Weekend Excerpt–Merry Christmas!

This final weekend before Christmas, I’m sending you warm wishes for a wonderful holiday!

And I’m posting one last Christmas excerpt, but this one comes with a warning:
There are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read Rannigan’s Redemption from the beginning, you might want to stop right here.

This snippet comes from the third book of the Rannigan trilogy, RANSOMING REDEMPTION.

Afternoon blended into evening as dusk fell, and Maggie noticed that not only had no one left, they all looked as though they were settling in for a long stay, some even helping themselves to plates of leftovers.

“How are you feeling, Michael?” she asked, squatting beside him.  “Should I start shooing people out of here?”

“Don’t be silly, Mags,” he said, flashing his best Michael Rannigan grin.  “Everybody’s enjoying themselves.  This is the nicest Christmas I’ve had in a long time.”

She looked up at him and smiled, squeezing his hand.  “I’m really glad.”

As she made her way back to the kitchen, her phone buzzed in her pocket. Finally.  Bobby had called early in the morning and they’d chatted briefly, but they hadn’t had another chance to talk all day.

“Hey there, cher,” he greeted her.  “How’s my best girl?”

Maggie laughed into the phone.  “I’m better now.  I’ve missed you all day, but I know you were busy.  We’ve been busy here, too, come to that.”  She walked down the hallway for more privacy.

“Would you believe that everyone is still at Michael’s?” she whispered.  “Nobody has left yet.”

“No?”

“I asked Michael if I should start moving them along, but he seems happy to have them.”

Bobby laughed.  “It sounds like you throw a hell of a party.  Nobody wants to leave.”

“How was your day?  Did Savannah like her present?”  Maggie had sent Bobby with a portable artist’s kit to give the little girl.

“She just loved it.”  Maggie could hear the smile in his voice.  “That child had more stuff by the end of the morning than you would believe.”

Maggie laughed happily.  “Well, good.  I’m so glad.”  She sighed.  “I just wish you were here.”

“Me too, cher, believe me.”

“Do I need to let you go?” she asked.

“Yeah, I should probably get off the phone.”

“Okay, then,” she breathed.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Maggie.  I’ll see you soon.”

Maggie disconnected and made her way back down the hallway towards the living room which was as full of people as ever.  It seemed less than fair somehow that everyone had someone with them today.  Casey had John, Ben had Nate, Rance had Jason, hell, even Michael had Veronica   Whatever happened to the Orphans and Misfits?  She knew she was being petty and tried to shrug it off.

Across the room, Michael looked tired and he was using his oxygen again.  She wondered briefly whether she should just start moving people along in spite of what he’d said.  A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts.

“Hey Mags, could you get that?” Michael asked.

Sighing to herself, she crossed to the door, wondering who’d locked themselves out.  She didn’t notice that as she swung open the door the room fell silent.

“Merry Christmas, cher.”

Momentarily speechless, she froze for second before launching herself into Bobby’s arms.  He had to take a step back to keep from falling.

“Well, I’m glad to see you, too,” he laughed.

Through tears, she sputtered, “But…I mean, what…How did you…”

“Calm down,” he laughed as he carried her into the room.  “Merry Christmas, everybody.”  Bobby gently set Maggie down, and she gripped his hand in hers, unwilling to lose contact with him.

Casey brought a plate of food from the kitchen.  “Hi, I’m Casey.  I figured you were probably hungry.”

Bobby bestowed on her his best lop-sided grin.  “Nice to meet you, Casey.  I’m Bobby.  And thanks, I am pretty hungry.”  He took a seat on the end of the sectional, nodding at Michael.  “Merry Christmas, man.”

Michael smiled, his eyes crinkling.  “Merry Christmas, Beau.  Glad you could join us.”

As Bobby ate, Maggie introduced him to those he hadn’t met.  While everyone went back to their own conversations, she peppered him with questions.  “What happened?  Did you really call me from the hall?  Why did you come back tonight?  I thought you were staying in Louisiana for a couple more days.”

“I wanted to surprise you,” he grinned.

“Well…you did.  I’m so glad.”

Taking her hand, he kissed it gently.  “Let’s go get a breath of fresh air.”  He stood and held her hand, helping her up, and they let themselves out onto the terrace.  The cool air was a nice change from the warmth of the crowded apartment.  They walked to the railing and stood side by side looking out over the city with its sparkling lights and flurrying snow.

“It’s such a beautiful night,” Bobby murmured, and Maggie nodded, tucking her arm around his and resting her head on his shoulder.  “Such a beautiful lady.”

She looked up at him, and he kissed her lightly.  “When I think back on that day that your shoe broke,” he looked down and she giggled, “that seems like the luckiest day of my life.  I think of all the things that had to happen for us to meet at that moment.”  He gazed down at her.  “It’s like it was meant to be.”

