This week I’d like to share with you an excerpt from Love’s Bounty, the second book in the Tilling Passions series:

The night air blowing in from the ocean was cool, but not unpleasant, even as the sun slipped lower. The mild September weather was prolonging the usually short Maine summer. Deirdre inhaled a great gulp of the briny mix as she crossed the stately front porch.

“Excuse me, miss, I need to pat you down.” One of the bald twins flanking the massive front doors laid a thick hand on her shoulder, impeding her progress.

“Oh, what the heck, pat away.”

Deirdre threw her arms out wide, feeling every bit as naughty as the glint in the man’s hazel eyes. What was up with the body inspection? She ventured a guess as to what roaming hands was looking for. Weapons? Drugs? Wires? She laughed at her own musings. What, did she think she was in some crime novel? This was Maine, for goodness’ sake, not New York or Miami.

As the broad fingers lightly brushed over her breasts, then down her back, his hand lingered longer than necessary on her ass, and she wondered if he was looking for sex toys and laughed again.

He flashed her a million-dollar smile. She might have stayed to chat, if she was into him. But his biker charm did nothing for her simmering libido, so she batted her long lashes flirtatiously and moved over the threshold into the throng of revelers already enjoying the evening.

The foyer she entered was open. A crystal chandelier cast shimmering light on the partygoers standing at the foot of the stairs and spilling in all directions. The curved banister snaked up to the second floor in a graceful arch that opened to a balcony. People moved about on both levels.

“It’s about time.” Emilio strode up to her. “We’ve been watching for you. Weren’t sure you were going to come.” The collar of his silk shirt fluttered as he walked toward her. Open nearly to his navel, it exposed the bronzed musculature of his torso and the gold chain he habitually wore. Strong pecs covered in silken black tufts accented a well-sculpted abdomen.

He gave Deirdre a hug. “I told you she’d come,” he said, and he elbowed the raven-haired beauty standing next to him. Dressed in a turquoise wrap barely covering the essentials, the woman smiled first at Deirdre, then up at Emilio. They made a handsome couple, or would have if they didn’t bat for the same team.

“Dee, sweetie.” Rachel leaned in and kissed the air on either side of her face.

They both laughed. She’d done it as a joke. Normally, neither one of them acted this high society or attended these types of soirees. Saturday nights usually found them at Duane’s Bar and Grill in Delmont. Relaxed in their jeans and T-shirts, they usually spent the night drinking brews and shooting pool with the rest of the hometown crowd. Maybe do a little bump and grind to the country tunes blaring out of the juke box. But not this night. This night was about hooking up with a total stranger and letting nature take over.

Rachel leaned in close. “It’s about time you allowed yourself to relax and stop mooning over that two-timing bi…”

“Rachel.” Emilio cut her off with a flick of his wrist. Stopping a passing waiter, he snagged them each a flute of champagne off the silver tray. “Tonight is about forgetting and letting go of all our inhibitions.”

“Oh, as if you ever had any, Emilio.” Deidre laughed.

“Okay, not me, but you two.” He pointed a finger at them. “I promised you both a night of fun and fantasy. It will all be at your fingertips if you’re brave enough to let go and fly.” His ebony eyes shimmered with mischief.

“Deirdre, I think the man just issued a dare.”

“I do believe you’re right, Rach.”

The three of them had been friends since grade school. They’d gotten in plenty of trouble over the years, pressing each other to break the rules. It had been a long time since Deirdre had let them goad her into doing something outrageous. But this night, she wanted to forget about the rules, forget about Brianna and all the pain that woman had caused her.

“Only a chump turns down a dare.” Deirdre lifted her glass in a mock salute, before gulping the bubbling liquid like a whiskey shot.

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