Monday, December 8, 2014

The Swoony Awards! (Yes I'm nominated and yes I want you to vote for me)

What Are the Swoony Awards?
The Swoony Awards were created to recognize excellence in clean fiction. There are so many books published every day and it can be hard to find the ones worth reading. We want to help recognize authors who write entertaining books that are wholesome. It’s our hope that each year we will help provide everyone with a great list of books to read and maybe introduce them to new authors. 

What Are the Eligibility Requirements?
-Publication Year: Only books published during the current contest year may be nominated. To be fair to all books, contest dates will run from December 1, 2013 – November 31, 2014. 
-Clean romance: No sex or closed door, low/mild innuendo. Only M/F romances. 
-Language: None/mild, anything over a handful of profanity (especially the more offensive words) would not be considered clean.
-Violence: None/mild
-Other: Nothing overly dark, depressing or heavy subject matter

Novels, novellas and short stories are all eligible for nomination, no limits on page number. Any (clean) genre is eligible (i.e. contemporary, fantasy, mystery, historical, etc.).

Each voter is able to choose up to 100 books to vote on or nominate each contest year. There is no cap on the overall number of books nominated. 

How Are Winners Selected?
We will be accepting entries throughout the year and the winners announced the first week in January. There are fifteen award categories (i.e. Best Novel of the Year, Best Historical, Best Contemporary, etc.). Winner’s will be announced via our blogs (Bookworm Nation, KJ’s Book Nook and Katie’s Clean Book Reviews) and through Goodreads Swoony Awards Group. 

Since this is a reader’s choice award the winners are determined by a combination of the number of votes received and how high the voter rated the book and what rank the voter gave each book they voted for. 

Who Are We?

Kathy (Bookworm Nation)
I've been hosting a book review blog, Bookworm Nation, for over five years. I love to read and review books. And of course, I love to discuss books! A few years ago I started the Goodreads group, Happily Ever After Book Club. It's through Goodreads that I met Katie, Kathy Jo and Heidi and while discussing our love of books one day we thought it'd be fun to host our own Reader's Choice award. We're excited to introduce the Swoony's this year, it's going really well and we look forward to hosting it for years to come. 
Contact Info for Kathy:
Twitter: @bookwormnation

Kathy Jo (KJ's Book Nook)
This may come as a shocker but I have NOT always been a little bookworm. In fact growing up I was not the kid you saw jumping at the chance to read. I was the one that just did it to make my teachers happy. That silent reading time during school?! Yeah.. I was the kid napping! ;) About 12 years ago someone loaned me a book and said I just HAD to read it. I took it just to get them off my back and much to my surprise I could NOT put it down! And from then on I would read... but only that one author. I refused to read anything else! It wasn't until 2009 when 2 of my favorite people introduced me to the Twilight Series that I actually started branching out. And ever since then I haven't been able to STOP reading! ;) About 5 months ago I decided to start a book blog and I have been loving it! I get to be another voice for all the amazing authors that I love! How cool is that?! And of course through my adventures in reading I have been able to meet some amazing women who love books just as much as, if not more than, me! I love chatting with them about all the books we read! We have become such great friends that at times I forget that I've never really met them in person! Books just have a way of bringing people together! My reading choices vary... I love a lot of different genres.With that said... I am not ashamed to admit that I am a romantic and I love fluff! As long as it's clean and has a HEA, I'll definitely give it a try! Any book that gives me a break from reality and puts a smile on my face is definitely a book for me!    
Contact Info for Kathy Jo:
Twitter: @kjincali 

Katie (Katie's Clean Book Collection)
I started blogging about a year and a half ago. I've always loved to read and talk about books--it's my obsession. The first book I learned to read on my own was Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. I love a lot of different genres, but my favorite is clean romance, which is perfect for the Swoony's! I've had a blast meeting new friends who enjoy the same types of books that I do. 

Contact Info for Katie:
Twitter: @lilacqueen75
I'm a mother of four amazing kids and married to my own Prince Charming. I love to read, kiss my handsome Prince, bake, run (because I love to bake), ride horses, play sports, and spend time with my little family. I first fell in love with reading at a very young age because of my sweet grandmother who always took the time to read me my favorite books over and over again. She could never tell me no. My wonderful mother is also entirely addicted to reading and we love to "talk books" late into the night....and plot how we are going to buy more. :) I adore clean, happily ever after books, and I've loved getting to know so many other women who do as well. Who knew books would be the reason I would meet some of the dearest people in the world?!  
Contact Info for Heidi:

Note to Authors:
If you’ve written a book that matches the above criteria fill free to nominate it for a Swoony! Don’t be afraid to promote the award or to let your fans know your book is up and that it needs votes. We are doing some promoting, but sometimes a Facebook, Twitter or blog post directly from the author is the best way to let your fan base know your book has been nominated. Only books with a minimum of THREE votes will be added to the official nomination list found on the Goodreads Swoony Awards group page. Winners will be announced January 2015.
To stay up to date on voting and nominations, please join our GoodreadsSwoony Awards group page!

Note to Readers: 
If you’ve read a book this year that you think is awesome…VOTE! This is a great way to let authors know you appreciate all that hard work. You can vote for up to 100 books on the list. We’ve also learned that the order you rank the books you vote on does affect the overall score of the book. So take a minute and make sure you have your books in the order you want them. Invite your friends to vote! Voting ends December 31, 2014.
The 2014 Swoony Awards is now accepting nominations and votes for your favorite books of the year. Polls will be open until December 31, 2014. 

Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

As a thank you for making the Swoony Awards a success,
we'd like to offer an Amazon gift card! The winner will
have 48 hours to claim the prize. Only valid
where Amazon gift cards may be used. You must
be 13 or older to enter.

To Enter go to:

Monday, December 1, 2014

And so it begins ...

Is it too early to say Merry Christmas?

   Merry Christmas! And to start the season off right, I want to tell you about a few awesome deals that will put you in the best mood for the season.  
   My two Christmas Novellas based on my Alpine series were both $2.99 but for the whole month of December you can grab them (or give them as gifts) for just $.99.

Here's the link.

                 Here's the link.

But that's not all! My book Come to Me is featured in a Triple Treat Box set for just $2.99. Here's the link.

   Books and deals aside, I want to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas. I hope that this season, we all wrap our arms around our loved ones and hold them close. Let's remember it's about love and not how many presents are under the tree. Love you all!
- Shannon

Thursday, October 30, 2014

KJ's Book Nook - A blog you should be reading. Really. Read it.

     So there's this amazing blog called KJ's Book Nook. Like, I'm talking - incredible.  Yeah, I know there are tons of book blogs out there. And there are a ton of great book blogs out there.  I read a lot of them so I know.  But here's the thing about KJ's Book Nook that is so unique and flat out awesome.  She casts the characters for you from your favorite books.  And it's kind of a big deal because she's SPOT ON
     As a writer, I can clearly see these people in my mind and I'm aware that everyone see's what they want to see, but this chick, (amazingly psychic chick), is pulling these characters right out of my mind. Yesterday, I was actually blown away by how accurate she was. My mouth was literally hanging open.  
     So if you're a fan of my books, either my romance trilogies or my books written under my pen name, Katie Lee O'Guinn, then you have to check this blog out. She just did a review of my book Taken, (thank you!!) and the casting is perfection. Holy. Cow. Gideon. My heart is still beating fast.  :)  So check it out and let me know what you think! Oh, and here's the link.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Which of my books is now FREE on Kindle? (for a few days)

Falling for Rayne!

   Do you enjoy Clean Romance with a dash of humor and intrigue? If so, this is the book for you. Let your friends know and help me get the word out!Here's the link. 

Garrett Murphy is used to rejection. As a child, he was rejected by his mother and as a man he was rejected by Jane Kendall. Going without love has turned Garrett into a man who doesn't trust in a woman's heart. So when he meets Rayne Nyman, she's too good to be true. She's beautiful, talented and sweet. She also happens to be a world renowned pianist. He knows there's no way she'd ever want to stay in Fircest with him when she could be living the life she was born to. Rayne is determined to prove him wrong and show him that love can be forever but when she comes under fire and her life is put in danger,she might not have the chance.

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love clean romance... June 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Falling for Rayne is the first book in Shannon's new series but it is not the first book set in Fircrest. This is actually book #7. So start with book one in the Love and Dessert Trilogy: You Belong With Me because you'll want to meet the women of Belinda's Bakery. Then work you way through that series followed by the Love and Trust series. Then read this one. It's just better that way. I'd fallen in love with Garrett before even picking up this book.

Garrett was one of my favorite side characters in the first 2 series set in Fircrest. In fact when I finished Tough Love I emailed Shannon asking if Garrett would get his own story. She replied that he would...

My next trilogy is called Love and Flowers and it will be based on Garrett and his brothers. Never fear, I wouldn't leave him hanging.

As soon as I saw Falling for Rayne was available I borrowed it from the Kindle Lending Library. Shannon is a master at writing characters that I can't help but fall in love with. Her books are all squeaky clean and yet full of romance. They all follow a similar pattern but I like that I know what to expect and know that I am going to get the happily ever after that I want. That's the reason I pick up these books. Garrett and Rayne had great chemistry and I loved their interactions.

I'm looking forward to the next two books in the series as I love the new characters who have been introduced.

If you love clean romance check out Shannon's books.

Rating: 5 Stars - I loved it.

Content: Clean

Source: Kindle Lending Library

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping & Vibrant July 5, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Gripping and vibrant from sentence one!! Readers come across books that are riveting from the start and others that take awhile to get into…Guymon immediately captures hearts with this full of life, clean romance about hope, trust and renewed faith in happy endings!! I especially enjoyed the uniqueness of how Garrett is the one who finally discovers what he’s looking for in Rayne vs. the customary story where the female has to unearth her ‘dream’ guy.

Characters are easy to support and connect with, which makes for an exciting lead in for what is to come. Because the characterization feels so real the storyline comes to life making the time invested well worth it! Guymon is straight to the point in this novel with remarkable plot that links previous characters who add to the flow of the story. Counting down to Book 2!

The Book Stalker Reviewed

5.0 out of 5 stars Garrett's Story... YAY!! July 4, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Falling for Rayne is A-MAZ-ING!! I absolutely LOVED it!!

