BEST YEAR EVER - Coming Dec 18th

I hope everyone's been enjoying A Whirlwind of Color!  But who's ready for the Best Year Ever?!  I'll give you a hint - Penny's best friend definitely is :)  Melissa is starring in her own novella coming to you December 18th!

Best Year Ever takes place during Temptation.  You get Melissa's perspective of Penny's newfound love with her professor.  Plus you get to read about how Melissa and Josh's love story all began.  If you don't already love Melissa, you're about to!


Blurb: My best friend Penny and I made a pact that this is going to be our best year ever. So naturally it has to come true. 

Truth be told, we’ve started off the semester a little shaky. Penny may have accidentally fallen in love with her professor. I know, how awkward, right? And I may have accidentally fallen in love with a complete stranger. And by accidentally I mean I stalked him. What? Sue me. I’m the one that’s going to be a lawyer one day so I’ll just file a countersuit. God, when did I become a stalker?

Regardless, Penny and I are going to turn this semester around. I’m nothing if not persistent. And that guy that I keep almost running into on campus? The one with the piercing brown eyes and panty-dropping smile? He’s going to be a big part of my best year ever. I can feel it.

Pre-order your copy today:

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I’ll be talking about the upcoming release of Best Year Ever and getting up to all sorts of shenanigans.  Plus I’ll be answering any questions you have for me :)

Join me on my Facebook page HERE.

Best Year Ever Cover (2).jpg

LIVE Book Release Party!

I'll be LIVE on Facebook tonight 11/29 @7:30 PM EST!

So make sure to stop by my Facebook page tonight! I’ll be celebrating the release of A Whirlwind of Color, doing tons of giveaways, and getting up to all sorts of shenanigans.  Plus I’ll be answering any questions you have for me :)

Join me on my Facebook page at 7:30 pm HERE.

A Whirlwind of Color is LIVE!

A Whirlwind of Color is now live!  It's finally time to find out what happens to Penny & James after The Light to My Darkness!

If you fell in love with James and Penny, you will not want to miss this installment.  And get ready for an emotional roller coaster. 

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Don’t forget to stop by Don’t forget to stop by my Facebook page on Thursday night! I’ll be celebrating the release of A Whirlwind of Color, doing tons of giveaways, and getting up to all sorts of shenanigans. Plus I’ll be answering any questions you have. Join me HERE.

A Whirlwind of Color Chapter 8

Chapter 8


I wasn’t sure I had ever felt so awkward in my life.  Looking at our wedding spot in the distance, standing by a man I didn’t know, and feeling so lost.  I didn’t know how to clear the tension in the air.  And as soon as I thought about the awkwardness, I realized I was missing a whole element of it.  On top of everything else, I was alone with a man I didn’t know.  All alone.  In this huge apartment.  What did he want me to do?

“So where do I sleep?” I asked.  Really?  You’re jumping right to the sleeping arrangements?  What is wrong with you?  I could feel my face turning red.

He smiled down at me.

God, his smile made me nervous.  “Forget that last question.  Is it okay if I go for a run?  I think I just need some fresh air.”  The park across the street was calling to me.  Maybe if I got in the very middle of it, I’d forget I was in the city.  Unlikely.

“You don’t like to run,” he said.

I shrugged.  “Usually I don’t.  But I feel like it today.”

“No, I mean you really don’t like to run.  You hate running.  Trust me.”

I think I know myself better than you do.  I bit the inside of my lip.  I think.  “So you know that but you don’t know my favorite movie?  Interesting.”  I tried to give him what I hoped was a playful smile and not a horrified one.

“Have you ever considered that when we met, that was no longer your favorite movie?”

No.  Why would it change?  “So what do you think it is?”

“You don’t have one.  You’ve always claimed that you don’t.  You’re adamant about it really.”

“And yet, I know my favorite movie.  You’re the one that doesn’t.”

He laughed, but it sounded exasperated.  “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

“I want you to tell me anything that makes sense.  It doesn’t seem like you know me at all.”

“You’ve changed a lot in seven years.”

“So much so that I’ve lost myself?”  I didn’t mean for the words to spill out, but they did.  And now it was too late.  I hated that he looked hurt because of me.

