Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cover Reveal for Accidentally in Love!

So I just got my cover this morning
What do you think? 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Sneak Peek at Kam's Book

Okay, my Friends, here is my sneak peek.  I've got most of the edits done and I'm working on the cover right now, but I can't make you guys wait any longer for a little taste of Kam's story.  Plus I'm super excited :) I'd love to hear what you guys think.  By the way, I'm thinking the title should be Accidentally in Love.  Thoughts?
- Shannon

She had promised the Belinda Bakery girls to come for lunch again, and after the amazing food they’d so kindly given her yesterday, she was happy to oblige. That and she could use some friends outside of The Iron Skillet. 
She took Baby with her and they made the two mile walk in no time at all.  It was only eleven thirty, but she knew Friday night was going to stretch her, so an early lunch would be no big deal.  She hooked Baby’s leash to the railing outside and walked in, stopping and smelling again as the delightful scents of the bakery surrounded her in welcome.
“Are you going to do that every time you come in?”
She opened her eyes and laughed, as she noted the cute blond she’d met yesterday was grinning at her.
“You bet I will. How can anyone not?” she demanded and walked over to see all of the delightful creations in the cases.
“I guess we’re so used to it we don’t appreciate it anymore.”
Grace frowned at her. “Just head over to the local dump for an hour and then come back here.  Trust me, you’ll notice a difference.”
“No thanks. But I’m glad you came back today.  Jane won’t be in until two today.  She’ll be so ticked she missed you.  But you’ll get to meet Kit.  She’s going to cover for me while we have lunch and get to know each other.”
Grace smiled at the complete welcome and open friendship of this woman.  It was rare and very appreciated.  Most of her good friends had been slowly cultivated over years and years but here was this woman just feely offering her friendship as if friendship wasn’t the most precious thing a person could give someone.  Amazing.
“I’d love that,” she said simply, not knowing how to express her gratitude yet.
A beautiful red-head with a toddler on her hip walked out with a pan of what looked like fruit tarts in her hand.  The blond took the pan and expertly transferred them to an empty case while Kit kissed the little blond boy.
“You okay to take over?”
Kit nodded and then looked around, catching sight of her. “Of course, but first introduce me to the new Sous chef of The Iron Skillet.  I’ve been dying of curiosity.”
Grace snorted, amused that anyone could possible die of curiosity over her.
“I’m Grace and your little boy is gorgeous by the way.”
Kit’s eyes warmed and she smiled brightly at her.  “He is, isn’t he? I should be less prideful about my son, but I can’t help it. He’s the best little boy in the world.”
Grace laughed as the blond rolled her eyes.  “Ignore her. She’s one of those obnoxious mommies who likes to brag about their kids constantly.  If you give her an opening she’s going to start showing you Danny’s little crayon drawings.”
            Kit glared at her sister and Grace’s eyes widened, wondering what would happen next.  She’d never had a sister, but it looked kind of fun. 
“And to think I was going to babysit for you tonight so you and Michael could go on a date.  Forget it now.”
The blond sister laughed and took off her apron.  “I take it all back.  Danny is an artistic genius.”
Kit made a huffing sound and turned around, ignoring her sister now.
“So what will you have for lunch today?” she asked.
Grace shook her head, looking at the menu. “It all looks so good, but I’ll try the pesto and turkey panini, the tomato basil soup and for dessert … hmm, surprise me.”
“You got it.  She walked around getting the food and Grace walked over and picked a table at the back of the bakery with a view of the street.  Being the Pacific Northwest, the gray clouds were beginning to move in and she knew she’d be lucky to make it back home without getting wet at this rate.  Sometimes she dreamed of moving somewhere sunny like California or Arizona, but this was her home.  She could never leave.
“Here we are,”
Grace looked up and smiled at the array of delicious food in front of her.  “And what do we have here?” she asked, staring at the cookie, feeling a little disappointed.
“Hey, no frowning allowed.  If you don’t like it, you can pick something else you like, but honestly, a simple oatmeal cookie after lunch is still the best thing in the world. Don’t you know sometimes the showiest things are just all fluff and no substance? It’s true to life and cooking. Didn’t your grandma ever make you oatmeal cookies after school?” she asked.
Grace grinned, enjoying the conversation already.  Life truths with food and friends.  Could it get any better?
“I’ll trust you,” she assured her and took a bite of her panini.  “Oh, man, that is good,” she said simply and shut her eyes in enjoyment.
“I have a feeling that you spend most of your life with your eyes closed, trying to pick out all the flavors of everything you eat or smell.”
Grace blinked open her eyes and laughed loudly.  “You happen to be right.  What’s your name, by the way? I have a super hard time remembering names and yesterday was so crazy and I met so many people that it all just leaked out last night.”
The pretty blond flipped her long hair over her shoulder. “Layla. Layla Bender.  Co-owner of Belinda’s Bakery with my two sisters, Jane Matafeo and Kit Hunter.”
Grace nodded, intrigued.  “Three sisters running a bakery together.  That’s gotta be a dream come true.”
