UPDATE: The winners are…Colleen C and Debra Guyette!
Being someone who has issues with anxiety… correction… I have anxiety issues… everything is a minefield. I don’t like to pick up the phone unless I know exactly who is on the other end of the line. I’m an extroverted introvert, meaning I hide by being outgoing in public situations. I can be the life of the party as long as you don’t look beyond the jokes and see the person inside who is hoping I’m not making a complete idiot of myself.
So what does this have to do with writing and romance?
For me, EVERTYHING!
Finding love is putting yourself ‘out there.’
And OUT THERE is a scary, scary place. Holding out your hand (metaphorically) means that someone can take hold of it or slap it away… and sometimes ignore it completely.
What happens when the most anxiety-ridden person opens themselves up to speak their minds to another person?
What happens when the most self-assured person opens themselves up to ask someone out?
Both situations can end up happy or devastated. It doesn’t matter who you are. Life can be a joy or painful. Ecstatic or tormented.
Life… and love, by extension, are a gamble.
And those insecurities are a big part of “Justice for Miranda”
JUSTICE FOR MIRANDA
Texas Game Wardens don’t just protect the natural resources of the Lone Star State, they protect the people as well. Trace Carson considers every warden as more than just fellow officers, they’re family.
Especially, Miranda Jimenez. She’d gone through the academy when he was on staff, and he was her first in-field training officer. There was no denying that she was a beautiful woman, he’d worked side by side with her and knew that her dedication to upholding the laws of Texas was second only to caring for wild animals and natural resources.
When she decided to leave her job as a game warden to open a wild animal rehabilitation it made perfect sense, but he couldn’t explain the sudden ache he felt at the thought of her leaving. It wasn’t going to be out of sight, out of mind, because he went to her ‘retirement’ party and he kissed her, changing everything.
When her connection with Trace puts Miranda’s life in danger, the law enforcement community in San Antonio pulls together to get her back where she belongs… in Trace’s arms. Will they find her in time to save her and get Justice for Miranda?
Trace is a man driven by duty. Responsible to a fault. He’s the guy that folks are always leaning on. The leader. The one who has trained more than his share of new Game Wardens out of the Academy.
But under all of that buttoned up, efficient, straight-laced law enforcement zeal is a man who’s fallen in love with someone he thinks is out of bounds.
And it takes a few beers and the thought that she’d be out of his life to make him cross that line and kiss her senseless… all before his normal constraints pull him back into his shell. Make him back off. Make him shut off that longing and put it away.
But we all know that’s not going to be enough to keep it in that shell now that he’s let it out.
Trace needs to decide if the dangers of opening himself up and putting his heart on the line are worth the possible failure of that chance. What if she shuts him down right away? What if she allows him in and then decides that a man who had once been her teacher, her trainer, isn’t the man who can hold her heart… keep her interest?
And the absolutely crazy thing about it… what if it works? Having what you want… the woman you want… can be even more scary than not having her.
That’s one of the things I love most about writing and reading romance. When it comes right down to it… the heroes and heroines are brave! They show real courage!
Physical pain is horrible, but emotional pain can drop you to your knees with a look or a careless word.
So, tell me… which characters have you read about that have shown the most courage in reaching out for love… taking that chance to reach for something more… something better?
Pre-sale link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RZQM21M/
Two commenters will receive their choice of a single-title ebook from my Amazon list – winners selected July 1, 2019!
While her cousin was trying not to spray soda all over her aunt’s countertop, Miranda slipped out of her parents’ kitchen to the porch and leaned back against the wall with a sigh. Lifting the cold beer she had in her hand, she dragged it across her forehead and then pressed it to her cheek.
“I bet that feels good.”
The soft Texas burr came out of the darkness, startling her. She had a good hold on the bottle and didn’t worry about dropping it, but she did worry about the warm flush of color in her cheeks. She knew exactly who it was walking out of the dark.
“Hey, Trace. I didn’t think you were comin’ to the party.”
His laugh was warm and slow and poured over her like honey.
