Weekend Excerpt–BROKEN HARTS

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken.

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché.
But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink tulle bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?

***
A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect.
Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

If you love your romance with a little heat and plenty of heart, you’re going to love Broken Harts!

In this steamy scene, Logan realizes that it’s time for him to make a choice.

In the still of pre-dawn, Logan gazed up at the ceiling of Ali’s bedroom and sighed contentedly. Her head rested on his shoulder as his right arm cradled her. His left arm curled beneath his head on the pillow.

At the sound of her steady breathing, he smiled. When he’d invited her to lunch, he’d had no thought of ending up in her bed.

He shifted his lips thoughtfully. Well, to say no thought wasn’t entirely accurate. He’d allowed the occasional notion or two to blossom into full-blown fantasy, fodder for a private jerk-off session in the shower here and there. And there had been a stray thought or three when she’d shucked her coat at the restaurant earlier in the day, that form-fitting sweater dress clinging to every curve most deliciously. His cock had certainly taken notice.

He allowed himself a silent whistle.

Still, he would never have broached the subject. Not on a day like today, with the drama of her father being lost. It would have felt manipulative, somehow.

But it had been Ali who had brought it up, Ali with that heated gleam in her soulful brown eyes, and he’d been helpless to respond in any other way than he had.

There on the sofa in the den, they had made out like two starving souls, each practically clawing at the other, lips desperately seeking and finding, until Logan thought he’d explode right there. With a knowing smile, Ali had stood up and taken his hand, leading him to her bedroom, where she shut and locked the door behind them.

In the privacy afforded in her room, Logan had shed all pretense of self-control, hurriedly tugging first at her clothes and then his own until they stumbled toward the bed in a tangle of discarded garments. He scarcely waited for her to retrieve a condom from her bedside table before he plunged himself into her.

He closed his eyes and replayed the moment in his mind, relishing her gasp in his ear as he took her that first time. He hadn’t lasted long. He had known he wouldn’t. It had been a long time.

Catherine usually couldn’t be bothered, and when she acquiesced, he usually ended up feeling like he’d had to talk her into having sex with him. Which was why he hadn’t bothered in months, preferring his own hand and a vibrant fantasy life.

That first time on the bed had been followed up in the shower, where he and Ali had adjourned to clean up. The memory of her perky tits, water dripping from her luscious, imminently suckable nipples, her water-slick, shapely ass… Softly, he whistled again as his cock stiffened at the memory of taking her a second time against the marble wall of the shower.

The third time had been different, much slower and more sensual as he’d gradually brought her to climax twice, each time with Ali whimpering softly as she attempted to stifle her orgasm.

Note to self, he thought. Next time, we go to a hotel. The thought pleased him. He wanted to hear Ali’s pleasure unfettered by the presence of other people in the house.

Next time.

Pressing a light kiss to the top of her head, his thoughts strayed back to when they had first arrived at the Hart’s apartment. Taking care of Ali’s father had involved a flurry of activity. Logan had stayed in the background as much as possible, grateful when Mrs. Smith offered him warm, dry clothes in place of the damp, clammy ones he had worn in the snow. While changing in the hallway bathroom, he had taken the opportunity to call Catherine to apprise her of his missed flight.

She had taken it as he’d known she would, anger reducing her conversation to short, clipped responses. No doubt there would be hell to pay when he returned home.

Of another thing, there was no doubt, as well. Logan couldn’t marry Catherine. He didn’t love her; it was as simple as that.

Honoring their hair-brained pledge had been a bad idea from the get-go, but at that low point in his love life, it had seemed like a reasonable consolation.

A hell of a reason to get married, he chided himself.

Ali shifted slightly, sighing softly in her sleep. Logan gazed down at her and held her closely, appreciating the sense of warmth that flooded his soul.

No, he couldn’t marry Catherine. He didn’t love her. He loved Ali. He knew it as surely as he knew his own name. And if he were honest, he’d known it since he’d first seen her in the subway station. He was utterly in love with Ali Hart.

The only thing to do was to call off the engagement. Logan resolved to do it as soon as he got home.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/BrokenHarts

Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

A handsome rancher with a tragic past,
determined to hang on to his inheritance.
A spunky young corporate lawyer
ready to make her mark in the world.
A sinister plot against them both.

Hunter McFall is a fifth-generation Idaho cattle rancher. He’s been approached to sell a small fraction of his land to a big-city real estate developer. Something he has no intention of doing. He’s agreed to hear out the firm’s lawyer, but that’s the end of it. To his surprise, it’s just the beginning.

