The Great Dagmaru – The Story Begins

The Magician’s Curse, Book 1

…. hard to put down … [The ending] made me hungry for more.” 5 Stars ~ Linda Tonis, Senior Reviewer for THE PARANORMAL ROMANCE GUILD

Winner of the 2017 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Gothic/Mythology/Folk Tales

“… a very enjoyable read and highly recommended!!” ~ Donna Maguire, TOP 500 Reviewer on Amazon UK

Even true love can be cursed …

 

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.

Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?
Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru.

 

Magic and romance await.

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Prologue

Tarmien Dagmar couldn’t sleep. The clock taunted him as it had for months, even before his first child was born.

At least Stella can rest, he thought, listening to the soft snores of his wife drift through the dark from the other side of their king-sized bed. Breastfeeding was taking its toll, but the mere mention of hiring a nanny or allowing the servants to help with diaper changes was met with a firm “no.”
Murmuring something incoherent, she rolled over to face him and his blood heated at the fleeting thought of impregnating her again. It was what he was made for, after all. The blood that coursed through his veins, handed down for centuries from father to son, contained that of a demon. An incubus. A creature whose sole purpose was to seduce women and to create offspring.

Tarmien was coaxed from his thoughts by the subtle but distinctive sound of a waking infant. He gently eased himself out of bed so as not to wake his wife and crossed the hall quickly.

“It’s okay, Stephen,” he whispered as he closed the door of the nursery behind him. “Daddy’s here.”

He reached into the crib and picked up the restless newborn who settled the moment he was cradled in his father’s arms.

What have I done? Tarmien asked himself for the thousandth time since the baby was born.

Apart from the insatiable desire to procreate, Tarmien hadn’t shown any of the demonic tendencies to which his father had confessed on his deathbed, just months ago. He hoped he could spare his son the knowledge of that horrible confession. At least the curse that tied the Dagmar family to their servants, the Currys, was a burden Tarmien could bear himself; he was determined this child would never have to carry out its twisted conditions.

As he lifted his precious son to kiss his fine, black hair and breathe in his potent baby scent, he prayed that the family’s demonic bloodline had run out, once and for all. Only time would tell.

PIXY is FREE today!

My upbeat paranormal romance, Pixy, that reviewers call “a lovely escape” that’s “steamy and dreamy” is free today only!  

Alone and naked in a strange world, Merryn the pixy seeks the companionship of horses.

Ivy, tired of caring for her farm alone, has almost resigned herself to marrying a man she doesn’t love.

Will Merryn be the answer to Ivy’s conundrum? He may be. As long as they don’t touch …

If you like lighthearted paranormal romance, you’ll love this delightful love story.

Click here to get it on Kindle!

Short review: “Beach Read” by Emily Henry

Beach Read by [Emily Henry]

Beach Read by Emily Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What a fun read! Being a writer myself, I connected with many of the issues January was going through in her professional life. It was fun to live vicariously through her for a while.
Love a novel that makes me laugh out loud, and this one did. 🙂

Get it on Amazon!

(affiliate link above)

Last chance to get them on sale!

The Great Dagmaru Books 1 & 2 sale ends tonight. Grab them while you can!

When a young woman falls in love with a mysterious stage magician, their passion collides with a dark family secret… Spellbinding romance awaits in this award-winning modern Gothic tale!

You can get The Magician’s Curse on sale for 99 cents (regular $3.99) at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, and Smashwords.


As Stephen and Herman set off on their magic tour, facets of Stephen’s family history come to light, even as Herman’s father tries to come between them.
*18+ Contains explicit scenes.

You can pick up The Magician’s Blood, Book 2 of the series for the special price of $2.99 (regular $3.99) at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, and Smashwords.


Herman’s dreams and their possible foretelling of the future, as well as a strange visitor, threaten to come between the couple and their wedding plans. Meanwhile, Stephen struggles with the possibility that he’s a monster …

. You can get it for just $3.99 at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, and Smashwords.


And don’t forget, you can download the Prequel novella, The Magician’s Sire, for free when you subscribe to my newsletter. The heartwarming yet turbulent story of how Stephen’s parents met and fell in love can be read any time, before you start the series, between books, or when you’ve finished them all. No spoilers. If you want to grab it and unsubscribe right away. No harm, no foul. Here‘s the link to subscribe. If you just want to know when I have a book coming out without the hassle of getting an email every other week, you can follow me on Bookbub here.


Thanks so much, and happy reading!

(Note that all of the Amazon US links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents commission if you buy the book after clicking the link. I’m bound by Amazon’s Terms and Conditions to tell you this.)

Sale ends soon!

The Great Dagmaru series is complete! And Books 1 & 2 are on sale! Sale ends tomorrow night, March 15th.

When a young woman falls in love with a mysterious stage magician, their passion collides with a dark family secret… Spellbinding romance awaits in this award-winning modern Gothic tale!

