Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lipstick and Camouflage, Coming Soon!

Greetings one and all! First, let me thank everyone, and I mean everyone, for the support and comments on my last blog post. And, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy 2016! Wow, what a year 2015 was, and though this world has lost some of the greatest talents, artists, and musicians this month, they will not be forgotten, ever! IMO, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Natalie Cole, Lemmy, and, of course, so many others from jazz greats to drummers, must have formed a helluva band already.

Not to mention, Alan Rickman, who will always be Colonel Brandon to me, though should also be commended for his presence on the big screen and on stage.

But, I digress, I'm here today to share some awesome information. My latest Romantic Suspense, the first of a multi-book series titled Brandt's Dozen, is coming soon. I'm currently doing a final read-through and then it'll be ready to go. You'll be able to find Lipstick and Camouflage at most digital vendors, Amazon, B&N for Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc, and if all the stars align, in print at a later date.

How about an introduction to Travis and Cassidy's story?

Lipstick and Camouflage
Brandt’s Dozen: Book One

Security specialist Travis Blake’s undercover assignment should be easy. The former Navy SEAL has to protect Cassidy O'Neal from an elusive assassin. Yet, nothing about this case is simple.

For Cassidy, it’s easier to believe in ghosts than to think she’s in danger. Despite a series of unusual happenings around her apartment, she never suspects why she’s felt so uneasy, or that her hot new neighbor is far more than he seems.

What starts off as simple flirtation quickly turns passionate. But, as the danger intensifies, more than just their hearts are on the line. Travis must do whatever it takes to protect Cassidy, including revealing who he really is.  

