Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

Michael Rannigan is running rogue.

Since Maggie’s abrupt departure from the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny, he’s been in a tailspin. As he limps along in the new normal, he misses her more than he ever imagined.

Maggie misses Michael as well. But she makes the best of her new job at the District Attorney’s office. Occasionally they cross paths in court, each assessing the other. Like Michael, she finds herself making questionable personal choices.

When opportunity knocks for Michael, he leaps at it, maybe as much to avoid Maggie’s absence as anything else. The fact that his decision impacts everyone else at the firm doesn’t slow him down at all.

Then comes news that shakes him to his core.

Now that he’s burned all his bridges, who will be there to help him pick up the pieces?

RUNNING ROGUE is the must-read follow-up to Amazon #1 bestseller, RESISTING RISK. It’s the second of three novels in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy. In this scene, Michael seems to have some ulterior motives.

The next morning, Maggie got up early and hit the internet, researching the best foods for people on chemotherapy and compiling a list of things to look for at the organic market. She was surprised when Michael called.

“Hey, what’s up?” she greeted him. “I’m working on a shopping list for you.”

“Thanks, Mags,” he said. “But don’t go overboard with the organic shit, okay? I don’t know if I’ll eat all that anyway.”

“You have to eat; it might as well be healthy foods,” she returned. “Just try the things I get. You might even prefer them, free of all the artificial crap.”

“We’ll see,” he said doubtfully. “Listen, I want to thank Beau for all his help yesterday. We’re having him over for dinner tonight.”

Maggie frowned. We? “Tonight?” she asked. “Michael, I don’t know what I’m making for you yet. How am I supposed to pull together a nice dinner?”

“You’re not pulling together anything. I’ve already placed the order, it’ll be delivered by 6:00 tonight. I talked to Beau, he’s getting here at 7:00.”

Maggie couldn’t think of a response.

“Don’t you think we should thank him for everything he did yesterday?” Michael prodded.

“Well, of course I do,” Maggie sputtered. “But it’s just so…short notice.”

“I know, but luckily he’s working an early show today. You don’t have to worry about anything for dinner tonight; I’m making sure everything is taken care of. Truthfully,” he added, “dinner tonight is to thank you, too. You’ve been my rock from the get-go. I appreciate you, Mags.”

Maggie felt a lump forming in her throat. “You don’t have to thank me, Michael. It’s what friends do.”

“I’m still grateful,” he said. “So don’t worry about anything. Go on about your business of hooking me up with sprouts and wheat germ. Dinner is under control.”

She sighed. “Okay, Michael. I’ll see you when I finish shopping.”

“See you then,” he said. “Oh, and Mags? Wear something pretty.”

Wear something pretty. Seriously? Maggie frowned irritably as she disconnected. It’s not enough I’m hauling my cookies all over town to get you healthy food to eat. You’re throwing a last-minute dinner party at me and telling me how to dress? Some kind of nerve…

Even so, her thoughts went to her wardrobe. She began sliding her clothes back and forth on the bar in the closet. Humph…it’s supposed to be cold, might even snow. Wear something pretty. Gahhhh!

Two hours later, Maggie returned to her apartment, having purchased three bags of organic food and two dozen plastic containers with lids.

No way am I carrying all this uptown on the subway, she decided. Especially not while I’m wearing something ‘pretty’. She had no idea why Michael’s comment chapped her butt so much, but it did.

She spent the next couple of hours putting together single-serving portions of organic kale salads with red and yellow peppers, spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, and poached salmon with carrots and broccoli. These she stacked in their sealed containers in one of the shopping bags. In another bag, she put her other purchases like the organic peanut butter, green tea, and lentil soup. She decided that just before she left, she’d pack the third bag with the organic Greek yogurt she’d found.

Then she headed off to shower and get dressed. Glancing out the window, she saw the sky filled with heavy grey clouds. “Great,” she said aloud. “Ten bucks says it snows before I get back home tonight.”

Dressed and ready to leave, Maggie stopped to check her image in the full-length mirror on the back of her bedroom door. She’d chosen a long heather grey sweater over a short silver sequin skirt with black opaque tights and black ankle booties with heels. The neckline of the sweater was wide, revealing her collarbone and the thin straps of her grey camisole. At the ends of the long sleeves, the cuffs rolled a little around her wrists.

Turning this way and that, she decided she liked the way the sweater clung to her curves. Her red hair she’d left down, sort of tousled and free, and it brushed past her shoulders. “Humph! You wanted pretty. This is about as good as it gets.”

Shrugging into her coat, she scooped up her shopping bags and headed out front to meet the cab she’d ordered.

When she arrived at Michael’s, he greeted her at the door wearing a black t-shirt with grey sweatpants. He gave a low whistle. “Very nice, Mags,” he commented.

She rolled her eyes. “Pretty enough for you?” she snipped, looking him up and down. “Is that what you’re wearing?”

He grinned. “Company isn’t coming for a couple of hours. I’ll change later.”

Company, Maggie thought. You mean Bobby.

In all her irritation with Michael, she’d almost forgotten that they’d be having dinner with Bobby. Her mind flashed to her image in the mirror. Maybe dressing pretty wasn’t such a bad idea.

Not that I’m trying to impress him, she considered. She flushed slightly. Michael watched her carefully.

“Come let me show you everything I brought you,” Maggie told him.

The delivery from Ithaka, a Greek place down the block, arrived promptly at 6:00. Maggie put the Kota Stakarvouna, sealed with foil, in the warming oven to keep the chicken at the correct temperature. The house salad and Garides Psites she placed in the fridge, planning to reheat the shrimp for them to enjoy as an appetizer.

Finished in the kitchen, she headed into the living room to relax for a few minutes and was surprised to find that Michael had been busy arranging a table in the solarium with crisp black table linens and three white place settings. Smooth jazz quietly filtered through an unobtrusive sound system. He’d put candles on the table and strung tiny white lights among the greenery out on the terrace.

“Michael, this looks beautiful.”

He smiled proudly. “Like I said, this dinner is to thank you, too.”

Maggie hugged him gently. “How are you feeling?”

“Truthfully, I’m a little tired,” he answered. “I think I’ll go lie down for a while.”

Alarmed, she checked her watch. “Bobby will be here in half an hour.”

“Just give me a few minutes,” he said over his shoulder as he headed down the hall toward his room.

Maggie set the alarm on her phone for 6:55, and when it sounded, she went to wake Michael. “Come on, you’ve got to get up. He’ll be here any minute.”

Michael groaned. “I’m really tired,” he mumbled. “Let me have a little longer.”

She heard a knock at the front door. “He’s here! Get up now!” she said, hurrying to answer the door.

Maggie swung open the door to find Bobby standing there, the boyish grin firmly in place. “Hi, Maggie,” he greeted her. “You look beautiful tonight.”

She blushed furiously. “Wow, that’s nice of you to say,” she murmured. “Come on in. You look nice yourself.”

And he did. He wore nicely fitting jeans, a white dress shirt, and a navy jacket. Her eyes drifted to his ass as he walked past her into the apartment, and she breathed in the masculine scent of his cologne. She shook her head, attempting to refocus.

“Thanks,” he said. He lifted a small shopping bag. “I brought some wine to contribute to the cause.”

“Great! Michael ordered from Ithaka. I have to admit, it smells heavenly,” she said. “Let me just…” she began. “Michael went to lie down. I’ll just go get him up and moving.”

“No problem. Can I pour you a glass of wine?” he asked.

“Yes, please, that would be great,” she answered. “There are glasses in the bar.” She pointed in that direction. “We’ll be right out.”

Maggie hurried down the hall. Michael was lying on his side, facing away from the door. “Sean Michael Rannigan!” she hissed. “You get your ass out of bed this instant!”

He rolled onto his back and faced her. “I’m staying put,” he yawned sleepily. “Go and enjoy. Bobby’s a good guy. You could use a nice dinner with a nice man.”

She gasped as realization dawned on her. “No way! You’re doing this on purpose?! Don’t you do this to me! Don’t you embarrass me like this!”

“What embarrass? Two adults having dinner. What’s so hard about that?” he asked reasonably. “I overextended myself today. I’ll stay here and rest. You’ll go and have a great evening with a great guy who likes you, by the way.”

Maggie stood staring at him wide-eyed.

“You’re leaving your guest unattended. That’s kind of rude, Mags.”

