First Chapter Friday!

Since we’re celebrating the 2nd anniversary of The Anti-Cinderella this week, it seemed like the perfect book to launch our new feature, First Chapter Friday!

Every month, I’ll share the first chapter of one of my books to give you a taste of what you might have missed.

Enjoy!

Want to read the rest? Get it here!


“WOOOOHOOO! HOT MAMA WALKING ALERT.”

Shelby, my roommate and best friend in the world, waved her hand in front of her face in an exaggerated fanning motion as she lounged in the doorway of my bedroom. “Damn, girl! Sometimes I forget how good you clean up.”
“Funny. Very funny.” Rolling my eyes, I balanced myself on one foot. “I need your input. Which shoes work best? Option one . . .” I switched feet, lifting the first one up behind me. “Or option two?”
“Hmmm. It depends. Are you going to a club? Or is this date a quiet affair at an elegant restaurant?” Shelby wiggled her fingers, grinning at me wickedly. “C’mon. Tell me all the details.”
I blew out a breath. “Neither one. And get real. Where would I find either a club or an elegant restaurant within thirty miles of us? Tonight is a command performance at my grandparents’ house.”
“You’re going to visit Honey and Handsome without me?” Shelby frowned, pushing out her bottom lip. “I thought you loved me.”
“I do, which is why I’m not taking you with. This isn’t the fun kind of H squared visit. It’s a formal dinner. It’s going to be long and boring.” I shook my foot. “Shoe answer, please.”
“Uh, the first one. It’s cute, but it’s not trampy.”
“Excellent. That’s exactly what I was going for.” I kicked off the shoe that hadn’t made the cut and found the match to the one I was wearing. “Tell me again why I put myself through this shit.”
“Because your grandparents are funding your graduate school career and keeping you fed, with a roof over your head?” Shelby tilted her head. “Those seem like wonderful reasons.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” I turned a little, checking myself out in the full-length mirror. My black dress was silk, sedate and stylish, the most important three S words for this kind of occasion. “Plus, there’s the whole thing where I love them.”
“What’s not to love? Honey and Handsome are the coolest people I know. No one who’d just met them would ever guess that they’re both in their seventies.”
“Or that they’ve been married for over fifty years.” I frowned, concentrating on fastening my earring.

“Yes! They’re so dang cute together. Remember when they came here to help us move in, and we caught them making out in the kitchen?”
I held up one hand. “I don’t want to remember that, thanks. Eww. You might find it adorable, but it’s not something you want to see if they’re your grandparents.”

“Yes! They’re so dang cute together. Remember when they came here to help us move in, and we caught them making out in the kitchen?”
I held up one hand. “I don’t want to remember that, thanks. Eww. You might find it adorable, but it’s not something you want to see if they’re your grandparents.”
“I guess I can see that.” Shelby was silent as she watched me dig through my backpack, pulling out essentials like my driver’s license, cash, tissues and mints and depositing them into a small evening bag. “What’s the occasion tonight? Why did they ask you to come to one of their fancy dinners?”
“I’m not entirely sure,” I scowled. “Honey was being a little cagey when she called to tell me. She said they wanted me to be there because of my unique point of view on the subject at hand, or something like that. It probably has to do with ecological sustainability. They like to have me there as back-up so it seems like they have the latest research on conservation.”
“Are you saving the moose this time?”
I snorted. “Totally possible.”

“Well, whatever the cause, I know you’ll end up having a blast. Your grandparents never throw dull parties.”
“Yeah. You’re not wrong. I’m not afraid of being bored. I just don’t want to smile and act happy around a bunch of rich people. Even if they might someday consider donating millions to one of my projects.” I patted my bag, took one more look in the mirror and straightened my shoulders. “All right. I’m set, I guess. Do I look okay? Will I do?”
Shelby scrutinized me with narrowed eyes. “You will. You’re gorge, babe. You’ll knock them all dead. And who knows?” She gave me wide, dramatic eyes. “Maybe one of them will bring his hot and sexy grandson, who just happens to be rich as hell, and your eyes will meet across the crowded room—”
“Ugh!” I stuck out my tongue at her. “Just stop. You’ll get my hopes up, and when no one under the age of seventy is there, I’ll have to drown my disappointment in some of Handsome’s best whiskey. That never ends well.”
“Hey, it could happen. And if it doesn’t, at least your grandfather’s whiskey is primo.” She leaned in to kiss my cheek. “Have fun. Drive safe. Make good choices. Give the two H’s my love.”
“Will do. See you tonight.”

