Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

He didn’t count on falling for the New York lawyer
sent to broker a land deal.
But has she betrayed him?

Hunter McFall had no intention of making a deal with New York land developers for a parcel of his Idaho cattle ranch. But when their lawyer Poppy Chastain showed up, he pondered whether he should reconsider.

He never thought to fall in love a second time, but then, he never counted on a smart, spunky, sexy-as-hell redhead to grace his ranch again.

But behind the scenes, someone is working against both of them.

Here’s a snippet from HUNTER’S PRIDE:

When Hunter caught up with Rolly and the others, they had just rescued a calf that had gotten stuck in the muck at the edge of the river.  A quick check confirmed that the wayward little bovine was none the worse for the wear and he was sent scurrying back to his mother who’d observed incident from a concerned distance. 

Rolly assured Hunter that they had everything under control, so Hunter decided to head toward the fenceline near the gate.  On the way back from Ketchum, he’d noticed three posts not far from the gate that were in need of attention.

With Cheyenne nibbling grass nearby, Hunter inspected a loose fence post, wiggling it to assess how bad it might be.  A light honk from the highway drew his attention, and he looked up to see Bill Albright, the local sheriff, in his official SUV.  Hunter raised a hand in a wave, and the other man waved back as he turned through the open gate and into the drive.

“Hey’ya, Bill,” Hunter called as he strode toward the truck.

Albright opened his door and got out, nodding as he did.  “Hunter.  How’s the ranch?”

“Not bad.  We’ve got a healthy bunch of new calves so far this season.  What can I do for you?”

The sheriff’s face was grim.  “I’m here on some unpleasant business, I’m afraid.”  He turned and reached into the truck where he retrieved a bundle of papers stapled to a legal-sized piece of blue cardstock. 

Hunter frowned as he took the document from Bill.  “What’s this?  I’m being sued?”

The lawman shrugged slightly.  “Not sued, exactly.  It’s eminent domain.  The state is taking part of your land.”

“Taking part of my land?”  Quickly, Hunter scanned the front page, trying to make sense of the legal-speak. 

“Well, they’ll pay you for it, but between you and me, it’s pennies on the dollar.  It’s legalized theft if you ask me.  But they don’t ask me, they just make me serve you the paperwork.”

Realization dawned on Hunter as he turned the page.  “Son of a bitch!  This is the land Slade & Howell has been trying to buy from me.  They offered me just short of a king’s ransom to sell, and I said no.  Can they claim eminent domain on my land?” 

“This comes all the way from Boise.  If I had to guess, I’d say those resort developers cozied up to the Governor, or somebody on his staff anyway, and got him to sign off on this.  Undoubtedly promised them something in return, but good luck proving it.”

Hunter suddenly thought of Poppy, and he cut his eyes in the direction of the house.  “They never intended to buy the land from me.  They were just biding their time until they could take it.”

The sheriff lowered his eyes and exhaled sharply.  “I’m sorry as I can be, Hunter.  Of course, you’re entitled to get your own lawyer and fight this.”

Hunter laughed humorlessly.  “But who has deeper pockets?  Me or some international real estate developer?” 

He scrubbed a frustrated hand across his mouth.  “Son of a bitch!”

Bill clapped him on the shoulder.  “Again, Hunter, I’m sorry.  Next time I see you at the North Star, I’ll buy you a drink.”  With that, he climbed back into his vehicle. 

After Bill drove away, Hunter stood anchored to the same spot, shaking as adrenaline thrummed through his veins. 

She knew.  All along, she knew they were just going to take my land.  That’s why she didn’t fight harder to get me to take the deal.  It never mattered.

Brusquely, he grabbed Cheyenne’s reins and swung himself up, his head spinning as he pushed the horse into a gallop.  Visions of Poppy streamed through his mind, Poppy smiling at him across the dinner table, naked by the fireplace in his bedroom, her excitement at the birth of the new calf, on her knees in the mountain cabin. 

