Saturday, December 29, 2012


It's fantastic to have you on my blog, Cate. You have so many stories published, I don't know how you write them so fast. Lend me some of your talent.

Which one do you want to tell us about today?


What happens in Key West…


Ever wonder who thought up the slogan, What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas? I think it originated long ago, in mid-1800s Key West. But the tiny island didn’t need marketing geniuses to bring visitors. Ships wrecking along the reef brought enough. Some people came to Key West by choice. Like Sam Langhorne, the protagonist in my historical romance, Angels, Sinners and Madmen. He longed for the carefree and reckless lifestyle of the wreckers.


What? You’ve never heard of a wrecker? Neither had I, until our family vacationed at Key West in 2003. While visiting a maritime museum, I not only learned the history of the wreckers but became so fascinated with them, I spent the next few days in the Key West library, visiting another wrecker museum and buying up as many local books as I could. I didn’t even mind that my family was out parasailing and snorkeling without me. Finding those articles, letters and wrecker documents, I felt like a pirate unearthing buried treasure! Arrrrr!! (Cough). Sorry, I get carried away sometimes.

But though they were often portrayed as looters, wreckers were far from pirates. Here are ten little-known facts about wreckers:


1.            Wreckers plied their trade not only in Key West, but in the Bahamas, and as far away as the United Kingdom.

2.            Because so little diving equipment had been invented, wreckers salvaged ships’ cargoes from the bottom of the sea the hard way – holding their breath for several looong minutes.

3.            Though some claim wreckers set traps for wayward ships, no evidence backs this up.

4.            In the mid 1800s, nearly one ship a week wrecked off the coast of Florida.

5.            Wreckers known as Conchs came from the Bahamas, but were of English descent.

6.            Some wreckers lived to ripe old ages, but many perished from drowning, shark attacks, boating accidents or, in the earliest days, at the hands of pirates or Seminole Indian massacres.

7.            Because Key West men outnumbered women by ten to one, many wreckers married the women they saved from watery graves. One ship became known as the Ship of Brides, its German passengers marrying wreckers, including a widow and her daughters.

8.            Average shares earned by individual wreckers amounted to hundreds of dollars per shipwreck. Imagine how much money that translates to in current dollars!

9.            Wreckers followed 13 rules of their trade, but the unwritten rule was to rescue a ship’s passengers first, then its cargo.

10.         The Florida wrecking industry continued until the early 1900s.
Learn more about Angels, Sinners and Madmen on my blog:

Cate Masters loves romance with a dash of magic and mayhem! Multipublished in contemporary to historical, sweet to erotic, fantasy/dark fantasy to speculative, she sometimes mashes genres. Reviewers have described her stories as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” and “such romantic tales that really touch your soul.”

When not spending time with her family, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company.


Catch up to Cate at:



Cate loves to hear from readers! Friend her on Facebook or Goodreads, or email her at: cate.masters AT
Readers, what was your most exotic or memorable vacation?






Wednesday, December 26, 2012


 Hi Serena, I'm thrilled to have you on my blog today. Please, make yourself at home and tell us about your books and this time of year.

