Weekend Excerpt–Christmas on Lake Miranda

She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker
Their attraction is instant from the moment they meet.
But he’s Dominant. And no way is she submissive.
Is it a missed connection? Or a divine appointment?

Scott Nielsen is ready for change. He’s walked away from his career as a wilderness counselor, planning to start his own outdoor survival school. He looks up his old friend and former colleague Blake Walker, intent on leasing space at Blake’s family’s remote wilderness guest lodge. That’s where he meets Blake’s sister Jackie, who runs the lodge with her brother’s help. Her strength and independence intrigue Scott. A single mom, Jackie has no intention of being anyone’s submissive.

In his personal life, Scott is tired of casual sex in the BDSM club scene. Envious watching his buddy Blake fall head over heels for his own submissive, Scott thinks he might be ready to take the plunge himself. As he and Jackie spend time together, he’s enchanted with her inner Warrior Princess.

But Jackie’s been burned before. And she has two children who are her priority, not to mention the business to run. As independent as she is, she can’t see relinquishing her power to a man, not even one she’s falling for.

Scott’s heart aches at the idea of not having Jackie in his life. Can she take another chance on love, or will she insist on ignoring her submissive soul?

If you enjoyed LOST & BOUND, you’ll love this spin-off stand-alone story.

In this teaser, enjoy a little Christmas on Lake Miranda.

On Christmas Eve, after the kids had gone to bed, the adults gathered around the enormous festively-decorated white spruce. Light Christmas jazz played in the background, and outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, snow swirled lazily in the half moonlight.

Jackie handed Amy a mug of warm mulled cider and settled beside her on a leather sofa with a mug of her own. On the floor, Scott and Blake sat amid the scattered pieces of a pink Barbie house ‘Santa’ had found on sale months earlier and had put away until now.

Winking at Amy, Jackie suppressed a smile. “Did you guys read the instructions?”

“We don’t need the damn instructions,” Blake huffed, pushing a stray lock of dark hair out of his eyes. “We’re two intelligent, grown men. We can figure out how to put together a dollhouse.”

The women clinked their mugs and giggled gleefully.

Amy looked from Blake and Scott to the twinkling Christmas tree, and to Jackie. “I love this.” Her voice was soft, and though she smiled, a tear was in her eye. “This is the Christmas I always wanted.”

Jackie’s heart melted, and she reached for Amy’s hand. “I’m so happy you’re here.”

Blake pushed up from the floor and pressed a tender kiss to Amy’s temple. “This is our life, kitten. This is our family, your family. You belong here.”

Jackie smiled across the room at Scott, who winked at her, and she felt a familiar tummy flutter. She loved the man more than she’d thought humanly possible. And when summer came, she’d marry him.

After Blake and Amy retired to the guest room, Scott and Jackie went to bed, quietly making love, then holding each other until late into the night.

They awoke to a bright sunny day, the sky crystal cerulean, the sun reflecting brilliantly off the sparkling snow. Emma and Grant squealed excitedly as they saw the mountain of gifts under the tree. Scott sat at the end of the sofa and Jackie snuggled up beside him, each of them sipping steaming mugs of coffee. Blake and Amy sat opposite them on the sofa’s twin, smiling as they watched the children tearing into their gifts.

Once they were finished, the kids had fun delivering gifts to the adults. Finally, all the gifts were opened. Blake and Amy gave each other a conspiratorial look. “We have a few more gifts,” Amy said.

“More?” Jackie echoed, thinking of the extravagant handbag for her, and the top of the line boots for Scott. “You’ve done so much already, seriously.”

Blake reached behind the sofa and picked up four identical shirt boxes wrapped in metallic red paper. He glanced at the tags and handed one to each of the children and to Jackie and Scott.

Amy leaned forward excitedly. “You have to open them all together. Ready? One, two, three!”

