Want to read Chapter One of Lucky Holiday? (Part of the Hockey Holidays Anthology releasing Nov. 13)

Well, do ya? ;-)

Tyler Quinn, the hunky hero of Lucky Holiday, is waiting for you to run, not walk, over to my Facebook group, JENeration Cafe, and join, so you can get a special sneak peek at his story.

luckyholiday.jpg

Make sure you pre-order your copy today! I can’t wait for you guys to fall in love with this second-chance romance story.


Get it at these retailers:

Amazon →  https://amzn.to/2qwCqi2

Apple →  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1422266142

B&N →  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hockey-holidays-jami-davenport/1129244026?ean=2940155666769

Kobo →  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hockey-holidays-a-hockey-romance-holiday-anthology

Other E-retailers → https://www.books2read.com/hockeyholidays/

Happy Thursday!


Lucky Bounce cover reveal!

Lucky Bounce.jpg

As promised, the cover for Lucky Bounce!

I really love the playful way they are looking at each other, because it sums up the undercurrent of their relationship, which is sexy and teasing. I didn’t even convey that to my cover artist, but she’s brilliant and I swear she has a sense about what I want.

And how about Holly’s HAIR? Oh, I adore it.

Lucky Bounce is still slated to release in late November, providing I can cross all my t’s and dot all the i’s!

I can’t wait for everyone to read Eli and Holly’s story.

Happy Monday, all!

And psst, make sure to join me in my reader group, JENeration Cafe, over on Facebook. They get exclusive sneak peeks and all the news first!

:-)

Jen

Hello, awesome readers!

Long time, no chat. I apologize, but I’ve been in the writer’s cave and figuring out some self-publishing stuff.

After releasing Lucky Number earlier this year, I started writing Lucky Bounce right away, but I went through the same thing that always happens to me when I try to plan my year and figure out how to manage my time: I failed at it.

OH. SO. EPICALLY.

This makes me laugh in a way, because Hannah, my heroine in Lucky Number, was a planning guru. She could organize like a whiz. Oh, how I WISHED I could be like that. Ha!

I have to have some readers who are planner girls, right? The search for planner peace is a real thing. But for me, I was searching for a WAY to plan, more so than the cute, perfect planner stuff. (Not that I don’t love me some washi tape and pens)

Seriously, I am the worst possible person to be my own boss. Becoming the CEO of my own business was seriously intimidating, and more than that, completely overwhelming.

Authors, at least self-published ones in my experience, have an awful lot to organize. We have to plot, write, self-edit, track sales, format books, find editors and cover designers, (some of us do a lot of this stuff ourselves), and manage promotion, marketing, and social media. And a ton more stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting at the moment.

Some people are awesome at staying on track with such things. Me? Yeah, no. I did not have any of those tools in my toolbox.

Because I’ve failed so much at trying to plan in the past, I became paralyzed by attempting to plan anything. Seriously, like massive anxiety attacks would follow every time I tried to schedule my year. I bought cute planners, I tried to go day-by-day. I faithfully filled them out. Nothing worked. My daily to-do list became more like a “hope I manage at least one thing on this today” list.

To paint a picture, here are all my attempts at getting my ISH together this year:

So many planners, so little time. But I loved them all...There’s a few notebooks for bullet Journaling in there that I tried too, because who can resist a gorgeous new notebook?

So many planners, so little time. But I loved them all...There’s a few notebooks for bullet Journaling in there that I tried too, because who can resist a gorgeous new notebook?

Don’t get me wrong, these are ALL perfectly awesome, great planners. I loved ALL of them. And some of them are sooo beautiful. But I just couldn’t figure out how to make them work for me, because I just didn’t know how to plan properly for my situation.

Well, I finally took an amazing three day planning/organizational bootcamp run by awesome author Sarra Cannon, and learned HOW to plan in a way that makes sense to my brain. To say it’s been life-changing is kind of an understatement. She also created a planner (with helpful worksheets breaking down the planning process) for writers called the HB90 Method Quarterly Planner that I’ve been using, and it’s awesome. It was a lot of intense work for a few days, but I now know what I’m doing every day. How much I need to accomplish to meet deadlines and accomplish my project goals.

Know what that means?

THAT MEANS BOOKS THAT DON’T TAKE ME MONTHS ON END TO WRITE.

YESSSSS!

I can hear a few of my faithful readers rejoicing along with me at that statement. It means instead of just throwing a book up on Amazon, I can actually have a real marketing plan to go along with it. It means not neglecting all of the little things.

So that makes me a very happy Jen.

Now, for Lucky Bounce related news!

If I stick to my writing schedule of 1700 words per day, Lucky Bounce will release the week of Nov 17th. However, If end up having a few days where I can push it and get way more, then it will be EARLIER. But Nov. 17th is my target delivery date.

I’ll be doing a cover reveal for Lucky Bounce on October 15th on my reader group, JENeration Cafe on Facebook, so make sure you join, okay? You don’t want to miss out.

Have a great weekend, guys!

xo,

Jen

A tiny sneak peek at Eli and Holly's story...

Having this cold/flu has allowed me to do nothing but concentrate on writing words when I'm not in a blissful NyQuil haze, so that's a plus. The book is coming along nicely!

 

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Since it's Friday, I thought I'd give you guys a look at what I'm working on. :-)  These two crack me up a little too much. So here ya go, I'll get right to it. And by the way, this is all unedited, so mistakes are ALL MINE. ;-)

Excerpt: Lucky Bounce

Holly walks into my bedroom and puts her hands on her hips. “Jesus. It looks like a vampire threw up in here, Donnelley. What’s with all of the black and red?” She leans down and runs a finger along the edge of my pillowcase. “Satin?”
“They’re 100% pure silk.”
“Huh. Well, all that’s missing from this scenario is a pet bat. And a cape. Or maybe some fake fangs.” 
“Most women are too busy screaming with pleasure to notice the décor,” I say dryly. “It’s never really been a problem for me.”
She glances over her shoulder at me and cocks an eyebrow. “Are you sure they aren’t screaming over your complete lack of interior design skills? Because that I could *totally* believe. This entire theme would scare the pants off of anyone. Then again, I can see how that might work in your favor..."

©2018 Jennifer Lazaris. No part of the above excerpt may be reproduced for any reason without express written consent from the author,

----------

Hope that made you giggle.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xo,

Jen

Write, write, write away...

