I heard that tonight’s guest, author Mari Evans, who wrote Trusting Love, just returned from an amazing trip to California. So, I ran right out to the furniture store and picked up a California King bed (you’ll see the way I decorated the guest bedroom in a second so SLOW DOWN, readers) to help make Mari feel like she’s back on vacation. Hehehe…
(Places tray on table in hallway.) Check out what I’m feeding her.
Yes, indeed…straight from California Pizza Kitchen. There’s California Veggie Pizza (Mari knows how important it is to eat her veggies), a sweet California Fields Salad and for dessert…well, for now we are going to skip the sweets and have some of these.
(picks up a drink and takes a sip)
I’ll give her a fair chance to hop under the covers and pull them up to her chin, if you catch my drift. (knocks and picks up the tray)
Oh, wonderful. Mari is inviting me in… Follow along behind me, please. (enters the bedroom and places tray on the corner table)
Oh, don’t you look cozy, my adorable little sis, Mari. With those covers all pulled up to your chin… Are you ready to eat, or would you rather talk about your book, Trusting Love?
Okay, here, sweetie, start with your salad, it’s a California Fields Salad FYI… I’ll show your cover pictures and tell our little audience about your book.
Mari’s first publication is called Trusting Love, published by Dreamspinner Press.
It is absolutely gorgeous, sis. Don’t you all agree?
And here’s the blurb. I’m going to read it out loud so listen up.
(sits in the chair against the wall and crosses her legs)
Laurie Stallon isn’t like other high schoolers. After suffering years of abuse at his father’s hands, he now lives in a foster care facility and finds solace volunteering at the local animal shelter. Laurie’s had to grow up fast, and even though his eighteeth birthday is still weeks away, he’s more adult than most adults he knows. When he meets Dr. Sam Davies, the new shelter veterinarian, the attraction is instant. They become friends at work, but Laurie knows Sam will never go for someone like him. No matter how Laurie tries to prove his maturity to Sam, Sam continues to reject him as too young.
Needing a distraction, Laurie goes out dancing for his birthday and finds his life in danger yet again. When Sam is called to the hospital, he realizes Laurie needs someone to care for him. Sam takes him home, and they slowly build a relationship. But more than their age difference works against them. Facing the disapproval of friends and the scars from Laurie’s past, they’ll need to put all their trust in love for a chance at a future together.
Well, that sounds like a MUST-READ, Mari!! (a murmur of agreement rises from the crowd)
Now that your stomach is full and the audience has been introduced to your book, Trusting Love, let’s chat for a while. May I sit on the end of your bed?
(stands up and crosses the room, then sits down gingerly on the edge of the bed)
Truthfully, I’d be much more comfortable if I just climbed right up there and leaned on the headboard right beside you. Move over, sis.
(climbs to the top of the bed and sits on the pillow next to Mari)
Mari, I will apologize in advance, but I have a tendency toward nosiness. So here are some overly personal questions from your nosy big sis.
(And guess what folks? This is my FIRST EVER INTERVIEW!)
Mia: I am in awe of you because you wrote a book in your SECOND language (or third, not sure.) How did you learn English well enough to write a book in it??
Mari: It’s my second language. Although I live really close to the German border, I hardly speak a word German.
We all get English in school here. I started at the age of ten or something, but it’s all very basic then. Nowadays there are schools that start teaching it in kindergarten already.
I don’t know why my english is pretty okay, it just always was. In high school I always had reasonable grades until I was a senior, then it became all A’s.
Then of course there is tv, music and movies that are all english, or subtitled. You learn a lot from that. But recently––past years–– I started reading only in English and that helped with my grammar and spelling a lot, although they still kind of suck compared some.
Mia:I know you said the editing process was challenging. Was it a challenge to do all of the specific edits because of the language or was it other things you found challenging. I said challenge a lot, didn’t I?
Mari: The challenge was first of all the amount of edits. The fact that my English isn’t perfect made it that I had to edit a lot of tense mistakes. Also the comma and semi-colon rule and stuff. But most of all, it was all the explanations for the grammar and stuff…they made my head swirl. But once I got the hang of it, everything went fine.
Mia: Now we’ll get a bit more, um personal…How did you meet your husband?
Mari: His friend was dating my friend, but we didn’t really hung out until one day at a typical Dutch holiday ‘carnaval’ he lost track of his buddies and just trailed along with me and my friend.
