Monday, September 15, 2014

Virtual Book Tour - Ultimate Fear by Kristine Mason


Kristine will be awarding a $5 Amazon GC to 5 randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour.




BLURB

When a deranged mother's grief drives her to replace her dead son over and over, obsession leads to murder...

Chicago detective Jessica Donavan will never stop looking for her missing daughter. Her obsession has destroyed her marriage, but the search is the only thing that helps keep her sane and her mind off of everything she’s lost—her husband and her baby girl. When she uncovers a string of unsolved disappearances and reappearances of a number of baby boys, Jessica turns to her soon to be ex, Dante Russo, a former Navy SEAL turned investigator for the private agency, CORE, to help her fit together the pieces in this perplexing puzzle. But as Dante helps her, she realizes just how much she still craves his support—and his touch.

Dante is still in love with his wife and would do anything to have her back in his life again. He’s been miserable since she left him to deal with the grief over their daughter’s abduction, never understanding how much he grieves as well. When Jessica tells him about the case she’s working, he jumps at the chance to take part in her investigation. He's hoping not only to save their marriage and ease his personal pain over the loss of their daughter, but to stop a serial kidnapper from taking another victim.

As Jessica and Dante work side by side, pregnant women begin to turn up missing or dead, and they start to uncover the consequences of another woman's unfathomable grief. The childless mother doesn’t just want a baby. She wants a newborn straight from the womb.

And when forced to confront the dark and twisted perversion of a mother's obsession, can Jessica and Dante find their lives again…or merely more death?

EXCERPT:

(Hero’s POV)

As Dante entered the six-story brick apartment building, he thought back to the day he’d first met Jessica. He’d been twenty-three, in his fourth year with the Navy and on a two-week leave. His dad had owned a used car dealership just outside of Chicago, and he’d gone there that day to hang out and check out the new inventory. Jessica had stopped by looking for something inexpensive and reliable. Before his dad or any of the other salesmen could pounce on her, he had. Growing up around the dealership he knew cars, so pretending to be a salesman hadn’t been difficult. The thing was, he couldn’t have cared less if she’d bought a car from his dad, he’d been more interested in acquiring her phone number. Man, she’d been something else. Those eyes of hers had had him tongue-tied. They’d reminded him of an Olive Matuka fishing fly, dark brown with flecks of olive green. Her long and wavy dark blond hair had emphasized her eyes and that smile…

He reached her apartment door. Damn, he missed that smile. He missed everything about her. The press of her naked body against his. Kissing her, holding her, loving her. He shoved the memories he’d been clinging to aside. Their marriage shouldn’t have to end. They were stronger than that, and after knowing and loving her for nearly seventeen years, he couldn’t picture not having her in his life. But he had no choice. Self-preservation demanded that he give up the fight and let her go before they ended up hating each other.

With that last thought in mind, he knocked on her door. After giving her a few minutes to answer, he called her cell. Before he broke into her apartment, he wanted to make sure she was indeed MIA. Otherwise she’d probably raise holy hell for invading her space uninvited. Since she’d never asked him inside before, he suspected there were things she didn’t want him to know about. Like how much her search for their daughter had escalated into a full-blown obsession.

When she didn’t answer his call, he opened up his lock pick kit and went to work. Twenty years ago, he’d never thought he’d be adept at picking a lock. Who knew it would take working as a criminal investigator to master breaking and entering.

The lock gave. He pocketed his tools, then turned the knob. His stomach tightened again. If Jessica was keeping secrets, now was his chance to discover them.

He inched his way into the small apartment, then froze. “Is that thing loaded?” he asked Jessica and eyed the .38 Special she pointed at his head.


* * * *

AUTHOR BIO:

Kristine Mason, Author
I didn’t pick up my first romance novel until I was in my late twenties. Immediately hooked, I read a bazillion books before deciding to write one of my own. After the birth of my first son I needed something to keep my mind from turning to mush, and Sesame Street wasn’t cutting it. While that first book will never see the light of day, something good came from writing it. I realized my passion and found a career I love.

When I’m not writing contemporary romances and dark, romantic suspense novels (or reading them!) I’m chasing after my four kids and two neurotic dogs.

JOIN THE AUTHOR’S NEWSLETTER AND HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WIN A $50 AMAZON GIFT CARD AT www.kristinemason.net

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Monday, September 08, 2014

So Your Best Friend Is Dating Your Single Parent by Vivienne Diane Neal

You and your best friend have known each other since childhood. You share everything, namely the same values, respect for each other’s ideas, opinions, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. You may not always agree with each other, but your friendship has withstood the time. And no matter what happens, good or bad, you’ll always be there to cover each other’s back.

Your parents have been divorced for years. Whether it’s your mother or father, eventually one of them may find someone, and start to date. And you’re okay with that because everyone deserves to have someone who is going to make them happy.

But suddenly, you discover that one of your parents is seeing your best friend. And now all hell has broken loose, because you believe that your comrade has betrayed you for having the audacity to date one of your parents. But one has to ask the following question: Why should you feel deceived because your parent is dating your best friend, who by the way happens to be over 18 years of age? There are no easy answers. But if you’re ever caught in this type of situation, consider the following:

If they share the same interests, that’s a good start, and if it’s a May-December romance, there is nothing you can do to change the person’s age. So live with it.

Remember, your parent and friend are adults, and have the right to see each other, whether you like it or not, as long as both parties are consenting adults.

If you really know and trust your best friend, there shouldn’t be a problem with your friend dating your parent.

Give your mother or father enough credit for having the good sense and excellent taste to have selected your friend as his or her companion. If you enjoy being around your friend, why shouldn’t your mother or father have the same privilege?

If you have a problem with your best friend dating your parent, ask yourself why; is there something wrong with your parent or your best friend? Do they have emotional, physical or psychological problems that can damage the relationship; are they bank robbers, ax murderers or serial killers? You get the picture!!!

Keep in mind, at this stage of the relationship, they are only dating, having fun and enjoying each other’s company; they are not planning to move in together, or run off to Las Vegas to tie the knot. And if it ever gets to this phase, you can serve as their wedding planner. After all, who knows your friend’s or parent’s idiosyncrasies better than you do?

The question you should ask yourself is: how important is this relationship to my parent and my best friend; remember it’s not all about you. This is not the time to be self-centered.

So if you want to maintain a never-ending relationship with your best friend, it is paramount to mind your own business, because a best friend is special and does not come along very often. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Release Date Announcement for Deception in Plain Sight, a Crime Novel by Vivienne Diane Neal

Genre: Fiction

Description:

Christine Bailey, a naïve young woman of wealth and privilege, falls for and marries Awesome Petté, a charming man who is not what he appears to be. By using romance, lust and sex, he will worm his way into her life, ruin her financially, and destroy her parents’ billion dollar empire that has been in the family for over four generations.



Excerpt 1:

Awesome Petté and Christine Bailey were destined to meet. Both of their families were successful. Although, her family was more prosperous than his was. His family could not hold a candle in their world. Old money carried more standing than some Johnny-come-lately, which was what the Pettés were, arriving too late to the billionaires’ ball.  
The community center, where Christine worked, provided preparation and assistance to people who wanted to start their own venture or make improvements on an existing business. Volunteering her expertise in this area was one way to give back to the community.
Her parents would say, “It is your duty to help those who are less fortunate than you are.” Whether it was out of guilt for having so much given to her or just being altruistic, Christine would become a non-paying consultant to potential or current entrepreneurs at the center. 
When she first walked into the classroom, a feeling of ecstasy took control of her body. She could not comprehend why these emotions were starting to overpower her. She was never one to allow anything or anyone to distract her from her work.
What is going on here? Christine asked herself. What is happening to me? My panties are moist; my nipples are hard. I had better start meditating before I end up embarrassing myself. Finally, those feel-good sensations subsided.
Scanning the room, she took a deep breath and introduced herself. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ms. Christine Bailey, but you may call me Christine.” She had to pause for a second. “I will be your instructor for the next twelve weeks. Before we begin, please, introduce yourself. Tell me why you are here; what do you hope to get out of this course, and what are your plans for the future.”
There were eight students taking the course. Each person gave some information about him or herself.
“I would like to open a daycare center.”
“My intention is to start a tech company.”
“Opening a clothing store has always been a dream of mine.”
“We can always use more eating establishments in our community.”
“I am very good at styling hair. My goal is to open a hair salon.”
 Suddenly, a voice interjected. “Hello, Christine. My name is Awesome Petté. I am taking this course because I plan to become a millionaire before age thirty.”
Christine was in a state of amusement. “Mr. Petté, are you trying to be funny? Did someone say you were awesome, and you could not take a joke?” Everyone roared with laughter.
“No! I am not attempting to be a comedian. My first name is Awesome. If you check your roster, you will see. My parents bestowed that name to me for reasons I do not wish to discuss. Perhaps, over dinner, I can tell you why they gave me that name,” he responded, gazing at her vertically.
By now, some of the students were beginning to dislike his attitude and saw him as an arrogant little man and a butt kisser.  If Christine had those same thoughts, no one in the classroom would ever know, because Awesome Petté had her completely under his control.
She now understood why those hidden sentiments exploded inside of her when she walked into that classroom. That fine-looking hunk was transmitting telepathic vibrations to me. Lord, deliver me from temptation.
While talking, Christine had trouble concentrating. She was fumbling over her words. At times, she was repeating herself. Students were beginning to notice her eyeballs fixated on Awesome. It was as though no one else was in that room but the two of them.
The class was supposed to meet for two hours, but Christine decided to end the lecture after sixty minutes. Everyone got the message: Awesome Petté was going to be her little pet.

