FOR SPARROW, the third Dream Dominant book, launched on Oct. 3 to some really nice 5-STAR reviews.
For now, I’m taking a break from the Dream Dominants, and I’m about 22k words into the next book, a spicy vanilla novel that I’m tentatively calling CHASING ORDINARY.
Briefly, redhaired sculptor Petey meets handsome businessman Nik by accident on a rainy night in Manhattan. Their mutual attraction is instant, but not everything is as it seems.
I don’t want to tell you too much more than that, but the photo collage may give you a few hints.
Here’s a little (unedited) snippet from my new work in progress, CHASING ORDINARY.
Nik peered grimly out the window at the passing grey tableau as the Mercedes made its way uptown to the exclusive Empire Club. Dalton Rigby’s great-great grandfather had been a founding member, as the man had been careful to point out every time Nik had ever met him.
At least the food at dinner will be good, he consoled himself. Mentally, he went over his talking points as the city passed by in a gloomy blur.
A flash of color on the sidewalk caught his focus. Ahead, a woman in a bright red dress was attempting to hail a cab in the pouring rain. As the car pulled alongside her, he watched in slow motion as a spray of water completely doused her.
“Stop the car!” he shouted.
The driver eyed him in the rear-view mirror.
“Stop the car,” he repeated.
“But sir,” Jorgen protested from his seat beside Nik.
Shrugging, the driver stopped, causing the car behind them to slam on its brakes and honk loudly.
Nik was already halfway out of the car. “Go around the block,” he called over his shoulder as he stepped out into the rain, slamming the door behind him.
The woman was still standing where she’d been when the Mercedes’ front wheel had torn through a deep puddle, spraying her with dirty water. Nik made his way to her, ignoring the rain that pelted him as he walked.
“I’m terribly sorry. Are you alright?”
She stood shaking from cold, red hair matted to her head, black streams of mascara running down her face like cracks in fine china. “I’m s-s-s-soaked!” she shrieked.
“Again, I’m so sorry.” Nik’s expression was contrite. He shrugged out of his suit jacket and wrapped it around her. She was tiny, and the jacket nearly swallowed her whole. He glanced around. “Is your apartment near here?”
She shook her head. “I’m locked out. And I’m unbelievably late. I can’t go like this. And I can’t get back into the fucking apartment! Fuck!”
“My car is coming back around the block. I’ll give you a ride to wherever you need to—“
At that moment, boxy delivery truck hit the same puddle, spraying both of them. They gasped in unison. Momentarily blinded by the wall of water, Nik sputtered and swiped at his face. “Bloody hell!”
He looked down at the woman whose eyes were wide with surprise. “Here comes my car now. Come with me. I’m staying at the Plaza. We’ll call ahead and have the stylist meet us. Once we’re both cleaned up, I’ll take you where you need to go.”
She looked up at him in alarm. “I’m not going to your hotel with you!”
“No, I don’t mean… I realize how inappropriate it sounds, but I promise, I only mean to help.” He held up his hands in surrender. “Clearly you can’t stay here. And you can’t go to wherever it is you were going, not like this.” He aimed for a reassuring smile. “The services of the spa and salon will be at your disposal. And I know Colin will have something for you to wear.”
He watched as she considered her options. “I feel responsible. Please let me make things right.”
The black Mercedes pulled up to the sidewalk and the driver walked around to open the back door. “Please,” he pleaded softly.
The woman drew a shaky breath. “Okay. Thank you,” she said quietly.
Jorgen slid out of the back seat and moved to the passenger side of the front. Nik motioned for the woman to get in, and he climbed in beside her. The driver returned to his seat and pulled out into traffic.
“Jorgen, call St. James and tell him to meet us at the underground entrance. Ms.—“ He looked to the woman.
“Oh, Cavanaugh. Petey Cavanaugh.” At his befuddled expression, she added, “It’s a long story.”
Nik frowned. “Ms. Cavanaugh is to have whatever services she needs. When she’s ready, we’ll take her where she needs to go.”
“Yes, sir,” Jorgen responded, taking his phone out of his pocket.
“Thank you,” Petey said sheepishly. “I’d better call my friend.”
She dialed a number. “Yeah, it’s me.” There was a short pause. “No, I’m not almost to the gallery. I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.”
Another pause. “I know, seriously, I do! Nobody would rather be there right now than me, but I forgot the umbrella, and I forgot the key, and I’m a total wreck right now, completely soaked to the skin.”
She seemed to listen for a moment. “I know, but I can’t help it. I’m headed to the Plaza. I’ll get cleaned up, and then I’ll be right there.”
Nik watched as she eyed him quickly. “I don’t know. Some guy,” she whispered. There was another pause, and Nik could hear an agitated voice on the other end, although he couldn’t make out the words.
“Okay, Jules, I’m hanging up now. I’ll let you know when I’m on my way.” She stabbed at her phone and put it back in the small silver bag she was carrying.
She looked back at him sheepishly. “My friend.”
“I truly am sorry. You said you’re late?”
She nodded. “It’s a gallery opening. I’m supposed to be there,” she glanced at her watch, “twenty-two minutes ago.”
“I’m late for dinner myself. At least gallery openings usually run for several hours. Surely it won’t matter if you’re a bit late,” he said reasonably.
“It’s my show. It looks kind of bad for the guest of honor not to be there.”
Nik was intrigued. “You’re an artist. What is your medium?”
“Sculpture. I do welded steel and glass pieces.”
He squinted, picturing the petite, feminine woman using a welding torch to bend steel to her will.
“We’re here, sir,” Jorgen announced, interrupting his thoughts. The car pulled through a security gate into an underground garage. As it eased up to a pair of double glass doors, Colin St. James stepped out to greet them.
“Holy crap on a cracker,” he exclaimed as first Nik, then Petey, climbed out of the back of the car. “What on God’s green earth happened to you?”
“It’s raining,” Nik replied succinctly. “This is Ms. Cavanaugh. She’s late to her own gallery opening, and obviously, she can’t go like that. Please see to it that she’s ready in about twenty minutes. Will that be possible?”
“Twenty minutes? Are you kidding me? They don’t call me ‘the miracle worker’ for nothing.” He scanned Petey up and down. “Although this might be my greatest challenge yet,” he said under his breath.
She glared up at him through wet lashes.
Nik turned to Petey. “I’m going upstairs to get cleaned up. I’ll check on you when I’m ready.”
She nodded shyly, shrugging off his suit jacket and handing it to him. “Um, thank you.”
He nodded to Colin and turned to head to the elevator.
Colin took Petey by the hand. “Okay, sweetie, let’s see what we can do.”