So, the past few days have left me in bed fighting a miserable creeping crud of a sore throat/fever/sinus thingy. So not fun, and I'm the worst at fevers. Still, it's allowed me to get some work done between fitful periods of sleep! 

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Maybe it's not a ton of words, but hey, it's a great start to Eli and Holly's story. The first chapters always see me nailing out the details of where the story is going. I wrote the first chapter with one thing in mind, then turned around and decided to do something else entirely different. It's a process, but it's necessary. Now, at least I know where I'm going. Usually when I hit the middle, I start to plot more. Some writers are plotters, some are pantsers (they write by the seat of their pants, with no idea where the characters will take them). I'm a weirdo combination of both. 

Holly is the first female character that I've written who isn't what I call "quietly strong." She's mouthy, opinionated, and pretty confident. But we all know there's got to be a soft, squishy side to her, right? And you'll see that side come out, through her cat, Miss.

IMG_1115.JPG

I mean, how can she resist that FACE? 

Giving Holly a furry friend who's been there for her through thick and thin was the right thing to do. And it's a lot of fun when Eli, who's never even had an animal, learns that these two are a package deal. 

Miss was actually MY cat, who was my little buddy for almost 11 years. I lost her on New Year's Day, but she was such a wonderful cat that I wanted to share her with the world. I love that I can do that through Holly, and in a sense, she gets to live on forever. I hope everyone who reads Lucky Bounce will love her just as much as I did.

I just want to add that Lucky Number has been out for about ten days now, and wow, I am so overwhelmed at the reception to this book. I'm not the kind of author who has a review team, or an ARC team (I really should be, but I seem to always be running behind) so to see that I have a handful of wonderful reviews really makes me proud. I'm so thankful for my readers, and I am beyond happy that everyone seems to really love Brandon and Hannah's story.

If you like, come join me over on my Facebook group, JENeration Cafe. Right now, it's still small, but I'd love to be able to make that my go-to place where I can share things, have giveaways, and talk to readers.

Until next time, lovelies!

Have a great Thursday!

xo,

Jen

Here we go, writing Chapter 1!

Starting a new book can be incredibly exciting. The fresh possibilities that await are endless. A new book can be ANYTHING you want it to be, and I love that. I think that's why writers love notebooks so much. All of those blank pages seem so full of hope. That, and we love colorful pens. ;-)

This is the first time that I've started to work on a book that so many people are anticipating. I'm a perfectionist, so getting things "just right" is always in the back of my mind. But here's the thing, I think I need to throw that all out of the window for Eli and Holly. Because they are perfectly imperfect, and I want that to be very apparent from the get-go in their story.

I had some fun on Facebook yesterday, asking readers to post gifs of what they thought Eli might look like. I've always had a very specific hockey player in mind when I think of how Eli looks, but I won't ever share it. When I was watching a game and saw this guy grin, it was like being hit over the head. The character of Eli was born in that moment. Same goes for Holly. I have a very specific actress pictured in my head when I write her, as well. But even so, the real people I originally pictured become soft and hazy as I get to know the characters better, and they take on their very own qualities and quirks. They morph, so to speak. So even though I may have a person in mind for the original inspiration, it never ends up that way completely in my head. Writing can be so weird sometimes. 

I've always been disappointed when authors tell readers who they think a character looks like, because it varies wildly from my own vision as a reader. And then I can't UNSEE their version, you know? I get it, it can be fun, but I don't want to take away what you guys see, because that's half of the fun of reading. Your brain fills in details you didn't even realize, with very little prompting. Books...they are true magic!

Anyway, this day has mostly consisted of me writing the first chapter of Lucky Bounce, and damn, it's so much fun. I took nine days off after releasing Lucky Number, because I needed a break. That book was SO LONG, and I needed a bit of down time. I'm also sick today, which kind of sucks, but I have my two kitties hanging around me while I tap away on my laptop, so that always helps.

So I'm signing off to get back to that first chapter. The last thing I want to do is have another long wait between books.

Oh! If you're reading this, make sure to go join my Reader group, JENeration Cafe, on Facebook. I plan to make that *the* place to go for my Facebook interactions, and I don't want you guys to miss out on stuff like sneak peeks at chapters, or any giveaways. 

Have a happy Tuesday, guys!

xo,

Jen

 

Lucky Bounce

So this is what I'm working on right now...

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Yes, Eli and Holly's story is next in line. If you've read Lucky Number, you know why. ;-) 

It's funny, I have people emailing me all of the time asking about Eli and when they're getting his story. People love him, despite his faults. And he has more than a few!

However, I think that people will be pretty surprised to discover WHAT Eli's story is all about. We've had hints about him since book one. He's obviously the practical joker, the flirt, and the major player compared to all of the other guys. He's incredibly smart, but funnels it into his game. He might like to tease, but he's always there to help when it comes right down to it, even if he might go about it the wrong way. Yet we know he's hiding something.

And when you find out what he's hiding? 

Damn.

Of course, Holly's the perfect person to uncover all of his secrets. After all, she's kind of a take-no-prisoners kind of girl, and never hesitates to show the sharp side of her tongue when it comes to putting Eli Donnelley in his place. She misses a side of him she grew to love back in college, and who better to strip Eli bare—literally and figuratively—than Holly? But she's got a few demons she's wrestling with as well. Can't make it too easy on our heroine, right?

They were friends first, before they ever shared that one drunken night together seven years ago, and they've got a lot to rediscover about each other. And new things to learn as well. Some of it just isn't pretty, but other parts? Well, other parts might just make you think that they might be perfect soulmates. So perfect in fact, that it hurts.

These two are going to have to work really hard for their happily ever after. 

Happy Monday, everyone!

xo,

Jen

A sneak peek of Lucky Number...

I thought you guys might like a little taste of what Lucky Number is all about. I love Brandon and Hannah, and all of the twists and turns they endure on the road to happily-ever-after. This is a slow-burn romance, and the longest book I've ever written. Enjoy the glimpse into their world.

 

   
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Chapter 1

 

“Tilt your head down, Hannah. That’s it. Now, look at me.” Eden snapped another photo, then frowned. “Geez. You’re stiff as fuck. Pretend the camera is a man. Flirt with it.”

Hannah huffed, blowing her bangs up in frustration. “That’s the oldest line in the book. Besides, I’m not a model, Eden. I feel ridiculous.”

“What’s ridiculous is that you won’t relax.”

Standing in the living room of Eden’s off-campus apartment wearing a powder blue bra and matching lace underwear wasn’t how she’d originally envisioned spending the evening—especially when her Las Vegas Kingsnakes were playing San Jose tonight. She could be at home right now, in her yoga pants with a bag of popcorn in hand, cheering her hockey team on to victory.

“Come on. You’re not naked, nerd! You’re in lingerie made by me. My collection is smoking hot, and so are you. Wipe the damn constipated look off of your face already.”

The comment took Hannah by surprise, and she burst out laughing.

Eden quickly snapped a few more photos and handed her a tube of mascara. “Much better, but put some of this on. I need those big hazel eyes on display.”

“Leave it to you to be a triple threat: photographer, fashion designer and comedian,” Hannah said dryly, unscrewing the cap.

Eden made a tsk noise. “I’m a failed photographer. But the skills from that abandoned degree come in handy. I need to prove to potential employers that I can do this, Hannah. That I’m a talented enough designer to take a chance on, you know?”

A flicker of doubt passed over her best friend’s pretty face. Eden Stravecchio projected an enviable confidence to the world 98 percent of the time. Only with Hannah did she occasionally let her guard down and reveal the other two percent.

“You’ll do great,” Hannah assured her. “You’re talented, and your creations are beautiful. Switching to a college that specializes in fashion design was the right decision, even though I miss seeing you every day. I feel sexy when I wear your lingerie, and it’s comfortable. Companies will be begging for your stuff.”

Eden put the camera down and fluffed Hannah’s hair. “We’ll see. Damn, I’d give anything for your gorgeous locks, you know that, right? Thick, long, and the color of melted caramel.” Eden sighed. “Somehow, I got stuck with this thin, flyaway, black mop.”

Hannah rolled her eyes. “Please. I’d give anything to be able to rock your edgy haircuts.”

“Well, I need sexy hair for these photos so swish that silky mane around, woman. Work it!”

“Babe, like I said, I’m not a model.”

“So? You’ve got a banging body, Han. And a killer rack. If you stopped burying the twins under those shapeless hockey jerseys, guys on campus would be panting after you like a pack of wolves on the hunt.”

Hannah playfully slapped Eden’s hand away from her hair. “Riiiight. You know I have to represent my Kingsnakes. Hockey’s my thing.”

“I know, but is it worth your social life? It’s been six months since you broke up with Cameron, Hannah. Your vag is going to shrivel up and go into hibernation if you don’t take action soon. Your honeypot will be more like a honeynot.”

“Honeypot?” Hannah sputtered. “Who the hell even says that anymore?”

“Don’t dodge my question.”

“I don’t need any more boyfriends like Cam,” Hannah told her. “Hockey’s never broken my heart.”

She’d found Cameron in his dorm room making out with Janelle Appleton—a tall, gorgeous, blonde cheerleader. Competing with a woman like that was impossible, considering she was the exact opposite: short, curvy, and stacked.

Seeing Janelle on her boyfriend's bed with her legs wrapped around his back had driven that message home. She’d told them both to fuck off and stomped out, slamming the door behind her.

It had been an awful, ugly scene.

“Is he still begging you to get back together with him?”

“Unfortunately. Cam’s stubborn.”

Eden picked up the camera. “And there’s the constipated face again. Don't think of that dickhead while I take photos!” She cocked her head. “Think of that hot guy.”

“Care to narrow that down a bit?”

“You know, that hockey guy you love. Brandon WhatsHisFace. Pretend you’re on a beach with him. Or in bed with him.”

“Lear,” Hannah murmured.

“Yes, Lear.”

Heat crept into her cheeks at the mere mention of Brandon “Jet” Lear, the second line center on her favorite hockey team, the Las Vegas Kingsnakes. She’d followed his career since she was sixteen years old. Back then, he’d played for New York. Sometimes she’d take the bus with her friend from upstate into the city just to see him play.

He was one of the best centers in the entire league. On any other team, he’d play on the first line, but the Kingsnakes were such a deep team that he’d been moved to the second.

Last season, the Kingsnakes had made it all the way to the Western Conference finals before being knocked out by Los Angeles. She’d cried after that game, seeing the dejected looks on their faces as they went through the obligatory end-of-series handshake line. But the Kingsnakes were too good of a team to be kept down for long. They’d be back—taking another run at the Cup when the playoffs rolled around.

“Look at me,” Eden commanded.

Hannah peeked up through her lashes at the camera, and Eden hissed out a breath.

“Yes, that’s it! I’m glad you left your glasses on for this shoot. It screams sexy librarian. A sexy librarian who’s getting felt up by the hockey hottie in the Reference section.”

“Oh, how I wish,” Hannah said, laughing.

“Tell me what you like about him.”

“He’s one of the best centers in the league."

“And?”

“He plays such a cerebral game,” Hannah said, excitement sweeping through her as she began talking about her first love—hockey. Forget trying to find a man at University. Give her a hockey game over a date any day. “He’s not only great at setting up his wingers—”

“Right,” Eden interrupted. “But what about his looks? Does he have any hot dick pics floating around on the internet?”

Hannah made a face. “Ugh! If he does, I don’t want to know about it. Dick pics are not hot. Seeing a dick out of context is just disturbing.”

“Out of context?” Eden started laughing. “What?”

“It’s one thing if you’re getting hot and heavy with a guy and suddenly there it is, waving hello. That can be totally hot. But an up close and personal photo? Uh-uh.”

Eden put a hand on her hip. “Okay, but he’s hot, right? You have all of his shirts and jerseys. Plus, two posters of him in your dorm room.”

“One of those posters is of the whole team,” she said defensively. “But yeah, Brandon is hot.”

That was the understatement of the year. Brandon Lear was smokin’ hot. His long, dark hair always seemed to be in his face, and his bright blue eyes were the most beautiful she’d ever seen on a man. Not to mention, he had a ridiculously sexy deep voice that made her stomach flutter.

She loved watching interviews with him after games when he was all hot and sweaty, his long, damp hair hanging in his face. His sexy baritone rolled over her as he explained what had gone right or wrong during three periods of hockey. Though she was interested in his perspective on the game, he could have read the phone book and she’d still get all swoony over the sound of his voice.

