I discovered this song on Pandora and fell in love with it.
I’ve been reading The Three Musketeers and this song keeps popping into my head whenever I pause. Enjoy!
Opposites attract — but sometimes it takes a while!
Meet Selena Goode. She’s an herbalist, she runs a small museum in Salem, and she’s a practicing solitary Wiccan. She likes her life, quiet as it is.
Selena has no problem with ghosts. She does, however, have a problem with Big-City Brian. It will take all his charm, plus the silent advice of a caring ghost, to make Selena realize that maybe, big-city isn’t so bad after all.
Both laugh-out-loud funny and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, Double Double Love & Trouble is a sexy, humorous romp from an author at the top of her game. Let it cast its spell over you.
Milk. Eggs. Fresh spinach. A half-full jar of applesauce. Random condiments. Leftover tomato soup.
Selena stood in front of the open refrigerator, tapping a fingernail lightly against her teeth as she thought. A spinach omelet? She wasn’t in the mood to rinse and chop the leaves as finely as she liked them done. Tomato soup? That sounded lovely, but any self-respecting bowl of tomato soup should really have a grilled cheese sandwich on the plate next to it, and she was out of cheese. She wasn’t sure that she had any bread left, either.
Selena sighed and let the refrigerator door swing shut. She wasn’t all that hungry, and nothing looked good enough to justify the effort of heating it up. It was just as well. She shouldn’t be eating this late in the evening anyway.
A cup of tea would go down nicely, though. She filled the kettle and put it on the stove. Then she reached for the special recipe book that she kept on a shelf with her other cookbooks. This book hadn’t been written by Emeril, Rachael, Martha, or any other celebrity chef. It was hers alone, a collection of healing recipes and spells she had come across over the years and copied down into her own personal notebook. Technically it was a grimoire, or a Book of Shadows, she supposed, but she preferred to think of it as her very own copy of Advanced Potion Making, in a nod to J.K. Rowling. The seven books of the Harry Potter series were some of her favorites, for obvious reasons.
She ran her fingers gently over the Celtic knot work design embossed on the green leather cover, then opened the book. She flipped through it, paging past handwritten recipes for healing ointments, purifying potions, herbal cough syrups, and endless lists of teas. She stopped at a recipe for Calming Peace Tea. “ ‘For when you are completely stressed out and need desperately to unwind, calm down, and relax.’ Yup, that’s me right there,” she said to the empty kitchen.
She rummaged in the cupboard where she kept her collection of herbs, measuring what she needed and dumping it all into the teapot with the strainer built into the spout. She had to go back and look at the recipe several times. She had all the ingredients she needed, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that her mind refused to focus on the tea preparations. Her attention kept wandering off to Brian, of all people. Her mind kept replaying the more mortifying things he’d said that afternoon, as if it couldn’t let the experience go. As if she needed constant reminders of what an annoying, self-centered jerk he was.
“’Would you prefer a broomstick?’ Honestly!” she fumed. She gave the lid of the lavender jar an especially violent twist, and it hopped out of her hand and clattered to the floor. She stooped to retrieve it, muttering unpleasant things under her breath.
The song of the kettle interrupted her thoughts, which had been chasing themselves in a circle anyway. She turned off the flame, silencing the shrill whistle. She took a deep breath and let it out in a cleansing whoosh, and shook her hands out loosely to dispel any negative energy. Then she picked up the kettle and poured the boiling water over the herbs in the teapot.
She set the kitchen timer for ten minutes, then pulled out the chair at the table and sat. She closed her eyes for a quick meditation, trying once more to calm her racing thoughts. “Remember the Rule of Three,” she murmured. All witches needed to remind themselves of that cardinal rule of Wiccan behavior every so often. “Whatever you do will come back to you threefold.” She really didn’t need irritating thoughts roiling through her mind as she was trying to concentrate on brewing a tea called Calming Peace. And she certainly didn’t need three times the aggravation she already had.
The timer dinged, and Selena hopped up to get a cup. She poured the brew into her favorite mug, the one with the cows on the side. She wrapped her hands around the mug’s warm sides, closed her eyes, and sniffed deeply, inhaling the tea’s gentle –
She frowned, opened her eyes, and peered at the tea. She had made Calming Peace Tea countless times before, and it had never turned out that color.
