Weekend Excerpt–ANNA’S HEART

She’s a rancher with a heartbreaking secret.
He’s Hollywood royalty,
poised to take a chance that risks his reputation and his career.
Now that they’ve found each other, can he win her 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 is 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 is immediately fascinated by Anna, who won’t give him the time of day. Can he break down the self-protective wall she has built?

If you like hot cowboys, Scottish accents, and happily-ever-afters, you’ll love ANNA’S HEART, the third book in the Redheads & Ranchers series!

In this teaser, Anna meets Angus for the first time.

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

ANNA’S HEART is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/AnnasHeart

Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

A handsome rancher with a tragic past, determined to hang on to his inheritance.
A spunky young corporate lawyer ready to make her mark in the world.
A sinister plot against them both.

Hunter McFall is a fifth-generation Idaho cattle rancher. He’s been approached to sell a small fraction of his land to a big-city real estate developer. Something he has no intention of doing. He’s agreed to hear out the firm’s lawyer, but that’s the end of it. To his surprise, it’s just the beginning.

Red-haired Manhattan business attorney Poppy Chastain is determined to make the most of her first opportunity to show her bosses what she can do. Slade & Howell have sent her to the boondocks of Idaho to convince the hard-headed rancher to part with a tiny plot of his property. She didn’t count on the sizzling attraction between them.

Together, they find a passion they weren’t even looking for. But their love is threatened by a covert scheme to separate Hunter from his land by any means necessary. When he finds out, he’s sure Poppy has played him for a fool. Can she convince him otherwise, that what they’ve found is real?

If you love hot cowboys, sassy redheads, and steamy, romantic happily-ever-afters, you’ll love Hunter’s Pride.

HUNTER’S PRIDE is the second in the Redheads & Ranchers series, and it seems to be the ‘redheaded stepchild’ of the collection, which makes me a little sad. Hunter and Poppy have sizzling chemistry from the very beginning, and some sideways twists take the story in a completely unexpected direction.

Here’s a steamy little snippet.

The sun was slowly descending behind the mountains, and the vintage-style streetlamps were just beginning to blink on as Poppy and Hunter made their way back to the hotel.

They changed and headed to an upscale steak place on the next block. Over filet mignon and candlelight, they chatted quietly about their visit with Hunter’s grandfather and about their time in town.

After dinner, they returned to the hotel and found a corner table in the lounge. A local band was playing 80s and 90s acoustic covers, and Hunter ordered a Jim Beam neat while Poppy was thrilled to find her favorite Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

As they listened to the music and sipped their drinks, the pair exchanged heated glances. Poppy lightly strummed her fingers across the back of Hunter’s hand as the band launched into a Bryan Adams ballad.

Hunter leaned toward her, his breath tickling her ear and igniting goosebumps all over her body. “Are you ready to head upstairs?”

The flutter in her tummy was back, this time accompanied by a surge of moisture between her thighs. “Let’s go,” she nodded.

As soon as the door to their suite was closed, Hunter pressed Poppy against it, lifting her and wrapping her legs around his waist. Tangling his fingers in her red locks, he gently pulled her head back, exposing her neck which he nipped from just below her left ear to her collarbone.

She was powerless to stop the low moan that rolled up from her toes.

“I want you,” he hissed in her ear.

“Oh, yeah?” she responded breathlessly. “Then you should take me.”

He pulled her head back again, this time claiming her lips with bruising intensity. At the same time, he reached between the two of them and fondled the soaked space between her thighs.

Poppy gripped his shoulders tightly, gasping as she gave herself over to the sensation he created.

Hunter lightly nipped along her jawline to her ear. His voice was a low growl. “How attached are you to these panties?”

“What panties?” she panted.

He flashed a predatory grin, and his eyes sparkled. “Good answer.”

With a sharp tug, the scraps that had been her underwear floated to the floor. Hunter balanced her against the door as he reached down to his belt and fly. In one fluid motion, he was buried in her core.

Poppy gasped at the sudden intrusion, rocking her head back against the door. Hunter leaned in, pinning her between himself and the door as he pistoned into her, and she felt her moment rising.

“Oh, fu-” she breathed, and her words morphed into a garbled cry as she shattered in his arms.

After another couple of strokes, Hunter stilled deep inside her, grunting his own release. They remained as they were, gasping against the door. Voices from the hallway filtered through the wooden door and Poppy giggled lightly.

“Maybe we’d better take this party to the bedroom,” Hunter winked.

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/HuntersPride

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 chiffon 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?

Read a snippet from BROKEN HARTS.

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 Michelle 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 a part of the Forever Yours Valentine’s Day Collection.
Also included in this collection:
* Bella’s Wish by International Bestselling Author Linzi Basset
* All’s Fair in Love and Spells by Victoria Escobar
*My Italian Valentine by the USA Today & International Bestselling Author Diana Nixon

Reserve your copy of BROKEN HARTS for just 99¢!
books2read.com/BrokenHarts

Weekend Excerpt–JENNY’S VOICE

A traumatized young woman held hostage for years.
The rancher who comes to her rescue.
The crime boss who will kill them both if he finds them.