I stopped at the tiny front closet by the door to grab my long rain coat. Yes, it was late April, but this was Maine, and although today’s high temperature had broken the sixty-degree mark, as soon as the sun set, the chilly air would get downright frigid. I’d lived here long enough that I didn’t mind the cold so much, but my dress tonight was sleeveless, and there was no way I was going to shiver when I could avoid it. The rain coat wasn’t exactly haute couture, but it would do the job.
Opening the door to the hybrid compact Shelby and I shared, I tossed the evening bag onto the passenger seat and eased behind the wheel. I was unreasonably grumpy about this dinner. My grandparents were wonderful, amazing people, and I adored them beyond reason. One of the reasons I’d chosen Grant’s graduate program was because the school was close enough to Honey and Handsome’s summer home that I could visit when they happened to be living there. But I wasn’t in any mood to play nice just now, when I’d spent all day mucking around in a muddy field, working on the research for my final project.
The sun was drooping low in the sky, but I still needed my sunglasses, thanks to the eye-level glare. I knew this route by heart, since I’d been driving it for two years now. Still, this time of evening was when the moose liked to come out and play, and God knew I didn’t need to hit one of those monsters tonight. So I kept my car to a reasonable speed, sliding my eyes right and left as I passed wooded areas and open fields.
Darkness settled slowly, and I finally shed my sunglasses a few minutes before I reached the turn that led me down my grandparents’ driveway. Their home was large, but it wasn’t ostentatious. No one would ever guess that these two had founded and still owned—and were actively involved in—one of the largest organic juice and sandwich businesses in the country. Honey Bee Juices had won accolades over the years for its business practices, growing methods and passionate commitment to conservation and activism. I was proud not only of my family’s success and efforts to do the right thing, but of the fact that they used their wealth in practical ways.
This estate, for instance, housed a group of horticulturists for a month in the summer, men and women of all ages who won scholarships to a camp where they were taught the latest methods for natural gardening. Not only that, but Honey and Handsome always opened their home to anyone visiting the nearby college—the one I was currently attending.
“Nothing we have is truly ours, Kyra,” Handsome liked to tell me. “Everything is held in trust. And if we don’t share, what’s the point in anything?”
My grandparents were, without doubt, the coolest, kindest and most compassionate people I’d ever known. Growing up, I’d spent a lot of time with them—not because my parents were absent or neglectful, but because we worked and played as a family so often. Both of my parents worked in the juicing business, and I was always there, too, listening, watching and learning.
It was natural that I became close to my grandparents, of course, who had wanted me to call them Grammy and Grampy. But even as a toddler, I’d had my own mind. I’d noticed from a young age that my grandmother always referred to her husband as Handsome, while he called her Honey almost without fail. If it was good enough for the two of them, it worked for me, too, which was why all of their grandchildren—and their grandchildren’s friends—henceforth used the same names for our grandparents.

“I smiled as I stopped the car and climbed out, my heels crunching on the gravel of the drive. Handsome and Honey gave selflessly to all of us, whether it was time, attention or education. They didn’t lavish us with gifts, exotic trips or designer clothes, but my grandparents were the reason I was now in my last year of graduate school at Grant. They’d covered the tuition and bought the adorable little cottage that Shelby and I shared. I worked hard to keep up my grades, and Shelby and I were responsible for all the maintenance on our home, in addition to the improvements Handsome requested, but that was a small price to pay for the freedom to study and live without worry.
That was why I never really balked when H squared, as Shelby teasingly called them, asked me to make an appearance at one of their gather

“ings or fundraisers. They didn’t force the issue, ever, nor did they invite me to any social affair that would make me uncomfortable. Truth be told, I almost always ended up having a good time and meeting interesting people.
Which, come to think of it, made me wonder why my car was the only one in the circular drive as I climbed the steps of the porch. Usually, other guests’ vehicles would be here, too, by now; I was running late, as I usually was. Everything was quiet, and for a moment, I wondered if I’d somehow misunderstood my grandmother and gotten the date wrong.
“Kyra, are you planning to come inside, or should we deliver your dinner on a tray to the porch?” Honey’s voice behind me held more than a hint of laughter. “You look like you’re lost.”
“I was beginning to think maybe I was.” I turned around to face the front door, where my grandmother stood. “Where is everyone? I know I’m not early. That just isn’t possible.”
“You’re just exactly right on time.” Honey drew me into a tight hug and kissed my cheek. It was impossible to believe, looking at her, that she was over seventy years old. Her skin was smooth, her eyes clear, and the hint of white in her hair was well-camouflaged by her natural blonde. The smile on her face held just a hint of mischief, which made me pull back a little, my eyes narrowing in suspicion.
“Honey, what are you up to?”
“Up to? Whatever are you talking about?” She affected innocence, but I knew better.
“Honey . . . you told me this was a formal dinner with some people you wanted me to meet. Tell me you’re not scheming about something else.”
“I never scheme, sweetie. And maybe you misheard me. I said it was a formal dinner, and you might meet someone interesting.” She gave a little nod, and I remembered that she was right. That was exactly how she’d phrased it.

