Weekend Excerpt–Great News for CHASING ORDINARY!

There was great news this week for my modern-day adult fairy tale.
CHASING ORDINARY was named the 2018 New Apple Summer eBook Awards Medalist in Literary Erotica.

The news is so brand-new, I don’t even have the medallion for the front of the book yet.  But I’m beyond thrilled that my handsome European prince and his sassy ginger sculptor are being honored.

Here’s CHASING ORDINARY, in a nutshell.

Sculptor Petey Cavanaugh has no idea that the handsome businessman she’s falling for
is actually Europe’s most eligible prince.
She’s Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary, and everything he ever wanted.
If he doesn’t blow it.

 

How about a little teaser?
And don’t miss the official book trailer at the bottom.  😉

Nik peered grimly out the window at the passing grey tableau as the Mercedes made its way uptown toward the exclusive Empire Club.  Dalton Rigby’s great-great grandfather had been a founding member, as the man had been careful to point out every time Nik had ever met him.

At least the food will be good, he consoled himself.  Mentally, he went over his talking points as the city passed by in a gloomy blur.

A flash of color on the sidewalk caught his focus.  Ahead, a woman in a bright red dress was attempting to hail a cab in the pouring rain.  As his car pulled alongside her, he watched in slow motion as a spray of water completely doused her.

“Stop the car!” he shouted.

The driver eyed him in the rearview mirror.

“Stop the car,” he repeated.

“But sir,” Jorgen protested from his seat beside Nik.

Shrugging, the driver stopped, causing the car behind them to slam on its brakes and honk loudly.

Nik was already halfway out of the car.  “Go around the block,” he called over his shoulder as he stepped out into the rain, slamming the door behind him.

The woman was still standing where she’d been when the Mercedes’ front wheel had torn through a deep puddle, spraying her with filthy runoff.  Nik made his way to her, ignoring the rain that pelted him as he walked.

“I’m terribly sorry.  Are you alright?”

She stood shaking from cold, red hair matted to her head, black streams of mascara running down her face like cracks in fine china.  “I’m s-s-s-soaked!” she shrieked.

“Again, I’m so sorry.”  Nik’s expression was contrite.  He shrugged out of his suit jacket and wrapped it around her.  She was tiny, and the jacket nearly swallowed her whole.  He glanced around.  “Is your apartment near here?”

She shook her head.  “I’m locked out.  And I’m unbelievably late.  I can’t go like this.  And I can’t get back into the fucking apartment!  Fuck!”

“My car is coming back around the block.  I’ll give you a ride to wherever you need to—“

At that moment, a boxy delivery truck hit the same puddle, spraying them both.  They gasped in unison.  Momentarily blinded by the wall of water, Nik sputtered and swiped at his face.  “Bloody hell!”

He looked down at the woman whose eyes were impossibly wide with surprise.  “Here comes my car now.  Come with me.  I’m staying at the Plaza.  We’ll call ahead and have the stylist meet us.  Once we’re both cleaned up, I’ll take you where you need to go.”

She looked up at him in alarm.  “I’m not going to your hotel with you!”

“No, I don’t mean…  I realize how inappropriate it sounds, but I promise, I only mean to help.”  He held up his hands in surrender.  “Clearly you can’t stay here.  And you can’t go to wherever it is you were going, not like this.”

He aimed for a reassuring smile.  “The services of the spa and salon will be at your disposal.  And I know St. James will have something for you to wear.”

He watched as she considered her options.  “I feel responsible.  Please let me make things right.”

The black Mercedes pulled up to the sidewalk and the driver walked around to open the back door.  “Please,” he pleaded softly.

The woman drew a shaky breath.  “Okay.  Thank you,” she said quietly.

Jorgen slid out of the back seat and moved to the passenger side of the front.  Nik motioned for the woman to get in, and he climbed in beside her.  The driver returned to his seat and pulled out into traffic.

“Jorgen, call St. James and tell him to meet us at the underground entrance.  Ms.—“ He looked to the woman.

“Oh, Cavanaugh.  Petey Cavanaugh.”  At his befuddled expression she added, “It’s a long story.”

Nik frowned.  “Ms. Cavanaugh is to have whatever services she needs.  When she’s ready, we’ll take her where she needs to go.”

“Yes, sir,” Jorgen responded, taking his phone out of his pocket.

“Thank you,” Petey said sheepishly.  “I’d better call my friend.”