Jenny Stone’s voice was silenced the horrific day ruthless crime boss Victor Sorkin executed her parents in cold blood and took her as his personal good luck charm. Now she’s his pet, at his mercy when he summons her to warm his bed. Or the beds of his more esteemed business associates.

When she sees her chance to escape, she takes it, hitching a ride with an unsuspecting cowboy, horse trainer Cole Caldwell. Cole’s stunned to find the terrified young redhead hiding in his horse trailer. She’s as skittish as some of the horses he works with, and she’s apparently mute. But the nurturer in him wants to shelter her, to protect her. He’ll do his best to ignore the attraction he feels, content to help her know she’s safe with him.

When Jenny first escaped, her only thought was to get away. But now she’s worried. She’s put Cole in unspeakable danger. Should she leave before Victor finds them? Could it already be too late?

If you like your romance filled with hot cowboys, suspense, and happily-ever-afters, you’ll love JENNY’S VOICE.

JENNY’S VOICE is Book 1 in the Redheads & Ranchers Series.
Sexy redheads and the ranchers they can’t resist.

Here’s a little teaser from JENNY’S VOICE.

As he stepped inside, he was immediately surrounded by the tantalizing aroma of something cooking. He set down the bag and followed Jenny into the kitchen. The first thing he noticed was the table, set for two, a pretty bouquet of field flowers arranged in a Mason jar in the center.

He looked to Jenny, who was carefully watching his reaction. “What’s going on here?” He smiled encouragingly. “And what smells so good?”

Jenny used a folded kitchen towel to remove a dish from the oven and set it on the stove. Cole peered into the dish, where golden chicken breasts sizzled in a thin sauce.

“That looks amazing, Jenny. What is it?”

Her board was lying facedown on the counter. She picked it up and showed him what she’d already written on the other side. Chicken piccata.

“Chicken piccata? I had all the stuff to make that?”

Jenny nodded proudly.

Cole squinted, looking more closely at the dish. “What are the little burned peas-looking things?”

Jenny rolled her eyes. She jotted on her board. Capers.

“I had capers? Where the hell did I get capers?”

She shrugged and hooked a thumb at one of the upper cupboards.

“Oh, it must have been in that basket one of my clients gave me for Christmas.” Cole shook his head. “All sorts of fancy shit–I mean stuff.” He looked to Jenny. “Sorry about that.”

Jenny grinned, then jotted quickly, You can say shit. I’m a big girl. She laughed lightly.

Cole laughed, too. “Good. Well, shit! Yeah, that feels good.”

Waving with her hand, Jenny gestured toward the table.

“Is dinner ready?” Cole asked, and she nodded.

“Alright, let me go wash up and I’ll be right back.”

Cole headed upstairs. As he washed his hands, he wondered about how Jenny had created such a dish with the simple things he kept at the house. She seemed pleased with herself, too. Quite a difference in her from the first time he’d seen her in the back of the horse trailer.

He sighed to himself. They were making progress, and he found that gratifying. Would it be possible that one day she’d decide to talk to him?

When he returned downstairs, the chicken was arranged on a platter. Jenny had placed a bowl of salad on the table, along with a bowl of rice. She’d poured Dr. Pepper for herself, while at his place she’d set out a bottle of Heineken.

“I know this is the fanciest dinner this table has seen in years,” Cole said, sitting in his chair. “We have a centerpiece and everything. You picked these?”

Pleased, Jenny nodded as she took her seat.

“They’re beautiful. The purple ones match your dress and everything.” He smiled at her. “You look pretty tonight.”

Jenny blushed profusely and looked down at her plate, trying to suppress a smile.

“Let’s dig into this fine dinner, what do you say?”

She nodded, and Cole took the platter, serving her first, then himself. They passed the rice and the salad as well. Cole took a bite of chicken and closed his eyes, savoring the flavor. When he opened his eyes again, she was watching him carefully.

“Oh my God, Jenny, this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. How did you know how to make this?”

Jenny’s smile faded a bit and she hesitated. Then she jotted on her board. It’s a long story.

Cole regarded her thoughtfully. “Maybe you can tell me sometime.”

She chewed her lower lip. Maybe.

They ate in awkward silence for a few minutes, and Cole silently cursed himself for stepping into something that made Jenny uncomfortable. Wishing to restore their easy rapport, he cleared his throat.

“I know. You’re an undercover chef.”

She gave him a sideways glance and snorted.

Encouraged, he tried again. “You’re a secret chef, and you’re on a mission to educate dumb cowboys like me in the ways of international cuisine.” He drew out the last two words in an exaggerated drawl.

Jenny giggled, tossing her napkin at him.

Cole grinned good-naturedly. “It really is good, Jenny, no lie. Thank you for making dinner.”

After dinner dishes were cleared, Cole remembered the bag he’d left by the door. “Oh, Jenny, I almost forgot. I have a surprise for you.” He reached out his hand. “Come see.”

Her eyes widened, but she took his hand. He led her to the family room and pointed at the couch. “Sit down and close your eyes.”

She hesitated a moment, then sat down. She glanced up at Cole.

“Close’em.”

