Sunday, March 2, 2014

Choices by Kate Vale

An Excerpt from Choices by Kate Vale
Melanie Holmes has her hands full when 15-year-old Keith and 13-year-old Anne, react badly to Melanie’s impending divorce from their father. Only four-year-old Jeffrey is his usual sunny self.
Further complicating her life is her attraction to Sam Hudson, the detective called to her home when Ken runs off, and Anne is abducted from a strip club.

Sam is forced to confront his own demons as he contemplates becoming deeply involved with Melanie’s family after she is seriously injured in the same car accident that kills her ex-husband. After she returns home, Melanie’s kids tell her they want to marry Sam, even though he hasn’t uttered the “M” word.

How will Sam react when her kids do the proposing for him? Can the long-time bachelor commit himself to her and her children?

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Anne watched him doff his shirt. His chest was covered with dark hairy swirls, reminding her of a bear. He slid down his zipper and stepped out of his jeans. His underwear hung on his hips. He sat down to remove his shoes. When he took his eyes off her to concentrate on loosening a knot in one of the ties, she eased closer to the edge of the fireplace.
He finally worked the knot loose and slipped off his shoes. “There we go.” He grunted. “Now for the socks. Then it’s time for some fun. You and me, Missy—”
Before he finished speaking she brought the big stick down on his head and neck as hard as she could. The force with which it hit the man ricocheted into her shoulder. Anne dropped the stick and grabbed the keys. She whirled and fled into the darkness, slamming the door behind her. She raced for the truck and climbed in. 
In the bare light of the new moon, she fumbled for the ignition, thankful the rain had stopped. 
Before she could get the truck moving, Yancy stumbled out of the house, swearing. He must have stepped onto something sharp, for when she looked in the rearview mirror again, he was staggering down the steps and half-running, half-hopping toward the truck. 
Anne turned the ignition and pushed her foot against the accelerator. The truck jerked back-ward. Oh, God. When did he put it in reverse? Then the truck bed bounced and Anne glanced over her shoulder again. Yancy had jumped into the bed of the pickup and was working his way in jerky steps toward the cab’s back window. 
Anne jerked the gear shift to D and stood on the accelerator. The engine roared and the truck slewed forward. The man yelled. When she looked over her shoulder, he was no longer standing on the bed of the pick-up. The truck bounced over a rock or something. She hauled the wheel to the right just in time to avoid hitting a tree as the truck shimmied in the muddy yard. Then the tires reached hard-packed earth, and the truck flew up the road. Anne didn’t care that the truck bounced in and out of the potholes in the road. She just had to get out of there. 
She screamed when the trees scraped the sides as she neared the road. She looked back one more time and saw Yancy lying on the ground next to the porch of the little house. The truck skidded in a small puddle then straightened as Anne headed up the little road. Too afraid to look back again, she sucked in her breath, trying not to cry. 
The driver’s seat was so far back, her foot kept slipping off the accelerator pedal. She stood up and pressed again, and the tires squealed against the rocks as the truck fish-tailed up the road. She eased back on the pedal and the truck abruptly slowed down. But she had to get away, afraid Yancy would catch her. She pressed down on the accelerator again, shivering. If only she knew how to turn on the heater and the headlights. A car was approaching on the main road. The driver flashed his lights at her and she gasped, her heart thumping, afraid the other car was going to hit her. It passed her, its horn blaring. Darkness enveloped the little truck. All she wanted was to go home. 
Anne brought her left hand up to her face to brush her hair out of her eyes, and bumped the side of the steering wheel. The head-lights came on. Oh! Better. Now she could see the road. She sat back on the edge of the seat. As she did so, her foot slid off the accelerator. She pushed back on the pedal, but not as hard as when she’d been standing up, and the truck picked up speed. 

Mom, Dad. I’m so sorry. Please don’t be mad at me. She swallowed a sob and hung onto the steering wheel. If she could just keep the truck on the road. If only no other cars flashed their lights at her, making it hard to see. 

Kate Vale lives in the beautiful fourth corner of northwestern Washington state. She enjoys the slower pace of a small city located between Vancouver BC, and Seattle WA. Her stories reflect the many different careers she has experienced and the crises that confront real men and women. Helping her characters get to a happily-ever-after is a continuing goal.
Awards received:
2014 Great Beginnings* 1st prize for DREAM CHASER (the first novel I published) – in cozy mysteries for Romantic Fiction

2014 Great Beginnings* 1st prize for HER DAUGHTER’S FATHER (this comes out on Feb 10, 2014!) – in Romantic Suspense category

Previously, PACKAGE DEAL won 1st prize in Romantic Suspense Category for books published in 2012

In addition to the 2013 1st prize for Contemporary Romance for CHOICES

*All four of these awards were given by Chanticleer Books and Media. The Great Beginnings contest was for the first up to 1500 words only. According to the people running the contest, their intent was to identify titles whose beginnings “captured” the reader, urging them to want to read more.  The other two contests required submission of the entire novel.

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