It was the job of a lifetime…
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, Bella has had it with her snooty sister-in-law. Warning! Family drama ahead…
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 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 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 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, 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