Weekend Excerpt–Redheads & Ranchers Book 2

HUNTER’S PRIDE

HUNTER’S PRIDE is the second stand-alone novel in the Redheads & Ranchers Series. It’s the follow-up to 5-STAR reviewed JENNY’S VOICE.

Like my Dream Dominant Collection, the Redheads & Ranchers books are completely unrelated to each other–they’re stand-alone.

Sometimes readers leave negative reviews because they assumed the books in the series continue the same storyline. I try to be clear that the thread that connects these books is that they are each about a hot rancher and the sexy redhead who comes along and changes everything.

Unlike the Dream Dominants, the Redheads & Ranchers fall into my ‘spicy vanilla’ category–all of the heat without the BDSM power exchange.

Here’s a brand-new teaser from HUNTER’S PRIDE.
Warning: It’s 18+.


Just as she dropped another log on the growing fire, the front door banged open, startling her.  Hunter, dripping wet, stood in the doorway stomping to remove mud from his boots. Poppy clutched her blanket around herself and hurried over, offering him the other blanket.  He handed her his hat, which she hung beside her own as he pulled off his boots and left them outside the door.

“Hurry and come in,” she told him.  “I have a blanket for you, and the fire’s getting warmer.”

Another bolt of lightning illuminated the whole place as its simultaneous deafening thunder shook the whole cabin, causing them both to cringe.  Hunter stepped inside, and Poppy pushed the door closed while he peeled off his soaked undershirt and hung it on a vacant peg. Poppy opened up his blanket and stood on her tiptoes to place it around his shoulders.

He looked over his shoulder gratefully.  “Thanks.”

She grabbed his elbow as he drew the blanket around himself.  “Come on, come by the fire.” She dragged him to the front of the fireplace where the air was much warmer than it was by the door.

“How are the horses,” she asked him.

He nodded shakily, eyes locked on the fire in the fireplace.  “Al-alright,” he chattered. “I d-dried them best I c-could, threw blankets over them.”

Clutching the blanket around himself with his right hand, he held his left as close to the fire as he could without actually touching the flames.

Poppy watched as he shivered uncontrollably.  Impulsively, she wrapped her blanket around him, then ducked under his arm, pressing herself against his bare skin, wrapping her arms around his waist.  His skin felt cold to the touch, and she rubbed her hands up and down his back in an effort to warm him.

Grasping both blankets, Hunter closed his arms around her, tucking her beneath his chin and holding her tightly.  They stood in silence while the storm raged outside, all but drowning out the crackle of the fire in the fireplace.

With her face pressed against his bare chest, Poppy inhaled the familiar masculine spice she’d noticed while wearing Hunter’s shirt.  As she pressed her lips to his skin, she felt his sharp intake of breath. She did it again, pressing her body more tightly against his, feeling the burgeoning erection trapped by his soaked jeans.

When she kissed him a third time, a low growl rumbled up from his chest and she peered up at him.  His eyes were all heat and desire, and she knew hers were the same. She slid her hands up his chest and around to the back of his neck while at the same time pushing up on her tiptoes to capture his lips in hers.  She’d been buzzed the previous night, but she was completely sober now. And she wanted him.

As she deepened the kiss, he released his grip on the blankets and slid his hands down her back, cupping her ass and lifting her up.  She wrapped her legs around his waist without breaking the kiss. Tongues tangled, and Hunter slid his hands up her back, stopping at the band of her bra which he expertly unhooked.  Lips still on his, she shrugged off the straps, not caring where the garment fell.

Slowly, he walked them the four steps to the bed, where he leaned down to lay her on top of the covers, for the first time breaking their kiss to straighten up and gaze down at her.  Poppy met his heated stare, raising her arms above her head and resting them there.

“Hot damn,” he breathed, leaning down to take one pert pink nipple between his lips.  Poppy closed her eyes as a soft moan escaped her lips, delighting in the fact that he paid her other breast the same attention.  Then he kissed his way down her belly, a sensual mixture of soft kisses and scratchy beard, until he came to the waistband of her jeans.

He looked back up at her and lifted an eyebrow in an unspoken question.  She nodded, and a lazy smile curled her lips as he deftly undid her rain-soaked jeans and in one motion, removed them and her panties as well.

