The Waiting Series

Laments of an Indie Author…

Good morning from sunny (and unbearably HOT) Louisiana! It’s been a minute (several months) since I’ve posted anything and I’ll be honest as to the reason. 

I was burnt out. 

Being an indie author can be tiring, lonely, overwhelming, and downright depressing. When you look at your minuscule books in the expansive sea of novels that are published daily, it’s easy to fall into the trap of insignificance. For the past several months, I truly didn’t see my place (or the place of this series) in the vast, evergrowing, competitive, cutthroat world of books. 

Honestly, I still don’t. 

Between financial hardships, broken computers, and job changes, I’ve almost given up and walked away from the entire thing. 

But that’s not me. 

Nor is it the mindset of the team of people I’ve surrounded myself with. My partner, Terri has been my biggest cheerleader, putting up with mood swings, a dirty house, and sporadic meals. My co-creator, Marie has always offered encouraging words and constantly reminds me to forge on. And last (but certainly not least) my beloved editor, Kathy, who loves and knows these characters as well as we do, and is an endless source of positivity and realism when I need it.

Quitting is not the work ethic my beloved grandparents instilled in me, nor is it part of the legacy I wish to leave behind. “You can do anything you set your mind to.” Not a few things. Not what’s easy.

ANYTHING.

I might have stopped promoting and putting myself out there, but I NEVER stopped writing. Presently, we are weeks away from releasing The Fire: Book 2.5. If you’ve read The Watching, you can guess the content within the novella. It’s beautiful and bittersweet, and the beginning of a love story that transcends life and death. We cannot wait for you to read it. I’m also two chapters away from finishing the 3rd novel in The Waiting Series. If possible, this one is crazier than the previous two. Several short stories are in the works including one that chronicals the origins of the “Operation” and another one entitled “Vermilion Bay.” Paperbacks will be available soon along with beautiful color covers (thanks to CJ Design) instead of the original black and white. 

As for what to do about marketing and promoting these books…I still don’t know, but I do know GIVING UP ISN’T OPTIONAL. I’ve never been one for reading directions or instructions. I tend to do better if I’m allowed to figure it out for myself because let’s just be honest: there are no quick fixes. 

No magical publishing deals.

No wishing on a lucky star. 

But there is hard work. 

Tenacity. 

And for all I lack in the ability to promote myself, I have stubbornness in spades and I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow something to keep me down. So, in the prolific words of Lindsey Buckingham:

I’ll ‘go (my) own way.’ 

To our readers: we love you. We are thankful that these stories resonate in your mind and heart and that you keep coming back for more. YOU are part of the reason I still write. Thank you. 

Elizabeth 

THE WAITING SERIES SPRING SALE!!!!

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Hey y’all…
To celebrate spring and also the release of the third book in The Waiting Series, we thought we’d do a sale. ALL books are .99 thru April 5th. If you need to catch up on what’s going on with these crazy Louisiana families, now’s the time.

Amazon Links:
THE WAITING BOOK 1: http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00MOJFZNW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418334637&sr=8-1&keywords=the+waiting+book+1

The FUNERAL BOOK 1.5: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OOF05CU

THE WATCHING BOOK 2: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UO1QYUA

We are so blessed and thankful for all your support. This has been an amazing journey, but it would mean nothing without our readers, followers, bloggers, and friends. Thank YOU for all you do to make indie publishing grand.

Elizabeth and Marie

The Watching Blurb

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Secrets, lies, and family ties bind us together on the banks of the Pontchartrain…

Discouraged over the direction the Douglas murder investigation is headed, Gregory Adams reaches out to Jamie Caissy for help.

Hopeful to avoid another family crisis, the Montgomery-Adams family returns to South Louisiana, and Finn Adams takes a job that will alter his world… and his mother’s.

Lesley Huff receives a generous and life-changing gift, yet she refuses to tell anyone… including her wife, Sylvia.

Moving forward, Millie Douglas focuses on the relationship with her daughter, Sydney, and finds an unexpected new friend.

Resolving that her marriage is at an end, Christine Caissy makes a bold decision.

Bob O’Malley’s faux relationship with Millie deteriorates, yet he finds solace in the most unlikely companion.

The Congressman sends his daughter to New Orleans with specific instruction: marry an O’Malley.

After the death of her son and loss of her beloved Gregory, Arianne Douglas spirals downward into a dark depression and finds a secret way to cope.

Andrew Douglas is still determined to hold his family together, despite subtle evidence that his wife is still in love with his best friend.

With the “Operation” still reeling from Nash’s death, the O’Malleys regroup and Sol takes the helm, but unbeknownst to him or his father, another “Operation” is in the works.

The Watching – Book 2
© The Waiting Series by Elizabeth Burgess and Marie Hewes

Coming SOON!!!!!!

The Watching: Book 2 Cover

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The cover of The Watching has been a challenge for me, to say the least. I always have an idea in my head of what I want these covers to look like based on the entire story. Whatever the reader sees on the outside needs to represent the inside, and until yesterday, that hadn’t happened. After numerous ‘scouting’ trips, including a day trip to New Orleans to photograph cemeteries, this little picture was taken right outside our door.

