BLURB FOR MEAGAN’S MARINE
Can he take on the mother and son challenge before she decides he’s not worth the risk?
It’s tough going for single mom, Meagan Hutton. She has to keep up with an active three-year-old son, her job as bartender extraordinaire at Red’s nightclub, and her online college classes—all while doing whatever she can to make ends meet. Throw in paranormal activity of the creepy kind, happening with disturbing frequency in her home, and she’s struggling just to stay sane. The last thing she needs is a handsome, though hesitant, Marine sniffing around her or her son.
Master Sergeant Mitchell Hebert, recently retired from the U.S. Marines, likes keeping things simple. He’s had an easy time of it, right up until a pretty barmaid with a Texas twang crept her way into every thought his last several months in the middle east. When they met a year ago, a relationship seemed promising, until he discovered she was a package deal. Turns out, her ex-fiancé, a fellow Marine who lost his life in Afghanistan, left her with a son to raise on her own…and a little something extra.
Note from the author:
The Halos and Horns series is filled with new characters you’ll love, along with frequent appearances of old favorites from my La Fleur de Love series. Enjoy!
~ Lori Leger ~
The Armpit of the Middle East
“Well, I’ll be damned!”
Master Sergeant Mitchell Hebert fell on his cot with a pensive sigh. The lean, muscular Marine lifted his arms over his head, and stretched to his full 6’ length.
Sergeant Matthew “Tex” Broussard swaggered over to Mitch, leaned his massive frame against the makeshift desk made from wooden crates. “You’re already in Afghanistan, the arm pit of the Middle East. How much more damned could you be?” The East Texas drawl that prompted his nickname in boot camp twenty years earlier, still present and accounted for. “What’s up, Cajun Heat?”
“Looks like I’ll have time for that barbeque at your place after all, Tex. My sister, Sarah, is getting married in two weeks. My soon to be brother-in-law emailed me to see if I could walk her down the aisle in my dress blues two Saturdays from now. He doesn’t want her to know he contacted me, but wants me to show up just in time for the ceremony.” Mitch grinned at his friend, his Marine brother he considered as close as blood.
Tex beamed at him, revealing his pearly whites. “That’s great, man. She still doesn’t know you’re going home for good?”
“Nope. I want to surprise her. Sarah’s wanted this for so long.”
“She’ll be surprised, all right,” Tex snorted. “You’re gonna give that poor girl a heart attack on her wedding day. So, what gives with the guy she’s hitching? You think he’ll be good to her?”
Mitch scratched at his two-day stubble. “I think this one’s worthy of her, Tex.”
“Well, if he ain’t, I’m sure you’ll be there to whip him into shape.”
Mitch stretched out on the cot. “You got that right. I dropped the ball for years with that first son of a bitch she married. That ain’t happening again.”
“Man, you couldn’t stop what you didn’t know about. She kept all that from you.”
“I know. She took beatings so I wouldn’t be distracted over here.” He muttered a low string of curses. “I owe her, man. She had to deal with my mom’s cancer, then dad dying, and she did it all on her own. She was just a kid when I joined up, and she’s had it rough.”
Tex grunted in agreement before tossing a dirty sock at Mitch. “Well, if that dude’s really a brain surgeon like you said he is, she won’t have it rough anymore. Big brother will be around this time to make sure nobody’s mistreating his little sis. I can understand how you feel, though. God help the poor bastard who ever lays a hand on my little sister, Haley.”
“Damn straight.” Mitch shuddered at the stinky sock and threw it back at Tex, who caught it before leaving the room. He settled back on his cot and thought about his sister and her impending nuptials to Dr. Tanner Collins.
For nearly a year, he’d beaten himself up about nearly losing her to an abusive husband. She’d tried hard to escape, had moved into a woman’s shelter and began divorce proceedings. The controlling bastard had tracked her down, kidnapped her and her twin babies. After beating the hell out of Sarah, he’d left her and the girls locked up with no food for nearly a week while he went to work on a land rig. Her breast-feeding had sustained the infants, but had nearly killed their mother. Finally, someone had heard the cries and they’d been rescued.