In the end he said; “You’re not that much of bitch as my friend always says.” (he was drunk) Then we started hanging out from time to time, and our friends did the whole, ‘are you dating yet’ routine, over and over again. Until one day the hubby said ‘yes’. It wasn’t true at the time so I protested. The he said very romantically, “Do you want to make it official?” Me: “Um, do you?” Him: “Sure.” Then h got on his bicycle and left my house. I was eighteen at the time and he was twenty one….
Mia: Tell us about your daughter. We want details.
Mari: She’s very social, talkative and active. She loves attention and will do anything to get it. Her urge to share is overwhelming, you don’t get to say no 😉
She just turned eight on the summer holiday, when we were in California. It was her first time traveling, and she did extremely well. She loves her mommy (no idea why). Oh yeah, he hobbies are; Ballet, dancing, crafts, talking, talking and watching tv.
Mia: How did you get the idea for your book?
Mari: A friends was trying to sell her horse when she met this boy. He had an knack for training and riding horses. She told me a little about him. Like that he lived in a foster care facility, still had a great relationship with his mom, was caring (he wanted to be a nurse). then she showed me a picture and he just clicked in my head…Laurie was born. Sam came along naturally after that.
Mia: Which three M/M books most inspired you to write? (a hard one, I know)
Mari: Pfff really hard. I love everything by Cardeno C, so her writing style inspired me a lot. I know that’s more than three books, but her books hold so much warmth, romance and emotion, I could only hope to ever write that way.
Seeing as you are all cudled up in bed, I’d like to find out about your sleeping habits…Do you have a recurring dream? Tell us all about it.
Mari: Recurring dream? No, not really. I used to when I was very young. I dreamed I would walk to school and would fall down or into the bushes. Then a handsome boy would help me up. Sometimes I would see some things first when I was lying in the bushes. It would be scary and the boy would comfort me.
Here’s a random question from my daughter, Demi: tell us about your ideal vacation.
Mari: It doesn’t really matter where––although an English speaking country could be nice––as long as it’s sunny and warm. I want relaxation but I don’t want to just be lazing around. So nice towns around, ocean, nature, or culture is a must. I just came home from California and it was amazing….
And a random question from my youngest daughter, Sisi: Where do (or did as a girl) you hide your diary?
Mari: Don’t have one, never did.
Mia: What are your future goals as a writer. Lay it on us. In other words, WHAT’s NEXT FOR MY LITTLE SIS?
Mari: I’m writing a series with Violet Joicey-Cowen. It’s about a little town in England, and it centers around a thrift shop. It will have stories in every genre, my first two will be a paranormal and a YA.
I’m also working on a fantasy kind of story. It’s not paranormal or anything, but a mix of historic and fantasy.
I’ve also been asked by Andi Van to co-write a story.
Well, Mari. That was an incredibly enlightening interview.
(Climbs off bed and moves to center of the room, faces the audience)
How about a little teaser? I’ll read our friends a little sample, how does that sound Mari? And meanwhile, I hope you are in the mood for pizza. (removes salad plate and replaces with pizza) Oh, silly girl—yes, of course I expect you to eat it all. It’s all for you!! And don’t forget to use your napkin, dear. You have a piece of a strawberry stuck to your lower lip. Just saying.
“OH FUCK, not again.” Laurie Stallon muttered while reaching down to pick up a clean towel from the stack on the floor. “It’s just the door closing, Billy. Nothing to be afraid of, and especially nothing to pee all over your entire cage about… again.”
Laurie opened the door of the little cage and lifted up the small, scared dog that was shivering and cowering in a corner. After setting the dog on the floor with a soft “stay,” he removed the old newspapers from the bottom of the cage and wiped it down with the towel. Usually Laurie would put a dog on a leash that was hooked onto the wall, but Billy was such a good dog, he would stay if he were told. Obviously Billy had been trained. The fact that he was so scared, indicated he might not have been trained with a soft hand.
Billy was a small dog with a lot of curly hair in multiple colors. There were at least three different breeds in there. One must be poodle, because he had poodle-like hair. If you looked at the eyes, there was probably shih tzu in there somewhere. The rest was indecipherable.
Laurie disposed of the wet newspapers in the corner garbage bin and fetched a bucket of antiseptic cleaning solution. The rags he used to clean all the cages were ratty but did the job just fine. Laurie finished Billy’s temporary home using an extra thick layer of newspapers to cover the bottom, just in case. Billy was one of the almost thirty dogs and fifty cats that lived at the shelter and needed new homes.
Laurie was a volunteer at the shelter––along with many others–– yet still they were always shorthanded. There was so much to be done every day and only a handful of paid employees—and even those were a strain on the tight budget.