She played me.  I was dumb enough to think I was falling in love, and the whole time, I was falling for a liar and a cheat.  How stupid can I be?
By the time he reached the barn, he was livid.  He stopped Cheyenne short and jumped down, leading the horse into the barn.  He didn’t expect to see Poppy by the calving pen watching the twin calves that had arrived overnight. 

When she saw him, she smiled happily.  “Are they just the cutest things ever?  I’ve already named them.  This one is–”

He dropped Cheyenne’s reins and reached her in three angry strides.  “What the fuck is this?” he spat, whipping the papers at her.

Awkwardly, she caught them, frowning as she did.  “What’s wrong?  What do you mean?”  She unfolded the document and tilted her head, squinting at the print. 

“Eminent domain?”  She looked up at Hunter.  “Where did this come from?”

He folded his arms.  “You tell me.  The sheriff just brought me this little Valentine.”  He stalked over to a stack of feed bags and kicked them angrily.

“I don’t understand,” Poppy murmured, “this is crazy.”  She flipped through the pages.

“Slade & Howell never meant to pay me anything for my land.  You came here as a distraction until they could get this little baby pushed through the state offices.”  He snatched the papers out of her hands.

Eyes wide, Poppy shook her head.  “No, they told me to offer you the terms in the agreement.  Mr. Slade himself authorized me to offer you ten percent more.”

“Because they never intended to have to follow through with it.  Hell, why pay for land when you can just steal it?”

Poppy shook her head.  “No, this isn’t right.  I’m going to call them and find out what’s going on.”

“Just stop the bullshit, Poppy!  Stop with this innocent act.  You knew exactly what you were doing.” 

“What?  You can’t possibly think I had anything to do with this.”

Hunter nodded angrily.  “I suppose this is how big business operates, right?  Just lie, cheat, and steal until you reach the top.”

“No, Hunter, I never–”

“Stop lying!” he shouted.  “You come in here like sex on legs, looking like my dead wife,” he spat, “and like an idiot, I fall for your act.  Hell, I was even stupid enough to imagine I was in love with you.”

Tears streamed down her face, and she took a step toward him.  “Please, Hunter, I had nothing to do with this, you have to believe me.  If they lied to you, they lied to me, too.”

Hunter looked away, shaking his head.  “Out.  I want you out.  Now.”  His voice was chillingly calm.

She took another step toward him.  “Hunter, please–”

“Now!  Or do I have to start throwing your shit onto the driveway?  I want you gone!  Go the hell back where you came from.  Congratulations.  You got what you wanted.”  He turned on his heel and stalked out of the barn.

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/HuntersPride

Weekend Excerpt–Making Out Old-School

She was the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

After the release of LOST & BOUND, Dream Dominant Book 2, some readers were interested in hearing the story of two supporting characters. Jackie Walker, sister of Blake from Lost & Bound, and Scott Nielsen, Blake’s best friend, were clearly in a relationship by the end of that book, and people wanted to know the steamy details.

So I wrote WARRIOR MINE, Jackie and Scott’s story. Jackie is a tough single mom, working hard to run the remote Canadian guest lodge that has been in her family for generations. When her brother’s friend Scott shows up one day hoping to base his new wilderness survival school at Lake Miranda Lodge, Jackie is immediately attracted to the tall nordic outdoorsman. And he likes her, too.

But he’s Dominant. Is there any way this fierce, independent woman will gift him with her submission?

Here’s a teaser from WARRIOR MINE:

Forty-five minutes later, they drove into Fairson, the next town north of Eliot Lake. As they drove past darkened shop windows, Scott glanced at Jackie, enjoying the fact that she had no idea where they were going. Just outside the town limits, Scott turned onto a small road leading out through the forest.

Before long, they came to a place where the countryside opened onto a broad field beside a small lake. Rows of vehicles were parked in the field, facing a large inflatable screen. Jackie’s expression was quizzical.

Scott had to laugh. “I saw a flyer in Manitoulin today. I couldn’t resist.”
They drove through the gate and followed instructions to the next open space, where Scott backed in.

“You’ll never guess what they’re showing tonight,” he said as he opened his door. “Stay right there, I’ll come around.”