She nodded angrily. “This is so not the end of this conversation,” she said firmly, and she turned to leave.

“And Mags?” he called. “You’re welcome.”

RUNNING ROGUE by Pandora Spocks

RUNNING ROGUE, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 2,
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RunningRogue

Weekend Excerpt–JUST ONE NIGHT

Hot Caribbean days.
Even hotter nights.

Katie Parker is a woman on a mission. On a Caribbean cruise for her annual girlfriends’ getaway, she’s determined to forget about the man who betrayed her. All she wants is to find a man for just one night of anonymous, no-strings-attached passion.

Mac Coleman needs to get away. For now, that means accompanying his brothers on a cruise to Mexico for his younger brother’s wedding. After that, he’ll be changing jobs and cities, all to get away from his stalker ex-girlfriend.

When the pair meet on board the ship, the chemistry is instant.

Can Mac convince Katie that what they have deserves more than just one night?

In this teaser from JUST ONE NIGHT, Katie lets Mac know exactly what she’s looking for.

The pair parked themselves at a tiny table at the edge of the piano bar, the first place they’d come to in their search for a cocktail. Katie watched him as he approached the bar and ordered for them. She couldn’t get over how handsome he was, how he’d come outside looking for her. This was exactly what she needed to take her mind off of her man problems back home.

She smiled up at him as he returned to their table, carrying a margarita for her and a Scotch for himself. “Cheers,” he said, raising his glass to hers.

“Cheers,” she murmured in return, and she sipped gratefully, counting on the liquid courage her glass offered.

“You know, we’ve gone about this all backward.” He rested his drink on the table and offered his right hand. “My name is–“

“No! No names,” Katie quickly interrupted.

Mac blinked in surprise. “No names. Why no names?”

“Just…because,” she stammered. “No names, no personal information, we’ll just…keep it casual.”

“Keep it casual.” Mac frowned. “Okay.” He gave her a curious look. “Do you want me to leave?”

She shook her head, red curls swinging. “No, I’d like you to stay.”

He gave a relieved smile. “Good, because I’d like to stay. So…no personal information. Do you want to talk about work?”

“Oh, hell no!”

“Um, how about that weather? That’s some pretty great weather out there tonight.”

Katie laughed lightly. “I don’t mean to be a pain.”

Mac smiled back. “You’re not a pain, exactly. I just have to figure out the rules. And you’re here with three other women?”

“You could see that in the dining room. Where you were staring,” Katie observed.

“You know that because you were staring back,” he countered.

“And you’re here with two other men.”

Mac nodded. “My brothers. Oops! Was that personal?”

“Now you’re making fun.”

He smiled ruefully. “Maybe just a little bit. This is kind of a bachelor party. My kid brother is getting married.”

“A bachelor party?” Katie laughed lightly. “Shouldn’t you be getting back to the debauchery?”

Mac laughed. “Not much debauchery with those two. My older brother’s been married for years, and Tommy’s head over heels for his fiancée.” He glanced up at Katie. “Oops! More personal information.”

Katie sighed and sipped her drink. “My friends and I get together for a week every summer. We’ve known each other since high school.”

“There now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Katie nodded firmly. “We’re even, that’s all.” She rested her forearm on the table and toyed with her glass. Mac did the same, and his arm brushed against hers as he did. She made no effort to move away from him. He intentionally rested his arm against hers, noting the electric charge he felt, wondering if she felt it, too.

Glancing up, he saw that she was watching him intently. “So…you don’t want any personal information. You don’t want to talk about work. You don’t want me to leave.”

Katie shook her head.

“Okay, well, we’ve got that settled. What do you want?” He watched her expectantly.

She stared at her glass as she swirled the remainder of her margarita. Her buzz from the dinner wine combined with the icy cocktail made her feel bold. She looked back up at Mac.

“Do you really want to know what I want? I want just one night. Just one night of anonymous, no-holds-barred, red-hot, no-strings-attached sex. That’s what I want.” She fixed him with a challenging stare.

“Whoa,” he breathed, eyes wide.

Katie looked down at her glass again. “Too blunt?”

Mac leaned back in his chair, lips forming an O. “That was blunt, all right, but I can respect that. I’ve gotta ask, though.” He sought out her eyes. “Is there some guy at home waiting for you to come back?”

Katie shook her head. “I’m not cheating on anybody. You?”

He shook his head, too, and laughed humorlessly. “What was it you said earlier? Oh, hell no.”

She lightly stroked his arm as it rested on the table, delighting in the goose bumps that appeared there. Her gaze traveled from there to his lap, which seemed to be taking an interest in the proceedings if the growing mound there was any indication. She shifted her focus, sliding her gaze up his torso to those lips she’d noticed earlier. God, I just want to suck on that lower lip.

She met his eyes again, saw the fire there, and knew it matched her own. “So, what do you say?”

“I say, have another margarita. I just need to run to the little shop and pick up some… Well, I didn’t actually expect that I’d need…” He smiled apologetically.

Her voice was soft. “I’ll wait right here.”

He took her hand, gently brushed his lips across her knuckles, gave her a wink, and left the bar.

JUST ONE NIGHT by Pandora Spocks

JUST ONE NIGHT is just 99¢ every day
at your favorite online bookseller.
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Weekend Excerpt–MIDNIGHT COVE

They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove,
still waters harbor dark secrets.

Writer Bree Blaylock just wants a chance to catch her breath.  Having finally escaped an abusive relationship, she’s relieved to have found a quiet place to finish writing her new book.  

From the moment she arrives, she realizes that she’s not alone in her rented cottage on the lake.  But she’s okay with that. In her experience, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.

Meeting handsome local lawman Jake Hanson wasn’t even remotely on her radar.  Now that she has, maybe it’s time to take another chance on love.  

But can he keep her safe when the past comes calling?

In this scene from MIDNIGHT COVE, sexy local cop Jake introduces newcomer Bree to some of the Midnight Cove locals.

Glancing around, Bree saw that the island was larger than it looked from her place. The pair of oak trees were much larger and much older than she’d realized, and both were strewn with Spanish moss just like the oaks that lined her drive and dotted her front lawn. Scrubby low shrubs clustered here and there, but the rest of the ground was a mix of soil and sand, and Bree wondered if the summer traffic simply trampled any other vegetation that might have the temerity to spring up.

At the crest of the island, the ground leveled off. A half-dozen chairs similar to hers stood scattered around a giant stone fire ring, their owners opting to stand around in small groups for the time being. The large fire crackled and popped, its light augmenting the fading sunset.

Jake set his cooler beside two others, then returned to Bree, handing her the red chair. He set up his own blue chair, then placed hers beside it.

“Everybody, this is Bree. She’s renting old man Meyer’s cottage for a while. Bree, this is everybody.”

Conversations stopped, and Bree felt every eye on her as waved shyly. “Hi, everyone.”

She was greeted with smiles and friendly welcomes, but she suddenly felt out of place. She wondered if it was too soon to ask Jake to take her back.

When she looked up, Jake was watching her, his bright blue eyes filled with understanding. “How about a drink?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yes, please.” Following him to the cooler, she handed him the corkscrew from her bag. Deftly he popped open the wine and poured some into a plastic cup. Then he replaced the wine in the cooler, pausing to grab a brown bottle of beer for himself before he closed the lid again.

Jake gently placed his hand on the small of her back. “Want to take a little tour of the island while it’s still light enough to see?”

“Sure,” she laughed, deciding that it couldn’t possibly take very long. The tiny spit of land was so small that it would be like taking a tour of a studio apartment. Still, wine in hand, she followed him away from the fire. A trio of dogs brushed past them, with Murphy trailing along behind, tail wagging happily.

“He’s having a good time,” Jake observed.

Bree laughed softly. “He’ll sleep like a log tonight.”

They came to the water’s edge on the opposite side of the island. “Here on the west side,” Jake explained, “the water’s deeper. A few feet out, the bottom just drops off, and in those reeds over there, you can catch some serious bass.” He glanced at Bree. “Do you like to fish?”

She shrugged slightly. “I like to hold the fishing rod. I don’t like to mess with bait, or heaven forbid, I catch something, I don’t want to have to take it off the hook.”

He laughed lightly, his eyes sparkling. “Fishing is kind of my therapy. I love standing still, watching the water, and just listening to the quiet.”

Imagining the peace he described, Bree sighed. “That does sound nice.”

