Merry Christmas! I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying a peaceful holiday season in the midst of all the crazy that is 2020. I wish you all good health and so much happiness in the new year!
If you need some Christmas romance in your life, you can check out my holiday themed books. These stories are from three of my most popular series: Ransom, Lovestruck, and Three Girls. A Ransom Christmas and Lovestruck at Christmas are both novella length and A Three Girls Christmas is a fun short story. Enjoy catching up with some old friends from these series!
One of the things I’m most looking forward to in 2021 is the release of my next book. Fight For Me, the third book in the new Ransom Family Series will be available January 12th. Fight For Me is all about Wyatt Warner and I can’t wait to share his story with you!
Lastly, please keep an eye out next week for some exciting news about a major sale. I’m joining in with a bunch of my author friends to offer over 300 free ebooks! This is a great chance for you to stock up for all those new ereaders Santa will be bringing on Christmas morning 😉
Wrong For Me, the second book in the new Ransom Family series, is now available! Rose Ransome is one of my favorite characters and I am so excited for you to finally read her story. I hope you enjoy it!
As far as summer jobs go, it could be worse. There’s good music playing, the night air is warm, and the tips have been freaking fantastic. All in all, not bad.
Which I would know, considering I’ve worked just about every job you can imagine during my six years of undergrad and grad school. I’ve done all the usual things—fast food joints, mowing lawns, hauling boxes for a moving company. Endless grunt work filing papers in an insurance office. Painting houses. Construction. One summer I even had a weekend job working for my buddy’s uncle’s boating company in Maine, carting tourists out to the ocean to sightsee and fish.
This job, though, bartending at the summer’s biggest music festival—this job I could get used to. Especially since I somehow managed to get moved into the VIP section. With the kind of tips I’m pulling in tonight, I just might start the first semester of my PhD with some money in the bank after my rent gets paid.
“View ain’t bad,” my friend Bodhi says, nudging my arm, and I know he doesn’t mean the view of the concert itself. The VIP section is set to the left and slightly behind the stage, giving us an obstructed sight of the band currently playing. But since few of the rich and beautiful people in this section seem very interested in watching the show, I guess it doesn’t matter much. Their focus seems to be socializing. Clumps of them are gathered around the swanky club seating, chatting and drinking. There are a few couples making out in the shadowy corners. A sizable group is dancing in the middle of the space—we might not be able to see the band back here, but the sound is amazing.
And that’s the view Bodhi is obviously talking about. The scantily dressed women shaking their asses just a few feet from our station.
“Maybe less ogling and more pouring,” I tell him, slapping a clean pint glass against his chest. “Guy at the end of the bar wants that IPA on tap.”
Bodhi fills the glass as requested, never once taking his eyes off the group of girls. “Leo, man, you can’t tell me you aren’t at all interested. Look at that redhead!”
I just shrug. The redhead is hot, definitely, but I’ve been too busy pouring drinks to pay much attention. The more drinks I pour, the more tips I bring home. And that’s the entire point of being here.
“Come on, man,” Bodhi presses. “I saw the way she was flirting with you when she came over for her appletini.”
“She wasn’t flirting.”
He snorts. “You’re really clueless, you know that? Maybe you’d be able to tell when a girl is into you if you weren’t so anti-social.”
There’s a lull at the bar so I grab a towel and start cleaning the counter. “First of all,” I tell him. “I do just fine with the ladies. And secondly, I’m not anti-social.”
“Right.” His eyes sparkle with amusement under the flashing lights from the stage. “You just hate people.”
“I like some people.” I toss the wet towel at him and he bats it away.
“It’s a damn short list, my friend.”
“Be careful,” I warn him. “Or I might just remove you from it.”
He snorts with laughter. “Yeah, right. You couldn’t get rid of me at this point if you tried.”
We both know he’s right, though God knows I did try when we first met. The last thing I thought I needed was a friend, but Bodhi’s tenacity—maybe obnoxiousness is a better word—eventually wore me down.
“She’s looking at you again,” Bodhi says, nudging my arm. “The redhead.”
Since there’s still no one waiting for a drink, I allow myself to follow his gaze to the group of dancing girls. It’s not that I would be opposed to a random hook-up tonight. The new school year is fast approaching, my first as a doctoral student, which means my life is going to get even busier than normal in a few short weeks. This could be my last chance for a night of fun in a while.
Assuming I can make my move without getting in the way of work. That has to be the priority. It’s always the priority.
I squint into the crowd, trying to find the redhead Bodhi won’t shut up about. But my eyes snag on someone else, a tall blonde chatting with a friend at the side of the dance floor, her back to me. She stands out from the crowd of girls in their club wear, her plain tank top and cut off shorts incongruous with the slinky, sparkly fabric clinging tightly to the other dancers.
Then she turns around.
Just like that, all the air goes out of me. Bodhi is saying something, but I don’t even hear him. I can’t focus on anything except for the sight of the woman standing still amongst the dancing crowd in front of me.
Skin. Miles and miles of golden, smooth skin fill my vision as the flashing overhead lights catch her. I have the strangest urge to reach out and touch her, to jump right over the bar and go to her.
I have zero clue why this stranger is so uniquely captivating to me. It’s like I physically can’t look away, and I have no idea why.
Maybe it’s her eyes. Even in the dim light of the VIP area I can see how blue they are. Or maybe it’s the masses of white blond waves that cascade down over golden shoulders and arms. Or it could be the shape of her, all smooth lines and perfect curves on a tall frame. Or maybe—
“Leo?” Bodhi says, and I startle. I’d completely forgotten that he was standing next to me, that we’re in the middle of our shift. Hell, I’d pretty much forgotten where I was entirely.
“Right,” I say, shaking my head a little to clear it.
My reaction is too late. Bodhi follows my line of sight and makes a surprised noise, his gaze snapping back to my face. “Dude.”
