Valentine’s Day Behind the Book–Chasing Ordinary

Happy Valentine’s Day!

    

CHASING ORDINARY, my ‘spicy vanilla’ modern-day fairy tale
is LIVE at your favorite online bookseller.

Today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to take you Behind the Book.

In the story, red-haired Petey Cavanaugh is a young widow, living on her in-laws’ Montana sheep ranch.  She helps with the ranch during the day, working at night on her steel and glass sculptures.

When Petey’s best friend Jules, her former art school roommate, arranges a gallery show of her work, Petey jumps at the chance to bring in a little extra money to expand the ranch’s business.

I wanted Jules to have a really cool Manhattan apartment, and in doing my research, I found this fantastic place on the upper east side.  See what you think.  (Photos via Realtor.com)

Nik, in New York on business, meets Petey quite by accident one rainy evening.  He’s instantly taken with her intelligence, talent, and easy manner.  As they chat over apple pie and coffee, he realizes she has no idea he’s Europe’s most eligible prince.  Spending time with Petey is his first-ever taste of ordinary, and he knows he wants more.  But he has to tell her the truth about himself soon, before she finds out for herself.

I figured a crown prince would stay in an ultra-luxurious hotel.  I finally settled on the Royal Plaza Suite at the Park Plaza.  Go ahead and take a little tour.  Notice the elegant dining table?  In the book, some naughty business happens there…

CHASING ORDINARY is now available
at your favorite online bookseller.
And just between you and me,
the 99¢ sale is held over for Valentine’s Day.
Get your copy here: books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary

 

Weekend Excerpt–CHASING ORDINARY Releases Tuesday, Feb. 13

My new ‘spicy vanilla’ modern-day adult fairy tale, CHASING ORDINARY, comes out Tuesday, February 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day!  It’s the dreamy romance I’ve always wanted to read.

Until release day, you can
reserve your copy
for the special pre-order rate of 99¢!

Here’s the official description:

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the official CHASING ORDINARY book trailer.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, how about a steamy excerpt?

Magnum?  Seriously?”

Bedroom mess with lingerie shoes and condom quick sex conceptHe pulled her closer, gently running his thumb across her lips.  “So pretty,” he breathed before plunging his mouth to hers.  She responded to his fervor, reaching to stroke his cheek, to tangle her fingers in the hair behind his ears.

Wrapping an arm around her waist, he pulled her astride his lap, never breaking their kiss.  Gripping her ass, he pulled her closer, aware of his burgeoning erection.  She rested her hands on his shoulders, grinding against him as she deepened the kiss.

The car stopped and the driver cleared his throat.  “We’re here, sir.”

Breathless, they froze.  In a husky voice, she said, “Do you want to come in?”

Eyes locked on hers, he nodded.  “Yes.  I would definitely like to come in.”

When the car door was opened, Petey stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of Jules’ apartment.  Nik followed, murmuring something Petey didn’t catch to the driver, who nodded, closed the door, and returned to the driver’s seat.  Petey looked to Nik questioningly.

“I told him I’d call when I’m ready to return to the hotel.”

Together, they made their way up the steps to the front door.  Nik paused, putting a hand on Petey’s shoulder.  “I don’t have…“  He raised his eyebrows.  “I didn’t have the thought that I’d need…“

Petey’s eyes widened.  “Oh,” she said, as she got his meaning.

He hooked a thumb in the direction of the car.  “I could have Lars go—“

“God, no!” she exclaimed, mortified.  “I’m sure Jules will have condoms.”

Red-faced, she unlocked the front door and let them into the entry.  Taking his hand, she led him to the steps he’d climbed earlier in the evening.  Four flights of stairs later at Jules’s apartment, she glanced up at him, blushing again as she unlocked the door and they quietly went inside.

A small lamp in the far corner and the light over the stove prevented the living room from being completely dark.  Glancing around as she closed the door, she saw Jules’ black overcoat hanging over the arm of a chair in the living room, and her bedroom door was closed.  Jules is home, she thought.

She turned to Nik, who took her hand and drew her closer, planting a soft kiss on her lips.

“Would you like some wine?” she whispered.

He nodded, so she carefully set her bag in the chair by Jules’ coat and crossed to the small refrigerator.  She took out a nearly full bottle of sauvignon blanc, and retrieved a pair of wine glassed from the cupboard over the fridge.  These she handed to Nik, nodding to the black iron spiral staircase.  “Go ahead upstairs,” she whispered.  “I’ll find the…”  She raised her eyebrows and nodded toward the bathroom.