With a bemused glance at Scott, Jackie carefully opened her box. Grant and Emma ripped theirs open. “It’s a shirt,” Emma said, holding up a pink t-shirt.

Grant peered into the box. “Thanks, Aunt Amy,” he said, making an effort to sound enthused about a shirt. “It sure is…pink.”

Scott tilted his head as he looked at his, then elbowed Jackie lightly. She looked at his, then gaped at hers. In sparkling letters across pink cotton, she read, World’s Greatest Aunt.

Jackie gasped. “I knew it! I knew you were pregnant! I’m so excited for you!” she squealed, rushing over to give Amy and Blake a big hug.

“We didn’t want to tell anyone until we knew everything was going to be okay,” Amy explained.

“Cool,” Grant said, pulling his new shirt over his head, “we’re going to be cousins!”

“Aunt Amy, are you having a boy baby or a girl baby?” Emma asked.

Blake grinned. “It’s a little girl. That’s why we gave you pink shirts.”

“Congratulations, man!” Scott grinned as Blake stood and the two embraced. “That’s great news.”

“I can’t believe it.” He shook his head. “I’m going to be a dad.”

Jackie sank onto the sofa beside Amy. “A little girl,” she shook her head smiling. “That’s fantastic.”

Amy nodded, eyes shining. “Do you want to see the ultrasound pictures?”

“I’ll get them,” Blake said, heading in the direction of the guest room.

Grant and Emma returned to their new toys. Scott perched on the arm of the sofa next to Jackie. “I’m so happy for you two,” he told Amy. She laughed happily.

From the direction of the guest room, they heard a tiny yip. Jackie frowned. “What was that?”

Eyes wide, Amy gave an exaggerated shrug. “I have no idea.”

“Uh oh,” Blake called from the guest room. “I think I found another present.”

Jackie looked up to see a shaggy black puppy with a huge red bow come running into the room. He ran straight to the kids, yipping excitedly.

“A puppy,” Emma squealed.

Grant squinted at the tag on the big red bow and gasped. “Mom! It’s for us, from Santa!”

Blake leaned against the doorway looking pleased with himself.

“From Santa, huh?”

“I think Grandma and Grandpa might have mentioned it to the big guy,” Blake grinned.

Oh, for f-” Jackie glanced up at Scott. “Did you know about this?”

He raised his hands in surrender. “I promise, I knew nothing about a puppy.”

“They love Bear so much, they need one of their own,” Amy said, smiling.

“So, what are you going to name him?” Blake asked.

Brow furrowed, Grant watched the Newfie puppy for a moment. “Max. He looks like a Max to me.”

Ruffling the puppy’s ears, Emma nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah. Max.”

Jackie shook her head. “He’s cute, I’ll give you that. But I still want to see those ultrasound pictures of my niece.”

WARRIOR MINE by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–LOST & BOUND

Spoiled Hollywood starlet Shasta Pyke
is used to getting her own way.
She’s met her match
in Dominant mountain man Blake Walker.

Blake Walker is no stranger to tragedy. Immediately following a horrific event years earlier, he was lost for a while until he embraced his Dominant nature and found his true calling. But things change and now he’s back where he started, helping to run his family’s secluded lake lodge.


When pampered Hollywood starlet Shasta Pyke gets into trouble with the law, she’s sent to the wilderness of northern Ontario to cool her heels for a few weeks. There she meets sexy bush pilot Blake, who is tasked with seeing to her needs as the sole guest at the lodge.


Initially, Blake isn’t impressed with the spoiled actress, but he’s happy that her visit allows for his sister Jackie and her kids to go on a much-needed vacation. Try as he might, he can’t figure out what the hell Shasta Pyke is doing so far out of her element.


Shasta’s attracted to Blake’s obvious good looks, but there’s more to him than that. He sees through her armor to the vulnerable little girl she hides from the world. The Daddy Dominant in him craves to shelter her, to make her his own.


Is there any way Shasta will agree to submit to Blake’s Dominance?

