A Picnic – From “The Protectors”

Today, author Carolyn Wren is sharing a picnic scene from The Hostage, Book 4 in her “Protectors” series.  

First, a little background on the story.

Carolyn explains:

Our hero, James ‘North’ Northam is attempting to find out the identity of the woman who rescued him from a deadly hostage situation.  Is Meg, the schoolteacher, really the highly skilled covert operative who risked her life for his?

In this picnic scene he is trying to find out her secrets.  Meg is equally determined to keep them.

Enjoy!

Lying in the surprisingly comfortable bed in the early hours, and after formulating various scenarios in his head, North decided on something simple. Food.

He stepped in front of her as she exited the school the following afternoon, a large wicker basket in his hand. “I have a picnic basket.”

“That’s nice. I hope you enjoy it.” Meg stepped sideways to pass him.

He countered, blocking her path again. “It has enough for two.”

“Then I hope you’re hungry.” She took another step to her left.

North countered. “I’m asking you to join me, Meg.”

“Thank you, I have a lesson plan to write.” She made to take another step in the opposite direction, obviously hoping he’d take the hint.

Mrs. Jenkins appeared behind her. The headmistress was clearly unashamed by her eavesdropping. “That’s fine, Meg. There isn’t any rush. You should go along, have some fun. You spend way too much time on school work.”

North had the distinct feeling Meg wanted to roll her eyes and couldn’t, because he was watching her. He resisted the urge to grin.

“Gee, if you put it that way, I don’t see how I can possibly refuse,” she replied, her voice the personification of cheerful.

North offered her his arm. She refused with a shake of her head.

“You’ll have to drive,” he reminded her, “unless you want Martin to sit in the car and wait. I figured you’d have a better idea of the area, know of somewhere nice to go.”

Meg looked down at the basket he held. “Two people you say? That’s big enough to feed an entire family, for a week.”

“What can I say? I’m very hungry.”

“I wasn’t aware Mrs. Harrison’s grocery store had branched out into gourmet hampers?”

“It hasn’t. I have a very efficient London express courier company on standby.”

“Does everything always fall into place when you snap your fingers?”

He tilted his head and regarded her steadily. “Apparently not, but I keep hoping,”

* * * *

Meg drove them to a local park. At her instructions, North carried the basket to a giant oak tree. A stream tinkled and gurgled over rocks nearby. This was her place, a place she liked to sit and ponder, to unwind after an assignment. However, North didn’t need to know that.

He cleared an area of twigs and other fragments of nature and laid down the large woolen blanket. The food was beautiful, of course, succulent chicken, crisp salads, fresh fruit and a variety of gourmet accompaniments. North poured her a glass of white wine.

“Unseasonably warm weather,” he said, handing her the long stemmed glass with an innocent look.

“Exceptionally so,” she replied, not trusting him for a moment.

“Lovely here though, under the tree. Nice shade.”

“Yes, trees are shady,” Meg suppressed a grin. He’s up to something.

“How long have you lived in the village?”

Here we go, the interrogation begins. “A while now.”

“Have you always been a teacher?” North took a sip of his wine, his expression open and curious.

“No, but I’ve been doing it for a few years.” He watched her, not saying anything. It seemed like a safe subject, so she continued. “Children are so important.  I know it sounds cliché‚ I feel like they really are the future. It’s imperative they be nurtured and taught. The world isn’t always a safe place. When they’re with me, I try to make them feel like it is. School is a place to learn and grow, where everything should be perfect, the future an endless world of knowledge to explore.”

She stopped talking. North’s gaze had become intense. Meg wondered if it was such a safe subject after all. “What about you? Have you always wanted to be a multi-millionaire company director?”

His lips twitched at her obvious deflection. “It’s a job, a well-paid one. It has its good and bad points. Some parts offer more satisfaction than others. I like the chase. The drive. The perks.”

“Perks like Anika Sorrenson?” As soon as the words left her mouth, she cursed herself.

He raised his brows. “Have you been researching me, Meg?”

