Tuesday, October 30, 2018

BOOK: March Blues, A Cat Collier Mystery Short by Carol Ann Kauffman

Small-town red-head Cat Collier runs an private investigation service called Red Cat Investigation out of her office in the beautiful Palazzo Castellano with the help of her secretary, Nola White, an ex-client Cat took in because she had nowhere else to go, her boyfriend, Erick “Carter” Larsen, and Carter’s father, the wealthy, influential, and shady lawyer, Detrick Bittmor.

In this third installment of the Cat Collier Mystery series, after escaping from captivity in an abandoned train car, Cat stumbles upon a homeless man at the long deserted train station, who helps her get home to Carter. 

Detrick discovers he knows this homeless man as the one-time legendary saxophone player who played in the downstairs bar when they were both young and the family embarks on rehabilitating the sax player and reopening the bar, “The Blues.” 

March Blues
A Cat Collier Mystery
By Carol Ann Kauffman

My name is Cat Collier. I run a research service called Red Cat Investigation. I have an office in Palazzo Castellano, the gorgeous Gothic architectural masterpiece in the center of Heaton Valley, Ohio. My office adjoins the office of Attorney Erick Carter Larsen, my incredibly sweet, handsome boyfriend. His newly found millionaire father is bankrolling us. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.
Mostly I do online research for private citizens of Heaton Valley. Now, you might not believe this, but privacy is a thing of the past. Death certificates, birth certificates, and real estate appraisals are all public record.  Credit scores, bank account balances, and employment records are a little harder, but not much. Social media is a treasure trove of free and easily accessible information about relationships, new babies, new jobs, and current location.  Friends of mutual friends can yield a ton of sought-after data. With an internet connection, a little luck, and minimal hacking skills, I can find out almost anything without leaving the comfort and safety of my lovely new office.  
Mostly. But sometimes I have to do a more physical kind of investigating.

“Hey, Nola,” I phoned my secretary, “I’m tailing the same white unmarked full-size Chevy van that picked up Lark Fairpoint, Case #7, three hours ago at the corner of Sinclair Street and Fifth Avenue.  2013 Express model, Ohio license plate number M 1538 C,” I said as I whizzed down Route 169. It felt good having someone I could check in with, someone who would know what I’ve been up to and my last known location. I found the private investigation business attracted some pretty shady characters.
“Okay, got it,” said Nola. “Do you need back-up?”
“No. I don’t see anything suspicious. They stopped at McDonald’s drive through, then went to Dunkin’ Donuts. Lark may simply be on a mindless eating binge or skipping school to hang out with her friends at the mall. That seems to be where they’re heading now. Did you ever do that as a kid?”
“Me? No. My mother would have killed me, revived me, and killed me again. Did you?”
“No. I liked school. What are you doing?
“I’m supervising Detrick while he does his leg strengthening exercises,” answered Nola.
“Hello, Cat,” yelled Detrick in the background.
“And he’s doing very well,” added Nola. “And Carter’s making ham and scalloped potatoes. The aroma coming from the kitchen is making us crazy, so don’t be late for lunch.”
“I won’t. See you soon.”

The van stopped abruptly and four people dressed in black wearing ski masks jumped out of the van and ran into The Big Cheese Pizza Shop on Route 169. 
Crap! My sweet little schoolgirl is robbing a pizza shop. I tapped some numbers into my cell phone.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Don’t you have someone else to bother? You won’t be happy until you get my ass fired. I’m already in enough trouble over you, Cat. What the hell do you want from me this time?” shouted Officer Kiernan Scott of the Heaton Valley Police Department.
I hung up. Scotty’s verbal barrage snapped me back to reality. Marina Fairpoint hired me to find out why her normally happy, pleasant, smart teenage daughter had suddenly become distant and moody with plummeting grades, not get her arrested and ruin her chances of ever becoming the president of the United States.
I snapped some photos as the foursome ran back to the van. I noticed all four were tall, husky body types, not petite like Lark. The van roared down the street, turned down a side street, and pulled into a driveway. I passed the driveway just as the garage door came down. I snapped more photos.
I hung around at the Burger King on the corner, where I had a clean sight of the driveway while I read about the latest innovations in water treatment facilities in Denmark. Two hours and four cups of coffee later, the white van slowly backed out of the driveway and made its way to the mall while I followed a few car lengths behind.
The driver parked the van near the main concourse door and seven people got out, four big, husky boys and three girls. I spotted Lark holding hands with one of the boys as they entered the mall.
I checked my watch. One thirty. Wow, this little girl had an exciting day. Start off at McDonald’s, then have a doughnut, be implicated in a pizza shop heist, and go to the mall.
I drove my falling apart 2009 red Chevy Cruze back to the Palazzo Castellano Hotel, parked in the private underground parking facility, and rode the elevator up to my office on the eighth floor. My secretary was nowhere to be found. I typed up a few notes on the events of the day. I cropped and balanced the light and color in the photos I took at the crime scene on my phone, while still keeping the originals in case I needed to check them for detail. 
Now what?
Time for ham and scalloped potatoes, I guess.


