Who's a crazy cat lady?

You are, Mel. 

You are, Mel. 

When I heard about the Crazy Cat Lady box set, I really wanted to be a part of it. After all, if there’s one thing that my books have in common—besides hockey, feisty heroines, and clinical sex scenes—it’s cats. There’s a cat in every single book and novella. In fact, once when my editor suggested that I remove a cat character, I explained that cats are my thing. So instead, I increased the role of the cat to make her important.

The Crazy Cat lady box set is filled with romances where cats play a major role. I’ve read and enjoyed all nine novellas. Some stories feature big cats like lions and panther shifters, while others feature domestic cats, usually in multiples. The romances range from sweet to sweaty.

My contribution is called Mr. November. It’s about Vancouver Vice tough guy, Marty Devonshire. We met Marty in The Tao of Hockey where he was the only player who offered genuine friendship to Eric Fairburn. Now it’s big Marty’s turn to fall, and he falls hard for petite Elaine Salang. They meet at a cat shelter where the Vice are shooting a charity calendar. But poor Marty, who’s not too experienced with women, blows his chance with Elaine. Luckily, his new teammates have his back and give him advice on how to win over women. The advice ranges from sensible to hilarious. And does all this advice work? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

How many women have even seen the cat? Other than me

How many women have even seen the cat? Other than me

Other books in the box set are:

The Vet & the Geek by Sidney Bristol

When veterinarian Raul is reunited with his long lost cat he gets a lot more than he bargained for in Miranda, the curvy, sassy woman who can wipe the floor with his subpar gaming skills. But Miranda doesn’t know if Raul is flirting with her, or if he’s the stalker she’s lived in fear of for years. Is he the crazy cat guy of her dreams, or is he the man who wants her—dead or alive?

Cat Scratch Fever by L.C. Alleyne

Inspector Rafael Montigue detects the scent of a potential mate during a delegate meeting. Kristin Wallin is working undercover to bring down the Brazilian Minister’s drug ring. When terrorists attack, Rafe exposes his panther shifter identity in order to protect Kristin, but she surprises him with secrets of her own that make him look like an innocent kitty cat.

 Decker & Joy: A North Pole Unlimited Romance by Elle Rush

Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing Christmas prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat shelter manager Joy McCall needs help figuring out who broke into Kitten Caboodle and made off with her foster kittens. If they work together, everyone may get a happily-ever-after.

Cats in the Cradle by Jerri Drennen

Being accused of murder by red-haired beauty Beatrice Dailey, a woman known to be the crazy cat lady in the neighborhood, somehow kick-starts Sam Littman’s floundering career. Soon he finds himself writing her as the main character in his novel—but as fact & fiction start to blur, Sam & Beatrice tumble headfirst into something most unexpected.

Forgive Me by Lori Whyte

When a neighbor’s cat deposits a severed finger on Rachel Connor’s doorstep, the last thing she expects is that it’ll bring Grady Randall back into her life. He shattered her heart when they were teenagers, but she finds herself turning to him when a menacing stranger shows up at her door. Can their reunion & reignited attraction survive the night or will the murderer strike again?

Sanctuary by Sukie Chapin

When Indiana finds her life is in shambles & her exotic cat sanctuary on the verge of bankruptcy, her only hope rests in the capable hands of a tall, dark, & bearded stranger. Jake’s on the hunt for the only good thing left in his life, his lost lion Loki, but he never expected his search to lead him to beautiful, anguished Indy & her dilapidated refuge. As their attraction grows fiercer than the lions they love, Indy & Jake must decide if they can overcome old wounds & fears to find sanctuary in each other’s arms.

Mr. Hot Stuff by Abby Cheshire

After eight awful & all too memorable blind dates in a row, all Lily wants is to stay home with a good book & her five cats. But when her latest rescue cat Captain Kitt goes klepto & steals a set of keys that belong to the hunky fireman in the neighborhood – Lily may be closer to a perfect match than she ever imagined.

Dress Blues by Lisa Carlisle 

When Vivi Parker volunteers at a fundraiser for a cat shelter, she’s stunned to run into Jack Conroy, the one man she couldn’t have, but never forgot. While they served in the Marines, any relationship between them was off-limits. Years later in Boston, the rules have changed. But so have they.