“You’re not making me feel any better.” I followed her into the foyer. “How many people are you expecting? And where is everyone?”
“Already sitting down, waiting for you.” Honey inclined her head, indicating the direction of the dining room. “Your grandfather is entertaining.”
“Oh, brother.” I giggled, leaning conspiratorially against Honey. “That means long-ass stories, doesn’t it?”
She bent her head so her mouth was next to my ear. “‘When I was first coming up with the recipe for pineapple sunshine, the juice that put us on the map . . .’” Her impression of Handsome made me laugh even harder.
We walked across the foyer and down the wide hallway that led toward what my grandparents called the public side of the house—where the large, formal dining room, the conference rooms and the ballroom were all located—but to my surprise, Honey steered me to the left and opened a door.
When I hesitated, she only smiled. “Since it’s just the four of us, I thought it would be cozier to eat in the family dining room.” When I didn’t move, she patted my back. “Come on, now, no one’s going to bite you. Don’t you trust me?”
“All of sudden, not so much.” I frowned, but I allowed her to move me along.
This part of the house was comfortable and warm. The sitting room where I’d played dolls as a kid flowed into the kitchen and dining room. As we rounded the corner, I heard the sound of my grandfather’s laughter mingling with someone else’s voice.
I didn’t know who it was—not really—but for some reason, my heart began to pound, and I felt a little lightheaded. There was something familiar—something in me that recognized the tone and timber of the voice.

We rounded the wall that hid the table from my view, and I came to a sudden, abrupt halt. Sitting at the table next to my grandfather, leaning back in his chair as though his being here was the most natural thing in the world, was a man I thought I’d never see again—not in person, anyway.
He looked so different—and yet, of course, not that very different. He wasn’t the boy I’d known ten years before. He was a man now. Still, although I hadn’t been in the same room with him—or even in the same city, to the best of my knowledge, since I was fourteen, it wasn’t as though I hadn’t seen him. I hadn’t sought out glimpses of him, but they’d been impossible to avoid on magazine covers at the grocery store checkout counters or splashed over social media.
Yet, he was more a stranger than a friend now. Too many years divided us, and those years had taken us in opposite directions. Neither of us was who we’d been back then on the Florida beaches.
And then he saw me, and the way his eyes lit up was heart-rippingly familiar.

A smile spread over his face, and slowly he rose to his feet.
“Hi, Ky.”

Want to read the rest? Get it here!

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes That Will Make You Fall in Love!

The food of romance . . .

All of the dishes below either came from my books or are inspired by them. I hope you’ll make them and enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Cheese Dip

I think Sarah would make this when she and Gideon invite the football team to their farm for parties. And remember garlic is perfectly acceptable if both kissers have eaten it! <3

2 heads garlic
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups shredded asiago cheese
1 cup sour cream
1?4 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup Italian shredded cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Peel most of the outer layers of the garlic off, then slice off the top of the garlic to expose the cloves inside. Drizzle 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the exposed surface of the garlic, letting the oil sink down into the cloves. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Once the garlic has cooled, turn heads upside down and gently squeeze the garlic out of the skins.
3. Reduce oven temp to 350.
4. With a food processor or electric mixer, blend cream cheese, shredded cheeses, sour cream and parsley until well-blended. Add garlic and blend again.
5. Place mixture into a baking or casserole dish and sprinkle shredded mozzarella over the top.
6. Bake about 20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top.
7. Serve with firm crusty bread.

Italian Love Knots

Vincent made these for Amanda on a very special occasion. I recommend serving these to someone you love!

5 cups of unbleached flour
5 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1.5 cups of cooled melted butter
1 cup of milk
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon for cookie
1 ounce of lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, and then the extract and zest.

In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder, then slowly add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.

When everything is incorporated, let the dough rest for 5 minutes, or wrap and chill overnight.
Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

To form the knots, use a cookie scoop to keep the size uniform. Scoop the dough and roll it into a log about 5 or 6 inches. Take one side of the log and form a circle, then tuck the other end down.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Chicken Soup

Vincent made this for Amanda when she was sick. I make it for my family, too. It cures everything!

1 large chicken
1 onion, roughly cut
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 carrots, finely cut
2 stalks celery, chopped
Escarole (optional)
Bebes (or other small pasta like Acini di pepe)

In a large stock pot, place chicken and cover with water. Add vegetables and garlic, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for four to six hours. Add water as it evaporates.

Remove the chicken and vegetables, straining stock. When chicken is cooled, remove from bones and return to pot. Add finely chopped carrots and celery. Bring to boil and add escarole (if desired).

You can add the bebes to the boiling soup if you like, or you can boil the bebes separately and add to each individual bowl, which will keep the liquid from being absorbed.

Reheat as often as you need. Excellent cure for colds, flu and all manner of crud.

Chicken Fried Steak

(From Ree Drummond)

As served at Kenny’s Diner in Burton to Tori and Hunter!

1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds cube steak (tenderized round steak that’s been extra tenderized)
Kosher salt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
Gravy:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 to 4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Mashed potatoes, for serving
  1. For the steak: Begin with setting up an assembly line of dishes. Mix the milk with the eggs in one; the flour mixed with the seasoned salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, paprika and cayenne in another; and the meat in a third. Then have one clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.
  2. Work with one piece of meat at a time. Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and black pepper, then place it in the flour mixture. Turn to coat. Place the meat into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Finally, place it back in the flour and turn to coat (dry mixture/wet mixture/dry mixture). Place the breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with the remaining meat.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. When the butter sizzles immediately, you know it’s ready. (It should not brown right away, if it does, the fire is too hot.) Cook the meat, 3 pieces at a time, until the edges start to look golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Remove the meat to a paper towel-lined plate and keep them warm by covering lightly with another plate or a sheet of foil. Repeat until all the meat is cooked.
  4. After all the meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the skillet, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the grease back to the skillet and allow it to heat up.
  5. For the gravy: When the grease is hot, sprinkle the flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Add more flour if it looks overly greasy; add a little more grease if it becomes too pasty/clumpy. Keep cooking until the roux reaches a deep golden brown color.
  6. Pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the seasoned salt and black pepper to taste and cook, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.
  7. Serve the meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over the whole shebang!

The second Diagnosis: Love Cover Reveal

 

Preorder here!

Coming July 28th . . .

He’s science and tradition. I’m nature and new age. We clash at every turn.

Emma

My first months on the oncology wing at St. Agnes Hospital were tumultuous. Between constant fighting with Dr. Deacon Girard–which led to some ill-advised passion in a break room–and losing a patient I’d come to care about too much, I’m beginning to wonder if moving down here was the worse mistake of my life.

But on the other hand, the friendships I’ve made in Harper Springs make the pain worth it. When one of those friendships begins to be more . . . well, maybe it’s time to move on and forget all about Deacon.

If only I can . . .

Deacon

I haven’t run away from a damn thing since I was a kid, but I’ll admit that’s exactly what I did after things got too intense between Emma and me. I took off for Eastern Europe, telling myself that I was there for kids who needed my brand of medical expertise. But the truth was that I needed to get away from Emma . . . because what I feel for her scares the hell out of me.

I’ve been down this path before, and I know the kind of pain love brings with it. I don’t need to do this again. So even when I go back to St. Agnes Hospital, I pretend nothing happened between us. I ignore my own heart.

For as long as I can . . .

Preorder here!

Are you ready for a little more Deacon and Emma?

I’m so excited! This is the second sneak peek excerpt of Informed Consent Book 1 of Diagnosis: Love. If you’ve been reading the serial Pretend You’re Mine, you already got a little taste of St. Agnes Hospital and Dr. Girard . . . and if you read the first excerpt, you know there are fireworks between Emma and Deacon. But now let’s check out Deacon’s point of view . . .

Preorder here! Coming July 21st


 

Deacon

The sun was setting as my truck bumped over the dirt road that my navigation app claimed was taking me to Emma’s house. I had my doubts. As far as I was aware, this area was completely undeveloped. I was all too familiar with the fields out this way. Unless she’d built a cabin in the woods that no one knew about, I would’ve heard some kind of buzz about it.

