Today Smalltown Heat in the Red Hot & Blue series is available once again in both eBook and Paperback! If you haven’t already read it, I hope you had a chance to grab it.
So what’s next in this series? I am currently proofreading A FEW GOOD MEN (a full length Red Hot & Blue Novel), which be available again in eBook and Paperback the first week of December.
But to hold you over until the release in a few weeks, I’m including another excerpt below. Enjoy! And don’t forget to preorder if you haven’t read the story yet.
Army Sergeant John Blake is happy to ignore the romance novel he’s seen his tank crew passing around, until he becomes the author’s accidental pen pal, and her warm, caring emails make him look forward to checking his inbox. Maureen, aka Summer Winters Erotic Romance Author, has given up finding the last decent man on earth, until she finds him—halfway around the world.
…You are a really special woman to do all you do for us and I want you to know how much it means, and I am not only saying that because we really like the coffee you sent, even though we do.
These men are so dedicated to the platoon and the job at hand, particularly my tank commander, SSgt Blake, who is always worrying about the men in his command more than himself, that something as small as a decent cup of coffee is a huge deal. It’s good for me to see the men enjoying something again, even a thing so seemingly inconsequential. I thank you for that.
Well, I am halfway into my thirty minutes of computer time and my wife just came on Instant Messenger. Today is her birthday so I will close now. Hope to talk again soon. Take care.
Your friend, Jazzy
Maureen finished reading the email aloud and leaned back from her laptop. She had received it the day before and read it at least two other times, but it still got to her.
She reached for a paper napkin from the kitchen table. Dabbing at her eyes, she glanced at the skeptical face of her supposed best friend.
“See what I mean, Peter? Wasn’t that sweet? How can any guy I date now compete with that?”
Hand on his hips, Peter set his jaw and shook his head.
“Please don’t tell me you’re falling for this guy. He’s married—and do not throw Maurice in my face since I didn’t know he was married at the time.” Peter held up one finger to silence any protest and continued, “And besides the married thing, he’s somewhere in Iraq for Christ’s sake.”
Maureen threw her hands up in the air. “Jeez, Peter. You too? Why the hell does everyone think I’m incapable of writing an email to a guy without falling in love with him? Am I that pitiful?”
Peter raised one brow as if to say yes, she was that pitiful. With friends like him, she didn’t need enemies.
With a sigh, she shook her head. “And to answer your question, no, I’m not falling in love with him. We’re just pen pals.”
Peter sat in the opposite chair and leaned forward. “Then why does reading his email make you cry? Why haven’t you been on a successful date in months, since about the time you joined this soldier website? Huh? What’s the problem if not him?”
He was correct about one thing—after she’d started getting to know Jazzy and the other soldiers, regular men paled in comparison.
Maureen sighed and searched for the words. “What I’m trying to show you is all the letters I receive are like that. Some of them are more formal and call me ma’am, which I don’t particularly like, but they are all grateful and appreciative and tell me how wonderful I am, sometimes for doing as little as sending an email or a postcard. And they talk about risking their lives for each other and for their country. They work seven days a week, even on holidays, sometimes twenty-four hours straight. They’re honorable and hardworking men. And then I go out on a date here with some guy and all he does is talk about himself and tell me he wants to get rich quick on some scheme so he can retire by the time he turns forty and do nothing for the rest of his life.”
Peter screwed up his face but didn’t deny the truth of it. He’d heard her complaining about all her bad dates pretty much since he had known her. “That last date you went on was just a particularly bad one.”
“No, you think?” She responded with as much sarcasm as she could muster.
Maureen remembered her last date asking her to cover half the restaurant bill even though he had drunk twice as much as she had and had eaten the most expensive thing on the menu. Although at that point, she didn’t want to owe him anything, so she’d gladly handed over the cash.
“You can’t judge all males by him. Please don’t, since I’m one of them.”
“You’re gay. You don’t count.”
