RT 2013 – Day 4

– the latest release in my Hot Nights in St. Blaise series, and tomorrow I’ll have a Weekend Writing Warrior snippet from the same snoking hot story! Thanks for joining me here!

St Blaise logo

Welcome to St. Blaise, Missouri: Home of The Men and Women of St. Blaise Regional Medical Center

When the St. Blaise Regional Medical Center Board of Directors hired hometown girl, Beth Watkins, to jump start their public relations, they never imagined she’d be stripping their most prominent doctors, nurses, and support staff down to their birthday suits in order to beef up the hospital’s bank account.

                                                         
Six men and six women were chosen to represent the best and brightest of this little town nestled in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest. They also happened to be the hottest tickets in town. Soon the fundraising calendar is spiking temperatures throughout the Show Me state, and the men and women of St. Blaise are setting their small-town nights on fire.

Mr. Mayhem

May-MD

Lab tech Melanie Curtis claims Dr. Marc Mayhew’s shy smile won her vote for Mr. May, but the fact is she’s been aching to get a taste of the delicious Pathologist’s mochachino skin since the moment she set eyes on him.

Quiet and reserved, Marc was happy to take refuge in his research until she walked into his lab. He tried to ignore the attraction that sparked and sizzled each time she drew near, all too aware of the strict edicts issued by the hospital’s Human Resources department, but he couldn’t deny that he wouldn’t mind subjugating himself to his bossy little subordinate. Over and over again.

The only variable he couldn’t predict was how far Melanie was willing to go to get the results she expected. When she tests his mettle, Marc finds he’s more than willing to risk everything on a case of chemistry run amok if it means he can claim her as his. For keeps.

Here’s an excerpt:

“You don’t get to call all the shots.”

His voice came low and soft, wrapping around her ankles like smoke and wafting over her. Staring into his ebony eyes, it was impossible to pretend she didn’t know exactly what he meant. Precious oxygen seeped from her lungs. Wrinkling her forehead in concentration, she focused on dragging air back in.

“I don’t mind you callin’ some of them. Like what happened earlier…” His drawl deepened, flowing thick and rich as molasses over the rough edges of a raspy laugh. “As a matter of fact, I like a woman with a take-charge attitude.” She looked up, and her heart skipped a beat. He stared straight at her, sparkles of laughter shining bright in his eyes, a lazy smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “But make no mistake, if you happen to be taking charge of me, it’s because I let you.”

She blinked, taken aback by the steel behind the velvet delivery. Her eyebrows arched. “Should I call you ‘sir’?”

His voice dropped another octave, rumbling up through his long lean body. “Oh, yes, ma’am. Please do.” Her chin jerked up and the sparks of amusement lurking in his eyes burst into flame. The smile he’d been fighting widened into a happy grin, and he nodded enthusiastically. “I’ll call you ‘ma’am’ and you call me ‘sir’ and please God, tell me I can strip you out of those PJs right now, Miss Melanie, because I don’t think I can take another minute of thinking about stripping you out of those PJs.”

She was in his arms before her brain could process the run-on sentence. All she heard was fervent desire in his tone. All she wanted was the same thing from him. His lips were hot and heavy on her neck. She fought her way through the fog of want clouding her mind and made a grab for the sassy she used as a shield.

“And if I tell you to get on your knees again?”

Marc slid to his knees in front of her, dragging hungry kisses in his wake. Grasping her hips, he looked up at her, cool and unashamed, reveling in a position most other men might find degrading. “Yes, ma’am.”

Bowled over by the rush of power surging through her veins and the unbridled lust his open, expectant acceptance unleashed, she gaped at him. “Jesus.”

His smile turned roguish, the wicked gleam in his eye letting her know that he knew she was not the least bit in control. “I thought it was ‘sir’,” he replied with unsettling equanimity.

He pushed the pajama top up with one hand and slid the waistband lower with the other. His breath washed over her flushed skin. Her stomach quivered. He ran his hands over her hips then cupped her ass, pulling her closer to him. “We need ground rules.” His lips whispered across her bare belly. She ran her fingers over his short, soft hair then laced them at the base of his skull, holding him just where she needed him most.

“From here on, no secrets. We don’t have to advertise our relationship, but I will speak to Dr. Watkins about this change in…status and we’ll figure it out from there.”

She stiffened at the mention of the Chief Administrator’s name then melted into a puddle of girl goo when Marc kissed lower and lower. He trailed down to the apex of her legs and exhaled slow and soft. The rush of warm, moist breath seeping through her cotton shorts left her completely undone.

“Tell me now if you want to stop. We’ll never talk about what happened earlier. Tell me you don’t want this, and I’ll try not to think about how sweet you tasted or how hot you were all wrapped around me.” His ragged breaths told her she wasn’t the only one clinging to reason by a thread. “Tell me I’m not worth the risk, and I swear I’ll do my best to stop wanting you.” He tangled his fingers with hers, knotting them tight. “But I won’t be something you have to hide. And there are going to be people, plenty of people, who will have an issue with me loving you.”

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RT 2013 – Day 3

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

Today I’m featuring Contentment

 Contentment_Ethridge_MD

Tracy Sullivan seems to have it all, a handsome, devoted husband, three beautiful children, a steady career, and the perfect suburban home; but she isn’t happy.

The petty resentments that have built over fifteen years of marriage surface when Tracy tells her husband, Sean, that she is no longer interested in sex, and their marriage threatens to implode.

For the sake of their children, Tracy and Sean agree to lead separate lives under the same roof. With the help of a healthy dose of adult-rated fiction and some gentle prodding from a good friend, Tracy begins to rediscover who she is, what she wants, and the reasons she fell for Sean once upon a time.

After two years of soul-searching, Tracy is finally ready to embrace her happily ever after having learned that while happiness may be fleeting, contentment can last a lifetime.

And here’s an excerpt!

June 2008

   The cursor blinked, the little bastard. The flashing line taunted her, all but double-dog daring her to click the link. But there was someone on the other end. Someone who had seemingly nothing and absolutely everything to do with what may or may not be about to happen. Somewhere out there, caught in the World Wide Web, was a living, breathing person she had never met, never seen, and never heard of Tracy Sullivan.

   She glared at the cursor. Shouldn’t someone know they had this much of an impact on another human being? Doesn’t she deserve to know what she does matters to someone? Tracy assumed the author was a woman. Only a woman would understand.

   She pressed the button, and a strange sense of calm flooded her veins as the contact form appeared. After entering her email address, she typed, ‘Your stories’ in the subject line. Then she chickened out.

   Tracy wasn’t surprised. She’d been clucking like a crazed hen all day. I wonder if I’m sprouting feathers yet?

   Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the telltale pink shopping bag peeking out from under the briefcase she’d had dumped on the chair. Tracy stared at the tiny pink bag, gnawing her bottom lip and remembering the agonizing forty-five minutes she had spent surrounded by a sea of lace and satin.

   She stuck out like a sore thumb in the Pepto-Bismol pink store. Her navy blue skirt and peep-toe pumps seemed like such good choices that morning. The skirt may have been navy, but it fit lean and snug. The hem fell below her knee making her feel like a sexy secretary. She’d paired the skirt with a deceptively simple, white cotton blouse that nipped in at the right spots, and finished the ensemble with the sinfully red high-heeled pumps and a slash of scarlet lipstick. The whole combination had almost given Sean whiplash as she rushed to the car to run the morning carpool shift.

   The clucking began. Whatever confidence Tracy had when she dashed out the door fled the moment the whipcord thin, I’m-barely-old-enough-to-order-a-drink salesclerk starting pulling baby dolls, teddies and negligees from the racks. 

   Tracy gawked at the displays, trying to envision prying her body into one of the scraps of fabric without benefit of a crowbar. She caught a glimpse of herself in one of the store’s many mirrors, and her heart sank. She looked exactly like what she was: an almost forty-year-old woman buying lingerie in a desperate attempt to salvage her failing marriage.

   She could almost hear the overgrown teenager thinking she’d have to exert some serious effort if she thought she wanted to lure her man back into the nest. These girls probably dealt with a lot of this. Every day, women her age must rush through their door in a blind panic hoping to recapture their youth. They rifle through the inventory of flame red lingerie and wonder if they can tolerate wearing a piece string splitting their ass on the off chance the butt floss might rekindle a spark.

   When this same eager, young saleswoman dared to hold a teeny-tiny bustier set in front of her own non-existent bosom, a woman browsing a rack of full-support brassieres muttered, “Nurse a coupla kids, sweetie,” under her breath.

Tracy chuckled, but the clucking began in earnest. The idea of teddies, baby dolls and bustiers had to be jettisoned. The last thing she wanted was to come off looking like a wannabe pin-up girl in a froth of scratchy lace and high-heeled, marabou-trimmed slippers.

   She didn’t even have a pair of marabou-trimmed slippers.

   Tracy snatched the bag from the chair and padded into the laundry room. She extracted her oldest, softest jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt from the pile waiting to be sorted and put away and stepped into the tiny powder room, refusing to meet her own gaze in the mirror above the sink.

   Being a chicken, she refused Sean’s offer of dinner, pleading a large lunch. She pretended she didn’t notice the bewildered confusion in his eyes when she brushed past him and rushed down the steps. She didn’t want him to spot the stupid pink bag. A few minutes later she dashed upstairs again. As silently as a ninja, she checked on the kids, steered clear of the kitchen where he prepared lunches for the next day, and sought refuge in the basement room that was her lair.

   She glanced up, tentatively scanning her reflection for one little scrap of bravado. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see him. For the first time in forever, she was dying to see him. But she wasn’t ready. She had to think, and lately she hadn’t been able to think clearly with Sean nearby.

   She needed a plan. She was nothing without a good plan, but once a plan was in place, boy watch out!

   Tracy slowly unbuttoned her blouse, but by the time she stripped out of the day’s work clothes she still had nothing. She reached into the pink bag and pulled out a matching bra and panty set in a demure, pale peach with cream lace. The choice bewildered her. For a moment, she wondered if she’d been in some kind of fugue-state when she made the purchase. Tracy hated the color orange and all of its derivatives. She hated fake, antique-looking lace. The last thing any woman staring down the barrel of forty needed was to put her body into something with the word ‘antique’ attached.

   She shook the seventy-five dollars worth of polyester at the mirror. “I should make you wear this as a punishment, chicken,” she muttered to her reflection.

She froze for a second, then cocked her head, giving the set another glance. The peach would warm her complexion, the teeny-bopper titty measurer said. The color would go nicely with her eyes. The lace might not be so old lady-ish on a pair of boobs which hadn’t gone completely south yet. She peeked at her bosom. Not bad, only halfway down.

   Tracy stripped off the serviceable bra and panties she wore. Biting off the tags, she caught sight of her body in the mirror and wished she hadn’t. Once she put the pretty new bra and panties on, though, a flicker of her fickle confidence returned.

   Turning from side to side, she inspected what little she could in the oval mirror above the sink. Not awful. She shook her boobs into the cups, pressing on the sides of the bra to be sure the girls were being displayed to their best advantage before slipping into her t-shirt and jeans.

   She caught sight of her bare feet as she left the bathroom and smiled.

   Brazen hussy red.

   That’s what Sean used to call the bright red polish she used on her toes. The glossy enamel gave her the boost she needed. Her poor toes had gone unpolished for too long. She wasn’t the girl she used to be, but she was okay with that. Now. At least she was no longer the foolish woman who had almost thrown everything away.

   This has gone on for too long.

   Tracy drew on the power of the crimson polish. After all, she needed to be brazen. She desperately wanted to be the hussy she had never been. She hurried to the computer before she could chicken out again. The cursor still winked at her. She glanced at the ceiling. Pots and pans clamored as they were piled in the kitchen sink. The cursor urged her on, flashing its silent, ‘Do it. Do It. You want to do it.’

   She wrung her hands. The water shut off, and the lilt of the familiar tune Sean always whistled while he wiped the counters carried down the steps. He was almost done. His kitchen would be sparkling clean and ready for another day’s battle.

   Another day’s battle. She straightened her spine. I can’t wait another day.

   Tracy glared at the nagging cursor and bent, ignoring the bite of the snug denim at her waist. She tabbed down to the tiny message window and paused, her fingers hovering above the keys. Biting her lip, she battled back the panic humming low and insistent in her brain and tried to think of the right words to say.

     From: Tsull1968@gmail.com

     Subject: Your stories

     Hi! You don’t know me. Well, you kind of do, because you have responded to some of my reviews, but you don’t really know me. I just wanted to tell you how much I love your stories. They have helped me more than I can ever explain. I read in your author’s notes and the messages you post on the boards that you think these are just silly stories you write and post to make people happy – and they do, I am incredibly happy whenever I get an email saying you have updated. But they are so much more. I just wanted to take a minute to thank you. I know you have no idea what I am truly thanking you for, and that’s okay. I needed to say thank you. So, thank you. Wish me luck.

    Tracy

   With a click of her mouse, the message flew off into cyber-space. Tracy stared at the monitor for a moment, wondering if she should wait for a reply.

   Maybe if I get one it would be a sign.

   But the sign came from above. The dishwasher hummed to life, and she realized she had to do something now. No more waiting. No more watching. No more sitting at the computer escaping into another couple’s world, another couple’s bed. This was it. Now or never.

   Tracy cringed at the words as they flitted through her head, but she knew they were the truth. She turned her back on the flashing cursor and headed for the stairs. The time had come. Tonight, Tracy Sullivan planned to seduce her husband of seventeen years, and he’d better damn well co-operate.

 

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RT 2013 – Day 3

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Maggie ARe

Today I’m featuring March Madness – #3 in my Hot Nights in St. Blaise series – one hot story each month in 2013!

St Blaise logo

Welcome to St. Blaise, Missouri: Home of The Men and Women of St. Blaise Regional Medical Center

When the St. Blaise Regional Medical Center Board of Directors hired hometown girl, Beth Watkins, to jump start their public relations, they never imagined she’d be stripping their most prominent doctors, nurses, and support staff down to their birthday suits in order to beef up the hospital’s bank account.

                                                         
Six men and six women were chosen to represent the best and brightest of this little town nestled in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest. They also happened to be the hottest tickets in town. Soon the fundraising calendar is spiking temperatures throughout the Show Me state, and the men and women of St. Blaise are setting their small-town nights on fire.

March Madness

 March_MD

Shelli Ann Jones never considered ‘It takes one to know one’ an effective pick-up line, but when she runs headlong into St. Blaise Regional Medical Center’s elusive Mr. March, she revises her opinion.

Trauma Surgeon Kevin O’Shea should come with a sign that reads BEWARE OF THE DOG, but Shelli Ann couldn’t hold that against him. She only wanted him for his body. At first.

Kevin is fascinated by his new neighbor. So fascinated, he might be turning into peeping Kevin.

The tables turn when Shelli Ann uses the same meaningless flirtation, casual intimacy, and careful standoffishness Kevin thought he had trademarked against him, forcing him to unleash the full force of his dogged determination in his pursuit to win the heart of the only woman who could break his.

Here’s a taste:

Christ, you’re hot,” he growled.

“You’re hot too.”

He laughed. “No, I meant…I can feel you….”

She arched her back and the sensation of hot woman pressing against hard dick blew up the tracks his train of thought had been traveling. Turning on his heel, he pinned her to the nearest flat surface and reclaimed her mouth. The fridge rocked in time with her circling hips. Her hands fluttered, touching him everywhere, but not nearly enough. Relinquishing her mouth, he peppered her jaw and throat with hungry, wet kisses.

She hiked his shirt up to his armpits then raked her nails down his back. “Hurry, boy,” she whispered.

A long, low groan ripped from the soles of his feet. His body bowed, shying from the pain but all the while begging for more. She did it again and he thrust against her, mindlessly seeking the comfort of her body as lines of fire raced down his back.

“Beg.” She murmured the word against his ear. His body shook, need and exhaustion

battling for precious ounces of strength. God help him, he almost gave in. He almost sank to his knees and begged the woman to let him fuck her until they both passed out. He was this close. Until she added, “Come on, Tiger. Beg.”

His grunt of frustrated disbelief gave him just enough propulsion to whirl away from the fridge. Juggling one laughing, gyrating, maddeningly eager woman, he stumbled to the bedroom. Dumping her on the center of the bed, he followed her down. He pulled her hands from his neck and pinned them high above her head. The echo of her laughter bouncing off the walls faded as the sparkle in her eyes kindled.

She arched off the mattress, lifting her chin to the ceiling and leaving her throat exposed and vulnerable. He went for the jugular, scraping his teeth against her throbbing pulse, sucking the tender skin into his mouth and soothing it with his tongue. Her hips bucked. Her chest heaved. He raised his head and peered into blue eyes clouded and hazy with desire.

“I never beg.”

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RT 2013 – Day 2

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Maggie ARe

Today I’m featuring the Love Letters Anthologies – six volumes of steamy stories written by authors Ginny Glass, Christina Thacher, Emily Cale and myself. Look for all six of these exciting titles from Carina Press in 2013!

Volume 1: Obeying Desire (A-D)(Theme: BDSM)–Release Date: April 2013

CARINA_0413_9781426895357

D is for Detained by Maggie Wells

He was the preacher’s son, her parents owned the local sex shop. Sherry Adams and Tyler Prescott’s attraction was forbidden when they were teenagers, but years later Deputy Tyler takes out his trusty handcuffs to show her just how good they could be together.

And a tidbit:

“The cuffs…” he said breathlessly.

Meeting his earnest gaze, she finished the thought for him. “Are turning me on like you wouldn’t believe.”

The startled laugh that burst from his lips cut through the tension around them. His fingers slid into her hair, gently dislodging the clip holding the dense curls. She gasped her relief when the clasp gave way.

He gathered handfuls of her hair and tipped her head back farther. “I’d believe it.”

Volume 2: Duty to Please (E-H) (Theme: Military)– Release Date: May 2013

LoveLettersVol2

 

H Is for Hotshot by Maggie Wells
Smoke jumper Luke Whitehawk usually fights fires–when he’s not fighting his sizzling attraction to pilot Tara Ferris. And Tara’s determined that this is one battle Luke is destined to lose…

And a tidbit: 

“You taught me everything I know about keeping my feet on the ground. Now let go and let me teach you how to fly.”

“You’re jumping into the fire.”

“You do it every day, and it makes me burn.” He tried to retreat but Tara held her ground. She wouldn’t allow him to run when they were so damn close. She couldn’t. “If you pull back now, I want you to remember this the next time you call me ‘little girl’—I’m not the one running away, you are.”

And there’s much more to come!

Volume 3: Wicked Whispers (I-L) (Theme: Dirty Talk)– Release Date: June 2013

J Is for Jaded by Maggie Wells

Voice actress Julie Poplin secretly thinks about rocker-turned-sound engineer Vaughan Hatch when she needs to make passion leap from the page. But their audio book recording session takes a seductive turn when she accidentally speaks Vaughan’s name instead of the hero’s…
Volume 4: Travel to Temptation (M-Q)(Theme: Exotic Erotic)–Release Date: August 2013

M Is for Melting by Maggie Wells

When Samantha Walters contacts childhood friend Luca Camilleri, she discovers the boy she knew is now an incredibly desirable man. And a not-so-innocent comment in an online chat spurs Sam to give in to impulse, heading to Malta for a vacation fling.
Volume 5: Exposed (R-U) (Theme: Voyeurism/Exhibitionism)– Release Date: September 2013

U Is for Undone by Maggie Wells

Dr. Alec McCarthy has noticed hot nurse and neighbor Sofia Morales around the hospital—but she really gets his attention when she does a striptease for him in front of her window.
Volume 6: Cowboy’s Command (V-Z) (Theme: Western)– Release Date: October 2013

V Is for Vindicated by Maggie Wells

Barrel racing queen Michelle Kelly likes to ride wild—but her old flame Cole Powell might have what it takes to rope the woman he loves once and for all.

and

X Is for XXX Ranch by Maggie Wells & Emily Cale

Jane Richardson is stunned to discover that the property she’s inherited isn’t the working ranch she imagined. Handsome neighbor Clive Boland offers to buy the XXX Ranch—and proposes more than just a business deal.

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RT 2013 – Day 2

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

Yesterday we had a peek at Paramour. Today, we’ll continue Frank DeLuca’s story with Inamorata.

 

 inamorata_1 md

 

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

 

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

 

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way. Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

 

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.

And here’s an excerpt!

“Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.”

Frank DeLuca closed his eyes and prayed harder than he had ever prayed before. Considering the fact that he’d been trapped in some bizarre kind of purgatory on earth for the last twenty-five years, you can bet he’d done some pretty hard praying. But there was always room for improvement, and since he still hadn’t been sprung from this stupid fake-brass Brady Bunch wannabe light fixture, he gritted his teeth and tried again.

“Come on. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.” His fingers curled into his palms. He tightened his fists, trying to cling to his last shred of patience. “Just turn on the light.”

He opened his eyes. Not that it made any damn difference. Everything in his world was black. The way it had been since he last saw Cam. The way it had been since he pried the screwdriver from her hand and asked her to turn out the light. It seemed like the right answer at the time. Of course, with Cam popping in and out of his room, he’d never had to deal with such a dark stretch of eternity before. Lesson learned.

“Turn it on, turn it on, turn it on,” he chanted into the darkness. “Turn. On. The. Fucking. Light.”

His order went unheeded. He could hear someone moving around the room. Her. The woman who moved a bunch of crap into his place and chattered away endlessly to some kid too young to talk, but still wouldn’t turn on the goddamn light.

“Sorry, not goddamned,” he whispered to whoever might be listening. After a quarter century in never-never-land, and god-only-knows how long in the dark, he was willing to concede the belief in anything if it meant a little light. “I can’t take it. I can’t take it.”

The mumbling was nothing new. He’d been mumbling to himself for days, weeks, months, and possibly years. Time lost all meaning when cricket chirps of one evening bled into a thousand others. His half-life hadn’t been worth a damn since Cam walked out of his world and into the land of the living. Okay, so she’d never really belonged in his half-here, half-somewhere else world—seeing as how she was alive and all—but still, Cam knew him. She knew about him once upon a time. And with nothing but time on his hands, Frank couldn’t help but wonder if she remembered, or if she was too busy living her perfect little life with her perfect college boy. Stupid, living, breathing jerk-off….

“Is he okay?”

The question jolted him from his reverie. Frank clamped his mouth shut and perked up. A man. The woman who’d been tearing his room apart came with a man. That made sense if there’s a kid, he reasoned. Then again, a woman doesn’t need a guy around to raise a child. He was proof of that. It had been just him and his mother after Big Frank bought it in a convenience store robbery, and no one missed his flying fists one tiny bit.

“He’s fine. Aren’t you, Jay?”

There was no answer from the kid, but that didn’t stop the lady from running like a freight train. At least he assumed it was a kid. For all he knew, the chatty broad could have redecorated his old bedroom for her dog.

“I think he likes his room. Don’t you, Jaden? Do you like your new room?”

No response from this Jay person. He shook his head. Please, God, let it be a kid and not a dog. A dog would just be too damn annoying. Frank clenched his fists, trying to conjure up a little of the patience he’d honed over a couple of decades stuck between heaven and hell. At least, he hoped his stint in this god-forsaken wall sconce wasn’t the final destination, otherwise organized religion had sure as hell picked the wrong travel agent for booking accommodations in the afterlife.

“Do you like all your new toys and games?”

Frank sighed. Desperation wormed its way into her voice. He should know; he’d been listening to this broad’s rhetorical questions since the truck squealed to a stop out front. He sure hoped she was talking to a kid and not a dog. Either way, he couldn’t blame the pooch/tyke for keeping his trap shut. What was the point in trying to edge a word in sideways when she was happy to plow on regardless, or worse, answer for him.

“Do you want to hug the teddy bear? I can hold Bugs for you if you want,” she offered. “Or maybe Grandpa could hold Bugs. That would be cool, wouldn’t it? If Grandpa held your bunny?”

Frank snorted and rolled his eyes. The coaxing routine was a repeat as well. “No, lady. He doesn’t want to hug the bear, or the duckie, or the mother-fuh…stupid platypus. He doesn’t want you to hold his bunny for him. You know what? I think he wants you to turn on the light and read him a book. A book would be great, huh? You don’t want the kid to grow up illiterate, do you?”

“I’ll, uh, I’m going to…”

Frank frowned when the man’s explanation trailed off down the hallway. Whatever the guy planned to do sounded sketchy and more than a little vague, even to a dead guy living in the light fixture.

“Awkward.” He tried to imitate the wry, singsong tone Cam used to use, but it sounded flat. Lifeless. Like him. Before he could sink into a fresh bout of self-pity, a sharp clap of hands ricocheted through him like the report of a pistol.

“Okay! Grandpa’s busy unpacking, but maybe later.”

The woman’s brittle cheerfulness made him cringe. He squeezed his eyes shut again, trying in vain to stem the trickle of sympathy that made his fingers twitch. Biting his lip, he hoped for the metallic tang of blood even though he knew it wouldn’t come. Purposefully, he flexed his hands, stretching his fingers and spreading them wide. He didn’t need the light to know exactly how much oil and grease there was ground into his nail beds and the creases of his knuckles. The pattern had been exactly the same for too damn many years.

“A book.” His voice came out ragged, the order more of a half-plea. “Just read to the kid. Please.”

Silence hung heavy in the air, muffling the scrape of drawers opening and closing and the rhythmic zffft-zffft-zffft of a box cutter slicing through tape. The silence rang in his ears like an alarm, the blare so loud he almost missed the sigh of a swallowed sob. Almost, but not quite.

“Oh shit,” he whispered into the darkness. “Okay. Never mind about the book. Forget the light. Okay?” She hiccupped softly, and he groaned. “Come on, lady. Don’t do that…”

He flinched, bracing himself when she sniffled loudly and clapped her hands again. There was no need to see her. He could almost feel the impact of her forced smile through the darkness. If asked to give testimony, Frank would swear to the god who never listened to him that he heard this woman swallow her pride. His throat ached, tightening around the lump that rose there.

“Want to read a book?” she asked in that damn Mary Poppins voice. There were rustling sounds as she flitted about the room. “I got a new Thomas book. Want to read Thomas?”

“Aw, shit-shit-shit.” Frank pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes, bracing for the inevitable.

“And look, Jay, look at this cool old lamp above your bed.”

The switch snicked and that soul-deep pull grabbed him by the throat. Light—warm, golden, gorgeous light—beckoned him. He knew she wouldn’t be there. Cam had probably long-since forgotten him and married pansy-assed college-boy Brad. She was in the land of the living where she belonged, and he was…here. Always here. Trapped in nothingness.

A fingernail tapped the faux-brass sconce. “Maybe Oma can find you a new one, huh? Something more up to date?”

He let go, allowing the soul-crushing pain to swamp him, plummeting to earth once more. He couldn’t crash and burn any worse than he had before. Twice before. Once when he was living, and once long after he’d been dead. Frank blinked the glare from his eyes and focused on the blank wall in front of him. The rosebud wallpaper was gone. The sheetrock had been stripped, sanded, and painted blue. A blue that was just a half-shade lighter than the blue that coated the walls in nineteen-eighty-seven.

He shook his head to clear it. Finally, his gaze tracked to the right where he spotted a bookshelf loaded with books, games, and stuffed animals. At the very top, a collection of trophies like the one he once kept in this very room was proudly displayed. Tiny gold men holding bats glistened in the soft amber glow of evening. He gaped at them perched atop their faux marble and fake brass pedestals.

He could see it so perfectly in his mind’s eye. A spotless trophy, gleaming bright gold in the light cast from the cheesy 70s directional sconce mounted on the wall. His mother running her fingertip over the engraved plate bearing his name.

“Francis DeLuca.”

The name rolled off his lips even though he hadn’t spoken it aloud in nearly two decades. Not since the night he introduced himself to the little girl who moved into his room. Not since he fell in love with Cam.

His eyes locked on the gilt batter glued to the top of the tallest trophy. He couldn’t look away. Obviously they didn’t belong to the little guy snuggled into the race-car shaped bed. But something told him they belonged here, just like him.

He stared hard at that trophy, seeing his mother’s wind-up, flinching just as he flinched when she hurled it across the room, smashing the bulb in the brass-colored wall sconce to bits, stealing the last wisps of breath from his lungs, and sentencing him to an eternity as the middleman.

On August nineteenth, nineteen-eighty-seven, he died. That was the day he broke his mother’s heart. That was the day his fate was sealed.

 

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RT 2013 – Day 1

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

 

Paramour_med_300dpi

Camellia Stafford has never been alone in her room. For twenty years, she’s been engaged in a fierce power struggle with her bedroom’s previous tenant, Frank DeLuca, the ghost trapped in the light fixture above her bed.Frank has one soft spot—Cam.

When Cam suffers the loss of her beloved father, she returns home to say good-bye, and confront her feelings for Frank–but finds an unexpected shoulder to lean on in neighbor, Bradley Mitchum. Cam falls hard and fast for the handsome ad man’s charming smile and passionate nature, but Brad’s easy-going exterior masks a steely backbone tempered by adversity.Now Cam must determine if her heart is strong enough to choose which dream could lead to a love that will last a lifetime.

Be sure to read the sequel to ParamourInamorata!

Praise for Paramour:

“Paramour is that story prolific readers search for that only happens once every now and then.” – BookingIt.net

“Everything about Paramour-the setting, the dialogue, the pacing and the hot sexy scenes, and most of all three of the most interesting characters you could want to meet plus a surprise ending-will keep this story in your mind long after the final page is turned.” – The Long and Short of It Reviews

“There are so many wonderful things about this book and I highly recommend it. It’s a different twist on the paranormal element, the chemistry between the characters is amazing and the love scenes are hot.” – Everybody Needs A Little Romance

And here’s an excerpt!

Heedless of her stained jeans, Cam fell face-first onto the narrow single bed. She wrapped her arms around a pillow stuffed into a faded rose-printed cotton sham. Inhaling deeply, she picked up the scent of Cheer detergent and searched for a hint of Love’s Baby Soft that used to linger in the room.

A tinge of something different tickled her nostrils. The heady, familiar aroma made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand at attention. The tantalizing fragrance wasn’t a trace of her father’s traditional splash of Old Spice. She raised her head, and her nostrils twitched as she tried to pick up the thread once more, but it was gone, drifting away like a memory.

Cam groaned her frustration and flipped onto her back to stare at the popcorn ceiling. She cataloged the familiar peaks and valleys while she ran through the list of things she’d need to accomplish in the next few days.

The silence hummed around her. Her stomach growled as if to chastise her for the casserole wasted on the kitchen floor. She rubbed the edge of her thumbnail over the pad of her index finger. When fidgeting didn’t prove effective, Cam pressed her hand over her heart and carefully measured the strength of each beat against her fingertips.

She told herself everything would be okay. Here in her room, she was safe. Her eyelashes fluttered with the herculean effort it took to open them.

Cam reached up and twisted the tiny stem on the cone-shaped reading lamp above her bed. A beam of light swept the length of the bed, bathing the faded comforter in a warm, golden glow. Cam basked in the soothing pool of light, safe in her girlhood room. She studied the rosebud-patterned wallpaper and silently thanked her mother for being too bohemian to collect Madam Alexander dolls. The silence throbbed like an ache. She closed her eyes and wished she could hear her father’s tuneless humming just one more time.

She didn’t stir when the edge of her bed dipped. Instead she held her breath for a moment before opening her eyes. Francis John DeLuca sat perched on the edge of the mattress.

She stared at him, drinking in the little details. She knew the leather bracelet he wore had sixteen rows of studs. The ends of the strip of coarse black hair he wore in a Mohawk curled ever so slightly. A tiny gold hoop in his ear gleamed in the light and a Metallica shirt stretched taut across his shoulders. The sleeves cut into his biceps, but the fabric made no indention in his smooth olive skin.

The scent was back, flooding her senses with the relief of homecoming. She wondered if he knew how many hours she’d spent at the men’s cologne counter sniffing samples, trying to place the fragrance. After twenty years of friendship, endless fights, and one unforgettable kiss, she’d wondered if she finally earned the right to ask questions.

“Are you really here?” she whispered, afraid she’d scare him away.

“Yeah.”

Their eyes met, and she tumbled into the depths of his dark gaze. Cam knew if she didn’t take the chance this time, she may never have another.

“What cologne do you wear?”

Frank’s eyes narrowed with typical caution. “Polo.”

“Huh. Smells different on you.”

His thick eyebrows rose, and a sardonic smile twitched his lips. “Might be because I’m dead.”

Cam swallowed hard and sat up. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Welcome home. I’m sorry.”

She shook her head, forcing a small, flirtatious smile. “Did you miss me?”

“Every damn day.”

“Then don’t leave me again.”

Frank raised his hand. His fingers twitched. She could feel heat radiating from his palm. Those warm fingers curved along the contour of her cheek. “I’ll make sure you’re never alone.”

Cam smiled, smoothing her palm over the rough hairs on the back of his hand. “With you around, how could I be?”

She stretched out once again and closed her eyes, certain he’d stay perched on the edge of her bed watching over her as she slept. Cam drifted off, secure in the knowledge that she would never truly be alone in her room.

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RT 2013 – Day 1

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Maggie ARe

Today I’m featuring Jumping Mr. January – #1 in my Hot Nights in St. Blaise series – one hot story each month in 2013!

St Blaise logo

Welcome to St. Blaise, Missouri: Home of The Men and Women of St. Blaise Regional Medical Center

When the St. Blaise Regional Medical Center Board of Directors hired hometown girl, Beth Watkins, to jump start their public relations, they never imagined she’d be stripping their most prominent doctors, nurses, and support staff down to their birthday suits in order to beef up the hospital’s bank account.

                                                         
Six men and six women were chosen to represent the best and brightest of this little town nestled in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest. They also happened to be the hottest tickets in town. Soon the fundraising calendar is spiking temperatures throughout the Show Me state, and the men and women of St. Blaise are setting their small-town nights on fire.

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Jumping Mr. January

When she pitched the idea for The Men and Women of St. Blaise Regional Medical Center fundraising calendar to her Board of Directors, Beth Watkins thought she wrote the perfect prescription for the small town hospital’s budget shortfall.

The moment she got a green light, Beth went after the man she wanted to be her Mr. January and so much more. She had no time to waste. Hunky EMT Robert ‘Spence’ Spencer was leaving for medical school within weeks of the photo shoot she arranged and there was no way on earth Beth was going to miss the chance to sneak a peek at her old high school crush in all his glory.

Focused and dedicated, Spence wants bigger things than his hometown can offer, but when brainy, sexy Beth Watkins breezes back into St. Blaise with a plan that includes getting into his pants, he finds she is the one woman who can offer him something he doesn’t want to refuse. 

A snippet from Jumping Mr. January:

“I want you.”

She gasped softly and the curtain of her lashes rose, unveiling eyes bright with delight. “I knew it.”

Spence chuckled and pressed the pad of his thumb to her plush lips once more. “Nothing to brag about, Beth.”

“There are sixty-three other women wishing they were here with you right now.”

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