This purrfect box set releases on October 11 and costs only 99¢. Bargoon! You can buy it on presale here: Amazon iBooks Nook Kobo

 

An Irresistible Force is coming soon!

It's finally here! I've been writing away, and now I've completed not one, but two books. One is a novella that comes out in October, but the other is the second book in the Vancouver Vice series. And it launches on July 22nd.

When Amanda Richardson was a teenager, she had a huge crush on hockey superstar, Chris Luczak. Now over a decade later, she walks into a boardroom and there he is—looking as hunky and confident as ever. But working with Chris is the least of her problems, since her family’s hockey team is in crisis mode.

Chris Luczak hated retiring from his one true love: hockey. He’s been going through the motions at head office, but now he’s been offered a real challenge. All he has to do is persuade the ownership of the Vancouver Vice that—given their current problems—their best option is to sell the team.

At first, all they do is argue. Amanda has a million reasons not to trust Chris, beginning with his reputation as a womanizing playboy. But she needs all the hockey knowledge inside that sculpted muscular body—not that she’s noticed, of course. And Chris realizes that the longer he puts off this deal, the more time he’ll get to spend with this fiery woman.

Can they work together to save the Vancouver Vice?

Sunny Side

Are you on my mailing list? If you have been on it since the beginning, you've already received three short stories, three deleted scenes, and notice of hundreds of free books (not all mine, of course!)

You can still get the latest freebie. When you sign up, you get a copy of my new novella, Sunny Side. It's Vancouver Vice 1.5, and takes place after The Tao of Hockey.

It's the story of an optimistic hockey fan named Rosie, a tech genius named Peter, and the dating app that brings them together. Sign up on the sidebar on the right. 

I just wanted to add that the research for this book has resulted in my receiving ads to meet nice men in my area every time I go on the internet. Oh well, better than the email offers I get to meet Russian women.

Finally, if you're not already sold—did I mention free?—here's an excerpt:

Number 12 skated behind the net to make a pass to the next player and gave Louise a full view of his face.

    “Oh. My. God.”

    I smirked. “Told you so.”

    “He’s gorgeous. Like Chris Hemsworth hot. Those eyes, those cheekbones, those lips—everything. I can only see his neck, but it looks like he’s really built too.”

    “He is. I Googled him, and there’s a photo of him in a t-shirt and shorts at training camp and everything looks… amazing. And he’s got a huge package.”

    “What?” Louise dropped the binoculars and stared at me.

    I laughed. “Just kidding. You can’t tell that from a photo.” Unless his legs were positioned in just the right way and the shorts fabric was clingy, which they hadn’t been. 

Find your Spirit Animal

One thing I’ve learned to love about writing is research. If I get an idea for a character who is out of my personal experience—like being a 23 year-old guy—I have to do research. And if this 23 year-old is a zen winger who is completely in touch with his spiritual side, then I have to do a ton of research.

In The Tao of Hockey, Eric Fairburn sorts out the important people in his life by deciding what their spirit animal would be. It’s his way of determining the essence of someone’s nature.

Here's Eric explaining spirit animals to Josie:

“Okay, let’s talk about what your spirit animal would be.”

“My what?”

“Your spirit animal. We all have animal guides who appear to help with the problems or opportunities in our lives.”

“How do we find them?” Josie leaned forward and looked interested for the first time all night.

“Well, the best way would be for you to do some kind of physical journey, like a long meditation or a vision quest. An animal might appear to you in a dream.

“But the most important thing is being conscious of what’s around you—like animals reappearing in your life. Take a lion, for example. You might see a lion photo on the side of the bus, or when you turn on the TV an African nature show might be on.”

“I don’t have a TV,” she said.

“On your laptop. Whatever. Notice what’s around you and be sensitive to the signs.”

Josie cracked a new breadstick in two. “There is one thing that keeps appearing in my life repeatedly and unexpectedly.”

“Really, what?”

She pointed the breadstick at me. I laughed, and Josie smiled.

“If I had to guess, I would say your spirit animal is an owl,” I told her.

“An owl? I think I’m more the lion type.”

“A spirit animal doesn’t mean an animal you identify with. It’s your guide animal.”

“What does an owl say about me—that I stay up all night?”

