Weekend Excerpt–Happy Thanksgiving!


Here in the States, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving this week.  It’s a great time for family, friends, and good food.  It’s a time to stop and consider all the things for which we’re grateful.

This weekend excerpt features a Thanksgiving scene from RANSOMING REDEMPTION, the third and final book of Rannigan’s Redemption.

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.

RR3 review

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

Rannigan’s Redemption–RANSOMING REDEMPTION: Michael, Maggie, & Bobby

Rannigan’s Redemption is a three-novel contemporary erotic romance/law drama.  It tells the story of high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan, and his complicated relationship with Maggie Flynn, the smart, redheaded lawyer he hires straight out of law school to join his elite firm.

RESISTING RISK, Book 1, set up the whole tale of Michael Rannigan and his complicated relationship with Maggie Flynn.  In the second book, RUNNING ROGUE, their world was rocked by tumultuous change.  RANSOMING REDEMPTION brings resolution to their story.  [WARNING: Spoilers abound.]

Michael has suffered a serious setback, and Maggie has agreed to stand by him through his journey.  And he’s grateful.  Beyond grateful, really.  He realizes that he needs to make it up to her, to find redemption for all the ways he’s failed her.

Which is why he’s determined to make sure she gives his new neighbor, retired baseball star Bobby ‘Beau’ Beaulieu, a chance.  Maggie’s attracted to the handsome athlete with his soft Cajun accent, but she’s tired of getting burned.  She’s determined to stay focused on her work and on caring for Michael until he’s back on his feet.  But Michael has other plans.

Here’s a teaser from RANSOMING REDEMPTION, the 5-STAR finale of Rannigan’s Redemption.

Maggie did something completely out of character when she got home that night.  She intentionally tuned her television to sports.  There sat Bobby discussing baseball with a handful of other guys, the disassociation of television doing nothing to diminish the blue of his eyes or the sexy lilt of his voice.  Now that she knew about the subtle Cajun accent, she couldn’t not hear it.  There was no stopping the smile as it spread across her face.

Bobby was dressed in a charcoal suit with a blue shirt and a coordinating tie, and he chatted and laughed with his colleagues.  Maggie watched in fascination.  He really is handsome.  I’ve never seen him dressed up before.

In her mind, she replayed their conversation in the hospital cafeteria and she groaned miserably.  He has to think I’m an absolute idiot.  If he doesn’t think I’m just a bitch. 

“I’ll have to apologize when I see him, that’s all there is to it,” she said aloud.

The next morning, Maggie got up early and hit the internet, researching the best foods for people on chemotherapy and compiling a list of things to look for at the organic market.  She was surprised when Michael called.

“Hey, what’s up?” she greeted him.  “I’m working on a shopping list for you.”

“Thanks, Mags,” he said.  “But don’t go overboard with the organic shit, okay?  I don’t know if I’ll eat all that anyway.”

“You have to eat, it might as well be healthy foods,” she returned.  “Just try the things I get.  You might even prefer them, free of all the artificial crap.”

“We’ll see,” he said doubtfully.  “Listen, I want to thank Beau for all his help yesterday.  We’re having him over for dinner tonight.”

Maggie frowned.  We?

“Tonight?” she asked.  “Michael, I don’t know what I’m making for you, yet.  How am I supposed to pull together a nice dinner?”

“You’re not pulling together anything.  I’ve already placed the order, it’ll be delivered by 6:00 tonight.  I talked to Beau, he’s getting here at 7:00.”

Maggie couldn’t think of a response.

“Don’t you think we should thank him for everything he did yesterday?” Michael prodded.

“Well of course I do,” Maggie sputtered.  “But it’s just so…short notice.”

“I know, but luckily he’s working an early show today.  You don’t have to worry about anything for dinner tonight, I’m making sure everything is taken care of.  Truthfully,” he added, “dinner tonight is to thank you, too.  You’ve been my rock from the get-go.  I appreciate you, Mags.”

Maggie felt a lump forming in her throat.  “You don’t have to thank me, Michael.  It’s what friends do.”

“I’m still grateful,” he said.  “So don’t worry about anything.  Go on about your business of hooking me up with sprouts and wheat germ.  Dinner is under control.”

She sighed.  “Okay, Michael.  I’ll see you when I finish shopping.”

“See you then,” he said.  “Oh, and Mags?  Wear something pretty.”

Wear something pretty.  Seriously? 

Maggie frowned irritably as she disconnected.  It’s not enough I’m hauling my cookies all over town to get you healthy food to eat.  You’re throwing a last minute dinner party at me and telling me how to dress?  Some kind of nerve… 

Even so, her thoughts went to her wardrobe.  She began sliding her clothes back and forth on the bar in the closet.

Humph…it’s supposed to be cold, might even snow.  Wear something pretty.  Gahhhh!

Two hours later Maggie returned to her apartment, having purchased three bags of organic food and two dozen plastic containers with lids.  No way am I carrying all this uptown on the subway, she decided.

Especially not while I’m wearing something ‘pretty’.  She had no idea why Michael’s comment chapped her butt so much, but it did.

She spent the next couple of hours putting together single serving portions of organic kale salads with red and yellow peppers, spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, and poached salmon with carrots and broccoli.  These she stacked in their sealed containers in one of the shopping bags.  In another one she put her other purchases like the organic peanut butter, green tea, and lentil soup.  She decided that just before she left, she’d pack the third bag with the organic Greek yogurt she’d found.

Then she headed off to shower and get dressed.  Glancing out the window, she saw the sky filled with heavy grey clouds.  “Great,” she said aloud.  “Ten bucks says it snows before I get back home tonight.”

Dressed and ready to leave, Maggie stopped to check her image in the full-length mirror on the back of her bedroom door.  She’d chosen a long heather grey sweater over a short silver sequin skirt with black opaque tights and black ankle booties with heels.  The neckline of the sweater was wide, revealing her collar bone and the thin straps of her grey camisole.  At the ends of the long sleeves, the cuffs rolled a little around her wrists.

Turning this way and that, she decided she liked the way the sweater clung to her curves.  Her red hair she’d left down, sort of tousled and free, and it brushed past her shoulders.  “Humph!  You wanted pretty.  This is about as good as it gets.”  Shrugging into her coat, she scooped up her shopping bags and headed out front to meet the cab she’d ordered.

