About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Snow, Secrets, and Seduction #RomanticSuspense #LaborDay

Excerpt of the romantic suspense novel, WhiteOut...

Fog hovered over the river and clung to the staggered pools of hot springs lining the mountainside. Snow-covered banks were lined with giant boulders and spruce trees. The après ski crowd filled the pools of natural spring water, their laughter and low voices carrying across stone paths shrouded with steam from the cold air colliding with heat of the water. Ryan had already settled into one of the upper, more private pools with her flask tucked near him beneath the towels.

Lyle would hate that she was exposing so much of herself—because of the tattoos she'd refused to laser off—but, at the moment, she didn't care for rules or limitations.

Shivering with the bite of the cool air and thankful for the dim light of twilight that stretched across the sky, she shuffled barefoot over the stone steps and slid into the soaking pool. Hot water eased her weary bones, steam slid across her face, and reckless energy snapped through her veins. It had literally been years since she'd spent time alone like this with a man who wasn't carrying a badge of some type. An untamed beat hammered in her heart, reminding her of what it felt like to be free.

Sighing, she closed her eyes, floated her legs in front of her, stretched her arms across the wall at her back, and slid her foot against Ryan's thigh. She liked the way his hard body felt against hers.

"You've got tattoos, I see." He cleared his throat and shifted away from the contact. "Is that a shark? It's a beautiful blue...nice craftsmanship with the flowers."

"The shark is the sign of the warrior for some Pacific Island tribes," she answered without opening her eyes.

"You confuse the hell out of me."

Smiling, she opened her eyes, lifted her foot from the water, and held it close to his face. "Stardust."

He shook his head, grabbed her heel, and looked at the gold stars tattooed on her foot. He met her gaze and smiled. "Careful, Brandi...you're flirting with someone who isn't afraid to go for it."

She pulled her foot free and narrowed her gaze. "Know what I want to do?"

"Me?" He grabbed the flask, opened it, and took a long sip without breaking eye contact.

She pushed away from her side of the pool, waded toward him, staying submerged up to her chin in warmth, used her hands to push his thighs apart, and slipped between them. If he wanted to have his mind blown, she could do that.

Without looking away from his gaze, she snagged the flask from his fingers and took a long sip without flinching.

His focus dropped to the curve of her breasts that floated above the surface and pressed against his chest. He dropped his hands to her hips and grinned. "And here I thought you were shy."

"Why? Because I didn't drop to my knees the first time you said hello?" She slid a wet finger down his face and traced it across his lips.

"I've enjoyed my fair share of après ski soaks," his fingers trailed up her spine before untying the strings of her bikini, "but this isn't a hook-up. I want more than one night with you."

"Why?" She tilted her head to the side so she could see his eyes more clearly in the twilight and steam.

"Because it's taken me months to get to this point and I'm not going back to square one." He rubbed his knuckles along the shark tattoo on her left ribcage. "I like you and your special brand of crazy."

Her smiled faded. He liked her in a way that no one had in a very long time. Fame had found her at sixteen and she'd spent half her life in a glittery bubble filled with beautiful people saying all the right things to feed her ego. But this—being here with Ryan in the half-light with moisture beading their faces and large snow flakes falling against solar lights while his fingers caressed her skin and his eyes looked into hers—this felt like a dream.

"I had you all wrong, Ryan." She didn't move when her bikini top floated up, connected only by the strings around her neck and his hands covered her breasts while he looked at her with a dare in his eyes.

"Yeah? I thought you checked me out on the internet and knew all about my bad boy ways?" His smile turned wicked in an instant. "All you need to do is tell me to back off—something I know you're not afraid to do—and I will."

"You're a choir boy compared to my old crowd." She liked teasing him, but the reality is they probably missed each other at a few of the same parties back in their glory days. They'd both lived fast and hard, wearing their notoriety with ease.

"I'm older now," he kissed her chin, "tamer."

"How disappointing." She held his face between the palms of her hands and kissed him with a slow intensity that had him moaning into the deep recesses of her mouth.