“Some stupid movie doesn’t define you, Penny.”

“I’m not saying it does.”  My breathing was growing uneven.  I should have been backtracking, going back to make-believe, but I couldn’t stop myself.  “And I’m not even talking about the movie.  I mean all of this.”  I gestured to the enormous living room.  “This isn’t me.  I like simple things.  Homey things.”

“I know.  It’s one of the many reasons why I love you.”

“Then why do we live here?  What happened to me to make me say all of this was okay?”

He ran his fingers through his hair, and I had the oddest sensation that if he hadn’t, his fist would have gone through one of the walls.

“You fell in love with me,” he said.  “We fell in love.  And we made all these decisions together.  You love it here.  All our family and friends are here.”

“Oh, my parents live in New York?”  I couldn’t imagine them leaving their jobs in Wilmington.  They loved them.  How strange.

“I meant everyone besides your parents.”

“I see.”  This conversation was pointless.  I never should have started it.  “I think what you meant was that your family and friends are here.  Not mine.”

“They're yours too.”

I wanted to yell at him.  I wanted to throw all the stupid decorative pillows off the couch.  But I heard my doctor’s voice in the back of my head.  I was supposed to play along.  Would me agreeing with James take away the worry line on his forehead?  Would it really make everything smoother?  Because it didn’t feel like it would for me.  I took a deep breath.  Pretending made it easier for everyone but me.

“Penny.”  He stepped closer to me.  Too close.  His cologne was polluting my air supply.

“It’s fine,” I said.  “I’m sorry I freaked out.  I don’t have any of my own friends.  Got it.  What about Melissa, though?  Did we lose touch?”  The thought made me want to cry.  I had been holding out hope to talk to her.  It felt like she was the only one that could help me.

“Baby, my friends are your friends.  That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  Honestly, they probably like you more than they like me.”

Did he expect me to laugh at that?  “Awesome.”  I tried to keep my voice light and upbeat.

It just made him sigh.  “And you and Melissa are still friends.  She was planning on coming to town when the…” his voice trailed off.  “I mean, she’ll be here tomorrow.  It was the earliest she could get off work.”

“Melissa’s coming?”  I didn’t even have to pretend to be excited at that news.  “That’s wonderful.  She’ll stay with us, right?”

“We usually offer to put guests up in that the hotel down the street while they visit.”

“Why?  This place seems big enough.  Don’t we have any guest rooms?”

“Two actually.  But we prefer our privacy.”

“Privacy for what?  I’ll text her and let her know she can stay here.”  I looked down at my shoulder and realized I didn’t have a backpack.  Or a purse.  Or any of my things.  I turned in a circle.  “Where’s my phone?”

“I want to be able to focus on just us for a little bit.  I want to try to get you used to our lives.  Together.”

Was he keeping me hostage here?  I thought about how he said I couldn’t go for a run earlier.  How he wouldn’t let anyone stay here with us.  How he had taken away my phone.  I stared at him.  There were a lot of red flags.  But what could it hurt to let this weird fantasy play out?  Maybe if I let it, I’d be able to wake up.  I’d be able to go back to a time where I didn’t know this man.  “Okay.”

He lowered both his eyebrows as he stared at me. 

The action made me swallow hard.  I wasn’t sure I had ever seen anything so sexy in my entire life.

“Okay?” he asked.  “That’s it?  I’m used to you putting up a little more of a fight.”

I laughed.  Finally something that sounded like me.  “Sure.  So what exactly did you want to do in this huge apartment all alone?”

This time he was the one that swallowed hard.  I could tell because I had the pleasure of watching his Adam’s apple rise and fall.  Maybe I was wrong before, because this was the new sexiest thing I had ever seen.

“How about we start with a tour?” he asked as he stepped closer to me.

“Mhm.”  My voice came out weird and high-pitched.  Had he seen me staring at him?  I backed up and my butt collided with the couch behind me.  “Okay, so…the living room.”

“You’ve always been very intelligent,” he said.

I laughed and folded my arms across my chest as I looked around the room.  My eyes landed on a framed piece of artwork above the fireplace.  It looked like it was taken from the boardwalk of Rehoboth Beach.  I used to love going there with my parents.  I smiled, picturing myself walking along the boardwalk.  I had always wished that I had someone to hold hands with.  It always felt like I was the only single person in existence on those lazy summer nights.  But I wasn’t alone right now.  I wondered if I had told him that story. 