Here’s the original photograph:

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And HERE’S what the folks at CJ Design did for us:

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We couldn’t be happier with the results. So…y’all know what this means? We are very, very close to Book 2’s release and all the secrets, lies, and family ties on the banks of the Pontchartrain…

Fun Facts…Chapter 5 of The Waiting: Book 1

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Five
A tottering Stowe Huff squealed hearing the front door open. Before Layton could catch her, she gasped in excitement and ran toward the noise. “Stooowwweeee.” Lesley scooped the younger, more fiery twin up in her arms. “I missed my firecracker.”
“Sorry, she literally can run faster than me,” Layton apologized as the two women entered the house.
“She’s quicker than us too, Layton,” Sylvia said, kissing the top of Stowe’s head. “Liene watching a video?”
“If she’s not already asleep.”
Nodding, she walked into the den to find little Liene Huff sitting sweetly watching a Baby Einstein video.
“Mère,” said the sleepy baby. She reached for her mother and Sylvia obliged, kissing her cheeks. “I-sti.”
“That’s right, sweetheart, it’s Baby Einstein.”
Lesley entered the room and Stowe, never to be held for long—followed behind. To be sisters, twins… they were as vastly different as their mothers. Stowe was loud and stubborn, a very opinionated child. Never shying away from a new challenge or adventure. The only time she was still was when she was sleepy or sick. Her sister was quiet and accommodating. A great sleeper, mild-mannered Liene loved to cuddle any chance she got. Sylvia amazed herself with her ability to love them. She thought she knew what love was when she met and fell for Lesley, but loving these two miracles was the purest, most intense emotion she’d ever felt. And for Sylvia Huff that was the miracle in and of itself.
“Y’all are home early.”
“Yeah. We missed these two little ones too much.” Lesley bent down and spread a blanket over Liene who’d already fallen asleep. “No problems?”
“Not at all. How was dinner?”
“We finally got to meet Gregory’s new girlfriend. Well, I say new, but they’ve been dating for four months,” Sylvia replied, sitting in her recliner with Stowe.
“And y’all are just now meeting her?”
“Greg’s weird, Lay. Maybe cautious is a better word. I’ve known him since my early twenties, and I’ve met one girlfriend—not including this one,” said Lesley.
“He totally strikes me as that kind of man.” Layton pulled her legs up Indian style, getting comfortable. “Well, did y’all like her? What did Arianne think?” she asked.
Layton had met Nash’s mother three years before, when she was in her clinical rotation at Rivers in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. As the director of CICU, Arianne took notice of her innate ability to nurse, and offered Layton a job after graduation. Together with Lesley, they helped foster the young nurse, grooming her to be a leader, if not the unit’s charge nurse when Lesley took her maternity leave. Layton vaguely remembered the turn of events that caused Arianne’s resignation as Unit Director, but she knew it involved Dr. Millie Douglas, or Dr. M as she was known in Rivers. Less than a full month after Arianne left, Dr. M resigned too.
When she and Nash started dating, it bothered her that he took her to meet “Mills” months before his parents. She knew they were close, but nothing prepared her for how familiar they actually were. It was as if she was his real family and everyone else was unimportant. Millie and Nash lived in their own little world and they didn’t seem to want Layton to be part of it. Andrew and Arianne were different, especially Arianne. Over the past year, they’d become closer, even more so since the two of them had been working on the Hope Benefit together. Fitting in with the Douglases was natural, making it easy to stay in her unhappy relationship with Nash. That mentality was unconventional—maybe even wrong—but being with Nash meant instant family. And that was something Layton craved but never had.
“I think Arianne liked her. Thought she was sweet. But we all agreed that she’s a little young for Greg.”
“Oh? How much younger?”
“A lot. She’s got to be around your age, Lay. Wouldn’t you say so, hon?” Lesley elevated her voice to get her wife’s attention.
Rocking Stowe, Sylvia rolled her eyes and replied, “You know I don’t pay attention to the same things you girls do, but yeah, probably mid-to-late twenties.”
Always in the mood for hospital gossip, Layton asked, “What’s her name?”
“Tiffany… can’t think of her last name… Syl?” Lesley elevated her eyes.
Sylvia, perturbed now that she was holding an almost sleeping Stowe mouthed, “Comeaux.”
“Comeaux?” Layton said in her most quiet, excited voice. “Are you serious? Petite, brown hair and eyes, ’bout five-foot-two, busty?”
“Yeah… do you know her?”
“Knew of her. We went to LSU about the same time. I think she’s a year or two older than me. And Les, the best description I can give for that girl is trashy gold digger. She was notorious for sleeping with her professors. Let me tell you, she made the most out if every opportunity too. They’d buy her purses and clothes… whatever. When she got tired, she’d move on to the next one.”
Lesley’s mouth dropped, and she quickly glanced at Sylvia, but both she and Stowe were sound asleep.
“She’s been at the hospital now for four or five months—started right around Thanksgiving. I think I remember her saying she was getting her Master’s, and working as a coder. Maybe doctor’s dictation? Oh, that must have been where they met.”
“She’d have to see him for her job for sure.”
“I really thought it was strange a few months ago when she called me out of the blue and asked me to have lunch with her in the cafeteria. Now I get it. She must know I’m seeing Nash. I wonder if that’s why she’s was trying to get to know me. Because of his connection to Greg?”
“Very possible, Layton,” she said, shocked at this new and rather disconcerting information about the woman who had eyes on her friend.
“What in the world is Dr. Gregory thinking?”
“Well, now that you’ve said all that… I think it’s more… what is he thinking with?” Lesley implied. “But surely he can spot a gold digger.”
“I don’t know, Lesley. He seems kinda naive. She’s a cute girl. An ego boost and some kinky sex could make him think she cares. Love has masqueraded for a lot less.”
Layton stood, grabbing her purse and keys.
“That’s true,” Lesley followed the young woman outside. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay here since Nash is working all night?”
“Girl, I’m fine. Pretty used to staying by myself,” she said, turning the key in the ignition. “When he’s not at the hospital, he’s usually in Slidell.”
“Are you kidding?” Lesley said, disgusted.
“Nope. I think if Millie asked Nash to find a way to farm gold out his ass, he’d sure try.”
They laughed together, both knowing Layton was spot-on with that observation.
“I’m sorry, Layton. I know it hurts.”
“A little. But I’m fine. I’ve got a lot to look forward to. Reece is coming home tomorrow. We’ve not seen each other in forever.”
“Is he?” The gleam in Layton’s eyes was unmistakable when she spoke of Nash’s middle brother, and Lesley couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more than friendship budding between the two of them.
“Yeah. Can’t wait.” She noticed the time on her car clock. “Crap, almost midnight. I’m going straight home and locking up before the crazies come out.”
She laughed, thankful she lived in the gated Eastover community. “This is New Orleans. The crazies stay out. Text me when you get there, Lay.”
Walking back into the house, Lesley followed behind an exhausted Sylvia with Liene in her arms. “Need help?” she asked.
“Got it, honey. Stowe’s down too,” She carefully placed her daughter in bed next to her sister. When the babies were first born, Sylvia and Lesley wanted each girl to have her own crib, but it became apparent that their babies wanted to occupy the same space.
Reaching for the small bottle of Holy Water on the side table, Lesley dampened each index finger and leaned over on her tiptoes, making the sign of the cross over each child’s forehead. Reverently she whispered, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” It was a blessing she received from her grandmother every night. As Lesley grew older, she’d question how her very Baptist grandmother knew so much about Catholicism, especially since the Arkansas Catholic population was less than five percent. Her answer was a smile and few words, “A blessing is a blessing, my little sunflower.” After Lesley’s own daughters were born and home from the hospital—much to her surprise—Sylvia leaned over their bassinet and blessed them, just as the old woman had blessed Lesley.
“Did I hear you and Layton say that she knew Tiffany from college?” Sylvia said, gently pulling the door shut. “I was about half asleep at that point.”
“Oh yeah. And you won’t believe what she said about her. Layton’s exact words were ‘trashy gold digger.’” Turning on the light in their bedroom, Lesley saw Sylvia’s sour face.
“Oh? Crap.”
“Something’s up when a college student is dating the CMO of one of the largest hospitals in South Louisiana.”
Sylvia tapped her fingers on the dresser. “Granny Huff always said to watch out for Greeks bearing gifts.”
“Wise woman,” Lesley said.
“What was Greg and Ari’s fight about?” she asked, turning down their bed.
“She made a comment about how much younger Tiffany was than him,” Lesley said, changing into her usual tank and shorts sleepwear.
“Somebody needed to, Les. What’s your gut saying?”
“I hate to go on hearsay from anybody, but Layton wouldn’t lie. I’m suspicious—in a bad way.”
“Noted.” Sylvia turned on the baby monitor, got into bed, and waited for her wife to return from checking on the girls one last time.
“I can’t imagine being Ari right now,” Lesley paused before getting into bed. “Living with all these lies. Can you? Secrets from Andrew and Greg. And they’re probably keeping things from her too.” Lesley shook her head. “It was hard for us, but I’m glad we came clean years ago.”
Sylvia breathed deep. Lesley wouldn’t like the truth, especially since she’d continue to hide one part of her life from Lesley at all cost.
Oh, Les, I wish I could be honest with you. But if you knew my secret… it could jeopardize everything in our world. How I wish I would have told you when we first met, or even three years ago when we had all our problems. You would have been pissed, but we could have worked through it. But now? The pain we had then would pale in comparison to this secret I’ve kept for fourteen years.
“Baby, I never thought having kids was in my future. Hell, I never thought someone as amazing as you would come my way,” Sylvia said, opening her arms, leaving a place for Lesley. “I was so scared to truly love that I almost missed the three most precious people in my life.”
“But you didn’t.”
“And I will never take that for granted.” Kissing her forehead and then her lips, she grinned. “Now, let’s get some sleep. The girls will be awake soon regardless if we are.”
Nodding in agreement, she turned off the lamp, and found her place in the bend of Sylvia’s arm to rest for the night.

