Weekend Excerpt–Better Than Staring at His Package

He’s just a guest, like any other visitor to Sweetwater Ranch.
No way will Anna fall for the famous Angus McGregor.

There was a buzz of excitement when world-famous actor Angus McGregor made a month-long reservation at Anna Graves’ family business, the Sweetwater Guest Ranch in Wyoming. Her sister-in-law can barely contain herself.

But Anna’s heart was broken years before, and she’s not about to let the handsome red-haired Scottish actor turn her head. She’ll just go about her business, and soon enough, he’ll go back to his.

Angus McGregor is taking on the challenge of his career. He’s risking everything to produce, direct, and star in a western film that will either establish him as a major force in Hollywood, or reduce him to a laughing stock. But first, he needs to learn to ride a horse.

Anna intrigues him from the moment they meet, but he’s fresh off heels of his own romantic disaster. He’s determined to keep his head down and focus on putting together the best film he can. Too bad he can’t stop thinking about Anna…

Here’s a little (unedited) teaser from ANNA’S HEART.

As the last of the stragglers left the dining room, Anna left her mother and Simone to finish breakfast cleanup. A huge stockpot of hearty beef stew simmering on the stove would be ready for lunch in a few hours. Simone and Mrs. Graves would eventually make their way upstairs to join Lana in freshening up the handful of guestrooms located in the main lodge.

Anna would see to the cabins by herself, a job she’d insisted on as Simone and her baby bump had grown more and more unwieldy. Sweetwater Ranch wasn’t a hotel, really, so the day-to-day housekeeping was fairly light. While fresh sheets were available upon request, staff didn’t make beds or change the sheets on a daily basis.

On the other hand, between riding horses, working with cattle, and practicing outdoors skills, guests tended to get grubby as they participated in ranch activities, so daily fresh towels were a must. Anna also preferred to spot-clean the bathrooms and kitchens, straighten anything out of place, and remove the trash each day.

It was definitely easier when she split the duties with Simone, but over the past few months, Anna had worked out a routine that allowed her to finish her housekeeping duties in about an hour. And that left her plenty of time to make sure she was ready for her afternoon riding session before she headed back to the kitchen to help with lunch.

As usual, she started with Cabin 1 and worked her way back. The first five cabins, the newest of the bunch, were nearly always occupied for every session, summer and winter alike. When they had a larger-than-normal group of guests, the older cabins were used, beginning with number 6.

She herself occupied number 7, then numbers 8 and 9 were available to guests. Ross lived alone in Cabin 10. Andy and Simone had an apartment on the top floor of the main lodge, while Anna’s parents remained in the family quarters just off the lodge kitchen. It was where Anna and her brothers had grown up, and their father before them.

The newer cabins had been built when Anna was in high school. They were nicer than the older ones, but they were smaller. As she drove the golf cart from Cabin 5 to Cabin 6, she wondered what movie star Angus McGregor thought of his rustic accommodations. On the one hand, his cabin was larger than the others. But on the other hand, it was older. The amenities weren’t as new and the bathroom and kitchen hadn’t been updated.

Fresh towels folded over her arm, Anna snorted as she walked up the front steps of Cabin 6. Angus McGregor, cooking for himself in the little cabin kitchen!

Right! I’m still surprised he deigns to show up at mealtime, she thought to herself. Figured he’d call the front desk expecting room service.

Pausing at the door, she knocked lightly. “Housekeeping!”

She knew that at that time of the morning, he was in Andy’s riding group. It was why she did these chores right after breakfast. Everyone had someplace to be, and it was a rare instance when someone was actually in their cabin.

Still, it was better to be on the safe side. She knocked again, then unlocked the door and let herself in. A quick scan showed the open living room/kitchen combination to be neat and tidy, save for a bunch of index cards spread all over the kitchen table.

She craned her neck to look at them briefly as she made her way to the kitchen trash can. Quickly, she removed the bag and replaced it with a fresh one, placing the old bag beside the front door. Everything else in the kitchen looked in order so she carried the fresh towels down the short hallway to the bathroom. Still envisioning the famous actor trying to cook something on the older-model gas stove, she smirked as she opened the bathroom door.

Clouds of steam rolled over her as a very naked Angus McGregor, towel in hand, froze stock-still.

“Anna?” Eyes wide, he moved the towel down to his waist, but not before Anna got an eyeful of a most impressive cock.

“Holy shit!” she gasped, stumbling backward into the hallway wall.

As she turned and rushed down the hallway, she heard his bare feet padding along behind her.

“I’m so sorry,” she offered without bothering to turn around. “You’re supposed to be riding right now.”

“Aye, about that,” he answered, “I switched to a different session.”

“I knocked, I swear I did.” Clutching the towels, she still faced the door. “I didn’t mean to just barge in on you.”

“I’m just back from a run. I didn’t hear ye over the shower. Anna?” His tone was soft.

Slowly, she turned around, willing her eyes to stay away from the bulge beneath the towel around his waist. She allowed her gaze to skim up his rippled abs to his muscular chest and wide shoulders. Water still dripped from his hair and he swiped a hand across his face.

Oh, yeah, that’s definitely better than staring at his package.

“It’s okay, really. Just a miscommunication is all. No worries.”

Utterly humiliated, Anna nodded mutely and turned back toward the door.

“Anna? Can I have the fresh towels?”

She rolled her eyes and turned back, handing over the towels. “Oh, yeah, of course. I just…well, I usually exchange them for the old towels.”

“Do ye want this one?” His grin was wry.

“No! Holy shit, no keep that on,” she squeezed her eyes shut and waved her hand. “I’ll get it tomorrow.”

She opened the door and let herself out onto the cabin’s covered porch, then stopped.

“Wait a second! You switched to what different riding session?” Turning back around, she placed her hands on her hips.

Lips pursed as though he were suppressing another grin, he leaned his shoulder on the doorway. “I’ve never ridden a horse before. I requested tae be placed in the Beginners’ group.”

“But that’s my group.”

“So I was told. I didn’t think ye’d mind.”

Anna worked her mouth, unable to come up with the proper words.

Blue eyes sparkling, he watched as though to see what she’d come up with.

Finally, her articulation skills gained traction. “But it’s a kids’ group. They’re all kids.”

He nodded. “Aye, I was told that, too. And they’re beginners, just like me.” He tilted his head thoughtfully. “If ye don’t want me in the group, just say so.”

“No, it’s not that, it’s just…” Anna’s heart pounded and she felt her head spinning. She willed herself to be anywhere except where she was. “Fine. It’s just fine. If you don’t mind riding with the kids, I’m sure they won’t mind.”

She hurried down the steps and got into the golf cart. “Well, again, sorry for…” She trailed off, feeling sheepish. The amusement sparkling in his eyes didn’t help at all.

“I’ll see ye at lunch,” Angus said, chuckling.

“See you,” Anna nodded, pressing the accelerator and speeding off down the trail.

ANNA’S HEART by Pandora Spocks

ANNA’S HEART is due out in early 2020.
Until then, why not get acquainted with the first two
Redheads & Ranchers books?
JENNY’S VOICE and HUNTER’S PRIDE
are available at your favorite online bookseller.

ANNA'S HEART, Redheads & Ranchers Book 3

The first two books in my Redheads & Ranchers series, JENNY’S VOICE and HUNTER’S PRIDE are currently available at your favorite online bookseller. These days, I’m busy working on the third and final book of this collection of stand-alone contemporary steamy romance novels.

In ANNA’S HEART, Anna Graves works hard helping to run her family’s Wyoming dude ranch.  Still reeling from the tragic loss of her smokejumper fiancé in a horrific wildfire, she’s content to hide from the world as she teaches horseback riding lessons to tourists by day and reads smutty romance novels by night.

When world-famous Scottish actor Angus McGregor needs to brush up his cowboy skills in preparation for his starring role in a new Western, he heads to Sweetwater Ranch in the boondocks of Wyoming.  He’s immediately fascinated by Anna, who won’t give him the time of day.  Can he break down the self-protective wall she’s built?

Here’s a little teaser from ANNA’S HEART.

After lunch, Anna led her first beginners’ riding class of the new session. This time around, she had six eager young riders between the ages of five and twelve, and for two hours, she led them through their paces. By the end of the following week, each student would be able to groom and saddle his or her own horse, and they’d be competent enough to participate in the overnight trail ride and camp-out with their families.

When her riding class was over, Andy helped her untack her horses, and they worked together to feed and water the entire stable of fifteen equines.

“Guess that actor guy isn’t coming,” he commented as he and Anna left the barn and headed for the lodge.

Anna shrugged. “I guess not.”

“Simone was really looking forward to meeting him.”

“Maybe you should be relieved,” she grinned at her brother wryly. “Sounds like she might decide to just ride off with Angus McGregor.”

Andy held up his hands in mock surrender. “I just want to keep the pregnant lady happy.”

“Hang in there, not much longer now,” Anna observed. “Just a few more weeks.”

When they entered the lodge, several of Anna’s new students ran to greet her.

“Anna! Anna! This is my mom and dad!” cried the youngest of her students, a tiny towhead blonde named Ariel.

Anna grinned broadly. “Hi, Mom and Dad. It’s nice to formally meet you.”

The mother smiled. “She can’t stop talking about riding Rocket.”

“We named him Rocket kind of ironically. He’s really slow,” Anna laughed, thinking affectionately of the old bay.

