Today I have Elizabeth Seckman author of Healing Summer. We've been blogging buddies for practically a year now and I'm honoured to be the one kicking off the Healing Summer Blog Tour. I'll not only be promoting her book but Elizabeth herself will discuss a question of my choosing. Scroll down to meet Elizabeth and read about her new novel. Plus Lizzie is having a great giveaway which you can also find in this post.
Miss Sheena-kay has decided to really pick my brain in the “Healing Summer” blog tour! She wants to know: How do Couples Make Relationships Work?
If I had all the answers to that question, I’d have my own talk show and people would say, “Dr. Phil who? Never heard of him. I watch Ms. Lizzie!”
Me: See? With banter like that how can you not love her? Pardon my interruption, back to you Liz.
But I have learned a thing or two in my twenty years of marriage.
1. Marriage isn’t a 50-50 split. It’s more like a 70-30 split. And sometimes it’s in your favor and sometimes it isn’t. But that’s what relationships are about…winning some and losing some.
Me: I'm a single gal with less dating experience than the typical teenager (who's allowed to date). So hit me with some advice Elizabeth.
2. Stop keeping score. Keeping track of the days you got the 70 or the 30 will never lead to happiness. Actually, it’s a bit juvenile and there’s a reason children aren’t allowed to get married.
Me: Excellent point yet just a little creepy at the end.
3. But if you have a beef…speak up. Immediately. Don’t wait days, weeks, or years to voice it. Treat it like fried chicken in the summer sun. Eat it fresh or toss it…if not it’s bound to be poison.
Me: That's something that's not done in my family and I always hated it. When I tried to get things in the open immediately I was pegged as the bad guy. *Sigh* Leaving things unsaid only lets it come out one other way. Arguments. Bad ones. And if there's someone you can't tell what to do is sibs and your parents.
4. Treat your honey like a stranger. We are more polite to cashiers than we are to the people we love…and that’s just wrong.
5. Remain an individual, even when part of a couple. Maintain your interests and your hobbies and allow your mate to do the same.
6. But keep it honest. My husband knows all my passwords and has access to all my accounts. There’s more than one reason why it’s called intimacy.
Me: Hi honey my passwords are...I can't do it. And I'm not even dating. Wow. But good for you Liz.
7. So, you’re totally open and honest…it still doesn’t hurt to always get to the mailbox first. I prefer to break it to my husband how high the Christmas tab was…I don’t want the heart stopping Visa statement to be the one to break the news!
Me: Yeah no one wants to shopaholic life partner. But worse? The secret shopaholic life partner. Seen enough tv shows based in fiction and reality to know what that kind of business leads to. Debt and srtess.
8. Being a couple means being best buds too. There’s a reason spouses aren’t expected to testify against each other in court…you’re supposed to be watching each other’s backs…not stabbing them.
My mom once told me the definition of love was when you cared for a person more than you care about yourself. Relationships are tough. When you are in one, you can’t just do whatever you want whenever you want with whomever you want. Being a couple means accepting limits and making compromises…and if there is no emotional investment…you’re going to have trouble.
10. So lastly, no matter what- hold out for love.
Me: Definitely. I can see why you're into writing romance Elizabeth. You definitely know how to handle your business.
Now to introduce the book. Look at this steamy cover then read below to learn more, read an excerpt and check out the giveaway.
Maybe Love, Not Time, Heals All Wounds
Ditched at the altar…biopsied for cancer…Mollie Hinkle is having a bona fide bitch of a summer. When life sucks so hard it takes your breath away, what's a girl to do?
Road trip! Pack a bag, grab a few friends, and leave the past and the worry in the rear view mirror. What wounds can’t be healed by a drive across the Heartland, where quarter flips at cross roads determine the route and the future?
All roads lead to Craig, the second son and bad boy of the haughty Coulter line. Craig has spent his life taking care of number one—himself. He’s not interested in a relationship and he’s definitely not looking to fall in love. But if a morsel drops in his lap, who is he to refrain?
Mollie’s not looking for love either, but truth be told, she’s not opposed to it. Heck, if fate brought her to the minuscule Montana town to find happily ever after, she won’t fight it.Perhaps it is a summer where love, not time, heals all her wounds.
Links: Blog, Blog Tour Page, Facebook, Goodreads.
