Excerpt Wednesday – Catch a Falling Star – First Look

Sep 30, 2015

It’s Excerpt Wednesday! And now that I’m back from traveling to the ends of the earth, meeting people at conferences and planning new and exciting projects to share with you all, it’s time I got back into the groove of posting tidbits from upcoming work. So here it is, the third book in my contemporary series (Second Chances), the story of Benjamin Paul, who you met in One Night with a Star, and his heroine, who just happens to be a romance novelist. She’s not autobiographical! Although I wouldn’t say no to a hunky director like Ben! Here you go, a sneak peek at Catch a Falling Star….


Ben got up to search for his jeans and to fish his cell phone from the pocket. Sure enough, there was a missed call. Speaking of people who had him by the balls…. He tapped the phone to call the Pollard twins back.

“Ben, where are you?” Jett Pollard answered. He was irritated, pissy, but not pissed yet. It was as good a start as Ben was going to get.

“Sorry, Jett. Something came up.” It certainly had. It had been coming up again until this particular slice of reality reared its ugly head.

“Can you make it to Café Lunch by four?” Ashton Pollard’s voice asked through speakerphone. Ben wasn’t surprised. Where there was Jett, there was always Ashton, over-styled hair, loud suits, fake-gay lilt, and all.

Ben glanced to the bathroom door, to the strip of light shining at the bottom. “Actually no. I’m going to have to cancel on you. Can we reschedule for tomorrow?”

Jett sighed. Now he was pissed. “Seriously, Ben? Broadway Snitch comes out with a salacious tell-all about how you slept your way to that award, and you’re too busy to talk to the only people who can stop your career from going into a tailspin?”

Ben’s gut clenched. He rubbed the sudden kink in his neck. He would not admit to fear. He would not panic. To convince himself as much as the Pollard twins, he heaved a stern sigh. “Jett, Ashton, it’s time to get real. Broadway Snitch is a two-bit gossip rag that would call Little Orphan Annie a twenty-dollar a night whore if they spotted her with a button undone. They’re a tabloid.”

“Do you know how many people read tabloids, Ben?” Ashton chirped.

I’m probably talking to two right now. “It’s meaningless,” he said aloud. “Let them titillate a few people. The award is mine, it’s a done deal. I’m more interested in looking ahead. Tomorrow I’ll explain to you all the reasons why this new musical, Last Closing Time, will be the next big smash hit, and why we’ll all make an obscene amount of money if—”

We’re not going to make or do or pay for anything,” Jett cut him off. “We are going to sit patiently and wait for what had better be the best explanation of a rumor that we’ve heard in our lives. Otherwise you are going to be short one production team and an ass-load of cash.”

Ben ground his teeth. He stared out the tinted windows at the dreary Manhattan skyline, the gloomy view of Central Park. It wasn’t the first time he’d stood staring at the view while stark naked, but it was the first time he felt so goddamn exposed.

“It’s nothing.” He feigned nonchalance. “People always go after the top dog once he’s got the bone. That’s all this is.” Nothing to panic about, nothing to lose his head over. Keep telling yourself that, Benjamin.

Both Pollard twins clucked and hummed with doubt.

Ben pushed a hand through his hair, wondering where all that lovely, sexy confidence he’d felt minutes before with Jo had gone.

“Café Lunch, noon sharp tomorrow,” he said, taking charge. “I’ll answer all your questions, put all the rumors to bed, and we can go back to doing what we do best.”

“Making cheap, fluffy TV shows?” Ashton drawled, then burst into hissing laughter at his cheap shot.

Ben’s face tightened into a glare in spite of the fact that the twins couldn’t see it. “There’s nothing wrong with Second Chances.” His voice was too hard, too hurt. “It’s one of the top-rated programs on tv right now.”

“Oh, come on, Benny. Television is for plebeians with bad teeth and beer-breath. Any schmuck can make television,” Ashton said.

“Television is a 32 ounce soda from the convenience store,” Jett seconded. “Broadway is fifty-year-old scotch and a penthouse view of Central Park.”

“Unless you’d rather guzzle that soda with the unwashed masses,” Ashton finished.

Ben let a long, tense silence go by while he took a breath and bit back his instinctual reply. Okay, Second Chances wasn’t high art, but he enjoyed filming. He liked the talent involved. Spencer Ellis and Simon Mercer were among his closest friends. And there were far worse places than Maine to spend a few months out of the year shooting, even with all that wilderness.

