Sunday, September 17, 2017

Powell Stewart -- an Excerpt from Capricorn Cravings

Capricorn Cravings was the first story I wrote in my Zodiac Series and I think of all the hunky men I've created, Powell is my favorite. Here's a little excerpt from the book.

POWELL

(Excerpt from Capricorn Cravings)

Powell waved as he passed Riley on the highway. She didn't see him, which wasn't surprising considering she had probably never seen his pick-up. He was pretty sure she was going to visit her father. She had mentioned it to him, and Jim Branken had told him he would be taking care of her animals while she was gone for the weekend. She had the dog on the passenger seat with her, so she probably wasn't on a work related mission.

He had to take this opportunity to go home while she was out of Shady Valley. He couldn't leave her alone there. Not after looking at the pictures of the other dead girls. It annoyed him that she didn't seem to believe she could be in such great danger, and he didn't like the way she rode into those remote areas all alone. She had told him she had a gun, but it wouldn't be much use to her if it was in her saddlebags.
The drive to Boulder took three and half hours, and he had stopped to buy a burger and fries at Burger King before pulling into the parking space in front of his condo.
He eased himself out of the truck and stretched his cramped limbs. Pulling his bag out of the back of the truck, he headed for the front entrance. Lucy had been collecting his mail, so he headed straight for the stairs, which he always took in preference to the elevator.
He dropped the bag outside his door, unlocked it, and pushed it open. The air smelled stale. He picked up the bag and went through to his bedroom, where he threw it on the bed. He crossed to the window and threw it open, and took a few deep breaths.
He pulled off his boots and socks, and slipped on a pair of flip flops, replaced his denim jeans with a pair of shorts, and headed back down to his truck to retrieve his lunch. He stopped outside Lucy's door and knocked.
"Just a minute," she cried. He could hear Sylvester mewing.
She threw the door open and greeted him with open arms. He picked her up and swung her around, before setting her down and kissing her on her cheek. "I knew it," she said. "Sylvester's been restless all morning. I don't know how he knows but he always does." He stared down at her, taking in the newly permed short gray hair and shrewd brown eyes.
Powell bent and stroked his cat's soft fur. "Good to see you, buddy."
"I put your mail on your desk, as usual and paid a couple of bills. You'll see them there. How long are you here for this time?"
"I can only stay a couple of nights. Have to leave on Sunday again. You had your hair done different."
She patted her head. "Powell Stewart, if you aren't the love of my life. I miss you." She hugged him around his waist and looked down at the cat, which was threading itself through Powell's legs, purring like a freight train. "He does too."
The top of her head reached almost to his shoulders. Powell bent and pecked her on the cheek again. "Well, you know I love you too, and I appreciate everything. Come on Sylvester." He held up the fast food bag. "Burger King fries."
Lucy clucked her tongue. "You're feeding him junk food again. I don't know why he eats it."
"I bought these fries especially for him. Won't eat them from Mickey D's or Wendy's or anyone else. Only Burger King.”  He opened the door. “I’m going up to my condo but I’ll be back later."
The cat followed him eagerly up the stairs.
They sat together on his blue leather couch and he ate the burger while he fed the cat fries, one at a time.
After they had finished, he threw the wrapper into the trash and saw that Lucy had put fresh litter in the litter box. Next, he tackled the mail. He threw away most of it, added up the amounts of the bills Lucy had paid, and wrote a check to reimburse her.
"Okay, boy," he said to the cat, "Let's go back and see what Lucy can tell me." He looked at his watch. "Four thirty five. She should be awake and decent."
He tapped on her door. 
"Come on in." 
Powell pushed the door open and Sylvester rushed through ahead of him.
"I knew it was you," Lucy said, stroking the cat, which jumped up beside her on the easy chair.
"So, what do you have for me? Any maintenance work that needs doing?" He dropped into the sofa across from her.
Powell filled in as Lucy's handyman for the condo block in exchange for her taking care of Sylvester and his condo while he was away. "I'll get started first thing tomorrow," he said after scanning the list Lucy handed him. "It shouldn't take me long. I want to go on a climb at Eldorado Canyon on Sunday morning."
She shook her head. "You and that rock climbing. I wish you'd use ropes and things. I don’t want to hear you've fallen to death. It would give me a heart attack."
"Never happen. Free climbing's the only way to go. The adrenalin rush is much better. I'm always careful though."
"Well, I think it's time for a drink." She looked at her watch. "I bought Heineken especially for you."
Powell got up and pulled a beer out of the refrigerator. He poured a glass of white wine for her from the open bottle and handed it to her. "Cheers," he said. They clinked glasses and he went back to his seat on the sofa.
Lucy raised her eyebrows. "So what can you tell me? Anything exciting happen while you were away?"
"Actually, I met someone." He stared into her eyes.
"Oh oh. You look very intense."
"I am. I mean, she's amazing. I think I'm in love with her."
"Woah there. Love at first sight? Or is it just lust, perhaps?" She smirked and rubbed her neck.
