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:
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

RR1 updated

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Weekend Excerpt–Finding Callie

Happy Weekend!  Is it me, or is the summer seeming to fly by?  How can it be August already?  I’m still hard at work on FOR SPARROW, which will be the third book in the Dream Dominant Collection.  Sexy and talented author (and fellow Wicked Pen) Linzi Basset is hard at work on the cover, and she may or may not have another couple of surprises up her sleeve.  Stay tuned here for more new about that.

callie

For this weekend’s excerpt, I’m sharing another snippet from the Teasers tab on my website.  Tentatively titled FINDING CALLIE, this story idea comes from experiences I had some years ago when I had the chance to travel to France and Spain for a couple of weeks.

Here’s the first chapter…

Standing in line at the post office has to be the fourth circle of hell

Callie shifted her weight to her left foot and leaned her hip against the railing around which the line of fellow postal customers snaked.  Look, only three more back-and-forths then it’s my turn, she thought sardonically. 

She frowned to herself.  Whose inner monologue is sardonic?

     “Next,” called the clerk at the second station.  Everyone in line took a step forward clutching their parcels all wrapped in brown paper and packing-taped into infinity, or their very important looking overnight-air envelopes. 
Callie glanced down at the peach square of paper in her hands.  We REdeliver for you! the paper promised.  She shook her head.  She wasn’t waiting for redelivery.
     Another clerk called out and the line shifted again.  A sextet of antique ceiling fans whirled ineffectively over their heads as a bead of sweat trickled down her spine.  She wondered if the air conditioning was out or if the USPS was simply economizing.  Either way, you could tell it was summer in south Florida.
     She made it to the turn-around and felt a bit encouraged.  Not much longer now.  She gazed at the receipt once again, her forefinger lightly tracing the address of the sender.  Sevilla.  She inhaled sharply.  She knew one person in Seville.  She couldn’t imagine what he’d sent in a parcel.
Raised voices interrupted Callie’s thoughts.  She looked up to see a well-dressed middle-aged woman shouting at the clerk at the third station.   
    
     “What do you mean, I have to get in a different line?  I’ve been standing here all day!”
     “Ma’am, I don’t have the form that you need.  Would you like to get in the other line?” the clerk asked patiently.  The man was an older black gentleman with sloping shoulders and an air of resignation.  Callie idly wondered if he’d delivered mail on foot back in the day.
     “Well if you won’t give me the form I guess I’ll have to!” the woman snapped as she vacated the station and toddled off to the the correct line. 
     Callie shook her head.  Why do people have to be such assholes?  She ran into her fair share of them as a teacher but she recalled her college days when she’d worked as a server in a busy restaurant.  People have no idea…
     She found herself suddenly only two people behind the head of the line, and she felt her heart begin to pound.  Finn.  She looked back at the peach scrap of paper.  After all this time.
     In truth she was shocked that he’d sent anything at all.  She’d known him for all of what, fifteen days?  The flush began in the center of her being and flowed up her neck to her cheeks.  Those fifteen days had changed her irrevocably.  She could never go back to the pre-Finn Callie.
     Vaguely she heard a clerk call for the next customer.  “Excuse me, ma’am?” said the guy behind her.  Callie looked up, startled.  “You’re next.”

     She murmured an apology and walked to the vacant station.  The same clerk who’d had the misfortune to deal with the nasty customer surveyed her with gentle eyes.  Callie was determined to be kind, to make up for the woman who’d been so unpleasant.  She smiled broadly.  “Yes, I’m picking up a parcel.”  She presented him with the peach scrap and her driver’s license.

     The man smiled kindly as he took the slip of paper and disappeared into the back.  He reemerged moments later carrying a package about the size and shape of a hardcover book.  Callie’s pulse pounded in her ears.
     “Here you are, ma’am,” he said as he handed her the box.  It was lighter than she’d expected.  Her eyes zeroed in on the return address.  Finn Cooper, 54 Calle Montevideo, Sevilla, Espana. 
     She smiled again and thanked the man, wished him a pleasant day, and walked out into the heat of the summer day.
I hope you liked this little teaser.  FINDING CALLIE joins a long list of stories I’ll eventually get to.   In the meantime, browse my Amazon Author Page for your next steamy read.

