Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt #prizes #romance

Happy Winter Wonderland and Happy Win-Some-Great-Prizes Time of Year!

Hop to all the fun sites by following the scavenger hunt link, find the answers at each one for lots of chances for the grand prize, and comment HERE for a chance at MY prize: a $15 Amazon or B&N gift card! 
Here's a quick  snippet about my debut romantic suspense, BENEATH THE SURFACE:

She’s fighting to stay independent—he’s determined to protect her no matter what…

Brooke Richards survived the earthquake that took her parents and most of her leg, but she needs time to regroup. A trip to Florida for a state-of-the-art prosthesis and to visit her best friend Linda seems ideal. But the trip turns traumatic when Brooke witnesses Linda’s boat disintegrating in a fiery explosion.
Police officer Garrett Ciavello believes the blast was intentionally set to hide something Linda found on a dive. When Brooke offers her expertise in underwater archeology, Garrett accepts her help with the investigation. But since his fiancée’s death years ago, Garrett has become overprotective, and as they are drawn to each other, Garrett realizes he will risk anything to keep Brooke safe.

Brooke is fiercely independent. Garrett is fiercely protective. Will they heal each other’s wound and find a killer…before it’s too late?
Beneath the Surface is available for purchase now:

Link to: Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt

Friday, November 23, 2012

Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD
Alicia Dean tagged me in the fun activity The Next Big Thing. It’s a blog circle where authors tag each other, giving fellow authors an opportunity to share their current Works in Progress (WIP).
Here are the questions I was asked to answer….

What is your working title of your book?
Ghostly Voices

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My daughter. LOL. This is the third book in my Hauntings at Inner Harbor series, and I knew books one and two right away. My daughter helped me flush the main idea for this book.

What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary paranormal romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ian Somerhalder and Rumer Willis

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A psychic-medium whose painful experiences with ghosts have left her empty and disheartened must choose between keeping a promise to herself and helping a handsome doctor rid himself of a dangerous ghost.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This book will be published as part of a series at a publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Still working on it. Hope to be finished within four weeks.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It’s a little bit like Grey’s Anatomy-meets-Ghost-meets-The Wire.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I have always loved the city of Baltimore and knew its history would lend itself to some fun ghost stories.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The heroine is a psychic-medium, but circumstances have made her hate her so-called gift. I think she is going to have some fun conversations with Edgar Allan Poe who lived in Baltimore for a few years, and died there, too. Hereafter, book one of this series, releases in early December!

Tag, you’re it…

Sharon Buchbinder

Fun with Thanksgiving Leftovers! #recipes #thanksgivingleftovers

Happy Day After Thanksgiving! Got leftovers? They’re the best, aren’t they?

Leftover Turkey
Of course turkey sandwiches are a great way to use up some of the leftover meat, but by the third or fourth one (or maybe the fifth!), they lose a little of their appeal.

Here's my favorite recipe using Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. Since I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it's VERY easy!!Hope you enjoy!
Turkey Pot Pie (makes two family-sized pies)
4 ready-made refridgerated pie crust* .
3 cups turkey meat, diced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 12-16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
2 cups cheddar, Swiss, or motzerella cheese (your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Unroll pie crusts into two pie pans. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour into pie pans. Cover with a top crust and bake for 30 minutes.

*Other options for pie crust:
use only 2 crusts and use leftover mashed potatoes for topping instead of crust. Follow above baking directions.
use only 2 crusts and (unbaked) cresent rolls for the topping. Follow above baking directions.

Joya's Books

Available now for purchase at:
 Amazon   Barnes and Noble  The Wild Rose Press

Connect with Joya:
Twitter: @joyafields

Friday, November 9, 2012

Welcome Vonnie Davis #romance #NewRelease

Welcome my friend and fellow Wild Rose Press author, Vonnie Davis! Please tell us a little about yourself, Vonnie.

Joya, I’m thrilled to be here to visit and talk with you and your friends. I’m not thrilled that some of you are still recovering from Sandy. I watch the news and fight tears for those who have lost so much. It saddens me greatly.

I live in Lynchburg, VA with a man I met online. Can you dig it? Two old fogies looking for their HEA in the dot com world. Calvin is a retired English teacher who is also a writer. He’s my biggest cheerleader, without the short skirt and pompoms, of course.

Although I’ve been dreaming of being a writer since the sixth grade, it wasn’t until I took an early retirement as a technical writer that I put butt in seat and fingers on keyboard. I’ve been at it for nearly four years with four projects—books and novellas—released and four more under contract in various stages of the publishing pipeline. I’m a “romanceaholic” who writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and romantic suspense.