Dropping them in the general direction of the fireplace, he returned his attention to her, devouring her with a hungry gaze.  Poppy pushed herself up on one elbow and watched as he unbuckled that silver oval belt buckle and slowly shucked his jeans. As he pushed them down his thighs, his massive cock bobbed into view.  She chewed her lower lip in anticipation.

Jeans discarded, Hunter crawled up the bed between her legs.  For a moment, he held himself over her, and she watched the fire rage in his eyes.  Then he lowered his head to press his lips to hers, hungrily consuming her.

She responded with fervor of her own, her core aching to have him inside.  His cock pressed into her thigh and she shifted slightly, urging him home.

“Poppy.”  Breathless, he released her lips.  “I don’t have a…”

She met his hooded eyes.  “I don’t care. Do you care?”

A slow smile graced his lips as he shook his head.  “No. I don’t care.”

“Then please,” she whispered.

It was all the encouragement he needed.  He captured her lips once again as parked his tip at her entrance.  Slowly, he pushed forward and Poppy gasped lightly as he continued until he’d buried himself to the root.  “Oh, yes,” she murmured into his ear.

He drew back, then pushed forward again.  This time Poppy drew up her knees, willing him to go as far as he could.  Hunter wrapped his arms around her, burying his face in her neck and nipping at her as he thrust faster.

It had been long, so long, since she’d had a man fill her so completely, so perfectly.

“Oh, shi—” Poppy hissed as her moment built.  “Harder.”

“Harder, the lady says,” he grunted.  “I’m happy to comply.” With that he pushed up, supporting himself over her as he pounded into her wet core.

“Oh, shit, I’m there,” she cried as her orgasm thundered over her, a thousand sparks dancing behind her eyelids.

Hunter gave a final thrust and held himself still, grunting his release.

After a moment, he released a shaky breath and leaned down to kiss her tenderly.  Then he carefully disengaged himself and lay beside her, drawing the blankets over them and pulling her to himself.

“That was a bit of something,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to her temple.

“Mm-hmm,” she sighed, curling into his warm embrace.

Breathing in unison, they lay in their warm cocoon of blankets listening to the rain on the roof and the rolling thunder that continued to rumble through the mountains.

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

I’m planning a June launch for HUNTER’S PRIDE, with the third Redheads & Ranchers book due out in October.

For now, if you missed JENNY’S VOICE,
this would be a great time to catch up.
It’s available at your favorite online bookseller,
including (and this is new) Google Play!
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

What happens when you assume…

Poppy P.K. Chastain, a bright young lawyer with a new MBA, is sent by her international real estate development company in New York City to the ranchlands of Idaho to strike a deal with 5th generation cattle rancher Hunter McFall.

Slade & Howell needs land to build an access road to the mountain property they’re turning into a luxury guest resort. And a little slice of McFall Ranch is exactly what they’re looking for.

Too bad Hunter has no intention of selling. As he’s said in reply to the half-dozen letters and emails the company has sent him. He’s agreed to a meeting with this city lawyer P.K. Chastain. But as soon as he’s told the fellow no, he hopes that will be the end of it.

Turns out, it’s just the beginning.

Here’s the first chapter of HUNTER’S PRIDE.


Hunter McFall squinted his hazel eyes at the dust trail on the horizon and shook his head in annoyance.  He didn’t have time for this. He had 1,500 head of cattle that needed moving to new pasture.

Not that it made this day any different from any other day.  Cattle need to be rotated to fresh grazing land. The herd had spent the last week down on the flood plain beside the bend of Deer Creek.  Today he wanted them moved into the foothills.

But he had Rolly Stevens to head up moving the beeves.  Rolly had been with the McFalls since before Hunter ever sat on a horse.  And the younger hands listened to the old man, respected him.

And if Hunter was honest with himself, he didn’t mind a day off the trail too badly.  Except he wasn’t looking forward to this appointment.

The dust trail was closer now.  Hunter sighed deeply and nudged the bay beneath him, gently pulling the reins to the right.

“Let’s go, Cheyenne,” he muttered.  The horse tossed her head and turned to the right, heading back toward the house.

P.K. Chastain.  Just the name irritated him.  The notion of a grown man going by his initials struck him as pretentious as fuck.  The fact that P.K. Chastain was a lawyer representing Slade & Howell didn’t engender him to Hunter anymore than his name did.

