Susan Meier's Blog

August 4, 2020

Excerpt from HIRED BY THE UNEXPECTED BILLIONAIRE

I thought we'd try something different and pulled a passage from the middle of the book.

Enjoy...

The weekend passed quickly. Talking about their feelings seemed to work for Marnie. She was light, happy. Rex made it to Monday despite his sore gums. But at breakfast, Danny felt odd. All day Sunday, he’d reminded himself that his happiness around Marnie was relief. But at a certain point he had to admit that wasn’t true. He liked her and he’d basically warned her off.
He should have kissed her Saturday night.
If she’d quit, he could have asked her for a date.
If she hadn’t quit, they’d have figured something out.
But he’d taken the high road. And now look where he was. Watching the woman who filled his heart with joy play mother to his child. He might have only known her a few weeks, but they fit.
And he’d blown it.
It didn’t help that he spent Monday in court and returned home exhausted and grumpy. Rex spilled his juice. Wiggles peed on the floor. Marnie handled it all like the pro she was.
She retired to her room after putting Rex to bed. Danny walked to the family room, a large room in the back with a big screen TV and enough toys and games to entertain fifty people.
He tuned the television to a baseball game, racked the balls on the pool table and grabbed a cue stick from the holder.
He shot two games, groaning at the ineptitude of his favorite baseball team and trying to unwind.
“Hey.”
His gaze shot up when Marnie entered the room. “I’m sorry if I was too loud. I forgot I’m on your side of the penthouse.”
She meandered a bit closer. “It’s okay. I couldn’t hear you, but…” She bit her lower lip, a habit he’d observed she indulged when she was nervous. “Well, at dinner I noticed you were stressed.”
He straightened, searched for his next shot, then leaned over to take it. “That’s a natural result of spending a day in court. You have two sides who both believe they’re right.” He slid the stick between his fingers and smacked the cue ball into three other balls with a resounding crack. “I handle mostly estates so the only times I enter a courtroom are when relatives are fighting over money.”
He hit the cue ball again. The red ball flew into a pocket. He drew a satisfied breath. “Fighting families are the worst.”
“I’ll bet.” She plopped down on the sofa, tucking one leg under her butt and laying one arm along the back pillows. It was sweet that she wanted to talk him out of his stress, but she had no idea that the more he saw her, the more he wanted her, and right now she was playing with fire.
“But, honestly, I don’t have much family. My mom was an orphan. My dad single-minded. We didn’t host relatives for Thanksgiving. Our guests were his clients.”
He longed to talk about his day, hear about her life. But wasn’t that part of the problem? The connection they were making lured him in to want more.
He took another shot. “That sounds lovely.”
“It wasn’t.” She paused a beat. “What about you?”
He looked up. Her eyes were warm, her gaze friendly. If he didn’t answer, she’d know something was wrong.
“Before I met Leni and Charlotte, I didn’t have any brothers and sisters. My parents were never chosen by another birth mother. I did have oodles of cousins though.”
She came to attention. “Really? What’s that like?”
A memory of a week at the lake popped into his head, and—amazingly—he laughed. “Chaotic. There was only one girl cousin and we terrorized her.”
“You didn’t!”
“Hey, we were boys in the woods. If we found a snake, it wasn’t our fault that we wanted to show it off.”
She laughed.
Finished with his game, he should have gone to his room. Instead, with his muscles loosening and the stress of the day slipping away, he motioned to the table. Just like always, being with her did something to him. Something he liked. Something he needed.
“Do you play?”
She looked at her fingernails. “A bit.”
“Don’t tell me you’re a ringer.”
She pushed off the sofa. “No. But I have my days.”
She chose a stick and he let her break. She ended up with the striped balls and had four put away before he got his first turn.
Focused, he worked to get three in the pockets. Then she bent across the table to shoot and her yoga pants outlined her butt.
He took a quick breath and blew it out slowly.
She only sank one ball before she lost her turn. As he studied the table, she said, “What else happens in court?”
She had a good idea keeping the conversation neutral, but it didn’t work when she used that breathless voice.
“Lawyers try to trip up witnesses from the opposing side.” He took a shot, missed and wasn’t the slightest surprised.
She leaned across the table again. He looked at the ceiling. “Your job is essentially tripping people up?”
“No. My job is looking for loopholes, mistakes in thinking, and law, precedents, that support my position.”
“You’re a trickster.”
“No!” He thought of his dad and fought the urge to ball his hands into fists. “I’m the one who uncovers tricksters.”
“Much more interesting.”
The breathless voice was back. Most of the balls were in the pocket. Both would shoot for the eight. He suddenly wished he could stand back and just watch her. Her movements were easy, fluid. Her proficiency at the game a total turn-on.
She tried for the eight, missed. He ambled to her side of the table as she walked to his. They met at a corner that she’d taken too sharply and suddenly they were in front of each other, almost brushing, both breathing funny.
They’d had the talk about how they weren’t going to pursue anything romantic, but after a day in court with his nerves strung tight, his defenses worn down… He couldn’t for the life of him remember why he’d agreed to that—
No. He couldn’t remember why he’d suggested that.
Familiar feelings rumbled through him. Primal. Quiet. Resurrecting an instinct so deep it merged body and soul.
He was suddenly the man he’d been before he’d met his dad and discovered he had a child. For thirty seconds, he was just a guy with needs. A hunger for the pretty girl in front of him.
“I thought we weren’t going to do this.”
His voice came out rough as he said, “I can’t for the life of me remember why.”
“Neither one of us wants to be a cliché.”
“If that’s our only reason, it’s not a good one.”
CHAPTER EIGHT
MARNIE’S HEART POUNDED, making her chest tight enough she worried it would burst. They were so close she swore she could hear his heart beating. Everything had been good over the weekend, then he’d come home tired and out of sorts and something inside her had yearned to make him feel better.
She whispered, “You’re sure it’s not a good one?”
His head began to lower. “Very.”
When their lips met, a symphony of longing sang through her blood. Almost powerful enough to drown out her fears, it filled her heart, wove through her soul. Their connection was strong, but their attraction was stronger. She didn’t know how to fight it. Even when she reminded herself that he lived in a different world, part of her scoffed that he was a simple billionaire. Not one of the guys who attracted attention. And any private time she got with him would be worth it.
He deepened the kiss, his tongue delving into the recesses of her mouth. The longing intensified, whooshing through her, stealing her breath. Thoughts of where this was going, what they were doing should have terrified her. Instead, they stoked the flames of the fire.
He pulled away unexpectedly. She blinked up at him. Something wild and wonderful shivered between them. For a breath, she considered springing to her tiptoes and getting them back to kissing…but something serious had settled in his eyes.
“I think we both know where this was going and we both need to think about it some more.”
Drowsy, confused, she stepped back. After a second for his words to sink in, to remind her of consequences and ramifications, she said, “Yeah.”
He ran his hand through his hair. “I’m going to my room now.”
“Me too.”
As if he couldn’t take his eyes off her, he started backing toward the door. “See you in the morning.”
She nodded.
He left, and she stared at the door, her arousal subsiding, her needs mixing and mingling then breaking apart when she added her past and everything didn’t exactly mesh. Not only was he sexy and amazing, but he was a good person. Genuinely good. And she should be thankful he’d been levelheaded.
Even thoughts of his control sent warmth cascading through her. He could have taken advantage of her. She’d had that happen too many times to count, when the hole in her life left by her missing father had caused her to go looking for love all the wrong ways. His respect for her filled her eyes with tears and her soul with yearning.
For something she couldn’t have. Because she’d made a mistake. And that mistake followed her.
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Published on August 04, 2020 18:41 Tags: billoinaire, nanny, puppy, romantic, secrets, susan-meier