When she arrived at Michael’s, he greeted her at the door wearing a black t-shirt with grey sweat pants.  He gave a low whistle.  “Very nice, Mags,” he commented.

She rolled her eyes.  “Pretty enough for you?” she snipped, looking him up and down.  “Is that what you’re wearing?”

He grinned.  “Company isn’t coming for a couple of hours.  I’ll change later.”

Company, Maggie thought.  You mean Bobby.  In all her irritation with Michael, she’d almost forgotten that they’d be having dinner with Bobby.  Her mind flashed to her image in the mirror.  Maybe dressing pretty wasn’t such a bad idea.

Not that I’m trying to impress him, she considered.  She flushed slightly.  Michael watched her carefully.

“Come let me show you everything I brought you,” Maggie told him.

The delivery from Ithaka, a Greek place down the block, arrived promptly at 6:00.  Maggie put the Kota Stakarvouna, sealed with foil, in the warming oven to keep the chicken at the correct temperature.  The house salad and Garides Psites she placed in the fridge, planning to reheat the shrimp for them to enjoy as an appetizer.

Finished in the kitchen, she headed into the living room to relax for a few minutes and was surprised to find that Michael had been busy, arranging a table in the solarium on the terrace with crisp black table linens and three white place settings.  Smooth jazz quietly filtered through an unobtrusive sound system.  He’d put candles on the table and strung tiny white lights among the greenery out on the terrace.

“Michael, this looks beautiful,” she said.

He smiled proudly.  “Like I said, this dinner is to thank you, too.”

Maggie hugged him gently.  “How are you feeling?”

“Truthfully, I’m a little tired,” he answered.  “I think I’ll go lie down for a while.”

Alarmed, she checked her watch.  “Bobby will be here in half an hour.”

“Just give me a few minutes,” he said over his shoulder as he headed down the hall toward his room.

Maggie set the alarm on her phone for 6:55 and when it sounded she went to wake Michael.  “Come on, you’ve got to get up.  He’ll be here any minute.”

Michael groaned.  “I’m really tired,” he mumbled.  “Let me have a little longer.”

She heard a knock at the front door.  “He’s here!  Get up now!” she said, going to answer the door.

Maggie swung open the door to find Bobby standing there, the boyish grin firmly in place.  “Hi, Maggie,” he greeted her.  “You look beautiful tonight.”

She blushed furiously.  “Wow, that’s nice of you to say,” she murmured.  “Come on in.  You look nice yourself.”  And he did.  He wore nicely fitting jeans with a white dress shirt and a navy jacket.  Her eyes drifted to his ass as he walked past her into the apartment and she breathed in the masculine scent of his cologne.  She shook her head, attempting to refocus.

“Thanks,” he said.  He lifted a small shopping bag.  “I brought some wine to contribute to the cause.”

“Great!  Michael ordered from Ithaka.  I have to admit, it smells heavenly,” she said.  “Let me just…” she began.  “Michael went to lie down.  I’ll just go get him up and moving.”

“No problem.  Can I pour you a glass of wine?” he asked.

“Yes, please, that would be great,” she answered.  “There are glasses in the bar.”  She pointed in that direction.  “We’ll be right out.”

Maggie hurried down the hall.  Michael was lying on his side facing away from the door.  “Sean Michael Rannigan!” she hissed.  “You get your ass out of bed this instant!”

He rolled onto his back and faced her.  “I’m staying put,” he yawned sleepily.  “Go and enjoy.  Bobby’s a good guy.  You could use a nice dinner with a nice man.”

She gasped as realization dawned on her.  “No way!  You’re doing this on purpose?!  Don’t you do this to me!  Don’t you embarrass me like this!”

“What embarrass?  Two adults having dinner.  What’s so hard about that?” he asked reasonably.  “I overextended myself today.  I’ll stay here and rest.  You’ll go and have a great evening with a great guy, who likes you by the way.”

Maggie stood staring at him wide-eyed.

“You’re leaving your guest unattended.  That’s kind of rude, Mags.”

She nodded angrily.  “This is so not the end of this conversation,” she said firmly and she turned to leave.

“And Mags?” he called.  “You’re welcome.”

RR3 review

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

Box1

The entire Rannigan’s Redemption Collection
is available in one complete boxed set.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

Rannigan’s Redempton–RUNNING ROGUE: My How Things Have Changed

Rannigan’s Redemption is a three-novel contemporary erotic romance/law drama.  It tells the story of high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan, and his complicated relationship with Maggie Flynn, the smart, redheaded lawyer he hires straight out of law school to join his elite firm.

In previous posts, you’ve been introduced to Michael and Maggie.

If the first book, Resisting Risk is the set-up for the story, the second book, RUNNING ROGUE, is about change.  [WARNING: Spoilers ahead!]

For years, Michael and Maggie resisted the risk of love.  But one night of passion tore them apart, and now they’re just running rogue, making questionable choices in both their professional and personal lives.

When Michael receives devastating news, he’s shaken to his core.  And having burned all his bridges, there’s no one willing to stand beside him.  In desperation, one cold, rainy night, he finds himself outside Maggie’s apartment.  Is there any way she’ll forgive him?

Here’s an excerpt from RUNNING ROGUE.  Be forewarned, it includes spoilers.

Michael?” Maggie asked into the intercom.

“Hey, Mags.”  His voice sounded tinny over the ancient device.  “I know it’s late.  I’m sorry.  But when I saw your light on, I mean…  Can I come up?”

Maggie hesitated, her finger hovering over the button.  “What do you want, Michael?”

“Mags, I just…I just want to talk.”

She shook her head, checking the time again.  What the hell?  And he’s probably drunk.  Standing out there in the rain like he’s got absolutely no sense. 

            She pressed the door buzzer.  “Don’t wake my neighbors,” she admonished him.

Maggie pulled the wooly cream colored robe tighter around herself, tying the belt securely and she stalked to the door, opening it to wait for Michael.  She watched him coming up the stairs, his soaked hair matted to his head.  His wet shoes squeaked softly with each footfall.  She started to say something snippy but noticed the haunted look in his eyes, so she simply stepped back and let him into the apartment.  She closed the door behind him and walked to the kitchen counter where she leaned back, crossing her arms, head cocked at him expectantly.

