Sunday, February 27, 2011

What does Valentine's Day mean to you?

NOTE-- I will announce the contest winner HERE tomorrow -- MONDAY -- after NOON Mountain time. Comments welcome until then.

I ask that question as I sit with a huge heart shaped box of Valentine's Day candy that I ate WAY WAY too much of. This year, me and my honey, were so busy to enjoy Valentine's Day. He had class until late and we blinked and it was gone. So two days later, at midnight, we hit several stores and bought 50% off candy to pig out on. Not the most romantic Valentine's Day, but a half price yummy one. So the answer to the question -- what does Valentine's Day mean to me? -- this year -- half price chocolate.

Today -- instead of a first kiss excerpt -- I'm going to share a first meeting excerpt from LEGEND OF MICHAEL and I'm going to give out the very first ARC I've given out to anyone! How do you win? Just tell me what you did for Valentines' Day.





EXCERPT from LEGEND OF MICHAEL -- MAY 2011:


Nevada’s AREA 51 was not only the subject of government conspiracy theories; it was now, officially, her new home. A good hour before sunrise, Cassandra Powell pulled into the military parking lot outside the launch pad leading to the top-secret underground facilities where the launch of the Project Zodius GTECH Super Soldier Program was a year under way. The ride from her new on-base housing had been a whopping three minutes, which considering the inhuman hours the military favored, she could deal with. The simplicity of a standard green army skirt and jacket—required despite her contract status—seemed to be working for her as well. The cardboard bed, not so much. It had, however, made a great desk for her laptop and all-night reading.

And considering she was only three days on the job—taking over for the former head of clinical psychology who’d transferred to another department—she had plenty of work to do. The prior department head hadn’t done one fourth of the studies that Cassandra deemed critical to properly evaluate these soldiers. And while the counseling aspect fell outside her clinical role, she wasn’t pleased with what was being offered. She’d certainly be nudging her way into that territory.

Files in hand, she exited her red Volkswagen Beetle, and pushed the door shut with a flick of her hip. She walked all of two steps when the wind whipped into high gear, fluttering her suit jacket at her hips and tearing to pieces the blonde knot tied at her nape.

She shoved at the loose locks of hair and drew to a shocked halt, blinking in disbelief as four men dressed in black fatigues materialized in a rush of hot August wind at the other side of the long parking lot next to the elevator. She drew a breath and forced it out, trying to calm the thunder of her heart pounding her chest. Apparently she wasn’t quite as prepared for the phenomenon of GTECH Super Soldiers as she’d thought she was. Or at least not this thing her piles of paperwork referred to as “wind-walking.” It was one thing to be inhumanly strong and fast, even to be immune to human disease, but to be able to travel with the wind was downright spooky—and suddenly, so was the dark parking lot as the four men disappeared into the elevator.

Eager to get inside, Cassandra started walking, but made it all of two steps before another man appeared beside the elevator, this time with no wind as warning. Good grief, she hadn’t read about that stealthy little trick yet. Special Forces soldiers were already called lethal weapons, but these men, this one in particular, were taking it to a whole new level.

Still a good distance away from the building, Cassandra slowed her pace, hoping to go unnoticed, but she wasn’t so lucky. The soldier punched the elevator button and then turned and waved her forward. Oh no. No. No. Not ready to meet anyone yet. Not until she had a few of her ducks in a row. Cassandra quickly juggled her files and snagged her cell from her purse as an excuse to decline joining him, holding it up, and waving him off. He hesitated a few moments as the doors opened before he finally stepped inside and disappeared.

Cassandra started walking instantly, determined to get to the darned elevator before another soldier appeared. By the time she was inside, she had her file on wind-walking open—a good distraction from the entire underground, bomb-shelter-style workplace that made her more than a little uneasy.

Absorbed in her reading, head down, Cassandra darted out of the elevator the instant it opened, only to run smack into a rock-hard chest. She gasped, paperwork flew everywhere, and strong hands slid around her arms, steadying her from a fall. It was then that she looked up to find herself staring into the most gorgeous pair of crystal blue eyes she’d ever seen in her life.

