Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Things I Learned About Simplifying Travel...Today

Okay, so I booked a last-minute trip to Huntington Beach because I found a killer deal, took off a couple days of work, and had to throw together my travel outfit and gear at 3:00am this morning to catch a 6:30 flight. You know how sometimes things that you didn't have time to plan for work out better than you meticulously planned for weeks? Well, today was one of those days. I decided to take my big suitcase (even though it's a short trip) and skip the rolling tote + small suitcase combo, threw everything inside without much fuss since I had plenty of room, spent the same $25 checking it that I would have spent on my smaller spinner, and just carried my little backpack purse for a carry-on. And felt so light and free all the way to sunshine.

But there were other serendipitous things that made today a fabulous travel day as well. Here's the complete list.

1. Best travel outfit is yoga pants, tennis shoes, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. (I usually wear jeans, but after today, no more!) I can store my phone, money, glasses, and whatever else I might be holding in my hands in the big front pocket at a moment's notice, and I can grab them instantly without taking off my backpack and rummaging around for 10 minutes. Also, there's no belt to take off in security. You can be in and out of the restroom faster too with yoga pants instead of jeans. : - )

2. Only makeup needed is moisturizers and mascara. You look plenty awake and no need for fussing with more products than that.

3. Chunks of steamed (the night before) sweet potato dusted with cinnamon in a sandwich bag makes a great vegan airport snack. Grab a bottle of water and a plastic fork at an airport coffee shop and you're good to go. Order a cup of hot water for your own herbal tea bag if desired. (When I opened the baggy it smelled like pumpkin pie...mmm.)

4. Small simple backpack purse is far easier than pulling a rolling tote. I love my small lightweight Tumi backpack purse so, so much for airplane trips, and it holds all my true essentials - clear plastic toiletries bag, wallet, glasses, snack, tissues, headphones, and phone charger.

5. Carry a large hair scrunchie to put clean hair up in a loose bun once you board the plane. It's out of the way plus "preserved" for arrival when I can take it down and still have clean, voluminous hair rather than stringy, greasy hair that's been stuck to my moisturized face for the entire trip.

Arrived! Fours hours of sleep but feeling very stress-free. I love it when that happens.

P.S. Here's the hoodie look over the t-shirt:

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Is It Expensive To Eat A Vegan Diet?

In season vegetables and fruits Sprouts vegan shopping
A bountiful little haul from Sprouts for $10
I get asked this question all the time: Isn't it expensive to eat a vegan diet?

The answer is: it depends upon how you define a vegan diet. I personally eat tons of fresh vegetables and fruits, and although I try to go all organic whenever possible, I do buy some things that aren't in order to save a ton of money on those particular items (some good examples here are broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Yes, I realize some of those items are on the "Dirty Dozen" list...but I try to wash everything really well with veggie cleansers, and I pray a lot. Ha.)

I've been working hard to reduce my living expenses over the summer so that I can afford more travel as well as invest some extra money for retirement. Thus, I've been keeping track of every expenditure, scoping out where all the very best bargains are for things I buy, and finding out that I can actually eat really, really well on less than $300 a month--and that includes purchasing mega bulk vegetables for juicing (boatloads of carrots, spinach, cucumbers, and celery.)

Costco bargain vegetables and fruits vegan shopping
A ton of awesome veganness from Costco for $71

Today, for example, I went to Costco and for $71 I picked up 4.5 pounds of organic quinoa, 10 pounds of organic carrots, 6 cans of organic coconut milk, 6 huge avocados, 2 lbs of Campari tomatoes, 3 huge English hothouse cucumbers, 2 lbs of cauliflower, 3 lbs of broccoli, a 2 liter bottle of organic extra virgin olive oil, 3 lbs of bananas, and 3 lbs of spinach for $71. The quinoa will last me two months; the olive oil a month or more; the coconut milk probably 2 or 3 months. I'll be juicing a lot of the carrots, spinach, and cucumbers and using the bananas and spinach in smoothies, and I make entrees and salads out of everything else.