Excerpt 2:

Christine finished her business in D.C. earlier than she had anticipated and returned home a week earlier. It was Friday evening when she walked into the house. She was ready to jump into Awesome’s arms and make love to him, but he was not home.
She went upstairs, unpacked, showered and got into her new sexy lingerie, which she purchased at an upscale boutique; she went straight to bed and waited for him.
Suddenly, the home phone rang. “You are in great danger,” the caller said.
“Who is this?” There was silence on the other end. Ten minutes later, the phone rang again. “Hello.”
“Awesome Petté is a deceitful person; he will break your heart.”
“Why do you keep calling?” There was a click. At first, Christine thought it was her mother but remembered she never gave her the home phone number.
Even if her mother knew where they lived and looked up the number in the telephone book or called directory assistance, it would be futile, because the number was unlisted.
It was probably a prankster, Christine thought.
The landline phone was old school; there was no way the caller’s number would show. There was no redial button, so Christine would never know who made that call.
It was after eight when Awesome arrived home. He went up to the bedroom and could not believe his eyes.
 “It’s good to see you. I thought you were coming home next week.”
Good thing I did not have a woman with me, he thought.
“My work with the client finished ahead of schedule. The company loved my presentation and did not see the need for me to stay any longer. Besides, I missed you; come to momma.”
This woman is going to be the death of me, he thought.
“I missed you too. Give me a couple of minutes to get myself together.” Knocking boots was the last thing on his mind. He took a shower and returned all dried.
“Oh, baby, you should have let the water run down on your searing body. It turns me on,” she purred.
“If you like, I can go back and shower my body with warm water and return dripping wet.”
“Stop it and do me as though we are participating in a lovemaking marathon.”
“Yes, your highness; now open wide.” He surged inside of her, releasing hot lava throughout her sensuous channel.
“Sweetie, you are outdoing yourself.”
“Thank you, ma’am, I am here to please you.” They stimulated each other for several hours until they both fell asleep.

* * * *

Release Date: October 31, 2014

Kindle Edition: $4.99

Pre-Order Purchase Link: Amazon

Monday, August 25, 2014

Coming Soon: Deception in Plain Sight, A Novel by Vivienne Diane Neal

Author: Vivienne Diane Neal
Genre: Crime, Hoaxes and Scandal
Release Date: Fall 2014

Synopsis:

What happens when Christine Bailey, a young woman from an affluent family, believes she has met the man of her dreams, only to discover she has been living in a fool’s paradise? The handsome, charming, and cunning Awesome Petté will not only awaken her sexual inhibitions but will draw her into his sinister plot, which will ruin her financially and obliterate her parents’ billion dollar empire that has been in the family for four generations.

Prologue:

Alone in her majestic manor, Christine Petté knew something was wrong when she came home to an empty house and found a beautiful small chest on her husband’s desk. The wooden box, with its intricate handcraft patterns and sparkling gems, reminded her of a piece that one would find at an auction house or in a museum. 
She never questioned her husband’s business affairs, but some strange occurrences got her wondering about him, his business, and his inner circle of friends.
There were bizarre phone calls all hours of the night, secret meetings with individuals she never knew or met and packages delivered to the house by scary looking messengers. Then, someone broke into the house while she and her husband were dining at a restaurant in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Her husband’s office was the only room ransacked. Furnishings, papers, and DVDs were scattered all over the place, but the intruder, as far as she knew, took nothing. Two thousand dollars in cash, a Cartier watch, and gold coins worth over five thousand dollars were in his top desk drawer, which were all visible to the naked eye. 
“Honey, what were they looking for, and how could they have missed those items, which were in plain sight?” she asked, reaching for her cell phone.
As she was getting ready to dial 911, her husband grabbed the phone out of her hand. “There is no need to call the police. It is Halloween; it was probably some kids playing a practical joke. Instead of adorning the house with raw eggs and toilet paper, they decided to remove the spare key from under the doormat, let themselves in and rummage through my office.  Nothing is missing. There is no need to get the police involved.”
A spare key under the doormat; this is news to me, Christine thought.
Some neighbors did leave their doors unlocked and would place an extra key under the mat or hide it in a flower bin. There were occasional break-ins, but major crimes rarely occurred on the quiet block.
She decided not to pursue the matter.  Her husband’s tone, body language and demeanor made it quite clear. 
Leave well enough alone. Let sleeping dogs lie dead.
The kind of business her husband was into might have been the reason for the break-in.
Maybe the prowler thought there were pieces worth stealing, she told herself.
He owned a shop, which sold second-hand junk. Often he would bring items home to restore before offering them to customers.
Since the Great Depression, the economy was in the pits. At the same time, gentrification was spreading throughout the borough like locusts circling cornfields, and high-end shops and restaurants were replacing mom-pop establishments. If three customers came into her husband’s shop, it was considered a good day.
Why someone would come into a home just to poke around and not steal a timepiece, coins, and cash, all worth over eight thousand dollars, did not make any sense to her.
But if Mrs. Petté thought these events were out of the ordinary, she would soon receive a wake up call that will send her into a hellish tailspin, leaving her asking: How could I have missed the deception my husband was exhibiting in plain sight?

Excerpts and purchase link will be coming soon.

In the meantime, check out her other books at the following links:

Lulu
Smashwords  
Amazon 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pickup Lines: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Wacky by Miss Know It All


Miss Know It All
We have all heard them: the pickup lines that are supposed to pique your interest in the person making those lines. Some are funny; others are peculiar, but some are just downright risqué.

Recently, we asked people on several social media to post some of the pickup lines they have heard or used. Some of the lines were edited for clarity.

Now, if you choose to use any of these lines, do so at your own risk. J Enjoy.

& & & &

You must be made of chocolate. Because all I want to do is to lick you and eat you!

You look cold. Can I be your blanket?

You remind of my X, and I hate my X, but I like you.

What is your age?

Are those space pants? Because your butt is out of this world.

If I was a fly, I'd land on you first because you are the sh*t.

I'm sorry, I lost your number." When they say they haven't given it to you, you say "why not?"

That’s a nice dress. Can I talk you out of it? (This one was cited on a TV series.)

Here are some good & goofy pickup lines, that are from the World of the Techies.

Is your name Wi-fi? Because I'm really feeling a connection.

Are you sitting on the F5 key? Because your ass is refreshing.

You had me at "Hello World."

Want to see my HARD Disk? I promise it isn't 3.5 inches and it isn’t floppy.

You can put a Trojan on my Hard Drive anytime.

You still use Internet Explorer? You must like it nice and slow.

I hope you're an ISO file, because I'd like to mount you.

My servers never go down... but I do!

My 'up-time' is better than BSD.

Are you an angel, because your texture mapping is divine!

You've stolen the ASCII to my heart.

Are you a computer keyboard? Because you're my type.

You got me stuck on Caps Lock, if you know what I mean.

If you were a web browser, you'd be called a Fire-foxy lady

Are you from around here, because you have that silky creamy complexion that I don't see on many women this time of the year?

You walk up to a girl, barely lick the tip of your finger and then touch her with that finger tip, and say, "Looks like I need to take you home so you can change out of those wet clothes".

If I tell you, you have a beautiful body will you hold it against me.

Is that drink you’re holding hot "NO?" Oh it must be just you then.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ending a Bad Relationship Online By Miss Know It All

Miss Know It All
The digital world has its place, but when it comes to dating and romance, which may eventually lead to a nasty break up, what you post on-line or in a text messaging application may have a detrimental effect on future employment, entrance into college or your chances of finding a soul mate.

For many reasons, a lot of people put all of their personal business on the Internet without giving it a second thought, no matter who ends up getting hurt. It is a good idea to keep delicate details about why you ended your relationship with an ex off social media, public forms, chat rooms and blogs.

