Weekend Excerpt–Merry Christmas!

This final weekend before Christmas, I’m sending you warm wishes for a wonderful holiday!

And I’m posting one last Christmas excerpt, but this one comes with a warning:
There are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read Rannigan’s Redemption from the beginning, you might want to stop right here.

This snippet comes from the third book of the Rannigan trilogy, RANSOMING REDEMPTION.

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.

The Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy is RESISTING RISK,
RUNNING ROGUE, and RANSOMING REDEMPTION.
It’s available as a three-book boxed set, or as individual novels.
Why not start at the beginning?
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–A Different Kind of Christmas

Rannigan’s Redemption is the story of high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and his complicated relationship with Maggie Flynn, the talented redhead he hires to join his elite firm.

Michael is an inveterate player with a contact list of hot blondes at his beck and call.  Maggie is nothing like his usual type–she’s way too smart, for one thing.  So why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Here’s a Christmas snippet from RUNNING ROGUE, Book 2.

Following the dinner party at Rance and Jason’s, Maggie felt a bit more comfortable in the new office.  At least she knew a few people to speak with, some to go out to lunch with, and those few introduced to her more.  She dived in to the cases that came her way and before she realized it, she’d been with the DA’s office for six months.

Suddenly she was making plans for Christmas.  The usual cast of characters was invited along with a few new orphans and misfits from work.  Rance and Jason promised to stop by on their way to Jason’s mother’s house in Connecticut.

Maggie wondered about Michael.  Since that first year, he’s arranged his vacation so that he could at least put in an appearance at Maggie’s before jetting off to some exotic locale for the rest of the Christmas holiday.

Should I formally invite him?  Surely he knows…  His status as an orphan and misfit hasn’t changed. 

But as Christmas day wore on, as guests arrived and dinner was prepared and consumed, gifts were exchanged and hugs were shared, Maggie kept an eye on her phone, her ear tuned toward the door buzzer.

By the time the last of her guests hugged her good night and headed out into the twilight of early Christmas night, there was still no sign of Michael.  She glanced at the lone gift still waiting under her tree, the bottle of Parker’s Heritage “Golden Anniversary” bourbon she’d snagged for Michael at the liquor store where the manager always called her around the beginning of December to tell her about the rare bottle he’d put away for her annual purchase.

She considered the gifts he’d given her over the years.  He always found something unique and beautiful like the moonstone bracelet which she adored and had tried to give back.  There had been interesting art pieces, a hand-made necklace, and once, tickets to a Broadway show.

She shook her head, feeling foolish at having assumed he would come.  I should have invited him.  It’s not like me to be so passive-aggressive.  I’m an idiot.  She turned away from the Christmas tree, figuring she’d have the gift delivered to the office sometime after the New Year.

Her phone blipped indicating a message.  She swiped at the screen to see a Snapchat notification.  Pulling up the app, she saw that the message was from Michael and her heart pounded.

“Hi, Mags,” Michael smiled into the camera from the couch in his living room.  “Merry Christmas.  I was thinking about you and the other orphans and misfits.  I hope you had a nice holiday.”  Maggie smiled sheepishly.  He had been waiting for an invitation.  She considered not replying then thought better of it.

“Merry Christmas, Michael.  We missed you today.  When you didn’t come I figured you were already out of town.  I hope you had a good holiday.”  She pressed Send before she could change her mind.

He replied a few minutes later.  “I leave tomorrow,” he grinned, looking away from the camera.  “I wasn’t sure I was still invited.  I had a peaceful day, no hassle or stress.  It was nice.”

Wasn’t sure he was invited.  Maggie sighed.  She decided to play it off with humor.  “You are an orphan and a misfit, Michael.  You qualify on both counts,” she laughed.  She looked directly into the camera.  “You’re always invited,” she said softly.

Michael smiled into the camera, his eyes crinkling in that singular Michael Rannigan way.  “I’m glad to hear it.”  He paused a moment.  “A messenger will be arriving at your door any time now.  I’m sending your gift.”

Instinctively Maggie looked out the window.  “Michael, you didn’t need to get me a gift.  Seriously, it’s not necessary, I just…”  She broke off as the buzzer sounded.  “That must be he.”  She sent the message and buzzed the front door.

A knock at her door told her the messenger had made it upstairs.  She opened the door to find a tall young man holding a small parcel.  “Maggie Flynn?” he asked.

Maggie smiled.  “That’s me,” she said, taking the parcel.  She signed for it, then, “Listen, can you take a parcel to the man who sent this?”