Taking the wine and glasses, he kissed her again and softly padded up the stairs.

When she heard his footfalls on the loft above, Petey slipped off her ankle boots and tiptoed to the bathroom.  Gingerly, she opened the door to the medicine cabinet, but didn’t see what she was looking for.  Squatting, she opened the cabinet beneath the sink and frantically sorted through the various items there, with no luck.

“Shit!”  She wondered if she should have let Nik ask the driver to go to the 24-hour pharmacy down the street after all.

“Psst!”

Petey froze.  She heard it again.

“Psst!”

Peeking out the bathroom door, she saw that Jules’ bedroom door was cracked open and an extended hand proffered a box of condoms.

Petey took the box, scanning it quickly.  “Magnum?  Seriously?” she whispered.

Jules lifted her upturned palm in a one-handed gesture.

“Thanks!” Petey whispered.

Jules formed a circle with her thumb and forefinger, flashing the ‘okay’ signal, then quietly closed her door.

Breathing out nervously, Petey made her way back to the spiral staircase.


Wine and glasses in hand, Nik reached the top of the stairs and paused, taking in the scene.  The room was small, dominated by a king-sized bed covered with a white duvet.  A steel-grey velvet-upholstered headboard rested against a white wall, a gold-framed pair of botanical prints hanging over the bed.  Opposite the bed was a wall of white shelves, housing hundreds of books and the occasional objet d’art.

But he was drawn to the wall of glass beside him.  He let himself out onto the wooden deck, set the wine on a tiny bistro table, and crossed to the far side where a steel railing guarded the edge of the outdoor space.  He peered down at the street four floors below.  At this time of night, all was quiet in the residential neighborhood.  He knew from experience that the neighborhood around the Plaza was busy day and night.  He hadn’t thought to find such a quiet space within the city.

He turned to look back at the apartment, where he saw Petey reach the top of the stairs, her gorgeous red hair reflecting the moonlight shining in through the skylight.  He smiled as he watched her pause, looking around the room in puzzlement.  Then she turned and met his eyes, smiling in relief.

“Hello,” she said as she let herself out onto the deck.  “I wondered where you’d gone.”

Nik approached her, gesturing to the table.  “I couldn’t resist this lovely terrace.  It’s still such a beautiful night.”  He poured wine for both of them.

Petey accepted the glass he offered her, and they both sipped quietly.  She glanced at him shyly.  “I, um, found what I was looking for,” she said.

“Did you?” he smiled.  “No sending Lars to the chemist?”

She shook her head.  “No, we’re good to go.”

Nik stepped closer, wrapping his free arm around her waist and pressing his lips to hers.  She tasted of wine and desire.

Petey took a step back, taking his free hand.  “Let’s go inside.”

Taking their glasses with them, they returned inside to the bedroom.  Nik noticed the box she’d left on the bedside table.  They were, indeed, all systems go.

Petey set her wine glass on the table beside the box of condoms and took his glass, too.  She pressed her body to his, reaching up to grip his shoulders.  He leaned down to meet her, and she hungrily claimed his lips, her intensity surprising him.  Then he tightened his arms around her, meeting her heat with his own.  His erection pressed into her belly, and he slid his hands down to grip her firm ass.

She broke the kiss to trail light nips along his jaw line, then down his neck to his collarbone.  Stepping back, she looked up with a gleam in her eye, and began to loosen his tie.

Nik smiled indulgently as she draped the tie on a chair beside them, before going to work on his shirt.  As she exposed his chest, she kissed her way to each succeeding button, while sliding her hand down to the front of his trousers, where she massaged his iron shaft.

When his shirt was unbuttoned, she lightly kissed her way down the happy trail that disappeared at this waistband.  Nik heard a groan and realized that it had come from himself.

She slid the shirt from his shoulders and was momentarily foiled when the sleeves were caught at his wrists.  Fumbling, she discovered and unfastened platinum cuff links, placing them carefully on the bedside table.  “Oops,” she giggled softly.

Nik chuckled too, pulling her to him and kissing her again.  He reached down, grasping the hem of her dress, and slid it up, breaking his kiss to pull it over her head.  Beneath the dress was a matching bra and panty set of silver lace.  As he slid his gaze over her appreciatively, she did a slow twirl to show off the thong.