“No, it says that you’re smart and knowledgeable, but you’re watchful. You like to look around and take stock of things before you act. Maybe a little detached.”

What do you think your spirit animal would be? If you don't want to do a vision quest in the desert, there is an easier way to find out. 

Here are two quizzes to determine your spirit animal. I took them both, and I’m an owl. Just like Josie, except minus the hot 23 year-old boyfriend.

http://www.spiritanimal.info/spirit-animal-quiz/

http://www.jerismithready.com/quiz/

Do you agree with the spirit animal you got? Is that your personality type?

The Launch of Tao

The Tao of Hockey is on sale today. Cue the brass band.

Man, it’s been torture having the book done for three weeks, but not getting to hear what readers think of it. When I finish writing a book, I’m so hyped that I want to run up to people and shove the book in their face and say, “Read my new book!” Then watch them until they finish and then ask what they thought. But given that would be super creepy and weird, I’ll have to settle for hearing from my readers—via reviews, emails, and facebook. I’m pretty damn excited about this!

However, the best way for me to calm down is to keep busy. And I wanted to tell you about what I’m writing right now. I’m creating a short story about the Vancouver Vice—the team you’ll meet in The Tao of Hockey.

This story involves a faithful hockey fan, a new dating app, and a geeky guy. The title is Sunny Side, and it will be free. However, the only way to get this tale is to be on my mailing list. So make sure you’re signed up, right here.

And if you read The Tao of Hockey, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Tao has launched!



The Tao of Hockey is the first book in my new series about an AHL team called the Vancouver Vice. 

Here's my elevator pitch: Eric Fairburn has one last shot at an NHL career, so distraction—in the form of a beautiful woman—is the last thing he needs.


The early reviews are in:

“…these characters are resilient and spunky, yet have a sweet, vulnerable side.”
Chelsy

“I loved this couple!!! this is not your typical book where the heroine is sweet, loving and quiet... nope Josie is as bad ass as you can think of!!” 
Logan

“I never read a book about a Yogi-health-nut-hockey player with a pretty sordid past before and I thought what kind of seduction techniques would this guy even have????” 
Amanda

“…different from most other romance books out there.” Jessica

You can find the book here .




Coming soon...


The Tao of Hockey is now available for pre-order. Find it here on Amazon.com. And here's a sneak peek:


Cover Reveal for The Tao of Hockey



Finally, my evil plan is coming together. Okay, perhaps it’s not evil or a plan—but my next book is coming together. The Tao of Hockey is getting closer. The first draft has been completed and beta-read. The feedback from the beta reads has been whipped into the second draft. The second draft is currently at the editor. 

The book is the first one in a series I'm writing about a fictional AHL team, the Vancouver Vice. Here’s what Tao is about:
After being selected in the first-round of the NHL draft, Eric Fairburn was in a car accident that destroyed his career. Now, five years later, he’s getting one last chance. If he can make the Vancouver Vice of the AHL, it could be the first step to making his hockey dreams come true. There are only two things standing in his way—the coach from hell and his own self-destructive ways.

The one talent he hasn’t lost is his way with women. So he’s surprised to be shot down by a mysterious woman he meets in a bar. Eric finds himself pursuing her when he should be focusing on hockey. Yet he’s drawn to her confidence and independence, believing that might be the key to fixing his own on-ice issues.

And meantime, the cover is finally done. My poor cover designer went through the wringer on this one. It was a tough balance because while the book is full of the usual hockey drama, but the hero is a zen philosopher. Finally, I think she tired of my nitpicking and went full tilt make-Mel-happy. She changed the colour to purple and added bokeh lights which I love.  I would put those little light circles on the whole world if I could. So, here we are. What do you think?

I am really excited about this book. What’s not to like? It’s got an attractive hero, a kick-ass heroine, a fast-paced plot, and lots of hockey goodness. The launch date will be December 26th. I can hardly wait for you to read it.


Of Cookies and Men


If my books were a house, I’ve been renovating them one room at a time. First I did all the bedrooms, one for Kelly, one for Jimmy, and one for Phil. Wouldn’t that be a fun place to live? Now I’ve gotten to the kitchen and what a lovely room it is. New Subzero fridge and Wolf cooktop where Frankie loves to cook up dinner for Jake.

