Every year, about this time, I get that hunger for the road in
the early morning when I step in the yard and catch the scent of cut grass in the air, hear the birds singing. It reminds me to hit the internet and track down an application for one of my favorite vacations—The Great Peanut Tour. It’s a weekend bike tour through peanut country along the Virginia and North Carolina border. For me, it’s a journey into all the best things about being a kid in summer.
It starts at Cattail Creek on a Friday evening. I join a caravan of trucks and cars, with bicycles on roofs and racks and trailers, files in. The sounds of setting up camp fill the air. Laughter, interspersed with muttered curses. The clatter of aluminum tent poles and thunk of mallets pounding plastic stakes. Families talk around campfires late into the night, but I’ve been there enough times to know, that by Saturday night the air will carry a different tune-- a silence broken only by heavy snores and the occasional hoot from a great owl.
I wake to morning chill instead of the blare of alarm clock. Crawl from my sleeping bag and follow my nose, searching out hot chocolate in the murky light of dawn. Breakfast preparations are underway in the mess tent. Someone plunks sport bottles full of maple syrup on each table. Empty platters are filling with
piles of steaming pancakes and sausage. Fuel for the long day
The morning glories are open and soaking up rays when we hit the trafficless roads of farm country. Bees buzz among the wild
flowers in roadside ditches. Peanut fields to the left of me, cotton to the right, and there I am, coasting back into a time when all I had ahead of me was day to explore and all I had behind me was a faithful dog willing to follow me into any adventure. I collecting friends from houses I passed, the stories spun and jokes played rerun as the miles tick by unnoticed.
There are stops on this trip too. Designated rest stops where women arrange food on picnic tables. Men man jugs of Gatorade, sweet tea, and top off sport bottles with ice-cold water. Every couple of miles someone wants to feed me. Their mantra, “Have another.”, brings to mind the long-ago mothers
and grandmothers who worried we were all too skinny.
The food is served up straight from the past. Tomatoes, still warm from the sundrenched garden, slathered in mayo, sandwiched between slices of white Wonder bread. Here in peanut country the peanut butter, and the grape jelly that goes with it, is dished up from canning jars with handwritten labels.
A few miles more and it’s the watermelon pickle stop, a few miles after that warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies, and waiting at the very end of the twenty miles I’ll log that day--peach ice cream. That’s how they keep me going, as the
day heats up and sweat slicks my body, the lure of sun-ripe peaches floating in ice cream still soft from the churn.
Some riders do the tour for the fitness challenge, powering
through century and half century rides. Some tour for a better mile time, bent low over handle bars as they pedal, leaning in at impossible angles as they whoosh around curves. Some come for the food, plotting routes that will take them by all their favorite treats as they ride.
Me, I sign up for a trip back in time. I return to being young enough to fritter away an entire day on my bike. I shiver with the thrill of cooling off under lawn sprinklers after the ride. I come to relive that good sore—a happy, tired-to-the-bone feeling I get at the end of well-wasted day. And yeah, I’m there for the marshmallows roasted over the campfire as the moon rises.
thinks maybe one day she’ll find an ordinary Joe who wants an average Jane sort of woman.
Marcus is anything but an ordinary Joe. Even if humans don’t know he’s a shifter and millennial being, he’s the sort of man women notice. A night of passion spent with Marcus is a night any female, human or Pantherian, won’t forget.
But Allie does forget. She repeatedly fails to recognize him even after an intense sexual encounter. Marcus discovers the source of her problem—face blindness, a genetic disorder with no cure. And he decides to use erotic rituals to teach her to see with more than her eyes. What he doesn’t count on is Allie seeing past the man—and recognizing the beast within.
Marcus ran his thumbs over rain-studded skin at the edge of her bra. He needed to reel himself in. He’d been trying for the last few hours to keep the inner beast leashed. He’d only meant to come close enough to touch her dreams, thinking then her guard might be down.
Few humans had the skill to shield their thoughts from him as
completely as Allie. But it hadn’t been hard to track her down a few days after she’d taken Hella. She had routines he could set his watch by. It hadn’t been long before she was back in the park for another run and he’d followed her home. But Hella wasn’t in Allie’s apartment, nor had he managed to get any information regarding Hella in repeated visits to Allie’s office. Numerous suggestions and influences hadn’t penetrated Allie’s mental blockade.
The erotic suggestions he’d sent winging into her dreams had
penetrated, stirred her needs, but it had opened no more than her body to him. A body soft, yielding. Her excitement evident to his Pantherian senses. The quick beat of her heart, the welcoming scent of female ready for a male. A firm tug at the zipper on her running bra accomplished nothing, so he did away with that impediment in the same way he’d dispensed with the shirt.
The soft sound she made in her throat was so mew-like he was tempted to toss her over his shoulder, head back to his truck and keep her. Unfortunately, he was fairly certain that practice had been outlawed in this country a couple of centuries ago.
Sex at dawn in a public park probably wasn’t legal either.
There were only so many laws he was willing to follow.
Like the heroine, Allie, in Blind Heat, Nara is face blind and lived with the condition not knowing there was a medical explanation for her inability
to remember faces. It’s a rare and only recently publicized condition. She hopes Blind Heat will help get the word out about face blindness.
Nara lives on a small farm in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When she's not writing, she loves to run, hike, bike, and kayak. Every story she tells incorporates her love of animals, nature, and adventure.
Blogs:www.NaraMalone.com– author blog
www.Therianverse.com--blog containing interactive content for her books from two series that include therian shapeshifters –Patherian Passions, and Passions Portal. www.PassionsPortal.com--interactive website for Shadowling Manor , the setting for the multi-author paranormal series.
Nara_malone on Twitter
Nara.malone on Facebook
The interactive world Nara built for Blind Heat is here--http://therianverse.com/naras-worlds/
Book video for Blind Heat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-wpM6up41c
Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win digital copy of The Tiger's Tale, first in the Pantherian Passions series, and a $10 Ellora's Cave GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a GC to purchase a video game targeted for female gamers written by Nara Malone with Orchid Games, Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch to a second randomly drawn commenter.