The Fox and the Rebound – Chapter One Sneak Peek!


I can’t believe tomorrow is finally the release day for Oliver and Piper’s story. If you’ve read the Imperfect Series, you know that we first met Oliver in Imperfectly Delicious, and he wasn’t exactly likable (at least from Scarlett and Guy’s perspective!). But I knew there was something unexpected under the surface of his prickly exterior, and I wanted to write his story. I just didn’t have the perfect heroine–yet! It wasn’t until over a year later, when I started fleshing out the Fox Family siblings that I found his match, the exact person with the right rough edges to slot into his life and soften the sharp points of his personality.

And now it’s nearly here! Keep reading for a sneak peek and click here to check out book two in the Fox Family Series: The Fox and the Rebound

She made a deal with the devil and he’s determined to collect. But when passionate sparks fly, all bets are off.

Piper Fox hates clocks. With her confidence shattered by a bad break-up, the creative welder can’t stand another minute of her debilitating artist’s block. So with time running out on her deadline, she tests a wild theory that the best way to get over a jerk is to get it on rebound-style with crazy-rich and broodingly handsome Oliver Nichols.

Oliver Nichols curates a cool facade. So when sparks fly with the stunning artist he has under contract, the eccentric billionaire does his best to stifle his reactions. And though he’s convinced love isn’t in the cards for him, ever, the lonely philanthropist can’t stay away.

Not sure how to make the next move after chickening out once before, Piper struggles to ignore her stalkery ex and keep her nose to the grindstone. While Oliver fools himself that keeping a close eye on the vulnerable metalworker is just a matter of good business, only to discover she’s somehow snared his heart.

Will the thrill of danger push them into a forever embrace?

The Fox and the Rebound Chapter One


The intercom on the corner of the desk beeps. “Mr. Nichols, Miss Fox wishes to speak with you.” 

I lift my bored gaze from the steady stream of numbers flowing across the screen and frown. “I already spoke with Finley this morning. What does she want now?”

The last conversation we had was pointless. Finley  updated me on how the cabins for the camp instructors were nearly complete, contracts for the rest of the renovations confirmed, interviews in progress, and the student quarters were on track to be finished by the end of summer—all of which I knew and I didn’t care about anyway. The worst part of the interaction was when Archer, my childhood acquaintance and business associate who now lives with Finley, thrust his way into the conversation between me and Finley to “see how things are going.” Things being code for my emotional well-being. 

“Fine,” I said, the best answer I could muster. 

He then proceeded to update me ad nauseam on the status of all his personal and professional accomplishments of late. By all appearances, and by his own declarations, Archer is happy living in a run-down house in the middle of nowhere with Finley Fox and her chaotic family. A fact I find both annoying and mystifying.

“It’s not Finley,” Carson says. “It’s Piper. Can I send her in?”

My surroundings brighten subtly, the world coming into sharp focus. 

This morning started like every other Tuesday. I got out of bed at five. Drank a high-protein smoothie before running on the treadmill for an hour. Showered. Went down to the third floor to work by precisely seven a.m. Ate avocado toast and egg whites prepared by my chef at nine a.m. It was all typical. Normal. Expected. Ordinary. Gray. Boring. 

My whole life has become a series of incremental steps and chores that don’t have any meaning and do nothing to hold my attention, yet at just the mention of Piper Fox’s name, suddenly I’m off the hamster wheel, where I’ve been running in a dark room, going nowhere, and am thrust out into the sunshine with the breeze and the trees and limitless possibilities. 

Foolish. Ridiculous. Irrational. 

Why is she here? We had a tacit understanding to avoid each other after the last time.

I shove the thought away. I can’t think of that now, not when I’m about to be confronted with her presence for the first time in three months and eleven days.

“Should I tell her you’re busy?” Carson asks.

Piper is out there, listening to the entire conversation, so I resist the urge to snap at Carson. To anyone else, he would sound professional and uninterested, but he’s teasing me. I appreciate that he doesn’t grovel or behave obsequiously, and I enjoy his brash honesty, annoying as it may be. It’s one of the reasons I stole him from his last employer and paid him extensively for the defection. 

“Send her in.” I glance around my office. 

This won’t do at all. The room is cold, sparse. No personal photos, all business. The desk is devoid of paperwork and has only a laptop. The whole setup—the stark colors, the size, the raised podium where my desk is, the way my chair is slightly elevated—is arranged to put me in a position of power, not in an obvious way but just enough that the guest subconsciously knows I’m the one in charge. 

But using these kinds of nonverbal cues on Piper rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t give me the pleasure it would with anyone else. Quickly, I move out from behind the massive black desk to the sitting area closer to the door. I reposition a file from the table to the chair, and just in time, I sit on the couch, leaving the spot next to me as the only reasonable seat left. 

Piper enters, the door shutting behind her. I take a moment to drink her in, keeping my face impassive. I’ve been a fan of her artwork for many years, and my admiration has leaked into our acquaintanceship. She is petite with delicate sprite-like features. Dark hair frames her oval face, and her eyes are large and expressive. On the surface, she isn’t out of the ordinary, but her work has absorbed my interest since the very beginning. She sees things in a way that that tugs at all the emotions I’ve managed to eliminate to get to where I am today.

I want her in a way that I can’t define. It’s a pointless, impractical, annoying desire. I built her up in my mind before we even met, when I had seen her art. That must be the reason for these feelings: artistic respect, nothing more.

“Mr. Nichols. Thank you for seeing me. I’m sorry to drop in unexpectedly like this.” 

Mr. Nichols? She spent almost an entire night wrapped in my arms, and she calls me Mr. Nichols? 

“You cut your hair,” I say.

She fingers the dark strands, which now fall slightly below her shoulders. “I’ve wanted to for a while, but I couldn’t before because…” She falters, forcing a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “Well, I just couldn’t.” She glances away.

My mind takes her words and body language apart and turns them over, examining their deeper meaning. Ben, her controlling ex-boyfriend, likely has something to do with her new hair preference and why she didn’t change it when she wanted to. 

“Please. Have a seat.” I gesture to the couch next to me.  

She walks over and perches on the edge of the seat, a white-knuckled grip on the strap of her purse. 

My gaze sharpens on the delicate shadows under her eyes. “You haven’t been sleeping well.”

The corner of her mouth twitches. “Have you?”

I’ve never slept well, a fact I inexplicably shared with Piper Fox three months and eleven days ago, in the dark of night, under the watchful glow of an ancient lamp in the Fox living room. I have been trying to erase that night from my mind, mostly by avoiding the woman sitting next to me.

I incline my head. “Touché.” 

She shifts on the seat. “Have you heard anything from—” She clears her throat. “Have they shipped any of my pieces yet?”

“I received confirmation that the scheduled pickup is Monday. They should arrive at the gallery by next week—Thursday, most likely.”

Her shoulders relax a notch. “You don’t think he’ll try anything else—delay further?”

“He can try all he likes. No one breaks a contract with me without severe consequences.” The words emerge like the slice of a knife, fast and clipped.

She blinks, flinching. 

For the best, I tell myself even as an uncomfortable thorn twists in my stomach.

She doesn’t need to say his name for me to know who she’s asking about. Ben—the aforementioned ex-boyfriend who is also her ex-manager. The man is the epitome of a weak-minded, idiotic tool. 

“Has he been bothering you?”

“No.” She opens her mouth, pauses for a second, then shuts it. 


One slim shoulder lifts. “At first, he called me every day, multiple times a day. I blocked him. Then he would use random phones. I changed my number, and he spammed all my social media and emails. Then it stopped all of a sudden. Until last week.”

My jaw tightens. “What happened last week?”

“He sent a package.”

“To Mindy’s?” Last I knew, Piper intended to stay with her sister in the city.

She nods. “The texts have started again, from a number I don’t recognize. They’re generic—just hi, how are you kind of things—but I know it’s him.” Her shoulders droop. “I don’t know how he found me or my number. I changed it.”

A whisper of unease slithers through me. “What did he send you?” 

Pink tints her cheeks. “Jewelry and clothing, a note about how he still loves me and he’s changed and wants to make it up to me. I sent it back. He’ll give up eventually if I keep ignoring him. It’s probably nothing to worry about. I tend to overreact lately, and Ben knows how to get under my skin.”

The more she speaks, the more my spine stiffens. “You are not overreacting. You should always listen to your instincts.” Concern loosens my tongue. “Mindy’s apartment—is there a doorman? Some kind of security?”


I frown. “You could stay here.”

“No.” The refusal is immediate. “I can’t do that.”

I switch tactics. “I can hire a bodyguard. Someone could be with you at all times.”

She grimaces. “Oh, no. That’s not necessary. It’s fine. Ben’s all the way across the country. Besides, I rarely leave the apartment without Mindy. Please don’t worry about it. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.” 

The urge to press the issue shoves at me, but I swallow my arguments and counterpoints. “Is that why you came here?” 

Her visit doesn’t quite track. She could have called or gotten this information from Carson. Why stop by unexpectedly only for this after months of silence?

She bites her lip, and I home in on her mouth. Her lips are perfect, pink, and heart shaped. 

“Um. Well, partly. There is one other thing I needed to… ask.” She swallows. 

I track the motion, noting the fluttering pulse in her neck, the hitch in her breath. 

She inhales and then meets my gaze, her spine straightening, her chin lifting. “I want you.”

My heart, the fractured organ long silent, thumps in my chest.

Click here to download! Releasing Friday 11/11/22!

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Between a Fox and a Hard Place – Chapter One Sneak Peek!

Only three more days until the first book in the Fox Family series goes live! I am unbelievably excited to share Finley and Archer’s story and I can’t wait for people to read and fall in love with the Fox siblings ❤

Download at your favorite retailer here: Between a Fox and a Hard Place


She’s determined to keep her family home. He won’t let his friend down. Will conflicting interests shatter their chances of happily ever after?

Finley Fox refuses to give up her life’s work. With her family’s cabin rental business at risk of going under, the eldest of five has been laboring for years to care for the property, not to mention her now grown siblings. But when a New York billionaire makes a play for the ailing resort, Finley struggles to resist her attraction to the handsome man sent to secure the deal.

Archer Weston craves stability. With his best buddy since childhood in need of a favor, the lonely businessman heads to the mountains to convince the owner to sell. But his mission hits a hurdle when his heart melts in the presence of the hardworking, beautiful woman.

With debt and sibling drama piling high, Finley fears that leaning on her irresistible guest for support could end in her own heartbreak. But as their relationship grows and intensifies, Archer is caught between his long-term loyalty and his one shot at finding his forever…

Can this unexpected couple keep both their dreams alive?

Chapter One


Happy hour. The unhappiest of all the hours.

“Where is he?” I stop on the other side of the bar, across from Veronica.

The restaurant is nearly empty. There are only a half dozen patrons in the whole place.

Jimmy and Paul are at the opposite end of the bar, grumbling at the hockey game on the flat-screen TV and sipping pints of amber liquid. Reed sits in a corner booth with Stacey. They both work in the county tax assessor’s office—a number I have memorized at this point. He nods in my direction, and Stacey waves. I manage a distracted smile.

At a table near the front entrance, an unfamiliar man is nursing a half-full beer.

My eyes linger for a second on the stranger, mostly because it’s odd to see an unfamiliar face mid-March, which is not anywhere near tourist season but also because damn. He has broad shoulders covered in a thick woolen blue flannel. His jawline is stubbled as if it hasn’t seen a razor in three days. I’ve only caught a quick glimpse of his strong features and dark hair, but I liked what I saw. His nose is slightly too big for his face, and a small scar bisects one eyebrow, but the imperfections only make the whole package more compelling and also slightly dangerous. He’s like a lumberjack: strong, beefy, possibly able to lift me with a single arm or exact vengeance on all my enemies.

If I wasn’t exhausted, teeming with frustration, and ready to murder my little brother, I might be tempted to introduce myself. Except I’m currently wearing dirty overalls, muddy boots, and probably resting bitch face.

Might not be the best idea.

“Hey, Finley. He’s out back. Rough week, huh?” Veronica winces in sympathy.

“Every week,” I murmur.

“Thanks for coming so quick. I don’t want to leave him out there to freeze his bits off when the sun sets.” She shakes her head, her long silvery-gray hair swinging with the motion. Veronica went to high school with my dad. I often hoped he would date her, since she’s a pretty sixtysomething woman, and she’s single. But it wasn’t meant to be.

I put my elbows on the scuffed wooden bar top and clasp my hands together tight, resisting the urge to bang my head against the solid surface. “The bathtub again?”

She picks up a rag, wiping off the counter to my left. “It’s his favorite resting place.”

It’s where he goes to pass out when he’s next-level drunk.

I didn’t want to deal with this today. Raccoons digging through our trash woke me up last night because Jacob didn’t close the bin all the way. I spent my morning cleaning up the mess and then the afternoon digging drainage routes through freezing dirt—which is what I was doing when Veronica called. I haven’t eaten since breakfast, and we have a few guests checked in today. I don’t have time for any of this.

When I remain silent, she adds, “Do you need help getting him out?”

I blow out a breath. “No. I’ll get him. You have customers. I just need a minute to prepare myself.”

She grimaces and leans closer, lowering her voice. “This might be a bad time, but I’m not sure there will ever be a good one.” She pauses, her gaze dipping to where my hands are still clenched before she meets my eyes. “Bernie was in here earlier with Estelle. They’re selling.”

My stomach drops. All the air is sucked out of the room. The world tilts. “No.” My mouth forms the word, but no sound emerges.

She nods, tossing the bar rag out of sight below the bar. “They want to retire next year, and they got an offer they couldn’t refuse.”

My back teeth clench. Dammit.

Bernie and Estelle have been our neighbors for as long as I’ve been alive—all thirty-two years.

If they’ve sold, this means every parcel around Fox Cottages, my family’s property, has now been acquired by the evil overlord of doom.

My fists clench against the bar. “Damn him.”

Veronica nods and clucks in sympathy. Everyone knows who he is—Oliver Nichols—some rich prick who’s been flinging his lackeys in my direction every other month to pressure me into selling my land. Lord knows why he wants to buy rural property in East Bumfuck, New York, but I will fight it to the bitter end. I have to. My home is all I have left.

A familiar surge of fury and indignation flows through me along with a healthy dose of despair.

I might not have a choice soon. Especially if my damn brother keeps drinking our nonexistent profits.

Misery leaks into the air around me, and Veronica taps my hand with a gentle finger. “You need a little something?”

I glance over at the hottie lumberjack. Yes. Yes, I do need something.

But I’ll settle for what’s realistic.

“Yes. Please.”

She grabs a glass from under the bar and pours a couple fingers of good bourbon into it. “This one’s on the house. You enjoy that before you have to deal with that man out there. He was on one today.” She chuckles.

He’s on one every day. “Thanks, Veronica.”

I’m grateful she called me. Even though I wish she would refuse Jacob service, I can’t put her in that kind of awkward position.

I take a little sip of my drink, enjoying the burn.

After a minute, Veronica walks out from behind the bar, talking to the lumberjack in a murmur, giving him his check. I strain my ears to interpret his rumbling response, but it’s too low for me to catch.

She heads back to the bar, and he tosses some bills on the table, leaving without so much as a glance in my direction.

I’m not sure if I should be disappointed that I’m invisible or relieved, considering my current appearance. There is no way I could snag a man that lickable without a few more hours of sleep and, at the very least, a half-hearted attempt at making myself presentable.

It’s been a long time. I need to get laid.

Shoving the inconvenient thoughts of my neglected libido aside, I fling back the rest of the bourbon. I have bigger fish to fry. A brother to carry home. Or at least to the truck.

Once the heat from the drink has warmed my insides, and I feel less murdery, I gird my loins and head out the back door.

The air bites at my cheeks. The sun is descending, and the trees lining the property cast gloomy silhouettes.

About thirty feet away, resting in the corner of the property under a bony maple, sits an abandoned bathtub. Jacob’s tawny-brown hair flicks in the breeze just above the lip of the tub.

I pick my way over the gravel and dead grass, skirting patches of snow lingering in the shadows, refusing to melt.

Perching on an old stump next to him, I wait.

He’s been worse since his birthday—he just turned twenty-five. I wish it was your typical quarter-life crisis, but it’s more than that.

His face is serene in slumber, not at all like that of a man who lost his twin sister at fifteen and hasn’t fully recovered. He looks so young and so much like Aria it nearly takes my breath away. He has the same stubborn chin, aquiline nose, and thin lips they inherited from Dad.

A loud snore rips out of him, echoing around us.

Just perfect.

Time to wake up Sleeping Beauty.

I push on his shoulder.

The snore cuts off, and his eyes blink open. A sleepy grin takes over his face. “Hey, Fin.”

“Hey, Jake.”

His smile droops, his glazed eyes shuttering.

And then he’s snoring again.

I smack his cheek. “Jacob. Wake up. We need to get to the truck, and I can’t carry your heavy ass.”

He groans.

I stand, lean over him, grab both of his hands, and yank him upward. He barely shifts. “C’mon.”

He glares up at me. “I’m tired, Finley.”

“Stop whining and get up. You can sleep when we get home.”

“I don’t want to go home.” It’s like he’s five. All the thoughts about how sweet he looked as he slept die a quick and painful death.

“You can’t sleep here.”

“Why not?”

“Uh, because it’s cold and uncomfortable and because I said so.”

He moans again but at least makes a half-hearted effort to stand. It takes a few minutes of tugging and cajoling, but eventually, I’ve got him out of the tub and on his feet—wobbly feet—but progress is progress.

We shuffle around the side of the squat wood building, Jacob’s arm around my neck.

I keep my gaze focused on our faded-green pickup truck while he drags his feet, his weight heavy across my back, his boots running into mine as he stumbles next to me.

We’re crossing the entrance from the main road when he comes to an abrupt halt.

“Wait.” The word slurs out of his mouth. Then he bends over, dragging me down with him, and throws up all over both our shoes. He sinks the rest of the way to the ground.

“Shit.” This is not happening. I tug on him, holding my breath. “Jacob, get up.”

He doesn’t move, lying on the asphalt, a boneless lump of stank.

I glance around. At least there aren’t any witnesses to this humiliation.

I grab his arm again and yank. “Come on, we have to move out of the way. We’re blocking the entrance.”

“It’s fine.” He relaxes even more against the hard ground. “Comfy here.”

“It’s not fine. Jacob. If you don’t move your ass, I’m going to kick it.”

No response.

“I’ll tell the whole town about that time you microwaved your pee.”

“No, you won’t,” he murmurs, eyes still shut.

I don’t know whether to cry, scream, stomp him with my vomit-covered shoe, or all three.

A car pulls halfway into the lot, coming to a halt a few feet away—the tail end of the vehicle sticking out onto the main road.

“Just perfect,” I mutter. “Jake, get up!” I yell directly into his ear.

He doesn’t even flinch.

Standing, I turn toward the driver of the vehicle and lift my arms in the universal symbol for “I don’t know.”

They honk.

I lift my arms again. “You want to come out here and help me?” I call out, but their windows are rolled up, so I’m not sure if they can hear me or if they care.

They honk again.

Nope. They don’t care.

Why me? Why can’t I have a normal life where things go right once in a while instead of everything always going from bad to worse to absolute hell?

I’m so sick of the constant anxiety and tension and stress—I don’t think I can take it anymore.

As if summoned by my defeatist thoughts, another car pulls up behind the first, and they both start honking, one after the other, a chorus of impatience.

Hysterical laughter gurgles up and bursts out of me.

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If I Could Turn Back Time – Chapter One

I can’t believe this book is coming TOMORROW!!! Where does the time go?

I’m so excited to share a sneak peek of chapter one. This is the PERFECT book for this time of year and spooOoOky Halloween!! It’s set in October, it’s sort of creepy (but not really), it’s full of mystery, steamy romance, a ferocious feline named Bob, and time traveling shenanigans!

Available at all retailers here!: If I Could Turn Back Time


She’s a spectral cynic. He’s a time traveler racing the clock. 

Amelia Peters doesn’t believe in ghosts. After outing her late paranormal investigator parents as con artists, the natural skeptic wants nothing to do with anything even supposedly spooky. But her long-held disbelief in the supernatural crumbles when she inherits a small-town cabin… and keeps bumping into a handsome specter in the night.

Shaken by the mysterious hunk’s disturbing ability to vanish into thin air, Amelia is stunned to discover he’s no ghost, but a traveler who has slipped through time… and is destined to die within days. When their relationship takes an intimate turn, she vows to save his skin. But altering history means confronting her own guilty secrets first.

Can they undo the mystical mayhem scaring away their happily ever after, or will the time-space continuum keep them apart forever?

Chapter One

“What if I have family?” I glance over at Bob, lounging in the passenger seat like the lazy dictator she is. She flicks her orange striped tail with annoyance. 

“Can you imagine? Aunts, uncles, maybe even cousins my age.”

She yawns, baring her tiny feline teeth in my direction. 

“Then I could have conversations that are reciprocal instead of me talking to you, and you thinking you’re better than me.” 

She stretches, flopping back against the seat. 

“You’re right. You are better than me. You might be my pet, but I am your obedient servant.” I slow the truck, removing my foot from the gas as we enter town limits. “We’re almost there.” 

I swallow, palms slick on the steering wheel. The nerves thundering through me are a direct contrast to the quaint, wholesome, all-American small town surrounding us. 

The estate attorney’s office is at the other end of town, according to my GPS. I gaze out the front window of the truck, one eye on the road in front of me, the other taking in downtown Mystic Falls. It’s like driving through a movie set. One of those heart-warming dramedies with B-list actors, kids on bikes delivering newspapers every morning, and tree lined streets.

The brick storefronts are stacked closely together, wooden walkways running in a long line in front of them.  Red and yellow trees march in a colorful procession down the street. Halloween decorations pepper windows, skeletons and mummies. The occasional witch and giant black spider perches on stretched cotton webbing. 

A mountain rises in the distance, fat, fluffy clouds hanging above it in the bright blue sky.

I park behind a sleek black BMW, my ancient red pickup belching to a stop and clashing with the surroundings like a wart-covered troll in the middle of a picturesque meadow.

I take a deep breath. 

Focus on the next steps. One thing at a time. 

Restored Victorian-style homes line the street, all of them remodeled into businesses for a salon and spa, a coffee and tea shop, and a real estate office. A bronze placard reading Stone & Stone hangs on a home with blue and white trim. 

“Time to get into the carrier, Bob.” My voice wobbles with rising anxiety.

 What if I do have family, and they hate me? After all, Mr. Stone, the attorney, wasn’t surprised when I told him Dad never talked about my grandfather.

Your father and grandfather had a strained relationship, he’d said in apologetic, soothing tones. 

Ha. Strained relationship. That implies there was some kind of connection. Communication. Not complete silence. There was no relationship. Dad never mentioned his family. Neither did Mom. Ever. And when I asked, I would get the brush off or they would change the subject. Maybe I should have pushed harder, but, well, it’s too late now. 

I glance at the clock. It’s only two, and the appointment is at three. I’m early. But maybe I can get this over with and get up to the cabin before dark. 

I pull the carrier from the narrow backseat of the pickup, taking a moment to glance over the boxes stuffed in the bed of the truck. They hardly shifted the entire drive from LA to Northern California. I packed everything I own—which isn’t much—along with what’s left of my parents’ belongings, mostly notebooks and trinkets and things they collected over many years of traveling. 

I’m used to being a minimalist. We moved around a lot when I was growing up and nomadic lifestyles do not lend themselves to accumulating anything but the bare necessities.

Bob meows at me a few times in protest before climbing in. “Sorry. You know it’s better than the alternative.”

The alternative would be leaving her in the truck. And while the weather is mild enough that it wouldn’t be a safety issue, Bob goes a little berserk if I leave her in a confined space and I’m not within her line of sight. She’s a tad protective. 

I take just a second to glance at myself in the rearview mirror. My long dark hair is greasy and yet somehow also frizzy. My hazel eyes are puffy, outlined by gray smudges from a lack of sleep, but there’s no helping it now. 

Here we go.

A bell jangles overhead when I step inside.

Dark green wallpaper and mahogany trim greet me as soon as I enter the foyer. A narrow staircase on the left leads up to the second story, but the stairs are closed off with a thick burgundy rope. To the right is a closed door, to my left an open office space.

A woman with a bright and friendly smile pops out from behind a large maple desk to greet me.

She’s petite and dressed in an impeccably pressed bright blue pantsuit. She’s probably close to my age, mid to late twenties max. Her curly hair is pulled back, a few dark chocolate strands popping out to frame her face. 

“Hello. You must be Amelia Peters.”


“Lexi Stone.” I shake her outstretched hand, hoping my palm isn’t sweaty as she gives me a firm and quick handshake. “Did you drive up from L.A. today?” 

I nod. “I left this morning.”

Her dark brows lift. “That’s a long drive.”

I shrug. “Nine hours.”

Her eyes dip to the carrier in my hand and she bends down. “And who is this?”

“This is Bob.” 

At the sound of her name, Bob yowls. 

Lexi laughs and reaches toward the crate door. “Hi, Bob.”

Bob hisses and swipes fully extended claws in her direction.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” I yank the carrier away even as Lexi backs up a step. “Bob isn’t great at first impressions.”

But Lexi just waves me off. “I need a cat like that. Where did you get him?”

“Her. I rescued her from a trash can in Iowa when she was just a kitten.”

It was the first time I really fought with my parents. Animals aren’t easy to take care of when you spend your life on the road, but Bob had no one else. I couldn’t leave her.

“Bob is a girl, huh? I like that.” She grins. “You can bring her in here while you wait. Dad should be ready in just a few minutes.”

“It’s fine. I know I’m a little early.” I follow Lexi into her office. 

“Sit wherever you like. Would you like some coffee or something?”

“Coffee would be great.” I perch on the couch across from her desk and put Bob on the seat next to me.

While she gets the coffee from a side table, I take in the space. It’s mostly neat, some stacks of papers and files on the desk. A couple of framed diplomas line the wall. One photo is angled on the corner of the desk. It’s a close-up selfie of Lexi with a man. Their cheeks are squished together, their mouths open in laughter, their eyes crinkled shut. It’s goofy and a contrast to the professional surroundings. Funny. Lexi is pretty and she seems nice. It tracks that she would have a hot boyfriend or husband or something. 

And I’m alone. All alone.

Stop being melodramatic, Amelia. 

Bob grumbles next to me as she settles, like she can sense my thoughts.

I do have Bob. That’s something, I guess.

But maybe it’s all about to change. Maybe I do have family. Maybe they’re just not here yet. 

I open my mouth to ask but Lexi speaks. “Cream or sugar?”

“Uh, both. Please.”

It’s silent except for the faint jingle of the spoon in the ceramic mug. 

My heart pounds as I clear my throat and ask the question that’s been circling in my mind all day. “Are we waiting on anyone else?” 

She hands me the mug and then shakes her head with a smile. “Nope. Just you. You’re the sole heir.”

The words drop like stones, piling in my stomach.

Other people might be happy to be the sole heir, to not have to share their inheritance. Not me. I wish this room were full of people vying for a fortune. I’d take anyone. Nefarious aunts, creepy cousins, uncles who embellish family stories and hug you just a little too long. Well, maybe not that last one.

“I mean, I guess you aren’t the sole heir. The historical society and a representative from the church were both here the other day for their portion. But the rest is yours. Not that you need it. I heard they’re making a movie from your life.” She flashes a quick, bright grin. quick grin is bright and curious. “Congratulations on all your success.”

“Yeah. Thank you.” I attempt to muster a pleased expression. A book deal. Movie rights. It’s the dream, right? My happy act must not be convincing because Lexi’s smile falters.

Ill-gotten gains. The phrase lives rent-free in my head, circling like a vulture over a carcass, periodically taking bites. 

My parents were world-renowned paranormal investigators before they died. I published a story about one of their cases from when I was a kid. I’d wrote it in a moment of guilt, trying to work through my pain, not thinking anything of it beyond that. I’ve written hundreds of other articles about random things as a freelance writer, and not once did I have anything go viral.

Until that damn story.

The door by the entrance swings open. 

“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.” Mr. Stone’s voice is rough with age and experience. 

He has white hair, a friendly lined face, and gold-rimmed glasses. His dark suit and blue tie matches Lexi’s pantsuit.


“Your three o’clock is here, Dad,” Lexi tells him. 

I stand and move toward him to shake his hand. 

“Ms. Peters. Thank you for making it today.”

“Are you Gregory’s granddaughter?” the woman standing next to him asks. She’s probably about the same age as Mr. Stone, maybe early to mid-seventies. Her hair is white, pulled back into a soft bun exposing luminous pearl earrings and a matching necklace. She holds a cane in one hand, dark wood, delicately carved but sturdy and thick, the head of some kind of animal with jeweled eyes. Old money might as well be tattooed on her forehead.

“I guess I am.”

Her eyes soften even as her smile widens. “I knew him well. My husband’s family sold the cabin’s property to your grandfather when your father was just a baby. Oh, I’m forgetting my manners. I’m Claire Blake.”

She reaches out her hand for me to shake and her grip is as delicate as a hummingbird, a contrast to the forcefulness of Lexi and Mr. Stone. 

“It’s nice to meet you.”

“Your grandmother was a friend as well. She’s been gone now nearly twenty years, you know, God rest her soul. If you ever want to join me for coffee and pie to hear stories of your family, my house is open.”

“You definitely don’t want to turn down Claire’s famous strawberry rhubarb.” Mr. Stone pats his stomach and grins.

“I make them from scratch using fruit from my garden.” 

I cling to the idea–stories of my family, making friends. It’s better than the nothing I’ve got now. Maybe we’ll start a smutty book club or something. “Thank you so much. I would really appreciate that.”

One-handed, she smoothly retrieves a business card from her clutch and hands it to me. It’s heavy, cream, expensive paper with her name and phone number. 

“Any time, my dear.” She pats my arm. 

“Would you like help out to your car, Claire?” Lexi offers.

“Yes please,” she says before turning back to me. “My son is waiting for me. It was a pleasure to meet you.”

“You, too.”

I grab Bob and then follow Mr. Stone into his office, the ambience a continuation from the entry, all masculine colors and chunky furniture.

Bookshelves take up the entire wall behind his desk, the leather-bound tomes lending everything an authentic, rich, antique vibe. Everything is pristine and yet somehow also well worn, like it has some sort of history. Multiple pictures of family sits on his desk, Lexi, and what must be his wife. A family photo features a large group of people in matching shirts like it’s a reunion. People don’t know how lucky they are. 

I sit in a leather seat across from him and try to pay attention while he reads the details of the inheritance. 

My grandfather left his main property, which was within the town’s historic district, to the city. Money and most of his other assets went to the church.

My portion is a small cabin just outside of town, up an unmarked road in the woods sitting on fourteen acres. 

The only stipulation is that I have to live in it for one year. It’s completely paid off. I only have to cover property taxes, insurance, utilities, and general maintenance and upkeep. 

“You can stay for the year?” 

I nod quickly. “Yes.” Hopefully longer. Hopefully forever. 

So I don’t have any family. So what? I’ve been alone for years now. Maybe this small town is where I can find my family. Establish roots. LA never felt like home. It felt like a city full of individuals who cared only about themselves and how things appeared, not how they were. 

Once he’s finished listing all the legal details, I sign the paperwork. 

“Lexi has the directions and all the keys. She’ll let you know exactly what to expect when you get up there.”

“Thank you.” 

“There is one other thing you should be aware of.” His expression is somber. “Not because it’s a problem, but because in a town this small a lot of people like to talk, and it’s not always accurate.”

“Okay.” I brace myself. What could this be about? 

“Your grandfather used the property as a rental for a short time.” He pauses, his mouth turning down.

“Is someone still living there?” Or were they, and then they got evicted because of me? That’s a lovely way to make a fresh start in a new place, by getting people kicked out of their homes.

“No, no, nothing like that. It’s been vacant for going on three years now. Your grandfather had a hard time leasing it after the last renter—” He clears his throat, takes off his glasses, and sets them on the desk before meeting my eyes. “There’s no easy way to say this, but he died there on the property.” 

Keep reading here! Releasing 10/29/2021

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Time of My Life – Chapter One

I can’t believe there are less than two weeks until Time of My Life is released! Eeeeeeek!

As per usual, sneak peek of chapter one below for those who are interested 🙂


Today is the worst day of Jane Stewart’s life. And she’s reliving it over and over (and over and over) again.

She’s late to the same make-or-break meeting.

She’s fired from the same soul-crushing job.

And—the cherry on top—she’s dumped by the same lying, selfish dirtbag.

But no matter how many times she relives the same disasters and no matter what she tries to change them, it all ends in the same abysmal mess. Because, apparently, being stuck in a time loop on the worst day of her life hasn’t cured her crippling social anxiety. Go figure.

The one bright spot? Her long-time crush wants to be more than friends . . . if only she can get them past their first date. And so her happily ever is doomed before it can even begin unless she can find a way to save her job, her heart, and, oh yeah, the space-time continuum.

Purchase here!

So we are all prepared, this story has:

  • A main character with social anxiety having a terrible day
  • A Groundhog’s Day-esque time loop
  • A magic closet
  • Lots of laughs and awkward situations
  • Drag queens
  • A happy ending!

Enjoy ❤

Belching. Someone is belching. Ugh, why is it so loud? 

I roll over, pulling a pillow over my head. Pounding bass vibrates into my skull, shaking the walls. My pillow is not an effective barrier. 

What is that? 

Did he say hocus-pocus?

Is someone in my apartment? They broke in just to pass gas and play music at excessive levels? 

Is it my alarm? Oh no, it’s Monday.

I jerk up, already reaching for my phone to kill the noise, plucking it from the charging cord. 

Wakefulness weaves its fingers through my sleepy mind. My heart thumps along with the music.

I stare at the blank screen. I barely slept last night. It took me forever to fall asleep, worrying over my meeting today, trying to think through every potential response and outcome. My dreams were full of everything that might possibly go wrong, from missing my notes to arriving late to showing up naked.

The memories fade as reality rushes in to take its place.

My phone is dead.

“That’s not my alarm. My alarm didn’t go off,” I croak to the empty room. 

The music is still thumping. 

I stare at the dark phone screen. I always leave it charging to avoid this exact scenario.

“Oh, no. No no no no no.” I rush out of bed, forgetting the cell phone mystery, skidding into the kitchen to stare at the clock on the oven.

It’s nearly eight.

“This isn’t possible.”

Someone bangs on the door. Maybe the world is ending. That would be good. If there’s some kind of disaster situation—a building fire, a tsunami incoming, aliens invading the planet, maybe—that would be the perfect excuse for being late for the most important meeting of my existence.

I swing open the door, but no one’s there.

“Hugo! Come on, man, it can’t be that bad.”

I peek around my doorjamb. I don’t want anyone to witness me in this state, no makeup, my hair a dark mass of chaos, not to mention the bright blue ducky pajamas, a gift from my sister, Eloise. But I can’t help staying to witness . . . whatever this is.

A portly middle-aged man with thinning hair in a bright red robe stands in front of the door next to mine. I don’t know his name, only that he resides in the apartment across the hall from mine.

I generally avert my gaze to avoid small talk when I pass any of the other residents in my building, so I don’t know much about any of them. Based on the masculine laughter—and other noises that sometimes penetrate the thin walls—I know my next-door neighbor is gay. But that’s as far as it goes. I’m not good at small talk. Or any talk. 

But now I unwittingly know my next-door neighbor’s name.


It’s fitting, considering his huge size. He’s a goliath of a man, wide and tall. Body builder maybe. Football player. Possible assassin. Fearful, by all accounts. Except in his choice in music. While loud and pounding, “sparkle me” rapped over and over doesn’t exactly inspire fear. 

As the music hammers through the air with no response to the knocking, red-robe man pounds harder. 

“It’s Monday! I have a call in thirty minutes. Help me out here, huh?”

Monday. Meeting.

Oh, crap. 

I slam the door and rush to the bathroom, racing through my morning ablutions, pitching my ducky pajamas into the hamper. No time for anything more than peeing and scrambling into the clothes I set out the night before, a sensible pale pink blouse and slimming black slacks. I toss a small bag of makeup into my briefcase on top of my proposal. Then I’m out the door, running to the BART station on the corner to catch the next train.

I barely make it in time, the doors shutting behind me as I squish in between a redheaded woman in a hot pink T-shirt and bright yellow pants and a man in an Armani suit on his cell phone, one of his hands clutching the pole in the center of the car. 

Once the train is in motion, I grab my phone from my bag and hold down the power button. Maybe it needs a reset or something. If I can call the office, let them know I’m going to be late, make some excuse, maybe I won’t have a panic attack on the train surrounded on all sides by strangers. 

I shake my head and take a breath.

Focus, Jane. Phone. Work. Important meeting. But thinking about the upcoming meeting doesn’t calm me. Instead, my heart races, my stomach twists into knots, black spots crowd the corners of my eyes, and my hands shake.

I breathe and stare at my phone until my vision clears and I can focus on pressing the power button down. It’s not working. I take a deep, calming breath—and choke on the fumes from the cologne of the businessman next to me, earning me dirty looks from the rest of the passengers.

“Sorry,” I cough into my hand.

I spend the rest of the train ride using a compact to try and fix my face and hair, but in the cramped train car it’s an exercise in futility. Business man is on the phone the entire time, yelling about assets and liabilities and bitcoins, all while waving his free hand and smacking into my elbow while I’m attempting to put mascara on. I end up swiping a thick line of black under my cheek and poking myself in the eye three times. Finally, I give up. 

The train jerks to a stop, forcing me to grab on to the pole under business man’s hand and . . . ick. There’s something on there. It’s wet. I lift my hand. And it’s brown. 

Please, universe, let that be chocolate.

I sprint through the train station and up the stairs, wincing at the waft of sewer stench as I reach the street, dodging people and holding my dirty hand away from my body. I have nowhere to wipe it. Ugh. Why is my nicest, most professional blouse also pale pink?

Mother. That’s why.

The office is a block from the station and I jog down the cracked sidewalk, my hair working itself into a truly remarkable frizzed-out halo surrounding my head. Of course I forgot to grab a hair clip.

When the glass-front entrance of the building comes into view, I nearly sob in relief. Almost there.

I’ve worked with Blue Wave Marketing for nearly four years. This meeting is going to determine whether I can be a senior marketer. It’s what I’ve been working toward, handling my own accounts, running my own campaigns. I can’t let one broken phone ruin everything. 

I’m ten minutes late. What if they use this as a reason to reject my proposal? What if they decide they can’t have a senior marketer who arrives late to important meetings? What if they laugh at me and call me a ridiculous waste of space? What if—

Stop it, Jane. 

I push through the front door and immediately get a disgusted look from Hannah, the front desk executive. She flips a sleek length of blonde hair behind her shoulder and avoids my eyes.

Blue Wave is all about giving people advanced titles, and “receptionist” is much too demeaning. So front desk executive it is. 

The entire office space exemplifies feng shui, open, airy, light, except for a cramped coffee station in the back that’s cluttered with ten different espresso machines Brandon keeps ordering for reasons I still don’t understand. There are two hallways on either side of the employee area, one that leads to a storeroom and bathroom, and on the other side, the conference room where I’m sure management is waiting for me.

Directly behind Hannah, all of the employees are spread out, no cubicles, all open space with individual desks. Even the team leaders sit among the rest of the crew because they believe in putting everyone on equal footing, regardless of title. 

I’m not a junior marketer, I’m a “student” marketer. Because according to Blade, we are all learning. It’s crap, but whatever.

“Hannah, please.” I don’t want to beg, but I have no other choice. “Can you tell the team that I’m here and I’ll be in shortly?”

She purses her enhanced lips, nose wrinkling in disdain.

Oh no, does my hand . . . smell? I sniff the brown gook and she glares at me like I’ve started licking the desk in front of her.

“I’m not your secretary. Tell them yourself.”

Hannah has never been my biggest fan, but she’s been especially rude for the past few months. I’ve racked my brain to figure out what I did, what stupid thing I might have said, and while there are many options, I still don’t know what her deal is and I haven’t asked. I hate confrontation with anyone, but with Hannah, who’s naturally aggressive? I would rather rub naked against splintered wood.

Presley, another student marketer who has only been here a few months, pipes up from behind her. “I got it, Jane. You look like you need a sec.”

Relief and nerves make my voice quiver. “Thank you, Presley.”

She nods and strides away toward the hall to the conference room, her dark ponytail swinging behind her.

In the bullpen, Mark is tossing a stress ball back and forth with Brandon, brainstorming ideas for a campaign. He catches my eye and gives me a wink.

Face heating, I force out a weak smile, then race to the restrooms, running through a list in my head of what I need to do. Wash my hands first and foremost, fix my hair, take some deep breaths—“Oh!” I collide with someone coming around the corner. My hand lifts during the impact, which means—the brown gunk on my hand is now on whoever I just ran into. 

“Oh no.”

Alex. It had to be Alex.

Strong hands grip my arms in a steadying hold. “Jane. Oh. What is this?” He’s eyeing the brown spot on his worn-out Led Zeppelin T-shirt with a mixture of confusion and revulsion.

“BART incident.”

His bright green eyes meet mine, filling with amusement, and then he smiles. The world spins to a stop and my heart flip-flops in my chest. 

Alex is my not-so-secret crush, a fact that has me turning bright red every time he comes within a sixty-foot radius. 

And now, he’s touching me.

“Ah. You were on your way to mitigate the situation.” He releases me, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans and inclining his head in the direction of the bathrooms. 

“Think of yourself as collateral damage.” I smile and heat floods my face. I managed to say something without sounding like a total dork, so of course I’m going to turn bright red. 

Despite the fact that Alex and I have worked closely together for months, I still can’t keep my shit together around him. And it’s worse now, after what happened in the storage closet right behind him.

Don’t think about it, Jane. Don’t remember or you’ll make it worse.

It’s not apparent at first glance, but Alex is kind of a big deal. He started developing gaming apps as a teenager and made his first million just this past year.

About six months ago, he hired Blue Wave to help him market his newest releases. I was on his team initially, but then, of course, I screwed it up and was transferred off his team two months ago. Since then, I only see him when he stops by the office for meetings or to drop things off or whatever business he has now.

It’s for the best, really. If I don’t see him every day, then I can’t waste my time imagining running my hands through his shaggy hair, which is eternally a week away from needing a haircut. I also can’t think about what it would be like to bite that spot at the side of his jaw, just under his ear, or what his perfectly symmetrical lips would feel like against mine.

Nope. Can’t spend time on any of that, because it’s like wishing on a star, or buying a lotto ticket, or forwarding a chain email to obtain true happiness. Nice in theory, but impossible in reality. 

“I get it, I’m damaged goods,” he says with a grin.

I chuckle and try to rein in my galloping heart rate. “Yeah, you’re a hot mess.” I wave a hand. “I-I’m kidding. I’m just giving you a hard-on.” The world freezes to a halt.

Our eyes lock.

His brows lift.

I replay the words in my head. Nope. “Hard time!” And now I’m yelling at him. “Hard timeNot hard-on.” The heat in my face is an inferno. A volcano. My head might erupt.

Alex is laughing his ass off while I die inside slowly. I try to force out a laugh. I can laugh at myself, it’s why I’m still somewhat functional, but really, I would rather cry.

Why is it so hard for me to talk to him without making a fool of myself?

“Oh, Jane.” He wipes his eyes. “I miss talking to you.”

My heart leaps in my chest before making a crash landing. He’s the one who asked for me to be removed from his team. 

I liked Alex in a more than professional way, and I’m sure that’s why I was taken off of his team. He would never say so, of course. He’s too nice to tell me to my face how much I embarrassed myself.

My face burns even hotter.

It doesn’t matter. I have a boyfriend now. Mark. Even though we’ve never gone on an actual date, we’re sort of together—I mean, we’ve been sleeping together for the past two months, so we’re something. Definitely something. Even though I’m not sure I like Mark.


I kick thoughts of Mark away.

Alex smiles at me when the laughter dies down. “I won’t keep you. You have a pitch or something today, right? For the senior marketing job?”

“Oh, yes. And unfortunately, I’m late.”

“I’m sure you’ll do great.”

“Thanks, Alex. You’re a good friend.”

And that’s all he’ll ever be. Guys like him don’t go for women like me. Especially after I smeared what may or may not be excrement all over him.

His smile slips a little, or I imagine it does, because it’s just a second and then it’s as bright as ever. “Good luck.” He has dimples. 

Ugh, so cute.

Washing up in the bathroom, I glance in the mirror and groan. I look like I went through a typhoon to get here. I can’t believe Alex saw me like this. I attempt to straighten my crazy hair and clean the mascara off my cheek. 

And then I take one final, deep breath before picking up my briefcase and heading out the door.

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Nerdelicious – Chapter One


Nerdelicious is coming! A little sooner than anticipated even!

I updated the release to 10/30/2020 and that has gone through ALMOST everywhere (only Barnes and Noble has not updated, but they have been having some issues lately–hopefully it will update there soon, but I cannot say for sure if it will in time for release). To pre-order, click here!

As is customary, the first chapter is available here and now 🙂 Enjoy!

Chapter One

“I was born to be a ninja.”

–Overheard at Comic-Con

I squint in the low light, the hazy outline of the man in front of me coming into focus. 

This is it. I’m going to kiss someone other than Jack. 

And his name is Dave. 


Dwayne? I can’t remember.

He’s good looking. I think. I can’t tell anymore. Maybe it’s because I chugged that last drink, but he vaguely resembles Tom Holland, if Tom Holland were thicker, softer, and looked nothing like . . . Tom Holland.

We face each other in the darkened strip of space between a fence and the side of a house. Thirty feet away, music thumps and laughter echoes from the backyard, the soundtrack to this poorly constructed seduction. The only illumination comes from a solitary window behind me, casting a yellow square at my feet.

I stare at Dave/Dan/Dwayne as he leans closer, random thoughts pinging back and forth in my mind like a drunk pinball machine. 

Do cows dream?

Remember to breathe. This is happening. 

His lips are warm. 

This is nice. Isn’t it?

If they do dream, do they do it all standing up?

Jack was a decent kisser. I think. 

Maybe this isn’t so nice. He smells a little weird, like beer and cologne and sweat, but I can’t really pass judgment. I’ve been drinking and running around and probably smell a little whacked myself.

His mouth opens and it’s . . . oh, no.

This is not good. Too much saliva. It’s like a wet snake sliding between my lips. His tongue jackknifes into my mouth, and I can’t take it anymore.

I yank away. “Hold up there, Casanova.” I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand. Ick.

He reaches for me with sweaty man-paws, grabbing me by the waist and pulling me against him. “Don’t be shy. I’m hurting so bad for you.” 

He’s hard. I know it’s supposed to be sexy, his arousal pressed against me and all that, but it’s not. It’s just weird. Not right. Off. Bad. Peculiar. Discombobulating. Catawampus. Pick an adjective.

My arms are folded between our bodies and I use them to press away, but his grip tightens. 

“I’m not shy.” You can call me a lot of things, introvert, weirdo, geek, a total fandom-obsessed nerd, but I’m definitely not shy. What I am is pissed off because he still won’t let me go. “I don’t like being stabbed in the face hole like you have a problem with mouths and you want to murder them with your tongue.”

His whole body goes rigid. Hmmm. This may have been a bad choice for my first make-out session post-Jack. 

“You’re going to criticize me?” He pulls away. The better to spew his insults in my face. “At least I’m not a girl named Fred.”

“I’m not a girl, I’m twenty-two and a woman, fuck you very much. I just wanted to make out with someone and now you’re ruining it with puerile insults.” 

He stills for a few long seconds, a wall of tension, and then his shoulders relax. An arm slides around my waist. “I’m sorry, baby, I just want to please you.” He leans closer, kissing my ear. His mouth is . . . moist

What? Baby? This guy is giving me whiplash but I’m almost too buzzed to care.

Maybe I should let Slobber Man kiss and grope and have his way with me, just to get it over with. I mean, he sucks, but I’ll be moving on from Jack. Which is what I wanted, right? Isn’t that why I came here? 

Slobber Man. More the moniker of a villain than a superhero. His power is drowning people in spit.

I snort a laugh while his hands move up my waist, going for the goods with all the finesse of an off-balance T. rex. 

He claws at my breast, and all thoughts of giving in and just letting it happen flee. Nope. Can’t do this. I shove him away, taking two giant steps back and coming up against the side of the house.

He lunges forward faster than I thought possible, considering his current state of sobriety. He sets an arm on either side of my head, his hips pushing into mine, trapping me.

I can’t believe this is happening. My life has become a hackneyed script, like the writers’ room has run out of ideas and decided, Yes, it would be a great idea to make the Mother of Dragons go abruptly Mad Queen in the last five minutes, sure sure sure. 

He moves in to kiss me and my arms pop up, shoving at his chest. “Back up or my knee will be meeting your ball sack.”

I’ll have to remember to thank my parents for forcing me into self-defense classes before they allowed me to take the subway. 

“You’re feisty.” He remains unconcerned, crowding me again. 

“I’m serious.” I raise my voice, jerking my head away from his sodden seduction. “Back. Up.” I’m nearly yelling now. 

My whole life, I’ve been prepared to defend myself from muggers on the streets of New York City. But it’s here, in small town Texas, where everyone leaves their doors unlocked and children skip around unattended and safe, that I get cornered by a drunken asshat. 

As I raise my knee in preparation for an instep stomp, the pinballs in my brain finally come to a stop on one question.

How did it come to this? 

Three hours earlier . . . 

“Fred, girl, you get on down here and let that no-good ninny die!” Granny hollers up at me.

I grit my teeth and pull myself farther along the plank, inching toward my goal. “No.”

“It’s just a dumb bird.”

I glance down at her from my precarious position, arms and legs wrapped around an eight-inch beam, clutching it with both arms and legs like it’s all that hangs between me and death. And it sort of is. The rope around my waist for “security” is tethered to a hook on the wall and anchored by a fourteen-year-old girl. The only thing between me and certain death is a teenager and a rope. 

As someone born and raised in Brooklyn, I never imagined I would find myself rescuing a chicken who’d somehow gotten herself stuck up on a crossbeam inside of a barn. But here we are, hovering over a mishmash of moonshine-making stills and accoutrements. 

I scooch closer to the fowl. She stares at me, amber feathers twitching, head jerking, copper eyes flashing. 

She’s just out of reach. I grit my teeth. “Kylo Hen is not dying on my watch.” I don’t know if I’m talking to Granny, the fowl, or myself.

You might die on your watch, though,” Grace calls up. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, pale hair, pixie face, innocent expression, but she’s a tenth-level genius with the attitude to match.

“We got eight more in the coop with less attitude,” Granny says.

“She’s not just a bird to me.”

Kylo Hen cocks her head, like she hears and understands me. And maybe she does. I bonded with the terrible creature my first week here. I cried. She pecked at my shoelaces. It was magical. 

If anything happens to her, my life will cease to have meaning. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but my whole life has been upended over the last six months and I’m entitled to some theatrics.

Not that your life ever had meaning to begin with, a shrill voice quips in my head, one that sounds exactly like Dolores Umbridge. Evil bitch. 

Gripping the board with already shaking thighs, I shoot forward and seize Kylo Hen’s feathered body, clutching her close to my chest with one arm. I wobble and tighten my legs to avoid a death plunge.

“Got her.” Triumphant, I glance down at Granny and Grace. Surely they are impressed with my amazing chicken-rescuing abilities.

Granny is pacing back and forth, her long grey braids swinging behind her. She’s muttering something about supper getting burnt while she’s in here dealing with fools. 

It’s me she’s talking about. I’m the fool.

Grace has one hand on the rope, lax and unconcerned, her other hand holding a cell phone up to her face, thumb scrolling over the surface.

Oh, yeah, they’re impressed.

I inch back to the ladder, using my free arm for balance while my legs grip and slide like an inchworm in reverse. 

Grace snorts from below. “You look ridiculous.”

I finally reach the ladder, scrambling down in a clumsy, one-handed descent.

Granny stops her pacing when I reach the bottom. “All this for a damn bird that will likely be dinner next week.”

“We can’t eat Kylo Hen.” I hop off the ladder onto the barn’s clean hardwood floor. Since all of Granny’s stills and mash buckets are kept in here, she likes it sanitary. I clutch the chicken to my chest like Granny might attempt to throw her in the frying pan any second.

“Your first problem was naming them.” Granny shoots a look over at Grace, still on her phone. “No more screens.” 

Grace shoves the phone in her back pocket and then proceeds to pick at the knot around my waist. 

“Is that my only problem today?” I ask.

Grace laughs. “I’m betting you’ll have at least twelve more before sundown.” Her eyes gleam. She loves it when Granny and I squabble, even though it’s not really like we’re fighting or anything, it’s more Granny’s way of showing she loves me. I think.

She’s not actually my granny, but she sure does act like I’m part of the family. The part that annoys her. 

“Dinner’s about done. You two get cleaned up. Grace, you set the table. Y’all have five minutes.” Granny stalks out of the barn, the door thwacking shut behind her.

The rope goes slack and Grace pulls it away, curling it around one arm and then hanging it on a hook on the wall. 

“She’s just worried about you,” she says.

“I know. I gotta get Kylo Hen back in the coop. I’ll meet you inside.”

Grace scampers off to the house and I race across the expansive lawn. It stretches from the back of the house and disappears into tall grass and trees at the back of the property.

If the ranch and surrounding acreage could be compared to a piece of literature, it would be something written by Douglas Adams. Colorful and weird, and yet fitted together with seamless magic.

The chicken coop, for example, is purple, with a lime-green door and a squashed quadrangle of a window that doesn’t quite shut. It’s likely how Kylo Hen made her great escape. The coop is set back among large trees, nestled into their shade. I open the door and set the chicken down and then make sure everything is latched up tight before scurrying back through the heavy humidity to the house, my mind on the occupants inside. 

I don’t want Granny to worry about me, or anything else. Have I overstayed my welcome? Probably. I’ve been here for six months. There’s nothing worse than a house guest who can’t take a hint. 

I enter the house through the back door, thanking the gods of Asgard for air conditioning in the Deep South. 

Dishes clang in the kitchen where Granny takes out her ire on the pots and pans. I tiptoe down the hall past the marching row of African fertility sculptures to the dark wood stairs that lead to the second floor. 

My little guest room is tucked away on the second floor. It’s surprisingly simple, a spot of Jane Austen in the middle of a galactic comedy. The pale blue walls frame a full-size bed with a simple white frame and comforter, an oak dresser, and matching night stands. The rest of the house, on the other hand, is splashed in vibrant colors and spotted with abstract paintings and other esoteric art pieces and figurines.

I grab my Tardis tee, then hustle to the bathroom. 

The door is shut. “Grace?” I knock. “Are you almost done?”

“Just a minute.”

I lean against the wall and wait for her to finish. The water runs, then shuts off. Then runs again. And off. Then the toilet flushes. 

What is she doing in there?

I don’t have any siblings of my own, and I thought it might be kind of fun to have a live-in little-sister type. But she hogs the bathroom, doesn’t talk about anything important, and when she does open her mouth, it’s to ask me incessant questions like, How long are you staying? Why don’t you have a real job if you’re a grown-up? And my favorite, Aren’t you too old for toys? As if I’d ever be too old for the Baby Yoda Funko POP! figure on my nightstand. 

The door opens.

“Finally.” I rush to the sink to wash up, but Grace speaks up before I can turn on the water.

“Are you going over to Jude’s later?” she asks.

Jude is her older brother, sort of. He lives with Beast, her other brother. Or foster brother, or something. The details are kind of hazy. They don’t talk about it much. The first and only time I asked how they were related, Jude said something about blood being thicker than water, and Granny said she was happy none of them were in her family tree, and then they changed the subject. 

“No. Why would I be going over to Jude’s?”

“They’re having a party.”

“They’re always having a party.” They live walking distance to the local college, making it a prime location for never-ending loops of drinking, carousing, and hooking up. “I’m too old.”

Not really true, since I graduated early after taking college credits in high school, but still. Me and parties with a bunch of strangers sound like the seventh circle of Crowley’s hell. 

“It’s the last one,” she says with emphasis, eyes wide at my lack of enthusiasm. “Until fall anyway. And by then you’ll likely be gone.”


She crosses her arms over her chest and leans against the doorframe. “So instead of going out like a normal adult, you’re going to spend another Friday night locked in your room listening to Halsey sing about how you should be sad?”

“No.” I scoff. Yes. Absolutely yes. 

She grins, her smile impish. “Come on, Fred. It will be fun. I can go with you.”

I laugh. “Beast would murder me with his giant bare hands.”

Grace laughs with delight, the devil.

Beast is close to seven feet tall with broad shoulders, stark features, and an eternal five-o’clock shadow. He’s a little terrifying. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t speak. Ever. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him so much as clear his throat. And I’m not sure what his real name is. It can’t be Beast. Can it? It’s probably a John Wick thing, where they call him Baba Yaga, all dark and grim, but he’s actually, you know, John. 

A cow bell jangles from downstairs.

“Coming!” Grace heads out.

I shove my hands under the water, thinking about the party at Jude’s. 

Maybe Grace is right. Maybe I should go.

But Jude has his girlfriend, Annabel. And Reese—Granny’s biological granddaughter—will probably be there with her boyfriend, Fitz. And they’re all nice, but it’s like a never-ending happy-couple-in-love fest around them. 

The only other one there I know will be Beast. Who I can’t have a conversation with, so I’ll basically be at a random party by myself. Surrounded by people and yet all alone. 

Not exactly enticing since my self-esteem is still recovering from Jack’s rejection. How do you move forward when the one who was supposed to love you dismissed you like season two of The Defenders

Downstairs, Grace and Granny are in the kitchen, whispering to each other.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

They leap apart. 

“Nothing.” Granny grabs a bowl from the counter and bustles into the dining room with it.

Grace grabs a serving spoon and follows her without meeting my eyes.

They’re up to something, no doubt. 

In the dining room, I slide onto the bench-style seat across from Grace. Granny sits at the head and we reach out, holding hands for prayer.

“Dearly beloved.” Granny always starts like we’re at a royal wedding. 

I close my eyes. Not because I’m devout, but because it’s better than staring at the walls, which are painted in three different primary colors bright enough to hurt the eyes. The fourth wall is white, but it’s also hung with an abstract mural made up of tiny penises. Penii? Is there a plural? Whatever it is, I don’t want to stare at it.

“We are gathered here today to join in our love and appreciation for this fine meal. We thank you for keeping us safe from great heights, devil chickens, and whatever that child is watching on TikTok. Protect our souls from evil hellfire and young boys, especially those of us under twenty. In Jesus’s name, amen.”

“Amen,” Grace and I contribute.

“Will you pass the beans?” Grace asks and I hand her the bowl of green beans.

There’s a substantial amount of food in serving dishes set around the heavy mahogany table. Pulled pork, green beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits. One thing about eating in the South is you do a lot of it. Which is not a complaint. I love food almost as much as I love my fandoms. 

“Are you going to Jude’s party?” Granny asks.

I finish chewing my biscuit and look pointedly at Grace. Then over at Granny. “No.”

“You should go,” she says, spearing a green bean with her fork. “You could take the Cadillac.” 


That evil genius. It’s not just a regular old Caddy. It’s a 1956 Cadillac DeVille convertible. And it’s pink. It’s atrocious and I love it and she knows it. 

When I first came to stay with Granny, I drove her around for her errands. Because of her fainting spells, she didn’t want to get behind the wheel, just in case. But she hates people driving her car, especially me. I never had to drive much in New York because of public transportation, and owning a car in the city is a nightmare. I can drive, but I’m a little . . . rusty. As evidenced by the fact that every time I drove her anywhere, Granny would pray for her life. Loudly. Now she’s conveniently had zero issues with light-headedness over the past couple of months and no longer requires being chauffeured around town.

Stay strong, Fred. “That’s kind of you, Granny, but it’s fine. I can hang out here.” 

I don’t miss the glances darting between them.

“Unless I’m not wanted.” I try to ignore the sting of rejection. I know they mean well, and I know they’re right—I’ve spent enough time moping around—but it still hurts. 

“Of course you’re wanted,” Granny says. “It’s just . . .” She side-eyes Grace before leaning in my direction and stage-whispering, “You know the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else, right?”

A laugh bursts out of me. “Granny!”

Grace is grinning. “Does this mean I can invite boys over?”

Granny points her fork at Grace. “Hell no, young lady, you aren’t dating until you’re thirty.”

“Not fair.”

Granny shrugs and takes a sip of her drink. “Fairness is to reality as horses are to pickles.”

Grace rolls her eyes with a sigh. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Exactly.” Granny turns back to me. “So? Are you going?”

I shrug and push at my food with my fork. “I don’t think so. I just don’t feel up to it.”

“Fine. If you’re staying here, you can help with . . . mowing the back lawn.”

“Okay. I can help you.” I’ve never actually seen anyone mow the back lawn. It’s ginormous and I swear Granny told me it was some kind of buffalo grass that didn’t need maintenance. But whatever. It’s nice to be needed.

“Fred, no!” She waves a hand at me. “That was supposed to scare you away.” She takes a breath and then fixes me with a stare. “Go live your life or I’m calling your momma.”

“Ugghhh,” I groan. “Fine. I’ll go.”

Or I’ll pretend to go. Various ways to get out of it buzz through my mind like anxious bees.

Anything to avoid a Granny/Mom tag team. 

They couldn’t be more opposite. Granny owns guns, eats meat, and goes to church every Sunday. My parents are vegans, pacifists, and atheists. And yet Granny and Mom talk like two best friends at least once a week. And usually about me. 

An hour later, we’ve finished dinner and cleanup. Grace has forced me to pull my long dark hair out of its ever-present braid, conned me into lip gloss and mascara, and maneuvered me behind the wheel of the pink Cadillac.

I’ll just go to the diner on Main Street, get a milkshake, and hang out for a bit. Then I’ll head back to Granny’s. She’ll be none the wiser. 

There is no way I’m going to this party. 

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Imperfectly Delicious – Only one more day!

Hello hello!

Book SIX in the Imperfect Series is coming at you within the next 24 hours!

I can’t believe it. I normally post the first chapter in advance, and I’m cutting it close this time. Things are bananas and my brain is like mushed bananas. With peanut butter and a hint of bacon 😀

Things you should know about this book:

1) Scarlett loves love. And cupcakes. And she’s good at getting herself into silly situations.
2) Guy Chapman is a little bit of a douche-nougat, but he gets better.
a) He also has a little sister with Angelman Syndrome.
b) If you want to know more about Angelman Syndrome, go here:
c) If you want to cry sweet tears, check out these adorable twin brothers who inspired me a great deal for this story:

3) Running a food truck in NYC is INSANELY difficult and expensive and crazy and I had to blend some fact/fiction to make this story work.
a) For reals, though. There’s a black market permit industry in NYC because of the limited number available and purchasing them on the black market costs upwards of $25,000! JUST FOR A PERMIT! Not to mention finding a parking spot in one of the most populous cities on the planet, requirements to cook/store all food at a commissary, and competing with thousands of other food vendors. It’s beyond bananas, like my brain.

4) If you are anticipating a story for Beast from the Dorky Duet books, his lady love is a side character in Imperfectly Delicious. Her name is Fred and I love her and I’m working on her and Beast’s story right  meow and it will be coming this fall. There are some other cameos from Dorky Duet characters in this book ❤

And now, feast your eyes on chapter one of Imperfectly Delicious! Link to purchase at bottom 🙂


Chapter One


If anything is good for pounding humility into you permanently, it’s the restaurant business. –Anthony Bourdain



Fred steps over me to reach the order window, an exaggerated motion that makes her dark ponytail swish behind her. “Confrontation is your kryptonite,” she says over her shoulder.

“Do not tell him I’m here or you’re fired.” It’s a threat that would carry more weight if I weren’t a grown woman cowering on the floor of my own food truck in unequivocal terror.

She’s not wrong. I like dealing with conflict as much as I enjoy public speaking while scorpions crawl all over my face.

It’s not that I’m a total doormat. I deal with a variety of challenges and complications with ease. After all, I started my own food truck, I hired an employee—one who isn’t very respectful or deferential, but who’s counting? —and I run my own successful catering business as a side hustle.

I can totally adult. But talking to people who have a problem with me? Not my strongest suit.

And there is one person in particular who has many problems with me.

“Where is she?”

Guy Chapman.

His voice is as powerful as lightning in a summer storm—as if the air molecules themselves divided in terror at his words.

“She’s hiding,” Fred says.

I pinch her ankle and she kicks me with the top of her foot, bumping into my side with more force than necessary. I scowl up at her but it’s a wasted effort, my glare striking the underside of her chin as she leans on the counter toward my nemesis.

This isn’t the first time he’s been here, and it’s not the first time I’ve avoided him. We’re parked in a narrow lot adjacent to his restaurant. I have the perfect view of his door when it swings open, an intricately carved, thick wood piece. It probably cost more than my life is worth.

He sighs like he can’t believe he has to listen to such drivel, then says in a flat voice, “She’s hiding. Why would she be hiding?”

“Because you’re very scary,” Fred stage whispers.

There’s a small pause. “I am not.” Is that a thread of dismay lacing his voice?

Can’t be. He doesn’t care if he’s scary. That was basically the theme of his reality TV show, Devil’s Kitchen. It was all about him being a handsome devil and behaving like one, too. It only lasted a season, despite its popularity.

“Yeah, I don’t think so either,” she murmurs, tapping her fingers on the counter. She’s getting anxious, probably at the line of customers forming behind my sworn adversary.

Even though we’re parked too close to the devil for comfort, there’s no denying this is the best place I’ve found to park in the city. Situated on the south side of Gramercy Park, it’s close enough to where the Wall Street gurus call home to make it absolutely worthwhile for them to stop by when they’re heading home and need something sweet along the way.

He owns the block, but not this tiny little slice. And much to my satisfaction, he never will.

“When will she be available?” he asks.

Fred thinks about an answer while I examine her shoes. There’s a small hole in one seam at the top of her low-top black and white Vans, right next to a Ravenclaw patch.

“If I had to guess,” she says finally. “I’d say never. She doesn’t want to talk to you. I also can’t tell her what to do, since she’s my boss. You know how it is. I mean, you don’t know how it is, but you have people who know how it is.”

Laughter bubbles in my chest. But Guy Chapman isn’t laughing. Oh no, I can’t see him, but I can imagine the glower. His scowl can be felt within a three-mile radius.

I haven’t seen him up close in over a year, but I have watched him from a distance over the past few weeks, coming and going to his restaurant while they get it up and running. Everything about him screams efficiency, from his neatly trimmed dark hair to his perfectly tailored business casual suits. His features are strong and severe: sharp nose, sculpted jawline—always impeccably shaved, facial hair wouldn’t dare appear before five P.M.—and a thin slash of a mouth that would sooner crack into the earth than into a smile.

His features, on their own, are too much on the other side of harsh to be considered conventionally handsome. But it’s his confidence when he moves, the forcefulness of his speech, the way his presence demands attention and obedience…. He exudes a force of character that is entirely overwhelming. He’s like 125% of a person inside a body.

He’s too much to handle. Which is why the last time I saw Guy Chapman up close, I may have accidentally set him on fire.

It’s still silent up above. Is he leaving? Is he gone? It is over?

“Is this how you run a business?” His words are like the snap of a kitchen towel, quick and biting.

I cringe from my position crouched down low.

Fred, however, is not impressed. “It’s not my business, and since the person in charge is trembling at my feet, I don’t think she runs it well either, but you make an excellent point. I’ve got customers to serve and I don’t think they’re lining up for the smell of asshole in the afternoon, even if you were on a reality show three years ago. Do you mind stepping aside?”

Guy makes a disgusted noise, like he’s unable to clear a particularly tough glob of phlegm from the back of his throat, and then he says, “If you see her, if she actually exists that is, please tell her I need to speak with her. Right away.”

“I will for sure!” Fred’s voice is bright and happy. “So, what was your name?”

Ominous silence.

This is the third time this week that Guy has come over here, and every time, Fred’s asked him the same thing.

“Guy Chapman,” he bites out.

“Right. Got it. I’ll remember it this time.” A few fraught seconds later, Fred starts taking an order for a dozen bite-size When Life Gives You Lemon cupcakes, and I peer carefully over the counter in the direction of Decadence.

Guy is stalking back to his restaurant, head high, the line of his shoulders rigid.

“You can’t avoid him forever,” Fred tells me while she rings up the customer.

“I can try.” I stand up and move over to the counter on the opposite side where we’ve racked the cupcakes to help her box up the goods.

“You knew parking here would bring the troll from under the bridge.”

I didn’t know. And once I did, it didn’t matter. There weren’t any other good choices and failure wasn’t an option. Besides, I didn’t think he would even notice my little truck. We aren’t doing anyone any harm.

“I can’t believe you told him I was hiding from him.”

She shrugs. “He didn’t believe me. He’s an idiot.”

When I first parked here, I didn’t know Guy was in the middle of renovations on the giant building next to this lot. And even if I had known, it wouldn’t have deterred me. Finding decent parking for a food truck in New York City is like finding a tapdancing unicorn: both impossible and fantastic.

Fortunately for me, a friend owns this empty lot—her company does, anyway—and she offered to let me use it.

“I hadn’t really expected it to affect his business at all,” I tell Fred.

To be honest, I had both hoped and feared that parking my food truck outside Guy’s newest restaurant venture would piss him off. Show him that his attempts to push me down hadn’t worked. But I didn’t expect to have to talk to him. I didn’t expect him to lower himself to the point where he would come over and confront me directly.

Fred shrugs. “Clearly you’ve done something to get his attention if the King himself is deigning to mingle with the commoners.”

We switch places and I plaster a smile on my face before greeting the next customer.

“Welcome to For Goodness Cakes, how can I help you?”

My body goes through the motions of ringing up orders and boxing up cupcakes for the after-work crowd, but my mind is still on the man who’s disappeared inside his restaurant across the street.

It just plain doesn’t make sense. I mean, he’s Guy Chapman. He’s a famous chef. He’s been on TV. He’s renowned for his culinary skills, business acumen, and sexy brooding demeanor. All of his restaurants are Michelin rated. He only hires the best—which knocked me out of the running before I could even start. The fire bit didn’t help.

I didn’t mean to torch him. And normally, I’m very meticulous and safe in the kitchen. It was just that he flustered me. He was standing so close, and he smelled like an expensive forest. Not like a normal woodsy pine scent, but like a fancy forest where the birds wear Rolexes and the deer drive Teslas. He was behind me, so close and leaning in and I…basically lost my mind.

I can’t imagine that my business is affecting him enough for him to need to “speak” to me about anything. My proceeds are not even enough to live off of, yet—although I’m creeping into the black. Catering is a necessity since winters in New York City can be harsh and customers won’t likely shovel themselves out of their apartments or brave below-freezing temps.

Fred and I move around the narrow food truck, ringing up orders and switching places as needed. The timer sounds on the oven and Fred calls out, “I got it,” before standing in front of it, holding up a hand and saying, “Live long and prosper.” It’s like her thing, since the oven is a Vulcan.

She insists it’s good luck, and I can’t complain because it makes me laugh. I don’t know what I would do without Fred. She’s a true New Yorker, born and raised. She’s the only person I’ve ever met who can walk, talk, eat and hail a cab all at the same time. She’s super into fandoms and wears clothes that I don’t understand 90% of the time. She’s ballsy and confrontational, but at the same time there’s a hint of innocence and naivete about her, especially when it comes to her long-term boyfriend. She lets him run all over her. She’s only a little bit older than my little sister, Reese. In a way I feel responsible for Fred.

I turn to the next customer. “Welcome to—oh it’s you. Come to spy again?”

Before Guy started hounding the truck, he sent a lackey in his stead—Carson something or other. He’s a tall, thin hipster who always wears bow ties and suspenders but somehow makes it cool and sleek instead of weird and passé, and always orders the specials.

The line has dissipated and he’s the last one.

“I’m not spying,” Carson says. “I like your cakes. Do you ever make hummingbird cake?”

“You know what that is?” Hummingbird cake is a true southern specialty, banana pineapple spice cake flavored with cinnamon, pecans, vanilla and a cream cheese frosting.

“Darling, despite the fashionable man you see before you, I hail originally from the backwoods of Moultrie, Georgia.”

I gasp. “No! You don’t even have an accent.”

Personally, I’ve been working on talking more like a Yank so I don’t come across as a hick. There is a more than a little bit of stereotyping when it comes right down to it.

He shrugs. “Can you make it?”

“I’m Southern and I bake. What do you think?”

Fred cuts in, handing him a container with the three daily specials. “We’ll make your weird cake if you give us some intel in return.”

He taps one long finger on his bottom lip. “It might be worth it, actually. Despite what you think of my intentions, your product is excellent. Why else do you think Guy cares so much?”

“Cares?” Fred scoffs. “He only cares about himself.”

“That’s not true.” He pops open the small pink box and his eyes brighten at the cakes.

Even though he’s technically the enemy, I can’t help but take delight in his reaction. It’s the best part of my job. I love feeding people. Everyone is happy when there’s cake.

“It is true,” Fred insists. “I don’t know how you work for that monster and live to talk about it, let alone defend him.”

“He’s not as bad as everyone thinks.” He shoves one of the bites into his mouth and his eyes fall shut as he chews. “This one is definitely my new favorite,” he tells me, frosting sticking out of the sides of his mouth.

Fred pushes a couple of napkins at him. “You’re right, he’s not as bad as everyone thinks, he’s worse.”

“Guy is a little bit of a perfectionist, but that’s not a bad thing.” Carson dabs at his mouth with the napkin.

I enter the conversation with a laugh. “Perfectionist is an understatement. If you’re not a robot you’ll likely get fired within a week. He’s not only a perfectionist, he demands it from everyone around him.”

Carson cocks his head at me. “How do you know?”

“She has ears and eyes,” Fred says before I can reply, saving me from revealing the truth.

Technically, I’ve never actually worked for Guy. I only had an interview in one of his kitchens, but didn’t make it past that process. Due to the whole, you know, fire incident.

“Why does he keep coming over here?” I ask.

Carson shrugs. “He wants you to move. He’s got a plan for this area and you’re in the way. It’s not personal.”

I’d figured as much, yet the audacity of the man still stings. “And he thinks, what, that he can snap his fingers and we’ll do his bidding?”

“It generally works that way for him, yes.”

“Well he can’t boss me around.”

“If you say so.” He is clearly unconvinced.

Fred and I exchange a glance. The only reason I’m parking here is because my friend Bethany found the available real estate when she was going over Crawford and Company assets, and it’s too small for them to use for anything at the moment, or to sell. They had originally owned the entire block, but then had sold off pieces over the years and this is all that’s left. Bethany brokered me a killer deal to rent the space, an amount that’s significantly less than what I would pay in parking tickets if I tried for anywhere else, but Guy could make this a problem. I can’t ask them not to sell if he’s going to make them an offer.

It’s true that I have a few friends in high places—friends who own random real estate around Manhattan—but at the end of the day, I’m still an unknown hick with nothing to show for it but baking skills and a whole lotta motivation to make it in the big city and not go crawling back to Blue Falls with my tail tucked between my legs.

Carson picks up the Rhett Velvet and pops it in his mouth with a groan. “How do you make these so good?”

“It’s a gift. Has he put in an offer for this lot?” I ask.

“We have someone working on it.”

Fred makes a derisive noise.

“What? It’s only a matter of time. Despite who you may know at Crawford and Company, money is louder than friendship.”

Fred says, “We don’t just know someone at Crawford and Company, we know one of the founders. As a matter of fact, the whole family is super tight with Scarlett, so you just try it, buddy.”

Fred! I slap a hand over her mouth. Carson watches us, a half-smile on his face.

“It’s been great talking to you Carson, but we have to prep for an event tonight.”

“Do you?” He’s intrigued. “Which event?”

“Not telling you. We’ve given you enough for one visit.”

“Oh, come on.”

“Bye, Carson.” Fred closes the window on his surprised face and then turns to me. “Sorry. I get a little defensive and my mouth moves without my permission. But it’ll be fine. I didn’t give him much to go on. And you need to go home and get ready. I’ll head to the commissary and get the stuff to the event within the hour.”

“Thank you, Fred. You’re a life saver.” Literally. She does so much more than take orders on the truck and bake. She helps with social media, she does a lot of local deliveries, and she sometimes cleans and parks the truck at the commissary. Something we have to do every night, as required by the New York Health Department. Or as I like to call them, the people who bring on the pain and make things as difficult as humanly possible.

“Yeah, yeah.” She waves me off. “Make sure you put on extra makeup before you go tonight because you look exhausted.”

“Gee, thanks Fred. You sure you don’t want to come with me?”

“Nah. I want to be home when Jack gets off work.”

It must be nice to have someone to come home to. Once upon a time, I wanted it badly enough to date a whole variety of losers and users. It’s not like I have high standards, I just have a vision in my head of what my life would be like—if I had someone. Someone to snuggle with on the couch while we argued over what to watch on TV. Someone I could call up for no real reason, just to have a mundane conversation about my day, or the weather, or how I got scared again by that guy who hides in the bushes by Mullaly Park. All of those ordinary moments made worthwhile simply by sharing them with someone who actually cares.

At least I have good friends and For Goodness Cakes. That has to be enough.

Click here to purchase!

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Geektastic – Chapter One Sneak Peek!


I can’t believe this book is coming out in TWO DAYS! Insanity! I’m normally way more on top of things and would have posted this like a week ago, but … never too late, right?

Anyway, here is a sneak peak of my upcoming release, book two in the Dorky Duet, GEEKTASTIC! This book will be moving into Kindle Unlimited shortly after release, at which point the ebook will be exclusive to Amazon, so if you order from an alternate retailer (i.e. Apple, B&N, Google, etc.) preorder now so you don’t miss out!

Preorder Geektastic

Chapter One

The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!

—Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility


Every time I go out of my way to avoid someone, they appear. Like magic.

Like dark magic from hell. Or in this particular case, like the devil incarnate.

Jude Parker.

Our gazes clash and then my eyes skitter away like they’ve been scalded, but his image is burned on the back of my retinas.

He’s wearing a suit. Black jacket, stark white shirt, black bow tie. Which maybe wouldn’t be remarkable, except this isn’t a fancy restaurant or a wedding. It’s a township meeting in rural Texas.

The Blue Falls High School cafeteria was an unlikely hellscape, but the city hall was unavailable because someone had flushed their dentures down one of the public toilets and they had to close for water damage. This was the largest available public space, equipped with plenty of uncomfortable seats, glaring overhead lights, and squeaky linoleum.

Jude should look ridiculous amid the rest of the over-sixties currently occupying the room in their beige and pastel shirts and slacks—they don’t even seem to notice he’s there—but instead he looks like he always does.

Relaxed. Unconcerned. Delicious.

The outfit is a stark contrast to his scruffy beard and long hair. The brief glimpse of his intense, bright blue eyes has my stomach twisting with nerves.

My first instinct is to run, but I can’t. There’s no getting out of this. The town council meeting every month is one of my only bylines.

“Annabel.” I yank my gaze from the blue-eyed devil in the room. Rudy Quinn stands near the head table where the town council convenes, dressed in his perfectly pressed police uniform, the badge on his chest glinting under the fluorescent lights.

“Heya, Rudy.” Everyone knows Rudy. His daddy is the district attorney. Plus we went to Blue Falls High near about the same time. He’s at almost every event I have to cover for the paper. He’s a bit on the awkward side, and on the round side, and pleasant enough, but it’s hard to exit a conversation with him once it gets going. He’s like sweet tea in the South: abundant and always available and too much makes your teeth ache.

“Covering the meeting for the paper?” His accompanying smile is wide and friendly.

I nod. “As I do. Anything good on the docket tonight?”

“Oh, you know how it is. We’ve had increased calls to the station about unidentified vehicles around town. Chief wants me here because we know it’s gonna be a topic. He wanted me on hand to help reduce the paranoia and assure the public that there have been no increases in crime in conjunction with the sightings, no reports of any theft or the like, and we have things under control. We’ve increased units patrolling through town and are on the lookout for anything suspicious. He knows I’m the best person for the job, the voice of reason, so he’s been sending me out on overtime almost every night this week. I’m really the best at—”

“Right. Yes. Of course you are.” It’s so rude, but I have to nip it in the bud or I could be stuck up here all night. He opens his mouth but I speak before he can. “Good luck. I’d better find my spot. Catch you later.”

“Yeah, I’ll catch you later,” he calls after me. “Maybe we can get a drink or something after.”

I step lightly through the senior citizens crowded around the front.

All the regulars are here. Mr. Gepson with his toupee and spiral notebook, pencil worn down to the nub. Elaine Kilgarriff dressed in her pastel pink summer dress and hat even though it’s November. Mrs. Johnson with her ancient tape recorder—which is so old I don’t think it even works anymore and yet she brings it every time.

I make my way toward the back of the room, avoiding where Mr. Jude Parker was last spotted.

Which is a mistake because he’s moved. He’s now standing at the back, against the wall, right next to my regular spot.

It’s like he knew where I would be setting up. But how?

I almost turn around and find somewhere else to stand. But no. Righteous indignation fills me. This is my town. I’m not going to let him intimidate me. I don’t care what he does.

I continue to the back of the room, giving myself a silent pep talk as I make my approach.

He’s just a guy. No one important. Act natural.

“Annabel,” he acknowledges, his voice low.

“Good, thanks.”

As soon as the words leave my mouth, I want to snatch them back and swallow them down.

Jude is grinning and clearly enjoying every tortuous second.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, trying for a brisk professional tone that sounds more jittery than I would like.

I catch a whiff of his cologne—something manly and hot and a contrast to the cafeteria stench of old pizza and teenage angst. The citrusy smell ignites a flicker of a memory. Of being in his bed, curled up against him . . . but I ruthlessly quell the image.

His bright blue eyes burn into mine like he can read every lascivious daydream I’ve ever had about him along with ones I haven’t thought of yet.

“I’m surprised you have to ask,” he says.

Crap. What did I ask?

“As you know,” he continues, “I take my civic responsibilities very seriously.”

Oh, right. His moustache twitches and I know he’s smiling underneath it even as he talks about being serious. As ever, he’s taking amusement from everyone and everything.

It doesn’t escape my attention he didn’t actually answer my question.

“Right. Whatever.” I shrug my bag up higher on my shoulder and consider my options. I can’t stand right here next to him.

Space. I need space.

“Enjoy the show,” I murmur and walk on, continuing my path along the back wall a good fifteen feet away from where he’s standing. His eyes burn into my back and I’m glad I wore the dark blue skinny jeans that make my butt look awesome.

Not that I care what he thinks about my butt. Not. At. All.

I pull out my phone and small notepad and set my purse on the floor and pretend to not watch Jude out of the corner of my eye when he moves to a table right in my eyeline.

He doesn’t do something as simple as sit, either. He lounges, arranging his body like he’s relaxing on a chaise longue instead of the hard plastic bench attached to the scratched and battered orange table that’s been in this room since at least 1947. I’m pretty sure there’s a carving of my name on the underside of that very table, next to where I drew a little heart with Chad’s initials.

The town council members trickle in from a side door. The mayor, the city manager, and the secretary with her small typewriter all take their places at the table up at the front of the room.

The mayor calls the room to order, and it begins as it always does with a prayer to bless the meeting, followed by the pledge of allegiance.

Shifting from one foot to the other, I try my best to focus on Mayor Adams.

“As the Texas Open Meetings Act does not allow the council to respond to items not listed on the agenda, your comments will be duly noted by the council and forwarded to the appropriate department for prompt consideration.”

Which means they will listen and likely do nothing.

Almost immediately, Eldon Dunbar gets up to discuss the installation of a stop sign “over by where the aliens were spotted at Gary Johnson’s farm.” Riveting.

My eyes, the traitorous bastards, linger on the back of Jude’s head, trailing over the line of his shoulders in his dark suit. It fits impeccably, hugging his broad back like a perfectly wrapped present. A present should be opened. Presents can’t lie around, wrapped for all eternity. It’s like they’re asking for it.

I glance down at my phone. It’s not on. I forgot to turn on my recorder. Smashing a finger over the button, I burn a hole into the back of Jude’s head with my eyes.

It’s not my fault he’s got this thing, this sexy-vibe thing. It doesn’t matter that he’s hairier than a komondor and somewhat resembles a yeti. Even with all that hair covering ninety percent of his face, he’s still got this crazy, all-enveloping presence. It’s like pheromones or . . . I don’t know, invisible lust tentacles.

I’ve never seen him at any of the other meetings, and this definitely isn’t his type of deal. He’s all about parties and bets and making money off his “babies,” as he so affectionately refers to the college kids he uses to supplement his income.

As far as I’m aware, he’s lived in Blue Falls for about six months, but even in that short time, he’s become something of a legend. A master of games and wagers, a purveyor of parties and shenanigans, and also my brother’s former roommate.

“I would like to talk about the government listening to my phone calls every Sunday.” We’ve got a new commenter. Elaine Kilgarriff.

I suppress a smile.

The NSA isn’t really interested in the secret ingredient for your fried chicken, Elaine.

“They park down the street in their van. They’re trying to listen to my conversations and they’ve been walking around behind my house late at night. One of them snuck in through my doggy door and used my shower.”

Mayor Adams coughs.

“And then they made a sandwich. I know it wasn’t my Eugene that did it because they cleaned the utensils and wiped off the counter after, and he ain’t never done that.”

Mayor Adams tilts her head toward Rudy, who clears his throat from his position to the side of the committee.

“Ma’am, we’ve been alerted to the potential presence of suspicious vehicles and we’re working tirelessly day and night to ensure they don’t pose any kind of threat.”

Jude shifts in his seat, once again drawing my attention.

Is he sitting slightly straighter? Leaning forward a smidge?

Rudy continues, “We do have more people residing in Blue Falls than ever before due to the new mining ventures outside town. A lot of them have families visiting for the upcoming holidays and the parades, which Blue Falls is renowned for. I would like to personally assure you that no one will be listening to your calls or harassing anyone in this town on my watch. Or, you know, attempting to burgle your sandwich materials.”

Elaine nods and toddles back to her seat and the next Blue Falls resident gets up to talk about something inane.

I take notes for another thirty minutes while John Nottingham complains about his neighbor’s tree overgrowing his fence and Mr. Gardiner talks about the drainage problems on the city side of his property, but my gaze continually finds its way to the back of Jude’s head.

His stupid, attractive, hairy head.

Eventually, thankfully, Mayor Adams ends the meeting. I bend over for my purse, packing up my notes and tape recorder. When I glance around again, my eyes automatically locate Jude. Now he’s near the door.

The fact that I’m so aware of him makes my jaw clench.

He stops to empty something from his jacket pocket into the trash and then, after a quick glance around, slides out the door.

It’s an innocuous enough move, but something about it sends curiosity thrumming through me.

Just what did he throw away?

I stop by the exit and peer down into the receptacle. There’s nothing obvious in view, but it’s a narrow opening and the bag is black and dark.

God dammit, I’m even getting fixated on his trash? This is why I need to stay away from Jude Parker. He’s dangerous to my sanity.

Doesn’t change the fact that I’m ten seconds from becoming a full-fledged Dumpster diver.

“Do you want to go have a drink at Bodean’s?”

I jump damn near a mile.

“My treat?” The overly enthusiastic question comes from Rudy.

“Aw, I wish I could but I’m meeting Fitz for supper. Sorry.”

This isn’t the first time Rudy has asked me out. He asks everyone out. It’s what he does. I’ve never said yes and a twinge of guilt slips through me at his hangdog expression.

“It’s okay.” His shoulders droop. “Maybe next time.” He walks out the door.

It’s not that he’s a bad guy, it’s that I would rather not hear him talk about himself for two hours.

The bite in the air is a brief shock to my senses, as is the darkening night. The days are getting shorter as winter settles in and brushes its gentle fingers across this side of Texas.

I shrug on my sweater and focus on my next step and not on Jude Parker.

The excuse I gave Rudy wasn’t a lie. Fitz and Reese, my brother and his girlfriend, are home waiting on me. Well, they saved me leftover pizza. That totally counts.

I’m living with Fitz, but she’s there a lot. I don’t mind. I love Reese. She’s awkward and smart and sweet . . . but I think I might keel over from all the PDA going on around our apartment. It’s like a never-ending puke fest of love.

If I had known moving in with Fitz would turn into watching them spew sweetness on each other twenty-four seven, I would have lived in a box next to the H-E-B with ol’ Roy.

I would charge her rent if she weren’t already renting a room from . . . Jude.

And there he is again, my mind running back to him like a pulled tooth you keep tonguing even when you don’t want to. And since I do want to tongue him, it’s a terrible, terrible metaphor.

I turn the corner to the school and run into another wall.

One that wasn’t here before.

A tall, muscly, man wall.

Jude. I know it’s him because his hands on my shoulders transmit a signal through my body like I’m fiber optics and he’s sex moving at the speed of light. My entire being focuses on the heat of his fingers touching me.

I jump back and throw up a wall of indifference, something that will protect me from Jude and his magic lust tentacles.

His sleepy eyes smile at me, the cool blue belying the heat in his gaze.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I wanted to offer my services as an escort to see you safely home,” he drawls, emphasizing the word escort.

I smirk in an effort to appear unaffected, but I’m afraid the effect is more of a lumpy grimace. “I’m just fine on my own but I thank you for your concern.” I walk past him, setting a brisk pace.

His lengthy strides have no problem keeping up with my shorter gait. “I would like to express my apprehension, despite your obvious ability to care for yourself, as there are mercenaries about as per Ms. Kilgarriff’s testimony. Safety in numbers. I have thoughts only for your welfare, being a gentleman and all.”

“Well, shouldn’t you be walking her home then?”

“Maybe I should. I could check on her if you like, but I don’t think I have the address of her residence.”

I snort. “Right. A gentleman and a civic leader. I’m not buying it. Why were you really here?”

“If I recall correctly, I asked you that very same question.”

He did. The first night we met, at his house.

I was there at the behest of my editor, who wanted to do a story on illegal gambling on campus. Jude’s games.

“I told you why I was there. To check on Fitz.” My brother, who had gotten himself embroiled in one of Jude’s little betting schemes. Fitz had gotten kicked out of his friend’s house, and Jude had lured him into a competition to rent a room.

Jude tsks. “A lie that doesn’t improve itself upon repetition.”

“If you’re so certain you know why I was there, why do you bother asking?”

“Because I don’t know why you were there. If I knew why, I wouldn’t ask. I know you had reasons other than those you alluded to.”

“Maybe I’ll answer your question if you tell me what business you had at the township meeting. You didn’t speak on anything.”

He grins down at me. “Darlin’, were you watching me?”

“Don’t call me that.”

He called me that before. In his bedroom. The lights down low, his hands wrapped around my ribcage, holding me tight, his voice in my ear, his lips running over the sensitive lobe.

He smirks, as if he knows the affect he has on me and enjoys it a little too much.

I’m not going to get any clear answers from him so I continue walking. He keeps up and we move in silence down a side street that will take me to my apartment—the opposite direction of Jude’s house near the university.

We sidestep a youngish couple taking their dog out for a walk. They wave and exclaim, “Beautiful night, isn’t it?” as they pass, holding hands in domestic bliss.

“They seem nice,” Jude says once we’re out of earshot.

I snort.

“We could have a dog together one day,” he continues.

I hold back a laugh. “I would not purchase any kind of canine with you. Ever.”

“You’re right. Felines are definitely better, and I’m not sure Mr. Bojangles would appreciate having to compete for my affections.”

“No competition here.”

“So I take it you haven’t reconsidered my offer of dinner?”

“Answer is still thanks but no thanks.”

“Just checking. I had thought all of the hostility and avoidance of my general person might indicate a rekindling of your prior interest.” Humor tinges his voice.

I stop walking and turn to face him. “I’m not going to change my mind. I’m not interested in a relationship. If you want to pursue a physical relationship . . .” I run my eyes down the suit. Dammit, he’s even hotter up close. It doesn’t help that I know what’s underneath. I take a step closer. “Those are terms I might be amenable to.”

A relationship with Jude would be a threat to my sanity. But a nice roll in the hay? That I could handle.

My bravado falters.


I hope he says no.

Because the truth . . . the truth is Jude probably wouldn’t want anything serious with me. Not if he knew the real me. I’m an unworthy imposter, undeserving of his regard, but I tuck the thought away like a secret diary slipped beneath the mattress. Or porn.

He searches my eyes, his mouth set in a line until one corner pops up. “I’ll keep waiting for you to come around to my way of thinking.”

“It’s gonna be a long wait.” I spin on my heel and march away.

I need to breathe in air he doesn’t penetrate, but he follows, keeping up the pace until I’ve reached the corner where the sidewalk turns into my apartment building.

“Y’all take care now, ya hear?” I say in the best, politest, stickiest-sweet voice I can muster, the one I learned to use on cranky teachers and customers, and turn to go, but he stops me with a word.


His voice is deep and rough and I turn and face him, like I can’t even control it. He’s standing there, hands in his pockets, eyes bright even in the dying light, and as inscrutable as ever.

He opens his mouth, shuts it. Opens it again.

It’s a move so unlike the self-assured and confident Jude I’ve come to know that I’m momentarily shocked.

“Be careful,” he finally says.

I blink. What is he warning me of? But then he turns and walks away.

I stand there, staring after him for a few long seconds before turning on my heel and huffing down the sidewalk.

Jude is a mystery I’ve long wanted to unravel. He’s hiding something. I know he is.

But more disturbing to me is how much I want to spend time with him. How much I actually enjoy the banter.

He’s dangerous to the safe little bubble I’ve built. One poke, and it could pop.

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Ridorkulous Sneak Peek!

Holyyy shnikes, only TWO MORE WEEKS until Ridorkulous comes out! I cannot wait for y’all to read this nerdelicious romance. I really love these characters and I hope you do too!

Available for pre-order right meow! Click here to order and continue below for an excerpt of chapter one! 😀 

Happy Friday lovelies! ❤

Chapter One

It’s hard being weird.

—Felicia Day


Thump. Thump. Thump.

It’s normal for my roommate’s antics to wake me up in the dead of night.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

She’s always noisy. Talking. Shrieking with her friends. Playing music too loud. Fooling around with a variety of jocks and frat boys. It’s like she never sleeps. Since we became dormmates last year, I’ve adapted to the noise.

Thump. Thump. Thump.


Noise in the middle of the night . . . that is normal. What’s not normal is my bed shaking in an unmistakable, rhythmic pattern.

The thick blanket over my head and noise cancelling headphones aren’t going to be enough tonight, not when I’m being jostled awake.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Even I can’t pretend to ignore this. Slowly, I peer over the top of my comforter.

Abby’s lamp on her nightstand is aglow, highlighting the top half of the room, but I can’t see any signs of life from this vantage. Her bed is empty.

And yet mybed is still shaking.

Lifting my head a microinch, I search the rest of the room.

There. On the floor. The jerky movements belong to a large pair of Converse, thrusting against the frame of my bed.

It must be Abby and . . . someone.

I don’t recognize the guy on top.

All I can see is the back of a dark head. He’s shirtless and his pants are halfway down his legs, bare bottom exposed. And hairy.


I lower the blanket a little more, curiosity overwhelming the irritation and nervous flutters vying for my attention.

Are all guys so hairy? Do they all leave their pants and shoes on when they engage in late night dorm coitus?

More importantly, why can’t Abby do this stuff on her own bed? Or better yet, somewhere far far away.

I move one of the ear pieces from my noise cancelling headphones and immediately regret it.

Loud moans emanate from the couple on the floor.

It’s two o’clock in the morning. On a Tuesday. I have class in six hours.

Indecision and anxiety battle in my head. I can’t lay here and watch, and I definitely can’t sleep.

If I say something . . . Abby won’t be happy. She already hates me. She loves to make my life hell and even though I try to ignore her, it’s not easy.

If I interrupt their . . . whatever they’re doing, she’ll likely intensify her campaign to make me feel like the smallest life form ever discovered, a nanobe of the lowest order.

Confrontation is not my thing. People in general aren’t my thing. Especially when the people I need to speak with are naked and fornicating.

But before I can make a decision either way, there’s a pounding on the door.

“Abby!” a masculine voice yells.

“Oh, shit,” she hisses. “Get dressed!”

The figures on the floor scramble and yank clothes on and up, but they’re too late.

The door flies open, slamming against the wall.

I flinch under the blanket, but keep it low enough to continue watching.

I can’t look away.

This is worse than a train wreck.

It’s a made for TV movie where the train has been picked up by a tornado, thrown in with a shark, and destroyed by a bomb-wielding B list actor.

Abby snaps her red satiny bra into place and hairy butt man finally jerks his pants up over his rear.

“Are you kidding me?” The man in the doorway has an arm propped against the frame, supporting his long form, like he might crumple to the floor at any moment and this building is the only thing supporting him. His face is slack with disbelief.

I know him.

I mean, I know ofhim.

Fitz Moreland.

Abby’s long-time boyfriend.

They’ve been together since birth or something.

And he’s the “best boyfriend ever and will do anything and believe anything” according to Abby, who brags about their relationship to anyone who’ll listen while simultaneously cheating on him nonstop.

I’ve never actually talked to Fitz Moreland, or seen him this close up, despite the fact we are in our second year of college on the same campus in the same town less than a mile from where we all went to high school together .

I’ve always considered him attractive from afar, but up close it’s even more obvious just how striking he is. He’s the kind of handsome that kicks you right in the gut. His hair is messy, longish and scruffy around the ears. But it’s the way he holds himself. Assured. Confident. Despite the fact his body is currently a taut cable, eyes red, and lips pressed in a thin line of anger.

Abby jabbers out some words, the sentences running together, hands wringing at her waist. “Baby, what are you doing here? This is nothing. It was just a study group, but then everyone left and we were drinking and hanging out and it just happened and we didn’t mean to and it was an accident and it will never happen again. It means nothing.”

“Nothing?” The sound of Hairy-Butt Man’s zipper sliding up punctuates his word.

Silence stretches for a few seconds.

“Kevin?” Fitz says, like he’s just now realized who the other person in the room is. “You’re fucking Kevin?” One hand jerks in Hairy-Butt’s direction.


“Don’t babyme.” Both of Fitz’s hands come up into his hair, carding through the messy strands before releasing. “We’ve been over for a month, and you sent me that text earlier . . . did you wantme to come here and find this?”

Hold on to your horses and other equine animals. They’ve been over for a month?

“Wait, you guys are broken up?” Kevin says, glancing from Abby to Fitz then back to Abby again.

She’s biting her lip, eyes downcast.

“Are you kidding me right now?” Fitz asks. “Is that what you got off on, thinking you were taking someone else’s girl?”

Kevin shrugs. “Seems to me she’s everyone’s good time. You think I’m the first one here?” Since Kevin’s profile is facing me, I have a view of the corner of his mouth as it lifts in a smirk. “You think youwere?”

I also have the perfect view to watch Fitz’s thunderous expression morph into tornado territory.

There’s a beat and then an explosion of movement.

Fitz tackles Kevin and they both surge in my direction—a jumble of snarled limbs tumbling onto the bed near my feet.

Shrieking, I leap away from the melee, but my feet get wrapped up in the comforter. I collapse into Abby.

She’s screaming and crying and I narrowly miss one of her fists flailing toward my face.

Jerking backwards, I work to untangle my arm from between Abby’s legs and my heavy blanket, while simultaneously trying to avoid the beat-down occurring on my bed.

She’s only in a bra and panties. I’ve never been so close to someone so naked in my life.

I can’t get away quickly enough, can’t get air into my lungs. The proximity is too much. The fight is too close in the small space.

Slapping flesh and grunts from only a few feet away accompany my frantic movements. The tightness in my chest builds. I can’t breathe. I can’t get free. My hair snags in Abby’s bra strap and the panic already choking me builds into an inferno.

One leg finally frees from the blanket and I brace it against the floor and jerk back hard, not caring about the pain in my head from losing a chunk of hair to Victoria’s Secret.

Finally, something breaks loose and the momentum knocks me back. My arms windmill in the air, but I can’t stop the trajectory.

I brace myself for impact, but fall short when my head smacks into something—no, someone. There’s a loud crack and a shriek and then I’m knocked to my butt on the hard floor, the impact making my teeth rattle.

Someone is screaming, and it takes a few long seconds to realize it’s not me.

It’s the RA, Cynthia. She’s covering her nose with a hand but it’s not stopping the blood flowing freely down her face.

There’s a crowd standing outside our open doorway, fellow dorm dwellers in pajamas with rumpled hair and cell phones at the ready.

I glance from Cynthia and Abby to Fitz and Kevin, who aren’t fighting anymore. Fitz has Kevin’s throat in one hand, his other primed for bashing, but his face is turned to the commotion. Kevin uses the distraction to push Fitz away from him, Fitz immediately shoves back but then the wailing makes them both stop. Fitz has an open cut on his lip and Kevin’s eye is already swelling.

All eyes are on Cynthia holding her nose. So much blood flowing between her fingers, tap tap tapping on the hard floor.

“There are a large number of blood vessels in the nose. It’s never as bad as it looks,” I say. But no one is listening.

Abby is the first to move, shrugging on a red silk robe and rushing to Cynthia.

“Did she hit you? Let me help.” She shoots me a dirty look, like it’s my fault, before dashing out the door, practically carrying the RA while snapping at the assembled crowd. “Somebody do something! Call someone!”

Fitz and Kevin hurry out the door after her.

Over the rush in my ears from the adrenaline and the tapping of fingers on cell phones, someone says, “Who is she?”




The cops in Blue Falls are probably like most cops in sleepy Texas towns: unused to exercise and overly familiar with free burgers from the Frostee Freeze on Main Street.

The last major crime in town was when someone stole three of Mr. Johnson’s chickens and let them loose in the high school principal’s office. That was before I went there.

The police officers don’t know what to do with a bunch of sniveling coeds and the overly dramatic retellings of the “riot” that broke out in Juniper Hall on this humid autumn night.

No one is leaving, even though the officers keep asking for people to return to their rooms.

An EMT shows up and checks out Cynthia’s nose. Not broken, just bruised. They don’t take her to the hospital, instead bandaging it up and giving her some painkillers.

There are only a handful of scrapes and bruises between the rest of us.

Not surprisingly, most people blame me.

“Why did she hit Cynthia?” Someone in the crowd of onlookers asks.

“Does she even live here?”

I sigh, but say nothing as the cops lead Abby, Fitz, Kevin and I downstairs to the main office on the first floor.

Once they’ve got us in the small room, they have us sit in hard plastic chairs facing each other, Fitz and Abby on one side, Kevin and I on the other.

The office has front facing windows where visitors check in. It’s also where dorm residents go to file complaints or talk to someone about needing lightbulbs or simple repairs.

The cops stay outside the door, talking. I can’t make out the words, just their lulling cadence, but no doubt they’re calling the dean of students.

We sit in silence except for an occasional sniff and murmur from Abby, still trying to get Fitz to talk to her.

I’m numb and exhausted. And cold in the air-conditioned office, even with my galaxy pajama pants and bright pink baggy t-shirt. Despite the cold, I start nodding off, nearly falling asleep when Abby’s voice escalates and yanks me awake.

“You have to forgive me,” she sobs. I’ve never seen her like this. Her mascara runs down her face, her hair is a jumbled blonde mess.

She’s one of those people who’s always put together—like she’s going to a club even when she’s going to an eight AM class. She spends an hour each morning blow-drying her blonde hair into sleek perfection—then another hour giving herself cat eyes and pouty lips. She never leaves the room any other way.  It’s surprising to see her a wreck.

“I don’t have to do anything.” Fitz’s jaw is clenched, his arms crossed over his chest. He leans as far away from Abby as he can get in the cramped space.

I have so many questions. Fitz said they were over. I didn’t imagine it. But Abby never let on anything about them breaking up, if anything, her boasting about Fitz being in her pocket has increased over the last month. Why did they break up? And if they did, why did he show up here tonight and defend her when Kevin spewed his vitriol?

“What are you staring at?” Fitz is glaring at me now, the acerbic and unexpected attention making my cheeks heat and my heart race. “Why are you here anyway? What were you doing in there? Watching the show?”

My mouth pops open but no sound emerges. His eyes flash with anger and it’s directed at me and I don’t know how to respond.  People don’t frequently talk to me unless it’s a quick “excuse me” or “sorry” when we collide because I’m tiny and forgettable. There’s nothing special about my plain brown hair and plain blue eyes and plain features.

I’m not used to confrontation, not since my first week at Blue Falls High four years ago, before I learned how to be invisible.

For sure, no one has ever antagonized me about daring to try and sleep in my own room during a brawl I neither asked for nor instigated.

I mean, imagine my audacity, trying to sleep in my own bed on a Monday night.

All of these thoughts fly through my head at Mach three, followed by an imagined scenario where I’m telling him he’s a Neanderthal prick with a girlfriend who has more insecurities than China has people.

But I’m frozen. An ice berg. The Titanic could hit me and still, I’d remain. My mouth pops open but no sound emerges.

Abby surprisingly comes to my rescue. “She’s my roommate.”

They’re all staring at me now. And still, I can’t speak. Just a block of ice.

“She deaf?” Kevin drawls.

“Leave her alone,” Abby snaps and for a second, warmth kindles in my chest. Is someone actually standing up for me? Abby? Of all people?

But then she continues speaking. “She’s got special needs.”

The heat in my chest fizzles and dies. “I don’t have. . .” The words are a broken ignition on my lips, not quite catching. No time to speak, anyway.

The door opens. The dean of students is here, in his flannel pajamas with rumpled hair and angry eyes.

“I can explain everything,” Abby says, her lashes wet with unshed tears.

The dean’s expression doesn’t lighten at her pleading tone. If anything, it darkens as he stomps into the room.


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Sneak peek! Imperfect Strangers!

Hello lovely friends!! The next book in the Imperfect Series is coming 11/7/18! I’m hard at work on editing, and I’m so excited that I decided to share a little excerpt. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter One

Stay focused. Your start does not determine how you’re going to finish.

–Herm Edwards


I wake up in a strange bed with an arm around my waist.

Not this again.

It’s a nice arm. Solid. Muscular. Strong, clean fingers.

I’ve done worse.

It may not be the first time I’ve woken up in someone else’s bed, but it’s the first time I don’t remember who someone else is.

Disappointment wraps its cold fingers around my neck while my mind rifles through memories of the night before and my body absorbs the heat of the man cuddled around me like he belongs there.

I don’t deserve the comforting heat at my back or the soothing sounds of breathing. Whoever he is, he’s good. I’m an expert cuddler and this guy isn’t even trying to press his morning boner in my back. That’s like tenth level snuggling.

Reality blinks to life and slaps me in the face.

I went to bed last night alone. At Marc and Gwen’s. I’ve been checking in on their apartment occasionally ever since they left the country weeks ago.

So who’s the hottie draped over my midsection like he’s got the right?

Muted grey light filters into the room as the sun forces its way through the concrete jungle outside. I turn my head to get a close up look at my bedfellow and my heart stops.

I know him.

Well, I know of him.

Brent Crawford.

I’m snuggling with the tight end for the New York Sharks? The famous athlete? The gossip rag favorite? New York’s sexiest bachelor?

Technically, this is his bed. He’s Marc’s brother and he does live here but he’s been MIA for months. Where did he come from? And why the hell is he spooning me?

For a few long seconds I don’t move, I just watch him breathe and take in his nearness and slumbering good looks. My eyes linger over the defined angle of his jaw, and the criminally long lashes that women pay hundreds to emulate. I turn my head forward and take in the corded muscles of the arms around me, apparent even in a relaxed state.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any man in possession of such attractions is acutely aware of his own appeal and will use it to his advantage. Over and over and over again. With many, many women.

I used to be one of those women who didn’t mind the game. Hell I loved the game, but I’ve grown up. Men like this . . . they never really do.

I gotta get out of here before I do something dumb.

Oh so carefully, I wiggle to gauge his wakefulness. His grip tightens and he murmurs something unintelligible. Heart pounding, I shift and twist, taking my time and doing moves a contortionist would envy. Eventually I disentangle myself from his arms and slide from the bed. He’s still breathing softly.

I am the queen of escape. A regular Houdini.

My half naked victory dance is halted when I turn back toward the bed and find him sitting up and watching me, his expression a sleepy combination of confusion and interest.

His dark hair is rumpled and sexy and his eyes are a bright shade of blue so mesmerizing I almost rip all my clothes off and jump back into the bed.

Plus, he’s not wearing a shirt. The sheet is covering him only from the waist down, exposing a chiseled chest and arms and . . . is that an eight pack?

“Who are you and why are you in my bed?” His voice is rough with sleep and a zing shoots straight to my lady bits.

Down girl.

“I’m not in your bed,” I point out.

He rubs a hand through his sexy, tousled hair and frowns. “You were.” Those vivid eyes narrow momentarily and then lighten. “You’re Gwen’s friend. Aren’t you living at her apartment? Why are you here?”

My brain shuffles through possible excuses.

Watering the plants got really exhausting and I needed a nap.

Too lame.

I fell asleep while smelling your sheets.

Too creepy.

There’s a ghost in my apartment and I can’t sleep there.

Too unbelievable, even if it happens to be true.

“Oh, would you look at the time?” I glance down at my wrist. There’s no watch there. “I . . . I have to go.” I grab my overnight bag from the chair and bolt for the door.

I slept in only a tank top and panties.

He’s totally getting an eyeful of my ass and cellulite and, ugh.

Doesn’t matter.

“Wait.” He shuffles behind me, pulling on his own clothes but no one can get dressed and undressed as quickly as I can.

It’s an art.

Before he’s even made it out of the bedroom, I’ve pulled my pants out of my bag and I’m out the front door, buttoning as I race down the hall in the direction of the elevator.

The shiny metal doors close me into solitude and I take a deep breath, watching my panicked face in the mirrored walls.

As the elevator descends, laughter bubbles out of my reflection.

I can’t believe I just ran away from the hottest man in the city. I mean, I knew there was a chance I would run into him. Gwen told me he would come back to New York eventually, but no one knew exactly when. I didn’t think I would wake up with him in bed, though. That was definitely a surprise.

How did he not notice someone else sleeping when he got there? Sure, I have a tendency to huddle up into a ball. My friend Lucy would probably tell me it’s because of some kind of internal psychosis or trauma, and she’s probably right, but you’d think he would have turned on a light or something.

I guess I should be thankful he didn’t bring someone home with him. That would have been even more awkward than this morning. Three-way no way.

I wipe a hand down my face with a groan.

Once I reach the bottom floor I ask the doorman to get me a cab to Park Avenue. Might as well go straight to work instead of booking it all the way to Morningside Heights and back. At least I’m close enough to forgo the subway and I have my overnight bag with work clothes still stuffed inside.

As the car pulls away from the curb I consider what I’m going to do now. Since Brent’s here, I guess I won’t have to check the mail and water the plants anymore.

I sink down into the seat of the cab.

But this means I’m going to have a much bigger problem.

How will I ever sleep?


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