That analogy will make sense only if you’ve read all my books. What I’m trying to say is that I have been redoing my covers one by one. Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Parts One, Two, and Three all got new covers. And now for the last one—How The Cookie Crumbles! My designer came up with this great cover, which perfectly communicates the laughter and eating that make up Frankie and Jake’s relationship. Because we’re not putting sex on the cover.

A few people have asked me whether there will ever be a sequel to this book. The answer is a resounding maybe. I have something written in rough, but it’s kind of a downer, so I’m putting it away until I can figure out how to solve the book’s problems. Sadly, that may or may not happen.

And meanwhile I’m proceeding on my new series… more about that next post!
  



Catch 'em all!


The Hockey Is My Boyfriend trilogy traces the story of Kelly Tanaka, intrepid girl hockey player, as she grows and develops into a confident woman. Part One shows the blossoming of her first love in high school. Part Two is takes place during her university years both on and off the ice. Part Three traces her life after graduation and her eventual happy ending. 

The Relaunch


It's Kelly and Phil. Or K-Phil.

Well, my evil plans are coming to fruition. The relaunch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend is well under way, with new editions of Part One and Part Two uploading onto Amazon as I write this. A new cover for How The Cookie Crumbles is coming as well. And the only tasks remaining are a final read-through of Part Three and then off for some special formatting with the guru of formatting, Jaye Manus.


It's Kelly + Jimmy. Couple name: Jelly.

I also wanted to sing the praises of my cover designer, Murphy Rae. She’s at Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae. I found her ages ago while websurfing, but I didn’t pull the trigger on a redesign until I could see the end of Part Three. I have to confess it was hard to find a cover designer I really liked, since I’m pretty fussy. My day job is in visual arts, so I have strong opinions on what I like.


Imagine you’re a cover designer and your client says she needs three covers. And the girl has to look the same, but the two guys have to look different. Also, she’s half-Asian, athletic, and she can’t be wearing dresses or too much make-up. Um, if you could add a little hint of hockey, that would be good. If I were the designer, I’d be pulling the eject button, but Murphy Rae was extremely professional and came up with covers that I love. She even did surgery on one model so her nose looked more Asian.

Also, did you know if you search for half/Asian/women on stock photo sites, this is what you get:

 What’s really embarrassing is how long it took me to figure that out.


I am still writing the bridge story, but will get it to everyone on the mailing list this week. Meantime, reread Parts One and Two, and get ready for the awesomeness that is Part Three! (She said modestly. Hey, I’m just so excited for you to read it.)

It's Kelly + ?

Great News


Lots of good news! Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Three is finally done. It’s in copy-editing right now and unless there are drastic changes or formatting issues, I am planning to release the book on June 1. There will be no presales so I can get the book to you the soonest—after all, it’s only four months later then I said it would be.

I have been working and reworking this book for the last seven months, no lie. Part Three went through a lot of different iterations, but I believe it’s a lot stronger now and has some interesting structural quirks. I’m really excited to hear your reactions.

I am currently writing the bridge story, so I will send it out in my newsletter next week. And if you’re not like me—completely immersed in the life of Kelly Tanaka—it may be time to reread Parts One and Two. If you’re not on the email list yet, you can sign up right over there -----> 

And I have new covers too. I’ve been working with a fantastic cover designer and I’m redoing all my covers. I now have a marketing mentor, author Zoe York. Her first directive was to get my books looking more like other hockey romances. So I have done that, and I will do a full relaunch of my books on June 1st as well. Party! Confetti! Just in time for the Stanley Cup Finals too.

I want to thank everyone who took a chance on me when my covers were different. I like to think that you are all people who put writing first, which is what I do when I choose books. I think my book sales have been great and I’ve been been in touch so many lovely readers. However, Zoe thinks I can reach a wider audience. And that’s what all authors want, right?


I will reveal all the new covers soon, but here’s a sneak peek!


Yup, full wrap covers. That means real, live books too.



Where's that book, Mel?

Not reading my book, since it's only available as an e-book.

Whew, it’s February. How did that happen?

I’ve been working hard on Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Three. I want to wrap this series up strong, so my editing process has been extensive. Apparently my inner critic could hardly wait to be unleashed. However, I decided on a fairly big change in December, which has necessitated a huge re-edit and a ton of rewriting.