He took both Maggie’s hands in his and faced her.  “I love you with all my heart.  I don’t ever want to know a day without you in my life.”  His eyes glittered with emotion and he slowly lowered himself to one knee.  Maggie’s jaw dropped, and her eyes widened.

“So I’m asking…Maggie, will you marry me?”

Maggie felt all the breath leave her body.  In a mad rush, memories from the last few years swirled through her mind, her infatuation with Michael, her engagement to Mike, her resolve to remain alone, that day she and Bobby had met.

She looked down into Bobby’s eyes and saw a twinge of anxiety and realized she hadn’t answered.  Unable to formulate the words, she nodded vigorously as tears filled her eyes.  Two things happened simultaneously.  Relief instantly flooded Bobby’s face, and raucous cheers went up from the crowd who’d pressed up against the living room windows to watch.

“You had me worried for a minute there, cher,” he laughed.  He reached into his pocket and removed a small midnight blue velvet box.  Opening it, he removed something and slid it onto Maggie’s left ring finger.  “You’ve made me the happiest man in the world.”  He stood and gazed down into her eyes before lifting her chin and kissing her passionately.  Again, their audience cheered loudly.

“Bobby, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Maggie said.  “I love it!”

He laughed.  “You can’t even see it.  I hadn’t counted on it being so dark out here.  Come on, let’s go on inside.”

Hand in hand, they went back inside the apartment to the hearty congratulations of their friends.  In the light of a lamp beside Michael, Maggie and Bobby looked at the ring.  The band of delicate platinum filigree held a huge emerald-cut diamond surrounded by dozens of smaller diamonds.

“Oh, Bobby,” she gasped.  “It’s unbelievably beautiful.  So delicate and vintage-looking.”  She turned and threw her arms around his neck.  “I love it!”

“Oh, for God’s sake, can we finally open the champagne?” Ben called out.  As champagne was poured and glasses were passed around, Maggie looked down at Michael who had a Cheshire grin on his face.

“This is the gift Bobby showed you?” she said, tilting the ring his way.  Realization dawned on her.  “And it wasn’t leftover champagne?  And this is why nobody would leave?”

“Everybody except you knew this was an engagement party, Mags,” he said quietly.

“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I said yes,” she said.

“Oh, like you would have said no,” Casey quipped, and everyone laughed.

The Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy is RESISTING RISK,
RUNNING ROGUE, and RANSOMING REDEMPTION.
It’s available as a three-book boxed set, or as individual novels.
Why not start at the beginning?
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–Christmas With the Orphans and Misfits

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling in the holiday spirit!  The decorations are up, the music is playing, I’ve squirreled away gifts for those I love.  So I’m in the mood for a Christmas scene.

This one is from RESISTING RISK, the first book in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy.  Fledgling attorney Maggie Flynn is alone in the world.  Her mother abandoned her and her father when she was a toddler.  And her father during her college years.

So every year, Maggie hosts her annual Orphans and Misfits Christmas for her friends who, like her, have nowhere to go.  One particular Christmas, she has a surprise guest.

“Maggie, is the turkey ready?” Casey asked.

Maggie checked the clock and shook her head.  “No way, it has at least another hour, then it has to rest.  We can put in the beans and the stuffing when it comes out.  Nate, how do we reheat the red beans and rice?”

As Nate answered Maggie’s question, Ben wandered over to the window.  The buzzer rang again.  Ben glanced at Maggie in the kitchen.  “Somebody’s buzzing downstairs, Flynn.”

Casey was helping Maggie turn the turkey around in the oven.  “Well can you please buzz them in?  I’m a little busy here.”

Ben pressed the buzzer but made no move to open the apartment door.  About a minute later there was a knock.  The others were engrossed in the football game.  Ben stayed put.  “Somebody’s at the door, Flynn.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, I’ll just drop everything and get it myself,” said Maggie, tossing down pot holders in exasperation.

Maggie flung open the door to find Michael standing in the hallway.  He grinned sheepishly.  “Merry Christmas, Mags.”

She blinked, confused.  “Michael, I…I mean, Merry Christmas.  But what…Shouldn’t you be in St. Bart’s?”

“I got snowed in.  My flight was canceled.  I have a charter later on, but I thought I’d stop by here.  Do you have room for another orphan?”

A slow smile spread across her face.  “Of course, there’s always room.  Come on in.”

Maggie turned to find that everyone in the apartment was watching the two of them.  “Everyone, this is Michael.  Michael, everyone.”

“Hello, Merry Christmas,” he greeted the group.  To Maggie, “I brought wine.  I wasn’t sure…”

“Wine is perfect, thanks,” she told him.  Waving toward the kitchen she said, “Help yourself to something to drink.  We’ve been enjoying the munchies out of your gift basket.  Dinner will probably be another hour or so.”  She smiled at him.  “I’m so glad you’re here.  Shocked, but glad.”