The young man grinned.  “He said you’d probably ask me that.”

Michael always thinks he knows me, she thought irritably.  She went to the Christmas tree to retrieve Michael’s gift.  “It’s fragile,” she told him.  “What do I owe you for delivering this?”

He shook his head.  “Mr. Rannigan already paid me,” he said.

Maggie nodded.  “Of course he did,” she muttered.  “Thank you again, and Merry Christmas,” she wished him as he turned to leave.

She took the box to the living room and sat on the couch in front of the tree.  She gazed at the gift for a moment.  He’s probably waiting to hear if I like it, she thought, carefully removing the wrapping.

Inside the brown paper was a pale blue box tied with white ribbon, Tiffany & Co. stamped in silver on the lid.  She removed the lid and gasped.  There was a pair of dangling silver filigree earrings set with moonstone cabochons.  They had to be the matching earrings to the bracelet.

Maggie crossed to a mirror on the wall and held up an earring to her ear.  They were absolutely exquisite.  She put them on and held up her phone.   “Michael, I don’t know what to say.  These are amazingly beautiful.”  She tilted her head from side to side to show them off.  “They go perfectly with the bracelet.  You shouldn’t have, really.”

Michael smiled into the camera again.  “I’m glad you like them.  I knew you would when I saw them.”  A serious look crossed his face.  “You should have beautiful things.”

There it was, that classic Michael Rannigan mixed message that had kept her bound to him for so long.  Maybe it’s just that he has no idea what he really wants.  Which is why I can’t wait around for him anymore. 

Maggie shook the ambivalence out of her head.  “I love them, Michael, I really do.  Thank you!”  She grinned at him.  “As you predicted, your messenger is on his way back to you.  I thought I was going to have to send your gift to the office when you got back.  Instead, you can have it now.”

He replied to her fifteen minutes later.  “Holy shit, Mags, you did it again.”  He held up the bottle of bourbon.  “I don’t know how you always manage to find a different rare bottle every year.  This is really something else!”  He looked directly at the camera.  “Now I have to find someone to share it with who will appreciate such a fine bourbon.”

Maggie rolled her eyes.  I’m not biting, Michael.  “I’m so glad you like it.  How I find great bourbon is my little secret,” she winked.  “And I have no doubt in your ability to find someone to share it with you.  No worries.”  She smiled and sent the video.

Michael felt unsettled as he watched her last message.  That’s it.  She’s over me.  She’s not mad, she still likes me.  But she’s not in love with me anymore.  The thought unnerved him more than he would have thought.  He keyed up Snapchat once more.  “Well, thanks again, Mags.  I love it.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

She replied one last time.  “Merry Christmas, Michael.  Have a great trip.  Happy New Year!”

Rannigan’s Redemption is available as individual novels RESISTING RISK, RUNNING ROGUE, and RANSOMING REDEMPTION.  It’s also available in one boxed set.

Click HERE to indulge in Rannigan’s Redemption.

Weekend Excerpt–RANSOMING REDEMPTION

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a snippet from RANSOMING REDEMPTION.

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

“When was this house built?” Michael asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A couple of dollars?”

“Yeah.  I want to buy a newspaper.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

RUNNING ROGUE is Book Two of Rannigan’s Redemption, a ‘spicy vanilla’ three-novel erotic romance law drama.   Rannigan’s Redemption is the story of the complicated relationship between bad boy Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart redhead he hires to join his prestigious firm.

Michael is a rogue, an inveterate player with a stable of surgically-enhanced bottle-blondes at his beck and call.  Maggie’s smart and capable, maybe even a better lawyer than Michael, if he stops to think about it.  She’s too smart for his sexual tastes, definitely not his type.  So why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Maggie has been in love with him from the beginning.  She knows how he operates, and that the situation is all but hopeless.  But she sees the man he could be.  For now, she’s content to work with him.

If the first book, RESISTING RISK, sets up the story, RUNNING ROGUE is all about change.  Just when you think you know where the story’s going, it all blows up.  In this book, Michael and Maggie are going their separate ways, each making questionable decisions in their personal and professional lives.  Then one day, Michael receives news that shakes him to his core.

Here’s a snippet from RUNNING ROGUE.  **Warning–Spoilers abound.**

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 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.”

Use this link to get your copy of RUNNING ROGUE
at your favorite online bookseller:
books2read.com/RunningRogue

Or start at the beginning with
RESISTING RISK: books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–What’s NEW For Rannigan’s Redemption?

