Exclusive Sneak Peek–Lost & Bound

I’m thrilled to announce that my new novel, Lost & Bound, the second in my light BDSM series, The Dream Dominant Collection, is launching on January 31.  The cover reveal will be on New Year’s Day, and you will see it here first.

Outdoor natural portrait of a gorgeous male fitness model

The story is set in the wilderness of northern Ontario, and features main characters Blake Walker and Shasta Pyke.

Today’s excerpt is the first chapter.

Chapter 1

Winter

The full January moon reflected brilliantly off the crust of snow covering the frozen lake.  The frosty topping crunched beneath each footfall but the lone man was the only soul around to hear it.  The walk across the lake took him the better part of an hour.  He could have driven the snowmobile but had opted against it.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to wake anyone.  He simply appreciated the pre-dawn quiet.

Reaching the far shore, he headed up the hill in the direction of the trail he knew by heart, covered by snow or not.  He wore a headlamp but the moonlight made it unnecessary.  He didn’t stop until he reached a fork in the trail.  He knew there was an old cabin at the end of the left fork, but he shifted the shotgun slung over his shoulder and followed the fork to the right.

He wasn’t a hunter.  The gun was just a precaution.  Most of the bears would be asleep in their dens until spring.  But there might be moose or wolves.  The shotgun would be shit protection in those cases.  By the time he racked up a round, he’d probably be toast.  Not that he cared.  Not tonight.

The trail ended in a tree-lined circle, an enormous snow-dusted slab of granite surrounded by towering pines and shorter birches.  While the pine bark absorbed the moonlight, the white-skinned birches glowed.  The man stopped in the center of the circle and looked up.  As he’d known they would, the stars shown brilliantly in spite of the full moon sliding lower in the west.

He slipped the shotgun from his shoulder and rested it on the ground, shrugging off the small backpack he’d carried.  From the backpack he retrieved a folded blanket which he spread in the center of the circle and he proceeded to stretch out on top of it.  Folding his hands across his stomach, he sighed deeply and gazed at the stars.

Though he went about his days happily enough, there were times when a deep melancholy settled over him, times when something took him back to that moment, that horrific moment, the one that all the ‘what ifs’ in the world couldn’t erase.  Occasions like this night, when he marked an anniversary that nobody realized he honored.

The boy had been twenty.  The man was now thirty.  The cold air on his face reminded him of that January night all those years ago.

               It’s cold as we come out of the movie theatre.  We’ve seen a comedy and she’s laughing about some scene or other.  I love when her blue eyes sparkle like that. 

               Faith.  I remember the first time I saw her, sitting next to me in a literature class.  She’s an English Lit major.  I’m studying history, but I needed the class. 

               We’re walking to the car.  Maybe we’ll stop for a coffee or something on our way back to campus.  I open her door and she slides in, automatically buckling her belt.  I lean in for a quick kiss but there’s a dull thud in my head.  As I crumble to the sidewalk, I can’t understand why I’m seeing twinkling white dots.  I hear Faith screaming my name.

               “Blake!”

               I try to push myself up and something hits my stomach with enough force to knock me back down.  A black leather boot.

               “Stay down, asshole!  You don’t want us to do something nasty to your girlfriend, do you?”

               I’m gasping for air.  Everything is sideways and I hear Faith scream again.  Then car doors slam.  I try again to push myself up as my car peels away from the curb.  Now everything is in slow motion.  I’m running down the street screaming Faith’s name.  I swipe at my something stinging my left eye and realize I’m bleeding.

               I hear squealing tires just before the sound of an enormous impact, steel tearing, glass shattering, followed by an eerie silence.  Closer to the source of the noise, I can pick out the tick-tick-tick of the engine cooling in the January air, the hiss of steam from the radiator.

               There’s no movement as I approach the mangled wreckage.  Through the broken passenger window, I see Faith.  She’s leaning back against her seat, her head cocked to the right.  There’s a tiny streak of blood coming from her nose and her eyes are wide open, as if in surprise.