Red-haired Manhattan business attorney Poppy Chastain is determined to make the most of her first opportunity to show her bosses what she can do. Slade & Howell have sent her to the boondocks of Idaho to convince the hard-headed rancher to part with a tiny plot of his property. She didn’t count on the sizzling attraction between them.

Together, they find a passion they weren’t even looking for. But their love is threatened by a covert scheme to separate Hunter from his land by any means necessary. When he finds out, he’s sure Poppy has played him for a fool. Can she convince him otherwise, that what they’ve found is real?

If you love hot cowboys, sassy redheads, and steamy, romantic happily-ever-afters, you’ll love Hunter’s Pride. It’s the second in the Redheads & Ranchers Series, sort of the middle child, as it were, and it’s one of my personal favorites.

Here’s a steamy little teaser…

The sun was slowly descending behind the mountains, and the vintage-style streetlamps were just beginning to blink on as Poppy and Hunter made their way back to the hotel.

They changed and headed to an upscale steak place on the next block. Over filet mignon and candlelight, they chatted quietly about their visit with Hunter’s grandfather and about their time in town.

After dinner, they returned to the hotel and found a corner table in the lounge. A local band was playing 80s and 90s acoustic covers, and Hunter ordered a Jim Beam neat while Poppy was thrilled to find her favorite Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

As they listened to the music and sipped their drinks, the pair exchanged heated glances. Poppy lightly strummed her fingers across the back of Hunter’s hand as the band launched into a Bryan Adams ballad.

Hunter leaned toward her, his breath tickling her ear and igniting goosebumps all over her body. “Are you ready to head upstairs?”

The flutter in her tummy was back, this time accompanied by a surge of moisture between her thighs. “Let’s go,” she nodded.

As soon as the door to their suite was closed, Hunter pressed Poppy against it, lifting her and wrapping her legs around his waist. Tangling his fingers in her red locks, he gently pulled her head back, exposing her neck which he nipped from just below her left ear to her collarbone.

She was powerless to stop the low moan that rolled up from her toes.

“I want you,” he hissed in her ear.

“Oh, yeah?” she responded breathlessly. “Then you should take me.”

He pulled her head back again, this time claiming her lips with bruising intensity. At the same time, he reached between the two of them and fondled the soaked space between her thighs.

Poppy gripped his shoulders tightly, gasping as she gave herself over to the sensation he created.

Hunter lightly nipped along her jawline to her ear. His voice was a low growl. “How attached are you to these panties?”

“What panties?” she panted.

He flashed a predatory grin, and his eyes sparkled. “Good answer.”

With a sharp tug, the scraps that had been her underwear floated to the floor. Hunter balanced her against the door as he reached down to his belt and fly. In one fluid motion, he was buried in her core.

Poppy gasped at the sudden intrusion, rocking her head back against the door. Hunter leaned in, pinning her between himself and the door as he pistoned into her, and she felt her moment rising.

“Oh, fu-” she breathed, and her words morphed into a garbled cry as she shattered in his arms.

After another couple of strokes, Hunter stilled deep inside her, grunting his own release. They remained as they were, gasping against the door. Voices from the hallway filtered through the wooden door and Poppy giggled lightly.

“Maybe we’d better take this party to the bedroom,” Hunter winked.

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE is available
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/HuntersPride

Weekend Excerpt–BROKEN HARTS

Two weddings.
One Valentine’s Day.
And hearts will be broken

A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s beyond cliché.
But it’s what Ali Hart’s niece Shannon wants. So Ali will wear the pink tulle bridesmaid’s dress, carry the rose and eucalyptus bouquet down the aisle, and keep her opinion to herself.

Ali is back in New York to get ready for the wedding, but her older sister and brother seize on her visit as the perfect time for Ali to make arrangements for their elderly father, who can no longer independently care for himself.

A navigational error puts Ali on a collision course with destiny. Now what?

***
A wedding on Valentine’s Day? It’s perfect.
Unless you’re not positive that she’s the one for you.

In the dark recesses of his heart, Logan Pryce knows that Catherine von Hollen isn’t the love of his life. The daughter of his father’s business partner, they’ve known each other for years. She’s blonde, gorgeous, and everyone loves her. On paper, it’s perfect. On paper.

A chance encounter with a nameless redhead on a crowded subway platform causes Logan to question everything he thought his life was going to be. Will he stay with the safe bet, or will he take a chance on something more?