Pursing her lips, she complied, knee bobbing anxiously. Cole retrieved the bag and placed in on Jenny’s lap. “Okay, now you can open them.”

With a glance at Cole, Jenny peered into the bag. Brow knit in a frown, she pulled a brown cardboard box out of the bag, setting the bag on the floor. With another glance at him, she lifted the lid and gasped.

Cole couldn’t stop the smile as Jenny picked up first one boot, then the other, eyes wide, running her fingers across the purple embroidery.

“I figured, if you’re going to be working in the barn, you’re going to need some good boots. I saw these at the saddle shop and I knew they were supposed to be yours.”

She looked up at him as a smile spread across her face. Standing, she let the box fall to the floor as she came to him, a boot in either hand, and wrapped him in a hug.

“Do you like them?” Cole laughed.

Jenny stepped back and nodded vigorously. Then she pointed up the stairs.

“You want to try them on?”

She nodded again. Gathering up the box, lid, and bag, she hurried upstairs. From where he stood, Cole heard her moving around, drawers opening, the creak of her bed. Then came the clomp of boots on the hardwood floor as she came back downstairs, her face beaming.

She crossed to him, then back to the bottom of the stairs like a fashion model on a catwalk, rocking the new boots with her dress.

Cole couldn’t stop his grin. “How do they feel? Do they fit?”

Jenny nodded happily.

“Okay, then. Wanna go help me out in the barn?”

She nodded again, taking his arm as they headed out the door and across the yard. Every few steps, she looked down at the boots. Cole couldn’t remember ever feeling so pleased with himself.

The horses were waiting near the gate as they approached. Cole opened it, and he and Jenny watched them head straight for the barn. He looked to her. “You do the feed and I’ll do the hay?” he asked.

She nodded, heading for the buckets and feed cans at the end of the barn. As Cole lugged a bale of hay into the first stall, he started singing a cowboy song about not being buried on the lone prairie. When Jenny smirked at him, he winked at her and continued with more gusto.

By the time the horses were in their stalls with buckets of feed and fresh hay, Cole had started the song over, and Jenny was grinning broadly and shaking her head.

“What? Does my singing suck?” he asked.

She shook her head. No, it’s very brave, she jotted on her board.

“Brave?” he laughed. “That’s what they tell people who can’t sing.”

He took Jenny’s hand and twirled her around as he sang, pulling her to himself and launching into an impromptu waltz down the center of the barn.

Cole relished her giggles as he spun them around, drawing out the final note. Breathless, they stopped, Jenny smiling up at him, her emerald eyes wide. Cole’s gaze drifted to her lips, pillowy and soft, no trace of the trauma that had once been there. He felt an almost irresistible pull, as though a magnet drew his lips to hers, but he blinked hard and spun her one last time before letting go.

“Who knew those were dancing boots?” he joked softly. When he looked back at her, he saw a glint of sadness in her eyes. She’d felt the same pull he had. But he knew he couldn’t take advantage of her. That wasn’t who Cole Caldwell was.

JENNY’S VOICE by Pandora Spocks

JENNY’S VOICE is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Weekend Excerpt–Tropical Dreaming…

Tired of winter yet?
You need a sexy Caribbean getaway.

All she wanted was just one night.

Katie Parker is a woman on a mission. On a Caribbean cruise for her annual girlfriends’ getaway, she’s determined to forget about the man who betrayed her. All she wants is to find a man for just one night of anonymous, no-strings-attached passion.

Mac Coleman needs to get away. For now, that means accompanying his brothers on a cruise to Mexico for his younger brother’s wedding. After that, he’ll be changing jobs and cities, all to get away from his stalker ex-girlfriend.

When the pair meet on board the ship, the chemistry is instant. Can Mac convince Katie that what they have deserves more than just one night?

Here’s a teaser from JUST ONE NIGHT.

“So where is your redhead going?” Tommy wondered as he and his brother watched the women leave the dining room.

Mac shrugged lightly. “She said something about karaoke tonight.”

Danny watched him for a moment. “Aren’t you going after her?”

“Nah, she wasn’t really up for getting together.”

“Dude, that dress is killer. She’s all dressed up for somebody,” Tommy observed.

“Yeah, well…” Mac sipped his water for an excuse to stop talking. “Hey, aren’t we hitting the casino tonight?”

Seated between his brothers at the roulette wheel, Mac watched the tiny white ball skitter around and come to rest on the thirteen. Of course, he’d bet on the twelve. After three rounds, he’d lost forty dollars. Tommy had the best luck, winning with every spin.

“Gents, I’m going to have to stop while I’m behind,” Mac said, pushing back from the table.

Tommy gathered his chips and Danny joined them. “What do you want to do now on your last night as a free man?”

Tommy grinned impishly at Mac. “I’m kind of in the mood for karaoke.”

Mac’s expression was dubious. “Karaoke? Since when are you into karaoke?”

“Since my older brother started mooning over some sexy redhead whose name he doesn’t even know.”

The brothers pushed their way through the crowded lounge searching for an empty table. Not finding one, they lucked out with three stools at the bar. Settled on his stool, Mac scanned the room and found her nearly immediately at a table fronting the stage. Her red hair stood out in the crowded room.