The coroner’s report stated that Faith’s neck had snapped instantly from the impact.  It was little solace.  As was the knowledge that the punks who’d robbed a liquor store and jacked his car with Faith in it would be in prison for the next forty years.

Blake stared at the stars hanging over his private wilderness cathedral.  Maybe one of them was Faith, watching over him all these years.  It was a dumb notion.  Even if it was possible, which he doubted, she wouldn’t watch over him.  He’d failed her, failed to protect the woman he’d loved.

Maybe loved was a strong word.  Back then, they’d been just kids, really.  He’d been all of twenty, and she, only nineteen.  But he’d already envisioned their future together, sure that he wanted to build a life with her.

Following the funeral, he’d left school and moved back home, utterly lost.  His family tried to be understanding, allowing him to sleep as much as he wanted, leaving him to his thoughts, and not asking him to help with the family business.  But after three months, his father had put his foot down.  “You have to do something, Blake.  You have to move forward.”

So his father had sent him to an outdoors school that operated in the wilderness between their lodge home on the lake and the city of Toronto.  That experience had set him on a new track.  Even though most of the other clients had been minors who’d gotten into trouble with the law, he found that he was able to work through the trauma enough to regain his traction.  After three months in the bush, Blake had returned to college with renewed purpose, taking a history minor while majoring in wilderness therapy, and tacking on a Master’s in the same field as well.

He’d worked with troubled kids for four years, side by side with some of the same counselors who’d helped him find his way.  But when his sister’s husband had abandoned her and the kids two years ago, he’d packed up and moved back home to the lodge to help run the business.

Back in his hallowed place, Blake noticed the stars beginning to fade as the sky lightened to the east.  Three thousand, six hundred fifty.  That was how many sunrises he’d seen and Faith had missed.  His heart clenched and an unwanted tear rolled down his cheek.  “I’m so sorry, Faith.  I’m so sorry I failed you.”

He stood and picked up the blanket, shaking it free of snow before stuffing it back into his backpack.  He slung the shotgun over his shoulder and glanced back up at the fading stars.

“I just want you to know that I still remember.  I won’t ever forget.”  He kissed his fingertips and waved them at the sky before turning to head back down the trail.

Lost & Bound will be available for pre-order soon.  In the meantime, the first book in The Dream Dominant Collection, Luke & Bella is on sale now.

Use this universal link to get your copy.

books2read.com/LukeAndBella

 

Get Resisting Risk FREE? What? It’s Simply Scandalous!

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Rannigan’s Redemption Part One: Resisting Risk

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Weekend Excerpt–Resisting Risk

rannigan-1-promo-spoiler

When I sit down to write, I have a definite story in mind, from beginning to end.  As a reader, I like books that feature characters I can get invested in, plots that are smart and unpredictable.  As a writer, I find that I feel the same way.  Which is why, although I’ve written a novella, I prefer to write longer stories that give me the opportunity to fully explore my characters and their lives.

Rannigan’s Redemption is an epic, three-novel erotic romance that spans nearly a decade in the lives of the main characters, Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn. Their relationship is complicated, and ultimately goes in a surprising direction.  But along the way, we get to know who they are as people.  We feel their emotions as we share their journey.

This snippet is from Resisting Risk, the first book of the trilogy.

“Let’s go,” Gwen said, when the band finished playing.  Michael mentally rolled his eyes.  She was being a pain tonight.  Next time she was in town, he would probably have other plans.  He’d thought to stop by Maggie’s table again to say goodbye but by then she was busy opening gifts so he’d just followed Gwen out the door.  It occurred to him that it was odd that he’d even thought about speaking to her again.  Probably too much bourbon, he thought, shaking his head.

They caught a cab back to the Upper East Side where he lived.  “I want to go to Bemelmans,” Gwen said as the cab neared his neighborhood.  Of course you do, he thought.  All he wanted to do was go home and get laid.

“Drop us at the Carlyle, please,” he said to the driver.  By the time he’d paid for the cab, Gwen was already inside the bar.  When he caught up with her he realized why they’d had to stop here.  A group of her friends was ensconced in a corner banquette.  She’d wanted to show him off.

