Weekend Excerpt–WARRIOR MINE Comes Out Tuesday, August 14!

Until then, you can reserve your copy for just 99¢!

WARRIOR MINE is the 4th novel in the Dream Dominant Collection.  Although it’s completely stand-alone, it’s a spin-off from LOST & BOUND.

She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker.
Their attraction is instant from the moment they meet.
But he’s Dominant.  And no way is she submissive.
Is it a missed connection?  Or a divine appointment?

This is the final sneak peek before Release Day.  I figured you’d like a HOT teaser this time.  😉

Throughout the morning’s activities and on the ride back to the lodge, Jackie and Scott exchanged heated glances.  She found herself wishing the day away, longing for the night to come.  If he didn’t come to her, she would definitely go to him.  She needed him in the worst way.

Unless he really is angry with me, Jackie fretted.

She needn’t have worried.  Much later that night, after putting Grant and Emma to bed, Jackie retreated to her own room, taking her time as she showered, washing her hair and shaving various pertinent areas.  After blowing her hair dry, she brushed on a touch of black mascara and added sheer lip gloss.  She eyed herself in the mirror as she slid a new nightie over her head, a silky seafoam slip gown with a sheer lace bodice.

Ready to tiptoe down the hallway to Scott’s room, Jackie opened the bathroom door and was surprised to find him standing there, bare-chested with his arms crossed.

“You’ve kept me waiting, Princess.”  He arched an eyebrow severely, but the heat in his eyes belied his strict demeanor.

She raised her chin defiantly.  “Well, I didn’t actually know—”

“Knees.  Now.”  He pointed sharply to the floor beside his feet, his voice low but intense.

She was tempted to come back with a smart retort but thought better of it.  Instead, with a saucy glance his way, she lowered herself to her knees, resting her hands, palms up, on her thighs, the way he’d shown her in the cabin.  She tried to still herself despite the adrenalin that thrummed through her veins.  As independent as she was, there was something incredibly hot about Scott taking charge.

Her eyes were closed, but she felt him step closer, sliding a bare foot between her thighs.  When he wiggled his toes, they touched her pussy, and she gasped lightly.

“You have had a day, haven’t you, Princess?” he asked, tenderly stroking her hair.  “You started off by charging after a bear who could have killed you with one swipe of a paw.”

Jackie snorted.  “That’s a little dramatic.  I hardly think—”

“Silence.”  Though his voice was soft, his tone was sharp.  “You will speak only when you have the King’s permission.”

Briefly, she scowled up at him then closed her eyes again, sighing deeply.

“You challenged me when I confronted you, and you used profanity.  All of that before breakfast.”  He placed a finger beneath her chin and tilted her face toward his.  “Look at me, Princess.”

Jackie complied, attempting to fix him with a defiant stare, but failing when she saw the fire in his eyes.  Instead, she just blinked up at him, feeling the heat between her thighs as he wiggled his toes again.

“That sassy mouth of yours.  I think we need to give it a job.”  He lowered his zipper, releasing his solid, erect cock.  “Open.”

Unconsciously, she licked her lips and her stomach performed a half-gainer as she saw the precum pooled at his bulbous tip.  With a glance up at him, she opened her mouth and took him in, moaning with pleasure as she lapped up his essence.

Scott exhaled deeply, resting a hand on her head.  Then he cleared his throat.  “Your infractions have piled up.  But I’m not going to spank you now.  That will come later, when we have more privacy.  Because we’re—”

He stopped, gasping as she increased her suction and fisted the length of him that didn’t fit into her mouth.  Jackie smiled to herself, as much as she could with her mouth filled with cock, pleased that she could exert a little control over the King.

“Fuck me,” he breathed.  “We’re going to need privacy because I’m going to wear your ass out.  Right now, however, I’m going to fuck your face.  After which, I’ll be fucking your cunt.”

He gripped the sides of her head and shoved himself deep, choking Jackie.  She coughed and sputtered.

Scott watched her carefully.  “Safeword if you need to.”

Determinedly, she shook her head and continued sucking with gusto as he pushed in and out.  She felt his cock grow unimaginably hard.

“Shit, Jackie, I’m coming,” he hissed.  “Take it all, Princess.  Don’t waste a drop.”

He shoved into her a final time and his hot cum jetted into the back of her throat.  Jackie swallowed as quickly as she could, eager to prove to him that she could, choking only once.  When he started to remove himself, she closed her lips around him, sucking off any remaining ejaculate and earning a deep groan.

Scott ruffled her hair as he sat heavily on the side of her bed.  “That was very good, Princess.”  He gave her a quizzical look.  “And that was the first time you’ve ever swallowed?”

She nodded smugly, and he smiled.  “You get a little more practice, and I’m a dead man,” he laughed.

WARRIOR MINE is available for pre-order
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Weekend Excerpt–WARRIOR MINE

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are actual photos from the Spocks family album.

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

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

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

Again, these are Spocks family photos.

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

Here’s a little teaser from WARRIOR MINE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What the…” Jackie murmured.

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

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

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

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

“But Mom,” Grant protested.

“Don’t ‘but Mom’ me, do as I say.”

“Aw, man!”

“Aw, man,” Emma echoed.

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

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

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

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

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

“But,” the stranger began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott frowned.  “Trouble?”

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

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

5

 

Weekend Excerpt–WARRIOR MINE

Finally!
WARRIOR MINE is finished and available for pre-order!  Official Launch Day is August 14.
What I once thought might make a nice little novella is now a huge 115k+ word novel.

It’s the story of Scott Nielsen, a man at a crossroads in his life.  He’s walking away from his job as a wilderness counselor to start his own business.  In his personal life, this Dominant is ready to leave behind the casual encounters at the BDSM club and find his own submissive.

When he visits his friend Blake Walker to ask about leasing space for his outdoors school at the Walkers’ remote guest lodge, he meets Blake’s sister Jackie, a strong, determined single mom who runs the lodge.

Their mutual attraction is obvious, but Jackie’s not anyone’s submissive.  Is it simply a missed connection?  Or fate?

Here’s the opening of WARRIOR MINE.
***WARNING–Occasionally characters have potty mouths.  They’re like that sometimes.***

Fuck you, man!  I’m not coming down.  And you can’t make me.”

Scott Nielsen closed his eyes and slowly drew a deep, cleansing breath.  I’m getting too old for this shit.

Mentally adjusting his professional ‘I have this under control’ game face as six other campers looked on curiously, he tilted his head to look up into the thirty-foot pine.

“Suit yourself, Sowder,” he replied calmly.  “The rest of us are going to the mess hall for dinner.”  He turned to gaze out across the lake, then flicked his light blue eyes back to the teenager in the tree.  “It’s going to be dark soon, and it’s supposed to be a cold one tonight.  But you do what you need to do.”

“Fuck you, man,” came the sullen reply.

Scott shook his head.  “Now you’re just repeating yourself.”

To the others, he said, “Come on, gentlemen.  It’s chili night.”  Reluctantly, the group made their way toward the trail that would lead them from the lake to the mess hall located in the center of the camp.

Scott had been almost certain that when the errant camper saw them all leaving, he’d scramble down the tree and follow, not unlike a three-year-old throwing a tantrum.  But one last glance over his shoulder told him the young man had opted to stay exactly where he was.

“See you in the morning, Sowder,” he said as he followed the other boys to dinner.

**

The following morning, Scott was up before the sun.  Truth be told, he hadn’t slept much, tossing and turning in his bunk as he thought about Sowder up in the tree all night.  He’d given the sixteen-year-old ample opportunity to climb down.  And the weather reports had assured him the evening low would remain a moderate 15°C.  The summer was shaping up to be unusually dry, too, so there was little chance that young Sowder would be at risk of hypothermia.