“Utterly breathtaking,” he murmured.

She smiled sheepishly.  “This was part of what Colin sent.”

“I wholeheartedly approve,” he nodded.  “I will definitely have him send more.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah.”

She turned, sending a smoldering look over her shoulder, as she reached behind her to unhook the bra, allowing it to slide to the floor.  Slowly, she turned back to face him.  Through the skylights, the moon bathed her breasts in silver light.  Her nipples were tight pink points, and whether from the coolness of the evening or from arousal, he couldn’t say.  For the moment, he simply stared.  “You’re so beautiful.”

Reaching slowly, he cupped her breasts, brushing the erect nibs with his thumbs.  He earned a whimper which he muffled with another deep, languid kiss.  Slowly, he moved them both, gently laying her across the bed.  He lowered himself over her, capturing her lips with his for another brief kiss before wandering lower, unable to resist the temptation of her tight points.

She arched into him as he suckled, lavishing her peaks with his tongue.  As he did, he slid his hand slowly up the inside of her thigh to her sex, cupping it, feeling heat rising from there.  He pressed down with the heel of his hand and Petey gasped, arching once again.  Emboldened by her responsiveness, he pulled aside the grey lace thong and massaged her pussy for a moment before sliding a pair of fingers between her slippery folds.

“Oh, God,” she gasped.

He continued to finger her for a few moments before he withdrew his digits, popping them into his mouth, his stormy blue eyes smoldering.  “Du smager så godt,” he murmured.  “You taste so good.”

CHASING ORDINARY will be available at your favorite online bookseller at this universal link: books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary

Don’t forget to take advantage of the 99¢ pre-order until Tuesday.

Chasing Ordinary 7

Cover Reveal! CHASING ORDINARY

Chasing Ordinary 7

I’ve always wanted to write a contemporary adult fairy tale.   With CHASING ORDINARY, I’ve done just that.

Here’s what it’s all about:

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

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

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

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

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

CHASING ORDINARY comes out February 13,
just in time for Valentine’s Day.
But until then, you can pre-order it for just 99¢.

Weekend Excerpt–CHASING ORDINARY

 

Red-haired sculptor Petey Cavanaugh is in New York to attend the opening of her gallery exhibition.  While in town, she meets Nik, a sexy businessman who happens to be Europe’s most eligible prince.

Not that Petey would know that.  Between helping out on her family’s Montana sheep ranch, and working on her art, she has little time or patience for silly celebrity gossip.

Nik’s not offended in the least.  On the contrary, he’s charmed by the fact that she treats him as a man rather than an institution.  But she’ll find out eventually.

And when she does, she feels betrayed by the man she thought she had feelings for.  Reluctantly, she agrees to meet him at his hotel and give him the chance to explain.

CHASING ORDINARY comes out in February, and the cover reveal will be very soon.  For now, though, here’s a little sample.

Petey wasn’t surprised when the car took them to the hotel’s underground entrance.  She was surprised to see Colin St. John waiting there.  Her stomach knotted.  She’d thought of him as a friend.  But he’d known the truth all along, too, and hadn’t bothered to mention it.

When the car stopped, the woman in the front passenger seat quickly got out and opened her door.  “Ms. Cavanaugh,” she murmured.

Petey glanced at her but said nothing.  Jorgen joined her and they made their way toward the door, where Colin waited.

He smiled her sadly.  “Hi, red.”

Petey bit her lip, willing away the tears that threatened.  Not trusting her voice, she nodded curtly.

“You know I couldn’t say anything.  Your friend and his family have been guests here for years.”

She shrugged, and cleared her throat.  “You didn’t owe me anything.”

“Not true.  I owed you honesty.  And for my part, I apologize.  I meant it when I said that you’re welcome here anytime.  With or without the prince.”  He winked kindly.

She nodded and followed Jorgen into the building.  Wordlessly, they went to a bank of elevators, where he used a key card to enter a car marked ‘Private’ by a small brass sign placed discreetly by its door.

Petey was surprised when they only went up a few floors.  For some reason, she’d pictured a huge suite on the top floor of the hotel.  A pair of security guards greeted them when the doors slid open.  Jorgen nodded to them and they stepped aside, allowing Petey and the secretary to move past them and down the hall.

