by Dena Garson
by Dena Garson
by Dena Garson
Nicki Cartwright is one snowflake away from losing her dazzling TV camera smile. Between her mother interfering in her non-existent love life, a spotlight-stealing co-worker, and the threat of the snow storm of the decade, Nicki wants nothing more than to run away to a tropical beach. Instead, she lets herself be talked into attending the McNair’s 50th anniversary party.
Randy Stephenson’s drive from Chicago was uneventful until a winter blast made the last thirty-something miles nearly impassable. By the time he makes it to his grandparent’s cabin, an anniversary party is the last thing he wanted to endure. But finding Nicki there, the girl he had always regretting leaving, makes him glad he came.
Turns out fate-or maybe just a set of scheming grandparents-has plans for them. Stranded at the cabin, alone and with no real party in sight, they’ll have to face old hurts and an electric attraction. Is great sex, a little honesty, and a potentially priceless painting enough to mend a broken heart?
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content/Theme(s): Second Chances
Release Date: April 20, 2016
Trailers, Excerpts, Mystic’s Touch & More
Snow Effect Excerpt:
Randy stomped the snow off his boots at the back-porch door before entering the small storage room that acted as a weather barrier to the cabin. Like so many years before, he was alone at Pops’ and Grams’ cabin with Nicki Cartwright. Perhaps he was being given a chance to explain why he left and why he’d never been able to face her and apologize.
When he opened the cabin door, he saw her sitting in the same place. She had curled up in the oversized chair and wrapped a blanket around herself. She seemed to be lost in her thoughts. Was she as unsettled as him to be here? Or were thoughts of someone else distracting her? A pang of jealousy caught him off guard.
That was stupid. She’d probably had several boyfriends in the last eight years. He had no claim on Nicki’s affections. And it wasn’t as if he had been chaste.
Still he couldn’t shake the primal urge to pound on his chest and roar at any other man who might get within ten feet of Nicki. Randy shook the thought from his head and kicked the porch door closed behind him. “It’s sleeting more than it is snowing now.”
“I thought I heard ice hitting the window.”
“The roads will be slick in the morning if this keeps up.”
She nodded in agreement. “I guess you got here just in time.”
Randy held her gaze. “Looks like it.”
Something unspoken passed between them. Nicki squirmed in her chair. It made him want to disturb her. To get under her skin and never leave. But he didn’t want her to be afraid of him. Besides, it wasn’t as if he was going to bite her.
At least not in a bad way.
And, even then, only if she asked.
Nicole fingered one corner of the blanket, twisting it around and around. “So, how have you been?”
“I’ve been fine.” He walked to the couch across from where Nicki sat and dropped his bags on the floor next to it. “Business is booming.” He slipped his coat off and draped it across the back. He rested his elbows on his thighs and looked her in the eye. “You look good, Nicki,” he said quietly. Honestly.
“Most people call me Nicole.”
Randy smiled at her attempt to sidestep his compliment. He scanned her from head to toe, at least what he could see from beneath the blanket. “You still look like Nicki to me.”
She blushed under his scrutiny. “Yeah, well…” she stammered. “What have you been up to? I heard you started your own architectural firm.”
He leaned against the back of the couch and draped one arm across the top of the cushions. “I did. Actually it’s a partnership with one of the guys I went to school with. We specialize in renovating historical buildings to make them commercial friendly without losing the historical value of the property.”
Nicki nodded. “Didn’t your firm get some kind of award recently for your work in one of the Chicago suburbs?”
“Yeah, we did.” It pleased him that she kept tabs on him. “How did you know? I haven’t even told Pop or Gram yet.”
“It must have come across in one of the newswires at the station.” A faint blush appeared on her cheeks. “Don’t worry, though.” She pulled one slender hand from under the blanket and waved it in the air as if to brush away the thought. “I haven’t said anything to them. So, if you wanted to surprise them, it isn’t ruined.”
“Thanks. It’s not that big of a deal even if you did tell them. I just wanted to surprise Gram. She always makes a big deal about things like that. I thought she’d get a kick out of housing the plaque for me.”
“She’ll love it.”
In reality, the award meant a lot to him and Vince. It would open many doors for their firm and create new business opportunities. New business meant they might be able to open a second office like they had talked about for a couple of years.
“What about you? How’s your television show going?”
“Good.” Nicki nodded. “I get to interview local artists and keep up with new exhibits in town. So, yeah, it’s good.”
“Glad to hear it.”
Nicki continued to nod. Was she trying to convince him that it was good? Or herself?
“Gram said the show was a new concept for the station and they went out on a limb to give you a chance with it,” he prompted.
“Yeah.” She smiled. Now she looked like the Nicki he remembered. “At the time, no one in the state had done anything like it. Bob took a chance on me and the show.” She tilted her head to one side. “It’s been working out. We’ve been getting great ratings and it supports the governor’s campaign to promote the arts in the community.”
“Do I sense a but in there?”
“Well…” Nicki’s voice trailed off as she turned her head away. “We’ll see how it turns out.”
“What’s the problem? Don’t you like doing the show?”
When she faced him he saw a troubled look in her eye before she could mask it.
“Mostly. I love doing the interviews and the research and going to the gallery openings. The politics that go with running a show get old after a while but it is part of the deal.”
Once again he was unsure who she needed to convince. Before he could press her, she changed the subject.
“So, how long were you planning to stay around?”
Was she already trying to get rid of him? “I didn’t make definite return plans. Through the weekend at least.”
Randy surprised himself with his answer. He’d told Vince he’d be back Sunday night, but something about Nicki’s prickly attitude made him want to stay just to get to the bottom of it. “What about you? Did you take vacation days to come out here?”
“A couple, but I can head back in the morning.”
“Seriously. Don’t leave because of me.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to stay.” Nicki pulled the blanket up to cover her arms and chest.
“Why? We’re two grown adults.”
“Two adults who have a history.”
Randy couldn’t resist asking, “Did I ruin things between us so badly that you can’t even stand to be in the same place as me?”
Nicki held his gaze before answering. “I’d like to think not. But I spent so many years putting it behind me that I’m not sure I want to go back into that dark place to figure it out.”
Randy nodded, more in acknowledgement that he’d heard what she said than agreement. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
“What exactly are you apologizing for?”
“For walking away and not telling you why. For not returning your calls. For not getting in touch with you even once over the last eight years.” In a softer tone he added, “For hurting you.”
Nicki nodded stiffly and turned her face away.
Randy’s heart twisted painfully in his chest. He’d hurt her and he regretted it more than anything he’d ever done. What could he do to make it right?
He crossed his arms over his chest and stared into the empty fireplace. Memories of the day he’d left Sumner for Chicago flitted through his mind.
Nicki stood from the chair, halting his trip down memory lane.
“I think I’ll turn in. Are you going to stay up for a while?” she asked.
“Probably only long enough to grab a bite to eat. I’m a little tired from the drive.”
“I took a casserole out of the freezer when I got here. It’s in the fridge. There’s some lunch meat, too.”
“That’ll work. Thanks.”
Nicki turned to go then stopped. “I, uh, I took the back bedroom. It looked like both of the bedrooms were made up down here. I didn’t check upstairs, though.”
“I’m pretty sure the drive will catch up with me pretty soon and I won’t care where I crash. I’ll just take the other one down here.”
“Okay. Well, goodnight then.”
Randy watched until Nicki disappeared around the corner. Even in the loose-fitting pajamas and T-shirt, he could tell she worked to stayed in shape. She had always been delicate looking but now she had womanly curves in all the right places. His body hardened just thinking about exploring those curves.
It may be too late for regrets but perhaps it wasn’t too late to begin something new.
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by Dena Garson
Daughters of Light Book One
Danet is a simple servant-turned-physician with one too many voices in her head. How she ended up being able to speak to the royal Prince with only their thoughts is beyond her but their unusual connection may end up saving his life.
After his father’s death, Prince Ceros was poised to assume the throne until he fell victim to a mysterious illness. He may be a glorious example of male perfection, but he also holds the power to expel Danet from the kingdom if her extraordinary gifts ever come to light. Gifts she may need call upon in order to heal him.
The laws of man might stand the test of time, but destiny is a force to be reckoned with, and true love will not be denied.
Note: Originally published by Ellora's Cave in February 2014.
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Content/Theme(s): Magic, Shifters
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Mystic’s Touch Excerpt:
She took a moment to look around the room. She had never been in the prince’s chambers before yesterday and even then she had been so focused on why she could hear his thoughts she didn’t take in her surroundings. The furnishings were surprisingly sparse.
It’s a functional space, he said, obviously picking up on her thoughts. I haven’t lived here for several years and my visits were often short when I did return home.
But it is home.
Yes. He paused. Yes, it is.
Danet set the basket of linens on the floor not far from the bed. The bed itself was oversized, obviously made to accommodate the prince’s large frame. However it was a simple structure. A mattress set upon a platform, neither far from the ground. The linens were plain but of the finest quality.
The prince had been placed in the center with a sheet covering his lower half.
Before she looked at his face, she reminded herself she had company in her head and shouldn’t comment on anything she saw. The last time she had a glimpse of the prince she remembered thinking he was handsome enough that he would never have to worry about finding his princess.
So, how are you today? she asked, struggling for neutral conversation.
He growled. How he managed to project the sound in her head puzzled her, yet made her smile.
I am alive.
Have the physicians checked on you yet?
Yes. I have endured poking and prodding again this morning.
Did they say anything?
I heard two people whispering that, other than an increased heartbeat, they didn’t detect any changes. They worried that Darius would not be pleased.
I’m sure he isn’t.
I worry more about Mother and how she is handling this so soon after Father.
Your mother is a very strong, capable woman. She will do what she has to do to see you well and to cope with whatever comes her way.
The prince paused. You are right. Another pause. Thank you.
I speak only the truth.
She allowed him a moment to let the thought sink in. As she waited, it occurred to Danet the connection had become stronger and she could hear him much better. It sounded as if he were speaking from across the room instead of down an empty hall.
I am going to change your bed linens to make myself busy lest it appear I came in here just to admire your princely beauty.
You may admire my princely beauty as well. His appreciation of her sarcasm came through their connection.
She snorted. I am sure you have an ample supply of ladies to do that. I’ll stick with trying to heal you.
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Be on the lookout for Dena Garson's future release(s): Rege’s Rescue coming August/September 2016
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