Weekend Excerpt–Invisible

Here’s a little something different for this weekend’s excerpt.  Rather than posting a snippet from a book that’s currently (or soon to be) available, I’m digging into the Teasers archive on my website.

Sometimes when I’m busy working on my latest project, an idea pops into my head and I just can’t shake it.  Afraid I’ll forget, I’ll chase the wild hare and get a chapter or two banged out, then go back to what I’m supposed to be working on.

Under the Teasers tab, you’ll find these barely started stories.  My current WIP and next release, For Sparrow, has its beginning there.  This one is called Invisible, and it’s in the pipeline to be finished in the near future.

invisible

Henry sat across the table watching her devour his hamburger and fries.  When he’d asked, she’d said she wasn’t hungry, but when his food arrived, she hadn’t been able to take her eyes off of it.

     The impromptu meal started when he’d asked if he could buy her a coffee.  It seemed a small thing, seeing how she’d rescued him from an embarrassing predicament.  He never should have tried to go after Joanne.  He’d been a fool.  She hadn’t just now decided to break up with him, it had been brewing for a while.
     He’d found himself trapped in the door of her building, the sleeve of his overcoat caught when it slammed shut.  He’d pulled and tugged, kicking at the door, but to no avail.  He couldn’t even manage to take the damn thing off and the driving rain was soaking him anyway.
     That’s when she’d appeared.  “Are you stuck?” she’d called to him up the steps.
     “No, I enjoy standing in the rain!” he’d fired back.
     She’d shaken her head and bounded up the steps, pulling her soaked black fleece hoodie tighter around herself.  “No reason to be an asshole,” she’d muttered.  She’d begun pressing all of the buttons beside the door.  “Let me in!  It’s rainin’ out here!”  The door had buzzed and he was free.  She’d given an exaggerated bow and hurried down the steps, stopping under the awning of the building next door.
     Sheepishly, Henry had followed, standing beside her under the awning.  She’d glanced down at him then resumed looking out at the rain.  “I’m sorry,” he’d said.  “I didn’t mean to be an asshole.”  She’d continued staring toward the street.  “Can I buy you a coffee?  My way of saying thanks.”
     She’d looked back at him again seeming to think for a moment.  Finally she’d sighed.  “I guess I’m not goin’ anywhere until it stops rainin’ anyways,” she’d said.  That was when he’d noticed her drawl.  She certainly wasn’t from around here.
     She must be homeless, he guessed.  He figured her to be in her early twenties, twenty-three tops.  She was pretty, too, as far as he could tell.  Her long wet hair was plastered to her head, but it seemed to be red.  She had huge blue eyes that were watchful, flitting all around the room as she ate.  He’d never seen a woman eat like that.  And she was skinny, too.  “I’m Henry, by the way,” he told her.
     She paused, french fry halfway to her mouth.  “I’m Shelby.”  She chewed thoughtfully and swallowed.  “What were you doing stuck in that door, Henry?”
     He looked down at his hands.  “Acting like a fool, I suppose.”
     She smiled knowingly.  “It was a girl,” she said definitely.  Henry declined to answer.  “So what do you do, Henry?”
     “I’m a professor of English Literature at Columbia,” he answered.
     Shelby’s already large eyes grew bigger.  “No shit?” she said softly, and she laughed to herself.
     Henry felt his temper rising.  Having been born with dwarfism, he’d faced ridicule all his life.  “What, is it so unbelievable that someone like me could be a university professor?” he demanded.
     Shelby stopped laughing.  “That’s a hell of a chip on your shoulder, there.  A chip that big ought to have its own name.”  She shook her head.  
     “What I meant was, who would have thought that someone like me would ever meet a professor, let alone sit and have dinner with him?”
     “What do you mean, someone like you?” he asked, realizing that he owed her another apology.
     She shrugged.  “I’m not very smart,” she said simply.  “I never even finished the eighth grade.  I don’t even know anybody who went to college, let alone anybody who teaches there.”