LOL! Glad to hear Calvin doesn’t feel the need for a short skirt and pompoms in order to cheer you on. Thanks for your concerns about the hurricane. We didn’t get hit too bad here in Maryland, but I agree that thoughts and prayers are with those in New York and New Jersey.

What would be a *perfect day* for you, Vonnie?

Twice a week, Calvin and I take a writing day. We go to Bob Evans for breakfast. The waitresses know us and escort us to a booth where they hook me up to an IV of coffee. After a few hours there, we move on to Starbucks and later to a restaurant for supper. When we get home, I’m so wired from the caffeine that I’m on a buzz into the wee hours of the morning.

That sounds like fun! You have two stories coming out within ten days of each other—TUMBLEWEED LETTERS and MONA LISA’S ROOM. Congrats and holy cow! Can you tell us about the setting of these two stories?

TUMBLEWEED LETTERS is set in 1879 in Deadwood, Dakota Territory and is part of the Love Letters series at The Wild Rose Press. These are short historical reads (25,000 words max) where a letter must arrive within the first 3 pages heralding change for the characters.

MONA LISA’S ROOM is book one of a contemporary romantic suspense trilogy and is set in Paris with a side-trip to a seaside community along the Normandy Coast. Each book in the series has its own romantic couple, yet the same band of terrorists—The Red Hand—wreaks havoc through all three.

Both stories sound wonderful. Like traveling without leaving your sofa! What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?

A few years ago, my thyroid went haywire, and I had to have it destroyed by radiation. As the levels of thyroid hormone slowly decreased, my body went through many changes: loss of hair, weight gain, muscle cramps in my feet, facial splotches and extreme coldness. Oh, and mood swings. Let’s not forget the awful mood swings. I was having a particularly bad day and Calvin put me to bed between layers of electric blankets and left the house. He returned with a dozen red roses in one hand and a bag of crème-filled donuts in the other. Here I was—in a double layer of sweats, thinning hair standing on end, ugly splotches on my face and puffy eyes from the “pity me crying jag”—and my sweetheart of a man extended this romantic overture. Ladies, that’s a hero.

I agree! Sounds like you found yourself a hero!

How about sharing a blurb and excerpt from each of these stories so our readers can get a “taste” of them.


When rancher and single father Cam McBride finds a letter tucked in a strip of cloth tied to a tumbleweed, he is captivated by the mysterious author. Finding a second tumbleweed letter further pulls him under the lonely writer's spell. He needs a mother for his little boy and a wife to warm his bed. Could this mysterious woman fill his needs?
Sophie Flannigan is alone, scared, and on the run from a rogue Pinkerton agent. She spends her days as a scrub lady at Madame Dora's brothel and her nights writing notes to the four winds. Her life holds little hope until a small boy lays claim to her and his handsome father proposes an advantageous arrangement.
Can these three benefit from a marriage of convenience, or will a determined Pinkerton agent destroy their fragile, newly formed bond?


Cam McBride fought to keep his horse under control. “Steady, now. Steady, Samson.” He reined the chestnut to the left away from the rolling tumbleweed. “Just another wind witch.” Leaning forward, he patted his mount’s neck. Leather creaked, and Samson snorted. “I know those tumbleweeds spook you.”

Eli turned slightly in front of him, and Cam’s palm automatically went to the child’s waist for support. “Drink, Daddy.” His son pointed to the roaring creek beyond the golden, swaying Aspens.

“Okay. Drink.” He dismounted and lifted his two-year old from his perch behind the saddlehorn.  “Stay, now. Don’t go running off.”

“Stay,” Eli repeated with a nod, his wheat-colored hair fluttering in the breeze.

Cam led his horse to the creek. He removed his canteen and pulled a metal cup from his saddlebags.

“No, Daddy, drink.” Eli pointed to the creek and did his I-want-what-I-want jig, kicking up a little dust in the process. “Cold drink.” He crossed his little arms and stuck out his lower lip.

They’d been riding the range since sun-up, slowly herding his small drove of cattle to lower ground in preparation for winter. No doubt the cranky boy needed a nap. “Okay, you get your way. I’m too tired to argue.” He stepped into the high grass along the bank, squatted and leaned forward, extending the tin cup to catch fresh water gurgling over a mound of rocks in the stream. Cam leaned back on his hunkers. “Here’s your drink.”

Eli trotted over and grabbed the offered cup. “Dank-you,” he chirped in a sing-song voice.

