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

Great Anthology for a Great Cause!

✲´*。.❄¨¯`*✲。NOW LIVE 。✲*`¯¨❄.。*´✲


Letting Hope Enter (A Charity Anthology)
published by 
Witching Hour Press
** All Proceeds Will Be Donated to the
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention **

I’m so excited to tell you about this great new anthology that just went live!  A talented group of authors has gotten together to support suicide awareness and prevention, and you can be a part of of it.  All proceeds from the sale of LETTING HOPE ENTER will go toward helping people who feel they’ve lost all hope.

Here’s what it’s all about…

Suicide, why is it so difficult to talk about, write about or even handle in a private forum?

Answers are still being searched for in the mental health communities of the hows and whys. Until then, we are trying to bring light to this issue. We want to assist with the truth, lies, prejudice, secrets, and misunderstanding of mental health.

Every 40 seconds someone commits suicide.

This makes it the 10th leading cause of death in America today. It is breaking news when it happens to the famous, but not enough exposure has come into the light to help everyday people. It still has a stigma and many experience shame in their issues.

Letting Hope Enter is a collection of stories about the tragedy, pain and even despair of suicide. Also, it is an attempt to bring hope and awareness to this illness without the need to hide or consider it some dirty little secret.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-825, if you or someone you know, love, care about or want to share needs this information.

Please let Hope Enter, help those suffering and start talking about these issues without prejudice, misinformation or judgment.

Check out the awesome list of authors contributing to this anthology:

Airian Eastman
Maggie Jane Schuler
J. M. Butler
Angie Gonser Brocker
Jenniefer Andersson
Renee Lee Fisher
Author Linnea Valle
Jaime Russell
Kathia Iblis
ChaSiree M.
D.j. Shaw
Lenore Cheairs
Morgan G. Farris
Liv Arnold
COVER DESIGNED BY: Skye MacKinnon


Want to do something great for yourself AND for someone else?
One-click LETTING HOPE ENTER today!  



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–Great News for CHASING ORDINARY!

There was great news this week for my modern-day adult fairy tale.
CHASING ORDINARY was named the 2018 New Apple Summer eBook Awards Medalist in Literary Erotica.

The news is so brand-new, I don’t even have the medallion for the front of the book yet.  But I’m beyond thrilled that my handsome European prince and his sassy ginger sculptor are being honored.

Here’s CHASING ORDINARY, in a nutshell.

Sculptor Petey Cavanaugh has no idea that the handsome businessman she’s falling for
is actually Europe’s most eligible prince.
She’s Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary, and everything he ever wanted.
If he doesn’t blow it.

 

How about a little teaser?
And don’t miss the official book trailer at the bottom.  😉

Nik peered grimly out the window at the passing grey tableau as the Mercedes made its way uptown toward the exclusive Empire Club.  Dalton Rigby’s great-great grandfather had been a founding member, as the man had been careful to point out every time Nik had ever met him.

At least the food will be good, he consoled himself.  Mentally, he went over his talking points as the city passed by in a gloomy blur.

A flash of color on the sidewalk caught his focus.  Ahead, a woman in a bright red dress was attempting to hail a cab in the pouring rain.  As his car pulled alongside her, he watched in slow motion as a spray of water completely doused her.

“Stop the car!” he shouted.

The driver eyed him in the rearview mirror.

“Stop the car,” he repeated.

“But sir,” Jorgen protested from his seat beside Nik.

Shrugging, the driver stopped, causing the car behind them to slam on its brakes and honk loudly.

Nik was already halfway out of the car.  “Go around the block,” he called over his shoulder as he stepped out into the rain, slamming the door behind him.

The woman was still standing where she’d been when the Mercedes’ front wheel had torn through a deep puddle, spraying her with filthy runoff.  Nik made his way to her, ignoring the rain that pelted him as he walked.

“I’m terribly sorry.  Are you alright?”

She stood shaking from cold, red hair matted to her head, black streams of mascara running down her face like cracks in fine china.  “I’m s-s-s-soaked!” she shrieked.

