Weekend Excerpt–CHASING ORDINARY

Petey is Nik’s first taste of ordinary.
And everything he ever wanted.
If he doesn’t blow it.

Red-haired Petey Cavanaugh is a sculptor who welds steel and glass creations. A young widow, she lives on her in-laws’ sheep ranch in Montana where she helps out during the day, working on her art at night.

Looking to raise money to expand the ranch’s business, she gratefully accepts her art school roommate’s offer of a gallery show in Manhattan. It’s been years since she was in the city, and she’s happy to visit her old friend.

Nik is in New York on business. He’s been traveling for nearly a month, enduring endless meetings, attending obligatory dinners, and battling jet lag. On his way to yet another business dinner, his world collides with Petey’s one rainy Manhattan night.

Their mutual attraction is immediate, but Nik’s skeptical. Could it possibly be that this gorgeous, enchanting artist has no idea that he’s Europe’s most eligible prince?

Spending time with Petey is Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary. What will happen when she finds out the truth?

In this snippet from CHASING ORDINARY, Petey and Nik get a second chance at a first impression.

Petey stared into the dressing room mirror. “Oh, my God, I look like Alice Cooper on a three-day bender!”

“And we’re getting a picture of it, too,” Colin said, snapping a photo with his phone before she could protest. “Because this is going to be a hell of a ‘before and after.'”

Colin clapped his hands loudly. “Okay, people, we have an extreme makeover. STAT. Let’s see…” He circled Petey, brow knit in concentration. “First, we ditch this horrid dress. Honey, I don’t know what you were thinking.”

“Unh, this was my friend Jules’ idea,” Petey snapped back.

“Well, what did you do to make her hate you, because this thing is a nightmare. Arms up,” he directed.

“This from a guy in orange pants,” Petey snarked, as she raised her arms. Two female assistants gripped the hem of the dress and pulled it over her head.

“These are harvest rust, and they’re Prada.”

“Dude, they’re orange.” Uncomfortably, she clutched her arms in front of herself in a vain attempt to cover her panties and bra.

Colin barked with laughter. “I like you. You’re feisty.” He continued to peruse her closely. “And you have great tits.”

He reached to cup one of her breasts and she batted his hand away. “Hey! Watch it!”

He just rolled his eyes. “Honey, please! Tits are not my thing, except the way they fill out couture.”

To one of the assistants, he snapped, “Elaine, go to the stash of Agent Provocateur and find something in a, what? 34D?” Petey nodded mutely.

“And Zoe? I’m seeing her in that pink Solace London. The one with the mock turtleneck?” The two women hurried off, presumably to find what they’d been sent to get.

Colin turned back to Petey. “Get out of your wet undies and slip on a robe. We’ll get you cleaned up, and then we’ll polish you until you sparkle. Don’t worry about a thing.” He winked at her and sent her on her way.

For the next twenty minutes, an entire team worked to put Petey back together. Her hair was washed and her face was cleaned. While someone worked on her makeup, another person gave her a pedicure, while a third did her nails. Finally, her hair was blown out.

Colin returned to inspect their handiwork. Nodding approvingly, he smiled at Petey. “Okay red, in the dressing room, you’ll find new lingerie, a dress, and a pair of shoes. Get dressed and come on out.”

Petey stepped into the dressing room and closed the door. The mirror was covered with paper, and she’d only seen a maddeningly brief glimpse of herself in the makeup chair. A plush chair held a cardboard box lined with tissue paper. Inside were a pretty bra and panty set. A pink dress hung on a hook on the wall, and she saw a shoe box on the floor.

Lifting the bra from the box, she admired the sheer burgundy fabric, embroidered with peach and deep pink flowers. The tag still hanging from the garment announced its price–$215. Petey gaped. The matching panties turned out to be a thong, priced at $130.

Her most extravagant lingerie purchases had been a few bras from the Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sale. It had taken over an hour to find something she liked, and she’d had a sneaking suspicion they’d made a stack of ugly bras just so they could discount them.

Shaking off her reservations, she dressed quickly, careful to pull the dress over her head without looking at the tag. It seemed better not to know.

The shoebox held a pretty pair of mauve velvet ankle-strap stilettos. She sank onto the chair and fastened them on her feet. God, what I wouldn’t give for a mirror right now.

Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was exactly twenty-five minutes since he’d left her to go upstairs. He. She had no idea of his name. In all the chaos, she hadn’t thought to ask.

When she opened the dressing room door, a crowd was waiting, with Colin smack in the middle. There was a collective gasp as he snapped a photo. The group burst into applause, and Colin took a bow. “That, ladies and ladies, is why they call me the ‘miracle worker’.

He took Petey by the hand. “Come look,” he said. He led her to a tri-fold mirror at the top of a small dais. “Go ahead,” he nodded.

Petey carefully climbed the three steps to the top, and stopped short. Gazing back at her was the most beautiful self ever to greet her from a mirror. Her long red hair was blown out silky and smooth, her makeup, including false eyelashes, expertly applied. The pastel pink dress fit her like it was made for her, the mock turtle collar hugging her neck, leaving her shoulders and arms bare. The clingy knit hugged her curves, and the hem hit just below her knees. The color complimented her hair and skin flawlessly.

Colin stepped up behind her. “Naturally, the dress is meant to be shorter. But because you’re such a shorty, it hangs longer on you. If we had the time, I’d have it taken up.”

Petey turned to him, eyes shining. “Thank you so much. I can’t possibly afford these things. I’ll take them to the one-hour cleaner first thing tomorrow and return them.”

The man gave a friendly chuckle. “Don’t worry about it, sweetie.”

“Hello? Is she ready?” a male voice called.

Petey turned around. Her rescuer had returned. For the first time, she noticed his British accent. Their eyes met and she gasped lightly. He was the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. His dark blond hair was neatly trimmed, a thin scruff of beard defining the contours of his chiseled square jaw. Deep blue eyes gazed back at her, wide with apparent surprise.

Certainly, she’d looked different when last he’d seen her. As had he, to be honest. He was now dry, his hair neatly back in place. While the suit he’d worn earlier had been blue, the current one was a deep charcoal.

They stared across the room for what felt like an eternity. Finally, she broke the ice. “Hi.”

“Hello,” he replied softly. “Are you ready?”

Petey looked to Colin, then back at him. “Yes, I think so.”

“Before I send you back out into the monsoon, I’m putting a coat on you. No more getting drenched.” An assistant appeared with a trench coat in a black and white chevron pattern. Colin helped her into it.

She threw her arms around him. “Thank you! Thank you for everything.”

“My pleasure, red. You come back and see me anytime. I mean that.” He kissed both her cheeks. “Have fun.”

She headed to the doorway where he waited. He called across to Colin. “Thank you. You’re a lifesaver.”

Colin laughed and waved. As the pair left, he shook his head. “Well, kids, I think we just witnessed history.”

CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks

CHASING ORDINARY is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary

Weekend Excerpt–Coming Soon…

What if you met the right man…
at the wrong time?

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

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. It turns out that 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 business 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 choice. 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? And has she finally met the right man at the wrong time?

Here’s a brand-new (and unedited) teaser from THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE.

Outside, Ben sat lost in thought. A glance down at the table showed that he’d taken his pencils and sketchbook out of his bag, but he had no recollection of having done so. His mind was still back on the redhead inside. 

She’d appeared out of nowhere, just like the woman in his dreams, only this time, she’d turned around. He’d immediately found himself lost in her deep brown eyes. She’d seemed a bit surprised, but then he’d been staring right at her. How could he not? She was the girl he’d seen countless times, only now in the flesh.

Every once in a while, he risked a glance over his shoulder back into the coffee shop, as though she’d disappear like she always did in his dreams. But this was no dream. This was real life. And his last glance showed that she was on her way with a tray.

A new customer arrived at the door at the same time she did, holding open the door for her as she came out. “Thanks,” Ben heard her say. Then she was at his table.

“Your usual,” she said pleasantly. “Sorry it took so long. I’m new here.”

The huge blue mug she placed in front of him reeked of pumpkin and featured a mountain of whipped cream that doubled its size. Ben frowned at the drink and looked back up at the redhead. Then he glanced over his shoulder and saw Gina doubled over with laughter behind the counter.