“You’re welcome, Son.” He ruffled the boy’s curls and listened to the child’s gulping and breathing echo within the metal cup. His Amanda would be pleased he was teaching her son manners. She’d always set great store by them, growing up in the South the way she had. No doubt his beloved was smiling from heaven at his awkward attempts to raise their boy alone.

The offending tumbleweed that spooked Samson moments earlier snagged his attention. A sliver of color dangled within it. He took his son’s hand and walked him away from the stream toward the tumbleweed caught between a couple scrub pines.

He stooped to untangle a piece of blue calico. Maybe Eli would enjoy playing with it. As he untied the knotted material, paper crackled. What’s this?

Cam unfolded the remnant of calico. A piece of newspaper was tucked inside. Wasn’t that odd? As he turned the torn paper over, slanted writing along the margins caught his eye. Before he began reading, he gave Eli the scrap of calico.

“To the four winds, I hate it here. I miss Pennsylvania. I miss my home with my things about me. I miss my students and my husband, hooligan that he was. My friends told me nothing good would come from marrying him, but love only sees what it wants. Now I am alone, on the run and without funds. I barely earn my keep. I have no hope of happiness and no one to talk to, except you—the four winds.”

 “Mine.” Eli held out the blue strip of fabric so it fluttered in the breeze.

“That’s right, son.” Cam turned the scrap of newspaper over in hopes of reading more. Nothing, but an ad for winter coats at Munter and Lillanthal’s in Deadwood. The paper’s name, Black Hills Pioneer, was printed in the corner. No more handwriting and no signature. So a lonely, unhappy woman wrote a note to nobody and secreted it within the folds of fabric and tied it to a tumbleweed? He ran a hand across the back of his neck. If that wasn’t the strangest thing.

The Wild Rose Press

You won't believe this email. I'm sitting in a French safe house, eating caviar and drinking champagne with a handsome government agent, Niko Reynard. He's wearing nothing but silk pajama bottoms and mega doses of sex appeal. I'm in big trouble, little sister. He's kissed me several times and given me a foot massage that nearly caused spontaneous combustion. I'm feeling strangely virginal compared to the sexual prowess this thirty-year-old man exudes.

When I came to Paris for a bit of adventure, I never imagined I'd foil a bombing attempt, karate-kick two men, and run from terrorists while wearing a new pair of stilettos. I've met a German musician, a gay poet from Australia, and the most delightful older French woman.

Don't worry. I'm safe—the jury's still out on yummy Niko, though. The more champagne I drink, the less reserved I feel. What an unforgettable fortieth birthday!



Niko perched on the stool at Alyson’s feet, opened the first box and deftly flicked back the tissue paper on a pair of black kidskin pumps with skinny gold looking heels. “It’s rumored Da Vinci invented the high heel.” He removed her flip-flops and placed her bare foot on his thigh. Warmth from his muscled leg flowed up hers, causing her foot to give an involuntary wiggle.

His gaze lifted to hers and locked. Slowly he slid his hand from her heel up her leg to cup her calf. Thank God she shaved her legs that morning. “Stop.” The rawness of her voice surprised her. His touch made her very aware of her body, and her body was very aware of him. She couldn’t count the years since she was touched in such a manner—if ever.

Still, it was nice to know she could respond to a man’s touch. Thanks to her ex-husband’s avoidance, she thought herself sexually dead, certainly sexually unappealing.

“High heels do wonders for a woman’s figure, Aly. They make the legs look long and shapely, lift the bottom and make the hips sway.” His hands moved in a descriptive manner while he talked. “They make a woman look sexy and confident. Men’s eyes naturally pivot to a woman in stilettos.” Niko shrugged. “We can’t help it. We are men, after all. Weakened by women.”

Alyson stared at him. Men made weak by women? She’d never heard such talk, especially from a male, a very virile male if looks meant anything. He was gorgeous, arrogant as all get out, but gorgeous just the same.

Niko slipped the shoes onto her feet, stood and extended his hand. “Stand. See how you like the feel.” His gaze focused on hers again and for a second or two, when she looked into his eyes, her world stopped.

She vetoed the four-inch stilettos Niko favored in five painful, toe-pinching steps. Good Lord, a girl could get nosebleeds in those things.

Ten minutes later, Alyson wobbled in front of the cashier ready to pay for the black kidskin three-inch Pradas she wore. As soon as she saw the bow at the back of the heel, she fell in love with the shoes. Gwen called her a “bow freak.” When Niko reached for his wallet, she elbowed him. “Look, as long as they take Visa, I’ll pay for my own shoes.”