She swallowed hard and noticed his long raven hair tied at the back of his neck, rather than the standard buzz cut—a sure indicator he was Special Ops. He could be one of the two hundred GTECH soldiers stationed at the base. A Wind-walker, she thought, still in awe of what she’d seen above ground.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was…” She lost the final word, her mouth dry as she suddenly realized her legs were pressed intimately to his desert fatigues, and her conservative, military-issue skirt had managed to work its way halfway up her thigh. “Oh!”

She quickly took a step backwards, righting her skirt in a flurry of panicked movement. Three days on the job, and already she was putting on a show. She pressed her hand to her forehead. “I know better than to read while walking. I hope I didn’t hurt you.” He arched a dark brow as her gaze swept all six-foot-plus of incredibly hot man, all lethal muscle and mayhem, and knew that was unlikely. She laughed at the ridiculous statement, feeling uncharacteristically nervous. She was five four in her bare feet—well, on her tip toes—and she bet this man towered over her by nearly a foot. “Okay. I didn’t hurt you. But, well, I’m still sorry.”

He stared down at her, his gaze steady, unblinking, the chiseled lines of high cheekbones and a square jaw, expressionless. Except deep in those strikingly blue eyes, she saw a tiny flicker of what she thought was amusement. “I’m not sorry,” he said, bending down to pick up her files.

She blinked at the odd response, tilting her head and then bending down to face him. “What do you mean?” she asked, a lock of her blonde hair falling haphazardly across her brow, free from the clip that was supposed to be holding it in place. “You’re not sorry?”

He gathered the last of her files, then said, “I’m not sorry you ran into me. Have coffee with me.”

It wasn’t a question. In fact, it almost bordered on an order. And damn, if she didn’t like the way he gave that near order. Her heart fluttered at the unexpected invitation. “I don’t know if that is appropriate,” she said, thinking of her new position. She stalled. “I don’t even know your name.”

The elevator behind them dinged open, and Kelly Peterson, assistant director of science and medicine for Project Zodius, appeared. “You’re early, Cassandra,” she said, amusement lifting her tone. “Morning, Michael.” She continued on her way, as if she found nothing significant, or abnormal, about Cassandra being sprawled across the hallway floor with a hot soldier by her side.

Cassandra popped to her feet, appalled she’d made such a spectacle of herself. Her sexy Special Ops soldier followed. “Now you know my name,” he said, and this time, his firm, way-too-tempting mouth hinted at a lift. Not a smile, a lift. God… it was sexy. “Michael Taylor.”

“Cassandra,” she said, unable to say the last name, dreading it more with this man than with the many others she’d been introduced to in the past few days. What was she supposed to say? Hi. I’m the daughter of the man who changed your life forever by injecting you with alien DNA without telling you first, and then claimed it was to save you from an enemy biological threat? Now you’re a GTECH Super Soldier for what we think is the rest of your life, but who knows what that really means long-term for you. But hey, I promise I’m one of the good guys, here to ensure you aren’t used and abused just because you’re a macho, kickass, secret government weapon? And did I mention I’m nothing like my father?

“Cassandra Powell,” he said, handing her the files, leaning close, the warmth of his body blanketing her in sizzling awareness. “I know who you are. And no, that doesn’t scare me away. I never run away from anything I want.” He leaned back, fixing her in another one of those dreamy blue stares. “So how about that coffee?”

She nearly swallowed her tongue at his directness, but, a true general’s daughter, she managed to recover quickly, remembering her duty in a painfully responsible fashion. “I… don’t think that’s a good idea.”

He studied her a moment before stepping into the now open elevator doors. “I’ll ask again,” he said as he turned to face her. She found herself lost in those addictive crystal blue eyes—eyes that had promised nothing, but somehow, promised everything—until the steel doors shut between them.

Cassandra inhaled, the scent of him still lingering in the air, and she bit her bottom lip. Too bad she’d sworn off soldiers years ago, because he was one heck of a man. Oh yeah, he was. But she’d seen her mother fret and worry over a man who was gone too often and might never return, right up to the day she’d died two years before, and Cassandra already had her father to worry about. So why was she wondering when he would “ask again”?