Peter raised his brow. “Thanks, I think.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Sure, I know what you mean. You only want to get close to either gay men or soldiers deployed on the other side of the globe. Ridiculously unattainable, safe men who you can’t fall for and get hurt by because you, missy, are afraid of actually getting what you think you want . . . a real relationship.”
“That’s not it.”
“No. Think about it. Think of all the single guys I’ve dated lately. They’re proof there are exactly two groups of decent males left in the world. Gay men and military men.”
Peter smirked. “I have to tell you that this plan of dating only gay men or deployed soldiers doesn’t look so good if you ever want to have sex again. Although from what I found in your bedside drawer when I was looking for a nail file the other day, maybe you don’t need a man to have sex with.”
Maureen felt her face heat when she pictured her little battery-operated friend in the drawer Peter spoke of. He broke out laughing, his blue eyes crinkling in the corners.
Peter might be the bitchiest man she knew, but there was no doubt he was handsome, which was probably why he got away with it. It didn’t make her face any less red at his comment though.
He waved a hand in her direction, looking as if he enjoyed her embarrassment. “Don’t worry about it, sweetie. You should see what’s in my bedside table.”
She definitely did not want to see that. “We better not even go there.”
“You’re right. Your virgin ears can’t take it.” He rolled his eyes.
“I will be a virgin again soon if I go much longer without sex.” Maureen let out a huff.
Maybe that explained why she was so skilled at writing sex scenes for her novels. Wishful thinking. At least she put all that pent-up sexual energy to good use.
“Again, an obsession with gay men and men seven thousand miles away doesn’t bode so well for sex. And tell me this, Miss Closet Author, if gay men are so wonderful in your opinion, when are you going to write a gay character into one of your novels? A devastatingly handsome, rich and successful gay man who sexy hot guys fight over. You can base him on me.” Peter watched her expectantly .
“Careful what you wish for,” she warned.
One brow shot up toward his hairline. “I could say the same to you, missy.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means, let’s say you get yourself a soldier to fall in love with. What then? He’ll be over there and you’ll be here.”
“I’m not falling for a soldier. But even if I did, they do come home eventually, you know. Deployments don’t last forever.”
“Yes, he could come home—if he doesn’t get killed first—and then you’ll still be here in the city and he’ll be wherever. Are you going to quit your job, give up your rent-controlled apartment in a neighborhood that actually has parking and pick up and move to whatever godforsaken place he is?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. What would be wrong with that? I hate my job. And this rent-controlled apartment is barely big enough for me and the cockroaches that live here.”
Peter let out a loud frustrated breath. “And then what? Live in cookie-cutter base housing on military pay? Ugh, he’d probably be from the South too. Before you knew it you’d be having your hair set and teased weekly at the local beauty parlor by Mabel, the town gossip. God, you’ll probably stop wearing designer labels and start buying all your clothes at a store with ‘mart’ in the name.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’ve watched Steel Magnolias too many times on the classic movies channel. And there must be decent shopping in the South. I’m sure of it.”
If not, there was always the Internet.
He continued, undaunted, “You’ll become a devoted little military wife baking cookies to ship overseas with the other wives while he gets shipped off again to God knows where for a year at a time or more.”
Maureen considered. It might be nice to have a woman friend or two, and who didn’t like fresh-baked cookies?
Arms crossed, Peter watched her as he silently challenged her to argue with his logic. At least he appeared to be finished with the tirade.
“None of this matters because I’m not looking for a soldier to fall in love with.” She stifled the urge to stamp her foot to emphasize the point.
“Then why are they all you talk about, and why haven’t you been out on a date in weeks?”
Because all the decent straight men she knew were in the military. She kept that to herself.
Dammit, there had to be a few good men left in the world who were straight, single civilians. She just had no idea where they were all hiding.
With her back against the wall, Maureen went on the offensive. “You want me to date so badly, you find me a decent guy to go out with. A straight guy,” she quickly added when she remembered Peter plucked his fish from a different dating pond than she.
“As if I would give an eligible gay man to you.” Peter scoffed. “I’ll keep him for myself and ask if he has a straight friend.”
That was an idea. Tag-team double dating. The plan began to take shape. It might actually work.
Excited, Maureen said, “Okay, it’s a deal.”
Frowning, Peter asked, “What’s a deal, exactly? What did I just get myself into?”
“Your idea. It’s perfect. Double dates only. You and me and two guys, one for each of us, each of the appropriate persuasion. One gay, one straight.”
Peter’s eyes opened wide in surprise. “That was my idea?”
Peter looked pleased with himself. “Hmm. It is a pretty good one actually. Okay. I’ll take credit for it and I’ll do it. Where do you suggest we go to get the guys?”
That was a problem she had hoped Peter had the answer to. “Um, gay bars I guess?”
He cocked his head to one side as if considering that. “We can find a few there maybe, but those dating waters are a bit murky, believe me. What about dating websites?”
She tilted her own head and considered. “Nah, those waters are possibly murkier. What about museums?”
“Good. I like my men with a bit of culture. The gym?” Peter volleyed back.
She smiled. “Definitely. I like my men with a bit of muscle. Um, anybody at work?”
“I’ll ask around my office and see. You too.”
Maureen pictured having to ask Tiffany, the best connection to the local dating pool, and dreaded it. Desperate times demanded desperate measures. Time to swim with the sharks.
She nodded. “All right, I’ll ask. What about rules?”
“What about rules?” Peter frowned and looked confused. “We have rules?”
“I mean do we separate if one of us gets lucky? Or do we stick it out to the end of the night and any sex has to be on future alone dates?”
“Hmm. Good point. I don’t want to leave you alone in the hands of a possible molester.”
Her heart melted. Sometimes Peter had his moments. “Aww. How sweet. See, a straight guy wouldn’t think of that.”
Peter chuckled. “Maybe not, but I bet your military men would.”
She sighed. Feeling suddenly deflated again, she slumped in her wooden chair. “I bet you’re right.”
He laid his hand over hers. “Oh cheer up. I have it. How about this for a solution? I have the spare bedroom at my place. On nights we have dates, you sleep over. If one of us wants to carry the date a step further, shall we say, the other one will be there to act as a buffer.”
Or to call the police. She squashed that unpleasant thought.
God willing, it would never come to that, and hopefully they would be mostly dating men recommended by people they knew, even if it was by Tiffany.
The sleepovers had another upside too. “We can bitch about the bad dates the next morning over coffee and bagels,” she pointed out.
She was getting excited about this idea a bit more now that it involved a sleepover and bitch session, not to mention Peter’s always excellent coffee.
“Or we could review the good dates over my eggs benedict, but yes, we can, Ms. Pessimist.”
Hmm. Even better. Peter loved to cook. She’d get a gourmet breakfast and a bitch partner. This was sounding better every minute.
Adult sleepovers, the platonic kind, were highly underrated.
“And can we drink mimosas?” she asked hopefully.
He laughed. “You know I never pass up champagne, and after your dating track record we may need the alcohol.”
Maureen would have protested except it was true. “You’re right.”
“So when do we start?” he asked.
“How soon can you find us men?”
“Is that a challenge I hear? Don’t you worry, Miss Doubtful. I’ll get the balls rolling, no pun intended.”
She shot him a doubt-filled look.
“Well, maybe intended a little bit. Anyway, I’m not going to do all the work, so let’s make this a little more interesting. I’ll get us the first set of men, however long it takes me, but you have to find us the next two in the same amount of time or less.” He raised a brow. “Unless you don’t think you can do it . . .”
Now Peter was playing on her competitive streak, and it was working, dammit. She narrowed her eyes. Let the games begin.
“I can do it. You’re on. Let’s shake on it.” She thrust out her hand. “To our dating partnership.”
Peter grasped her hand and shook. “To our dating partnership. Long may it reign. No, scratch that. May it be short and sweet and end in both of us walking down the aisle so I don’t have to spend another Saturday night babysitting you.”
“Or I you,” she countered with a nod.
“Amen,” Peter added.
The more Maureen thought about this crazy plan, the more she realized praying couldn’t hurt.