Vegetables and fruits Trader Joes haul vegan shopping
Here is what $16 can get you at Trader Joe's.
There is a Trader Joe's on the way home from Costco, so I also stopped in there to pick up a few miscellaneous items. I spent $16 and got a pound and a half of zucchini (normally they have organic zucchini but I didn't see it there today,) a package of green onions, two very delicious-smelling nectarines (which I don't buy in bulk because here in Colorado it's impossible to eat them before they rot,) a package of fresh cilantro, a ripe avocado for tomorrow's salad, a bottle of red wine vinegar, two cans of olives, a can of organic white beans, and a can of organic pumpkin. These items are to finish out the ingredients I need for a variety of salads and entrees.

So for approximately two weeks' worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks, desserts, and daily veggie juices, I spent a grand total of $97. I may be stopping at the Sprouts on the way home from work to pick up a miscellaneous item or two, so let's add maybe another $30 to that for the two weeks = $127, or $63.50 per week. That leaves me $46 for "specialty" expensive items like miso paste, yacon syrup, monkfruit sweetener, veggie bouillon, flaxseed oil, and the occasional vegan frozen pizza or carton of sugar free vegan ice cream. I don't have to buy all of these expensive items all the time (the last package of Gen Mai miso I bought lasted me a year,) but you get the idea of how I can stay under a $300 grocery budget per month and eat an awesome vegan diet.

Cucumbers tomatoes zucchini avocados flaxseed oil lemon juice
I also buy lemons in bulk at Costco because I put lemon juice on everything.
After putting everything away, I quickly cut up my current go-to raw veggie salad using the produce I'd just bought. Recipe will be posted here. Vegan happiness!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Second Bestseller!

Romance novels, assassins, fantasy
You could get lost in those silver eyes.

Okay, so To Seduce An Assassin (the sequel to Kiss of the Assassin) has been #1 on the Ancient and Medieval Best Sellers List on Amazon for three days now! (Kiss is also on that list, at #6 at the moment.) Look at that gorgeous orange sticker!!!

If you haven't started the Omaja Series yet but you're a fan of fantasy, adventure, and steamy romance, here is another teaser from Seduce to entice you.


Yavi picked up his fork, noticing Graciella didn’t take a piece of cake for herself. “Aren’t you having some?”
“No. I tested so much of it while I was baking, I’m just not hungry for it anymore.”
He ate a mouthful. “It’s delicious. I think you got the spice just right.”
“Oh, good.” She sipped primly of her wine and watched him eat.
The cake was moist, deliciously sweetened with honey, and redolent with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and other unidentifiable spices. He quickly finished it off and dabbed at the corners of his mouth with his napkin.
“More?” She held up the plate of cake, flashing him a charming smile.
“Yes, I suppose I have room for more. I haven’t had this type of cake before. What do you call it?”
“I call it Spice Delight Cake.” She deftly cut him another huge piece.
“Delight, indeed.” He put a forkful in his mouth. “It’s wonderful. I think you could open a bakery with this recipe. This cake, plus your delicious breads.”
She tried to serve him a third piece before he finished the second, but he shook his head no. He was starting to feel full, and a little strange. Warm, and drunk. Fuzzy around the edges. Had he really drunk that much wine? He picked up the wine bottle to examine it.
“What’s wrong?” Graciella asked, the sexy lilt of her voice sending pleasurable chills up his spine.
“Oh, nothing, I—do you want more wine?” He held up the bottle.
Her thick black lashes seemed to move in slow motion, fluttering prettily over her mesmerizing hazel eyes as she blinked. “No, I still have some in my goblet.”
He swallowed, staring at her face. Before he could stop himself, his gaze was drawn to her neckline. Heat crept up the back of his neck at the sight of the enticing swell of her breasts, and he went hard as a rock inside his trousers. He forced his gaze away and took another bite of cake.
Wait—is that Tongkat Ali I’m tasting? He frowned as he chewed the bite slowly, trying to discern the sage-like flavor of the Nandalan herbal remedy for impotence.
“Something wrong?” Her face was the picture of innocence.
“No, I—” His erection throbbed. “I just realized how full I am. I may not be able to eat my last couple bites of cake.” Spice Delight, my arse! She’s poisoned me, the little sneak. That’s why she had to get the other cake. A slow smile spread across his face at her daring, and he couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Are you sure you’ve had enough?”
“Oh, I’m sure.” Blood was pumping through every sinew of his body, fueling his thick arousal. “What spices did you say were in that cake?”
He stared at her lips as she answered. “Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and a pinch of sage.”
“Sage?” So it wasn’t Tongkat? No, that couldn’t be right. He didn’t feel normal at all. She was a bald-faced liar. A beautiful, enchanting, bald-faced liar.
“Yes, just a pinch.”
A pinch? He’d like to pinch her nipples with his finger and thumb right now, while devouring her soft, plump lower lip with his mouth and tongue. He shut his eyes and pressed his fingers over his eyelids, trying to fend off an intense wave of lust, but it wasn’t working. He needed to get away from her before he did something he would deeply regret later, but how? He was certain that if he stood up right now, the enormous bulge in his pants would be painfully obvious. He had to figure out an escape, fast.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Travel Diary: Healing Vacation in Huntington Beach Day 1