Michael stood just inside the doorway, rainwater pooling all around his feet.  He looked ill at ease and uncertain.

“Well?” she finally said.

He ran his fingers through his wet hair and sighed deeply.

“Oh for God’s sake, Michael!”  She left him standing there and returned with a large blue towel.  “You’re soaked.”

She took his jacket from him and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair.  As he used the towel to dry his face and hair, she couldn’t help herself.  “Are you drunk?”

He frowned and shook his head.  “I’m not drunk.  I had some bourbon.  I might be drunk.  A little.”

Maggie rolled her eyes.  “Sit down.  I’m making you some coffee so we can send you home.  Have you eaten lately?”

“I don’t know.”  Michael sank onto a chair at the kitchen table.  He glanced around as Maggie busied herself putting a kettle of water on the stove and taking a French press from a cupboard.

“I hope I’m not causing a problem with your fiancé.  Husband?  Whatever.”

Maggie paused to look at him, her lips forming a grim line.  “Yeah, well, that didn’t work out so…no worries.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

She worked in silence breaking eggs into a bowl and putting strips of bacon into a skillet as Michael sat at the table and occasionally used the towel to swipe at his face.   On the stove, the bacon began to sizzle as the kettle whistled.  Maggie poured the boiling water into the press and let it stand for a moment as she chopped a small onion and part of a green pepper.

“Did you know Stan Hodges died?” Michael finally asked.

Maggie arched an eyebrow.  “I was at the funeral.  Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” he answered vaguely.  He watched her grate cheddar into the eggs.  Then she pressed the plunger on the coffee and poured some into a cornflower blue mug with a white script ‘M’ on the side.

M for Maggie. Or Michael.  He shook his head to dismiss the inane thought.  Looking around the small apartment, he asked, “Why are you still here?”

Maggie glanced over her shoulder.  “What, I should move uptown into one of your glass and steel monstrosities?”

“I was just thinking that you could afford a bigger place, that’s all.”

“This may be a tiny apartment but this building has soul.  Once upon a time, a family called this place home.  Maybe I can’t afford to own a whole townhouse but at least I can rent a small part of it.”

Michael watched her for a moment.  “You could have bought your own townhouse if you’d stayed with the firm.”

Maggie turned around and leaned against the counter, crossing her arms.  “If I’d stayed, I’d have been out of a job along with everyone else.  You really tanked everyone, you know that, right?”

He looked down at his hands.  “I wouldn’t have pursued the television thing if you’d still been there.”

She snorted, returning to her cutting board.  “Bullshit.  Being on the news every night is exactly your thing.  You can’t put that off on me.”

She set the coffee in front of him.  “What are you doing here, Michael?”

He stalled, sipping the steaming hazelnut blend.  “This isn’t where I meant to be.  I went out and ended up down here in the Village.  I was at the Blue Note until they kicked everybody out.  I got a little lost and then realized I was across the street from your apartment.”

Maggie turned back to her omelet, stirring in the vegetables.  The bacon had quieted down and she turned over the strips, causing them to erupt into loud sizzling once again.  “Why are you here?” she asked again.

“I’m sick,” he said quietly.

“I don’t doubt it.  It’s forty degrees outside and you’re soaked.  It’s a wonder you don’t have pneumonia.”

“It’s cancer.”

Maggie froze mid-stir.  “What?”  Slowly, she turned around.

“Cancer.”

“Shit.”  She crossed to the table and sank onto the chair across from him, gaping at him wide-eyed.

“There was this spot.  And then they found out it was melanoma.”  Michael’s face twisted.  “Mags, you wouldn’t believe the chunk they cut out of my shoulder.”

“Well, they got it then,” she said.  “Good.  That’s good, right?”

“Bacon’s burning,” Michael said quietly.

“Fuck!”  She jumped up and took the pan off the burner.

“I like it that way,” he offered as she set the strips of bacon on a paper towel to drain and poured the omelet into the pan.

“So after they took the hunk out of my arm they did a biopsy.  It was melanoma, just like the doctor said.  Then they had me get a PET scan.  Said they needed to see if it had spread.”

Maggie worked mechanically at the egg mixture in the pan, listening intently as he spoke.  “And?” she asked as she slid the omelet onto a blue ceramic plate.  She placed it in front of him and sat down again.

“And they called this afternoon to say they have the results.  The doctor wouldn’t discuss it over the phone.  He wants me to come in tomorrow.”  He looked down at the plate.  “He said I should have someone with me.”

“Oh my God.  Michael.”

He nodded.  “I started making phone calls.  That’s how I found out about Stan.  Which was after I called Murph and then Jimbo.  They pretty much told me to go fuck myself.”

Maggie watched him grimly.  I imagine they did. 

“I called some of the women I go out with.  I guess everybody has a lot going on.”  He sighed.  “I thought about calling you.  But, I don’t know.  I’ve been an asshole.  Plus I figured you were busy with getting married and stuff.”  He met her eyes.  “I didn’t mean to come here, honest to God.”

She watched him pick at the omelet.  “My agent’s pissed at me because I bailed on some appearances.  Asking her to come with me is out of the question.  She’s probably not in town anyway.”

Michael shook his head.  “I don’t know why they’re insisting that someone comes with me to that appointment tomorrow.  I should just go and find out what the scan shows, figure out where to go from there.  It’s just…”  His voice broke.  “Mags, I’m scared shitless.”  He put down the fork and held his head in his hands.

Maggie could never have imagined a scenario in which S. Michael Rannigan would break down sobbing at her kitchen table.  She felt as though her heart would break.

“Michael,” she said softly, standing beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder.  His body shook as he let loose the emotions that had been building since the day the nightmare had started.  “It’s okay,” she murmured.  “It’s okay, everything’s going to be alright.”  She waited for him to quiet down.  “What time is your appointment?”

Michael sat up, sniffing and using the towel to wipe his face.  “Shit.”  He coughed and took a sip of coffee.  “I have to be there at 1:30.”

Maggie looked over to where her files still sat scattered in the living room.  She knew they probably represented ten hours of work for the following day and she sighed heavily.  “Where is the doctor’s office?”