on March 31, 2016
Another adventure with Cat Collier is in store for readers in March. Cat has quite a sense of adventure and obviously
 is head- strong. She'll take any case and go anywhere it leads her. Her romance is rocky, a new case, a kidnapping, 
and a new business in Heaton Valley keeps her busy. I personally enjoy the strong interaction among previously
 introduced characters, continuing from one month to the next. But this month's installment is done. Hurry up April!!!!
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on April 23, 2018
This is the third book in the Cat Collier series. The first January Black Ice sets the stage. Both are short, clean 
romances with heartbreak and healing. Dietrick, Carter's father is as manipulative as ever--but in a good way!! 
There are some mysteries to be solved by Cat--and some truths to be revealed by Carter.
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on May 6, 2018
I love this series! The stories are perfect little bonbons full of everything I want when I'm reading for pleasure and 
relaxation - sassy heroine, suspense, humor, romance, and a snappy finish.
on May 28, 2017
March Blues: A Cat Collier Mystery by Carol Ann Kauffman is a great continuation of a great story! It's full of 
mystery & intrigue & humor. I love it!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Schedule for October 29 - November 2, 2018


Tues., Oct. 30 - BOOK: March Blues
A Cat Collier Mystery by Carol Ann Kauffman

Wed., Oct. 31 - BOOK: Costume Catastrophe 
by Kathi Daley

Thurs., Nov. 1 - ART: American Artist
Elizabeth Murray 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Snippet Saturday - Jasper - Taking Control, The Guardian Shifters Series by KM Lowe

Jasper - Taking Control (Book 4.5 of The Guardian Shifters) 
Pre-Order Now! 99p 99c


Sometimes in life, we need to do things that we wouldn’t necessarily want to do, but under certain circumstances that decision is taken away from us. Sometimes, we need to think out of the box, look at our loved ones, and just act on impulse. That’s exactly what I did when I decided I was going to stand against our council and fight for my position, fight for my family, and fight for our kind.
Let me get this straight, I don’t want to take control of the whole paranormal community, but I also don’t want our community to be corrupt any longer than it has been already. We can’t breathe. We can’t sneeze without someone breathing down our necks. Christ, I’m sure they even know when we take a shit. It’s got to that point where we’re constantly looking over our shoulders, and that shouldn’t be the case. We should be able to live a normal, happy life, regardless of us being shifters.
I’ve worked for the council for eighteen years. I’ve fought for them. I’ve killed for them. I’ve goddamn near lost my family for them. Well, no more. Now’s the time that we move forward. Now’s the time that we put our community first, we build our pack back up, and we take charge of what we believe in. Of course, there will always be rogue wolves; it’s a part of a wolf that sometimes snaps. It’s just one of those things. My concern is that decent wolf shifters are being confused with these rogues for the council’s own gain. They don’t care who they take out, who they leave behind, just as long as they benefit from it. That was evident when they took me and Kevin into their cells, just to prove a point that they could. It didn’t bother me that they were doing that to me, but it did bother me that a teenage kid was dragged into a mess that wasn’t his fault. None of that sat well with me, and it still doesn’t sit well with me today. That’s why I took that decision to challenge Braxton in a dual. That’s why I put everything on the line. And that’s why I plan on taking over our council and getting our community back on the straight and narrow.
I’m crazy, I know. It’s probably going to be one of the biggest fights of my life. The council will throw everything at me, plus some, but I’ll be ready to fight for what I believe in.
Bring it on, I say. 