He squeezed her breast with one hand while the other moved to her ass. His legs wrapped around the back of hers, pulling her closer. Water sloshed between their bodies, fog wrapped them in privacy.

She curled one arm around his neck while sliding her other hand down his chest. Their mouths clung to each other while their hands explored. Animalistic need pulsated through her veins. It had been so long since she'd been touched...or done any touching.

His thumb moved over her nipple. He dragged his mouth from hers and kissed her neck.

She reached between their bodies and found his erection. "Damn, you're full of surprises."

"You like?" He sucked on her bottom lip.

"Oh, yeah, I like a lot."  She ground her hips against his hard-on while her fingers teased the tip.

"We're going to get arrested." He smiled, not looking too worried.

"I've got connections you don't know about...I'm sure they'll bail us out." She laughed at the audacity of the moment, trapped in their little world of steam, snow, and spring water. 

He put both of his hands on her breasts, lifted them high in the water, and dipped his head to the curve of her neck. He lightly bit her shoulder while she rubbed herself against his erection. His ankles linked behind her knees, holding her in a tight circle.

Their mouths met in a kiss that melted her bones. She wrapped both arms around his neck and held still, knowing that they were dangerously close to crossing a line.

He gasped against her mouth, hands flat against her back, and eyes open. "You taste like whiskey and feel like heaven."

"Such a poet." She grinned, chest heaving against him while she struggled to regain control of her libido.

"Such a smartass." He nipped her chin.

Sounds of the river bubbled inches away from their heads. They kissed—slowly—eyes wide open.

An abrupt sound of music slashed through the quiet. The après ski crowd laughed somewhere further down in the mist.

Her song, her music.

"Laurel..." a man's voice from somewhere in the mist called. "Laurel!"

She broke away from him and twisted in the water looking for the source. Heartbeat slammed in her throat.

The music grew louder.

She bit her lip and sunk to her chin. Having a panic attack could get her killed, how many times had she been coached about how to act?

"What's the matter?" Ryan asked.

"That song..." She shook her head when it turned off as abruptly as it had begun.

"What song?" He pulled her back against him.

She stared at the swirling mist that competed with the flurries wafting down through the darkness. Night encroached fast this time of year. It wasn't even five o'clock, yet the twilight glow had become black sky. Solar lights around the property showed an increasing amount of people in the lower pools, all half-hidden in shadow.

"Didn't you hear that song?" she whispered against his ear. "Or hear that voice?"

"I was a little preoccupied." He retied the strings of her bikini and adjusted the fabric over her breasts. "Do you have a thing against music?"

"It startled me." Damn it, for a rebel I'm acting like a scared little mouse.

"Maybe we should eat. It's getting crowded and I did promise you a decent meal. I believe you gave me a curfew, too, so I had better keep the evening rolling." He shifted his weight so that her butt sat on the low bench in the water, grabbed her knees to open her legs, and slipped his body between her thighs. Hands pressed against the stones above her shoulders, he grinned before kissing her again.

"We could stay here...I don't mind."

"If we stay here," he whispered against her ear, "we're going to have sex, which would be good, I have no doubt, but I'm trying very hard to be a gentleman."

"Did I say I wanted a gentleman?"

"You're one dangerous woman, aren't you, Brandi Simms?" He nibbled her ear before sliding free of her grasp and fading into the steam. "We're going to move on to phase two of our date...after that, anything goes."

"Anything?"

"Ask and you shall receive." He stepped from the pool, his silhouette illuminated by the solar lights, giving her enough of a glimpse of the wet swim trunks molding his hard ass and long thighs to make her moan with longing. She wanted nothing more than to peel those trunks off of him with her teeth and let the night play out like a scene from a porn film. "I'll meet you at the jeep. You okay with that?"

"Yes," she managed to say from a throat swollen with longing.

"Sexiest voice I've ever heard," he said before wrapping himself in a towel.

She smiled and grabbed her own towel before stepping toward the bag she'd left on the table just out of view. Humming to herself out of habit, she maneuvered over the stone steps to the changing area. Inside, she ignored a few twenty-something's and a mother struggling with young kids and walked into the shower to erase the strong smell of sulfur.