She often wondered what it would be like having him whisper in her ear. God, she could probably come from the sound of his voice alone. And sometimes, she’d daydream about what his big, capable hands would feel like as they slid down over her hips, pulling her against that broad, muscular chest....

Once, at a Kingsnakes practice, she’d stood near the boards watching the team go over various types of drills. He’d paused near the glass, and their eyes had met for a few brief seconds. She’d frozen like a terrified deer in oncoming headlights—unable to turn away from those stunning blue eyes that held her captive with a mere glance.

At that moment, he’d known exactly what kind of effect he’d had on her. A tiny smile had played around his lips before he’d slowly skated away. The man could reduce women to a pile of goo with just one look. It was the reason the team store frequently had a shortage of Lear jerseys in stock. The Lear Effect—that’s what she’d named it—was a very real, very potent thing.

She’d replayed that moment over and over in her mind, editing the outcome to her liking late at night beneath the covers in the darkness of her dorm room. Thank God her roommate spent most nights away at her boyfriend’s apartment. The last thing she needed was someone eavesdropping on her and her battery-operated boyfriend.

Eden began rapidly snapping photos. “Whatever you’re thinking, Han, stay in that zone.”

Hannah bit down her lip, desperate to clench her thighs together and relieve the ache that always began when she thought of him. Her teenaged crush on Brandon Lear was still going strong and showed no signs of stopping, even seven years later.

Ten minutes later, Eden put the camera down. “Woohoo! We got it!”

Hannah threw her arms in the air dramatically. “Yay!”

“See? Thinking about the hockey hottie worked like a charm.”

Hannah took a seat on the couch. “His name is Brandon.”

Brandon,” Eden mimicked in a syrupy sweet voice. “Woman, you’ve got it bad.”

“I know,” she sighed. “His sister’s in my literature class. She looks nothing like him. She’s short and has blonde hair, and he’s tall, dark, and handsome. I didn't even realize she was related until the professor asked about her brother.”

“Do you ever talk to her about him?”

“God, no. She has enough hangers-on to deal with every day. She doesn’t seem to mind people talking to her about him, but I don’t wear Kingsnakes gear when I have that class. I don’t want her to be uncomfortable.”

“So, your bodacious rack isn’t buried under a boxy hockey jersey at least one day out of the week. Men of Las Vegas University, rejoice!”

“Oh, please. The guys at LVU don’t qualify as men,” Hannah said, waving a hand. At 22, she felt light-years older than the guys who shared her classes. They seemed like a bunch of overgrown teenagers.

“Han, I’d be willing to bet you’ve been 40 years old since you were twelve,” Eden replied, fiddling with her computer. “You were born an old soul and blessed with a disgusting sense of organization and responsibility, which I wish I could bottle and sell.”

Hannah cocked an eyebrow. “Um, thanks?”

“I’ll send you a bunch of these photos tonight, then tell me which ones you like best.”

“Sure.” Hannah grabbed her clothes. “I’m heading out. I have to finish working on a new planner video for my ZeeTube channel.”

“I wish you’d given your channel a catchier title.”

Pretty Paper Planning with Hannah makes it clear what the channel is about,” she said defensively. “I make videos about paper planners.” She shrugged. “It fits.”

“I guess so. How many subscribers do you have now?”

“I’m 30 subscribers away from my first fifty thousand.”

“Holy shit,” Eden replied, her perfect black eyebrows rising. “Awesome. So what does that mean? Still planning on moving to NYC to work for Jamie’s company after graduation?”

“Honestly? It’s not likely.”

Since freshman year of high school, she’d planned on working for her older brother’s P.R. firm. He’d gotten her interested in business, and she’d idolized him growing up. That’s why she’d worked so hard at maintaining her 4.0 GPA all through University. Jamie could be as tough on her as her dad was, and nepotism wouldn’t earn her a position at his company.

But with her ZeeTube channel taking off over the past year, her interest had shifted, and she was seriously tempted to grow her own business.

“I hope you stay. I love New York, but I don’t want my bestie living more than ten minutes away. Cramps my style,” Eden told her.

She pulled her Kingsnakes t-shirt over her head. “I have one semester left to prove to my father that I can make a go of my planner business. And a lot can happen in the next five months.”

“True. You could get even more successful.”

That’s what she hoped would happen. After taking a few graphic design electives, she’d started creating planner add-ons and stickers to sell on her website. To her delight, they were an instant hit. She’d made enough money to quit her part-time job at the University’s cafe and could now help pay down the stack of her mother’s extensive medical bills.

“Han, I’m emailing you the photos now. By the way, I had to get a new phone number earlier today.” Eden hastily scribbled down her new phone number on the back of an envelope and handed it to her. “Too many collection calls.”

Hannah cringed. Eden’s mother had gone on an unauthorized spending spree eight months ago with Eden’s only credit card.

“How much damage did she do to your balance, babe?”

Eden’s cheeks pinked. “Eight grand in one day. I can’t even make the minimum payment. On top of the balance I was already carrying....”

“Oh, Eden,” Hannah murmured. She hated how Eden’s mother took advantage of her, but knew better than to bring it up to her friend. Eden was defensive about her mother to a fault. “I’m so sorry. Do you need a loan to cover your minimum payment?”

“No,” Eden said firmly, holding up her hands. “I’ll be fine.”

“I’m here if you need me,” Hannah told her, punching Eden's new number into her cell phone contact list.

“I’m good.”

“Okay, I’m taking off for real.” Hannah hugged her. “I’ll text you later and tell you which photos I like best. But first I have to go over to the ’rents house before heading back to the dorm.”

“You did great today, Han.”

Hannah hoisted her knapsack over her shoulder and grinned. “Full-time student, entrepreneur, and now part-time lingerie model. I can add that to my résumé, right?”

“Damn straight!” Eden said, grinning. “Later, doll.”

 

**

 

Hannah unlocked her parents’ front door and tiptoed inside. Her mom was probably in bed already, even though it was only 8:30. She was still fragile from her recent cancer surgery.

She poked her head into the living room where her father was watching the Kingsnakes game.

“Hey, Papa Bear. What’s the score?”