Layla paused and then smiled sweetly. “Yeah, it really is.  My family was what you would call dysfunctional and so when our grandmother left us her bakery in her will, it brought what was left of our family together.  Now we’re a family that is functioning and loving and we have a lot of fun together.  All of our kids are growing up together and we have a network of friends and family now that works. What about you? Do you have family here in Fircrest? Or did you just come for an adventure?”
Grace paused and chewed her bite before answering.  Layla was being open with her, so she should do the same.  “Well, I don’t actually have a family. My mom is living somewhere with someone doing something, but not sure on the particulars. And that’s it. No dad to speak of either. He and my mom were never married and he was never part of the picture.” she said, putting her hand over her heart as the pain flashed bright and then receded again.  “So it’s just me. I wouldn’t say I was on an adventure so much as on a journey.  Sometimes my heart tells me things and I’ve made it a rule to listen.  My heart said it was time to move on and that Fircrest was the place to be.  I have no idea why, but I can’t wait to find out,” she said, smiling out the window as she watched an older couple walk hand in hand down the sidewalk.
Layla made a humming sound in her throat as she took a sip of water.  “Fascinating. I can’t wait to find out either.  So what do you think of The Iron Skillet so far?”
Grace shrugged as she stirred her soup and frowned a little.  “It’s kind of a collage of different things right now.  I could give you a fake answer but I’d rather not.  It’s good and bad.  I’m in a kitchen where someone keeps turning off my music so I can’t dance or sing.  I have the restaurant manager glaring at me every chance she gets for no reason I can think of and my boss is stern, unhappy and not much fun.  But other than that? It’s okay,” she said honestly and took another bite of her panini.
Layla frowned and put her sandwich down, as she leaned her chin on her hands.
“I’m not surprised by anything you just said, but knowing your heart brought you here, I hope you give it a good chance before you give up on Fircrest.”
Grace smiled and nodded.  “I’m tougher than I look, but I don’t stick around in toxic environments either.  We’ll see if I can bring a little light to The Iron Skillet. If not, then there are other healthier, happier places to find.”
Layla frowned and nodded.  “True and smart.  I agree, but I hope you do bring some of that light that you have.  Out of all the places in Fircrest, The Iron Skillet’s kitchen needs light more than any other place I know.  Kam’s had a lot of heartache and pain in the past few years. It would be so good for him to let some light in.”
Grace’s eyebrows rose as she looked back at Layla.  “His eyes look so sad. I wondered if there was something wrong.  Is it something you can tell me? If not, that’s okay.  I don’t want to gossip, but if knowing what’s going on can help me understand him, then I’d like to know.”
Layla bit her lip and looked down at her hands for a moment before she looked up and nodded her head.  “Okay then, I trust you with this information because I care about Kam.  His wife, Bailey, died about three and half years ago in childbirth. It broke Kam’s heart and this town’s heart too.  We’ve been hurting for Kam every since.  He’s a single dad who’s basically living for his son, Nate. But if you only knew him before Bailey died, you would have met the kindest, happiest, most incredible man in the world. Now he’s just a shell of himself and that’s the biggest tragedy of all.”
Grace closed her eyes, feeling sad for her new boss and what he’d been through. “He needs a friend then? Is that what you’re saying?”
Layla blinked a few times and shook her head slowly. “Oh, he has plenty of friends. The whole town loves Kam. And he has a huge family that surrounds him with support.  No, I wouldn’t say he needs a friend although I hope you and Kam can become friends. I would say, he needs someone to help him come back to life.  I don’t know if that’s something you can do, but it would be interesting to see if you can.”
Grace looked away and frowned. “Bring a man back to life? That’s a lot to ask of someone.  The best I can hope for is to bring music back to that kitchen.”
Layla nodded her head in excitement. “But that’s exactly what I’m talking about! Bring music back to The Iron Skillet.  Dance in between orders. Bring some laughter and happiness back to that dark dungeon of a kitchen.”
Grace shrugged, still a little taken aback.  “All I can do is be me, Layla.  I mean, my heart goes out to the man, but to be healed of that kind of pain, you have to want to be healed, you know?  You have to actively seek out healing and light and he gave me the impression that he’s very comfortable in the dark with the pain and that’s where he wants to stay.  If that’s the case, then there’s nothing I can do.”
Layla sighed.  “You’re very perceptive and you’re right.  But it doesn’t take that much light to break up darkness. One little match in a dark cave can do wonders. He’s been cold and alone in the dark for too long.  Maybe being around your light and goodness will make him remember what life used to be and what it could be again.  It’s worth a try, isn’t it?”
Grace nodded her head, knowing that she’d been through some dark times too and she was so grateful she wasn’t there anymore.  Remembering her nightmare from the previous night, she nodded her head.  If she could help someone, of course she would.  She just felt weird having the responsibility squarely on her shoulders.
“I’ll do whatever I can but in the end, it’s his choice to be happy or not. No one can take on the responsibility for bringing a man back to life, no offense. But… I guess I can try.”
