~*~ Book Blitz ~*~ All You Can Eat by Andi Marquette

All You Can Eat Book Blitz

Book Blitz

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Book Title: All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica
Editors: R.G. Emanuelle and Andi Marquette
Genre: Lesbian Anthology
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

Chef R.G. Emanuelle and sous chef Andi Marquette locked themselves in the kitchen to create a menu that would explore the sensuous qualities of food and illustrate how the act of preparing and eating it can engage many more senses than simply taste and smell. They gathered a great group of cooks who put together an array of dishes, and they present to you here a menu that ranges from sweet and romantic to sultry and seductive, from relationships enjoying a first taste to those that have moved beyond the entrée.

Each story also ends with a recipe. Some of these require cooking implements while others are whimsical accompaniments that don’t require cooking at all—at least not in the traditional sense. After all, food serves as more than sustenance—it’s a trigger for love, laughter, sex, pleasure, and carnal and sensory satisfaction. Whatever your palate prefers, you’re sure to find something tasty here.

Table of Contents

Fresh Fruit by Ashley Bartlett

The Luscious Tarte Aux Fraises by Historia

Whining and Dining by Jae

Burn by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Tomato Lady by Cheyenne Blue

East Meets West by Karis Walsh

Dessert Platter by Victoria Oldham

Appetizing by Cheri Crystal

Sugar and ’Shine by Andi Marquette

Vanilla Extract by Jove Belle

Smorgasbord by R.G. Emanuelle

Crème Brûlée by Sacchi Green

Turn the Tables by Yvonne Heidt

excerpt

“Crème Brûlée”, by Sacchi Green

The newcomers seemed to be busy building a fire of driftwood on the beach. I moved my car to the far end of the parking lot. In the glow of the overhead light I leaned over the front seat into the back to get y treasures out of the chilly container. Raf took the opportunity to knead my upturned butt and tease between my thighs, but with a steel-willed effort I got the ramekins safely onto a towel folded on the front seat between us.

“Crème brûlée!” I said triumphantly. “Have you ever had it?”

“Just seen it on restaurant menus a time or two without paying attention. What’s it mean? Bruised cream?”

“That sounds intriguingly kinky, but no. More like broiled cream. The top is covered with raw sugar, melted under a broiler or a propane torch, and then it hardens like glass.” I dug some plastic spoons out of the side pocket on the door where I tend to shove them when I get drive-through coffee.

“Dig in,” I said, knowing what would be likely to happen. Raf’s spoon broke on the mottled golden surface.

“You’re the stonecutter in this crew, she said. “You do it.”

I took out my pocketknife, covered it in plastic wrap that had protected the desserts, and brought it down hard on one sugar-glazed portion. Cracks rayed out, letting glimpses of the inner custard show through. “That’s yours. Now you break my shell.”

She did it with one hand, while the other pulled my head close for a long, sensuous kiss. Finally, she pulled away. “So did I break through?”

I couldn’t even remember whether we’d done anything as slow and sweet as kissing last year. “Oh, yeah.” I was breathless. “No shell left at all.”

“Looks like some crunchy bits left in the dishes.” She took my spoon and scooped up some of the rich creamy custard along with fragments of sugar glaze. “Mmm. Now I know what you see in this. Such rich, smooth cream inside that stony exterior.” She took another bite, then offered me one. We alternated with the spoon, feeding each other, until the last bites were accidentally-on-purpose smeared across our lips. The licking and kissing that followed got us so revved up that driving all the way back to Wellfleet without relief was out of the question, so I pulled off at the Pilgrim Springs Trail parking lot, mercifully unoccupied.

Call for Submissions

Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance and Erotica

Chef R.G. and sous chef Andi have fired up the burners again and are looking for more cooks for the kitchen! In this follow-up volume to the Lambda finalist anthology All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance & Erotica, you are invited to submit your best food-related story. Whether it’s a romantic homemade dinner, a randy romp with a stranger, or slow-burning attraction, tell us a tale that we will want to devour.Guidelines:

  • Word count: 3,500-5,000 words.
  • Payment: USD 50.00, plus two contributor’s copies
  • Editors: R.G. Emanuelle and Andi Marquette
  • Deadline: August 1
  • Publication date: November 2015
  • Rights: None-exclusive First English Anthology Rights for a period of five years, plus First World Anthology Rights
  • Format: Times New Roman or Arial, 12 pt, single-spaced, saved as a Word or RTF file. Number your pages.

 

In the body of your e-mail AND on first page of your story, include story title, author name, pseudonym, address, phone, e-mail address, and word count.

E-mail submissions and questions to: ayce2@ylva-publishing.com

  1. Original, unpublished stories only. We will not accept reprints.
  2. All forms of erotica and romance are acceptable, with the exception of bestiality, incest, and rape. Characters must be at least 18 years old.
  3. Stories must incorporate food and/or cooking in some way and, yes, it may take place in a food-related setting (restaurant, kitchen, etc.).
  4. Female characters can identify as lesbian, heterosexual, bi, or male-to-female, but the sex/romance must be F/F.
  5. We encourage the inclusion of an original, unpublished recipe that is appropriate/relevant to the story in some way. It will be included at the end of your story and will be part of your word count if you do include one. The simpler and shorter the recipe, the better. All recipes must be your own. We will not accept recipes taken from other sources – i.e., books, magazines, blogs, websites, etc. (Note: If you want to use someone else’s – such as your mother’s or grandmother’s–original recipe, we will need express written permission from that person.)

Give us your best original work. We want well-crafted, polished stories with interesting characters and strong narrative. Don’t just give us a quickie hook-up in a 7-Eleven bathroom over a doughnut. Don’t just have your character whip a zucchini out of the nightstand. Be creative. Combine your love of food, sex, and romance in a story that will crank up the heat beneath your readers. Whether you can barely boil water or are you ready for Iron Chef, we want you to cook something up for us. Fast food or gourmet meal—what’s your pleasure? We hope you show us.

Meet the Author

me n hatAndi Marquette is a native of New Mexico and Colorado and an award-winning mystery, science fiction, and romance writer. She also has the dubious good fortune to be an editor who spent 15 years working in publishing, a career track that sucked her in while she was completing a doctorate in history. She is co-editor of the forthcoming All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance. Her most recent novels are Day of the Dead, the Goldie-nominated finalist The Edge of Rebellion, and the romance From the Hat Down, a follow-up to the Rainbow Award-winning novella, From the Boots Up.

When she’s not writing novels, novellas, and stories or co-editing anthologies, she serves as both an editor for Luna Station Quarterly, an ezine that features speculative fiction written by women and as co-admin of the popular blogsite Women and Words. When she’s not doing that, well, hopefully she’s managing to get a bit of sleep.

1463612_691414697550126_1954366191_nR.G. Emanuelle is a New York City native currently based in Brooklyn. Her university degree in English and literature propelled her into publishing, where she spent 20 years as an editor, typesetter, and graphic designer. She expanded into freelance writing, and eventually published her first novel, Twice Bitten, in January, 2013, in the wake of several published short stories. When she’s not writing or editing, she can usually be found cooking or developing recipes, as she is also a culinary school graduate.