Anytime is beach time when you're in Southern California. Sigh.

9:37 a.m. - I arrived at John Wayne airport. A long line at the rental car pickup counter plus having been up since 2:50 a.m. meant I was dragging a little. A friendly conversation with a cute guy in line perked me up a bit, though. :)

10:15 a.m. - Google Maps quickly got me to Mother's Market on Beach Boulevard where I ordered a green juice and picked up some vegan salads from their deli for lunch (lentil salad, dilled rice and lima bean salad, and a cup of raw kelp-noodle broccoli Alfredo made with cashews. Yum.)

11:00 a.m. - sat in my rental car and just vegged out, munching on the salads and enjoying the warm sunshine and moment of solitude.

12:30 a.m. - pushed my seat back and napped in my car until 1:30 p.m. like some weird homeless person. Hotel check-in wasn't until 3:00 p.m. and I felt like a puffy beached whale from a long morning of traveling, not drinking enough water, and not being rested.

1:30 p.m. - put my hair up in a hair elastic, rolled up my pants legs, and went for a brisk walk down Beach Boulevard and back with the ocean breezes blowing in my face. Felt refreshed enough to drive out to my hotel and see if I could check in a little early.

3:30 p.m. - in my room and all unpacked, I made my goals list, my menu for the week, and shopping lists. Went to all my favorite stores in Huntington Beach (Dollar Tree, Mother's, Whole Foods, and Big Lots) to buy what I needed to be able to cook for myself in the kitchenette all week.

6:00 p.m. - back at my room, exhausted and cranky, made rice and poached veggies with fresh dill for dinner.

8:30 p.m. - soaked and gave myself a mini facial. All was suddenly right with the world again.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What To Eat At The Airport If You're Vegan (and Sugar-Free)

Waiting for a flight, bored and starving? Been there.

I'm doing a fair amount of traveling these days and the question that always comes up when I'm packing is what, if anything, should I take with me to eat in the airport?

My Options

1. Eat before I go and try to fast on hot tea until I get to my destination.

2. Sit there in the terminal watching everyone else enjoy the fast food, bags of convenience store snacks, or fajita bowls in the food court, starving and bored (me, not them. They're having a great time.)

3. Search the fast food joints for something that won't make me tired, irritable, and/or bloated. Find that there is nothing. All the salads have meat and/or cheese, and all the "fruit" smoothies are loaded with chemicals and sugar.

