Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

Michael Rannigan is running rogue.

At the end of RESISTING RISK, Book 1 of Rannigan’s Redemption, Maggie Flynn abruptly left the law firm she joined right out of law school. Since Maggie’s abrupt departure from the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny, Michael has been in a tailspin. As he limps along in the new normal, he misses her more than he ever imagined.

Maggie misses Michael as well. But she makes the best of her new job at the District Attorney’s office. Occasionally they cross paths in court, each assessing the other. Like Michael, she finds herself making questionable personal choices.

When opportunity knocks for Michael he leaps at it, maybe as much to avoid Maggie’s absence as anything else. The fact that his decision impacts everyone else at the firm doesn’t slow him down at all.

Then comes news that shakes him to his core. Now that he’s burned all his bridges, who will be there to help him pick up the pieces?

In this scene, Maggie gets a better glimpse into the character of her new love interest, retired MLB pitcher turned sports broadcaster Bobby “Beau” Beaulieu.

Bobby pulled away from the curb in front of Maggie’s apartment. He’d donned a pair of mirrored aviators when they’d gotten in the car. He glanced at her and, seeing her watching him, he winked. “We’ll just get this taken care of and be on our way.”

“Is this a work thing you have to do?” Maggie asked.

Bobby pursed his lips. “Sort of, I guess. There’s a family from Dallas, and they have a son with leukemia. They’ve been flown into town for the weekend to see all the sights and stuff. I believe they’re going to tonight’s exhibition game. Anyway, this is a kind of ‘meet and greet’ out at the stadium. I’ll hang out with the kid for a while, toss a ball around. It probably won’t take too long, I wouldn’t want to drag you to something that would take all day.”

Maggie frowned thoughtfully. “Is this a ‘Make-A-Wish’ kind of thing?”

Bobby nodded. “Um-hmm. The foundation made all the arrangements, sent me the letter from the dad. The boy’s name is Tyler, and apparently, he’s a big fan.”

Maggie smiled slowly, turning towards him. “You mean, out of all the things this boy could ask for, he wanted to meet you?”

He shrugged uncomfortably. “It’s a hell of a thing, isn’t it?”

“I think that’s pretty special,” Maggie said. “Have you ever done this before?”

Again, he tilted his head uncomfortably, eyes straight ahead, and he sighed. “I think this is my twelfth one.”

Maggie straightened back in her seat, smiling out the front window. “Pretty amazing.”

The guard at the stadium gate directed Bobby to the players’ parking area where they were met by a pretty young woman wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard.

“Hi, Beau, welcome. I’m Natalie, we’ve been chatting back and forth all week. I’ll be working to make today’s event smooth.”

“Thanks, Natalie,” he said, blasting her with his high-wattage grin, “This is Maggie. She’s kindly consented to tag along with me today.”

Maggie smiled and said hello. Bobby stepped closer to Natalie. “That thing we talked about? Did that stuff get delivered?”

Natalie smiled. “It did indeed. We’ve got you set up in the locker room.” She checked her watch. “Okay, now the family is supposed to arrive in about fifteen minutes. Do you want to go get changed?”

Bobby nodded. “Yeah, we’ll head in that direction. Thanks, Natalie.”

He led Maggie through a series of doors and passages and finally into a huge locker room. The first thing Maggie noticed was the navy carpet sprinkled with the white NY logo with a huge white NY in the center of the carpet. All around the perimeter of the room were stations comprised of honey oak cabinets, a low counter, and a clothing rack. In front of each station was a white cushioned folding chair, again featuring the NY logo.

At the far end of the room, Maggie saw a seating area made up of a large tan leather sofa flanked by a pair of matching leather armchairs. A low coffee table completed the seating group but it was draped in a navy blue cloth covering something on its top.

Maggie followed Bobby to the only station that seemed occupied. On the clothing rack hung a single uniform. “Here we go,” Bobby said. “I’ll just get changed.” He gripped the bottom of his sweater and pulled it over his head. Maggie stood clasping her hands, uncertain of what to do. Bobby grinned and unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned the fly of his jeans.

“Oh, hey now,” Maggie exclaimed, turning away from him. “I’ll just wander over here.” She heard Bobby’s low chuckle and felt her cheeks flush.

“Hey, what’s over here?” she asked, lifting the corner of the blue drape on the coffee table.

“What it should be,” replied Bobby as he pulled on his uniform pants, “is a bunch of Little League uniforms. Why don’t you take off the cloth so we can make sure?”

Maggie carefully lifted the drape from the table to reveal stacks of red child-sized jerseys and white baseball pants. There were also red socks and boxes of cleats. She noticed some cartons on the floor between the table and the sofa. “There are some boxes over here, too.”

Bobby came over, tucking in his blue jersey as he walked. “They look good,” he nodded approvingly. “And these,” he said, opening one of the cartons, “should be balls, bats, and gloves.” He frowned slightly, checking the other box. “Oh, and caps. Good, it’s all here.”

Maggie looked up to ask about the uniforms but found herself distracted. She was unable to stop what she knew was a goofy smile spreading across her face. Bobby grinned wryly. “What?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’ve never seen you in a uniform before. It’s…” she stopped, blushing furiously. Bobby waited, eyes twinkling with amusement. “Well, I suddenly find myself strangely drawn to baseball,” she said, chewing absently on her thumbnail.

Bobby laughed. “We’ll make a convert of you yet.”

Maggie remembered her question. “What is all this for?”

“When I read the information about this kid, Tyler? The dad is the coach for his Little League team. He mentioned that most of the kids on the team come from single-parent families, the kind that don’t have the money for uniforms and stuff. I ordered a bunch of things for them. Figure we’ll have to ship it all back to Texas but I wanted to be able to give it to them today.”

Maggie gazed up at him in wonder. “You bought all this equipment and stuff?”

Bobby shrugged. “You can’t play baseball without the essentials. And uniforms mean a lot. I know they did when I was a kid. It was a small thing to do.”

“You are a good man,” she said simply, leaning up on her tiptoes to place a kiss on his cheek. He blushed uncomfortably and she laughed softly.

RUNNING ROGUE by Pandora Spocks

RUNNING ROGUE,
Book 2 of Rannigan’s Redemption,
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RunningRogue

Weekend Excerpt–THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE

They say desperate times call for desperate measures.
Charley Weatherly is about to realize that it’s true.

I’m so excited that my new novel, THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE, is finally out! It’s been a long time coming, with one interruption after another, but hopefully, it’s worth the wait.

The idea for this book came from a news report I saw about a celebrity becoming a first-time parent via gestational surrogate. I began to wonder…

Who is this woman having a child for a stranger who can’t do it on their own? What is her motivation, her life situation? What are her hopes and dreams?

So I began to explore these notions by writing. This book is the result. Read the official blurb:

Life isn’t working out exactly the way Charley Weatherly imagined it might when she walked away from her steady paycheck as a copywriter to start her own business. But as it turns out, not everyone in town is knocking down the door of her tiny independent bookshop. She has lost money every quarter since she opened.

Now, with her grandmother in need of more care than Charley can provide, some difficult decisions have to be made. The rest of her 401k plus the proceeds from selling the bookstore might keep Nana in Pacifico Manor for about a year. That would give Charley time to figure out her next move.

But when that money is irretrievably lost, Charley is faced with an impossible decision. Being a gestational surrogate for a couple who can’t have a baby on their own will bring in the kind of cash she needs. Can she really follow through?

