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About the author:
I like to read romance. it has always been my favorite genre. I started by sneaking my mom's books and reading them when no one was watching. My parents moved a lot as I was growing up. I was always the new kid. I think the books helped me feel like I was part of something. They were always there. Just like an old friend. I toyed with the idea of writing years ago, when my children were all young. I just did not have the time. I had several boys and they requited a lot of monitoring. Boys will be boys, as they say. I have a new book due out later this year.
What inspired you to write your book?
What inspired me to write this book? My husband and I were talking one day about families and how things are often different than they appear. There are times when one family member is going through a situation that no one else understands. In fact, the other family members may not be aware the situation exists. We started tossing ideas around about different established stories and how they might have been different. The idea came to twist this fairy tale up.
Here is a short sample from the book:
It was finally spring. After a long cold winter, the sun came out from behind the clouds, and the birds started to sing. Flowers sprang from the ground with wild abandon. Green appeared in the trees and in the fields.
Anastasia leaned on the makeshift counter. She pulled her tight sleeve further down her arm and rubbed at the scar to ease the ache. The stall they rented at the local market was not much, but it served as a place to sell the fruit and vegetables they grew. She sighed as she thought about the last few months. A lot of things changed in her world since Papa died. It was difficult, at first, to learn to do some of the things they always had servants do for them, such as washing and ironing, for instance. Those tasks were not easy ones. Who knew too much lye in the water with the clothing caused holes? Or that a hot iron burned through cloth in a few seconds? Well, Anastasia did, now. She grimaced at her calloused hands and chipped nails. She learned to sweep, to mop, to dust carpets, to clean wood paneling, and to clean the drapery. She even knew how to polish the silver. It had been a long winter.
Anastasia lifted her face toward the warmth of the sun and wanted to sing with the birds. It was wonderful to be outside and feel the gentle breeze across her face.
"'Ello dear. What yer sellin' today,aye?"
Anastasia turned. Mrs. Wilton, the butcher's mother, stood before her counter. She was bent with age and blind in one eye, but she got around.
"Cherries, tomatoes, and fresh eggs," Anastasia answered with a smile.
"'Ow do ye have tomatoes, aye? It ain't been warm long." Mrs. Wilton tapped the counter with her wooden cane.
"I planted them early and kept the plants in little pots in the kitchen where it is warm," Anastasia said.
"Yer a smart one," the old woman cackled, "wouldn't a thought o' that meself."
Anastasia smiled again. "How is your leg?"
Mrs. Wilton took a tumble two days before when some unruly village boys accidentally ran into her as they raced through the street.
"'Ers doin' fine now. Thanks to yer ma for the liniment.." The old lady tapped her leg with her cane. "Nary a pain."
"That is wonderful, Mrs. Wilton. I shall tell Mama the news."
"Yer ma is a good woman. Ye tell 'er 'ello, aye.'" With that Mrs. Wilton left, toddling along with her cane.
"This is a complete waste of time," Rella announced as she came walking toward their stall from the dressmaker's shop. "I do not understand why you insist on standing out here like a commoner. I will not. The sun is ruining my complexion, and I want to go home. "
Anastasia sighed. With Rella, it was always the same thing. "It is not a waste of time. It is how we eat and keep a roof over our heads."
"Well, I for one, am not standing out here and subjecting myself to the commoners, or the smell. I am going for a walk." Rella turned and walked up the street to the shoemaker's shop.
Anastasia sighed again.
Beatrice finished helping her customer and put the coins in her pocket. "All the eggs are sold and almost all the tomatoes. Mama will be pleased."
Anastasia nodded and moved the basket of cherries to the front of the counter.
Two village boys ran by, grabbing the basket of cherries as they ran past.
"Hey! Put that down!" Anastasia called as she hurried around the edge of the stall. They lost all their cherries last week too, and to the same two boys she suspected. They certainly seemed familiar enough.
"Do not chase them, Anastasia, what will everyone think?" Beatrice wrung her hands and called after her, but Anastasia was already running down the street after the two boys.
She chased them through the alley and over a couple of fences. She cleared the fence quicker than the straggler and nearly caught him by his shirt, but the little devil caught the edge of a porch and pulled himself onto a low roof. He must do this a lot. Anastasia thought to herself as she pulled herself onto the same low roof and began climbing. It felt wonderful to use her arm again. She spied the boy balancing along the peak of the roof as he hurried to the other side. Little rascal. She would have given the boys some of the cherries if they but asked. She made it to the top of the roof and began to walk along the edge. She was half-way across when her foot slipped, and she went tumbling head over heels down the steep slope of the roof.
She closed her eyes when she went over the edge and waited for the impact. It was not what she expected! She hit against a warm solid something that knocked the breath out of her. Two bands of steel clamped around her and held her still. She opened her eyes cautiously and found herself nose to nose with a very handsome man. Two dark blue eyes gazed intently into hers. Laughter crinkled the corners of his eyes. Locks of black hair fell across his forehead.
