Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Charmed, I'm Sure by Lynda Simmons - Serialized Novella and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $50 Amazon or BN GC to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Enjoy today's episode from the serialized novella "The Ballad of Jimmy James" by Lynda Simmons.

Chapter Two


The morning is warm for May and I wish I’d paid more attention when George arrived. Taken note of what he was wearing in order to gauge my own clothes accordingly. But I’m not about to turn back now. Not with the clock ticking and my mother watching and George undoubtedly on his way up the stairs to my room. Returning now would throw the whole dance out of step and who knows what might happen then.

So I promise myself I’ll take off the sweater when I reach the corner and keep going. Taking care not to walk too quickly or appear too pleased. Doing nothing that might rouse my mother’s curiosity enough to have her calling for George and a cab to follow me. It’s been three months since she abandoned surveillance and I don’t want to give her any reason to doubt that decision.

Far enough along now that she can’t see me, I smile and nod at the neighbours out walking dogs or children or simply themselves. They smile and nod in return but I couldn’t put a name to one of them. Back when I was a kid, we knew everyone on the block and they certainly knew all about us. But we’ve learned to keep to ourselves. The last of the originals in the only house that hasn’t been lovingly restored, and won’t be any time soon. With the exception of the roof and some new weeping tiles, the house is exactly the way it was the day my father died, right down to the jewelry on his dresser and the clothes in his closet. It’s like living in a tomb of my own making, and I expect I’ll die inside it myself one day.

But on a Friday morning, it’s easy to forget all of that and just walk with the sun on my face and the bundle buggy bouncing behind me. I’d forgotten about this weekend’s street festival but as I approach the corner, I can hear music and smell food cooking. The banner strung between the lampposts reads Taste of Europe and I fall into step with the music as I maneuver my bundle buggy around the barricade keeping cars at bay.

The sidewalk is lined with sale racks and bargain tables. Food carts offer everything from crepes to goulash and a beer tent sits smack in the middle of the intersection. Everywhere I look, people are strolling and snacking while buskers dance on stilts or juggle with swords or toss flaming batons to each other. A little farther along, a knot of people are taking pictures of a girl standing on a plastic milk crate, pretending to be one of those fortune tellers in a box. A woman throws money into the hat and the girl turns to face her, moving slowly, mechanically. “Your future is already written,” she says in a heavy Eastern European accent. “Come closer and Madam Zelda will tell you all.”

I shuck off the sweater and stuff it in the bundle buggy while the woman laughs and takes a few steps forward. “You have come to the right place,” the girl says and winks bringing more laughter and a few cat calls from a group of boys who have stopped to watch. But instead of the usual vague pronouncements of trips over water and tall dark strangers, this girl says, “You have a son. Not yet sixteen. His name is William,” and the woman’s laughter fades.

“He is with someone now,” the girl continues. “A girl with fair hair. Pretty, yes, but you do not like her, and with good reason.”

The woman looks back at her friends, uncomfortable, but the girl continues. “Heed my warning, that girl will lead him to trouble.” The fortune teller draws herself up, rotates back to her original position and falls silent. The act is over.

“I knew it,” the woman says to her friends, already pulling out a phone, punching in a number as they walk past me.

The knot of people in front of the fortune teller lingers, but no one throws money into the can and the girl stands perfectly still, not even blinking. A machine, waiting. I’m about to turn away when I hear her call, “You there.” I glance up. Her head is turned my way, face expressionless. She raises one arm, thrusts it out stiffly and I realize she’s pointing at me. “You will face a great challenge today,” she calls and lowers her arm, turns her head and stands absolutely still and silent once again.

“You have to pay to hear the rest,” a young man says to me. “Throw something in the can and she’ll tell you more.”

“I’m not interested in more.” I yank the bundle buggy closer. “Now if you’ll excuse me.”

He doesn’t budge so I wheel the buggy around him and start walking. I glance over my shoulder and the girl’s head turns slowly, her eyes following me. I snap around and keep going. I don’t have time for this. I’m running late as it is and I still have to get to the bank, the bakery, the grocery store two blocks down. But first, I have to make a stop that’s not on the list. A stop that would have my mother following me every week from now on if she ever found out.

I pause near Tom’s Used Books and Records and check behind me out of habit. But a cab couldn’t possibly have followed me today, and George is not one to enjoy a brisk walk, making this the best Friday yet. Moving closer to the shop, I realize the door is closed which is odd enough for a Friday morning, but truly strange with a street festival going on. And why hasn’t he put a sale table of his own outside?

Cupping a hand on the glass, I peer inside. The lights are on, the Open sign turned over, but where is Tom? I try the door, find it unlocked. The bell tinkles when I step inside. The ginger cat looks up from her spot by the cash register and the allegro from Eine kleine Nachtmusik plays. That’s the fourth selection on his Friday playlist so he must have plugged it in a while ago.

“Tom?” I call and drag the bundle buggy inside, park it beside the door. “Tom? It’s Jimmy James.”

No response so I walk a little deeper into the shop. Past the shelves of former bestsellers and books that are new to his shop this week. Thrillers, romances, a Stephen King I would love to read.

Farther along is a table lined with plastic bins full of paperbacks and a sign reading Loonie Bins – a buck a book.

“Are the Loonie Bins for the sidewalk sale?” I call. “I can’t stay long, but I can help you get them outside if you like.”

I turn into the Horror and Sci-Fi aisle and that’s when I see him, lying face down on the floor beside the ladder.