Here’s one of my favorite reviews:

Angela 5.0 out of 5 stars Super loved it.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 August 2018 Verified Purchase

Couldn’t put it down so engrossed in reading it almost missed getting off at my station on journey to work brilliant.

You can get The Magician’s Curse on sale for 99 cents (regular $3.99) at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, and Smashwords.


Escape into the twists and turns of an extraordinary romance.

*18+ Contains explicit scenes.

GP 5.0 out of 5 stars Great series continuation!

Reviewed in the United States on 10 August 2018 Verified Purchase

Author Linda G Hill has done it again. She has managed to entertain me, surprise me, shock me, amuse me, frustrate me and make me cry, all in one book. The twists and turns as she continues Herman’s and Stephen’s journey will make you gasp. This book is a true gothic intended for 18+ audiences. Ms Hill does not sugarcoat life’s up and downs. The sex scenes are smoking hot and all serve to move the story forward. Well done!

You can pick up The Magician’s Blood, Book 2 of the series for the special price of $2.99 (regular $3.99) at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, and Smashwords.


The Magician’s Soul is the final book in the series. I may come back to it one day if enough people ask for it to continue, but there are no immediate plans.

I’ve had a few wonderful reviews so far! Here are two:

Linda Fausnet 5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping romance, excellent world-building and page-turning suspense

Reviewed in the United States on 23 February 2021 Verified Purchase

If you have not read The Magician’s Curse, do yourself a favor and start binging all three books in this fascinating series. This series features the most dashing magician hero you can imagine, as well as a gripping tale filled with demons, intrigue, and a family curse that must be broken. This is a highly imaginative paranormal tale with truly engrossing world-building and page-turning suspense. Just when you think you know what will happen…you don’t. Stephen Dagmar is a truly unforgettable hero and the romance with his one true love, Herman (female, but with a male name ) is a sweeping love story for the ages. If you’re looking for a truly binge-able series – this one is it!

Patricia Winsett 5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!

Reviewed in the United States on 17 February 2021 Verified Purchase

I could not put it down. The author weaves a tale of mystery, suspense, and a love story without missing a beat. It hits all the emotions. I would highly recommend it. Although it can stand on its on, be sure to read the first two books in series.

. You can get it for just $3.99 at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, and Smashwords.


And don’t forget, you can download the Prequel novella, The Magician’s Sire, for free when you subscribe to my newsletter. It can be read any time, before you start the series, between books, or when you’ve finished them all. No spoilers. If you want to grab it and unsubscribe right away. No harm, no foul. Here‘s the link to subscribe. If you just want to know when I have a book coming out without the hassle of getting an email every other week, you can follow me on Bookbub here.


Thanks so much, and happy reading!

(Note that all of the Amazon US links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a few cents commission if you buy the book after clicking the link. I’m bound by Amazon’s Terms and Conditions to tell you this.)

“Saddled” is 40% off today only, and “Pixy” is FREE

Today only, you can get Saddled 40% off at Kobo!

Saddled is the story of Michael, a guy who’s ready to quit stripping for a living and settle down in a career he’s been training for for years. When he starts to his new day job, he meets Sandra, the Sales Manager. Thus begins an office romance … or does it?

Add a gaggle of humorless co-workers, a no-dating policy at the office, and the fact that Sandra assumes Michael is gay when she sees him disrobing for a pub full of men, and you’ve got a novel that one reviewer describes as “…a huge barrel of laughs!” (Link goes to the full review on Amazon.)

The 40% discount is available ON KOBO ONLY in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. If you’re here in Canada, you can read any of my books that are on Kobo for free with your Kobo Plus subscription!

If you want to take advantage of the discount, add the book to your cart and enter the promo code AUGSALE at checkout.

CLICK THIS LINK!

Next up: PIXY!

In the mood for some lighthearted paranormal romance? Have I got a freebie for you!

Ivy is a widow, managing her farm all by herself when Merryn appears, willing to help until he’s summoned back home. But if they touch, she’ll be drawn into his magical pixy existence and linked to him forever…

Pixy is available only on Kindle. Pick it up FREE until August 30th, when the price goes back to 99 cents. On September 1st, it goes up to $2.99, so get it now!

KINDLE US

KINDLE UK

KINDLE Canada

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Thanks, and happy reading!

Today only – The Magician’s Curse FREE

Enter a world of dark family secrets …

Herman believes setting out to make a better life for herself will solve all her problems. Until she meets a charming, mysterious stranger on a train.

The moment Stephen Dagmar sets eyes on Herman, he knows he’s found a new assistant to join him onstage in his magic show. And the woman of his dreams.

At home in Stephen’s Gothic mansion, Herman revels in the extravagant romance he lavishes upon her. Yet a shadow hangs over their fragile love. Is his devotion really what it seems?

Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the spellbinding tale of The Great Dagmaru.

Start the journey now.

Winner of the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Award!

Kindle US

Kindle Canada

Kindle UK

Kindle Australia

Kobo worldwide

Apple

Barnes and Noble

Get it before the price returns to $3.99 on August 24th, 2020.

 

paper

your little cut-out paper heart

that i found one unsuspecting day

on a crowded street

mine

all ecstatically mine

took home to delve,

to memorize

to understand …

your tiny vulnerable soul

that i constructed

and nourished

and lived and dreamed with unceasingly …

who knew

we’d end up

bleeding

?

i withstand your pain

and you mine

perhaps that’s why i found you

no mistake

it is why

Saddled – Once a Week at Woody’s, Book 1 – Chapter 4

They meet!

Only two days left! Saddled is out April 28th, 2020!

But you can order it today for the special pre-order price of 99 cents!

In the days leading up to it, I’ll post Chapters 1 through 4 here, every other day.
April 21 – Chapter 1 – click here!
April 23 – Chapter 2 – click here!
April 25 – Chapter 3 – click here!
April 26 – Chapter 4 – today!
April 28 – Release day!!

Find the fourth chapter below.

Will an office no-dating policy stand in the way of love?

Since her breakup with her cheating ex, Sandra Weber has been just going through the motions as Sales Manager at Studletter Condom Company. But when Michael Thorne is hired as an assistant, sparks in the office begin to fly.

Though Michael, aka Saddle McFleshbomb, loves dancing at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub, he’s looking to move up in the world. His schooling almost finished, he lands a plum job as the only man in an office filled with women: four so exasperatingly humorless that it’s funny, and one stunning beauty with a laugh that warms the cockles of his heart.

When Sandra shows up at Woody’s on a rare night that he’s dancing for men, she assumes he’s gay, and therefore the no-dating policy doesn’t apply. But he’s not. He’s intensely interested in her. And he’s afraid to tell her he’s straight.

If you like light romantic comedy, hot office flirtations, and a long slow burn, you’ll love Saddled, the first book in Linda G. Hill’s “Once a Week at Woody’s” series.

Score a seat at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub today!

CHAPTER 4

Michael wore another pink shirt to work on Tuesday, hoping it would have a calming effect on his co-workers. In theory, it worked with painted walls. But the moment he arrived, Quiet Karen rushed up to him and pulled him aside.

“We need your help,” she said urgently. Obviously, the pink shirt wasn’t working yet. “Sandra The Commander has an event for us all to go to, but we don’t want to go. She’s been threatening us with it for months.”

Michael’s heart pounded with nervousness for his co-workers. “Oh my God, what is it?”

Quiet Karen’s thin lips tightened as her wrinkly brow knotted. “I’d prefer it if you didn’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”

“Sorry,” he said, making a mental note to not let it happen again. “What is it she wants you to do?”

“Not just us. All of us. You included. She wants us—and keep in mind, I have it from a reliable source that she’ll pay the money to the charity anyway—but she wants us all to participate in a golf tournament.” She spat it out like a wad of chewing tobacco, then she went on. “To raise money for libraries. Can you believe it? Libraries! She wants us to do this as a team because she thinks it will be fun.”

“And you and the others don’t think it’ll be fun?” It sounded rather fun to Michael.

None of us do. Because we can see through her. She’s trying to make up for what she did to Norma.”

“Hmm. So, what are you going to do about it?”

“Not us. You. We want you to go and talk to her. Tell her flat out that we’re not doing it.”

“But … I’ve never even met her. Why don’t you—or I—talk to Cynthia about it?”

“Because it’s about time we put our foot down to this B-I-T-C-H. She’s walked over us enough. Will you do it? Will you stand behind your fellow support staff on this?”

“I’d feel much better standing behind you with you going in there and telling her.”

Quiet Karen put her hands on her hips, and Myrtle appeared behind her in the same pose.

Rubbing the back of his neck, Michael thought about going back to the agency to see if they could find him another placement. Ones as good as this one—a six-month contract in a higher-up position—were few and far between, though. “So you want me to introduce myself by telling her the office staff is mutinying against her.”

“I wouldn’t put it that way, but yes. We don’t want to play golf, and we certainly don’t want to go on an outing with that woman.”

“What if I tell her I’ll do it if you get to stay out of it?”

Myrtle spoke up then. “You’re either with us or you’re against us in this.”

Michael pinched the spot between his eyes. How bad could she be? Maybe he could charm his way through it. Though, if this Commander lady was as humorless as the rest of them, let alone as bitchy as they said she was, likely all the charm in the world wouldn’t cut it.

“Fine. Can I at least have an idea of what you want me to say to her exactly?”

“Just tell her we had a meeting and we all agreed the tournament would be a bad idea,” Quiet Karen said.

“Can I mention that she’s going to give the money to charity anyway?”

No. Don’t say that. It will give away my source.”

Michael grunted and turned in the direction of Sandra’s closed office door. As he strolled toward it, still wondering whether his improvisation skills were up to snuff, he stifled a chuckle at the thought of dancing for her to win her over. She’d probably die of apoplexy.