4. Try to find a restaurant that has a vegan option or at least something halfway decent that I can ask them to leave the meat, cheese, and/or sugar off of (if I have time to sit in a restaurant) and pay too much money for food I probably didn't enjoy that much anyway.

5. Wish I would have just packed my own snack.

Packing My Own Snacks

This also poses some problems. What can I pack that won't be utterly destroyed or disgusting by the time I sit down and dig it out of my carry-on? Also, it can't take up a ton of room or be too heavy, and it has to be tempting and filling enough to keep me out of the Asian Grill line.

I sometimes pack vegan sugar-free baked goodies I made myself, but most of these things require some sort of plastic container (which takes up precious space) or they end up flattened or just destroyed. Not that I won't still eat them, mind you, because the minute I find my gate and sit down I'm looking to munch for some unknown reason, but ugh.

So here's my current solution. It's easy, light, filling, and doesn't bloat me up like a balloon.

1. Ezekiel Bread + Vegan Cheese Sandwich. Ezekiel 4:9 bread (regular, not the low-sodium version) is an obsession for me since I started recovering from TMJ pain enough to chew it. It's delicious with two slices of Chao vegan cheese, and if I want to spice it up a bit I add a few pickled jalapeño slices. Seal it in a baggy and you're done. It's lightweight, and Ezekiel bread is tough enough to stand up to being jostled and smashed in my backpack purse or laptop bag with aplomb.

Also, I am definitely not too proud to pack two or three of these babies for my trip. I don't like going hungry!

2. Bag of organic mixed raw nuts and pumpkin seeds. Mix together any raw, unsalted nuts you like - I like pecans and walnuts if I need softer nuts and almonds, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts if my jaw can take the pressure of chewing something harder. I like raw organic pumpkin seeds tossed in as well for the magnesium, zinc, protein, and other nutritional boosts they add.

Now, at home I limit my nut intake because they are expensive, fattening, and not cleansing like fresh veggies, but for the airport they do the trick of filling me up and not leaving me feeling deprived as I do when I sit there munching on plain lettuce (yes, I've done this) while everyone around me is wolfing down pizza slices and Quizno's subs. A baggy of mixed nuts is a huge treat to me, so this is one time I indulge. Again, this is a snack that can survive the backpack or laptop bag just fine. Pro tip: pack a small plastic spoon inside the baggy if you're like me and it weirds you out to stick your fingers in your food after you just touched everything in security, the handrails on the escalator, anything in the restroom, your own luggage that's been dragged all over God knows where, etc.

[A caveat about nuts in airports: I have been stopped in security once for having a baggy of nuts in my laptop bag. All they did was look at it and then give it back to me. The TSA agent said it was fine to have it but that I should have taken it out of my carry-on like you do with liquids. Also, some countries will not let you take them through customs, but for your flight BEFORE customs, it should be fine.]

3. Tea bags (and an alternative plant based sweetener, if desired.) Yes, sometimes you can get decent herbal teas that aren't chock full of chemicals (I'm looking at you, Allegro,) but I much prefer bringing my own mixed baggy of choices (current faves: Tazo brand Calm Chamomile, Ecotea's Yerba Mate, Numi Tea's Moroccan Mint, Trader Joe's Mint Melange, Yogi Tea's Berry Detox tea (amazingly good tasting for a detox tea, and helps with travel bloat,) and Yogi Tea's Green Tea Kombucha (I take bags in regular and decaf. Hey, I never know if I need or want caffeine or not.) Buy a cup of hot water to steep it in at the airport (and/or ask for one on the plane later) and voilá. Lusting after everyone else's Mocha Lattes while you're sitting there bored is a thing of the past, or at least the edge is taken off.

[Side note about my tea that I take with me: I have been asked more than once by a flight attendant what kind of tea I was drinking because it looked/smelled so good, apparently. It happened just this past weekend when I was flying and asked for hot water for my Allegro "Energize Your Brain" tea. (Not listed above as one of my favorites because it has a lot of unknown "flavors" in it, but I am going to use up the box I bought for sure.)]

