Medieval Female Exorcist - 'Dark Maiden' by Lindsay Townsend. Chapter One

Dark Maiden: Part One.

Chapter One 
England, the North, summer 1350.

She could smell the spirits of the restless dead. It was not the sickly sweet rot of the fleshy body, nor the whiff of lavender and violets of the saints. Demons, being fallen angels, did not stink of sulfur,  but the angry dead were ripe with it.
Yolande crouched behind the  bathtub  with her bow, hunting by waiting. She  heard the murmur of distant prayers in the summer twilight as the nuns and novices performed another sacred office. With her right shoulder snug against the tub, she flexed her legs and toes within her man’s leggings and boots, grateful she was not yet numb. She did not think her task would take too long.
The novice Mary-Joanna should have been bathing tonight, to ease her aching joints. She was a comely young woman,  but powerfully afflicted by pain. Yolande, a head taller and blessed with vigorous health, pitied the girl. She did not know if Mary-Joanna had a true vocation, but she agreed with the abbess that the novice should not be beleaguered by an evil imp when she was semi naked  within this tiny bathhouse.
Evil imp was how the abbess described the apparition. After listening to the older woman’s account of its habits, Yolande had her own suspicions. She had agreed willingly to pretend to bathe in Mary-Joanna’s place.
The bow and its arrows had been blessed by the abbess and dipped in holy water, to cover all possibilities.
She breathed in slowly, sensing her own balance, feeling the sacred herbs she always wore about her throat brush dryly against her skin. She saw no movement but her ears , thank the saints, were good and she heard a slight shuffling outside.
Yolande braced herself, chanting the great prayer of Saint Patrick, known as Saint Patrick’s breastplate, within her mind. As if in answer to her prayer, the door to the narrow lean-to yawned open.
A figure loomed across the threshold, faceless, soundless and black, even as the abbess had said. It slithered inside and closed the door again.
The spirit torments our novices, manifesting to them within the bathhouse, seeking to steal their immortal souls, the abbess had said.
“Sneak a peek, more likely.” Yolande’s heart was as steady as a slow drum inside her chest. “No spirit stops to shut a door.” She set and released an arrow  all in one, smooth, practiced movement.
The arrow flew, hissing across the bathhouse tiles. The “spirit” howled as its cloak was pinned to the door, and tugged desperately at the caught cloth  with a spindly human hand.
Dropping her bow, Yolande sprinted and lunged, knocking the man hard against the solid wood, jamming her elbow across his scrawny throat.
“You… bitch…black…bitch,” the fellow wheezed as she pulled off his hood.
“But no restless dead,” Yolande countered. She stripped him of his eating dagger then yanked him round while he was still shocked and tied his hands behind his back with his own hood.
“Could not see you…” The man was still grumbling. “You are so black.”
“Not as black as my father, nor as white as my mother,” Yolande replied. “You should be considering how you can plead with the sisters, instead of wondering about me.”
She put her hand firmly on his shoulder to “guide” him to the abbess. From his faint stench of fear— urine, sweat and manure, she knew he was utterly human. Her skills as an exorcist had not been needed, not against this gawping lecher, who liked to watch the pretty novices as they bathed.
Would that all my trials were so easy. At least there is no more here than this, Mother be thanked. It is not my final contest, not yet.

