Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

Michael Rannigan is running rogue.

At the end of RESISTING RISK, Book 1 of Rannigan’s Redemption, Maggie Flynn abruptly left the law firm she joined right out of law school. Since Maggie’s abrupt departure from the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny, Michael has been in a tailspin. As he limps along in the new normal, he misses her more than he ever imagined.

Maggie misses Michael as well. But she makes the best of her new job at the District Attorney’s office. Occasionally they cross paths in court, each assessing the other. Like Michael, she finds herself making questionable personal choices.

When opportunity knocks for Michael he leaps at it, maybe as much to avoid Maggie’s absence as anything else. The fact that his decision impacts everyone else at the firm doesn’t slow him down at all.

Then comes news that shakes him to his core. Now that he’s burned all his bridges, who will be there to help him pick up the pieces?

In this scene, Maggie gets a better glimpse into the character of her new love interest, retired MLB pitcher turned sports broadcaster Bobby “Beau” Beaulieu.

Bobby pulled away from the curb in front of Maggie’s apartment. He’d donned a pair of mirrored aviators when they’d gotten in the car. He glanced at her and, seeing her watching him, he winked. “We’ll just get this taken care of and be on our way.”

“Is this a work thing you have to do?” Maggie asked.

Bobby pursed his lips. “Sort of, I guess. There’s a family from Dallas, and they have a son with leukemia. They’ve been flown into town for the weekend to see all the sights and stuff. I believe they’re going to tonight’s exhibition game. Anyway, this is a kind of ‘meet and greet’ out at the stadium. I’ll hang out with the kid for a while, toss a ball around. It probably won’t take too long, I wouldn’t want to drag you to something that would take all day.”

Maggie frowned thoughtfully. “Is this a ‘Make-A-Wish’ kind of thing?”

Bobby nodded. “Um-hmm. The foundation made all the arrangements, sent me the letter from the dad. The boy’s name is Tyler, and apparently, he’s a big fan.”

Maggie smiled slowly, turning towards him. “You mean, out of all the things this boy could ask for, he wanted to meet you?”

He shrugged uncomfortably. “It’s a hell of a thing, isn’t it?”

“I think that’s pretty special,” Maggie said. “Have you ever done this before?”

Again, he tilted his head uncomfortably, eyes straight ahead, and he sighed. “I think this is my twelfth one.”

Maggie straightened back in her seat, smiling out the front window. “Pretty amazing.”

The guard at the stadium gate directed Bobby to the players’ parking area where they were met by a pretty young woman wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard.

“Hi, Beau, welcome. I’m Natalie, we’ve been chatting back and forth all week. I’ll be working to make today’s event smooth.”

“Thanks, Natalie,” he said, blasting her with his high-wattage grin, “This is Maggie. She’s kindly consented to tag along with me today.”

Maggie smiled and said hello. Bobby stepped closer to Natalie. “That thing we talked about? Did that stuff get delivered?”

Natalie smiled. “It did indeed. We’ve got you set up in the locker room.” She checked her watch. “Okay, now the family is supposed to arrive in about fifteen minutes. Do you want to go get changed?”

Bobby nodded. “Yeah, we’ll head in that direction. Thanks, Natalie.”

He led Maggie through a series of doors and passages and finally into a huge locker room. The first thing Maggie noticed was the navy carpet sprinkled with the white NY logo with a huge white NY in the center of the carpet. All around the perimeter of the room were stations comprised of honey oak cabinets, a low counter, and a clothing rack. In front of each station was a white cushioned folding chair, again featuring the NY logo.

At the far end of the room, Maggie saw a seating area made up of a large tan leather sofa flanked by a pair of matching leather armchairs. A low coffee table completed the seating group but it was draped in a navy blue cloth covering something on its top.

Maggie followed Bobby to the only station that seemed occupied. On the clothing rack hung a single uniform. “Here we go,” Bobby said. “I’ll just get changed.” He gripped the bottom of his sweater and pulled it over his head. Maggie stood clasping her hands, uncertain of what to do. Bobby grinned and unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned the fly of his jeans.

“Oh, hey now,” Maggie exclaimed, turning away from him. “I’ll just wander over here.” She heard Bobby’s low chuckle and felt her cheeks flush.

“Hey, what’s over here?” she asked, lifting the corner of the blue drape on the coffee table.

“What it should be,” replied Bobby as he pulled on his uniform pants, “is a bunch of Little League uniforms. Why don’t you take off the cloth so we can make sure?”

