Fourth of July . . . Small Town Style

{Psssst . . . if you want to read the prequel to this short story, go here. Happy Fourth of July!}

 

“Hey, Sam! Happy Fourth of July.” Mason slapped me on the back, grinning. “I’m kind of surprised to see you here. I figured you and Meghan would be celebrating at home today, what with . . . you know. Everything.”

He nodded in the general direction of my wife, and I followed his gaze. Meghan sat in a lawn chair next to my sister. Her beautiful red hair was up on top of her head in what she called a messy bun, keeping it off her neck in this oppressive Georgia heat. Her face was as gorgeous as it had been five years ago when I first saw her on the side of the highway just outside town, and her smile was serene.

It wasn’t until my eyes traveled lower that my stomach clenched with the same nerves that had been tormenting me for the better part of nine months. Meghan’s belly was enormous, so large that it dwarfed her frame. We’d known from the beginning that she was carrying twins, but sometimes lately, I wondered if it might be more than just two babies.

With great effort, I dragged my gaze back to Mason. “Oh, you mean the fact that my wife is currently eight days overdue? And that twins are almost never born this late? And that she looks like she’s balancing four watermelons on her middle? And she’s been contracting pretty steadily for the last two days? You think all of that would convince that stubborn woman that we should, I don’t know, go to the hospital? Or at least stick close to home?” I shook my head. “Nope. She said she wasn’t missing Independence Day, no matter what. She even joked with me that maybe the fireworks would scare the babies into being born. Can you believe her? Joking at a time like this?”

Mason threw back his head and howled with laughter. “Oh, Sam. Settle down, buddy. Meghan’s fine. Look at her over there, enjoying herself with all of our friends and families . . . she looks great. And just think: if she does go into labor, you’re closer to the hospital here than you would be out on the farm.” He elbowed my ribs. “Relax, man. Impending fatherhood is damn scary, but you can handle it. Look at me. I’m basically a pro by now.”

So saying, he swung down an arm to catch the little boy who was racing past, lifting his son into the air and tossing him high before he hugged him tight. A few feet away, his daughter Piper was sitting at the picnic table with my niece Bridget, both of them eating watermelon.

“You do make it look easy. You and Rilla, I mean,” I admitted. “But two at once? I’m already having nightmares about how we’re going to handle this.”

“Hey, if anyone should be freaking out here, it ought to be me.” He lowered his voice. “Rilla doesn’t want to make it public knowledge until after Meghan has the babies, but she’s cooking number three. We’re going to be officially outnumbered, come early next year.”

“That’s wonderful, Mason.” I gave him a punch in the shoulder. “I’m happy for you. I know Meghan will be, too. She—”

“Sam!” My sister’s voice interrupted me, calling my name with an urgency that had my heart jumping into my throat. “Get over here! Meghan’s water just broke.”

My feet were suddenly frozen, unable to move. I felt like I was standing in cement. “What?”

“You need to get her to the hospital!” Ali dashed over to me and shook my arm. “Come on, big brother. Get moving. You’re about to become a daddy. Times two.” She twisted, scanning the green expanse of grass where Burton’s Fourth of July celebration always took place. “Flynn! I need you to get the kids and take them over to where your mom is sitting. Tell everyone that Sam and I are driving Meghan to the hospital, and then come meet us.”

“I’ll call Meghan’s mom,” Rilla volunteered. “I know she’s been on standby to race up here the minute she hears things are getting underway.”

“Great.” Ali took my hand and dragged me toward my wife. “Sam, snap out of it. Meghan needs you.”

Those were the magic words. I stumbled to where my wife was still seated and leaned over her chair. When she lifted her eyes to meet mine, I expected to see panic. Pain. Fear.

But I should have known better. Instead, I saw joy, anticipation . . . and love. So much love.

Suddenly, I was back on that dark highway, looking down into the face of a young woman I was holding, whose eyes had just blinked open at me with wonder. I touched her cheek.

“Hey, babe. Ready to go meet our kiddos?”

Her smile was radiant. “So ready. So way over ready. I love you, Sam.”

I kissed her lips. “I love you, too. Now let’s get moving before you give birth here on the green.”

As I hauled my wife to her feet, applause and shouts of love and well-wishing rose around us. Our family, our friends and our town were sending us off in grand style, and this time, my heart swelled with gladness. I might be scared about becoming a dad, and I might be anxious about Meghan’s delivery, but I knew without a doubt that dozens of people loved me and had my back.

This was life–and love–in a small town.

Read more about life and love in Burton! There are nine Love in a Small Town books right now . . . and more on the way. Find them here.

At the beach with Meghan and Sam (Love in a Small Town)

At the beach with Meghan and Sam

{This short originally appeared on Literary Escapism as part of the Coastal Magic At the Beach series.}

“See? I told you. September is the best time to visit the Cove.” I kicked off my flip-flops and dropped the bag of food from the Rip Tide that my mom had packed for us onto the stripped blanket Sam had just spread. “Weather is perfect, crowds are virtually non-existent and the water is still pretty warm.”