There is definitely no next time with Gwen, he thought to himself, but he plastered on his PR smile.  “Hello, ladies,” he charmed, “apparently we’re late.”  Gwen beamed as her friends gave her envious looks.  He ordered a round for the table and chatted amiably with everyone for a while.  During a lull in the conversation while the pianist played a song the table had requested, he leaned into Gwen.  “Are you ready to go now?”

“Yes, we can go,” she said, running her hand up the inside of his leg and giving him a coy look.

They quickly said their goodbyes and left, walking the three blocks to his apartment building on 79th.  As they rode the elevator to the 21st floor, Gwen kept her eyes on the numbers over the door, but she reached over to stroke the front of his pants where his erection was growing harder.

Michael unlocked the door to his apartment and let her in, stopping to drop his keys in the bowl on the foyer table.  He took off his jacket and untied his tie.  “Can I get you a drink?” he asked on his way to get his own.  He paused to put the television on a sports channel.

“I’ll have champagne,” she said, with a trace of pout in her voice.

He rolled his eyes.  “No champagne, can I get you some chardonnay instead?”

“I suppose,” she simpered.  He grabbed a Heineken for himself.

When he returned to the living room she had kicked off her shoes and was relaxing on the tan oversized leather sectional that faced the television and the floor-to-ceiling wall of windows beyond, opening to his solarium on the terrace.  The city lights twinkled like a sparkling carpet below them.  This was why he, a happily single man, had bought a four-bedroom apartment.  It had the best view in the entire building.  He handed Gwen her wine and sank down beside her to sip his beer and watch tv, picking up the remote to turn up the volume.

“Oh, baby, are you sure you want to watch silly old sports?” she asked him.  “I had something else in mind.”  She moved to kneel in front of him and undid his belt and then his fly.

He smiled down at her.  “Are they mutually exclusive?” he asked, grinning and arching his eyebrow.  She winked up at him and pulled back the waistband of his boxer briefs, freeing his impressive erection.  He groaned and rested his head against the back of the sofa with his eyes closed as she took him in her mouth.  In spite of being a demanding princess, Gwen was great at giving head.  She worked him with her tongue and slid her lips up and down his shaft, sucking like a Dyson.

He was considering trying to hold off coming, make it last longer, when he heard his phone blip, indicating an email.  Glancing down beside him on the sofa, he saw that the message was from Maggie.  Michael picked up the phone and keyed in his pass code.  Gwen immediately stopped what she was doing.

“Oh, hell no, you are not answering a message in the middle of a blowjob!” she exclaimed.

“I’m just holding off, baby, we don’t want this over so fast,” he said.  “I want to fuck you.  Go to the bedroom and get ready.   I’ll be right there.”  He gave her a quick kiss, and she headed to the bedroom, slightly mollified.

Checking the time he saw that it was 2:16.  Maggie sent him a message after two in the morning?  He was definitely intrigued.

Dear Mr. Rannigan, I wanted to say thank you for the champagne you sent to my friends and me last night.  It was completely unnecessary and extremely thoughtful.  I’m excited about your job offer.  I will definitely call your office tomorrow to set up an appointment.  Again, thank you so much.  I look forward to working with you.  Sincerely, Maggie Flynn

A smile curled his lips as he reread the message.  So formal and professional.  Nothing at all to indicate what her eyes completely gave away.  She probably assumed he’d read it in the morning.  He wanted to respond now.

Dear Ms. Flynn, you are most welcome for the champagne.  I felt badly that I crashed your birthday celebration with all your friends.  Champagne seemed the least I could do.  I am excited at the prospect of having a brilliant young legal mind working on our team.  So please do call and schedule that appointment.  And, if we’re to be working together, I’ll have to insist that we drop the formalities.  We’ll be just Michael and Maggie.  It will be simpler that way, don’t you think?  And now that it’s actually tomorrow, I’ll wish you a very Happy Birthday.  Go to sleep, Maggie.  I’ll see you next week.  Sincerely, just Michael

Use this universal link to get Resisting Risk at your favorite online bookseller:

books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–Luke & Bella: Two Streets Over

L&B promo3

Luke & Bella: Two Streets Over is always a sentimental favorite of mine.  It’s the first novel I ever wrote, the one that made me think, Hey, maybe I can do this! Still, every time I read snippets, I always find words I’d change or scenes I’d do differently.

