A millionaire with a wary heart…
And a first love worth repeating

Success couldn’t make former model Alexis Armstrong forget the one who got away. When she “rents” Derek Moore at a fund-raiser to show him what he’s missed, things don’t go as planned.

Their sizzling chemistry reignites…with lasting repercussions. Derek wants to be there for his baby, but Alexis will only marry for love. Can he convince the stubborn beauty he’s for real?

Derek rose smoothly from his chair and headed out of the office. “Hey, Alexis,” he said, stepping into the hallway.
“Hi, Derek. I was wondering if you could stop by sometime tonight. I’d like to talk to you about something.”
He knitted his brows in confusion. She had all but told him to get lost when they were in Paris, and now she wanted to talk. He glanced down at his watch. “Sure. I’m in a meeting right now, but it should be wrapping up soon. Is eight okay?”
“Yes. I apologize for interrupting your meeting.”
“No problem. I’ll see you in a little while.” Derek tapped the phone against his hand, pondering what she could possibly want to talk about. He would find out soon enough.
He went back into his meeting and it took another half hour to finalize the details. But Derek felt this would be his best project yet. He’d be using one of the most highly sought after architects and a top-notch developer, and the pairing was already generating buzz. 
Once the team departed, he packed up and did the same. He tended to be the last to leave most times, and his assistant would occasionally stay past her normal hours to help him. However, today, she’d left with everyone else at the close of business.
Derek bought a sandwich and some juice from the shop next door to his office building and ate as he drove. He figured if he’d already eaten, it would be easier to turn down any offer Alexis might make, and keep him from staying longer than necessary. He could not afford a repeat of last time. 
He arrived a few minutes before eight and rang her bell. Unlike last time, Alexis had on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.
“Hi.” She backed up so he could enter.
“I’m out on the deck.”
He followed her there and stood against the rail next to her as she stared out at the water. “What’s going on, Alexis? A couple of weeks ago, you told me we should just leave things as they were, and now you’re calling out of the blue to talk.”
“Two weeks ago, I didn’t know I was pregnant,” Alexis said softly.
Derek felt like he’d been punched in the gut. “What did you just say?”
She faced him. “I assume that’s a rhetorical question.”
He scrubbed a hand down his face, paced the length of the deck and came back. “But you said you were on the pill.” Okay, the condom broke, but he’d seen the half-filled pack.
“Lucky me. I happen to be in that minuscule percentage where it failed,” she said sarcastically.
If this had happened to someone else, he might be congratulating the man on having sperm strong enough to break through a contraception guaranteed to be ninety-nine percent effective. But it wasn’t someone else. What the hell was he supposed to do with a kid? He didn’t know anything about raising a child. His father had certainly not been a role model. “When did you find out?”
“Today. There are some other things I need to tell you, as well.”
There was more? Derek needed a drink, preferably something straight and strong.

Malcolm Gray is Lauren Emerson’s biggest regret. Eight years ago, a breakdown of trust cost her a beautiful future with the most charming man she’d ever met. Now a career-making opportunity brings the nutrition entrepreneur home, where she hopes to declare a truce with her ex-love, the star running back of the Los Angeles Cobras. But their first encounter unleashes explosive passion…and unwanted memories of the precious dreams they once shared.

Malcolm can’t forgive Lauren for her betrayal after they had pledged their eternal devotion. But her play-stopping curves alone are a turn-on he can’t resist. He knows he’ll never get over her—nor does he want to… Is their love worth a second chance? Or is he risking heartbreak again? As they jockey for position, a new set of rules could change the game for both of them.