Laugh Out Loud Funny...With Just a Touch of Magic

One minute Maxine Henley is the happy bride-to-be and the next she’s the girl who gets dumped over the phone. Max has never believed in magic and fairy’s tales, but if wearing a love charm can warm her fiancĂ©’s cold feet, she’s happy to stuff that little wooden heart next to her own and wait. The charm came with a promise that the right man will find her, guaranteed, but how can that happen when her teenage crush Sam O’Neal keeps getting in the way!

About the Author: Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

www.LyndaSimmons.com | Facebook | Twitter


Buy the book at Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Perfect Fit by Lynda Simmons - Serialized Novella and Giveaway


,br> This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Enjoy today's chapter of "Good Works" a serialized novella from Lynda Simmons:

Chapter Three


You don’t spend years working in conflict zones without learning one of life’s great lessons: never let the bad guy take you anywhere. So when he started dragging me toward the dumpster, I jerked back against him quick and hard. Throwing him off balance long enough to stomp on his foot while reaching behind me for a fistful of something.

“Crazy bitch,” he muttered, his hold loosening when my fingers locked in his hair.

“Thank you,” I said, throwing myself back again, toppling us both in a heap beside the dumpster. I rolled to the side, tried to get to my feet, to run away, but a hand shot out and grabbed my ankle. So I twisted round and kicked out with the other foot, connecting with a jaw that I recognized. The original Bike Thief, returned to the scene of the crime.

“You,” I said.

“I can explain,” he answered, earning himself another kick in the jaw.

The girl dropped the backpack, took a few steps toward us. “Finn, are you okay.”

“I’m fine,” he grunted as he fought to hold both of my ankles down. “Just get out of here.”

“Your name is Finn?” I muttered, working one foot free long enough to do some damage to his shoulder.

“You don’t like it?” he asked, rising up on his knees, finally getting the leverage he needed to avoid another kick.

“Sounds fake,” I said, and sat up. Took a swing at him instead which brought the girl running.

I ducked my head, certain she was going to cuff me a good one to help him out. But instead of encouraging her, the Bike Thief said, “Aisha, please, there’s no more time.”

And just like that, she turned around and headed back to the bike. My bike.

“Don’t you dare,” I hollered and both thieves winced.

“Will you shut up for a minute,” Finn growled.

“Will you let go for a minute?” I said and was about to holler again, louder this time, when another voice joined the conversation.

“Aisha,” a girl called. “What are you doing?”

Relief rushed through me. Finally a witness, someone to call 911. But the cry for help froze on my lips when the junior bike thief’s face drained of colour and her body went perfectly still.

“Aisha,” the voice called again and the thief lifted her chin. Looked up at an open window on the second floor where another girl in a hijab, periwinkle blue, stood equally still, watching.

“Aisha, don’t listen to her,” Finn said, releasing my feet and getting to his own. “You need to leave.”

But Aisha stayed put, eyes welling with tears and locked on the window. “Zara, I’m begging you.”

The girl in the window tilted her head to the side. “Aisha’s outside,” she shouted. “She’s running away.” The periwinkle hijab disappeared from the window. “Hassan, did you hear me?” she called her voice fading as she ran to spread the news.

“I have to go back,” Aisha said, dropping the bike, heading to the door. “I can’t do this.”

“Yes you can,” Finn said and picked her up. Ran with her to the fence on the other side of the alley, a six foot wall of pressure treat with another foot of lattice on top of that. “Aisha, there’s nothing for you here and know it. “

He set her down by the fence and when she didn’t run, he linked his hands together to give her a boost.

“Hassan, where are you?” drifted into the alley.

“It’s now or never,” Finn said.

Neither he nor Aisha noticed me righting the bike, getting on. Preparing to ride off and spend this beautiful sunny day at the beach while Zara hollered for the elusive Hassan and Aisha struggled to get a leg over the lattice. Whatever was going on here was none of my business, and my daughter must be getting worried, wondering where the heck I was.

I pushed off, rose up on the pedals. Got as far as the back door to the neighbouring shop when Finn called out, “Please. Don’t go.”

I should have ignored him. Should have kept the bike pointed at the street and pedalled for all I was worth. But the audacity of the words, and my own ridiculous curiosity, made me stop, look back. “Why on earth not?”

“Because she needs help.” He was at the fence, Aisha’s backpack in hand. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but she’s only seventeen and she’s terrified.” He tossed the pack over and looked back at me. “She knows where to go, but I told her to wait a moment because I’m afraid that if she heads out alone, she’ll lose her nerve and come back.“

“So you want me to help some girl run away from home?”

“I want you to help her escape.”

“Escape what?”

“Hassan!” the periwinkle informer shouted. “You have to come upstairs now.”

Finn sighed and glanced back at the door of AK Framing and Shoe Repair. “A marriage she doesn’t want and a future in a country where girls like her endure lives you can’t imagine.”

I almost smiled. “You’d be surprised what I can imagine.”

Nathan and I had watched scenes like this play out more times than I cared to remember. Had grown weary of seeing girls younger than Aisha given to men older than Finn. And in spite of every excuse we’d been given, we never could understand the complicity of mothers, aunts and sisters who did nothing to stop it. When the girl inside the shop shouted, “Hassan, your father will kill us both if she gets away,” I knew Finn was right. There was nothing for that girl here. And it would be a while before I got to the beach.

“Okay.” I wheeled my bike behind a dumpster and locked it to a downspout. “What do you need?”

MediaKit_BookCover_PerfectFitFast-paced, funny and incurably romantic

Rachel Banks has never believed in magic or moonlight, but if she’d thought that putting a piece of wedding cake under her pillow would conjure up a nightmare in the form of blue-eyed charmer Mark Robison, she’d have stuffed that cake into her mouth instead! Mark is only in Madeira Beach for some much needed R&R and his new neighbour is not the kind of woman made for vacation memories. But there’s something about the incurable romantic that just keeps drawing him back.

Jennifer Crusie. Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Lynda Simmons? Oh, yeah!


About the Author:
Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

Amazon Author Page ~ Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter


Buy the book at Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 16, 2015

Serialized Novella by Lynda Simmons: VBT Just the Way You Aren't


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly drawn commenter will receive a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If this is your first time checking out Lynda's serialized novella, you can catch up on Lynda's Facebook Page. Read today's section:

Part Five: Bernard


“The meeting will come to order,” Old Tom calls. “Bernard, you have the floor.”

I do a quick head count. Everyone is gathered here in the basement, including the Calico twins, a testament to Old Tom’s dogged determination. If you’re familiar with the phrase ‘herding cats,’ you’ll appreciate the daily challenges I face as leader of this colony. Ophelia’s death has made everything that much more complicated. It’s still hard to believe she’s gone, her body twisted and motionless upstairs in the foyer. Grief threatens to swamp me at every turn, but the survival of this colony is my responsibility. And with all the doors locked and no idea when rescue will come, the hard work is about to begin.

“I’ll start with a few words about Ophelia and our colony. In recent months our population has grown to nine –”

“Ten if you count the Newcomer,” Scruffy calls, referring to the black cat crouching in a darkened corner.

“You can’t count him,” one of the Calico twins says.

“Because he killed Ophelia,” the other one adds.

“With a lot of help from Boots,” says Old Tom.

The co-accused peeks out from his own dark corner. “It was an accident.”

“You were under her feet,” Tom growls. “How was that an accident?”

“Because there was no intent,” Fluffy says. “That’s why neither Newcomer nor Boots can be held responsible.”

“As I was saying,” I shout. “This colony was everything to Ophelia, a woman with a lot of love to give. Our tribute to that love will be our survival, but to manage that we need a plan for food, water and sanitation. Annie has inventoried all of the food and will give us her recommendations. Annie, please.”

“I honestly thought there was more,” she says. “But I can only find one bag of crunchies and a few bags of tuna treats. It’s not a lot, but if we limit ourselves to one small meal a day, we can make it last a while.”

“Hold on,” Scruffy says. “How small is small? And who gets to decide?”

Scruffy has always been rough around the edges, but this confrontational side is new, and disappointing.

“We’ll leave that to Annie,” I say. “We don’t know how long this situation will last, but we do know that we can trust Annie to be fair.” I look over at Sneaky Manx. “Which brings us to the matter of water.”

“I can flush,” she says. “We’re good.”

“As long as the bill is paid,” Newcomer puts in.

“So what if it’s not?” Tom says. “They’ll come to shut the water off, see Ophelia, and bang, instant rescue.”

“Complete with instant animal control trucks,” Newcomer says.

“Moving on to sanitation,” I say. “Scruffy, what are your recommendations?”

“We got three wading pools full of litter. Ophelia cleaned them all the night before the accident, so we started from a good place. If we all use the same one till it’s full, and then we all move on to the next, we’ll have clean litter a while longer.” He looks up at me. “Course if no one’s eating much, it could last forever.”

“Are you looking for trouble?” Old Tom says and smacks Scruffy in the head.

Scruffy arches his back in response and I would be happy to let Tom take that ragamuffin down a peg, remind him where he sits in the grand scheme of things. But Newcomer leaps out and puts himself between them.

“Food rationing is our only option,” he says to Scruffy. “Conserve your energy for important things.”

“Newcomer’s right,” I say. “We need to work together, not fight each other.”

Tom backs down because that’s what I want. But if Scruffy steps out of line again, it’s unlikely Newcomer will be around to help him out.

“Scruffy, I like your idea,” I continue. “Let us know which pool to start with and we’ll get the system rolling. As for the food rationing, Annie will create a schedule so everyone knows when it’s their turn.” I get to my feet. “That about wraps things up.”

“What about a way out?” one of the Calico twins asks.

“Newcomer opened the window,” the other says.

I glance over at Sneaky Manx. “Why wasn’t I informed?

“Because the twins exaggerate,” she says. “He only got the window down a little bit. Nowhere near enough for anyone to get out.”

“But my idea is solid,” Newcomer insists. “I just need more bodies.”

“What he needs is food,” Fluffy says. “And so does Boots. I assume they’ll be included in the feeding schedule.”

I sigh. “Unfortunately, not until we establish their guilt or innocence.”

“When will that happen?”

“It’s on my list—”

“You want Newcomer’s help, yet you’re starving him.”

“We could give them both a little each day,” Annie offers. “Just to keep–”

Tom shakes his head. “Nothing until after the vote.”

“So let’s vote now,” Fluffy says. “All who agree it was an accident—”

I leap in front of her. “Do you want to be left off the schedule too?”

“No.” Newcomer nudges her aside and stands toe-to-toe with me. “I’ll keep you up-to-date on my progress. But I’ll need that help.”

I motion to Boots. “You’re with Newcomer. Everyone else, see Annie about the schedule.”