Layla smiled brightly at her and motioned towards the cookie. “Of course you will. Now, try my cookie.”
Grace sighed and picked up the unappealing cookie as she glanced at the cases of beautiful desserts she could be eating.  She closed her eyes automatically and smelled the cookie before taking a generous bite. The smell of nutmeg and cinnamon made her smile. She chewed and paused and then chewed again before swallowing.  She opened her eyes and grinned. 
“I get it.  Appearances are deceiving. This is incredible,” she said, taking another bite.  “The nutmeg is so warm and the chewy texture is incredible.  I love it.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t rest until I’ve tried everything you’ve made.”
Layla laughed and sat back, looking very pleased with herself.  “Excellent. Now, let’s talk Taryn.  You’re helping the whole town out by helping Kam, so I’ll help you with your mean Restaurant manager.”
Grace frowned and picked up a crumb.  “I’m not sure that’s possible. Picture an angry tiger with an appetite for Sous chefs and you’ve got Taryn. She took one look at me and automatically hated me.  And I hate to brag, but I’m actually a really likable person.  So this has come as a complete shock.”
Layla laughed and crossed her legs.  “Between you and me, she’s having some marriage problems.  She doesn’t feel she can trust her husband anymore and she’s not happy about having to move cross country. She’s taking it out on everyone around her. Trust me, I’ve heard from all of the waiters and waitresses who have passed through here on their way out of town.”
Grace shook her head. “Sad, but how can you help me if I’m her new target?”
Layla pursed her mouth.  “I can tell you her secret.  Her one weakness is my flourless chocolate cake.  You bring her one of my mini cakes in a cute box and I promise some of that fire will disappear.”
Grace frowned as she finished her cookie. “And if you’re wrong?”
Layla raised an eyebrow.  “Are you putting my skills down?”
Grace grinned before laughing a little.  “I wouldn’t dare.  But that reminds me, I promised all my new friends that I’d bring them a treat today from you guys. Candice wants cannoli but I have no idea about James, Manuel or Kam. Maybe Rob too just to be safe.”
Layla popped up and walked over to the counter. “Kit, help me out.  The kitchen staff at The Iron Skillet.  Can you remember what they like?”
The pretty redhead walked over, the toddler nowhere in sight now as she looked at her curiously.
“Trying to bribe everyone?” Kit asked with a teasing look.
Grace laughed and shook her head.  “Just trying to bring a little fun back to that kitchen.  I get the feeling they’ve been making the same thing for so long that they don’t even care anymore.  I was thinking that if I jump started everyone’s taste buds with some of these delightful pastries, they might be more excited about food.”
Kit nodded.  “Gotcha.  But they’re still going to love you for this.  James and Manuel . . . it’s been a while since they’ve been in but I’m thinking our mini-pineapple upside down cakes for Manuel and for James maybe one of our smore’s cupcakes.  Rob is a food snob, so I’d pick the roasted pear with the espresso mascarpone cream.”
Layla nodded her head. “Kit knows her stuff.  Good job.”
Grace held up a finger. “What about Kam? He said he doesn’t eat sweets anymore, but maybe something you guys have here might bring his appetite back.”
Kit and Layla exchanged a sad smile before Layla spoke.  “He used to love our Matafeo cupcakes.  Jane created them for her hubby, Tate but all the Matafeo’s are in love with them.  I honestly don’t know what could tempt him now.  Kit?”
Kit walked back and forth, looking at all of the contents of their display case and shook her head in deep thought.  Grace kept staring at the poppy seed cake with the passion fruit curd. That’s what she’d get if she was Kam. Heck, that’s what she’d get for herself. 
“Add in a slice of that cake for me while you’re thinking about it,” she said, blushing as Layla glanced at her.  “Hey, I know I just had a cookie, but you can’t blame me.  This place could tempt a saint.”
Kit nodded.  “It can tempt anyone except Kam Matafeo.  But if I was a betting woman, I’d bet on our banana pudding parfait. It’s simple. It’s comfort food at it’s best and it’s non-confrontational, you know?”
Grace laughed.  “Non-confrontational food.  I know what you mean.  I was looking at that roasted pear I’m getting for Rob and I was thinking, it would take a brave soul to think they’re cool enough to eat that.”
The sisters laughed and nodded.  “That’s the thing with Rob.  He doesn’t think he’s cool enough to eat the best.  He knows it.”
Grace grinned as the women boxed up all of her orders.  She took out her card to pay and then noticed a shelf of very innocent looking glazed donuts.  “Give me one of those too,” she said thoughtfully.
Kit frowned.  “A glazed donut? Who in the world is that for?”
Grace shrugged. “I don’t know yet, but I’m thinking someone needs one today.  I’ll let you know who it ends up with.”
Layla sighed happily.  “I actually really want to know now.  Come in again soon, Grace.  That light of yours is a lot of fun to be around.”
Grace rolled her eyes.  “That’s what they all say.  Have a good day, you gorgeous bakers.  And come by The Iron Skillet one of these nights so I can cook for you.”
Layla put her apron back on and nodded. “Why do you think Kit’s babysitting for me tonight?  Michael and I have reservations at seven.  You’ll have to come out to the table and meet my husband.”
Grace smiled. “I’ll make sure whoever waits on you lets me know.  I’ll make your dinner extra special,” she promised.
Kit pouted.  “Okay, I’m feeling very left out here.  I didn’t get to have lunch with you and now you’re making her special food.  Next week, it’s my turn.”