“Well, Ariel had a good time. We’re excited about the camp-out at the end of next week,” the father said.

Anna nodded. “That’s usually the highlight of everybody’s stay.”

Across the room, Vanessa waved to Anna. “If you’ll excuse me,” she offered before heading off to find out what her mother wanted.

“A flyer came in the mail today. Founders’ Day is next week.”

Anna frowned slightly at the brightly colored page her mother thrust into her hands. The bulk of the page was a vintage photo of Main Street in Crystal Springs, overlayed with jaunty graphics declaring the annual Crystal Springs Founders’ Day celebration.

Back in the late 1860s, the nearby town of Crystal Springs had sprung up practically overnight as a mining boomtown. The coal vein had played out by the middle of the following century, but the small town was proud of its heritage. Each summer, they celebrated what they thought of as Founders’ Day with a parade down Main Street followed by a giant picnic, and capping off the evening with a family-friendly town dance.

There was a time when Anna looked forward to the annual event. Now, she scowled at the announcement.

“I’d like that put on the bulletin board on the front porch,” Vanessa said. “I’ll mention it at dinner, but I want to make sure all the guests know they’re invited to attend.”

Anna nodded and headed toward the front door.

“And Anna?” her mother called after her.

She stopped and turned around.

“I expect you to go this year.” Vanessa arched an eyebrow, daring her daughter to argue.

Anna stalked back to the reception desk. “I don’t want to go. Why do you insist that I go?”

“Because it’s time you started getting out, meeting people.”

Swallowing her rising irritation, Anna gritted her teeth. “I meet people.” She waved toward the guests wandering through the lodge’s lobby. “They’re all people.”

“You know what I mean.”

Huffing in frustration, Anna turned on her heel and headed back toward the door.

“You will go. I don’t want to hear any more about it.”

Wordlessly and without turning around, Anna waved the flyer in the air and marched out the door. Opening the glass front of the bulletin board, she silently fumed at her mother.

For fuck’s sake! I’m twenty-fucking-six years old! I don’t need to be told what to do and how to do it, where to go and when. I make my own decisions. Besides, there are always things that need to be done around the ranch. Everyone can’t go gallivanting into town. Somebody has to stay back and hold down the fort.

Part of her told her she was making way too much out of her mother’s request that she attend the celebration in town. But the rest of her was in no mood to be reasonable. She tacked up the flyer and closed the protective glass door, deciding she’d go remind her mother about the need for someone to stay behind during the festivities.

She turned abruptly and ran headlong into something solid. The next thing she knew, she and a tall red-haired man landed in a tangled heap on the front lawn.

“Oof,” he managed as he lay gasping for air.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you standing there.” Anna scrambled to her feet and reached down to help the man stand.

Slowly, he allowed her to pull him up. Green-tinted Rayban aviators askew and a pair of bags strewn on the grass, he coughed slightly as he straightened to his full height.

Anna figured he had to be well over six feet tall, maybe as much as six and a half feet, judging by the way he towered over her five-foot-four frame.

“Are you okay?” she asked him.

He nodded, reaching to straighten his sunglasses and run his fingers through his red hair. “Aye, had the wind knocked out of me is all. And that’s a fine welcome, I must say,” he replied in a thick Scottish brogue.

Feeling her cheeks color, Anna reached to brush the dirt off the man’s sleeve. “I’m really sorry! It was totally my fault. I should have been watching where I was going.”

“Aye, you should have,” he grinned wryly, “but then I’d have missed being tackled by a bonnie lass such as yourself. Do you play rugby, perchance?” His laugh was hearty, almost infectious.

Mortified, Anna started to gather up his belongings, but he stopped her with a gentle hand on her arm. “I’ve got my bags, thanks.” He hoisted a large leather duffel bag onto his broad left shoulder and picked up a matching suitcase. “I have a reservation for McGregor. Do I check in here?”

“Um, yes,” Anna nodded. “Just this way.” Still blushing, she led the way up the front steps and into the lobby. With a pair of tortoiseshell-framed readers perched on the bridge of her nose, Vanessa Graves stood at the check-in desk efficiently tapping something on a keyboard. When she looked up and saw her daughter with their new guest, she smiled brightly.

“Mr. McGregor is checking in,” Anna said meekly, wishing she could melt through the floorboards.

“I’d be happy if you’d just call me Angus,” he said quickly.

“I’m Vanessa Graves. Welcome to Sweetwater Ranch, Mr. M–Angus,” Vanessa greeted him. “We’re happy to have you here.”

“I’m happy to be here. You have a lovely ranch, from what I’ve seen so far.” He glanced Anna’s way and she blushed furiously.

Mrs. Graves turned and retrieved a brass key from an old-fashioned wooden key rack behind the front desk. “Here you are. Cabin 6. Anna will take you there.”

She handed him the key and smiled cordially. “You’ll find a folder in your cabin with this week’s schedule. Once you settle in, I hope you take the opportunity to explore the ranch. And dinner is here in the dining room at 6:00.”

While Anna silently shot daggers at her mother, Angus’s full-wattage grin was charming. “That sounds perfect. Thank you, Mrs. Graves.”

He turned and looked at Anna expectantly.

“Oh, um, right this way.” She turned, shooting one last glare at her mother, and led their new guest back outside.

ANNA’S HEART by Pandora Spocks

You’ll have to wait to read the rest of ANNA’S HEART.
But you can download JENNY’S VOICE and HUNTER’S PRIDE now!

New From Sierra Brave! Triple Naughty Christmas

Title: Triple Naughty Christmas by Sierra Brave

Series: Triple Passion Play – Book Four

Hash tags: #Menage #BisexualRomance #RomanticComedy #Holiday

Release date: 29th November 2019 (Preorder Available)

Amazon Buy Links: US, UK, CA, AU

Also Available at other Major Retailers: https://books2read.com/u/bzvGw9

Blurb

Navigating the Yuletide season can be a challenge for anyone but after hosting their family Christmas celebration for more than fifteen years, forty-something mom, Trisha Marks-Davidson, believes she’s conquered Santa and tamed all of his reindeer. Anything but ordinary, Trisha’s family of seven consists of herself, her two husbands, Tommy and Ken, and their four kids. Despite their unusual situation, she’s cultivated a system for a fun-filled holiday packed with their own special traditions.

Trisha, Tommy, and Ken are pleased with the quiet, comfortable life they’ve built together but are disturbed to learn the novelty of their three-way union still hasn’t worn off for some members of their community even after nearly two decades. A last-minute decision to attend a neighborhood Christmas party could be the trio’s undoing. The opportunity to set the record straight is there for the taking but actions speak louder than words and temptation is all around them.

Although reading any of the previous books in the Triple Passion Play series would add to your enjoyment, Triple Naughty Christmas can be enjoyed as a stand-alone, HEA story.

Warning: This book contains graphic language and sexual situations, homosexuality as well as a positive depiction of a bisexual poly-relationship. If you will be offended, please do not read.

Excerpt

As soon as she breached the threshold of the main room, loud moans resonated through the music, and the meaning of the sign on the door to the basement entrance became clear. They were at a swinger’s party. There were only about fifteen to twenty other people in the room besides her and her husbands, and many of them were in various stages of undress. A table close to the entrance held a large bowl of condoms and a collection of sex toys. A mattress on the floor made-up with red silk sheets and lots of pillows served as a hotbed of sexual activity. Trisha’s first instinct was to grab her men and run out of there but curiosity and her desire not to look like an idiot who lives with two men but bolts like a frightened rabbit at the first sign of an erotic display, kept her feet planted.

“The bar is over there.” Sophie pointed out the obvious. “We have draft beer and bottles, wine or the bartender can make you a cocktail if you prefer. He’s a member too.”

“Here.” Trisha looked around with wide eyes as she absently held up the bag containing the bottle of wine. “This is for you.”

“How sweet! Thank you.” Sophie accepted the gift. “I want to introduce you to some of my friends.” The redhead turned her attention to Trisha’s husbands, who were practically cowering by the condom bowl. “You guys can mingle a minute, right. I’m going to steal her for a bit. Have fun!”

As she allowed the mother of her daughter’s friend to drag her along, Trisha tossed a look back at Ken and Thomas she hoped they’d recognize as: Don’t you dare.

Sophie brought her over to a round table where a candle burning in the middle added some extra visibility, illuminating the faces of the two women seated there. One of the ladies, a tall, middle-aged brunette sat sideways, showing off her long, shapely legs as she crossed one over the other. She had a great body, but her countenance suffered due to the pucker lines around her mouth and her pronounced crow’s feet. Trisha couldn’t place her, but she recognized her from somewhere.

“Do you have a kid at East Elementary?” The woman asked before Sophie got around to introducing them, being too busy retrieving a corkscrew to open the wine Trisha brought.

Trisha could feel her cheeks growing warm and red. The last thing Trisha wanted to do was discuss her kids at a sex party. “Why?”

“Sherry, ixnay on the ids-a,” The other dark-haired woman at the table tried her hand at pig Latin, “You know the rules—no talk of the little ones. It kills the mood.”

“Sorry, I know. It’s just, you look familiar. I’m the cafeteria manager there.” Sherry looked Trisha up and down as she spoke, her eyes lingering on her breasts. Trisha smiled and nodded at the woman’s explanation without commenting on her own family.