Still, Scott didn’t want anyone hurt on his watch.  He’d been on staff at Crossroads Wilderness School for the last ten years, following a stint in the Army.  Much to his father’s disappointment, the idea of a regular nine-to-five job had never appealed to him, so he’d taken what he’d learned at the government’s expense, along with a lifetime of outdoors experience and a degree in psychology, and he’d forged a career as a wilderness therapist.

Most of the campers at Crossroads were there as guests of the juvenile court system, although there was the occasional voluntary participant.  His friend Blake Walker, for example.

Blake had come to Crossroads during Scott’s early days, following a horrific tragedy that had left the younger man emotionally shattered.  Later, Blake had returned as a fellow therapist, and the pair had forged an indelible friendship.

Blake had moved on a few years ago, gone home to help run his family’s wilderness lodge outside of Eliot Lake.  There were definitely times when Scott considered other options.  Like last night, when Sowder refused to climb down out of the tree.

He shook his head and gazed at himself in the mirror of his Lilliputian private bathroom, not for the first time noticing tiny lines etched around his eyes.  An idea had been growing in his mind for a while now.  Maybe the time was right to consider a new venture.  Sighing deeply, he quickly pulled his long blonde hair into a messy knot at the back of his head.

Passing his laptop on his way out of the bathroom, he stopped, pecked out a quick message, and hit ‘print.’  He folded the paper, slipped it into the pocket of his jacket, and headed outside.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” he said as he entered the bunkhouse.  He was greeted by a chorus of groans, which he ignored.  “Up and at ‘em.  The sun is shining—well, not yet, but it will be soon.  The birds are singing, and today is a brand-new day.  Let’s take the ladder and go get your friend out of the tree, what do you say?”

**

Following the end of the breakfast rush, the silence in the empty mess hall was deafening.  Scott stirred his blue enamelware mug of coffee and surreptitiously glanced at the teen picking at his breakfast across the table from him.  He’d noticed the shift in Sowder’s attitude from surly to sheepish as soon as his fellow campers had headed out for a day-long hike into the Canadian wilderness.

“How are the eggs, Sowder?”

The boy shrugged indifferently.  “I don’t know why I can’t go with the others, man.  It’s not fair.”  While his words offered a challenge, his tone was less confrontational.

“Doc says you were pre-hypothermic.  We need to get you warmed up and let you rest for the day.”

“It’s all your fault, man.  I can’t believe you left me up there all night.”  He tried to fix his counselor with a defiant glare.

Feeling his patience wearing thin, Scott leaned forward on his elbows and arched an eyebrow sharply, saying nothing.

Outpowered by age and experience, Sowder backed down, forking another mound of scrambled eggs into his mouth.  “It was fucking scary, man.  This bear came along, sniffing at the tree.  I thought I was going to die.”

“Language,” Scott replied automatically.  The camp had rules about campers using profanity.  “Anyway, you’re safe now.  Why did you go up there in the first place?”

Again, the surly shrug.  “I don’t know.  I got mad.”

“You got mad.”

“Yeah, man, I don’t know.  Everybody got their fire right but me.”  He used his fork to aimlessly push his eggs across his plate.

“And so you climbed a tree and refused to get down.”

The teen snorted.  “No, man, that would be stupid.  Paulsen laughed at me, you know.  Pissed me off.”

Eyes sparkling, Scott suppressed a smile and waited.

Sowder looked up.  “What?!”

“You tell me.”

The boy shifted his jaw around.  “It was a dumb-ass move,” he mumbled.

“Not your most shining moment, to be sure,” Scott agreed, “but you live, and you learn, right?  What will you do next time?”

“Take his fucking head off,” he answered before stuffing his mouth with more eggs.

Scott cleared his throat and flashed his sternest look.

“Fuck me, man!”  Sowder raised his hands in mock surrender.

“Okay, you have extra dishwashing duty tonight for the profanity.  And since you’re not out hiking today, I’d suggest that you spend some time practicing your primitive fire building.  Jason is a great resource when it comes to bow drills,” Scott offered, mentioning one of the other counselors.

“He’s working with the younger guys today.  If you head over to the pavilion and ask nicely, maybe he’ll help you out.”  Scott figured the other counselor would also have the patience to work with the young man.

“Why can’t you help me?” he asked forlornly.

“Because, my man,” Scott beamed at him as he pushed away from the table, “I have the weekend off.  But,” he clapped the boy on the shoulder, “I’ll be back in time to leave for our two-weeker on Monday.  Get a handle on that fire building, and you can be on fire detail Monday night.”

Reserve your copy of WARRIOR MINE for just 99¢.
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Cover Reveal! Your First Look at WARRIOR MINE

I’m so excited to show you the cover of my new book, WARRIOR MINE, Dream Dominant Book 4!  This gorgeous cover was designed by the divine Linz Basset, best-selling erotic romance author and fellow Wicked Pen.

WARRIOR MINE, like all the Dream Dominant Collection, is a stand-alone novel with light BDSM themes, featuring a sexy Alpha male and a strong submissive woman he can’t resist.  Although it’s stand-alone, WARRIOR MINE is actually a spin-off of Dream Dominant Book 2, LOST & BOUND.

My friend, erotic romance author Lilah E. Noir read LOST & BOUND and suggested that supporting characters Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker needed their own story.  Originally, I thought it might make a good novella.  But 115k+ words later, the story ended up taking on a life of its own.  Aside from the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy, it’s the longest book I’ve written.

While all of my leading ladies have red hair, Jackie Walker, sister of Blake Walker from LOST & BOUND, is my first non-ginger heroine.   That’s because in the first book, I gave her the same dark hair as her brother.  She’s also a Warrior Princess, a different kind of submissive than I’ve ever written before, so this has been an exciting book to write.

Here’s the official blurb:

She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker.
Their attraction is instant from the moment they meet.
But he’s Dominant.  And no way is she submissive.
Is it a missed connection?  Or a divine appointment?

Scott Nielsen is ready for change.  He’s walked away from his career as a wilderness counselor, planning to start his own outdoor survival school.  He looks up his old friend and former colleague Blake Walker, intent on leasing space at Blake’s family’s remote wilderness guest lodge.  That’s where he meets Blake’s sister Jackie, who runs the lodge with her brother’s help.  Her strength and independence intrigue Scott.  A single mom, Jackie has no intention of being anyone’s submissive.

In his personal life, Scott is tired of casual sex in the BDSM club scene.  Envious watching his buddy Blake fall head over heels for his own submissive, Scott thinks he might be ready to take the plunge himself.  As he and Jackie spend time together, he’s enchanted with her inner Warrior Princess.  But Jackie’s been burned before.  And she has two children who are her priority, not to mention the business to run.   As independent as she is, she can’t see relinquishing her power to a man, not even one she’s falling for.

Scott’s heart aches at the idea of not having Jackie in his life.  Can she take another chance on love, or will she insist on ignoring her submissive soul?

If you enjoyed LOST & BOUND, you’ll love this spin-off stand-alone story.

One-click WARRIOR MINE today!

WARRIOR MINE
comes out August 14,
but you can reserve your copy now at the
special pre-order price of 99¢.
On release day, it goes up to $3.99.
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband Graham dies unexpectedly, she’s devastated. He’s the only man she’s ever loved. Just eighteen when she met him, she’s been married to him for twenty-five years. Now she’s lost her friend, her lover…and her Dominant. 

But as it turns out, Graham had an inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protégé in the Lifestyle, firefighter and paramedic Judd Farris, to be Jessi’s Dominant until she gets back on her feet. 

Judd is determined to fulfill his promise to his friend. But it’s a damn odd arrangement—a platonic Dom/sub relationship. With her fiery auburn hair, sparkling green eyes, and audacious spirit, Jessi captured his attention the first time he ever saw her. At her husband’s funeral. 

A man could go to hell for the things he’s been thinking. But they’ve drawn a line, and he’s going to stick to it.