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~*~ Book Blitz ~*~ The New Mexico Mysteries by Andi Marquette

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Book Blitz 71MnlcnpUCL._SL1369_Book Title: Land of Entrapment ~ A K.C. Fontero Mystery
Author: Andi Marquette
Genre: Mystery
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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719ZLoU6IDL._SL1115_Book Title: State of Denial
Author: Andi Marquette
Genre: Mystery
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91hRU6fznRL._SL1500_Book Title: The Ties that Bind
Author: Andi Marquette
Genre: Mystery
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81sScHO6L8L._SL1500_Book Title: Day of the Dead
Author: Andi Marquette
Genre: Mystery
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Book Blurb

71MnlcnpUCL._SL1369_Land of Entrapment

Ex-girlfriend. Her missing sister. Violent white supremacists. Ah, Albuquerque!

Join K.C. Fontero in this, the inaugural volume of the New Mexico series. Winner, 2009 GCLS award for one of three best lesfic mysteries. Also a 2009 Lesbian Fiction Readers’ Choice award-winner.

K.C. Fontero left New Mexico in the wake of a bitter breakup to take an academic fellowship in Texas. With a doctorate in sociology and expertise in white supremacist groups, she’s well on her way to an academic career. But a plea for help from her ex, Melissa, brings K.C. back to Albuquerque to find Melissa’s troubled younger sister. Megan has disappeared with her white supremacist boyfriend and K.C. knows she has the expertise to track the mysterious group, and she knows she’ll be doing a public service to uncover it. What she doesn’t know is how far into her past she’ll have to go to find both Megan and herself and the deeper she digs into the group, the greater the danger she faces.

Winner, 2009, Golden Crown Literary Society award, best lesfic mystery
Winner, 2009, Lesbian Fiction Readers’ Choice award, lesfic mystery


 

719ZLoU6IDL._SL1115_State of Denial

Homicide. Homophobia. Hell of a case. Ah, Albuquerque!

The body of a young gay man buried along the Rio Grande leads Albuquerque police detective Chris Gutierrez down a path of dark secrets and old hatreds. In spite of the other detective assigned to the case — the sexist and possibly homophobic Dale Harper — Chris tracks the killer to an older unsolved case, and to the doors of a local megachurch and a popular minister with ties to ex-gay groups. Enlisting the research skills and networks of sociologist and best friend K.C. Fontero, Chris works to build the case and make an arrest before the killer strikes again, even as she must also face her growing feelings for attorney Dayna Carson. Struggling with the complexity of a difficult case, Chris is drawn into an ominous and potentially deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a man who might kill to protect his own secrets.


 

91hRU6fznRL._SL1500_The Ties that Bind

Dead man. Dark Spirits. Deep Trouble. Ah, New Mexico!

When the Albuquerque paper reports that an unidentified white man was found dead along a remote stretch of road on the Navajo Reservation in northwestern New Mexico, UNM sociology professor K.C. Fontero thinks she might be able to use the case as an example of culture and jurisdiction in one of her classes. But it’s soon apparent that this dead man might have something to do with a mysterious letter that River Crandall, brother of K.C.’s partner Sage, recently received from the siblings’ estranged father, Bill. What does the letter and Bill’s link to a natural gas drilling company have to do with the dead man? And why would Bill try to contact his son and daughter now, after a decade of silence?

From the streets of Albuquerque to the vast expanse of the Navajo Reservation, K.C. and Sage try to unravel the secrets of a dead ma while Sage confronts a past she thought she’d left behind. But someone or something wants to keep those secrets buried, and as K.C. soon discovers, sometimes beliefs of one culture jump the boundaries of another, threatening to drive a wedge into the relationship she’s building with Sage.

Voted one of five fave lesfic mysteries of 2010 by the Lesbian Fiction Readers’ Choice Awards.


 

81sScHO6L8L._SL1500_Day of the Dead

Murdered man. Missing woman. Malicious intent. Ah, New Mexico!

When a man is shot to death in his house near Albuquerque’s Old Town, homicide detective Chris Gutierrez is called to the scene with fellow detective Dale Harper to investigate. They soon discover that the murder victim may have been involved in human trafficking over the Mexican border, and that he may have attracted enemies in an underground network with its own code of honor. Did someone in that network kill him? Or did his past finally catch up with him? As Chris works to find answers, she also draws the attention of a local anti-immigrant blogger who will go to any length to post damaging and personal information about Albuquerque law enforcement officers, and she knows that her partner, prosecutor Dayna Carson, will be part of that campaign if the blogger discovers their relationship. She has to find a way to watch her back and keep Dayna and her friends and family safe from the blogger’s large audience and prying eyes, even as he dogs her every move.

From Albuquerque to El Paso, Chris is on the trail of a killer who seems to be able to disappear into the cultures on either side of the border, like a ghost or desert wind. Those along the border protect their own, Chris knows, but she has a job to do, even as she draws closer and realizes that sometimes, things aren’t what they seem.

excerpt

71MnlcnpUCL._SL1369_Land of Entrapment

“I’ll pay you.”

I stared at her as if she had just offered to pay me for sex.

“No,” she said, realizing how it must have sounded. “I mean as a researcher. I know you’ve done that in the past. I’ll pay your going rate for research.”

I continued to stare at her. She might as well have just slapped me.

“Plus room and board? Please. It would mean a lot to me. You could use it for your next book. You’re doing research this fall semester, anyway.”

My stomach lurched. “How did you know that?”

She looked away.

“How did you know that?” I said again. She had been tracking me and it bothered me. Why didn’t she just call? Because she knows it’d be harder to say no to her in person. I clenched my teeth, feeling used.

She stood, slightly flustered. “I checked. I needed to know where I could find you.”

“It’s not on my website,” I said, testing her.

“I called the department.”

I stood as well and stared out at the fields. By the sun, it must have been almost three o’clock. Somewhere in the heat and haze I heard a tractor. And somewhere further away than that I heard the engine of Melissa’s Toyota Camry as she drove out of my life and into someone else’s sunset. Don’t burn your bridges, I heard someone saying. ’Cause you might have to cross the river again.

“On the off-chance—” I started, keeping my eyes on the field, “that there was some other way for you to do this, would you have done it?”

“Yes.” No hesitation.

I shifted my full attention back to her. “What exactly does this entail?”

“So you’ll do it?”

“I didn’t say that. I want to know what it is you’re expecting.”

She went into professional mode. “I want to know who Cody is, what group he’s with, what they’re planning to do, and where they might be.”

“And?”

“Once you get that figured out, I’ll take the next step myself. If she really does want to leave and he’s forcing her to stay, I’ll get the proper authorities involved.”

I crossed my arms over my chest. “I don’t want your money, Melissa.”

“I’m hiring you to do research.”