“Now don’t go frightening my girl away, Sherry.” Sophie chuckled as she slipped a necklace of red beds around Trisha’s neck. “Red means stop. No one will go after you until you take them off.” After placing an arm around Trisha, Sophie rubbed her hip. Trisha tensed, her tummy turning a flip.

“This beauty is Trisha, and both of those two hotties over there are hers.” Sophie’s thick eyebrows lifted way up on her forehead as she gestured to Ken and Thomas at the bar.

A dark-haired woman whistled in admiration. She was an exotic-looking beauty, likely Hispanic, with a tan skin tone and big, brown eyes. Her features were perfectly spaced with high cheekbones and full lips. Her unbuttoned blouse revealed a red, lace bra, and her messy hair radiated an aura screaming she’d recently been fucked.

“I’m Regina.” The beautiful lady held Trisha in her gaze as Sophie filled her glass with her free hand. Trisha extended her hand and her new acquaintance shook it firmly.

“Regina’s a personal trainer.” Sophie’s voice resonated in Trisha’s ear as she waited for Regina to let go of her. “Her boyfriend is my husband’s law partner.” Regina began to caress Trisha’s fingers with her thumb.

“So how does it work? Do you alternate nights or does one of them travel a lot?” Sherry jumped right in with the invasive questions, ready to settle her curiosity.

“Um, well,” Trisha removed her hand from Regina’s grasp as she attempted to control her nerves while adjusting to the uncomfortable situation. The blunt question had thrown her off guard. Just breath. Just breath. What do you care? You’re not ashamed. She took a deep breath, clutching her hands together. “Tommy travels quite a bit, but it’s not like that.”

“Well…how is it?” Sherry leaned forward her irises fully visible as she fixed her attention on Trisha while biting down on her bottom lip. Trisha glanced at Sophie for help, but judging by her expression, she was dying to know as well.

*****

Other books in the Triple Passion Play series: Can love between three survive?

Rock You Like a Hurricane

The Power of Three

Baby Makes Four

Connect with Sierra

Website: http://sierrabrave.rocks/

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Cover Reveal! BLOOD AND SPICE by Lilah E. Noir

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Title: Blood and Spice (The Witch, The Shifter, The Vampire)
Author: Lilah E. Noir
Genre: Dark Romance, Paranormal Romance, M/f/m menage
Release Date: November 28, 2019

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Teaser

Two powerful men. One conflicted woman. A dark night of submission and taboo, decadent pleasure and sweet agony.
WARNING! This book is intended for mature audiences. It’s a paranormal love story with a lot of steam and hot scenes as well as situations of power exchange featuring a sexy dominant witch who gets to explore her submissive side, her werewolf pet and a mysterious stranger with sharp fangs who pushes them past their limits. It’s a short read – one night stand of sexy literature.

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Little Teaser

Laurel only realized they weren’t alone when the velvet voice caressed her ear and two hands squeezed her shoulders in an iron grip. Corwin’s eyes widened, and he yelled at her to watch out but he was bound and helpless.
“Are you sure about that, pet?” The stranger whispered next to her neck. A rush of panic went through her when something cold and sharp pressed against her skin. “The tables are turning, Laurel. Tonight you’ll taste our whips… and so much more. Happy Halloween.”

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Lilah E. Noir is an author of dark erotic novels and psychological stories. Her work has elements of taboo, seduction and different aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, with a touch of romance and tenderness. If you love flawed characters, submissive alpha females, unconventional dominant heroes, angst, emotional darkness, lots of kinky sex scenes her books might be your kind of pleasure.

LINKS

Visit my website – http://lilahenoir.com

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Subscribe to my YouTube channel for book trailers and audio samples –

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Weekend Excerpt–MIDNIGHT COVE

A few months ago, I was invited to join an anthology of fall romantic suspense novels. I jumped at the chance to write a story that has been swirling around in my brain for a while. Here’s the official blurb for MIDNIGHT COVE.

They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove, still waters harbor dark secrets.
Writer Bree Blaylock just wants a chance to catch her breath. 
Having finally escaped an abusive relationship, she’s relieved to have found a quiet place to finish writing her new book.  
From the moment she arrives, she realizes that
she’s not alone in her rented cottage on the lake. 
But she’s okay with that.
In her experience, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.
Meeting handsome local lawman Jake Hanson wasn’t even remotely on her radar. 
Now that she has, maybe it’s time to take another chance on love.  
But can he keep her safe when the past comes calling?

MIDNIGHT COVE was a chance to stretch my writing into contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. How about a teaser?

When the battered white pickup disappeared around a bend in the long gravel drive, Bree Blaylock kept her foot steady on the gas pedal of her 1975 Beetle.  Mr. Meyer would wait. 

After her long drive, she wanted to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the ancient live oaks that lined the way from the highway to the house she planned to rent for the next two months. 