Jake quirked a dark eyebrow. “You could come over sometime and give it a try. I promise I’ll take care of all the messy parts. You can just hold the rod. Of course, you’d need a license. Wouldn’t want to get in trouble with the police.” He winked, and she felt herself blush.

“Pro tip: Get the annual license. It’s $20. The license for a week is $25.”

“Uh! Why is that?”

He laughed. “Because tourists on vacation for the week don’t question it. They just go back home and show everyone photos of the lunkers they caught.”

“Wow!” Bree shook her head and sipped her wine.

“How long until you go back home?” he wondered softly.

Rolling her eyes slightly, she took a large swig of wine. “I’m renting the cabin until mid-November, but I’m not going back.”

Brow knitted in the fading light, Jake watched her expectantly.

Bree huffed softly. “I came here from Clearwater, Florida, but I’m not going back there.” She shook her head dismissively. “Suffice it to say, it’s a bad situation. But I’m not sure where I’m going when I leave here. I write,” she shrugged, “so I can do it anywhere. I was thinking maybe I’d go to New York. My publisher is there, so…”

She trailed off and glanced up to find him watching her intently.

“I’m sorry about the bad situation.” His eyes radiated sincerity. “Would you like to sit?” he asked quietly.

Smiling gratefully, Bree nodded, and they made their way back around to the campfire, where clusters of people, beer in hand, stood talking together. A young couple stood near the fire roasting marshmallows.

Together, Bree and Jake sank into their camping chairs. “I suppose this crowd can be a little overwhelming,” Jake said quietly, “but they’re really nice. You’ll see.”

Bree sipped her wine and watched as people shared embraces like long-lost friends, chatting and laughing as they did.

The whine of outboard motors announced that another couple of boats had pulled up onto the beach. Bree recognized the cashier from the market among the new arrivals. Despite the cool fall evening, the young woman wore denim cut-offs so short that her ass cheeks hung out. In the thin white camisole she wore, her pronounced nipples attuned everyone to the fact that she was cold.

Immediately, she zeroed in on Jake. “Hey, there,” she drawled, eyes locked on his. “I’m glad you made it.”

“Hi, Darlene,” he answered, his tone friendly. Bree watched him carefully, but he didn’t seem impressed by Darlene’s obvious display. “You remember Bree from the other day.”

The woman flicked her gaze in Bree’s direction, her lips pressed together in contempt. “Oh, yeah, hi.”

“Hello.” Bree tried for friendly, but she felt her irritation rising. It was the second time she’d met this Darlene, and the second time the woman had both dismissed her and fawned all over Jake. It was sickening.

“There’s plenty of beer over there,” Jake nodded toward the collection of coolers. “Help yourself.”

“In the Publix bag, there’s everything you need for s’mores if you like,” Bree offered helpfully, smiling.

Darlene looked at Bree for a second, then returned her attention to Jake. “I believe I will have a beer. Talk to you later.”

During the exchange with Darlene, another boat arrived. Dragging their own chairs and a cooler, a ragtag assortment of people approached the others. Bree recognized the young woman from the bookstore.

Her smile was friendly. “Hey, how are you? I’m Whitley, from the Peacock. How’s the book?”

“Yes, I recognized you. I’m great, thanks, and I’m loving the book.”

Space around the fire was filling in, and Whitley slid her chair into a small gap at about Bree’s three o’clock. “It’s one of her best if you ask me,” Whitley said. “How do you know Jake?”

Eyes wide, Bree looked to her left at Jake.

“We’re neighbors,” Jake said quickly. “Bree’s a writer. She’s renting old man Meyer’s place for a couple of months.”

“Wait!” Whitley leaned forward in her chair and squinted in Bree’s direction. “You’re not Bree Blaylock, are you?”

Bree nodded. “I am, actually.”

“Holy shit!” Whitley squeaked. “Bree Blaylock! I should have recognized you the other day. I mean, your red hair should have given it away. Holy shit! I loved your book!”

Blushing, Bree glanced over to see Jake watching her. “Wow, thanks so much. I’m really glad you liked it.”

“No, seriously, Nothing Much, are you kidding me? It was life-changing. I read it three times.”

Aware that conversation around the fire had paused as Whitley gushed on and on, Bree felt herself blush even deeper. “That’s really nice of you to say.”

“Oh!” Whitley popped up out of her chair, waving her hands expressively. “We should do a book signing! My bosses are always looking for ways to get more customers in the door. A signing with Bree Blaylock! That would be amazing.”

Sheepishly, the young woman looked at Bree and sank back into her seat. “If you were interested in doing it, of course.”

Bree smiled warmly. “I’d be happy to do a book signing if the owners of the store wanted to do it.”

Whitley grinned from ear to ear. “They’d love it. I’ll ask them as soon as they come back.”

“So, Bree Blaylock, what’s it like staying in a haunted house?” The disdainful drawl came from directly across the fire ring.

“Come on, Darlene,” Jake objected softly.

Darlene dismissed him with a wave of the Budweiser in her hand. “We’ve all heard the stories. There’s a ghost in that cottage. How many summer renters have come running out of that place like a bat out of hell, never even bothering to look back?”

Determined not to let the woman get the best of her, Bree leaned back in her chair and smiled. “I’m very comfortable in Mr. Meyer’s house. It’s nice and quiet, and I’m able to get a lot of writing done.”

Eyes wide, Whitley leaned forward. “Have you seen a ghost?”

“Oh, come on,” Jake objected. “You two can’t be serious.”

“There are stories, Jake,” Rusty commented. “Years ago, they supposedly found a dead girl out here floating near the island. They say they never caught her killer.”

“Every summer, a handful of Meyer’s renters leave before their week is up,” someone else added. “They tell some weird stories.”

“That’s what it is,” Darlene purred, narrowing her eyes at Bree. “It’s the ghost of the murdered girl, looking for revenge on the one who killed her.”

Picturing Steven, Bree tried to suppress a smile. “Again, I’m very happy at the house. And by mid-November, I’ll be finished with my book and out of your hair.”

Determined, she held Darlene’s stare until the other girl finally dropped her gaze. Keeping her outward expression neutral, inside, Bree rejoiced.

You’re being ridiculous, she chided herself. You just won a staring contest with a local grocery clerk.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

Love your romance with a little spooky?
MIDNIGHT COVE is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
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Weekend Excerpt–RESISTING RISK

FREE BOOK ALERT!

Amazon #1 Bestselling RESISTING RISK is the first book of the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy. And you can have it FREE, exclusively at Amazon. Keep reading for the link!

Brilliant Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan has his life arranged exactly the way he likes it. As a founding partner at the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny, he can let his underlings do the legwork on the high-profile defense cases his exclusive 50th-floor division handles. He prefers to simply breeze in and do what he does best: dazzle juries and charm the press.


His private life is well-ordered, too. Michael doesn’t have the time or the patience for relationships. Instead, he has a contact list of hot blondes who meet his needs at any given moment, whether it’s a date to a gallery opening or an awards show. Or he just wants to get laid.


Some people would call him shallow. But they’re just envious.


Maggie Flynn has her life mapped out as well. After she graduates from law school, she plans to take a job with the Prosecutor’s Office, where she interned. But when she attends a job fair and meets Michael Rannigan, her plans change. She’s studied his cases, even heard him speak once. He’s smart and sexy, and she can’t resist interviewing with him.


Michael hires Maggie and has her assigned to his elite 50th-floor team. He knows smart when he sees it. He also sees the spark in her eyes. She wants him. And having her nearby strokes his ego. It’s not like anything will come of it; she’s so far from his type. But there’s something unsettling about Mary Margaret Flynn, like she can see through his bullshit in a way no one else ever bothered to do.


Maggie realizes that her crush on Michael is all but hopeless. He’s a self-absorbed womanizer. But beneath that cool exterior, she’s seen the man he can be, and she’s sure that love can bring that out. In the meantime, she’s content to work with him.


What would happen if they ever crossed that line?

In this teaser from RESISTING RISK, things begin to get heated between Maggie and her boss, Michael.

“Mags,” she heard out of the shifting fog. “We’re back in town. I need you to tell us where to go.”

She opened her eyes and realized that she’d been sleeping with her head on Michael’s shoulder. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry.” She sat up abruptly. “I didn’t realize… I wish you’d awakened me.”

“No worries. But we need to know exactly where to take Ben and where your place is.”

