Weekend Excerpt–So I Started a New WIP

ashlan green dress

WARRIOR MINE, the spin-off from LOST & BOUND, is still in the works, as is another book tentatively called VOICES.  But this week, I had to chase a new wild hare, and it’s different from anything I’ve written before.

Working title LADY ASHLAN’S RETURN, it’s a medieval erotic romance.  While it seems like a big challenge, I’m really excited about this story.  Briefly, it’s about a noble woman who was shipped off against her will as a teenager, and who returns after eighteen years, seeking vengeance on those who wrecked her life.

Here’s the first chapter of LADY ASHLAN’S RETURN.

A warm sea breeze ruffled her worn grey habit, and her once-white wimple fluttered behind her as Ashlan’s eyes were drawn to the shoreline and the city growing on the horizon.  She gripped the wooden railing and nodded to herself. Eighteen years is a long time.

“Is that Haedleigh, Sister Anne?”

Ashlan turned to see Luella standing beside her.  “It is.  Isn’t it the most beautiful sight you’ve ever beheld?”

Luella’s expression was skeptical.  “If you say so, my lady.”

Ashlan gazed across the blue water once again as the sun began to descend in the distance.  “Dash it all, by the time we land it will be nearly dark.  Finding proper lodgings will be difficult.  We should have arrived a week ago.”

If she wanted to be fair, the delay hadn’t been the captain’s fault.  Stormy weather had caused them to veer out of their way.  But Ashlan had waited long enough and she wasn’t in the mood to be fair.

“Come, Luella.  It is time that we got ready to introduce ourselves to Haedleigh.”

Below deck in their tiny cabin, Luella helped Ashlan remove the whimple and faded habit.  Freed from the confines of the modest ensemble, Ashlan shook out her thick red locks and sighed deeply.

“The purple, I think, Luella,” she directed.

“Yes, my lady.”  From the large trunk Luella removed the necessary underthings and the sleek purple silk gown before helping her mistress dress.  While the girl brushed out Ashlan’s long red hair, Ashlan watched herself in the small mirror they’d managed to bring with them.  Her mind drifted to that night so long ago when she’d worn a similar gown for Lord Howell’s tournament banquet.

“Hurry, Arabella, we’re going to be late!”

            “Ladies are supposed to be late, don’t you know that?”  Young Lady Arabella Stewart rolled her eyes for effect.

            “I don’t want to miss anything,” Ashlan insisted.  At age sixteen, she was a lady-in-waiting to Lady Arabella, who was promised to Lord Alistair Risley. 

            But she, Ashlan, was promised to no one.  Her father, Lord Mereck Balleroy, hadn’t bothered himself to make arrangements for his only daughter, instead focusing his attention on her older brother, Andrew, who would one day be his heir.

            “Did you see Lord Henry?” Ashlan prattled.  “He’s ever so handsome.”

            “And promised to Catherine Addington,” her friend reminded her. 

            “Well they aren’t married yet,” Ashlan countered.

            “You really are so naughty,” Arabella giggled.

            Hand in hand, the pair left their chambers and made their way to the enormous banquet hall of Bexley Keep.  They stopped just inside the door to get their bearings and gaze in wonder at the sight.  The cavernous room, hung with floral garlands and lit with thousands of candles, was filled with knights the girls recognized from the tournament, as well as the noble lords and ladies who’d attended the spectacle.  On the far side of the hall, a group of musicians played music for dancing.

Heads turned their way as they entered, with revelers staring at the pair, Arabella, dressed in a forest green silk frock that matched her eyes, her blonde hair cascading in ringlets down her back, and Ashlan, her long red curls nicely set off by her deep purple gown. 

            Arabella had been the one to choose purple for Ashlan.  “It goes with your eyes,” she’d told her friend as the dressmaker had fawned over both girls. 

Once dressed, Ashlan had checked her image in the looking glass and she’d been inordinately pleased.  The deep purple silk of the gown accented her violet eyes, a trait shared by the majority of Balleroys down through the generations. 

            In the entry of the banquet hall, while Arabella seemed unaware of the stares they garnered, Ashlan reveled in them.  She wasn’t so bold as to think of herself beautiful, but she knew that she attracted the attention of the men in the room. 

There were those who considered red hair a curse but Ashlan adored it, knowing that paired with her violet eyes, her ginger locks made her quite unique. 

