Such a mess! and chapter 22 of the voice in the forest

Argh! Such a mess!

Hi Everybody!

Okay, this week started with what I thought would be great news and turned into a hot mess.

As you know, Cupcake Queens, the second book in A Comfort Food Romance series comes out next week.

WELL, I got my copies of the paperback and oh! What’s this? The print run was wrong. 

Like not a little bit, a lot a bit. 

The first print run had the right, wonderful cover, but the inside? Yeah… Personal Pan is the wrong book to be inside the cover of Cupcake Queens!

Now, I think all the offending books have been found and pulled. BUT, if you get an incorrect copy, I’M SORRY! And I will make it right. 

If you get it from a place you can return it, do that and they should send you a corrected copy. If you can’t return it, email me with a pic of the book and your address. I will make it right.

…. Yikes. 

I can’t tell you how much this sucks and how many times I swore and wanted to pull my hair out over this.

BUT, I must continue and pretend I know how to handle with the printer messes up because I must keep writing. I mean… yay for deadlines forcing you to keep going I guess?

big news incoming!

Next week is the launch of Cupcake Queens!
You all are the first to know what the next book in the series will be titled. Drumroll please…..
Brewed Anew will come out in February!
Yay! I’m very excited for you to read Marcus’s second chance romance.
AND, after the release of Cupcake Queens, I have even more book news, this time it’s about Crossroad Inn, the serial I currently have on Vella, it’s also a huge announcement for something coming later this year!
But, without further ado, the next chapter of our newsletter story:

the voice in the forest

Chapter 22


“Are you okay?” I asked, touching his arm.

He snapped his hand up to grip mine. 

“This… there is no way I remember my own pram, right? But I remember seeing this before,” he said, his voice hushed and shaking.

“Maybe you do because your memory lost so much. Like it’s making it up to you by giving you this little bit.” And maybe in the 90 years since his death, he had just seen another baby being pushed around in it. But I kept that possibility to myself.

“I…” Blackwell crouched down and ran a hand along the edge of the pram, wiping a layer of dust away to reveal what I first thought was black to be deep navy blue, “This was mine.”

How did he know that? He had to have been far too young when he used a pram. I started to question if his sanity would remain intact after our little jaunt up memory lane.

“Long after I was too old to ride in it, it stayed in my bedroom because I used to like to climb up in it and sleep. When the house would creak, or a storm came, I crawled into this.”

His voice was pain, as if ache existed on a frequency of its own and Blackwell spoke it into existence.

“You remember that?” I whispered, my voice just as insubstantial as the dust in the air.

“Arabella, look,” he pushed the bottom of the pram up from underneath and it tented in the middle in a line, “the support in it is broken because I was too big.”

He was right. It was broken and that made sense as to how it got that way. But the effect it had on him… maybe going up to the attic was a mistake.

“Thank you,” he said, standing up and facing me, a small smile on his face.

“What? Why?” All I did was bring him to a place that caused him pain.

“Because, when we started up that stairwell, I had so little of my past, I knew so little,” he turned to look back at the pram, his fingers on the edge of it, “and now I have this.”

“I, um,” I shook my head, trying to find the right words to say. I felt like I was suddenly back to talking to my mother right after I got out of the hospital. Lost. “I’ll let you, um, I’m just going to check some other things.”

None of what I said was even remotely coherent, but how was I supposed to find words for: I’ll let you have your deserved breakdown about your long lost memories while I go look for more clues that got you to this point?

Around the corner from where Blackwell stayed next to his pram, a stack of boxes looked like they were from the same time period as the pram. They were more like tailored suit boxes in various patterns than the brown cardboard in other areas, or even the plastic totes.

Some of the boxes looked like they might have started out pale pink or white with small flowers on them. The dust was so thick, an age weighed so heavily on them, they were closer to dark beige than whatever their original color was.

Other boxes looked black with thin stripes of what was either white or pale gray. 

I ran my hand along the edge of one of the dark boxes and while a thick layer of dirt wiped onto my palm, leaving an even heavier coating behind than my hands had already collected. But the color was too distorted even without the dust to tell me if these boxes were somehow matching the blue of the pram.

Taking the top off one of the boxes, the interior was just clothes. I almost put the lid back on, but peeking out from under a non descriptor white shirt was what looked like the tapered end of a suit vest that reminded me of the one Blackwell wore. 

Looking at the top of the box in my hand, contemplating closing up the box and letting Blackwell look through it, I saw the color without the aging. It was deep navy blue with pale gray stripes. 

Did I just find his things?

He was still somewhere behind me, so I pushed the white shirt out of the way and there was a vest that looked so much like the one he wore, it sent my heart hammering within my chest.

I put the lid aside and finished looking through the box, while it seemed likely this was a box of his clothes, that’s all it was. Clothes.

But I was at least in the right time period, and it seemed like the sizes of the clothes meant this box was put up here after whatever happened to him, happened.

“Um, Blackwell,” I called, cringing at myself for interrupting him.

He came to stand beside me, looking down at the contents of the box.

“Are those… mine?” 

“I think so.” Turning to look up at him, I saw more emotions cross his features in a minute than my mother usually showed in a day. From anger to pain, heart break to elation, and landing on exhaustion. 

For a dead person, Blackwell was so alive I envied him.

“We should look through the rest of these,” he said, and started unstacking the boxes and spreading them around us.

I took a seat, cross legged, surrounded by boxes that might hold the keys to his past, I swallowed and waited for him to open the first box.

His hand shook as he brushed his hair to the side and looked up at me from under his lashes.

“No matter what we find, I never would have looked up here if it wasn’t for you. So, thank you,” he said before he took hold of the box I already looked through and carefully picked up the white shirt.

The no matter what part of his statement sent my stomach through the attic floor and down to the first floor of the house. There was no telling how traumatic what we find might end up being for him. 

And, as much as I wanted to tell him to stop looking, that maybe none of this was worth the trauma it might cause, he deserved answers.

I opened a box and found a collection of toys. Wooden carts with wheels, carved horses, a ratty teddy bear, and even a set of jacks, but they told me nothing other than at one point he was child with many things to play with.

But the next box…

Opening the next box revealed a pile of loose paper and on the top, a stack of what looked like journals.

He was staring, transfixed by a coat in his hands.

Part of me wanted to look through the journals, to crack them open at least and look through them before I said anything. As if I could protect him from the contents. Which wasn’t fair. These were his memories. No matter what was in them, even if it was just a ledger of plantings, or some kind of school work. 

If these held his writings, his handwriting, it seemed like the worst kind of intrusion to look through them without him.

“Blackwell,” I said, and he looked up at me, “We should look through these.”

Tilting the box his way so he could see the contents, he went pale.

“My initials,” he mumbled.

Looking down at the box in my hands, one of the journals had slid off the ones beneath it, revealing one of them embossed with the silver letters, M. A. B.

His initials. We found something that might tell us his name.

Ta da!

If you get a messed up copy of Cupcake Queens, just let me know. I will do right by you. And I’m very excited for Brewed Anew and I hope you are too after you get to know Marcus in Cupcake Queens.

Tell me what you think of the new short story and Crossroad Inn if you’ve read it. 

Next week is launch week! And hopefully I will be able to share the big news I have to keep secret squirrel right now, yay!

As always, happy reading!

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