Maggie could see the driver watching her in the rear view mirror. “My place. Right.” She gave the address and the driver thanked her, the partition whooshing back into place. “Ben can sleep it off on my couch. It won’t be the first time.”

The car came to a stop in front of Maggie’s apartment. “Nice building, Mags. Is the whole thing yours?”

She fairly snorted. “In my dreams! One day when I’m rich and famous, I’ll have my own brownstone. For now I’m happy with a tiny part of the second floor.” She smiled gratefully. “Thanks again for the ride. You are a life saver.” She moved to open the door but the driver was there first.

“Let me help you get him inside,” Michael offered. They both glanced at Ben, who hadn’t so much as shifted during the entire ride.

She looked back at Michael. “Probably a good idea. I won’t be able to get him up the stairs by myself.” They succeeded in rousing Ben enough for him to put his arms around their shoulders and they moved him to the sidewalk.

Michael spoke quietly to the driver, who nodded before returning to the driver’s seat and slowly driving away. Maggie looked at him questioningly. “I told him to find a place to park. I’ll call him after we get your date settled.”

They managed the stairs and Michael leaned Ben between himself and the wall as Maggie unlocked the door and let them into her apartment. “Let’s just lay him on the couch,” she said, cocking her head in the direction of a large grey velvet sofa with navy blue accent pillows.

They worked together to get the unconscious and snoring Ben safely onto the couch, Michael studiously ignoring the way his jacket gapped open, inviting views of Maggie’s breasts as she leaned over to place a pillow under Ben’s head.

“Thank you so much, Michael,” she said as she removed his jacket and held it uncertainly. “Can I offer you a beer or coffee or something? Or do you need to go?”

“Coffee sounds good,” he answered.

Maggie smiled brightly as she gently placed his jacket over the back of a kitchen chair and set about making coffee. Michael wandered around the living room area to the bay window and looked out over the street. He turned back around to take in the view of the room. It was small, of course, but nice in a quirky sort of way. She’d left on a dim lamp near the window that gave enough light to the space without being intrusive. “This is a nice place,” he commented.

She smiled at him from the kitchen counter. “Thanks. And again, I really appreciate your giving us a ride.”

“Mags, you’ve thanked me about a thousand times,” he said gently.

She blushed slightly. “Well, I didn’t want to forget,” she said sheepishly.

He watched her as she worked in the kitchen, measuring out coffee into a French press, putting a kettle of water on the stove, little mundane domestic tasks. His mind skipped to flashes of her from throughout the night. Slowly it dawned on him what it was about Maggie that made him uncomfortable.

She’s real. She has no hidden agenda. She isn’t playing some game, she doesn’t want anything from me. He sighed deeply. She’s the kind of girl who could make you forget your own rules.

Michael slowly crossed the room and stood by the kitchen counter. “Can I help with something?”

“No, it’s all done. We’re just waiting for the water to boil.” She leaned back resting her hand on the counter.

He gently placed his hand on hers. “You…are very dangerous,” he whispered, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it softly, his deep brown eyes peering into hers. Her brow furrowed, perplexed.

Gently, he tilted up her chin with his fingers and leaned down, meeting her lips with his own, lightly at first, and then more urgently. He ran his other hand down the smooth fabric of the back of her dress coming to rest on her firm ass as he probed her mouth with his tongue, seeking hers.

Maggie responded, matching the heat of his kiss, reaching up, tangling her fingers in the hair behind his ear, giving herself over to his embrace. Michael’s hand left her ass and smoothed its way back up to her side, her ribs, stopping just under her breast. Reluctantly he pulled himself away.

Maggie breathlessly gazed up at him. He smiled gently. “We’re both a little drunk,” he said. “Which is why I’d better go.” Tenderly, he kissed her once again and walked out the door.

RESISTING RISK by Pandora Spocks

Amazon #1 Bestselling RESISTING RISK
is available for FREE, exclusively at Amazon.

Weekend Excerpt–THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE

They say desperate times call
for desperate measures.
Charley Weatherly is about to realize
that it’s true.

Life isn’t working out exactly the way Charley Weatherly imagined it might when she walked away from her steady paycheck as a copywriter to start her own business. But as it turns out, not everyone in town is knocking down the door of her tiny independent bookshop. She has lost money every quarter since she opened.

Now, with her grandmother in need of more care than Charley can provide, some difficult decisions have to be made. The rest of her 401k plus the proceeds from selling the bookstore might keep Nana in Pacifico Manor for about a year. That would give Charley time to figure out her next move.

But when that money is irretrievably lost, Charley is faced with an impossible decision. Being a gestational surrogate for a couple who can’t have a baby on their own will bring in the kind of cash she needs. Can she really follow through?

Between trying to keep her small business afloat and caring for her grandmother, Charley’s personal life has been nonexistent. But when she moves to the city for a few months, she finds she enjoys the freedom of her part-time gig at Bravo Java. She especially enjoys chatting up the handsome local artist who spends his mornings there. Now that her life is taking an unexpected turn, has she finally met the right man at the wrong time?

Artist Ben Campbell has had his fair share of romantic disasters. For the time being, he’s content to follow his self-imposed schedule: gym, coffee, work, repeat.

But the new barista at his favorite coffee shop piques his interest. In fact, if he’s honest with himself, she looks a lot like the elusive redhead who haunts his dreams.

She seems to be attracted to him, too. So why does Charley insist on keeping him at arm’s length?

Prefer your romance with plenty of heat and tons of heart?
You’ll love The Girl in the Guesthouse!

In this scene, Charley’s new love interest Ben is away working on a project, but his thoughts are never far from her.

With a satisfied sigh, Ben stood in the window of his hotel suite and gazed down at the once-bare brick wall across the street. Raising a cold Corona from the mini-bar, he toasted his nearly completed work. One more day would do it, he reflected. And the day after that, he’d endure Darla Huntington’s splashy unveiling party, then he’d be heading down to Austin for the photoshoot.

Sipping his beer, he sighed again, ready to be finished with all of it and on his way to Bluebell and the sanctuary of his mother’s farm. His lips quirked a bit and he shook his head. That wasn’t really what he longed for, either.

Seventeen hundred miles away was where his heart was. Tucked away in a tiny guesthouse in Pacific Heights. He wondered what Charley might be doing at that moment.

Retrieving his phone from his back pocket, he glanced at the time. It was 11:30 in Dallas, but that made it only 9:30 on the West Coast. Enjoying the flutter in his stomach, he clicked Charley’s name and lifted the device to his ear.

“Hey there,” Charley answered softly. “How are you?”

“Hey there, yourself,” Ben smiled. “Sorry it’s so late. Did I wake you?”

“No, I’m all cozy in bed reading a trashy romance novel,” she laughed. “It’s not my usual taste, but I couldn’t resist the cover. It’s really awful in the best possible way.”

Ben laughed too. “I don’t think I even want to ask.”

“No. You definitely don’t. So how was your day?”

“It was great. I’ll spend tomorrow tying up all the loose ends and it will be finished. Did you see the pictures?” He had posted three different angles of the mural on Instagram just before he left for the evening.

“I did. I may be as big a stalker as Gina,” Charley teased.

“Ha! I don’t think that’s possible,” Ben laughed again. “Although there’s a lady here who might be a serious contender.”

“Really? Who?”

Instantly sorry he had opened that particular can of worms, Ben realized he had no choice other than to elaborate. “Oh, the lady who nominated me for this mural seems to have maybe had some ulterior motives.”

“Ulterior motives? How so?”

Ben shoved his free hand into his pocket and paced the length of the hotel room. “I don’t know,” he shrugged for the benefit of the empty room, “she keeps trying to get me by myself, go for drinks or something. Makes me seriously question how I ended up getting this honor in the first place.”

“Don’t be silly. You’re very talented. Ms. Sexual Harrassment might have nominated you, but the entire committee decided you were the one for the job.” Charley’s tone was decidedly protective.

Ben felt the flutter again and he smiled. “I guess you’re right.”

“Of course, I am. You’ll learn this about me; I’m always right.”

Laughing with Charley was the best thing Ben had done all day. Maybe in several days. His mind skipped to another thought. “Hey, I was thinking I might bring you a prize from Texas. I’ve been looking around a little. They have Dallas Cowboys stuff everywhere, but not everyone is a Cowboys fan.”