They stopped in front of a pair of antique white double doors.  Another small brass sign declared that they had arrived at the Royal Plaza Suite.  Jorgen used his key card once again to unlock the door, which he swung open to reveal a small but elegant foyer.  The narrow hall opened onto a much larger circular foyer, anchored in the center by a small round table topped by an extravagant arrangement of white flowers arranged in a silver urn.

Moving past the flowers, Jorgen led her to the left, where the foyer opened onto a luxurious sitting room, that was, at the moment, abuzz with activity.  Petey counted at least seven people, not including herself and Jorgen.  One man was setting up enormous lights on stands, while another appeared to be coordinating three cameras on tripods.   A couple of the people were wearing headphones, and a woman with a clipboard seemed to be directing the action.

“Petey,” called a familiar voice.

She turned to see Nik purposefully striding toward her.  Dressed in a dark grey suit, he had tissues tucked into the collar of his blue dress shirt, and a woman with a makeup brush was hurriedly following him.  He turned to the woman.  “Could you give us a moment, please?”

Nodding politely, she returned in the direction from which they’d come.  When he reached her, he softly repeated her name.  “Petey.”

She crossed her arms in front of her and chewed her lower lip.  “Hi.  I said I’d come.  Now I’m here.”  She glanced around.  “You seem kind of busy, so…”

He rolled his eyes miserably.  “I have to do this interview.  But after that, I’m free.  Will you stay?  Please?”

Her heart hitched at the sadness in his deep blue eyes.  She’d fallen for this man.  There was no sense in denying it to herself.  But she couldn’t stand to be made a fool of.  She swallowed the lump in her throat.  “I’m here, so, I suppose I might as well stay.”

Relief flooded his face.  “Thank you.  I’ll make this as quick as I can, I promise.”  He cupped her elbow and squeezed gently before heading back to the makeup woman.

“Ms. Cavanaugh,” Jorgen said, “you’re welcome to sit here and watch the interview.”  He indicated a sofa upholstered in dark tan brocade.  On shaky legs, she crossed to the sofa and sank onto its soft cushions.

“Would you care for something to drink, Ms. Cavanaugh?” a woman asked, materializing out of nowhere.

Petey looked to Jorgen.

“Perhaps a glass of wine?” he suggested.

She nodded gratefully.  “That would be nice, thank you,” she managed.

From where she sat at the end of the sofa, she noticed a pair of blue upholstered chairs set before a nonworking fireplace, and that area seemed to be the focus of the cameras.  She supposed Nik would sit there with an interviewer.  Unconsciously, she slipped off her shoes and pulled her feet up, sitting cross-legged as far into the corner of the sofa as she could squeeze herself.  When the woman returned with a glass of white wine, Petey softly thanked her.

CHASING ORDINARY comes out February 13, 2018.
You can pre-order it NOW for just 99¢.
books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary

Fun Fact: The Royal Plaza Suite is an actual suite at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.  Click the video to take a little tour of Nik’s hotel home.

 

Weekend Excerpt–WIP: Chasing Ordinary

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

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

Nik is in New York on business.  He’s been traveling for nearly a month, enduring endless meetings, attending obligatory dinners, and battling jet-lag.  On his way to yet another business dinner, he meets Petey.

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

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

Chasing Ordinary is my current work in progress.  I had hoped to have it ready for release by now, but it won’t be much longer.  This week’s excerpt gives you a little glimpse.

Howard had been talking nonstop for twenty minutes.  Each time Petey thought she’d found the opportunity to extricate herself, he continued his rambling, while edging ever closer, invading her personal space, and chatting about his work and his home in New Jersey.  He seemed to be one of those individuals who was completely inept at picking up on social cues.

She’d just worked up the gumption to simply excuse herself the next time he came up for air, when she heard a familiar voice.

There you are, darling!”  Nik swooped in, handing her a glass of wine.  “I’m so sorry I’m late.  Will you ever forgive me?”  He wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her cheek.

Stunned, Petey stammered a bit.  “Um, yes.  Well…darling, yes, you certainly are late.  What’s up with that?  I’ve been waiting for you.”

“I know.  But traffic was a nightmare, what with the rain.  You just wouldn’t believe it.”  Nik turned to Howard.  “Who’s your friend?”  He smiled pleasantly at the confused man.