Grey-green tendrils of Spanish moss dripped from the broad branches that arched over the gravel driveway.  Though the September air was crisp, brilliant sunlight filtered through the moss-hung trees and dappled the ground in patches of gold.

Beside her on the passenger seat, Murphy whined.  Bree glanced at him and smiled.  “It’s okay, boy.  We’re almost there.”

While for her the 8½ hour drive from Tampa to western South Carolina had seemed long, for her three-year-old yellow lab, it must have seemed interminable.  Although for his first big road trip, Murphy had done remarkably well. 

As the yellow VW curved around the next bend, the house came into view.  It was the 1920s Craftsman-style house she’d discovered online, a charming vintage structure of pale-green clapboard, two stories high with an additional narrow attic perched in the center at the top. 

The covered front porch ran beyond the width of the house to form a carport on the left side.  Wide front steps led up to the porch, its arched supports perched on cream-painted columns that were wider at the bottom than they were at the top. 

Ahead, Mr. Meyer had parked his truck and stood waiting for her.  She pulled up beside him and opened her door.  Before she could get out, Murphy scrambled across her and ran happily snuffling around the front lawn.

“This is the house,” the man said, hooking a thumb over his shoulder.

Bree nodded.  “It looks exactly like it did online.”  She glanced up at the front of the house.  A hint of movement in the attic window caught her eye, and she frowned slightly.

“I took the pictures myself,” Mr. Meyer informed her.  “My rental’s on the up and up.”

“I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t, I just meant that it looked familiar.”  Bree flicked a glance back up to the attic, then followed the man up the front steps.

As he unlocked the heavy front door, Bree noted the beveled glass panes in the top third of the wood panels.  She loved everything about the vintage home.  It was exactly what she’d been looking for when she’d decided to leave Florida.

The door swung open, and Mr. Meyer preceded her inside.  While Bree took in the high ceilings and dark wood trim in the living room, he launched into his tour narrative. 

“You can see the parlor,” he commented over his shoulder as he continued toward the back of the house.  “Back here’s the kitchen and the den.  ‘Course, you’ve got lake views from any room on the back of the house.”

Mesmerized by the tranquil sight of the lake, Bree approached the bank of windows that ran along the back wall of the open-concept kitchen and den.  She sighed deeply. 

This.  This was exactly what she needed.

He led her upstairs, showing her four bedrooms in total, two overlooking the front of the house, and two, including the master, overlooking the lake.  A large bathroom featured vintage tile and an antique clawfoot bathtub.  Off the master bedroom, a terrace doubled the deck downstairs off the den.  A door in the hallway led up a narrow flight of stairs to a small attic that ran front to back like a spine across the top of the house.

Mr. Meyer led the way back down to the first floor.  Bree couldn’t resist returning to the windows overlooking the lake. 

“What was it you say you do?” he asked.

She turned and smiled softly.  “I’m a writer.”

Hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans, he nodded.  “It’s unusual, is all, you wanting to rent the cabin this late in the year.”  He nodded toward the lake.  “Folks like to come in the summer to swim and fish and that.  In the fall now, it’s quiet.  Only a handful of people live on the lake year-around.  Most people live in town.”

“Quiet sounds perfect to me.  I have a deadline, and I need to get busy writing.”

The man nodded again, pursing his lips.  “And we agreed on a price?”

Bree rummaged through her leather shoulder bag and produced a white envelope.  She held it up.  “We did.  And you accepted my cash offer.”

He shrugged slightly.  “I don’t usually discount my cabin…”  He let his comment hang.

“Like you said, it’s late in the year.”  Bree straightened her five-foot-four frame and looked him square in the eye.  “And I’m paying you cash, in advance, for two months’ rent.”

After a moment, the old man nodded.  “Cash, in advance.”  He accepted the envelope, briefly peering inside.  Then he handed her the key and headed toward the front door.

Out on the lawn, Murphy was still exploring along the edge of the woods.  Mr. Meyer stopped at the driver’s side door of his pickup.  “You need anything, you can call.  And I’m at the hardware store every day.”

Bree pictured Meyer Hardware on the main street of Midnight Cove.  It was where they’d arranged to meet when she’d called to make her reservation two days earlier.

“I live up over the store,” he continued.  “So if anything breaks, you can let me know right away.  If I can’t fix it, I’ll find someone who can.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” she murmured.

Meyer glanced up at the house, then looked at Bree.  “Just so we’re clear, though.”  He held up the envelope.  “No refunds.  You decide you’re not staying, you can’t get your money back.”

Bree drew a ragged breath, thinking about where she’d just left.  “I’ll be staying,” she said firmly.

The old man nodded.  “Alright, then.  I suppose I’ll see you in town.  Not too many redheads living in Midnight Cove.”

