Ordinary Day

And it's all your state of mind...


Periodic reminder: How to buy my books
Book Geek
annathepiper

I get asked about this every so often, so here’s a reminder of what books I have, and how to buy them!

Faerie Blood and Bone Walker are both available in print and in ebook form. You can order the print copies via my Square store, via the Bandcamp merch pages set up for them, or via the various ways you can pay me directly. Note also that these are my only two books currently available in print. If you want something from me in print form, these are the titles to get.

Faerie Blood and Bone Walker are both also available wherever I sell ebooks, which currently includes Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Google Play, and Smashwords. All places you can buy the ebooks are linked to on the books’ official pages, although you can also just buy them directly from me, like you can the print copies. Best way to do that is via my Square store.

The print editions of these books are $15 each if I’m selling them to you directly, $17 if I need to mail. I also ask for cost of shipping. The ebooks are $2.99 each. See my Buying From Me page for what to do if you’d like to buy things from me directly. Otherwise, look at the Faerie Blood and Bone Walker official pages for where all you can buy the books.

Valor of the Healer, Vengeance of the Hunter, and Victory of the Hawk are all available digitally wherever ebooks are sold. Worldwide, your best best for where to buy them is straight off of the official Carina Press site. I get slightly more of a royalty for purchases directly from Carina. However, you can also find the titles on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and Google Play.

The Rebels books are not available in print. If you’d like them to be so, the best way to make that happen is to buy the ebooks and demonstrate to Carina that the sales numbers warrant it. If you have the Rebels books already, consider buying them for friends!

The ebooks of the Rebels trilogy are all $2.99 apiece, although prices may periodically vary if one or more of the ebook selling sites decides to do a special. (But they don’t warn me about that in advance!)

ALSO: Valor of the Healer is the only title of the Rebels books that also has an audiobook. You can find the links to where to buy the audiobook on Valor’s official page. If you’re an audiobook fan and you’d like to see Vengeance and Victory get audio versions, again, buy the first one and show Carina there’s a demand for it!

Any questions? Let me know!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Le Vent du Nord at the Rogue in Vancouver BC, 1/27/2016
Music All Around You
annathepiper

As I’ve already written about several times on my blog, it’s always a pleasure to hear Le Vent du Nord perform–although this time, it was on a seriously rainy Wednesday night at the Rogue. Yet the loyal fans filled the place nonetheless!

This time too we actually were without Olivier Demers. If you’ve been following my posts and have seen my earlier Le Vent concert posts, you know Olo’s my favorite of all the members of the group! (And I’m not just saying that because he follows me on Facebook and therefore might actually read this. Auquel cas je dois dire SALUT OLO!)

But this time he had to stay home, due to having a death in his family. :( He posted to his Facebook wall that his father had passed away just a couple of days before the show. (And I was simultaneously very sad to hear the news and a bit relieved to have been warned about it in advance, because if I’d shown up without knowing M. Demers wouldn’t be on hand, I would have been even sadder!)

So Le Vent had to pull in Jean-François Gagnon Branchaud as emergency backup fiddler. If you know Quebecois trad, you may well recognize his name as one of the two fiddlers currently playing with La Bottine Souriante, who also sings some lead on La Bottine’s last album. And if you know La Bottine, you know that anybody who plays for them is guaranteed to bring their A game to a stage. Jean-François did not disappoint, and so even though we all missed Olivier, it was still a delightful show!

Let’s get down to the details, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Who wants to beta read Queen of Souls?
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

Now that I’ve finished my obligations with Carina and the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy, this means I can turn more attention this year to what I’m going to work on next. I have a few remaining obligations for the 2012 Kickstarter backers–I’ve got to finish owed novellas, and I’m still pondering as to whether I’m going to release those individually to the public, or do a collected volume so that I can also print it. More on this in another post.

This post, however, is about what’s likely to be my next novel release at this point–my Greek mythology-based story Queen of Souls.

I had to put it on hold though while I was dealing with the Kickstarter and with the Rebels trilogy. Now, though, since it’s the next actual finished manuscript I’ve got, it’s finally time for this book to pop off the queue.

