Veronica: I’m happy to have my friend Diane here today as my guest to talk about camping (an excellent summertime topic!), her new release, share an excerpt and have a giveaway!
Diane: Thanks so much for having me here today, Veronica. You are wonderful to share my joy in having a new release. I’m excited that after over fifteen years, Numbers Never Lie, a romantic suspense, is finished, and I can share the story with everyone. Be sure to see the Rafflecopter at the end of this post and sign up to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
For many years, I was a volunteer for Girls Scouts of the USA. Like many, I got involved when my daughter joined Girl Scouts. Because I grew up in a rural area, we didn’t have Girl Scout troops. We had 4-H. Although I learned much from 4-H, I wish the values and ideals of GSUSA had been available when I was a kid.
My dad’s idea of a vacation meant driving hundreds of miles into the Canadian wilderness, north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, finding a desolate lake, and tent camping there. Not much fun for Mom, who still had to prepare meals, only now on a camp stove. While Dad took a boat and went fishing, my sister and I got to soak up rays (that was before the cancer warnings) and watch out for the little kids (our sibs). I did get to read, so that much was fun. But, when Dad returned from fishing, we had to scale and clean the fish. Yuck! The second year, two of my uncles and their families joined us. Company for Mom and the sibs; more work for my sister and I who were the oldest. Not so much fun. That soured me on camping.
Hubs used to tell people my idea of “roughing it” was a hotel without room service. When my daughter and her Girl Scout troop became old enough to go camping, I sucked it up and learned to camp, following GSUSA’s rules and regulations. While I can’t say I love camping, I did learn to enjoy the out-of-doors.
My main character in Numbers Never Lie was a Girl Scout as a child and earned her Gold Award (the highest award a girl can earn), like my daughter did. Maggie’s BFF talked her into helping with a group of girls who wanted to camp. Then the friend moved away, Maggie “inherited” the group.
For safety reasons, Maggie wouldn’t take the girls without another adult. Getting a chaperone to help her proved to be a challenge. When no parents volunteered, the girls feared their camping days were over. That’s when Ellen said her widowed dad would help. According to Maggie’s brother, Drew wimped out of Cub Scouts after his first camping trip. Maggie should have checked with him, but she trusted his daughter.
Drew Campbell golfed, played tennis, and swam (in a pool). He enjoyed the outdoors. When his daughter asked him to go with her on an outing, he thought she meant a hike through a forest. A couple of hours max. Little did he know, the “outing” was an overnight trip and primitive camping. Surprise!
A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.
As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack’s an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.
Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that–an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.
A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?
“What do you mean no toilets?” Drew Campbell stopped on the dusty forest path, hooked his sunglasses on the placket of his golf shirt, and stared at his daughter.
“Dad-dy.” Ellen groaned. Was she only fourteen? She did exasperation better than his administrative assistant. “I told you we were camping.”
Not for a moment would Drew reveal that camping was not what he remembered her saying a week ago. She said she wanted him to come along on an outing with her little group of friends. He figured a hike, picnic lunch, and then home in time for supper.
After taking a call on his cell in the parking lot near the trailhead, he’d gotten his first surprise. That’s when he found out about the “no electronics rule.” No cell phones, no iPods. All were locked in the vehicles. Only the leader carried a cell phone, for emergencies only.
His second surprise came when he opened the hatch of the Navigator. Five backpacks. Five backpacks with bedrolls. He’d transported four girls. It didn’t take a law degree to figure out who the fifth backpack was for. He was in deep shit. But what could he say in front of Ellen and her friends?
“Of course, sweetie. I knew we were camping.” A lie to save face wasn’t wrong. Right?
“Yeah, sure, Dad.”
She didn’t believe him? What happened to the adulation that used to be in her eyes? The “Dad is perfect” look.
He tried again. “Camping, like KOA. You know, kiddo, shower buildings, restrooms, flush toilets. Right now, I’d settle for a port-a-potty.”
Ellen groaned again. “Da-ad.”
If he didn’t know better, he’d wonder if she had a stomach ache.
As he’d done several times in the past three hours, he took out his handkerchief, looked at it in disgust, and tried to find a clean spot. He wiped the sweat off his forehead. It was hot and sticky, more like August in Michigan than June. Drew intensely disliked sweating. Clean sweat—in a gym—was all right. Not this . . . dirt. More than sweaty, he hated being dirty.
Considering the rain in early spring, he was surprised at how dry the path was. And how much dust twenty feet could kick up on a forest path. That, however, was not his first concern. He needed a john. Bad.
“C’mon, Ellen. Isn’t there a restroom nearby?” he asked quietly. “Even an outhouse?”
“Dad, this is Prim.” Ellen had mastered the art of eye rolling. As he’d learned in the past few months, that innate skill emerged in girls during adolescence.
“Prim? What is that?” Drew gave her the self-mocking grin that always made her laugh. “A new all-girl rock group?
Ellen wasn’t smiling. She lowered her voice. “It means Primitive Camping. We go in the bushes.”
“What!” He looked around, realizing that the other girls were staring at him. He hadn’t meant to sound so loud.
“You are embarrassing me.” She stomped away, kicking up more dust. Before she got to her friends clustered nearby, she shot over her shoulder, “I wish you’d never come. I knew it was a dumb idea to ask you.”
“Hey, come back here, honey. I’m sure this is a little misunderstanding. C’mon, Ellen.” In the year since his wife died, he and Ellen had had a lot of misunderstandings.
“I think she’s mad at you.”
Drew turned toward the quiet voice behind him. There she was, leaning back against a tree, her knee bent and booted foot propped against the trunk. Maggie Sinclair, Director of Camp Hell. He knew Jack’s sister was an outdoor nut, but he didn’t think she was this bad. Pissing in the bushes, for God’s sake.
Maggie was a tall woman, only a few inches shorter than his own six feet. She had the tan of a person who spent time outdoors, not a sunbather, though, with laugh crinkles around her eyes. Still the rough-neck tomboy he’d grown up with. Who else would want to spend a summer day backpacking on dusty trails through snagging underbrush instead of out on a perfectly manicured golf course where you only ventured into the rough to retrieve an errant ball?
Despite the heat and humidity, Maggie’s white T-shirt, with its pink ‘Race for the Cure’ logo, was still white and her jeans, though faded, remained clean. With her dark brown ponytail pulled through the back of a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, she looked as cool as when they started on this trek three hours ago. That almost irritated him more than her awareness of friction between him and his daughter.
“Ellen? Mad at me?” He affected mock surprise. “Your powers of observation are amazing. Are you ever wrong?”
She cupped her elbow in her hand and tapped a finger against her jaw. “Let me see now. I was wrong once—fourteen years ago—when I married Roger Dodger.”
Roger Dodger. An appropriate name for the jerk. The guy got out of paying alimony, in part because of Maggie’s inept divorce lawyer. It still pissed him off that she hadn’t come to him. Never mind he specialized in criminal law. He would’ve made an exception for her.
“Let me think. Have I been wrong since?” She continued the damn tapping then snapped her fingers. “I’ve got it. I was wrong to let Ellen’s city-soft lawyer daddy help chaperone this trip.”
Drew gave her the smile that prosecutors knew better than to believe. “And here I thought it was because nobody else would.”
Numbers Never Lie is available at Amazon.
To participate in Diane’s Rafflecopter giveaway of a $10.00 Amazon gift card, go HERE.
About the Author:
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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