Debbie: Gee, Really?
LJ: Uh yeah. Where were you?
Debbie: Hmmm…Writing them with you?
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
DEBBIE: You’re right. I don’t. (turns back to guests) Okay girls, so we hear you two are celebrating this month. What exactly is the excuse, I mean reason this time?
DEBBIE: Ahhhh, hmmmm. I know it was by 2009. Coulda been 2008.
KATE: Val’s brilliance and leadership
LJ: Sounds like you two complement each other.
LJ: Uh, I just did!
LJ: How did you two come up with the 1NS series?
DEBBIE: I didn’t even know she had a boss.
LJ: Pft. Me neither. Hmm…so if there’s a boss, why did you choose Madam Eve to run the show?
KATE: Oh, I don’t know that we chose her. I believe it is her show. With Madame’s talents, I have no doubt she is capable of bringing herself to our attention.
VAL: I have no idea. Honest. It’s like she just appeared and said, “Move over, I’m driving.” And she’s been watching us in the rearview mirror ever since. We wave and smile back.
LJ: Go, Madam Eve!
LJ: (digs in pocket) Ooo! M&Ms. Hey, Kate, since you brought me coffee, you want some M&Ms?
DEBBIE: This series seemed to just explode. What do you think made it so popular with both the readers and authors?
VAL: Huh…Kate has nothing to say about this?
DEBBIE: Kate’s eating chocolate with LJ. Their mouths are full. They look like little chipmunks.
LJ: (glares at Deb) Mmph-mmph.
DEBBIE: Kinda sound like chipmunks too.
DEBBIE: What every single person hopes for I would think, which gives readers a lot to relate to.
LJ: Wow, those M&Ms hit the spot. Now I need more coffee.
DEBBIE: I think you need Ritalin.
LJ: Coffee’s better! So, I think it’s cool how you guys managed to make it so the sex wasn’t meaningless. I like how it all ties together, how some of the characters go into it thinking it will be a random no-strings-attached night of hokey-pokey and then it turns into something so much more.
DEBBIE: In my case, it’s one of the harder things to do as an author and make it believable in such a short story that (in most cases) these two strangers meet, have sex and fall in love. But I think every story I’ve read and written for this series has been very believable.
LJ: What are you looking for in a submission that makes you say, “YES, this is perfect for 1NS”?
KATE: We like to be surprised, which happens all the time. We want a new take on the concept. Also characters who appeal to the readers on their own merit. And a great love story.
LJ: Awesomeness! That’s my word! J
DEBBIE: Nooooo, I do believe that’s my word.
LJ: What? You’re insane. I use that word all the time!
DEBBIE: Oh, PLEASE! I’ve never heard you use that word.
LJ: Funny, I was about to say the same to you. LOL
DEBBIE: Whatever. So, ladies, I’ve heard you take all different heat levels from sweet to erotic. What is a must-have if the story is going to be a 1NS? Beyond it having to revolve around the 1NS dating service and Madame Eve?
KATE: No, we don’t take sweet. Technically, every story in the series is erotic, but we run the gamut within the definition. It must have at the very least a HFN but most of the stories are HEA
VAL: *Echo* No, we don’t take sweet. A couple of authors have argued that it’s not fair they can’t write a non-erotic 1NS. The series is called 1Night Stand. That means one-night stands occur. Which means sex. Which means hook-ups. Which means…you get the picture.
What *I* look for when I get a submission is an alpha hero and a strong heroine. Throw in a good conflict and satisfying resolution, and I’ll send a contract.
DEBBIE: I take it you’ve never watched The Bachelor or The Bachelorette? With the three over-night dates. They always pick to stay the night together and they always say they talked alllll night. See, they had sweet 1 night-stand.
LJ: Riiiiight. Sure they did.
DEBBIE: Hey, that’s what they said on TV.
LJ: So, it must be true.
DEBBIE: You know it.
KATE: The way readers respond. We travel all over the country for conventions and other gatherings, and everywhere we go we meet readers who read and love the stories.
VAL: What she said. Plus, there appears to be no end in sight. Readers love these stories, reviewers love them.