She dialed a number.  “Yeah, it’s me.”  There was a short pause.  “No, I’m not almost to the gallery.  I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.”

Another pause.  “I know, seriously, I do!  Nobody would rather be there right now than I would, but I forgot the umbrella, and I forgot the key, and I’m a total wreck right now, completely soaked to the skin.”

She seemed to listen for a moment.  “I know, but I can’t help it.  I’m headed to the Plaza.  I’ll get cleaned up, and then I’ll be right there.”

Nik watched as she eyed him quickly.  “I don’t know.  Some guy,” she whispered.  There was another pause, and Nik could hear an agitated voice on the other end, although he couldn’t make out the words.

“Okay, Jules, I’m hanging up now.  I’ll let you know when I’m on my way.”  She stabbed at her phone and put it back in the small silver bag she was carrying.

She looked back at him sheepishly.  “My friend.”

“I truly am sorry.  You said you’re late?”

She nodded.  “It’s a gallery opening.  I’m supposed to be there,” she glanced at her watch, “twenty-two minutes ago.”

“I’m late for dinner myself.  At least gallery openings usually run for several hours.  Surely it won’t matter if you’re a bit late,” he said reasonably.

“It’s my show.  It looks kind of bad for the guest of honor not to be there.”

Nik was intrigued.  “You’re an artist.  What is your medium?”

“Sculpture.  I do welded steel and glass pieces.”

He squinted, picturing the petite, feminine woman using a welding torch to bend steel to her will.

“We’re here, sir,” Jorgen announced, interrupting his thoughts.  The car pulled through a security gate into an underground garage.  As it eased up to a pair of double glass doors, Colin St. James stepped out to greet them.

“Holy crap on a cracker,” he exclaimed as first Nik, then Petey, climbed out of the back of the car.  “What on God’s green earth happened to you?”

“It’s raining,” Nik replied succinctly.  “This is Ms. Cavanaugh.  She’s late to her own gallery opening, and obviously, she can’t go like that.  Please see to it that she’s ready in about twenty minutes.  Will that be possible?”

“Twenty minutes?  Are you kidding me?  They don’t call me ‘the miracle worker’ for nothing.”  He scanned Petey up and down.  “Although this might be my greatest challenge yet,” he said under his breath.

She glared up at him through wet lashes.

Nik turned to Petey.  “I’m going upstairs to get cleaned up.  I’ll check on you when I’m ready.”

She nodded shyly, shrugging off his suit jacket and handing it to him.  “Um, thank you.”

He nodded to Colin and turned to head to the elevator.

Colin took Petey by the hand.  “Okay, sweetie, let’s see what we can do.”

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHASING ORDINARY is available in both digital and paperback
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

FOR SPARROW, Dream Dominant Book 3, is a 2018 Golden Flogger Award Finalist for Best BDSM Book in the BDSM Light category.  It’s a wonderful honor for a book that’s so close to my heart.

This heart-felt story grew out of my thoughts regarding a couple of dear submissive friends of mine.  And I set it in my home of Palm Beach County, Florida, taking the characters to some of my favorite places.

Here’s what it’s about in a nutshell:

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband died, she lost her friend, her lover…and her Dominant. 

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

Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary solution?

FOR SPARROW is also the 2017 New Apple Medalist for Literary Erotica.

Here’s a little peek.

“Have you always been a paramedic?” she asked.

“After I graduated from Florida State, I started out as a firefighter,” he said.  He laughed at her automatic grimace.  “Don’t tell me, you’re a Florida graduate.”

Jessi laughed lightly.  “Go, Gators!”

He chuckled with her.  “Anyway, after a few years I went to EMT school, and then later I completed my paramedic training.”

“Does being a paramedic keep you safer than being a firefighter?”  Her brow furrowed with worry.

Judd smiled.  “I suppose.  I don’t run into many burning buildings anymore.  We wait for the guys to bring victims out of the fires.  And we respond to heart attacks, injuries, car accidents, that kind of thing.”

He watched Jessi’s eyes widen.  “No,” he shook his head.  “I didn’t get the call for Graham’s accident.  I was off that day.”

“How did you know…“

“Jessi, your eyes show everything you’re thinking,” he said gently.  “It’s the damnedest thing I ever saw.”

Jessi immediately looked down at her plate, concerned about what else her eyes might give away.  Judd went back to eating and she picked at her burger some more.  Looking back up, she spoke again.  “How did you know Graham?”

