Have a happy and safe 4th of July!
I hope you get to spend Independence Day doing whatever you enjoy, with the people you love. If you get the chance to relax & do a little light reading, download a copy of FALLING FOR CASANOVA.
Here’s a July 4th sneak-peek.
“Just because the whole town spends every holiday at the fire department doesn’t mean we have to.” Joy climbed into the passenger seat of the Green Machine while Tristan checked the children’s seatbelts were secure in the back before he slipped behind the steering wheel.
“What would you rather do today?” He put the van in reverse and backed out of Lorraine’s driveway.
Joy shrugged. “If the house is ready I could be setting up. But I know, I know…you’re waiting for the final touches to be complete. I don’t want to ruin the big surprise you’ve planned.”
“Forget the house.”
“Impossible. It’s all I can think about.”
“Would you rather skip the barbecue and spend Fourth of July on the beach?”
“I would, but I didn’t pack for a day at the beach. I packed for a day at the firehouse.”
“Wanna see a movie?”
“We’ve seen everything PG and under.”
“Wanna go bowling?”
“I just had my nails done.”
“Wanna go to the park.”
“We might as well go to the barbecue then.”
“Are you sure?”
Joy sighed. “Sure. What the hell. Everyone’ll be there. My folks enjoy seeing the kids.”
“Ya think they’ll offer to babysit?” Tristan sounded hopeful.
“So we can make out in the van?” she joked.
He waggled his brows. “Sounds good to me.”
With three kids in their life, date night had become more of a pipe dream. Romance was reduced to sneaking kisses in the laundry room or wherever they could steal a moment. Between working all day and catering to the children, they were both beat. Sleeping together was literally sleeping together like they’d been married for forty years. Joy worried they were falling into a rut.
“We don’t have to stay all day. Just a little while.” Tristan affirmed with a kiss on the back of her hand.
It wasn’t that Joy minded spending time at these festive community events, she just wanted a little excitement to spice up the usual routine.
After burgers, beers, and banana splits, the band rocked until dark as the crowd waited for the fireworks. This was how she spent every July Fourth of her childhood, and now, thanks to Tristan’s persistence, she could share the moment with her boys.
“We’ll watch the kids tonight.” Sophia sat on the folding lawn chair next to Joy.
She gave her mother a curious glance. “Why?”
“Because…” The woman never said no whenever Joy needed a sitter but rarely did she suggest it on her own. “We miss them.”
Huh? Joy leaned away from the body snatcher that stole her mother. “You see them all the time, you don’t have to—”
“Don’t argue with your mother, Joy,” her father chimed in. “We’ll keep them at our place overnight if that’s all right?”
Tristan massaged the back of Joy’s neck with a strong hand. “You sure?” he asked her parents.
The whole situation seemed sketchy to Joy, like the three of them were in cahoots.
“Yeah. You two go have some fun.” Bob waved them away.
“Daddy? For real? You wanna take three kids tonight? They’re hopped up on ice cream and lollipops.” Joy gave her father a doubtful eye, wondering the motive behind this generous offer.
“Don’t you trust us? We raised three kids or did you forget? We can handle yours.” He leaned over to kiss Joy’s forehead then shook Tristan’s hand and exchanged whispers.
“I’ll run home to pack their PJs and toothbrushes and drop it off to you.”
“Don’t worry about it. We have everything they need,” her father insisted.
“Where are the kids so we can say goodnight?” Joy stood, looking around, spotting them by the bandstand.
“Just go or you’ll never get out of here.” Bob nudged her in the other direction. “They’ll be fine. Now scram before we change our minds.”
Tristan grabbed her hand and they weaved through the mob to get to the van.
Once they were cruising down Main Street, Joy asked, “What did he say?”
“Who?” Tristan shrugged. The man played dumb like a world champion.
“Never mind.” Not in the mood to start another war, she shut up. As they wound through the narrow streets toward his house, she exhaled an enormous yawn as if her fatigued body knew his big, comfy bed was near.
“Tired?” Tristan squeezed her hand.
When they got home, the dogs were bouncing around the house, freaking out after someone set off a bunch of bottle rockets in the street.
Joy kicked off her flip-flops and curled on the couch with the pups while Tristan turned up the stereo to some classical music to block out the noise.
“Don’t get too comfy,” he said.
He disappeared into the bedroom and returned with handcuffs and scarves. “I have something to show you.”
“I’m so pooped I won’t fight it so no need to go through the trouble.”
“Trust me, it’s no trouble.” A cunning smile crossed the luscious lips she craved to kiss if she had the energy.
“Oh, fine…Should I take off my shorts?”
“Nope. And leave the tank top on too.” He pulled her to her feet, cuffed her hands behind her back, covered her eyes, and nudged her forward.
“Where are we going?”
“Shhh…” He guided her with a gentle hand between her shoulder blades. “Pretend you’re sleepwalking.”
She stepped one bare foot in front of the other. By the space and distance, she figured they were headed to the kitchen. “This is a strange kind of foreplay.”
“Keep going, keep going. Less talking, more walking.”
The back door opened with a recognizable creak, and the muggy night air wrapped around her like a moist towel. “Don’t I need shoes?”
“I think you’ll be all right. We aren’t going that far. Don’t worry.”
He marched her onto the wooden deck, down the three steps to the damp lawn, then spun her a few times like playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. “Having fun yet?” He chuckled, seeming amused with this game.
“Oh, loads. You’re making me dizzy.”
“Good.” He led her in a circle, then a straight line, then zigzagged until they stopped.
“Are we there yet?”
Joy waited for the mask to come off but instead he prodded her from the soft grass, up three wooden stairs. “All that work to go back inside?”
“Swell. Now that I’m all sweaty, I need a shower. Thank you.”
The door didn’t squeak when it whooshed open. And the flooring wasn’t sticky hardwood, but cool like ceramic tile. The smell was unfamiliar, like lavender and fresh paint. “Where are we?”
“Home.” Tristan pulled down the fabric from her eyes.
Standing at the center of a new kitchen, she spun slow, taking in all the sights like a kid in Disney World for the first time. “Is this…? It can’t be, can it?”
“It can and it is.” Tristan waved his hands like a magician, presenting her with a single key between his fingers. “Is the décor okay? You seemed to like my place, so I worked with that. Plus your folks showed me old photos from when you lived here. I stuck with their scheme the best I could. Waiting for the furniture to be delivered took longer than I expected. But it’s all ready for you. You can move in right now if you want.”
“I want, I want,” Joy shrieked, nodding, shaking off the shock. “Thank you.” She would’ve hugged him but her hands were bound behind her back so Tristan gathered her in his arms.
“You like it?”
“I do. I really do. What’s not to like?”
“I’m not sure if you’ll like the living room so much.”
“Tsk. Don’t be silly.” Joy skimmed around him, but he stopped her and pulled up the scarf over her eyes again. “Seriously?”
“Do me a favor and just play along, will ya?”
“Fine,” she conceded, letting him guide her by the elbow. Then he pushed down on her shoulders until she landed on something firm yet bouncy. “New couch? Very comfortable. I wish I could see it.”
“New everything.” He pulled the blindfold over her head and smacked it against his palm as he let out a shaky breath. “Whaddaya think? Be honest. I can change it if you don’t like it.”
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FALLING FOR CASANOVA
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And check out my other books:
SLEEPING WITH SANTA