The more you write, the better a writer you become. While this may sound like a truism, it has made writing this trilogy a lot harder. I had the entire book written in draft form before I published Book One. However as the series progressed, I became a more critical reader and writer. This has resulted in major restructuring and rewriting of the books. I think the final result is a stronger book and so I’m giving Book Three all the time it deserves.


So apologies to anyone holding their breath and waiting for the final book. You’ve probably passed out by now. There is some good news though—a time jump means that there will be a free mini-story to bridge Books Two and Three. I will write it as soon as this book goes in for final edits.  Make sure you’re on the mailing list to receive it.

Hockey Is For Girls



Working on Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Three, I have been thinking a lot about women’s hockey. Our heroine, Kelly Tanaka, is dealing with the end of her competitive hockey career and what lies for her beyond hockey.

But in the real world, women’s hockey is alive and well. I was able to watch the All Star Game of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League on national television. The game itself wasn’t that great, but what was awe-inspiring was the camaraderie between the women playing on both teams. Although their expenses are covered, they play for no money—only for the chance to play at a high level and build the future of women’s hockey.

And speaking of the future, the crowd at All Star Game was made up mainly of young girls who love hockey. Girls don’t play hockey for the same reason as boys. There may be college opportunities but there is no money. There is no NHL paycheque at the end of the rainbow, or even work in the AHL, ECHL, or Europe. For the very best, there is only the tiny chance to play for the national team. Most girls play just because they love the game.

In today’s Globe and Mail, I read an article about backyard rinks, by the wonderful hockey writer Roy MacGregor. It’s filled with heart-warming reader photos and stories. One in particular moved me. It shows a photo of two young hockey players lit up on a small rink in the darkness, like an Edward Hopper painting. Here is Jan Krahenbil’s story:


“The rink was built this year by my husband for our two children. Our 11-year-old daughter asked for it in particular so she could practise her shooting. She has been out there for hours every day. We live on a busy street in Winnipeg and, since the rink is in the front yard, many cars drive by and honk as they see her skating by herself. One of the pictures was taken at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. On her own, she will wake up and bug her older brother to go out with her. He usually obliges, but when he doesn’t, she’ll be out there on her own that early in the morning. My husband and I argued the day he came home from Canadian Tire with a $400 bill for floodlights and extension cords, but given the amount of time our daughter spends out there, I now agree it was money well spent.”

Playing for the love of the game. It doesn't get any sweeter than that.

Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two: Deleted Scene

Dogs will not appear regularly on this blog. Signed, Rex.
Surprise!

Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two is now available for pre-sale here. It takes place two years after Part One, so heres a little update for you.

When I passed my new book on to a beta reader, she sent me an electronic groan that said, I’m not going remember all the characters from Part One. I was shocked, since I’ve been obsessively rewriting about Kelly and the gang for months. But if you’re normal and unable to remember characters for weeks on end, then this post is for you. 

Originally the first chapter of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two, was an update on all Kelly’s friends from high school—especially Phil Davidson. But most of Part Two actually takes place in new settings with new characters, so I decided to change the beginning. Thus, I deleted this chapter, which I am now presenting for your reading pleasure. It takes place nearly two years after we last saw Kelly speeding away from everything familiar, in Donna Crofton’s car. Kelly is back in Vancouver, the summer after her second year at McGill.

“I still can’t believe you made me buy a bikini,” I told April as she drove us home from Metrotown. I peeked into the bag at the two tiny scraps of brightly-printed fabric. They barely looked big enough for a Hawaiian purse dog.

“I can’t believe that you didn’t look at yourself in the mirror and decide to start living in bikinis. You actually have abs of steel, whereas mine seem to be made of Play-Doh. Seriously, Kelly, you’re in better shape every time I see you!”

“I had to be in good shape to do the West Coast Trail,” I explained. Keeping in game shape was easier if you set goals during the summer. So in early June, I had hiked the Vancouver Island trail with three of my teammates from McGill. It took us a week, the scenery was spectacular, the camping was insane, and we had seen whales and a sea lion. We all had to be in top condition to take on the trail with fully-loaded backpacks. The ladders alone were a challenge, but it was tougher still with my competitive friends trying to outdo each other.