I wondered if Hillary had bought Melissa the same way she was trying to buy me. Here ya go. Money’ll fix it. I’ll buy your heart and give you a new one. A mouthful of bitterness accompanied my thoughts. How much is your sister worth? How much am I worth? I tugged my left earlobe, staring out across the fields again. “If I do this, I don’t want your money,” I said stubbornly.

“Will you at least let me provide the place to stay? And help with expenses?”

“If I do it.” I sounded petulant.

“Thank you.”

“I’m not sure. Let me think about it.”

“Thanks for hearing me out.” A faint smile lifted the edges of her mouth.

I nodded, feeling numb and cold inside, like I’d been left out in an early fall snow. The silence stretched between us until Melissa broke it when she opened the screen door. “Walk me to my car?” She raised her right eyebrow quizzically, almost playfully, like when she used to flirt with me. I guess I could still fall for it because I examined the outline of her back as she pulled the screen door open and stepped into the kitchen. Even underneath the T-shirt, I could envision her wiry muscles plunging below the waistline of her shorts. I quickly glanced away. Misdirected lechery, I attempted to convince myself as I grabbed my hat and followed her through the house.

Grandpa rocked slowly on the front porch, his eyes closed. The heat of the day weighed heavily on him and the dogs. Barb and Dan gave Melissa only a cursory once-over as she stopped to say goodbye to Grandpa, thought better of it, and quietly descended the five steps.

I took my time putting my hat back on, waiting for her to slide into the driver’s seat and shut the door, saving me from any inadvertent physical contact. Sinking my hands into my pockets, I maintained a respectful two-foot distance from the Lexus. She twisted in her seat and fumbled through something on the floor in back. She must have found what she wanted because she resumed appropriate driving posture and fastened her seatbelt before directing her attention at me. Automatically, I stepped closer.

“It’s good to see you,” she said with what sounded like genuine pleasure, though tinged with sadness. She was holding a business card and she wrote something on the back with a black pen. “I know you might think differently, but I’d like to maybe talk sometime.”

I shrugged.

She handed me the business card. “I know you’ll think about this. And I know you’ll call me either way.”

I took the card, glanced at it and shoved it into a front pocket of my jeans. She started the engine. It purred smoothly, powerfully.

“Nice rig,” I said softly. “You must be doing okay.”

She smiled and slipped her shades on before resting her right hand on the steering wheel. I heard Bonnie Raitt issuing from the vehicle’s sound system.

“K.C.,” Melissa said firmly, over Bonnie’s voice, “no matter what you decide, I’m glad I saw you.” She smiled and shook her head in a “well, hell” motion. “I used to think you were a damn good-looking woman, and I didn’t think it could get any better.” Even through her shades, I could see her eyes sweep over me, from the toes of my boots to my hat. “I was wrong.” And she was backing up before I could retort.

Damn her. Damn ex-girlfriends in general. Dammit. I watched the Lexus until it turned left onto the main road, heatwaves swallowing the sound of its engine.

She was gone again, leaving me staring after her. I guess there were a few ghosts that needed to be put to rest. Out of habit, I glanced skyward. Evening was coming on. I had to finish with the alfalfa.


 

719ZLoU6IDL._SL1115_State of Denial

CHRIS SQUATTED BY the shallow grave. A cold late January breeze ruffled her hair as she studied the body within. He lay face-down, hands tied behind his back with what looked like electrical cord. The odor of human decomposition wafted under the edge of the bandanna she held against her mouth and nose and she automatically stopped breathing through her nose.

A crime scene tech ducked under the yellow tape that surrounded the perimeter of the clearing, fastened to trees. He carried a clipboard and a plastic tackle box. If only this was a fishing trip, Chris thought as he set his box down near the perimeter and started writing on the form attached to his clipboard.

Dale Harper hunched across from her, pressing a handkerchief to his face. Two crime scene techs were engaged a few feet away, carefully screening the dirt that a third tech was gingerly removing from around the body with a small trowel and emptying into a stainless steel pail.

“Nasty,” Harper intoned. Chris’s fellow detective spoke with the accent of the upper Midwest, a blend that sounded like Chicago-meets-Canada. He rubbed the fingers of his left hand on his knee, as if the fabric of his trousers was some sort of cleansing agent.

Murder always is. Chris didn’t vocalize the thought, waiting for him to make an inappropriate comment about the naked man in the grave. He seemed to have a penchant for doing that and it grated on her nerves. Gallows humor was one thing. Harper’s comments were another.

He shifted his weight forward to get a better look, careful not to dislodge soil from the grave’s edge. “I’m guessing sexual assault,” he began, holding the handkerchief over his nose. “Probably a gay thing. No normal guy would end up like this.”

“No normal guy goes out and kills another guy, either, and then leaves him naked in a hole in the bosque.” The cloth blunted the hard edge in Chris’s voice. She didn’t look at Harper, instead continued studying the dead man between them, silently apologizing to him for Harper’s remark, as if he still lived, and was only sleeping or comatose. As if he could still care what anybody said about him. She apologized to him again anyway.

“Well, I seriously doubt a chick killed him,” Harper muttered with what sounded like distaste.

Chris stared at him. “We don’t know that yet.”

He shrugged. “Oh, right. Women can do everything men can do.”

Typical male cop crap, trying to get a rise out of her, most likely. Chris counted backward from ten before responding. “Yeah, we can. Unfortunately.” She looked down at the body again. “But I agree that the perp in this case is most likely male. Still, the evidence isn’t in.”


 

91hRU6fznRL._SL1500_The Ties that Bind

“Body found on Navajo Reservation near Shiprock.”

THE HEADLINE CAUGHT my eye as I skimmed through the local news round-up in the Albuquerque Journal waiting for the coffee to brew. I read the brief paragraph, shifting into research mode. An unidentified white male, possibly mid-late fifties, found dead about ten miles outside the reservation town of Shiprock. Authorities speculated that he’d been dead for a few days and that he’d been hit by a car. He was wearing blue jeans and a red flannel shirt and he carried no identification. Anyone with any information was encouraged to contact Navajo Tribal Police or the Farmington Police Department.

White guy. I puzzled over that for a bit as I leaned on the counter, coffeemaker gurgling next to me. Not to suggest that white guys weren’t allowed on the Navajo Reservation. It just struck me as odd that this guy was out there. Even that close to Farmington, the Navajo Reservation had few roads, fewer people, and a lot of lonely space. What was a white guy doing walking around on the Rez in such a state that he was hit by a car and left to die?

I wondered who he was and the logical part of my brain clicked through a myriad of possibilities. Most likely he got himself into a bit of trouble with local rednecks who roughed him up a bit, drove him to the Rez, took his wallet, and rolled him out of a battered pickup along with several cans of beer. Maybe he was drunk and might have tried to get help but instead got the front end of either that truck or a different one. Regardless, whoever hit him kept going.

Nice. What pleasant pre-breakfast thoughts. I placed the newspaper on the kitchen counter, making a mental note to check for more information on this case. It was just the kind of thing I was looking for to include in my lesson plan for one of the courses I was teaching, the Sociology of Crime. I ran a hand through my hair, reminding myself again that it was just three weeks before fall classes started at the University of New Mexico. Where the hell does the time go?