I grab some lemons so I can busy myself with prep work. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep my gaze on the knife in my hands. Every instinct in my body is begging me to find the blonde woman in the crowd.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you stare at a chick like that,” Bodhi says, his voice alarmingly giddy. He’s not going to drop this. “You should go talk to her.”
I actually consider taking the suggestion, which tells me how affected I am by this stranger. I would normally never think about ditching work for a woman, not even for a few minutes. But there’s something about those blue eyes…
Luckily, there’s a break in the music as the band on stage finishes their set, and the bar gets slammed immediately, preventing me from indulging in the nearly overwhelming desire to abandon my station to go talk to her.
I’m suddenly grateful that I spent so much time tending bar in the last few years. I can fill pints at the tap and mix most of these drinks in my sleep. It’s a damn good thing, because I can’t concentrate for shit right now. My attention keeps drifting back to the blonde woman. She’s still chatting with her friends in the exact same place I first noticed her.
God, she’s fucking gorgeous. The kind of beauty you usually only see in magazines or on a television screen. It’s almost hard to believe that she’s real.
She must catch the intensity of my continued gaze, because she glances up and meets my eyes, a pretty pink blush immediately coming to her cheeks. I’m struck with a strong rush of satisfaction. I like that I’m affecting her, even in this minor way.
Another customer slides up to the bar, cutting off my view of the woman. I rush to make his rum and Coke so he’ll get the hell out of my way and I can get back to ogling her. I’ve just handed the drink across the counter when Bodhi begins hissing in my ear. “Incoming!”
The guy in front of me finally moves, revealing ice blue eyes. Their impact is even more intense up close. A shy little smile plays around her lips. “Could I have a beer, please?”
Damn, I like the sound of her voice. It seems to fit her, the sound light and airy, almost like there’s something musical about it. I wonder what that voice would sound like whispering in my ear. I don’t realize she’s asked me for a drink until Bodhi nudges me. Shit. I blink several times, trying to break the spell of those mesmerizing eyes.
“Sorry, what’d you want?” My voice sounds all weird to my own ears, husky and low. Behind me, I can hear my supposed best friend wheezing with suppressed laughter. Asshole.
“A beer,” she repeats, a little louder, probably assuming my lack of service had something to do with the noise level in the area, and not the fact that I’m clearly struck dumb by her mere presence.
“Anything in particular?” At least my voice sounds a little more normal.
She glances up at the chalkboard menu over my head, giving me a chance to study her while she studies her options. Now that she’s standing right here, I can see that my initial impression of her beauty didn’t even come close. This chick has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen, and they’re huge, seeming to take up half her face. The rest of her features are delicate, her skin creamy and smooth even under the flashing neon lights. That mane of white-blond hair hangs thick and wavy around her shoulders and I have the strangest urge to reach out and touch it, to see if it feels as silky smooth around my fingers as it looks.
Then she directs her attention back to me and it’s everything I can do to stop gaping at her like a freaking creeper. “The chocolate stout sounds good.”
I bite back a groan. She’s this gorgeous and she likes good beer? I’m totally fucked.
“You got it,” I mutter. Just as I bend over the tap a chick with jet black hair joins her at the bar. “Rose!” she squeals, pulling on her arm. “He just asked for my number!”
Rose. It suits her, I think. Pretty name for a fucking gorgeous woman.
“Of course he did, Everly,” she says, her soft, musical voice somehow managing to be heard over all the noise. “You’re gorgeous and fun. He’d be crazy not to call you.”
The friend jumps up and down, doing a little dance, and Rose laughs, catching my eye. Her expression is a mix of fondness, amusement, and exasperation. I wonder who the girl—Everly—is to her. I wonder what they’re doing here. I wonder a lot of things about her, all of a sudden. I think I might want to know everything about her.
But for now, all I have is a name. No sooner do I hand her the pint does Everly pull her back over to the rest of their friends. I can’t help but stare after her, enjoying the view of her ass in those short jean shorts.
“Dude, put your tongue back in your mouth,” Bodhi says, sounding way too amused. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this.”
His continued chuckle is already grating on my nerves. “Your face is like…all soft and shit. Where’s the grumpy asshole I know and love?”
“My face isn’t—what—k” I splutter, caught off guard. “Shut the fuck up, Bodhi.”
He laughs harder. “There he is.” He points over at Rose and her friends. “Quick, look back at her.” When I automatically do, he practically howls with laughter. “See? Total heart eyes. Shit—I never thought I’d see the day.”
“Shut. Up.” I growl, casting a worried look at Rose.
“She can’t hear me,” he says easily. “But seriously—you’re obviously into this girl. Why didn’t you try to talk to her?”
“I talked to her,” I mumble, not liking the self-conscious feeling coursing through me at his teasing. I don’t embarrass easily, but I’m feeling pretty mixed up at the moment.
“You said two words to her!” he chides.
“Her friend came to get her.”
The dickhead actually stands up on his tiptoes to peer at the girls. “She’s pretty hot, too. I like the dark hair. Think she’d go for me?” He nudges me with a campy, overdone wink. “We could double date.”
His ridiculousness has the much needed effect of shaking me out of my stupor. “Okay, can we back to work now? The line is getting long.”
I can tell Bodhi doesn’t want to drop it—and I’ll for sure be hearing more about this later—but he thankfully starts filling orders. He knows how much I need the money from this gig. He might be obnoxious sometimes, but he would never fuck around with that.
I mix drinks and pour beer while the next band takes to the stage. I do my best to keep my attention on the task at hand, and not the gorgeous blonde a few feet away, but I know my eyes drift in her direction more often than they should. Several times I look over and meet her gaze. Is she trying to sneak glances at me too? It’s ridiculous how much that possibility makes my chest puff up.
About halfway through the set, she approaches the bar again, this time without her friends. They seem to be watching her go, giggling and whispering behind their hands.
