Weekend Excerpt–Happy Thanksgiving!


Here in the States, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving this week.  It’s a great time for family, friends, and good food.  It’s a time to stop and consider all the things for which we’re grateful.

This weekend excerpt features a Thanksgiving scene from RANSOMING REDEMPTION, the third and final book of Rannigan’s Redemption.

They arrived at the Beaulieu’s home after eight o’clock that night having driven from the airport in the silver pickup truck Bobby had reserved at the rental agency.  “A truck?” Maggie had questioned.  Bobby had just winked at her.

Jerilyn chased Savannah who bounded out of the house as they pulled up into the circular driveway.  “Daddy!” cried the child as she threw herself into Bobby’s arms.

“Well hey there, June bug,” he said, hugging his daughter tightly.  “Look who I brought with me.  You remember Maggie, don’t you?”

“Welcome, cher,” Jerilyn said as she wrapped Maggie in a huge hug.  “Come on in.  Are y’all hungry?”

“I’m always hungry,” laughed Bobby.  He put Savannah on the ground.  “Come on, you can help us get our bags.”

“This is such a beautiful home,” Maggie told Bobby’s mother.

“Why thank you, hon,” she smiled.  “Of course, you know Bobby had it built for us when he signed his first contract with the majors.”

Maggie’s eyes widened and she looked to Bobby who seemed uncomfortable.  “No.  I didn’t know that.”

Ro-bert, y’all are up in your room,” Jerilyn tossed over her shoulder as she headed back into the house.  “Get freshened up and come on down to the kitchen.”

With Bobby leading the way, Savannah carried Maggie’s cosmetic case and Maggie followed with her suitcase as they went upstairs.  They traveled down a long hallway to a bedroom on the back of the house with a huge bay window overlooking the marsh beyond the expansive lawn.

“Okay, sweetie,” Bobby said to Savannah, “how about you go help Nana in the kitchen and we’ll be right there.”

“Okay, Daddy,” the little girl said.  “Are you coming downstairs, Maggie?”

Maggie smiled.  “I sure am.  I’ll see you in just a minute.”

“You can sit by me,” Savannah said as she left the room, closing the door behind her.

Bobby pulled Maggie to him and held her for a moment, kissing her neck.  “Thank you so much for coming home with me, cher,” he murmured against her neck.

“I’m happy to be here,” she said.  “I’m surprised your mom has us sharing a room, though.”  He looked at her quizzically.  “I just figured we’d be in separate rooms, that’s all,” she shrugged.

“You realize, cher,” he arched an eyebrow, “they know we have sex.”  He whispered the last three words, and Maggie blushed furiously while he chuckled.  “You’re so pretty when your face is pink.”

Thursday was a blur of activity at the Beaulieu home.  Bobby’s sisters and their families arrived throughout the morning beginning around seven o’clock.  One by one, Maggie was introduced to them, and she made a concerted effort to remember everyone’s names and at least which kids belonged to which adults, if not the names of the kids.  She happily pitched in with the preparations in the kitchen while Bobby worked outside to set up the large outdoor fryer in which the turkey would be cooked.

“Have you ever had deep-fried turkey, Maggie?” asked Bobby’s sister Jenny.

Maggie shook her head.  “I never have, but I’ve always wanted to try it.”

“You should go outside and watch,” youngest sister Nancy told her.

Taking a beer from the giant ice-filled galvanized tub on the back deck, Maggie walked down the steps to the area on the end of the driveway where Bobby and his father had set up the fryer on its sturdy platform.  The other men were keeping an eye on the kids playing behind the house.

“If it’s not the prettiest girl I know,” Bobby said, smiling.  “And she brought me a beer.”  He took it from her and kissed her cheek.  “How are you doing, cher?”

“I’m great!  I came to see the turkey fry.”

“Once you have it fried, you’ll never go back to roasted,” Justin told her with a wink.

The holiday dinner around the family table was a raucous affair.  Following the grace, the passing of heaping platters and bowls was accompanied by loud conversation punctuated by frequent laughter.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Maggie sat back and took it all in.  Bobby rested his free hand on her thigh and grinned at her reassuringly from time to time.

“Well what do you think, Maggie?”  Bobby’s oldest sister Michelle smiled kindly.  “Are you coming back for Christmas or have we scared you off?”

“Oh, well,” Maggie began, “actually I have a gathering at my place every Christmas.  It’s sort of affectionately known as the Orphans and Misfits Christmas.”