Mitch clenched his fist, regretting his no good brother-in-law had met an untimely demise in the treacherous storm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. What a waste. He’d longed to give the bastard a painful reminder of what a man could and would do to protect his family.
He settled in for an unaccustomed nap, on what would be his last afternoon in Afghanistan. He owed it to his sister and nieces to be there for them. After twenty years as a Marine, maybe he owed it to himself as well.
His eyes drifted shut, and his thoughts shifted from his sister, to a pair of cobalt blue eyes framed by long, black lashes. A face materialized suddenly, one with a perky nose, slightly cleft chin, and high cheekbones, with hair as black as coal. He pictured the engaging smile of a certain bar maid in Lake Coburn, Louisiana—her straight, white teeth and pouty red lips—lips made for kissing, though he hadn’t had the opportunity on their one and only date his last visit home. Not one that counted, anyway. He’d wanted to, but she held back, pulled herself away from him. It hadn’t stopped him from fantasizing about her, holding her tight little body in his arms.
The initial image faded, turning instead to one of her, this time holding a little boy…the spitting image of his mama. His gut wrenched painfully. No way in hell was he ready for the commitment of a woman with a child.
He winced as Tex’s drawl floated to him from outside the tent. Why, he asked himself, for the thousandth time, did Meagan have to speak with the same twang as a guy he saw and heard nearly every day since he’d been back here? Each time he heard it, he couldn’t help but think of her.
Mitch folded his pillow over his head, issuing a silent plea that Tex would just once, shut the hell up. It didn’t work, of course, as the twang filtered through the barely there pillow.
Not good. Not good at all.
Weddings, Receptions and Misconceptions
Meagan Hutton released her breath in a rush as she entered the room where the bride waited impatiently. “Oh, honey! Tanner is going to flip when he sees you.”
Sarah faced the full-length mirror and ran both hands down her sides. “I can’t believe it’s me in this gorgeous dress.” She looked up, catching the reflected gazes of her friends. “It still feels like a dream. No way could I ever be this happy.” She smoothed down the delicate layers of champagne colored silk and lace clinging to her slim body. “I just wish my brother could have been here to give me away.”
Meagan stepped forward, taking her by the shoulders. “Today’s not the day for regrets, Sarah. None, whatsoever. You know he’d be here if he could, and he sure as heck wouldn’t want you to be sad about it.”
Sarah dabbed at the corner of her eye with a tissue. “I know, and you’re right, Meg. No regrets, not today.” She spun around, letting the dress flare out around her. “I’m so ready to marry Tanner. Is it almost time?”
A swift rapping on the door had them all pivoting in that direction.
“Is it safe to come in?” Daniel LeBlanc’s voice sounded muffled through the thickness of the wooden door.
Tiffany McAllister headed to the door and opened it a crack for her own father. “As long as you don’t have Tanner with you. I don’t want him seeing his bride until she’s walking down that aisle.”
Daniel chuckled, tugging on his elegant black tux. “No, but someone almost as important to her. It seems I’m being robbed of my bride escorting duties for the day.”
Tiffany released a shocked gasp a second before she pulled the door open for the U.S. Marine to enter the room.
Sarah flew to Mitchell and threw her arms around him. “What are you doing here, big brother?”
Mitch wrapped his sister in a bear hug. “You didn’t think I’d miss your wedding, did you?”
Sarah laughed, straightening her dress as he finally released her. “I didn’t think they’d give you leave again this soon. How did you manage this?”
He shrugged a sharply jacketed shoulder. “Turns out your timing was impeccable. I’m out, Sis. For good, this time.”
Sarah waved her hands in front of her eyes, trying not to cry. “Seriously? I don’t want to ruin my make up, but this would be so worth it.”
Even through Sarah’s tears and squeals of excitement, all Meagan could do was stare at the vision before her. Mitch Hebert in plain old jeans and a tee shirt had been a pleasure to behold nearly a year earlier during their first meeting. The sight of Master Sergeant Mitchell Hebert in full dress blues, complete with his cover and white gloves, was enough to turn her insides to liquid heat.
