Interview with Brooklyn Ann, Author of Bite Me, Your Grace and Giveaway!

Please welcome Brooklyn Ann to the virtual offices today! She’s celebrating the release of Bite Me, Your Grace, and after the interview, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of the book!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Brooklyn Ann] I’m a metal head, a nerd, and an unapologetic bookworm that has a penchant for writing quirky, romantic stories with unconventional heroines.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Bite Me, Your Grace?

[Brooklyn Ann] In the midst of England’s vampire craze inspired by the publication of John Polidori’s The Vampyre, a bluestocking debutante bent on ruining her reputation encounters a vampire duke striving to save his. Sparks fly and shenanigans ensue.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Brooklyn Ann] After discovering that the horror genre was born in Regency England, I was inspired to see how it would affect the people of that time, normal and paranormal. I had a daydream about a woman encountering a vampire in a regency ballroom and was off in a flash.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Angelica?

[Brooklyn Ann] Rebellious. Impulsive. Naïve.

[Manga Maniac Café] If Ian had a theme song, what would it be?

[Brooklyn Ann] The String Quartet Tribute to “Stairway to Heaven” by VITAMIN STRING.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Angelica is never without.

[Brooklyn Ann] A pen… or her case, a quill. She aspires to be a gothic authoress.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things will you never find in Ian’s bedroom?

[Brooklyn Ann] 1: Windows, because the sun would burn him.

2: A mess, because he has servants.

3: Rats or mice, because Angelica’s cat takes care of them.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Angelica’s greatest regret?

[Brooklyn Ann] To have acted without thinking or communicating with Ian when they had a misunderstanding.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Brooklyn Ann] Music: especially Megadeth, Nine Inch Nails, Dio, and Tori Amos. Books, especially Romance, Horror, and Fantasy. And movies, everything from cheesy B-horror to raunchy comedies to epic dramas.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Brooklyn Ann] Silence, Red Bull or hard cider (depending on the hour), and my imagination.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Brooklyn Ann] It’s a 3-way tie because they were different socks. ?

GARGOYLE by Shelley Martin: a paranormal romance with a strong heroine, a sexy gargoyle, engaging plot, and haunting chemistry.

A STORM OF SWORDS (Game of Thrones #3) by George R.R. Martin: The best in the series so far, IMO. I was shouting, “OMG!” every chapter.

BARELY ALIVE by Bonnie R. Paulson: a YA Zombie romance that is so unique, plausible and suspenseful. I devoured the trilogy and LOVED IT!

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Brooklyn Ann] BUNNICULA, by James Howe. I read it when I was 7. The tale of a vampire rabbit in the POV of a dog and a literate cat! The sequels, HOWLIDAY INN, and THE CELERY STALKS AT MIDNIGHT are also awesome!

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Brooklyn Ann] I like to watch movies, play darts, fish, paint, cook, and sing karaoke.

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Brooklyn Ann] My blog is

I’m also on twitter:

And Facebook:

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Giveaway Time!!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Bite Me, Your Grace? Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following.  US addresses only, please


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Didn’t win? You can purchase Bite Me, Your Grace from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

England’s "vampire craze" causes much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop without realizing she has hidden plans of her own.

Angelica Winthrop’s life goal is to ruin her reputation, avoid marriage, and become a gothic authoress like her idol, Mary Shelley. To find inspiration for her new story, she breaks into the home of Ian Ashton, Duke of Burnrath, not knowing she will be coming up against the Lord Vampire of London. Romance sparks and reputations are at stake. But who knows the real difference between fact and fiction?

Cover Shot! Marooned with the Maverick by Christine Rimmer

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I’m not sure why I like this cover so much, but I do!  There is just something about the rain-drenched couple that makes me want to read Marooned with the Maverick by Christine Rimmer. Is the book as hot as the cover?

In stores June 2013


RUST CREEK RAMBLINGS Seducing the Schoolteacher?

We apologize, dear readers, for our brief hiatus in publication. The offices of the Rust Creek Rambler were damaged in the Great Flood, but we are now filing our reports from a bar stool at the Ace in the Hole. And do we have scandalous news for you!

