Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Meet the Heroine--Jaden, from No Matter What

I love to write heroines who I can admire. Women of strength, passion, intelligence, toughness, etc. Jaden is no exception. She knows what's right and is willing to do what she has to do make it happen.
In No Matter What, she wants desperately for the Pediatric Rehab wing to be finished at her hospital. But they don't have the money. Adam Steele, our hero, gives her the chance to make her dream a reality. Here's a scene that illustrates what Jaden's going through.

“The hospital Board is considering a proposal to expand the outpatient surgery department and radiology into the new wing.”

“And…” Jaden felt her stomach start to knot even before Rachel spoke again. She scribbled angrily to color in the noose she’d put around Dan’s neck.

“They’re tired of the building being partially finished. They want it done and used for something. They think it looks bad to have it just sitting there.”

Jaden felt every muscle in her neck and shoulders tighten. “So, Rehab is just out? Done? It’s over?”

“No, not officially.” Rachel sounded depressed. “We’re fighting for it. We have patients and their families writing letters. We have some of the doctors on our side. But the fact remains that we
don’t have the money and we don’t…”

“Don’t what?” Jaden asked when Rachel stopped.

“We don’t have you,” Rachel said quietly. “You were our fearless leader. You were the one who always had another idea and who always knew what to say. The wing was your idea. You’re the one they listened to.”

Jaden felt like she might throw up. She wasn’t sure what to do. It might be too late. It might not be enough. “Rach…I have the money.”


“Well, I will have. I’m…working on something.”

“For a million dollars?”


“You better not be doing anything illegal,” Rachel said.

Jaden chuckled. Sort-of. “It’s therapy. I’m rehabilitating Adam Steele’s daughter, Emily.”

“Steele? As in Steele Enterprises?”

“The same.”

Rachel whistled. “Wow.”

“Yeah.” Wow was one word for it.

“Is it a sure thing?”

The million-dollar question…literally. Jaden put as much confidence into her voice as she could.
“Yes. It’s a sure thing.”

“Oh, J.” Rachel sounded choked up. “This is so…great. Wow. I should have known you’d be working on it. I should have known you’d come through.”

Jaden wondered if she’d ever be able to eat again. Her stomach might be in a permanent knot. “Of course. You know how much the hospital and the kids mean to me.”

“I do,” Rachel said sincerely. “I know this rehab wing is your dream. And I know that it’s probably killing you to be away from work this long.”

Rachel shared Jaden’s passion for pediatric physical therapy and everything it entailed. They had gone to numerous conferences, had published two papers and had flown to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress. “It is,” Jaden admitted. “Working with Emily is saving me.”

“Oh, Jaden, this is the best news I’ve had since I had to take over. I should have known you wouldn’t leave us hanging. And I can’t wait for you to come back and take the director’s position back.”

The staff in the rehab department had been handpicked by Jaden. They were more than co-workers. They were colleagues and friends. Who had been let down by Jaden. She added devil horns to the top of Dan’s head.

“We’ll have to work that all out. But right now you’re in charge of keeping morale up,” Jaden said. “Just a little while longer.”

“Jaden, I have a confession.”

“Yeah?” Jaden could barely force words through her tight throat.

“When you told me you were bartending, I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’m sorry for doubting you. I should have believed that you’d be trying to figure a way out.”

Jaden closed her eyes. She hadn’t figured anything out. If Adam and Tony hadn’t come to her, she’d still be confusing mojitos for margaritas. “I have a confession, too.”

“What’s that?”

“I want this rehab wing for all of you and the kids,” Jaden said. “But I also wanted it to show Bob that he was wrong to not support me. And now I want it so that we can compete against Dan’s new project, and kick their butts.”

“Sounds great to me,” Rachel said with a laugh. “I can’t wait to tell everyone.”

“No!” Jaden said, then softened her tone. “I mean, let’s surprise them when I have the check. I’ll show up with lunch for everyone or something.”

“But J, I have to tell the rehab staff at least.” Rachel sounded almost panicked.


“Mercy is trying to recruit as much of our staff as they can for their program.”

Jaden felt her temples begin throbbing. “What?”

“We are the best pediatric staff in the state. They’re contacting our staff members and offering sign-on bonuses and higher salaries…a lot of stuff.”