Two hours later, Sylvia woke to Lesley’s piercing cry.
“No… no… Mama? Mama? Please Mama…” Her body jerked violently with each word.
“Les… Lesley.” Sylvia shook her shoulders. “Baby, it’s your dream. Wake up. It’s only a dream.”
“Wha… what?” She bolted upright in the bed, shaking and wringing wet with sweat. “Syl? Syl?”
“Shhh, I’m here, love. Right here,” she reassured. “That was worse than last time, Lesley. Are you okay?”
Lesley didn’t try to fight her tears. It was pointless when she’d been dreaming. “Tiffany’s from Zwolle.”
“Where Mamaw and Papaw used to take you every year? For camping and tamales, right?” Sylvia asked.
“Yeah.” She sniffed. “God, why do even happy memories trigger it?”
“I don’t know, Les. I wish like hell, I did though. Here…” She passed a tissue and quickly ran to the bathroom for a wet washcloth. “Tell me about it. Let’s see if there’s anything new.”
Lesley opened her notebook and accepted the washcloth and a pen from Sylvia. “I was playing in the field of sunflowers. Mom was bound and gagged. Naked. Bloody marks on her back shaped like angel wings. He was there again. Farther away this time. And the little boy was playing with a puppy next to his feet.”
“That’s new, Les. The puppy?”
Scribbling down her thoughts, Lesley nodded. “The puppy was a Rottweiler.”
“Good. Details are important,” Sylvia encouraged. “Was your mother breathing?”
“Yes. This time she was.”
“What about the light? Did it get brighter?”
“No.” She scratched her head and looked towards Sylvia. “It didn’t. You know, Mamaw swore this was related to Mama’s car accident. But I know it’s not. I know it.”
“Whatever memory you’ve repressed, Lesley, it wants to come out. And God, I’ve watched you struggle with this for so long. I want you to be free of this… this burden.”
Lesley leaned in close, needing to be near her wife. “You know I couldn’t face it without you, Syl?”
“Les, you could. You are so strong.”
Nodding again, she returned her notebook to the bedside table and reclined into Sylvia’s embrace. “You’re probably right. But… I never want to be without you to find out.”

Fun Facts

– The picture is from Saint Roch’s Cemetery in New Orleans. Read about that historic neighborhood and cemetery here.

– Sylvia and Lesley were two characters that came completely formed with names and personalities. Out of the multitude of characters to love and hate, readers have overwhelmingly loved both women and *hope* their relationship stays intact. All I can say I’d that they have trials ahead (see Sylvia’s secret above).

– I loved the idea of someone as level-headed and literal as Lesley having a ‘gift’ that goes against her personality.

– I can’t say too much about the dream, but I’m excited for all the pieces to finally come together as y’all keep reading.

