Closing Out the Holidays

I'm playing catch-up today. I  have holiday sales that are close to ending, holiday freebies that are going back in the vault until next December, an antho that is going away FOREVER in a couple of weeks. But I also have a couple of brand new reads that are going to be available (free, of course) only to members of my reader group. Read on for details:

My Holiday Book Sale will run 'til the end of the week. After that, Finders Keepers, Iron and Oak all go back to their everyday prices. Links are on my website. Books are available...well, wherever you buy your ebooks. 

My FREE For the Holidays Web Page is going back into hiding until next year as well. If you'd like to read "Counting On Christmas" sometime THIS year, RIGHT NOW might be your last chance. 

The Nine Naughty Novelists are closing up shop within the next week or so, so this is definitely your last chance to get Nine Nights in New Orleans EVER. We're sad to see it go, but it was time.


If you're a member of my FB Readers Group The Crone's Nest, I have two holiday presents for you. Okay, one's, technically, still in the works, but it will be available ANY DAY NOW. 

Join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheCronesNest

The first present is the NEWLY COMPLETED Prologue to the upcoming Winter Hearts series (which I'm calling Winter of Our Discontent). 

October 1870 

 As the world mourns the loss of brilliant inventor Dr. Charles Winter (known affectionately to his friends as the professor) most remain unaware of the great technical advances he had made in the areas of cloning, artificial intelligence and mechanical life-forms. Sadly, this ignorance of so much of his most far-reaching and astonishing work extends even to the professor's own family, which includes his four adult children, the product of his marriage to the late Millicent Pearson Winter. 

 The younger Winters are quirky and independent, dedicated to social justice, rational science and intellectual achievement. Inculcated from earliest childhood with their mother's Quaker beliefs and their father's dedication to progress, the four siblings are tireless in their pursuit of whatever personal goals they happen to set for themselves. 

 At the time of their father's death, the siblings had yet to discover the fact that their supposed half-sister, Ophelia, was not the result of their father's infidelity as they'd long supposed. This ignorance precipitated a crisis for Ophelia, as is documented in the series prequel, This Winter Heart.

My second gift is Winter World of Love, which is a sequel to This Winter Heart. That's the one that's late. But it's definitely coming soon! And if you want it, join the club...in a manner of speaking. lol!

December 1871 

 Just one short year ago, Ophelia Leonides returned to New Texacali hoping to reconcile with her husband. And, for a while, it seemed that most, if not all, her dreams were coming true. But as the holiday season approaches, Ophelia can’t help but notice that Dario has begun to brood. He says it has nothing to do with her, but trust, once lost, is hard to regain. 

 Dario is frustrated by his inability to give Ophelia the life he knows she deserves. Now, as old ghosts from his past draw close, and the bright future he’s promised his wife grows increasingly dim, he’s on the brink of making a last, desperate gamble--one that might destroy everything they've been hoping to achieve.

I'm having so much fun with this series. I hope you'll join me as the Winter Hearts journey continues! Look for the next book in the series, Lightning in a Bottle, later this year. 


New Year, New Excerpt?


Okay I lied. The excerpt isn't really new. It's from Never Have I Ever (Games We Play, Book Two) which I'm hoping to re-release next month. It's currently available on Radish, however, along with the other books in the series, in case you'd like to get a head start on reading the books that way. But the excerpt I'm about to share has been kicking around the internet (and my brain) for a lot longer than the series it's become a part of. It started out (exactly ten years ago!) as a piece of NYE flash fiction, Luke started out as Tony, and the nameless customer at the end of the bar became a bearded ginger who'll figure prominently in the series...life is full of surprises like that. 

Here's the link to the original, in case you'd like to compare--and also because it includes the "photo prompt" that inspired the whole thing. That's Kristy all the way in the back: 



Kristy loves Luke. But if anything was clear to her back when they were kids it was that gawky, awkward, tomboys didn't stand a chance with the king of the schoolyard. She watched her older brothers set their caps for Luke's glamorous cousins and get shot down. So she did what she had to in order to salvage her friendship with Luke. She hid her true feelings and her need for him to take control.  

Luke wants Kristy in the worst way – actually, in all the worst ways: tied up, held down, beaten, bitten, whipped. But he knows he has no chance of ever having her. They'd been childhood friends and sweethearts, until she friend-zoned him in the fifth grade. He knows he can either keep her as a friend or take her to bed and lose her forever. His biggest mistake—so far—was in hiring her to work alongside him in the bar he and his cousins inherited from their grandmother. He knows Kristy needs the money and the job, but Luke's self-control can't take the constant contact with the girl he wants to dominate—both in and out of the bedroom. Something has to give—and soon! 

 Now available as a serial read on Radish Fiction at: https://radishfiction.com/stories/6761


That strip of bare skin across Kristy’s back—the one that appeared in the gap that stretched between the hem of her shirt and her pants’ waistband whenever she bent to get something from beneath the bar, as she was doing right now—had been driving Luke crazy all evening. Working this New Year’s Eve party together—why had he ever thought that was a good idea? 

Oh, yeah. The money—she needed the tips as much as the hotel needed the income they were hoping to generate with parties like this. Coupled with that was his sad and pathetic crush on the girl, and his even sadder and more pathetic hope that he might get a chance to sneak a kiss at midnight. 

The kiss hadn’t happened. When the balloons had dropped, just a couple of minutes earlier, they’d both been far too busy pouring drinks and making sure everyone’s glasses were topped off for the thought to even enter his head. 

The guests were kissing though, especially that one couple on the other side of the bar. They’d locked lips even before the final ten-second countdown had begun, and if they’d come up for air any time since, Luke must have missed it. All around them, people continued to celebrate the new year with toasts and smiles and kisses. 

“Hey, bartender, can I get another over here?” 

All except for that one guy, the big, bearded ginger sitting alone at the end of the bar, nursing his Guinness. He wasn’t a regular. Luke had no idea who he was or what the guy had thought he was doing coming here tonight. Who went to a New Year’s Eve party alone? Who sat by themselves and drank by themselves—all night—without even trying to connect with anyone else? 

“Bartender?” the man repeated. 

“Yes, sir,” Luke replied. “Right away.” 

But getting the man his beer meant passing behind Kristy, who was still bent over the bar. And that was a problem because all Luke could think about was how it would feel to press close behind her, slide his hand up her back beneath her shirt, and pin her against the polished teak surface of the bar. He could imagine the look of surprise on her face as she’d turn to look at him.

 Luke. What are you doing? she’d ask. Maybe she’d sound annoyed with him, as she often did. Or maybe there’d be a hitch in her breathing, a flare of heat in her cheeks. Maybe her eyes would grow dark with desire in that way he’d rarely seen but often fantasized about… 

 “Don’t move,” he said, using his other hand to tug at her pants, so curious to discover what type of underwear she had on. A thong would be hot, but he doubted that was the case. Wouldn’t the strap be visible with her bent over the way she was, her tempting derriere on display? Maybe a pair of bikini panties, then…but on second thought, surely there would be lines, if that were the case? He glanced again at Kristy’s upturned butt. Could it be…? 

“Going commando?” He raised an eyebrow, put on an expression of shocked disapproval. “Have you been a naughty girl this year?” 

So, okay, the year was, technically, only a couple of minutes old, and besides, he was a week late for the whole naughty or nice thing, but who could resist the temptation she represented? He pushed his hand deeper into her pants, seeking the wetness that would let him know she was enjoying this game as much as he was. 

She wiggled her ass, almost as though she were trying to get away, but her fingers were clenched on the edge of the bar. She rocked her hips, pushing herself more firmly into his hand with every motion until his fingers were sliding back and forth over slick, wet flesh. He leaned in even closer then and whispered, “Do you need a spanking?” 

She gave a gasp. “Luke, no. There are people watching!” 
Well, that was a given. Of course there’d be people watching. What good was a show without an audience? “Let ’em watch,” he murmured, stroking harder… 

“Hey! Buddy,” the man at the end of the bar barked suddenly. “Think there might be a chance of me getting that beer sometime this year?” 

Luke started, coloring as he was jerked back to reality. “Yes, sir,” he replied, shaking his head in an effort to clear away the fantasy. 

He headed for the cooler where the beer was stored. “Behind you,” he said as he passed Kristy, his voice so thick with lust, he barely recognized it. 

She straightened abruptly and collided against him as she took a startled step backward. Her hair and the scent of her fragrance tickled his nose, and he reached for her without thinking. 

“Careful,” he cautioned, instinctively taking hold of her hips to help her regain her balance. 

“Luke.” She craned her neck to glance up at him, arching her back a little as she did, so that her butt brushed against his groin. He groaned softly. A faint flush colored her cheeks. “Sorry. I didn’t see you there.” 

“No problem,” he said with a weak smile. Impulsively, he leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Happy New Year.” 

Kristy’s eyes widened in surprise. “Thanks.” She turned and pressed an all-too-quick kiss on his lips. “You too.” 

Oh yeah, baby. Luke slid his arms around her, but Kristy was already pushing out of his grasp. 

“What did you need?” 

You. Always. Luke was surprised she was asking, surprised it needed to be said—but only for an instant. Then he realized what she was actually asking. He motioned at the tap. “Oh, uh, get me a Guinness. Please.” 

Kristy flashed him a tight smile. Then she spun around again, grabbed a pint glass from the rack, and began pouring. He watched her in silent frustration. He should be used to it by now. Kristy DiLuca had been driving him crazy for as long as he’d known her—which was basically all his life. 

“Here you go,” she said as she passed him the beer he’d come to get. 

“Thanks.” Luke resisted the impulse to brush another kiss against her lips. 

Another couple of hours and this party would be over. He could go home and jerk off to yet another fantasy about her. He sighed and shook his head and then went off to deliver the drink. Oh yeah, the New Year was off to a great start. Not.