Annie heads up the stairs to the kitchen and the rest follow, the Calico twins bringing up the rear.

“Girls,” I say softly. “I’d like you to come with me.”

I lead them along the hall to my private quarters in the rec room. They don’t need to be told to wait at the door. It’s the first thing you learn when you get here – no one gets into my quarters without an invitation.

Grabbing a bag of treats from behind the La-z-boy, I head back out to the hall. Rip open the bag and let snacks spill onto the floor in front of me. “You girls interested in doing a little undercover work?” I slide a few treats toward them. “Quietly, of course.”

What happens when an everyday Cinderella makes a play for the prince?

A moment of madness. That’s all muralist Sunny Anderson expected when she donned a glittering mask and a fabulous gown to crash the gala at Manhattan’s newest boutique hotel. Project manager Michael Wolfe has no idea that the beauty staring up at the mural on the ballroom ceiling is also the artist who painted it. He’s captivated and she’s willing, but when their moment of madness on the sofa in his suite comes to an abrupt end, his princess is off and running, leaving nothing behind but a pair of earrings. He’s determined to find her again, but all he has to do is look closer at the woman painting the mural in his office to see that the one he needs is standing right in front of him.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Sunny’s feet moved of their own accord and she stared straight ahead, horrified and thrilled at the same time. Wondering what she was playing at and not at all surprised when he fell into step beside her.

This was why she wasn’t ready to leave, she realized. She was enjoying herself too much. Enjoying the fact that as Sonja she could do anything or say anything. Be shocking and sexy, and make Michael Wolfe sit up and take notice.

She glanced over at him as they walked, feeling beauti­ful, powerful, but most of all desirable. Because if that wasn’t hunger she saw in those dark eyes, then she’d been out of circulation for far too long.

Which was a distinct possibility given that her last sexual encounter had been almost a year ago in the back of Vince Cerqua’s convertible when the top wasn’t the only thing that wouldn’t go up. She’d spent the drive home assuring him that it happened to men all the time; at least that was what she heard in the tearoom.

She felt her face warm, knowing instinctively that Michael’s top would never let him down. Not that she wanted to find out. Not really. Not now, at any rate.

“Where will you be going in the morning?” he asked.

“New Jersey.”

He drew his head back and she laughed. “There’s a theater group I’m rather fond of. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. I’m just a wanderer. Never in one place long enough to plant a garden as they say.”

“Is that what you’d like to do? Plant a garden?”

“Yes,” she said, slipping in a touch of Sunny, but staying true to Sonja. “Of course, with so many emerging artists, I’m not thinking about that right now.”

He stopped and took her hand. “What are you thinking about?”

Trouble. And sex. Mostly sex. For all the good it did her.

Truth to tell, Sunny wasn’t the kind to have a one-night stand. She was conservative in her thinking and cautious when it came to matters of the heart. She was the kind who delivered hampers at Christmas, painted faces at the community center on Halloween, and made sure her organ-donor card was signed. No question about it, she was Sunny the good: Balanced. Friendly. And utterly predictable.

But Sonja? Now there was a real vixen. A woman who traveled the world, took risks every day, and was never, ever predictable. It seemed a shame to make her leave the ball so early when she was only in town for one night. And Sunny had the rest of her life to spend being good.

Michael ran his thumb across hers and the pull was stron­ger than ever, bringing her back a step. After all, it wasn’t as though he was a total stranger, some masked man she picked up at the sushi bar. This was Michael Wolfe, Beast of Brighton, Terror of the Tradesmen. And she already knew he looked good without a shirt.

Maybe Hugh was right. Maybe a moment of madness was good for the soul.

The music changed again, the singer launching into a slow, sultry torch song that begged an answer to the question women had been asking for centuries: what is it with men and commitment?

Sunny had wrestled with that issue herself for years, convinced that the boy she’d loved too much would come back for her one day. Pale and contrite, wanting nothing more than to love her the way he should have all along. But commitment wasn’t on her mind at all when she twined her fingers with Michael’s and gave him Sonja’s best come-hither smile. “I’m thinking we should go to your place,” she said, and was sure she was floating as they headed for the door.


About the Author:
Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat - a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she's not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she's found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

Amazon Author Page ~ Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter


Buy the book at Amazon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Episode 8: A Flash Fiction Story by Lynda Simmons, author of LOVE, ALBERT

12_8 VBT_TourBanner_LoveAlbert copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance at winning a $50 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner above to see the rest of the stops.

Lynda Simmons' flash fiction episode eight is now available. Watch out for episode nine tomorrow at Flirting with Romance

Flash Fiction # 8
Day of the Dead (With Interim Director, Josh Smythe)


“What time is it?” Mr. Bailey asks.

He’s the husband of the deceased. First name, Jeff, retired teacher.

“Ten fifteen, sir,” I say and extend my hand. “Josh Smythe, Interim Director. If you need anything at all today, just let me know.”

He nods and looks past me to the rows of people gathered in the Music Room where the Celebration of Life for his wife, Bernice, will be getting underway shortly.

“Your wife was clearly popular here at Willow Tree,” I say and give him a small empathetic smile.

“Sure,” he says and turns, watching someone sign the guest book. There is no casket here, nor ashes nor anything else depressing. Just Dixieland favourites in the air and photographs of Bernice on an easel. High school graduation, wedding day, the birth of her first child. Pictures that bring her life to life, reminding us that she was more than a senior with dementia.