Between trying to keep her small business afloat and caring for her grandmother, Charley’s personal life has been nonexistent. But when she moves to the city for a few months, she finds she enjoys the freedom of her part-time gig at Bravo Java. She especially enjoys chatting up the handsome local artist who spends his mornings there. Now that her life is taking an unexpected turn, has she finally met the right man at the wrong time?

Artist Ben Campbell has had his fair share of romantic disasters. For the time being, he’s content to follow his self-imposed schedule: gym, coffee, work, repeat.

But the new barista at his favorite coffee shop piques his interest. In fact, if he’s honest with himself, she looks a lot like the elusive redhead who haunts his dreams.

She seems to be attracted to him, too. So why does Charley insist on keeping him at arm’s length?

Prefer your romance with plenty of heat and tons of heart?
You’ll love The Girl in the Guesthouse!

Here’s a little teaser.

Looking around the room, Charley saw some of the paintings she had watched Ben working on in his loft. She took a few steps toward one, an abstract in bright colors. “This is amazing,” she whispered. “Look at this! All your work for people to see.”

“And buy, hopefully,” he laughed. “I’m always hoping to sell my pieces.”

He stepped toward her and took her hand. “There’s something I want to show you.”

Curious, Charley allowed him to lead her around a corner where another few paintings were hanging. Ben stood her in front of one and stepped back. “These are the ones I wanted to keep a surprise until today.”

Frowning slightly, Charley gazed at the vast canvas rectangle. The first thing she noticed was the riot of color. But unlike the abstracts she had seen in the main part of the room, this painting, and the ones beside it, were clearly representational, albeit more impressionistic than realistic.

In the first one, a hand reached out toward a form moving away from it. Looking closer, Charley saw that it was a woman. A woman with red hair. Frowning, she turned her head to look at Ben, who pursed his lips and waited for her reaction.

She moved to the next painting. In this one, the red-haired woman was closer, but her back was still turned. In the third piece, the woman was closer still, and now she looked over her shoulder at the viewer, a happy, impish expression on her face. Unconsciously, Charley reached up to touch her own face. “Is this me?” she asked quietly.

Ben stood beside her, draping his arm around her waist. “I had this dream so many times. You were always just out of my reach. Obviously, I didn’t know it was you. Until I did know it was you. And everything fell into place. This was a story I had to tell.”

Worry knit his brow as he looked down at her. “Do you hate it?”

“Of course, I don’t hate it. I love it! And I love you.” Even in her boots, she had to tiptoe to reach him to press a kiss to his lips. “It’s amazing, and I’m flattered beyond, well, anything.”

Ben exhaled loudly. “Thank God! I thought it was a great idea, and I kept it a surprise, but then, I started having second thoughts once it was up in here. What if you hated them? What if you were angry that I painted you?”

Charley chuckled. “You worry a lot. Who wouldn’t love this? I suppose that, in a way, it’s our story, right?”

“It is at that,” Ben agreed, drawing her to himself. “I am a lucky, lucky man.”

“Okay, the doors are opening!” someone shouted into the room. “Ready or not, here they come.”

“Hoo, boy. Here goes nothing,” Ben muttered.

“This is going to be great,” Charley reassured him.

**

And it was. The buzz about Ben’s work was highly positive, and several of the pieces sold in the first hour. Their friends Robin and Cam came, and Ben was glad Charley had someone to hang out with while he schmoozed potential buyers and chatted with old friends.

Drew and Alex popped in, purchasing a painting Drew said he planned to hang in his office.

Occasionally, Charley would flit by to bring him a drink or to squeeze his hand reassuringly. Ben’s heart ached at the pride he saw in her eyes. He was, indeed, a lucky man.

He was chatting with Charley when he heard a familiar voice.

“Great work, as usual. No surprise there. How are you, Ben?”

He turned to see Claire holding a glass of wine in salute and felt his eyes widen. “Claire?”

“I heard you had a show, and I wanted to see your new work.” Her words were for Ben, but her eyes were on Charley.

Belatedly, he realized he needed to introduce them. “Claire, meet Charley Weatherly. Charley, this is Claire.”

He didn’t miss the narrowing of Claire’s eyes. Or the way she was laser-focused on Charley’s baby bump. What surprised him was that Charley gave Claire the same look. He recognized Charley’s forced smile as she reached to shake the woman’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Charley murmured politely.

Claire nodded rather imperiously if he wasn’t reading too much into it. “Likewise.”

Charley lightly squeezed his arm. “I’m going to see if I can find Robin and Cam.” She looked at Claire. “Again, nice to meet you.” She scurried off without waiting for a reply. Which was just as well since there wasn’t one.

Instead, Claire crossed her arms and glared at him. “Wow, Ben, what have you been up to?”

Opting to ignore the real meaning of her question, he shrugged lightly. “Oh, you know, same old same old. I kind of busted a hump to get this show ready, but other than that, just the usual.”

“You know what I mean. You’re going to be a father?”

Ben glanced around to find Charley talking with Robin, whose eyes were shooting daggers Claire’s way. He had to suppress a smile.

“No,” he shook his head. “The babies aren’t mine.”

“Babies? As in plural?” Claire was aghast. “You’re dating a chick who is pregnant with someone else’s babies, plural?”

“They aren’t hers, either. Charley’s a surrogate. The twins are actually Alex and Drew’s, and they’re due in May.”

“Unbelievable,” Claire muttered, shaking her head. “You’ve reached a new low, do you know that?”

“I have no idea what you mean,” he answered, trying to tamp down his growing irritation.

“You’re dating a pregnant chick,” she hissed. “Do I really need to explain how pathetic that is? You’re a young, great-looking guy, and you can do way better. And you know it, too.”

“Hey!” Ben had had enough. “I love Charley. And she loves me. I know you, Claire. I know that genuine love is a foreign concept to you. For you, it’s all fun and games. But I’ve always been looking for the missing part of me.”

“Right,” Claire rolled her eyes. “And this Charley person is it.” Her tone was beyond sarcastic.

“Okay, Claire,” Ben said stiffly. “Thanks for coming by. I need to mingle with the other guests. See you later.” He tried to move off before she could say anything else.

“I was accepted into the residency. I’m going to Paris at the beginning of April.”

Ben paused. “Congrats!” he hurled over his shoulder. “I hope you enjoy it.”

“Have you heard from them yet?” Claire asked.

He shook his head. “Nope. Goodnight, Claire.”

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE
is now available at your favorite online bookseller!
books2read.com/TheGirlInTheGuesthouse

Weekend Excerpt–Trouble on New Year’s Eve

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

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché.
But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink tulle bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?

***
A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect.
Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

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

From her perch on the 30th floor of the Intercontinental, Ali peered down at the masses of New Year’s Eve revelers packing the streets below. On the television that played quietly in the corner, a current top-ten pop artist gyrated through a lip-synched version of her most popular song. According to the tiny clock in the corner of the screen, the old year had about twenty minutes left before it faded with the new one’s arrival.

Ali glanced back over her shoulder to see Logan and Greg deeply engaged in a conversation about their picks for the NFL playoffs. She smiled to herself. She had been right when she’d told Logan that he’d hit it off with Shannon and her fiancé. When Ali had called her niece from Florida to suggest that the two couples hang out together for New Year’s Eve, Shannon had enthusiastically agreed.

They had started the evening with a casual dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant before adjourning to Logan’s corner room overlooking Times Square. For the past couple of hours, they had spent their time alternating between playing raucous hands of Cards Against Humanity and watching the New Year’s Eve crowd assembled outside. From Logan’s room, they would have a perfect view of the giant crystal ball as it dropped at midnight.