Her father lounged in his easy chair with a beer in his hand and feet propped up on the ottoman.

“Hey, kiddo. Two–one, Kingsnakes. San Jose is giving them a hell of a battle.”

“We always have a tough time with San Jose on the road. Our record playing them at home is better.” Hannah tossed her knapsack on the floor. “Who scored for us?”

“Lear and O’Bryan.” Her father took a sip of his beer. “Why aren’t you at home watching this game? It’s not like you to miss a single second.”

The last thing she wanted to tell her father was that she’d been getting sexy photos taken in lingerie for Eden’s portfolio website. He wasn’t Eden’s biggest fan and would lose his mind if he knew the entire world was going to be seeing his daughter in her underwear. If he knew, he’d probably try and ground her despite her age.

“Trust me, I would have rather been watching the game, but I had a school project to work on,” she said carefully. “I have something for you though.” She pulled a small stack of money from her knapsack and handed it to her father.

He waved a hand. “Keep it.”

“Dad,” she said firmly. “Pay one of the smaller hospital bills with it. Please.”

He sighed and plucked the money from her fingers. “When are you going to let me take care of you for a change?”

“Hush.” Hannah glanced over at him as the game went to commercial break. “How’s Mom doing tonight?”

“Tired. Same as every other night. But her scans are clean, and that’s all that matters. I can handle the rest.”

Her mother had gone through three surgeries in the past four years—one for skin cancer and two for colon cancer. She’d also had intense chemotherapy. There was always a possibility either would recur in the future, but for now, they were optimistic.

“I can’t stay long,” Hannah said. “I wanted to come over and talk to you about something.”

“What’s up?”

Hannah took a deep breath. “Dad, I don’t think I want to go to New York after graduation.”

Her father glanced in her direction, a hard look in his brown eyes. “Hannah, you’ve worked your entire high school and University career to be able to go to New York. I get that your little business is doing well, but—”

“It’s doing incredibly well, Dad,” she said, trying to keep her frustration contained. “I just think—”

I think that you need to wait until after you graduate to evaluate everything,” he interrupted. “For now, you need to stay the course.”

“Daddy, you aren’t listening to me,” she said quietly.

“Don’t ‘Daddy’ me, Hannah,” he snapped, slamming his hand down on the arm of the chair. “You’ve been stuck here dealing with all of this shit for too damned long. The surgeries, the treatments, the constant caregiving when I had to work. I know you, little girl. If you don’t go now, you won’t ever go. Why do you think I insisted on you staying in the dorms instead of living at home? Staying in Las Vegas because you’re worried about your mother’s health won't move you forward. It’s my job to handle that stuff, not yours.”

“I don’t mind being here for you and mom,” she argued. “She’s my mother. Did you ever consider that I don’t want to be away from her right now?”

“Did you ever consider how she feels?” he countered. “She doesn’t want to hold you back, Hannah.”

“Fine,” she muttered. “I’ll wait until after graduation to make my decision.” It wasn’t exactly the truth because her mind was already made up, but he wasn’t going to listen to her now. Not after his passionate speech.

“Good.” He turned his attention back to the game, the issue dismissed.

She bent over, grabbed her knapsack, and hoisted it over her shoulder. “I should get back to the dorm, but I’m going to go see if she’s awake, okay?”

“Okay. Be careful going back to school.”

“I will.”

Rounding the corner, she tiptoed down the hall and quietly opened the door to her parents’ bedroom. Her mother was fast asleep in bed, looking frail and ten years younger than her 55 years in the soft light of the flickering old television.

Drawing in a deep breath, she closed the door and headed back down the hall, waving to her father on her way out.

Pausing on the front porch, she dragged her hands over her face and glanced over at her mother’s bedroom window. Seeing her mom still so weak was difficult. She knew there was an extensive road of healing ahead for her, along with more tests and endless doctor’s appointments.

Her father’s accounting job allowed him the luxury of working from home at the moment, but he was always distracted. Caring for her mother took a lot of time, and she couldn’t imagine not being around to help her parents. That was one of the main reasons she’d decided against going to New York.

Come graduation, her father wasn’t going to be happy with her decision, but she knew remaining in Las Vegas was the right thing for her family and for her future. And she wasn't about to change her mind.

 

**

 

A few hours later, she’d put the finishing touches on her latest planner video before climbing into bed. Her roommate, Anna, was sleeping at her boyfriend’s apartment off-campus tonight—which was an especially nice bonus when she needed quiet to film her videos.

She grabbed her cell phone off of the nightstand and flipped through the pictures Eden had emailed over. Even though she didn’t consider herself model material, she had to admit she looked good. And Eden was right; her rack did look fantastic. She picked out a few favorites and attached them in a text to send back to Eden.

 

Hannah: Okay, what do you think? These are my favorites of the lot. And yes, my rack is spectacular in these photos. <silly face emoji>

 

Eden didn't reply after a few minutes, so she tossed the phone down on the bed and slipped under the covers with her iPad to catch up on her favorite Netflix shows. She was almost asleep when her phone buzzed with a text. Yawning, she picked it up and stared at the screen with bleary eyes.

 

Unknown Number: I think the photos are fucking hot fire, sweetheart. And your rack is beyond spectacular. But refresh my memory: how exactly did you get my number?

 

“Oh, shit!" She dropped the phone onto the floor like it was on fire, staring at it in horror. “No, no, no!”

Eden must have written down the wrong phone number, because whoever she’d just sent her half-naked photos to, it definitely wasn’t her best friend.

--------------------

Copyright  ©2017 Jennifer Lazaris. No part of the above excerpt may be reproduced for any reason without express written consent from the author, Jennifer Lazaris.

The most difficult New Year

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Most people spend New Year's Eve with friends, or at parties, celebrating the end of the old year and eagerly awaiting the new one. The excitement of new beginnings has always made New Year's Eve and New Year's Day one of my favorite times.

For me, there wasn't anything to celebrate. My beloved kitty, Lil' Miss, got very sick on December 29th, and by New Year's Eve two vet visits later, she was in the veterinarian ER hospital. New Year's Day we got the bleak, awful news that she wasn't likely going to make it. Her kidney values were off the chart high. It had all happened so quickly, and before I knew it, I was rocking her in my arms as we put her to sleep. I'm still in shock.