Here’s a little teaser from LOST & BOUND.

When Shasta finally woke up the following morning, she felt worlds better. And she was famished. Donning a pair of jeans, a Joan Jett t-shirt, and a hot pink hoodie, she made her way once again to the kitchen cabinets. She moved around a few boxes and jars as she looked through the provisions, finding a thin rectangular blue box. Macaroni and cheese. A slow smile spread across her face.

Many years ago, she’d done a commercial for the stuff. Of course, when you make a commercial, you can’t actually eat the product. After every take, she’d been required to spit it into a bucket. But it had tasted good, and when she’d told her grandfather about it, he’d made her a box of her very own. She remembered it being one of the best things she’d ever tasted.

Shasta wasn’t a cook. She couldn’t remember ever cooking anything for herself beyond warming up left-over pizza. Turning over the box, she quickly read the instructions. “How hard can this be?”

Following the directions step by step, she lit the stovetop and put a pot of water on to boil. Unsure if she could cook with the lake water, she used the spring water just to be on the safe side, realizing that she’d have to make a trip to the spring sooner than she’d anticipated.

When the allotted time had elapsed, she drained the macaroni and stirred in the milk and butter from the tiny fridge. Then she tore open the foil packet and poured it over the mixture. “Orange powder? What the hell?”

She stirred and stirred until most of the lumps had disappeared, then sat down at the table to eat right out of the pot. She took her first bite and her eyes rolled back in her head. “Oh, my God, this is so good!” she moaned around a mouthful.

After she’d eaten as much as she wanted, she put the rest into a plastic container she found and placed it in the fridge. Holding the empty pot, she looked around for the best way to clean it. She finally settled on filling it with lake water and putting in back on to boil, dripping a few drops of dishwashing liquid into it for good measure.

When the pot was cleaned, dried, and returned to its hook on the wall, Shasta stripped out of the hoodie and wandered outside. The sun was bright overhead and the sky was a brilliant blue. She closed her eyes and listened to the breeze rustling in the tops of the trees, breathing in the scent of pine straw warmed by the sun. Opening her eyes, she shook her head. Under different circumstances, this would be an amazingly beautiful place.

Carefully, she picked her way down the slope to the dock and walked to the edge. The water was crystal clear and she could see huge boulders and the ghosts of long-ago fallen trees resting on the bottom of the lake. A light breeze rippled the water in a mesmerizing way, and she stood for a moment feeling a sense of peace settling over her.

When she looked up, she saw movement across the lake. Someone was walking along the water’s edge. Blake. Has to be. Everyone else left yesterday. He stopped and seemed to be looking her way. She sighed, remembering their last exchange, when she’d screamed and thrown a rock at him. “Sometimes, you are such an idiot,” she muttered to herself.

She watched him for a moment, watched him watching her. She wished he would come over. Shouldn’t he check on me? I’m a guest. The only guest right now. I mean, what if I needed something?

She sat on the dock, removed her shoes, and rolled up the legs of her jeans, dangling her feet in the cool of the lake. The sun was hot and the water felt good. She realized that once again, she’d failed to get her solar shower going. There probably wasn’t enough time for the water to heat up now.

Of course, I could always go for a swim. It would do until I can get the hang of this shower thing. She grinned mischievously in Blake’s direction. Maybe she could entice him to come over.

Giving an exaggerated stretch, she pulled the t-shirt up over her head and dropped it on the dock. Then she stood, shimmying out of the jeans, placing them on top of the shirt. She flicked a quick glance back across to water to make sure he was still watching and turned to reach behind her and unhook her bra.

Topless, she turned back towards the lodge. Blake was still there. Slowly, she hooked her thumbs into the top of her white lace panties and slid them down her legs, kicking them off to rest with her other clothes.

At the edge of the dock, she paused to smooth her fingers through her hair before executing a shallow dive, surfacing a dozen yards from the dock. Treading water, she turned herself toward the lodge. Blake was walking away from the lake in the direction of the main lodge.

