Weekend Excerpt–Finding Callie

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

callie

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

Here’s the first chapter…

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

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

She frowned to herself.  Whose inner monologue is sardonic?

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

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

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

Weekend Excerpt–Just One Night

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

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

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

Read a teaser…

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

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

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

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

“I just want some grub,” Jayma giggled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I did.  It came out great.”

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

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

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

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

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

“More wine, madam?”

“You betcha!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What was her name?” Tommy wondered.

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

“I just wondered, is all.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JON 99 cents

Originally a Kindle exclusive,
JUST ONE NIGHT
is available for only $.99 at your favorite online bookseller.

Just use this Universal link: books2read.com/JustOneNight

It’s Going to Be HOT in Tampa!

 

Looking for your next great read?  Love to have fun in the sun?  Join me this Sunday, July 16, in Tampa for the Tampa Indie Author Book Convention!

I understand that about 40 Indie authors will be there, chatting with readers and signing books.  I’ll have copies of RESISTING RISK, LUKE & BELLA, and LOST & BOUND.  I’ll also have some free swag.

Admission to the event is FREE, and you can buy tickets to the VIP after party where there will be food and an OPEN BAR.  Just imagine, sipping cocktails and chatting with your favorite Indie authors.  Sounds amazing, right?

Check out the official Facebook page of the Tampa Indie Author Book Convention.  And if you’re going to be anywhere close, please stop by and say hello!

Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA Anniversary Sale

pic1LUKE & BELLA is the story of a pair of television journalists who are tasked with creating a new travel show, traveling the world and documenting the adventure they find.  I thought I’d share a few Fun Facts about the book.

  • LUKE & BELLA started as a private role-play on Twitter.
  • My partner lost interest after a while, and I decided to rewrite the role-play as narrative, which I put out on Tumblr, adding chapters beyond the original story.
  • When I reached around Chapter 67, I stopped writing for a period of time, finally picking up the story again and publishing it chapter by chapter here on WordPress, eventually finishing the whole thing.
  • In the story, Luke and Bella travel around the world to exciting cities, finding that the real stories don’t occur in the tourist areas.  Instead, they discover that the heart of a place is more often found two streets over.  I did a great deal of research into their destinations, having the pair stay in real hotels, eat in existing restaurants and bars.  You can find them online.
  • Originally, LUKE & BELLA wasn’t intended to be about BDSM.  It sort of evolved that way.

Here’s an all new excerpt from LUKE & BELLA.

After they said their good nights, Bella slept fitfully.  How long has it been since I’ve slept alone, she wondered.  She finally drifted off about half an hour before her alarm sounded and she found herself hitting the snooze button repeatedly.  Her ringing phone startled her awake.

“Hello?” she answered sleepily.

“Sissy, I’m downstairs.  Are you ready?” Tre asked.

“Holy shit!” she exclaimed.  “Give me ten minutes,” she shouted into the phone, disconnecting before he could reply.  She took the fastest shower of her life and threw on the first black dress she found in the closet, running down the stairs with her shoes in her hand.

Tre was waiting at the curb and she jumped into the giant SUV.  He stared at her for a moment, his expression incredulous.  “Is that what you’re wearing?” he finally said.

Bella looked down.  The dress was more low cut than she realized, and she tried to pull the v-neckline more closed.  “Oh, for God’s sake, we’re late!  I’ll find a pin or something, let’s go!”

Tre shook his head and they drove to the funeral home.  Once again the place was packed and they hurried to be seated in the family section reserved in the front of the room.  Cornelia glanced up as they were seated and she blanched, wide-eyed, when she saw Bella’s dress.  She quickly recovered her official mourning visage.  Bella shrugged.  I’m here, she thought.  What the hell else do you want?  Bitch.

She was glad to see that the casket was closed.  As the service began, there were hymns followed by a few friends and business associates who spoke, giving generic inspirational messages about the dearly departed.  Eventually Tre got up to give the official eulogy.  He was eloquent, heartfelt, and understated, all the things that Bubba always was.  People all around were dabbing at their eyes.