Judd looked back up at Jessi, swallowed his bite of burger, and cleared his throat.  “I followed his blog for quite a while.”  Jessi blinked, trying to make the leap from following a blog to being friends.

He sighed, wiping his mouth and setting down his napkin.  “I told you my marriage ended because we wanted different things in life.  As things started going south, I realized that one problem was that both of us wanted to be in control.  And it didn’t work.  There was no yin to the yang, you know?”

Jessi nodded, frowning.

“I started looking online for anything that could help, some kind of advice to help me save my marriage.  The more I looked, the more I realized that in my core self, I’m Dominant.”

Judd paused to let that sink in.  Jessi was listening raptly.  “I found a few websites about being Dominant, you know the kind of thing, ‘do this’, ‘don’t do that’.  When I started going out again after the divorce, I tried some things, some really stupid things.  I made a few dates through FetLife and they were disastrous.”  He shook his head, half smiling.  “Graham’s writing was a revelation.  I thought, here’s a guy who knows what it is to be Dominant, to lead a submissive in the right way.”

She still didn’t say anything so he pushed on.  “I became something of a stalker,” he laughed, “reading every article, digging through his archives…  I commented on his posts and asked questions, and he was always nice, he always took the time to answer me.”  Judd took a break, nibbling on a handful of fries.  Jessi sipped her beer and waited.

“When I realized he was local, I worked up the nerve to ask him to meet me for coffee, and he agreed.  We met at Howley’s, and we talked for hours.”

“Howley’s,” Jessi repeated.

Judd grinned wryly.  “Cooked in sight…”

“Must be right,” she finished, smiling sadly.

He nodded.  “We met about once a month after that.  He was my mentor, but he was also my friend.”

“He never told me this.  I never knew that he was meeting someone, mentoring someone.”  Jessi gazed out over the water.

“That last time,” Judd began, “he was preoccupied.  He kept talking about what would happen to you when he was gone.”

“Why?” Jessi quietly pleaded.  “Why did he think something was going to happen?  Why didn’t he tell me if he thought something was wrong?”

Judd shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I think maybe he was feeling like something was off, and he didn’t want to worry you.”  He looked at Jessi and sighed.  “Graham asked me to promise I’d look out for you, make sure you were alright.  Those things I work on at your house?”  Jessi nodded.  “Before we left Howley’s that day, he handed me an envelope with my name on it, said in the event something happened to him, I should open it.”

“It was a list of chores around my house?” Jessi asked.  Judd nodded solemnly.

Jessi frowned.  “Was the dog on that list?”

Judd laughed.  “Yes.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen.”

He looked down for a moment.  “The list was the second page.  The first page was a letter outlining how he wanted me to make sure that you were okay.  He worried about you, Jessi.”

She looked away and swiped at a lone tear with the heel of her hand.  “I just don’t understand,” she said quietly.

“There’s more, Jessi.” She looked back at him expectantly.  “Graham gave me two envelopes that day.  The one for me…and one for you.”

Jessi’s eyes widened.  “You mean you’ve had—“

Judd put up a hand to stop her.  “He told me to give it to you when the time was right.  Jessi, I had it in the pocket of my jacket on the day of the funeral.  But you were surrounded by assholes saying really stupid things, and you looked like you’d been hit by a bus, and it didn’t seem like the right time to give it to you.  I’ve had it in my truck every time I’ve come by.”

He placed his hand over hers.  “I think it’s the right time tonight.  I’ll give it to you when we get back to your house.”

The drive back to Jessi’s was accented by tense silence.  Judd watched out of the corner of his eye as Jessi wrung her hands together anxiously, her face tight.  When they pulled into the driveway, she unbuckled her seatbelt.

“Hang on a second,” he told her.  “I’ll get your door.”

*****

Standing at the kitchen island, he handed her an envelope.  Her heart ached at the sight of Graham’s familiar left-handed scrawl across the face of the envelope.

For Sparrow.

Jessi’s eyes filled with tears.

Judd spoke softly.  “I’ll be out back when you’re finished, and we can talk about it if you like.”  He squeezed her shoulder gently.  “Come on, Buddy.  Let’s go outside.”  Happily, the puppy followed Judd out the back door.

FOR SPARROW is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

 

Weekend Excerpt–Now That Warrior Mine is Out…

WARRIOR MINE, Dream Dominant Book 4, launched to terrific 5-STAR reviews.