“Well, shit,” she muttered to herself. “Maybe he’s gay.”

She swam until she felt cool and clean, then climbed back onto the dock. The sun felt good on her skin, so she stretched out on her back and dozed.

***

Blake woke up that morning feeling slightly guilty for not checking in on Shasta the previous day. It was odd that she hadn’t had lights on since she’d arrived. He couldn’t shake the feeling that she was trying to play him, though. He figured he’d get on with a few of his chores and keep an eye out for her. He could always head over in the afternoon if he still didn’t see any sign of her on the island.

He busied himself with checking the guest cabins, making notes of repairs he could begin making over the next few weeks. He’d just finished with the last cabin and was thinking about stopping for lunch when he glanced across the lake and saw her. She was standing on the dock apparently watching the water. Immediately, he felt a sense of relief. At least she hadn’t asphyxiated herself in the night.

Making his way towards his cabin, he took the route along the edge of the lake rather than the central path. Now she was sitting on the dock, with her feet in the water. He stopped to watch her, wondering what she’d been doing up until now.

Maybe trying to rig her phone to work, he chuckled to himself. He realized she’d noticed him and thought to wave, but at that moment she stood and removed her top. Then she performed a striptease, dropping her clothing item by item onto the dock. Even from this distance, he could appreciate the curves of her tits and hips, offset by her narrow waist. Dumbfounded, he watched as she wiggled out of her panties and paused seductively on the edge of the dock before plunging into the water.

He shook his head, willing his cock to go back to sleep. Nope, I’m not biting, princess. He turned and made his way back to his place.

LOST & BOUND by Pandora Spocks

LOST & BOUND is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/LostandBound

Weekend Excerpt–WARRIOR MINE

She’s the perfect combination of princess & warrior.

Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker.
Their attraction is instant from the moment they meet.
But he’s Dominant.  And no way is she submissive.
Is it a missed connection?  Or a divine appointment?

Scott Nielsen is ready for change.  He’s walked away from his career as a wilderness counselor, planning to start his own outdoor survival school.  He looks up his old friend and former colleague Blake Walker, intent on leasing space at Blake’s family’s remote wilderness guest lodge.  That’s where he meets Blake’s sister Jackie, who runs the lodge with her brother’s help.  Her strength and independence intrigue Scott.  A single mom, Jackie has no intention of being anyone’s submissive.

In his personal life, Scott is tired of casual sex in the BDSM club scene.  Envious watching his buddy Blake fall head over heels for his own submissive, Scott thinks he might be ready to take the plunge himself.  As he and Jackie spend time together, he’s enchanted with her inner Warrior Princess.  But Jackie’s been burned before.  And she has two children who are her priority, not to mention the business to run.   As independent as she is, she can’t see relinquishing her power to a man, not even one she’s falling for.

Scott’s heart aches at the idea of not having Jackie in his life.  Can she take another chance on love, or will she insist on ignoring her submissive soul?

If you enjoyed LOST & BOUND, you’ll love this spin-off stand-alone story.

Read a snippet now.

“It’s a gorgeous day,” Scott commented.

“It really is. I haven’t been out in the woods like this in a long time.”

Scott watched her appraisingly. “Are you much of a camper?”

“I can hold my own.” She lifted her chin, and he saw a glint of challenge in her eye.

“I imagine you can,” he smiled to himself.

He watched her dig the toe of her boot into the soft black earth and push it into a small heap. “So let’s talk, Jackie.”

She exhaled loudly, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw her grip her hands so tightly together, her knuckles were white.

“This makes you nervous,” he observed.

“Well, yeah! You’re over here wanting me to agree to be some kind of…I don’t know what…slave, I guess. That’s so not me.”

“You’re right, it’s not. I see in you a submissive soul, but a slave is not remotely what I have in mind. Jackie,” he straddled the log to face her, “you’re a strong, smart, sexy lady. I admire the hell out of you.”

