Weekend Excerpt–Christmas With the Orphans & Misfits

Michael Rannigan had his life arranged
exactly the way he wanted it.
Meeting Maggie Flynn changed everything
in ways he could never even imagine.

RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION is the three-novel story of high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and his complicated relationship with Maggie Flynn, the new lawyer he hires to join his elite firm.

She’s nothing like the women he dates. She’s way too smart, for one thing. And he prefers blondes, too, the more like Barbie, the better.

But there’s something about this spunky redhead he just can’t get out of his mind.

Maggie knows her crush on Michael is all but hopeless. For now, she’s content to work with him as they defend the rich and famous clients who rely on Michael and his team.

Here’s a holiday teaser from the first book in the trilogy, RESISTING RISK:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe.  But he’s here now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He grinned.  “I like it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How did you know the S stands for Sean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Merry Christmas, Michael.”

RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–Happy Thanksgiving

Petey is Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary.
And everything he ever wanted.
If he doesn’t blow it.

In CHASING ORDINARY, my modern-day adult fairy tale, sculptor Petey Cavanaugh leaves her family’s Montana sheep ranch to go to New York City. Her old art school roommate has arranged a gallery show of some of her best pieces. The goal is to make enough money to take the ranch to the next level.

Nik is in New York on the final leg of a seemingly endless string of business meetings. On a rainy Manhattan night, his and Petey’s worlds collide. The mutual attraction is instant. Only there’s a slight hitch–Petey doesn’t seem to be aware that Nik is Europe’s most eligible prince.

He adores the fact that she sees him as simply a man, not a title or an inheritance. He knows he needs to tell her the truth. But for now, he’s enjoying his first taste of ordinary.

What will happen when she finds out he hasn’t been truthful?

Here’s a snippet from CHASING ORDINARY. I hope you enjoy Nik’s first Thanksgiving.

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

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

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

Cherry’s brow furrowed.  “Hunh?”

Petey laughed.  “We have potatoes and dressing.”

 “Oh.  Come on in.  It’s cold outside.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Aw, dad!”

“We could make it twenty.”

“Geez, I’m going.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–LOST & BOUND

Spoiled Hollywood bad girl Shasta Pyke
is used to getting her own way.
She’s met her match in
Dominant mountain man Blake Walker.

LOST & BOUND, Dream Dominant Book 2, is special to me for several reasons. For one thing, Blake Walker is my first literary Daddy Dom, and I loved getting to know him. He’s strong, sexy, and oh, so protective.

Another reason this book is forever in my heart is the setting. Growing up, I spent many a happy summer vacation in the wilds of northern Ontario, Canada. Writing this book, and the spin-off WARRIOR MINE, Dream Dominant Book 4, allowed me to take a nostalgic trip back to one of my favorite places on earth.

In LOST & BOUND, actress Shasta Pyke gets into trouble with the law in Hollywood so she’s sent to cool her heels for a while in the wilderness of northern Ontario. Bush pilot and former wilderness counselor Blake Walker is none too impressed with the new high profile guest at his family’s remote lodge, but as he spends time with her, he begins to see glimpses of the frightened little girl she hides from the world. Could she be the baby girl his Daddy Dom soul craves?

Here’s a teaser from LOST & BOUND.

Blake expertly angled the small boat to rest beside the tiny dock and killed the motor, tying off his end before jumping out and tying the front end as well.  Then he again offered his hand, helping Shasta climb out of the boat and onto the dock. 

She stood taking in the view as he unloaded her things.  The lodge was visible across the water, seemingly closer than it actually was, judging by the ten-minute ride.  If she hadn’t been in such a foul mood, she would have found the place beautiful.  The only sound she could hear was the wind in the tops of the countless pine trees covering the island.  It would be a short climb up to the crest of the island where a log cabin sat.  She could see a stone-surrounded fire pit flanked by a quartet of dark green wooden Adirondack chairs and further away, stretched between two large pines, was a white canvas hammock. 