Healing Summer Excerpt
Craig Coulter drifted through his party with one thought: he should have kept the damn fish. Moved by a rare moment of humanity, he had looked into its unblinking eyes and felt pity on the finned beast. Hooked and vulnerable, its life resting in the palm of his hand, he gave the creature a toss and watched it swim away. Now, as he looked around at the revelers in his yard, he couldn’t help but think fresh trout and cold beer would have been a much deserved consolation for the intrusion.
He felt duped. He simply wanted to be alone, preferring to click off another year on his life calendar in the company of no one. Why was that so hard for people to comprehend? Knowing his requests for solitude would be ignored, he had thought he had outsmarted them all with careful planning and ruthless execution. His answering machine caught all the calls from his family, he called off work, and he headed to the mountains before daybreak to avoid well-intentioned friends. When night fell, he came home assuming he could fall into bed alone, but someone had a different idea.
And he knew exactly who. It didn’t take Craig long to find him hiding in the shadows where the tiki torches and bonfire couldn’t cast a glow. Ron Stiles was closer to Craig than family ever could be, but no one would ever mistake them for brothers. Craig was tall, dark haired, and white. Ron was short, bald, and black. As Craig approached, Ron grinned and held his arms out like he deserved a hug. Craig scowled.
“Hey, Ron,” Craig said through clenched teeth and a snarl of a smile. “What the hell’s going on, buddy?”
Ron’s eyes danced with mischief, and his natural smile broadened. He wrapped an arm around Craig. “Look here, man, you’re my boy. Have been since we were what, sixteen? And it’s your birthday, and I know you’re getting old…but you’re not so damned old that you need to be as grumpy as you are. What the hell, man? Fishing all day for your big 3-0? I figure you can do that when you turn freakin’ ninety or something. For now, you party.”
“I don’t feel like a party. Thought I was pretty clear on that.”
Ron shrugged. “Yeah, well, I didn’t listen. Besides, I have to save you. This, um, relationship dry spell is eating at your soul, and, you know I love ya, but,” Ron rolled his eyes, “all your bitching is getting old. I just wanted to get you out and get you mingling. That’s all.”
“I don’t bitch.”
“The hell you don’t!” Ron laughed and looked to the sky. “My God, you are like hanging out with my gramps. Get you some diabetes and start yanking your drawers on up to your freaking man boobs and you two’d be twins. And I love ya man, but you need a change of pace. And for God’s sake, you got to quit blaming yourself and….”
“Shut up, Ron. You’re in deep enough shit. I told you no party. I explicitly said no party, no anything.” Craig looked around his yard, cringed as people moved in and out of his house. He rubbed the back of his neck and wondered when this stopped being fun.
Ron touched his heart with his hand. “See what I’m talking about? Telling me, your best bud, to shut up? Come on man, who saved you when you first arrived at Trent Academy? The commandant would’ve had you doing push-ups till your arms fell off if I hadn’t taught you to survive, and you know it.” He leaned closer to Craig. “You know man, you never knew when to just ease up and go along. It’s up to me to guide you, and since I have a better feel for your emotional state than you do… tonight… you are going to enjoy some entertainment.” Ron shoved a six pack in his hands then turned him toward the crowd. “Now get out of here. No more bitchin’, start livin’.”
Ron gave him a push. Craig turned to argue, but Ron stuck his fingers in his ears like a child and repeated, “stop bitching,” till Craig shook his head and huffed, “You’re a dick, Stiles,” and then stormed off.
“Happy Birthday, buddy,” Ron called.
Craig flipped him off over his shoulder and kept walking.
“I love you too, man,” Ron yelled.
Craig rolled his eyes and clutched the six-pack. A couple of years ago, he would have loved the opportunity to drink too much, dance too close, then end the evening with a girl whose name he’d likely not remember in the morning; but not anymore. He supposed it was maturity. He opened a beer and decided the problem might be that he was simply bored. There was nothing new to this scene to spark his interest.