– This is the last Fun Facts, I can only do so much (what’s available on Amazon but I really loved sharing this with y’all. Maybe next, I’ll do character profiles.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday.

💙Elizabeth

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Burgess/e/B00MOM8XJW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1410543140&sr=8-2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Waiting-Series/786961264661560

Blog Link: https://liddyburgess.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22915102-the-waiting
Twitter: @liddyburgess

Fun Facts – Chapter 4 The Waiting Book 1

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Three
“Who’s keeping the twins?” Arianne asked as she and Lesley chopped vegetables in the Douglas kitchen.
“Well, you know Sylvia. Bless her heart. She demands that all our babysitters have advanced lifesaving skills to take care of our kids.” Lesley shook her head. “So we got Layton.”
Arianne smiled at the thought of Layton. If anyone could be a good influence over her eldest son, it would be Layton Beard. She and Nash had started dating a little over a year ago, and in that time she’d seen her son more often than in several years prior. Very seldom did she allow herself to dwell on her own bad relationship with Nash. The reality was she’d failed him as a mother, and he had turned to the one person who thrived on hearing his story of neglect. Her son’s friendship with Millie was the strongest bond in his life. Arianne despised her more than any other person, and cringed thinking of how her husband had concealed Nash’s involvement with the woman for years. By the time Arianne figured it out, Nash was old enough to do whatever the hell he wanted. Everything got slightly better after Graceanne was born, but he always managed to find fault with her and Andrew again. It wasn’t until he started a relationship with Layton that they began to see a marked change in their son. With long blonde hair and deep blue eyes, she was equally as beautiful as she was kind—an unlikely albeit lucky match for Nash.
“Can I just say again how much I love that girl?”
“For the nine millionth time? Sure,” Lesley joked. “She is great. Made a huge impact on Nash.”
“I was just thinking that,” she said, transferring the lettuce from the cutting board to the colander. “Did I tell you that when Andrew talked to Rachael today, she said something about going to the Caribbean?”
“What? No.”
“Yeah. And I’m wondering what the hell she’s thinking? She knows I’m tied up with the benefit all next week. Don’t get me wrong, I love having Gracie. Nothing makes me happier. But Rachael knew I was going to be busy. I know she did.”
Lesley frowned as she retrieved glasses from the cabinet. “That’s odd.”
“Tell me about it. I’m having breakfast with her tomorrow morning. I mean, I hate to ask Rachael’s parents to take Gracie. I know they will, but they live so far away. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.”
“Well, if that doesn’t work, you know she can stay with me and the girls.”
“Three little girls under three years old?” Arianne said. “That’s a lot for anyone.”
“Ha… yeah… but some days, when Liene has dumped spaghetti on the floor and Stowe is screaming her head off, I think, what’s one more?”
“Those girls are a mess,” Arianne said, walking into the dining room with a handful of plates.
“So are we going to talk about the text you sent me?” Lesley asked when she returned. “You’re telling Andrew about Greg?”
“She paused for a few seconds. “No. I’m pissed Gregory’s bringing her. But no. That won’t solve anything. I was just being dramatic.”
“No, it won’t. Especially since he finally seems halfway content in his life.” Lesley wasn’t surprised to see the hurt look on her best friend’s face. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“He really seems happy?”
Shrugging her shoulders, Lesley exhaled. She’d never understand why the two of them tortured themselves like they did. But as she wrapped her arms around Arianne, she knew it wasn’t her job to understand. It was her job to be a friend. That meant telling the truth even when it hurt. “You know he’s not truly happy unless he’s with you. But yeah, Sylvia says this girl is different. Greg’s kept her around a little longer than most.”
“Do you think he still loves me?” she asked, wiping away fresh tears.
“Oh Ari. Ari, you know he does. You know it. But honey, you’re married. To his best friend.”
Arianne sighed. The truth was never easy to hear but Lesley was right. It was unfair to Gregory for her to hold so tightly to something that ended years ago.
“He’s a good man. He’d never ask you to leave Andrew. Look, no one can take away what the two of you shared. Having said that, you have to let him go. He deserves happiness just as much as you, and if you can’t be together, well, y’all have to find it however you can. How are you and Andrew anyway?” she asked, trying to change the subject. The more Arianne thought about Gregory, the more depressed she seemed to get.
Opening the refrigerator, she pulled out dressings for the salad. “Busy. Too busy. I don’t remember the last time we made love or even spent quality time together. We argued today because he’s missed every single one of Pike’s games. I know he doesn’t mean to. I have to at least hope that.”
Lesley frowned. She wouldn’t bring it up to Arianne, but Andrew’s behavior now mirrored what happened fourteen years ago when his infidelities drove her into Gregory’s arms. Even though he’d come a long way, Lesley didn’t trust Andrew as far as she could pick up his six-foot-two ass and throw him. Before she could answer, the doorbell chime interrupted; Gregory and his girlfriend had arrived.
Arianne’s nails dug into her best friend’s forearm. “I don’t… I don’t want to do this.”
“Deep breaths,” she said, calmly. “You have to. You’re not competing for his heart, you got that years ago. Now, let’s go in there and be gracious and cordial.” They walked arm-in-arm toward the great room where they heard Andrew’s booming voice introducing Tiffany to Sylvia. “Right, Ari?”
Locking eyes with Gregory across the room, Arianne said in a small but determined voice, “Right.”
“There they are,” Andrew said pointing at the two women. “Tiffany, this is Sylvia’s lovely wife Lesley.”
“Hey.” Lesley extended her hand to the petite woman. “Very happy to meet you.”
“You too, Lesley.”
“And my beautiful wife…” Andrew’s arms encircled her waist. “Arianne.”
She smiled and looked at every inch of this woman who enamored her beloved. Tiffany was a cute girl with a generous bosom; she was possibly around her stepdaughter, Sydney’s age. That would make her almost thirty years his junior and certainly ready for marriage and children with the CMO of River City Medical Center. “Good to meet you, Tiffany. Welcome to our home.”
“I’m so glad to be meeting everyone. Gregory has nothing but good words to say about all of you,” she replied. “May I help you ladies in the kitchen?”
Andrew answered for them. “That sounds like a plan. I’m gonna run out here and get the grill fired up. Hope you like steak and sausage, Tiffany. We’re all carnivores here.”
“Sure do,” she said, leaning up to kiss Gregory on the cheek.
Sylvia motioned to Gregory. “We’ll come with you, Andrew. I know Greg wants to go over tomorrow’s meeting before we sit down for dinner.”
“Tiffany, we have a rule with these three. They’ll talk about work all night long if we don’t stop them,” Lesley said, glaring at the three doctors playfully. “They get their time before we eat and then no more hospital business the rest of the night. You’ll have to help us keep them in check. Greg and my wife are usually the worst offenders.”
“I’m usually too drunk to give two shits about the conversation,” Andrew added, opening the patio doors. “Ari, I’ll be ready for the meat in about five,” he said as Gregory and Sylvia followed him into the backyard.
“Arianne, your home is gorgeous. I’ve always loved the Mediterranean style,” Tiffany said, politely. “How long have you lived here?”
“About fifteen years. We moved from New Orleans when Metairie was much more suburb and less crowded. Now you almost have to go across the lake to get any peace,” she said. Though it was hard not to judge everything about her, Tiffany seemed sweet enough. Arianne decided that she could spend the night getting to know this girl, but talking to Gregory about his girlfriend? She wasn’t prepared for that. “Where are you from, Tiffany?”
“I’m from a very small town in northwest Louisiana. Zwolle,” she answered, washing her hands at the sink. “You’ve probably never heard of it.”
“Honey…” Lesley’s clear blue eyes sparkled. “I’m from Bodcaw, Arkansas, and my mamaw and papaw used to drive us down to Zwolle every October for the Tamale Festival. We’d stay for almost a week camping at Toledo Bend State Park.”
Tiffany’s face brightened, grateful for some common ground among Gregory’s friends. After four months of dating and several missed meetings, making a good impression was paramount. “Yeah?”
“I didn’t know that, Les,” Arianne said, turning towards her best friend.
“Nothing my grandparents liked more than eating tamales by a campfire. Goodness, I hadn’t thought of that in years.”
“Well, I’m glad my hometown brings you such happy memories, Lesley.” Facing Arianne, she held her hands out for inspection. “Clean hands. What can I do for you?”
“You’re the guest, Tiffany. You shouldn’t be doing anything.”
Undoing the tie on the bag of sourdough rolls, she said, “I can butter rolls.” After accepting a butter knife from Lesley, Tiffany looked in Arianne’s direction. “Gregory told me you’ve been busy with the Hope Benefit. This will be my first time to attend. I’ve heard about it, but never had the invite to go.”
“I guess it’s your lucky year then.” Arianne gave a closed-mouthed smile through gritted teeth.
“Arianne, that’s an understatement in my book. I wish I could tell y’all how great that man is out there.” Tiffany’s head fell, concealing her blush. “Y’all know him better than me though. You know he’s amazing. I didn’t think it was possible to find someone like him. I just… he’s the best.”
Lesley glanced at the counterfeit smile on Arianne’s face and then to her eyes. Green and expressive, they always told the truth, and now they were screaming “get me the hell out of here.”
“Gregory is one of the most genuine men you will ever know.” Lesley took the meat out of the refrigerator. “Ari, Andrew should be ready for the meat.”
“Oh,” Tiffany exclaimed, sliding the rolls into the oven. “May I take it?”
“Sure.” Lesley opened the side door leading to the patio. “Thank you for your help.”
“Anytime.”
Outside, Andrew stood alone by the grill. “Where’s everybody, Dr. Douglas?”
“Hey Tiffany, it’s Andrew, please. You’re part of us now. No need to be formal,” he said, taking the bowl full of marinating steak and sausage. “Greg and Sylvia went into the pool house to play a game of air hockey. They have a little bit of a competition going on.”
“Yeah? Who usually wins?”
“Sylvia. She has much better hand-eye coordination. Which is saying a lot because Greg is a kick-ass heart surgeon. Did surgery on me.” Andrew proudly undid the top button of his shirt, revealing the top of the six-inch vertical scar over his sternum. “If it wasn’t for him and my ex-wife, I’d be dead.”
“Oh? Your ex? Y’all must have a good relationship.”
Andrew’s jovial laughter carried underneath the awning. “Well, we do. But Ari and Mills? Not so much. They haven’t tried to kill each other in about three years so I say, that’s a good relationship. Millie is a phenomenal doctor and Gregory honestly didn’t want to do the surgery with anyone else.”
“How long ago was it?”
“Fourteen years. And I’m still going strong.” He leaned in, eying the young woman. “I know you might be concerned that it took so long for him to introduce you.” The steaks sizzled as Andrew tossed them on the grill. “Damn, that’ll be good. But Tiff, he only brings the women around that he’s serious about. In the years I’ve known him—and mind you, that’s a long while—I’ve only met three of his girlfriends. And his family, less than that.”
Closing her eyes, she released a long-held sigh, relieved to hear that admission from Gregory’s best friend. “I was so scared, Andrew, that it was because he didn’t like me. And I was scared y’all wouldn’t either. I know our age difference…”
“Aw hell,” Andrew muttered, sipping his bourbon and water. “My wife hadn’t even turned twenty and I was thirty-two. I know there’s a few more years than that between you and Greg, but being so young, Ari was practically jail bait. And here we are twenty-six years later.”
“How did y’all meet?”
“She’d just moved to New Orleans and started working at Rivers as an aide. Had it not been for Greg doing some sleuth work on my behalf, I never would have talked to her,” he said, looking out across the backyard. “She blew me off that first time. But Mother Nature intervened the second time when her car broke down on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in a huge ass thunderstorm. We’re talking hurricane force winds.”
“Oh goodness.” Tiffany’s eyes widened, awaiting the rest of his story.
“I just happened to need some time to myself that evening and was headed to my camp on the lake in Madisonville. When I finally convinced her to come with me, we were both soaked to the bone and freezing. We went to the boathouse and ‘bam,’ it hit me. I didn’t want just one night with this woman, I wanted a lifetime.”
“What a great story to tell your kids and grandkids. And why was Arianne on the Causeway that day?” Tiffany wondered.
Andrew bit his bottom lip realizing his wife had been very vague about why she’d been driving there during such a bad thunderstorm. “I don’t know? I think she’d had an argument with a friend.” He nodded thinking that sounded about right. “Clearing her head, same as me.”

An hour later, pleased with the way dinner went, Arianne quietly excused herself to the kitchen to prepare dessert. She still wanted to vomit, seeing the way Tiffany rubbed all over her beloved, but the night was almost over and she’d managed to avoid him. In her mind, that was a small victory, but as if he knew she was thinking of him, Gregory came in the kitchen shaking his almost empty glass.
“Oh Gregory, I’m sorry. That was rude of me,” she said. “I should have asked about refills.”
“Ari, it’s me. I can wait on myself.” He opened the freezer to add more ice to his tea. “I wanted to talk anyway,” he replied with a nervous smile. “Well?”
“Well, what?” Arianne played dumb.
“Am I going to get your opinion?”
“Of?”
“Of Tiffany?” He led.
“There’s a strawberry virgin daiquiri I made for Pike in the fridge. She’s welcome to it.” The words dropped from her mouth like a guillotine before she could stop them. Immediately she wished she could rewind and start over. “Gregory, that was wrong. I had no right,” she apologized, placing her hand over his.
He jerked away. “No, Ari… you didn’t. This is exactly why I didn’t want to bring her.”
“She’s almost thirty years younger.” Arianne tried to bite her tongue, but it was impossible. “What could she possibly want with you, but the charmed existence of being a doctor’s wife?”
“Thanks for the compliment. Isn’t that the damn pot calling the kettle black, Mrs. Douglas?” he countered.
“You know damn good and well why I said yes to Andrew.”
“Yeah, and look at you now.” He threw up his hands. “Still just as conflicted as you were back then. I’m not doing this with you. I think it’s time for us to leave.” He breathed out, exasperated.
“Gregory, don’t do that. Be rational,” she argued.
“Coming from the most rational person in the world. Go to hell, Arianne, you and your perfect life.” Gregory sneered, storming out of the kitchen.
Regretting their conversation, Arianne’s head lowered, ashamed. She had earned that outburst. Every bit of it. If anyone deserved happiness it was Gregory. The question she had to ask herself was: why did she have such a hard time being happy for him?

In the great room, Lesley stared straight ahead, wondering what kind of heavy conversations were going on between the two unrequited lovers. Gregory and Arianne fought hard and loved harder, and when they were together, the rest of the world didn’t exist.
“Hey, where you at?” Sylvia whispered to her wife. “You seem a world away.”
“I don’t mean to, love,” she replied with a peck on Sylvia’s cheek.
Moments later, an upset Gregory rushed out of the kitchen and bent down to Tiffany’s ear.
“Hey Syl, I think we might have a problem.” Lesley tilted her head in Gregory’s direction.
“Crap. They can’t stay away from each other long enough for us to have a dinner? Damn, I need to talk to him about that.” Sylvia shook her head. “Guess we should help them out.”
Wasting no time, Lesley stood, hoping an inebriated Andrew wouldn’t relate Gregory and Tiffany leaving early with anything that may or may not have happened in the kitchen. “I know this is shameful, y’all, she said before the group. “But my wife and I miss our babies. This is the longest we’ve been away from them.”
Laughter filled the room, the loudest being Andrew. She was glad. He suspected nothing.
Agreeing with a strained smile, Gregory helped Tiffany stand. “Yeah, it’s late for me too. I have two early meetings, and we’re still having that luncheon with the interns tomorrow, right Syl?’
Sipping her drink, Sylvia nodded yes. “At thirteen hundred.”
“Great. I’ll see the two of you tomorrow morning,” Gregory said to the other two doctors. “Andy, please tell Ari thank you for another lovely evening.” After a swift handshake, he gripped the bronze door handle.
“We enjoyed meeting you, Tiffany. Keep this old guy in line.” Lesley gave Tiffany a quick hug before excusing herself while the others said their goodbyes.
Finding Arianne up on the levee in the back yard, Lesley chastised, “Next time you want to fight with Greg, please don’t do it during dinner when Andrew is throwing back the bourbons like Prohibition’s starting tomorrow?”
“Did they leave?” she asked, ignoring her friend’s rant.
“They did.”
“What did Andrew say?” Sipping her own bourbon, her eyes were fixed on the waves.
“Nothing,” she reassured. “When I realized Greg was upset, Syl and I ran interference and it’s fine now. Greg was mad though.” Lesley knew the answer but still asked the question, “What did you say to him?”
“I made a comment about her age.” Arianne’s heart burned as much as the whiskey easing down her throat, yet she swallowed hard. One day she might find a way to be happy for Gregory and his hot, sexy girlfriend… but today was not that day.

Fun Facts

– Today’s picture is of the Sunshine Bridge in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, a very important place for Ari and Greg in Book 2.

– Layton’s name came from a street in Monroe, Louisiana, which is the only large city near where I live. Oddly, there’s also a Garrison Road (Gregory’s father’s name) and a Mills Farm (Millie’s nickname) in Rayville.

-A local supermarket sells frozen Zwolle tamales, and they are kick-ass.

– Arianne’s car that broke down on the Causeway was a 1979 Ford Thunderbird. We took that detail out.

-The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway has seven turnarounds. It truly is one of the most impressive bridge in the world. The only other one that compares (IMO) is the LA 1 Bridge to Grand Isle. There’s a moment on both these bridges when you realize… it’s you, a bridge, and WATER. Scary cool!!!

– Greg and Ari have such a volatile and maddening relationship. It’s always run the gamut of extremes. I tried to make them romantic and loving, but they didn’t want that. They wanted explosions and fire.

