Entry Nickname: Madam Butterfly
Word Count: 80K
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Will Kavanagh is the only one who knows the truth about the drug overdose that killed Christy Talbot. Not that he’s telling. The world famous actress may have starred in the film adaption of his novel, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go to jail for giving her illegal drugs. Troubled by a mounting sense of self-loathing and guilt, Will returns to the only place he has ever felt something other than lost: home. Not that everyone in town is rolling out the red carpet for Cherrington’s prodigal son—especially not his former fiancée, Jessica Locke.
Following the unexpected death of her father, Jessica needs something—anything—to keep herself busy, and fixing up a property for Will’s mother sounds like just the ticket. The only hitch is her ego-fueled ex-fiancé is back—the one who left her in the rear-view mirror on his way to literary fame in NYC. Will is the last person Jessica wants to talk about, let alone see. The trouble is, she never could resist those piercing blue eyes and tortured writer’s soul. It isn’t long before things heat up between them once again.
Each dealing with death in very different ways, Jessica and Will navigate conflicting emotions and their undeniable attraction to find something worth saving. Too bad Will, haunted by the knowledge of how Christy died, isn’t exactly relationship-ready. Neither is Jessica. She knows Will is hiding something and she’s determined to find out what.
Then Will realizes that unless he’s willing to reveal his secret to Jessica, fast, he could lose her trust—and her love—all over again. Because, as it turns out, Will isn't the only one who knows the truth behind Christy’s death.
When Will Kavanagh stepped out of the coffee shop, his eyes were drawn to the bookstore window like a magnet.
Just get back in the damn car, he commanded himself.
But his legs seemed to move of their own volition, taking him over to the book display. He would have recognized those red and gold splashed covers anywhere. Bold black letters at the top of each one proclaimed Now a Major Motion Picture. Underneath was a snapshot of the two main stars. The one on the right gazed back at Will, her full lips curved in a wide smile. His gut twisted into knots of guilt.
As he stood transfixed on the sidewalk, the world around him faded away. He didn’t see Christy Talbot with her arm around her leading man. Instead his mind burned with the image of the actress as she lay sprawled on the floor next to an upended pill bottle, her eyes empty. Those eyes had haunted him every day for the last two months.
The voice made him snap back to the present. A man stood beside him, holding out the bag that contained Will’s bagel. “You dropped this.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled.
“Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?”
Will stiffened. “No.”
He strode back to his BMW. With a tightness in his chest, he drove past the downtown stores, this time making damn sure his eyes faced forward. He needed another reminder of Christy like he needed a hole in the head.
Entry Nickname: Irish in America
Word Count: 100K
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
In post-Civil War Arizona, Jesse Travers' father and brother die, leaving her with a crumbling ranch and a deep well of distrust.
Shunned by the village for her outlaw brother's deeds, Jesse is not sorry to hear he's been killed while robbing a bank. Strangely enough it is Adam Donovan, the man who shot her brother, who brings the news. Even more strange is the Irish immigrant's willingness to help her put her ranch back on solid footing.
Donovan is known as a man with a fast temper and an even faster gun, and all of Jesse's experiences with her neighbors have left her jaded. But love for her canyon home overcomes her trepidation, and she accepts Donovan's help. Despite his reputation, he seems gentle and empathetic – a far cry from her brother, whose relentless abuse drove her to the brink of despair, or her father, who would never believe the things Jesse told him about her brother.
As they work together, Jesse begins to let down her guard, and feels the first stirrings of love – an experience she's never known before. On the verge of believing she might be worthy of happiness, Jesse discovers that her mongrel brother's treachery has consequences that reach beyond the grave, and they might rip the new life she's building to shreds.
If the truth comes out, Jesse knows the villagers will blame her for her brother's crimes – they've done it all along. She has no recourse but to confide in Donovan and hope he'll stand with her. But Jesse's not sure who she's seeking help from: the temperamental gunfighter or the compassionate man who sings as he works. She only knows that if she's wrong about him, she'll face a lifetime of solitude and shame.
Jesse Travers stood in the cabin door, willing her hands to unclench, her jaw to relax. The old man who sat wrapped in a blanket by the fire was being more querulous than usual. He can’t help it, she told herself, any more than he can help being old. Or crippled. But God help us if this day doesn’t end soon.
The clearing where the cabin stood was too quiet. No breeze stirred the aspen leaves. No birds trilled, no squirrels scampered. Even the brook ran silently today.
The only restful thing was the occasional glimpse of buckskin in the sycamores. The old man always told her that wild animals knew where there was danger and would run away. So maybe it’s nothing–maybe it’s just too hot for April. Maybe that’s what makes me feel so sick.
Then the utter silence yielded to the faint clip-clop of horse’s hooves.
No one should be coming. No one ever came. She tasted the sharp metal of fear. As the hoofbeats closed in, she took up an old Sharps rifle and moved out onto the sagging porch, into the shadows of its roof.
Round the edge of the cottonwood grove, the horse ambled into sight. Its rider had dark hair, dark clothes, a dark gun sitting low on his left hip. There isn’t anyone in the Territory who doesn’t know who he is. But what does he want here? Squaring her shoulders and raising the rifle, she took a single step into the light.