So that's it...on my trip home from Oklahoma this past weekend, I sat down at my gate with my little cheese sandwiches, a hot Yerba Mate, and bag of mixed nuts, feeling pampered rather than deprived. :-)

I'll add to this post as I discover more options, but for now, this will get me to my next destination just fine.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My Fat Burning Mixed Baby Green Salad with Avocado and Flaxseed Oil

A beautiful bowl of vegetable goodness. 

Loaded with superfood nutrition, omega-3s, and antioxidants, this easy salad will satisfy your craving for healthy, fresh raw veggies, aid in digestion, and cleanse your system. I use flaxseed oil because I want the benefits it provides--according to this article by Dr. Axe it assists in weight loss, keeps you regular, fights cancer, removes cellulite, is good for your skin, and boosts heart health--but flaxseed oil is also really delicious on fresh, raw veggies. I like it even better than olive oil on salads, and trust me, I'm a huge fan of olive oil.

I like to make this salad before dinner and munch on it while I cook, but it would also make an excellent warm-weather lunch.

Mixed Baby Greens Salad with Avocado and Flaxseed Oil

Ingredients - adjust all amounts to your personal liking

About two cups mixed baby greens, coarsely chopped to bite size (I usually go for a spinach combo of some sort. You can also just use baby spinach.)
1 TBS sliced green onion
1 TBS chopped red bell pepper
1 small red radish, sliced thinly
1 cup broccoli florets, broken down into bite size pieces
1/2 roma tomato, cut in half again and sliced
1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
1 TBS shredded carrot
1 TBS sliced celery
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
Handful italian parsley, coarsely chopped
Sea salt, to taste (a pinch or so)
Fresh ground pepper, to taste (a few twists)
Flaxseed oil, to taste (I use about 1/2 TBS)
Fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste (I use about a teaspoon)

Put all veggies in a large salad bowl, then sprinkle with sea salt. I would start out with less salt than you think you might like, because you want the flavors of the avocado and other vegetables to come through. Add a few twists of fresh ground black pepper, and then drizzle flaxseed oil all over. Squeeze a few drops of the lemon juice on last (don't overdo. It's strong.) Toss lightly and enjoy!

Delicious and so good for you.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

To Seduce an Assassin Cover Reveal!

My, what a big sword you have.
The sequel to Kiss of the Assassin finally has a name AND a bright, shiny new cover! I'm currently hard at work finishing up the first draft of To Seduce an Assassin, Yavi and Graciella's story, and am still on schedule for a release date in late June 2017.

The premiseYavi and his identical twin are the last surviving Zulfikars, the traditional royal line of Nandala. They were hailed emperors of their poverty-stricken, wintery homeland when they led a rebellion against the evil ruler Thakur, who murdered their father right before their eyes. Yavi’s brother Yajna found love with farmer’s daughter Jiandra in the first Omaja Series book, but Yavi’s sworn off seducing innocent young women since a jealous sorceress killed the girl he was romantically involved with in Kiss. Jiandra’s younger sister Graciella has had a crush on Yavi since she was 14, and knew he saw her as a child when she shyly asked him for a dance at her sister’s wedding to his brother. She hasn’t seen him in six years. Now she’s 20 and ready to try again, this time determined to make sure there’s no doubt in his mind she’s a full-grown woman.