Grace opened the door as she held her large bakery box in one hand.  “Listen, Red, there’s plenty of me to go around.  See you two later,” she called out and hurried outside, glancing at her phone. 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

What in the world happend to Shannon Guymon?

So my friends, it's been too long since I've blogged.  I apologize. And I want to take this chance to tell you what's been going on and what I've been up to.  I feel like most of my readers are my friends so it's only right that you guys know what's up.  
So as most of you know, I was a single mom of six kids in 2011.  Before that, I'd write a book every now and then, but it was more like once a year. Some people might have called my writing a hobby. Pssht But after my divorce, I had a choice, do I get a job ... working in an office away from my kids.... being miserable - OR I could get serious about my writing and see where that takes me.  I prayed about it. A lot. And went with writing.  
I knew I'd have to write and write a lot.  I wrote under my pen name Katie Lee O'Guinn, and dove into the world of werewolves and witches. That was a lot of fun.  I also began writing contemporary women's romance. Clean romance and had a lot of fun doing that.  But in order to support my kids and pay the bills and put food in all the many tummies I needed to feed, I had to put out a book a month. Sometimes two.  
So many people would write me and ask me, how? How in the world are you writing a book a month.  I'll tell you the simple reason.  I had to. It's amazing what you find out you can do when you have no other choice.  My kids depended on me and I had no where else to turn.  Yes, I could have gone on welfare or gone to my church and there's no shame in that. But I knew I had it in me to stand up on my own two feet and see where that could take me.  
My brother Zach would go to the LTUE writer's conferences and come back with all the great advice and pass it on to me. He'd write down copious notes in the hopes of giving me the help and inspiration to make it.  My brother Zach Hill - amazing guy and a great uncle.  Also an amazing writer. I'll always be grateful to him for being my best friend and moral support during those crazy four years.

I still remember my first check from Amazon that came through.  I was sitting at the table and just staring in awe. I was literally shaking in my chair and had tears running down my face as I stared at the computer screen.  I called over my kids and sat them down and I said, I want to tell you about a miracle.  This miracle is just as big as the parting of the Red Sea.  God is good and God is looking out for us. His hand is over us and you should know that.

During those four years when I put out a book a month, the words flowed. I would sit down on the couch with my laptop and put my fingers to the keys and the words flowed like manna from Heaven, because that's what it was. It's hard for me to even take credit for my books because it was such a blatant gift from God.  I'd look down at the words I'd written sometimes and I'd say to myself, I'm not this good. This can't be from me.  And I was right. But it was through me that these books were written.
Last year though, 2015, I'd have to say the words didn't flow quite so fast and free. I could feel myself drying up.  Yes, I was dating a lot more which I think was good. I'd spent so many years writing about what I thought romance was it was high time I experienced it first hand. It had to help my writing to actually go on a date. It might even help me describe kissing if I could maybe actually kiss a real man.  