            She also knew that she’d been blessed with a plenteous bosom that caused no end of stares, particularly in the scoop-necked ball gown skillfully sewn by Arabella’s dressmaker.  Ashlan furtively glanced down at her creamy mounds bulging from top the snug bodice and stood straighter, pressing them out further. 

            “There you are, you two,” exclaimed Arabella’s brother, Lord Bryce Stewart.  Older than his sister, he was of similar coloring, and quite handsome, a thought Ashlan hadn’t shared with Arabella.  “Come sit at table before you give the older lords heart failure.”

“Pardon, my lady.  What shall I do with these?” Luella asked, bringing Ashlan back to the present.  The maid held out the threadbare garments.

Ashlan wrinkled her nose.  “Toss them overboard for all I care.  Sister Anne is gone.  Lady Ashlan Balleroy has returned.”

I have no timeline for the release of LADY ASHLAN’S RETURN.  The next book out will be WARRIOR MINE.  But until there’s a new release, be sure to stop by my Amazon Author Page.  You just might find something you’ll love.

Weekend Excerpt–Work In Progress: Warrior Mine

Fun Fact: Initially, the working title for my current Work In Progress was LOSTer & BOUNDer, LOL.  That’s because it’s a spin-off from Lost & Bound, the second book in the Dream Dominant Collection.  Warrior Mine tells the story of Scott Nielsen, Blake’s friend and mentor in the Lifestyle, and Jackie Walker Fox, Blake’s sister.

The Dream Dominant books are all stand-alone contemporary erotic romance novels with a light BDSM theme, and they feature sexy, Dominant Alpha males and the strong red-haired submissives they can’t resist.

Warrior Mine will still be stand-alone, although the story of Scott and Jackie does intersect with that of Jackie’s brother Blake and his baby girl, Shasta.  It also breaks rank with a typical Dream Dominant in that Jackie is a sexy brunette.

For this weekend’s excerpt, here’s a little (unedited) teaser from Warrior Mine.

As Scott circled Lake Miranda, he felt an odd sense of the familiar.  He’d never been there before, as much as he and Blake had talked about it over the years.  But he supposed that one lake was pretty much the same as the others in this part of the country.

This particular lake was uninhabited, save for the lodge he’d spied as he’d flown over.  He supposed the cabins Blake had described were hidden beneath the thick forest of trees.  One unique feature Lake Miranda had was the small island about a third of the way between the lodge and the western shore.

He made his descent to the surface of the lake, carefully avoiding the island.  As he motored toward the lodge, he saw two women walk out onto the dock, watching his approach.  One of the women, the brunette, spoke, and two children he hadn’t noticed stood and went into the house.

The other woman had bright red hair.  That must be Blake’s Amy, he reasoned.  Which would make the brunette Blake’s sister Jackie?

He cut the engine and instantly the world was quiet once more.  He hung up his headphones and opened his door, stepping carefully onto the pontoon below.  Jackie, hands on her hips, continued to stare in his direction.  Scott used a paddle to move the plane closer to the dock.

“No.”  Jackie’s voice was adamant.  “You can’t be here.  Just go on back to wherever you came from, this is a private dock.”

“But,” Scott began.

“Nope, no buts.  You’ll have to go now.”  Jackie planted her feet shoulder-width apart and crossed her arms.

“I talked to Blake a couple of weeks ago, told him I’d be stopping by.”  He tried his most reassuring smile.

“Wait are you Scott?” the redhead asked.

“I’m Scott Nielsen,” he grinned.  “I used to work with Blake.  You must be Amy?”

Scott watched as Jackie moved in front of Amy.  For her part, Amy seemed a bit surprised.  “Um, yes,” she frowned.  “Blake told you about me?”

Scott laughed.  “We’re pretty tight, Blake and I.  He’s like the little brother I never knew I wanted.”  He laughed again, trying to ease the tension.

“And I guess that makes you Jackie.”  Holding the line to the plane, he stepped onto the dock, moved the sunglasses to the top of his head, and offered his hand.  “Scott Nielsen.  Sorry I just barged in on you like this.  I sort of thought Blake would be here.”


Ten minutes later, Scott was seated at the kitchen table.  He gratefully accepted the glass of iced tea Jackie offered.  “So there was some trouble?” he prompted.

“Oh, that, well…”  Jackie cautiously looked to the other woman.

