First Chapter of One Smokin’ Night


This is not the weekend I’d scrimped and saved for. This weekend was supposed to be about me and my former college housemates getting together in the city where we had attended the university to celebrate Riva’s thirtieth birthday. The plan included indulging ourselves in a spa day, then a night of club-hopping, a day of shopping, eating, just enjoying each other’s company. Riva is the first of us to turn thirty, which may be why she was always our little mother hen.

But now she’s gone off to the emergency room with her ex after he got punched in the face by some rando.

Maya and Chelsea have been MIA since the first club.

Autumn met some dude in another club and told us to go on without her.

So it’s down to me, Spencer and Diane. Spencer told us she’s pregnant, and Diane had the idea to drive out to confront the baby daddy, who is none other than Lincoln Gentry. Yes, that Lincoln Gentry, the self-made billionaire who dated Alanna Davila for like a year and was on the cover of all the tabloids.

How do I know this? I work the night shift at the grocery store and I see all the tabloids at the register.

Anyway, apparently Lincoln got my friend Spencer pregnant, and when she told him, he accused her of using him. So now we’re heading to his house party to make sure he’s making good decisions where she’s concerned.

The idea of a house party excites me a little. See, I like to read romances, and historical romances are my favorite. People in those books are forever having house parties, you know, the kind where people all spend the night under one roof and there are always meet-ups in hallways or libraries or kitchens that end up in scandalously sexy times.

At least I sobered up a bit on the drive up here. I went a little crazy on the cocktails because it’s been so long since I’ve been out. When you’re working two jobs, there’s not a lot of time, and friends will only be put off so many times before they stop inviting you.

Just as well. I spent as much for this weekend as I did for my student loan payments this month, and it’s only Friday night.

I haven’t told my friends our yearly get-togethers are a financial hardship for me. It’s just embarrassing to bring it up, you know, when they’re all successful and moving forward in their careers, and I haven’t even really picked a career yet.

We pull up in front of Lincoln Gentry’s mansion and I gaze out at it with a sigh. I feel like Elizabeth Bennet seeing Pemberley. I wonder about my chances of having my own Mr. Darcy-in-a-lake encounter.

Apparently I haven’t sobered up completely.

What would it be like to live in a place like this, instead of in the apartment over your parents’ garage? And from what Spencer says, Lincoln doesn’t even actually live here. He lives in the city and hasn’t been out here in months.


I’m the first one out the door as the driver stops the car, and I hear Spencer tell him to wait.

Honestly, I’m surprised Spencer is going along with Diane’s plan to confront Lincoln at his house party. Spencer is actually sober, but maybe she just wants to get this all out in the open and have it settled.

I don’t know what I’d do if I turned up pregnant. No way could I afford a baby. I don’t even have good health insurance, so that would be another bill. At least Spencer makes good money and could do this on her own. No worries, though. I don’t have time to date.

I need to shake off my poor pitiful me attitude. We are going to a party for rich people. I never get a chance to do this. I need to enjoy myself.

I proceed up the walk to the main entrance ahead of the others. Because my thoughts are so centered on Pemberley and Darcy and sexy romances, I’m disappointed when a man in a white shirt, black tie and black pants opens the door to reveal people wearing regular modern clothes.

I mean, they’re nice modern clothes, which really makes us in our dance club outfits stand out. These people don’t need to know I thrifted my outfit, because I look good in my LBD.

Behind me, I hear Spencer tell the guy in the tie that we’re invited. I must still be a little drunk because I drift away from my friends to look into the ballroom—okay, I know it’s not a ballroom, but what is it you call a large party room with a high ceiling where there’s music playing?

I’ll think of it eventually.

Diane recognizes Lincoln right away. She grabs my arm to direct me and leads Spencer and me toward him. I don’t know what she wants me to do. I am not the confrontational type. But I’m here, may as well be moral support.

Lincoln looks nervous at being confronted. Spencer looks miserable, but Diane is in her element. He motions us toward the kitchen, but I think Diane really wants to have this confrontation out here in the open. She defers to Spencer’s wishes, though, and we follow the man into the kitchen.

He really is handsome. No wonder Spencer has fallen for him, though she won’t admit it to us. I just know Spencer. She wouldn’t be so upset by his reaction if she didn’t care for him.

One of Lincoln’s guests interrupts our escape, and Lincoln handles it smoothly, then we’re all in the industrial size kitchen. This place must have been a boutique hotel or something before he bought it, along with the winery outside. The appliances are top-notch, and there’s room to do everything in here, though he’s had this party catered.

“I am so sorry,” Spencer murmurs when the door closes behind us.

“What are you sorry about?” Diane demands, whirling on our friend. “You both took part, so he has a responsibility, too. And if this is his place, he can afford to make it right.”

I’m not sure what Diane means by that. Spencer already decided against an abortion. She’s told us she’s keeping the baby. She can hire help, and she doesn’t know if she’ll get another chance to have a baby. I can’t imagine being the sole person responsible for another human being, but Spencer is stronger than I am.

She takes the moment to calm Diane down. “Lincoln, these are my friends Jamie and Diane. They…found out and felt they had to come to my aid.”

He nods at me, avoiding eye contact with a scowling Diane. Then he addresses Spencer. “Can we talk?”

She hesitates a minute, then Diane interjects again. “Oh no, you’re not taking her somewhere where you can make her feel like this is all her fault. Whatever you have to say to her, you can say in front of us. That’s the whole reason we’re here.”

Lincoln turns to me, his blue eyes appealing. “Why don’t you ladies go enjoy the party?” He indicates with his head that he wants me to take Diane with me. “There’s plenty of food and drink. Help yourselves.”

I’m personally starving, so this time, I take Diane’s arm and lead her, with some resistance, out of the kitchen.

The party is going strong, considering it’s pretty late, and the buffet table still has plenty of food. I haven’t eaten since before we went out to the clubs, and it might be good for me to get some food in my stomach to absorb some alcohol and sober me up. I drop Diane’s arm and pick up a buffet plate, inspecting the offerings. Shrimp on a bed of ice, don’t mind if I do. Crostini, yes please. Pear and prosciutto bites, you bet.

I love food, okay? Thankfully, because of my crazy schedule, it hasn’t caught up to me yet, but it will. I hear a snicker and I look across the table to see a man with his arms folded over his chest, a crooked smile tilting his mouth as he watches me.

I lower my plate slowly, resting it on the edge of the table. I know those hazel eyes anywhere, and I would not expect to see him here, though I guess he does have a restaurant or two here in town, so he’d be one of Lincoln’s VIPs. Still weird to see him here on a weekend when I’ve been thinking too much about college.

When I’d had a soul-destroying crush on him, and he’d been dating my roommate Autumn, spending lots of time in the house we’d all rented.

He has grown up so fine, so different from the boy who lived in t-shirts and jeans, at least right now. He’s wearing a suit that fits his broad shoulders and narrow waist exquisitely. Honestly, the suit designer should pay him to be a model, the suit looks that good. His light brown wavy hair is to his collar, giving him a kind of artistic insouciance. He has just a dusting of golden stubble on his long narrow jaw and I fold my hands together to resist touching him.

I force my shoulders to relax, tilt my head back a little as I try to portray confidence to a man who has made a name for himself by opening expensive and, by all accounts, delicious restaurants across the country.

“Sawyer Decker.” I struggle to keep my tone casual. “What are you doing here?”

“Spencer didn’t tell you? Lincoln and she are working on the ads for my restaurants. They’re really beautiful ads.” His voice is a low drawl pitched for my ears, and I feel it all the way down my spine.

“From what I hear, you don’t need ads to get people into your restaurants.” In fact, I heard getting reservations takes months.

“That won’t last if I don’t have a reputation.”

“Oh, from what I hear, you have quite a reputation.” I’d been stunned to learn that he was known to be aloof and curt, a far cry from the affable guy who used to hang out in the house we’d all rented.

A flash of that familiar smile appears, then disappears, as if he remembers the image he’s trying to maintain. “Part of the draw is the mystery of the chef.”

I give him a skeptical look, because his parents are pretty well-known lawyers, so people can find out whatever they want to about him.

Don’t ask me how I know. Ahem.

“So what are you doing here?”

I feel my face heat, because I can’t exactly tell him. “I’m here with Spencer, in fact. And Diane.” Though I’d lost track of Diane somewhere along the way to the buffet table.

His face grows guarded. “Not Autumn?”

I’d thought he and Autumn ended on good terms, but maybe not, based on his reaction. “No, she didn’t make it this far.”

He gives me a bemused look, but I don’t elaborate. Surely he’s not still hung up on her after all this time, after the life he’s lived.

Dumb thing to think, because if he gave me even the slightest hint he is interested in me, I would fall all over myself to be with him. I’d had such a thing for him. Such a thing.

“So you’re doing really well. I see your name everywhere.”

He arches his eyebrows. “Like where?”