But then I did it, I went and fell in love.  It happened so fast and so wonderfully, that it felt like another gift from God.  One of the best gifts God could ever give to be honest.  And by the way, all those critics who like to tell me romance never happens that fast in real life? Ha! Sometimes it's faster, thank you very much. 
Well, then I did something really crazy, I jumped off the cliff and got married.  Yay! Best decision of my life.  Marrying my sweetheart has been amazing and wonderful and even better than I imagined it would be when I'd write about it in my Fircrest books.  Love is grand, my friends.  Love is amazing.
I've been married 6 months now and I have to say, these have been the happiest six months of my life. So much has changed and happened and I'm still in awe and so grateful for Heavenly Father for looking out for me.  Life has been hard. Incredibly hard at times, but for every sorrow, I know that God will make it up to us. If not in this life, then in the next to come for sure.  
What hasn't happened in the last six months though, is any writing.  I've had so many of you write in and ask when Kam's book will be out. And I haven't known what to say.  In a couple months, in a few months, but then a few months pass by and I have no book.
I have to tell you though, these last six months, along with being so amazing because I'm a newly wed, have been hard too.  
My beloved brother, Zach Hill, died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism that took his life instantly and with no warning, leaving his new bride a widow and the rest of his friends and family reeling in shock.  Mourning a brother who has died is hard. Mourning a brother who was your best friend and confidant and your biggest supporter is something I'm still trying to figure out how to do.  
So bear with me. 
We also had a wedding last month. I threw my first wedding shower and I think I did okay! And now I have another wedding coming up in June.  
So I'm being stretched in new and crazy and wonderful and hard and sad ways that I wasn't expecting. So I hope that all of my friends and readers will continue to bear with me and just know that I'm aware that you guys are waiting for Kam's story. 
Things are different for me now. My well was drying up last year. I was beginning to burn out and it was beginning to make me nervous. The tidal wave of words that would flow out of me, doesn't quite flow the same way.  Probably because my hubby is always dragging me away to romantic dates and kissing me and taking me on motorcycle rides and spoiling me rotten.  

But I want you to know that I will start working on it.  It won't come fast. It's not going to be done in a month or even two or three. But I will begin and see where that takes me.  
Also - of note and of great importance to me - I won another Swoony Award this year! Free Fallin' won Heidi's Choice award- So honored to be singled out. Thank you Swoony Awards!
And not to be forgotten, - California Dreamin'!
The CA Dreamin' collection received a 4.5 star review from InD'Tale Magazine which also means that it earned a Crown Heart award. My story Stay With Me, was so much fun to write. If you haven't read my short story, now's the time to enjoy a little beach time.
One last announcement: I've decided to take half of the proceeds from my Fircrest Series, and donate that money to the organization O.U.R.  - this organization is INCREDIBLE.  If I could give all of my money to them, I would because they help rescue little kids from being sex slaves.  Please go to their page and check out what they do. They even have a movie called the Abolitionists that I've seen at Megaplex. It shows exactly what they do and how they take down the sex traffickers who abuse these children for money.  
I will continue to support this cause in any way I can.  (I would actually love to go on a mission myself) hint hint O.U.R. But I hope you will also support this organization. 

My new webpage gives a link at the bottom of the page and pledges my support as well.  Last month I was able to send them a check for $1,363.00.  I hope to send them even more.  If my books can bring joy to others and at the same time help free little boys and girls from a hell I can't even comprehend, then that fills me with joy.  The only true joy I've found, is when we serve our fellow brothers and sisters.  It's all about bringing light to this sometimes dark world we live in.  I hope we can all do our part. 
So please know that I'm thinking about you and also thinking about Kam and where his story will take him.  His story will be the very last in the Fircrest series and then I will begin all over again in a new town with new friends and people that will hopefully lift you guys up and bring a little fun and laughter and romance to this world. 
Take care and do some good today,
your friend,

Monday, June 8, 2015

Official Announcement

Just wanted to let everyone know that At Last is now Live on Kindle!
 (Paperback will be available shortly) 
Here's the link.

Maya Tenney just wants to feel safe again. She never would have pictured herself as a woman who runs from danger, but being put in the hospital by a violent man has made her realize that staying alive is more important than her pride. She'll even move in with the grouchiest man she knows if that will scare off her ex.Tristan Jensen knows what it's like to deal with heartbreak, but he's not okay with anyone who hurts women. He's intrigued with Maya but he's done with women who manipulate and use others. Will these two be able to get past their misconceptions of each other or will they let pride destroy what could be a great love story?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cover Reveal Time!