This time of year, I am filled with feelings of joy, love, and melancholy. I know, they are contrary to each other, but have you ever had that feeling of ‘what if’? I certainly have. Many years ago, I experienced a Christmas not to be forgotten.
 I walked along the snow-covered path hand-in-hand with my fiancĂ©. We were in love. As we strode along, my eyes kept sliding to him. Dressing in his marine dress clothes, he cut a dashing figure and my young heart beat faster just being near.
I shivered. The coat that I wore was warm, but my velvet green dress did little to keep the chill of the night from my legs. I hardly noticed though, it was past dusk and the streetlamps had been turned on casting a warm golden glow on the snow. The nearby lake glistened with moonlight, and no sound other than the lapping of the water intruded on the moment.
Bill and I walked to the end of the pier, and he held me in his arms as we both faced the beautiful scene before us. He leaned down and brushed my neck with his lips, “This is perfect.”
“Yes.” I whispered.
“I don’t want this moment to end.”
“Me either.” My pulse sped up, and I felt his heat sink into me as he held me close.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Bill turned me in his arms, and lowered his lips to mine as snow started to fall about us.
I will never forget that Christmas. Much time has past, but each time I remember, feelings of love well up within me. When I write, moments like these are ones I draw on. Moments I know I will never forget. My first kiss, passionate all-encompassing love, desire, moments in time that will never be forgotten.  
I like to take these moments and turn my ‘what if’s’ into tales that lead to happy endings. It’s both healing and fun. What could have happened if that young girl, so in love married her handsome solider? I may never know.
In my newest release, Insidious Whispers, Beth Stark doesn’t let ‘what if’ get in her way. Do you have a ‘what if’? Maybe this year’s resolution will be to find out what might happen. Check out Beth as she struggles with her choices in the Hunter Diaries newest adventure.
Abducted from her quiet life as a New Age store owner, Beth Stark is thrown into a dangerous world of intrigue and magic. Beth’s legacy as Guardian of the Black Tome is to protect the book from those who would seek to use it for dark purposes.

Phoenix, enforcer of the Vampire world, is sent to destroy the Black Tome before Genevieve,  Queen of the Fae, can use it to annihilate the vampire race. Phoenix comes face to face with the tome’s Guardian, but he doesn’t expect the feisty little spitfire to make his blood boil, and his passions rise.

A Hunter Diaries book

Fast-paced and steamy, the Hunter Diaries are based around the adventures of the Wills family, vampire hunters, and their friends.
You can find the other books in the series for sale on Amazon or available for Nook via

About Serena Zane  
Serena Zane is an eclectic author of paranormal romance, sweet romance, and action-adventure romance. She lives with her husband and her son in the Northwest. Balancing her time between writing, time with her family, and crossing swords on the battlefield Serena is never bored.
Please leave a comment below so Serena knows you stopped by.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Hello Lynn, it's great to have you back on my blog. I understand you have a new book to tell us about today. Since you live in Vienna, Austria, perhaps you would tell us a little about Christmas in your part of the world.

Hi everyone!

With the holidays upon us, I thought it would be fun just to talk about Christmas in my part of the world. I used to live in the hot southwest desert but now I live in Vienna, Austria and these people really love the holidays.

My Christmas book, that should be out by the time of this posting, goes into great detail about the Viennese Christmas. There are things called Christkindlemarkts and Adventmarkts where all manner of holiday goods are sold. There are also food booths and the all important hot drink booths. These have all manner of libations, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. People meet each other here for a cup of holiday cheer many times during the season.

I’ve been told by my friends in the States that these markets are considered some of the best in the world. They certainly are beautiful. The cover of my book, A Viennese Christmas, has the Rathaus in the background that I see every time I go there. There are many booths, as well as decorations galore. The tree is beautiful and the building is a sight to behold.

Still, all and all, the holidays mean family to me and again, this year the family is small. We have our youngest coming over but it’s nothing like having the rest of the clan surrounding you. Hopefully, next year, we will.

To get over being lonely and to see the beauty of the city I now called home, I started a series of books called A Taste of Vienna. I hoped that they would get me over my homesickness as well as learn more about the city of Vienna itself. And so far, it has. The heroine in my first book in the series, A Viennese Christmas, is all alone on this most special holiday. Much to her surprise, she meets another American and the sparks fly. Here’s a sneak peek into A Viennese Christmas, the first book in my new series, A Taste of Vienna. Please remember this is the unedited version...enjoy!


Excerpt ~ A Viennese Christmas

            Her disappointment must have been plain on her face as she found herself suddenly gazing into the greenest eyes in a very handsome male face. A question in German followed as she tried to ascertain just what he said.

            “I’m sorry,” she stated, her confusion obvious. “I’ve only picked up a word or two since I’ve been here. Do you speak English?”

            “You’re American?” he questioned without the accent most Austrians possessed.

            “Don’t make it sound like such a curse. There are a lot of us, you know.” Her indignation evident in her tone.