Malcolm heard Lauren’s laughter before he saw her. The same laughter he used to love.
“Thanks for your help,” he heard her say. A moment later, she rounded the corner. “Oh, Malcolm. Hey.”
He mumbled something he thought passed for a greeting.
They stood in awkward silence for several tense seconds before she said, “Um…I was just making…copies… We can talk in my office.”
He gestured her forward but didn’t comment. They stopped halfway down the hall at her door, and he followed her in. She had a pretty nice setup—spacious, expensive furniture, great view. Malcolm sat at the conference table and waited. As she walked past, he was treated to a view of her shapely backside in a pair of navy slacks that clung enticingly to her curves. The familiar scent of the soft citrusy fragrance she always wore wafted across his nose, and he closed his eyes briefly to block out the unwanted memories.
“Are you okay?”
Malcolm opened his eyes and met her concerned gaze. “Fine,” he said tersely.
Lauren regarded him thoughtfully. “It’s good to see you, Malcolm. I’m happy you’ve been able to live your dream.”
“Thanks.” Too bad he couldn’t say the same about her. “Let’s get this over with.”
Lauren sighed softly. “Malcolm, I—” She squared her shoulders and opened a file folder. “They’ve already done the DEXA scan, and your bone, muscle and fat percentages are all excellent. For your diet—”
“I already emailed you that information, so we don’t need to repeat it. My goals are to maintain where I am. Simple. This is my eighth season, so it’s not as if I don’t know the drill.” Malcolm didn’t know how much longer he would be able to sit in this confined space with Lauren. He was torn between wanting to lash out at her for what she’d put him through all those years ago and kissing her senseless. He prided himself on having a good amount of control but felt it slipping as the minutes ticked off.
Her pen stilled, and she looked up from the pad where she had been writing notes. “You did.” She rose and retrieved a sheet of paper from her desk. “Height, six one, and weight, two hundred fifteen pounds. Diet consists of fish, chicken, lean beef and a variety of vegetables and fruits.” She tossed the paper aside. “Look, Malcolm, I know this is awkward for both of us.”
“Awkward? Is that what this is?” Malcolm leaped to his feet, and she instinctively took a step back. “Awkward doesn’t begin to define what this is. Why are you here?”
Lauren frowned and folded her arms. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“You could’ve taken a job anywhere. Why here?” he asked through clenched teeth. “I don’t want you here.”
She placed her hands on her hips and leaned up in his face, her dark brown eyes flashing with anger. “Because this is where I wanted to work. I was offered an opportunity few get, and taking it meant being closer to my family. What was I supposed to do, check with you first? News flash, Malcolm Gray, I don’t need your
permission for my job choice, and whether you like it or not, I plan to be here for a long time!”
Something within him snapped and before his action registered in his brain, he hauled her into his arms and crushed his mouth against hers in a hungry and demanding kiss. Malcolm expected Lauren to push him away, slap him or make some kind of protest…anything, but she didn’t. She kissed him back. And in the way that drove him crazy, like only she could.
“Malcolm,” Lauren whispered.
Finally, sanity returned, and he jumped away from her as if he had been burned. What the hell am I doing? His breath came in short gasps, and his heart thumped erratically in his chest. His gaze was drawn to Lauren’s lips, still moist from his kiss, and the rapidly beating pulse in her neck, which didn’t help matters. He needed to leave now. Malcolm stepped around her, crossed the office in three strides and snatched open the door. He paused and turned back. “This changes nothing. I still don’t want you here.”



A millionaire with a wary heart…
And a first love worth repeating

Success couldn’t make former model Alexis Armstrong forget the one who got away. When she “rents” Derek Moore at a fund-raiser to show him what he’s missed, things don’t go as planned.

Their sizzling chemistry reignites…with lasting repercussions. Derek wants to be there for his baby, but Alexis will only marry for love. Can he convince the stubborn beauty he’s for real?