"What did you catch, Val?" An amused male voice behind them asked the question.
Val was taking a heated inventory of the woman he held in his arms. He focused on the disarray of her hair, the fullness of her breasts, the narrowness of her waist, and then the soft pink lips so close to his own. He pulled her close against him, amused and intrigued.
"I merely asked the gods for their favor on our hunt, and they dropped a goddess right into my arms." He tightened his hold about her waist and leaned in for a closer look.
Desire slammed into him like a battle-ax. He liked what he saw. This angel that dropped from the sky was beautiful with her long ebony hair, green eyes and pert little nose.
Bewitching. He stared at her mouth so close to his and wondered if she tasted as good as she looked. He wanted this enchanting girl.
Anastasia could not move. He studied her through half-closed eyes, like a predator studies its prey. She drowned in the heat of his eyes and all around her was his scent. He smelled of the woods, sunshine, and danger. Her lips parted and her breathing quickened. A tingling sensation began somewhere in the region of her stomach and spread through her whole body. White-hot heat pumped through her veins. Her body hummed with excitement and danger. His gaze moved from her lips, to her heaving chest, and then back to her mouth. He leaned closer still. Every nerve she had screamed with sensory overload. She felt as though she were a tender piece of meat being offered to a hungry wolf. She waited for his touch, her breath coming quickly. His full mouth hovered right above her own. If either of them moved the smallest bit…
"Will you put my sister down?"
Anastasia jumped at the sound.
Beatrice stood right behind her now, her voice indignant.
The man lifted his head slowly and turned to face Beatrice. "I caught her; now she is mine to keep," he teased.
Beatrice did not look amused at the situation. "Put her down at once," she commanded. "You cannot hold my sister like that, sir, it is not proper. People are beginning to stare."
"The lady is right, Val. We are about to be the talk of the village," the other voice said.
Val glanced around with a frown of annoyance and set Anastasia on her feet.
Anastasia dragged in a hard breath. She was dizzy. When her feet touched the ground, her legs wobbled like a young colt.
He stared down into her eyes again, hypnotizing her with his heat. Anastasia blinked up at him, trying to reason beyond the spell he wove around her. She grabbed hold of him to keep her knees from buckling. His arms were thick with muscle, and the fire he radiated almost burned her fingers. He was so tall that his shoulders blocked out the sun. The top of her head did not reach his chin. Anastasia boldly let her eyes wander over his massive chest and the bulge of muscle visible beneath the coarse tunic he wore. Lord, this man was fit and large. She shivered. Heat pooled into her stomach, as she stood on liquid legs. Was he a soldier of some kind? Surely, nobody could be this well-defined unless he trained regularly. Anastasia tried to speak, but her mouth was dry, and her tongue way too big. She licked her lips. Val's gaze flickered to her mouth. Val leaned toward her. Anastasia began to quiver against him with some nameless desire.
"Anastasia, will you let go of that man and come with me? Have you taken leave of your senses? What will Mama say when I tell her of your lack of decorum today?"
Anastasia jumped again at the sound of Beatrice's voice. She looked down in bemusement. Lord, she had hold of his tunic with both hands. She blushed and made her hands let go of him.
"What is your name?" Val asked.
"My name is Anastasia," she answered. She felt the heat in her cheeks. "Thank you for catching me," she managed to whisper.
"My pleasure," he drawled. "Anytime you need catching, I will be there, Anastasia."
His voice held a velvet promise, and Anastasia felt her stomach clench. She did not know what to say. In truth, her mind seemed to have deserted her altogether.
Val winked at her, a slow provocative gesture, then turned to his companion. "Come,Vroknar, there is other game to be caught."
Only as the beautiful man walked away did Anastasia's breathing return to normal. Then she became aware that he had not one companion but several.
"What is wrong with you today?" Beatrice chided. "Have you taken leave of your senses?" she asked for the second time.
Confused, Anastasia looked at her. "What senses?"
"I am beginning to wonder the same thing myself," Beatrice muttered as she grabbed Anastasia's arm and dragged her back to their stall.
"How could you let a stranger hold you like that? It is not proper for him to be so forward with you. And he is so big. What if he had evil intentions toward you?"
Anastasia had no idea what an intention was, so she asked.
Beatrice rolled her eyes.
"Did he try to kiss you?" Beatrice sounded more interested now than outraged. But then she bounced back to outrage. "Why were you not trying to get away? Mama is going to be disappointed in you."
It was worth it. Anastasia closed her eyes and thought of the strong warm arms that held her, and the beautiful eyes that sucked her soul right out of her body. The heat and the danger made her breathing erratic. Besides, she was getting used to disappointing her mother…
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