He’d received the letters and emails from this Chastain fellow, the ones making all kinds of shiny promises on behalf of Slade & Howell.  But Hunter didn’t care. He wasn’t interested in selling any McFall land to some developer who wanted to build a mountain resort. Keep that shit over by Sun Valley if that’s what you had in mind.

Here in Deer Creek Valley and the Boxroot Mountains, McFalls had raised cattle for five generations, and by God, he intended to continue the family legacy until his last breath.

A vehicle came around the bend just as Hunter loosely wrapped Cheyenne’s reins around a rail in the shade of a large cottonwood.  From beneath his wide-brimmed hat, he glowered at the silver Range Rover as it pulled to a stop along the side of the gravel drive.  City people always fancied themselves rugged outdoorsmen when they came out to this neck of Idaho. Yet another reason he wasn’t interested in having a luxury resort anywhere near McFall.

He set his mouth in a firm line and walked toward the SUV.  The driver’s door opened, and a shiny black high-heeled pump emerged, followed by a shapely calf.  Surprised, Hunter stopped, watching as a petite redhead stepped out of the car. Her hair was done up in one of those fancy, efficient updos with a few loose wisps around her face, which was obscured by large designer sunglasses.  Hunter’s eyes zeroed in on sensuously shaped ruby-red lips.

The woman leaned back into the SUV, affording Hunter a view of a nicely rounded ass, neatly packaged in a black pencil skirt.  She emerged a moment later holding a tan leather satchel. Closing the car door, she marched toward him.

“Mr. McFall?”  She stuck out a well-manicured hand, her nails painted the same red as her lips.  “I’m P.K. Chastain. We’ve emailed back and forth?”

Slowly, Hunter reached out and took her tiny hand in his own, suddenly aware of how rough and calloused ranch work made them.

You’re P.K. Chastain?”

The redhead tilted her head and removed the sunglasses, revealing deep chestnut eyes in a shade he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen before.  “You were expecting a man, I suppose.” Her tone was defensive.

“I guess when I heard that a lawyer was coming out here, I just assumed.”

P.K. Chastain narrowed her eyes at him.  “Maybe the news didn’t make it this far out in the boondocks,” she said, one hand holding the satchel, the other a fist on her hip.  “But it’s the 21st century now.  Women get to vote and everything.”

Hunter suppressed a grin, his mustache shifting with the effort.  “Seems I heard tell about something like that,” he drawled for effect.  “Maybe it was the fact that you go by your initials. What does P.K. stand for, anyway?”

He watched her cheeks color slightly as the woman squared her shoulders.  “That’s neither here nor there. Is there someplace we can sit and discuss the generous offer being made to you by Slade & Howell?”

He pursed his lips and watched her for moment.  Then he nodded. “We can meet in my office.” He gestured toward the huge log home that had been in his family for generations.  When he’d been a boy, his grandfather had added an extension to the north end of the house, creating an office from which to run ranch business.

“If we’re going to have a business, my boy, we’d better treat it like one,” the elder Hunter McFall had told his young namesake.

That Hunter McFall had been the first of his family to attend college, and his son and grandson had followed in his footsteps.  They’d taken what had been a rough and tumble ranch and turned it into a successful cattle business, acquiring extra acreage along the way as some of their neighbors failed to keep up with the times.

P.K. Chastain, leather satchel in hand, clipped purposefully across the gravel drive and up the steps to the covered porch that ran the length of the front of the house and around the southern end.  Hunter followed along behind, amused by the turn of events.

At the door, she stopped, allowing him to open it and usher her inside.  Just inside the door, he paused to hang his black felt hat on a rack beside the door.  His mother had always been firm: “No hats in the house.” He supposed that extended to the office as well.

Hunter imagined he could see the office from his guest’s point of view as he inhaled the familiar scent of leather and wood.  Behind the huge reclaimed wood desk, antique branding irons hung in a row from an old board on the wall above a barnwood credenza.  Opposite the desk were a pair of leather wingback chairs. The chairs matched twin oxblood leather chesterfield couches that flanked an antique trunk turned coffee table in the center of the room.

On the opposite end from his desk sat a long wood conference table surrounded by leather club chairs.  Western art from his grandfather’s collection accented the walls and the entire space was crowned by an enormous iron chandelier hung from the peaked roof.

