The Traveling Series
“The word L♥ve burned on his lips…”
Three best-selling stories of CARNIVAL life
The Traveling Man * The Traveling Woman * Roustabout
In one boxed set for the first time
THE TRAVELING MAN
I was ordinary. Nice.
He was extraordinary. And he wasn’t always nice.
Moody and difficult, brilliant and beautiful, Kes scared me and he protected me. He could be incredibly hurtful and incredibly thoughtful. He wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for me. He challenged me, he took me out of my safe little box and showed me the world could be magnificent. He was everything I wasn’t.
Aimee Anderson is ten when the traveling carnival first comes to her nice little town. She doesn’t expect her world to change so completely. But meeting Kestrel Donohue puts her life on a different path.
Even though she only sees him for the two weeks of the year when he passes through her home town, his friendship is the most important of her life. As a child’s friendship grows to adult love, the choices become harder, and both Kes and Aimee realize that two weeks a year will never be enough…
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
THE TRAVELING WOMAN
How many times do you gamble on love? When love has knocked you down, should you give it another chance? When does optimism become stupidity?
And what happens when the man you’re in love with is never still, always moving, always traveling? Do you say goodbye, or do you leave behind everything that you’ve worked for, everything that you’ve ever known? Can a traveling carnival be my home?
Oh. You thought I had the answers. No, sorry. No answers, just a lot of questions—and a heart that wants to rule my head.
Can one person be my home?
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
I’ve been thinking a lot about family. It’s not where you come from that matters, the people you were born to. That’s just life’s lottery. No, your real family are the people who travel your road, the family you choose for yourself. My brothers don’t share my blood, but they share my hopes and dreams, understand my fears, know what makes me tick.
They know I have rules, they just don’t know why. And I’m happy to keep it that way.
I love women. Love ‘em. The more the better. Blondes, brunettes, redheads, they can have freakin’ purple stripes—I don’t care. As long as they know about the rules, I’m not hurting anyone.
Never give a woman my number. That’s smart.
Never sleep with them more than once. Why only eat the red M&Ms when you could have all the other colors, too?
Always leave her satisfied. That’s just polite.
Always leave never look back. That’s safe.
* * * * *
Twelve years ago Tucker McCoy walked away from the hell that was his family with not much more than the shirt on his back. No regrets. Never once looking back.
Living his life as a roustabout turned stunt rider with a traveling carnival keeps a smile on his face. His new family are the people he’s chosen to be in his life, the people who travel his road. Kes, Zach and Zef don’t share his blood, but they share his hopes and dreams. Understand his fears and know what makes him tick. They’re his brothers, his real family.
If you keep moving, no one can catch you—it’s a simple rule. So when Tucker crosses paths with Tera Hawkins, he knows he should move on. There’s no woman that’s ever been worth breaking his rules for. Besides, she’s off limits, untouchable. He knows stronger men would walk away, but dammit, he’s always been weak.
All he can offer her is a night she’ll never forget, but will that one taste be enough?
I breathed in the scent of frying onions and hotdogs, the sweet air around the cotton candy stall, watching the excited faces of children and the restrained excitement of adults as they moved down the midway. The scents and sounds took me back to a magical part of my childhood. I’ve missed this, I thought. The carnival had been such an important part of my life, and I’d cut it off ruthlessly—even if it was to protect my heart from further damage.
My nephew tugged on my hand, almost overwhelmed with the choices surrounding him.
First stop was the Monkey Maze which Dylan adored and went a long way to running off some of his nonstop energy. Then we headed down the midway, playing all the dumb games and trying to win stuffed elephants and toys that no one in their right mind would ever want. But that was the point, wasn’t it? The fair wasn’t about being sensible, it was about having as much fun as was legal.
I had a little pang when we went on the Ferris wheel, but it was so different being there with Dylan that I didn’t really mind.
I couldn’t help wondering if the whole thing hadn’t helped me grow up a little. After all, it had been eight years. I was nearly 25—definitely time to get over it. Over Kes. He-who-must-not-be named. But breaking up with my last boyfriend had left me feeling surprisingly emotional—and add that to being back in Minnesota.
In the afternoon, Dylan decided he wanted to go see the show playing at the back end of the fair. There was some motorcycle stunt rider that he wanted to see.
I wasn’t very keen. I’d seen things like that on TV—those guys were nuts.
We could hear the roar of engines set against the backdrop of some heavy rock music, presumably to ramp up the drama. My sister winced at the volume and I raised my eyebrows.
With resigned shrugs, we paid our 15 bucks each and went inside.