She had researched him, from a professional point of view. She’d needed all the information she could get after he’d been taken and had done an exhaustive, mostly illegal search into his life. Anika Sorrenson, an ice blonde actress had turned up as his most recent lover. Meg had quickly discarded her as a suspect as the woman didn’t seem to have any real power or any grudges concerning North.

“You were both in the newspapers a lot,” she said, explaining her knowledge. “I like the celebrity pages.”

He shrugged. “It was more of a business arrangement than anything. Anika approached me, said she wanted to break into bigger movie roles. To do that in today’s media hungry world you need to get noticed. She didn’t want scandal. So she decided three months on my arm would accomplish her goal nicely. She proposed a deal. I accepted.”

“Payment for services rendered?” Meg asked.

“If you like.”

“Not your usual type of deal.” Meg was curious, despite herself.

“It stirred my interest at a time last year when business was annoying and life was a little stressful.”

“So she got three months in your home?”

“Never in my home. A tabloid rumor, unfounded. She did spend three months in my bed, a mutually satisfying side venture to the agreement.” He looked over at Meg.

She met his leveled gaze, giving him no reaction.

Putting his glass aside, he laid down on the blanket. When he stretched out, his long body spilled over the ends. Raising his arms, he folded them behind his head and closed his eyes, the epitome of male relaxation.

“Anika is a lovely girl. We got on remarkably well. Despite what you may be thinking, I would never have entered into such an agreement otherwise. She’s smart and highly intelligent. I feel she should be looking for a more productive career. I offered to put her through college at my cost, no strings attached. She had it in her blood though. Nothing would satisfy her, except acting.”

“She turned down your offer of an education?”

“She did. Anika’s very stubborn. She’s dating a director now. He should be able to help her with her dream. I sincerely wish her all the best.”

He’s one of the good guys. Ruthless, undoubtedly. But honest and upfront, with good morals and judgment. A life worth saving.

She followed his lead, laying down on the soft blanket and stretching out. It was large enough to provide enough space between them for her to be comfortable. The sun flickered through the leaves above, making her squint. Meg closed her eyes.

Sleep had been elusive lately. The last assignment had taken its toll, mentally as well as physically. She loathed having to admit it. Dreams plagued her in the darkness of the night, fractured, disturbing images, and memories. Meg forced herself to breathe deeply. Lying in the late afternoon with the sun and the bubbling stream nearby was relaxing. North had apparently given up on his interrogation for the time being.  She surrendered to the peace. The tension in her muscles began to relax.

The screech of an angry bird startled her. Meg woke, instantly and completely, without moving, just as she always did. God, she needed more sleep if she could just nod off at a moment’s notice like that, here in the open where anyone could penetrate her defenses. Glancing to her left, she saw North sitting up, staring into the distance.

The light moved through the trees, casting shadows over his face and body, almost like the first time she’d seen him. Then he had been dirty and unshaven, gaunt, injured, and exhausted.

He had a strong profile, a square jaw, and high cheekbones. His hair and lashes were as dark as his eyes, an arresting and handsome face. He’d put back what little weight his incarceration had stolen from him and looked strong and healthy.

Meg hadn’t seen any hospital reports. Her assignment had finished the second she’d handed him over to the transportation team. He looked well, despite his eye injury she still regretted. Is that why she’d agreed to coffee yesterday? Plagued by guilt over an injury she hadn’t known about? He’d been beaten long before she arrived. There was nothing she could have done. Still, it troubled her. Meg wanted to ask after other injuries. Of course, that was ridiculous. It would blow her cover. Physically, he’d made a full recovery. Meg felt sure the mental scars remained. Was that why he’d set out to find her?

She continued her perusal. Powerful shoulders, broad back, strong arms. He had one knee drawn up, and his arm rested on it. His other arm was by his side, and his hand was…holding hers. His larger fingers curled around hers like a form of protection. She tugged them free. To his credit he didn’t try to stop her.

“You haven’t been sleeping at night?” He turned to face her.

“It was just a little nap. I’m not used to drinking wine during the day.”

“Is it physical pain or do you have dreams?”

Damn the man was perceptive. “It’s nothing for you to worry about.”

