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My dreams have been coming back, which is a good thing. I am fairly competent in lucid dreaming. What that means is I’ve experienced it often, but I haven’t been able to control it yet. But the fact is, now that I spent an entire weekend working/awake on my work schedule and that’s reset me, has been good. It means I can go to bed at 11 AM and get into REM sleep.

I miss that.

You may notice a timestamp here for this post and that’s the truth. I’m a night worker now and sadly, I don’t make as much as streetwalkers, though I’ve actually done that once..The point is, I’m now an overnight stocker for a pharmacy that has an 88.92 Billion dollar market cap and it’s thrown me for a complete loop. Because I’m on that 11 PM-7 AM shift, it threw my sleep for a bit because I hadn’t adjusted until last weekend when I actually forced myself to stay awake on my days off like I would if I were at the store. I’m not quite “there” yet, but I am much closer than I was when I first began the job. My body doesn’t ache anymore from the manual labor, other than my wrists.

That’s expected. I’m a writer. And I was a bassist.

But you don’t care about how much of a slut I’ve been, you want the wolf.

The wolf wrote. And the Wolf needs a day to recreate.

But until then?

How about a first chapter peak? I’m listening to a lot of early Sevendust right now as a coping mechanism because I need to breathe. And Lajon Witherspoon lets me breathe. My hero and heroine need the same damn thing.

~~~~~~~~

Blurb:

Sandy knew the aches in her body wouldn’t disappear if she didn’t change her life. At fifty-four, she’d made a successful career for herself, but it came at a mental and physical cost that left her deciding to burn her world down. She’d sell off everything, including her successful advertising business, and drive across the country. Little did she know, Seaside, Oregon, with its peaceful beaches, beautiful ocean view, and small-town feel would reopen a wound she thought had closed thirteen years earlier.

Craig thought his life was awesome. Great job, always busy, plenty of money, and an understanding with whomever he spent time with. Until he looked at his existence and found it to be not just boring, but empty. His remedy? Cut communication from his old life, throw his bag in his car, and drive north from Oakland, CA. Stopping at Seaside seemed to bring him respite until he saw the one woman who shattered his heart thirteen years ago.

When he seduces Sandy and confesses his feelings for her, it quickly goes south, leaving him with only one option. Return to his previous life.

Except Sandy’s realization of how deeply they loved one another forces her to find him, and hope to salvage things until she accidentally smashes her SUV into his Porsche.

Can our lovers overcome their past and give romance a second chance, or will they end up brokenhearted and alone?

Grab your copy of Second Chance Summer and follow our May/December romance for passion today.

Sandy left it all behind. Burned it all down, and for what? A clean slate? A new life? Anything far enough away from that garbage old ex of hers. Brent had been the final straw, nagging her about acting her age when she told him she’d grown tired of her life and missed having a life.

No woman at her age should work sixteen-hour days.

The martinis didn’t help.

And to be underappreciated by her clients as well? If it weren’t for her, they’d all be broke jokes.

The drive had been long.  Four days across the country from Maine to the West Coast, but it gave her time to think. To scream, to cry, to rage, drink and sleep until noon for once, and to pine, though she didn’t know what she was missing. At present, she kept her focus on the road, watching signs and waiting for them, as well. The universe had to have something special for her if she threw her old life away, right? Her third quarter of life had to have an air of life, and not just pure existence, didn’t it?

At present, she huffed, straightened her shoulders and stopped the car in front of a large hotel on the main drag in Seaside, Oregon, and tapped the steering wheel while closing her eyes.

“Deep breaths. Deep breaths.” She could do this.

Start over.

Money wasn’t an issue.

She’d shut her business down, did the polite thing to the handful of clients who appreciated all she did to promote their businesses in the new advertising model, and told the rest to fuck off.

Some of them had the gall to act appalled that a woman her age would behave in such a manner.

“I’m fifty-four. I’ve earned it.”