“It’s on E. 80th between 2nd and 3rd.”

She nodded.  “Okay.  I’ll tell Rance that I have to leave at lunch.  I’ll meet you there.”

“I can’t ask you to do that,” Michael said quickly, but he looked at her with such gratitude she felt the sting of tears in her eyes and a huge lump formed in her throat.

She coughed lightly.  “You didn’t ask, although you seem to have asked everyone else in your Contacts, and I’m going to try not to take that personally,” she said.  “I’m offering.  Take it or leave it.”

Michael smiled thinly.  “I’ve missed your smartass.  I’d be so glad to have you with me.”

Maggie nodded.  “Done.  But if for some reason I’m running late, you go on in.  I’ll be there.  I promise.”  She took his plate and warmed it in the microwave before placing it in front of him again.  “Now finish this up.  I’m calling you a cab and sending you on your way.”

RR2 review

RUNNING ROGUE is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RunningRogue

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You can also find the entire trilogy in one complete boxed set.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

The past week was literally stellar for Rannigan’s Redemption.  The books in the series received FOUR 5-STAR REVIEWS over the last seven days.  I’m thrilled that the story is still resonating with readers.

Rannigan’s Redemption is a 3-novel erotic romance/law drama about high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and his complicated relationship with smart red-haired Maggie Flynn, the recent law school grad he hires to join his elite firm.  One night of passion tears them apart.  Desperation will bring them back together.  Can Michael find redemption for all the ways he’s failed her?

rannigan2

This week’s excerpt is from the second book in the trilogy, RUNNING ROGUE.

Maggie strode purposefully across the lobby of Michael’s building.  It had been a shit week and knowing that she had to work all weekend to make up for what she’d missed, all she wanted to do was to check in on Michael, deliver his soup, and head home to a nice hot bath and a large glass of wine.  Ahead of her a man was just stepping into the elevator and she increased her pace, hoping to make it before the doors closed.  He turned and their eyes met just as the doors slid shut.

“Well, shit!” she muttered, juggling her purse, her brief case, and the bag from the deli.  Just then the doors slid back open.

“Sorry about that,” the man said, “I didn’t realize you were right behind me.”  He held open the door as she stepped in and turned around.  “What floor?”

Maggie glanced up at him.  He was tall with broad shoulders, muscular without being muscle-bound, with wavy brown hair and sparkling blue eyes framed by the longest lashes she’d ever seen on a man.  She’d noticed a bit of a drawl when he spoke.  Dressed in a t-shirt and sweatpants, he’d apparently been working out in the gym.  He stood beaming at her with a boyish grin on his face and he seemed to be waiting for her.  She realized she was staring.

Oh, shit!  What floor?  “Oh, sorry, um, twenty-one, please.”

He grinned again.  “Twenty-one.  That’s my floor, too.”  He held out a hand.  “I’ve only been here a couple of months.  We haven’t met yet.  I’m Bobby.”

Maggie shifted the deli bag and grasped his hand.  “Um, I’m Maggie.  I don’t actually live here.  I’m visiting a friend.”  She paused.  “Do you know Michael in 2101?”

Bobby’s eyes widened and he took a step back.  “Oh.  You’re one of Michael’s girls.”

Maggie frowned.  “No.  I am absolutely not one of Michael’s girls.  Nope.  Not me.  No way.”  She shook her head emphatically.

Bobby grinned wryly.  “So you’re not one of Michael’s girls.”

She felt her face flush.  “I’ve known Michael for a long time.  We used to work together.  He’s a little…under the weather, and I told him I’d stop by, bring him some soup.”  She held up the deli bag for emphasis.

He flashed the boyish grin, blue eyes sparkling with amusement.  Maggie felt her pulse race and a warm flush crept up her neck.  What the hell?

“So you’re a lawyer.”

She nodded.  “Yep.  Sorry.”

“Why sorry?”

“Everybody hates lawyers,” she replied as the elevator doors opened on the twenty-first floor.  She stepped out into the hallway and immediately went down hard on her left knee.

“Motherfucker!” she cried out.

Bobby was beside her instantly.  “Are you alright?  What happened?”

Maggie looked around.  “My shoe.”  The heel of her right shoe was caught in the space between the elevator and the hallway.  It had snapped off as she stepped forward.  Bobby grabbed it before the doors closed, then gently took her arm and helped her up.

“Did you hurt yourself?” he asked, concerned.

“I’m alright, really,” she replied shakily.  Blood was dripping from her knee and running in rivulets all the way down her shin.

“You banged up your knee.”

“But I saved the soup, so there’s that,” she quipped.

He placed a hand on the small of her back and walked her down the hall, stopping at a door.  “This is me,” he said.  “Come in and let me at least bandage you up.”  Maggie regarded him warily.

“I’m not an axe murderer, I promise,” he laughed.

She frowned.  “Isn’t that exactly what an axe murderer would say?” she said as he unlocked the door.

“Tell you what–we’ll leave the door open.  You can sit right here.”  He pointed to a bench in the foyer.  “If I make any sudden moves you can run for it,” he chuckled.

Sheepishly, Maggie sank onto the bench.  Truthfully, her knee hurt.  She set down her things and glanced up at him.  “Thanks,” she said quietly.

Bobby smiled and gestured to his right.  “I’ll just…go get my axe.”

She could hear him in another room rummaging around through something.  She removed her broken shoe and held up the dismembered heel.  It had come clean off the sole.  An image flashed through her mind of the shoe repair shop just around the corner from her apartment.

“I can fix that for you.”  Startled, she looked up.  Bobby had returned with first aid supplies.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” she said quickly.  “There’s a shop near my place.”

He poured alcohol on some gauze and knelt beside her.  “It won’t take me two seconds,” he murmured, dabbing at her knee.

Maggie breathed in sharply.  “Ouch!  Ow ow ow!” she protested softly.

Bobby looked up at her.  “Sorry, cher,” he said, “we’ve got to get it cleaned out.”  Gently he grasped the back of her calf and raised her leg, wiping away the streaks of blood.

Maggie stared at him, scarcely breathing.  There was something electric about his touch, so strong yet so tender.