And what was that smell? She sniffed at the tea again. Oh, this could not be right. This wasn’t right at all.
The main ingredients in the calming tea were lavender and violet flowers, two herbs that were very relaxing. The tea was supposed to have a light floral scent.
This tea, on the other hand, smelled a whole lot like lemon. And mint. Together.
Selena grabbed the containers off of the counter and looked at the labels. Lemon balm. Lavender. Peppermint. Peppermint, for the love of toast! What was she doing putting peppermint in a calming brew? She stared at the jars in her hand, then took another look at the recipe book.
On the page opposite the recipe for Calming Peace tea was a love potion. And the first three ingredients? Lemon balm. Catnip. And peppermint.
Selena groaned in frustration. She must have combined the two recipes. A calming love potion? Hah. Like that could even exist. She’d been so caught up in thinking about Brian that she had managed to completely screw up a recipe she’d been making for years.
She didn’t even want to consider the possibility that her subconscious had prompted her to start brewing a love potion. She wasn’t the least bit interested in that arrogant prick, and that was final. And no half-baked love potion was going to change her mind. She wasn’t about to drink it anyway. Eurggh.
She sighed, and left the cup on the counter. In the morning, when the tea had cooled, she’d water plants with it. Even though it was completely, totally wrong, she had made it with intent. She couldn’t just pour it down the kitchen sink. But she knew better than to drink anything involving peppermint right before bedtime. No, she would have to use her other favorite relaxing, self-hypnosis, falling-asleep-quickly trick.
Hugh was the current favorite to star in her going-to-sleep fantasies. As soon as her head hit the pillow, he was there, ready to please her in whatever way her imagination could cook up. She and Hugh would usually indulge in a whole lot of luscious foreplay, which was really relaxing when performed in the privacy of one’s mind, rather than arousing as it was in real life. Selena was usually asleep by the time they got to any hot and heavy stuff. But that was the great thing about having a fantasy lover. Hugh didn’t care if she fell asleep in the middle of sex. In fact, she considered it his job to send her off to sleep in the nicest way possible.
Selena snuggled under the covers and arranged her pillow just the way she liked it. She sighed as her head sank into the soft embrace of the goose down. It had been a long, sorely trying day, but Hugh was about to make it alllll better.
“Sylvia Shults’s FRACTURED SPIRITS is a fascinating, touching, creepy, riveting read — a sort of Central Illinois Ghost Adventures — set in the defunct chambers of the Peoria State Hospital. Shults is a natural story-teller, and she gets at something deeper and more poignant here than mere phantoms…”
- Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling co-author of THE WALKING DEAD: THE ROAD TO WOODBURY
This is one of my fav songs from Josh Groban’s debut album.
Josh Groban ft The Corrs- Canto Alla Vita
Selena Note: I loved this book when it first came out. Belinda is re-releasing this book with Loose-Id, revised and extended. If you haven’t picked it up yet snap up your copy today!
There are three things that Dr. Briony Theale loves. Her job as a veterinarian, a good bar of rich, dark chocolate, and Rico, the ranger in charge of the Wildlife Rescue center. When a casual dinner with Rico turns surprisingly intimate, Briony realizes that she might just have a chance with him after all, if only she could lose a few pounds. It’s the ultimate sacrifice, but Briony goes cold turkey, and swears off chocolate forever.
Rico Montgomery fell hard for Briony the first time he set eyes on the curvy little doctor. Her rich brown hair and cocoa skin trigger cravings that he can barely control, and her fragrance is like the sweetest, richest chocolate he’s ever scented in his life. That’s a bad thing for Rico, because to a werewolf like him, chocolate is literally a toxin.
After his pack warns him off the very human doctor, Rico finds himself even more drawn to Briony.
Rico can’t live with it, and Briony can’t live without it. And when a certain wandering wolf finds a bag of chocolate in the trash near Briony’s clinic, these two will find out just how toxic love can be.
This is a substantially expanded and revised version of the short story Sex and Chocolate: Toxic which was previously published.
“Why’d you decide to be a vet?” He sucked a bit of sauce from his knuckle, noting how her eyes followed the movement.
“I just love animals, and they seem to like me back. I’m good at science, so it seemed to be the right field for me. And I do love it.” She finished her second piece, and this time he let it go. He’d send her home with leftovers. “How did you become a ranger?”
