Hi guys, we have T.A. Moore stopping by today with her new release Every Other Weekend, we have a short intro from T.A., Five Facts about Col., a great excerpt and a fantastic $20 Dreamspinner GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~
Every Other Weekend
Divorce lawyer Clayton Reynolds is a happy cynic who believes in hard work and one-night stands. He also believes that being an excellent lawyer means he never has to go home to the miserable trailer park where he grew up and that volunteering at a women’s shelter will buy off the conscience that occasionally plagues him. So when Nadine Graham comes in with a broken arm and a son she desperately wants to protect, Clayton can’t turn down their plea for help.
Taking the case means appealing to investigator “Just Call Me Kelly” for help. That wouldn’t be so bad if Kelly weren’t a hopeless romantic… and the hottest man Clayton’s ever met.
Kelly has always had a crush on the unobtainable Clayton Reynolds. He agrees to help, even though he has enough on his plate with the motherless baby his widowed brother left him to care for.
As Nadine’s case turns dangerous and the two seemingly opposite men are forced to work together, they discover they have a great deal in common—but solving the case and saving Nadine’s life might cost Kelly everything.
First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my stand-alone contemporary suspense Every Other Weekend. Every now and again an author (or at least THIS author) gets characters who drop fully formed and already opinionated into your brain. It happened with my Digging up Bones series, and again with Clayton and Kelly (and Baker, who was so much to write for that he has to get an honourable mention) in this book. Trust me, this was originally meant to be a much sillier book. There were hijinks planned, but Clayton almost immediately established he wasn’t into the ‘jinks.
Anyhow, I thought that since I loved these guys so much? You guys might like to learn a few important bits and pieces about them. Let’s kick it off with Kelly’s favourite brother (depending), Col Kelly
Five Facts about Col.
1: The eldest boy in the unwieldy Kelly clan, Col was technically old enough to be his youngest brother’s Dad when Kelly was born. It made it hard to feel like the kid’s brother sometimes, and not a genial and involved uncle. They just didn’t have a lot of touchstones in common. He tried though.
2: Like most of his family Col is a cop. Unlike some of his brothers he doesn’t particularly want to be a detective or break a big case. He broke one once, solved a kid’s kidnap and murder. It felt really good, until he had to try and explain ‘why’ and ‘how’ to the little girl’s parents and realised there were no good answers.
3: He’s happily married. Sometimes he isn’t sure his wife is. The Kelly family are…a lot.
4: He’s not either parent’s favourite son. That doesn’t really bother him, but it also sometimes doesn’t seem fair either.
5: Col has always been the family peacemaker. He runs interference with his parents so his brothers don’t get into trouble and makes sure his parents don’t find out stuff that would upset them. Sometimes he gets tired of it, but someone has to do it. Otherwise they’d all be at each other’s throats.
NADINE GRAHAM was a short, not-quite-young woman who came with lots of boobs, blonde hair, and blue denim. Her clothes were expensive, with painted-on jeans and cut-down-to-there T-shirts, and her jewelry was all clunky pretty plastic and cheap metal—except her wedding ring, a white-gold band with diamonds that didn’t need a fancy cut to make them look bigger or a magnifying glass to see. Something to make it clear she was taken.
There was a tight look around her eyes that hinted Clayton wasn’t the only one who had second thoughts about his morning’s choices.
Sure enough she gave him a quick, uncomfortable smile as he folded his long body into a chair meant for someone smaller and set his briefcase down next to him.
“I… I think I made a mistake,” Nadine said. Her eyes flickered around the room, at the chipped walls and “This is Consent” posters. “I shouldn’t be here.”
“No one should be here,” Clayton said. He glanced at the plastered arm she held balanced awkwardly in her lap as though she weren’t quite used to the bulk of it. The cast had a bit of wear to it, so it wasn’t new, but no one had written on it yet. Clayton filed that away. Most people had at least a few friends with Sharpies who’d insist on scrawling something—a heart, a “Get Well Soon,” or, if you were a guy, a cock and balls. “Sometimes it’s just the safest place they have.”
Nadine folded her arms as though she could hide the cast and picked at it absently with her candy-pink nails. “I’m not… I’m sure it is,” she said. “It’s just not… you wouldn’t understand.”
Clayton shifted back in the too-small, understuffed chair. It still felt odd to consult with a client while wearing jeans and his old college sweater, but a suit and tie just made people at the shelter uncomfortable.
“I’m not the police, and I’m not Child Services,” he said. “I’m just a lawyer. If you don’t want to do something, I can’t make you do it. All I’m here to do today is give you information on your options. If you want me to.”
She gave him a sharp look out of ridiculously blue eyes. The flicker of shrewdness belonged to a woman who looked less worn down. “And then?”
“Up to you.”
She folded her lip between her teeth and finally she nodded.
Clayton ran through a quick and dirty short list for her—the top ten things to do if you’re leaving an abusive husband. He also outlined her legal recourse under the law regarding her marital status and custody arrangements. Laid out bare, no padding to cushion the blow, it sounded brutally unencouraging. But it was still better than a lie.
Nadine listened in silence until he got to the end, and then she choked out a wholly unconvincing laugh.
“I’m sorry,” she said quickly, one hand cupped over her mouth. “I didn’t mean to… this just isn’t me. It isn’t us. We’re not, we’re not like people like that. He’s not a monster. I’m not a victim.”
It wasn’t Clayton’s job to push her into anything. God knew, it wouldn’t work. He still had to fill the silence.
“I’m a divorce lawyer, Mrs. Graham,” he said finally. “I deal with a lot of broken marriages. Mostly they aren’t monsters or victims, just people who can’t do it anymore.”
Through her fingers, he caught the edges of a bitter smile. “How many of them are in a—Jesus Christ—women’s shelter?”
Nadine looked away from him and gnawed her lower lip until the lipstick came off and he could see the puffy bruise underneath. Her eyes kept flicking around the space as though the doors were locked and she needed a way out.
“You think I should leave him, right?” she said. “I don’t blame you. I think I should leave him. Except, what if I can’t do that? What would I do? He’s… he takes care of me and Harry. I’m useless on my own, always have been.”
She said that as though it were a fact, rhymed it off like a date learned in history.
A pointedly loud voice interrupted the conversation as, from the other side of the door, Maureen rambled on about the many good, imaginary qualities of one of her dogs. The one she had with her fought nightmares, apparently, ate them like cotton candy.
“Dogs don’t like cotton candy.” The voice was young and dubious but intrigued.
“Bacon cotton candy,” Maureen countered promptly. “Dogs love it.”
Nadine unfolded herself—Clayton hadn’t realized how much she had hunched in on herself until then—and quickly flicked the damp from her fake lashes with her fingertips. She was ready with a smile as Maureen, demon-eating dog tucked under her arm, scooted a stocky little boy into the room.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Maureen said in her raspy voice. She sounded like a big woman, the sort Clayton remembered from his childhood who all had tits like shelves and flat feet in worn flip-flops. They were unimpressed women who he’d thought were the source of the phrase “keep your feet on the ground.” And although he had never seen her impressed by anyone, she was a small, gently-worn, half-Korean force of nature. “Harry just wondered where you were.”
Nadine’s smile was genuine for the first time as she held her hand out and wriggled her bubble-gum pink fingers at her son. “Right here,” she said. “Did you miss me?”
“No,” he said with offended little-boy pride. When Nadine mock-pouted at him, he relented. “Maybe. Are you okay, Mom?”
“Of course,” Nadine said.
It wasn’t a bad lie, but Harry didn’t look like he bought it. He gave Clayton a suspicious look and put himself in front of his mom. His face was round and freckled, wholesome as a kid on an old adventure novel, but he had the jaded, tired eyes of a disappointed middle-aged man.
Clayton had seen those eyes before.
“Who are you?” Harry demanded. “Were you mean to my mom?”
“No, he was not,” Nadine blurted out, clearly embarrassed. She caught Harry’s arm and tugged him back to her side. “That was rude, Harry. Mr. Reynolds is a friend of Mrs. Park, and we’re talking. Okay?”
She waited. Harry twisted around to frown at Clayton, who sat back and tried to look as harmless as possible.
“Daddy said men and ladies can’t be friends,” Harry said.
The answer creased Nadine’s face with a slap of misery, and she had to struggle to keep her voice from cracking as she went on. “That’s enough, Harry. Your daddy says lots of silly things. Okay?”
Harry shuffled his feet on the ground and scowled. “Okay,” he finally muttered.
Nadine wiped her face again, so he saw a smile when he looked back at her. “Why don’t you go with Mrs. Park and play with the puppy. Okay?”
“He doesn’t just eat bad dreams,” Maureen coaxed. “He does tricks too.”