“You don’t need to bring me anything. Besides, I’ve never really followed basketball, so I’m sure I don’t need any Cowboys stuff.”

“Well, the Cowboys play football, so there’s that,” Ben chuckled.

“I know. I just like saying stuff like that to annoy dudes. It’s kind of a hobby.”

Laughing harder, Ben shook his head to himself. “Is that right? I’ll have to make a note. But seriously, what can I bring you?”

“Besides yourself? Nothing. There’s nothing in the world that I need.”

“Nothing at all?”

He heard her laugh on the other end of the phone. “Nothing. But if you insist on bringing something, make sure it’s extra cheesy.”

“Extra cheesy. Okay. I guess I have my work cut out for me.”

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE is available
at your favorite online bookseller.



Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA

They traveled the world searching for excitement.
But LOVE is the ultimate adventure.

Strong-willed ginger Bella Grant is a take-charge television journalist with an appetite for adventure. Handsome and sexy Luke McGillicutty is a world-weary photographer coaxed out of premature retirement with the promise of traveling the world with a smart, spunky redhead. They’ve been paired up to create a new brand of television travel program.

Traveling to romantic destinations, staying in first-class hotels, and finding adventure at every turn, it’s not surprising that the two fall in love. Luke is stunned to realize that Bella is the woman he’s looked for his whole life. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and courageous.

The only thing is, Luke hasn’t been completely upfront with her. He hasn’t told her that he’s into BDSM. He could play it safe, keep the relationship going exactly the way it is. But Luke wants more. As a Dominant, he craves the intimacy that a Dom/sub relationship provides. And he knows without a doubt that Bella is the perfect submissive. How will she react if he approaches her about submitting to him as a Dominant? Maybe she’d be intrigued by the idea. On the other hand, he could lose her forever.

Life on the road working with Bella is great. Nights spent in Bella’s arms are amazing. Should Luke just be satisfied with the way things are?

Or should he risk everything on the chance that they could have it all?

In this spicey snippet, someone may or may not join the ‘Mile-High Club.’

In her dream, her father was standing over her mother’s casket, pointing at Bella. “You did this!” he screamed. “She died because you broke her heart!”

She woke with a start, Luke dozing beside her. “I need more alcohol,” she muttered to herself, and she motioned to the flight attendant.

They landed in Philly, the second layover before the last leg in the eternity that was their journey to Alabama. Waiting at the gate, Bella was restless. “Do you want anything? I can’t tell if I’m hungry or thirsty…maybe I need a magazine…I’ll be right back.”

Luke watched as she walked toward a shop down the concourse. She returned with two Diet Pepsis, a bag of Jelly Bellys, and the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

“I got you a drink,” she said, handing it to him. She sat and thumbed through the magazine without reading. “How long to boarding?” she asked.

“Not long now,” he answered. He regarded her carefully, noticing that the closer they got to Birmingham, the more agitated she became.

Bella shook her head. This is such a mistake, she thought. Nothing good can come of this. Realizing that he was watching her, she smiled at him unconvincingly. Just then, they heard their boarding call. “Rock & roll!” she said flippantly.

They boarded the plane and took their first-class seats for their final flight. Bella ordered wine before she even sat down, ignoring Luke’s concerned look, shrugging, “A little liquid fortitude.” Laughing humorlessly, she drained the cup and called for another. Luke reached out his hand, and she took it gratefully, without looking at him. He was glad when the flight was finally underway.

Finished with her third glass of wine, she gave Luke a mischievous look. Reaching under her skirt, she shimmied out of her panties. “Follow me, Cowboy.” She got up and headed toward the restroom.

Luke shook his head, unbelieving. Bella and too much alcohol. It’s an unpredictable mix, he thought as he followed her up the aisle.

She let him in first, followed him, then closed the door. She pushed him down onto the toilet, straddled him, and undid his zipper, releasing his hard cock. She slid herself onto him and began to move briskly up and down. “Do me, Cowboy!” she whispered.

This was a first for Luke. He’d traveled more than most people, but he was usually alone. “Here’s the thing, baby girl. You’re topping from the bottom. I’m not sure I like that,” he said, a glint of humor in his intense gaze, aware that no matter how he might protest, his body betrayed his arousal.

“You can beat my ass red tomorrow, but right now, for God’s sake, Cowboy, I need you to fuck my brains out!” she hissed. She unbuttoned her blouse and pulled her bra down, revealing her full round breasts with hard pink nipples begging to be ravaged.

“I love your wild heart,” he managed before he buried his face into Bella’s cleavage. She laughed quietly, then moved with renewed urgency, sensing climax was near. He stopped her, growling, “Oh, hell no, baby girl, not that fast!”

In a flash, he whirled her around and bent her over the small sink in front of the tiny mirror. “You watch me fuck your brains out,” he whispered as he entered her from behind. “And never forget who’s in charge here.” He grasped her nipples and used his thumbs to roughly stroke them, pinching hard at the tips.

“Oh, God…” she breathed. They finished together, breathlessly, trying to remain quiet. Turning her head, she kissed him deeply. “I love you, Cowboy.” She gently separated from him and straightened up her clothes. “Meet you back at our seats.” She unlocked the door and nonchalantly returned to her seat.

LUKE & BELLA by Pandora Spocks

LUKE & BELLA is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/LukeAndBella1

Weekend Excerpt–BROKEN HARTS

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché.
But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink tulle bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?

***
A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect.
Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

If you love your romance with a little heat and plenty of heart, you’re going to love Broken Harts!

In this teaser, Ali has left New York looking for a little advice from her mother.

Shivering against the chilling sea breeze, Ali gathered her jacket more tightly around herself and stared out over the sparkling blue Mediterranean. She heard the scuff of shoes on the stone terrace but didn’t bother to turn around.

“If you’re going to insist on being out here, you should at least bundle up. It’s January, for God’s sake.”

Wordlessly, Ali accepted the grey wool throw blanket her mother draped around her shoulders. She blinked when the woman stepped in front of her, blocking her view.

“Alison Renee Hart, look at me.”

Hands on her hips and her jaw set with determination, Michelle Schaeffer Hart Renaud radiated a toughness that belied her petite frame. Her jaw-length coif, once as brilliantly red as Ali’s, had morphed into a shade more golden than ginger, and it ruffled in the breeze.

Reluctantly, Ali met her mother’s eyes.

“Come inside.” Michelle’s voice was soft. “Let’s get some wine, sit by the fire, and you can tell me what this is all about.”

Back in the house and still wrapped in the throw, Ali sank into the deep grey sofa cushions and curled her feet under herself. She stared into the fire, grudgingly appreciating its warmth.

“Here.” Her mother thrust a glass of white wine into her hand. Then she turned with her own glass and settled in a crisp white overstuffed chair. “So spill. You’ve been sulking since you got here three days ago. Enough’s enough. Tell me what’s going on.”

Ali sighed deeply and looked at her wine glass, for the first time realizing that it was exceptionally full. Frowning, she glanced up at her mother, who raised her equally full glass and nodded.

“Talk to me, Ali.”

Ali opened her mouth to say something, then, not knowing where to start, closed it again, shifting her gaze back to the orange and red flames licking at the ash logs stacked in the fireplace.

“I’ll get you started,” she heard her mother say. “There was this boy…”

“He’s not a boy; he’s thirty,” Ali corrected softly.

“Ah-hah! Now we’re getting somewhere.”

Shaking her head miserably, Ali set down her glass and pulled the blanket more tightly around herself, more to keep herself from flying apart than to stay warm.

“I’ve always thought that the whole idea of love at first sight was a crock of shit,” Ali began. “But when I met Logan right before Thanksgiving, I just…” She waved expansively. “I just couldn’t think of anything else. The more time we spent together, the harder I fell for him. And he fell for me, too. Or so I thought.”

Michelle frowned slightly. “So, what happened?”

“We spent hours together, talking about all kinds of things, sharing some of the most personal stories of our lives. But it turns out, Logan neglected to tell me one minor detail–the fact that he was engaged.”

“Oh, boy.”

“Oh, boy, is right!” Pushing off the sofa, Ali clung to the throw around her shoulders and paced in front of the fireplace. “We met for lunch, for dinner, we called and texted all the time,” she glanced at her mother. “We slept together, for God’s sake, and the whole time he was engaged.”