Now that you've gotten a look at the blurb, here's a fun excerpt!
Federal Hill—Fletcher Street Apartments
The whir and tumble of an old dryer accompanied Cassidy’s reading choice of the afternoon, The Count of Monte Cristo. Having been an avid reader as long as she could remember, she enjoyed the chance to get lost reading about a French sailor’s false imprisonment only to emerge as and reinvent himself as a nobleman to exact revenge on those who’d wronged him.
Hmm, at least Edmond, the hero, had a love life, albeit a complicated one. Today, in this cramped old laundry room that served the apartments upstairs, Cass had nothing but a book, a mound of laundry, and her headphones to keep her company.
She wished she could remember the last time she’d had a real date, much less an orgasm with someone other than herself and her imaginary book boyfriend of the night. Yeah, sad, but even though her brother’s roommate had asked her out on a date, she didn’t have it in her to be a cougar.
Maybe Justin was the reason she was so jumpy lately. He’d not exactly left that night with a smile and she’d wondered if he’d come back and try again.
Or, maybe it was something else, something unexplained. Ever since she’d gone to Salem and took Mike Smith’s place as the lead cameraman in a ghost hunt, something had been off kilter about her apartment and the building itself. Granted, they’d caught some amazing EVPs that night, but the experienced investigators in her group, Jerome and Sam, concluded what they’d caught on audio was residual and non-threatening.
If it wasn’t Justin Myers or a ghost, maybe it was that surveyor who’d staked out the neighborhood. He’d claimed to be doing a favor for a friend looking to move into the area and open a new business. She hadn’t believed him. That man had an aura about him that was mysterious and dark, maybe dangerous. She’d run him off, and as far as she knew, he’d not returned.
Frustrated, she snapped her book closed and set it aside, going over to check the last load of laundry for the day. Being Friday, she’d worked a half day and had plans to do laundry, eat rocky road ice cream for dinner, and continue reading Edmond’s tale of revenge, justice, and romance until he skewed his best friend with a sword.
Okay, she’d read the book a couple of times. Next week, she’d open up The Three Musketeers and have four book boyfriends, though her personal favorite was Aramis.
Yeah, like anything that exciting would happen to her, but one could dream a tale of fiction even if her day job wasn’t exactly the same as a French sailor’s false imprisonment or Musketeers saving a king from a treacherous cardinal.
Taking a moment to switch up her music, she chose her classic rock playlist and increased the volume, singing, well, mostly humming until her favorite line, We were making it,” came out loud and clear.
As if it mattered how badly she was singing while pulling bras and panties out of the dryer and tossing them into the hip-hugging basket on the floor beneath the machine.
Slamming the dryer door home and picking up her basket, she turned to go back to where she’d been sitting when movement caught her eye. Whipping around, she saw a tall, impressively built man standing in the doorway, as if he’d stepped right out of the pages of one of her novel.
A heartbeat later, he came toward her, proving he was no figment of her active imagination and seeming to get bigger with every step. Unsure what to do, Cassidy threw her basket at him and rushed for the door, getting less than two feet before her bare foot caught his boot and she went tumbling.
Certain she’d break something when she hit the stone floor, she tried to brace herself for the impact…only she never hit. The man caught her, shifting her momentum so that she landed right on top of him.
Breath caught, her headphones clattering to the floor, she would’ve scrambled to her feet if it wasn’t for the fact that she could not move. Good God Almighty, he looked a lot like Joe M. No, of course it wasn’t possible that an actor who made women everywhere drool over werewolves and male strippers could be in a laundry room with her.
If that was the case, maybe she had knocked herself out and was dreaming about her current book boyfriend, Edmond. His hands were incredibly big. She knew because they were braced right on her ass. His chest was broad, muscles beneath his black tee shirt strong as steel.
The beard that so reminded her of Joe’s, trimmed, defining a face that was incredibly good looking and sexy, tempted her to trail a finger along his jaw to see if it was scratchy or soft. His piercing amber eyes fitting to a lion’s captivated her. He was looking right up at her, unapologetic, his grip strong, maybe there was even concern in his eyes.
The only problem she could see at the moment was the bra on his head that skewed her ability to make out the length of his shaggy sable-brown hair.
Wait! That leopard-print bra was hers!
“Darlin’, it doesn’t matter who Joe and Edmond are right now, if you keep grinding your hips like that, I’m gonna make sure you forget anyone else’s name but mine, Travis.”
His hands on her ass tightened, bringing her into better alignment with his hips. No, not his hips! Jeez, he was real, she was wide awake, and still on top of him, between his spread thighs. His hard as stone fly brushed her exactly where she needed it most. Her clit woke up, she was soaking wet, preparing…for what, sex with a stranger on the laundry room floor?
“Please tell me I didn’t talk out loud,” she grumbled, dropping her head to his chest and didn’t feel the least bit ready to move.
What the hell was wrong with her? Something about him warned her that he could be as dangerous as that surveyor, yet she was not afraid of him.
“All I know is that you called me Joe and compared me to Edmond, your book boyfriend, whatever that means,” he answered, the timber in his voice so deep, his drawl southern, everything in her that was a woman was screaming ‘how do you do’ and ‘where have you been all my life’?
“And, the longer you stay here, the less likely I am to ask your name. But, take your time. There are all kinds of advantages to having you on top.”
Snapping her head back up, she growled, “Stop talking like that!” Although she wouldn’t mind having him talk to her for hours, days, however long he wanted, so long as that deep drawl of his whispered sweet nothings in her ear.
“Sorry, couldn’t help teasing,” he countered. “I sure didn’t mean to scare you. What do you say? Think we can get back on equal footing?”
Realizing that this was actually happening, common sense returned and Cassidy got to her knees, hindered in her efforts by his hands. “Let go of my ass, cowboy. As it is, I think your fingers left marks. I bruise easy.”
“Dammit, don’t say that. Now I’m gonna want to check that out,” he warned, showing absolutely no compunction to let go, not that she really wanted him to. As big as his hands were, he cupped, not injured.
In the end, he let go and she scrambled to her feet. Considering her knees were all wobbly and her legs felt as if they’d turned to jelly, it was nothing short of a miracle that she didn’t fall over him or stomp on his balls in her efforts. Would’ve served him right for being an unrepentant, cocky bastard, though he was a really, really hot cocky bastard.
And, that didn’t help anything, neither did her bra.
“Easy, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, getting back on his feet with nimbleness that no ordinary man should possess. It was catlike, or maybe a lion.
“Okay, who are you and where the hell did you come from?” she demanded, ignoring her embarrassment by punching her fists to her hips, hoping to look more formidable.
The guy was big, like Superman or Thor, big, tall, and muscular. He should be slow as molasses going uphill in winter. How tall was this guy anyway? She was a hair under 6’ and felt tiny compared to him.
“My name’s Travis Blake, moved into apartment 2 B a couple hours ago. Came down to do laundry and found you rocking out, wanted to alert you that I was there. Never meant to scare you, I’m sorry. I’ve ID on me, if you need to take a look,” he said, pulling his wallet out of his back pocket and flipping it open.
Taking a glance at his ID, she saw he had a Virginia license, but the photo was accurate. Finally, she nodded and stepped back, assessing him with the benefit of distance. Okay, it wasn’t that much of a distance since the laundry room was only big enough for three coin-operated washer and dryer units, a couple of plastic chairs, a mini-vending machine for detergent and fabric softener, a rack for hanging clothes, and the counter where her clean clothes were neatly arranged.
“Hey, you still with me, darlin’?” he asked, sounding genuinely concerned. “Did I hurt you?”
“No, no, I’m fine. I’m Cassidy O’Neal, tenants here call me Cass, take your pick. We’re neighbors, Mr. Blake.” Vaguely, she recalled the building manager putting notices on everyone’s doors about a new tenant fitting Travis’ description moving in today.
“Mr. Blake’s my dad, nice guy. When he visits sometime, maybe you’ll like him.”
“I’m sure I would,” she replied, her eyes drawn to his head. “Can I, ah, have that back?”
“What?” he asked, as if he wasn’t aware that her bra was on his head. He acted as if he didn’t care, cool as cucumber.
“My bra, although I’m not sure why you’re wearing it,” she said, gesturing to his head.

“Got to admit, never had a woman throw her clothes at me, but, damn, you stopped me in my tracks,” he replied as if she’d earned his respect.

Stay tuned for more, excerpts, links for where to find Lipstick and Camouflage, and any related information.

Until next time,
Frances Stockton 

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