Okay, I can’t answer that. I can’t let him know I’ve kept tabs on him, watched his interviews on YouTube whenever I had a chance. I’m not obsessed. No! I’m genuinely happy for his success, and I like to think I knew him when.

Though I’d never tell anyone.

“Um, on that cooking channel, and sometimes in magazines.”

His brow furrowed. “Just started the magazines, so it must have been something else.”

I stammer, because honestly, other than glancing at the covers of magazines that come through my register, I haven’t opened a magazine in years. You know the stereotype of the bored cashier flipping through a magazine between customers? It’s not really like that where I work. “Maybe it was an ad online or something.”

“Okay.” He drags the word out, like he doesn’t believe me. “What are you up to these days? I can’t really remember. What were you studying back then?”

“Neither can I,” I laugh. “Probably design. Or maybe Asian studies.”

His eyes brighten at that. “Did you ever get to Korea?”

I shake my head, the pang I used to feel no longer as strong. I’d changed my major from Asian studies when I realized I wouldn’t be able to afford to travel overseas. But I’d shifted to public health, only to get burned out during the pandemic.

“Ah, man. I went a couple of years ago and I thought about you. I even remembered some of the words you’d taught me. I hoped you’d gotten to go.”

“I don’t even remember any of the words I learned,” I say with that deflated feeling you get when you once were so sure you wanted something, never to have that dream realized.

“I went, and didn’t know any of the language, but I got through okay. And really, if you get a chance, you should go. So much to see. So much to eat.”

I push aside my melancholy and reach over to pat his stomach. “Doesn’t seem to have any detrimental effects.”

My casual gesture surprises a full grin out of him. He’s no longer the sophisticated chef, but the boy I’d known in college. He rubs his hand over his flat belly. “Takes a lot of work not to let it go to my gut.”

I glance down at my plate, hoping he’s not judging me, but really, why would I care? “So are you cooking out here this weekend?”

“Ah, no, Lincoln had it all catered.”

Seems weird that Lincoln wouldn’t use Sawyer’s staff, if he was trying to help him advertise, but maybe he had his reasons. “I guess it’s nice to have a break.”

His grimace made me wonder if he didn’t think the break was good. “Weird being away from it for so long.”

I frown. “How long?”

He laughs softly. “Ah, I left right after the lunch rush. And I won’t go back until Sunday dinner.”

I have to admit, I get it. I’ve not been off three days in a row in a year, since our last girls’ weekend. Not going to work feels weird.

“You never said what you’re doing now,” he says, and my turn to grimace because I don’t want to tell him about my chaotic life. I’m almost thirty. I should have figured out some of these things by now.

“I work behind the scenes at a news station in the Metroplex.”

His frown returns. “I don’t remember you ever talking about being interested in that. That was always Autumn’s thing.”

I don’t want to talk about Autumn. In fact, I dread him asking me about her. But I can’t avoid mentioning her now. “She helped me get the job before she moved to Phoenix.” I stay there because it’s interesting, at least, for now. I already feel myself growing restless, and maybe if I find something that pays better, I won’t have to keep on at the grocery store.

“So based in Dallas, then. I’m based in Houston, but I thought about moving here now that I have a restaurant here.”

“Kind of expensive,” I say automatically.

His smile broadens. “Thankfully not something I’m worrying about right now.”

Not living above his parents’ garage. Got it. Though, like I said, his parents weren’t struggling themselves, so they probably had a pretty nice apartment garage. I wonder if they’d let me move in.

Suddenly Spencer appears at my side, her eyes wide, panicked. “Where’s Diane?”

Read One Smokin’ Night now on Amazon!

First Chapter of Show Off

Her thirty-fifth birthday and all of her friends were too busy to celebrate. Veronica Butler stood in her closet, eyeing the slip dress she still couldn’t believe she had the nerve to buy. In the fluorescent lights of the store, the fabric had appeared peach, which set off her skin tone, but once she got out into real light, the dress turned flesh colored.

Her best friend, Cindi, called it her naked dress, and not just because of the color. The spaghetti straps and low cut armholes made a bra impossible, and the silk clung to every detail of her body. The hem hit the tops of her thighs, which made sitting a challenge, which was why Veronica hadn’t worn it yet.

This was a dress a woman wore when she wanted to send a message, loud and clear. This was a dress that a woman wore when she hadn’t been laid since her boyfriend, Steve the asshole, dumped her ten months ago.

This was a sex dress.

And Veronica was going to wear it tonight.

* * *

Rafael Salazar turned his wine glass on the scarred wooden table, his attention drifting from the conversation of his companions. He hadn’t wanted to come out tonight, but his best friend, William, had just received a promotion and wanted to celebrate. The gathering of friends had swelled in the small bar and Rafael knew he wouldn’t be missed, but even after two hours of drinks and food—if you could call the nachos and artichoke dip food—he would be the first to leave. And he couldn’t do that since he was the first person William called.

The door opened, and a woman walked in, blonde hair billowing, a shiny trench coat floating open over…Well, at first glance, what looked like nothing. When she stopped at the hostess stand, he could very barely see the outline of a dress, the same color as her skin. She motioned to the bar, the hostess nodded, then the woman stepped back to let her trench coat slide down her arms.

The bar silenced—at least the men did—as all attention turned to this goddess in the flimsy dress that clung to her nipples, hinted at a glimpse of her secrets with every step she took in her high heels. Amazing legs, too—long, with graceful curves. She hesitated only a moment when she reached a barstool, then bared just a bit of black panties as she sat and crossed those legs, body turned halfway toward the room.

Rafael’s mouth went dry as she arched her throat, a clear invitation, and ordered a drink. Before the bartender could deliver it, she was surrounded by at least four men, each willing to take her up on her invitation. His view of her was slightly impaired, so he shifted, heard William laugh behind him just as the woman turned her profile and—

He knew that profile. Had seen it every day for the past four months, outside his office. But how could this be Veronica Butler, the woman who wore her hair in a bun and blouses buttoned to her collarbone, skirts nearly to her ankles? Did she have a secret life? Because she certainly kept that body a secret.

One of the men, young, blond, handsome, stood before her with a lime and a shot of tequila. She obligingly let her head fall back and allowed him to trace the slice of fruit down her delicate skin. The man grinned and leaned forward to lick it from her skin just as Rafael stepped onto the raised platform of the bar.

“Veronica?” he asked, stepping through her admirers. “Veronica Butler? I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Veronica snapped her head up at the sound of her name in that familiar Spanish accent, the “r” rolling, the “o” and “i” long. She’d let the pronunciation roll over her skin for months now, heard it in her sleep, in her fantasies. Her gaze collided with that of her very handsome, very hot supervisor, the man she’d lusted after since he had arrived from Spain to lead the team designing a new downtown, Gaudi-influenced hotel three months, two weeks and three days ago. The man whose eyes hinted at dark, sexy secrets, whose stubble- shadowed mouth promised untold pleasures.

The man whom she’d pictured when she bought this dress, never thinking he’d actually see her in it.

He definitely saw her in it now, his gaze drifting to her breasts, though he made an effort to look into her eyes. His already arched eyebrows lifted, and his dimples deepened in appreciation.

Her first instinct was to cover up, but she’d left her trench coat on the coat rack by the door, and her little shiny purse didn’t offer much protection. She tucked her hair behind her ear. All the confidence she’d felt when she walked into the bar evaporated in the face of the one man she didn’t expect to see, no matter how she’d hoped.

“Rafael. Um, I didn’t know you lived around here.”

“I don’t. Do you?”

“Yes, I—”

“Excuse me, buddy, but I was here first.” One of her admirers, the one with the lime, poked Rafael in the shoulder, hard.

Veronica wanted to slide through the floor. She’d come here for a hook-up, clearly Rafael would see that. What would he think of her for that? He’d never fall for her now.

He didn’t take his eyes from her. “She’s here with me.”

The other admirers slipped away, but this one was persistent. He turned to Veronica. “That so?”

Her heart slammed against her ribs at the thought of what Rafael’s words might mean, at the possessiveness of his tone. “Yes,” she managed through dry lips and reached for her martini to moisten them.

Lime Boy grumbled and stomped off.

Rafael moved closer. Since the bar stools near her were occupied, he slid between her bar stool and the next, propping his elbow on the bar, the rough fabric of his slacks brushing her bare thigh. She didn’t think she’d ever been this close to him. If she had, there had definitely been more clothing between them. He smelled delicious, of wine and just the slightest hint of rain-scented masculine cologne. She had a bottle of that cologne at home, just to fuel her fantasies. Not that they needed fuel.

“That’s a very dangerous dress,” he remarked, signaling the waiter for a glass of wine.

“It’s meant to be.” She couldn’t believe the words came out.

His dark eyebrows shot up, and a smile curved his sensuous lips as he eased closer. “Is it?”

His body heat filled the small space between them. When he reached for his wine, the soft fabric of his cuffed sleeve brushed her arm. She drew in a breath and he cut a glance toward her, humor lighting his eyes. God, he knew she wanted him. That knowledge made her feel more vulnerable than the dress.

