A Tease of Fake Play

Yep. If you didn’t see it in an earlier post, I’m on TikTok. Be careful. It’s addictive.

What’s Going On With Me?

I’ve been working SLOWLY on the next Southern Crime Family novel. Sen’s story. But for some reason I couldn’t concentrate on it like I should. So I decided to do sometime I’ve put off for TWO years! Yes. Count them. One, two whole frigging years. Crazy. I had previously replaced the ebook covers for The Circle Organization books, but hadn’t taken care of the paperbacks. Same design, but I needed to include the spine and back copy.

Then they really needed to be reformatted (the inners). That takes time. Plus I wanted to added excerpts for the other books. As in Circle of Desire to have Danger and Deception excerpts in the back and so on.

Doesn’t sound like much trouble, but that includes updating the lists of books. I do have a total of 11 books out. Of course, there are two that are still with RandomHouse. I haven’t decided when to ask for the rights back. I had gotten the rights from HarperCollins to The Circle books two years ago (thus the new covers), but I’ve been putting off the RH ones. Maybe because I hope to write for them again one day? *shrug*

Beyond the 11 for sale, I have 10 books written that are not published. One day soon (hopefully), I plan to rewrite most of them. Not counting, I have another hockey romance and a suspense book I plan to write. Then I might even try my hand at historical (1910s). Goodness, I need to get myself back into forward gear and get to writing.

And I also have plans to release The Circle in a bundle hopefully in the next month or so.

Moving on. As I like to include these on my website, here are copies of my latest ads. By the way, I’m on TikTok. Be sure to follow me! See. I doing a lot of stuff.

Two Chapters of FAKE PLAY

Well, someone suggested showing the first chapter or so of the book coming out this Tuesday, 6/30. So here you go (after the blurb). Hope you enjoy.

Blurb: Connor Ellison, one of Atlanta Edge’s best wingers and biggest prankster, is given an ultimatum by the coaches and the PR department. He must stay married until the end of the run for the Cup or be available for trade.

Lily Jones wants nothing to do with the insane demand. But he convinces her the best decision is to play along. If they remain married and pretend to be in love, he offers to save her family’s ice rink from bankruptcy. Anyway, it’s only until the end of the hockey season. Then they can go their separate ways.

Easy-peasy. No way will they go to the finals. No way will they truly fall in love.

No cliffhanger. Standalone.

For blurb and links click on

#hockeyromance #femalehockeyplayer #malehockeyplayer



Chapter One


I wipe the drool from the corner of my mouth.

Why aren’t my eyelids lifting? I rub at the itching and swollen feeling with my knuckles.

What’s up with my arms and legs? They weigh a ton and ache like a son of—ugh, the throbbing around my skull pulsates in time with my heart.

When did I get the flu?

No. Not flu.

Flashes of memory flicker through my sore brain.

Drinking. Laughter. I’m certain I went partying with friends after my flight arrived in Las Vegas.

That’s right. I’m in Vegas.

Even before landing, Elise, Kimi, and I talked about how exciting the weekend would be as we never did something so outrageous and spur of the moment. The round trip tickets were unbelievably cheap, and we planned to save more by sharing a room.

The trip to Sin City was a first for me. Sin City. So different from Atlanta. Plus it would help me to forget about my troubles back home and just be a girl without a care for a couple days.

With some effort, I open and close my eyes. I force clearer thoughts to the forefront, despite the throbbing in my head, in an attempt to recall details of the last few hours.

Celebrating in Vegas after a New Year’s Eve hockey game is the perfect place to let go. The hotel where the party was being held had been crazy full and loud, so much fun. Lights glittering as dancers bump and grind against each other. People laughing, smiling, drinking without a thought about tomorrow.

Elise, my oldest friend, as in since the third grade, knows everyone, and she introduced me to several tall good-looking, athletic men who play for the Atlanta Edge Hockey team. They played the Vegas team and won. So everyone was keyed up. And actually, I did know the players, but most didn’t remember me, and the few that did, I was barely recognizable to them. Short dresses and sparkly jewelry are not my usual attire. So I danced and danced all night into the early morning, letting myself go like never before. Two—or was it three?—margaritas later, the night became fuzzy, but I do remember laughing a lot. More than I have in…well, five years.

The party was sponsored by several local charities that NHL supports. Elise had managed to get us invited days earlier in Atlanta after meeting the captain of the Edge, Ryan Schmid. The man is gorgeous. Good enough to lick.

But my best friend called dibs.

Oh goodness, my head hurts. The room nearly glows with white light from the windows.

As soon as I gently press fingers to my temples, I realize it’s the wrong thing to do. Spikes of pain shoot behind my eyeballs.

Yep. Way too much fun and alcohol.

The long groan coming from my mouth echoes into what sounds like a cavernous room.

Wait. With three females sharing a budget-minded room off the strip in Vegas, there is no way anyone can think of it as roomy.

Finally, my eyes clear enough to see I’m not in the low-rent room I shared with Elise and Kimi. This room is spacious. The bed faces floor-to-ceiling windows with only gauzy curtains closed against the bright sunshine. Furniture fit for any mansion is scattered throughout the sitting area. A small table with two chairs placed in front of one massive window gives it a picturesque look.

A black bra swings on the back of one chair as air blows from a nearby vent. I realize it’s the one I packed to wear underneath the fancy new dress I purchased for the New Year’s party.

My ebony silk sheath lays in a heap on the floor.

Another groan floats into the air.

I stiffen.

What? Not me. And certainly not Elise or Kimi. The sound is too deep, too male, and too sexy.