My husband squinted toward the ocean. “It’s pretty, that’s for sure.” He reached over his head and pulled his T-shirt off in one fluid movement, and I smiled at his white chest and stomach. My man was a farmer, and he had the tan to prove it . . . on his arms and neck.

Sitting down on the blanket, I opened the bag and pulled out two burgers. “One medium-rare Ripper burger for you, one very well-done Ripper for me, with extra . . . crap.”

Sam stretched out next to me, taking his sandwich, as his mouth curled into a half-smile and one eyebrow rose. “Extra crap? I thought you asked Sadie to make it with extra blue cheese.”

“Yeah, I did.” I folded the wrapper back around my burger. “I’m not really hungry at the moment. I think I’ll just stick to the fries for a bit.”

“Okay.” Sam took a bite and moaned a little. “Oh, baby. Now this is heaven.”

I grinned. “Because of the burger or because of me?”

“Hmm.” He pretended to consider, and I elbowed him in the ribs.

“Babe, you know it’s all about you. It’s always all about you.” He wiped off his lips with a napkin. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been over four years since I stopped alongside that highway to help out two drunk college girls with a broken-down car. When I think of how everything in my life has changed since that night . . . it’s crazy.”

“To be fair, Laura wasn’t at all drunk. It was only me.” I shrugged. “But four years—wow. So if you had to do it all over again, knowing what you do now, would you still stop?”

“Every time.” He slipped his around my back, pulling me against his side. “I know things have been a little hard lately, with all the fertility issues, but we’re still good, right? We’re okay?”

“Of course we are.” I kissed his cheek, feeling my heart began to thud in anticipation. “No matter what, it’s you and me. I love you, Sam Reynolds. You’re my one.”

Sam touched the tip of my nose with his finger. “My first, my last, my only. Always.”

Running the tip of my tongue over my lips, I made my voice as casual as possible. “Hey, can you grab my sunglasses from the bag? They’re in the case.”

“Uh, sure.” He rummaged for a minute before finding the hard black case. “Here you go, babe. So did you—” He paused as a thin white piece of paper flutter out with the glasses. “What’s this?”

I pretended ignorance, but it was impossible to hide my smile. “I don’t know. Look at it and see.”

Sam held the paper in front of his eyes, frowning. I watched his face closely, waiting for the moment when realization dawned.

And when it did, I’d never seen anything so beautiful. He glanced at me, back at the paper, and then at me again.

“Meghan, is this—it’s—is it what I think it is?”

I nodded. “That, Sam Reynolds, is the very first picture of your babies.” I lifted his hand and laid on my still-flat stomach. “I know it doesn’t look like much, but come early next summer, the next generation of the Reynolds’ family will be ready to meet you.”

Sam stare leaned forward to kiss me, that simple touch conveying everything I knew he was feeling. Releasing me, he bent down to press his lips to my stomach, glancing up as he did.

“Meghan Reynolds, I love you.”

I combed my fingers through his short hair and smiled.

“I know.”

{Want to read about how Sam and Meghan met? Check out THE LAST ONE right here!}

{And if you want another short about these two–go here to read more!}

The Big Reveal . . .

If you read my books, you probably already know that I am a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In season 5, the Big Bad is a god named Glory who (spoiler alert!!) shares a body with a human named Ben. The audience sees this early in the season, but Buffy and the Scooby gang don’t realize it until close to the end. There is a spell that prevents people from remembering it if they happen to witness Glory changing to Ben or vice verse, resulting in some very funny dialogue, as no one can remember except Spike, who is somehow exempt from the spell.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, because I have a secret to share. You see, I share my body not with a god but with another writer.

A few years ago, when erotica was selling big, I was invited to be part of an anthology called Just A Night. Because at the time, my husband was transitioning from hospice chaplaincy into parish ministry, I felt it would be more prudent to write my more, ah, adventurous romances under a pen name.

And that’s how Emma Fallon was born.

(Incidentally, I found her name on a tombstone in New Orleans, because that seemed just perfect. She died on my grandmother’s birthday, five years after Nana was born. I don’t know what the original Emma was like, but I hope she didn’t mind me co-oping her name.)

Now, Emma’s done all right. She’s released seven books over the past three years, but since my own writing schedule has been so intense, I haven’t paid as much attention to her development as I should have done. And now I’ve decided it’s time for Emma to come out of the closet, so to speak.

What this means is that I’m integrating Emma’s newsletter list with Tawdra’s and also including her on this website. I’ll be updating the Books pages to encompass hers. And because I’ve had people asking for it, we might see a couple of Emma releases sooner rather than later.