After he dropped his coat and his suitcase in Maggie’s bedroom with the other coats, Michael got a beer for himself and settled in the living room, striking up a conversation with the guys watching football.  Casey sidled up to Maggie in the kitchen.  “You didn’t tell me Mr. Wonderful was coming.”

“I didn’t know Michael was coming.  He’s supposed to be in the Caribbean.  With someone, you understand, nobody goes to the Caribbean alone.”

“Maybe.  But he’s here now.”

Michael relaxed on the couch and looked around appreciatively at all the activity.  Maggie and Casey were in the kitchen along with a couple he didn’t know.  There was an older woman chatting with Nate from the firm.  Several others were watching football.  Everyone seemed happy and at home.

“This is nice,” he commented to Ben.  “It feels like a scene from Rent.”

Ben smirked.  “Viva la vie Boheme!” he raised his beer.

Michael chuckled and raised his beer as well.  “La vie Boheme.”

Dinner was served on three tables pushed together in the middle of the living room.  Plates were filled buffet-style in the kitchen.  Ben insisted that Maggie toast before they ate.

She raised her glass of wine.  “I feel like the luckiest girl.  I’m here celebrating the holiday with my most favorite people in the entire world.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.  Merry Christmas!”

After everyone ate as much as they could, the guys agreed to do all the clean-up.  Maggie supervised returning the tables to their proper places then sank onto the sofa, resting her feet on the coffee table.

“What about the dessert, Flynn?” Ben asked when the leftovers were packed up.

“Let’s be informal.  Grab some if you want some.  I want to do presents,” Maggie said.  Michael brought her a fresh glass of wine.  She looked up at him, grinning in appreciation, and patted the space beside her.

“I’ll sit on the floor, I don’t mind,” he said, sliding to a spot beside her feet.

“Now the way this works is, everyone takes a number.  We go in order starting at 1.  Number 1 picks first.  Number 2 can pick a new present or steal from Number 1.  Everybody got it?” Ben asked.  Maggie watched in amusement as some played shyly while others were cut-throat.

“What’s this?” Michael asked quietly.  She looked down to see him holding an ornament from the tree.  It was a small red glass ball held by a green paper cone.  Her name was spelled out in glitter.

“I think I was about six when I made that,” she smiled.  “The Christmas ornaments were some of the few things I took from my dad’s house.”

He grinned.  “I like it.”

When the gifts were over, Maggie had a new hand-crocheted toilet-roll cover.  Michael had a $10 gift card to Starbucks.  “Guess somebody didn’t get the memo,” he quipped so that only Maggie heard, and she giggled softly.

He winked and leaned close.  “Mags, I should be making my way to the airport.”

“Okay,” Maggie sighed.  “I’ll walk you out.”  She got her coat and hat while he said his goodbyes.  “I’ll be right back,” she said to Casey as they headed out of the apartment.  They walked down the stairs without chatting.

Once out on the sidewalk, Michael turned and faced her.  “I had a great time, Mags.  Thanks for inviting me.”  He glanced up.  “We have an audience, by the way.”  He waved at the crowd gathered in Maggie’s front window.

She looked up at them, scowling.  “Come on,” she said, turning right and heading down the sidewalk.  She stopped just around the corner.

Michael smiled.  “Thanks.  I just wanted to say goodbye privately.  I brought you a gift, but I didn’t want to give it to you in front of everybody.”  He pulled a small flat box from his pocket.  It was light blue, tied with a white ribbon.

Maggie’s eyes widened.  “Sean Michael Rannigan, you did not!”

“How did you know the S stands for Sean?

She shrugged.  “Everyone knows it’s Sean.  I can’t believe you went to Tiffany…”  She stopped and looked up at him, smiling sadly.  “This wasn’t for me.  This is supposed to be for someone else.”

“No, Mags, this is for you,” he said earnestly.  “I mean, to be honest, I went there yesterday looking for something for Jana.”

“What, Toys R Us and GapKids were closed?” Maggie quipped.

“Ah-hah-hah, you’re very funny.  I found a little trinket to give to Jana, but then I turned and saw this.  All I could think was that you should have it.  It’s for you, Mags.”

Curious, Maggie slowly pulled the white ribbon and lifted the lid.  In the box resting on light blue velvet was a delicate silver bracelet.  It had a vintage look to it with large rectangular milky white cabochons alternating with trios of small round diamonds surrounded by platinum filigree.  She looked back up at Michael, eyes wide.

“Those are moonstones,” he said proudly.  “This was in the vintage case.  It was made in 1915.”  He gazed at the bracelet.  “It’s graceful and classy, just like you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Michael.  I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.  Will you help me put it on?”

He lifted the bracelet from the box and as Maggie held out her left hand, he fastened it around her wrist.  She held it out and watched it catch the natural light.  As she did, she noticed a tiny platinum tag hanging from the clasp.  Peering closer she saw that it was engraved.  To Maggie, From Michael. 