“That painting is nice,” I said.  “It reminds me of summer trips with my parents to the beach.”

“One of our first dates was a day trip to Rehoboth.  We picked out this painting because it reminded us of that.”

I smiled.  “You know, I always wished I had a boyfriend to walk along the boardwalk with.”

“I know.”

He knew?  I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye.  He was staring at the painting like it was a distant memory.  I had a million questions.  Had we only ever been once?  Did he like to play in the water or was he scared of sharks?  And speaking of sharks, did he even like Shark Tank?  Did we have the same hobbies?  Did he truly love me?

“And now you have a husband to accompany you on the boardwalk.”

I laughed.  “Accompany?  That’s such a serious way to put it.  It’s more of a skipping, dancing, twirling in the ocean breeze kind of boardwalk experience in my mind.  I’m starting to think you don’t know how to have any fun.”

“Trust me, I know how to have a good time.  Especially at the beach.”

“Why especially at the beach?”

“The first time we went together, we went skinny-dipping and some stupid kids stole your bikini.”

I laughed.  “I strongly doubt I did something so reckless.”  No favorite movie and skinny-dipping?  Who the hell was this Penny Hunter person?

“Well, then maybe you’re the one that doesn’t know how to have any fun.”  He raised his left eyebrow like he was challenging me.

I rolled my eyes.  “You can have fun without public indecency.”

“But the best kind of fun is public indecency.”

“If you want to wind up behind bars.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I don’t want to end up in jail.  My parents would kill me.”

“Your parents can’t exactly ground you anymore, Penny.  You’re 26 years old.”

“Right.”  Right!  God, I’m 26 in this alternate reality!  I could legally drink alcohol.  Now that was something that would make this fantasy easier to digest.  “Speaking of being old, we should like…make a toast or something.  To…being married.”

James smiled.  “Penny, you just stopped taking morphine yesterday.  We should probably give it more time to flush out of your system.”

“But I feel fine.”

“That’s probably the morphine talking.”

“Oh come on.  I’m a skinny-dipping jailbird.  I’m sure I can handle my alcohol.”  I wandered into the kitchen and was happy that he didn’t stop me.  I opened up the stainless steel refrigerator and stared at the contents inside.  Fresh fruits and vegetables jumped out from everywhere.  I had never seen such a well-stocked fridge.  And nothing was pre-made, it was all fresh ingredients.  In the back corner I saw a bottle of white wine that was half empty.  I grabbed it and opened up one of the cupboards.  Only plates.  Tons and tons of plates.  Who had so many plates and what on earth were they all for?

“Next one over,” James said.

I opened up the next cabinet and pulled out two wine glasses.

“None for me,” he said from behind me.

Party for one then.  I poured myself a glass and lifted it into the air as I turned to face him.  “Here’s to being in love.”  That was everything I’d ever wanted.  And I had it.  I could tell I did by the way he stared at me as I took my first sip.  By the way his eyes lingered on my lips.  By the way he so desperately wanted me to remember him.

I had never been in love before.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel.  Or what I should suspect.  All I knew was that his gaze made me nervous.  And when he touched me I felt like I had been zapped by a bug zapper.  I took a huge gulp of my wine.  “This is great.”

“I’m pretty sure that bottle has been open for weeks.”

“I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  This is actually my first glass of wine.”  I swirled it in my glass as I looked down at the amber liquid.  “So, we opened it before my accident?  I mean…is that what it was?  An accident?  No one’s told me what happened.”

“It’s a conversation for another day.  When you’re able to remember.”

“But what if I never remember?”

He shook his head.  “You will.”  But his tone screamed, “you have to.” 

I took another sip of my wine.  “It must have been something serious.  I have scars on my stomach.  And I’m…fat.”

“Baby, you are not fat.”

The way he said “baby” made goosebumps rise on my skin.  Did he often call me that?  I liked the way it sounded.  “Baby.”  I smiled.  “No one’s ever called me that.”  I awkwardly cleared my throat.  “Besides you, I mean.  You call me that.”

