Weekend Excerpt–JUST ONE NIGHT

All she wants is just one night.
Can he convince her that what they’ve found is worth more?

JUST ONE NIGHT is my naughty little summer novella. It was originally written to be part of an anthology that never materialized. So I released it by its lonesome a couple of years ago.

Teacher Katie Parker is ready to get away from it all. She’s on a Caribbean cruise with her best girlfriends from high school for their annual summer girls-only getaway. This year, Katie’s determined to forget about her latest romantic disaster with an anonymous shipboard fling with a handsome stranger.

When the pair meet, Mac Coleman is more than happy to go along with her plan. Only now, can he convince her that what they’ve found is worth more than just one night?

Here’s a steamy little snippet from JUST ONE NIGHT. You’ve been warned. 😉


Dressed in fluffy white bathrobes emblazoned with the crest of the cruise line, Mac and Katie took their glasses out onto the veranda.  The full moon was setting on the horizon as a light tropical breeze ruffled their hair. 
               Mac watched her thoughtfully.  “This is revenge sex, isn’t it?  Somebody did you wrong.”
               Katie returned his gaze but said nothing.
               “I don’t mean to pry.  I know you said no personal information.  But you don’t strike me as the kind of woman who does this kind of thing all the time.”
               She sighed.  “I don’t.  Like I said, this is a ‘one night only’ event.  Besides,” she looked away, “he wouldn’t care anyway.”
               “Then he’s a damn fool.”
               Katie laughed humorlessly.  “Be that as it may…”
               Mac gazed out over the water.  “I haven’t had the best luck myself.  My last relationship ended in a restraining order.”  Katie looked at him sharply.  “I mean, I had to take out a restraining order after I broke up with her and she started stalking me.  I’m moving to get away from her.”
               Unable to resist, Katie blurted her question.  “You’re moving to get away from a woman?”
               “Well, it’s also a good opportunity.  A promotion and a raise and all.  But mostly, I don’t want to have to deal with her anymore.  A new town, a new job…all waiting for me when I get back.”
               Katie sipped her wine thoughtfully.  “I suppose all in all, it worked out for you.
               “I suppose.”  They stood in companionable silence, appreciating the soft Caribbean breeze caressing their faces and the quiet rumble of the ship’s engines tickling their feet. 
               Mac turned to Katie.  “I’m wondering if there’s any chance of us getting together tomorrow night.”
               She smiled sadly.  “That would be breaking the rules.  Just one night, remember?”
               “You sort of have this school teacher thing about rules, don’t you?”
               Again, Katie looked at him sharply and didn’t respond.
               Mac reached to grasp a lock of her red hair and twisted it around his finger.  “Well, seeing as how we have just this one night, I’d like very much to take you back to bed and make love to you one more time.”
               Back inside the cabin, he gently helped her off with her robe and into bed, before dropping his own and climbing in beside her.  Head propped on one elbow, he gazed down at her, lightly tracing his finger along her body.  “You’re so pretty,” he murmured, leaning down to capture her lips with his own.  Katie responded, wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders, kissing him passionately.
               In contrast to their earlier frenzied and frenetic fucking, this time was unhurried and deliberate.  Mac placed himself between her legs, nudging them further apart with his own, and he held himself over her.  Katie gripped his shoulders as he slid himself home, fresh condom in place, and began pumping himself slowly in and out of her battered sex.  The pair kept their eyes locked on each other as once again, their moments built, Katie raising her knees to allow him to penetrate her as deeply as possible.  She shattered as she came this time, crying out unintelligibly and he followed after her, pausing to plant a chaste kiss on her lips before collapsing on the bed beside her.
               Mac wrapped his arm around her and Katie rested her head on his broad chest, toying lightly with the smattering of hair there.  He gently brushed his lips against her temple.  “So what are you doing tomorrow in the Caymans?  Today in the Caymans?”  He glanced at the bedside clock.
               Katie raised her head and gave him a cautious look.
               He rolled his eyes.  “I didn’t mean…  I just meant…”  He sighed.  “My brothers and I are scuba diving.  I just wondered if you were diving, too.”
               She rested her chin on his chest and shook her head.  “I’ve always wanted to dive but I’ve never gotten certified.” 
               “You should.  You’d love it.”
               She watched him for a moment and sighed.  “We’re going to Stingray City.  Jayma’s pick.  I think it sounds touristy.  Like we might as well wear fanny packs and dark socks with sandals.  Put streaks of zinc oxide on our noses.”
               Mac chuckled.  “It’s not so bad.  And the stingrays are cool.”
               “So you’ve been there before.”
               This time Mac smiled enigmatically and didn’t answer.  Katie grinned ruefully.  “Touché.”  She gently pressed her lips to his chest.  The light hair tickled her nose.
               Looking back up at him, she sighed again.  “I should probably be going.”
               “You could stay.  Sleep here.”  His eyes were hopeful.
               Katie shook her head sadly.  “No, I should go.”
               She retrieved her dress and stepped into it, sliding the straps over her shoulders.  She picked up the remnants of the black lace panties and dropped them in the trash.
               “Sorry about the panties,” he said, grinning.
               “I’m not.”  She matched his grin.
               Mac reached for his robe and stopped.  “I’ll walk you to your cabin.  Just let me get dressed.”
               “No, that’s okay, I’ve got it.”
               Reluctantly, he walked her to the door, shrugging into the robe and tying the belt as he did. 
               Katie paused, her hand on the door handle.  “Tonight was…amazing.  Just what I needed.  Thank you.”
               “Amazing.  And then some.  It was my pleasure.”  Mac leaned down to kiss her gently.
               “Well,” she paused in the doorway, “good night.”
               She headed down the passageway and stopped, turning.  “Hey, you!”
               Mac grinned broadly.  “What?”
               Katie looked faintly alarmed.  “Be careful.  Diving, I mean.  Please be careful.”
               He smiled confidently.  “Always.  Good night, beautiful.”

JUST ONE NIGHT by Pandora Spocks

JUST ONE NIGHT
is available at your favorite online bookseller,
and it’s 99¢ every day.
books2read.com/JustOneNight

Weekend Excerpt–RANSOMING REDEMPTION, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 3

Rannigan’s Redemption…
It’s not going where you think it is.

This weekend excerpt comes from the third and final book of the Rannigan’s Redemption series, RANSOMING REDEMPTION.

By this time in their story, Michael and Maggie have known each other for the better part of ten years. And although Michael has treated her the way he’s treated everyone else in his life, Maggie has chosen to stand by his side through the most daunting challenge he’s ever faced.