Bella felt something but she wasn’t sure what it was.  She should feel sad.  Her father was in that box.  She shook her head.  She wasn’t sorry that he was dead.  She wasn’t happy, either.  She really felt nothing at all.  That realization made her sad, and the tears finally came.

After the service, there was a procession to the cemetery.  They’ll lay him to rest next to Momma, she thought, as she rode in the limo with Tre, Cornelia, and T-Nathan.  No one said anything at all, but she could feel Cornelia’s disapproving glare.  Fuck it, Bella thought.

At the graveside, Bella stood next to Tre, wrapping her arm around his and holding on for dear life.  The service was interminable and she thought she couldn’t take much more.  Words like ‘family man’ and ‘loving husband and father’ swirled around her head.  People have no idea, she thought.

When it was finally over, the limo took them back to the funeral home where they got into the SUV and drove back to the house.  Cornelia had, of course, hired caterers to provide for the guests who would be attending the after funeral soiree.  Such a bizarre ritual, Bella mused.  Still, it was 2:00 and there would be wine, and she was in need.

Her flight to Buenos Aires didn’t leave until 6:00.  Then…Luke.  She couldn’t wait to see him, to be in his arms.  How could you need someone so badly when you’d known him for such a short time?

Guests were already milling around on the huge wraparound porch, cocktails and hor d’oeuvres in hand.  Among the guests, Bella noticed Mitchell, the guy from the funeral home last night.  He was handsome enough, she supposed.  But there was something pathetic about him.  It dawned on her that she couldn’t think of anyone who was man enough to be her Dom besides Luke.  The thought made her smile.

As Tre and Cornelia moved through the crowd, they were greeted with heartfelt wishes of condolence.  Bella and T-Nathan stayed on the outskirts of the crowd and made their way to the backyard, where the main gathering was meant to be.  The sky was bright blue and crystal clear, the temperature perfect for being outdoors.  Bella took a glass of wine from a passing server and sipped slowly.

“Well, kiddo, we’ve almost made it,” she said, winking at T-Nathan.  “When do you go back to school?”

He smiled at her.  “Next week,” he answered.  He seemed like he wanted to say more, so she waited, using her best interviewer arched eyebrow to encourage him.  “Hey Aunt Sissy, can I talk to you about something?”

“Of course,” she said, smiling warmly.  “What’s your old aunt for anyway?  What’s up?”

“Well, you know how I’ve been studying pre-law?  I’ve been thinking about changing my major.”

“Oh?” she asked, then waited.

“Yeah, um,” he said, blushing, “I’m thinking about journalism.  I want to do what you do.”  He looked at her directly.  “So what do you think?”

She thought, Your mother’s going to have a cow, but she answered, “Are you sure that’s what you want to do, travel and interview and that kind of thing?”  He nodded eagerly.

“Well, since you asked what I think…You should make journalism your minor, then continue with your pre-law or change to history or political science or economics or something else that you can bring to the table.  Any dumb ass can read the news.  You’re smarter than that.  And get involved with campus news in some way.  That’s valuable experience.”  She smiled at him.  “You know what, sometime when all the planets align, you need to come out with Luke and me, give it a try.”

“I don’t know, maybe I wouldn’t be any good at it,” he said, blushing again.

“Are you kidding me?  Look at this mug,” she said, patting his cheek affectionately.  “All the girls will lose their mother-loving minds!”

“Aw, Aunt Sissy,” he laughed.  He hugged her clumsily and went to find his friends.

Bella smile as she watched him go.  He’s such a good kid, she thought.  A server walked by and she snagged another glass of wine.  Last one, she warned herself.  She began to make her way around the gathering, accepting kind words from the guests.  She was aware of more than one disapproving look at her dress from the matrons in attendance, and more than one leer from the husbands of said matrons.   She began to feel the need to get away.

It seemed ironic to go inside to get fresh air, but that’s what she did.  Beyond the kitchen, which was a beehive of activity, the house was quiet and she made her way to Tre’s study with its dark paneled walls and oxblood red leather chesterfield sofas.  She stood at the window sipping her wine and watching the scene outside.

“Well, pretty lady, I wondered where you’d gone.”

