Wednesday, March 6, 2024

March Madness


Available in print and ebook at

            March has come in warm but windy, yet so much better than our February. And for those in the US, it brings with it March Madness, the annual NCAA men’s basketball scuffle to determine the national champion. Even those who never played the game usually have a favorite team and fill out brackets with friends; brackets that often run amuck after the first round as top seeded teams get upset before they really get started.

            When I started writing “A Game of Love” and realized it started in March, I couldn’t help but add a little bit of basketball madness, even though my main character, Megan, has no interest in the sport. She’s much more interested in her best friend’s older brother, and is soon entangled in romance, until a murder rather disrupts things. If that isn’t bad enough, she has to contend with a ghost who has chosen her to haunt.

            Enjoy the opening chapter of “A Game of Love”, a contemporary romance revolving around the history of Boston, a cyber treasure hunt and a two hundred year ghost longing to find her lover.


Megan tilted her head back as far as she could, and still the chimneys of the three story mansion were hidden from view. It stood separate and majestic among the brick row houses in the heart of Beacon Hill. More than two hundred years ago, it had been the only house at the very edge of Boston by the Charles River; home to a tea merchant during the Revolutionary War.

Stacy, her best friend since grade school, actually lived here now. When they were young they had called it the Castle and had often pretended a prince would ride up on his white horse and carry them away. Even now when she had outgrown childhood fantasies, Megan felt the house held secrets lost to time.

            The wrap-around porch and tall front columns were painted a dark cinnamon red to blend with the brick. Comfortable wicker chairs graced both sides of the door, their cushions covered in bright flowered fabric that coordinated nicely with the rest of the furniture. Stacy, or more likely her mom, had redecorated since her last visit. All along the front were the rose bushes for which the Castle, actually named the Blue Rose Bed & Breakfast, was famous.

The wind picked up, blowing her hair across her face and sending a shiver down her spine. March in Boston was not yet time for roses. Though there was no snow on the ground, it still felt like winter. She hurried up the steps to get out of the wind just as the door opened.

“Megan!” Stacy’s exuberant hug nearly knocked her over, which was hard to do given Megan stood six foot tall in her stocking feet. “Come in; come in!” She grabbed Megan by the coat and practically dragged her into the house.

“My suitcase.” Megan turned back but Stacy snagged it and rolled it inside, closing the door with a slam.

Stacy, only five foot two, with blonde hair and blue eyes, had always reminded Megan of Tinker Bell. Even more so now as she fluttered around. “I am so excited you’re here.”

“I can tell.” Megan shrugged out of her coat and automatically turned to hang it on the coat rack to the left of the door.

“There’s just so much going on,” Stacy continued. “After a rather slow winter, the Castle is starting to fill up on weekends, and the summer months are practically all booked. But all that can wait. Come on back to the kitchen so we can talk while I make a few appetizers for happy hour.”

Stacy turned and Megan followed, the Bed & Breakfast as familiar as her own home. A wide staircase ran along the right side of the hall up to the second then third floors. When they were little, Stacy’s bedroom had been upstairs along with her parents’, and her two brothers had shared the huge loft on the third floor. After everyone had grown and left, her parents had converted their home to a Bed & Breakfast, adding bathrooms and dividing the loft into two airy suites. When her parents retired and moved to Arizona, Stacy had used their room as another suite and had moved to the basement, which was just as roomy and well-appointed as the rest of the house.

Immediately to the left of the entryway was a small library with a desk and computer, complete with Wi-Fi connections. It allowed guests a little privacy and quiet. Next was a sitting room, open to the guests and housing a big screen TV and several sitting areas. Megan remembered the winter Stacy’s parents had taken out the wall between that and the dining room, opening the space to accommodate more guests when needed.

Now they cut through the dining room and around the table, easily able to seat twenty. The table held a pretty arrangement of foliage, complementing the dark wood of the buffet and sideboard. Their childhood nickname of the Castle was totally appropriate given the size of the house itself, full of antique furniture and gilt trimmed pictures. The spacious gardens to the back, complete with gazebo, added to its appeal. And everything was spotless.

She followed Stacy through the half door into the kitchen. This was the one room of the house that had been completely modernized. State of the art appliances included a sub-zero refrigerator, six burner range and two ovens. Here, too, everything gleamed and the scent of rich coffee filled the air.

“How do you keep up with all this?” Megan asked.

“Sheesh, it’s not like I do it,” Stacy saucily replied as she reached above the counter and grabbed two coffee mugs. “You know how much I like housework.” She handed Megan a cup and spoon then turned and grabbed a bottle of creamer from the fridge.