She looked up and her eyes widened in surprise before her lips curled in a suppressed smile. He raised his beer that had just been served and she smiled wider, lifting her shot glass and overturning it dramatically.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the emcee announced, “up next, we have the Heartbreakers!”

A squeal rose from their table and the four women made their way onto the stage. Mac watched in fascination as they took their cordless mics and stood with their backs to the audience. Wondering what they might sing, he heard the opening disco beat and bass of Hot Stuff and laughed out loud as the women began a slinky choreographed dance routine. He watched as the four took turns singing lines. When it was her turn, she locked eyes with him.

“Dude, your girl is hot!” Tommy commented.

“Yes, she is,” Mac agreed.

“I’m guessing they’ve done this before,” Danny opined. “God bless’em!” He raised his beer in salute.

***

Much like that first time back in high school, the end of the song was met with thunderous applause and the four friends returned to their table flushed with the exertion. “That never gets old,” Michelle laughed. “Do you remember the look on old man Adams’ face? He couldn’t decide whether to kick us out of the talent show or give us first prize.” The women laughed at the memory.

“It took forever for our turn,” Chelsea commented. “I want to go blow some money in the casino. Are you in?” She looked around the table.

“You guys go on. I’m enjoying the music,” Katie hedged. “Maybe I’ll just stay here a little longer.”

“Yeah, her mystery man and his brothers are here,” Michelle laughed. “She wants to blow something, just not money.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Katie blushed furiously.

“Come on girls,” Jayma said, “let’s give Katie a little space.” She kissed Katie’s cheek gently. “Good luck, hon. Have fun!”

Katie waved goodbye to her friends as they left. Another group was on stage, working their way through Paradise by the Dashboard Light. She saw his brothers stand and leave the bar. He sat smiling at her and she smiled back.

Taking a cocktail napkin, she wiped the water rings from the table in preparation for his joining her. Except that he didn’t join her.

When Katie looked again, he was watching the singers with rapt attention, even swaying a bit on his stool.

She frowned a bit. His brothers left. He saw the girls leave. What gives? She crossed her right leg over her left and jiggled her foot restlessly. No way am I going over there. If he thinks I’m going over there, he’s got another think coming.

She glanced his way again. He was watching her with that same amused expression. The one that made the butterflies in her stomach go bungee jumping. Oh, fine!

As the group onstage finished and another singer was announced, Katie left her table and made her way to the bar, relieved to see an empty stool beside him. As she approached him, the corner of his mouth curled slightly and his eyes sparkled with the smile he suppressed.

“Hey, you. Would you mind if I joined you?” Katie asked.

“Hey, you. I’d mind if you didn’t.”

She accepted his hand and he helped her onto the stool next to his. “Thanks!”

“My pleasure.” He surveyed her appreciatively. “That’s a really nice dress.”

She flushed with pleasure. “Thanks. I wanted to be dressy for Formal Night. You look very handsome yourself.” She reached to touch the cuff of his shirt sleeve, pushing back his jacket. “Cuff links?” She fingered the textured silver squares.

He watched her with curiosity and nodded. “Is that okay?”

She looked back to his face. “I love cuff links. They’re so…civilized.”

Mac laughed out loud. “Something I’ve never been called: civilized.”

Katie’s brow furrowed. “So why? Why didn’t you come to my table?”

His eyes smiled. “Because you said ‘one night only’. I respect your boundaries.”

“Yeah.” She idly fidgeted with a cardboard coaster. “About that…” She looked up at him through her long lashes and began to lightly caress the inside of his wrist as it rested on the bar.

He watched her another moment, a knowing gleam in his eyes. “You can’t resist me.”

She looked back down to his hand. “You’re pretty cocky.”

He gave an exaggerated snicker. “You said ‘cock’.”

Katie giggled and rolled her eyes.

The next singer came on and began a spot-on version of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. They both laughed. Mac grinned and joined in, his cheek brushing hers as he sang along softly. Katie felt goosebumps as he crooned into her ear. “Let’s get it on…” Lightly, he nibbled her earlobe. He planted a gentle kiss on her bare shoulder.

Katie took his hand and he looked back up. “Come on, let’s go,” she said softly.

–JUST ONE NIGHT is just 99¢ every day!

JUST ONE NIGHT by Pandora Spocks

JUST ONE NIGHT is 99¢ every day!
books2read.com/JustOneNight

Weekend Excerpt–One Final Christmas Scene

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

BROKEN HARTS is my new Valentine’s Day novella, and it’s coming out Februry 12, 2021. Until then, it’s on Pre-Order for only 99¢. books2read.com/BrokenHarts

Here’s the official blurb:

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 chiffon 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?

How about an exclusive first look at this (unedited) Christmas snippet?

“What do you think, Dad?” Stepping back, Ali surveyed their handiwork and smiled. The woodsy scent of pine hung in the air as the ten-foot-tall Frasier fir towered over the pair of them. For the last two hours, they’d unboxed cartons of ornaments from Ali’s childhood and lovingly placed them on the dark green boughs, all while being serenaded with classic holiday vinyl courtesy of Jackson’s ancient turntable.