August 3, 2020

I Find Secrets Fasciating

When I began writing HIRED BY THE UNEXPECTED BILLIONAIRE, the editors and I thought Danny Manelli's story of being a brooding billionaire, who only recently discovered he was a dad...and ADOPTED...would steal the show.

Enter Marnie Olsen.

Some characters come to me full-blown. But rarely do they come with a story. Usually I have to make that up. But not so with Marnie.

She'd been the object of bullying in high school. That's not so unusual. But the reason for it was.

Her mom pulled her out of school, and she began using her mother's maiden name to get her life back. It worked, until she entered college and realized that someday she'd have to get a job. And in Manhattan, her tormenters would be ruling the world.

As a nanny, she found a way to earn a good living and keep all her secrets.

Until she goes to work for Danny Manelli. His life's too big, too public for her to hang around. But his son is adorable, so is his new puppy. And he's...well, he's everything.

Someday she's going to have to leave, probably disappear in the night, but just once she longs to see what it would be like to love someone and have them love her.

Marnie and Danny will make you laugh and cry.

Just the way I like a story. :)

Here's a universal link.

https://books2read.com/u/bwdQE9

Happy Reading

susan meier
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Published on August 03, 2020 07:02 Tags: baby, billoinaire, nanny, puppy, romantic, secrets, susan-meier

July 17, 2020

One of My Favorite Books Releasing Next Week

Hi, everybody!

August 1, 2020, one of my favorite books releases. HIRED BY THE UNEXPECTED BILLIONAIRE.

This was an extremely interesting book to write because the hero has been burned by a secret and the heroine lives with a secret...Two actually.

Her father is an extremely wealthy investment banker but she was raised in extreme poverty. And she was the victim of some serious bullying in high school.

She wants her life to be calm and low key, and falling for her billionaire boss will ruin all that. Especially, if the press looks into her past.