“Oh, sorry.  Nik, this is Howard.  Howard, meet Nik.”

Howard worked his mouth, but was blissfully silent.

Nik reached to shake his hand.  “So nice to meet you.  If you’ll excuse us, I need to make up for lost time.  Come, darling.”

He grasped Petey’s hand and led her to the opposite side of the gallery.  When they reached a quiet corner, he turned and smiled at her.

She gave a relieved laugh.  “Oh, my God, for the second time tonight, you saved my bacon.”

Nik laughed, too.  “The exasperation on your face said that you needed rescuing.  Who was he anyway?”

“Some guy that my friend Jules thought I should meet.  I mean, he’s nice enough, but he had absolutely no sense of personal space.  And he would not stop talking.  Sheesh!”

“He’s probably just shy in the presence of such a pretty woman.”  Nik’s blue eyes sparkled.

Petey rolled her eyes.  “Yes, I’m sure that’s it,” she said sarcastically.  “I guess you ditched your business dinner?”

Nik nodded. “I did.”

She eyed him curiously.  “What kind of business are you in?”

He paused a beat.  “I’m in international finance and development.”

Warmth flooded her face, and she knew she was blushing.  A sheepish smile curled her lips.  “I have no idea what that means.”

He smiled, too.  “I travel and meet with business people, mostly, occasionally politicians, and we discuss ways to improve our national economies, and ways to assist developing economies as well.”

“Oh.  I’m sure Jules would understand completely.  She has a sharp business mind.  I’m just so,” she gave a self-deprecating chuckle, “right-brained.”

She fanned herself lightly with her hand.  “So, you’d had enough of finances and development for one night?”

Nik nodded agreeably.  “I’ve worked all day.  As I sat listening to more business conversation, all I could think was that I’d like to attend the gallery opening of a promising young sculptor.”

Petey’s eyes sparkled mischievously.  “Well, if I hear of any, I’ll let you know.”  They both laughed together.

“I just watched your video.  Such an interesting way to introduce yourself to patrons.”

“Oh, that.”  Petey blushed.  “Jules flew out to Montana a couple of months ago.  She hired a film crew to follow me for a day, do interviews and stuff.  Then they just put it together.”

He regarded her curiously, eyes sparkling.  “What are the chances you’d give me a guided tour of this incredible exhibit?”

She pretended to consider his request.  “Well, you did see to it that I was put back together after being blasted by that tidal wave.   And, you rescued me from being talked to death by a close-talking dentist.  I’d say your odds are pretty good.”  She laughed.  “I think bringing me a glass of wine put you over the top, though.”

Nik laughed, too.  “Lucky for me, then.”

“Lucky for you.  Okay, let’s take a tour.”

Want to keep up on the latest news about the release of Chasing Ordinary?  My Passionistas hear everything first.  You can join Pandora’s Passionista Paradise on Facebook.

Weekend Excerpt–Christmas At Michael’s

RR Christmas

Merry Christmas!  Here’s wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays!

This weekend excerpt is a Christmas scene from RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION, a three-novel contemporary erotic romance.  Inveterate player Michael Rannigan is a founding partner and the public face of the Manhattan law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny.  Hiring smart redhead Maggie Flynn to join his elite 50th floor team changes his life in ways he never imagined.

Enjoy this holiday teaser, but beware…SPOILERS abound.

Michael glanced around his living room and sighed deeply as an unfamiliar wave of contentment washed over him.  He’d missed the Orphans and Misfits since he and Maggie had parted ways and had forgotten how much he’d enjoyed being in the midst of all the joyful chaos.

After their late-afternoon buffet-style dinner, the handful of children in attendance opened their gifts.  Then Ben headed up the annual gift exchange, handing out numbers and presiding over the picks and swaps.  Maggie and some of the others set out dessert on the dining room table and made sure that the bar was stocked with plenty of cups and ice so that everyone felt free to help themselves.

Ensconced in his spot close to the windows at the far end of the huge leather sectional, Michael realized that everywhere he looked, he saw people who were connected in some way to himself or Maggie or both.  Rance, Jason and a few more were out on the terrace taking in the view.  A handful of others watched a football game on television.  Across the room, Nate and Ben chatted with a petite blonde woman.