He stopped in front of the door and poised to knock. He could afford a couple of month’s mortgage on unemployment and the extra money he’d earn stripping at the bar.

Here goes nothing.

Michael rapped on the door and heard a young, feminine voice—the same one he’d heard laugh yesterday—call out for him to come in. Far from his usual calm and collected self, he placed a sweaty palm on the doorknob and turned it.

The bun atop the head that slowly looked up from the desk was blond. She wore large, black-framed glasses, and her lips were the color of ripe cherries. But her eyes …

He’d seen it a thousand times. Her eyes said Take your clothes off.

He was so stunned, so in tune with the look, and so used to actually doing it that his hand went to the top button of his shirt. He caught himself just in time and opened his hand, placing that same sweaty palm on his chest, just below the collar bone.

“Yes?” the beautiful creature named Sandra squeaked.

“Golf.”

“Golf,” she repeated.

Michael swallowed and tried again. “The girls have …” Someone cleared their throat outside the office, just off to the right of the door. “The girls and I had a meeting, and we don’t see how it will be possible to take time off work to go to a golf tournament and still get everything done.”

He heard a growl from outside.

Sandra smiled slightly and the movement of her lips made his change rattle in his trouser pocket. “The tournament is on a Saturday. And it’s for charity. Surely you and the girls would like to help the local library raise some money?”

So many conflicts, so few choices.

Her gaze flicked minutely to his crotch and he was glad he didn’t have a lighter in his pocket. The dance in his pants might have struck a light. There was nothing he could do about it.

It might have been that she saw his discomfort below the belt, or she might have seen it in his eyes, because she suggested he have a seat. “Close the door first,” she said.

He sat and opened his mouth to speak, but she held up a finger. “One second while I finish what I was doing.”

He watched her pull a notepad out of a drawer, pick up a pen, and write something. She turned it around so he could see it: THE WALLS ARE THIN. THEY’RE LISTENING.

Michael nodded, still not sure what he wanted to say anyway. Again, Sandra came to his rescue by speaking first, quietly, so they couldn’t be overheard.

“What have the girls been discussing regarding the tournament?”

“I’m not sure, other than they would rather not, if it can be avoided.”

“I see. Would you like to go in their place? Perhaps you could bring some friends along to make it seem like we’re a team.”

“I—I can’t really do that.” He stared at her, hoping his expression looked helpless enough.

“Well then,” she said, raising her voice, “I suppose that’s it, isn’t it? I know Cynthia will be disappointed. It was her idea.”

There was a thump on the wall outside, presumably someone hitting their head against it. Maybe the girls hadn’t thought about that. Or maybe their inside source wasn’t as good as they’d thought.

“I’ll have another meeting with the staff,” Michael said, stifling the urge to laugh hysterically at the situation: being caught between those he felt compelled to help and the one, here, he wanted to help. “Maybe I can bring them around.”

Sandra wrote another hasty note: WAIT.

She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and punched something into it. Her office phone rang almost immediately.

“One moment, I have to take this call.” She picked up the receiver and said hello into it. Satisfied, she placed it on the desk in front of her. “Oh hi, Steve,” she said out loud, staring at Michael as she did. “Yep, go ahead. I’m ready.”

She wrote another note: I HOPE I’M NOT WRONG. YOU’RE NOT REALLY WITH THEM ON THIS REBELLION THING, ARE YOU?

Michael took the pen from her. I’M CAUGHT UP IN THEIR POLITICS. IF I GO AGAINST THEM, THEY’LL MAKE MY LIFE A LIVING HELL.

Sandra nodded. She took out another pen and another pad. “Oh right,” she said out loud to the imaginary phone call. “Keep going with the list, and I’ll see what I can do.” She wrote: CAN WE TALK OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICE? She looked at him again with her “undress-yourself” eyes, and he wondered exactly what she wanted from him. Though he hoped her intentions were honorable, it was probably best to be cautious. His part-time job had taught him a lesson or two about hooking up with the wrong people.

A rock and a hard place. He had no idea how to answer her request.

She scribbled something else down and handed it to him. It was her phone number. “Call me,” she mouthed.

Michael nodded and discretely adjusted himself as he stood and put the note with her number into his pocket.

Sandra picked up the phone and put it to her ear for appearances. She winked at him as he went out.

Quiet Karen was right there, waiting to pounce.

“I take it you didn’t know this was Cynthia’s idea,” Michael said to her accusingly.

“I don’t believe it for a second.”

“Well I’m not sure what else to do. It’s in your court now.” He turned to go.

“Would you like to go out for sandwiches today?” he heard from behind him.

“I might be busy,” he replied without turning around. He needed time to think.

~*~*~*~

To read the rest of the story, pre-order now and have the book delivered to your device on Tuesday, April 28th!

Amazon US

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Amazon AU

KOBO, Nook, Apple, and direct to where ever you are in the world on Amazon.