But how can she resist a man who isn't just sexy and male...he's raising a son he didn't know he had and fighting his billionaire father to keep his privacy.

At the heart, they are kindred spirits and she's sure no one on earth will love her or understand her the way he does.

But those secrets always get in the way.

The subject matter was tricky, but the characters were amazing. Add an adorable eighteen-month-old and a clumsy puppy and we have a story with humor and heart.

I hope you'll pick up a copy!

Happy Summer!

susan meier
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Published on July 17, 2020 07:36

August 4, 2019

Always Late to the Party

Last week, the ebook edition of FALLING FOR THE PREGNANT HEIRESS released. I didn't even do a newsletter because I hope to have a free short story to give to subscribers that links to Sabrina and Trent's story.

It's not done yet. LOL

Why? Well, I'm working on the second book of a new trilogy for Harlequin. It's a month late.

Are you noticing a pattern?

I used to be one of those annoying people who got up at five, went to the gym, and was at my desk at seven to write for five hours.

Now? I seem to be enamored with coffee and morning television. Not ALL morning television. Just George Stephanopoulos. He is so darned cute. But it's also fun to watch him fit into a more relaxed format than what he is accustomed to.

After going to RWA Nationals, Romance Writer's of America's big conference and attending several workshops on getting yourself back on track...I found myself at the gym at seven every morning last week...So there's hope for me yet.

If you're a newsletter subscriber, check your email next Monday. Hopefully that newsletter with the free story will be there.

If not, check the golf course!

Happy Reading...

susan

Oh, if you're not a subscriber but want to be here's a link

https://www.susanmeier.com/contact.ht...
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Published on August 04, 2019 09:39 Tags: susan-meier

May 22, 2018

Small Town Love and my real life

Today, Small Town Love, my book from Tule releases. I'm proud of this book for many reasons, not the least of which is I wrote it immediately after Michael died. We had a tight deadline, and I was part of a four-book mini-series...to bail on this project would have meant letting a lot of people down...Including Mikie. He was a stickler for keeping commitments.

So how did I write a romance when my heart was breaking? I made it funny. I took myself away from the emotions of the moment and turned in the exact opposite direction. I wanted to cry. I forced myself to laugh.

At a certain point in the writing process, I realized this book had gone from a responsibility to a respite from grief. If you've ever experienced a loss of the magnitude of losing a child, you probably realize that finding a place of mental rest is an absolute necessity.

This silly, wonderful story became that place for me.

When I was proofing it, I realized that that's what our books are supposed to do. I'd never specifically written one to become MY sanctuary before. But I'd always written my stories with an eye toward transporting my readers to another world.

We think what we do doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. I now know it does because I lived it firsthand. For the weeks it took me to write this story, I had a lovely place to go, friends -- albeit that they were fictional -- a twelve-year-old who needed me and a romance.

No one advocates living in fictional worlds all the time. But it was oh so lovely to have this respite when I desperately needed one.

So if you write romances, don't downplay what you do and its value. If you're a reader, enjoy. Your heart, your brain and your nervous system all need the few hours of being swept away.

I'd love it if you would buy and read SMALL TOWN LOVE.
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Published on May 22, 2018 07:44 Tags: romance, small-town, susan-meier

April 30, 2018

Excerpt SMALL TOWN LOVE

My first book for Tule Publishing releases May 22, 2018



I loved this story. Pax is a swoon-worthy hero and Evie Barclay is the kind of heroine we all wish we could be.



Here's a sample...



Tuesday morning, Paxton James walked up the main street of Paradise Key, Florida, drinking in the ambiance. As a small business owner and the mayor of a town undergoing a major revitalization, his days were long. But seeing the storefronts that were being taken back to the style of Paradise Key’s origin, young trees planted in boxes by parking meters, and a totally rebuilt boardwalk renewed his energy. With the renovations of the Paradise Key Resort finally begun, most of his residents would soon be gainfully employed, and business owners would be rolling in money from the small, but elite, group of tourists they hoped to attract.

If he was proud of what had been done in his years as mayor, he figured he deserved to be.

With a quick punch on the door of JavaStop, he entered the coffee shop.

“Hey, Lorelei.”

The attractive owner glanced up. “Hey, Mayor! What can I get you?”

“Coffee and this scone,” he said, pointing at the pastry inside the glass case.

She laughed. “Never met anybody so particular about his pastries.”

Lorelei poured his coffee and retrieved his scone while he picked up a copy of USA Today. She tried to wave off his money, but he insisted on paying, then took his coffee, scone, and newspaper to one of the comfortable seats in the back.

He settled into the sand-colored traditional chair beside the matching sofa, set his coffee and scone on the glass coffee table, and opened the paper, glancing up when the door opened again.

