FIRST KISS=TUESDAY: Caleb’s Christmas Wish by Debra Salonen #WestCoastHEA

CALEB’S CHRISTMAS WISH – West Coast Happily-Ever-After,  Book III

How far would you go for the sake of a child?

Black Friday. Black ice. Lives changed in a blink.

The lines in Miami financier Jake Westin’s world are crisp and easy to delineate: black and red, profit and loss. On paper. Until the day after Thanksgiving when Allison Jeffries—a woman he’s heard about for four and a half years but never met—calls to tell him the world they’ve shared from opposite sides of the country will never be the same. Pam and Kenny Rydell—Jake’s best friend and only link to the “bad ol’ days” of his youth—died in a car accident on the way to a Sierra ski resort, leaving their son, Caleb, with his grandmother, who upon hearing the news of her only daughter’s death went into cardiac arrest. In an instant, Caleb’s godparents—two grieving strangers who never imagined the worst-case scenario becoming a reality—must decide how to best care for the little boy they both love.

Jake is determined to do the right thing for Caleb—even if that means facing demons from his own loss-filled childhood and dealing with the woman Kenny called “a sweetheart but wound too tight for her own good.” Allison suffers no illusion that she’d make a good mother. After all, hasn’t she let her computer business fill the gap left by a failed marriage and aborted pregnancy? But she’ll do anything in her power to give her godson the life Pam intended for her son—even if that means sharing a house with the charismatic stranger Pam teasingly called “Jake the Rake–a broken heart waiting to happen.”


FIRST KISS Excerpt © Debra Salonen:


“I’m home. And I have pizza.”

Allison’s cheerful greeting made Jake want to crawl under the table. She’d been working in Fresno all day while he and Caleb had delivered canned goods, done a little Christmas shopping and taken a nap. Now, instead of giving his partner some much-needed down time, he was leaving her alone to care for a rowdy little rascal who refused to bathe.

“Ummm, pizza,” Caleb cheered, racing past Jake to meet her at the back door. “I want pizza. I want pizza.”

Jake hurried after him. Even though he felt guilty about leaving, Jake rationalized that this outing wasn’t entirely his fault. He’d been coerced by Richard, who wanted to introduce Jake to the volunteer firemen. The group planned to honor Kenny at a memorial next month and needed Jake’s input.

“Let me help,” Jake said, hurrying to relieve Allison of a plastic bag obviously filled with a six-pack of cans.

“Thanks,” she said. “The handle was cutting off circulation to my fingers.” She shook her hand then walked to the kitchen counter where she placed a large cardboard box and a paper sack.

“So how did we do today?” she asked, stealing a piece of pepperoni off the pie. “Cans galore?”

“We topped last year’s total by how much, Caleb?”

“Six million,” the little boy said, taking the paper plates and napkins out of the sack.

“Six hundred,” Jake corrected, trying not to laugh.

“Wow,” Allison exclaimed. She hung up her coat and washed her hands. “That’s impressive. How ’bout money-wise?”

“Eight trillion dollars,” Caleb said his eyes aglitter.

Jake loved to see his godson joke. This was the child he remembered from summer. Jake extended his arms in an impression of Frankenstein and ambled toward the little boy. “How much?” he roared.

“Eight thousand,” Caleb squealed, dodging left when Jake lurched right. Napkins flew into the air. Allison tried to catch them and wound up tripping over Jake’s foot. His only recourse to prevent her from falling was to snatch her into his outstretched arms, which curled backwards without conscious thought.

“Oh,” Allison said, with a small exhale. Her face was close to Jake’s. Her breath carried the tangy scent of pepperoni.

“Eiou,” Caleb cried, ducking behind the paper plates he still held. “Kissing. Just like Mommy and Daddy.”

Allison righted herself almost immediately and stepped back. “Sorry.”

“No apology needed. It was my fault.”

Caleb yanked on Jake’s pocket. “You didn’t kiss her.”

“Well, no…I…um.” Jake felt his face heat up. He was rarely speechless, but this was definitely one of those times.

“Shall we eat?” Allison asked, her voice wobbly. “I’m starved.”

Caleb tugged again and motioned Jake to bend down for a private chat. In a loud whisper, the child said, “You have to kiss her. Girls like kisses. We can’t lose another mom, Jake.”

Jake’s breath left him. He put his hand to his face and squeezed the bridge of his nose to keep his tears at bay.

Suddenly, he sensed Allison’s presence. She picked up Caleb and put her free arm around Jake’s back to pull him into a hug. “Everybody likes kisses,” she said softly. She pressed her lips to his cheek, and then did the same to Caleb.

The child hugged her fiercely then wiggled free. “Can I have chocolate milk with my pizza?”

Allison smiled. “Sure. There’s a carton in the door of the fridge.”

Her arm was still touching him. Her warmth enveloped him. Her scent made his mouth water. Girls weren’t the only ones who liked kisses. He lowered his head and touched his lips to hers. She gave a startled peep but didn’t move away. He kissed her again, his tongue teasing her lips that parted hesitantly.

The whooshing sound of the refrigerator door closing made her jump back. Her expression was unreadable, but her blush told him she was embarrassed and regretted the kiss. Jake wished he did, but in all honesty, he wanted more.


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FIRST KISS TUESDAY: Black Hills Native Son by Debra Salonen

 BLACK HILLS NATIVE SON, Black Hills Rendezvous, Book 5


His journey of discovery brings more than he ever hoped—a son, and the woman he was meant to love.

Eli Robideaux’s vision quest takes him down a road he never wanted to walk—to the past. His mistakes—even the ones he made for the right reasons—have come back to haunt him. He doesn’t understand why, but stumbling across Char Jones feels like grabbing on to a lifeline that might keep him from falling into the bone-deep despair that had been his father’s ruin.

No one is more surprised than Char when the unrequited love of her life walks into her Black Hills store, looking for the missing pieces of himself. She holds the key to one of those pieces—the son Eli never knew they had, the baby she put up for adoption. But is she brave enough to let go of her guilt and lead them on a journey that could hold love and hope…or almost certain heartbreak?


Eli has just learned that he had sex with underage Char the night before his wedding. He has no memory of the event because he’d been partying hard when he got in a fight with his cousin and may have suffered a concussion. Char took care of him at her aunt’s “kitchen” clinic. Since she’d been in love with Eli for as long as she could remember, she felt fate had given her a once-in-lifetime opportunity to live out her fantasy. As with many fantasies, there were repercussions—in Char’s case a pregnancy.


FIRST KISS Excerpt © Debra Salonen:


“Where’d we do it?”

She shook her head, as if she’d been expecting the question. “Pam saw patients in a small room off the kitchen. It was a screened porch when my grandparents lived there. She bought a used examination table from an old clinic. The back was raised about like this.” She held her hand horizontally between them then made the fingers tilt upward to a sixty-degree angle. “I thought it would better to keep your head elevated.”

He could have said something coarse but he managed to bite his tongue. “You were on top?”

“Yeah. It seemed safer—concussion wise.”

He turned to look at her, but it took too much effort to keep his gaze off her chest so he slumped down again and closed his eyes. “Do you really expect me to believe that a virgin would climb on top of an injured guy in her aunt’s make-shift E.R. where anybody could walk in?”

He heard her take in a deep breath, but he willed his eyes to remain closed. No leering.

“It didn’t take all that long, Eli. I put my hand down there and you were instantly hard. The smart thing would have been to give you a blow job, but I didn’t know how.”

His eyes popped open. “What do you mean you didn’t know how? That’s a no-brainer.”

The car made another unscheduled jog back and forth across the middle divider as she tossed up her hands on the steering wheel. “I’m sure I could have figured it out, but at the time, I didn’t want to look like a novice. Everyone said Bobbi was the best in school when it came to giving bj’s, and since you were marrying her the next day…”

He groaned, wishing he’d never asked. His soon-to-be ex-wife was a topic he had no intention of discussing. “So you got naked and hopped on top of me?”

“You wish,” she sputtered tapping the brakes to round a curve in the road. “Like you said, anybody could have walked in. As it happened, when Robert brought you in, it was past midnight. I’d already changed into my nightgown.”

Nightgown? A tingle of something he didn’t want to acknowledge shot down his spine. He gulped loudly. “Pink flannel?”

Her shoulders lifted and fell. “I don’t know. Maybe. Yeah, actually, I think it was. We had a warm spring, then, suddenly in early June, the weather turned cold. I remember someone saying if it snowed on her wedding, Bobbi was going to make the weatherman pay.”

He muttered a string of words he’d have busted his son’s chops for using. He’d had a dream for years that he secretly called his guilty pedophile dream. Only now he knew it wasn’t a dream, it was a memory.

Neither said anything for several miles. They were approaching the intersection of the main highway—he knew because he could see the cross-members of her white teepee—when he worked up the nerve to ask, “So, you had an abortion, huh?”


Her shriek made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. She stomped on the brakes so hard he had to brace his hands on the dash, despite the safety belt that cut into his chest. The rebound slammed him against the seat.

The car slid sideways to a stop in the gravel driveway they’d left an hour or so earlier. “Get out. You’re not the man I thought you were. Back then or now. Go. Take the money I gave you and leave. Now.”

She reached across him to open the passenger door. Her body touched him—that is, her wool jacket pressed against his grubby thermal sweatshirt, which covered a couple of other layers. There was nothing sexual in the touch. Nothing sexual between them. Only anger and hurt on her part, and confusion and desperation on his. No reason in the freaking world for him to kiss her.

But he did. Hard, fast, deep, hot. And what flared to life like a fire carefully banked in a stark, barren hearth made less sense than anything that had happened so far. But, Lord God, it felt good. It felt real. Like a lifeline that would keep him from falling into the bone deep despair that had been his father’s ruin.

The last thing in the world Char had expected was for Eli to kiss her. Not a mushy Thank-God-I-finally-found-you kiss. Things like that only happened in romance novels. No. His lips were icy-cold, despite the heat blasting from the defroster, which she’d forgotten to turn off. His breath was surprisingly pleasant—as if he’d just sucked on a candy cane, but his several-days-old stubble felt like tiny wires piercing her skin.

It should have been the kiss from hell.

Should have been.

Instead of freaking out—was the car completely off the road? She couldn’t say for certain—she actually leaned in and made a little sighing sound that she couldn’t believe came from her lips. She was embarrassed, but not enough to push him away.

Even the fury she’d initially felt when he suggested that she might have had an abortion disappeared like air escaping from a punctured balloon the moment he pulled her again him. She wasn’t herself. She was… Oh, God, I’ve turned into my mother.



Black Hills Native Son, Book 5 in the Black Hills Rendezvous series, is available as pre-order on all channels and will be live tomorrow (Wed, Sept. 14)

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 BLACK HILLS RANCHER, Black Hills Rendezvous, Book 8


The last thing Cade Garrity expected when he went to Sentinel Pass to meet Jessie Bouchard—a prospective, short-term tenant willing to trade a little childcare in return for a discounted rent—was to save her life. But the video her twin sister, Remy, shot doesn’t lie. And the fact that the nutcase who booby-trapped Jessie’s stunt is still on the loose makes it impossible for Cade to turn his back on her. But Cade married a woman who put satisfying her need for excitement ahead of her family–ahead of him–and it killed her. He’s not going down that road again no matter how much he desires Jessie Bouchard.

Despite what people think, Jessie does not have a death wish. She learned at a young age the only way to handle pain and fear was to face it head on. That’s what she does. And she’s convinced herself that living for the moment is enough–until she meets Cade and his daughter, Shiloh. There may be more to life than that next death-defying stunt, but does she deserve the kind of life Cade has to offer? She isn’t sure, and unless she finds the person who is trying to kill her, she won’t get a chance to answer that question.

FIRST KISS Excerpt © Loner Llama Press:


She stopped moving away from him. “I’m not easy.” She blanched and added quickly, “I don’t mean sexually. I mean, in general. But you have a daughter and I…I have my career.”

“So, we keep those things separate.”

He reached out to touch the side of her face. “Neither of those excuses is good enough to keep me from kissing you. Got any better ones?”

He looked into her eyes and waited, watching for his answer. Her lips parted…and smiled. “Not really.”

“Good.” Then he leaned over to press his lips to hers. Soft and warm. Nice. Very nice. But salty.

As if reading his mind, she pulled back and licked her lips. “You taste like sea water.”

Which, apparently, wasn’t a bad thing because she moved closer and kissed him again, lips parted this time, welcoming his tongue to explore and parry. The deeper he explored, the sweeter she tasted. Root beer and ice cream sweet. Jessie Bouchard sweet.

He broke it off because his body started telling him it was more than happy to take things to the next level. Whoa. Not so fast, he silently cautioned. One step at a time. He didn’t know for certain he could pull off a casual, summer fling, no strings attached. But he sure as heck wanted to consider the option.

“Nice,” he said taking a step back.

“It was.” She sounded surprised. “You’re a good kisser. And here you gave me the impression you were out of practice.”

He could tell she was teasing, but he definitely didn’t want to talk about his dating disasters of late. He hadn’t gone out with anyone since arriving in South Dakota. In part, because he’d come to the conclusion that single fathers of a certain age should never let their friends or family set them up on blind dates.

“I haven’t roped for ten years, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how.”


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 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.”



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Darcy Peel, haunted by the past and strange erotic dreams of a young woman and a Indian warrior, has left her academic career in California to come back home to Arizona to find out what happened to her sister who has disappeared in a canyon believed by many to be haunted. Her first day back, she meets Alan Brandt, a lethally attractive deputy. She knows she should avoid him and their obvious sexual energy and concentrate on her mission.

In this scene, and against her better judgment, she has gone with him to her girlhood home on the Little Springs River. She has followed her intuition that her sister left something in a hidden cave behind the huge “jump-off” rock, she and her siblings always used to jump into the river. This rock outcrop juts out from the cliff that defines the course of the river. She has found something in the cave and memories start to assail her as she is driven out of the cave by a supernatural energy. That energy, she realizes, is all tied up with the overly helpful deputy—who is so similar to the ghost warrior in her dream/visions.


Tumbling out of the cave, barely holding on to the pieces of paper, Darcy scrambled to her feet and stared at the desert broom whipping torturously back and forth. The gust of wind causing it pushed her back several steps, her feet again in the water. She turned toward the jump off, took a step and halted. Someone stood at the top of the rock. A girl?

Darcy walked toward the massive stone. Oh my god, this happened before. Just like this, when they all dashed out of the cave. The gusting wind swept them out as if they were dust, and then they had seen her—the girl, like a ghost standing on the rock in her long skirt and floppy hat. She thought of the other day on the river, and the voice saying “Emmaline.” Was this Emmaline?

The memory was so vivid, so real—was she there now? Darcy closed her eyes and rubbed her hands over her face. When she opened her eyes, the girl was gone. A blur of movement to the side then a large, male shape appeared.

Alan’s voice broke into her thoughts, scattering them to the four winds. “Darcy! Are you all right?”

He stood at the top of the rock. Darcy shaded her eyes against the glare of the sunlight beyond the overhang of the cliff. The play of light behind him cast a halo around his body. She blinked. Standing there like that, he looked naked. An image of bare glistening skin over toned, bulging muscles played tag with the real scene.

She made the connection once again between Alan and the dream warrior, or captor, or lover, whatever he was, in her dreams. Her body responded with a flush of heat from cheeks to toes.

“Are you okay?”

She couldn’t respond, staring at him as she was with her mouth open.

He moved to the edge of the rock. “I’m coming down.”

“No! I mean, no need to come down, I’m okay.”

Please just stay there. She wasn’t prepared to share the cave with him or have his energy, his beautiful sexy body, confuse or throw off what she was experiencing. She rubbed her arms, that tingling feeling of excitement like claws raking over her skin, a confusing sensual mixture of fear and arousal. This was maddening. Why did this keep happening with him—okay, which him? The ghost or the deputy?

“Get a hold of yourself, Darcy Peel,” she said half-aloud then stuffed the pages into a deep pocket on her cargo shorts and grabbed a glance at the little lagoon/swimming hole. Focus! Her gaze took in the main flow of water she could see from her vantage point. She listened for the sound of fast-moving water. All seemed okay—water as languid as before. She took a deep breath then looked up. “Where’s the sun?”

A pause before he repeated. “Where’s the sun?”

“Yes, can you see it? Is it in the right position?”

Another pause. “Yes, I see it. It’s right where it’s supposed to be.”

Darcy scowled at his placating-the-child tone of voice.

“Okay, I’m coming down,” Alan decided, forestalling any further objections. He used toeholds on the jump-off rock and the cliff face to ease down and then was beside her. “Are you sure you weren’t—watch out!”

He threw himself against her, crushing her into the brush and the cliff behind. In the next seconds, he moved so fast she saw only a blur in the shadowed light of their position. He grabbed and threw something colorful away, its sinuous movement like a pennant carried off by the wind.

Startled and confused, Darcy looked up at Alan’s flushed face. “What happened? Was that a coral snake?” She grabbed his hands and looked for punctures. “I need better light!”

“Oh, it wasn’t a coral snake.”

“How do you know? Did you see the bands of color around its body? ‘Red touches yellow, kills a fellow’ you know.


“It’s a rhyme to help identify the colors on venomous snakes. You must not be from around here.”

Alan chuckled. “Well, I didn’t stop to analyze the stripes.” He stilled her hands by folding them in his. “I’m okay. But you’re shaking.”

She pulled away. “Alan, are you crazy? You picked it up. You caught a rattlesnake in midair and threw it over the cliff!”

“Wait a minute. Rattlesnake? The cliff?”

Darcy glanced around. A memory had clicked in her mind—like a camera capturing a vivid image—where she saw a steep trail, a rattlesnake striking, then it being hurled over a rocky ledge.

Alan’s warm hand settled on her shoulder. “Darcy?” He turned her toward him and said something. A strange confusion made it hard to concentrate, but it sounded like he said, “zoning out again.” He slid his hands down her arms. “Rattlesnakes don’t have red next to yellow or whatever the rhyme says and we aren’t on a cliff. Though I feel like I’m falling off of one whenever you’re around. Now, what is going on with you?”

After a few seconds with no response, he placed a hand on the side of her face and stepped closer. “What is going on with us?”

The strange energy was back—a low-level charge of electricity that coursed through her flesh, heightening every touch. Her body hummed with the contact. And she could tell, by the way he was looking at her, that he vibrated on the same wavelength.

I shouldn’t have brought him here!

She took a step back. “Nothing, Alan. Nothing is going on with us. Like I’ve said before it’s just me. I’m going through…something.”

He closed the space she had just made. “Well, gorgeous, looks like I’m going through it with you. And I want to know what the heck ‘it’ is.” He ran the backs of his fingers up and down her arms. “Don’t you?”

Darcy started to say something in response but each stroke down her arm seemed to excite far more intimate flesh. “I—”

A stiff breeze swept through the tight area and abused that poor desert broom again, saving Darcy from trying to say something coherent. Alan turned and stared at the spot of the hidden ingress. “Whoa, did you see that? I think there’s an opening there. See? Air is coming from behind the brush.”

Darcy put her hand on his arm. “No. No, it just seems that way.”

“I think I see an opening. Is there a cave?”

“No! It’s just a small crevice in the cliff, as I recall,” She tightened her grip. The few fingernails she had left dug into his flesh.

He ignored the sharp pressure on his arm and took another step toward the swaying brush. “What is this place?” he asked. Then his voice lowered and tip-toed into the next question. “Have I been here before?”

“I’m sure you would have remembered. Now look, I’ve hurt my foot—” Huh? She looked down, wiggled it in the sand and flexed it. She’d been walking on it with no pain. Okay. Don’t think about that now. “Can we just go?”

He turned to her. “I knew it. You’re hurt.” He made a quick survey of the jump-off and the swimming hole—and her bare feet. “Seems I’ll have to carry you out of here.”

Darcy was glad she’d distracted him from her secret, but wasn’t so sure she’d helped that other predicament when he picked her up. She made an embarrassing squeaky noise and wrapped her arms around his neck. In three long strides, they were at the jump-off rock.

“Alan, I can walk. What are you doing?”

He took a deep breath, shifted her weight and looked at her, his mouth inches from hers. “Hell, I really don’t know. I don’t think I’ve known since I met you.” He slipped his arm from under her knees letting her feet touch the ground but he didn’t let her step away. “But I knew, right from the moment I met you, what I wanted to do.”

He wrapped one arm around her waist, bringing her body flush with his. She heard his sharp intake of breath, felt the sweet abrasion of his chest against her breasts. He exhaled in a rush and cradled her even closer. “Now, I’m shaking,” he whispered. “That static electricity is at it again.” His hand moved up her back pushed into her hair, forcing it out of the loosened hold of the hair band. His breath brushed the side of her face and his lips found the tender part of her neck just below the ear. “God, I want you.”

A change seemed to come over him, intent, urgent. The simmering heat in his words and the sweet pull of his mouth as he sucked the sensitive skin on her neck undid her. Her legs weakened as did her resolve. Her head fell to the side to give him more access but out of the corner of her eye, she caught a faint red glow at the cave’s entrance. She stiffened. “Alan, I—we need to go.”

He moved back but put his hands the on rock face behind her bracketing her between his arms. “Is that a full ‘Stop,’ or can I ‘Proceed with Caution’? Because I’ve been on this wild ride since I met you, and I really think this just has to happen.” Before she could protest, he leaned in and pressed his lips to hers.

Startled by the sudden movement and the heading-straight-to-coitus tone in his voice, she gripped his forearms, intending to push him back and stop this before it got out of control. But his soft, warm mouth pressing and molding with hers so sweet and undemanding surprised her. He truly was shaking, trying, she realized, to hold himself at bay. He shifted his weight and drew back. His gaze locked on hers as he took a deep, ragged breath. “Tell me to stop and I will.” He kissed her again, as if stopping was nowhere on the agenda, then broke away and again braced his arms on the rock wall behind her. He put his forehead against hers. “But tell me now.”

A tiny moan vibrated in her throat and she opened her mouth under his, forgetting where they were or the palpable energy emanating from the cave. He took the offering and stroked her tongue with his, giving her the feel and taste of him that she’d been craving all along.

She entwined her arms around his neck and he shifted in response. He pressed his knee between her legs and filled the space with his hard body, his erection positioned against her moistening mons. He deepened his kiss and swayed back and forth in a firm, erotic caress.

A whisper. “You’re here. You’re finally here.”

Darcy pulled back. She looked at Alan but he hadn’t said it and didn’t seem to hear it. Instead, he took the opportunity to put both hands behind her and press her closer.

“God, why do I feel like I’ve been with you before?” he asked. “My hands remember the feel of you—how you fit against me.” He kissed her again, bit, and suckled her fevered lips. “I know before I even take you how sweet it is to be inside you. How can I know this?”

She was aware of the heightening sexual excitement in him. It rippled through her, as well, when a whispered entreaty pressed against her ear. “Please stay with me.”

Darcy swayed in Alan’s arms. What? She looked at his face. She was sure he hadn’t spoken. Whose voice is that?

“I’m not going anywhere,” Alan said against her mouth before trailing kisses across her jaw. “There’s no way—” He kissed her mouth. “—I’d stop this, now.”

Darcy felt his teeth against the skin of her neck, and all she wanted was for him to take her. Now. Hard. She craved his powerful body moving, thrusting, working deep into her flesh. She pressed against him, reveling in the feel of him, letting the energy that sparked between their bodies dance along her skin wherever they touched.

In the back of her sluggish mind, she realized this response was so out of control for her. What was going on?

The voice again, a hoarse whisper, “I am but a ghost without you.”

Alan brought his hand up to her breast, closed over her, kneaded, and pressed. Darcy’s head fell back and she sighed in response to the exquisite pleasure.

“After waiting so long—without you—” he said.

Then she stiffened in his arms as the context of his words broke through, ‘not going anywhere,’ ‘after waiting so long,’ ‘without you.’ Had he heard the voice, too?

“Alan?” she said placing her hands between them to push against his chest.

Nuzzling her neck, then nipping at her ear lobe and moving, if anything, even closer, he murmured something she couldn’t make out.

Then the sound of splashing, the rattle of metal, and the whinny of a horse broke through the sexual energy of the moment with the sharp, cold edge of reality.

Buy links:  Amazon      Barnes & Noble     KOBO


It’s no mystery why Krista Lynn writes about the high desert of Arizona. She grew up on a gold mine about 60 miles north of Phoenix. The closest neighbor was 6 miles or so down the Agua Fria River, or another 20 miles by dirt road. The magic and spirit of a rugged, isolated landscape where mysteries are carried on the wind, and whispered in your sleep are the multi-colored threads woven into her series of romantic supernatural suspense set in the high desert of Arizona.

Before embarking on the writer’s path, Krista taught physical geography and GIS courses at CSUF and Fresno City College before taking an Academic Coordinator position at UC Davis Cooperative Extension where she built a GIS program to assist agricultural research. She lives in California with her husband and a menagerie of dogs, goats and one spoiled horse while continuing to write the Canyon Trilogy and an anthology of cozy mysteries.



Twitter: @Kristawriter


Please welcome another debut author from my RWA chapter, Yosemite Romance Writers. 😉 Kris is such a gifted writer and artist. She designed that gorgeous cover and has done a bunch of great work for other authors and our Fresno chapter. I can’t wait to have time to read this book.



A Hero to Hold


Disillusioned by the scandal that took her husband, Viscountess Charlotte Haliday will return to London and come face to face—and mouth to mouth—with a wounded war hero, the best man she has ever known.


First Kiss Snippet:

After all she’d borne at the hands of society, Charlotte had thought herself immune to insult, but for some reason this man’s failure to show her the most basic courtesy cut sharp. A lump lodged in her throat. Then his gaze went past her. She’d run out of time.

She turned to find the baroness. Everything about the woman glowed: her satiny dress, her golden hair, the breathtaking necklace of yellow diamonds at her throat, even her amber eyes. Charlotte and Lady Garret were of similar height, yet the woman’s aura left Charlotte feeling dwarfed. This was the witch who had destroyed her marriage, made her a pariah among her peers, fabricated a despicable persona that all of society now assumed was Charlotte herself. It had been almost two years, but it seemed like yesterday Lady Garret penned her novelette, published and distributed it amongst her acquaintances. Those pages had left Charlotte blackballed from society.

“Lady Haliday, what a pleasure.”

The malicious edge of humor in the baroness’s voice made her words a parody, and resentment speared Charlotte. “You’re a poor liar, Lady Garret, and you really needn’t expend the effort. I’m immune to your poison.”

The baroness noticed their silent companion, whose gaze was fixed upon her. “What, no introduction, my lady?”

The man did not react in any way. Well, Charlotte decided, at least he dealt out rudeness impartially.

The man shot her a look, brows lifting as if in question—as if he knew her and was silently communicating. Following blind instinct, Charlotte settled herself next to him on the empty half of the settee. She felt immediately and impossibly steadied.

Lady Garret’s mouth firmed, and her attention returned to Charlotte. “I’m surprised to see you here, my lady. Especially tucked away in a corner with a gentleman. It’s been a mere eighteen months since your husband passed. I’d go so far as to say this makes a mockery of his memory.”

Charlotte schooled her expression to one of polite interest. She would not show Lady Garret even an inkling of distress.

“I’d guess your actions will provide society with some entertainment,” the baroness continued. “A bit of a scandal is always appreciated. At least, it amuses me. It might even inspire me to pen another novel.”

A slow smile curled her enemy’s lips, and a quivering beset Charlotte deep inside. She kept her vision fixed on the baroness’s glittering eyes and wrapped her hand around the edge of the divan seat, anchoring herself. Over and over, for the past year she’d imagined this meeting. God willing, she would prevail.

She leaned back against the divan and forced her shoulders to relax. She had to appear confident, so she concentrated on keeping her voice composed. “I’m no longer that naive young woman you manipulated and tried to destroy. This time I won’t stand by while you spread lies about me. I’m not afraid of you, and I won’t crumble.”

The gentleman beside her turned his head, the chilly look gone from his eyes. Like heat from the sun, waves of quiet strength radiated from him and emboldened Charlotte. She marshaled her thoughts, leaned forward just enough to lend emphasis to her words, and continued with a harder voice. “You tell lies about me again, and I’ll make sure all of London is familiar with your machinations and your wicked soul. Until then, I’ll leave you be.”

Lady Garret’s eyes narrowed to mere slits. “How dare you threaten me?”

Charlotte did not look away. Didn’t this woman understand that she had already been consumed by the fire of scandal and risen from the ashes?

“You can say whatever you like about me,” she vowed. “You can tell all of London you saw me walk naked down the center of Regent Street. I don’t care. If it happens again, this time I won’t hide myself away—and I’ll make sure no one believes you.”

She felt the man sit straighter beside her, and a sudden desire to do something actually outrageous overcame Charlotte. To do something worthy of gossip, possibly even scandalous, and to do it without a care for the watchful eyes of Lady Garret. The thought left her giddy, and Charlotte closed her eyes to steady herself. Such an act would prove beyond all doubt that she had no fear of the baroness.

The gentleman beside her still radiated waves of quiet heat. His hand rested on the divan, and before she could consider the wisdom of her idea, Charlotte found herself caught up in it. She placed her hand atop his and laced their fingers. He tensed, and her heart began to race. What was she thinking? And yet, her daring thrilled her as nothing ever had, and when Charlotte looked at Lady Garret and saw the baroness struggling to hide her surprise, suddenly she was sure.

“At least this time,” she announced, “what you write will be based on truth instead of falsehood.”

In the grip of something foreign and reckless, Charlotte turned to the gentleman, gazed into his eyes and curled her hand around the back of his head. He resisted a bit as she drew him near, but she couldn’t afford to hesitate now. She didn’t relent.

A little shock ran through her as their lips touched. She felt his hesitancy and tightened her hold, some part of her still aware. Then his lips moved, and what had started out as the softest touch became firm.

A tremor took up residence in her marrow as she returned the pressure of his mouth. She’d kissed no man but Haliday, and she’d thought one kiss must be much the same as another, but this man’s kiss was…different. Even the smell of him—the starch of his shirt, the enticing aroma of citrus and cloves and maleness—was unique. For a long moment Charlotte was lost in his solid heat, in the slide of his gloved hand along her jaw. Then, in the periphery of her awareness, she heard the rustle of skirts. Lady Garret was leaving.

Too dazed to feel triumphant, Charlotte placed her hand on the strange man’s chest and gently pushed until their lips separated. She stared into bottomless blue eyes that brimmed with warmth, felt the tension in him, knew his breathing came as hard and fast as hers. Then his hand gripped her waist and pulled her back. His lips dragged over hers, nudged hers apart, and he captured her again in a warm, luscious kiss that burst upon her senses with a completeness that obliterated everything else.

She was lost. She’d been married four years, but never had desire swept over her like this. It confused her, frightened her even, but soon all thought fell away and Charlotte was left to revel in sensation. The man’s hands slid up her back and brought her breasts and hip hard against him. His chest was broader and firmer than her husband’s had been, and she nestled into his arms as if she’d been made to fit there. His tongue stroked hers, and her breath caught and heat ripped through her.

A confused, distressed little noise escaped her. The man abruptly pulled away.

Trembling, gasping, Charlotte looked into a shuttered face and humiliation crashed down. What had she done? What had she been thinking? She didn’t even know this man’s name. Fiery heat enveloped her, and her face burned. She thought she might expire of embarrassment. How could she have done such a thing?

“Oh!” She pressed her fingers to her lips, staring.

If Charlotte thought the man looked unhappy before, he now looked absolutely thunderous. Lips narrowed to a grim line, he held his shoulders rigid like a soldier standing at attention.

“Oh!” She jumped to her feet and saw his eyes flare. She had to leave, find someplace quiet and try to figure out what had happened tonight. She opened her mouth to ask the man’s name, to tell him hers and apologize, but the ridiculousness of the situation stopped her. The man had spoken no more than one sentence in her presence. Perhaps if they remained strangers she could pretend this event hadn’t occurred. She didn’t even know if he was married!

She backed toward the doorway.


The grim command in his voice made her pause. His hand reached out, but she whirled and broke from the alcove. She headed straight for the veranda door, wanting only to escape into the dark night until she could compose herself.

She attracted some attention from the way she hurried, weaving her way around the revelers, but finally she gained the solitude and deep shadows of the veranda. Her chest heaved as if she’d run a footrace. The cool night air soothed her heated cheeks, but inside emptiness twisted, left her aching.

He could have come after her, but he’d not.

Buy links:  Amazon      Barnes & Noble      iBooks     Smashwords


Sheri headshotAfter a satisfying career as an Emergency Room nurse, Sheri Humphreys closed the book on her diverse nursing experiences and followed a lifelong love for writing and historical romance to a new vocation as a writer. She lives with a Jack Russell mix rescue, Lucy, in a small town on the central California coast.

You can connect with Sheri here:



Twitter: @Sheri_Humphreys

I’m so excited to share this debut release from my old friend, Sheri. We were both in a writing group way…back…when. She went on to a flourishing career in nursing–still writing in her spare time, while I…well, you know my story. If you’re a fan of historical romance, you won’t want to miss this dynamic book. I LOVED the snippet, didn’t you? I do believe my heart is racing a bit. 😉



Deb_Laws of Love

 Excerpt © Loner Llama Press:

She stood up, leaving her meal mostly uneaten, her drink untouched. Arley had invited Molly and T.J. to join them, but Molly had called to say she had a touch of the flu and needed T.J. to help. That left Gwyneth and Arley, as unlikely a pair of crusaders as you could ask for, to carry on the fight. Gwyn had done her best. She’d bought Molly some time, and now she was fought out. “I’m sorry. I have to go.”

“What? Wait. No. We’re celebrating.”

She was too frazzled, too emotionally depleted, to explain. She turned and walked out of Hooligan’s, the well-known and popular pub she’d always planned to visit. Her car was two blocks away. The evening air was cool and damp in that unique way that reminded her how much she loved this city.

Arley followed after her. “Gwyneth, what’s going on? Something’s wrong. I’ve felt it ever since you arrived at the hearing. Are you okay?”

She ignored his questions. Even one mention of the turmoil in her head would open a floodgate she might never be able to close. “It’s personal.”

His hand landed on her shoulder. “Screw personal.”

Anger–her emotional safety net–made her pivot to face him. “No. Screw you. My life is my own. It doesn’t involve you. You’re a client. I’m your legal advisor and representative in court. We’re not friends or buddies or pals. Now, excuse me, but I have to be somewhere.”

Screw you? Arley’s arms dropped to his side in complete and utter shock. Had anyone ever said that to him before? He doubted it. There might have been a time in his life when he would have been angered or upset by her dismissal, but this was Gwyneth–a cool, composed professional. For her to lose her temper so completely she’d risk alienating him–and the money he brought to her company–meant something bad–something very bad–was going on.

“We might not be friends, but there’s a good chance we’re soul mates,” he said, blocking her escape.

Her eyes widened with obvious incredulousness. “The office gossip was right. You are nuts.”

“I prefer eccentric.”

“Tough. I’m out of here.”

“Sorry. I can’t let you go. Not until I’m confident that you’re okay to drive.”

“I didn’t even touch my Cosmopolitan.”

“I noticed, but you’re upset. You can pretend that you’re upset with me, but we both know–”

She sliced the air between them with her free hand. “What part of ‘It’s personal’ don’t you get?”

He closed the gap between them in one step and put his arms around her.

“This part.”

He’d meant to hug her, only. Offer a little human compassion. But the moment his lips brushed hers, he knew a hug would never be enough between them.

He expected her to struggle, to push him away. She didn’t. She didn’t react in any way for a second or two then she gave a small cry and leaned into him. An instant later, he heard her briefcase hit the pavement and her arms returned his embrace.

Her scent, the taste of her lipstick, the wet heat of her mouth pushed him outside his comfort zone. He hadn’t grown up in a family that expressed their emotions casually or in public. But this wasn’t about a friendly touch–the need coursing through his brain quickly turned to pure desire. And more.

He was afraid to stop kissing her on the chance the chilly persona she showed to the world would return. As long as they were locked in each other’s arms they could avoid that nasty thing called reality.


He knew that sound.

He jerked back, and spun around, roughly shoving Gwyneth behind him.

Click. Click. Click. Even digital cameras make a sound that a private person like Arley dreaded.

“Evening, Mr. McNamara. Ms. Jacobi. Congrats on the win today. Give my best to the pig.”


A pig? Yes, there’s pot-belly pig named Cuddles. (Keep your shoes well away from your e-reader.) If you’d like to read the rest of this sweet novella for free, you’re in luck because it’s part of a 40+-author giveaway and contest:

Click on image to enter.
Click on image to enter.

This book is only available to Debra Salonen newsletter subscribers. If you’re already signed up and BookFunnel/Mailchimp won’t play ball, please leave a comment so I can send you the direct link.

Happy reading! And good luck in the contest!


What a deal!

I just found out KOBO has a 50% off sale going for three days only.

KOBO sale banner-880x391-rev2

Personally, I love KOBO. Great reader service and super deals. Download the app for free and see for yourself. (I read my Kobo books on my iPad.)

Here’s the KOBO connection for my books, in case you missed any. Great way to fill in the gaps. Click on the cover.

Deb_Black Hills Billionaire300dpi1500x2400   Deb_Black Hills Bad Boy300dpi2400x3840   Black-Hills-Outcast-Kindle   Deb_Black Hills Bachelor300dpi2400x3600   Deb_Black Hills White Knight300dpi1500x2400


And this means my BIG SKY MAVERICKS  are 1/2 price, too.

MontanaRebel-MEDIUM  MontanaMiraclecover  MontanaRogue-LARGE MontanaHero-LARGE MontanaMaverick-MEDIUM  MontanaDarling-LARGE NobodysCowboy-MEDIUM

Happy shopping, my friends! If you’re anything like me, you can’t pass up a deal.



Cop Doorstep

Please welcome my guest today Karen Docter.  This wonderfully supportive author has some great stories to offer. I hope you’ll check out her website (link below) after you’ve read this dynamite 1ST KISS from COP ON HER DOORSTEP.

In the six years since her husband was killed by S.W.A.T., Carrie Padilla has spent long hours at work, rebuilding a life for herself and her son. The little time she has at home is spent keeping her eight-year-old son out of trouble, but he is all too eager to try to be the man in the house. When a handsome cop shows up on her doorstep, her errant son in tow, Carrie’s heart stutters. The sexy Italian cop sets off all kinds of bells in her system, and she knows there’s only one thing she can do to save what is left of her family, her husband’s memory, and her heart…avoid her new neighbor at all costs.

Jake and Carrie return from their first date…

“We’re home,” he said, pulling into his driveway.

Dragged from her reverie, she watched him walk around to assist her out of the car. With his large hand cupped around her elbow, he strode across the street. She had to take two steps to his one and, in no time, they came to a stop outside her front door.

Jeez. What was the rush? All of a sudden, Jake had become a stranger. Under the glowing porch light, his eyes looked calm enough—unreadable, in fact—but somehow, she sensed an edginess in his stiff stance.

“Do you have your keys?”

She handed them over and, within seconds, the front door was open and Jake was again standing two feet away.

His hasty retreat had the oddest effect on her. While she should be happy he didn’t seem to expect the requisite goodnight kiss of a real date, she only felt rejected. It was unnerving to know the woman inside her was still willing to court emotional chances.

Remember what happened the last time you jumped off that particular cliff.

The mental reminder was unwelcome, but it moved her to action. “Good night, Jake.” She leaned up to brush a kiss against his jaw.

It was a mistake, of course. The stream of electricity that arced from his skin to her lips caught her completely unprepared. It jolted sluggish nerve endings to life and randomly short-circuited what remained of her brain cells. Her legs unsteady, she searched his face.

It was surprisingly blank. Except for his eyes. They were no longer calm. Far from it. They were now dark and turbulent and fixed on her with hot intensity.

Only a fool played with fire, but she couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if she walked into the flames. Would they warm her or burn her to a crisp? The only way to know was to kiss him again.

Did she dare? How could she not? This was their one and only date, wasn’t it? She’d never get another chance.

“Good night, Carr—“

Her lips cut off Jake’s words and, for an instant, the heavenly feel of his mouth melding with hers was enough to quench her curiosity. His heat thawed her insides, filled the cold, empty spaces in her heart. It raced to keep up with the electrical impulses zipping through her body.

When she realized their lips were their sole point of contact even though she stood on her tiptoes to reach his mouth, she swayed into his body. “Jake?”

Carrie’s husky plea against his mouth, her taste, the feel of her yielding curves burrowing into his hard length…Jake couldn’t hold out against the relentless assault on his fractured senses. He’d wanted her to take the next step. She had and, damn his clamoring libido, he craved more.

Lowering his head, he took what he needed. His arms surrounded her, lifting her into his body until they meshed from chest to thigh. Her lips parted on a gasp of surprise, of acceptance. She wriggled against him. He groaned his approval.

His tongue thrust past the edges of her teeth, probing deeply. Without preliminary, without hesitation. He plundered her sweetness as he blindly pushed into the house, carrying her with him. He didn’t stop moving until they bumped into one of the entry walls.

Caught between two equally unyielding surfaces, Carrie moaned and dropped her purse to the floor. He kicked it aside and tossed the ring of keys that bit into his left hand after it. Reluctant to drag himself away from her drugging kisses, he sucked air into his starved lungs. “I didn’t mean, we shouldn’t, ah, hell.”

Recapturing her lips, he eased back so she could slide down his body. His hands gentled, trailed caresses along her spine beneath her jacket until they came to rest on her backside. With a low, tortured sound, he ground his erection intimately into her softness to alert her to his tenuous hold. “Carrie, honey,” he groaned at last, “tell me to stop.”

“Mmm.” Carrie responded to the rumble of his deep voice with an instinctive, feminine moan. Stop this? It had been too long since a man held her, made her feel so alive. So desirable and, oh, so desperately needy. Never had she encountered such a burning need to get near someone.

To alleviate the problem, she dragged her hands from his thick hair and worked her way down until she discovered a gap in his jacket. She dove inside where taut muscles rippled against her palms. The soft feel of only one thin layer of cotton between her fingertips and his naked skin set off tremors deep in her belly. Moving forward, she touched—

Something cold.

Something hard.

As if stung, she jerked both hands out of Jake’s jacket away from the holster tucked high against his body. “You’re wearing a gun?”

He trailed kisses along her jaw. “I always wear one,” he said, the words distant, unfocused, against her ear.

She tilted her head to grant him better access to the tender skin beneath her earlobe. Then harsh memories reverberated through her head like a sledgehammer, knocking down the walls of desire she’d been building like an ingenuous child with a new set of blocks.

What are you doing? Jake’s a cop. He wears a gun. Even on a date. The man’s a walking, talking risk, and your risk-taking days are long gone. She gulped for air to smother the panic.


Her brain barely functioned, but she knew she had to escape the question forming in his too sexy, hot chocolate eyes. She pushed him back several steps so he once again stood on her doorstep. “Good-bye, Jake,” she choked out before closing the door in his face.

Refusing to listen when he called her name, she locked the deadbolt with nerveless fingers and backed up until she knew she was far enough away to resist the temptation to reopen the door. To her house. Or to her heart.


All Romance Books:

ZOOM! How exciting is that?! Sounds like the perfect summer read to me!

Stay cool, my friends.




 BLACK HILLS WHITE KNIGHT, Black Hills Rendezvous, Book 6

Deb_Black Hills White Knight300dpi1500x2400

 Excerpt © Loner Llama Press:

“I’m glad you came here tonight, Daria. I like you. I enjoyed talking with you. You’re probably the most honest, self-attuned, real person I know.”

“What about Libby?”

“She’s spoken for.”

And I’m not, she thought with a bright, glittery burst of joy. I’m free. Available. Sort of.

She looked at his lips. His perfect, masculine, desirable lips. “You know the baggage we brought with us on your plane is only part of the package, right?”

William put his arms around her and carefully eased her closer, as if expecting her to bolt. Which she should have. Would have, if she’d been listening to the sensible advice she’d read in a dozen or so women’s magazines over the past few months. But those writers’ voices were drowned out by the girlish thrill of sharing a first kiss with the handsomest man she’d ever known.

And why the heck shouldn’t I? He’s flying away in the morning. I’ll probably never see him again. If not now, when?

The last justification—a popular slogan adopted by several politicians she knew—made her smile. William seemed to take that as yes. With one hand he lifted her chin as he slowly lowered his head.

His lips were soft and warm, gentle but persistent, coaxing her to respond. Hormones, pheromones, whatevermones flooded her desert-dry senses. She not only kissed him back, she leaned into him, pressing close enough to feel every button on his shirt, the well-formed shape of his chest, and the ribs, sinew and muscle under his skin.

She opened her mouth and touched her tongue to his. Doing so felt bold, impulsive and gratifying beyond words. He tasted like the honey he’d added to his tea. He tasted new and novel and very, very good.

His tongue made tentative inquiries at first but quickly left politeness behind and explored her mouth as only a stranger would. A stranger. That’s what he was.

She jerked back with a gasp. “Oh! That was so not supposed to happen.” She swallowed hard, still tasting his sweetness. “In fact, it didn’t happen. It was a dream. Dreams aren’t real.”

He placed both hands on her shoulders, more to steady her than hold her in place. “I’ve been working in Hollywood for half my adult life, and believe me, I know the difference between make-believe and reality. That kiss was real.”

She turned sideways to dislodge his hands. “I’ve never even been to Hollywood.”

He seemed amused by her non sequitur. “I also have a fair knowledge of timing, and this was not well-scripted. For that I apologize. Not for the kiss, mind you. That was quite lovely, and I shall treasure it always.”

She couldn’t decide if he was being gallant or joking around. That was the problem with kissing a stranger, she decided, as he escorted her to her grandfather’s old sedan—you have no barometer to go by.

“Sleep well, Daria,” he said, dropping a friendly peck near the corner of her lips. “I’ll run the tape back to you in the morning unless you need me before then. You have my number.”

He remained standing in the driveway the entire time she backed up and slowly maneuvered her way between the snow banks. He was still there when she turned onto the street and stepped on the gas. The guy didn’t have a jacket on. That made him either crazy or inured to the cold weather.

Her bet was on the former. After all, he’d kissed her, hadn’t he? A not-quite-divorced divorcée with two kids, no alimony, no job, no nothing.

The man was interesting. Intriguing. Sexy as hell, and a great kisser. But he was right about their timing. It sucked big time, as Miranda would have said. And that’s all there was to it.


Black Hills White Knight is available here:

Amazon   BN  KOBO  iBooks

AmazonCA  AmazonUK  AmazonAU


 And, in case you missed it, BLACK HILLS BABY is #FREE.


                Amazon         iBooks             BN           KOBO

Happy reading! And thank you, thank you, thank you, for remembering to leave a review!