Tag Archives: #SundaySnippet

#SundaySnippet 9.8.19

I don’t have a cover yet for my next A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN book, just a title: TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS. This is oldest O’Dowd sister CATHLEEN’S story. Widowed, lonely, and bit of a workaholic, Cathy is despairing she will ever find another man to warm her bed at night and one she can love forever. She agrees to attend a speed dating night, organized by her high school friend, Olivia, a local matchmaker. This little scene is after the event:

The lights were still on inside the house when Olivia dropped me back home three hours later.

“I don’t want you to be discouraged, Cathy,” she said as I unbuckled my seatbelt. “This was just your first event.”

And if I had anything to say about it, it was my last.

“Tonight was a mish-mash of personality types and age groups. I’d invited you so you could get a feel for what’s involved in the process. I didn’t expect you to meet or connect with anyone. We need to get together privately so I can figure out the type of man you’re interested in. Then, I can set up something in the future more to your taste level.”

My taste level? Good Lord. If tonight was any indication, there were no men out there who even came close to an appetizer much less a main course.

“Liv, I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I’m busy with the practice, handling Nanny’s affairs.” I swiped my gloved hand in the air. “I’m not sure I have the energy to be involved at the moment.”

She smiled and nodded. “Going out to dinner or a movie with a nice guy doesn’t mean you have to sign a marriage contract, Cath. According to Fiona all you do is work.”

“Well, yeah. Because I’m busy.”

Duh.

“I get that. But you can take a break every now and again, you know. Just think about it,” she added when I opened my mouth again, ready to protest.

Resigned, I nodded.

“I’ll call you in a few days and we can grab some lunch, okay?”

“Sure,” I said.

The house was lit and warm when I walked through the front door. I’d thought Frayne had left the lights on so I wouldn’t come home to a dark, empty house. The moment I closed the door behind me I realized I was wrong, because the house wasn’t empty at all.

Mac Frayne was seated at my dining room table, a laptop opened in front of him.

“You’re still here.”

Why that blue-eyed and befuddled stare meeting me through those thick lenses was such a turn on is a mystery I don’t think I’ll ever solve, but the moment his dazed gaze zeroed in on me and then cleared, his eyes widening, then narrowing, my legs got a little wobbly and my pulse jumped.

He tugged the glasses off and tossed them onto the table, his gaze never wavering my face.

“And you’re back early,” he said, rising.

I draped my coat over my forearm, kicked off my shoes, and shrugged. “It wasn’t supposed to be a long, drawn-out evening.”

Frayne took a few steps toward me, the lines in his forehead grooving deeper. “How was it?”

“Horrible,” I said, before I could stop myself. I shook my head as I moved towards the hall closet. “That’s unfair,” I added, as I hung up my coat. “It wasn’t horrible, as much as something not for me.”

I turned and barreled into Frayne.

Jesus.” His hands shot out and braced my upper arms. “You don’t make a sound when you move.”

“A lifetime of apartment living,” he said. Once I was sure footed and guaranteed not to fall into him again, he lowered his hands.

If I’d had any nerve I would have asked him to put them back. Instead, I swallowed, turned, and walked toward the kitchen, as he asked, “Why wasn’t it something for you?”

I ignored the question. “I’m starving. Have you had anything to eat?”

I wasn’t surprised when he followed me.

“Not since lunch at the Inn. Maureen had soup and sandwiches today, which, like everything else she’s served since I’ve been here, were delicious.”

“Mo only knows how to do delicious.” I peeked inside my fridge. “And speaking of,” I pulled out a glass container. “This is fried chicken she gave me this morning. Want some?”

He leaned a hip against the counter and cocked his head.

“You don’t mind sharing?”

“We both have to eat.”

I put the mashed sweet potatoes she’d sent along in a microwave bowl, then set the timer.

“I hope you like your chicken cold because I’m in no mood to wait for the oven to heat.”

That darling little curl popped up in the corner of his mouth.

“Cold is fine.”

“Did you read any more of Josiah’s diaries?” I asked while I pulled plates from the cabinet.

When he didn’t answer I looked over at him. His quizzical head cock was in place again.

“What?”

“I’m curious why you won’t answer my question.”

I stared at the microwave, taking a moment to formulate my answer.

“The whole concept of dating is alien to me. I knew Danny since the second grade and we got married when we were eighteen. He was the only guy I ever went out with, and it wasn’t even what anyone would consider dating, since we’d been together forever. Having to start all over at this age is”—I lifted one shoulder—“mentally exhausting.”

“Why did you agree to go, then?”

“Because, as my grandmother succinctly put it, it’s time to move on.”

“And you thought hiring a matchmaker was the way to meet someone?”

“I didn’t seek Olivia out. I kind of got railroaded into it.”

I explained how the situation came about while I put the food on the kitchen table. Once seated, I continued.

“Before I knew it, I’d agreed to go to tonight’s”—I waved my hand in the air—“thing.”

“So, again, why wasn’t it for you? I don’t know a lot about speed dating, but from what I’ve read it’s popular among millennials. Along with right-swipe hookups.” The jagged shake of his head told me all I needed to know how he felt about the way people met these days.

“And that’s the problem.” I pointed my sweet potato-laden fork at him. “I’m in the wrong age bracket. Call me old fashioned but I prefer to meet someone and get to know them organically and over time, not try and stuff the story of my life into three minutes before an egg timer beeps. Even though I didn’t participate I was tense and stressed watching the others who were. It all seemed…desperate to me.”

I stopped, mortified I’d admitted it, because in truth, that’s what I’d been feeling watching the group tonight.

From the moment we’d arrived at the restaurant I could tell I’d made a big mistake. The women were all older than me, had hungry, hopeful gleams in their eyes and when they caught sight of me, a few of their stares turned hostile. I was all set to beat a hasty retreat when Olivia’s hand at the small of my back propelled me forward.

Part of the restaurant had been cordoned off, a half dozen tables for two set-up in a semi-circle. Six women, six men, I assumed.

What’s that saying about what happens when you assume something?

A quick glance back at the hostility bowling my way and I realized it wasn’t because of my outfit or my age, but the fact I had the wrong chromosomes.

With me included, there were eight women. I’m better at words than math, but even a five year old knew that left a smaller number of men.

With a gentle prod, Olivia shoved me towards the gaggle of women. For the first time in my life I understood any sympathized with how Daniel must felt walking into the lion’s den.

“Ladies,” I said, with head bob and a tremulous smile.

Silence came back at me. I could stare down the most antagonistic of witnesses in a courtroom without even a thought, but for some reason all my courage flew south as these women glared at me through overly made-up, amateurly applied smoky eyes.

I swallowed the golf ball of fear in my throat.

“How’s everyone doing tonight?” I asked.

Lame, I know, but I was truly out of my element.

“You’re new,” a voice said. “Haven’t seen you before.”

“Y-yes. I’m a…friend…of Olivia’s.” If they thought I posed no dating threat, I figured they wouldn’t disembowel me.

“You joining in tonight, then?”

“Just an observer,” I assured her.

“Hey, aren’t you Fintan O’Dowd’s oldest?” One of them asked. Well, accused would be more the appropriate word choice.

Another quirk of living in a small community, especially with a well-known parent: everyone knows who you are and who you’re related to whether you know them or not. Since I didn’t recognize the woman asking, I nodded.

“Thought you was married.” Yup, accused was the correct word.

“I was. I’m a widow. My husband died…was killed. In Afghanistan.”

Immediately, their collective animosity flew right out the restaurant’s front door. They approached me in a cluster, cooing, and clicking their tongues in sad support of my plight.

If I’d known that was all it took to get them to put their invisible pitchforks and blunderbusses away I’d have led with it.

And yes, I know that’s dramatic, but their facial expressions up until then were fifty shades of scary.

A few moments later Olivia clapped her hands and called us to order.

I stood with her off at the side while she read the rules and held a stopwatch. A small bell sat on the table in front of her. At the first ding, the room went into motion.

The seven women all took their seats while the five men inspected them like hunters evaluating prey, and then made their way to the tables of their choice. I felt bad for the two women who sat solo.