“Meg, talk to me. Sometimes talking helps.”

“I have nothing to talk about. I keep telling you, it’s all in your head.”

“You have shadows under your eyes.”

“Are you always this complimentary with women you have picnics with?”

“I’m sorry I held your hand. It’s just that you watched over me while I slept, kept me safe from harm. I was simply returning the favor.”

He watched for a reaction. She gave him none, perhaps because his frank statement had surprised her into silence. A good man, a life worth saving.

Sighing, he rose to his feet. He leaned down and offered his hand. She ignored it and stood without his help.

“You’re much more stubborn than Anika,” he said, lips curving.

“Perhaps, we both think you get your way all too often. Come on. Let’s get you home. I have a lesson plan to write.”

 ~ ~ ~ ~

 More from Carolyn:

I was born in England. My parents loved to travel as my dad spent many years in the navy. By the time I reached the age of 12 we had traveled pretty much around the world on cruise ships.

This sounds fun and exciting unless like me you can get sea sick sitting in a bathtub. Lets just say boats do not feature highly in my books.

I still love to travel, but I use planes. All of my life I have written stories in my head. I would rewrite and add characters to TV shows, edit and change novels I was reading, invent scenarios and scenes to amuse myself on long journeys. But strangely I never wrote any of them down. About three years ago I woke up with a scene so clear in my head I knew I had to put it down on paper. Now, what should I do with this one page of prose? I know, I will email it to some friends. The friends approved, in fact they asked what book it was from. I shyly admitted it was my own work and the reaction was immediate…please write the next bit! I did and I have not stopped writing since.

~ ~ ~ ~

Check out Carolyn’s other books in The Protectors Series:

The Diplomat’s Daughter, The Actress, The Scientist, and The Widower’s Child.

Curl Up with a Good Book…and the One You Love

Reading is usually thought of as a solitary activity. Sure, back in our grade-school days, we sat around in groups and pretended to listen as one classmate after another read aloud, and then we blushed and stammered a bit when it was our turn.  But ever since we got out of school, we’ve done our reading alone.  Who knows, maybe it has something to do with those unpleasant school room memories.

Reading together is actually a very enjoyable past-time for people to share, especially when they’re in love, and even more when they’re reading about love. Curling up together with a good book can bring you and your partner closer — not only in a very real physical sense as you snuggle together and turn the pages, but in an emotional sense, as well.

There are a few things to keep in mind to make the experience as satisfying as possible.

COMFORT COUNTS

If either of you is uncomfortable, reading pleasure — and comprehension — is going to go downhill fast.  Prop up the pillows, adjust the lighting, make sure the room temperature is right, and that ceiling fans aren’t whipping the pages around.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME

Don’t rush through reading. Choose a time when you can relax and not worry about where you have to be later or all the things on a long to-do list. It doesn’t matter if you spend fifteen minutes or several hours reading together. What does matter is that you can fully enjoy the experience.

TUNE OUT DISTRACTIONS

Maybe a little music in the background is all right, but usually nothing works better for reading than quiet. Remember those blue-haired librarians who always shushed you? They did it for a reason.  Please do keep the television off, and shut off your cellphones, too.  Candles and incense might sound like good ideas, but they can easily become distractions. You can’t concentrate on reading — or your partner — if you’re worried about setting the curtains on fire, or if your eyes are watering from too much sweet-smelling smoke.

TAKE A CASUAL ATTITUDE

Nothing can spoil the fun of reading more than feeling that it’s mandatory. It’s not, you know. Reading together is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Neither of you should feel pressured or anxious. Some people read better than others. Some people just don’t enjoy reading aloud.  It’s fine if you do the reading and your partner listens. It’s fine the other way around, too. It’s even all right if neither of you reads aloud. In fact, you don’t even have to be reading from the same book or magazine.  Being together and sharing the activity is what makes it special. If you’re reading from separate books, newspapers, or magazines, take a moment now and then to share things that catch your interest.