“Being without family, Maggie invites her friends who don’t have anybody either.  She makes sure that nobody’s alone on Christmas,” Bobby elaborated proudly.

“Well, she has family now,” Bobby’s sister Renée said, and Maggie blushed as threatened tears stung her eyes.

RR3 review

RANSOMING REDEMPTION is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RansomingRedemption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie frowned.  We?

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

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

Maggie couldn’t think of a response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wear something pretty.  Seriously? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Michael, this looks beautiful,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie stood staring at him wide-eyed.

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

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

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

RR3 review

RANSOMING REDEMPTION
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RansomingRedemption

Box1

The entire Rannigan’s Redemption Collection
is available in one complete boxed set.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

Rannigan’s Redempton–RUNNING ROGUE: My How Things Have Changed

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

In previous posts, you’ve been introduced to Michael and Maggie.

If the first book, Resisting Risk is the set-up for the story, the second book, RUNNING ROGUE, is about change.  [WARNING: Spoilers ahead!]

For years, Michael and Maggie resisted the risk of love.  But one night of passion tore them apart, and now they’re just running rogue, making questionable choices in both their professional and personal lives.

When Michael receives devastating news, he’s shaken to his core.  And having burned all his bridges, there’s no one willing to stand beside him.  In desperation, one cold, rainy night, he finds himself outside Maggie’s apartment.  Is there any way she’ll forgive him?

Here’s an excerpt from RUNNING ROGUE.  Be forewarned, it includes spoilers.

Michael?” Maggie asked into the intercom.

“Hey, Mags.”  His voice sounded tinny over the ancient device.  “I know it’s late.  I’m sorry.  But when I saw your light on, I mean…  Can I come up?”

Maggie hesitated, her finger hovering over the button.  “What do you want, Michael?”

“Mags, I just…I just want to talk.”

She shook her head, checking the time again.  What the hell?  And he’s probably drunk.  Standing out there in the rain like he’s got absolutely no sense. 

            She pressed the door buzzer.  “Don’t wake my neighbors,” she admonished him.

Maggie pulled the wooly cream colored robe tighter around herself, tying the belt securely and she stalked to the door, opening it to wait for Michael.  She watched him coming up the stairs, his soaked hair matted to his head.  His wet shoes squeaked softly with each footfall.  She started to say something snippy but noticed the haunted look in his eyes, so she simply stepped back and let him into the apartment.  She closed the door behind him and walked to the kitchen counter where she leaned back, crossing her arms, head cocked at him expectantly.

Michael stood just inside the doorway, rainwater pooling all around his feet.  He looked ill at ease and uncertain.

“Well?” she finally said.

He ran his fingers through his wet hair and sighed deeply.

“Oh for God’s sake, Michael!”  She left him standing there and returned with a large blue towel.  “You’re soaked.”

She took his jacket from him and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair.  As he used the towel to dry his face and hair, she couldn’t help herself.  “Are you drunk?”

He frowned and shook his head.  “I’m not drunk.  I had some bourbon.  I might be drunk.  A little.”

Maggie rolled her eyes.  “Sit down.  I’m making you some coffee so we can send you home.  Have you eaten lately?”

“I don’t know.”  Michael sank onto a chair at the kitchen table.  He glanced around as Maggie busied herself putting a kettle of water on the stove and taking a French press from a cupboard.

“I hope I’m not causing a problem with your fiancé.  Husband?  Whatever.”

Maggie paused to look at him, her lips forming a grim line.  “Yeah, well, that didn’t work out so…no worries.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

She worked in silence breaking eggs into a bowl and putting strips of bacon into a skillet as Michael sat at the table and occasionally used the towel to swipe at his face.   On the stove, the bacon began to sizzle as the kettle whistled.  Maggie poured the boiling water into the press and let it stand for a moment as she chopped a small onion and part of a green pepper.

“Did you know Stan Hodges died?” Michael finally asked.

Maggie arched an eyebrow.  “I was at the funeral.  Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” he answered vaguely.  He watched her grate cheddar into the eggs.  Then she pressed the plunger on the coffee and poured some into a cornflower blue mug with a white script ‘M’ on the side.

M for Maggie. Or Michael.  He shook his head to dismiss the inane thought.  Looking around the small apartment, he asked, “Why are you still here?”

Maggie glanced over her shoulder.  “What, I should move uptown into one of your glass and steel monstrosities?”

“I was just thinking that you could afford a bigger place, that’s all.”