            His rich laughter filled the space, warming her to her bones in ways she hadn’t expected. “Sorry. I guess one does pick up the attitudes of where they live.”

            She looked at him puzzled. “That’s that supposed to mean?”

            “Henry Jager, American, at your service ma’am.” His sweeping bow brought a smile to her lips.

            “Amanda Kranz and I hardly think I qualify as a ma’am.” She stuck her hand toward him. His firm grasp sent an electric sensation as she felt the spark deep within her. She swore he felt it too as his eyes darkened.

            “Do you prefer Amanda or Mandi? I know there’s not much of a choice with Henry.” His serious gaze spot of his interest.

            Laughter bubbled up in her, the first such emotion in weeks. “Henry is a fine, strong name. And it doesn’t matter much with mine.” His hot look made her want to shiver in anticipation of what she could only speculate.

            “Really? I would have thought your business associates would call you Amanda. Now your intimate contacts I expect call you Mandi.”

            She gazed at him. Intimate contacts, now there was a misnomer. It had been years since she’d had any intimate contacts of the male persuasion. “Sounds good to me.”

            “You gave in too easy.” He reluctantly let go of her hand as his look took on a more serious aspect. “Are you meeting someone?”

            She shook her head. “No one to meet.”

            “Good.” He grabbed her hand again, placing it in the crook of his arm. “Have you ever been to one of these before?” Henry expertly meandered around people, baby carriages and more as he led her to the next booth.

            “Not really. I saw them last year but being so new to the city, I couldn’t bring myself to go to one alone.” She gazed at the Rathaus beyond them, remembering how intimidated she’d been by building even though it had a Christmas tree in front.

            His eyes narrowed. “Sounds like you’re still a relative newcomer.”

            “I suppose so. I got here in November of last year.”

            “Ah – your impression?” His brows lifted when he drew back as if to study her face.

            “Very commercialized. I expected something more – ” she struggled to find the right word. “– more homey, more authentic – more Austrian.”

            Henry gazed around a moment before looking back at her. “I see your point. This is probably the one Christkindlemarkt that’s got the least to offer in specialized, authentic goods in my opinion except it does have a certain ambiance. And of course, there’s the skating rink as well as the park decorations.”

            Her brow arched in amazement. She really hadn’t expected anyone to agree with her. All the women she knew gushed over every one of them. “You agree with me?”

            His naughty smile was breathtaking. “Most definitely. This is the one where most of the tourists come. While there are some very Austrian things here hidden amongst the drivel, most are not unique or special in any way.”

            “My thoughts exactly. Where exactly does one find more traditional items?” Astonishment spread through her. She had not once heard anyone say a negative comment about Vienna. All her colleagues gushed over the city but as far as she was concerned, it was just another place to live.

            They stopped in front of a food booth, the aroma tantalizing. “Would you like something hot to drink?”

            The brisk breeze nipped at her cheeks and she felt the cold through her coat. She definitely could use something to warm her up. “Sure.”

Hope you liked this little foray into a Viennese Christmas.


Thanks go to Lorrie for having me again! I so enjoy it!


Lynn Crain
This is so new, the
buy site will be posted as soon as I get the information.

Ah, ha! We have a buy link


Thursday, December 20, 2012


Hello, Katie. It's so nice to have you on my blog today.

I see you have a short story for us today, one that leads into your YA book ELIXIR BOUND. Always nice to get a little pre-story.
Tell us!

An Elixir Original Short by Katie L. Carroll

This short story takes place before the events of my YA novel Elixir Bound. Siblings Katora, Kylene, and Bhar Kase are performing their annual celebration of the Winter Solstice.


