Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband Graham dies unexpectedly, she’s devastated.  She’s lost her husband, best friend, father of her grown children…and her Dominant.

But it turns out that Graham had an inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protege in the BDSM lifestyle, firefighter paramedic Judd Farris, to be the one to look after Jessi, at least until she finds her footing again.

But a platonic Dom/sub relationship is a damn odd arrangement.  Jessi finds herself increasingly attracted to Judd.  He’s determined to keep his promise to his friend.  Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary arrangement?

Here’s a sneak peek from FOR SPARROW.

In the quiet of the morning, Jessi poured herself a cup of coffee and sipped carefully.  The kids were still asleep, a fact that didn’t surprise her in the least.  Glancing at the clock on the stove, she figured she’d give them another hour or so before she tried to tempt them awake with the smell of homemade waffles.

She heard the slam of a car door out front.  That, combined with Buddy’s beeline to the front door, let her know that Judd had arrived.  Smiling to herself, she carried her coffee with her, opening the door to let Buddy tear across the lawn to greet his favorite human.

Judd set down his tool box and stooped to ruffle the puppy’s ears, then stood, grinning broadly.  “Good morning, Jessi!”

She felt herself grinning back.  “Hi, there.  How are you this morning?”

“I’m great.  Am I too early?”  He frowned slightly.

“Not for me, you’re not.  The kids are all still asleep.  Can I get you some coffee?”

He nodded.  “Coffee sounds great, actually.”

Judd followed Jessi into the kitchen and stood leaning against the center island.  “So everybody got in okay?”

“They did.  We didn’t get to bed until after 1:00,” she handed him a light blue mug of steaming coffee, “but I woke up about 7:00 and couldn’t sleep anymore.”

He accepted the mug and sipped gratefully.  “This is good.”

She smiled at him.  “I’m planning on making waffles for breakfast.  Are you hungry?”

Judd’s eyes widened.  “Waffles?  I had a granola bar on my way over, but there’s no way I’d pass up homemade waffles.”

Jessi patted the counter.  “Have a seat, then.  Waffles are coming right up.”

Judd sank onto one of the high stools and sipped his coffee, watching Jessi expertly measuring ingredients into a large yellow mixing bowl.  Soon the aroma of freshly cooked waffles filled the kitchen.

“There you are,” said Jessi, sliding a pair of crispy golden waffles in front of him.  “Syrup?  I have maple and strawberry.”

“Oh, man, I’m never going to get to that pool pump today.”  He laughed as he lifted the bottle of maple syrup and poured a generous helping all over his breakfast.

Jessi sat with him and nibbled on a waffle of her own as they chatted amiably about their week.  Soon enough, Judd was finished.

“That was delicious,” he said, carrying his plate to the sink, where he rinsed it and placed it in the dishwasher.  “Thank you!”

Jessi blushed slightly.  “Oh, it’s just waffles, but I’m glad you liked them.”

“I did.  Very much.”  He held her gaze for a moment.  “Well, off to the pool pump, then.”

“Thanks so much, Judd.  I’ll send Adam out there after he eats.”

From the back door, Judd waved, and headed out to the pool deck.

Jessi stood watching him through the window, Buddy snuffling around his feet as he set to work.  She smiled to herself, happy to have Judd there at her house.

“Ummm, what smells so good?”

She turned at the sleepy voice of her son.  “Good morning, sweetie.”  Crossing the kitchen, she hugged him tightly, kissing his cheek.  “Are you hungry?”

“For your famous waffles?  Always!”  Adam claimed the stool recently vacated by Judd.

As Jessi ladled more batter onto the waffle iron, Adam’s brow furrowed.  “Um, Mom?  There’s a guy out by the pool.”

She glanced out the window.  “Oh, that’s Judd.  He’s working on the pool pump.  I told him you could help him in a while.”

“Sure,” he shrugged, taking a bite of his breakfast.

Cara came down the stairs followed closely by Trevor.  Both were dressed in shorts and casual shirts, ready for the day.

“Good morning, you two.  Did you sleep okay?” Jessi asked, dropping more batter onto the hot appliance.

“Hi, Mommy,” Cara murmured as she sank onto a stool beside her brother.  She yawned sleepily.

“I slept great, Mrs. Crenshaw, thanks.  And something smells delicious,” Trevor added as he sat beside Cara.

“Good, I’m glad.  I thought I’d do a homemade breakfast this morning.  Maybe we can go to brunch tomorrow before you leave.”  She eyed the three of them.  “So, what plans do you have for the day?  It looks like a perfect beach day.  You can pack a lunch and take it up to Juno.  It’s breezy, so there might be kite boarders today.”

Jessi noticed that Adam and Trevor both looked to Cara uneasily.  Cara sat up straight.  “Well, Mom,” she hesitated.

Suspicious, Jessi narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms and leaning back against the counter.

Cara cleared her throat and continued.  “We wanted to talk about Dad’s stuff.”

“Dad’s stuff?”

Cara nodded.  “His clothes and tools and things.  You haven’t started doing anything with them yet?”

Jessi sighed.  “No.  I haven’t packed up Dad’s things.”