If you love your romance with a little heat and plenty of heart, you’re going to love Broken Harts!

Here’s a little teaser…

The elevator deposited Ali on the 4th floor of the 12-story 1920s brick apartment building. She made her way down the hallway to the door of 4D, the place she had always considered her home. 

Using her old brass key, she let herself inside and headed through the foyer toward the living room. “Dad? I’m home,” she called softly, hoping not to disturb her father in case he happened to be napping.

His live-in housekeeper met her in the living room. “Good afternoon, Miss Alison. Your father is in his study. He’s been a bit…unfocused today,” Mrs. Smith related in her crisp British accent. 

Mrs. Smith had been a fixture in the Hart home since Ali could recall. When Jackson and Connie had divorced during Ali’s junior year in high school, Mrs. Smith had been a steadying presence.

Ali frowned, trying to decipher the woman’s polite description. The sound of papers shuffling and a deep unintelligible muttering drew Ali’s attention toward Jackson’s office down the hallway.

She smiled reassuringly at Mrs. Smith. “Thanks! I’ll go see what’s going on.” She was positive she saw relief in the older woman’s eyes.

“Dad?” she called as she walked down the hall. She popped her head in the doorway of her father’s small office. 

Backlit by the window behind him, he stood in the center of the room clutching a sheaf of papers in each hand. His shaggy gun-metal grey hair stuck out wildly in all directions, giving him the air of a deranged madman. He was also naked from the waist down.

“Aw, geez, Dad, you have to wear pants. Seriously, now, Mrs. Smith is going to quit if you keep doing this.”

“I can’t find it,” he said urgently. “I can’t find it anywhere. Someone broke in and stole my manuscript.”

“Let’s go get you dressed and I’ll help you find what you’re looking for,” Ali said patiently.

**

“I’m really sorry about Dad,” Ali apologized. “I had no idea things had gotten so bad.”

Following a dinner of Mrs. Smith’s famous pot roast and roasted green beans, Jackson had wandered into the den to watch the news on cable. Ali insisted on helping the housekeeper clean up in the kitchen.

“You know I consider you and your father family,” Mrs. Smith smiled kindly. “It’s just that I’m not as young as I used to be. I worry that I won’t be able to keep Mr. Hart safe.”

Ali shook her head. “It wasn’t your fault that he got lost that time.” She raised a knowing eyebrow. “I know Brendan and Megan probably told you that it was.”

The elderly housekeeper gave something of a Mona Lisa smile and said nothing.

“It’s not your job to keep him from leaving the apartment.” Ali sighed deeply. “I looked at that care home today. It was really awful.”

She frowned sharply. “Well, it wasn’t awful, exactly, it just…wasn’t for Dad. He’s so independent. I’m thinking of seeing if we can’t hire a full-time nurse-slash-companion for him, someone who’ll stick with him and keep an eye on him. That way he can keep his independence and still be safe.”

Mrs. Smith’s eyes twinkled with kindness. “You’re a good daughter,” she said simply. “I know you’ll make the right decision.”

When they’d finished with the kitchen, Ali bid the housekeeper goodnight and joined her father in the den. Together they watched a documentary until the old man began to nod off in his chair.

“Come on, Dad, let’s get you to bed,” Ali said softly.

She helped him change into a pair of plaid flannel pajamas and waited while he performed his bathroom tasks. Then she tucked him into bed.

“Goodnight, Dad,” she murmured, kissing his scruffy cheek.

“Goodnight, Ali-gally,” he returned, invoking his favorite nickname for her. “I’m glad you’re home.”

“Me, too,” she smiled, giving him another kiss. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

After a quick shower, Ali found herself comfortably ensconced in her own bed, staring up at the ceiling of her childhood bedroom as light and shadows from the city street outside formed familiar shapes. The day had been so hectic that she hadn’t had time to consider the man she’d met when she’d gotten off at the wrong subway stop. 

Well, met? That might be a strong word, she decided. They hadn’t exactly exchanged names. They had barely exchanged words. And yet…

She linked her fingers together and cradled her head as she sighed deeply. And yet, the man’s image was burned into her brain. In her imagination, she watched him materialize. First were those sea-blue eyes, alight with life and soul and passion. Or did she just imbue him with those qualities in the absence of actual knowledge?

Next came those utterly kissable lips, quirked in a lopsided sort of way as though he were privy to a joke no one else had yet heard.