  “Do you have the acorns and your offering for the sacrifice?” Bhar asked with an impish grin and a glint in his blue eyes.
Katora raised her right eyebrow. “All but one, and Kylene should be getting it right now.” She thumped her younger brother on the shoulder with her fist. “You know the Great Mother doesn’t approve of sacrifices.”
Bhar laughed as he ran deeper into the trees of Faway Forest. Katora shook her head in annoyance and wondered if Bhar would ever be serious about anything. She shifted her backpack and followed his indelicate footsteps.
She stopped in a small clearing. Bhar stood in the center, a series of stacked rocks interspersed at regular intervals around him. She dropped her pack outside the rocks and sat inside the circle, legs crossed.
Katora had been coming to this place on the Winter Solstice for as long as she could remember. Her two older sisters used to participate in the ceremony, but they had recently moved out of the family home. They now held their own traditions. This was the first year they wouldn’t be there, and Katora wasn’t sure she wanted to be there either.
Still, Katora would honor the Great Mother with Bhar and her younger sister, Kylene. As Katora thought of her, Kylene loped into the clearing, cheeks rosy and long blond hair wild. Quick puffs of breath escaped Kylene’s mouth in the crisp air.
“I’ve got it.” From her pocket, Kylene pulled a small nut ending in woody cap. “Freshly fallen from an oak tree.”
Katora help up her hand, and Kylene tossed the acorn. Katora caught it easily and set it on the ground next to three others, each one collected during a different season. A hearty vine with withered essenberries also lay on the cold dirt. As Kylene sat, her gray cloak, the same color as the cloud covered sky, fanned out behind her and touched Katora’s cloak at the corner.
“Let’s begin.” Katora rubbed her chapped hands, souvenirs from years of farming, together. “Bhar, you did bring the trowel, didn’t you?”
Bhar produced the tool from his pants pocket. “Of course. Do you even have to ask?”
Katora grinned and glanced at Kylene, who failed to hide her smile. They both knew Bhar needed to be asked. He took his place next to his sisters. Behind him, his cloak touched each of theirs and completed the circle.
“Please present your items,” Katora said, tapping her offering of the vine.
A playing card appeared in Bhar’s hand, seemingly from nowhere. With a flick of the wrist, he tossed it among the acorns and vine. Kylene kissed a small book and gently placed it on the ground. The three siblings grasped hands and closed their eyes.
Katora chanted, “Mother Nature, we gather and return the fruit of the seasons. Take these and our personal offerings from our hearts to yours. As the cold of winter takes hold, offer in return safe passage to spring.”
A moment of silence passed before Bhar began to dig a small hole. Except for the scrape of the trowel in dirt, he worked in complete silence, the forest quiet as it fell into the sleep of winter. Katora and Kylene deposited the offerings into the hole. All three scooped the soil back over the hole and patted it down.
They grasped hands again, fingernails caked with dirt, and hummed. Their melody pierced the silent forest and rose to the top of the trees and beyond. A gust of wind swirled through the clearing, lifting their cloaks in the air behind them.
Katora’s eyes widened as Kylene’s hand gripped hers tight. Bhar turned his face to the sky. Katora felt her hair fly about her face as she watched Kylene’s locks do the same. Still, they kept humming. When their tune finally ended, the wind abruptly stopped.
A long sigh escaped Katora’s mouth, deflating the pressure in her chest. Nothing like that had ever happened during the ceremony.
“What was that?” Kylene asked in a whisper.
“A coincidence,” Bhar said with no trace of his playful smile.
Katora pounded her fist on the ground. “That was no coincidence. I’ve always been a bit skeptical that the Great Mother paid any attention to our little ceremony. But now…I believe she does.”
“Yes.” Kylene nodded her head repeatedly. “I always believed she did, but this is a nice confirmation of our faith.”
Bhar blew into his hands. “I’m cold. Let’s go home and heat up some milk and chocolate.”
Kylene’s brow wrinkled as she said with hesitation, “It is cold. And we must be home before dark.”
“I’ll catch up with you two.” Katora gathered up her pack as Bhar and Kylene left the clearing.
She heard Kylene tease Bhar about his offering. “What is Mother Nature going to do with a playing card?”
“More than she’s going to do with a book,” Bhar said. “Definitely more than she’ll do with an essenberry vine. Katora’s offering was definitely the worst.” 

Kylene laughed at Bhar’s joke, and Katora was compelled to defend her choice. Every essenberry vine on Kase Farm was a gift from Mother Nature. The vines provided a means of wealth, and therefore survival, for the family. She didn’t bother arguing because her siblings’ voices had already faded away.

