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Monthly Archives: November 2021

“Eyes wide with fear” #MFRWhooks

For the first time in a long time, Randa Arnold is happy beyond measure. She has the love of her husband, Linc and her paramour Matteo. After the fulfillment of a mutual sex fantasy and an unbelievable night of passion her world is turned upside down.

 

Lincoln never expected his wife to fall in love with another man, even though he knew that was a possibility. He loves his wife, but just can't wrap his mind around her emotionally attached to someone else, so he does the only thing he can, he forces Matteo to leave.

 

Forcing Matteo to leave has some unexpected consequences. Randa is despondent, yet keeps a brave face. This only intensifies Linc's sense of guilt. If that weren't enough, someone is threatening his wife. His only chance at redemption and to get to the bottom of the threat is to bring Matteo back. Only one problem, the man can't be found.

Excerpt

Lincoln drummed his fingers on the scarred wood table of the booth. Whatever Selena had to say, she would say it tonight. He lifted the tan ceramic mug of coffee to his lips and sipped the now lukewarm brew.

The bell above the diner door jangled, and Lincoln focused his attention on the newcomer. Average height, dark-brown skin almost the color of soot, and rust-colored hair. She could’ve been beautiful, but too much smoking and partying had hardened her features. The woman was thick and curvy, with full lips and brown eyes. In another time and place, desire would’ve flooded him. Now he felt nothing.

What he ever saw in Selena other than a piece of ass, he couldn’t say. He remembered what it was—he’d been lonely. Randa had been extremely hurt over learning he’d been unfaithful and her subsequent miscarriage. So that left Selena.

Selena was the live-in health aide who had assisted his wife after her surgery nearly six years ago. Since he couldn’t be the one to provide his wife comfort and companionship, he turned to Selena, who was more than happy to fill the void.

She offered him a tight smile as she approached. He didn’t return the gesture.

“What did you need to see me about?” he asked once she sat. The server approached, and he waved the waitress away.

“I don’t even get a hello?” Selena batted her lashes at him.

“Or a glass of water. Now what was so important you couldn’t tell me in a text?”

She huffed, slouched in her seat, and reached in her pants pocket and placed a crumpled piece of paper on the table. “I thought the news would be better in person.”

Lincoln scooted to the edge of the seat, ready to leave. He didn’t have time to play games with her, not after the wonderful afternoon he’d spent with his wife and the evening he still had planned.

“No. Wait. Please.” The desperation and plea held him more than her hand on his wrist. “I’m sorry. You still twist me all in knots, and I can’t have you.”

Lincoln sat. “No, you can’t.”

“Well, here’s a piece of news I know your wife will appreciate. I’m dying.” Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. “I swear, I’m telling the truth. I’ve the doctor’s report and everything.” She tapped the paper.

He stared at her, then the page beneath her finger. Surely he hadn’t heard her correctly, but there it was in black and white. Dying? Probably what bothered him most was that he felt nothing. This could be another one of her ploys to work her way back in his life. It wouldn’t be the first time. She’d tried something similar after she realized he wasn’t going to leave Randa for her. Selena went so far as to inject herself with medication that would mimic the symptoms of a chemo patient.

By then, he and Randa were working things out and had come to an agreement to open their marriage, Selena being the first. Her jealousies and undermining Randa’s confidence nearly toppled the tentative bond he and Randa had forged. Randa meant everything to him, and he wasn’t going to let another female destroy what they were building.

Lincoln was so stuck on the first part of Selena’s news he nearly missed the second, more important piece. He focused on her.

“Say that again.”

She sat back with a smug twist of her lips. “I said you have a daughter.”

Anger surged through him. There was no way in hell any of the words she had just spoken were true. He jumped from his seat, tossed some bills on the table, and then jerked her from the booth. Ignoring the stares of the other patrons, Lincoln marched Selena from the diner.

Once they hit the crisp air, heavy with rain, he shoved her against the rough exterior of the building. Eyes wide with fear, she stared up at him. He placed a hand at her throat.

“I’d kill you myself if I thought I could get away with it. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t walk away from you.”

“Because I wanted to hurt you the way you hurt me.” She held up a small envelope, the paper shaking so hard it rattled.

He snatched it from her and stepped away. He ripped it open and pulled out the birth certificate. His name was listed as the father. This still wasn’t enough proof. “And how do I know this is legit and not something you forged?”

She slid down the wall and sat on the asphalt. “You’re the only man I was involved with at that time.” She dropped her head in her hands. “I just need to know my kid will be taken care of after I’m gone.”

Shaking his head, he walked away.

“Please, Lincoln. I have to know.”

 

 

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She won’t give in #MFRWhooks

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Leo Shepard has few regrets, but leaving his wife Symmone to pursue his career was a catastrophic mistake. Now that he’s achieved his every dream and is about to make partner at Greene and Banks Architects, he lacks one thing, a wife. But Leo doesn’t want just any wife, he wants the woman he left behind.