The fire dancing across the logs offered him more entertainment than anything. He stood mesmerized by the flicker until a timber crackled, snapped, and broke in two. It sent a spray of fire to the heavens then settled back down into the bon fire. The lowered flames cleared his view to the other side. A woman stood across from him. There was nothing special about her that would normally catch his eye, but catch it, she did. She was pretty, not drop-dead gorgeous, but cute. Perfect little button nose, petite body, with rounded curves that couldn’t be hidden by the baggy jeans she was wearing. Her chin-length chestnut hair looked soft, so soft his fingers itched to touch it and find out for himself. Same with her lips, they looked smooth and supple, perfect for….
Whoa, he thought with a shake to his head. Maybe the drought was dehydrating his brain. Maybe his friend was right. Maybe he should take the opportunity to break his fast. He looked around his party. He scanned each of the ladies there and trusted his years of experience to accurately locate the ones who would likely warm his bed with the least amount of effort.
Then his eyes returned to her.
She would never be easy pickings and since he refused to lie or make false promises, she would probably never be the kind of girl he could bed, but still he couldn’t stop staring. He was boldly fascinated.
And she never noticed. She evidently wasn’t looking for company, because she never looked around. She stood in that crowd of people all alone, hands stuffed in her sweatshirt pocket. He wondered if she too was dragged here against her will. He was about to brave the other side of the fire when she pulled her phone out of her pocket and spoke into it, covering her open ear with her hand to block the party noise. She closed her eyes for just a moment and then shook her head. She snapped the phone shut and then returned to her original position… head bent, shoulders slumped, hands hidden. She chewed on her cheek. A tear fell. She wiped it away quickly. She looked across the party, took a single step back, turned, and walked away.
He followed, sticking to the shadows.
She sat on his porch. Her phone buzzed again. She sighed hard, but answered. He felt bad for eavesdropping, but not bad enough to stop. Besides, who ever confused him with a gentleman?
“No. You’re lying.” She leaned against his porch pole. “Please, tell me you and Meggie are pranking me.” She covered her eyes with her hand. “Oh, this is so much worse than bad.” She removed her hand. “Can you make sure Mom and Dad don’t see?” She leaned forward. “Why would she call and tell them? Oh, dear God… I think I may vomit.” She listened a minute, then shook her head. “Hell no. I don’t want to come home… especially not now…no I don’t want to talk to… hi, Mom.” Long silence. “Joanie just thinks she’s funny.” Her hand twisted in her hair. “I’ll talk to her.” Head nod. “I can take it down as soon as I get off here…I know her password.” Silence. “Why would I want to come home now of all times? I don’t care if it offends him or not…I did just talk to him…It was just a joke. No big deal…I’m not under stress. Please, it’s nothing. I just want to enjoy my vacation.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. “Mom…Mom…please stop crying.” Her voice was quiet, soothing. “Mom. Listen. Everything will be fine. I’m fine. I feel fine.” She took a deep breath, said her love yous, and hung up the phone. She was doing something on her phone when it rang again, and again, and again. She responded to each call with the same response, “You know Joanie. She thinks she’s a riot.” Then she would hang up, then answer, and repeat. Her voice was becoming more strained and brittle with each call. He could feel her frustration, and without thinking, he stepped out of the shadows and ordered, “Just turn off the damn phone.”
She looked up at him with the biggest, most vulnerable eyes he’d ever seen. They looked as rich as melted chocolate, and he guessed they were the windows for something far sweeter. “But,” she managed.
He sat beside her on the porch. “It’s driving you crazy. Just shut it off.”
She looked at her phone. It lit up and buzzed in her hand. She looked at him like a deer trapped in a car’s head lights. He took the phone from her and killed the power.
She stared at her now quiet phone, “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” He pulled a bottle out of the carrier. “Beer?”
Craig opened it before handing it to her. He held his up for a toast. “Here’s to ignoring problems for a peaceful life.”
She clinked bottles and laughed a little. “Is that your motto, or just tired of hearing me whine on the phone?”
“You weren’t whining, but yes, I have made avoidance an art form. I am the master.” He drank his beer and grinned at her. His voice was rich, like a roughened purr, and she suspected he had just a hint of a southern drawl. He reached out with his empty hand. “Craig Coulter, you are?”