I've lost my two sister's-in-law within the past four years. But this particular loss affects my *daily* life the most, because I directly feel the absence in my own home. Miss was my little buddy. My writing assistant. My "soul kitty" who just loved to cuddle and talk, and could always be found on my desk, at my side, and at my feet. She was always near me, twenty-four hours a day. She had a lot of chronic health issues, so I spent a lot of time caring for her during her almost eleven years on this earth.

A few weeks before this, my oldest kitty had a minor health issue that cropped up and that was stressful, but nothing like this. It's been an incredibly challenging December, and a really crappy start to the new year. 

I hope everyone can give me a little bit of leeway since I missed releasing this December. I've only started back to my editing today, and Lucky Number is going to my wonderful editor in chunks of ten chapters at a time. I still aim to have it out hopefully by the end of this month, as long as I don't get too stalled by grief. 

Time moves on, and life doesn't stop, but a very near, dear piece of my heart feels like it's missing as I sit at my desk and there's no happy, chubby, calico fuzzball at my feet. Or on my desk. 

I'll really miss her. 

Catching up, and hot new book boyfriends...

Hey lovelies! Thanks for checking out my little corner of the universe. 

This has been a really awkward year for me. A lot of things happened that got in the way of creating yummy book boyfriends for you guys. I struggled with vision issues, injured my back for six weeks (because yeah,  I'm THAT much of a klutz) and I really struggled being far away from my family while my dad's been ill. My sister-in-law passed away two months ago, and that's also been rough on the family.  

So, I've had to learn to work through a lot of adversity, and honestly, it's been a huge personal challenge. For the first part of the year, I totally sucked at it. 

But enough of the woe-is-me stuff. Because here we are, and I'm happy to report that I've got two books coming out before the end of this year. (*insert happy dance here*)   ;-)

My next release, Unbreakable, is coming out at the end of this month (I'll post the date as soon as it's confirmed) and it kicks off a brand new series, The Toronto Smoke. This is a new adult hockey series that takes place-you guessed it-in Toronto, my own fair city.  I can't wait for you guys to meet the first couple in this series, Will & Emmy. I've fallen in love with them so, so hard. 

If you love best friend's little sister books, you'll probably love this one. However, it goes a bit beyond breaking the "guy code" issue of not dating your buddy's sister. 

Will Maverick, the hero of Unbreakable, claimed my heart over the course of writing this book. He's had a lot of loss in his life, and unfortunately, he had a lot more to lose in this story of hard choices and desperate measures. I couldn't wait to give him his happily ever after, and I hope you guys love him as much as I do.

So that's all of my news for today. That's a lot though, eh?  And remember, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter. That way you don't miss any upcoming news or release information. I only send out a newsletter when I have important stuff to announce, and I don't want you to miss out!

Have a wonderful Thursday, lovelies! 

<3 Jen

Lucky Save is now available at Amazon, just in time for the holidays!

I'm thrilled to announce that my second book, LUCKY SAVE, Book #2 of The Las Vegas Kingsnakes Series, is **NOW AVAILABLE** for purchase at Amazon! 

Because what's sexier than a hot goalie being brought down to his knees...on and off the ice!? *grin*

(Please note: Lucky Save will be coming to the other retailers directly after the holidays.)

So...what's the book about, you ask? Check it out:

All Penelope Foster wanted was a vacation in Vegas to escape a family tragedy. But when her car breaks down in the middle of the desert, it seems her holiday is destined for disaster before it even begins.

Until *he* roars up.

Tall and tattooed West Keller is a famous hockey player and notorious playboy. Penn Foster isn’t the kind of girl who would normally catch his eye, but something about the cute, vulnerable blonde appeals to him. He offers her a ride into the city with the expectation of never seeing her again—so what harm can one little lie really do?

Once Penn steps into West's truck, she’s swept up in the passion and excitement of their intense fling—a fling that’s quickly growing into something deeper as they discover they have way more in common than just hot sex.

But when the chips are down, Penn discovers that not everything about West is what it seems. She'll have to choose whether to walk away and cut her losses, or see it through and go all in with no fear.

Can she beat the odds and find true love in Vegas?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amazon Buy Links:

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019LZIUEM…

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B019LZIUEM…

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B019LZIUEM…

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B019LZIUEM…

Thanks so much guys, and I really hope that you love West and Penn's story! 

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Chapter One from Lucky Save

So, here is chapter one of Lucky Save for your reading pleasure! Keep in mind, it hasn’t gone through a final check from my editor yet, so any mistakes are all mine.

I hope you enjoy it! The book is only a few weeks away, but hopefully this will tide you over until it’s released. :-)
Happy Saturday, all!

—————–

CHAPTER ONE

LUCKY SAVE

 

“Come on. Please, please, start.”

She turned the key again, but the engine only stuttered and whined.

“Son of a bitch.”

Penn slammed her fist down on the steering wheel of her yellow Beetle. Swallowing the bitter bile rising in her throat, she peered out of the windshield at the empty blacktop that stretched on for miles.

Stranded. In the middle of the Nevada desert on Highway 50.

“No wonder it’s called the loneliest highway in America,” she muttered. She hadn’t seen another car yet, and she’d been here for at least a half an hour.

Grabbing her ancient cell phone from the passenger seat, she checked again for a signal.

NO SERVICE.

“Shit.” Not that she was really surprised out here in the middle of nowhere. Disgusted, she shoved the useless phone back into the pocket of her denim skirt.

This was bad. She was still hundreds of miles from Las Vegas.

This trip was supposed to be an escape from the shit storm she’d been through lately. All she wanted was to have a nice relaxing drive from Washington to Las Vegas. Then she could kick back, relax, and spend quality time with her best friend. She’d been planning this vacation with Holly for two months.

She needed this vacation.

Instead, here she was-stuck. It was a total representation of her life lately. Trying to move forward, but spinning her wheels and getting absolutely nowhere.

The heat was merciless as the afternoon sun beat down on her little Beetle. Keeping both doors open and the windows rolled down wasn’t making much of a difference. All she could do was drape a t-shirt over the seat to keep her legs from burning.

Though it was stifling inside the car, being outside wasn’t an option, either. She’d burn in a matter of minutes with her fair skin.

God. This was so, so bad.