“You know, I believe some things are fate.” He turned to face her, closer, only inches away. “I’ve never been here before, and here you are.” His gaze flicked to her throat, then the curve of her breasts.

The glance was like a caress, and she arched her neck. He leaned closer so his breath warmed her skin. Her thighs clenched against her arousal.

“You smell good.” The words floated out.

He tilted his head to smile. “You do, too.” He skimmed his palm up the outside of her thigh. Her knees parted as her lips did. “You didn’t come here to stay. So why don’t we go?”

This was a bad idea in so many ways. “You’re my boss.”

“Supervisor only.” His breath stirred her hair, pebbled her nipples as he circled his thumb high on her thigh.

“I want…” His hands everywhere, his mouth everywhere, his…“This can’t make work weird.” Idiot. Of course it would make work weird. He was standing between her legs, his hand under the hem of her dress, and he’d practically seen her naked anyway. Rationalizing. Not hard to do with a Spanish hunk breathing down the front of her dress, his mouth so close to her skin that, well, how could it not be a kiss? “Yes. Let’s go.”

He straightened slowly, not in a hurry as she expected. He lifted his wine to his lips, barely sipped, and leaned forward to cover her mouth with his.

Show Off is available in Kindle Unlimited!

First Chapter of One Wanton Night


I nurse my non-alcoholic drink on the sofa in the dance club and smile around at my oldest friends. Okay, we’re not that old, because we’ve only known each other a little over ten years, but we get together every year, which is not something I can say about people I’ve known longer.

This year, we’re celebrating Riva’s thirtieth birthday by club hopping in the city where we all attended college, where I still live.

We’ve been planning this for months, then I turned up pregnant.

Yep, pregnant and not married, and it’s still my little secret. But I’m telling my friends tonight.

Not looking forward to it, because there will be judgement.


Because the father of my child is my boss, and he did not handle the news well. Like, at all. Whew. I’m lucky I still have my job, but we keep a wide berth around each other.

Maybe I should start from the beginning. No, not the very beginning, but the situation with me and my boss, and how I ended up in this situation.

I work at a marketing firm here in the city. There are a lot, and ours is pretty successful, but the reason we are is that my boss, Lincoln Gentry, the owner, is very driven.

Very young, very hot, very driven.

I mentioned hot, right?

But we’re successful because we work a lot of late nights, and since my boss and I are both single, a lot of times it’s just us in the office after everyone else goes home to their families.

So a few months ago, it went something like this:

“I’m sorry, Spencer. I need your help on this. You know Sawyer Decker better than anyone, and I trust you most for this.”

I look up at Lincoln and try to scowl, but the light in his blue eyes and the curve of his mouth are so charming, I’m sure it’s not very effective.

“Why do I have to change my plans to go see Miranda Lambert in order to accommodate a hotshot chef who doesn’t manage his time better just because we went to school together?” And he dated my friend Autumn for a few months, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that to Lincoln. That was nearly ten years ago, anyway.

“Because he’s so hot right now.” He does a dead-on impersonation of Will Ferrell in Zoolander. “He wants to capitalize on that, and who can blame him?”

“But Miranda!” I almost never say no, because he’s really hard to say no to, and anyway, I usually don’t have plans. But today, I lift my phone and show him my screen with my tickets.

His blue eyes glint, and his voice lowers. “I’ll make it up to you. I’ll get you VIP tickets, and a flight to anywhere you want to go see her. I swear. You know how important this account is.”

I do know, and… “VIP tickets?” I clarify.

“Anywhere you want to go. I’ll throw in two nights in a hotel, everything. The whole experience on me.”

You know I cannot resist the chance to meet Miranda Lambert, so I sigh, text my date to find someone else to take, and follow Lincoln into the meeting room.

 Look, he’s not the top of boss who just orders everyone around. He absolutely does the work. I don’t think he could let go, even if he wanted to, so he’ll be here until the last of us—probably me—leave for the night. He orders in a big dinner, expensive, anything to keep us happy.

I know why he likes me working with him. I get people motivated, organized, and I have a good idea or two. I can always tell when he likes my input because he gives me this smile that I shouldn’t find so damn sexy.

At first, there are ten of us working, then six, then three, then…

The skyline is all lit up below us as we sit with our heads together. He smells so good, like leather and the outdoors, though I swear he didn’t step outside even for lunch, and his sleeves are rolled up. He’s got these great forearms and wrists, and…I can NOT be attracted to my boss. I love my job, I love the free rein I’m given, how I’m encouraged to use my creativity, not constricted like other agencies. I like the rapport I have with my coworkers, especially Lincoln, who, as I said before, is not afraid to put in the work.

I like the money I make.

So what possesses me to touch the back of his wrist to get his attention, to lean in a little too close, not exactly brushing my breast against his arm, but close?

What possesses me, when he turns his gaze to look at me questioningly, to hold his boldly?

We’ve worked together for years, but never flirted, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier. I cannot tell you why I lost my mind. 

First Chapter of Off Limits

Zach Purser stood at the edge of the dance floor and watched the woman in the cream-colored dress move to the music, hips swaying, arms twisting sinuously over her head. A cascade of reddish-brown curls tumbled around her shoulders, hair he would love to bury his face in while he cupped her hips and drew her back against him. He’d always been an ass man.

His best friend Adam Clark joined him at the rail overlooking the dance floor. “Surprised you haven’t hit on anyone already. Or that someone hasn’t hit on you.”

Zach’s lips twisted. “I have my eye on one.”

“The blonde? Because she’s married.”

Right. Adam knew more of the people here than he did, since this was his brother Matt’s engagement party to J.R., the man he’d been dating for years. Something to celebrate, no doubt. Zach could respect their joy, the difficulties they’d overcome. Zach tended to avoid any difficulties if he could help it.

“Not the blonde, though, damn.” Great body that Zach had already pictured against him.

“The little brunette? She’s a sweetheart but too young for you.”

“How young?” Zach scoped out the slender girl in the tight black dress, just in case.

“Twenty, I think. Maybe twenty-one.”

Definitely too young, too many romantic ideas. “No. The one with the great ass and the great hair.”

Adam chuckled. “Which one’s that?”

“The curls, the white dress.”

The chuckle died, and Adam straightened. “You haven’t seen her face.”

Zach frowned. How did Adam know that? “No, but—”

Adam punched his arm, hard. “That’s my sister, asshole. Don’t even think about going near her. I know your MO. Got it?”

Just then, the object of his fantasy turned, still moving to the music, and he looked into the heart-shaped face of Paige Clark, who he’d known since he was in high school and she was in, what, fourth grade? He should feel dirty, lusting after his best friend’s sister, for the fantasies he’d already had about her. But damn, she’d grown up nice, that gorgeous hair he could already feel beneath his fingers, full breasts—ah, God—and those hips.

Adam punched his arm again, harder. “Quit thinking about it. Christ. She’s too good for you.”

No doubt. But yeah, Adam was right. Living out that fantasy would be beyond weird. Not like there weren’t other women, available and willing. But his attention was drawn to Paige, her sexy movements, her beautiful smile, and Jesus, that body.

She lifted her gaze and met his. He took a step back at the sultry curve of her mouth. Did she recognize him? Because, damn, that was the smile of a woman who wanted to get laid.

His best friend’s baby sister.

He braced his hands against the rail, then spun away. “Right. You know, maybe I’d better head out.”

Adam’s smile was tight. “No self-control?”

“Not really one to celebrate commitments, no matter what form.”

Adam shook his head. “And you wonder why I want you away from my sister.”

“Okay, so I’ll catch up with you later.” He turned and made his way through the crowd with a wave at Matt and J.R., edging past eligible women who just didn’t do it for him, not tonight.

“Hey, where you going?” A slender hand on his arm stopped Zach on his way out the door.

He looked down into the sloe eyes of Paige Clark. He commanded his attention to stay on her face, though had she always had that full mouth that he could imagine fulfilling his fantasies? And just on the edge of his vision, he could see the swell of her breasts. Time to go. Adam’s sister. His best friend for half his life.

“I can’t believe you were going to leave without saying hello.”

He turned to face her, forcing himself to be friendly, but keeping his guard up. He was unaccustomed to watching himself around women—the more outrageous he was, the more they liked it.

“Hello, Rage.”

She laughed, delighted at his teasing tone. “You would remember that.”

“You had more temper tantrums than anyone I knew before or since.”

“But now I’m all grown up.” She swept her hands down her sides.

At least he thought she did, because he focused on her face. But not on her mouth. Too many wicked images came with that view. “You’re very lovely.”

“You look the same.” Something playful lurked beneath the smile that he wasn’t looking at.

“How long has it been? Five years?”

She cocked her hip, tilting her head so her hair tumbled over one shoulder. “Seven. I’m twenty-four now, graduated and working as a shopper, if you can believe it.”