I glanced at the coffeemaker. Almost done. I stirred the eggs and turned the sausages over in the frying pan and adjusted the burner heat while I thought some more about the unidentified man. Whoever he was, I didn’t envy the investigators charged with the task of trying to uncover his identity. Because he was white, he’d be autopsied. Because he was found on Indian land, his journey to the medical examiner’s table in Albuquerque might take a while. A dead white guy on Indian land made for bad press for the Navajo, especially if more than just stupidity and callousness was involved here. Like, say, if a Navajo had taken him there and dumped him. Or hit him and kept going. Plus, the traditional tensions between tribal and non-tribal law enforcement sometimes hamstrung investigations of crimes committed on Indian land. Unless the guy was killed elsewhere and just dumped on the Rez.


81sScHO6L8L._SL1500_Day of the Dead

CHRIS PUSHED THROUGH the knots of people gathered in the street to watch the aftermath of whatever tragedy had befallen the person in the house, now blocked from trespassing by crime scene tape and cops. Mostly neighbors, she figured, wearing jackets in the chill of a late October night. The neighborhoods just west of Albuquerque’s Old Town were made up of family and friend networks, largely native Hispanic though newer transplants from Mexico and Central America also called this area home. Most of the houses were on the small side, built around World War II or slightly after, though some were older than that by a couple of decades. People knew each other here, whether by contact or sight, but they might not want to talk to the police because of a customary distrust of law enforcement.

Harper stood near the front door to the house, talking to one of the uniformed officers. He wore a department issue jacket and jeans and work boots. Most of the time,Chris saw him in casual man-slacks and penny loafers. Tonight he looked like a truck driver originally from a state like Ohio.

She moved her jacket aside to show her badge—clipped to her belt—to a uniformed officer standing at the tape and the woman pulled it up a bit so Chris didn’t have to stoop so low to get under it.

“Hey,” Detective Dale Harper said in his flat Midwestern accent. “Glad you could join us.”

“Yeah, well, not like people sleep at this hour on a Sunday or anything.”

The cop next to him snorted.

“What’ve we got?” she asked.

Harper looked at his pocket notebook, mostly out of habit. He had probably already memorized what the cop had told him. “Our DB is a Hispanic male, late twenties, early thirties. Gunshot wounds to the head, chest, and groin.”

“Anybody hear anything?”

“A Mrs. Marquez, next door.” Harper gestured at a nearby house with his chin.

The porch light was on.

“Is she outside?”

“Not anymore. But she did say she heard something after twelve-thirty. Doesn’t speak much English.”

That was almost an hour ago. Chris put her hands in her jacket pockets to warm them up. “Who talked to her?”

“Lauren.”

She nodded, satisfied. Lauren’s Spanish was good. “Okay.” She looked at the uniformed cop. “Could you find Lauren and tell her I want to talk to her?”

“Sure thing. You got this?” He glanced at Harper, as if he was in charge. A guy thing, Chris knew. Unconscious, but it irked her.

“Yes,” she said, reclaiming the lead. The cop shrugged and walked away. She took a pair of latex gloves out of a baggie-full she carried in her jacket pocket, and put the baggie back before she snapped the gloves on. Harper had his own, and he had already put his notebook and pen into his back pocket and was pulling his pair on. He handed her a pair of booties and she slipped them over her shoes while he did the same with his.

“Shall we?” he said, motioning at the door.

She stepped inside and stood for a few moments. The front door opened directly into a living room. A dark brown couch that sagged slightly in the middle stood against the opposite wall. A coffee table was upended in front of it, probably overturned by the now-dead man as he fell or was driven back from the force of the bullets that had killed him. He was sprawled on his back in front of the couch, arms spread, left knee slightly bent, right leg straight. He wore jeans, a white T-shirt now stained with blood, and black sneakers, the kind hip-hop artists sported.

“Was he found with that on him?” Chris gestured at the Día de los Muertos painted papier mâché skeleton, about a foot long, that rested on his chest. It was female, dressed in a skirt and blouse. The figure wore a sombrero and held a guitar. Ammo belts criss-crossed her chest.

“I’ll check.” Harper left through the front door and Chris stared down at the dead man. It looked as if the figurine had been placed carefully on his chest, so it wouldn’t fall off, its body positioned so it lay vertically on the victim’s torso. A message, but to whom?

“Yeah,” Harper said from the doorway. “Body was found with that on there, just like that. What do you make of it?” he asked when he re-joined her.

“It’s a variation of La Catrina.”

He looked at her with his “so?” expression.

Chris pulled her smartphone out of her pocket and did a search for the famous lithograph of Catrina, created by Mexican artist José Posada around 1910. In that image, Posada depicted a skeleton that was supposed to represent a once-elegant female figure from the shoulders up. A large feathered and flowered bonnet graced her grinning skull. Harper looked at it and nodded.

“Oh, yeah. I’ve seen this. Practically every Day of the Dead festival. What’s the significance here?” He handed her phone back.

“I don’t know. Posada did a lot of these calavera lithographs around the time of the Mexican Revolution. They were designed to poke fun at politicians and the class system without overtly naming anyone.” She gestured at the figure on the dead man’s chest. “Since then, she’s represented as an elegant, wealthy woman, but other depictions of her have come up, like this one, in less formal dress, with different props.”

“And that all means what, exactly?”

She shrugged. “She’s become kind of a beloved folk image in Mexico. She represents death as the great equalizer. After all, she’s a skeleton, and all her wealth didn’t change the fact that being human means you’ll die eventually.”

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Meet the Author

me n hatAndi Marquette is a native of New Mexico and Colorado and an award-winning mystery, science fiction, and romance writer. She also has the dubious good fortune to be an editor who spent 15 years working in publishing, a career track that sucked her in while she was completing a doctorate in history. She is co-editor of All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance. Her most recent novels are Day of the Dead, the Goldie-nominated finalist The Edge of Rebellion, and the romance From the Hat Down, a follow-up to the Rainbow Award-winning novella, From the Boots Up.

When she’s not writing novels, novellas, and stories or co-editing anthologies, she serves as both an editor for Luna Station Quarterly, an ezine that features speculative fiction written by women and as co-admin of the popular blogsite Women and Words. When she’s not doing that, well, hopefully she’s managing to get a bit of sleep.

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~*~ Book Blitz ~*~ Three Book Blitz for Author Andi Marquette

From the Hat Down Book Blitz

Book Blitz

22430680Book Title: From the Hat Down
Author: Andi Marquette
Genre: Lesbian Romance
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Synopsis

Meg Tallmadge is a veterinarian at a clinic in Laramie, Wyoming. She’s got a great job, great friends, deep ties to the family ranch, and big plans for her vet future. Sure, there are bumps in the road, like her mom’s continued denial about who Meg is and her painful and infuriating attempts to make Meg a “proper” woman. Then there’s Meg’s recent breakup with a girlfriend, which has her wondering why she can’t seem to open up to relationships. But Meg knows that life is messy, and sometimes all you can do is get through and shake it off. What she can’t seem to shake off, however, is her past.

