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.
Use this link: books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

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

Use this universal link to get the complete
RANNIGAN’S REDEMPTION boxed set
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie frowned.  We?

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

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

Maggie couldn’t think of a response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wear something pretty.  Seriously? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Michael, this looks beautiful,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie stood staring at him wide-eyed.

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

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

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

RR3 review

RANSOMING REDEMPTION
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
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The entire Rannigan’s Redemption Collection
is available in one complete boxed set.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

Rannigan’s Redemption–Meet Maggie Flynn

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

In my last post, we met Michael Rannigan, the irresistible bad-boy title character.  Today, meet Maggie Flynn, the woman who causes Michael to question the way he lives his life.

About to graduate from law school, Maggie has her life all mapped out.  But when she sees Michael taking interviews at a job fair, she takes a chance, and he hires her nearly on the spot.

Attracted to him from the start, Maggie realizes that her crush on Michael is all but hopeless.  He’s a self-absorbed womanizer. But beneath that cool exterior, she’s seen the man he can be and she’s sure that love can bring that out. In the meantime, she’s content to work with him.

In this excerpt, Maggie meets Michael for the first time.

Michael Rannigan dry gulped three ibuprofen tablets as the car from the service weaved its way through mid-day Manhattan traffic.  He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a hangover.   The previous night had been exceptional.  At an art gallery opening, he’d met twin flight attendants who matched him drink for drink before going home with him for an extended threesome adventure.

I’m getting too old for this shit.  Should have called in sick today.

As a partner at Murphy, Rannigan, there was no one to question his absence.  But it was his turn representing the firm at the job fair at NYU.  Brian Murphy was out of the country on vacation.  And James Metheny was recovering from surgery.  Tonsils or some shit, Michael mused.  Didn’t everyone have their tonsils out when they were five?

Sure the firm needed new talent.  But why did he need to be there?  He knew exactly why.  Without his presence, John Hemphill would be the senior man there, and that couldn’t happen.

Hemphill’s an idiot, he thought.

The car dropped him at the entrance to Vanderbilt Hall.  He knew it well.  After all, NYU was his alma mater.  He took a moment to straighten his tie before entering the building.  As expected, the hall was full of fresh young faces, soon-to-graduate litigators who needed jobs.  Unconsciously his eye roved, looking for nubile young female candidates.  Not necessarily for the firm, mind you.  He was always on the lookout for his next conquest.  He passed a group of girls who giggled as he walked by.

“Ladies,” he greeted them, flashing his mega-watt smile.

Just get this over with, he begged as he zeroed in on the Murphy, Rannigan table.

Already seated at the table were John Hemphill, Stan Hodges, and Ellen Standifer.  The trio were associates from the elite 50th floor of Murphy, Rannigan.  They were good enough at what they did, which was mostly research and legwork, with the occasional foray into the courtroom when necessity called.  Each had a laptop and on the table was a spreadsheet they’d worked out back at the office.  Of course, they’d vetted possible candidates before they ever set foot at the university.  Preparation saves time in the long run, they knew.

Michael took a bottled water from the table and sipped, standing behind the three and continuing to scan the room.  “What’ve we got?” he asked.

Hemphill gave him a brief rundown.  “We’ve interviewed five candidates so far, five of the ones we were interested in.  We’ve turned away about a dozen others that didn’t meet our standards,” he related in his adenoidal drone that so grated on Michael.

“You’re turning away interviewees who aren’t on your candidate list?” Michael snapped.  “How sure are you that your list is accurate?  Paper and data don’t always tell the story.”  Hemphill reddened a bit.

“Well, I…” the man floundered.

Michael grinned to himself.  It’s the little pleasures in life that make it all worthwhile, he thought.

He watched as a young woman crossed the floor, seeming to make a beeline for their table.  She was petite, with red hair, and she was wearing a grey suit paired with a green silk blouse.

What have we here, he wondered.

“Hello,” said the young woman.  “I’d like to interview with your firm.”  She reached across the table to shake hands with the attorneys seated there.

“And you are?” Michael asked, still standing behind the others.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, clearly flustered.  She opened her folio to remove copies of her resume and several slipped out, sailing across the floor.  Michael watched in amusement as she scrambled to gather them up again.  “Sorry,” she repeated, as she handed a document to each of them.

“Mary Margaret Flynn,” Michael read from the top line of the resume.

“Um, Maggie, actually,” the young woman corrected.

“Have a seat, Ms. Flynn,” Hemphill directed as they read over her resume.  Standifer pulled up Mary Margaret Flynn on their database and Hodges located her name on their spreadsheet.  There were two stars beside her name.  How have we not spoken with this one yet?

Michael took a seat directly across from her.  He was impressed with the resume, and he’d found her name on the spreadsheet before Hodges had.  He looked from the document back up to her face.  Her green eyes were wide and as she sat, she fidgeted nervously with the atrocious vinyl folio containing her resumes.

“So Ms. Flynn, your resume is impressive.  It says that you interned with Rance Stockwell at the DA’s office.  I’m surprised he hasn’t offered you a job.”

“Oh, he has,” Maggie replied.  “I just haven’t accepted yet.”

“Looking for better offers, are you?” Michael asked, arching an eyebrow.

“I have a great deal of student loan debt,” she confessed.  “It makes sense to me to look around and find my best options.”

Michael leaned back in his chair.  “Are you familiar with our firm?” he asked.

“Yes, actually,” Maggie answered.  “I heard you speak once at a charity luncheon.  You said that everyone is entitled to the best defense possible, regardless of the circumstances of their charges.”

Michael tried to suppress a smile.  “I said that, did I?”  The others at the table snickered.

Maggie’s face reddened a bit as she glanced down the line of lawyers.  “It really resonated with me,” she said quietly.  “I also tried one of your cases as a mock trial project.”

“Which case did you choose?” asked Michael.

“People v. Lawson.”

The other three snickered louder and Michael looked down at his notes, suppressing another grin.  “Well, Ms. Flynn, if you were going to try one of my cases, you might have chosen one I actually won.”

Maggie glared indignantly at the panel.  “I, well, I tweaked it a little.  I uncovered evidence that you overlooked.”  Michael sat up straight; she had his undivided attention.  “Testimony in the deposition was contradicted on the witness stand.  The victim stated in the deposition that she’d met the defendant two weeks prior to the incident.  On the stand she said she’d just met him that night.  It was enough doubt for the mock jury.  I won your case.”

Michael looked at the other three.  If someone had dropped the ball on the case, he or she was currently seated at the table.  They all looked down, suddenly intensely interested in their notes.

He cleared his throat.  “It seems, Ms. Flynn, we have everything we need.  We’ll make a decision by the end of the week and let you know.”

Maggie stood and reached out her hand.  “Thank you for your time.”

“Thank you,” Michael nodded, shaking her hand.  He watched her walk back across the room and disappear in the crowd.

RR1 review

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You can also find the entire trilogy in one complete boxed set.
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Weekend Excerpt–RESISTING RISK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe.  But he’s here now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He grinned.  “I like it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How did you know the S stands for Sean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Merry Christmas, Michael.”

RESISTING RISK is only $.99 and it’s available at this link:
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