In her mind’s eye, his square jaw formed, defined by dark stubble that made her want to cup his cheek. The stubble matched his dark wavy hair that seemed slightly mussed on purpose, as though he might be due a haircut any day now.

In her bed on Park Avenue, Ali closed her eyes and heard his voice in her imagination. 

“Can we…”

Ali’s eyes popped open. Can we what? She pursed her lips in thought. 

Can we share a cab downtown? Run off together to Rome? Drop right here and do it doggy style?

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” she muttered, feeling herself blush. Again, she cursed herself for being in such an all-fired hurry to leave. 

It had been on impulse that she’d flattened her palm on the inside of the subway window. And he’d followed suit on the outside. He’d been as intrigued as she’d been.

She mulled the idea for a moment, then shook her head. Because ultimately, what difference did that make? She didn’t know his name, where he lived, whether he was single or married…

There was one thing she did know. She wanted to know more about him.

Sighing again, she shifted onto her side and willed herself to meet him in her dreams.

BROKEN HARTS by Pandora Spocks

BROKEN HARTS is available

at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/BrokenHarts

Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

Maybe it’s time this widowed rancher took another chance on love.
But is the spunky big-city redhead merely setting him up?

A handsome rancher with a tragic past, determined to hang on to his inheritance.
A spunky young corporate lawyer ready to make her mark in the world.
A sinister plot against them both.

Hunter McFall is a fifth-generation Idaho cattle rancher. He’s been approached to sell a small fraction of his land to a big-city real estate developer. Something he has no intention of doing. He’s agreed to hear out the firm’s lawyer, but that’s the end of it. To his surprise, it’s just the beginning.

Red-haired Manhattan business attorney Poppy Chastain is determined to make the most of her first opportunity to show her bosses what she can do. Slade & Howell have sent her to the boondocks of Idaho to convince the hard-headed rancher to part with a tiny plot of his property. She didn’t count on the sizzling attraction between them.

Together, they find a passion they weren’t even looking for. But their love is threatened by a covert scheme to separate Hunter from his land by any means necessary. When he finds out, he’s sure Poppy has played him for a fool. Can she convince him otherwise, that what they’ve found is real?

If you love hot cowboys, sassy redheads, and steamy, romantic happily-ever-afters, you’ll love Hunter’s Pride.

Here’s a little sneak-peek.

By the time they finished eating and paid their tabs, Hunter was positive Poppy had to be feeling the effects of the alcohol. But she seemed determined to press forward independently.

Together, they made their way to the door of the bar. With all the noise and music inside, they had been blissfully unaware that a spring storm had rolled in. Rain pouring down in buckets was punctuated by jagged flashes of lightning and the percussion of thunder rolling through the valley.

He’d already decided that he’d be making sure she got back to her room safely. The storm just clinched the deal. He could barely make out the lighted walkway of the motel through the torrents blowing across the highway in waves.

Beside him, she stared out into the storm. “Well, shit!”

He rested a hand on the small of her back. “Don’t worry. I’ll take you back to the motel.” He took a couple of steps. “Stay right here. I’ll get the truck.” With that, he dashed out into the deluge.

When he pulled the huge black Expedition to the front door, he leaned over and pushed open the passenger door. Poppy launched herself into the truck and slipped, falling headfirst over the center console, her face landing smack in his lap.

“Whoa, now!” he laughed.

She scrambled backward, nearly falling out of the truck. “Um, sorry about that,” she gasped as she swung the door closed.

“It’s okay, just…get yourself settled.”

Sheepishly, she buckled herself in and clasped her hands in her lap. “Okay, I’m settled.”

Suppressing a grin and mentally shaking his head, Hunter turned the truck and headed toward the highway.

At this time of night in a town like McFall, there was no traffic to speak of. Anyone not already home was currently parked in the lot in front of the North Star. He paused anyway, peering through the rain in both directions before cutting across to the motel.

“Which room is yours?”

She pointed with an unsteady hand. “Lucky number 7.”

He pulled into the space beside the Range Rover she’d driven out to the ranch. “Hang on.”

Ducking, he hurried around and opened her door. She accepted his hand and slid down, clutching her shoulder bag with the other hand. Together, they dashed the ten feet to the covered walkway.

For a moment, they stood dripping, looking out into the rainy night. Poppy fished the room key out of her bag.

“Well, thanks for the ride.” She leaned down and closed one eye, her right hand weaving a bit as she aimed for the lock.