Pleased that she did as she was told, Scott opened Jackie’s door with a flourish. “My lady?” Jackie accepted his hand and allowed him to help her out of the truck.

From behind the seat, he retrieved the black duffel bag, then closed the door.

“Are you going to tell me what they’re showing?” Jackie asked.

“Nope.” With a smug grin, he led her to the back of the truck, where he lowered the tailgate. He unzipped the bag and removed a wool blanket with a large red and black plaid pattern. With a shake, he unfurled the blanket in the truck bed.

He hoisted himself up, then helped Jackie climb up, too. They settled, leaning against the truck’s cab. From the bag, Scott produced a bottle of white wine and a pair of plastic wine glasses. Jackie held the glasses as he poured.

"And if you'll hold mine for just a second..." Scott reached into the bag, this time withdrawing a bag of popcorn. This he placed between them.

"One last thing," he said, holding up a finger. He took a small black device from the outer pocket of the bag. "FM receiver," he said.

"You thought of everything, didn't you?" Jackie observed. He gave her a wink. "I wanted to impress you."

She sipped her wine and smiled, gazing out over the field. Scott wondered what she was thinking.

Beyond the crowd at the end of the field, the screen lit up and the opening credits began to play. Scott watched Jackie carefully.

She gasped lightly. “The Birds!”

Scott grinned. “See? When I found out, I couldn’t resist.”

**

As flocks of homicidal avians descended on Bodega Bay, Scott rested his arm on the back of the truck’s cab with Jackie nestled against him. Though he was as much a Hitchcock fan as the next guy, he couldn’t have cared less about the movie. Having his arm around Jackie drew his thoughts in a completely different direction.

With his middle finger, he drew lazy circles on her exposed shoulder and watched as she kept her eyes on the movie screen and pretended to ignore the goose bumps that appeared on her arms. He leaned down to press soft kisses where he’d drawn circles, lingering to drag his goatee across her skin. When she finally looked up at him, he fixed her with a heated gaze, watching as she unconsciously caught her lower lip between her teeth.

Lowering his head, he stopped just short of touching his lips to hers. He heard her breath hitch and watched as she closed her eyes and parted her lips just slightly. Then he dipped his head, accepting her invitation, claiming her mouth. Jackie let out a low moan and Scott increased his intensity as they slid down onto the blanket.

His hand resting on her hip, he slowly drew it up her side, pausing to cup her right breast, the one he’d glimpsed that night when she’d come to him. Easily, he located her pert nipple, capturing it between his thumb and forefinger. Jackie broke their kiss to gasp as he pulled it taut. He gazed down at her, assessing the heat in her eyes before renewing his assault on her lips.

Captured once again by his kiss, Jackie slid her hand between them to stroke the rigid shaft held hostage by his jeans, and this time, it was Scott who moaned. Knowing better than to let her tempt his cock for much longer, he gently slid her hand around to his ass, while he eased his knee between her thighs, parking it against her sex. He felt the heat there as she ground against him.

Determined to keep a cool head, Scott slowly began to pull back, shifting to light kisses along the side of her neck and returning his knee to a more neutral perch, gradually bringing them back to their surroundings. Straightening their clothes, they were still catching their breath as the movie ended.

WARRIOR MINE by Pandora Spocks

WARRIOR MINE is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Weekend Excerpt–New WIP–Midnight Cove

Still waters harbor dark secrets.

After the release of HUNTER’S PRIDE, I’m taking a brief break from cowboys before I go back to finishing ANNA’S HEART, Redheads & Ranchers Book 3.

I’m working on a spooky, steamy new novella that will be part of a top-secret anthology coming out just in time for Halloween. For this weekend’s excerpt, I’m giving you a sneak peek at MIDNIGHT COVE.

Here’s the blurb:

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?

Read the (unedited) Prologue of MIDNIGHT COVE.

He wasn’t sure just when he’d known that he was dead. 