“Oh, I love animals, and I seem to be pretty good at science…” The corners of her eyes crinkled in laughter. “I’m a biologist, and most of what I do is in the field. So while I’m assigned to Rescue, I’m also in charge of monitoring raptors in this region. It ties in closely to what we do here. Luckily I have a good volunteer coordinator, because sometimes I spend days up in the mountains. Can’t think of a better job.”
She nodded, and he could sense she was getting ready to leave. Quickly he began gathering the leftovers and plates. “Dessert? I have ice cream.” He peeked into the freezer and pulled out a carton. “It’s that type with three flavors.”
“Neapolitan!” She laughed and rose to help him clean up. “Okay, but just a little. I’ll take a scoop from the chocolate side.”
They ate while standing. Rico leaned against the sink, letting the cool taste of strawberry melt over his tongue. He’d rather have chocolate, but that would be a bad idea. A very bad idea.
Briony clearly savored the flavors as she ate. “When I was a kid, my mom would buy this kind of ice cream. My little brother would eat the strawberry, and I’d eat the chocolate.”
“Leaving the vanilla behind.”
“Mom would get so mad!”
“Well, I can have the vanilla and the strawberry, but I have to leave the chocolate alone.”
“Don’t you like chocolate? I can’t imagine anyone not liking chocolate.”
He smiled at her expression of sympathy. “I love chocolate, but it doesn’t like me. It makes me a bit sick.”
“Wow. I can’t imagine…” She stared down at her bowl, dragging her spoon through the melted remains of the ice cream.
“There’s one way I can have chocolate.”
She looked at him, tilting her head just a bit. “How?”
“Like this.” Rico bent down and kissed her lightly, letting the tip of his tongue catch the flavor from her parted lips. He moved back slightly and smiled at her surprised expression. “Was that okay?”
She blinked and cleared her throat a little. The warm scent of chocolate filled the air, and Rico’s body responded, going hard and tight with need. “Uh…yeah… Yes.”
Taking that as permission, he rested the tips of his fingers on her cheek, knowing they were chilled from the ice cream bowl. Her eyes fluttered closed, her dark lashes making a crescent against the curve of her cheek. Slowly he kissed her again, drawing it out this time. He ran his fingers into the silky curls of her hair, then supported the back of her head as he took the kiss deeper. He tasted her, absorbing the essence of chocolate from her mouth, from her very skin. He shivered at the sensations that raced through his body.
Rico knew exactly when to break the kiss. “Nice,” he whispered in her ear, then stood up straight so she could move away. He trailed his fingers from her hair over her ear and down to her jaw. Her skin was fine and soft. “You taste so sweet. Chocolate kisses.”
He was about to kiss her again when she blinked and straightened. “Chocolate… Oh! I really need to leave.”
Rico stifled his disappointment, taking the bowl she still held.
“I’m sorry. I really do need to go. My night help can’t stay long, and I’ve got a dog in for chocolate toxicosis. I’ll need to stay at the clinic tonight.”
Rico turned to the sink, not liking that idea at all. He’d had girlfriends, some serious, but this protective streak surprised him. It took him a moment to regain control of his voice. “Will you be safe there alone?” He watched her reflection in the little window over the counter.
She laughed, and he was stunned by the dimples and the sudden spark of humor in her brown eyes. “Perfectly safe. I’ve got excellent security plus a nice overnight room for the weekend staff. In fact, when I first moved to town, I lived in the clinic until I found my house.”
He turned and leaned against the sink. “Just how good is your security?” He lifted a brow. He wasn’t an expert but knew people who were. The average security installation was little more than an illusion of safety.
“It’s the best.” She smiled up at him. “Designed by my own mother.”
“Seriously. That’s what she does for a living; she’s a security consultant. Former military.”
Well, that didn’t mean much either as far as Rico was concerned. Somehow he’d wrangle Kurt and Ethan into checking the place out. For tonight, though, he’d make certain she was safe.
He sighed, following as she gathered her things. “Okay, Bree, but if you need anything at all, don’t hesitate to call. Any time.”
“Oh, I couldn’t trouble you, Rico!”