Whatever bad issues you had with a past lover should never be posted on the Internet. No matter how angry you are, discuss your feelings in private. Talk to the person face to face, or discuss your reasoning for ending the relationship on the telephone or write a letter and send it by snail mail, which may be a lost art among many of today’s young people. But never expose what went wrong or what went on between you and your ex in the bedroom on any social media. Forget about listing all of your ex’s unrewarding sexual performances. It’s over; put a period behind it and move on.

Even if the post is anonymous, chances are your friends will have a good idea who you are maligning. And you may also open yourself up to a defamation suit.

Airing your dirty laundry among friends, behind lock doors, is no different from airing your grievances on the Internet. The only difference is that the chitchat you post on the World Wide Web will remain there forever.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Seeking Scandal by Nadine Millard Virtual Book Tour





Book Name-Seeking Scandal by Nadine Millard
Genre - Historical Romance
Release Date - 17th July,2014
Goodreads Link - http://tinyurl.com/o5ga973


Hosted by-Fallen For Books
Buy Links-Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/qereocl


Synopsis


Two years ago, Caroline Carrington had made the biggest mistake of her life; she had rejected the man she loved.
Now, she was back in London and ready to find a husband.
But first, before proper Caroline did exactly what was expected of her, she wanted a little scandal, something to remember during her life as a perfect society wife. Not enough to ruin her, but enough to make her feel alive.


Who then is better placed to help her with her quest than Tom Crawdon, the man whose mere presence still had the power to weaken her knees, and her heart?


Tom had promised himself that he would never allow another woman to get under his skin the way Caroline Carrington had. He had returned to London intent on forgetting her and moving on with his life.


Forgetting her however, would have been a lot easier had she not arrived in London at the same time as he had.
What was worse, she seemed to be on a mission to shake off her good girl reputation. And who better to help her than a notorious rake like him?


But could he help her while still protecting her unblemished reputation? And what happened if she snuck her way right back into his heart?


Excerpt 1

Especially someone he l- cared for.
A sound drew his attention and he turned to see Caroline trying to get herself back onto Fortuna.
No doubt she was trying to storm away. But since Fortuna was far too large for Caroline to be able to reach the stirrups alone, all she had managed to achieve was to be halfway up the horse, with one foot in the stirrup and the other dangling uselessly as her arms clearly did not have the strength to continue pulling.
“Er – what exactly are you doing?” he asked politely.
“Minding my own business,” she snapped back, “you should try it.”
Ah, she was still upset.
He didn’t think he’d ever seen her in a rage before. It was most amusing.
“Let me help you”, he tried again.
With a huff, she gave up on the frankly impossible task of mounting her horse alone.
She whipped round to face him, her face red from the exertion of scaling a horse, her eyes flashing fire.
“Oh, now you want to help?” she drawled sarcastically. “Well, no thank you. You have made your feelings on helping me perfectly clear.”
Tom felt his temper rise to match her own.
“I cannot believe that you are angry with me for trying to preserve your reputation.”
“Hang my reputation”, she shouted now.
“Hang it, indeed. You forget I know you Caroline and I know that you may speak as if you do not care but I was there the night you decided that your reputation was more important to you than anything else in the world, remember?”
His outburst brought an abrupt stop to her ranting and there was a deadly silence between them both.
He had thought that his words had taken the sting out of her mood? That she would apologise and say that he was right?
He watched as she bowed her golden head and waited for her to lift it again, to see her eyes filled with contrition.
Lift her head she did, but her eyes were glinting with determination now. Not contrition.
He was immediately suspicious.
“I have told you before, I am well aware of what I did two years ago. And what it cost me”.
His heart slammed at her words. Was she saying that she regretted it? That she felt she had lost him?
When all it would take was a word from her?
Before he could speak, however, she continued.
“I am prepared to live with the choices I have made. And live with them I will. I will become everything I thought I wanted to be and I will do so with good grace, as all ladies do.”
She sounded now much more like the Caroline of old and he felt a certain relief at it. This new Caroline kept him constantly wrong-footed and it wasn’t a feeling he liked.
“However”, she continued, a hard edge to her voice now, “I am still absolutely determined to enjoy a little scandal before that happens. And if you won’t help me I will find someone who will.”
A rage such as Tom had rarely felt burst through him at her words. The thoughts of her kissing another man as she had been kissing him just moments before were enough to make him want to hit something.
“Like hell you will”, he growled.
She raised a disdainful brow.
“And who will stop me?”
She was goading him. He knew it. He knew that he should not rise to it. Knew that she was probably calling his bluff.
And yet…
What if she were true to her word? What if she meant to give another man her smiles, her laughs, her kisses?
He’d be damned to hell before he allowed that to happen.
Looking her dead in the eye, he reached out and grabbed her to him.
Her eyes widened but rather than fear, they held unbridled passion and excitement. And it was his undoing.
“Me”, he finally answered before once again crushing her lips beneath his own.