For my next project, I’m stepping away from the Dream Dominants to a ‘spicy vanilla’ suspenseful erotic romance I’m tentatively calling Voices.  I’m pretty sure by the time it’s ready to be published, I will settle on a better name.

Jenny Stone is on the run from the thugs who killed her parents and have held her prisoner.  For the last two years, she’s been unable to speak due to the trauma she experienced the day her life changed forever.  When she sees her chance to escape, she takes it, secretly hitching a ride in the horse trailer of a handsome rancher.

Cole Caldwell has no clue about the battered girl he finds hiding in his trailer.  She can’t tell him who she is or where she came from.
But he knows he’ll never let anyone lay a hand on her ever again.  Not as long as there’s breath in his lungs.

Here’s a little (unedited) peek at this WIP…

Warm breath on her face startled her, and her eyes popped open to see a shiny black nose and two soulful brown eyes resting mere inches away.

Jenny smiled.  Hi, puppy.  She reached to pet his head, and the dog whimpered softly.  Jenny frowned.  Do you need to go outside? 

Carefully, she sat up and looked around.  It had been dark when she’d gone to bed.  Now, golden sunlight streamed through the two windows of the corner bedroom.  To her, it was a beautiful space, all pastel colors and feminine details.

Her prison of the last two years popped into her mind, the tiny cubicle with its stark white walls, the air mattress she’d been allotted, the black blanket that had kept her warm.

No more.  She shook her head and her gaze fell back to Blue.  Oh.  Puppy needs to go out.

She wondered where Cole was.  The house was utterly still.  She slid out of bed, still wearing the clothes he’d loaned her the night before.  Quickly, she made the bed, replacing the throw pillows and making certain the arrangement was pristine.

She crossed to the bathroom, pausing to check her image in the mirror.  The swelling around her eye had definitely abated.  Now it was merely a noxious shade of purple.  She used a comb she found in a drawer to sort out her ginger waves, wishing she had a hair tie.  Instead, she tucked her hair behind her ears as best she could.

In the hallway, she glanced around, but since the house seemed empty, she headed downstairs.  A rectangle of white paper on the kitchen counter caught her eye.  It was a note.

Good morning, sleepyhead.
I’m out at the barn.  You can join me if you like.
Cole

Jenny smiled, noting that her lip was less sore than it had been.  She looked down at her sock feet.  No trips to the barn today.  She placed a hand on her stomach to still the nerves there.

Besides, Victor is looking for me.

To anyone else, the idea that Victor might find her at some remote ranch all the way in–she realized she had no idea where she was–might seem ridiculous.  But she knew Victor, knew what he was capable of.  She’s seen it firsthand.

Blue whined again, and the thoughts of Victor dissipated.  Come on, puppy.  She opened the kitchen door and the dog ran outside, heading in the direction of the barn.

Afraid to go outside onto the porch, Jenny crossed to the living room windows.  From there, she could see Cole exercising a horse in a round pen not far from the barn.  A few other horses grazed in a fenced pasture beyond that.

Blue trotted up to Cole, and the man leaned down to scratch behind his ears.  Then he stood and looked toward the house, raising a hand in a wave when he saw Jenny at the window.  Jenny smiled and waved back, feeling an uncertain flutter in her stomach.

Cole stopped the horse and walked up to him, rubbing his nose and neck with generous affection.  He opened the pen’s gate and walked the horse into the pasture, where he removed the rope harness and turned him loose to join the others.

Shortly, he and Blue walked in the front door.  “Hey there, Jenny,” he grinned.  “How did you sleep?”

Blushing slightly, she smiled, nodding.  Really well.

“Good,” he said, hanging his straw hat on a rack near the front door.  He turned and tilted his head, gazing at her thoughtfully.  “Your eye looks better today.  Yesterday, you only had one.”  He chuckled softly.  “It’s gonna be quite a shiner for a while, though.”

Jenny self-consciously brought her hand to her left eye, touching the area cautiously.

Cole made his way into the kitchen, and Jenny followed.  “Are you hungry?”

She hadn’t considered it before, but now that he mentioned it, she was.  Yes.  She nodded sheepishly.

He took two plates from a cupboard and set them on the kitchen island.  “How does a sandwich sound?  I have turkey and Swiss cheese.”  He looked to her, and she nodded again.

Jenny felt her stomach rumble.  Turkey and cheese sounded amazing.  She watched as he put slices of white bread on the plates.  From the fridge, he retrieved the turkey, the cheese, a jar of mayonnaise, and a bottle of yellow mustard.