Pre-order now! 
Can be read as a standalone 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Red Sarah by Carol Ann Kauffman

Sarah is a beautiful redhead who works for a special agency that fixes broken timelines and rescues historically significant people who are in trouble. She has a special set of skills that allow her to 'tap' someone out of a dangerous situation. Her present assignment is to find and rescue a prince whose yet unborn son eliminates hunger and disease on his tiny island paradise nation.

“Save the Prince; save the King; and save the Reds. In doing so, Red Sarah may just save herself, who knows, but what might be the cost? Moving from modern day wisecrackery to a time of romance long ago, Carol Ann Kauffman’s tale is filled with majesty and bravery. This time travel story is a gift for all.” - Amazon Review

“Sarah has one job and that is to rescue Crown Prince Lucas of Mist from captivity in a dungeon. Yet everything is not as it seems and will Sarah be able to stop an upcoming war?
This was an interesting book about time travel and trying not to disrupt the time continuum. I liked Sarah and it was interesting on where her and Lucas ended up.”
-Amazon Review


Chapter One
Look What I Found in the Dungeon

Sarah approached the lifeless figure huddled on the floor. The prisoner was shackled to the wall in the small, dark, damp cell. She reached down toward his throat to make sure he was still alive.
“No,” he growled as he pulled away from her.
“Shh,” whispered Sarah. “I come to help you, not to hurt you. But you must be quiet. I cannot be detected in here.”
“They will kill you… or worse,” he whispered, “for trying to help me. I am not some poor unfortunate soul. Do you have any idea who I am?”
“Yes, I do. You are Crown Prince Lucas of the Mist Kingdom in the highland of LaMere. Let me touch your neck.” 
He moved toward her as much as he could. 
She gently touched his bearded neck. “You are very warm, Prince Lucas. I fear you have the fever.”
“I am Prince Lucas, yes, but not the Crown Prince. My eldest brother Marcus is the Crown Prince and heir to the throne of the Mist Kingdom. I wield no power, here or in the highland. If you help me, I can do nothing for you in return. Leave this rotten stink hole at once. You only put yourself in extreme danger. There is nothing you can do for me.”
“Oh, really?” Sarah laughed as she put a small flask to his lips. He sipped, then swallowed and sighed.
“Ahh, good. Thank you,” he whispered. “What is that?”
“Herb and honey infused whiskey. It will induce a deep and heavy sleep. If you are chained to the wall in here, you may as well get some rest.” Sarah gave him more of the strong, sweet liquid. “Sleep now, Prince Lucas. I will return tomorrow night, when the guards are fast asleep. I will bring you bread and cheese. Is there something else you crave?”
“Freedom from these bloody chains. A bath. Warmth. Clothing. Sunshine. Strawberries.”
“Strawberries, I can do. And maybe something for the fever.”
“Why? Why do you chance danger to bring me real food and medicine?” Lucas eyed her warily.

“Because you need to regain your strength if I am to help you escape.”
“Escape?” squealed Lucas with a surprisingly hearty laugh for a man in his depleted condition. “Are you daft?”
“Shh,” whispered Sarah. “Be quiet.”
Lucas nodded.
“You have quite the sense of humor, lovely one,” whispered Lucas. “I am chained to the wall in a filthy dungeon in the miserable, hellish depths of Marlow Castle. There is no escape for me. And where would I go? I am too weak to even make it to the drawbridge, let alone up the rugged terrain of the mountainside. I am alone. My people have abandoned me. And, in case you did not notice, this cell is locked.”
“So then… how did I get in here?” Sarah smiled.
The prince looked around in confusion.
“Now, close your eyes.”
Lucas closed his eyes.
Sarah disappeared.