“This may be a tiny apartment but this building has soul.  Once upon a time, a family called this place home.  Maybe I can’t afford to own a whole townhouse but at least I can rent a small part of it.”

Michael watched her for a moment.  “You could have bought your own townhouse if you’d stayed with the firm.”

Maggie turned around and leaned against the counter, crossing her arms.  “If I’d stayed, I’d have been out of a job along with everyone else.  You really tanked everyone, you know that, right?”

He looked down at his hands.  “I wouldn’t have pursued the television thing if you’d still been there.”

She snorted, returning to her cutting board.  “Bullshit.  Being on the news every night is exactly your thing.  You can’t put that off on me.”

She set the coffee in front of him.  “What are you doing here, Michael?”

He stalled, sipping the steaming hazelnut blend.  “This isn’t where I meant to be.  I went out and ended up down here in the Village.  I was at the Blue Note until they kicked everybody out.  I got a little lost and then realized I was across the street from your apartment.”

Maggie turned back to her omelet, stirring in the vegetables.  The bacon had quieted down and she turned over the strips, causing them to erupt into loud sizzling once again.  “Why are you here?” she asked again.

“I’m sick,” he said quietly.

“I don’t doubt it.  It’s forty degrees outside and you’re soaked.  It’s a wonder you don’t have pneumonia.”

“It’s cancer.”

Maggie froze mid-stir.  “What?”  Slowly, she turned around.

“Cancer.”

“Shit.”  She crossed to the table and sank onto the chair across from him, gaping at him wide-eyed.

“There was this spot.  And then they found out it was melanoma.”  Michael’s face twisted.  “Mags, you wouldn’t believe the chunk they cut out of my shoulder.”

“Well, they got it then,” she said.  “Good.  That’s good, right?”

“Bacon’s burning,” Michael said quietly.

“Fuck!”  She jumped up and took the pan off the burner.

“I like it that way,” he offered as she set the strips of bacon on a paper towel to drain and poured the omelet into the pan.

“So after they took the hunk out of my arm they did a biopsy.  It was melanoma, just like the doctor said.  Then they had me get a PET scan.  Said they needed to see if it had spread.”

Maggie worked mechanically at the egg mixture in the pan, listening intently as he spoke.  “And?” she asked as she slid the omelet onto a blue ceramic plate.  She placed it in front of him and sat down again.

“And they called this afternoon to say they have the results.  The doctor wouldn’t discuss it over the phone.  He wants me to come in tomorrow.”  He looked down at the plate.  “He said I should have someone with me.”

“Oh my God.  Michael.”

He nodded.  “I started making phone calls.  That’s how I found out about Stan.  Which was after I called Murph and then Jimbo.  They pretty much told me to go fuck myself.”

Maggie watched him grimly.  I imagine they did. 

“I called some of the women I go out with.  I guess everybody has a lot going on.”  He sighed.  “I thought about calling you.  But, I don’t know.  I’ve been an asshole.  Plus I figured you were busy with getting married and stuff.”  He met her eyes.  “I didn’t mean to come here, honest to God.”

She watched him pick at the omelet.  “My agent’s pissed at me because I bailed on some appearances.  Asking her to come with me is out of the question.  She’s probably not in town anyway.”

Michael shook his head.  “I don’t know why they’re insisting that someone comes with me to that appointment tomorrow.  I should just go and find out what the scan shows, figure out where to go from there.  It’s just…”  His voice broke.  “Mags, I’m scared shitless.”  He put down the fork and held his head in his hands.

Maggie could never have imagined a scenario in which S. Michael Rannigan would break down sobbing at her kitchen table.  She felt as though her heart would break.

“Michael,” she said softly, standing beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder.  His body shook as he let loose the emotions that had been building since the day the nightmare had started.  “It’s okay,” she murmured.  “It’s okay, everything’s going to be alright.”  She waited for him to quiet down.  “What time is your appointment?”

Michael sat up, sniffing and using the towel to wipe his face.  “Shit.”  He coughed and took a sip of coffee.  “I have to be there at 1:30.”

Maggie looked over to where her files still sat scattered in the living room.  She knew they probably represented ten hours of work for the following day and she sighed heavily.  “Where is the doctor’s office?”

“It’s on E. 80th between 2nd and 3rd.”

She nodded.  “Okay.  I’ll tell Rance that I have to leave at lunch.  I’ll meet you there.”

“I can’t ask you to do that,” Michael said quickly, but he looked at her with such gratitude she felt the sting of tears in her eyes and a huge lump formed in her throat.

She coughed lightly.  “You didn’t ask, although you seem to have asked everyone else in your Contacts, and I’m going to try not to take that personally,” she said.  “I’m offering.  Take it or leave it.”

Michael smiled thinly.  “I’ve missed your smartass.  I’d be so glad to have you with me.”

Maggie nodded.  “Done.  But if for some reason I’m running late, you go on in.  I’ll be there.  I promise.”  She took his plate and warmed it in the microwave before placing it in front of him again.  “Now finish this up.  I’m calling you a cab and sending you on your way.”

RR2 review

RUNNING ROGUE is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/RunningRogue

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You can also find the entire trilogy in one complete boxed set.
books2read.com/RannigansRedemption

Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA

LUKE & BELLA KINDLE

LUKE & BELLA is the story of two professional television journalists who are thrown together to produce a new travel program.

Bella, an experienced reporter and news anchor, is thrilled at the prospect of the job of a lifetime–traveling the world and creating great television.

Luke’s more jaded.  World-weary, he’s coaxed out of premature retirement by the promise of complete creative control over the project.  Well, shared control with the host of the show, a redhead with “nice gams,” according to his old friend and executive producer, Charlie.

Traveling to exciting cities, staying in luxurious hotels, it’s no wonder they fall in love.  But it all happened so fast.  Luke realizes he hasn’t been completely honest with Bella.  He’s Dominant.  And he thinks she’d be the perfect submissive.  If he tells her now, he could lose her forever.  Or, he could risk everything on the chance that they could have it all.

LUKE & BELLA, the first book in the Dream Dominant Collection, holds a special place in my heart–it was the first book I ever published.  When I had a cover done for my latest book, FOR SPARROW, Dream Dominant Book 3, I decided LUKE & BELLA needed a brand new cover, too.  Both were designed by the fabulous and talented Linzi Basset, a brilliant erotic romance writer.

So I’m celebrating the new cover with this excerpt from LUKE & BELLA.

Luke ordered a light dinner of tapas delivered to the suite along with a bottle of local wine.  Bella wore a fluffy white bathrobe.  He’d put on faded jeans and a grey t-shirt.  She smiled lazily at him across the table, a woman sated.  He poured them both some wine and they nibbled on the baked feta and tomatoes, olives, and fresh fruits and breads.

Bella sighed and said, “I was thinking…”

“Uh-oh,” Luke laughed.

She gave him a wry smile.  “Seriously!  I was thinking about that really nice evening you planned for us in Edinburgh.”

“Yeah, you liked that, did you?” he asked, grinning.

“Um, yeah!  Wine, music, flowers, an amazing dinner, mind-blowing sex…what’s not to like?” she said.  “But, I was thinking that I should plan an evening.  You know, it’s my turn.”

“No, I don’t think that’s necessary,” he replied slowly.

“Not necessary?” she laughed.  “I’m not saying I feel obligated, just that I’d like to return the favor, so to speak.”

Luke waited a moment, considering his response.  The timing’s a little sooner than you planned, Cowboy, he thought.  Play it safe or risk losing her?  Decision made, he took the risk.  “The thing is, I’m not a fan of surprises.  I’m something of a…dominant…kind of guy.  I like making the plans,” he said evenly.

Bella looked at him, brow furrowed.  “You’re a ‘dominant kind of guy’?  As in, Dominant/submissive ‘dominant’?” she laughed lightly.

“Well, yes,” he said, looking at her directly.

Bella blinked.  “You’re kidding, right?” she asked incredulously.

Luke shook his head.  “No, not kidding.”

Her eyes went wide and her mouth hung open slightly.  “I don’t understand.  What does that mean that you do?”

He shrugged.  “Whatever makes me and my partner happy.  Blindfolds, restraints, spanking, safe words.  When we play a scene, she is mine, completely surrendered to me.  And I protect and care for her.”

When she didn’t reply, he continued, “It’s not a big deal.  I like to be in charge when it comes to romance, to sex.  I like to be the protector, to take care of my woman.  And,” he added softly, “if it doesn’t blow your mind too much, I think you are the perfect submissive.”

She shook her head slowly, eyes wide with disbelief.  “You are SO barking up the wrong tree.  I am anything but submissive.  I need to be in control.”

“I’ve noticed,” he said quietly.  “But you’re not good at it.  I said before that you try to control things by putting them into neat little categories, boxes.  When that doesn’t work, you shut down.  Imagine not having to control.  Not having to think or worry.  Just letting go and allowing someone else to be in control for a while.”