Music. She heard it again. Her song—one of her songs—that she'd won a Grammy Award for several years ago called Bittersweet. Shutting off the shower, she listened hard over the sound of her drumming heartbeat and the chattering of the other women. As if in a trance, she walked into the room, toweling herself dry as she moved. The sound came from outside.

Tucking the towel securely around her body, she stepped out and looked around at the soft glow of lights illuminating a beautiful landscape.

Silence.

"I'm driving myself insane," she whispered before stepping back inside to change. She reached for her bra and panties only to stop at the sight of the magazine article that had been dropped inside the bag.

Laurel Lassiter, rock diva, dead at 31.

A large question mark had been scrawled over the headline in red.

She sank to the bench, rested her elbows on her knees, and struggled to catch her breath.

"Are you okay, ma'am?" One of the twenty-something's asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

Get yourself together, someone is probably watching for your reaction. Stand up. Get dressed. Act as if nothing has happened. Tell Lyle about it later when no one is studying your every move.

With a shake of her head, she changed into her clothes, brushed out her hair, fixed her make-up, and coached herself to breathe.

Images of that last day flashed in her mind...laughing in the dressing room, joking with her band mates...The brush fell from her trembling hands. When she bent to pick it up, more memories assaulted her...the roar of the crowd chanting her name, their signature pump-me-up song playing while they waited backstage, the sight of her sister giving her the thumbs up.

"Fuck it, not now," she whispered to herself and forced herself to stand on trembling legs. Some memories were meant to never surface. She jammed the brush into her bag, gritted her teeth at the sight of the article, and reminded herself to stay in control because this could all be a test of some kind.

And Lyle had suggested the trespassers were a coincidence? Moron.

She walked from the changing area and through the night with her head held high. If someone watched, she wanted them to think she really was Brandi Simms.

And Brandi Simms wouldn't care one bit about a two-year old article about a dead rock star.

Seeing Ryan lounging against his jeep and talking on his cell phone, she fought the urge to sprint the rest of the way.  Snowflakes dotted his black hair like sprinkles. He wore his lined leather coat and Levis with an ease that would make any male model green with envy. His laugh carried to her across the parking lot and made her long for simplicity.


I need to walk away from him before he's sucked into this chaos I call my life. If she had truly been found, then she was putting a target on his back. The knowledge burned a hole in her heart.

From the back cover...


She's been erased.

As a protected witness, Brandi Simms has given up everything that made her unique to start over in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Blending into the background isn't easy, but it's vital for survival. When her handsome yet incorrigible neighbor—former Olympic skier turned cowboy—decides her aloof attitude is a challenge rather than a deterrent, she knows the only right thing to do is resist.

The secrets she hides are deadly.

Ryan Landry isn't accustomed to rejection. Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, he's the local hero who came home to run a ranch and be near his family. The mysterious neighbor who seems content to hang out with dogs rather than humans haunts his fantasies and ignites that competitive drive that led him to the world stage.

He's not one to give up.

When her dangerous past catches up to Brandi, Ryan is determined to break through her secrets to find the truth no matter what the cost. Trapped in a whiteout blizzard with unseen threats lurking in the snow, will they get a chance to create a new beginning or will Brandi's past be the death of them?

Start reading it now and get lost in a world of snow, secrets, and seduction. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Take a Drive in Wide Open Spaces to Shake the Cobwebs from Your Mind #AmWriting #Motivation

When everything starts to get to be too much--too much noise, too much stress, too much overload--get in your car and drive. Anywhere. Leave the city lights and traffic in your rear view mirror and hit the open road without an agenda.

Turn up the radio. Open the window. Let the wind toss through your hair.

Let it be easy.

Don't coach your thoughts, allow them to flow through your mind on a whim.

Notice the scenery around you.

Sing out loud to a song--and sing LOUD! Free up those vocal chords and tap the steering wheel like a drum.

Pull over at some out of the way roadside diner and leave your phone in your pocket. Chat with the waitress about the weather or the specials or the history of the place. Look her in the eye. Smile.

