Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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7-Aug-2020

Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)

Guardian Angel: Zeek

Rank: Rookie

Mission: 12

“What do you mean we’ve got big problems?” I asked.

“Shut up and get ready for transport,” Zedekiah said in my ear. My controller sounded even more grouchy than usual.

“Transport?”

“We have to get you out of there before the containment team arrives.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but I felt the tug of transport pulling me away.

When I rematerialized I found myself in an expensive-looking office. A man and a woman were sitting on the opposite sides of a table, each with a lawyer next to them. I wasn’t sure how I knew they were lawyers, but I did.

My wristband, which had gone back to green for a moment, turned bright red.

“Kid, your job is to keep these two from getting divorced.”

Divorce had been a foreign idea to me, and I found it somewhat reprehensible. Especially when children were involved. Yes, I was old-fashioned.

The energy coming off the couple was blood-red. That only happened when pure hate was being felt by one human for another. “Zedekiah, I’m not sure that’s possible.”

“Get the lawyers out of there and then talk to them.”

“I—I’m a rookie. I can’t talk to them.”

“I think you’ll find you can. Whatever you do, don’t let them see you. Don’t flash your sword. Be subtle. I’m going to be gone for a little while. I have confidence that you can handle this yourself.”

“Wait, Zedekiah I—”

But he was gone.

For the first time since I became a Guardian Angel, I was alone.

It felt as if I was a balloon that had just been untied and allowed to float away. My insides twisted, and my mouth went dry.

The conversation in the room became audible. The man was yelling at the woman. “I’m not signing the papers until you agree on this.”

The woman snorted. “Agree that I can’t teach the bird to say bad things about you?”

“Correct.”

They were fighting about a bird?

The woman looked at her lawyer. “This is ridiculous. He agreed to sign the papers this morning. Now this? When does it stop?”

This was a hopeless situation, but I’d do my best until Zedekiah got back. I looked at both lawyers and said, “You need to use the bathroom.”

I must have used a little too much power, because one of them shot to their feet. “We’re taking a fifteen minute break.”

“Good idea,” the other said as he followed the first out the door.

That worked better than I thought it would, and left me alone with the couple. They glowered at one another, the blood-red energy between them got darker, but as I circled the table, I noticed most of it was coming from her. I used my powers to read through the divorce contract in a moment, and frowned when I found that they had three children.

If this was a Guardian Angel mission, then it was probably about the kids. I moved to the woman and whispered in her ear. “Why put the kids through this?”

She snorted.

“What?” the man asked.

“Just wondering if you’re proud of yourself. You’re selfish actions have put the kids and I through hell.”

The man kept his gaze on her. “Janice, you know I love you.” Bright gold energy came from his mouth as he uttered the words. He did love her, and it was a pure love.

What had happened to drive them apart?

“Not enough to keep your hands off of another woman.”

If this hadn’t been a mission, I would have walked away. I didn’t abide those that cheated on their spouses.

“Like you’re one to talk,” the man said.

“I was just talking to him on Messenger. It’s not like I was kissing him.”

“Now you’re lying to yourself and me,” the man said.

This was going downhill fast. “He still loves you,” I whispered to Janice.

She blinked and shook her head. “You only love yourself, Mark.”

I walked through the table to Mark. “This is about the children.”

Mark rubbed his face. “Look, Janice, I know I made a mistake, we both made mistakes, but it’s the kids who are suffering.”

“They’ll suffer less with you out of their lives,” Janice said.

I decided to stay between them. I looked at her and said, “You don’t believe that. Do you want to be a single mom?”

“We can work this out,” Mark said.

That surprised me. I didn’t think either of them would say that on their own. The light on my wristband turned orange.

“I’m tired of trying to work things out,” Janice said, but her heart wasn’t in it.

“This isn’t about a bird,” I said to both of them.

They stared at one another.

“You could try again,” I suggested.

Janice snorted.

Mark’s eyes pled with her to listen to the voice they couldn’t really hear. “We didn’t even try to work it out.”

“That’s because I’m finished with you.”

I leaned toward Janice. “But he still loves you. Don’t walk away from that just yet.”

For the first time the red energy coming from her faltered. Tears gathered in her eyes, and she shook her head.

“You love him too,” I said.

She nodded.

Mark furrowed his brow, not understanding her actions.

“Try again. For the kids,” I said.

Mark spoke first. “Please. Give us another chance. Just six months. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll sign the papers.”

“Do you swear?”

“I swear.”

I raised an eyebrow at the binding green light that flew between them. That was more than a cursory promise. Interesting.

The door opened and the lawyers came back.

“Sorry about that, I—” He stopped when the couple stood.

Janice pushed the papers away. “We’re putting this on hold.”

The two lawyers stared at one another, confused, as the couple walked out together.

I found myself shaking, as if I needed food. “Zedekiah?” I asked.

He didn’t answer.

“Zedekiah?”

Silence.