Tomorrow, I’ll be having a conversation with my agent (words I’m still not used to saying, ha!), and I’ve sent her a copy of the current QoS draft. I’ve offered her first shot at it, to see if she likes it and would like to try to sell it. If she does, what will happen next is that I’ll turn QoS over to her and let her see if she can find it a home.

If she declines to take it on, I will be moving forward with publishing it myself, similar to how I did Faerie Blood and Bone Walker.

Either way, I’m also in talks with the editor I worked with at Carina, to engage her freelance to take on an edit pass through this story. Since I already know I can work with her, and that she’s really good at tightening up my prose, I think QoS will benefit from her eyes on it. I’m already working on doing a light edit pass through the book myself, based on what I’ve learned from my experiences working with Deb on the Rebels books.

But before I turn the book over to Deb for editing (currently roughly scheduled for some time in April), I’m going to want beta reader eyes on it too. This is where y’all come in, Internets!

Who wants to beta read the next draft of Queen of Souls?

Some of you out there have seen the first draft, and I did get in beta commentary for that that I never did finish looking at either. But I think a totally fresh beta pass is called for, especially given that I’ve expanded the beginning of the story. There’s now a Part One, three chapters long, laying down the setup for what’s going on here amongst my Olympians, and to give us a transition from ancient times to the current day. Part Two, starting with Chapter Four, picks up where the original first draft started, with Kori in Pike Place Market.

I’ve also decided that the chapters of this story actually need titles. This is because I really liked the idea of a chapter called “The Horse of the North Wind”–so I figured I’d better go ahead and give titles to all the chapters, too. Chapter titles don’t seem to be in vogue as much anymore, at least not in the books I’ve read over the last few years. But there’s something of an old-school classical feel to having named chapters for me, and that’s an appropriate overall feel to invoke for this story and the mythology involved.

What I will need out of potential beta readers:

  • As always, look for typos. You don’t need to go over the whole manuscript with a fine-toothed comb necessarily–remember, this story IS going to get handed to an editor–but if you feel ambitious and WANT to go over the whole book looking for typos, you have my gratitude in advance.
  • Commentary along the lines of “this chapter ends weirdly because X and Y” or “I’m a Greek mythology geek and you’ve invoked this particular detail wrong/weirdly” or “oh hey you have a continuity error about A and B between this chapter and that chapter” is helpful.
  • If you’re feeling really ambitious, commentary about story structure is also welcome. Though again–that’s usually the kind of commentary I expect to get from an editor, so that’s not required for a beta pass.

It would be easiest on me if people who want to beta for me have access to Microsoft Word, so that they can go through the manuscript file and mark things with Word’s comments feature. Then the file can be handed back to me and I can have Word in revisions mode so that I can whip quickly through proposed revisions. In the past, I’ve done things like let people just send me email about this or that typo, or post comments to me here on my blog on a locked post–but I’ve found that that actually creates extra work for me. This time, I’d like to make it a bit easier on myself so that I can focus more time on the actual revisions.

If you want to beta and you don’t have access to Word, please note also that a quick google indicates to me that revisions comments in both LibreOffice and Pages should come back to me successfully in Word.

If you want in on the beta effort, I will be releasing QoS to beta probably some time in the first week of February. So talk to me! Drop me a comment here, or in email, or on the various social networks.

Looking forward to unleashing this story on you all. 😀

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


The web server is stabilized again! And other fun forthcoming news!
Blue Hawaii Grin
annathepiper

I’m pleased to report that Dara and I have gotten the web server stabilized again, and after quite a few days of work recovering assorted webpages, I can resume proper posting here. Be on the lookout for several Boosting the Signal posts I was going to share with you that I hadn’t been able to thanks to the server going down.

This whole server recovery effort has been particularly enlightening for me, since we discovered that the probable entry point onto our server was via one of the WordPress blogs we host. So I’ve been learning how to tighten up certain aspects of Apache in general and of WordPress in particular. And I’ve pulled a couple of the blogs we host into a general network with my OWN blogs, so that they share space and I can keep a closer eye on all of them. Plus, I’ve been working on porting the website for LexFA (the Lexington SF and Fantasy Association, a fandom group in Kentucky that Dara and I were in while we lived there) into WordPress. It hadn’t been before, and the site was sorely out of date as a result.

I’m glad though that the bulk of this work is over and I can get back to my usual business. Which means actually getting some writing and editing done! Currently on tap: a copyedit pass through Queen of Souls, which is coming off the queue and is very, VERY likely to be released this summer or fall. When I finish that edit pass, I’ll be swinging back to tightening up the now-complete novella currently called “A Power in the Blood”, AND proceeding with the next novella owed to Kickstarter backers. More bulletins on this as events warrant!

Next week there WILL also be a Le Vent du Nord concert report, because I’m going to go see mes gars in Vancouver again at the Rogue, and it will be awesome.

And right on the heels of that, Dara and I are going to Conflikt! This will be particularly exciting this year as Dara is the official Toastmaster Toastmuppet for the convention, marking her first time as a guest of honor at a con. HUGELY exciting. She’ll be performing, of course. And I’ll be contributing by manning a table for her in the convention’s little dealers’ room. Conflikt is a music convention, but since the Bone Walker soundtrack is related to my books, I’ll have copies of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker to sell along with Dara’s music. So if you’re going to Conflikt, come say hi to me at the table! And look for Dara being in charge of proceedings as only she can. (Be sure to duck if you see her going for the heat ray!)

And then in February I will be going back up to Canada AGAIN, this time for a music workshop. Because I got invited to attend a special small workshop being held by none other than Andre Brunet, fiddler for De Temps Antan, and second place contender for the title of Anna’s Favorite Fiddle Player from Quebec. This will be huge, huge fun. Particularly since I have also been informed that these shenanigans will involve a participants concert for anybody attending the workshop who wants to get up and make musical noises.

Which means: I will actually have a chance break out the guitar and sing something, from my years of experience whipping through the Great Big Sea songs I know. Which gives me reason to actually bring the General with me on this trip, as well as various flutes and whistles.

Which further means: I’d be singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of someone who has actually performed with Great Big Sea.

(Because as I’ve often liked to relate, both my love of Great Big Sea and my love of Quebec trad can be traced right back to the very same concert, the first time I saw both GBS and La Bottine Souriante, way back in 2000 at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Andre was in La Bottine at the time, though I didn’t know that then!)

And this really kinda blows my mind a bit. *^_^*;; Singing Great Big Sea ditties in earshot of someone who has actually shared a stage with them is only slightly less scary than singing Great Big Sea ditties within earshot of actual Great Big Sea members.

But am I gonna do it? HELL YEAH. I will in fact be whipping out my very best GBS songs for this occasion. I’m thinking “Jack Hinks” and “Trois Navires de Ble”. Hell, this workshop’s featuring a Francophone fiddler, I feel almost obligated to sing something in French, and my options for “things GBS has recorded in French” are pretty minimal! But “Trois Navires de Ble” IS special to me regardless as the very first thing I learned how to play and sing at the same time, the very first thing I learned how to play on an instrument with strings, and the very first thing I learned to sing in French. 😀

The next few weeks are going to ROCK, you guys. I look forward to sharing them with you all!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


RIP, Professor Snape :(
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper
Severus Snape

Severus Snape

Got up this morning to find the news exploding around the net that Alan Rickman has passed away–which makes two different 69-year-old Brits taken out by cancer in the same week, Rickman and David Bowie. And I gotta say, even though I’m not in the active Harry Potter fandom, I appreciate the books and the movies enough that this has hit closer to home for me. Bowie I’ve respected for his contributions to music as well as SF/F, even though I haven’t listened to his music.

Losing Rickman, though… fuck. :( This hits hard not only because of Potter, but also Galaxy Quest, long beloved by SF/F fandom for its homage to Star Trek. And Die Hard as well, which has even been recently re-watched in my household. I also distinctly remember Rickman’s role in the Sweeney Todd movie that started Johnny Depp. I liked him in that, too. A small list of things I’ve ever actually seen him in–but oh man, what a list.

Here’s a roundup of links about the news I’ve seen so far on my usual morning reading:

Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and Die Hard actor, dies aged 69 on BBC News

Alan Rickman Has Died; This Week Is the Worst on the Mary Sue

Alan Rickman, 1946–2016 on Tor.com

Oh, and Alan Rickman, on John Scalzi’s blog at the Whatever

Those of you who read me who ARE actively in the Harry Potter fandom, especially the Snape fans, many condolences for y’all today. And to all who have loved Rickman in any of his performances.

In conclusion:

  • This week is bad and should feel bad
  • Somebody needs to go check on Tim Curry, STAT
  • Fuck cancer

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Testing, testing, testing, is this thing on?
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

Well, that was certainly unpleasant!

To recap for those of you who don’t follow me directory on the social networks, or who might not have seen me reporting: this past weekend, Dara and I had to completely overhaul our web server. This was basically the same operation we had to do LAST month on the mail server: i.e., completely flatten the box and reinstall a fresh install of the operating system, and then rebuild all our data on it.

What brought this on? My trying to do a WordPress security update, and discovering that the server’s root password no longer worked. Pro tip: that’s bad.

So yeah. Cue emergency server maintenance and tearing my hair out trying to figure out the safest way to reconstruct both my WordPress sites: annathepiper.org and angelahighland.com. I THINK my sites are now both back up again, after I did a completely fresh install of WordPress AND a fresh install of necessary themes and plugins, and then restored the old tables out of the database and the old media to populate both sites.

So if y’all are reading this, do me a favor: please browse around on both annathepiper.org and angelahighland.com, and let me know if anything looks broken.

Known issues on annathepiper.org:

* Clicking on the flickr galleries on the GBS pictures I have there is borked, but that was borked before all this happened;
* The RP logs archive pages there aren’t working yet either

I am not currently aware of anything actively broken on angelahighland.com, but if you see something that looks wacky, please let me know immediately! Especially if it’s on any of the higher level pages for my various books.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, go talk to Dara and let her know too if anything looks wacky on crimeandtheforcesofevil.com.

Still to do: I need to reconstruct and restore the other WordPress blogs we host, most of which will be rolled together into a single WordPress install to minimize the number of access points onto our system. This impacts baconforbirds.com (which we WILL be bringing back online by Paul’s request even if he’s not actively working on the site right now), upcc.org, uplakekenmore.org, and emeraldforestfilk.org. I will also be looking into converting lexfa.org into a WordPress blog to add to the aforementioned single install.

Any questions, talk to me!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


HEADS UP: Murkworks.net web server is down for emergency maintenance
Hard Day
annathepiper
For everybody who has resources hosted on lodestone, the Murkworks.net web server: Dara and I discovered this morning that the root password on that box is no longer working. We have to therefore assume that the system has been compromised, and all data on it is now suspect. We will be doing a complete system reset on the box, and we will have to ask all users with lodestone passwords to change passwords--not only on lodestone, but on newmoon and door as well if you have accounts on those boxes.

Which means that we will need to reach out to individual users by phone and work with you to get your passwords safely updated. We will not, repeat, NOT send password data by email. If we don't already have current contact data for you, please email me ASAP at my gmail account, annathepiper, and let me know how we can get in touch with you.

Note as well that this means that all web pages we host will be down until this is resolved. Particularly the webpages that are hosted on Wordpress installs.

We apologize for this inconvenience. And you may assume we are swearing vigorously about having to do ANOTHER server reset. :(

‘Tis the season to post awards eligibility!
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

So since I’ve started seeing the yearly round of authors posting about “what I wrote last year that’s eligible to be voted on for awards THIS year”, what the hey, here’s my post on that.

Novels released by me in 2015 are, of course:

Bone Walker, book 2 of the Free Court of Seattle series.

Victory of the Hawk, book 3 of the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy.

I’m pretty sure that neither of the short stories I released in 2015 (“The Blood of the Land” and “The Disenchanting of Princess Cerridwen”) really count for 2016 awards eligibility, on the grounds that both of these stories have been previously available and therefore aren’t really new work. “The Blood of the Land” was originally released by Drollerie, and “Cerridwen” has been previously available as a free read here on my very own webpage. (And still is, for that matter.)

So if anybody out there feels like nominating me for anything*, please focus on the novels. And while you’re at it, if you want to consider nominating the Bone Walker soundtrack as a Best Related Work, that wouldn’t suck either. 😀

Thanks to all for your consideration!

* And by ‘anything’, I mostly mean ‘the Hugos’, since I’m also pretty sure I’m not eligible for the Nebulas on the grounds that I am not a SFWA member. And I can’t be in contention for the RITAs since I don’t write romance, and the RITAs dropped their category for works ‘with romantic content’ (the only RITA category in which I might have actually qualified). The EPPIEs, maybe? But hey, if there are other awards I might be eligible for, surprise me. ;D

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Boosting the Signal: Here Be Magic Boxed Set, by Various Authors, Post No. 6
Castle and Beckett and Book
annathepiper

And now, the second post of today’s Boosting the Signal doubleheader for the Here Be Magic boxed set! This final post in this feature run showcases Angela Campbell, whose story in the boxed set is Gorgeous Nightmare. And I think it’s safe to say that Angela’s heroine’s goal is “navigate her way through chaos”, based on the excerpt Angela’s sent me to share with you all! And by chaos, I mean “figure out how to deal with her ex-husband”.

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Here Be Magic Boxed Set

Here Be Magic Boxed Set

I am a big fan of books that can’t be pigeonholed into one specific genre because, let’s face it, the best stories are a mixture of drama, comedy, romance, and suspense—right?

Personally, I also love stories that toss in a little magic in the form of paranormal or fantasy. That’s why I’m so thrilled to be a part of this anthology, which features a great selection of stories that mix genres in an exciting way.

My contribution is GORGEOUS NIGHTMARE. Dakota McBride is doing everything she can to fit into her new life in Asheville while guarding secrets that could get her killed. An unexpected run-in with Tyler Jackson—her older brother’s best friend and her long-time fantasy—puts everything in jeopardy. Dakota is a woman being hunted by a deadly serial killer, and Tyler seems hell-bent on protecting her, same as he always has. Through dreams, he’s foreseen her impending death. What neither Tyler nor the killer understand is that Dakota doesn’t need a protector. Heaven help anyone who threatens her now…

For readers of my books, I should point out this story isn’t part of my psychic detectives series, although it features a psychic hero solving a (hopefully) suspenseful mystery.

Here’s a brief except:

She was about to open her mouth and ask Tyler again what he was doing there when there was a soft knock on the door behind her.

“Dakota? You in there?” Wayne asked.

Tyler’s smile widened as he smoothly shifted his feet to the ground. “Now things are about to get real interesting.”

“Shhh. Don’t move.” Dakota held up a hand warning Tyler not to disobey her as she turned, took a deep breath, and opened her door only a crack.

Wayne cradled Ricky Bobby in the crook of his arm as he frowned down at her. “You weren’t manning the desk.”

“Sorry. I needed to come grab something real quick. A feminine item.” Her pulse throbbed in her ears as she struggled to stay calm. “Can you please give me a minute?”

His gaze lifted, peering through the open space and into the room behind her. She moved to block his view as much as possible.

“Everything OK?” Wayne asked, his voice softening with concern.

“Uh huh.”

Of course, that’s when all hell broke loose. The yappy hellhound started vibrating with a menacing growl that quickly morphed into a loud succession of ferocious barks. Wayne’s entire body stiffened as his gaze lifted above hers, and Dakota knew without a doubt Tyler was standing right behind her.

“Mr. Kohler?” Wayne’s expression matched the confusion in his voice as he struggled to keep hold of the squirming canine.

The warm press of a body against her back shocked Dakota into silence as an arm clamped around her waist, pulling her tight against Tyler’s front. “I appreciate you checking on my wife, but I can take it from here.”

Wife! Had he lost his mind? Wait a minute. Tyler was Kohler? That wasn’t Tyler’s last name.

“Wayne, he’s not serious. I’m not his wife.”

“Honey, we might have been separated, but we’re still married and you know it.”

