LUKE & BELLA is Dream Dominant Book 1, and it’s where it all began for me. It’s the first book I ever published, so in many ways, it’s a sentimental favorite. It’s about an ace television reporter and a veteran photographer who are thrown together to create a new television travel program. Traveling the world, finding adventure at every turn, is it any wonder they fall in love?
I orginally started writing it just for myself. Then I began posting a chapter at a time on Tumblr, and much to my surprise, it gained quite a following. Shout out to Kinky Tinkerbella, LOL!
About halfway through, I stopped writing for a while, only to pick it up much later, and I posted it chapter by chapter here on WordPress until it was finished. By then, I’d met many writers who self-published their work and I started thinking, why not?
The Dream Dominant Collection, a series of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring light BDSM themes, is now four books strong. In addition to LUKE & BELLA, there is LOST & BOUND, 2018 Golden Flogger Award Winner FOR SPARROW, and WARRIOR MINE. At least one more book is planned, hopefully to be released in 2020.
For now, here’s a little snippet from the book that started it all.
While Luke showered, Bella went online to make hotel reservations for their next destination. Never a fan of huge corporate places, she located a nice boutique hotel near the city center. Still feeling a bit sheepish about her little tantrum when they arrived in Scotland, she debated over reserving one room or two.
Obviously we want the best suite or suites available. Does the nicest suite really have to have that name? Bella sighed in exasperation.
The cheeky part of her smirked in delight. What should I do? she wondered. One room or two?
This is not how you were raised, her father’s voice reprimanded sternly.
Her finger wavered over the touch pad.
“All yours, m’lady,” announced Luke, startling her and causing her to jump.
He’s always doing that, she thought.
You’re too jumpy, her cheeky self said. You know what’s good for that…
Bella shook her head and clicked, her decision made. “Great! I’ll try to be quick,” she said.
“Take your time,” he smiled, heading out onto the terrace in his bathrobe to smoke a cigar.
Bella hurried anyway, anxious to get on with the evening. Why did I agree to a ‘date’? she wondered.
Cheeky self was quick to answer: You know exactly why.
Her father’s voice was harsh: This will not end well.
“Oh, shut up,” she said aloud.
After showering, she quickly did her hair and make-up, dressing at last in a form-fitting sleeveless black sheath with sheer lace at the neckline.
Checking herself in the mirror she decided that she looked decent enough. She wondered what Luke would wear, smiling as she imagined the two of them entering the award winning restaurant, she in semi-formal attire and he in the khaki cargo pants and chambray shirt he seemed to favor.
Handsome, yes, but not appropriate for the occasion. Maybe she should suggest another restaurant. Hmm…
“All ready,” she called out as she opened the bedroom door. Luke wasn’t in the sitting room. She walked out onto the terrace but he wasn’t there, either. She looked around.
You always were stupid, her father’s voice condemned. You gave him what he wanted. Now he’s at McTavish’s, laughing at you.
Bella’s heart sank. He’s ditched me, she thought, feeling foolish. Why would he want to go out with me anyway? Threatened tears stung her eyes and the sudden lump in her throat felt as big as a pineapple.
A knock at the door broke into her thoughts. Bella cautiously opened it to find Luke standing in the hallway, mischievous smile on his face and a bouquet of pink and white roses in his hand. He was stunning in a black suit, crisp white shirt, and a black silk tie.
“Good evening, m’lady,” he said. “I’m here to pick you up for our dinner date.”
She was too surprised to say anything but she stepped back to let him in the room.
“You look beautiful, by the way,” he said as he walked past her.
“Um, thanks, so do you,” she stammered. “I mean…” she laughed lightly, dabbing at the corner of her eye with her pinky finger. “Where in the world did you get that suit?”
He turned and hit her with a dazzling smile. “I keep it in my ghetto luggage,” he smirked. “Because a guy never knows when he might wanna get all gussied up.”
She laughed again. “Well, you look really…nice.”
“I brought you these,” he said, gesturing with the roses.