The bathroom door opened, and Shannon crossed to Ali at the window as the men continued to outline the virtues of this team over that team. She slipped an arm around her aunt, who was barely two years older than herself.

“I like Logan, Ali, I really do. Greg does, too, you can tell.” Shannon rested her head on Ali’s shoulder and gazed out the window.

“I like him, too. Maybe even more than like,” Ali confessed.

Shannon gave a soft, gleeful giggle. “I knew it! Anyone can see how you feel about him. Did you tell him yet?”

Ali shook her head. “No, I mean, I don’t know. I thought about it once or twice while we were in Florida. But that’s a big step. I’m not sure I’m ready to take that risk just yet.”

Another thought struck her, and her stomach sank. “What if Logan’s not ready? Maybe he doesn’t feel the same way.” It was a miserable thought, one that in her own private moments, Ali was able to push away.

“You’re out of your mind,” Shannon whispered. “That man is nuts about you. He has already agreed to be your plus one at the wedding. Which is fantastic. Weddings always seem to give a guy notions. My friend Jillian’s wedding is where Greg says he decided to propose.”

Ali risked a glance over her shoulder, and Logan gave her a wink. She couldn’t stop her smile.

A knock announced the arrival of the champagne they had ordered earlier. Logan headed to the door.

“Oh, good!” Shannon exclaimed. “It’s almost time, you guys!”

They gathered around as Logan popped the cork and poured the golden sparkling wine into four sparkling glass flutes. As the lighted crystal ball began its descent on television, they carried their champagne to the giant windows and watched the spectacle in real-time.

“Three, Two, One! Happy New Year!” they chorused, toasting each other and sipping the champagne.

Greg twirled Shannon away from the window as they improvised a slow dance in front of the television. Blue eyes shining, Logan took Ali’s glass and set it down beside his. Then he pulled her to himself, lowering his face to hers. “Happy New Year, babe,” he murmured just before their lips touched.

Closing her eyes, Ali gave herself over to his kiss, losing herself in his strong embrace. There was no maybe about it. She was in love. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name.

Logan gently moved away from her lips, instead applying soft kisses along her jawline and down the side of her neck, leaving goosebumps trailing across her body in the process.

“Happy New Year,” he murmured again, his lips just below her ear. “Ali Hart, I love you.”

Her eyes had been closed as she enjoyed his attentions. Now, they flew open, and she took a slight step back. He stood smiling that lop-sided grin she found beyond endearing, and he nodded.

“It’s true. I love you,” he repeated softly.

“But I,” she began, her voice barely a squeak. “I love you, too.”

Now, he grinned broadly. “Then it’s perfect. You and me, Ali. We’re perfect together.”

She nodded, too. “Perfect.”

Pulling her to himself, Logan once again captured her lips with his own, and Ali reveled in their relationship’s new status. They had done it. They’d each said the l-word. If that wasn’t taking things to the next level, she didn’t know what was.

“Hey,” called Shannon, reminding Ali that she and Logan weren’t alone. “Do you know what would be amazing right now? Chocolate cream pie from Hudson’s Diner around the corner from Granddad’s.”

Her face flushing red, Ali rested her forehead against Logan’s chin. “Sorry about that,” she whispered. “I almost forgot they were here.”

He pressed a kiss to her temple and chuckled. “Chocolate cream pie? You are definitely speaking my language. What do you say, we head uptown and enjoy a little New Years’ dessert before we go our separate ways?”

“Deal,” Shannon agreed. “Greg, call an Uber. We’re getting New Year’s pie.”

Arm around Ali’s waist, Logan whispered in her ear as they headed to the elevator. “Not actually the pie I was most looking forward to tonight,” he laughed, “but the New Year is young.”

Ali felt the heat go straight to her core. She suddenly couldn’t wait to be alone with Logan.

Uptown traffic was heavier than usual, especially for that late at night, and Ali assumed it was due to the holiday. As the Uber approached the block before her father’s apartment, she suggested that the driver drop them off and that they walk from there.

With Shannon and Greg leading the way, Ali and Logan walked hand in hand across the street. Instinctively, she glanced up at the windows of Jackson Hart’s home. Her thoughts strayed back to the day he had been lost, the day that Logan had helped her find him, and her stomach sank a bit. But she shook it off, knowing that beginning the day after Christmas, the home nursing agency had been sending potential candidates for her father’s permanent caregivers.

As if he knew what she was thinking, Logan looked down at her and gave her hand a squeeze.

“It’s just down the block and around the corner,” Shannon said over her shoulder.

As they passed the front awning of the apartment building, someone stepped out of the shadows.

“Well, well, this must be the infamous Alison Hart.” The tall blonde woman glared at Ali, a malicious gleam in her eye.

Frowning, Ali stopped. Ahead, Shannon and Greg turned around and walked back to where she and Logan stood.

“Catherine.” Logan’s voice was low.

The woman shifted her gaze to him. “Happy New Year, Logan. Have you missed me?”

“No, as a matter of fact. I haven’t missed you in the least.”

Glancing up at Logan, Ali saw an unfamiliar hard look on his face.

“Logan, who is this woman?” Ali asked softly.

“I’m his fiancée,” the blonde spat. “I’m shocked he hasn’t told you about me.”

Ex-fiancée,” Logan corrected. “What do you want, Catherine?”

“Wouldn’t you rather know how I found you? This isn’t actually your neighborhood, is it, Logan? You’d be amazed at how easy it is for a private investigator to track down a fiancé gone rogue.”

Ex-fiancé,” Logan growled. “I don’t answer to you anymore, Catherine. You have no business stalking me.”

Feeling panic rising, Ali tugged on Logan’s arm. “Logan, what’s going on. Is she really your fiancée?”

Tearing his eyes away from the blonde, Logan looked down at Ali. “She’s my ex-fiancée. I broke off the engagement.”

“Yes, you certainly did that,” the woman agreed calmly. “On Christmas Eve, no less, barely a week ago. Can you imagine? And with our wedding already planned for Valentine’s Day, too.”

“Dude,” Greg interjected, “You were getting married on Valentine’s Day? That’s our wedding day.”

Ali pulled her hand out of Logan’s and backed up a few steps, scrubbing a palm across her lips. “Christmas Eve? Logan, we met before Thanksgiving. You were engaged then?”

“Ali, I swear, I can explain everything.” He stepped toward her, the look in his eyes pleading.

The blonde crossed her arms in front of herself. “Well, please do that! I’m all ears. Please explain how you called off our wedding when you were apparently already fucking little Miss Redhead.”

Logan angrily whirled around. “Catherine, I swear to God–”

Ali’s pulse pounded in her ears, and she felt like she couldn’t breathe. “I have to go,” she blurted, darting toward the front door of her father’s apartment building.

“Ali, wait!” Logan called after her, but she ducked inside the lobby and bounded to the open elevator, jamming the button before anyone else could follow.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/BrokenHarts

Weekend Excerpt–Christmas on Lake Miranda

She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

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

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

In his personal life, Scott is tired of casual sex in the BDSM club scene. Envious watching his buddy Blake fall head over heels for his own submissive, Scott thinks he might be ready to take the plunge himself. As he and Jackie spend time together, he’s enchanted with her inner Warrior Princess.

But Jackie’s been burned before. And she has two children who are her priority, not to mention the business to run. As independent as she is, she can’t see relinquishing her power to a man, not even one she’s falling for.

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

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

In this teaser, enjoy a little Christmas on Lake Miranda.

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

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

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

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

The women clinked their mugs and giggled gleefully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A puppy,” Emma squealed.

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

Blake leaned against the doorway looking pleased with himself.