The fact that he owes her isn’t lost on Michael. So he begins to create a plan to repay her kindness. Maggie is the most selfless person he’s ever met. She’s content to make do with what she has while she makes sure Michael is alright.

In Book 2, RUNNING ROGUE, Michael seems to have been successful in making sure Maggie at least gives retired baseball legend Bobby Beaulieu a chance.

But he wonders…is that enough to gain redemption for all the wrong he’s done over the years? Is there more he could do?

So he sets a scheme into motion.

This snippet is from RANSOMING REDEMPTION.

Standing in the empty parlor three steps down from the entry, Maggie’s gaze traveled from the intricately designed hardwood floors to the crisp white crown molding, halting in amazement on the ornate stone federalist fireplace.  Winnie was giving a running narrative though Maggie only half heard her.  “Now you’ll notice lots of original details throughout this property.”
            “When was this house built?” Michael asked. 
            “Got to be late 1800s,” Maggie murmured thoughtfully.
            “1890 to be precise,” said Winnie sounding pleased.  “You know your architecture.  It’s believed that it was originally built to be the home of a gentleman’s mistress.  He set her up in grand style.”
            Maggie giggled.  “Ooh, how scandalous!  What an interesting history.”  She walked the perimeter of the room.  “Michael, do you see the wood inlay in the floor all around the edge?” she asked, stooping to lightly caress the design.  “This is just exquisite.”
            She turned to Michael suddenly.  “You’re not seriously considering moving?”
            He shook his head.  “Nah, this would be an investment.  I wanted your opinion on the place, though.”  Crossing to a bay window that overlooked the sidewalk and street, he sank onto the seat and put his oxygen back in.  “How about you look it over for me and see what you think.”
            Winnie nodded.  “If you go on back, you’ll see they’ve upgraded the kitchen while keeping the original style of the place intact.”
            Maggie continued down the hallway past a formal dining room and into the kitchen.  As Winnie had said, it was spacious and open, boasting high-end stainless-steel appliances and stone counter tops, but nothing overpowered the original stone floor and fireplace.  At the end of the room was a space for a breakfast table and beyond that, tall vintage French doors. 
            “Oh, Michael, there’s a yard back here,” she called, letting herself out into a small gravel courtyard dominated by a huge old oak tree and edged by landscaping beds.  There are probably tulip and daffodil bulbs that pop up in the spring, Maggie mused.  The brick walls of the garden were covered with ivy. 
            She returned to the parlor.  “Michael, this is absolutely amazing.”
            “You like it, then?” he asked, seeming pleased.
            “It’s beautiful.  Maybe you should think about moving,” she said.
            “You haven’t seen the upstairs yet,” Winnie reminded her.  “This house has four bedrooms and four and a half baths.  The master suite takes up the entire second floor.  Two bedrooms are on the third floor, and there’s a smaller attic bedroom at the top.  Oh, and the basement is finished.  It’s perfect for a home office or a gym.”
            Maggie had just started up the stairs when Michael called from the window seat.  “Hey, Mags?  Do you have a couple of dollars?”
            “A couple of dollars?”
            “Yeah.  I want to buy a newspaper.”
            “Michael, I’ll buy you a paper on the way home.”
            “There’s a little store on the corner,” he hooked his thumb toward the window, “I just forgot my wallet.  Can you loan me some money?”
            Maggie returned to the living room.  “Oh, for fu-,” she glanced at Winnie, “I mean, for Pete’s sake,” she muttered as she dug though her purse.  “Here’s five bucks.  Honestly, I would be happy to get your paper when we’re finished here.”
            Michael flashed his best grin.  “Thanks, Mags.  By the way, can you sign as a witness?  I’ve decided to buy the house.”
            Maggie frowned at the document in his hand.  “We haven’t even looked at the rest of it yet.”
            “I’ve seen the pictures.  And judging by the way you like this floor, I’m thinking this is a good deal.”
            She took the document from him, her brow furrowed in thought. 
            “Maggie, wait until you see the claw foot tubs in the bathrooms,” Winnie said.  “And they’ve maintained the vintage tile on the floors and walls.”  Maggie looked up from the contract.
            “Just sign below me, Mags,” Michael said, pointing to the line.  Distractedly, she took the pen from him and quickly signed her name as Winnie continued talking.
            “And the master suite has its own original fireplace similar to the one down here.  Let me show you.”
            Taking one last look at Michael, Maggie dutifully followed the realtor up the stairs.  Michael smiled smugly to himself.
            On the ride back to the east side, Maggie couldn’t stop talking about the house.  “Michael, it’s an amazing find.  A townhouse from the 1890s in such pristine condition?  It’s absolutely beautiful.”  She looked at him sharply.  “What about your newspaper?”
            Michael waved dismissively.  “Oh, I changed my mind.”
            Maggie shook her head.  “Unbelievable.  And I can’t get over you making an appointment to buy a house on Christmas Eve.  Who does that?”

RANSOMING REDEMPTION by Pandora Spocks

RANSOMING REDEMPTION is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RansomingRedemption

But you’ll want to start at the beginning.
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 2

It’s not going where you think it is…

Rannigan’s Redemption is a contemporary erotic romance law drama. It’s the story of high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and his complicated relationship with Maggie Flynn, the new law school grad he hires to join his elite firm.

This excerpt comes from Book 2, RUNNING ROGUE. In the second book, things have changed. Michael and Maggie have gone their separate ways, and they’re each making questionable choices, both professionally and personally.

Here’s a teaser. **Warning–Spoilers abound.**

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.”
            Michael smiled thinly.  “I’ve missed your smartass.  I’d be so glad to have you with me.”
            Maggie nodded.  “Done.  But if for some reason I’m running late, you go on in.  I’ll be there.  I promise.”  She took his plate and warmed it in the microwave before placing it in front of him again.  “Now finish this up.  I’m calling you a cab and sending you on your way.”

RUNNING ROGUE by Pandora Spocks

RUNNING ROGUE is available at Amazon.
You can also purchase the entire
Rannigan’s Redemption Boxed set.

Exclusively for Apple readers…

Rannigan’s Redemption is available at Apple Books under the titles
TEMPTATION, DESPERATION, and REDEMPTION.
Book 1 is even FREE!
Get yours today!

Weekend Excerpt–Just One Night

Hot Caribbean days…Even hotter nights!

Are you ready for summer? Long, hot, lazy days. Vacations to a tropical paradise.
What if you could go on holiday without ever leaving home?