“It’s beautiful, Ali-gally,” her father grinned. “It looks like Christmas in here.”

“I think so, too,” Ali smiled. “In fact, I think we picked the best tree on the lot.” She hugged her father tenderly. “Let’s get a photo.”

Standing in front of the tree, she removed her phone from the back pocket of her jeans, cued up the camera, and held it out at arm’s length. She wrapped her other arm around her father’s waist. “Smile, Dad!”

Heads pressed together, the pair smiled into the camera lens and Ali snapped several shots. 

“Dinner in ten minutes,” Mrs. Smith commented from the doorway. “Oh, my, what a lovely tree!”

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Ali grinned. “Dad, why don’t you go get washed up? I’ll take care of all these boxes and meet you at the table.”

While Jackson shuffled off in the direction of the bathroom, Ali skimmed through the photos she’d just snapped and sent the best one to Logan. 

Throughout the day, she’d kept him up to date with a photographic journal of their adventures, from brunch at a nearby deli, to their foray into the tree lot, to their struggle in getting the tree up to the apartment. The doorman had been invaluable in that effort. 

Then once the tree was up, she’d snapped a few pictures along the way, ending with the final result, Ali and her father smiling with the tree sparkling behind them.

Beautiful, Logan texted in response. And the tree is nice, too.

LOL! she texted back.

Holy shit! Your dad is Jackson Hart!

At this, Ali laughed heartily. Unable to resist, she pressed the video chat icon.

“Hi, Ali,” he answered, grinning into the camera. “Your tree turned out great.”

“I know, right? We haven’t had a fresh-cut tree in ages. When we got back with it, we dug out the old ornaments from when I was a kid.” She sighed happily. “I just love it.”

“Judging from the pictures, it looks like you had a good day,” he observed with that lop-sided grin she was beginning to adore.

“We really did. Dad is doing so well today. You know, maybe he’s not as bad as we were thinking. Maybe if we just get someone to cover the night shift so his housekeeper doesn’t have to sleep with one eye open,” she ventured, “he might be alright.”

“That would be great,” Logan agreed.

The sight of her father shuffling to the dining table jogged Ali’s memory. “Oh, crap, I forgot that we’re about to sit down to eat. From the smell of it, I’m guessing Mrs. Smith has made chicken curry.”

His eyes widened. “Wow, I’d better let you go, then.” He frowned slightly. “So Ali, I’m checking my schedule for next week and it looks like I’ll be in New York on Friday, but only for the day. Is there any way you’d be free to have a late lunch-slash-early dinner with me?”

“A week from today,” Ali said thoughtfully. “Yes, I’ll make sure I leave Friday afternoon open. That sounds great! I can’t wait.”

Eyes shining, Logan nodded. “Me, too. I’ll see you then, but we’ll probably chat before Friday.”

“We will definitely chat before then,” she agreed. “Alright, Logan, I’ll talk to you soon. Have a great night!”

“You, too, Ali.” He held up his hand in a wave and they signed off.

**

After he hung up with Ali, Logan scrolled back through the photos she’d sent throughout the day, a thoughtful smile playing across his lips. He loved each picture documenting her outing with her father and their Christmas tree adventure. Something that felt a lot like envy lurked at the edges of his consciousness and he willed it away. 

In his favorite photo, Ali smiled up at him with those sparkling cognac-colored eyes. Behind her was a sea of evergreen, with Jackson Hart himself off to her right, appearing to inspect one of the trees just as she snapped the frame. 

God, she’s pretty

And she was, but not just physically. Something about Ali was vital and authentic, as though she hadn’t a care in the world about how other people viewed her. She knew who she was and what she wanted out of life. 

What Logan would have given to have accompanied her on that outing today. That. That was what he envisioned in a relationship with a lover, a wife, a partner. Leaning back in his chair, he exhaled slowly. He’d tried to capture that aesthetic with Catherine by suggesting that they, too, go out Christmas tree shopping. And he’d been resoundingly shot down. 

Asking Ali to meet him on Friday had been impulsive. Although he had business to attend to in New York, Friday night was Catherine’s big charity gala, and he absolutely had to be back in time to attend. Which meant that he’d fly in early Friday morning, then leave by mid-afternoon.

Originally, when he’d realized that he’d only be in the city for a few hours, he’d decided not to even mention it to Ali. The only other time they’d gotten together, they’d chatted for hours over coffee. It seemed cruel, and maybe a little unrealistic, to plan to get together for what would be such a very brief time.

But as they were saying their goodbyes, the invitation had just popped out of his mouth before he could pull it back in. And if he was honest with himself, he was happy it had. He couldn’t wait to spend time with her, even if it was only a little while.

At the nagging sense of guilt pulling at him, he rolled his eyes. 

It’s just lunch. Lighten up.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

If you love your romance with a little heat and plenty of heart, you’re going to love Broken Harts!

THIS STORY IS A PART OF THE FOREVER YOURS HOLIDAY COLLECTION.
ALSO IN THIS COLLECTION:
* Bella’s Wish by International Bestselling Author Linzi Basset
* All’s Fair in Love and Spells by Victoria Escobar
*My Italian Valentine by the USA Today & International Bestselling Author Diana Nixon

Until February 12,
each book is on Pre-Order for just 99¢.
So hurry! You’ll want the whole collection.