Just as she stepped back into the trees, Katora spotted a small bluebird perched high up on a leafless branch. Its beady eyes stared down at her. The bird opened its beak wide and let out one sharp chirp.

“You coming?” Bhar’s shout echoed through the forest.

She glanced back up at the oak tree, but the bird had vanished. As she jogged to catch up, Katora felt Mother Nature’s presence. It wasn’t only in the physical bounty of the forest, but also deep inside Katora’s own heart. She breathed deep and the winter air felt fresh instead of cold.
Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy

Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone. It is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings that will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.
If you’re interested in reading more adventures of the Kases, Elixir Bound is on special today only, December 20th  for $1.99 at the MuseItUp Bookstore and Amazon.
Katie L. Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. Her YA fantasy Elixir Bound is available from the MuseItUp bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook retailers. Her picture book app The Bedtime Knight was published by MeeGenius. To learn more about Katie and her books visit her website at
Leave a comment for our star today. We'd both like to hear from you.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Welcome Heather, it's so good to have you back on my blog.

We had a lot of fun the last time, let's see if we could do it again.

What do you want to tell the readers today? Take it away, girl.


 Happy Holidays from a By-Gone Era


Heather Haven


Imagine it is the year 1942, not 2012. Boogie woogie and the great bands play incessantly on your tabletop radio. Oleo has just come into popularity, as has condensed milk, better known as armored cow. Wherever you live in this country – rural or urban - you have just survived the Great Depression. The USA has officially entered World War II and it is looming overseas. Maybe a father, husband, son, nephew, or cousin is ‘over there’ fighting on foreign soil. Maybe a daring female member of your family, as well. When a country is at war, women are far more involved than a society wants to admit, especially way back then. But there they were - nurses, couriers, admins, maintenance workers, ambulance and staff drivers, not to mention the occasional gunner, pilot, and spy.

You couldn’t and can’t keep women out of stuff like this. I suspect there was a woman or two who climbed out from inside the Trojan horse - in disguise, of course. History shows us many women who wanted to do more in this world disguised themselves as men in order to accomplish just that. The phrase ‘A Man’s World’ did not daunt or limit them.

Enter Persephone ‘Percy’ Cole, brazen enough in her own way. She was one of the first female shamuses in New York City, driven by her brain, a take-no-prisoners attitude, and a need to support her young son and family. She was intelligent, tenacious, and funny. She was a woman trying to take her place in a man’s world.

Christmas of 1942 finds her taking over the detective business her uncle and father started, her uncle having passed on and her father unable to work due to an injury from a previous case. Though she is the only hope of keeping the small family together and maybe putting a present or two under the tree, her father is filled with misgivings. A female detective! Bah humbug!!

But it doesn’t take him long – or the rest of the family – to see the wisdom of this choice in careers. For if Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe had been a woman, they would have probably been a lot like this 5’11”, full-figured gal, Persephone ‘Percy’ Cole. She’s one smart, wise-cracking cookie and can wear a fedora like nobodies business. 

What say we get down to the basics. A little tease into your book would be nice.

Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum

In late December, 1942, Persephone (Percy) Cole, one of Manhattan's first female PIs, has been hired to find out who killed a Santa Land elf and left the body in the storefront window of a swank 5th Avenue jewelry store. Was it the spoiled heiress whose big buck handbag was found on the scene? Or was it the rat who broke out of the big house to settle a score? Shortly after, the corpse of the Christmas Angel is discovered stuffed in Mrs. Santa's workshop. Will Santa Claus be next? With a penchant for Marlene Dietrich suits, pistachio nuts and fedora hats, this working mother finds diamonds to the left of her, diamonds to the right, and skullduggery aplenty. Armed with her noodle and a WW I German Mauser, Percy is determined to solve these crimes or it just might be the 'kiss off' for Christmas.

Buy page for Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum:

Here is Heather's first chapter. Read and enjoy.
Persephone Cole
And the Christmas Killings Conundrum
Heather Haven
Chapter One
“Are you that fat lady detective?” The male voice spoke in a hurried manner on the other end of the line.
I don’t know about being a lady, Percy thought, being born and raised on the lower east side, but I am substantial and a PI. So two out of three ain’t bad.
“Yeah, that’s me, Persephone Cole. Although, I would have preferred to be called full-figured, plump, stout, portly, hefty, zaftig, rotund, corpulent, chubby, or how about roly-poly? Something with a little thought in it. But who’s this and what do you want?” She pulled a small bag of pistachio nuts out of the pocket of her slacks with her free hand, tossed the bag on the telephone table, and routed around for a nut, while she listened.
“My name’s Waller, William Waller--”
“Like Fats Waller?” she interrupted, grabbing a salty nut out of the bag. Okay, you unimaginative creep. We can all make fat cracks. The other end of the line went stone, cold silent.
Percy popped the nut in her mouth and using years of practice, separated the two shells with her front teeth, and sucked out the meat. She picked the two shells out of her mouth and chewed, as she dropped the shells into one of the ubiquitous ashtrays scattered around the apartment for this sole purpose.
A sudden loud voice coming from the kitchen radio crackled an announcement of the need to buy war bonds. The United States had been in the war for over a year now and most everyone was tapped out, but the voice droned on, just in case.
“Hold it a minute, Waller,” Percy commanded. She cradled the phone against what has been referred to from time to time as her ample bosom, and shouted down the hall of the railroad flat to the kitchen.
“Hey, shut that door, will you, Pop? I got a potential client here.” The swinging door swooshed closed between the hallway and the kitchen. Uncle Sam had been muted, at least for the moment.
Percy put the phone back to her ear to the sound of heavy breathing. If she hadn’t known better, she would have thought it was an obscene phone call.
 “I’m back. What can I do for you, Mr. Waller?” She tried to keep her voice pleasant and professional, but it may have been a little too late for that. She reached for another nut.
“There’s a dead elf in my storefront window.”
“Excuse me?” Her hand froze midway to her mouth.
“One of those Santa elves from down the street. You know, Santa Land. I want to know what he’s doing in my display window.”
“Off the top of my head, I’d say not much, him being dead and all.” This remark also met stony silence. “Never mind. Have you called the police?” She threw the nut back into the bag.
 “Yes, they’re here now. I never saw him before.” His tone at first sounded puzzled then it changed. ‘You’re a real smarty pants, aren’t you?”
“That’s what they tell me.” Never give a jerk an even break, that’s my motto. “So why are you calling me if the cops are taking care of it? How’d you get my number?”
He lowered his voice. “I want to hire you, but I need to talk to you about this in person, not over the phone.”
“I don’t come cheap, Mr. Waller.” Actually, I do come cheap, but I’m about to hike up the price for you, buster. Fat, huh? We’ll see about that. “I’m twenty a day plus expenses, with a three-day guarantee.”
Percy paused, having trouble believing what she was asking, herself, and added, “It being the holiday season and all, I’ll make it a two-day guarantee. But it’s still twenty bucks a day.”
“Very well, Mrs. Cole, whatever you say. Just get here.” The words came out rapidly, and in what Miss Schultz, her English teacher, might have called a ‘terse manner’.
“It’s Miss Cole and where’s here?”
“Fifty-ninth and Fifth Avenue, right off Central Park. Waller and Sons Jewelry.”
 “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
He paused, mumbled “Thank you,” and disconnected.
She cradled the receiver on her shoulder. The last-minute attempt at manners on his part surprised her, even though the address he gave was in a pretty hoity-toity part of Manhattan.
I should have stuck to the three-day minimum.
She hung up the phone with gusto and the rickety telephone table her mother insisted on calling ‘dainty’ wobbled and nearly fell over. Since she could remember, this genuine knock-off of an exact replica of a Louis the Sixteenth, had been hanging out in the hallway of their lower eastside apartment threatening to collapse. Her mother inherited it from her favorite aunt and despite both women’s tender ministrations and conviction of its value; Percy suspected its demise was eminent while its net worth was about thirty-nine cents.