Our company has been organizing Celebrations like this for years. The families are always delighted with the results and find the fee more than reasonable. In light of recent events, however, today’s Celebration is provided free of charge for the Rutledge family, including refreshment table, guest book and three vases bursting with the red roses Bernice loved. Instagram and Facebook have all reacted positively to the shots and Twitter is coming around. At last check, even @Hangemhigh was giving us props for kindness and positivity. Yet Bernice’s husband seems untouched, distracted. In fairness, I suppose I would be too if my wife had been found frozen to death in the snow.

As Interim Director of Willow Tree Long Term Care, my main job right now is damage control. Getting out ahead of yesterday’s fiascos to direct the public discussion and keep a couple of tragic accidents from blossoming into a full blown public relations crisis.

Since the news broke yesterday morning, I’ve been living on Twitter and Facebook, answering accusations and accepting responsibility every time my phone vibrates.

Willow Tree Cares is the message we want to get across, as well as corporate’s official stand: we had no idea that former administrator Gina Baron was so deeply troubled.

Troubled? She’s a bonafide nut job that one. Drawers full of candles, strings of pearls in every pocket and more pictures of her mother than can possibly be healthy. I heard she was in some kind of trance when they found her. On her knees, weeping, begging her mother for forgiveness. Took cold water in the face to snap her out of it.

Naturally, rumours started right away. Drugs, alcohol, sado-masocism you name it she was supposedly into it. But I don’t trade in rumours, just the truth as we would like it to be known. And our truth is that Gina Baron is undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

Maybe she shoved Mrs. Rutledge out the door, and took Mr. Bailey down to the cellar as well. The world may not know the truth for years, but they definitely know that a Celebration of Life will be held for Rick Bailey as soon as we have the body back.

“Mr. Rutledge, would you like anything before we begin?” I ask. “We offer gluten-free, dairy-free and nut free choices, all in bite-size portions and prepared right here in our kitchen.”

“Call me Jeff,” he says. “And stop trying to sell me on this.”

He heads back along the hall to where the local reporters lurk. Letting them in speaks to transparency, and the CEO is conducting a press conference this afternoon anyway. Making it clear that we’re co-operating fully with the on-going investigation and that improvements to security are already underway.

We need to reassure not only the families of our residents that Willow Tree is a safe and happy place, but also the families of those with loved ones on our waiting list. And more importantly, the investors who had the misfortune to be here during yesterday’s events.

Fortunately, I convinced them to come back this morning, to see for themselves the strength and resilience of the Willow Tree brand. I seated both of them not fifteen minutes ago, and am pleased to see them enjoying the refreshment table as they wait. Willow Tree will get through this, is the take away for today.

A line of residents shuffles toward the door. “Come in,” I say. “And enjoy the buffet.”

Over their heads I notice Mr. Rutledge, Jeff, isn’t with the press after all. He’s talking to the wife of the guy who died in the basement. Anna Bailey. Husband, Rick. Cause of death, unknown.

“Good to see you again,” a woman says to me and extends her hand. “I’m Joyce. The Bingo Lady? I’d like to speak to you once more about continuing the bingo games —”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “We knew Gina was running unsanctioned programs for a while, but you’ll understand that everything has to be tighter now. Of course, you’re welcome at the Celebration. I’m sure you knew Bernice well.”

She says nothing, just moves past me and squeezes into a row as the CEO signals that we’re about to begin.

Anna and Jeff are heading back this way. They’re both smiling, and their shoulders are touching as they walk. The romantic in me hopes that something is going on there. The cynic suspects that they’re pleased to be free of their spouses, and both agree we could have charged for the refreshments at least.

I’m composing a tweet about love and eternity when someone races past me. It’s one of the investors, pale and sweating and heading for the bathroom. A woman also pushes past me, heading for the ladies room. The old man behind her isn’t as quick. He throws up in a potted plant.

I turn back to the room. A stampede is heading straight for me.

“What is this?” I shout.

“Food poisoning,” a nurse shouts back.

And my twitter feed explodes all over me.

12_8 love BookCover_LoveAlbertSometimes all love needs is a road trip, a rubber chicken and a touch of magic

Vicky Ferguson loves her husband Reid, always has, always will. But with two kids to think about, it’s time for the free-wheeling, sports car loving pilot to put his feet on the ground and lay down some roots. Reid can’t imagine life without Vicky but neither can he see himself pushing a lawn mower or driving a mini-van. They’re on track to a divorce neither one wants until a last request from beloved Uncle Albert puts them on the road together one last time.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Which brings us to the issue at hand,” the lawyer said and opened a file. “I have here the last will and testament of Albert Ferguson. Handwritten but perfectly legal.” He leaned down and picked up Albert’s old leather suitcase. It was the only thing the old man ever carried – the true master of travelling light. Lyle set the case on the desk, undid the straps and slid back the zipper. Reached inside and came up with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, complete with bulbous pink nose, bushy eyebrows, and a formidable mustache.

Reid sat forward. “Not the glasses,” he said, a smile already tugging at his lips.

Lyle nodded solemnly and put them on, carefully adjusting the nose over his own before picking up the paper again. The lawyer’s delivery was perfectly straight, if a bit nasal. “I, Albert John Ferguson, being of sound mind and body— ”

Reid glanced over at Vicky. She was staring at the lawyer, eyes wide, lips pinched tightly together, holding back her laughter.

