When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband Graham dies unexpectedly, she’s devastated. She’s lost her husband, best friend, father of her grown children…and her Dominant.
But it turns out that Graham had an inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protege in the BDSM lifestyle, firefighter paramedic Judd Farris, to be the one to look after Jessi, at least until she finds her footing again.
But a platonic Dom/sub relationship is a damn odd arrangement. Jessi finds herself increasingly attracted to Judd. He’s determined to keep his promise to his friend. Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary arrangement?
Here’s a sneak peek from FOR SPARROW.
In the quiet of the morning, Jessi poured herself a cup of coffee and sipped carefully. The kids were still asleep, a fact that didn’t surprise her in the least. Glancing at the clock on the stove, she figured she’d give them another hour or so before she tried to tempt them awake with the smell of homemade waffles.
She heard the slam of a car door out front. That, combined with Buddy’s beeline to the front door, let her know that Judd had arrived. Smiling to herself, she carried her coffee with her, opening the door to let Buddy tear across the lawn to greet his favorite human.
Judd set down his tool box and stooped to ruffle the puppy’s ears, then stood, grinning broadly. “Good morning, Jessi!”
She felt herself grinning back. “Hi, there. How are you this morning?”
“I’m great. Am I too early?” He frowned slightly.
“Not for me, you’re not. The kids are all still asleep. Can I get you some coffee?”
He nodded. “Coffee sounds great, actually.”
Judd followed Jessi into the kitchen and stood leaning against the center island. “So everybody got in okay?”
“They did. We didn’t get to bed until after 1:00,” she handed him a light blue mug of steaming coffee, “but I woke up about 7:00 and couldn’t sleep anymore.”
He accepted the mug and sipped gratefully. “This is good.”
She smiled at him. “I’m planning on making waffles for breakfast. Are you hungry?”
Judd’s eyes widened. “Waffles? I had a granola bar on my way over, but there’s no way I’d pass up homemade waffles.”
Jessi patted the counter. “Have a seat, then. Waffles are coming right up.”
Judd sank onto one of the high stools and sipped his coffee, watching Jessi expertly measuring ingredients into a large yellow mixing bowl. Soon the aroma of freshly cooked waffles filled the kitchen.
“There you are,” said Jessi, sliding a pair of crispy golden waffles in front of him. “Syrup? I have maple and strawberry.”
“Oh, man, I’m never going to get to that pool pump today.” He laughed as he lifted the bottle of maple syrup and poured a generous helping all over his breakfast.
Jessi sat with him and nibbled on a waffle of her own as they chatted amiably about their week. Soon enough, Judd was finished.
“That was delicious,” he said, carrying his plate to the sink, where he rinsed it and placed it in the dishwasher. “Thank you!”
Jessi blushed slightly. “Oh, it’s just waffles, but I’m glad you liked them.”
“I did. Very much.” He held her gaze for a moment. “Well, off to the pool pump, then.”
“Thanks so much, Judd. I’ll send Adam out there after he eats.”
From the back door, Judd waved, and headed out to the pool deck.
Jessi stood watching him through the window, Buddy snuffling around his feet as he set to work. She smiled to herself, happy to have Judd there at her house.
“Ummm, what smells so good?”
She turned at the sleepy voice of her son. “Good morning, sweetie.” Crossing the kitchen, she hugged him tightly, kissing his cheek. “Are you hungry?”
“For your famous waffles? Always!” Adam claimed the stool recently vacated by Judd.
As Jessi ladled more batter onto the waffle iron, Adam’s brow furrowed. “Um, Mom? There’s a guy out by the pool.”
She glanced out the window. “Oh, that’s Judd. He’s working on the pool pump. I told him you could help him in a while.”
“Sure,” he shrugged, taking a bite of his breakfast.
Cara came down the stairs followed closely by Trevor. Both were dressed in shorts and casual shirts, ready for the day.
“Good morning, you two. Did you sleep okay?” Jessi asked, dropping more batter onto the hot appliance.
“Hi, Mommy,” Cara murmured as she sank onto a stool beside her brother. She yawned sleepily.
“I slept great, Mrs. Crenshaw, thanks. And something smells delicious,” Trevor added as he sat beside Cara.
“Good, I’m glad. I thought I’d do a homemade breakfast this morning. Maybe we can go to brunch tomorrow before you leave.” She eyed the three of them. “So, what plans do you have for the day? It looks like a perfect beach day. You can pack a lunch and take it up to Juno. It’s breezy, so there might be kite boarders today.”
Jessi noticed that Adam and Trevor both looked to Cara uneasily. Cara sat up straight. “Well, Mom,” she hesitated.
Suspicious, Jessi narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms and leaning back against the counter.
Cara cleared her throat and continued. “We wanted to talk about Dad’s stuff.”
Cara nodded. “His clothes and tools and things. You haven’t started doing anything with them yet?”
Jessi sighed. “No. I haven’t packed up Dad’s things.”
“That’s why we’re here. I figured you hadn’t done it yet. That’s what we’re going to do today.” Cara’s face, so precisely a mix of Graham’s and Jessi’s own, was determined.
Feeling panic rising, Jessi took a slow breath. “No. We’re not packing your dad’s things today. If that’s the only reason you came home this weekend, you’re going to be disappointed. I will pack up your father’s belongings when I’m ready to do it, and not a moment before.”
“Look, Mother,” Cara slid off the stool and came around the island toward Jessi. Her short auburn hair hinted at her stubbornness as her light blue eyes glinted sharply. “It’s been long enough. You have to let go. I read an article, and…”
“I don’t care what you read, you do not decide for me when to get rid of my husband’s belongings.” Jessi knew her voice was getting louder and she didn’t care. Adam and Trevor looked like they wanted to crawl into a hole.
“Denial! It’s called denial. Dad’s dead. And hanging onto his things won’t bring him back!”
Adam, ever the peacemaker, tried to intervene. “Maybe we should just drop it, Cara.”
“Shut up, Adam!” she snapped.
“It’s not denial, it’s a process. I’ll clean out his things when I’m ready. Don’t push me on this, Cara!”
Outside, his focus on the inner workings of the pool pump, Judd became aware of raised voices. Glancing up, he could see Jessi and her daughter squaring off in the kitchen. He gnawed his lower lip thoughtfully. It really wasn’t his business. But his position was to protect Jessi.
Even from her kids? He debated another moment before setting down the wrench in his hand and heading to the kitchen door.
“Someone has to, Mother. Someone has to help you when you can’t seem to help yourself.”
“Everything okay in here, Jessi?” Judd’s tone suggested quiet authority.
Cara whirled around. “And who in the hell is this?!” Dramatically, she flung her hand in Judd’s direction.
Judd started to answer. “I’m…”
“What the fuck makes you think you can come into my house and speak to my guests like that?!” Jessi shrieked.
The kitchen fell silent. Neither Adam nor Cara had ever heard their mother use profanity. Eyes wide and mouths open, they both stared at Jessi.
She took a calming breath and continued softly. “This is Judd. He’s a friend of your father’s, and he’s here today fixing the pool pump.” She met Judd’s eyes with a grateful look.
Adam recovered first. Proffering a hand, he introduced himself. “Hi, man. I’m Adam, that’s my sister, Cara, and this is Cara’s boyfriend, Trevor.”
Judd nodded to them all. “Nice to meet you.” He looked to Adam and Trevor. “Gentlemen, maybe you can help me out back while the ladies sort this out, what do you say?”
“Sure thing,” Trevor answered, glad to have an excuse to scuttle out of the line of fire.
The silence in the kitchen was deafening. Neither Jessi nor Cara had moved, and they stood, arms crossed, facing each other. Finally, Jessi spoke.
“Look, Cara…I’m trying to receive this in the spirit I’m sure you meant it to be. I know you care and you’re trying to help. But I’m not ready to go through all of your dad’s things. I’m just not.”
Cara tossed her head impatiently. “You’re not even aware of your level of denial.”
Jessi’s eyes flashed angrily. “Don’t talk to me like I’m some senile old woman. I’m forty-fucking-five! I run my own successful business!”
Cara flinched at her mother’s use of the F-bomb for the second time in as many minutes. “But Mom!
“No buts. This is my decision, not yours.” Jessi crossed the kitchen and sank onto a stool at the counter. “If there’s something in particular of your father’s that you’d like to have, just let me know. I’ll be sure to put it aside for you.”
Jessi shook her head definitively. “That’s my final word on the matter.” She held her daughter’s gaze challengingly.
Finally, Cara looked away. “Okay. I didn’t mean to start a whole thing, I just thought…” She wrapped her arms around Jessi. “I’m sorry. I just miss him so much.”
Jessi felt the sting of unwanted tears. “I know you do, baby. I miss him, too.”
FOR SPARROW, Dream Dominant Book 3, is the 2017 New Apple Award Medalist in Literary Erotica, and it’s the 2018 Golden Flogger Award Winner for Best BDSM Book in BDSM Light.