“Someone was here trespassing yesterday,” Amy explained.  “Blake had gone to pick up Jackie and the kids at the airport.  I was here alone, but I’d taken Bear and gone across the lake.”

Scott knew Blake’s dog from the many photos he’d seen.  He frowned slightly.  “Did they steal anything, or what?”

Again, Jackie looked to Amy as if posing a silent question.  The redhead nodded.  Jackie turned to Scott.  “We think they were photographers trying to get to Amy.”

Scott assessed Amy thoughtfully.  He’d thought she looked familiar.  “You’re Shasta Pyke, the actress,” he said softly.

The redhead nodded.  “I’m Amy, really.  Shasta’s just…  Well, it’s just a stage name.  Anyway, we think they might have been looking for me.  That’s why, when you pulled up, we thought you might be them.”

He turned to Jackie, eyeing her with renewed respect.  “You weren’t going to let just anybody roll up in here, were you?  You’re a pretty tough lady.”

Jackie colored slightly.  “I felt responsible to keep her safe.  I guess we’re all a little on edge over the trespassing.  It’s never been a problem before.”

Just then, they heard the front door open.  “Hello?  Amy?  Jackie?  Where is everybody?” Blake called.  A moment later, he strode into the kitchen.

Scott looked up from the kitchen table where he sat between Jackie and Shasta.  “What’s up, my brother?” he grinned.  “I’ve just been getting acquainted with your lovely sister.  And your lovely lady.”

“Holy shit, I couldn’t imagine whose plane that was.”  As Blake closed the distance between them, Scott stood, and the two embraced each other.  “It’s been too long, man.”

“That it has.  That it has.”  Scott grinned mischievously.  “Wanna see my new ride?”

I’m aiming for a May release for Warrior Mine.

Until then, you can get Lost & Bound at this link:
books2read.com/LostandBound

Lost & Bound new cover 2

Weekend Excerpt–Unintentional Work In Progress

With my newest book Chasing Ordinary officially launched and doing well, I’ve started my next one, the fourth Dream Dominant tentatively called Warrior Mine.  It’s a spin-off from Lost & Bound, and already 20k words in, I’m getting excited about this book.  It’s the story of Blake’s friend Scott, and his romance with Blake’s sister, Jackie.

I don’t own these images, they’re from Pinterest, but they’re from my Warrior Mine board.  Follow me there to get insight into my inspirations for my stories.

But…

For the last week or so, I’ve had a different story in my mind that I just can’t let go of, so I’ve begun writing a new story I’m calling Voices for now.  I added it to my Teasers tab, but for some reason it doesn’t show up.  I thought I’d share the first chapter.

RUN!  Every fiber of her being screamed at her, willing her to shake off the fog that veiled her mind, willing her to save herself. 

bigstock--209735947 Jenny Danvers shakily pushed herself into a sitting position in the back seat of the black SUV, ignoring the pulsing of her swollen left eye, trying desperately to focus with her right one as she peered through the dark-tinted windows.

Her minders, Slater and Wilcox (she had no idea of their first names, nor did she care to know) had left her in the back seat of the SUV when they’d gone into the truck stop for a bite to eat.  They’d assumed she was unconscious, which she had been, momentarily knocked out by Slater’s right jab to the right side of her face.

This after backhanding her across the mouth.  Tentatively, she pushed her tongue toward her puffy lip, her mouth filled with the harsh metallic tang of her own blood.  Her teeth seemed to be intact, no thanks to Slater’s meaty blow.

All because she’d fought him.  And she’d do it again.  Every time.

She might have no say when it came to Victor Sorkin, when he summoned her in the middle of the odd night, or when he gifted her to certain esteemed business associates.  But she’d be goddamned if she’d allow Victor’s slimy minions to presume to take their fill of her.

The trio been on their way from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  An arms dealer with whom Victor wanted to do business was staying at the Four Seasons.  Jenny was meant to be a good-will offering for the weekend.

Currently, she had a bigger problem, though.

“Now what are you going to do?” Wilcox had whined.  Jenny, her head pounding, had feigned unconsciousness.

“She’s all beat up.  We can’t take her to San Francisco like that.  And we can’t take her back to Mr. Sorkin, either.  He’ll want to know what happened.”

“She’s not going to tell him anything,” Slater had snarled.

“But what will you tell him?” Wilcox had wondered.