Thanks so much for reading. If you’ve enjoyed it so far, please be sure to tell your romance-loving friends on social media.

Cheers!

Linda

P.S. The prequel to Saddled is coming soon! If you’re already receiving my newsletter, you’ll get it automatically as an exclusive download, unavailable anywhere else. If you want to sign up, click here.

Saddled – Once a Week at Woody’s, Book 1 – Chapter 3

Almost there!

Only three more days until Saddled is released!

In the days leading up to it, I’ll post Chapters 1 through 4 here, every other day.
April 21 – Chapter 1 – click here!
April 23 – Chapter 2 – click here!
April 25 – Chapter 3 – today!
April 26 – Chapter 4 (updated)
April 28 – Release day!!

Be sure to pre-order Saddled for 99 cents. The price goes up to $2.99 on April 28, 2020.

Find the third chapter below!

Will an office no-dating policy stand in the way of love?

Since her breakup with her cheating ex, Sandra Weber has been just going through the motions as Sales Manager at Studletter Condom Company. But when Michael Thorne is hired as an assistant, sparks in the office begin to fly.

Though Michael, aka Saddle McFleshbomb, loves dancing at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub, he’s looking to move up in the world. His schooling almost finished, he lands a plum job as the only man in an office filled with women: four so exasperatingly humorless that it’s funny, and one stunning beauty with a laugh that warms the cockles of his heart.

When Sandra shows up at Woody’s on a rare night that he’s dancing for men, she assumes he’s gay, and therefore the no-dating policy doesn’t apply. But he’s not. He’s intensely interested in her. And he’s afraid to tell her he’s straight.

If you like light romantic comedy, hot office flirtations, and a long slow burn, you’ll love Saddled, the first book in Linda G. Hill’s “Once a Week at Woody’s” series.

Score a seat at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub today!

Chapter 3

“The office staff have kidnapped Michael.” It was the first thing out of Sandra’s mouth when she and Georgia sat down in Hare’s, the most expensive restaurant in Bevershire. Sandra thought the expense was warranted after her horrendous weekend.

“The girls are probably turning that poor man against me as we speak,” Sandra said as she plucked her napkin out of her water glass and laid it in her lap. The sun streamed through the plate glass window and reflected off her silver cutlery.

“Well, after what you did to Norma …” Georgia smirked playfully.

“What? I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done. I mean, it was one thing when Myrtle caught them half-undressed amid the cases of lubricant, but the fight …”

“Oh the fight. That was an epic fight.”

“And while she was working reception with a bunch of drug company execs waiting to see the CEO. That shit is why office romances are policied against.”

“Policied?”

“I just made it up. Anyway, you know there’s much more to the decision than that. And it was a long time coming.”

“Very true.” Georgia gave her a wicked look, the one she got when she was about to say something outrageous. “It wouldn’t be fighting with Mr. Thorne at reception that would get you fired.”

Sandra blinked over her glasses at her best friend.

“Oh, come on, Sandra. You need another guy in your life.”

“Even if I did—and after what happened with Larry, I don’t—but even if I did, I’d have to wait until Mr. Thorne’s contract is up before I could date him.”

“But, he’s so hot!”

“And you’re so bad. Thanks again, by the way, for torturing me with a demi-god to drool over at work every day.”

“My pleasure,” Georgia said with a smile. “Speaking of torture, tell me about your weekend.”

The waiter, an attractive young man in a crisp uniform, came over with an icy water jug and asked to take their orders, saving Sandra from answering right away.

After the past couple of days, all Sandra wanted was something fattening, but Georgia ordered a salad, so Sandra did too. She’d get dessert if talking about it didn’t ease the craving.

The waiter walked away, and Sandra sipped her water, stalling for time, knowing Georgia was patient.

“So here’s the thing. I went to Larry’s mother’s funeral expecting to feel something for him. Anything that was slightly … even nurturing. The need to comfort him or something. But there was nothing except pity.”

“Was she there?”

“No. I wanted to ask Larry’s sister if she was still in his life, but she was grieving. And it all seemed so trivial under the circumstances.”

“Whether or not Larry’s affair was worth breaking up a four-year relationship over is hardly trivial.”

“No. But the fact is I couldn’t really care less.”

Her tea and Georgia’s coffee came. Sandra put an unhealthy amount of sugar in before she continued.

“But that’s not the worst part.”

“Oh oh. I figured as much. Go on.”

“At the get-together after the funeral, I expected to hang out with some of Larry’s distant relatives—his sister, his aunt, and all the ones I met when we went on that trip to Italy.”

“And?”

“Larry wouldn’t stop acting like we were still a couple. I don’t know if he wanted to spare them the extra grief of knowing we’d broken up, but he obviously hadn’t told anyone. Not even his father and his sister. So there I was in the awkward position of having to stand close to him all night.”

“You must have been livid,” Georgia said as she shifted her coffee out of the way to lean on the table.