Weekend Excerpt–Christmas on Lake Miranda

She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker

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

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

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

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

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

Join Jackie and Scott in this little Christmas teaser.

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

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

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

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

The women clinked their mugs and giggled gleefully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A puppy,” Emma squealed.

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

Blake leaned against the doorway looking pleased with himself.

“From Santa, huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WARRIOR MINE by Pandora Spocks

This Christmas, treat yourself to WARRIOR MINE,
Dream Dominant Book 4!
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Weekend Excerpt–Sneak Preview of 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 chiffon 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 new, exclusive sneak peek at BROKEN HARTS.

Frowning, Ali swiped off her phone and resisted leaning into the woman beside her as the subway lurched around a bend. At least this time she’d gotten a seat, she consoled herself.

But Megan was on her last nerve with this wedding business.

Yes, she’d replied to her sister’s text. I’ll be at the bridal shop at 2:00. I told you I’d be there.

Moments later, her phone vibrated with another text. It was Shannon this time.

Sorry about Mom. She’s kinda freaking out right now. Thanks for putting up with her. My wedding wouldn’t be the same without you.

Ali had to smile. While she’d never had what she would call a close relationship with either her sister or her brother, she loved Megan’s daughter Shannon and her younger brother Kyle dearly. They’d all practically grown up together since Ali was merely two years older than her niece and three years older than her nephew. 

And she would. She’d make it to the fitting appointment on W. 69th, the day before Thanksgiving or not. Because it was important to Shannon, not because Megan insisted.

But first…

Ali absently twisted the strap of the shoulder bag resting on her lap and stared into space. Before the fitting appointment, she was making a little side trip on the upper east side. It hadn’t even been a conscious decision, really. 

After a restless night, she’d gotten up early, showered, and dressed in her least-faded skinny jeans, a black turtleneck sweater, her long camel-colored blazer, and black ankle boots. Her normal year-round Florida wardrobe consisted of lots of shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops, so wearing cold-weather clothes was a welcome change of pace.

At breakfast, her father had seemed very lucid. He’d announced plans to spend the morning writing, which Ali took to be a good thing. Again, she’d wondered whether Megan and Brendan were merely being alarmist. 

She spent an hour or so organizing her notes for the new book series she wanted to pitch to her publisher when they met the week after Thanksgiving. Then she popped into Jackson’s office where she found him tapping away at the old blue Remington manual typewriter, and she had to shake her head. No matter how hard she tried to convince her father to move into the 21st century, the old man remained defiant.

“This baby has never let me down. She’s never lost my blood, sweat, and tears into some goddamn black hole in space.”

“How’s it going, Dad?” she asked, placing her hands on his shoulders and kissing the top of his head.

He reached up and placed his left hand on top of hers. “Going fantastic, Ali-gally,” he grinned. “This may be the best one yet.”

“Good,” she nodded. “Listen, I’m heading out for a while. How about we order Chinese for dinner tonight? My treat?”

The old man nodded. “Sounds about right. I plan to keep plunking away right here while the muse is with me.”

Ali kissed the top of his head again. “Love you, Dad. I’ll see you later!”

Now, Ali watched as commuters hustled off and on the stopped subway car in an arrhythmic folk dance. Her heart began to pound noticeably. The next stop was hers, the wrong stop from the previous day. Now, she was headed to the 86th Street station on purpose.

This is ridiculous, she chided herself. He won’t be there. Why would he be there? Like he lives there at 86th Street or something. This is a colossal waste of time

She glanced at the time on her phone. It was 11:47, the same time she’d been on her way to the Golden Years center yesterday.

Hugging her purse to herself, she jiggled her right foot nervously. 

What, exactly, was the plan? She’d get off at 86th Street, look around the platform, not find him, the man from yesterday. Then what? Her appointment at the bridal shop wasn’t for another two hours. The trip to the upper west side would take half an hour, tops. What was she going to do in the meantime? 

This is such a dumb idea, she thought as the train slowed down to approach the next stop.

**

Shortly after 11:30, Logan hefted his tan leather messenger bag higher on his shoulder and stepped onto the down escalator at the 86th Street station. This felt increasingly like a fool’s errand, and more than once, he’d had to stop himself from turning around and heading home. But with the laser measuring tool tucked away in his bag, he figured he could at least do a few re-measurements to firm up the dimensions of the retail space.

Entering the platform, he glanced around and as expected, there was no pretty redhead in sight. He saw only a few commuters milling around waiting for the next train to arrive. 

Logan sighed heavily, swallowing his disappointment. 

It was too much to hope for, he supposed. Besides, you have a beautiful fiancee back in Chicago. Why in the world are you chasing some mystery woman?

Shaking his head, he dug the laser measurer out of his bag and headed toward the intended construction zone just as the next train rumbled into the station. Unable to help himself, he turned to watch the doors open and riders spill out onto the platform.

People of every shape and size and color and age moved with purpose toward the same escalator he’d descended only minutes before.