“From Santa, huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WARRIOR MINE by Pandora Spocks

WARRIOR MINE is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Weekend Excerpt–2 Weeks Until Christmas

New lawyer Maggie Flynn is nothing like the women Michael Rannigan usually dates.
So why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Brilliant Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan has his life arranged exactly the way he likes it. As a founding partner at the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny, he can let his underlings do the legwork on the high-profile defense cases his exclusive 50th-floor division handles. He prefers to simply breeze in and do what he does best: dazzle juries and charm the press.

His private life is well-ordered, too. Michael doesn’t have the time or the patience for relationships. Instead, he has a contact list of hot blondes who meet his needs at any given moment, whether it’s a date to a gallery opening or awards show. Or he just wants to get laid.

Some people would call him shallow. But they’re just envious.

Maggie Flynn has her life mapped out as well. After she graduates from law school she plans to take a job with the Prosecutor’s Office where she interned. But when she attends a job fair and meets Michael Rannigan, her plans change. She’s studied his cases, even heard him speak once. He’s smart and sexy and she can’t resist interviewing with him.

Michael hires Maggie and has her assigned to his elite 50th-floor team. He knows smart when he sees it. He also sees the spark in her eyes. She wants him. And having her nearby strokes his ego. It’s not like anything will come of it, she’s so far from his type. But there’s something unsettling about Mary Margaret Flynn, like she can see through his bullshit in a way no one else ever bothered to do.

Maggie realizes that her crush on Michael is all but hopeless. He’s a self-absorbed womanizer. But beneath that cool exterior, she’s seen the man he can be and she’s sure that love can bring that out. In the meantime, she’s content to work with him.

What would happen if they ever crossed that line?

In this scene, Maggie has an unexpected guest for 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.”

RESISTING RISK by Pandora Spocks

Amazon #1 Bestseller RESISTING RISK
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ResistingRisk
It also happens to be FREE at Amazon.

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

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

Golden Flogger Award Winner FOR SPARROW is the third book in the Dream Dominant series
of contemporary steamy romance books featuring a light BDSM theme.

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband Graham dies unexpectedly, she’s devastated. He’s the only man she’s ever loved. Just eighteen when she met him, she’s been married to him for twenty-five years. Now she’s lost her friend, her lover…and her Dominant.

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

Judd is determined to fulfill his promise to his friend. But it’s a damn odd arrangement—a platonic Dom/sub relationship. With her fiery auburn hair, sparkling green eyes, and audacious spirit, Jessi captured his attention the first time he ever saw her. At her husband’s funeral.

A man could go to hell for the things he’s been thinking. But they’ve drawn a line, and he’s going to stick to it.

Judd’s sexy good looks and his gentle confidence aren’t lost on Jessi. She’s torn between loyalty to the man she loved, and desire for the man increasingly in her fantasies. In the letter Graham left for her, he mentioned that she might find Judd attractive. But that’s simply ridiculous. He’s five years younger than she is. He couldn’t possibly be interested in her. Could he?

Judd’s a Dom without a sub, and Jessi’s a sub without a Dom. It’s perfect for the time being. Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary solution?

And could it all end at the hands of a madman?

It was 9:30 on Saturday morning when Judd pulled up in front of Jessi’s house in his beat-up F-150. His main focus today was to fix the driveway gate that opened onto the street. It had apparently been rusted open for the last few years.

That was his main focus. Then there was the other thing. He rolled his eyes and tried to mentally prepare himself for Jessi’s reaction. He breathed out sharply. “Here goes nothing,” he muttered.

It was about half an hour later that Jessi glanced out her front window and noticed Judd on a ladder at the end of her driveway.

“What the…?” She marched out the front door and down the driveway.

“Excuse me,” she said, feeling like she was stuck in a time warp to the previous week. At least she hadn’t awakened on the pool deck. And a quick glance down confirmed that she was indeed dressed.

“Good morning, Jessi,” Judd answered, swinging down off the ladder. He couldn’t help noticing that she looked much more put together today, dressed in a green sleeveless top and jeans that fit oh, so right, her auburn hair shining in the sun. “It’s a beautiful day. You look nice, all dressed and everything.” He grinned at her.

“Yes, well, be that as it may,” she said blushing. “Is this supposed to be an ‘every Saturday’ kind of thing?”

“No, not every Saturday.” He shook his head. “I’m working next Saturday so I’ll be here on Friday next week.”

Jessi crossed her arms in front of her. “Look. Judd. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful. But I’m just not comfortable with you being over here, working on my property like this.”

He squinted at her thoughtfully. “Not comfortable. Why not?”

His question surprised her. “Well…just…because,” she spluttered.

His grin was accompanied by a twinkle of amusement in his brown eyes. “No worries, Jessi. I’ll be finished with your gate soon.” As he turned to climb the ladder again, there was a small yipping sound from around the hedge.

Curious, Jessi moved closer. In a small grey plastic corral made of some kind of toddler barrier, a brown and white puppy with long floppy ears looked up at Jessi, tail wagging furiously.

“Well, hello there, cutie,” she said. Glancing up at Judd she said, “You brought your dog?”

Judd climbed back down again. “It’s kind of complicated,” he said. He reached in and lifted the puppy out of the corral, cradling him in his arms. “Look at this face,” he cooed to the puppy.

He turned to Jessi. “A friend of mine called me from the animal shelter, said they had a litter of beagle puppies that needed homes. When I got down there, this little guy was the only one left. If I didn’t take him, they were going to have to put him down.”

Jessi looked at him, aghast. “I know,” he agreed to her silent protest. “I had to take him. The only thing is,” he looked at her with soft brown eyes, “I work twenty-four hour shifts at the station, sometimes back to back. I can’t take care of a puppy.”

“At the station?”

“Fire station. I’m a paramedic.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that.”

“Anyway, I was sort of hoping…” He looked at her meaningfully.

Jessi raised a hand in front of her. “Oh, no, no way. I can’t have a puppy.”

Friendly smile in place, he handed off the puppy to her quickly and went back up the ladder. “Why not?”

She hugged the dog to her chest and swayed as if he were an infant. “Well, just…I can’t, that’s all.”

“Why not? You work regular hours, right? You have enough room for him.” Judd glanced down at her. “If you can’t, I’ll have to take him back to the shelter and they’ll put him down.”

Jessi looked back down at the puppy and he licked her chin. “Well, nobody’s going to put you down. He can stay.” She looked back up at Judd. “For now. But remember, he’s yours. What’s his name, anyway?”

Judd grinned. “Buddy. His name is Buddy.”

“Well come on, Buddy. Let’s see if we can find you something to eat,” Jessi cooed as she made her way back into the house.

“I’ve got some puppy kibble in my truck. I’ll bring it to your door when I finish with the gate.” Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her walk away making baby talk to the puppy.

He laughed to himself. That was not as hard as I thought it would be.

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

FOR SPARROW by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE

They say desperate times call for desperate measures.
Charley Weatherly is about to realize that it’s true.

Life isn’t working out exactly the way Charley Weatherly imagined it might when she walked away from her steady paycheck as a copywriter to start her own business. But as it turns out, not everyone in town is knocking down the door of her tiny independent bookshop. She has lost money every quarter since she opened.

Now, with her grandmother in need of more care than Charley can provide, some difficult decisions have to be made. The rest of her 401k plus the proceeds from selling the bookstore might keep Nana in Pacifico Manor for about a year. That would give Charley time to figure out her next move.

But when that money is irretrievably lost, Charley is faced with an impossible decision. Being a gestational surrogate for a couple who can’t have a baby on their own will bring in the kind of cash she needs. Can she really follow through?