Excerpt 2


Caroline was bored, and decided to take yet another walk in the gardens.
Her stroll took her around to the front of the house and she was surprised to see the arrival of a lone rider to the front of the house.
Her brow creased in confusion. As far as she knew, Tom wasn’t expecting his guests for another day or two.
Her attention was caught by the arrival of another two riders coming up the long driveway. She dearly hoped it was Tom to greet his guest.
Unsure as to whether she should greet the stranger or disappear until someone else arrived, she watched as he dismounted and made his way to the front door.
His gait was very familiar. So too was his dark hair.
Caroline stepped closer and then gasped in surprise.
It was Charles!
“Charles”, she called and ran toward him.
Her brother turned at her shout, and he grinned as Caroline ran up the steps.
“Hello, Caro” he said in his deep voice before he pulled her into a hug that pulled her from her feet.
Charles had always towered over her and he made Rebecca look positively tiny.
“What are you doing here?” she asked now, completely forgetting about the imminent arrival of the other riders in her excitement.
“I came to Town and was told by Edward’s servants that you were all here. I was sure his cousin would not mind if I paid a visit, since I came to see my family and my entire family are here.”
Caroline smiled widely.
“No I am sure he would not mind, he is a very generous man.”
Charles eyes, identical to Caroline’s icy blue, narrowed slightly at her warm praise but he did not comment, instead pulling her toward him in another hug.
“You look very well, Caro. It seems England is agreeing with you.”
Caroline made to answer but did not get the chance as she was suddenly pulled roughly from Charles’ grip.
She looked up in confusion and was surprised and horrified to see Tom, looking murderous, push her gently away from Charles before throwing his fist and landing a fierce blow right onto Charles’ cheek.
“Tom” she screamed now, “what are you doing?”
“Getting this lecherous brute’s paws off you”, he snarled and made to move forward again.
“Stop it”, she screamed again, pulling out of his arm with all her mite. “He’s my brother”.
Tom stopped mid-step and turned to look at her.
“Your brother?” he asked slowly, his breathing harsh.
“Yes, my brother” she shouted back, furious with him.
“Ah, so it is. Hello Charles, nice to see you again.”
Caroline’s jaw dropped at Edward’s nonchalance.
Charles grinned at Edward, seemingly as unfazed as the other man.
“Edward, nice to see you too”, he said as the two men shook hands.
Caroline felt as though she had slipped into a surreal dream, or nightmare rather.
Charles turned back to face Tom and eyed him closely.
“You must be Tom Crawdon. Sorry to drop in unexpected, though it would appear I’ve had my comeuppance” he grinned ruefully, rubbing his cheek and extending his other hand.
“My apologies”, said Tom now grasping Charles’ offered hand, “I thought –“
“You thought some stranger was manhandling my sister. Believe me, I am well pleased to have someone take such good care of her. You must really care about your guests.”
The two gentlemen shared a look that Caroline, still in a state of shock, did not even try to decipher.
Tom broke the brief silence.
“Please, come into the house and we will have someone look at your cheek.”
“It’s nothing that a glass of brandy won’t fix”, Charles said jovially.  
The door had opened as this bizarre little exchange was going on and Edward stepped through, handing his hat to a waiting footman.
Both Tom and Charles turned back holding a hand out to Caroline then glancing at each other; Charles’ face once again shrewd and questioning, Tom’s trying and failing to look innocent.
Caroline stared at them both, completely overset by what had just occurred then shook her head and stomped into the house without either of their assistance.
She wished Rebecca and the dowager were here. She’d even take Mrs. Colson at this point.
In the space of a few moments, she’d seen Charles, watched as he was almost knocked clear out by Tom and then listened to them bonding and talking about brandy of all things.
Her head began to ache. And in the midst of it all was the horrible realisation that now whatever chance she and Tom had of being together had been completely obliterated by the arrival of her older and overprotective big brother.