“So why do you want me to give all that up?”

“I don’t want you to give anything up. I love all those things about you.” He laughed softly. “I love that you challenge me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Jackie’s expression was dubious. “I don’t understand what you want from me. Am I supposed to run and jump into your arms like Amy does Blake?” She rolled her eyes.

Scott had to laugh. “You’re not a slave, and you’re definitely not a baby girl like Amy, either.” He gave her a side-long glance. “Amy’s a sweet girl, but she’d drive me nuts. A Daddy Dom I am not.”

“Good, because there’s no way I’m calling you Daddy.”

“Our dynamic would be more King and Princess. You’d call me Sire.”

He was pleased when he saw her reluctant smile. “All I want is for you to let go and allow me to lead you, to help you be free to be your true self. You can depend on me, Jackie.”

Restlessly, Jackie got up and paced back and forth. “It’s not like it’s just me, Scott. I’m a mother. I have two kids to care for, and they have to be my priority. I can’t decide I’m going to just go off and do whatever I want. Plus, there’s the business…”

She stopped pacing and faced him. “I’m a whole ‘package deal’. You don’t need all that. You should be out meeting women who aren’t so tied down.”

Scott couldn’t stop the smirk as the image of a nude Jackie tied to the posts of a bed flashed through his mind. She must have realized it, because she blushed bright red. “I’ve met my share of women, Jackie. Women who don’t mind being tied down.” He chuckled. “I’ve done the club scene, and I’m tired of casual sex. When Blake told me he’d found someone, I have to admit, I felt envious. I took a hard look at my life and I realized it was time to make a change. I had no idea I’d meet someone so quickly.”

He considered going to her, but changed his mind, allowing her space. “I’m attracted to you, Jackie, in a way I haven’t been to anyone else. You have no idea how hard it was for me to resist you that night you came to my room. Hell, to resist you last night. You’re beautiful, Jackie, in case no one’s told you in a while. That one perfect exposed breast? I’ve had dreams about that.”

Jackie blushed, wrapping her arms around herself.

“Together we have an explosive chemistry. I know you feel it, too. I’m dying to take you to the next level.”

Arms still crossed, she shrugged. “Yeah, we have physical chemistry. Maybe it’s because it’s been a long time for me, I don’t know. And I appreciate the things you’ve done, like taking care of things when Emma was sick, and Jesus, you saved Grant’s life.”

She started pacing again. “And you washed my hair. I couldn’t believe you did that. So when you say, Now be my submissive,” she deepened her voice to imitate Scott, “it’s like I owe you.”

“You don’t owe me, Jackie. I washed your hair because it was what you needed. That’s what a Dom does.” He gazed out through the woods and exhaled sharply. “I think you’ve read too many so-called BDSM books about sadist Dominants. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about safe, sane, and consensual. Always.” He looked back to her. “You can depend on me, Jackie. I’ve got you.”

She walked to the edge of the clearing, her back to him. Her voice was small. “What if I depend on you, and you leave? I don’t think I could survive that. Better to be on my own and know what I’m getting.”

“Jackie, I’m not him. I’m not that guy.” Scott approached her, tentatively reaching out to touch her shoulder. “I’m this guy, right here, asking you to let me share your burden, to lighten your load, and set you free.”

She reached up to put her hand on his. Her voice was small. “I don’t know if I can do that.”

Leaning down, he kissed her hand. “Fair enough.” Ignoring the ache in his heart, he cleared his throat. “Are you about ready to go?”

Jackie nodded. Scott returned to the log to retrieve his backpack and together, they headed along where the trail continued beyond the clearing.

Almost immediately, the path led downward, although not as steeply as the way up had done. Before long, the forest ended at a rocky bluff about thirty feet above the lake.

“Is this where the trail ends?” Jackie asked.