When he saw Evelyn Barclay, he winced. She wasn’t just a tall blonde drink of water; the woman was smart. The great-granddaughter of an industrialist, granddaughter of a U.S. Senator, and daughter of an activist, she’d gone to Oxford and gotten her master’s at Harvard.

While she, Lauren, Jenna, and Sofia mourned the loss of their childhood friend Lily, Pax and Evie had run into each other enough that he knew to stay away from her. She was single minded. Devoted to the city of Philadelphia. And fiercely protective of her friends.

She approached his chair. “What are you doing here?”

He peered at her. Not only had she gone home a few days ago, but also her dad had gotten into big trouble the day before. He’d have thought she’d be out hiring lawyers or something.

“What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.”

He frowned. Oh, Lord. He could have handled the storm in her soft gray eyes, except he found it sexy. And being attracted to her was wrong for about six hundred reasons.

“Looking for me?”

“For the next few weeks, I’m in charge of the Paradise Key website. Today’s the day you’re supposed to be on the beach at eight.” She frowned at his dress pants. “In shorts. Ready to tell people what a wonderful place Paradise Key is before rattling off this list of events.” She waved a sheet like the one laying on his desk in his office in town hall.

He glanced at the list of events, and the little buzz he’d gotten staring into Evie’s eyes disappeared. He hated that damned video. That was why his subconscious kept forgetting it.

“Why don’t we have somebody else rattle off that list?”

She gaped at him. “You’re the mayor!”

“I know…but what about you? A beautiful woman.” And Lord, she was beautiful. Her blond hair hung past her shoulders in a perfect wave, her pale eyes were set in a face that could charm the angels, and her sweet voice could melt snow. Just looking at her made his head spin. “A beautiful woman with television experience. I’ll bet you could make a much better video than I could.”

“No. For a video like this, people want someone in authority.”

He frowned. “How would you know?” His frown deepened. “Now that I think about it…why are you in charge of the video? Where’s Lauren?”

“Working with other clients.”

He sat back on the comfy sofa and crossed his arms on his chest. “Okay, I get that. But why you?”

“You think I can’t direct a video?”

“I don’t know.” He rose from the sofa and took a step toward her. “This isn’t exactly prime time TV. And you’re behind the camera. Not in front of it. Do you have any experience? I’m not working with somebody who doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

Her sexy eyes flashed fire again. For a few seconds, he regretted pushing her. Not just because it was a cheap excuse to get out of doing the video, but because that flash hit him right in the gut. His wife had been gone five years. Two years after her death, he’d even reentered the dating pool. But he’d never felt for any woman the weird things he felt around Evie Barclay.

What was he doing egging her on?

“Look, just tell Lauren I’m not doing the video anymore.” He returned to his seat and picked up the paper, mindlessly opening it. He couldn’t get the strange tingling sensation out of his chest, and if her eyes were still flashing fire, he didn’t want to see it.

“You’re doing the video.”

He turned a page in the paper. “No. I’m not.”

“Oh, yeah. You are.”

Her voice sounded so positive, so sure, that he let the paper crumble. “You come up to my shoulder, and I don’t think you weigh a hundred and twenty pounds. You don’t scare me.”

“Yeah, well, what if we have Tyson Braddock do it? The guy who wants your job.” She laughed. “This is sort of a backhanded way of giving it to him.”

Her mention of his rival made him laugh. “You know what? We asked him. Even he doesn’t want to do it.”

She groaned. “Come on! It’s one stupid video. Once a week. All you have to do is read a list.”

“And look like a piece of cardboard with permanently bugged eyes. Some of us were not made for the camera.” But she was. Her hair was glorious. Her eyes were tantalizing. Her smile made him want to sigh. She was perfect. “I still think you should do it. Come on. Please? I’d try to bribe you, but I know you don’t need money.”

“No. I don’t.” Her anger faded, and she stepped back. “But even if I did, I’m staying out of the limelight for a few weeks.”

Remorse filled him. Of all the stupid things to say, nagging her to do the video was the stupidest. Yesterday, it had been only a matter of hours before people added her father’s arrest with her sudden reappearance in his secluded small town and realized she was hiding out. Her dad was a criminal. She’d been gossiped about her entire life. She’d lost her mom the way his daughter Samantha had lost hers. She was the poster child for the saying money does not buy happiness.

And suddenly, all his good arguments about not doing the video sounded like mean-spirited tantrums in his head.

With a heavy sigh, he folded the paper. “All right. I’ll do this week’s video, but then I want you guys to come up with another plan.” He paused, cutting her a look. “I mean it.”

She shrugged. “I’m not management. I’m just the hired help. If you want to change the plan, you have to talk to Lauren.”

He wondered if he hadn’t been hornswoggled. Or if his own dumb soft heart had read things into the situation that weren’t there. He’d seen her on the beach reading, seen her in Scallywags enjoying her friends. If she was staying out of the limelight, it wasn’t because she was hurt. It was because she didn’t want to damage the pristine reputation she had in Philly.