I glanced around, hoping to see something helpful, but it was just two confused lawyers and I in the room.

What had happened to Zedekiah?

Did you miss the beginning of Zeek’s story? Click HERE to start from the top!


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He’s Just a Guy

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The third, and final, book of Karly Stratford’s Summer Romances is out!

This one takes place in Seattle. After researching all of the fun things to do in Seattle, I really want to go there! But only after things calm down. Am I right?

Allie just sent another roommate into wedded bliss, and her goal is to stay away from guys. She does not need a man to make her happy, thank you very much.

Max just broke up with the woman he thought he loved. He’s not in the market for a relationship.

Fate, however, has other plans for them both.

She doesn’t need a guy to save her

He doesn’t need a woman to be happy

Both are lying to themselves

Max:
He stopped breathing when she opened the door, and his brain refused to work.

Allie Dalton. His friend’s little sister, and the one girl he’d always wanted to go out with, but had never found the courage to ask.

She was staring at him. Was that surprise in her gaze, or irritation?

He should say something.

Allie:
With her sister in a cast from her toes to her hip, Allie doesn’t expect anything but movies and take-out for the week.

Then Max Ashly—her secret crush from high school—knocks on the door.

Allie just sent yet another roommate off into wedded bliss, and isn’t in the mood for some super-handsome, well-dressed guy to sweep her off her feet.

But this was Max, and she’d always wondered what it would be like to hold his hand…

Can Max and Allie get over their personal issues and seize the day, or will they allow themselves to drift apart once again?

Find out today!

Excerpt

Allie walked with him to the front door. “Thanks for coming over, it was good to see you.”

Max plucked up his courage. “Same. You know, if you want to go see something, I can totally take you.”

She ducked her head. “Thanks, but I think I’ll be here most of the time, looking after Becky. You know how she is, if you leave her alone too long, she’ll do something stupid like try to go down the school stairs on a sled.”

Max laughed. “She broke her collar bone that time, right?”

“Yup. Got her out of a bunch of school work, which wasn’t exactly fair.”

“I remember.” Max smiled. He’d forgotten how funny Allie was, and he wasn’t ready to walk away from her. Hadn’t Virginia just been telling him he needed to find a fun girl? “I’m serious about the offer to go see the sights or whatever.” He reached into his pocket and drew out one of his cards. “The bottom number is my cell. Can I have your number, since Becky might not be the most reliable at the moment?”

“Sure.” She rattled off her number, and he saved it in his phone.

Max stopped in the open door. “It was good to see you.” He willed her to take him up on his offer, but instead she smiled and waved.

“I’ll see you later.”

“So, you’re going to call me?”

“We’ll see.” She smiled as she shut the door.

Max wondered how long he had to wait before it was socially acceptable to call her.


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31-Jul-2020

Catastrophic Angel Response Team (C.A.R.T.)

Guardian Angel: Zeek

Rank: Rookie

Mission: 11

“How long am I going to be here?” I asked Zedekiah.

My grouchy controller snorted. “We’ve been trying to keep this guy from eating himself to death for months. Everyone who’s not a rookie has had to do it, and now you get to.”

“But I’m a rookie.”

Zedekiah’s usual sarcasm evaporated. “Kid, after what you pulled on your last mission, you’re lucky not to be locked up.”

What I’d pulled? I still didn’t know what I’d done wrong. I opened my mouth to say so, but Zedekiah interrupted me.

“You’re here for twenty-four hours. This guy has to be healthy enough to drag another man off of train tracks and across a street. He’s borderline diabetic, and your job is to keep him from eating everything in sight.”

“And how am I supposed to do that?” I looked around the man’s apartment—he was in the shower at the moment—and took it all in.

He had hidden candy stashes in his office, alcohol in almost every room, a pantry full of cookies and snack cakes, and the fridge was filled with leftover pizza, Chinese, and several items that had rotted beyond recognition.

“I’m granting you the power to move things and to touch him. I’d say to use it sparingly, but no one else has. The last guardian angel assigned had to wrestle a two liter bottle of soda pop from him.”

“Wrestled it away from him?” I asked. “What does he think is going on?”

“According to the notes, he believes in the world of the fey.”

I winced. “People actually believe that still?”

“This guy does. He thinks we are evil sprites, or whatever, trying to keep him from being happy.”

I tried to reason the man out in my mind, but couldn’t. Who thought evil sprites were trying to ruin their life and then not do anything about it? Or had he? “Should I be expecting anything unusual? Traps or anything?”

“This guy isn’t that smart.”

“How many different guardian angels have been here?” I asked.

“Over a hundred.”

“And did any of them come back for a second day?”

“None of them.”

I lifted a finger, as if Zedekiah could see me. “And that’s not suspicious to you?”

“After a day of dealing with this guy, I think you’ll understand.”