“No trouble. Honest.” He grinned. “If the big bad wolf comes knocking at the door, I’m the man to call!”
She laughed in delight. “There aren’t any wolves in California! You told me that months ago.”
“You’re right. There aren’t any wolves in California. At least, not the four-legged kind. Not yet.”
Visit Belinda at http://www.belindamcbride.com
This is one of my fav Shakira songs and I just love her judging style on The Voice:
A bit late but here’s my Music Monday Pick:
Godsmack- Come Together
Even Groomsmen Get The Blues
An awkward wedding. A beautiful woman. A gun-shy groomsman. Does love stand a chance?
Ben Grimm hates weddings just on general principles, and the fact he would have been one of the intendeds if his fiancée hadn’t been sleeping with half of Grove Park isn’t improving his outlook. Ben does his duty as Mike’s groomsman, but once the ceremony’s over Ben’s had enough. Just as he’s trying to decide how soon he can politely leave, Melanie Carson, one of the bridesmaids, comes over and makes Ben an offer he can’t resist.
One-night stands aren’t really Ben’s style, and the sultry redhead who took him to new heights of erotic pleasure quickly assures him she’s not interested in being an angel of the morning. Somewhere along the line, without ever having met him, Melanie decided to offer Ben her heart. Now it’s up to Ben to decide whether the exquisite sex is worth giving another woman a chance to break his heart… or if he’s ready to try to let Melanie heal it.
Being single and lonely sucked even worse when he had to dress up in a monkey suit and dance around acting all happy for his best friend, Ben Grimm reflected. He loved Mike like a brother, but right now he wanted nothing more than to “adjust” Mike’s teal bow tie until he choked the idiotic, I’m-so-in-love grin off the groom’s face.
“Jack and Coke,” he yelled to the bartender over the thudding beat of the music. The bartender nodded and bustled off to take the order of a rowdy crew at the other end. Ben sighed, running a hand through his ash blond hair, and peeked at the clock surreptitiously, wondering how much longer good manners demanded he stay. Being a single guy at a wedding sucked syphilitic goat peckers, Ben ruminated. The few decent-looking women on display were either taken, too young, or eyeballing another potential conquest, which left him out in the cold.
He didn’t begrudge Mike and Lacey their happiness, and he certainly didn’t want to be a cloud on their day. If Veronica hadn’t done what she had, this would have been a double wedding.
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, he thought sardonically, checking the clock again. His feet ached from standing for most of the day, his lower back was starting to spasm from an overly enthusiastic turn on the dance floor with a cute nine-year-old girl who had a charming lisp and who’d developed the kind of prepubescent crush he just didn’t have the heart to turn down, and he felt the beginnings of a low-grade migraine settling in at the back of his head. He’d have one drink, make his excuses, and get the hell away from all this lovey-dovey bullshit.
“Got a date?” a husky feminine voice murmured in his ear, downy soft lips brushing his sensitive lobe.
He whipped his head to the right ruthlessly enough to wrench his neck and provoke a strangled curse. When he saw the speaker, whiplash tumbled to the bottom of his priorities list. She can’t be… His jaw dropped, and a gibbering voice in his head screamed, Say something, stupid!
“Were you talking to me?” Ben’s mouth felt even drier.
The redhead laughed, exposing the creamy sweep of her throat and rolling her shoulders so the tips of her breasts pressed against the teal satin of her gown. “I thought if I didn’t come talk to you, you were either going to slip out the door or jump out the window.” Her large eyes, the exact shade of her dress, played over him appraisingly. “I’m Melanie.”
He stuck his hand out awkwardly. “Ben.”
She took the offered hand. His cock pressed uncomfortably against his zipper, responding to her heat. Six months of enforced monkitude had done nothing to make his errant manhood behave itself, and Melanie was sexy enough to push every hot button he had just by engaging in basic social contact. For a moment he entertained a fantasy of her spread-eagled on a bed while he took her, and he locked the erotic thought down fast. If he’d been a little quicker, he might have avoided the painful erection the woman before him had triggered.
Melanie pulled away, sliding her gaze south of his cummerbund as if mentally subtracting his tuxedo from the equation.
“You planning to drill through the wall? Or can I suggest a better use for that?”
I’ve been hearing this song everywhere and it got stuck in my head.
Imagine Dragons- Radioactive