The lawyer glanced around appreciatively.  “It’s lovely,” she murmured.

Hunter nodded.  “Thank you. The original cabin is over a hundred years old, but it’s been added to over the years.  My grandfather added this office extension when he took over the business over forty years ago.”

“Lovely,” she repeated.  She gestured with her satchel.  “Where would you like me to set up?”

Set up?

He shrugged slightly.  “Anywhere you’re most comfortable is fine.”
He watched as the woman’s gaze flitted all around the room before it settled on the conference table.

“That looks good,” she said, and moved in that direction, her high heels clipping against the wide plank floor.

She placed the satchel on the table and opened it, rooting around until she found what she was looking for.  She handed Hunter a glossy-covered booklet, a gorgeous shot of the Boxroot Mountains gracing the front with Boxroot Mountain Resort declared in bold, rustic letters blazing across the cover.
“Please, have a seat,” she gestured to the chair at the head of the table.

Hunter suppressed a smirk at the city woman telling him where to sit in his own office.  Curious to see where this was all leading, he sank into the chair and watched as she dug into the bag once again.

“If you’d like to flip through the prospectus while I get my presentation ready,” she said.  “I won’t be long.” She looked up at him. “You do have wi-fi?”

He nodded.  “Yes, ma’am,” he drawled.  “All the way out here in the boondocks, we have wi-fi and the interwebs.  Why, hell, we even have the dot com.”

She paused her movements to purse her lips at him.  Then she went back to her digging, tucking a few stray red hairs behind her left ear.  From her bag, she extracted a small black cube about the size of a baseball. This she set up on a small tripod on the table, then she went back to rooting around in the satchel.

Hunter tried unsuccessfully to avoid staring at the way her wispy white blouse gapped in the front every time she leaned over the bag.  Ms. Chastain had stellar cleavage. That paired with the nicely rounded ass he’d appreciated outside made her an intriguing distraction from the ordinary.

He didn’t look over the prospectus.  He didn’t need to. He wasn’t interested in selling.  But he’d hear her out. It beat the hell out of rounding up reluctant Herefords.

“Okay.”  She gave him an efficient nod.  “Now that you’ve had a chance to look over the prospectus, let’s get started.”  She pointed a small remote at the black cube on the tripod, and the blank wall at the end of the table lit up with the same image as the one on the booklet in his hands.

“First, let me say thank you for agreeing to meet with me.  I think that by the time we’re finished here today, we’ll have come to an agreement that’s beneficial both to McFall Ranch and to Slade & Howell.”

She picked up her tablet and clicked something.  The image on the wall changed to an animation of a high-end mountain resort, complete with computer-generated people moving in eerily jerky motions in front of a fancy lodge.  As Hunter watched, the scene morphed through four seasons of rustic Idaho.

The lawyer spent the next twenty minutes extolling the virtues of Slade & Howell’s vision of Boxroot Mountain Resort.  Between skiing in the winter and fly fishing in the summer, it would be the ultimate year-round vacation destination this side of the Mississippi River.  It would bring untold revenue to the tiny town of McFall. Resort construction would benefit the existing infrastructure of the entire Deer Creek Valley area.

By the time she was finished the final slide, she was out of breath.  She turned to Hunter.

“Mr. McFall, I am authorized to offer you an amazing compensation package.  If you’ll turn to page 36 of the prospectus…” She stopped, waiting for him to flip through the booklet.

Reluctantly, Hunter found the page she indicated.

“I think you’ll find the offer immensely satisfying.”

Starting at the top, he skimmed down to the number on the bottom line.  He felt his eyes widen before he restored his poker face. He glanced up at the woman who was watching him closely.

She smiled at him confidently.  “And all of that for just the 2,000 acres we’ll need to build the access road.”

Hunter shook his head, swiping his lips with his hand.  It was an obscene amount of money. But that was beside the point.  He had no intention of selling any McFall land. It wasn’t about the money.

He closed the booklet and held it out to her.  “It’s a generous offer. But like I wrote in my emails, the land isn’t for sale.  I’m sorry you wasted your time coming all the way out here.”

She made no move to take the booklet from him.  “You keep that. And take some time to consider the offer.  Obviously, we don’t expect you to make up your mind right away.  It’s a big decision.” She started to pack down her electronics. “I’ll be in McFall until the end of the week.  At the very least, sleep on it. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have, or to clarify anything related to the offer.”