She snatched up the bag of nuts, crammed them in her pocket, turned around in the narrow vestibule and took a quick gander at her reflection in the matching knock-off mirror. The bulge of the nuts only added to the bulges everywhere else. She loved Marlene Dietrich-style pant suits but they only came so big. When last weighed, Percy came in at 172 pounds. At five foot eleven inches, she often piled her hair on top of her head, gaining another three inches of height. This made her taller than any woman she’d met and most of the men serving overseas in Hitler’s war games. At thirty-five years of age, Percy preferred to think of herself as impressive, even in her Marlene Dietrich-style pant suit, which had been let down as well as being let out.
 A quick scrutiny of her face made her wince. Without makeup, blondish-orange eyebrows and eyelashes looked almost nonexistent. In fact, her unhealthy pasty look was of someone living in a cave, year after year, never seeing the light of day. It was the usual redhead’s plight.
One of the best inventions, in Percy’s opinion, was cake mascara. She still had hers from high school, circa nineteen twenty-four, a testament to its longevity and her rare usage. Percy toyed with going into the bathroom, lathering it up, and applying some.
 Naw, this is good enough for jazz.
She shook her head and long curls trapped in the rubber band at the crown of her head flopped everywhere. Red and amber-streaked ringlets shimmered in the light coming in from the lone window of the vestibule. Even she knew her thick red hair was one of her best features.
But only when it’s under control, kiddo, and that’s not today; too much moisture in the air. Maybe I can add Pop’s fedora to my mop before I leave, so I don’t have to think about it.
She headed to the kitchen which bustled with the usual early morning activity. The radio blared in the background, her father sat in his wheelchair with his bad leg resting straight out in its cast and him yelling at her younger sister.
“Serendipity, do you have to do that here?” Pop leaned in as far forward in the wheelchair as his belly and leg would permit. “And while we’re eating breakfast? That smell is enough to drop flies. Now put that away. And pay attention to me when I’m talking to you.”
Better known as Sera, Percy’s kid sister ignored their father and continued to apply red lacquer to short, squat nails. Percy had the same short squat nails and wouldn’t dream of bringing attention to them, but that was Sera.
Ignoring the uproar, Mother stood at the stove humming a tuneless but annoying little ditty. Percy’s eight-year old son, Oliver, sat at the end of the table, hunched over his oatmeal, short, blue-black hair plastered down from the morning bath. He, too, was paying no attention to the battle of wills going on at the table, lost in the further adventures of the Green Lantern. While he read his comic book, he hummed a similar ditty to that of his grandmother.
Percy tried not to think about her son having inherited her mother’s daffiness. Some things are better left alone. She reached up instead, and turned off the radio blasting the Andrew Sister’s version of Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anybody Else But Me. For an instant, silence reigned. Then everyone started to talk again.
“Sorry, Pop.” Sera’s voice was, however, devoid of any contrition. She tossed dyed blond curls. “But I have to get to the factory by eight and I won’t have any time to polish my nails after work. I’ve got a big date tonight.”
“How lovely.” Mother spoke in a dreamy tone, the only one she used when awake. “So many young men you see, Serendipity, and nearly every evening. Have I met this new boy, what’s his name?”
Sera didn’t answer.
“She probably can’t remember his name, grandma,” Oliver said in a guileless tone, without looking up from his comic book.
“Out of the mouths of babes,” muttered Percy.
Mother turned from the stove and dumped a large dollop of hot oatmeal into an empty bowl before an empty chair. Percy sat down and picked up a spoon.
“I’m in a hurry, Mother, so nothing else for me.” Percy poured diluted, condensed milk over the warm cereal. She hated oatmeal and loathed canned milk, but neither eggs nor bacon had seen the inside of their kitchen in months. “Pop, I just got a job.” She shoveled in a large spoonful of the cereal, trying not to taste it.