Famous last words she believed had carried her to Oregon. She needed the water, the fresh air, the ocean.

Now she found her courage waning.

When she tried summoning her courage as a goddess, it reminded her of something crazy a ghost she once remembered had said. He’d told her he thought she was perfect in her ruin, beautiful in her ugly, and always in his heart.

Her heart ached for the moment, the faded memory in her not-so-distant past.

Sandy sighed, threw her shoulders back and shut off the car before opening the door and stepping out of the vehicle and into fresh ocean air that bombarded her senses with a renewed sense of cautious hope to begin this stage of her life.

She could do this.

Sandy inhaled the air, letting it fill her lungs before she let the breath out through her nose, just past the point of empty before holding the space, and taking another breath. It didn’t take but a moment for her shoulders to relax slightly and her posture to straighten. Tension in her lower back eased. This town had a feel about it, she realized, when she stepped a few feet from her large, white SUV and toward the Seaside Hotel loomed large in the ocean-side town, making her tense immediately. The structure was akin to something she’d have stayed in when she was visiting clients to discuss proposals. Large, multistory, with neon lights?

Ick.

She shook her head. No. This would not do. She didn’t want that life anymore. Sandy wanted simple. Smaller.

She got back in her SUV and pulled out of the parking lot, squealing her tires before spinning the vehicle around and moving back into traffic.  She couldn’t get away from that hotel fast enough.

Too much like corporate hell.

Sandy drove through the town along the beach until she’d spotted The Sandy Inn. The sign said Bed and Breakfast. When she peered closer at the structure, realized it too sat just feet from the beach, wasn’t some giant corporate nonsense, she slowed her vehicle and turned into the parking lot.

Three story brick, with a visible turret, a large, wooden porch and beautiful plants and bushes around the property, it looked like it had life. She wouldn’t call it quaint, but it definitely looked like something Sandy would enjoy more than the stuffy corporate feel of the hotel she’d stopped in earlier.

It looked perfect.

Sandy hoped they had a reservation; else she’d be screwed.

She exited the SUV and again, felt the whipping wind from the nearby ocean blowing her red curls across her face. She turned, faced the mirror, and adjusted her headscarf before walking toward the entrance at a slow pace. Each step, a calculated movement because this felt peaceful and, in her experience, peaceful never boded well.

Clients who seemed peaceful often ended up yelling or hating the projects she’d created. They’d assumed just because she was older that she didn’t have her pulse on the zeitgeist, when in fact, her magical designs often earned awards when turned into art, which turned into profit for her clients. Critics often proclaimed how enchanting those paintings were. Not that art and advertising were the same, of course. Unless, of course, they were. And for her, that was the magic.

Sandy continued down the path toward the door, grabbing it with the full weight of hope comforting her, surrounding her while she started anew.

When she stepped inside the BnB, a sense of ease settled around her. She didn’t know where it came from, but she felt a pull toward the registration desk where a blonde with a pleasant smile made eye contact with her and nodded. “Welcome to the Sandy Inn. Can I help you?”

While keeping her focus on the blonde, Sandy let her eyes roam around the somewhat eclectic décor of the space. Victorian style on the outside, with high ceilings, gave the space berth, but not too much. It didn’t feel cavernous, more like intriguing. Various pieces of art decorate the walls, adding to the quirky vibe Sandy picked up. She turned to the blonde. “I’m hoping you have a vacancy for a few days.”

Gods, did she have to sound desperate?

The blonde looked down, flipped open a book, and typed a few keystrokes on the computer before meeting Sandy’s eyes. “Sure do. Just you?”

Sandy nodded.

The blonde’s eyes sparkled. “I have just the space for you.”

Great. 

A few moments later, the blonde, who introduced herself as Olivia, had given Sandy the rundown of the area, including when breakfast was served, a tour, some history about her uniquely witchy Aunt, before she’d led her outside, grabbed her suitcase and directed Sandy toward a stairwell in the corner of the lobby she hadn’t noticed earlier.