Scott nodded. “I saw it on the map. It seemed like a good possibility for some of my more advanced clients, so I wanted to check it out. I figured we’d rappel down to the lake.”

Jackie’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Have you done any rappelling?” Scott already knew the answer, having asked Blake about it earlier.

“No, I haven’t done any rappelling.” Jackie eased forward and peered over the edge. “Would you seriously send your students here?”

“Only those with the right kind of experience.” He set down the backpack and removed a coil of black nylon rope. Watching Jackie out of the corner of his eye, he uncoiled the rope and loosely wrapped the center of it around the base of a sturdy young spruce not far from the edge of the bluff. He released the ends over the drop-off. Peering over the edge, he realized the rope was several feet too short.

“Okay, Princess, it’s not optimal, but we’re going to make this work. Watch how I do it.”

Scott stepped between the two sides of the rope and wrapped them behind his waist, bringing them forward and stepping through them to create a temporary harness. He had Jackie practice it, too, until she was able to do it herself.

“I’ll go down first, then it will be your turn.”

Scott rigged himself again and back stepped to the edge. “Now when you go, just lean back and start walking.” He leaned back and began letting himself down the bluff. About twenty feet down, he came to the end of the rope.

He looked up to Jackie who lay on her stomach peering down over the edge. “The rope’s a little short. For the last few feet you’re going to have to fall.”

Before Jackie could respond, he released the rope and dropped the final eight feet, landing on his feet. “Okay, Jackie, it’s your turn.”

“This is crazy.”

“Like I said, it’s not optimal, but it’s not so bad. Go ahead and get the rope situated. I’ve got you.”

Jackie worked the rope liked she’d practiced and backed to the cliff’s edge. “This is crazy,” she repeated.

“You’ve got this, Jackie,” Scott encouraged.

Slowly, Jackie leaned back like she’d seen Scott do, and she took a faltering step backwards. Her foot slipped, and she banged against the granite.

“It’s okay, just get your footing and keep coming.”

From below, he heard her huff, but she set her feet and leaned back again, taking a step at a time until she was about eight feet above his head.

“Now Jackie, this is where you’ll let go and drop the rest of the way.”

She froze on the cliff face. “I can’t do it. I’m going to fall.”

“I’ve got you, don’t worry.”

He watched as she debated with herself. She finally shook her head. “I can’t. I’m terrified.”

“You know, Jackie, sometimes you just have to let go and fall. But I promise I’ll catch you.” Watching her carefully, he stood on the shoreline below, arms outstretched.

He heard her huff again. “You’ll catch me?”

“I promise. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Okay. Here goes.” With that, Jackie released her grip on the ropes and plunged into Scott’s waiting arms. Automatically, he hugged her tightly as they sank onto a boulder on the shoreline. He felt her heart pounding.

“Admit it,” he murmured, nuzzling her neck, “it was kind of a rush.”

“Oh, my God, I thought I was going to die. That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done.”

“Would you do it again?”

Jackie peered up at him and smiled reluctantly. “Maybe.”

WARRIOR MINE by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA

They traveled the world looking for excitement.
But love is the ultimate adventure.

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?

The Dream Dominant Collection is a series of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring sexy, Dominant men and the strong, red-haired submissives they find irresistible. Each story centers around a light BDSM theme. Here’s a teaser from LUKE & BELLA, Dream Dominant Book 1. But beware…Spoilers abound!

The bedside clock blinked 5:12 am. Bella couldn’t wait any longer. What little sleep she’d gotten had been fitful, troubled.

She looked over at Luke who was snoring softly and her heart skipped a beat. She loved him so much. He’d been kind the night before, not mentioning her breach of protocol, recognizing her need to be at his feet. After her knee time, he’d taken her to bed, holding her tenderly to his chest, allowing her to let go of her concerns for a short while. She knew he assumed she was having her period and she hadn’t bothered to correct him. Plenty of time for that, she thought.