“How could I miss it?” He stepped into the light beside the back door and stepped up against the side of the house, looking down at her. “Especially when you didn’t give me a chance to talk you out of leaving.”
“I didn’t think you’d have much of an issue with it.”
A wind trailed through, lifting the ends of her hair and she felt the subtle touch as some of the strands stuck to her neck. The humidity wasn’t doing her any favors and she knew that after the heavy press of bodies in the house and the rising summer heat, her dress was probably stuck to her in any number of unflattering ways.
“It’s not too late,” his voice was lower, deeper, “I have a bit of an in with the guys in the administration office. They could be convinced to lose your voluntary termination papers.”
If she hadn’t been leaning back against the house, she probably would have fallen back against the wall. The way his voice seemed to curl across her skin made it hard to breathe. Trace Carson ticked off all of the boxes on her dream list for masculine perfection.
Tall, lean muscle, strong hands, handsome like the devil, and that voice. There was something about a man with that deep purring Texas drawl that made her insides shiver and shake and other parts of her… well, she bit into her bottom lip as if she was still thinking through his offer, but she knew she wouldn’t change her mind.
“Why didn’t you come talk to me?”
She laughed and felt a drop of condensation splash against her collarbone. “To be honest,” she tried to keep from sighing but it was hard when she could smell his cologne and see the silver-grey of his eyes, “I knew if I did talk to you I might have let myself be talked out of leaving.”
Miranda saw the happy surprise in his eyes.
“But it wouldn’t have been for the right reasons.”
“So, what are the wrong reasons, Miranda?” He shifted closer, crossing one leg over the other so she could hear the butter-soft rasp of one boot against the other. And set a hand on the wall, less than a foot from her shoulder. “I’m curious.”
She wanted to brush it all off and escape back into the house, but her knees were suddenly weak and the way his scent mingled with the sultry heat of the night air had her breath catching a little each time.
“Miranda?” His arm folded and his forearm pressed against the wall, bringing him closer to her. “What did you think I’d do?”
Close enough that his height blocked out the light from the single bulb shining from the wall.
Her tongue wet her bottom lip before she swallowed and sucked in a breath on a gasp. “I… I-” she laughed, a throaty little sound that made her feel flirty and needy at the same time.
She’d seen other women use their wiles to draw men in, but she wasn’t like them. She was the kind of girl that loved jeans and baggy shirts. And wiles? Ha! She could spell the word and knew the definition, but she had no idea if she could use them, or even if she had any. All of her life she’d spent most of her time in jeans and t-shirts. Even the dress she was wearing had been her mama’s idea.
“Well,” he sighed and she wasn’t sure, but it didn’t sound like he was very disappointed at all, “there’s one good reason that I can think of for letting you leave the service.”
She turned and leaned her shoulder against the wall, clutching the bottle against her chest. That close, she had to look up to see into his eyes and even then, the light was mostly behind him, so she couldn’t see much of his expression. “Yeah? What’s that?”
There was a long moment of silence that fell between them and she wasn’t at all sure she understood what any of this meant. Not hardly.
Trace Carson hadn’t just been the head instructor of the Game Warden Academy, he had been her mentor, and the featured star of late-night heated dreams that had her hands feathering across the same feverish skin that she was suffering from at that very moment.
It didn’t matter a damn to her that he was over a decade older than she was. She’d wanted to see the silver of his hair between the lengths of her fingers as she held him close more times than she could count. Trace was her personal addiction.
“Oh,” she couldn’t have kept the soft rush of sound inside if she’d tried. She couldn’t even blame the lapse on alcohol. She’d been drinking ginger ale all night and hadn’t even taken a sip of her beer yet.
But having Trace leaning close enough to kiss was doing so many delicious things to her body that she was dangerously close to making a big ol’ fool of herself.
He lowered his chin down an inch and her breath caught in her chest.
“Hmm?” Her skin felt tight and she was starting to wonder what he’d feel like pressed between her and the wall. “Yeah?”
He held his hand out and she leaned closer. “Can I have a sip of that beer?”
She barely kept herself from groaning. How stupid could she be? The man wanted a drink. “Idiot,” she grumbled at herself under her voice.
He didn’t say anything in reply so she was fairly sure he hadn’t heard her.
There were small miracles, it seemed.
She held out the beer and watched as he lifted it to his lips and took a long, slow sip from the mouth of the bottle.
Miranda knew she should have looked away. Nothing good could come of teasing herself like that, but there she was studying the way his lips pressed up against the cold glass. It was almost indecent the way his hand looked wrapped around the bottle, strong and nimble fingers that she’d love to feel against her naked flesh.
It only made her skin prickle with heat, her nipples tightening under her cotton dress and bra, her thighs pressed together, not just to keep her standing, but to chase the delicious ache at the crux of her legs.
When he released the bottle from his lips, he lifted it up so he could see the label against the darker glass. “Not bad,” he grinned at her, seemingly oblivious to the torment he was visiting on her, “but not exactly what I had in mind.”
He took another sip as she blinked her eyes, trying to clear her thoughts.
“Sorry, I can get you something from the kitchen,” she reached out and tried to take the bottle from him, “what do you want?”
“Heaven help me,” he growled, his voice raising tiny bumps all over her skin, “I want this.”
There wasn’t time for her to ask him what he meant.
No, Trace showed her what he meant.
He wrapped his arm around her body and pulled her closer, slanting his mouth across hers.
His kiss didn’t just touch her lips… he drank from her lips.
And she leaned into it.
Rising up almost onto her toes, she pressed her palms against his chest, trying so desperately to keep at least some little bit of distance between them, because she couldn’t bear for him to know how much her body wanted to give him.
Her heart, even more.
The bottom of the cool bottle of beer pressed against the curve of her lower back, making her gasp, and she felt the tip of his tongue touch hers.
The back door banged open against the wall, and Miranda turned halfway around in Trace’s half-embrace. “Hey, Suzie… need something?” She was proud that her voice didn’t shake, but when Trace shifted his arm around her, gently moving the cotton against her belly, she shivered and had a feeling he knew just what he was doing.
“Uhh… I was just going to tell you that your mama wants to bring out the cake soon.” She paused and shifted her gaze from her place halfway in and halfway out of the door. “Unless you need me to stall for some time.”
Before she could think of what to say, she felt Trace touch his forehead to the back of her head. “I should be going in a moment,” he sighed, “early day tomorrow.”
She nodded her head in agreement and gave her cousin an answer. “Tell her I’ll be just a minute, okay?”
Suzie’s smile told her she understood. “I’ll tell her a few.”
With that the door closed quietly behind her.
It took Miranda a moment to get herself together. She wanted to kiss him again, wanted to smooth her hands over his chest, she wanted… but she didn’t know what this was for him.
“You’re thinkin’ mighty hard, ‘Randa. Care to share with me?”
Oh boy, did she.
But she was also worried that this wasn’t the time to say anything more about what she was feeling inside. She was putting something behind her, something that had consumed her life for four years. This wasn’t the time to stumble into something, no matter how much she wanted it.
She felt him shift again and when she heard the soft clink of sound, she knew that he’d set down the bottle on the nearby table. Turning to look at him, she lost her will to say anything when his arm returned to wrap around her and pull her closer.
Miranda took a staggering half-step forward and felt the press of his thigh between her knees.
She was sure her skin was hot enough to send up steam in the humid evening air.
“I don’t know what’s happening between us,” his voice was as soft and gentle as her heart was pounding in her chest, “but I know this isn’t the time to figure this out.”
Miranda managed to nod even though she couldn’t seem to speak.
“So you go inside, sweetheart, and enjoy your cake.”
His hand drifted a little lower, his little finger sweeping down from her lower-back and over the gentle rise of her backside.
“And someday soon, you and I are going to figure this out.”
She blew out a breath and nodded.
By the time her cousin swung the door open again, Miranda was standing alone on the back porch wondering what had just happened.