Thursday, December 27, 2007

Attack of the Giant Condom-Bearing Vampire

Got your attention? Here's another story from my past. Ever heard of the six-lettered C-disease? That which shall not be mentioned? Few people know I had thyroid cancer just over five years ago. To discover this, there was quite a process. Here's a story from that time... Don't worry. It's not depressing.
* * *

It was kind of scary, getting the biopsy done on my thyroid. I knew it was going to hurt, and I hate anyone touching my neck. The ultrasound tech was nice and she didn’t choke me by pressing too hard while she did the ultrasound scan. Then the doctor came in. Hot hot hot. I think he was Russian, too. Little bit of an accent. Perfect English. We talked for a while, and he explained the procedure. To ease my mind he told me only the shot to numb my neck would hurt.

He smiled, a nice benign smile. And then it happened...

They have these sterile trays that I guess come from the sterile tray factory. They’re sealed shut like a frozen meal that you have to rip open. Inside is all of what a doctor needs to do the biopsy.

So, he rips this tray open and there it was. Laying on top of a pile of gauze is this giant condom. I swear, it was an inch and a half across, and I’m like “WHOA!!! Wait a minute, I didn’t sign on for this!! My thyroid is in my neck buddy!”

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t keep the smirk off my face. Perhaps because of my smirk, perhaps because he didn’t want to offend me, he picked up this condom and turned away from me. Which made the whole thing funnier. He held the thing at about waist level and unrolled it. By God!! It didn’t just look like a condom, it was a condom.

The ever helpful technician rushed over with her tube of gel – KY??? – and squirts it inside the latex. I just watched the whole thing in horror. My gosh! These people were sick! No really, I guess it was me being perverse. As it turned out, the enormous condom was for the ultrasound scanner they were going to use on my neck, and it was to keep everything sterile. Oh! the disappointment!

So then they did the procedure... Did you know that one of the nerves that goes to the ear is in the neck. No, me neither. I do now. OWWW!!! Other than that it’s not so bad. They had to take eight biopsies, from two different locations. And then the doctor, who at this point I’m thinking isn’t quite so hot, tells me the thyroid is very vascular so I could bleed a lot from the biopsy site and get a big bruise. I’m thinking “Oh great. I’m gonna walk around looking like I’ve got a gigantic hicky on my neck. Fabulous. Just fabulous.” Then he says “If you start bleeding, just apply pressure until it stops.”

“What?” I think. “Am I going to be sitting at my desk and start spurting blood? ‘Oh I’m sorry. Did I get blood on your memo?’ ‘I’m terribly sorry. Would you like hemoglobin with that?’ ”

And then he sent me on my way.

It was REALLY bright outside, and I fought the urge to hiss and hide as I groped for my sunglasses. I managed to get to my car without incident, and then, I learned the truth. I saw two marks about an inch apart on my neck.

Oh no!!! That wasn’t a doctor!! It was a giant condom bearing vampire!

* * *

Man, has my writing changed since then, lol. I share that story for two reasons. It's from a very important time in my life. Scary. Uncertain. And I never want to forget it. Because I'm so thankful to have gotten past it. I'm thankful that the PA I saw six months before I had surgery to completely remove my thyroid said "Hey, this feels a little enlarged. I think we should check it out." And mostly, I'm thankful that five years later, I remain cancer-free. I know too many people for whom that's not true. And as we enter 2008, I look forward to another year of success and another year of love, and another year free from the C word.

I wish all of you much health and success in 2008.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas

May all your Christmas wishes come true. Have a great holiday and a wonderful 2008! Love, Brynn

Friday, December 21, 2007

Swimming With the Sharks

This is The Legend of the Pens (actually true, so I guess it’s not much of a legend... yet). It was on one of my old blogs three years ago.

It was a day much like any other day since I’d started working there, back before I’d lost my innocence and I still believed I could get along with all six of my co-workers. Hey, I believed in Santa once too.

We had a meeting every morning. It was a stupid meeting where nothing was ever accomplished. Often we'd listen to three of the attendees talk about their grandchildren. One of them was the boss, so what could you do? I doodled in my notebook quite a bit.

Anyhoo... the meeting... I'd gotten there a little early and realized that I’d left my report at my desk, so I dropped my notebook and pen on the table and ran across the hall to get the paperwork. It's dumb but the pen I'd left was my favorite pen of the moment which meant it wrote well and I'd use it for everything until the ink died. I’d picked it up during my business trip to California and had been using it ever since. It was nothing special, I just liked the way it wrote.

When I returned to the conference room, my notebook sat in its place, my pen however was nowhere to be found. I shifted my stuff around and looked on the floor, thinking I’d dropped it. Nothing. “Where’s my pen?” I muttered to myself. My coworker, Kari, smiled and leaned back in her chair. Kari, the bitch princess, was--and probably still is--evil. I believe the devil is her mother. I know, because I worked with her mother too.

“It was mine,” said the bitch-princess.

Excuse me!!!! What??

“I brought it back with me from California,” I said, incredulous. Okay, not only is Kari the devil’s spawn but she’s not so bright either. My boss had once tried to soothe me by saying she couldn’t ever get anyone to do the job Kari did for what she paid her. That didn’t make me feel much better. I suspected my boss couldn’t get anyone to do MY job for what they paid me.

Irritated, I continued, “It’s my pen.”

Kari smirked. “All the pens like that are mine.”

“Whatever,” I sighed in disgust. That lunch hour I went out and bought four boxes of those same pens from Office Depot. And then...

All the pens like that were mine.

Featured Author

Today I'm over at Kelly Kirch's awesome blogspot answering her questions. Check it out!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jumping the Gun

Okay, so yeah, you do still have until tomorrow at midnight being that today is the 20th... Hey, I never claimed to be a time-amatician or a date-amatician either. I'm just a lowly word warrior.


The Last Day!!

Today's the last day of the 12 Days of Romance contest. The deadline for sending in entries is December 21st. Midnight. Enter by then or turn into a pumpkin!! Wait, wrong story. Anyway...

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners.

The prizes : 1st prize—6 books, 2nd prize—4 books, 3rd prize—2 books. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Here are the authors whose books are being offered as prizes. Check out their sites to find the answers. (By the way... my true love gave me 10 Fabulous Fantasies)

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves


Wednesday, December 19, 2007


My latest book Redemption: Fallen was released on Monday from Total-e-bound. The second book in that series will be released February 11, with Noah, a character from Fallen, making a return appearance. This time he's the hero and here's what it's about:

Incubus by Brynn Paulin

Valentine Jones: Writer, healer, recluse…love slave?

When Val had a cyber one-night-stand with Master Noah she had no idea he’d keep coming back for more. She can hardly complain since he delivers more pleasure than she can imagine. That is until the night he terrifies Val with his knowledge of her and she cuts off all communication.

Noah can’t allow her desertion. Once a human, he became an incubus to save a friend. Now the monster within him seeks sexual energy. Val’s sexual energy. Until she ended their connection, Noah had been able to safely siphon sustenance from her pleasure through their internet liaisons but when she cuts off their interaction, the incubus inside Noah gives him no choice. He’s forced to claim her. Immediately. He only hopes to find a way to save her before it’s too late because the incubus is never sated. It will suck away Val’s sexual energy until there’s nothing left to give…but death.

Excerpt (unedited):

Valentine Jones hated her name almost as much as she hated Valentine’s Day. The jokes swung around like clockwork—just like the day. “Hey Val, going to send yourself to someone this year?”

It was a stupid taunt. But someone, usually an obnoxious guy, had asked her the same thing every year since she’d been in grade school. It was always followed with a question of whether or not she planned to hook-up with Cupid this year. As if! She was more likely to shoot the little bastard with the gun hidden in her closet than she was to let him within fifty feet of her. And judging from the lack of lovers in her life, she was a far better shot than he was. That little bugger was dead meat.

She wasn’t hooking up with Cupid or any other man who might end up on her doorstep.

Val preferred her men digital and far away. She glanced at her computer screen.

Like this one.

Licking the cream from the centre of an Oreo, she surveyed the chat text scrolling across the screen from tonight’s on-screen lover. She was the queen of one-night-cyber-stands, but hey, she got off on it and she didn’t have to worry about a jerk or an STD in the morning.

But this guy, Master Noah, was an anomaly. He refused to be a one-night stand. She’d met him a month ago and didn’t know him by more than his screen moniker, yet he made her hotter than any flesh-and-blood-and-naked in her living room man ever had.

Still, he fit her profile for the ideal man. Although he was an American, he was far away—across the ocean in England. Perfect. The thought of one of her cyber lover’s visiting her sent a shudder down her spine. Hermit wasn’t her middle name for nothing.

Well, it wasn’t. But it should be.

She didn’t want any live-and-in-person encounters. She’d been burned once too often by the dating circuit. Burned and hurt…

She wanted digital only. Master Noah was certainly digital. He manipulated computer systems as easily as he manipulated her system. No matter how many times she vowed this was the last night, she wouldn’t cyber-screw him again, he enticed her into one more encounter. No matter how many times she’d avoided the places where they’d met, he found her. Over and over, he popped up and made her break her never-again promise.

“How do you keep finding me?” she typed. He’d found her even when she used different user IDs. And today her instant message system popped up with a message from him and she was sure she hadn’t turned it on.

“IP address.”

Was that possible? She’d never heard of that. What would she know? She wasn’t exactly the computer master of the Western World.

“What are you wearing?” he asked.

That was quick. He usually talked more before he dove right into it. Considering tomorrow was Valentines she’d expected more hearts and flowers. Not that she was all that into mush and romance—it was all over-rated. Master Noah seemed to think so too since he wasn’t bothering with preliminaries today. A sense of desperation vibrated through their cyber connection.

“Is everything okay?” she asked.

“What are you wearing?” he repeated.

Her breathing quickened as the desperation grabbed her again. She glanced down at her clothes as her belly clenched and her panties grew damp. Damn. How did he do that?

“Red negligee,” she lied. “Low cut with tiny straps.”

“No you’re not.”

“What?” she typed in shock.

“You’re wearing…”

Biting her lip, she stared at the words, waiting.

“Sweat pants and an over-sized green T-shirt,” he finished.

Her heart nearly sailed from her chest. She glanced down at her baggy green tee and grey sweat pants. How could he know that? Completely freaked out, she frantically glanced around, noting that all the windows were covered. Jumping up, she checked the doors, finding them locked.

Maybe it was a lucky guess. He’d never done this before. She’d never felt threatened. She paused at the wild fluttering in her belly. Her arms crossed her middle as she realized she didn’t feel terribly threatened now. What kind of idiot are you? You’re excited.

Obviously she needed to get out more. Her mercy date with Greg, her ex, tomorrow might be more beneficial to her than she’d ever thought when she’d grudgingly conceded to go out with him. A night out in the real world and away from Master Noah would do her good. Greg would at least bring her chocolate before he unsuccessfully tried to get her in bed.

“Take them off” scrolled across the screen in large letters when she returned.


“Do you want to be punished?”

Obviously, her body thought it was a great idea. Her pussy throbbed for him, though at best it would get nothing more than her fingers. It didn’t matter that she had never been into BDSM. He’d convinced her otherwise. She actually craved the feeling of his hand—the real thing—on her ass. Not happening, she reminded her body.

Master Noah could track her all he wanted on the net. There was no way she’d meet him in person. And as much as he excited her, he’d just scared her well enough that she was done. Period. Done.

“Goodbye,” she typed.

“Val, don’t,” he ordered.

Resolutely, she shut down her internet and then her computer. For good measure, she removed her internet connection.

Apparently, cyber sex wasn’t as safe as she’d thought.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Michigan for Dakota

I got the go ahead to share my new book cover today. It's for Incubus, book two in the Redemption series. Blurb and excerpt tomorrow.

And now, a special feature for Dakota:


*If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Michigan.

*If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Pellston is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Michigan.

*If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Michigan.

*If you instinctively walk like a penguin for five months out of the year, you might live in Michigan.

*If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in Michigan.

*If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Michigan.

*If you have worn shorts and a coat at the same time, you might live in Michigan. (OMG I HAVE done this)

*If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Michigan.

*If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Michigan.

You know you're a true MICHIGANDER when:

1. "Vacation" means going up north on I-75 or US-131.

2. You measure distance in hours.

3. You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

4. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.

5. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

6. You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings).

7. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

8. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them.

9. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

10. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

11. You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

12. You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

13. Down South to you means Ohio.

14. A brat is something you eat.

15. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole barn.

16. You can go out to fish fry every Friday.

17. Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

18. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

19. You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."

20. You drink pop and bake with soda.

21. Your doctor tells you to drink Vernor's and you know it's not medicine.

22. You know what a Yooper is.

23. You know that UP is a place, not a direction

24. You know it's possible to live in a thumb.

25. You understand that when visiting Detroit , the best thing to wear is a Kevlar vest.


60 above zero
Floridians turn on the heat.
People in Michigan plant gardens.

50 above zero
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Michigan sunbathe.

40 above zero
Italian & English cars won't start.
People in Michigan drive with the windows down.

32 above zero
Distilled water freezes.
The water in Lake Michigan gets thicker.

20 above zero
Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
People in Michigan throw on a flannel shirt.

15 above zero
New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Michigan have the last cookout before it gets cold.

People in Miami all die.
Michiganders close the windows.

10 below zero
Californians fly away to Mexico.
People in Michigan get out their winter coats.

25 below zero
Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Michigan are selling cookies door to door.

40 below zero
Washington DC runs out of hot air.
People in Michigan let the dogs sleep indoors.

100 below zero
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
People in Michigan start saying..."Cold enough fer ya?"

500 below zero
Hell freezes over.
Michigan public schools will open 2 hours late.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Scroll down for the contest details.

Fallen is available today at Total-e-bound!!!!!

In all eternity Raphian never desired anyone more than Lissa Chase. As her guardian angel, he couldn’t touch her. Or shouldn’t have. Taunted by demons, he succumbed. One forbidden night in Lissa’s arms was everything he’d imagined it would be. And it condemned him, casting him to earth.

Lissa is stunned when the stranger from last night’s erotic dreams walks into her life to pick up where the dreams had left off. When she discovers last night was reality, she’s thrust into a battle of good and evil. While she decides if she can allow Raphian into her life, every demon in the vicinity is after the fallen angel to bring him fully to their side—even if it means using the woman he loves as bait.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oh Christmas Palm...