“I do.”

I smiled at him.  “I like it.”  And I really did.  It made me feel special.  Safe.  Warm.  I tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear.  “So how about that tour?”  I grabbed the bottle of wine to bring with me.  I told myself that it was because I’d need to refill my glass again soon.  But maybe a small piece of me was worried that I wouldn’t keep my hands to myself.  And I needed to keep my hands to myself.  Fantasy or not, I didn’t know this man.  My reaction to him didn’t make any sense.  Technically I was kind of sort of still dating Austin.  And I wasn’t a cheater.  That was Austin’s job.  I really should break up with that prick. 

Maybe this was all a dream to motivate me to move on.  A dream to show me that there was someone out there for me that was better than Austin.  I followed James out of the kitchen and tried not to sigh at the sight of him.  Hopefully that someone that was out there for me would be as sexy as my fake husband.



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A Whirlwind of Color Chapter 7

Chapter 7


James hadn’t taken his eyes off of me since I laughed at our apparent meet cute.  A coffee shop?  Too cliché to have really happened, but a dream was supposed to be cliché, right?  But him being my professor on top of that?  Ludicrous.  Hilarious.  Absurd.  So why wasn’t he laughing? 

It wasn’t worth dwelling on.  This man sitting next to me wasn’t real.  And he certainly wasn’t a professor.  No chance.  I knew professors.  They were usually in their fifties, had comb-overs, and carried their weight all wrong.  James was the complete opposite.  He was older than me, but he was still young.  And fit.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he had abs of steel under his dress shirt.  And why wouldn’t he?  It was my dream.  I had plenty of dreams of hot men falling head over heels for me.  Didn’t everyone?

He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together like he was holding back a sigh.  I stared at the dark circles under his eyes again.  Or maybe he was holding back a grimace.  He truly did look like he was in pain.  Before I could ask, he opened his eyes again and ran his fingers through his hair.

More proof that he wasn’t a professor – he had a head full of dark hair that just begged for me to run my fingers through it.  Now I was the one pressing my lips together.  Where on earth had that thought come from?  I was being sucked into this fantasy.  It happened to me a lot.  Whenever I read, I always pretended I was the main character.  I had traveled the world through books.  Fought monsters.  Fallen in love.  I had done more make-believe than actual living.  And this felt like some weird combination of the two.  I tried to shake the thought away.  This.  Isn’t.  Real.

I’d wake up soon enough and Melissa and I could laugh about this dream together.  I could already hear her analyzing my dream in her head.  She’d probably say something like, “Clearly you need to move on from Austin and you’re dying to go to this party with me tonight!”  Or something equally unhelpful.  Just the thought made me smile.

I glanced at James again.  Even though I desperately wanted to wake up, it didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy this dream.  I had told the doctor I’d play along.  And that’s what I was going to do.

The car slowed down to a stop in front of a towering building.

“Here we are,” Ian said from the front seat.

“What’s here?” I asked.  Was he taking me to work or something?  Was it take your imaginary wife to work day?  This certainly didn’t look like a college.  I knew he wasn’t a professor!

James unbuckled his seatbelt.  “We’re home.”

“Home?”  I looked out the car window at the building.  “It looks so…un-homey.”

James laughed.  “When we first moved to New York, you said every apartment looked cold.  But trust me, you love it here.”  He reached over and unbuckled my seatbelt.

How could I possibly love living in this building?  I loved grass and trees and fresh air.  You probably couldn’t even open a window in that building.  What kind of life was that?  I looked over at him, and he was staring at me so intently.  And I found myself wanting to trust him.  What was the harm in that for now?

“Okay, husband, show me the way.”

He smiled.  “As you wish, wife.”

I laughed.  “Oh, I love that movie.”

“What movie?”

“The Princess Bride.  Westley always says, ‘As you wish,’ to Buttercup but really he means ‘I love you, I love you, I love you!’  And it took her so long to realize it.”

He just stared at me.  “I’ve never seen it.”

“What do you mean you’ve never seen it?  It’s my favorite movie.  You’re my husband, of course you’ve seen it.”

“You never told me.”

