Bouncing Toward Ignominy
Midlife Muddle Book 3
I was finally going to be able to stay on Earth to do a job. Joy of joys. No endless water dimension. No realm filled with slavering monsters. No dimension with deadly winds. It was going to be a piece of cake. Yep. I’m an idiot.
Ghouls. I was ready for them. Or so I thought. Justice and I had been working hard on my magical skills. The borders between dimensions had been quiet for almost a month. And I’d even managed to work my regular part-time gig at The Muddle, helping my best friend keep the human-type boogies at bay. But alas, the sanity was destined to end. And so was my naïve notion that working within my own dimension for a change was going to be familiar and easy. I’m such a putz. But then, what would you expect from a traveler who doesn’t know how to travel?
"First book of this series that I've read and all I can say is wow! Action packed, feisty characters full of energy and so, so much more. Even though I haven't read the previous books, it was easy to follow the story and who's who. Great book!"
More from this series
Praise for Bouncing Toward Ignominy
Emily Pennington - Booksprout Review
"This author’s writing style will captivate the reader right from the start. She paints her scenes with magic words to put the reader into the middle of the action as a participant. The descriptions are clear and make the incredible seem real. With strong characters and a fast-paced storyline, grab on before you start reading, because it is not going to slow down until the end!"
Thomas P. Book Reviews
Rae is trying to enjoy a quiet dinner with friends when she is summoned for another case. The Ghoul King has breached the dimensional border and is building an army of ghouls to take over Terra. Bouncing Toward Ignominy is the third book in the Midlife Muddle series. It's fast paced, has developed characters, a strong plot line, and a good dose of humor.
Read an Excerpt
Stop Trying to Bury That Arm
“What’s wrong with your face?”
I skimmed a quick look toward my best friend, wondering what had given me away. “Am I grimacing? You know I’m staring across the table at my least favorite beta male, right?”
Said beta male scratched his nose with a decidedly unfriendly finger. “Don’t blame me because you look like you have shingles,” Rog said. He pursed his full lips, narrowing his brown eyes on me. “Maybe you should get on a good antibiotic. People your age can’t be too careful.”
I fixed a hostile green gaze on my nemesis and said, “First of all, aren’t you just seven years younger than I am? You’re hiding more silver in that hair than a whole fleet of pirate ships. And secondly, I don’t need antibiotics.” What I did need was the ability to succeed and impress my favorite guide. Justice had been testing me over the last week to see how long I could delay a bounce without losing control of it. It only counted if, when I decided to accept the summons, I didn’t flail and slam into the bounce at the end. I was on the razor edge of holding it for too long and I knew it. Unfortunately, Rog had basically dared me to give in and…well…let’s just say that I’d rather eat a pile of raw seaweed than let him win.
Molly smoothed her glossy brown hair, which was below shoulder length and currently pulled back in a flawless ponytail. She narrowed a disgusted hazel gaze on me. “You’re getting weirder by the day.”
I barked out a laugh. “Says the woman who’s been hanging out with a commitment-challenged traveler-guide named Juggler.”
Molly’s perfectly painted lips quirked in the corners. Seeing the potential for romantic sharing in the action, Rog and I sat forward in eager anticipation. But my best friend was no piker. She knew we wanted the deets on her and Juggler’s relationship. Which was why she’d rather share that plate of bitter seaweed than tell us.
An irritated face suddenly filled the space between Rog and me. A face with sharp, chiseled features and deep-set sapphire eyes that were framed with impossibly thick lashes. I jumped slightly. “Traveler Kitt?” The voice held a challenge and more than a little impatience.
I pretended not to see Justice’s delicious face, lifting my iced tea and sipping daintily. A huge, black paw emerged from the bubble in space and time and smacked my glass. It flew sideways, spreading amber liquid across the tiled floor and nearby diners.
Glass shattered in the aisle and I covered my head as determined drops of flying tea shot toward my short auburn cap of curls.
All eyes slid my way as I tried to sink into my seat cushion.
Justice and Elvo disappeared, dang their souls, and Molly leaped up, brandishing a linen napkin on her pale, pink suit. “What in the world is wrong with you?!” she squealed. “This suit is one of my best sellers.”
What that had to do with my dribbling tea over it I’d probably never know. “Sorry, Mols. Justice is getting impatient.”
She stopped dabbing at her suit amid annoyed grumbles coming from the table I’d doused, and lifted her perfectly manicured mahogany brows. “Justice is here?” She glanced around the elegant café as I mouthed, Sorry, to the people at the next table.
“Not here, here.” I said, sounding like a drooling fool.
She stared at me another beat and then said, “Ah.”
“Ah?” Rog squeaked in an unmanly way. “What exactly does Ah mean?”
“A statement of understanding,” I told him, dabbing at tea on the tablecloth. “An expression of comprehension.”
Rog scratched his nose again with the rude finger. “You guys are getting too weird for me,” he groused. “It’s embarrassing being seen with you.”
I gave him a quick grin. “Good. Then you can leave and never accompany us again.”
Something tugged hard on the front of my blouse. I jolted into silence, blinking rapidly.
A circular orb with visible stitches shot toward my face and I ducked. The projectile dissipated into nothing before hitting me. I growled.
“Maybe you have an infected chin hair,” Rog said as he picked up a ketchup-drenched fry and nibbled it.
A second baseball missed braining me by centimeters. I spent the next few seconds dodging and dipping sideways in my seat. Backward, forward, to the left, down and to the right…the projectiles had amazing range for something coming through dimensional walls. I finally caught a particularly powerfully thrown ball in my right hand, wincing as it made contact with my palm before dissipating.
