Tag Archives: Mia Kay

Guest Release–Hard Silence by Mia Kay

Hard_Silence

BLURB

FBI profiler Jeff Crandall returned to Fiddler, Idaho, to work on new Bureau protocols in peace…and because he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Abby Quinn. Kind, beautiful and quietly sexy, the petite rancher next door is loved by the entire town but keeps fiercely to herself. She’s a mystery that doesn’t want to be solved, though he’s desperate to try.

Whether that interest is professional or personal is a question he’ll sort out later.

Abby knows sharing her secrets would bring death and destruction to Fiddler. She survived her childhood, barely, but a long list of stepfathers weren’t nearly so lucky: their bodies are buried across the country, waiting to be discovered. The best protection is silence, anonymity and isolation, though the handsome agent next door seems hell-bent on destroying all three.

And he just keeps kissing her

When Jeff is called in to investigate an interstate serial killer case spanning two decades, Abby knows it’s only a matter of time before he connects the dots, sees her for who she really is and walks away. But it’s when he’s standing in the crosshairs of Abby’s past that Jeff faces his biggest challenge yet: how to give the woman he loves the life she doesn’t believe she deserves.

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EXCERPT

The other horse remained quiet in his stall. “Good morning, Hemingway,” Abby whispered as she stroked the giant black gelding’s nose and danced her fingers through his forelock. He was becoming such an elegant animal. “How are you, handsome? Ready to work this morning?” He dropped his head to her waiting hand. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

She forced her left arm up, ignoring the persistent pain, slipped the halter over his head and scratched his ears until he quieted. “No saddle today, I promise. Let’s get used to this first.” She opened the door but let the lead rope dangle as she walked away and let him follow. He needed to know she wouldn’t tug and pull. His clopping tread reminded her of Beau and her wobbly bike ride.

Shaking the memory free, she stood in the stable doorway. The pasture was cloaked in fog, and dew silvered the grasses not already trampled. It was like looking through a soft-focus lens. In this moment, right before sunrise, the world was fuzzy, tinted green, blue and gray. The birds chirped quiet, sleepy greetings. Hemingway froze when she picked up the rope.

“I won’t hurt you.” Abby took one step, keeping the lead slack, and waited. When the animal moved forward, she took another step. They inched through the paddock and the gate to the edge of the field.

“Good boy,” she murmured as she offered him a carrot and stroked his graceful neck. “See? No pain.”

Leaving him there, she went back into the stable only to run out when an equine scream ended in canine yelps and snarls. All that remained of Hemingway were his thundering hoof beats and the waving grass.

Abby knelt next to Toby and ran her hands over him, checking him for injuries. The dog’s shame gave way to a plea for a belly rub.

“I know you want to herd him,” she scolded as she gave in and scratched his chest, “but he hates to be crowded right now.” She stood and sighed. “Let’s go get him.”

Hem’s trail was marked in the dew, and easy to follow. The tall grass swallowed Toby in a gulp, and Abby waded through the swaying fescue to the river, her bag of carrots and apples bouncing against her hip. Stepping carefully on the slick rocks, she hopped to the Simons’ pasture and continued up the hill.

Off to her left, a covey of quail clattered clumsily into the sky, scaring her as much as she’d startled them. Toby shot off, intent on catching the slowest prey. Abby trudged on alone.

The giant gelding was stopped at the fence, munching on Deb Simon’s newly budded shrubs. He watched her approach with one dark, wild eye.

“Shh.” She touched his neck and pursued him when he flinched away. When he quieted, she rubbed his sweaty coat and stared down at the ragged plant. “I hope you haven’t killed that. I’ll never find a replacement.” At least the Simons were gone for the summer. It would be enough time to determine the damage and do some shopping, if necessary.

Comforting pats grew to long strokes as Abby ran her hands over the horse’s shoulder and then down his back. When she reached his ribs he stepped away and tossed his head. She kept a steady grip on the lead rope. “Quiet. I need to see if you’ve reinjured yourself. It won’t hurt. I promise.” She hoped she was right.

She got farther the second time. “Good boy, Hem.” He moved away again, and she started over.

It took four tries before she could run a light hand over his bones and feel the spots that were once jagged pieces. The horse shook beneath her, but he stayed still. “Good boy. I know it’s scary to trust someone, but you’re a brave man.” She pulled an apple from her bag. “You’re going to be good as new.”

The horse ignored the treat and stared over her shoulder, his nostrils flaring at a new scent. They weren’t alone.

Abby’s skin tingled as her muscles tightened. If she faced the intruder, she risked chasing Hem again. She tensed and moved her weight to the balls of her feet and whistled for backup. Toby came at a run. The dog was too well trained to bark, but his eyes stayed glued on their observer. Abby kept her focus on her dog.

Instead of growling, he wagged his tail. He’d seen whoever it was before. Convinced it was safe, Abby turned to face their audience.

“Hi, Abby.”