He frowned. “You used to hate shopping.” That he remembered that about her surprised him.

“Because I couldn’t find anything that fit me.”

“You were a scrawny little thing.”

“I filled out.” Those sloe eyes dared him to see for himself.

He resisted. Barely. But the image of her moving on the dance floor was etched into his brain.

She tucked her hand in his. “Come dance with me.”

Not a good idea. He’d be touching her, at the very least watching her. Already, he was doing everything in his power to stop his arousal. Those skills were rusty, because he always gave in. The reason Adam wanted him far away from Paige. “I need to go.”

“One dance.” She tugged his hand, and he took a step toward the dance floor, resisting the urge to search the room for Adam. She gave him a look that said she wasn’t taking no for an answer.

He could manage a short time in her arms, then never see her again. Who knew where they would be in another seven years? He squared his shoulders and nodded. She wriggled in delight and turned to haul him close, his hand tucked in the small of her back. Right above that gorgeous ass.

Once she’d found the spot she wanted, she turned to him, moving with such sensual grace that for a moment he froze in place. He was a good dancer—at least he’d been told—but for the life of him, he couldn’t make his body move as he watched her, the sway of her hair, the undulation of her spine, every movement making his imagination work overtime. She laughed and pushed at his chest, as if that would jumpstart him.

She turned her back on him, and that did the trick. Without thinking, he gripped her hips and drew her against him, moving into her. She shivered and looped her arms behind his neck.

Too late, he realized his mistake. A hand gripped his shoulder and spun him around. He barely registered the cold anger on Adam’s face before the fist crashed into his eye.

Off Limits is available everywhere, and now in print!

First Chapter of One Sizzling Night


I have really needed this weekend getaway with my girls. We’d already talked about doing something fun for my thirtieth birthday, but after I broke up with my boyfriend after Christmas, plans ramped up, and now we’re spending the weekend in our college town. We spent the day doing facials and getting our nails done, and tonight we are out on the town. It’s been ages since I shed my scrubs and put on a party dress, but I feel—and look—amazing. When Diane picked out this hot pink minidress with blouson sleeves and a plunging neckline, I laughed, but she was right. I look sexy as hell.

The seven of us look as sexy as hell.

We’d formed a sisterhood in college, one that developed over the years so that we all ended up sharing a three-bedroom house our last two years at school.

I celebrated my twentieth birthday with them. I wouldn’t want to enter my thirties with anyone else, any place else, but where we all met. This was the best idea ever.

I’d just taken a sip of my very yummy old-fashioned when I looked up and saw him walk in.

My ex.

Gideon Cooper.

My heart does this traitorous flip, because damn, he looks fine, dressed in a button down and blazer, his beard neat, his wavy hair tamed and combed back from his face, one loose lock falling free over his forehead. He’s not a big guy, but lean and fit from his years playing shortstop for the Fort Worth Guardians.

He hasn’t seen me yet, and I have a moment to appreciate him before I remember how he hurt me.

And then I go on the defensive.

What in the hell is he doing here? He doesn’t live in the city, doesn’t even like Austin. So how is it he’s here, on my birthday, exactly where I am?

Now he sees me, his brown eyes sharp even across the room, but not surprised.

He knew I’d be here.

Hope gives a little flutter in my chest before I squash that bitch down.

I snap my back straight and clamp my hand on Diane’s wrist.

“Time to leave,” I announce, and stand up, struggling not to sway as I do. He will not see any weakness in me, no matter if I have had two drinks before this one.

“Leave?” Diane protests, motioning to her glass. “We just got our drinks.”

“Time. To. Leave.”

I cut my gaze toward Gideon, who pauses now that he sees I’m surrounded by my friends. Who else did he think I’d be here with? My heart does another hard thump as I wonder if he thought I’d be on a date.

No, that makes no sense. Somehow, he knew I’d be here. But how?

He’s between us and the door. My brain races to find a way to walk out past him without talking to him. Chelsea, bless her, gives me a nod that tells me she’s got my back. She approaches him, catching his arm and turning him away from us so we can slip past him.

I don’t know why my heart aches when I’m out on the sidewalk, away from him. He was here, looking for me, but why?

I don’t want to call it a night just because my ex is here. We’ve worked too hard to plan this weekend. We’re out on the strip, with a number of bars nearby, but I don’t want to go to one too close, in case he decides to follow us. I’m aware of my friends watching me closely, ready to defer to my judgment as we decide on a bar across the street and down on the corner that looks like fun.

It’s not until we get through the door of the new club that we realize we left Maya behind.

It’s kind of terrible that my first thought is that I hope she doesn’t end up talking to Gideon and telling him our plans. But no, she knows well how our relationship ended, and she won’t betray me.

We head to the bar, and even though the girls have been taking turns buying my drinks, I buy them all one to thank them for bolting when I asked.

Then we find an empty table, set our drinks down, and hit the dance floor.

I can’t help watching the front door, though, waiting for Gideon to come through it. And I’ll never admit it to my friends, but a small, traitorous part of me wants him to.

Coming soon to Amazon!

First Chapter of Lessons for Teacher

The music pounded in Jamie Winston’s blood as she walked up the steps to the frat house, feeling as out of place among the milling bodies as she felt in front of the journalism class where she was the teaching assistant.

Like a fraud.

She’d never been to a frat party in her life, just something else she’d missed out on her first time in college. Her marriage and job had taken all her time, though she’d longed for the complete college experience. She wouldn’t have the courage now, her second chance at college, if her best friend Susan hadn’t encouraged her to act on this ridiculous impulse.

That, and her inappropriate crush, Brady Lane, was rumored to be here. Susan grinned approvingly, giving Jamie a once-over and an exaggerated wink. Great. She’d let her younger friend choose her wardrobe—a knit spaghetti strapped top with a swirling design on the front, snug jeans and wedges—a far cry from the loose blouses and conservative skirts she wore for class, but appropriate for a warm October evening in Texas. Susan also had a hand in fixing her hair, an almost sultry style, dark blonde hair tumbling out of a carefully placed hair clip. Sort of librarian-gone-wild. And her make-up, well, she almost didn’t recognize herself.

She hoped Brady would recognize her. Or maybe not.

She wasn’t in the habit of crushing on her journalism students, but Brady was different. He was older than the others, close to her age of twenty- five, having served in Iraq in order to qualify for the GI Bill. He was handsome, yes, tall and broad shouldered with biceps as big as her waist, but more, he was intense, focused, and interested in what she was teaching. He wanted to be a war correspondent, and his bravery excited her as much as anything else.

She got the feeling that he, like her, wanted the complete college experience, no matter that he was five years older than the other students here.

She spotted him as soon as they entered the main room of the frat house. He leaned against the wall by the bar, a bottle in his big hand. Younger men surrounded him, a mixture of hero-worship and acceptance. The air of command about him made her nipples hard. Did she have the courage to approach him?

Susan leaned close and growled playfully in approval. Great, he was here, now what? How was she supposed to get his attention? And what would she do if she got it? She had the feeling if she gave him the right signals, he would take charge. While she knew this was shaky ground, considering she was a T.A., she couldn’t help herself. Something about Brady compelled her to step out of the comfort zone she’d allowed herself since her divorce.

As if he sensed her thoughts, he glanced up and met her gaze. Her face heated, but she didn’t look away, instead gave him what had to be a goofy smile. He returned it, brows drawn together a bit quizzically, then turned back to the guys with him.

So not a good sign. Disappointment burned hot in her belly.

“Go talk to him. I’ll get us something to drink,” Susan urged, nudging Jamie with her shoulder.

Okay, this was why she’d come, but the last of her nerve had gotten her up the steps and through the door. She caught him looking at her again, this time more speculative. She pulled in a deep breath and moved across the room toward him.

“Hi, Brady,” she murmured.


A shiver went through her when he said her

name. She didn’t teach as Miss Winston, though she knew other T.A.s did. That he thought of her by that name gave her hope. That meant he thought about her.

Wow, she was suddenly feeling way younger than anyone else here.

“I didn’t expect to see you here.” His gaze traveled up and down her body. She quivered with the need to hunch her shoulders or otherwise hide.

“Dayum,” one of the boys surrounding him added, his gaze following the same path as Brady’s had. “You put the ‘t’ and ‘a’ in T.A.”

“Dude. Not cool,” Brady chided. “And terrible line.”

The boy shrugged and turned back to his friends, but Brady kept his eyes steady on hers. She dipped her head, her courage deserting her, afraid he’d see too much.

“You want a drink?” he offered.

“My friend’s getting one.” She gestured toward Susan, who approached.

“Your date?”

“My-no! No, I’m not—” God, did he think she was a lesbian? Boy, talk about seduction fail.

“Okay.” He took a swallow of beer, still watching her as she accepted her own bottle from Susan. “Do you come to a lot of frat parties?”

“This is my first. You?”

Three girls burst out of the crowd, pushing past Jamie to grasp Brady’s hands and arms. “We’re playing Truth or Dare. Come play with us.”