That realization had taken a while, although the precise concept of time was now rather nebulous in his conscious thought, more a collection of seasonal impressions than an actual awareness of the passing of days and months and years.  But the knowledge that he had somehow slipped his mortal coil had been an adjustment, to say the least.

He had no idea how he’d arrived at this state.  He’d been going along, living his life and then he simply…wasn’t.  

His current existence seemed to be limited to the house in which he’d grown up.  Although there were times when he wasn’t anywhere at all. He wasn’t sure which situation he preferred.  

On the one hand, he’d been happy to be near his family.  But they couldn’t see him or hear him. Not even when he screamed in their faces.  

That was when he’d known.  He’d loved his parents and brother dearly. Seeing them, being near them, but being unable to connect with them was frustrating as hell. 

 Always nagging him was the question of what had happened.  He’d been a healthy, strong 23-year-old man, one with no bad habits like smoking or drugs.  Okay, yeah, the occasional beer, maybe, but nothing that should have led to his death.  

It seemed odd, too.  Although he was stuck in his family home, he was almost certain he remembered living on his own, in an apartment, maybe.  That part of his before was foggy to him.

At first, knowing he was dead was terrifying.  But after a while, he’d settled into a sort of non-routine.  He’d watched as his family moved on, his parents and his brother, all eventually abandoning the family home.  Maybe they were dead too, his parents anyway, but if they were, he hadn’t seen them. Apparently, the afterlife didn’t work like that.

After his family was gone, it seemed to him like the house sat empty for a long time, and he’d enjoyed the solitude. The way he saw it, if he was going to be alone, he might as well actually be alone.

But then he’d watched as one day, a slightly stooped man with white hair had arrived.  The man had thrown the doors and windows wide open, carried out piles of useless old things, and spruced up the place, top to bottom.  

The next thing he knew, the house was overrun with strangers.  They just came tromping in with their suitcases and their inflatable rafts and their bathing suits.

Summer folk.  He’d recognize them anywhere.  While his family had been permanent lakeside residents, most of the other houses were used as summer rentals, vacation retreats for families who spent the rest of their year somewhere in busy cities like Columbia or Greenville or Charlotte.  The kind of people whose idea of a perfect vacation was a week or two spent in a cottage by the lake.

He hadn’t been happy to share his space, and he’d made his position known.  And he’d sent more than one family scrambling back to wherever they’d come from, dropping snorkels and beach towels in their hurry to leave.

Of course, there had also been the ones who’d been too absorbed with themselves to notice they were shacked up for the week with an unhappy spirit.  That was annoying. During those times, he did his best to just stay out of the way. Because eventually, the seasons would turn and he’d be alone again.

Gazing out the attic window at the oak leaves that were just beginning to take on a kaleidoscope of fall colors, he sighed with satisfaction.  If he couldn’t be happy about his existence, he could at least be content.   

The crunching of gravel caught his attention and he saw a work-worn white pickup truck pull up the long drive and stop in front of the house.  An older man, the one he’d seen before, got out of the truck and stood staring down the driveway. The man reminded him a bit of his grandfather, he mused. 

A minute later, a pale yellow Volkswagen beetle puttered up to the house, pulling alongside the pickup.  The driver’s door swung open, and a pretty redhead stepped out, pulling a dark green hooded sweatshirt more tightly around herself against the cool of the fall afternoon.

She moved her sunglasses to the top of her head and glanced up in his direction.  For a moment, he’d have sworn she saw him. Alarmed, he stepped away from the window.

What was this?  Another renter? It wasn’t summer.  Cautiously, he peered out the window, checking to see if the seasons had switched on him again without notice.  No, the trees were just beginning to shift into their fall hues. Days were getting shorter, and before long, the whole lake would be a riot of color.

Now he heard voices downstairs.  This was an unforeseen circumstance.  What now?

He shrugged to himself and smiled.  A woman alone? He would have her out by nightfall.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

Keep watching right here for details about the upcoming anthology.

While you wait, why not catch up on the Redheads & Ranchers Series?
JENNY’S VOICE and HUNTER’S PRIDE are available now.
ANNA’S HEART is due out by the end of the year.