LJ: I love them!
DEBBIE: I love them more!
LJ: Do you believe in love at first sight?
LJ: Not you, Deb. (sigh) That question is for Kate and Val.
VAL: Yes, Kate and I are proof. But, we fell in love at first email J
LJ: Awwwwwww. (elbows Deb and whispers) Okay. They’re all cozy-comfy. Bring down the hatchet, woman!
DEBBIE: Describe your bedroom. No, not your fantasy bedroom, the real one you sleep in at night.
LJ: Why am I not surprised you’re asking this?
DEBBIE: Because you shouldn’t be surprised by anything I ask anymore.
LJ: This is your idea of a hatchet?
DEBBIE: No, but you are already asking those questions later.
KATE: Very large furniture that my husband designed and had made. Big dressers, super high headboard…and three dog beds. We’re so lucky it’s a reasonably big room.
LJ: Yep. Or the dogs would be on the bed, and you’d be….hmm, in the tub?
DEBBIE: Wow, cool that your husband designed the furniture.
LJ: Yes it is. What about you, Val?
VAL: Do you mean this very second? This is embarrassing. Well, the room is rather small. There is a pile of Thanksgiving dishes in one corner that I put there when we got our kitchen cabinets refinished (last April), but don’t feel like figuring out a new home for. A ginormous armoire that my husband thinks is a landing spot for anything he doesn’t know where to put. A bookcase that holds less books than usual, but lots of other crap I don’t feel like dealing with (you see a running theme going here in the Mann house, right?). There are guns under the four-poster bed, say what you will, but I live in a house full of guys, they like to shoot stuff. And on top of the bed (currently) is one snoring man and a cat. Both sharing the same pillow. That’s going on YouTube if I can find my phone.
LJ: HAHAHAHA Send us the link! Too bad the cat isn’t snoring, too!
DEBBIE: Oh, please send the link…please.
LJ: Yeah, no worries. We would never post it on our site.
LJ: Okay, so yeah, we would.
DEBBIE: Damn straight we would.
LJ: Give your thoughts on Karma.
KATE: I absolutely believe what goes around comes around, and try very hard to make that a positive thing.
LJ: Awesome! J
DEBBIE: Me too!
LJ: Sounds like you and Debbie would get along fabulously.
DEBBIE: You can tell us, we won’t tell a soul!
LJ: Sure. Just like we wouldn’t post that YouTube link.
LJ: Word on the street is you’re an Angry Birds fanatic, Kate. What about Candy Crush, either of you play that?
KATE: I alternate Candy Crush and Angry Birds. J
VAL: Candy Crush. Level 107 is kicking my confectionary butt though. As Kate says when stuck on a level: I’ve got a condo there.
LJ: I’ve got a condo on Level 86. Sigh.
DEBBIE: Stuck at 165. That damn game is bad for my writing!
LJ: OMG! That’s what you’ve been doing instead of sending me chapters??
LJ: I knew it!
DEBBIE: What is your worst bad habit that has to do with your writing life?
KATE: Not putting my writing first.
VAL: Ditto. If there was a place after dead last, that would be it.
LJ: Cause you’re playing CANDY CRUSH! (smacks Deb upside the head) At least Val is editing and handling a Decadent line and a slew of other stuff.
DEBBIE: Hey! She’s playing it too! She sends me lives all the time. So, there, yeah, it’s VAL’S fault. (whew, got out of that one.)
LJ: You think? Not!
DEBBIE: Any deep, dark secrets you two want to share?
KATE: About Valerie? Wait…no, nothing.
VAL: Kate picks her nose.
LJ: OMG So does Debbie!
DEBBIE: I do not!
LJ: Wait, did I say that out loud?
DEBBIE: Ummm, yeah, ya did. Speaking of which, what’s your favorite food?
KATE: Anything chocolate.
LJ: More M&Ms?
VAL: Squirty cheese, Triscuits, Double Stuf Oreos. A jar of Biscoff spread and a spoon.