“I was. But when I went to confront Larry about it after the get-together, he jumped in his car and left. We barely said a word to each other all day, and not at all in private.”

“That rat bastard,” Georgia said.

The waiter came back with their salads and they thanked him.

“Well, if it helps any, Michael Thorne’s blue eyes are enough to put Larry’s to shame. And I know how you love a man with blue eyes.”

“Really? Are they really that blue?” She bit the words out, her frustration with Georgia’s insistence building. But her best friend wasn’t deterred; she knew what Sandra wanted, probably better than Sandra did. She always had.

“They’re the color of the sky on a cloudless day in May.”

“You’re terrible. Stop trying to tempt me.” Sandra took a bite of her salad and her eyes rolled around almost to the back of her head. “There’s a reason places like this charge so much.”

“Right?” Georgia said past her mouthful of food.

Despite the deliciousness, Sandra’s mind wandered back to Michael. “So, blue eyes, huh?”

Georgia smiled at her knowingly. “Hunt him down this afternoon and see for yourself.”

She would, she thought. It couldn’t hurt.

But when she got back to the office, Cynthia’s door was closed, and Michael wasn’t at his desk. An online conference took up the rest of her afternoon.

At five to five, when the office was packing up for the day, she decided to go out and introduce herself—it was, obviously, the professional thing to do. But her phone rang just as she was about to pick up her purse to leave. It was Larry.

 

~*~*~*~

Pre-order now!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

See you tomorrow for Chapter 4, when Sandra and Michael will finally meet!

Saddled – Once a Week at Woody’s, Book 1 – Chapter 2

The countdown is on!

Only five more days until Saddled is released!

In the days leading up to it, I’ll post Chapters 1 through 4 here, every other day.
April 21 – Chapter 1 – click here!
April 23 – Chapter 2 – today!
April 25 – Chapter 3
April 27 – Chapter 4
April 28 – Release day!!

Be sure to pre-order Saddled for 99 cents. The price goes up to $2.99 on April 28, 2020.

Enjoy the second chapter below!

Will an office no-dating policy stand in the way of love?

Since her breakup with her cheating ex, Sandra Weber has been just going through the motions as Sales Manager at Studletter Condom Company. But when Michael Thorne is hired as an assistant, sparks in the office begin to fly.

Though Michael, aka Saddle McFleshbomb, loves dancing at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub, he’s looking to move up in the world. His schooling almost finished, he lands a plum job as the only man in an office filled with women: four so exasperatingly humorless that it’s funny, and one stunning beauty with a laugh that warms the cockles of his heart.

When Sandra shows up at Woody’s on a rare night that he’s dancing for men, she assumes he’s gay, and therefore the no-dating policy doesn’t apply. But he’s not. He’s intensely interested in her. And he’s afraid to tell her he’s straight.

If you like light romantic comedy, hot office flirtations, and a long slow burn, you’ll love Saddled, the first book in Linda G. Hill’s “Once a Week at Woody’s” series.

Score a seat at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub today!

Chapter 2

Michael Thorne was no stranger to being objectified. It had gotten so bad at his last office placement, he’d had to leave. So when he discovered on Friday that his new job starting Monday would be in the marketing department at the local condom manufacturing company, he’d prayed all weekend that the offices would be staffed by a majority of men, at least in the management positions. And straight ones, at that—he was also no stranger to being objectified by gay men.

No such luck.

And yet at eleven in the morning, all seemed well. Aside from the woman in HR who had eyed him up and down like she’d won the lottery, despite her wedding ring, the ladies in the office seemed to barely notice him. None of them spoke to him, not even to say hello. His new boss, Cynthia, was the matriarchal type with a photo of a family on her desk that included the husband who had, he assumed, given her the numerous diamond rings on her fingers. His co-workers held the same air of professionalism inside the privacy of the office as the one he assumed they projected to the public. Knowing they were human beings, he expected at least a little light humor concerning the products they sold, but there was nothing but a sober, nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic. And so, he was surprised, just before lunch, to hear a laugh come from the corner office, from the occupant he hadn’t yet seen. She sounded young, but then so were at least some of his more serious co-workers.

It was an easy morning—Cynthia had him transcribing a lengthy marketing proposal, so all he’d had to do was type with headphones on. He got lost in his work, as often happened. There was something soothing about having a monotonous, time-consuming but mindless job to do. He wouldn’t have known it was lunchtime if one of his co-workers hadn’t tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hi,” she said, holding out one pudgy-fingered, moisture-less hand to be shaken. Her tight dark curls that were plastered to her head, combined with her dark floral dress with brocade at the buttoned-up neck, made her look like she’d stepped out of a 50s TV show. “I’m Myrtle. I sit over there.” She pointed at a desk at the back corner of the office like she was trying to poke it from afar. “A few of us are going out to lunch. Would you like to join us?”

Michael looked around and saw three more expectant faces studying him. He felt rather like a zoo animal.

“Sure,” he said with a smile, hoping friendliness might beget friendliness. It got a few tight smiles in return.