“I liked meeting your friends from McGill,” April said. “And you know what was weird? Seeing how proud you were of Vancouver while you showed everyone around. I guess you have a different perspective since you left here, I take the city for granted.”

“I love Vancouver,” I declared. I had to show those Easterners what real mountains and big trees look like.”

“If you like it so much, why are you leaving so soon?” April complained. I was leaving in three days for a job at a hockey camp in New Brunswick.

“Don’t you start. Between my friends and my parents, I feel like I’ve spent half the summer defending why I’m not going to be here for the other half. Teaching at a hockey camp will be a great experience for me.”

“Too bad it’s not closer. Although I suspect you have ulterior motives for fleeing, like avoiding commitment.”

“This is actually why I’m leaving Vancouver. I’m hoping to find a place where the amateur psychologists don’t already know my flaws.”

“No wonder you’re going to the Maritimes, Vancouver and Montréal are already out. I noticed that Deirdre can read you like a book. She’s a hoot.”

Deirdre Tough was my best friend on the McGill team. She was the one who got me the hockey camp job. It was hers originally, but then she got a chance to join the national team training camp in Calgary so she recommended me instead.

“Are we not going to your house?” I wondered as April turned up my street.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to mention that I have a late date,” April explained.

“Who’s the lucky guy?” I wondered.

“Damien. Remember, you met him at a couple of weeks ago? He’s doing a play, so we’re getting together afterwards.”

April’s acting career had gone up and down. She had a recurring role on a teen drama in L.A., but that had just been cancelled. So now she had nothing going on and was doing every possible audition. She pulled the car into my driveway and yanked up the parking brake. “I still have half an hour, so I can stay for a chat,” she declared.

“Okay. My mom was baking up a storm today, so there’s probably something good to eat.”

“No way!” April patted her stomach. “Abs of flab, remember?”

We walked up to the front door. The house looked strangely dark since my whole family had been there when I left.

“That’s weird. Maybe they all went to a movie or something,” I said. But the door was unlocked. I opened it, and suddenly all the lights came on.

“Surprise!”

To my shock, there was a big crowd of people, with my mom and dad in front. My mouth opened, but not one word came out. Everyone was watching my reaction and loving the complete shock on my face.

My mom came over and gave me a big hug. “It’s a surprise party, darling. For your birthday and because you’re going away.”

“It’s not my birthday,” was all I managed to say.

My mom laughed. “I know, dear, I was there. But you won’t be here on the real day.”

Someone turned on music. I managed to close my mouth and look around. All my good friends from high school were here, as well as a few of my parent’s close friends. There were even a couple of McGill friends who lived here.

Cameron zipped over. “Hi, April. Can I get you a drink?” Without even turning my way, he added, “Uh, you too, Kelly.”

“We’ll both have Cosmopolitans,” April declared, and off he went.

“Unless my parents have conjured up a bartender, I don’t know how he’s going to get a complicated mixed drink in this house.”

April flipped her hair. “When a guy wants to be your white knight, he wants a difficult task to perform. So until there be dragons in the Cove, a Cosmopolitan will have to do.”

“I can’t believe he still likes you, high school was two years ago!”

“It’s only because he hasn’t actually dated me. Reality sucks,” April said.

Charmaine came over, and she wasn’t alone. There was a tall, skinny dark-haired guy with her. He was nerdy-cute.

“Kelly! Happy early birthday.” She gave me a hug and then introduced us to her date. “April, Kelly, this is Will.”

We both smiled and greeted him politely. Even April was on her best behaviour because Charmaine had been mentioning Will, each time with goofy grin that was quite unlike her. Not only had she started dating at university, but now she wasn’t even dating Chinese guys—much to her parent’s disapproval. But not only did Will seem smart and nice, I liked the way he was looking at Charmaine with puppy dog eyes. They were both smitten.

Cameron returned with two red drinks in martini glasses. I didn’t even know we owned martini glasses. Maybe he drove out to a real bar and bought them. He looked extremely proud.

“M’lady,” he said, offering the drink to April with a flourish.

She sipped it and gave him a slight nod. “Not bad.”