Peeking into her cooler, she did a quick inventory. Two bottles of water, one sandwich, two chocolate bars, and a bag chips. Of course, the one time she’d forgone getting snacks and drinks at a station, this happens.

She’d been so careful to plan and prepare for this trip. Gas stations were few and far between out here, so she’d put an extra canister of gas in her trunk just in case. She’d even had her car checked out before leaving Washington, and it had been purring right along without a hitch.

Until, of course, it hitched.

Blinking back tears, she took a deep breath. She needed to stay calm and rational-hell, she was known for being calm and rational. But it didn’t take a genius to see this situation was dangerous, and getting worse by the minute.

She glanced into her rearview mirror, praying to see another car, a truck, or any sign of life. But just like all the times she’d checked before, the road stayed empty.

If someone didn’t show up soon, she was completely screwed.

#

West turned right into the tiny Nevada service station and pulled the truck alongside a fuel pump. It was a long way to the next station on Highway 50, and he didn’t want to chance running out of gas in the middle of the desert.

At the pump opposite his, a beat-up blue van sat idle. Whispers from that direction caught his attention.

A middle-aged couple stared at him from the front seat. The blonde female nudged the driver, a big guy who squinted at him through the windshield.

“I’m sorry for bothering you, but are you West Keller?” the female called, hanging out of the open window.

“Yeah, that’s me.” How in the hell had he gotten recognized out here in the middle of fucking nowhere? If this place wasn’t close to the ends of the earth, nothing was.

“I knew it!” The woman climbed from the van and sauntered over to his truck. “I told my boyfriend it was you. You can’t miss all those tattoos. Billy, come down here!” she hollered over to the van.

West winced. Her voice could shatter every windshield within twenty feet.

She stared up at him, her hands on her hips. “Boy, you’re tall. And built. Wow. So, what is the goaltender for the Las Vegas Kingsnakes doing all the way out here, anyway?”

“Just driving back to the city from vacation.”

Billy stepped down from the van. “Stop bothering the guy, Kara. Jesus Christ. He’s going to get soaked from you drooling all over him.”

West chuckled. “It’s fine. No bother.”

“We’re big Kingsnakes fans.” Billy hooked a thumb toward Kara. “This one didn’t like hockey much at first, but she got into it after we went to a few home games.”

“Can I get a picture with you?” Kara asked. “My friend Lydia is going to totally freak. She’sso in love with you. She has your jersey and everything.”

“Just a minute.” He put the nozzle back in the holder and screwed on the gas cap.

Billy snorted. “Yeah, sure, Lydia is in love with him. Don’t act like you don’t have his jersey, too.”

Kara elbowed Billy in the ribs. “Oh my god. Shut up.”

West brushed his hands off on his jeans. “As long as someone has my jersey, it’s all good.”

“You guys came so close last season,” Billy told him. “That was a brutal loss. You’ll come back stronger in the fall, though. I know it.”

“Yeah, well, that’s the plan.”

The Kingsnakes had lost in overtime to Los Angeles during game seven of the Western Conference finals. It had been an incredibly difficult loss to stomach. He’d really thought they’d make it to the Cup finals, and he’d finally get a chance to lift that big silver trophy over his head.

Instead, they’d headed back to the locker room in stunned silence, their dreams going up in smoke and their season over.

Fuck, it still hurt.

He shook the disappointment from his mind and forced a smile. “Ready for that photo?”

“Heck, yes!” Kara cuddled into his side and placed her hand just above his ass. Her hand sank lower with each photo Billy snapped. Another second and she’d be squeezing the goods, boyfriend or not.

West gently extracted himself from her python-like grip. “I have to get back on the road. Make sure to come see some games next season, okay?”

Billy nodded. “Thanks, Keller.” Kara gave him a flirty wave and a wink.

He climbed into the cab, gave them a nod, and pulled back onto the empty highway.

It surprised the hell out of him to get noticed all the way out here, so far from the city limits. Still, that meant the Kingsnakes were expanding their fan base throughout the state, and that was good.

This summer, he’d really needed a break from Nevada. He loved the energy of Vegas, but he got recognized there every day. He’d retreated to a former teammate’s beach house in California, and ended up staying for the better part of a month.

From there, he’d headed up to British Columbia for a week to fish and enjoy some solitude. It had been just what he’d needed to clear his head.

Some days, like today, he just wanted to be anonymous. Not West Keller, professional athlete-just West Keller, guy on a road trip.

He punched down the accelerator and let his thoughts drift as he rolled down the highway. Out here on the open road, behind his sunglasses, that’s exactly who he was.

#

Unable to deny her growing thirst any longer, Penn uncapped one of the water bottles and took a long swallow. She glanced into her rearview mirror for what seemed like the millionth time in the past twenty minutes, and caught sight of a massive black truck barreling down the highway.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she gasped, scrambling from the car. Charging to the side of the road, she hopped up and down, waving her arms. “Stop, please! Stop!”

The truck slowed and rolled to a stop twenty feet away, its Nevada license plate glinting in the sun. The driver backed the truck up in front of her Beetle and killed the engine.

Penn let out a huge, relieved sigh, grateful to finally see another human being. The feeling was immediately followed by a sharp pang of fear.

She had no choice but to accept help from a complete stranger. Taking a deep breath, she attempted to put the brakes on all the scary scenarios dancing through her overactive imagination.

The driver, a man, stepped from the jacked up truck and walked toward her. A gray t-shirt clung to his upper body like a second skin, emphasizing his lean, muscled stature. Snug blue jeans hugged him in all the right places. He pushed black sunglasses farther up the bridge of his nose.

“Well. Aren’t you in a hell of a spot.” His deep, rumbling voice sounded amused.

Her breath caught as she stared up at him, speechless. He towered over her, standing at least 6’5″. Larger than life didn’t seem an adequate way to describe this guy.

Colorful tattoos completely covered both of his arms, disappearing beneath the sleeves of his shirt. He tossed his too-long, light brown hair out of his eyes with a jerk of his head.

He looked dangerous.

Utterly, completely gorgeous, but dangerous.

Penn took a step back, putting space between them. It didn’t escape his notice, and one side of his mouth curled into a half-smile.

“What’s the problem, sweetheart?” He removed his sunglasses and gave her a slow, lingering once over. His deep gray eyes reminded her of the color of the sky just before a violent thunderstorm.

