Birthday Blog for Amber – Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
My birthday falls on the 27th of October, just days before Halloween so as a child I often had Halloween themed cakes with ghosts, goblins, pumpkins and the like. I came to expect orange and black frosted cakes as a birthday staple but somewhere in my teens I decided I’d love a traditional cake with white icing and pink roses. My favorite birthday, however, would date back to those childhood days and the year my cousin brought me a very special present, one I still have and use today.
Bill – born one year and a few weeks ahead of me – was my co-conspirator and partner in crime. We grew up close and remain so, cousins and yet also somehow friends and in a non- romantic way, soul mates. The year I turned ten, he brought me a light blue fifth grade English textbook. It’d been discarded from his school and I adored it. I can’t honestly tell what other gifts I received that particular year but I still have the English textbook. I still use it when I have a grammar or punctuation question. It’s basic but the information remains sound even in our super rich technology age. The reason the gift mattered so much was the acknowledgement of my dream to become a writer and author.
So my tenth birthday ranks high among my favorites, now and then.
Birthdays – in fact, a Halloween birthday – have significance in my new release, out November 17th from Rebel Ink Press. Devlin’s Grace deals with a former Marine veteran of Iraq and the college student who he allows closer access than anyone else. He suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and birthdays are another issue. Here’s the blurb and a brief excerpt from
Blurb: When he rides out of the fog on his motorcycle, Gracie Alloway almost mistook him for a demon rising from the smoke and steam of hell. Except she’s attracted to him from the first moment. Devlin’s everything she’s not – wild and a little wicked. But opposites attract because good girl, college student Gracie wants more of this bad boy.
Devlin dreamed up a fantasy woman back in Iraq a lot like Gracie and she evokes a side he hasn’t shown anyone in years. She also dares to enter his personal space and take liberties no other woman’s dared. Although he struggles with PTSD and other issues, Gracie won’t run and she refuses to abandon Devlin.
If she can just tame him and help him battle his demons. If he can teach her how to live a little bit more, they might just have a chance at a future together.
If she could, she’d restore joy to the day he was born.
Although Halloween fell on a weekday, Gracie skipped class, a rarity for her, and took the day off at work. She begged the car from Devlin the night before and without even asking why, he handed her the keys. Although he acted disappointed, Gracie didn’t spend the night, but headed home instead. He’d get over it, she rationalized, and when he learned what she planned to do on his birthday, he’d understand.
On the 31st, despite the weather, Gracie rose early. She finished packing up everything in her apartment and carried out her boxes, bags, and clothes on hangers to Devlin’s Ford. Then she spent an hour scrubbing the place until it sparkled. After it met her satisfaction, Gracie headed downstairs to turn in her key to the landlord. Once he inspected it, he forked over her fifty dollar cleaning deposit, grunted how sorry he was to lose her as a renter, and hung a For Rent placard in the window.
At Devlin’s place Gracie carried her stuff inside and managed to integrate it with his. She gave the place a going over and brought along a few things to make the place homier, things like scented candles, a couple of throw pillows, her rag rugs from the other apartment, and two posters. One depicted a Honda Magna like Dev’s, the other a beautiful sunset. Her original plan included baking a cake, but by the time she’d settled in there wasn’t time.
She didn’t want to pick one up at Wal-Mart because Devlin worked at one so Gracie found a small bakery not far from where she had lived. The triple layer yellow cake – golden vanilla on the menu – with a rich chocolate frosting would be perfect. Decorated with a few fondant bows in blue and green, Gracie asked them to write Happy Birthday Devlin across the top. Since she wanted to make a homemade meal for him, Gracie headed for a supermarket.
Drawing on memory and the things she’d cooked back on the farm, Gracie created a meatloaf from scratch. She cheated on the mashed potatoes by buying instant and did the same with gravy in a jar. By the time Devlin would arrive home from work, expecting to walk into an empty house, she’d have the meatloaf baking in the oven.
Gracie walked through the place, one room at a time, adjusting to the idea she lived here now. If Devlin hated her surprise, she guessed she could rent a studio apartment somewhere, but she’d hate it. Besides, she thought he’d be happy when he found out. According to his schedule, Dev would get off shift around three thirty or four. By four thirty when he wasn’t home, Gracie started getting nervous. When he hadn’t arrived by five, her anxiety records hit new highs. Steady rain continued to fall and the wet streets could be slick in spots. Worried he could’ve taken a spill she reached into her pocket for her cell phone and couldn’t find it. Before she could look for it Gracie heard the unmistakable sound of his motorcycle pulling up outside. A smile spread over her face as she peeked out the window, watching until she saw Devlin’s face.
A frown line furrowed his forehead into two halves and his mouth drooped in a scowl. As he parked the bike and headed toward the house, Devlin’s face radiated distress. Uncertain now if his birthday created so much angst, if she should have made plans, Gracie hesitated. She almost retreated into the kitchen where delicious aromas escaped, but concern trumped her desire to flee. Before Devlin reached it, she rushed to open the door to let him in.
“Hi,” she said, “Happy birthday, hon.”
Devlin halted and stared at her. His expression shifted from gloom to shock in seconds. His deep eyes caught hers and held them.
Available beginning November 17 at All Romance Ebooks, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Bookstrand.