Out for good. Permanently. No more praying for his safe-keeping while he was in Afghanistan, without his knowledge, of course. Maybe now she could manage to relax a little?
A second later, his gaze found hers, pinning her to the spot.
Meagan’s breath hitched in her throat at the perceptible widening of his eyes. Maybe not.
Amazon buy link for MEAGAN’S MARINE
BLURBS FOR CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT
BABY BLUES CHRISTMAS - Cathryn and Zach are newlyweds juggling business and careers, breaking and entering, and the tough task of baby making. Throw in a little family drama and a dark secret and it makes for a memorable first Christmas together. ~ Lori Leger
CHRISTMAS IN WHISTLER - Hurt by her ex-husband and his scheming girlfriend, Daria Stark hopes to leave her heartbreak behind during a week-long ski trip over the holidays. Can a sexy frenchman brighten her aura before she heads home to reality? ~ Kim Hornsby
GIFT FROM THE HEART - Simone escaped her past for ten long years, but when an old crush appears from out of nowhere, Christmas takes a nostalgic turn for the worst. Will it eventually bring her the peace and forgiveness she’s been missing in her life, or another case of heartbreak she can’t outrun? ~ Trish F. Leger
A HEART AWAKENS - As soon as Cara adopts a clever puppy, her life begins to change. When the widowed freelance writer starts to fall for a hunky landscaper, past troubles and feelings of loyalty to her dead husband threaten her chance at happiness ~ Karen Sue Burns
ONE STEP OVER THE MISTLETOE LINE - Claire’s plan to get away to a cabin for Christmas goes from perfect to complicated when her handsome neighbor RJ shows up in the middle of a snow storm. She immediately realizes the potential for trouble at this cozy cabin with bear skin rug and hot toddies aplenty. As if a Christmas Eve couldn’t get any more dangerous, there’s a bad Santa afoot. ~ Carmine Valentine
Cathryn Ferguson waited a full ten minutes before checking the EPT test stick. Her eyes squeezed tightly shut, she opened the door as she whispered a silent prayer.
“Only positive thoughts,” she murmured.
Cat opened her eyes, stared at the strip on the countertop, and released her breath with a hiss and a mild curse.
She picked up the test strip to stare at the negative symbol before tossing it into the trash. She’d hoped to be pregnant by Christmas, but at this rate, that wouldn’t happen.
It may never happen.
She cringed inwardly, remembering Dr. Brown’s words just after he’d performed surgery to correct her endometriosis condition. It had only been two weeks after she and Zach had returned from their honeymoon.
“With a condition as severe as yours, Cathryn, it could take years and another surgery or two to get pregnant. And, there’s the possibility that—well—it may never happen."
It was difficult to stay positive with those odds looming over her head.
A bluish-gray ball of fur wrapped itself around her legs as she walked out. She lifted her cat, a gift from her husband, Zachary, after she’d left Dallas to move back home to Lake Erin, Louisiana in March. The tom touched her face gently with one paw, as though trying to tell her he was there for her. It amazed her that Chableu always seemed to know when she needed a little extra loving.
“You’re my good, sweet, boy aren’t you? Yes, you are,” she crooned. Chableu rubbed his head under her chin and purred like there was no tomorrow.
She carried him to the open living room of the Acadian style home Zachary had built nearly six years earlier. She’d fallen in love with this place the moment she’d seen it, even as messy as it had been at the time. Cathryn smiled, remembering it as it had been, littered with empty beer bottles, tattered furniture, and everything covered in dog hair. A vast difference from the showcase home the two of them had created together. They’d filled the place with period pieces, memorabilia, and artifacts from their Cajun ancestors’ way of life, such as hand tools and small farming implements. They also displayed their own collections of books and artwork.
As she sat with Chableu in one arm and her notebook computer in the other, she heard her husband’s truck roll onto the drive.
Cat scooted from the sofa to meet him at the kitchen door. “What are you doing home?”
