Soul Deep out in audiobook! — Jack West, widower, rancher and former Army Ranger, gets his own love story in this special I-Team novella, which was picked by readers at Grave Tells as the Best Contemporary Romance of 2015. It will be out in audiobook any day now.
Seduction Game is out in paperback, (I-Team #7) — Holly and Nick’s story is out in all formats — ebook, audiobook, and paperback. Look for it in Wal-Mart, the Kroger chain of stores, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller.
Dead By Midnight: An I-Team Christmas is out! — The grand finale of the I-Team series finds all the couples you love brought together when terrorists attack holiday festivities at a historica hotel in downtown Denver. It’s bad news for the terrorists. They have no clue what they’ve done when they take Marc Hunter and his friends hostage. Featuring cameos by the men of New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross’s Hostage Rescue Team series. Available in ebook and paperback.
- Pamela Clare
- I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.
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The snow is falling outside. There’s a warm fire in the woodstove and wood piled high outside the door. And Christmas is only a few days away.
Believe it or not, I haven’t done one bit of shopping this year so far. Nothing. Nada. I’ve been working so hard to get Defiant done before the holiday that there really hasn’t been time for anything else.
I haven’t done any baking either, and holiday treats are one of the things that makes Christmas special.
At my house, there are a few things that we have only during the holidays. Natalie helped me with the pecan pie. But we also have fudge, and we have Christmas cookies. And those cookies are really a very dear Christmas tradition.
Since I’ve fallen behind, I decided to get some help and decided to bring in the best emergency team I know — the I-Team guys.
I think that’s them at the door now...
Pamela: Hey! Come on in! I really appreciate you coming out tonight. I know the roads are pretty bad.
Gabe: [Shrugs, then gives me a kiss on the cheek (not the lips! Dang!)] The roads aren’t that bad. Just a bunch of out-of-state drivers who freak out when they see a flake. They ought to require snow driving classes before giving a driver’s license to flatlanders.
Marc: You sound like a grumpy old man, Rossiter. [Kicks the snow off his boots, hugs me, gives me a kiss on the cheek. I try not to let go.] We heard you needed us. A few inches of white stuff isn’t going to stop us.
Julian: [Gives me a big hug. Again, I cling, smelling man and leather.] How you been? We heard things have been pretty tough lately. Tessa sends her love.
Zach: Good to see you, Pamela. [Gives me a hug, lifting me almost off my feet. I feel hard body. Damn.] So what’s going on?
Reece: [Kicks the snow off his boots, brushes it off his wool coat.] Hey, sweetheart. Kara says to say hello. She hopes the writing is going well.
I shut the door and take their coats, then gather them in the living room.
Pamela: Here’s the deal. I’ve been working really hard on a book and have gotten very behind on all the holiday stuff — decorating, baking, shopping. I was hoping you could help me.
Gabe: So you want some lights on the house? The roof will be a little slick, but I think I can handle it.
Marc: [Rolls eyes.] You just want an excuse to play in the snow, Rossiter.
Pamela: I was actually hoping you all would help me decorate Christmas cookies.
Five men stare at me with blank faces. Julian raises one dark eyebrow, and Reece grins.
Zach: [Laughs] You called us over because you want help decorating Christmas cookies?
Pamela: [I shrug, smile.] When it’s December 21 and you haven’t done a single thing for Christmas but are trying to catch up, doesn’t that qualify as a special operation?
Marc: In Candyland, maybe.
Julian: [Nods.] Sure, yeah — at the North Pole.
Reece: Come on, guys, or are you all afraid of the Gingerbread Man?
Gabe: Seriously, I can get some strands of lights up on your house in no time. You got outdoor lights somewhere?
Julian: I’ll help.
Marc: You got a problem with your hearing? She wants help decorating cookies. Put on an apron, Dickangelo, and get your ass in the kitchen.
I lead the guys into my kitchen, where baked and cooled cookies sit on a tray, bowls of homemade butter cream frosting in blue, green, red and blue sitting on the table. Little bottles of red and green sparkles, cinnamon red-hots, silver sugar balls, and multi-colored sprinkles stand here and there. I ask them all to wash their hands — this is food we’ll be handling, after all — and then I sit at one of the six chairs at my table and demonstrate.