Heat crept into her cheeks as his gaze strayed to her legs. Why hadn’t she worn something less revealing for the drive into Vegas? She tugged on the short denim skirt.

“I’m not sure.” She nodded toward the Beetle. “It started sputtering, then it just shut off. You’re the first person to stop. Actually, you’re the first person I’ve even seen. I would have called the auto club, but my cell phone isn’t getting a signal out here. I guess that’s common in the middle of nowhere.”

God, she was babbling away like a teenager. If he would just stop staring at her, maybe she could gather her thoughts.

He kicked the tire with his white sneaker. “What year is this car?”

“Seventy-one. It’s a Super Beetle.”

“A classic.” He rubbed a hand over what appeared to be at least a month’s worth of beard. “Engine’s in the back, as I recall. You want to pop the hood for me?”

“Do you know anything about cars?”

He flashed a grin. “I might know a thing or two.”

I just bet you do.

She leaned inside and pulled the lever in the glove compartment, popping the hood.

“Let’s see what we got.” He lifted the metal hood with the corner of his t-shirt. “Well-maintained,” he said, looking down at the engine. “Start it up so I can hear what’s going on.”

Penn turned the key, leaning out of the car to watch as he stared down at the motor. He listened to the noise, watching the engine sputter and whine for a few moments before it quit. He leaned in and poked around, having her start it up a few more times before giving up.

“Sorry, kid. It’s nothing obvious, which means it’s probably an expensive fix. Anything on a vehicle this old is going to be an expensive fix.”

“Comforting.” She placed one hand on the back of her neck and sighed. Thank god she had a shiny new credit card to pay for the repairs. Hopefully she’d soon have a shiny new job to go along with it.

He slammed the hood and placed his foot on the bumper. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Penn Foster. Damsel in distress and all that.”

He frowned. “Penn? What kind of name is that?”

“It’s short for Penelope, which I’m not that fond of. And you are?”

“West Keller.” He stared down at her, like he was waiting for some kind of reaction. What kind of reaction, she didn’t know.

She crossed her arms. “Hmm. And you’re questioning my name…West?”

He hesitated a moment, then grinned. “Fair enough. West is my mom’s maiden name.”

“Well, anyway, I appreciate you stopping to help, Mr. Keller.”

“Just call me West.”

Her stomach flipped and fluttered under his intense gaze. She wasn’t sure anyone had ever looked at her quite so intently before. Plus, he was so attractive, it almost bordered on ridiculous. He was, as her friend Holly would say, smokin’ hot.

He slid his sunglasses back on. “Here’s the deal, Penn Foster, damsel in distress. You’re about ninety miles away from the nearest town, which is where I’m staying tonight. You can grab a ride with me and get a hotel room for yourself. My buddy, Adam, works for a garage in Vegas. I’ll get him to transport your car there. I’ll try and get you the best price I can. Deal?”

He obviously liked taking charge. While she appreciated the help, she hated feeling like she had zero say in the matter.

“Does your cell phone have a signal?” she asked. “If it does, I can call the auto club and get them to come pick me up.”

He pulled an iPhone from his pocket and held it out to her. Just as she suspected-no signal.

Penn rubbed her temples. This day couldn’t possibly get any worse. “Can’t your friend tow my car to the closest town and have them fix it there?”

“It’s a classic car, doll. You’ll need to get parts in the city.”

“I’m on my way to Vegas for a vacation anyway, but I’ll have to find a way to get there.”

“I’m heading into Vegas tomorrow morning,” he told her. “I can give you a ride. Problem solved.”

“No, problem not solved, Mr. Keller.” She put her hands on her hips and stared up at him. “I don’t know you. You could be a highway serial killer for all I know, chopping women up and leaving their body parts scattered throughout the desert.”

He laughed, the sound rich and deep. “I promise you I’m not, but you’re just going to have to trust me, aren’t you? Because you’re out of options at the moment, darlin’. This heat is miserable, and no doubt you could use some air conditioning. Any longer out here and you’re going to turn to ash. We both will.”

She tugged on her skirt again. It didn’t help he kept openly ogling her legs while he went on about trust. He was probably used to women happily doing anything he wanted.

West gestured at the empty highway. “If you don’t mind burning alive out here, I guess you could take your chances with the next person who passes by, whenever that is. Maybe it will be a trucker looking for some company. Or a car full of guys on their way to Vegas for a little fun.”

He cocked his head. “Then again, there’s the off-chance no one will come by for hours. Or if someone does, they might not stop. Not many Good Samaritans these days, you know?”

“Ugh, I get it, okay?” She peered down the long, empty stretch of road again, sweat trickling down her temple.

He was right, getting back inside her Beetle and baking away in the afternoon sun wasn’t an option. And if she stood outside any longer, she’d be burnt to a crisp.

Pulling her phone from the pocket of her skirt, she snapped a photo of his license plate, then turned and snapped another one of his face.

“While I appreciate your help, Mr. Keller, you need to know that if you try anything funny, I will kick you in the nuts and scream my face off. Then I will send these photos to the Nevada police. Understand?”

He peered down at her. “How will you do that? I thought you said your phone didn’t have a signal.”

She tipped her head back and groaned. “Son of a bitch.” This guy didn’t miss a beat.

“Relax, little pixie. I know you’re nervous, but I’m not going to hurt you. That’s not my deal.”

It better not be, because she had pepper spray hidden in her purse and wouldn’t hesitate to use it and slam him in the jewels if he made one wrong, creeptastic move.

“Let’s get your stuff, okay?”

She shoved her phone back in the pocket of her skirt and walked back to the car. “Alright.”

“This is all you have?” He looked down at her tiny suitcase and duffel bag.

“Besides my cooler and my purse, yes. I’m only going to be in Vegas for a week. Not much else fits in this trunk, anyway.”

“Most women I know can’t go on a trip without three of these, at least.” He lifted the suitcase from the trunk.

She grabbed the duffel bag. “Then I guess I’m not most women.”

“You’re probably right about that.”

Penn glanced over at him, expecting to see a teasing expression on his face, but he didn’t look like he was joking. Slamming the trunk lid closed, he nodded toward his truck. “Ready?”

She hoisted the duffel bag over her shoulder and shrugged. “As I’ll ever be, I guess. Let’s go.”

Copyright 2015 Jennifer Lazaris