Smiling softly, he nodded at the latte. “I think they played a joke on you.”

Her red eyebrows were knit in confusion. “This isn’t your usual?”

“My usual is just plain black coffee.”

The plump pink lips pressed together tightly as she shot a look inside. “I’m sorry. I’ll take care of it right away.”

A wicked idea crept into his mind. “Thanks. Be sure and tell Gina that I’m highly allergic to pumpkin.”

The woman’s eyes widened with alarm. “Holy shit, I am so sorry!” She immediately snatched up the mug. “I’ll be right back with your coffee.”

Suppressing the urge to laugh, Ben watched her scurry back into the shop and gesture animatedly as she spoke to her co-workers. Gina’s face shifted from amusement to stark terror as she looked his way. 

For his part, Ben shifted a judgmental eyebrow her way before turning around and laughing to himself. A moment later, the redhead came back out, this time with a regular-sized cup of coffee on her tray.

“I am so sorry about that,” she gushed. “My new friend in there apparently thought she was being hilarious. It’s all fun and games until someone gets rushed to the hospital with anaphylactic shock, right?”

“Confession…” Ben’s lips twisted sheepishly. “I’m not actually allergic to pumpkin. I’m just not a fan.”

The redhead crossed her arms and her lips formed a large O.

“But,” Ben hurriedly added, “we don’t have to tell Gina that, do we?”

After a beat, a huge smile spread across her face and she chuckled. “I love it! She’s in there feeling terrible. I think I’ll let her swing in the breeze for a while.”

Her smile outshone the sun that inched its way overhead, and Ben felt bathed in warmth. He reached out his right hand.

“I’m Ben.”

Still smiling, she took his large hand in her own petite one. “I’m Charley. It’s nice to meet you, Ben.”

He nodded, still feeling as though he were in a dream, as though at any moment, his alarm would sound and she would disappear. Belatedly, he realized he was still holding her hand and he released it quickly.

“Charley,” he repeated softly.

She rolled her eyes. “It’s a nickname for Charlotte, which no one has ever called me in my entire life.”

Ben sat absorbing her words, absorbing the shape of her face, the tilt of her head, the smattering of freckles across her nose.

“Well,” she said into the silence, “I’d better get back to it. But I think I’ll keep our little secret for a while. It amuses me,” she laughed. “Let me know if I can get you anything else.”

“Will do,” he managed. “See you later, Charley.” 

From the door, she wiggled her fingers in a little wave, then she was gone.

Blowing out a slow breath, Ben blinked mechanically as his mind replayed the last ten minutes of his life. 

She’s real. It was a ridiculous thought. Charley was, well, Charley, not some dream lover who sometimes haunted him in his sleep. He glanced over his shoulder and saw her wiping down a table in the far corner of the shop.

Reaching for his pencil, he turned to a new page. Whatever he’d been about to sketch was forgotten. He now had something completely different in mind.

Unedited excerpt from THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE is coming soon.
Keep watching for the official cover reveal.

Meanwhile, check out BROKEN HARTS
at your favorite online bookseller.

Weekend Excerpt–BROKEN HARTS

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!

Here’s a little teaser…

The elevator deposited Ali on the 4th floor of the 12-story 1920s brick apartment building. She made her way down the hallway to the door of 4D, the place she had always considered her home. 

Using her old brass key, she let herself inside and headed through the foyer toward the living room. “Dad? I’m home,” she called softly, hoping not to disturb her father in case he happened to be napping.

His live-in housekeeper met her in the living room. “Good afternoon, Miss Alison. Your father is in his study. He’s been a bit…unfocused today,” Mrs. Smith related in her crisp British accent. 

Mrs. Smith had been a fixture in the Hart home since Ali could recall. When Jackson and Connie had divorced during Ali’s junior year in high school, Mrs. Smith had been a steadying presence.

Ali frowned, trying to decipher the woman’s polite description. The sound of papers shuffling and a deep unintelligible muttering drew Ali’s attention toward Jackson’s office down the hallway.

She smiled reassuringly at Mrs. Smith. “Thanks! I’ll go see what’s going on.” She was positive she saw relief in the older woman’s eyes.

“Dad?” she called as she walked down the hall. She popped her head in the doorway of her father’s small office. 