He finished cleaning her shin and returned to her knee, carefully placing a large bandage over the scrape.  “There you are, good as new.  Well, almost,” he smiled.

He took the shoe and heel from her.  “I really can fix this for you.  I’d just have to find my tools,” he nodded his head toward the other room.  “I should really unpack anyway,” he smiled ruefully.

Maggie rose from the bench and stood lopsided on one heel.  “I don’t want to be more trouble than I’ve already been.”

            Something tells me that you’re all kinds of trouble, cher.  “It’s no trouble.  Besides, I’d be worried about you limping along like Quasimodo on your way home,” he laughed.

She laughed, too.  “Well, alright then.  Thank you.  And thanks for…”  She glanced down at her knee.

“It’s my pleasure, cher,” he said quietly.

Maggie felt as though suddenly all the air had gone out of the room.  She stared up into his amazing blue eyes.  She opened her mouth but no words came out.

He spoke.  “Just stop by when you’re finished at Michael’s.  If I have to leave before that, I’ll bring you your shoe.”

RR2 review

RUNNING ROGUE is available at this link:
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Weekend Excerpt–RESISTING RISK

pandoraspocks2I am beyond thrilled!  This week, RESISTING RISK, the first book in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy, received two more 5-STAR reviews!

The book has been out since December 2015, so I’m always happy when people discover it. Rannigan’s Redemption is a three-novel contemporary erotic romance/law drama.

Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan is great at what he does.  As the high-profile face of the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny, he dazzles juries and charms the press.  He’s also an inveterate player, shunning relationships in favor of shallow trysts with vapid blondes.

Enter smart redhead Maggie Flynn, the recent law school grad Michael hires to join his elite 50th floor team.  She’s been in love with him from the beginning, and she has no illusions about his character.  But she’s seen glimpses of the man he could be.  So for now, she’s content to work alongside him.  What would happen if they ever crossed that line?

For this week’s excerpt, here’s a little teaser from RESISTING RISK.

“Maggie, is the turkey ready?” Casey asked.

Maggie checked the clock and shook her head.  “No way, it has at least another hour, then it has to rest.  We can put in the beans and the stuffing when it comes out.  Nate, how do we reheat the red beans and rice?”

As Nate answered Maggie’s question, Ben wandered over to the window.  The buzzer rang again.  Ben glanced at Maggie in the kitchen.  “Somebody’s buzzing downstairs, Flynn.”

Casey was helping Maggie turn the turkey around in the oven.  “Well can you please buzz them in?  I’m a little busy here.”

Ben pressed the buzzer but made no move to open the apartment door.  About a minute later there was a knock.  The others were engrossed in the football game.  Ben stayed put.  “Somebody’s at the door, Flynn.”

“Oh for God’s sake, I’ll just drop everything and get it myself,” said Maggie, tossing down pot holders in exasperation.

Maggie flung open the door to find Michael standing in the hallway.  He grinned sheepishly.  “Merry Christmas, Mags.”

She blinked, confused.  “Michael, I…I mean, Merry Christmas.  But what…Shouldn’t you be in St. Bart’s?”

“I got snowed in.  My flight was cancelled.  I have a charter later on, but I thought I’d stop by here.  Do you have room for another orphan?”

A slow smile spread across her face.  “Of course, there’s always room.  Come on in.”

Maggie turned to find that everyone in the apartment was watching the two of them.  “Everyone, this is Michael.  Michael, everyone.”

“Hello, Merry Christmas,” he greeted the group.  To Maggie, “I brought wine.  I wasn’t sure…”

“Wine is perfect, thanks,” she told him.  Waving toward the kitchen she said, “Help yourself to something to drink.  We’ve been enjoying the munchies out of your gift basket.  Dinner will probably be another hour or so.”  She smiled at him.  “I’m so glad you’re here.  Shocked, but glad.”

After he dropped his coat and his suitcase in Maggie’s bedroom with the other coats, Michael got a beer for himself and settled in the living room, striking up a conversation with the guys watching football.  Casey sidled up to Maggie in the kitchen.  “You didn’t tell me Mr. Wonderful was coming.”

“I didn’t know Michael was coming.  He’s supposed to be in the Caribbean.  With someone, you understand, nobody goes to the Caribbean alone.”

“Maybe.  But he’s here now.”

Michael relaxed on the couch and looked around appreciatively at all the activity.  Maggie and Casey were in the kitchen along with a couple he didn’t know.  There was an older woman chatting with Nate from the firm.  Several others were watching football.  Everyone seemed happy and at home.

“This is nice,” he commented to Ben.  “It feels like a scene from Rent.”

Ben smirked.  “Viva la vie Boheme!” he raised his beer.

Michael chuckled and raised his beer as well.  “La vie Boheme.”

Dinner was served on three tables pushed together in the middle of the living room.  Plates were filled buffet-style in the kitchen.  Ben insisted that Maggie toast before they ate.

She raised her glass of wine.  “I feel like the luckiest girl.  I’m here celebrating the holiday with my most favorite people in the entire world.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.  Merry Christmas!”

After everyone ate as much as they could, the guys agreed to do all the clean-up.  Maggie supervised returning the tables to their proper places then sank onto the sofa, resting her feet on the coffee table.

“What about the dessert, Flynn?” Ben asked when the leftovers were packed up.

“Let’s be informal.  Grab some if you want some.  I want to do presents,” Maggie said.  Michael brought her a fresh glass of wine.  She looked up at him, grinning in appreciation, and patted the space beside her.

“I’ll sit on the floor, I don’t mind,” he said, sliding to a spot beside her feet.

“Now the way this works is, everyone takes a number.  We go in order starting at 1.  Number 1 picks first.  Number 2 can pick a new present or steal from Number 1.  Everybody got it?” Ben asked.  Maggie watched in amusement as some played shyly while others were cut-throat.

“What’s this?” Michael asked quietly.  She looked down to see him holding an ornament from the tree.  It was a small red glass ball held by a green paper cone.  Her name was spelled out in glitter.

“I think I was about six when I made that,” she smiled.  “The Christmas ornaments were some of the few things I took from my dad’s house.”

He grinned.  “I like it.”