“Has anyone signed with them yet?” Jaden asked, dreading the answer.

“Not that I know of. But, if they don’t know for sure that we’re moving ahead here, I’m afraid we might lose a few.”

Jaden rubbed her forehead against the threatening headache. “I can’t believe Dan wants to hurt me this much.”

Rachel’s voice was soft and sympathetic when she answered, “I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but I can speak as a friend and colleague when I say that losing you leaves a pretty huge hole, hon.”

Jaden squeezed her eyes shut and felt the tear escape. Damn.

She could not let anyone else down. Her staff needed this. The hospital needed this. All the kids who would need to recover from illness and injuries in the future needed this.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Meet the Hero-- Adam from No Matter What

Adam Steele is a stubborn, dedicated single dad. He's also head of his family's company which has made him a millionaire and used to using his money to get his way. He thinks that's what he's getting when Jaden Monroe agrees to privately rehabilitate his daughter in exchange for the one million dollars she needs to finish the pediatric rehab wing at the hospital. But he quickly learns that he's not getting his way at all. Of course, that doesn't stop him from trying! Here's a scene where we get a peek into Adam's head and heart.

“What is this all about?” Adam demanded the minute Jaden arrived in his office.

The desire to kiss her was nearly as strong as the desire to shake her.

He wasn’t sure how much of her he could take.

“You are getting in the way,” she told him bluntly.

She had no idea how in the way he could get. “I refuse to let you do this to Emily.”

“I’m doing this to Emily? She’s becoming an invalid. Don’t you see? She doesn’t need that elevator. You should never have installed it.”

“She can’t go up and down the stairs in that wheelchair. What else could I have done?”

“You came up with a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The more permanent the fixtures—like an elevator—the harder it is for Emily to believe that her disability is short term.”

He leaned closer and glared at her. “Her lack of a leg is not temporary, Jaden.”

She gave a heavy, exasperated sigh. “It’s no wonder she thinks she’s a cripple. You have her labeled as one in your mind and you are treating her that way. No surprise that her rear end is glued to that chair.”

“I did not bring you here to judge me and my decisions. I’ve done my best for her.”
His best had always been enough too. Always. Emily had never had a need he couldn’t fulfill. Until now. He couldn’t give his daughter the only thing she really needed…her leg back.
But he could, by God, give her the chance to have her life back. “I brought you here to make her better.”

“Then let me. You can’t coddle her,” Jaden said. “I know that it must be hard seeing her unhappy and struggling, but you’re not doing her any favors.”

“She’s been through enough already, Dr. Monroe. I want this therapy to help her, not hurt and frustrate her.”

“I thought you were going to call me Jaden,” She said, her irritation clear. “You’ve both been through a lot. But now it’s time to get past it. It’s not going to get better unless Emily gets up out of that chair.”

“Lower your voice!” How could he want to kiss her even more now?

“No, she can hear this.”

Jaden stomped to the office door, which was open only a few inches. She swung the heavy door open as wide as it would go. “Everyone can hear this. Emily is not disabled.” Jaden proclaimed at the top of her lungs. “She is not crippled or deformed or anything else. And she will walk again. She will go up and down the stairs like everyone else, she will dance again, she will do all of the things that she used to do. As soon as everyone—especially Emily—believes it!”

Adam stalked to where she stood. She whirled to face him again and was clearly surprised to find him so close. Unable to stop himself, he gripped her upper arms and pulled her closer. His voice was thick when he spoke. “Do you believe it?”

Her eyes, swirling with emotion, made him forget that she was there as a professional therapist. Passion like that pulled at his deepest male instincts.

“Yes.” Her voice sounded ragged. “Yes, I believe it.”

He stared at her for another long moment. He wondered what she would do if he pulled her up against his body and showed her how she was affecting him. Then he released her, stepped back and sucked in a long breath.

This woman had the potential to make his life incredibly complicated.

“Dr. Monroe, if this job is more than you can handle, I would appreciate you being upfront about it. Emily’s been in that wheelchair too long. If I need to find another therapist, I’d like to get started.”

Jaden stared at him. “Are you firing me?” she asked.

“No. But if you’re going to quit…”

“I told you just a little bit ago that I’m not quitting, no matter what.”

