A BABY BETWEEN FRIENDS BY KATHY DOUGLASS

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They pretended to be lovers.

But there's nothing make-believe about the baby on the way.


When Joni Danielson recruits her best friend, Sweet Briar mayor Lex Devlin, to be her fake boyfriend for a wedding, it's a no-brainer. But their staged kisses lead to real passion - and heartbreak when Lex pulls away. Now Joni's in a bigger bind: she's pregnant. Can she and Lex once again fake it 'til they make it - to a real relationship?

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AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | HARLEQUIN | KOBO | ITUNES | BARNES AND NOBLE | GOOGLE

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Kathy Douglass is giving away a copy of A Baby Between Friends to a lucky winner!
(Entrants in one of the one of the 48 contiguous states are eligible for a signed, print copy or digital copy. Entrants outside of the 48 contiguous states are eligible for a digital copy.)

CLICK TO ENTER

Also available from Kathy Douglass:

How To Steal the Lawman’s Heart*
The Waitress’s Secret*
The Rancher and the City Girl*
Winning Charlotte Back*
The Rancher’s Return*
The City Girl’s Homecoming**
A Baby Between Friends* 

*Sweet Briar Sweethearts
**Furever Yours

ABOUT KATHY DOUGLASS

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to romance novels. One day she stumbled upon The Shining by Stephen King and was hooked on horror. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters, she knew it was time to put down the horror and return to romance novels.

Her return was short-lived. She started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then she discovered Harlequin romances. They were short enough to read in a week and she wouldn't have to search her room before she went to sleep.

When her first child was born, she became a stay at home mom. Her second child soon followed, and reading was limited to children's books.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school. Kathy spent those hours renewing her relationship with romance novels. Soon she felt the urge to write the stories she wanted to read. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman's Heart, was released in February, 2017. Since then, she has released several more books with Harlequin.

CONNECT WITH KATHY DOUGLASS

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Coming Soon from Nita Brooks: Designing Happiness

Real life is a work in progress… #DesignYourLife

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It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer—and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fiancé, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on—and off—camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . . 

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son—though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is—and discover what she truly wants.

AVAILABLE ON:

AMAZON | KENSINGTON | BARNES & NOBLE


Chapter 1

The Power of Perfection. 

Yvonne Cable stared at the headline and grinned. The glowing feature on her latest design made her want to do cartwheels down the hall in her office. If only she’d mastered the art of a cartwheel. 

The picture below the headline was of the completed home office for her latest client. Muted blue-grey colors created a cozy and restful feel. The natural light from the picture window overlooking the home’s intricate landscape brightened the room. A mixture of textures—cotton, leather, and wood— added depth and visual interest. 

After clawing her way through Atlanta’s cutthroat interior design community, the article in Atlanta Life Magazine was the coveted crown after a hard-fought battle. She created perfection for her clients. Gave them the spaces they needed to be comfortable and content, a haven in their hectic lives. Money, family, status . . . she didn’t care. Whatever her clients needed, she was going to give them.

She put the magazine on her desk and walked over to the perfectly organized whiteboard in her downtown Atlanta office. Nine sections partitioned off. The title of her projects in blue at the top of each section. Tasks associated with each project in green. Due dates written in purple. Red checkmarks for completed tasks. The board served as a quick reference guide to where she was and what she needed to do next. 

Her grin widened as she a grabbed the green dry erase marker to add the title for a new project to the ninth box. Sandra Covington Project. Or, as her assistant Bree liked to call it, the super enviable commission of every designer in Atlanta. The people who’d vied for Sandra’s new home project were many, but Yvonne was the one to land it. 

Sandra Covington, self-help author turned radio personality, had just announced that her radio program was going into nationwide syndication. Yvonne was familiar with Sandra’s radio show. The woman’s advice was quoted everywhere. Known for going deep into her readers’ and clients’ pasts to help them unlock the “key to their potential,” her famously quoted words, Sandra kept her own personal life out of the spotlight. Yvonne didn’t care about Sandra’s past, all she cared about was that she’d gotten the project. Designing Sandra’s house, and possibly getting a shout-out on her show, combined with the notoriety she’d gotten from her appearance on Celebrity Housewives, would go a long way toward increasing the demand for an original Yvonne Cable Design when someone needed decorating for their home or business. 

She’d arrived. Shed the mistakes of the past and become a household name. Her mom still couldn’t believe it. On most days, Yvonne couldn’t believe it either. 

“Yvonne, I got the fabric swatches you needed for the Tyson project, and don’t forget that you’ve got a call with the editor of Lady Entrepreneur magazine in fifteen minutes.” 

Bree Foster, Yvonne’s administrative assistant, swept into Yvonne’s office with an arm full of fabric. She laid the material on the drafting table in the creative corner of Yvonne’s office. Vision boards for projects adorned the walls in that corner. Sketch pads, colored pencils, and drawing notebooks littered the drafting table where Yvonne created her designs. Bree continually purchased organizers to keep Yvonne’s samples in order, but when Yvonne was in the middle of the creative process, materials scattered the desk. As usual, Bree picked up the strewn color charts, pencils, post-its, and papers and put them back into their correct spots. 

“Crap, I completely forgot about that call.” Yvonne hurried over to her desk, in the working corner of her office. Lady Entrepreneur magazine wanted to start a lifestyle section which would include design tips. Yvonne wanted to be the person who supplied the articles. 

Lady Entrepreneur had a wide circulation. Women all over the country subscribed to the magazine, which provided everything from tips for running a business to interviews with successful women on its pages. Of course, she wanted those same women to think of her when they thought of interior design. 

“That’s why I’m here,” Bree said. A recent graduate of design school, they’d met when Yvonne hired Bree as an intern the summer before. After graduation, Yvonne had snatched up the brilliant designer immediately. “Besides, you’ve got a good excuse. I can imagine your head is elsewhere.” Bree grinned and squeezed her hands together in front of her chest. Bree’s curly hair was worn in a cute pixie cut and her brown eyes sparkled with excitement behind a pair of black framed glasses. 

“I know. I’ve been busy thinking about what I need for my first meeting with Sandra Covington.” 

“I’m not talking about that. I mean your proposal over the weekend. The way Nathan surprised you! That was so romantic!” 

Yes. The proposal. You’d think saying yes to the man she loved after he proposed via the jumbotron at the Atlanta Braves game wouldn’t slip her mind. Honestly, she was still getting used to the idea of being engaged. For the past six years, she’d been a single mom and business owner. Now she was part of a team. Of course, she would have a hard time believing it.

Nathan Lange, home improvement television star, boy next-door sex symbol, and all-around good guy, was her fiancé. She couldn’t be happier. And if she happened to notice that saying yes to Nathan had gotten her more congratulations and well wishes than starting her own business, being named business woman of the year twice, or working for a star on Celebrity Housewives, she didn’t let it bother her. Not too much. 

Marriage was a big deal. Her son, Jacob, would have a father. She would have a man who loved and supported her. That was worth congratulating.

She glanced at the three-carat diamond on her left hand. “I can’t wait to marry Nathan, but no, that’s not what distracted me. Now that I’ve got Sandra’s account, I want to make sure I don’t let any other projects slip through the crack.” 

“That’s what you have me for,” Bree said. “As your administrative assistant, I’m determined to keep you on track. But once you and Nathan get the television show, I may need an assistant for all of the work that’s going to come your way.” 

Yvonne knocked three times on the oak surface of her desk, then crossed her fingers. “I hope so. The television show is still up in the air.” 

She’d met Nathan on the set of Celebrity Housewives, where he’d worked as the contractor. The disagreements and attraction between them had sparked almost instantly. So much so, they’d stolen every scene they were in. Their chemistry had given Nathan’s publicist the idea they could be the new helm of a home improvement show. While Yvonne had never thought about television, she wasn’t one to turn down the opportunity to grow her business even further. She’d once been forced to accept whatever scraps she could get from the person who claimed to love her. Not anymore. Neither she, nor her son, would ever be in that position again. 

“You guys will get it.” 

“Maybe, but until then I can’t forget what got me here in the first place. No matter what happens with me and Nathan, Yvonne Cable Designs is and always will be my priority. I fought too hard to build my brand to this point to let it go just because I’m getting married.” 

“But you will be making time to plan your wedding.” 

“You know it!” 

“I’d expect nothing less.” Bree looked at her cell phone. “Five minutes until the call. I’ll leave you alone so you can get ready.” 

Yvonne went through the notes she’d jotted down for why she should be their go-to person for the lifestyle section. When she’d spoken with Lashon, the editor of the magazine, she’d still been considering a few other designers. This call would, hopefully, convince Lashon to go with her. 

Lashon called right on time. They went through the normal pleasantries: quick stories about their kids, Lashon had two girls, and the latest good news from the magazine staffers. Then Lashon got to business. 

“Look, Yvonne, I know you’ve gotten really busy lately.” 

“Not too busy to supply design tips for the readers of your magazine. I was thinking of a focus on commercial spaces. Restaurants, offices, things like that.” 

“Actually, I was thinking we could go in a different direction,” Lashon said before Yvonne could go into the reasons why she was the right choice.