Bella whirled around to see Mitchell, he of the wake last night.  “You startled me,” she said.

“Oops,” he smiled.  “Didn’t mean to do that.”  He had an odd look on his face and Bella didn’t like the feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“I just needed to get away from the crowd for a minute.  I think I’ll go back now,” she said evenly.

“What’s your hurry?” he asked, eyes on her breasts.  “I was hoping we could talk about old times.”  He put down his glass and crossed the room toward her, blocking her from moving away from the window.

“Have you been drinking a lot, Mitchell, because you’re making me uncomfortable,” she told him.

He laughed darkly.  “Oh, no, I want to make you very comfortable.”  He reached out to stroke her arm, putting his other arm around her waist.  “You’ve just been through a difficult time and I want to comfort you,” he whispered.  She could smell the bourbon on his breath.

“Okay, Mitchell, I’ve really got to go now,” she said, trying to move past him.

With his hand on the small of her back, he pulled her closer and he moved the other hand, reaching inside her dress and fondling her breast.

Without thinking, she slapped his face hard.  “Let. Me. The fuck. Go!” she hissed at him.

“Baby, the fuck is just what I have in mind, and you are turning me on!” he growled, leaning in to kiss her.

“Will not happen!” she answered, and she brought up her knee as hard as she could into his groin.  Mitchell went down like a sack of hammers.  Bella stepped over him and left the room hastily.

In the hallway she met Tre.  “Sissy, we were looking for you,” he said.  “Are you alright?”

“I just needed some air,” she answered sharply.

“Are you ready to go to the airport?” he asked.

“Hell, yes, I’m ready,” she said.  “By the way, your friend Mitchell just groped me.  I knocked his balls up into his sinus cavity.  I hope he hurts for a long time.”

Tre shook his head and sighed.  “Always an adventure, Sissy.  Let me go throw out the son of a bitch, then we’ll go, okay?”

Throughout the month of June, I’m celebrating the 2nd anniversary of the publication of my first novel, LUKE & BELLA.  All month long, you can get both Dream Dominant books, LUKE & BELLA and LOST & BOUND, for just .99 each.

 

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Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA Anniversary Celebration

luke-bella-updated-coverLUKE & BELLA was first published two years ago this week.  In celebration, this week’s excerpt is from that book, the first of the Dream Dominant Collection.  Wondering what it’s about?

Television journalist Bella Grant lands the job of a lifetime–travel the world and create a new television travel program.  She’s been paired up with co-producer and cameraman Luke McGillicutty, who’s been coaxed out of premature retirement with the promise of creative freedom and the chance to work with a gorgeous redhead.

Visiting exotic cities, staying in luxurious hotels…  Is it any wonder that the two fall in love?  But Luke hasn’t been completely honest with Bella.  He’s Dominant.  What’s more, he believes she’s the perfect submissive.

If he tells her the truth, he could lose her forever.  On the other hand, can he risk the chance that they could have it all?

Here’s a new excerpt from LUKE & BELLA.

They walked the two blocks to McTavish’s.  Holding open the door as he allowed Bella to precede him into the pub, Luke instinctively placed his hand on the small of her back and at once felt a charge of electricity.  He looked at her curiously, wondering if she felt it as well.

Bella appreciated Luke’s old-school manners.  Who says chivalry is dead? she asked herself, smiling.  She didn’t at all mind that he held the door for her as they entered the pub. It was funny, though.  As she passed him in the doorway, his hand grazed her back innocently enough, but she felt a shiver that went from her head to her toes.  Focus, girlfriend, on the task at hand.

Glancing around, she saw that the interior was all dark wood and looked like a classic pub.  Bella noted that the crowd seemed local.  They were headed toward the bar when they heard a roar.

“Luke mother-fucking McGillicutty!  You son of a bitch!”  Luke moved toward the source of the roar, a tall man with shaggy grey hair, warm brown eyes, and huge smile.  The two men embraced then stepped back to shake hands.

“How are you Nevin?” Luke laughed.

“I’m grand, Luke, very well,” said Nevin, but his eyes were on Bella.  “Terribly sorry for my foul language,” he apologized, bowing.  “Who is this lovely lady?”