DEBBIE: Did I tell you my hubby is the Oreo rep? You move up the release of our next 1NS and I’ll hook ya up.
LJ: Yeah, she’ll hook you up. And there’s a bag of M&Ms in it for you, Kate.
DEBBIE: Damn straight. Do you believe in the Boogieman?
KATE: No, but I do believe in Cat Woman.
VAL: Suh-weeeet! She just revealed her Halloween costume. It’s a secret no more.
DEBBIE: Hmmm, and what are you gonna be Laura?
LJ: A mom following three little boys around the neighborhood. Whee! How about you?
DEBBIE: A couch potato.
LJ: Favorite sexual position?
DEBBIE: I’m not sharing that with you. Don’t you think that goes a little bit beyond our relationship, I mean really, LJ, what are you thinking?
LJ: Not you, Debbie. Our guests!
DEBBIE: Oh, well, in that case, ladies?
KATE: I’ll take the 5th
VAL: That’s a position?
LJ: If it isn’t, it should be.
DEBBIE: I can’t picture it.
LJ: Here. (draws on a napkin)
DEBBIE: (cocks head) huh, looks painful.
LJ: Then you’re not doing it right…or wait, maybe you are. I forget.
DEBBIE: Favorite flavor of lube
KATE: No idea
LJ: HAHAHAHA I bet it’s chocolate sauce!
DEBBIE: Or squirty cheese? LOL
LJ: Favorite sex toy?
KATE: My husband
VAL: Her husband. Wait, er…. Well, I guess I’m never getting invited back to her house.
DEBBIE: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You move up our release and I wont tell Kate.
LJ: Wow, Val! Debbie keeps your secret AND you get Double Stuf Oreos….
DEBBIE: Now who could pass that up?
LJ: Who indeed? (nudges Deb) Looks like this interview thing is working out in our favor!
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Spike heels or knee boots
KATE: Knee boots
Free to roam or tied up
KATE: Tied up
VAL: Don’t even think about binding me.<!--[endif]-->
Beef or Broccoli
KATE: Beef, but they are so good together
VAL: Beef. Raw. Okay, very rare.<!--[endif]-->
Football or Volleyball
Night on the town or curled up on the couch
VAL: *Copycat* Couch<!--[endif]-->
Mountains or Ocean
Eyes or ass
Reality TV or prime time drama
KATE: Reality TV (Big Bang isn’t an option here! It’s always first)
VAL: Hey. Duck Dynasty, Jack. And CSI. So, I guess both.<!--[endif]-->
Nook or Book
.....You two are at a rally in Destin, Florida, protesting Senator Calvin Bishop’s bid to run in the next Presidential Election. Val, you hand a sign to Kate so the both of you can picket......“Wait a minute,” Kate says. “Val, there’s a typo on this sign.”
.....Eyes wide, Val looks at her handiwork. “What?”
.....“Um, it says ‘Eat Mor Chikin’.”
.....“So? Everyone knows how that scumbag Bishop covered up the cow mutilations down in Polk County.” She sets her hands on her hips. “He’s hatin’ on the bovine population, and I won’t stand for it.”
.....Kate huffs loudly and rolls her eyes. “I hear you, sister. I love bovine as much as the next person. And California bovine are the best! But as far as this sign you made goes…where’s the exclamation point?”
.....“Lucky for you, I have a marker in my purse.” Whips out a fat red marker and fixes sign. “That’s better.”
.....“Check out what I got in my purse.” Holds open bag.
.....“Wow!” Kate's eyes widen. “How many eggs are in there?”
.....Smiles proudly. “Four dozen.”
.....“That’s quite an omelet.”
.....“Hey, you gotta break some eggs to save the cows.”
.....Kate nods sagely. “Not to mention the country.” She balls her fist and raises it over her head. “Save the cow. Ditch Bishop now.”
.....“Cool.” Val grins. “But I thought we were going with bovine.”
.....“Oh, yeah. Right, um…” Frowns, purses lips then her eyes glint. “Got it.” Circles fist over her head and chants, “Bishop hates bovine. That is asinine.”