With that, he climbed into his truck, backed around, and headed down the driveway.

When he was out of sight, Bree called Murphy.  “Come on, boy.  Let’s go get settled.”
 
**
 
From the attic window, he watched as the old man drove away, leaving the redhead and her dog standing on the driveway.  A dog.  That was a development.  Might be good, could be bad, he considered. 

On the one hand, animals usually seemed to see him, or at least be aware of his presence.  The family dog or a cat staring into a seemingly empty corner was sometimes enough to freak out its owners.  The dog’s attention could, however, make it difficult for him to move about undetected. 

Didn’t matter, he shook his head.  He’d concentrate his energy, knock over a few things, and send the woman and her dog skittering back to wherever they’d come from.

Out on the driveway, the woman retrieved a pair of black bags from the front of the yellow Beetle and carried them inside.  From the corner of the master bedroom, he watched as she unpacked some clothes and hung them in the closet. 

Another trip to the car produced a big blue dog bed and a large tan leather shoulder bag.  When she returned inside, to his surprise, she rearranged the den, placing a small table against one of the back windows then adding a chair.  From her bag, she removed a thin electronic gadget and placed it on the table. 

Although in life, he’d never known anything like it, he’d seen other summer folk with the same kind of thing.  It was like a typewriter, but you didn’t put paper in it.  He couldn’t figure out the purpose of the gizmo, but it really didn’t matter. 

She put the dog bed in the corner beside the newly created workspace, and the dog happily launched himself onto it, burrowing into the soft cushion and lolling gleefully.  The woman smiled at the dog.  “Who’s my good boy?” she asked softly.

She squatted to briefly rub the dog’s belly, then crossed to the French doors that opened onto the back deck.  As she stood gazing out over the lake, he glanced around the room, assessing what might give him the biggest bang for his buck. 

An empty rocking chair moving on its own accord was always a good bet.  If he could slam shut her typing gadget, that might be a nice touch as well.  As he made his way across the room to the rocking chair, the dog let out a low growl. 

Good, he thought.  Now she’ll be paying attention.

Concentrating intensely, he reached for the back of the rocking chair.  With effort, he managed to push it forward once.  It rocked forward and back a handful of times before slowing to a stop. 

The dog woofed once, then whined.  The woman watched as the chair settled.  Then she covered her face with her hands.

Unsure, he wavered for a moment before he made his way to the desk.  He was just reaching out to slam shut the device when she spoke.

“You should know that I’m not going anywhere.  I just gave the owner all the money I have in the world.  I don’t have anywhere else to go.  You’re stuck with me until the middle of November.”

Shocked, he froze.  No one had ever addressed him before.  But his surprise was quickly replaced by determination.  This was his house.  Where she went was her problem.  Forget closing the lid of her electronic device.  He’d shove the damn thing right off the table.

He was just gathering his strength when he heard a sound.  Turning, he saw that she’d sunk into the rocking chair, the very object that should have sent her running.  Holding her face in her hands, she sobbed like her heart was breaking. 

Immediately, he felt his resolve melting away.  He didn’t mind scaring people.  It was just good, clean fun, really.  But causing her to cry made him feel like a shit. 

He sighed to himself and watched her for a moment.  It looked like he might be stuck with the redhead and her dog for a bit longer than he’d thought.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

Although eventually I plan to publish it under my own Bratty Ginger Books imprint, MIDNIGHT COVE is currently part of DARK SECRETS, an anthology of 9 steamy, suspense romance novels you’re going to love.

DARK SECRETS comes out October 11,
just in time for your Halloween reading pleasure.
It’s only 99¢, and it’s FREE with Kindle Unlimited.
Reserve your copy today!
https://amzn.to/2kppsTN

In the Mood for Something Spooky…

🎃 Just in time for Halloween… 👻

DARK SECRETS

A collection of suspenseful, steamy romance novels from 9 of your favorite authors,
including me!

It’s only 99¢, and it’s even FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

It’s your first chance to get your hands on my spooky new novel, MIDNIGHT COVE.

Coming October 11–Reserve your copy now!

https://amzn.to/2kppsTN

Weekend Excerpt–New WIP–Midnight Cove

Still waters harbor dark secrets.

After the release of HUNTER’S PRIDE, I’m taking a brief break from cowboys before I go back to finishing ANNA’S HEART, Redheads & Ranchers Book 3.

I’m working on a spooky, steamy new novella that will be part of a top-secret anthology coming out just in time for Halloween. For this weekend’s excerpt, I’m giving you a sneak peek at MIDNIGHT COVE.