DISCUSS WHAT YOU’RE READING

Talk about it. Ask questions. Express opinions. If you find a subject that catches your attention, build on that interest and seek out more books on the topic. Of course, if you start reading a book and quickly discover that one of you has lost interest or, if you’re reading non-fiction and one of you has strong negative feelings about the author’s premise, put the book aside and find something you can both enjoy.  The key word is discuss, not debate. Above all, don’t argue.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS…OR MORE

Reading isn’t always about words. Remember the picture books you enjoyed as a child? Adults can enjoy picture books, too, and no, I’m not talking about THOSE kinds of pictures. You know what I mean. I’m talking about picture books that take you to faraway places, or ones that offer new things to learn. Always wanted to visit Paris? Find a travel book, curl up together on a rainy morning, and wander the Champs-Elysees together. Or if art is your thing, check out a book of masterpieces and turn the pages slowly. These are the sort of books that are often called “coffee table” works, but they’re great for bedside tables, too. Even a cookbook makes for great reading. Pick out recipes you’d both like to try.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

Where you start is up to you, but some subjects are more suited for romantic bedtime reading than others.  Here are a few topics to consider:

Books on Love and Marriage

You’ll find lots of books written for couples, both for newlyweds and those who’ve been together for a lifetime. There are books for wives, books for husbands, and books to address specific problems.  Here are a few you might want to check out:

A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

The Secret of Happily Married Men

What a Husband Needs From His Wife

10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage

Books on Sexuality

For more intimate reading, you might want to explore massage techniques, or learn about Tantra. With the right book, reading can become a pleasurable “hands-on” experience.

Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life

The Essence of Tantric Sexuality

A Little Bit Kinky: A Couple’s Guide to Rediscovering the Thrill of Sex

A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy

The Art of Sensual Massage

Joke Books

What’s even more fun than reading in bed? Well, besides THAT.  How about reading and laughing in bed? Especially if you do your reading in the evening after a long, hard day, you might enjoy tickling each other’s funny bones with a good book of jokes.

Adult Only Joke Book

Dave Barry is Not Making This Up

The Mancode Exposed

Advice for a Happy Marriage: From Miss Dietz’s 3rd Grade Class

A Perfectly Funny Marriage

Picture Books

You’ll find lots of delightful picture book to explore, depending on your interests. Check out books on art, photography, travel, nature and wildlife, foods, cars, motorcycles, seashells…the list of possibilities is endless.

Paris in Color

Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary

The Sculptures of Picasso

The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy  Sunday Book

Wildlife: The Nature Paintings of Carl Brenders

The suggestions given here are only a few of the many, many possibilities for fun, relaxing, and romantic reading. In addition to non-fiction titles, try reading fiction, choosing from popular titles, romance, or erotica.

Or how about the classics? Poetry? Scriptures? There’s a huge world of books waiting to be read. So, indulge, enjoy, and share the experience with the one you love.

A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS ON FICTION

  • Fiction, like film, is subjective. Choose titles that appeal to both of you.
  • If you do your reading late at night, select “quiet” stories that will leave you in a restful, peaceful state of mind.
  • Don’t spoil a story for your partner. You might have the ending figured out early on, but keep it to yourself, OK?

Reading: Share it with the one you love.

Romantic Excerpt: Another Picnic to Enjoy

Today’s romantic excerpt comes from author Christine Tetreault. It’s a great picnic scene from The Billionaire Playboy, the second book in her “The Sherbrookes of Newport” series.

The Billionaire Playboy

 

Sinking to her knees Charlie waited. Behind her she felt Jake loosen the knot in the bandana. When the cloth dropped she blinked a few times as her eyes grew accustomed to the bright sunshine. Then she really looked around. Spread out in front of her was a red and white checkered table cloth with a huge wicker basket in the middle. Two champagne flutes stood in front of the basket with a bottle of champagne on ice right next to them.

 

“Surprise!” he said dropping down to his knees next to her.

 

A picnic, she thought, unable to say anything around the lump in her throat. He’d brought her on an old-fashioned picnic. “You remembered,” she whispered, her voice almost impossible to hear over the waves. “I can’t believe you remembered.”