Here’s this weekend’s excerpt, straight from Luke & Bella.  Warning: This is definitely an 18+ scene.

“Come with me, baby girl,” he whispered and he led her outside onto the terrace.  The full moon was reflected on the surface of the sea and overhead the stars shone brilliantly.

“Sit,” he said, and she sat on the chaise.  “I want your eyes on me,” he told her as he peeled off his clothes.  She watched him appreciatively.  He held up a finger.

“I’ll be right back.”  He returned with what looked like pieces of fabric.  “I’ve raided all the robes for belts, plus I have a couple of my ties.  I’m going to tie you up, baby girl.”  She felt a shiver run through her body making her nipples stretch and harden.

He had her lie back and put her hands over her head.  Gently, he tied her wrists together and pulled them toward the top of the chaise, securing them underneath.  He couldn’t resist trailing his hand down her body and was rewarded by her light moan.  “Are you liking this, baby girl?” he smiled.

“Yes, Sir,” she breathed.

He tied each ankle to the bottom legs of the chaise, forcing her legs to remain apart.  “Tell me a color,” he demanded.

“Very green, Sir,” she said, smiling.

He moved up to her face and kissed her passionately.  “I’m going to blindfold you,” he whispered, and he used the sash from her pink robe to cover her eyes, checking to make sure she couldn’t see anything.

He left her like that and went to pour himself a glass of Scotch.  He stood sipping, watching her.  What he wanted more than anything was to bury himself in that warm wet place between her thighs.  But if he wanted to teach her patience he would have to have a little himself.

He walked to her swirling his glass, causing the ice to clink softly.  Bella turned her head in the direction of the sound and he smiled to himself.  Fishing some ice out of the glass, he held it over her and watched as the cold drops fell onto her smooth belly.  She gasped and squirmed as much as she was able.  He took the ice and held it to her skin, slowly sliding it toward her fully erect nipples.  She moaned as he circled her nipples with the ice and licked off the cold water and Scotch.  “How are you doing, baby girl?”

“Oh, God!” was all she managed.

He poured the rest of the glass onto her belly, and licked it off.  She moaned and began to slowly move her hips back and forth.  “Patience, baby girl,” he purred.  “Don’t come yet.  I’m not even close to being done with you.”

He moved down to her feet and stood quietly, letting her wonder what would happen next.  Then, kneeling, he leaned over and put his mouth on her sex.  Bella immediately gasped and bucked, but he held on to her thighs as he licked and sucked her mercilessly.  She groaned and cried out, “Oh, God…oh, my…fuck!!!”

She began to pant and he stopped.  “No, baby girl, not yet,” he warned.

“Oh, please!” she cried out.

Luke smiled.  “Please what, baby girl?  What is it that you want?”

“Oh, please…Sir…Please, I want to come,” she breathed.

He moved onto the chaise and up to her lips, kissing her savagely.  “Taste yourself on me,” he growled.  She kissed him hungrily and licked his mouth and chin, lapping up her own sweetness.  He began to slowly stroke her sex with his.  “Ask me again, baby girl,” he whispered.

“Oh, God…please…may I please come, Sir?” she managed.

“Yes, baby girl, I want you to come.”  And she did, so hard she thought she’d rip in two, calling out loudly and not caring.  He watched her shake and shudder as the sensation rolled through her body.

When she stilled, he untied her blindfold and released her hands, leaving her ankles bound.  She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him passionately.  Unable to wait any longer, he slid himself deeply inside her and began to pound her roughly.  She felt her climax building again immediately and she dug her fingernails into his back, groaning and almost unable to breathe.

