Posts Tagged ‘Montana sapphires’

FIRST KISS=TUESDAY – (FREE) – MONTANA MAVERICK by Debra Salonen

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

FREE for a short time.
MAVERICK review FREE

 Montana Maverick

Sparks have always smoldered between Meg Zabrinski and Henry Firestone, but falling in love with Hank and his ready-made family would mean giving up her dream. Something lone wolf Meg isn’t ready to do until…well, you know. Sometimes one kiss can change everything.

Excerpt © Tule Publishing

She shoved the phone in her pocket and took a deep breath of air. “Smells like snow.”

Her exhale created a puffy white cloud that looped around her head like a halo. “Ken ordered me not to go looking for you last night,” she told him.

“That bastard.” Hank drove his fist into the palm of his other hand. The cracking sound made Rook spin about and race up the steps. He planted himself at Hank’s feet, eyeing Meg suspiciously. “How’d he justify that?”

“Said he didn’t want to have to recover my body, too.”

Rook’s growl matched Hank’s.

Hank leaned down and stroked the dog’s wide flat head. The snow and ice felt like shards of glass against his palm. Slowly, his tension eased. “Thank God you didn’t listen to him.”

She made a sound of pure disgust. “I stopped listening to Ken Morrison a long time ago.”

He could tell there was more to the story. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a memory raised its hand, but he ignored it. Anybody who traveled the backcountry probably had a run-in with SAR’s resident megalomaniac.

“How soon is the next wave supposed to hit?”

She shrugged then stepped closer and put out her hand for Rook to sniff. “A couple of hours. Why?”

“I left a bunch of stuff in Betsy. Dog food, for one. Tools. My log.”

She nodded. “You should take a video of the crash site. Maybe you’ll be able to see what brought her down.”

They were close enough to touch each other, and it took every ounce of willpower Hank had not to pull her into his arms and kiss her. “Wow,” he said, curling his icy fingers tight. “People have always called you brilliant. Now, I see why.”

Her sardonic grin made his heart rate speed up. Had she always been this beautiful? Yes. But business dress and heels were fake beauty. No makeup, messy hair dancing in the cold breeze, a blush of chafed skin from last night’s rescue made her the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

Their gazes met and held for one heartbeat…or ten. Something passed between them. A sigh. A hint of possibility. An open-ended question.

Meg was the first to look away. “Just being practical,” she said, taking a step back.

Her voice sounded different, throaty. She reached for the handle of the storm door. “I know Ken Morrison. He’ll try to turn this recovery into a photo op and pin the blame on you. I have a video camera you can use. I’ll make sure the battery is charged while you get ready.”

Video. The GoPro. “We need to finish opening gifts, first. The one I got JJ might be just the ticket.”

He followed her inside. “Are you sure you’re okay with all this? I mean, damn. I drop out of the sky into your nice peaceful life, and suddenly you’re stuck babysitting? That seems messed up.”

She hung her heavy jacket on a hook then spun around to open the cupboard above the washer and dryer. “Yeah, well, normally, I’d volunteer to hike back with you, but hauling all four kids up the mountain sounds like a really bad idea. So, you take this–” She pulled a small black camera-type case from a shelf and turned to face him. “And I’ll bake cookies with Annie and Bravo.”

She reached out and touched his upper arm. “Henry, nobody planned this. We have to roll with the situation. You should hurry.”

She turned to go but he stopped her. He couldn’t help himself. His life was upside down and in the toilet with vultures circling, but Meg made him feel as if everything was manageable. He pulled her into a hug.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.

She stiffened at first, but gradually hugged him back. “You’re welcome.”

He had no idea how long they stood there. Meg in her pink and gray camoflage-print pajamas, him in sweats and a pair of men’s slippers he’d found in the guest room closet. They were virtual strangers, yet they fit together like they’d done this a million times over the years.

When she lifted her chin to look at him, he kissed her. He couldn’t not.

Her lips were sweet…and minty. The flavor surprised him at first but captivated him, too. He wanted more of this spicy wonderment. As sweet as it was, he wanted to find the flavor of Meg.

When he closed his eyes to take the kiss deeper, Meg stiffened a tiny bit. A badly needed reality check.

He let her go. “Peppermint.”

She nodded. “Annie shared her candy cane with me.”

“Annie’s the most generous soul I’ve ever known, next to her mother.” He stepped back. “I should go.”

“Yes. Quickly. You don’t want to get caught in another storm.”

“I’ll take JJ.”

“Good idea. His feet look about my size. He can use my snowshoes.”

She reached for the doorknob but paused. “What was that kiss for?”

“You…impress me. Most people would be overwhelmed by this situation. Four kids. A virtual stranger. You take charge and get things done. I respect the hell out of that.”

“Oh. Okay.” She slowly turned the knob. “But, for the record, you’re not a stranger. I feel like we have twenty years of history between us. Not easy history, but I always felt like we held each other in mutual respect. Didn’t you?”

“Yes. Definitely. And if I’d known you tasted like candy canes, I wouldn’t have waited twenty years to kiss you.”

 ~~~

FREE FOR A SHORT TIME ONLY! 

Your kind shares are most appreciated. Especially if you’re a reader–or know a reader–who enjoys older heroes and heroines. 

Amazon

iTunes

KOBO

BN NOOK

Google Play

Smashwords

BOOKS2READ

And, did you know you can read more about Henry and Meg’s journey in MONTANA MIRACLE? It’s true. Don’ t you love connected series?)

Happy reading,

Deb

 

FIRST KISS=TUESDAY – (FREE) – MONTANA MAVERICK by Debra Salonen

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

FREE for a short time.
MAVERICK review FREE

 Montana Maverick

Sparks have always smoldered between Meg Zabrinski and Henry Firestone, but falling in love with Hank and his ready-made family would mean giving up her dream. Something lone wolf Meg isn’t ready to do until…well, you know. Sometimes one kiss can change everything.

Excerpt © Tule Publishing

She shoved the phone in her pocket and took a deep breath of air. “Smells like snow.”

Her exhale created a puffy white cloud that looped around her head like a halo. “Ken ordered me not to go looking for you last night,” she told him.

“That bastard.” Hank drove his fist into the palm of his other hand. The cracking sound made Rook spin about and race up the steps. He planted himself at Hank’s feet, eyeing Meg suspiciously. “How’d he justify that?”

“Said he didn’t want to have to recover my body, too.”

Rook’s growl matched Hank’s.

Hank leaned down and stroked the dog’s wide flat head. The snow and ice felt like shards of glass against his palm. Slowly, his tension eased. “Thank God you didn’t listen to him.”

She made a sound of pure disgust. “I stopped listening to Ken Morrison a long time ago.”

He could tell there was more to the story. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a memory raised its hand, but he ignored it. Anybody who traveled the backcountry probably had a run-in with SAR’s resident megalomaniac.

“How soon is the next wave supposed to hit?”

She shrugged then stepped closer and put out her hand for Rook to sniff. “A couple of hours. Why?”

“I left a bunch of stuff in Betsy. Dog food, for one. Tools. My log.”

She nodded. “You should take a video of the crash site. Maybe you’ll be able to see what brought her down.”

They were close enough to touch each other, and it took every ounce of willpower Hank had not to pull her into his arms and kiss her. “Wow,” he said, curling his icy fingers tight. “People have always called you brilliant. Now, I see why.”

Her sardonic grin made his heart rate speed up. Had she always been this beautiful? Yes. But business dress and heels were fake beauty. No makeup, messy hair dancing in the cold breeze, a blush of chafed skin from last night’s rescue made her the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

Their gazes met and held for one heartbeat…or ten. Something passed between them. A sigh. A hint of possibility. An open-ended question.

Meg was the first to look away. “Just being practical,” she said, taking a step back.

Her voice sounded different, throaty. She reached for the handle of the storm door. “I know Ken Morrison. He’ll try to turn this recovery into a photo op and pin the blame on you. I have a video camera you can use. I’ll make sure the battery is charged while you get ready.”

Video. The GoPro. “We need to finish opening gifts, first. The one I got JJ might be just the ticket.”

He followed her inside. “Are you sure you’re okay with all this? I mean, damn. I drop out of the sky into your nice peaceful life, and suddenly you’re stuck babysitting? That seems messed up.”

She hung her heavy jacket on a hook then spun around to open the cupboard above the washer and dryer. “Yeah, well, normally, I’d volunteer to hike back with you, but hauling all four kids up the mountain sounds like a really bad idea. So, you take this–” She pulled a small black camera-type case from a shelf and turned to face him. “And I’ll bake cookies with Annie and Bravo.”

She reached out and touched his upper arm. “Henry, nobody planned this. We have to roll with the situation. You should hurry.”

She turned to go but he stopped her. He couldn’t help himself. His life was upside down and in the toilet with vultures circling, but Meg made him feel as if everything was manageable. He pulled her into a hug.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.

She stiffened at first, but gradually hugged him back. “You’re welcome.”

He had no idea how long they stood there. Meg in her pink and gray camoflage-print pajamas, him in sweats and a pair of men’s slippers he’d found in the guest room closet. They were virtual strangers, yet they fit together like they’d done this a million times over the years.

When she lifted her chin to look at him, he kissed her. He couldn’t not.

Her lips were sweet…and minty. The flavor surprised him at first but captivated him, too. He wanted more of this spicy wonderment. As sweet as it was, he wanted to find the flavor of Meg.

When he closed his eyes to take the kiss deeper, Meg stiffened a tiny bit. A badly needed reality check.

He let her go. “Peppermint.”

She nodded. “Annie shared her candy cane with me.”

“Annie’s the most generous soul I’ve ever known, next to her mother.” He stepped back. “I should go.”

“Yes. Quickly. You don’t want to get caught in another storm.”

“I’ll take JJ.”

“Good idea. His feet look about my size. He can use my snowshoes.”

She reached for the doorknob but paused. “What was that kiss for?”

“You…impress me. Most people would be overwhelmed by this situation. Four kids. A virtual stranger. You take charge and get things done. I respect the hell out of that.”

“Oh. Okay.” She slowly turned the knob. “But, for the record, you’re not a stranger. I feel like we have twenty years of history between us. Not easy history, but I always felt like we held each other in mutual respect. Didn’t you?”

“Yes. Definitely. And if I’d known you tasted like candy canes, I wouldn’t have waited twenty years to kiss you.”

 ~~~

FREE FOR A SHORT TIME ONLY! 

Your kind shares are most appreciated. Especially if you’re a reader–or know a reader–who enjoys older heroes and heroines. 

Amazon

iTunes

KOBO

BN NOOK

Google Play

Smashwords

BOOKS2READ

And, did you know you can read more about Henry and Meg’s journey in MONTANA MIRACLE? It’s true. Don’ t you love connected series?)

Happy reading,

Deb

 

FIRST KISS=TUESDAY (from MONTANA COWGIRL by Debra Salonen)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

kissing image

It’s me, again.

We had a little hiccup this week with scheduling, so I’m going to share a first kiss from my FIRST book in the Big Sky Mavericks series, which is now available on all platforms. I’m so excited to be able to share this big, heartfelt story with more readers. If you know anyone who favors Nook, Kobo, Google Play or iBooks, please forward this link. I’d appreciate it so much.

Everybody deserves a second chance, don’t they?

MontanaCowgirl-LARGEjpg

 

MONTANA COWGIRL

 

Paul watched four hours slip by as if it were minutes. A part of him couldn’t believe Bailey Jenkins–his Bailey Jenkins–was playing Marco Polo in his pool with his children.

At first glance, she looked the same as she had at eighteen, but that wasn’t quite true. Her body had matured. Her breasts filled out the demure, navy blue and white stripe two-piece–even if she could use a couple of pounds.

What changed the most about her wasn’t physical. This Bailey enjoyed playing with his kids. The old Bailey never had time for children. The teenage Bailey wouldn’t have asked Chloe and Mark clever, revealing questions…then listened, truly listened, when they answered.

Later, when they gathered around the stone fire pit for dessert, Mark asked the question he and Chloe had probably discussed at length. “What happened to your foot?”

The children had been skeptical when Bailey produced marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars for dessert. It wasn’t that they’d never eaten s’mores, they simply couldn’t conceive of roasting marshmallow over glowing embers of broken glass.

“Car wreck. My foot got pinned under the front end of our truck. I was lucky.”

“What do you mean?”

“They had to use those big hydraulic Jaws of Life to get me out. I only had a concussion and a broken ankle.”

Only. Paul had work to keep from cringing.

“Were you driving?”

“No. I was in the passenger side.”

The tremor in her voice told him the memory still brought her pain. So, Paul cut off Mark before his morbid curiosity–typical of eight-year-old boys–asked for details about blood and missing body parts. “Where are the rest of the candy bars?”

“Mark,” Chloe cried. “You didn’t? Oh, my gosh, you are such a pig.”

His son’s lips were ringed by a suspicious brown outline, but Markie fervently denied the charge until Bailey hauled him onto her lap and ticked him until he confessed.

“Okay. Okay. I did it. I ate the last of the chocolate. So sue me.”

Bailey put him down. “Not necessary. A perfectly roasted marshy doesn’t need chocolate.”

She pushed a white square onto her skewer and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. Her loose off-white cover-up slipped from one shoulder.

Paul had forgotten how lovely her natural skin tone was. How smooth and silky her skin felt when they were laying in the sun trying to get a deep brown tan. Fools.

A minute later, she lifted the golden treat to her lips and blew.

His groin reacted.

“Nothing beats a sticky, gooey marshmallow straight off the fire.” She pinched a hunk and pulled the bite upward, strings of glistening white sugar trailing behind. With a flourish, she spun the filaments onto the bite and lowered into her open mouth.

Chloe clapped and grabbed another marshmallow to try for herself.

Mark squinted at Paul. “What’s wrong, Dad? You look like you swallowed a marshmallow whole.”

Outed by an eight-year old. Damn.

Paul jumped to his feet, gathering the empty wrappers and used napkins. He carried the mess to a nearby trashcan then said, “Bath time, kiddos. Your mother gave me hel–heck last week for not making you wash your hair after swimming. She says it’s going to turn green.”

He made a mad scientist gesture that brought a grin to Bailey’s lips. Her sticky sweet lips. “Scoot, you two. I left bottles of anti-chlorine shampoo in each of your showers.”

Mark and Chloe took off with a minimal amount of grumbling. He could see they were worn out. The best part of owning a pool, in his opinion.

Bailey waited until both kids were gone before getting to her feet. She didn’t want to intrude on their nightly family rituals. She picked up the children’s half-empty water glasses and followed Paul into the kitchen, which had all the bells and whistles any TV chef might expect: granite countertops, polished chrome appliances, hardwood flooring and dark golden oak cabinets. The recessed lights in the ceiling turned the butter yellow walls a warm, inviting color.

“Your home is beautiful, Paul. Could be right off the pages of a decorating magazine, and yet it seems perfectly functional at the same time.” She pulled out one of the chrome stools tucked under the island and sat.

He wiped a spill on the gorgeous marble countertop before her elbow connected with it then tossed the rag into a big white apron-front sink.

Was it possible to have sink envy, she wondered?

She’d wasted so much time designing a dream kitchen to fit in Ross’s dream log cabin. A kitchen not unlike this one, with windows behind the sink overlooking the backyard.

“Jen spent more money on this room than the rest of the remodeling combined. I told her we wouldn’t be able to afford food to cook by the time she was done.” He carried the bag of leftover marshmallows to a walk-in pantry about the size of her mother’s guest room.

He returned a moment later, a liter-size green bottle of imported water in hand. She recognized the label but rarely splurged on the pricy brand.

“Although compared to the cost of our divorce, the kitchen was a real bargain,” Paul told, grabbing a couple of glasses from a cabinet with beveled glass panels.

His cynicism made her uncomfortable. Was she ready to talk exes?

Not really.

He unscrewed the cap with a powerful twist and poured two glasses of the fizzy water. “My new go-to drink, instead of beer. Chloe’s class stared a recycling campaign. When I loaded all the bags in the truck, it looked like a flaming alcoholic lived here.” He held out his glass. “Cheers.”

She touched the lip of her glass to his and looked into his eyes. Friendly, yes. Interested, too. The kind of interest a part of her desperately wanted to explore. Too bad the thinking part of her brain knew better than to start something she couldn’t finish. She hadn’t talked to OC yet. Could she trust him or not? Was she staying or going?

She took a sip of bubbly water then slipped off the stool. “Excuse me a minute. I’m going to try Mom’s phone again.”

Coward. She walked to the dining table where she’d left her purse hanging over the back of her chair.

She carried her phone outdoors and took a seat by the fire pit. The flame had been shut off but the night was warm enough without a fire.

She could understand the attraction of these one-click-to-start units, but they didn’t compare to the romance of a wood campfire like the one she and Paul made love beside that last summer. They’d lied to their parents and spent an entire weekend hiking, fishing and camping alone. They’d shared a single sleeping bag. She’d never experienced sex as pure and delicious–lust combined with the stamina and abandon of youth.

Her breasts tightened and her nipples puckered inside the cups of her mostly dry swimsuit. The still damp crotch of her bottoms felt unnaturally warm and moist.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had sex–aside from the occasional self-pleasure that usually left her a sobbing wreck.

“You need to get laid,” Maureen told Bailey at their last physical therapy session. “Sex is a great healer. So is forgiveness. Once you dump that heavy burden you’re carrying around, you’ll be able to run and ride again.”

Run? Maybe. She’d been walking a lot the past few days and her ankle felt much stronger. But, ride? She couldn’t picture it. Her riding days were over.

Before she could call up her mother’s cell phone number, Bailey’s phone rang. Mom’s image appeared on the screen.

Bailey sat on the chaise and crossed her legs. “Hi. Are you home?”

An awkward pause–as if someone fumbled the phone–made her sit up. “Mom?”

“No. It’s me,” OC said. “She’s asleep. They gave her something.”

They? Bailey’s pulse jumped.

“Luly has a lump on her side. I made her call the doctor. He saw her right away and sent us to Bozeman.”

“T…to the hospital?”

“Yeah. Took six hours to get a room. Can you believe that? The surgeon’s going to do something in the morning.”

“What time?”

“Nine. But you know how that goes.”

“Wh…what do they think it is? Cancer?” Her voice cracked in a broken whisper.

“Not sure. One of the doctors thought it might be some kind of infection. Endimidercondriac or something.”

“Endometriosis?”

“That sounds like it. Could be leftover from her gallbladder surgery.”

“Her gallbladder? But that was last year.” Bailey’s last trip home before Ross and Daz died.

“I know. I don’t get it. But, she says it doesn’t hurt.”

Oh, mom. Do you ever complain? “Do you need me to come pick you up?”

“No. The nurse made a bed for me on the couch. I got my pills. I’ll be fine. But I know your mother wants to see you before she goes in.”

“Of course. I’ll be there first thing. Text me if you need anything from home.”

“I…” He paused. “I’m sorry about today. You were right to think the worst. They say you have to hit rock bottom before you can start to climb out of the pit. I’m climbing, Queen Bee. And this time I’m gonna make it. You’ll see.”

He ended the call before she could get her emotions under control to reply. Did she dare hope? He’d made promises before. Did OC’s problems even matter now? Her mother–the glue that had been holding them all together– was sick, dealing with a potentially serious disease.

Dad isn’t the only one who has to step up.

She got to her feet and walked inside. Her expression must have conveyed her distress. Before she could say a word, Paul cleared the distance between them. “What’s wrong? Your dad?”

“Mom. She’s in the hospital in Bozeman. They’ve scheduled her for surgery in the morning. Some kind of l…lump.” She shared what little OC told her. “If it’s cancer, they’ll discuss a protocol. If it’s not–please, God–they’ll remove it and release her.”

“How big a lump?”

“I…I don’t know. She never told me. All this time. I can’t believe it. I don’t know whether to cry or scream.”

He took her in arms. “Whichever makes you feel better.”

She closed her eyes and for a moment she felt…home. Was this what it was like to know somebody had your back?

I could have had this. But she chose to leave. And she knew why. Because, bottom line, she was Bailey Jenkins, and Paul Zabrinski always deserved better.

That hadn’t changed.

She started to pull away, but Paul tightened his hold. “Don’t run away, cowgirl. Not tonight.”

“I have to leave early in the morning.”

“I know. I wish I could drive you, but…”

“You have the kids. And a business to run. A life. I appreciate all the help you’ve given me, Paul, but I’ve got this. Really, I do.”

He stared into her eyes a good minute then released his hold. “Okay. But call if you need me.”

“I will. Thank you.”

Then she leaned in to kiss his cheek. His cheek.

How her lips landed on his lips she couldn’t say for sure. And they didn’t mess around with a grateful peck. Her lips remembered…as if she and Paul had never been apart.

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And don’t forget, you can read Louise and OC’s love story for free…

BOGO-Big-Sky-Mavericks-300x251

Happy reading, my friends. 

 

Deb