Oh for the love of—

She elbowed Tyler’s side and was about as effective at moving him as a feather shifting a rock. His arm tightened around her middle, and the loud hum of a purr at her ear told her the cat was still firmly in his grip, too.

Things were spiraling out of control, and Dakota’s grasp on the doorknob tightened as she fought back the panic clawing at her insides. Worse yet, she had to fight the urge to lean back and let the comforting warmth of Tyler’s body seep into hers.

Wayne’s features paled before hardening. Ricky Bobby was now frantically trying to kill Tyler or the cat—or both. She supposed it didn’t matter because that’s when a door slammed open somewhere down the hall and Sandra’s voice called out, “Ricky Bobby?”

Seconds later, Sandra flounced into view, a pink eyemask pushed up and covering her forehead. “What on earth are you doing to my dog?”

The cat—she’d been calling him Harley because of how loudly he purred—began hissing and screeching, and Tyler’s arm fell away from Dakota’s middle, presumably so he could wrestle with the animal. Good. She hoped his muscular chest got shredded.

Wayne thrust the dog at Sandra. “I’m sorry, Ms. Coswell. Would you please excuse Dakota and me? I need to have a word with her.” He gave Tyler a stern look. “In private.”

Sandra’s eyes were wide as they flicked between Dakota and Wayne, and Dakota felt her face catch fire as she followed her boss down the hall. He stopped at the door that held the supplies before turning on her.

“What the hell is going on?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t—”

“Is he your husband?” He ran a hand through his graying hair. “Is this one of those abused wife situations? You were hiding from him? That’s why you were so desperate for this job and a place to stay?”

“What? No!”

“I want the truth. Do you know that man?”

Dakota clenched her teeth and lifted her chin. “I’ve never seen him before in my life.”

Wayne’s probing eyes scanned her face. “You’re a terrible liar.” He sighed. “That was the cat I told you not to feed, right?”

She glanced away, knowing she was caught.

“Look, I’m sorry, but I can’t have this kind of trouble here. I need you to leave. Do you want me to call the police so he doesn’t follow you?”

What? No, no, no. This couldn’t be happening.

“Wayne, please, no. I need this job.”

“Do you want me to call the police or not?” he repeated, biting out each word as if it left a bad taste in his mouth.

No. That was the last thing she needed. She crossed her arms and shook her head.

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Buy the Book: Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

Follow Angela Campbell On: Official Site | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+

Follow Here Be Magic Authors On: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Boosting the Signal: Here Be Magic Boxed Set, by Various Authors, Post No. 5
Beckett and Book
annathepiper

And, finally (albeit wrapping around from last week, the last of the Boosting the Signal feature posts for the Here Be Magic Boxed Set! I’ve got one more doubleheader today for you all. The first of the two posts features yet another prior Boosting the Signal guest, and yet another bestselling Carina author: Cindy Spencer Pape. Cindy’s story in the set is Devil of Bourbon Street, and she’s offering up an excerpt to tease your fancy. Her hero, Detective Quinn Carling, has a nicely understated goal in this scene: doing a good turn for a street busker. Or at least, on the surface. Check out the scene for what he’s really after!

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Here Be Magic Boxed Set

Here Be Magic Boxed Set

“Come into the café and I’ll buy you lunch—no strings attached.” It was something Toni would have done, and it seemed a good way to honor her memory today.

Her lips, devoid of makeup, quirked. “They won’t let me in—I have a dog.”

He brushed aside a vine and peered through the fence. Sure enough a big mutt—Labrador sized, maybe, but with something long-haired and spotted in its background—thumped its tail by the street singer’s feet and grinned up at Quinn. A battered plastic bowl near its head was half full of water.

Quinn smiled back at the dog. “Doesn’t he scare away the customers?” He noticed her guitar case was on a concrete bench, a good four feet to her left—probably just out of reach of the big guy’s leash.

“Nah, Olaf’s pretty mellow.” She continued to strum her guitar as she chatted, nodding her thanks to a couple who dropped some change into the guitar case. She was sort of ordinary-looking for a street performer in NOLA—no fake vampire makeup or voodoo beads, she wore faded jeans, a yellow T-shirt and battered canvas sneakers.