Slater had growled and punched the dashboard.  “Stupid retard cunt!  Kicked me in the balls so hard, I still can’t breathe right.”

“What are we going to do?”

Squinting through her good eye, Jenny had seen Slater turn to look at her.  “We’ll have to kill her.”

“We?!  What the hell are you talking about?  I didn’t touch her,” Wilcox had squeaked.

“What happens if we take her to San Francisco?  Hauer calls Sorkin to complain about the merchandise.  And Sorkin kills us.” 

He’d glared at Wilcox, daring him to contradict him.  “What happens if we take her back to LA like that?  Sorkin kills us.” 

He’d shaken his head.  “It’s the only way.  We drive all the way to San Francisco.  Because he’ll be tracking us on GPS.  We stay in front of the hotel long enough to have taken her upstairs.  Then we go to our hotel.  We’ll rent a car, take her out into the boondocks, and get rid of her.”

“But Hauer will call to complain that she never got there,” Wilcox had reasoned.

“We’ll say he’s lying.  We’ll say we delivered the girl.  Then it’s all on Hauer.”

Wilcox had nodded slowly.  “It might just work.”

“Come on,” Slater had said, with one last glance into the backseat.  “Let’s go get something to eat and work out the details.  The bitch is out cold anyway.”

After the pair had left, Jenny had forced herself to remain motionless, counting to a thousand before opening her eyes.  By now, her left eye was swelled completely shut, and her lip felt as though it was ten times its normal size.

She had to get out.  They’d be back any minute.  If she rode with them to San Francisco, there would be no escape.  This was her only chance.  She supposed she should count her lucky stars Victor had decided for them to drive rather than fly.

The cloudy day threatened rain, but so far, the day had been dry.  With the midday sun obscured by clouds as it was, Jenny wasn’t certain of the time, but she’d guess early afternoon.  The truck stop was busy, with semis and all sorts of vehicles entering and leaving constantly.

Across the lot, she saw a cowboy in a straw hat checking on a horse in a vintage turquoise and white horse trailer pulled behind a silver pick-up truck.  Seemingly satisfied with the horse’s well-being, he turned and walked across the lot, passing her as she watched from the SUV, and headed inside the restaurant.

GO! her brain screamed at her.

She looked down at herself.  She was not dressed for walking around a truck stop.  In her slinky club dress with its halter top and micro-mini skirt, she was more suited for the function she was expected to perform.

Not any more, Victor.  She kicked off the silver stilettos and glanced toward the restaurant.  She couldn’t see Slater or Wilcox in the window booths.  It seemed safe to assume they were seated further inside.

Carefully, she opened the door and stepped barefoot onto the pavement.  The day was cool, and she instantly felt chilled.  She closed the door quietly, and head down, she moved in the direction of the horse trailer.

Once she got there, she looked around the parking lot.  Everyone seemed to be preoccupied with their own business.  On her tiptoes, she peered into the trailer.  Only one of the two stalls was occupied.  She tried the tailgate hopefully, but it was locked.  Glancing around again, she saw that the lot was briefly empty of people.  She stepped up onto the bumper, reached the top of the tailgate, and pushed herself up.  With one last glance over her shoulder, she leaned forward, tumbling headfirst into the trailer.

The horse, a large brown and white spotted Appaloosa, whinnied in protest, stomping her feet and pulling at the rope tethering her to the front of the trailer.

Carefully avoiding the stomping hooves, Jenny crab-scrambled backwards to the front wall of the trailer.  A large black jacket hung from a hook, and she jerked it down, slipping it on and zipping up the front.

The jacket was huge, probably meant for someone the size of the cowboy she’d seen, but it was warm.  She tucked her knees under her chin and pulled the jacket down over her bare legs and feet, pulling the hood over her head.

Come on, come on.  She willed her heart to stop pounding as she waited for the cowboy to come back and drive them away from the truck stop.

So apparently, I’m currently writing two books, LOL!

Chasing Ordinary, and my other books, including Lost & Bound,
are available at my
Amazon Author Page.

Weekend Excerpt–WIP: Chasing Ordinary

Sexy portrait of a young confident businessmanRed-haired Petey Cavanaugh is a sculptor who welds steel and glass creations.  A young widow, she lives on her in-laws’ sheep ranch in Montana where she helps out during the day, working on her art at night.

