A cold wind blows off the Pacific, buffeting the ladies as they pick their way down the rocky beach. The path is narrow and slick with rain, made even more treacherous by the pounding waves where the pathway curves nearer to the sea. In the distance, perched atop a rocky bar, a soaring lighthouse beckons, promising warmth and protection against the raging storm. Beacons of light flash from the edifice, warning seafarers to stay away from the perilous coastal waters.
Nibbie catches sight of a seal and races towards the water dragging poor Mary behind. She screeches in panic. Startled, Hampy peeks from Patsy’s pocket while Foster and Cuddles, sensing danger, dive under the crown of Mac’s rain hat.
“Whoa Nibbie,” Mary screams just in time to avoid a cold swim. She hauls on the leash and digs her heels into the sand effectively halting Nibbie’s joyful race to the sea. She wraps the flapping slicker closer around her body. “A lighthouse? A party at a lighthouse?”
“I sure hope there’s something warm waiting for us when we get inside.” Lyn grabs her hat as the wind catches the broad brim.
Mac’s rain poncho flares, caught by a sudden gust. “I don’t care what there is to drink, I’m starving! I could eat that lighthouse right now.”
They stumble to a wide boardwalk circling the building. Lyn raps at the door.
“We’re here,” she yells. “You know,” Mac whispers conspiratorily. “Charlene says this place is haunted. Years ago, one of her ancestors came here as a mail order bride!”
Patsy’s green eyes round. “You’re kidding me, right?”
Patsy heaves a long sigh. “That is just too romantic. I didn’t think stuff like that happened in real life.”
“Today is the traditional Greek Easter,” Mac adds. “Charlene though it was a good reason to party.”
Mary wipes her dripping face. “Can I tie Nibbie out back?
“Let her run,” Charlene laughs. “Can’t hurt anything in here.”
“You have no idea,” Lyn mutters.
Mac’s stomach rumbles loud enough for everyone to hear. “Uh, sorry,” she gasps. Her face flushes crimson. “I’m kinda hungry.”
“I have just the remedy for that,” Charlene leads them up a winding wrought iron staircase to the second floor. The circular room is jamb-packed with party-goers.
Nothing conventional about this crowd! Plain flannel shirts, blue jeans and work boots are the dress of choice. In the center of the crowd, Oliver and another man stomp and whirl to the lilting rhythm of traditional Greek music.
Charlene inhales, rolling her eyes. “You just can’t get these guys together and not have a round or two of Tsestos.”
She leads them to the far wall where tables are set. “How about some Ouzo?”
“Ouzo?” Mary’s brows arch. “What’s that?”
“It’s an aniseed-flavored aperitif. Warms your insides.” Charlene accepts a small shot and tips it up. “Yasou!” She swallows in one gulp. “If you prefer, we also have Lemonada, Orange Fanta or Portokalada which are soft drinks made in Greece.”
"Look at all this food!" Mac swoons with delight
“Load your plates,” Charlene urges. “You’ll need energy for the dancing and Greeks love to dance.”
“Yes, it is,” Charlotte laughs. “What’s a Greek party without a bellydancer?”
“Beats me,” Patsy shrugs. “I’m not Greek. I thought about pledging in college but it was too expensive.”
“That’s not Greek,” Lyn coughs, choking as she sips the Ouzo. “That’s totally something else.”
“Well, it was Greek,” Patsy argues. “Anyway, what’s the saying? Beware of Geeks bearing computers?”
“ARRRGGGHHHH!” Lyn groans. “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”
The rhythm of the music speeds up.
"Come on, ladies." Oliver takes Charlene’s hand. Time to dance.
(And if you like the sound of Baklava and Moussaka, Charlene has kindly provided the Recipes HERE!)
But before you start cooking, relax, enjoy the refreshments and join us to celebrate Charlene Raddon's new release FOREVER MINE!
THEIR LOVE WAS FATED...
From the moment Barholomew saw Ariah at the Portland Station, the keeper of the Cape Meares Light was lost. Hopelessly in love with this angelic beauty who was fated to live beside him at the isolated lighthouse as another man's wife, Batholomew never dreamed that destiny would someday bring them together. Would Ariah truly be the woman he could cherish...forever?
FOREVER MINE - Excerpt
Ariah. The name suited her. Light and airy. Perfect for a nymph. He struggled to regain his composure and remember what he was about.
Around them, passengers continuing on to Goble, where train and all would be ferried across the Columbia River before resuming the journey to Seattle, were boarding the train. Soon the platform would be empty except for porters and employees of the Union and Northern Pacific Railroads. And Bartholomew suddenly realized he too was eager to be away; he could not wait to have Miss Ariah Scott to himself.
Bartholomew glanced at Miss Scott, wondering if she could be one of fate's tricks. Something niggled at his memory. He shrugged it away.
"Miss Scott, if you'll point out the rest of your baggage, I'll get it loaded while you and your friend finish your good-byes. We've a long way to go."
"Oh, yes, of course." She gestured to two small crates and a large trunk. "That's it there."
Bartholomew shouldered the trunk as though it contained nothing more than bird feathers, holding it in place with one arm while he squatted to pick up one of the crates.
As he put space between himself and the two women, he chuckled silently, remembering how he had wondered what he would do with the girl during the four long days of the journey home. There was no doubt about what he wanted to do. His hands ached with the need to stroke that smooth, velvet flesh, to explore and discover its secret contours. Thinking about it, four days no longer seemed enough.
He set the crate alongside the boxed-up fancy rosewood étagère Hester had insisted he buy her, and lowered the trunk onto the wagon bed.
Hester. Bartholomew's fantasy about Ariah burst like the seed head of a giant dandelion, scattered by the wind.
Hester was his wife—till death do us part—no matter how much he might wish things different. And Ariah Scott belonged to Pritchard.
His shoulders sagged under guilt as ponderous as a steam engine. He rested his arms on the sideboard, braced his forehead on a fist, and tried to banish the image of the girl's sweet tempting mouth, so lush, so—
A warm hand closed over his arm. "Are you all right, Mr. Noon? Is there anything I can do for you?"
Bartholomew looked down to see Ariah Scott standing only a kiss away, gazing up at him with those unbelievable forget-me-not blue irises, her luscious lips moist and parted, her concerned expression sweetly, guilelessly intent.
And he plummeted into hell.
Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she got up and told her class that a little sister she didn't have died of a black widow bite. Many years later, a particularly vivid dream drove her to drag out a portable typewriter and go to work on her first novel. In 1990 her second completed book, Tender Touch, brought her a first place win in a writing contest and the following year became a Golden Heart Finalist. She has five romance novels set in the American West, published by Kensington, one, The Scent of Roses, under the pseudonym Rachel Summers. Her books have placed or won other contests and one, Forever Mine, received a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award nomination. Charlene has always loved the Old West and her novels reflect that emotion in their depth and vividness.
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