What Had to Be Done

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A Thursday teaser from the novel

By DelSheree Gladden

I’m lacing my sneaker back up when voices drift over the boulders. I recognize them immediately.

“No, man. Don’t bitch at me. I’m just asking a question.”

“It sounds like you’re judging me.”

“She’s my sister, Felix.”

“So?”

“So, I want to know why the sudden change of heart. Leah has been after you for forever and you’ve never given her the time of day before. Now you’re all over her.”

“No, I’m not,” Felix snaps. “I had my arm around her waist. No big deal.”

“For you, it’s a big deal. You haven’t dated anyone I’m aware of in three years. Every time I try to fix you up, you say it was fine or okay and never call the girl back. Now you want to hang with Leah?”

“What? You don’t want me to date your sister?”

Carlos growls in frustration. “Date her all you want! As long as you’re not playing her.”

I feel my own hands tense up at Carlos’s accusation. Felix would never do that to a girl.

“I’m not. I’ve always thought Leah was great. I guess I just wasn’t interested in dating before now.”

“Now you are?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You’re ready to date anyone, or just Leah?” Carlos asks.

For a moment, Felix is silent and I wonder if he’s going to answer. When he does, I wish he would have kept his mouth shut.

“I’m ready to date anyone but Anna.”

Carlos sighs. “Whatever, man. Just be nice to my sister. If you’re not serious, don’t let her think you are.”

“I won’t.”

Whatever they say after that, I don’t hear it. I don’t want to. I want to sit here and wallow. Lacey has other plans. Her hand reaches down for me and, when I take it halfheartedly, she yanks me up off the ground. My eyes survey the area for any others we might accidently eavesdrop on. Nobody.

“Quick question,” Lacey says, making my stomach sink to my toes. “Are you reconsidering the Batman lifestyle at this point? If so, you realize you’re going to be spending a lot of time with Isabel, don’t you? I met her the other day. No offense, but she’s not my favorite person.”

I laugh, and find I can’t stop. Lacey stares at me like I’ve totally lost it. I probably have. Through my giggling, I say, “I don’t think Isa is anyone’s favorite person. Except maybe my dad’s. And as much as I want to make it through summer without coming face to face with Felix again, Batgirl has officially hung up her cape. I can’t take anymore quality Isa time.”

“Good, ’cause even though you can pull off a bikini pretty well, nobody looks good in spandex costumes.”

“Very true,” I laugh.

“I never knew Felix was such a prick, though.”

I shake my head. “He’s not.”

“Oh, he definitely is. Did you hear what he said about you?”

I nod. Every word. Everything about our last couple encounters is engrained on my brain forever.

“You aren’t seriously standing up for him, are you? He said he’d date anyone but you, like you’re a goddamn leper or something. Any guy who talked about me like that would get a pool cue to their gut.”

What Had to be Done

Everyone has bad days. Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days.

It started with her mother’s illness and eventual death, continued with a decision that ruined a friendship, and culminated in her father announcing they were broke and moving away right before her senior year of high school.

Maybe a fresh start will turn things around. Or maybe it will put her face to face with her former best friend, Felix, and the hatred in he still carries for her.

The only bright spot in Anna’s move to Santa Fe is meeting her new swim coach, a long-time hero who has big plans for her athletic career. The pool is her refuge, but she can’t hide there forever.

Living in a small town makes it impossible to stay out of Felix’s way, and unlikely their history will remain just between them for long. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.

DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.

Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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Holiday writing

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Monday musings for the beginning of the holiday season

By A.J. Llewellyn

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

When I first started writing romantic mystery novels in 2007, my novel, Phantom Lover, sold surprisingly well when it came out in June of that year. I was keen to get my next book published, but my publisher had other ideas. She sent her authors a list of upcoming title releases and I was dismayed to see she’d already filled release dates through the New Year.

I emailed and asked if there was any chance somebody might drop out and one of my books could fill a slot. She said there was always that chance, but I got the feeling this was unlikely.

A week later, she called and asked if I could write a quick Christmas story for a December release. She needed it to be short, around 20k and needed it ASAP since one of her authors had dropped out of her planned holiday schedule.

A Christmas in June

I said yes immediately but had no idea what I would write. A Christmas story in June! I took my dog for a walk because I get my best ideas walking her and it came to me. I’d written two sequels to Phantom Lover but knew they wouldn’t see the light of day until Spring—at least—of 2008.

Since I didn’t want people to forget my two men, Kimo and Lopaka, I came up with what I thought would be a funny, sexy between-the-numbers tale. Fly Me to the Moon was so much fun to write. I played Christmas music and ate Christmas-style fruit cake from the British tea shop around the corner. It was yuletide in my home for the three days it took me to write this book.

It sold very well, launching my career. Since then I’ve written a dozen holiday stories and to be honest, I can write them regardless of the season. I’ve come to understand that publishers require their books well in advance of publication for a variety of reasons.

With holiday books they want them months before the release date so they’re not handling things like last minute final line edits on Christmas Eve.

My favorite holiday other than Christmas, is Thanksgiving (because everybody celebrates it) and until a few months ago I’d never actually written a book around that particular celebration. Not sure why. But I really wanted to write one. It’s been a difficult year for everyone but in California, we’ve been in lockdown since March 17 and I was feeling really sad.

I was going to miss seeing my family and friends and enjoying my aunt’s amazing baked yams (okay, what I was really going to miss was the marshmallow topping on those babies).

Urgent inspiration

A few months ago, after I’d signed up for a Thanksgiving book, I was stuck. What to write? What to write? I sat at my computer working on everything but that story. A friend called, suggesting we drive to Beverly Hills. I thought it was a great idea. We could walk the streets we love so much and maybe find some cake and coffee!

On the way she told me about the house she was thinking about buying in West LA and we passed by it.

I was astonished at the vivid blue-painted front porch, blue trim on the white windows and she said, “Oh, yeah. That’s the haint.”

Say, what?

Haint blue on house in Savannah, GA. Source: Orangebean.com

“Haint. Haint blue. Supposed to ward of ghosts. Big thing in the South.”

You don’t say? I was anxious to get home and Google haints and warding off ghosts. It was rough getting through that afternoon because I was feeling inspired. I raced home when I could and did a boat load of research. I love research. I love myth. I love legends and paranormal romance. I had so much fun concocting Kill the Moon and hope I won’t offend any ghosts or boo hags by bending myth a little bit. I hope you get the chance to read it when it releases on Friday the 20th. I wrote it long before the Thanksgiving holiday, but it was firmly in my heart with every word I wrote.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, and as Andy Borowitz once said, “For those of you who cannot be with family, please resist the urge to brag.”

A.J. Llewellyn

 is the author of over 300 M/M romance novels. She was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.

Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.

A.J. I started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.

How to find/friend her:

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter by emailing ajllewellynnewsletter@gmail.com – each month she gives away a free ebook!

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