Setting everything on the counter, he held up the condiments.  “Mayo, or mustard?  Or both?”

She pointed to the mustard.

“Not a fan of mayo?”

She shook her head, wrinkling her nose.

“Oh, it’s good stuff,” he contended, slathering his bread with the thick white goo.

She couldn’t stop the snicker, and he looked up at her, grinning.  Her heart skipped a beat as she met his deep brown eyes.  Cole was exceptionally handsome, with his dark hair, so brown it was almost black, and those dreamy eyes.

Just…don’t, she cautioned herself.

When the sandwiches were ready, he cut them on the diagonal and placed heaping portions of corn chips in the space between halves.

As they ate, Cole chattered about his morning and his work with the horses.  Jenny listened, nodding when it was appropriate.

At one point, he looked up at her.  “I have to go into town today to pick up some feed that just came in.  Thought I might wander over to Wal-Mart and maybe pick up some things for you.  Unless you’d like to come with me.”

Jenny felt panic rising.  She had no money, no way of paying for anything, and she certainly didn’t expect Cole to buy things for her.  The reality of her situation sank in.  What choice do I have?

She shook her head furiously.

Cole smiled kindly.  “I kind of figured you’d say that.  Besides, you can’t exactly go gallivanting all over town dressed like that.”  He nodded to her outfit of his hand-me-downs.

She looked down and smiled in spite of herself.

He drew a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to her.  “I started a list of things I figured you might need.  But I need sizes.  I’d never venture to guess a woman’s size—I grew up with a sister who could kick my ass.”

Jenny found herself suppressing a smile.  She scanned the list.  Jeans, tops, underwear, jacket, socks, shoes, toiletries.

He pushed a pencil toward her.  “I know how you feel about writing stuff on paper.  But I have to have sizes, or else I’ll buy all the wrong things.”

She chewed her lip thoughtfully as she tried to decide what to do.  Finally, she picked up the pencil and began marking sizes.

As she did, Cole continued.  “If there are any brands you prefer, mark those, too.  And if I know your favorite color, it will make picking out stuff easier.”

Finished marking sizes, she wrote the word ‘purple’ beneath the list of clothing, then handed it back to him.

He looked over the list and grinned.  “Purple, huh?  Good to know.”

The release date for Voices is TBD.

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Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW Has Big News!

This week brought great news for Dream Dominant Book 3, FOR SPARROW.
It’ s been named a 2018 Golden Flogger Award FINALIST for Best BDSM Book in the BDSM Light category!

I’m so excited!  This book is special to me in several ways.  The story grew out of a ‘wonder’ I had about two dear subbie friends of mine.  And it’s set in my home, Palm Beach County, Florida.  I’ve infused it with some of my favorite places.

In a nutshell, Dominant firefighter paramedic Judd  Farris made a promise to his dying friend and he’s going to keep it.
He’ll be there for recent widow Jessi Crenshaw, at least until she finds a new Dom of her own.
But a platonic D/s relationship is a damn odd arrangement.
Could it be that maybe his friend had something more permanent in mind?

Here’s a little snippet from FOR SPARROW.

Jessi sat gazing out across the moonlit water to the red lighthouse on the opposite side of the inlet.  In the cool evening breeze, she was almost cold in her casual pink and orange sundress.  She thought about the ride from her house, unable to recall the last time she’d ridden alone with a man other than Graham.  The uncomfortable feeling had returned, and she’d chided herself mentally.

Oh, for fuck’s sake, grow up!  We’re going out because obviously, there’s nothing in the house to eat.

She’d been surprised when Judd played country music on the truck’s radio, although she couldn’t figure why that had been surprising.  She knew nothing about the man and his taste, in music, or anything else for that matter.

When they’d pulled up in front of the Square Grouper, she’d also been surprised.  It was not the kind of place Graham had liked, he’d been more a fan of quiet and sedate restaurants.  Places that were actually indoors, unlike this bar with sand for a floor and palm trees for a roof.

She found she rather liked it.  Looking back, she realized that she and Graham had rarely ever gone out to a bar.  Occasionally for girls’ night out, she and Sarah and a few of their friends met for cocktails at the bar of the local Cheesecake Factory, but that was usually just a preamble to going to the movies.