“You’re right up the stairwell. I think you’ll enjoy the views.”

“I can’t imagine not. This is pretty.”

“We try. My aunt has had this property for a long time, and we pride ourselves on its innate beauty. She’s tried to keep the spirit of it since taking it over all those years ago.”

“I could see that. Lovely indeed.”

Olivia turned to leave, but stopped and glanced over her shoulder. “One more thing. The Seaside Festival is coming up soon. Maybe you’ll be able to join us?”

Sandy didn’t know what she’d be able to do in the few days she’d settled in, but she nodded anyway. “Maybe. I don’t know what each day is going to bring right now.”

Another nod and smile before Olivia bid her good evening and returned to the desk to flirt with some male.

Sandy made her way to her room via stairwell that landed her in the turret part of the bed-and-breakfast. Upon setting foot in the room, she dropped her luggage and sank onto the bed, falling back and sighing.

It was over.

For now, she could rest. Then take in the sights and sounds of this little town.

She could plan her life at fifty-four years old tomorrow.

Right now?

Sandy allowed herself to sink into the soft four-poster bed and drift off.

* * * *

Craig raced up the 101 as fast as his Porsche could take him, hoping the fucking California Highway Patrol were taking doughnut breaks because he didn’t have time to be stopped. Stopping meant Carly could get a hold of him and yet again, make her case for date night.

They weren’t a couple.

They were fuck buddies, two consenting adults passing the time between sleep and work. He’d adhered to the rules. She’d done so until recently, when she’d gone out on a girls’ night out with her friends.

Damn dames. Someone must have put a bug in her ear about date night because he sure as hell hadn’t.

He never stayed the night.

Stopping meant his clients would want to talk to him about their projects—all of which were on hold because none of them could come up with immediate funding after Craig repeatedly warned them that this would happen. SPACS had gone the way of the NFT Bored Ape Yacht Club.

It meant he’d have no excuse to dodge his insane hippie parents yet again, because they needed money for yet one more wasteful project that added up to them needing to be dropped off a cliff into an ocean full of sharks.

Or at the nearest rehab center because they were either insane or fucking high.

Who built a funhouse in the backyard for their elderly friends, anyway?

In short, stopping meant he couldn’t have his time back.

Craig had packed as fast as he could, throwing what little he had in the way of clothing into a suitcase, tossed his shit in the trunk of his Porsche. He debated chucking his cell, but his parents barely remembered his current number, one he’d had for twenty years.  

He didn’t know where he’d planned on ending up, but north seemed to make the most sense. No one would think to look for him that way; not with all the shit he’d talked about moving further up the west coast.

Well, moving was a stretch, anyway. Craig didn’t plan to move, not yet. But he needed space and time to breathe. Getting away from the constant noise around him had been the one thing he’d avoided until he’d reached a breaking point and started murdering someone.

Anyone.

It didn’t matter.

Carly’s incessant pestering about a date had his teeth on edge.

She was a nice girl, but they had an agreement. When he tried to back out, she’d used her wiles on him to get one more fuck out of him before he cut.

Selfish bastard that he was. Or at least that’s what she’d said when he reminded her of their arrangement. He’d stormed out of her apartment, jammed the keys into the ignition and spun his car out of her parking lot as fast as possible, despite seeing her in the rearview mirror.

At least he thought he saw her chasing after him.

His phone’s ringing confirmed it when he heard Return of the Mack, her default ringtone on repeat.

Now, he imagined how he was the liar. Driving down the 101 with nary a car in sight gave him time to think, to pause. He’d once thought he’d loved her, never said it, though. Because they had an understanding, not an illusion.

She’d said it a plethora of times.

Too many times.

The one time he’d wanted to say the three simple words, the woman broke his heart before he had the chance to speak.

“It’s over, Craig. I’m… I need to focus on my life.”