Garrett has been a favorite of mine since the Love and Dessert trilogy and I was absolutely THRILLED to find out that he was going to get his own series with his very own HEA!! If anyone deserves one it's definitely him!! And of course Rayne does too!! She is completely PERFECT for him!! I just have to say that she was one determined little firecracker and I loved it!! They both kind of had a crappy childhood but being together makes them want to live... be happy... and just enjoy life! And seeing Rayne enjoying the little things in life just made my heart smile!! I'm always saying it's the little things that matter the most! :)

I'm loving all the characters in this series already! Ivy... Cleo... Becket... Asher... I am SO excited for their stories! I have my thoughts on how things are going to work out and I'm secretly hoping I'm right... ;) Hehe. I foresee twists... turns... and secrets... ;)

And the little added mystery?! Very intrigued and also have a few suspicions... I don't want to give anything away but I think it's going to be a bit surprising to see how it all ends. Graham and Liam are just creepy and I know we haven't seen the last of them... *shivers*

Shannon... you are AMAZING!! Once again you sucked me in and I just could not stop reading once I was finally able to do so!! I already want to re-read this book again!! And the other series for the 3rd time this year!! ;) Hehe. And after reading this book I have to say that Falling for Rayne was indeed the PERFECT title!! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series... let the adventures continue!! ;)

Monday, September 22, 2014


     For 5 days,(9/22/14 - 9/26/14) I'm offering I Belong With You book 2 in the Love and Dessert Trilogy for FREE on Kindle! Here's the link. If you enjoyed it, let your friends know. I'm working on my newest trilogy, Love and Weddings. I'll keep you posted on updates and sneak peeks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Character Blog Hop!

Character Blog Hop

Thanks to my cute friend and amazing author, Karey White, who tagged me in this character blog hop!

For the character blog hop, readers get to jump around to discover characters we have recently written about or are currently writing about. You can find Karey's character post here.

First, a little about Karey:

I am the oldest of eleven children, born to parents who were either saints or crazy, maybe both. They thought we were all capable of being professional athletes or broadway stars. They weren't right, of course, but they did help us have self-confidence.

I have the greatest family. A patient husband who makes me laugh and four clever, good-looking children--two boys and two girls. I adore them all.
Through the years I've been a student, a teacher, a secretary, a clothing designer and seamstress, a wedding cake maker, a crafter, a scrapbooker, a cook, a homework helper (until they pass me in math, somewhere around the third grade), and a fan at my children's sporting events. Before I die, I'd either like to be a great housekeeper or have the money to hire a maid.

I've been writing since Jr. High, when I was hired by a county newspaper to do a Happenings column about our little town of about 300 people. I got paid by the word so every week I called every family in town and got their news. It wasn't high-brow journalism but the column earned me a little spending money.
On our way to Aspen, CO, my sister, my two oldest kids and I were hit head-on by a drunk driver in a stolen car. Although we suffered serious injuries, we all survived.

Candy isn't worth eating unless it's chocolate. (See's are the best.)
When I was a child, my family bought and renovated an old school-house. It was a wonderful place to live in spite of the bats that flew over our heads at night.

I've been told that my naturally curly hair doesn't get longer, it gets bigger.
I've always liked game shows. Everything from Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to the reality-style game shows like Amazing Race, Survivor, and Top Chef.

Nothing makes me happier than being with family and friends eating good food, sharing good conversation and a few laughs. That might be why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Now to share my character with you:
What is the name of your character? 
I chose Cleo. She's the main character in A Passion for Cleo, Book 3 in the Love and Flowers Trilogy.

When and where is the story set?
The series takes place in Fircrest, Washington and this is a contemporary Romance.

What should we know about your character?
Cleo has a heart of gold. She's the first one in line to help those she loves. She's fiercely protective and kind, but a little bit sassy too. She fell for the wrong guy once, so she's a little gun shy about Tai Matafeo. 

What is the main conflict?
My Love and Flowers Trilogy centers around the fact that someone wants to kill Rayne and Ivy Nyman. Cleo was hired on as their body guard, but because of her injuries in a car accident, has to step aside for Tai Matafeo and Sharon, a police officer to take over.  Falling in love was not part of the job description.

What is your character's personal goal?
I think Cleo's personal goal is to find her home and her heart - her place in the world.  She's an adventurous girl who isn't afraid to see the world but she had to decide whether or not to go back to San Diego or stay in Fircrest with her new friends.  And since she's never been in love before, she's a little unsure of her feelings for Tai. Is she just grateful to him for everything he's done for her?  Or do her feelings fun deeper?

Is there a working title, and where can we find out more about it?
A Passion for Cleo just came out on Kindle and it's available in paperback too. You can find it for purchase here.

And now I'm tagging the one and only Kim Krey.

Writing Romance That's Clean Without Losing the Steam! Author of the Sweet Montana Bride Series. I'm a reader of good, clean romance, a lover of family time and Diet Coke, and the ultimate hater of laundry.  You can find out more here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Check out what people are saying!

Two new Reviews for A Passion for Cleo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
5+ Stars!!! I am in heaven!!! I absolutely LOVED A Passion For Cleo!!! And I hate to admit it but this one is now my new favorite book in the Love and Flowers Trilogy!! Gotta love those strong finishes to an AWESOME series!!