It’s been almost ten years to the day since she met the love of her life, and about eight since she let her go. Meg has a hard time admitting that maybe she didn’t really let go, and that maybe some things you never really get over, no matter how hard you try. But her past is half a world away, caught up in her own life, relationship, and journalism career, and Meg isn’t one to chase the ghosts of past relationships. Even if they send you a birthday card and nudge what you thought were the closed-off parts of your heart. After all, second chances are the stuff of fantasies and movies where the good guy always gets a happy ending. You can’t count on something like that.

Or can you?

Contains adult sexual situations.

excerpt
From the Hat Down by Andi Marquette, © 2014
Excerpt – CHAPTER 1

May, 2009

Meg sipped her coffee and stared at the three boxes stacked next to her front door, and guilt tugged her thoughts. They’d been there a couple of months now, reminders of her break-up with Kate. She’d called Kate last week, to set up a time to pick them up and Kate, ever the organized and conscientious type, had asked apologetically if she could collect the boxes later, as she was just starting a new job and trying to get settled in her own place in Fort Collins. Barely an hour south. But the distance between them was much more than that. Meg had agreed. The least she could do was give Kate the space to get her stuff when she could. Meg had offered to drive it down a few weeks ago, but Kate wouldn’t hear of it, though she said she appreciated that. Meg knew it was genuine. She’d been nice about it. She always was. It made Meg feel guilty for pushing her to pick the stuff up.

The boxes maintained their blank silence as she studied them. She had debated moving them into the bedroom she used as an office, but decided to just leave them by the door. Maybe they were penance, in some way. Reminders of a relationship gone sour, representatives of an ending.

She took another sip. Endings sucked. But in a weird way, they were pre-beginnings. You couldn’t have a beginning without an end, after all. She shifted her attention to the window, and the trees outside, past the covered front porch. Mid-May and many had finally leafed out, presaging summer. She looked at the boxes again and a wave of sadness washed through her chest. She swallowed it with a gulp of coffee just as her Blackberry rang with a particular tone. She smiled as she pulled it off her belt. “Hey, fellow vet person. What’s up?”

“Hi, Doctor Horse Chick,” came Sean’s goofy nickname for her. She had a way of stringing words together in unique combinations that somehow ended up making perfect sense. “Just checking to be sure you remember that I’ll be in your fabulous Laramie Tuesday doing a most awesome lecture on holistic approaches to large four-legged domestic animals.”

Meg almost snorted coffee through her nose. “Approaching, say, cows holistically? Like, with new-age lassos? Do you tie a crystal on the end?”

“No. Incense,” she retorted with a “duh” tone.

Meg laughed. “And what kind of incense might make a cow even more catatonic than some of them already are?”

“Sandalwood. Maybe jasmine. I haven’t tried that one yet. Patchouli makes them grow dreads and crave reggae.”

“Bob Moo-ley,” Meg said, trying not to giggle.

“Oh, hell no. I cannot believe you just said that.” Sean started laughing. “‘No woman, no cud’ is their fave tune.”

Meg grinned and set her nearly empty coffee cup on the topmost box. “Are you bringing one of these dreadlocked bovines to your lecture? I’m sure the students would appreciate it.”

“Whatever. They’re all serious cowboy-types up there. Maybe I could get a cow to wear a ten-gallon Stetson. Though you look better in Stetsons than any cow. Than any human-types, actually.”

“Well, it is the head covering of choice in this state.” She nudged a box with the toe of her boot. “So you still want to stop by when you’re done?”

“Is there wind in Wyoming? And that’s a rhetorical question, by the way,” Sean said with teasing warmth.

“Wind? Here?” Meg asked in a “what are you talking about?” tone.

“Exactly my point.”

“Cool. Just come by the house.” She picked up her cup.

“Will do. I’ll call you if anything changes. Oh, speaking of seeing you—your birthday’s coming up,” she said in a sing-song tone.

Meg grimaced. “Don’t remind me. I’m trying to be low-key about it.”

“Please. You’re always low-key. Why not have a party? Just to shake things up a bit?”

She glanced at the boxes, then back out the window. “You know I’m not really the party kind. Besides, I’m going to the ranch that weekend. You and Ted want to come up? I’d be okay with a birthday barbecue.” She walked into the kitchen and rinsed her cup out with one hand and set it in the drying rack.

“I’d love to, but Ted’s brother is supposed to be coming through then. Damn. We want to at least take you out for dinner, though.” Sean sighed plaintively. “Since you won’t let me throw a massive street party for you, with a DJ and Chinese acrobats, will a small, painfully intimate dinner with me and Ted suffice?”

“Always,” Meg said, smiling. “I’ll check my schedule and we’ll talk more when I see you tomorrow.”

“Sounds good. Catch you later.”

“Yep. Hi to Ted.” Meg hung up and slid the phone back into its holder on her belt. She gave the boxes another hard stare then turned and walked down the hallway toward the two bedrooms at the rear of the house. The one she used as her office was to the right, her bedroom to the left. She went into her office to her leather satchel, which rested on her desk chair, flap open. She rummaged through it to make sure she had everything she needed for the day.

Another damn birthday. At least she’d get to spend it with her dad at the ranch. Meg dug around in her satchel, looking for her appointment book. She preferred the old-fashioned approach to keeping track of her schedule, though she did enter her patient appointments into her Blackberry, as well.

Where had she put the book? It wasn’t in its usual place in the satchel. She stopped her search in the satchel and looked at her desk. Ah. There it was. She reached across her desk for her appointment book, partially hidden beneath a veterinary journal. She moved the journal and picked up the appointment book, and her gaze lingered on the small wooden carving of a horse that stood nearby, next to her computer monitor. It held its head high, and its right front leg was raised, as if it was preparing to tear off across a prairie. The unknown artist had captured the moment between stillness and motion, that second in which muscles bunch and adrenaline surges before the physical form follows the urge.

Meg set the datebook back down and picked up the horse. She ran her fingertips over the smooth chocolate brown wood. The carving fit perfectly in her palm and she remembered when it had arrived in the mail from Argentina six years ago, a gift for her graduation from vet school at Colorado State. She studied the detail on its face, and on its mane and tail. The horse’s surface felt warm, as if it was generating its own heat. She closed her hand around it, remembering the small box it had come in, and how she’d felt when she saw the handwriting on the address label. She smiled, because she felt a little bit of that now.

She returned the horse to its place on her desk, wondering how its sender was, and if she might be thinking about her. Maybe she was even writing a card, getting ready to mail it. She always sent Meg a birthday card. Every year since they first met ten years ago, a week before Meg turned twenty-five. She stared at the horse for a while, a strange combination of longing and regret coloring her thoughts before she picked her datebook up and tossed it into her satchel. She slung the bag over her shoulder and headed for the front door.

