Time to set sail! Four Nights at Sea SALE!

Hello, my friends. You know how I can’t sit still long enough and always need to know my passport is valid, so it’s no surprise that I adore writing International Affairs. I’m currently snug and comfy in the lap of a charming romance in Provence! For the first to guess and leave a comment on who the hero and heroine are, I’ll send you a signed copy when it releases: Christmas in Provence. (Hint-they make a yummy and heart-tugging appearance in 26 Hours inParis.)

As for now, I’d like to thank Kensington’s Lyrical Press for offering book two, FOUR NIGHTS AT SEA, at the discount price of only $.99 this week. Download a copy if you haven’t read it (and don’t be shy about posting a review…I love them, too) and discover how Charlie finds true love on a kink cruise! 

You up for a little snippet of Charlie prepping for the four nights with Kat? Oh, do you have a friendship like theirs? Read on.


With her expandable carry-on-size suitcase and leather backpack ready by the door, Charlie grabbed her cell, opened the Seamless app, and repeated the last order of shrimp pad Thai, red curry beef, and two orders of the crab Rangoon appetizer. She finished verifying payment just as the front door crashed open.

“Charlie, I’m home,” Kathryn called, her forehead wrinkling as she took in the packed bags.

“Aowww.” Charlie pretended to rush and hide the luggage in the closet. Relieving her friend of the large brown bag, she peaked inside and squealed. “Fuck-me boots! Way to go, babe.”

“Got you something, too.” Her friend dangled a smaller bag, stuffed with tissue paper, and dropped onto the couch. Kathryn patted the cushion at her side, but didn’t offer her the gift. Instead, in a very animated and exuberant manner, she did the honors herself.

Charlie sat and clasped her hands between her knees. She watched her roommate pluck tissue after tissue from the bag and fling them extravagantly over her shoulder. Amused with Kathryn’s stripper imitation, Charlie covered her mouth with her hand and made her eyes extra big with excitement. “Should I blush before or after the big reveal?”

“I’m sure you blushed enough while you were packing,” Kathryn said, pulling out a package of batteries and waving them in the air.

Charlie burst out laughing and grabbed the batteries. “Thank you. These are much appreciated and will be put to good use.”

“I hope not,” Kathryn said, lifting a red lace thong from the bag. “I think you could get more use out of these.” Next came the black lace and, lastly, the silk.

“You’re too much,” Charlie said. “You do know this is a work trip?”

“So what?” Kathryn replied, shaking her head. “A good reporter explores all avenues. All. Figured you could wear the granny panties the first night, but you’ll need these for the next three.”

Kathryn had assumed correctly. She had packed nothing but cotton underwear. Shaking her head, she stood and reached for the new lingerie. “For your information, I don’t wear granny panties. They’re cotton bikini panties. Practical. Pretty and sexy, too.”

“Sure, if you’re in high school.” Kathryn scrunched her nose. “I take that back. Have you seen what those girls wear?”

“These are adorable,” Charlie said. “Thank you.” She walked the few steps to her suitcase and folded the new underwear into the outside pocket.

“Wait. One more thing,” Kathryn said, dangling a skimpy pink string bikini from her fingers as she walked toward the closet. “Pack this.”

“No way,” Charlie protested, sliding palms over hips. “Have you seen these?”

“I certainly have. You have a rockin’ bod. You’re not covering it with that stuffy one-piece you’ve had forever.” She fit the bikini into the same pocket Charlie had placed the underwear in, then propped one hand on her hip and held out the other. “Give me that fugly suit.”

“I like my fugly suit,” Charlie replied, laughing and waving a dismissive hand through the air. The intercom buzzed. “Saved by food delivery. If you want dinner, you’d best be nice to me.”

“I am nice,” Kathryn insisted. “Didn’t I just give you a sexy bikini and killer panties? Do I need to deliver a ripped man to your bed?”

“That would work,” Charlie answered, plucking a five from her wallet for a tip and sashaying to the door.

Once they’d devoured the appetizers, finished half of each entrée, and switched dinners, Charlie confessed to packing mostly conservative outfits.

“My cruise-appropriate clothing is pre-divorce,” she explained. “They’re a little traditional, considering my mother had a hand in selecting every piece, but they’re fine. I’m not cruising as a participant. I’m cruising as a professional observer.”

“Seriously? You packed those clothes?” Kathryn placed the red curry beef on the coffee table and stood. She disappeared into the bedroom, clearly on a mission, leaving Charlie cringing on the couch from the noise of the massive storage bins being dragged out of the closet.

“I can’t fit into your clothes,” Charlie called, imagining her friend tossing short and skimpy dresses over her shoulder. “Don’t bother. Even if I could get your miniskirts over my hips, they’d reach my knees.”