Not like he didn’t get it, what with the eighteen-year age difference and all, but—but nothing. Cue the memory back into the grave, where it belonged.

Craig pushed the gas and brought the Porsche to a cool hundred and ten while speeding up the 101 and letting the wind blow his blond hair back. He’d forget about all noise, find some peace, then strategize the next move because he couldn’t run forever. He knew that.

Life taught him hard lessons over the last thirteen years. From failed attempts at school, to boring IT jobs, and failed relationships, he’d learned life could punch hard.

Craig learned to punch back with sheer force, determination, and will. Landing the jobs had provided him with start-up capital. Firing the eighty percent of clients that wasted his time made him ruthless and impressive in the eyes of his peers.

Craig didn’t branch out, though. To the dismay of his peers, he remained with the company that nurtured him, even as his workload piled higher.

“You do this, that’s it.”

“Fine. Fuck it, Chuck. I simply can’t, right now.”

Another client yelling?

No thanks.

Enter bug out bag and flight out of Oakland.

Craig spotted a sign for Seaside, Oregon, and wondered how much time had passed and how long he’d been white knuckling the steering wheel.

He slowed the vehicle to a more reasonable speed and the wind no longer whipped his blond strands about his face.

He hadn’t eaten since leaving. The rumbling of his stomach assured him it was time. And he needed to find a spot to crash for the next night or six while he figured something out.

Cruising down the 101 at a slower pace, Craig observed the greenery while slowing the car even more. Glancing around revealed the small-town feel surrounding him and gave him the impression that he might, perhaps, take a deep breath that didn’t belong to someone fucking else.

Why the hell did a woman have Craig’s mind in a twist, anyway? He’d dealt with ever-increasing stress at work with ease.

Until he didn’t, anyway.

Nothing else mattered but the job.

Again, he shrugged off the thought while he drank in the sights and sounds of Seaside, Oregon. Small-town feel.

He could appreciate that.

Being near the beach would calm his mind. He could find lodging, set about and refresh himself, then go stroll along the beach while the waves silenced the noise in his head and gave him room to breathe.

Fuck thinking.

Craig spotted a Victorian style bed-and-breakfast—the Sandy Inn. From a distance, it looked like the rest of the town; quaint. But the closer he drove, the more he felt drawn into the parking lot, right to the point of parking beside someone’s overly large white SUV.

Before he knew it, Craig had gotten out of the car, thrown his bag over one shoulder and made his way into the foyer of the bed-and-breakfast.

Looking around at the rather eclectic décor made him smirk.

Once he’d known wonderment.

The corporate world sucked that out in favor of practicality.

Incense, a smell he wouldn’t normally notice, hit him, but only faint. Craig looked up at the older woman behind the counter and met her gaze.

When she smiled, he tried to return the expression, but found his facial muscles unable to move.

“Can I help you?”

Craig walked closer, taking in all of the woman behind the desk. Suddenly, the very pragmatic task master had nothing to say. “Um, hi.”

“Hi yourself. What brings you here?” The woman’s smart black pantsuit stressed curves but said hands off. Definitely. She leaned forward, moved just enough to get into his space without invading it.

How did she do that?

“I’m looking for a place for the weekend. Wondering if you had a vacancy?”

The older blonde straightened and gave him the once over before looking at a book, then at a computer screen, before returning her focus to Craig. “Yeah. We have space and I’m sure the room is perfect for you. How long were you thinking?”

Craig shrugged, adjusted the weight of his bag on his shoulders. “I don’t know, honestly. Few days at least?”

“Good to know. We get busy around the time of the Seaside Festival.”

“Oh?” He hadn’t been to any festivals in whom knew how long.

She nodded. “I’m Lorelei, the owner.”

“Craig.” He extended his hand. “Craig Hawthorne. Pleasure to meet you.”