Still, he was kind of stuck. He pointed at the door. “Let’s go.”

He didn’t know why she was helping Lauren, but after the way Evie had conned him, he suspected it involved something for Evie. He’d learned that from his television star mom. Ten years in one of TV’s most popular sitcoms had netted her a bundle, but she’d spent it all trying to develop another show for herself. When that didn’t work, she’d borrowed money, trying to create shows for him and his younger sister. She’d dragged them to development meetings, sent them to dance classes and singing lessons—not to mention class after class of acting techniques—made them run lines in front of producers and directors, and in general stolen their childhoods…while wasting a fortune. Not because she wanted them to be happy, but because she wanted the fame back. Jenny James did nothing that didn’t benefit her.

Evie Barclay might not want the limelight, but she wanted something.

He opened the JavaStop door and let Evie out first. “I’ll go home and change, then meet you on the boardwalk.”

Evie nodded and started down the street, but he stopped her. “And, Evie? We run through this once and only once. So get it on the first take.”

He turned and headed in the other direction. It was a small demand, but it somehow made him feel the tiniest bit better. How could her attractiveness have made him forget for even one second that some people only looked out for themselves?

He hurried down the street, across two blocks and down another to his house, a blue-shingled Victorian with a wide porch that fronted the entire structure and wrapped around the left side. White columns ran from roof to floor, matching the spindle railing that gave it a cozy, homey feel. He strode up to the double front doors, black with etched glass cut in sections, held together in black iron frames that gave them an art-deco feel.

Opening the door, he called, “Samantha?”

He’d left the Victorian style behind when he remodeled the inside. Touches like the fireplace, crown molding, and original hardwood floors—which he refinished a stunning gray—remained. But the open-floorplan displayed a bright white kitchen, dining area with white tufted chairs around a reclaimed wood table, and a living room with a flat-screen TV that served as a mirror when it wasn’t displaying shows.

His twelve-year-old daughter came flying down the stairs. Her dark hair wasn’t caught up in the usual ponytail. Instead, it hung past her shoulders, poker straight and shining, as if it had just been washed. Her wide brown eyes, so much like her mother’s, sat in a face made up of high cheekbones and a straight nose, with peaches-and-cream skin.

As she’d grown taller, she’d also begun losing baby fat. Today, she wore scruffy jeans with a dressy blue blouse with bell sleeves. He’d thought a T-shirt would look better with the jeans, or dress pants with the pretty blouse, but when he’d mentioned it, Samantha had laughed.

“What do you want?”

“I’m changing clothes, and then I need you to come with me to make the video for the town website.”

Her eyes widened. “You want me to be in the video?”

He sighed. If only she could…

“No. I want you to come along. I don’t want you to be alone. You can’t spend all day, every day in the house. It’s not right.” It wasn’t really a lie. Since summer vacation started, he’d been worried about her. In the evenings, she’d been quiet and moody, staying in her room when she normally came downstairs to watch TV with him. He couldn’t take her to the office. Too boring. But she could accompany him to the boardwalk and hang out while Evie and her crew set up.

And if Samantha also kept him too busy to interact with Evie, that was just a bonus.

***

It didn’t take a lot to set up for a video to be put on a website. A sixth grader with a phone could have done it. In fact, the technician hired by Lauren’s firm had told Evie it would probably be easier to use a phone.

Pax didn’t show up for twenty minutes. Evie had only needed five to get back to the boardwalk, so she and Dave had been waiting for fifteen boring minutes. She swiped the hair from her face, but the breeze off the gulf blew it back again.

“How can it take twenty minutes for a guy to remove one shirt and one pair of pants and replace them?”

Dave Calhoun laughed. “Maybe he’s having trouble figuring out what to wear?”

Even as he said that, Evie saw the mayor of Paradise Key coming around the side of the resort. He wore board shorts and a big T-shirt, exactly what they wanted for the video.

A few quick strides took him past the scaffolding and construction workers and onto the boardwalk—

With his daughter.

Everything inside Evie stewed. She had the oddest sense he was going to say he couldn’t tape today because he had to babysit.

It was ridiculous. But he was being ridiculous.

In this day and age of casual videos, who argued about rattling off a list on camera?

She and Dave headed over to meet them. “Mr. Mayor.” She smiled at Samantha. “I see you brought your daughter.”

“I thought she might enjoy watching us make the video.”

Okay. Evie could accept that. She could even counteract it. “That’s great. Samantha, do you want to stand behind Dave with me?”

Her already big eyes widened. “You mean like a director?”

“Sure! Why not?”

Dave hit a few buttons on his unnecessarily advanced camera. “Ready?”

Paxton said, “Ready,” and ambled farther down the boardwalk, so the video wouldn’t pick up the renovations on the resort, but would get the ocean and incredibly blue sky as the backdrop. A few beachgoers were already setting up. The wind had enticed out a couple with a kite. The air smelled like heaven as the surf rolled toward the shore.

