Monday, June 1, 2015


COOKING UP TROUBLE takes us back to Homespun Theater.

Audrey is someone we've met before, a member of the ensemble at Homespun. She has two loves -- theater, and cooking. She went to culinary school. As chief baker for Stay-a-While, she's perfectly happy. Her bosses are great, and she gets along with most of her co-workers. Her dream, though, is to be involved in dinner theater, combining both her loves.

Steve Vincente comes back to Tabor, after helping out during the crisis featured in BEHIND THE SCENES. He decided he liked working in live theater, and the Randolphs have agreed to let him come back and work at Homespun. More important, he wants to get to know his newly discovered half-sister, Max -- and help her survive the fuss and publicity and paparazzi troubles that come with being the daughter of a Hollywood legend.

Steve and Audrey are cast as Romeo and Juliette, and then they are partnered to head up Homespun's experiment with dinner theater. More important, they work together to help protect Max and Tony as the time for their wedding approaches and the paparazzi get more insistent and tricky. Partnership turns to friendship, but will it turn to something more when they both have secrets and hidden fears that sometimes make it hard to see what's really going on in the person who has become very important to them?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CHARLI: Excerpt #13

Dr. Carson sighed, biting back the natural response to ask why her daughter, who was a genius even if she had never been tested, couldn’t manage to feed herself. Unless whatever kept her from opening the refrigerator was what had brought her home? She did feel her spirits rising as she finished neatening up the breezeway, and turned off the rest of the equipment, and headed for the connecting doorway between breezeway and house. The chances of that plant she had sent a photo of being so unique and wonderful that Charli had to hurry home were slim. Still, if she had been injured, she would have said so. Dr. Carson suspected, though, that unless she was bleeding badly enough to need stitches, Charli still wouldn’t have come out to the greenhouse while Miller and Thomas had been there.

She had to do something about her daughter’s aversion to most strangers. Miller was a friend, after all. Just because he was the first to find Charli after she and Matt had shattered on the pavement after surprising a late-night intruder in their lab, that was no reason to avoid him. He had saved her life. He was a link to the past.

“Reason enough?” she sighed. “Lord, I know we don’t talk often enough, but… something needs to be done about Charli. She can’t go through the rest of her life living like this, getting along better with wild animals than people. She’s a brilliant botanist and theoretician, and the best lab assistant I could ever want, but You made her for so much more in life. Please… do something?”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

CHARLI: Excerpt #12

“Home early, aren't you?” She held her breath, anticipating… she wasn’t sure what she anticipated, but it couldn’t be good. Her daughter simply didn’t, couldn’t break plans and routines. It was part of how she coped with her bad leg and her nightmares.

“Emergency,” Charli said, her tone bright. Meaning it wasn’t anything painful or dangerous, which intrigued Dr. Carson despite the momentary irritation. More irritation at realizing that she was just as set in her ways, hating any breaks in expectations and routines, as her daughter. “Any breakthroughs while I was gone?”

“That depends on what you call a breakthrough. Although you certainly weren’t gone long enough for anything at all to happen. What kind of emergency?”

“Not my leg, so stop worrying. Come and see.”

“Let me shut everything down and I'll be right in.” She decided to be amused. Charli certainly sounded excited about something. Then again, she had the same strained, holding-back sound in her voice when something infuriated her. What could she have seen or found or done that brought her home early from her inspection trip to the growing station and the cave camp? “Hungry?”


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CHARLI: Excerpt #11

 “This won't taste very good, but I guarantee it'll help you feel a whole lot better.” She stroked the cub’s muzzle and the hungry little creature opened its mouth, trying to suckle on her thumb again. Charli held her breath as she caught hold of the bottom of the cub’s jaw with one hand and slid the end of the eye-dropper into its mouth, trying to get it far enough in to get the liquid down its throat without making it choke or gag.