"I still love you the best. You know that. You'll always come first. I have to admit I do lust after her, but it's more than lust. She's gorgeous. She has long blonde hair and green eyes, and the first words I heard her saying was that she wanted to get laid."
"Well. That would get any man's hormones going. So I hope she appreciated it when you obliged her."
He shook his head and chuckled. "That's what I love about you, Lucy. You never judge anyone. I actually haven't been able to oblige her in that way. I've kissed her, though, and danced with her half naked."
"Sounds like fun to me. I can't imagine how that would not have ended in sex, though. Why if I had danced half naked with any one of my three ex-husbands we would definitely ended up with some passionate love-making." She smiled. "In fact I can remember a couple of times we did."
"I want you to meet her. I know you'll like her. She's… respectable. A veterinarian."
"Respectable women don't go around telling strange men they want to get laid."
"Yeah. She was talking to herself. She didn't know I was listening."
"So what are you going to do about her? Why didn't you bring her with you?"
"The problem is, she thinks I'm the serial killer who murdered her employee. I don't know how to convince her I'm not."
"Well that's simple. You just have to find out who the serial killer is, and turn him in." It was typical of Lucy, he thought, that she didn't get all upset and tell him to be careful.
"Easier said than done," he said. "She also has a boyfriend."
"You say you've kissed her?"
"Oh yeah. And it was good."
"She kissed you back?"
"Definitely."
"I wouldn't worry about the boyfriend then. She's not that serious about him."
"There's one more problem. She killed her former husband."
Lucy put her hand in front of her mouth. "Now that could be dangerous for you. Women who kill their husbands and get away with it tend to do it again. Are you sure you know what you're getting into?"
"She's not like that."
Later that evening Powell picked up his cell phone and punched in a number. "I'm in town. You up for a drink, and maybe play some pool?"
"Why didn't you tell me you were coming back?"
"Last minute decision. I got sick of living in a tent, and I wanted to see Sylvester. You coming?"
"Okay. At the Brewery?"
"Sure. See you soon."
Powell showered and changed into khaki cargo pants and a long sleeve blue cotton shirt. He rolled up the sleeves, patted on aftershave and stared at himself in the mirror. "I don't know how she can think that's the face of a serial killer."
Frank Sulista was already in the bar when he got there, sitting at the counter with a beer and a pitcher in front of him. They slapped hands and the bartender handed Powell a mug. He filled it from the pitcher.
"Thanks, Bill." Powell said to the bartender.
"So what's up?" Sulista said.
"Looks like we're gonna be involved with the serial killer investigation. I'm gonna keep a low profile. Why don't you come up and show the flag."
"I guess I could. I'm staying the motel, though. I'm done with camping in those fucking woods. How long you here for?"
"I'm going back up there on Sunday night."
"Better make that Monday or Tuesday. The boss wants to see you in the office."
Powell groaned. "Why did you tell him I was here?" Sulista just stared at him. "Okay. You're right. He has to go over the new assignment with me and debrief me about the other gig. That's gonna take more than a couple of days. Fuck. You'll have to get your ass over there on Sunday, then."
"Why? What's so urgent?"
"I'll tell you later." Powell took a long drink of beer.
"Ooh lookie there." Sulista leveled his gaze on two young women who had just entered and seated themselves a little way down the bar. "Looks like we're gonna get lucky tonight. I'll take the blonde. You can have the redhead. They're too feisty for me." He picked up the pitcher and his mug.
Powell put a hand on his arm. "Wait. Let me get a good look first." He studied the two. They were probably only just of legal drinking age, he thought. Both of them were pretty, there was no denying that. The girls had seen the two men staring at them. The redhead met Powell's gaze and winked. They would be easy pickings. His breathing quickened at the thought of her young body under his.
"That was a come on if ever I saw one. This is gonna be easy. Are you coming or not?" Sulista slid off his stool.
"I can't."
He stared at Powell, his mouth open. "What?"
"Can't do it. My heart's just not in it."
"Who said anything about heart? My dick's in it, big time. I can't believe yours isn't. I mean, look at them. They're hot and they want it."
"You go. You might get really lucky and get both of them." Powell drained his mug and filled it again.
Frank perched on the edge of the bar stool. "What the fuck is wrong with you? You've never backed down before."
"I met someone."
"You met someone in Shady Valley? There's only one hot chick in that town and she don’t like men. That animal doctor with the blond hair and big cans."
"That's the one I met."
Sulista's eyebrows lifted. "You been doing that chick? You old dog. I couldn't get anything out of her."
"That's why I can't do that redhead." He chin-cocked her. "She's also the reason you have to get up there by Sunday night, and keep track of her movements."
"You must be smitten bad." They turned to look at the two young women again and saw they had been joined by two younger men.
"Sonofabitch. Now look what you did. We lost out." Sulista banged his fist on the counter.
"Come on, there's a table free. Let's play some pool." Powell couldn't resist one more glance at the redhead. She stared at him, winked and licked her lips. He knew he could still have her if he wanted.
He didn't.

*END*

Now that you’ve read an excerpt, you can read the book. Click on the link to get it at .Amazon

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Reviews -- Lost Series by D M Thornton

I read Lost, the first book in this series some time ago and recently found the two sequels. If you want to feel the emotions of the characters you will love them. 


LOST WITHOUT YOU:
This second book in the Lost Series is completely different from the first, in which Brittany Powers and Cooper Owens are the sole survivors of a plane crash in the Amazon.
While it is hard to put yourself in their shoes in the Amazon, every emotion expressed in this, the second book, is something with which readers can totally identify.
The author has done a wonderful job of showing the detrimental effects of the plane crash on both characters, and their struggles to get over their PTSD and mental problems, plus their onw personal tragedies.
The coldness of Brittany's family and the warmth and love of Cooper's brothers and parents make for huge emotional conflicts, not to mention the kindness and hospitality of Charlie, Brittany's only friend in the world.
The two lovers' desperate need to reunite keeps the reader turning the pages.

LOST FOREVER

DM Thornton is an excellent author. She has a way of making the characters come to life so you care about everything that happens to them, especially if you have followed their story in the other two books.
This author is also gifted in her ability to make the reader feel each and every emotion. You will have your heartstrings stretched taught and then broken as you experience the soaring highs and desperate lows as Brittany and Cooper wallow in the joy of being together again. There is no doubt they are hopelessly in love with a love that will never die.
And then your heart will be ripped from your body.

I love this series and I am a huge fan,, but if you suffer from depression or are easily saddened, you may find this book too deeply emotional. 





Friday, July 28, 2017

Fat Girls Rock

Woohoo!! The fourth book in the Redneck P.I. Twila Taunton Series is almost ready for publication. Dedicated to anyone who has ever been called 'fat' -- you really do rock!!


Here's the cover and a short piece from the first chapter:

The rumble of Harleys died. I caught a glimpse of the riders through the screen door as they dismounted and parked their bikes outside the Hogs Waller Saloon. I shaded my eyes against the bright security light as Big Bart stomped his feet on the mat and strode in with his two dogs, Sadie and Benjamin, at his heels. His leathers creaked, and a long braid hung down his back from the red, white and blue bandanna tied around his head. His biker boots made a loud clopping sound on the old wooden floors, which dipped under his weight with every step.
Members of his gang trudged in behind him, 'Justice Enforcers' inscribed in red on the backs of their leather jackets. They nodded at us and headed for the bar, the smell of cigarette smoke and engine oil following them.
My dog Scratch stood up from under my legs, and stretched.
Bart stopped at our table. "Well, if it ain't the fat girls' club," he bellowed. He clamped an oversized hand on my shoulder and I stared at the cut-off black leather glove before I looked up and glared at him through narrowed eyes.
"Who are you calling fat? I'm not fat, and neither is LaMercy or Ena." I turned my gaze to each of my companions and nodded. They both nodded back. Fat was a word that's always pissed me off, but this was a delicate situation. You don't want to get on the wrong side of Bart Drummond.
He held up his hands in front of him, palms facing me, and my eyes followed the inked wolves climbing up his muscled arms to his shoulders. "Oh, no. Don’t get me wrong, Twila. Fat is good. What man doesn't like a little padding? I meant it in a good way." His gaze strayed bald-facedly from my boobs, to Ena's and then to LaMercy's. "You ladies all got curves where women are supposed to have 'em," he growled in his deep baritone voice. "Fat girls rock, man."