.....“Perfect!” Val points toward a hotel. “We should go up to the roof. Better trajectory. Is it me, or does that place look familiar?”
.....“It’s the Castillo Hotel and Resort-Destin.”
.....Val grabs Kate’s hand and drags her through the crowd. “We’ll check out the lobby and get room rates while we go.”
.....An hour and forty-five minutes later, you both stumble onto the hotel roof.
.....Below, Senator Calvin Bishop is already speaking. “And as your next President, I promise to lead this country to its former greatness, to lower taxes, to get rid of the deficit, to lower unemployment, and to ensure everyone in our great nation has the opportunity for a college education.”
.....Val smirks. “I notice he didn’t mention anything about saving the bovine.”
.....“Me either. Jerk.”
.....Val opens her purse, a fierce expression on her face. “Let’s do this thing.”
.....Kate grabs two handfuls of eggs. “Absolutely!”
.....They take aim at the senator below and—
.....A huge explosion erupts. The rooftop beneath them shakes and shimmies. Dust plumes into the air, and people start screaming. Kate stumbles, tips, and topples over the knee wall. Val reacts on instinct and grabs her longtime pal’s hand – the eggs smashed between their palms akin to the dream of making Bishop pay for his bovine hate crimes.
.....“I got you!” she says.
.....“Good.” Kate looks down at the crowd below where six military men rush onto the scene. “Wait, are those—”
.....“Pararescuemen,” Val finishes. “The tall one is Captain Colin ‘Ghost’ Beckett – Air Force, Special Ops. I’d recognize him anywhere.”
.....“And the one next to him is Tech Sergeant Bobby ‘Bobcat’ Martin.” She sighs. “Hey, when he gets close enough, you could just drop me. I’m positive he’d catch me.”
.....“No way. I’m never letting go. We’ve been through too much together.” Val adds her own sigh. “Besides, they’re both already taken. Madame Eve matched them to their soul mates.”
.....Kate’s fingers slip a little. The wall Val is leaning against shifts, bits of mortar falling free.
.....“Watch it!” Kate yells. “I’m dangling down here!”
.....Val glances down to gauge how long the wall will hold. A red light blinks back at her. “What the…?”
.....“What is it?” With her free hand, Kate grabs Val’s wrist.
.....“We have a problem.”
.....“Other than me falling to my death?”
.....“Yes.” Val looks down at Kate. “There’s another bomb, and it’s in this wall.”
.....Kate’s eyes widen. “The one you’re leaning over? The one I’m hanging next to?”
.....“That would be the wall,” Val confirms. “And we’ve got less than five minutes.”
.....“Well save me, then!”
.....“How? What do we have?” She glances at her purse. “I’ve got four dozen eggs up here and a pack of sugar-free peppermint gum.”
.....Kate frowns. “How was the gum meant to help derail Bishop’s campaign?”
.....“It wasn’t.” Val gives her a sheepish grin. “It was for after we have Mexican for dinner later.”
.....“Oh, right. Good thinking.” Kate releases one hand and tosses her purse up to Val. “See what else we have.”
.....She rummages through the bag. “You’ve got a red marker, a room keycard, a…what the heck are you doing with a whip in your purse?”
.....“Oh, yeah right.” Val digs around more. “And half a pastrami on rye?”
.....“Thought we might get hungry while we protest.”
.....She nods. “Good thinking.” Val meets Kate’s concerned gaze. “No way we’re gonna let Senator Bishop continue to mutilate the bovine population willy nilly.”
.....“Not to mention the country.”
.....“Right.” Val glances at the bomb timer. “Three minutes. But don’t worry. We’re gonna get out of this.”
What do you two do?VAL: Oh, this is easy:
KATE: Oh, this is easy:
VAL: “That cow-hating senator is so going to regret letting us anywhere near his rally.” Valerie dug around in Kate’s purse with her free hand and pulled out a Kindle. “Hey, does this thing get Internet?” She waves it over the edge for Kate to see......“Yes. I could show you how to turn that feature on. If I weren’t dangling here.” A stiff wind blew and she crossed her legs at the ankles. “Dang, I knew I shouldn’t have worn this skirt.”
