Hi Lovelies!

Welcome to Day 1 of my holiday giveaway! I’m happy to announce Sonia M from Richmond, VA is my very first winner. Congrats!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And since I love – Love – LOVE the holidays, I thought I’d share my joy with you!

For the next 12 days, I’m giving away an autographed book – from me! I’m also throwing in other surprises I’ve picked up over the year.

If you read my books, or follow me right here on my blog, you know I travel a lot. And I like to pick things up along the way. I’ll be tucking them in with my packages too.

How do you enter? It’s easy? If you haven’t already done so, put your name and info here. Every day I’ll pull a number at random, and if you’re it, I’ll contact you. You can also check back as I’ll be posting the names as well.

To get you started on your holiday reading, I’m going to be including stories with each post over the next twelve days. Ready to start reading now? Here’s a tiny peek into my very first novel – Destination Barcelona.

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Destination Barcelona

1 Chapter One

That stupid book got it all wrong. It said the first week after you drop them off is the hardest. Obviously the writer didn’t know what she was talking about. Because clearly the hardest part was the agonizing one hour lunch buffet on the campus plaza before leaving them forever.
Casey had read lots of books on sending her daughter to college, including the one that gave tips for how to let go. That was the hardest part of this whole thing. Letting her go. She wasn’t one of those helicopter moms who did everything for her daughter. Still, it had been the two of them. Her only. Just them. How was she not supposed to miss her? Especially when she’d be twelve hundred miles from home.
Casey grabbed a carrot stick off Julia’s plate, nibbled on it while she watched the stage. The headmaster walked up for one final message.
“If I could have everyone’s attention one last time. I know we’ve handed a lot of information out over these past few days.
There’s a lot to take in. I’ve found in the past that this day is bittersweet at best. You’re dropping off your babies, the ones you’ve watched grow into these fine young men and women that are standing with us today. We know how much they mean to you, and we’ll do everything to watch over them and continue what you started not-so-long ago. This truly will be the time of their lives. They’ll grow, they’ll learn, and they’ll have fun.”
The chuckles swept through the crowds of moms and dads, young men and young women, all about to make one of the biggest transitions of their lives. Casey liked the president. She en- joyed meeting him on the tour earlier in the year. He was warm and friendly, the perfect person to run the school she was en- trusting her daughter to. She knew this was a good decision.
Casey’s eyes swept back to her daughter. How did it all go so fast? Wasn’t she just holding her in her arms in the hospital? And yet here she was dropping her baby off at college.
“I know in the next hour or so you’ll be saying your good- byes. But don’t think of it as goodbye. Think of it as a new be- ginning,” his infectious grin and wide eyes captured everyone’s attention as he visually connected with the parents around him. Somehow he knew exactly what moms and dads needed to hear. “Give your children space to become who they’re meant to be- come. We’ve done this a time or two. They will be in good hands. But if you ever have any questions, just know my entire staff is always available to you. Give us a call anytime. Okay, that’s all I’ve got. There’s still plenty of food left everyone, thank you and enjoy the rest of your lunch.”
Casey glanced around the plaza one more time, fighting the inevitable. She saw tears in a lot of eyes. She knew hers weren’t far behind.
The kids all looked like they couldn’t wait to say goodbye and get the party started.
Including that blonde kid over there trying desperately not to be noticed while making ooglie eyes at Julia. Geez, quit look- ing at her like she belongs on the buffet line, Casey thought.
She turned her attention back to her daughter. It was time to say goodbye.
“Hey sweetie, you excited?” She brought Julia in for a hug. That was the good thing about dropping her kid off at college. Julia didn’t mind the constant hugs. Part of them really want to be hugged. And since every other kid is getting them too, they don’t argue.
“Yes, Mom, for the hundredth time.” Julia rolled her eyes at her for the hundredth time that day.
“Okay, okay. So, you’ve got a floor meeting this afternoon, a party tonight. Volunteering tomorrow. Oh, it all sounds like fun. Have fun. I’ll be thinking about you.” Casey hugged Julia again.
“They’ve got us taken care of. I hardly have any free time between now and when classes start on Monday. I’ll be fine. Really.”
“I know you will.” They started making their way back to- wards the dorms. “Well, you know I’m a phone call away. Any- time. You can call. Or Skype. Or Facetime. Or…”
“Mom.”
Okay, there it was. Mom. That was the stopping point.
Julia decided to turn the tables. “Do you have everything?” Casey nodded to her daughter. “Yep, I shipped all that extra
stuff back home this morning. My bags are packed and in the car. I’ve got all the paperwork here in my bag.” Casey started pulling things out to make sure it was all in its place. “The magazine I’ll try and read on the plane. The final school forms I
filled out this morning. My passport in case I get a wild hair to go roaming the earth.”
“Oh, Mom, I love you.” Julia flung her arms around Casey’s neck. “Do it. Follow that wild hair. Go roam somewhere. I won’t be home until Thanksgiving,” she teased.
Yeah right. Like that would ever happen. She was good ol’ dependable Casey. She took care of people. She didn’t do things spur of the moment.
“I’m serious, Mom. Have some fun while I’m gone. Live a little.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Then she thought about it. “I’m not that bad, am I?” Casey said it more to herself than to her daughter. But she really was beginning to wonder. Ever since the divorce two years before, everyone around her had been on her case to have some fun.
She was fun. She knew how to have fun. She just didn’t have the time. A kid to raise. A house to take care of. A boring job to go to. An ex-husband to loathe.
“Mom, stop. Quit thinking about Rob.”
“He’s still Dad to you, honey.”
“Yeah, but he hasn’t really been acting like one, you know? So he’s Rob until he does.” Julia’s loyalty ran strong for her mom.
“See, what am I going to do without someone in the house who knows every single thing I’m thinking?” Casey loved that about their relationship. She figured that’s what happens with an only child. Their connection was … different.
They followed the flow of parents and kids down through the campus and back towards the dorms. Casey could feel the anxiety in the air. Parents missing their kids. Kids anxious for dorm life. A new chapter had begun.
One more hug. “Oh, Julia, have a good time, okay?” Casey kissed her daughter on the nose, like she’d done so many times before. “You live it up. Enjoy every moment. Have a blast. But not too much fun. Remember those grades. And whatever you do, avoid that blonde kid over there. He won’t quit staring at you. I swear, I’m going to go over there and smack him upside the head. It should be illegal to have your tongue hanging so far out of your mouth.”
Julia glanced his direction. And blushed. “That’s Zach. He’s on my floor.”
Oh God. Just kill me now, please.
“Stay away from him. He’s trouble.” Cute too. Definitely trouble.
“Yes, Mom.” Julia shrugged her shoulders, twitched her lips. Then snuck a peek back at Zack.
Yep, trouble.
Casey knew she could stretch this out forever. But there was a time and place for everything. “Okay, my beautiful girl. Goodbye. I love you. Have fun. See you.” One more hug. One more kiss.
Then she watched as her baby climbed the stairs towards her dorm. With Zach waiting to hold the door open for her.
Ugh.

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