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June 1, 2019

Hey there,

I wanted to give everyone a quick heads up about the promos I’m doing in June. I just placed my book, Undying Fire, into a bookfunnel promo, and starting on June 1st Bruin is in a kindle countdown deal. I had wanted to place Fairytale Colors in a kindle deal that same week, but they made me wait until June 7th. I’m going to go ahead and give you the link to that book here, but you’ll also get a brief “here’s that book deal, it’s live now” sort of thing around the 7th as well, so be ready for it, and please do not inundate my email with “Oh, Fairytale Colors is not on sale” comments because you went there too soon….LOL!

Anyway, here is chapter two of Beach for those of you who were asking/hoping to see that in here! If you don’t have chapter one, let me know and I’ll give you that one too. I was thinking to put it on my website, but my nose is knee deep in doing a book doctoring thing for one of my clients (and isn’t that a crazy visual…) so I don’t have time right now to code the page for you.

Beach, Chapter Two…

(let me know what you think if you want to…)


I hadn’t made it to the rank of commander, nor taken charge of a secret division of the mammal research project for the United States Navy, by being a pushover. So, when Seaman Jasper Ryder told me that he’d found the perfect marine biologist to replace Nantucket, I took his assessment with a grain of salt.

Being a rather particular man, especially where civilians were concerned, I wasn’t about to take the man at his word and simply give the woman, Aph Graeme, a call. And who named their kid ‘Aph’ anyway? Her name alone made me less than charitable toward her—though admittedly, the idea that I had to replace Nantucket in the first place already had me in a pretty foul mood.

As a marine biologist, Nantucket had been doing a pretty good job for a whole lot of years. The woman’s sudden death was a huge blow to both the program, and to all of the people who had been working with her for almost two decades.

But she’d been a whole lot more to some of us, who had come to think of her as a bit of a den mother of sorts. Getting blown out of the water during what should have been a routine training exercise had not been part of the deal.

What made it worse was, because she had not been in her human form when it happened, but in her form as a sea lion, we couldn’t even discuss what had happened to her, and her family had no idea that she had saved them, along with a whole lot of other people, from a terrorist attack three months ago.

And besides that, replacing the marine biologist was not the same as replacing the mammal who had been harmed. Each of our five human/mammal teams had a specific number of animals in training at any given time, and with Nan gone, we were short one animal, and it was going to take time to train up one of the younger recruits.

“I—don’t know if I’m ready to hire on a new biologist just yet,” I hedged when Jasper had finished singing the woman’s praises, but over the next few days he had become like a broken record, and now I was to a point where I wanted to get a better look at this woman he was so keen to promote.

“It’s Friday night,” Jasper said as we were cutting out of work for the day. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes to Smitty’s tonight for a couple games of pool. It seems like the only time she ever let’s her hair down. If she goes, you could get a better look at her and she won’t even know.”

Although I snorted at the comment, I was contemplating his words. Because being so high up the chain of command, I seldom let my hair down either. The notion of going to some hole in the wall bar, where it was likely that I’d be relatively unknown and able to just be one of the boys, sounded like a welcome change.

“Right,” I snorted. “We could tip back a few beers, play darts—and you and the boys could simply call me Joe.”

Jasper chuckled. “That’s no problem. I’ll let the other guys know. But here’s the thing, though. There is no way anybody would mistake you for anything less than an officer, sir. How are you going to get around it if she wants to know more?”

Now it was my turn to chuckle. “I’m just here to catch some waves, dude. Malibu was looking totally gnarly, and I thought I’d visit with my cousin and his friends for a few days. And I’ll only need to keep up the act for one evening anyway, right cousin?”

Jasper hooted with appreciation. “Totally, Joe. But maybe we shouldn’t try to figure this out until we even know if she’s planning to go? You haven’t given her a call, so she might decide to stay home by her phone.”

“There’s a solution for that, too,” I pointed out. “Why don’t I try to get her on the phone right now? Let her know I’d like to interview her Monday morning—if she’s even at home. If she’s gone, I’ll have no reason to say anything at all.”

“You are cruel, Commander Beach,” Jasper scolded. “Just thought I should let you know.”

