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?
FOR SPARROW, the third book in the Dream Dominant Collection, is the 2017 New Apple Medalist in Literary Erotica, and it’s a 2018 Golden Flogger Nominee for Best BDSM Book (BDSM Light).
It’s also special to me because I set it where I live, in Palm Beach County, Florida. I loved being able to send my characters to some of my favorite places. In the story, Dominant firefighter paramedic Judd lives in a townhouse on Juno Beach, which is one of south Florida’s best kept secrets, and my favorite beach anywhere.
In this scene, Judd and Jessi try a little surfing.
Before heading out the front door, she made one last check. The party supplies were already in the Volvo. She’d packed a bag for Buddy with his bowls, a Ziploc bag of food, his treats, his favorite toys, and a small blanket for him to use as a bed.
“I haven’t had to pack a diaper bag in years,” she laughed to herself.
As she pulled up to the front of Judd’s, she noticed a small piece of paper taped to the door.
I’m out back. J
Jessi shifted the straps of Buddy’s bag higher on her left shoulder and tugged his leash, urging the dog away from Judd’s front step and around the side of the building. A white PVC gate blocked her path, but the latch easily opened and she headed down the sidewalk in the direction of the beach. As she got to the corner of the building, she saw Judd, shirtless in a black pair of board shorts, leaning over a red surfboard that was resting on top of a rectangular teak wood table.
His back was to her as he moved his right hand in circles across the board. Eyes wide, she took a moment to appreciate the way the muscles rippled just beneath the bronze skin of his broad back and shoulders. The sight was utterly male, and Jessi sighed.
Buddy gave an excited yip and Judd turned around, smiling.
“You made it,” he grinned, dropping a pale lavender cake of wax.
“Yeah, we’re here,” she answered, suddenly nervous.
“I was just,” he hooked a thumb over his shoulder, “getting the board ready.”
Jessi moved to look at the board, dropping her bag into a chair at the table. Picking up the wax, she read the label and frowned. “Sex Wax?” She looked up at Judd.
He laughed. “Mr. Zog’s. It’s the best.” He laughed again at her blank look. “It helps you stick to the board.”
“Why do they call it ‘sex wax’?” she wondered aloud.
“I don’t know. Probably to sell more wax,” he laughed, admiring the blush that graced her cheeks.
“Okay, well,” she gathered her thoughts. “Here’s Buddy’s stuff.” She held up the navy-blue tote bag. “Hopefully you won’t need anything else. But call me if you do.”
“Jessi,” he suppressed an amused grin, “you’ll be gone a couple of hours. I’m sure killer and I can batch’ it for that long.” He winked at her, reveling in the way her blush deepened.
“Of course, I didn’t mean, well, I just…” She looked at him helplessly.
He threw his head back and laughed. “It’s all good, Jessi. Don’t worry. Go do what you need to, and then we’ll get you up on a surfboard.”
A few hours later, Jessi and the grandmother-to-be loaded the last of the gifts into the back of a huge black SUV. Back inside, the guest of honor sank into a chair at the head table.
“That was fun,” she said, “but I’m exhausted.”
Jessi smiled warmly. “I’m happy you enjoyed your day. You two head on home. I’ll take care of everything else. Congratulations again to you and your family.”
After they left, Jessi settled with the hotel and carried her supplies to her car. She was tired, too, but she felt a flutter of excitement. Throughout the party, her mind had drifted to the picture of Judd leaning over his surfboard. She couldn’t deny her attraction, but she felt silly at the same time. He was at least five years younger, and clearly, he dated on occasion.
Still, leaving romance out of the equation, she’d loved paddle boarding, and today she’d give surfing a whirl.
Undoubtedly, my children will be impressed, she grinned to herself.
As she pulled up to Judd’s again, the note was gone from his door, so she knocked lightly. A moment later, Judd opened the door, grinning broadly. “Hey, Jessi. How was your party?” He stepped back to let her in.
“Oh,” she sighed, “it went well. Everyone seemed to have a good time. And I got a referral for a bridal shower, so that’s always good.”
“Good.” He motioned with his head toward the back. Jessi followed him to the combination kitchen and den. Buddy lay curled on his blanket, eyes slammed shut and snoring loudly. “Killer wore himself out playing in the surf,” Judd laughed softly.
Jessi smiled affectionately. “I imagine he had a wonderful time.”
Judd nodded. “Now it’s your turn. Go get changed. The water is perfect.”
Using Judd’s powder room off the main entry, Jessi quickly changed out of her sundress and into the same blue tankini she’d worn paddle boarding. Hesitating, she held up the beach cover-up and decided against it—they were going straight to the beach, it seemed like a waste of time.