Well, at the insistence of the family, the Christmas tree went up, but if I had to put it up, I insisted that it be my way. Nothing epitomises Christmas dreams and wishes like a Christmas palm. Like they had evergreens in Bethlehem anyway. It’s perfect. It doesn’t sprawl like a “normal” tree and therefore doesn’t take up much space. It fits me and the kids think it’s the best tree ever. My husband just thinks I’m crazy, but he’s amused.

After the kid’s Christmas…oops…holiday…oops…winter program, I think I’m entitled to my eccentricities. We were treated to songs like the Penguin Polka, Turkey Woogie, and Mashed Potatoes. The only song I knew was Spin the Dreidel which is saying something since I’m protestant. I understand (don’t read agree) the whole separation mentality of church and school, but for Pete’s sake…what’s wrong with Deck the Halls or Jingle Bells. Anyone want to guess what Turkey Woogie is? The Kindergarteners were singing it. Words were pretty much optional. Hey, they were cute. By the way, the school covered Hanukkah and Kwanzaa but Christmas and Solstice were left out. Christians and Pagans on the same ground again. Who’d have thought… well, lots of people...

While I have the camera out…this is Dogbert, AKA Nixie. She answers to both names and is the best behaved dog ever. Except when people come over. Then she becomes The Wild Dog for about two minutes. Seven years and I can’t train that out of her. We’ve had her since she was 4 weeks old. A rescue dog. She honestly thinks I’m her mama. For the first few weeks, she spent all the time I wasn’t at work and she wasn’t in the yard nestled in the crook of my arm. Of course back then she was as big as her head is now. These days she spends a great deal of time sleeping on my feet.

The food didn’t lure out my true love…sigh. I give up. Maybe I didn’t make the list this year. Well, wait…I’m pretty sure I’m at least on the naughty list! Check out these fine authors and see whose sweetie brought them something. Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. Deadline for answers is December 21st at midnight EST.

There will be three lucky winners.The prizes : 1st prize—6 books, 2nd prize—4 books, 3rd prize—2 books. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Still Not Me...

I'm afraid perhaps my true love has forgotten about me... Check out the other authors to see who's true love is on his toes. Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. Deadline for answers is December 21st at midnight EST.

There will be three lucky winners.The prizes : 1st prize—6 books, 2nd prize—4 books, 3rd prize—2 books. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
The authors and books being offered as prizes:
Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

In an effort to catch my true love's attention I decided to cook him something today. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right.

Today's recipe: Rice Lasagna (yummy).

1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
32 ounces spaghetti sauce
2 large egg whites
16 ounces cottage cheese
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fat-free Parmesan cheese

Cook rice according to package directions. Reserve. Spray a 13"x9" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350*. In a skillet, brown ground beef. Add onions and green peppers; cook until onions and peppers begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add spaghetti sauce. Beat egg whites slightly in a medium bowl. Stir in cottage cheese and mozzarella. Spread 1/2 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of baking dish. Spoon 1/2 of the rice evenly over sauce; top with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle top with Parmesan. Bake for 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Friday, December 14, 2007

12 Days of Romance

It's not me.

Scroll down and check out the authors. One of them received a gift from their true love today. Have fun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sweeney Todd!!!

There was Johnny Depp. There was Helena Bonham Carter. There was Alan Rickman. There was Sacha Baron Cohen. There was lots and lots of blood—and yes I was a wuss and squinched away whenever I knew it was coming. Oh yeah, and there was Johnny’s butt in those wonderful pants…while climbing stairs. I need a screen shot of that cell of film.

Now, if musicals aren’t for you, this film will be like listening to cats stuck in a bagpipe. I like musicals, and since I didn’t know much about the movie going in to it, I was delightfully surprised. Though I’d never seen Sweeney Todd, I knew it was a musical, but I thought perhaps this might be an adaptation of the story—without music.

And Depp can sing. He’s actually got a pretty nice voice. So does Alan Rickman. So yeah, I was in seven shades of glory to find he’s in the movie. Rickman could sing to me for a year and I wouldn’t get bored. His voice is better than ‘pretty nice’. Helena Bonham Carter did well too. The others were a little too operatic for me…but hey, that’s just not my thing. Since most of the singing is Depp, Rickman and Bonham Carter I didn’t mind in the least.

Now, if you like romance…you might be utterly enthralled with what I’d call a demented romance. As a romantic, I understood a love so deep it would turn someone a bit mad with revenge. And oh the revenge. Lots and lots of it.

And if you like horror…Have I mentioned the abundance of blood? Buckets even.

I get bored easily, but there was never a time in the showing that I wondered how much longer it would go. It does keep you enthralled. How could it not? Tim Burton directed. And he had a cast of great method actors. All three of the leads have an ability to become whatever character they’re playing. This wasn’t Johnny Depp whiling away a few hours reciting lines from a script. He was Sweeney Todd. I like that about him. Yeah, there’s a little ‘Jack’ in everyone he portrays, but I think maybe that little bit of Jack is actually a little of Depp. Helena Bonham Carter ranged from hysterically funny to serious and back to a little crazy. I loved her character. That said, I sure could have used a lot more Alan Rickman. He played the bad guy without being over the top. And well, I’m not gonna lie. I happen to be a little in love with him.

Okay, overall…it’s dark. It’s bloody. It’s not really a “feel good” movie, but you don’t walk away bawling about the outcome either. Good acting. Nice cinematography. Even a bit funny. Do NOT take the kids. Take your sweetie or your best friends like I did, and have fun. Enjoy Johnny's butt in those pants and Alan Rickman's divine voice.

The three friends who saw this movie with me are reviewing the film as well. Check them out for an even fuller picture:

12 Days of Romance: Check and see who received a gift today!!
Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

But My Brain's Not Tired at All

So…today, I’m tired as all get out. I pulled an all-nighter to finish the project I was working. It's 10:30 and I've been working on it for 24 hours straight (minus an hour at the store last night). It’s on it’s way to the next step—out of my hands for a while. You know you’re in trouble when you brew a pot of coffee at 4 AM. At that point you know there will be no sleep tonight… I might take a nap in a little while. Sweeney Todd is tonight. Review tomorrow.

I was thrilled to get my first review for Fallen yesterday and the book isn’t out for a week yet. Yay! Thanks Novel Talk!! Here’s part of the review:

Brynn Paulin writes with an amazing flair that will captivate the reader. She has created a beautiful romance. Her characters are filled with an intense passion for one another and for defeating the evil forces that threaten them. FALLEN is an incredible story of good versus evil and the underestimated power of love. Since this is the first in a series, I look forward to more ‘redeeming’ tales from Ms. Paulin.

Here’s the whole review:

Unforgivable by Brynn Paulin (Part Five)

I worried about Ben, but I figured he’d moved to another church. Pastors go where God leads them. As a matter of fact, the minister at the church I now attended was about to retire. Retirement wouldn’t mean fishing and bouncing his grandchildren, though. He was going on mission to South America. Though I thought it might be a sin, I prayed Ben hadn’t been called to the mission field and that he was safe.