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Bella whispered.  “You have lost your mind!”

“I understand your reservations.  Between your father and your ex, you’ve never had a man in your life that you could completely trust,” he said gently.

Bella felt as though she’d been gut-punched.  His words rang in her ears and she knew they were true.

“I am that man, Bella.  Do you trust me?  You can completely let go.  It will be the most freeing experience of your life,” he stated with quiet confidence, looking at her steadily, hoping to reassure her.

She shook her head again.  “I’m falling in…” it came out as a sob, “and now I realize I don’t even know you!”

She abruptly left the table and went into the bedroom, emerging a few minutes later completely dressed in jeans and a white tank top.  On her face was the hard, closed expression he’d seen that night in Amsterdam.  “I’m going out for a while,” she told him firmly.

“Bella, I wish you wouldn’t go alone.  It could be dangerous,” he worried.

She waved him off and walked out the door, closing it behind her.

“Shit!” Luke exhaled deeply, and he ran his fingers through his hair, wondering if he’d made a mistake, if he’d lost her.

Luke & Bella new cover 1

Not only does LUKE & BELLA have a beautiful new cover, I redid the interior as well, using one of the new themes on Draft2Digital, so it has a fresh new look inside, too.  Be sure and check it out.  New paperbacks will be available soon…

You can get your copy at books2read.com/LukeAndBella.

Weekend Excerpt–RUNNING ROGUE

The past week was literally stellar for Rannigan’s Redemption.  The books in the series received FOUR 5-STAR REVIEWS over the last seven days.  I’m thrilled that the story is still resonating with readers.

Rannigan’s Redemption is a 3-novel erotic romance/law drama about high-profile Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan and his complicated relationship with smart red-haired Maggie Flynn, the recent law school grad he hires to join his elite firm.  One night of passion tears them apart.  Desperation will bring them back together.  Can Michael find redemption for all the ways he’s failed her?

rannigan2

This week’s excerpt is from the second book in the trilogy, RUNNING ROGUE.

Maggie strode purposefully across the lobby of Michael’s building.  It had been a shit week and knowing that she had to work all weekend to make up for what she’d missed, all she wanted to do was to check in on Michael, deliver his soup, and head home to a nice hot bath and a large glass of wine.  Ahead of her a man was just stepping into the elevator and she increased her pace, hoping to make it before the doors closed.  He turned and their eyes met just as the doors slid shut.

“Well, shit!” she muttered, juggling her purse, her brief case, and the bag from the deli.  Just then the doors slid back open.

“Sorry about that,” the man said, “I didn’t realize you were right behind me.”  He held open the door as she stepped in and turned around.  “What floor?”

Maggie glanced up at him.  He was tall with broad shoulders, muscular without being muscle-bound, with wavy brown hair and sparkling blue eyes framed by the longest lashes she’d ever seen on a man.  She’d noticed a bit of a drawl when he spoke.  Dressed in a t-shirt and sweatpants, he’d apparently been working out in the gym.  He stood beaming at her with a boyish grin on his face and he seemed to be waiting for her.  She realized she was staring.

Oh, shit!  What floor?  “Oh, sorry, um, twenty-one, please.”

He grinned again.  “Twenty-one.  That’s my floor, too.”  He held out a hand.  “I’ve only been here a couple of months.  We haven’t met yet.  I’m Bobby.”

Maggie shifted the deli bag and grasped his hand.  “Um, I’m Maggie.  I don’t actually live here.  I’m visiting a friend.”  She paused.  “Do you know Michael in 2101?”

Bobby’s eyes widened and he took a step back.  “Oh.  You’re one of Michael’s girls.”

Maggie frowned.  “No.  I am absolutely not one of Michael’s girls.  Nope.  Not me.  No way.”  She shook her head emphatically.

Bobby grinned wryly.  “So you’re not one of Michael’s girls.”

She felt her face flush.  “I’ve known Michael for a long time.  We used to work together.  He’s a little…under the weather, and I told him I’d stop by, bring him some soup.”  She held up the deli bag for emphasis.

He flashed the boyish grin, blue eyes sparkling with amusement.  Maggie felt her pulse race and a warm flush crept up her neck.  What the hell?

“So you’re a lawyer.”

She nodded.  “Yep.  Sorry.”

“Why sorry?”

“Everybody hates lawyers,” she replied as the elevator doors opened on the twenty-first floor.  She stepped out into the hallway and immediately went down hard on her left knee.

“Motherfucker!” she cried out.

Bobby was beside her instantly.  “Are you alright?  What happened?”

Maggie looked around.  “My shoe.”  The heel of her right shoe was caught in the space between the elevator and the hallway.  It had snapped off as she stepped forward.  Bobby grabbed it before the doors closed, then gently took her arm and helped her up.

“Did you hurt yourself?” he asked, concerned.

“I’m alright, really,” she replied shakily.  Blood was dripping from her knee and running in rivulets all the way down her shin.

“You banged up your knee.”

“But I saved the soup, so there’s that,” she quipped.

He placed a hand on the small of her back and walked her down the hall, stopping at a door.  “This is me,” he said.  “Come in and let me at least bandage you up.”  Maggie regarded him warily.

“I’m not an axe murderer, I promise,” he laughed.

She frowned.  “Isn’t that exactly what an axe murderer would say?” she said as he unlocked the door.

“Tell you what–we’ll leave the door open.  You can sit right here.”  He pointed to a bench in the foyer.  “If I make any sudden moves you can run for it,” he chuckled.

Sheepishly, Maggie sank onto the bench.  Truthfully, her knee hurt.  She set down her things and glanced up at him.  “Thanks,” she said quietly.

Bobby smiled and gestured to his right.  “I’ll just…go get my axe.”

She could hear him in another room rummaging around through something.  She removed her broken shoe and held up the dismembered heel.  It had come clean off the sole.  An image flashed through her mind of the shoe repair shop just around the corner from her apartment.

“I can fix that for you.”  Startled, she looked up.  Bobby had returned with first aid supplies.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” she said quickly.  “There’s a shop near my place.”

He poured alcohol on some gauze and knelt beside her.  “It won’t take me two seconds,” he murmured, dabbing at her knee.

Maggie breathed in sharply.  “Ouch!  Ow ow ow!” she protested softly.

Bobby looked up at her.  “Sorry, cher,” he said, “we’ve got to get it cleaned out.”  Gently he grasped the back of her calf and raised her leg, wiping away the streaks of blood.

Maggie stared at him, scarcely breathing.  There was something electric about his touch, so strong yet so tender.

He finished cleaning her shin and returned to her knee, carefully placing a large bandage over the scrape.  “There you are, good as new.  Well, almost,” he smiled.

He took the shoe and heel from her.  “I really can fix this for you.  I’d just have to find my tools,” he nodded his head toward the other room.  “I should really unpack anyway,” he smiled ruefully.

Maggie rose from the bench and stood lopsided on one heel.  “I don’t want to be more trouble than I’ve already been.”

            Something tells me that you’re all kinds of trouble, cher.  “It’s no trouble.  Besides, I’d be worried about you limping along like Quasimodo on your way home,” he laughed.

She laughed, too.  “Well, alright then.  Thank you.  And thanks for…”  She glanced down at her knee.

“It’s my pleasure, cher,” he said quietly.

Maggie felt as though suddenly all the air had gone out of the room.  She stared up into his amazing blue eyes.  She opened her mouth but no words came out.

He spoke.  “Just stop by when you’re finished at Michael’s.  If I have to leave before that, I’ll bring you your shoe.”

RR2 review

RUNNING ROGUE is available at this link:
books2read.com/RunningRogue

Review: Quick and Dirty: Volume Two: Milestones by Patient Lee

I just finished a great book by one of my heroes, erotic realism author Patient Lee.  I always love her books, and was excited to read her second Quick and Dirty anthology. The book includes six great stories that range from sweet and nostalgic to downright dark.  I took my time reading the book, savoring each story in its own right.

Here’s my 5-STAR Amazon review.

Quick and Dirty: Volume Two: Milestones is an anthology of six shorts by erotic realism author Patient Lee. I’m a HUGE Patient Lee fan, and couldn’t wait to read this book. I had no idea what to expect from these stories, other than the usual spot-on human drama and steamy love scenes that are Patient Lee’s signatures. I was not disappointed.

I cheered for the Birthday Girl and for the would-be fiancee in The Side Effect. I felt a sense of the familiar in Wallpaper, and watched it all go wrong in Purple Glitter. Suffocating is dark and twisted, and I appreciated Lee’s preface to the story–it made sense after that. But I lost my heart to Sharing Her Heart–it’s a teaser to Mrs. Maitland’s SAD Valentine, the next Patient Lee book I absolutely have to read.

Love sexy little stories with a different vibe? You will love this book! 5 HUGE STARS!!

Hurry and use this link to get your copy!  You’re going to love it.

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.