Maggie carefully lifted the drape from the table to reveal stacks of red child-sized jerseys and white baseball pants. There were also red socks and boxes of cleats. She noticed some cartons on the floor between the table and the sofa. “There are some boxes over here, too.”

Bobby came over, tucking in his blue jersey as he walked. “They look good,” he nodded approvingly. “And these,” he said, opening one of the cartons, “should be balls, bats, and gloves.” He frowned slightly, checking the other box. “Oh, and caps. Good, it’s all here.”

Maggie looked up to ask about the uniforms but found herself distracted. She was unable to stop what she knew was a goofy smile spreading across her face. Bobby grinned wryly. “What?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’ve never seen you in a uniform before. It’s…” she stopped, blushing furiously. Bobby waited, eyes twinkling with amusement. “Well, I suddenly find myself strangely drawn to baseball,” she said, chewing absently on her thumbnail.

Bobby laughed. “We’ll make a convert of you yet.”

Maggie remembered her question. “What is all this for?”

“When I read the information about this kid, Tyler? The dad is the coach for his Little League team. He mentioned that most of the kids on the team come from single-parent families, the kind that don’t have the money for uniforms and stuff. I ordered a bunch of things for them. Figure we’ll have to ship it all back to Texas but I wanted to be able to give it to them today.”

Maggie gazed up at him in wonder. “You bought all this equipment and stuff?”

Bobby shrugged. “You can’t play baseball without the essentials. And uniforms mean a lot. I know they did when I was a kid. It was a small thing to do.”

“You are a good man,” she said simply, leaning up on her tiptoes to place a kiss on his cheek. He blushed uncomfortably and she laughed softly.

RUNNING ROGUE by Pandora Spocks

RUNNING ROGUE,
Book 2 of Rannigan’s Redemption,
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RunningRogue

Weekend Excerpt–THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE

They say desperate times call for desperate measures.
Charley Weatherly is about to realize that it’s true.

I’m so excited that my new novel, THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE, is finally out! It’s been a long time coming, with one interruption after another, but hopefully, it’s worth the wait.

The idea for this book came from a news report I saw about a celebrity becoming a first-time parent via gestational surrogate. I began to wonder…

Who is this woman having a child for a stranger who can’t do it on their own? What is her motivation, her life situation? What are her hopes and dreams?

So I began to explore these notions by writing. This book is the result. Read the official blurb:

Life isn’t working out exactly the way Charley Weatherly imagined it might when she walked away from her steady paycheck as a copywriter to start her own business. But as it turns out, not everyone in town is knocking down the door of her tiny independent bookshop. She has lost money every quarter since she opened.

Now, with her grandmother in need of more care than Charley can provide, some difficult decisions have to be made. The rest of her 401k plus the proceeds from selling the bookstore might keep Nana in Pacifico Manor for about a year. That would give Charley time to figure out her next move.

But when that money is irretrievably lost, Charley is faced with an impossible decision. Being a gestational surrogate for a couple who can’t have a baby on their own will bring in the kind of cash she needs. Can she really follow through?

Between trying to keep her small business afloat and caring for her grandmother, Charley’s personal life has been nonexistent. But when she moves to the city for a few months, she finds she enjoys the freedom of her part-time gig at Bravo Java. She especially enjoys chatting up the handsome local artist who spends his mornings there. Now that her life is taking an unexpected turn, has she finally met the right man at the wrong time?

Artist Ben Campbell has had his fair share of romantic disasters. For the time being, he’s content to follow his self-imposed schedule: gym, coffee, work, repeat.

But the new barista at his favorite coffee shop piques his interest. In fact, if he’s honest with himself, she looks a lot like the elusive redhead who haunts his dreams.

She seems to be attracted to him, too. So why does Charley insist on keeping him at arm’s length?

Prefer your romance with plenty of heat and tons of heart?
You’ll love The Girl in the Guesthouse!

Here’s a little teaser.

Looking around the room, Charley saw some of the paintings she had watched Ben working on in his loft. She took a few steps toward one, an abstract in bright colors. “This is amazing,” she whispered. “Look at this! All your work for people to see.”

“And buy, hopefully,” he laughed. “I’m always hoping to sell my pieces.”

He stepped toward her and took her hand. “There’s something I want to show you.”

Curious, Charley allowed him to lead her around a corner where another few paintings were hanging. Ben stood her in front of one and stepped back. “These are the ones I wanted to keep a surprise until today.”