She heard a buzzing sound and watched as Derek retrieved his phone. He read for a minute and sighed. He typed something and stuck the cell back into his pocket. 
“If you need to take care of some things, I can always take a rain check.” Though she found herself enjoying his company.
Derek stood and came around the bar. “It’s nothing that can’t wait.” He gestured to the stove. “Smells good.”
She took the cornbread out of the oven. “Hopefully, it will taste the same. Grab a plate. I figured it would be easier to do it this way, rather than carting out all the dishes.”
He picked up a plate. “And less dishes to wash.”
Alexis burst out laughing. “You still hate washing dishes.” It was the one chore he always complained about.
The corner of his mouth kicked up in a slight grin. “Absolutely.” He quieted. “I can’t believe you remembered that.”
“I remember a lot of things,” she said softly. He stared at her with an intensity that made her heart race. “Um…you can go first.” She handed him a serving spoon, then cut a few pieces of cornbread. The temperature had risen by several degrees and had nothing to do with the heat from the oven. 
Alexis placed a generous helping of jambalaya and the corner piece of bread on her plate. She’d just have to work out a little more because she intended to enjoy this meal. They carried their food outside. Derek went back in, topped off their glasses and brought them out.
Derek lifted his chardonnay. “To the cook.”
Alexis touched her glass to his. “Thank you.” For the first several minutes, they ate in companionable silence while listening to the waves crashing against the shore and the birds calling to each other overhead.
“This is really good.” He forked up another portion.
“I got the recipe from a woman while in New Orleans two years ago. She said it belonged to her family and it was one they could share.” She broke off a piece of cornbread, popped into her mouth and chewed. “How’s your mom?”
Derek paused with the fork midway to his mouth. “She’s good.”
“You know, I used to love seeing her photos in the magazines. I always thought she was so beautiful, elegant and poised. I wanted to be just like her.”
“Seriously? You never told me that.”
Alexis shrugged. “You never asked.” Back then, he had been so determined to forge his own way that nothing else seemed to matter. They quieted and continued eating. “She did factor in my decision. I thought if she could do it, so could I,” she said, picking up where the conversation left off.
“My mom was a pretty successful model, but nowhere near what you’ve accomplished.”
“That’s probably because she left the industry so soon.”
Derek chuckled. “Yeah. She said she was tired of seeing me grow up through pictures, and wanted to do something else, something to make a difference. These days, she’s enjoying teaching high school English literature.”
“I totally understand where she’s coming from.”
His brow lifted. “Are you thinking of leaving the business?”
A smile curved Alexis’s lips. “Yes. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy what I do. I just want to do more.” Now finished eating, she went to stand against the rail. “Maybe it’s time to put this business degree to work.”
“Any ideas about what you want to do?”
“Actually, yes. I’d like to do something in the area of African American infant mortality. The rates are much higher than any other race and I want our babies to have a fighting chance.”
Derek came and stood next to her. “That sounds like a worthwhile project.”
She faced him. “I think so, too. But what that looks like, I have no clue right now.”
He tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “I have no doubt that whatever you decide will turn out well.”
The intimate gesture shook her. “Do you think so?” With him standing so close, she remembered that he towered over her five-foot-ten height by a good seven inches.
“Absolutely. You were the smartest girl in class and I know nothing has changed.”
Before she could form a reply, Derek lowered his head and covered her mouth in a sweet, gentle kiss. He slid an arm around her waist and eased her closer. The intensity changed in the blink of an eye, and when it ended, she couldn’t tell who was more surprised.
Still holding her, Derek asked, “Should I apologize?”
“Not unless you want to.”
His soft laughter floated in the air. “So, is this part of the rental?”
“It could be.” Alexis had no idea where those words came from.
Desire blazed in his eyes. “Then I say we should take full advantage and make it worth every penny you invested.”
Her pulse skipped. What have I gotten myself into? Once again, his mouth moved over hers, stunning her with a passion that stole her breath and turned her knees to jelly. This was not some awkwardly cute kiss from a seventeen-year-old boy, but that of a man who had perfected the art of pleasing a woman. He released the band on her hair and groaned as the long tresses spilled over her shoulders. She’d been growing her hair since the age of thirteen, with a vow not to cut it—aside from trims—and it now hung to the middle of her back. It was her turn to moan when his hands roamed up her back and around to massage her breasts. Her head fell back and her eyes closed. Derek transferred his kisses to her exposed throat. She didn’t realize that he’d undone the first two buttons on her blouse until she felt the warmth of his tongue skating along her chest.
“Unless you want your neighbors to get an eyeful, I suggest we move this inside,” Derek murmured against the shell of her ear, his hands and lips still moving.
Alexis opened her eyes. “Inside where?”
Holding her gaze, he said, “Anywhere you want to take it.”
With her body on fire, and since she had declared this a show-him-what-he’d-missed date, there was only one place she wanted to take it.

Celeste Williams has finally gotten her life back on track and the last thing on her mind is dating again. Then she meets Thaddeus Whitcomb, a man as caring as he is handsome. The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible. Celeste thought no man could move her as deeply as her late husband, but Thad rekindles a passion she never believed she’d feel again.