Looking to raise money to expand the ranch’s business, she gratefully accepts her art school roommate’s offer of a gallery show in Manhattan.  It’s been years since she was in the city, and she’s happy to visit her old friend.

Nik is in New York on business.  He’s been traveling for nearly a month, enduring endless meetings, attending obligatory dinners, and battling jet-lag.  On his way to yet another business dinner, he meets Petey.

The mutual attraction is immediate, but Nik’s skeptical.  Could it possibly be that this gorgeous, enchanting artist has no idea that he’s Europe’s most eligible prince?

Spending time with Petey is Nik’s first-ever taste of ordinary.  What will happen when she finds out the truth?

Chasing Ordinary is my current work in progress.  I had hoped to have it ready for release by now, but it won’t be much longer.  This week’s excerpt gives you a little glimpse.

Howard had been talking nonstop for twenty minutes.  Each time Petey thought she’d found the opportunity to extricate herself, he continued his rambling, while edging ever closer, invading her personal space, and chatting about his work and his home in New Jersey.  He seemed to be one of those individuals who was completely inept at picking up on social cues.

She’d just worked up the gumption to simply excuse herself the next time he came up for air, when she heard a familiar voice.

There you are, darling!”  Nik swooped in, handing her a glass of wine.  “I’m so sorry I’m late.  Will you ever forgive me?”  He wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her cheek.

Stunned, Petey stammered a bit.  “Um, yes.  Well…darling, yes, you certainly are late.  What’s up with that?  I’ve been waiting for you.”

“I know.  But traffic was a nightmare, what with the rain.  You just wouldn’t believe it.”  Nik turned to Howard.  “Who’s your friend?”  He smiled pleasantly at the confused man.

“Oh, sorry.  Nik, this is Howard.  Howard, meet Nik.”

Howard worked his mouth, but was blissfully silent.

Nik reached to shake his hand.  “So nice to meet you.  If you’ll excuse us, I need to make up for lost time.  Come, darling.”

He grasped Petey’s hand and led her to the opposite side of the gallery.  When they reached a quiet corner, he turned and smiled at her.

She gave a relieved laugh.  “Oh, my God, for the second time tonight, you saved my bacon.”

Nik laughed, too.  “The exasperation on your face said that you needed rescuing.  Who was he anyway?”

“Some guy that my friend Jules thought I should meet.  I mean, he’s nice enough, but he had absolutely no sense of personal space.  And he would not stop talking.  Sheesh!”

“He’s probably just shy in the presence of such a pretty woman.”  Nik’s blue eyes sparkled.

Petey rolled her eyes.  “Yes, I’m sure that’s it,” she said sarcastically.  “I guess you ditched your business dinner?”

Nik nodded. “I did.”

She eyed him curiously.  “What kind of business are you in?”

He paused a beat.  “I’m in international finance and development.”

Warmth flooded her face, and she knew she was blushing.  A sheepish smile curled her lips.  “I have no idea what that means.”

He smiled, too.  “I travel and meet with business people, mostly, occasionally politicians, and we discuss ways to improve our national economies, and ways to assist developing economies as well.”

“Oh.  I’m sure Jules would understand completely.  She has a sharp business mind.  I’m just so,” she gave a self-deprecating chuckle, “right-brained.”

She fanned herself lightly with her hand.  “So, you’d had enough of finances and development for one night?”

Nik nodded agreeably.  “I’ve worked all day.  As I sat listening to more business conversation, all I could think was that I’d like to attend the gallery opening of a promising young sculptor.”

Petey’s eyes sparkled mischievously.  “Well, if I hear of any, I’ll let you know.”  They both laughed together.

“I just watched your video.  Such an interesting way to introduce yourself to patrons.”

“Oh, that.”  Petey blushed.  “Jules flew out to Montana a couple of months ago.  She hired a film crew to follow me for a day, do interviews and stuff.  Then they just put it together.”

He regarded her curiously, eyes sparkling.  “What are the chances you’d give me a guided tour of this incredible exhibit?”

She pretended to consider his request.  “Well, you did see to it that I was put back together after being blasted by that tidal wave.   And, you rescued me from being talked to death by a close-talking dentist.  I’d say your odds are pretty good.”  She laughed.  “I think bringing me a glass of wine put you over the top, though.”

Nik laughed, too.  “Lucky for me, then.”

“Lucky for you.  Okay, let’s take a tour.”