The next night, Sarah appeared in the locked cell once again. “Is there anyone in here who is hungry for real food?” she whispered to the sleepy prince.
“Ahh, there you are!” He smiled at her. “When I awoke refreshed from my deep and restful sleep, I was not sure if you were real or simply a lovely vision of my imagination.”
“I assure you, I am real. Here,” she handed him a small cloth pouch with berries and pieces of bread and cheese and a flask of water. 
“I am most grateful,” said Lucas, “although I do not know why you do this.” Lucas lifted the cloth pouch to his nose and inhaled. “Smells wonderful.” He picked a strawberry from the pouch and ate it. “This is the best thing I have tasted since...since…”
“How long have you been a prisoner?”
“I do not know,” he said as he broke off pieces of cheese and bread into a smaller bite size, nibbling in a regal manner. “One sunny day I set out for a ride alone in the wooded countryside outside the castle walls to clear my mind. I needed to get away and think. I had yet another argument with my father, King Theodore of the House of Walker. Have you ever heard of him?”
“Yes. He is a beast.”
“Yes. He is closed-minded and stubborn, as well as vicious and brutal. Anyway, I was knocked off my horse…and I woke up in here.”
“I heard you attacked the Marlowe hunting party while they were out gathering food. Two men were killed in the attack. The penalty here for murder is death.”
“I attacked no one. I murdered no one. In fact, I have never taken a life. At home, my reputation is that of a lover, not a fighter. And a planter. I have a fascination with seed growth, plant care, and ways to grow more food for my people.” He smiled up at Sarah. “I was out riding by myself. I saw no one…until I woke up here.
“Have they tortured you for information about the defenses of the Kingdom of the Mist?”
“Four men descended upon me with clubs and straps, wanting information I did not possess. After a while, they gave up. No one has asked me anything since then. I have been locked in here alone. The conditions are deplorable and the food is not fit for livestock, but no one has struck me since, although they do threaten. The guard who brings me rations pushes them under the bottom bar on the floor and carefully backs away from me, as if he is fearful of me.”
“How then did you get the wounds on your neck and wrists…and ankles?”
“Every now and then, I attempt to break free by pulling away from this cold, damp wall with all my might. Illusions of strength, I guess.”
“Please stop it. You are weakening yourself with these self-injuries.”
Lucas nodded. “They do not seem to be working anyway.”
“I must go now,” said Sarah, collecting the cloth pouch and offering Lucas one last drink from the flask.
“What is your name?”
“Will you return, Sarah?”
There was a noise in the corridor. Lucas looked toward the sound. When he looked back, Sarah was gone.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

ART: The Dance Surreal by Parker Kaufman

Dear Gentle Readers,

I have a special treat for you today. New art work by our own Parker Kaufman. For any of you who are new to Vision and Verse, Parker is the Texas collage and paper artist who started Vision and Verse with me in 2013. He was the Vision to my Verse. He is a terrific artist and a wonderful person. I have said the world needs more Parker Kaufman, but, alas, there is only one. 

"The Dance Surreal" 
is a miniature, 6" x8". 
The inspiration comes from 
the painting by Degas, 
"Ballet Rehearsal." 
All but one of my surreal works
features a male figure. 
In the one that doesn't, 
it's rather 
ambiguous as to what the gender of the character is. 
I wanted this work to be clear 
as to the sex 
of the character. 
It was also a statement to my earlier works,
to their smaller, more "intimate" nature.
It was very satisfying to meet the 
challenge of once again
creating in
                          -Parker Kaufman

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Schedule for October 22 -26, 2018

Tues., Oct. 23 - BOOK: Weeping Moon
by Maria Grazia Swan

Thurs., Oct. 25 - ART: The Dance Surreal by
Texas Collage Artist Parker Kaufman

Fri., Oct. 26 - BOOK: Red Sarah
by Carol Ann Kauffman

Friday, October 19, 2018

BOOK: MacKalvey House by Carol Ann Kauffman

BOOK: MacKalvey House by Carol Ann Kauffman

MacKalvey House

by Carol Ann Kauffman

Young American Michelle Rosemont visits England after college graduation and 
decides to stay. She takes a job as photographer for a historical magazine and 
falls in love with the extremely unpopular Kenneth MacKalvey, an older British 
author with a shady past. 

