Pages

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Release - Secrets of the Past (Clean Historical Western Romance)

I'm very excited about my new release. A couple of months ago, Amelia Adams approached me and asked if I wanted to write a story for her bestselling historical western romance series, "Kansas Crossroads". I was THRILLED that she asked me since anyone who reads clean historical romance knows how popular Amelia Adams' stories are. Well, now my story is out!! THANK YOU, AMELIA!

On KINDLE and KINDLE UNLIMITED!!
Purchase link - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L7Z6QWJ




Texas Ranger, Wyatt Donovan comes to Topeka, Kansas, to face his past heartaches. When he meets his childhood friend’s sister after thirteen years, he’s more than ready to become the hero she sees in him.

Josette Allen was always an odd girl, but as a woman, her inquisitive mind makes the town believe she’s insane. When her childhood crush saunters into town, stirring up old feelings, Josie is ready to catch his eye. Unfortunately, the only thing she’s good at catching is mayhem.

Will she ever be the reason he has stars in his eyes… or will she always be the thorn in his side?


PROLOGUE
December, 1862
Texas 8th Cavalry Encampment—Middle Tennessee

Bone-weary after yet another hard day’s ride, Sergeant Wyatt Donovan collapsed onto his bedroll before the crackling orange flames. The warm glow did little to ease the chill from his bones.
“How are those beans coming along, James?” Wyatt’s best friend stooped over the fire as he stirred a spoon in the pot, grinning like a cat with cream. James had acquired a small stash of beans – a rare commodity in the south these days. “Just where did you find the beans?”
James lifted the pot from the grate over the flames and poured the steaming cooked beans into two separate mugs. “You really don’t want to know.”
Wyatt gave James a nod. No doubt he’d traded with some Yankee.
Wyatt took his first bite of beans in over a year and sighed. Pure bliss. At the moment he didn’t particularly care if the devil himself provided the gift. He relaxed against the bedroll propped next to the saddle, resting his head, and let the hot food warm him from the inside out. He took another bite and reached into his saddlebag, withdrawing the battered letter he’d received that morning. Mail was just as scarce as beans and he wanted to savor the irony of having both at once.
“Is the letter from that pretty little wife of yours?” James plunked down beside him with a suggestive wink.
Wyatt turned the letter over in his hand. “It’s from your father actually. I haven’t found a moment to read it, until now.”
“My father?” Deftly James snatched the letter from his hand. “Why is he writing you?”
“I don’t know. Give it back and we’ll find out.” Wyatt yanked the envelope back.
James’ question was on Wyatt’s mind, too. Why would Dr. Allen write to him? Quickly Wyatt slipped a thumb beneath the folds and opened the missive. “It’s dated August 18th.” He shook his head, tossing a sidelong glance to James. “What is today’s date?”
“I don’t know.” James shrugged. “Christmas was… what? Three days ago? So, it’s the twenty-eighth.”
“Your father sent the letter over four months ago,” he scoffed.
“Who cares? Even old news is still news. Would you just read it to ease both of our minds?”
“All right, all right.” Wyatt shifted his gaze down the page. “Dear Wyatt.” He paused for dramatic effect, purely to torment his friend, and grinned.
James slugged him in the arm. “Read it!”
Wyatt grinned. His friend’s curiosity was as great as his was. “It is with a heavy heart and deepest regrets that I write to inform you—” Wyatt stopped short, eyes riveted to the doctor’s impossible scrawl as he continued to read in silence – of the unfortunate and untimely death of your wife. She’d traveled from Missouri to visit us for a spell, but just yesterday Marjorie was found in the woods, dead. Unfortunately, nothing could be done, and I determined the cause of death was murder. I believe she was poisoned, but I cannot prove it. I realize you are a man who likes answers, but I fear I’m unable to offer any at this time. To my best estimation, Marjorie died very early in the morning after someone had taken her to the wooded area and poisoned her. Rest assured, we have contacted her family and they will plan the gravesite service for your wife here in Tokepa, Kansas. Yours in friendship, Dr. John Allen
Numb, Wyatt flicked his gaze back over the words. No! It couldn’t be true. He read the missive a third time. His stomach clenched, and the page trembled in his grasp.
Come back to me, Wyatt… Marjorie’s lilting voice rang through his mind as clearly as if she were standing beside him. He could more than hear her, he could smell the exact scent of lilac in her hair and see the amber of her eyes.
Numbness gave way to denial.
She wasn’t dead. She couldn’t be. Not for four months. If Marjorie was truly gone, he would feel it. She was a part of his soul. If she died, a piece of him went with her. But he was still whole… wasn’t he?
“No, God. Please, no!” Denial dissolved into anguish. He was the one fighting a war. He was supposed to die. Not Marjorie. Never Marjorie.
“Wyatt?” James rested a hand on his shoulder. “What happened? What’s wrong?”
Fiery red-hot anger burned within him, twisting and contorting until the sliver of his soul belonging to Marjorie and no other broke off and slipped away, leaving nothing but pain in its wake. The collar of his butternut jacket tightened, and he couldn’t breathe.
Shaking with rage, Wyatt stood, wadding the miserable missive. The hot beans spilled down the front of his trousers. He didn’t care.
James wrenched the crumpled paper from his fingers, smoothed out the wrinkles and skimmed the paper. His face turned pale and tears gathered in his eyes.
“Wyatt, I… I’m so sorry,” he murmured after a few moments in a shaky voice. “I don’t know what to say.” Gently he refolded the letter, handing it back to Wyatt.
“Burn it.” Wyatt met his friend’s tearful gaze. “I never want to see those words again.”
With a nod, James threw the crumpled note into the fire. Instantly the flames licked the edges of the paper, obliterating all evidence. Unfortunately, the truth was not so easily banished and as the last ashes disappeared, so did every hope and dream he’d nurtured for his marriage.
Wyatt vowed never to fall in love again. The pain of losing someone was too unbearable.


ONE
Topeka, Kansas
September 7, 1875

Stepping off the train, Wyatt Donovan’s cold heart refused to make him feel anything about his hometown. Releasing a deep sigh, Wyatt slowly scanned his gaze down Main Street. Topeka was still as dusty as he remembered. Then again, some things never change.
However, one thing was different. The large two-storied hotel that was about ready to fall apart when he’d left town all those years ago, appeared to have been remodeled into a new hotel. The Brody Hotel. He was impressed with the changes, and he especially liked the updated wrap-around porch in front.
Wyatt gripped his satchel and continued moving toward the hotel. He shifted his attention to Main Street. The shops lining both sides of the road were busier than when he lived here as a young boy, and many people were hurrying from one place to the other. As usual, old widows and spinsters gathered in front of the milliner’s shop, twittering about anything and anyone. Young men perched along the front of the Silver Dollar Saloon with one foot propped on the boardwalk and the other on the dirt road in front, thumbs in their front pockets. They watched the young ladies stroll in front of them, twirling parasols to shade their faces. The apple pies baking inside Charlotte’s Eatery wafted through the hot breeze as their sweet scent filled his nostrils.
His homecoming should be joyful, but it wasn’t. Pain wrenched at his chest like a bullet to the heart.
He hadn’t been back since he’d visited Marjorie’s grave right after the war ended. The visit was short, but he left quickly as he didn’t want to wallow in his misery. This blasted town had taken away his childhood, forcing him to become an adult faster than anticipated when he was only eleven years old and his parents died. Once he’d moved to Missouri with his older brother, Wyatt vowed never to step foot in Topeka again.
He’d joined the Texas Rangers not long after the war ended, and he’d hoped that working for them would help bury the pieces of his shattered life and allow him to go forward. For a while, he’d been content chasing down outlaws with the other Rangers. Now the outlaws were the reason he was back in Topeka.
The clamoring of small feet shook the boardwalk, mere seconds before two little scamps knocked into him. He teetered, but quickly regained his balance and stepped out of the way. The two boys darted into the street, taking turns as they playfully shoved each other back and forth. Their smiles grew larger as the seconds passed by. Across the street at the Mercantile, their mother called them home for supper. Grumbling, they sluggishly walked back toward the store with drooping shoulders and long faces.
Recalling the days after he’d moved to Missouri, Wyatt chuckled. His first and forever friend had been James Allen. They were inseparable as young men… and always in some kind of trouble. After he and James had joined the war, Dr. Allen had moved his practice to Topeka.
On impulse, he lifted his gaze toward the shops, searching for the doctor’s office. Wyatt had been there once, the day he’d come to see Marjorie’s grave, and he hadn’t been back since. James would be surprised to see him, but not as surprised as when Wyatt offered him a position working for the Texas Rangers.
Curiosity moved Wyatt’s feet as he headed toward the building where the doctor’s sign hung haphazardly above the door. Memories flooded his mind as a pang of homesickness crawled into his belly. What had become of his friend? Since the war ended, the little contact they’d first maintained had dwindled over time and eventually died. In truth, any reminders of when he’d met, fallen in love, and married Marjorie had proved unbearable, and Wyatt had slowly stopped writing to James.
From out of nowhere, a loud boom shook the ground. Wyatt jumped, instinctively reaching for his pistol as he searched for the cause of the explosion. A black cloud of smoke billowed from the old barn behind the doctor’s office, pouring from the chimney and filtering through the windows. His heart sank, and panic surged through him. He needed to help. Images of his friend’s family screaming as their flesh burned flashed through his head, churning his stomach.
Wyatt broke into a run. He pushed past people who stood in his way. A few had turned to look at the smoke, but they shrugged and went about their business without helping. Frustration grew inside his chest for their carelessness, but he couldn’t stop to ask questions now.
When he reached the double-doors to the barn’s entry, the smoke didn’t appear as dark, but a metallic screech loud enough to wake the dead, ripped through the air, grating his eardrums. He yanked open the barriers and rushed inside. Smoke burned his eyes and he stopped short, unable to see six inches in front of his face. Choking on the black smoke, he waved a hand to clear the air, coughing. Slowly the room came into view and Wyatt glanced around the cluttered area. No flames danced across the walls, only smoke. Odd.
A woman sat in the middle of the floor, staring at the large strange-looking contraption still sputtering and spewing small puffs of acrid smoke. The machine, bearing some resemblance to a steam locomotive, screeched and groaned like an injured animal caught in a trap. Little by little, the device quieted. Incoherent grumbles came from the woman as she aimed a murderous glare at the machine. Wavy long hair coated in soot, stuck out in odd shapes and different directions around her head.
Cautiously he walked closer, and the floorboards creaked beneath his feet. The filthy woman jumped and twisted toward him with such agility he wondered if her bottom was connected permanently to the ground. Wide blue eyes stared at him, glowing against the soot covering her face. A gasp tore from her throat.
Wyatt arched a brow. Strange woman.
He swept his gaze over the boy’s clothes she wore, to her unruly dirty hair, back to her wide eyes. Her lips parted as her attention moved over him from the top of his Stetson to his dusty boots.
“Miss? Are you all right?”
She blinked a couple times, her fingers threading through the matted locks, or at least attempting to run through her hair.
“Oh, good grief!” She buried her dirty face in her hands.
The agonized moans coming from her had Wyatt moving to her side in three strides. Kneeling next to her, he placed his hand on her shoulder with gentle care.
Once again, she jumped and pulled away. Her expression turned from sadness to embarrassment within moments. She continued staring at him.
“Are you hurt?” he inquired again.
“No.” Her voice squeaked. She stood and brushed the dirt off her boy’s pants. The trousers hugged her legs like a coat of paint. The shirt unbuttoned at her throat displayed a lot more skin than he thought proper. He rose to full height, realizing he stood a good head taller.
She chuckled, although no humor laced her tone. “The only thing hurt is my pride.” Another swipe of her hand down her clothes then over her hair removed some of the soot, showing her hair color was, in fact, blonde. She lifted her gaze and looked at him.
“You certainly picked the opportune moment to make a grand appearance into Topeka, Wyatt Donovan.”
He narrowed his eyes, studying her closely. Her voice sounded slightly familiar. He stood inside the barn behind the doctor’s office that he’d assumed belonged to James’ family, which meant this slip of a girl could only be… Tarnation!
“Josie? Is that you?” He moved closer, trying to see beneath her soot-caked face. When his fingers touched her cheek, she slapped his hand away.
“Of course it’s me, you fool. Who else would it be?”
The humor of the situation tugged his lips into a smile. Josette Allen. The little scamp who’d followed him around like a lost puppy when he and James were young men now stood before him looking… well, she looked the same as she had when he and James enlisted in the war. Granted, her body fit the boys’ clothes much better, but her unkempt blonde hair and snippy attitude hadn’t changed a bit.
“Well, I must admit, I’m shocked to see you looking like… um, this.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m certain you are.”
He chuckled and folded his arms across his chest. “Runt, you haven’t changed a bit, have you?”
A scowl creased her face. “I hated that name as a girl, and I especially hate it now, since I am obviously not a runt.”
Wyatt threw back his head and laughed harder. She stomped her foot, causing ash to fly from her clothes. The charred scent burned his nostrils and he choked. “Darlin’ you mustn’t move around too much like that. You might cause someone to stop breathing.”
Darlin’? When have I ever been your darling?” She shook her head and walked to the odd-looking machine. She crouched and pulled switches. By now, the device had stopped its ruckus and only a whisper of smoke rose from the metal beast.
“What’s that?” He walked next to her and studied the contraption with more buttons and pulleys than he could count. “You’re not still trying to invent things, are you?”
She tilted her head and looked at him, wide azure eyes aglow. “You remembered?” A bubble of delighted laughter came from her. “I didn’t think you cared what I did back in those days.”
“I didn’t care.” He affirmed with a shrug and squatted to her level. “Except for the time you burnt my brother’s shed down. Or the time you almost blew up the Miller’s cat. Or the time—”
“Point taken.” A filthy hand fluttered dismissively through the air though her eyes narrowed.
He winked, playfully nudging her shoulder with his. “I see you’re still making things that don’t work.”
Josie huffed. “I’ll have you know I have made many things that work, and as you can see, I’m trying to make this one cooperate with me.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Really? So, what is this machine supposed to do? Substitute the hearth and chimney someday?”
Growling, she rose as her eyes turned a dark blue. She planted her hands on her hips as her chest heaved a quick rhythm. He stood as well.
“Ha, ha. Very funny, Wyatt. You’ll eat your words when this machine is a daily fixture in homes everywhere.”
“As the fireplace?”
“As a rug cleaner – oh, never mind.” Her lips pinched in a thin line. “Mark my words, Wyatt Donovan. You and every person in this town will apologize to me one day when I invent something people will be dying to get their hands on.”
Mischievously, he glanced back at the machine and scratched his head. “Dying, huh? Doesn’t look like much of a casket to me.”
Josie threw her hands in the air and released another growl. She turned back to her contraption.
Wyatt grinned. Goading Josie never got old. He’d teased her when she was younger, and he found it just as much fun now. “Tell me, Runt, why didn’t your neighbors come to help you when that thing let out Indian smoke signals large enough to be seen clear to Texas?”
“Mr. Donovan, would you be so kind as to leave now? I have everything under control.”
Chuckling, he turned back to the opened barn door but stopped before taking another step. “One more thing before I go,” he said over his shoulder.
She turned her head and met his stare. “What? You have another insult to fling at me?”
“No. I just wondered where I could find your brother.”
She flipped her hand and shrugged, turning back toward the machine. “More than likely, you’ll find James in the saloon. Topeka has three of them now. Your guess is as good as mine which one he’ll visit today.”
A saloon? At this time of day? It was barely one o’clock in the afternoon.
“Thank you kindly, Runt.”
Just as he reached the door, she kicked the machine and grumbled. Biting his tongue, he dared not laugh or comment on her unladylike language. No doubt she’d gotten her patience from James.
“Wyatt?”
He turned back to Josie. She sat on the ground with her legs folded beneath her but kept her eyes averted toward the ceiling.
“What?”
“I’m glad to see you here,” she whispered. “James really needs a friend like you.”
His heart softened. “Thanks, Runt.”
Another groan tore from her throat as she shook her head. He’d always been able to get her bloomers in an uproar with that nickname. Funny, because it was more enjoyable now than before.
Strange how time changed things.
Wyatt found himself genuinely grinning as he walked toward the saloon. Silver Dollar Saloon had been in town since he was a boy. His father and his chums had left that place drunker than a skunk. Wyatt lost his grin. He hadn’t approved of his father’s drinking even when he was a young boy.
Shaking his head, he pushed the memory aside. No use in thinking of the past now. It would only bring heartbreak.
From behind the saloon, another commotion started, but nothing like the explosion that Josie had made. Instead, a woman’s wailing and men’s shouts pulled his attention to the alleyway. This time, people ran to see what had happened.
“Get the marshal,” a man screeched. “There’s been another killing.”
Dread clutched at Wyatt’s heart and churned his stomach. He’d picked the right day to come to town since this was the very reason he’d volunteered to assist the town marshal in Topeka.
He hurried through the alleyway toward the crowd at the wooded area behind the saloon. Two women stood crying into their hands, and four men knelt around a person lying between the trees – still as could be.
“Excuse me.” Wyatt pushed people aside. “I’m a Texas Ranger. I’m here to help.”
The men lifted their heads and looked at him as they moved aside. When Wyatt strode closer, death’s foul stench hung in the air.
The young woman – who probably wasn’t much older than twenty – wore a wrinkled nightdress and was somewhat wrapped in a white bed sheet. Her lips were blue, but her face, neck, and arms were white, making the blonde hair framing her face stand out more.
Bile rose in his throat, and he gritted his teeth to keep it down. It was never easy to look at death no matter how the person left this world.
As he knelt beside her, he assessed the area carefully, checking for any signs of blood or a weapon. “Who found her?”
“I did,” whispered the young man kneeling by her head. “She disappeared last night. I never thought…” He sobbed and placed his fisted hand to his mouth.
“Has she been moved since you found her?”
“No, sir.”
Wyatt studied her closer, mainly her hands. Her nails were dirty, which struck him as odd since it appeared as she kept herself clean. He glanced on the ground around her, hoping to see anything that might indicate how she died. But the area was also clean.
He lifted his gaze to the young man. Brown curly hair blew over his eyes as the wind teased each strand.
“Are you related to the deceased?” Wyatt asked.
The man swiped the hair away from his face. “We were engaged.”
“Does her family know yet?”
The man shook his head. “No, but I’ll go fetch them now.” Tenderly, he lifted the dead girl’s hand and placed a kiss on her fingers. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he pulled away and stood.
Emotion clogged Wyatt’s throat. He knew how this man felt. Wyatt wasn’t the first man to have his heart ripped from his chest and chopped into tiny pieces, and he wouldn’t be the last man to mourn for a loved one, either. The pain was as strong today as it had been when he’d read Dr. Allen’s letter almost thirteen years ago.
What had possibly made Wyatt agree to help the town marshal find the killer? He knew the dangers of opening old wounds. But he needed to know how Marjorie died, and to make the person responsible for killing her, finally pay.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Welcome Sara Fitzgerald!

I've known Sara for years, and I'm so excited about her new Christmas story!


CONTEST!!  Leave your name and email in the comments and Sara will pick a winner and give away a copy of her book.




Ann is two-years-old and was recently diagnosed with autism.  Her parents are desperate to help her.  Ann shows great promise.  However, she needs early intervention at an expensive preschool.  Going to school could give Ann the life her parents always dreamed of for her.  But paying for the school would take a miracle, and this Christmas season, miracles seem to be in short supply.


Amazon link - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HYPSM9G/

Excerpt:

Carol eyes flickered up. “I guess it runs in the family.” Bill glared at his wife. “I’m here.” He stared at Kate. Nate gently put his arm around Kate’s shoulders. Things had always been tense between Bill and Kate. Ever since they were kids. Beth said it was like mixing vinegar with oil. Bill loosened his tie. “By the way, Kate, I don’t appreciate all these emails you send me asking for donations to fund research for autism or the ones to contact my representatives to pass the health care bill. Only email me if it is important.” Kate tensed. How dare her brother act so cold and callous about Ann and the thousands of other children with autism? “I’m sorry that my daughter having autism is such a bother to you.” She took her coat and Ann’s off the coat rack. “Nate we should leave.” Beth frantically shook her head. “No, please, stay.” Carol pasted on a bright smile. “Besides, we don’t know if little Ann really does have autism.” Tears burned in Kate’s eyes. She didn’t know which comments were more hurtful, Bill’s or Carol’s. “Actually, Carol, we do know. The top experts at the University confirmed it a few weeks ago. We must have forgotten to tell you.” Nate forced a smile. “Kate, why don’t we take a quick walk? The fresh air will do us good. Ann is with Grandpa.” Kate placed Ann’s coat back. Nate was right. She needed to cool down before she said or did something she could never take back. “Okay.” She quickly put her coat on. Beth smiled. “Take as long as you need, Sweetheart.” Kate hugged her mother. She didn’t know what she’d do without her. She couldn’t have asked for a better mom or dad. Maybe a better brother. Bill obviously didn’t care about Kate or her daughter. He would have never said those hateful, hurtful words otherwise. FIND SARA: Website - https://www.sarafitzgeraldbooks.com/ Amazon author page - amazon.com/author/sarafitzgerald

Just What the Doctor Ordered: https://amzn.to/2P1xFqy
Mine for Keeps: https://amzn.to/2r1DIBM
Darkness Within https://amzn.to/2OVF9vj

Magic Within https://amzn.to/2zoxZLb

Anything for Charity https://amzn.to/2QkVkH8

Yesterday's Wish: https://amzn.to/2FF09qT

Saving Savanna: https://amzn.to/2Sa6yeP

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Fitzgerald has a daughter with autism and was involved in getting the autism health bill passed. Sara was named Writer of the Year by the League of Utah Writers.  She is the author of the Christmas Story, Saving Savanna.

She lives with her husband and daughter in the Rocky Mountains. She enjoys spending time with her family.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Excerpt - An Agent for Cecily

I can't wait for December 7th. My next release, a historical romance that's part of the multi-author series "The Pinkerton Matchmaker" - will be released. I've sent the story out to my advanced readers, and already they're letting me know how much they love this story and they 'can't put it down'. I love it when readers tell me that!!

So here's a little teaser from my upcoming story!


There’s only one way to escape Cecily Sheldon’s insane family – take on someone else’s identity. Along with this new identity comes a new job. Of course, to become a Pinkerton Agent, she must marry a male agent who will train her. Now she needs to keep her true identity hidden from Broderick Tanner for fear he’ll arrest her along with her father and brothers. Perhaps living a double life wasn’t a good choice after all.



Excerpt:


Cecily entered the Pinkerton Agency Office, and noticed several other ladies waiting in the lobby. They appeared as nervous as she was. And thankfully, none of them were dressed for a real wedding.

Mr. Gordon’s secretary, Marianne, moved from one woman to the other, whispering something in their ear and giving them a reassuring hug. When the woman reached Cecily, she smiled and squeezed Cecily’s hands.

“You are breathtaking, Miss Livingston,” Marianne said. Her bright eyes twinkled like emeralds.

“Thank you.”

It surprised Cecily how young Marianne looked. The woman was about the same height as Cecily, and her brownish-red hair made her porcelain skin even lovelier. Marianne’s smile even comforted Cecily.

“There’s no need to worry. Mr. Gordon has teamed you up with one of Pinkerton’s finest agents. He’s a kind man and will treat you well.”

Cecily didn’t know how to reply, only because she wondered if Marianne told this to all the other women. It didn’t ease Cecily’s anxiety, but it didn’t matter. She was determined to make this her new life.

Suddenly, the group of women moved. Another door had been opened and they were ushered into a spacious area. Several handsome men stood against the wall. Most of them wore dour expressions. Cecily suspected they were not thrilled about having to marry, just as the women weren’t.

It surprised Cecily to see the room was decorated nicely with flowers and ribbons. A long table stood on one side with a white tablecloth and a line of cakes on top. She also noticed a tray of meats and cheeses. Marianne must have fixed this up to make the women agents feel more comfortable about their wedding.

Mr. Gordon stood at the head of the room. Once everyone was quiet, he started reading names, pairing the couples together.

Shifting from one fancy boot to the other, Cecily wrung her hands against her middle, waiting for her name to be called.

“Miss Cecily Livingston, and Mr. Broderick Tanner.”

The beat of her heart quickened. She was thankful that she had instructed Mr. Gordon to use her name instead of Ruth’s. As she took her first steps toward her new husband, something in the back of her memory caused her to pause. She’d heard his name before… somewhere.

On shaky legs, she moved to the front of the room alongside the other couples. Her partner walked toward her, his gaze skimming over her attire. She also looked him over from the top of his sandy brown hair, down his handsome face, broad shoulders and wide chest, admiring the way he looked in his dark gray suit jacket and trousers, black waistcoat over a white shirt, and his necktie.

When he stopped beside her, she realized how tall he was, and she had to tilt her head back to look into his face.

He offered a polite smile. “It’s nice to meet you, Miss Livingston.” He bowed slightly.

She curtsied. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Tanner.”

That name! Where had she heard it before? But it was more than just his name. He looked so familiar.

As they stood side-by-side, she peeked at him out of the corner of her eye, assessing his face, slower this time. He didn’t meet her gaze, for which she was relieved. But until she figured out how she knew him, it would drive her mad.

Mr. Tanner’s attention finally landed on Cecily, and he caught her gawking at him. This time, he looked at her differently… as if he recognized her, too.

“Forgive me, Miss Livingston, but have we met before?” he asked.

Her memory finally opened and her heart made a panicked leap in her chest. They had met! He was the lawman who came to her house in January, looking for her father. He was the lawman she’d lied to.

Inwardly, she groaned. Had she told him her real name four months ago? Although she couldn’t remember their conversation word-for-word, she was sure she hadn’t told him her name, just the names of her mother’s parents.

Cecily had been filthy that morning. Soot had covered her from her head to her feet. Her hair had been ratted and in disarray, and she probably looked like she didn’t own a brush. She’d worn an ill-fitting dress that she had sewn together from dresses which didn’t fit her any longer.

So what part of her had he recognized now?

She forced herself to breathe slower, trying not to appear too rattled by his question. “No, Mr. Tanner. I think I would remember meeting someone so blindly attractive.”

Her mind stuttered to a halt. What did I just say?

She’d heard her father and brothers flirt so many times, the words just slipped out of her mouth. If there was a hole big enough to fit her, she’d climb in it right now.

Mr. Tanner’s eyes widened. His mouth started to pull into a grin, but seconds later, it turned back into a scowl.

“Um… Thank you, Miss Livingston.”

Heat rushed to her face and she turned toward Mr. Gordon. That was an awkward moment. Cecily surmised that Mr. Tanner probably thought she was a brazen woman. She was far from it. Then again, she wasn’t a Sheldon any longer. Perhaps living as Ruth Livingston would allow Cecily to act as she’d always wanted but hadn’t dared.

The possibilities were endless… and exciting. She couldn’t wait to experience this whole new life.

Monday, November 19, 2018

NEW RELEASE - Second Billionaire Romance

I'm so excited to have book #2 in my clean billionaire romance series available for purchase. I love these two characters. There's a little humor, a little suspense and action, and a LOT of romance...

FREE on Kindle Unlimited.



Have you stared dreamily at the mouth-watering book cover long enough? Well, now it’s time to buy the book and read this hunk’s story…  https://www.amazon.com/Missing-Billionaire-Billionaires-Romance-Tycoons-ebook/dp/B07HWRPCX9/

 Zack Greyson was in the right place at the wrong time. Now he’s the FBI’s key witness in a human trafficking case against a U.S. Senator, and the senator’s henchmen are out to kill him. The FBI places Zack in protective custody and assures him they’ve sent their best agent to guard him… Or is Agent Whitney Lawson their worst agent? Because of her, Zack is discovered and they are both forced into hiding. With stakes running high in a life or death race to the trial, Zack and Whitney find their passions racing as well. Zack knows that one way or another he’s destined for entrapment… he just hopes it’s Whitney’s and not the wrong end of a bullet.



**Chapter One**


So, she botched up an assignment. It hadn’t hurt anyone. Not really. To err is human, right?

Not according to the FBI.

Agent Whitney Lawson tightened her fingers around the steering wheel as she drove slowly through John F. Kennedy International airport’s parking lot. She wasn’t here to catch a perp or even a suspect. Oh, no! That kind of assignment was way above her now. Two weeks ago she would have been undercover, or on a stakeout, or making arrests. Those were the important assignments.

But now… she was a babysitter. Seriously!

Although Zack Greyson was one of the country’s wealthiest men – according to a popular magazine – he wasn’t exactly a baby. Unless you were a love-crazy stalker and sighed baby-oh-baby, where have you been all my life when looking at his picture.

Because Whitney messed up on an assignment two weeks ago, her boss forced her to play guard-dog to a billionaire. Zack was the key witness to the trial-of-the-year in New York City and was supposed to be in hiding. Senator Sterling had been arrested for conspiracy to commit murder, for fraud, and for running a human trafficking ring.

Zack Greyson’s association with the senator had been ongoing for six years until Zack accidentally observed the senator commit two out of three of these charges. Zack was now in danger. The FBI had wanted the billionaire to enter their Witness Protection Program, but Zack had declined, stating he could hide just fine without having the FBI run his life.

Whitney rolled her eyes. Just because the man had loads of money didn’t make him the Almighty and untouchable. The FBI suspected that the senator had put a hitman on his payroll, and her unit worried that Zack might wind up dead.

She’d fought like crazy not to get this assignment, but obviously, had lost. It was now up to her to watch over Zack Greyson and make sure he was hiding well enough. But he wasn’t. If she could find him each time he moved locations, she was sure the hitman could find him.

A movement from a parked truck caught her attention. She slowed her black SUV, watching carefully as the man exited his new Chevy truck. He reached into the uncovered bed of the vehicle and grasped a forest green wheelie suitcase.

The popular celebrities’ magazines always used three words to describe him whenever they talked about Zack Greyson: tall, brawny, and gorgeous. She had her own way to describe him: arrogant, built-like-an-ox, and too conspicuous.

For someone who was trying to stay hidden from the senator’s hitman, the billionaire failed miserably. He could have at least colored his hair or worn secondhand clothes instead of designer brands. But Zack’s dark brown hair was still shoulder-length, he wore his usual classy, button-up long-sleeved shirts that somehow showed off his muscles – and drove top-of-the-line, brand-spanking-new vehicles. He grabbed a black leather jacket off the seat of his truck and shrugged it on before heading toward the terminal.

Grumbling, she circled back around the lot, hoping to find a parking stall. She had to stop him from getting on the airplane. Hopefully, between now and just before he checked in, she’d think of something clever. There was no way she could keep an eye on him if he left New York City.

Whitney found a parking place and scrambled out of the SUV as not to lose Zack. She probably looked suspicious by not having luggage, but she couldn’t worry about that right now. Her mind scrambled for a way to convince him that leaving the city was a bad thing right now, and that he really needed the FBI’s help.

Throngs of people crowded the terminal. She groaned. Finding him would be harder now.

Skimming her gaze around the different sections of the terminal, she noticed many loved ones saying good-bye to their families. Couples embraced and kissed before one of them left to enter the security section.

Because Zack had a lot of money, he’d probably checked in online, which meant he’d be in line to check in his baggage. Yes! This was what he’d be doing right now, she just knew it.

She pushed past people on her way to the baggage check-in desk. Thankfully, a long line of people stood waiting. And, standing taller than anyone was Zack Greyson.

Whitney breathed easier as relief washed over her. But what should she do now? Would walking up to him and flashing her badge be the key to convincing him not to leave?

“Oh, Tommy,” a woman nearby wailed as she threw her arms around the man in his twenties who stood in line for the security check station. “I can’t believe you’re really leaving.”

“Cami, please don’t cry.” He kissed her briefly on the mouth. “I’ll be back to get you. I just need to secure a job and find us a place to live, first.”

The curly-haired blonde woman nodded. Her make-up smeared down her cheeks from her tears. “Okay. I’ll miss you.”

He gave her one last hug before moving into the line.

Whitney rolled her eyes. She’d bet twenty-bucks that Tommy never returned for his girlfriend. Men! She would never understand them.

Suddenly, an idea struck her, and she sucked in a quick breath. Dare she do something so obnoxiously… stupid? But, she was desperate. She couldn’t botch another FBI assignment.

She hurried toward Zack, trying to psyche herself up for the ridiculous play-acting she was about to perform. Three feet away from Zack, she let out a cry and screamed his name.

Several people standing in line jumped and swung their gazes toward her. Zack looked over his shoulder, and when he saw her, his eyes widened. She wasn’t sure if he’d remember her from when her unit had talked with him two months ago, but she kept on with her performance, regardless.

“Oh, Zack,” she sobbed and launched herself against him, wrapping her arms around his neck. She was taller than most of the women in her office, but she still had to raise up on tippy-toes in order to get in a good hug this way.

“What…”

“How could you leave me like this?” she said quickly, not wanting anyone to know that she wasn’t who she proclaimed to be. “I’m sorry about our fight, Zack. I’ll do anything you want, just don’t go. Stay and we’ll work this out.”

His gaze narrowed on her, and his mouth twisted in a humorous grin. “You’ll do anything?”

She didn’t dare voice her hardened thoughts right now because of his reaction. “Anything.” She pressed her check against his – at least she tried to – and whispered, “we need to talk away from the crowd.”

Slowly, his arms wrapped around her waist as he brushed his lips over her ear. She wasn’t sure she liked how close their bodies were now… or the fact that he’d made goosebumps rise on her neck.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked in a low voice.

Whitney withdrew slightly. “Please, Zack. Tell me you’ll stay. I can’t live without you.” When she hugged him again, she said softly, “I don’t want to draw too much attention, so please do as I say. We need to talk.”

Once again, he lifted his head and peered down at her. This time, his gaze wandered over her face slowly as if he was trying to recognize her. There was a spark of interest in his teasing gaze, and she knew he’d figure out who she was eventually.

“Darling, you know I have to leave,” he said grinning widely.

She liked that he was following along, however, things were going the exact opposite of how she’d envisioned. This was not fun and games, so why was he playing like it was?

“Please, Zack…” The tone of her voice became edgier.

Tenderly, he cupped the side of her face. “Tell me you love me. Tell me I’m the only man for you.”

Whitney clenched her teeth. He’s got to be kidding! She wasn’t about to say that!

Murmurs from the people behind her encouraged her to say those three magical words. What had she gotten herself into this time? As much as she detested what was happening, she reminded herself that she did this for the badge. She was a great FBI agent, and she would not mess up another assignment.

Forcing herself to grin, she tried to get into character again. It was more difficult now than it had been a few moments ago. “I… love you, Zack. You are the only man for me.”

His expression relaxed, which made his brown eyes twinkle. “I love you too, darling.”

Before she knew what he was doing – or could stop him – he lowered his mouth to hers. The second their lips touched, the small crowd around them cheered. Good grief! Was this really happening?

Zack’s mouth moved slowly over her so gently, it took her breath away. Her heartbeat quickened and her legs suddenly grew weak. His strong arms tightened around her waist, holding her intimately against his body, and all she could do was let him kiss her. But she just couldn’t allow herself to get into the moment.

He broke the kiss, and she sighed with relief. But when his mouth moved to her ear, his warm breath on her neck made her shiver with delight.

“You started this, lady, so you’d better play along before our fans figure out the truth.”

Inwardly, she groaned. He couldn’t be serious… Yet, his mouth returned to hers and their kiss continued. Gads, he was really going to make her do this, wasn’t he?

This is for the job! She tightened her arms around his neck and kissed him. In her mind she tried to imagine the most desirable man she’d ever met, but all she could picture was Zack’s face and his dreamy, twinkling brown eyes.

His large hands slid over her back, caressing softly and bringing heat into her body until she relaxed. Against her better judgement, she participated in the bold kiss.

What had started out to be a simple kiss, turned urgent. The velvety heat from his tongue caressing hers in the most inappropriate way made her mind whirl. In fact, she felt as if she floated in his arms. The sounds of cheering slowly diminished, and all she could hear was the erratic rhythm of her heartbeat.

Just as she started to enjoy the kiss, Zack slowed down the urgency until only soft pecks were on her lips. He withdrew and stared deeply into her eyes. Dang, he was gorgeous. The phrase baby-oh-baby, where have you been all my life popped into her head.

Snap out of it, Lawson!

Blinking herself to awareness, she glanced around, preparing to meet the curious gazes of the crowd. But… they were not in line any longer. They were against a side wall in the corner. How did they get here?

“Hey,” he said sweetly. “Have you returned from that cloud you were just floating on, yet?”

Anger grew inside of her, hot and unyielding. How she’d like to slap his arrogant face for making that comment.

She huffed and shoved him away. The warmth she’d experienced being so close to him had disappeared, making her feel empty. She calmed her breathing, silently counting to ten.

Zack continued to look at her wearing a slanted grin on his handsome face. He calmly folded his arms over his wide chest and tilted his head slightly.

“So, lady… Are you going to tell me what that was all about?”

“Um, yes.” She straightened her shoulders. “I’m Agent Whitney Lawson with the FBI, and I’ve been following you for a little while.”

Zack’s pretty-boy features darkened with his scowl. “You’ve been following me? I specifically told you guys that I didn’t need your help.”

She stepped closer, giving him her FBI demeaning glare. “And you, Mr. Greyson, are the key witness in the trial of the century. You promised us that you were going to stay hidden, but look where I’ve found you.” She motioned her hand toward the long lines. “Tell me, what does hiding mean to you? Does it mean you’re out in public where everyone can recognize you? Because you obviously haven’t done anything to hide your identity.”

He grumbled and pulled out a rolled up magazine that had been in his jacket pocket. It was one of those popular tabloids. On the front cover in bold letters was written Missing Billionaire, and had his picture plastered across the cover.

“Apparently,” he said, “the world thought I was missing or they wouldn’t have published this. But now after your display a few minutes ago with everyone taking pictures and videos on their cell phones, I’m quite sure my cover will be blown. No thanks to an FBI agent, of course.”

She rolled her eyes and tried not to feel embarrassed. Was he right? Would this be all over the media, now? Inwardly, she groaned. Captain Bott would have her badge for sure on this mistake.

“Unfortunately, the mistake has been made, so now we just need to fix it.” She grasped the handle of his wheelie suitcase. “Come on, let’s go out to my SUV so we can talk in private.”

His hand gripped the handle, too. His piercing glare challenged her.

“Sorry, lady, this is your mistake, not mine. I’m getting on that plane and flying to Hawaii for some R and R.”

Her temper turned hotter. “Hmm… sorry, but you’re not. You’re coming with me.”

“And if I don’t?”

Captain Bott is going to kill me! “If you don’t, then I’ll arrest you.”

He chuckled. “For what?”

“Resisting an FBI agent, that’s what for.”

His expression softened slightly and his grin reappeared. “But I didn’t resist you, Agent Lawson. You were the recipient of my kiss, so I’d think you’d know there was no resisting at all.”

Heat flooded her face, and she was sure it was redder then a ripe tomato. She needed to calm down and talk sensibly to him. That was the only way. Either that or tell him an enormous lie.

“Zack, the truth is… We have reason to believe a hitman knows where you are.”

He gave her a nonchalant shrug. “Again? If you remember correctly Agent Lawson, I was shot two months ago, which was why the FBI thought they had to step in and help me.”

“Of course, I remember. But this time is different. He knows… eh, he knows you’re going to Hawaii. In fact,” she glanced over his shoulder toward the line at the baggage claim section, “he might be one of those people checking in their luggage.”

“If the hitman is here, why hasn’t he shot me, yet?”

“Seriously? Out here in the open where everyone could identify him? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. He’s going to wait until you’re in a quiet spot with very few witnesses. So the way I see it, you have two choices. You come with me willingly, or—” she reached behind her and unhooked the handcuffs around her belt and brought them into view, “I’ll cuff you and take you back un-willingly.”

Zack sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Fine, I’ll go with you, but,” he stepped closer, bringing his face a half-inch away from hers, “you, or the FBI, owes me a first-class ticket to Hawaii.”

She couldn’t stop the snort coming from her laugh. “Yeah, okay. Like you’re going to miss a couple hundred dollars from all your billions.”

Pushing past him, she led the way out of the terminal. Neither of them spoke as they neared her SUV, which happened to be closer than his truck.

“My truck is just over there,” he said.

She nodded. “And we’ll pick it up later.”

“No,” his voice turned sharp, “we’ll pick it up now.”

Just as she opened her mouth to argue, gunshots popped through the air from out of nowhere. Her first instinct was to protect Zack. She grasped his arm, and pulled him down, ducking behind a parked car. She fished in the back of her slacks to pull out the gun from her holster.

“Keep down,” she instructed, and she was relieved Zack did as he was told this time.

With the gun in her hand, she peeked over the edge of the car. Whoever was shooting at them was hiding really well.

She glanced toward her SUV. Only two vehicles away. They could get there. She’d make sure they arrived safely.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out the keys, and then clicked the remote to unlock the doors. “On the count of three,” she said in a quiet voice, “we’re going to run to that black SUV. Got it?”

“Yes.”

She counted it out, and together they darted toward the SUV. More gunfire came from one direction, but thankfully, they made it to the vehicle and hopped inside.

As quickly as she could, she started the car and took off. Seconds later, a white truck came into view, barreling toward them, picking up speed.

Her heart sank. Out here in the airport parking, where were they going to hide?


CLICK HERE to purchase

For more clean billionaire romances, CLICK HERE to see more stories in the series!