“Again, I’m so sorry.”  Nik’s expression was contrite.  He shrugged out of his suit jacket and wrapped it around her.  She was tiny, and the jacket nearly swallowed her whole.  He glanced around.  “Is your apartment near here?”

She shook her head.  “I’m locked out.  And I’m unbelievably late.  I can’t go like this.  And I can’t get back into the fucking apartment!  Fuck!”

“My car is coming back around the block.  I’ll give you a ride to wherever you need to—“

At that moment, a boxy delivery truck hit the same puddle, spraying them both.  They gasped in unison.  Momentarily blinded by the wall of water, Nik sputtered and swiped at his face.  “Bloody hell!”

He looked down at the woman whose eyes were impossibly wide with surprise.  “Here comes my car now.  Come with me.  I’m staying at the Plaza.  We’ll call ahead and have the stylist meet us.  Once we’re both cleaned up, I’ll take you where you need to go.”

She looked up at him in alarm.  “I’m not going to your hotel with you!”

“No, I don’t mean…  I realize how inappropriate it sounds, but I promise, I only mean to help.”  He held up his hands in surrender.  “Clearly you can’t stay here.  And you can’t go to wherever it is you were going, not like this.”

He aimed for a reassuring smile.  “The services of the spa and salon will be at your disposal.  And I know St. James will have something for you to wear.”

He watched as she considered her options.  “I feel responsible.  Please let me make things right.”

The black Mercedes pulled up to the sidewalk and the driver walked around to open the back door.  “Please,” he pleaded softly.

The woman drew a shaky breath.  “Okay.  Thank you,” she said quietly.

Jorgen slid out of the back seat and moved to the passenger side of the front.  Nik motioned for the woman to get in, and he climbed in beside her.  The driver returned to his seat and pulled out into traffic.

“Jorgen, call St. James and tell him to meet us at the underground entrance.  Ms.—“ He looked to the woman.

“Oh, Cavanaugh.  Petey Cavanaugh.”  At his befuddled expression she added, “It’s a long story.”

Nik frowned.  “Ms. Cavanaugh is to have whatever services she needs.  When she’s ready, we’ll take her where she needs to go.”

“Yes, sir,” Jorgen responded, taking his phone out of his pocket.

“Thank you,” Petey said sheepishly.  “I’d better call my friend.”

She dialed a number.  “Yeah, it’s me.”  There was a short pause.  “No, I’m not almost to the gallery.  I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.”

Another pause.  “I know, seriously, I do!  Nobody would rather be there right now than I would, but I forgot the umbrella, and I forgot the key, and I’m a total wreck right now, completely soaked to the skin.”

She seemed to listen for a moment.  “I know, but I can’t help it.  I’m headed to the Plaza.  I’ll get cleaned up, and then I’ll be right there.”

Nik watched as she eyed him quickly.  “I don’t know.  Some guy,” she whispered.  There was another pause, and Nik could hear an agitated voice on the other end, although he couldn’t make out the words.

“Okay, Jules, I’m hanging up now.  I’ll let you know when I’m on my way.”  She stabbed at her phone and put it back in the small silver bag she was carrying.

She looked back at him sheepishly.  “My friend.”

“I truly am sorry.  You said you’re late?”

She nodded.  “It’s a gallery opening.  I’m supposed to be there,” she glanced at her watch, “twenty-two minutes ago.”

“I’m late for dinner myself.  At least gallery openings usually run for several hours.  Surely it won’t matter if you’re a bit late,” he said reasonably.

“It’s my show.  It looks kind of bad for the guest of honor not to be there.”

Nik was intrigued.  “You’re an artist.  What is your medium?”

“Sculpture.  I do welded steel and glass pieces.”

He squinted, picturing the petite, feminine woman using a welding torch to bend steel to her will.

“We’re here, sir,” Jorgen announced, interrupting his thoughts.  The car pulled through a security gate into an underground garage.  As it eased up to a pair of double glass doors, Colin St. James stepped out to greet them.