Frowning slightly, Charley gazed at the vast canvas rectangle. The first thing she noticed was the riot of color. But unlike the abstracts she had seen in the main part of the room, this painting, and the ones beside it, were clearly representational, albeit more impressionistic than realistic.

In the first one, a hand reached out toward a form moving away from it. Looking closer, Charley saw that it was a woman. A woman with red hair. Frowning, she turned her head to look at Ben, who pursed his lips and waited for her reaction.

She moved to the next painting. In this one, the red-haired woman was closer, but her back was still turned. In the third piece, the woman was closer still, and now she looked over her shoulder at the viewer, a happy, impish expression on her face. Unconsciously, Charley reached up to touch her own face. “Is this me?” she asked quietly.

Ben stood beside her, draping his arm around her waist. “I had this dream so many times. You were always just out of my reach. Obviously, I didn’t know it was you. Until I did know it was you. And everything fell into place. This was a story I had to tell.”

Worry knit his brow as he looked down at her. “Do you hate it?”

“Of course, I don’t hate it. I love it! And I love you.” Even in her boots, she had to tiptoe to reach him to press a kiss to his lips. “It’s amazing, and I’m flattered beyond, well, anything.”

Ben exhaled loudly. “Thank God! I thought it was a great idea, and I kept it a surprise, but then, I started having second thoughts once it was up in here. What if you hated them? What if you were angry that I painted you?”

Charley chuckled. “You worry a lot. Who wouldn’t love this? I suppose that, in a way, it’s our story, right?”

“It is at that,” Ben agreed, drawing her to himself. “I am a lucky, lucky man.”

“Okay, the doors are opening!” someone shouted into the room. “Ready or not, here they come.”

“Hoo, boy. Here goes nothing,” Ben muttered.

“This is going to be great,” Charley reassured him.

**

And it was. The buzz about Ben’s work was highly positive, and several of the pieces sold in the first hour. Their friends Robin and Cam came, and Ben was glad Charley had someone to hang out with while he schmoozed potential buyers and chatted with old friends.

Drew and Alex popped in, purchasing a painting Drew said he planned to hang in his office.

Occasionally, Charley would flit by to bring him a drink or to squeeze his hand reassuringly. Ben’s heart ached at the pride he saw in her eyes. He was, indeed, a lucky man.

He was chatting with Charley when he heard a familiar voice.

“Great work, as usual. No surprise there. How are you, Ben?”

He turned to see Claire holding a glass of wine in salute and felt his eyes widen. “Claire?”

“I heard you had a show, and I wanted to see your new work.” Her words were for Ben, but her eyes were on Charley.

Belatedly, he realized he needed to introduce them. “Claire, meet Charley Weatherly. Charley, this is Claire.”

He didn’t miss the narrowing of Claire’s eyes. Or the way she was laser-focused on Charley’s baby bump. What surprised him was that Charley gave Claire the same look. He recognized Charley’s forced smile as she reached to shake the woman’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Charley murmured politely.

Claire nodded rather imperiously if he wasn’t reading too much into it. “Likewise.”

Charley lightly squeezed his arm. “I’m going to see if I can find Robin and Cam.” She looked at Claire. “Again, nice to meet you.” She scurried off without waiting for a reply. Which was just as well since there wasn’t one.

Instead, Claire crossed her arms and glared at him. “Wow, Ben, what have you been up to?”

Opting to ignore the real meaning of her question, he shrugged lightly. “Oh, you know, same old same old. I kind of busted a hump to get this show ready, but other than that, just the usual.”

“You know what I mean. You’re going to be a father?”

Ben glanced around to find Charley talking with Robin, whose eyes were shooting daggers Claire’s way. He had to suppress a smile.

“No,” he shook his head. “The babies aren’t mine.”

“Babies? As in plural?” Claire was aghast. “You’re dating a chick who is pregnant with someone else’s babies, plural?”

“They aren’t hers, either. Charley’s a surrogate. The twins are actually Alex and Drew’s, and they’re due in May.”

“Unbelievable,” Claire muttered, shaking her head. “You’ve reached a new low, do you know that?”

“I have no idea what you mean,” he answered, trying to tamp down his growing irritation.

“You’re dating a pregnant chick,” she hissed. “Do I really need to explain how pathetic that is? You’re a young, great-looking guy, and you can do way better. And you know it, too.”

“Hey!” Ben had had enough. “I love Charley. And she loves me. I know you, Claire. I know that genuine love is a foreign concept to you. For you, it’s all fun and games. But I’ve always been looking for the missing part of me.”