She frowned slightly. “Part of the time, anyway. The whole thing has my head spinning. His wedding was supposed to be on Valentine’s Day, the same day as Shannon’s wedding, if you can believe it.”

“His wedding was supposed to be on Valentine’s Day? As in, it’s not anymore?”

Ali waved dismissively and stalked toward the enormous windows overlooking the sea. “He broke off the engagement on Christmas Eve. Which, at the risk of repeating myself, was after we’d already slept together.”

“The little shit! I’ll castrate him myself.”

Ali looked up to see her mother’s lips were pursed, her eyes sparkling with humor.

“I’m serious, Mother! I had no idea! Even after he broke it off, he didn’t tell me about his fiancée. I only found out about her when she tracked us down on New Years’. We’d just had the most fantastic time, and all of a sudden, this crazy woman was screaming in my face.”

“What did Logan do?” Michelle wondered.

Ali returned to stand in front of the fire again. “Well, at that point, he couldn’t exactly deny it.”

Michelle frowned again. “So… He was engaged when you met, but he ended his engagement when things started getting serious between the two of you. Do I have it straight?”

Flouncing back to the sofa, Ali sat down with a huff. “And he wasn’t honest with me from the beginning. And I ended up being the other woman without having a choice in the matter. Which if I’d been given a choice, I’d have said, No, thank you, because that’s not who I am.”

Feeling suddenly out of air, Ali sank back into the sofa again. Her mother watched her wordlessly for several minutes.

“So?” Ali finally demanded.

Michelle smiled softly. “So, what does Logan say?”

“What does Logan say? He admitted that she was his fiancée.” She frowned. “I think his actual words were former fiancée, but still. The fact remains that he lied to me by omission. I loved him, and he broke my heart.” Her last word was barely a squeak. Unbidden tears rolled down her face.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/BrokenHarts

Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA

They traveled the world searching for excitement.
But love is the ultimate adventure.

Strong-willed ginger Bella Grant is a take-charge television journalist with an appetite for adventure. Handsome and sexy Luke McGillicutty is a world-weary photographer coaxed out of premature retirement with the promise of traveling the world with a smart, spunky redhead. They’ve been paired up to create a new brand of television travel program.

Traveling to romantic destinations, staying in first-class hotels, finding adventure at every turn, it’s not surprising that the two fall in love. Luke is stunned to realize that Bella is the woman he’s looked for his whole life. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and courageous.

The only thing is, Luke hasn’t been completely up front with her. He hasn’t told her that he’s into BDSM. He could play it safe, keep the relationship going exactly the way it is. But Luke wants more. As a Dominant, he craves the intimacy that a Dom/sub relationship provides. And he knows without a doubt that Bella is the perfect submissive. How will she react if he approaches her about submitting to him as a Dominant? Maybe she’d be intrigued by the idea. On the other hand, he could lose her forever.

Life on the road working with Bella is great. Nights spent in Bella’s arms are amazing. Should Luke just be satisfied with the way things are?

Or should he risk everything on the chance that they could have it all?

In this scene from LUKE & BELLA, Bella introduces Luke to a little Southern hospitality, Grant family style.

Pulling into the drive, they could see the house situated at the end of a long, straight lane shaded by centuries-old oak trees that were draped with Spanish moss. The white antebellum home was two stories tall and fronted by six white columns. There was a broad front porch running the width of the house with a matching veranda on the second floor.

Bella felt a perverse sense of pride. Bad memories and associations aside, the plantation house was undeniably beautiful. Still, she was glad that Tre and his family lived there. She was perfectly content in the townhouse.

Tre stopped, parking the SUV out front and they crossed the porch to the front door, entering a grand foyer. Tre called, “Cornelia, we’re home.” The smell of something good for dinner filled the house.

Cornelia came out to greet them, wiping her hands on her vintage apron, all Southern grace and gentle manners. She was petite and blonde with helmet hair that undoubtedly required a weekly salon appointment. Her delicate stature had always been a compliment to Tre’s tall lanky frame. Bella dutifully hugged her and introduced Luke.

Cornelia grasped his hand in that Southern lady not-quite-a-handshake way and drawled, “So nice to meet you, y’all come on in.” As she turned away, Bella caught Luke’s eyes and made a face.

“So how was Daddy?” Cornelia asked.

“Nasty as ever,” Tre answered.

“Oh dear, he’s been difficult since he got sick,” Cornelia began.

Bella interrupted, “Longer than that. You and I both know it.”

Cornelia cooed, “Still, we can’t speak badly about the ill.”

“Just telling the truth,” Bella countered. “Do you have any wine around? I’ve waited about as long as I can.”

Cornelia gave her a pinched look, then smiled, all charm. “Why, of course. Y’all make yourselves comfortable in the living room. Tre, get your sister some wine.”

They heard a shout from the direction of the kitchen. “Hey, is that Aunt Sissy?” A tall lanky boy of about twenty came bounding into the room. He looked like Tre had time-traveled backwards, the resemblance was so strong.

“‘Hey’ is for horses, son,” Cornelia corrected quietly.

Bella squealed with delight. “T-Nathan! How are you?” She gave him a huge hug. “And ‘hey’ is just fine with me,” she grinned, smirking at Cornelia. “So your dad says you’re home from school?”

T-Nathan grinned. “Yep, I took my exams early so I could come home.”

Bella smiled up at him. “It’s so great to see you! I can’t believe you’re a college man now! Holy sh…cow!” she said, glancing at Cornelia, who was making her way back to the kitchen.

T-Nathan laughed. “Nice save.”

Tre handed Bella a glass of white wine and then poured bourbon for Luke and himself.

“Well, my boy, the night is young, and I am way sober. Just wait!” Bella laughed. “Luke, this is my favorite nephew, T-Nathan.”

T-Nathan smiled. “Ha! I’m your only nephew! Nice to meet you, sir.” Luke gave Bella a startled look as he shook hands with the young man.

Bella laughed and said, “It’s a Southern thing,” winking at Luke.

Tre took them on a brief tour of the downstairs, showing them the kitchen, family room, and his office. Bella was surprised to see some of the updates they’d made.

“Y’all have done some nice things with the house, Bubba,” she commented.

“It’s pretty much all Cornelia’s doing,” he said. “She decided when we moved in that the place was too dark and sad.”

“There’s been plenty of sad,” Bella mused quietly, sipping her wine. She looked out the window into the backyard. “Hey, what’s going on out back?” she asked, referring to the large white tents set up on the lawn.

“Oh! The annual picnic is tomorrow. I hope y’all are coming,” Tre said.

Bella looked at him in surprise. “Really. I thought they stopped having that when Grandaddy died,” she said.

“Well, Daddy stopped it,” he admitted. “I started it again when he retired and I took over five years ago. He was pissed as hell, but it seems to mean so much to everybody.” Tre grinned at them.

“You did a really good thing, Bubba,” she said quietly.

They made their way back to the family room and sat chatting about previous picnics and the plans for tomorrow’s event. Cornelia appeared in the doorway and announced, “Dinner, everyone.”

They all took their places at the table in the formal dining room. After Tre led the grace, Bella chugged the remainder of her wine and poured a second. They passed around platters of chicken cordon bleu and scalloped potatoes, fresh vegetables, and homemade rolls.

Dinner was delicious and everyone made polite small talk. Tre encouraged Luke to talk about his time in the Navy and as a news photographer.

After a brief lull in the conversation, Tre said, “By the way, we watched your show last night. I thought it was interesting.”

T-Nathan said, “Hey Aunt Sissy, did you really smoke weed in Amsterdam?”

Cornelia glared at him. “T-Nathan, I don’t think that’s appropriate dinner conversation.”

Bella, ignoring Cornelia, smiled ruefully. “Yes. Yes, I did.” She drained her third glass of wine. “It wasn’t all that. I can’t see doing it again.”

“And that’s your job?” T-Nathan marveled. “That is so cool! And you sat in that prostitute’s window?”

Bella nodded. “I did, for a little while.”

“Unbelievable,” Cornelia muttered under her breath.

Bella, pouring her fourth glass of wine, drawled, “Reckon I’m gonna get my ass kicked clean out of the Junior League.”

“And here we go,” Tre said quietly.

“Here, Cornelia. Have some fucking wine,” Bella said, all exaggerated Southern accent, and getting louder with every word. “You know, a drink. Might loosen up that cooter of yours and give my brother a break.”