“Do hereby bequeath all my worldly goods to my favorite nephew and niece, Reid Allan Ferguson and Victoria Ann Ferguson, to be used as they see fit. This includes one hand buzzer, one whoopee cushion, one pair of Groucho glasses.” He reached into the suitcase again. “One rubber chicken –”

“I’ll take that.” Vicky’s face turned pink when the lawyer paused and looked at her over the nose of the glasses. “For the kids,” she added, and turned to Reid. “Unless you want it.”

“Not at all.” He pointed to the suitcase. “But I’ve got dibs on the fl y-in-the-ice-cube.”

“One fly-in-the-ice-cube,” Lyle continued, and set it in front of Reid. “One can of worms—”

“Snakes,” Reid cut in. “They’re snakes.”

The lawyer slid the can toward him and Reid popped the lid. Three long colorful snakes sprang from the tin and flew over the desk, squeaking as they bounced against the walls. “They were always his favorite.” Reid smiled at Vicky. “Do you mind if I take them?”

She held up the whoopee cushion. “Not as long as I can have this,” she said, and Reid understood why Albert had loved her, too.

“You can go through the rest on your own later,” Lyle said, taking off the glasses and setting them aside. “But in return for his worldly goods, Albert has a favor to ask.”

Reid raised his head. “A favor?”

“More of a decree really.” Lyle cleared his throat and resumed reading from the will. “In return for my worldly goods, Reid and Vicky must promise to take my remains to Seaport, Oregon. ”

The chicken’s head bobbed as she sat up straighter. “But I thought he’d already been buried.”

“Not quite.” Lyle lifted a plain white shoebox out of the suitcase and set it on the desk in front of them. “He’s been waiting for you.”

Reid stared at the box. “That’s Albert?”

“Ashes to ashes.” The lawyer picked up the box. “I know it’s not much to look at, but it’s practical, sturdy, and holds up to five pounds of loved one, no problem.” He looked from Reid to Vicky. “The point is Albert didn’t want a fancy urn because he wasn’t planning to spend much time in it anyway.”

Reid shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

Lyle smiled. “Your Uncle Albert wants to fly one last time.”

12_8 love AuthorPhoto_LyndaSimmonsAbout the Author:Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat - a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she's not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she's found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lynda-Simmons/e/B001KI3Z4O

http://www.lyndasimmons.com/
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/958842.Lynda_Simmons
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynda-Simmons-Author/149740745067442
https://twitter.com/LyndaMSimmons

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Friday, December 12, 2014

A Special Flash Fiction Installment from Lynda Simmons, author of LOVE, ALBERT

12_8 VBT_TourBanner_LoveAlbert copy

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance at winning a $50 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner above to see the rest of the stops.

Lynda Simmons' flash fiction episode five is now available. Watch out for episode six on Monday at Marlow Kelly

Flash Fiction # 5
Happy Trails
(With Nurse Dylan Feeney)


“What time is it?” Grace asks. “Four o’clock,” she continues, answering her own question on her way into Mr. Bailey’s room for the third time this morning.

“Dylan,” the doctor says.

“On it,” I say, happy to escape both files and the front desk for even a moment.

On any other day, he wouldn’t have sent anyone after her. Willow Tree Long Term Care is small and expensive with a carefully cultivated relaxed atmosphere. Lavender scents the air, music plays constantly and residents wander through each others’ rooms at will. Opening closets, fishing through drawers, even carting stuff away. That’s why important items are stored on upper shelves and everything else is labeled. Eventually, stuff finds its way back to where it belongs. No harm, no foul – as good a philosophy as any in a place where no one gets better and the days all blend together.

This isn’t where I saw myself after graduation. Dylan Feeney, Male Nurse, was heading to Africa or Micronesia, someplace where happy endings are only a vaccination away. But then I met the doctor. He’s older, sure, but we hit it off, had more than drinks. When I talked about booking a ticket to Nairobi, he offered me a job, full time with a good salary. He talks a good line and before long, the booming voice of my student debt drowned out the whispers of my heart. So here I am, chasing Grace instead of malaria and fraternizing with a staff member in secret. Not quite the life I imagined, but his place is nice and there’s nobility in caring for those who can’t care for themselves. And I don’t tell anyone that I still think about those happy endings now and then.

“What time is it?” Grace asks when I step into the room. “Four o’clock,” she says, to no one in particular.

She hasn’t rifled the dresser or even peeked in the closet. She’s intent on only thing – touching the windows, ensuring they’re closed. Or perhaps searching for one that’s open, I can’t tell, but she’s been at it for days. Inspecting every window and door in the place, a woman on a mission and normally left alone to amuse herself. But this morning, Rick Bailey’s room is out of bounds.

He was on death’s door again last night and his wife, Anna has been here since midnight. She could have gone home when he rallied around five a.m. Or when he had oatmeal at seven. Definitely when he was taken for his bath at nine. But she’s still in there, slumped in a chair, staring at the phone in her hand. And the last thing she needs is Grace coming and going.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Bailey.” I head toward Grace. “I’ll try to keep her occupied.”

“Don’t bother.” Anna looks over at me. “She’s not hurting anything.”

Grace ignores me and Mrs. Bailey seems sincere. It’s back to the files for me. “Can I get you anything before I go, then?”

“A handful of sleeping pills? Perhaps two?”

I open my mouth and she holds up a hand. “Dylan, I’m kidding.” She sighs and sets the phone on the table beside her. “I doubt Rick could swallow them anyway.”