Jeff Crandall stood on the Simons’ porch, barefooted, in a wrinkled T-shirt and faded jeans. Lounging against a newel post, he was sipping a cup of steaming coffee, holding it with one hand while the other was shoved into the front pocket of his jeans.

Abby swept her gaze from him to the yard. She’d been so intent on the horse, she’d missed the car parked in front of the barn Hank Simon used as a garage. The silver Audi roadster with Illinois plates was the sort of car she only saw in magazines, and it would have easily fit in her horse trailer.

Maggie Harper’s reminder echoed through Abby’s scrambled brain. Jeff was renting the house for the summer, something about a project related to his job with the FBI.

He descended into the yard and started toward them with an easy gait, frowning slightly like he always did when she caught his eye. She’d seen that look for so many years, from so many people—teachers, doctors, ministers…stepfathers.

Would she ever get used to him appearing without warning? For the past year, since Gray Harper had asked for his help figuring out who was stalking Maggie, Jeff had come and gone with predictable unpredictability, always keeping her on edge.

Mia Kay

Mia Kay spent years writing legal documents and keeping people out of trouble. Now she spends her days looking for ways to get her characters into trouble. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, who doesn’t mind discussing (and sometimes causing) mayhem over breakfast.

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Guest Interview—Mia Kay

Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I’m a small-town, southern girl who always wanted to be a writer. One day I finally got the nerve to try.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?
Love that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?
I’m addicted to movies, and I love to read.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
Characters, generally. I need to have their conflicts in place before I address the larger plot.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
I tend to make a loose outline to keep me on track, but it’s a guidebook rather than turn-by-turn directions.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
I listen to everything but country music.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
Yes. I traveled to Los Angeles, but it was years ago. I went for business – it’s where I first met the woman who is now my closest friend.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
I go back and read what I’ve written or plotted, because chances are I’ve written myself into a corner. (In one story, I got stuck because I’d written the end in the middle of the manuscript.)

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
How often I repeat specific words.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
I have a full-time day job, so my main writing days are on the weekends (my husband works each Saturday and Sunday and we don’t have children). On those days, I’ll get up early, fix breakfast, and dive into a manuscript.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?
This release is contemporary romance. I also write romantic suspense.

What’s your dream vacation destination?
London.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?
I love Pinterest for plotting and writing tools. Polyvore helps me get a feel for characters’ clothing – it’s like playing virtual paper dolls.

In what genre do you read?
I’ll read just about anything except horror. I spend way too much time on my own, and my imagination is much too active, to scare myself on purpose.

What resources do you use for picking character names?
I have all sorts of websites saved on Pinterest to help with names for major characters.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I love to entertain people, so I hope they can close the book and feel like it was time well spent. And I hope they like my characters long after they’ve finished reading.

Souvenirs

BLURB

A reclusive writer . . . 

Grace Donnelley’s successful sci-fi novel is about to become a movie. She wants a vacation with her mother before filming starts, but fears her name will cause a geek riot. So she creates Grace Ward, sometimes schoolteacher and doting daughter of Sunny.

A hounded actor . . . 

Bennett Oliver escapes London for a vacation with his mother. He wants to hide from the paparazzi and his brooding reputation. He takes the role of Ben Brady, successful businessman and overprotective son of Camille.

But they never counted on each other . . . 

An immediate attraction, aided by their matchmaking mothers, gives Ben and Grace a vacation they never expected—and one they don’t want to lose. Upon returning to their everyday lives, they work to maintain a relationship while trying to find a way to say, “By the way, I’m famous.”

When the secrets and lies catch up with them, Ben and Grace struggle to open their lives and re-open their hearts to see if love can be their most treasured souvenir.

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EXCERPT

Their fellow passengers pushed past Grace in a rush to board. One businessman practically knocked her into her mother’s lap in his hurry to get to a window seat.

Hoisting the bulky bag overhead, Grace gasped as her elbows buckled. It listed backward, skewing her balance and threatening to topple onto the passenger across the aisle.

“May I help?” A deep, warm voice rumbled over her shoulder. Before she could answer, the weight of the bag disappeared and she fell against a solid chest. She gazed from large hands, up strong arms, to broad shoulders. Tilting further back, she saw a wide smile. When his hand covered hers, she jerked upright and surrendered the bag.

“Thank you,” she squeaked.

“My pleasure,” he said as he boosted the second bag overhead.

Grace sidestepped to her seat and her volunteer valet walked to the back of the plane, for all intent disappearing since Grace refused to turn and stare. Closing her eyes, she willed her blush to subside and waited for the announcements signaling takeoff for the last leg of their flight to Vienna.

***

The jolt of landing jerked Grace alert. As they taxied to the gate, her mother unfastened her seat belt and perched on the edge of her chair. Her purse jiggled in time to her tapping feet.

“Relax, Mom. Vienna won’t disappear.”

The aisle filled, resembling a blocked conveyor belt as passengers pushed and pressed, children fussed, and bags shifted and fell. Finally everyone moved. The last person in the line was her gentleman valet—tall, well-dressed, dark hair, narrow waist, and long legs. His back was as nice as his front.