He glanced over his shoulder at the bathroom. Maine. Jo lived in Maine.


Catch a Falling Star will be available at Amazon on October 27th! Stay tuned to find out exciting information about a special deal for my fans!

Things I Learned at the Ind’Scribe Conference 2015

Sep 25, 2015
Me near the middle with the amazing and talented InD'Tale crew!

Me near the middle with the amazing and talented InD’Tale crew!

I had such a good time at the InD’Scribe conference for indie romance writers in Palm Springs, CA, that I almost don’t know how to put it into words. A good time was had by all, a lot of super talented writers came together to share knowledge and laughter, and even though there were only a few workshops and panels, I learned SO MUCH that will be incredibly useful from them. 

I think the first and most important lesson that I learned is that above all else, story is the most important part of any writing process. Sounds obvious, right? Well, this year’s conference and my experience judging the RONE Awards really drove that home. The actual prose itself could have problems (although another lesson I learned is that we must always, ALWAYS work to improve out craft), but at the end of the day, it’s the story you’re telling that will grab the reader.

We’re all storytellers. That’s why we got into this gig in the first place. Or at least it should be the reason why we got into this gig. We can try to chase trends and follow the market and write from a financial-type motivation all we want, but at the end of the day, it’s our deep, deep desire to tell stories that’s going to push our careers along and take us to the next level.

That being said, one of the key elements of storytelling is to have characters that are likeable. They don’t have to be good, they don’t have to be nice, but they do have to make the reader want to know more about them. Again, pretty obvious, right? But one thing that our first keynote speaker, Anne Perry, said that really stuck with me is that to make a character likable, sometimes you have to know a whole lot of backstory about them. Backstory that may never come out in the book. 

I don’t know about you, but when I have written some of my brightest and best characters, I’ve known far more about them than hits the page. In fact, I’d say that the characters of mine that have resonated the most with myself and with readers have rich inner lives that sort of just came to me whole. But after listening to Anne, I think that I might start investigating those backstories more and writing things down. These characters deserve a chronicle of their lives, even if it’s just in my head. And the net result, as Anne said, is that the characters will appear richer on the page with more of a real sense of why they do the things they do. So backstory. Yay! But don’t dump it all on the page. 

My view from the spot where I sat to work!

My view from the spot where I sat to work!

The other things that Anne Perry mentioned that hit home and that I really want to investigate more is the idea of plotting from the middle of the story, as she said she learned from James Scott Bell. Apparently he wrote a book about it. I NEED to go find this and read it. The concept is that in every book, your main character has a moment—a moment that usually comes right in the middle of the plot—where they stop and take stock of themselves, reflect, and then change direction mentally. Everything they do after that point is different. That’s the center of your plot right there. I want to read this book and explore more about it, because, well, heck. It just sounds awesome and right and true! So I’ll report back once I read that book. 

But for me, perhaps the biggest lesson of the conference is the thing I suffer with the most when it comes to writing and navigating my way through a world of author friends who are, in some cases, more successful than me. I was a finalist for the RONE Award in the American Historical category, but I didn’t win. That’s generally when the demons of self-esteem and comparison come after me. I’m terrible at comparing myself to other authors—heck, I am and always have been terrible at comparing myself to other PEOPLE and coming up feeling less than nothing—but that way lies madness. 

We are all on this journey of life and writing for different reasons. The world is a diverse and vast place. There is definitely enough room for all sorts of different talent, and at times, reaching any given audience takes a little more patience than at other times. One thing Catherine Bybee said in her keynote address (and let me tell you, I actually got to hang out with her a lot and go to dinner with her, and she’s FABULOUS!) is that it takes a huge amount of patience, time, and persistence to make it in this business. Actually, Tina Folsom said the same thing in her keynote. Patience is the key, but so is writing the next and the next and the next book. And so is being really energetic and aggressive about going after what you want from your career. 

So I KNOW I need to stop constantly comparing myself and my career trajectory to other authors around me. I also know that I’m utterly incapable of doing that, because that urge to compare is so deeply ingrained in my personality and has been from such a young age that it’s not going to ever fully go away. But the most mature thing I can do is to see it, accept it, let it be, and move on. There is no power in this business greater than writing the next book. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of all the things I’ve learned here during InD’Scribe 2015. I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more excellent ideas for blog posts and whip those off at some point. If you ever get a chance to come to this conference, DO! And it you aren’t already subscribed to InD’Tale Magazine, please zip on over and sign up. It’s free!

Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Passion

Sep 02, 2015

It’s Excerpt Wednesday! And that means it’s time for another sneak peek at my next release, Trail of Passion. This is book 7 in the Hot on the Trail series, but I have it on good authority that you can read this one on its own without being lost or confused. So here goes!


“Do you believe in love at first sight?” Lucy asked Estelle and the friend they’d made on the trail, Olivia Walters, a few days later.

“I’m not sure,” Estelle answered as she poured water from a pail into the kettle she was preparing coffee in for the wagon train crew’s breakfast.

“I don’t,” Olivia said. “I certainly believe that a person can like the look of another, but love is something that takes time to grow as you get to know the other person more fully.”

Lucy hummed, debating whether she agreed or not, and continued cracking eggs into the bowl where she worked near Estelle in the crew camp. “I suppose there’s truth to that.”

More than truth. It was silly to think that a few pleasant conversations with Gideon could add up to love so quickly. They’d hardly been three days on the trail. It was far too soon to fancy herself in love with him.

Still, the way he sat and listened to her that first night—until the sun had gone down and Josephine had come by, clearing her throat and hinting that an unchaperoned lady talking with a man after dark was outside of the bounds of propriety, even on the Oregon Trail—warmed her heart. No one listened to her. Ever. Her mother was constantly telling her to hold her tongue, her younger brother, Franklin, had nicknamed her ‘Chatterbox’ just to get under her skin, and her Papa could only answer so many of her questions before he remembered he had something else to do at the other end of the ranch.

“Well, if we don’t believe in love at first sight,” she went on, finishing with the eggs and gathering up the shells to toss, “then do we believe that some people inspire a fondness in others?”

Estelle and Olivia exchanged looks that said Lucy was as transparent as a window.

“Yes, I suppose so,” Estelle answered.

“As long as you’re not too obvious about showing how fond you are of someone,” Olivia added.

Lucy abandoned her pile of eggshells to plant her hands on her fists. “I am not obvious,” she declared, then hesitated. “Am I?”

Another pair of grins passed between Estelle and Olivia.

“I’m sure Gideon enjoys the attention,” Olivia said. “I haven’t seen many other people talking to him so far.”

The three of them turned together toward the small camp Gideon had set up beside his wagon. He was by himself, coaxing a fire into flame, a coffee pot in the grass on one side of the crate where he sat and some strange scientific contraption that Lucy couldn’t begin to identify on the other. He was alone, but he smiled at the fire as he worked, thoughts likely a hundred miles away.

Lucy’s heart gave a quick lurch in her chest.

“He’s a thinker,” she explained to her friends as they returned to their work. “Yesterday at lunch, he told me all about the experiments he’d like to do and about the things he’s invented.”

“I thought you said he was a chemist,” Olivia said.

“He is, but he has other interests as well.” She gathered up the broken eggshells once more and moved to throw them off by the side of the trail. “He showed me a watch that he’s designed to keep track of how many miles we’ve traveled. It works based off of how fast he’s calculated the wagons are moving.”

“Can a watch even do that?” Estelle asked.

“Gideon’s watch can.” Lucy smiled, pride filling her. It was thrilling to feel proud of someone, to count herself as his friend. Heaven only knew that she would never be able to invent anything or think up any sort of idea that would make a single living soul proud. The best she’d do would be to shock people, but at least then they wouldn’t forget her. “He’s making a new leg for Lt. Tremaine,” she added.

“So I hear,” Estelle said. She smiled at the kettle as she nestled it in a bank of coals to heat.

“How generous of him to volunteer his time and his skill that way,” Olivia said.

Lucy brightened. “We should think of some way to thank him. But not offering to clean up his things for him.” She laughed. “I still can’t believe that I accidentally ruined one of his experiments. I’m only glad that it wasn’t something vital. Who knows what I might destroy if I meddle too much in his things.”

She glanced back to Gideon’s camp, but he was nowhere in sight. Disappointment and curiosity swirled through her. His coffee pot was over the fire now and his scientific contraption was still there. So where was he?


There you have it. And best of all, even though Trail of Passion comes out on Monday (September 7th), you can pre-order it right now on Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble!

Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Passion – First Impressions

Aug 26, 2015

It’s Excerpt Wednesday! Yep, I may have been terrible at maintaining my blog this summer (but I’ve just been doing so much traveling!), but at least I’m able to keep up with excerpts from upcoming works. Here’s the continuation of the scene I posted last week. Gideon and Lucy finally meet!