“Holy crap on a cracker,” he exclaimed as first Nik, then Petey, climbed out of the back of the car.  “What on God’s green earth happened to you?”

“It’s raining,” Nik replied succinctly.  “This is Ms. Cavanaugh.  She’s late to her own gallery opening, and obviously, she can’t go like that.  Please see to it that she’s ready in about twenty minutes.  Will that be possible?”

“Twenty minutes?  Are you kidding me?  They don’t call me ‘the miracle worker’ for nothing.”  He scanned Petey up and down.  “Although this might be my greatest challenge yet,” he said under his breath.

She glared up at him through wet lashes.

Nik turned to Petey.  “I’m going upstairs to get cleaned up.  I’ll check on you when I’m ready.”

She nodded shyly, shrugging off his suit jacket and handing it to him.  “Um, thank you.”

He nodded to Colin and turned to head to the elevator.

Colin took Petey by the hand.  “Okay, sweetie, let’s see what we can do.”

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHASING ORDINARY is available in both digital and paperback
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary

Weekend Excerpt–WARRIOR MINE

Presenting the official book trailer for my new novel,
WARRIOR MINE!

Like all the books in the Dream Dominant Collection, it’s a stand-alone novel.  But it’s a spin-off from Dream Dominant Book 2, LOST & BOUND.  Characters and timelines intersect, but I made sure you can read this new book, even if you haven’t read the other one.

For WARRIOR MINE, I returned to the Canadian setting of LOST & BOUND.  It’s a place near and dear to my heart, a place where I spent many a happy summer vacation during my childhood.

From the mid-1940s, my family owned an island in the northern Ontario wilderness.  We had a tiny log cabin on a little island on a remote lake not far from the town of Elliot Lake.  When I took my kids, they were the 5th generation of my family to spend time there.

In LOST & BOUND, Hollywood bad girl Shasta Pyke stays in the cabin for a while.

Later, in WARRIOR MINE, Scott Nielsen remodels it into a bunkhouse for his outdoors school.

These are actual photos from the Spocks family album.

Because it’s so remote, we flew by bush plane over crystal-clear lakes to reach our island.

In LOST & BOUND, I had Blake Walker use a bush plane to ferry guests to remote cabins owned by Lake Miranda Lodge.

In WARRIOR MINE, Blake’s good friend Scott Nielsen also flies a De Havilland Beaver, and offers to help with flight duties.

Again, these are Spocks family photos.

Ironically as I was writing LOST & BOUND, my parents sold the property.

Here’s a little teaser from WARRIOR MINE.

“What would you do with the lodge, if you could do anything you wanted?”  Amy looked at Jackie curiously.

Jackie gazed dreamily across the water.  “Well, I’d upgrade the whole place.”  She looked at Amy.  “Not modernize it, I wouldn’t want to lose the rustic charm, but…”  She sighed, thinking of the capital it would take to make the place everything she envisioned.  Amy watched her, waiting for her to speak.

“I would put in new beds, update the kitchenettes but use vintage-looking appliances, restore the rooms in the main house to use as guest rooms like they used to be, build a little house for the kids and me to live in…”  She smiled sheepishly.  “Not that I’ve put a lot of thought into it,” Jackie laughed.

Amy smiled.  “I think you have some great ideas.  This is such a special place.  I’d love to see you do really well.”

While she was speaking, Jackie became aware of the buzz of an airplane in the distance.  Normally, she’d assume it was Blake.  Her eyes darted beyond Grant and Emma, to where Blake’s De Havilland Beaver floated, moored to the end of the dock.  But Blake’s plane is here.

Now that they were quiet, the buzz seemed louder.  Both women looked in the direction of the noise.  The plane, a small pontoon plane quite like Blake’s, was coming closer and seemed to be descending toward the far south end of the lake.

“What the…” Jackie murmured.