Hope y’all have an awesome week…yay for Christmas! 🎄Elizabeth

Fun Facts…Chapter Three

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Three

The evening sun shining in the car window warmed Bob on his drive home from Lochlann’s in Slidell. The end of February and early March had been unusually brisk and dry for South Louisiana, which had him slightly concerned for his crawfish farms outside Bayou Des Allemands, and even though his partner hadn’t contacted him, Bob made a mental note to call him over the weekend. He’d been trying to reach a more important person for the past hour—his eldest son. Living in Dallas, Dr. Sol O’Malley couldn’t be as involved with the “Operation” as much as either of them would have liked, but his successful plastic surgery practice and a volatile marriage to River’s head OB/GYN Dr. Christine Caissy made living out of state rather appealing. Deciding to try him again, Bob dialed the number and waited.
“Hey Dad, sorry I couldn’t answer. I was on the phone with Sloane,” Sol said, speaking of his seventeen-year-old daughter. “How’d your meeting with Andrew go?”
“He’s cautious, but that won’t be a problem. We’re in. We’re really in.” Bob’s voice was bursting with excitement. “I can’t believe it. After years of planning, this is finally a reality.”
“You and Millie have put in a lot of hard work into making it happen,” he added. “Still a lot left to do, but getting in Rivers—that was our biggest hurdle.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, Nash has really been an asset. Of course, I’d never tell him or Millie that, especially since it was her idea to bring him in,” said Bob.
“Watch those two, though. I’ve never trusted Millie. And anybody in Andrew’s circle—well, you know how I feel about him.”
“I know, Son. Me too. Seems like a lifetime that we’ve been waiting for this. Andy Douglas and that bastard Jamie Caissy, they’ve taken so much… so much from us, but, our time is now. And Sol, you just don’t know Millie the way I do.” He smiled thinking of the woman who had been in his life longer than any other. Their beginning had started out rough, but she eventually found her way back to him. As she always would.
“I’m glad you’re so confident, Dad. But be careful. We all lie and cheat to get what we want. Some of us more so than others.”
Bob laughed. Sol, at thirty-seven was practically his mirror image, in every way.
Following in his father’s footsteps, the boy had joined the Marines after college, but proved to have better control of his temper than his father. “Yeah, you’re right. Speaking of, I’ll call our “friend, the congressman” soon to let him know it’s started. I believe he’s already arranged for the purchase of a house in Mandeville.”
“Good. Glad you’ll have him there, since I can’t be. May’s the earliest I’ll be able to break away from Dallas, and that’s out of necessity for Sloane’s graduation.”
“Hey, I understand. Besides, having you in Texas gives us more contacts there. We’ll talk soon, Sol.” Ending his call, Bob grumbled driving past a red Chevy Silverado parked in front of his house. He knew who owned that truck and was not looking forward to this conversation.