Want to keep up on the latest news about the release of Chasing Ordinary?  My Passionistas hear everything first.  You can join Pandora’s Passionista Paradise on Facebook.

Weekend Excerpt–Mystery Package from Spain

For this weekend’s excerpt, I’m pulling from the old Teasers tab.  The Teasers are a collection of the first chapters of ‘to-be-written’ stories I haven’t gotten around to yet.  This one is tentatively called Callie’s Freedom, and I got the idea for this heartfelt contemporary erotic romance from a magical trip I once took to France and Spain.

See what you think.

roman-kraft-208004

 

 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 need to get back to this story one day.  For now, check out my other books at my Amazon Page, or your favorite online bookseller.

Weekend Excerpt–New WIP

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.”

CHASING ORDINARY has a tentative release date of January 2, 2018.
Until then, head over to my Amazon Author Page
to find your next sexy read.

Weekend Excerpt–Invisible

Here’s a little something different for this weekend’s excerpt.  Rather than posting a snippet from a book that’s currently (or soon to be) available, I’m digging into the Teasers archive on my website.

Sometimes when I’m busy working on my latest project, an idea pops into my head and I just can’t shake it.  Afraid I’ll forget, I’ll chase the wild hare and get a chapter or two banged out, then go back to what I’m supposed to be working on.

Under the Teasers tab, you’ll find these barely started stories.  My current WIP and next release, For Sparrow, has its beginning there.  This one is called Invisible, and it’s in the pipeline to be finished in the near future.

invisible

Henry sat across the table watching her devour his hamburger and fries.  When he’d asked, she’d said she wasn’t hungry, but when his food arrived, she hadn’t been able to take her eyes off of it.