We have it on good authority that during the storm, gorgeous rapscallion Collin Traub was stranded with our beloved kindergarten teacher Willa Christensen-alone. In a barn. Overnight. No one knows why, but Willa could barely stand the sight of Collin before. And now? Oh, readers-we don’t like to kiss and tell. But our sources tell us that the sexy Rust Creek cowboy has set his sights on lassoing the sweet schoolmarm…for good!

Review: Riding on Air by Maggie Gilbert


Title:  Riding on Air

Author: Maggie Gilbert


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


For readers of Jenny Downham, John Greene and Maureen McCarthy, a poignant young adult romance about following your dreams and realising what really matters.

What can you do when your own hands are the enemy? Hold on tight, for as long as it takes.

Melissa has secrets. Sure it’s pretty obvious she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, but no one knows how bad it is or how many pills she takes for the pain. She’s determined to make her horse Jinx into a champion and she dreams that her childhood friend William will one day see her, rather than her condition.

So when William asks her out and Jinx is shortlisted for selection in an elite training program, it seems Melissa’s dreams have come true. But when her secrets are exposed, all those dreams come crashing down around her. Can William ever forgive her? And can she learn about letting go in time to truly ride on air when it matters most?


One guess why I wanted to read Riding on Air.  Yup, it’s got a horse on the cover.  Riding plays a big, big part of the story, so if you find horses boring, you might have a problem feeling engaged in the plot.  That wasn’t a problem for me!  I immediately felt comfortable with Melissa, and I agonized with her as she stubbornly refuses to give up her one, true love – horseback riding.  Sounds kind of melodramatic, but Melissa’s fears and hopes rang so true for me.  I would be devastated if I had to give up my horses, so I could sympathize with her right away.

As I’m getting ready for the first horse show of the season (which starts on Wednesday), Melissa’s efforts to prepare her horse Jinx for an important dressage show were instantly relatable.  Melissa has one added challenge; she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, which makes her joints ache and her fingers burn with pain. I personally can’t imagine riding if my hands were that painful, because contrary to popular belief, you don’t just get on a horse and sit there.  You have to ride every stride.  You have to keep the horse between your hands and your seat, and your hands need to be light and responsive, ready to check the horse back with both your hands and your seat.  If your hands aren’t there for you, you won’t be there for your horse.  Melissa stubbornly refuses to ask for help with Jinx, because she wants to prove that she’s just as normal as anyone else, and because she’s fearful that her parents will forbid her from riding. 

As Melissa’s condition worsens, a bright spot does enter her life.  She’s had a crush on William, a friend of her brothers, forever, and when he asks her out, she is over the moon.  As their relationship begins to bloom, though, she is overcome with doubts. How can William like her, or find her attractive, when her hands are such an ugly mess.  She can’t see beyond her illness, and she believes that nobody else can, either. When she takes a bad fall from Jinx, William tries to make her understand how important she is to him by asking her to stop riding, at least until her fingers aren’t as painful.  In a panic, Melissa accuses him of trying to ruin her life, and of not understanding how important Jinx’s success is to her.  Ouch! As if she doesn’t have enough on her mind, now she’s heartbroken because her boyfriend doesn’t understand her.

I enjoyed Riding on Air a lot.  The horse scenes were authentic, and got me excited about going to a show myself.  Melissa’s struggles to overcome all of the challenges thrown her way were compelling, and kept me engaged in the story.  While I would have liked this book just because of the horsey stuff, what made it a fulfilling read is the personal growth Melissa undergoes.  She begins to re-examine her relationships, and realizes that maybe she’s not being fair to her friends and family.  While they want to help her, she thinks their concerns are stifling her.  It’s only after she’s able to let go of her fierce need for independence that she is finally able to ride on air. 

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Meet Rock Babineaux from Julie Ann Walker’s Thrill Ride and Giveaway!

We have an extra special guest today! Through the magic of the interwebz,  Rock Babineaux, hero of Julie Ann Walker’s Thrill Ride, was able to take a break from his mission in Central America! Everyone thinks he’s gone rogue, so please don’t mention that he was here for a visit!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Rock] *Shifts uncomfortably, and lifts hand to scratch goatee* Simple country boy at heart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Rock Babineaux?