Pamela: So you take a cookie, choose what color frosting you want it to have, spread the frosting on and then decorate it with this stuff. [Point to bottles of decorations.]
For a moment, they stand there looking at the table and everything on it as if they’ve never seen or heard of Christmas cookies before. Then Reece sits, followed by Julian, Marc and Gabe. They each take up a cookie, Marc and Julian both reaching for the bowl of blue frosting.
Julian: Tessa’s about to have a boy, so I should get to use blue first.
Marc: Well, I sure as hell am not using pink.
Reece: Guys, we’re decorating cookies, not putting your masculinity to the test.
Julian: Your dick won’t fall off, Hunter. Go with it. Express your pinkness.
Marc glares at Julian, reaches for green, which Gabe is already spreading on a Christmas tree-shaped cookie.
Zach remains standing, and I know why. He hasn’t decorated cookies since he was a little boy, and it makes him think of his mother, who died some years past. I reach out, take his hand and give it a squeeze.
Pamela: Holidays are hard sometimes, aren’t they?
Zach: [Nods, sits.] Yeah.
I try to keep the topic light. I grab a star-shaped cookie and begin to paint it blue, dropping a silver sugar ball on each of its points.
Pamela: So what's been going on? It’s been a while since I checked in with you all.
Gabe: Kat and I are getting ready to head to the rez. She’s due in three weeks. As you probably know, if the baby isn’t born on the reservation, it won’t be eligible for membership in the Navajo nation.
Pamela: Yes, I’ve heard that. Do you know whether it’s a boy or a girl yet?
Gabe: [Shakes his head.] Kat wants to be surprised.
Julian: How about you, McBride? You and Natalie planning on starting a brood?
Zach: [Concentrating on putting red hots as eyes on a snowman cookie]. Nope. I’m not ready to share yet. I want more time with her before we do the family thing.
Marc: How does Natalie feel about that?
Zach: She’s fine with waiting. She started writing a book — a romance novel. She says she’s seen and heard too many unhappy things and wants to just write happy things now.
Marc: [Grins.] You going to help her with the research for the sex scenes?
Zach: You better damned well believe it.
Gabe: Hunter, what the hell ... ?
Julian: [Looks over at what Marc is doing.] Dude, you are sick. That’s just wrong.
Pamela: You put a dick and silver balls on Santa — and sprinkle pubes? [I look Marc straight in the eye.]
Marc: [Shrugs.] What?
Reece: You know, high school was a couple of decades ago, buddy.
Pamela: My kids are going to be eating these. And their grandparents.
Marc pops the cookie in his mouth and chews, a strange expression coming over his face.
Marc: Damn, that frosting is good!
All of the guys take one of the cookies they decorated and eat them.
Gabe: Got milk?
They all laugh.
Pamela: [Stands, goes to fridge, gets out the milk and goes to the cupboard for five glasses.] Okay, you can each have two. The frosting recipe is one that I learned from my mother. Actually, there’s no recipe. We just do it by taste. My kids love it. Their friends love it. Their friends even remember it from birthdays and such. It’s basically just a butter cream frosting.
Julian: You taking notes, Hunter? You can start your own TV chef show — Cooking with an Ex-Con. [Chuckles.]
Pamela: [Ignoring them.] You take a stick of softened butter, not margarine, and mix it with powdered sugar, a 1/2 teaspoon or so of vanilla and a little bit of milk. I usually put about a half a bag of powdered sugar in to start, mix it in, add a tiny bit of milk and the vanilla and then see how that is. If the balance of the taste is too buttery, I add more powdered sugar. If I want it to be chocolate, I add a bit of cocoa powder. It’s really the best frosting ever.
Marc: Can you email that to Sophie?
Pamela: Don’t you ever do the cooking, Marc?
Marc: [Looking kind of sheepish.] No, not really. I mean... if she's sick or just had a baby or something... Sure.
