Ginny Baird's Blog: The Story Behind the Story...

February 22, 2015

The Light at the End of the Road by Ginny BairdLeading up to this novel’s release, I’ll post short scenes from the story each week. Please note “sneak peeks” are early displays of the unedited work for entertainment purposes only. Copyright protections apply.

Previously on Sneak Peeks, Samantha Williams drives home through the mountains to see her ill father. An ice storm causes highway closings and she’s forced to take treacherous back roads. Meanwhile, hero Jake Marlow is diverted from the highway to Sam's same route, and the weather is getting worse. Jake comes across Sam's accident scene and finds her car has skidded off the road and into a ditch.


“Help! Please help me!” The voice was decidedly female. Definitely panicked.
Jake scurried toward the right shoulder, the hood of his slicker flipping back as his boots slid on ice. He didn’t feel the frozen pings against his brow and lashes. He was too caught up in the horror ahead. There was a small patch of grass coated in white, beyond it only dark shadows emitting smoke and fire.
Jake halted at the top of the gaping ravine, calculating a ten-foot drop. At its bottom sat a banged-up economy sedan, wedged sideways. Now, Jake smelled something worse than exhaust and smoke. Gasoline. Flames leapt from the engine, reaching out from beneath the crumpled hood. And the fire was spreading, sending noxious fumes rising in waves. “Down here!”
Jake glanced around quickly. If he was going to descend the steep slope, he’d need a way to get back up. There was the trunk of a skinny tree nearby. He grasped it firmly near its base and pulled with all his might. It bent and sagged forward under the strain, but didn’t break. It was all he had, so he’d take it. The trouble was he’d never reach it from deep inside that gulley. What he needed was a rope. “Just sit tight!” he called for reassurance. “I’m coming!” Jake raked a hand through his hair, thinking fast. Of course! His belt. He unhitched it quickly and yanked it from the loops of his jeans. Fire sizzled as electrical wires popped. More black smoke rushed toward him. He’d have to hurry. “Can you hear me?” he called, his breath ragged.

Sam squinted up through the broken passenger window at the dark figure holding a flashlight and yelled an affirmative. The airbags had deflated, leaving her wedged against her driver’s door in the tight constraint of her shoulder harness. Light flickered across the starburst pattern that had erupted on the windshield upon impact.
“How many of you are down there?”
“Just me! One!”
Sam felt light-headed and feverish. It occurred to her for the first time that this Good Samaritan might not be so altruistic. What if he was a madman? Somebody dangerous, with bad intentions? She hadn’t seen flashing lights, or heard ambulance or police sirens. His face peered in at her, framed by shards of glass and followed by a bright beam of light. Sam blinked and instinctively withdrew against the door.
“You’re hurt.”
“No, I—”
He scanned the interior of the car, then settled on her face. “Your forehead, it’s bleeding.”
She touched a hand to her hairline and her fingers came away sticky. All at once Sam was aware of the gash on her head, which must have hit something when she was thrown forward. Or maybe she’d hit the steering wheel when the car tumbled over. Sam’s stomach roiled and she feared she might get sick.
“Can you move your legs?” he asked, smoke coiling around him.
“Kick your feet! Can you get them free?”
She did as he instructed, but everything ached. Her calves felt bruised, her ankles twisted. But she could move them, yes. “They don’t feel pinned by anything.”
“Good.” He angled his flashlight to study the exterior of the car and set his lips in a determined line. The shadows revealed a rugged face with a sturdy jaw and solid cheekbones. “What’s your name?”
“S…S…Sam,” she stammered, her lips quivering. Tremors took hold of her torso, shaking it violently. “What’s happening to me?”
Despite the direness of the situation, his voice remained steady. “I’m going to get you out of there, Sam. But you’ve got to trust me. Okay?”
A kaboom rocked the engine, sending flames spewing as the air clogged with suffocating smoke. Sam yelped. But the crackling only got louder, snapping and popping like a lit fuse racing toward a stack of dynamite. The windshield above her heaved and sagged, melting in the flames.
He tugged at the passenger side door, but couldn’t get it open.
“Turn away!” the man instructed.
“What?” Sam had already wiggled out of her seatbelt and was preparing to flee.
“Now, Sam! Turn! Shield your face!”
She complied and he knocked in the window, sending shards flying onto the passenger seat. Using his heavy flashlight as a tool, Jake dislodged the remaining pieces of glass, then stretched an arm toward her. The smoke was growing thicker, clouding the inside of the car. Jake had to get her out before she inhaled it. Already, his lungs strained against the heavy fumes. Fortunately, Sam was upwind of their torrid assault, but she wouldn’t be for long. At any second, the gas tank could blow, consuming them both in a massive explosion.
Sam cowered against the driver’s door, shaking violently. But there wasn’t much time. One more kaboom and they were both history. “Sam,” Jake cried hoarsely, reaching for her.
Her head came around, honey-blond hair cascading past her shoulders. Tears streamed from her eyes that appeared oceans deep. He’d give anything to calm the sea storm within them. The best way he knew of was getting her out alive. “Take my hand!”
She shook her head, seemingly incoherent. Another loud boom sent a cloud of smoke curling in on a wave of heat. Jake shielded his mouth with a forearm and tried again. “Come on, you’ve got to work with me.”
She was choking on the smoke now, her eyes clearly stinging. She dropped her head forward, resting it in her palms. Jake was losing her, but without Sam’s cooperation they’d never make it. Metal wrenched and the car slid inches deeper into the ravine. He’d thought it had settled at the bottom, but he’d been wrong. If Jake didn’t get them out now, the length of his belt wouldn’t be enough to help them navigate the muddy slope before the burning car became a fireball. Crackle…hiss…whine…
He made one more attempt, pleading, “Sam, look at me.”
When she did, he said, “There must be something you want to live for.”
She blinked, then drew in a breath, grim reality apparently whipping into focus.
Then, in an instant, she lunged forward and gripped his hand.

Copyright © 2015 by Ginny Baird


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Published on February 22, 2015 15:10 • 2,474 views

December 17, 2014

Ginny Baird I'm delighted to offer this "sneak peek" of The Calendar Brides to my readers.

Happy New Year! May yours be blessed by love.

Ginny Baird’s

January: Emma
February: Claire
March: Angie
April: Haley
May: Bev
June: Jane
July: Tiny
August: Zoe
September: Lena
October: Trish
November: Susan
December: Rachel