I recognize the timbre, but in another context. Pleasure? A memory of callused hands sliding over my shoulders and down my back. My last relationship has been years ago. So who? My head aches too much to think that hard about it.

The bed moves.

Earthquake? Or am I still drunk, and it’s my imagination?

Once more a rumbling groan fills the room and the bed shakes again.

That isn’t my imagination.

I carefully turn to see the other side of the bed.

Holy crap. Connor Ellison sits up on the edge of the bed and stands to stretch. Holy crap. He’s butt naked, every inch of his back, ass, and thighs bare and beautifully sculpted to its finest.

How do I know Connor, the star right winger for the Atlanta Edge, from his backend? Maybe my memory’s coming back, but I’ve been admiring him from afar for nearly two years, since he was traded and brought over from the affiliate in the northern part of New York State. I even have a private Pinterest board with pictures of him. Of course, many are without his shirt and gear during locker room interviews.

He strides over to open a door. From where I watch, lying on my stomach, head at the foot of the bed, a little catty-cornered on the mattress, I see a commode. He stops in front of it and spreads his legs slightly and pees. One hand on the wall above the tank, he shakes his head as if to clear his mind and he groans.

I close my eyes long enough not to see…you know…the flow. Gross.

Maybe I’m still a little drunk for I’m looking again.

Thankfully he finished.

He remains in the same spot, staring at the wall. A blush warms my face. Not just because he didn’t shut the door, but I can see his balls, full and well-formed hanging between his legs. For some perverted reason, that’s the sexiest view I’ve ever observed in my twenty-eight years. Geez. I’m so not myself.

Closing my eyes again for a few seconds, I hear him flush, and then wash his hands. Fascinating. A man who believes in cleanliness.

When I lift my eyelids, he’s walking toward the bed. I force my attention up from his beautiful appendage. He hesitates. So he finally sees me. He stops and looks around and brings his gaze back to mine.

“Oh, fuck.” One big hand scrubs his face and then he uses the back of a wrist to rub his eyes.  And then thrusts his fingers through thick chestnut hair. After a heavy sigh, he says, “Darling, you need to go. I have a bus and plane to catch in a couple hours.”

Great. He doesn’t remember my name. Isn’t that special?

“Lily. My name’s Lily.” I sit up and whimper. The room’s spinning. I’m not much of a drinker.

“Nice to meet you, Lily. I’m Connor.”

“I know.” My mouth is so dry. “You’re Connor Ellison, winger for the Atlanta Edge. I’ve seen your picture everywhere in Atlanta.” I’m not about to explain I’m part owner of the rink his team practices in.

“All right.” His gaze moves from mine, over my nude body—I jerk the sheet’s corner to my breasts—and then he surveys the room. He purses his lips. “Excuse me, but I need to get my shit together.” He walks over and picks up a pair of dark dress pants from the floor near my feet. For a couple seconds, I watch as he pulls them up and over a firm ass sans underwear.

Lightheadedness comes over me, not from the view, goodness knows it’s a wondrous sight, but my body alerts me as to how I mistreated it the night before. I bend over.

With hands on my knees, and my head nearly between them to keep from throwing up or fainting or both, I take in slow breaths. That’s when I see it. The biggest freaking diamond ring with matching wedding band. On my finger.

I straighten, lifting my hand in front of my face. “What? Is this real?”

It has to be a fake. Some type of joke.

I look at Connor. His confused look tells me he’s as clueless as I am.

My face and body become hot as a July day in Vegas and my stomach roils. I waste no time and streak to the bathroom. The startled expression on his face barely registers before I lean over the commode and barf. I close my eyes. I’ve learned from experience, I will throw up until I have the dry heaves if I look at what comes out of me. Yep, I’m one of those people who throw up when others do and even worse when it’s me.

“You don’t look pregnant,” he says, not bothering to hide his curiosity.

What an Einstein.

“No. I’m not pregnant. I don’t drink often. Either it’s something I ate or the amount of alcohol.”

“Okay. Hold on. I’ll be back.”

Carefully, I place the commode lid down and flush. Then I rest a cheek on the cool surface. In a couple minutes, I’ll get up to take a shower. For now, I need to stay still until I’m in control of my body. My stomach actually feels better, though slightly sore.

Somehow I fall asleep like that for who knows how long. When I wake, he’s standing over me. He still has the dress pants on and nothing else. My gaze follows the sprinkle of hair on his chest down to a thin line at his waistband. Such a hot view this close. Fascinating how it disappears behind the vee of material.

“Here. Drink this.” He offers me a glass. I blink and look up to his face.

Did he noticed I looked at where his pants gape open at the zipper?

He taps the cold glass against my shoulder. “After you finish it, you’ll need to drink water. There’s a bottle in the fridge. I figure the nausea is worse than the headache.”

“Thanks.” I lift my hand and take it, bringing it to my mouth. Bubbles tickle my nose. Surprised, I move it away and rub off the fizz from my skin. “What is it?” It smells familiar, but I can’t place it.

“Ginger ale. It’ll help your stomach. Plus you need liquids in you. Alcohol dehydrates.”

“Yeah.” I sip at the drink.

“Go slow. You don’t want it to come back up.”

I nervously gulp. The thought alone makes me queasy.

“Hey, careful.” He stoops in front me and brushes my bangs to one side. I must look like hell.

When a drop of condensation drips from the glass onto my chest, I gasp as a swallow of the drink is going down. Choking, I realize I’m naked on the bathroom floor.

He slaps me on my back, not too hard, but enough for me to automatically straighten and thrust my breasts into his face as I try to move from his touch. Isn’t that just great? Let’s compound my embarrassment.