From the moment she laid eyes on Leo, Symmone knew she would have her happily ever after. The last thing she expected was a divorce and a broken heart. Devastated by the end of her marriage, she has no choice but to quit school and pick up the pieces of her life.

Working two jobs to support herself and her children, Symmone has little room in her life for romance and even less for her pulsating attraction to her ex-husband. When Leo strolls into the cafe where she works, bent on reconciliation, the chemistry between them is more powerful than ever. Yet she won't give in to his soft words and expensive gifts. More than just her heart is at stake, her children are, as well.

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Excerpt

She squared her shoulders. But why was he here? There was no reason for him to even seek her out. They were divorced, good and proper. She hadn’t asked him for anything in the ensuing years, even going so far as to return the monthly support payments. She didn’t want or need his guilt money. Besides, ten years was a long time to carry a torch for anyone, and she had too much going on in her life to waste her time with teenage fantasies and lovelorn dreams. And certainly not on Leo Sheppard.

Quickly she mopped up the errant coffee and did her best to avoid Amanda’s wave and point.

“You have a customer. And he asked for you,” Amanda said, slapping a stack of menus on the counter.

“I was really hoping to…”

“C’mon, Symmone. He’s absolutely gorgeous and he’s wearing this really great cologne.” Amanda swept her gaze over Symmone from head to toe and just barely wrinkled her nose. “Why he would ask for you I have no idea.”

Disdain from the snotty hostess was a given, and Symmone could ignore the cattiness; what she couldn’t ignore was the hot, bitter emotion roiling in her stomach. For a second it felt a lot like jealousy. Ten years and she was jealous? Unbelievable.

With an eye roll, Symmone picked up the glass of water and approached the table where Leo sat. Thankfully he had his back to her and she had time to gather her thoughts. Why was he here? She couldn’t seem to get past that question.

Her footsteps slowed as she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the windowpane. She paused long enough to straighten her dark ponytail. With a huff of disgust she dropped her hand from her ebony tresses and shook her head. She couldn’t believe she was primping for her ex. Primping!

She set the glass on the table with a thump. He looked up with a tentative smile, and she was lost. She opened her mouth to speak and not a single word came out. God, he was even more handsome than the last time she’d seen him. Gone was the youthful softness of his face. Now he had a man’s face, a jaw that spoke of strength and maturity. His brown eyes, while bright and intelligent, seemed to hold a tinge of sadness, but what drew her attention most was his mouth. How many hours had she fantasized about the taste and shape of his mouth, about the firm press of his lips against hers or the butterfly kisses he used to flutter over her skin.

His smile widened. “You’re speechless.”

The warm rasp of his rich baritone danced over her, opening wounds she thought long since healed and igniting a desire she’d hoped long dead. He couldn’t come in here, to her place of employment, and upset everything she’d ever worked for with just two words.

Everything came back in an aching, throbbing fireball, and she clenched her hands at her sides.

“What do you want?” She didn’t bother to hide the annoyance or anger in her voice.

He blinked, and his smile drooped a bit, but he managed to maintain it. “I came to see you.”

“You haven’t given a damn about me in ten years. What’s so special about now? Are you dying? Or have you come to assuage some misplaced sense of guilt? Either way, the café has very good takeout I believe you would enjoy.”

He chuckled, and it produced an ache in areas she didn’t want to acknowledge. “I suppose I deserve that, but you’re wrong, Symmone. I’ve never stopped thinking about you.” His quiet admission stayed her irritation. “And I was wrong to do what I did.”

Tears burned and clogged the back of her throat. Somehow he’d stolen all of her righteous indignation with a few short sentences. “Well, I’m glad to hear you admit it. So is this what makes amends for anyone you’ve wronged? Fine. You’re forgiven. You may go.” She spun on her heel, would’ve made a clean getaway, except he grabbed her wrist. The chair scraped across the floor, and a moment later the hard line of his body met her back.

Need slammed through her system, sparking little used nerves and sending her pulse into overdrive. The heady scent of his cologne, a little pine and sage, promised slow, sensual seduction.

She whirled around and snapped her gaze to his face. Molten desire shone in the depths of Leo’s milk chocolate eyes. Her breath caught in her throat. She never expected to see such passion on his face, not after all this time. Biting her lip against the answering wave of desire pulsing through her veins, she snatched her hand away.

“Don’t touch me again!”

He backed up, hands raised. “Okay. I’m sorry. I just”—he inhaled—“I want to talk to you, Symmone. I meant what I said. There has been no one else since you and, well, I would really like to take you out to dinner tonight.”

Dinner? She pierced him with an icy stare and savored a small victory when he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I’m. Busy.”

Nodding, he reached inside his jacket pocket, pulled out a card, and laid it on the table. “If you change your mind, my cell is at the bottom and my hotel is on the back.” His gaze lingered on her a moment. “If I don’t hear from you, I will be back every day until you agree to see me.”

He brushed past and she stared after him, dumbfounded. What game was he playing now?

 

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Stolen Holidays #MFRWhooks

Stealing Christmas

Secrets abound in Benson's Bakery. A crazed Santa wants something valuable hidden inside the building, and only two things stand in his way...Jake and Sara.

When Sara Henderson receives threatening letters just days before Christmas, she asks sexy bread baker Jake Benson for help. Jake is more than happy to provide the muscle to keep the beautiful cake decorator from harm, but he has an ulterior motive--to steal a kiss under the mistletoe. Sara wants that kiss as much as he does, but first they have a mystery to solve.

Will they find out who is stalking Sara, or will Santa succeed in stealing Christmas?

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Excerpt

Once Tori arrived, Sara returned to the office.  Jake stood in the prep area, still up to his elbows in dough.  He glanced up as she walked by. “I’m going with you to the bank.”

 

“You’re behind on the breads. I can take Tori with me or wait until Seth gets back.”

 

“I won’t be that long, Sara.”

 

She faced him.  “Neither will I.”

 

He plopped a portion of dough on a scale, checking the weight before rounding it in a ball.  “I’ll be done by the time you’re finished with the deposit.”

 

She groaned.  He wouldn’t leave her alone until she agreed to his company.  “Fine, I’ll even start the car to give you extra time.”

 

Jake inclined his head and continued his task.  Sara studied the way he manipulated the dough, used the heels of his hands to push the bread away and his strong fingers to fold it over and bring it back.  Over and over, he tugged and pulled, kneading and twisting. For a moment, Sara envisioned him doing the same thing to her, even when he occasionally pinched the dough to see if it was ready.

 

“You’re staring,” he said.

 

She swallowed.  “I wasn’t. How long will the dough take to rise?”

 

“Depends on how much heat and moisture it gets.”

 

“What happens if there’s too much heat and moisture?”  She met and held his gaze.

 

“The dough gets too sticky and it won’t rise as much.”  He never stopped moving his hands.

 

She wondered what would get a rise out of him.  “I-I’ll be in the office.”

 

He rounded the dough.  “I’ll be here.”

 

She spun on her heel and bumped into the door, her face burned when he laughed behind her. Head held high she entered the office and closed the door.  What was she doing thinking about Jake like that? Could he really want to pursue something with her now? She put her hands to her flaming cheeks, glancing through the door window. He still had his eyes on her. She spun away, and leaned against the door, a hand over her racing heart. A faint smile brushed the corners of her mouth as she went to the safe and pulled out the deposit.

 

Ten minutes later Sara had the money bundled, her change order ready, and her coat on.  She stepped out of the office, digging in her purse for her keys. “I’m starting the car.  It’s snowing again.”

 

“Wait for me. I just have to wash my hands.”  Jake placed the last of the dough in loaf pans.

 

“My car is three feet from the door.”  She shook her head. “I’m just warming up the car!”

 

He chuckled.  “I still have to wash my hands.”

 

With a huff, Sara stepped into the back alley and slammed the door.  She paused, thumbing through the jumble of keys for the right one and peered around the drab gray world.  Her car wasn’t exactly three feet from the door, more like thirty. She pulled her hood over her ebony hair and started forward.

 

She was perfectly capable of going to the bank by herself, but now that she was in a winter wonderland alone, her bravado failed.  Sara crunched across the snow, bare asphalt peeking through in spots. The keys jangled as her foot slid on an icy patch. She stuttered stepped and came to a bone-jarring halt. That could’ve been bad, she’d have to throw down more salt. Drawing in a deep breath, she moved forward again.

 

Rough hands seized her jacket.

 

Sara struggled for purchase while jerking away from her assailant.  How could she have been so stupid? Panic turned her limbs to jelly, her breath came in stuttered gasps. She had to get away. His strong grip held her purse and jacket.  She pried at his hands, but he refused to release her. Twisting in his grasp, she stared into his cold eyes, his thin lips curling into a sneer.

 

“Let go!” she shouted.

 

“Give me what I want!”

 

Sara wrenched away from him, ripping her coat.  He struggled to retain his grip, yanking the purse tangled around her arm. If she could get enough room to maneuver she could get away. His fingers slipped. She raised her foot and kicked, her boot connecting with his shin.  He howled, but didn’t release her.

 

He seized her arms, lifting her. Sucking in a breath, she squirmed this way and that to break his hold. Santa’s sleeve fell back. Her eyes fastened on the bit of ink ringing his wrist. She struggled harder. A shriek left her lips and disappeared into the snow. She kicked her legs, hoping to connect with a body part. Nothing but air. He swung her around. She should’ve waited. The door scraped open. He gave her one final, violent shake, dropped her and fled.

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