JUST ONE NIGHT is my naughty little summer novella. It’s the ultimate beach read, but you can read it anywhere.

Teacher Katie Parker is on her annual Girls’ Only summer holiday with her best friends from high school. This year, they’re cruising the Caribbean in style. But Katie is on a mission. Determined to forget about her latest romantic disaster, she’s looking for a hot guy for a night of passion with a nameless stranger.

Mac Coleman, cruising to Mexico for his brother’s wedding, is only too happy to go along with her plan. But now, can Mac convince Katie that what they’ve found together is worth more than just one night?

Here’s a teaser from JUST ONE NIGHT.


By the time Mac made it to the door of the dining room, the redhead had disappeared.  He glanced to his left and then to his right, trying to guess her more likely route.  The woman at the photo checkout cleared her throat discreetly and he looked in her direction.  She nodded meaningfully to her right and smiled. 
               He grinned at her wholeheartedly.  “Thanks!” he proffered as he hurried off in the direction the clerk had indicated.  Mac made his way through the door that opened onto the deck and he saw her leaning against the railing, looking out over the dark water.  Her skirt ruffled lightly in the breeze and the full moon overhead gave her hair a fire-like glow. 
               Ignoring the slight case of nerves he felt, he approached the railing, stopping by her left elbow.  “Hey, you,” he said casually.
               She startled slightly, whipping her head to her left, eyes wide.
               “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.  I just saw you standing here and I thought I’d say hello.”  He held his hands in front of himself in surrender, pasting on what he hoped was a charming smile. 
               The redhead continued to stare at him wordlessly.  “I don’t mean to bother you.  I can go if you’d like.”
               She shook her head.  “No, I don’t want you to go.  I was just surprised, that’s all.”
               Mac smiled gratefully.  “Well, it’s a beautiful night.  And dinner was fantastic.  I don’t know about you, but I had the lobster and it was amazing.”
               She smiled back.  “I had the mahi and it was delicious.”
               They stood awkwardly for a moment.  “Listen, would you like to get a drink or something?” Mac offered.
               She looked out at the water, then back at him, nodding.  “I’d like that a lot.”
               His grin was genuine.  “Good.  Great.  Let’s go find a drink.”
                                                                                                 
***
 
     The pair parked themselves at a tiny table at the edge of the piano bar, the first place they’d come to in their search for a cocktail.  Katie watched him as he approached the bar and ordered for them.  She couldn’t get over how handsome he was, how he’d come outside looking for her.  This was exactly what she needed to take her mind off of her man problems back home. 
   She smiled up at him as he returned to their table carrying a margarita for her and a Scotch for himself.  “Cheers,” he said, raising his glass to hers.
     “Cheers,” she murmured in return, and she sipped gratefully, counting on the liquid courage her glass offered.
     “You know, we’ve gone about this all backwards.”  He rested his drink on the table and offered his right hand.  “My name is—“
     “No!  No names,” Katie quickly interrupted.
     Mac blinked in surprise.  “No names.  Why no names?”
     “Just…because,” she stammered.  “No names, no personal information, we’ll just…keep it casual.”
     “Keep it casual.”  Mac frowned.  “Okay.”  He gave her a curious look.  “Do you want me to leave?”
     She shook her head, red curls swinging.  “No, I’d like you to stay.”
     He gave a relieved smile.  “Good, because I’d like to stay.  So…no personal information.  Do you want to talk about work?”
     “Oh, hell no!”
     “Um, how about that weather?  That’s some pretty great weather out there tonight.”
     Katie laughed lightly.  “I don’t mean to be a pain.”
     Mac smiled back.  “You’re not a pain, exactly.  I just have to figure out the rules.  And you’re here with three other women?”
     “You could see that in the dining room.  Where you were staring,” Katie observed.
     “You know that because you were staring back,” he countered.
     “And you’re here with two other men.”
     Mac nodded.  “My brothers.  Oops!  Was that personal?”
     “Now you’re making fun.”
     He smiled ruefully.  “Maybe just a little bit.  This is kind of a bachelor party.  My kid brother is getting married.”
     “A bachelor party?”  Katie laughed lightly.  “Shouldn’t you be getting back to the debauchery?”
     Mac laughed.  “Not much debauchery with those two.  My older brother’s been married for years and Tommy’s head over heels for his fiancée.”  He glanced up at Katie.  “Oops!  More personal information.”
     Katie sighed and sipped her drink.  “My friends and I get together for a week every summer.  We’ve known each other since high school.”
     “There now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
     Katie nodded firmly.  “We’re even, that’s all.”  She rested her forearm on the table and toyed with her glass.  Mac did the same, and as he did, his arm brushed against hers.  She made no effort to move away from him.  He intentionally rested his arm against hers, noting the electric charge he felt, wondering if she felt it, too.
     Glancing up, he saw that she was watching him intently.  “So…you don’t want any personal information.  You don’t want to talk about work.  You don’t want me to leave.”
     Katie shook her head.
     “Okay, well we’ve got that settled.  What do you want?”  He watched her expectantly.
     She stared at her glass as she swirled the remainder of her margarita.  Her buzz from the dinner wine combined with the icy cocktail made her feel bold.  She looked back up at Mac. 
                    “Do you really want to know what I want?  I want just one night.  Just one night of anonymous, no-holds-barred, red-hot, no-strings-attached sex.  That’s what I want.”  She fixed him with a challenging stare.
     “Whoa,” he breathed, eyes wide.
     Katie looked down at her glass again.  “Too blunt?”
     Mac leaned back in his chair, lips forming an O.  “That was blunt, all right, but I can respect that.  I’ve gotta ask, though.”  He sought out her eyes.  “Is there some guy at home waiting for you to come back?”
     Katie shook her head.  “I’m not cheating on anybody.  You?”
     He shook his head, too, and laughed humorlessly.  “What was it you said earlier?  Oh, hell no.”
     She lightly stroked his arm as it rested on the table, delighting in the goose bumps that appeared there.  Her gaze traveled from there to his lap, which seemed to be taking an interest in the proceedings if the growing mound there was any indication.  She shifted her focus, sliding her gaze up his torso to those lips she’d noticed earlier.  God, I just want to suck on that lower lip.
     She met his eyes again, saw the fire there, and knew it matched her own.  “So what do you say?”
     “I say, have another margarita.  I just need to run to the little shop and pick up some…  Well, I didn’t actually expect that I’d need…”  He smiled apologetically.
     Her voice was soft.  “I’ll wait right here.”
     He took her hand and gently brushed his lips across her knuckles, gave her a wink, and left the bar. 