The bar had been noisy and crowded when they’d entered, and she’d stiffened apprehensively, unsure of where to go.  Judd seemed to have noticed, and he’d placed a hand gently on the small of her back, guiding her through the crowd to the table by the water where she now sat.

Judd seemed to be well-known among the crowd there, several times his name was called out raucously.  “Yo, Judd!”  He’d laughed and returned the greetings.

“Here you go, Jessi.  I’ll go get us some beers and order a couple of burgers.”  And he’d left her to ignore the crowd in favor of the tranquility of the full moon on the water, the rotating beam at the top of the lighthouse, the occasional boat that passed by.

“I’m back,” he said, handing her a bottle of Blue Moon and sitting beside her with his own.  “The burgers will be out in a while.”  He took a pull on his beer and sighed.  “This is one of my favorite places to sit and relax.”  Glancing at her, he frowned a bit.  “Are you alright?  I mean, is this place okay?”

Jessi nodded.  “It’s nice.  I’ve never been here before.”  She looked back towards the bar as the laughter peaked again.  “They seem to know you.”

He grinned.  “Yeah, I’m here quite a bit.  I hate to cook for myself.”

She watched him thoughtfully for a moment.  “You aren’t married, then?”

Sipping his beer again, he shook his head.  “Nope.  I was for a while a few years back but it didn’t work out.”

“I’m sorry.  That’s sad, I think.”

“Sometimes people just grow in different directions,” he said with a shrug.

Jessi felt awkward, like she should be more sympathetic but she didn’t know what to say.  Thankfully, their food arrived, large cheeseburgers with what looked to be homemade French fries.  For the next few minutes they concentrated on eating.

Judd groaned appreciatively.  “This place has the best burgers in town.”

“It’s really good,” Jessi agreed, although she barely picked at her plate.

He looked thoughtful as he dipped a fry in ketchup.  “Tell me about your business,” Judd prompted.

She looked up, surprised.  “Oh, well, it’s event planning.  You know, weddings, parties, fund raisers, that kind of thing.  About four years ago, my friend Sarah and I got tired of teaching and decided to take the plunge.”

Judd grinned.  “You were a teacher?”

“Ninth grade English.  I did it for a long time, but I was ready for a change.”

“How is your business doing?”

Jessi smiled a little.  “Pretty well, actually.  We average about three events a week.  Matter of fact we have a big party tomorrow night.  I’ll probably spend most of the day taking care of last minute details.”

He nodded.  “You said that Friday worked out better this week.  I’ll be working tomorrow, too.”

“Have you always been a paramedic?” she asked.

“After I graduated from Florida State, I started out as a firefighter,” he said.  He laughed at her automatic grimace.  “Don’t tell me, you’re a Florida graduate.”

Jessi laughed lightly.  “Go, Gators!”

He chuckled with her.  “Anyway, after a few years I went to EMT school, and then later I completed my paramedic training.”

“Does being a paramedic keep you safer than being a firefighter?”  Her brow furrowed with worry.

Judd smiled.  “I suppose.  I don’t run into many burning buildings anymore.  We wait for the guys to bring victims out of the fires.  And we respond to heart attacks, injuries, car accidents, that kind of thing.”

He watched Jessi’s eyes widen.  “No,” he shook his head.  “I didn’t get the call for Graham’s accident.  I was off that day.”

“How did you know…“

“Jessi, your eyes show everything you’re thinking,” he said gently.  “It’s the damnedest thing I ever saw.”

Jessi immediately looked down at her plate, concerned about what else her eyes might give away.  Judd went back to eating and she picked at her burger some more.  Looking back up, she spoke again.  “How did you know Graham?”

Judd looked back up at Jessi, swallowed his bite of burger, and cleared his throat.  “I followed his blog for quite a while.”  Jessi blinked, trying to make the leap from following a blog to being friends.

He sighed, wiping his mouth and setting down his napkin.  “I told you my marriage ended because we wanted different things in life.  As things started going south, I realized that one problem was that both of us wanted to be in control.  And it didn’t work.  There was no yin to the yang, you know?”

Jessi nodded, frowning.

“I started looking online for anything that could help, some kind of advice to help me save my marriage.  The more I looked, the more I realized that in my core self, I’m Dominant.”

Judd paused to let that sink in.  Jessi was listening raptly.  “I found a few websites about being Dominant, you know the kind of thing, ‘do this’, ‘don’t do that’.  When I started going out again after the divorce, I tried some things, some really stupid things.  I made a few dates through FetLife and they were disastrous.”  He shook his head, half smiling.  “Graham’s writing was a revelation.  I thought, here’s a guy who knows what it is to be Dominant, to lead a submissive in the right way.”