.....“It’s killer, though. And who knew you’d be swinging from the top of Jackson Castillo’s hotel today?”
.....Val pulled the whip out of the deep recesses of Kate’s bag. Tying the end to a nearby railing, she tossed the handle down to Kate. “Here.”
.....“What’s this for?”
.....“Something to hold onto. I need both hands free.” After letting go of her hand and ignoring the yelp from the other side of the wall, Valerie dumped the purse contents. Eyeballing the meager offerings with disgust, she leaned over the wall. Kate swayed gently in the tropical breeze, eating a pastrami sandwich.
.....“Didn’t you ever watch MacGuyver?”
.....Kate tipped her head back, chewing. “Mmmphh?”
.....“You should have. Because if you had, you’d know I can’t save us with only a Kindle and gum. There are no paperclips, not a single bobby pin, your lighter is out of fluid, and the batteries in this weird contraption are dead.” She waved it in Kate’s face. “What is this thing, anyway?”
.....Kate swayed some more and whistled innocently. “You may want to put that down.”
.....Val eyed it with more interest. “Not until you tell me what it is.”
.....“Given your highly-developed phobia of body fluids, you really should put it down.”
.....Val screeched, fumbling the contraption like a hot potato. It sailed out of her hands, shot past Kate’s head and rocketed toward the crowd below. They watched in horror as it tumbled, end over end, picking up speed, then bounced off the senator’s head.
.....“Holy crap,” they stereo-d.
.....Only the wind off the ocean and the creak of the leather whip broke the silence.
.....“He’s down,” Kate said, at last.
.....“Like, totally down,” Valerie agreed. “That’s karma.”
.....Sagely, Kate added, “Cow karma.” They laughed for a moment in shared companionship. Then Kate’s grin faded. “Hey, what’s that beeping noise?”
KATE: “No more time to hide our super powers now.” Kate gives an enormous kick against the wall and somersaults onto the roof. “Let’s get this cow ciller…err…killer.”
.....“Just a minute.” Valerie points her laser vision at the roof and with a dull pop and thin stream of smoke, the bomb is destroyed. “No sense ruining a perfectly good building.”
.....“Always practical.” Kate pauses and muses to herself, “Which is why I was so surprised at your willingness to waste so many eggs.” She slaps Valerie on the back in a friendly way with her hand.
.....“I thought the use of eggs would help prevent a greater loss.” Valerie stares off into the distance. .....“Like that time when I was thinking I would like an omelet when I was on a cruise and hey what’s that flying in over the building across the street?
LJ: AWESOME!! I say you saved the cows! Extra points for taking care of the senator, too!
DEBBIE: Yeah, but we’ll have to revive him. He still needs to be in the last two stories.
LJ: Thanks so much for dropping by, ladies! Hope you come back for another interview when you hit your 300th book! J
DEBBIE: Or whenever you have a new release or news to share. We’d be happy to have you.
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
LJ: Oh! Another M&M! (drops) Oops! (picks up and brushes off candy) Here, Deb. Don’t say I never gave you nothing.
Debbie: I think we’ve been through this before.
LJ: (bats eyelashes) What?
Debbie: Go ahead, play innocent. Anyway, while we are here, lets go find our PJ’s and see if they have any input into the next story. Hmmm, Zeke’s story is the one that Kate and Val have now. Who’s next again?
LJ: Junior Lieutenant Kyle “Raven” Alvarez. He’s the guy who eats Twinkies and razzes Bobby about his Skittle addiction. He’s the team medic and I have no clue what kind of woman it would take to tame him.
Debbie: Hmmm, bet he’s happy Twinkies are back. Have to remember to harass him about that, among other things.
LJ: Speaking of Twinkies, let’s go parasailing.
To Feel Again
Heat level: 4
Cover art by Dara England
When they enter the penthouse suite in Las Vegas, they enter a chamber designed for luxury and booked for a 1NightStand.
Genre: Contemporary romance, erotic romance
Heat level: 4
Cover art by LFD Designs