T-Nathan did a spit-take. Cornelia quietly cleared her throat, neatly placed her napkin beside her plate, and left the table. “If y’all will please excuse me for a moment,” she murmured quietly.

Luke watched the whole scene, unsure whether to be embarrassed or amused.

“Sissy, why do you do that?” Tre sighed, shaking his head.

“Because it’s easy,” she replied, draining her glass.

LUKE & BELLA by Pandora Spocks

LUKE & BELLA is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/LukeAndBella1

Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 2

One night of passion tore them apart.
Desperation will bring them together.

Michael Rannigan is running rogue. Since Maggie’s abrupt departure from the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny, he’s been in a tailspin. As he limps along in the new normal, he misses her more than he ever imagined.

Maggie misses Michael as well. But she makes the best of her new job at the District Attorney’s office. Occasionally they cross paths in court, each assessing the other. Like Michael, she finds herself making questionable personal choices.

When opportunity knocks for Michael, he leaps at it, maybe as much to avoid Maggie’s absence as anything else. The fact that his decision impacts everyone else at the firm doesn’t slow him down at all.

Then comes news that shakes him to his core. Now that he’s burned all his bridges, who will be there to help him pick up the pieces?

Here’s fair warning: Spoilers abound in this excerpt from RUNNING ROGUE, the second book in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy.

“Michael?” Maggie asked into the intercom.

“Hey, Mags.” His voice sounded tinny over the ancient device. “I know it’s late. I’m sorry. But when I saw your light on, I mean… Can I come up?”

Maggie hesitated, her finger hovering over the button. “What do you want, Michael?”

“Mags, I just…I just want to talk.”

She shook her head, checking the time again. What the hell? And he’s probably drunk. Standing out there in the rain like he’s got absolutely no sense.

She pressed the door buzzer. “Don’t wake my neighbors,” she admonished him.

Maggie pulled the wooly cream-colored robe tighter around herself, tying the belt securely and she stalked to the door, opening it to wait for Michael. She watched him coming up the stairs, his soaked hair matted to his head. His wet shoes squeaked softly with each footfall. She started to say something snippy but noticed the haunted look in his eyes, so she simply stepped back and let him into the apartment. She closed the door behind him and walked to the kitchen counter where she leaned back, crossing her arms, head cocked at him expectantly.

Michael stood just inside the doorway, rainwater pooling all around his feet. He looked ill at ease and uncertain.

“Well?” she finally said.

He ran his fingers through his wet hair and sighed deeply.

“Oh for God’s sake, Michael!” She left him standing there and returned with a large blue towel. “You’re soaked.”

She took his jacket from him and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair. As he used the towel to dry his face and hair, she couldn’t help herself. “Are you drunk?”

He frowned and shook his head. “I’m not drunk. I had some bourbon. I might be drunk. A little.”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Sit down. I’m making you some coffee so we can send you home. Have you eaten lately?”

“I don’t know.” Michael sank onto a chair at the kitchen table. He glanced around as Maggie busied herself putting a kettle of water on the stove and taking a French press from a cupboard.

“I hope I’m not causing a problem with your fiancé. Husband? Whatever.”

Maggie paused to look at him, her lips forming a grim line. “Yeah, well, that didn’t work out so…no worries.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

She worked in silence breaking eggs into a bowl and putting strips of bacon into a skillet as Michael sat at the table and occasionally used the towel to swipe at his face. On the stove, the bacon began to sizzle as the kettle whistled. Maggie poured the boiling water into the press and let it stand for a moment as she chopped a small onion and part of a green pepper.

“Did you know Stan Hodges died?” Michael finally asked.

Maggie arched an eyebrow. “I was at the funeral. Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” he answered vaguely. He watched her grate cheddar into the eggs. Then she pressed the plunger on the coffee and poured some into a cornflower blue mug with a white script ‘M’ on the side.

M for Maggie. Or Michael. He shook his head to dismiss the inane thought. Looking around the small apartment, he asked, “Why are you still here?”

Maggie glanced over her shoulder. “What, I should move uptown into one of your glass and steel monstrosities?”

“I was just thinking that you could afford a bigger place, that’s all.”

“This may be a tiny apartment but this building has soul. Once upon a time, a family called this place home. Maybe I can’t afford to own a whole townhouse but at least I can rent a small part of it.”

Michael watched her for a moment. “You could have bought your own townhouse if you’d stayed with the firm.”

Maggie turned around and leaned against the counter, crossing her arms. “If I’d stayed, I’d have been out of a job along with everyone else. You really tanked everyone, you know that, right?”

He looked down at his hands. “I wouldn’t have pursued the television thing if you’d still been there.”

She snorted, returning to her cutting board. “Bullshit. Being on the news every night is exactly your thing. You can’t put that off on me.”

She set the coffee in front of him. “What are you doing here, Michael?”

He stalled, sipping the steaming hazelnut blend. “This isn’t where I meant to be. I went out and ended up down here in the Village. I was at the Blue Note until they kicked everybody out. I got a little lost and then realized I was across the street from your apartment.”

Maggie turned back to her omelet, stirring in the vegetables. The bacon had quieted down and she turned over the strips, causing them to erupt into loud sizzling once again. “Why are you here?” she asked again.

“I’m sick,” he said quietly.

“I don’t doubt it. It’s forty degrees outside and you’re soaked. It’s a wonder you don’t have pneumonia.”

“It’s cancer.”

Maggie froze mid-stir. “What?” Slowly, she turned around.

“Cancer.”

“Shit.” She crossed to the table and sank onto the chair across from him, gaping at him wide-eyed.

“There was this spot. And then they found out it was melanoma.” Michael’s face twisted. “Mags, you wouldn’t believe the chunk they cut out of my shoulder.”

“Well, they got it then,” she said. “Good. That’s good, right?”

“Bacon’s burning,” Michael said quietly.

“Fuck!” She jumped up and took the pan off the burner.

“I like it that way,” he offered as she set the strips of bacon on a paper towel to drain and poured the omelet into the pan.

“So after they took the hunk out of my arm they did a biopsy. It was melanoma, just like the doctor said. Then they had me get a PET scan. Said they needed to see if it had spread.”

Maggie worked mechanically at the egg mixture in the pan, listening intently as he spoke. “And?” she asked as she slid the omelet onto a blue ceramic plate. She placed it in front of him and sat down again.

“And they called this afternoon to say they have the results. The doctor wouldn’t discuss it over the phone. He wants me to come in tomorrow.” He looked down at the plate. “He said I should have someone with me.”

“Oh my God. Michael.”

He nodded. “I started making phone calls. That’s how I found out about Stan. Which was after I called Murph and then Jimbo. They pretty much told me to go fuck myself.”

Maggie watched him grimly. I imagine they did.

“I called some of the women I go out with. I guess everybody has a lot going on.” He sighed. “I thought about calling you. But, I don’t know. I’ve been an asshole. Plus I figured you were busy with getting married and stuff.” He met her eyes. “I didn’t mean to come here, honest to God.”

She watched him pick at the omelet. “My agent’s pissed at me because I bailed on some appearances. Asking her to come with me is out of the question. She’s probably not in town anyway.”

Michael shook his head. “I don’t know why they’re insisting that someone comes with me to that appointment tomorrow. I should just go and find out what the scan shows, figure out where to go from there. It’s just…” His voice broke. “Mags, I’m scared shitless.” He put down the fork and held his head in his hands.

Maggie could never have imagined a scenario in which S. Michael Rannigan would break down sobbing at her kitchen table. She felt as though her heart would break.

“Michael,” she said softly, standing beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder. His body shook as he let loose the emotions that had been building since the day the nightmare had started. “It’s okay,” she murmured. “It’s okay, everything’s going to be alright.” She waited for him to quiet down. “What time is your appointment?”

Michael sat up, sniffing and using the towel to wipe his face. “Shit.” He coughed and took a sip of coffee. “I have to be there at 1:30.”

Maggie looked over to where her files still sat scattered in the living room. She knew they probably represented ten hours of work for the following day and sighed heavily. “Where is the doctor’s office?”

“It’s on E. 80th between 2nd and 3rd.”

She nodded. “Okay. I’ll tell Rance that I have to leave at lunch. I’ll meet you there.”

“I can’t ask you to do that,” Michael said quickly, but he looked at her with such gratitude she felt the sting of tears in her eyes and a huge lump formed in her throat.