Our amazing heroine, Cleo, is a fun loving, adventurer who will do everything she can to help her family and friends anytime they need it. She is such an easy going person who is confident and full of life!

Cleo's life gets thrown off balance when she is shot and later gets in a horrific car crash that leaves her wheelchair bound and later stuck on crutches. She can no longer protect Rayne and Ivy and starts to have doubts about her life and about love.

Enter Tai. *sigh* I just have to say that I absolutely LOVE him!! Tai is hired to help protect the girls and in the process he's able to get to know Cleo on a more personal level. He's sweet, funny, loyal, gorgeous and just AMAZING!! And the best part?!?! He actually SEES Cleo for who she is on the inside and doesn't care that she's battered, bruised, in a wheelchair, on crutches... he sees her and KNOWS that she is beautiful!! His only problem is convincing her that the way he feels is REAL!!

You see our dear, sweet Asher has put those doubts about love in Cleo's head. He tells her she only has a hero worship for Tai and that he only sees her as a victim... someone who needs to be saved. I swear I wanted to slap him the first half of the book! Enter Meredith... yes... I said Meredith... who helps Cleo to help Asher see that he needs to GROW UP and STOP being such a spoiled little brat who thinks he's entitled to everything being handed to him on a golden platter!! And believe it or not folks... Asher indeed starts to grow up a little. Granted he still has a ways to go BUT he's started the process!! Wahoo!!

And I just have to mention Pule!! Oh my goodness!! I love him!! There is definitely more to his story and I am crossing my fingers and hoping he'll get his HEA!! There is a part in the book between him and Cleo that brought tears to my eyes... *sigh* He's just another lost soul who needs some lovin!!

Anyway... back to Cleo and Tai! *sigh* I totally LOVE these two! The first I Love You's were perfect! And meeting the Matafeo's?! Cleo really showed that she will do ANYTHING for the people that she loves!! She was a real trooper!! AND she got a cupcake named after her!! How awesome is that?!?! Lol. You are just going to have to read the story to find out WHY!! It's HILARIOUS... I promise!! ;)

And then the craziness comes!! Oh my heck!! The way the whole story with Rayne and Ivy was wrapped up was fabulous!! There was a bit of suspense that I was NOT expecting! I kept changing positions while reading and just couldn't sit still! I had a feeling about who was behind everything but was still surprised in the end.

A Passion for Cleo was just FANTABULOUS!! I LOVED every minute of it!! I laughed out loud, I got teary eyed, I got angry and of course I fell in love all over again with ALL of our Fircrest friends!!

Shannon you have an AMAZING talent and I am SO glad that you are willing to share it with all of us!! I can't WAIT to see what you have in store for the next series!! And yes... I am one of those crazy fans who lives for the next book! What can I say! I love what I love! ;)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another awesome book from Shannon! September 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Once again Shannon has delivered another amazing book filled with strong characters, action, heartfelt romance, and a writing style that makes you not want to put it down till you flat out run out of pages.
As the final book in this trilogy, you finally get Cleo's story, as well as a resolution to the overall plot for all three "Love and Flowers" books.
You will also get to spend time with a few more of the side characters from the other books, and while this trilogy wraps up well, you can't wait to see where she will go with the next set.
If you have been following the exploits in Fircrest, you will not be disappointed with this one either.
Block out some time, and get comfortable, You are not going to want to put it down once you start.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Want the newest update on A Passion for Cleo?

A Passion for Cleo is LIVE on Kindle! The wait is over! Here's the link.

And I already have 2 reviews! See what people are saying:

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great story and adventure August 30, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Just finished this latest outstanding work by Shannon Guymon! What a great story and adventure. I am not into spoiler reviews, so here is my best shot. I have loved Cleo throughout this series, she is a devoted and loving friend. I like a female character who is strong and motivated by goodness. Cleo is all of these. She so deserved her own happily ever after. I love Tai he is a straight forward no nonsense kind of guy. Like the others in the Matafeo family Tai lives life to the fullest with all the love he has. It is a great book with everything we have come to expect from a Shannon Guymon novel. Love and friendship and family. But this has an added element of suspense I wasn't expecting. Loved this book from beginning to end. I couldn't put it down. Way to go Shannon, I can't wait to see what you have in store for us next.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another home run September 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Such a good one! Kept me happy on a day I can't walk much. Wanted to punch Asher, was so glad that he didn't become an issue! :)
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cover Reveal for Cleo's Book!

   Okay my friends, I know this day has been a long time coming but I'm here to announce the title and show you the awesome cover for Cleo's book. Everyone was so kind with their title suggestions but I've decided to go with:  
A Passion For Cleo.  I couldn't see where anyone had suggested that, but if you did, send me a screen shot and I'll send you a free e-book. 
What do you think of the cover?

   Do you know how hard it is to get a cover with a hot Samoan guy and a blond? Not easy people, but I think this cover does Cleo's story justice. And yes, the cover tells you which guy she goes for. Poor Asher

   So the next question I'm sure you have is - When will the book be live??  Good question. The book is done, but it's going through the editing process right now. So I'm hoping for sometime next week. I know! I'm sorry it's not live right now, but I want you to be happy in the end so we're all just going to have to be patient. 
   Also, while I have you here, check out this amazing review for Dreaming of Ivy. LOVE it!