He considered that for a long while, searching her eyes, trying to gauge her sincerity. She wet her lips, shifted from one foot to the other, and waited.

“Because of the money?” he finally asked.

It took a moment for her to form a response. “No. The money is very important to the hospital, but—no. I’m not going to quit because…”

He was certain that he would know if she fudged the truth, and even a half truth from this woman would disappoint him. He realized that he already had incredibly high expectations for Dr. Jaden Monroe and he wasn’t sure if he could take her being just another person who let him down. “Because?” he asked.

“Because I don’t think that you believe I can do this. I don’t think you believe that I’m the one who will help Emily walk again. And I want to prove you wrong.”

He watched her, the air between them heavy with something that felt a lot like expectation.

Finally, he gave her a simple nod. She spun toward the open door, where he could see Emily sitting in the foyer, staring at his office door.

“You ready?” Jaden asked the girl.

“For what?” Emily looked wary but carefully kept her tone pleasant.

“To learn to go up and down stairs.”

“Um…” Emily glanced up at the long, spiraling staircase.

“Great, I’ll meet you at the top. Enjoy your last ride in the elevator.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Drink Recipes

I love this time of year... the lights, the decorations, the music, the kids' school and church programs and, of course, the food and drink! While I have plenty of favorite foods *G*, I have some special drink recipes that are perfect for this time of year! And I wanted to share!

Enjoy! And Merry Christmas! Erin

White Hot Chocolate
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups half and half
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Vanilla whipped topping, for garnish
Candy cane, crushed or whole, for garnish
Peppermint liqueur, optional
White chocolate liqueur, optional
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine white chocolate chips and heavy cream. Stir continuously until white chocolate chips have completely melted. Stir in the half-and-half, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Stir occasionally until heated through.
Pour into mugs, top with a dollop of vanilla topping and a candy cane.
Note: For a tasty adult drink, add desired amounts of peppermint and white chocolate liqueurs (but it is just as good without! *g*)

Christmas Tea
This is a dry mix that you mix up and use cup by cup. It's fantastic for warming up on a cold day and is very soothing to a sore throat!

3/4 c. instant tea
2 c. orange Tang
2 c. granulated sugar
2 1 quart sized packages of instant lemonade
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp Allspice

Mix all together, store in a covered air tight container.
Use 2-3 tsp. per 1 cup hot water, or to taste.

Orange Egg Nog
4 cups Egg Nog
2 bottles (10 oz) ginger ale, chilled
1 can (6 oz) frozen concentrated orange juice, thawed

Just before serving, combine egg nog, ginger ale and orange juice. Stir occasionally.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Arguments and Tension... sexual and otherwise

It's inevitable... any time you put two strong willed people together there's going to be some friction. Throw in the additional tension of an unexpected and unwanted sexual attraction you know there's going to be some disagreements and maybe even outright arguments! But they are fun, aren't they? At least a little?

My characters Jaden and Adam have plenty of chances to disagree-- and they do! But it helps them learn about each other and gain respect for the other.

Here's one such scene:

“Everything that goes on in this house or on these grounds is my concern. You could have left a note.” Though his voice was low, his tone indicated a clear underlying irritation.

“A note about what?”

“Where you were going, what time you’d be back.” His exasperation came through distinctly.

“Are you always so nosy?”

“Are you always so sneaky?”

“Sneaky?” She stopped the cocoa preparation and turned to look at him squarely.

“You slipped out of the house tonight without a word to anyone about where you were going.”

“I didn’t realize I was under house arrest. I have things I have to do. And I did not ‘slip out’.”

“A million dollars is a lot to pay for an eight hour work day.” He lifted the coffee cup that she hadn’t noticed until that moment.

She felt a wave of indignation wash over her but she held her expression stoically. “This is not exactly a typical business arrangement.”

A long silence followed her statement.

“You’re right.” His words took Jaden by surprise. “For instance, any other time I hire someone, I ask a lot of questions about them personally as well as professionally. I like to know about their families, their interests and hobbies. Their habits. I should have asked more questions about you. My primary concern at the time was that I hire the best therapist for Emily.”

“You did.”

