Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband Graham dies unexpectedly, she’s devastated.  She’s lost her husband, best friend, father of her grown children…and her Dominant.

But it turns out that Graham had an inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protege in the BDSM lifestyle, firefighter paramedic Judd Farris, to be the one to look after Jessi, at least until she finds her footing again.

But a platonic Dom/sub relationship is a damn odd arrangement.  Jessi finds herself increasingly attracted to Judd.  He’s determined to keep his promise to his friend.  Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary arrangement?

Here’s a sneak peek from FOR SPARROW.

In the quiet of the morning, Jessi poured herself a cup of coffee and sipped carefully.  The kids were still asleep, a fact that didn’t surprise her in the least.  Glancing at the clock on the stove, she figured she’d give them another hour or so before she tried to tempt them awake with the smell of homemade waffles.

She heard the slam of a car door out front.  That, combined with Buddy’s beeline to the front door, let her know that Judd had arrived.  Smiling to herself, she carried her coffee with her, opening the door to let Buddy tear across the lawn to greet his favorite human.

Judd set down his tool box and stooped to ruffle the puppy’s ears, then stood, grinning broadly.  “Good morning, Jessi!”

She felt herself grinning back.  “Hi, there.  How are you this morning?”

“I’m great.  Am I too early?”  He frowned slightly.

“Not for me, you’re not.  The kids are all still asleep.  Can I get you some coffee?”

He nodded.  “Coffee sounds great, actually.”

Judd followed Jessi into the kitchen and stood leaning against the center island.  “So everybody got in okay?”

“They did.  We didn’t get to bed until after 1:00,” she handed him a light blue mug of steaming coffee, “but I woke up about 7:00 and couldn’t sleep anymore.”

He accepted the mug and sipped gratefully.  “This is good.”

She smiled at him.  “I’m planning on making waffles for breakfast.  Are you hungry?”

Judd’s eyes widened.  “Waffles?  I had a granola bar on my way over, but there’s no way I’d pass up homemade waffles.”

Jessi patted the counter.  “Have a seat, then.  Waffles are coming right up.”

Judd sank onto one of the high stools and sipped his coffee, watching Jessi expertly measuring ingredients into a large yellow mixing bowl.  Soon the aroma of freshly cooked waffles filled the kitchen.

“There you are,” said Jessi, sliding a pair of crispy golden waffles in front of him.  “Syrup?  I have maple and strawberry.”

“Oh, man, I’m never going to get to that pool pump today.”  He laughed as he lifted the bottle of maple syrup and poured a generous helping all over his breakfast.

Jessi sat with him and nibbled on a waffle of her own as they chatted amiably about their week.  Soon enough, Judd was finished.

“That was delicious,” he said, carrying his plate to the sink, where he rinsed it and placed it in the dishwasher.  “Thank you!”

Jessi blushed slightly.  “Oh, it’s just waffles, but I’m glad you liked them.”

“I did.  Very much.”  He held her gaze for a moment.  “Well, off to the pool pump, then.”

“Thanks so much, Judd.  I’ll send Adam out there after he eats.”

From the back door, Judd waved, and headed out to the pool deck.

Jessi stood watching him through the window, Buddy snuffling around his feet as he set to work.  She smiled to herself, happy to have Judd there at her house.

“Ummm, what smells so good?”

She turned at the sleepy voice of her son.  “Good morning, sweetie.”  Crossing the kitchen, she hugged him tightly, kissing his cheek.  “Are you hungry?”

“For your famous waffles?  Always!”  Adam claimed the stool recently vacated by Judd.

As Jessi ladled more batter onto the waffle iron, Adam’s brow furrowed.  “Um, Mom?  There’s a guy out by the pool.”

She glanced out the window.  “Oh, that’s Judd.  He’s working on the pool pump.  I told him you could help him in a while.”

“Sure,” he shrugged, taking a bite of his breakfast.

Cara came down the stairs followed closely by Trevor.  Both were dressed in shorts and casual shirts, ready for the day.

“Good morning, you two.  Did you sleep okay?” Jessi asked, dropping more batter onto the hot appliance.

“Hi, Mommy,” Cara murmured as she sank onto a stool beside her brother.  She yawned sleepily.

“I slept great, Mrs. Crenshaw, thanks.  And something smells delicious,” Trevor added as he sat beside Cara.

“Good, I’m glad.  I thought I’d do a homemade breakfast this morning.  Maybe we can go to brunch tomorrow before you leave.”  She eyed the three of them.  “So, what plans do you have for the day?  It looks like a perfect beach day.  You can pack a lunch and take it up to Juno.  It’s breezy, so there might be kite boarders today.”

Jessi noticed that Adam and Trevor both looked to Cara uneasily.  Cara sat up straight.  “Well, Mom,” she hesitated.

Suspicious, Jessi narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms and leaning back against the counter.

Cara cleared her throat and continued.  “We wanted to talk about Dad’s stuff.”

“Dad’s stuff?”

Cara nodded.  “His clothes and tools and things.  You haven’t started doing anything with them yet?”

Jessi sighed.  “No.  I haven’t packed up Dad’s things.”

“That’s why we’re here.  I figured you hadn’t done it yet.  That’s what we’re going to do today.”  Cara’s face, so precisely a mix of Graham’s and Jessi’s own, was determined.

Feeling panic rising, Jessi took a slow breath.  “No.  We’re not packing your dad’s things today.  If that’s the only reason you came home this weekend, you’re going to be disappointed.  I will pack up your father’s belongings when I’m ready to do it, and not a moment before.”