Just waiting on the last edits now. 
Should be live next week!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Let's Celebrate Summer!

To celebrate Summer,
 I've decided to put a few of my books on sale. 
Who doesn't need a Kindle full of romance to go with that suntan lotion and the smell of chlorine?

All of these books will be on sale for $.99 all Summer long-

Here's the Amazon link.

Grab this one here.

Purchase here.

To buy.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

First Chapter from my newest, Book 3 in the Love and Weddings Trilogy, At Last

I asked for help on Facebook with the title for my newest book and a few people said that they thought At Last (Think Etta James) would be awesome. I agree! So to celebrate picking a title, here's the first chapter. Enjoy, my friends!

Chapter 1- Roommates

                Maya looked over her shoulder one last time before putting her groceries in the back of her car as a cold feeling crept over her. She wasn’t sure if the constant feeling of paranoia was her instincts trying to keep her safe, or if she was in fact, finally going crazy. She sighed tiredly and slammed the trunk down before returning the cart. She scanned the parking lot of the grocery store again as she reached for her keys and spotted a dark shadow moving away from the light by the corner of the building and paused with a frown. She swallowed nervously and hurried back to her car. It was probably nobody she knew.
                But then again …
                Paranoid or not, it was better to be safe than sorry. She locked her car doors as soon as she got in and drove quickly out of the parking lot and out onto the road with a squeal of tires. It had been a month since she’d kissed Pule Matafeo because she’d been certain Carter had found her. The very next day Pule’s police car had been trashed. Unfortunately, Posey Tyler had been arrested for destruction of a Police Vehicle. Maya snorted at the thought of Posey taking spray paint to Pule’s car and sticking a switch blade in his tire. The girl was head over heels in love with the Pule. Everyone had assumed Posey had lost it out of jealousy because she’d seen her kiss Pule, but there was no way a little quiet thing like Posey would turn to violence.
                Not, that had been all Carter.
                She shivered silently as she automatically touched her lips. Violence came so easily to some people. And violence came especially easy to Carter Ellison. They’d only been together four months when he hit her the first time. She’d broken up with him immediately and threatened to call the cops on him if he came near her again, but he’d wheedled his way back into her life and she still couldn’t figure out how he’d done it. Two months later, he lost his temper again and gave her a black eye. At that point, she smartened up and told her family and her friends and the police what was going on. She had put a restraining order on him, but that had just enraged him and he’d come after her while she was walking home after a night out with her friends. She’d ended up with three broken ribs, assorted cuts and abrasions and a concussion because he’d kicked her repeatedly in the head. If a neighbor hadn’t heard her screams and called the police, she’d be dead.
                Maya drove through the streets of Fircrest and smiled cynically at the quaint little town and all of the happy people who walked through life feeling safe and free. Would she ever feel safe again? She’d started to. After moving to Fircrest six months ago, she’d thought she’d gotten away from Carter. She’d left Dallas behind and hadn’t looked back. She purposefully picked a small little town far away so Carter would never find her. All she wanted to do was live in peace.
                 But in her bones, she knew he’d tracked her down.
                Maya pulled in front of her Condo she rented month to month and tried to get a grip on herself. Living in fear constantly was draining emotionally and physically and she was so tired of being scared. She glanced behind her, to see if she’d been followed and then hurried out of her car, grabbing her groceries and running up the stairs to her door. She heard the sound of a car driving slowly down the street and refused to turn around. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stick up as she fumbled with her keys in her haste to get inside. She could feel the powerful engine of the car directly behind her and pushed the door open, slamming it shut and locking it as she began to gasp with fear. She hurried to the window and pushed the curtain aside. The car she’d felt and heard behind her was idling right in front of her condo. She couldn’t see through the tinted windows but she could feel that someone was looking at her.
                Maya covered her mouth with her hand and backed away from the window. She hadn’t been able to convince Pule that Carter had been the one to vandalize his car. She couldn’t prove that Carter was the man in front of her condo now. But her gut was telling her she was in danger and she refused to ignore her instincts anymore. The last time she had, she’d ended up in the hospital.
                She picked up her bag of groceries and walked unsteadily into her kitchen. If she was right, and it was Carter, he knew where she lived and what’s more, he wanted her to know that he knew. Scaring her to death and driving her insane was probably part of his plan. If that was the case, she didn’t have much time before he made his move. It would be so easy for him to break into her house and all she had to protect herself was a little piece of paper that hadn’t stopped him last time and some mace. She put the milk away and then sat down, suddenly too tired to put the rest of her groceries away. She rested her head in her hands and felt a wave of hopelessness surround her.