Since his divorce years ago, Thad has lived a full and successful life. The moment Celeste crosses his path, he realizes she’s the piece he never knew had been missing. As friendship blossoms into more, Thad discovers a second chance at romance. But Celeste begins to retreat. Once he uncovers her reasons for becoming distant, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince the sensual beauty that nothing matters more than their love.

Celeste led him to the family room, pausing in the dining room to add the rose to the floral arrangement. “Please, have a seat.” She gestured to the sofa.
“After you.” He waited until she sat, then lowered himself next to her. “Whatever you’re cooking smells good.”
She smiled. “I hope it tastes the same.”
“I have no doubts,” Thad said, not taking his eyes off her.
Her heart rate kicked up again and she busied herself with opening the square gift to cover her reaction. She carefully tore away the paper and her smile widened. He had bought one of Brian Culbertson’s CDs she didn’t have. “Thank you, Thad.” The temperature seemed to be rising by the minute and had nothing to do with the oven being on. Celeste jumped up. “Oh, I need to check on the dessert. I’ll put this on when I come back.” She held up the CD.
He smoothly rose to his feet and eased it out of her hand. “If you show me where your player is, I’ll take care of it.”
Celeste directed him to the BOSE system on the kitchen counter, removed the cobbler from the oven and placed it on a trivet. The music started and the sounds of piano floated across the space and she recognized the song, “Together Tonight.” 
“I love this song.”
“It’s one of my favorites, as well.” Thad held out his arms. “Dance with me, Celeste.”
The softly spoken request made her pulse skip. “Here? In the middle of the kitchen?” she asked with a nervous chuckle. She knew being in his arms for any length of time could be dangerous because it would remind her of how much she missed having a man hold her.
“Absolutely. We have everything we need—you, me, good music. It’s perfect.” He closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around her. “Perfect,” he repeated as he swayed slowly in time with the melody.
Celeste almost melted in a heap when he pulled her to his hard frame. Her arms raised up on their own volition and wound around his neck. In her three-inch heels, her head came just above his shoulder.
The man smelled so good, it took all she had not to bury her face in his neck. The light, crisp scent surrounded her like a warm summer day. Thad’s voice broke into her thoughts.
“It’s been a while since I’ve danced with a beautiful woman and I’m a little out of practice.”
Celeste stared up at him. Out of practice? The sexy way his body moved against hers said he was anything but. “If you call this out of practice, I’d like to know what you’re like when you’re up to speed.” She averted her gaze and closed her eyes. She hadn’t meant to say those words out loud.
Thad chuckled and the deep sound enveloped her. “I plan for you to be right here when I do.” 
His hand made a slow path down her back, igniting a blaze as he went and Celeste sucked in a sharp breath.
He leaned back a fraction and looked into her eyes. “You know what that means, right?”
She was almost afraid to ask. “What?”
A wicked grin curved his lips. “We’ll need to spend lots of time dancing to make sure I get fully up to speed. I don’t want to miss a step with you.”

Sheryl Lister is a multi-award winning author and has enjoyed reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She is a former pediatric occupational therapist with over twenty years of experience and resides in California. Sheryl is a wife, mother of three daughters and a son-in-love, and grandmother to two special little boys. When she’s not writing, Sheryl can be found on a date with her husband or in the kitchen creating appetizers.

1 Rad-Reader Author Interview Weekly Schedule: Here Friday 7 pm PST. New Authors added in Red

Author: Here Friday
7 pm PST.
New Authors added in

1 Rad-Reader Author Interview Weekly Schedule

Nov. 16 – Sheryl Lister
His Los Angeles Surprise

*Nov. 23*
We Want to give THANKS
for all of our readers and authors that come to be with us for an interview, and share their books with you. We will be on vacation enjoying our Baby Girl’s time off
for Thanksgiving.
*Blessings to you all*

Nov. 30 – Anna J. Stewart
The Rancher’s Homecoming

Jan. 4 – Leigh Duncan
A Country Wedding




Rad-Reader:  Sara’s character starts off one way but as you get into the story you see how complex she really is.  Was that your intention?