It was perfect.

Dave raised his hand, counting down from five with his fingers. “Five, four, three, two, one…” He pointed at Paxton.

“Hey! It’s a glorious eighty-one degrees here in Paradise Key, Florida.” Pax held out his hands as if embracing the warmth. Then he started moving toward the camera, just as they’d done in the videos they’d already made.

“This week, there’s a chili cookoff sponsored by the ladies’ auxiliary to benefit the fire company.” He motioned down the boardwalk. “Stroll up and down all day and sample the offerings. At the end of the day, pick your favorite and make somebody’s day.”

Evie sighed. “Cut!”

Pax stopped dead. Dave turned to look at her.

She shook her head. “It’s a little thing, but saying at the end of the day, make somebody’s day… It’s repetitive. Especially after you’d already said stroll up and down all day.”

Pax crossed his arms on his chest. “We said one take.”

She laughed, but when he just stared at her, she said, “I thought you were kidding.”

“I wasn’t.”

“No one does these things in one take.”

Samantha solemnly said, “It’s true, Dad. Some of my friends tweak their YouTube videos for hours.”

“There! See,” Evie said, suddenly glad he’d brought his daughter. “Even people who post pictures of their dogs do more than one take.”

“My friends don’t post dogs.” Samantha glanced at her dad, and then back to Evie. “They post makeup tips.”

“Oh. I did show on that in Philly.”

Samantha’s eyes brightened. “You did?”

“Yes. Those videos are very popular. One of the best ways to keep up with makeup trends.”

“Hello,” Pax called, waving his hands. “Mayor needs to get back to work.”

“Oh, right!” Evie turned to Samantha. “When your dad leaves, you and I can get a coffee, then I’ll tell you the top three videos I found.”

“Great.”

Dave threw her a patient look.

“Oh! Sorry again.” She motioned to Dave. “Start when you’re ready.”

Pax backed up. Dave hit a few buttons on the camera. “Five, four, three, two, one…” He pointed at Paxton.

“Hey! It’s a glorious eighty-one degrees here today in Paradise Key, Florida.” Pax held out his hands as if embracing the warmth, then started moving toward the camera.

“This week, there’s a chili cookoff sponsored by the ladies’ auxiliary to benefit the fire company.” He motioned down the boardwalk. “Stroll along all day and sample the offerings. When you’re done, pick your favorite. See how your taste stacks up against everyone else’s.”

“Cut!”

Everybody glanced at Samantha. “Dad, the wind’s making a mess of your hair.”

“My hair is supposed to look windblown,” Pax said in exasperation. “I’m at the beach. We’re trying to give people the full experience.”

She pulled a comb from her pocket. “You look like Einstein. Last week, my friends did memes.”

“Memes? What the hell’s a meme?”

Dave leaned toward Pax. “It’s where people create cartoons to make fun of something.”

He gaped at his daughter. “People made fun of me?”

“Only your hair.” She handed him the comb.

He took it, ran it through his hair, and handed it back. “Can we do this all ready?”

“Sure,” Evie said, stifling a laugh.

“I see that smirk.”

“I was just thinking that somebody in the public eye as much as you are should be accustomed to criticism.”

“Of my policies? Yes. Of my hair?” He shook his head. “That’s just stupid.”

Dave mumbled. “That’s the digital age.”

Evie took a breath to stop a laugh that spilled out and composed herself the way she did before the cameras were turned on her every day at noon. “Count it down, Dave.”

He did the countdown, and they started from the top. It took three more tries before they finally got it right.
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Published on April 30, 2018 17:09

April 18, 2018

Live Your Life

In January, my son Michael died. The day we took him to the hospital, I wrote this Facebook post. It received such a response from my FB friends that I decided to share it with you...


Last night, Mikie had a long seizure that required he go to the hospital. When we got him stabilized, which in this case was also sedated, I was sitting by his bed, watching him sleep and I thought back to the time many years ago when he had an awful seizure that required he be so sedated that he had to be put on life support. (This was a while back, so I may have some medical terms wrong…bear with me. :) I think the story is worth it.)

The next day, when he awoke, he told me that he’d died and talked to God. I said, “Really.” He said, “Yes. I sat on Jesus’s lap and he said, Sorry, Buddy, but somebody’s got to have this disease. Allen (his brother) has important things he has to do. So he can’t have it. Sarah (his sister) is flighty. She can’t handle it. So it’s up to you. Because this is really important.” Mikie asked him why it was important that someone have epilepsy, and Jesus said he wasn’t allowed to tell. But it was important and being sick was going to be hard, but he could handle it.

And…

Mikie sat up and looked me right in the eye and said, “And Jesus said tell your mom she has to help you.”