He hung back, even as one girl’s slim hand glided intimately over his waist. His grin was affable as he shook his head. “Nah, I don’t think so.”

“Oh, come on.” One curled her hand around his arm and pressed her breast to his bicep. “It’s going to be dirty.”

He snuffled a laugh and sipped his beer. “Not really my thing.”

“Honey, it could be.” The three girls tugged at him, working together, but he remained firmly against the wall.

“Another time,” he said smoothly.

“You always say that,” one of the girls pouted. “No matter what we ask.” But she turned away with her friends, who contented themselves with his friend.

“I want to play,” Susan piped up, following. “Hot boys.”

Jamie opened her mouth to protest being left alone, but Susan was swallowed by the crowd. Jamie eased back against the wall by Brady’s side, pulse pounding, mentally cursing Susan for abandoning her.

“So what made you decide to come?” Brady asked, lifting his beer to his lips.

“A few of my students invited me. I always wondered what it might be like.”

“I thought you might be undercover, doing a story or something.” He brushed a fingertip over her bare shoulder, sending heat pulsing through to all her favorite parts. “This is a different look for you. Don’t get me wrong.” He held out a hand, palm out to stem her protest. “I like it. A lot.”

She huffed out a nervous laugh, her nipples tightening at just that simple contact. God, the man had an uncommon power. “No, not undercover. And thanks.”

“Is it what you expected?”

“Um.” She looked from the circle of Truth or Dare players just as one of the girls flashed her breasts, to a couple pressed against the bar, the boy’s hand up the girl’s skirt, his rhythmic movements leaving no doubt about what he was doing. Another boy puked in the corner. “Not quite. A little more Animal House than I expected. What are you doing here?”

The corner of his mouth hitched up. “Doing a story.”

“For your journalism portfolio.”

“Yeah. I’m applying for an internship in the spring.”

She ignored the tightness in her chest from his words, from the knowledge he’d be moving on soon. Which meant if she was going to do this, she was running out of time. “I know. I already sent in my recommendation.”

“Yeah? Thanks.”

“You’re a talented writer. I don’t think you’ll have any problem.”

He turned to face her, his shoulder against the wall, a grin creasing his handsome face. “I don’t think you came here to talk shop.”

“No. I didn’t.” She smiled. She’d taken the first step toward what she’d come here to do, attracting his attention.

“So. Truth or dare?”

Wariness winged through her at the playful glint in his eyes, and she glanced toward the circle where Susan was playing tonsil hockey with Brady’s friend.


“Why are you really here?”

She gave a toss of her hair, hoping to convince

him of the lie. “Susan wanted to come and she didn’t want to come alone.”

He looked over at the circle. “Yeah, I don’t buy it. You know the penalty in lying in truth or dare? You have to do a dare.”

She drew in a sharp breath at the winking dimple. What kind of challenge would he give her? Something sexy? Could she pull it off? Her confidence was shaky. “What would you dare me to do?”

He lifted his gaze as if he was considering. “Let me think about it. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with that outfit, though.”

A sizzle of desire ran through her, settling between her legs. For the first time she considered tonight might actually end as she fantasized, in his arms. She sipped from her bottle. “Okay. Truth or dare.”

Lessons for Teacher is available on Amazon.

First Chapter of One Steamy Night


“That’s it, ladies. I’m done with bad boys,” I declare, holding up my drink like I’m holding up my hand to swear on a bible. “They aren’t good for anything but breaking my heart.”

And I should know. I’ve had a lot of experience.with broken hearts. But I cannot resist the bad boys. Something about their intensity, their aloofness, their disdain for the rules draws me, and I get hurt. Every. Time.

I blame my pious upbringing. I mean, when you’re the daughter of a pastor, and always surrounded by church boys, you totally want the opposite when you have a chance.

And let’s say, I didn’t have my chance so much as I took it.

Since I’m two weeks out from my latest break-up, who cheated on me with not one but two girls—even after I said I was down for a three-way—and I’m with my girls, my college friends on our yearly girls trip, this one celebrating Riva’s thirtieth birthday, I decide to make my declaration. They’ll help me stick to it.

Well, they will this weekend, anyway. I live in Phoenix, states away from any of them.

States away from here, come to think of it. Maybe one last fling…

“A good boy is going to bore you to tears,” Diane says, heartfelt, leaning forward, her long legs stretched in front of her. “You’ll be running screaming for the door in no time.”

“Oh, yes,” Spencer drawls. “All that opening the door for you and buying you flowers for no reason gets really old, really fast.”

I look over at her and point, as if to put a pin in the conversation so we can get back to that, but Diane is adamant.

“You will have nothing to talk about, so he’ll fill all the silence with his nerd talk, or his church talk, or…”

I wince, because I remember those guys from when I was a teenager.

“Just because he’s a good guy doesn’t mean he’s a nerd,” Spencer asserts.

Again, I make a mental note to ask her what is going on, but I’m not sure I’ll remember because, well, I’ve had a bit to drink.

Yes, to celebrate Riva’s thirtieth, we are doing a club crawl, and there are no holds barred. In fact, we’ve already misplaced two of our group, Maya and Chelsea. Par-TY. So now there are five of us: Diane, Spencer, Riva, me and Jamie. And don’t worry. We have a car—not just an Uber, but a car, with a driver and everything. Yeah, we went all out for Riva, because she’s the first of us to switch decades, and also she’s always been kind of like our den mother, from the time we were in college. She took care of us, so we’re doing this for her.

Anyway. Back to me.

“So, where does someone meet good guys?” I look around the bar, but you can’t really tell by looking, can you? I mean, maybe those guys at the bar with glasses, but Spencer is right, you can’t just judge them like that.

“You could go back to church,” Riva says.

I give her a withering look because she knows my issues with church, big-time. Growing up, I literally lived in a church. Well, you know, the house behind it. Every minute we weren’t in school, we were doing church work, with all the good church people who kind of felt like they had a hand in raising me. When I turned sixteen and wanted to go on a date, we had to go clear across town so I wouldn’t have spies everywhere reporting back to my dad if the boy put his arm around my shoulders (which, am I wrong, always seemed so romantic in books, but in real life is awkward as hell?)

So I rebelled a little. I saw the freedom other kids had, and I wanted it for myself. Maybe it was good those other adults in my church had had a hand in raising me because I almost ended up in jail a couple of times, but didn’t, thanks to the sheriff who was in my dad’s church. I don’t think he ever told my dad, either, which endears him to me until this day.

I think my parents were probably a little relieved when I went to college, and maybe a little worried they’d be throwing their money away because when I got there I went crazy. But I managed to get to class (most of the time) and graduated (mostly on time) mainly because of Riva.

But. I had a lot of fun, too, and these are our old stomping grounds—some of them more updated than others—and I may be enjoying myself a little too much.

“Why don’t you let me pick you out someone tonight?” Diane asks. “I’ll pick out a good boy, and you give him a chance.”

I look at my friend skeptically. Why would I trust her taste? I can’t remember the last time she’s talked about a guy. To be fair, she lives a thousand miles away from me, and I’m not as close to her as I am to some of the other girls in the group, like Spencer.

Still, I haven’t done a great job picking out my own guys, right? So how much worse could her choice be?

“It’s a deal,” I say, extending my hand, and we shake on it.

She turns away and starts scanning the room, apparently looking for prospects.

Riva keeps watching the door anxiously. I take a bit of time to realize it’s because her ex suddenly showed up at the first club we were at, which is why we left. I guess she’s worried he’ll show up here. I still haven’t gotten the whole story about that, but you know, whatever. I know he’s not a bad guy, but he’s her ex, and he showed up on our out-of-town trip without being invited, and you have to admit that’s weird.

To get her mind off it, and off my own declaration, I lean forward and grab her hand. “Let’s go dance.”

So the five of us, looking fine, I might add, charge to the dance floor and form a tight little circle to dance in, just like we used to back in college.

After a few songs, Diane leans in. “Let’s go to the next place.”

There isn’t really a next place. We don’t have a plan, just wandering down the strip, looking for a vibe.

And I’m starting to think I might want to try on a good boy for size.

One Steamy Night is available in Kindle Unlimited January 31!

First Chapter of Two Step Temptation

Haven Reynolds came to a complete stop at the bottom of the stone stairs of the Texas Hill Country Inn the wedding party had reserved for the weekend. Her blood froze. Oh, hell no. Eric Viera stood at the check-in desk across the limestone-walled lobby from her, his pose casual, his black leather duffel at his feet, charming the clerk as she handed him a room card with a coy smile.

No one had thought he’d make it, though he was still listed as a groomsman. She’d checked a dozen times, as discreetly as she could. Every one of her sources was certain that he would miss the wedding because he was out of town, in a faraway jungle studying some culture or another.

If she’d thought there was a sliver of a possibility he’d be here, she’d never have come downstairs like this, just out of bed in yoga pants and a hoodie, hair pinned up, no makeup, and desperate for coffee. No, the first time he saw her again, she was supposed to be wearing an incredible red dress and heels, be ten pounds slimmer. He’d drool in his soup.

Just like the first time they’d met, at Jared and Christine’s engagement party.

Sex on legs, that was Eric Viera. The night of the celebration, she had been captivated by him—long, lean, close-cropped brown hair, sexy little goatee, fuck-me blue eyes. Her heart had pounded when he’d focused on her and asked her to dance. That had led to the most delicious night of sex in her life, the first night of a two-week-long affair that had spoiled her for other men for eight months.

Eight long months.

She’d thought she’d been worldly enough to accept a no-strings affair, and if it had only been that night, maybe she could have. But one night had morphed into a week, and a week into two before he left for Costa Rica. He’d slipped past all her carefully erected guards, without knowing it—because she hadn’t allowed him to know it—and she’d spent the next few months nursing a broken heart and rebuilding the walls.

Shaking off the memory of his body against hers, his magical mouth, his clever fingers, she pivoted to head up the stairs before he could see her. His oh-my-God sexy voice rumbled across the limestone foyer as he thanked the clerk.

Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me. If she had to deal with him at this wedding, she’d do it on her terms, dressed to advantage, made-up, caffeinated, all her shields in place. Not surprised by him in the foyer.


Shit. Shit. The option was to continue upstairs and not acknowledge him, at least until later when she was in a position of control. But running away was cowardly. So she stopped, curling her fingers around the banister as she gathered her nerve, pasted on a smile and turned. God help her, he looked even better than he had last summer. Her knees—and resolve—weakened a little.

“Hey, Eric. I didn’t think you were going to make it.” Thank goodness her voice was perfectly modulated, unlike her body, which was ready to go all traitor on her.

He hoisted his garment bag over his shoulder as he approached the stairs to stand below her. Okay, this kind of gave her the upper hand. She willed herself not to grip the banister so tightly that her knuckles whitened. Still, she couldn’t ignore how good he looked, his brown hair cut close to his scalp, eyes slightly shadowed with weariness, travel-rumpled cotton shirt and jeans that fit just right, low on his hips. She bit the inside of her lip to snap her attention away.

“I couldn’t miss Jared’s wedding. I flew in from Costa Rica this morning.”

She nodded at his mud-spattered boots. “I thought you were out of the country.”

He hooked the finger holding the bag in acknowledgement. “It took some juggling to get here, but I couldn’t miss it.”

A knot of anxiety formed just below her heart. Avoiding him wouldn’t be easy since he was part of the wedding party, not with all the activities Christine had planned. She forced a rueful smile. “Bridesmaid.”

His gaze traveled down the length of her body, and once again she fretted that she was dressed so casually.

But when his eyes returned to hers, they shone with appreciation. “You look great.”

She waved dismissively, wishing his approval didn’t send a wave of warmth through her. She’d accepted that what they had was over. At least, her head had. Her heart and body were having other ideas. “I was just…in search of coffee.”

“I’ll put my gear in my room and join you.”

“Eric, wait.” She touched his arm as he started up the stairs past her. His arm was warm and the hair beneath the rolled-up sleeve rasped her skin, sending pulses of heat along her nerves, scattering her thoughts. Looking into his eyes didn’t help. “No one knows about what happened last year.”

His eyebrows flicked upward. “Okay.” He dragged the word out as if waiting to see what she’d say next.

“This is Christine and Jared’s weekend and they’ve worked hard for it. I don’t want to take anything away from that.” She could get him to go along with that, she was sure.

“I don’t intend to.” He stroked his finger down her cheek. “So. Coffee?”

She grasped the out he gave her, though she wanted to lean into his caress. “Tons to do. I’m going to grab my coffee and go back upstairs. I guess I’ll see you later. Christine and Jared are taking us for a picnic along the river today.” The whole wedding party and Christine’s family would be along. She would have an easier time keeping her distance. She needed to be in control or risk her heart again.

Haven walked out onto the big patio behind the resort, feeling better. Her favorite denim capris and cap-sleeved T-shirt boosted her confidence, and she was with friends, ready to celebrate. She wouldn’t let Eric’s presence twist her up. After all, he’d been perfectly sweet to her in the hall, like an acquaintance, not a lover. This was going to be fine.

Her gaze rested on him without conscious thought. He’d added a battered Longhorns cap to the same clothes he’d worn earlier and stood with Jared near the rail, their heads bent together. His face was split in that breathtaking grin, all white teeth and crinkled eyes, and everything female in her quivered. He lifted his head and met her gaze, and his smile shifted, becoming a bit softer, more intimate.

Lust pounded through her. She’d seen that smile before and it promised wonderful, wonderful things. She spun away to join the women, who were debating if Jill’s footwear was appropriate for a walk along the river.

“It’s a picnic, right?” Jill asked, defending her choice of leather sandals. “You’re not tricking us into a hike or anything.” She eyed Christine’s boots suspiciously. “Just because you love the outdoors doesn’t mean the rest of us do.”

“It’s a picnic,” Christine conceded, still skeptical. “But it’s not a park.”

“Haven’s wearing sandals too,” Jill pointed out, looping her arm through Haven’s.

“I only brought sandals,” Haven said. “We’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

Christine started to turn away in surrender, then swung back. “Neither one of you had better be in a cast for my wedding, got it?”

“Got it,” Haven and Jill agreed, and headed for the steps leading to the trail, arm in arm.

“Hey, did you see Jared’s friend Eric turned up after all?” Jill asked. “Good Lord, is he gorgeous or what? I hate to be the cliché, a bridesmaid hooking up with a groomsman, but wow. Have you seen that ass?”

Up close and personal. Haven’s face heated with—was that jealousy? She didn’t get jealous. Okay, she might envy someone’s new pair of shoes or figure or hairstyle, but she’d never been jealous over a man.

Jill jiggled the arm still looped through Haven’s. “So? What do you think? Should I go for it?”

How could she answer without sounding suspicious? She hadn’t told her friends about their affair at the time because while it was going on, she’d wanted to keep it private, something for just the two of them. Telling them after the fact would have only hurt more, when they’d offer sympathy. Now, well, she hadn’t been lying when she told Eric she didn’t want their drama to disrupt the weekend. Besides, this way the affair was still something that belonged to only the two of them, and the idea of that warmed her.

“He’s been in the jungle all this time,” she told Jill. “He may not have much staying power.”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, he passed her on the trail, turning to stare, his eyes wide. Before she could wish herself into a hole in the ground, Jill burst out laughing.

They reached the picnic area where the resort staff had laid out an elegant arrangement, white cloths on the ground, silver buckets icing champagne, trays of fruits and cheeses artfully set on the linens. Nearby a cooler held bottled water and wait staff stood by ready to serve sandwiches.

“This is my kind of picnic.” Jill split from Haven and hovered near Eric, as if waiting to see where he’d sit.

Haven didn’t. She sat near Christine and helped herself to a strawberry as Jared opened the champagne. When she glanced up, she saw Eric sitting across the linen from her, looking at her. Great.

Jared motioned with the bottle of champagne. Ignoring Eric, she leaned forward, holding out her flute so Jared could pour. She sat back, her weight on her hands, and grinned at Christine, who lifted her shoulders in an exaggerated sigh, though Haven noticed that she kept an eye on the servers to make sure everything ran smoothly. Affectionately, Haven patted her friend’s thigh to remind her to enjoy the weekend. But with Eric present, it took her a bit—and two glasses of champagne—to relax. Finally the teasing among the groomsmen penetrated her nerves and she let the tension ease from her own shoulders.

“It was a science experiment,” Eric protested when Jared brought up the smoke bombs in the boys’ restrooms.

“To what? See how quickly you could get me suspended?” Jared shot back.

“To see how fast the fire alarm went off,” Eric replied. “Took a damned long time, as I recall.”

“And two seconds after that, the principal was hauling us out by our ears.” Jared shook his head, smiling fondly at Christine.

“Wouldn’t have been so bad if she’d looked like Haven,” Eric said, his eyes glinting at her. “I might have gone to the principal’s office even more often.”

“You couldn’t have gone more often,” Jared countered. “And she looked like what she was, a former WAC shoved into a purple suit.”

Eric leaned across the linen toward Haven. “She was shorter than some of the fifth graders but could kick their asses with one look. No lie.”

“How often did she kick yours?” she asked, unable to hide a smile. When they’d been together, she hadn’t seen him interact with his friends and hadn’t realized what she was missing.

He eased away with a smile of his own. “Every damn day.”

The walk back to the resort was more relaxed as the four bridesmaids, four groomsmen and Christine’s family headed back up the hill. Haven still kept her distance from Eric, concentrating instead on listening to Christine enumerate the tasks that needed to be done before tomorrow. The bride’s tone was sleepy and she weaved a bit on the path. Haven reached out to catch her elbow, and her foot slipped out of her sandal, twisting beneath her.