Chapter One
The D’Amato Women

Nona leaned forward over the photo album, pointing out another grainy picture. “And that one was Elbert, the one that got away.”
Claire fanned her hand over her heart and sighed sympathetically. Her hair was feathered about her face in a feminine style, and she always wore it long. “What happened to him?”
Nona flipped her wrist. “Married a Spanish girl. Not that it matters. Men are like buses, you know.”
Her granddaughters laughed, then sang in a chorus: “When one leaves, another one comes along.” The older woman looked around the room at their cheery faces. Well, most of them were cheery. Jane still wore that perpetual scowl, and Trish set her chin. Why were those girls so serious?
“I think you’re right, Nona,” Rachel sweetly chimed in. “Certainly happened to me.” She extended her left hand, exposing a glistening solitaire, and her cousins squealed with delight.
Nona smiled. “Congratulations! Who’s the lucky groom?”
Rachel ran a hand through her curls, then proudly proclaimed, “Tom Delaney.”
Across the room, Bev sucked in a gasp. She still wore that scarf she’d bought in Paris. Not that it really went with her blouse, although it did complement her angled bob and art deco earrings. “No way!”
“Way,” Jane quipped from the sofa. Susan sat beside her, furiously knitting something. It looked oddly like a baby’s cap, but Susan wasn’t married. Susan spoke softly without looking up. “Time heals all wounds.”
“Hmm, maybe,” Tiny judged from nearby. She stood just over five feet and had a short, sassy haircut to match her small frame. She was also the sole granddaughter close to Nona in size, although she ate like a horse. Nona secretly feared that might catch up with her some day, but had never been rude enough to say so. She was eating now, in fact. Munching on something she kept hidden in a paper bag that looked suspiciously like fast food.
“That’s awesome, Rachel!” Haley leaned into her tennis racket and grinned. Then she dipped low, flexing her knees and leg muscles. Nona had never seen a girl so fit. It was a blessing she’d found Peter, someone who could keep up with her. Haley squatted a few more times, then broke into a lunge, using her racket for leverage. “When’s the wedding?”
“We haven’t decided,” Rachel answered.
“Might be good to take your time,” Trish advised. Trish had red hair and freckles, which made her stand out among her more darkly complected cousins. Nona knew this was on account of her father marrying an Irish woman. “You’ll want to build your career first.”
“My job’s going fine!” Rachel spouted defensively.
“I thought you watered people’s plants?” Trish replied. Trish was very self-assured as an accountant, but seemed bent on summing other people up.
“Be nice,” Susan warned from behind her knitting and purling.
Lena spoke gently from the corner, wispy tresses lightly framing her face. She’d had it highlighted lately with what looked like streaks of blonde. She’d said it was to let the sunshine in, whatever that meant. Nona had no idea. “She does have a point,” she said referencing Trish. “There’s nothing wrong with taking your time, Rachel. Getting settled first.”
Rachel’s cheeks tinged red. “I am settled. That’s what I’m trying to tell you! Business is going great. I picked up five new clients this week!”
Trish held up her hands and shook her head.
“Leave her alone,” Zoe said from the floor. She lay on her back doing some kind of yoga. Whoa! Now she was arching up skyward, stomach first. Nona wondered what it took to be that limber, and whether she was too old to achieve it. “It’s not like she’s seventeen anymore.”
A hush fell over the room at Zoe mentioning what should have gone unspoken. Zoe collapsed to the rug, then righted herself, arms wrapped around her knees. She addressed Rachel, red-faced, straight dark hair grazing her chin. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”
Angie, who’d stood by silently this whole time, strode toward Rachel, her ponytail bouncing. She was Haley’s twin, and the main difference between them was that Angie wore bangs. Since she’d had her first baby, Nona had never seen her in anything other than workout clothes, even though she never actually exercised. She had three kids now, each born within a year of the other. Nona supposed Angie stayed trim simply chasing after them. Angie wrapped her arm around Rachel and pulled her into a hug. “The truth is, we’re all happy for you.” She combatively eyed her cousins. “Aren’t we, girls?”
“Of course… Yes… Uh-huh!” all agreed, their words overlapping.
“I’m glad to see everyone’s getting along.” Nona flipped shut her photo album. “Because there’s more good news. I have something to tell you.”

“Knock, knock! Where’s the party?” Emma peered into the room with a happy grin. She cradled a pudgy puppy in her arms that lapped at her face with a big, wet tongue.
“I thought we were missing someone,” Nona chirped.
“Emma! He’s adorable,” Rachel said. “Where did you get him?”
“Well, first of all he’s a she.” Emma set down the little yellow lab, who bounded toward her grandmother in happy leaps.
Nona chuckled warmly as the dog wiggled to and fro before her, wagging its whole body with its tail. She stroked the pup’s head with one hand while holding her champagne flute high in the other. “Very cute, Emma! Did you buy her for Bobby?” Bobby was Emma’s nephew on her husband Donny’s side.
“No,” Emma said with apparent surprise at the thought. “Donny bought her for me!” She adjusted a barrette in her short brown hair, then shared a glowing smile. “Anniversary gift. Can you believe?” Her eyes darted around the room, then settled on the champagne bucket on the table. Although, rather than champagne, it held a bottle of prosecco, a D’Amato family favorite. “How come nobody invited me?” she asked with a play pout.
“We did invite you,” Claire assured.
“You know you’re always invited,” Jane deadpanned before Susan elbowed her.
Zoe sat on the floor with her legs in a pretzel knot. She managed to drink in that position just the same. “You’ve missed some big news,” she said, sipping from her bubbly.
“Bigger than big,” Haley reinforced from nearby.
“Well, come on! What’s going on?” Emma impatiently glanced around the room.
Lena smiled, her highlights glowing in the natural light of the window. Maybe they did let the sunshine in. “It all started with Rachel!”
Susan set her knitting aside to cradle her champagne flute. “And, it’s not over yet.”
Emma turned toward her cousin with the short, springy curls. “Rachel?”
Rachel held out her hand, and Emma embraced her. “Oh, Rachel! That’s wonderful!” She pulled back, meeting Rachel’s gaze. “Tom?”
Bev sighed. “Did everyone know but me?”
“Not everyone,” Trish responded. “Angie seemed to miss it.”
“Hey!” Angie retorted, “Can I help it if Zoe called during Parent Zumba time?”
“You Zumba?” Nona asked with surprise.
Bev met Zoe’s eyes. “Et tu, Brute?”
“No one wanted to hurt you.” Tiny surreptitiously rolled up her paper bag and tucked it between the sofa cushions. “You know, given the history you had with—”
History’s the word, hey.” Bev surveyed their faces. “I can’t believe that none of you thought I could handle it.”
“There’s more good news!” Lena said, changing the subject.
Emma expectantly eyed her grandmother, who glowed.
“Shall we pop the second bottle?” Rachel asked.
Nona brought her hands together in a happy clap. “Let’s!”

Of Nona’s six sons, all had produced only daughters. World traveler Bev and singer Lena were sisters. Artsy Zoe and the insatiable Tiny were sisters, too, as were the trio Nona had dubbed the romantics: Emma, Claire, and Rachel. Genuinely athletic Haley and aspiring Zumba queen Angie were twins. Quick-witted Jane was shy knitter Susan’s big sister, while outspoken redhead Trish was an only child. Nona smiled at them all, delighted to have them here. Their gathering once a month for Sunday Prosecco had become a tradition—whether or not anyone had anything to celebrate. The girls took turns bringing the booze and delectable chocolates. Sometimes someone baked cookies. Tiny often brought her own bag, besides. Nobody ever knew what was in there, and everyone—particularly vegetarian Zoe—was frightened to ask. So all pretended not to notice, and Nona always took care to check between the sofa cushions once all of her granddaughters had gone.
She loved them each dearly and felt blessed to have bonded with them all in different ways. While she’d doted on her sons and had tried to be a good mom to them when they were growing up, she’d never quite understood the joy of having girls. Being blessed by a plethora of granddaughters had taught her a lesson: how vastly she could love, and how deep her well of affection could run. The girls called her “Nona” after nonna, the Italian word for grandmother. Emma, as the oldest, had been the first to speak and write. Unfortunately, Emma had never been a very good speller. When she’d presented her Nona with that first card made in kindergarten, Nona had been charmed by her efforts and wasn’t about to offer any sort of reprimand. So the grandmotherly nickname had stuck and was still used by the girls to this day.