5.0 out of 5 stars Ivy finds out who she is!August 21, 2014
I gave this book 5 stars because it is everything I want in a summer read. It is believable, has characters with real problems--that are trying hard to work them out. This book deals with PTSD, OCD, Eating Disorders just to name a few. I do love how Shannon deals with these problems in the context of the story. She tries to bring them front and center--so the characters will get the help they want and need. She does an amazing job of keeping it real---not so real you think you are reading your Psyc textbook. But the audience's understanding of these mental illnesses is broadened. The more we know the more we understand and the more we understand the better we can interact with someone suffering.
So all of that just lets me understand the characters a little better. I have come to love Ivy--she has a great sense of humor, to her credit. She is working hard at what she wants to become. Amazing Beckett has his own set of behaviors he needs to come to terms with, as in real life we all have work to do!
I like that about Shannon's characters, they are like us with all our insecurities and imperfections--we work on them just as Shannon's characters do. Could one be written about me?? or you?? or any normal person?? Makes on wonder.
This 2nd book in the trilogy introduces some new players, Graham whom I had pegged for the villain from page one--now I am not so sure! The more I know about Asher the less I like him. I do love Kai the new bodyguard. What I really want to know is who are the bad guys???? Summer is almost over Shannon so chain yourself to your writing desk and give us book 3, I need it! And by the way you are awesome Shannon!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

First Chapter of Cleo's Book - You know, just in case you were interested

   I know you guys are dying for an update on Cleo's story, so here's the deal. With school starting next week and everything else going on, I've sort of been slacking on writing. My original plan was for it to be live this week. 

   Yeah, that's not happening. But the good news is: I'm super close! I still don't have a title for my book yet, so if you have any ideas, please pass them along. The person who comes up with the title gets a free copy if that's an incentive. And because I'm feeling guilty and I don't want you guys to be mad at me, here is the first chapter. Tell me what you think!