“I’m assuming you want to take this one,” Bodhi mutters in a dry undertone, jerking his head towards the approaching goddess. I get a little distracted when she stops a few feet away to gather that mass of hair into a messy knot at the top of her head, showing off the long line of her elegant neck.
My mouth is dry by the time she reaches us. “Back again,” she says, that shy smile so damn cute I want to kiss it off her face.
“Hmm.” She rests her elbows on the counter, leaning forward a little, and I manage to only glance down at her newly revealed cleavage for a couple of seconds. “I think I want something lighter. It was good, but kind of heavy.”
It takes me a minute to realize I’m leaning towards her, my pose mimicking hers. I’m sure Bodhi will add this to the list of things to rag me about later, but I don’t really care. This girl is just too mesmerizing not to get closer.
“There’s a fruity brown ale on the menu,” I tell her, but she makes a face.
“Fruit does not belong in beer.”
I laugh. “Agreed. You want to try a mixed drink?”
She leans a little closer, her eyes sparkling. “Sure. What do you recommend?”
“What do you like?”
Every word out of my mouth seems heavy with double meaning. But she doesn’t seem put off by it. From the way she’s smiling, I’m pretty sure she’s considering flirting right back.
“Nothing too sweet.”
An image of all the not too sweet things I could do to her flashes through my mind, and I have to clear my suddenly graveled throat.
“How ‘bout I make a couple different things and you can try them out?”
Her eyes light up at that, making me feel like the king of the fucking bar or something. “That sounds fun.”
I ignore Bodhi’s gleeful glances as I pull the ingredients I need, moving quickly so I can get back to her. Another one of those shy smiles has my heart rate speeding up as I arrange my supplies on the counter in front of her.
“How can you remember all these different drinks?” she asks, watching my hands while I work.
“Lots of practice.”
“You’ve been bartending for long?”
I shrug. “On and off over the years. It’s a pretty decent gig while I’m in school, because I can pick up lots of hours on the weekend.”
Again, her face lights up. She’s so damn expressive. “I’m in school too.”
My stomach clenches as I look her over. She’s got an over-21 tag on her VIP access bracelet, so I didn’t ask for ID when I got her beer. I hope she’s actually legit, and not some freshman who snuck back here or something.
“Senior?” I ask hopefully.
She grins, and I get the sense she knows exactly what I’m suddenly worried about. “Grad school, actually. First year in September.”
I relax. “Me too. Well, not a first year. I just finished my master’s and I’m starting my doctorate in the fall.”
She sits up straighter, obvious interest in her expression. “Really? Where are you—”
The rest of her question is cut off when Bodhi clears his throat next to me. “Sorry, man.” He sounds genuinely regretful to interrupt us. “This chick is asking for a Lemon Drop and I’ve never made one.”
Since that’s one of the drinks I’d planned to make Rose, I have all the shit I need right in front of me and I get to work. “Hey,” Bodhi says to Rose in what I’m sure he thinks is his most charming voice. “How’s it going?”
“Good. You guys are pretty busy, huh?”
“Only for a little while longer,” he says. “Once the big guns get up on stage, no one will be worrying much about their drinks.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see Rose stiffen, but then Bodhi leans over the counter, his hand outstretched. “I’m Bodhi.”
“Rose,” she says.
He smacks my back. “I’m assuming you’ve met my friend Leo.”
“Dude.” He sounds aghast. “You didn’t even tell her your name?”
“I was getting there,” I mutter.
He rolls his eyes. “You really need to work on your game.”
Rose laughs, holding out her hand. “Rose.” I wrap her soft, small hand in mine, giving it a squeeze, trying to ignore the electricity that buzzes through me at her touch. The sudden yearning I feel to touch a hell of a lot more of her.
Rose meets my gaze, her eyes matching the intensity I’m sure is mirrored in mine. “His game is just fine,” she murmurs.
Jesus. I’ve never in my life had this kind of a reaction to a complete stranger. Where in the hell did this girl come from?
I hand Bodhi the drink for his customer without looking at him, my eyes still locked on Rose’s. “Okaaaayy, then,” he says, his tone amused. “I’m just gonna…leave the two of you to…talk.”
I barely notice him walking away. “You ready for this?” I ask her, pointing at the drinks in front of me.
She sits up straighter, looking excited. “Hit me.”
I slide the first glass across the counter. “We’re starting pretty safe here, Rose.” Rose. Fuck do I like the way her name feels on my tongue. “This is a Lemon Drop. Vodka, lemon juice, and simple sugar.”
She brings the glass to her lips and I get majorly distracted watching her mouth. “That’s pretty good.”
“It’s refreshing, right?”
She nods, wiping her mouth. “Definitely.” She gives me that breathtaking smile. “Still a little too sweet for me.”
I slide over the next drink, a Manhattan. “This is pretty much the opposite of sweet.”
She takes a sip and immediately flinches. “Oh, God. I hate it.”
I laugh, taking the glass back. “Tell me how you really feel.”
She gives me a sheepish smile. “I’m sure you prepared it just right, I’m not like, doubting your bartending skills.” Then she surprises me by reaching over to place her hand over mine. Once again, those buzzy sparks go crazy on my skin. “But please don’t make me drink that ever again.”
I force out a chuckle, even as my heart beat goes into overdrive. I’m pretty sure I would give this girl anything she ever asked for so long as she added that breathy little please into the mix.
“Ready for attempt three?”
She smacks her palms against the counter. “Let’s do it.”
“This is a hurricane. Rum, passion fruit, lemon juice.”
“Oh my God,” she says, pushing the glass away and wiping at her mouth. “You said you weren’t doing sweet!”
I have to laugh at the outrage in her expression. “Sorry, I just wanted to make sure. Sometimes girls say they don’t like girly drinks but really…”
Her eyes narrow. “Are you saying you don’t trust me to know my own preferences because I’m a girl?”
I hold my hands up. “No. Definitely not saying that.”
Her eyes remain angry little slits. “Good. Because saying something that misogynistic is a surefire way to get your testicles punctured with a stiletto heel.”
My eyes widen. “That’s an awfully specific threat.”
She shrugs, smirking a bit. “I have three brothers.”
I laugh and it hits me how much fun I’m having, just talking to her. This doesn’t usually happen, at least not to me. Bodhi hadn’t been entirely wrong when he called me anti-social. It’s not that I hate people—I just don’t always have the easiest time relating to them.
That doesn’t seem to be a problem with Rose, though. And I like that a whole lot more than I want to admit.
She gives me a stern glare across the counter. “Now give me a good one.”
I grin. “Okay, I think this might be it. This is called a gin fizz. It’s a little old school, but I think it’s a classic.”
She takes a sip, her eyes widening. Then she takes another, the softest little moan escaping around the glass. It’s everything I can do not to rip the drink away from her mouth and replace it with my lips.
“Leo, this is good.” Her eyes are wide, excited, and it occurs to me that’s the first time she said my name. I like it. A lot. She takes another sip. “Yeah. I think this might be my drink.”
I nod seriously. “Having a signature drink is an important part of adulthood.”
Rose raises an eyebrow. “What’s yours?”
She bursts out laughing. “The one I hated so much?”
I shrug. “Guess your palette isn’t quite so refined as mine.”
She rolls her eyes, but she’s grinning, the beauty of that smile making the rest of the room go a little fuzzy. This girl is like liquid sunshine. And I just want to get closer to her warmth.
I need to ask for her number. Or ask her to meet me after the concert. Or to run away with me. I don’t even know, I just know I need something more, something big. Something only Rose can give me.
Just when I’m about to embarrass the hell out of myself by voicing any of that, a hand comes down on her shoulder, making her jump.
But this time, it isn’t the overly-excited black-haired friend. This time, it’s a man.
A very, very famous man.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he says, smiling down at her. “I thought you were coming back stage.”
Rose’s entire body has gone still. Her blue eyes shoot back to mine, somehow even wider than they’d been before. “Um, I guess I lost track of the time.”
He grins at her. “Let me guess—dancing with your cousins?”
The man’s laugh sounds a lot like hers. But not nearly so similar as his eyes, which are also an icy-blue. Or his white blond hair.
Rose makes a strangled sound that might be a laugh. “Yup. Pretty much.”
“Well come say hi to your uncles before we go on stage. You know how they get about their good luck charm.”
This time when she laughs, it sounds a lot more normal. “Tell them they’re ridiculous.”
He squeezes her shoulder. “Tell them yourself. I don’t want to put up with their grumpy asses if they don’t get their hugs before the show.”
Rose shoots me a worried glance. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
The guy finally seems to notice that she was talking to someone, and his eyes, so much like the ones I’ve been gazing into all night, snap to me, suspicion suddenly lining his face.
He doesn’t say anything though. Just gives her shoulder another squeeze before walking away, half the room stopping what they’re doing to watch him pass.
I guess that’s the kind of reaction you get when you’re Daltrey Ransome, arguably the most famous singer in the world.
Rose isn’t meeting my gaze anymore. “Sorry about that,” she murmurs. “My, um, Dad. I promised I’d go back stage before their set.”
Her dad. Daltrey Ransome is her dad. And she promised she’d go backstage before their set. Before Ransom’s set. Holy shit.
I suddenly remember the way she had seemed to stiffen when Bodhi mentioned the “big guns” taking the stage. He’d been referring to them, of course. To Ransom. The festival’s headliner.
Rose’s family, apparently.
“Uh, right,” I manage to say, my voice practically unrecognizable.
Rose gives me a smile—a sad, shaky little smile—and holds up the last drink. “Thank you for this,” she says.
Her face seems to crumple, just for a second, but then she straightens her shoulders, expression flattening as she pulls some bills out of her pocket.
“No,” I say, my voice too sharp. But something about her offering to give me money for the minutes we just spent together has my hackles rising. “It’s not necessary,” I manage in a softer tone. “Drinks are free in the VIP section.”
“I want to leave you a tip,” she says softly.
I grit my teeth. “It’s really not necessary.”
But she slips a bill into the jar in front of me all the same. “Thank you, Leo.” Even though her tone is soft, her expression remains blank. Completely different from the bright, shining smile she’d worn before.
Then she’s turning to follow the path Daltrey Ransome just took backstage.
I turn to see Bodhi standing at my side, mouth gaped open, eyes wide. “Was that…”
“Daltrey Ransome,” I mutter. Rose’s father.
“Seriously? The Daltrey Ransome?”
“Why is that so surprising?” I snap. “He’s performing in less than an hour.”
“Yeah, but he was standing right there. Breathing the same air. You talked to him.”
I hadn’t talked to him, but I don’t bother correcting Bodhi. “I need to go grab another case of the Stella,” I mutter. “The line will get long before the headliner goes on.”
He nods, mouth hanging open, and I can tell he’s still reeling with excitement at the up-close celebrity sighting we just experienced.
Excitement is the last thing I’m feeling.
I’d had every intention of leaving tonight with Rose’s phone number. I still thought Bodhi was full of shit—no way did I have heart eyes, whatever the fuck that means—but it would be pointless to say I wasn’t attracted to this girl. That there wasn’t something about her that drew me closer in a way I hadn’t ever felt before. There had been a spark there, damn it, and I’d already been planning the best way to convince her that she should spend time with me after my shift was over.
She’s a member of rock and roll royalty, for fuck’s sake. Her dad is the lead singer of Ransom. Which means he’s also one of the co-owners of their hugely successful music label. No one has produced more top-selling artists in the last decade than Six Man Band Records.
All of that adds up to one thing—Rose’s family is completely loaded. Loaded and famous and beloved by just about every rock music fan in the country. I can’t even imagine what her life must be like. Glamorous and exciting, I’m sure. The polar opposite of mine.
Rose is the kind of girl who hangs out in the VIP section. And I’m the kind of guy who gets paid to make drinks for rich girls like her and crosses his fingers for a tip at the end.
I bring the case of Stella back to the bar and see that, just as I predicted, the line is growing long again. I’m grateful for the distraction of the work, grateful to have something to do with my hands.
Even before Ransom takes the stage to thunderous applause, I know I’m not asking for Rose’s number. What I don’t understand is why that bothers me so much. She’s hot, sure, but it’s not like I even know this girl.
What I do know is that she’s completely and totally out of my league. And that upsets me more than I’ll ever admit.
I’ve been hinting about this for a while and now I get to officially share the news here: I have a new series coming out! And not just any series–this one is super exciting for me because I get to revisit my favorite characters. That’s right, the Ransom gang is getting a new series! These new books are all about the next generation of Ransome kids, who are all grown up now and navigating the world as the off-spring of the most famous family in rock music. I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to write these books and I’m so excited to share them with you!
To help the time pass more quickly while we wait, I’m going to be hosting a Ransom book club!The Ransom book club will run for the next seven weeks. Each week we’ll read one of the novels from the original series and talk about ’em! Plus I’ll be sharing sneak peeks, exclusive content, and a couple contests. Want in on the fun? Come and join us! We’ll be getting started on Monday, June 22nd.
Hey everyone! I hope you’re all having a great 2019 so far! My year has been BUSY. I bought a new house at the very beginning of January and it’s been tons of work getting it ready. But I have my office all set up and ready to go so at least I have a place to write!
And I have been writing! In fact I have a new book coming out on March 18th and you can pre-order it on Amazon now! Layla: An Intrigue Novel, is the 2nd book in this new series. If you haven’t read the first Intrigue book, it’s a spin-off from the Ransom series, and the whole gang makes several appearances. In fact, one of my favorite Ransom brother moments happens in the first Intrigue book. So if you’re missing those boys, this would be a good one to pick up 😉
To celebrate the pre-order, I’m making book one, Lance, 99 cents for a limited time. I rarely do 99 cent sales so this is a great opportunity to get started on a new series! I really hope you’ll check it out!
You can pick up this brand new Ransom story at all the major ebook vendors! A Ransom Christmas is a holiday novella about the entire Ransom gang and what happens after the events of The Ransome Brothers. There’s lots of typical Ransom silliness, brotherly drama, and plenty of Christmas fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Pretty much as soon as I finished writing The Ransome Brothers, I knew I wanted to do a Christmas story with the boys. I was really happy with the way their stories wrapped up in that book, but I also was super bummed out that I had to cut certain things just because the darn thing was getting SO. FREAKING. LONG. I have a very clear picture in my mind about the way a few things are going to go for the Ransom gang (hint: there might just be some more babies and weddings to look forward to) but there was just no way to fit it all into one book.
Also, Christmas is my very favorite holiday. You know the scene in Reed’s book where Paige drags them to that Christmas store? Yeah, that store is totally real and I go there multiple times a year because I LOVE IT. So I thought it would be really fun to give you a little glimpse of how the Ransome boys spend Christmas now that they’re all partnered up with their girls.
Bonus: there’s a Levi scene that makes me soooo happy! I didn’t get to include nearly enough Levi in the last book (again, longest book ever!) and I really wanted to give him and Karen a fitting happy ending. I can’t wait for you to read it!
You can pre-order A Ransom Christmas on Amazon right now! It will be available everywhere else on Monday, October 22nd. The book is about half the length of a normal Ransom novel and it’s filled to the brim with Christmas fun. I hope you’ll spend your holidays with my favorite rock star brothers!
Working on the sixth Ransom book was truly one of the best writing experiences of my life. Which is really surprising to me, considering how things were going before I started it.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might know that this book was originally supposed to come out more than a year ago. But sometime after releasing Lennon’s book, I started to have a really hard time with my writing. I don’t know if it was writer’s block or feeling burned out or if my anxiety was getting worse, or what. All I know is that it got a lotharder to write. Over a two year stretch I wrote four books, which is way below my normal output (I usually publish at least five books a year). I thought about starting The Ransome Brothersall the time, but it seemed like an impossible task. This series means so much to me, and I’ve been planning this book for years. I felt a lot of pressure to get it right and the thought of even starting it scared the hell out of me.
Several months ago, I decided I would read the rest of the series just to see how I felt about it—and man am I ever glad I did! Reading those books again, for the first time in ages, felt like hanging out with old friends. I realized that I knowthese characters, that I understand them and get what makes them tick. I remembered how much I freaking love writing about these brothers and their girls. For the first time in months and months I was excited to write again.
When I sat down to get started, writing felt easier than it had in years. This is the longest book I’ve ever written, and it was also one of the fastest. The words came easily and I finished it in record time (unfortunately this fast writing meant the editing process was crazy long and difficult, but oh well. Totally worth it!) Even better, it was fun—and writing hadn’t been fun for me in a long time. Even better than that, I love how the book turned out! That’s such an important thing for me as a writer. Of course I want the readers to enjoy it too, but so long as I really feel like I wrote what I wanted the way I wanted, I’ll always feel good about the book.
So before the book comes out tomorrow (tomorrow! Eek!) I wanted to give a shout out to my Ransome boys, and thank them for helping me to get back to the thing I most love to do in the world. And to thank all of you, too, for your patience and for encouraging me! And for being excited about this series and this book—I’m so happy to finally share it with you. You’re the best readers a girl could ask for!
Since we’re getting so close to release date, I thought I’d give you guys a little sneak peek of what I’ve been working on. This is the second chapter in book 6 of the Ransom series, The Ransome Brothers. Enjoy!
I sit alone at the bar, drinking a beer, more than two thousand miles from my boys, watching them on television.
Reed is off, I think, tilting my head toward the screen as if that might help me to hear better over the noise of the bar. Yeah, definitely off. Not much, barely noticeable to most people. But I’m not most people. And I always notice that kind of thing.
I squint at the screen, trying to get a clear view of my oldest son, but the camera is focused on Daltrey at the piano. He looks pissed, I think. In fact, they all look pretty pissed. Cash is scowling, Lennon’s head is bent over his bass, his hair covering his eyes, and Daltrey has that flat expression on his face that says he would rather be anywhere else. And Reed…I don’t really want to think about how Reed looks right now as he subjects his drum kit to the frustration and anger I know he’s feeling.
Levi, the tour manager, is in New York with the band tonight, and probably knows what’s wrong with them, why they all seem like they’d rather be at a funeral than up there playing. I sigh, flexing my fingers against the bar so I don’t reach for my phone. I’m not supposed to be calling Levi. I’m supposed to be giving them space.
“Oh, I love this band,” a girl says, sliding up onto a stool further down the bar. “Aren’t they amazing?”
Her friend nods eagerly as she joins her. “So amazing. And gorgeous. Just look at Daltrey.”
“I’m more of a Cash girl myself,” the first girl giggles. “Those arms.”
They both sit quietly for a moment, watching. “They sound great,” the second one says. “Hey, didn’t you see them live last year?”
“Best concert ever,” the first girl says. She gestures at the TV screen. “I mean, listen to them. They’re crazy good live.”
I shake my head. It’s always hard for me to remember that the things I pick up on aren’t necessarily obvious to everyone else. I look at those boys and can read every emotion on their faces. Can hear every minor mistake they make. The average fan just sees a great band playing one of their hits.
“Need another beer?”
“Sure, thanks.” I slide my empty bottle across the bar, still not taking my eyes off the screen. They’re nearing the bridge and Cash had been having trouble with it the entire time we were in Europe.
“You must be a pretty big fan,” the bartender says as she places another Heineken in front of me. “You’ve barely blinked.”
I snort. Big fan. Yeah, you could say that.
My phone rings in my pocket and I grab it, eyes still glued to the TV. “Will,” I say.
“You’re watching?” Levi asks, and I exhale in relief. We had decided it would be better if I gave the boys some distance, but Levi must know it’s driving me crazy.
“Yeah. They sound good.”
“Yeah.” Levi’s quiet for a moment. “Reed’s off.”
“I didn’t want to mention it.”
Levi chuckles. “Not much point in me telling them. No performances on the horizon.” He clears his throat. “So we’re heading right to the airport from here. Anything you want them to know before they go their separate ways?”
I try to push away the stab of pain that comes with his words. It’s bad enough that I need someone else to keep me up to date on the comings and goings of my own kids, but it’s even worse that I need to rely on Levi to pass along information to them.
My sons aren’t taking my calls.
I can tell from Levi’s tone that the younger man is feeling sorry for me. Up on the TV, the camera zooms in on Daltrey’s hands.
“What’s Dalt’s problem?” I ask, unable to help myself. “Reed and Lennon being pissed off, I get…”
“Daisy stayed in Nashville with the baby,” Levi says. “It’s the first time he’s left them. He wasn’t thrilled about it.”
There’s another stab, this one deeper. “And Cash?”
“I think Cash is just annoyed that the rest of them are being pissy.”
“Any fights lately?”
Levi snorts. “Not any more than usual.”
“Just keep them from killing each other, Levi.”
“I always do.” He clears his throat again. “So…anything to pass along?”
“Just remind them of the conference call coming up.”
“Sure.” He’s quiet for a long moment. Up on the screen the boys are finishing up. “You gonna be on that call?”
I release the breath I’ve been holding. “I guess we’ll play that by ear.” I watch as they leave their instruments, gathering in the center of the stage to take their bows, arms around each other’s shoulders, the way they finish every performance. “Thanks for checking in, Levi. You have a good week off.”
“Will do.” He pauses. “Try to relax, okay, Will? You could use it.”
“Sure.” It’s a bullshit answer. Relaxing has never been something I’m particularly good at, and Levi knows it. “Safe flight, Son.”
“Talk to you soon.”
I end the call, slipping the phone back into my pocket. The TV is on a commercial now. I look down at my bottle. I should have gone for something stronger.
As if reading my mind, the bartender appears in front of me. “You made fast work of that one,” she says, reaching for my bottle. “Another?”
“I’ll take a whiskey. Neat. Glenfiddich if you have it.”
She makes a scathing noise in the back of her throat. “Take a look around, buddy. Do you think this is the kind of place that carries Glenfiddich? You can have Jack Daniels.”
Something in her wry tone has me looking up, really taking her in for the first time. It’s hard to tell in the dim light of the bar, but I think she might be about my age. So it’s a little surprising to notice the small silver hoop in her nose. She wears her hair in a short pixie cut—it suits her heart-shaped face. Tight jeans and a bright purple tank top show off her curves and I’m surprised to feel a rush of attraction. It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced that particular emotion. One of many things I just don’t have much time for.
She crosses her arms now, eyebrows raised. “So did you want the Jack Daniels or did you want to stare at me some more?”
Embarrassed, I straighten on the stool. “Jack would be great. Straight up.”
She taps the bar top with her palms. “Coming right up.”
I try not to watch her walk away—really, what’s the point? I have much bigger things to worry about at the moment. It’s difficult though. There’s something about the way she walks that makes me want to keep looking.
“Not bad,” a familiar voice says. I don’t bother to turn my head as Lee Lamar slides up onto the stool next to me. From the tone of his voice, I’m pretty sure my friend is also checking out the waitress. “Think she’d go for me?”
Annoyance prickles at me. “Not even for a minute.”
“You have no faith in me, old man.”
I finally turn to face Lee. “You’re late.”
“Couldn’t find the place.” Lee looks around the bar, his nose crinkling in distaste. “This is where you wanted to meet?”
I guess I can see where Lee is coming from. The Purple Cat does seem a little…odd. Though it definitely has a beachy vibe to it, little about the place fits in with the sleek Malibu neighborhood where it’s located. With its teak furniture, the turquoise and pink paint, bright paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and garish colored tin flamingos and dolphins hanging on the walls, it feels more like a kitschy Florida beach bar, the kind of place in which you might expect to hear an overabundance of Jimmy Buffett blaring from the speakers.
“It’s half a block from my condo,” I point out.
“Well, I guess if they have cold beer I’m not complaining.” Lee grins as the waitress approaches again, my drink in her hand. “Hey, gorgeous. How’re you doing tonight?”
She settles a flat expression on him. “Pretty tired, actually,” she says, sliding me my whiskey. “I’ve been busy castrating all the slime ball creeps who think they can hit on me.”
I snort as Lee’s eyes go wide with surprise and something that looks a lot like fear. This lady is definitely more than he bargained for.
“Please ignore him,” I tell the waitress. “They don’t usually let him out of the zoo.”
She shoots me a quick smile before turning back to Lee and it’s almost as if the room tilts, suddenly. Damn. That’s some smile. “What are you drinking, zoo boy?”
“Miller,” he mumbles.
“I’ve got Bud,” she says, already moving off to get the beer, not bothering to wait for him to agree.
“I like her,” Lee says under his breath. “Why do I always like the ones who are mean to me?”
“Because you subconsciously feel guilty for the way you treat women and you think you should be punished?” I suggest.
Lee makes a face at me. “God, you’re probably right. Still, she’s pretty hot…”
His voice trails off as the waitress returns, and I smirk. Lee is obviously afraid of her. And as I let my eyes settle on her no-nonsense expression, I can’t really blame him.
“You guys want food?” she asks, leaning against the bar, her hip jutting out to her side. I struggle to keep my eyes off that curve. “Burgers here are pretty good.”
“Burgers would be great,” I say, picking up my drink as I slide off the stool. I nod towards one of the booths at the back of the room. We’re going to need some privacy for this conversation. And I’m starting to think I could use some space from the increasingly distracting waitress. “We’ll be back there.”
“Gill,” she bellows over her shoulder. “Two burgers and fries.”
“You got any turkey burgers?” Lee asks, patting his stomach. “Trying to watch the old figure.” The waitress crosses her arms, looking at him, and Lee clears his throat. “Or, you know, whatever you have will be fine.”
“They’ll be out in a minute,” she says, turning away to wipe the counter. I’m still laughing at him when we reach the booth.
“I like her too,” I tell my friend. “I like how she doesn’t take your shit.”
“Whatever,” Lee says, sliding into the booth. “You want to hear this or not?”
I take a long drink of my whiskey, having the feeling I’m going to need it. “I want to hear it.”
Lee leans across the table, his face uncharacteristically grim. “They’re not happy.”
I scowl. “Shit, Lee, I knew that.”
Lee holds my gaze. “I think you guys need to lawyer up, Will.”
My stomach sinks. I’d been hoping it wouldn’t come to that. “Tell me.”
So my old friend—and inside source at the band’s record label—lays it out for me. The suits are pissed, and rightly so. They’re out a ton of money on the canceled world tour, and the band’s refusal to even talk about rescheduling is not helping to soothe the anger.
“They understood about altering the schedule after Lennon’s accident,” Lee says, not meeting my eye. There’s a pang in my chest at the word accident, like always, but I push it aside. I can’t let myself go down that road right now. “They felt like the limited Europe tour was a good compromise at the time. But the plan was always to get on the road for a full tour after that. And now they’re not hearing anything from your end…they’re talking about protecting their investment. And that means lawyers and contract fights and all that nasty stuff.”
I release a breath, leaning back in the booth. I obviously knew the label was upset—Ransom is currently in breach of contract, and everyone takes that shit pretty seriously. But I’d hoped that between me and Lee we’d be able to hold them off for the foreseeable future. At least until things are more settled.
“I’m assuming,” Lee says, his tone cautious, “that you guys haven’t discussed touring lately?”
I could have laughed. The thought of approaching the band with plans for a tour is ridiculous. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be getting out of that particular meeting without broken bones.
“I’ll take that as a no,” Lee says, watching my face. “Do the boys even know anything about this?”
“No,” I say sharply. “And I want to keep it that way. They have…there’s enough on their plates right now, okay?”
Lee is quiet for a moment. He doesn’t know all the details of what happened with the Ransome family over the last few months, but he knows enough not to push. “Look, there’s one thing I can think of that might pacify them,” he says, and from his expression I can tell that I’m not going to like hearing whatever he has to say.
The waitress appears at our table then, two plates in her hand, and Lee beams up at her with what he clearly thinks is an enticing grin. “He doesn’t give up, does he?” she asks me, setting our plates down.
“Hardly ever,” I say, surprised to find that I’m smiling at her in spite of the way my stomach is still churning from the contract talk. “It’s kind of sad, really.”
“Pathetic,” she agrees. “You guys need anything else?”
She nods once and heads back to the bar, both of us watching as she walks away. I manage to pull my attention away first, snapping my fingers in front of Lee’s eyes. “You were saying?”
Lee shakes his head, as if trying to clear it—there really is something about that waitress—and reaches for his burger. “Tommy was floating the idea of a residency.”
“What?” Half the patrons in the bar turn to us at the sound of my outraged cry.
Lee rolls his eyes. “Just listen.”
“They’re not doing a residency,” I snap. “What the hell, Lee? You think I’m going to let them end up in some Vegas dive like a bunch of washed up lounge singers?”
“No one said anything about Vegas,” Lee says calmly. “Though I should point out that entire scene has changed, Will. These pop stars that have set up shop down there are top of the game, you know? We’re talking tens of millions of dollars. Britney Spears, Lady Gaga—”
“Ransom aren’t pop stars,” I growl.
Lee holds up his hand. “Fine. But, again, we’re not talking Vegas. I’m just saying, residency is a viable option for top-tier talent. Springsteen is doing several months in New York, you know. And Billy Joel is doing the same at Madison Square Garden. We’re talking dozens of shows.”
I rub my chin. “Would it have to be New York?”
“Not necessarily. LA would probably be an option. Couple years ago Prince set up at the Forum for twenty-one shows. The band becomes the destination, you know? And Ransom has the pull to fill a stadium for an extended run.” Lee’s eyes drift down to the table. “Either way, there’s talk about tying it into a special.”
“We’ve recorded concerts before,” I point out.
Lee still doesn’t meet my eyes. “They were thinking some behind-the-scenes stuff—”
“No reality show,” I bark.
“Not a reality show,” Lee says quickly. “More like…a documentary. A full on Ransom special. This could be big bucks, Will. That would appease the label. They have some interest from HBO and Netflix…”
I give him a sharp look. “They’re that far ahead in the planning and they haven’t talked to me yet?”
Lee sighs. “They’re talking to you now. I didn’t come here out of the goodness of my heart, buddy.”
I shake my head. “They sent you.”
Lee offers a weak smile. “Sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. I wanted to get a sense of where you were before you put on that dealing-with-the-label front you’re so good at.”
I suppose I can’t blame the guy. I have a reputation as a hard-ass when it comes to this stuff. But it’s always been my job to stand up for my kids, to get the best for them. And that’s stillmy job, even now. Even if none of them want to talk to me.
I release a sigh, rubbing at my forehead. I always seem to have a headache lately. “Just talk to them,” Lee says. “They’re smart boys. You know they don’t wantto be in breach of contract.”
They don’t even know they are, I think.
Lee’s still talking. “This would get them off the hook and still let them be settled somewhere, right? Isn’t that what this is all about? You told me they needed a little consistency.”
“I said they needed a break.”
Lee shrugs. “A string of concerts in the same place sounds like a break to me. They won’t have to be on a bus. No airplanes. They can sleep in the same bed every night, get to know one city. Doesn’t seem too bad.”
There was a time when the boys probably would have jumped at the chance to perform in one place for an extended period of time. But that was before everything got so fucked up. Now I don’t know if they’ll be willing to play a single show. Just look at their TV performance tonight—they’re pissed and they’re tired and playing music is the last thing on any of their minds.
“Will.” Lee sets down his burger. “Tell them what’s going on. See what they say.” He waits until I make eye contact. “But you should do it soon, because the big guys are going to want to bring it up during the conference call.”
I release a breath. Less than two weeks. Great. Plenty of time to get my kids to forgive me for lying to them about their mother for their entire lives and putting their brother’s life in danger. Sure.
“I will,” I tell Lee.
He seems more relieved than I would have thought and I wonder just how angry the label actually is. We both turn our attention to our burgers, not talking while we eat. I have no clue how I’m going to get my boys in the same room as me. Lennon will be the easiest, I figure. Maybe Daltrey, too. But I have a feeling Reed will flat out refuse.
Maybe I can get Levi to talk to them, I think bitterly.
“Hey,” Lee says suddenly, dropping his burger. “I totally forgot to ask—how’s the baby, gramps?”
I look up to see the waitress returning with fresh drinks, one eyebrow raised, a smirk on her face. I’m not sure if I should be annoyed at Lee for letting that detail fly in front of the very attractive woman—or if I should be grateful that she’s chosen this moment to approach. Because now maybe I won’t have to admit to my old friend that I haven’t seen my granddaughter since she went home from the hospital.
“This old man?” Lee asks, grinning at her. “Of course he’s a grandfather. He whittles wood on the front porch and yells at the kids to keep it down and everything.”
The waitress hands me my drink, meeting my gaze as she smiles. “Funny. I wouldn’t say you look anywhere near old enough to be a grandfather.”
There’s something in her tone, something almost flirtatious, that I find I like very much. Even more than I like the sullen expression on Lee’s face—he still isn’t on her good side.
“The baby is only a few months old,” I tell her.
She puts her hands on her hips. “Well? Do I get to see this baby or not?”
I grab my phone from my pocket, pulling up a close-up photo of Rose in the hospital, trying not to think about how long ago that was. The waitress leans over my shoulder to look and I catch a whiff of her perfume, something flowery, almost delicate, the last thing I would have expected from this take-no-prisoners chick. Somehow that makes me like it even more.
“Aww,” she says, looking down at the picture. “What a sweetie. Name?”
She looks over at me, her face very close in this position, and narrows her eyes a little. “I can see the resemblance, gramps.”
I’m finding it kind of hard to breathe with her this close, and I wonder what in the hell is wrong with me. I’m way too old to be getting breathless over a woman.
“Look at that hair,” she’s looking at the photo again. “Babies don’t usually have so much, you know.”
My eyes go back to the photo, that familiar stab of pain shooting through my chest. “She looks like her dad,” I murmur. “He had the exact same hair when he was a baby.” I can still see Daltrey the day he was born, the image burned into my brain. That shock of white hair, so much like Reed’s. I’d brought all the boys up to the hospital to see their little brother, lining them up in a love seat, placing the baby in Reed’s arms. Daltrey had cried, tiny Lennon covering his ears, while Reed sat stock-still, like he was afraid to move. Cash just looked bored.
“Looks like you’ve got a lot to be proud of,” Ruby says. And then she’s placing her hand on my shoulder, the pressure soft and gentle, and I have the strangest thought that she could somehow hear the pain in my words.
“Yeah,” I mumble, putting the phone back in my pocket while she straightens.
“Better get back to it,” she says. “Enjoy the rest of your food.”
As she leaves, I sense Lee’s eyes on me. “You okay?”
“Fine,” I say, reaching for my burger.
“It’s fine. Look, I’ll talk to the boys, okay? I’m not promising they’ll go for it, but I’ll talk to them.”
Lee grins as he grabs the last fry off my plate. “You’ve always been able to convince those boys of anything.”
And that,I think morosely, no longer at all hungry, is exactly the problem.