 

Jake popped open the champagne bottle and poured her a glass. “Playboys have terrific memories. Didn’t you know that?” he asked as he handed her a glass.

 

Charlie took a sip from her glass. The bubbles tickled her throat and she savored the taste. She generally preferred beer when she drank, but this champagne was the smoothest she’d ever tasted. “I didn’t know that, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future.”

 

“If you ever have any other questions about us, don’t hesitate to ask.” Jake smiled at her as he began to pull food from the picnic basket.

 

Oh, she had questions all right. She just chose not to ask them. Some questions were better off not asked. “I’ll remember that too,” she promised accepting the dinner plate he held out.

 

All the food spread out in front of her looked good but she still held back. “It all looks great. I’m not sure what to try first.”

 

Jake reached for a cherry tomato stuffed with what looked like fresh mozzarella cheese and basil. “I suggest you start with one of these. I stole one earlier and they’re delicious.”  After placing it on her plate he reached for another. “I tried some of the focaccia too.”

 

“Why am I not surprised?”  Charlie popped the tomato in her mouth and chewed. Jake was right, it was delicious.

 

A better picnic never existed, at least Charlie believed so. Everything about their beach picnic, from the food to the location, was perfect. And the company wasn’t half bad either, she thought looking over at Jake. Though she felt ready to burst from all the food she’d eaten, he sat munching on yet another brownie. Not that she blamed him. If she had any more room left she’d indulge in one more herself. Perhaps if any remained later she’d have one, although watching Jake eat, that possibility seemed unlikely.

 

Straightening her legs out, she leaned back and rested on her elbows. The hot beach sand warmed her bare legs and Charlie wiggled her toes underneath it. She almost never made it to the beach, but whenever she did she was reminded how much she liked it. Today even more so thanks to the company. Just being on the beach seemed to help wash away the stress of everyday life.

 

“You look deep in thought over there. How many pennies will it cost for them?” Jake’s question signaled that he’d finished his most recent brownie.

 

“I’ll consider this one on the house since you went to all this work,” Charlie answered pointing to the remnants of their picnic. “I was thinking about how much I like the beach. I always seem to forget that till I get back to one.”

 

“Then I’m glad I picked it for our picnic.”  Jake leaned over and dropped a kiss on her cheek. “I hope you enjoyed it.”

 

Words didn’t normally fail her. Actually she couldn’t think of a time when she hadn’t been able to express her opinion with ease. Right now, however, the right words escaped her. In silence Charlie watched the waves hit the beach and recede again. “I’ll never forget it.”  The huge knot in her throat almost chocked off the last part of her sentence much to her frustration. She considered herself a calm cool woman, not someone ruled by emotions. This afternoon though she felt like just the opposite.

 

“Just want I wanted to hear.”

 

She knew by his tone that he was smiling and turned to confirm her belief. Even though she expected it, the hundred-watt smile spreading across his face set her pulse racing. Damn, she should be used to that smile by now. What was wrong with her?

 

“You do know that no beach picnic is complete without a walk along the water?” Jake replaced the empty containers into the basket.

 

“Oh, really?  So there are written rules for these types of things?”

 

Jake’s eyebrow went up. “Of course. There’s a whole rule book.”  His tone contained just the right amount of arrogance and playfulness. “And after a walk the couple must retreat to the nearest bedroom. It’s all spelled out in the book.”

 

She couldn’t help but shake her head. Jake Sherbrooke made her laugh more than anyone else she knew. “Let’s go then. I don’t want to get caught breaking the rules.”

 

Charlie let Jake help her to her feet and together they started down the beach along the shoreline. For a little while they walked in silence, but she didn’t mind. In some ways she actually liked it. The lack of conversation let her focus on the sound of the crashing waves and the way the cool ocean breeze felt against her skin.

 

“Are you going to apply for that position at the hospital in Williamsburg?” Jake asked breaking the comfortable silence between them.

 

The week before, a former colleague who knew Charlie was considering retiring from the Navy had given her a heads-up about an opening at Memorial Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia.

 

“I sent in all the paperwork yesterday. I don’t know how long it will take to hear something.”