“See?  I told you it was for you.”  She looked back up at him, eyes shining, and as she did, a gust of wind caught some stray hair, blowing it across her face.  Michael gently moved the errant strands, tucking them behind her ear.  Without planning it at all, he planted a tender kiss on her lips.

He moved back slightly as Maggie looked up at him, eyes shining with desire.  He leaned into her again, the kiss this time all heat and passion.  She brought her left hand up to cradle his right cheek, her desire matching his.  When he stopped kissing her, he pulled her close, tucking her under his chin and they stood like that for a moment.

Finally, he gently set her back from him.  She looked up, the sad glint once again in her eyes.  After all, he was leaving her to go to someone else.  “Merry Christmas, Mags.”

“Merry Christmas, Michael.”

The newly re-edited RESISTING RISK is available
at your favorite online bookseller,
in both eBook and paperback formats.
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–It’s the Holiday Season!

Happy December!
I’m in the mood for holiday stories, so this teaser is from WARRIOR MINE, Dream Dominant Book 4.

When Blake and Amy returned to Lake Miranda the week before Christmas, snow blanketed the compound.  After the lake froze solid, and Scott’s students either hiked to the island or were shuttled by snowmobile.

His last session before the holidays ended just before Blake and Amy came home, but the lodge had guests scheduled throughout Christmas and New Year’s.  Trina and the restaurant staff came up with a festive holiday menu, and Walker’s on the Lake was completely booked for both holidays.

When Jackie called her parents to ask about their holiday plans, she was surprised to find out that the elder Walkers had reservations for a Christmas cruise to the Caribbean.  “Your father just couldn’t stand the thought of all that snow,” Ann laughed.  “You all have a wonderful holiday!”

Blake and Amy agreed to spend Christmas at Jackie and Scott’s house, the better to enjoy the kids’ excitement on Christmas morning.  The day after they returned, Scott and Blake took Grant and Emma snowmobiling in the forest to find a proper Christmas tree to set up in the window of Scott and Jackie’s family room.

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.”

One-click WARRIOR MINE at Amazon.

 

New Holiday Release from Annalise Delaney

BB a twisted little chris

A TWISTED LITTLE CHRISTMAS

By Annalise Delaney

Twisted Christmas EBOOK COVER FINAL Annalise Delaney.jpg

BLURB

Facing a lonely Christmas Eve, Devin O’Hannigan accepts a stranger’s invitation to a private holiday party—hoping to score. But when the merriment takes a bizarre twist, he retreats by himself to call it a night… Until his attention is captured by a teary-eyed Santa in a very short skirt.

Holly’s quest to find herself again ends in a disastrous Christmas date, leaving her discouraged and alone in a town far from home. But when her date returns, angry and violent, she’s rescued by a gorgeous stranger—the kind of guy she once would have pursued. But that was before.

Seeking cheer but preferring anonymity, they embark on an innocent game playing the roles of old friends catching up. Without encumbrances, honest conversations uncover hidden desires. Sparks fly, directing them to an outcome they hadn’t expected and shouldn’t pursue. But will it thrust them into each other’s arms or leave them longing for what could have been?

BUY LINKS
iTunes – http://apple.co/2iPtVL2

Kobo – http://bit.ly/2yeKdSY

B&N – http://bit.ly/2C3yZE8

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SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

https://www.annalisedelaney.com/

http://www.subscribepage.com/adelaneynewsletter

https://www.facebook.com/annalisedelaneyauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/ohannalise

https://twitter.com/ohannalise

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36633708-a-twisted-little-christmas

Weekend Excerpt–Christmas At Michael’s

RR Christmas

Merry Christmas!  Here’s wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays!

This weekend excerpt is a Christmas scene from RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION, a three-novel contemporary erotic romance.  Inveterate player Michael Rannigan is a founding partner and the public face of the Manhattan law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny.  Hiring smart redhead Maggie Flynn to join his elite 50th floor team changes his life in ways he never imagined.

Enjoy this holiday teaser, but beware…SPOILERS abound.

Michael glanced around his living room and sighed deeply as an unfamiliar wave of contentment washed over him.  He’d missed the Orphans and Misfits since he and Maggie had parted ways and had forgotten how much he’d enjoyed being in the midst of all the joyful chaos.

After their late-afternoon buffet-style dinner, the handful of children in attendance opened their gifts.  Then Ben headed up the annual gift exchange, handing out numbers and presiding over the picks and swaps.  Maggie and some of the others set out dessert on the dining room table and made sure that the bar was stocked with plenty of cups and ice so that everyone felt free to help themselves.

Ensconced in his spot close to the windows at the far end of the huge leather sectional, Michael realized that everywhere he looked, he saw people who were connected in some way to himself or Maggie or both.  Rance, Jason and a few more were out on the terrace taking in the view.  A handful of others watched a football game on television.  Across the room, Nate and Ben chatted with a petite blonde woman.