“Right,” Claire rolled her eyes. “And this Charley person is it.” Her tone was beyond sarcastic.

“Okay, Claire,” Ben said stiffly. “Thanks for coming by. I need to mingle with the other guests. See you later.” He tried to move off before she could say anything else.

“I was accepted into the residency. I’m going to Paris at the beginning of April.”

Ben paused. “Congrats!” he hurled over his shoulder. “I hope you enjoy it.”

“Have you heard from them yet?” Claire asked.

He shook his head. “Nope. Goodnight, Claire.”

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE
is now available at your favorite online bookseller!
books2read.com/TheGirlInTheGuesthouse

Weekend Excerpt–Trouble on New Year’s Eve

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché.
But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink tulle bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?

***
A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect.
Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

If you love your romance with a little heat and plenty of heart, you’re going to love Broken Harts!

From her perch on the 30th floor of the Intercontinental, Ali peered down at the masses of New Year’s Eve revelers packing the streets below. On the television that played quietly in the corner, a current top-ten pop artist gyrated through a lip-synched version of her most popular song. According to the tiny clock in the corner of the screen, the old year had about twenty minutes left before it faded with the new one’s arrival.

Ali glanced back over her shoulder to see Logan and Greg deeply engaged in a conversation about their picks for the NFL playoffs. She smiled to herself. She had been right when she’d told Logan that he’d hit it off with Shannon and her fiancé. When Ali had called her niece from Florida to suggest that the two couples hang out together for New Year’s Eve, Shannon had enthusiastically agreed.

They had started the evening with a casual dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant before adjourning to Logan’s corner room overlooking Times Square. For the past couple of hours, they had spent their time alternating between playing raucous hands of Cards Against Humanity and watching the New Year’s Eve crowd assembled outside. From Logan’s room, they would have a perfect view of the giant crystal ball as it dropped at midnight.

The bathroom door opened, and Shannon crossed to Ali at the window as the men continued to outline the virtues of this team over that team. She slipped an arm around her aunt, who was barely two years older than herself.

“I like Logan, Ali, I really do. Greg does, too, you can tell.” Shannon rested her head on Ali’s shoulder and gazed out the window.

“I like him, too. Maybe even more than like,” Ali confessed.

Shannon gave a soft, gleeful giggle. “I knew it! Anyone can see how you feel about him. Did you tell him yet?”

Ali shook her head. “No, I mean, I don’t know. I thought about it once or twice while we were in Florida. But that’s a big step. I’m not sure I’m ready to take that risk just yet.”

Another thought struck her, and her stomach sank. “What if Logan’s not ready? Maybe he doesn’t feel the same way.” It was a miserable thought, one that in her own private moments, Ali was able to push away.

“You’re out of your mind,” Shannon whispered. “That man is nuts about you. He has already agreed to be your plus one at the wedding. Which is fantastic. Weddings always seem to give a guy notions. My friend Jillian’s wedding is where Greg says he decided to propose.”

Ali risked a glance over her shoulder, and Logan gave her a wink. She couldn’t stop her smile.

A knock announced the arrival of the champagne they had ordered earlier. Logan headed to the door.

“Oh, good!” Shannon exclaimed. “It’s almost time, you guys!”

They gathered around as Logan popped the cork and poured the golden sparkling wine into four sparkling glass flutes. As the lighted crystal ball began its descent on television, they carried their champagne to the giant windows and watched the spectacle in real-time.

“Three, Two, One! Happy New Year!” they chorused, toasting each other and sipping the champagne.

Greg twirled Shannon away from the window as they improvised a slow dance in front of the television. Blue eyes shining, Logan took Ali’s glass and set it down beside his. Then he pulled her to himself, lowering his face to hers. “Happy New Year, babe,” he murmured just before their lips touched.

Closing her eyes, Ali gave herself over to his kiss, losing herself in his strong embrace. There was no maybe about it. She was in love. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name.

Logan gently moved away from her lips, instead applying soft kisses along her jawline and down the side of her neck, leaving goosebumps trailing across her body in the process.

“Happy New Year,” he murmured again, his lips just below her ear. “Ali Hart, I love you.”

Her eyes had been closed as she enjoyed his attentions. Now, they flew open, and she took a slight step back. He stood smiling that lop-sided grin she found beyond endearing, and he nodded.

“It’s true. I love you,” he repeated softly.