                What she wouldn’t give to feel safe again. She closed her eyes and gave in to the despair that threatened to drown her. She reached for her phone to call her mom and then pulled her hand back. No. She refused to worry her mother any more than she already had. She could call one of her friends back home. They would understand. They’d seen her in the hospital and knew what Carter was capable of. But in the back of her mind, she knew that someone had to have told Carter where she’d moved to and she wasn’t sure who she could trust anymore.
                She could call Pule and tell him about being followed home except she wasn’t sure he suspected her of making Carter up just to get close to him. Her face burned with embarrassment at the way she’d thrown herself at Pule all with the end result in mind of being protected by him. She hadn’t wanted a boyfriend. She’d wanted a body guard. And he’d seen through her from the very beginning and had run as fast as he could into Posey’s arms.
                She sighed and ran her hands through her long, brown hair and stared at the ceiling. First things first, she couldn’t stay here anymore. She glanced around the apartment she’d grown to love and felt like crying. As a teenager girl, she’d been so strong and fearless and now, here she was running for her life and living in fear. She swallowed the bitter shame and pulled her laptop over.
                She pulled up the local classified and looked over the available apartments. She wanted to stay in Fircrest so she could be close to work. There were only five apartments available in Fircrest and three of them were out of her price range. She groaned as she read the next one. Must love cats since I have seven. Nope. She closed her eyes before looking at the last apartment ad.
                Need a roommate. Can’t be weird. Can’t be a drug addict and can’t have cats. I like things quiet and by quiet, I mean someone who likes to play X-box and watch all the movies I like. I don’t mind sharing my food if you clean the bathroom. Interested? Call Tristan. You can move in immediately.
                Maya grinned at the ad and reached for her phone. Immediately worked for her. She dialed the number and waited impatiently while it rang four times.
                Maya frowned at the masculine voice. She could have sworn Tristan was a girl’s name. “Uh, I saw the ad online for the apartment. Is this Tristan?” she asked, as she began to chew on her thumbnail.
                The man sighed on the other line before answering. “Yeah, this is Tristan and no, Tristan is not a girl’s name. Look it up. Tristan and Isolde. Great literature.”
                Maya groaned and leaned her head in her hands. “Dang it. I really needed this apartment,” she said, feeling the tightening in her throat as she fought back sudden tears.
                “I don’t care if you’re a girl. You can come look at the apartment right now since I’m here. I’ve got practice in an hour though so it’s now or never. I’ve got someone else coming to check out the apartment tomorrow morning. First one with the deposit wins,” he said, yawning loudly into the phone.
                Maya blinked back the moisture and sat up straight. “Wait, seriously? You’d be okay with a girl for a roommate?”
                Tristan blew out a breath as if he was bored with the conversation. “It doesn’t bother me. If it bothers you, then I’m sure there are plenty other apartments out there.”
                Maya tapped her fingers on the table. Should she? It might be nice having a guy as a roommate. She could kill two birds with one stone. Carter would think she was living with a boyfriend and might back off. She made up her mind.
                “Give me your address. I’ll come over right now,” she said in a strong voice as she smiled.
                Tristan gave her the address and hung up without even saying goodbye. Maya stared at her phone and shrugged. Her future roommate was a little grumpy. All the better. She grabbed her keys and her purse and hurried outside, looking up and down the street for the car that had followed her. She followed the directions but gave up ten minutes later and used her maps app on her phone to find the place. She drove down towards the Puget Sound and felt a little excitement slip in. An apartment by the water would be incredible. She turned down a gravel road and stopped in front of an older house that looked like it had been built in the seventies. The flat roof and the glass made her smile as she got out and lifted her face to the salty air.
                She rang the doorbell and glanced around, noting the flowers and trees and bushes. The man might be grumpy but he obviously loved beautiful things and took care of them. The door opened suddenly and she blinked in surprise. He looked familiar. Very familiar. She frowned as she looked him up and down, noting that he had to be at least six feet two inches. His bright blond hair was cut super short and he’d grown a short beard, but there was no mistaking those silver eyes.
                “You’re Meredith’s brother, aren’t you? I’ve seen you at a couple rugby games and at the diner. We’ve met before,” she said, frowning in disappointment.
                Tristan looked back at her coolly as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Yeah, I’m Meredith’s brother and you’re the yoga instructor who’s after Pule, right?”
                Maya blushed and flipped her hair over her shoulder as she lifted her chin. “Good luck finding a roommate. I’ve decided I’m not interested,” she said with as much dignity as she could and then turned and walked away, taking out her car keys and cursing the day she’d come to Fircrest.