But I didn’t see anything . . . except, off to the east, an old trailer was set up among the weeds and grass. That couldn’t be it. Or could it? Squinting, I spied a blue sedan parked alongside the mobile home. There was definitely someone living there. It might be our naturopath . . . or it might be an anarchist with an arsenal who didn’t want to be disturbed. I figured I was going to have to take my chances.

I drove closer and squinted through my windshield, checking out the situation. There were curtains on the windows, and a small deck outside the trailer’s door boasted a bunch of potted plants. Yeah, this was a chick’s place, for sure. Anarchist, as a rule, didn’t care much about the niceties of life.

Still, I moved cautiously as I parked the truck and climbed out. And I stood near the front bumper as I called out before approaching.

“Emma! Uh, Dr. Carson!”

There was movement within the trailer, and within a few seconds, the door opened. Emma stuck her head out, and even from that distance, I could see her scowl.

“What are you doing here?”

I stalked over toward her, plowing through the weeds. “Is this where you live?”

She stepped outside onto the deck, closing the door behind her and crossing her arms over her chest. For just a moment, I let my gaze wander down her body. She’d changed from her work clothes into denim shorts that had definitely seen better days. But I wasn’t complaining since they showed off miles of long, tanned legs above an old pair of Keds. And the blue T-shirt she wore on top hugged her breasts like a lover.

“Hey. Eyes up here.” She pointed to her face. “What’re you looking at?”

“Sorry.” I dragged my focus up where it belonged. “Uh, I’ve just never seen you undressed. Not dressed, I mean. For work. You’re usually . . .” I made a gesture toward her legs. “You know. Fancy. Professional.”

“Good to know, because fancy professional is what I’ve been aiming for.” Her tone was arch.

“Do you really live here?” I repeated the question that she hadn’t answered.

She rolled her eyes. “No, this is my summer place. I come out here to get away from the hustle and bustle of my townhouse.” Sarcasm oozed from her words. “Yes, I really live here. I own this land. I’m in the middle of planning the house I’m going to build, which I hope to have started shortly.”

“Why here?” I knew it sounded wrong even as I said it. But I just didn’t get it. Why the hell would someone with her resources choose to live in a shack in the middle of nowhere? Housing wasn’t exactly plentiful in Harper Springs itself, but there were some decent neighborhoods in the nearby towns.

Emma’s tongue darted out to swipe across her lips, and I realized that I was making her uncomfortable. “I have plans.” She spoke softly but clearly. “I want to grow my own food, raise herbs and the plants I need for the oils and supplements I want to offer my patients . . . I want to put all of the research and learning I’ve done over the past years into practice here. I want this place to be a haven—not only for me, but for others.”

I could hear the banked passion and earnest longing coming through what she was saying. It was the first time I’d seen such vulnerability in her, and I was taken aback.

“The land’s good.” I cleared my throat and turned to stare off into the distance. “The soil . . . it won’t need much help.” I pointed toward the tree line. “I grew up on a farm just a mile or so over that way. My grandparents still live there. They grow tomatoes and corn and strawberries—it’s not a huge operation, but we did okay.” It had been enough to help me get through college and medical school, and for that, I’d always be grateful.

“I never would’ve pegged you as being a farm kid.” Emma sounded amused now. “Matter of fact, speaking of being out of uniform . . .” She paused and very intentionally trailed her eyes up and down me in an obvious imitation of how I’d checked her out. “Who knew that the impeccable Dr. Girard owned a pair of jeans?”

“Funny.” I took a step closer and braced one hand on a nearby patio chair. “Most folks around here are more surprised to see me in a suit, even now.” I angled my head down and peered through one of the trailer’s windows. “Do you have electric in that thing?”

Her eye twitched. “Not yet. Just gas and kerosene lights. I’m working on getting utilities out here, but I’m given to understand that it’s a process.” She gave the word air quotes and then shook her head. “Anyway, that doesn’t matter. What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to talk to you about Angela Spencer.” I dragged the chair back a little. “Can I sit down?”

Emma shrugged. “Sure. The bugs are going to get vicious pretty soon, but you’re probably okay for now.” She sank down to perch on the step, her eyes staying on me as though she expected me to make some kind of unexpected move. “What about Angela? If you hauled your cookies out here to yell at me again about the PICC line, you could’ve just waited until tomorrow.”

I eased gingerly into the porch chair, not quite certain it would support me. The wicker groaned a little, but I didn’t end up on my ass, so I decided I’d probably be okay.

“I didn’t come about the PICC line deal. Or—yeah, I guess I kind of did, but it was to tell you that I think you were right. I know I fought you about that whole thing, but I was wrong.”

Emma’s eyes widened dramatically. “Oh, my God, and here I am without a witness. The great and powerful Dr. Girard was wrong about something? Is this a first? Should I be filming it for posterity?”

I gritted my teeth. “I’m not the arrogant asshole you seem to think I am. Believe me, I’ve made more than my share of mistakes. I freely admit to that. And when I do, I own up to them.”

She stared at me, her expression inscrutable. “Okay. Good to know.” She shifted, leaning her hands back to rest behind her and stretching those endless legs forward. “Did you seriously drive out here to tell me that, or was there something else?”

There was something else. As a matter of fact, there were a couple of things I’d driven out to discuss with Dr. Carson tonight, but as twilight drifted over us and the crickets began to sing, I was tempted to just sit here with her and savor the peace for a little while. None of what I’d planned to bring up was going to make her happy. Maybe for once, it would be all right for us to enjoy a détente, no matter how tenuous and short-lived it might be.

As I brooded over this, Emma tilted her head, watching me, waiting for my response. A movement to her left caught my eye, and without stopping to think about it, I leaped to my feet and grabbed her arms, pulling her up and away from the trailer. Taken unawares, she teetered off-kilter, her hands gripping my shoulders to keep her from falling over.

I became painfully aware of several things at once. Emma’s long, lithe body was pressed up against me. Her full breasts rubbed my chest as she sucked in a quick breath. Her face was tilted up to stare into mine, and her lips were slightly parted in surprise.

And I wanted to kiss her more than I’d wanted anything in a very long time.

Preorder here! Coming July 21st

 

THE MUSTANG: A Sneak Peek

Duty. Honor. Country. 

Love. Romance. Passion.

Lark

Look, I don’t need a psychologist to tell me why I am the way I am. I grew up with a mom who was forever chasing her happily-ever-after, never considering the cost to herself–or to me. That’s why I’m not interested in fairy tales or in finding some elusive prince charming to solve all of my problems.

Until I meet him in the bar where I work. One night of fun somehow begins to mean more, and it scares the crap out of me.

Nolan

I joined the Army when I was just a kid, mostly because I didn’t know what else to do with my life. I never dreamed I’d love it enough to make it my career, but now here I am, an officer, stationed at West Point, leading a company of soldiers. What started as an escape has become my passion–and it’s one that doesn’t have space for anything–or anyone–else.

Until I meet her at my buddy’s bachelor party. I think I’m indulging in one meaningless night, but I can’t stop thinking about her. Remembering her. Wanting her.

PREORDER HERE!

WARNING: This scene is H O T and contains sexual language. Read at your own risk! 

******

It was still dark when soft lips brushed over mine. 

“Lark.” A man’s voice roused me gently from sleep, and part of me wanted to panic before I remembered . . . Nolan. 

“Lark, baby, I gotta go. I have PT in about an hour, and I have to get back to quarters and change.” I thought I felt his hand stroke my hair, but I couldn’t force my eyes open. 

“Thanks for last night. It was—you were—you are—amazing. I’ll . . . see you again.” 

Much later, I opened my eyes to sunshine pouring in through my curtains. Pushing myself up in bed, I gazed around the room, smiling a little when I saw that my clothes from last night were now neatly draped over a chair instead of strewn across the floor. Clearly, Nolan had done that while he was finding his own clothes. 

He’d woken me at some point in the night by using his tongue on my pussy yet again as if he couldn’t get enough. And after that, I’d straddled his drool-worthy body and ridden that massive cock to yet another mind-blowing climax. I was sore, but in the best way possible.

I fell back against the pillows and sighed. He wasn’t wrong in what he’d whispered to me before leaving early this morning—last night had been incredible. It was definitely the best sex I’d had in . . . maybe ever. Not that I’d ever tell him that—not that I’d ever give myself a chance to tell him that. Nolan was like me—one and done. We’d had a good time together, but sex like that could far too easily be taken for something else, and I was not the woman who would allow herself to make that kind of mistake. 

If we happened to see each other again in passing—and it wasn’t impossible; West Point and Highland Falls were both small communities, and it was more surprising that we hadn’t met until now—we’d both be mature about it, I was sure. Hell, it was possible that he might not even remember me. Maybe I was just another in a long line of women he’d fucked, and though I might look familiar, it was entirely conceivable that after today, he wouldn’t remember my name. 

I was pretty sure, though, that he’d been right about something he’d boasted last night. I wasn’t likely to forget his name—or the way he’d felt inside me—any time soon.

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