Perhaps find a new town, go their city park, sit on a bench, and look around. What would it be like to live there? Can you imagine an alternate life where you're one of its citizens walking by on the sidewalk looking at you and wondering where you're from and what you're doing? Free up your mind to possibility.

Be childlike in your wonderment of the world and the people in it. There really is more good than bad in the world if you bother to look around, loosen up, and practice kindness.

On your way home, appreciate where you've chosen to build a life. Notice the wonderful things that drew you there. Be grateful for what you have--the bills, the house, the kids, the co-workers--because it really is all temporary.

Tomorrow it could all change. Appreciate today. Soak it up. Embrace your life as is--a perpetual work in progress where you have the power to create every moment and rewrite as you go.



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Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and author coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is the mother of two extraordinary human beings who lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reality is Never What it Seems #BookReview #FridayReads


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 Featuring the brilliant new releases, Butterfly Bones and Dream Journal on the blog today. More than that, I've reviewed each one, too. For those of you familiar with my blog, you know that's not common for me. I try to avoid posting book reviews for a multitude of reasons, but when I read a book so fantastic that I am blown away, then I am compelled to do something about it. Enjoy the features--book reviews are below each one. These are definitely worth your time!  
From the back cover....

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They come in threes; death, tragedy, premonitions.

Life is good for Amanda, normal, just the way she wants it; until she’s awakened on the back lawn by a ghost from her childhood and her dog.

Nightmares and premonition dreams have returned with a sickening dread of change.

Events push her. Dreams pull her.
Her past and future are only a nightmare away.
When the unthinkable happens – reality slams into her with jarring force – she realizes everything can change in less than a day.

The thin walls between reality and imagination begin to blur with the psychological twist of her dreams.

She’s on a dangerous path that threatens everything.
The life she’s worked so hard to create begins to crumble.
Her mind dangles by a damaged thread.

Is there another life she’s supposed to be living?
If there is, will she live to see it?

An excerpt...


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“What a fucking mess you’ve made,” shouts a scruffy girl about eight, with spiky blonde hair, standing in the center of a gravel parking lot. A heavy fog swirls around her, and, for a moment, she disappears into the mist. I look down and see my lap covered in broken windshield glass and leaves. I look back toward her, she waves her arms and jumps around wildly as if she’s trying to get my attention.


I’m dizzy. I try to focus. I can see her mouth move but — “Sorry, I can't hear you.”

She shouts, “No shit!” She gestures with her whole body like a kid having a temper tantrum, her mouth moves again as if she’s shouting, but there is no sound. Then she laughs and I realize she has been mouthing the words like a muted television. She laughs again, brushing hard at the hem of a faded green dress that hangs on her small frame two-sizes too large. “You haven't listened in so long – the fucking sound’s been turned off!”

The fog thins and there’s something about her that’s disturbing. “Do I know you?”

She exhales, looks up at the sky, shakes her head and sighs dramatically.

She’s standing several yards away from me in a sunny parking lot surrounded by old oaks, yet I can hear her sigh? It doesn’t seem right – the distance.

“If you don't — I'm one-hundred-percent fucked.”

“You have a potty mouth.”

“It's inherited.”

“Who are you?”

“Child of a rock star. Or blues singer.” She chuckles. “Or demented, drugged-out-dreamer. Sort of depends on the year.” She does a pirouette in her tattered tennis shoes, sending up a cloud of dust around her feet. “No, wait. I’m a wizard!” Twirling on both feet around and around with her arms out. She stops, staggers, gains control of the wobble and whispers, “Did you like the yellow butterfly? Beautiful against the chrome, wasn't it?” She scuffs the gravel with her toe. “Shame to kill it. But the grill would seem too nightmarish without it. No one wants a plain-old chrome Freightliner grill, a gnat’s fuzzy ass from their nose, etched into their memory, for-ev-ver.”

Liz was in the car with me, laughing, pointing to the water spraying up from the tires of a semi, and then the butterfly battered by the wind and rain on the grill of the truck. “What do you mean, you killed it?”