                “Not so fast.”
                Maya paused and looked over her shoulder. “What?”
                Tristan leaned in his doorway and narrowed his eyes at her. “You came all this way, you might as well look at the place.”
                Maya raised an eyebrow and smiled. “You have a rule against cats and I have a rule against jerks. No thanks,” she said and sighed as she realized she’d have to start looking for a new place in Tacoma. She hated driving through Tacoma’s busy traffic with a passion but it would be worth it if she could feel safe.
                “Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that about Pule. I get how women can get hung up over a guy and not think straight. I won’t bring up your love life. Really, you can come look at the place and I won’t say a word.”
                Maya frowned and turned around slowly as she stared at the man. He had some goofy smile on his face as if he wasn’t used to smiling and wasn’t sure how to do it anymore. He looked all stiff and weird.
                “What’s really going on? Who’s coming to look at the place tomorrow?” she asked.
                Tristan sighed and ran a hand through his bright hair. “An old college roommate who drives me nuts. He drinks, he smells and he was always having people over. I like things quiet.”
                Maya rolled her eyes and considered it. The man was grumpy and rude but that might work to her advantage if Carter ever tried to come to the door. And he was huge. Carter was only five feet ten and Tristan would intimidate anyone. Maybe she should check it out.
                “Fine,” she said half-heartedly and walked back to the house.
                Tristan’s face relaxed, not into a smile, but something that could be a close relative. “Welcome to my home,” he said as he moved back so she could walk through the door.
                Maya blinked to adjust her eyes as she walked down the hallway and into a large open area that made up the family room, eating area and kitchen.
                “I knocked down a few walls to open the space up,” Tristan said, as he flipped on a few lights.
                Maya noted the hardwood floors and the warm yellow walls and smiled. “You have good taste. It’s very inviting.”
                Tristan’s mouth quivered on the side and Maya watched in curiosity wondering if the man was incapable of smiling. She walked over to the French doors that led out to the back yard. She opened the door and stepped out onto a large patio and gasped.
                “Your view,” she whispered as she held a hand over her heart.
                Tristan moved to stand next to her and they stood in silence as they watched the boats skim across the water of the Puget Sound. “I spend a lot of time out here,” he said pointing to the comfortable lounge chairs.
                Maya walked over to the railing and lifted her face to the wind as she closed her eyes and felt something she hadn’t felt in a while. Good. She felt good, standing out here so close to the water and the sky.
                “I’m actually tempted now,” she said, opening her eyes and smiling.
                Tristan shrugged. “You haven’t even seen the room yet.”
                Maya blinked in surprise. “It’s nice?”
                Tristan turned and walked back into the house and she was forced to follow him. He led her back down a different hallway to a large room with pale blue walls and a crystal chandelier. There was a large, iron bed and an heirloom quilt that had her running her hand over the soft cotton. She turned and noted the antique dresser and the pictures on the wall that were photographs.
                She walked over and stared at the pictures of mountains and trees and turned to look at Tristan questioningly. “Yours?”
                Tristan nodded. “It’s my hobby.”
                Maya blinked in surprise and had to admit that there was more to this surly guy than she’d thought. “This room, this house… it’s amazing. But I’m curious. Why do you need a roommate? I mean, this house is gorgeous and you’ve obviously spent a lot of time and energy and money on it. Why in the world would you want some stranger to invade your personal space?”
                Tristan’s eyes went dark and gray as he looked away from her. “A few reasons. I have a dog and she needs more company than me. That, and my parents are worried that I don’t interact with other humans enough. They worry. And the rent money is going towards a boat I want to buy.”
                Maya laughed. “Just get a loan like everyone else does. You’re really going to save the money before buying something you want?”
                Tristan rolled her eyes. “I’ve seen a lot of my friends declare bankruptcy in the past few years. They all had the same theory on money as you do. I’m a little old fashioned, but then again, I own my own house and my car. Do you?”
                Maya cleared her throat and looked away. She had a few credit cards and she probably, definitely needed to be better with money.
                “Okay, I get it. You’re a recluse with a bad attitude and a tight hold on his pennies. Can I move in tonight?”
                Tristan blinked in surprise. “Really? You want to move in?”
                Maya glanced at the bed and then out the large bay window and smiled a little. “I do. Where’s the contract?”

                Tristan didn’t smile but his eyes warmed briefly as he turned and walked out of the room. Maya walked over and stared out the window for a moment before following him. Two hours later she was unpacking her clothes as she docked her phone and listened to I’m like a bird by Nelly Furtado.

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