“Please, allow me.”

“Absolutely not. I planned on having an expensive birthday meal at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant tomorrow. With all that’s happened today, that plan is ruined, too. So I’m rationalizing since I won’t be paying for my birthday meal, I can pay this ungodly amount for the shoes.”

Niko placed his hand over hers. “I don’t mind. Let me treat you since I goaded you into buying them.”

“Really, that’s not necessary. Even my husband…er…ex-husband never bought me things. I’ve always paid my own way.”

He leaned an elbow on the glass counter and looked at her. “You’re kidding me. He never bought you little surprises? Little treats? A woman like you should be spoiled, treasured—” his voice lowered as he slowly trailed a finger up her arm  “—loved often and well.” Merciful heavens, he was trying to seduce her in a shoe store. Gwen would squeal in delight when she told her about this.

“Down, buster. American women are different than French women. We’re not so easily seduced by glib words or smooth moves.”

His eyebrow arched and his demeanor turned insolent. “You think I’m trying to seduce you?”
Typical male. He touched her almost nonstop since they stepped into Minelli’s. Now that she called him on it, he wanted to deny everything. “I think you’re toying with me, seeing if you can make an old, lonely American woman quiver at your feet.”
“First of all, you’re not old. Second, if you’re lonely, that’s your fault. Third, if I wanted to make you quiver—” he leaned in, his lips against her ear  “—I damn well could.”



Friday, November 2, 2012

Welcome Author Jean Viola Ryan

Please welcome Jean Viola Ryan to the blog. Her novel The Mark of Abel will release this December.
Thanks for having me Joya. This week has been crazy. Monday and Tuesday both my daughters had off school because of Hurricane Sandy. Now Massachusetts is back to business as usual, just in time for National Novel Writing Month.
One of the biggest challenges facing a writer is balancing family and writing. In 2007, I got serious about my writing. That meant I wasn’t always available for my daughters, then 10 and 6. Fortunately I am blessed with a supportive hubby, but my daughters didn’t understand why they could see Mommy working on the dinning room table, but not bother me unless it was urgent (they had to learn the difference between important and urgent).
National Novel Writing Month changed all that. I was determined to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I needed all of my family on board. I needed my daughters to understand that I was at work when I was on my laptop, not just goofing off on the net. They learned to look over my shoulder and see if my writing program was open, before interrupting me. They still needed an incentive, something that translated what I was doing into something good for them.
Money. I bribe my kids to let me write. I give them X dollars for leaving me alone. Instead I give them a stake in my career. For every $5,000 I make, they get $100. Now instead of bothering me when I’m writing or reading (because they know reading is also part of Mommy’s job), they encourage me to. “Shouldn’t you be writing, Mom?” It makes things much easier, all for less than I’d pay an agent.

I didn’t write 50,000 words that November. I wrote nearly 60,000. That book became The Mark of Abel, my debut novel out December 21 from MuseItUp Publishing. Both my kids are in the book. They take pride in my accomplishments and brag to all their friends that they are in my book. It’s not my book. It’s ours.
You can learn more about Jean Viola Ryan and The Mark of Abel at You can find her at Facebook at .

 Lucifer is fed up with humanity. He created hell to deter evil, but man’s inhumanity is only escalating. He just wants to return home to heaven, but ever since that little problem in the Garden of Eden, the Pearly Gates remain firmly shut to him. It doesn’t help that he’s the first vampire, an abomination in God’s sight
Fortunately, two thousand years ago Lucifer’s estranged brother, Jesus, gave him a prophecy. To fulfill it, all Lucifer has to do is find the right artist, study her artwork and the path back to heaven will be revealed. The artist even bears a symbol so he knows who she is. Too bad she is murdered every time he finds her.

Janie’s a frustrated artist and college art teacher who wants two things—a guy she can show her paintings to and a night without nightmares. Each nightmare plagues her until she paints it. She doesn’t realize these paintings are key to unlocking her destiny, one that could redeem the original fallen angel.


Lucifer appeared outside of heaven. A high wall of the same gleaming material as the palace formed around heaven. Eve appeared behind an open gate. Its gleaming bars stretched up and down into infinity until up became down and down became up. It swung shut.

He raced for it, but was too late. The clang echoed in his soul, and he collapsed to his knees.
“You are no longer an angel. You don’t belong in heaven. You must find your way home.” Eve/God turned away.