     The impromptu meal started when he’d asked if he could buy her a coffee.  It seemed a small thing, seeing how she’d rescued him from an embarrassing predicament.  He never should have tried to go after Joanne.  He’d been a fool.  She hadn’t just now decided to break up with him, it had been brewing for a while.
     He’d found himself trapped in the door of her building, the sleeve of his overcoat caught when it slammed shut.  He’d pulled and tugged, kicking at the door, but to no avail.  He couldn’t even manage to take the damn thing off and the driving rain was soaking him anyway.
     That’s when she’d appeared.  “Are you stuck?” she’d called to him up the steps.
     “No, I enjoy standing in the rain!” he’d fired back.
     She’d shaken her head and bounded up the steps, pulling her soaked black fleece hoodie tighter around herself.  “No reason to be an asshole,” she’d muttered.  She’d begun pressing all of the buttons beside the door.  “Let me in!  It’s rainin’ out here!”  The door had buzzed and he was free.  She’d given an exaggerated bow and hurried down the steps, stopping under the awning of the building next door.
     Sheepishly, Henry had followed, standing beside her under the awning.  She’d glanced down at him then resumed looking out at the rain.  “I’m sorry,” he’d said.  “I didn’t mean to be an asshole.”  She’d continued staring toward the street.  “Can I buy you a coffee?  My way of saying thanks.”
     She’d looked back at him again seeming to think for a moment.  Finally she’d sighed.  “I guess I’m not goin’ anywhere until it stops rainin’ anyways,” she’d said.  That was when he’d noticed her drawl.  She certainly wasn’t from around here.
     She must be homeless, he guessed.  He figured her to be in her early twenties, twenty-three tops.  She was pretty, too, as far as he could tell.  Her long wet hair was plastered to her head, but it seemed to be red.  She had huge blue eyes that were watchful, flitting all around the room as she ate.  He’d never seen a woman eat like that.  And she was skinny, too.  “I’m Henry, by the way,” he told her.
     She paused, french fry halfway to her mouth.  “I’m Shelby.”  She chewed thoughtfully and swallowed.  “What were you doing stuck in that door, Henry?”
     He looked down at his hands.  “Acting like a fool, I suppose.”
     She smiled knowingly.  “It was a girl,” she said definitely.  Henry declined to answer.  “So what do you do, Henry?”
     “I’m a professor of English Literature at Columbia,” he answered.
     Shelby’s already large eyes grew bigger.  “No shit?” she said softly, and she laughed to herself.
     Henry felt his temper rising.  Having been born with dwarfism, he’d faced ridicule all his life.  “What, is it so unbelievable that someone like me could be a university professor?” he demanded.
     Shelby stopped laughing.  “That’s a hell of a chip on your shoulder, there.  A chip that big ought to have its own name.”  She shook her head.  
     “What I meant was, who would have thought that someone like me would ever meet a professor, let alone sit and have dinner with him?”
     “What do you mean, someone like you?” he asked, realizing that he owed her another apology.
     She shrugged.  “I’m not very smart,” she said simply.  “I never even finished the eighth grade.  I don’t even know anybody who went to college, let alone anybody who teaches there.”
     Henry let that thought sink in.  I’m not very smart.  “Where are you from, Shelby?”
     She shook her head, grinning.  “You never heard of it.”
     “Try me.”
     “I’m from Pine Grove, West Virginia,” she said, watching him carefully.
     Henry smiled slowly.  “You’re right, I never heard of it.”
     She laughed.  “Count yourself lucky, then.  It’s smack in the middle of nowhere.  Everybody there works at the Hastings plant, processing natural gas.  They actually have red lights to stop the cars about a mile away from the plant, just in case the shit hits the fan.”
     Henry nodded.  “Is that why you left?  You didn’t want to work in the plant?”
     Shelby looked him dead in the eye.  “I left in the middle of eighth grade because I was tired of getting fucked by my mama’s boyfriends.”  She paused.  “I figured if I was going to be doing it anyway, I might as well be getting paid for it.”
     Henry’s eyes widened.  “You’re a…” he stopped.
     She narrowed her eyes.  “Now who’s judging?” she asked.
     Henry backpedaled.  “No, I mean, I just…”
    “I don’t do that anymore.  I quit three years ago.  I have a new gig,” she said.  “I take pictures.”  Henry noticed that she pronounced it pitchers.  “I have a friend who sells postcards and shit to the tourists.  He sells my postcards and splits the profits with me.”
     “Really?” Henry said thoughtfully.
     “I have a nice camera,” she said, for the first time opening up her jacket to reveal a small camera bag.  She placed it on the table, opening it carefully.  “It’s mine, I bought it at a pawn shop,” she said, slightly defensively.
     Henry looked over the camera appreciatively before handing it back to her.  “It’s very nice,” he said.
     “That’s why I came uptown.  Somebody told me that I’d like to take pictures at Columbia.  Said there’s cool buildings there.  I was pissed off and not thinkin’ straight.  It was dark by the time I got here.  Plus I didn’t know it was going to rain.  I wasted a whole damn trip for nothing.”
     “Where do you live?” Henry wondered.    
     Shelby rolled her eyes.  “Long story,” she said, “but when I’m in between places, I usually stay at Grand Central.”  He thought of the train station.  “It’s pretty clean, and you can leave your stuff in a locker for two weeks before you have to move it.  There’s a guy who lets me clear tables for a few dollars.  Plus, you can eat what people leave on the trays.  You wouldn’t believe how much food people just waste.”
     Henry listened, astounded.  He’d never known a moment when he didn’t know where his next meal was coming from.  “So you came uptown to take pictures at the university?”
     “Yeah,” she said around another mouthful.  “Kind of stupid, I guess.  It was too late to begin with and then when I came out of the subway the bottom just fell out of the sky.”
     “So are you going to go back to Grand Central?” he probed.
     Shelby shrugged.  “I guess so.  I’d better hurry, though.  The good places get taken early.”
     Henry sat back in his seat, picturing Shelby stalking through the train station dripping wet, trying to find a good place to settle down for the night.  His own words surprised him.  “You could stay with me for the night.  I’ll take you to the university in the morning, give you a tour.”
     Shelby’s eyes narrowed.  “I don’t fuck for a place to sleep.”
     Henry blushed furiously.  “God, no!  That’s not what I meant at all,” he stammered.  “I just thought, you’re all the way here, you’re soaked, it’ll take you, what, another hour to get back to Grand Central.  What if you can’t find a place?”  He cleared his throat.  “I’m just saying you could stay on my couch, go with me to work tomorrow.  You can get your pictures and get back at a reasonable time.”
     Shelby popped the last bite of hamburger into her mouth, gazing steadily at Henry.  “Okay,” she finally said.
Invisible won’t be part of the Dream Dominant Collection.  It’s going to be more spicy vanilla, like Rannigan’s Redemption and Just One Night.
This is the one my husband wants me to finish, and I will.  But for now, you can head over to my Amazon page for my books that are currently available.