“They’re so pretty, thanks!” she replied, blushing. “You didn’t have to, really, I mean…It’s a super nice thought, it’s sweet, actually, but like I said before, I don’t have any expectations, just because…you know…” she trailed off, trying to interpret the meaning of the look on his face.
Luke smiled patiently waiting for her to finish speaking. “They’re just flowers, Bella,” he said softly. He found a glass pitcher and put them in water. “Are you ready?” he asked.
“Yes, ready,” she answered.
As soon as they were seated at a table for two at Hadrian’s, Luke ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc. They ordered the shellfish bisque for their starter. For their main course Luke had the filet and Bella, the salmon. After the waiter left them, she looked at him across the flickering candle in the center of the table. Luke winked at her and her breath caught in her chest.
I can’t understand this effect he has on me, she thought.
“You really do look beautiful,” he said. “The candlelight and your hair…” he just smiled.
She could feel herself blushing. “You’re sweet,” she deflected.
“I’m truthful. Always,” he said firmly.
Their wine arrived and Bella was grateful for the distraction. The sommelier poured and left, and they sipped appreciatively.
“So…you were married a long time ago to a douche bag,” Luke summed up. “You never took the plunge again? Never even other long-term relationships?”
Bella sipped and shook her head. “No, I was too glad to get out of that mess. I’ve dated some, but never felt serious about anyone. I think I run guys off.”
“No really! I’m particular and I work all the time…if there’s overtime to be had, I’m the one who asks for it. I’d rather keep busy than have down time.”
She sipped again. “There was this stalker once,” she admitted. He looked at her across the table, concerned. “It was kind of bad,” she continued. “This was in Asheville. I met him in a bar, and, well…It became obvious that going out with him was a mistake. Turns out he met me on purpose. I ended up filing a restraining order. The station had to hire extra security. I was working the 11:00 show, always coming home around midnight.”
She paused, watching his reaction. “I got home one night and, I know this sounds weird, but something felt off. Maybe it was that my front mat was just a little crooked, I don’t know. Anyway, I turned around, got back in my car, and called the cops. They found the guy in my bedroom, under my bed, naked.”
“Holy shit, Bella!” Luke gasped. “I’d kill a motherfucker…”
“Yeah, that was a little freaky,” she said quietly. “He went to jail, of course. I got out of Asheville as quickly as I could.”
Dinner arrived and their conversation slowed as they enjoyed their food. After a few moments, Bella ventured, “Now the former Mrs. McGillicutty…Did she get tired of your being gone all the time?”
“Um, no, she got tired of being poor all the time,” he replied. “She went and found a sugar daddy.”
“You’re kidding,” Bella said. “She left you over money?”
“Yep, that’s it exactly,” he said ruefully.
Bella shook her head. “That’s the craziest thing I ever heard,” she said thoughtfully.
“Says the Ivy League debutante,” Luke said softly.
She gave him a sharp look. “I’m just saying, if I found a great guy, money wouldn’t even enter into it,” she said decisively.
“A great guy, huh?” he smirked, knowing he’d be rewarded with another stunning blush. He was not disappointed.
“Oh, you know what I’m saying,” she stammered.
Boldly, Bella countered. “How about you? Besides your marriage, did you have other long-term relationships?”
Luke set down his fork for a moment. “Well, I went right into a five-year relationship after my divorce. Big mistake, but at the time I’d lost my confidence, so…”
Bella looked at him sympathetically. Luke continued, “It was a bad situation I should have ended much sooner than I did. Hell,” he chuckled, “it was a situation I should never have started, but you live and learn. Then, shortly before I retired, I was with a woman for about two years. She left me for an eighty-year-old man.”
He laughed at Bella’s shocked expression. “He had money. What can I say?”
“Again with the money,” Bella murmured, shaking her head.
They continued enjoying their meal, moving their conversation toward the work they’d done and away from their personal stories.
During dessert, after a pause in conversation, Luke voiced, “So, you’re really not telling me where we’re going tomorrow?”
Bella smiled. “Nope.”LUKE & BELLA by Pandora Spocks