“What am I?” Lucifer rose and sent a burst of energy at the gate. It remained shut.

“Am I human?” His soul bled at the question and darkness surrounded him. As a human he had nothing to offer Eve. He couldn’t protect her. He couldn’t create another Eden for her. She would beget Adam’s children in pain. Lucifer cringed. 

Eve/God appeared next to him and traced three triangles above his heart, each attached to the other two at the corners of its base to form a fourth triangle in the center. They burned, and he screamed until his voice was raw. He collapsed and gulped fire.

Standing above him, God laid her hand on his shoulders. Pain shot down his back. He reached around, and his hands passed through wings of fire. God ran her hand along his arms. His skin itched, and then burned, as it morphed into swirling red, orange and yellow. With sweat pouring down his face, he allowed God to help him up.

“Your re-creation occurred in fire. This is now your true form. To maintain your angelic powers, you must feed on the intense energy of fire.” A ball of fire appeared on God’s outstretched hand. She shoved this into his heart.

A sharp pain stole his breath, but Lucifer refused to collapse again. He grit his teeth, and his entire body shook.

“What am I?” He stared at his arms.

“To maintain free will, you must drink the blood of humanity every three generations.”

God vanished.
“What am I?” he shouted toward the center of heaven.

“A vampire.”

Jean Viola Ryan
The Mark of Abel coming this December from MuseItUp Publishing

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Welcome Sharon Buchbinder, Author of SOME OTHER CHILD

Please welcome my friend, critique partner, and awesome author, Sharon Buchbinder. Sharon is the author of quite a few novels and stories, and her newest release SOME OTHER CHILD, just released last month. Sharon’s here today to talk about an issue that’s near and dear to her heart and she’s sharing an excerpt from her new release, too. Take it away, Sharon...

Fallen Women or Problem Girls?
Once upon a time, not that long ago, when an unmarried woman became pregnant, it was so stigmatizing that she was sent away and shuttered up so they wouldn’t be seen. In the late 1800’s, evangelical reformers on a missionary bent began to set up homes for unwed mothers to rescue them from predatory males and to save them from their baser urges. The Salvation Army and Crittendon homes established “quasi-official relationships with the court system” (Kunzel, 1993, p. 15). When delinquent or “pre-delinquent” girls appeared in court, missionaries often sat in the back row, waiting for the young women to be referred to them. In general, evangelical women and reformers encouraged the unwed mothers to bond with their child and established vocational programs to enable the mothers to go to work and support themselves and their baby.

However, over time and with the rise of the profession of social work, according to historian, Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890-1945 by Regina G. Kunzel (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1993) the labels on unwed mother shifted from “fallen women” to “problem girls.” No longer were these young women treated as victims of predatory males, now they were locked up in homes for unwed mothers, treated like criminals, and in the early 1900’s babies were taken away from them because they were now deemed “unfit mothers.”

In many instances, mothers were told their baby died during childbirth and the infant was “buried in the hospital rose garden,” when, in fact, the child had been handed off to a wealthy, two-parent family that had a stillbirth or was unable to have children (Kunzel, 1993). Nowadays, we would call that practice “human trafficking,” but at the turn of the century midwives, nurses, doctors, and social workers participated in stealing women’s babies because they believed the child deserved a better home, one not with their biological mother. The names of Dr. Katherine M. Cole of Miami and The Ideal Maternity Home in Canada live on in infamy, their effects still echoing through the decades because of these practices.

In my new release, SOME OTHER CHILD, Aunt Ida is one such woman who was victimized by this practice. Told her baby died and was buried in the rose garden during World War II, Aunt Ida went on with her life, still feeling an ache in her arms where her child should have been. When Sarah Wright’s mother, Ethel, is injured and on life support, Aunt Ida is torn between telling Sarah the truth about her relationship with Ethel and letting her best friend take her secrets to the grave. Before she can all is revealed, however, Aunt Ida goes missing.

Blurb: In SOME OTHER CHILD, between taking care of her injured alcoholic mother and work, Sarah Wright, a pediatric nurse researcher, hasn’t a minute to herself, much less time for romance. But unbeknownst to Sarah, two little old ladies--her aunt and her ex-fiancé’s mother--are conspiring to reunite Sarah with Dan Rosen, a brilliant and demanding surgeon. When her aunt goes missing, Sarah is convinced it’s a kidnapping, but the police refuse to investigate. Dan flies to Sarah’s side to help her, and it looks like things might come together—until Sarah is arrested for her aunt’s murder. As the evidence stacks up against her, Sarah must find the real culprits and unravel decades old family secrets along the way.
Chicago, Illinois

Exhausted after a long day of teaching classes and endless rounds of revisions on her dissertation, Sarah Wright opened the front door to the house she shared with her fiancé and was almost knocked down by the dog. Gandalf’s scramble of paws and claws left a wake of mail scattered across the foyer and into the kitchen.

“Great.” She shrugged out of her blazer, tossed it onto a chair, and began to play fifty-two pick up. Her neck prickled. Sarah looked up from the mail. A giant gray slobbering monster stood with his front paws on the glass door, the fog of his breath mixing with mud smears. More work. She edged the door open and forced Gandalf to sit while she wiped his filthy feet.

“Gandalf, it’s time we had a„come-to-Sarah‟ talk about your behavior.”

The gray beast turned his back to her, raised his leg and peed on her jacket.

“Fabulous. What else can go wrong?”

Moments later, her fiancé strolled in the door, whistling a cheerful tune.

Sanitizer barely dried on her hands, Sarah spoke through gritted teeth. “Gandalf pissed on my coat. Get rid of that dog.”

Dan Rosen leaned over and gave Sarah a bear hug. She buried her face in his shirt and breathed in a mixture of aftershave and masculine scent.

“That’s his way of showing he likes you.” Dan kissed her brow. “You should be honored.”

“I’d hate to know what he’d do toshower me with love.” The canine in question slunk behind the sofa.“Give him back to your ex-girlfriend.”

Dan quirked a brow. “Jealous?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Methinks the lady doth protest—”

Sarah put her fingers over his mouth, stood on her tiptoes, and gazed into his chocolate brown eyes. She loved him from the top of his head at six-feet, two inches, dark hair flecked with white, all the way down to his size ten shoes. His dog, however, was a different matter.

“He gives me the evil eye. I swear he’s laughing at me.”

The ring of the phone interrupted her appeal.

“Sarah, please come,” her mother sobbed. “There’s been a terrible car accident.”

A chill slithered down Sarah's spine. Not again.

“What happened?” White knuckled, she clutched the phone and mouthed ‘my mother’ at Dan.

“Some idiot slammed into me. The police say it’s my fault.”

Sarah shook her head. Same story, different day. “How much did you drink?”

A long silence. Sarah sighed.“How bad?”

“My legs are broken. Ida's too old to help me. I can't ask your brother. He has a wife and a child to support. Your sister won't talk to me.” She paused. “You're a nurse without a job.”

“I'm in a doctoral program, not unemployed.”

“Don't make me beg.”

Her mother began to weep and Sarah's vow not to fall back into her old ways began to waver. Arrows of guilt pierced her resolve. Who else would come to the aid of this difficult elderly woman?

“I can't walk, drive, or do anything for myself.”

Sarah closed her eyes and sighed, already regretting her next words. “Okay, Mom. I'll come.”

She placed the phone on the receiver and turned to Dan.

Dan stared down at her with an expression of disbelief. “DUI, right?””

She nodded. “She needs me.”

He took her face in his hands.“Look at me.”

She locked her gaze with his.

“This woman sent you away to live with your deaf grandmother and didn't visit you for years.”

“A nasty divorce. An alcoholic husband. Three little kids. What was she supposed to do?”

“Hardly a loving mother. You have physical and emotional scars, Sarah.”

Tears welled up in her eyes.“That’s history. She's changed. I heard it in her voice. She asked for me, not Matt, not Debra, me.”

Dan closed his eyes, and the muscles worked in his jaw. Raised in a normal household, he’d never understand what it meant to be the adult child of an alcoholic. They came from different planets, not just different religions.

An idea occurred to her. “You grew up in Baltimore. Your mom still lives in the city. Visit your mom and me at the same time.”

His eyes flew wide open. “You can't stand Gert.”

Sarah shrugged. “I’ll get to know her better while I'm in Baltimore.”

“Don't do this, Sarah. Ethel's an alcoholic—a mean one. Stay here. I love you.”

She glanced at Gandalf. He stared back at her with doggy daggers.

Dan followed her gaze. “Well, okay, he is a pain in the ass.”

She kissed the tip of his nose.“Thanks for that admission, at least. I love you, too, but if I don’t go and something happens to her, I could never live with myself.”

“You can't keep running to rescue her.”

She shook her head. “I won’t abandon her.”

He threw his hands up. “Go. But mark my words: One of these days she's going to get drunk and kill herself.”

Twitter @sbuchbinder