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

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

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

As a teaser, here’s the first chapter…

I buried my husband today.

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

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

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

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

I buried my husband today.

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

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

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

Since that day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can we get you something to eat?”

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

I buried my husband today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jessica, I’m Harriet.  From church?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.  Did you work with him?”

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

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

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

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

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

She nodded and went to find her children.

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

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW Has Big News!

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

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

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

Here’s a little snippet from FOR SPARROW.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sorry.  That’s sad, I think.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judd grinned.  “You were a teacher?”

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

“How is your business doing?”

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

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

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

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

Jessi laughed lightly.  “Go, Gators!”

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

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

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

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

“How did you know…“

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

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

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

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

Jessi nodded, frowning.

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

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

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

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

“Howley’s,” Jessi repeated.

Judd grinned wryly.  “Cooked in sight…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

For Sparrow.

Jessi’s eyes filled with tears.

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

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