“Don’t worry about them,” Olivia said, when I voiced my concern. “Everyone will have a chance to meet. You want to sit down at one of the tables and give this a go?”

Having a root canal without anesthesia while simultaneously getting my fingernails removed had more appeal. I declined, nicely, and said I just wanted to watch.

Intrigued? I’ll be posting soon on the cover and the release date, so stay tuned.

And don’t forget, book 1 DEARLY BELOVED is available now: Amazon // Kobo  // Barnes and Nobel  //Apple // Google Play//

 

Until next time ~ Peg

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Contemporary Romance, Dearly Beloved, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet 8.25.19

AS I continue with my no-using-my-right-arm imprisonment/status, I wanted to give you a little sumthin’ sumthin’ I’ve been writing, off and on, for about 2 months. Some days I get the urge to add to it, others not, even though it’s fully outlined and plotted.

I love my San Valentino family books and the newest one I’m penning concerns a branch of the San Val’s we haven’t seen yet. Luigi San Valentino is Sonny (CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS) and Joey’s ( A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS) cousin. He owns a deli and is married to Frankie’s sister, Gracie ( Both books, plus 3 Wishes Their oldest child is Madonna “Donna” and she works for her father in the deli. Madonna would really like to NOT work for her father, but, as the oldest, the responsibility has fallen to her, especially since her five younger brothers are all pains in the ass!

These scene is a long one and sets the tone of the book. It’s unedited so don’t send me any messages about misplaced modifiers, runon sentences, or tense issue. I already know about them because this is free-writing, not uberedited prose. Hee hee.

Chapter One

Life lessons for surviving in an Italian family, number 1: never let them see you sweat.

I knew something was wrong the moment I arrived at the deli. The first indication? The back door was unlocked, something my obsessive/compulsive father made sure never happened since he was the last one to leave the store every night. He did this religiously because I was the first one to arrive every morning at the crack-ass of creation, just like today, and had to plug in the security code on the wall box in order to gain entrance and get the deli ready for the day’s business.

My daily bread and roll delivery, courtesy of my cousin Regina’s bakery, sat outside the door in a large wooden crate. I grabbed  it, and hip checked the door wide open.

The second sign all was not as it should be was the lights were lit in the entrance hallway. Since I got to work when it was still dark out no matter if it was Daylight Savings time, or Standard, I routinely had to fumble to find the wall switch to illuminate the back end of the deli.

Not so this morning.

The final signal something was amiss was the smell.

I’ve been around raw meat my entire life since I grew up in my father’s kitchen and then worked at the deli he owned and operated in our neighborhood since I was eleven years old. The smell of animal blood was as recognizable to me as my mother’s knock-off L’ air du temp. Although, admittedly, mom’s perfume smelled way better. Most days, anyway.

The scent filling the air this morning was both familiar and different. Wrong, somehow.

“Hello?” I called out. “Is someone here?” An eerie sense of quiet surrounded me. I put the bread crate down on the tiled floor. Cautiously, I crept along the hallway leading to the front end of the deli, my hand sliding against the wall, my huge purse held in front of me like Wonder Woman’s golden shield of protection.

Being the oldest of six kids and the only girl to boot, I don’t scare easily. My brothers, are, each and every one of them, a pain in the ass to their cores and I’d grown up the victim of their arguably stupid shenanigans too many times to keep count. Cooked linguini placed in my bed to look like worms; a farting cushion stuck in my usual chair at the dinner table and just waiting for me to settle unknowingly on it; toothpaste spread on my sandwich instead of peanut butter. More times than I could remember one of them would hide in my closet and then jump out at me when I least suspected it. Anything and everything dumb and dumber they could think up to annoy me, they’d done. And still did to this day if they thought they could get away with it. Chronological maturity hadn’t made its way to their brains yet and they all still acted liked little boys when it came to infuriating me.

This spine tingling sense of unease ripping through me didn’t feel like this was one of their usual pranks, though.

But with my brothers, you never know.

“I swear to Christ, Rafeale,” I called out, naming the baby in my family and the one voted most likely to do something asinine, “if this is some dumbass attempt to scare me, I’m gonna make you suffer.”

I crept along the hallway, passed my father’s office and my own. Both doors were open, the rooms empty.

Now that I was closer to the front of the store, the smell was stronger, more pervasive and…ripe.

If you’ve ever left a piece of meat or pork out all day trying to defrost it, and forgotten about it until too late, you’ll recognize the odor.

“Vinny? Vito? Are you guys here?” I called out again, naming my twin brothers. Silence came back at me.

The overhead lights in the front of the store weren’t on so I couldn’t see much inside the deli-proper. A tiny bit of illumination filtered in through the storefront window, enough to make out the shapes of the little tables and metal chairs that lined the front windows. A few years ago my mother had the idea to install these tables so people could come in on a lunch hour, order, and then sit down for a few minutes to eat instead of taking it away with them. It turned out to be a good idea, too, because once we added them, lunch hour business doubled by the end of the first month. It was the one and only time my father had ever listened to one of my mother’s business ideas.

She never let him forget it, either.

When I’d left yesterday afternoon, the tables and chairs were all straight and set into their little spaces surrounding the front window. When he closed the store, my father would upend the chairs onto the tables so he could sweep and then mop the floor.

I sidled up to the back of the glass display cases and looked right, then left. Nothing was amiss, but that itchy feeling hadn’t left me yet. I slid my free hand along the wall, found the switch and threw the place into total light, something I never did at this time of the morning. If anyone passing on the street saw the lights, they’d think we were open for business, which we weren’t, not for another two hours.

In retrospect, I should have left them off and never have come into the store once I found the back door unlocked and standing open.

Hindsight, as my Nonna Constanza used to say, is for sciocchi—fools— who think too much after the fact.

She wasn’t wrong when she was alive, and she wasn’t now, either.

The seating section looked as if a bomb had exploded. Tables and chairs were scattered every which-way, some turned over, others pushed up to the wall, a few of them lying on their sides. Glass salt and pepper shakers were smashed, their contents sprinkled across the tiled floor in a dust cloud of seasonings, the glass embedded within the debris. The breadbaskets I was due to fill were in a tangled heap on the floor, alongside broken bottles and jars of stock items that had slipped from the wall shelves.

If it wasn’t an explosive device that had caused this mess, than at the very least some kind of fight had occurred here during the night.

My eyes darted across the mess. Fury had replaced that tingle of uneasiness as I came around the display cases, calculating how long it was going to take to clean all this up.

I stopped short in front of the mozzarella display I’d rearranged yesterday, when I discovered the reason for the sickening smell: a wet pool of what I knew instinctively was blood, splattered across a two foot by two foot area. It looked like an obscene Rorschach blob.

It was at this point I knew my annoying brothers weren’t attempting to play a sick joke on me and something else entirely was going on here.

I pulled my cell phone from my shield/purse, fingered in the 911 code and then walked back down the hallway, heading toward the back door I’d come into less than five minutes earlier.

After speaking with the dispatcher, who assured me she was sending a unit to the store immediately and a caution to touch nothing, I went back out to the parking lot and called my father.

***

“Madonna Maria, why didn’t you call me when you first saw the door was open?” my father asked, twenty minutes later. His thick white hair stood all on end and the right side of his face was a web of sheet marks, indicating I’d woken him and all he’d done was thrown clothes on to get here as fast as he could. Half of one shirt-tail was tucked into his suspendered pants, the other, hanging free. He had two different sneakers on his feet, another indication he’d flown the coop fast. As he stood behind the deli counter with me, our two uniformed neighborhood beat cops examined the blood splotch.

“What if somebody was hidin’ in here, little girl? You could’a been hurt. Or worse.”

My father, unlike my mother, tends to keep a tight hold over his emotions and reactions. Perpetually calm and unendingly rational, even when plagued with five obnoxious sons who invented the term rambunctious, Luigi Leonardo San Valentino was the endless calm in a sea of family bedlam. Since my mother had no sway over the behavior of her ragazzi—the boys, especially—she tended to either ignore everything or get so pazzo—crazy—that nine times out of ten any situation, even the most innocuous and miniscule, could escalate to the equivalent of Mount Vesuvius erupting.