“Well, tell me what you want, and I’ll bring you out your meal.” Now that he’d gotten the idea of feeding her into his head, it wouldn’t let go. He could sit on the bench out there and listen, as well as in here.

“Why?” she asked easily, as if the answer didn’t much matter. There was no accusation in her tone, just simple curiosity. Tiny smile lines around her eyes suggested she was older than she’d looked at first—maybe in her mid-to-late-twenties. “Am I your good deed for the day?”

He shrugged. “Maybe.” The truth was that he had no idea and didn’t really care to analyze his own thought process too deeply. “It’s been a day. I suppose I wouldn’t mind having someone to talk to while I finish my lunch. We’re on a public street, so I’d guess you’re pretty safe.”

“Fair enough.” Giving him that same, crooked smile, she asked for a coffee, two ham sandwiches, and an order of beignets.

Quinn doubled the order, in case she intended to share with her dog. If not, she could stash the extra away and have dinner tonight as well. He’d almost swear he heard Toni’s voice in the back of his head, urging him on. Then he took the singer’s food and his refilled coffee and wandered out to sit on the bench beside her guitar case. “Been doing this long?”

“Playing guitar, or singing on the street?” She moved the case to the ground, laid her guitar inside, and slid it under the bench. The dog moved with her, plopping his shaggy butt down on the ground in front of the center of the bench—making sure he was between Quinn and his mistress.

“Either. Both.” Quinn sipped his coffee and watched her tear off a big chunk of the first sandwich and feed it to the dog. “Name’s Quinn. And you two?”

“Darcy,” she said with a mouthful off bread and ham and cheese. “And Olaf.” After another bite, she added, “Nice to meet you, Quinn. Thanks for the food.”

It might have been a polite brush-off, but Quinn decided not to take it that way. He leaned back against the fence behind the bench. “I was enjoying your music. Seemed like a fair trade.” Quinn snitched a beignet from the second basket and bit into the hot, fried dough, dripping with powdered sugar. God these were amazing. He’d never been able to duplicate the flavor back home, no matter how hard he’d tried, despite the fact that he was a pretty decent cook.

“Works for me.” She split another chunk of the sandwich with Olaf. “I’ve been playing guitar—just not very well—since I was a kid. I’ve only been trying to make a living at it for the last few months.”

“What’d you do before that?” Quinn had no real idea why he found her so fascinating. He just did. And it wasn’t only because she was a pretty young woman, though he’d have to be blind to not notice that. He was honestly curious.

“I worked at a day care center.” One of the sparrows chose that moment to land on her shoulder, and rather than recoil, Darcy laughed, making her deep brown eyes sparkle with an amber glow. “I love these guys, but dude, you are not getting any of my beignets.” To Quinn’s surprise, Olaf seemed to completely ignore the birds.

“They are pretty persistent,” Quinn stopped himself from wiping a dot of mustard from her upper lip. When she flicked out her tongue and got it, he nearly groaned. Yeah. As soon as he got home, it was time, past time, to get his sorry ass back into the dating pool.

“But they add character—something that’s very important here in the Big Easy.” She winked at him. “Mind you, I’m a Detroit girl by birth, but I’ve been here long enough to have figured out some of the basics. Where are you from? Your accent is hard to place, but you don’t strike me as a tourist.”

“Philadelphia, now” he said. “Maryland, originally. But I lived over in Metairie for a while in my misspent youth, then here in the Quarter for oh, five years or so.”

“Just here visiting old haunts?” Her eyes widened and warmed. He could have sworn she was sensing his pain.

“You could say that, I guess.” He closed his eyes and inhaled. Haunts, indeed.

“No, really. Whatever brought you here wasn’t a happy thing.” She reached over and brushed some powdered sugar off his knee. The intimacy of the touch sent a jolt through his system. “Sometimes it helps to talk to strangers—and I’m as strange as they get.”

Quinn chuckled at that, but under her determined gaze, he caved in and sighed. “My late wife is buried here. After three years of beating myself up day in and day out, I’ve finally realized that her death wasn’t entirely my fault. So I came down here to make my peace. I took flowers to her tomb today—and after all this time, I really said goodbye.”

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Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


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