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From the Boots Up FINAL 300 dpiBook Title: From the Boots Up
Author: Andi Marquette
Genre: Lesbian Romance (Novella)
From the Boots Up is a runner-up in the 2013 Rainbow Awards for best contemporary lesbian romance and best lesbian novel.

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Synopsis

Meg Tallmadge has more than enough on her plate. She’s finishing up a college degree, getting ready to apply to vet school, and working another summer with her dad, Stan, on the family ranch in southern Wyoming. He’s managed to get the Los Angeles Times to send a reporter out to do a story on the Diamond Rock, which doubles as a dude ranch. Meg knows the ranch needs all the publicity it can get to bring in more customers, but she’s not looking forward to babysitting a reporter for a week. When the originally scheduled reporter can’t make it, Meg worries that they won’t get a story at all, which is worse than dealing with a city slicker for a few days. Fortunately for Stan and the ranch, the Times finds a replacement, and Meg prepares to be under scrutiny, under the gun, and the perfect hostess. She knows what this opportunity means to her father, and she’s hoping that if it goes well, it’ll ease some of the distance between them that resulted when she came out a few months earlier.

What Meg’s not prepared for — and never expected — is the reporter herself and the effect she has on her. In spite of what she feels, Meg can’t risk the fallout that could result from overstepping a professional boundary. But as the week draws to a close, it becomes clear that not taking a chance could be the biggest risk of all.

NOTE: Contains F/F mature situations.

excerpt
From the Boots Up by Andi Marquette
Excerpt – Chapter One

May 1999

My weekend with Tex Hollis began when I pulled into the driveway of the Lazy T-Bar Ranch west of San Antonio. I knew this wouldn’t be an ordinary weekend when Tex cast a critical eye over my shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes. Two days later, I was as comfortable in jeans and boots as any of the buckaroos who spent their days in the saddle—

Meg laughed and tossed the magazine back onto her dad’s huge oak desk. She leaned back in her chair and braced one booted foot on the desk’s edge. “Tex Hollis,” she said, sarcastic. “Sounds like somebody out of a Longarm book.”

Stan looked at her over the top of his reading glasses. “And since when did you start reading that?”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Davey keeps a stash. He gave me one to read one night, thinking I’d like the ‘plot’.” She grinned wickedly. “The plot was way better than the sex.”

His eyes widened and she laughed.

“I told Davey that, and he never loaned me another one. I think I ruined one of his fantasies.” She pushed back farther, regarding him mischievously.

He cleared his throat. “Fantasy?”

“Please, Dad. You’re a guy. You were Davey’s age. You know what guys think about.”

His cheeks reddened and he started moving papers around on his desk. “If your mom heard that. . .” he said with exaggerated sternness.

“She’d lose her religion because I know about sex. It’d burst her bubble.” Meg moved her foot and let her chair legs fall to the floor with a thump. And then her mom would haul out her Bible and start talking about chastity.

“Well, moms were young women, too, and they don’t like to think about their daughters running wild with young guys.”

“You mean like Mom did with you?” She asked innocently.

The phone rang and he shot her a mock disapproving glare that dissolved into a smile before he answered. “Diamond Rock Ranch. This is Stan Tallmadge.” He clicked the mouse on the computer as he talked.

Meg reached across the desk for the magazine and flipped idly through it again before studying the cover. A copy of Spirit, from Southwest Airlines. A pair of worn cowboy boots with spurs stood on a workbench against a log cabin wall. A nice photo, for a stereotype.

She glanced up at him. From the conversation he was having, it sounded like the call was another reservation. They still had two spaces available for guests this month and she hoped the spots filled. This sounded like it would drop their space to one. Good.

She studied him then, noting the fine lines that spiderwebbed from the corners of his eyes and the deepening creases around his mouth. His hair, once as dark as a crow’s wing, had lightened to gray at his temples, though she often thought about him without the gray, her attempt to prevent him from aging.

The magazine cover advertised a story about Montana, and how people could get an “Old West” experience at a couple of dude ranches up there. She’d heard of them, and she wondered how the ranch owners had managed to get covered in Spirit. The Diamond Rock needed more coverage like that. Even more than what they’d get from the reporter who was coming out to bother them next week. She turned the page and a photo of a couple of men on horseback herding a few cattle caught her eye. One of the men looked like her dad. She glanced at him again as he continued to talk, doing the Diamond Rock spiel to the person on the other end.

Ranching was in his blood, just like it had been in his father’s and in his grandfather’s before him. No other place on earth would fire his spirit like Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains. Meg knew that, and she knew that if he ever left, it would kill him, just as staying was slowly leaching the years from his bones as it got harder and harder to make ends meet, to get enough paying customers for the dude ranch experience even while he tried to work the ranch with fewer staff.

He looked at her, eyes the color of a summer thundercloud, like hers, she’d been told, and gave her a thumbs-up. She smiled and returned to her magazine, but she wasn’t really thinking about the article. She took after her father in demeanor and physical appearance, she knew, and it was a point of contention when her mother had lived there. But it was Stan who had made Irene “pert near crazy” with his stubborn streak and independent nature. Loyal to a fault, but unreachable in the deep down parts of his heart, he’d driven Irene right back to Kentucky nine years ago, when Meg was sixteen.

“All right,” he said. “Thanks for calling. We’ll see you next week.” He hung up, satisfied. “Full up.”

She grinned at him and placed the magazine back on his desk, relieved. “So when’s that reporter coming in?”

He leaned back in his chair and stroked his mustache thoughtfully. He looked like an old-style cowboy with it, especially when he wore his hat and duster. She thought he resembled Wyatt Earp.

“Hopefully next Friday, still. I got a call from the editor out there this morning and the writer she wanted broke her leg. So she’s trying to rustle someone else up on short notice.”

Meg hid her concern. It was already Wednesday. Next Friday was just over a week away. “Will she be able to get somebody else to come instead?” A story in the Los Angeles Times was too important. They needed the publicity.

“She’s working on it.” He tried to hide his own concern, too, but she read it in his eyes. “Might have to delay the story a little bit, if she can’t find anybody on short notice.”

“How long?”

He gave a little shrug. “She said maybe a couple extra weeks. Then there’s another window of opportunity in July. Which won’t be too bad.”

The dude ranching season pretty much ended here by mid-August as fall started creeping in over the mountains. Stan needed this publicity, because it wouldn’t only serve for this summer. It would continue for the next season, and the article would be on the Internet, so they could use it in more of their promo.

“Did she say who the reporter might be?” The one that had been scheduled was originally from Idaho, and Meg had talked to her briefly on the phone. She sounded nice, and she’d grown up in a ranching town, so Meg figured she’d “get” the Diamond Rock, and she’d be able to really nail that in her story.

“Nope.” He shrugged again. “I’m sure she’ll find someone who’ll do a fine job on the story. It’ll work out.”

“Hope so.”

He narrowed his eyes then. “And you’ll be damn hospitable. I don’t want to have to be telling your mom why the story that gets published in the Los Angeles Times is about somebody’s bad experience at the Diamond Rock.”

“Why would you even think that?” She looked at him, hurt.

“I know how you get,” he said, more gently. “You don’t suffer fools and, unfortunately, you’ve got some of your mom’s temper. But in this case, I need you to suffer.” He smiled at her. “No practical jokes on the greenhorn.”

Her mother’s voice echoed through her mind. “Damn it, Stan! Would you get that girl in hand?” She sighed. “I’m not sixteen anymore.”

“No, but twenty-four ain’t that far off.”

“Twenty-five.”

“Not yet, missy. Next week. And I can still turn you over my knee. So no bullshit. We need this publicity.” He tried to look forbidding but a twinkle danced in his eyes and she relaxed.

“Well, since I’m such a loose cannon, can I not be in charge of the reporter?” She didn’t mind playing babysitter, but if she didn’t have to, that was fine with her. She hoped whoever the Times lined up had at least a little outdoor experience.

“The way I see it, whoever they send will be here for a week and they’ll want a ‘full range’ of ranching experience, and they’ll observe and ask questions. They might or might not want a tour guide. And you’ll be an official Diamond Rock liaison, so every day, I expect you to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with the reporter. Just treat whoever it is like a regular registered guest. You’re good with that, hon. They really do like you. Don’t think of it as being under the microscope or something.”

“Great,” she said with a sigh. She imagined them all dressed up like on the set of Bonanza and she groaned softly.

“I know. It’s kind of a pain in the ass, because we do have to mind our manners even more, and you don’t know for sure what’s going to end up in print. We’ve got to make it so this reporter can’t resist writing a great story about the DR. In fact, we want this reporter to come back every chance he gets. Or she,” he corrected himself.

“I know. Don’t worry.” She reached over to the neighboring chair to retrieve her hat. “You don’t think whoever it is will be like the writer of this story”—she gestured at the magazine, “and change your name to something like ‘Slim Thompson’?” She was only half-teasing.

He pursed his lips, pretending to think. “I’m hoping for something like ‘Dutch Walters’. And maybe you’ll get to be ‘Cherry Goodnight’.”

Meg grabbed the Spirit magazine off the stack of papers and threw it playfully at him.

He caught it and tossed it onto the desk, chuckling. “You could change your middle name to Cherry before the reporter gets here. So there’d be some veracity there.”

She gave him a look and started to get up.

“Your mom called this morning,” he said, as he leaned back in his beat-up office chair. He folded his arms and regarded her with an expression that was a mixture of concerned dad but acceptance for whatever decision she might make.

She settled in her seat again, her Stetson in her lap. She rubbed her fingertips over the black felt, waiting. She got her stubborn streak from him, but hers was more pronounced. He’d told her she could outwait a rock.

“You need to talk to your mom more,” he said after a while. “She misses you.”

She didn’t answer. Instead, she studied the knotted pine wood on the walls behind his head. He waited a few more moments then leaned forward and picked up the copy of Spirit. He flipped through it as she had done earlier.

“She’s your mom,” he said, without looking up from the pages.

“She’s not really thrilled with me right now, as you know.” She watched for his reaction, but his expression didn’t change.

“So don’t talk about that.”

“That’s all she wants to talk about. It’s not like I make it a point to advertise my personal life.”

“Well.” He set the magazine aside and tugged at the hair above his right ear, something he did when he was really uncomfortable.

Meg wished she hadn’t told him, either. Wished she’d never said that the painful break-up she’d endured last fall was with a woman. Since then, he’d struggled with it, and some of their interactions were tinged with an unfamiliar stiffness.

“I’ll call her,” Meg relented.

“That’s my girl.” He said with obvious relief.

“But I drive her crazy. Even on the phone.” Her mom always asked whether Meg was seeing any nice young men at school and Meg would have to deflect those statements or tell her she was still getting over someone. Irene knew it had been a woman because Meg had told her, around the same time she’d told her dad. But since Irene had gone back to Kentucky, she’d found the Lord, and this particular Lord didn’t care much for gay people. Even those in your own family.

“She’s still your mom,” he said, tugging on his hair. “Find something you’re both interested in and keep the conversation there.”

“Yeah,” she said doubtfully. She stood up and put her hat on. “See you around, Dutchie.” She grinned at him and was out the door before he could toss the magazine after her.

She decided to put off the dreaded phone call and walked instead across the swath of hard-packed earth between Stan’s office and living space and the lodge, which had been the main ranch house before her grandfather had converted it in the fifties to accommodate space for kitchen and dining facilities that could have passed muster in a big-city restaurant. Stan had upgraded it two years ago. New appliances, better shelving, new pots and pans, new dishes. They’d even added a walk-in cooler. Alice, the chef and “Kitchen Queen,” as she called herself, more than approved of the changes. She’d been at the ranch since just before Meg’s mom had left, and she thought of her as family, now, like a favorite aunt.

She went in through the front, and the rich, heavy odor of cowboy chili greeted her, along with voices from the kitchen and the sound of a knife chopping something. She blinked in the dim dining room, after being out in the midday sun. Three long tables, decorated with blue-and-white checkered tablecloths, stood parallel to each other in the center of the big room. Each could seat fifteen on the benches, and some summers, they did. On rare occasions, they had to add another table. Meg hoped it was that kind of summer. The more paying guests, the happier her dad was.

She wiped her hands on her jeans and checked through the stack of mail on the closest table then went into the kitchen, through the swinging door that separated it from the dining room and entered Alice’s domain, which could rival something in one of those high-end cooking magazines.

“Hey, Meg,” said Anna, Alice’s prep cook, as she looked up from the cutting board on the island where she was chopping carrots.

“Hey.”

Alice emerged from the walk-in. “Hi, sweetie,” she said with a smile that, in conjunction with her swept-up hair, made her look like a glamorous 1940s actress, even when she had her cowboy duds on, as her dad called them. Jane Russell, Meg thought. That’s who Alice looked like, though her hair was a lighter color. She was in her late forties, now, but she was just as pretty as when she’d started working at the ranch. Alice always turned guys’ heads, but she was so down-to-earth that she didn’t seem to notice.

“Would you like a sandwich? You missed lunch.” She closed the walk-in door.

“Is the chili ready?” she asked hopefully.

“Not yet. Let me make you a sandwich.”

“Are you sure? I can just—”

She raised an eyebrow imperiously. “I am the Kitchen Queen. I have spoken. Go sit down.” She gestured at the counter by the back door.

“Yes, your majesty.” She walked around the island and hung her hat on one of the pegs by the door then sat down on one of the stools, her back to the counter so she could watch Alice and Anna. “We got another reservation.”

“Oh, good. I know your dad was worried about filling up,” Alice said as she sliced bread.

“He said that the reporter that was supposed to come broke her leg.”

She stopped slicing bread and looked over at her, concern written in the lines across her brow.

“The editor is trying to find another reporter who can come out on short notice.”

She went back to her sandwich making. “Well, that’s how journalists operate. They’re used to changes in plans.” Alice finished with the bread and started slicing part of a turkey breast. “How soon can the new one come?”

“They don’t know. I guess they’re trying to keep the same schedule, if they can find someone. But they might not be able to. So maybe the next couple of weeks or July.”

“Too bad. From what your dad said, the first one sounded like a good match for an assignment like this.” She spread deli mustard on one slice of bread and mayonnaise on the other then placed the slices of meat on the mayo piece and lettuce and tomato on the mustard piece. She’d add her “secret spices” next.

“Oh, and I’m not supposed to be an asshole.”

Anna snickered and Alice looked over at her, her lips twitching with a smile. She returned her gaze to Meg. “You’re hardly that.”

“Dad seems to think I am. He kind of makes me feel like I’m a teenager, still.”

“That’s his job as a parent. To make you feel like a teenager the rest of your life. And if it’s any consolation, you’re far from being a teenager. You’re your own woman. Just remember that to your dad, you’ll always be his little girl.”

“Then why is he freaking out that I’ll be an asshole to the reporter?”

“He’s just stressed, hon. He wants to make a good impression so the story gets a lot of attention.” She went over to one of the refrigerators and took out a jar of dill pickles.

“He thinks I have Mom’s temper and he thinks I don’t suffer fools. I guess he thinks if the reporter’s an idiot, I’ll let him or her know.”

She laughed. “Nothing wrong with pointing something out, and nothing wrong with a woman having a temper. You just need to learn how to direct it appropriately. And maybe soften the blow.” She retrieved a plate from under the stainless steel counter along the back wall. “Diplomacy, love.” she said. “The art of telling people they’re idiots without making them feel too bad about it.”

Anna giggled as she reached for another carrot.

Meg grinned. “I guess I might need to work on that a little bit.”

“Don’t hurt yourself,” Alice said with a smile.

Anna finished with the carrots and put them in a plastic tub that she carried into the walk-in. She had to duck her head, since she was pushing six feet tall. She’d never played team sports, for which her height probably would have served well. She was, however, an excellent barrel racer.

“I’m not going to screw this up,” Meg said. It still stung a little, that her dad thought she might.

“No, you’re not.” Alice brought the plate over to her. It looked like something out of a food magazine, with the pickle and chips arranged artfully around the sandwich halves.

Meg smiled. “Thanks. I love your sandwiches.”

She squeezed her shoulder. “Iced tea?”

“Yes, please.” She turned so she faced the counter and bit into the sandwich. Alice made the best. “How is it that your sandwiches always taste so good?” She said after she’d swallowed.

“Made with love.” Alice winked as she put a glass of tea and a napkin on the counter next to Meg’s plate.

“You’re the best-kept secret in the West. Please don’t ever leave us. But if you do, mention the Diamond Rock on your cooking show.”

She laughed and went to clean up. “You’re your father’s daughter.”

Meg continued to eat, Anna and Alice chatting amiably behind her. When she finished, she took the plate into the dishwashing room then went back into the kitchen where Alice was checking the chili. Anna must have gone into the dining room, because one of the swinging doors was moving.

Alice handed her a spoon. “One taste. No double-dipping.”

She laughed and took a spoonful, holding it over her cupped left hand so none would spill. She blew on it and tasted it. “Oh, my God. Best. Chili. Ever.” She finished the spoonful and Alice took the utensil from her.

“Make sure you tell the reporter that.”

“I won’t have to. One taste will prove it.”

Alice set the spoon aside and continued to stir one of the big pots on the stove.

“He’s still acting weird,” Meg said after a few more moments.

She stopped stirring and gave Meg her full attention. “About your break-up with Amanda?”

She nodded.

“He’ll come around.”

“I think he’s hoping that I was just experimenting, and now I’ll go find a boyfriend.”

“He also just wants to make sure you’re happy.” She reached up and brushed Meg’s hair out of her face, like a mom might. “Sweetie, your dad loves you more than life itself. But he’s a little traditional in some ways, and it’ll just take him a little bit to get used to the idea. Parents always have expectations for their children, and he’s having to revise some about you.”

“I feel like I screwed up. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him.” A knot tightened in her chest, and she hated this wedge that seemed to have come between her dad and her.

Alice pulled her into a hug. “You had to. Because this is part of you, and it’s not healthy to keep that all bottled up inside. I’m proud of you, for telling not only your dad but your mom.”

Meg groaned as Alice released her. “I’m supposed to call her.”

She gave her a sympathetic smile. “You are who you are, and you’re choosing to live your life on your terms.”

“She doesn’t like my terms.”

Well, it’s not for her to decide, is it?”

“She makes it seem that way.”

“You’ll get through.” She pecked her on the cheek. “Come and talk to me later tonight if you want.”

Meg nodded. “Thanks.”

Anna came back into the kitchen and Meg waved at her before she moved to the back door, where she retrieved her hat before she went outside. Across from the dining room and kitchen about thirty yards away stood the two-story structure dubbed “the motel,” modeled after a Northwoods hunting lodge for the guests, its rooms accessible from the outside. Covered verandas sheltered the walkways. Her father lived in quarters just off the office building, also across from the motel, and the hands lived in bunkhouses. All the structures surrounded a large packed-dirt parking area, like wagons circling a campsite.

She took the outside steps of the lodge to the second floor, where she lived. She alone occupied this level, unless they had extra guests. Otherwise, she kept the extra rooms closed up. Maybe the reporter’s story would bring them enough business that they’d be able to open these extra rooms. Her bootheels made hollow sounds on the wood and the metal roof of the veranda creaked and popped in the sun. She sighed as she opened the heavy wooden door into her foyer, hung her hat on one of the pegs near the entrance, and walked down the hallway toward her bedroom, where she kept a phone.

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8409423

Book Title: Some Kind of River
Author: Andi Marquette
Genre: Lesbian Romance (Novella)

Synopsis

River rafting guide and kayaking nut Dez Parker figures her best friend Mel Hammond just isn’t into her romantically, which bums Dez out because they’ll be spending the summer guiding together and Mel seems like the right kind of woman for her. Then again, Dez doesn’t want to ruin a friendship by admitting her feelings to Mel. That changes when she finds out that Mel might be interested in someone, and Dez is torn between wanting to take a chance and respecting Mel’s choice. Is it really too late for Dez? Or is there something she doesn’t know? Whichever it is, a summer on the river isn’t always a smooth ride.

Novella: 28,000 words

Meet the Author

me n hatAndi Marquette is a native of New Mexico and Colorado and an award-winning mystery, science fiction, and romance writer. She also has the dubious good fortune to be an editor who spent 15 years working in publishing, a career track that sucked her in while she was completing a doctorate in history. She is co-editor of the forthcoming All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance. Her most recent novels are Day of the Dead, the Goldie-nominated finalist The Edge of Rebellion, and the romance From the Hat Down, a follow-up to the Rainbow Award-winning novella, From the Boots Up.

When she’s not writing novels, novellas, and stories or co-editing anthologies, she serves as both an editor for Luna Station Quarterly, an ezine that features speculative fiction written by women and as co-admin of the popular blogsite Women and Words. When she’s not doing that, well, hopefully she’s managing to get a bit of sleep.

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