Borders Wrapping Paper




Mrs. Kohler had gravitated to a group near the Christmas tree. Two older ladies sat side by side, wiping their eyes. She probably needed a minute.

Flora sat down next to a blonde woman at the wrapping table. Laundry baskets full of toys lined the wall, each with a little tag on it. In front of each seat at each of the six-foot tables was a huge roll of wrapping paper on a metal rack.

“Here, let me show you.” The blonde pulled some paper from the roll under a metal bar. Then she ripped it along the bar. “It works like a big roll of waxed paper. We got these when the Borders at the mall closed. The paper, too. It’s made the whole process so much easier.”

“Thank you.” Flora grabbed a toy from the basket behind her chair and wrapped it in the paper the blonde had just ripped off.

I worked at Borders for 10 years. We did free gift wrapping. The wrapping paper was on these huge metal racks that allowed us to pull it off in lengths. The rolls were massive. A few times while I worked there we were told to throw out paper before the roll was finished. That never happened. I got 2-3 rolls over my years. They weren’t as easy to use as they had been with the racks, but man that paper lasted forever. Good sturdy paper, too.

I miss Borders.


Christmas in The Philippines




“What is your family doing for the holiday? They have Christmas in the Philippines, don’t they?”

“The Philippines has the longest Christmas season in the world.” Flora passed over the next dish.


“We start in September and finish in January on the Feast of the Epiphany. There’s caroling and food and decorations.”

“It sounds lovely.”

Flora nodded and swallowed. “When my grandmother was alive, the whole family would come to our house on Christmas Eve for a big dinner and we would all go to midnight mass together.”

Do yourself a favor. Look up Christmas in The Philippines. It’s amazing.

Riding Boots




“Are those the shoes you’re wearing?” he asked as they got to the rental.

Flora looked at the UGG Australia boots Amanda had gotten for this trip. They were lined and laced up the front and reached right to where her jeans fell. The look was perfect. “Yes.”

Wally shook his head. “You need a heel.”

“A heel?”

“So your foot doesn’t slide through the stirrup. Come on.” He went to the huge garage and opened the person-sized door on the left. The inside was huge and empty enough to shoot an indie movie in though there was a big piece of equipment on the last bay. It even had a second floor. Wally climbed the stairs.

“Where are you going?”

“There’s some old boots up here.” Wally stepped off the top step and the rafters creaked.

Years ago, I took riding lessons. I went to my first lesson (which I had worn sneakers to) my instructor told me I needed boots. She took me out to her car and opened the trunk. In her trunk, were approximately thirty pairs of boots. She found a pair in my size and sold them to me for $15. I still have those boots.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!





Wally glanced away from the bar as he stopped at the crossing of old seventy-six. Two evergreens had been planted at this end of the circle when he was in high school by an Eagle Scout. At some point in the last dozen years, someone had strung lights on the trees and never removed them. They glowed from the inside of the trees like the ghosts of Christmas Trees Past. “It’s a small town. Probably nobody sees a point taking the lights down when they still work.”

Not far from where I grew up was a town right off the interstate. In the middle on one of the off ramp cloverleaves was a pine tree. One year the town put lights around one of those trees.

And never took them down.

Those lights were up for at least a decade before somebody cut the tree down. Of course the tree kept growing and the lights didn’t so about the second or third year the tree looked like it was glowing and by year five or six you could see the outline of the old tree inside the current one. It was hilarious and much remarked upon in local media. Which is probably why it got cut down. Now they just put up an inflatable snowman which just doesn’t have the same pizzazz.

Rescuing Jack is here!




Marie Franklin set up her veterinary practice in tiny Weaver’s Circle to hide her association to one of the biggest names in rock and roll. Helping Will Perkins with his rescue puppy is a great in and falling for him is better. But this puppy is one of the Bachelor Party Rescue Puppies and Marie’s cover is about to be blown.

Warning: Ill mannered puppies, lethal vegetables, and unwanted fame


“People aren’t going to know where we are. It’s October. The weather could do anything.” Beth chewed her fingernails. Then she caught sight of Marie and waved. “Hi. Would you like to weigh in?”

“Weigh in?” Marie asked. She walked closer.

“We’re talking about the wedding,” Beth said.

“Again,” James muttered.

Beth socked him in the shoulder. “We wanted to do it in the gazebo, but I’m afraid it’ll rain.”

Nancy had said you didn’t need an invitation to join things in town. Apparently that included planning the weddings of near strangers. Marie gave the puppy some slack. “Well, the reverend did say you could move inside if it rained.”

“But how are the guests going to know?”

“Have you printed the invitations yet?” The wedding was three weeks away. They should have sent them out by now.

James groaned.

“I didn’t plan on really having invitations. The only people I would want there are people in town and a couple of girls from college.”

“Except for the people minding the girls.” James shuffled his feet.

Beth shot a look down the road between the church and the hair salon. “Mrs. Vorac and Mrs. Coin said they were happy to do it.” Then she turned back to Marie. “You’re coming, aren’t you?”

“Me?” The puppy had wrapped the leash around Marie’s legs. “I didn’t get an invitation.”

“Nobody did.” Beth waved her hand. “That’s why I wanted it here. So everybody could come.”

This was not the land of confidentiality agreements before the location of the wedding was revealed. “You could let out the word that if the weather is fair, it’ll be in the gazebo and if it rains, it’ll be in the church.”

“No one will come if it’s in the church.” Beth chewed her lip and looked up at James.

James put his arm around her shoulders. “Of course they will. Dr. Franklin said she’s coming.”

“Coming to what?” Will asked. He dropped to one knee so he could greet his puppy.

“Our wedding.” James said.

Will stood and put his arm around Marie’s shoulders. “I thought we were going to that together.”

Marie blinked at him. He’d mentioned the wedding before, but it hadn’t come up again. Why was she still expecting an invitation to appear on a silver salver? “I guess. I hadn’t thought about it.”

“Don’t worry, Beth. Everybody will be there.” Reverend Thomas patted Beth’s arm. “Irene said you were going to decorate with pumpkins and fall leaves and she said she can make the pieces portable so she can set them up wherever we hold the ceremony.”

“It sounds lovely,” Marie said, leaning a bit into Will.

Beth nodded.

“Sweetheart, I need to get back to the library before Andrea loses the girls.” James kissed Beth’s cheek.

Beth looked at her watch. “Damn, art is nearly finished. I have to go, too.”

“Hey Will, my car is making a noise,” James said. “When can I bring it in?”

“Not until next week. We’re booked solid this week. I’ll put you down for Monday when I get back to the garage, okay?”

“Thanks.” James guided Beth away from the gazebo.

Reverend Thomas smiled and nodded at Marie and Will as he followed them away.

“What are you doing out here?” Will asked.

“I was going to run your puppy through some training between appointments. What about you? Shouldn’t you be fixing something?”

“Takin’ a break. Boss doesn’t mind.” He frowned. “You don’t mind that I told them we were coming to the wedding together, do you?”

“Why would I? Did you want me to get the gift?” Surely they were registered some place.

“They aren’t asking for anything. With all the junk in Nonie’s house, they might be giving gifts to us.” Will smiled. “I had a great time last night.”

“Me, too.”

“I’m ready!” Luke shouted across the street as he banged through the office door. “What do we do first?”

“I assumed when we got to where we were interrupted by kids they’d be ours.” Will stepped back.

Marie focused on unraveling the leash from around her legs. Kids? He was already thinking kids? Candy had given up on finding the perfect father material and adopted a couple from China. Tessa and Brett were talking about adopting, too. Marie had been so busy trying to start a life here that she hadn’t considered what would happen after it started. She held out the leash to Luke. “I want to teach her to heel. Keep the leash taut and walk her up and down the Circle. Remember to encourage her and give her a treat when she doesn’t pull away.”

Luke took the puppy.

Good training required incremental challenges and treats.

“You probably don’t need to drop her off with me every day. She’s good in the kennel now,” Marie said. “Maybe just every other day.”

“You only want to see me every other day?”

“You could stop by on your way without the puppy. Who, by the way, still needs a name.”

“I’m working on it. What about letting her out in the afternoons? When she’s with you, she gets out when Luke comes in.”

“Do your neighbor kids still want to help with her?” Luke had reached the far end of the Circle and turned back. The puppy bounced along next to him like a Kentucky high stepper, her eyes trained on his hand for the next treat.

“I think you should come over and get us started.”

“You do?”

He pulled her tighter. “Any excuse to get you to my house.”

Pre-order now




The Puppies are Coming!

This is that happened. Last year about this time there was a story in the news about a group of guys on a bachelor party weekend who found and subsequently rescued a bunch of puppies. I mentioned it to some of my writer friends.

Them: OMG, this should be a boxed set or a series or something.

Me: It should

One of them: So, are we getting this off the ground or what?

Me: You lead and I will follow.

Other friend: Dooo eeeet.

And so we made some plans for a group release and retired to our various writing caves to create our stories. One of them is already out, but mine follows on about a week and then the other five through the rest of the month. Click here to find the list so you can order them all, because who doesn’t love a man with a puppy?



Back in the jeans and shirt she’d started the day in, Marie left through the front door. Duffer had taken Will and the puppy to the pond. He wasn’t limping so chances were good that she’d done nothing more than hurt his feelings. She scanned the pond.

“Oh no!” She ran down the steps to the side of the pond. One duck. Two ducks. No third duck.

“What’s the matter?” Will asked.

“That fox killed another one of my ducks.” Marie chewed the inside of her lip.

“You have a problem with a fox?”

“After it got the last one, I had that house built for them so they could go directly from shelter into the water, but they didn’t learn.” She pointed to the little yellow and white trimmed house that extended over the water and had a fenced in area along the shore at the back.

My brother lives down the street from the town vet in the tiny town I was born in. She built her house on land that used to be the town airport. Don’t ask me why my tiny hometown needed an airport. I never could figure out how they landed anything with more horsepower than a lawn mower on that strip anyway. But, when the vet came to town she bought approximately one acre plot and built a house on it with a pond (and a paddock for her horse.) It didn’t go well for the ducks.





“Did she come from the city?”

“What city?” Steve asked.

“Any city. Nobody seems to know anything about her.” Will glanced at the vet’s office. It had been one of the original homes in Weaver’s Circle, dating back over a hundred and fifty years. She had to have come here for a reason. She had the whole world to choose from.

“I thought she was from New York.” Steve used a fork to strip the crispy skin off his chicken breast.

“Ask Chief Dan,” Rick said.

“Do you think he knows everybody in New York because he used to live there?”

“No, I thought he might recognize her accent.”

“She doesn’t have an accent.”

“Everybody has an accent, you just don’t hear yours because you’re used to it.”

“Two semesters of community college and you’re a linguist?”

This hits two of my pet peeves. One) if you’re from a place, you must know everybody from there. When I was living overseas I did know a woman from North East Ohio, but there were others and every time I would meet someone who knew one of them they would say, “Oh! You’re from Ohio! You must know X!” No, not necessarily. My two closest friends in the UAE were both from Illinois, opposite ends of the state. Another was from Missouri and a thrid originally from Texas, but she’d spent most of her professional life in Oklahoma. (I also knew people from Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Colorado, and Hawaii to name a few.) So no, I probably did not know people from my home state. And two) “I don’t have an accent. You have an accent.” Everybody has an accent, you just don’t hear yours because most if not all of the people around you have the same accent. I love accents. I had a friend from Yorkshire and one of the features of that accent is the lack of a native phoneme. I spent a lot of time trying to get her to say words that had that phoneme to hear her not say it. Yeah, I’m weird. I’m good with it.