“Had to, but just this once. Butterflies were our thing – don’t you remember? There wasn’t one we couldn’t name in our rope-scarred neck of the woods.”

“We never killed them.”

“I’m desperate here. Okay?” She sighs loudly and bats at the hem of her dress. “Anyway. Back to who I am. I’m your Fairy Godmother – here to rescue your sorry ass, Cinderella. Oh, no, no. I know! I'm your sensitive inner-child.” She laughs insanely bold. “I really love that, inner-child, how’s that even possible when I’m older? You notice how no-one ever says poltergeist, juvenile delinquent or inner demon.” She shouts holding her arms up to the sky, “Hallelujah! Praise Jeez-Sus!” Then places her hands on her hips and stares at me a long unblinking moment. “No? Nothing? You don’t remember? Seriously? If I was the monster-under-the-bed, or spit green-pea soup at you, would you get it? No, fuck, guess not.” She steps in close with an exaggerated Mother-may-I step.

I realize with a start that she’s me. I was ten, waiting in the parking lot outside the church. Talking, bitching, to an imaginary friend, one I had created on Zita’s instructions to be older and wiser version of myself, we were playing Mother, may I, but the imaginary older me was acting stupid and it was pissing me off.

How is this possible? Seeing my younger self, talking to an older me that I’d invented. And now I am the older – talking to the younger from the other direction.

“This is unreal.”

“NAAAAH! Wrong again! This is as real as it gets, princess. I'm trying to save your charmed ass. Actually, my ass. I’m selfish like that.” Raising her arms, she turns in a circle, shouting to the bright blue sky like a circus Ringmaster. “Ladies and Gentlemen, can we have your attention, please! We need some fucking help here!” Then she turns to me and whispers, “Am I blurry?”

“No.”

“Shit. I don't know if that's good or bad. I think I should be a little blurry or misty. A tiny bit wavy or something. I’m not? You sure?”

“You're not. You’re loud. You're giving me a headache.”

“No, I'm not touching you. It's the tree. The oak tree is giving you a headache, probably angry with you for hitting it with your damn car. Or maybe the bent steering wheel’s complaining. Don't go blaming me. Blaming me is not good. Especially if I'm the last thing you see.”

My review...

Butterfly Bones is one of the most creative, evolved stories I've read in a long time. The story brought up a lot of emotions for me personally, actually, as I, too, feel as if I'm standing on a crossroads in life where I'm questioning my choices and goals---just like Amanda. In the story, she grapples with loyalties, love, longing, and loss. The writer weaves an eloquent story that both enchants and challenges us to look at our own lives. What would our younger self think of us now if we could meet? 

This is more than a five star read. The characters are vivid and three dimensional. The writing style is brilliant. The story is a mix of emotionally complex women's fiction with quirky paranormal twists that pushes this to another level of story-telling that is truly extraordinary. I highly recommend it! 

From the back cover...

PREMONITION DREAMS COME IN THREES

As a child Amanda dreamed of her funeral. She was there, a spirit hiding behind the honey suckle watching the mourners, listened to their comments, ‘too young... only thirty-two...’
She turned thirty-two on Christmas.

She hasn’t sleepwalked or been woken up by her ghost and his cat in years but this one dream haunts her. She tries to brush it off as a childish fear, but she knows the difference between a nightmare and a premonition dream. This was no nightmare.

Against the odds, she’s created a normal life; an investment adviser, living with her husband in a comfy bungalow with a yard large enough to plays Frisbee with her dog. Life is good.

Until one hot August night.
In the predawn hours, she’s awakened under the old oak tree of her back yard by her childhood ghost, from a dream with the sticky webs of a premonition.

They’ve returned. The thin wall between reality and imagination begins to blur.

She starts this dream journal to help untwist the dangerous symbolism buried deep in the dreams. Will they come true? Will she live to see thirty-three?