Molly lowered her voice, dipping her head and eyeing me from beneath a thick arc of lashes as if that would keep anyone from noticing that her mouth was moving. “Rae, you’re acting like a crazy person.”
I sighed. “Okay. I need to go to the Ladies.” I stood up, glaring at Rog when he laughed. “I’ll see you at the store in a couple of hours.”
Molly’s slender shoulders relaxed and she winked. “Give Justice my love.”
I threw my napkin on the table. “I’m not doing that.”
“Why not?” She actually sounded hurt.
“Because if he has your love, he won’t need mine. Yours is much better.”
She laughed. “Go get him, tiger.”
Rog made a gagging sound, so I introduced him to my little friend at the center of my left hand. “Hasta le vista, baby.”
The world wrenched sideways. Oh, oh. It twisted clockwise and then jerked back the other way. It was all I could do to make it to the Ladies’ room before the bounce jerked me right out of the restaurant.
As it was, I was dancing and jerking like a marionette on a string with too many knots in it.
I landed on the pitch, just in time to scream and dive sideways to avoid being clocked by a baseball. I hit the orange dirt…what was up with the orange dirt?...and skidded several feet before slamming to a stop in a cloud of dust.
“Safe!” Justice yelled from the mound. He straightened from a pitcher’s stance, his long form loose and agile.
I glared at him, trying not to notice how yummy he looked. Sitting up, I brushed at the weird dust coating me. “Very funny.”
My guide strode over, looking all yummy and hot, and offered me a hand. “Good staying power.”
I took his hand and nearly flew to my feet. The man was wicked strong. “Thanks.”
“Too bad you lost it in the end.” He tucked a strand of wavy light brown hair behind his ear, the sun-kissed strand having escaped a careless pony at the back of his muscular neck.
All in all, my guide was a yummy specimen of a man. A fact that I’d had only limited success trying to ignore.
“You didn’t need to be so impatient. I was handling it.”
Justice threw the baseball into the air and caught it without looking. “It wasn’t me. We have a case.”
My eyes widened. “A case?” Glancing around, I noted the giant Hellhound mix that was currently digging a hole to China in the outfield. Some poor sucker was going to drop like a rock trying to stop a home run. “Here?”
“On Terro, yes.” Justice followed my gaze and sighed. “Elvo! Don’t bury that arm there.”
The shaggy, black hound lifted his head and tilted it in question.
My guide inhaled deeply, releasing the air in a gust. “Don’t ask. It’s not a pretty story.”
I opened my mouth, hesitated, then closed it again. Nope. I wasn’t going there. “What’s the case about?” I had a sudden thought and winced. “Please tell me it’s not more of those giant rat guys.”
He dropped an arm around my shoulders, tugging me toward Elvo, who was trying to shove something long and pale into the hole he’d made.
“Elvo!” Justice yelled again. The dog dropped his treasure, glanced our way, hesitated, and then seemed to give a shrug and trotted toward us, tail wagging and tongue flapping around his shaggy face. I braced for arm-flavored dog kisses. My hands flying out in front of me, I shook my head. “No thanks. I don’t need dead arm cooties right now. But thanks for the thought.”
The hound dropped to his wide haunches, cocking his head again, and whined as if I’d insulted his best friend.
That was okay. He could whine. “I really should probably ask about the arm.”
Justice shook his head. “Don’t worry about the arm. We’ve got a real mess to clean up here.”
Glancing around, I frowned. “I don’t see any mess.”
Justice frowned too. “Oh. I forgot. Here…” He flipped a hand and everything changed. I gasped, stumbling backward. “What?”
“I cloaked it so nobody could see the mess.”
My heels hit something dense and kind of squishy. I jerked away with a squeal and hit something else that was even squishier. I ping-ponged away on a scream and nearly went down in a pile of body parts, some of which had gone well past their freshness date. Justice caught me before I fell and Elvo bounced happily, barking as I tried to climb my partner to keep from touching anything.
Grunting, Justice shifted his weight to hold me over one shoulder in a combination drunk girl transport of shame and pseudo fireman’s carry. “This isn’t very manly behavior,” he ground out, obvious strain in his sexy voice as he struggled to hold me in the awkward clutch.
“Why are there millions of slimy body parts all over this field?”
“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said, trying to shift me into a more comfortable position. For him. Not me. The new position put one of his firmly muscled shoulders squarely into my gut. “But I’m guessing it might have something to do with the chomp of ghouls that escaped Igne last night.”
I tried to shift to move his pointy shoulder out of my stomach, nearly taking us both down to the part-strewn ground in the process. “A chomp of ghouls?”
He grinned. “As far as I know there isn’t a term for a group of the things. So, I made one up.”
“I’m putting you down now, Rae.”
“No!” I clutched desperately at him, managing to nearly strangle him in an attempt to keep from being set back onto my feet.
He grunted. “Man up, Traveler, or I’m just going to drop you and your landing won’t be fun.”
Ugh! “Okay, okay.” I grimaced down at my pretty red sneakers. They were brand new. “Can I borrow your boots?”
He eyed my sneakers and gave me a flat look. “You want me to give you my boots? Then what do I wear?”
“You’d look really good in red.”
“I don’t do pink, polka-dotted bows, Traveler.”
“But these are brand new,” I whined.
Elvo cocked his head and glanced at my sneakers. Before I knew what he was doing, he’d lumbered over and licked them from toe to heel, coating my pretty new shoes in dog spit tinged with something I didn’t want to identify.
“There,” Justice said. “They’re already ruined. You might as well trudge through some body parts in them.”
I growled a little. “Retirement was supposed to be fun and easy and dog-spit free.”
“Good thing you’re not retired then,” my guide said, sliding me to the ground. “That sounds really boring.”
“Whoof!” agreed Elvo.