Bella stepped forward, hand out and offering her best smile.  “Hello!  I’m Bella Grant.  I’ve heard so much about you.”

Nevin ignored her hand and instead wrapped her in a huge bear hug.

“Nevin, Bella.  Bella, Nevin,” Luke smirked.

“Bella, it’s lovely to meet you.  What in bloody hell are you doing with this loser arsehole?” he demanded.  “Come, sit, drink,” he said, leading them to the bar.

“Um, actually, we work together,” Bella replied, a bit overwhelmed for once in her life.  She observed, with a smile, that the foul language was back.

Luke noticed she did not dispute his status as a loser or an arsehole, but followed the two of them anyway.

“How do you and Luke know each other?” Bella asked.  Nevin launched into the story of how they met during a joint exercise back in their special ops days.

“Haven’t seen him since he was here covering that horrible explosion about five years ago,” Nevin finished solemnly.

Bella looked questioningly at Luke.  “Yeah, that time that whole block went up in a natural gas explosion,” he muttered.  “I was in London and they sent me here.”  He blinked his eyes trying to unsee what he’d seen.

“How is it we came to Edinburgh and you didn’t mention that?” Bella asked quietly.  Luke ignored the question.  She looked at him, wondering.

Nevin immediately moved behind the bar and asked what he could pour her.

“I wouldn’t mind a glass of white wine,” Bella replied.

“Aren’t you going to take my order?”  Luke asked.

“I know your poison,” Nevin laughed, and poured Luke a glass of Three Labels Scotch.

Pointing at the bottle, Luke told Bella, “This is it.  This is Nevin’s family label.”

“Really?” asked Bella.  “I’d try it, but I’d rather get my work done first.”

“So, Nevin, we’d like to shoot your place then have a chat with you.  Would that be okay?” Luke proposed.

“Of course, especially if that is the desire of the lovely Miss Bella,” charmed Nevin.

She giggled in spite of herself.  “Yes, please,” she answered.

“It’s settled then.  And McGillicutty, be sure to get my good side,” joked Nevin.

Bella set about ignoring Luke as he worked his camera and she engaged Nevin in conversation, which was very easy since clearly Nevin liked to talk.  They discussed the pub and the clientele.  Her first impression had been correct—most of the patrons were locals.  Nevin spoke lovingly about the pub and the business.  Bella asked Nevin to talk about how life in Edinburgh had changed over the years.

When he’d finished, she changed the subject.  “I’d love to visit the distillery.  Would that be possible?” she asked.

“Of course, we’d love to have you,” was Nevin’s warm reply.

Bella looked at Luke.  “I think we’ve got it,” she said.

“Yep, looks good,” Luke agreed.

“So is work done, then?  Let me give you the best table in the house and the serious drinking can commence,” said Nevin, grinning gleefully.  He led them to a high top table next to the back wall with a view of the entire pub.  Luke and Bella sat across from each other while Nevin disappeared.

“That was good,” Luke said.

She smiled at him.  “I think it went well, too.”

Nevin returned with a new bottle of Three Labels and three glasses.  He proceeded to pour them each a shot.  They all lifted their glasses and Nevin toasted, “To friends!”  They all tossed back the Scotch.

Bella coughed a little and the men laughed.

“That’ll put hair on your chest,” Nevin grinned.

Luke’s eyes immediately went to her cleavage which was fully on display in the deeply v-cut black sweater.  “Careful, Cowboy,” Luke whispered to himself.  Bella glanced at him, unsure she’d heard him clearly.

“Well, friends, I need to take care of my customers.  I’ll stop by later to see how you’re doing.”  They watched him move away greeting people like long lost family.

“He’s quite the force of nature, isn’t he?” Bella commented.

“Yeah, he’s good people,” Luke replied.  He poured himself a second shot and offered one to Bella, not expecting her to take it and surprised when she did.  He tossed his back and watched her do the same, without coughing this time.

“You didn’t tell me you’d worked here before.  I’m wondering why,” Bella said, looking at him intensely.