[Rock] *grins* *starts to relax* Ah, chere, there isn’t anything typical about a day in the life of a Black Knight. I could be knee-deep in a Central American swamp chasing after narcotraficantes. Or I could be sitting out back in the courtyard, strumming my guitar and watching the sun set behind the buildings in Chicago. When you’re on Uncle Sam’s clock, your days tend to be crazier and more unpredictable than a Junebug on a string.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] There are quite a few people who are very upset with you. Can you fill us in on why they are out to get you?

[Rock] *scowls* Now, that’s the question of the hour, isn’t it? According to them, I’ve killed folks. According to them, I’ve gone rogue…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Vanessa?

[Rock] *grins* *sticks tongue in cheek* Sexy, sassy, and spunky as hell.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the first thing that you noticed about her?

[Rock] Uh… The truth? *glances around sheepishly* Her world-class derriere. Mon petite ange has got it going on in the booty department. But, seriously, when I stopped playing the Dude Card, I noticed her talent, beauty, and no-holds-barred courage. She’s the bravest woman I’ve ever known.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  How do you feel about her now that you seem stuck with her for the time being?

[Rock] Ha! *slaps knee* Are you kidding me? I feel like the luckiest man on the planet!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Rock] That’s easy. *clenches jaw* I’d never have gotten involved with Rwanda Don. That sonofabitch ruined my life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Rock] It’s two things, actually. A matching pair of SIG Sauer 9mm pistols. A man like me never knows when he’s going to find himself in a tight spot with some bad folks, and it always helps to have a couple ways to affect attitude adjustments in those bad folks. *grins*

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t on the run from the government and your former friends?

[Rock] Now, I’m a born-and-bred Louisiana man, so it’s safe to say I like the simple things in life. Sharing a brew with the folks I love, sitting out on a front porch swing listening to the rain fall on a tin roof, calling up my buddies and throwing an impromptu fais-do-do. That’s pronounced fay-doe-doe for the non-Cajuns out there, and it’s basically just a big ol’ party with music, a crawfish boil, and dancing. *sighs* Nobody does a backyard bash like a Louisianan.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Rock] *grows suddenly serious* World peace and a good woman.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Rock] *pushes to feet* *steps forward in scuffed-up alligator boots and extends hand* My pleasure. Thanks for having me on today. *turns and swaggers from room*

[Manga Maniac Cafe} *fans self at sight of said swagger*

Giveaway Time!!

Ready to win a copy of Rev It Up? This is book where readers first meet Rock and Vanessa, hero and heroine of Thrill Ride.  Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can purchase Thrill Ride and Rev It Up from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:


He’s Gone Rogue…

Ex-navy SEAL Rock Babineaux is as Cajun as they come—spicy, sexy, and more than a bit wicked. But would he actually betray his country? Even his best friends on the special-ops Black Knights team aren’t sure they can trust him. Now the target of a massive manhunt, Rock knows the only way to protect the team—especially his partner, Vanessa—is to run…

She Won’t Back Down…

Rock might think he can outmaneuver them all, but he hasn’t counted on how stubborn Vanessa Cordero can be. And she refuses to cut him loose. Sure, her partner has his secrets, but there’s no one in the world she’d rather have by her side in a tight spot. Which is good because she and Rock are about to get very tight…


Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She’ll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. Look for the first four books in her fast-paced series: Hell On Wheels (August 2012) In Rides Trouble (September 2012) Rev It Up (October 2012) and Thrill Ride (April 2013). For more information, please visit or follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter @JAWalkerAuthor.

To Purchase Thrill Ride

Barnes and Noble





Discover a New Love

Giveaway! Win A Wedding in Springtime by Amanda Forester!

Thanks to Sourcebooks, I have a copy of A Wedding in Springtime to giveaway, as well as a mix of other wedding themed books.  Entering this contest is easy!  Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

From Sourcebooks:

Sourcebooks is really excited about the new Regency trilogy coming from Amanda Forester! The first book, A Wedding in Springtime, comes out next month and has already received TWO STARRED reviews! We will be hosting Amanda next month but right now we want to offer a giveaway of a wedding themed prize pack! Included is a copy of A Wedding in Springtime by Amanda Forester along with a mix of other wedding themed books from Sourcebooks.

Praise for A Wedding in Springtime:

“Fans of Regency-era romances will be delighted with Forester’s first novel set in that milieu. This clever combination of wit, romance, and suspense strikes all the right…This entertaining novel is a diamond of the first order.” – Booklist, STARRED Review

“Engaging subplots involving unforgettable supporting characters make this one a must-read.”

– Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review 

About the book:

Five minutes into Miss Eugenia Talbot’s presentation at court, notorious rogue Mr. William Grant made her laugh, ruining her debut. To hush up the scandal, Eugenia’s aunt hires a matchmaker to quickly find a suitor— anyone except the infamous William Grant—to help restore Eugenia’s reputation. But amiable Eugenia shows a disturbing tendency to follow her heart, and is again caught in the company of notorious Grant. When a traitor creeps closer, threatening to ruin more than just Eugenia’s reputation, her kindheartedness may be her ultimate undoing…



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? Here are some buy links:

The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves– Crazy Days


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

What a crazy week!  Bombings, earthquakes, explosions, entire cities in  lockdown!  I hope all of you are safe and that the madness of last week is at an end.

Here are some puppy pictures.  Hopefully they’ll bring a smile to your face.


Bumble and Sniper didn’t see eye to eye at first.

Sniper put down the paw of doom.

But that didn’t really improve the situation.

Though they did sort of get along after a few snarls and growls.

There is always running and chasing to distract young pups.

More running and chasing. 

So, yup, that was last Sunday.  The puppers were exhausted from their play day and slept like little logs.  Win!

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Never Say Never by Aimee Duffy

Zom-B: City by Darren Shan

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol 1 by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

The Sword Dance by Jeannie Lin

Defiance by CJ Redwine

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

 Subscribe in a reader

Cover Shot! Contagion by Tim Lebbon

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I am enjoying Tim Lebbon’s Toxic City series.  The third book, Contagion, is slated to hit stores in November 2013.  I like these covers, with the characters in the foreground, and the devastated city sprawling out behind them.  Are you reading these? What do you think of them?


Jack and his friends are in a race against time to save the remaining inhabitants of a postapocalyptic London from a nuclear bomb.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the rest of the world, protected by a large force of soldiers (known as Choppers) while the rest of Britain believe that their ex-capital is a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But that’s not true. Jack and his friends know that the truth is very different-and incredible: the few remaining survivors in London are changing; developing strange, fantastic powers; evolving. And the Chopper force guarding London is treating the ruined city as its own experimental ground.

Now, Jack’s powers are growing. His friend Lucy-Anne’s powers are developing too, and Nomad-that mysterious woman who started it all-is close by. But the Choppers have initiated their final safeguard-a huge nuclear bomb that will wipe out London, and everyone still within its boundaries. Jack and his friends must spread the news of the bomb and save everyone they can. Before that can happen, Jack must face his father, the deadly Reaper, in their final showdown.

Interview with ST Bende, Author of Elsker

Please welcome ST Bende to the virtual offices today.  She’s here to chat about ELSKER. Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[ST Bende] Paranormal author, baking aficionado, IndyCar fan, skier and lover of all things Scandinavian… except fish.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Elsker?

[ST] Elsker follows 20-year-old Kristia Tostenson as she leaves her one stoplight town for Cardiff University, in Wales. She falls in love with Ull Myhr, who isn’t exactly what she was expecting for her first boyfriend. He’s a Norse God — an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms. Her orderly life is about to get messy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[ST] It all comes down to Nehalem, Oregon. I was on a road trip along the Oregon Coast when I pulled into one of those little drive-through coffee shops. I looked around and realized I was in a town with one stoplight and less than 300 residents. It was literally the smallest town I’d ever been in. The ocean was on one side and the forest on the other. This place was amazing! I started wondering what it would be like to grow up there, and Kristia Tostenson’s been a part of my imagination ever since.

Finding a love interest for Kristia was a little harder. I knew I wanted to incorporate Norse mythology into her story, but there’s already so much written about Thor, Odin and the gang. I wanted to find a god people didn’t have preconceived notions of, and when I came across Ull (the God of Winter) I knew he was my man. He’s the God of Skiing too, which appealed to me as a skier.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Kristia?

[ST] Proper, cautious, thoughtful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Ull had a theme song, what would it be?

[ST] It’s Time, by Imagine Dragons. “I get a little bit bigger but then I admit, I’m just the same as I was. Now don’t you understand? I’m never changing who I am.”

The Fates mapped out Ull’s future when he was born, and he doesn’t think he has any say in what happens. He’s an Asgardian Assassin, Thor’s stepson, and the drop dead gorgeous God of Winter, but at the end of the day he feels like everything’s out of his control. As otherworldly as he is, he feels powerless a lot of the time. Imagine Dragons nail Ull’s secret insecurities.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Kristia is never without.

[ST] Her grandmother’s necklace. It’s a silver replica of Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, and her grandma gave it to her just before she died. Kristia wears it every day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Ull’s pockets?

[ST] The only things you’re going to find in Ull’s pockets are his wallet, his keys and his phone. He’s meticulous, a total rule follower, and you’d never even find a stray receipt in there. He tucks them right into his wallet to be filed or thrown away when he gets home. You won’t even find pocket lint — his friend Inga won’t let him wear anything she considers “last season”, so literally nothing gathers dust in his closet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Kristia’s greatest regret?

[ST] She’s not a big regret girl. She does wish she had more of a sense of adventure, but she’s ready to do something about that.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[ST] For this project, my ever-patient Norwegian teacher, and the volumes of Norse mythology textbooks I found at my library. I must have read every book they had, even the kid’s books. (The kid’s books have seriously disturbing illustrations, by the way. I had no idea trolls could be so terrifying.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[ST] My laptop, a nice cup of tea… and I may have edited a good portion of these books wearing a Thor t-shirt I picked up at Target. Just saying…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[ST] I just finished reading Unmasking Maya, by Libby Mercer. ( If she’s not the next Sophie Kinsella, I don’t know who is. Twitter introduced me to this amazing group of indie/small press Chick-Lit writers – Libby, Tracie Banister, Samantha Stroh Bailey – there are about eight authors who promote their stuff together, and I’m making my way through their books. I swear every one is better than the last.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[ST] I’ve been reading for longer than I can remember, though I distinctly recall waiting for Ann M. Martin’s newest Babysitters Club book to come out every month. Did she really write a book a month? Much later, I remember picking up my first Harry Potter book and thinking, Wow. Now this is brilliant writing. One of my most prized possessions is a copy of the final Harry Potter novel — Gary Oldman signed it for me as “Gary Oldman/Sirius B.” And now I have this fantasy of getting JK Rowling’s autograph one day. *swoons!*

Thank you so much for having me on today, Julie! It’s been so much fun chatting with you. Be sure to stop by my blog ( during April and May for lots of fun giveaways, including the Syttende Mai Waffle Fest Giveaway (if you like books and waffles, you’ll love this). And visit Goodreads or the ELSKER page on the Entranced Publishing website ( to find out how to download TUR, the free ELSKER prequel!

[Manga Maniac Cafe ] Thank you!


Buy links: for now visit Goodreads or the ELSKER page on the Entranced Publishing website ( – Amazon and Barnes & Noble links will be available starting April 22.

About the book:

Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting. He’s an honest-to-goodness Norse God — an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.

Her orderly life just got very messy.

Book trailer link:

About the author:

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats.  Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired The Elsker Saga.  She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

You can follow ST Bende on Twitter @stbende, or send an e-mail to stbende(at)gmail(dot)com. 



At eight o’clock, a firm knock interrupted my reading.  I picked my way through the flower shop that our living room had become and opened the door.

“Oh good, you kept my peace offerings.”  Ull treated me to a rakish grin.

“Just a few of them,” I muttered.  “Come on in.”

“Oh, no.  You must come with me.”

“Why?”  I challenged.  Ull sighed.

“Are you going to fight me at every turn?”


“Please come.”  He looked so adorable standing on my stoop, his scarf casually thrown across the grey sweater under his coat.  I gave in quicker than I meant to.

“Fine.”  I grabbed my coat from the closet by the door and shoved my keys and wallet into the pocket.  “Where are we off to?”  I closed the door behind me and followed Ull into the brisk night, waiting for his promised explanation.

But he didn’t say anything.  Instead, he put his hand on the small of my back and guided me away from campus.  I shivered and noticed that Ull wore his jacket open, at ease in the chill.  As we rounded the corner, Ull dropped his hand to clasp mine.  It was so warm, so strong, and for a moment I forgot to be mad at him.  We walked in silence as he led me down the main road.  After two right turns, I found myself standing in a quiet garden.  

Ull had brought me to a church.