“You want the water instead?” His eyes focus on the display. A small smirk comes to his lips.

I hunch over and cross my arms over my chest without dropping the glass. That’s when I see the rings again.

“What about these?” I stick my hand in front of his face, redirecting his attention.

He pulls his head back.

“Fuck. Why didn’t you tell me you’re married? I don’t do married girls.” He stands and smooths his hair back from his face. “I don’t need that kind of trouble. Hell, that’s the last thing I need.” He moves into the bedroom, and my gaze follows his movements as he paces the floor, mumbling. I try to keep my attention off how his pants hang, showing the male cleavage at his hips. He stops and glares at me. “I have to leave. Hurry. Get dressed. Who do you belong to?”

“Belong?” What century does he live in?

“Yeah, like husband, wife, or whatever. Who’s going to try to beat my ass, or sue me for breaking up your marriage? Shit, shit, shit. I don’t need this.” He begins to pace again. “Why does it happen to me? One last night before I walk the fucking straight and narrow, that’s all I asked. Shit, if PR finds out what I did, sleeping with a married woman, and tells coach, my ass will be on waivers.” He turns to me and scowls. “You probably don’t even know what that means and don’t give a fuck.”

“In your case, it means that the Edge will make you available to other teams, that is, your contract and privileges. And if more than one team wants you, the one with the least points can claim you.” If anything, my dad ensured I knew everything about the game he loves. For that matter, I love it too though he mostly ignores that fact.

Connor stares at me as if I spouted the secret to winning the Stanley Cup. I want to laugh, but I’m still sitting on the bathroom floor—stark naked. Crap. I snag a towel from the shelf near the sink and wrap it around me. Warmth seeps in. Between having no clothes on and the chill from the tile, my skin has cooled to the point I’m shivering.

“From your accent, I figured you didn’t know anything about hockey.”

I roll my eyes. “That’s how much you know. I don’t have an accent. You’re the one with an accent.” I refer to his occasional harsh consonants from the northeastern states.

“What? Me? How can you say, I don’t have an accent, Miss Southern Belle?”

Ignoring his sarcasm, I walk by him toward the other end of the room as I take another sip. He warily keeps an eye on my hand. What? Did he really think I’ll waste good ginger ale by pouring it on top of his arrogant head? Though the idea did cross my mind. Gathering up my clothes from the table near the windows, bundling them to my chest, and using the crook of my arm to keep them in place, I jerk my bra off the chair.

That’s when I see it.

Hand shaking, I nearly drop the glass when I place it on the table next to the sheet of paper that caught my eye. The black print on blue-and-white paper blurs as I scan it and proceed to read it three more times. It looks official. My heart pumps so hard, I’m afraid it will burst. I glance over my shoulder toward where he remains staring at me.

He’s standing in the middle of the room, feet planted apart, arms crossed over his broad chest, looking all masculine and sexy as hell. Damn him. One dark eyebrow quirks up.

“You need to leave, sweet cheeks. I really don’t want your husband causing trouble. I never fuck married women,” he says with an undertone of derision. He snatches up his shirt from the end of the bed and jabs his arms into it. When I stay, frozen in my panic, he asks, “What do you have there?” His tone sounds a little nicer as if my expression has him concerned.

Despite my frozen shock at what I discovered, in the back of my mind, I note that his shirt remains unbuttoned. Each muscle on his chest and abs are gorgeously carved. Have I touched them? My fingers twitch with the desire to do so.

“Are you okay?” His worry filled words bring me back to my senses. The fear of what the paper means has probably caused my face to pale. I know I feel scared.

“Here’s the answer to the twenty-five thousand dollar question. At least, that’s how much the rings costs,” I say in a tiny voice. The paper trembles as I hand it over. “Look at the receipt attached to it. Now we know where they came from.”

“What the fuck?” He does the same as I did. His gaze runs across it over and over again before he lifts his head. His eyes fill with such anger, I take a step back. “What joke is this? Who put you up to it?” His attention goes back to the sheet in his hand as he shakes his head. “I don’t know any of these people.” His gaze drills into mine. “Your name is Lily Ana Jones?”

I nod. “That’s me.” Pointing a finger at the writing, I continue, “It’s no joke. You signed it too. The witnesses and officiate are no one I know. So I think you and I really did this. That is, as far as I know. And from what that says, my name is now Lily Ana Ellison.”

He drops into the chair as if his world ended. The marriage certificate floats onto the floor.

“I’m fucked,” he mutters.


Chapter Two


“You have really fucked up big time, Ellison,” Matthew Kowalski says as he gives me a disgusted look.

I don’t remember his title, I only know he’s involved in public relations for the players. Usually a congenial man, but recently, he’s shown an unsympathetic side I wish I never had to contend with.

Yesterday, when the team’s plane landed in a private airport near Atlanta, I received orders to bring my agent at eight the next morning to the coaches’ conference room on the top floor of the arena. How in the hell had they found out about my foul up so fast?

I glance over at head coach McMillan, assistant coach Levine, and then Ramsey Fournier, the general manager, the man who can easily place me on waivers which is as good as being fired. They look at me as if I planned all of this to irritate the fuck out of them.

My agent listens to our conversation on the speaker phone. He’s located in Chicago and had another meeting to attend at noon. No matter how much money I make him, he can’t be in two places at once with less than twenty-four hours’ notice. At least that’s what I tell myself. Deep inside, I wonder if he’s tired of my bullshit like the men sitting around the table.

Then again, I’m glad he couldn’t make it. If he saw their expressions, he’d probably be working on my contract, preparing to negotiate with a new team.

“Before you get your panties all in a twist, it can be corrected easily enough.” I hold up my hands as if in surrender. “The girl and I are planning to get an annulment.”

As I didn’t have sex with Lily—damn, I hope to hell not—I asked my lawyer to look into how quickly the paperwork can be processed in Nevada. Only thing is, he claims not having sex has nothing to do with getting it annulled, but he will find a way. An annulment will sure as hell be less of a fuss. The thought of having to hand over half of my savings to someone I barely know…well, it’s not going to happen. I’ve worked hard for my financial independence from my parents.

“No,” Fournier bluntly says.

That brought my head up so fast I wrenched my neck. I massage the tight area as I try not to glare at him.

“What do you mean by no?” I ask, struggling to keep an even tone.

“If you go through an annulment or divorce, the press will say you pulled another stunt. You promised no more wild parties, crazy pranks, and certainly no irresponsible acts with puck bunnies. We need to show the community our players are serious about their sport and this community. We need families to buy season tickets and support us. Having a picture of you obviously drunk and half-naked going viral is not the way we expect you to represent the organization.” A vein bulges above his right eye by the time he finishes.

I look at the man and barely restrain a yawn. Yeah. That would impress the shit out of them. Yawn like I couldn’t be bothered to listen to them.

They don’t understand the last twenty-four hours have been a son of a bitch. Though I don’t remember much from New Year’s Eve, I know I didn’t get enough sleep, and I don’t need him to give me the same speech for the third time. I’m not stupid. I just don’t give a damn.

That’s not entirely correct. That is, about the not giving a damn. I care. I love hockey, and the independence it gives me from my dad, but I know if I continue on my self-destructive path, I’d die long before I’m thirty. Most of my life, I’ve heard one of many versions of the same lecture from my parents and now from my team, but the last sentence of Kowalski’s speech is new. He’s talking about the photo that unexpectedly popped up this morning.

Someone at the wedding chapel secretly snapped the picture and uploaded it to the Edge’s social network under the handle The Edge’s Biggest Fan. If I ever find out who the bastard is, I…won’t do shit. My hands are tied until I can get the PR department off my back. From the expressions on Coach’s and Fournier’s faces, my ass will be going elsewhere if I touch the hair of another living being who isn’t in the rink.

“Gentlemen, I believe he understands the organization’s position on his situation, and he’ll act accordingly. Right, Mr. Ellison?” Fournier stood up and buttoned his Armani jacket, signaling the end of the conversation.

Maybe I am stupid. “Yes? I will stay married?” I narrow my eyes. Is that what he meant?

His gaze drills into me. “Happily married for at least six months. After we win the Cup, you can do whatever the hell you want.” Then he turns on the heels of his Italian leather loafers and strolls out.

Without a word more, Kowalski and Levine follow in his wake as they head toward the elevators and their offices on the top floor.

Shit. I really didn’t like the words, “Whatever the hell you want.” That didn’t sound encouraging to my future career with the Edge. This year the team had gotten their asses together and played like the pros we are, and the oddsmakers favor us to win the Cup despite how sucky we’d been last year.

“After we win the Cup…” Fuck. What will happen if we don’t? His mood will be so shitty, he’s powerful enough to guarantee I never play with another team, ever again.

“Everything will work out,” McMillan slaps me on the back. “Here’s her address if you don’t have it.”

He drops a sheet of paper on the table in front of me. I don’t bother mentioning Lily texted her address to me before we parted. I will need to contact her for the divorce, annulment, or whatever.

“Thanks,” I say while trying to sound sincere.

“If there is any consolation, we won’t be going to Vegas again this season.” With a chuckle, he walks out.

Very funny. The man is a riot. Not.

I stare at the address as if it will provide the answers I need. Snapping myself out of a trance, I pick it up and fold it into a pocket-size square.

One thing about the other night truly bothers me. Why did I do it? I have no desire to get married until my late thirties and have children. That’s when I plan to retire like my old man had. Only difference is I’ll do my kid right. I’ll make sure he feels like more than a photo op for the perfect hockey family.


I pull up in front of the house and park on the street. Lily’s home is a well-kept bungalow in a middle-class neighborhood about two miles from the rink her father owns and manages. The rink happens to be where the Atlanta Edge practices between games whenever possible. Have I seen her there before? I remember her dad. Buzz Jones was a former enforcer for Chicago in his rookie years until being traded to New York. After five years there, he bounced around several NHL teams, never finding a home for more than a year or two. His last team being the Edge.

In the dim evening light, flickering in the window indicates someone is watching TV or has it on for background noise. I do that on the odd occasion. When you live alone, the quietness can be depressing.

I try to peer through the thin curtain to see if Lily’s by herself. Never in my life have I been in such an uncomfortable situation. I’d rather crank up my car and head back home, but I don’t have an alternative.

When she walked out of the hotel’s honeymoon suite yesterday, she appeared to be in agreement that an annulment was best. So I’m not sure how she’ll take me backing out on our deal. Not only backing out, but insisting she lives with me in a big farce of pretending to be happy newlyweds. Considering how pissed off she was that day, I’ll have my work cut out.

I pat my pocket. The rings clink together. Yeah. I have a load of groveling to do.

After a deep inhale, I step out of the car and see movement on the front porch. Who was crazy enough to sit outside in this weather? It has to be at least near freezing. For Atlanta, that’s nuts-numbing cold with the humidity.

When I start up the steps, a man stands, just a few inches below my own six-three. Obviously, with the gray hair and fighter stance, it has to be her dad.

“Mr. Jones, I don’t know if you remember me from the Edge’s practice sessions, but I’m Connor Ellison.” I stick my hand out.