“That’s why we’re here.  I figured you hadn’t done it yet.  That’s what we’re going to do today.”  Cara’s face, so precisely a mix of Graham’s and Jessi’s own, was determined.

Feeling panic rising, Jessi took a slow breath.  “No.  We’re not packing your dad’s things today.  If that’s the only reason you came home this weekend, you’re going to be disappointed.  I will pack up your father’s belongings when I’m ready to do it, and not a moment before.”

“Look, Mother,” Cara slid off the stool and came around the island toward Jessi.  Her short auburn hair hinted at her stubbornness as her light blue eyes glinted sharply.  “It’s been long enough.  You have to let go.  I read an article, and…”

“I don’t care what you read, you do not decide for me when to get rid of my husband’s belongings.”  Jessi knew her voice was getting louder and she didn’t care.  Adam and Trevor looked like they wanted to crawl into a hole.

“Denial!  It’s called denial.  Dad’s dead.  And hanging onto his things won’t bring him back!”

Adam, ever the peacemaker, tried to intervene.  “Maybe we should just drop it, Cara.”

“Shut up, Adam!” she snapped.

“It’s not denial, it’s a process.  I’ll clean out his things when I’m ready.  Don’t push me on this, Cara!”

Outside, his focus on the inner workings of the pool pump, Judd became aware of raised voices.  Glancing up, he could see Jessi and her daughter squaring off in the kitchen.  He gnawed his lower lip thoughtfully.  It really wasn’t his business.  But his position was to protect Jessi.

Even from her kids?  He debated another moment before setting down the wrench in his hand and heading to the kitchen door.

“Someone has to, Mother.  Someone has to help you when you can’t seem to help yourself.”

“Everything okay in here, Jessi?”  Judd’s tone suggested quiet authority.

Cara whirled around.  “And who in the hell is this?!”  Dramatically, she flung her hand in Judd’s direction.

Judd started to answer.  “I’m…”

“What the fuck makes you think you can come into my house and speak to my guests like that?!” Jessi shrieked.

The kitchen fell silent.  Neither Adam nor Cara had ever heard their mother use profanity.  Eyes wide and mouths open, they both stared at Jessi.

She took a calming breath and continued softly.  “This is Judd.  He’s a friend of your father’s, and he’s here today fixing the pool pump.”  She met Judd’s eyes with a grateful look.

Adam recovered first.  Proffering a hand, he introduced himself.  “Hi, man.  I’m Adam, that’s my sister, Cara, and this is Cara’s boyfriend, Trevor.”

Judd nodded to them all.  “Nice to meet you.”  He looked to Adam and Trevor.  “Gentlemen, maybe you can help me out back while the ladies sort this out, what do you say?”

“Sure thing,” Trevor answered, glad to have an excuse to scuttle out of the line of fire.

The silence in the kitchen was deafening.  Neither Jessi nor Cara had moved, and they stood, arms crossed, facing each other.  Finally, Jessi spoke.

“Look, Cara…I’m trying to receive this in the spirit I’m sure you meant it to be.  I know you care and you’re trying to help.  But I’m not ready to go through all of your dad’s things.  I’m just not.”

Cara tossed her head impatiently.  “You’re not even aware of your level of denial.”

Jessi’s eyes flashed angrily.  “Don’t talk to me like I’m some senile old woman.  I’m forty-fucking-five!  I run my own successful business!”

Cara flinched at her mother’s use of the F-bomb for the second time in as many minutes.  “But Mom!

“No buts.  This is my decision, not yours.”  Jessi crossed the kitchen and sank onto a stool at the counter.  “If there’s something in particular of your father’s that you’d like to have, just let me know.  I’ll be sure to put it aside for you.”

“Mother…”

Jessi shook her head definitively.  “That’s my final word on the matter.”  She held her daughter’s gaze challengingly.

Finally, Cara looked away.  “Okay.  I didn’t mean to start a whole thing, I just thought…”  She wrapped her arms around Jessi.  “I’m sorry.  I just miss him so much.”

Jessi felt the sting of unwanted tears.  “I know you do, baby.  I miss him, too.”

FOR SPARROW, Dream Dominant Book 3, is the 2017 New Apple Award Medalist in Literary Erotica, and it’s the 2018 Golden Flogger Award Winner for Best BDSM Book in BDSM Light.

You can get your copy at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

Behind the Book: The Setting of FOR SPARROW: Next Stop, Jupiter

This is it!  The last weekend before the launch of FOR SPARROW, on Oct.3!

The third book in the Dream Dominant Collection is set in Palm Beach County, Florida, my home for over 25 years.  In this series of posts, I’m taking you on a tour of some of my favorite places.  This week, we’re going to the gorgeous beach-side town of Jupiter, the location of several scenes in the book.

The first place Judd and Jessi visit together is my favorite bar on the planet (okay, I have about five of those), Square Grouper.  It’s a casual, outdoor tiki bar on the Jupiter Inlet, across from the Jupiter Lighthouse.  It’s the place to go if you want to completely decompress and let your stress melt away.

A stone’s throw from Square Grouper, in fact you park in the same lot, are the two locations from this week’s excerpt, Guanabanas and Blueline Surf & Paddle.

Guanabanas is another outdoor tiki place, more restaurant than bar, but they serve a mean Cat 5 hurricane.  The food is Florida fresh, and there’s always a crowd.  It’s on a strip of land between A1A and the Loxahatchee River, and the river views are utterly tranquil.  There are docks, and some folks arrive in their boats.  It’s also a great place for stand-up paddle boarding, and you can put in right there at the restaurant.

Directly across A1A is the Blueline Surf & Paddle Company.  They sell surfing and paddle boarding equipment, but you can also rent from them and get lessons.  You walk across the street and put in at the Loxahatchee River.  Notice the paddle boarders directly in front of Guanabanas.

As Jessi’s Dominant, it’s Judd’s position to push her beyond her comfort zone.  In this scene, he does just that.

Here’s an excerpt from FOR SPARROW…

Back inside the house, Judd washed up in the kitchen sink.  Jessi handed him a dish towel to dry his hands.  He eyed the old dishwasher, then looked to Jessi.

“I don’t really feel like messing with a dishwasher today, do you?”

Jessi’s eyes widened.  “Oh, well, no, of course not.  I’m sure you have plenty to do.  Don’t worry about it at all,” she said quickly.

Judd shook his head.  “It’s a beautiful day.  Why spend it inside?”  He stood straight, hands on his hips.  “How do you feel about stand up paddle boarding?”

She worked her mouth for a moment, frowning.  “I don’t guess I’m opposed to it, as an activity, you know.  I’m sure people enjoy it.  Live and let live,” she giggled nervously.

“I mean,” he cupped her elbow gently, “how do you feel about going?  With me.  Today.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Judd.  I’m kind of the queen of klutz.”  Jessi’s face turned bright pink.  “I don’t know if I’d be any good at it.”

Judd’s eyes narrowed slightly.  “Not sure I like my little one putting herself down.  Besides, there’s nothing to be ‘good at,’ you just…stand and paddle.”  He pantomimed for her.

He saw the reluctance in her face and gave his best reassuring smile, eyes sparkling.  “Come on, Jessi, it’ll be fun.”

Slowly, her smile spread to match his.  “Okay.  Let’s do it.”  She went upstairs and quickly changed into her swim suit and beach cover up.

On the way to the surf shop, Judd stopped by his place to pick up his paddleboard and gear.  He let them both into the townhouse and Jessi waited as he bounded up to the second level.

“It won’t take me a second to load my stuff into the truck,” he called from upstairs.  Jessi clutched her hands together anxiously as she surveyed Judd’s living room.  Everything was neat and tidy.  She didn’t know why that surprised her.

You just think about the stereotypical ‘bachelor pad,’ she supposed.

Crossing the room, she saw that the view from the sliding glass doors was breathtaking.  She imagined what it would be to wake up with a view of the ocean every morning.

“Almost ready,” Judd said, returning downstairs wearing aqua board shorts, a white t-shirt, and a Marlins ball cap.  A pair of black Oakley sunglasses hung around his neck from a black strap.

He held up a small black cube.  “I want to try out my new GoPro while we’re out there today,” he grinned.

Five minutes later, they were on their way north, heading for Blueline Surf and Paddle on A1A.  They rented gear for Jessi and declined the offer of a lesson.  “I’ve got it, man,” Judd smiled to the clerk.

Jessi was surprised to find that they were going to put into the river right next to Guanabanas, a local outdoor dining hotspot just across the street from the surf shop.  “Afterwards, I’ll buy you a cocktail,” Judd promised.

After a brief orientation, Judd helped Jessi onto the board and gently pushed her out into the Loxahatchee River.  “Am I supposed to wear the life jacket?” Jessi called back to him, indicating the ocean blue PFD currently resting on the nose of her board.

“Can you swim?”

“Of course!” she returned.

“Then you don’t have to wear it.  But you do have to have it with you, it’s the law.”

Judd smiled as he watched her wobble slightly.  She looked hot in what was actually a modest blue tankini, her auburn hair clipped up and off her neck, the red highlights gleaming in the sunlight.  He could only imagine Jessi in a bikini.  Did imagine it.  Then tried to think of something else, before she noticed his arousal.

Sighing deeply, he clipped the GoPro to the bill of his cap and paddled quickly to catch up with her.

When their hour was up, they returned Jessi’s gear to the shop, and put Judd’s things back in the truck.  With Jessi’s white beach dress back in place, they wandered into Guanabanas and found a small high-top table in the bar area.  A lone guitarist was playing Jason Mraz covers on the tiki stage.

Jessi ordered a Cat 5 hurricane while Judd opted for a local brew, and they chose a few appetizers.  After the server left, Judd pressed the button on the GoPro.  “So, Jessi, what do you think of paddle boarding?”

Her grin was stunning.  “I loved it!  It was so much fun, and way easier than I ever thought.”

He leaned into her and held the camera at arm’s length.  “Well, you had a kick-ass teacher, so…”  They both laughed into the camera.

SPIN Pandora (1)

You still have time to get FOR SPARROW at the pre-order price of 99¢.
After launch day, it goes back to its regular $2.99.
books2read.com/ForSparrow