As he set the last of his crates in order, took out the modified watch he’d constructed to keep track of mileage traveled, and closed the tailgate of the wagon, a bubbly, female voice caught his attention.


“Hurry along. My father’s waiting for me to come home to Wyoming, and if we are held up, he’ll have words for all of us. No one holds up Howard Haskell, and no one holds up his daughter.”

Gideon perked up in spite of himself, searching for the source of the voice. When his gaze fell on a spry wisp of a woman—her auburn hair caught up under a fashionable hat and her green dress a bit too sophisticated for the trail—his heart bounced down to his gut and back.

“Yes, Miss Lucy,” one of the wagon train’s crew said as he pushed a trunk into the back of the woman’s wagon.


“I can’t wait to get home,” the woman, Lucy, went on. “I miss my Papa and my Aunt Virginia, and even my bratty little brother, Franklin. When I got Papa’s letter telling me Franklin had been injured, I had to come right away. Mama took the train, but I need more adventure than that. I wish I’d been alive twenty years ago, when the first pioneers came out this way. It would have been dangerous and exciting, don’t you think?”


“Yes, Miss Lucy,” the crew member sighed.


“It’s still dangerous, at least a little bit,” Lucy continued, following the assistant when he finished with her things and tried to move on. They both came closer to where Gideon stood. “I love danger. It makes me feel all shivery inside, like, like….” She shuddered, cheeks flaring with color, and lowered her eyes with a mischievous grin. “Well, never mind what like.”


A rush of unwelcome heat flooded Gideon. Lucy was close enough for him to see the flash in her eyes—a scintillating contrast to her otherwise sweet, virtuous face. One lingering look and he had a hard time believing that she was anything other than innocent, in spite of her provocative speech. His heart hammered… and his stomach pinched with guilt.


“The Indians are still there, after all,” Lucy went on as the crew member tried to get away. “They’re dangerous. And there’s always wild animals. I bet we see a herd of buffalo once we get to the true West. I’ve seen them. They’re everywhere, but not so much as before.”


It wasn’t until Lucy’s gaze zipped across him, stopped, and focused on him that Gideon realized he was staring. Not only that, his mouth had dropped open. Worse, he couldn’t look away. Miss Lucy was beautiful, her delicate features accented by the light of adventure in her eyes. Her auburn hair caught the sunlight and absorbed it, giving her a warm, excited glow. And when she smiled, well, Gideon was as aware as the next man that some chemical reactions went far beyond a laboratory.


A heartbeat later, sense—and shame—caught up with him. He closed his mouth, swallowed, and focused on his watch, adjusting the settings. That didn’t stop Lucy from approaching him.


“Do you think we’ll encounter dangers on the trail?” she asked, skipping nearer with a lightness that spoke of both dexterity and enthusiasm. “I’m certain there are other things besides Indians and wild animals that we should watch out for. My father is always saying that you never know what you’ll find under a rock or around a crook in the creek.” She laughed suddenly, and Gideon’s eyes snapped up to her, round and wary. “I like the way Papa says that. ‘Crook in the creek.’ It has quite a ring to it, don’t you think, Mr.?”


It took Gideon a moment after she stopped speaking to realize she wanted a response. A cold sweat broke out down his back. Aside from the fact that he didn’t deserve to make Miss Lucy’s acquaintance, he’d never had much luck speaking to women before. They weren’t interested in the things he held dear, and since he didn’t have that boldness that other men possessed….


He cleared his throat and stood straighter, forcing himself to focus. “Faraday.” He tucked his watch into his trouser pocket and held out a hand. “Dr. Gideon Faraday.”


When Lucy blinked and stared at his hand, Gideon cursed himself. It was the wrong way for a man to introduce himself to a woman, especially one who appeared to be from a finer class than most. He should have bowed and possibly kissed her hand. He should have warned her to stay away from him. He should have—


She took Gideon’s hand, squeezing it as she shook. Her beautiful, green eyes sparkled as she grinned.


“I approve of men who shake women’s hands,” she said. “It shows a real sense of equality. I can’t abide it when a man snakes his fingers under mine and tries to kiss my knuckles. Kissing knuckles. Can you imagine? Other than the fact that that kind of greeting happens when you first meet someone, who wants their knuckles kissed? I can think of much nicer places to be kissed.”