The convent was small and poor but the abbess invited Yolande to stay for the night. She accepted gratefully, asking only if she might pray in church before the shrine of the Virgin Mary.
“All penitents are welcome, daughter,” said the abbess, her wrinkled face pinched with curiosity. She took in Yolande’s outlandish attire with rapid, considering glances. “Let me guide you.”
Resigned, Yolande nodded thanks, matched her long, loose stride to her companion’s trip-trotting gait and waited for the first question.
Sure enough, as they entered the dimmed church of the convent the abbess asked, “You are not a religious? You belong to no order?”
“No, Mother.”
Beside her, the shorter woman pursed her lips. “You are still of the world?”
“I am.”
The abbess crossed herself. “So how are you an exorcist, if you have no vocation?”
Yolande had been asked this often and each time she gave the same answer. “I have a duty, Mother, as my father did before me.”
“But how?”
“In these times, when so many religious are falling to the pestilence, God calls others.” Wishing to say no more, especially concerning her parents, she asked simply, “May I pray, Mother?”
The abbess did not refuse her request. Instead, as if Yolande herself had developed the pestilence, she waddled hastily away, her habit flying.
Yolande chuckled softly and turned to the painted statue of the Virgin, ready to begin her vigil.
* * * * *
Geraint the Welshman unwrapped the wooden crucifix and set it on the trestle between him and the lanky-haired pardoner. Around them, men continued to haggle over deals and drinking games, their faces shrouded by the sooty torches and smoky fire. A pardoner in an alehouse at any hour, especially this early in the morning, should have been worthy of remark, but these days no one said or saw anything. With plague stalking every town and village street in England, men stayed home with their families or made themselves drunk, falling-down-blind drunk, in the alehouses.
Few wanted to watch or pay for his juggling these days, so when this pardoner had sidled across, clutching a rough cloth bag and wheedling for a moment of his time, Geraint had let the fellow buy him a cup of wine.
“You trust me to deliver this?” He tapped the crucifix. “I could take it for firewood.”
“Not if you know what is wise for you, my son.”
Geraint stiffened slightly  but told himself that the pardoner could not know his past. Yes, he had been a novice in a monastery and yes, at age ten he had punched the novice-master and been expelled, but had he the time again he would do the same. Old crook-nose, as he was now, would be less eager to fondle the boys under his charge.
“Your threat does not impress, brother,” he replied.
“Forgive me. I am the messenger only. But if this is not delivered to Yolande, she will have your skin.”
Geraint drained his cup, chewing on the lees, and made to leave.
“Listen.” The pardoner was so earnest that his face had gone as red as his script. “She is at the convent of the Holy Sisters of Fealty beyond the old Roman fort, ridding them of an evil imp, or so I have been told. You could walk there in less than two hours and win her gratitude.”
Geraint picked up the crucifix. It was plain and heavy and he had a sense that it was very old. “Why not go yourself? Or is there sickness at the convent?”
“Not at all, not at all.” The older man had the grace to look embarrassed. “Let me say only that Yolande is less tolerant of men such as myself.”
“You tried to trick her once,” Geraint translated. “Has she a husband, father or brother that you are so terrified?”
“None, none, but she needs none. She expels devils. She carries the bow of Saint Sebastian.”
Geraint was intrigued. He was wandering nowhere in particular so he could visit the convent. The nuns would feed him too. “Is there a message?”
The pardoner inclined his head  toward the cross. “That is the message, I was told. Not for the likes of me to question, I was told.”
“And how shall I know her?”
“Very tall for a woman, slim, pretty if you admire dark girls, and with her bow usually slung across her back. She wears me n’s clothes.”
“Aping men? The church has not moved against her for that? Or the sheriff?”
“Not in these times, with so many dying of the pestilence and the whole world preparing for the last days. Let any judgment of her be the final one, before God, I say.” “The pardoner shrugged, avoiding his eyes. “Will you take it?”
Geraint glanced at his long fingers wrapped around the feet of the wooden Christ and ignored the warning prickle at the back of his neck. “Seems I already have.”
* * * * *
The following morning, passing the bread and cheese that the sisters had generously given her to a beggar outside the convent walls, Yolande sensed someone watching.  She turned, forced to take a rapid backward step as a stranger trod on her shadow. She had not heard his approach.
“Mistress Yolande?”
“You have the advantage, mister. You know my name.” She smiled to take any sting from her words. “May I know yours?”
Greetings and courtesy were important to her. Each gave clues as to character and wishes. She had once known a demon, beautifully polite, who would have ripped the flesh from her bones had she not bound him by his own rules of manners.
The stranger bowed, a good sign. He muttered something in a language she did not know, which was not good. She moved a little closer, ready to boot him in the balls if he did anything unsavory.
“Geraint Welshman, at your service.” He crouched then looked straight at her. “I am just taking something from my pack, if it please you.”
She grinned at him to prove she was unafraid, her body heavy and languid as she itched to go onto the balls of her feet, ready to scrap. A quick stab to those astonishing black-blue eyes, a swipe at his knee and Geraint the Welshman would be groveling in the hard-packed mud.
Which would be a shame for such a glorious face. He bent his head, showing his trust of her, to rummage in his pack. He was a good-looking brute, not too muscled but as lean and wiry as herself. There was a soft jangle of bells within his patched shoulder-pack, revealing him as a wandering entertainer, a less deadly mirror of herself. They were even about the same height.
I entertain the restless dead before I send them on. What must it be like to work for living laughter?
Hard, she guessed, noting his less-than-clean black hair, the scars on his knuckles, his drab motley, missing bits of ribbons and coins. He was darker that she was, tanned by many suns, and with excellent teeth.
Strong, rangy and in no hurry to stick to one place, but a honeyman all the same. She felt a flicker of interest, a few youthful, girlish hopes. She was ten-and-eight these days, young for an exorcist but ripe for marriage. Her father, a remarkable man, had managed both.  She missed him, but her time would surely come—maybe with this Welshman.
“The pardoner said you would understand the message with this.” Geraint interrupted her reverie as he laid a crucifix down on the rutted road, on top of his pack to keep it from the dirt.
Yolande stared at it, all hopes forgotten in an instant. She sensed the earth shifting beneath her feet as the blood pounded within her temples, making her convinced the top of her skull might shatter. “Oh, great Maria, already?” she said, unaware she had spoken aloud, crossing herself, making the sign of the cross above the crouching Geraint. The great bow across her shoulders creaked as if in warning.
So soon! I must prepare with care. If this sign is right, there can be no mistakes. Pray that I am ready. It is so soon, so soon…