“What’s your name?” Myrtle asked.

“I’m Michael,” he said.

“Michael,” the three other ladies chorused, as if they’d never heard the name before.

He stood up and reached for his jacket, and all of them looked up at him.

“Do you like sandwiches?” one of the ladies—the oldest of the bunch, judging by the abundance of gray hair—asked him.

“I do,” he replied, wondering if they were just going to stand there all day. “Shall we go?” he asked after a long pause during which they all continued to stare.

“Yes,” said Myrtle. She started for the elevator and he followed her, the other three trailing behind him in single file.

Once they reached the reception area, the four women rushed for the door like they were all eager to be the one to open it for him. It was the older lady who had asked him if he liked sandwiches who made it there first.

Surprisingly, they all seemed to relax as soon as they were out in the bright, sunny early-May day. They led him down the sidewalk-less road to a small café with a pink sign above the door. Sandwiches Smandwiches wasn’t the sort of place he might take a date, but he made note of it since it was close enough to come to every day without having to take his car. He dreamed one day of getting an executive parking spot at a downtown marketing firm—which would be the day he wouldn’t have to consider a second mortgage on his condo just to pay city parking fees. For a small mid-eastern city, Bevershire acted in some ways like it was populated with tens of millions rather than tens of thousands. Still, the city was expanding. When he was a child, all this land had been a forest. He’d played here with his best friend, Cal, catching crayfish in a stream that no longer existed, at least not above ground.

He followed the ladies, as one, to a round table in the corner of the quaint, pink-walled restaurant, and each of them pulled out a chair and looked at him expectantly.

“Please, sit,” he said, and they did. He perched himself upon the remaining chair, ready to run if they decided to slice him up and put him in their sandwiches, for the feeling of being dissected like a new species of animal hadn’t abated.

“We should explain,” Myrtle said, her white handbag clutched in her lap. “We can’t talk in there in case ‘Sandra,’” she lifted her hands and crooked her pudgy fingers as though it was a label she wished she didn’t have to pronounce, “hears us and thinks we’re talking about her.”

Sandwich Lady spoke up. “I guess we should introduce ourselves. I’m Karen,” she said, holding out her hand for the shaking, “and this is Karen.” She pointed to a tall, dark-skinned woman with a blank expression who blinked and nodded but said nothing. “She’s our full-time receptionist. You can call me Quiet Karen, and her Phone Karen.”

Michael looked at Phone Karen and she nodded again.

“She’s saving her voice for answering the phone this afternoon,” Quiet Karen confided. Michael thought he’d always think of her as Sandwich Karen, which made him shudder to think about being sandwiched between the two Karens. They were far too serious for his tastes.

He tried not to recoil as he smiled and said, “Nice to meet you,” to them both.

He turned then to the other woman, who sat on the opposite side of the table. She blushed heavily and stared, grinning, at the paper placemat in front of her. Her forearms moved like she was wringing her hands on her lap.

“I’m Grace,” she muttered. “I’m actually under you …”

If she was blushing before, Michael thought she might start glowing neon, now.

“I—I mean I’m your data entry clerk,” she squeaked. “I’m sorry.”

“No. No need to be sorry. I look forward to working with you,” he said, holding his hand out over the table. She put three limp digits in his hand and lightly squeezed his forefinger with her thumb, then let go quickly and stuck her hand back under the table.

“So, who is this Sandra you’re all avoiding?” he asked to get the conversation moving.

“Oh, we’re not avoiding her,” Sandwich Karen said. “We just don’t like her. Because of what she did to Norma.”

“We can talk about Norma now, because she’s not here,” Myrtle interjected. “It was her turn to work at reception through lunch while Phone Karen has hers. You’ll be trained at reception too, so you can take your turn.”

“I’m not hungry,” Phone Karen said in a voice louder than any he’d ever heard come out of a woman’s mouth before. Quiet Karen it was. Phone Karen continued. “I was just curious about the new guy. Michael.” She stared at him as if he was a peculiar new breed of bug, and so did everyone else in the café, having been alerted to his presence by the woman’s booming sound box. A few of the restaurant’s patrons gawped at him: he’d been told numerous times that he should have been a model. His part-time job had a lot to do with that urging.

“Norma doesn’t like it when we talk about what Sandra the Commander did to her,” said Myrtle.

This Sandra woman must be some piece of work, Michael thought. “What did she do?” Obviously, she hadn’t fired the woman.

Quiet Karen leaned forward on the table. “Norma was dating one of the men out in the warehouse. It was true love, right from the get-go.”

Grace fanned herself with the menu and the other three rolled their eyes.

“It doesn’t matter what we thought about it,” Quiet Karen continued, “but The Commander decided to stick her nose in it and urged upper management to institute a policy that office romances were verboten—forbidden, if you don’t know the meaning of the word.”

Michael just nodded.

Grace fanned herself faster and sighed. “Forbidden love. So romantic.”