***Excerpt - Graciella the Spy***

There was only one explanation for his hurry to rid himself of her and rush off to his own quarters, Graciella thought.
            Her name was Kitran.
            Graciella paced in front of her fireplace a moment, trying to decide what to do. Surely Kitran was meeting him in his bedroom this very moment, and before long, she’d be on top of him, rubbing herself on him as Jiandra had seen with the Omaja stone when she'd read Kitran's thoughts.
            No, no, no! Graciella had been almost certain the meal she’d served him was winning him over to her side. He hadn’t even looked up when Kitran was bringing out the food, was more absorbed in his wine. By the end of their dinner, his body was relaxed, he was making a lot of eye contact, and she’d seen his gaze linger on her mouth more than once. When they’d stood up from the table, she’d been so sure he was going to invite her to sit by the fire in his study and chat, as had been their habit over the past week.
            It had to be because of Kitran. With Yajna and Jiandra gone, no doubt Yavi had seized the opportunity to arrange a tryst with the beautiful washing girl. What, hadn’t he as much as admitted he had absolutely no plans to marry any time soon? Spoken like a true rakehell. Oath of celibacy, my arse. The reason Jiandra doesn’t know he’s knobbing Kitran is because he waits until she and Yajna are off the premises!
            She had to move fast to find out the truth. She hopped on one foot, tugging off her boots, and put on her soft slippers. She opened her bedroom door just a crack, then poked her head out to see if any guards were lurking about.
            It was all clear, so she slipped out and closed the door, then hurried down the hallway out of Yajna’s wing, heading toward Yavi’s side of the palace. Before entering the passageway that led to his study and his bedroom, she flattened herself against the wall and peeked around the corner. There was no one in sight, so she tiptoed past his study to his bedroom.
            When she reached the door, she pressed her ear against it to check for the sounds of moaning Jiandra had described. It was quiet for the moment, but she kept listening for any sounds of a woman’s voice, movement on a bed—
            Back down the hallway, the door to Yavi’s study opened. Graciella panicked and opened his bedroom door to slip inside. The orange glow of firelight revealed the bed to be undisturbed and free of washing girls, but footsteps were rapidly approaching the door. She glanced around for some place to hide, hurrying to the far corner of the room to crouch behind a trunk just before the door opened.
            Graciella shut her eyes tight, mortified. Now you’ve done it, Graciella. What will he think when he finds you snooping in his room? She sent a desperate mental prayer to Zehu as she heard the door close.
            It was quiet for a moment, but she didn’t dare raise up to look or even breathe. Yavi could be standing right on the other side of the trunk for all she knew—he moved like a panther when he wanted to. However, there was a slight possibility the person who entered was a servant, and if so, she could invent a lame excuse and hopefully escape before Yavi returned. She would wait until she heard a sound somewhere else in the room, and then raise up to see who was there.
            Finally, she heard movement across the room, on the other side of the bed. Water pouring into the washstand. Carefully, oh-so-slowly, she rose up just enough to see over the lid of the trunk. Yavi set the large pitcher down and tugged his white lawn shirt over his head, tossing it to a chair, and Graciella’s mouth went dry. Layers of thick, well-defined muscle covered his arms, shoulders, and chest. Apparently training every day in the courtyard pays dividends. Gorgeous ones.
            He reached for the placket on his trousers, and she ducked back down to give him some privacy. After a few moments, she thought she heard the sound of him rummaging in a drawer, and inched back up to take a quick peek.
            Six and a half feet of male splendor stood by the armoire, naked except for the emperor’s ruby around his neck. His backside was facing her direction, and she couldn’t help but stare. His buttocks looked firm, sculpted in muscle, with a slightly concave plane on either side of his trim hips. He wrapped a towel around his hips before turning to pace toward his washstand, and she ducked quickly. Soon there was a sound of water splashing, being squeezed from a sponge, splashing again.
            She risked another peek, and was rewarded with a second view of his backside as he stood in front of his washstand. His bed was between them, so she could only see him from the thighs up, but there was plenty of muscular naked flesh to stare at from that vantage point. And stare she did, watching his back muscles flex as he sponge-bathed from neck to groin.