Chapter 1- The Secret Weapon

                Cleo stared at her crutches and then slowly leaned them against the wall. She could do this. She took a few careful, slow steps around her room and felt the immediate ache. The cast on her leg was coming off later that afternoon, but her pelvis would take longer to heal. She’d need to take things slow. Very slow and use her crutches to keep her weight off. 
            Cleo frowned and shuffled back towards her crutches. No use being stupid and pushing herself and then having to add more time on to her recovery.  She slipped her crutches under her arms and walked over to the window.  The crew was out early today pouring the cement for the lap pool Rayne and Ivy were so excited about.  If had been her, she’d have gone for the all-out family sized pool so they could have a party or something. Maybe grill some burgers and dogs. That way they could invite the landscaping crew over, she thought with a grin.
            She was about to go out of her mind with boredom.  Cleo sighed and pushed her long blond hair over her shoulder.  Now that she wasn’t actually guarding Rayne and Ivy, she felt completely useless.  Her life back in San Diego had been busy, fun and exciting. Now that she was out of commission, she felt like a dying slug. A useless, dying slug at that.  With Sharon and Tai watching over Rayne and Ivy, she might as well go home. 
            She knew Rayne was still paying her, but that didn’t sit well with her at all.  She was being paid for doing nothing. Rayne had politely and very firmly insisted though. When she’d tried to talk to Ivy about it, Ivy had just held up her hand with a glare and said that since she’d been injured while on duty, they would take care of her and she didn’t want to hear another word about it.
            That was one thing the Nyman sister’s had in common. Stubbornness.  Well, that and the ability to attract incredibly gorgeous men. Cleo sighed and leaned her head against the cool glass window and felt the self-pity wrap around her.  But who could blame her? Watching Garrett fall for Rayne had been sweet and romantic. But then watching Asher and Becket fight over Ivy had made her feel a little pathetic.
            She was happy for Ivy. Ecstatic really. Sort of.  Becket was beautiful and so perfect for her.  And she really was glad that Ivy was finally finding a little bit of happy to hold onto. Poor kid deserved it after being raised the way she had. But the fact was, she had liked Asher. A lot. And watching Asher make a fool of himself over Ivy had done a lot of damage to her self-confidence.
            She’d grown up being independent, athletic and surrounded by boys always fighting for her attention. She’d gotten so used to boys making fools of themselves over her, that when the one boy she did want, didn’t want her back, she wasn’t sure how to handle it.
            That, on top of the accident, and here she was feeling unattractive, unwanted and left out.  Since Rayne had come back married to Garrett, all the excitement now surrounded Ivy’s upcoming wedding. Both Ivy and Becket wanted to keep it small and intimate which made sense since neither one had any family to speak of. Becket was inviting his grandmother and Ivy just wanted her, Rayne and Garrett and all of the friends they’d made since moving to Fircrest.
            Cleo winced, wondering how Asher was going to take the news that he wasn’t invited to the wedding. Probably not well.  He wasn’t taking anything well lately.  When he’d found out Ivy was going back to Becket, he’d fired her from the band and even Garrett had been disgusted by that. 
            Things had been very awkward between the two brothers lately and she wasn’t sure what was going on, but whatever it was, it was bothering Rayne.  Rayne lived with Garrett at his house now that they was married, but she still ended up at their house with her and Ivy most days so she could be with her flowers and her sister.
            Cleo sighed and stood up, moving towards her door.  Her bedroom was now on the main floor so she wouldn’t have to deal with the stairs.  She nudged her door open with her toe and walked down the narrow hallway to the kitchen where she could hear someone already up and making breakfast.  She hoped it was Tai. That man could cook like a dream.
            Cleo smiled and knew that Tai did everything well.  He was the perfect guy.  Too perfect for her, that was for sure.  Most of the guys she dated back in California had been hipsters that would come to her yoga classes and ask her out for dates involving Kombucha and something with Kale.  Most of them had beards, wore plaid and were against using deodorant for some reason. But she always enjoyed their company and at least they were never boring.
            Now Tai, he was the opposite of boring. She walked through the doorway and paused as a grin lit up her face. Tai was making his famous egg sandwiches they all adored and was wearing one of Rayne’s grandmother’s old, lacy yellow aprons. He looked darling.
            And hot.
            Cleo shook her head, trying to get rid of the stray, slightly inappropriate thought.  It wasn’t a good idea to entertain ideas about their favorite body guard.  Although the man was a seasoned flirt, he’d never once made a serious play for her.  She frowned slightly as she studied the tall, strong Samoan man who had become an important member of their household in such a short time.  His light brown skin, black hair and strong bone structure could send unsuspecting women into shock. She’d seen it. Heck, she’d experienced it. She still experienced it. But he treated all women the same. He flirted with them all and did his best to make every woman he came in contact with feel beautiful and special.
            True, he went the extra mile with her. She knew Rayne and Ivy thought Tai liked her but she knew the truth. He was just trying to make her feel better. She was a pity flirt. Cleo felt slightly sick to her stomach at the thought, but pasted a bright smile on her face as she moved further into the kitchen. It wouldn’t do to have him turn around and find her staring at him with yearning in her eyes. Nope, not her. She had too much pride for that.
            “How did you know I was craving one of your egg sandwiches?” she asked lightly as Tai turned around and grinned at her, his eyes lighting up and crinkling at the edges.
            “Because you always crave my egg sandwiches. And you’re just in time for the first one. Have a seat, Beautiful and let me serve you,” he said solicitously as he brought a plate over to the table.
            Cleo blushed and shook her head. “You’re ruining me for all other men, Tai. You’re going to have to start acting like a cocky jerk soon or I’m going to start a fan club,” she said, smiling at him easily.
            Tai laughed. “Is that so? Are you finally declaring your feelings for me, Cleo?” he asked, his warm brown eyes, now melting as they looked down at her.
            Cleo cleared her throat and bit her lip. She loved flirting with Tai. She lived for it, to be honest. It was the highlight of her depressing life right now, but he could always out-flirt her and sometimes she was left tongue tied.