Once Emma had settled in with her wine, Nona pointed to the photo album. Emma’s puppy snoozed at her feet, exhausted from the previous attention. “Angie, be a dear and hand that over.”
Angie grinned, looking perkier than normal. Perhaps she really was doing Zumba. “Another rundown of the men in your life?”
Nona took the book and settled it in her lap. “Did I ever tell you girls about my previous engagements?”
“All four of them,” Rachel answered with a giggle. She perched on the arm of the sofa beside Jane and Susan.
“There were five, counting Grandpa,” Jane corrected.
“I hardly see how that counts,” Nona said with a wink. “I married him!”
The others watched as she opened the book and flipped through its glossy pages. Most of the photos were old, and in black and white.
“You really were a heartbreaker,” Zoe said.
“Worldwide,” Bev added.
Nona’s lips took a downward turn. “Yes,” she said a bit sadly. “But that’s not how I planned it.” For a moment she appeared wistful.
Claire reached out and gently touched her arm. “What do you mean?”
Nona’s eyes brimmed at the bittersweet memory. “That’s not how I planned it with Luigi.”
“He was your first love,” Susan commented from the sofa. She’d put down her glass and had taken to knitting again.
“Susan,” Nona asked suddenly, “is someone you know having a baby?”
Susan glanced around the room with a rapid blush. “Um…no. Not really.”
The others shrugged and turned their attention back on their grandmother. Susan was always knitting crazy things, like the time she made that tiny sweater for her neighbor’s cat. Nona thought it was some sort of latent nesting instinct, itching to burst forward at just the right moment. But before she could nest, Susan had to find a man. It would help if she started looking.
“That’s right,” Tiny said, “back in Sicily. You dated when you were fifteen.”
“Fourteen,” Nona said.
“Wow,” Trish remarked. “That’s young.”
Nona shared a soft smile. “It didn’t feel young then.”
“When your family moved to the States, you had to leave him behind,” Claire said, remembering.
Nona nodded sadly. “There wasn’t really any choice.”
“For either of you,” Claire said softly.
“Which one was he?” Haley asked, leaning over her shoulder.
Nona turned to the second page in the book. There were several old photos neatly arranged, most of them taken on a beach. While her face and figure had changed quite a bit, the girls could recognize their Nona at once from her big, dark eyes. She stood with a handsome young man, who looked about her age—maybe a little older. In a few of the pictures, they embraced.
“Looks like something out of a movie,” Lena sighed.
“Who was the photographer?” Jane asked.
“My brother, Giovanni. He was Luigi’s age; they were best friends.”
“So Luigi was older?” Jane surmised.
“By just a year.”
Claire noted the melancholy in her Nona’s eyes. “Whatever became of him?”
“Of Luigi?” Nona shrugged mysteriously, and avoided her granddaughters’ gazes. “Now, that’s an intriguing question.”
Jane sat up with interest and Susan dropped her knitting. “Are you saying that you’ve heard from him?” Rachel asked, her jaw dropping.
Nona glanced around the room with an impish grin. “The Internet is a marvelous thing.”

None of them could believe it! Their Nona had been carrying on an online affair. “When did this start?” Tiny asked.
“About six months ago,” Nona said. “We reconnected on Facebook.”
The girls stared at each other in shock. “You’re on Facebook?” Jane asked, aghast.
“Of course! Why not?”
“Why not, indeed?” Trish said, shooting Jane a look.
Angie’s face brightened. “I think that’s awesome!”
“Facebook or Luigi?” Haley asked.
Lena rearranged her tie-dyed top. “I think it’s dynamite, too.”
“You’ll have to friend us!” Bev said brightly, until the others turned their eyes on her. “Uh, yeah… Maybe not.”
“That’s okay.” Nona laughed lightly. “I’m not so keen on letting you in on my secrets, either.”
Zoe grinned, liking the sound of this. “Oooh…our Nona has secrets.”
Nona gave her a play swat in the air. “You know precisely what I’m saying. Some of what goes on there is…” She paused and sat up a little straighter. “…personal.”
“Well, I think it’s cool you and your old flame reconnected after all this time,” Tiny said.
“Cool, and very romantic,” Claire chimed in.
“Are you going to see him?” Susan wanted to know.
Nona’s face fell. “If only that were possible.”
While Nona wasn’t poor, her granddaughters understood she wasn’t rich either. She’d raised six sons mostly on her own, after her husband had died of an early heart attack at forty. She now lived on her retirement from the simple shop she’d help run at the edge of town.
“Can he come here?” Trish inquired. “For a visit?”
“Luigi is a good man, but of modest means. Always has been. That’s one of the things my father didn’t like about him.”
“I didn’t know your dad was against him,” Bev said with surprise.
“Oh, yes. Both of my parents opposed the relationship.”
Emma’s expression was puzzled. “But I thought Luigi was Giovanni’s friend?”
“He was, but he was also a fisherman’s son. And fishing was what he was born to do.”
Tiny frowned worriedly. “That wasn’t good enough for your parents?”
“They wanted me to marry someone educated. Somebody with a future.”
“Like Grandpa,” Zoe said, understanding. Their granddad was a second-generation Italian American who’d been raised here. He’d finished high school, then had run the local arm of a large shipping business right here in Chandelier, their tiny seaside town. It was ironic that he and Luigi had both had maritime careers.
Claire gazed out the window, surveying the ocean cliffs and faraway horizon. “You were destined to live by the sea.”
“I was destined to marry your grandfather,” Nona said surely. “I believe that with all my heart. How else could I have gotten such wonderful sons, or such amazing grandbaby girls?” She set the open photo album in her lap and extended her arms, and they all wrapped their arms around her in an enormous group hug.
“We love you, Nona,” Rachel said, her new diamond sparkling.
“And I love you, too,” Nona said, lightly patting whoever’s hands and arms were wound around her.
Jane, who stood at the back of the group, stared down through the entangled limbs to the black-and-white photo on the open page. “Yeah, but once upon a time you loved him.”
“Not just once…” came Nona’s muffled reply.
The girls hugged her tighter with anticipation. Zoe, who was closest to Nona’s face, was the first to ask. “What does that mean?”
“I still love him, I do!”
The group hug broke apart as the girls stared at their grandmother. Nona brought both hands to her chest with a whimper. “I’ve never known such pain.”
“Nona? Are you sick?” Tiny asked with concern.
“She’s heartsick, can’t you see?” Claire defended.
Nona met Claire’s eyes. “You always could see things.”
“Oh, no,” Lena said.
“I’m sorry, Nona,” Rachel added.
Susan pursed her lips in a frown. “Me, too.”
“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Haley asked.
“Yeah,” Angie said. “To help?”
“I’m afraid there’s no helping with this one.” Nona sadly hung her head. “We’re oceans apart.”
“Oceans can be crossed,” Bev said.
“Not this time, I’m afraid. I’m too old. He’s too old. Neither of us has the money.”
Trish met her Nona’s eyes. “There has to be a way.”
“There is no way, my dear. Luigi and I have discussed it. But if there were…” Emotion clouded her eyes.
“What?” Rachel prompted. “Tell us what you were going to say.”
Nona looked around the group and her chin trembled. “If I were able to go…” She turned to Rachel sprightly. “You wouldn’t be the only betrothed in town…”
Claire brought a napkin to her mouth with a gasp.
“What?” the group cried.
Nona demurred with a blush, but her eyes held the passion of a much younger woman.
“Luigi has asked me to be his bride.”

“So you would go?” Lena asked first. “I mean, if it were possible? Go, and leave us behind?”
Nona studied them warmly. “You don’t know how much you girls mean to me. You’re my life’s joy. But my heart has always been in Sicily. Ever since I was a girl. I’m not sure if you can understand.”
“Of course we can,” Claire said, taking her hand.
Jane nodded astutely. “It’s your homeland.”
“Yes. And the older I’ve become, I’ve… Well, I don’t mean to put this wrong. Because I’ve absolutely loved America. It’s given me so much opportunity. Truly, it has. But once upon a time, like Jane said, and long ago, I had a completely different life. One more tied to the soil. The land.”
“Your parents were farmers,” Bev said, reminding the others. “Tomatoes and olives.”
“And what a delicious sauce we could make,” Nona said with fond remembrance. “With shellfish.” She hung her head with a blush. “Luigi used to bring us the fish.”
“So you had a regular opportunity—” Haley began.
“To meet and fall in love,” Angie finished with a fond smile.
“It all sounds terribly romantic,” said Claire.
“We had to sneak away,” Nona informed them. “Meet on the sly by the sea. Giovanni helped us. He covered for me.” She dabbed her eye with a tissue. “I miss my brother so.”
“I can’t imagine what that was like. Having a brother,” Zoe said.
“Nor can any of us!” Tiny confirmed, and they all laughed.
“At least you have each other, not just some of you as sisters, but all of you as cousins. That’s something.”
They all added their agreement, saying they were truly blessed.
“What sorts of things do you talk about?” Trish wondered. “You and Luigi, when you speak online?”
“Oh, you know.” Nona gave a little shrug. “This and that…”
Emma lifted an eyebrow. The puppy had awakened and snuggled contentedly in her lap, as she stroked under its chin. “Now she’s being coy.”
“I am not,” Nona contested. “Only private. And a woman my age…” She tittered a laugh. “…is entitled to some secrets.”
“Goodness gracious, Nona,” Jane said. “We weren’t asking for details!”
“Oh, yes, we were,” Susan said.
“The more, the better,” Zoe chirped eagerly.
“Okay, I’ll tell you.” Nona leaned forward on her elbows and the others angled toward her. “We talk about the old days, and how things used to be. The adventures we had. And then…” Her cheeks colored dusty rose. “We speak of the adventures we’d like to have, even now. Just the two of us.”
“Like?” Lena pressed.
“We’d like to picnic on the shore.” Nona shared a distant smile. “With a blanket and a very large bottle of wine. In a private spot where no one else can—”
“Okay, okay.” Jane flagged a palm at her grandmother. “We get it.”
“What, Jane?” Susan said. “She was just getting to the good part.”
“No, she wasn’t,” cautioned Trish. “She was headed into TMI.”
Nona blinked in innocence. “What’s TMI?”
Rachel giggled and hugged her warmly. After the group hug, she’d moved from the arm of the sofa to the arm of her grandmother’s overstuffed chair. Rachel was their social butterfly, ever circulating, even among family. “Too much information,” she said in a whisper. “I think you were embarrassing Jane.”
“I don’t embarrass!” Jane balked, but even so her face reddened.
“Neither do I,” Trish added quickly. “I… We…” She glanced at Jane. “Just didn’t want you to confess anything you’d regret later.”
“Heavens!” Nona proclaimed. “I haven’t had a chance to regret anything yet.” Her expression was glum. “I suppose that’s the problem.”
Tiny studied her with admiration. “You’re quite an inspiration, Nona. Oh, that we all had so much spunk at your age.”
“You most certainly will,” Nona said with a wink. “It’s in your DNA. And I know what those initials mean.”