Rannigan’s Redemption, a sexy law drama in three parts, has been out for a few years now, but there’s exciting news: All three books have brand new covers, and they’re finally all available in paperback for the first time!

Rannigan’s Redemption, my three-novel spicy vanilla law drama, is the story of the complicated relationship between bad boy Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart redhead he hires to join his prestigious firm.

Michael is a rogue, an inveterate player with a stable of surgically-enhanced bottle-blondes at his beck and call.  Maggie’s smart and capable, maybe even a better lawyer than Michael, if he stops to think about it.  She’s too smart for his sexual tastes, definitely not his type.  So why can’t he get her out of his mind?

Maggie has been in love with him from the beginning.  She knows how he operates, and that the situation is all but hopeless.  But she sees the man he could be.  For now, she’s content to work with him.

What would happen if they crossed that line?

Here’s a little teaser from the first book, RESISTING RISK.

With the concert over, the dj was back in position and guests were taking advantage of the dance floor situated at the opposite end of the dinner tent from Michael’s table.  Michael and Maggie dodged enthusiastic dancers as they headed back to check on Ben.

White candles on the tables and white paper lanterns hung along the sides of the tent washed the scene in soft light.  Nearby trees had been strung with tiny sparkling lights and with nightfall the place took on the appearance of a fairyland.

Ben was asleep with his head on the table when Michael and Maggie returned.  The Murphys and the Methenys arrived at the table just behind them and their return caused Ben to stir slightly.

“Did you see Diamond Dave?” Pam gushed excitedly.  “He’s still so hot!”

“I didn’t see him but I heard him.  He sounds great,” Maggie commented.

“Michael, we’re going to be heading out.  We still have to get back to the city and pay the babysitters while we can still afford it,” Brian laughed and he moved around the table to shake Michael’s hand.  Pam and Renee gathered their purses and wraps.

“Did you guys share a car?” Michael asked.  “I didn’t realize.  Well, hey, I’m glad you made it out tonight.  We should go out together more often.”  He shook Jim’s hand and pecked Pam and Renee on the cheeks.

“Maggie, it was lovely meeting you,” Renee said.  “We’ll all get together for lunch or something.”

“That sounds great.  It was nice meeting you as well.  Safe travels,” Maggie said.  They stood and watched the foursome leave.

Maggie looked down at Ben, who was still asleep.  “I’m so sorry, Michael.  I never dreamed he’d be like this.”

Michael waved off the apology.  “Never apologize for someone else.  At least he’s quiet.”  They both laughed lightly.

“I should probably try to get him moving so we can go,” Maggie said.  “Ben, wake up.  Come on, seriously, we should be going.”

Michael watched her attempt to wake the sleeping Ben.  As she leaned forward over the table her tits came precariously close to spilling out of the deep v neckline and Michael was mesmerized, feeling himself become aroused.

“Hey Mags, let him sleep.  I’m stuck waiting here until my car returns.  Let’s hang out and you two can ride back with me.  Besides, they’re supposed to have fireworks in about an hour.”

“Really?”  Maggie gave a relieved smile.  “I wasn’t sure how I was going to get him home on the train.  I sort of pictured tossing him over my shoulder firefighter style.”

They both laughed as Michael removed his jacket and loosened his tie, placing the jacket on the back of the chair beside him.  He flagged down a waiter and quietly said something Maggie didn’t catch.  The waiter nodded.  “I’ll be right back, sir.”

Michael motioned to a chair beside him.  “Come, relax.”  As Maggie moved to Michael’s side of the table, the waiter returned with a bottle of wine and two glasses.  He opened the wine and offered it to Michael.

“That’s fine, thanks, I’ll take it from here,” he said, handing the man a generous tip.  Michael poured as Maggie sat beside him, their chairs facing each other.

She leaned an elbow on the table.  “That’s some service,” she commented.

He shrugged.  “You just have to ask nicely,” he said.  “Too many people behave like assholes.  Everybody likes to be treated with courtesy.”

They sipped without speaking for a while, enjoying the music from the other end of the tent.  Maggie spoke up.  “The Murphys and the Methenys were very charming.  I liked Pam and Renee.”

Michael nodded.  “Yeah, they’re good people.  Although the girls looked like bored house fraus out for a night on the town.”

Maggie let out a surprised laugh and playfully slapped his arm.  “They did not, they were lovely!”