“I’ll admit we have different shapes. You’re blessed with knockout curves, I have more height, but we’re almost the same size,” Kathryn said, emerging with her arms full of casual, bright-colored clothes.

“They still have tags on them,” Charlie said.

“I picked them off the clearance racks at the end of the season and haven’t had a chance to wear them yet.” Kathryn held up a neon-green tank top printed with a phrase about giving her coffee before speaking. “These will help with getting people to talk openly with you. They invite conversation.” She placed a pink one over her chest. It read, Ask Me. “If being a non-intimidating professional is your goal, these will work in a casual setting. You could wear them by the pool bar.”

“Yes,” Charlie conceded, reaching for the tanks. “They’re good, non-intimidating, and cute. If you don’t mind me being the first to wear them, I’ll take them.”

“I don’t mind,” Kathryn replied, holding the bright-colored shirts high. “On the condition that you agree to take these dresses with you.” She held up a barely there little black number. The plunging halter matched the nonexistent back, which matched the tiny skirt.

“That’s not enough material to cover my hips.” Charlie held up a hand in protest. “Even if I’m five inches shorter than you, it’s barely going to reach past my underwear.”

“Don’t wear any.” Kat handed her the items in order. Colorful tanks. Miniskirts. Skimpy and fun sun dresses.

Sighing, Charlie stuffed them in her case and returned to the couch. “You need to look at it from my point of view, Kat. This assignment means something different to me than it does to you.”

“What are you talking about?” Her friend gave her a sobering look and sat beside her. “It means a byline to me and to you. We’ve worked hard for our own features. Plus, it’s an opportunity to break out of our loveless ruts.”

“Kind of.” Charlie reached for the electronic cigarette and took a long drag. “I’ll admit that what you’re saying is mostly on target. However, there’s never been a doubt in your ability to make it as a writer. Your parents supported your career goals—maybe not financially so much, because they couldn’t, but they always cheered you on. Paul hired you because he knew you were a capable writer. He had proof from your school days.” She puffed on the pink stick and chased the vanilla-scented vapor with a waving hand.

“You’re a great writer,” Kathryn insisted.

“Thank you,” Charlie said, folding her hands between her knees. “I like to believe that, but my family doesn’t. According to them, the only reason for me to attend Columbia Journalism School was to find the right husband, which I recklessly overlooked during my undergraduate education. They think I was there for my M-R-S degree.”

“You are so much more than pretty wifey material,” Kathryn said, her pitch a bit higher than typical. “You’re such a talented writer, not to mention someone that I would always want at my side. Dependable, smart, hardworking, stable—”

“It doesn’t matter.” Where her family was concerned, her main objective had been to find the proper husband to grow her inheritance. Her shoulders dropped in defeat, but her determination rose in opposition.

“Okay. Let’s talk about how this week will make a difference.” Kathryn covered Charlie’s hand and squeezed in support. “I’m here for you. Let’s brainstorm the best avenues to prove that you’re more than a pretty face.”

Relief and gratitude flooded Charlie. She was so lucky to have a friend who believed in her. “I’m going back to the basics. Starting with the five W’s every investigative reporter asks. Who, what, when, where, why . . . I’m going forward with my intentions from the moment I embark. I’m going to interview all of my fellow passengers that are willing to share.”

“Don’t forget the how,” Kathryn added, folding her feet under her bum. “I got it. Let’s come up with all your key questions over a bottle of wine. That way, you’re guaranteed not to miss anything you could use.”

“Can’t,” Charlie said, checking the time on her phone. “I need to get to the Port Authority. My bus leaves in a little over an hour.”

“Bus?” Kat shrieked. “Are you out of your mind? That’s going to take forever.”

“Twenty-six hours, to be exact. The same amount of time you’ll have on the ground in Paris.” Charlie winked and stood. She carried the dinner containers to the kitchen and set them on the counter. “If I take a flight, I’ll arrive totally wrecked and the first two days of the cruise will be ruined. The load of meds I’d need to get my butt on a plane would take a huge toll on my body. I’ll bus it.”

Shaking her head, Kat gazed at the floor. “You’re going to regret getting stuck—wait!” She looked up, excitement playing in her eyes.

Charlie looked at her friend, wondering what exactly the massive brainstorm was. “You know I’m on a tight schedule, right?”

“I got it,” Kat said, holding an index finger in the air. “I have twenty-six hours in Paris. You have twenty-six hours on the bus. So you need twenty-six interview questions for the cruisers.” She clasped her hands together and rolled her shoulders. “Trust me. It’s our lucky number. Twenty-six! Everything twenty-six.”

“Okay. If you insist.” Charlie stretched up and wrapped her arms around Kat’s shoulders. “I really have to go. I’ll work on the questions while someone else drives. You never know who may be on that bus.”

“You never know,” Kat agreed.


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