“Yes, but I didn’t think beyond the therapy sessions. I didn’t fully consider all of the things you would mean to Emily besides being her therapist.”

Jaden frowned, wishing she could see his face more clearly. “What do you mean? And what did you mean by ‘their habits’?” She wasn’t sure why but she felt offended by the comment now that she replayed it in her head.

“I expect Emily will get very attached to you. You are a young, intelligent, successful woman and Emily will likely look up to you.”

“And that concerns you.”

“Frankly, yes.”


He came to his feet in one quick, fluid movement. “Because it’s one in the morning
and you’re just getting home.

Let him guess and assume about what you were doing. Make him a little crazy for a change.

“I don’t like that you’re assuming the worst about me. I haven’t given you a reason not to trust me.”

He took a deep breath. “Okay, then, I have only one question for you. Where were you?”

She swallowed hard and tried to get a grip on the thoughts and responses that were stumbling over one another in their haste to make it to her mouth first.

“I was out, Adam. That’s all you need to know.” She added a flip of her hair to emphasize how casual she was about the whole thing.

“Jaden…” He took a deep breath and she saw him consciously work to unclench his fists. It struck her how personal her name sounded from his lips even when he was frustrated. That only increased her aggravation.

His voice slightly calmer, he spoke again. “It is important to me. At least tell me that you weren’t—”

“What? That I wasn’t…doing drugs? Drinking all night at the bars? That I’m not a call girl in the evenings when I’m not at the hospital? Smell my breath, Adam, if you don’t believe me. Diet cola was the strongest thing I had tonight.”

He came toward her quickly and she tipped her chin up to meet his gaze. He leaned in, braced his hands on the counter behind her on either side of her hips and took a deep breath.

She held hers. Having him suddenly this close was overwhelming and she fought to remember what they had been talking about.

He reminded her quickly. “How about all of the above?” His voice was lower now, huskier, and his eyes studied hers closely. “How about reassuring me that you wouldn’t dream of doing any of those things?”

She didn’t like that he doubted her. She wanted to stomp and yell and demand that he believe in her. But at the same time, this might just be perfect. She’d been off-balance since meeting him. He shook her up, as much as she hated it. Clearly her conduct during off-duty hours interested him, and worried him. This might be her chance to turn the tables a bit. Not that getting a man like Adam off-balance would be easy. But it would, very likely, be fun.

“I’ll tell you this much. Drugs and prostitution aren’t my thing.”

He pressed closer and she felt the edge of the counter against her low back. Perhaps it was her decision to try to overwhelm him for a change, but for the first time, when he got close to her, dropped his voice low and looked at her like he wanted to make all of her fantasies come true, she reveled in it.

She found the scent of his cologne and the warmth of the arm braced on the counter beside her appealing rather than aggressive. In fact, this close, she found that his blue eyes, swirling with emotion, were impossible to resist. He was a passionate man. He cared about his daughter, his household, and stood firm in his convictions. It was his unflinching devotion that made her want to know more about him. For instance, what else stirred Adam Steele’s passions?

“So tell me, what is your kind of thing?”

The huskiness in his voice made her nerve endings dance.

She studied his full lips for a long moment before her eyes traced his strong jaw
shadowed with dark stubble. Eventually, she moved up slowly to again meet the midnight blue eyes that seemed to pierce straight through to her soul.

“Arrogant millionaires, evidently.”

As his lips met hers, she momentarily stopped disliking anything about him.
Adam’s lips were demanding as they moved, leading Jaden along on a stirring journey. But his mouth was warm and gentle, the edges of his lips rough from his late night whiskers.

She slid her arms around his neck and let her knees get just a little weak, let her little sigh escape and held him just a little tighter. There were so many things that she wanted to do and say and feel…

Then he pulled back.

She blinked as if someone had flipped on a fluorescent light in a previously pitch-black room. Slowly her eyes focused on Adam’s face.

Adam. Lips. Kissing. Oh, crap.

“Jaden…” His voice was hoarse.

“Don’t.” She focused on the tiny, opaque button on his shirt collar. She resisted the urge to press her lips together, to relive the surprising, intimate moment for just one more second.


Don’t ever stop kissing me.

She was in big trouble.

“Let’s just change the subject. In fact, I think I’ll even change the scenery. I need to go.”