“But I,” she began, her voice barely a squeak. “I love you, too.”

Now, he grinned broadly. “Then it’s perfect. You and me, Ali. We’re perfect together.”

She nodded, too. “Perfect.”

Pulling her to himself, Logan once again captured her lips with his own, and Ali reveled in their relationship’s new status. They had done it. They’d each said the l-word. If that wasn’t taking things to the next level, she didn’t know what was.

“Hey,” called Shannon, reminding Ali that she and Logan weren’t alone. “Do you know what would be amazing right now? Chocolate cream pie from Hudson’s Diner around the corner from Granddad’s.”

Her face flushing red, Ali rested her forehead against Logan’s chin. “Sorry about that,” she whispered. “I almost forgot they were here.”

He pressed a kiss to her temple and chuckled. “Chocolate cream pie? You are definitely speaking my language. What do you say, we head uptown and enjoy a little New Years’ dessert before we go our separate ways?”

“Deal,” Shannon agreed. “Greg, call an Uber. We’re getting New Year’s pie.”

Arm around Ali’s waist, Logan whispered in her ear as they headed to the elevator. “Not actually the pie I was most looking forward to tonight,” he laughed, “but the New Year is young.”

Ali felt the heat go straight to her core. She suddenly couldn’t wait to be alone with Logan.

Uptown traffic was heavier than usual, especially for that late at night, and Ali assumed it was due to the holiday. As the Uber approached the block before her father’s apartment, she suggested that the driver drop them off and that they walk from there.

With Shannon and Greg leading the way, Ali and Logan walked hand in hand across the street. Instinctively, she glanced up at the windows of Jackson Hart’s home. Her thoughts strayed back to the day he had been lost, the day that Logan had helped her find him, and her stomach sank a bit. But she shook it off, knowing that beginning the day after Christmas, the home nursing agency had been sending potential candidates for her father’s permanent caregivers.

As if he knew what she was thinking, Logan looked down at her and gave her hand a squeeze.

“It’s just down the block and around the corner,” Shannon said over her shoulder.

As they passed the front awning of the apartment building, someone stepped out of the shadows.

“Well, well, this must be the infamous Alison Hart.” The tall blonde woman glared at Ali, a malicious gleam in her eye.

Frowning, Ali stopped. Ahead, Shannon and Greg turned around and walked back to where she and Logan stood.

“Catherine.” Logan’s voice was low.

The woman shifted her gaze to him. “Happy New Year, Logan. Have you missed me?”

“No, as a matter of fact. I haven’t missed you in the least.”

Glancing up at Logan, Ali saw an unfamiliar hard look on his face.

“Logan, who is this woman?” Ali asked softly.

“I’m his fiancée,” the blonde spat. “I’m shocked he hasn’t told you about me.”

Ex-fiancée,” Logan corrected. “What do you want, Catherine?”

“Wouldn’t you rather know how I found you? This isn’t actually your neighborhood, is it, Logan? You’d be amazed at how easy it is for a private investigator to track down a fiancé gone rogue.”

Ex-fiancé,” Logan growled. “I don’t answer to you anymore, Catherine. You have no business stalking me.”

Feeling panic rising, Ali tugged on Logan’s arm. “Logan, what’s going on. Is she really your fiancée?”

Tearing his eyes away from the blonde, Logan looked down at Ali. “She’s my ex-fiancée. I broke off the engagement.”

“Yes, you certainly did that,” the woman agreed calmly. “On Christmas Eve, no less, barely a week ago. Can you imagine? And with our wedding already planned for Valentine’s Day, too.”

“Dude,” Greg interjected, “You were getting married on Valentine’s Day? That’s our wedding day.”

Ali pulled her hand out of Logan’s and backed up a few steps, scrubbing a palm across her lips. “Christmas Eve? Logan, we met before Thanksgiving. You were engaged then?”

“Ali, I swear, I can explain everything.” He stepped toward her, the look in his eyes pleading.

The blonde crossed her arms in front of herself. “Well, please do that! I’m all ears. Please explain how you called off our wedding when you were apparently already fucking little Miss Redhead.”

Logan angrily whirled around. “Catherine, I swear to God–”

Ali’s pulse pounded in her ears, and she felt like she couldn’t breathe. “I have to go,” she blurted, darting toward the front door of her father’s apartment building.

“Ali, wait!” Logan called after her, but she ducked inside the lobby and bounded to the open elevator, jamming the button before anyone else could follow.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/BrokenHarts