“It’s not a very good memory, actually.  Not one I like to discuss,” he replied, pouring for himself again. She still had him fixed with that fierce gaze and he realized she wasn’t going to let the matter drop.

Luke sighed.  “What do you want me to say, Bella?  I’ve seen a lot of shit in my time.  The explosion here?  It was bad.  Took them three days to put out the fire.  Debris was scattered for two miles in every direction.  They found charred body parts…” he trailed off.

“You still have nightmares.”  It was not a question.

He set his mouth in a grim line, finished with the topic.

“Well, we’re interviewing a survivor of that fire tomorrow at 10:30,” she countered, and poured herself another shot.

“That’s our appointment tomorrow?” he asked.

Bella nodded.  “Are you going to be alright with that?”

“Sure, no worries,” he replied, draining his shot.  She tossed back hers as well, looking him straight in the eye.  He watched her but didn’t say anything.  She had to be feeling that Scotch by now.

He poured again for himself and she pointed to her glass.   Somebody has a competitive streak, he thought.  He poured for her as well, but questioned the wisdom of doing so.

A server approached their table balancing a small tray carrying a single glass of white wine.  “This is for the lady from the gentleman at the bar,” she said.  Luke looked toward the bar and saw a short young man standing at the bar staring at Bella.

“Tell the gentleman the lady says No, thank you,” Luke growled, surprising Bella.

“Oy, pal, Nevin says the lady isn’t with anybody,” called the man at the bar.

“Clearly, she’s with me,” Luke countered, and started to get up.  Nevin rushed in to diffuse the situation, offering a free drink to the man at the bar and shooting an amused glance at Luke.

Draining her fourth shot, Bella commented, loudly, “Clearly, McDude isn’t paying attention.  We’re drinking Scotch over here.”  She dissolved into giggles.

“Alright, Princess.  Let’s get you back to the hotel,” said Luke, protectively.  He helped her to her feet and they moved toward the bar.  “See you tomorrow, Nevin.  Around 2:00?” Luke said.

“2:00 it is,” Nevin replied.  Bella waved goodbye and turned unsteadily toward the door.  Nevin winked at Luke and turned back to his customers.

Luke steadied Bella as they stepped out onto the sidewalk.  She waved him away.  “I’ve got this,” she said stubbornly.

“Okay, you’ve got this.  I’ll just help a little,” he smiled.  They made it back to the hotel and up to the suite.  He led her into the bedroom.

“Come on, Princess.  We’ll get you into bed.”  He sat her on the side of the bed and helped her off with her shoes.

“Arms up,” he said, and pulled the sweater off over her head.  She was wearing the same bra from earlier.  He felt part of him stiffen.

“Okay, now lie back,” he said gently, and slid off the gray skirt.  Her panties matched the bra.  Of course they do, he thought, mentally rolling his eyes.

Pulling up the covers he leaned down to kiss her gently on the forehead.  “Good night, Princess,” he whispered.

“Luke,” she called quietly.

He bent over her.  “What?”

She leaned up and pressed her lips to his, kissing him hungrily, probing his mouth with her tongue.  Abandoning his resolve, he kissed her back for a long moment before reluctantly pulling himself away.

Sighing deeply, he brought her a glass of water from the bathroom and placed it next to the bed.  “See you in the morning,” he whispered before retiring to the couch for the night.

To celebrate LUKE & BELLA’s second anniversary, both Dream Dominant books are available for just $.99 each for a limited time.  Hurry and get your copies now!

Anniversary Sale1

Use these universal links:

LUKE & BELLA (Dream Dominant Book 1)

LOST & BOUND (Dream Dominant Book 2)

Weekend Excerpt–JUST ONE NIGHT

justonenightWe’re here at the unofficial start of summer, and I, for one, could’t be happier.  Long hot days, even hotter nights…  Which makes me think of JUST ONE NIGHT, my naughty little summer novella.

I don’t normally write novellas, but this story was originally intended to be part of a multi-author steamy summer anthology.  The group project never actually materialized, so I went ahead and published the book on its own.