Using their hands to shield their eyes from the glare of the afternoon sun, they rose from their chairs.  White spray fantailed behind the twin pontoons as the plane landed at the far end of Lake Miranda.  Even Grant and Emma lost interest in their fishing as the plane motored its way toward them.

“Maybe you’d better get in the house,” Jackie said to Amy.

“I’m not leaving you to deal with whatever this is.”

They made their way down the deck steps and across to the dock.  “Go inside, kids,” Jackie said.

“But Mom,” Grant protested.

“Don’t ‘but Mom’ me, do as I say.”

“Aw, man!”

“Aw, man,” Emma echoed.

“In the house.  Now.” Jackie marched purposefully down the dock, and Amy followed along behind her.  Torn, Jackie still debated sending Amy into the house with the children.  Unconsciously, she stepped between Amy and the intruder.

The plane was mere yards away from the dock by this time.  Squinting against the glare, Jackie could see the pilot, his face obscured by green aviator sunglasses and huge headphones.  He appeared to have a light blond beard and mustache.

As he got closer, he cut the engine, and the lake was quiet again.  The door popped open and the pilot swung himself down and grabbed a paddle from the inner side of one of the pontoons, using it to maneuver the aircraft toward the dock.

Headphones removed, Jackie saw that the man had long, thick honey-blond hair that hung in a braid down his back.  He gave a little salute as he got closer.  To Jackie’s relief, he didn’t seem to have a camera.  But her hackles were up anyway.

“No.”  Jackie shook her head firmly.  “You can’t be here.  Just go on back to wherever you came from, this is a private dock.”

“But,” the stranger began.

“Nope, no buts.  You’ll have to go now.”  Jackie planted her feet shoulder-width apart and crossed her arms.

“I talked to Blake a couple of weeks ago, told him I’d be stopping by.”  The stranger smiled reassuringly.  Up close, he was tall, well over six feet, and his forest green polo shirt clung to muscular shoulders and upper arms.  Short sleeves showed tats up both arms.  Khaki shorts revealed strong legs flecked with light hair, and on his feet, he wore battered brown leather boots.

He’d gotten the plane to within a few feet of the dock.  To tie up, a couple of the skiffs would need to be moved.

“Wait,” Amy surprised Jackie, “are you Scott?”

The man’s face lit up in a smile, and he nodded.  “I’m Scott Nielsen, I used to work with Blake.  You must be Amy?”

Hands back on her hips, Jackie moved in front of Amy again.  “Um, yes,” Amy frowned.  “Blake told you about me?”

Scott laughed.  “We’re pretty tight, Blake and me.  He’s like the little brother I never knew I wanted.”

He laughed again.  “And I guess that makes you Jackie.”  Holding the line to the plane, he stepped onto the dock, moved the sunglasses to the top of his head, and offered his hand.  “Scott Nielsen.  Sorry I just barged in on you like this.  I sort of thought Blake would be here.”

Slowly, Jackie reached for Scott’s hand.  “He’s in town, but he’ll be back soon.  I didn’t mean to be rude, it’s just that we’ve had a little bit of trouble recently…”  Her voice trailed off as she stared into his bright blue eyes.

Scott frowned.  “Trouble?”

Jackie shook her head sharply as though to clear the cobwebs.  “Oh, never mind.  Let’s get you tied off.  Can I offer you some iced tea?”

WARRIOR MINE, Dream Dominant Book 4, comes out August 14.
Reserve your copy for the pre-order special of 99¢.
books2read.com/WarriorMine

5

 

Weekend Excerpt–RANSOMING REDEMPTION

RANSOMING REDEMPTION is the third and final book of Rannigan’s Redemption, my ‘spicy vanilla’ erotic romance law drama.

Rannigan’s Redemption is the story of hotshot Manhattan criminal defense attorney Michael Rannigan, and his complicated relationship with Maggie Flynn, the smart redhead he hires straight out of law school to join his elite practice.

By the last book, Michael and Maggie have been friends for years.  Although she’s not anything like the vapid, surgically-enhanced blondes he favors, he’s never been able to shake the attraction he feels for her.

Now, though, this inveterate player feels the need to make amends for the ways he’s used people, to find redemption for all the ways he’s failed those around him, Maggie in particular.

So he hatches a plan to make sure that no matter what might happen in the future, Maggie will be happy.  And he’ll do it, too, even if he has to give her a little push.

Here’s a snippet from RANSOMING REDEMPTION.

Standing in the empty parlor three steps down from the entry, Maggie’s gaze traveled from the intricately designed hardwood floors to the crisp white crown molding, halting in amazement on the ornate stone federalist fireplace.  Winnie was giving a running narrative though Maggie only half heard her.  “Now you’ll notice lots of original details throughout this property.”

“When was this house built?” Michael asked.

“Got to be late 1800s,” Maggie murmured thoughtfully.

“1890 to be precise,” said Winnie sounding pleased.  “You know your architecture.  It’s believed that it was originally built to be the home of a gentleman’s mistress.  He set her up in grand style.”

Maggie giggled.  “Ooh, how scandalous!  What an interesting history.”  She walked the perimeter of the room.  “Michael, do you see the wood inlay in the floor all around the edge?” she asked, stooping to lightly caress the design.  “This is just exquisite.”

She turned to Michael suddenly.  “You’re not seriously considering moving?”

He shook his head.  “Nah, this would be an investment.  I wanted your opinion on the place, though.”  Crossing to a bay window that overlooked the sidewalk and street, he sank onto the seat and put his oxygen back in.  “How about you look it over for me and see what you think.”

Winnie nodded.  “If you go on back, you’ll see they’ve upgraded the kitchen while keeping the original style of the place intact.”

Maggie continued down the hallway past a formal dining room and into the kitchen.  As Winnie had said, it was spacious and open, boasting high end stainless steel appliances and stone counter tops, but nothing overpowered the original stone floor and fireplace.  At the end of the room was a space for a breakfast table and beyond that, tall vintage French doors.

“Oh, Michael, there’s a yard back here,” she called, letting herself out into a small gravel courtyard dominated by a huge old oak tree and edged by landscaping beds.  There are probably tulip and daffodil bulbs that pop up in the spring, Maggie mused.  The brick walls of the garden were covered with ivy.

She returned to the parlor.  “Michael, this is absolutely amazing.”

“You like it, then?” he asked, seeming pleased.

“It’s beautiful.  Maybe you should think about moving,” she said.

“You haven’t seen the upstairs yet,” Winnie reminded her.  “This house has four bedrooms and four and a half baths.  The master suite takes up the entire second floor.  Two bedrooms are on the third floor, and there’s a smaller attic bedroom at the top.  Oh, and the basement is finished.  It’s perfect for a home office or a gym.”

Maggie had just started up the stairs when Michael called from the window seat.  “Hey, Mags?  Do you have a couple of dollars?”

“A couple of dollars?”

“Yeah.  I want to buy a newspaper.”

“Michael, I’ll buy you a paper on the way home.”

“There’s a little store on the corner,” he hooked his thumb toward the window, “I just forgot my wallet.  Can you loan me some money?”

Maggie returned to the living room.  “Oh, for fu-,” she glanced at Winnie, “I mean, for Pete’s sake,” she muttered as she dug though her purse.  “Here’s five bucks.  Honestly, I would be happy to get your paper when we’re finished here.”

Michael flashed his best grin.  “Thanks, Mags.  By the way, can you sign as a witness?  I’ve decided to buy the house.”

Maggie frowned at the document in his hand.  “We haven’t even looked at the rest of it yet.”

“I’ve seen the pictures.  And judging by the way you like this floor, I’m thinking this is a good deal.”

She took the document from him, her brow furrowed in thought.

“Maggie, wait until you see the claw foot tubs in the bathrooms,” Winnie said.  “And they’ve maintained the vintage tile on the floors and walls.”  Maggie looked up from the contract.

“Just sign below me, Mags,” Michael said, pointing to the line.  Distractedly, she took the pen from him and quickly signed her name as Winnie continued talking.