“I forgot something. Hey, did you hear that the electronics store got broken into?” He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her, giving her a big kiss.
She returned it willingly, taking it a step further by wrapping her legs around his hips. “Nope, I hadn’t heard that. Did they steal a lot of stuff?”
“Nope, just did some damage to the building itself. Broke windows, spray painted all over the interior. Mm—damn that feels good.”
Cat smiled as she massaged the back of his scalp, hoping to relieve his tension. She craved the touch of this man. Looking back on it, she wondered how she’d managed to miss the fact that she’d always been in love with him. It had taken twelve years being away from him, before she’d realized that the one thing missing in every relationship she’d ever had, was Zachary. No man had ever measured up to him, and no man ever would.
“Can you stay?” She started pulling at the snaps on his long sleeve western shirt.
“I hadn’t planned on it. Just came by to pick up the suppliers agreement with the LeMaire’s.”
“And . . . ” She opened his shirt and slipped her hands over his smooth skin, molding them to the shape of his chiseled abs. Zach didn’t need a gym membership to stay in shape, not when he worked as hard as he did at their business, the only feed-store in town.
“They’re ready to sign it,” he said.
“Great, is that for two years?”
“Nah, I gave it to them for one year. I figure they’ll be so bowled over by the excellent services we offer, they won’t want to leave me at the end of the year.”
“Mm, and I can verify that you’re the man when it comes to servicing.” She nipped at his earlobe. “Can you stay?”
His low growl rumbled in her ear. “When you ask like that, how can I refuse?” He carried her to the master suite and dropped her on the bed they’d waited until their wedding night to christen. Since then it had endured a steady stream of lovemaking episodes, as did the couch, the recliner, the utility room, and even once on the front porch swing.
“Take your boots off, cowboy.”
He grinned at her, his blue eyes sparkling with laughter. “Are you sure? I might get better traction with ‘em on.”
“You don’t have a problem with traction, trust me Zach-attack.” She helped him pull the boots off and giggled when he got on his knees and kissed her belly.
The shrill ring of the phone cut through the air.
He looked at her. “You want me to get that?”
“I know it’s Mom. She’s the only one who uses the landline.”
“Go ahead and answer it.”
She lifted the phone from its cradle, smiling at the name flashing across the screen. “Hey my Mama, how are you this glorious day?”
“It surely is, isn’t it? I’m fine, I wanted to see if you were free for lunch today. I feel like treating my two girls at my favorite Mexican restaurant.”
Cat checked the time. “Yeah, I guess I can make lunch. Cilantros it is, at what time?” She giggled as Zach unzipped her jeans and started sliding them down her legs. “Stop, you’re tickling me,” she hissed at her husband.
“What’s that, Cat?” Ellen McDaniel said from the other end of the line.
“Nothing…what time?” She held her finger to her mouth when her husband unhooked the front clasp of her bra.
“How about an early lunch? Say 11:00?”
“Mm,” Cat bit back a low growl as Zach buried his face between her breasts. “I can’t make it for 11:00, Mom. 11:30 maybe, but if I’m a little late, start without me.”
Zach lifted his head and grinned at his wife. “We’re making you another grandbaby, Ms. Ellen!” he called out.
“Zachary—shh.” Cat clamped a hand over the mouthpiece.
“Oooh . . . Well, I certainly don’t want to interrupt that. Make it for noon, and if you don’t show up, that’s fine, too.”
Cathryn laughed at her mother’s comment. “See you there, Mom.”
Zach took the phone from her and put it on the table. “You’re mom’s so freaking cool about her daughter having sex.”
“She wants several grandbabies, bottom line, and will do anything to get that.”
Zach buried his face between her breasts and gave a deep chuckle. “Well, then—let’s see what we can do about giving her what she wants.”
Amazon Buy Link for CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHT
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I'VE ALWAYS BEEN HELPFUL TO MY FELLOW AUTHORS TO GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT THEIR WORK BECAUSE I THINK IT'S BEST TO HELP OUT EVERYONE INSTEAD OF WORKING AGAINST EACH OTHER AT TIMES.
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