     Henry let that thought sink in.  I’m not very smart.  “Where are you from, Shelby?”
     She shook her head, grinning.  “You never heard of it.”
     “Try me.”
     “I’m from Pine Grove, West Virginia,” she said, watching him carefully.
     Henry smiled slowly.  “You’re right, I never heard of it.”
     She laughed.  “Count yourself lucky, then.  It’s smack in the middle of nowhere.  Everybody there works at the Hastings plant, processing natural gas.  They actually have red lights to stop the cars about a mile away from the plant, just in case the shit hits the fan.”
     Henry nodded.  “Is that why you left?  You didn’t want to work in the plant?”
     Shelby looked him dead in the eye.  “I left in the middle of eighth grade because I was tired of getting fucked by my mama’s boyfriends.”  She paused.  “I figured if I was going to be doing it anyway, I might as well be getting paid for it.”
     Henry’s eyes widened.  “You’re a…” he stopped.
     She narrowed her eyes.  “Now who’s judging?” she asked.
     Henry backpedaled.  “No, I mean, I just…”
    “I don’t do that anymore.  I quit three years ago.  I have a new gig,” she said.  “I take pictures.”  Henry noticed that she pronounced it pitchers.  “I have a friend who sells postcards and shit to the tourists.  He sells my postcards and splits the profits with me.”
     “Really?” Henry said thoughtfully.
     “I have a nice camera,” she said, for the first time opening up her jacket to reveal a small camera bag.  She placed it on the table, opening it carefully.  “It’s mine, I bought it at a pawn shop,” she said, slightly defensively.
     Henry looked over the camera appreciatively before handing it back to her.  “It’s very nice,” he said.
     “That’s why I came uptown.  Somebody told me that I’d like to take pictures at Columbia.  Said there’s cool buildings there.  I was pissed off and not thinkin’ straight.  It was dark by the time I got here.  Plus I didn’t know it was going to rain.  I wasted a whole damn trip for nothing.”
     “Where do you live?” Henry wondered.    
     Shelby rolled her eyes.  “Long story,” she said, “but when I’m in between places, I usually stay at Grand Central.”  He thought of the train station.  “It’s pretty clean, and you can leave your stuff in a locker for two weeks before you have to move it.  There’s a guy who lets me clear tables for a few dollars.  Plus, you can eat what people leave on the trays.  You wouldn’t believe how much food people just waste.”
     Henry listened, astounded.  He’d never known a moment when he didn’t know where his next meal was coming from.  “So you came uptown to take pictures at the university?”
     “Yeah,” she said around another mouthful.  “Kind of stupid, I guess.  It was too late to begin with and then when I came out of the subway the bottom just fell out of the sky.”
     “So are you going to go back to Grand Central?” he probed.
     Shelby shrugged.  “I guess so.  I’d better hurry, though.  The good places get taken early.”
     Henry sat back in his seat, picturing Shelby stalking through the train station dripping wet, trying to find a good place to settle down for the night.  His own words surprised him.  “You could stay with me for the night.  I’ll take you to the university in the morning, give you a tour.”
     Shelby’s eyes narrowed.  “I don’t fuck for a place to sleep.”
     Henry blushed furiously.  “God, no!  That’s not what I meant at all,” he stammered.  “I just thought, you’re all the way here, you’re soaked, it’ll take you, what, another hour to get back to Grand Central.  What if you can’t find a place?”  He cleared his throat.  “I’m just saying you could stay on my couch, go with me to work tomorrow.  You can get your pictures and get back at a reasonable time.”
     Shelby popped the last bite of hamburger into her mouth, gazing steadily at Henry.  “Okay,” she finally said.
Invisible won’t be part of the Dream Dominant Collection.  It’s going to be more spicy vanilla, like Rannigan’s Redemption and Just One Night.
This is the one my husband wants me to finish, and I will.  But for now, you can head over to my Amazon page for my books that are currently available.