51 comments:

  1. My Valentines Day consisted of working and being fully booked doing 3 couples massages (it looked like a good day), well my 3rd client was sick so she canceled, my 2nd client had canceled for some reason my 1st couples massage was a no show, so I sat waiting for 3.5 hours making no money (I only get payed if I work). I went from a full 5 clients to 2 end of the day clients, it sucked. The only thing that made up for it was my husband had dinner waiting for me when I got home :) I like those small thoughtful things when it come to valentines day, no big pricey dinners, jewelry or flowers. Just time together, that is all I want

    ebertkristina@gmail.com

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  2. My partner is currently away for work overseas, and it pained me being away from him on Valentines Day this year.
    And as a tradition, I always paint him a picture, yet I couldn't send it across to him because of his constant moving.
    It was pretty lonely day, until I was finally able to Skype with him and discover he'd not only bought me an advanced copy of one of my favorite author's new books, but also had it signed while he was on tour in the UK. I have never smiled so much, and will never forget my partners face when I showed him his new painting.

    forwardmarch4odin@gmail.com

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  3. Wish I'd done something exciting but since there's no man in my life right now, I stayed home, had dinner with family. Not what you'd wish for Valentine's Day but nice anyway!

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  4. Valentine's day was just like any other day. We didn't get to celebrate since we were both so busy.

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  5. I come from a family of candy lovers. It's genetic. Mom and I used to hit the half-price candy bins after every holiday. Sugar freaks : )

    These were my thoughts for Valentine's Day this year: To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I plan to bake a pan of my best brownies, turn the pages of some very lovely romance reads, and think about love and all its embodiments and implications. Love makes the world go around. It makes fools out of grown men, and makes women who should know better act like school girls with their first crush. Love brings light to dark corners, sunshine to cloudy days, and a joyful heart when least expected. It gives hope when all hope was thought to be lost. People who love and are loved in return live longer, smile more often, and generally make the world a better place. Whether you are enjoying the first blush of a new romance or the golden glow of a lifelong love, I wish you the happiest Valentine’s day ever! If you are without your loved one, no matter what the reason, then I wish you peace in your remembrance.

    I also thought about the love of my life, with whom I had no "HEA". You always think about the love of your life on Valentine's Day ; )

    US Resident, GFC Follower, Subscriber

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

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  6. this year for Valentine's Day, we had tickets to see the UCONN women's game. We went to that and saw a wonderful game, and had a great dinner, popcorn. It suited me just fine.
    debby236 at att dot net

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  7. This year and years before, valentine day is like a usual day for me, because I have a long distant relationship with my boyfriend. I'm so sad about that, because this year, it's the third time we don't celebrate valentine day. Valentine day for me it's time to be together with my boyfriend, maybe it's just a usual date, but in valentine, it will be special, because we will talk a lot about relationship, go to a new place and then give a gift to each other.
    I hope next year, we will celebrate valentine again.

    sawamura_foxman@yahoo.com

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  8. Sad to say mine was very boring. Bought candy in for coworkeres, talked to my mom and that was pretty much it. No honey in my life except for my cat. Sob

    Judy F

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  9. Gorgeous cover. Intriguing excerpt. I wanted more when I reached the end so come on May!

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  10. I.Loved.This.Excerpt.
    This book is going directly to the top of my TBR pile! I can see I'm going to have another series to be addicted to.

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  11. St. Valentine's day to me is another day, I come home from work , eat, exercise, sleep, eat sleep and back into work. I always promise myself NEXT Year I'll have a honey to share it (and the chocolate) with.

    Mindy :)

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  12. my valentine's day was me cuddling with my cute kitten while reading romance novels. then going out with my singles family members for pizza and watch a tragic romance movie [titanic].

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  13. oops forgot email sorry...

    quimbayai@hotmail.com

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  14. my valentine's day was me cuddling with my cute kitten while reading romance novels. then going out to eat pizza with my family [all of whom were single] and watch a tragic romance movie [titanic].

    quimbayai@hotmail.com

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  15. My son sent me a dozen roses to work. I LOVED them! And my daughter called to say she got engaged. So my Valentine's was truly special. A day spent enjoying all kinds of treats co-workers all bought for the occasion.

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  16. On Valentine's Day my husband and I had a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant and then we stayed in a hotel suite. He had picked up a lovely flower arrangement and it was waiting in the suite living room!

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  17. This valentine's day was pretty sedate (dinner and a movie while my mom kept the kiddos), but it was perfect. With my husband being in the military we seem to spend more of them apart than together. Sedate works just fine :)

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  18. Legend of Michael is on my radar! I'll be looking for it in May!