JUST ONE NIGHT by Pandora Spocks

JUST ONE NIGHT
is just 99¢ at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/JustOneNight

Weekend Excerpt–Redheads & Ranchers Book 2

HUNTER’S PRIDE

HUNTER’S PRIDE is the second stand-alone novel in the Redheads & Ranchers Series. It’s the follow-up to 5-STAR reviewed JENNY’S VOICE.

Like my Dream Dominant Collection, the Redheads & Ranchers books are completely unrelated to each other–they’re stand-alone.

Sometimes readers leave negative reviews because they assumed the books in the series continue the same storyline. I try to be clear that the thread that connects these books is that they are each about a hot rancher and the sexy redhead who comes along and changes everything.

Unlike the Dream Dominants, the Redheads & Ranchers fall into my ‘spicy vanilla’ category–all of the heat without the BDSM power exchange.

Here’s a brand-new teaser from HUNTER’S PRIDE.
Warning: It’s 18+.


Just as she dropped another log on the growing fire, the front door banged open, startling her.  Hunter, dripping wet, stood in the doorway stomping to remove mud from his boots. Poppy clutched her blanket around herself and hurried over, offering him the other blanket.  He handed her his hat, which she hung beside her own as he pulled off his boots and left them outside the door.

“Hurry and come in,” she told him.  “I have a blanket for you, and the fire’s getting warmer.”

Another bolt of lightning illuminated the whole place as its simultaneous deafening thunder shook the whole cabin, causing them both to cringe.  Hunter stepped inside, and Poppy pushed the door closed while he peeled off his soaked undershirt and hung it on a vacant peg. Poppy opened up his blanket and stood on her tiptoes to place it around his shoulders.

He looked over his shoulder gratefully.  “Thanks.”

She grabbed his elbow as he drew the blanket around himself.  “Come on, come by the fire.” She dragged him to the front of the fireplace where the air was much warmer than it was by the door.

“How are the horses,” she asked him.

He nodded shakily, eyes locked on the fire in the fireplace.  “Al-alright,” he chattered. “I d-dried them best I c-could, threw blankets over them.”

Clutching the blanket around himself with his right hand, he held his left as close to the fire as he could without actually touching the flames.

Poppy watched as he shivered uncontrollably.  Impulsively, she wrapped her blanket around him, then ducked under his arm, pressing herself against his bare skin, wrapping her arms around his waist.  His skin felt cold to the touch, and she rubbed her hands up and down his back in an effort to warm him.

Grasping both blankets, Hunter closed his arms around her, tucking her beneath his chin and holding her tightly.  They stood in silence while the storm raged outside, all but drowning out the crackle of the fire in the fireplace.

With her face pressed against his bare chest, Poppy inhaled the familiar masculine spice she’d noticed while wearing Hunter’s shirt.  As she pressed her lips to his skin, she felt his sharp intake of breath. She did it again, pressing her body more tightly against his, feeling the burgeoning erection trapped by his soaked jeans.

When she kissed him a third time, a low growl rumbled up from his chest and she peered up at him.  His eyes were all heat and desire, and she knew hers were the same. She slid her hands up his chest and around to the back of his neck while at the same time pushing up on her tiptoes to capture his lips in hers.  She’d been buzzed the previous night, but she was completely sober now. And she wanted him.

As she deepened the kiss, he released his grip on the blankets and slid his hands down her back, cupping her ass and lifting her up.  She wrapped her legs around his waist without breaking the kiss. Tongues tangled, and Hunter slid his hands up her back, stopping at the band of her bra which he expertly unhooked.  Lips still on his, she shrugged off the straps, not caring where the garment fell.

Slowly, he walked them the four steps to the bed, where he leaned down to lay her on top of the covers, for the first time breaking their kiss to straighten up and gaze down at her.  Poppy met his heated stare, raising her arms above her head and resting them there.

“Hot damn,” he breathed, leaning down to take one pert pink nipple between his lips.  Poppy closed her eyes as a soft moan escaped her lips, delighting in the fact that he paid her other breast the same attention.  Then he kissed his way down her belly, a sensual mixture of soft kisses and scratchy beard, until he came to the waistband of her jeans.

He looked back up at her and lifted an eyebrow in an unspoken question.  She nodded, and a lazy smile curled her lips as he deftly undid her rain-soaked jeans and in one motion, removed them and her panties as well.

Dropping them in the general direction of the fireplace, he returned his attention to her, devouring her with a hungry gaze.  Poppy pushed herself up on one elbow and watched as he unbuckled that silver oval belt buckle and slowly shucked his jeans. As he pushed them down his thighs, his massive cock bobbed into view.  She chewed her lower lip in anticipation.

Jeans discarded, Hunter crawled up the bed between her legs.  For a moment, he held himself over her, and she watched the fire rage in his eyes.  Then he lowered his head to press his lips to hers, hungrily consuming her.

She responded with fervor of her own, her core aching to have him inside.  His cock pressed into her thigh and she shifted slightly, urging him home.

“Poppy.”  Breathless, he released her lips.  “I don’t have a…”

She met his hooded eyes.  “I don’t care. Do you care?”

A slow smile graced his lips as he shook his head.  “No. I don’t care.”

“Then please,” she whispered.

It was all the encouragement he needed.  He captured her lips once again as parked his tip at her entrance.  Slowly, he pushed forward and Poppy gasped lightly as he continued until he’d buried himself to the root.  “Oh, yes,” she murmured into his ear.

He drew back, then pushed forward again.  This time Poppy drew up her knees, willing him to go as far as he could.  Hunter wrapped his arms around her, burying his face in her neck and nipping at her as he thrust faster.

It had been long, so long, since she’d had a man fill her so completely, so perfectly.

“Oh, shi—” Poppy hissed as her moment built.  “Harder.”

“Harder, the lady says,” he grunted.  “I’m happy to comply.” With that he pushed up, supporting himself over her as he pounded into her wet core.

“Oh, shit, I’m there,” she cried as her orgasm thundered over her, a thousand sparks dancing behind her eyelids.

Hunter gave a final thrust and held himself still, grunting his release.

After a moment, he released a shaky breath and leaned down to kiss her tenderly.  Then he carefully disengaged himself and lay beside her, drawing the blankets over them and pulling her to himself.

“That was a bit of something,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to her temple.

“Mm-hmm,” she sighed, curling into his warm embrace.

Breathing in unison, they lay in their warm cocoon of blankets listening to the rain on the roof and the rolling thunder that continued to rumble through the mountains.