With her satchel repacked, she headed toward the door.  Again, Hunter followed along, enjoying the view.

Outside, the lawyer glanced around, taking in the wide-open pastures and the green forests beyond.  “This really is a beautiful place. I can see why Slade & Howell chose it for their next resort.”

Hunter nodded.  “I suppose. But to me, it’s just home.  And I’d like to keep it that way. An access road across my property is going in the wrong direction.”
Hands in the pockets of his Wranglers, he ambled in the direction of the barn.  Ms. Chastain followed.

“But Mr. McFall, you have sixty thousand acres.”  At his surprised look, she forged ahead. “It’s public record.  Anyway, would 2,000 acres make such a huge difference in the grand scheme of things?”

She walked past him and turned around.  “Think of what you could do with the money.”  She took a step toward him, then looked down, her face twisting into a scowl.  “Oh, for f– Well, shit!”

Hunter followed her gaze.  Ms. Chastain’s right foot was smack in the center of a fresh cow pie.

He couldn’t stop the grin.  “Yes, ma’am, that is indeed shit.”

She nodded angrily.  “Yeah, that’s just hilarious.  These are fucking Jimmy Choos!”  Carefully, she stepped forward. Nearly half the cowpile came with her.  “Shit!”

“Here, let me help you,” Hunter laughed.  He squatted down and gently gripped her calf, lifting her foot much like he would a horse’s.  P.K. Chastain teetered on her left foot before she rested her hand on his shoulder to stabilize herself.  Hunter removed her shoe, revealing a neat pedicure in the same shade as the fingernails and the lips.

“I can clean that up for you,” he told her.  He straightened up and helped her hop to a barrel sitting outside the barn.  Setting down the soiled shoe, he placed his hands on her waist and gently lifted her onto the barrel.  Then he retrieved the shoe. “Won’t take me a second.”

Leather satchel on her lap, the lawyer sat sheepishly on the barrel as Hunter used a rasp to scrape the offending mess from the bottom of the high heeled shoe.  To finish the job, wiped it carefully with the baby wipes he used to groom the horses. When the shoe was nice and clean, he carried it back to her.

She cautiously sniffed it, and Hunter suppressed an amused smile.
“It’s a cattle ranch, Ms. Chastain.  Shit happens.”

“I can see that.”

He took the shoe back from her and gently placed it on her foot before he lifted her down from the barrel.

Feet firmly on clean ground, she straightened her black skirt self-consciously.

 “My apologies for my unprofessional language,” she said, cheeks coloring slightly.  “It’s been a long day. It took me two planes to get from New York to Sun Valley, then it was a two-hour drive from there to McFall, plus an extra half-hour to your ranch.”

Hunter nodded.  “No apologies necessary.  I’ve been known to use colorful language myself.”

He walked her to the Range Rover.  “Are you staying in McFall?”

She opened the car door and dropped her bag on the passenger seat.  “I’m staying at the hotel downtown.”

Again, Hunter found himself suppressing a grin.  The words hotel and downtown were the most generous he’d ever heard to describe the Deer Valley Motor Lodge and the one-stoplight center of McFall.  He wondered if Ms. Chastain had actually seen the motel before she’d booked a room there.  Not that there was any other option short of returning to Sun Valley.

From the driver’s seat, she buzzed down the window.  “Again, thank you for seeing me. I’ll be here until the end of the week.  You have my cell number in the prospectus. And I’ll call you in a couple of days to check in.”

He nodded.  “Yes, ma’am.  But I won’t be changing my mind.”

She smiled confidently.  “At least consider the offer.  I’ll be in touch.”
With that, she buzzed the window back up and headed back down the long drive to the highway.

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE is Book 2 in the Redheads & Ranchers series, a collection of stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels featuring strong ranchers and the sexy redheads they can’t resist.

HUNTER’S PRIDE is due out in June.

In the meantime, check out 5-STAR reviewed JENNY’S VOICE,
the first book in the Redheads & Ranchers series.

One-Click JENNY’S VOICE today!
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Oops! I Did It Again…

JENNY’S VOICE, Redheads & Ranchers Book 1 is out and doing great! And I’m nearly 30k words into the second book in the series, HUNTER’S PRIDE.