Harry was obviously torn as he glanced over at the magical, bad-dream-eating fluff ball that wriggled in Maureen’s arms. He squirmed in place.
“You sure you’re okay?” he asked.
Nadine rolled her eyes and gave him a gentle shove toward the door.
“I’m so fine,” she said. “Go on.”
With a last glare in Clayton’s direction, Harry slouched away toward Maureen, who crouched down and leaned in to ask, “Would you like to carry him?”
Harry’s unhappily slouched back straightened as he blurted out, “Yes, please.” She suppressed a smile and passed the fluff ball to him, and the dog promptly licked his face in the hope of stickiness. Maureen nodded reassurance to Nadine and then led them out of the room.
“He… James and I had an argument, and I hurt myself,” she said. “He didn’t think I needed to go to the hospital, and when I insisted, he locked me out. Harry snuck down and let me back in after it got dark. I mean, James didn’t think I’d stay there all night, but Harry was….”
She took a deep breath and pressed, her fingertips against her eyelids as she tried to hold the tears back.
“He isn’t like this. It’s not his fault,” she said. “He’s just… he’s trying to change things—for us—and that’s… it’s a lot of stress. People put a lot of stress on him. It’s not like he hit me.”
Clayton pulled a tissue out of his pocket and leaned forward to offer it to her. “I can help if you want me to,” he said. “Now. Later. It doesn’t matter.”
She took the tissue and twisted it between her hands instead of using it.
“I can’t leave him,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself, never mind Harry. I haven’t worked in five years, and when I did, I was a waitress—a… topless waitress. That’s going to impress the judge, isn’t it?”
“It’s my job to get you what you’re due. Both of you.”
Nadine popped her jaw sharply and pugnaciously to the side and snorted. She pushed a sweep of pale hair behind her ear. “No one gets what they’re due from James,” she said. “He doesn’t like to lose. What if I leave him and I don’t get custody of Harry? James loves him. I know he does. But he’s not… patient. I can’t risk that, can I?”
Clayton wanted to tell her. It wouldn’t do any good; it had to be her decision. But he still wanted to.
“With divorce there’s always a risk that you won’t get the outcome you want, that I’d like,” he said. “Sometimes nobody’s happy at the end.”
She took a deep breath and twisted the tissue between her fingers until it tore. “Can I think about it?”
“Of course,” he said. “You have to be sure.”
Nadine nodded and got gingerly to her feet. The habit of courtesy made Clayton’s muscles twitch to offer her a hand, but like his suit, that just made people here feel uncomfortable sometimes. He waited until she was on her feet and then followed suit.
“Before you go,” he said. She paused and looked at him warily. “Maureen said you asked for me by name. I don’t think we’ve met before, so I wondered how you’d heard of me?”
“From James,” Nadine said. A quick smile twitched over her face when Clayton raised his eyebrows. “Sort of. This guy Davy, someone he worked with, was gloating at a party that he had this shit-hot divorce lawyer and all his wife had was this pro-bono schmuck Reynolds from a shelter. Her name was Mia? Mia Avagyon?”
The name sounded vaguely familiar, but not enough to pull up a face and a marital history from Clayton’s memory. That didn’t mean anything. Clayton had been a lawyer long enough that only the very rich and the very terrible cases stood out to him without the prompt of a case file. but he nodded as though he remembered Mia.
“James laughed at him, right in the middle of the party. He said that Mia wasn’t just going to get the girls, she’d get Davy’s ball sac too. That you worked for this fancy firm that kept the best private investigators in the state on retainer, and they’d find out if Davy had ever even cursed at a kid before. These days Davy can’t see his children unsupervised anymore. So last night, after I left, I called Mia and she told me to come here. I thought she’d ask questions, but she didn’t.”
It was the first time that an abusive husband had ever referred anyone to Clayton. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but that was hardly Nadine’s fault.
“If you decide to go ahead with this, Nadine,” he said, “I will do my best for you and Harry.”
She nodded and didn’t move, as though her feet were glued to the floor.
“The thing is, I do love him,” Nadine said, her voice hopeless. She glanced around at the room again, at the walls in need of paint and the duct tape patches on the carpet hidden under carefully placed chairs and cheap rugs. Her throat worked as she swallowed. “I suppose you hear that all the time.”
Clayton thought about those dark, old-man eyes in a wary kid’s face—not Harry’s, a skinnier face and dirtier, usually, but the eyes were the same.
“Every day of my life,” he said.
TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.
Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.