    My hubby was out of town for Valentine's Day, so it was just me and my two little valentines. We had a picnic in the family room and watched a movie.

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  19. My Valentines Day was boring...no boyfriend so pretty much went to work and then came home. When I got home though, it did pick up...I was talking with my parents and didn't even notice the bouquet of Valentines Day balloons that they had for me...it was a surprise treat and they also got me my favorite turtle brownies...my parents saved the day:)

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  20. I had to work on Valentine's day and don't have a sweetie to share it with either. But a co-worker's husband thought of all of us. He brought us a still warm from the oven pound cake he baked himself and a rose for each person working! I think that is the sweetest Valentine's I've ever had.

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  21. Since Valentines Day was a Monday and my husband works nights we did not do much. We said I love you and he went to sleep so he could work that night.LOL We have been married for 37 years.I don't think we need much more than that.
    Debby C

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  23. Fabulous first meeting. I demand the first kiss scene!

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  24. This Valentines Day was just a typical day this year. I drove my daughter to school in the morning, did some household things during the day, and picked her up from school. No fancy dinner, not even an exchange of "happy valentines day". Not sure if we just didn't think about it or forgot. The day is much better when you have someone special to share it with.

    wackyheadcase@gmail.com

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  25. My Valentine's Day was spent with 2 classes of special education preschoolers hopped up on sugar! They were as happy with a little paper valentine as they were with the cupcakes at snacktime!
    I went home exhausted! :)

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  26. i cleaned and chased the kids while hubby watched tv
    meandi09@yahoo.com

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  27. After 41 years, hubby isn't so romantic anymore - in fact, I got an electric can opener. He had planned on getting one anyway since mine broke and so he figured why not lol. I got him lottery tickets which is a touch better lol.

    Loved the excerpt!

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  28. We don't make a big deal of Valentine's Day, but it is a reminder of how lucky I am to have a valentine. So many people are lonely, just aching to find someone to love. It's very easy to take what we have for granted. So I think for me, Valentine's Day isn't cards or flowers, but a reminder of how blessed I am.

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  29. I gave my husband a Kindle for Valentine's Day. I loaded it with a couple books I knew he wanted to read and he was thrilled. I also made him a nice dinner (roast chicken with mashed potatoes, his favorite.) He gave me an Amazon gift certificate so I could buy books for MY Kindle and a video game I wanted. It was a great day.

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  30. Valentine's Day was spent just me and the kids this year. Hubby was on a business trip. Ate chocolate and laughed over cards they had received from school.

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  31. I had a very quiet Valentine's Day. I'm a widow, so I spent my day reading. I also played some online. I was alone. These kind of days are ones that I use to remember things that my husband and I shared while he was here. Good memories.

    qladyhawke at gmail dot com

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  32. I picked through a box of chocolates with one hand while reading a book with the other. My only male companion was an alien prince who was in love with another woman.

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  33. Great excerpt, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing! OH, and I loved that Valentines means half-priced chocolate. :}

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  34. Wow! I hope this book comes out on Kindle the same day it's released in print. I love the set up! Count me a fan.

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  35. Well, I treated myself the same way you did, made good with the half off chocolate sales! Though I did make my sister heart-shaped brownies baked in a cookie cutter :D They turned out well, if I do say so myself.

    Awesome tension in your excerpt! Thanks for sharing it and the contest!!

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  36. Hot stuff, Lisa! Looking forward to reading it!

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  37. Thanks to everyone who said nice things about the excerpt!:) Very excited about Michael releasing.

    Kristina --I so agree about the simple time together. So glad you had that to end a bad day.

    Emm-- ahhhhh! That is the sweetest story. You made me smile.

    Lighthouse Sandy -- cute name!

    maldivianbookreviewer -- Monday was a bad day for it to fall on this year for sure. It's our busiest day of the week. DH is in class until almost 9 Mondays.

    Virgina-- what a lovely post. You are right-- VDAY is about love and your way of looking at it makes me smile. And apparently DH and I come from the same line of candy lovers as you:)


    Debby -- game and popcorn for dinner sounds fun! But I hope you followed it with at least a little candy.