“Look, Mother,” Cara slid off the stool and came around the island toward Jessi.  Her short auburn hair hinted at her stubbornness as her light blue eyes glinted sharply.  “It’s been long enough.  You have to let go.  I read an article, and…”

“I don’t care what you read, you do not decide for me when to get rid of my husband’s belongings.”  Jessi knew her voice was getting louder and she didn’t care.  Adam and Trevor looked like they wanted to crawl into a hole.

“Denial!  It’s called denial.  Dad’s dead.  And hanging onto his things won’t bring him back!”

Adam, ever the peacemaker, tried to intervene.  “Maybe we should just drop it, Cara.”

“Shut up, Adam!” she snapped.

“It’s not denial, it’s a process.  I’ll clean out his things when I’m ready.  Don’t push me on this, Cara!”

Outside, his focus on the inner workings of the pool pump, Judd became aware of raised voices.  Glancing up, he could see Jessi and her daughter squaring off in the kitchen.  He gnawed his lower lip thoughtfully.  It really wasn’t his business.  But his position was to protect Jessi.

Even from her kids?  He debated another moment before setting down the wrench in his hand and heading to the kitchen door.

“Someone has to, Mother.  Someone has to help you when you can’t seem to help yourself.”

“Everything okay in here, Jessi?”  Judd’s tone suggested quiet authority.

Cara whirled around.  “And who in the hell is this?!”  Dramatically, she flung her hand in Judd’s direction.

Judd started to answer.  “I’m…”

“What the fuck makes you think you can come into my house and speak to my guests like that?!” Jessi shrieked.

The kitchen fell silent.  Neither Adam nor Cara had ever heard their mother use profanity.  Eyes wide and mouths open, they both stared at Jessi.

She took a calming breath and continued softly.  “This is Judd.  He’s a friend of your father’s, and he’s here today fixing the pool pump.”  She met Judd’s eyes with a grateful look.

Adam recovered first.  Proffering a hand, he introduced himself.  “Hi, man.  I’m Adam, that’s my sister, Cara, and this is Cara’s boyfriend, Trevor.”

Judd nodded to them all.  “Nice to meet you.”  He looked to Adam and Trevor.  “Gentlemen, maybe you can help me out back while the ladies sort this out, what do you say?”

“Sure thing,” Trevor answered, glad to have an excuse to scuttle out of the line of fire.

The silence in the kitchen was deafening.  Neither Jessi nor Cara had moved, and they stood, arms crossed, facing each other.  Finally, Jessi spoke.

“Look, Cara…I’m trying to receive this in the spirit I’m sure you meant it to be.  I know you care and you’re trying to help.  But I’m not ready to go through all of your dad’s things.  I’m just not.”

Cara tossed her head impatiently.  “You’re not even aware of your level of denial.”

Jessi’s eyes flashed angrily.  “Don’t talk to me like I’m some senile old woman.  I’m forty-fucking-five!  I run my own successful business!”

Cara flinched at her mother’s use of the F-bomb for the second time in as many minutes.  “But Mom!

“No buts.  This is my decision, not yours.”  Jessi crossed the kitchen and sank onto a stool at the counter.  “If there’s something in particular of your father’s that you’d like to have, just let me know.  I’ll be sure to put it aside for you.”

“Mother…”

Jessi shook her head definitively.  “That’s my final word on the matter.”  She held her daughter’s gaze challengingly.

Finally, Cara looked away.  “Okay.  I didn’t mean to start a whole thing, I just thought…”  She wrapped her arms around Jessi.  “I’m sorry.  I just miss him so much.”

Jessi felt the sting of unwanted tears.  “I know you do, baby.  I miss him, too.”

FOR SPARROW, Dream Dominant Book 3, is the 2017 New Apple Award Medalist in Literary Erotica, and it’s the 2018 Golden Flogger Award Winner for Best BDSM Book in BDSM Light.

You can get your copy at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

Weekend Excerpt–Where It All Began

LUKE & BELLA, Dream Dominant Book 1, is the first book I ever published.  It’s where it all began.

The idea for the story started with this question:  What  would be your dream job?

For Luke McGillicutty and Bella Grant, it’s jetting all over the world to create a brand new television travel show.  Thrown together as co-producers, visiting exotic cities, staying in luxurious hotels, is it any wonder they fall in love?

But it all happened so fast, Luke hasn’t had the time to be completely honest with Bella.  If he tells her now, he could lose her forever.  Can he risk everything on the chance they could have it all?

Here’s a steamy little teaser from LUKE & BELLA.

Landing smoothly on Mykonos, they were treated to a radiantly sunny afternoon capped by a sparkling blue cloudless sky.  They moved effortlessly through the customs checkpoint and collected Bella’s bags at the luggage carousel.

“Ever think of simplifying, m’lady,” Luke joked, gesturing with his duffle bags.

“In your dreams, Cowboy!” she retorted.

“Oh, baby girl, my dreams are made of different stuff,” he growled suggestively.

She laughed lightly, rolling her eyes in mock exasperation.

He hailed a cab and Bella told the driver the name of their hotel.  They enjoyed a scenic late afternoon view of the island as they made their way to the Cavo Tagoo.  The pair checked in and were escorted to the Honeymoon Suite by an older bellman who pulled their bags on a brass cart.

“Congratulations!” he said to them as he opened their door with a flourish.

Bella breezed past him impatiently and Luke thanked the man, amused at his misunderstanding and at Bella’s reaction.  “Well, m’lady, once again, you have booked us into heaven.”