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

I’m planning a June launch for HUNTER’S PRIDE, with the third Redheads & Ranchers book due out in October.

For now, if you missed JENNY’S VOICE,
this would be a great time to catch up.
It’s available at your favorite online bookseller,
including (and this is new) Google Play!
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

What happens when you assume…

Poppy P.K. Chastain, a bright young lawyer with a new MBA, is sent by her international real estate development company in New York City to the ranchlands of Idaho to strike a deal with 5th generation cattle rancher Hunter McFall.

Slade & Howell needs land to build an access road to the mountain property they’re turning into a luxury guest resort. And a little slice of McFall Ranch is exactly what they’re looking for.

Too bad Hunter has no intention of selling. As he’s said in reply to the half-dozen letters and emails the company has sent him. He’s agreed to a meeting with this city lawyer P.K. Chastain. But as soon as he’s told the fellow no, he hopes that will be the end of it.

Turns out, it’s just the beginning.

Here’s the first chapter of HUNTER’S PRIDE.


Hunter McFall squinted his hazel eyes at the dust trail on the horizon and shook his head in annoyance.  He didn’t have time for this. He had 1,500 head of cattle that needed moving to new pasture.

Not that it made this day any different from any other day.  Cattle need to be rotated to fresh grazing land. The herd had spent the last week down on the flood plain beside the bend of Deer Creek.  Today he wanted them moved into the foothills.

But he had Rolly Stevens to head up moving the beeves.  Rolly had been with the McFalls since before Hunter ever sat on a horse.  And the younger hands listened to the old man, respected him.

And if Hunter was honest with himself, he didn’t mind a day off the trail too badly.  Except he wasn’t looking forward to this appointment.

The dust trail was closer now.  Hunter sighed deeply and nudged the bay beneath him, gently pulling the reins to the right.

“Let’s go, Cheyenne,” he muttered.  The horse tossed her head and turned to the right, heading back toward the house.

P.K. Chastain.  Just the name irritated him.  The notion of a grown man going by his initials struck him as pretentious as fuck.  The fact that P.K. Chastain was a lawyer representing Slade & Howell didn’t engender him to Hunter anymore than his name did.

He’d received the letters and emails from this Chastain fellow, the ones making all kinds of shiny promises on behalf of Slade & Howell.  But Hunter didn’t care. He wasn’t interested in selling any McFall land to some developer who wanted to build a mountain resort. Keep that shit over by Sun Valley if that’s what you had in mind.

Here in Deer Creek Valley and the Boxroot Mountains, McFalls had raised cattle for five generations, and by God, he intended to continue the family legacy until his last breath.

A vehicle came around the bend just as Hunter loosely wrapped Cheyenne’s reins around a rail in the shade of a large cottonwood.  From beneath his wide-brimmed hat, he glowered at the silver Range Rover as it pulled to a stop along the side of the gravel drive.  City people always fancied themselves rugged outdoorsmen when they came out to this neck of Idaho. Yet another reason he wasn’t interested in having a luxury resort anywhere near McFall.

He set his mouth in a firm line and walked toward the SUV.  The driver’s door opened, and a shiny black high-heeled pump emerged, followed by a shapely calf.  Surprised, Hunter stopped, watching as a petite redhead stepped out of the car. Her hair was done up in one of those fancy, efficient updos with a few loose wisps around her face, which was obscured by large designer sunglasses.  Hunter’s eyes zeroed in on sensuously shaped ruby-red lips.

The woman leaned back into the SUV, affording Hunter a view of a nicely rounded ass, neatly packaged in a black pencil skirt.  She emerged a moment later holding a tan leather satchel. Closing the car door, she marched toward him.

“Mr. McFall?”  She stuck out a well-manicured hand, her nails painted the same red as her lips.  “I’m P.K. Chastain. We’ve emailed back and forth?”

Slowly, Hunter reached out and took her tiny hand in his own, suddenly aware of how rough and calloused ranch work made them.

You’re P.K. Chastain?”

The redhead tilted her head and removed the sunglasses, revealing deep chestnut eyes in a shade he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen before.  “You were expecting a man, I suppose.” Her tone was defensive.

“I guess when I heard that a lawyer was coming out here, I just assumed.”

P.K. Chastain narrowed her eyes at him.  “Maybe the news didn’t make it this far out in the boondocks,” she said, one hand holding the satchel, the other a fist on her hip.  “But it’s the 21st century now.  Women get to vote and everything.”

Hunter suppressed a grin, his mustache shifting with the effort.  “Seems I heard tell about something like that,” he drawled for effect.  “Maybe it was the fact that you go by your initials. What does P.K. stand for, anyway?”

He watched her cheeks color slightly as the woman squared her shoulders.  “That’s neither here nor there. Is there someplace we can sit and discuss the generous offer being made to you by Slade & Howell?”

He pursed his lips and watched her for moment.  Then he nodded. “We can meet in my office.” He gestured toward the huge log home that had been in his family for generations.  When he’d been a boy, his grandfather had added an extension to the north end of the house, creating an office from which to run ranch business.

“If we’re going to have a business, my boy, we’d better treat it like one,” the elder Hunter McFall had told his young namesake.

That Hunter McFall had been the first of his family to attend college, and his son and grandson had followed in his footsteps.  They’d taken what had been a rough and tumble ranch and turned it into a successful cattle business, acquiring extra acreage along the way as some of their neighbors failed to keep up with the times.

P.K. Chastain, leather satchel in hand, clipped purposefully across the gravel drive and up the steps to the covered porch that ran the length of the front of the house and around the southern end.  Hunter followed along behind, amused by the turn of events.

At the door, she stopped, allowing him to open it and usher her inside.  Just inside the door, he paused to hang his black felt hat on a rack beside the door.  His mother had always been firm: “No hats in the house.” He supposed that extended to the office as well.

Hunter imagined he could see the office from his guest’s point of view as he inhaled the familiar scent of leather and wood.  Behind the huge reclaimed wood desk, antique branding irons hung in a row from an old board on the wall above a barnwood credenza.  Opposite the desk were a pair of leather wingback chairs. The chairs matched twin oxblood leather chesterfield couches that flanked an antique trunk turned coffee table in the center of the room.

On the opposite end from his desk sat a long wood conference table surrounded by leather club chairs.  Western art from his grandfather’s collection accented the walls and the entire space was crowned by an enormous iron chandelier hung from the peaked roof.

The lawyer glanced around appreciatively.  “It’s lovely,” she murmured.

Hunter nodded.  “Thank you. The original cabin is over a hundred years old, but it’s been added to over the years.  My grandfather added this office extension when he took over the business over forty years ago.”