That’s Casey, Maggie’s friend from law school, he reminded himself.  Casey’s husband John was on the floor in front of the Christmas tree with their little boy, putting together something with Legos.  Closer to Michael, sitting on the floor leaning against the sectional, Maggie was playing a game of peek-a-boo with a toddler who was sitting on her lap.

That must be Casey’s daughter, he thought, judging by the little girl’s nearly white blonde hair.  In his mind’s eye, he saw Maggie playing the game with a red haired child, and he smiled contentedly.  It’s all coming together.  

Veronica slid onto the sofa beside him.  “You’re looking awfully pleased with yourself.”

Michael grinned.  “That’s because when you’re good, you’re good.  And I’m good.”  He winked at her.

“And oh, so humble,” she purred, fixing him with a mocking exasperated smirk.

Casey joined Maggie on the floor.  “How’s Princess Nastypants doing?” she asked, taking her daughter from Maggie.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, this is the sweetest child,” Maggie said, laughing.

“Well, she’s momentarily charmed by her Aunt Maggie, but don’t let her fool you.  We’re up to our eyeballs in the ‘terrible twos.’ ”

Afternoon blended into evening as dusk fell, and Maggie noticed that not only had no one left, they all looked as though they were settling in for a long stay, some even helping themselves to plates of leftovers.

“How are you feeling, Michael?” she asked, squatting beside him.  “Should I start shooing people out of here?”

“Don’t be silly, Mags,” he said, flashing his best Michael Rannigan grin.  “Everybody’s enjoying themselves.  This is the nicest Christmas I’ve had in a long time.”

She looked up at him and smiled, squeezing his hand.  “I’m really glad.”

As she made her way back to the kitchen, her phone buzzed in her pocket. Finally.  Bobby had called early in the morning and they’d chatted briefly, but they hadn’t had another chance to talk all day.

“Hey there, cher,” he greeted her.  “How’s my best girl?”

Maggie laughed into the phone.  “I’m better now.  I’ve missed you all day, but I know you were busy.  We’ve been busy here, too, come to that.”  She walked down the hallway for more privacy.

“Would you believe that everyone is still at Michael’s?” she whispered.  “Nobody has left yet.”

“No?”

“I asked Michael if I should start moving them along, but he seems happy to have them.”

Bobby laughed.  “It sounds like you throw a hell of a party.  Nobody wants to leave.”

“How was your day?  Did Savannah like her present?”  Maggie had sent Bobby with a portable artist’s kit to give the little girl.

“She just loved it.”  Maggie could hear the smile in his voice.  “That child had more stuff by the end of the morning than you would believe.”

Maggie laughed happily.  “Well, good.  I’m so glad.”  She sighed.  “I just wish you were here.”

“Me too, cher, believe me.”

“Do I need to let you go?” she asked.

“Yeah, I should probably get off the phone.”

“Okay, then,” she breathed.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Maggie.  I’ll see you soon.”

Maggie disconnected and made her way back down the hallway towards the living room which was as full of people as ever.  It seemed less than fair somehow that everyone had someone with them today.  Casey had John, Ben had Nate, Rance had Jason, hell, even Michael had Veronica   Whatever happened to the Orphans and Misfits?  She knew she was being petty and tried to shrug it off.

Across the room, Michael looked tired and he was using his oxygen again.  She wondered briefly whether she should just start moving people along in spite of what he’d said.  A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts.

“Hey Mags, could you get that?” Michael asked.

Sighing to herself, she crossed to the door, wondering who’d locked themselves out.  She didn’t notice that as she swung open the door the room fell silent.

“Merry Christmas, cher.”

Momentarily speechless, she froze for second before launching herself into Bobby’s arms.  He had to take a step back to keep from falling.

“Well, I’m glad to see you, too,” he laughed.

Through tears, she sputtered, “But…I mean, what…How did you…”

“Calm down,” he laughed as he carried her into the room.  “Merry Christmas, everybody.”  Bobby gently set Maggie down, and she gripped his hand in hers, unwilling to lose contact with him.

Casey brought a plate of food from the kitchen.  “Hi, I’m Casey.  I figured you were probably hungry.”

Bobby bestowed on her his best lop-sided grin.  “Nice to meet you, Casey.  I’m Bobby.  And thanks, I am pretty hungry.”  He took a seat on the end of the sectional, nodding at Michael.  “Merry Christmas, man.”

Michael smiled, his eyes crinkling.  “Merry Christmas, Beau.  Glad you could join us.”