We’d missed the first few minutes and had to squeeze into the middle of a row of seats, much to the annoyance of the other patrons. I didn’t think we’d missed much because all I could see through a cloud of dust and fumes, was some guy in red and black leathers, using his poor motorcycle to screech around, leaving a pattern of tight circles in the dirt. Dylan told me these were called ‘donuts’. Good to know.
Those were followed by a display of wheelies: along the ground, up ramps and onto seesaws. I liked the innovation of a digital display on a large wall-mounted screen that showed the rider’s hair-raising point of view. If I squinted, I could see the camera mounted on his helmet.
Then he picked some poor woman from the audience who practically threw herself at him, and he practiced screeching around her, and skidding to a halt inches from her open legs. Ugh. She had her eyes closed the whole time, not that I blamed her for that, and I think half the audience were hoping that he’d run her over, but he didn’t.
He followed that with some wheelies standing on the seat, first on the back wheel and then on the front wheel, which was pretty cool, even doing it with no hands, which made me wonder how he controlled the bike.
So far it was technically stunning, but not that exciting. Apparently things were only just getting started. Next up were the jumps, and that had me gripping my seat. Two ramps, about sixty feet apart were set up. He raced up one, flying through the air. I gasped as his feet left the footrests and he seemed to be doing a handstand on the handlebars. I was sure I was going to see a horrible crash, and watched through my fingers as he landed.
Dylan was whooping and cheering, but Jennifer looked a little queasy.
“I want to do that, Mommy!” shouted Dylan.
Jennifer threw me a horrified look, and I shrugged as if to say, You wanted to come here.
But then the stunt guy topped that by doing a full somersault in the air. I squeaked with nerves as he seemed to mis-time his landing, but I guess that was all part of the act.
Jennifer tugged my elbow. “Bathroom break,” she mouthed.
Yeah, right. No coincidence on the timing, although, to be fair, she did look a little green.
Then two more riders entered the arena and they all jumped the ramp one after another, the guy in red and black freakin’ laying on his bike, hands in the air.
Insane. They were all insane.
And I thought that before two of the riders screamed up opposite ramps, seeming sure to hit each other midair, but missing by mere inches.
I’d never seen anything like it and was relieved when it was over.
Dylan was so excited he sounded as if he’d been sniffing helium. His squeaky high-pitched yells broke through my trance.
“Aunty Aimee, they’re signing programs! Can we go, can we?” And he waved the program in my face that we’d been given along with our tickets.
“Sure thing, buddy.”
I was happy to do anything now it was all over.
We made our way down to the arena where the three guys were chatting to the crowds. Unsurprisingly, the most popular was the guy in red and black leather.
Apparently, he was some sort of world record holder, jumping his bike more than 180 feet by Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia, or so the program said. I couldn’t say I’d ever heard of Hawkins’ Daredevils.
He had his back to us and I could hear his deep laugh as a bunch of kids asked him questions. He was really patient with them, which I appreciated, and seemed genuinely interested as he chatted with them.
Finally, he turned to us, and my breath rushed out of my lungs. I was staring up into silver-gray eyes that still haunted my dreams.
He looked equally shocked, but recovered so quickly, I wondered if I’d imagined it.
“It … it’s Aimee … Aimee Andersen.”
He stared at me, his expression giving away nothing.
“Yeah, I remember you,” he said at last, his voice grudging.
He was taller than I remembered, perhaps by as much as three or four inches, and much broader. Under his t-shirt his chest was well defined, and his biceps popped as he moved his arms. His hair was a shade darker than the pictures in my memory, and his face was narrower—the roundness of childhood long gone.
The dark scruff on his chin was new. My Kes hadn’t needed to shave.
I finally met his eyes. Those were the same. Still silvery-gray with the curious dark blue ring around the iris. And now they were staring at me without a hint of warmth.
I licked my lips and watched his eyes drop almost reflexively before he looked up again angrily.
“What are you doing here, Aimee?”
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to write. Perhaps it was growing up in a village well known for its mystery and folklore, which sparked my imagination as a child.
I enjoy writing in several different genres, and I’ve just published my first romcom, ‘Dazzled’.
All my books have a little me in them, and I’m inspired by the personal stories of those around me. It’s often from a simple discussion overheard in the train (‘Exposure’), in a café, or in the street, where ideas for characters or scenes come to me.
I fell in love with both Sam (‘The New Samurai’) and the eponymous Sebastian in ‘The Education of Sebastian’ and the sequel ‘The Education of Caroline’, and missed them desperately once I’d finished their stories. I love writing dialogue and always try to include touches of humour in the most poignant stories.
Whether you like adult romance novels, new or young adult writing, thrillers, or fantasy, I hope you’ll enjoy the journey through my stories.