After putting Billy back in his cage, Laurie cleaned out the other cages in the room. The shelter was housed in an old building. The building was big but dilapidated, and it was hard to keep up with all the repairs. There weren’t many volunteers who wanted to spend their entire day fixing up the building—when as soon as they turned their back, something else would immediately break down.
After he cleaned all the cages, got the garbage bag out of the bin, and put it in the dumpster next to the back entrance, Laurie straightened his back to get the kinks out. With a deep sigh, he went back inside. He wanted to get the other dog room cleaned out this morning too.
A new vet was coming in today. The old one had retired the week before, and his replacement had graciously agreed to continue the shelter work. Laurie hoped the new guy was just as nice and cared as much for the animals as the previous vet. He was going to miss the old doc.
The one other volunteer here today was in charge of the cat rooms. Maybe if he finished early, he could help her so they would be done when the new vet arrived. Laurie wanted the shelter to make a good first impression, or at least the best one possible under the circumstances.
Laurie tended to talk quietly or make soothing sounds at the animals when he was working. There were quite a few abused or neglected animals that were easily scared. Today was no different, and when he bent down to pet one of the more nervous dogs through the bars of her cage, he made all sorts of shushing sounds. “Shhhh, sweetie, nothing’s going on, just cleaning, see? Hmmmm, you’re a beautiful girl, aren’t you? Yes you are….”
When Laurie heard someone clearing his throat behind him, he almost jumped through the ceiling, squealing like a little girl. Well, that was nice and manly.
“Oh my God, you scared the crap out of me! Nobody is supposed to be back here. How did you get in?” Laurie snapped. When he turned around, he went completely still.
In the doorway stood a man who took his breath away. His blond hair was long enough in the front to fall onto his forehead, though not long enough to reach his eyes, and it was shorter at the sides. It looked tousled by the wind, or maybe by his hand. His eyes were a beautiful blue, with some darker specks. His nose was straight and thin, his jaw strong and masculine. When Laurie’s eyes landed on his lips, he started getting a warm feeling, beginning in his belly and spreading to his fingers. Those lips looked firm, yet soft, not too thin and not too thick. Realizing he’d been staring for at least ten full seconds, Laurie snapped out of his weird fuzz. That beautiful mouth tilted into a small, amused smile, and he knew he was busted.
“I’m sorry, but you didn’t hear me knock. I just wanted to come in to introduce myself and ask for directions. I’m Sam Davies, the new veterinarian.”
Even though Dr. Davies said he was sorry, the guy didn’t look very sorry at all.
Laurie was mortified. Not only had the man caught him staring, he’d also snapped at the new doc. Way to make a good first impression.
“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know anyone was here. I thought you wouldn’t arrive until later. I didn’t hear anyone come in, and you scared me. I never meant to snap like that. I’m so sorry, really I am.” Oh God, please let me stop with this rambling.
Laurie didn’t dare look into Doc Davies’s face, until he heard a soft chuckle. Sam Davies was watching him with obvious mirth, his eyes twinkling and his lips spread in a wide grin. “That’s okay,” Sam said. “I’m not offended that easily.”
Laurie blushed a deep red and shuffled his feet. Why did this have to happen to him and not to Steffi, who was just two doors away in the cat room? He had totally embarrassed himself with the new vet. And why did the guy have to be so gorgeous? Not only did he have a beautiful face, he also had a body to drool over—long and muscular, but not too buff. He had more of a lean but strong build. Long, strong legs were clad in fitted jeans. His shoulders pulled the shirt tight at the top, but it was looser at the bottom due to his small waist. The man must be at least six foot three.
Laurie’s own body wasn’t anything like that. He was barely five foot six and had no visible muscles. He’d always thought of himself as scrawny, though his friends said he was slender. His hair was dark, almost black, and he had a fine bone structure and delicate features. People told him he had a “pretty” face, but pretty was for girls, not men. He had bright green eyes, which he considered kind of cool with his dark hair—maybe the only really cool thing about him.
His eyelashes were thick and long, enhancing the pretty appearance, and his lips were too full and too pink, and his nose too pointy. Laurie always hated it when girls commented on any of those things, saying how they wished they had those lashes or lips. He wished he could look like Doc Davies over there—manly and strong.
Laurie flicked his bangs out of his eyes before speaking, “Um, hi. I’m Laurie Stallon and I’m one of the volunteers here. I was just finishing up. Would you like some coffee or tea? Or water… we don’t have anything else.” Laurie fell silent after that, at a loss for anything else to say. He nervously chewed his lower lip, which had a little ring in it. He had developed the habit of playing with it, or with his tongue piercing, when he felt shy or uncomfortable.