“Lovely,” she repeated.  She gestured with her satchel.  “Where would you like me to set up?”

Set up?

He shrugged slightly.  “Anywhere you’re most comfortable is fine.”
He watched as the woman’s gaze flitted all around the room before it settled on the conference table.

“That looks good,” she said, and moved in that direction, her high heels clipping against the wide plank floor.

She placed the satchel on the table and opened it, rooting around until she found what she was looking for.  She handed Hunter a glossy-covered booklet, a gorgeous shot of the Boxroot Mountains gracing the front with Boxroot Mountain Resort declared in bold, rustic letters blazing across the cover.
“Please, have a seat,” she gestured to the chair at the head of the table.

Hunter suppressed a smirk at the city woman telling him where to sit in his own office.  Curious to see where this was all leading, he sank into the chair and watched as she dug into the bag once again.

“If you’d like to flip through the prospectus while I get my presentation ready,” she said.  “I won’t be long.” She looked up at him. “You do have wi-fi?”

He nodded.  “Yes, ma’am,” he drawled.  “All the way out here in the boondocks, we have wi-fi and the interwebs.  Why, hell, we even have the dot com.”

She paused her movements to purse her lips at him.  Then she went back to her digging, tucking a few stray red hairs behind her left ear.  From her bag, she extracted a small black cube about the size of a baseball. This she set up on a small tripod on the table, then she went back to rooting around in the satchel.

Hunter tried unsuccessfully to avoid staring at the way her wispy white blouse gapped in the front every time she leaned over the bag.  Ms. Chastain had stellar cleavage. That paired with the nicely rounded ass he’d appreciated outside made her an intriguing distraction from the ordinary.

He didn’t look over the prospectus.  He didn’t need to. He wasn’t interested in selling.  But he’d hear her out. It beat the hell out of rounding up reluctant Herefords.

“Okay.”  She gave him an efficient nod.  “Now that you’ve had a chance to look over the prospectus, let’s get started.”  She pointed a small remote at the black cube on the tripod, and the blank wall at the end of the table lit up with the same image as the one on the booklet in his hands.

“First, let me say thank you for agreeing to meet with me.  I think that by the time we’re finished here today, we’ll have come to an agreement that’s beneficial both to McFall Ranch and to Slade & Howell.”

She picked up her tablet and clicked something.  The image on the wall changed to an animation of a high-end mountain resort, complete with computer-generated people moving in eerily jerky motions in front of a fancy lodge.  As Hunter watched, the scene morphed through four seasons of rustic Idaho.

The lawyer spent the next twenty minutes extolling the virtues of Slade & Howell’s vision of Boxroot Mountain Resort.  Between skiing in the winter and fly fishing in the summer, it would be the ultimate year-round vacation destination this side of the Mississippi River.  It would bring untold revenue to the tiny town of McFall. Resort construction would benefit the existing infrastructure of the entire Deer Creek Valley area.

By the time she was finished the final slide, she was out of breath.  She turned to Hunter.

“Mr. McFall, I am authorized to offer you an amazing compensation package.  If you’ll turn to page 36 of the prospectus…” She stopped, waiting for him to flip through the booklet.

Reluctantly, Hunter found the page she indicated.

“I think you’ll find the offer immensely satisfying.”

Starting at the top, he skimmed down to the number on the bottom line.  He felt his eyes widen before he restored his poker face. He glanced up at the woman who was watching him closely.

She smiled at him confidently.  “And all of that for just the 2,000 acres we’ll need to build the access road.”

Hunter shook his head, swiping his lips with his hand.  It was an obscene amount of money. But that was beside the point.  He had no intention of selling any McFall land. It wasn’t about the money.

He closed the booklet and held it out to her.  “It’s a generous offer. But like I wrote in my emails, the land isn’t for sale.  I’m sorry you wasted your time coming all the way out here.”

She made no move to take the booklet from him.  “You keep that. And take some time to consider the offer.  Obviously, we don’t expect you to make up your mind right away.  It’s a big decision.” She started to pack down her electronics. “I’ll be in McFall until the end of the week.  At the very least, sleep on it. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have, or to clarify anything related to the offer.”

With her satchel repacked, she headed toward the door.  Again, Hunter followed along, enjoying the view.

Outside, the lawyer glanced around, taking in the wide-open pastures and the green forests beyond.  “This really is a beautiful place. I can see why Slade & Howell chose it for their next resort.”

Hunter nodded.  “I suppose. But to me, it’s just home.  And I’d like to keep it that way. An access road across my property is going in the wrong direction.”
Hands in the pockets of his Wranglers, he ambled in the direction of the barn.  Ms. Chastain followed.

“But Mr. McFall, you have sixty thousand acres.”  At his surprised look, she forged ahead. “It’s public record.  Anyway, would 2,000 acres make such a huge difference in the grand scheme of things?”

She walked past him and turned around.  “Think of what you could do with the money.”  She took a step toward him, then looked down, her face twisting into a scowl.  “Oh, for f– Well, shit!”

Hunter followed her gaze.  Ms. Chastain’s right foot was smack in the center of a fresh cow pie.

He couldn’t stop the grin.  “Yes, ma’am, that is indeed shit.”

She nodded angrily.  “Yeah, that’s just hilarious.  These are fucking Jimmy Choos!”  Carefully, she stepped forward. Nearly half the cowpile came with her.  “Shit!”

“Here, let me help you,” Hunter laughed.  He squatted down and gently gripped her calf, lifting her foot much like he would a horse’s.  P.K. Chastain teetered on her left foot before she rested her hand on his shoulder to stabilize herself.  Hunter removed her shoe, revealing a neat pedicure in the same shade as the fingernails and the lips.

“I can clean that up for you,” he told her.  He straightened up and helped her hop to a barrel sitting outside the barn.  Setting down the soiled shoe, he placed his hands on her waist and gently lifted her onto the barrel.  Then he retrieved the shoe. “Won’t take me a second.”

Leather satchel on her lap, the lawyer sat sheepishly on the barrel as Hunter used a rasp to scrape the offending mess from the bottom of the high heeled shoe.  To finish the job, wiped it carefully with the baby wipes he used to groom the horses. When the shoe was nice and clean, he carried it back to her.

She cautiously sniffed it, and Hunter suppressed an amused smile.
“It’s a cattle ranch, Ms. Chastain.  Shit happens.”

“I can see that.”

He took the shoe back from her and gently placed it on her foot before he lifted her down from the barrel.

