Masked Hearts in Serial Chapter 1b

Last year Masked Hearts received a great review from Romance Novels for the Beach.

I love, love, LOVED this book! Did I mention I loved it? Because I did. What we have here is the absolute perfect sweet yet sexy romance novel, all of which is centered around Halloween. I’ll admit, at first I was a little wary about how sexy this book could actually be. After all, our female lead character is a kindergarten teacher who sings in the church choir on Sundays. But once she started debating the merits of having a f*%k buddy versus using her vibrator I was like, “Holy Hell, we’ve got a live one here!”

You can read the rest of it on her wonderful blog.

I hope it entices you to BUY Masked Hearts for ONLY $0.99!

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“Thanks, Mr.–”

“Mark. When we’re back at school, I promise I’ll call you Ms. Carly, but let’s be on a first name basis here.”

She bowed her head and felt heat rise to her face, but when she looked up, she was all business. “Thanks, Mark. It’s good I ran into you today because I need to talk to you about Tyler.”

His demeanor changed instantly. He rolled his shoulders back, and his eyes filled with concern. “Is everything okay?”

Two Toil and Troubles with extra cinnamon,” said Chloe, setting them on the pick-up counter.

They took their drinks, and Sienna thanked him again. It had an inch of white foam with cinnamon in the shape of a jack-o-lantern on top.

“Want to sit at a table?” asked Mark.

Sienna nodded and headed towards a table for two by a window. Outside the clouds had gathered to make the daylight fade away earlier than usual. The looming Sandia Mountains were already a stone gray instead of the usual mix of brown and green. Her desires settled, and she pushed on with her role as teacher. Fortunately, Mark came right back to his son and asked what was going on.

She said, “It’s really not a big deal, but Tyler was embarrassed, and Ms. Harmon seemed in a rush today.”

He frowned at the mention of his ex-wife. “Did he have an accident like yesterday?”

“I’m afraid so, and since Ms. Harmon left before I could tell her, I’m worried she won’t bring extra clothes for him to replace the ones he changed into today. I don’t expect him to have another one on Monday, but…”

Mark nodded. “I’ll take care of it.”

Sienna took a sip and shifted in her seat. She didn’t want to make the next suggestion, but as a teacher she should. “I think everyone knows we’re getting a new kindergarten teacher soon. If Tyler’s uncomfortable in my class, you’ll have the opportunity to move him to the new classroom.”

“What? He loves your class and talks about you all the time. His mom is moving in with someone he doesn’t like. I’m sure that’s the cause of the problem.”

A sigh of relief escaped her lips before she rolled them together. “I’m sorry to hear about that.”

“In fact,” continued Mark, “probably the worst thing for him would be to remove him from your class with all the other changes going on.”

“I’ll let the principal know when she’s making up the new class list.”

“Thanks. Please do,” said Mark as he glanced out the window. His smile flashed, and he turned back to her. “So now that that’s out of the way, Chloe indicated you’ve been a regular here since last year, but you’re new to our school, aren’t you?”

Sienna nodded. “My apartment’s up here in the Heights, but I taught at one of the lower income schools for five years. It’s a little strange living close to the school I teach at and running into students.”

“And parents, too,” he said with a grin.

“If they all bought me lattes, I’d be fine with that.” Sienna took a sip of her drink, and the burn of the cinnamon let her know she wasn’t dreaming. She was really talking to Mark after school hours. But his next question was an unfortunate punch to the gut, reminding her why she hated romance.

“Why’d you leave your other school?”

For whatever reason—maybe it was his steady gaze or earnest interest—Sienna’s stock answer of, “It was time for a change,” fled her thoughts. All she could see was her ex-fiancé and team teacher leaving her in the middle of the year to teach in Argentina. She stuttered for a moment and finally got out, “It was a difficult situation. I sometimes feel guilty for teaching at such a nice school when there are kids out there who need the help more.”

Mark tilted his head and contemplated her. “It’s impossible to help everyone who needs it. Anytime you make a positive impact on a child you’re helping the world, no matter what their circumstances.”

His words buzzed around in her head, making her as happy as the caffeine she drank, but she kept her comment rational. “Not everyone would agree with you,” she said, thinking of her ex, who had to find the poorest children to take care of.

Mark leaned on the table with his elbows. “Sounds like we need to discuss it more. What are you doing this weekend?”

Sienna stumbled over her words with the sudden change of topic. “Well, I’ll be back here tomorrow to do all the paperwork for the week. It’s absurd that we have to measure where each kid is in the standards all the time. I can’t face the pile of papers in my apartment, so I bring them here.” She stopped and saw an odd twinkle in Mark’s eye like she was amusing him. She hated silence, so she forged ahead even when she should’ve just stopped and asked him his plans. “And then Sunday I’ll be going to church and singing in the choir. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a day off.”

Mark gently pried her fingers off her cup and held her hands. “Why don’t you ditch tomorrow and go for a hike in the foothills with me?”

Sienna’s breath caught at the back of her throat and jammed up her words. “Umm, I really shouldn’t. You’re Tyler’s dad, and if I don’t get all that documentation done, I’ll lose my job.”

His hands tightened around hers. “I’d never want you to lose your job. Is it really a full day task, or could we hike early in the morning and leave you with the rest of the day to get it done?”

Sienna knew she should just say no and leave. Her mouth even opened to say it, but different words came out. “How about dinner tonight instead? I never do work on Friday nights.”

It was Mark’s turn to flush. He even dropped her hands as he cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. I already have plans tonight.”

She should’ve seen it coming. When she thought about it, it was a surprise his Saturday wasn’t completely booked with dates with beautiful women. Probably why he’d suggested early Saturday morning. “That’s okay,” she gushed out to avoid the awkwardness. “The teachers get together for Happy Hour on Fridays anyway, and I already told one of the Kindergarten teachers that I’d meet her there.” She actually hated the Happy Hour Fridays, but it was go or be talked about, so she always went. She grabbed her drink and stood up, needing to get out of there as soon as possible.

Mark stood too and said, “No, you stay. I’ve probably ruined your whole afternoon of quiet by making you talk about work. Any other night I would’ve said yes. Have fun tonight.”

To Sienna’s surprise, he put his hand on her waist and leaned in and kissed her cheek. Lust seared her insides. He said, “I’ll come by here tomorrow and see how your work is coming.”

Too stunned to say anything, she stared at him as he left the coffee shop and got into a grey sedan, his latte still steaming on the table.

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