Emma has two main series, and both contain shorter books. Good Vibrations is set in the mid-1960’s in South Jersey. Tom and Caroline meet one summer night and share an unforgettable night. She’s a divorcee, and he’s about to be deployed to Vietnam. What happens that night–and thereafter–is told in their first three books: More Than Words, Baby, I’m Yours and Save It For Me. There will be more books in this series.

Small Town Swingers is more traditional erotica, about a woman named Tess who moves to a small Southern town and gets involved in a group that meets for more than just coffee. There are four books in this serial: Welcome to Paradise, The Heat is On, Night Moves and Fading Into You.

I hope you’ll check out Emma’s Facebook page and her books, too!

 

 

BIG News about Love in a Small Town

 

Being an indie author oftentimes means being flexible and rolling with the tides of the business. It also means going back to fix things later . . . or re-doing something that sounded like a good idea at the time.

When I published The Last One in September of 2014, it was supposed to be a stand-alone, a spin-off from the Crystal Cove Romances. But by the time I’d finished writing it, I realized that I was oh so wrong . . . this wasn’t just a spin-off, it was actually the start of a new series. I thought it would be three books, a trilogy: The Last One, The First One, The Only One. But then, it turned out that there were more Burton stories to tell.

The Always Love books take place in Burton, Georgia, just as the The One books do, and there are tons of crossover characters. It really IS the same series. But oftentimes, readers couldn’t figure that out.

Enter re-branding, the dread of every indie author.

What we’ve done here is:

–Created a brand-new series called Love in a Small Town that encompasses all nine of the books currently set in or connected to Burton, as well as any subsequent books released in that series.

–Created brand-new covers for each book that capture the feel of these books. The marvelous Meg Murrey did an amazing job.

–Released The Perfect Onea novella that had previously only been available as part of the box set. (If you didn’t read it as part of the box set, you can buy it here.)

–Tweaked the blurbs to carry through the flavor and heart of these books.

–Added extra content in the form of an additional chapter to each full-length book. The new content is from the point of view of one of the main characters featured in the subsequent book.

To celebrate this re-branding business, The Last One is free for a limited time! You can get your copy by clicking any of the links below.

iBooks/Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Google/Smashwords

 

Here are all the books in Love in a Small Town:

The Last One   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Only One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always For You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underneath My Christmas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always My Own

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My One and Always

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always Our Love

FIFTY FROGS is Live!

Fifty Frogs is live today!

This is a book I’ve been excited about writing for a long time. It was inspired by a real-life event and all of the date stories in the book are based on true happenings . . . things that my own girls have experienced. It was fun to spin those out, laughing over the crazy things that happen in real life.

The characters are dear to me, and for once, the setting was literally my own backyard. Vivian lives on a lake in a small neighborhood in central Florida . . . and yes, it’s based on my own town and community. The only problem is that now whenever I sit outside, I begin to look for Charlie. Hmmm. Haven’t spotted him yet!

I hope you’ll fall in love with these people and this place . . . wishing you ‘hoppy’ reading! <3

****************

Boy meets girl. It’s the way romances usually begin . . . and while we all love a happy ending, it’s the #MeetCute that wins our hearts.

How did you two meet?

The #MeetCute Books each have a unique answer to that query. Some might make you swoon, others might make you giggle . . . and some may make you blush.

Twelve authors. Twelve stand-alone contemporary romance novels. Twelve stories that will make your heart beat a little faster.

Because it’s all about the #MeetCute.

~***~
Vivian is sick of dating. Sick of the way guys treat her, sick of living and crying by when and if they call . . . she’s just done.

When her aunt reminds her that a girl has to kiss a lot of frogs before she finds her prince–Aunt Gail says that number is fifty–Vivian decides she’s taking control of her dating life: she’s going to go on a series of first dates only, and each one must end in a kiss. She begins chronicling each date–the good, the bad and the downright unbelievable–with a plan to turn the stories into an in-depth magazine series about the realities of dating in the twenty-first century.

Everything’s going along according to plan until Vivian hits a bump in her road with Frog Number Five, who doesn’t seem to understand his role in this deal. And despite Vivian’s determination to make it all the way to the big five-oh, when fate keeps throwing this same man across her path, she begins to wonder if maybe it’s time to ditch the plan . . . and kiss just one more frog.

Buy FIFTY FROGS at your favorite ebook vendor today!

iBooks/Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Google/Books2Read 

Check out the FIFTY FROGS Play List here.

Read the How Vivian Met Charlie Interview here.

Learn more about all the #MeetCute Books here!

 

Tawdra Kandle writes romance, in just about all its forms. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include young adult and new adult paranormal romance, new adult and adult contemporary romance and adult paramystery romance. She lives in central Florida with a husband, kids, sweet pup and too many cats. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

You can follow Tawdra on Amazon to receive updates on her releases. You can also visit her website for more information, and subscribe to her newsletter  for sales announcement, special exclusive content and promotions!

If you enjoy Tawdra’s books, join the Naughty Temptresses!

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