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
in both digital and paperback formats
at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/ForSparrow

Behind the Book–The Setting of FOR SPARROW: First Stop–Howley’s

FOR SPARROW, my new contemporary erotic romance, and the third book of the Dream Dominant Collection, is set in my home, Palm Beach County, Florida.  For this Behind the Book series, I want to take you on a tour of some of my favorite local places, places I love so much, I had my characters go there.

The first stop on our tour is a funky diner called Howley’s.  Their catch phrase is on the sign: Cooked in sight…must be right.  I love Howley’s for a lot of reasons.

Built in 1950, it’s a nostalgic throwback to a simpler time.  The business was purchased in 2004 by a group who appreciated what Howley’s was, and they lovingly restored its iconic terrazzo floors and tin ceilings.  The furnishings are retro, from the long counter to the awesome mid-century tables.

I love the staff at Howley’s, too.  They’re all young, and rather gender-fluid, with lots of piercings and tattoos.  A nose ring seems to be standard equipment.  And they’re all super nice.

The food is fantastic as well.  The last time I was there, I enjoyed a mimosa over a delicious breakfast.

Unsurprisingly, they’re very arts-positive at Howley’s.  The paintings displayed on the walls are for sale.  But my favorite artwork is the mural on the outside, done by local artist Amanda Valdes.  Check her out if you’re interested.  When I’m rich and famous, I’m going to commission her to paint the huge blank wall in my kitchen.

As I thought about my story line, I wanted just the right place to serve as the backdrop for where Judd might have spent time with Jessi’s husband, Graham.  Howley’s seemed like the perfect place for the two men to get together for coffee once in a while.

Here’s a little sample of FOR SPARROW.

“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.”

Sparrow graphic Linz

FOR SPARROW launches October 3, but for a limited time you can
reserve your copy for the pre-order rate of 99¢.
After launch day, the price goes up.

books2read.com/ForSparrow

Weekend Excerpt–FOR SPARROW

pic3I’m so excited to tell you that Dream Dominant Book 3, FOR SPARROW, is finished and currently in edits.  This cover is just a mock-up I made when I first began the project over a year ago.  Erotica author and fellow Wicked Pen Linzi Basset is currently at work creating a hot new cover.  Stay tuned for news of the official cover reveal and for release day.

Set in my hometown of West Palm Beach, FOR SPARROW is about Jessi Crenshaw, recently widowed and mourning the loss of her husband, lover, and Dominant.  But it turns out that her husband Graham had had an inkling that his health was on the decline, and he tapped a temporary replacement for himself.

Enter tall, sexy, and Dominant firefighter/paramedic Judd Farris.  He’s agreed to watch over Jessi, to give her knee time when she needs it, and to give her the boundaries she craves.  But it’s a damn odd arrangement, platonic Dominance and submission.  How long can the keep this up?

So for this weekend’s excerpt, I wanted to give you a little teaser from FOR SPARROW.

They enjoyed dinner on the patio, the sky shifting from the orange and pink Jessi had noticed upstairs to a deep indigo twilight, the stars blinking on over the gentle swells of the ocean.  The teak table was lit with a pair of citronella candles against the odd mosquito, and Judd had built a fire in the pit just off the patio.

Conversation over their grilled mahi dinner and sauvignon blanc centered on their adventures over the past couple of weeks.  The mood was light and happy, and Judd, for one, was glad for Jessi’s company.  Her face lit up as she recounted her surfing attempts and the pair laughed easily.

Buddy devoured his bowl of kibble and promptly passed out again.  Judd and Jessi carried their dishes into the house, quickly restoring order to the kitchen.  Jessi glanced at her watch and decided that she should be leaving soon.

“Do you have to go?” Judd asked, noticing her checking her watch.

“Oh, you know, I should probably head home.”

“We haven’t had dessert yet.”

Jessi chuckled.  “I’m so stuffed from that delicious dinner.  I don’t think I could take another bite.”

“Come on, Jessi, there’s always room for dessert,” he coaxed.  “Wait til you see.”  Judd opened a cabinet, removed a few items, and placed them on the counter.

Watching curiously, Jessi had to laugh.  “Chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows.  S’mores?”

Judd nodded proudly.  “S’mores.  You can’t resist s’mores.  Nobody can.  It’s a known fact.”

Laughing again, Jessi followed Judd back outside.  “I haven’t had s’mores since…  Well, probably not since that time I took the kids camping.”

“Then you’re long overdue.  This stuff is left from when my sister and niece were here.”  He took two steel barbecue skewers, placed two marshmallows on the end of one, and handed it to Jessi.