He saw her face change, becoming as still as a mask. Then she blinked. “I do understand it.  My thanks to you, master Geraint. How may I aid you in return? Are you thirsty or hungry?”
“Ale is always welcome,” he answered quickly, “but for now the pleasure of your company on the road will be more than payment.”
She raised her pretty eyebrows at that. The rest of her was  pretty too , if such a plain word could be used for such exotic looks. By “dark” he had expected black hair, which Yolande had—long, shimmering waves of the stuff, very clean but caught in a simple clasp at the back of her slender neck as if she had no time for any fuss. Her eyes were either brown or black—he could not be sure—but they were clear and steady as if she looked straight to the heart of things.
To the heart of me, for sure. Geraint liked women, loved their smell and feel and their cockeyed way of looking at the world. For all her man’s clothing, Yolande was very much a woman, and a love worthy of Solomon. Her skin was a beautiful shade of bronze, smooth as polished wood, and her eyelashes were double-lashed. She had a narrow face and elegant bones but there was a strength in her, character and soul together. He could imagine her besting devils.
For the rest…the performer in him knew at once that she should be in bright colors, reds and yellows and blues, not the drab serge of a thatcher. If she was in his company for long—and he intended she would be—he would tempt her into a brighter manner of dress.
For she has the glory of the evening in her. She wins me already and does not know it.
“I do not chatter,” she said, unaware of his inner tumult. “I have a way to go.”
Better still. He admired how she did not admit where she was headed. “For today then?” He lifted his hands, palms up. “To the nearest house of honest folk, who will let you sleep by their hearth and me in their hayloft?”
“You wish to squire me to safety?”
“For the pleasure of—”
“For the pleasure of  my company. Yes, Geraint the Welshman, you said that already.” But she was smiling as she spoke and he knew she would agree.
“Shall I carry this?” He motioned to the cross. “You have your bow and bag already, and it will be no trouble.”
After a moment she strode out like a youth, leaving him to catch up. Geraint admired her graceful gait and did not hurry. He wanted their day to last.
By then I may have won another day in her company.
* * * * *
At the end of their day together, Yolande slept with him in the hayloft of a new, nervous reeve in a village called Lower Something-Or-Other. Geraint had missed the name and was not interested in the shabby, defeated place anyway. He had offered to juggle and been told “no,” offered to chop wood and been shown a blunt axe.
Yolande, graceful and self-contained as a cat, apparently oblivious to the villagers’ stares and whispers, had paid for her lodging with gold coin. She had rebuilt the hearth fire too, with permission from the goodwife, and made flat cakes on the hearth—cakes that melted in Geraint’s mouth and exploded with spices on his tongue.
“I had the spices from a cook on London Bridge as a thank you,” she told him when he asked how she had made them. She did not say what she had done for the cook and he knew better than to ask, at least in the hearing of others.
She had surprised him by sleeping in the loft with him, but the reeve had been growing bolder through the evening, taking every chance he could to touch her. Geraint would have punched the fellow or cracked his greasy fingers, but Yolande was content to put herself above such petty gropings. He marveled at her patience.
She slept, her breathing light and soft, and he was glad to hear her slumbering in the stale, sparse hay, only the stretch of a hand away from him. He had not slept and had eased the ladder up into the loft with them. He did not quite trust the reeve, although the fellow was snoring loudly enough to put a sleeping bear to shame.
It was July and in the summer night he could see Yolande, her great bow—which he meant to ask her about, oh yes—laid beside her within easy reach. She lay curled on her side, her hair  wound about her long throat, her limbs twitching as she dreamed.
What do you dream of, my lady?
“So many dead, so many restless dead.”
The hair on his scalp rose as if trying to escape. Yolande was sitting up beside him, rigid as a pole. She was sleeping still, though her eyes were open.
Her voice was full of pain. “How can I help them all? This sickness is a plague and we are in the last days.”
Geraint cracked his knuckles together. He did not believe that, not for a moment. While in the monastery, he had heard of a time when men learned that a thousand years had passed since Christ had died . People had thought the world would end then, but it had not.
“Rest, it is nighttime,” he said quietly. He did not want her sleepwalking like a little child, for she would be a danger to herself. “Rest, Yolande.”
She sighed and lay down again. “This place is soaked in the evil of men.  Geraint senses it too. I can tell from his scent. And he does not like to touch the crucifix. He could be an exorcist, with training.”
This was news to him but he kept silent. He was startled that she had noticed his reluctance to handle the ancient cross, but could not understand how that was a point in his favor.
“We must leave early. Get away before the others wake. I must gather herbs, sacred herbs. Saint John’s wort and rosemary, lavender and hyssop. “
He agreed with that, grinning as he savored the “we”. He cleared his throat, cutting off her sleepy list. “Sleep now, Yolande. I will help you with the green stuff.”
“What has possessed them?”
He did not know who the “they” were and did not care. “We shall find out. Sleep, Yolande.”
“I would rest in honeyman’s arms, but it would not work. Men want more, want all and I cannot. I cannot give all.” She sank into the hay, leaving him more wakeful than ever.
What a nickname! Even the little you give me, lady, stirs me. “Honey-Man,” he said aloud, and smiled.