Grace’s feet were leaden and her arms felt like rubber, but she managed to reach the carryon bags, walk off the plane, and trudge to baggage claim.

The buzzer rang as the carousel jerked into motion, and Grace recited her ritual, silent “find my luggage” prayer. When both large bags arrived side by side, her relief gave her the extra adrenaline necessary to lift them clear. With that hurdle cleared, she hurried to catch up as her mother reached the revolving door.

After twelve hours of artificial darkness and recycled air in planes and airports, the sunshine and light breeze was a welcome reward. However, in minutes exhaust fumes were overwhelming, perspiration trickled down her back, and weariness set in. Grace groaned in relief as a shuttle van came into view.

“Mother, why don’t you sit while I get a taxi?”

She recognized the voice from the plane. As the heat doubled under her skin, she turned toward the only other recognizable face in Vienna.

“We meet again.” She smiled as she shrugged the heavy bag onto her aching shoulder. She’d probably walk like Quasimodo for the rest of the trip.

“We do. Hello.” His response was wary. He’s probably worried I’ll end up in his lap—again.

“Which hotel, ladies?” The driver asked as he reached for their luggage.

“Hotel Ananas, please.”

“Sir?”

“Same, please.”

“Are you traveling together?” the driver asked.

“No.” The answer was issued in harmonic tandem, the man’s British bass and her Southern alto.

“So, two taxis?”

There wasn’t another vehicle waiting, and the heat was just the other side of warm.

“Why don’t we share?” Grace offered.

“How kind. Thank you.” His mother accepted the invitation.

Her stylish clothes were unwrinkled, and her sleek salt and pepper bob stopped at her jaw. She had a lovely smile, and the crinkles around her eyes suggested she used it a lot. “I’m Camille Brady and this is my son, Ben.”

At his name, he offered his hand with a silent nod. His clothing was as fresh as his mother’s. Grace felt more and more like an unmade bed, and she was sure her ponytail was crooked.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Her mother stepped into the conversation gap. “I’m Charlotte Ward, but please call me Sunny. This is my daughter, Grace.”

She held her breath, worried her mother would slip. It was silly. The chance anyone would recognize her, even using her proper last name, was almost nonexistent. But after the incident last week, she wasn’t taking any chances.

“Ms. Ward?” Ben’s voice rumbled into her thoughts. He was standing by the open taxi, with his hand outstretched and a silent question in his lopsided grin and arched eyebrow. She put her fingers in his.

“Grace, please . . . Ben.”

He sat across from her, and she tucked her feet under the seat to leave room for his long legs. The door slid closed with a muted thunk.

“You wouldn’t happen to be going on a two-week train tour, would you?” her mother asked.

“Austria, Italy, and France?” Camille countered. “What a wonderful coincidence.”

“Isn’t it? It will be nice to know a few people when we get started.”

As the women overran each other in giddy conversation, Grace almost felt guilty for not looking out the window to enjoy the sights zipping by. Almost. They’d have two days in Vienna. It wouldn’t hurt to close her eyes for a minute. Behind sunglasses, no one would notice.

“You’ve come over from the States, then?” Ben asked in a measured, quiet tone.

Lifting lids that were now almost as heavy as her luggage, Grace saw him waiting on an answer. At least he was facing her while his sunglasses shielded his eyes, so she assumed he’d directed the question at her. “Yes. We left Chicago yesterday.”

Ben’s grin stretched his face. “But you’re not from there. I’ve traveled in the U.S. so I recognize the accent.”

Grace relaxed and returned the smile. She’d worked for years to rid herself of her telltale drawl, but it returned when she was with her mother. Sunny embraced her Southernness as if it were a near relation.

“You’ve found us out.” She forced her spine straight. “Where have you been in the States?”

His grin faded. “Mostly New York and Los Angeles.”

“Were you there for pleasure or for business?”

“Business.”

The simple question was on the tip of her tongue. What do you do? It always led to the parenthetical what about you? And it went downhill from there. People couldn’t help their curiosity, but she could help hers. “And you were in Chicago?”

“Umm . . . yes. I spent an extra night there during an unscheduled layover.”

“I hope you made it to the Field Museum.”

“I did, and to the lake shore. It’s odd to stand on a beach and have the skyline that close.”

“For me it’s standing on the beach and being cold,” she agreed. “After years of flying through Chicago, I finally planned a long layover so I could sightsee.”

“The museum is your favorite?”

“The T-Rex is incredible. Can you imagine being on a hunting trip and running into that?” Her imagination hijacked her tongue. “What would you do?”

His lips twitched. “Am I hungry?”

“You live on roots and berries and the monster is between you and a prehistoric bunny,” she used her hands to gauge the size of the creature, “this big. Fight or flight?”

“Fight.” He smiled. “Definitely.”

Mia Kay

Mia Kay spent years writing legal documents and keeping people out of trouble. Now she spends her days looking for ways to get her characters into trouble. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, who doesn’t mind discussing (and sometimes causing) mayhem over breakfast.

My links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads