Weekend Excerpt–A Different Kind of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click HERE to indulge in Rannigan’s Redemption.

Weekend Excerpt–Christmas With the Orphans and Misfits

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling in the holiday spirit!  The decorations are up, the music is playing, I’ve squirreled away gifts for those I love.  So I’m in the mood for a Christmas scene.

This one is from RESISTING RISK, the first book in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy.  Fledgling attorney Maggie Flynn is alone in the world.  Her mother abandoned her and her father when she was a toddler.  And her father during her college years.

So every year, Maggie hosts her annual Orphans and Misfits Christmas for her friends who, like her, have nowhere to go.  One particular Christmas, she has a surprise guest.

“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 canceled.  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 front of everybody.”  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.”

The newly re-edited RESISTING RISK is available
at your favorite online bookseller,
in both eBook and paperback formats.
books2read.com/ResistingRisk

Weekend Excerpt–It’s the Holiday Season!

Happy December!
I’m in the mood for holiday stories, so this teaser is from WARRIOR MINE, Dream Dominant Book 4.

When Blake and Amy returned to Lake Miranda the week before Christmas, snow blanketed the compound.  After the lake froze solid, and Scott’s students either hiked to the island or were shuttled by snowmobile.

His last session before the holidays ended just before Blake and Amy came home, but the lodge had guests scheduled throughout Christmas and New Year’s.  Trina and the restaurant staff came up with a festive holiday menu, and Walker’s on the Lake was completely booked for both holidays.

When Jackie called her parents to ask about their holiday plans, she was surprised to find out that the elder Walkers had reservations for a Christmas cruise to the Caribbean.  “Your father just couldn’t stand the thought of all that snow,” Ann laughed.  “You all have a wonderful holiday!”

Blake and Amy agreed to spend Christmas at Jackie and Scott’s house, the better to enjoy the kids’ excitement on Christmas morning.  The day after they returned, Scott and Blake took Grant and Emma snowmobiling in the forest to find a proper Christmas tree to set up in the window of Scott and Jackie’s family room.

On Christmas Eve, after the kids had gone to bed, the adults gathered around the enormous festively-decorated white spruce.  Light Christmas jazz played in the background, and outside the floor to ceiling windows, snow swirled lazily in the half moonlight.

Jackie handed Amy a mug of warm mulled cider and settled beside her on a leather sofa with a mug of her own.  On the floor, Scott and Blake sat amid the scattered pieces of a pink Barbie house ‘Santa’ had found on sale months earlier and had put away until now.

Winking at Amy, Jackie suppressed a smile.  “Did you guys read the instructions?”

“We don’t need the damn instructions,” Blake huffed, pushing a stray lock of dark hair out of his eyes.  “We’re two intelligent, grown men.  We can figure out how to put together a dollhouse.”

The women clinked their mugs and giggled gleefully.

Amy looked from Blake and Scott to the twinkling Christmas tree, and to Jackie.  “I love this.”  Her voice was soft, and though she smiled, a tear was in her eye.  “This is the Christmas I always wanted.”

Jackie’s heart melted, and she reached for Amy’s hand.  “I’m so happy you’re here.”

Blake pushed up from the floor and pressed a tender kiss to Amy’s temple.  “This is our life, kitten.  This is our family, your family.  You belong here.”

Jackie smiled across the room at Scott, who winked at her, and she felt a familiar tummy flutter.  She loved the man more than she’d thought humanly possible.  And when summer came, she’d marry him.

After Blake and Amy retired to the guest room, Scott and Jackie went to bed, quietly making love, then holding each other until late into the night.

They awoke to a bright sunny day, the sky crystal cerulean, the sun reflecting brilliantly off the sparkling snow.  Emma and Grant squealed excitedly as they saw the mountain of gifts under the tree.  Scott sat at the end of the sofa and Jackie snuggled up beside him, each of them sipping steaming mugs of coffee.  Blake and Amy sat opposite them on the sofa’s twin, smiling as they watched the children tearing into their gifts.

Once they were finished, the kids had fun delivering gifts to the adults.  Finally, all the gifts were opened.  Blake and Amy gave each other a conspiratorial look.  “We have a few more gifts,” Amy said.

“More?” Jackie echoed, thinking of the extravagant handbag for her, and the top of the line boots for Scott.  “You’ve done so much already, seriously.”

Blake reached behind the sofa and picked up four identical shirt boxes wrapped in metallic red paper.  He glanced at the tags and handed one to each of the children and to Jackie and Scott.

Amy leaned forward excitedly.  “You have to open them all together.  Ready?  One, two, three!”

With a bemused glance at Scott, Jackie carefully opened her box.  Grant and Emma ripped theirs open.  “It’s a shirt,” Emma said, holding up a pink t-shirt.

Grant peered into the box.  “Thanks, Aunt Amy,” he said, making an effort to sound enthused about a shirt.  “It sure is…pink.”

Scott tilted his head as he looked at his, then elbowed Jackie lightly.  She looked at his, then gaped at hers.  In sparkling letters across pink cotton, she read, World’s Greatest Aunt.

Jackie gasped.  “I knew it!  I knew you were pregnant!  I’m so excited for you!” she squealed, rushing over to give Amy and Blake a big hug.

“We didn’t want to tell anyone until we knew everything was going to be okay,” Amy explained.

“Cool,” Grant said, pulling his new shirt over his head, “we’re going to be cousins!”

“Aunt Amy, are you having a boy baby or a girl baby?” Emma asked.

Blake grinned.  “It’s a little girl.  That’s why we gave you pink shirts.”

“Congratulations, man!”  Scott grinned as Blake stood and the two embraced.  “That’s great news.”

“I can’t believe it.”  He shook his head.  “I’m going to be a dad.”

Jackie sank onto the sofa beside Amy.  “A little girl,” she shook her head smiling.  “That’s fantastic.”

Amy nodded, eyes shining.  “Do you want to see the ultrasound pictures?”

“I’ll get them,” Blake said, heading in the direction of the guest room.

Grant and Emma returned to their new toys.  Scott perched on the arm of the sofa next to Jackie.  “I’m so happy for you two,” he told Amy.  She laughed happily.

From the direction of the guest room, they heard a tiny yip.  Jackie frowned.  “What was that?”

Eyes wide, Amy gave an exaggerated shrug.  “I have no idea.”

“Uh oh,” Blake called from the guest room.  “I think I found another present.”

Jackie looked up to see a shaggy black puppy with a huge red bow come running into the room.  He ran straight to the kids, yipping excitedly.

“A puppy,” Emma squealed.

Grant squinted at the tag on the big red bow and gasped.  “Mom!  It’s for us, from Santa!”

Blake leaned against the doorway looking pleased with himself.

“From Santa, huh?”

“I think Grandma and Grandpa might have mentioned it to the big guy,” Blake grinned.

Oh, for f—” Jackie glanced up at Scott.  “Did you know about this?”

He raised his hands in surrender.  “I promise, I knew nothing about a puppy.”

“They love Bear so much, they need one of their own,” Amy said, smiling.

“So, what are you going to name him?” Blake asked.

Brow furrowed, Grant watched the Newfie puppy for a moment.  “Max.  He looks like a Max to me.”

Ruffling the puppy’s ears, Emma nodded enthusiastically.  “Yeah.  Max.”

Jackie shook her head.  “He’s cute, I’ll give you that.  But I still want to see those ultrasound pictures of my niece.”

One-click WARRIOR MINE at Amazon.

 

Weekend Excerpt–LOST & BOUND

LOST & BOUND is the second book in the Dream Dominant Collection, a series of stand-alone erotic romance novels featuring hot Alphas, sassy redheads, and light BDSM themes.

Here’s the official blurb:

Blake Walker is no stranger to tragedy. Immediately following a horrific event years earlier, he was lost for a while until he embraced his Dominant nature and found his true calling. But things change and now he’s back where he started, helping to run his family’s secluded lake lodge.

When pampered Hollywood starlet Shasta Pyke gets into trouble with the law, she’s sent to the wilderness of northern Ontario to cool her heels for a few weeks. There she meets sexy bush pilot Blake, who is tasked with seeing to her needs as the sole guest at the lodge.

Initially, Blake isn’t impressed with the spoiled actress, but he’s happy that her visit allows for his sister Jackie and her kids to go on a much-needed vacation. Try as he might, he can’t figure out what the hell Shasta Pyke is doing so far out of her element. 

Shasta’s attracted to Blake’s obvious good looks, but there’s more to him than that. He sees through her armor to the vulnerable little girl she hides from the world. The Daddy Dominant in him craves to shelter her, to make her his own.

Is there any way Shasta will agree to submit to Blake’s Dominance?

How about a little teaser from LOST & BOUND?

Blake went outside, needing space, needing to breathe.  She followed along behind him.  “What do we need to do now?”

“Are you hungry?”

She frowned slightly.  “I guess I am.  I hadn’t thought about it until now.”

“How about I catch us some fish for lunch?”

Her expression was doubtful.  “Just like that, you can catch some fish?”

“Just like that.”  He winked at her and headed for the plane to get his rig.

While Blake took his fishing rod a few yards down the shore, Shasta sat tailor-style on the dock and watched him.  He flicked his wrist and she heard a whirring sound as his line flew out over the lake and plopped into the water.  Then he slowly reeled in his line, the lure bobbing along the top of the water as it moved closer to him.

His open tackle box sat beside her on the dock and she began to look through all the items it held.  There were lures of all sizes, shapes, and colors.  In the bottom was a clear plastic box full of lead balls of various sizes.  And one small compartment held a pink rubber worm that sparkled in the sunlight.

Curious, Shasta picked up the pink worm and grinned as she squeezed it.  From the shoreline Blake called to her.

“Hey!  Are you touching my tackle?”

She looked up at him, surprised.  While the aviators hid his eyes, there was no mistaking the smug curve of his lips.  She matched it with a sassy smirk of her own.  “Do you want me to touch your tackle?”  Her giggle echoed across the water, and he grinned broadly.

“Here we go,” he murmured, reeling halfway through his third cast.  He jerked up on the line and reeled faster.

Shasta jumped up.  “Did you get one?”

“Yup.  He’s not a huge one; we’ll need at least one more.”  He reeled the fish closer to the shallow water and scooped it up with a blue net before depositing it into a large bucket filled with water.

Shasta ran over to look.  The fish in the bucket was pond-scum green, mottled with streaks of brown.  “Ooh, he’s kind of ugly.”

“Ugly?  That’s a smallmouth bass right there.  He’s good eating.”  She eyed him skeptically.  “Would you like to try?”

“Really?” she grinned, wide-eyed.

“Really.  Go pick out something from the tackle box and I’ll put it on a line for you.”  While Shasta returned to the tackle box, Blake retrieved another fishing rod from the plane.

“I don’t know what to pick.  What if I pick the wrong thing?”

Guilt gnawed at his gut as he remembered the way he’d criticized her earlier in the day.  “You can’t get it wrong.  Pick anything you like.”

She grinned up at him, and he felt his heart melt.  “I like the sparkly ones.  I think I want the pink worm.  He’s nice and squishy, plus, he sparkles.”

Blake nodded.  “The pink worm it is.”  Quickly he attached it to her line and handed her the rod.  “Now, all you do is…”  He stood behind her, reaching around to help her hold it properly.  “Just bring it back and flick it forward, holding your thumb on this button on the reel.”

Shasta watched as the pink worm sailed out over the water.  “Now just slowly reel it back in.”

She did as he said.  Blake stepped back to watch as she concentrated, absently chewing on her bottom lip as she turned the reel.  When the worm lifted out of the water, she turned to him, frowning.  “I didn’t catch anything.”

“Just keep doing it,” he chuckled.  “It takes time.”  He returned to his place on the bank and cast out his own line again.

On her fifth cast, Shasta felt a tug on her line.  “Ooh, I think I have something.”

Blake dropped his rod and hurried back to her.  “Good.  You’re doing fine, just reel him in.”  She gripped the rod like her life depended on it, reeling as quickly as she could, her rod bending dangerously toward the water.  “You’ve got it, bring him a little closer and I’ll get him in the net.”

As soon as the fish was within reach, Blake used the net to scoop up their second smallmouth bass.  He took it off the hook and placed it in the bucket with the other one.  Shasta peered into the bucket before grinning cheekily at Blake.  “My fish is bigger than yours.”

He laughed out loud.  “Yes, yours is bigger.”

She nodded proudly.  “Yep, me and the sparkly pink worm, we rocked this.”  She circled her fists around in front of her, performing an impromptu “cabbage patch.”

“Do you want to clean yours by yourself?”

Shasta immediately frowned.  “No.”

“Well, don’t go getting too big for your britches, then.”  Blake carried the bucket to a board wedged waist-high between two birch trees.  “How about I build a campfire and clean the fish?  You can go get the skillet and some plates?”  He nodded toward the cabin.

When she returned from the cabin carrying a large cast-iron skillet stacked with a pair of white-dotted blue enamelware plates and a variety of utensils, a fire was roaring in the stone ring and Blake was filleting the first fish.  Shasta placed everything on a stump near where he was working and sank onto a log close to the fire.

Neither of them spoke.  Somewhere further down the lake, a loon called and they heard it echo across the water.  Blake’s attention was on the fish but out of the corner of his eye, he watched her assessing him.

“Have you always been a mountain man?”  Her expression was earnest.

Blake’s head dropped back as he laughed out loud.  “A mountain man?  Is that what I am?”

Shasta smiled sheepishly.  “Aren’t you?”

“Well, I grew up at the lodge.  My grandparents built the place.  My grandmother was Miranda.  The lake is named for her.  But I haven’t always lived here.  I went away to college.  After graduation, I worked for a while as a wilderness counselor.  I was in the woods a lot, but I was based in Toronto.”

“A wilderness counselor,” she repeated thoughtfully.

“Yeah, you know, we worked with troubled city kids, took them out and taught them survival skills and self-reliance, that kind of thing.”

“You worked with bad kids?” she wondered.

He shook his head.  “They weren’t bad, really.  Just…lost.  They needed help to find their way.”

“Why did you stop?”

Blake shrugged.  “My folks ran the lodge for years until my dad’s stroke.  They retired to Florida.  My sister and her husband started running the place full-time.  When that asshole bugged out, I came to help her.”

Shasta watched him appraisingly.  “That was really nice of you.”

“She’s my sister.  I’d do anything for someone I love.”  He placed a grate over the fire and set the skillet on top.  “Besides, I’m happy to be home.  I drive past my old school every time I go into town.  There are a lot of great memories.  I don’t really miss the city.”  He sat opposite Shasta on another log.

She laughed lightly.  “It must be odd to come back to live where you grew up.  I imagine you were the big football hero around here.”

He shook his head.  “Football is for sissies.  We played hockey.”

“Oh, excuse me, hockey,” she laughed.

“That’s right.  Hockey.  A man’s sport.”  He reached into his mouth, and to her surprise, removed his right front tooth and the one beside it.  “Where I come from, if you have all your teeth, you weren’t really trying.”  He laughed at her shocked expression as he refit the teeth into his mouth.

Shasta grinned smugly.  “I’ve got you beat, mountain man.”  She stood and leaned toward him, parting her lips and baring her perfectly straight, whiter-than-white teeth.  She ran her forefinger across them.  “All of these are fake.  I had them all capped.  Can’t have uneven or discolored teeth in Hollywood.  Nope.”

She sighed as she sat back down.  “Nothing about me is real,” she murmured.  He eyed her curiously.  She gave him a sidelong glance, then ran a finger down her nose.  “Nose job.”  She waved a handful of hair.  “Extensions.”  She grabbed her tits.  “Boob job.”  She looked down at the dirt.  “Even my name is fake.”

Blake had been watching her with interest.  “Your name isn’t Shasta?”

She snorted.  “Who would name their kid Shasta?  Eddie gave me that name when I was five.  He told my parents that nobody would hire Amy Malone.  I needed a name with pizzazz.”  She waggled jazz hands.  “I think he has a list of names in a drawer someplace and you just get the next one on the list.”

“So your name is Amy.”

Shasta nodded.  “But nobody’s called me that since my grandpa died.  He thought all the acting stuff was stupid.  He kept telling my parents to let me just be a kid.”  She laughed.  “He refused to call me Shasta.  My grandpa was a pretty stubborn guy.”

His expression was soft.  “Why would you get a nose job?  Or breast implants?”

She shrugged and pulled her sunglasses down over her eyes.  “Eddie said the boobs would help me transition between being a child actor and an adult.”

Blake could feel his protective nature surging.  “Eddie’s that guy who brought you here?  He made you get a boob job?”

“He didn’t make me.  But I knew he’d be disappointed if I didn’t.”  She used her toe to push a patch of pine needles back and forth.

The fish was done, and Blake was glad for the distraction.  He plated the fillets, handing one to her and taking the other for himself.

“Oh, my god, this is amazing,” she moaned through her first bite.

He grinned.  “Nothing like fresh bass, right out of the lake.  Unless it’s fresh trout, right out of the lake.  That’s pretty good, too.”

They enjoyed their lunch without conversation, appreciating the quiet of the wilderness.  The silence was broken only by the crackling of the fire or the occasional call of a loon.  Once again, Shasta felt a sense of peace settle over her.

Blake took her plate when she was finished.  “Now, we’ll see about washing up these few things and then we’ll blow this pop stand.”

One-click LOST & BOUND here.

And while all Dream Dominant novels are stand-alone, WARRIOR MINE, Book 4, is actually a spin-off from LOST & BOUND.

Why not read about Blake’s sister Jackie, and his best friend, Scott Nielsen?

One-click WARRIOR MINE here.

Black Friday/Small Business Saturday SALE!

Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope your holiday was fabulous.

Now we’re ready for shopping season.  Black Friday deals are already underway, and Saturday is Small Business Saturday.

Did you realize that an Indie author is a small business?  Buying an Indie book is the literary equivalent of shopping local.

Before the holiday season gets out of hand with all the craziness, I have a great deal for you.  Why not treat yourself to the entire Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy for just 99¢?

The deal is only on Amazon, and it’s only good Friday, Nov. 23 and Saturday, Nov. 24.  After that, it returns to regular price.

Just click HERE to get your copy!

Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA

It was the job of a lifetime.

Have you ever stopped to think about your idea of the perfect job?

For Luke McGillicutty and Bella Grant, they know they’ve landed the best gig possible.  They’ve been tasked with touring the world in search of excitement and adventure as they create a new television travel show.

Traveling to exciting destinations, staying in luxurious hotels, is it any wonder they fell in love?

But Luke hasn’t been completely honest with Bella.  It all happened so fast.  If he tells her now, he could lose her forever.

Can he risk everything on the chance they could have it all?

Here’s a snippet from LUKE & BELLA, Dream Dominant Book 1.

Luke arrived at the airport slightly hung over.  Should have known better than to go out drinking with Charlie, he thought.  The two men had barhopped for a while, finally landing at Luke’s favorite Manhattan pub, Paddy Reilly’s on the lower east side.  They’d been in luck and caught the Prodigals’ set at eleven.

Charlie had been in chat mode all evening.  “So tell me about the dame you were with when I called you that day,” he probed.

Luke rolled his eyes.  “Just some chick from a bar.  I don’t know.  What do you want me to say?”

“What you need is to find a nice girl, settle down,” Charlie slurred.  “Bella is a nice girl.”

“Bella?” Luke asked.

“Aw, dammit, I didn’t mean for you to know her name before you met her,” Charlie shook his head.  “Bourbon loosens my lips.”  He blew a raspberry for emphasis.

Luke had felt a flash of irritation at the notion of settling down.  “I’ve been married, and you saw how that turned out.”

“You married a girl named Tiffany.  That’s a stripper’s name.  You shoulda known that would go down in flames,” Charlie reasoned with boozy confidence.

“How about this?  How about you find a nice girl and settle down.  Elizabeth’s been gone for, what, five years?”  Luke regretted the words as soon as they left his lips.  Charlie’s wife Elizabeth had been the nicest person, bar none, Luke had ever met.  He still donated to breast cancer charities in her memory.

“Nope,” Charlie shook his head.  “Elizabeth was the love of my life.  There will never be anyone else for me.  That’s what you need, my boy,” Charlie stabbed a bony finger into Luke’s chest.  “You need to find the love of your life.”

Some night, last night.  As soon as Luke entered the airport lounge, he ordered a Scotch.  Hair of the dog and all that.

Now he was sitting here waiting for some travel show host chick.  To go, he knew not where.  They were supposed to meet in the first-class lounge and await Charlie’s call.

What the fuck?!  Why all the bullshit cloak and dagger business?  Luke checked his watch.  It wasn’t too late to hop a plane back to Tampa.  He could be wasted away and looking for his lost shaker of salt by happy hour.

Women are always late, he fumed.  Why did I agree to this?  Dragging some whiny-ass princess around the world for three months?  He imagined a prissy female voice complaining, “I broke a nail!  Where can I plug in my blow dryer?  I’m not eating that!”

I must have lost my mind…

The door to the lounge opened and in walked a stunning redhead.  The sunlight streaming into the room from the high windows across the way just caught her from behind, lighting up her auburn curls as if they were on fire.  He watched her glance around the room, soft brown eyes searching for someone.  She walked past without looking his way, then stopped, unsure.

“Bella?” he asked, before he could stop himself.  She turned, surprised, then she smiled, reaching to shake his hand.

“Hello!  Bella.  Isabella. Um, just Bella. Grant.  And you are?”

Love your romance with a sexy side of BDSM?
One-click your copy of LUKE & BELLA today!

Weekend Excerpt–RESISTING RISK, Rannigan’s Redemption Book 1

Sometimes you meet someone who changes your life forever.
In ways you could never imagine.

 

Hot-shot Manhattan attorney Michael Rannigan has his life arranged just the way he likes it, thank you very much.

A founding partner of the law firm of Murphy, Rannigan, and Metheny, his high-profile criminal defense practice runs like a well-oiled machine.  He has competent associates who do all the leg work, leaving Michael to do what he does best–charm juries and leave a sound bite on the evening news.

His personal life is no less organized.  He has a contact list of surgically-enhanced bottle blondes at his beck and call, whether he needs a date for a charity function…or he just wants to get laid.

Hiring red-haired Maggie Flynn to join his elite firm changes his life in ways he could never see coming.  She’s far from his usual type.  She’s way too smart, for one thing.  But there’s something about Mary Margaret Flynn that he can’t quite shake.

Maggie is attracted to Michael from the beginning.  Beneath his cavalier exterior, she’s seen the man he could be.  She knows her crush is all but hopeless.  For the time being she’s content just to work with him.

What would happen if they ever crossed that line?

Read an excerpt from RESISTING RISK:

They sat chatting about the fireworks and the music, leaving out their time on the dance floor.  Maggie wasn’t sure how she felt about it.  Being in Michael’s arms had been glorious.  Wearing his coat, surrounded by his seductive scent, the memory of his voice in her ear…  She furtively glanced at him, desire causing her pulse to pound.   She knew that she wanted him.  She also knew that she was a little tipsy and that she might not be making the best decisions.

“What is your cologne?” she blurted out.  Case in point of reckless decisions, she thought.

He grinned in amusement.  “It’s Bleu de Chanel.”

“It’s heavenly,” she said before she could stop herself.  “It’s just that, well, your jacket smells like you, which is good, really.  I mean it’s very nice.”

“You’re drunk, Mags,” he observed quietly.

She made a valiant attempt to look at him squarely.  “Maybe just a tiny little bit.”

Michael checked his phone.  “The car’s out front.  Are we ready?”  Between the two of them, they managed to get Ben to his feet and across the expanse of lawn to the driveway where a medium sized stretch limousine waited, driver holding open the back door for them.

Wide-eyed, Maggie looked around Ben to Michael.  For his part, Michael looked a little embarrassed.  “Jana likes to ride in a limo,” he shrugged.

Ben had fallen asleep again and together they maneuvered him into the car, laying him gently onto the black leather couch that ran down the driver’s side of the passenger compartment before they settled back into the plush leather seat at the rear of the car.

“Traffic is heavier than usual, Mr. Rannigan,” the driver told him.  “The drive may take a couple of hours.”

“Thank you, Mason.  And thanks for taking care of Ms. Hansen.”

“Of course, Mr. Rannigan.  Happy to help,” the man replied before closing the door.

Michael turned to Maggie as the car began moving away from the house.  “Hope you don’t mind a bit of a drive.  I hadn’t counted on traffic.”

“Please!” Maggie said.  “This beats the hell out of public transportation.  And traffic or no, we’ll still get back before we would have on the train.  Thank you for the ride.”

He smiled.  “My pleasure,” he said.  And meant it, he was mildly surprised to realize.  Impeccable manners had been instilled in him by the aunt with whom he’d lived after his mother had died.  At the time, he’d resented it, but they had served him well.  On the other hand, he often found himself mouthing words he didn’t mean.  Not this time, he thought to himself.

“Can I offer you a drink?” he asked, motioning to the bar that was opposite the couch on which Ben lay snoring.  Loudly.  “There’s bourbon and pink champagne.”  Maggie frowned quizzically.  “Pink champagne is Jana’s favorite,” he elaborated somewhat apologetically.

“I’ll take bourbon if it’s all the same to you,” Maggie responded, trying not to smirk and hoping that she was successful.  Michael turned over two glasses and began to carefully pour bourbon from a crystal decanter.

“Boy, renting a stretch limo, stocking it with pink champagne,” she muttered to herself.  “She must be some kind of lay.”  Michael glanced at her, shock registering on his face.  “Shit, was that out loud?” she asked.

“It was,” he answered, handing her a glass of bourbon as he settled back into the seat.  “And truthfully, she’s not all that.”

It was Maggie’s turn to look shocked.  Michael gave her a wry smile and clinked his glass to hers.  “To nights that turn out differently from the way you expected.”

They sipped their bourbon wordlessly, occupied with their own thoughts for a few miles.

“I know it’s none of my business,” Maggie began.

“Those words are always followed by a ‘but’,” Michael interjected, shaking his head.

“BUT,” Maggie continued, “I don’t know how you do that.”

“Do what?”

“How do you sleep with someone that you don’t even like?  I could tell from the moment we sat at the table that you didn’t like that girl.”

“Okay, I don’t want to have in-depth conversations with Jana, but did you see her?  Like I said before, it was just the wrong event for her.  She’s great at Nets games, music awards, things like that.”

“I just couldn’t sleep with someone that I wasn’t attracted to intellectually, that’s all I’m saying.”

“Is that what’s wrong with Dan?” he probed, happy to be talking about someone besides Jana.

“He’s a nice guy.  He’s smart and articulate, and not bad looking,” Maggie conceded.  “I just don’t feel that…spark, that’s all.  If I went out with him it wouldn’t be genuine.”

“You’re picky,” Michael concluded, shaking his head.

“I deserve to be,” she said quietly.  “You do too.”

They passed another few miles in silence.

“You know,” Maggie said, “I hear Disney’s coming out with a new princess movie soon.  And you could take her out for ice cream after.”  She gave Michael a mischievous look.

Michael gave a reluctant grin and his eyes sparkled in the lights of passing cars.  “You, Mary Margaret Flynn, are a smart ass.  It’s kind of endearing.”

She grinned at him.  “You’re welcome!” she teased.

He poured them both more bourbon.  “In a pain-in-the-ass sort of way.”  They both laughed.

***

“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 Michael’s 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 apartment.  “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 before returning to the driver’s seat and slowly driving 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 velvet 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 a beer or coffee or something?  Or do you need to go?”

“Coffee sounds good,” he answered.

Maggie smiled brightly as she 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 bay 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 slowly crossed the room 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 deep brown eyes peering into hers.  Her brow furrowed, perplexed.

Gently, 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.”  Tenderly, he kissed her once again and walked out the door.

Michael and Maggie’s story, Rannigan’s Redemption,
is a three-novel erotic romance law drama.
Start with RESISTING RISK: books2read.com/ResistingRisk
Follow up with RUNNING ROGUE and
RANSOMING REDEMPTION.