In JUST ONE NIGHT, teacher Katie Parker, fresh off the humiliating demise of her most recent relationship, is meeting her high school girlfriends for their annual summer outing.  This time, it’s a Caribbean cruise, and Katie’s determined to find a hot guy for a night of anonymous passion.

Mac Coleman is cruising to Mexico for his brother’s wedding when the pair meet on board the ship.  Their chemistry is instant.  But can Mac convince Katie that what they’ve found is worth more than just one night?

Here’s a little teaser.

There was a knock at the door and Mac went to retrieve the wine and strawberries from the cabin steward.  He returned to the bed, tray in hand.  “Are you ready for a little wine?”

Katie shook her head.  “Wine can wait.  I want you.  I need you to finish what you started.”

He grinned broadly.  “Finish what I started, the lady says.”  He set the tray on the desk and paused to remove his pants.  Katie propped up and watched with admiration.

Mac sank onto the bed and stretched out beside her, kissing her deeply and pushing her onto her back again.  He positioned himself above her, his erection at her sensitive entrance.  He paused only to slip on a condom and slammed himself home.

His earlier attention had left her ready for him and she held on, moaning lightly from the moment he entered her.  Watching her unselfconscious abandon had pushed him near to his edge as well, and he had no desire to slow down.  He pummeled into her and she raised her knees, willing him to be as far into her as he could go.  He felt her walls begin to compress his cock and as she cried her release, he gave in to his as well, pumping until he felt her go limp again.

He pulled out gently and rested beside her, drawing her into his embrace.  “Oh, baby,” he murmured into her ear, “you are something else.”

Ten minutes later, Mac leaned back against the headboard, legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles.  Katie sat facing him, her legs curled beneath her.  Neither had bothered to get dressed.  He poured a glass of wine and handed it to her, taking another for himself.

She sipped gratefully.  “It’s good.  And I was thirsty.”

He smiled.  “It was quite a workout.”  Taking a plump red berry, he held it out to her and she bit into it, laughing when juice ran down her chin.  She swiped at it with her empty hand.  Mac laughed too and ate the rest of the berry.

“So how were the stingrays?”

Katie rolled her eyes.  “About like I imagined.  Very crowded.  I mean, they were kind of cool.  But the way they fluttered around my legs really creeped me out.”  Mac laughed appreciatively.  “I didn’t stay in the water too long.”

She leaned over him to take a strawberry from the dish, and she held it to his mouth, watching him bite into it.  The rest she popped into her mouth.  “After the stingrays, we had lunch, then lounged on the beach for a few hours.  It was heavenly.”  She smiled with the memory.  “The others decided they needed to go shopping, but I stayed at the beach for a while longer.”

“You didn’t want to go shopping?”  He crooked a skeptical eyebrow.

Katie shook her head.  “There’s nothing in the world that I need in those touristy shops.  Besides, the water and sand were hypnotic.  I just sat there thinking about…”  She looked to him sheepishly, her face flushing pink.

“Thinking about last night.”  He smiled knowingly.  “I did some of that myself.”  He fed her another strawberry.

“Um,” she swallowed, “how was diving?  I already know that you didn’t get rushed to the hospital.”

He laughed.  “No, no hospital for me today.  Diving was great, actually.  It usually is in the Caymans.”  He sipped his wine.  “Would you like to see the pictures?  I downloaded them onto my tablet.”

Katie set down her glass and rolled onto her stomach, knees bent, her feet hovering over her ass.  Mac cued up the dive pictures and slid the tablet in front of her.  He watched as she slowly scrolled through his photos of the tropical reef fish, coral, and other things he’d seen that day.

“These are fantastic!  The water is crystal clear and the colors are just amazing.”  He watched her frown.  “Is this a shark?”

He tilted his head to the right to look at the tablet.  “Yep, a Caribbean reef shark.”

Katie gaped at him.  “Just swimming along with you?  I would have lost my mind.”

Mac laughed good-naturedly.  “They pretty much leave you alone.  You just have to be aware of what’s going on.”