He looks down at it and sneers. “I know who the fuck you are. I wondered how long it would take you to grow a pair and show up.”

His gravelly voice filled with anger sends me back one step. The front door opens and Lily steps outside, almost eye-to-eye to her father.

For some reason, I’ve forgotten how the top of her head nearly reaches my chin, and the way she looks at me as if she can see straight into my soul. Damn, all of that turns me on.

“Dad, please be nice. I explained everything to you. I’m handling it. Nothing for you to get all wound up about.”

“Nothing? You aren’t nothing. He has to understand he can’t get away with this.”

“I’m not eighteen. Remember, I’m twenty-eight.”

With effort, I pull my thoughts back to the conversation, especially catching the ending. She’s two years older than me? She actually looks much younger.


“Come in, Connor,” she interrupts her dad. “We’ll let Dad cool off out here for a moment.”

She stands to the side and waves me through. I take another glance at Mr. Jones. He looks as if he wants to jump me and beat me to a bloody pulp.

I hesitate. I don’t want to upset the man further. But I need to talk with Lily. So I walk in. He huffs and turns his face from mine.

The place is neat with big, comfortable furniture and an open floor plan. More modern than I expected considering the old-style design of the house. It felt like a true home. More so than my place.

“Nice house.”

“Thanks. Have a seat. Want a drink? Dad keeps Bud in the fridge.” Without slowing, she picks up a remote and shuts down the TV and then heads toward the kitchen area. “Or we have soft drinks and bottled water.”

“Beer. So you got my text,” I plainly state. With her nonchalant attitude from the moment I showed up on her front step, I take it she received my message.

“Yeah. I must say, I didn’t expect to hear from you for at least six weeks.” She refers to our agreement to communicate after some time passed in case she turns up pregnant. Otherwise, my lawyer and hers will do the talking.

Before we left the hotel suite, Lily and I had searched for condom wrappers. There was one still in my wallet and an unopened box in my suitcase testifying none were used. I always suit up for sex. I never remember being so drunk as to forget. We agreed it also can be a sign that nothing happened. Considering our inebriated state, we probably started with a heavy make-out session, got naked, and then passed out.

“Yeah.” I take the beer she offers. “That was the plan until the emergency meeting this morning. It was with the team’s PR guy along with my coaches and general manager.” I pop the tab and take a long swallow.

“That doesn’t sound good.” She eases around a coffee table and gracefully sits on the edge of the sofa. Her jeans are faded with strategic cuts on her thighs. The tight T-shirt has Atlanta Edge Rules written across her full breasts.

Shit! I need to keep my eyes anywhere but there. Plus not wanting her on the defensive by having me towering over where she sat, I move toward a recliner, but hesitate when she shakes her head. Obviously, it’s her dad’s favorite spot. I ease into the overstuffed chair across from her.

“No. Not good at all.” I take a deep breath. What man likes to admit to fucking up? “I need your help.” One of the things my mom taught me is women love it when men show their vulnerability. It goes against my nature, but I have to play this right or my career will go up in flames. “As you’re a fan,” I nod to her shirt, “you probably know I’ve made a few bad decisions the last couple years.”

“You could say more than two years. Showing up late to training camp the first day of your rookie year was pretty stupid, and the time you were arrested for sliding down the banister at a New York Marriott wasn’t too smart. You could’ve broken a leg, and how would you’ve helped your team during the playoffs? And how about—”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Enough already.” I run my hand through my hair, seriously restraining myself from pulling it out. She’s talking about my pranks, and I might lose the only two things I care about: my team and the NHL. “Please listen. Okay?”

She nods. Her eyes narrow as if she expects the next words to be a lie. That makes my blood pressure skyrocket, but I stay in control.

The front door creaks open. Her dad steps into the house. Most likely he stayed outside long enough to regain control of his temper. I understand that. I might need to chill outside before I finish my plea.

“We can’t get an annulment right now.” My words come out even and soft, hoping her dad doesn’t hear.

“Why?” she asks in a whisper.

“Yeah. Why the hell not?” The older man towers nearby, arms crossed over his chest, ready to do battle for his daughter.

“Dad. Please. Let me handle this.” She turns back to me. “You promised.” She refers to my assurance to get the marriage annulled without delay.

I stand up.

Lily’s whole body tensed. Without even touching her, I can tell she’s stiff enough to snap in two. I’ve seen that stance on my mom a few times growing up. A woman who is uncertain of a reaction. Is it directed at me or her dad?

My hands remain at my sides, unthreatening. I want to make it understood I’m not here to harass or force her to do anything she doesn’t want to. I’m here to talk.

“You can’t trust a joker like him. I read the shit he pulled. Don’t listen to him,” Mr. Jones says as if he wants to fight.

She looks over at her dad. “Please. I know what I’m doing. You said you’d stay out of it.”

Mr. Jones’s shoulders slump as he drops his arms. Nodding, he rubs a palm across his face, the scrape of bristles against calluses breaks the tension. He looks toward me and gives me a threatening stare as if to say he’ll kick my ass if I hurt her. Finally, he breaks the stare-down and looks toward his daughter.

“I’ll be in my study.” He tilts his head toward a smallish looking, book-filled room beyond the kitchen. “Before I go, does anyone want coffee?”

“Thanks. No.” She looks my way, and I shake my head as I hold up the beer. “Close your door please.” Lily gives a weak smile.

Once it swings shut with a firm click, she returns her attention to me.

“Please explain.” She waits, watching me. Once again, her face closes down. She really thinks I’m about to give her bullshit. Nevertheless, I’m certain she’s the type of person who will give me a chance.

“A couple of weeks ago, the team’s management gave me an ultimatum that if I don’t get my act together off the ice, they wouldn’t extend my contract next year. Maybe even place me on IR as a healthy scratch before then.” Being placed on Injured Reserve for a healthy player can be a sign to other teams I’m a troublemaker. A decision that can send a player’s future income down the drain.

She nods. I can tell by how she’s listening, she understands the importance of what I’m saying.

“So today, they told me this latest prank—though it isn’t one—that I better show the world I’m a responsible adult and the Vegas wedding is for real. So I have to stay married.”

“Then you need to find another bride.”

The way she stares at me, I’m certain she wants me to eat dirt.

“No. It has to be you. It’s your name on the marriage certificate. It’s you who I woke up next to. I have a plan—”

“No, you don’t understand. I don’t want to be married and not to you. It was a mistake that I barely remember.” She rises to her feet next to the sofa and crosses her arms.

“So you’re remembering. I’m glad. Nothing has come back to me yet. I’m thinking someone spiked my drink.”

“It sure wasn’t me. You need to leave now. Go and find someone else to marry.” She crosses her arms and twists her mouth in obvious impatience.

Damn, I do like that sassy look.

“You haven’t been listening. You and I are married. This isn’t going away easily. No annulment, no divorce until the season ends.” I step closer to her, my gaze only drops a few inches. Rather odd to be able to look into her brown eyes without bending down. There have been a few women who came close but she’s near enough to six foot.

She leans back, glaring down her nose at me as if she’s the one taller. It’s unusual to have a woman glare at me as if I’m a bug beneath her feet. Most want to please me and are quite accommodating.

“How tall are you?” I blurt out.

Baffled by my sudden change of topic, she wrinkles her forehead and blinks. “That has nothing—”

“Don’t make a big deal about it. I’m just curious.” I rarely find a woman with whom I don’t get a crick in my neck while talking to her.

She tilts her head, studying me. As if she came to a decision, but uncomfortable about it, she takes a deep breath. “Five-eleven and half.”

Damn. Only a half inch off. I like it. There isn’t anything skinny about her. Slim with surplus in the right spots. Breasts a bit more than handfuls, and hips wide enough to handle me. I’ll have no need to worry about hurting her as I have most of the women I’ve fucked.

Best to keep those thoughts to myself and return to the present situation.

“Sit.” I hesitate and then add, “Please. Let me tell you how we’ll get through this disaster together.”




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Wholly Research, I Swear

Wholly Research, I Swear

Well, like most everyone, for the last couple months I’ve been reading books and watching a lot of TV. I’ve been working the life draining day-job during my usual hours. But since there is no travel time, except a short stroll down the hallway, I’ve found myself with a little more time to goof off. Sure, I have been doing some writing, but mostly ads, tweets, FB posts, and beefing up an old historical romance manuscript. Nothing worthwhile, like writing the my second book in the Southern Crime Family series, Sen.

But oddly, by watching TV, it has given me the juice needed to write that book. I think in a way, the success of Jake had me a little worried. What if I screw up and do a lousy job on Sen? I have a wonderful romance already figured out: a half-Asian bad boy and a deaf white girl whose daddy hated Sen. A bit of Romeo and Juliet, except the girl likes the guy but isn’t in love. The guy is, madly, deeply. Don’t worry, she’ll fall as madly and deeply in love too.

So you’re probably wondering what was I watching that help my writing mojo? Justified. The TV series (2010-2015) that used to be on the FX channel. Love the story, actors, and how they had fun shooting every scene. Set in Kentucky, it reminded me about a lot of things from when I was a kid. Not so much the criminal behavior, but how family stuck together and protected each other. They may fight each other, but heaven forbid if anyone interfered or attacked a family member. It didn’t matter if you hated your cousin’s guts, you took care of that cousin and later, after the trouble was over, you proceeded with your aversion to that relative.

Another show I watched was Self Made on Netflix. Love Octavia Spencer. She’s so talented. Anything she’s in, I’ll watch. I want her to be my friend. I’m sure she’s one of the most interesting people in Hollywood (figuratively, I have no idea where she lives). The movie was uplifting, as in showing with determination you can become successful. Sometimes you have to sacrifice parts of your life to achieve that goal, but if that’s your desire, go for it! Oh, the clothes. Beautiful.

Then I started hearing from different people about a new romance movie similar to 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t get into the Shades too much, mainly because the woman was a college student. I prefer movies, books with more mature characters. Let’s say each character to have been in the work force, full time, for a year or more. Anyway, I heard this movie was very sexy. It’s called 365 DNI on Netflix. This is my take on it, the writing could’ve been more mature, the photography was awesome, the quality of the filming was pretty good (think inside shots), the music was fine (I didn’t once think porno canned tunes), and the acting…a bit over the top a few times, but considering how good the male lead looked in and out of clothes, I can forgive it. Certainly worth watching once all the way through and a second time for the parts that were unbelievably hot.

Just a reminder, FAKE PLAY is coming out Tuesday, 6/30/20. Be sure to pre-order it and tell your friends. It will be the last of my hockey books for a while. I need to finish up the Southern Crime Family series (JAKE, SEN, and ETHAN) before I head over to a couple of bounty hunters books I want to finish. Goodness, I have so many books to finish or rewrite and get out there. You know, I did finish eleven books before number 10 became published. So number one through nine, and eleven need a chance to be read by you too.

Preorder Fake Play, Release 6/30/2020

Preorder Fake Play, Release 6/30/2020

Fake Play ad2Two strangers wake up in the same bed after partying in Las Vegas to discover they are married.

Connor Ellison, one of Atlanta Edge’s best wingers and biggest prankster, is given an ultimatum by the coaches and the PR department. He must stay married until the end of the run for the Cup or be available for trade.

Lily Jones wants nothing to do with the insane demand. But he convinces her the best decision is to play along. If they remain married and pretend to be in love, he offers to save her family’s ice rink from bankruptcy. Anyway, it’s only until the end of the hockey season. Then they can go their separate ways.

Easy-peasy. No way will they go to the finals. No way will they truly fall in love.



The book will be available to pre-order at other book seller locations soon.

Interviewing Myself

Interviewing Myself

In the past, whenever I interviewed an author, I used seven questions. It dawned on me today, I may have never answered them myself. Here they are.

Who are your top five authors to read?

Funny that if I had answered this just three years ago, it would’ve been a bit different. But I guess this is true to everyone.  My current favorites are Louise Bay, Maya Banks, Jennifer Ashley, Lisa Kleypas, and Linda Howard. The last two have been my favorites for years. When you come across an author who continues to publish books that hold your attention, you just can’t let them go.

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?

Oh, my, I actually have several now.  Lorraine Heath’s Lord of Wicked Intentions, Meagan McKinney’s Lions and Lace, Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and Maya Banks’s Never Seduce a Scot. I swear I re-read or re-listen to contemporary too. A couple of Sawyer Bennett’s Cold Fury books and several of Louise Bay’s English men (that’s not the name of the books, but the heroes are English, and YUM, the narrator (audio version) is great, but that’s because the author writes them so sexy!).

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?

In the beginning, I would say Linda Howard’s books. Her heroines are so smart and gutsy. Her book, All The Queen’s Men, encouraged me to write my first book, Circle of Desire, that was published by Avon’s Impulse Imprint. Now, don’t go and buy my book and expect it read like Linda’s. The only thing similar between the two is the heroines are gutsy in their own way.

The why is easy. I admire Linda’s writing then and still do. As time has gone on, I say several more authors have influenced me, such as Anne Stuart, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and the ones I mentioned above. If I admire your book and want to read it over and over again, I pay attention and think of how I can improve my writing.

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.

In my study.  But I can write anywhere I’m left alone for more than an hour. Otherwise, I’ll do other busy author work (editing, outlining, promo, etc.) in hotel rooms, waiting rooms, lunch time at day job, etc.  I type it in my phone, iPad, or write into a notebook I try to keep in my purse.

Tells us a little about your current book?

Fake Play is my second Atlanta Edge Hockey Romance book.

Two strangers wake up in the same bed one morning after a big party in Las Vegas to discover they are married. (OMG! This is one of my favorite tropes. But I love it.)

Connor Ellison, one of Atlanta Edge’s best wingers and biggest prankster, is given an ultimatum by the coaches and the PR department. He must stay married until the end of the hockey season.

Lily Jones wants nothing to do with him, but he convinces her the best decision is to play along. He offers, if they remain married and pretend to be in love, he’ll help save her family’s ice rink from bankruptcy.  That’s only until the end of the season, Then they can go their separate ways. Easy-peasy.

(But you and I know something will happen to stop that. Like love and marriage and a baby carriage…oops! Did I type that?)

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.

(This is a page or so into the beginning of the book.)

“Oh, f**k.” One big hand scrubs his face and then he uses the back of a wrist to rub his eyes. After a heavy sigh, he says, “Darling, you need to go. I have a bus and plane to catch in a couple hours.”

Great. He doesn’t remember my name. Isn’t that special?

“Lily. My name’s Lily.” I sit up and whimper. The room’s spinning. As anyone can guess, I’m not much of a drinker.

“Nice to meet you, Lily. I’m Connor.”

“I know.” My mouth is so dry. “You’re Connor Ellison, winger for the Atlanta Edge. I’ve seen your picture everywhere in Atlanta.”

“All right.” His gaze moves from mine, examining the room. He purses his lips.”Excuse me, but I need to get my stuff together.” He turns and picks up a pair of dark dress pants. For a couple seconds, I watch as he pulls them up and over a firm ass sans underwear.

I become light-headed, not from the view, goodness knows it’s a wondrous sight, but my body alerting me to how I mistreated it the night before. I bend over.

With hands on my knees, and my head nearly between them to keep from throwing up or fainting or both, I take in slow breaths. That’s when I see it. The biggest freaking diamond ring with matching wedding band. On my finger.

I straighten, lifting my hand in front of my face. “What? Is this real?”

It has to be a fake. Some type of joke.

I look at Connor. His confused look tells me he’s as clueless as I am.

What do you believe makes a man sexy?

A man is sexy when he pulls on a white shirt, tie, and dress pants just because he knows I appreciate it. When he does an unexpected and thoughtful thing, like pick up my favorite candy bar on the way home from work. Hugs me and kisses my cheek and tells me he loves me.


So Minor, But Important

Female legs and revolver

I was watching an interview with Mike Fisher, a retired NHL Nashville Predator and hubby of Carrie Underwood. In being teased about NHL roommates on the road, he mentioned they no longer have to share a room (per the CBA).

So many hockey romances I’ve read mention roommates. The junior leagues probably still do and that’s where others picked it up. Thus one of many reasons I read interviews, opinions, etc. about the NHL. I’m striving to make it real. Well, as real as a romance should be. Most readers appear to not want real-real. (e.g., My Brothers of Mayhem books.)

The Old Days

I came across a screen shot of my very first website. Yep. I designed it myself with SiteSpinner. A cool little software program that helps those unfamiliar with coding. It was WYSIWYG type and I used it for years. If you can read some of the small print, you will see I was a romantic suspense and paranormal writer. That’s paranormal romance writer by the way.Screen Shot 2019-08-25 at 11.27.12 AMOne day, I hope to pull out one of my paranormal romances and rewrite it and see if someone else likes it besides myself.

If you’re wondering, I wrote eleven books before I sold my first one. It was actually book number ten, my second romantic suspense, that Avon Impulse (HarperCollins) published. The first two books I ever wrote need to be thrown out, and only the plots used. One was a historical romance set in the Middle Ages. The next was a romantic suspense, not spy or assassin like my Circle books, but a former DEA agent (heroine) recuperating from her years being undercover. During the operation, she became addicted to cocaine while she played the drug lord’s girlfriend and she screwed up even more. She’d fallen for him. After putting him in prison, and length stay in rehab, she came under investigation. The special agent (hero) investigating her begins to have feelings for her. The drug lord escapes prison and troubles ensue.

No. I haven’t read it in years, but I still remember the plot.

October is a good month for me.  My first book, Circle of Desire, was published October 18, 2011, and on October 14, 2014, I agreed with Loveswept (Penguin-Random House) on a two-book contract. (Those books came out in 2016.) It was a mostly lovely experience I will never forget. The best part was joining forces with my agent, Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency. Love her!

So far, I’ve published 10 books.  All of them can be found at most major booksellers’ websites. Only one was from my pre-published days (yep, my debut book). So I guess you could say, I have a good stack to pull from when I have the time.

Presently, I’m working on a new Hockey Romance titled Fake Play.



What are they saying?

Female legs and revolverLast month, a member of my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America gave a presentation on Reviews. She did a wonderful job. She showed everyone how even best-selling romance authors can have two and one star reviews. That reviewers can even hate our favorite stories. You know, the books you catch yourself re-reading on those rainy, gloomy days in an effort to cheer yourself up.

Of course, being an author, my books are up for review. The funny thing about it, like so many authors out there, I can have mostly 4 and 5 stars, but it’s the 1 and 2 stars that catch my attention. Many authors say when they read the lower stars, they look for common complaints and then try to improve from there.

Personally, I find the common complaints to be the story didn’t go the way the reviewer wanted or the character wasn’t acting like a goody two-shoe. How boring! So I say, they need to write their own books.

I like my characters to have flaws. Not just that they place their elbows on the table as they eat type of flaws. But that they have low self-esteem, or too confident, or see the world as dog-eat-dog type of existence, or they can be a number one asshole/bitch. I like to think I make my characters real. I guess that’s why I hear “gritty” in a few of my books’ reviews. I take that to mean the characters and their actions are close to real life.

Unlike real life, I do make sure the ending is happy or at the least satisfying, especially when it comes to the main two characters. And they change by the end of the book and for the better.And thinking of stars, how often have you seen a reviewer write “I give this book three and half stars,” but show only 3 stars. What? First, don’t say half if the program doesn’t allow half stars (or coffee cups, hearts, or whatever).  Three and half should always be rounded up to 4 stars. I had to get that off my chest. It drives me crazy.

Or their review will read, “I loved this book!” And then give 3 stars. What? LOVE is only worth 3? Crazy.

I wish booksellers and review sites would get rid of stars (or whatever they use) and just have reviews. Or maybe booksellers should explain their star (or whatever) system to reviewers. All of it is inconsistent.  Once again, I had to get that off my chest. We authors know we cannot make comments on reviews or we’ll be gang-banged by the reviewer community, especially the trolls. So we grin and bear it.

With all of that being said, let me show what they are saying about my latest book, Crossing The Line.  My first hockey romance book. And yes, they will only the good comments. Thankfully, the yucky ones are fewer.

Per Marcia, I found the characters interesting, more so as they were developed. The provocative plot written with an appealing voice made this an engaging read. 

Per Diane, Carla Swafford did a great job with the plot. It was clever how things played out. The story was thought-provoking and heartfelt. This is the first book that I have read by Carla Swafford. I enjoyed her writing style. I am interested in continuing to follow this series. I recommend this book to people that enjoy sports romances. 

Per B., Kitty made my heart break from the first page. She had no self confidence, worth, or esteem. Casey (Roman’s agent) was a total [skeeze] and disgusting looser. Roman had a good heart and he melted mine with his intentions and actions towards Kitty from the first day.

Per lq, Kitty, especially, showed a great deal of personal growth and changes over the course of the novel in [a] way that I found endearing.

You can find the reviews on Goodreads or/and Amazon. 

New Release March 26!

Female legs and revolver

Atlanta Edge’s hottest Russian hockey star made a big mistake. Now he must find a way to apologize big time to the girl he left behind in the States.

I’ve been a puck bunny most of my life. So when Roman Volkov, up and coming hockey star with the Atlanta Edge, takes me home and treats me like a queen, I believe I’ve found the man I can love. Then one morning, I wake to the news that Roman has left me behind while he plays in Russia. His agent takes pleasure in kicking me out of Roman’s house. I don’t believe anything the sleazy man says. Roman is good to me. No way will he treat me this way. So I go in search for the truth and I discover so much more.

I’m suffocating on the third line when the season ends. So when I get a call from Russia in the middle of the night to participate in a high-profile tournament, I go for it. I’m certain a gold medal will launch me into the top line with my team back in the States. No sooner than I arrive, I call Kitty Summerville to explain why I left without waking her. She’s not answering. Has my ambition destroyed any chance of a future with her? When I return, my sexy kitten and I will have a long conversation.

Only, I want to know why is she living with my Coach, and his wife and family?