Between trying to keep her small business afloat and caring for her grandmother, Charley’s personal life has been nonexistent. But when she moves to the city for a few months, she finds she enjoys the freedom of her part-time gig at Bravo Java. She especially enjoys chatting up the handsome local artist who spends his mornings there. Now that her life is taking an unexpected turn, has she finally met the right man at the wrong time?

Artist Ben Campbell has had his fair share of romantic disasters. For the time being, he’s content to follow his self-imposed schedule: gym, coffee, work, repeat.

But the new barista at his favorite coffee shop piques his interest. In fact, if he’s honest with himself, she looks a lot like the elusive redhead who haunts his dreams.

She seems to be attracted to him, too. So why does Charley insist on keeping him at arm’s length?

Prefer your romance with plenty of heat and tons of heart?
You’ll love The Girl in the Guesthouse!

Here’s an exclusive new (unedited) excerpt from THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE.

With a satisfied sigh, Ben stood in the window of his hotel suite and gazed down at the once-bare brick wall across the street. Raising a cold Corona from the mini-bar, he toasted his nearly completed work. One more day would do it, he reflected. And the day after that, he’d endure Darla Huntington’s splashy unveiling party, then he’d be heading down to Austin for the photoshoot.

Sipping his beer, he sighed again, ready to be finished with all of it and on his way to Bluebell and the sanctuary of his mother’s farm. His lips quirked a bit and he shook his head. That wasn’t really what he longed for, either. 

Seventeen hundred miles away was where his heart was. Tucked away in a tiny guesthouse in Pacific Heights. He wondered what Charley might be doing at that moment.

Retrieving his phone from his back pocket, he glanced at the time. It was 11:30 in Dallas, but that made it only 9:30 on the West Coast. Enjoying the flutter in his stomach, he clicked Charley’s name and lifted the device to his ear.

“Hey there,” Charley answered softly. “How are you?”

“Hey there, yourself,” Ben smiled. “Sorry it’s so late. Did I wake you?”

“No, I’m all cozy in bed reading a trashy romance novel,” she laughed. “It’s not my usual taste, but I couldn’t resist the cover. It’s really awful in the best possible way.”

Ben laughed too. “I don’t think I even want to ask.”

“No. You definitely don’t. So how was your day?”

“It was great. I’ll spend tomorrow tying up all the loose ends and it will be finished. Did you see the pictures?” He had posted three different angles of the mural on Instagram just before he left for the evening.

“I did. I may be as big a stalker as Gina,” Charley teased.

“Ha! I don’t think that’s possible,” Ben laughed again. “Although there’s a lady here who might be a serious contender.”

“Really? Who?”

Instantly sorry he had opened that particular can of worms, Ben realized he had no choice other than to elaborate. “Oh, the lady who nominated me for this mural seems to have maybe had some ulterior motives.”

“Ulterior motives? How so?”

Ben shoved his free hand into his pocket and paced the length of the hotel room. “I don’t know,” he shrugged for the benefit of the empty room, “she keeps trying to get me by myself, go for drinks or something. Makes me seriously question how I ended up getting this honor in the first place.”

“Don’t be silly. You’re very talented. Ms. Sexual Harrassment might have nominated you, but the entire committee decided you were the one for the job.” Charley’s tone was decidedly protective.

Ben felt the flutter again and he smiled. “I guess you’re right.”

“Of course, I am. You’ll learn this about me; I’m always right.”

Laughing with Charley was the best thing Ben had done all day. Maybe in several days. His mind skipped to another thought. “Hey, I was thinking I might bring you a prize from Texas. I’ve been looking around a little. They have Dallas Cowboys stuff everywhere, but not everyone is a Cowboys fan.”

“You don’t need to bring me anything. Besides, I’ve never really followed basketball, so I’m sure I don’t need any Cowboys stuff.”

“Well, the Cowboys play football, so there’s that,” Ben chuckled.

“I know. I just like saying stuff like that to annoy dudes. It’s kind of a hobby.”

Laughing harder, Ben shook his head to himself. “Is that right? I’ll have to make a note. But seriously, what can I bring you?”

“Besides yourself? Nothing. There’s nothing in the world that I need.”

“Nothing at all?”

He heard her laugh on the other end of the phone. “Nothing. But if you insist on bringing something, make sure it’s extra cheesy.”

“Extra cheesy. Okay. I guess I have my work cut out for me.”

THE GIRL IN THE GUESTHOUSE by Pandora Spocks

Reserve your copy now for just 99¢!
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Weekend Excerpt–Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Rannigan sees the writing on the wall.
And he’s determined to find redemption. 

Michael knows he’s spent his life keeping everyone at arm’s length. He’s burned bridges and destroyed friendships, leaving a path of destruction in his wake. But he thinks he’s found a way to make things right. At least for the one person who’s never given up on him.

Maggie Flynn’s life is changing quickly. Just when she’s decided make work her focus and to be content with being single, she has a new man in her life. Thanks to Michael and his interference, anyway.

Bobby is almost too good to be true, with his tall good looks, his sexy Cajun accent, and his irresistible lop-sided smile. He’s head over heels for Maggie. She knows she’s found the real thing.

Together, can they face the biggest challenge they’ve ever endured?

In this scene from the third book in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy, Bobby and Maggie head to his family home in Louisiana to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Beaulieu family.

Bobby gazed at Maggie across the table in the first-class lounge of the Atlanta airport.  It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and they’d decided to have dinner during their two-hour layover halfway to Louisiana.  “I’m so sorry I was impatient with you, cher.”

            Maggie smiled sadly.  “You’ve already apologized.  Several times.  And I get it.  I never want to put you last.”

            He looked down, frowning.  “You don’t.  I was wrong to say it.  You work your ass off at your job, and then take on caring for a sick friend.  And on top of that, you have this overbearing, insecure boyfriend who makes everything harder.”

            “You know I love you.  I don’t want you to question that.”  She sighed deeply.  “I just hate it when we fight.”

            “We weren’t fighting,” he said, grinning wryly.  “We were just discussing divergent opinions.”

            Maggie laughed softly.  “Yes, well…  With Veronica there to keep Michael company, I won’t worry about him being alone.”

            “Whatever it took for you to be able to come home with me, I’m glad you’re here,” he said, lifting her hand to his lips and leaving a gentle kiss there.

**

            They arrived at the Beaulieu’s home after eight o’clock that night, having driven from the airport in the silver pickup truck Bobby had reserved at the rental agency. 

“A truck?” Maggie had questioned.  Bobby had just winked at her.

            Jerilyn chased Savannah who bounded out of the house as they pulled up into the circular driveway.  “Daddy!” cried the child as she threw herself into Bobby’s arms.

            “Well hey there, June bug,” he said, hugging his daughter tightly.  “Look who I brought with me.  You remember Maggie, don’t you?”

            “Welcome, cher,” Jerilyn said as she wrapped Maggie in a huge hug.  “Come on in.  Are y’all hungry?”

            “I’m always hungry,” laughed Bobby.  He put Savannah on the ground.  “Come on, you can help us get our bags.”

            “This is such a beautiful home,” Maggie told Bobby’s mother.

            “Why, thank you, hon,” she smiled.  “Of course, you know Bobby had it built for us when he signed his first contract with the majors.”

            Maggie’s eyes widened, and she looked to Bobby who seemed uncomfortable.  “No.  I didn’t know that.”

            “Ro-bert, y’all are up in your room,” Jerilyn tossed over her shoulder as she headed back into the house.  “Get freshened up and come on down to the kitchen.”