“Do you think she’s serious?” Rachel quietly asked the others, as they wound down the path and away from their grandmother’s house. “Serious about this whole Luigi thing?”
Back on the crest of the hill, they heard wailing through the living room window.
“Oh, Luigi!” followed by a torrent of sobs.
The girls sucked in a collective breath.
“That sounded awful!” Bev whispered.
Claire choked back her tears. “Worse than awful.”
“Yeah,” Zoe agreed. “Totally bad.”
The cousins looked at each other and nodded. Without saying a word, they’d agreed. They had to devise a plan.
“She is eighty-seven,” Tiny offered.
Haley motioned with her racket. “Hasn’t got much time left.”
“That was uncalled for!” Angie cried.
“Shh…” Emma set down the pup, and clipped the leash to its collar. “She’ll hear us.”
All eyes turned back toward the house, which stood like a lonely beacon. A lonely widow’s beacon… They were all thinking the same thing. After all this time, and everything she’d done for them, their Nona had earned some happiness.
Lena spoke next. “Whatever time she’s got, she deserves to spend it how she wants. With the man she loves. Capische?”
Susan adjusted the knitting bag on her shoulder. “But what can we do?”
“Something, we have to do something,” Jane affirmed.
“Absolutely. After all, we D’Amatos aren’t quitters.” Trish set her chin with a determined look, and glanced back at the house. “It’s in our DNA.”

Ten minutes after her granddaughters had departed, Lucia pulled herself together. What was the point of it all? Weeping over a future that couldn’t be. She dried her tears and inhaled deeply—recalling the sweet scent of lilacs and a faraway island blooming with wildflowers. Lucia heard a noise chirp from her computer and turned toward the adjoining room where she’d left it on the dining room table. The music sounded again, and Lucia’s heart bounded. That had to be Luigi keeping their appointment for a video chat.
She pushed out of her wing chair and practically skipped toward the table with spry steps. Luigi! My love is calling… Lucia felt fire in her cheeks to imagine a woman her age would think of someone—anyone—as her love. But that’s how she thought of him. Il mio amore. The computer chimed again and Lucia skirted toward it, first taking care to check her reflection in the mirror hanging over the sideboard. Her gray hair was tousled, and her eyes still a little red from crying. She hoped Luigi wouldn’t notice.
Ciao, bella!” came his enthusiastic greeting once she was seated and had accepted his call. He was as dashing as ever, with sea-blue eyes and deeply tanned skin that spoke of the sun. By contrast, Lucia was fair, having spent these sheltered years indoors.
“Luigi,” she said in their native tongue, “this is a surprise!”
His laugh rumbled. “Don’t tell me you’d forgotten our date, cara mia?” But, by the way his eyes sparkled, she knew he understood she’d been teasing.
“I would never forget you, Luigi.”
“Hmm. Yes. This is why you ran away from home to marry another man?”
“That’s so unfair!”
He stroked his chin and she saw that it was stubbled. It occurred to her he’d look handsome in a beard. She put it on her agenda to suggest he grow one.
Si, si.” His look was conciliatory. “You have a point. I made a slip and married, too.”
“I thought you said you loved Teresa.”
“Adored her. Just as I know you adored your husband. Yet, somewhere deep in here…” He drew a hand to his chest. “There was always a hole. As deep as the darkest cavern in the ocean… You felt it, too, si?”
Lucia recalled that bittersweet moment on her wedding day, seconds before she’d said I do. A memory had come flooding back uninvited, and it had painted a picture from her past. Just she and Luigi standing on a seaside cliff. He was dressed in a suit and she all in white. A crown of wildflowers adorned her hair. It was long and luscious then, a deep russet brown, offsetting her creamy skin and the darkness of her eyes. While they’d been too young to marry, they’d pledged themselves to each other and had taken secret vows. Though their lives, it seemed, had held other plans.
“Oh, Luigi…si. Yes, I did. It’s a miracle we found each other.”
Un miracolo.” Luigi’s eyes twinkled. “But I also thank my great-grandson Paolo.”
“The one who connected you to the Internet.”
“He’s twelve now, did I tell you?”
“No! He had a birthday?”
“Just this week.”
“How was the party?”
“Splendid, but…” His face moved closer to the screen. “A little lonely without you.”
“Have you told them?” she asked. “About your…communications with America?”
“Oh, yes!” he said heartily. “And they approve! Everyone wants to meet you.”
Lucia sighed deeply. “And I them.”
“I wish I could meet your family, too.”
“You would love my granddaughters. All of them.”
His face sagged. “Lucia?” he asked quietly. “Have you thought any more about it? Taken time to consider my proposal?”
“I don’t have to consider. You know what my answer would be.”
“Then why not say it?”
She felt her eyes mist. “What’s the point in pretending?”
“Ah, yes.” His words were tender, caressing. “Or in dreaming, either, no?”
“Tell me your dreams, Luigi. I want to hear them.”
“The beautiful ones? About you and me?”
“Yes,” she said softly. “And start at the very beginning.”
“With a boy and a girl on the beach?”
She nodded and he laughed warmly. “Okay, cara mia, I will indulge you one more time. But I have to warn you about how my story ends.”
Lucia held her breath and waited for him to say it. For, each time he did, it was like a symphony to her ears.
“With happily ever after.”

The Calendar Brides by Ginny Baird

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Published on December 17, 2014 12:40 • 1,556 views

December 7, 2014

The Holiday Brides Collection  Books 1-4 (Holiday Brides, #1-4) by Ginny BairdAs crazy as it seems, I am a New York Times Best Seller! (If you thought you heard squealing in the background, you were probably right.) This is a moment many writers dream of, and yours truly is no exception. Fourteen years ago, when I first started seriously writing fiction, I made it my goal. It’s almost embarrassing to admit this now, but I even “cut and pasted” a copy of the New York Times bestselling fiction list by inserting the name of my first novel. While I wasn’t brazen enough to place my book first (ha-ha), I did put myself somewhere in the top ten. I framed my little masterpiece and set it beside my old desktop computer, thinking somehow it would bring me luck.