“Just calling them like I see them,” Michael chuckled.

“Well I thought they were sweet.  And it’s sweet they had to get home to their kids.  They’re such nice families.”

Michael rolled his eyes.  “Don’t tell me.  Mary Margaret Flynn aspires to be a member of the Dowdy House Frau Club.  Ah, yes, the white picket fence, the 2.3 kids, the cocker spaniel.  You’d give up your career and move to the suburbs?”

Maggie blinked and spluttered, “The what?  I don’t…I mean you can’t just…”

He laughed heartily.  “Okay, Mags, don’t blow a gasket.  I’m just pulling your chain.”

“I’m not talking about giving up my career or moving.  People raise families in the city.  They do it all the time.  Don’t you want all that?  You know, a home, a wife, kids.  I mean, sometime, not now.  But seriously, Michael.  You mock all that like it’s pointless.”

He shook his head gravely.  “No.  I absolutely do not want that.  I like my life just as it is.  I come and go as I please.  I spend my money as I please.  If I want to go out, I do.  Otherwise I stay in alone.”

She regarded him seriously.  “But you don’t want to grow old alone.  Don’t you want someone to be there for you when life gets difficult?”

“I would think you of all people would get it,” Michael said, draining his wine and pouring another glass.  “People let you down.  They leave you and you have to fend for yourself.  It’s just easier this way.  You know what you’re getting.”

“Being alone in the world was never my choice.  And I hope to find someone to build a life with, to create a family with, if only to do better than what I had growing up,” she replied passionately.

“Your date tonight is an unconscious gay guy.  And how are you doing on that family thing?” he asked darkly.

Maggie swigged the rest of her wine.  “Well, it’s easier said than done,” she acknowledged quietly.

They drank in silence for a while, the mood between them soured.

“You know, Dan likes you,” Michael offered.

Maggie laughed.  “He doesn’t.”

“He does.  He told me so.  Asked me if it would be breaking firm policy to ask you out.”

“I wouldn’t go out with him,” Maggie said firmly.

“Why not?” Michael wondered.  “He’s a nice guy.”

“He’s a very nice guy.  I’m just not attracted to him.  It wouldn’t be right,” she answered.

Michael shook his head, bewildered.  They settled into quietly listening to the music as they sipped their wine.

Recognizing the intro to the next song, Maggie cried out, “Oh! Moon Dance!  I love Van Morrison.”

Michael gave her a sideways glance and held out his hand.  “Come on, Mags.  Dance with me.”

She took his hand as he helped her to her feet and she giggled self-consciously, her several glasses of wine causing her to wobble a little as they walked to the dance floor.  He turned to face her, placing his right hand on the small of her back and holding up her right hand in his left.

Maggie giggled again.  “So formal, Mr. Rannigan,” she smiled up at him.

He crooked an eyebrow at her.  “I’ve had lessons, Ms. Flynn.”  They began moving around the dance floor, swaying to the beat of the music.  Michael crooned along and made Maggie laugh by spinning her several times then pulling her close.  At one point he suddenly dipped her backwards, causing her to whoop in surprise.  Nearby dancers applauded as he pulled her back up and held her to him.  He could feel her heart pounding as she caught her breath.

“God, you smell good,” she whispered against his neck.

“That, Ms. Flynn,” he teased, “is because I showered and put on clean clothes today.”  His wit was rewarded by Maggie’s laughter.

Van Morrison finished moondancing and he was replaced by Eric Clapton singing about a woman who looks wonderful tonight.  Maggie stopped dancing and stepped back from Michael.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “I don’t know, Michael, it’s a slow song.” Maggie gazed up at him sheepishly, the self-conscious look back in place.

His soft brown eyes burned into hers.  “I’m not done.  And you do, you know.  You look wonderful tonight.”

Without waiting for her to reply, he once again pulled her close to himself with one hand on the small of her back, the other gripping her right hand and pulling it in to his collar bone, brushing it across his lips in the process.  He could feel her breath against his neck, then she sighed quietly and rested her head on his shoulder.  He hummed the rest of the song and when it was over, he continued holding her close.

A loud whistle followed by an explosion jarred them both as the fireworks display began over the water.  Michael released her and she stepped back.  “That was…” Maggie looked up into his face, eyes shining, “nice.”

He grinned down at her.  “Yes, it was.  Shall we go watch the fireworks?”

RESISTING RISK is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

The very first chapter introduces you to Michael Rannigan.  In this trailer, I read it to you.

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¢.