When all her things were on the dock, Blake turned to her.  “Let me take you to the cabin.  There are a few things I need to show you.”

He took off up the hill and Shasta teetered along behind him, carefully avoiding large rocks that were in the way.  “Are you making it?” he called over his shoulder.

“I’ve got this, don’t worry about me,” she muttered.

Blake turned away and grinned to himself.  He was waiting for her when she finally made it up the hill.  “I hope you brought other shoes.”

Out of breath, Shasta put her hands on her hips and nodded. 

He unlocked the door and held it open for her to enter the cabin.  She stepped into an open room featuring a seating area in front of a fireplace immediately to her right.  Further into the room, a kitchen was arranged in the back left quarter of the space with a cast iron stove on the back wall and a kitchen table pushed against the right wall down from the fireplace.  Between the fireplace and the kitchen table was a small desk that held some sort of radio equipment.  Shasta peered into an alcove to her left and saw that it was a tiny bedroom. 

“Now,” Blake was saying, “the lights run on propane.  You turn this little lever and you can light them with a lighter.  The fridge and the cooktop also run on propane.  Same thing, you turn the knob and then light it with the lighter.  I already lit the pilot on the fridge and it should be fine.”  He indicated a small metal box beneath the kitchen counter.

Wordlessly, Shasta followed him around the room, trying to take in all his instructions.  “Now if you want to bake, or if you’re just cold, you can build a fire in the stove.”  He showed her where to put the wood.  “And there’s always the fireplace.  Wood is stacked outside against the back of the cabin.  I can always bring you more, too.”

He waved at the few kitchen cabinets.  “We’ve stocked the cabinets and the refrigerator but if you need anything, just let me know.”  He headed for the door.  “Water comes from a spring near the front of the island.”

“Wait.  What?”

“Water.  You know, to drink?”

Desperately, Shasta searched the room, making a beeline to the sink.  Instead of a faucet, there was a green-painted old-fashioned hand pump.  She worked the handle a few times and a spurt of water came out.  She looked back to him, bewildered.

“Well, you can’t drink that.  Not without boiling it for about ten minutes.  It comes straight out of the lake.  Use it for dishes and things.  You can drink the spring water right out of the ground.”

“Wait a second.  Where’s the bathroom?” 

“I was just going to show you.  Follow me.”

Blake headed out the door and Shasta followed along behind him.  He turned down the right side of the cabin, following a narrow trail through the trees.  Shortly, the path opened onto a small clearing and to the right of the clearing was a tiny log structure.  “Here’s your bathroom,” he pointed.

She began to shake her head.  “Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” she murmured.  “There must be some mistake.  I don’t do outhouses.  Does Eddie know about this?” she demanded.

“Who’s Eddie?” Blake returned, picturing the smarmy suit guy.

“No.  Absolutely not.  This is completely unacceptable.  Besides,” she breathed deeply, trying to regain her composure, “where is the shower?”

“Well, some guests bathe in the lake.”  He took in her incredulous expression and continued.  “On the other hand, we do have a solar shower.  I’ll show you.” 

Shasta followed him down the other side of the cabin, to the place where the tiny bedroom jutting out from the main cabin made a little sheltered corner.  A post was situated in the corner with a pulley rigged to the top. 

“This is a solar shower.”  Blake held up a large flat rectangular vinyl pouch that was clear on one side and black on the other.  The clear side had a large round valve and there was a handle on one end.  The other end had clear tubing attached and at the end of the tubing was a tiny shower head.

“You fill this up with water, seal the valve, and lay it out in the sun.  The dock is a good place.”  He watched as Shasta held her forehead with the palm of one hand, gaping at him in disbelief.  “Anyway, when you’re ready for a shower, you hang it up here,” he indicated the pulley, “and just shower away.  The spruce trees right here make for privacy, although you shouldn’t have any folks out on the lake, seeing as how you’ve rented out the whole place.”