Backlit by the window behind him, he stood in the center of the room clutching a sheaf of papers in each hand. His shaggy gun-metal grey hair stuck out wildly in all directions, giving him the air of a deranged madman. He was also naked from the waist down.

“Aw, geez, Dad, you have to wear pants. Seriously, now, Mrs. Smith is going to quit if you keep doing this.”

“I can’t find it,” he said urgently. “I can’t find it anywhere. Someone broke in and stole my manuscript.”

“Let’s go get you dressed and I’ll help you find what you’re looking for,” Ali said patiently.

**

“I’m really sorry about Dad,” Ali apologized. “I had no idea things had gotten so bad.”

Following a dinner of Mrs. Smith’s famous pot roast and roasted green beans, Jackson had wandered into the den to watch the news on cable. Ali insisted on helping the housekeeper clean up in the kitchen.

“You know I consider you and your father family,” Mrs. Smith smiled kindly. “It’s just that I’m not as young as I used to be. I worry that I won’t be able to keep Mr. Hart safe.”

Ali shook her head. “It wasn’t your fault that he got lost that time.” She raised a knowing eyebrow. “I know Brendan and Megan probably told you that it was.”

The elderly housekeeper gave something of a Mona Lisa smile and said nothing.

“It’s not your job to keep him from leaving the apartment.” Ali sighed deeply. “I looked at that care home today. It was really awful.”

She frowned sharply. “Well, it wasn’t awful, exactly, it just…wasn’t for Dad. He’s so independent. I’m thinking of seeing if we can’t hire a full-time nurse-slash-companion for him, someone who’ll stick with him and keep an eye on him. That way he can keep his independence and still be safe.”

Mrs. Smith’s eyes twinkled with kindness. “You’re a good daughter,” she said simply. “I know you’ll make the right decision.”

When they’d finished with the kitchen, Ali bid the housekeeper goodnight and joined her father in the den. Together they watched a documentary until the old man began to nod off in his chair.

“Come on, Dad, let’s get you to bed,” Ali said softly.

She helped him change into a pair of plaid flannel pajamas and waited while he performed his bathroom tasks. Then she tucked him into bed.

“Goodnight, Dad,” she murmured, kissing his scruffy cheek.

“Goodnight, Ali-gally,” he returned, invoking his favorite nickname for her. “I’m glad you’re home.”

“Me, too,” she smiled, giving him another kiss. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

After a quick shower, Ali found herself comfortably ensconced in her own bed, staring up at the ceiling of her childhood bedroom as light and shadows from the city street outside formed familiar shapes. The day had been so hectic that she hadn’t had time to consider the man she’d met when she’d gotten off at the wrong subway stop. 

Well, met? That might be a strong word, she decided. They hadn’t exactly exchanged names. They had barely exchanged words. And yet…

She linked her fingers together and cradled her head as she sighed deeply. And yet, the man’s image was burned into her brain. In her imagination, she watched him materialize. First were those sea-blue eyes, alight with life and soul and passion. Or did she just imbue him with those qualities in the absence of actual knowledge?

Next came those utterly kissable lips, quirked in a lopsided sort of way as though he were privy to a joke no one else had yet heard.

In her mind’s eye, his square jaw formed, defined by dark stubble that made her want to cup his cheek. The stubble matched his dark wavy hair that seemed slightly mussed on purpose, as though he might be due a haircut any day now.

In her bed on Park Avenue, Ali closed her eyes and heard his voice in her imagination. 

“Can we…”

Ali’s eyes popped open. Can we what? She pursed her lips in thought. 

Can we share a cab downtown? Run off together to Rome? Drop right here and do it doggy style?

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” she muttered, feeling herself blush. Again, she cursed herself for being in such an all-fired hurry to leave. 

It had been on impulse that she’d flattened her palm on the inside of the subway window. And he’d followed suit on the outside. He’d been as intrigued as she’d been.

She mulled the idea for a moment, then shook her head. Because ultimately, what difference did that make? She didn’t know his name, where he lived, whether he was single or married…

There was one thing she did know. She wanted to know more about him.

Sighing again, she shifted onto her side and willed herself to meet him in her dreams.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is available

at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/BrokenHarts