Tina’s husband, Greg, was on the board at church that was in charge of finding a new senior pastor. Tina called me one Saturday after I’d been back in town for a little over a year to tell me she thought the board had found the guy. He’d be preaching in a few weeks and the church would vote that afternoon. If the man accepted the money offered, we’d have a new pastor. Tina told me the only sticking point was that he was young and wasn’t married. The board had been looking for someone more established. When I asked the man’s name, she couldn’t remember, but promised to find out. She promptly forgot which is a very Tina thing to do and something that endears her to me. I didn’t ask her again. But a feeling of trepidation began to grow in me. What if it was Ben? What were the chances? We’d talked about Michigan before. He was from here.

It couldn’t be him.

Fate was working against me. I was sick the week before the guest minister would be speaking and I didn’t hear the announcement of who it would be. And of course, Tina was out of town that week, so she couldn’t tell me. I supposed I’d find out who it was when I got to service. I actually considered not going, but quickly told myself that was awfully dumb. When Tina and Greg arrived for me—I wasn’t driving yet—I dutifully marched out to the car. Granted my march was that of someone going to execution, but I went.

As soon as I was seat belted in I knew my fear had come to fruition. Greg was talking about the pastor. Ben Martin. I was worried, but even more so I was excited. That—surprised me, but the closer we got to church, the more I realized, I liked the person I’d become, and even if things hadn’t worked out between Ben and I, I wanted him to see that person.

Telling Tina and Greg that I’d see them after service, I sat in the back. Somehow, I knew if Ben saw me, it would distract him. I wanted to see him, but I didn’t want to mess up his chances for this job. I didn’t consider the consequences of what would happen if he were hired. I’d work that out later—I just knew this congregation would be lucky to have him.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him when he sat down up on the platform and I couldn’t shove how it had been in his arms from my thoughts either. The past year had aged him a little. His hair was cut differently—I liked it. There were new lines around his eyes. And when he started to speak…

The sound of his voice wove tightly around me. I don’t remember what he preached on. I was wrapped up in other thoughts. I loved him. Period. This was not mistakenly assigned emotion. I loved him. I was ready for that. I’d finally forgiven myself—not for the accident which wasn’t my fault, but for living. It was time to really start living again. I wanted that life to be with Ben.

Toward the end of his sermon, he broke off halfway through a sentence, his eyes glued on me. Then he looked away and picked up as if nothing had transpired. He didn’t glance my direction again.

My newly discovered love was hit hard. He didn’t feel the way I did. I was merely a bad memory from his past. Still, I knew I needed to speak to him. Somehow. At least, with him preaching here, Greg could get Ben’s contact information. I had to tell Ben thank you. I had to apologize. After that, I’d try to move on. I’d weathered pain before, I could do it again. This wasn’t death, it was only my heart.

Afterward, I hovered around outside the sanctuary while people greeted and talked to Ben. I wanted to soak in the sound of his voice a little longer. Maybe I could slip into a break of people and speak to him, tell him I wanted to talk to him.

“There you are,” Greg greeted me in his usual jovial manner, slinging an arm around my shoulder. It wasn’t an unusual gesture. He’d been doing it since tree-house days when we were eight. I glanced over my shoulder at Ben and saw him looking at me with a hint of pain in his eyes. He thought I was with Greg. “Have you met, Pastor Martin?” Greg asked, following my gaze. “I think he’s the one.” Ignoring my protests, he steered me over to Ben. “Pastor, good sermon,” he told him.

“Thank you,” Ben said. He smiled but still managed to look sad. Maybe I was the only one to notice. Greg didn’t. He gave me a one-armed squeeze. “I’d like to introduce you to Gaia Bell. She’s one of our Wednesday night teachers.”

Ben raised an eyebrow. “Really? How interesting. What are you teaching?”

Heat flooded over me. I wondered if he’d remember what I’d said to him before when I was anti-church. Greg wandered away to catch one of the board members, leaving me alone with Ben. Well, as alone as we could be with a room full of people clamoring to meet him. I thought to follow Greg, but Ben still waited for my reply. “A character study on Mary Magdalene,” I finally answered.

One side of his mouth briefly turned up, then fell. He did remember, but obviously didn’t want to. “A good choice. Well, Ms. Bell, I’m pleased to meet you.” His hands enveloped mine and my stomach clenched. He released my fingers and looked over my shoulder to the person standing behind me. I was effectively dismissed. What had I expected?

Normally, I go to dinner after church with Greg and Tina, but I begged off with a headache. Because of that, I was home when the knock came on my door. Ben. He didn’t let me speak. “If the congregation votes to hire me, will you run off again? Or maybe I should ask, how are you voting? To get me out of Dodge as fast as possible?”

“Please don’t be so bitter, Ben.” I pulled him inside and into the living room.

“How am I supposed to be?” he demanded. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw you out there today. I left the other church because of how they treated you—how I knew they’d treat others like you. I’d prayed to be able to talk to you again, make some sense out of what had happened between us. But when I saw you, all I could feel was the pain you dealt me before and the knowledge you didn’t want me in your life. For half a second, I wondered if I shouldn’t just stop speaking and walk out. If you don’t want me here, I won’t stay. I don’t want you to destroy my peace again.”

I hadn’t considered what I’d done to him. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. I couldn’t breathe. In protecting myself and in thinking I was protecting him, I’d hurt him more than I could imagine.

“Sorry?” he muttered in disbelief.

“Yes. I’m sorry. Can’t you give me some of the forgiveness and understanding you preach?”

It wouldn’t be so easy. He glared at me and turned to leave. I caught his arm. “Ben, wait.”

“Like you waited for me?” he snapped.

“That’s not fair. I left for you.” Guilt welled inside me. Yes, I’d left to save his reputation, but I’d been selfish, too.

“You left for me?” he scoffed. “I told you I loved you. I told you I wanted to marry you and you disappeared.”

I didn’t answer him. I couldn’t. There could be no more excuses and he knew I was sorry. He could never know how sorry. He turned to leave again, and I realized he must have thought I wanted him to go while in reality, I was warring with my pride. I had to tell him how I felt, but I was afraid of it being thrown back at me. I caught his arm again.

“Ben,” I choked out, looking at him with all the love I felt. “I’d vote…to keep you here. And,” I took a deep breath. “I’d stay.”

He shook his head as if he couldn’t believe what I was saying. “Why? What’s different now?”

“I am. I’m not unforgivable—”

“You never were,” he interrupted.

“– and I love you.”

His eyes closed as if he breathed a prayer. Suddenly, he caught me up against him and kissed me the way I so loved, the way that stole my thoughts, the way that turned my knees to gelatin. One thought managed to get through as he dropped kisses on my face and told me how much he loved me and how thankful he was to finally be with me. “You have to go!” I managed to get out between kisses.

He pulled away and stared at me in disbelief. “What? But—”

“I don’t want anything—even love—to jeopardize your chances of getting this job.” But I knew if he wasn’t hired, it would be okay. I’d go with him wherever he went.

Ben did get the job, and to the delight and surprise of the congregation, he immediately introduced me as his fiancée. We were married a respectable six months later. Our congregation is very much our family. Like doting grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, they’re eagerly awaiting the birth of our first child.

I’m scared. I’m so afraid all my happiness will be snatched away again. That’s just one of my demons, but Ben’s helping me face all those—including finally driving again. As hard as it is to get over my past, I know I’m blest. All I have to do is look at my husband or feel my baby kick and I know it.

Be sure to scroll down and check out the 12 Days of Romance info. Find out who has today!

Have a great day. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Let There Be Ice…NOT!

I like ice in my drinks, not on my car.

I like ice in rinks, not on the road.

I like watching skating, but not skating…in my car.

See a theme?

I made an executive decision this morning and kept my kids home from school. It’s nasty ice outside and more is coming. I almost careened into another car when I did have to go out. Not cool. In the meanwhile, my internet connection is spotty too. I’m writing this post in Word and will try to post it in a bit. I’m trying to determine which of my emails went out last night so I can resend if need be. At least we still have power.

I'm so excited for tomorrow. This morning, my husband handed me sneak preview tickets for a movie tomorrow. He has to work, so I get to take my BFF Bronwyn with me. It's not my usual genre, but Depp trumps all on this one. So tomorrow night I'll be watching Sweeney Todd and ogling Johnny Depp. Sigh... My husband sure loves me.

Unforgivable by Brynn Paulin (Part Four)

The service had already started by the time I got to the small church. I stood outside the sanctuary listening. Ben’s clear, deep voice over the sound system wrapped around me like a warm blanket of comfort. I just stood there until one of the ushers got brave and headed for me. Afraid he’d offer to pray with me or something, I slipped inside and slouched down into the back pew. Even sitting that way, I knew Ben would see me—the congregation gathered there was too small for him to have missed me.

It would have been too much of a story book coincidence if Ben had been speaking on forgiveness. He wasn’t. He was preaching on God’s love. Priceless. God being there always for us. His joy in us. His pain for our pain. Suddenly, I wondered if maybe, just maybe, God could love me. I decided I’d ask Ben more about it that night. As if he’d sensed my thought, he caught my eye and smiled.

I floated back out to the entryway after the service, only to plummet violently back to earth. “Did you see the way the Pastor looked at her? What is she doing here?” I heard.

Gaia. The sinner. What was I doing there?

I didn’t look for Ben, although I knew he’d want to talk to me. I left the church right away and walked the few blocks to our apartment building. Fitting for my mood, it started to rain along the way. I didn’t think much about what I was doing. I only knew I had to be on my way before I ruined his career.

Since the apartments are furnished and I didn’t have many belongings—anything personal was in a storage unit in my hometown—I had completely packed my things in forty-five minutes. A note and a check to my landlord for the mess in my apartment and I was on my way without looking back.

I knew from experience, that Ben wouldn’t be home from the church for another hour. By then I’d be long gone. I got into the cab feeling both cowardly and brave.

I was doing the right thing.

I’d send Ben a letter and explain later.

I didn’t know where I was going when I walked out of the apartment building that day. My conversation with Ben played in my head as the cab driver took me to the airport. With the settlement money from the accident, I could go anywhere I wanted. By the time, the car pulled into airport’s drop-off lane, I knew where I needed to go. I needed to face my demons. I was going back home to Michigan.

I wrote a letter to Ben on the flight. My seatmate probably thought I was having a nervous break-down from all the crying. I didn’t stop until after I’d gotten to my parent’s home. And then a new round of tears began.

My hometown hadn’t changed in the year I’d been gone. Like the town I’d just left, it was small and everyone knew everyone else’s business. Within three hours of my arrival, my closest friend, Tina, was on my doorstep. She didn’t say a word, just hugged me. Her silent acceptance reminded me so much of Ben I almost started to bawl. I didn’t, but I made the decision then and there that I was staying. I was getting my life back in order.

I did somewhat do that, too. There was no alcohol in the house—my parents weren’t big drinkers—and I decided I wouldn’t buy any. I’d rarely imbibed prior to the accident. I could do it now. Of course, I’d underestimated the pull the booze had on my body. I still craved it.

I spent some endless nights, wrapped in the comforter from my parent’s bed, wishing for a drink, wishing for Ben. I called him one night in the middle of it. He begged me to tell him where I was, told me he’d come and get me. I told him I needed time. I needed to get my life together, that I’d given up the drinking but it was unbelievably hard. He suggested AA, but I told him I couldn’t. I didn’t want anyone from my town to know how far I’d fallen. I didn’t want to tarnish my haven anymore than it already was with the death of my family. Then as calmly as I could, I told him what had happened at his church.

I don’t think I have ever heard such an expletive come from Ben’s mouth. He tried to convince me that it was only that pair of women, but both of us knew that wasn’t true. There was heart-wrenching resignation in his voice when he suggested I check into support groups in nearby cities and perhaps seeing a therapist to help me through my pain.

The sense of finality when he disconnected ripped at me, but I kept telling myself, this was better for him. I was doing this for him. I didn’t feel any better. How easy it would have been for me to get on a plane and go back to him. How tragic it would have been when the people of his church rejected him because of me. I couldn’t risk it. I couldn’t risk assigning any out of place emotions to him. At another time, Ben and I might have worked, but I had too much to dredge through before I could commit to a relationship with anyone.

I did start therapy. The therapist managed to get me hooked up with an on-line support group and a mentor who checked on me. And somehow, about three months after I’d been going to sessions, he managed to get me to see that the accident wasn’t my fault. It opened an entire venue of pain and anger I hadn’t yet explored. Slowly, I started to recover.

The hole in my heart from my family started to mend, and while I’d never fully heal from their loss, I knew they’d always be with me. There was still an emptiness I couldn’t fill. In an effort to help me, Tina, who was the only one beside Ben and my therapist to know the extent of my struggles, invited me to church. I put her off for several weeks. I couldn’t forget what had happened at Ben’s church. Tina didn’t know about that, and she didn’t know about Ben.

Finally, she persuaded me. Or should I say, coerced me. She showed up at my house two hours before service started and announced it was Friend Day at church. “You don’t want everyone to think I have no friends, do you?” she teased. I folded even though I knew no one would think that. Low and behold, that day Tina’s pastor was preaching on God’s love—not an uncommon topic, I mean it is a Christian church, but I felt like God was trying to get a message to me. And this time, I listened. I started attending more and more. Until one Sunday morning, I couldn’t shut out the call anymore and I opened my heart. God settled right into that empty space in my chest.
I was so excited. I wanted to share what I’d found with someone, and I knew the only one who could fully appreciate it was Ben. That afternoon, I tried to call him. His phone number had been disconnected. It stumped me, but I figured he’d changed it for some reason. Maybe he’d moved to another apartment. I knew Monday was his day off, so I tried to call him at the church office Tuesday morning. I could nearly feel the frost across the line when the secretary informed me that Pastor Martin was no longer at their church. She couldn’t—or wouldn’t—tell me where he’d gone.

Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press.

Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. Deadline for answers is December 21st at midnight EST.There will be three lucky winners.

The prizes : 1st prize—6 books, 2nd prize—4 books, 3rd prize—2 books. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.The authors and books be offered as prizes:

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Monday, December 10, 2007

Eggnog for Fun and Pleasure

My husband has apparently been reading my romance novels and I’m benefiting from it. Well, I should clarify… Not my book, but a book I own. And there’s no "apparently" about it. He told me that he’d read the one I’d left in the bathroom and it had given him some good ideas. All I’m gonna say is, it was fun but I might have a topical allergy to eggnog. Which is interesting because I like to drink it and have never had a reaction. But the fun kept me from going to church—not that I was inclined to go. I’d just woken from a rather explicit dream in which I was having sex in the back of church during the service. Bad. Very bad. Staying home seemed a good option.

I’d like to point out, I don’t have some sort of church hang-up despite the above and a lot of the theme for the story I’m sharing below. It’s a coincidence. The story I’m sharing actually came to me in flashes when I heard a particular song on the radio. The same flashes. Every time. They refused to leave until I wrote the story and explained Gaia.

Unforgivable by Brynn Paulin (Part Three)

When the shattering ceased, another started. Ben knelt before me, his knees bracketing mine. Taking my face in his hands he kissed me in that way he’d kissed me the day I’d refused to go out with him and every day since. When he pressed me backward into the carpet, I didn’t fight him—being with him was everything I’d wanted and everything I’d denied. But then, in my mind-numbed state, all my sensibilities fled. I could only act on my physical reactions. I let the stirrings he roused in my groin guide me and when he settled between my knees, I ground against him, letting him know with all certainty exactly what I wanted from him.

The night took on a dreamlike quality. Ben wasn’t drunk and he knew exactly what to do. All he wanted from me was to feel, and for those few hours, all I did was feel the love from this wonderful man. I forgot about my other pain. I knew Ben could be my new addiction.

When I woke the next morning, with a warm body pressed to my side, dread shot through me.

“What have I done?” The night came back to me in glorious clarity. I’d destroyed a man’s life if any one discovered this, that’s what I’d done. I vowed right then that I’d never drink again.
I closed my eyes and sighed, my lids flying open when Ben’s lips settled over mine. I let the pleasure sink over me for a moment before I pulled away. “What are we going to do?”

He hugged me tighter to him, and I felt every naked contour of his delicious body. “What are we going to do about ‘what?’”

“This. This should never have happened.”

“Yes, it should have.”

We laid there in a silent embrace for a while before Ben broke the silence. “So considering… um… everything, don’t you think maybe you should open up about what it is that eats you up every day.”

I stiffened and tried to get away but he held me tight, with no reaction what-so-ever to the swear word that spewed from my mouth. He just held me and waited.

“Last year…” I started, my words clogging in my throat. I could barely speak around the lump. My harsh breathing filled the quiet room. “Last year, on my parent’s anniversary, I took them out for the evening. My little sister went with us. We had a great time. I insisted on driving because, well, you know, I was treating them. This was their special day, I’d chauffeur them around…”

I heard Ben whisper God’s name behind me as he guessed where the story was going. I was on a roll now. I couldn’t stop, even when his arms tightened and his forehead pressed between my shoulder blades.

“We were on our way home. We were laughing and joking about something that had happened at dinner. At the intersection before our subdivision—” My voice broke and I could feel my chest closing as I relived the panic and terror of that moment again. I hadn’t so much as spoken any of their names since then.

“Don’t,” Ben urged, gently stroking me, trying to calm me.

But I started speaking. I couldn’t stop, not now. “The intersection is strange. The busier street crosses at a diagonal. There was a semi-truck. The way he hit us—it crushed the front passenger seat. The backseat.” The sobs echoing in the room didn’t even seem human. “My sister, my mom and dad. It didn’t touch me. Everyone says the driver ran the light. All the witnesses. He says he didn’t. I think it was green… I don’t remember.” I buried my face in my pillow. “I just don’t remember.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

I couldn’t answer. How many people had told me that? How many of them had been driving the car when their family was slaughtered? How many of them knew what it was like for the entire night out to have been their idea, tragedy the only unplanned event? How many of them were instrumental in eliminating their family in one fell swoop? Even if it was supposedly not their fault?

I couldn’t believe that I’d ever come to terms with the fact that I’d been driving. I’d dragged them all out to dinner—my mom had wanted to make pot roast, but I’d insisted on treating them…

“They’re not the only victims,” Ben whispered into my hair, still holding and stroking me.
“You’re just as much a victim, if not more so—”

“Don’t you dare tell me they’re in a better place!”

He sighed, ruffling the hair at the back of my neck. “I wouldn’t, even if that’s what I thought. What I mean is: You were the one left behind. You were the one who can’t forgive herself. You are the one who’s facing this all alone.”

“I’m alive and they’re not.”

“A gift wrapped in tragedy. There’s a reason. I don’t know what it is—neither of us might truly ever know—but there’s a reason. Some reason. Your purpose.”

“Purpose?” I scoffed. “More like a great big mistake.” Ben tried to convince me, but I couldn’t buy his philosophy or his gentle acceptance or his insistence that I needed to forgive myself for living and that was the only forgiveness needed. Finally, I couldn’t take it any more and I just pulled the blankets over my head. Grudgingly, I told him I’d think about it. Really, I wanted to search out the nearest liquor store. But when I’d chosen a place to run away to, I’d made a poor decision. This county was dry on Sunday—which meant that they didn’t sell alcohol on “the day of the Lord.”

“You’re not alone anymore, Gaia. Someday, when you’re ready, I want to marry you.”

I laughed hysterically, and I know if he’d been a lesser man, and less understanding, it would have hurt his feelings. “Why not?” he asked, interpreting my laugh.

“Me a pastor’s wife. God no! I’m not for you.”

“You are. Do you know how long I’ve loved you?”

If I hadn’t been cried out, I probably would have started crying again. My eyes burned from crying too much. I loved him, but I couldn’t have him. The alcoholic and the preacher. Priceless. “No Ben. I couldn’t do that to you.”


“No,” I cut him off. “Ben. Just leave. Please.”

I expected him to protest, but to my relief, he got out of the bed and started to get dressed. “I have to get to the church, anyway. You know, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what you think you’ve done. You’re not unforgivable. I know you don’t want to hear it, but Jesus hung out with some of the biggest sinners there were. So I guess it would be okay for a sinner like me to be with a sinner like you.”

I pulled the blanket tighter around me. His hands bracket my head and he found my lips through the fabric and gave me a quick kiss. “I’m not giving up on you. If you decide to take a chance on me, the service starts at ten. Don’t worry, I won’t make you stand up and give a testimony.”

“I’m sorry,” I muttered as I heard him leave. There was no way I was setting foot in a church. God had no use for me and I certainly had no use for him. He’d thrown up the wall between us the day he’d taken my family. If only Ben didn’t play for the holy roller team. What had I been thinking? A preacher and an alcoholic, I scoffed to myself again, the analogy of the bird and fish going through my mind. We could fall in love, but where would we live. I’d never be accepted in his life—not in this community. And for all his platitudes, he couldn’t accept my pain, what I’d done. And I didn’t want to taint him with it.

But as much as God had thrown up the wall, Ben had thrown down a gauntlet that morning. If you’re willing to take a chance on us…

Climbing out of bed, I went to closet and pulled out the demur yellow sundress. I laid it across the rumpled covers before I showered. I’d go listen to Ben preach.
I’d figure out a way to tell him goodbye. Maybe God would give me the words and the strength. What a joke.

I am not the third day of the 12 Days of Romance, but keep looking... Here are the great authors:

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves
Good Luck!!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Story, A Review and A Contest went to a bar...

Today is day two of the 12 Days of Romance. Don't forget to check for whose true love gave them something special today.


Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan's Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy's Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

Joyfully Reviewed has reviewed On Your Knees. This is what they had to say:

On Your Knees was just the right blend of BDSM and tenderness. Ryan Cress was alpha to the core and I loved how he handled Jessica and all her blunder and innocence. His working of Jessica the way she wanted was perfect for her to explore the BDSM lifestyle. Jessica knew that she craved to submit and was aroused by it but it took Ryan’s expertly wielded hands to make her desire it forever. All in all, On Your Knees was hot enough to melt chocolate. I raise my flogger high for Brynn Paulin on this wonderfully written and totally wicked release.

For the full review, click HERE.

Unforgivable by Brynn Paulin (Part Two)

Quarter to five found me in a pair of hip-hugger jeans and a belly shirt that nicely displayed my pierced navel. I would have worn the cute yellow sundress in the back of my closet for dinner with Ben, but since I wasn’t…

Ben must have sensed my decision, because he came looking for me, just before I split for the night and found some quiet bar to hide in. He didn’t disguise his interest in my piercing when I answered the door. His eyes had darkened slightly when he finally managed to get his gaze to meet mine. “Dinner will be ready in a few minutes… I thought you might like to come over for a drink before hand. Non-alcoholic,” he added quickly. “A cola or something.”

“No alcohol? I don’t know…might poison my system.” I turned more serious. “Look, Ben…”

He grabbed my hand. “C’mon.”

He could cook, and he didn’t preach at me one time. Matter of fact, he was fun and he treated me like a real and valuable person. It was more than I was willing to do for myself. That night was the first of many dates—walks by the lake, late night dinners after his endless committee meetings, quietly watching a movie in one of our places… We talked a lot and every date ended with one hot kiss at my door. He never pushed for more and never settled for less.

Still, I suspected everything he did. What could he possibly want with someone like me? I knew he wanted to know more about my past, but I didn’t share. I knew he hated it when I drank. I tried to cut back. I didn’t drink around him. But I didn’t stop. I knew the day was coming…

I was going to need to get raging drunk when it arrived.

We’d been dating for three months, when the day I’d dreaded dawned. The pressure of the anniversary had been building for days, weighing me down to the point where I could barely get out of bed in the morning. That morning, I drank most of a six pack before I rolled from the covers. I spent the majority of the day sitting in a chair, staring at a blank wall and hearing the screams of my family as the semi bore down on our car.

When I started seeing their lifeless faces, I switched to whiskey. I didn’t bother with a glass. Straight from the bottle would drown out the impossibility of my walking away without a scratch while they’d all been killed. Nothing would ever erase my guilt.

I’d been driving.

Despite the proof that the truck driver had been at fault for the accident, I couldn’t release the guilt. The huge settlement I’d received for the accident only amplified the feeling. I should have been able to do something. I should have been able to avoid the truck even though it was bearing down on us so quickly. I shouldn’t have lived.

Even being drunk out of my mind, I remember the night of the accident’s anniversary with nightmarish clarity. I ignored the knocks on my door the first two times they came. The third time, Ben started calling my name. His frantic voice cut through my numbed mind. I didn’t hear his voice. I heard voices and cries from my past.

Ben broke into my apartment. He found me curled in a ball in front of the couch. I barely saw him when he knelt beside me. I didn’t miss the recoil from the air of whiskey around me—or maybe I’d switched to tequila by then, I don’t remember.

“Gaia, what have you done?” he whispered. Through a haze, I realized he was wearing a suit. I vaguely remembered I was supposed to go with him to some children’s charity benefit. The first time we’d be seen formally in public as a couple. I told him to go without me.

He shook his head. “If you didn’t want to go, you could have just told me. I would have understood.” He straightened to his feet, reminding me of some towering, unforgiving god. He gestured impatiently with his hand. “This. This I don’t understand.”

“It’s not about some dumb benefit,” I snapped. I struggled to my feet and shuffled a couple yards from him.

“Then what is it?”

“You’ll never understand. You couldn’t.”

“Getting drunk? Whatever your problems are? Why don’t you talk to me about it? See if I understand. You’re not going to tell me anything I haven’t heard before. Gaia, please. Let me help you. Let God help you. Alcohol isn’t the answer.”

“God?” I scoffed. “What would God want with me?” I deliberately scooped up a partial bottle of beer. “Is this the opportunity you’ve been waiting for? The opportunity to preach at me? If it is, you can just leave. Know what? Just leave anyway.”

He started to protest, then closed his mouth shaking his head, and to my horror he did leave. I wasn’t surprised. Despite what I’d been feeling during our times together, I wasn’t worth his effort. I wasn’t deserving of his kindness.

Tears blinded me as I stumbled to the kitchen to find something else to drink. If I died from alcohol poisoning, I didn’t care. Bottles clicked against one another as I rifled through my well-stocked cupboard for the strongest booze I had. My supply was dwindling, and I hadn’t restocked much while I’d been with Ben.

I was so intent on my sorrow—new and old—I didn’t hear Ben’s return. “What are you doing Gaia? Why are you doing this to yourself?”

“Oh look, Jesus-man returns,” I scoffed.

“Don’t call me that.”

“It’s who you are.”

“It’s not everything I am, and you know it.” He swore under his breath, something that made me giggle in horrible out of control spasms I couldn’t control. The anger on his face ground the reaction to a halt. “I don’t know why I bother. You’re drunk.”

“Yeah, a drunk. Not worth your time.” I ran a hand over the array of bottles, rattling them. “So, unless you can turn water into wine, get out of here. I don’t need you either!”

Ben flinched. He turned away. I thought he was leaving until he slammed his hand into the counter. “What do you want from me? You want me to say this is okay? You want me to stand by while you destroy your life? You want me to drink with you?”

Grabbing up a bottle, he violently twisted off the cap and chugged down several gulps, sputtering slightly as it burned down his throat. Undeterred, he grabbed another bottle. He watched me over the top of the it as he slowly drank. My toes curled into the carpet at the hunger and turmoil in those eyes. His look reminded me of everything I’d wanted from him, everything I’d fooled myself into thinking might happen, everything he needed to give the important woman who’d someday come into his life.

“Stop, Ben, please stop,” I pleaded. Tears flooded down my cheeks. It was one thing for me to destroy myself as he said. It was another to drag him into it. I couldn’t watch him. “Stop!”
Suddenly, he hurled the bottle into the sink, it’s contents exploding up the wall in a spray of glass shards and amber liquid. “It ends here,” he growled. The rage radiating from him dared me to get in the way as bottle after bottle from the cupboard was dashed into the sink. The beer from the refrigerator followed, and God help me, I couldn’t move to stop him. I sank to the floor as weak as if the booze was the very life blood that had kept me alive.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Today's the Day!!!

Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.

Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. There will be three lucky winners.

The prizes –1st prize--6 books

2nd prize--4 books

3rd prize--2 books

All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.


Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves

As part of the fun I will also be posting part of one of my previously published short stories, Unforgivable, everyday for the next five days. I hope you enjoy it.

Unforgivable by Brynn Paulin (Part One)

I was a little hung over the day I finally pushed him over the edge. In defiance to it being Sunday morning, I sat on my front porch, bare feet with red-painted toenails propped on the rail and a long-neck in my hand.