Wordlessly, Shasta turned and hobbled back to the front of the cabin, sinking into one of the Adirondack chairs.  Blake followed, hands in his pockets, uncertain whether or not to continue the tour.  She glanced up at him, deciding to change tacks. 

“Listen,” she smoothed, “we seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot.”  She pasted on her dazzling Shasta Pyke smile.  “Obviously, there’s been some kind of mistake.”  Standing, she approached him, pushing her glasses back up onto her head and fixing him with soft brown eyes. 

“Here’s the thing.”  She reached out to stroke his arm, biting her lower lip provocatively.  “I can’t stay here.  And you don’t want me here, not really.  The place is already paid for.  Just,” she stepped closer, brushing her breasts against his arm, “maybe you could drive me someplace where I can get a cab or an Uber or something, and I’ll be out of your hair.”  She wrinkled her nose and winked.  “What do you say?”

A slow smile spread across Blake’s face.  “What do I say?”  He laughed lightly, shaking head.  “I say, you’re a piece of work, lady.”  With that, he turned.  “I’ll leave you to it, then.”

“Wait!” she shouted after him.  “You can’t just leave me here!”

He waved over his head and didn’t turn around.

“Come back here!  You come back here right now!”

Wordlessly, he cast off from the dock and pushed the boat away from the shallow water. 

“What about my bags?  They need to be taken to the cabin!”

“And it will be dark soon.  So you might want to get on that,” Blake chuckled.

Shasta was on the dock by now and she stomped her foot, fists balled at her sides.  “Do you know who I am?” she screamed.

“You look to me like a little brat who needs her ass tanned,” he fired back.

She shrieked unintelligibly and threw a rock at the boat.  She missed by a mile and the rock plonked harmlessly into the water.

Blake laughed again, started the engine, and headed back to the lodge.

LOST & BOUND by Pandora Spocks

LOST & BOUND is available
at your favorite online bookseller:
books2read.com/LostandBound

Weekend Excerpt–Back To The Beginning

I’ve always thought that the best job in the world would involve traveling the world, experiencing different cultures, and seeking adventures in every new city. That’s where the premise for my first-ever book LUKE & BELLA had its beginning.

It became the first book in my Dream Dominant Collection, a series of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring sexy Alpha males and the redhaired submissives they can’t resist. There are currently four books in the collection, but at least one more is in the works.

Curious about LUKE & BELLA?

When television reporter Bella Grant is hired to create a brand-new travel show, she believes she’s landed the job of a lifetime. She’s paired up with veteran photojournalist Luke McGillicutty and they head off to their first destination.

Sure, she’s attracted to him, and she’s pretty sure the feeling is mutual, but they’re capable of keeping things professional, right? But with days of touring exciting cities and nights spent in romantic hotels, they fall hard and fast.

So fast, in fact, that Luke hasn’t taken the time to tell Bella the truth about himself. If he tells her now, he could lose her forever.

Here’s a (spoiler alert) snippet from LUKE & BELLA.

The bedside clock blinked 5:12 am.  Bella couldn’t wait any longer.  What little sleep she’d gotten had been fitful, troubled.

She looked over at Luke who was snoring softly and her heart skipped a beat.  She loved him so much.  He’d been kind the night before, not mentioning her breach of protocol, recognizing her need to be at his feet.  After her knee time, he’d taken her to bed, holding her tenderly to his chest, allowing her to let go of her concerns for a short while.  She knew he assumed she was having her period and she hadn’t bothered to correct him.  Plenty of time for that, she thought.

Quietly, she got out of bed and went into the bathroom, carefully closing the door behind her.  She switched on the light and located the brown paper bag she’d gotten from the pharmacy the day before.  Opening the box, she removed the flat plastic stick from its wrapper.  She reread the instructions, then followed them meticulously, knowing she couldn’t bear to get this wrong.  She placed the stick carefully on the counter of the vanity and set the timer on her phone.  Don’t look until the time is up, she instructed herself.  Thirty seconds in she broke her own rule and glanced at the test.  A blue plus sign in the circular window near the end of the stick appeared to her like a neon sign.