She shook her head, disbelievingly.  “No freaking way,” she muttered as she continued scrolling through his pictures.  He handed her another strawberry.  She chewed thoughtfully.  “Tomorrow is my pick.  We’re going to see the ruins at Tulum.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m kind of a history nerd.  It’s just intriguing to me.  People lived there for hundreds of years, probably assumed that it would always be there, then, boom!  Can you imagine being the last person out of there?  It boggles my mind.”

Mac smiled at the insight into her intelligence.  “It will be a great trip.”

Katie nodded.  “And in Belize, Chelsea is making us zip-line in the jungle.  It’s a pretty sure bet I’ll break my neck.  Michelle has declared the last day of the cruise ‘spa day’.  Which I’ll probably need, assuming my neck isn’t broken.”

He laughed.

“We should get together every night to compare notes on our adventures.”  Katie grinned up at him, the guarded look suddenly gone as her face lit up, completely open to him.  “What are you guys doing in Mexico?  Will you go diving again?”

He felt the knot in his stomach as a frown crossed his face.  “We’re getting off in Mexico.  Tommy’s wedding is in Cancun tomorrow night.”

Her brow wrinkled.  “You’re getting off in Mexico?  You aren’t finishing the cruise?”

He shook his head.  “No.  The wedding is tomorrow night.  The next day I fly home and load up the moving truck.  I start my new job on Monday.”

Katie looked down, crestfallen.

“Hey, you, I’m really sorry.  I didn’t mean to—“

Abruptly, she pushed up off the bed.   “No, I’m sorry.  I wasn’t thinking.”  Her voice was soft, upbeat.  Her eyes betrayed her deeper feelings as her face closed again.  “Remember our deal—no strings, no expectations.  I just…”

She snatched up the fluffy white robe from the back of the chair and shrugged into it, stalking to the veranda door and crossing to lean against the railing overlooking the dark sea.  He padded out behind her, not bothering with a robe.

Mac approached her, wrapping his arms around her.  “I really am sorry,” he murmured into her hair.  “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“You didn’t hurt me.  No expectations, right?  It’s my own rule.  I just wasn’t thinking.  It’s no big deal.”

He pulled her closer and held her, gazing out over the sea.  “Somebody hurt you.”  It wasn’t a question.  The compassion in his voice caused her stomach to clench.

“It’s not something I want to talk about.”

“I understand,” he murmured softly.

She whirled around.  “Just stop!  Stop being all…” she waved her hands in frustration, “understanding!”

Mac threw back his head and laughed out loud.  “I could try for asshole,” he laughed, “but it’s not really my style.”  He wrapped his arms around her again, drawing her close.  “You can tell me anything you want.  Or nothing at all.  Just know,” he gently kissed the top of her head, “you’re safe here.”

Katie felt herself soften in his strong embrace.  To be safe.  Understood.  The concept was almost foreign.  She sighed deeply and turned away from him to face the ocean again, but she pulled his arms tightly around herself.

“It’s stupid.”

He said nothing, just nuzzled her temple, planting tiny kisses behind her ear.

She sighed again.  “I met a guy online.  Stupid, I know.  Just…  I don’t meet many men in my day to day life.  So I took a chance.  He seemed nice, owned his own business, the sex was—“  She sheepishly glanced up at him.  “Until very recently I thought it was great.”  She felt the chuckle in his chest as it vibrated against her back.  “One day I surprised him with lunch at his office.  When I walked in he was standing with his pants around his ankles.  A blonde was sucking him off right there in his office.”

Mac tightened his grip around her shoulders.  “I’m so sorry, you,” he murmured against her ear.

Katie shook her head.  “I should have known.  I should have seen the signs or something.  How can I be so stupid?  I can’t make that same mistake again.”

He turned her to face him, both of them leaning against the railing.  “I was dating a psycho.  I’m moving partly to get away from her.  But I’ll tell you something.”  His face was earnest.  “I realized that if I shut myself off from love, try to protect my heart, I’m going to miss the real deal when she comes along.”

He looked at her meaningfully.  “I’d much rather take the chance.  I didn’t die from a broken heart.”  He smiled at her ruefully.  “Look, we can take this thing however you want, but I’m telling you, there’s something here.  Something more than a ‘one night only’ kind of thing.”