 

Jake stopped walking and put his arm around her waist. “Does that mean you’ve decided to leave the Navy?”

 

~~~~

 

Christina  Tetreault started writing at the age of ten and never stopped. When she’s not chasing her three young children or two dogs around, she is working or her writing or reading a romance novel.  Currently she is working on Book 4 in the Sherbrookes of Newport series, The Billionaire’s Best Friend.

 

You can visit her website — Christina Tetreault — or follow her on Facebook to learn more about her characters and to track her progress on the series.

 

She loves to hear from readers.

~~~~

 

Check out other romantic excerpts on The Picnic Page

 

More links to enjoy:

 

 

 

Forgivables…What’s on YOUR List?

Everybody has certain stories they love to tell. They’re stories that are part of us, part of our lives, part of who we are. So, those who know me well or who have followed me in cyberspace will already know the story I’m about to tell. I call it the story of THE LONG AND HAPPY MARRIAGE.

The Long and Happy Marriage

Once upon a time, way back when I was growing up, a story was published in the Reader’s Digest about a couple who’d been happily married for a long, long time.  As this happy couple celebrated another anniversary, the reporter covering the story asked the smiling woman, “What’s your secret for a happy marriage?”

“The list,” she quickly replied. She went on to explain that when they were first married, she told her husband she would make a list of ten things for which she would always forgive him.  “It always worked out,” she continued. “Whenever he did something that annoyed me, I’d give it a little thought, then nod, and say, ‘Lucky for you, that’s one of the ten.'”

Naturally, the interviewer’s next question was: “What was on that list?”

The woman blushed, then shrugged. “Well, you know, I never actually got around to making the list…”

And the moral of the story is…

Everybody has annoying little habits, or does things that irritate a spouse or partner, but how many of those things are actually worth fighting about? Not very many.  As people like to say today, Don’t sweat the small stuff. And sometimes folks go on to add that, “It’s all small stuff, really.”

Well, maybe, or maybe not. Some things are worth fighting for, but most of the problems we face in relationships day by day are probably little things we could learn to live with.

As I was thinking again about the story of THE LONG AND HAPPY MARRIAGE, I wondered what “forgivables” would be on my list of ten things if I were to make one.

I have to admit, it was a bit of a challenge. I’m very fortunate to have a loving, understanding husband who really doesn’t annoy me too often…or maybe it’s just that I’ve grown so accustomed to his quirks that I don’t even notice them.

OK, so my list. In no particular order, I will always forgive my husband for:

  • Leaving things on. The television is on day and night — but that’s partly for the parrot — and my husband seems to believe some awful catastrophe will strike if the light above the stove is ever turned off. He’s heard that burglars don’t bother houses with a porch light burning — even all day. He never shuts off any lights. It never occurs to him to shut off radios or fans, either. Oh, well. Honey, I will always forgive you for this.
  • Forgetting the laundry. I should be glad he at least thinks of laundry. I just wish he’d finish what he starts. He’ll throw a load of dirty laundry into the washer…and walk away without washing it. Or, he’ll wash it, then forget it’s there. I’ll find it a few days later. Sometimes he does get a load washed and into the dryer, but then forgets to turn it on. (You’ll notice he seems to have problems turning things off and on.) Once in a while, he will get a load of laundry washed and dried, but that’s as far as it gets until I start looking for something and find the wrinkled mess in the dryer. But, I love him. I can forgive him for this.
  • Not putting a trash bag in the wastebasket. Now, first of all, my husband is very “old school”.  In his opinion — with which I happen to agree — a woman should not have to mow the grass, nor should she ever have to take out the smelly garbage. On occasion, I do take out the trash, but only if he’s not there to do it. I always get out a fresh trash bag, too. But he’s got a habit of…well, forgetting, I guess. I think once he gets outside, he gets distracted or something. So, I forgive him, and I put a new trash bag in for him. It works for us.

  • Setting the toilet paper on the floor. This one, I can’t really figure out. We neither one care if the roll goes “under” or “over”, so that’s not the problem. He’s always great about getting a new roll  when the old one runs out. But instead of putting in ON, he puts it on the floor. Why? I don’t know…but, yeah, I’ll forgive him.
  • Ruining my menu. I plan our meals carefully. I make sure to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, different proteins, and healthy multi-grain carbohydrates. I even post the menu on the refrigerator so he’ll know in advance what I’ve got planned. But he can’t help himself. Now and then, he’s got to stop at the store to pick up milk or bread, and he’ll fill an entire shopping cart with things that aren’t on the menu. He’ll bring home a whole ham, grab a hot, rotisserie chicken, or load up on frozen pizzas because they were on sale. And don’t even talk to me about the hot dogs. I’ve not only forgiven him for messing up my scheduled meals, but for our anniversary last month, I bought him a hot-dog storage container. If he’s going to buy them, at least now he has a place to put them.
  • Channel Surfing. I’m not much of a television viewer, but hubby is. Now, with the wonders of satellite TV and the availability of hundreds of shows on hundreds of channels, he can always find something to watch. Or, more like 5 or 6 things to watch. All at once, of course. With remote in hand, he’s flipping back and forth between his half-dozen shows, and my head starts spinning trying to keep up. For the rare occasions that I watch a show, I’d like to actually watch it.  I guess it’s my problem, not his, so I forgive him. Of course, we’ve got a DVR, so I can always hit the “record” button and watch what I want when I want…which is when my husband isn’t home with his hands on the remote.
  • Blocking my car in the driveway. He does it on purpose, and I know he does. He knows it, too, and he knows that I know it, but he’s a little on the possessive side. He just likes to know I’m safe at home, and that’s where I like to be, so I forgive him when he blocks me in and then says, “Honey, you’re not planning to go anywhere, are you?” No, I’m not. If I were, either he’d gladly move out of the way, or he’d offer to drive. No problem. I’ll forgive him.
  • Promising to do things “later”. He’s such a kind, sweet, loving husband, and he’s always so helpful. He knows I’m busy, so he’s quick to say, “Don’t worry about doing the dishes, honey. I’ll take care of them.” Or, “I know I made a mess on the table, but I’ll pick it up.” Or, how about, “I’ll take those folding chairs out to the shed later.” He fully intends to do what he says…later. It’s just that his conception of “later” and mine aren’t quite the same.  So, I smile, do it myself, and forgive him. I know he really was going to do it…later.
  • Ranting and raving. Thank goodness, he never rants and raves at me. But he does rant and rave to me, which is almost as upsetting. Things annoy him, especially if it’s hot or he’s tired. He’s learned to control his temper when he gets angry, but then he comes home and all his pent-up frustrations spill out in a torrent of four-letter words — usually shouted, of course.  I’m surprised that parrot of ours hasn’t dropped a few f-bombs. She’s certainly heard enough of them. I hate it when hubby gets upset, and I always wish I could do more to calm him down. I guess it helps to have someone who’ll listen to his rants and raves, so I forgive him, and do whatever I can to help.
  • Unscrewing light bulbs. OK, we’re back to the lights again. He never turns them off, but he usually keeps half of them unscrewed in each fixture. “To cut down on electricity,” he says. I have to laugh. Honey, turn them off. That’s how to save on the light bill. But, no, that would be too easy, I suppose. Instead, I have to live with light fixtures that always look as if half the bulbs are burned out. But, I’ll forgive him.

While I can poke fun at him, I know I have just as many — probably more — little quirks that he’s got to forgive. I hope his “forgivables” list might include forgiveness for:

  • Leaving cabinet doors open. Hey, I’m short.
  • Saving empty boxes. You never know when you might need one!
  • Cramming junk in the drawers without sorting through it.
  • Eating rice cakes in bed. Sorry about the crumbs, honey.
  • Leaving half-finished cans of cola sitting around.
  • Buying plants for “my” garden — for him to plant for me.
  • Calling him at work because I don’t know how to switch between the television and the DVD player.
  • Needing him to change the cartridge on the printer because I can’t figure that out either.
  • Not throwing out the wilted flowers. He buys me flowers. All the time. I love them, but I get busy and forget to throw them out after they’ve wilted and died.