She still didn’t say anything so he pushed on.  “I became something of a stalker,” he laughed, “reading every article, digging through his archives…  I commented on his posts and asked questions, and he was always nice, he always took the time to answer me.”  Judd took a break, nibbling on a handful of fries.  Jessi sipped her beer and waited.

“When I realized he was local, I worked up the nerve to ask him to meet me for coffee, and he agreed.  We met at Howley’s, and we talked for hours.”

“Howley’s,” Jessi repeated.

Judd grinned wryly.  “Cooked in sight…”

“Must be right,” she finished, smiling sadly.

He nodded.  “We met about once a month after that.  He was my mentor, but he was also my friend.”

“He never told me this.  I never knew that he was meeting someone, mentoring someone.”  Jessi gazed out over the water.

“That last time,” Judd began, “he was preoccupied.  He kept talking about what would happen to you when he was gone.”

“Why?” Jessi quietly pleaded.  “Why did he think something was going to happen?  Why didn’t he tell me if he thought something was wrong?”

Judd shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I think maybe he was feeling like something was off, and he didn’t want to worry you.”  He looked at Jessi and sighed.  “Graham asked me to promise I’d look out for you, make sure you were alright.  Those things I work on at your house?”  Jessi nodded.  “Before we left Howley’s that day, he handed me an envelope with my name on it, said in the event something happened to him, I should open it.”

“It was a list of chores around my house?” Jessi asked.  Judd nodded solemnly.

Jessi frowned.  “Was the dog on that list?”

Judd laughed.  “Yes.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to make that happen.”

He looked down for a moment.  “The list was the second page.  The first page was a letter outlining how he wanted me to make sure that you were okay.  He worried about you, Jessi.”

She looked away and swiped at a lone tear with the heel of her hand.  “I just don’t understand,” she said quietly.

“There’s more, Jessi.” She looked back at him expectantly.  “Graham gave me two envelopes that day.  The one for me…and one for you.”

Jessi’s eyes widened.  “You mean you’ve had—“

Judd put up a hand to stop her.  “He told me to give it to you when the time was right.  Jessi, I had it in the pocket of my jacket on the day of the funeral.  But you were surrounded by assholes saying really stupid things, and you looked like you’d been hit by a bus, and it didn’t seem like the right time to give it to you.  I’ve had it in my truck every time I’ve come by.”

He placed his hand over hers.  “I think it’s the right time tonight.  I’ll give it to you when we get back to your house.”

The drive back to Jessi’s was accented by tense silence.  Judd watched out of the corner of his eye as Jessi wrung her hands together anxiously, her face tight.  When they pulled into the driveway, she unbuckled her seatbelt.

“Hang on a second,” he told her.  “I’ll get your door.”

*****

Standing at the kitchen island, he handed her an envelope.  Her heart ached at the sight of Graham’s familiar left-handed scrawl across the face of the envelope.

For Sparrow.

Jessi’s eyes filled with tears.

Judd spoke softly.  “I’ll be out back when you’re finished, and we can talk about it if you like.”  He squeezed her shoulder gently.  “Come on, Buddy.  Let’s go outside.”  Happily, the puppy followed Judd out the back door.

Award-winning FOR SPARROW
is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

 

Weekend Excerpt–WARRIOR MINE

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are actual photos from the Spocks family album.

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

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

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

Again, these are Spocks family photos.

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

Here’s a little teaser from WARRIOR MINE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What the…” Jackie murmured.

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

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

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

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

“But Mom,” Grant protested.

“Don’t ‘but Mom’ me, do as I say.”

“Aw, man!”

“Aw, man,” Emma echoed.

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

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

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

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

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

“But,” the stranger began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott frowned.  “Trouble?”

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

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

5

 

Weekend Excerpt–WARRIOR MINE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

“How are the eggs, Sowder?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You got mad.”

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

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

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

Eyes sparkling, Scott suppressed a smile and waited.

Sowder looked up.  “What?!”

“You tell me.”

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

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

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

Scott cleared his throat and flashed his sternest look.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m out back.  J

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s my girl,” he said proudly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You didn’t pop up,” he grinned.

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

“Do you want to try again?”

“Hell, yeah!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR SPARROW is available
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