Everyone except Oliver turned and stared her. Money being tight and Pop unable to work with his broken leg, it left Percy to be the major bread winner of the family. They were having what President Roosevelt referred to as ‘lean times.’
Pop was the first to speak. “What kind of a job? Is that what the phone call was about? You know, we don’t take just any job.” He raised his hand, pointing his index finger at the ceiling before making his further statement. “Cole Investigations has standards.”
“Pop, it’s a jeweler on Fifth Avenue. This Waller guy seems like a real jerk, but who am I to say no? Something about a dead elf left in his store window, and the cops are already there. It sounds in and out, but I did manage to get a two-day guarantee.” She looked around at the rapt attention her remarks had drawn. “And, I’m making twenty bucks a day plus expenses.”
“Twenty bucks?” Oliver looked up from his comic book, astonishment written all over his sweet, freckled face. “A day?”
“Oh, my,” remarked her mother, doing her usual Zazu Pitts impression. “So much money! And for one day! Why, our rent is only nine dollars and we live here thirty days out of the month, sometimes thirty-one. Isn’t that right, Father?” Mother stopped stirring the pot of oatmeal, turned, and glanced at her husband for support.
Used to his wife’s zaniness, Pop looked at her and smiled. “It is, indeed, Mother.”
“And in February, it’s twenty-eight,” murmured Sera, blowing on her nails.
Their parents had called each other ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ since Percy could remember. Probably because Pop was named after Habakkuk, a biblical prophet. Mother’s real name was Lamentation. With her willowy shape and long, white blonde hair, Mother looked more like a Dandelion, threatening to blow away at any moment.
Percy’s family had a history of unusual, if not downright peculiar, first names on both sides. Her older brother’s name was Adjudication, and no doubt the main reason he’d become a lawyer. So, stuck with Adjudication, Serendipity, and Persephone, the Cole off-spring was glad for the usage of nicknames, such as Jude, Sera, and Percy.
“I don’t want you to put yourself in jeopardy on this job, not even for a king’s ransom, Persephone.” Pop turned back to his eldest daughter. “If I could go with you --”
“Don’t worry, Pop,” she interrupted. “Like I said, this should be in and out and the fastest twenty bucks - no, make that forty bucks – Cole Investigations ever made.” She gulped down the last of her breakfast, got up, and took the car keys off the hook by the back door.
“Think Ophelia has enough gas in her to get me midtown, Pop?” The 1929 Dodge was the family car, old, black, and ugly, but its engine came to life each time you pressed down on the starter. The gas gauge was one of the many things that no longer worked, and between rationing and only being able to afford to put in one or two gallons at a time, father and daughter ran out of gas more times than they cared to think about.
“Put in five gallons, Persephone, right before my leg turned bad.”
“That was two months ago.” She gave it some thought. “Man, has it been that long?”
Pop smiled. “Nobody else driving it now except you.”
“I would if Pop would let me,” Sera interjected, with a pout.
“You got all those boyfriends to tote you around, Serendipity. You don’t need a car.” Pop’s voice was kind but firm.
“Well, the last time I got home on fumes.” Percy gave out a laugh and shook her head. “I’d better take the subway. It’s faster, anyway.” One thing about living on the lower eastside, a couple of blocks walk to the BMT and it got you nearly everywhere in Manhattan.
“Get off at fifty-seventh and Fifth.” Pop talked as if she hadn’t ridden the train a thousand times. “And good luck with the job.”
“I’m taking your fedora, Pop. My hair’s a wreck. Hope you don’t mind.” She snatched the hat off the rack near the back door then ran to the end of the table, reached over and tousled her son’s short, damp hair. “You be a good boy and do everything Grandma says, Oliver. Don’t forget your raincoat. And come straight home from school. Okay?”
He dropped his comic book and grinned up at her, the child who gave her life meaning. “Okay, Mommy.” He screwed his face up, closed his eyes, and she placed a noisy, wet kiss on his forehead.
“You’re just so yummy, I could eat you up just like a pistachio nut.” Percy grabbed him in a bear hug and pretended to smother him. He giggled and so did everyone at the table. She left to the sounds of laughter.
Thank you for sharing your chapter with us, Heather. It's a great read.
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