I never told him?  What kind of sham of a marriage was this?  Did we rarely ever talk?  Was it a marriage of convenience somehow?  It didn’t matter.  It wasn’t real anyway.  “Well, come on then.  Let’s go watch it right now.”  I opened up the door and stepped out onto the city street.

A wave of hot air hit me.  And the stench of trash.  I scrunched up my nose.  Welcome home to me. 

Ian was standing there like he had been about to open the door for me.  He said he was a security guard, not a driver.  Did he usually open the door? He looked upset.  Had I done something to offend him?

He gave me an odd look, his hand still awkwardly outstretched.

“Thank you so much for the ride.”  I thrust my hand into his and shook it.

“Penny, get back into the car,” he said, his voice much more serious than it had been when we first met.

“Um…isn’t this my home?  I’d like to go see it.”  This should be fun.

Ian put his hand on my shoulder and tried to push me back into the car with too much force.

“Don’t touch me,” I hissed and tried to shove his hand away.  When he tried to push me again, I yelled, “Don’t touch me!”

“Jesus.”  James climbed out of the car and grabbed my hand with a harsh tug.  “Come on.”

I pulled my hand out of his.  I wasn’t going anywhere with him.  Not when he looked like he was about to kill someone.  I was wrong before, I didn’t want to trust him.  He didn’t seem like someone I could ever rely on.  He seemed angry and irrational and unkind.

He grabbed my forearm, this time his fingers dug into my skin.  “Penny, we need to get back in the car.”

“Stop.”  I tried to pull away, but he gripped my arm even tighter.

A swarm of people surrounded us, microphones were thrust into my face, cameras flashed.

“Mrs. Hunter, are you alright?”

“Is the baby okay?”

“Penny, where is the baby?”

Baby?  What baby?  I thought about the little redheaded girl from my dream.  A figment of my imagination of myself as a child.  The one that had run toward me instead of toward my mother.  That had been a dream, right?  God, it was too hard to keep everything straight.  My head started to swirl.

“Back away before I called the cops,” Ian said, trying to keep the microphones out of my face.

I felt my body start shaking.  My heart raced.  Why did all these reporters care about me?  I tried to back away from them and ran into James’ hard chest.

“Jesus, you’re shaking.”

How did I find comfort in his voice when I barely knew him?

He wrapped his arms around me, sending warmth I didn’t know I needed through my body.

A microphone was held out a few inches from my lips.

“Penny, have you and James fully recovered?”

James’ strong arms tensed around me. 

Had he been hurt too?  What had happened to him?  He was the one thing in this crazy fantasy that was able to calm me down.  I didn’t want to lose him.  Although he did freak me out at the same time.  But facing all of this newness on my own didn’t sound very appealing.  Why wasn’t I just allowed to go home with my parents?

“I need to get out of here,” I whispered. 

The man with the microphone gave me an odd look.

“Get me out of here.  I want to go home.  Please take me home.”  I tried to swallow down the lump in my throat, but it wouldn’t go away.

“Back up!” Ian yelled, but more people were swarming us.  Flashes.  Voices.  He knocked the mic out of my face.

I closed my eyes.  I felt like I was going to faint.  “Please.”

And then I was being lifted up and over James’ shoulder.  My eyes flew open and I was staring down at his ass.  His very perfect looking ass.  But its perfection didn’t distract me from wondering what he was doing.  I hadn’t been asked to be lifted like a child.  I was about to protest, but he pushed through the front doors of the building and the blast of air-conditioning and silence of the lobby made my breath come back.  I felt myself sink into him.

“It’s okay,” he said gently.  “You’re safe.”

I had asked to go home.  But in my dream, this was my home.  Try to embrace it.

James’ breathing sounded labored.

“You can put me down,” I said.  I thought about my strange beer belly.  It was probably hard to lift me.  “I know I’m a little heavy.”

He laughed, but slowly set me down on my feet.  “You’re not heavy, Penny.”  But his face looked ghostly pale.  And his breathing still didn’t sound normal.

I stayed pressed against him, staring up into his eyes.  “You were hurt too.”

“Penny, I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine.  Whatever hurt me also got you too, didn’t it?”

He touched the side of my cheek ever so slightly.