“Can I help?” he asked.

He took the key from her and unlocked the door, swinging it open.

“Thanks. I would have gotten it.”

He tried to stop the smile. “I know you would have.”

She peered up at him, red hair drenched from the rain. He stepped closer, and she reached around his neck, pulling him to her, pressing her red lips to his. Her intensity surprised him, but he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer, giving in to her passion.

Gradually, she loosened her hold, and he released her. Gingerly, she touched her fingers to her lips. “Sorry about that. I’m a little drunk.”

“Not a problem. But you should go inside now.”

She nodded slowly. “Yeah. Thanks for everything, Hunter.”

“You’re welcome. Go on now. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

She headed into the room and peeled off the cardigan, dropping it on the floor. Then she gripped the bottom of the camisole and lifted it. Hunter realized that with the drapes open, she was about to put on a show for the entire North Star Bar & Grill, assuming they could see through the rain.

“Hold up there,” he said, hurrying inside to draw the curtains.

Giving up on the camisole for the moment, Poppy sank onto the edge of the bed. He squatted in front of her, taking her hands in his.

“I’m going to go now,” he said softly, “and I need you to lock the door behind me. Okay?”

She blinked as she tried to focus on his face. “Okay.”

“Okay, come with me,” he said, guiding her to the door. “After I go out, you lock the door.” Unable to resist, he pressed a light kiss to her forehead. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

He stepped out onto the sidewalk and pulled the door closed behind him, then stood listening. “Poppy?” He knocked lightly. “Lock the door, hon.”

From the other side, he heard the click of the lock, then the rattle of the chain. “Good girl. Okay, we’ll talk tomorrow. Goodnight.”

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE is available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/HuntersPride

Weekend Excerpt–Happy Thanksgiving

Petey is Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary.
And everything he ever wanted.
If he doesn’t blow it.

In CHASING ORDINARY, my modern-day adult fairy tale, sculptor Petey Cavanaugh leaves her family’s Montana sheep ranch to go to New York City. Her old art school roommate has arranged a gallery show of some of her best pieces. The goal is to make enough money to take the ranch to the next level.

Nik is in New York on the final leg of a seemingly endless string of business meetings. On a rainy Manhattan night, his and Petey’s worlds collide. The mutual attraction is instant. Only there’s a slight hitch–Petey doesn’t seem to be aware that Nik is Europe’s most eligible prince.

He adores the fact that she sees him as simply a man, not a title or an inheritance. He knows he needs to tell her the truth. But for now, he’s enjoying his first taste of ordinary.

What will happen when she finds out he hasn’t been truthful?

Here’s a snippet from CHASING ORDINARY. I hope you enjoy Nik’s first Thanksgiving.

After they’d showered and dressed for the day, Petey and Nik collected the casserole dishes from the refrigerator and placed them in the bed of a yellow wire-mesh wagon Petey retrieved from the garage.  Together, they carried the wagon down the front steps and then headed off in the direction of Jane and Eli’s house. 

The late November air was crisp and cold, their breath creating fog as they trudged along.  As they approached the house, Cherry opened the front door and the aroma of roasting turkey wafted toward them.  “Happy Thanksgiving!” she called.

“Happy Thanksgiving to you,” Nik returned as Petey waved.  “We come bearing foodstuffs.

Cherry’s brow furrowed.  “Hunh?”

Petey laughed.  “We have potatoes and dressing.”

 “Oh.  Come on in.  It’s cold outside.”

Leaving the wagon on the front porch, Petey and Nik carried the dishes through the large living room to the kitchen, which was abuzz with activity.  Mary Pat, decked out in a fall-themed apron, was leaning down to peer into the oven.  At the kitchen counter, Jane was briskly working a fork through a large pot filled with something white.  She looked up as they approached.

“Welcome!  Happy Thanksgiving!” she smiled.  “I’m just working the lumps out of the mashed turnips.”

Petey, sliding the potatoes into the fridge behind Jane, turned and made a face at Nik, who stifled a chuckle. 

“Thank you for making me feel so welcome.  I’m thrilled to be celebrating my first Thanksgiving,” Nik replied with an infectious grin.

“You never had Thanksgiving before?” Cherry asked, aghast.

“No, dummy, they don’t have Thanksgiving in Beruvia.  It’s about the Pilgrims, remember?” Thomas chided.

“And the first time-out of the day goes to Thomas, who has been reminded repeatedly not to call his sister names.  Ten minutes, pal.  Starting when you get to your room.  Now scoot,” called Eli, entering the kitchen from the back door.  He nodded in greeting to Nik and Petey. 