Her pulse pounded in her ears.  It does that at first, she thought desperately.  Then the plus disappears when it’s negative.

You know better than that.  She hadn’t heard her father’s condemning voice since she’d left his grave weeks before.  Now he was back, Nathan Epperson Grant, II, as the voice of Reason.

The timer chimed and with a shaky hand she picked up the stick.  The plus sign was still there, only now it was a darker blue.  That’s it, she thought.  I’m…Shit!  She stuffed the test back into the box, the box back into the paper bag, and shoved the whole thing into the drawer of the vanity.

She met her own terror-stricken gaze in the mirror.   I need air, she thought.  I can’t breathe.  Panicked, she hurriedly threw on black yoga pants, a white t-shirt, and a jacket.  Luke didn’t stir as she quietly opened the door and left the room, heading for the hotel lobby.  In the elevator, she realized she hadn’t left him a note.  I’ll be back before he even wakes up, she decided.  Then, we’ll have to talk. She felt nauseated and her eyes filled with tears.

The elevator doors opened to the lobby and she strode purposefully toward the revolving door to outside.

“Good morning!  You’re up early,” she heard a familiar voice say.  It was Ann, one of their dining companions from the previous night.  She and the other women were dressed for the gym.

Bella tried to pull herself together.  “Um, yeah, I was in the mood for a walk,” she replied, smiling brightly.

“Are you alright?” Tanya asked.

“Oh, yes, needed a little air is all,” Bella said.  “I’m just heading out…” she indicated the door.

Tanya spoke quietly to the others, “You go ahead.  I’m going to see what the matter is.”  She followed Bella out into the early morning.

“What’s wrong, Bella?” she asked sympathetically.  “Did you and Luke have a row?”

Bella turned and looked at her in surprise.  “God, no!” Bella answered quickly.  “He’s not even up yet.  It’s nothing, really, just…”

Tanya gave her a quizzical look.

“I’m pregnant,” Bella said quietly, a tear rolling down her cheek.  “I just did the test.”

“Congratulations!  That’s brilliant,” said Tanya.  She hesitated for a moment.  “Isn’t it?”

Bella sighed.  “It’s just so…unplanned.”  She wiped away a tear.  “Luke doesn’t know yet.  I don’t know…”

Tanya put her arm through Bella’s.  “Come.  Let’s go find some tea and have a chat.”

They ended up across the street from the Hotel Miramare, in a tiny cafe, one of the few open so early in the morning.  The historic district was stunning in the light of the sun rising over the water.  Bella sat at a heavy antique wooden table near the front window while Tanya ordered for them at the counter.

She returned to the table shortly with a pot of tea and two cups.  They sipped in silence for a few minutes.

“So you’re having a baby?” Tanya said, breaking into the silence.

Bella breathed deeply.  “Yeah.  I guess so.”

“Or not,” Tanya probed.

Bella looked at her.  “Unplanned as it is, I’m having this baby.  Definitely!” she said determinedly.  “As to whether or not Luke will be involved…” she trailed off.  “He made it pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in marriage.  I can’t think he’d be interested in a baby.  I owe it to him to tell him, I suppose.  But I’m afraid he’ll think I did this on purpose, to trap him or something.”  The tears were back again.

Tanya reached for her hand.  “That man loves you.  He may surprise you, you know.”

Bella was about to reply when her phone rang.  “Speak of the devil,” she said nervously.

LUKE & BELLA by Pandora Spocks

LUKE & BELLA is available
at your favorite online bookseller:
books2read.com/LukeAndBella1

Weekend Excerpt–CHASING ORDINARY

Because who doesn’t love a modern-day adult fairytale?

When Montana sculptor Petey Cavanaugh returned to New York City for an exhibit of her work, she didn’t plan on meeting the man of her dreams. Too bad she doesn’t realize that the handsome businessman is actually Europe’s most eligible prince.