So…
The other day, a wild hare struck and I started a new project that has nothing to do with ranchers. It does feature a redhead, because, have we met?!

Take a little sneak peek at the (unedited) first chapter of what I’m tentatively calling Desperate Times.

Two pink lines.
Behind the locked bathroom door, Charley stared in disbelief at the plastic stick in her hands.  Her heart pounded, and she felt tiny beads of sweat forming on her upper lip.
This is really happening, she thought.  Holy shit!

Chapter 1
(six months earlier)

At the tinkling of the bell over the door, Charley Weatherly looked up from the well-worn Charlotte Bronte novel she’d been perusing behind the counter at Once Upon a Bookshop, the dream into which she’d poured her heart and soul and most of her 401k.  

“Hi there, Charley!”  Reggie Baxter had been walking the same mail route since before Charley was born.  The space currently occupied by the bookstore had had numerous incarnations during that time, including a bar and a dry cleaner, among other things.

“Hi, Reggie!  What’s the good news?”  She smiled at the old man.

“The good news is, next Friday is my last day.  I’m retiring.”

“That’s great, Reggie, congratulations!”  Charley accepted the stack of mail he proffered.  “What are your plans?”

“Oh…” With a far-off look in his eye, he leaned back on his heels, shifting the mailbag that was slung over his shoulder.  “First off, I’m going fishing in Florida. After that, who knows?”

Charley grinned good-naturedly.  “Do you really have to go all the way to Florida to go fishing?”

The letter carrier shrugged.  “Never did like the Pacific too much.  Florida fishing is a lot more relaxing.  California’s too uptight.”
Charley had to laugh.  “I’ve never been fishing either place, so I’ll have to take your word for it.”

Grinning, Reggie opened the door and paused.  “How’s your grandmother doing?”

Consciously forcing back a grimace, she smiled.  “She’s doing well, thanks.”

“Tell her I said hello.”

“I will, Reggie.”  She waved as he walked out the door, headed past the front windows of the shop, and passed out of sight.

Enveloped in silence once again, Charley breathed a deep sigh.  Her grandmother hadn’t been doing well for months now. But that wasn’t something she wanted to talk about.  Talking about things made them more real somehow. And she wasn’t ready to face what was happening to her grandmother.

Anymore than she was ready to face the stack of bills Reggie had dropped off.  If she flipped through the pile of envelopes, she’d see ‘Final Notice’ stamped across the fronts of most of them.  But that would ignite the pain in the pit of her stomach, so she opted to sweep them into a drawer beneath the counter, the better to deal with them later.

She gazed around the shop recalling the day three years earlier when she’d first seen the space.  It had been empty for some time, abandoned when a psychic palm reader had gone out of business.

But in the empty and crumbling space, Charley had envisioned shelves full of her favorite books.  She’d majored in English literature at Cal State and following graduation had landed a job as a copywriter with a marketing firm.  

Which she’d hated.  But it had afforded her to save up enough money to walk away three years later and start her dream business, a small boutique bookstore.

She’d created a cozy space with a comfortable seating area near the front windows, places for book lovers like herself to relax and try before they buy.  She’d even scheduled live readings and a few book signings, too, all to try to drum up more business.

But unfortunately, downtown Modesto wasn’t exactly a mecca for the literati.  Those who did like to read tended to head to the Barnes & Noble out on Highway 219.  Or to order their books online.

Which Charley couldn’t fathom.  Walking around the counter, she wandered down the 19th-century romance aisle, dreamily dragging her fingers across the spines of the stories she knew by heart, including a full complement from her namesake Bronte sister, Charlotte.  

How could you tell whether you wanted to read a book without touching it, hefting its weight, flipping the pages to release that divine fresh-paper scent?  
And ebooks?  Charley snorted.  Please! Talk about the Big Macs of the literary world.

Apparently, though, not everyone saw it the way she did.  Foot traffic in the downtown area wasn’t sufficient to bring in the hoards of customers she desperately needed.  She had her regulars, but the reality was that she’d lost money every quarter since she’d been open. Her savings had gone to the purchase and renovation of the storefront, and now her 401k was seriously depleted.  The bills Reggie had brought were all long past due.