That’s Casey, Maggie’s friend from law school, he reminded himself.  Casey’s husband John was on the floor in front of the Christmas tree with their little boy, putting together something with Legos.  Closer to Michael, sitting on the floor leaning against the sectional, Maggie was playing a game of peek-a-boo with a toddler who was sitting on her lap.

That must be Casey’s daughter, he thought, judging by the little girl’s nearly white blonde hair.  In his mind’s eye, he saw Maggie playing the game with a red haired child, and he smiled contentedly.  It’s all coming together.  

Veronica slid onto the sofa beside him.  “You’re looking awfully pleased with yourself.”

Michael grinned.  “That’s because when you’re good, you’re good.  And I’m good.”  He winked at her.

“And oh, so humble,” she purred, fixing him with a mocking exasperated smirk.

Casey joined Maggie on the floor.  “How’s Princess Nastypants doing?” she asked, taking her daughter from Maggie.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, this is the sweetest child,” Maggie said, laughing.

“Well, she’s momentarily charmed by her Aunt Maggie, but don’t let her fool you.  We’re up to our eyeballs in the ‘terrible twos.’ ”

Afternoon blended into evening as dusk fell, and Maggie noticed that not only had no one left, they all looked as though they were settling in for a long stay, some even helping themselves to plates of leftovers.

“How are you feeling, Michael?” she asked, squatting beside him.  “Should I start shooing people out of here?”

“Don’t be silly, Mags,” he said, flashing his best Michael Rannigan grin.  “Everybody’s enjoying themselves.  This is the nicest Christmas I’ve had in a long time.”

She looked up at him and smiled, squeezing his hand.  “I’m really glad.”

As she made her way back to the kitchen, her phone buzzed in her pocket. Finally.  Bobby had called early in the morning and they’d chatted briefly, but they hadn’t had another chance to talk all day.

“Hey there, cher,” he greeted her.  “How’s my best girl?”

Maggie laughed into the phone.  “I’m better now.  I’ve missed you all day, but I know you were busy.  We’ve been busy here, too, come to that.”  She walked down the hallway for more privacy.

“Would you believe that everyone is still at Michael’s?” she whispered.  “Nobody has left yet.”

“No?”

“I asked Michael if I should start moving them along, but he seems happy to have them.”

Bobby laughed.  “It sounds like you throw a hell of a party.  Nobody wants to leave.”

“How was your day?  Did Savannah like her present?”  Maggie had sent Bobby with a portable artist’s kit to give the little girl.

“She just loved it.”  Maggie could hear the smile in his voice.  “That child had more stuff by the end of the morning than you would believe.”

Maggie laughed happily.  “Well, good.  I’m so glad.”  She sighed.  “I just wish you were here.”

“Me too, cher, believe me.”

“Do I need to let you go?” she asked.

“Yeah, I should probably get off the phone.”

“Okay, then,” she breathed.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Maggie.  I’ll see you soon.”

Maggie disconnected and made her way back down the hallway towards the living room which was as full of people as ever.  It seemed less than fair somehow that everyone had someone with them today.  Casey had John, Ben had Nate, Rance had Jason, hell, even Michael had Veronica   Whatever happened to the Orphans and Misfits?  She knew she was being petty and tried to shrug it off.

Across the room, Michael looked tired and he was using his oxygen again.  She wondered briefly whether she should just start moving people along in spite of what he’d said.  A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts.

“Hey Mags, could you get that?” Michael asked.

Sighing to herself, she crossed to the door, wondering who’d locked themselves out.  She didn’t notice that as she swung open the door the room fell silent.

“Merry Christmas, cher.”

Momentarily speechless, she froze for second before launching herself into Bobby’s arms.  He had to take a step back to keep from falling.

“Well, I’m glad to see you, too,” he laughed.

Through tears, she sputtered, “But…I mean, what…How did you…”

“Calm down,” he laughed as he carried her into the room.  “Merry Christmas, everybody.”  Bobby gently set Maggie down, and she gripped his hand in hers, unwilling to lose contact with him.

Casey brought a plate of food from the kitchen.  “Hi, I’m Casey.  I figured you were probably hungry.”

Bobby bestowed on her his best lop-sided grin.  “Nice to meet you, Casey.  I’m Bobby.  And thanks, I am pretty hungry.”  He took a seat on the end of the sectional, nodding at Michael.  “Merry Christmas, man.”

Michael smiled, his eyes crinkling.  “Merry Christmas, Beau.  Glad you could join us.”

As Bobby ate, Maggie introduced him to those he hadn’t met.  While everyone went back to their own conversations, she peppered him with questions.  “What happened?  Did you really call me from the hall?  Why did you come back tonight?  I thought you were staying in Louisiana for a couple more days.”

“I wanted to surprise you,” he grinned.

“Well…you did.  I’m so glad.”

Taking her hand, he kissed it gently.  “Let’s go get a breath of fresh air.”  He stood and held her hand, helping her up, and they let themselves out onto the terrace.  The cool air was a nice change from the warmth of the crowded apartment.  They walked to the railing and stood side by side looking out over the city with its sparkling lights and flurrying snow.

“It’s such a beautiful night,” Bobby murmured, and Maggie nodded, tucking her arm around his and resting her head on his shoulder.  “Such a beautiful lady.”

She looked up at him, and he kissed her lightly.  “When I think back on that day that your shoe broke,” he looked down and she giggled, “that seems like the luckiest day of my life.  I think of all the things that had to happen for us to meet at that moment.”  He gazed down at her.  “It’s like it was meant to be.”

He took both Maggie’s hands in his and faced her.  “I love you with all my heart.  I don’t ever want to know a day without you in my life.”  His eyes glittered with emotion and he slowly lowered himself to one knee.  Maggie’s jaw dropped, and her eyes widened.

“So I’m asking…Maggie, will you marry me?”

Maggie felt all the breath leave her body.  In a mad rush, memories from the last few years swirled through her mind, her infatuation with Michael, her engagement to Mike, her resolve to remain alone, that day she and Bobby had met.

She looked down into Bobby’s eyes and saw a twinge of anxiety and realized she hadn’t answered.  Unable to formulate the words, she nodded vigorously as tears filled her eyes.  Two things happened simultaneously.  Relief instantly flooded Bobby’s face, and raucous cheers went up from the crowd who’d pressed up against the living room windows to watch.

“You had me worried for a minute there, cher,” he laughed.  He reached into his pocket and removed a small midnight blue velvet box.  Opening it, he removed something and slid it onto Maggie’s left ring finger.  “You’ve made me the happiest man in the world.”  He stood and gazed down into her eyes before lifting her chin and kissing her passionately.  Again, their audience cheered loudly.

“Bobby, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Maggie said.  “I love it!”

He laughed.  “You can’t even see it.  I hadn’t counted on it being so dark out here.  Come on, let’s go on inside.”

Hand in hand, they went back inside the apartment to the hearty congratulations of their friends.  In the light of a lamp beside Michael, Maggie and Bobby looked at the ring.  The band of delicate platinum filigree held a huge emerald-cut diamond surrounded by dozens of smaller diamonds.

“Oh, Bobby,” she gasped.  “It’s unbelievably beautiful.  So delicate and vintage-looking.”  She turned and threw her arms around his neck.  “I love it!”

“Oh, for God’s sake, can we finally open the champagne?” Ben called out.  As champagne was poured and glasses were passed around, Maggie looked down at Michael who had a Cheshire grin on his face.

“This is the gift Bobby showed you?” she said, tilting the ring his way.  Realization dawned on her.  “And it wasn’t leftover champagne?  And this is why nobody would leave?”

“Everybody except you knew this was an engagement party, Mags,” he said quietly.

“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I said yes,” she said.

“Oh, like you would have said no,” Casey quipped, and everyone laughed.

Rannigan’s Redemption is available at your favorite online bookseller.
Use this link: books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

Maggie’s Orphans & Misfits Christmas–Holiday Excerpt from Rannigan’s Redemption

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Maggie Flynn, smart red-haired lawyer from Rannigan’s Redemption, was raised by her father after her mother abandoned them both when Maggie was small.   When he died while she was in college, she found herself alone in the world.

Rather than indulging in self-pity and despair, she forges ahead, gathering a collection of friends who, like herself, are alone.  And at Christmas, she makes sure no one spends the holiday by themselves, creating a tradition called the Orphans and Misfits Christmas.  If someone has nowhere to go for Christmas, they know they’re welcome at Maggie’s.  Occasionally, someone surprising shows up.

This excerpt is from RESISTING RISK, Book 1 of Rannigan’s Redemption.

“Maggie, is the turkey ready?” Casey asked.

Maggie checked the clock and shook her head.  “No way, it has at least another hour, then it has to rest.  We can put in the beans and the stuffing when it comes out.  Nate, how do we reheat the red beans and rice?”

As Nate answered Maggie’s question, Ben wandered over to the window.  The buzzer rang again.  Ben glanced at Maggie in the kitchen.  “Somebody’s buzzing downstairs, Flynn.”

Casey was helping Maggie turn the turkey around in the oven.  “Well can you please buzz them in?  I’m a little busy here.”

Ben pressed the buzzer but made no move to open the apartment door.  About a minute later there was a knock.  The others were engrossed in the football game.  Ben stayed put.  “Somebody’s at the door, Flynn.”

“Oh for God’s sake, I’ll just drop everything and get it myself,” said Maggie, tossing down pot holders in exasperation.

Maggie flung open the door to find Michael standing in the hallway.  He grinned sheepishly.  “Merry Christmas, Mags.”

She blinked, confused.  “Michael, I…I mean, Merry Christmas.  But what…Shouldn’t you be in St. Bart’s?”

“I got snowed in.  My flight was cancelled.  I have a charter later on, but I thought I’d stop by here.  Do you have room for another orphan?”

A slow smile spread across her face.  “Of course, there’s always room.  Come on in.”

Maggie turned to find that everyone in the apartment was watching the two of them.  “Everyone, this is Michael.  Michael, everyone.”

“Hello, Merry Christmas,” he greeted the group.  To Maggie, “I brought wine.  I wasn’t sure…”

“Wine is perfect, thanks,” she told him.  Waving toward the kitchen she said, “Help yourself to something to drink.  We’ve been enjoying the munchies out of your gift basket.  Dinner will probably be another hour or so.”  She smiled at him.  “I’m so glad you’re here.  Shocked, but glad.”

After he dropped his coat and his suitcase in Maggie’s bedroom with the other coats, Michael got a beer for himself and settled in the living room, striking up a conversation with the guys watching football.  Casey sidled up to Maggie in the kitchen.  “You didn’t tell me Mr. Wonderful was coming.”

“I didn’t know Michael was coming.  He’s supposed to be in the Caribbean.  With someone, you understand, nobody goes to the Caribbean alone.”

“Maybe.  But he’s here now.”

Michael relaxed on the couch and looked around appreciatively at all the activity.  Maggie and Casey were in the kitchen along with a couple he didn’t know.  There was an older woman chatting with Nate from the firm.  Several others were watching football.  Everyone seemed happy and at home.

“This is nice,” he commented to Ben.  “It feels like a scene from Rent.”

Ben smirked.  “Viva la vie Boheme!” he raised his beer.

Michael chuckled and raised his beer as well.  “La vie Boheme.”

Dinner was served on three tables pushed together in the middle of the living room.  Plates were filled buffet-style in the kitchen.  Ben insisted that Maggie toast before they ate.

She raised her glass of wine.  “I feel like the luckiest girl.  I’m here celebrating the holiday with my most favorite people in the entire world.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.  Merry Christmas!”

After everyone ate as much as they could, the guys agreed to do all the clean-up.  Maggie supervised returning the tables to their proper places then sank onto the sofa, resting her feet on the coffee table.

“What about the dessert, Flynn?” Ben asked when the leftovers were packed up.

“Let’s be informal.  Grab some if you want some.  I want to do presents,” Maggie said.  Michael brought her a fresh glass of wine.  She looked up at him, grinning in appreciation, and patted the space beside her.

“I’ll sit on the floor, I don’t mind,” he said, sliding to a spot beside her feet.

“Now the way this works is, everyone takes a number.  We go in order starting at 1.  Number 1 picks first.  Number 2 can pick a new present or steal from Number 1.  Everybody got it?” Ben asked.  Maggie watched in amusement as some played shyly while others were cut-throat.

“What’s this?” Michael asked quietly.  She looked down to see him holding an ornament from the tree.  It was a small red glass ball held by a green paper cone.  Her name was spelled out in glitter.

“I think I was about six when I made that,” she smiled.  “The Christmas ornaments were some of the few things I took from my dad’s house.”

He grinned.  “I like it.”

When the gifts were over, Maggie had a new hand-crocheted toilet-roll cover.  Michael had a $10 gift card to Starbucks.  “Guess somebody didn’t get the memo,” he quipped so that only Maggie heard, and she giggled softly.

He winked and leaned close.  “Mags, I should be making my way to the airport.”

“Okay,” Maggie sighed.  “I’ll walk you out.”  She got her coat and hat while he said his goodbyes.  “I’ll be right back,” she said to Casey as they headed out of the apartment.  They walked down the stairs without chatting.

Once out on the sidewalk, Michael turned and faced her.  “I had a great time, Mags.  Thanks for inviting me.”  He glanced up.  “We have an audience, by the way.”  He waved at the crowd gathered in Maggie’s front window.

She looked up at them, scowling.  “Come on,” she said, turning right and heading down the sidewalk.  She stopped just around the corner.

Michael smiled.  “Thanks.  I just wanted to say goodbye privately.  I brought you a gift but I didn’t want to give it to you in there.”  He pulled a small flat box from his pocket.  It was light blue, tied with a white ribbon.

Maggie’s eyes widened.  “Sean Michael Rannigan, you did not!”

“How did you know the S stands for Sean?

She shrugged.  “Everyone knows it’s Sean.  I can’t believe you went to Tiffany…”  She stopped and looked up at him, smiling sadly.  “This wasn’t for me.  This is supposed to be for someone else.”

“No, Mags, this is for you,” he said earnestly.  “I mean, to be honest, I went there yesterday looking for something for Jana.”

“What, Toys R Us and GapKids were closed?” Maggie quipped.

“Ah-hah-hah, you’re very funny.  I found a little trinket to give to Jana, but then I turned and saw this.  All I could think was that you should have it.  It’s for you, Mags.”

Curious, Maggie slowly pulled the white ribbon and lifted the lid.  In the box resting on light blue velvet was a delicate silver bracelet.  It had a vintage look to it with large rectangular milky white cabochons alternating with trios of small round diamonds surrounded by platinum filigree.  She looked back up at Michael, eyes wide.

“Those are moonstones,” he said proudly.  “This was in the vintage case.  It was made in 1915.”  He gazed at the bracelet.  “It’s graceful and classy, just like you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Michael.  I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.  Will you help me put it on?”

He lifted the bracelet from the box and as Maggie held out her left hand he fastened it around her wrist.  She held it out and watched it catch the natural light.  As she did, she noticed a tiny platinum tag hanging from the clasp.  Peering closer she saw that it was engraved.  To Maggie, From Michael. 

“See?  I told you it was for you.”  She looked back up at him, eyes shining, and as she did, a gust of wind caught some stray hair, blowing it across her face.  Michael gently moved the errant strands, tucking them behind her ear.  Without planning it at all, he planted a tender kiss on her lips.

Couple in love on the background of the spring city.

He moved back slightly as Maggie looked up at him, eyes shining with desire.  He leaned into her again, the kiss this time all heat and passion.  She brought her left hand up to cradle his right cheek, her desire matching his.  When he stopped kissing her, he pulled her close, tucking her under his chin and they stood like that for a moment.

Finally, he gently set her back from him.  She looked up, the sad glint once again in her eyes.  After all, he was leaving her to go to someone else.  “Merry Christmas, Mags.”

“Merry Christmas, Michael.”

Treat yourself Rannigan

Use this universal link to get the complete
RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION boxed set
at your favorite online bookseller.
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An Interview with Michael Rannigan from Rannigan’s Redemption

handsome young man

On Sunday, December 17, I’ll be taking over a Facebook event called Book Elves on the Shelves from 5pm-6pm EST.  In preparation for the event, I was called upon to write a character interview.

After some thought, I decided to interview Michael Rannigan from RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION, and I have to confess, it was amazing getting back in his head.  Obviously, I love all my characters, but there’s something about Michael that sticks with me after all this time.  I thought I’d share the interview with you.

An Interview with Michael Rannigan:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

Michael Rannigan: Well, I’m a lawyer.  Earned my law degree at NYU here in Manhattan.  I’m a founding partner at Murphy, Rannigan, and Metheny, along with my buddies Brian Murphy and Jim Metheny.  Those guys and their associates practice a lot of different kinds of law.  Up on the 50th floor, we specialize in high profile defense.  When the rich and famous get into trouble, they call me.  *laughs*

Q: You’ve had an associate working with you for a number of years, Maggie Flynn.  Tell us about her.

MR: Maggie?  She’s a good addition to the team.  Smart, a hard worker.  Has an eye for detail, that’s for sure. She’s a great lawyer.

Q: There are those who say the two of you are close.  Are you romantically involved with Maggie?

MR: *blinks hard* No.  Next question.

Q: That question seemed to bother you.

MR: I date a very specific type of woman.  Even if I were to break my rule about going out with a colleague, which I wouldn’t, Maggie’s not my type.  I like blondes with big *waves hands in front of himself* egos and low expectations.  I’m not a ‘relationship’ kind of guy.  *gazes at hands*  Maggie deserves better than that.  *looks up suddenly*  That was off the record.

Q: Of course.  What are your plans for Christmas?

MR: *confident smile returns* I’m jetting off to Barbados that afternoon.  But I’ll probably pop by Maggie’s place that morning, say Merry Christmas to everyone gathered for her annual Orphans and Misfits Christmas celebration.

Q: Thank you for talking with me today.

MR: *nods* My pleasure.

Rannigan’s Redemption, my three-novel spicy vanilla law drama, is the story of the complicated relationship between bad boy Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart redhead he hires to join his prestigious firm.

Michael is a rogue, an inveterate player with a stable of surgically-enhanced bottle-blondes at his beck and call.  Maggie’s smart and capable, maybe even a better lawyer than Michael, if he stops to think about it.  She’s too smart for his sexual tastes, definitely not his type.  So why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Maggie has been in love with him from the beginning.  She knows how he operates, and that the situation is all but hopeless.  But she sees the man he could be.  For now, she’s content to work with him.

What would happen if they crossed that line?

Indulge Rannigan

The three Rannigan’s Redemption books, RESISTING RISK, RUNNING ROGUE, and RANSOMING REDEMPTION are available individually, or as one boxed set.  Full disclosure, the first book ends in something of a cliffie, so…

You can get the complete boxed set of Rannigan’s Redemption here: books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

And please join me Sunday at Book Elves on the Shelves.  It should be lots of fun!