She woke him before dawn, just as the birds were stirring. “If you are still with me, we have a long way to travel, and should go,” she whispered. “I will leave more gold by the hearth.”
Swiftly he gathered their things. Whatever she had said in her sleep last night about his senses, his wits were nagging him to leave and leave fast.
She lowered the ladder and, before he could stop her and go first, she vanished into the swirling half-light, her bow rattling softly on her shoulders. He followed by swinging down from the loft, the pack on his shoulders bouncing painfully, the crucifix stabbing into the small of his back.
She was at the door, wrestling with the rope hasp. Figures round the banked fire were sitting up, shouting. There was the glint of a drawn knife.
Geraint scooped up her gold coin from the hearth, ran to the door, cut the rope with his dagger and dragged her outside with him. They pelted through the reeve’s garden in a shower of thrown pebbles and curses, crushing beans and peas, sprinting to outrun the lumbering pursuit.
Yolande  ran ahead of him into a field of tall wheat.  She hooked him off his feet and dragged him into cover below the bobbing heads of wheat and corncockle.
“Here.” He offered her the coin, but she put a finger to her lips. Silent, they lay in the field, waiting for the searchers and hearing only a skylark high overhead.
“Those people gave up quickly,” she said after a moment.
“No energy for a chase.”
Her eyes narrowed into slits. “I can fight for myself. I am no helpless child.”
Except at night, when you rise and talk in your sleep. “Right. Next time you can open the door.”
She chuckled, her brief anger vanishing like summer fog. “They have gone, have they not?”
“They have never come here,” he replied at once. She was testing him again, seeing what his senses told him. To cover his amusement he jumped up, cut a caper and drew her to her feet. She was light, her fingers warm against his. He wanted to squeeze them a little before he let her go, but wanted to win her trust, so released her at once.
She led the way and, with Geraint content to protect her back and watch her womanly dip and sway as she walked, they set out again.

More details of 'Dark Maiden' here.
Can be pre-ordered from Ellora's Cave here.
Can be pre-ordered from Amazon US here and Amazon UK here.
Can be pre-ordered from Barnes and Noble here

Lindsay Townsend

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So, I've had a fun and busy week! It was my birthday on Friday, and I got an extra present with the release of my new book, the second in my paranormal romance series, Serafina's, which features a unique psychic investigation agency based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Serafina and the Virtual Man, the sequel to Serafina and the Silent Vampire, focuses on Sera's troubled hacker friend, Jilly, and her discovery of a computer genius's ghost haunting his own virtual reality game :). Here's the blurb and an excerpt (with one swear word!).

Ebook $2.99, from and Amazon UK

Real man versus dead man - no contest!

Dale Ewan, the wealthy owner of Genesis Gaming, has a serious poltergeist problem. In desperation, he calls on Edinburgh's unique psychic investigation agency, Serafina's.

But Sera and her hacker friend, the beautiful and aggressive Jilly, find more than one spirit haunting the ugly country house. While Sera fights the poltergeist, Jilly encounters what appears to be the ghost of Dale's brilliant ex-partner, Genesis Adam, trapped in his own new virtual reality system.

Jilly delves headlong into Adam's mystery. How did he get there? Why is he more exciting and attractive than any of the real men in her life? How are Jilly's own criminal brothers involved in his death? And what are Dale and his wife Petra hiding? Apart from the body buried in their garden...

While Jilly falls in love with the sexy, virtual ghost, Sera has problems of her own, not least the shadowy presence of the undead Founder that seems to threaten Sera, her vampire lover Blair, and all her friends.


Jilly stared at the stranger in front of her. Typical. The first man she’d met in ages whom she didn’t want to punch, and he was short of the full shilling.

“Dead? Why should I be dead,” she snapped. “Are you?”

He dragged one hand through his untidy black hair and down over his stubbly jaw. “Well, yes, I think so.”

Jilly blinked. “You look pretty lively to me. Where did you come from?”

He gazed around. “I don’t know. Sort of—asleep, and then I was here looking at you.”

Shit, she hadn’t even seen him in her desperation to get at the computers. He hadn’t been on the benches… Perhaps he’d been under them? Or wandered in from somewhere else in the house, through the outer study?

“Who are you?” she asked. And then since attack was the best method of defence: “What are you doing here?”

“Adam. And I don’t know.” His dark gaze came back to her. His frown deepened. “Are you sure you aren’t dead?” He stepped closer, reached out one curious, hesitant hand, and touched her cheek. Almost as if he imagined she’d disintegrate on contact.

Warm fingers, slightly rough in texture…

Her breath caught, but since his hand slid away almost immediately, she’d no reason to shove or punch. She curled her hands into fists but kept them still at her side.

“Soft,” he murmured as if pleased by the discovery. His frown cleared, and his lips quirked upward, almost smiling. “So soft.”

Jilly flushed. “Only on the outside. Why do you keep saying ‘dead’?”

“I remember dying.” The frown was back. “I was shot. Hurt like hell.”

“You’ve been dreaming,” Jilly said with a dismissive flap of one hand.

He nodded. “Could be. Or I could be wasted. Certainly never imagined the afterlife would resemble Dale’s testing lab.”

“Is that what this place is?” Jilly asked with interest. “What’s he testing?”

The frown between his brows twitched. His lips parted, and he sank backward, leaning his hip against the edge of the bench. “Of course… Wow. Shit, this is mind-blowing. I can remember.”

“Remember what?”

“My life… Well, most of it. No wonder everything’s so unreal.” His glazed eyes came back into focus, sparkling with excitement as he gazed at her face. “And you—did I really manage to think you up too?”

“No, you fucking didn’t,” Jilly said indignantly, and a grin flickered across his face. He had a good grin, boyish and spontaneous, allowing her a glimpse of what might, in other circumstances, be a fun-loving personality.

“Thought not. You’re much too grumpy.”

Jilly felt her lips part in shock. She wasn’t used to anyone calling her something as unpleasantly mundane and trivial as “grumpy.” Even Sera usually just ignored her or threw things at her when she got bad tempered. Men either told her she was beautiful in a placating sort of a way or backed off in terror, which was just as it should be.

Amusement lingered in his dark eyes as he straightened and began to pace around the room.

“Trust me, it’s a fascinating combination, and I’m very glad to have met you. Although I wish I was alive to enjoy the experience to the full.”

Jilly rolled her eyes. “Oh, for… Are you back at the dead thing again? You want to see a doctor, or preferably a shrink.”

He spread his hands wide at his side and came to a halt just in front of her. “Feel free to bring one.”

She had to crick her neck to look him in the eye. She wished she wasn’t so aware of his tall, strong body only inches from hers, and confusion made her snappish.

“You’re not my problem, pal. Look, just walk past me and out the door.”

She stepped aside with a strange mixture of relief and disappointment. He glanced at the door. His brows twitched. Then he took one pace forward and stopped. Suddenly, he looked lost, and, stupidly, her heart tugged as if he were an abandoned child.

“Come on,” she muttered ungraciously. “I have to get out of here anyway. Follow me.” She marched to the door, turned to make sure he was coming too—and found an empty room.

Hope you're intrigued! And if you haven't yet read Book 1, Serafina and the Silent Vampire, it's still available for $2.99 from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and i-Books.

Happy reading!


Real man versus dead man - no contest!
Serafina and the Virtual Man, Ebook Out Now

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New Release! Wedding Heat: Catering to the Masses

Taylor’s never been one to bottle up his emotions. As an out, gay, twenty-three-year-old resort waiter, he’s tired of being told to “take it like a man” every time something upsets him. And Bill upsets him more than anything.

Yeah, sleeping with his married boss is a really bad idea, but Taylor can’t seem to stop. When Bill breaks another date, the only shoulder for Taylor to cry on belongs to his roommate and coworker, an aboriginal trans guy named Jordan.

Level-headed Jordan convinces him to work his shift, even after a blow-out with Bill the Bully, but all bets are off when Taylor reveals a secret his roommate’s not supposed to know.

Will the cater-waiters’ night of rebellion get them fired, or can they take down their big bad boss once and for all?

WARNINGS: This gay transgender love story contains explicit sex and rebellious romance.

Word Count: 8,500


These days, Jordan was the only real friend Taylor had at the resort. Convenient that they were roommates.

“Aren’t you getting dressed?” Jordan asked when he came out of the bathroom. He always changed in there. Taylor had never seen him naked, not even shirtless.

“No,” Taylor moaned. “Tell Bill I’m dead. Tell him I killed myself. I bet he wouldn’t even care.”

Jordan heaved a sigh. “What did dickface do this time?”

“Ripped my heart out and spit on it, then stomped on it, then spit on it again.”

“Okay, but what did he really do?”

Taylor watched Jordan take off his silver rings and put them in the wooden box where he kept things that were special. Bill wouldn’t let them wear jewellery while they were serving guests. Earrings were the only exception, though Bill didn’t like piercings on guys. Taylor had taken out his eyebrow rings at the beginning of the season. The holes had probably closed up by now.

The things we do for goddamn fucking love!

“Remember how he said he was gonna plan something special for next weekend, since we don’t have a wedding booked?” Taylor would have been crying if he hadn’t already drained himself of tears. “Well he told his stupid wife he had the weekend off and she went and booked some family bullshit.”

“So he bailed on you, huh?” Anyone else would say it served Taylor right for fucking a married guy, but Jordan only seemed to see his pain. “I’m sorry, bud. You can come to the capital, if you want. My mom’s driving me and my sister up for the Pride parade. We got a 2-Spirit float this year.”

The thought of celebrating his love of men rather than hiding his love for Bill (not that everybody at the resort didn’t know) certainly appealed to Taylor. He perched on one elbow and looked at Jordan. “You know, you’re the only 2-Spirit person I’ve ever met.”

“Come next weekend.” Jordan leaned against the tall dresser. “You’ll meet a few more.”

Want more?  

Buy links:


All Romance:



Rainbow eBooks:

Now also available from:




Giselle Renarde is an award-winning author of transgender erotic romance.  Her Wedding Heat series covers all the bases, from first times to older couples, cis, trans, gay, straight, vanilla, kinky, and all points in between!  Find out more at: 

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A PERFECT FIT is available at

Marissa Lambert is furious her agent hired a security agency to protect her. Just because two plus-size models have turned up dead doesn’t mean she’s at risk. Besides, she can take care of herself! 

Beau Evans owns Evans Security. The moment he watches Marissa sashay down the runway, he gets a serious itch that doesn't go away. Once they succumb to the lust in their blood there's no turning back.