“You’re no longer looking to include interior design tips?”

“No, silly. I’m surprised you haven’t already figured that out,” Lashon said laughing. “I want the feature to be with you and Nathan.” 

“Really?” That idea had not crossed her mind.

“It’s genius, right?”

“I’m not sure I’m following along.”

“Lady Entrepreneur is still going to focus on women business owners, but I’m thinking of expanding the lifestyle section to also tackle relationships. Doesn’t that make sense?” 

Not entirely, considering the magazine was supposed to be a business resource, but Yvonne never claimed to be an expert in magazine editing. “I’m intrigued by this new direction. Tell me more.” 

“We did a survey of our subscribers. Many of them are single women who are also struggling to find a balance between work and family. You, my friend, are now the epitome of what so many single women want. You made a successful career despite having a child.” 

“Despite?” A child wasn’t an automatic liability. 

“And even though you are a single mother, you still happened to land a great guy like Nathan Lange. We think a quarterly feature on how you balance being a wife, mother, and business owner would go a long way to giving our readers hope.” 

Giving the readers hope? Landing a great guy like Nathan hadn’t been part of her life goals. If anything, after the disaster that was her relationship with Jacob’s father, she’d never believed she would trust a man again. But she had, and yes, Nathan was great, and she was happy things worked out, but she wouldn’t say her life was now defined by her engagement. Was it? 

ENTER TO WIN

Nita Brooks is giving away a signed copy of Redesigning Happiness & a $10 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner!

CLICK TO ENTER

ABOUT NITA BROOKS

A reading addict, self-professed connoisseur of home improvement shows, and a collector of teapots, Nita Brooks resides in South Carolina with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @AuthorNitaB.


So What Did You Miss?: June 2019 Wrap-Up

I really hate starting off monthly wrap-up with, “Wow, look how much time has flown by!”

But seriously, half the year is over, people. Who has approved this accelerated pace and would greatly appreciate it those decision makers decided to slow it down now. At least give the rest of us a weekend to catch up!

Either way, June is over and I have to admit that, due to a few unexpected health issues, my pace slowed down a lot. And that pace is probably going to persist for July as well. I’m working on some things that I’m excited about which I will share with you towards the end of this email.

Either way, here’s a round up of what you may have missed this month:

At the beginning of the month we celebrated the release of Cherishing the Goddess, by Lucy Eden. Lucy is one of my clients and this is the second book I’ve edited of hers. I really love this book! And I’m not just saying that because we worked on it together. Make sure you grab a copy and LEAVE A REVIEW!

Click thru to buy!

Click thru to buy!

Here’s the blurb:

“This woman possessed some kind of magic over me that I couldn’t understand, but I never wanted to end.”

Billionaire CEO Alexander Wolfe has spent years putting in 120-hour weeks in the office and adding zeroes to his net worth. But lately, work has left him feeling burnt out and uninspired. Then he is given the chance to go head-to-head with a legendary corporate raider and the man he’d idolized his entire career. He seizes the opportunity, immediately jumping on a plane for Barbados to close the deal in person. If he’s successful, it’ll be the biggest win of his career.

He had no way of knowing that meeting a mesmerizing beauty would have the power to derail everything...

“Spending time with this man was easy but I had to force myself to remember that he was also actively trying to ruin my life. This would be a lot easier if he wasn’t so charming.”

Calypso Sterling has no time for men who value her beauty over her intellect. Instead, she focuses all her energy on her studies and career aspirations. But when her home—and a closely guarded family secret—is threatened, she’s ready to defend all she holds dear.

She had no way of knowing a handsome stranger had the power to take away everything she’d ever loved...

This standalone, workplace/ enemies to lovers romance features characters from Everything’s Better With Kimberly, is full of alphas and steam and has NO cheating.

This is the novelized, extended version of the previously published novella of the same name.

I continued the Making Your Characters Feel Feelings series with Affection.

This series is still interesting and fun, and I will continue to write it, however, I’m only going to post them once a month from here on out. I was getting a little bored with this being my only posts on here and if I’m bored, you’re bored, and we can’t have that. But do check out this emotions post. It focuses on defining love between friends, which is a relationship I love to write and read!

Click thru to read!

Click thru to read!

From now on, I’m going to follow up these emotions posts with ways to apply it to your own writing.

I thought it would be cool to show you all how I’m using emotions as a theme in my writing. Knowing how your characters feel at the beginning of the story/scene will make it easier for you to know where you want them to be emotionally at the end of the story and may make it easier for you to outline your book in a way that doesn’t feel as aggressive as a strict three act approach.

It’s definitely a tool I’ve added to my kit and I hope it will be super useful for you.