When the gifts were over, Maggie had a new hand-crocheted toilet-roll cover.  Michael had a $10 gift card to Starbucks.  “Guess somebody didn’t get the memo,” he quipped so that only Maggie heard, and she giggled softly.

He winked and leaned close.  “Mags, I should be making my way to the airport.”

“Okay,” Maggie sighed.  “I’ll walk you out.”  She got her coat and hat while he said his goodbyes.  “I’ll be right back,” she said to Casey as they headed out of the apartment.  They walked down the stairs without chatting.

Once out on the sidewalk, Michael turned and faced her.  “I had a great time, Mags.  Thanks for inviting me.”  He glanced up.  “We have an audience, by the way.”  He waved at the crowd gathered in Maggie’s front window.

She looked up at them, scowling.  “Come on,” she said, turning right and heading down the sidewalk.  She stopped just around the corner.

Michael smiled.  “Thanks.  I just wanted to say goodbye privately.  I brought you a gift but I didn’t want to give it to you in there.”  He pulled a small flat box from his pocket.  It was light blue, tied with a white ribbon.

Maggie’s eyes widened.  “Sean Michael Rannigan, you did not!”

“How did you know the S stands for Sean?

She shrugged.  “Everyone knows it’s Sean.  I can’t believe you went to Tiffany…”  She stopped and looked up at him, smiling sadly.  “This wasn’t for me.  This is supposed to be for someone else.”

“No, Mags, this is for you,” he said earnestly.  “I mean, to be honest, I went there yesterday looking for something for Jana.”

“What, Toys R Us and GapKids were closed?” Maggie quipped.

“Ah-hah-hah, you’re very funny.  I found a little trinket to give to Jana, but then I turned and saw this.  All I could think was that you should have it.  It’s for you, Mags.”

Curious, Maggie slowly pulled the white ribbon and lifted the lid.  In the box resting on light blue velvet was a delicate silver bracelet.  It had a vintage look to it with large rectangular milky white cabochons alternating with trios of small round diamonds surrounded by platinum filigree.  She looked back up at Michael, eyes wide.

“Those are moonstones,” he said proudly.  “This was in the vintage case.  It was made in 1915.”  He gazed at the bracelet.  “It’s graceful and classy, just like you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Michael.  I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.  Will you help me put it on?”

He lifted the bracelet from the box and as Maggie held out her left hand he fastened it around her wrist.  She held it out and watched it catch the natural light.  As she did, she noticed a tiny platinum tag hanging from the clasp.  Peering closer she saw that it was engraved.  To Maggie, From Michael. 

“See?  I told you it was for you.”  She looked back up at him, eyes shining, and as she did, a gust of wind caught some stray hair, blowing it across her face.  Michael gently moved the errant strands, tucking them behind her ear.  Without planning it at all, he planted a tender kiss on her lips.

He moved back slightly as Maggie looked up at him, eyes shining with desire.  He leaned into her again, the kiss this time all heat and passion.  She brought her left hand up to cradle his right cheek, her desire matching his.  When he stopped kissing her, he pulled her close, tucking her under his chin and they stood like that for a moment.

Finally, he gently set her back from him.  She looked up, the sad glint once again in her eyes.  After all, he was leaving her to go to someone else.  “Merry Christmas, Mags.”

“Merry Christmas, Michael.”

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Weekend Excerpt–RANSOMING REDEMPTION

RR3 promo

Rannigan’s Redemption is an epic 3-novel contemporary erotic romance/law drama.  It’s the story of the complicated relationship between hotshot Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart, talented redhead he hires straight out of law school to join his prestigious firm.

RANSOMING REDEMPTION is Book 3 of the trilogy.

[Beware: Spoilers ahead!]

Maggie is so far from Michael’s usual taste in women, the vapid bottle-blondes he keeps on speed dial.  He can’t figure what it is about Maggie that he can’t quite get out of his mind.  After a night of passion ends in disaster, the pair go their separate ways, each of them making questionable decisions both professionally and personally.

In the process, Michael burns all the bridges he had left, so when his world comes crashing down, he doesn’t know where to turn.  Only Maggie is willing to stand beside him.  Michael’s all wrong for Maggie, he knows that.  He could never be the man she needs.

But he’s met someone who might fit the bill.  If only Maggie will give him a chance.  Putting Maggie and Bobby together is part of Michael’s attempt at redemption.  But is it enough?

Here’s an exclusive new excerpt from RANSOMING REDEMPTION, the third and final volume of Rannigan’s Redemption.

Spent, Bobby tenderly kissed Maggie’s temple, separated his body from hers, and collapsed beside her on the bed.  Following their union on the couch, they’d moved into the bedroom, making love for hours.

“Now the bed is much fucked-upon,” Maggie giggled.

He gave her a wry look and linked his fingers with hers.  “Lucky bed.  Lucky me,” Bobby murmured.

Maggie rolled onto her stomach and propped her chin on her hands.  “I’m pretty sure I’m the lucky one.  Sore, in a good way obviously, but lucky.”

“We’ll compromise and say we’re both lucky,” he said, lightly tracing the tiny sun tattoo on her hip.  A smile played on his lips.  “Tell me about this, cher.”

She glanced over her shoulder to the yellow and orange sun before looking back at him, a sly smile spreading across her face.  “Casey and I went to Daytona for Spring Break one year during law school.”

Bobby grinned as he imagined young Maggie on the loose for Spring Break.  “We were kind of drunk and I wanted to go back to the hotel, but on the way we passed a tattoo shop and she dragged me inside.  She got this really stupid unicorn.”  Maggie laughed.  “I can’t ever tell her it’s stupid.  She probably realizes it by now anyway.”

She looked back at Bobby.  “So there we were and I couldn’t decide what to get.  Then I saw this.”  A pensive look crossed her face.  “Casey didn’t realize that it was the anniversary of my father’s death.”

She breathed out and paused.  Bobby waited patiently.  “My dad used to sing this song to me when I was little.”  She looked up at him through her lashes.  “When I saw the sun, I knew.  It’s kind of weird, I suppose, getting a tattoo on my ass to remind me of my dad.”

“It’s your hip, not your ass.  And I think it’s a beautiful reminder of special times with your father.”  He gave her a look.  “I sing that song to Savannah.  Must be a father/daughter kind of thing.”