“Get out of my office, Ryder,” I grumbled. “We don’t need to get all chummy until we go to the bar. Besides, you need to go and let everyone else know what we’re doing, so they don’t screw up and treat me too well. If I’m going to work with some woman with a weird name like Aph, I’ll want to know a whole lot more.”

Jasper chuckled another time. “That’s not her full name, sir. It’s—”

“Don’t tell me, okay?” I cut him off. “I’d rather find out for myself.”

“Not a problem, Joe,” he answered with a smirk. I wondered what was so funny as I watched him go.

Sitting down at my desk, I brought up the number that Jasper had typed into my phone two days ago and cleared my throat as I squared my shoulders. It wasn’t that I had anything to be nervous about, since I was a commander and she was some civvy looking for work, but for some reason I couldn’t figure out, I still had a case of butterflies as I pressed the virtual button on my cell.

“Graeme residence,” a woman said in a businesslike tone.

“I wish to speak to Aph, please,” I told her.

“Sorry, sir, she isn’t at home,” the woman told me, her tone still upbeat and cheerful. “Are you that Navy guy she’s been waiting on?”

I didn’t know whether to laugh at such a description or simply explain myself. “Like, no. Is she seeing a Navy dude?” I asked instead, kicking myself mentally even as I did so.

She laughed. “Well, she sees plenty of those out on the beach, but she isn’t dating anybody as far as I know. Who is this?”

“Um—the name’s Joe. I got this number from my cousin’s wallet, but I don’t think she ever saw me before. My cousin told me she was hot, so I was hoping to invite her to join us tonight so I could meet her while I was in town. Any idea where she might have gone?”

“Sorry, but I’m not the type of person who would let you know. If your cousin actually knows her, Joe, he’ll have a pretty good idea himself. You have a good evening now.”

“Well, thank you, ma’am, I will,” I agreed with a smile. “You as well.”

When I hung up the phone, I glanced across the room and saw my reflection on the glass of the main aquarium, and I let out a little groan. What in the heck had that been all about? I could have simply thanked the woman for her time and pushed end. What, was I trying to get a better feel for my role? I sure hoped this girl was worth so much trouble!

Immediately, I gave Jasper a call. “Jasper, she isn’t at home, and some woman said that if you know her, you’ll know where to find her. It sounds like this crazy plan is actually a go.”

“Come on out to the parking lot and we could both drive over to Smitty’s together,” he suggested. “We could even take my car, if you want to, sir.”

“Stop calling me sir, seaman,” I told him. “That’s an order.”

“Then you might want to stop giving me orders too.”

I snorted then. “Yeah, I guess that’s true. I’ll be there just as soon as I say good-night to a mammal or two.”

After hours, the main tank was always abandoned by the different teams in favor of swimming off into their private enclosures. Every person on the evening watch knew that there were certain mammals who did not remain housed, but who might disappear to lives they lived in the human world.

It was one of the best-kept secrets, that twenty of the forty animals in this hidden portion of the program were not what they appeared to be. That was one of the reasons I needed to find out more about this candidate, and the surest way to find out if she’d be a safe choice for all parties concerned was to see what she was like somewhere other than an official interview.

That was the only reason I’d agreed to this whole thing. Well, that and the fact that otherwise I’d be spending yet another weekend doing the same boring thing.

Ten non-shifting mammals still occupied a couple of the tanks, one of them a pretty bottlenose dolphin who called herself Eep. When we’d met six years ago, she had taken a particular liking to me, especially when I was in dolphin form myself, but I had insisted that we mustn’t get beyond just being friendly, and she had wholeheartedly agreed.

Her mate, Kai, soon swam up to me along with her, and I said, “Well, I hope you two have a good weekend. As for me? I hardly know which way the wind will blow!”

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worldbuilding workbook

Use this low-content book to create characters, settings, internal or external factors that might affect the outcome of your fiction.
Fill the 200 8.5x11in pages with details, or even just doodle in there if you want...
This is your creativity catch-all. Gather up all your story ideas and put them in here. $6.95 plus shipping in the US amazon store.

worldbuilding workbook companion

Written as a companion guide for the Worldbuilding Workbook, you can grab this as an ebook, or better yet purchase the paperbacks together for a more hands-on experience. This companion book is meant to be a sort of instruction manual on how you use your workbook, but also contains suggestions on how to use a three ring binder and create a workbook of your own instead.