So when my father called me by my full given name instead of Donna, like he had every day of my life, and then little girl, I knew he was genuinely distressed. The sight of the six foot three, two hundred and forty pound bear of a man whose DNA I shared, with his forehead creased like Venetian blinds and the corners of his lips pulled down into two concerned commas, made me want to ease his mind any way I could.

“Daddy.” I wrapped my arms around his barrel chest and squeezed. “Don’t worry. I’m okay. There was no one lurking in here, waiting to do God knows what. I got out as soon as I called the cops.”

My father rubbed a beefy hand down my back. Whatever he’d been about to say was stopped when one of the beat cops called his name and asked to speak with him, privately.

“We can use my office,” he told them.

“Can we get that cleaned up?” I asked, pointing to the stain. The smell was even worse that when I’d found it. “We’re due to open in an hour.”

“I’m afraid you won’t be opening for business today, Donna,” Angelo Racconova, one of the cops told me. Angelo and I had gone to school at St. Rita Armada’s Academy. He was three years younger than me and had been best friends with my brother, Vito, ever since they were both in second grade. To say he grew up in my house wouldn’t be a lie.

“Why not? Can’t you just,” I swiped my hand in the air, “mop that up and go file a report or something?”

“Sorry, no.” His tone implied there was no arguing with him. “We don’t know where the blood came from. We gotta leave it there for the forensics guys to deal with. Don’t touch it, or nothing else, okay?”

“Well, when can we open, then? We’ve got a business to run here, Ang. Customers who depend on us.”

“I can’t tell ya, that, Donna. Not today, maybe not even tomorrow.” He turned away from me. “Mr. S?”
My father slid me a side-glance, then nodded to the two cops.“Donna, call the crew. Tell them we’re closed today and we’ll be in touch later on. ‘Kay?”

Fuming, I nodded.

He led them into his office and before shutting the door behind them added, “And call your Uncles. Tell ‘em to get over here.”

He didn’t need to tell me which uncles.

I did as asked, first making sure the closed sign was obvious on the front door and then going into my own office. I notified our staff we were taking an unexpected day off and told them the store had been broken into. I omitted telling them about the blood I’d found. There was only one employee I couldn’t reach,  one of our delivery guys. I had to leave a voice message for him, figuring he was already on his way.

That done, I called my Uncles Sonny and Joey. They aren’t really my uncles, not in the true definition of the word, since they aren’t my father’s or my mother’s brothers. They were daddy’s cousins, boys he’d been raised with and who he’d grown side by side into men with and were still close with to this day. My mother, Gracie, has an older sister named Francesca, my Aunt Frankie, who’s married to  Joey. So that makes him my Uncle Joey. In reality, he’s my second cousin—I think—but in the ways of Italian tradition and culture, anyone senior in a close family is called aunt or uncle out of respect.

Yeah, it’s a little weird. But…famiglia, you know?

Both of my uncles assured me they were on their way.

“Don’t call the cops until we get there and see what’s what,” Uncle Sonny advised.

“Too late. They’re in with daddy right now.”

A long, drama-laced breath filtered through my cell phone. Uncle Sonny’s rep in the family is as “the fixer.” Need a brand new car for way under list price, no credit questions asked, minimal down payment required? Call Uncle Sonny and he’ll hook you up. Want to take the little woman to the hottest Broadway show for your anniversary? The one that’s been sold out for six months straight? Give Sonny a jingle and you’ll have two front row tickets waiting for you at the theater box office. For every family wedding and funeral we were treated to a fleet of no-cost, maxed-out limousines, courtesy of a guy who knew a guy who owed Uncle Sonny a favor. No one in my family ever really knew what the favors being paid back were, and no one asked.

The San Valentino’s originated don’t ask, don’t tell long before the armed forces claimed it.

Sonny’s heavy sigh through the phone spoke volumes.

“Just keep things under wraps as much as you can, Donna, until me and Joey get there, okay?”

“Will do.” I didn’t bother telling him I’d already notified our workers.

Daddy was still sequestered with Angelo and his partner, and I was getting antsy. By now, on a normal business day, I’d already have re-stocked the shelves and display cabinets, gotten the sinks and prep areas ready and put out the coffee urns, milk and cups for our regular morning customers. Since Angelo had ordered me not to touch anything, I couldn’t occupy my time with any of those ordinary tasks. Even though we probably weren’t going to open today, the hope was that we would tomorrow, so I decided to get a jump on the supply ordering. First, I needed to check everything in our walk in storage areas and our industrial refrigerator.

Our supply list seemed to grow larger each time I ordered, something that warmed my mercenary shop-keeper’s heart. More supplies needed meant more things were being sold, which amounted to greater – here’s the mercenary part – profits.

A cold blast of icy air smacked me in the face when I opened the freezer’s heavy door. The usual mounds of deli meats and cheeses, salads, and produce lined the steel shelves from ceiling to floor. I ticked each item and the amount we had off on the clip-boarded list I’d brought in with me. Then, I moved towards the back to see if we needed to order any of the bigger meat items we routinely kept stocked, when I tripped over something sticking out from between two of the metal shelves.

I reached out and braced myself against one of the shelve posts to keep me from falling flat on my face and the clipboard fell from my hand. When I stooped to pick it back up and see what I’d stumbled over, it took me a moment to realize what it was.

A sneaker.

A man’s sneaker. Black and white, it looked…familiar. Like I’d seen it in a magazine or a television ad.

I tracked the shoe from the sole, up across to the laces—which were dirty and knotted and spackled with little droplets like paint—and then all the way up to the tongue.

Then my gaze traveled further. Up a jeans-clad lower leg.

“What the—”

I left the clipboard where it lay on the concrete and moved closer to the leg. I don’t think I realized, truly realized, what I was seeing until I peaked between the two shelves the foot was poking through.

The one worker I hadn’t been able to notify not to come in today, Chico, was laying on his back, his wrists bound and folded in his lap, a frosty mask of ice crystals covering his head and face. A thin knife, the kind my father uses to clean fish with, was perched in the center of his chest, the hilt sticking up. Little frozen red and white balls covered his t-shirt.

I may not scare easily, but the amount of times in my life I’ve encountered a dead—no, make that murdered body—can be counted on the fingers of one hand and still have 5 left over. A loud gasp blew through my cold lips as I sprinted back to the door. I needed to tell the cops what I’d found. Now.

I yanked the industrial door open, shot through it, and barreled, full body, into a solid wall. The wall smelled, strangely, of citrus. I would have bounced back and hit the door if the tangy smelling behemoth hadn’t reached out and, with a grip forged in steel, imprisoned me within hands as large as the ham my mother was planning to serve for Christmas dinner in a few weeks.

Trapped and suddenly terrified—who wouldn’t be after finding a murdered guy?—my body reacted in that instinctual flight or fight way it’s programed to during stress or danger.

My body, as usual, chose fight.

One valuable lesson being the sibling who was routinely charged with breaking up brotherly fights has taught me, is how to get out of a death hold.

In a move I’d learned out of necessity I took a step forward instead of retreating like a person being held routinely would, bent my arms at the elbows, lifted them up and then twisted them inward. The front of my forearms collided with the giant’s forearms and when they did I pressed outward with every ounce of force I had.

The hold broke, as I’d known it would.

Before the giant could draw a breath and grab me again, I lifted my arms, gripped him by the ears and hauled his head down to meet the knee I’d raised.

A loud, guttural groan reverberated around us.

And then several things happened at once.

The orange smelling wall of a man sputtered, “Jesus Christ, Donna,” while he held his nose in his hands.

My father’s furious “Madonna Marie!” lifted to the ceiling at the same time.