Petey is everything Nik ever wanted. He’ll have to tell her the truth eventually. But for now, he’s enjoying his first-ever taste of ordinary. What will happen when she learns his true identity?

Here’s a snippet from CHASING ORDINARY.

Petey stared into the dressing room mirror.  “Oh, my God, I look like Alice Cooper on a three-day bender!”

“And we’re getting a picture of it, too,” Colin said, snapping a photo with his phone before she could protest.  “Because this is going to be a hell of a ‘before and after.’”

Colin clapped his hands loudly.  “Okay, people, we have an extreme makeover.  STAT.  Let’s see…”  He circled Petey, brow knit in concentration.  “First, we ditch this horrid dress.  Honey, I don’t know what you were thinking.”

“Unh, this was my friend Jules’ idea,” Petey snapped back.

“Well, what did you do to make her hate you because this thing is a nightmare.  Arms up,” he directed. 

“This from a guy in orange pants,” Petey snarked, as she raised her arms.  Two female assistants gripped the hem of the dress and pulled it over her head. 

“These are harvest rust, and they’re Prada.”

“Dude, they’re orange.”  Uncomfortably, she clutched her arms in front of herself in a vain attempt to cover her panties and bra. 

Colin barked with laughter.  “I like you.  You’re feisty.”  He continued to peruse her closely.  “And you have great tits.” 

He reached to cup one of her breasts and she batted his hand away.  “Hey!  Watch it!”

He just rolled his eyes.  “Honey, please!  Tits are not my thing, except the way they fill out couture.” 

To one of the assistants, he snapped, “Elaine, go to the stash of Agent Provocateur and find something in a, what?  34D?”  Petey nodded mutely. 

“And Zoe?  I’m seeing her in that pink Solace London.  The one with the mock turtleneck?”  The two women hurried off, presumably to find what they’d been sent to get.

Colin turned back to Petey.  “Get out of your wet undies and slip on a robe.  We’ll get you cleaned up, and then we’ll polish you until you sparkle.  Don’t worry about a thing.”  He winked at her and sent her on her way. 

For the next twenty minutes, an entire team worked to put Petey back together.  Her hair was washed and her face was cleaned.  While someone worked on her makeup, another person gave her a pedicure, while a third did her nails.  Finally, her hair was blown out. 

Colin returned to inspect their handiwork.  Nodding approvingly, he smiled at Petey.  “Okay red, in the dressing room, you’ll find new lingerie, a dress, and a pair of shoes.  Get dressed and come on out.”

Petey stepped into the dressing room and closed the door.  The mirror was covered with paper, and she’d only seen a maddeningly brief glimpse of herself in the makeup chair.  A plush chair held a cardboard box lined with tissue paper.  Inside were a pretty bra and panty set.  A pink dress hung on a hook on the wall, and she saw a shoe box on the floor. 

Lifting the bra from the box, she admired the sheer burgundy fabric, embroidered with peach and deep pink flowers.  The tag still hanging from the garment announced its price–$215.  Petey gaped.  The matching panties turned out to be a thong, priced at $130. 

Her most extravagant lingerie purchases had been a few bras from the Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sale.  It had taken over an hour to find something she liked, and she’d had a sneaking suspicion they’d made a stack of ugly bras just so they could discount them.

Shaking off her reservations, she dressed quickly, careful to pull the dress over her head without looking at the tag.  It seemed better not to know. 

The shoebox held a pretty pair of mauve velvet ankle-strap stilettos.  She sank onto the chair and fastened them on her feet.  God, what I wouldn’t give for a mirror right now

Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was exactly twenty-five minutes since he’d left her to go upstairs.  He.  She had no idea of his name.  In all the chaos, she hadn’t thought to ask. 

When she opened the dressing room door, a crowd was waiting, with Colin smack in the middle.  There was a collective gasp as he snapped a photo.  The group burst into applause, and Colin took a bow.  “That, ladies and ladies, is why they call me the ‘miracle worker’.