“Thank you very much, Cameron,” I said and took a sip. It hardly tasted like alcohol, which was a sure sign there was a lot of alcohol in it. I was not a big drinker and looked around for a discreet place to leave my special drink. I noticed Phil was sitting on the couch and watching me with a smirk. We both knew what happened when I had too much to drink.

Poor Cameron, as soon as he had stammered out his latest programming accomplishments in his coop stint, April declared that we needed food and steered me to the kitchen. I was hungry. I grabbed one of my mom’s yummy cheese puffs and some carrots sticks. Then I turned to April. “I can’t believe we were together all night and you didn’t give me a hint that this was happening.”

“Never let it be said that I am not a wonderful actress. Of course, anyone but you would have noticed I was way overdressed for shopping.” She motioned to her glittery top and black mini-skirt. “And don’t forget to thank me for making you change out of shorts and a tank top.”

“I wish she was still wearing the shorts. Especially short-shorts,” said a voice behind me.

“Marcus!” I gave him a hug, “Great to see you.”

I hadn’t seen Marcus since Christmas. We started talking about his new job, he had finished a two year college degree, and now he had a job in construction management.

“I’ve got my own place now,” he bragged.

“A bachelor pad?” April wondered.

“Definitely. Just give me time to get rid of my two roommates before you come over.”

We all laughed, but Marcus was starting his real life already and that seemed pretty grown up. The whole evening was like that, catching up with everyone and joking around. I had a great time. Finally things wound down and people started to drift away.

“Can I help you clean up, Mom?” I asked. My mom was putting dishes away in a kitchen that was already surprisingly neat. I hugged her from behind. “Thanks so much for everything.”

“You’re welcome, darling! You’ve been so busy, I thought this would be a nice send-off for you.” She kissed me. “I’m fine in here. Why don’t you go out and keep your friends company.”

“I think almost everyone’s gone,” I said. I knew there was at least one person left, and I wasn’t in a rush to see him.

“Not everyone,” Phil said from the doorway. My mom beamed at him and he smiled back. Ah, the Phil Davidson Fan Club was once again in session with Molly O’Brien-Tanaka, President. My mom gave me an unsubtle shove and I went into the living room with Phil. We sat down on the couch together.

“Finally, I get to talk to the birthday girl. You’ve been ignoring me.”

“Not true. I noticed you giving me your sex-ray look all night.” I spoke in a low voice, I knew my mom couldn’t hear me but I still felt uncomfortable.

Phil laughed. “My sex-ray look?”

“Yeah, like you’re imagining us naked and having sex. You’re doing it right now!” He was looking at me with his eyes half-closed. Well, I guess it wasn’t that big an accomplishment since I already knew what Phil looked like naked, right down to the pale scar that ran up his right thigh and ended at his—I shook my head to get that image out of my head.

He was watching me. “Gosh, Kelly, that’s just my normal expression. I think you’re projecting your own fantasies. But is does it work?”

“Definitely.”

“Oh, really?” Phil moved closer and slid his arm along the couch behind me.

“Not on me. Allie Malcolm got caught in the crossfire as you were trying to zap me. I think you melted her panties right off.”

“I don’t think I even know who Allie Malcolm is,” Phil replied, puzzled.

“Well, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from her soon.”

He shrugged and leaned back. “Still doesn’t explain why you didn’t talk to me all night.”

“I don’t know, because everyone was waiting for it.”

“When have you ever cared what people think?”

“It’s not what they think so much as doing what people expect. Don’t you ever feel like rebelling a little?”

“I do what I want. It’s not a big deal to me.” He had magically moved right next to me. “I’m really going to miss you.”

I told Phil straight up that I didn’t think it was worth getting all involved when I was only in town for a few weeks. Of course, he’d seen it as a few weeks where we could be reuniting our heads off. After first year, wed gotten back together in the summer. 

“I don’t understand why you’re going to this hockey camp in New Brunswick. The flight alone will cost you more than you’re going to make.”

“Not quite. But it’s mainly to get coaching experience.”

“Why can’t you do that around here?”

“It’s not easy to get hockey jobs, everyone wants them. And this is a good camp run by an ex-NHL player. They wouldn’t have even interviewed me without Deirdre’s recommendation.” Phil didn’t look convinced, so I tried to explain how I felt. “Plus, I wanted to do something different this summer. I felt like a change. I’m tired of being old predictable Kelly.”