            “Let’s just say if you keep making me egg sandwiches every morning, you’re going to have to get a restraining order,” she said, very proud of her comeback.
            Tai smiled crookedly at her and pulled a chair up, sitting down next to her while she took the first delicious bite. “A restraining order, huh? Now, why would I want to restrain you?” he asked, his voice going low and deep.
            Cleo choked on her bite and stared at Tai, her eyes watering as she grabbed her glass of milk.  Tai grinned at her and stood up as Ivy walked in, looking refreshed and happy.
            “Tai! I love you, I love you, I love you,” she shouted, hugging him hard as he began making her an egg sandwich too.
            “See Cleo, now that’s how to express your feelings. See how easy it is?” he said over his shoulder.
            Cleo laughed lightly and took a big bite to hide her embarrassment. Ivy narrowed her eyes and glanced between her and Tai suspiciously.
            “Is our little Cleo having feelings that I should know about?” Ivy asked as she poured herself some orange juice.
            Tai nodded his head as he slipped two pieces of toast into the toaster. “You’ll have to ask Cleo. The only thing she’ll admit to is having feelings strong enough to warrant a restraining order. I find that kind of vague myself. I’m the type of man who appreciates the direct approach.  What does Becket like, Ivy? Does he like it when you’re mysterious, or does he appreciate it more when you just come out and say, hey Becket, I love you. You’re amazing.”
            Ivy grinned, sighing happily as she sat down next to Cleo and kicked her feet up on the opposite chair. “You know Becket. He likes things short and to the point. I absolutely love that man,” she said with feeling, as she closed her eyes and tilted her head back.
            “You better be talking about me.”
            Cleo whipped her head around at the low, gruff voice that could only be Becket’s and laughed as Ivy turned red.
            “I thought you were going to be working in Tacoma today,” Ivy said, standing up and walking into her fiancĂ©’s arms.
            Becket leaned down and kissed her, his lips still turned up in a smile. “I was, but Garrett texted me and wanted to meet me here.”
            Tai brought over Ivy’s sandwich and gestured to the backyard. “He’s out in back talking to the concrete guys. And uh, Asher’s out there too,” he added, sounding grim.
            Cleo winced and took another bite as she watched Becket’s smile fade and his eyes turn hard. She never wanted Becket to look at her like that. It sent chills up her spine.  If she were Asher, she’d be very careful about making Becket mad.  Asher had done his best to come in between Becket and Ivy and Becket hadn’t appreciated it at all.  Ivy had told her that Becket was planning on quitting Murphy’s Landscaping just as soon as Garrett could find another crew to take over the heavy jobs.
            “I’ll just head out then,” he said quietly and touched Ivy on the cheek before walking out the backdoor.
            Ivy frowned and shook her head. “Let’s all say a prayer for Asher’s life right now.”
            Tai bowed his head along with Ivy so Cleo did the same although she refused to pray for Asher.  He deserved whatever Becket wanted to do with him. The idiot.
            Ivy sighed and took a bite of her sandwich, immediately smiling. “Oh this is amazing, Tai. You should open up a diner. I swear you’d be a success in less than a month if you had these on the menu.”
            Tai grinned and shrugged as he turned back to make himself one. “I’ve actually thought about it.  My dad wants me to take over the construction company when he retires in ten years but it’s not my thing. It doesn’t bring me all the joy that cooking does.”
            Cleo smiled and took a sip of her milk.  “I didn’t know you wanted to be a chef like Kam. That’s great.”
            Tai shook his head. “Nah, not like Kam. Like me.  He’s all about fine dining. I’m all about comfort food that makes people happy.”
            Ivy licked her lips.  “Tai’s Diner. I like the sound of that.  You should seriously think about it.”
            Tai shrugged and slipped two more pieces of bread in the toaster.  “Actually, with all of the money I’m earning guarding you and Rayne, I’m getting pretty close to having a down payment.  I’d still need a small business loan, but yeah, I’m thinking about it.”
            Cleo and Ivy shared gleeful glances and high fived each other.  Ivy cleared her throat and crossed her legs nonchalantly. “You know, I hear those small business loans can be a pain to get.  What if you had a financial backer though who didn’t make you jump through twenty-million hoops?”
            Tai sighed. “Yeah and tell the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause I said hi. It’s going to be hard, but I think I have a chance.”
            Ivy threw a dish towel at Tai’s back and he turned around in surprise. “What?”
            Ivy laughed. “I could be your financial backer!”
            Tai stared at her in surprise, his eyes going wide with hope but then he shook his head. “No, Ivy. I don’t want to take advantage of our friendship. You’ve already done too much for me as it is. You pay me way too much and you know it.”
            Ivy snorted and took another bite. “It’s done. But I will insist that you name something on the menu after me and Becket. And maybe our first child too,” she added thoughtfully.
            Tai laughed and shook his head. He began to say something else but stopped as he stared at something out the window.
            “That doesn’t look good,” he said, moving the hot pan off the burner.
            Cleo and Ivy frowned at each other before Ivy jumped out of her chair and hurried to Tai’s side, going up on her tippy toes to see what he was looking at.
            “Oh, crud,” Ivy whispered, holding onto Tai’s arm.
            Cleo grabbed her crutches and moved slowly toward the door. “Forget the window.  I’m going to find out what’s going on,” she said and opened the back door and walked out onto the back porch where she was immediately surrounding by the dogs.
            Within seconds, Tai and Ivy were standing next to her.  The concrete crew had been given a break and were making their way to the trucks.  Right next to the pool, where the newly poured cement was gleaming and smooth, stood Garrett, Asher and Becket. And none of them looked happy.
            “This has been brewing for weeks,” Tai said under his breath.
            Cleo nodded her head. “I hope Becket punches Asher,” she said jokingly, although she wasn’t sure she was joking.
            Ivy bit her lip and held onto her arm. “I hate this,” she whispered vehemently.
            Cleo shushed her so she could hear what was being said. Garrett was shaking his head and put his hands on his hips.
            “I didn’t want to do this here, but the office is being painted this week.  I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks about everything that Becket has told me about what happened while Rayne and I were gone.  And Asher, I’ve listened to your side of things too,” he added quickly as Asher’s face turned red and his mouth tightened.