Gideon choked at her words. His collar—and trousers—were suddenly too tight. He would have pulled away, but Lucy still had his hand trapped in hers.


“Oh,” she gasped, eyes going round. “That doesn’t sound at all proper, does it.” She laughed, pressing her free hand to her chest. “How scandalous of me. But then, I come from a line of scandalous women. You should meet my Aunt Virginia. She would shock the life out of you, I’m sure. She carries a pistol at all times and rides horses like a man. Of course, I can ride horses like a man too.” She winked.


Gideon’s heart slipped that much further out of his ability to control it. If he had a shred of decency left, he would turn and run and spare Lucy the torment of knowing him.


“I should probably let go of your hand now,” she went on. “And, oh! I haven’t even told you my name yet. Here I’ve gone on, talking about danger and Aunt Virginia and horses, and I haven’t even told you my name. Silly. Typical. It’s Lucy Haskell, by the way. Miss Lucy Haskell. My father is Howard Haskell or Wyoming. I’m heading west to go home, which, I suppose, makes me different from just about everyone else on this wagon train.”


At last, Lucy let his hand go. It was a great loss. As great a loss as his loss for words in the face of the avalanche that was Miss Lucy Haskell.


“Move on out, folks,” Pete’s cry sounded over top of the din of wagons and people around them. “The journey to your new life starts now.”


Gideon would have glanced around to see what was going on and if he needed to take any action, but his eyes were locked on Lucy’s smiling face. A blind man could see that she had energy and drive. He may have spent his whole life studying the Laws of Nature, but a whole different law was at work here, one of attraction.


“Miss Lucy,” Pete called from several yards behind him. “Your wagon isn’t going to drive itself.”


“Oh. I’d better go.” Before Gideon could get out another word, Lucy picked up her skirts and scurried back toward her wagon. She glanced over her shoulder at him as she went, though, the green ribbons on her hat fluttering in the breeze.


Gideon blinked. Lucy Haskell was a whirlwind, and it would take him at least a few minutes to digest what had just passed between them.


As he turned toward his wagon and the oxen that were hitched to draw it, his eyes stayed glued to Lucy. One of Pete’s crew members met her at the front of her wagon and handed her a goad, demonstrating how to use it. Lucy nodded and smiled at the man, took the goad, and steered her oxen into place like an expert as soon as she was given the go ahead.


Like a magnet drawn to iron, and against his better judgment, Gideon’s mind shifted into action. He retrieved the goad resting on the seat of his wagon and hurried to bring his oxen around and into place as close to Lucy’s wagon as he could manage. He wasn’t fast enough. One other wagon managed to slip into place in the long line that was forming and stretching out toward the western horizon.


It took Gideon a moment to see that the man driving that wagon only had one leg. The realization caused him to frown. The man was wearing a Union soldier’s uniform and propelling himself forward on crutches, but why would anyone choose to walk the Oregon Trail with only one leg?


As the wagon train pulled away from Independence and out into the vast prairie, Gideon’s mind was filled with all sorts of calculations. He worried about the chemicals in his wagon and reorganized them in his mind for maximum safety. He watched the way the soldier in front of him walked and calculated what it would take to construct a wooden leg to make the man’s journey easier. But above all, he mulled over the problem of whether he dared to get closer to Miss Lucy Haskell or if he would be even more of a villain than he already was for saddling her with someone like him.


And guess what? You can preorder Trail of Passion now at iBooks, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble!


Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Passion – A First Look

Aug 19, 2015

It’s Wednesday! I’m back from the Authors After Dark conference in Atlanta and doing my best to get back on track with writing, revising, and, of course, posting here. What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a sneak peek at what’s coming up next? Here’s a sneak peek at Trail of Passion, Hot on the Trail, Book 7, coming September 7th….


Independence, MO – 1865

Gideon Faraday was unlike the other travelers in the wagon train that was busy forming up around him. He was a scientist, an educated man. He was overdressed in his gray wool trousers and fine vest. At least he’d taken off his jacket so that he could prepare his wagon in his shirtsleeves. He still didn’t blend in with everyone else. Instead of furniture and cooking utensils, his wagon was stacked with small, uniform crates, each packed with glass vials and jars containing chemicals. A hand-cranked generator rested at the front of the wagon bed, near the driver’s seat. He was alone—unmarried and without family. But none of those were the true reasons Gideon wasn’t like any of his fellow pioneers.

Gideon Faraday was a murderer.