“You’re going to come again,” he growled.  She did and this time he was there as well, stopping his movements when he was as deeply into her as he could go, and she could feel the spasms of his orgasm shooting his hot release deep inside her.  After, they lay together for a moment, catching their breath.

Then he removed the belt from her neck and moved to untie her feet.  He lay beside her, gathering her into his arms.  “What do you think, baby girl?” he asked quietly.

“Who can think?” she breathed, and he chuckled.

You can buy Luke & Bella: Two Streets Over at this link:

books2read.com/LukeAndBella

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Saturday Excerpt–Ransoming Redemption

Ransoming RedemptionRansoming Redemption, the final chapter in the Rannigan’s Redemption series, launches in just over two weeks on April 18.  It’s the conclusion of the story of the complicated relationship between Manhattan-based attorneys Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn.

Michael Rannigan sees the writing on the wall.  And he’s determined to find redemption.  He knows he’s spent his life keeping everyone at arm’s length.  He’s burned bridges and destroyed friendships, leaving a path of destruction in his wake.  But he thinks he’s found a way to make things right.  At least for the one person who’s never given up on him.

Here’s an exclusive excerpt.

“Her full name is Mary Margaret Flynn,” Michael said.  “Birthplace, Charlotte, North Carolina.  Father’s name, Patrick J. Flynn.  He was an architect, if that helps.”

The other man nodded, jotting quickly in his small notebook.  “You never know what might come in useful.”

“I don’t have a clue about the mother’s name.  Obviously I can’t ask Maggie.”

“That won’t be hard.  Do you have any idea about what the mother did for a living?”  Michael shook his head.  “Well, don’t worry about it.  I’ve done cases where I had less to go on than this,” he said confidently.

“I appreciate this, Sam,” Michael said, standing to shake the man’s hand.

“No problem, Mike.”  Sam’s brow wrinkled slightly as he regarded Michael for a long moment.  “I suppose it’s none of my business, but how are you doing?”

Michael smiled tightly.  “I’m hanging in there.”  The other man recognized the tone and knew not to push the issue further.

Both men heard a key in the lock and they turned in the direction of the front door.  “Hey, Michael, it’s me.”  Maggie walked into the living room, digging into her purse as she did.  “I forgot to check your mail, I can get it…”  She stopped mid-sentence as she looked up at Sam.  “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize…”  Her face broke into a smile.  “Sam Mainor, holy shit, it’s been a while!  How are you?”

He returned her smile.  “Hi, Maggie.  How are you?”

“Well, I’m…” she frowned and looked from Sam to Michael.  “I’m great.  Michael, are you working?”

“Nah, Sam just stopped by to say hello.”

Sam nodded.  “I did, but I’m on my way.  Good to see you Maggie.”  He turned to Michael.  “I’ll call you soon.”

Maggie watched as Michael closed the door behind Sam.  The slight frown was back.  “What was that about?”

Michael shrugged.  “I told you.  He just stopped by to say hello, see how I’m doing.”  She crossed her arms and gave him a skeptical look, clearly not buying his story, so he changed tactics.  “How was your time with Beau?”

She whirled around and headed into the kitchen.  “Great!  We had a nice time,” she called over her shoulder.  “Have you ever been to Holly Springs?”  Michael followed her into the kitchen and leaned casually against the counter, watching her as she focused intently on searching through the fridge.  “Did you eat the chicken I left you?”  She turned to look at him.

Michael smirked at her.  “How was last night?”  He delighted as she blushed profusely.  “Somebody got laid,” he sang lightly.

“Dammit, Michael, do you always have to be so fucking infuriating?”

“I just do it to watch you blush,” he chuckled and she softened a bit.  “Seriously, you had a good time?”

Maggie looked up at him.  “Yeah,” she smiled.  “We had a very nice time.  He’s a really great guy.  Do you know, yesterday morning he did a ‘Make-a-Wish’ thing?”

“I saw it.  You were on television, Mags.”

Her eyes widened.  “What?”

Michael nodded.  “They ran the story before the game last night.”

Maggie breathed deeply, taking in the information.

“So where is lover boy now anyway?”