Old families scars resurface and play havoc with Michelle and Kenneth's relationship,
as she struggles to come to terms with her father's abandonment and unforeseen
family issues, as well as a ruthless redhead.

Dear Gentle Readers,
If you read Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life, then I think you will 
enjoy this one, too. It is not a sequel. In. fact, Echo of Heartbreak was 
a prequel.
In preparing to write this book, I needed a clear picture in my mind of 
Michelle's mother, Melina Valentina Rosemont, because she is paramount 
to the formation of Michelle's persona. Her fears, strengths, and 
personality are strongly tied to her mother.
In the end, I had so much information on Melina, I thought she deserved 
her own little book, with recipes, tips on housekeeping and wardrobe 
planning, and insights on life. So, Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for 
Life came into being.

Amazon Buy Link:
Echo of Heartbreak  http://tinyurl.com/n2eblyu 

Amazon Buy Link:
MacKalvey House http://tinyurl.com/jykdlxr

“Sir, did you remember today is Wednesday?”
“Wednesday, yes.  What of it?”
“Miss Michelle Rosemont is coming today to photograph the grounds of the estate for the May issue of Historic Hazelton 
“Oh, damn the hell, yes, I forgot all about it. Edwards, can you be a dear a handle it for me?  I haven’t the stomach for schmoozing with an American photographer today, when I have all this dead Greta mess to deal with.  I don’t feel like chatting.  And I hate painters in the house.  They’re messy and smelly.  And noisy. And talk about noisy, hardwood floor refinishers with their power equipment, my head will ache for a week after they are done.  Do you think we could find one who doesn’t use power equipment?”
“So, you would like one quiet man, preferably a mute, who uses only sandpaper?”
“Yes, Edwards, that would be lovely!  Could you?” Mr. MacKalvey perked up.
“I’ll make some phone calls, sir, and see what I can find to suit you.”
“Thank you, Edwards.”
“Ah, sir?   You also invited Miss Rosemont to have lunch with you here at the estate when she was finished.  I think you shall have to chat and schmooze, just a little.”
“Lunch?  Chat? Schmooze?  LUNCH?  I did? Yes, I did, I remember now.  Oh, no!”
“Yes, sir, that was before Greta so rudely offed herself, without giving any consideration to your ever-expanding social calendar.”
“This is such a major inconvenience!  What on earth would possess me to do such a thing?”
“I don’t know, sir.  It seemed so very out of character for you at the time, I almost doubted your sanity.  It was so… social.”
“What in heaven’s name was I thinking?”