The interesting thing about that story wasn’t that Mikie might have visited heaven – though that’s pretty interesting – the thing is, after that chat, Mikie was empowered. His suffering had purpose. Every time he couldn’t do something like play high school football or drive, his mind would take him back to the chat with God, wherein he was told his disease, his suffering had meaning and it wasn’t just a matter of him “handling” whatever problem came up. He handled it with pride. Because he had a mission. A purpose.

We all probably have a purpose. But most of us see our mundane existence as reason to doubt it, and we see our troubles as reason to think God doesn’t love us. Mikie sees his troubles as proof God DOES love him. In fact, God loves and trusts him enough that he gave him a mission. A hard one.

As I sat there watching his chest rise and fall with the help of a ventilator, I also remembered the time when he was six or so (before the visit with Jesus) when he had had some sort of problem at school. I can’t remember what the problem was. Six was over thirty years ago. LOL But I do remember stooping down in front of him saying, “Look. You’re not different. You’re not special. You are Mikie and this is Mikie’s life. The only life you get. Enjoy the good. Accept or handle the bad. And be Mikie.”

When driving to the doctor’s office or making one of our many shifts in meds that weren’t always fun, I’d remind him, “This is part of being Mikie.” I’d also remind him of that when he got out of school early for an appointment, so he’d see being Mikie had its upside.

Anyway, I never really thought too much about it. To me, I was teaching Mikie to recognize that his roll of the life dice might not have been perfect, but there was good in there too. And if he looked for the good, he wouldn’t just recognize it, he could exploit it. Enjoy it. LOL

In this day and age of parents telling their kids they are special snowflakes and they can be, have or do anything they want, while our country’s depression rates go up and up and up, I sometimes wonder what would happen if more parents told their kids…You’re not different. You’re not special…You’re Alice or Pete or Julie or Carson. And this is your life. Enjoy the good stuff. Handle or accept the bad. But live your life. YOUR life. As it is. Warts and all.

As I write this, Mikie is still heavily sedated. Right now, we don’t know how this will turn out. If he’ll have brain damage. If they’ll discover he also had a stroke. Or if he’ll wake up and remind me that Jesus told him I had to help him…LOL

But we do know we’ll make the best of it. We might not always be happy, but happiness isn’t supposed to be a permanent state. It’s a high point.

We’ll enjoy the good. Accept or handle the bad. And live our lives.
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Published on April 18, 2018 04:07

Embrace Life

In this busy world we live in, it's all too easy to overlook the beauty that surrounds us. Susan Meier talks about the important lessons she learned from her son about taking the time to simply breathe and embrace life.

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Most of you know my son, Michael, had epilepsy. Epilepsy is one of those hidden diseases. People could look at him and think he was perfectly fine. He wasn’t. Because he could have a seizure at any time, he couldn’t drive. He couldn’t hold a job. He couldn’t live on his own. Technically, he got none of the things most of us live for. Yet, he was one of the happiest people I know.



He looked at life very differently than I did, and in the last ten years he taught me – through example – to be just like him. To look at clouds just for the sake of finding something pretty or extraordinary. He taught me to realize how lucky I am because I do have all the things he couldn’t have. He taught me not to put so much importance on “things” or to care about what other people thought of me, but to be myself…and here’s the biggie…to be happy with myself. Just as I am.



And that’s why I want to ask you to look at your life. Not your career. Not your roles as mom, wife, daughter, grandmother, friend, employee…But your life.




Now close your eyes, breathe in and breathe out, slowly, several times, and realize that though it sometimes seems you are the sum and total of your roles and goals, there’s a whole world beyond that. The sky changes every day. Trees that are dark and barren in the winter fill with life when spring returns. Kids laugh. Good books entertain, but great books change you. If you don’t notice the rhythm of all that, the ebb and flow of life and nature, art and people, you’re missing something wonderful.



In fact, if you’re on the treadmill of life, rushing to work, rushing through your tasks, rushing your kids through dinner and homework, rushing to get to bed…so you can wake up and start all over…never thinking about who you are, what life means, what your place is, then you’re missing it all.



A few friends have told me they are practicing being present…and that’s cool. But I think I’d rather practice being a person. A real person.And so should you. Take a breath. Look around. Really see. Really hear. Really taste and smell and touch. Don’t just go through the motions.




And hug your kids. We lost Mikie in January. If I could change one thing about losing him, it would be that I would have known the last time we played Yahtzee really was the last time we played Yahtzee. I wish I’d told him I loved him one more time. I wish I could have heard him say he loved me.



But I have no regrets because – thanks to him – I do breathe in and breathe out. I do look at the sky, searching for rainbows or just pretty clouds. I know what’s real. I know what’s right. I own who I am. What I do. Why I do it. I know I’ve always done the best I can with what I have. He taught me that.



And knowing that is freedom…that’s true balance.



Susan's most recent book is The Spanish Millionaire's Runaway Bride. For more information, you can visit her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.



Do you take the time to breathe and embrace life? Is there someone in your life who left a lasting impression on how you view things? Is achieving balance in your life something you're still working on? Let us know in the comments
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Published on April 18, 2018 03:52

January 1, 2018

Cinnamon Rolls and a Hug

Start the new year positively...

Happy New Year's Eve!

Every time a new baby would be born into our family, my mother would hold him or her and say, “New life. Babies are a reminder that life goes on.”

Now before you think that sentiment is common, ordinary or even mundane, you should know that I watched my mom lose her sister – her best friend – when they were in their forties. Aunt Lib had a bad heart back in the days before there were meds and surgeries and things that could have saved her. My mom’s mom died from a goiter. Something now so easily treated left my seven-year-old mother and her siblings without their mom. Before my mother graduated high school, her father had also died.

My father, her husband, died right before he would have turned seventy. Before my mom died, she had lost all but one of her siblings and all her siblings-in-law.

So, when my mom said, “Babies are a sign that life goes on…” the sentiment carried weight. Sometimes when we suffer an incredible loss (or many as in my mom’s case) the only thing we can do is remember that life goes on.

That might sound so pragmatic that it borders on cruel (in this series of “let’s end the old year/start the new year on a happy note” posts) but think about it. My mom could have gotten lost in darkness, instead she looked for the light, and with eleven kids getting married and having babies, she saw plenty of light. She made it her mission to become the best grandma possible. And she was.

It wasn’t just a matter of making lemonade out of lemons…it was about finding purpose. This goes beyond the Sophie Cat purpose of being who you were meant to be…it’s about letting go of yourself and doing good for others.

I know people tell you that all the time. When you’re down, find someone to help. But do we do it? And if we do it, do we understand that we’re supposed to do it unselfishly? Not to gain something but only to give – without expectation.

And that’s the message of today’s post: give something, but do it right. When you’re down and out, don’t look at what you’ve lost, look at the people around you and use your pain to understand theirs. Or use what you have to fill their needs.

My mom didn’t have a lot. She didn’t need a lot. She could cook and she could hug.

In this day and age, who among us couldn’t use a good cinnamon roll and a hug?

In 2018, instead of being mired in the bad, bogged down in awfulness, let’s look around our own little corner of the world and find our version of cinnamon rolls and hugs.

Because the other thing my mom taught me is that one person CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole of it, but there’s nothing wrong with brightening up our own little corner. :)
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Published on January 01, 2018 06:11

December 31, 2017

Uplifting posts to end the year…

The first week in November, we were told our beloved cat, Sophia Maria Lolita Conchita Chiquita Banana has a tumor in her tummy. She’s 18, the equivalent, the vet told us, of 90 in human years and he and the other vet in the practice advised against surgery. They told us as long as she was happy and functioning, she could live a few more months. A few months for us to love her and her to love us.

Now, before you think, “Sheesh, Susan, these are supposed to be uplifting posts. Now, you’re telling us about your cat dying?” stick with me. LOL

We got Sophia after my niece found her abandoned in the woods. She was, maybe, a week old. I had just lost an older cat and though I didn’t want to replace him – I was still grieving - no cat mom in the world could have resisted this scraggly, dirty, flea-ridden baby who needed a mom. And she appreciated that. I think she knew we saved her and to thank us she kept every squirrel, mole, chipmunk and critter out of our backyard and the backyards of the entire neighborhood.

I always called her my little warrior and she would purr. Of course, that didn’t mean I liked the gifts of live chipmunks she chased into the kitchen. But I got the drift. She was doing what she knew how to do. That was her gift to me. Her place in life.

She’s happy now. Because the tumor precludes her system from absorbing all the nutrients from her food, we were told to feed her anytime she wants to eat. So, every two hours she gives us a nudge, we open a can and she gobbles. She purrs like it’s her job. Watches us play Yahtzee. Sits on my lap and stares into my eyes as if God hit perfection when he created me. And though we all know THAT’S not true, it doesn’t hurt to get a little admiration every once in a while. Even if it is from a cat. LOL

Over the years, Sophia has taught me a lot of lessons about life. First, BE who you are. We would have preferred a nice, quiet
housecat. Sophie was a warrior. We came to not just appreciate that, but to brag about it. LOL

Second, LOVE who you are. Every time Sophie brought a chipmunk or dead mole onto the porch, she was proud. (At first, I
screamed, but eventually, when our neighborhood had no rodents we learned to praise her.)

Third, even when times are tough, PURR. If you’re being who you are and loving who you are…you deserve to purr.

And, btw, living the way she did, as a warrior princess when we wanted her to be a house cat, Sophie also has no regrets.

Another little something to ponder before we enter a new year.
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Published on December 31, 2017 11:40