She watched him steadily, her eyes sparkling in the half-light.  “I never told anyone that before.  Even Casey doesn’t know why I chose the sun.”

“I’m honored that you shared it with me.”  He stroked her cheek, and she turned to plant a kiss on his palm.  “Speaking of sharing intimate things, you mentioned something over the phone that I found interesting.”  She waited, brow furrowed, to hear what he would say.  “You said you might be interested in having my cum on you?”

“Oh, God!” Maggie muttered, covering her face with her hands.  “I’d had some wine and you were far, far away.”

Bobby grinned, arching an eyebrow.  “Maggie Flynn is something of a kinkster,” he teased, twirling a lock of her hair around his finger.  “I love it.  Cum on your tits, don’t mind being a little sore…  What else might you be interested in?”

She blushed deeply.  “I don’t know, I was just talking.”  Uncomfortable, she chewed her lower lip.

He lightly stroked from her shoulder down to her tattoo and back up again.  “You can tell me.  Blindfolds?  Cuffs?  Toys?” he asked softly.

She chewed her lip harder and nodded sheepishly.  Bobby laughed.  “Oh, cher, you are such a hellcat.  Have you done those things before?  Why are you shy to tell me what you like?”

Her eyes widened and she pushed herself up, sitting on the edge of the bed with her back to him.  “Because I don’t want you to think…”

“Think what?”

“I don’t want you to think I’m a whore,” she whispered.

Baffled, Bobby sat up behind her, his hand on her back.  “Jesus, Maggie, why would I think that?  Is this about your fiancé?  You told me before that he wasn’t good to you.  I didn’t mean to open up old wounds.”

She waved him off.  “It’s no big deal.”

He pressed his lips to her shoulder.  “You can talk to me, cher.”

Maggie sighed and allowed him to pull her back against his chest.  They rested against the pillows and he wrapped her in his arms, tucking her under his chin.  Absently she stroked his chest.  “I met Mike when he was the arresting officer on one of my cases.  After I met with him and his partner at their precinct, he followed me out and asked me to have a drink with him that night.”

“Mm-hmm,” he encouraged.  She felt the vibration through his chest.

“Well, so I did meet him for drinks that night after work.”  She breathed out sharply.  “And I slept with him.”

Bobby waited but she seemed finished.  “And?  Cher, you met a guy you were attracted to and you had sex with him.  Consenting adults do it all the time.”

I don’t.  I don’t do it all the time,” she said.  “But I was lonely and he seemed nice.  The next thing I knew we were dating, and then we were engaged, for fuck’s sake.  I didn’t really even like him.  And he was crap in bed.”

She looked up at him trying to decide how much more to say.  “I never came with him.  Not once.  I tried to, you know, suggest a few things.  But he just shut me down.”

Thinking about the multiple times she’d come since they’d been together, he pulled her closer, kissing her forehead.  “So what made you finally end it?”

“We went to Rance’s wedding.  It turned out that Michael was there, too.  I was surprised.  I hadn’t seen him in over a year.  So he and I talked for a few minutes and that was it.  When Mike and I got home he went ballistic, practically accused me of fucking Michael right there at the wedding.”

Bobby’s mind went to his own insecurities that had been on display earlier in the evening.  He sighed as he lightly caressed her upper arm.

“He told me that nobody but a whore would sleep with a guy on the first date,” she whispered.  “I felt so ashamed.”

“Oh, ma ‘tite cher,” he hugged her tightly.  “Remember what you said earlier about scars?  You’re a sensual, passionate woman.  You enjoy making love.  That doesn’t make you a whore.  He’s an idiot.  You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.”

Maggie looked up at him solemnly, unsure whether or not to believe him.

“You scared him, cher.  He didn’t know how to handle a smart, hot blooded, sexy woman like you.”

She seemed thoughtful.  “Do you know how to handle me?”

He gazed at her lovingly.  “Learn what you like and give you a lot of it.  It’s not that complicated.”  Leaning down, he placed a chaste kiss on her lips.

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Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

Rannigan 2 promo

Rannigan’s Redemption is an epic, 3-novel erotic romance law drama.  It’s the complicated story of arrogant Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart, redhaired lawyer he hires to join his elite defense practice.

Their friendship is instant, as is their mutual, but unexpressed, attraction.  They come from vastly different worlds.  Michael is vain and shallow, leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake.  Maggie is a realist, but she sees the man he could be.

RUNNING ROGUE is Book 2 of the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy, picking up where RESISTING RISK left off.

Michael and Maggie have gone their separate ways following a night of passion that ended badly.  Now they’re both making questionable choices, professionally and personally.  Once colleagues in criminal defense, they find themselves on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Here’s an excerpt from RUNNING ROGUE.

It was finally time for closing arguments and Michael couldn’t be happier.  This trial had taken too long.  The jurors were tired, he could see it in their faces.  Was it a mistake to use all that expert testimony?  It had irritated him that Maggie didn’t bother to question his witnesses.  She was playing it smug.  She’d find out that taking that tack was folly.  He was almost certain.

He launched into his summation, fixing each member of the jury with his signature smile.  He charmed them as he recounted pertinent testimony, reminding them of the mountain of scientific evidence he’d laid out before them.  They were smart, reasonable people.  His client was being unfairly scapegoated, accused of being responsible for a terrible accident that was not his fault.

Michael glanced back dramatically at his client.  “Jean-Luc and I want to thank you for your time and for your thoughtful consideration of all of the facts.  We know that you’ll see that the only reasonable verdict is ‘not guilty.’  Thank you.”  He grinned at them appreciatively and returned to his seat.

Maggie watched him walk by and sit beside Jean-Luc.  He flashed her a knowing look and she saw the challenge in his eyes.  She slowly stood and walked to the jury box, standing before them with her hands gently clasped in front of her.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for your patience.  This has been a long trial.  Mr. Rannigan has presented an impressive amount of evidence.”  She gestured toward the defense table.  “We’ve heard testimony about tire tracks, needles of different sizes, weather conditions…  I’m surprised we haven’t heard about sunspots and astrological signs.”  She smiled, as did some of the jurors.

Aw, shit, Michael thought.