“One, please.  I just want one marshmallow.”

He grinned, sliding a single marshmallow onto the other skewer, and they traded.  “Lightweight,” he teased.  “Now, let me show you how it’s done.”  He held the marshmallows a distance away from the flames, allowing them to slowly begin to warm.

“Careful there, you might accidentally roast those guys,” Jessi jibed.  She poured more wine for him and for herself.

“Kid if you must,” Judd replied, “but these bad boys are going to be perfection.”

Jessi sipped her wine, watching as the marshmallows began to slowly expand while remaining pristinely white.  “I have a different method,” she commented.

“Oh, you do, do you?”

“Yup.”  She prepared a graham cracker, breaking it into two pieces and placing a square of chocolate on one of them.  “Watch and learn, fire boy.”

Taking her skewer, she fixed him with an arched eyebrow before plunging her marshmallow directly into the flames.  When she pulled it out again, the round white confection was engulfed in blue flame.  Gently, she blew out the fire to reveal a charred marshmallow.

“You burned it,” Judd observed.

“It’s crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside.  Pure perfection.”  She lay the marshmallow on top of the chocolate and used the other graham cracker to slide it off the skewer.

She waved her hand over the top of her dessert with a triumphant flourish.  “Tah-dah!”

By this time, Judd’s marshmallows had tripled in size and were just beginning to turn a toasty golden brown.  “See, this is how you make a s’more.”  Carefully, he carried his marshmallows to the table where Jessi had prepared his graham crackers and chocolate.  He slid the marshmallows off the skewer and pressed the top cracker on, gooey marshmallow running over the sides.

Judd motioned for Jessi to sit, and he perched on the stool at an angle to her, their knees just brushing under the table.  He lifted his s’more and held it out to her.  “To adventure!”

Jessi picked up her own dessert and touched it to Judd’s, laughing lightly.  “Adventure.”

He continued to watch her thoughtfully as she nibbled her s’more.  “Thank you, Jessi, for such a great day.”

In the candlelight, his eyes flickered and Jessi felt the tingle in her belly.  And lower.

“It was fun.  It really was,” she murmured, hoping the dim light hid her blush.

Judd bit into his s’more with gusto, leaving a trail of marshmallow down his chin that dripped onto his shirt.

Jessi giggled happily.  “I knew that was too much for one s’more.”

“It was just the right amount,” Judd returned, sweeping the errant goo off his shirt and licking it off his finger.  “The graham cracker just couldn’t hold all the awesomeness.”

Jessi laughed again, pointing to his chin.

“What?”

“You missed a spot.”

He cocked his head, trying to see his chin.  He aimed his tongue at the corner of his mouth.  “Now?”

She shook her head and slid off her stool.  “I’ll get it.”  Stepping closer, she swiped her finger up his chin, removing most of the white confection.  Without thinking, she popped her finger into her mouth, but she didn’t miss the heat in his eyes.

Impulsively, she leaned forward and lapped at the corner of his mouth.  He tasted of chocolate, marshmallow, salt water, and sin.  A low groan emanated from Judd’s chest.  Jessi leaned back to look him in the face.

“Little one,” he whispered.

Stepping deliberately closer, she straddled his right knee and leaned in again, planting light kisses where the marshmallow had been.

Judd placed his hands on her hips and moved her back a bit.  “Are we crossing this line?”  His voice was soft, hopeful.

Jessi blinked and nodded.  “Yes.  Please.”

He didn’t wait for further permission.  He wasted no time in claiming her lips, devouring them as he pulled her closer, raising his knee to meet the warm needy place between her thighs.

Jessi gave herself over completely to his kiss.  She’d craved it for longer than she was willing to admit to herself.  She’d loved Graham.  But Graham was gone.  And he’d given her permission to move on.  It was time she gave herself permission.

Judd broke off the kiss and stood her back from him, steadying her when she wobbled a bit.  He fixed her with his best Dominant glare.  “You will be kneeling at the foot of my bed in two minutes.  You will be dressed.  I will undress you.”

Jessi immediately bowed her head.  “Yes, Sir.”

Again, FOR SPARROW is still receiving the finishing touches.  As soon as the cover reveal is scheduled, I’ll let you know.

For now, though, I want to invite you to join my fun new Facebook group, Pandora’s Passionista Paradise.  It’s about fun, friends, and hot books.  Today, I even had a little giveaway, just saying…  I’m there everyday, so come and say hello!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/PandorasPassionistas/