Returning to the den, she met Judd’s soft brown eyes, which sparkled with excitement. “Let’s go,” he said.
Jessi followed him through the glass sliders and out onto the patio. The red surfboard she’d seen earlier was now leaning against the wall. Judd tucked the board under his arm, grabbed a small red and white cooler, and headed out across the sand toward the aqua water of the Atlantic. Jessi picked up the folded towels sitting on the corner of the table and hurried to catch up with him.
Stopping short of the water, Judd lay the board on the sand, pointing it toward the townhouse. “Now, what you’re going to do is, you’re going to rest on your belly until we find the right wave. Then I’ll let go and you can ride into shore. After I let go, you can pop up on your feet.”
Jessi grimaced. “Eek! Are you sure I’m ready to ‘pop up’?”
Judd laughed kindly. “You’ve got this, little one. It might take a few tries, but I promise, this is something you can do.”
He had her practice a few times with the board on the sand, gently coaching her into the proper position.
Taking her hand, he helped her stand. “Are you ready?”
Jessi breathed out, absently wiping her palms on her suit. “Let’s do this.” She grinned up at him, a glint of determination in her eye.
“That’s my girl,” he said proudly.
Before they took the red surfboard into the water, Judd secured his GoPro to the front tip. “We’re going to get your first time surfing on video.”
“Oh, boy,” she replied, rolling her eyes.
When they were knee deep, Judd placed the board in the water and had Jessi lie on top. “The wax is what helps you stick,” he explained. “Normally, you’d paddle yourself out, but I’ll pull you for now.” He gripped the rail, guiding the board past the breakers. Now waist deep, Judd rotated the board so that Jessi faced the beach. Standing behind her, he held onto the back of the surf board. “All we have to do is wait for the perfect wave.”
Bobbing up and down, Jessi held herself as Judd had prescribed—feet together, hands beneath her chest, head up. Anticipation pinged through her veins, her earlier tiredness forgotten.
“Okay, Jessi, this is the one,” Judd called. “I’m letting go.”
Jessi squealed as she rode the crest of the small wave all the way to shore. When she reached the shallow water, she jumped off to see Judd wading along behind her.
“You didn’t pop up,” he grinned.
“I got so excited, I forgot,” she laughed.
“Do you want to try again?”
“Okay,” he turned the board around, “let’s do it again.”
For the next hour, Jessi tried wave after wave, attempting to stand and losing her balance, surfacing to splutter and cough, before trying again. Finally, after about a dozen tries, Judd let go and watched as Jessi pushed herself to her feet, and knees bent, rode all the way to shore.
“I did it! Did you see me? I totally did it!” Her expression was jubilant.
“I did see you!” Judd wrapped his arms around her, twirling her in a wide circle. “You nailed it!”
The pair sank onto a towel spread out over the sand. Lifting the lid of the small cooler, Judd offered Jessi a cool bottled water, taking one for himself as well. They drank thirstily, watching the waves continue to gently crash onto the sand.
After a moment, Judd turned to Jessi. “Want to go again?”
She shook her head. “I’d rather watch you do it the way it’s supposed to be done.”
He nodded happily, handed her his water bottle, and headed out into the water with the surfboard. As he paddled out, Judd realized that he wanted nothing more than for Jessi to watch him. The idea of impressing her thrilled him more than he could say.
On the beach, Jessi watched as Judd paddled himself out further than they had been. As he turned to face her, she shielded her eyes with her hand, squinting against the brilliant sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water. A swell approached him from behind and Jessi saw him paddle to catch it, popping up just as the wave broke. He cut back and forth across the white foam until the crest dissolved, and he twisted the board to head back out and wait for another wave.
Jessi hugged her knees, watching Judd’s surfing expertise over the next half-hour. Finally, board under his arm, Judd grinned as he returned to where she sat, leaning over her to shake water all over her.
They both giggled as he flopped down beside her. Jessi offered him another bottled water, and he accepted, chugging gratefully until the bottle was empty.
“That was amazing,” she gushed. “How long have you been surfing?”
Judd leaned back on his elbows. “I tried it as a kid. We’d come down to Florida from North Carolina on vacation, and I always tried to surf. But I didn’t really get into it until college. And of course, when I moved here,” he nodded at the townhouse. “I always wanted to live on the beach. Surfing helps me wind down after work.”
Jessi thought of the patients he’d mentioned, the horrible work week he’d had. “You work hard,” she observed softly. “It’s good that you take time for yourself.”