I step closer. “Mrs. Bailey, I know last night was difficult –”

“Trust me, Son, we left Difficult a while back and have been firmly mired in Impossible for some time now.” She gets to her feet, crosses to the bed. “But the good news is that he’s having fewer lucid moments. Fewer times when he looks me straight in the eye and says something that tells me he’s there and he’s listening.” She plumps the pillow. “And that’s a blessing because those damn moments keep you hoping and bringing in pictures and telling stories. Believing that if you just try a little harder, somehow things will work out.”

She glances back at the phone and I know I should leave it alone, get back to the desk, tell a counsellor to come on down. But her face is pale and her hands are shaking and if the Director wants to add this to my growing list of infractions, so be it.

“Tell me about the last time he had one of those moments,” I say and smile when she looks over. “Was it like in that movie?”

She laughs. “God no,” she says and is about to elaborate when Joyce, the Bingo Lady bustles in with her cards and dabbers. “How is everyone this frosty Friday?”

Anna glances over. Smiles. “About the same. You?”

Older than most of the residents, Bingo Lady still runs, practices yoga and volunteers here every day. A poster for the perfect retirement and a favourite with the families. “If you’re here for Grace,” she says to me, “don’t worry. I’m taking her to bingo.”

“What time is it?” Grace asks.

“Time to go,” Joyce says, and turns to Anna. “I’m picking up Bernice along the way, just so you know.”

It’s no secret that Anna and Bernice’s husband, Jeff, have been seeing each other. And I wonder now if Bingo Lady played Cupid.

“See you later,” Joyce says and takes Grace’s arm, motions me to follow her out the door. Once in the hall, she lowers her voice. “I know you mean well,” she says. “But getting her to talk about Rick won’t help her. Anna’s finally moving on, coming back to the land of the living again.”

“But he’s still her husband.”

Joyce leans closer, whispers in my ear. “He’s a potted plant Dear, just like the rest of them. If you want to help, be happy that he’ll be dead soon, before she starts to hate him.” She straightens and draws Grace closer. Gives her a bright smile. “Bingo awaits.”

“What time is it?” Grace asks then turns suddenly. Grabs my arm and looks straight into my eyes. “It’s time to go,” she says and every hair on my body stands straight up.

12_8 love BookCover_LoveAlbertSometimes all love needs is a road trip, a rubber chicken and a touch of magic

Vicky Ferguson loves her husband Reid, always has, always will. But with two kids to think about, it’s time for the free-wheeling, sports car loving pilot to put his feet on the ground and lay down some roots. Reid can’t imagine life without Vicky but neither can he see himself pushing a lawn mower or driving a mini-van. They’re on track to a divorce neither one wants until a last request from beloved Uncle Albert puts them on the road together one last time.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Which brings us to the issue at hand,” the lawyer said and opened a file. “I have here the last will and testament of Albert Ferguson. Handwritten but perfectly legal.” He leaned down and picked up Albert’s old leather suitcase. It was the only thing the old man ever carried – the true master of travelling light. Lyle set the case on the desk, undid the straps and slid back the zipper. Reached inside and came up with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, complete with bulbous pink nose, bushy eyebrows, and a formidable mustache.

Reid sat forward. “Not the glasses,” he said, a smile already tugging at his lips.

Lyle nodded solemnly and put them on, carefully adjusting the nose over his own before picking up the paper again. The lawyer’s delivery was perfectly straight, if a bit nasal. “I, Albert John Ferguson, being of sound mind and body— ”

Reid glanced over at Vicky. She was staring at the lawyer, eyes wide, lips pinched tightly together, holding back her laughter.

“Do hereby bequeath all my worldly goods to my favorite nephew and niece, Reid Allan Ferguson and Victoria Ann Ferguson, to be used as they see fit. This includes one hand buzzer, one whoopee cushion, one pair of Groucho glasses.” He reached into the suitcase again. “One rubber chicken –”

“I’ll take that.” Vicky’s face turned pink when the lawyer paused and looked at her over the nose of the glasses. “For the kids,” she added, and turned to Reid. “Unless you want it.”

“Not at all.” He pointed to the suitcase. “But I’ve got dibs on the fl y-in-the-ice-cube.”

“One fly-in-the-ice-cube,” Lyle continued, and set it in front of Reid. “One can of worms—”

“Snakes,” Reid cut in. “They’re snakes.”

The lawyer slid the can toward him and Reid popped the lid. Three long colorful snakes sprang from the tin and flew over the desk, squeaking as they bounced against the walls. “They were always his favorite.” Reid smiled at Vicky. “Do you mind if I take them?”

She held up the whoopee cushion. “Not as long as I can have this,” she said, and Reid understood why Albert had loved her, too.

“You can go through the rest on your own later,” Lyle said, taking off the glasses and setting them aside. “But in return for his worldly goods, Albert has a favor to ask.”

Reid raised his head. “A favor?”

“More of a decree really.” Lyle cleared his throat and resumed reading from the will. “In return for my worldly goods, Reid and Vicky must promise to take my remains to Seaport, Oregon. ”

The chicken’s head bobbed as she sat up straighter. “But I thought he’d already been buried.”

“Not quite.” Lyle lifted a plain white shoebox out of the suitcase and set it on the desk in front of them. “He’s been waiting for you.”

Reid stared at the box. “That’s Albert?”

“Ashes to ashes.” The lawyer picked up the box. “I know it’s not much to look at, but it’s practical, sturdy, and holds up to five pounds of loved one, no problem.” He looked from Reid to Vicky. “The point is Albert didn’t want a fancy urn because he wasn’t planning to spend much time in it anyway.”