She coughed lightly. “You didn’t ask, although you seem to have asked everyone else in your Contacts, and I’m going to try not to take that personally,” she said. “I’m offering. Take it or leave it.”

RUNNING ROGUE by Pandora Spocks

RUNNING ROGUE, and the entire Rannigan’s Redemption Trilogy, is available at your favorite online bookseller.
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The Amazon #1 Best-Selling first book, RESISTING RISK,
is FREE exclusively at Amazon.
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Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

A platonic Dom/sub relationship?
It’s a damn odd arrangement.

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband Graham dies unexpectedly, she’s devastated. He’s the only man she’s ever loved. Just eighteen when she met him, she’s been married to him for twenty-five years. Now she’s lost her friend, her lover…and her Dominant.

But as it turns out, Graham had an inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protégé in the Lifestyle, firefighter and paramedic Judd Farris, to be Jessi’s Dominant until she gets back on her feet.

Judd is determined to fulfill his promise to his friend. But it’s a damn odd arrangement—a platonic Dom/sub relationship. With her fiery auburn hair, sparkling green eyes, and audacious spirit, Jessi captured his attention the first time he ever saw her. At her husband’s funeral.

A man could go to hell for the things he’s been thinking. But they’ve drawn a line, and he’s going to stick to it.

Judd’s sexy good looks and his gentle confidence aren’t lost on Jessi. She’s torn between loyalty to the man she loved, and desire for the man increasingly in her fantasies. In the letter Graham left for her, he mentioned that she might find Judd attractive. But that’s simply ridiculous. He’s five years younger than she is. He couldn’t possibly be interested in her. Could he?

Judd’s a Dom without a sub, and Jessi’s a sub without a Dom. It’s perfect for the time being. Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary solution?

And could it all end at the hands of a madman?

In this teaser from FOR SPARROW, Jessi receives a letter from the love of her life from beyond the grave. Now, she has a decision to make.

Standing at the kitchen island, he handed her an envelope. Her heart ached at the sight of Graham’s familiar left-handed scrawl across the face of the envelope.

For Sparrow

Jessi’s eyes filled with tears.

Judd spoke softly. “I’ll be out back when you’re finished, and we can talk about it if you like.” He squeezed her shoulder gently. “Come on, Buddy. Let’s go outside.” Happily, the puppy followed Judd out the back door.

Jessi’s hands shook. With her index finger, she traced the writing on the front of the envelope. She glanced out the back door to see Judd kick off his shoes and sit on the edge of the pool, sinking his feet into the water. Buddy flopped down beside him and rolled over, wanting his tummy scratched, and Judd obliged.

She turned her attention back to the envelope. Her irrational self told her that if she didn’t open it, somehow everything could go back to normal. But curiosity won the moment, and she slid her thumb under the flap and carefully opened the letter.

My dearest Sparrow,

I’m so sorry I’m not there with you. I can feel my heart beginning to wear out. Please don’t be angry with me for not telling you; I know how you worry about things. We’ve had a good life together. I’ve told you before, and I’m telling you again, you are the best thing that ever happened to me. The fact that you are the mother of my children amazes the hell out of me. What did I ever do to deserve such a terrific family?

Jessi reached up to wipe a silent tear from her cheek. Self-consciously, she flicked her eyes out to the pool deck to find that Judd was watching her intently, and he flashed a sympathetic smile. Sniffing, she read on.

It would be pointless, I suppose, to tell you not to mourn. Just don’t do it too long. And don’t you dare wear black. God, I hate all that maudlin bullshit. Now, Sparrow, you and I know that you are a natural submissive. I don’t want you to feel lost without a Dominant in your life. I want you to find one, a true Gentleman who will cherish you in the way you deserve. One who will nurture the sexy, sensual woman you truly are. Don’t you go back to some kind of vanilla half-existence. That would really piss me off.

Tears still streaming, she laughed because she could almost hear Graham’s voice.

If you have this letter, you’ve met Judd. I’ve known him for several years now, and he’s a solid Dominant. I’ve asked him to check in on you and to take care of some things around the house. I’ve also asked him to help you out until you find a Dominant of your own. Judd is willing to give you knee time, Sparrow, to help you settle your mind and find peace. I don’t mean sex and kink. He would be a sort of ’emotional Dominant,’ just until you get back on your feet.

On the other hand, if you found yourself attracted to Judd, it would make me happy knowing that you’d be in good hands. He’s a good man, Jessi, a gentle man, and a Gentleman. He would be a perfect sexual Dominant for you. I worry thinking about the dangers out there, Sparrow. You and Judd could make your own way.

Mortified, Jessi glanced out the back door. Thankfully, Judd was staring out across the pool. “I can’t believe you’re telling me these things,” she murmured to herself.

Anyway, I trust you, Sparrow. You’re smart and strong, and I’m so proud of you. Never forget that you are absolutely the love of my life. I’m forever grateful to you for taking my hard, stuffy heart and helping me to be a better man than I ever dreamed about being. Be sure the kids know how much I love them. I love you, my Sparrow, with all my heart. Live happy. Find love and cherish it.

Your loving husband and Master, G.

Jessi was completely undone. Sobbing, she folded her arms on the counter and rested her head on them. She cried until she felt she had no tears left. Moments passed, and she raised her head. It hurt, and her eyes felt puffy. With a glance at Judd and Buddy still sitting by the pool, she went into the powder room and splashed water on her face.

Taking a deep breath, she forced her feet out the back door and across the pool deck. Judd smiled up at her kindly. “How are you holding up?”

Jessi shrugged as she stepped out of her sandals and sat beside him, slipping her feet into the cool water. They sat without speaking, each gently sliding feet through the water, watching the ripples cross the pool and return to them. Judd moved his foot under her leg and raised her foot to the surface. The fuchsia nail polish was chipped and peeling.

“How long since you had a pedicure, Jessi?” he asked gently.

She moved her foot away and looked at him sharply. “What exactly did your letter say, Judd?”

He exhaled forcefully. “Like I said, he was worried about you. He said that you’re submissive and that you might need somebody in your life until you find your way.” He glanced at her knowingly. “When was the last time your mind was quiet, little one?”

A tear slid down Jessi’s cheek, and she swiped at it roughly. “So, you’re my appointed Dominant, is that it?” she asked testily.

“It’s not like that.” Judd looked at her steadily. “Graham and I were friends. We talked about Dominance and submission for hours over the years. He trusted me. Trusted me with the one thing that meant the most to him in the world.”

He paused, gazing at her thoughtfully. “He didn’t want you to run into the wrong kind of man while you’re looking to ease your mind, to fill that emptiness that I see in your eyes.” Jessi stubbornly looked away and swiped at her cheek again.

“You know, it’s entirely up to you. I’m going to complete the list of things around your house. I promised him I would. But whether you accept me as a surrogate Dominant? Only you can decide that.”

He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “You miss knee time; I know you do,” he said softly. “A chance to just let go of all the concerns that weigh you down.” Jessi turned back to look at him, her expression softer. “I’m not talking about kinky sex, tying you up, and all that. I’m offering you a chance to clear your mind of everything; let me carry your burdens for a while.”

“Why? Why would you do that?” Her voice was strained.

Judd shrugged. “I’m Dominant. It’s what I crave, to be needed, to take care of a submissive.” He laughed lightly. “I’m a Dominant without a submissive, and you’re a submissive without a Dominant. For the time being, it works out well.”

He gazed at her steadily, kindness in his brown eyes. “Just say the word. Do you want knee time, little one?”

Another tear rolled down her cheek. And she nodded. “Yes,” she whispered. “I want knee time.”

He smiled patiently. “Yes, what, little one?”

“Yes, Master.”

Judd shook his head. “I’m not your Master, little one. Yes, Sir will do.”

Unconsciously, Jessi bowed her head submissively. “Yes, Sir, may I please have knee time?”

“Yes, you may,” he responded gently. “There is a big leather chair in your den. Be kneeling beside the chair in two minutes. Your eyes will be closed, and you will clear your mind. Do you understand, little one?”

“Yes, Sir.” Jessi stood and started to walk away but then turned and looked at him anxiously. “My clothes, Sir?”

“Your clothes are fine the way they are,” he answered. “Hurry. I’ll come to you shortly.”

“Yes, Sir,” she said, and she hurried into the house.

FOR SPARROW by Pandora Spocks

Golden Flogger Award Winner FOR SPARROW
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
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