Over time, I learned that in writing – just as in any creative endeavor – luck is valuable, yes, but only when coupled with lots of hard work. It took years of writing different kinds of things to find my niche in romance. Although, ironically, some of my bestselling romance actually had its roots in screenplay writing. The first three books in my Holiday Brides Series began as screenplays in fact. That series went on to become a popular novella series, and now a bundle of its first four books, The Holiday Brides Collection: Books 1-4 (Winter Wedding Press), is a New York Times and USA Today best seller!

While it didn’t hit in the top ten on the New York Times list, the collection did land at position number seventeen in Ebook Fiction. A very happy achievement and one I couldn’t have foreseen all those years ago, when the Times didn’t even have an ebook fiction list. Though ebooks were out there (and I was writing some of them), most were published by small online presses and none were selling in high enough volume to make much headway. Ebooks were in their infancy then, and baby… look how far they’ve come!

Ebooks now dominate a segment of the fiction market, and are especially prevalent in romance, the genre in which I write. Though my books are available in other formats (paperback and audiobook), it’s fair to say that ninety-eight percent of my readership is on Kindle, NOOK, iBooks and Kobo. I love that audience, and am truly grateful to each and every person who’s ever downloaded one of my books and helped me reach my dream. It may have been realized more than a decade later than I’d hoped, but the fact that it’s happened at all is really outstanding.

When I first received the news of my double-list hit (USA Today and New York Times) during Thanksgiving week, I was floating in a bubble of delirious joy. I mean that seriously. Hubby took me to the grocery store to buy a bottle of celebratory champagne, and it was all I could do not to “bunny hop” down the aisles.

Now, here I am this morning, December seventh, the day the relevant The New York Times edition hits the stands. You can find the ebook listing online here:

You can bet I'll be printing a copy, a pair of scissors and a picture frame in hand. Some dreams are a long time coming. Thank you, my fabulous readers, for making that faraway wish come true.

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Published on December 07, 2014 06:35 • 464 views

November 8, 2014

The Calendar Brides by Ginny Baird I’m excited to be working on a new project involving not just one dynamic heroine, but thirteen! It hit in a flash of inspiration, as I was pondering the approaching New Year. I was searching for another project to undertake, but hoped for something creatively different. Something that might rejuvenate my skills as a romantic fiction writer.

When the notion of “Calendar Brides” occurred to me, I initially thought to focus on one bride per month and write serialized stories. But no, that wasn’t quite right. If these women were connected, I wanted the chance to know them better up front. I also realized they should be unified by a common goal. The vision of a large, extended family came to me. It was composed mostly of women: sisters and cousins, with a dearly loved matriarch at the helm.

As the plot unfolded in my mind’s eye, I became intrigued by a spunky octogenarian her granddaughters called Nona. I also was drawn to the diversity and individual spirit of each of her adult granddaughters. As I got to know the D’Amato women, I found myself cheering, as well as laughing and crying, for them, as each undertook her own mini love story. What fun it was weaving their vignettes in among the greater tale of Nona’s ambition to reunite with her long-lost love.

The Calendar Brides is not just a “second chance romance” in the most profound sense, it is equally a tale of love in all its guises—as it’s shared by couples as varied as the stars in the heavens. For one universal truth prevails throughout their myriad trials, tribulations and triumphs: there’s nothing more spectacular than deeply felt love, particularly when it’s reciprocated by just the right someone.

Watch for The Calendar Brides in ebook in paperback in January 2015.

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Published on November 08, 2014 14:56 • 1,432 views

October 9, 2014

Sweet Christmas Kisses  Fourteen Sweet Christmas Romances by Donna FasanoThese past few weeks have passed in a blur and today has been like a dream. Actually, the dream started yesterday with an evening email stream peppered with yippees! and whoohoos! After much concerted effort, my collaborators on Sweet Christmas Kisses and I had achieved our goal: becoming USA Today bestselling authors!

It began with an entity called Sweet Romance Reads and our desire to put forth more diversity in women’s fiction. While some of us also write steamier stuff, we wanted to offer our support to the emerging genre of closed-bedroom-door yet fully engaging romance. Our heartwarming stories run the spectrum from contemporary to historical, paranormal, comedy and romantic suspense, and are set in a variety of locales around the globe. But they hold one thing in common: the objective of delivering an emotionally satisfying happily ever after without including graphic language or scenes.

What fun it was to find this group and discover that my series books (Holiday Brides and Summer Grooms) as well as some of my single titles (The Ghost Next Door and Santa Fe Fortune) fit right in! It was equally exciting to learn that several authors there were preparing a group project, a whole collection of these wonderful stories to be sold in boxed set format and discounted for a limited time. When I heard the mention of a Christmas theme, this Holiday Brides gal couldn’t resist…

And so, we began our plotting and planning, deciding who wanted to participate and which of our books would be offered. Several crafted brand new stories. A few of us included one of our more popular already-published books in the mix. My contribution was my Holiday Brides Book #3, Mistletoe in Maine: the tale of a single mom who finds love and adventure in snowy New England.

Once those basic decisions were made, we divided up the tasks of project management, advertising and promotions, which included a wonderful Twitter party and enormously successfully Facebook bash. We also hired a third-party Publisher to oversee formatting and distribution of our bundle, as well as to tend to general accounting details. While it doesn’t seem possible, we’ve been at this effort for months, though the past few weeks, with all the parties and launch day promotions, were the most intense.

And what a thrill it’s been seeing all that hard work pay off! Sweet Christmas Kisses: Fourteen Sweet Christmas Romances quickly became a Top 100 bestseller on Kindle and NOOK. It also took first place in several genre categories at Amazon, including: Collections and Anthologies, Inspirational Romance, Military Romance and Romantic Comedy. The icing on the cake was receiving notice we’d made such a premier and internationally recognized bestseller list like USA Today!

My head is still swirling from the excitement, and I’m so darned happy I feel my cheeks might burst from smiling so hard. It was super to share the news with my family, and a delight to open a celebratory bottle of champagne with my husband yesterday evening. What a very merry Christmas this has been, and the season is just beginning!

Thanks to my readers for your support, with special appreciation to those who’ve purchased this bundle. You are definitely a wonderful bunch, and none of us at Sweet Romance Reads could have done it without you. May you all have truly happy holidays indeed.

Learn more about Sweet Romance Reads at:

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Published on October 09, 2014 12:42 • 398 views

September 20, 2014

The Ghost Next Door (A Love Story) by Ginny Baird It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since I released my spooky little mystery-romance The Ghost Next Door (A Love Story). Yet, leaves are turning and the evening temperatures are dropping, reminding me that fall’s upon us – once again.

I enjoy many things about autumn, and I highlight some of my favorite fall-type activities (like hiking in the mountains and outdoor festivals) in this book. The town of Blayton, Virginia is loosely patterned after a town in which I lived in the western region of my state. Though I threw in a few embellishments, like a handsome, single sheriff and a defunct small-town paper that needs revamping by an enterprising newswoman.

What I loved about writing this story was the way it drew me in, not just into the town, but also into the lives of the various characters, each with his or her own hopes and woes. And, while it may surprise you to read this, its ending stunned even me. At the same time, once I saw that resolution, it was like a light going on – showing me I’d subconsciously known I was headed in that direction all along. In truth, I’d left several breadcrumbs along the way. So, somewhere deep inside, I must have seen what was coming.

It’s fun to hear what motivates writers, because all of us naturally respond to different cues. About the time I started writing The Ghost Next Door, I’d heard a familiar complaint about contemporary romance: that is was predictable. That fact alone accounts for much of its popularity. Readers want that guaranteed happily ever after when they begin a story. It’s not so much about how it will end, as it is about the journey the hero and heroine take to achieve that outcome.

Still, this got me thinking about taking a risk and writing outside the typical Ginny Baird box. I aimed to stay true to my style of heartwarming storytelling, but include some elements that were different, like a hint of mystery and a touch of surprise. If you’ve read The Ghost Next Door, first, hope you enjoyed the story. Second, I hope that I—at least, in part—achieved those goals.