Reluctantly, Charley realized it might be time to let go of her dream.  Nana wasn’t getting any better. It had started with little things, misplaced reading glasses and socks put away in the refrigerator.  Now, there were times when she didn’t recognize Charley, or she mistook Charley for her mother, calling her Denise.

Gently, Charley would remind her.  “No, Nana, remember, Mama died a long time ago.”  

The old woman’s face would crumple and she’d break down in tears.  “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“You were there at the funeral, Nana.  Remember? That’s when I came to live with you.”

“Oh, yes, that’s right.  You’re Charley, Denise’s girl.”

“That’s right, Nana.”

She was grateful that the next door neighbor had agreed to check in on her grandmother during the day while Charley was at work.  But that was not a sustainable arrangement. Charley had done some checking into an assisted living facility with a memory care program.  And while it wasn’t cheap, the portion of her 401k she’d squirreled away, along with Nana’s social security, should be enough to get her in.  But to stay long-term?

She rolled her eyes.  That would require Charley to sell the business and go back to work for a company that paid an actual salary and benefits.

Sighing heavily, she turned around and headed back to the counter.  If it stayed quiet for the rest of the day, maybe she’d tweak her resume and upload it to one of those job websites.

DESPERATE TIMES (working title) by Pandora Spocks

There’s no timetable for the release of Desperate Times. I’m still busy working to finish HUNTER’S PRIDE and the third Redheads & Ranchers book, HANNAH’S HEART.

But if you haven’t nabbed your copy of JENNY’S VOICE, it’s available at your favorite online bookseller. One-click yours today!
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Weekend Excerpt–Sneak Peek at Redheads & Ranchers

My current WIP is actually a three-book series called Redheads & Ranchers.  The stand-alone novels will be connected in that they’re about hot ranchers and the redheads they can’t resist.

The first book is called RESCUED BY THE RANCHER.

Earlier this week, I posted this brand new teaser in my Facebook group, Pandora’s Passionista Paradise.   Want to see new stuff before anybody else?  Click the name to join us!

Here’s the new teaser…

Cole felt a familiar sense of relief settle over him as he locked the gate behind the horse trailer and climbed back into the cab of the truck. Arriving home at the ranch where he’d grown up, locking out the world at large, always gave him a feeling of peace.

It was home. He couldn’t put it more simply than that. It was where he’d spent his entire life, with the exception of the time he spent in the Marines. Following a year in Afghanistan, he’d worked out the remainder of his enlistment in Bridgeport, where he’d trained horses and soldiers for combat missions. He’d been thrilled to be back in the saddle, and the fact that home was a short couple of hours away had been the cherry on top.

When his enlistment had ended, he’d returned to the ranch and built his reputation as an in-demand horse trainer. Happy that Cole was back in the fold, his parents had sold some stocks and retired to Santa Fe, leaving him in charge of the ranch. His older sister Beth had been more than happy with that turn of events. As much as she’d loved growing up in the country, she was far happier living in San Francisco and pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Cole pulled up in front of the white barn, put the truck in park, and turned off the ignition. He climbed down and closed the door, heading to the back of the trailer.

“Here we are, Dahlia. We’ll get you all brushed, then we’ll put you in your new stall. Your supper’s already there.” As the sun slid lower in the sky, Cole sighed, glad he’d thought ahead to prepare the stall early that morning before heading west to Carmel Valley. He was tired, and ready to be home.

He unlocked the tailgate and lowered it, starting to step inside when he froze. Someone was crouched down in the front of the trailer. Instantly, his senses snapped to high alert.

With two determined strides, he covered the distance between himself and the stranger, who was completely covered in his own black hoodie. “What the hell are you doing in my trailer?” he growled, reaching to grasp the front of the jacket and lift the person off the floor, pressing whoever it was hard against the wall of the trailer.

He heard a soft gasp as he used his free hand to whip off the hood, revealing a young woman, her red hair matted down from the hood, her face swollen and bruised. One eye was completely swollen shut, while the other, the most piercing shade of green, stared back at him in stark terror.

“Holy shit,” he muttered, gently setting her down on what he realized were bare feet. “Are you okay? How did you get in here?”

The woman just stared at him in silence, her battered mouth gaping in a silent scream.