I tried not to wince or step back.  I continued to stare at him.  What was he hiding from me?

“Truly, I’m fine.”  He ran the pad of his thumb along my cheek.  “Let’s get you home, okay?”

Whatever had happened to him, he didn’t want to talk about it with me.  I wondered if he usually would.  Maybe he didn’t recognize me as much as I didn’t recognize him.  I stepped back, not able to keep staring into his eyes so intently.  “So that’s what being badgered by paparazzi feels like?  No wonder so many celebrities punch them in the face and wind up in rehab.”

James laughed.

I smiled at him.  I liked when he laughed.  “Heck, I’d probably start drinking too if they followed me around all the time.  I’d be one of those crazy people in rehab.”  I laughed at my own joke.  “How do we usually deal with them?”

He lowered both his eyebrows and the smile on his face vanished.

What had I done wrong now?  James’ smiles seemed so rare.  I wanted them to be permanently affixed to his face.  He was too serious.  Way too serious for me.

“I’m sorry if I did something to offend you,” I said.  “I’m new to all this.  I mean…” I awkwardly cleared my throat.  Just keep pretending.  “Let’s just go home, okay?”  I instinctively walked back toward the exit.

“Our place is upstairs,” James said.

I turned around.  Of course.  “Right.  We’re on floor…”

“Let me just show you,” he said and lightly touched my lower back to guide me toward the elevators.

It seemed like he wanted some kind of expression from me as we walked through the luxurious lobby of the apartment building.  But it all made sense to me.  In my fantasy, this is what I had.  And I was having an easy time pretending it was real now.  How wonderful would it be if it was reality?  I mean, it was enough to make anyone swoon.  But I knew it wasn’t real.

We were rich in my make-believe world.  Even the elevators were decadent.  The music that was playing through the speakers was straight from a 1950’s movie.  It was all elaborately overdone.  I had an overactive imagination.

And to think in my dream world I’d had a scandalous affair with my super hot professor.  Who just so happened to be rich?  Yeah, right.  Never could have happened.  First of all, I never would have dated my professor.  Second of all, professors weren’t rich.  Tenure didn’t make you wealthy and he was too young for it anyway.  I laughed out loud.

“Something amusing?” James asked as the elevators dinged open on our floor.

“Nope.  This all seems...normal enough for a fantasy.  But seriously, James, how did we meet?  We both know you couldn’t afford any of this as a professor.”

“I was serious when I said I sold my first company for a large sum.”

“How large?”

He didn’t respond.  He just guided me down the hall to a door.  Our door.  He unlocked it and turned the knob.  I didn’t even care that he hadn’t answered my question.  Because I wouldn’t have been able to listen anyway.  It felt like all the air had been knocked out of my lungs.  I took a step into the immaculate foyer.  This was an apartment, right?

I looked through the kitchen to the right at the ornate, winding staircase.  Did apartments have two floors?  I had never seen anything like it in movies.

I turned my attention back to the foyer and saw that there was natural light streaming in.  I walked through the foyer into a huge living room that was open to a dining area as well.  But my eyes weren’t on the room itself or the furniture.  I walked toward the far wall.  Although, it wasn’t really a wall at all.  The whole side of the apartment was glass.

I could see Central Park from the window.  Cars still swerved and honked below, but it was easy to focus on all the greenery.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.

“Do you like the view?” James asked.

I jumped at the sound of his voice.  I had almost forgotten he was there.  I laughed and folded my arms across my chest so I wouldn’t be tempted to put my hands on the glass.  “The city’s actually kind of pretty from up here.”  I nodded toward the window.

“Being close to Central Park was one of the reasons why you agreed to move here.”

“Yeah?”  That made sense.

“And you can even see where we got married from here.”  He pointed to a large tree in the distance.  It looked like a restaurant was beside it.  There were tables beneath the tree and happy couples dining.

“It’s pretty.”  I didn’t know what else to say.  I couldn’t remember our wedding.  Had it really happened?  Was I even standing here right now?  I glanced over at James.

He was staring at me in that way again.  Like he could read my soul.  Like he knew every secret I possessed.  Like he knew me better than I knew myself.


Come back next Tuesday to see Chapter 8!

***Ch. 8 now available HERE***

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