            With Bobby leading the way, Savannah carried Maggie’s cosmetic case and Maggie followed with her suitcase as they went upstairs.  They traveled down a long hallway to a bedroom on the back of the house with a huge bay window overlooking the marsh beyond the expansive lawn. 

            “Okay, sweetie,” Bobby said to Savannah, “how about you go help Nana in the kitchen and we’ll be right there.”

            “Okay, Daddy,” the little girl said.  “Are you coming downstairs, Maggie?”

            Maggie smiled.  “I sure am.  I’ll see you in just a minute.”

            “You can sit by me,” Savannah said as she left the room, closing the door behind her.

            Bobby pulled Maggie to him and held her for a moment, kissing her neck.  “Thank you so much for coming home with me, cher,” he murmured against her neck.

            “I’m happy to be here,” she said.  “I’m surprised your mom has us sharing a room, though.”  He looked at her quizzically.  “I just figured we’d be in separate rooms, that’s all,” she shrugged.

            “You realize, cher,” he arched an eyebrow, “they know we have sex.”  He whispered the last three words, and Maggie blushed furiously while he chuckled.  “You’re so pretty when your face is pink.”

            Thursday was a blur of activity at the Beaulieu home.  Bobby’s sisters and their families arrived throughout the morning beginning around seven o’clock.  One by one, Maggie was introduced to them, and she made a concerted effort to remember everyone’s names and at least which kids belonged to which adults, if not the names of the kids.  She happily pitched in with the preparations in the kitchen while Bobby worked outside to set up the large outdoor fryer in which the turkey would be cooked. 

            “Have you ever had deep-fried turkey, Maggie?” asked Bobby’s sister Jenny.

            Maggie shook her head.  “I never have, but I’ve always wanted to try it.”

            “You should go outside and watch,” youngest sister Nancy told her.

            Taking a beer from the giant ice-filled galvanized tub on the back deck, Maggie walked down the steps to the area on the end of the driveway where Bobby and his father had set up the fryer on its sturdy platform.  The other men were keeping an eye on the kids playing behind the house. 

            “If it’s not the prettiest girl I know,” Bobby said, smiling.  “And she brought me a beer.”  He took it from her and kissed her cheek.  “How are you doing, cher?”

            “I’m great!  I came to see the turkey fry.”

            “Once you have it fried, you’ll never go back to roasted,” Justin told her with a wink.

            The holiday dinner around the family table was a raucous affair.  Following the grace, the passing of heaping platters and bowls was accompanied by loud conversation punctuated by frequent laughter.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Maggie sat back and took it all in.  Bobby rested his free hand on her thigh and grinned at her reassuringly from time to time.

            “Well, what do you think, Maggie?”  Bobby’s oldest sister Michelle smiled kindly.  “Are you coming back for Christmas or have we scared you off?”

            “Oh, well,” Maggie began, “actually I have a gathering at my place every Christmas.  It’s sort of affectionately known as the Orphans and Misfits Christmas.”

            “Being without family, Maggie invites her friends who don’t have anybody either.  She makes sure that nobody’s alone on Christmas,” Bobby elaborated proudly.

            “Well, she has family now,” Bobby’s sister Renée said, and Maggie blushed as threatened tears stung her eyes.

            Later that evening, after the kitchen had been thoroughly cleaned and leftovers had been packed away, the five Beaulieu daughters along with their husbands and children said their goodnights and went their separate ways. 

Suddenly the house seemed empty and quiet.  Jerilyn and Justin retired to the den to watch a holiday movie on television and Bobby put Savannah to bed, but not without a song from Maggie.

            Pulling Savannah’s door closed, Bobby winked at Maggie.  “Now, cher, there’s something I want to show you.”

            Ten minutes later they were driving away from the house in the rented pickup truck, country music playing softly on the radio.  “You want to show me something we have to drive to?” Maggie asked.

            His smile said he was pleased with himself.  “It’s not too far.”

            Soon they were driving in an older neighborhood populated with small family homes set closely together.  Most were well-kept, and a few had apparently used the holiday to get a jump on setting out their Christmas decorations.  Maggie smiled out the window at wicker reindeer lit with twinkling white lights, inflated Santas and other cartoon characters lit from within, and roofs outlined in sparkling icicle lights. 

            Bobby pulled to a stop in front of a nondescript split level with brick on the bottom and white clapboard on the top.  Black shutters framed the three visible windows.  A large tree stood in the front, skeletal in the cool fall air.  Maggie looked back to Bobby questioningly.

            “This is the home where I grew up,” he said quietly.  He looked at Maggie.  “We were happy here.  Crowded, because there are only three bedrooms and a bath and a half, but we were happy.” 

He smiled as he looked out across the brown lawn.  “See that tree right there?  It’s a maple.  I planted it from a seed when I was about five.  Savannah’s age now,” he reflected.

            Maggie smiled too, envisioning five-year-old Bobby slowing down long enough to plant a seed in a paper cup.  “Your mom said that you built their house.”

            Bobby gazed down at his hands on the steering wheel.  “My dad worked on the off-shore oil rigs, was gone for months at a time.  Maman taught school.  We never had two nickels to rub together, and they worked so hard, both of them.  We never lacked anything we needed, but it was always tight.  Then Pop got hurt and couldn’t work anymore.” 

            He looked back to Maggie, his eyes shining.  “They always sacrificed so much for all of us.  I didn’t want them to ever worry about their home.  And I figured, hell, might as well make it big enough for everybody.” Bobby laughed lightly.

            Maggie smiled at him proudly.  “You’re a good son.  A good man.”  She slid across the bench seat and leaned up to kiss him deeply.  Leaning back, she said, “Thank you for showing me this.”             He sighed.  “I just want you to know who I am, where I come from.” 

RANSOMING REDEMPTION by Pandora Spocks

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

But you might want to start at the beginning
with Amazon #1 Bestseller, RESISTING RISK.
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–CHASING ORDINARY

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

Red-haired Petey Cavanaugh is a sculptor who welds steel and glass creations. A young widow, she lives on her in-laws’ sheep ranch in Montana where she helps out during the day, working on her art at night.

Looking to raise money to expand the ranch’s business, she gratefully accepts her art school roommate’s offer of a gallery show in Manhattan. It’s been years since she was in the city, and she’s happy to visit her old friend.

Nik is in New York on business. He’s been traveling for nearly a month, enduring endless meetings, attending obligatory dinners, and battling jet lag. On his way to yet another business dinner, his world collides with Petey’s one rainy Manhattan night.

Their mutual attraction is immediate, but Nik’s skeptical. Could it possibly be that this gorgeous, enchanting artist has no idea that he’s Europe’s most eligible prince?

Spending time with Petey is Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary. What will happen when she finds out the truth?

Love a fairytale royal with a happily-ever-after? You’ll love CHASING ORDINARY.

Here’s a teaser.

The moment Petey closed the apartment door behind herself, she burst into hot tears. Jules, who had been relaxing in the living room with her Kindle, immediately jumped up and came over to her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, reaching for her hand.

“I’m just so…fucking stupid,” Petey growled through her tears.

“But what happened?” Jules frowned deeply. “Did Nik hurt you? Because I will kick his ass!”

Petey was crying too hard to answer, so Jules put an arm around her and led her to the kitchen counter. While Petey settled onto a stool and continued to sob, Jules poured them both a shot of Cuervo Silver. “Here,” she said, handing a glass to Petey, “suck this down and tell me exactly what happened.”

Sniffling, Petey tossed back the tequila and coughed as it hit her throat. Jules downed hers quickly and repoured for both of them. “So talk,” she urged her friend.

“H-he lied to me,” Petey stuttered, trying to calm her voice.

Jules gasped. “He’s married! That son of a bitch.”

Petey shook her head miserably. “No. That’s not it. He told me he was in international business.”

“And he’s not?” Jules asked.

“No! He’s the fucking prince of Beruvia!” Petey’s tears started anew.

Jules blinked. “He’s the prince of Beruvia? Nik?” She shook her head. “Pete, that doesn’t even make sense. The prince of Beruvia is Prince Stefan. He’s all over the tabloids all the time. Here, I’ll show you.”

Cueing up Google Images on her phone, she chose a headshot of a handsome blonde man with stormy blue eyes, and she held it up to Petey.

“Hon, this is Prince Stefan of Beruvia.”

Petey peered at the image and bawled anew. “I know! He lied to me!”

Realization began to dawn on Jules. “This? This is your Nik?” Her eyes widened. “You fucked the prince of Beruvia in my guest room?”

She watched as Petey crossed her arms on the counter and rested her head on them, her back shuddering with sobs. Jules rubbed her back soothingly. “Petey, seriously, how did you not know he was a prince? I mean, everybody knows who he is. He’s like, Europe’s most eligible divorcé.”

Petey raised up her head slightly to scowl at Jules. “Well, thanks, because I wasn’t feeling stupid enough already.”

Jules shook her head and gazed out over the living room. “Geez, Pete, he’s always in the tabloids and on the gossip shows.”

“I live on a sheep ranch. In my spare time, which is precious little, I work on my sculptures. I don’t have time or patience for stupid celebrity gossip.”

“So how did you find out?” Jules wondered.

Petey, calmer now, sat up and swiped at her face with her hands. “We were jumped by a bunch of photographers outside of Paddy’s. Nik’s—” She paused, scowling. “Whoever’s people, they pushed us into a car and drove us away.”

“Paparazzi?” Jules glanced at Petey. “You realize you’re probably online right now.”

“Stop it!” Petey gasped.

Pushing away from the kitchen counter, Jules padded into her bedroom and retrieved her laptop. She returned to the counter and fired up the device. “Let’s see,” she murmured.

Watching over her friend’s shoulder, Petey watched as Jules entered Prince Stefan into the search bar. Immediately images of the man who’d introduced himself as ‘Nik’ filled the screen. Jules refined the search to ‘most recent’ and there she was, Petey Cavanaugh, gaping wide-eyed as she and Nik were pushed into the back of a black Mercedes.

“Motherfucker,” Petey breathed.

From deep within her purse, her phone began to ring. Jules glanced at her. “Are you going to get that?”

Petey shook her head. “It’s probably him.”

The ringing continued. Jules pursed her lips. “I think you should get it.”

“I’m not answering,” Petey said, crossing her arms defiantly.

“Then I’m going to get it.” Grasping Petey’s bag from the floor where she’d dropped it, Jules rooted around until she found the device. She showed Nik’s image to Petey before swiping to unlock the phone. “Hello?”

“Oh, thank God, Petey, I’m so sorry. Please allow me to explain,” pleaded a deep voice with a British accent.

“No, this isn’t Petey, this is Jules. Petey’s very upset. She doesn’t feel up to talking right now.” Quietly, Jules pressed the button for ‘speaker’.

“I beg your pardon,” replied the voice. “I know she’s upset, and I know she feels that I deceived her, but I need to explain everything. Is there any way she’ll talk to me?”

Jules looked to Petey, who flashed double middle fingers and mouthed a silent, “Fuck you!”

She frowned into the phone, “Yeah, Nik, that’s not looking too good right now. Tell you what, give me a few minutes and I’ll see what I can do.”

Jules watched as Petey stalked to her bag, dug around, and produced a small notebook and a pencil. She couldn’t quite make out what she was sketching on the paper, but the pencil flew.

The relief in his voice was palpable. “Jules, I’d so appreciate your help. I know she may not forgive me, but I have to at least have the chance to explain.”

“I’m not making any promises, but I’ll try to talk to her. I’ll call you back soon,” Jules promised, before disconnecting.

While Jules was finishing her conversation with Nik, Petey put down her paper and pencil, and busied herself searching the internet for more on the enigmatic Nik/Prince Stefan. Clicking a link, she waited for a news item to pop up. When it did seconds later, she gasped, clapping a hand over her mouth.

Filling the screen was one of the series of images snapped between the back door of the pub and Nik’s car. She wondered how many frames could be snapped in the span of half a second. She stared, absorbing the photo. In the still frame, Nik was in profile, facing her as he held onto her hand. Her own face was turned full into the camera, her expression, stunned.

But it was the headline over the photograph that stopped her heart.

Prince Stefan’s New Bimbo!

“Oh, my God!” She turned to Jules. “My family is going to see this.”

Jules took a look and whistled softly. “Wow. That’s…harsh.”

Petey buried her face in her hands. “What am I going to do, Julesy?”

“I don’t know, sweetie,” Jules murmured, wrapping her arms around her friend. “I mean, maybe you should give him a chance.”

Petey whipped up her head. “Are you kidding? He lied to me. He made a fool out of me.” She chewed her lip pensively. “He’s probably laughing at me right now, him and all his…entourage.”

“He didn’t sound like he was laughing, Pete. He sounded miserable,” Jules pointed out. “Let’s look at something.” Turning the laptop towards herself, Jules tapped a few keys.

“Now, let’s see what we find…” She’d pulled up the Wikipedia page for Prince Stefan of Beruvia. “It says here that his full name is Nikolai Stefan Torbjorn von Bahr.” She laughed lightly. “That’s a mouthful. But see, his first name is Nikolai. Nik is his real name.”

Reluctantly, Petey peered over Jules’ shoulder.

“It says that he’s the second son of the King and Queen of Beruvia. He has an older brother…” She paused, reading silently. “Here it is, Eirik Magnus Otto von Bahr, known as Prince Magnus…” She skimmed further. “Oh, who died seven years ago in a boating accident.”

“He told me about that,” Petey murmured.

“Petey, I’ve got to be honest with you. Everything he told you seems to be true. He just neglected to tell you about the whole prince thing. You need to at least give the man the chance to explain.”

“He made a fool out of me, Jules.” Petey shook her head adamantly. “Besides,” she said reasonably, “You know me. I spend my days up to here in sheep shit. What the hell would I do with a prince?”

“You were okay with him when you thought he was a rich businessman,” Jules pointed out.

“Well, I wasn’t comfortable with it. With his fancy dinners and his helicopters. Which is why, for today, I planned all sorts of normal things.”

“What did you guys do today? Before all hell broke loose?”

Petey sighed deeply. “We went to the park and had a little picnic. We watched a Little League game. We got dinner from a food truck. Then we were having pints at Paddy’s when we had to leave.”

“And you had a good time.”

“We had a great time.”

“And you planned to spend the night with him.” Jules folded her arms across her chest.

“Well, yeah, before,” Petey admitted.

“So, when Nik was just a businessman, you were okay with him, but now that he’s a prince, you don’t want anything to do with him.”

“Of course not. The whole…prince thing. It’s too ridiculous for words.”

“Then you, my friend, are a snob.”

Petey gasped. “I am not a snob. You take that back!”

“I won’t take it back,” Jules shrugged. “If you won’t go out with a guy, based on what he does for a living, that makes you a snob.”

“That’s just…absurd,” Petey sputtered. “There is no way I am a snob.”

“Then prove it. Give Nik a chance to tell you his side of this thing.”

Petey nodded angrily. “You don’t think I will, do you? You think I’m a snob. That’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard. I’m a snob.” She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Please!”

“So just give him a call then,” Jules dared her, pushing Petey’s phone across the kitchen counter.

“Just give him a call,” Petey muttered. “Okay, I’ll do it, if only to prove to you that I am not,” she jabbed her finger at Jules, “a snob.”

Snatching the device from the counter, she swiped it open and stabbed in Nik’s number.

It rang exactly once before he picked up. “Hello, Jules?” he answered anxiously.

“No, it’s me,” Petey replied flatly.

“Oh, thank God, Petey, I need to tell you—”

“Shut up!” she snapped. “I agreed to call you just to prove to my good friend,” she glared at Jules, “that I am not a snob.”

“I’m glad to hear your voice under any circumstance. Please, I need to talk to you in person. I have to make things right.” His voice was desperate. Earnest. “Can you come over? I’ll send a car right away.”

“I’m not going anywhere tonight,” she said defiantly. “It’s late, and I’m about to get shitfaced until I pass out. When I’m conscious tomorrow, I’ll give you a call.”

CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks

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

Weekend Excerpt–LOST & BOUND

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

Blake Walker is no stranger to tragedy. Immediately following a horrific event years earlier, he was lost for a while until he embraced his Dominant nature and found his true calling. But things change and now he’s back where he started, helping to run his family’s secluded lake lodge.


When pampered Hollywood starlet Shasta Pyke gets into trouble with the law, she’s sent to the wilderness of northern Ontario to cool her heels for a few weeks. There she meets sexy bush pilot Blake, who is tasked with seeing to her needs as the sole guest at the lodge.


Initially, Blake isn’t impressed with the spoiled actress, but he’s happy that her visit allows for his sister Jackie and her kids to go on a much-needed vacation. Try as he might, he can’t figure out what the hell Shasta Pyke is doing so far out of her element.


Shasta’s attracted to Blake’s obvious good looks, but there’s more to him than that. He sees through her armor to the vulnerable little girl she hides from the world. The Daddy Dominant in him craves to shelter her, to make her his own.


Is there any way Shasta will agree to submit to Blake’s Dominance?

Here’s a little teaser from LOST & BOUND.

When Shasta finally woke up the following morning, she felt worlds better. And she was famished. Donning a pair of jeans, a Joan Jett t-shirt, and a hot pink hoodie, she made her way once again to the kitchen cabinets. She moved around a few boxes and jars as she looked through the provisions, finding a thin rectangular blue box. Macaroni and cheese. A slow smile spread across her face.

Many years ago, she’d done a commercial for the stuff. Of course, when you make a commercial, you can’t actually eat the product. After every take, she’d been required to spit it into a bucket. But it had tasted good, and when she’d told her grandfather about it, he’d made her a box of her very own. She remembered it being one of the best things she’d ever tasted.

Shasta wasn’t a cook. She couldn’t remember ever cooking anything for herself beyond warming up left-over pizza. Turning over the box, she quickly read the instructions. “How hard can this be?”

Following the directions step by step, she lit the stovetop and put a pot of water on to boil. Unsure if she could cook with the lake water, she used the spring water just to be on the safe side, realizing that she’d have to make a trip to the spring sooner than she’d anticipated.

When the allotted time had elapsed, she drained the macaroni and stirred in the milk and butter from the tiny fridge. Then she tore open the foil packet and poured it over the mixture. “Orange powder? What the hell?”

She stirred and stirred until most of the lumps had disappeared, then sat down at the table to eat right out of the pot. She took her first bite and her eyes rolled back in her head. “Oh, my God, this is so good!” she moaned around a mouthful.

After she’d eaten as much as she wanted, she put the rest into a plastic container she found and placed it in the fridge. Holding the empty pot, she looked around for the best way to clean it. She finally settled on filling it with lake water and putting in back on to boil, dripping a few drops of dishwashing liquid into it for good measure.

When the pot was cleaned, dried, and returned to its hook on the wall, Shasta stripped out of the hoodie and wandered outside. The sun was bright overhead and the sky was a brilliant blue. She closed her eyes and listened to the breeze rustling in the tops of the trees, breathing in the scent of pine straw warmed by the sun. Opening her eyes, she shook her head. Under different circumstances, this would be an amazingly beautiful place.

Carefully, she picked her way down the slope to the dock and walked to the edge. The water was crystal clear and she could see huge boulders and the ghosts of long-ago fallen trees resting on the bottom of the lake. A light breeze rippled the water in a mesmerizing way, and she stood for a moment feeling a sense of peace settling over her.

When she looked up, she saw movement across the lake. Someone was walking along the water’s edge. Blake. Has to be. Everyone else left yesterday. He stopped and seemed to be looking her way. She sighed, remembering their last exchange, when she’d screamed and thrown a rock at him. “Sometimes, you are such an idiot,” she muttered to herself.

She watched him for a moment, watched him watching her. She wished he would come over. Shouldn’t he check on me? I’m a guest. The only guest right now. I mean, what if I needed something?

She sat on the dock, removed her shoes, and rolled up the legs of her jeans, dangling her feet in the cool of the lake. The sun was hot and the water felt good. She realized that once again, she’d failed to get her solar shower going. There probably wasn’t enough time for the water to heat up now.

Of course, I could always go for a swim. It would do until I can get the hang of this shower thing. She grinned mischievously in Blake’s direction. Maybe she could entice him to come over.

Giving an exaggerated stretch, she pulled the t-shirt up over her head and dropped it on the dock. Then she stood, shimmying out of the jeans, placing them on top of the shirt. She flicked a quick glance back across to water to make sure he was still watching and turned to reach behind her and unhook her bra.

Topless, she turned back towards the lodge. Blake was still there. Slowly, she hooked her thumbs into the top of her white lace panties and slid them down her legs, kicking them off to rest with her other clothes.

At the edge of the dock, she paused to smooth her fingers through her hair before executing a shallow dive, surfacing a dozen yards from the dock. Treading water, she turned herself toward the lodge. Blake was walking away from the lake in the direction of the main lodge.

“Well, shit,” she muttered to herself. “Maybe he’s gay.”

She swam until she felt cool and clean, then climbed back onto the dock. The sun felt good on her skin, so she stretched out on her back and dozed.

***

Blake woke up that morning feeling slightly guilty for not checking in on Shasta the previous day. It was odd that she hadn’t had lights on since she’d arrived. He couldn’t shake the feeling that she was trying to play him, though. He figured he’d get on with a few of his chores and keep an eye out for her. He could always head over in the afternoon if he still didn’t see any sign of her on the island.

He busied himself with checking the guest cabins, making notes of repairs he could begin making over the next few weeks. He’d just finished with the last cabin and was thinking about stopping for lunch when he glanced across the lake and saw her. She was standing on the dock apparently watching the water. Immediately, he felt a sense of relief. At least she hadn’t asphyxiated herself in the night.

Making his way towards his cabin, he took the route along the edge of the lake rather than the central path. Now she was sitting on the dock, with her feet in the water. He stopped to watch her, wondering what she’d been doing up until now.

Maybe trying to rig her phone to work, he chuckled to himself. He realized she’d noticed him and thought to wave, but at that moment she stood and removed her top. Then she performed a striptease, dropping her clothing item by item onto the dock. Even from this distance, he could appreciate the curves of her tits and hips, offset by her narrow waist. Dumbfounded, he watched as she wiggled out of her panties and paused seductively on the edge of the dock before plunging into the water.

He shook his head, willing his cock to go back to sleep. Nope, I’m not biting, princess. He turned and made his way back to his place.

LOST & BOUND by Pandora Spocks

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