“My name?” she said barely above a whisper. Her heart sped up when her small, cold hand touched the large, warm one of the gorgeous man across from her. His face was shadowed from the dusk to dawn light that glowed behind him, but she had seen him earlier tonight. He stood a head taller and burned several degrees hotter than most men. He had black hair and a firm square jaw. His features were perfect, yet rugged enough not to qualify as pretty. She couldn’t help but remember his body was firm, athletic. The man neared perfection. The realization made her blush deepen as she reluctantly pulled her hand back and squeaked, “Mollie. My name’s Mollie.”
“You from around here, Mollie?”
Mollie shook her head no. She suddenly couldn’t think of words. She’d already forgotten his name. No, she didn’t, she thought. It was Craig. Craig something. Craig the lumberjack with his big brawny arms and… she took a long drink. She was getting warm. She looked at Craig. He was a fully developed man, one that was way out of her league.
“So, where are you from?” he asked, evidently unaware of the pain she was under trying to think in his presence.
“Pittsburgh. In Pennsylvania.”
Craig laughed. It was a low rumble. “I’m aware.”
Mollie shook her head. “I’m sorry, it’s been a really long night.”
“I heard.” He drained his beer and dropped it back into the carton. “So, how did you wind up in Windham, Montana? Not exactly a vacation resort.”
“That’s a long story.”
“Entertain me,” he said smoothly as he opened another beer.
Mollie blushed. “Well, we were touring Custer Park, and we got a flat tire. This state trooper helped us fix it, and he invited us to this party, and we came.”
“That’s not a long story.” Craig looked at his beer. “I’m not even one drink in.”
“I guess it’s not…I’m sorry.” Mollie blushed.
“You’re quite beautiful when you’re flustered. Anyone ever tell you that?”
Mollie laughed. “No. Never.”
“Well, you are.”
Mollie rolled her eyes.
“You saying I’m lying?”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You rolled your eyes.”
“Well.” Mollie picked at her beer label. “That’s just because I know better. But it’s nice of you to feel sorry for me.”
“Why would I feel sorry for you?”
“Because you overheard my phone calls.”
“You were fighting with your mom. What else is new?”
“I wasn’t fighting with my mom,” Mollie explained. “She was just worried about me.”
“Oh. Well, for the record, pretty lady, I could only hear your end of the phone conversation, and I heard nothing that made me think you needed my pity.”
“Oh.” Mollie bit her lip. “I guess I should say thank you then.”
They drank in silence a moment. Then Craig said, “I know it’s none of my damned business, and you can tell me so, but what the hell was all that about? And why does a beautiful woman at a party look like her dog died?”
Mollie looked out across the people laughing and having fun. “I guess pouting on a porch does make me look like a real ass.”
“I didn’t say that.”
Mollie blinked back tears. Craig frowned. He looked off into the night at the moths dancing in the light. He said gently, “This is my house. House rules are if you cry, you are obligated to tell me why.”
Mollie laughed a little. “You really want to know?”
Craig nodded. “I really want to know.”
“Okay.” Mollie thought a minute, then started her tale with, “I have a friend who is totally moronic, childish, inconsiderate, thoughtless, and,” Mollie paused a moment before adding, “feel free to add in any other word that means lame, stupid, ignorant, callous, rude, crude… well, I think you get my point.”
“Sounds like the bitch pissed you off.”
“She is. And I am.”
“So, what did she do?”
Mollie took a drink. “Joanie, that’s my friend, has a blog. She calls it Horn Dogs and….”
“What’s a blog?”
“Kind of like an online diary on the internet. One that’s open to the whole world.”
“I see, and this blog pertains to you….”
“In that Joanie blogged about my needing to heal over the summer from the heart ache of my break up, henceforth this road trip. Then she goes on to add that I’m still just too moody, so she is going for plan B… and that is…oh, lord, Joanie…I could just kill her.” Mollie took a drink. She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Joanie wrote that I needed to, you know, hook up with some guy…that she and Jack, my blond friend with that guy you called Ron….” She pointed toward the fire.
“Trouble making Ron.”
“So anyhow, my friends, Jack and Joanie, worked out this arrangement that they would fix me up with some guy tonight…which makes me mad, cause I hate hook-ups…but to make it absolutely horrible… Joanie blogs it…she actually blogged that I need to get laid!”
“Now the story gets better.” Craig laughed. “Now I have to wonder, who’s the lucky guy?”
“Could be anyone.” Mollie waved her hand across the crowd.
Craig shook his head. “Might want to have your friends check. He might have died in a car wreck on the way over, cause that’s the only thing I can imagine that would stop a guy from a sure thing with you.”
Mollie gasped. “I’m not a sure thing. I never agreed to this. I never even knew what was going on until my little sisters called to read me her post. Oh Lord. Trust me, had I known, I would never have come here.”
“So you came, but you didn’t know you were here for a date until just now?”
“Exactly. All of my family in P.A. heard the news before I did. Oh, mark my words, when I get hold of those two at the hotel tonight? They’re going to get it. I have half a mind to fly home and leave the both of them.” Mollie sighed and stuck out her lower lip. “Honestly, I totally don’t want to be home right now either. This all just stinks.” Mollie took another swallow. “Joanie actually wrote that the cop who fixed our flat, what’s his name?”
“Mitch,” Craig answered
“Yeah, Mitch. She wrote that the cop promised her that he had a friend who could seduce a nun, and Joanie thought that was just great because my problem stemmed from a lack of variety in my life…and oh, what did she write, that I needed to trade boys for men…a good mind blowing, well you know, that was the balm my broken heart needed…and Mitch’s friend would be eager too because it’s his birthday. Sooo, Mr. Birthday, Mr. Don Juan himself, gets laid, I get such great sex that I forget all about my problems, and everybody wins.”
“And that’s on the internet?”
“Well, it was until five minutes ago when I deleted it.”
“Too bad, would’ve made an interesting read.”
“Trust me. Enough people read it.” Mollie drank her beer. “Including my mother.”
“Yeah. Ouch.” Mollie picked at the label. “And to make it all worse…my fiancé, well my ex-fiancé, called me and was kind enough to point out that he didn’t think he should be blamed for all my troubles, and that it’s not his fault I’m a frigid little bitch. I mean, my gosh, of all the things Joanie wrote about, the only thing he gave a damn about was the fact that his prowess was threatened?”
Craig laughed. “He didn’t worry about you meeting Mr. Don Juan?”
Mollie paused, and then said, “No, he didn’t, and I guess he was right not to be concerned.” Mollie sighed. “I don’t see anyone lining up to take a crack at the ice queen. Maybe Justin is right. There probably is something wrong with me.” Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. She bit her lip and willed them to go away.
Craig looked at her, then up at the stars and said with a sigh. “I suppose I would have to agree.”
Mollie let out a wide-eyed gasp. She couldn’t believe he just said that to her face. She expected him to think it, but expected propriety to stop him from saying it. She didn’t know how to respond to such honesty. Her mouth hung open, but no sounds came out.
Craig looked back at her and shifted his body closer. He took her by the chin and turned her face to his. He moved her hair away from her ear and leaned in so close she could feel the heat of his body. “You definitely have a problem.” His lips were warm against her ear as his whisper sent electric current down her spine. “Your problem is… you haven’t been with the right man.” A puff of warm breath made the skin on the back of her neck tingle.” His voice dipped low and husky, “Tell me, Mollie, when he kisses you, does he do this?” His hand wound its way into her hair, tugged gently, and tipped her head back until she was looking up at him. “Does he touch this very tender spot right here?” His finger trailed lightly across her throat. She closed her eyes and licked her lips. His lips returned to her ear. “Does he remember to tell you how beautiful you are?”
Mollie shook her head no.
“That’s a shame.” His lips descended toward hers, and then stopped, barely brushing them. “You are definitely beautiful.”
Mollie swallowed. “Thanks,” she whispered.
His hand cupped her chin. Strong fingers stroked against the pulse that now hammered in her throat. His kiss was sweet, gentle.
Mollie’s first thought was to pull away from him. She didn’t even know this man. But she didn’t…couldn’t. It felt too…right.
He lifted his head and smiled down at her. His thumb brushed against her bottom lip.
“Enjoy a kiss so much?”
“…talk too much.”
Molly didn’t know what to say. Her voice lost, he pulled her close again, but this time his kiss wasn’t gentle.
His hand moved down her sweatshirt, pressing against her hot flesh. She gasped when she felt the warmth of his hands on her skin. Her body jerked as she gasped.
Craig winked down at her and smiled. “Can’t blame a guy for trying, Mollie. It is my birthday.”
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