She was already opening the doors to the pool deck.  The view of the infinity pool hanging over the crystal waters of the Aegean was utterly breathtaking.  And Bella in her blue dress seemed to be part of the scene.  Turning to him, she said breathlessly, “Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?”

“No, I never have,” he replied, not meaning the pool or the sea.

“I’m going swimming,” she announced, and she disappeared into the bedroom, emerging ten minutes later in a sheer purple sarong.  Before Luke could say anything, she walked to the edge of the pool and, facing him, untied the sarong to reveal black bikini bottoms…and nothing else.

She dropped the sheer fabric onto a chaise lounge and executed a shallow dive, emerging at the infinity edge.  She held on to the edge with one hand and smoothed back her wet curls with the other.  She looked at him, eyes dark and intense.  “Well, Cowboy, are you joining me, or what?”

“I’ll be right back.”  He retreated into the room and returned with his personal Rebel DSLR.  Bella’s face registered alarm.  “These will be just for us.  I promise.  Do you trust me?” he asked quietly, holding the camera down.

She swallowed and nodded slowly.  “I do trust you, Cowboy.”

He took some amazing shots of Bella. She was a natural beauty and the pool only accentuated the fact.  She gave him casual poses, seemingly unable to be other than herself.

He could feel his erection growing as he focused on her half naked body.  Her nipples were sharp pebbles, just begging for his attention.  Little droplets of pool water glistened on her beautiful skin.  Her hair was slicked back framing her beautiful face.

When his arousal became consuming, he pulled off his shirt, his pants, and his boxer briefs and slowly entered the pool.  He swam to her and pinned her against the infinity edge.  Kissing her deeply, he first touched those nipples that had called to him from across the pool, taking them between his finger and thumb, causing them to stretch into hard erect nubs.  She tilted her head back and moaned softly.  Then his hand moved down to her bikini bottoms.

“You’re a little overdressed, m’lady.”  Hooking his thumbs into her bikini bottoms, he easily slid them off.  He lifted her legs, wrapping them around him, before urgently pushing his erection deep into her core.

She gasped and tightly gripped his shoulders.  “Oh, Cowboy,” she breathed against his neck.  “It’s our first time making love outside.”

“Something tells me it won’t be our last,” he said, and she kissed him passionately.  He kissed her back, matching her intensity.  Thrusting into her hard, then harder, he pulled out and forcefully spun her around so she was facing the wide expanse and he took her from behind.  Watching himself enter her, he groaned with pleasure.  He ran his hand through her hair then gripped it, pulling her head back to him and growled into her ear, “Baby girl, I’m so gonna come inside you.”

LUKE & BELLA
is available in both eBook and paperback formats
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/LukeAndBella1

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Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

Now that I have your attention…  😉

FOR SPARROW, Dream Dominant Book 3, is the 2018 Golden Flogger Award WINNER for Best BDSM Book (BDSM Light).  I love saying that, LOL!

Judd Farris, the hero of the story is a hot Dominant firefighter paramedic.  But do you wonder why I made him a first responder?

A few years ago, Mr. Spocks and I were invited to a quinceañera for the daughter of a friend.  We had a great time, and as we were leaving, we stopped just outside the event hall to chat with some friends.

While we were standing there, a little old lady missed the curb and tripped and fell on the concrete driveway.  Mere minutes later, a West Palm Beach fire rescue truck pulled up and out jumped the hottest guys you ever saw.  All I could think was, Holy cow, do they only hire male models?  

Don’t worry, the lady was okay, she was just a little banged up.  But that was when I decided that Judd was a paramedic.  And that incident became a scene in the story.

Here’s a brand-new teaser from award-winning FOR SPARROW.

Following the dinner service, the music came up and teens crowded the dancefloor.  Jessi went to the kitchen to compliment the smooth service and give everyone a short break.  The birthday girl wasn’t scheduled to cut the cake for another half hour.

Sarah was organizing the cake area, making sure that plates and flatware were ready.  Jessi gave her a nod, and headed out the front door to catch a breath of fresh air.

The night was warm but there was a gentle breeze stirring.  A few guests were chatting together on the front sidewalk, and Jessi wandered a few yards further away.  She gazed up and wondered at the mostly full moon and the handful of stars overhead.  Happy that the night was going well, she sighed contentedly.

Maybe we’ll get a couple of referrals before the night is over. 

Jessi watched as a couple returned to the party, holding the door open for a pair of older ladies who appeared to be leaving.  She had just decided it was time for her to go back inside when everything suddenly shifted into slow motion.  One of the ladies missed the step off the curb and went down hard on the asphalt, her head striking the driveway with a thud.

Without hesitating, Jessi ran toward the fallen woman, leaning over her.  “Ma’am, are you alright?”

The woman moaned weakly as her friend stood wringing her hands and whimpering softly.  Jessi turned to a man who’d just come out the door.  “Call 911!  Hurry!”  She knelt beside the woman and bent down to look at her face.  The woman had definitely hit her head, Jessi had seen it happen.  Now a large knot was forming on the woman’s forehead.

“It’s okay, ma’am, it’s going to be alright.”  The woman tried to sit up but Jessi stopped her.  “Just be still, help is on the way.  We don’t want you to hurt yourself further.”

Jessi held the older woman’s hand as the mother of the birthday girl came outside.

“What’s going on?  Tia, what happened?”

Ai, mija, your tia fell off the curb,” the other older woman said.