He took Petey by the hand.  “Come look,” he said.  He led her to a tri-fold mirror at the top of a small dais.  “Go ahead,” he nodded.

Petey carefully climbed the three steps to the top and stopped short.  Gazing back at her was the most beautiful self ever to greet her from a mirror.  Her long red hair was blown out silky and smooth, her makeup, including false eyelashes, expertly applied.  The pastel pink dress fit her like it was made for her, the mock turtle collar hugging her neck, leaving her shoulders and arms bare.  The clingy knit hugged her curves, and the hem hit just below her knees.  The color complimented her hair and skin flawlessly. 

Colin stepped up behind her.  “Naturally, the dress is meant to be shorter.  But because you’re such a shorty, it hangs longer on you.  If we had the time, I’d have it taken up.”

Petey turned to him, eyes shining.  “Thank you so much.  I can’t possibly afford these things.  I’ll take them to the one-hour cleaner first thing tomorrow and return them.”

The man gave a friendly chuckle.  “Don’t worry about it, sweetie.”

“Hello?  Is she ready?” a male voice called.

Petey turned around.  Her rescuer had returned.  For the first time, she noticed his British accent.  Their eyes met and she gasped lightly.  He was the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen.  His dark blond hair was neatly trimmed, a thin scruff of beard defining the contours of his chiseled square jaw.  Deep blue eyes gazed back at her, wide with apparent surprise. 

Certainly, she’d looked different when last he’d seen her.  As had he, to be honest.  He was now dry, his hair neatly back in place.  While the suit he’d worn earlier had been blue, the current one was a deep charcoal. 

They stared across the room for what felt like an eternity.  Finally, she broke the ice.  “Hi.”

“Hello,” he replied softly.  “Are you ready?”

Petey looked to Colin, then back at him.  “Yes, I think so.”

“Before I send you back out into the monsoon, I’m putting a coat on you.  No more getting drenched.”  An assistant appeared with a trench coat in a black and white chevron pattern.  Colin helped her into it.

She threw her arms around him.  “Thank you!  Thank you for everything.”

“My pleasure, red.  You come back and see me anytime.  I mean that.”  He kissed both her cheeks.  “Have fun.”

She headed to the doorway where he waited.  He called across to Colin.  “Thank you.  You’re a lifesaver.”

Colin laughed and waved.  As the pair left, he shook his head. 

“Well, kids, I think we just witnessed history.”

CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–Waffles…With a Side of Drama

A platonic Dom/sub relationship?
It’s a damn odd arrangement.

When I started writing BDSM romance, I wanted to do something different. While I enjoy stories about Dominant billionaires as much as the next girl, I was more interested in exploring the lives of regular everyday couples who live the intimacy of a power-exchange lifestyle.

In FOR SPARROW, Jessi Crenshaw has unexpectedly lost her husband. He was her best friend, her lover, the father of her grown children, and her Dominant.

But it turns out that Graham must have had an inkling that his health might be on the decline. Seems he has asked his friend and protege in the ‘lifestyle,’ firefighter paramedic Judd Farris to look out for Jessi in the event that something should happen to him.

Judd never imagined that he’d have to fulfill the promise he made to his dear friend, but nothing will stop him from completing that mission. He’ll watch over Jessi until she finds a Dominant of her own.

But what if he’d like to be that man?

Here’s an excerpt 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 toolbox 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 kiteboarders 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.

–FOR SPARROW is the 2018 Golden Flogger Award Winner for Best BDSM Book, BDSM Light.

FOR SPARROW by Pandora Spocks

2018 Golden Flogger Award Winner FOR SPARROW
is Dream Dominant Book 3.
It’s available at your favorite online bookseller:
books2read.com/ForSparrow

Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA

LUKE & BELLA is Dream Dominant Book 1, and it’s where it all began for me. It’s the first book I ever published, so in many ways, it’s a sentimental favorite. It’s about an ace television reporter and a veteran photographer who are thrown together to create a new television travel program. Traveling the world, finding adventure at every turn, is it any wonder they fall in love?