Megan laughed as she poured a goodly amount of creamer into her coffee and stirred. “If I remember right, your mom always made you keep your door closed, even if there wasn’t any company. And she didn’t even venture to the loft where Cal and Jeff slept.”

Stacy’s voice was muffled, head buried in the refrigerator. “I hate to say it, but we never changed. At least Cal and Jeff moved out after college.” She pulled out a tray of cheese and salami, and another of pickles, tiny carrots and olives, setting them on the counter in front of Megan.

She automatically reached for a black olive, munching slowly; hoping having her mouth full would keep her from asking about Cal, Stacy’s oldest brother and Megan’s teenage crush.

Stacy dumped a tube of fancy crackers into a pottery bowl that was lined with a pretty embroidered napkin. “Help yourself.” She shoved everything closer. “I know they don’t feed you on airplanes anymore and,” she paused, glancing at the clock, “what time did you leave California?”

Megan groaned. “Seven this morning. Even with the plane changes in Denver and Chicago, there wasn’t enough time to grab anything.” Stacking salami and cheese on a cracker, she munched happily as Stacy continued her preparations.

“You haven’t started serving all meals, have you?” she asked.

Stacy shook her head. “Just breakfast, but not long ago I started having happy hour. Most of our guests come back from their meanderings around four or five to change before they go out for the evening. Well, at least in the summer that seems to be the pattern. Right now, the three registered couples told me they had late lunches while they were out sightseeing. So now, they’re probably in for the night. They seem to enjoy having a little snack and a glass of wine.”

She cocked her head to the side, and when Megan listened, she heard the television and a lot of yelling. Stacy smiled. “I dare say the ladies weren’t as ready to return as the guys.”

Megan sent her a questioning look.

Stacy sighed. “Honestly, Meggie. March Madness; college basketball?”

Megan shrugged.

“I can’t believe you have lived this long; especially hanging around here with Cal and Jeff, and have no head for sports.”

“I did watch the Super Bowl this year,” Megan replied defensively.

“Only because you were on a date, as I recall from our texting.” She raised a brow as only she could. “How is Brad, by the way?”

Megan snagged another piece of salami. “I wouldn’t know. The Super Bowl marked not only the beginning and end of my foray into sports, but the end of our relationship, if you could even call it that.” She had dated Brad for six months and finally asked herself why? She decided that was enough.

“And you never called?” Stacy grabbed two of the plates and swept around the counter. “Hold that thought; I’ll be right back.” Megan thought to help, so picked up the cracker bowl and followed Stacy into the dining room.

“Hi, everyone. This is my good friend, Megan.” Stacy waved in her direction and Megan nodded in recognition of the “hellos” from the couples sitting in the adjacent room. “Here’s the wine. Please help yourself, but no throwing things at the TV. It’s only a game.”

“Only a game?” One of the guys echoed. “First time in years Iowa made it to the sweet sixteen.”

“But you’re from Chicago,” Stacy replied.

“I know, but I thought about going to school in Iowa.” He grinned as he stacked some of the snacks onto a plate and grabbed a napkin. A yell from his friends had him hurrying back to the TV.

“They’re good for now. Come on,” Stacy said as she went back into the kitchen, closing the top of the half door so they could talk in peace.

“You still like doing this, don’t you?” Megan could tell her friend enjoyed her role as hostess, as she had when her folks first opened their home to strangers.

“I love it, but don’t think you can change the subject so easily. What happened with Brad?”

Megan sipped her coffee before answering. “There was just no spark.”

“But he was a doctor,” Stacy exclaimed. “We were always going to marry doctors or lawyers, or international celebrities, remember?”

“Yes and here we are. You as the very congenial hostess of a very successful B&B, and me…” Her voice trailed off.

Her friend reached across the counter, her small hand covering Megan’s. “What is it, Meggie? You said when you left Boston after college that you’d never come back. Yet here you are.”

Megan scrunched up her face. Her parents had died when she was a teen. There had just been nothing here for her. But now, when push came to shove, the Castle was the only place she had to go.

“I quit my job,” she said. “Or rather, my job quit me.”

Stacy squeezed her hand, then spun around. “This calls for more than coffee.” She grabbed a bottle from the cupboard and two shot glasses from another. Quickly she poured two shots, held one up and nodded to Megan to get the other.

Only Stacy, Megan thought, picking up the shot glass, tapping it against Stacy’s and downing the clear liquid.