Jessi smiled reassuringly.  “I think she’ll be okay.  Help is on the way.  Maybe you can both go back inside and relax.  I’ll come and let you know what’s happening.”

Si, tia, you look pale.  Come and sit down.  I’ll come back out and stay with her,” the mother said.  She escorted her aunt inside, and quickly returned.  A small crowd started to gather on the front sidewalk.

“Maybe we could get a bag of ice,” Jessi suggested, and a guest raced into the building, soon returning to hand Jessi a small plastic bag of ice.  She leaned over and as she gently pressed the ice to the growing knot, the woman moaned again.  “It’s alright, hon, help is on the way.”

Even as she said the words, she saw the flashing lights of a bright red fire/rescue truck pulling into the parking lot.  “Oh, thank God,” she murmured.

The truck pulled to a stop, and Jessi heard feet scrambling on the pavement and vehicle doors being opened and shut.  She kept her eyes on the older lady who seemed to fade in and out of consciousness.  “They’re here, it’s going to be okay.”

“What happened here?”

Jessi’s head jerked up at the familiar voice.  Judd stood beside the truck dressed in his uniform navy pants and a grey fire/rescue polo that gloved his muscular shoulders.  Before she could formulate her thoughts, he spoke.

“Jessi?”

“Hi, Judd,” she said shyly.  “I saw the whole thing.  She missed the step off the curb and fell pretty hard.  I saw her head hit the pavement.  I kept her still and we’ve put ice on the lump.”

Judd nodded.  “Okay, thanks, we’ll see what we can do.  Hello, dear, I’m Judd.  It looks like you took quite a spill.  Let me just take a look at your head.”  Another man came around the truck with a box of equipment.

Jessi backed away from them as they went to work checking the woman’s vitals and speaking into their radios.  Sarah came out and stood by Jessi.  “I heard we had an accident.  How is it going?”

“I don’t know,” Jessi shrugged.  “It was pretty scary to watch, I’ll tell you.  We’ll wait and see what they say.”

“Tell you what, I’m going to get the cake going and hopefully most of these people will go back inside.  You don’t need an audience out here,” Sarah said.  She turned to the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the guest of honor will be cutting the cake in just a minute.  Come on inside so we can sing to her.”  Thankfully, most of the onlookers followed Sarah inside.

One woman, a relative of the injured woman, stayed.  “Tia, let them do their job,” she said as the older woman insisted on sitting up.

Ai, dios mio,” she exclaimed.  “I’m just a silly old woman who didn’t watch where she was going.  I’m fine.  I want to go back to the party.”

Judd, noticing the worried look on Jessi’s face, gave her a quick wink.  “I’d feel more comfortable if you’d let us take you to the hospital and have the doctors take a look at you, dear.  That was quite a fall.”

“No,” she said defiantly, “I want to go inside.”

Judd looked at his partner and shook his head.  The other paramedic spoke softly to the woman in Spanish, but she remained determined to stay at the party.

“We can’t make you go,” Judd sighed.  “If you’re staying here, someone needs to keep an eye on you.  If you have a concussion, there could be problems later on.”

Si, I’ll watch her,” said the woman who’d stayed outside with Jessi.  “Come on, tia, let’s get you back to your seat.”

Jessi watched as the younger woman helped her aunt back inside the building.  Then she turned to Judd.  “I’m so sorry you came out here for nothing.”

He smiled his patently kind Judd smile.  “It wasn’t for nothing, that lady really hurt herself.  I wish she’d let us take her in, but older folks can be stubborn sometimes.”  He looked to the other man.  “Jessi, this is my partner Alex Gomez.  Gomez, this is Jessi Crenshaw.”

Alex flashed a bright white smile.  “Nice to meet you, Jessi.”  He was dressed in the same uniform as Judd, but he was a bit shorter, with wavy black hair and sparkling brown eyes.

“It’s nice to meet you, too.  You know, since you don’t have to make the run to the hospital, do you have time to come inside?  The birthday girl should have just cut the cake.”

“How could we say no to birthday cake?” Alex laughed, slapping Judd on the back.  “You’ve been holding out on me, Farris,” he said under his breath as they followed Jessi into the party.

FB image Golden Flogger

FOR SPARROW is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

FOR SPARROW–2018 Golden Flogger Award WINNER for Best BDSM Book (BDSM Light)

I’m thrilled that the third Dream Dominant book, FOR SPARROW, was selected for this honor!  The Golden Flogger is awarded every year by the BDSM Writers Con, which is why it means so much.  They not only like the story, they approve of the way the book portrays the BDSM lifestyle.

FOR SPARROW is near and dear to my heart–it’s set here in Palm Beach County, my home for the past 25 years.  Throughout the story, I take the characters to some of my favorite places.

As a teaser, here’s the first chapter…

I buried my husband today.

The thought tumbled through Jessi’s mind over and over, like clothes in a dryer.  Voices around her sounded oddly muted, as though she were underwater.  Occasionally, someone touched her, a simple grasping of her hand, a gentle pat on her shoulder, and the sensation felt like burning embers showering down over her.

Following the graveside service, mourners had gathered at her home.  Hers and Graham’s.

Only Graham isn’t here.  We left him at the cemetery.  I buried my husband today.

Food had appeared in her kitchen.  Casseroles, desserts, salads.  There was even a brisket.  An army of women had set up a command post and were making sure guests had plenty to eat and drink.  Jessi wondered briefly if there was enough ice for the drinks.  Maybe she should ask Graham run to out and get some more.

I buried my husband today.

