Weekend Excerpt–WIP Sneak Peek!

When your back is against the wall,
how far will you go to provide for the ones you love?

Three years ago, Charley Weatherly walked away from a nine-to-five she hated to take a chance on her dream, running her own boutique bookstore. Unfortunately, business hasn’t been good. Whether it’s the location or the fact that most folks seem to prefer to buy their books online anymore, the remainder of Charley’s 401k might be enough to keep her afloat for another six months, tops.

Between trying to keep the business going and caring for the grandmother who raised her, Charley’s lovelife is nonexistent. It’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make, at least for the time being. She’s too tired to think about men anyway.

But when her grandmother nearly burns down the house while Charley is work, it becomes obvious that Nana needs more care than Charley can provide. So rather than propping up the business for one last try, Charley realizes that she has to use that money to get Nana into a quality memory care program.

Here’s an unedited snippet from what I’m tentatively calling THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE.

“Okay, Nana, that about does it.”  Charley placed the last stack of clothes into the large suitcase on the bed.  “You’re all set to go tomorrow.”

Celeste smiled vaguely.  “Where am I going again?”

“You have a new room at Pacifico Manor.  Remember your friend Mary?  And Cole Porter?”

“Oh, yes,” her grandmother said.  “That’s just lovely.”

From the back pocket of her jeans, Charley’s phone rang.  “Hello?”

“Yes, Ms. Weatherly, this is Ruth Allen at Pacifico Manor.”

“Oh, hello!  We were just getting Nana all packed.”

The other woman hesitated for a moment.  “Yes, well, we have a bit of a problem.  I’m sure it’s just a simple oversight, but your grandmother’s auto-draft for her first month with us was declined due to insufficient funds.”

Charley frowned as she stalked away from Celeste’s bedroom.  “Insufficient funds?  There must be some mistake.  There was more than $30,000 in that account.”

“Like I said, I’m sure it’s just an oversight of some kind.  But we need it sorted out before Mrs. Martin can move in.”

“I understand.  I’ll check into it and get back with you.  Thank you so much.”

She returned to the bedroom where Celeste alternated between hovering over the bags and bewilderedly peering into the empty closet.  “Come watch some TV, Nana.  Then we’ll go out for a little dinner.”

With Celeste settled on the sofa watching a Golden Girls rerun, Charley took her laptop to the kitchen table and fired it up, heading for the bank website.  Pulling up the new account, she quickly found the balance and blinked unbelievingly.  

$0.00.

Her heart pounded.  How can that be?  Last week I moved $30,000, the last of my 401k.

Hand covering her mouth, she stared at the screen.  I’ve been hacked.  It’s the only thing that makes sense.  

It had happened before.  The contents of her checking account had been drained a few hundred dollars here and there from several ATMs in Toronto, a city in which she’d never set foot.  The matter had been resolved in about a week, but it had been stressful nonetheless.

But $30,000 certainly raised the anxiety factor.  She pulled up the account details to see if she could determine the location of the withdrawals.

The most recent activity was when Pacifico had attempted to draft Nana’s first monthly payment.  But that had been declined.  There was only one other transaction.

Charley’s mouth dropped open.  The entire $30,000 had gone to the Universal Church of the Apostolic Divine.  “Son of a…” she breathed.  “That shady TV preacher.”

How?  How did they get their hands on that account?  Charley wracked her brain.  The day she’d moved the money, she’d left the checkbook in the kitchen.  She’d been certain she’d left it on the table, but later, she’d found it on the counter.  

On shaky legs, she walked into the living room.  Celeste had changed the channel and was now engrossed in yet another sermon from Pastor Pompadour.  Charley drew a deep, cleansing breath and focused on keeping her voice even.  

“Nana?”  She used the remote to mute the television.  Celeste looked up at her expectantly.

“Nana, did you give money to that man?”

Celeste glanced back at the television.  “God told him he was going to die if he didn’t buy a new airplane.  We had to help.”

Charley squeezed her eyes shut and roughly scrubbed her lips with the palm of her hand.  She followed her grandmother’s gaze to the screen where the man silently moved his lips and waved his hands.  A telephone number was emblazoned across the bottom of the screen.  

We have to get the money back, that’s all there is to it.  She retrieved her phone from her back pocket and tapped in the number.

Handing the remote to Celeste, Charley stalked out the front door and into the mild evening.  The phone rang twice, then was answered by a woman with a strong southern accent.  

“Thank you for calling our love line.  I hope you’re having a blessed day.  How much would you like to give?”

“Um, yes, I need to speak to someone about getting back a donation?  My grandmother inadvertently gave some money that was meant for another purpose.”

“You need financial help?  I’m sorry, this is the wrong line for that.  This is the line for giving.”

Charley pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger.  “No, what I’m saying is that my grandmother gave $30,000 that she shouldn’t have.  I just need it refunded.”  

“Oh, no, ma’am, we don’t do that.”

With more patience than she felt, Charley forged ahead.  “I need to speak with someone in charge.  Do you have a supervisor I can talk to, please?”

With a humph, the operator responded with a “Just one moment, please,” and didn’t bother to put Charley on hold.  “Yeah, Dot, we’ve got a live one.”

Another cheery southern voice came on the line.  “Hello, I sure hope you’re having a blessed day.  What seems to be the trouble?”

Feeling her temper rising, Charley took a deep cleansing breath.  “I was explaining to your colleague that my grandmother donated a very large sum of money that was meant for something else.  She suffers from dementia and she didn’t realize what she was doing.  I’m just asking that her donation be refunded.  Please,” she tacked on for good measure.

“Mm-hmm.  And is your grandmother’s name on the account she used?”

Charley thought for a second.  “Yes, it’s a joint account with both our names on it.”

“Okay, then.  Your grandmother made a generous love offering out of her own bank account.  She’s a grown adult and as such, is free to do as she pleases.  And it pleased her to give of her tithes and offerings to the Lord.  Far be it from us to stand in the way of her blessing.  And shame on you for trying.  Have a blessed day!”  The last sentiment sounded more like a curse just before the woman disconnected.

Bewildered, Charley looked at the phone in her hand.  Then she looked back at the house.  What are we going to do?

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks (unedited excerpt)

Watch for more about this WIP in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, why not read RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION,
my all-time fan favorite?

Maggie’s Orphans & Misfits Christmas–Holiday Excerpt from Rannigan’s Redemption

bruno-martins-433880

Maggie Flynn, smart red-haired lawyer from Rannigan’s Redemption, was raised by her father after her mother abandoned them both when Maggie was small.   When he died while she was in college, she found herself alone in the world.

Rather than indulging in self-pity and despair, she forges ahead, gathering a collection of friends who, like herself, are alone.  And at Christmas, she makes sure no one spends the holiday by themselves, creating a tradition called the Orphans and Misfits Christmas.  If someone has nowhere to go for Christmas, they know they’re welcome at Maggie’s.  Occasionally, someone surprising shows up.

This excerpt is from RESISTING RISK, Book 1 of Rannigan’s Redemption.

“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.

Couple in love on the background of the spring city.

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.”

Treat yourself Rannigan

Use this universal link to get the complete
RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION boxed set
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption