And don't forget, in order to be eligible for the big, grand prize, you'll need to comment on each of the twelve posts.
In the meantime, here's a Christmas-themed excerpt from The Spirit of the Place.
“So...what are you doing tomorrow?” [Jasmine] asked as they pulled up in front of her house.
Brandon cut the engine and turned off the lights. “Tomorrow? Not too much, why?”
“Well, because it’s Christmas, that’s why.”
“Yeah? So?” Christmas. Right. And wasn’t that special? Come to think of it, that probably went a long way toward explaining his lousy mood tonight, didn’t it? He walked around to her side, intending to simply hand her the keys and leave, and then decided to walk her to the door. After all, there was no place he had to be and, with no one expecting him, he was in no hurry to get there.
“Don’t you have any plans at all?” she persisted, as they headed toward the house. “What about dinner?”
“I haven’t really thought about it. Your aunt’s going out somewhere, so I guess I’ll be on my own. Maybe I’ll go into town for dinner, or something.” Or maybe he wouldn’t even bother. How long could one day be, after all?
“You could always come to dinner with us,” she offered climbing the steps to the front porch. “We’re going to my Aunt Lucy’s house, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you joined us.”
Another aunt? Not on your life, sugar. “Thanks,” he said, trying hard to hide his lack of enthusiasm. “But I’m kind of looking forward to the time alone.”
Jasmine bit her lip. “You can’t want to be alone, Brandon. It’s Christmas.”
Once again, Brandon found himself staring at her mouth. She was right. He didn’t want to be alone, he wanted to be with her. No, he wanted to be inside her. He felt the beast’s claws rake his insides again and all but snarled at her. “I told you. It’s not a big deal. Besides, if I don’t want to spend Christmas with my family, what makes you think I’d want to spend it with yours?”
The words registered in his brain several seconds after they’d come out of his mouth. Oh, shit. He hadn’t meant it to come out that way, but the sight of her teeth worrying her lip made him crazy as always.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that,” he said, sighing a little at the hurt she tried to hide. He put his hands on her shoulders and stared into her eyes, hoping to look and sound sincere. “Really, I didn’t.”
She shrugged, still looking like she didn’t believe him. “I just thought...it might be nice for you not to be alone,” she said, quietly. “That’s all.”
Nice? He couldn’t keep from smiling. “You really want to help me have a nice Christmas, Jasmine?”
She nodded, looking surprised and slightly confused. Brandon knew another brief moment of guilt, remembering Paco’s words. Could she really be as innocent as she looked right now?
Oh, impossible. She has to know exactly where this conversation is heading.
“Then why don’t you give me something nice to think about, while I’m all alone tomorrow,” he murmured as he crowded her against the wall of the house and lifted her chin.
He thought, at first, she was going to resist, but, apparently she was sincere about wanting him to have a nice Christmas. She raised her face willingly. Her lips opened under his and, when he felt her arms slip hesitantly around his neck, he moved his hands to her waist. They closed around bare skin and he was all at once wrestling with himself to maintain control. He wasn’t going to make the mistake of rushing her again, but it was definitely time to take this thing to the next level.
He deepened the kiss deliberately. Taking his time. Gauging her mood. Waiting for the moment when he could finally begin sliding his hands slowly up her sides, under her sweater. Ahh, yes...
She was breathing hard by the time his hands came to a stop just beneath her breasts. He shifted his hands slightly, felt her shudder as his thumbs brushed across her nipples. He did it again. And again. And then...he shifted his hands once more to cup her breasts in his palms. She moaned deep in her throat as she pressed herself against him.
Oh, yeah, that’s what I call nice, all right, he thought, all but growling in satisfaction. But still he wanted more. He pulled back a bit and, as he’d hoped, she followed after him, pushing herself even closer. He slid his arms around her. His hands skimmed down her back to her butt. He held her against him and let one hand move lower still, lifting her leg and wrapping it around him, and then trailing his hand back up along her bare thigh.
She was clinging to him now, trembling slightly, almost whimpering, barely seeming to breathe. And then— with a muffled shriek she pushed away from him. He stared at her in surprise.
“Something bit me,” she exclaimed, looking down at the floor.
He followed her gaze. Her mother’s cat sat at her feet, ears laid back, an angry look on its furry little face. He moved his gaze to Jasmine’s ankle and, sure enough, blood was oozing from several small wounds.
“Why would she do such a thing?”
Oh, who the fuck knows? Brandon sighed, tiredly. The whole world seemed joined in a conspiracy to interrupt them every time things got even slightly interesting. But, just like always, it was probably for the best. “You’d better get inside,” he said.
She turned startled eyes to him again. “What?”
“It’s late,” he told her. “It’s probably already Christmas by now. And you’ve got a big dinner to go to, remember?”
“Brandon,” she paused, frowning uncertainly. “Please come with us?”
He smiled and shook his head. “No. But, thanks for asking.” He leaned in to brush one last kiss against her lips. “Have a merry Christmas, Jasmine. I’ll see you in a couple of days.”
* * *
Jasmine watched as he walked away. She hadn’t meant to let things go so far tonight, but Brandon had a way of getting to her. A way of short circuiting her intelligence, derailing her good intentions, screwing up her judgment and making her act all crazy. He was bad news. No doubt about it.
She leaned against the door frame as she stared into the night; gazing down the empty road long after his car had disappeared from sight. Shadow meowed plaintively and rubbed against her ankles, her earlier hostility obviously forgotten. Finally, Jasmine stirred, opened the door and let them both inside.
The house was dark and quiet. Obviously her mother was already asleep. Jasmine didn’t know whether to feel relieved or disappointed about that. Could she talk to her mother about something like this? She needed to talk to someone—but who? The dog stood motionless in the shadows like a sentinel, but for once Jasmine felt a stray surge of sympathy for the mutt. It must be hard, after having been raised in one environment, trained for a certain purpose, to find yourself thrust suddenly into another life altogether. The poor dog must feel as out of her element here as Jasmine knew herself to be.
And she couldn’t even be certain anymore that it was all Sam’s fault she felt this way. What if she succeeded in making him leave, only to find that her problems remained? What then?
She fed the cat and headed for bed, although she doubted she’d get much sleep tonight. Her body hummed with an unfamiliar energy. Her head was spinning. And if Brandon were to show up again, unexpectedly, if he were to throw rocks at her window, like they always did in movies, would she sneak out to meet him?
She didn’t even have to think about that one. She’d go in a heartbeat. It was foolish, and she was no doubt dooming herself to heartbreak by even thinking like that, but for the chance to explore more of this feeling, she’d take the risk.
Welcome back to bewitching Oberon, California! This small, coastal town is an enchanting place. Anything can happen here—and all too often it does! Clinging to corrugated cliffs above a windswept beach, and isolated amid a tangled network of canyons and creeks, Oberon can be a hard place to get to. But, as all too many visitors have learned over the years, it can be an even harder place to leave behind.
In Return to Oberon the series continues with books four through six. Once again, these are full-length novels. Although many of the same characters appear in each one, all the books in this collection can be read as stand-alone stories.
Book Four: A Taste of Honey
As far as Lucy Greco Cavanaugh is concerned, her life is a dream come true. She has it all, the perfect family, the perfect husband, the perfect marriage. What more could she wish for—other than the chance to do it all again, to experience once more the agony and ecstasy of falling in love with the man of her dreams, to recapture the joy and uncertainty that comes with starting over.
For her husband, Shakespeare-quoting Dan Cavanaugh, however, that dream has just become a nightmare. His storybook marriage is on the line thanks in part to Deirdre Shelton-Cooper, the runaway daughter of a former girlfriend. Deirdre’s intent on proving Dan is her father. When she accidentally hooks up with Dan and Lucy’s son, Seth, the Cavanaughs are left to wonder: how did their fairy-tale romance turn into a classic Greek tragedy?
It’s going to take an entire band of angels to bring the Cavanaughs’ story to a sweet conclusion. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what’s coming to town.
Book Five: Touch of a Vanished Hand
Sinead Quinn has always been something of a drifter. But now, with her ex-husband trying to blackmail her, and her ex-boyfriend's widow trying to put her in jail, she has no choice but to go to ground. What better place to hide than with your family? After all, what are sisters for—especially when you're a twin? But the first rule of hiding out, is to keep a low profile. That does not mean kissing your sister's boyfriend (even if he can't tell the two of you apart); rescuing a troubled teen; or taking a highly visible job as hostess of Oberon's most celebrated new inn.
Adam Sasso has always dreamed big. But big dreams beget big complications. First, his goal to turn the vineyard he inherited from his grandfather into a world-class winery is threatened by a mysterious saboteur. Next, his plan to run the finest bed & breakfast Oberon has ever seen, is broadsided by a hostess who seems to want to run him instead! Finally, his fondest wish, that of finding love-everlasting with the soul mate of his dreams, is about to go up in smoke when he can't convince the lady in question that they're destined to be together.
Things are really heating up in Oberon this summer—and it’s not just the arson! It's going to take all
the wizardry the town can summon up in order to craft a happy ending for the drifter and the dreamer.
Book Six: The Spirit of the Place
It’s a week before Christmas and Marsha Quinn has a lot on her mind, like the fact that her entire family is about to arrive—including her daughter, Jasmine, who’s far from happy about Marsha’s upcoming wedding. In fact, there’s only one thing about her future stepfather that Jasmine can't help but admire, and that’s the graduate student he’s recently hired as an intern.
Brandon Ablemarle was already having a hard time finding the holiday spirit, and that was before the fiery redhead he can’t manage to keep his hands off hit town. If his new boss’s radical book is published, it could sink both their careers. Can he and Jasmine ignore the attraction between them long enough to stop the wedding and the book, or will the psychic energy they unwittingly raise put a stop to them, instead?
With so much chaos going on, is it any wonder Marsha finds herself wishing on a star? But it’s not just any star she chooses; it’s Venus, the Star of Love. Now Marsha’s about to be visited by three very special ghosts.