    Renanda -- I am so sorry you have to be apart from that special someone for Valentines. But its wonderful that you are able to keep things strong from a distance. I hope you can be together next year.

    Judi - a good cat is better than a bad man lol:)

    Carolyn and Sara -- THANK YOU !!!!

    Mindy -- I go back to a good cat is better than a bad man:)

    Ah Terry what a great day. Roses from you son and your daughter got engaged. Two VERY special things. And how sweet of your son!

    Stacie -- sounds wonderful!

    Anna-- So glad he was home for Valentines. I'm sure that felt like a treat.

    Cindy-- Thanks on Michael and a picnic with the little ones sounds so cute and fun.

    Maria--It sounds like you have awesome parents....and turtle brownies!

    Karen-- what a sweetheart that co-workers hubby is. Wow. That is something!

    Debb 37 years is amazing. Absolutely amazing!

    Olivia Thank you!

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  38. Mine and hubby's Valentines Day consisted of working. And I had a meeting that evening so actually we didn't do anything special on the actual day. We did go out to dinner the day before.

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  39. I am really looking forward to this one coming out. :-)

    As for what we did on Valentine's Day just had a very nice dinner at home and watched a movie. :-)

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  40. StacieDM -- Sounds so romantic. Staying at a hotel gives that honeymoon feeling that is so very cool!


    Jacki-- hats off to you for doing such a special job. My DH's Dad teaches Special ED. My son has ADD. It was a very special teacher that helped him get a grip on how to learn with it. So thank you for what you do!

    Jennifer-- sometimes romance just has to wait -- and kids of little Valentines fun things to do that can be so cool as a parent.

    Linda -- So glad you have those memories though I imagine a good book is a good way to escape too. I need that sometimes. I love books because they let that happen.

    Catslady! 41 years YAY!! We have a 37 year marriage and a 41 year marriage here today. That is special!

    Annette -- you are right. It's easy to forget how lucky we are.

    Cynthya -- A Kindle is an awesome gift. So nice he likes to read too. My DH is a huge reader which I love.

    Stephanie thank you on the excerpt.

    Waving to my Dangerous Women -- lrwirum and fcammer2- they are members of a little yahoo group I am a part of where we talk books, life, and whatever else comes up.

    I hope I replied to everyone. I SO enjoyed reading everyone's stories!

    And thank you everyone who left a positive comment about the excerpt!

    I'll announce the winner around noon tomorrow:) Mountain time. I'm behind most of the rest of the world here in Colorado:(

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  41. Lisa, great to see the first soon for your spinoff series.

    This year stayed home for VD, quiet and relaxed reading a book, had a litte chocolate. I stocked up on more after the holiday, got mine 75% off, so got extra. lol

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  42. Hi Lisa - many congrats on the new book. We had a simple day. Came home from work, worked out together and made a nice dinner together. Together being the important thing for us.

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  43. Valentine's Day was a day like any other - I had to work and in the evening I went to the cinema...
    greetings, Melanie

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  44. My Valentines day was like any other day. I had to cook, clean and do a little of everything. I know most people go out to eat on that day but not my husband, he want those home cooked meals.

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  45. Hi to Caridad, one of the Dangerous authors, and Pam one of the Dangerous readers:) Thanks for stopping by ladies!

    Virgina we never go out to eat -- I can't stand the crowds.

    Melanie -- LOVE the movies. Favorite date night!

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  46. Valentine's day... is pink, red and white... Really it is just like any other day.... But I like getting presents so I am good with it...
    Thanks for a chance to win..

    Kelly M
    crazybookfairy(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  47. Welcome Kelly!
    Pink red and gifts -- all good things:)

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  48. Trying to post winner but blogger keeps saying my cookies are blocked when I go into the panel. So I'm posting the winner here for now --- MINDY! Email me your address at lisarenjones@aol.com

    And thanks everyone who stopped by!

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  49. Love the excerpt - made me sigh because you could just feel the sexual tension already!

    We celebrated by eating at Carrabba's earlier in the week to avoid the crowds! Then he surprised me with a BN gift card because we normally don't buy gifts for VD.

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  50. Lisa Thank you so much -- and that is one of my FAVORITE restaurants! SO good. The food and that delicious chocolate dessert they have.

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  51. Great excerpt, Lisa! I missed the give away, but wanted to thank you for sharing!

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