And my number one most annoying habit for which I hope he’ll forgive me:

  • Collecting pepper seeds. I have this thing about peppers. Green peppers. Red peppers. Orange peppers. Yellow peppers. I can’t cut one open without saving the seeds. Yes, I’ve planted some, grown plants from them, got peppers from them, and saved those seeds, too. We have pepper seeds everywhere. I save them in baggies, I put them in jars, I roll them up in tissue, I try to hide them…it’s an obsession!  I can’t help myself!
Fresh picked from MY garden!

Fresh picked from MY garden!

Honey, please, forgive me for the peppers!

~~~~~~~~~

Now, it’s YOUR turn. I want to hear about YOUR list of “forgivables”.

What foolishness, foibles, faults, and flaws are YOU willing to forgive?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the August giveaway.

From: Forever Love — A Short, Sweet, Sexy Excerpt

In my continuing series of picnic scenes this summer, I’m pleased to share this scene, courtesy of romance author Melissa Keir. Enjoy!

Forever Love

From:   Forever Love by Melissa Keir

Seducing a man was outside my range of experience. I’d had only a few simple lovers feeling that my virginity was more of a hindrance than a blessing. After arranging for Dad to have dinner with T.J.’s mom, I ran to the local grocery for the ingredients to my famous chicken piccata. Packing my picnic basket with everything we might need from food to beer, I hoped tonight would be perfect even while I deliberated if I’d be able to go through with my plan.

With the basket in my hands and a smile on my face, I jumped into T.J.’s truck when he arrived after dusk.

“Where to pretty lady?”

“Let’s go back to where it started. Let’s go to the beach.”

Watching his face throughout the drive thrilled me with the excitement I had over finally acknowledging my feelings. Longing to run my fingers over his jaw and lips, I sat on my hands in order to keep from reaching for him.

“Why are you looking like the cat that swallowed the canary?”

“I had a long talk with Dad. He enjoyed your visit and the dinner with your mom at the VFW. I haven’t seen his spirits that high since I returned to Amherst. That’s because of you. Thanks.”

“I always liked your dad. He was cool even with playing all mean and all. I’d have loved to spent time fishing or hunting with him. My own dad was gone a lot so we weren’t close. I felt like I could be that way with your dad.”

“I didn’t realize. But I’m glad you and Dad get along. He seems to have eyes for your mom.”

“Eww. Stop that! No pictures of parents and sex.”

I laughed at the look on his face. “So you don’t want to be brother and sister?”

“No, I have other plans for you and your basket! It was nice to be asked to dinner. I can smell your famous chicken. I haven’t had it in ages. No one makes it like you do.”

“I have cherry pie for dessert too.”

Another of his full smiles crossed his face as he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

“Hey, eyes on the road. We’re almost there.” The banter comfortable was between us. Knowing he was the one for me, my nervousness evaporated.

The beach parking lot was relatively empty because of the recent chill to Ohio’s weather. T.J. walked over to my door and opened it for me, pulling the basket into his hands.

“Let me help with this. Do you remember when we used to come here on the weekends and sit watching the sun set? We’d talk about our dreams.”

Turning toward T.J. and pulling the basket from his hands, I set it on the ground before looking him in the eye. “Yes. Those were my favorite times—sharing my plans with you for my life. I’ve thought of you but never took the chance of thinking we could go back to what we had. However, Amherst is my home again and you’ve earned that second chance.”

I pulled his body close to mine and devoured his lips, breathing nor the chicken was important. So stepping away from T.J. was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I want to take my time with him, with this. I needed to cool down.

“Catch me.” Running with the basket was harder than I realized. T.J. quickly caught up to me on the soft Erie sand.

“You’re mine.” He growled before lowering me to the sand, kissing me with passion.

~ ~ ~ ~

You can visit Melissa on the web here:

Sexy Between the Covers

Other books by Melissa include Beach Desires, and A Christmas Accident, both part of the Wilder series, as well as Second Time’s the Charm, Three’s a Crowd, and more.

For more romantic excerpts from your favorite authors, click here:

The Picnic Page