I orginally started writing it just for myself. Then I began posting a chapter at a time on Tumblr, and much to my surprise, it gained quite a following. Shout out to Kinky Tinkerbella, LOL!

About halfway through, I stopped writing for a while, only to pick it up much later, and I posted it chapter by chapter here on WordPress until it was finished. By then, I’d met many writers who self-published their work and I started thinking, why not?

The Dream Dominant Collection, a series of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring light BDSM themes, is now four books strong. In addition to LUKE & BELLA, there is LOST & BOUND, 2018 Golden Flogger Award Winner FOR SPARROW, and WARRIOR MINE. At least one more book is planned, hopefully to be released in 2020.

For now, here’s a little snippet from the book that started it all.

While Luke showered, Bella went online to make hotel reservations for their next destination. Never a fan of huge corporate places, she located a nice boutique hotel near the city center. Still feeling a bit sheepish about her little tantrum when they arrived in Scotland, she debated over reserving one room or two.

Obviously we want the best suite or suites available. Does the nicest suite really have to have that name? Bella sighed in exasperation.
The cheeky part of her smirked in delight. What should I do? she wondered. One room or two?

This is not how you were raised, her father’s voice reprimanded sternly.
Her finger wavered over the touch pad.

“All yours, m’lady,” announced Luke, startling her and causing her to jump.
He’s always doing that, she thought.

You’re too jumpy, her cheeky self said. You know what’s good for that…
Bella shook her head and clicked, her decision made. “Great! I’ll try to be quick,” she said.

“Take your time,” he smiled, heading out onto the terrace in his bathrobe to smoke a cigar.

Bella hurried anyway, anxious to get on with the evening. Why did I agree to a ‘date’? she wondered.

Cheeky self was quick to answer: You know exactly why.

Her father’s voice was harsh: This will not end well.

“Oh, shut up,” she said aloud.

After showering, she quickly did her hair and make-up, dressing at last in a form-fitting sleeveless black sheath with sheer lace at the neckline.

Checking herself in the mirror she decided that she looked decent enough. She wondered what Luke would wear, smiling as she imagined the two of them entering the award winning restaurant, she in semi-formal attire and he in the khaki cargo pants and chambray shirt he seemed to favor.

Handsome, yes, but not appropriate for the occasion. Maybe she should suggest another restaurant. Hmm…

“All ready,” she called out as she opened the bedroom door. Luke wasn’t in the sitting room. She walked out onto the terrace but he wasn’t there, either. She looked around.

You always were stupid, her father’s voice condemned. You gave him what he wanted. Now he’s at McTavish’s, laughing at you.

Bella’s heart sank. He’s ditched me, she thought, feeling foolish. Why would he want to go out with me anyway? Threatened tears stung her eyes and the sudden lump in her throat felt as big as a pineapple.

A knock at the door broke into her thoughts. Bella cautiously opened it to find Luke standing in the hallway, mischievous smile on his face and a bouquet of pink and white roses in his hand. He was stunning in a black suit, crisp white shirt, and a black silk tie.

“Good evening, m’lady,” he said. “I’m here to pick you up for our dinner date.”
She was too surprised to say anything but she stepped back to let him in the room.

“You look beautiful, by the way,” he said as he walked past her.

“Um, thanks, so do you,” she stammered. “I mean…” she laughed lightly, dabbing at the corner of her eye with her pinky finger. “Where in the world did you get that suit?”

He turned and hit her with a dazzling smile. “I keep it in my ghetto luggage,” he smirked. “Because a guy never knows when he might wanna get all gussied up.”

She laughed again. “Well, you look really…nice.”

“I brought you these,” he said, gesturing with the roses.

“They’re so pretty, thanks!” she replied, blushing. “You didn’t have to, really, I mean…It’s a super nice thought, it’s sweet, actually, but like I said before, I don’t have any expectations, just because…you know…” she trailed off, trying to interpret the meaning of the look on his face.

Luke smiled patiently waiting for her to finish speaking. “They’re just flowers, Bella,” he said softly. He found a glass pitcher and put them in water. “Are you ready?” he asked.

“Yes, ready,” she answered.

As soon as they were seated at a table for two at Hadrian’s, Luke ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc. They ordered the shellfish bisque for their starter. For their main course Luke had the filet and Bella, the salmon. After the waiter left them, she looked at him across the flickering candle in the center of the table. Luke winked at her and her breath caught in her chest.

I can’t understand this effect he has on me, she thought.

“You really do look beautiful,” he said. “The candlelight and your hair…” he just smiled.

She could feel herself blushing. “You’re sweet,” she deflected.

“I’m truthful. Always,” he said firmly.

Their wine arrived and Bella was grateful for the distraction. The sommelier poured and left, and they sipped appreciatively.

“So…you were married a long time ago to a douche bag,” Luke summed up. “You never took the plunge again? Never even other long-term relationships?”

Bella sipped and shook her head. “No, I was too glad to get out of that mess. I’ve dated some, but never felt serious about anyone. I think I run guys off.”

Luke laughed.

“No really! I’m particular and I work all the time…if there’s overtime to be had, I’m the one who asks for it. I’d rather keep busy than have down time.”

She sipped again. “There was this stalker once,” she admitted. He looked at her across the table, concerned. “It was kind of bad,” she continued. “This was in Asheville. I met him in a bar, and, well…It became obvious that going out with him was a mistake. Turns out he met me on purpose. I ended up filing a restraining order. The station had to hire extra security. I was working the 11:00 show, always coming home around midnight.”

She paused, watching his reaction. “I got home one night and, I know this sounds weird, but something felt off. Maybe it was that my front mat was just a little crooked, I don’t know. Anyway, I turned around, got back in my car, and called the cops. They found the guy in my bedroom, under my bed, naked.”

“Holy shit, Bella!” Luke gasped. “I’d kill a motherfucker…”

“Yeah, that was a little freaky,” she said quietly. “He went to jail, of course. I got out of Asheville as quickly as I could.”

Dinner arrived and their conversation slowed as they enjoyed their food. After a few moments, Bella ventured, “Now the former Mrs. McGillicutty…Did she get tired of your being gone all the time?”

“Um, no, she got tired of being poor all the time,” he replied. “She went and found a sugar daddy.”

“You’re kidding,” Bella said. “She left you over money?”

“Yep, that’s it exactly,” he said ruefully.

Bella shook her head. “That’s the craziest thing I ever heard,” she said thoughtfully.

“Says the Ivy League debutante,” Luke said softly.

She gave him a sharp look. “I’m just saying, if I found a great guy, money wouldn’t even enter into it,” she said decisively.

“A great guy, huh?” he smirked, knowing he’d be rewarded with another stunning blush. He was not disappointed.

“Oh, you know what I’m saying,” she stammered.

Boldly, Bella countered. “How about you? Besides your marriage, did you have other long-term relationships?”

Luke set down his fork for a moment. “Well, I went right into a five-year relationship after my divorce. Big mistake, but at the time I’d lost my confidence, so…”

Bella looked at him sympathetically. Luke continued, “It was a bad situation I should have ended much sooner than I did. Hell,” he chuckled, “it was a situation I should never have started, but you live and learn. Then, shortly before I retired, I was with a woman for about two years. She left me for an eighty-year-old man.”

He laughed at Bella’s shocked expression. “He had money. What can I say?”

“Again with the money,” Bella murmured, shaking her head.

They continued enjoying their meal, moving their conversation toward the work they’d done and away from their personal stories.

During dessert, after a pause in conversation, Luke voiced, “So, you’re really not telling me where we’re going tomorrow?”

Bella smiled. “Nope.”

LUKE & BELLA by Pandora Spocks

LUKE & BELLA is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/LukeAndBella1