He almost turned back to his measurements when the crowd thinned and he saw her. The redhead from the previous day. She moved to the center of the space and stopped, her back to him as she stared in the direction of the wall where he’d waited for his clients twenty-four hours earlier.

He was moving toward her before he realized it. 

“Hey,” he offered softly when he was closer.

She whirled around, her cognac-brown eyes wide with surprise. “You’re here,” she breathed.

Logan felt himself smile. “You’re here, too.” 

She gave an uncertain laugh. “I’m, uh, Ali.” She offered a petite hand.

“I’m Logan,” he returned, gently accepting her handshake. “Listen, can we go for coffee or something?”

While he watched her rosy lips shift slightly as if she weighed his question, he relished the smattering of copper freckles across her nose and the apples of her cheeks. How had he not noticed them yesterday?

She finally nodded. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Good! Great! Let’s…” He motioned toward the escalator.

Her chuckle was musical. “Yes, lets!”

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is one of four romance novellas in the FOREVER YOURS collection, coming this Valentine’s Day. And right now, each book is on pre-order for just 99¢ apiece!
Check them out!

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND SPELLS by Victoria Escobar
BELLA’S WISH by Linzi Basset
MY ITALIAN VALENTINE by Diana Nixon

Reserve your copies today!

Weekend Excerpt–Happy Thanksgiving!

Artist Petey Cavanaugh has no idea the handsome businessman she’s falling for is actually Europe’s most eligible prince.

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, Nik is ready to celebrate his first Thanksgiving.

After they’d showered and dressed for the day, Petey and Nik collected the casserole dishes from the refrigerator and placed them in the bed of a yellow wire-mesh wagon Petey retrieved from the garage. Together, they carried the wagon down the front steps and then headed off in the direction of Jane and Eli’s house.

The late November air was crisp and cold, their breath creating fog as they trudged along. As they approached the house, Cherry opened the front door and the aroma of roasting turkey wafted toward them. “Happy Thanksgiving!” she called.

“Happy Thanksgiving to you,” Nik returned as Petey waved. “We come bearing foodstuffs.”

Cherry’s brow furrowed. “Hunh?”

Petey laughed. “We have potatoes and dressing.”

“Oh. Come on in. It’s cold outside.”

Leaving the wagon on the front porch, Petey and Nik carried the dishes through the large living room to the kitchen, which was abuzz with activity. Mary Pat, decked out in a fall-themed apron, was leaning down to peer into the oven. At the kitchen counter, Jane was briskly working a fork through a large pot filled with something white. She looked up as they approached.

“Welcome! Happy Thanksgiving!” she smiled. “I’m just working the lumps out of the mashed turnips.”

Petey, sliding the potatoes into the fridge behind Jane, turned and made a face at Nik, who stifled a chuckle.

“Thank you for making me feel so welcome. I’m thrilled to be celebrating my first Thanksgiving,” Nik replied with an infectious grin.

“You never had Thanksgiving before?” Cherry asked, aghast.

“No, dummy, they don’t have Thanksgiving in Beruvia. It’s about the Pilgrims, remember?” Thomas chided.

“And the first time-out of the day goes to Thomas, who has been reminded repeatedly not to call his sister names. Ten minutes, pal. Starting when you get to your room. Now scoot,” called Eli, entering the kitchen from the back door. He nodded in greeting to Nik and Petey.

“Aw, dad!”

“We could make it twenty.”

“Geez, I’m going.”

Eli watched his son stomp upstairs. “Cherry, it’s time for the woolly to eat again.”

“Alright, Daddy.” The child turned to Nik. “Wanna come help me feed my lamb?”

Nik beamed at her. “I’d be honored to help. But you have to teach me how.”

Cherry was shrugging into her puffy hot-pink down coat. “Okay, but it’s pretty easy.” She pulled a knitted pink beanie with bunny ears down over her head. “Let’s go. We’re keeping him in the g’rage.”

With a wink to Petey, Nik followed the little girl into the garage.

“He doesn’t have to do that,” Jane whispered to Petey with a smile.

“I think he’s happy to tag along,” Petey replied.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Ms. Petey,” Jorgen greeted her as he entered through the same door Eli had come through moments earlier.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Jorgen. How are you today?”

The older man smiled. “I’m most well, thank you.” He turned to Mary Pat. “Is this what you meant?” He handed her three tins of spices.

Mary Pat smiled. “Yes, those are exactly the ones.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe I forgot them. Thank you so much for getting them for me.”

“It was sincerely my pleasure,” Jorgen said, bowing politely.

Jane rolled her eyes at Petey, who responded with a silent, “What the fuck?”

Eli had settled on the large sectional in front of the television. The Cowboys were just about to take the field. With his mission for Mary Pat accomplished, Jorgen joined Eli.

Petey was setting the long table in the dining room when Nik and Cherry came back into the house. The little girl was talking a mile a minute, with Nik nodding and replying when it was appropriate.

While Cherry continued into the kitchen, Nik stopped to give Petey a quick kiss. “Is there anything I can do?”

Petey shook her head. “I think it’s pretty much under control. Did you get the lamb all sorted out?”