Soon, I’ll be opening up The Ghost Next Door to a wider audience by releasing the story in audiobook. The project is now complete and on its way to retail. Look for it at Amazon, iTunes and Audible in October 2014. To celebrate this new audio edition, I’m discounting the ebook version for a limited time to just $0.99. If you’ve not yet read the book, I hope you’ll take advantage of the sale and grab your copy now. It’s definitely not too late to get your spook on! ;)

Happy autumn!

Read my earlier, work-in-progress post about the real-life graveyard that inspired this tale.

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Published on September 20, 2014 14:09 • 379 views

August 19, 2014

Ginny BairdIt’s that time of year when moms and dads fill backpacks and send their children off to school, armed with fresh supplies of all kinds—ranging from marble notebooks to new pencils and erasers. As our offspring grow, the supply list gets more demanding. Eventually, they need calculators; some high school students even may insist it’s uncool to ride the bus and beg for second-hand cars. But nothing tops the expense of sending a child to college, and not just in financial terms. Think of the emotional toll.

Sending a child to Kindergarten for the first time produces a similar level of anxiety. When my eldest went, I recall fretting all day over what they were doing with her. Was she happy and feeling secure? Was the teacher understanding, and were the other kids friendly? Don’t even get me started on my worries over recess or lunch. Yes, I was a “Mommy mess”… at least for those first few weeks. Now, several autumns later, I find myself at the tail end of sending kids back to school. Our youngest leaves for his first year of university this Saturday.

Although he’s nearly nineteen, I find myself with a familiar set of fears: about his happiness, the instructors he’ll have, and the bonds he’ll form with his peers. And yet, in my heart, I know he’ll be okay. We’ve prepared him well, and as the “caboose” in this large blended family, he feels more than ready to go. He’s had the benefit of watching others forge ahead, and understands very clearly what to expect. Though I’m sure there are bound to be surprises, for him and his parents, too. Fingers crossed that they’ll be mostly happy ones… that he spends his free time well, and that the food is good!

Best wishes to all you parents out there as you undergo similar struggles in launching your little ones, whatever their ages might be. May this be the start of the best school year ever, for all parties concerned.

The Getaway Groom (Summer Grooms Series Book 4) by Ginny BairdHelp me celebrate this landmark time of year by entering my Back to School Giveaway! Win a signed print copy of new release The Getaway Groom (Summer Grooms Series Book 4) by entering before September 1st.

Congrats to Giveaway winners: Richard from Mobile, AL and D D from North Hollywood, CA! Your prizes have been sent. :)
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Published on August 19, 2014 12:47 • 514 views

July 6, 2014

Christmas in July fun!
Ginny Baird is hosting two great Giveaways and one big sale!
Win an autographed copy of BABY, BE MINE right here at Goodreads.
Enter Christmas in July Rafflecopter for more great prizes from Ginny and other awesome authors!

The Holiday Brides Collection  Books 1-4 (Holiday Brides, #1-4) by Ginny BairdThough it’s balmy outside, believe or not I’m thinking wintery thoughts. This may be due to my recent efforts in bringing my Holiday Brides Series to audiobook. At this writing, Books 1 – 5 are available in audio format, with the Holiday Brides Collection (Books 1 -4) slated for release in audiobook soon. It’s been such a thrill hearing these stories come to life, and narrator Susan Soriano did a stellar job nailing the sweet, humorous – and often spunky – tone of each book. Just last week, we completed our current collaborations on the series. In celebration, I’d like to offer something special to you.

For a limited time in July, the Kindle, NOOK, and iBook edition of The Holiday Brides Collection (Books 1 – 4) will be available for an incredible sales price of just $0.99. This is $7.00 off the list price for the collection, and a $10.00 savings compared to buying these titles individually. If you’ve not yet read the first four books in the series, I hope you’ll take advantage and bring a little holiday cheer into your world this season. For details on the audiobooks and where to find them, please visit my website.

You can get The Holiday Brides Collection (Books 1 – 4)
On sale for $0.99 at the following retailers now:


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Enjoy, and happy reading! May you experience that special Christmas magic all year through.


Specials end July 28, 2014.

Giveaway winners have been posted on FB. Congrats to all!
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Published on July 06, 2014 12:19 • 1,585 views
The Getaway Groom (Summer Grooms Series Book 4) by Ginny Baird New Release from Ginny Baird!
Summer Grooms Series Book 4: The Getaway Groom
A feisty Southern belle meets a big-city bachelor when they’re both on the run from heartache, and sparks fly.

Sneak Peek 2 of 2!
Read Chapter One

Chapter Two

Ivy Green carefully scooped the froth from the milk steamer into the cappuccino cup. Old man Winters was waiting on his morning fix. “Coming right up, Walt!” she called with a pleasant smile, carrying the cup over. Walt Winters had been coming to the Coffee Connection every day for the past two years and eight months. Nobody knew why he’d suddenly opted to make this a part of his daily routine. He’d started Ivy’s third week here and was always waiting outside when she came to open up the shop.
She placed the cup on his table, and he lowered the newspaper he regularly bought from the box outside. His beard and mustache were white to match his hair, but they were neatly trimmed. “When you going to get yourself a boyfriend?” Walt’s eyes were as dark as coffee beans. It had occurred to Ivy more than once that he must have been a handsome man in his prime.
She smiled and set down the two packs of natural brown sugar he always took in his coffee. “As soon as the right guy comes along.” And doesn’t run out on me, Ivy thought to herself but didn’t say. She noticed movement behind him and stared out the shop’s front window, spying a guy in a tuxedo racing by. Weird. Wait! There went another one… No, another three! And a middle-aged man! Finally, another young guy brought up the rear, shouting after them.
Walt turned to watch as well. “Some kind of contest going on?”
“I don’t know.” Ivy glanced around the small space, which stood empty. Walt was always the first one here, and no one else had arrived. “I don’t know what that was, truthfully.”
Walt rattled his paper and grumbled, “Looked suspiciously like a groom under the gun.”
“A runaway. You know, the type that skedaddles.”
Yeah, Ivy knew that type exactly. “I’ll get your water,” she offered, walking back to the counter.
Since it was only her and Walt, she left the counter flip-top up while she went to work filling a plastic cup with ice. But the ice dispenser acted up again, spitting a pile of cubes onto the floor. Great. Ivy groaned. Now she’d have to mop that up before Eustis arrived. Eustis was her boss and very particular.
A blast of warm air blew toward her, and Ivy looked up, seeing a man had bolted in the door. He was about thirty with coal-black hair and a chiseled chin. His deep blue eyes were panicked. She suddenly realized it was the guy in the tuxedo, the one who’d been leading the parade of men. “Please!” he said, breathing heavily. “You’ve got to…” His gaze darted to the front window, where the group of others tore by. Before Ivy knew it, he was with her behind the bar.
“You can’t be back here!” she screeched.
Walt leapt to his feet. “Young man!” But before he could respond, the guy began skidding on melted ice.
“Arghh!” he cried as his dress shoes plowed through puddles, then started sliding. He went down hard with a thud, landing flat on his back, arms outstretched.
Ivy stared in horror at the terribly hot guy in a tux. Even in those fancy clothes, he looked buff. She thought he was tall, at least taller than her by a good three or four inches. The café door whooshed open again, and an agitated middle-aged man burst into the room. “Did he come in here?” He had a crazed look on his face, like he was ready to deliver a pounding. Ivy was strictly opposed to violence and certainly didn’t want any occurring right in front of her.
“Who?” she asked, noting Walt was inching his way toward the bar.
“That rogue who was supposed to marry my daughter!”
Ivy peeked at the man pressing his palms together in a pleading motion. He sure didn’t look like the set-the-date-then-ditch type. Then again, Ivy’s judgment wasn’t spot-on in that department.
“Missy, I asked you a question!” the father of the bride demanded.
Walt took a step toward him. “Hold it right there, fella.”

Mark stared up at the dark-haired beauty, his heart pounding. He didn’t know how he’d found himself in this position, but now his life was in her hands. If she turned him over to Sandra’s dad, who knew what would be left of Mark afterward. Probably not much. He certainly couldn’t fight back against an old man.
The woman flagged a palm toward the door and spoke softly. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t raise your voice in here.”
Mark could hear Sandra’s dad huff on the far side of the counter. “I apologize. It’s just been a very… What I mean is, it’s a simple question. Yes or no?”
The brunette set one hand on her hip and motioned around the room with the other. She wore jeans and a dark T-shirt that very nearly matched her hair. She had bangs and pulled the rest of her hair back in a ponytail, exposing smooth cheekbones. “What does it look like to you?”
“We haven’t seen a thing,” another voice said in corroboration. It was then that Mark remembered the guy sitting in the corner when he’d blown in.
A poof of wind ruffled some rags tied to the cabinet handles above him, and yet another voice called, “Dad! We think we saw him! He went that way!” It was Jeb, Mark realized. Sandra’s oldest brother. Then, in a flash, there were more scurrying footfalls, and they were gone.
“Who says nothing happens in Rosemont?” the old dude asked.
Instead of responding, the woman stared down at Mark with chocolate-colored eyes. They were mesmerizing, unforgettable…captivating Mark in an uncanny way. His heart stilled, then skipped a beat as she held his gaze. She twisted her lips to study him an extra long moment. Her lips were a luscious raspberry red. When she parted them to speak, Mark wasn’t sure what to expect. At the very least, he anticipated a scolding. In contrast, her tone was light. “Don’t you think you’d better say who you are?”
Mark partially righted himself on his elbows and shot her a humble grin. “Mark Delacroix. Nice to—”
The bottom of her low-heeled boot met his chest and pressed him back down. One eyebrow arched dangerously as she loomed over him. “Delacroix?” She angled her chin toward the front and spoke to the older guy Mark guessed was still there. “Call back the F.O.B.”
“F.O.B.?” the old guy asked.
“Father of the bride.”
Mark sputtered from his pose on the ground. “Wait! Hang on…”
But she cut him off with a cold stare. “Seems we have a traitor in our midst.”
“Traitor?” Mark croaked, trying to sit up again. She pinned him down—hard. Man, that girl was strong. Especially when she was angry. But why was she so incensed? “Listen, we appear to have gotten off on the wrong—” A boot heel dug in. “Argh! Foot!”
“What are you doing to him back there?” the old man wondered.
“Putting him in his place,” the woman answered. “Someone’s got to do it.”
“But why?” Mark squeaked.
Suddenly the old guy was at the counter, his dark eyes staring down at Mark as well.
“It’s not what you’ve done, but what you’re trying to do.” Her eyes were smoldering, fierce. “Single-handedly ruin this town.”
The door swooshed open, and the brunette stared toward it with a gasp. “Austin?”
“Hi, Ivy. Nice to see you too,” a husky voice returned. Mark froze in place, the boot still centered on his chest.
The color in her cheeks deepened. “What brings you to town?”
“Haven’t you heard?” he asked, drawing nearer. “I’m getting married.”
“Don’t!” Ivy warned.
“Don’t what?”
“Take a step closer. I’ve just mopped the floor!”
“It doesn’t look wet.”
The older guy turned toward him. “It’s one of those new-fangled cleaning products. Insta-dry. Though you can never be sure.”
Mark had no clue what was going on but decided to play it safe by staying extra still. Maybe Ivy would get so distracted she’d forget all about him. Then he could stealthily slip out from under her boot and sneak away.
“Fine,” Austin said. “I can tell you want to get rid of me. Not that I’d been planning to stay.”
“Then why are you here?” the old man asked.
“To invite you to my wedding.”
“Me? But I don’t even know you.”
“Not you. Her.”
He must have stared straight at Ivy, because she seemed to be holding her breath. “That’s good of you,” she said with a smirk.
“Not that I’d really expect you’d come. It was Caroline’s idea.”
“My fiancée.”
“I see.”
“Of course, Caroline said it would be hard on you. We’ll understand if—”
“Hard?” Ivy cut in. “I hardly think so.”
“You’ll come, then?” Austin sputtered.
“My signif and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“What the heck is a signif?” Austin demanded.
“Significant other,” Ivy said primly. “That is, if you’re sure it won’t bother you seeing me with him?”
“I didn’t know you were dating anybody.”
Ivy gingerly lifted her boot off Mark’s chest and glanced down.
“It hasn’t really been your business to know, now has it?”
“No, but—”
“Why don’t you just run along? I’ve got things to do here, and we’re opening in ten minutes.”
“Well, I sure didn’t know you were seeing anyone,” Austin grumbled. “This will be news to Caroline too.”
“Likely make her happy,” the old man quipped.
“Yes,” Ivy added. “We’d hate for the bride to be jealous on her wedding day.”
“Jealous?” Austin asked, befuddled.
“Didn’t Ivy ask you to leave?” the old man questioned.
“Yeah, sure. I’m going,” Austin said, making his retreat.
The old guy glanced at Ivy and whispered, “Got yourself into a pickle now.”

Mark was just sitting up when the door whooshed open again, and a woman’s high heels clickety-clacked across the room. What was this place? Grand Central Station? Before he could stand, a new person was peering down at him. She had springy red curls and a creamy complexion, with fine wrinkles surrounding her eyes. She stood beside the old man and shrieked.
“Heavens to Betsy! What have we here?”
“Mark Delacroix,” Ivy reported.
“Is that a fact?”
“Ran out on his bride,” the old man informed her.
“Well, well…” The redhead clucked her tongue and surveyed the damage. Mark noted for the first time he’d pulled over a napkin holder, a cup of ice, and a whole gallon of nonfat milk during his fall. The space around him was a disaster. “Aren’t you good at making a mess of things?”
To Mark’s surprise, his buddy Wayne peered over her shoulder. “There you are!” He glanced at the brunette, then down at the littered floor. “Did you do all that?”
Mark peeled himself off the floor, his tuxedo jacket sticking. He yanked it free, and it dripped with milk when he stood. “Wow,” Wayne said.
“I hope you’re going to clean that up,” the redhead added.
The next thing Mark knew, the helpful brunette was handing him a dustpan and broom. “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure,” he said smartly.
Her chocolate gaze met his. “The name is Ivy Green. But the pleasure’s not mine.”

While everyone in Rosemont had heard of Mark Delacroix, very few had met him. He’d swooped in under the cloak of night and bought out Chicken Fried Foods before anyone could say snap. Chicken Fried Foods was the mega packaging plant that employed most of the townsfolk. Now a swanky new beer-bottling place was going in, with tasting rooms and focus-group consultants from New York.
Had any thought been given to the hundreds of people who’d be put out of their jobs? No. Were there any plans to retrain them to work in the new business? No, again. Outsiders were being brought in from the north. Folks who yearned for a quieter way of life and clean country air for their children. What about the parents and kids who were already here? Ivy’s cousin Grace was on the staff of the local paper and had covered the whole disgusting story. The details of the deal that had gone public, anyway. It was astounding a man like Mark could even have friends. He apparently had one, because the other guy was helping him now, bending low to retrieve a wad of soppy paper towels.
“I think that about does it.” Mark accepted the dripping towels from his friend and dropped them in a large wastebasket. “Don’t tell me,” he said with a hint of sarcasm Ivy didn’t appreciate. “You want me to mop and shine too?” Why was he being cool to her? Wasn’t she the offended party? In fact, all of Rosemont was offended. To top it all off, he’d made a wreck of her shop.
She snatched back the broom and dustpan as he handed them over. “That will do for now,” she said, noting a few regulars stepping inside.
Ivy felt something warm grip her hand, then saw Mark had wrapped his fingers around hers where she held on to the broom. Ivy’s pulse fluttered. “I am sorry, you know. Sorry for ruining your day.”
“Well, you did pick up,” Eustis said from behind them. “That’s something.”
Mark raised his brow and waited. His friend must have been hovering somewhere in the background too. But Ivy couldn’t see him. She was too overwhelmed by Mark’s sea-blue gaze. It swept over her like waves in the ocean catching her up in its swell. His hand tightened around hers. “Thank you, though. Thanks for not giving me away.”
Heat crept up her chin and fanned across her cheeks. “I would say anytime, but…” He withdrew his grasp, and Ivy sucked in a breath. “I wouldn’t mean it.”
“Not that I blame you one bit. And, hey…” He glanced at her leg. “I’m sorry about that too. I’ll pay for the cleaning.” Ivy looked down, seeing for the first time her jeans had been splattered with milk and coffee.
“I do my own wash.”
His friend glanced at him and motioned toward the street with his chin. “My car’s not that far away. We should probably make a break for it.”
“Aren’t you even going to apologize?” Walt asked.
“But I already—”
“Not to Ivy,” Walt said. “To your bride.”

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Published on July 06, 2014 08:21 • 1,086 views

July 5, 2014

The Getaway Groom (Summer Grooms Series Book 4) by Ginny BairdNew Release from Ginny Baird!
Summer Grooms Series Book 4: The Getaway Groom
A feisty Southern belle meets a big-city bachelor when they’re both on the run from heartache, and sparks fly.

Sneak Peek 1 of 2!

Chapter One

Mark Delacroix stood before the small chapel mirror and adjusted the blue bow tie that matched his eyes. The bridesmaid dresses were blue too. That had been Sandra’s idea. Mark figured it was a small sacrifice to make. That, plus trimming his charcoal hair extra short. And, oh yeah, eliminating his typical three-day stubble.
His buddy Wayne patted his shoulder and smiled at their reflections. “You almost look presentable.”
Mark raised his brow at his friend. “Scary, isn’t it?”
Mark wondered if he was just having cold feet, or if something else was going on. This was supposed to be a great day. A spectacular event he was looking forward to. Though the church was small, the wedding was lavish. Sandra’d told him many times her dad had spent in the six figures on this bash. Mark almost wished she hadn’t shared those numbers. It made him feel, he didn’t know… Beholden.
“Look at it this way,” Wayne said. “By this time tomorrow, it will be over.”
“That’s what I’m worried about.”
Only his best man Wayne had the privilege of being in here. The other four groomsmen—all of them Sandra’s brothers—were waiting outside.
Wayne’s lips locked in a frown. “You’re not having second thoughts?”
Mark shrugged.
“Everybody’s got to get married sometime, right?”
“No.” Wayne met his gaze. “Listen, man, it’s not too late to stop it. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet.”
Just then they heard a woman’s voice rising in a high soprano. The song was “Ave Maria.” The ceremony had started. Mark swallowed hard.
He could do this, sure he could. Hadn’t Sandra said that the time was right, and neither of them was getting any younger? It was true they were both in their early thirties, and each had said they wanted to have children. Of course, when they’d had that conversation, they’d been talking in general.
By now, Sandra had planned the whole thing out. Where their kids would attend prep school, how the family would summer in the Hamptons, which Ivy League each of their offspring should shoot for… And there wasn’t even a baby yet!
Someone knocked on the door, and Wayne went to answer it. “Buddy,” he told Mark. “It’s time.”
Wayne pulled back the door and stepped aside with surprise. It wasn’t one of the groomsmen as expected. It was Sandra! She was dressed all in white in her designer gown, a thin veil flipped back over her head. “Ave Maria” was already on its second chorus.
“Isn’t this bad luck?” Wayne asked.
“Can I have a minute with Mark?” Her eyes were all big and goopy like she was going to break down crying. They were blue like her mom’s, and her wavy blonde hair was piled up under her veil.
“A minute’s about all you’ve got,” Wayne said, checking his cell. Then he exited and left them alone.
“Sandra?” Mark asked. “What’s going on?”
She scuttled over to him, her crinoline crunching.
“I couldn’t…go through with it, not without—”
“You’re calling off the wedding?”
“No.” She sniffed into the hanky in her hand. It was something that had belonged to her grandmother. Something borrowed. It was old too. She’d hinted that the something blue was buried beneath her dress, and that Mark would get to see it later. “But, I do have something to tell you.”
Mark was aware of a deafening silence. “Ave Maria” had stopped, and only a small dressing room clock ticked in the background.
“It’s about Frank.”
“Frank?” This hit Mark out of left field. Frank was some older guy Sandra worked with. He wasn’t exactly her supervisor, but he did run the department Sandra wanted to become a part of. “What about him?”
Sandra brought the hanky to her mouth to muffle her cry. “I slept with him!”
Someone rapped at the door. “Daughter, are you in there?”
Mark felt like someone had punched him in the gut, extra hard. “When?”
She blinked, dabbing her eyes. “You want a list of dates?”
“There was more than one?” Mark asked, aghast.
Her dad knocked again.
“Just a minute, Daddy!”
“We’ve got a whole church full waiting,” he returned gruffly.
Mark ran a hand through his hair, sorry now he’d cut it. Sorry now he’d done anything Sandra had asked him to do. She’d been cheating on him. Cheating! “He’s out there, isn’t he?” Mark asked.
“His wife came too.”
“Like that makes it so much better.”
“Listen, Mark. I’m telling you this because I want to be fair. I want us to begin our marriage on a clean slate.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“No! I told Frank. Told him last night. It’s over.”
Mark’s head reeled in disbelief. “You spoke to him after the rehearsal dinner?”
“During. He was there. Remember?”
Sure he was. With his wife! Alarm bells started ringing in Mark’s head. Then his whole world went up in smoke. He could barely see through the fog to meet her expectant eyes.
“There.” She heaved a little breath. “Now that it’s done, I feel much better.” Incredibly, her mouth turned up in a smile. “Baby, don’t be mad.”
Mark wasn’t mad, he was suffocating. It was as if someone had gripped him by the throat and wouldn’t let go. And they were choking the life out of him.
“Open the door,” he told her urgently.
“You’re right,” she said sweetly. “We’re already late.”
Mark peered out into the narthex, where Wayne was waiting. Sandra’s dad and her brothers stood by impatiently too. He spied a sea of blue beyond them and took that to be a gaggle of bridesmaids. But everything was spiraling in a fuzzy blur. Wayne met his gaze, his eyes widening. Somehow he understood that something had gone desperately wrong.
Sandra’s dad took her by the elbow, giving her a sunny smile. “You look lovely.” He led her toward the door to the sanctuary, and the bridesmaids all fell in line. He addressed Mark and Wayne and his sons. “You boys better get around up front.”
They were supposed to enter near the altar, each taking his assigned place. Wayne held open the door, and the groomsmen began filing outside. When Mark slipped past him, Wayne caught him by the sleeve. “What’s going on?”
Mark saw a bright flash of light before him, then a whole nursery of babies. All boys like Sandra’s brothers. And they looked like Frank! He met Wayne’s eyes. “I can’t do this.” He didn’t need to explain what had happened. Wayne had his back.
“Then run, man. Make a break for it. Now.
Mark’s eyes flitted to the front of the church, where the groomsmen were headed. Then back to the sidewalk flanking the road. They were in an older part of town with historic houses, iconic buildings, and small eateries all clumped together. It was Saturday morning just before ten, so the foot traffic was light. If he took off now, he might get three blocks away before anyone noticed.
Mark’s head swam, but there was a fire in his gut. And this fire’s going to consume me if I stand here another second.
Wayne set his jaw and nodded. “Just, do it.”
Mark glanced back in the church and saw Sandra’s and her dad’s eyes on him through the open door. Up ahead, her brothers had stopped and pivoted his way.
Mark sucked in a breath and gathered his nerve before sprinting in the opposite direction. His heels clicked against the sidewalk, dress shoes pinching as he went. But that didn’t slow him down. Mark glanced over his shoulder to see Sandra’s brothers shouting after him, following in hot pursuit as Sandra’s dad bolted from the church. Wayne brought up the rear, hightailing it as fast as he could. Holy cow, Mark thought, racing forward. Then, he swung his arms into action and picked up his pace.

Read Chapter Two

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Published on July 05, 2014 17:49 • 902 views

The Story Behind the Story...

Ginny Baird
What inspires Ginny Baird romance? Everything from the extraordinary to the mundane. Keep reading for "The Story Behind the Story" of current novels, and a behind the scenes peek at works in progress.
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