I could see his disapproval from half a block away. I sighed in disgust. “Geez, here comes Jesus-man again.” Rolling my eyes, I took a deliberate swig of my beer and crossed one, bare leg over the other. Leaning back, I closed my eyes and hoped—not prayed, I didn’t pray—he’d ignore me and move on to another lecture recipient. Not that I’d ever seen him lecture anyone—except me. I guess he saw me a special case. Mr. Holier-than-thou saw it as his heaven-given duty to make certain the citizens of that tiny Minnesota town walked the straight and narrow.

I knew my position thrust out my bikini-clad chest and displayed my ample assets. It wasn’t that I wanted to flaunt myself. It was only that I knew it bothered Reverend What-a-hunk Ben Martin. Not in a sexual way. God forbid!

“Gaia, I see we’re at it early today.”

I cracked open an eyelid. “You drinking, too, Ben?” I refused to call him pastor, though he was pastor to a nearby Protestant church. I didn’t know which one, and I wasn’t interested in finding out. If it wasn’t that he lived in the same building I did, I wouldn’t even know him.

He didn’t answer.

“What?” I demanded.

“Why do you do it? What’s hurting you so badly?”

Everything inside me clamped down—my defiance, my pain, my courage. I couldn’t talk about my demons, particularly not to him. “What do you want from me? Some great conversion? Don’t hold your breath, Jesus-man. I’m no Mary Magdalene.”

He shoved his hands in his pockets and gave me a half-smile. He shrugged. “And I’m no savior, so I guess we’re all good.”

I stared at him. “I don’t understand why you bother with me.”

He came forward and leaned his arms on the rail beside my feet. Self-consciously, I dropped them to the ground, but it didn’t deter him. “That’s the thing. You have no idea of your worth. You don’t see what everyone else sees.”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure they see a lonely drunk who doesn’t seem to have a job, but still manages to have plenty of money. You know what that means—I must be a prostitute.”

“No one thinks that.”

“Are you kidding? I’ve heard people say it.” I took another swig of my beer, acting as if I didn’t notice his wince. He sighed and stepped back from the railing.

“You know if you ever need to talk…about anything…I’ll be willing to listen.” He held up his hands and gave that half smile again. “No judgments.”

I made a disbelieving sound. He shook his head. “Well, you’ll know where to find me.”

“Yep, right across the hall. I try to keep my parties to a dull roar. Not disturb you…” I knew none of my parties had ever disturbed him. I never had any. I never had friends over. I didn’t have any in this town. Besides, the people who took my money for bills, gas or groceries, no one talked to me. Except Ben. And I was bent on pushing him away, too.

I didn’t deserve friends. Not after what I’d done. I decided right than that I’d had enough, and I got up. Too quickly. A sudden bout of dizziness made me stumble slightly. I’m sure he thought I was drunk—impossible since I’d only had half a beer—but Ben didn’t say anything as he shot around the railing. In a second, he had an arm around my waist.

I shrugged away. “I guess it’s time for me to stagger off to my cave.”

“Are you okay?”

“Of course, why wouldn’t I be?” Trying my best to look like I had it together and to forget he was probably checking out my attire—pastor or not, he’s a man and he wasn’t going to miss the skimpy red bikini top and raggedy cut-off shorts—I marched across the porch and through the double doors and into the subdivided house where we both rented apartments.

Ben wasn’t checking out my curves, he was following me. “Gaia? Would you like to go have dinner sometime?”

Shock riveted me on the bottom step of the stairway leading to my home. I turned, my one step up, bringing me face to face with his extraordinary green eyes, full lips and slightly over-long hair. A powerful need to lean forward and kiss him rocked through me. I gripped the banister and refused to give in to that desire. Wouldn’t the Jesus-man be horrified by that?

“Why?” I asked. I couldn’t understand him.

“Why not?”

“Oh, don’t get me started on that list,” I quipped. Shaking my head, I jogged up the steps. I didn’t stop until I was safely inside my apartment.

The knocking started almost immediately, vibrating against my shoulder blades where I leaned on the door. The man was nothing if not determined. I suppose you would have to be if you pursued his profession in today’s society. In any matter, I knew he wasn’t going away. Reluctantly, I opened my door to find him leaning there, a hand on either side of the frame.

“What?” I demanded, ignoring the awareness that rifled through me at his pursuit. I wouldn’t let it take over. I wouldn’t drag Ben into the quagmire of my life. I chose the snarky path to drive him away. “Shouldn’t you be keeping holy the Lord’s day or something? Is this some mission of yours to—”

My words were cut off when he reached out and threaded his fingers through the hair at the back of my neck, pulling me to him and covering my lips with his. Holy men shouldn’t kiss like that. His lips on mine… sinful.

“Dinner at five. My place.”

“Okay,” I answered before I could think to protest. He disappeared inside his apartment before I could change my mind. I spent the rest of the day wandering the three rooms of my apartment and contemplating what I would have worn to dinner with Ben—would have because I decided as soon as he’d left that there was no way I was going to dinner with the local minister. Not only was I not up for the preaching that was sure to ensue, but I didn’t want to ruin his reputation.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Survey

Okay, I'm feeling a little brain dead so I’m doing the Christmas getting to know you…All about Brynn. Things you never wanted to know.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper for Christmas. I use bags almost exclusively for birthdays because I’m always wrapping at the last minute—because I’m a last minute shopper.

2. Real or fake tree? I prefer real and…if I can get away with it…none at all.

3. When do you put up the tree? As close to Christmas as humanly possible. Once I even put it up on Christmas eve, after the kids went to bed. The tree isn't a big, warm, huggy thing at my house. It’s where the presents go.

4. When do you take the tree down? The first week of January.

5. Do you like eggnog? I really love it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I don’t know if I have one. My mom and dad always gave great gifts.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Several.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My grandma.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My husband.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever got? The prize-winner on Sommer’s blog. Moldy oranges that arrived three weeks after Christmas. Runner up…the monogrammed silverware I got my sophomore year of high school. Monogrammed with the initial for my maiden name.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail or hand deliver.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? October.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Nut roll.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear or all blue.

17. Favorite Christmas song? (Gotta do more than one) Carol of the Bells, Mary Did You Know? Do They Know It’s Christmas?

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? My brother’s on Christmas Eve. Stay home on Christmas Day.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Absolutely.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Trying to do my regular shopping.

23. What I love most about Christmas? Traditions and togetherness.

Do you want to win some fantastic holiday reading? If so come celebrate the Twelve days of Romance with 12 authors from Ellora's Cave, Wild Rose Press, Total-E-Bound and Cerridwen Press. Each day beginning December 8th and running through December 19th one of the twelve authors will tell what their "True love gave to them" on either their blog or website.Collect all twelve answers and e-mail them to with 12 days of Romance in the subject line to win some great books. Deadline for answers is December 21st at midnight EST.

There will be three lucky winners. The prizes –1st prize--6 books 2nd prize--4 books 3rd prize--2 books. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.

Anny Cook Winter Hearts
Sandra Cox Boji Stones
Bronwyn Green Ronan’s Grail
Heather Hiestand Cards Never Lie
Barbara Huffert Deal of a Lifetime
Amarinda Jones Mad About Mirabelle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Cindy Spencer Pape Cowboy’s Christmas Bride
Brynn Paulin Fallen
Jacquéline Roth Access Denied
KZ Snow Mrs. Claws
Lacey Thorn Earth Moves