Julian: You’re such a Neanderthal, Hunter.
Zach: He’s probably doing her a favor by not cooking. Aw, damn! This one broke. Guess I better eat it, too. I’d hate to see it go to waste. [Pops cookie in mouth, chews.]
We work our way through the pile, with the guys catching me up on their lives. Reece and Kara’s oldest wants a mountain bike for Christmas, but Reece isn’t excited about the broken bones that will go with it. Julian, Reece, and Marc talk about how fun it is to experience Christmas through their kids' eyes. Zach tells us it’s his first Christmas as a married man and the first Christmas he’ll have spent with his father in more than a decade. And slowly the cookies are decorated.
I do notice, however, that a high percentage of them seem to break and require immediate eating.
Then the frosting is gone, and the cookies are done.
Gabe takes Marc aside for a moment, the guys seem to share a glance, and the next thing I know they’re in my garage.
Pamela: Uh... guys? Thanks for your help on the cookies. They look great.
Gabe: [Grins and grabs a ladder] You’re welcome.
Each of them offers some variation on that, but they’re very busy now, dragging out extension cords, a timer, and long strands of white lights. Zach is working a bulb tester like he’s diffusing bombs or something.
I know what they’re doing, and it leaves me feeling deeply touched. I make a pot of hot cocoa and some real whipped cream (not the canned stuff), checking periodically, the footsteps I hear on my roof definitely not reindeer.
Julian opens the door, ducks his head inside and tells me to get my coat.
I pour hot cocoa into six cups, put a dollop of whipped cream on top, then grab my coat and head outside into the snowy night.
Gabe’s voice comes from somewhere on the side of the house: Ready?
And the house lights up, looking beautiful.
Pamela: Thanks, guys. Really. You all know what’s been going on in my life. I wasn’t expecting much of a holiday this year. You’ve really made it bright.
They each take a cup of cocoa, and we stand there and appreciate the sight.
Then it’s time for them to go. They carry their mugs inside, each sneaking a cookie or two. One by one, they give me hugs and wish me a Merry Christmas.
Zach is last, staying behind to shovel my walk.
Zach: Merry Christmas, Pamela. It’s going to be a fantastic new year.
Awww *wipes a tear away* those I-team heroes are so sweet!! Thank you for sharing your time with them Pamela!! It was nice to catch up with them! I'll definitely have to try the butter cream frosting.Really wish R.J.M.G.Z would come to my house and play with frosting ;) Happy Holidays to you Pamela!!
Pamela, I've been laughing out loud, and I want to give Zach a big hug. Do it for me, and tell him Christmas with Natalie will get better every year. Great post!
You know what I think? It would be fun to warp time and get the I-team guys and the MacKinnons together for a post. I think they'd like each other.
How wonderful you having all of those 'sweet' men helping you decorate cookies. ;-)
I really enjoy reading your post, thanks for sharing, now send them ALL to my house! LOL!
Great frosting recipe, I'm going to have to try it out. You can never have too many good recipes to sample.
I also agree with the ladies, we definitely need some McKinnon men to help with anything!
Wishing all a very Merry Christmas!!
I got a little teary over that, so nice to see the boys happy and helping out a friend! Thanks for the Christmas cheer, Pamela. Hope yours is full of happy surprises.
Aw,that was so cute! Love catching up with the guys! Lol, I really need to find some real like I-team men,where are they hiding darnit!?
Your house is absolutely beautiful,LOVE the lights!
I'm definitely writing down this recipe,I love me some Buttercream, probably too much really lol.
I hope you have a wonderful and warm christmas Pamela!
Geez, why would that make me all teary eyed... except that I sure miss those boys!
Thanks for the story, and the cookie frosting recipe, Pamela.
I'm wishing you and your family the very best of what life has to offer this holiday season, and for all the years to come.
Loved it! Those guys are just too cool!
Merry Christmas Pamela!
Love, love, loved it !! You are so much fun to read.
Thank you Pamela. Happy Holidays to all !
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Favorite Writing Quotes
"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in A Knight's Tale