“Hey. I like Kelly—in all her forms.”

“Seriously, Phil, don’t you ever feel like doing what you want instead of what everyone expects.”

“I already do what I like, so it’s not a big deal. Are you becoming a teen rebel just before your 20th birthday?”

“You know me, always the late bloomer.” I was late to date and now a late adolescent.

“You weren’t late for everything,” Phil said, his voice loaded with innuendo. Yeah, because once I did start dating, I did it with a bang. Ha ha. I looked over and he was giving me that sex-ray look again. Damn. Maybe it wasn’t deliberate, but I was still getting an urge to shed all my clothing.

“Well, good night, you two.” My mom appeared in the doorway, on her way upstairs. Startled, I tried to move away from Phil but I was already at the end of the couch. Phil didn’t even twitch.

“You’re so calm,” I chided him. “When we’re here on the couch, it reminds me of high school. I feel like my parents are going to come down and get mad at us for staying up too late.” And for fooling around, I thought, but I didn’t say that part.

“We’re adults now. I’m sure your parents understand that you have a sex life.”

“Please. Don’t use 'my parents and 'sex in the same sentence.”
Naturally, even saying the word “sex” made me blush, but even more so when Phil was so close that I could feel his breath on my shoulder.

Phil inched even closer, so our thighs were touching. “How come we havent had any time alone all summer?”

“It’s just happened that way,” I lied. “I’ve been busy. We did our road trip from Montréal, then Deirdre was here, and we got ready for our big hike.”

“Okay, if that’s how you want to play it, the fact that this is the first time we’ve been alone is a complete fluke.” I knew exactly how skeptical his expression would be, which saved me from having to look at him. “But being back together last summer was great. So, why didn’t you want to go out again this summer?”

We did have a lot of fun last summer. It didn’t take Phil long to work his way right back into my life, and there was an easiness about the two of us together.

“I don’t know, a few reasons. The fact we knew we were going to break up didn’t make it any easier.” It had been surprisingly wrenching, for me anyway. Phil had seemed to roll with it, and I got the feeling he was looking forward to going back to Calgary.

“And what else?” Phil’s arm was now curled around my shoulder.

“I don’t want to do the expected thing,” I said, for the second time tonight. It bothered me a lot that Phil took for granted that when we were both in the same place, we’d get back together. I knew he had this idea in his mind that we would get back for real once university was over. But I couldn’t keep doing this over and over. “And really, Phil, the whole point of breaking up was supposed to be having new experiences.”

His body moved slightly away from me. “You seem quite able to have new experiences. What about that goalie?” Phil had not been too happy to find out that I had finally dated someone else in the winter. I’d met J.P. Denis at the rink and we had fun until he left to play hockey in Europe.

“That wasn’t a serious thing. I can’t be like you—compartmentalizing everything,” I replied.

“What are you talking about?”

“You seem to be able to pick up where we left off and then go back to Calgary and party like nothing happened. Meanwhile, I take ages to get over breaking up, and then I see you all over again—at Christmas, at reading week, in the summer. It’s like this emotional seesaw.” 

I couldn’t get into a new relationship as long as Phil was constantly on my mind. Ever since I left for McGill, I’d found that there were lots of other amazing things to do and see out there.  I wanted to have new experiences, and that included dating too. Not dating with my ex hovering in the background like some chaperoning spirit.

Phil grinned. “So, you’re fleeing across the country because you find me irresistible?”

I frowned. “I wouldn’t put it exactly like that.”

But maybe he was right.

New Book Launch



The official date for the launch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two will be October 30th 31st. 


Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two

Kelly Tanaka has moved on. Moved on to university and a whole new life in Montréal. She left behind her high school boyfriend, Phil Davidson, even if he keeps trying to rekindle their romance. The only thing she hasn’t left behind is her fear of commitment. 

Luckily for her, a job at a summer hockey camp is the last place she would expect to meet Mr. Right. Sure enough, from an overconfident ladies man to a tongue-tied nerd, all the guys here are Mr. Wrong. And there’s no way she could be interested in a tall, muscular centreman with the face of a fourteen-year old.


Even if he is the best hockey player she has ever seen in real life.