Judd’s sexy good looks and his gentle confidence aren’t lost on Jessi. She’s torn between loyalty to the man she loved, and desire for the man increasingly in her fantasies. In the letter Graham left for her, he mentioned that she might find Judd attractive. But that’s simply ridiculous. He’s five years younger than she is. He couldn’t possibly be interested in her. Could he?

Judd’s a Dom without a sub, and Jessi’s a sub without a Dom. It’s perfect for the time being. Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary solution? 

And could it all end at the hands of a madman?

FOR SPARROW, the third book in the Dream Dominant Collection, is the 2017 New Apple Medalist in Literary Erotica, and it’s a 2018 Golden Flogger Nominee for Best BDSM Book (BDSM Light).

It’s also special to me because I set it where I live, in Palm Beach County, Florida.  I loved being able to send my characters to some of my favorite places.  In the story, Dominant firefighter paramedic Judd lives in a townhouse on Juno Beach, which is one of south Florida’s best kept secrets, and my favorite beach anywhere.

In this scene, Judd and Jessi try a little surfing.

Before heading out the front door, she made one last check.  The party supplies were already in the Volvo.  She’d packed a bag for Buddy with his bowls, a Ziploc bag of food, his treats, his favorite toys, and a small blanket for him to use as a bed.

“I haven’t had to pack a diaper bag in years,” she laughed to herself.

As she pulled up to the front of Judd’s, she noticed a small piece of paper taped to the door.

I’m out back.  J

Jessi shifted the straps of Buddy’s bag higher on her left shoulder and tugged his leash, urging the dog away from Judd’s front step and around the side of the building.  A white PVC gate blocked her path, but the latch easily opened and she headed down the sidewalk in the direction of the beach.  As she got to the corner of the building, she saw Judd, shirtless in a black pair of board shorts, leaning over a red surfboard that was resting on top of a rectangular teak wood table.

His back was to her as he moved his right hand in circles across the board.  Eyes wide, she took a moment to appreciate the way the muscles rippled just beneath the bronze skin of his broad back and shoulders.  The sight was utterly male, and Jessi sighed.

Buddy gave an excited yip and Judd turned around, smiling.

“You made it,” he grinned, dropping a pale lavender cake of wax.

“Yeah, we’re here,” she answered, suddenly nervous.

“I was just,” he hooked a thumb over his shoulder, “getting the board ready.”

Jessi moved to look at the board, dropping her bag into a chair at the table.  Picking up the wax, she read the label and frowned.  “Sex Wax?”  She looked up at Judd.

He laughed.  “Mr. Zog’s.  It’s the best.”  He laughed again at her blank look.  “It helps you stick to the board.”

“Why do they call it ‘sex wax’?” she wondered aloud.

“I don’t know.  Probably to sell more wax,” he laughed, admiring the blush that graced her cheeks.

“Okay, well,” she gathered her thoughts.  “Here’s Buddy’s stuff.”  She held up the navy-blue tote bag.  “Hopefully you won’t need anything else.  But call me if you do.”

“Jessi,” he suppressed an amused grin, “you’ll be gone a couple of hours.  I’m sure killer and I can batch’ it for that long.”  He winked at her, reveling in the way her blush deepened.

“Of course, I didn’t mean, well, I just…”  She looked at him helplessly.

He threw his head back and laughed.  “It’s all good, Jessi.  Don’t worry.  Go do what you need to, and then we’ll get you up on a surfboard.”

*****

A few hours later, Jessi and the grandmother-to-be loaded the last of the gifts into the back of a huge black SUV.  Back inside, the guest of honor sank into a chair at the head table.

“That was fun,” she said, “but I’m exhausted.”

Jessi smiled warmly.  “I’m happy you enjoyed your day.  You two head on home.  I’ll take care of everything else.  Congratulations again to you and your family.”

After they left, Jessi settled with the hotel and carried her supplies to her car.  She was tired, too, but she felt a flutter of excitement.  Throughout the party, her mind had drifted to the picture of Judd leaning over his surfboard.  She couldn’t deny her attraction, but she felt silly at the same time.  He was at least five years younger, and clearly, he dated on occasion.

Still, leaving romance out of the equation, she’d loved paddle boarding, and today she’d give surfing a whirl.

Undoubtedly, my children will be impressed, she grinned to herself.

As she pulled up to Judd’s again, the note was gone from his door, so she knocked lightly.  A moment later, Judd opened the door, grinning broadly.  “Hey, Jessi.  How was your party?”  He stepped back to let her in.

“Oh,” she sighed, “it went well.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  And I got a referral for a bridal shower, so that’s always good.”

“Good.”  He motioned with his head toward the back.  Jessi followed him to the combination kitchen and den.  Buddy lay curled on his blanket, eyes slammed shut and snoring loudly.  “Killer wore himself out playing in the surf,” Judd laughed softly.

Jessi smiled affectionately.  “I imagine he had a wonderful time.”

Judd nodded.  “Now it’s your turn.  Go get changed.  The water is perfect.”

Using Judd’s powder room off the main entry, Jessi quickly changed out of her sundress and into the same blue tankini she’d worn paddle boarding.  Hesitating, she held up the beach cover-up and decided against it—they were going straight to the beach, it seemed like a waste of time.

Returning to the den, she met Judd’s soft brown eyes, which sparkled with excitement.  “Let’s go,” he said.

Jessi followed him through the glass sliders and out onto the patio.  The red surfboard she’d seen earlier was now leaning against the wall.  Judd tucked the board under his arm, grabbed a small red and white cooler, and headed out across the sand toward the aqua water of the Atlantic.  Jessi picked up the folded towels sitting on the corner of the table and hurried to catch up with him.

Stopping short of the water, Judd lay the board on the sand, pointing it toward the townhouse.  “Now, what you’re going to do is, you’re going to rest on your belly until we find the right wave.  Then I’ll let go and you can ride into shore.  After I let go, you can pop up on your feet.”

Jessi grimaced.  “Eek!  Are you sure I’m ready to ‘pop up’?”

Judd laughed kindly.  “You’ve got this, little one.  It might take a few tries, but I promise, this is something you can do.”

He had her practice a few times with the board on the sand, gently coaching her into the proper position.

Taking her hand, he helped her stand.  “Are you ready?”

Jessi breathed out, absently wiping her palms on her suit.  “Let’s do this.”  She grinned up at him, a glint of determination in her eye.

“That’s my girl,” he said proudly.

Before they took the red surfboard into the water, Judd secured his GoPro to the front tip.  “We’re going to get your first time surfing on video.”

“Oh, boy,” she replied, rolling her eyes.

When they were knee deep, Judd placed the board in the water and had Jessi lie on top.  “The wax is what helps you stick,” he explained.  “Normally, you’d paddle yourself out, but I’ll pull you for now.”  He gripped the rail, guiding the board past the breakers.  Now waist deep, Judd rotated the board so that Jessi faced the beach.  Standing behind her, he held onto the back of the surf board.  “All we have to do is wait for the perfect wave.”

Bobbing up and down, Jessi held herself as Judd had prescribed—feet together, hands beneath her chest, head up.  Anticipation pinged through her veins, her earlier tiredness forgotten.

“Okay, Jessi, this is the one,” Judd called.  “I’m letting go.”

Jessi squealed as she rode the crest of the small wave all the way to shore.  When she reached the shallow water, she jumped off to see Judd wading along behind her.

“You didn’t pop up,” he grinned.

“I got so excited, I forgot,” she laughed.

“Do you want to try again?”

“Hell, yeah!”

“Okay,” he turned the board around, “let’s do it again.”

For the next hour, Jessi tried wave after wave, attempting to stand and losing her balance, surfacing to splutter and cough, before trying again.  Finally, after about a dozen tries, Judd let go and watched as Jessi pushed herself to her feet, and knees bent, rode all the way to shore.

“I did it!  Did you see me?  I totally did it!”  Her expression was jubilant.

“I did see you!”  Judd wrapped his arms around her, twirling her in a wide circle.  “You nailed it!”

The pair sank onto a towel spread out over the sand.  Lifting the lid of the small cooler, Judd offered Jessi a cool bottled water, taking one for himself as well.  They drank thirstily, watching the waves continue to gently crash onto the sand.

After a moment, Judd turned to Jessi.  “Want to go again?”

She shook her head.  “I’d rather watch you do it the way it’s supposed to be done.”

He nodded happily, handed her his water bottle, and headed out into the water with the surfboard.  As he paddled out, Judd realized that he wanted nothing more than for Jessi to watch him.  The idea of impressing her thrilled him more than he could say.

On the beach, Jessi watched as Judd paddled himself out further than they had been.  As he turned to face her, she shielded her eyes with her hand, squinting against the brilliant sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water.  A swell approached him from behind and Jessi saw him paddle to catch it, popping up just as the wave broke.  He cut back and forth across the white foam until the crest dissolved, and he twisted the board to head back out and wait for another wave.

Jessi hugged her knees, watching Judd’s surfing expertise over the next half-hour.  Finally, board under his arm, Judd grinned as he returned to where she sat, leaning over her to shake water all over her.

They both giggled as he flopped down beside her.  Jessi offered him another bottled water, and he accepted, chugging gratefully until the bottle was empty.

“That was amazing,” she gushed.  “How long have you been surfing?”

Judd leaned back on his elbows.  “I tried it as a kid.  We’d come down to Florida from North Carolina on vacation, and I always tried to surf.  But I didn’t really get into it until college.  And of course, when I moved here,” he nodded at the townhouse.  “I always wanted to live on the beach.  Surfing helps me wind down after work.”

Jessi thought of the patients he’d mentioned, the horrible work week he’d had.  “You work hard,” she observed softly.  “It’s good that you take time for yourself.”

FOR SPARROW is available
in both digital and paperback formats
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

Weekend Excerpt–Chasing Ordinary

I’m away from home today, posting from the Tampa Indie Author Book Convention.  It’s been a great event so far, and we have another fantastic day to go.

While there has been a lot of interest in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy and the Dream Dominant Collection, people have been going crazy over modern-day adult fairy tale, CHASING ORDINARY.

Artist and rancher Petey Cavanaugh has no idea that the handsome businessman she met one rainy Manhattan night is actually Europe’s most eligible prince.
Nik is fascinated by the pretty red-haired sculptor, the only woman he’s ever met who sees him as simply a man rather than an institution.  He realizes he needs to tell her the truth, but for now, he’s relishing his first-ever taste of ordinary.
But sooner or later, she’s going to find out.  Will he lose everything he’s ever wanted?

Here’s a snippet from CHASING ORDINARY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHASING ORDINARY is available at your favorite online bookseller.
And it’s at Table #26 at the Tampa Indie Author Book Convention.

Heading to Tampa!

I’m getting excited about this weekend’s Second Annual Tampa Indie Author Book Convention!  I was at last year’s inaugural event and this year promises to be even better, with more attending authors and a great new venue.  Le Meridien, formerly a courthouse, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Check it out.

The signing event is Saturday and Sunday, July 14 and 15.

At Table #26, I’ll have all three Rannigan’s Redemption books (RESISTING RISK, RUNNING ROGUE, and RANSOMING REDEMPTION) with their gorgeous new covers, Limited Edition copies of Dream Dominants LUKE & BELLA and LOST & BOUND, and the award-winning third Dream Dominant FOR SPARROW.  I’ll also have my modern-day adult fairy tale CHASING ORDINARY.

As a gift for signing up for my newsletter, I’ll be giving away digital copies of my naughty little summer novella JUST ONE NIGHT.  Plus, I’ll have swag galore, including some fun goodies from Kink Crate.

If you’ll be anywhere near the Tampa area this weekend, be sure to stop by!