            He finished washing and used a towel to dry himself, then wrapped the towel around his waist again. When he turned away from the washstand to walk back to his armoire, she caught a view of the bulge of his groin. It strained against the towel, pushing forward as if it wanted to escape, as if it were beckoning her to come rip the towel off him and climb on. And she wanted to answer its call, by Zehu; she wanted to dive onto his bed and beg him to take her right then and there, like some slattern.
            And speaking of slatterns, the horrifying thought came to her that it was possible he was washing up for Kitran, who hadn’t arrived yet. He rearranged his belongings for a moment, shut the armoire, and went to open a window. He stood there in his towel, allowing the frigid air to blow over his face and chest a few moments before closing and latching it. He turned toward the bed, and she sank back down out of sight. She heard the bed creak lightly under his weight, waited a moment longer, then rose up just enough to see with one eye. He was lying on his back, the bedspread covering him up to his waist. He lay still a moment, resting one hand over the emperor’s ruby on his chest.
            The clock on the far wall ticked loudly in the silence. Three, four minutes passed, with no appearance of the washing girl. Relief began to wash over Graciella in hopes that she’d been wrong about the tryst. Now if she could just wait until he slept and manage to slip out of his room without him waking up, she’d be golden.
            He turned over on his side, putting his back to her, and resettled his head into his pillow. Graciella wondered briefly what he would do if she slipped into bed beside him and snuggled up to his back. He might throw her out in disgust for sneaking around in his room, so she decided against it, and rested her chin on her hands on the lid of the trunk to just stare at his muscular back and wait.
            Thirty minutes later she realized she was dozing a little, and her eyes flew open. The fire in the fireplace had died down to just a few glowing embers, and she could see from Yavi’s outline in the shadows that he was still in exactly the same position as before, on his side facing away from her. She cautiously rose to her feet, tiptoed around the trunk in the darkness, and stealthily approached his bed. His masculine scent of musk and bergamot reached her senses, and she had another strong urge to climb into bed with him. Instead, she leaned over the bed to try to hear his breathing.
            Finally, she heard it: steady breath in, steady breath out. Steady in, steady out. She crept to the door, turned the door handle oh-so-gently, and pulled it open just wide enough to slip into the hallway. She shut the door as silently as she’d opened it, and then hurried out of his wing as fast as her slippered feet would carry her.
            Back in her room, she stripped down to wash up for bed, then threw on her nightgown and brushed out her hair. She blew out her candle, slipped under the blankets and the covering of Filstoc fur, and lay still in the darkness thinking about what she’d learned tonight.
            One, he hadn’t arranged a tryst with Kitran. That was foolish paranoia on her part, and she was ashamed of herself. However, it didn’t mean he wasn’t involved with Kitran for certain, so Graciella would still have to be alert for any clues about the nature of their relationship.
            Two, he hadn’t wanted to spend any more time with her after dinner than was necessary. That meant she still had some work to do in attracting him, so she needed to make good use of her last night alone with him before Jiandra and Yajna returned.
            Three. She’d witnessed his glorious naked body, and it was good. He had a warrior’s build, and every inch of him was well-proportioned from head to toe. Every inch, especially the generous inches that stood out from his groin. It made her squirmy and warm just thinking about it. She knew she should feel guilty for spying on him and invading his privacy in such a way, but she wouldn’t trade the view she’d gotten for anything in the world.
            She rolled over, sighing. She needed a plan. Tomorrow she’d do her best to get invited to his study after dinner. Once there, she’d casually suggest they sit together on the couch, and in the midst of conversation, make another attempt to go in for a kiss. All she knew was, if she didn’t get some kind of affectionate touch from him soon, she was going to explode. She pictured herself hiking her skirts up and straddling him on the couch, then desperately hugging his face into her bosom, with him looking up at her like she was addled.
            And with that picture in her head to amuse her, she drifted off to sleep.

More details soon! Let me know what you think of the cover in the comments below. I think the model my graphic artist used for Graciella is absolutely gorgeous. Reminds me a little of Elizabeth Taylor!

P.S. Follow my Pinterest Board for To Seduce An Assassin here!

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