Quietly, she got out of bed and went into the bathroom, carefully closing the door behind her. She switched on the light and located the brown paper bag she’d gotten from the pharmacy the day before. Opening the box, she removed the flat plastic stick from its wrapper. She reread the instructions, then followed them meticulously, knowing she couldn’t bear to get this wrong. She placed the stick carefully on the counter of the vanity and set the timer on her phone.

Don’t look until the time is up, she instructed herself. Thirty seconds in she broke her own rule and glanced at the test. A blue plus sign in the circular window near the end of the stick appeared to her like a neon sign.

Her pulse pounded in her ears. It does that at first, she thought desperately. Then the plus disappears when it’s negative.

You know better than that. She hadn’t heard her father’s condemning voice since she’d left his grave weeks before. Now he was back, Nathan Epperson Grant, II, as the voice of Reason.

The timer chimed and with a shaky hand she picked up the stick. The plus sign was still there, only now it was a darker blue. That’s it, she thought. I’m…Shit! She stuffed the test back into the box, the box back into the paper bag, and shoved the whole thing into the drawer of the vanity.

She met her own terror-stricken gaze in the mirror. I need air, she thought. I can’t breathe. Panicked, she hurriedly threw on black yoga pants, a white t-shirt, and a jacket. Luke didn’t stir as she quietly opened the door and left the room, heading for the hotel lobby. In the elevator, she realized she hadn’t left him a note. I’ll be back before he even wakes up, she decided. Then, we’ll have to talk. She felt nauseated and her eyes filled with tears.

The elevator doors opened to the lobby and she strode purposefully toward the revolving door to outside.

“Good morning! You’re up early,” she heard a familiar voice say. It was Ann, one of their dining companions from the previous night. She and the other women were dressed for the gym.

Bella tried to pull herself together. “Um, yeah, I was in the mood for a walk,” she replied, smiling brightly.

“Are you alright?” Tanya asked.

“Oh, yes, needed a little air is all,” Bella said. “I’m just heading out…” she indicated the door.

Tanya spoke quietly to the others, “You go ahead. I’m going to see what the matter is.” She followed Bella out into the early morning.

“What’s wrong, Bella?” she asked sympathetically. “Did you and Luke have a row?”

Bella turned and looked at her in surprise. “God, no!” Bella answered quickly. “He’s not even up yet. It’s nothing, really, just…”

Tanya gave her a quizzical look.

“I’m pregnant,” Bella said quietly, a tear rolling down her cheek. “I just did the test.”

“Congratulations! That’s brilliant,” said Tanya. She hesitated for a moment. “Isn’t it?”

Bella sighed. “It’s just so…unplanned.” She wiped away a tear. “Luke doesn’t know yet. I don’t know…”

Tanya put her arm through Bella’s. “Come. Let’s go find some tea and have a chat.”

They ended up across the street from the Hotel Miramare, in a tiny cafe, one of the few open so early in the morning. The historic district was stunning in the light of the sun rising over the water. Bella sat at a heavy antique wooden table near the front window while Tanya ordered for them at the counter.

She returned to the table shortly with a pot of tea and two cups. They sipped in silence for a few minutes.

“So you’re having a baby?” Tanya said, breaking into the silence.

Bella breathed deeply. “Yeah. I guess so.”

“Or not,” Tanya probed.

Bella looked at her. “Unplanned as it is, I’m having this baby. Definitely!” she said determinedly. “As to whether or not Luke will be involved…” she trailed off. “He made it pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in marriage. I can’t think he’d be interested in a baby. I owe it to him to tell him, I suppose. But I’m afraid he’ll think I did this on purpose, to trap him or something.” The tears were back again.

Tanya reached for her hand. “That man loves you. He may surprise you, you know.”

Bella was about to reply when her phone rang. “Speak of the devil,” she said nervously.

LUKE & BELLA by Pandora Spocks

LUKE & BELLA is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/LukeAndBella1