“I have NO idea, sir.”
“We have no cook.  Well, just tell her… tell her I’m… ill,” said Mr. MacKalvey with a dismissive wave, turned, and went upstairs to his suite and closed the door.
A few hours later, the doorbell rang and Mr. MacKalvey heard the lilt of a female voice in the house.  He crept to the top of the stairs where he could hear everything, but still remain hidden.  Lovely voice. He remembered her voice from their phone conversation.   He knew that voice.  It made him smile.  Pleasant. Cheerful.  Silken.  But from where?  That voice, THAT’S what made him invite her to lunch, the sound of her voice.  He wanted to hear more of it.  Damn siren’s call.  It compelled him.  She was probably horrendously ugly and shaped like a manatee.
“Miss Rosemont, I am so very sorry to inform you that Mr. MacKalvey is very ill and will not be able to join you for lunch, but I could fix you a bowl of shredded wheat and a cup of tea if you wish, because our cook is just dead.”
“No, please don’t worry about lunch.  I’m not hungry.  But I am so terribly disappointed!  I was so looking forward to meeting the wonderful Kenneth MacKalvey.”
“You were?  Why on earth?”
“Something about that man fascinates me, Bernard.”
Kenneth MacKalvey leaned his head back on the door and gave a little smile as he listened to the conversation.  That sweet, lovely voice… saying sweet, lovely things.  About him!
“You’ve got to be joking,” Edwards said with a laugh.
“No, Bernard, I’m not.  I only agreed to do this photo shoot out here in the middle of nowhere so I could get to meet him.  I’m really disappointed that he’s ill.  I do hope it’s nothing serious.”
“Oh, I’m afraid it is.  Terminal, in fact.  Have you heard about his reputation?”
“His reputation?  As an author?  Or as an art critic, you mean?”
“Ah, yes.  That’s the one I mean.”
“Well, I heard he could be a little harsh at times. But I’ve read every book and article he’s written that I could lay my hands on, and I love the way he writes. I love his choice of words, the way he weaves in nuances and undertones, always completely proper, but with whispers of deep, white-hot passion hidden just beneath the surface, laced with longing, regret, and unspoken desire.  It has movement as natural as the ebb and flow of the tides.  Sometimes it’s like a warm, bittersweet dance with your former boyfriend on his wedding day to a really nice girl.  And sometimes, it’s more like a telepathic orgasm with a total stranger across the room, sizzling, white hot, overpowering, wild, crazy, blissful, quivering, flushed, standing in a crowded room, with no one else around you having any idea of what just happened.  You gulp hard and lick your lips.  No evidence.  And then, from across the room, you see him.  He raises one eyebrow, with just the faintest smile.  Ahhh!”
Kenneth MacKalvey felt himself blush.  His heart was racing.  Finally, someone who understood the height, the width, and the depth of the emotion in his work and actually appreciated it.  Most people didn’t get it at all.
“No, no, my dear, this is KENNETH MacKalvey we’re talking about.”
“Yes, yes, I know.  Kenneth.  He’s so multi-layered!”
“Like an onion, you mean?”
“And so insightful!”
“Really?  James MacAdoon reckoned Mr. MacKalvey’s treatment of him was more like a public flogging.”  Kenneth MacKalvey stiffened and held him breath.  Why would Edwards bring that up now? 
“Oh, Jimmy MacAdoon is as overly-sensitive as they come.  He cries easily.  I’VE made him cry, and I’m a gentle soul.  Scottish men are unreasonably hard on themselves and each other,” she said with a giggle.  “They hold themselves and their male countrymen up to unbelievably high standards on conduct and accomplishment.  That’s why they as a group have made such terrific contributions to society in general.  Cloning. Engineering.  Banking.  Golf. Tennis.  William McKinley.  Alexander Graham Bell.  Charles MacIntosh, the raincoat.  Highway surfacing, John MacAdams.  Steam engine, James Watt.  John Boyd Dunlop, tires.  Postage stamps, John Chalmers.  Kirkpatrick MacMillan, the bicycle.  James MacGregor, bleach.  John Logie Baird, the television.  John Paul Jones, the U.S.Navy.  Sir Robert Watson Watt, radar.  John Napier, logarithms, Alexander Fleming, penicillin.  James Young Simpson, anesthetics.  Shall I go on?  They just need a little extra attention every once in a while, and they’re just fine.”
Kenneth MacKalvey rushed to his room, changed his shirt, combed his hair, and put on a little cologne, all of a sudden craving a little attention from this obviously intelligent, gentle and kind woman, even if she were very homely.  Looks are highly over-rated in today’s society.  An ugly woman can still be a great companion when she’s this intellectual and perceptive, and appreciates a man of his caliber and distinction.  He casually strolled down the hallway and the staircase.
“Oh, Edwards!  I’m suddenly feeling much better.  Is Miss Rosemont still about?  Edwards?  Edwards!” No answer.  He heard a car door shut and looked out the window just in time to see a black Nissan sedan pulling down the driveway, and Edwards waving her off.
“The coast is clear,” Edwards said entering the house.  “The American has left the building.  You are safe from schmoozing, sir,” said Bernard when he came back in the house.
“What was she like, Edwards?” Kenneth asked hesitantly.
“Blue jeans.  Trainers.  Big camera.”
“Yes, but what was she like?”
“Very Nice.  Pleasant.  Sunny. You would have just hated her, sir.”
“Thank you, Edwards.  Yes, I’m sure I would have just hated her.”  Kenneth MacKalvey went back upstairs and sulked.

