Since the print version of A Fiery Secret became available just last Tuesday at Amazon and My Bookstore and More, I’m going to give a $10 Gift Card to Starbucks to the winner of my new contest! Why Starbucks? Investigative reporter Catherine Steel goes frequently to her mother’s coffeehouse. Her mother’s place is called Leslie’s Coffee House. For the second prize, the winner can choose a free download of one of my three Samhain books - No Greater Loss, A Fiery Secret, or Never The Same!
You can do one of two things to be entered in this contest. Read the excerpt and email the answer by using the contact link on my website OR post in the comment box about a school employee that was important in your life. It doesn’t have to be a janitor. It can be a teacher, cafeteria worker, coach, school secretary…you get the point. Or just post a comment to say hello or about anything is fine! Posting a comment or emailing me the answer to the excerpt question will get you in the drawing for a chance to win.
I want to mention that some might think it’s a bit strange to have the dead person in A Fiery Secret be a janitor instead of another school employee. I know some schools have cleaning crews come in, and the students never really get to know these people. Well, when I wrote this book, I thought of my friend, Archie. He was a janitor in my elementary school. Archie was kind to everyone and loved children. He even gave me candy bars and always had something nice to say to me as I stood in the lunch line. Being the youngest of five children and very shy, he made me feel special. My own children have liked the janitors at their schools as well. My youngest daughter, Amanda, talks to her janitor, Jimmy, at her high school. He’s always takes the time to listen to her.
About Max from Ch. One and QUESTION at end of the excerpt!
Because everyone loved Max, our class had dedicated our yearbook to him. The decision had been unanimous among the seniors. As yearbook editor, I still remembered one person’s opposition to our selection. The school secretary, Miss Evelyn Kent, flung open the door to the yearbook room, shouting, “The yearbook shouldn’t be dedicated to a janitor. Mercy, students, think. Teachers, administration, coaches…All have had positive influence on your lives. How could you choose Max for this honor?”
I walked into Mom’s coffeehouse on Thursday night wearing an awesome black skirt with black knee high boots and a cream colored sweater. Mom was beside me instantly and gave me a hug.
“You look terrific,” she said, wearing a black skirt herself and a pink sweater with her pearl necklace. Her hair was pulled back in a chignon. She smiled. “We were thinking alike except your skirt shows more.”
I returned her smile. “We both have impeccable taste.” I took a quick glimpse around the room. “Looks like you have a nice crowd for Mr. Jansen’s reading.”
“I hope they buy his poetry book. Would you like coffee?”
“I’d like a cappuccino.”
While Mom got cappuccinos for both of us, she said, “Let’s sit down and chat. I haven’t talked to you since Tuesday.”
We sat at an empty table with orange and yellow mums in a vase with a yellow ribbon around the base. I leaned over to sniff a fat orange candle. “It smells like pumpkin pie.”
Mom nodded. “I wanted to set the right atmosphere for Dale’s reading, and I’m going to dim the lights when he starts. He has a few Halloween poems about ghosts so I decided to put orange candles on all the tables.”
“That’s cool. Did you tell Mr. Jansen I’d like to talk to him tonight?”
“I did. He’s glad you’re interested in finding out more about Max’s death. I guess he tried to tell the police he didn’t think it was an accident. Actually, Dale knew Max better than I realized. He said they were good friends.”
“Max touched many lives with his kindness. If he was murdered, I want to catch the killer and get him or her behind bars.”
Mom leaned forward and said, “I liked Max and want to find out what really happened. If you need my help, you have it.”
I cringed inside at Mom’s suggestion, remembering the last time I was investigating a big story and she went with me. We carefully dodged the surveillance cameras and snuck into a building where I needed to find information to prove what I suspected about a prominent CEO. Keeping hidden was crucial, so when Mom’s ankles made a cracking noise as we tiptoed around, I lived in fear the security guards might hear us. It was so bad that I wondered if she had a calcium deficiency. That’s right… I meant to pick up some calcium tablets for her and never did.
And I also realized why Dad never takes her fishing with him. She can’t be still for more than a few minutes.
I knew better than to get into a discussion again about why she shouldn’t go with me if I did some undercover sleuthing. She’d say, “What should I do in my spare time? Knit booties for grandbabies I don’t have?” On second thought, she’d only said that once. She doesn’t knit. But she frequently has talked about me meeting the right man and getting married.
Thinking of babies and marriage reminded me of Ricardo so I told her, “I talked to Ricardo last night and he’s getting married to a girl named Anita.”
Mom raised her sparse eyebrows. “I bet that was a surprise. How do you feel about it?”
I noticed she’d gotten better at coloring in her brows. When they first were thinning, she told me how intimidated she felt using makeup and hated that she no longer had nice, full brows.
“I was sad when he told me. I still have strong feelings for him. And Angie’s told me I’m too picky when it comes to men. She didn’t mean it about Ricardo, but just in general, and I started thinking how Ricardo did treat me well and we had fun together.”
“I know you two did have fun. Your dad and I liked Ricardo a lot.”
I shrugged. “I guess I had my chance to marry him. I shouldn’t whine now about losing him. It’s just that I might not meet anyone as good as him.”
Mom patted my arm. “It’s going to be fine. You’ll meet someone you love and want to marry.” She grinned. “And you won’t have to settle. Anyhow, you’re not the type to settle.”
“I like being single except when I see Angie so happy with Connor and Brian, then I start thinking how nice it’d be to have a husband and a family.”
Mom took a sip of coffee. “I have a stipulation. Your future husband should live close enough or move here. Then when you have a family, I can help you out when you need me to. It’s best to live close to the wife’s mother.”
I knew why Mom said that. Her family lived a few hours away, but my dad’s family lived in Park City. When Adam and I were small, Grandma Steel said, “I already raised my family so don’t expect me to help with your children.”
I grinned. “I guess Costa Rica wouldn’t have been close enough for your help with the grandbabies.”
“Not in a million years.” Mom stood. “I better get this show on the road.”
QUESTION: What is the name of Catherine’s old boyfriend from Costa Rica? Email answer to question OR leave a comment to be in the drawing.
CONTEST ENDS: March 2nd at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time - Will post here on blog!