Weekend Excerpt–Just One Night

JON new coverIt’s the middle of July.  Which seems the perfect time to share an excerpt from my naughty little summer novella, JUST ONE NIGHT.

Teacher Katie Parker is on a Caribbean cruise with her best girlfriends from high school.  Fresh off a humiliating break-up, Katie is determined to forget about her disastrous love life by having an anonymous shipboard fling with a handsome stranger.

By chance, she meets Mac Coleman, traveling with his brothers to Mexico for a wedding.  He’s more than happy to go along with Katie’s plan.  But he soon realizes that what they’ve found is worth more than just one night.  Can he convince Katie to give them a chance?

Read a teaser…

Hours later, Michelle led the foursome as they made their way toward the main dining room.  “I’m starved,” commented Jayma.  “Who decided that we wouldn’t eat until the 9:00 seating?”

Michelle rolled her eyes.  “Don’t be so Nashville.  Civilized society doesn’t eat until late.”

“You live in Dallas, not Paris,” Katie quipped.

“Anyway, most of the families with little kids eat earlier,” Chelsea added.  “We should have a nice serene dining experience.”

“I just want some grub,” Jayma giggled.

Immediately before they reached their destination, they passed a small alcove where photos taken during the day were displayed for purchase.  “Hey, you guys go on ahead to our table.  I want to look at the pictures,” Katie said.

In the ten years since they’d graduated from high school and gone their separate ways into college and life, Katie had been the self-appointed documentarian of their annual outings, taking photos and gathering mementos, sending them off to be made into a photo scrapbook.

The one of us on the gangplank would be just right for the cover of this year’s album.  She scanned the hundreds of pictures already hanging on the racks, looking for the one of the four of them.

Finally, she saw it and reached for it, smiling.  As she did, her hand collided with a large masculine one reaching across in front of her.  Startled, she looked up.  “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

Soulful brown eyes gazed down at her.  “No, it’s my fault.  I was rudely reaching in front of you.  I was paying attention to the photos and not to what’s going on around me.”

Katie laughed lightly.  “That’s exactly what I was doing.  Again, I’m sorry.”  She felt her face redden as she reached again, snapped up the photo, and hurriedly turned away.  Quickly, she charged the picture to her cabin and left the alcove, glancing back over her shoulder as she did.  The man was still watching her.

I’m going to get laid, she says, Katie thought miserably.  Not like that I’m not.  What the hell just happened?  That was a perfect opportunity.  But she knew why she’d blown the chance meeting.  Casual sex was not who Katie Parker was, it wasn’t how she operated.  Flustered, she entered the dining room and found the others already seated at their table.

Jayma smiled as she sat down.  “Did you find it?”

“I did.  It came out great.”

“What’s wrong with you?  You seem all out of breath,” Michelle observed.

“I’m just starved,” Katie replied in mock seriousness.  “We’re eating in the middle of the night.”

Conversation around the table was about their respective years since the last time they’d been together.  Of course, they kept up on everyone’s latest via email, text messages, and social media so there was little news.  It wasn’t until halfway through dessert that Katie looked across to see the man she’d run into in the photo alcove.  He was seated about three tables away facing her direction.  And he was looking right at her.

She felt her eyes widen before she moved her gaze back to her plate.  A flush crept up her neck and across her cheeks as she tried to casually look across the room again, only to find him still watching her.  As their eyes met, he smiled.

Holy heaven.  If you looked up ‘tall, dark, and handsome’ in the dictionary, his picture would be there.  Topping the soulful brown eyes were expressive dark eyebrows.  Framing a gorgeous face was tousled dark brown hair.  There was a shadow of stubble over a strong, square jaw and lips that looked imminently kissable.  Katie reached for her wine and slugged back the remainder.

“More wine, madam?”

“You betcha!”

“So Katie, what’s new with you?  How’s your love life?”  Chelsea gazed at her expectantly.

Katie sipped her wine, stalling for time.  “Oh, well, you know…”

“No, we don’t know, that’s why we ask,” said Michelle.

Katie sighed.  “I dated a guy for a while and he turned out to be a shit.  I met him on a dating website and—“

“A dating site, really?”  Chelsea grinned.  “I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to try one of those.”

“Or desperate enough,” Michelle muttered.  She looked up at Katie, wide-eyed.  “Not that you’re desperate, that’s not what I meant, I just meant…”

Refusing to bail her out, Katie sipped her wine and narrowed her eyes, waiting to see how Michelle would untangle the mess she’d created.

Jayma came to her rescue.  “Oh, you know, as a teacher, Katie doesn’t have the opportunity to meet guys at work.  Honestly, I think meeting someone online is way better than picking up some guy in a bar.”

“You know what I think?” Michelle flagged down the waiter for a refill of her wine.  “I think that teachers should stay single.  You know, like Miss Beadle from Little House on the Prairie.”  She grinned before sipping her wine.  “Completely dedicated to the kids.”

Katie was sure she felt actual steam coming out of her ears.  “Really?”  She nodded sharply.  “That’s what you think?”  She could hear her voice growing louder.  “You think that teachers should just forego a personal life and live like nuns, nobly pouring out their lives for kids who don’t care, and parents and administrators who blame them for everything?  And for low salaries and shit benefits to boot?  Or maybe they should just work for free.”

Again, Jayma was the peacemaker.  “No, I’m sure that’s not what Michelle meant.”

Katie stood abruptly.  “I need some air.”  She turned and left the table heading for the same doors they’d entered.

***

Meeting a woman had been the last thing on Mac’s mind.  He was moving across the state just to get away from the last one he’d dated.  But the redhead in the photo shop intrigued him.  She’d been as startled as he’d been.  Truthfully neither of them had been watching what they’d been doing, as occupied with looking at the photos as they’d both been.  But when she’d looked up at him with those grey-green eyes, he’d felt a spark.

So when he’d realized that she was sitting a few tables away he couldn’t resist watching her.  She was unbelievably pretty, almost like a fairy or something with her red hair and her fair skin.  He wondered briefly how she’d fare for a week in the intense Caribbean sun.  She was chatting animatedly with the women at her table.  And don’t think he hadn’t noticed.  She was traveling with a group of women, not a man.

“So what’s the deal with this restraining order?”

Mac pulled his eyes from the gorgeous redhead and focused on his brother.  “It’s a long story.”  He shook his head.

“Well, we have a couple of days before we hit Mexico.  Will that be enough time?”  Danny had always been the sarcastic one.

Mac sighed, shrugging.  “I went out a couple of times with a girl from my apartment complex.”

“What was her name?” Tommy wondered.

Mac frowned.  “Erin.  What difference does it make?”

“I just wondered, is all.”

“Anyway, she seemed like a pretty nice girl but after a few dates, I knew she wasn’t the one for me.  I just didn’t feel that…I don’t know, spark.”  Instantly the redhead popped up in his mind, and he couldn’t resist a glance in her direction before he continued.

He looked from one brother to the other.  “So I very gently suggested that although we’d had a good time going out, I felt that we were not completely compatible and it would be better if we didn’t go out again.”

“And she didn’t take it well,” Danny summed up.

Images of his tires slashed to ribbons and a deep, jagged groove keyed down the side of his black Jeep popped into his head.  “No.  No, she did not.”

“I can’t believe you had to take out a restraining order.”  Tommy’s eyes were wide.

“Dude, I’m moving to a new city.  I have a new job and everything.  Do you really think a piece of paper will keep away a psycho?”

Danny shook his head.  “I assume you fucked her.”

Mac rolled his eyes.  “Well, yeah, we slept together.  Who knew she was batshit?”

“Ya see, this is why you need to settle down with a nice girl, get married, and have a family.”  Danny had married his college sweetheart and was now raising three little girls.  He was forever trying to persuade his brothers to join him.

“Well, that’s what Tommy-boy is doing.”  Mac playfully punched his baby brother’s arm.  “I’m happy for you, bro, really I am.  Gretchen is a great girl.”

“Thanks man, I appreciate it.”  Tommy grinned ear to ear.  “I love her, I truly do.”

As dessert was served, Mac’s attention was drawn back to the table across the room.  The redhead suddenly looked right at him and he felt his automatic smile, which widened as she snapped her eyes away.  He continued to watch as she raised her gaze casually as if to see if he was still looking.  This time he smiled deliberately.

At that moment, her head turned and she spoke to someone at her table.  Her face changed and she seemed to be speaking passionately, an angry flash in her eyes.  He watched as she removed the linen napkin from her lap and dropped it on the table, pushed back from the table, and stalked out of the dining room.

Impulsively, he knew he needed to follow.  “Gents, I can’t eat another bite,” Mac said as he pushed away from the table.  “I’m going to walk off a little of this dinner.  I’ll meet you two later.”

By the time Mac made it to the door of the dining room, the redhead had disappeared.  He glanced to his left and then to his right, trying to guess her more likely route.  The woman at the photo checkout cleared her throat discreetly and he looked in her direction.  She nodded meaningfully to her right and smiled.

He grinned at her wholeheartedly.  “Thanks!” he proffered as he hurried off in the direction the clerk had indicated.  Mac made his way through the door that opened onto the deck and he saw her leaning against the railing, looking out over the dark water.  Her skirt ruffled lightly in the breeze and the full moon overhead gave her hair a fire-like glow.

Ignoring the slight case of nerves he felt, he approached the railing, stopping by her left elbow.  “Hey, you,” he said casually.

She startled slightly, whipping her head to her left, eyes wide.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.  I just saw you standing here and I thought I’d say hello.”  He held his hands in front of himself in surrender, pasting on what he hoped was a charming smile.

The redhead continued to stare at him wordlessly.  “I don’t mean to bother you.  I can go if you’d like.”

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t want you to go.  I was just surprised, that’s all.”

Mac smiled gratefully.  “Well, it’s a beautiful night.  And dinner was fantastic.  I don’t know about you, but I had the lobster and it was amazing.”

She smiled back.  “I had the mahi and it was delicious.”

They stood awkwardly for a moment.  “Listen, would you like to get a drink or something?” Mac offered.

She looked out at the water, then back at him, nodding.  “I’d like that a lot.”

His grin was genuine.  “Good.  Great.  Let’s go find a drink.”

JON 99 cents

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Weekend Excerpt–RANSOMING REDEMPTION

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

RANSOMING REDEMPTION is Book 3 of the trilogy.

[Beware: Spoilers ahead!]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Think what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

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

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

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

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

Here’s an excerpt from RUNNING ROGUE.

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

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

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

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

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

Aw, shit, Michael thought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good luck, Michael,” she said honestly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re welcome.  How’s your neck?”

Maggie shook her head dismissively.  “No worries.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Weekend Excerpt–RESISTING RISK

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RESISTING RISK is the first book of Rannigan’s Redemption, an epic three-novel contemporary erotic romance-slash-legal drama.

Inveterate player Michael Rannigan is a founding partner and the public face of prestigious Manhattan law firm Murphy, Rannigan, & Metheny.  As the head of the firm’s lucrative high-profile criminal defense practice, he has a host of underlings to do the legwork, leaving him to do what he does best, charm the press and win over juries.  And his wealthy clients are only too happy to retain him to get them out of legal trouble.

When he meets spunky red-haired Maggie Flynn at a job fair, he hires her on the spot, unaware that his life will be forever changed.  He just knows smart when he sees it.

Professionally, the pair mesh quickly.  She’s intelligent and capable.  But there’s something very unsettling about Mary Margaret Flynn.  She’s nothing like the vapid, surgically enhanced bottle-blondes he keeps on speed-dial.  So why can’t he get her off his mind?

Here’s an excerpt from RESISTING RISK.

“Mags,” she heard out of the shifting fog.  “We’re back in town.  I need you to tell us where to go.”

She opened her eyes and realized that she’d been sleeping with her head on his shoulder.   “Oh, God, I’m so sorry.”  She sat up abruptly.  “I didn’t realize…I wish you’d awakened me.”

“No worries.  But we need to know exactly where to take Ben and where your place is.”

Maggie could see the driver watching her in the rear view mirror.  “My place.  Right.”  She gave the address and the driver thanked her, the partition whooshing back into place.  “Ben can sleep it off on my couch.  It won’t be the first time.”

The car came to a stop in front of Maggie’s brownstone.  “Nice building, Mags.  Is the whole thing yours?”

She fairly snorted.  “In my dreams!  One day when I’m rich and famous, I’ll have my own brownstone.  For now I’m happy with a tiny part of the second floor.”  She smiled gratefully.  “Thanks again for the ride.  You are a life saver.”  She moved to open the door but the driver was there first.

“Let me help you get him inside,” Michael offered.  They both glanced at Ben, who hadn’t so much as shifted during the entire ride.

She looked back at Michael.  “Probably a good idea.  I won’t be able to get him up the stairs by myself.”  They succeeded in rousing Ben enough for him to put his arms around their shoulders and they moved him to the sidewalk.

Michael spoke quietly to the driver, who nodded and returned to the driver’s seat and slowly drove away.  Maggie looked at him questioningly.  “I told him to find a place to park.  I’ll call him after we get your date settled.”

They managed the stairs and Michael leaned Ben between himself and the wall as Maggie unlocked the door and let them into her apartment.  “Let’s just lay him on the couch,” she said, cocking her head in the direction of a large grey overstuffed sofa with navy blue accent pillows.  They worked together to get the unconscious and snoring Ben safely onto the couch, Michael studiously ignoring the way his jacket gapped open, inviting views of Maggie’s breasts as she leaned over to place a pillow under Ben’s head.

“Thank you so much, Michael,” she said as she removed his jacket and held it uncertainly.  “Can I offer you beer or coffee or something?  Or do you need to go?”

“Coffee sounds good,” he answered.

Maggie smiled brightly and gently placed his jacket over the back of a kitchen chair and set about making coffee.  Michael wandered around the living room area to the semi-circular window and looked out over the street.  He turned back around to take in the view of the room.  It was small, of course, but nice in a quirky sort of way.  She’d left on a dim lamp near the window that gave enough light to the space without being intrusive.  “This is a nice place,” he commented.

She smiled at him from the kitchen counter.  “Thanks.  And again, I really appreciate your giving us a ride.”

“Mags, you’ve thanked me about a thousand times,” he said gently.

She blushed slightly.  “Well, I didn’t want to forget,” she said sheepishly.

He watched her as she worked in the kitchen, measuring out coffee into a French press, putting a kettle of water on the stove, little mundane domestic tasks.  His mind skipped to flashes of her from throughout the night.  Slowly it dawned on him what it was about Maggie that made him uncomfortable.

She’s real.  She has no hidden agenda.  She isn’t playing some game, she doesn’t want anything from me.  He sighed deeply. She’s the kind of girl who could make you forget your own rules.

Michael crossed the room uncertainly and stood by the kitchen counter.  “Can I help with something?”

“No, it’s all done.  We’re just waiting for the water to boil.”  She leaned back resting her hand on the counter.

He gently placed his hand on hers.  “You…are very dangerous,” he whispered, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it softly, his eyes searing into hers.  Her brow furrowed, perplexed.

Slowly, he tilted up her chin with his fingers and leaned down, meeting her lips with his own, lightly at first, and then more urgently.  He ran his other hand down the smooth fabric of the back of her dress coming to rest on her firm ass as he probed her mouth with his tongue, seeking hers.  Maggie responded, matching the heat of his kiss, reaching up, tangling her fingers in the hair behind his ear, giving herself over to his embrace.  Michael’s hand left her ass and smoothed its way back up to her side, her ribs, stopping just under her breast.  Reluctantly he pulled himself away.

Maggie breathlessly gazed up at him.  He smiled gently.  “We’re both a little drunk,” he said.  “Which is why I’d better go.”  He kissed her tenderly and walked out the door.

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