“Mish, how did it go with Genghis Khan?” asked Tessa, the project manager at the magazine office and Michelle’s best friend.
“Extremely disappointing, Tessa.  He’s sick.  His butler says he’s terminal.”
“Oh, that’s bullshit!  There’s nothing wrong with that nasty old fart, he was probably feeling his usual aristocratic, snobby, antisocial self today.  I can’t see why you like him.  I was really surprised when he agreed to the photo shoot over the phone in the first place, and thrown for a loop when he invited you to have lunch with him at MacKalvey House afterward.  Moira has been trying to get a photographer inside that estate for years. He is known for being arrogant, overbearing, and just plain difficult.  My auntie hates him!”
“Auntie Loretta?  Aunt Loretta loves everybody and feeds everybody.  She’s such a wonderful woman.  She couldn’t hate a soul.”       
“Well, she hates Kenneth MacKalvey.  Never mention his name when she has something sharp in her hand, or when she’s driving,” Tessa warned.
“Why?  He was so sweet and pleasant over the phone.  I can’t imagine him being mean.  He has such a wonderful voice, Tessa.  And I love the way he writes.  I…”
“Yes, and ‘Mr. Sweet and Pleasant’ with the wonderful voice stood you up.  Your little crush stood you up, Mish.  And he’s not dying, and I doubt he’s even sick.  This is the first time in your life you ever got stood up, isn’t it?”
“Yes, and I wanted this, Tessa, to meet him, spend some time with him, talk to him, or just listen to him talk.”
“Welcome to the real world, amica mia, where men are jerks who lie to us, cheat on us, treat us badly, and stand us up.   All they want from us is non-stop sex and no conversation.”
“I can deal with that last part.  You think Moira could talk Kenneth MacKalvey into having some non-stop sex and no conversation with me?”
“Moira has a whole book full of British gentlemen who might agree to that arrangement, but I doubt Kenneth MacKalvey’s on the list. She doesn’t like him either. Nobody around here likes him, Mish. Are you sure you want to meet him? You know what they say, never meet your heroes.”
“Oh, Tess, he was wonderful on the phone, so warm, and sweet.  I felt like I knew him from somewhere else,” she said dreamily, “and knew him very well.”            
“That’s it!  You got the wrong number.  Believe me, there is not a soul in the UK who would use the words wonderful, warm, or sweet to describe Kenneth MacKalvey.  He’s mean, opinionated, nasty, and arrogant.  Forget it, Mish, forget him.  He’s bad news.  Come on, let’s fill in the blanks on next week’s schedule before Moira comes back to the office.  You have your choice.  Yet another Keefer Square shoot or some castle ruins out past Hanover House?” 
“He’s not, Tess.  I know it,” Michelle said softly  “And I can’t forget him.  Um, the castle ruins.  Definitely.”
“Okay.  A hunt in Moreland or some lovely cottages in the valley.”
“Horses make me rash up and sneeze and itch.  The Cotswolds look-alikes.”
“That’s right, the horse thing.  Okay.  The little church on the corner of Howell and Lavelle or ponds in the countryside.”
“Both!  The church won’t take long and I love sloshing around in the mud pondside. I’ll bring my Wellies.”
“Okay.  You’re going to be busy.  I hope the weather cooperates with you.  I’ll print out copies of this, one for Moira, one for you, and one for me, so I know where I sent you.  Okay, we’re done here.”
“No worries.  I make my own sunshine.  Let’s go grab some lunch.  I haven’t eaten.  Remember, the evil Ken doll stood me up.”  They both laughed.
“That fits him so well!  The evil Ken doll.  I can’t.  I’m not supposed to leave the phone unattended.”
“Oh, come on, Tessa, who’s going to call us? This phone never rings. Personally I’ve never heard it ring. I think it lost its ring ability.”
“You’re right.  Who would call us anyway?  Well, okay, but we have to be back before Moira comes in at two o’clock.”  Michelle nodded and they left the office.  
They closed and locked the door.  
A moment later the phone rang.
Kenneth MacKalvey heard the magazine office phone ring and ring, but no one answered it. There was no answering service or machine where he could leave a message for her to return his phone call.  And he wanted to do this now, before he lost confidence and talked himself out of calling her to convince her to reschedule their lunch together.  It would have to be somewhere in town because he still hadn’t found a new cook.  He had no idea how else to reach her.