“Aw, dad!”

“We could make it twenty.”

“Geez, I’m going.”

Eli watched his son stomp upstairs.  “Cherry, it’s time for the woolly to eat again.”

“Alright, Daddy.”  The child turned to Nik.  “Wanna come help me feed my lamb?”

Nik beamed at her.  “I’d be honored to help.  But you have to teach me how.”

Cherry was shrugging into her puffy hot-pink down coat.  “Okay, but it’s pretty easy.”  She pulled a knitted pink beanie with bunny ears down over her head.  “Let’s go.  We’re keeping him in the g’rage.”

With a wink to Petey, Nik followed the little girl into the garage.

“He doesn’t have to do that,” Jane whispered to Petey with a smile.

“I think he’s happy to tag along,” Petey replied.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Ms. Petey,” Jorgen greeted her as he entered through the same door Eli had come through moments earlier.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Jorgen.  How are you today?”

The older man smiled.  “I’m most well, thank you.”  He turned to Mary Pat.  “Is this what you meant?”  He handed her three tins of spices.

Mary Pat smiled.  “Yes, those are exactly the ones.”  She shook her head.  “I can’t believe I forgot them.  Thank you so much for getting them for me.”

“It was sincerely my pleasure,” Jorgen said, bowing politely.

Jane rolled her eyes at Petey, who responded with a silent, “What the fuck?”

Eli had settled on the large sectional in front of the television.  The Cowboys were just about to take the field.  With his mission for Mary Pat accomplished, Jorgen joined Eli.

Petey was setting the long table in the dining room when Nik and Cherry came back into the house.  The little girl was talking a mile a minute, with Nik nodding and replying when it was appropriate. 

While Cherry continued into the kitchen, Nik stopped to give Petey a quick kiss.  “Is there anything I can do?”

Petey shook her head.  “I think it’s pretty much under control.  Did you get the lamb all sorted out?”

“We did.  I even got a chance to hold the bottle before Cherry decided I was doing it wrong.”  Nik’s eyes sparkled with amusement.  “I believe it’s the bluntest criticism I’ve ever received.”

“Yeah, she’d kind of straightforward,” Petey laughed.  “The guys are watching football if you want to go relax.”

Nik nodded.  “I think I will.  I’m a bit knackered from too much sex,” he whispered.

Petey gave him a playful push and sent him on his way.  Thomas, having paid his ten-minute penalty, made his way downstairs and joined his father and the others in front of the television. 

Finally, everything was ready, with platters and bowls arranged down the center of the table.  Everyone took their places, with Eli at one end and Nik at the other.  Sitting to Nik’s right, Petey gave his thigh a quick squeeze beneath the table.  Eli gave a thoughtful grace, and the food was passed. 

Petey cleared her throat meaningfully as she handed Nik the bowl of mashed turnips.  When he glanced her way, she arched an eyebrow.  Stifling a chuckle, he passed the bowl to Jorgen, who heaped the concoction on his plate.  Petey grinned at Nik, happy to share an inside joke.

The conversation was cheery, at times raucous and funny, punctuated by plenty of laughter.  From time to time, Petey glanced to Nik, who seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly.  The thought of him being happy and at ease squeezed her heart with emotion. 

At that moment, she realized that what she wanted more than anything was for Nik to be happy.  That’s what love is, isn’t it? 

When dinner was over, Jane stood up.  “Okay, gentlemen, since the ladies cooked, you’re on clean-up detail.”  She leaned over and kissed Eli on the cheek.  “I’ll check on the barn,” she told him softly.

As Petey stood, Nik and Jorgen began gathering up the dishes and utensils.  She sidled up to Nik.  “You don’t really have to do this, you know,” she said softly.  “It’s kind of Jane’s rule, but…”

“I don’t mind at all.”  His tone was earnest.  “I’m happy to help.  It makes me feel delightfully ordinary.”

Petey pursed her lips thoughtfully.  “Well, just so you know.”

“Go, relax,” he winked at her.  “I believe that odd game you Yanks call football is still on television.”

“I heard that,” Eli said.  “And it’s just plain football.”  His tone was serious, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

“And why don’t they use their feet to play it, hmm?” Nik jibed, as both men laughed.

CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks

CHASING ORDINARY
is available at your favorite online bookseller:
https://books2read.com/ChasingOrdinary