Feet firmly on clean ground, she straightened her black skirt self-consciously.

 “My apologies for my unprofessional language,” she said, cheeks coloring slightly.  “It’s been a long day. It took me two planes to get from New York to Sun Valley, then it was a two-hour drive from there to McFall, plus an extra half-hour to your ranch.”

Hunter nodded.  “No apologies necessary.  I’ve been known to use colorful language myself.”

He walked her to the Range Rover.  “Are you staying in McFall?”

She opened the car door and dropped her bag on the passenger seat.  “I’m staying at the hotel downtown.”

Again, Hunter found himself suppressing a grin.  The words hotel and downtown were the most generous he’d ever heard to describe the Deer Valley Motor Lodge and the one-stoplight center of McFall.  He wondered if Ms. Chastain had actually seen the motel before she’d booked a room there.  Not that there was any other option short of returning to Sun Valley.

From the driver’s seat, she buzzed down the window.  “Again, thank you for seeing me. I’ll be here until the end of the week.  You have my cell number in the prospectus. And I’ll call you in a couple of days to check in.”

He nodded.  “Yes, ma’am.  But I won’t be changing my mind.”

She smiled confidently.  “At least consider the offer.  I’ll be in touch.”
With that, she buzzed the window back up and headed back down the long drive to the highway.

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE is Book 2 in the Redheads & Ranchers series, a collection of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring strong ranchers and the sexy redheads they can’t resist.

HUNTER’S PRIDE is due out in June.

In the meantime, check out 5-STAR reviewed JENNY’S VOICE,
the first book in the Redheads & Ranchers series.

One-Click JENNY’S VOICE today!
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Weekend Excerpt–Rannigan’s Redemption Book 1

“… The journey of Michael and Maggie will carry you through a gripping narrative of suspense and enticement. The world of defense law surfaces as dark and decadent, driving the main characters to the fringes of heightened intensity. The character motivations are easy to understand, but as the story unravels, highly charged emotions plunge the characters into uncharted territories…” –5-Star Amazon Review

Rannigan’s Redemption is a three-novel epic contemporary steamy law drama. It’s the story of the complicated relationship between slick New York attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart redhead he hired straight out of law school to join his highly specialized 50th-floor practice.

The two are attracted to each other from the beginning, but Maggie realized her crush on Michael is all but hopeless. He prefers shallow liasons to relationships, and she’s too smart to settle for that. Still…

Here’s a teaser from RESISTING RISK, Book 1 of Rannigan’s Redemption.


Michael and Maggie applauded with the rest of the guests following the finale of the fireworks display before returning to the table to collect Ben.  She shivered a bit as they walked.   

“Are you cold?” Michael asked, running a hand down her bare arm.  “You are!”  When they reached the table he removed his suit coat from the back of the chair where he’d left it and draped it over her shoulders.  “Here, that should be better.” 

Maggie pulled the coat around herself and as she did, his scent enveloped her.  “Thanks!  I didn’t realize how chilly it had gotten.” 

Ben was conscious and blinking in confusion.  “Holy God, I thought we were being invaded,” he said.  “Where is everybody?” 

Maggie laughed.  “Yes, we were invaded by aliens and they beamed up everyone except us.  Come on, it’s time to go.  We’ve dodged a bullet.  Michael has kindly offered for us to ride back to the city with him rather than taking the train.” 

Ben cocked his head and looked adoringly at Michael.  “Somehow I knew you were my knight in shining armor.  What, more wine?  Don’t mind if I do,” he cooed, downing a half-full glass that was in front of him. 

“Laying it on a little thick there, chief,” Maggie cautioned quietly, but Michael just laughed. 

“Enjoy some more wine for a few minutes, I’ll call my driver to come to the front,” he said.  He completed his call and poured more wine for himself and Maggie. 

They sat chatting about the fireworks and the music, leaving out their time on the dance floor.  Maggie wasn’t sure how she felt about it.  Being in Michael’s arms had been glorious.  Wearing his coat, surrounded by his seductive scent, the memory of his voice in her ear…  She furtively glanced at him, desire causing her pulse to pound.   She knew that she wanted him.  She also knew that she was a little tipsy and that she might not be making the best decisions.   

“What is your cologne?” she blurted out.  Case in point of reckless decisions, she thought. 

He grinned in amusement.  “It’s Bleu de Chanel.” 

“It’s heavenly,” she said before she could stop herself.  “It’s just that, well, your jacket smells like you, which is good, really.  I mean it’s very nice.” 

“You’re drunk, Mags,” he observed quietly. 

She made a valiant attempt to look at him squarely.  “Maybe just a tiny little bit.” 

Michael checked his phone.  “The car’s out front.  Are we ready?”  Between the two of them, they managed to get Ben to his feet and across the expanse of lawn to the driveway where a medium sized stretch limousine waited, driver holding open the back door for them. 

Wide-eyed, Maggie looked around Ben to Michael.  For his part, Michael looked a little embarrassed.  “Jana likes to ride in a limo,” he shrugged.   

Ben had fallen asleep again and together they maneuvered him into the car, laying him gently onto the black leather couch that ran down the driver’s side of the passenger compartment before they settled back into the plush leather seat at the rear of the car. 

“Traffic is heavier than usual, Mr. Rannigan,” the driver told him.  “The drive may take a couple of hours.” 

“Thank you, Mason.  And thanks for taking care of Ms. Hansen.” 

“Of course, Mr. Rannigan.  Happy to help,” the man replied before closing the door. 

Michael turned to Maggie as the car began moving away from the house.  “Hope you don’t mind a bit of a drive.  I hadn’t counted on traffic.” 

“Please!” Maggie said.  “This beats the hell out of public transportation.  And traffic or no, we’ll still get back before we would have on the train.  Thank you for the ride.” 

He smiled.  “My pleasure,” he said.  And meant it, he was mildly surprised to realize.  Impeccable manners had been instilled in him by the aunt with whom he’d lived after his mother had died.  At the time, he’d resented it, but they had served him well.  On the other hand, he often found himself mouthing words he didn’t mean.  Not this time, he thought to himself. 

“Can I offer you a drink?” he asked, motioning to the bar that was opposite the couch on which Ben lay snoring.  Loudly. 

“There’s bourbon and pink champagne.”  Maggie frowned quizzically.  “Pink champagne is Jana’s favorite,” he elaborated somewhat apologetically. 

“I’ll take bourbon if it’s all the same to you,” Maggie responded, trying not to smirk and hoping that she was successful.  Michael turned over two glasses and began to carefully pour bourbon from a crystal decanter.   