“God!” She gasped as liquid fire raced down her throat, hitting her near empty stomach with a splash. She nearly dropped the glass onto the counter.

“It gets better,” Stacy said as she poured them each another shot. “Bottoms up.” When Megan didn’t immediately pick up her glass, Stacy added the inevitable, “Dare you.”

She had no choice, and licked her lips after downing the shot, the peachy flavor lingering. When Stacy started to pour a third round, Megan put her hand over the glass. “No more; not until I get something more than crackers in my stomach. Besides, aren’t you on duty?”

Stacy shrugged. “Not really. I serve an evening snack as a little plus, so it’s not like they expect any special service. Actually we could go downstairs, but let me fix you some dinner first.”

“No, you don’t have to do that. Just no more shots.” Megan turned the bottle around. “Cruzan peach rum?”

“Who’s drinking that sissy stuff?” A deep voice came from the back porch just as the door opened. A tingle of awareness raced up Megan’s spine. She didn’t have to see his face to know it was Cal. A tall frame filled the doorway as he shrugged off his jacket.

 His voice had always drawn her; deep and gravelly and totally seductive. She hadn’t seen Stacy’s brother since high school, and his gangly but athletic high school physique had certainly filled out in the years since. As her heart thudded erratically, she thought some things never changed. The crush she had all those years ago still morphed her back into a tongue-tied teenager.

“Well, well. If it isn’t little Megan Sue, the fourth but unacknowledged Garrett kid. Hey, sis.”  He actually ruffled his sister’s hair as he headed for the sink, his back now to Megan.

Which was just as well because she knew she was staring. Cal had been good looking in high school, but now he was devastatingly handsome. Completely opposite of Stacy’s fair complexion and blonde features, Cal’s hair was darkest brown, wavy and just to the shaggy side of too long. Broad shoulders tapered down to a trim waist. Tight jeans covered a butt that was…oh, so fine. The glimpse she had gotten of his face was all she had needed to fully recall his dark eyes, high cheek bones and strong chin, covered with dark stubble that was so sexy nowadays.

“Megan?” Stacy’s voice broke through her reverie. Megan swallowed and forced her gaze from Cal’s back. It was the one secret she had from Stacy, because how could she ever tell her best friend that she had the hots for her brother for the past fifteen years?

“What made you bring out the hard stuff, Stac?” Having dried his hands and tossed the towel aside, Cal turned around to lean against the counter, long legs crossed at the ankles and arms crossed over his chest. He was casually dressed in jeans and a button down shirt, and while his pose might appear just as relaxed, Megan knew he was always watchful.

“Megan quit her job,” Stacy began, and Megan couldn’t see correcting her.

With a harrumph, Cal reached over Stacy’s head to the liquor cabinet and pulled down a different bottle. “Then you should be drinking this.” He quickly poured shots, raised his in salute and downed it. Megan lifted hers to delicately sniff.

“No way.” She set it back down. When Stacy shot her a questioning look, she added, “Do you remember the last time we drank tequila?”

Cal laughed when Stacy smacked him in the chest with her hand. “She just got here, Cal, don’t be chasing her away so fast. Besides, what are you even doing here? Aren’t you on duty?”

“It was quitting time so I just thought I’d stop by and see you.” He gave her a grin that would stop the heartbeat of most women, but his sister was immune.

“In other words, you didn’t bother going to the grocery story this week.” She just shook her head and rummaged in the refrigerator, coming up with a package of pork chops. “I was planning on Jeff, but he at least called to say he had other plans, so there should be enough for your hollow leg.” She began grabbing spices from the side cupboard and rubbing some into the meat. “But you have to start the grill and cook,” she added.

Cal gave Megan a casual wink before stepping through the door onto the back deck. Megan wished it had been Jeff coming over. Although the brothers looked extremely alike, Jeff was just three years older than she, whereas Cal was five. Megan didn’t know if it was the age difference or what, but Jeff had simply been her friend, whereas Cal had been her fantasy. Now, she had reservations as to whether moving back to Boston had been such a great idea.


For a complete copy of “A Game of Love, click the link below the picture or visit my website at  or my Amazon author site at You will find not only this book, but others including historical and time travel romance.

            If you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy writing them for you, I would love for you to leave a review on Amazon.



  1. Great story start. Likeable characters. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


I have opened up comments once again. The comments are moderated so if you're a spammer you are wasting your time and mine. I will not approve you.

Popular Posts

Books We Love Insider Blog

Blog Archive