With a grunt of frustration and pain, she landed on her ass on the dusty path. Before she could catch her breath, Eric crouched before her, his hands on her ankle, which was beginning to throb.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his fingers smoothing over her skin.

Haven stopped herself from jerking away from that touch, so familiar that her hormones were dancing, appreciating the tingle his callused fingertips sent from the tender skin behind her ankle to the apex of her thighs. But to react strongly would only alert everyone to their previous relationship. “I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.” She drew her knee up, breaking contact and breathing a sigh of relief. She looked past him to Christine, who bent over his shoulder, tucking her hair behind her ear and furrowing her brow. “Don’t worry. Nothing is going to stop me from walking down that aisle tomorrow.”

Christine lifted her gaze to Haven’s and smiled. “All that matters is that you’re okay.”

“I think so.” Eric took her ankle again, his thumb brushing over the hollow above her heel. He grinned at her, temporarily making her forget all about the pain, making her think—other things that she shouldn’t be thinking in front of her friends. She lowered her gaze, choosing the pain over the—well, the pain. “We’ll get you back and get some ice on it, you should be good as new.”

“Better be,” Mr. Padalecki said with a wink. “Dance lessons tonight.”

Eric grasped her arm and helped her stand. She tried to put her weight on her foot and winced. “You don’t want to aggravate it.” Eric looped his arm around her waist, his hand resting below her breast. His touch seared through the thin fabric of the T-shirt as if she wore nothing. “Lean on me.”

“No, really, I can—”

“Better this way.” He released her and turned his back. “Jared, give her a boost.”

Haven wished she could melt into the ground as everyone in their party watched. She stared at his broad back. “You aren’t going to carry me.”

“It’s only a little ways.”

“Uphill.” And she’d have to smell him and feel his muscles move and remember. “I can make it.”

He looked over his shoulder at her and must have seen her desperation for this all to go away, because he nodded. “You can lean on me if you want.”

“I’ll be fine,” she said again, but each step sent a twinge through her. So she held on to Jill.

“Dummy,” Jill muttered. “I would have ridden that all the way home.”

Two Step Temptation is available here!

First Chapter of One Rockin’ Night


I show my bracelet to the guy at the door of Club Angel and he gives me a nod, so I slide through the crowd and march to the couch where I’d been sitting earlier with my friends. I don’t know what I expect to find, my friend Maya sitting there forlornly, waiting for me to rescue her, but she hasn’t answered her phone in like forty-five minutes or so, so I’ve come back to look for her.

A group of us have come to the city to celebrate our friend Riva’s thirtieth birthday. We had all gone to college together, and so this was kind of a reunion for most of us, except me and Maya, who teach together in our small town of Cascade. We drove together to the reunion, and I should have been paying closer attention when we left this club, because we left without Maya.

Instead of finding her sitting on the couch, though, I find a group of five guys, and they’re rowdy and already pretty drunk, I guess, so I’m not really sure how to approach them. I teach elementary school, for God’s sake. I don’t know how to deal with men.

One of them sees me looking. His gaze grows shrewd, and he leans forward.

My first instinct is to snatch my gaze away and look toward the bar. Maybe she’s there, since she is only one person and wouldn’t want to take up the whole sofa.

So I look, and take a couple of steps toward the space, which is raised a bit over the area where I am, but I can still feel that gaze on me. Despite my instincts, I look back, and he’s still watching me. He’s hella good looking, too, chiseled jaw, a slight dimple in his chin, and even in the dim lights I can see he has light eyes. Blue, I think, but I can’t be sure.

I am not the kind of girls guys stare at. I am too tall and too heavy, and too plain. Okay, tonight I’m wearing a body-con dress I felt good in before, but now I’m having second thoughts. Diane had tried to get me to wear it without a bra, but no way, and yes, I have a bit of a panty line because I’m sorry, thongs are uncomfortable and I didn’t want to be miserable tonight.

But he’s watching me.

I expect him to make a rude comment, because I’m used to those.

“Can I help you?” he asks, his voice kind of sharp.

Weird, right, because he doesn’t work here, so how could he help me? But it’s worth a shot. “I’m looking for my friend. We left, and she didn’t come with us, and I just want to make sure she’s okay.”

His question to me draws the attention of his companions, too. Fan-freaking-tastic. Just what I want, to be the center of attention.

“You came back by yourself to look for her.”

All my alarms are up now. “My friends know where I am.” I square my shoulders and look down my nose at him. “We were sitting here before we left. Would you have seen her?”

Something flickers across his face. “Curly hair? Little dress?”

“Um, yes. You saw her?” Hope rises in my chest, and I look toward the dance floor. Maybe she’s out there having the time of her life, not caring that I’ve been freaking the fuck out looking for her.

“I did. She lost her purse and her phone. My guitar player took her to find you guys.”

She lost her purse. That explains so much, and yet…

“Where did they go?”

He sits back and shrugs. “They didn’t tell me.”

Well, that’s just great. How am I going to find her if she left here without a phone or anything? And with a strange guy on top of that?

“She didn’t have her purse?” I know I sound stupid, but my brain is running ahead, trying to figure out why she didn’t have her purse, and how this guy knew.

He shook his head. “She made us all get up to look for it. We didn’t find it, but my friend has his phone.”

I hate asking this guy for anything, because I do not like the way he is looking at me, but how else will I find Maya? “Could you call him and see where they are?”

He slides me a look, like I should know better. “I will text him and see where they are.”

I guess I should be thankful for that, right? I nod, and watch him pull out his phone to text. His fingers are long and fast on the small screen, and he has tattoos on his knuckles.

I’ve never known a guy with tattoos on his knuckles.

“Can you, ah, text me when you hear back?” I hold up my own phone, ready to enter his contact information.

He takes the phone and enters his number, then hands it back.

His name is Jase.

“Are you leaving?” he asks me.

I should. She’s clearly not here, and I could go back with my friends and wait for a text from him.

But I don’t know him, and I’m not sure I trust him to remember to text me, anyway. So I shake my head. “I’ll be over at the bar.”

He grunts, but I ignore him and march toward the bar. There’s a seat at the end, and I have a little trouble getting into it because of the tight hem of my skirt, but I manage, and happen to glance over to see he is still watching me.

God, why?

I order a drink because I’d feel weird sitting here not drinking, and I hope it’s a big one, because that way I can nurse it, but of course it’s a tiny one, like two swallows and I’ll be done. Still, I take a sip, and it is way nastier than expected.

I glance over at the couch again, because how can I not? He is really pretty. I don’t even think he would mind that description, because it’s so apt. He looks like a Disney prince.

With tattoos on his knuckles.

And then it hits me who he is. He said Maya had gone off with his guitar player, and now as I look down the sofa, I recognize the singer. 

Jase is the drummer for Obscure Magic.

“Hey, pretty lady, can I buy you a drink?”

I am not accustomed to being approached, so I jolt and turn toward the sound of the voice.

Then jolt again.

The man with the scraggly blond hair could not be farther from my type. For one, the hair is not the only thing scraggly about him, and yes, I feel terrible judging him on his appearance, but I’m twice his size, and he just…no. Besides, I have other things on my mind.

“No, thank you.”

His smile, which was already kind of over-the-top, like he was forcing his cheerfulness, dimmed and looked a little…mean.

“Shouldn’t be so picky.”

I do not have any desire to explain my dilemma to this man, so I just shake my head again and turn up my smile, to off-set his.

“I’m not in the market tonight. But thank you.”

The smile disappears altogether and he pivots. “Bitch,” he tosses over his shoulder.

Well, okay then.

My phone pings. I turn it over and look at the number. It’s Jase.

How many teeth did he have?

The comment startles a laugh out of me, which I cover with my fingers.

That’s just mean.

I want to look at him, but I don’t want to see the smirk I know will be on his face.

I see the dots appear, but don’t want him to see me watching the phone waiting for his text, so I set my phone, screen down, back on the bar.

Which doesn’t give me much to do as I’m sitting here, and I inadvertently make eye contact with a guy across the bar. I smile—it’s a reflex, okay? A teacher thing—and great. He picks up his drink and rounds the bar to me. I’m already shaking my head. No, no, no thank you, no. How can I convey that any more clearly?

“Hey,” he says.

“Waiting for someone,” I lie.

He sets his drink on the bar next to mine. A highball glass, probably whiskey, but there’s not much left. “I’ll keep you company until he gets here.”

“No, thank you. I prefer to be alone.” Look, I don’t go to bars very often, at all, and I’m generally a nice person, but I don’t want to deal with this guy, and my nerves are a little frayed.

So his reaction kind of catches me off guard. He draws himself to his full height, which, let’s be honest, if I was standing next to him, I’d probably tower over him, and his nose pinches.

“Bitch, then don’t send invitations.”

I blink, but fortunately he doesn’t say more, picks up his drink and marches back to his seat across the bar.

I pick up my phone, not wanting to make any more inadvertent eye contact, and the screen lights up.

He probably has a thing for his sister.

I smile. Why do I smile? Because Jase is paying attention to me? At least I feel like I have back-up if my mouth gets me in trouble.

Even as I study my phone—and watch the battery drain, which only adds to my fraying nerves, yet another guy approaches.

“My friend said he thought you looked lonely.”

I look from the man—a skinny, bespectacled pre-Jurassic Park Jeff Goldblum type that I ordinarily would not reject—to where he gestured.

The thin-skinned guy I’d rejected moments before. He salutes me with his glass, and I narrow my gaze, then turn back to Jeff.

“I’m sorry. I told your friend I was waiting for someone.”

He leans on the bar, and yeah, he would be plenty tall enough for me, and waggles his eyebrows. “For me, I guarantee it.”

So. He has gotten the Jeff Goldblum comparison before because that is a quote from Jurassic Park. Well, close enough, anyway, and not a Jeff Goldblum line but—

Okay, not important that I clearly know that movie too well.

“No, thank you. I’m waiting.”

At least he takes his rejection with better grace than his friend, though he gives me a sneer as he straightens and walks away.

I think that one has a tail.

Shut up.

You want me to come sit with you to keep the creeps away?

I do not. Just let me know when you hear from your friend.

Poor Maya. She has to be so scared. I’m pretty scared myself. I can’t just sit here, though, and my tiny drink is empty. I flag down the bartender and point to a drink a lady down the bar is enjoying, in a very large glass.

“I’ll take one of those.”

I fold my hands in front of me as I wait, as the bartender takes my glass and turns away. I’m careful not to make eye contact with anyone at the bar, but not careful enough not to swing my gaze toward Jase.

Who has two Barbie dolls draped all over him. Okay, not exactly draped. One is sitting to his right, leaning in, and the other is, like, looming over him because she can’t wedge onto the couch beside him. Both women appear to be identical, but maybe it’s just the type.

Jase makes eye contact with me and mouths the word, “Help!”

I lift an eyebrow at him, trying to assess if he is serious or not.

“Please!” he pleads silently.

I take a gulp of the drink the bartender has just set in front of me—mistake, because I can barely keep myself from coughing it back up since it tastes like it is probably one hundred percent alcohol—and slide off the stool to march over to Jase and the two girls.

I haul my arm back and toss the rest of the drink in his face.

He sputters and squints as I take a step closer.

“I told you we could add one girl, not two. What do you take me for? You have one mouth and one—“ I gesture toward his groin. “You think I’m going to sit and watch you with two girls?”

I have to admit, the picture I painted for myself surprised me. The idea of watching him with two girls was kind of hot, actually.

I clearly have had too much to drink.

He leans forward, swiping his right arm over his face to get the remainder of my drink off his face. When he looks up at me, I see his eyes are alight with amusement. Clearly, he didn’t expect me to take this tactic. Me, I’m still regretting the twenty dollars I’d spent on that drink that was now dripping from his nose.

“You said you like to watch.”

I swallow hard. What have I done? One thing for me to try to shake the girls by suggesting this—and may I note, they are not shaken, they’re still hanging around—but another to plant that thought in his head, that I would be down for that. With him. With anyone.

“How would you like it if I asked two guys to come with us?”

“Those two guys?” He looks toward the bar where Jeff and Thin-Skin are hanging out.

I make a gagging motion. “One. Girl. Pick one.” I motion to Barbie and Skipper, or whoever they are.

“Okay.” He rises and takes a step closer to me.

He’s tall, and warm, and so damned hot. Then he slides his hand around the back of my neck and angles my head just so.

“I pick you.”

And he covers my mouth with his.

One Rockin’ Night is available on Amazon.

First Chapter of Two Nights on the Island

Nathaniel Reis walked out of the hangar and tossed aside the chamois cloth as he watched the blonde cross the asphalt, her stride confident despite the uneven pavement and her ridiculous high heels. Despite the business suit that hugged her figure and showed off those amazing legs, despite the knotted blonde hair, he could see the woman he’d fallen in love with ten years ago.

The woman who’d left him last year. The woman who had no idea she’d hired him to be her pilot.

Yeah, she was going to be pissed.

He stepped out of the shadows and saw the exact moment she recognized him. Her foot in her high heel twisted, the suitcase she rolled behind her bumped into her heel and she snapped her shoulders straight. He thought for a moment she’d turn and walk away, but she’d always been too stubborn for her own good.

He was ready to benefit from that for a change. 

“Tess,” he greeted. Then all the smart remarks he’d had thought to say when he came up with his plan evaporated when he looked into those familiar green eyes. Her lush mouth tightened in a frustrated line.

“You.” The word came from the back of her throat. “Please tell me you’re not my pilot.”

He bowed deeply, sweeping off his grimy gimme cap. “At your service.”

“I’m going to kill Carl,” she muttered, turning away to yank the wheel of her suitcase out of a pit in the pavement.

Nat hid a smile. Carl, her assistant, had helped him set this up, arranging for her to miss the flight to the resort island with her colleagues, then finding her an alternative means of transportation—Nat’s commuter plane.

She glared, eyes bright with anger, and if he wasn’t mistaken, unshed tears. 

“I was given to understand time is of the essence.” He leveled his voice to a soothing tone, the sight of her tears as unnerving as always. “No time for you to go with someone else if you want to get to the island for your corporate retreat.”

She rocked back on her heels and folded her arms. “I suppose you’re the only pilot on duty.”

“I am.”

She clenched her jaw and looked around. Her gaze fell on the lone plane on the tarmac, his single engine baby, restored by his own hands, and she tensed further. He hadn’t thought it possible.

“Tell me that’s not our plane.”

“You hate it when I lie to you.”

Her gaze snapped back to his and a touch of guilt niggled when she sucked her bottom lip between her teeth. She never had cared for flying. But she popped the lip out again as if unwilling to let him see her fear. She never had let him see her weaknesses, not until they overwhelmed her and it was too late. Hell, he hadn’t known how miserable she was in their marriage until she’d walked away. Her haughty expression returned and she flicked her gaze up and down the length of his body. He waited for something to warm her eyes—attraction, memory—but too much ice buried her emotions. 

She squared her shoulders. “Right. How soon can you be ready?”

He spread his arms. “I’m ready now.”

Her eyes widened just a bit at his cargo shorts and stretched-out T-shirt, the cap, the unlaced boots. Yeah, he’d put a lot of thought into how he’d greet her. If he’d walked out wearing jeans and a nice shirt, she’d know something was up. Maybe he’d overdone it the other way.

Apprehension lodged in his chest. Maybe this had been a mistake. Maybe nothing of the woman he loved remained. He’d ruined the carefree girl she’d been, soured their relationship, allowing her to become invisible. Was there anything left to salvage? 

Still, he’d put too much time into this plan to back out now. He’d waited—maybe too long—until his business was steady before he’d gone to look for her. He didn’t want to wait any longer. If the plan didn’t work, he’d bring them back here and let her go. But if he didn’t follow through, he’d always wonder. 

“At least change your shirt,” she urged.

She’d never cared so much about appearance before, and the change in her gave him one more twinge of regret. “No one at your resort is going to know who I am.”

“I’ll know. Please, Nat. Is it really too much to ask?”

He resisted the urge to strip off the shirt right in front of her. She was already teetering on the edge of her temper. Now was not the time to push her over, not when she could still walk away. Instead he nodded once and turned into the hangar. 

Tess Bonner drew her suitcase to an upright position and leaned briefly on the handle, hoping to settle her shaking legs. She’d recognized him the moment he stepped out of the shadows, though this was the last place she expected to see her estranged husband.

He looked amazing, too, relaxed in his T-shirt, cargo shorts and hiking boots, scruffy stubble along his jaw, his hair only slightly longer than he’d worn it in the service. His hands were stained with grease and scraped as if he had to work hard to keep his plane in working order. What had brought him here? 

She shut the thought down. Nat couldn’t be her concern anymore. 

She should have trusted her instincts. When she saw the letters NR together, she still thought of Nat, so BANR Airlines had given her pause for a moment. After all, Nat had joined the Air Force to become a pilot. But he’d been an Air Force pilot, a lifer with a military-is-God attitude. She never thought he’d own his own airfield, not here in Florida. The military had formed him into the perfect man to work for a big airline, with all their rules and regulations. He did love the rules and regulations.

How ironic that he seemed to be living a carefree life now, and she was the one following rules.

She never thought he’d actually leave the military. He’d loved being a pilot, loved training new pilots. What had changed since she walked away?

Nat returned with a pristine white linen shirt over his T-shirt that made his shoulders look huge and set off his tan. He hadn’t looked so good in years, and for a moment she savored the heat rushing through her as she remembered his body sliding against hers, over hers, in hers.

At least the trip to the resort was short. Once he was out of sight, he’d once again be out of mind.

Right. She hated when he lied to her, but had no problems lying to herself.

Two Nights on the Island is available at all retailers!