Frustrated, Cole lifted his hat and ran a hand through his dark brown hair. “I didn’t mean to scare you, I was just startled, is all.” Glancing down, he saw that his jacket extended to the middle of her thighs, and her legs were as bare as her feet. Fleetingly, he wondered if she was dressed at all.

He reached toward her and she flinched, gasping again. “Easy now,” he murmured, “I’m not going to hurt you.” He placed a hand on her shoulder and felt her quaking, whether from the chill of the late March afternoon, or from fear, he couldn’t say.

“Are you okay?” He leaned down, searching her good eye for some sign of communication. She just stood shaking.

Cole blew out an exasperated breath. “Okay, I have to get this horse settled. After that, we can try to sort things out. As long as you’re okay. Are you hurt anywhere besides your face?”

Her swelled lips were closed now, and she trembled violently, but she made no effort to respond to him.

“Fuck it,” he breathed. “We’re going to put you in the truck,” he told her. “We’ll turn on the heat and get you warmed up while I take care of Dahlia, here.”

Carefully, with an arm around her waist and his other hand on her shoulder, he guided her out of the trailer and to the passenger door of the truck’s cab. He opened the door and lifted her onto the seat. She was so light, like a little bird or something, he mused.

Hurrying around to the driver’s side, he started the truck and turned the heat on full blast. Then he looked back to her.

“Are you thirsty? Can I get you some water?” He reached into the small cooler he’d put behind his seat and pulled out a bottled water. When he held it out to her, she snatched at it, using shaky hands to try to open it. She couldn’t manage it so he took it, unscrewing the cap and handing it back to her. Shakily, with both hands she lifted the bottle to her lips and drank greedily, spilling some down the front of herself. She’d drained the bottle in no time, and Cole handed her a second one after he’d loosened the cap for her. She fixed him with her bright green eye and nodded in thanks.

He nodded, too. “Okay, you stay here and get warm. I’ll take care of the horses, then we can go to the house and figure things out.”

He closed the door and headed back to get Dahlia out of the trailer, but his mind was racing. Who is she? What happened to her? How did she get into the trailer?

He led Dahlia to an empty stall between two other horses. She offered light resistance until she was inside, where she stood still long enough for him to remove the rope halter. He spoke soothingly to the horse as he offered her a bucket of feed.

From inside the barn, Cole could see the young woman in the truck. She’d pulled the hood back up, and she stared straight ahead, sipping the water. From his vantage point, he saw the right, unbattered side of her face. Apparently, she’d been beaten by someone who was right-handed.
Beaten. The idea of someone laying hands on this woman made his blood boil. He took a deep breath and tried to consider the situation logically.

Clearly, she’s been assaulted. By? Cole shrugged. Her husband? A boyfriend?
He chewed on that idea for a moment. A domestic abuse situation makes sense. So when did she get into the trailer?

Hanging buckets of feed in the other stalls, he considered the question. I stopped twice after leaving Meredith and Carmel Valley. Once for lunch. The other time, for gas about half an hour before we got back to the ranch.

He shook his head. When I stopped for gas, I paid at the pump. I never left the truck. It had to have been at the truck stop.

He rubbed a hand across his mouth and looked back toward the truck. The woman was resting her head against the passenger window.

He distributed fresh hay into each stall, running the scenario in his mind. She was beaten, and she ran away. He thought of her bare feet. So fast, she didn’t even bother with shoes. She was in a hurry to get away, so she climbed into the horse trailer, hoping to be taken away from the person hurting her.

Putting away the wheelbarrow, he glanced back at the woman in the truck. So now what?

I’m hoping RESCUED BY THE RANCHER will be out before the end of the year, with books 2 and 3 to follow.

In the meantime, have you read the Dream Dominant Collection?  It’s a series of four stand-alone novels featuring a light BDSM theme–hot Alpha males and the sassy subs they can’t resist.

Start with LUKE & BELLA, Dream Dominant Book 1,
available at your favorite online bookseller.
books2read.com/LukeAndBella1

Weekend Excerpt–Now That Warrior Mine is Out…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Besides, Victor is looking for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blushing slightly, she smiled, nodding.  Really well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She pointed to the mustard.

“Not a fan of mayo?”

She shook her head, wrinkling her nose.

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

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

Just…don’t, she cautioned herself.

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

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

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

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

She shook her head furiously.

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

She looked down and smiled in spite of herself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The release date for Voices is TBD.

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