Tamra:    Yes! In keeping with the old saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover, I wanted to show how Sara is portrayed wrongly by the press. The hero, Brent, learns that Sara is actually a kindhearted woman who wants to help others and nothing like the impression he got from researching her online.

Rad-Reader:  Did you come up with either Sara’s character or Brent’s before the other one or were they both always part of the story?

Tamra: Sara is the younger sister of the heroine from the first book in this series, Seeing Double. (They are all stand-alone books so they can be read in any order) So Sara came first and then Brent came to me later. I always like to pair the two most unlikely people, give them a problem to solve and watch them grow together.

Rad-Reader:  Brent being so uptight about different things was that your intention about making his personality?

Tamra: Yes, it was intentional because as I said above, I enjoy pairing opposites in my books. Brent has had a tough life, so he doesn’t easily trust. Sara appears to live a charmed life on the surface but has had her own struggles too. Mainly to be taken seriously for the intelligent and thoughtful person she is, not the spoiled Hollywood rich kid the press makes her out to be.

Rad-Reader:  I got that Brent was on his first assignment out of the office but, he did not trust anyone.  Was that intentional?

Tamra: Brent mistrusts as much as Sara gives the benefit of the doubt to all. It’s one of the things Brent comes to love most about Sara. And it’s one of the significant ways Brent changes by the end of the book. 

Rad-Reader:  Was Brent’s thinking that she had no skills in defending herself, just part of his character trait?

Tamra: Yes, Brent had no idea that Sara’s mother feared for her children’s safety as she does. Sara’s sister was kidnapped as a child. Therefore, Sara was highly trained to defend herself from a young age. Sort of like the training Meghan Markle got when she joined the royal family. 

Rad-Reader:  Brent’s character and his background I would have expected him to have some street smarts or I am looking at the character differently?

Tamra: Brent does have street smarts, but he’s an FBI agent who has to live by the letter of the law. It’s one of his struggles to maintain his cover story while he and Sara are on the run. He often let Sara figure things out first so she wouldn’t become suspicious of him.

Rad-Reader:  How did you come up with Sara’s whole home life with mother, sister, sister’s father, and her own father?

Tamra: Sara’s background was set up in the first book of this series. (Seeing Double) Sara’s sister Dani was tired of living in their famous mother’s shadow and had no idea she was the daughter of an infamous former mobster, Mario, who makes an appearance in this book too. I enjoy examining family dynamics. Having a huge family of my own helps with the research!

Rad-Reader:  Her grandmother’s character was funny was she based on anyone or different people?

Tamra: My characters are all aggregates of different personality traits. I enjoy watching reality television for this reason. It’s interesting to watch people’s reactions when faced with stressful situations. True personalities emerge. And I love feisty older people because they seem to have learned that life is too short to always say and do things to make others happy. It’s fun to write a character with no filter!  

Rad-Reader:  What made you think to use a pay phone?  Not too many people in today’s age remember them.  Plus, they used to be everywhere not so much now.

Tamra: I used a pay phone in my story because they’re rare these days and therefore hard to find. (Can’t make things easy for my characters!) And because I hoped a pay phone would stand out in the reader’s mind as Sara raced to find all of the items her sister told her to look for. It’s much harder to write mysteries these days because everyone has a cell phone they can use to save themselves instantly or obtain information. 

Rad-Reader:  When you had Sara and Brent go on the run did you write the places where they went first and then add the people or all of it together?

Tamra: I had to use google maps to figure out a few things before I began, but I live in the southwest so I’m familiar with the journey. I found real places along the way that I fictionalized for the story. For example, I didn’t realize that the airport in Show Low AZ was as large as it is. It actually has a long-term parking lot which came in handy for my story. So, once I began writing that part, I just filled in the people Sara and Brent met along the way. I write in order, so I often figure out things as I go along. 

Rad-Reader:  With all of the different characters when do you think or feel you need to add a new one to the story?  Bring one that is already in the story back into the storyline maybe?

Tamra: Having a large cast of characters can be a challenge. It’s hard for the reader to keep them all straight if there are too many people in the scene.  I try very hard to keep the number of people to a minimum, but when writing a wedding or any type of celebration when the whole cast should be present it can be a real challenge. While writing this book, I was trying to decide what I needed the characters to do next to outrun the corrupt law enforcement agents, when I realized I had an ex-mobster from the first book who I could use to help me out. Because surely, he knew how to outwit the law. All of my books are parts of series, but I focus mainly on the hero and heroine of the book I’m writing and bring in past characters sparingly. I like each book to have its own story arc and therefore have enough room to develop each couple fully. But people love to know what’s become of characters in past books, so my characters usually all make an appearance at the end of the series/story.

Rad-Reader:  Do you use an outline or do you just write and then add as you go?

Tamra: I outline sparingly. I know what my big turning points will be and how the story will end, then I fill the rest in as I go. I use a three-act structure that is very similar to what we’re used to seeing in movies and television shows as well. It helps guide me along as I write.   

Rad-Reader:  Was there any changes that you had to make as you went along with the story either adding characters or maybe had scenes that were deleted?

Tamra: Always. Because I don’t plot much, some days are three steps forward, and then two back. I have written my characters into a corner more than once, and then needed the help from a new character to save them. (Hence the mobster character I spoke about above) And then some days everything goes just right and I’m happy with all the words I wrote.  I wish all my days were like this….

Rad-Reader:  Interviewing other authors some are under contracts and must write certain stories.  Are you able to pick what you want to write?

Tamra: I can pick what I want to write for now. Publishers do ask for certain types of stories depending on what’s hot at the moment, so being aware of that is important.  Right now, I’m working on a cozy mystery that my agent and I will determine how we want to distribute it when I’m done. We’ll either shop it around to publishers or I might self-publish it. I’m a hybrid author and publish both ways currently. 

Rad-Reader:  Was the Zach character always part of your original story or was he added?

Tamra: Yes, Brent needed someone who he could trust when he figures out people from his own office might be involved with money laundering too. Zach was Brent’s mentor at the academy and is a wise character who gives good advice. We all need a Zach in our lives.  

Rad-Reader:  Do you by any chance remember your first royalty check and what, if anything you did, nice for yourself with it?

Tamra: I think most authors remember our first checks. It was so exciting to finally feel like a “real” author. But I didn’t make the journey alone, so I took my husband out for dinner and a movie of HIS choice to celebrate. 

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…

Sara:  Camilla Belle

Brad:  Scott Eastwood

Mother:  Valeria Galino

Grandmother:  Goldie Hawn

Tamra: I LOVE the characters you chose! I’ll stick with you here! Great job!!

Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your couple or your book as a whole?

“Waiting for Superman – Daughtry”
For Sara

“Come Back Song – Darius Rucker”
For Brad

Tamra: Again, amazing choices I can’t top! 

Rad-Reader:  If you tell a young writer anything what would it be?

Tamra: I often wish I had figured out I could write books when I was younger! Alas, life doesn’t always work out the way we think it will.  My best advice is to be proud of your accomplishments and keep trying no matter how many doors slam in your face.  It took me many years to be published. It was after I won a Golden Heart award that I got my terrific agent, Jill Marsal, and then the fun began. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up and celebrate even the small achievements with you, because they all count! Never lose sight of your dreams. And good luck!

Rad-Reader:  If you could meet any author who would it be?  Alive or dead and why?

Tamra: I have been super fortunate to meet many of my idols at the Romance Writers of America conferences I attend most years. So, I’d probably pick Jane Austen.  I’d like to thank her for paving the way for women writers, especially those writing romance. And I suspect she must’ve been a witty and fun person to hang out with! 

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite type of music?

Tamra: I’m a classic rock and pop listener. But never while I write. I tend to sing along and don’t get any writing done! 

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it coming out?

Tamra: I’m currently working on a cozy mystery series and really enjoying it. I’m hoping to have the first book out next spring. 

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?  Links


Rad-Reader:  Where can our reader find you on the Web?  Links

Thank you for your time in answering these questions and for a wonderful story.  I totally enjoyed it.  My wife enjoyed my retelling of it also.
Thanks again,
Pat & Char
Make sure you come by and let us know when your next book drops so Char can put it on our Shout-Out: An Author's page.  


HERE TOMORROW 7 PM PST. SHERYL LISTER AUTHOR OF: A millionaire with a wary heart… And a first love worth repeating Suc...