“Boy, renting a stretch limo, stocking it with pink champagne,” she muttered to herself.  “She must be some kind of lay.”  Michael glanced at her, shock registering on his face.  “Shit, was that out loud?” she asked. 

“It was,” he answered, handing her a glass of bourbon as he settled back into the seat.  “And truthfully, she’s not all that.” 

It was Maggie’s turn to look shocked.  Michael gave her a wry smile and clinked his glass to hers.  “To nights that turn out differently from the way you expected.” 

They sipped their bourbon wordlessly, occupied with their own thoughts for a few miles.   

“I know it’s none of my business,” Maggie began. 

“Those words are always followed by a ‘but’,” Michael interjected, shaking his head. 

“BUT,” Maggie continued, “I don’t know how you do that.” 

“Do what?” 

“How do you sleep with someone that you don’t even like?  I could tell from the moment we sat at the table that you didn’t like that girl.” 

“Okay, I don’t want to have in-depth conversations with Jana, but did you see her?  Like I said before, it was just the wrong event for her.  She’s great at Nets games, music awards, things like that.” 

“I just couldn’t sleep with someone that I wasn’t attracted to intellectually, that’s all I’m saying.” 

“Is that what’s wrong with Dan?” he probed, happy to be talking about someone besides Jana. 

“He’s a nice guy.  He’s smart and articulate, and not bad looking,” Maggie conceded.  “I just don’t feel that…spark, that’s all.  If I went out with him it wouldn’t be genuine.” 

“You’re picky,” Michael concluded, shaking his head. 

“I deserve to be,” she said quietly.  “You do too.” 

They passed another few miles in silence. 

“You know,” Maggie said, “I hear Disney’s coming out with a new princess movie soon.  And you could take her out for ice cream after.”  She gave Michael a mischievous look. 

Michael gave a reluctant grin and his eyes sparkled in the lights of passing cars.  “You, Mary Margaret Flynn, are a smart ass.  It’s kind of endearing.” 

She grinned at him.  “You’re welcome!” she teased. 

He poured them both more bourbon.  “In a pain-in-the-ass sort of way.” 

They both laughed. 
*************************
“Mags,” she heard out of the shifting fog.  “We’re back in town.  I need you to tell us where to go.” 

She opened her eyes and realized that she’d been sleeping with her head on Michael’s shoulder.   “Oh, God, I’m so sorry.”  She sat up abruptly.  “I didn’t realize…  I wish you’d awakened me.” 

“No worries.  But we need to know exactly where to take Ben and where your place is.” 

Maggie could see the driver watching her in the rear view mirror.  “My place.  Right.”  She gave the address and the driver thanked her, the partition whooshing back into place.  “Ben can sleep it off on my couch.  It won’t be the first time.” 

The car came to a stop in front of Maggie’s apartment.  “Nice building, Mags.  Is the whole thing yours?” 

She fairly snorted.  “In my dreams!  One day when I’m rich and famous, I’ll have my own brownstone.  For now I’m happy with a tiny part of the second floor.”  She smiled gratefully.  “Thanks again for the ride.  You are a life saver.”  She moved to open the door but the driver was there first. 

“Let me help you get him inside,” Michael offered.  They both glanced at Ben, who hadn’t so much as shifted during the entire ride. 

She looked back at Michael.  “Probably a good idea.  I won’t be able to get him up the stairs by myself.”  They succeeded in rousing Ben enough for him to put his arms around their shoulders and they moved him to the sidewalk. 

Michael spoke quietly to the driver, who nodded before returning to the driver’s seat and slowly driving away.  Maggie looked at him questioningly.  “I told him to find a place to park.  I’ll call him after we get your date settled.” 

They managed the stairs and Michael leaned Ben between himself and the wall as Maggie unlocked the door and let them into her apartment.  “Let’s just lay him on the couch,” she said, cocking her head in the direction of a large grey velvet sofa with navy blue accent pillows.   

They worked together to get the unconscious and snoring Ben safely onto the couch, Michael studiously ignoring the way his jacket gapped open, inviting views of Maggie’s breasts as she leaned over to place a pillow under Ben’s head. 

“Thank you so much, Michael,” she said as she removed his jacket and held it uncertainly.  “Can I offer you a beer or coffee or something?  Or do you need to go?” 

“Coffee sounds good,” he answered. 

Maggie smiled brightly as she gently placed his jacket over the back of a kitchen chair and set about making coffee.  Michael wandered around the living room area to the bay window and looked out over the street.  He turned back around to take in the view of the room.  It was small, of course, but nice in a quirky sort of way.  She’d left on a dim lamp near the window that gave enough light to the space without being intrusive.  “This is a nice place,” he commented. 

She smiled at him from the kitchen counter.  “Thanks.  And again, I really appreciate your giving us a ride.” 

“Mags, you’ve thanked me about a thousand times,” he said gently. 

She blushed slightly.  “Well, I didn’t want to forget,” she said sheepishly. 

He watched her as she worked in the kitchen, measuring out coffee into a French press, putting a kettle of water on the stove, little mundane domestic tasks.  His mind skipped to flashes of her from throughout the night.  Slowly it dawned on him what it was about Maggie that made him uncomfortable. 

She’s real.  She has no hidden agenda.  She isn’t playing some game, she doesn’t want anything from me.  He sighed deeply. She’s the kind of girl who could make you forget your own rules. 

Michael slowly crossed the room and stood by the kitchen counter.  “Can I help with something?” 

“No, it’s all done.  We’re just waiting for the water to boil.”  She leaned back resting her hand on the counter. 

He gently placed his hand on hers.  “You…are very dangerous,” he whispered, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it softly, his deep brown eyes peering into hers.  Her brow furrowed, perplexed. 

Gently, he tilted up her chin with his fingers and leaned down, meeting her lips with his own, lightly at first, and then more urgently.  He ran his other hand down the smooth fabric of the back of her dress coming to rest on her firm ass as he probed her mouth with his tongue, seeking hers.   

Maggie responded, matching the heat of his kiss, reaching up, tangling her fingers in the hair behind his ear, giving herself over to his embrace.  Michael’s hand left her ass and smoothed its way back up to her side, her ribs, stopping just under her breast.  Reluctantly he pulled himself away. 

Maggie breathlessly gazed up at him.  He smiled gently.  “We’re both a little drunk,” he said.  “Which is why I’d better go.”  Tenderly, he kissed her once again and walked out the door. 

RESISTING RISK, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 1 by Pandora Spocks

Start Rannigan’s Redemption at the beginning.
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