“And the master suite has its own original fireplace similar to the one down here.  Let me show you.”

Taking one last look at Michael, Maggie dutifully followed the realtor up the stairs.  Michael smiled smugly to himself.

RANSOMING REDEMPTION, Book 3 of Rannigan’s Redemption,
is available at your favorite online bookseller,
in both digital and paperback formats.
books2read.com/RansomingRedemption

 

But be sure to start at Book 1,
RESISTING RISK:
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

 

And pssst, just between you and me…
I’ve posted RESISTING RISK chapter by chapter on Book+Main.
Or you can read it in its entirety for FREE at Bellesa.co.

 

Weekend Excerpt–LOST & BOUND

Lost & Bound promo new1

My Dream Dominant Collection is a series of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring hot Alpha males, strong red-haired women, and light BDSM themes.  LOST & BOUND is the second book in the collection.

In LOST & BOUND, following a brush with the law, actress Shasta Pyke is sent to cool her heels for a few weeks in the wilderness of northern Ontario.  It’s there that she meets ruggedly handsome Blake Walker, an experienced bush pilot who helps run his family’s remote guest lodge on Lake Miranda.

Initially, Blake’s not too impressed with the lodge’s sole VIP guest.  But as he spends time with her, he begins to see the frightened little girl she hides from the world.  Could it be that Shasta Pyke is the baby girl this Daddy Dom has been looking for?

Here’s an excerpt from LOST & BOUND.

Blake had heard the car pull up.  He dawdled, swiping at imaginary smudges on the passenger door of the de Havilland Beaver that rested at the end of the dock.  He had no desire to get caught up in whatever celebrity fanfare accompanied their new guest’s arrival.

The voices faded after everyone went inside and still Blake waited a few minutes longer before making his way back up the dock toward the front of the lodge.  He was surprised to see a young woman standing alone in the clearing in the center of the cabins.  Her back was to him and he took a moment to watch her.

His first impression was that she was sexy as hell.  Her shoulder-length hair was bright red, and expensive-looking sunglasses sat perched on top of her head.  She was wearing a white halter blouse with a very short black skirt.  Her high-heeled shoes were bright pink suede and they wobbled precariously as she marched around holding her mobile phone in front of her like a divining rod.

When he told her about the lack of signal, she whipped around, giving him a glare that would freeze lava.  Fine, lady, have it your way, he thought.

Thankfully, Jackie came out with a smarmy-looking older guy in an expensive Italian suit.  Blake busied himself retrieving a mountain of bags from the trunk of the black Lincoln.  He noticed that the guest of honor grabbed the suit’s arm and pulled him off to the side for a little chat.  He wondered if her tone was any friendlier with him, and he figured that it wasn’t.

He’d just finished loading all the bags into the front of the red aluminum skiff when Pink Shoes came tapping down the dock.  His gaze started at the shoes and slid up shapely legs to the tight skirt and curved hips.  The deep V in the halter top hinted at stellar tits and her lips were a deep red.  She wore too much makeup in his estimation, but there was no denying that Shasta Pyke was hot.

“Are you ready to head over to the island?”

He watched her grip her huge black leather shoulder bag, hiking it higher up on her bare shoulder.  “Um, yes, please.”

Blake wasn’t sure, but she seemed embarrassed by her earlier behavior.  He offered her his hand and she took it, gingerly stepping into the boat.  She sat on the center bench, facing forward, away from him, and clutching her bag like it was a life preserver.

***

               They didn’t speak during the ten-minute ride across the water to the small island in the middle of Lake Miranda.  It would have been difficult over the roar of the small outboard motor, even had she been facing him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wait.  What?”

“Water.  You know, to drink?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m currently hard at work on WARRIOR MINE, Dream Dominant Book 4.  Although it’s a stand-alone novel, it’s a spin-off from LOST & BOUND.

I’m planning on a summer release.  Keep watching for the reveal of the gorgeous cover, designed by the ever-sexy and talented Linzi Basset.