“Our opinions of their shenanigans don’t matter,” Myrtle reiterated, and Grace put her menu on the table.

“So, what happened?” Michael asked. “Did they break up? Stop dating?”

“Due to The Commandant’s idea, they were given a choice. Do that, or one of them quit,” Quiet Karen said.

Michael jumped when the other Karen’s voice boomed in his right ear. “Gerry gave up his job.”

Grace shook her head, put her hand on her menu, thought better of picking it up, and sighed again. “And then they lived happily ever after.”

“They’re not married,” Myrtle said with a frown, indicating to Michael that she thought they should be. Whatever they were doing in their off-work time demanded it. This was going to be a fun work environment, he thought wryly.

But if he wanted to get along and not get caught up in office politics, he’d have to play along.

“It sounds like this Sandra the Commander is someone I should stay away from, then,” he said.

They all seemed pleased by that.

“How tall are you?” Grace asked, completely out of the blue.

“I’m 6’4”.”

“That’s tall.” Grace blushed and held her menu up so he couldn’t see her.

A waiter came over with a tray full of water glasses and asked, “The usual?” The four ladies didn’t seem to mind the lack of small talk. They all muttered some sort of assent. “And you, sir?” the waiter asked.

Michael hadn’t had a chance to look at the menu what with all the office intrigue. He took a quick glance and saw a burger that looked enticing. Though he wasn’t one to be pushed around, he didn’t want to get on Quiet Karen’s bad side. “A club, please. And a coffee.”

“Coming right up,” the waiter said. He headed back to the long, pink lunch counter, taking the menus with him, leaving Grace with nothing to hide behind or fan herself with.

“You’re not going to be able to stay away from her.”

Michael looked at Quiet Karen and asked, “Who?”

“Miss Weber,” Myrtle answered. “Sandra.”

“Oh. Right. Because she works in the office. But will I have to interact with her much? I mean, it’s Cynthia I work for …”

“You’re bound to come into contact with her eventually,” said Myrtle. “The marketing manager and the sales manager have to work together sometimes.”

“But we’ve got your back,” Quiet Karen said with an assured pucker of the lips. “We’ll be watching.”

He made to say thank you, but Grace cut in. “Sooo … what do you do in your spare time?”

I take my clothes off in front of hundreds of women every other weekend as Saddle McFleshbomb, cowboy stripper. But that’s not what came out of his mouth. What did, was, “I read a lot.”

“Oh! Do you read non-fiction? Or …”

“Romance novels. I read romance novels.”

That got a new round of eye-rolling from the three that weren’t Grace. The one that was Grace picked up her paper placemat and fanned herself with it. She knew how to adapt. She’d be a good one to work with.

“I didn’t know men read romance novels,” said Phone Karen, and everyone in the café knew his reading preferences.

“My ex-girlfriend got me hooked on them. Now I can’t stop reading them. Love me a good romance.”

Grace and a few of the other patrons sighed audibly. It seemed Michael and the waiter were the only two males in the restaurant.

This male was starting to itch to get back to work. He’d had enough of his creepier-than-usual co-workers. And he’d had a lot of those since he’d started at the agency.

“So … You’re single now?” Grace asked. She blushed and crossed her legs under the table, kneeing it and almost upending all five glasses of water.

“Yeah,” Michael said. He picked up his glass and had a sip he didn’t really want, hoping the waiter would come back soon with his coffee and his lunch so he could get the hell out of there. “I’m guessing you don’t get many men working in the offices at Studletter.” Michael returned his glass to the table.

Quiet Karen answered. “It’s been four years. I’ve been there the longest.”

“Really. So you must know all the ins and outs of the bus … iness.” He let the sentence kind of trail off as he realized that innuendos—even accidental ones—were frowned upon. Literally. “I mean, you have to know by now all the inner workings … I mean … how all the departments work together.”

“Yes, I do. Cynthia is all business, and Betsy did a good job before she went on maternity leave.”

“Well, I’m a hard—Oh look! Here’s lunch,” he said to the waiter just as he was about to say he was a hard worker. That would have to wait until the weekends.

It was getting late, so they ate in a hurry. On the way back to the office, Grace positioned herself beside him. The two Karens walked behind, mumbling to each other; Michael assumed that Phone Karen only cranked up the volume button on her voice when she was inside a building. Myrtle walked on Grace’s other side.

Behind the reception desk in the enormous outer office sat a plump woman of medium height with red hair and dark green eyes. She gave up her seat behind the reception desk to Phone Karen.

“Hi,” the woman whispered to Michael on the way to the elevator. She introduced herself as Norma. “Are you really going to be here for six months?” she asked, still whispering.

“That’s the plan,” he answered.

“I don’t know if we’ll all survive that long,” she said, and with that cryptic message, she scurried to the back corner of the elevator.

Michael returned to his mirthless desk, wondering if she was on to something.

 

~*~*~*~

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See you on Saturday for Chapter 3.