Click thru to read.

Click thru to read.

I shared a character sketch for Marcelo Santiago one of the main characters in my new spin-off series.

Marcelo Ignacio Santiago is Yves’ older brother and Ava Marie’s ex-boyfriend. Marcelo and Ava are attempting to find a friendship after an on again, off again relationship that has spanning six years. If you' haven’t read The Truth Duet yet and you plan to, you should know that this character study contains spoilers.If you don’t give a damn about spoilers, feel free to read and weep. It’s a little emotional, but I mean, it’s written by me, so what else would it be? That Marcelo, he’s shaping up to be another cinnamon roll. I think I’m kinda in love with writing guys with gooey sweet centers.

Click thru to read!

Click thru to read!

The last post in June was a #SampleSunday post of The Way Things Are.

Both Levi and Ava live with anxiety and they use various things to manage it. Meditation is one of the things they do together.  

These two are navigating some high stress situations and even though they check in with each other often, sometimes they argue and don’t check in to make sure they’re on the same page. This scene takes place after one such occasion. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

Me and Kate had a few really cool guests on Lady Books

Long time friend, and author of BDSM romance, Annabel Joseph chatted with us about a new way she found to market her books and find new readers. Give Game Changing with Annabel Joseph a listen and get to know our funny and awesome friend!

We also spoke to Rachel Kramer Bussel who is a veteran author of erotic fiction and the amazing editor of more than 60 erotic anthologies, and you guys, this episode was a masterclass. She’s going to launch an e-course on writing erotic fiction so keep an eye out for that because we’re definitely going to share (and purchase) it1

Here’s what I’ll be getting up to in July:

At the beginning of the month, I listened to an episode of My Taught You, a podcast by Myliek, the creator of The Curl Box, and big boss ass entrepreneur. If you want to find out more about her, you can find it here, but I want to discuss the episode I listened to entitled, Summer Refresh. The topic of this episode was about things you can do to refresh your business. Business often slows down over the summer, it’s just the nature of things. We’ve been programmed to take summers off and that definitely goes for those of us who have client based businesses. Any way, that podcast got me thinking. I like to think of myself as a life long student, but admittedly, I haven’t done it with any real focus in the last few years. So I decided to spend the summer working my way through Chris Fox’s nonfiction writing books. I’m starting with 5,000 Words Per Hour which is basically a training session for your brain to help you learn how to fast draft. I’ve already started this one and I’ll be updating once a week on IGTV so make sure you follow me on instagram to witness my shenanigans.

Also, I'm taking most of August off from editing! I'm still scheduling through the month of July for September - November so if you need to get on my books, get in touch!

And that’s about it! I’ll be back next week with another Making Your Characters Feel Feelings. I’ll be focusing on passion. That should be fun to write. (waggles eyebrows)

Until next week, happy writing and reading!

Tasha

#SampleSunday : Breathe

Good morning and HAPPY SUNDAY-FUNDAY!

I wanted to share a short excerpt from The Way Things Are: The Truth Duet, Book Two! 

Both Levi and Ava live with anxiety and they use various things to manage it. Meditation is one of the things they do together.  

These two are navigating some high stress situations and even though they check in with each other often, sometimes they argue and don’t check in to make sure they’re on the same page. This scene takes place after one such occasion. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

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Evening came a bit earlier than usual and Ava's building was draped in shadow when he pulled up to the curb.

Levi climbed out of Misty and looked up at her window. She stood there, wearing a bulky knit sweater and holding a cup of something to keep her warm, and looking down at him where he stood. Suddenly he wanted to tell her everything—needed to. He couldn't even remember why he decided to keep anything from her.

She was standing in the open door when he reached the top of the steps.

“I'm sorry,” she said, the words wispy and watery with tears. “I wasn't thinking. I didn't realize how difficult this has been for you to deal with—”

“Because I haven't told you.” He stepped inside and closed the door behind him.

She lifted her chin and her hands dropped to her sides. “I know you did it to protect me. And I allowed you to because I didn't want to deal with all of the feelings. That wasn't fair to you.”

He nodded. “And I kept it from you for the same reason. Keeping it from you was easier than dealing with the fact that I’m—” The words stalled in his throat and the weight of it all nearly crushed him. He wanted to sink to his knees, but he fell into her arms instead. “I’m scared, Ava. I'm terrified that they'll get off. That we'll have to alter our lives completely. I'm terrified that they might hurt you — ”

“Oh, Levi,” she whispered. Holding him up as the anxiety poured out of him in frustrated tears.

“It shouldn't be this hard. Doing the right fucking thing shouldn't be this hard!” he ground out.