And Angelo Roccanova’s “Holy Shit,” competed with both of them. Another besuited man I didn’t know stood behind the three of them, but he kept his mouth closed and just stared at the guy I’d knee-ed

Confused and breathing like I’d just swam the length of the Hudson river twice, my gaze bounced from my wide-eyed and worried father, to a shocked and nervous Ang and then to the bent-at-the-waist colossus in front of me.

My throat bobbed up and down and the moisture in my mouth evaporated when the hulk lifted back to his full height, his piercing and angry gaze mating with mine the entire time. As he’d stood tall I’d been forced to take a step back in order to maintain eye contact. The now closed steel refrigerator door barred me from going any further.

I knew those eyes. Intimately. When they weren’t filled with anger, like they were right now, I knew how captivating they could be. The palest of blue and heavily lashed, they tilted up a tiny bit at the corners. Jealousy ramped through me. How unfair it was that a man was gifted eyes like that when I’d been cursed with the most dull and boring brown color ever blended.

Light hair, a mix of natural honey and wheat husks, straight and clipped short covered his head. Shoulders that spanned almost as wide as the hallway were covered by a dark tan sports jacket, the pants a deeper hue of the same color palette.

“Donna,” Ang said, in a tone filled with fear, “why’d you punch Detective Roma?”

“I didn’t punch…wait? Detective?”

I tried to lick some moisture back into my lips but my salivary glands had gone dormant during the flight or fight response. I glanced at each of the men standing in front me, stopping last on the one Ang had called a detective.

With one hand still covering his nose, the man lifted his gorgeous gaze to mine and just like I had when I’d been seventeen and climbed into the back seat of his brand new Z8, I lost what little sanity I possessed.

“Hey Donna,” Tony said, shaking his head. “Long time, and all. I see you’re still as sweet and mild mannered as ever.”

The next few minutes were a buzz of activity.

Once I snapped my shocked mouth closed at having the man I’d given my virginity to, who was now a card carrying NYC detective, standing in front of me, a lifetime of ingrained Catholic confession made me blurt out, “I didn’t kill him, I swear. He was dead when I found him.”

The four men staring at me stared a little harder.

Before I could be hauled off to jail, an embarrassment my parents would never survive, I told them to follow me back into the freezer. Once they’d all seen who exactly it was I hadn’t murdered, Tony Roma, the virginity taker, ordered everyone out of the freezer.

Intrigued? Guess we’ll have to see where the story goes….

Check out my PINTEREST page where I’m storyboarding the book, MADONNA, MOBSTERS, and MOZZARELLA

Until next time ~Peg

The San Valentino Holiday Books, available at Amazon. // B&N // Apple // Kobo // GooglePlay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 3 Wishes, A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Author Branding, Candy Hearts, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet 8.18.19

Last week I brought you a little sumthin’ from my upcoming WRP release of TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS. This week, I have another new WRP release coming out SOON from a new series called PRIDE OF BROTHERS. The first book is Rick’s Story.

Rick Bannerman’s job is to protect. An elite bodyguard and P.I., he’s used to denying his emotions and ignoring his feelings in order to keep those in his care safe, at all costs. When lawyer Abigail Laine becomes the target of a vengeful client, Rick slips in to protection mode even though Abby refuses his help.

Four years ago Rick left Abby standing on a balcony alone, after walking away from a kiss that sent them both reeling. His refusal stung, and Abby’s sworn to forget it so she can protect her heart and move on with her life. But now she needs Rick’s professional help and her reluctance to accept it could just cost her her life.

Can these two stubborn and independent people put their troubled past behind them and learn to trust one another?

Excerpt:

Rick was seated on the couch, his laptop on the table in front of him, an open bag of potato chips next to it.

“Where did those come from?”

“They were in the bag from Kandy,” he told her never looking up from his typing. “Josh took pity on me and sneaked them in.”

She pulled a bottle of water from the fridge. “Why would Josh need to take pity on you?”

If shamefaced had a proper name, it would be Rick, because that’s exactly the expression he wore on his face at her question. His shoulders curled forward a little, his neck almost disappearing into them. The tips of his ears turned ruddy, and he cleared his throat a few times before reaching for his own water bottle and taking a good chug.

He wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“Answer me,” she commanded when he put the bottle back down on the table.

She watched his neck work and couldn’t decide which emotion was stronger: the need to hear the answer to her question, or the desire to crawl into his lap and lick his neck—and every other part of him.

It was a testament to her analytical training that she opted for an answer.

“Maybe pity was the wrong word.”

Abby waited.

Rick scrubbed his hands through his hair and cupped the back of his neck. “Fine, but don’t get all pissy when I tell you, okay?”

For an answer, she cocked one of her eyebrows and dropped her chin.

“When we were over there, I happened to mention to Josh you don’t keep any junk food in the house. No cake, no chips, pretzels. Nothing to snack on.”

“Not true. I always have cut fruit in the fridge.”

The breath he blew between his lips told her what he thought of fruit as a snack. “Like I said, nothing to snack on. I kind of told him I was, you know, going through withdrawal, from the lack.”

She couldn’t help it: she laughed.

Rick straightened up in his seat, his eyes squinting at her. “You don’t have to laugh at me. You did ask.”

“How old are you?”

“What does my age have to do with anything?”

“You just said you were going through withdrawal because you haven’t had crappy snacks to munch on. Don’t—” She held a hand up to him to silence what he’d been about to say. “The stuff you like is crappy from a nutrition standpoint. The last time I heard someone complain like you was my nephew Declan when were all at the beach last month. He’s nine. Which is the age I’d expect a kid to be who’s made a statement like you just did.”

Rick shook his head. “I knew you were gonna get pissy.”

“I’m not being pissy because I eat food that’s actually good for me. You don’t live here, Rick. I do. You can fill your apartment to the ceiling with junk food and I won’t care, but this is my home, my space, and I don’t stock it full of bad food choices.”

“Why are you so hyper-vigilant and OCD about snacky stuff? It’s not gonna kill you to have a cupcake or some cheese puffs, you know.”

“Spoken like a man who can eat whatever he wants.”

“The hell does that mean?”

“It means you don’t need to worry about your weight. Ever. You’ve never struggled with an extra ounce of body fat in your life, Rick. I know that for fact. You have no idea what it’s like to count every calorie and watch every single thing that goes into your mouth because of the inevitability it’s going to wind up on your ass. I do. I wasn’t blessed with my grandmother’s metabolism like Kandy and most of my sisters. Ellie and I take after our dad’s side. We’re the only ones who do. One more thing to despise about him,” she added, pursing her lips. “I’ve had to deny myself food everyone else can eat with abandon since my teens. And it’s a struggle. A monumental one. I’m strong-willed, but sometimes willpower can only go so far, which is why I keep healthy foods around me so if I do snack, at least it’s on something I won’t obsess over about the calorie count.”

She took a long pull from her water bottle.

Rick’s gaze stayed on her while she drank. He didn’t seem embarrassed any more. In truth, she couldn’t tell what was behind that penetrating stare of his. She placed the bottle down on the counter next to her broken shoe.

“Come here,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Why?”

He wiggled his fingers. “Just, come here.” When she didn’t move he added, “Please.”

He took her hand when she got close and yanked her down onto his lap with her legs resting on the couch.

“For the record,” he said, winding one hand around her waist, the other across her thighs, “I love your ass. I love every part of your body. And whether you weighed fifty pounds or three fifty, you’d still be the sexiest woman I’ve ever known, Abigail.”

The words seeped into her soul. She wanted to believe them.

“And I’m sorry I dissed you to Josh. You’re right, I don’t live here, and I have no right to complain about anything. So, I’m sorry.”

Abby sat, quietly, staring up at him.

“What?” he asked when she tilted her head to one side.

“Contrition looks good on you.”

Intrigued? Stay tuned for more announcements on cover reveal, preorder links and release date!

And don’t forget, DEARLY BELOVED is still on sale until 8.23.19 Get your copy before book 2 comes out so you’ll be all caught up!

get your copy here:

amazon // B&N // ibooks

Until next time ~ Peg

5 Comments

Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Alpha Hero, Alpha Male, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Dialogue, Romance, Romance Books, The Laine Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet 8.11.19

Okay, so I don’t have a cover for this book yet, but book 2 in my Match Made in Heaven series, TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS will be out -hopefully – in the fall. 

If you’ve read book 1, DEARLY BELOVED, you’ve met oldest O’Dowd sister, Cathleen O’Dowd Mulvaney. Cathleen’s a family lawyer who took over her father’s practice when he retired. She’s a 39 year old widow and the emotional rock of her tight-knit family. She’s the sister everyone turns to for guidance, support, and advice because they all think she’s the most responsible, grounded one. What no one knows, though, is how emotionally fragile and tormented she really is.

In this snippet, my writer-hero Mac Frayne, and Cathy are sharing a pizza at the local pizzeria, and she divulges why she assumed the role of the “responsible sister” early on in life.

Read on…..

The line thickened, and he cocked his head in his familiar way. “Your sisters said you’re the one who takes care of everyone in a crisis.”

I nodded again.

“Why?”

A good question and one I’d debated with myself for most of my life. “The easiest answer is I’m the oldest and have always been what my parents termed the ‘responsible one.’ ”

“That doesn’t seem…fair.”

“Fair?” I shrugged. “Maybe not. As the oldest, I assumed responsibility more times than not, as a kid. It stuck through to adulthood.”

“Why?” I was charmed when the tips of his ears went florid. “I ask because family dynamics are intriguing and alien to me. As an only child, I don’t have any kind of firsthand knowledge about”—he flipped his hand in the air—“sibling pecking order and such.”

It was another good question and the answer one I’d never discussed with anyone. Why I was compelled to with him, though, seemed right.

After a moment to collect my thoughts, I leaned back in the booth and stretched my hands out on either side of my plate. “When the twins were four, my mother decided to go back to work a few days a week. Nanny was touring again, and my parents figured it would be fine if I was left in charge of watching my sisters for an hour or two after school. Mom didn’t need to work. My father made more than an adequate income but”—I shrugged—“I guess she needed some time away from kids, crying, and sister drama. Be with adults, you know?”

He nodded.

“Anyway. I hated being in charge of them. Colleen was okay because she was only a few years younger than I was and she never caused any trouble, but the twins were rambunctious. And wicked spoiled. They never listened to anything I told them, and I finally started ignoring them, left them to watch television or play by themselves. One afternoon, I was doing homework when I should have been minding them. They were screaming they wanted to go to the park, but I was tired and I had a test to study for, so I banished them to their room and forgot about them. Eileen, somehow, managed to get outside. She was always a little Houdini when it came to crawling out of her crib or high chair, but I never for a moment thought she’d be able to unlock the door and leave the house.”

The terror I remembered feeling when Colleen ran into my bedroom to tell me Eileen was missing wormed its way up from my memory and made my body start to shiver.

“Good Lord. What happened? Did she get far, or get hurt?”

I shook my head. “Luckily, a neighbor boy out walking his dog spotted her, right as Colleen and I sprinted down the road to search for her. The minute I saw her, I started screaming, which made her cry. Even Colleen was bawling. Maureen, who Colleen was holding, started up then. Mitchel Kineer, the poor kid who found her, was so uncomfortable with all of us standing in the road sobbing our eyes out, he beat a hasty retreat. When we got back to the house, I sat them down in the living room and read them the riot act. In truth, I think I was more frightened than they were. Colleen recovered quickly since she wasn’t in trouble and told me I was lucky Eileen hadn’t been hit by a car, or worse, and that our parents were going to be angry when they came home and found out what happened.”

“As a parent, I can understand that feeling.”

“It was the ‘or worse’ that got to me. My baby sister could have been taken by some psycho, or even wandered off into the woods and been lost forever. She was only four. She had no survival skills, no sense of right or wrong. Right then and there, I vowed never to complain about being left in charge or being the responsible one again.”

“You were a kid, Cathy.”

Was I ever just a kid?

“When my parents came home, I confessed what happened. Of course Colleen added her own sense of drama to the situation. If I wasn’t distraught enough about the whole incident to begin with, the looks of disappointment my parents gave me solidified the fact I was a horrible and irresponsible child. My mother quit her job soon after that. Like I said, she didn’t need to work. It took a long time before they trusted me again.”

I didn’t add I’d gone out of my way for years to prove I was a good, responsible, worthwhile daughter. I did chores before I was ever asked to, got straight A’s in school, helped my sisters in whatever way they asked or needed, all without being told or asked to by my parents.

“Didn’t you ever feel…I don’t know? Resentful, maybe?”

I was sure he wasn’t only talking about my status as the oldest sister. “Honestly, no.”

His brows were almost touching now, the skin around his eyes tight. “You’re a much better person than I am.”

“Better? I don’t think so,” I said. A smile bloomed quickly before I told him, “Nanny claims it’s because I’m a control freak like my father. Falling apples and trees, you know?”

My heart did a little stutter dance when the corners of his lips twitched.

“The same has been claimed about me a time or two.”

Intrigued? I hope so. More to come on TTA when I have “news” like book covers, release dates, etc. Stay tuned.

Oh, and BTW – the e-version of DEARLY BELOVED is currently on sale for just 99cents. If you haven’t read it yet, now is your chance before for book 2 drops, so you’ll be uptodate with the shenanigans going on in Heaven, NH ( hee hee!)

Buy Links:

amazon // B&N // ibooks

Until next time ~ Peg

 

3 Comments

Filed under Dearly Beloved, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet from DIRTY DAMSELS

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock ( or not reading my blogs!) you know I had a new release this week – my first from LIMITLESS PUBLISHING, DIRTY DAMSELS. It’s a modern day twist on Cinderella with Prince Charming in a suit and a CEO Cynderella.

Here’s a little bit from one of my favorite scenes featuring Nell Newbery, Ella’s BFF:

After my few hours with Buddy –and have I mentioned how fantastic they were?- I’d found Nell holding a sobbing CarrieAnn in our room. Apparently, one of the bridesmaids admitted to a more than passing crush on Casey and had tried to seduce him away from CarrieAnn one night at a party after imbibing a few too many tequila shots. Casey’s heart belonged to CarrieAnn though, and he thankfully resisted the offer. He’d been a gentleman, letting the girl down gently, and never told the love of his life one of her supposed besties had made a sloppy, drunken play for him. When the teary-eyed bridesmaid confessed what she’d done to CarrieAnn, the bride hadn’t been as gracious as her groom-to-be.

Nell reported hearing raised voices from the connecting suite around one-thirty. By the time she got into the room, the voices were at screech mode and CarrieAnn had the girl by the roots of her hair extensions and was holding her suspended over the balcony safety railing. The other girls were crying and wailing, imploring CarrieAnn to let her victim go. Our rooms were on the tenth floor and CarrieAnn was leaning the girl waaaaaay backward over the rail. This fact hit home with Nell straight away and she went into commando mode in a nanosecond.

Now, CarrieAnn is five ten and built like a supermodel/athlete. Nell, all five foot spit of her would routinely be no match. But add hours of alcohol consumption into a system – any system – and it will wear strength and emotions down. Nell told me she grabbed a yard of CarrieAnn’s hair, yanked it hard, and when she reached out to pull it back – letting go of Desdemona the bridesmaid, when she did – the other girls rushed in and pulled Desi to freedom. Freedom being their bathroom, where they locked the door against a now screaming, fist-pounding, drunken, and angry CarrieAnn.

It was then Nell started texting me for help.

Intrigued? Here’s where you can order your copy RIGHT NOW!!! Hee hee: in addition to being live in KU:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon UK:

Amazon AU:

Until next time ~ Peg

Leave a comment

Filed under Dirty Damsels, Dot Com Girls Romance, Limitless Publishing

#sundaySnippet 3.10.19 Hope’s Dream (Deerbourne Inn)


Today’s little snippet from HOPE’S DREAM ( a Deerbourne Inn Novella) shows Hope’s playfulness. She’s attracted to Tyler in a physical way at first, but the more they’re together, the more she realizes he’s the kind of guy she could see herself with for more than a weekend of skiing…

“All warm and rested now?” she asked. “Ready to get back out there? You’ve still got an hour left on your time, and I think you’re ready for a harder trail.”

