and aunts all over the country. This year will be just immediate family, as is the norm now, but I remember kid-age birthdays when there would be grandparents and occasionally some cousins and aunts and uncles crammed around the table for cake, sometimes sleepover with best friends who shared in the cake. Mom used to bake our birthday cakes, and we got to choose what kind, and whatever we wanted for our birthday dinner. I had a lot of lasagna and manicotti birthday dinners.
I haven’t thought far enough ahead to figure out birthday dinner yet, plus this year my birthday falls on a Tuesday, which is generally our busiest day of the work week at the day-job, so birthday dinner will probably happen the prior weekend, unless I’m doing extra day-job hours. Don’t know that quite this far ahead. I have already decided on my birthday cake, though, which is good, because I’ll have to order it ahead so it can be delivered on time.
I’m still working through revisions this week, but before I get back to them, I have a little snippet from Hunting Medusa to share with you.
“Does it work?”
Of course he knew why she cut her hair so short. She hadn’t had to spell it out for him earlier. “Yes.” Somehow, his knowing and understanding without her having to explain that when her hair was this short, it couldn’t turn into snakes didn’t make her feel better.
“When did you figure that out as an option?” His tone was conversational, as if they were instead sitting on her front porch, talking about the weather, rather than five feet from where he’d be handcuffing her to the bed for the night, and not for anything really fun.
She debated her response and finally decided it didn’t matter if he knew more about her now. This man wouldn’t be scared off, after all. He only intended to stick around long enough to find a way to steal the amulet and kill her, not long enough to develop a deeper relationship. “When the second man flipped out and ran away.” Which was when she’d stopped dating seriously.
He was silent for a long time, and she thought perhaps he’d given up on the conversation. “Most human men might be a little unnerved by it,” he said finally.
A short laugh escaped her. “Unnerved? No, this was total mental meltdown. Run away screaming like a girl, never come back meltdown.” Which the Harvester wasn’t doing. Instead, he was being nice. It was almost enough to make her want to cry. Almost. She hadn’t lost complete control to her cursed hormones yet.
Kallan’s fingers squeezed her wrist gently. “Had you talked about any of this to him before then?”
“Yes, and I’m sure he thought I was crazy. Not crazy enough to stop dating completely, but a little touched. The snakes, though…” She swallowed. “The snakes convinced him I wasn’t lying. Or maybe he just thought he’d had a hallucination. I never got the chance to ask, really.” The old pain reared its head when she remembered the way Austin had vanished from her house and her life, almost as fresh as eight years ago.
Warm fingers slid further between her own so his palm touched hers. “He was the second, huh?” He squeezed again, just lightly, sending heat up her arm. “I guess that put a real damper on dating.” His thumb stroked over the back of her hand and up the side of her index finger. “And explains the vibrator.”
She shut her eyes, smiling reluctantly, despite the pain.
“And the romance novel.”
She frowned up at him. “Those are good reads, I’ll have you know.”
“With sex in them.”
She sighed. “I guess I have to give you that one. Still good stories.”
“You know there are drawings and sculptures of the original Medusa, with the snakes and her still very beautiful face.”
“I’m aware.” Her jaw clenched, and she glared at the floor. “Not too many men are in the market for a woman so dangerous, however. Not to mention going out in public like that would be like sending out a worldwide bulletin to your family: ‘here I am, come kill me’.”
He nudged her shoulder with his own. “I’m attempting to cheer you up, Andrea.”
“It’s not working, but thanks.” A larger divot had appeared in the floor, and she slid her shoe forward to touch the mark with the toe.
Kallan released her hand and put his arm around her shoulders. “Should I distract you in a different way?”
“I thought we agreed that wasn’t happening.” She didn’t move away, though she knew she needed to. Before her hormones really kicked in. She rubbed the bigger dip in the wood floor with her toe again.
“Stop glaring holes into the floor,” he murmured, nuzzling the top of her ear.
“Better the floor than you, wouldn’t you say?” She tilted her head away from him, but he just bent to the side of her neck.
“You smell good.” He licked her skin, sending a shock through her. “Taste good.”
Andi jumped when his other hand settled on her thigh. “Harvester.”
“That isn’t going to work,” he whispered, nipping her throat.
“Neither is this.” She resisted the need to whimper when his teeth grazed her neck in advance of a slow, open-mouthed kiss over the same spot.
He squeezed her thigh lightly, and heat shot into her middle.
Well, okay, maybe it was working. A little.
When he tilted her back, she let him catch her mouth. Just for a minute. She wouldn’t admit it to him, but this really was a pretty good distraction.
Who else has a July birthday? How do you celebrate? Big party? Just you and your nearest and dearest? And what kind of cake are you having?
While I go back to work on Medusa #2, maybe you’re looking for something to read right now? Light the Way Home is available wherever books are sold, so if you click the title, you’ll be able to find your favorite bookseller. Hot single dad, a haunted lighthouse, and a woman who is just passing through, it’s a quick, light read to while away a hot summer afternoon.
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