I didn’t buy it. First the idiot on the tight rope and now this guy? The bathroom door creaked open. There wasn’t anything in the man’s bedroom, so spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with every treat in the apartment. The volume of carbs within reach of his desk was alarming, to say the least. It had been a while since I’d been human, but I was pretty sure no one person could eat that much sugar in a week, not to mention everything in the pantry. “Does he have friends over?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

The schedule Zedekiah had provided me with stated that this man went out for more snacks every day. How was he not swimming in boxes by now? The light on my wristband turned yellow and started to blink. Zedekiah had warned me that it would probably stay that way for the rest of the day.

I’d expected the man to be huge, but instead he looked pretty normal. A small belly and soft arms, but nothing like the glutton I’d been ready for. He sat down at his desk, pushed a button on his computer, and then reached for a box of cupcakes.

The light on my wristband went orange.

“Better get those away from him,” Zedekiah said.

I sighed, walked over, and took the box. The man let it go without a fight, then reached into his desk drawer for another.

“Seriously?” This time I slapped the box onto the floor. The man shrugged and started playing on his computer. His hand strayed toward a different drawer.

“It’s going to be like this all day,” Zedekiah said.

“Why are we saving him? He clearly doesn’t want to be saved.”

“Someone upstairs needs him.”

The question was why? Why this man, who had no desire to live?

I turned the latest box over, and emptied the contents into the garbage can.

Third time was a charm, because the man shrugged and went to work.

I watched him like a hawk, but he didn’t go for any more snacks until he got up for the first time. After a trip to the bathroom, he went to the kitchen and started piling a plate full of breakfast pastries. I decided to try a different tactic. I walked up to him and said, “You don’t need those.”

He stopped and turned his head to look at me.

At least that’s what it felt like. My insides went cold as he blinked at me once, then resumed the walk back to his desk.

Had he seen me? I rushed after him. “Maybe some milk? Or yogurt?”

The man shook his head and sat at his desk. He’d eaten an entire doughnut before I had a chance to stop him. The rest went into the garbage. He shrugged and went back to working.

He got up every hour. By the time lunch came around the floor was littered with food I’d smacked out of his hand.

There was something seriously wrong here. But if that was the case, why hadn’t anyone else figured it out? I was a rookie. I didn’t have much field experience, but I this had all the signs of a curse.

The man managed to down an entire bottle of soda pop while I was contemplating, and the light on my wristband began to blink red.

Maybe this was a test.

 dredged up what I knew about curses, got the release for one in my mind, walked up to the man and slapped him on the forehead.

My hand went through his head and came out the back, along with a small piece of darkness.

“Kid, what are you doing?” Zedekiah asked.

“It’s a curse,” I said. “Better get a contamination team down here before it gets away.”

Zedekiah swore. “Kid, we’ve got big problems.”

Check out Zeek’s Next Mission HERE!

Did you miss the beginning of Zeek’s story? Click HERE and start from the top!


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The Decker Family Collection is Here!

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I wrote the Decker Family books under my pen name, Karly Stratford. They released from last November to this March. I’ve finally made a box set out of them!

This collection includes five fun and flirtatious, full-length, sweet and clean romance novels.

They may not know it, but even a football player, a special ops pilot, a movie star, a YouTube sensation, and a billionaire are in danger of falling for the sassy women who will love them!

Book 1: His Mortal Enemy Second Chance Bachelorette
Flint’s an all-star running back. Brenna’s a big-city lawyer. They’ve been rivals since kindergarten. When they find out that the church from their childhood is getting torn down, they join forces to save it, and in the process they just might save each other.

Book 2: His First Love Second Chance Bachelorette
Brad’s an injured special ops pilot. Morgan is his physical therapist. They’d dated in high school. She won’t marry a soldier, and that’s all Brad’s ever wanted to be. Now they both must decide if their love for one another can bridge that gap, or if there is an alternate solution.

Book 3: His Movie Star Second Chance Bachelorette
Preston is one of the best stuntmen in Hollywood. His ex, actress Anna Jordan, is taking the world by storm. She knew she wasn’t good enough for him, but when a film she’s producing falls apart, she goes to Preston for help. The quest to save the film turns into a second chance, but will they take it before it slips through their fingers?

Book 4: Her British Billionaire Second Chance Bachelor
Chloe almost called Oliver before coming to London, but she figured a billionaire wouldn’t have time for a girl who’d never been brave enough to tell him how she felt. When he comes to see her she vows to do anything to spend time with him, even be his pretend girlfriend. Can she gather her courage and confess her feelings, or will they part again as friends?

Book 5: His Body Guard Second Chance Bachelorette
Is loathing at first sight a thing? Cody doesn’t have time for a body guard, despite threats from fans. Mia would rather guard a crocodile than Cody Decker. All of Cody’s attempts to ditch Mia fail, leaving him impressed and intrigued. When Mia’s past comes back to haunt her, a storm threatens to tear them apart. Only their determination will save their relationship.

Get your copy today!


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