“We did. I even got a chance to hold the bottle before Cherry decided I was doing it wrong.” Nik’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “I believe it’s the bluntest criticism I’ve ever received.”

“Yeah, she’d kind of straightforward,” Petey laughed. “The guys are watching football if you want to go relax.”

Nik nodded. “I think I will. I’m a bit knackered from too much sex,” he whispered.

Petey gave him a playful push and sent him on his way. Thomas, having paid his ten-minute penalty, made his way downstairs and joined his father and the others in front of the television.

Finally, everything was ready, with platters and bowls arranged down the center of the table. Everyone took their places, with Eli at one end and Nik at the other. Sitting to Nik’s right, Petey gave his thigh a quick squeeze beneath the table. Eli gave a thoughtful grace, and the food was passed.

Petey cleared her throat meaningfully as she handed Nik the bowl of mashed turnips. When he glanced her way, she arched an eyebrow. Stifling a chuckle, he passed the bowl to Jorgen, who heaped the concoction on his plate. Petey grinned at Nik, happy to share an inside joke.

The conversation was cheery, at times raucous and funny, punctuated by plenty of laughter. From time to time, Petey glanced to Nik, who seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly. The thought of him being happy and at ease squeezed her heart with emotion.

At that moment, she realized that what she wanted more than anything was for Nik to be happy. That’s what love is, isn’t it?

When dinner was over, Jane stood up. “Okay, gentlemen, since the ladies cooked, you’re on clean-up detail.” She leaned over and kissed Eli on the cheek. “I’ll check on the barn,” she told him softly.

As Petey stood, Nik and Jorgen began gathering up the dishes and utensils. She sidled up to Nik. “You don’t really have to do this, you know,” she said softly. “It’s kind of Jane’s rule, but…”

“I don’t mind at all.” His tone was earnest. “I’m happy to help. It makes me feel delightfully ordinary.”

Petey pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Well, just so you know.”

“Go, relax,” he winked at her. “I believe that odd game you Yanks call football is still on television.”

“I heard that,” Eli said. “And it’s just plain football.” His tone was serious, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

“And why don’t they use their feet to play it, hmm?” Nik jibed, as both men laughed.

CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–Rannigan’s Redemption

She’s nothing like the women he usually goes for.
So why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Rannigan’s Redemption, the best-selling of all my books, is the story of the complicated relationship between sexy high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and sassy red-haired fellow lawyer Maggie Flynn.

When I started writing Rannigan’s Redemption, it was intended to be one book, but as it went along, the story was just too long. It covers nearly ten years of Michael’s and Maggie’s lives, so there seemed no way that a single book could do it justice.

In the beginning, Michael and Maggie meet at a job fair, where he hires her practically on the spot. She’s smart and good her job. But there’s more to it than he’s willing to admit. He’s attracted to her. Which doesn’t make sense. She’s nothing like the women he dates. She’s way too smart, for one thing.

And Maggie’s in love with him, too. Realizing the situation is all but hopeless, she contents herself with working with him.

One night of passion tears them apart. And from that point they’re both just running rogue, each making questionable decisions in their professional and personal lives.

A moment of desperation brings them back together. After Michael has burned all his bridges, Maggie’s the only one willing to stand by him.

And he’s grateful. He knows he needs to make it up to her, to somehow find redemption for himself.

Here’s a (spoiler-filled) snippet from RUNNING ROGUE, the second book in the trilogy.

*Spoiler Alert!*

“Michael?” Maggie asked into the intercom.

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

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

“Mags, I just…I just want to talk.”

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

She pressed the door buzzer. “Don’t wake my neighbors,” she admonished him.

Maggie pulled the wooly cream-colored robe tighter around herself, tying the belt securely and she stalked to the door, opening it to wait for Michael. She watched him coming up the stairs, his soaked hair matted to his head. His wet shoes squeaked softly with each footfall. She started to say something snippy but noticed the haunted look in his eyes, so she simply stepped back and let him into the apartment. She closed the door behind him and walked to the kitchen counter where she leaned back, crossing her arms, head cocked at him expectantly.

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

“Well?” she finally said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sick,” he said quietly.

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

“It’s cancer.”

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

“Cancer.”

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

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

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

“Bacon’s burning,” Michael said quietly.

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh my God. Michael.”

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

Maggie watched him grimly. I imagine they did.

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

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

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

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

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

Michael sat up, sniffing and using the towel to wipe his face. “Shit.” He coughed and took a sip of coffee. “I have to be there at 1:30.”

Maggie looked over to where her files still sat scattered in the living room. She knew they probably represented ten hours of work for the following day and sighed heavily. “Where is the doctor’s office?”

“It’s on E. 80th between 2nd and 3rd.”

She nodded. “Okay. I’ll tell Rance that I have to leave at lunch. I’ll meet you there.”

“I can’t ask you to do that,” Michael said quickly, but he looked at her with such gratitude she felt the sting of tears in her eyes and a huge lump formed in her throat.

She coughed lightly. “You didn’t ask, although you seem to have asked everyone else in your Contacts, and I’m going to try not to take that personally,” she said. “I’m offering. Take it or leave it.”

RUNNING ROGUE, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 2 by Pandora Spocks

RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption