|LAUNCH PARTY! WHOO HOO!|
CAUGHT BY A CLOWN!
Hi. We’re thrilled you joined us. Would you like a glass of champagne or a mug of hot chocolate laced with Peppermint Schnapps? We’re about to toast the release of Sandra’s romantic suspense novel, CAUGHT BY A CLOWN. Accompanying Sandra today are her two main characters, journalist Stacie Monroe and FBI Special Agent David Graham.
“I want to hear how she came up with the title,” one of our guests calls out.
“I want to know why she set it in a nudist camp,” another demands.
|Sandra Crowley, Author|
“Who are your main characters? Are they nudists?”
Stacie Monroe steps forward. “May I answer that, Sandra?”
“Of course, you may. It is your story.”
A murmur of agreement ripples through the party members.
Stacie smiles. “I arrived at Resort to Nature on a mission of mercy. But, instead of pursuing my quest, I found its owner facing a desperate situation of his own. Mr. Boone‘s receptionist had been out with the flu for days. Phone calls had piled up. Guests were threatening to leave. He needed help. Helping him might help me. It turned out that I only stayed for a day, but what a memorable day!”
The tissue box on her desk shifted. Stacie kept her gaze on the colorful page filling her screen while the tropical scent of sunscreen blended with the faint tang of a citrus and spice after-shave lotion. Oh no, another dangling dandy hung too close for comfort.
A long, slow rasp warned her someone was easing a tissue upward. With a sideways glance, she spotted a man’s blunt, tanned fingers spreading the blue tissue to its widest, highest extent, yet leave it anchored in the box. This man cloaked in secrecy what others at the resort openly displayed. She assessed thick wrists and an athletic build that registered in her drool range. Stacie sat straighter and focused on his hands. No ring bound his finger. No pale circlet of skin betrayed the recent removal of one. Looking up, she saw a square jaw shadowed by dark blond stubble. Thick lashes fringed gray eyes. He wore his blond hair long and pulled back, the complete opposite to her riot of short black curls.
“He can’t be David Graham. I am. Always have been.”
Snapping back to reality, Stacie realized the new hero of her dreams thought her guess about Alan changing identity was wrong. She agreed with him. Seeing David Graham in the flesh, yummy hunky flesh, proved he looked nothing like Alan Walsh.
“Why do you think he’s me?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Concerned she’d upset a legitimate member, she introduced herself and offered a warm smile.
“What does this Alan Walsh look like, Stacie?”
A distinct tan line slashed low across the man’s abdomen, dividing sun-gilded skin from virgin white. A faint alarm sounded in her mind.
“Maybe I’ve seen him and could point you in his direction.”
His fidgeting hands and taut body mirrored her reaction to public exposure. Stacie relaxed. She would have signed using a fake address and name if she’d come as a guest. He probably thought helping her would ease him into this new and daunting experience.
“Alan has cinnamon brown hair. Styled, not cut. The hundred dollar appointment kind instead of the twelve dollar walk-in type.”
Graham’s attention remained intent without a hint of reaction.
“He’s five, maybe seven years younger that your...thirty-three?”
Graham shifted his weight from one foot to the other, but he stayed silent.
“Shorter by several inches than your...what...six-three or four...?”
A tight smile pulled his firm lips. “Some people think I throw a long shadow.”
She figured they should be more worried about the heavy muscles that slabbed his arms, shoulders, and chest. “Where you’re built like a weight-lifter, Alan’s a long distance runner.”
“I know the type.”
David Graham’s flat comment implied it fit Alan’s personality as neatly as it did his body. Goose bumps prickled Stacie’s arms for the second time that day.
She looked at him without attraction fogging her senses. What was an intensely private man doing in a nudist resort? One possibility chilled her. Mick Caputo had sent him.
“Stacie, I love your tattoo.” I resist the urge to lean closer and examine the little clown face with the corkscrew heart hair that decorated the slope of her left breast.
“My family deplores it. Mother says it’s epitomizes my faults.”
“Her mother is wrong,” David blurts, wrapping his arm around Stacie’s shoulders. “It celebrates Stacie’s heart and love of life.”
Her cheeks color. She sips her steaming drink and dabs her lips with a napkin. “Peppermint schnapps really perks up hot chocolate.”
And With Shaved
Chocolate On Top
“Is there a story behind your tattoo?” I ask. Impish innocence twinkles in Stacie’s dark eyes.
“No,” David declares.
“Don’t be silly. She wasn’t asking about that. She wants to know if I designed it or why I got it.” She looks at me. “Right?”
Curiosity aroused, I nod and wait for an opportunity to delve into their odd responses.
“I earned this quirky little artwork interviewing tattoo artists.” She grins at me. “You can see from the design that the man who created it is a phenomenal artist. It took him hours to finish.”
He throws back a slug of his laced chocolate. He grimaces, the hot liquid evidently burning his throat.
Stacie shifts closer to him and entwines her fingers with his. She leans and whispers in his ear.
That low voiced explosion is followed by another.
“You’re among friends,” I assure him.
Stacie nods. “They just want to get to know us. I don’t mind admitting my stubbornness caused the car wreck that stranded us in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky to stumble across that derelict motel.”
“Stumble is the word.” He pokes her in the chest, his finger a scant inch above the clown’s curly red ‘hair.’ “You were too exhausted to take one more step or I would have insisted we move on. Anything would have been better than that dive.”
“You changed that. Remember? You lit those candles.” She inhales. “I can smell them. Jasmine and ginger. You can, too. I know you can. You invented them.” She rises on tiptoe and whispers in his ear.
To my surprise, a faraway look misted David’s eyes as memory carried him back:
“I have a special place in mind for you,” David said.
“You do?” Stacie replied.
Surprise and pleasure sang in her words and doubled his resolve to reinvent their surroundings. Hopefully, she’d play along with him. He snagged his towel off the door handle while she tucked the condom package under the elastic of her thong, grabbed his pack in her hand, circled her other arm around his neck, and kissed him during the short trip into the main room. When he reached the far wall, he cushioned her back with the folded towel. “Do you like the candles I lit around the room?”
“Candles?” She looked over his shoulder. “What can...? Oh.” She smiled at him. “Thooose candles.”
“Yes,” he whispered, then skimmed his tongue over the rim of her delicate ear. “Thooose candles. The flames have warmed the wax. Do you recognize their scent?”
She inhaled. “Ummmmm, jasmine.”
Stacie tipped her head, exposing the line of her neck. He trailed kisses to her collarbone and relished the sensual aroma of her hair, a promise of hot, humid nights amid tropical flowers. He tucked away the information for later use.
“There’s ginger, too,” he added.
“You like ginger?” She traced her fingertip along his jaw.
“It’s spicy. Like you.” Her stroke brushed across his whiskers and arrowed frissons of excitement to his core.
“That’s excellent.” The kiss she initiated sucked his tongue deep and hardened his shaft beyond memory. When she released his mouth, he hauled air into his lungs. It caught there when she pushed his shirt to his armpits and ran her hands over his chest, tweaking his nipples.
“Not fair. I can’t take off your top.”
for Stacie and
Dim pulses of light seeped through the curtains, illuminating her as she stretched her arms above her head. Her graceful hands trailed down her arms and their slow, teasing descent reminded him of her skin’s luxurious texture. She dipped one shoulder, letting that set of straps escape to curve at her elbow. He hitched her higher, tasting the naked offering. When he drew back, she slipped loose the other set of straps and drew her top below her breasts. Partially concealed by the lace cups of her bra, they beckoned his touch. He wanted to sample their weight, their sensitivity, but he also enjoyed the gradual revelations of her beauty.
David swallowed his impatience and waited for her to continue. She unhooked the front clasp of her bra, spilling them loose in an uninhibited invitation. With a naughty smile and a shake of her twins, she dropped the bra to the floor and slipped her legs from around his waist. The towel that had cushioned her back dropped in a pool of cotton.
“I want to feel your hands on me,” she said.
“My pleasure.” He knew it would be. Her gratification rose more important than his. A difference he hadn’t foreseen, but one that seemed natural.
Palming her full breasts, he flicked her nipples with his thumbs. They peaked under his attention, hardening, pressing into his flesh, acting much like his own body pressed against the prison of his underwear and shorts. He forgot his discomfort in the splendor of her smile and low, tantalizing hum of satisfaction.
She inhaled. Her top caught at her waist. She left it there while she inched from his touch and opened the button closure of her shorts. Tooth by tooth she lowered the zipper, easing one side wide and exposing the sexy thong beneath. He hooked his fingers in the sides of her shorts and edged them over the sensuous curve of her butt. Bending one knee to the floor, he slipped them down her legs, her sexy thong teasing him with the wonder of remaining secrets.
He caressed the backs of her knees and gently blew against her mound. Her fingers dug into his shoulders. He skimmed her thighs and kneaded her firm, rounded cheeks, pressing his mouth to her mound hidden underneath silken material. She trembled within his grasp, her breath rasping in and out as she abandoned herself to the sensations he created in her.
He reveled in her reactions, knowing he controlled their intensity and her release from the tension he built within her. David carried her to the brink and then stopped. He stood and supported her as she sagged into his embrace.
“You sadist,” she whispered. “Will you torture me again?”
Teasing and laughter had never been a part of his sexual experiences. He liked the difference. He gathered her stretchy top and helped her out of it. She faced him, unabashed, in only her thong with his condom tucked under the strap that arched over her hip.
“Your turn.” She pushed his shirt upward.
He ripped it off and popped the snap of his shorts. She grasped his hands.
“Slower.” She traced the bumps and dips of his knuckles. “You lit tall tapers and pillar candles, not short tea lights.” She released him. “Can you smell the sandalwood?”
Obliging her improvisation, he closed his eyes and inhaled. Although he had no idea what it smelled like, he imagined a woody, earthy fragrance. Her fingers drifted over his arms and chest, following his muscles’ contours. He opened his eyes and watched her expressive face.
“Sandalwood is the base perfume of our candles, the strength that balances the spice of the ginger you like with the aphrodisiac of the jasmine.” She molded her hand to the bulge of his erection.
He held the flare of her hips, spread his stance wide, and locked his knees against the raw desire that swamped him. A secret smile curved her lips as she stared at him and rubbed her hand along his length. She tipped her pelvis in rhythm to her strokes. He clenched his teeth and admired her challenge.
For challenge it was.
Thinking he could hold his release at bay by concentrating on her, he searched for minute details that revealed her susceptibilities. Her eyelids fluttered as she slid her hand down his increasing thickness to his base. Then, at the apex of each upward stroke, she paused. During those pauses, when she lingered at his tip, she flicked her tongue between her lips as if she tasted him. Since his waistband already gapped open, he grasped each corner and flipped up the zipper tongue. “This might help you.” She moved her hand away. He jerked the corners he held. The slide zzzzzzzzzipped to the end.
She sent his shorts on a dive to his feet and, kneeling, rid him of his underwear as he lifted each foot. Taking his erection into her hot, wet mouth, she sucked him, her tongue laving the stiffened length while her hands massaged in magical counterpart. Control became nearly impossible. He urged her to her feet and wrapped her in his arms.
“Talk to me David.” She snuggled against him and placed a hand over his heart.
“You’re beautiful.” He rested his cheek in her silky hair.
Disappointment tinged her voice. Ashamed, he admitted, “I know that’s less than you want, than you deserve. I hoped creating a...prettier world than what’s here would show that I...well, you know.”
“That you care?” She met his gaze.
“Yeah.” He took a deep breath. “I care.”
Her kiss suspended time for him until she climbed his body. Contortions freed her from her thong, and laughter rolled as freely as the condom when she sheathed him. With her legs hooked around him and the towel once more cushioning her back from the wall, he entered her heat on a slow push that encased him in wonder.
“Oh, David.” She clutched his shoulders.
He moved inside her while the room brightened with the coming dawn. Laughter morphed into expressions of astonishment, awe, enchantment. He raised her high, teasing her with the tip of his erection while he sucked her nipple into his mouth. A tear dropped from the tattoo clown’s eye. David lost his hold on her breast. He blinked and looked closer at the tat. Nothing unusual.
“Trick of the light.”
“What’d you say?”
“Aren’t you sweet?’
“Not as sweet as you.” He took her back into his mouth. The tear dropped again. Each time he drew her deep, the clown cried. Whoever had exhibited his talent must have also known what he lost and created the ingenuous way to taunt his successors.
“David, please.” She squirmed in his hands, trying to work herself farther down on his shaft. “I want to feel all of you.”
|Stacie + David = Fireworks!|
She laughs and wrinkles her nose at me. “He’s one hell of a man.”
I add an extra splash of schnapps to cool my chocolate. “What about the money?”
Stacie rolled her eyes. “We caught up with my friend’s little brother, Alan, in Sarasota, Florida."
Alan covered his eyes with his hand. His shoulders sagged. “I already let it slip. You’ll take the money away from me eventually.”
Money, Stacie mouthed to David, hoping he was as pleased as she felt. Alan lowered his hand. She schooled her face to imitate David’s blank expression.
“When I left the club, one of Caputo’s bag men was arguing with a whore. I didn’t pay attention except to notice she was yelling and stomping around and his car was a twin to mine. I was rounding the front of my car when he tossed his briefcase over his shoulder, saying something like take care of this. The case landed in the back seat of my convertible. The guy’s idiot driver sat there staring at my back seat. I jumped in and hauled ass while the soon-to-be-dead-man argued with the tail.”
“How much was in the briefcase?”
“Over a hundred grand.”
One hundred thousand dollars, Stacie clarified in her mind.
“Enough to finance my escape at Caputo’s expense. Seemed like poetic justice.”
“Where’s the money?”
“I’m not going to tell you until I get what I want, protection and my story published.”
“That’s fair, isn’t it, David?” She tried to plead with her eyes.
David shrugged. “It can slide for now.”
She beamed at him. Will you uncuff him, too?”
The odds are against his staying alive, and he knows it. He might rabbit again.”
She turned back to Alan “How did you get away?” She took another sip of her drink.
“I kept turning north and west, never doubling back. Couldn’t afford to run into them. I saw a bus picking up people and realized I was in a slum area like where I grew up. I ditched the car and jumped on board.”
His eyelids drifted low as if he replayed the scene on their backs.
“Punk hoods started stripping the convertible before I sat down. I changed buses until I found one going out of town. An hour or so later, I saw a sign for an airport. I paid cash for a charger to Phoenix.
Boosted a car there in case they followed me that far and hid at the nudey place.” He fidgeted in his chair.
“How did you find me?”
“The torn page and Deby’s picture.” Stacie remembered the smile displayed in that memento. The excitement, confidence, and hope radiating from it had meshed with similar emotions in her, the original basis for their friendship. One Stacie’s family hadn’t understood, but she’d proudly proclaimed, to the delight of Deby’s foster parents.
Alan nodded. “What about you?” he asked David.
“No way, man, the pilot didn’t know where I headed.”
“Paying cash tipped him off to the chance of bigger bills later when someone came looking for you. While you slept, he snooped. Your sweaty hand smudged the resort’s ad.”
“Effin’ louse. Everybody’s working a con.”
The information Alan spouted next contained no value to David’s investigation. He checked Alan’s restraint and motioned to Stacie that he was going to leave for a minute.
The hall lay empty but he could hear a conversation between at least three teachers in one of the rooms. David finished his soda and dropped the can in the trash. Better to move to the auditorium as originally planned. He returned to the classroom. Stacie listened attentively to Alan.
“You can finish that in a minute,” David said. “We’re moving to the auditorium.”
“Why?” she asked.
He started to tell her to do what he said, but she deserved to know she had limited time left with Alan. David explained the situation.
“I need more than another twenty-five minutes for a decent interview.”
“I can’t give you more time.”
“Can’t or won’t, David?”
|Available NOW From |
The Wild Rose Press
CLICK HERE http://bit.ly/i63Ds5 to buy CAUGHT BY A CLOWN. Find out how far David carries Stacie's arrest and learn who's CAUGHT BY A CLOWN.
Thanks for sharing our celebration of CAUGHT BY A CLOWN'S release. Join Sandra on February 4th at http://www.authorroastandtoast.com/ for her official release party with Sandra Donovan, Mary Ricksen, Hywela Lyn and, of course, Oliver.