I was at a loss for words, which is unusual for me. Luckily, Scratch grabbed the limelight when Sadie growled and snapped at him. "Yeah, good girl. You don’t need no-one sticking their cold nose there, do you?" Bart rasped. He turned towards the bar. "What's a man got to do to get a drink around here?" he said.
"Coming right up!" Gasser, an annoying grin on his face, slid a 24oz glass of draft beer across the pitted wooden counter top. Bart crossed the room in three strides, grabbed it and swallowed half of it down in one gulp. He swiped a hand through his beard and licked the foam from his moustache.
Despite the open ducting in the high roof, the Hogs Waller Saloon had a cozy feel about it. Stuffed animal heads and deer antlers hung on the walls, together with old photographs of Quisby, home-made wooden plaques with redneck words of wisdom on them, a couple of old guns, and other unrecognizable objects. The dusty bottles on the shelves almost hid the mirror behind the bar, and glasses hanging from their racks reflected the yellow beams from the low lights. Frying smells from the kitchen hung in the air, and the old air conditioner rasped and groaned as it struggled to cool the room in the still sweltering Alabama summer night.
As usual, Jimmie Lewis, the town's most dedicated drunk, slouched in the corner on a bar stool, and coyote ugly Lilly Belle Groat, the town's most recognizable working girl, stood beside him, hoping for some action.
LaMercy, Ena and I were parked at a table in the restaurant side of the wide room, our drinks in front of us on the red and white checked plastic tablecloth. We hadn't ordered dinner yet, because we were waiting for Aunt Essie.
"Maybe we have put on some pounds," LaMercy, always the practical one said. I didn't like the way she was gawping at me.
"Maybe one or two," I conceded. "But no more than that." I frowned and looked down. My baggy navy blue T-shirt still fit comfortably, although I had to admit to myself it had been a struggle to get into some of my jeans and shorts recently. In fact, now that I thought about it, the jeans I had on were hurting my stomach. I figured they had shrunk in the wash.
I checked out LaMercy. Had she put on weight? I always thought her face was more angular, but with her big Afro hair it was difficult to be sure. She almost always wore dresses, as she was doing now, so a little extra padding wouldn't be so easy to see.
 "Yeah, but fat. That's a big word," Ena said. Her boobs had definitely gotten bigger. How come I hadn't noticed that before? They bulged out of the sides of her pink tank top. Was that all boob or could it really be fat rolls? I remember thinking she was buying her shorts a size too small, but I couldn't confirm that while she was sitting down.
We all stared at Bart's definitely-not-fat ass as he ambled across the room to join the others in the smoky haze that hung over the pool tables. No one was supposed to smoke in the bar, but who was gonna tell one of them to go stand outside with the humidity and bugs? It sounded like it was drizzling out there now, anyhow. Someone had closed the solid wooden door, but I could hear the clank of raindrops hitting the metal roof over the buzz of conversation.
"That is one heck of a man," Ena, the only one of us who was truly single said. "No fat there. It's all solid muscle. He is built."
I knew LaMercy was thinking it too, and so was I. He surely was a delectable mountain of maleness. "Why don't you go make a play for him?" I said to Ena. When I say Ena is 'truly' single, I mean although I am not married, and have no plans to ever marry, Harland O'Connor is my man. He has a special place in my heart—and other parts of me that I will not mention here. Just thinking about him makes things happen to those parts.

Ena's eyes went wide and she fanned herself with a napkin. "I am in the market for a man. I'm totally, epically ready, and just thinking about doing it with him is making me all hot and bothered. Do you think he's as big there as everywhere else?"

Available soon on Amazon. Meanwhile, check out the others in the series: 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Scorpio's Sting Now Available

Scorpio's Sting -- Romantic Suspense -- is available on Amazon after many hours of editing and a long wait.


This is the fourth book in my Zodiac Series, in which each heroine was born under a different star or zodiac sign and exhibits the traits associated with her sign.

ICE Agent Neelie Nelson and Drew McBain have a habit of meeting in strange circumstances.

Targeted by la Serpiente de Coral Cartel and the most powerful and ruthless drug kingpin in Mexico, Drew reels from heartbreak after catastrophic heartbreak. The desire for revenge festers while he fights to rebuild his life and protect what is his.

Neelie has never been able to forgive her deceased husband for his unmitigated betrayal, and for his lack of forethought that has put her and everyone she cares for in mortal danger.

Anger, fear, and a mutual passion for revenge fan the flames of their smoldering desire and then a desperate situation forces them to act against the cartel. But how can they match its power?

Buy now on Amazon



CHAPTER 1
Drew McBain’s eyes opened wide, and before he could do anything to stop her, a smoking hot blonde filled his arms. “Watch it,” he said.
She jerked her head up and yelped. “Oh no, I’m so sorry.”
“You should look where you’re going.” He held onto her longer than he should have. She smelled good, and he had just groped a delectable, firm breast. “I didn’t mean to . . .”
She ran her tongue over her lower lip, and for a moment their eyes met and held. The sudden intake of breath caught him by surprise.
“I’m sorry, again.” She held up the cell phone she had been checking. “My bad. I’m late for work.”
He released his hold on her, and watched her well-shaped ass until she disappeared into the darkness. Something held him there—some subliminal message that had passed between them compelled him to follow her. He stepped into the shadows. He shouldn’t have allowed her to get away. He rounded the corner to see her climb into her vehicle and slam the door.
“Wait!” he yelled and threw up a hand.
She didn’t hear him.

He stared after her...


NEELIE'S STORY


This is the prequel to Scorpio's Sting. It is available FREE at the link below.




Neelie Nelson fears the worst. Her husband has been gone over a year on a dangerous assignment to infiltrate a powerful drug cartel in Mexico. Her hands shake uncontrollably when she unwraps the crystal ball. What will she do if she sees his death? 

Get your FREE download here.




My thanks to my wonderful editor, Caroline Tolley and Soul Mate Publishing.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Goodbye my Love

I'm happy to be featuring Maggie Tideswell's new book, Goodbye my Love today.


Roxanne's Ghost Saga, a new mystery series from internationally acclaimed author Maggie Tideswell, is set against the stunningly beautiful backdrop of modern day South Africa. It is a compelling ghost story of identical twin sisters’ love for the same man, and the magical connection the women share.  
And the theme?  Nothing is what it seems.  
Here, we move into the realms of the mists of time that could either reveal or conceal.  

Book 1, Goodbye, My Love, sets the scene. It introduces country vet, Ben, his four-year-old autistic daughter and the would-be nanny, Jessica James. Jess’ interview with Ben for the nanny position takes place on Friday the 13th. An attraction between the two is immediate, which by all accounts isn't entirely normal.  
       Ben's three oddball sisters-in-law descend on him for the anniversary of his wife Roxanne's death. They try to convince Ben that Roxanne isn't dead, more than likely to put an end to whatever might develop between Ben and Jessica. But Ben knows that no one could have survived what led to Roxanne’s death. 
His daughter, diagnosed as autistic, only sometimes does she display the symptoms that led to her diagnosis. Autism is not a disease, it's a condition. A condition with symptoms that can't be turned on and off at will. So…what is the child really suffering from? 
Ben's wife's twin sister, Millicent, is accompanied by an over-board caricature of a psychic to Ben's home in order to help them find Roxanne. Of course, Millicent isn't happy to find Jess already in Ben's house—trouble is imminent. But only as far as Ben's ancient housekeeper, will allow her to. What does the housekeeper know that will keep Millicent's ruffled feathers under control? 
More importantly… 

Where is Roxanne? 
Does anyone live here?  

CHAPTER 1

The house looked deserted, kind of spooky. Jess couldn’t see any other houses nearby. Sally had not been kidding—this was a rather isolated place.  
Dilapidated outbuildings behind the sprawling house looked as unused as the house itself. Some sort of creeper covered most of the buildings except the house—it looked far too fragile to bear the added weight. 
There were what looked like turrets on each end of the house, and a domed one in between. That might be a skylight. Jess worried her bottom lip. What century was this place built?  
Lightning played over the majestic mountains behind the house, silhouetting it against the darkening sky, but down here in the valley, the late sun cast long shadows over the overgrown garden.  
It all fit so well with Friday the thirteenth, because this was creepy. What had she been thinking? She should have postponed the interview until Monday. One weekend surely wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. 
Jess studied the map on her tablet, which she held propped up against the steering wheel. This could be the right place, but she had thought that about both the previous two places, and neither had turned out to be Weltevreden. Neither had been as eerie as this place, either. 
No, this couldn’t be it. Tapping her finger against the edge of the tablet, she studied the house again. This whole thing smacked of a Friday the thirteenth Sally-prank. 
Sally, her bestie since high school, ran a very successful employment agency. The professional image notwithstanding, she still loved pranks of any kind—she would never outgrow them.  
Her eyes had lit up that morning when Jess sat in front of her desk, mugs of coffee steaming on the polished wood between them. The platter of doughnuts had been for Jess’ benefit. Sally and her perpetual dieting. 
“Something different,” Sally mused, tapping her pen against her front teeth, then pressed a button on her laptop, and reached for the sheet of paper the printer spewed out. “This might be just the thing. It came in just now.” She’d tossed her platinum curls over her shoulder, grinning at Jess. 
Another thing Sally would never outgrow, her Barbie-doll looks. 
“It has my name on it, then.” Jess leaned her forearms on Sally’s desk. “Tell me, tell me, tell me.” She grinned back, barely able to contain her excitement. “Does it involve a man?”  
Neither Sally nor Jess had found their Mr. Full Potential yet, although both had been ready for wedded bliss, the kids and the house in the suburbs thing, a long time ago. 
“As a matter of fact it does, but he doesn’t seem to be in the market. It says here that a nanny is required for a four-year-old autistic girl. Dr. Arnold specifically requested that only older women be put forward for the position.” 
“How old-fashioned. Where is this job?” 
“In the Wellington area.” Sally frowned at the monitor. 
“There you go. He won’t find anybody qualified to work that far from Cape Town. It is his child, I presume?” 
“It is, but do you seriously want to give this a go?” Sally looked worried as only she could. It went with the Barbie look.  “I’m intrigued. What kind of doctor is he?” 
“A veterinary surgeon. And a widower, it says here. That is all the information I have for you, I’m afraid.” Sally sat back in her chair. “I shouldn’t disregard so specific an instruction, Jess, but just this once, I’ll make an exception. Then it’s up to you to change his mind for him. It’ll be in his own best interest in the end.” She passed an information sheet across the desk. “I’ll tell Dr. Arnold to expect you at four. I’d pack an overnight bag if I were you. Call me, okay?” 
Now, sitting in front of the house that might or might not belong to Dr. Ben Arnold, Jess didn’t feel all that confident anymore. And it didn’t really sound like a prank, unless Sally had kept some information to herself. 
There was only one way to find out, and that was to knock on the door and ask.  
If there was anybody in the house to ask. 
Switching the engine off, she consulted the rear-view mirror to apply some color to her lips and pat her shoulder length bob into place. She took a moment to admire the rich auburn color in the late afternoon sunshine and sighed. 
I don’t know about this. It was a long way from Cape Town. 
What did people do around here for fun? 
Trying her best to ignore the goose bumps on her forearms, she opened the car door and stepped out. Her heels sank into the gravel, her shadow stretching all the way back to the gate.  
Only when she turned toward the house did she see the man sitting on the top step in the shadows, his shoulder against the railing, one knee pulled up with his arm resting on top of it. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and it looked as if his feet were bare, too. 
Was he there a moment ago? Why didn’t I see him? 
Smoothing her palms down her red pencil skirt, she started toward the house and the man on the steps. If he wasn’t Dr. Arnold, maybe he could give her directions. 
Taking a deep breath, Jess reminded herself that she wasn’t superstitious about this Friday the thirteenth nonsense. People liked to scare themselves with the silliest things. What was supposed to happen on this day? It was a day like any other.  
That certainly looked like a real man on the steps. He wasn’t going to bite her. Today being a Friday and the thirteenth meant nothing, but now that she’d thought of it, the idea would stick with her like the taste of garlic. 
Leaving the car door open for a quick escape should she need it, she’d gone no more than a few steps when she heard something other than the crunch of her shoes on the gravel. It sounded suspiciously like a dog whining.  
She slowly turned her head, curling her fingers into the fabric of her skirt. It couldn’t be a dog. She hadn’t seen any dogs when she drove through the gate. 
I don’t do dogs!  
Her breath hitched in her throat when she saw them. They were right next to her car, beside the door she’d deliberately left open, a whole pack of them. Their lips curled away from their teeth, their tongues lolling out the sides of their mouths, dripping saliva onto the gravel. Yellowish eyes watched every move she made.  
Where did they come from?   
How many were there?   
They cut her off from the safety of the Fiesta!  
Now she had only one way to go—into that house. Why hadn’t that man called them off? Why wasn’t he helping her? 
Slowly, making no sudden moves, she took another step toward the porch. The dogs followed her. Her heart hammered against her ribs. Another couple of quick steps toward the house. The dogs did the same. She broke into a trot, her scream shattered the still of the afternoon.  
Missing the first step, she stumbled, recovered her balance, and took the rest of the stairs two at a time. The dogs were on her heels, whining and yelping, their breaths hot on the backs of her legs. 
Just as a sharp whistle rent the air, but looking at the dogs, she careened into the man before the noise had even died down. Her momentum sent them both crashing to the floorboard. She landed on top of him, but with the dogs all around them, she hid her face in his neck. Another whistle— right in her ear—made her cringe, but the dogs were gone.  
He lifted his head off the floorboards to glare at her, his hands at her waist, as if he was about to lift her off him. Stubble covered his jaw, his lips pressed into a tight line. A muscle jumped in his cheek. He dragged his eyes out of her gaping blouse to meet her stare. 
They had to be the greenest pair of eyes she’d ever seen, and he was clearly not amused.  
Then she noticed how much leg was exposed by her skirt bunched around her hips and she quickly scrambled to her feet, pushing her skirt back down her legs.  
“Sorry,” she muttered, her face on fire. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him, but from the corner of her eye, she saw the stranger slowly unfold himself from the floor. Up and up he went, until she felt him looking down at her. Even in her heels, the top of her head barely reached his nose.  
With fists on his hips, he glared at her. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she lifted her chin and stared back.  
Despite her bravado, she was intimidated and she had no idea if she had reason to be. She didn’t have a clue who he was. For all she knew, he was a vagrant taking advantage of an abandoned house.  
She quickly looked him up and down, hoping he wouldn’t notice. A vagrant—looking like that? This man looked too strong, too well-fed, and clean, to be homeless. He smelled good too, of soap and sunshine. Wide shoulders tapered to a flat stomach and slim hips in a pair of well-washed denim cutoffs. The button was undone and the zipped half down. And he had a hard-on! 
Jess swallowed with difficulty, forcing her eyes to the garden. Maybe he was the gardener or something. 
If he was the gardener, he wasn’t very good at it, judging by the state of the place. The flowerbeds were overgrown with weeds, and grass seeds reached for the sky. With a bit of care, it could be a rather pleasant garden.  
Her attention whipped back to the man when he spoke. “What’s wrong with you, woman? Those are lap dogs.” His voice was deep, the timbre vibrating on her skin. “They thought you were playing with them.”  
She’d forgotten about the dogs. Erections did that to her, they made her forget everything else. She took another look at the animals. There were only four of them, and now that they were at a safe distance and there was a man on hand whom they seemed to obey, they didn’t look all that fierce, or even very big. By panicking, she’d unnecessarily gotten them both in a rather embarrassing situation. 
The veranda was shadowed, despite the lightning dancing over the mountains, yet the peeling paint was clearly visible. She should ask this man for directions so that she could be on her way, but at that moment her nose itched and she sneezed instead. She just barely managed to get her hand across her nose. The dust from the floorboards, and she most likely had it all over her face now. She needed to freshen up before she met with Dr. Arnold. Rubbing her hands over her face was probably making matters worse.  
“Bless you,” the man said, his jaw clenched. “Explain yourself.” Fists planted on his hips, his bare chest rose and fell. Jess’ fingers itched to test the contours more fully before she realized that the man was actually angry. 
Who was he? And what was he so angry about? Knocking him over had been an accident, which he could have avoided it if he’d controlled the animals sooner. His annoyance didn’t stop him from giving her a thorough inspection, though.  
Barely suppressing the urge to stamp her foot, Jess snapped, “Those animals should be locked up.” The hand she pointed at the dogs was streaked with dust. Dropping it, she rubbed at the smudge with her other hand.  
“They were, until a few minutes ago. When the visitor I expected didn’t show up, I let them out again. Who are you and what do you want?”  
“How rude!” Jess gasped. “Do you welcome all visitors half naked?” His arousal was disturbing her.  
“Uninvited visitors never come into the yard,” he growled. He knew she knew about his condition. “That’s what the clinic entrance is for. And I’m not half naked, I’m shirtless because I took it off when my visitor failed to show up for her four o’clock appointment. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot. If you’re Jessica James, you’re way too late—”  
“The directions weren’t very clear,” she interrupted. “I got lost.” Hesitating only a moment, she stuck her hand out to him. “You’re Dr. Arnold?”  
He ignored her hand and question, reaching instead for the shirt draped over the railing behind him and shrugged it on. Doctor or not, the man has no manners. 
Buttoning the shirt, he leaned in closer. “So, it’s my fault you can’t follow a set of simple instructions? Look, miss, you might as well go back to wherever you came from. The position has been filled. Good day.” He started to turn away.  
“What? When? I had an interview for this afternoon!” 
He glanced at his wristwatch. “You missed the appointment. You wouldn’t have gotten the job anyway. Sorry for the inconvenience. It was nice meeting you. Goodbye, Ms. James.” 
She noticed his eyes on her lips as he dismissed her. “Just a minute. You’re going to disregard my application because I’m a few minutes late? I have excellent credentials, and the agency—”  
“Had been told that only older women need to apply.”  
“So you’re dismissing my application because of my age, is that it?”  
“Yes. And you’re more than a few minutes late. The appointment was for four o’clock sharp, and it’s nearly six now. Take your gripes up with your agent, Ms. James. Your timekeeping actually has very little to do with it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, you’re wasting my time.”  
Jess narrowed her eyes. “I pity the person you’ve employed, if that is in fact the truth. You are a very rude man,
Dr. Arnold.”  
He wasn’t exactly what she’d expected—in his early to mid-thirties and attractive, in a wildly blond caveman kind of way. And hot.  
If only he had some manners.  
It had sounded quite romantic when Sally first told her about this position, but the reality was far from romantic. She didn’t need this man or his job, and especially not his erection. There had to be other positions available in Cape Town. Sally would find her a good job, with interesting work. She would get into her car and drive away without a backward glance.  
Not being given a fair interview had nothing to do with Friday the thirteenth. A damp gust of wind blew her hair into her eyes as she turned toward the stairs. It had everything to do with him being turned on by her. 
Jess remembered the dogs when they jumped to their feet, tails wagging.  
She froze, clutching her skirt. They might be small, but they were dogs. They had teeth. Damn it, she was going to need his help to get back to her car. Gnawing the corner of her mouth, she glanced at him. Would he help her, or would he cross his arms and enjoy the spectacle from the veranda? 
Before she could do anything, the door behind them creaked open and pale, gnarled fingers curled around the edge of the wood. Jess took an involuntary step closer to the doctor, goosebumps covering her entire body, her hand to her throat.   
Oh, God. 
  
   




About the Author

Maggie lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with hubby Gareth. Over the years she’s worked in everything from nursing to catering, and then she started writing love stories. With three kids, a girl and two boys, and eleven cats at that time, life could become quite interesting.
The paranormal, things that happen for which there are no logical explanations and ghosts, are of particular interest to Maggie. What events in a person’s life would prevent that person from ‘resting’ after death? The ‘Old Religion’ is another special interest.
And love, of course. Why do people fall in love? What keeps them together for a lifetime when so many relationships fail?