“All right, folks. Pack it up so we can move it out,” Pete Evans, the trail boss who would lead them all to Oregon, hollered as he moved between the wagons.

Gideon doubled his efforts to stash his supplies and ongoing experiments in his wagon. It was easy to push and shuffle the crates without thinking about them, but the small, fat satchel that rested on the edge of his tailgate was another story. There simply wasn’t any place safe enough for it, and there was no way to stop its contents from being at the forefront of his thoughts. He picked it up, shifted to the other side of the open wagon bed, reached to put it down, then reconsidered. Light as it was, the satchel was like lead in his hands. With a sigh, he put it back where it had been and pushed a hand through his hair, acid eating at his stomach.

He tried to avoid Pete’s eyes as he walked past, but already Gideon had learned that few things and fewer people escaped Pete’s notice.

“Everything okay here, Dr. Faraday?” Pete asked, strolling to a stop beside the tailgate of Gideon’s wagon.

“Okay,” Gideon repeated. It was enough truth for now. He shifted a crate, darting a quick glance Pete’s way. “I’m a little concerned about bumps and rattling, but the graduate assistants at Princeton did a fine job of securing the glass, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Pete eyed the contents of Gideon’s wagon and rubbed a hand over his face. “You sure none of that is dangerous?”

Gideon shrugged, still reluctant to meet Pete’s eyes. “It can be if tampered with. As long as the chemicals remain separate and in their containers, everything should be fine.”

“Should be?” Pete crossed his arms, looking anything but confident.

Gideon attempted a smile. “The only chemical in my inventory that I plan on using at any point on the journey is chlorine, and only if it becomes absolutely necessary.”

“Chlorine?” Pete repeated.

“Yes.” Gideon nodded, the familiar urge to explain the wonders of science nipping at him. “Chemists have been exploring its use in water purification for decades. It has been surprisingly effective at reducing waterborne disease in highly populated areas, though we’re still not sure why. My plan is to introduce its use out west in the hopes that thousands of families can be spared the troubles of unclean water sources, particularly in newer cities where sanitation is a challenge. I’ve been experimenting with it for years. In fact, part of my graduate work at Princeton was developing….”

He let his words trail away as the memory of what his work had actually produced seized him. How could such good intentions have gone so bad so quickly? Lives lost, science turned on its head, and for what? The only choice he had was to go west, to run away from it all, from the lives he’d taken.

“Dr. Faraday?” Pete shook him out of his thoughts. “Everything all right?”

Gideon cleared his throat, turned toward his wagon, and continued working, avoiding Pete’s concerned glance. “Yes, I’m just distracted thinking about the journey. I’ve never been much further west than Pittsburgh.”

Pete’s expression cleared to a knowing smile. “It’s a big, wide world out there, and we’re going to walk clear across it.” He slapped Gideon on the back—causing Gideon to jump half out of his skin.

The motion also caused Gideon to knock the leather satchel off of the tailgate. It dropped to the ground and flipped open. Stacks of crisp dollar bills spilled onto the grass.

Pete whistled and pushed his hat back as Gideon dove to scrape the cash back together and into the satchel. “That’s quite a haul you’ve got there.”

“Yes.” Gideon cleared his throat, face burning, shoving bills and dirt into the satchel, closing it, and standing. “Payment for a… a job.”

“What kind of job, a bank robbery?” Pete snorted.

Gideon’s eyes flew wide and he choked as he answered, “No, no, nothing like that. Scientific work.” A bank robbery would have been a thousand times less sinful.

“Well.” Pete slapped his back once more. “Looks like science pays better than leading wagons trains.”

“It can,” Gideon answered, though as he tucked the satchel of money between two stacks of crates, he doubted if it should.

“You watch out for that.” Pete nodded to the back of Gideon’s wagon, then moved on. “Load it up, folks. We’re leaving in just a few minutes.”

As soon as Pete had gone, Gideon let out a breath and slumped against the back of his wagon. A fine sweat had broken out on his brow. He reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled out a handkerchief to mop it up. That had been close. Too close. It was one thing to get excited about the things he loved, about the miracles of chemistry and the good it could do for mankind. It was an entirely different thing to slip up and reveal what he’d done, the stain on his soul. The whole point of this journey was to forget those things, to leave the horrors of his past behind him, and to do some good in the world to make up for it. He couldn’t ruin that with a few careless words. The less he said to his fellow travelers the better.


Trail of Passion is coming September 7th! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be alerted as soon as it comes out….