Thank God Sam wasn’t shy. He simply stepped into the room and started looking into the cages, checking the dogs. When he had checked the last one and scratched the dog’s ear through the bars, he turned back to Laurie.
“Most of them look quite well. They don’t appear to be in bad health, but of course I would have to do a full physical examination to be sure. Do you have any charts on them? Did Doctor Benson examine all these dogs already?” He was instantly all business, and Laurie had to switch gears fast to keep up.
“He did most of them, except for those two over there.” Laurie pointed at two cages at the front of the room, near the door. “They came in yesterday and have only been fed and gotten some sleep. They aren’t malnourished, and they’re pretty friendly. This older lady found them tied up to a tree right outside her driveway. She brought them here in the hope we could locate the owners. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that would probably never happen.”
After blurting all that out in one go, Laurie had to take a big gulp of air. When he glanced at the new vet, he saw that the man had gotten a hard look in his eyes. Oh, shit. I think I pissed him off. But then Doc Davies walked over and opened the door of one of the cages. He reached inside and picked up the dog that looked a bit like a basset hound. Laurie had to use both hands to lift him and had still struggled to get him back into the cage, but Dr. Davies lifted him easily. It made Laurie feel like a bit of a wuss, but he also almost drooled at Sam’s strength.
Sam looked into the dog’s eyes and lifted her lip to look at her gums. Laurie watched as the vet gently stroked her back and murmured in her long ears. The dog softly wagged her tail, her droopy eyes full of trust. Laurie wished Sam would pet him too. He bet it would make him wag his tail as well. He felt a tiny stab of envy in his gut for the dog, but he quickly pushed it down.
“How often do you work here?” Sam asked, never taking his eyes off the dog.
“I come in about three or four times a week. On Saturday I’m here for almost the entire day, but on Mondays and Thursdays I can only come in after school, usually around four. When they need extra help, they call me sometimes during the rest of the week.” Laurie shifted from foot to foot, nervously. He didn’t know what the doc was getting at with this question, and it was making him feel defensive.
“May I ask how old you are?” Sam was looking at him now, still stroking the dog in his arms. When Laurie didn’t answer immediately, Sam turned and lifted the dog back into her cage. When the dog whined, a sad little sound, Sam petted her head and told her, “It’s okay, girl. We’ll check you out later and then find you a good new home.” After that, he closed the cage and turned back to Laurie, raising one eyebrow as if to say “Going to answer me?” Laurie reluctantly said, “I’m seventeen, but I’ll be eighteen in three months.” He didn’t want to look into the doc’s face any longer, so he dropped his gaze and stared at his shoes.
He was never shy like this anymore—never timid or at a loss for words—but this man, this new vet, had him tongue-tied and flustered. Laurie’s usual bubbly and energetic personality was suddenly completely gone.
“Isn’t that a bit young to work here that often?” Sam sounded surprised more than disapproving. “I know you must be a senior in high school, and you need to study for your finals soon, right?” This time there was a note of concern in his voice. Laurie blinked, not knowing how to interpret that concern. “Huh…? I guess. I mean, yes of course I have to study, but not all the time. I use Sundays to study almost the entire day, and the rest of the week I do my homework at school during breaks and in the evenings at home.” He blushed again at how defensive he sounded.
Before he could say anything else, Steffi barged into the room. “Laurie, have you seen the keys to the file cabinet? I can’t find them and I need an adoption form for—Oh, hello.” Steffi stopped abruptly in her tracks when she spotted Sam. She gave Laurie a quizzical look over her shoulder. “I didn’t know you had company. Who have we here?”
Steffi held out her hand to Sam, and Laurie could imagine her gray eyes sparkling mischievously, the way they always did when she was interested in other people’s lives. The wavy brown ponytail pulled high on her head bobbed up and down as her head moved. It only added to her playful appearance.
Sam shook her hand and gave her a smile of his own. “I’m Sam Davies, the new veterinarian. How nice to meet you…?”
Steffi gasped in shock. “Oh God, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it. We usually don’t let people back here at this time of day, so I thought you were visiting Laurie. If I’d known you were the new doc, I would have never been so forward.” She looked over her shoulder again and said in an exasperated tone, “You could have warned me the new doc was here, you know.”