As Bobby ate, Maggie introduced him to those he hadn’t met.  While everyone went back to their own conversations, she peppered him with questions.  “What happened?  Did you really call me from the hall?  Why did you come back tonight?  I thought you were staying in Louisiana for a couple more days.”

“I wanted to surprise you,” he grinned.

“Well…you did.  I’m so glad.”

Taking her hand, he kissed it gently.  “Let’s go get a breath of fresh air.”  He stood and held her hand, helping her up, and they let themselves out onto the terrace.  The cool air was a nice change from the warmth of the crowded apartment.  They walked to the railing and stood side by side looking out over the city with its sparkling lights and flurrying snow.

“It’s such a beautiful night,” Bobby murmured, and Maggie nodded, tucking her arm around his and resting her head on his shoulder.  “Such a beautiful lady.”

She looked up at him, and he kissed her lightly.  “When I think back on that day that your shoe broke,” he looked down and she giggled, “that seems like the luckiest day of my life.  I think of all the things that had to happen for us to meet at that moment.”  He gazed down at her.  “It’s like it was meant to be.”

He took both Maggie’s hands in his and faced her.  “I love you with all my heart.  I don’t ever want to know a day without you in my life.”  His eyes glittered with emotion and he slowly lowered himself to one knee.  Maggie’s jaw dropped, and her eyes widened.

“So I’m asking…Maggie, will you marry me?”

Maggie felt all the breath leave her body.  In a mad rush, memories from the last few years swirled through her mind, her infatuation with Michael, her engagement to Mike, her resolve to remain alone, that day she and Bobby had met.

She looked down into Bobby’s eyes and saw a twinge of anxiety and realized she hadn’t answered.  Unable to formulate the words, she nodded vigorously as tears filled her eyes.  Two things happened simultaneously.  Relief instantly flooded Bobby’s face, and raucous cheers went up from the crowd who’d pressed up against the living room windows to watch.

“You had me worried for a minute there, cher,” he laughed.  He reached into his pocket and removed a small midnight blue velvet box.  Opening it, he removed something and slid it onto Maggie’s left ring finger.  “You’ve made me the happiest man in the world.”  He stood and gazed down into her eyes before lifting her chin and kissing her passionately.  Again, their audience cheered loudly.

“Bobby, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Maggie said.  “I love it!”

He laughed.  “You can’t even see it.  I hadn’t counted on it being so dark out here.  Come on, let’s go on inside.”

Hand in hand, they went back inside the apartment to the hearty congratulations of their friends.  In the light of a lamp beside Michael, Maggie and Bobby looked at the ring.  The band of delicate platinum filigree held a huge emerald-cut diamond surrounded by dozens of smaller diamonds.

“Oh, Bobby,” she gasped.  “It’s unbelievably beautiful.  So delicate and vintage-looking.”  She turned and threw her arms around his neck.  “I love it!”

“Oh, for God’s sake, can we finally open the champagne?” Ben called out.  As champagne was poured and glasses were passed around, Maggie looked down at Michael who had a Cheshire grin on his face.

“This is the gift Bobby showed you?” she said, tilting the ring his way.  Realization dawned on her.  “And it wasn’t leftover champagne?  And this is why nobody would leave?”

“Everybody except you knew this was an engagement party, Mags,” he said quietly.

“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I said yes,” she said.

“Oh, like you would have said no,” Casey quipped, and everyone laughed.

Rannigan’s Redemption is available at your favorite online bookseller.
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Maggie’s Orphans & Misfits Christmas–Holiday Excerpt from Rannigan’s Redemption

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Maggie Flynn, smart red-haired lawyer from Rannigan’s Redemption, was raised by her father after her mother abandoned them both when Maggie was small.   When he died while she was in college, she found herself alone in the world.

Rather than indulging in self-pity and despair, she forges ahead, gathering a collection of friends who, like herself, are alone.  And at Christmas, she makes sure no one spends the holiday by themselves, creating a tradition called the Orphans and Misfits Christmas.  If someone has nowhere to go for Christmas, they know they’re welcome at Maggie’s.  Occasionally, someone surprising shows up.

This excerpt is from RESISTING RISK, Book 1 of Rannigan’s Redemption.

“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.

Couple in love on the background of the spring city.

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.”

Treat yourself Rannigan

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