My husband and I visited a prep school friend of his in San Diego in late July. I fell in love with the white buildings with red tile roofs, palm trees nodding overhead, the old church towers rising on hillsides. And of course the harbor – home to every type of vessel from sailing ships to Navy carriers. I watched surfers and dolphins playing in the waves, beach volleyball games and families on the beaches. Even got to watch my husband on a surfboard—briefly. He’s such a stud-muffin.
I was sure I’d love San Diego, from photos and descriptions. But I was nervous about staying in the beach house of a couple I’d never even met. Would they be glad to have me tagging along? Would I have anything in common with our host’s wife? Would we connect?
My fears were allayed when our host greeted us at the airport, with a big California smile and hug. His wife was just as charming and friendly. She directed us to our room, complete with private bath. And there on the bed were two fluffy white robes—embroidered with our initials!
I felt as if we were at a luxury spa resort. And the feeling lasted as we chatted our way through walks on the beach, tours of local attractions and quiet evenings around the pool. We talked about our children, laughed about the guys’ high school experiences on blind dates and compared notes on how we finally met the right people to truly fall in love, and marry. Mellowed by wine and sunsets, we shared deeper feelings.
On the plane home to the Pacific Northwest, I opened my little Acer to jot down notes and impressions of San Diego. I’ll surely want to set a story there. But I got to thinking. Reading a new author is like going to stay with strangers. You spend your hard-earned money for the trip and hope it will be a grand, positive experience.
I want my stories to be as welcoming to you as that Del Mar beach house was to me. I love reading books by my favorite authors. When they are my hosts, I know I’m guaranteed a certain kind of experience. I’ll be welcomed into their characters’ inner worlds, given a tour of the sights and brought along on a sexy, romantic adventure with thrills and even a few laughs along the way.
I hope when you begin one of my stories, you’ll look forward to the same welcome. And know that as hot and dangerous as the adventure may be, you’ll wind up safe in the arms of love … and happy ever after.
Here’s an excerpt from my new ebook, Prince of Dragons. A shape-shifting prince travels the galaxy to find a virgin bride, but falls instead for a beautiful warrior famed for her seductiveness. He will fight beside her to protect the spaceship Orion from deadly saboteurs, but can he convince her that he is the one man for her?
… Unable to sleep, Sirena had just stepped out of the shower-dry and belted on her flame silk robe when she heard musical laughter out in the corridor. It sounded familiar.
“Holo-cam on,” she commanded. “Passageway.”
She stood stock still, rage burning inside her as she saw the image that sprang up. Two of the Aquarian princesses were just coming out of Slyde Stone’s room. One was patting her tousled hair, the other fastening her robe.
“Thank you, Commander.” One of them giggled. “That was lovely.”
“Yes,” the other added. “We hope you enjoyed it too.”
Sirena’s eyes narrowed dangerously. He was grinning like a fool, his uniform was unfastened halfway down his broad chest and his short hair was tousled, as if someone—or two someones—had been running their fingers through it.
“Thank you, ladies. My compliments on your treat. I’ll take care of cleaning everything up.”
Why, the sneaking, slithering bastard. He had lied to her so completely, so thoroughly. She had actually swallowed his tale of waiting in solitude for her.
She waited until the two had rustled away and then snapped open her hatchway.
Slyde looked over at her, still smiling a little, until he saw the look on her face.
“What is it?” he asked.
Leaning on her door frame, she crossed her arms and looked him up and down.
“Oh, I’d say it’s about one hundred and ten kilos of hypocrite.”
He blinked and then his mouth twitched. “Ah, you mean because of my…visitors. You want to see what we’ve been up to? Come here, I’ll show you.”
She followed him across the passageway, peering suspiciously into his room. Jealousy burned sick and cold in her middle. The place was a mess, cushions torn from his air-recliner and bed, a pile of brightly colored objects that looked rather like toys heaped in the middle of the floor. They had obviously been up to something, but…what? If those were sex toys, they were very odd ones—in fact, they resembled the toys of a young child.
There was a rustle of movement from under the bed and a dark, familiar head poked out. It was the puppy. Erupting out with a happy yip, it leaped on Slyde’s soft boots, tail wagging madly.
“I mentioned I liked the puppy, so the princesses brought it for a visit,” he said. “Playful little thing.”
“Yes, I see it drinks moonring champagne and eats hors d’oeuvres,” she said, fighting for equilibrium. What was she to believe?
He turned to look at the silver tray floating near the divan. It held a nearly empty bottle and three flutes, as well as half-empty plates of delicate viands.
“No, that was for me,” he said calmly. “And just so we’re clear, yes, an offer was made—a doubly generous one—and I refused.”
She straightened with a snap that made her unbound breasts jiggle in her flimsy robe. “I didn’t ask.”
Turning on her heel, she stalked back across the passageway to her own quarters.
“Why did you refuse Azuran?”
She froze. He had followed her. The hatchway hissed shut behind him, enclosing them in her private space. Her eyes focused on her bed, covered with spider-silk the deep swirling hues of a Serpentian sunset. How many times had she imagined him here with her?
“I didn’t want him,” she said without turning.
“Why not?” His deep voice was nearer. She could feel his heat, although he was still inches away.
Sirena lifted her head proudly. She wouldn’t lie. “Because I want you.” Of course, he already knew it. She’d been panting after him like a fool for days, while he played her.
“You haunt me,” Slyde said, the words as deep and rough as stones grating together. “I’m never free of you. When I sleep, I dream of you. When I’m awake…”
His huge hands closed on her waist, and she felt them tremble. Or perhaps she was the one trembling. She was bewildered. She would stake her very life on the aching sincerity in his voice. Heat, power and need emanated from him.
Sirena let her eyes drift shut and stiffened her spine to keep from drooping back against him like a silly girl. His yearning seduced her far more effectively than any honeyed words. His breath gusted against her cheek as he spoke again, his face against her hair.
“When I’m awake, I look for you. If you’re not near, I have to know where you are. And if you are near, all I’m aware of is you. I listen to your voice, coiling about me like a velvet rope. I smell your perfume, the scent of your body. I watch the way you move, a warrior queen among her subjects…a courtesan selecting the next male who’ll receive her favor.”
His hands flexed on her waist, testing the suppleness of her, then drew her back against him. Her breath shuddered from her as his hard body pressed against hers. His scent surrounded her, potent male.
She gloried in the raw need revealed by his words, but at the same time, sharp tears pricked behind her eyelids. Males wanted her, wanted the pleasure they’d find in her body—had from the time she reached maturity. But none had ever revealed such a yearning for her.
“I choose you,” she breathed. “You.”
He shuddered. “For how long?”
“For as long as we both want,” she promised, putting her hands over his and moving sensuously in his grasp, rubbing herself against him. Ah, he was so big, so hard—the heat and power in his body, all would be hers.
She staggered as he released her. She whirled, not understanding.
The light of the blown glass lamps gleamed on the hard planes of his face. His deep-set eyes were in shadow, but she could clearly see the grim set of his mouth, the clenching of his jaw.
“Sirena…desire is not enough.”
“What do you mean, not enough?” She stared up at him, unable to believe her ears. “Pleasure beyond anything you have known—not enough? Slyde, you and I could be incredible together! What more can you want?”
He shook his head slowly.
Fury such as she had never known blazed through her, molten in its intensity. That it was fueled by hurt, she would never admit.
“Who do you think you are?” she hissed. “Males will fight to the death to have me and you refuse me?”
He reached out to her and she jerked away from him, not caring that her eyes were full of tears of rage, or that she was shaking visibly. Her voice slashed at him like fangs. “Don’t touch me again. I’m not some little fool to be toyed with! Or are you waiting for me to service you in some public place? Is that the only way you can find satisfaction? Is my room too private?”
She watched him flinch as this jibe hit home.
“That was—I never intended for that to happen,” he said.
She laughed in his face. “Poor male. The cadet overpowered you, did she? You were unable to break free?”
His cheeks reddened, but he stood his ground. “I’d just spent the last few hours being slowly tormented out of my mind by a siren,” he said through his teeth.
“Oh, blame the female,” she said scornfully. “’It wasn’t your fault. I drove you to it.’”
He clenched his fists so hard the veins in his arms and neck stood out. Then he took a deep breath, visibly controlling himself.
“Sirena,” he groaned. “Why do we always end up savaging each other? You’re right. The fault was mine, not yours.”
She gaped at him, astonished by his concession, only to be further astonished as he slowly and deliberately dropped to one knee before her. He looked up at her, his face in shadow, golden eyes gleaming up at her, riveting in their intensity.
“Sirena, listen to me.”
“Listen to what?” she demanded, clutching the folds of her robe to keep from reaching out to him. Such was the turmoil
inside her, she didn’t know whether she would fall to her knees with him, or savage him.
“To me, you are a queen among females,” he said. “You…you own my heart. You have since nearly the first moment I saw you. It has only become stronger in our time together. I would fight to the death for you, but, Sirena…I don’t live by the same rules as other Serpentians, or even other males. The only way we two can be together is if you’ll agree to mate with me. For life.”
Bending his head, he lifted the hem of her robe, pressed it to his lips, then let it drift through his fingers to fall back around her bare feet.
He knelt there for a moment, while she stood frozen, unable to react.
Finally, with a deep, shuddering sigh, he rose and turned away. The hatch hissed open and shut behind him, and he was gone in the shadows of the great ship. Her robe fluttered about her, fell still, and she was alone.’
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