“I know.” Her hand rubbed soothing circles on his back. “I shouldn't be this hard.” She pressed soft kisses into his neck and the side of his face and gradually he began to calm down.

When he’d regained some of his composure she turned from him and grabbed a couple of floor pillows that she kept stacked in the corner.

“Get out of those clothes,” she said.

Levi looked down and realized that he was still wearing his tie and slacks except now he looked disheveled and not at all hero like. He watched her as she gathered candles, turned off the lights, and turned on some music. It was a mellow instrumental electronica that Ava always said helped her to sink deeper into her meditation. Before he met her, he typically meditated in silence, but Ava liked to tap into all the senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. While he unbuttoned his shirt and stripped off his slacks, she went into the kitchen to grab some water and fruit.

Levi sat down on the floor pillow and Ava set across from him. She took his hands in hers.

“You want to start with four-part breathing?”

He nodded even though catching his breath felt impossible right now. Four-part breathing was her favorite relaxation technique. It was the one she used before her testimony and he had to it admit that it was the most effective.

“Close your eyes,” she said softly.

It was hard for him to take his eyes off of her in this moment. She was so beautiful and her love and strength beamed out of her like a warm, soothing light. It covered him and he wondered why he had put so much effort into keeping his feelings from her.

Slowly, he let his eyelids sink closed. She counted down from five and at one he began the breathing exercise he’d taught her in the front seat of his Monte Carlo.

Deep breath in for four counts…

As he filled his lungs, he filled his mind with positive thoughts. Thoughts of her and the life they would have together when this was all over. On the four count exhale he brought his attention to her touch — the slow caress of her thumbs on the backs of his hands. The place where their bare knees touched, her breath on his face as she exhaled on the same four counts.

Inhale…

“I am attracting positive energy into my body…” Ava whispered. “I fill myself with it and pour it into you.”

Exhale…

And this time her breath felt like tiny bubbles of effervescent energy, bursting on the surface of his skin, soaking deep into his pores.

Inhale…

He sank into that deep place in his meditation; in that place where energy filled him until he felt restored.

They kept up the four-part breathing exercise until he was so relaxed that he felt weightless and high. She helped him lie down on the pile of pillows and cuddled with him.

“We’re in this together,” she said softly. “We can’t make it through alone. I’m with you. I need to know and believe you’re with me, too.”

Levi didn’t trust his voice so he grunted in agreement and pulled her closer. A thin tendril of shame tried to work its way into his mind. He’d crumbled in front of her. He’d allowed her to see him weak  and vulnerable and he never wanted her to see him that way. “I’m sorry that I…” He swallowed around the hard lump growing in his throat. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to be strong for you.”

“Levi… that’s not what I meant and more to the point, you can’t be the strong one all the time. Neither of us can. We’re supposed to bear this weight together. That’s the only way we can lift it.”

“Earlier… I blamed you for all of this and that wasn’t right.” He licked his lips, they felt dry and tender. Ava reached for the bowl of fruit — orange slices and pineapple spears — and placed it in the middle of his chest. She propped herself up on one elbow and fed an orange slice to him. He bit down on the slice and the burst of citrus was startling in his heightened state.

“Right or wrong, some of the blame is mine,” she said, a quiver of emotion in her voice. “I’m surprised you don’t resent me.”

“Resent you? Ava, no — ”

“But you should. Your life is permanently altered because of all this… because of me.”

“Ava Marie, I could never resent you. And yeah, it’s fucked up that Emil’s death and corruption at my precinct are part of our story. I wish it wasn’t. I wish we hadn’t met and fell in love under such horrible circumstances, but … you know what?”

She was crying now. He rubbed her back giving back the comfort she had given him.

“What?”

“This thing has bonded us together in a way that nothing else could. It made this bond strong. We’re fucking unbreakable.”

“Well, we’ve sure as fuck been through the worst of it and managed to stay together. I can’t imagine anything that could possibly break us apart. Not even an outside baby.” She narrowed her eyes and pointed a finger at him. “That isn’t permission to go out and make one.”

Levi barked out a surprised laugh. “I’m not gonna make any outside babies. I only want to make babies with you.” He picked up a spear of pineapple and traced her bottom lip until she opened her mouth and took a bite. A smile curled up the corners of her mouth as she chewed.

“We’re gonna be together forever, huh?”

“You’re fucking right we are.”

“Then I’m ready for any and all changes that might come.”

“Okay,” he said with a nod. “Me too.”

They were strong people. Strong and proud. In that moment, Levi vowed to not to let his pride get in the way again because they were definitely stronger together.

Thanks so much for reading!

If you enjoyed it, please grab a copy of The Truth Duet on Amazon for free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.