Reid shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

Lyle smiled. “Your Uncle Albert wants to fly one last time.”

12_8 love AuthorPhoto_LyndaSimmonsAbout the Author:Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat - a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she's not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she's found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lynda-Simmons/e/B001KI3Z4O

http://www.lyndasimmons.com/
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/958842.Lynda_Simmons
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynda-Simmons-Author/149740745067442
https://twitter.com/LyndaMSimmons

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flash Fiction from Lynda Simmons, author of LOVE, ALBERT

Enjoy this third segment of the flash fiction story written by Lynda Simmons. You can follow the story on the stops here: Love, Albert Book Tour Posts.

THREE
Ain’t Love Grand
(With Jeff Sanderson)


“What time is it?” my wife asks.

“Breakfast time,” I tell her and take her arm. “Shall we go into the dining room?”

But still Bernice resists and I look over at Edna’s side of the room. The curtain around the bed is drawn. The doctor is in there along with a nurse, Edna’s daughter, Janice and her ex, Marty. Their two kids are slouched in the chairs in the corner, staring at the floor, saying nothing while a man I don’t recognize paces in the hall. Janice’s boyfriend perhaps, and good for her. People aren’t meant to be alone.

“If you have any more questions,” the doctor is saying. “Come to my office. And again, I’m very sorry for your loss.”

Edna passed away last night. I don’t know the cause. She always looked healthy enough to me, sitting by the front door, shouting every time the doctor went by. It’s odd to think of that spot being empty now.

“I’m so sorry about your mom,” the nurse is saying. “Please let me know if you need assistance in gathering up her things.”

The doctor steps out from behind the curtain and I look away, acutely aware that I shouldn’t be witness to any of this.

“Morning, Jeff,” he says as he walks to the door.

“Isn’t it a lovely day,” Bernice sings, her smile bright and vacant. “Your room is all ready.”

Edna’s grandchildren look over. “I’m sorry,” I say and try to coax my wife to follow the doctor. But the Bingo Lady, Joyce, has arrived, distracting Bernice once again.

“Come in, come in,” she says. “Do you have a reservation, dear?”

“I do,” the Bingo Lady says. “And don’t you look lovely this morning. “ She smiles at me. “Bingo at ten in the common room.”

“She’ll be there,” I say, watching her step aside so the doctor can pass.

“Who died and made you king,” someone hollers.

The doctor jerks around, then heads off in the opposite direction, moving quickly but followed by that voice all the same. “I know who you are.”

The words might have belonged to Edna but that voice is strictly Grace, the woman in the next room. A friend of Edna’s from way back, as I understand it.

She walks briskly past the door, chasing the doctor. “I know what you’re doing,” she yells.

Does Grace understand that Edna is gone? Is this some sort of tribute?

I know only too well that lucid moments can be magical, giving those of us on the outside a glimpse of the person we knew, the one we loved. I hope that’s what this is for Grace, a moment of clarity for a dear friend. But even if it’s simple mimicry it makes me smile. And wonder if the good doctor really is up to something.

“Such terrible news,” the bingo lady is saying. She’s behind the curtain now too. “Your mother was a joy to know. A real gem at the bingo table.”

“I didn’t realize she played,” Janice says, her voice cracking.

“You mustn’t be hard on yourself,” Bingo Lady says, her tone soothing, just this side of patronizing. I’ve never cared for her myself, but I respect the work she does, coming in five days a week to hold bingo games that no one here can really play. She’s a retired therapist of some sort and brings along her own specially designed bingo cards and enough dabbers for all. The program has grown so popular she doesn’t finish until nearly noon now.

Bernice seems to enjoy the games, so I try that to get her going. “You need to have breakfast so that you can play bingo later,” I say, and she starts walking.

Who knows if the promise of bingo did the trick, or if she simply lost interest in whatever is going on behind the curtain. Either way, I don’t care. I just need to get to the dining room before 8:00.

I take my wife’s arm and we stroll along the hall. “Morning Jeff, morning Bernice,” a passing nurse says.

Bernice calls out, “your room is ready,” and I smile and we keep going.

After two years, I’m a familiar figure here at Willow Tree. Arriving every morning at 7:30, making sure Bernice eats breakfast, goes to the activities and doesn’t give the nurse a hard time on bath day. I stay until after lunch when she takes a nap and then head off to take care of my own health. After all this time, I know how important that is for both of us.

I hear the clink of silver, smell the aromas of bacon, toast and eggs before we reach the dining room. Some residents arrive in wheelchairs, others on walkers, but the majority, like Bernice get there under their own steam. Willow Tree encourages exercise and the staff does their best to keep everyone physically strong as long as possible, which I appreciate. The mental deterioration is hard enough to accept.

Turning into the dining room, I see our usual table for six in the corner. Greta is already there, getting help from a nurse, as well as Robert who still copes fairly well on his own and Anna who is feeding her husband Rick. Anna and the nurse wish us a good morning as Bernice and I approach. My wife’s apple juice is waiting and a plate of eggs and toast arrives before we’re settled.

Anna passes me a napkin. “I think you’ll need this,” she says.

I nod and unwrap it slowly. A silver door key winks at me.

“For later,” she says, and I can’t help but smile.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Scavenger Hunt pieces for MISTLETOE WEDDING by Melissa McClone


Click the banner above for a listing of all stops on this tour.

Stop #19:


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