Dr. Andrew Nash Douglas III stood tall and proud against his truck, clad in green surgery scrubs. Today, he was wearing wire-rimmed glasses. With his dark hair and hazel eyes, Nash resembled a young Andrew. Following in the Douglas tradition, he was in his first year of residency at Rivers. Driven and dashing like his father, he had his pick of women and never wanted for anything else either. Bob always thought Nash needed to be brought down a notch or two… or ten.
“Where’s Millie?” Nash asked as he met Bob by the garage. “I thought she was coming.”
“Do you see her with me, Nash?” he answered in his most caustic voice. Unlocking the door, the two men entered the house.
“I don’t know if she is inside. Don’t get an attitude with me. I just came over to see how it went with my dad.”
“Good. We’re in at Rivers. Now, all we have to do is get Millie hired back and we’re good to go. You’re sure St. Tammany’s anesthesiologist has privileges at Rivers too, huh?”
“Yeah, according to what I saw on the hospital mainframe, he did a surgery with my dad a few months back. But in my opinion we need another anesthesiologist in New Orleans,” Nash stated. “And your guy can stay at St. Tam.”
“Oh… really?” Bob shot back. “Pray tell why do you, Mr. First Year Intern, think we need a second anesthesiologist?”
“Why are you jumping down my throat, Bob? Jesus. I’m working with you, not against you.”
Nash sat on the couch, crossing his legs. “I’m just trying to think of ways to fly under the radar. That’s all. Dr. what’s-his-name will need to do some non-Operation related anesthesia cases with us so people like Gregory don’t start questioning the types of surgeries he assists with.”
Pouring them a glass of Gentleman’s Jack, he replied, “Don’t worry about Gregory. Your idea was excellent and he’s got more than enough on his plate to keep him occupied.”
“Thanks,” Nash said, taking the drink. “What did my dad say about Millie?”
“He didn’t. I didn’t ask.”
“Shit… Bob. We gotta have her in. Dad can do surgeries and it’s good to have Christine to harvest eggs and shit, but we need Millie’s privileges restored at Rivers.”
“Don’t you think I know that, Nash?” He sneered, tired of this arrogant and smartass child telling him how to run his business. Nash’s skills were invaluable—especially his ability to hack into almost any computer—but at the moment Bob could do without him. “The Hope Benefit is a week from tonight, and my goal is for Millie and me to walk arm-in-arm on a red carpet they’ve laid down especially for us.”
He laughed. “That’s a lofty goal. Won’t be a problem to convince Dad that she should come back. But Greg?”
“I told you not to worry about him,” Bob yelled, irritated that Nash was acting as if he were the leader of their group. He knew a way to shut him up. “Plan B is always available… if this doesn’t work out.”
“I hate Plan B,” Nash muttered under his breath.
“You agreed to it, and I swear if you breathe a word to anyone…” Bob glanced out the window when he heard Millie’s silver Lexus turning in. “Especially to Millie… I will kill you, Nash.”
“Shit…” He held up his hands as if in surrender. “I won’t, man.” Nash hated Bob—eclipsed only by the hatred he had for his own family. His blood. The ones who had shunned him and sent him away. The ones who preached tough love but offered none. If he had any success in this world, it wasn’t because of his parents, but because of the woman who entered Bob’s home now. She was his father’s ex-wife—Dr. Millicent Douglas. Their friendship began thirteen years ago when a young Nash hitchhiked his way to Slidell, and she had become the one person he trusted with his life.
Bob attempted to kiss Millie’s lips, but she turned her head so he got her cheek. “Hey sweetheart.”
“Bobby…” she said, writhing away from his embrace and extending her arms to a standing Nash. “Hey baby, I brought you some chili and cornbread for work tonight. It’s out in the car so don’t forget it on your way out.”
“Thanks Mills. You didn’t have to,” Nash said, kissing her forehead, “but I’m glad you did.”
“Well, I know you won’t eat until tomorrow if I don’t.” She patted his chest. “You tell that girlfriend of yours, I said she should start taking better care of you.”
“Nobody will ever compare to you, Mills.”
Bob sipped his drink and made a sour face. When Nash was around Millie, Bob might as well be dead. He was her pride and joy. Her prodigy. And she was his unattainable angel. The one woman who would never return his feelings. Bob suspected that Nash had been in love with her since he was a teenager, but Millie’s connection to Nash’s father kept his jealousy at bay. She’d never cross that line—even if she wanted to. Bob was sure of that.
“Do you have time to stay and visit?”
“Wish I did, but I gotta be back in an hour,” Nash replied, opening the outside door. “Thanks for the drink, Bob. And Mills, thank you for my lunch.”
“Anytime, Nash. Be careful,” Millie said, returning to the couch.
When Nash drove away, Bob relocated next to Millie and inconspicuously began to rub her arm, surprised she didn’t slap his hand away.
“How was your day?”
“Long. Had back-to-back open heart surgeries today. Pass me Nash’s drink.”
Bob reached for the glass and watched her down it. She was in the mood to get drunk tonight and nothing pleased him more. Millie was always amazing in bed, but alcohol enhanced her ability to be free. No inhibitions. Quickly, he handed her his drink.
“You want me drunk, Bobby?” she asked, reclining against the couch, white-blonde curls framing her face.
“I want you to stay with me tonight, yes. And if getting you drunk will do that, then I’m not protesting,” he admitted, kissing her neck, up to her cheek, then her lips. “You taste so good.”
“You’re tasting the Gentleman’s Jack.” She licked her lips and closed her eyes. “Was Nash here to find out how it went with Andy?”
Exhaling loudly, Bob huffed, “Yeah…”
“What?” She opened her eyes, certain he was pissed that she’d mentioned Andrew or Nash. She didn’t care.
“Can’t we go one evening and not talk about the Douglas men? I can’t get away from them,” he said, turning to face her.
“Excuse me? I asked one question, Bob.”
“Did I get any chili and cornbread? Did you cook for me? No. But after a hard day at work… you… you cooked for Nash. I bet if he hadn’t been here, you’d driven all the way to Rivers to take him lunch.”
“And you’d be right. He’s just as precious to me as my own children. Maybe even more so because he has no one.”
“He’s got a whole damn family,” Bob screamed.
She stood and carried both glasses to the kitchen. “I don’t have to answer to you about my relationship with Nash.”
“He’s in love with you, Millie.”
Slamming her hands on the counter, she returned an acrimonious smile. “I’m not having this fight again. You are a paranoid, insecure, poor excuse for a man. And you need to know your place.” This was an easy game with Bob—she always had the upper hand, and always got what she wanted. Millie knew he was serious about Nash and his feelings. She thought there might even be some truth to his accusations, but their relationship was none of Bob’s concern—ever, and apparently he needed to be reminded of that. “I came here for one reason, and one reason only, and if you can’t get your ass up and give me what I want, I can find someone else who will. So, what will it be, Bobby? Can you give me what I need?”
“Yes… Millie,” he whispered in a meek voice.
“Yes, what O’Malley?” She hissed.
“Yes ma’am.”
“Now, show me what you’re wearing underneath your pants,” she demanded, sauntering towards Bob. He was fumbling with the button on his jeans.
“Hurry the hell up. I don’t have all day.”
Pulling down his boxers, he revealed an indiscreet bulge in a pair of lacy light blue panties.
“You look absolutely ridiculous, and you can’t even follow directions.” Covering her eyes, she laughed and attempted to get back into character. “Twenty lashes.” Millie pointed to the bedroom. “And no climax again tonight.”
“What? That’s what you told me to wear today,” he complained. “I did what you wanted. The blue ones.”
“No, Bobby.” She grinned, following close behind. “I said wear the dark blue. Those are light blue. Our actions yield consequences, and unfortunately…” Millie opened the closet, retrieving a leather whip from the top shelf. “These are yours. Now, lay your ass down and take it like a man.”

Fun Facts
– The picture isn’t of Slidell (where Chapter 3 is set), but it is of an old sugar mill on the Northshore.

– Chapter 3 is one of my favorites in Book 1 because you get a feel of the dynamic between the characters mentioned. Though I adore the relationship between Millie and Nash, Bob and Millie’s interaction is some of the most fun (and controversial) to write. I must admit, I held my breath when I sent the manuscript to the editor the first time. I felt sure she would be offended and think I was disgusting. Luckily, she ‘caught the vision’ early on in the book, and viewed their storyline as plot enhancing – which was my goal.

– Sol’s name (pronounced ‘Saul’ not ‘Soul’) came from a local doctor named Sol that I worked with at an outpatient surgery center. Ironically, the real Sol and the literary Sol are similar in height and build. I didn’t plan that.

– From the first moment of their interaction (even in the very first draft of The Waiting that will never see the light of day), Millie and Nash had an undeniable chemistry. I had no intentions for their story to be so central, but despite all the reasons they are wrong for each other, there are a million more that make them right. Out of all the friendships I’ve written in this series, the one between them is the most balanced. They compliment each other perfectly.

That’s it for fun facts.Today I start the outline for Book 3 of The Waiting Series…The Wanting. Honestly, I feel that this book has the potential to be even CRAZIER than The Watching. We shall see. Have a great day!!!