“The facts of this case remain the same.  That night, Jean-Luc LeRoi drank copious amounts of alcohol, a fact backed up by eyewitness testimony.  He got behind the wheel of an expensive high-performance automobile.  He lost control of that vehicle due, in part, to the fact that his blood alcohol level was several times over the legal limit.  When that car hit the water, he was concerned only about his own safety, never bothering to assist Julie Baker, who according to expert testimony was alive and well following the crash.  Jean-Luc LeRoi made sure he got to safety, even secured a ride to another bar where he callously continued to drink, while Julie Baker drowned.”  She shook her head piteously.  “All the rest of the evidence…is just smoke and mirrors.”  Maggie turned away from the jury and crossed to the table where Malik sat, letting that thought sink in.

Returning to face them a moment later, she continued.  “We heard Gail Evers, the ER nurse, tell us that out of concern for Mr. LeRoi’s comfort, she used a small-bore needle to perform the blood draw.”  She looked at each juror.  “If it had been me, or you, there wouldn’t have been any special consideration.  I mean, we’re just regular people, working hard every day to put food on our tables and shoes on our kids.  People like Jean-Luc LeRoi are accustomed to receiving special consideration.  They come to expect it, feel entitled to it.”

Michael saw the frowns on the jurors’ faces.  This was going very badly.

Maggie continued.  “And they feel entitled to behave in any manner they see fit, regardless of how their actions impact others.  Jean-Luc felt entitled to drink as much as he pleased, to drive that Maserati as fast as he pleased, and when that went south, he felt entitled to leave that accident and to leave Julie Baker to fend for herself.  He’s guilty, at the very least, of DUI manslaughter, if not felony first degree murder.  That is for you to decide.  You have the opportunity to send the message that nobody is entitled to break the law at someone else’s expense.”  She softly pounded the rail in front of the jury box to emphasize the last sentence.  “Thank you.”

Maggie returned to her seat, her eyes meeting Michael’s with a triumphant gleam.  If I didn’t win this thing, I did my absolute damnedest.

The judge gave instructions to the jury and they were sent to deliberate.  Jean-Luc was taken back to his cell.  Maggie and Malik began to gather up their things.

“Food on our tables and shoes on our kids?”  Maggie looked up to find Michael standing beside her.

She grinned.  “Did you like that?  I just wanted to create camaraderie.”

Michael laughed softly.  “Not too shabby, Mags.”

“Good luck, Michael,” she said honestly.

He gave her a look.  “I’d say the same but I’m not sure you need it.”

Three days later they were all called back to hear the verdict.  Maggie sat anxiously clasping her hands together under the defense table.  Michael sat across the aisle chatting confidently with his client but she saw the tightness in his face.  The jury passed their verdict to the bailiff who handed it to the judge.  He glanced at the slip of paper before handing it back, instructing the defendant to rise.  Out of the corner of her eye, Maggie could see Michael, Jean-Luc, and Amy stand.

The jury foreperson read aloud.  “As to count one, felony first degree murder, we the jury find the defendant, Jean-Luc LeRoi, not guilty.”  Maggie breathed out forcefully and out of the corner of her eye she saw everyone at the defense table relax a bit.

“As to count two, DUI manslaughter, we the jury find the defendent, Jean-Luc LeRoi, guilty.”  Maggie closed her eyes.  We did it.  He’s going away for a long time.

The judge addressed Jean-Luc.  “You’ve been found guilty of DUI manslaughter by a jury of your peers.  I hereby sentence you to sixteen years in prison.”  As the judge banged his gavel, there was a buzz of voices throughout the courtroom.

As two deputies approached Jean-Luc to handcuff him for the return to jail, Michael was speaking into his ear, but Jean-Luc’s eyes were on Maggie.  He suddenly scrambled over the table and leaped on Maggie, knocking her to the floor.  “You useless cunt!” he growled, gripping her around the neck.

The deputies were quick to grab Jean-Luc by his arms, pulling him off Maggie and dragging him backwards.  Malik knelt down beside Maggie, who lay gasping for air.

As they dragged his client away, Michael leaned over her.  “Are you okay, Mags?” he asked, his deep brown eyes wide with concern.  He and Malik helped her sit up.

“I’m fine,” she croaked as she moved to stand.

“Ms. Flynn, do you require medical attention?” the judge asked.

Maggie stood shakily.  “No, your honor, I’m alright.”

Late that afternoon Maggie and Malik joined the rest of the office at Pete’s Tavern for celebratory drinks.  Unlike Murphy, Rannigan, Rance’s office rarely had official gatherings after work, but this was an exception.  Maggie wasn’t sure she was in the mood to celebrate, but she was pleased that Jean-Luc would be separated from the rest of the world for a long time.  Truthfully, she was still a bit shaken from his attack, but she’d have chewed off her own arm rather than admit it to anyone.

Rance was pleased with Maggie’s work and told her more than once that he should have trusted her instincts from the beginning.  “I’ll remind you of that next time,” she promised as she sipped her Guinness.

A server approached their table with a single drink on a tray.  She set the glass of bourbon in front of Maggie.  “From the gentleman at the bar,” she told her.  Maggie glanced over.  Michael smiled and raised his glass.

She shook her head and suppressed a smile.  “Excuse me a moment,” she said, picking up the glass and pushing back from the table.

She crossed the room and took the stool beside Michael.  “Thanks for the bourbon.”

“You’re welcome.  How’s your neck?”

Maggie shook her head dismissively.  “No worries.”

Michael squinted his eyes and watched her skeptically for a moment.  “Well, congratulations,” he smiled.  “You soundly kicked my ass today.”

Maggie grinned into her glass, sipping slowly.  “Your client was guilty.  I just pointed out the fact.”

“I’m filing an appeal,” he said softly.

She shrugged.  “I expected nothing less.”  They sipped companionably.

Michael nodded thoughtfully.  “You built your case and you kept it simple.  You appealed to the jurors as people.”

He stood.  “I don’t want to keep you from your party.  I just wanted to say…”  He looked down uncomfortably.  “I wanted to say that you did a good job.  You’re a great lawyer.”

“I learned from the best,” she said quietly.

Michael smiled, eyes crinkling.  Then he reached up and squeezed her shoulder gently before he turned and left the bar.

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