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Anniversary excerpt: Gardening and Death, what a pair

The first book in the Deadly Landscaping series released on this day last year. Gardening and murder, what a combination! From Lilacs, Litigation and Lethal Love Affairs....

Cassie Whittington, a 50-something ex-IT professional, is finishing a college degree in horticulture when she finds a body in the greenhouse, her new boss is suspected of the crime, her ex-husband Charlie wants back in her life, and she inherits a few million dollars. Her life is taking twists and turns she never could have imagined!

I looked up, belatedly realizing some words were being spoken. The lawyer droned through a series of bequests to friends then she came to the family, her eyes darting from Livvie to John to Becky. When her gaze came to Charlie, it lingered slightly and I hid a smile. Many women had that reaction to Charlie.

“To my granddaughter, Olivia Whittington Carlyle, I leave my collections of china and crystal so she might have a suitable means to entertain her friends.”

Livvie smiled and raised her martini glass. “Thank you, Grandy. I appreciate it.” I think she was even sincere.

“To my granddaughter, Rebecca Whittington Stark, I leave my diaries and scrapbooks which chronicle several of the disappointments I’ve endured in my life. I hope she will learn from them.”

Becky appeared faintly amused but her husband looked put out, as though he’d expected something more substantial from the old lady. I suppose whenever a rich person died, the vultures all started circling.

“...grandson, John, I leave my shares in his design company, which I purchased years ago to assist him in getting his start in business.”

I hid a smile. The shares were next to useless because John owned the majority of the stock in the company. I suppose it was nice he would have 99.9% of the stock, though. A look at his face told me he, like Becky’s husband, expected far more from this day and from the old lady who died.

The lawyer cleared her throat. “To my beloved grandson, Charles, I leave two of my prized collections: the one of Hummel figurines and the other, my collection of software stock.” She raised her eyes from the paper and looked at Charlie, two bright spots of pink color standing out on her pale cheeks.

There was a silence in the room then the import of the words soaked in. “Stock?” John demanded.

The lawyer looked at him, her eyes cool and distant behind her businesslike dark-rimmed glasses. “Mrs. Penningford had an impressive portfolio.” Then she smiled at Charlie, giving him a look of conspiratorial mischief that made me grin. The look vanished almost instantly behind a brisk fa├žade.

Charlie squeezed my shoulder. “I always told her the future was in technology. I guess she listened to me.”

The lawyer looked at his hand on my shoulder and her face seemed to flatten, her faintly Asian features stiffening. She nodded briskly, her eyes going back to the papers she held. “Your grandmother had a nice portfolio with Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, and Nintendo, some of which have had stock splits over the years.”

John looked like he was struggling not to scream. I peered up at Charlie. “Nice to know she took your advice.”

“And to my granddaughter-by-proxy, Cassandra Roberta Wheelock Whittington, I leave the balance of my estate, including my homes in Shorewood, Minnesota and Naples, Florida as well as the cabin on Lake Vermillion in Northern Minnesota. Cassie’s friendship has been a constant joy in my life for almost fifty years, since she came to live with us as a small child. I always enjoyed our Saturday afternoon tea, which she never missed regardless of how busy she was. I’ve valued her love and her friendship deeply. As a provision of this bequest, I ask that Cassie allow Betty Burke to remain in the home in Shorewood as long as Betty so desires and if Betty chooses to leave, that Cassie sees to it Betty is provided with a proper home and retirement income.”

I turned my head slowly to stare at the lawyer, my jaw sagging open. “What?”

“What?” John’s shout was certainly louder than my whisper.

Livvie started to laugh, the giggle soon turning into a guffaw. After a second Becky joined in. Charlie was grinning and I knew he wished he could join his sisters.

I looked around the room, my eyes huge. Betty smiled and Charlie's father looked bemused. “That’s not right,” I said weakly. “There must be a lot of money there. I mean, it’s not right. I’m not her family or—”

“The estate was probated at approximately fifteen million dollars.” The lawyer smiled briefly at me then looked at Charlie. Some message passed between them then she looked at me again. “Of course, we’ll need to deduct the items she left to other family members. And the real estate isn’t included in the estimation because of market fluctuations and...”

I didn’t hear the rest. Grandy Theo left me fifteen million dollars? My ears were buzzing and I was dizzy, the room spinning around me.

Charlie leaned over. “I think you can afford to buy that Jaguar now.”

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So excited to announce I've got a new release out with Blushing Books called THE GIRL WHO CRIED WOLF! It actually came out years ago and has been out of print for a while, so I've reworked it. This version is totally different - and I think better - than the original. I'm excited about it! Hope you will be, too!

Happy Reading!

Kat Sinclair is in love with Detective Reese Huntley. The only problem is that his partner is her extremely overprotective brother. And her brother has a stupid rule about her not dating cops. What her brother doesn’t know is that she and Reese have been secretly going out for months. Or at least they had been until Reese decides he can’t keep seeing her because it violates some ridiculous bro code.

Kat isn’t the type to give up easily, however, and comes up with a plan to change his mind. But her scheme to make him believe there’s a psycho after her backfires when Reese sees though her ploy and puts her over his knee for a sound spanking. That doesn’t deter Kat. She’s going to stick to her plan until she gets her man. She doesn’t care how many times or how hard he spanks her.

When it turns out that her life really is in danger, will Reese believe her? Or will he think she’s just crying wolf again?


Kat kept her legs wrapped around him long after her orgasm had subsided. She loved the feel of him inside of her and didn’t want to let him go just yet. But they couldn’t stay locked like that all night or they’d both be stiff come morning. So, when Reese kissed her and rolled over onto his back, she willingly curled up in his arms.

“Mmm. Maybe I should call and tell you someone followed me home more often.”

Beside her, Reese stiffened, the hand he’d been rubbing up and down her arm going still. “Wait a minute. What?”

Uh-oh.“N-nothing. I just meant that I knew you’d come if you thought I needed you.”

She cringed inwardly. Crap. That hadn’t come out any better.

Reese swore under his breath. “I can’t believe I fell for this.”

Kat pushed herself up on her elbow, which was a mistake. All it did was give Reese room to kick free of the blanket and get to his feet.

“Fell for what?” she asked.

“You know damn well what.” He glared at her as he pulled on his jeans, then reached for his shirt. “No one followed you home. You made that whole thing up.”

Kat’s stomach tightened into a knot as he snatched his gun holster from the floor and shrugged into it. Everything had been so perfect. Why did she have to open her big mouth and screw it up?

“I didn’t make up anything,” she insisted. “Someone was outside the door.”

That part was true, at least. But Reese wasn’t buying it. He picked up his jacket and stormed out of the bedroom.

Double crap.

Somehow Kat scrambled out of bed without getting tangled up in the blanket and falling on her face. She threw on her robe, trying the belt as she hurried after him.

“Reese, wait! I didn’t make anything up. Why would I do something like that?”

He spun around to face her, his dark eyes glinting. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe to trick me into coming over here so you could get me into bed.”

Kat felt her face turn red. “Do you even know how stupid that sounds?”

“Actually, it sounds pretty damn clever to me. But then you always did know how to get me to do whatever you wanted.”

She almost laughed. If that were true, she wouldn’t have to resort to this kind of underhanded crap to get him to see reason. “Now, you’re just being a jerk, and I’m not going to stand here and defend myself to you. Next time some strange guy follows me home, I’ll go ahead and invite him in.”

“Don’t be stupid.”

She folded her arms. “First I’m clever, and now I’m stupid. Which is it, Reese? Because if I really had the ability to make you do whatever I wanted, I’d make you see you’re the one who’s being stupid. Regardless of what you say, you want me just as much as I want you—the bed-shaking sex we had in there proves that—and if calling you every time I think someone follows me home is what it’s going to take to get you to admit it, that’s what I’ll do.”

The muscle in his jaw flexed. “No, you won’t, because I’m going to make damn sure you don’t.”

Before Kat could even ask what he meant, Reese grabbed her arm and marched her over to the couch. But instead of plunking her down on one of the cushions and lecturing her like she thought he would, he sat down and gave her arm a tug that sent her tumbling over his knee. She immediately tried to push herself up, but a firm hand shoved her back down.

“Reese, what…”

The rest of what she’d been going to say ended in a gasp as his hand come down hard on her upturned ass. Her eyes went wide. What the hell? Was he actually spanking her? He smacked her again, harder this time. He was spanking her!

Buy it at Blushing Books!

Buy it at Amazon!


Sexy Romantic Fiction!

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