Katie shook her head dismissively.  “No, this is just a vacation romance.  Not even romance.  Just sex.  There’s nothing wrong with that.”  There was challenge in her eyes as she met his.

Mac nodded slowly.  “Like I said, we can take this any way you like.  But just know, I’m open to more.”

JUST ONE NIGHT is only .99, and it’s available at this universal link:

books2read.com/JustOneNight

Weekend Excerpt–LUKE & BELLA

LUKE & BELLA begins with a pair of journalists being presented with the job of a lifetime–traveling the world and producing a new television travel show.

Bella is a smart, sassy redheaded television host with a passion for adventure.  Luke is more jaded, having spent years covering war and mayhem as a news photographer.  He left television behind to spend his days living on a rented boat in Florida.  The promise of producing his own show is intriguing enough to coax him out of retirement.  The fact that he’s paired with a sexy redhead is an added bonus.

Throughout the story, Luke & Bella visit cities like Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Mykonos, Mumbai, Buenos Ares, and many other romantic places.  As I wrote the book, I did a great deal of research into every destination.  And when possible, the hotels and restaurants the couple visits are actual places.

Above are photos of some of the settings for scenes in LUKE & BELLA.  I also included the photo that was my inspiration for Bella’s huge suitcase, the one she affectionately calls her “big-ass Louis,” which was a gift from her grandfather.

Here’s a scene from LUKE & BELLA.

It was 8:00 am local time when they landed in Edinburgh.  They moved quickly through customs and headed down to Baggage Claim.  A short man in a driver’s uniform held a sign lettered “McGillicutty.”  Luke strode up to him, right hand out.  “I’m Luke McGillicutty.”

“Yes, sir, my name is Stewart.  I’m here to take you to the Balmoral,” the driver replied.  “Shall we collect your bags?”

Luke lifted his battered duffels.  “These are my bags, but I believe the lady has a cargo container or something.”

Bella smirked at him.  “Ha-ha!  Maybe you could make yourself useful and get some footage.”  She wandered in the direction of the baggage carousel and Stewart followed, cart in tow.

Good idea, Luke thought to himself.  Since the moment he’d first seen her in the airport lounge, he’d been itching to see her through his lens.  Life itself was all too often neither contained nor controlled.  Things in his camera lens were precisely contained and exactly controlled, separated into manageable segments.    It was how he preferred to see the entire world, really, although he didn’t want to analyze that too deeply.   He felt that images in his camera lens appeared in their true form.  And he wanted to see Bella.

As she stood near the carousel chatting with the driver, Luke zoomed in on her.  A good photog always zooms completely in on his subject, focuses, and then slowly backs off.  Only he didn’t back off.  He started at her feet, clad in jeweled leather thong sandals.  And fuchsia nail polish.  He moved up to her ankle peeking out from under the long grey (or was it silver?) lace skirt she was wearing.  Since when was an ankle so sexy?

Traveling up he paused as she leaned over to retrieve a cosmetic case.  The skirt hung from her curved form in just the right way.  The bottom of a white tank top covered the top of the skirt before disappearing under the short denim jacket she was wearing over it.  Again, all curves.  Now Bella had turned toward him, her attention on the driver who was still waiting for her luggage.  From this angle he trailed up her body, watching her take off the jacket and fold it over her arm.  Full, perfect breasts filled out the tank top and for the first time he noticed a sprinkling of light freckles that trailed off into her cleavage.

Unconsciously, Bella reached up to tuck some stray red curls behind her ear.  That face.  And that amazing hair.  God, she was beautiful.  “Careful, Cowboy,” he whispered to himself.

He hurried to get some video they could actually use and tried not to dwell on what Bella might think if she saw what he’d just shot.

She flashed him a triumphant smile as she and Stewart returned to him, her things loaded onto the cart, including what could only be the fabled “big-ass Louis.”

“Geez, is that all?” Luke quipped.  “Aren’t you afraid you might not have everything you need?”

“McGillicutty, you and your ghetto bags are just jealous!” Bella returned, and she led them all out into the Edinburgh morning.

LUKE & BELLA is available at this link:

books2read.com/LukeAndBella

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