Here’s the blurb:

They say still waters run deep.
In the tiny lakeside town of Midnight Cove, still waters harbor dark secrets.
Writer Bree Blaylock just wants a chance to catch her breath. 
Having finally escaped an abusive relationship,
she’s relieved to have found a quiet place to finish writing her new book.  
From the moment she arrives,
she realizes that she’s not alone in her rented cottage on the lake. 
But she’s okay with that.
In her experience, the living are always more dangerous than the dead.
Meeting handsome local lawman Jake Hanson wasn’t even remotely on her radar. 
Now that she has, maybe it’s time to take another chance on love.  
But can he keep her safe when the past comes calling?

Read the (unedited) Prologue of MIDNIGHT COVE.

He wasn’t sure just when he’d known that he was dead. 

That realization had taken a while, although the precise concept of time was now rather nebulous in his conscious thought, more a collection of seasonal impressions than an actual awareness of the passing of days and months and years.  But the knowledge that he had somehow slipped his mortal coil had been an adjustment, to say the least.

He had no idea how he’d arrived at this state.  He’d been going along, living his life and then he simply…wasn’t.  

His current existence seemed to be limited to the house in which he’d grown up.  Although there were times when he wasn’t anywhere at all. He wasn’t sure which situation he preferred.  

On the one hand, he’d been happy to be near his family.  But they couldn’t see him or hear him. Not even when he screamed in their faces.  

That was when he’d known.  He’d loved his parents and brother dearly. Seeing them, being near them, but being unable to connect with them was frustrating as hell. 

 Always nagging him was the question of what had happened.  He’d been a healthy, strong 23-year-old man, one with no bad habits like smoking or drugs.  Okay, yeah, the occasional beer, maybe, but nothing that should have led to his death.  

It seemed odd, too.  Although he was stuck in his family home, he was almost certain he remembered living on his own, in an apartment, maybe.  That part of his before was foggy to him.

At first, knowing he was dead was terrifying.  But after a while, he’d settled into a sort of non-routine.  He’d watched as his family moved on, his parents and his brother, all eventually abandoning the family home.  Maybe they were dead too, his parents anyway, but if they were, he hadn’t seen them. Apparently, the afterlife didn’t work like that.

After his family was gone, it seemed to him like the house sat empty for a long time, and he’d enjoyed the solitude. The way he saw it, if he was going to be alone, he might as well actually be alone.

But then he’d watched as one day, a slightly stooped man with white hair had arrived.  The man had thrown the doors and windows wide open, carried out piles of useless old things, and spruced up the place, top to bottom.  

The next thing he knew, the house was overrun with strangers.  They just came tromping in with their suitcases and their inflatable rafts and their bathing suits.

Summer folk.  He’d recognize them anywhere.  While his family had been permanent lakeside residents, most of the other houses were used as summer rentals, vacation retreats for families who spent the rest of their year somewhere in busy cities like Columbia or Greenville or Charlotte.  The kind of people whose idea of a perfect vacation was a week or two spent in a cottage by the lake.

He hadn’t been happy to share his space, and he’d made his position known.  And he’d sent more than one family scrambling back to wherever they’d come from, dropping snorkels and beach towels in their hurry to leave.

Of course, there had also been the ones who’d been too absorbed with themselves to notice they were shacked up for the week with an unhappy spirit.  That was annoying. During those times, he did his best to just stay out of the way. Because eventually, the seasons would turn and he’d be alone again.

Gazing out the attic window at the oak leaves that were just beginning to take on a kaleidoscope of fall colors, he sighed with satisfaction.  If he couldn’t be happy about his existence, he could at least be content.   

The crunching of gravel caught his attention and he saw a work-worn white pickup truck pull up the long drive and stop in front of the house.  An older man, the one he’d seen before, got out of the truck and stood staring down the driveway. The man reminded him a bit of his grandfather, he mused. 

A minute later, a pale yellow Volkswagen beetle puttered up to the house, pulling alongside the pickup.  The driver’s door swung open, and a pretty redhead stepped out, pulling a dark green hooded sweatshirt more tightly around herself against the cool of the fall afternoon.

She moved her sunglasses to the top of her head and glanced up in his direction.  For a moment, he’d have sworn she saw him. Alarmed, he stepped away from the window.

What was this?  Another renter? It wasn’t summer.  Cautiously, he peered out the window, checking to see if the seasons had switched on him again without notice.  No, the trees were just beginning to shift into their fall hues. Days were getting shorter, and before long, the whole lake would be a riot of color.

Now he heard voices downstairs.  This was an unforeseen circumstance.  What now?

He shrugged to himself and smiled.  A woman alone? He would have her out by nightfall.

MIDNIGHT COVE by Pandora Spocks

Keep watching right here for details about the upcoming anthology.

While you wait, why not catch up on the Redheads & Ranchers Series?
JENNY’S VOICE and HUNTER’S PRIDE are available now.
ANNA’S HEART is due out by the end of the year.