Since that day, her phone hadn’t stopped ringing.  Friends and neighbors hadn’t stopped calling and dropping by.  “How are you?”  “What can we do?”  “What do you need?”

Her business partner, Sarah Reid, had been her rock, taking over the events they had scheduled for the week, returning calls Jessi didn’t have the strength to deal with.

“You take all the time you need, hon,” Sarah had told her.  “We’ve got it under control.”

Since that day.

“Sparrow, I need to get the oil changed in my car.  Why don’t you drive to the mechanic’s and I’ll meet you there?  I’ll drop you at your office, and then we can do the reverse this afternoon.”

Jessi had waited at the mechanic’s shop.  After an hour had passed, she’d tried his phone.  A stranger had answered.

“This is Officer Brooks.  The owner of this phone has been in an accident.  Are you the wife of Graham Crenshaw?”

A police car had picked her up and driven her to the hospital.  “I’m sorry, Mrs. Crenshaw.  It appears your husband suffered a fatal heart attack behind the wheel of his car.  When the car hit the utility pole, he was most likely already deceased.”  The doctor had had an air of resigned sympathy.  Jessi had wondered how many people he pronounced dead on an average day.

Sarah had met her at the hospital and had driven her home.  Jessi wasn’t sure how her own car had gotten back to the house.  She’d somehow made the calls to Cara and Adam.  “Something has happened.  Your dad died.”

Cara, age twenty-three, had made her excuses at her job with the Weather Channel, and had taken the first available flight from Atlanta to West Palm Beach.  Adam, age twenty-one, had driven from Orlando where he worked as a video game animator.

Jessi and the kids had gone to the funeral home the following day to see to burial arrangements.  The funeral director had neatly folded his hands on top of his huge mahogany desk and smiled kindly.

“Mrs. Crenshaw, your husband has everything prearranged.  You don’t need to worry about a thing, it’s all taken care of.  He has requested that he be buried in a navy suit, with a white shirt and a blue and red paisley tie.  Do you know the things he means?”

Jessi had nodded dumbly.  What he’d described was her favorite suit of Graham’s.  He always looked so handsome, and he’d worn it when they’d celebrated their anniversary a few months back.

He had it all planned out.  But when?  Did he do it after the heart attack a few years ago?  Why didn’t he mention it?

“We’re just so sorry for your loss.”  The statement shook Jessi from her thoughts, returning her to the morbid gathering in her living room.  It was a neighbor couple from down the street.

“Thank you,” she murmured, not meeting their eyes.  She sipped her wine to have something to do, and wandered into the kitchen.

“Hey, hon, how are you holding up?” Sarah asked.

Jessi shrugged and gave a weak smile.  “I’m okay.”

“Can we get you something to eat?”

Jessi shook her head and headed back to the living room.

I buried my husband today.

“Jessica.  I was just chatting with your lovely daughter and son,” said Rev. Lyman.  “Graham was a good man, taken before his time.”  He looked at Jessi with slight reproof.  “I hope we’ll be seeing you and your family on Sunday.”

“Maybe, Reverend,” Jessi replied softly.  “If you’ll excuse me and my children.”

“Of course.  Family has to pull together at a time like this.”

They watched him work his way across the room.  “I’m not lovely?” quipped Adam.

Jessi smiled at her son.  “You’re lovely to me.  And you’re welcome for getting the good reverend to move along.”

“Do you love the way Rev. Lyman tried to get in a plug for going to church?” commented Cara.

“My personal relationship with God is exactly that.  Personal,” replied Jessi.  “How are you two doing?”

“It’s hard,” said Adam, his voice breaking.

“I know.  You don’t have to stay for all of this.  I have no idea when people will decide to leave.”

“I’m here until Friday,” Cara said.  “I don’t want to leave you alone to deal.”

Jessi kissed her cheek and then Adam’s.  “Thank you both.  I love you so much.  Your dad loved you, too.”  She felt tears forming again.  She felt as though she’d cried out her very soul, and yet tears were always near.

Cara’s here until Friday.  What day is it again?

Cara and Adam moved out to find their friends.  Jessi turned to look for a place to sit.  She was so weary.  She was stopped by a woman she vaguely recognized.

“Jessica, I’m Harriet.  From church?”

“Oh, yes, Harriet.  It was good of you to come.”

“Sweetie, I just want to remind you that Graham is in a better place.”  She beamed at Jessi, as though her words bestowed onto the new widow some sort of miracle.

Jessi felt a twitch begin at the outer corner of her left eye.  If I don’t get out of here right now, I’m going to scream.

“If you’ll excuse me, please,” she murmured, pushing past the woman.  She hurried through the kitchen, ignoring Sarah as she called to her, and slipped out the back door.

The lanai and pool deck were blissfully quiet in the early evening twilight.  The sun had set and the lights had come on automatically.  She crossed to the far side of the pool, and sat on the raised edge of the spa with her back to the house.  Finally alone, she leaned forward with her elbows on her thighs and let the tears flow.

She’d only been there a few minutes when she heard a sound, the soft scuff of a leather shoe against the brick pavers.  She sat up abruptly and whirled around.

“I’m so sorry.  I don’t mean to bother you.”  The man was tall and muscular, his dark hair in short waves framing a handsome face, his dark suit cut slim.  Large brown eyes were soft and sympathetic.

Jessi sniffed and stood, swiping at the tears on her cheeks.  “I just needed some air.  I buried my husband today.”  She looked up at him, shocked.  “That’s the first time I said that out loud.”

He smiled kindly.  “I’ll leave you alone.  I just wanted to say that Graham was a good man.  He was my friend and I’ll miss him.”

“Thank you.  Did you work with him?”

“No.  We were friends.  I’m Judd, by the way.”

Jessi nodded.  “Thank you for coming, Judd.  I’m sure he would have appreciated it.”  She began walking back towards the house.  Judd fell into step beside her.

“I thought maybe I would come back on Saturday, maybe help you with the lawn,” he said.

Jessi was only half-listening, wondering if Harriet had gotten the hell out of her house yet.  “Mm-hmm,” she murmured.

“Alright, Jessi,” he said.  “Take care, now.”

She nodded and went to find her children.

FOR SPARROW is available in both digital and paperback
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

FOR SPARROW, Dream Dominant Book 3, is a 2018 Golden Flogger Award Finalist for Best BDSM Book in the BDSM Light category.  It’s a wonderful honor for a book that’s so close to my heart.

This heart-felt story grew out of my thoughts regarding a couple of dear submissive friends of mine.  And I set it in my home of Palm Beach County, Florida, taking the characters to some of my favorite places.

Here’s what it’s about in a nutshell:

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband died, she lost her friend, her lover…and her Dominant. 

But it turns out that Graham had an inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protégé in the Lifestyle, firefighter/paramedic Judd Farris, to be Jessi’s Dominant just until she gets back on her feet. 

Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary solution?

FOR SPARROW is also the 2017 New Apple Medalist for Literary Erotica.

Here’s a little peek.

“Have you always been a paramedic?” she asked.

“After I graduated from Florida State, I started out as a firefighter,” he said.  He laughed at her automatic grimace.  “Don’t tell me, you’re a Florida graduate.”

Jessi laughed lightly.  “Go, Gators!”

He chuckled with her.  “Anyway, after a few years I went to EMT school, and then later I completed my paramedic training.”

“Does being a paramedic keep you safer than being a firefighter?”  Her brow furrowed with worry.

Judd smiled.  “I suppose.  I don’t run into many burning buildings anymore.  We wait for the guys to bring victims out of the fires.  And we respond to heart attacks, injuries, car accidents, that kind of thing.”

He watched Jessi’s eyes widen.  “No,” he shook his head.  “I didn’t get the call for Graham’s accident.  I was off that day.”

“How did you know…“

“Jessi, your eyes show everything you’re thinking,” he said gently.  “It’s the damnedest thing I ever saw.”

Jessi immediately looked down at her plate, concerned about what else her eyes might give away.  Judd went back to eating and she picked at her burger some more.  Looking back up, she spoke again.  “How did you know Graham?”

Judd looked back up at Jessi, swallowed his bite of burger, and cleared his throat.  “I followed his blog for quite a while.”  Jessi blinked, trying to make the leap from following a blog to being friends.

He sighed, wiping his mouth and setting down his napkin.  “I told you my marriage ended because we wanted different things in life.  As things started going south, I realized that one problem was that both of us wanted to be in control.  And it didn’t work.  There was no yin to the yang, you know?”

Jessi nodded, frowning.

“I started looking online for anything that could help, some kind of advice to help me save my marriage.  The more I looked, the more I realized that in my core self, I’m Dominant.”

Judd paused to let that sink in.  Jessi was listening raptly.  “I found a few websites about being Dominant, you know the kind of thing, ‘do this’, ‘don’t do that’.  When I started going out again after the divorce, I tried some things, some really stupid things.  I made a few dates through FetLife and they were disastrous.”  He shook his head, half smiling.  “Graham’s writing was a revelation.  I thought, here’s a guy who knows what it is to be Dominant, to lead a submissive in the right way.”

She still didn’t say anything so he pushed on.  “I became something of a stalker,” he laughed, “reading every article, digging through his archives…  I commented on his posts and asked questions, and he was always nice, he always took the time to answer me.”  Judd took a break, nibbling on a handful of fries.  Jessi sipped her beer and waited.

“When I realized he was local, I worked up the nerve to ask him to meet me for coffee, and he agreed.  We met at Howley’s, and we talked for hours.”

“Howley’s,” Jessi repeated.

Judd grinned wryly.  “Cooked in sight…”

“Must be right,” she finished, smiling sadly.

He nodded.  “We met about once a month after that.  He was my mentor, but he was also my friend.”

“He never told me this.  I never knew that he was meeting someone, mentoring someone.”  Jessi gazed out over the water.

“That last time,” Judd began, “he was preoccupied.  He kept talking about what would happen to you when he was gone.”

“Why?” Jessi quietly pleaded.  “Why did he think something was going to happen?  Why didn’t he tell me if he thought something was wrong?”

Judd shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I think maybe he was feeling like something was off, and he didn’t want to worry you.”  He looked at Jessi and sighed.  “Graham asked me to promise I’d look out for you, make sure you were alright.  Those things I work on at your house?”  Jessi nodded.  “Before we left Howley’s that day, he handed me an envelope with my name on it, said in the event something happened to him, I should open it.”

“It was a list of chores around my house?” Jessi asked.  Judd nodded solemnly.

Jessi frowned.  “Was the dog on that list?”

Judd laughed.  “Yes.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen.”

He looked down for a moment.  “The list was the second page.  The first page was a letter outlining how he wanted me to make sure that you were okay.  He worried about you, Jessi.”

She looked away and swiped at a lone tear with the heel of her hand.  “I just don’t understand,” she said quietly.

“There’s more, Jessi.” She looked back at him expectantly.  “Graham gave me two envelopes that day.  The one for me…and one for you.”

Jessi’s eyes widened.  “You mean you’ve had—“

Judd put up a hand to stop her.  “He told me to give it to you when the time was right.  Jessi, I had it in the pocket of my jacket on the day of the funeral.  But you were surrounded by assholes saying really stupid things, and you looked like you’d been hit by a bus, and it didn’t seem like the right time to give it to you.  I’ve had it in my truck every time I’ve come by.”

He placed his hand over hers.  “I think it’s the right time tonight.  I’ll give it to you when we get back to your house.”

The drive back to Jessi’s was accented by tense silence.  Judd watched out of the corner of his eye as Jessi wrung her hands together anxiously, her face tight.  When they pulled into the driveway, she unbuckled her seatbelt.

“Hang on a second,” he told her.  “I’ll get your door.”

*****

Standing at the kitchen island, he handed her an envelope.  Her heart ached at the sight of Graham’s familiar left-handed scrawl across the face of the envelope.

For Sparrow.

Jessi’s eyes filled with tears.

Judd spoke softly.  “I’ll be out back when you’re finished, and we can talk about it if you like.”  He squeezed her shoulder gently.  “Come on, Buddy.  Let’s go outside.”  Happily, the puppy followed Judd out the back door.

FOR SPARROW is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

 

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW Has Big News!

This week brought great news for Dream Dominant Book 3, FOR SPARROW.
It’ s been named a 2018 Golden Flogger Award FINALIST for Best BDSM Book in the BDSM Light category!

I’m so excited!  This book is special to me in several ways.  The story grew out of a ‘wonder’ I had about two dear subbie friends of mine.  And it’s set in my home, Palm Beach County, Florida.  I’ve infused it with some of my favorite places.

In a nutshell, Dominant firefighter paramedic Judd  Farris made a promise to his dying friend and he’s going to keep it.
He’ll be there for recent widow Jessi Crenshaw, at least until she finds a new Dom of her own.
But a platonic D/s relationship is a damn odd arrangement.
Could it be that maybe his friend had something more permanent in mind?

Here’s a little snippet from FOR SPARROW.

Jessi sat gazing out across the moonlit water to the red lighthouse on the opposite side of the inlet.  In the cool evening breeze, she was almost cold in her casual pink and orange sundress.  She thought about the ride from her house, unable to recall the last time she’d ridden alone with a man other than Graham.  The uncomfortable feeling had returned, and she’d chided herself mentally.

Oh, for fuck’s sake, grow up!  We’re going out because obviously, there’s nothing in the house to eat.

She’d been surprised when Judd played country music on the truck’s radio, although she couldn’t figure why that had been surprising.  She knew nothing about the man and his taste, in music, or anything else for that matter.

When they’d pulled up in front of the Square Grouper, she’d also been surprised.  It was not the kind of place Graham had liked, he’d been more a fan of quiet and sedate restaurants.  Places that were actually indoors, unlike this bar with sand for a floor and palm trees for a roof.

She found she rather liked it.  Looking back, she realized that she and Graham had rarely ever gone out to a bar.  Occasionally for girls’ night out, she and Sarah and a few of their friends met for cocktails at the bar of the local Cheesecake Factory, but that was usually just a preamble to going to the movies.

The bar had been noisy and crowded when they’d entered, and she’d stiffened apprehensively, unsure of where to go.  Judd seemed to have noticed, and he’d placed a hand gently on the small of her back, guiding her through the crowd to the table by the water where she now sat.

Judd seemed to be well-known among the crowd there, several times his name was called out raucously.  “Yo, Judd!”  He’d laughed and returned the greetings.

“Here you go, Jessi.  I’ll go get us some beers and order a couple of burgers.”  And he’d left her to ignore the crowd in favor of the tranquility of the full moon on the water, the rotating beam at the top of the lighthouse, the occasional boat that passed by.

“I’m back,” he said, handing her a bottle of Blue Moon and sitting beside her with his own.  “The burgers will be out in a while.”  He took a pull on his beer and sighed.  “This is one of my favorite places to sit and relax.”  Glancing at her, he frowned a bit.  “Are you alright?  I mean, is this place okay?”

Jessi nodded.  “It’s nice.  I’ve never been here before.”  She looked back towards the bar as the laughter peaked again.  “They seem to know you.”

He grinned.  “Yeah, I’m here quite a bit.  I hate to cook for myself.”

She watched him thoughtfully for a moment.  “You aren’t married, then?”

Sipping his beer again, he shook his head.  “Nope.  I was for a while a few years back but it didn’t work out.”

“I’m sorry.  That’s sad, I think.”

“Sometimes people just grow in different directions,” he said with a shrug.

Jessi felt awkward, like she should be more sympathetic but she didn’t know what to say.  Thankfully, their food arrived, large cheeseburgers with what looked to be homemade French fries.  For the next few minutes they concentrated on eating.

Judd groaned appreciatively.  “This place has the best burgers in town.”

“It’s really good,” Jessi agreed, although she barely picked at her plate.

He looked thoughtful as he dipped a fry in ketchup.  “Tell me about your business,” Judd prompted.

She looked up, surprised.  “Oh, well, it’s event planning.  You know, weddings, parties, fund raisers, that kind of thing.  About four years ago, my friend Sarah and I got tired of teaching and decided to take the plunge.”

Judd grinned.  “You were a teacher?”

“Ninth grade English.  I did it for a long time, but I was ready for a change.”

“How is your business doing?”

Jessi smiled a little.  “Pretty well, actually.  We average about three events a week.  Matter of fact we have a big party tomorrow night.  I’ll probably spend most of the day taking care of last minute details.”

He nodded.  “You said that Friday worked out better this week.  I’ll be working tomorrow, too.”

“Have you always been a paramedic?” she asked.

“After I graduated from Florida State, I started out as a firefighter,” he said.  He laughed at her automatic grimace.  “Don’t tell me, you’re a Florida graduate.”

Jessi laughed lightly.  “Go, Gators!”

He chuckled with her.  “Anyway, after a few years I went to EMT school, and then later I completed my paramedic training.”

“Does being a paramedic keep you safer than being a firefighter?”  Her brow furrowed with worry.

Judd smiled.  “I suppose.  I don’t run into many burning buildings anymore.  We wait for the guys to bring victims out of the fires.  And we respond to heart attacks, injuries, car accidents, that kind of thing.”

He watched Jessi’s eyes widen.  “No,” he shook his head.  “I didn’t get the call for Graham’s accident.  I was off that day.”

“How did you know…“

“Jessi, your eyes show everything you’re thinking,” he said gently.  “It’s the damnedest thing I ever saw.”

Jessi immediately looked down at her plate, concerned about what else her eyes might give away.  Judd went back to eating and she picked at her burger some more.  Looking back up, she spoke again.  “How did you know Graham?”

Judd looked back up at Jessi, swallowed his bite of burger, and cleared his throat.  “I followed his blog for quite a while.”  Jessi blinked, trying to make the leap from following a blog to being friends.

He sighed, wiping his mouth and setting down his napkin.  “I told you my marriage ended because we wanted different things in life.  As things started going south, I realized that one problem was that both of us wanted to be in control.  And it didn’t work.  There was no yin to the yang, you know?”

Jessi nodded, frowning.

“I started looking online for anything that could help, some kind of advice to help me save my marriage.  The more I looked, the more I realized that in my core self, I’m Dominant.”

Judd paused to let that sink in.  Jessi was listening raptly.  “I found a few websites about being Dominant, you know the kind of thing, ‘do this’, ‘don’t do that’.  When I started going out again after the divorce, I tried some things, some really stupid things.  I made a few dates through FetLife and they were disastrous.”  He shook his head, half smiling.  “Graham’s writing was a revelation.  I thought, here’s a guy who knows what it is to be Dominant, to lead a submissive in the right way.”

She still didn’t say anything so he pushed on.  “I became something of a stalker,” he laughed, “reading every article, digging through his archives…  I commented on his posts and asked questions, and he was always nice, he always took the time to answer me.”  Judd took a break, nibbling on a handful of fries.  Jessi sipped her beer and waited.

“When I realized he was local, I worked up the nerve to ask him to meet me for coffee, and he agreed.  We met at Howley’s, and we talked for hours.”

“Howley’s,” Jessi repeated.

Judd grinned wryly.  “Cooked in sight…”

“Must be right,” she finished, smiling sadly.

He nodded.  “We met about once a month after that.  He was my mentor, but he was also my friend.”

“He never told me this.  I never knew that he was meeting someone, mentoring someone.”  Jessi gazed out over the water.

“That last time,” Judd began, “he was preoccupied.  He kept talking about what would happen to you when he was gone.”

“Why?” Jessi quietly pleaded.  “Why did he think something was going to happen?  Why didn’t he tell me if he thought something was wrong?”

Judd shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I think maybe he was feeling like something was off, and he didn’t want to worry you.”  He looked at Jessi and sighed.  “Graham asked me to promise I’d look out for you, make sure you were alright.  Those things I work on at your house?”  Jessi nodded.  “Before we left Howley’s that day, he handed me an envelope with my name on it, said in the event something happened to him, I should open it.”

“It was a list of chores around my house?” Jessi asked.  Judd nodded solemnly.

Jessi frowned.  “Was the dog on that list?”

Judd laughed.  “Yes.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen.”

He looked down for a moment.  “The list was the second page.  The first page was a letter outlining how he wanted me to make sure that you were okay.  He worried about you, Jessi.”

She looked away and swiped at a lone tear with the heel of her hand.  “I just don’t understand,” she said quietly.

“There’s more, Jessi.” She looked back at him expectantly.  “Graham gave me two envelopes that day.  The one for me…and one for you.”

Jessi’s eyes widened.  “You mean you’ve had—“

Judd put up a hand to stop her.  “He told me to give it to you when the time was right.  Jessi, I had it in the pocket of my jacket on the day of the funeral.  But you were surrounded by assholes saying really stupid things, and you looked like you’d been hit by a bus, and it didn’t seem like the right time to give it to you.  I’ve had it in my truck every time I’ve come by.”

He placed his hand over hers.  “I think it’s the right time tonight.  I’ll give it to you when we get back to your house.”

The drive back to Jessi’s was accented by tense silence.  Judd watched out of the corner of his eye as Jessi wrung her hands together anxiously, her face tight.  When they pulled into the driveway, she unbuckled her seatbelt.

“Hang on a second,” he told her.  “I’ll get your door.”

*****

Standing at the kitchen island, he handed her an envelope.  Her heart ached at the sight of Graham’s familiar left-handed scrawl across the face of the envelope.

For Sparrow.

Jessi’s eyes filled with tears.

Judd spoke softly.  “I’ll be out back when you’re finished, and we can talk about it if you like.”  He squeezed her shoulder gently.  “Come on, Buddy.  Let’s go outside.”  Happily, the puppy followed Judd out the back door.

Award-winning FOR SPARROW
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow