RELEASES Jan 15th!
Sterling was Liebe Falls' Golden Boy until he messed around with the Wrong Girl. Rejected and ruined, Paige had to leave town, too. Now they're forced home and have to work together. Never mind a second chance, do they have any chance?
Not In Her Wildest Dreams
I'm excited to bring you a taste of my new duet, releasing Jan 15th and Feb 1. Paige and her brother grew up on the wrong side of town. She's the do-gooder trying to keep her family together. He's the bad boy who goes looking for a fresh start.
You can download a sampler with the first two chapters for both books by clicking on this image, or scroll down to read the opening pages of Not In Her Wildest Dreams.
Sampler - Dreams Duet
Not In Her Wildest Dreams
Small Town Secrets, Big Time Heartache
Paige Fogarty never believed Liebe Falls’ golden boy, Sterling Roy, could want a No Good Fogarty, but one magical night, they kissed—ruining her already murky reputation. Fifteen years later, she’s still reviled, now as a professional accountant auditing Roy Furnishings. It’s a daunting task even before she’s forced to work with him.
Sterling made a fool of himself over Paige once. Never again. He only returns to the factory his mother calls his ‘legacy’ to ensure Paige doesn’t pull a fast one. When their chemistry blazes hotter than ever, he wonders if he misjudged her, but secrets come to light, including an embezzler she tries to protect, proving she’s still the wrong girl. So why does holding onto her feel so right?
“—would have been so much easier, but the fucker just won’t die.”
Paige Fogarty heard the male voice, followed by snorts of laughter, as she came up the wide hospital corridor toward the lounge. The voice was vaguely familiar and the words so tasteless, she instinctively halted. Should she proceed into that nasty conversation or come back in a few minutes?
She hung back, out of sight, glancing around for a ladies’ room even though she didn’t have to go.
While another man said, “That’s Fogarty for you. Always screwing up or screwing you over.”
“Hell yes. Tries to hump himself to death and can’t even get that right.”
Okay, that gravely voice she definitely knew. It was her father’s partner, Walter. They were talking about her dad. Such a classy town.
Leaning forward enough to see into the lounge, which was an open alcove of chairs set against three walls, a coffee table, and a sofa back that formed the invisible fourth wall, she confirmed, yep, that was Walter. Holding a meeting of the Superiority Club with the rest of Liebe Falls’ pillars of the community: the Mayor, the bank manager, and the guy who owned the car lot.
She couldn’t remember all their names, but her father sarcastically called them friends. They weren’t looking at her, too absorbed in referring to Dad as a ‘lucky bastard’ for surviving his latest heart attack and snickering about what a great way it would be to go—on top of a woman young enough to be his daughter.
Paige debated turning on her heel and heading back to Seattle without saying goodbye. The four-hour drive had never looked better. It had already been a brutal three days, but he didn’t need surgery this time, which was a relief. She had to come back when he was released anyway, to help him get settled at home.
But she had promised Zack she would drop off this stupid game on her way, so he could play with Pops when he came by after school. Zack had left his hoodie in her car, too. She’d pulled it on to duck through the rain on the way in. It had his iPod in the pocket so he’d be pretty cheesed with his Auntie Paige if she skipped town with it.
“Did he accept your offer?”
“Said it was probably time, yeah,” Walter said, but his voice sounded tight, like he wasn’t pleased.
Wait. What? Paige stepped forward. “What kind of offer?”
Shoulders jerked, and the men turned to form a horseshoe. As they recognized her, they went from looking surprised to uncomfortable to arrogantly disdainful.
Regret hit her square in the chest. Being the center of attention made her feel awkward at the best of times. When she slipped into town to see her family every couple of weeks, she didn’t usually face these types—the lofty ones who owned Liebe Falls and hated Fogartys on principle.
She loathed being on the defensive and reflexively switched to offense, which was never a good look for her.
“I’m sorry, is this a private conversation? About a man who is lucky to be alive? As opposed to what you were implying,” she said to Walter with a sugary smile. “That death by fornication would be so awesome.”
Shut up, Paige, she thought, but her mouth kept running.
“Maybe show a little respect when you come to visit a friend in the hospital.”
“I’m here for my prostate,” the car lot guy said.
“My daughter had a baby,” the Mayor said, turning red and making for the nearest stair well.
The bank manager swiped his handkerchief over his bald head, starting to stammer, “My wife’s car is in the shop and she’s off shift soon.” He cut himself off and hung his head as he followed the Mayor.
Walter didn’t so much as twitch a white hair.
“Respect is something you earn,” he said with a condescending curl of his lip.
The damp of rain on Zack’s hoodie penetrated to chill whatever heat Paige’s indignation had worked up. She shivered, regressing fifteen years in fewer seconds, once again soiled by talk that she was living up to the family name. She didn’t need this. She could walk away.
And would have, if a man hadn’t come up behind her.
“Excuse me,” he said, touching her shoulder lightly to indicate he’d like to get by.
Her bones turned to sand as recognition of that particular voice dawned. Sterling Roy. Walter’s son.
The battered box of Scrabble in her hand, the one she’d forgotten she was even holding, tilted. She’d meant to tape the end, but there hadn’t been any in the house, not without venturing into Lyle’s shop and monsters abided there. But maybe she should have risked her life and gone looking because the end of the box opened and letter tiles spilled all over the hospital’s green lino.
Maybe she could spell, Terrific, while she was down here, groveling at the feet of these grade-A a-holes.
“Oh hell, I’m sorry.” Sterling crouched with her.
She glimpsed a dark gold crew cut of tousled spikes and a suit that put the other men’s to shame, then lowered her gaze to the scattered game pieces.
“I can do it,” she muttered, opening the box on the floor and thinking the whole thing would have to go into the incinerator. Hospital germs. Gross.
“It’s my fault. I didn’t mean to startle you.” He gathered up x’s and o’s and offered them to her.
What the hell was he doing here?
Apparently Walter found it equally questionable.
“What are you doing here?” He moved to stand above them.
“Plane was late.” Sterling’s voice had grown deeper, developing a hint of North Carolina ease. “I called Mom. She said you were here, seeing Grady. I thought you might need an exit strategy—”
Rude. Paige stopped what she was doing to look at him.
He met her gaze and shock froze his gorgeous features, giving her time to note that his all-American looks had matured into sculpted, Prince Charming perfection. His strong jaw was stronger, the cleft defined and lightly coated in brown-gold stubble. His straight nose was more arrogant, his lips full and sensual without being pretty. His brows had darkened enough to frame his eyes.
Those eyes were that kind of painful, mid-winter blue that was so intense it hurt to look into them. A cloud of scent surrounded him that was clean like rain, but warm and welcoming, masculine and enticing.
When did anyone ever feel their blood moving in their arteries? She did. Right now. Her whole body came alive with subtle throbs and a generation of heat that would embarrass her to death when it hit her cheeks.
“Paige.” His expression smoothed to something more neutral and polite while his gaze took in the hood that she’d pulled over her hair and the way the oversized hoodie hung off her narrow shoulders so much more loosely than it did on her fifteen-year-old nephew.
“I’ve seen Grady. We can leave now,” Walter urged.
Paige heard the tension in Walter’s voice and understood his impatience stemmed from Sterling being this close to Paige.
Because she was so irresistible to him.
Slapping the lid on the box, she stood, being careful to keep her hand over the broken end.
“Always a pleasure to see you, Sterling,” she said as he rose in front of her. She punctuated with a brilliant smile that she conjured purely to annoy his father.
It died on contact. Sterling wasn’t easy to lie to. His gaze traveled from her to his father and back.
Then he returned her killer smile with his own, letting his gaze linger as he surveyed her face as if he had every right to take a long perusal of her lack of make-up and dismayed scowl.
“Likewise,” he said, super friendly and edging toward charismatic, punishing her, she supposed, for daring to attempt to use him in a power play.
Rich and good-looking wasn’t enough for him. He had to be perceptive, too. Jerk.
He hadn’t changed much from the few times she’d spotted and avoided him, when they’d both been in town over the last fifteen years. He had filled out the way some men did in their thirties, from lanky to perfect, but he still had the celebrity air that made him the alpha-male just by showing up.
While she felt like the ultimate scullery maid, standing here with her broken board game, tongue-tied in the presence of the Homecoming King.
“No time to catch up,” she said with an edge of mockery. “I’m just saying ‘bye to Dad before I get on the road back to Seattle. Nice to see you.” Die.
“I hope he recovers quickly.” Sterling was better at sounding sincere than she was. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
Sarcastic ass. She wanted to show him her finger.
He looked to his father as a signal they leave.
She turned toward the corridor that would take her to her father’s room, but she hadn’t gone two steps before she heard, “Whoa, there.”
And why was part of her oddly pleased that he was calling her back? She ought to ignore his condescending order, but spun around to see what that arrogant pr—
Sidestepping to the nearest wastebasket, Paige threw the game away then cupped her hand for a few squirts of disinfectant. She rolled it into her skin as she walked to where Sterling was helping her father’s girlfriend stand upright.
“Sweetie, I thought you were sleeping? How did you get here?” Paige asked her.
“Drove,” Rosie slurred.
No, no, no. Rosie was smashed, swaying in her heels, blond curls crushed by the pillow where Paige had left her. Her make-up was smudged and she looked even more tired than Paige felt. Yet younger, wearing skinny jeans and a crop top. Paige felt about a million years old next to her, despite the fact they were both thirty-two.
“You drove Dad’s car? Rosie, you can’t drive like this.” Paige said it firmly, but without anger. She didn’t shame, didn’t let herself engage too deeply at all. Years of dealing with alcoholics had taught her there was no point in taking this personally, although she would check in with the police, make sure there hadn’t been any hit and runs in the last fifteen minutes.
This was awful.
“Let’s sit down,” Sterling suggested, starting to steer Rosie toward the lounge.
“Actually, can you help me get her to my car? I have to take her home.” No way could she leave Rosie here to get herself back to the house. The car, however, would stay here at the hospital. The keys might even come to Seattle with her.
“Sterling.” Walter’s bushy brows lowered with disapproval.
“Dad,” Sterling shot back, impatient at being scolded. “Go ahead. I’ll meet you at home.”
“I want to see Grady. Is he okay? I need to see he’s okay,” Rosie whimpered. “Every time I close my eyes...” Her voice trailed off into an anguished moan.
She had already treated Paige to the play-by-play of exactly how and when her father’s heart attack had happened. Super awful. Paige felt for her, she really did, but seriously, way too much information.
Why did you move all the way to Seattle, Paige?
Because she couldn’t afford airfare to Australia.
“Let’s get you home,” Paige said, pointing Sterling toward the elevator. “You have to work tomorrow, remember?”
“They fired me!”
When had that happened? Fan-freaking-tastic.
“I’ll call them. See if we can work something out,” Paige said, even as she silently wailed that she so didn’t need this. “It will be okay.”
“Thank you, Paige.” Rosie let out a big sob and lurched out of Sterling’s grip to fling herself at Paige for a hug, but her feet weren’t moving as fast as the rest of her. As she pitched forward, her brow cracked into Paige’s cheekbone.
Jolting pain cut through the dull headache Paige was already nursing.
She tangled arms with Rosie, trying to push her away, but Rosie yelped and hung on, completely off balance. They both staggered and tilted. She was going down and taking Paige with her.
A strong arm scooped behind Paige’s back, firm and a little too proprietary, leveling her onto her feet. Sterling. Of course it was him, freaking white knight, clasping her into his muscled frame like some bare-chested hero from a romance novel cover, smelling like a high-end magazine sample.
He released Paige so he could pry Rosie off her and support her himself. Walter was making choking noises, but Sterling only wore an expression of pained patience.
Rosie touched her eyebrow and said, “That hurt.”
No kidding. Paige blinked back tears and covered her hot cheek, wondering if she was going to have a shiner.
Walter grumbled at them to get into the elevator and touched the button for the ground floor.
A moment later, Rosie went completely lax as Sterling buckled her into the passenger seat of Paige’s hatchback.
“Thanks,” Paige said begrudgingly from the driver’s side, twisting to put her purse on the floor in the back seat.
“You’re taking her to Grady’s? I’ll follow you, help you get her into the house.”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” Paige dismissed, mentally rearranging her day and desperately wanting it to be over.
“She outweighs you. Is your brother there to help?”
She sighed. Who knew where Lyle was these days.
“Even if he’s not, I’ll manage,” she insisted.
He slid his gaze to where Rosie’s head lolled. It looked like Paige was tampering with a body.
“She said she can manage,” Walter said, jangling his keys.
“I’ll meet you at home, Dad,” Sterling insisted and closed the door on Rosie’s side, not giving Paige another opportunity to argue.
Please let Lyle be home, she prayed as she shifted into reverse and backed out of her spot, even though Lyle hated Sterling enough there might actually be a dead body at the end of any run-in those two men might have.
She really didn’t need Sterling coming to the house and being all judgey. She had done what she always did when she was there: vacuumed, dusted, cleaned out the fridge and brought in fresh groceries, but that didn’t change reality. The house was neglected and dated and worn. Lyle treated the bottom floor like something between a speak-easy and a metal shop.
She really didn’t need Sterling, with his Italian leather shoes—yes, she had noticed those and recognized the brand because her ex wore them—and his silk tie and his manor-born manners getting an eyeful of where she came from.
She was too ashamed.
~ * ~
I hope you're intrigued. You can get your copy of Not In her Wildest Dreams here:
Be sure to look for Book Two in The Dreams Duet, Only In His Sweetest Dreams.
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