At this, Sam burst out laughing. “Relax guys, I’m a little early because I wanted to check out the shelter and the treatment room. Laurie here was just as surprised as you when I walked in. He hasn’t had time to warn you because I’ve only been here a couple of minutes.” He chuckled some more. “If all the volunteers are this funny, I’m going to love working here.” At this he finally dropped Steffi’s hand. Somehow Laurie found it very annoying that they’d held hands that long, but he couldn’t quite figure out why. He shoved the feeling to the back of his mind and got back into the conversation.
“Well, now that we’re all acquainted, why doesn’t Steffi show you around so I can finish up here?” He tried to bustle them out of the room without being too obvious. He really needed some space to find his bearings again. It irked Laurie a little when he saw how easily Sam went with Steffi, and how easily Steffi flirted with him. Why couldn’t he be that relaxed when he met strangers? Oh, he handled himself pretty well when he was around people he knew, even if they were assholes and bullies. The jocks in school always had it in for him, trying to provoke him, and even beating him up once or twice. He didn’t let that get to him… not anymore. He just outwitted them––or when there were too many, kept his head down and walked away as fast as possible without looking like he was running from them.
Laurie didn’t have a lot of friends, especially at school, but he had a few real and loyal girlfriends. They hung out after school or went dancing on the weekends. On those occasions he didn’t have any trouble talking to strangers, but that was because he was prepared. He loved to dance and was surprisingly good at it. On the dance floor he became one with the music, his body moving sensually along with the beat. There was never a lack of attention when he was at a club—boys and girls alike were drawn to him, and he loved to flirt back—but he always went home with his friends.
Laurie had never specifically told his friends he was gay, but somehow they just knew from the start. They took him to the mall and asked for his opinion about clothes or makeup. They completely accepted him for who he was. Laurie never had boys for friends; even in kindergarten, he only had girlfriends. Boys seemed to know he was different—maybe too girly, or perhaps just too shy—and they didn’t have the patience to try to get him out of his shell.
Today was no different. Sam had probably already sensed he wasn’t like him and moved away because of it. Laurie sighed. Just as well. He’s too handsome and smart for me anyway. He’s probably not even gay. I wonder how old he is. He looks kind of young to be a vet already, but hey, what do I know? Shaking himself out of his reverie, he went back to the last of the dog cages he needed to clean.
When he had thoroughly scrubbed the entire room and petted all the dogs just one more time, Laurie went looking for Steffi and Sam. He found them in the staff room, drinking the god-awful coffee they brewed at the shelter. Laurie got himself a glass of water from the tap and sat down next to Steffi, as far away from Sam as he could without being too obvious or rude. Setting his glass on the table, he leaned his elbows on the wooden surface and put his chin on his hands. He quietly listened to their conversation. Steffi was talking about some of the animals that were up for adoption, telling him cute stories about them and a few of their characteristics. Sam asked questions about the treatment some of the animals had received and what the old doc used to do. Of course there was the usual neutering and vaccination, but some of the animals that came in were in bad shape. The really big operations were always weighed against the benefits to the life and happiness of the animal, but also against the chance of adoption and the costs. It was harsh, but sometimes it was more humane to put an animal out of its misery. Laurie always hated when that happened––he would be upset for hours, sometimes days after.
Laurie’s mind had started to drift into his own little world when he heard Steffi call his name.
“Huh? What?” he asked, looking at her but still feeling lost in thought. Steffi giggled, honest-to-God giggled, at his expression. “Were you daydreaming again?”
Laurie was piqued with her for making him sound like an airhead, but he let it slide. “No. Just tired I guess. I think I’ll go home early today, if that’s all right with you?” He knew Steffi would be on her own if he went home, but most of the work was done, so she’d only be handling possible adoptions. He really was tired, and if he wanted to go dancing tonight, he could use a little nap. Steffi waved him off. “Go, I can manage here. Besides, Doc Davies is still here. I’ll see you Monday, next week.”
Sam stood up from his place at the table, holding out his hand to Laurie. “It was nice meeting you, Laurie. I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.” Sam grinned at him as if to dare him to say something about his formal phrasing and Laurie found some of his usual spirit rising up to the surface.
He grinned a cheeky grin and said, “Why thank you kindly, sir.” Then he made a perfect bow. Throwing his head back, Sam burst out laughing, the sound a deep, full rumble that Laurie felt deep down in his belly, and that made a shiver run down his spine. I have to get out of here, now. He quickly grabbed his jacket and the keys for his bike lock, waved at Steffi, and almost ran out the door.
An intriguing chapter one…
Before dessert, we need to take care of some business.
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-trustinglove-1592774-149.html
Dreamspinner eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5301
Now IT’s TIME FOR DESSERT!!
And maybe we’ll indulge in some of those fancy beverages with this cupcake!!