I'll take over Kayelle's CHOOSE ME party at 1PM on Friday, talking about my MM sci fi and speculative stories. Hope to see you there.
It appears First Lady Love will finally release next week. My story, "Daring Destiny," is part of the Dareville universe but you don't have to read it in order of the other books. Enjoy this short preview of the story, and in the week to come other authors from this all F/F romance set will guest on my blog. Watch for a buy link soon!
About the Story
Clara has waited the appropriate length of time since Shannon’s death to tell her widow, Desi, that she loves her. Desi doesn’t feel ready to move on, and Clara is determined to help change her mind.
With their guests departed and dessert plates smeared with thick chocolate ganache stacked in the sink, Clara turned on the hot water and drizzled citrus-scented liquid soap over the night’s wash. Desi had implored her to leave the mess until morning, but her fastidious nature got the best of her, and she reached for a sponge.
Halfway into the third dinner plate, a pair of arms snaked around her waist from behind, and Clara held in a pleasured groan. Desi’s cheek rested against her shoulder, though only momentarily. No matter; it proved time enough for her nipples to stiffen, aching for Desi’s touch.
The winery owner had meant it as a friendly hug, offered after a long day. It wasn’t the first time Desi had crept up on her like this, but she wanted it to lead to something deeper, more passionate.
One second. All it would take for Clara to turn around in Desi’s loose hold and kiss her. So close, yet she continued washing the dishes like a coward.
“I told you those could wait,” Desi chided her.
“With three group tours coming in tomorrow? Who will have time to clean up?” Clara’s heart sank when she pulled away, but she smiled when Desi grabbed a dry towel. She rinsed the plate and handed it off. “Besides,” she added, “we may need the plates, and I’d rather not rush in the morning.”
“I don’t know what I’d do without you here,” Desi said. “Yet, you work so much. Sunday is going to be slow. Why don’t you take a break then? Jenny and I can handle everything.”
“Good. I could use the day to catch up on invoices.” Clara heard the plate Desi held clatter to the counter.
“That’s not something to do on your day off.”
She smirked. She could think of a better way to pass a Sunday outside the winery, but knew Desi wouldn’t interpret a pass as genuine. Recalling her reaction to Ellie’s suggestion of moving forward, she’d do better not to jest about lovemaking.
“I like to work,” she said instead. “What else is there to do in town?” Clara lived on the winery property, in a small pre-fab cottage close to the McNeille home. She preferred to stay close to operations in the event of an emergency and had been grateful that Shannon and Desi allowed for the housing as part of her salary. Working at Dare’s Destiny wouldn’t make her a millionaire, but she didn’t want for much anyway.
A bathroom, a bed, a book or two...and a body to keep her warm at night. Three out of four wasn’t bad, but to clean sweep...
“Well, you don’t have to stay in Dareville,” Desi said. “There’s Virginia Beach. Go to a movie, the mall...anywhere.”
“The mall? I’m not a fifteen-year-old girl, Des,” Clara said with a laugh. “Really, I appreciate your concern for my well-being, but I actually find work relaxing. Maybe if it’s warm out, I’ll play tourist here and park on the deck with a bottle of the Chardonnay Reserve.”
“Funny you should mention that. When I was at Jake’s Organic this morning, a few people came up and said how much they enjoyed the barrel tasting party for that one. Even Ellie asked about the next vintage.”
Clara closed her eyes for a moment to conjure an exact image of their cellar, a space she knew as intimately as her own home. Not a barrel, not a spigot, could be moved without her noticing. Set in three rows of twelve, the oak whites had settled in for the winter and would be ready to sample soon. Given the last cold winter, Clara expected quite a difference in this coming vintage from the last bottling of the Reserve.
“Maybe, if we start planning immediately, we can schedule a weekend on late June,” Clara began, and Desi cut her off.
“Perfect. I’ll call Tish to see if she wants to set up a booth to sell her chocolates, and check with other local vendors and crafters, too.” Desi dried her hands on another towel then braced her palms behind her on the counter and faced Clara. “I like that people are willing to wait on us before they make plans for other events,” she said. “Which reminds me, we talked about doing a tent at the Norfolk wine festival in July...”
“Turned in the fees last week. We’re all set.”
Desi smiled at her, melting her heart. “What would I do without you?”