The cub convulsed, trying to shake free of the eye-dropper and let out a yip of surprise. She squeezed the bulb and watched for green liquid to come out of the cub’s mouth. It swallowed and struggled to its feet, wriggling in what she imagined was disgust, maybe nausea, but no medicine escaped. She let go of its mouth and dared to stroke down the cub’s back.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

A yelp that was definitely pain escaped and she pulled back her hand to see the cub balanced on three legs, holding the fourth up to its side at a crooked angle.

“I hope those scuzzbuckets drove off a cliff, trying to get out of here,” she growled.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

CHARLI: Excerpt #10

She stepped back from the cub, watching it. To her relief and delight, it raised its head and followed her movements. No coughing, no blood at nose or mouth or ears. Maybe there were no internal injuries. At least none that would threaten its life.

Trying to watch the cub to make sure it didn’t suddenly jump to its feet and leap off the table, Charli stumbled around the kitchen, stepping momentarily into the storage room for a sealed canister of dull green analgesic and detoxifying powder she had helped her mother develop. It had been a byproduct of their main research effort, and they had agreed to use it for a year or two before reporting on it and possibly finding someone interested in manufacturing and selling it -- and dealing with the fees and paperwork to get it analyzed and approved by the FDA.

She poured a glass of water and mixed a spoonful of the powder into it, turning the water a murky green. Another trip into the storage room yielded an eyedropper. Charli stirred the solution around until it lost some of its opacity, then sucked the eye-dropper full and stepped back over to the table.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

CHARLI: Excerpt #9

Charli glared at the intercom. Agent Miller wasn’t putting pressure on her mother again, was he? Sometimes she swore most of the unpleasantness over their government funding and her mother’s strict secrecy didn’t come from Miller’s superiors, but from Miller himself. What did he think it would profit him to get Dr. Rachel Carson to make claims and release her findings years ahead of schedule, when everything was still theory? True, they had had some successes in the last two years, but that was no reason to leap into the spotlight. Recreating medicinal plant species that had been lost in the destruction of the rainforests was a delicate process that couldn’t be forced or predicted. One time, she had caught Miller arguing with her mother, accusing her of holding back on releasing her research findings because she feared someone would attack them here, in this isolated lab, just like her husband and Charli’s father had been attacked all those years ago.

The cub whimpered. Charli turned away from the intercom so fast, she almost lost her balance. She reached for the edge of the table, grasping it to brace herself, and dragged her bad leg a few steps when it twinged. Her anger drained away as she unwrapped the cub. It looked up at her, holding still, its eyes enormous in its muddy little face.

“Hey… it’s gonna be okay. I promise.” Slowly, she offered her limply clenched fist to the cub. To her delight, it nuzzled her hand, then latched onto her thumb, sucking. Charli winced when the sharp little milk teeth dug in. “I bet you’re hungry. Are you up to eating anything solid or are you still on milk?” Grinning, she straightened up and gently tugged her hand free. “Yeah, like you understand a word I say. I’m gonna fix you up. Sorry, but medicine comes before food. You’re more likely to take the medicine if your belly isn’t full.”

Monday, May 11, 2015

CHARLI: Excerpt #8

“I only wanted to find a cure for the common cold,” Dr. Carson said with a shrug. She grinned when the two men laughed, and raised her cup to sip. Then she saw the yellow button light up on the intercom panel, and paused. The only person who knew there was an option to listen and not speak was Charli. What was her daughter doing home so soon?

“You've done a lot more than that, Rachel,” Miller said. “I'm no scientist, but these advances in genetic--“

“We're still in the theory stage, and very hazy theories at that. Please emphasize that when you make your report.”

“You act like nobody listens to you. Believe me, nobody wants to lose your cooperation.”

“Any more than I want to lose the financial support and protection you and your very patient superiors have given me all these years.” She caught the slight questioning glance Thomas gave first her, then Miller. Obviously, this new man wasn’t aware of the history between them. Didn’t he know they were friends from way back, when her husband was still trying to find support and funding for his research into regenerative tissue theory, and Miller was still a very junior agent, eager to prove himself?