Maggie shook her head and her eyes blazed.  “Don’t you even start that bullshit!  Or I’ll be out of here so fast it’ll make your head spin and you’ll never see me again.”  Her tone was low and menacing.

He sighed.  “Sorry, Mags.  I’m just teasing you.  Where’s Beau?”

“He’s on his way to work.  I’m going to get a list of what you need and I’ll stop by after work tomorrow.  Are you ready for round two of chemo?”

His shoulders slumped as reality made its reappearance.  “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”  He turned and made his way back to the living room, sinking onto the couch and propping his feet on the coffee table.

Ransoming Redemption is out April 18, and it’s available now for pre-order at these fine online booksellers.

Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo, & Smashwords

Not all caught up on Rannigan’s Redemption?  No problem.  Resisting Risk and Running Rogue are available now at those same retailers.

Saturday Sneek Peak–Final Exclusive Excerpt

Elegant young man in tuxedo looking down while sitting on a stooRannigan’s Redemption: Running Rogue is out on Tuesday!  It’s the highly anticipated second book in the contemporary erotic romance trilogy that follows the complicated relationship between high-powered Manhattan defense attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart, spunky redhead he hired straight out of law school.

The first book, Resisting Risk, ended in something of a cliffhanger.   Running Rogue picks up the story right where that book left off.  Here’s the last exclusive excerpt before the release on February 9.

“Michael?” Maggie asked into the intercom.

“Hey, Mags.” His voice sounded tinny over the ancient device. “I know it’s late. I’m sorry. But when I saw your light on, I mean… Can I come up?”

Maggie hesitated, her finger hovering over the button. “What do you want, Michael?”

“Mags, I just…I just want to talk.”

She shook her head, checking the time again. What the hell? And he’s probably drunk. Standing out there in the rain like he’s got absolutely no sense.

She pressed the door buzzer. “Don’t wake my neighbors,” she admonished him.
Maggie pulled the wooly cream colored robe tighter around herself, tying the belt securely and she stalked to the door, opening it to wait for Michael. She watched him coming up the stairs, his soaked hair matted to his head. His wet shoes squeaked softly with each footfall. She started to say something snippy but noticed the haunted look in his eyes, so she simply stepped back and let him into the apartment. She closed the door behind him and walked to the kitchen counter where she leaned back, crossing her arms, head cocked at him expectantly.

Michael stood just inside the doorway, rainwater pooling all around his feet. He looked ill at ease and uncertain.

“Well?” she finally said.

He ran his fingers through his wet hair and sighed deeply.

“Oh for God’s sake, Michael!” She left him standing there and returned with a large blue towel. “You’re soaked.”

She took his jacket from him and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair. As he used the towel to dry his face and hair, she couldn’t help herself. “Are you drunk?”

He frowned and shook his head. “I’m not drunk. I had some bourbon. I might be drunk. A little.”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Sit down. I’m making you some coffee so we can send you home. Have you eaten lately?”

“I don’t know.” Michael sank onto a chair at the kitchen table. He glanced around as Maggie busied herself putting a kettle of water on the stove and taking a French press from a cupboard.

“I hope I’m not causing a problem with your fiancé. Husband? Whatever.”

Maggie paused to look at him, her lips forming a grim line. “Yeah, well, that didn’t work out so…no worries.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

She worked in silence breaking eggs into a bowl and putting strips of bacon into a skillet as Michael sat at the table and occasionally used the towel to swipe at his face. On the stove, the bacon began to sizzle as the kettle whistled. Maggie poured the boiling water into the press and let it stand for a moment as she chopped a small onion and part of a green pepper.

“Did you know Stan Hodges died?” Michael finally asked.

Maggie arched an eyebrow. “I was at the funeral. Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” he answered vaguely. He watched her grate cheddar into the eggs. Then she pressed the plunger on the coffee and poured some into a cornflower blue mug with a white script ‘M’ on the side.

M for Maggie. Or Michael. He shook his head to dismiss the inane thought. Looking around the small apartment, he asked, “Why are you still here?”

Maggie glanced over her shoulder. “What, I should move uptown into one of your glass and steel monstrosities?”

“I was just thinking that you could afford a bigger place, that’s all.”

“This may be a tiny apartment but this building has soul. Once upon a time, a family called this place home. Maybe I can’t afford to own a whole townhouse but at least I can rent a small part of it.”

Michael watched her for a moment. “You could have bought your own townhouse if you’d stayed with the firm.”

Maggie turned around and leaned against the counter, crossing her arms. “If I’d stayed, I’d have been out of a job along with everyone else. You really tanked everyone, you know that, right?”

He looked down at his hands. “I wouldn’t have pursued the television thing if you’d still been there.”

She snorted, returning to her cutting board. “Bullshit. Being on the news every night is exactly your thing. You can’t put that off on me.”

She set the coffee in front of him. “What are you doing here, Michael?”

He stalled, sipping the steaming hazelnut blend. “This isn’t where I meant to be. I went out and ended up down here in the Village. I was at the Blue Note until they kicked everybody out. I got a little lost and then realized I was across the street from your apartment.”

Maggie turned back to her omelet, stirring in the vegetables. The bacon had quieted down and she turned over the strips, causing them to erupt into loud sizzling once again. “Why are you here?” she asked again.

“I’m sick,” he said quietly.

“I don’t doubt it. It’s forty degrees outside and you’re soaked. It’s a wonder you don’t have pneumonia.”

“It’s cancer.”

Maggie froze mid-stir. “What?” Slowly, she turned around.

“Cancer.”

“Shit.” She crossed to the table and sank onto the chair across from him, gaping at him wide-eyed.

“There was this spot. And then they found out it was melanoma.” Michael’s face twisted. “Mags, you wouldn’t believe the chunk they cut out of my shoulder.”

“Well, they got it then,” she said. “Good. That’s good, right?”

“Bacon’s burning,” Michael said quietly.

“Fuck!” She jumped up and took the pan off the burner.

“I like it that way,” he offered as she set the strips of bacon on a paper towel to drain and poured the omelet into the pan.

“So after they took the hunk out of my arm they did a biopsy. It was melanoma, just like the doctor said. Then they had me get a PET scan. Said they needed to see if it had spread.”

Maggie worked mechanically at the egg mixture in the pan, listening intently as he spoke. “And?” she asked as she slid the omelet onto a blue ceramic plate. She placed it in front of him and sat down again.

“And they called this afternoon to say they have the results. The doctor wouldn’t discuss it over the phone. He wants me to come in tomorrow.” He looked down at the plate. “He said I should have someone with me.”

“Oh my God. Michael.”

He nodded. “I started making phone calls. That’s how I found out about Stan. Which was after I called Murph and then Jimbo. They pretty much told me to go fuck myself.”

Maggie watched him grimly. I imagine they did.

“I called some of the women I go out with. I guess everybody has a lot going on.” He sighed. “I thought about calling you. But, I don’t know. I’ve been an asshole. Plus I figured you were busy with getting married and stuff.” He met her eyes. “I didn’t mean to come here, honest to God.”

She watched him pick at the omelet. “My agent’s pissed at me because I bailed on some appearances. Asking her to come with me is out of the question. She’s probably not in town anyway.”

Michael shook his head. “I don’t know why they’re insisting that someone comes with me to that appointment tomorrow. I should just go and find out what the scan shows, figure out where to go from there. It’s just…” His voice broke. “Mags, I’m scared shitless.” He put down the fork and held his head in his hands.

Maggie could never have imagined a scenario in which S. Michael Rannigan would break down sobbing at her kitchen table. She felt as though her heart would break.

“Michael,” she said softly, standing beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder. His body shook as he let loose the emotions that had been building since the day the nightmare had started. “It’s okay,” she murmured. “It’s okay, everything’s going to be alright.” She waited for him to quiet down. “What time is your appointment?”

You can get your own copy of Rannigan’s Redemption Part 2: Running Rogue beginning on Tuesday at these online retailers.  If you could leave a review where you buy the book, I’d be forever grateful!

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