She took his hand and gave him a firm shake before looking at the paperwork. “Here, fill these forms out, and we’ll settle up when you’re out of here.”

He nodded, took the clipboard, and began filling out the forms. After he’d finished, he handed the clipboard back to Lorelei. She gave him the rundown of the place, then handed him the key to his room. “Nothing calmer than the room I’ve set you up in. You may find it…different. Keep an open mind.”

Craig quirked a brow but took the key, anyway. If the room was anything like the décor, or the rather hippie-inspired, witchy themed dressed owner, Craig wouldn’t be surprised.

Of course, seeing the Goddess Room when he made his way to the second floor made him shake his head and think twice about his accommodations.

He sighed, slid the key in the lock, and turned the handle. What would it hurt him to stay somewhere with more…questionable qualities?

Once he stepped foot inside, Craig swore he’d lost his mind. The room felt gypsy themed, what with the large four-poster bed in the center, colorful sheets, bedspread and wallpaper.

He took two steps inside, letting the old-world creak of wood bring his mind to a simpler time.

Craig shut the door behind him, set his bag down on the wrought-iron chair beside the wall, and moved to the window. Above, the spacious high ceilings would let a breeze through the room if he opened the windows.

Which he did.

Cool night air came into the room, stirring up papers on the hand carved dresser opposite the bed. Fresh ocean spice, hints of brine carried on the breeze, and Craig’s mind stopped whirring instantly.

He loved the oceans when he was younger.

Even he’d picked up some of his parents’ bullshit about nature.

Right now, Craig sat on the bed, ran his hand over an exquisite purple comforter that felt light, yet welcoming.

He’d need to eat. Maybe find a drink or get a bottle and a glass, sit on the beach. Lorelei mentioned it was only a few steps off the property. If a festival was indeed coming, as she’d said, he’d want to get his recuperation in before it came, then figure out his next move.

Craig allowed himself to relax for a few moments more before deciding he’d need to answer the call of his stomach. A quick trip in the bathroom let him run cool water over his face, brush his hair out so he didn’t look like a slob, and wake him up enough to make his way downstairs. Maybe ask Lorelei for a food recommendation.

After adjusting his shirt, Craig headed down the hall, feeling better already about this weekend. With no simple plan in place, he would count on making no plans until his mind had detoxed from years of stress he’d taken on to prove himself.

He’d just hit the lobby when his nerves went all affray. Coming down a staircase…no.

It couldn’t be.

Sandy looked up, and they made eye contact at the same time before Craig mouthed three words.

“You’re a ghost.”

Before she could react, he’d made a B-Line for the door and toward his car. His stomach could wait.

He needed to get out of here.

Now.

She wanted a change before she felt old and useless. He needed something to pull him from his self-induced prison.

Sandy knew the aches in her body wouldn’t disappear if she didn’t change her life. At fifty-four, she’d made a successful career for herself, but it came at a mental and physical cost that left her deciding to burn her world down. She’d sell off everything, including her successful advertising business, and drive across the country. Little did she know, Seaside, Oregon, with its peaceful beaches, beautiful ocean view, and small-town feel would reopen a wound she thought had closed thirteen years earlier.

Craig thought his life was awesome. Great job, always busy, plenty of money, and an understanding with whomever he spent time with. Until he looked at his existence and found it to be not just boring, but empty. His remedy? Cut communication from his old life, throw his bag in his car, and drive north from Oakland, CA. Stopping at Seaside seemed to bring him respite until he saw the one woman who shattered his heart thirteen years ago.

When he seduces Sandy and confesses his feelings for her, it quickly goes south, leaving him with only one option. Return to his previous life.

Except Sandy’s realization of how deeply they loved one another forces her to find him, and hope to salvage things until she accidentally smashes her SUV into his Porsche.

Can our lovers overcome their past and give romance a second chance, or will they end up brokenhearted and alone?

Grab your copy of Second Chance Summer and follow our May/December romance for passion today.

 

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