            Becket held up his hands. “Forget it, Garrett.  I already know what you’re going to say. I knew what you were going to say when I told Asher it was him or me. I’ve already moved on, like I told you. I’m just sticking around until you can find a new crew.”
            Garrett glared at the ground and shook his head.  “Shut up, Beck.”
            Ivy gasped lightly and covered her mouth with her hand. Cleo winced and looked up at Tai. Tai glanced at her worriedly and his hand went for his cellphone.  “Man, if I have to call the cops, this is going to suck,” he whispered.
            Becket froze, his hands turning into fists by his side as Asher ran a hand through his hair. “Garrett, I don’t even know why I’m even here. Fire him and be done with it. Why make it into a big production? So what, Becket wants to leave? Who cares? It’s not like we need him.  There are three other companies we can sub out our big work to. Good riddance I say,” he said coldly, glaring at Becket.
            Ivy groaned and hid her face in Cleo’s shoulder. “Please tell me when it’s over,” she whispered.
            Cleo swallowed sickly at the look on Becket’s face. Murderous would be putting it kindly.
            Garrett shook his head and pointed at Asher. “You can shut up, too.”
            Asher stared at his brother in shock. “Excuse me?”
            Garrett looked down at his feet for a second and then sighed loudly. “I’ve listened to you both. I’ve talked to Ivy and Cleo and Tai about everything and from what it sounds like Asher, you’re the one in the wrong here.”
            Becket’s look of stunned surprise almost perfectly matched Asher’s look of shock.
            “You can’t be serious,” Asher sputtered, pointing at Becket.  “He stole Ivy from me. He’s never respected me and he didn’t even care that I loved her. He just walked right in and stole her from me. How can you take his side, Garrett?” Asher asked, his voice wavering.
            Garrett stared at his younger brother with sadness. “All I can hear you saying is me, me me. Asher, you’re the one who didn’t respect Becket. You’re the one who didn’t respect Ivy’s feelings. You’re the one who has to go. I love you, Ash. But I’m giving you two weeks’ notice. That’s plenty of time to line up a new job. I’ll put in a good word for you and ask around. I’m sure someone’s hiring.”
            Cleo’s mouth fell open as she stared at the scene in front of her. No one had seen that coming. Least of all Asher. Asher’s face had gone pale and she could see even from a distance that his hands were shaking. This was not good.
            “Are you joking?” Asher demanded, his voice rising as his shock was quickly turning to anger. “I’m your brother! He’s nothing. He’s just a friend. How can you turn your back on me?”
            Garrett ran a hand over his short hair and stared miserably at his brother. “I thought I had raised you to be a man Asher, but you blame all of your problems on everyone else. You can’t go through life not taking responsibility for your actions. I wouldn’t be a good brother if I let you stay and let Becket walk. It wouldn’t be fair. This is the only honorable thing to do, Ash. I know someday you’ll understand.”
            Asher’s mouth moved, but no words came out. After a minute he shook his head. “I’m your brother,” he whispered.
            Garrett finally looked at Becket and smiled slightly. “Yeah, and I’m lucky to have two. Becket’s just as much my brother as you are.”
            Cleo watched as Asher turned and walked away without another word, disappearing around the side of the house. She saw a glimpse of his face and felt her heart ache at the pain she saw there. Ivy’s grip on her arm had her turning back to Garrett and Becket just in time to see Garrett pull Becket into a big hug.  Becket pounded Garrett on the back and surprised her by wiping something from under his eye.
            Tai smiled slightly and put his arm around Ivy’s shoulder. “That was actually kind of beautiful,” he said softly.
            Ivy sniffed and nodded her head. Cleo grinned as the two men hugged each other again and Garrett slapped Becket on the back.
            “You’re hiring the new accountant though, not me,” Garrett said, his voice sounding rough.
            Becket nodded his head. “I know this guy. You’ll love him. His name is Pule Matafeo.”
            Garrett erupted in a shout of laughter and Becket grinned as the men walked towards the trucks.
            Cleo glanced at Tai and noticed his wince. “I’m guessing that was a joke.”
            Tai sighed and opened the back door for them. “Yeah, I picked up on that,” he said dryly as they went back to their breakfast.
            They finished their breakfast quietly as each of them thought over what they’d witnessed.  Cleo finally broke the silence and pushed her plate away.
            “So what do you think Asher is going to do? And more importantly, will this ruin his relationship with Garrett?” she asked, looking back and forth between Ivy and Tai.
            Tai shrugged and looked at Ivy. “It’ll be hard at first but after Asher gets a new job and things calm down I bet he and Garrett work things out. Garrett loves that guy more than his life. He’s doing the right thing, but yeah, Asher’s going to be mad for a while.”
            Ivy nodded her head, sighing loudly as she finished her juice.  “That guy can hold a grudge. I mean, he fired me from the band and hasn’t spoken to me since.  I hate that he’s hurting, but honestly? He really needs to grow up. Maybe this is exactly what he needs to open his eyes.”
            Cleo pursed her lips. “Well, from what I just saw out there, it’s going to take decades.”
            Ivy frowned at that but then sat up straight, her eyes going big and round. “Not unless we speed things up.”
            Tai raised an eyebrow. “Watch out, Cleo. She has that look on her face.”
            Cleo winced. “Ivy, just stay out of it. This is between Garrett and Asher. This is none of our business.”
            Ivy shook her head. “They’re family now. Come on Tai, if you had a brother who needed help, or even Pule, wouldn’t you step in and help things along?”
            Tai stood up and picked up their dishes. “We’re talking Matafeos and Murphys here. Two different families. Too different to compare, sweetheart.”
            Ivy laughed and stood up as Rayne walked in looking tense. Rayne put her purse on the table and collapsed in Ivy’s vacated chair.
            “Garrett just told me outside that he fired Asher,” she said, sounding shocked.
            Cleo reached over and patted her hand. “We know. We saw the whole thing from the back porch. Sweetie, it’s going to be okay. Asher will calm down eventually and things will go back to normal.”
            Rayne bit her lip and looked at Ivy. “I know Garrett did the right thing, but it’s killing him,” she whispered.
            Ivy walked over and hugged Rayne. “First things first. You need one of Tai’s egg sandwiches. And then, I’ll tell you my plan.”
            Cleo groaned and leaned her head on her arms. “Ivy, not everything can be cured with Belinda’s cupcakes.”

            Ivy grinned. “You’re right. Forget the cupcakes. We’re going to use our secret weapon. You.”

*Copyrighted Material*