This is a collection of dreams by Amanda J. Wilde, a character in the novel BUTTERFLY BONES. This is Amanda’s journal, her thoughts and fears, because as adults, there are very few people we can discuss ‘premonition dreams’ with (and expect to keep our job) and even fewer still that will help untwist their meaning. She keeps this journal to herself (mostly) even as the life she’s created starts to crumble around her.
 A spin-off short story, from the novel Butterfly Bones – Visions are the voice of the soul

An excerpt...

Holding onto clumps of grass, slipping at the rain-slick muddy edge of the cliff, I’m on the verge of hysterics as I slide further, slowing losing my grip.

The heavy, blowing rains have carved a cave into the earth under the slick grassy edge. The cliff face has sheared off, crumbled away and fallen into a deep river gorge.

Each time I grab a handful of grass to pull myself up, it pulls out in a muddy clump.

I slip further and scream, “Help!”

I can see over my shoulder to a rocky riverbed a hundred or so feet below with a muddy thread of a river frothing and tumbling between boulders.

My right leg dangles free in the air, I struggle to touch anything with it and only find more air.

It seems I’ve been struggling, hanging on by my fingernails for hours.

I scream help again and hear laughter.

I look up to see my friend Kerry with Brad, looking over the cliff’s edge, laughing at me.

They must not realize how much danger I’m in.

“Help! I need a hand please! It’s too muddy. I can't get a grip to pull myself up.”

Kerry laughs and slaps her thighs. Laughs too hard to speak.

Can’t she see the drop below me?

Brad says, “I told you to lose weight, get in shape. How many times have I told you to workout harder, you've lost all your muscle tone, you let yourself go to flab. This is your fault fat-ass.” He turns and walks away.

Kerry smirks at him, stops laughing and says, “Don't worry, Sweetie. I'll help you out of this mess. Always have, haven’t I?” She turns and walks away.

She’s gone for so long that I start to worry she’s left.

I’m at the very edge now with both feet kicking at the wind, my hands are slick with mud, and fingernails are broken off at the quick from digging so hard into the grass’s muddy roots, trying to find a grip. I’m panicked. Tears of fear, anger and frustration blur my vision. I can’t pull myself up and the more I try, the more I slip. My muscles burn, my fingers cramp in pain and sting.

I’m an inch now from the muddy edge and the concaved slick earth carved out under me. The line where the grass and mud have given away is curved down to eye level. There’s nothing to grab should I slip an inch. My pulse hammers in my ears as fear rises.

I’m going to die here.
 
“Hey!” Kerry extends a thick stick out over the edge of the cliff. My breath catches as I dangerously slip, reaching for the stick with one hand.

I grasp and tear, struggling to find a handhold in the slick grass, crawling with my arms and elbows, as she pulls, digging her heels in the muddy ground. She’s chuckling, shaking her head.

The humor escapes me.

She’s pulling me up inch-by-inch.

My breath is ragged and my heart pounds as I inch my way up to my ribs on the cliff's muddy edge, holding onto the stick now with both hands. I’m so grateful my chest aches and my eyes blur with tears of relief. My panic begins to subside as my hips near the grassy slope where I’ll finally be able to pull myself up onto the muddy ground.

Kerry says, “You’re as gullible as ever,” and lets go of the stick.

I gasp and fall back into open-air.

I'm so shocked — I can’t scream.

I fall, watching a half smile on her face, her eyes looking directly into mine, until all I can see is a tiny silhouette of her at the top of the cliff, backed by bright blue sky.

My review...
 I couldn't get enough of these short stories. A few of them actually made me cry. The emotional impact is like a sledgehammer to the gut--I loved them all! The talent of this author truly surpasses most. Literary in style, almost lyrical at times, yet approachable. They are weird in a quirky paranormal way, but if you love opening your mind to the idea of premonition dreams and fantasy, then you will love this collection as much as I did. I guarantee it. Any great lover of literature will find these stories compelling and heart-wrenching. Wait until you read the one where she's in Belize swimming with dolphins...I cried like a baby. Or the one with the doll on the beach or the monks in the mountains...seriously, I cannot find a flaw. They are all profound in their own way. This is a five star read, but I'd give it ten if I could.