Before he could stop it, a groan swelled up from deep down inside him. Hope chuckled and zipped up her jacket.

“It won’t be too hard,” she told him. “Promise.”

He stood as well and slipped his cap on. With an exaggerated eye roll, he asked, “Why don’t I believe you?”

“City folk.” Her lips angled into the most alluring smirk as she shook her head and fisted her hands on her trim hips. “So untrusting.”

The laughter was back in her eyes, but it wasn’t as bright and free as it had been before the mention of her parents.

“Come on, New York. Let me make a Vermonter out of you.”

Why it sounded so darn good to him was a mystery.

Hope was, by no means, a divulger, so why had she told him about her folks? Even with people she’d known forever she didn’t talk about the accident. Everyone in town knew about it, of course. It had been the hot topic of the day when it happened and was gossip-fueled for years after by a rumor her dad had been drunk when the car careered over the embankment. He’d been stone- cold sober, but it hadn’t made a bit difference to some people. It did to her. Living in a small community where the residents knew everything about their neighbors— good and bad—was hard at times. Hope loved Willow Springs, but there were moments she wished she could disappear for a while where no one knew her, her parents, or what had happened to them.

She never spoke about the accident, especially to a total stranger.

Why, then, had she with this man?

There was something about him, something…familiar, which was ridiculous. She hadn’t known him before three hours ago. She would have remembered him, if not for his looks, which were yummy in and of themselves, but for his voice. Deep timbered and strong, it possessed a wake-up rasp that made an impression on a girl. A lasting impression. Whenever he’d spoken, all her senses had stood at attention.

Buy Links: Amazon // Nook // iTunes// Kobo

 

Hope Kildaire gave up her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner when a car accident killed her father and left her mother an invalid. Working two jobs and caring for her mother leaves the twenty-seven-year-old with no time for fun or relationships. When a law firm representing her paternal grandparents sends her several letters, Hope ignores them. She despises the family who disowned her father and wants nothing to do with them.

Lawyer Tyler Coleman’s job is simply to obtain Hope’s signature on a legal document. Getting it is harder than planned, though, when an unexpected attraction blossoms between them. If Ty is honest with Hope about why he’s in Willow Springs, he’ll fulfill his assignment but may risk hurting her.

The opportunity to have everything she’s ever desired is at Hope’s fingertips. Will her dream come true at the expense of Tyler’s love?

Looking for me? I’m usually here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

Here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

and the link to my recent interview on NewHampshirePublicRadio

Leave a comment

Filed under Deerbourne Inn, Uncategorized

#SundaySnippet 3.1.19

I loved writing this wrap-up book for the Will Cook For Love Series sososososoos much! It’s the first book of mine that has a physically scarred heroine and an angsty teenager as a major secondary character. Nikko Stamp is either a love him or not hero for people. I, of course, love him, because even though he’s a bear of man to work for, there’s a real reason he’s the way he is ( you need to read the book to see why! heehee). Plus, he absolutely adores his daughter and would do anything for her. I love a hot dad!!!

This little scene introduces Stacy to Nikko. As you’ll read, Nikko’s new Executive Producer isn’t anything like he thought she’d be.

This couldn’t be the new executive producer.

She looked like an intern, barely out of college, not the seasoned television producer Teddy Davis had emailed him about.

The one he’d emailed back saying he neither wanted nor needed.

Hair the color of champagne fell just below her shoulders in a soft cascade of waves and ripples. Even in the heat and humidity engulfing them, it looked fresh. Her face was a perfect heart, a tiny dip in the center of the hairline bifurcating her brow into two perfectly aligned sections, her flawless chin falling into a delicate point. She had one hand out to shake his, the other shading her eyes from the strong and harsh afternoon sun, but underneath her fingers he was able to make out a pair of sloe-shaped eyes in a deep, forest green.

Taller than average but small boned, her legs took up most of her lissome body. With her lips held together in a tight line, she reached him.

“I’m Stacy Peters, Mr. Stamp.”

He stopped and planted his feet, his gaze shifting to her outstretched hand and then back up to her face without taking it. Her eyes narrowed into a determined glare and it looked as if she wasn’t going to back down until he shook it. With reluctance, he did.

Like the rest of her, her fingers were narrow and thin as they coiled around his.

A blast of heat instantly warmed and calmed his entire body like a few shots of his favorite Irish whiskey did after a rough and painful day. The subtle aroma of vanilla floated to him, filling his senses with the sweet fragrance. The persistent, throbbing ache in his left leg the liquor helped chase away was momentarily forgotten with his hand rooted in hers.

As soon as she pressed her fingers firmly against his palm once, she pulled her hand back.

For a split second, Nikko missed the touch. In the next, he found his anger again. “Look, Miss Peters—”

“Stacy is fine.”

He ignored her. “I told Davis I didn’t need an executive producer. I don’t need anyone telling me how to run this show, what’s going to make it a hit, how to rip the best from the concept. The show will be fine without someone questioning every decision I make and counting every dollar I spend.”

Stacy nodded and folded her hands together in front of her, her gaze staying locked on his as he spoke.

“Those last two he sent me were worthless and more trouble than I could stand.”

“Yes. I know there were…problems with the previous EPs—”

“Problems?” His scornful bark of a laugh was loud and harsh as he cut her off. “Two of the most annoying, incompetent people I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. One was worse than the other. They had no knowledge of how to run a television production. Knew nothing about costs, location shots, or even how to set up food service for the crew. Between the two of them together, I don’t think they had a full brain.”

Surprised was too tame a word to describe his reaction when she laughed out loud. The sound hit him square in the chest like a bullet ripping through his rib cage.

Christ, was she laughing at him?

His eyes narrowed and he took a step closer, forcing her head to lift so she could meet his gaze. If he’d thought to intimidate her with his height, he knew he’d failed when she stood her ground, her gaze never wavering from his, her shoulders staying square.

A tiny bit of respect warred with the irritation churning inside him.

“They never even made it out here, one of them quitting an hour after she arrived at the studio. I don’t need incompetents like that around me or this production.”

“I agree.”

Her words didn’t stop him. “Davis promised me creative control when I signed on to this show. That included managing the budget and costs as I saw fit. He gave me his word no one would bother me about piddling things like the price of airfare, how many damn cups we use for coffee or how much it would cost to film at night.”

He took another half step closer, so close now his body almost came in contact with hers.

“What he didn’t promise me was annoying paper pushers who don’t know a thing about running a television show, so you can get right back in that car and have Dixon take you back to the airport, because you’re not needed or wanted here.”

From the side of his vision Nikko saw a small crowd had formed around them. Set technicians, a few of the ranch hands Dixon employed, even the food-service people. He knew he should get a leash on his temper, but the annoyance of being saddled with yet another producer—and one who didn’t even look old enough to vote—had him unable to curtail his fury. Added in was the throbbing mess his leg had turned into from sitting in Dixon’s truck for so many hours.

She’d been nodding at everything he’d said and hadn’t interrupted him once. When he finally stopped, she came to life.

“I can assure you, Mr. Stamp,” she said, her gaze slicing through him with its intensity, “I have no intention of taking any control away from you. This show is yours. Your name is on it, not mine. It’s your baby. And unlike my two predecessors, I do know what I’m doing.” She took a breath, snaked a side-glance at the gathering group of people, and added, “This isn’t my first rodeo.”

The crew laughed.

Before Nikko could form a response, she shot her gaze to the senior rancher. She moved toward him, saying, “Mr. Dixon? I’m Stacy Peters, from EBS. Thank you so much for allowing us to film our competition here, for putting us all up, and putting up with us all.”

Nikko watched a free and easy smile grow on her face, one with twin dimples winking at the corners of her mouth, as she slipped her hand into the rancher’s.

“Well, aren’t you just the prettiest thing I’ve seen around here all day,” Amos Dixon said, shaking her hand and wrapping the other one around it to cocoon it between his. “And it’s my pleasure, young lady. My pleasure.”

Stacy giggled at the rancher, her nose crinkling. Nikko’s stomach muscles contracted at the adorable expression on her face.

“I was familiarizing myself with your ranch on the flight and I have to tell you how impressed I am with your business, and how I’m a little in awe of the scope of everything I’ve seen so far. I can’t imagine living here, seeing all this beauty everyday. It’s breathtaking.”

Dixon’s barrel chest puffed out at the praise.

“I’d be delighted to take you on a tour around the ranch anytime, darlin’—you just say the word.”

“I’d love that.”

“Well, you must be tired from the long trip,” Dixon said, keeping her hand tucked in his. “And I imagine you’re getting hungry too. Little thing like you needs a good, hot meal in her and I’ve got the best cook in the state.”

She laughed and said, “I can always eat, Mr. Dixon—”

“Call me Amos, darlin’. Everyone does.”

She nodded. “And a hot meal sounds great right now, but I’ve got some things I need to see to first before I take you up on your offer.”

Turning her attention back to Nikko, she was all professional polish once again, the smile gone, a blank, unreadable look on her face when she said, “Why don’t I drop off all my stuff, and then I can meet with you privately, Mr. Stamp? I know filming starts the day after tomorrow and there’s probably a million things that need to get done before that. I’ve been brought up to speed on everything, but I’d like to hear from you what you need, when you need it, how I can help you get it, and how I can make

everything easier for you. Would fifteen minutes be good?”

Dumbfounded, Nikko just nodded.

“Great.” She turned to Dixon’s son. “Beau, can you show me to my

room?”

Nikko watched father and son jockey for her attention as Dixon senior said, “Boy, you get the little lady’s bags. I’ll show her up. Shall we?” He held a cocked elbow for her to take, while his son pulled luggage from the trunk of the car.

As the trio walked up the drive and then the porch steps, Nikko’s gaze lasered on the slim back and long legs of his new executive producer as she smiled and listened to the senior rancher wax on and on about his “family’s spread.”

What the fuck had just happened?

Nikko turned to see a battery of eyes staring at him.

“Don’t you have things to do?” he bellowed. “This isn’t vacation camp.” Like lemmings, they all turned as a unit and scurried away.
Nikko rubbed his throbbing thigh, the unceasing pain careening through him. He needed to sit down, put his leg up, and relax for a while.

Maybe more than a while.

Intrigued? If you want to read more, you can get your copy here:

Amazon //B&N // Apple // Kobo // Google Play //Walmart // Books-a-million

And if you’re looking for me, I’m usually here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

Here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

and the link to my recent interview on NewHampshirePublicRadio

1 Comment

Filed under Alpha Male, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, female friends, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women

#SundaySnippet 2.24.19 A Shot at Love

When I set out to write A SHOT AT LOVE I wanted to write my first bad-ass heroine. Gemma Laine jumped to the head of the line in my head and exploded on the page. She’s the type of gal I’d want in my corner if I was ever kidnapped by terrorists, if I was walking down a  dark and deserted street at night, and if I ever needed someone to -literally – cover my 6 ( Gibbs reference there, peeps!) This scene proves what a warrior she is.

“How many do I have to hit for you to be satisfied?”

Ky looked over to where she stood at the side of the garage, the Glock in her hand, its barrel aimed at the ground. Her eyes had gone wide at the hidden supply of weapons Bannerman had in the pantry access room, but her only comment had been a muttered, “Why am I not surprised?” before she’d made her choice.

He’d watched her load the clip, then weigh and balance the gun in her hand like she did it every day of her life.

“This’ll do,” she told him.

He found a box of empty beer and wine bottles in the garage and set them up at varying distances from where he’d told her to stand. He wanted to ensure she was comfortable shooting up close and far.

“All of them.” He came and stood next to her.

“Are you kidding? All of them?”

“You might never get a second chance if a first bullet misses an attacker, so yes. All of them.”

She moved to the line in the grass he’d drawn for her to shoot from, mumbling something he couldn’t hear, but guessing it wasn’t something complimentary.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Yup. Any particular order you want me to hit them in?”

He had to bite back the grin threatening to fly free at her snooty, disgruntled tone.
“Your call.”

Gemma nodded and planted her feet. He wasn’t surprised when she angled her body with one foot slightly behind the other in a Weaver stance—a more aggressive, weight-forward position—and not the triangular, or Isosceles stance. Gemma held her gun up to her face, lining up her shot, both elbows bent and close to her torso. Her brother-in-law, Josh, had been a New York City cop, and if he’d taught her to shoot, it made sense he’d taught her this way. Although the Isosceles stance was the more popular, Ky knew the Weaver was a power stance, and Gemma was a woman for whom power could have been a middle name.

She flexed her shoulders and neck, the motion so subtly erotic, it made his pulse quicken, and shifted her weight. From his viewing position behind her, he appreciated just how tall and lean she was. Narrow shoulders were relaxed and tapered down into a waist no bigger than a hand span. How many times in the past few days had he thought what it would be like to slip his own hands around that tiny area and pull her in close? Too many for prudence, that was for sure.

The first bottle, the one he’d placed the farthest from them, shattered into a thousand fragments. Before he could take a full breath, she’d hit the next two.

The final three closer ones she dispatched with equal ease.

When she turned to him and asked, “Satisfied?” in a tone filled with condescension, Ky had to physically restrain himself from running to her, lifting her up in his arms, and kissing the gorgeous smirk off her mouth.

Because he’d discovered how much he liked sparring with her—go figure that out—he pursed his lips and nodded. “Not bad.”

Gemma’s smirk grew into a self-satisfied grin.

“But they were all stationary targets. Really adept shooters practice with moving targets, so I really can’t gauge how well you’ll do with that. But for now, you’ll do.”

The squinty-eyed glare she aimed at him would have made a lesser man run for the hills.

“Trust me.” She dropped the empty cartridge case from the weapon into her free hand. “I can shoot those as well.”

He handed her another clip and watched as she loaded it.

“Let’s hope you never have to prove it to me.”

Gemma slapped the cartridge in place. Ky handed her a holster and waited until she fastened it around her waist.

After tightening it, she secured the gun in place, dropped her hands on her hips and asked, “Can we go now?”

She looked like a warrior armed for battle. Strong, self-possessed, and so bad-assed sexy standing in front of him, her bangs blowing back from the slight breeze surrounding them, her perfect chin tilted up defiantly.

He could imagine her leading an army into a crusade against evil, each soldier following her blindly, minions pledged to fight for her, perhaps die for her without hesitation.

And he’d be one of them.
“Sure. Get your camera. I’ll secure the house.”

Intrigued for more? You can purchase a copy in print or ebook here:

Amazon // Apple // Google // Kobo // Nook 

Goodreads Reviews for A SHOT AT LOVE

Want to read a preview? Click here.

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

Here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

and the link to my recent interview on NewHampshirePublicRadio

2 Comments

Filed under Alpha Hero, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, romantic suspense, Strong Women, The Laine Women

#SundaySnippet 2.17.19

Cooking with Kandy was my first book for Kensington/Lyrical Shine. Introducing the world to the life and family of cheflebrity Kandy Laine was fun. The fact this book spawned a few more in the series was an added bonus! Kandy is reluctant to have a bodyguard, and doesn’t feel any of the weird things occurring lately warrant one. Her family disagrees. 

The heat between Kandy and Josh is palpable from the first time they meet. In this little snippet, Kandy is finally beginning to see what an asset Josh could be to have around – and in more ways than one.

He made his way to the other side of the room, ignoring the stares and whispers of the crowd, found the lounge, and knocked. “Kandy? It’s Josh. Can I come in?”

It was Gemma who answered. “Yes.”
The sisters were seated in twin floral Queen Anne chairs, Gemma reclining back into hers, arms crossed over her chest. Kandy was opposite, head wrung in her hands.

“Cort thought you could use this,” he said, handing her the champagne flute.

He’d expected tears, but was surprised to see Kandy’s beautiful face pinch in a scowl, her eyes flaring with sweltering anger and venom when she looked up at him.

“Thanks.” Kandy took the drink and downed half of it in one gulp.

When she wiped her lips with the back of her hand, the corners of Gemma’s mouth lifted and she asked Josh, “What did you do to the turd?”

“Explained he needed to leave, put him in the elevator, and made sure he went down in it.”

“Made him how?” Kandy asked.

“Little persuasion trick I know. His wrist’s gonna be sore tomorrow. Maybe for the next few days.”

“You physically removed him?” Gemma asked.
Josh almost laughed at the excitement in her voice.

He shrugged.

“Yeah. He was going to follow Kandy if I didn’t.”

“Please tell me you have unmarried, available brothers at home,” Gemma said.

It hurt to keep the smile from his face, but he did. “Three, in fact.”

“Are they all like you? No, scratch that.” She sighed, the sound wistful.

“I doubt there’s anyone like you.”

“If you mean are they all workaholics and career-driven, then no. They’re not like me. But they are available.”

“I’ll keep it in mind.” She glanced at her sister and said, “Well, looks like my work here is done. She’s all yours now.” She stood and kissed the top of Kandy’s head. “Evan Chandler is an egotistical, phony prick. Remember that.”

“How could I forget it?” Kandy grabbed her sister’s hand and kissed the back of it. “Thanks.”

When Gemma left, Josh took her empty chair. “You okay?”

She took a deep breath before saying, “Mad, but okay. I underestimated him.”

“How so?”

“I didn’t think he’d have the guts to crash my party. I thought he was too much of a wimp to risk it after our last encounter. Guess I was wrong.” She stood and crossed to the vanity. Peering at her reflection, she ran a lazy hand through her hair, fluffing the curls. She caught his gaze, watching her, in the mirror. “Aren’t you going to ask me about it?”

He’d considered it. But the weary look in her eyes told him he was better off asking Stacy or Gemma.

“No. If you want to talk, I’ll listen. Otherwise, you’ve got a pretty fancy shindig going on out there.” He cocked his thumb in the direction of the ballroom. “Maybe you want to get back and enjoy it. Bask in the adulation,” he said with a good-natured grin.

She turned to him and her eyes softened. When her lips moved upward into a small, lazy smile, the dimples dancing, his legs went a little soft and he was thankful he was seated.

“Yeah,” she said, moving to him. When he stood, she linked her arm in his. “Thanks. You’re right. Let’s go have a party.”

He returned her smile, glad he could help.
“You’re not so bad, Keane. This bodyguard thing might be fun after all.” It was a moment before he trusted himself to speak. “I aim to please.”

Intrigued? You can find COOKING WITH KANDY at these on-line retailers:

Buy links: Amazon //Apple // Google // Kobo // Nook//

Walmart // Books-a-Million

Reviews for COOKING WITH KANDY

Read a preview of Cooking With Kandy

Sugar and spice and everything sexy make the perfect recipe for romance in this brand-new series by Peggy Jaeger. Look for exclusive recipes in each book

Kandy Laine built her wildly popular food empire the old-fashioned way-starting with the basic ingredients of her grandmother’s recipes and flavoring it all with her particular brand of sweet spice. From her cookbooks to her hit TV show, Kandy is a kitchen queen-and suddenly someone is determined to poison her cup. With odd accidents and threatening messages piling up, strong-willed Kandy can’t protest when her team hires someone to keep her safe-but she can’t deny that the man for the job looks delicious…

Josh Keane is a private investigator, not a bodyguard. But with one eyeful of Kandy’s ebony curls and dimpled smile, he’s signing on to uncover who’s cooking up trouble for the gorgeous chef. As the attraction between them starts to simmer, it’s not easy to keep his mind on the job, but when the strange distractions turn to true danger, he’ll stop at nothing to keep Kandy safe-and show her that a future together is on the menu…

Leave a comment

Filed under Alpha Hero, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women

#SundaySnippet 2.10.19 PASSION’S PALETTE

Book 5 in the MacQuire Women series is PASSION’s PALETTE, the story of Serena MacQuire and Seamus Cleary. These are two fiery personalities and it’s not unusual they fall hard and fast for one another.  In this snippet, their mutual attraction isn’t exactly what Serena is looking for.

Seamus’s pulse galloped the moment her arms went around him. Her smooth skin against his was too much. Before he could stop himself, his hand came up to her shoulder, and encircling her neck with his palm, he pulled her closer. Their lips were a whisper away from one another. When her tongue nervously flicked across her bottom lip, an explosion ripped through his core.

Was she really as sweet tasting as he remembered? He needed to know, needed the silky smoothness of her lips pressed to his again to be sure.

With a swift, firm tug on her neck, he pulled her closer and claimed her mouth.

And she was as wonderful as he remembered. She hadn’t stiffened or pulled away as he’d thought she would. Instead, she leaned into him, a willing participant showing him her own desire.

He needed no further encouragement. A gentle yank at the waistband of her pants, and she was down on his lap. Her hands settled on his shoulders, touching so softly he barely felt them.

Taking her lower lip between his teeth in the lightest of nips, he then ran his tongue gently along the seam of her mouth. When she opened, allowing him entry, he explored and tasted every nook and cranny of her mouth. The notion he could sit here consuming her all day and that it would never be enough to satisfy his growling hunger for her swam through him.

Serena broke from the kiss and tried to pull back, but the firm grip of his hands on her waist pinioned her in place.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, averting her eyes.

“I’m not.”

“It must be the champagne. I’m not usually so…forward.” She shook her head as if clearing it.

Seamus studied her in silence, knowing the way she’d reacted to the kiss had nothing to do with the wine.

“Well, I’m glad this happened. I’ve been trying for hours to figure a way to kiss you again without making you mad at me. I wish you’d have asked me about this modeling business when you first arrived. If I’d known it was going to bring out this kind of response, I’d have volunteered myself before being asked.”

Her head shot up at his words. Why was the irritation drenching her eyes as intoxicating as her taste had been?
“It’s no secret I’m attracted to you, Serena,” he said before she could rail at him. “I have been since that first morning in the barn. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you feel the same.”

“You certainly make your presence known,” she told him after a few beats. “I don’t usually kiss a man within the first five minutes of meeting him.”

“Good. I’ll take that as a yes.” He dropped a light kiss in the hollow behind her ear. “Where do we go from here with this?”

“Oh, Seamus. Don’t do that. Please.”

“Here’s a start.” He pulled back and regarded her. “Why don’t you call me Jim like everyone else does?”

Serena’s gaze flitted across his lips and landed at the scar. “No, I don’t think I can do that. Your name is too unusual. Too…I don’t know,” she said with a delicate shrug. “Too you. I like your name. It fits you. Like this house does.”

Charmed, he said, “Okay. Forget the name. How about having dinner with me tomorrow? I promise this time I’ll go grocery shopping.”

“You just want me to cook for you again.” She broke into a wide grin.

“Well, you could. Or we could go out on a real date.”

After a second, the humor dancing in her eyes faded. She bit down on the corner of her bottom lip. “Seamus, maybe this isn’t a good idea. I mean, I’ve been so busy lately with everything in my life, I don’t know if I really want to add a…relationship…to it now. I don’t think I could do it justice.”

His hand came up and tenderly smoothed the burgeoning furrow between her eyes. “I’m not asking you to free the known world, Serena. Just out to dinner. The answer is simple. Yes or no. No heavy thought involved.”

“A real restaurant?” she asked after a few moments.

“You get to pick it.”

“Whatever kind of food I want?”

He squinted down at her. “Why does that question terrify me?”

“The answer is simple,” she mocked. “Yes or no?”

“Smart aleck. Okay, you pick.”

“Good.”

Intrigued? Here’s where you can order the book to read more:

Amazon // B&N // KOBO // i-tunes // Google Play // Books-a-million // Walmart

and you can find all the MacQuire women books, 1-5 at the same on-line retail sites.

                     

Peggy Jaeger ~ Strong Women. Loving Men

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary Romance, Food lover, Foodie, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press