S’nogged: A Jenna Ray Christmas story

Share

A seasonal Thursday teaser

By Kayla Dawn Thomas

The house buzzed with energy and alcohol. Around nine-thirty a loud, “HO! HO! HO!” came from the foyer followed by the slamming of the front door. Silence followed until a man in a Santa Suit entered the living room where most of us had settled. Cheers erupted at the sight of him. This was a new addition to the party lineup.

“Has everyone been good this year?” Santa shouted over the crowd.

A chorus of catcalls and whoops filled the room, and Santa threw his head back and laughed jiggling his padded belly. Mack pressed a mug of eggnog into Santa’s hand, and with that, Jolly Old Saint Nick became part of the party. The red suit mingled its way through the living room, somehow keeping its back to me. The voice seemed familiar, but I’d had just enough champagne to doubt myself. No matter how I moved, I couldn’t get a good look at the eyes above the beard.

Finally, I made my way over to Kennedy. “Who’s Santa?”

“Oh, it’s one of the new guys from Mack’s office. He’s a total clown,” she replied with a dismissive flick of her wrist. Then she clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention. “It’s time for the white elephant gift exchange!”

Another round of cheers went up, and everyone refreshed their drinks before heading to the corner where a giant Christmas tree covered in delicate designer ornaments held court.

“Hey, Santa, why don’t you pass out the gifts?” Mack said.

“My pleasure, ho, ho, ho!” Santa’s voice had a mock depth to it. Sandwiched between my mother and sister on the floor, I wiggled around trying to get a good look at his face, but he turned around and presented me with a red, polyester-clad ass. Stretched taut, the pants revealed well-shaped, firm buns. This Santa was no fatty.

“Mmm…Santa’s been working out,” Nora murmured in my ear.

The sound of her voice pissed me off. We’d never been the type of sisters to giggle and share secrets and ogle boys together. I was happy her life was on an upswing but was struggling with it colliding into the one I’d built. It should have been Kennedy whispering in my ear.

A small box plopped into my lap wrapped in red paper with elves frolicking on it. I tore my attention away from my sister to watch as gifts were unwrapped, and the thievery began. The Dean white elephant gift exchange had a long tradition of randomness. There were usually a couple of really nice items, lots of cheesy things, and the occasional suggestive oddball. I was pleased when Nora unwrapped an ugly teddy bear candleholder.

“That’ll look great in your new living room,” I said loud enough for the whole group to hear bringing a roll of laughter.

Nora flashed a fake smile and cradled the ceramic bears in her hands. “Hey, Mom, you know you want it.”

“Like hell I do, unless Jenna opens something amazing, I’m going for that bottle of Jameson. That guy doesn’t look old enough to appreciate it.” One of Mack’s baby faced techs flushed and pretended to hide the whiskey under his shirt.

“All right, Jenna, you’re up,” Kennedy called from the couch where she’d stretched her legs across Mack’s lap.

Feeling adventurous, I decided to go with the package in my lap. Dropping the paper to the side, I revealed a glossy black box with a model wearing dark purple edible panties on the front. Grape flavored. Laughter bubbled up from deep within me, the silent kind that just makes you shake. Really? Two years in a row I get the naughty gift.

“What did you get?” Someone hollered from across the room. “Hold it up so everyone can see!”

Before I could react, Nora squealed and snatched the box, holding it triumphantly over her head. “Who’s hungry?”

“Oooo,” Mom said in my ear. “I had a pair of those recently. Strawberry. Tasted like a stale fruit roll-up.”

I snorted as a fresh wave of laughter tore through me. This was just surreal. Then I peed a little. Startled, I yipped and jumped to my feet making a mad dash for the bathroom. The living room buzzed with laughter and dirty jokes in my wake, but I didn’t care, I was about to completely wet myself.

Someone caught my arm as I passed through the doorway leading from the living room to the hallway. Startled, I whirled around and found myself nose to nose with Santa. A pair of familiar, electric blue eyes pierced me with an intense stare from above the white beard. My heart jumped into my throat, and I couldn’t swallow it.

The Collection

S’Nogged is Story 3 in the Jenna Ray series, available in The Collection.

Think twice before you slip off that ring, boys.

Arriving at her parents’ house for an impromptu visit, Jenna Ray gets her own surprise when she finds her father lip locked with a strange woman. Then, her brother-in-law defiles her sister’s car with a waitress in a parking lot. Jenna Ray snaps the night she discovers her mentor with his receptionist wrapped around his waist and proceeds to dump the guy in nothing but his boxers at his wife’s feet. Discovering her hidden talent to seduce, Jenna walks away from her IT career and reinvents herself as a vigilante seeking justice for women who are too tired and hurt to stand up for themselves.

A side effect of the job is losing her ability to trust any man. So, when she finds herself getting lost in Thad Benson’s hypnotic blue eyes, Jenna fights the attraction with all she’s got. But Thad’s a patient man, who’s up to the challenge of taming Jenna.

With a cast of quirky friends, clients, and family, the Jenna Ray Stories will have you laughing and cringing at Jenna’s predicaments.

Get it on Amazon.

You can also get the full S’Nogged story for free by subscribing to the BestSelling Reads email newsletter. Just fill out the form above right.

Kayla Dawn Thomas

has been telling stories since she could talk, telling her wild tales to a jump rope until she learned to read and write. Her mother was relieved when she made the transition to paper.

Today Kayla writes contemporary romance, weaving her experiences growing up on a cattle ranch into her work as well as whatever is striking her funny bone or curiosity at the moment. When Kayla isn’t writing she enjoys swimming, reading, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

Learn more about Kayla and her books at her

Share

Thursday teaser: Fighting for Fall

Share

Enjoy this excerpt of the upcoming second book in the Seasons of Love series

By Kayla Dawn Thomas

Maddox held out a big hand, and the older women pressed the key into his palm. The glow in her eyes was back. Chanel fought the urge to reach over and slap Alice’s bony wrist by telling herself this was the most action the grouchy old broad ever got. It cheered her to know she got to go upstairs with Maddox and would be making love to him in a matter of minutes.

“Thanks, Alice,” Maddox said taking the key and passing it to Chanel, which reminded Alice of her presence.

“There is a marked pet area on the far side of the garden. That is the only place on the grounds where animals are allowed to do their business. Bags and a trash receptacle are provided, be sure to use them.” Alice glowered over her tiny rectangle glasses. “Security cameras are running around the clock both inside the public areas of the building and outside.”

Chanel forced a smile, felt Maddox stroking her back urging her to keep her cool. “I’m glad security is such a priority here.”

“I’ll give Chanel the rundown on everything else.” Apparently Maddox could feel Chanel’s growing agitation. He grabbed the luggage he’d set on the floor and took off toward a bank of elevators.

Once inside the plush elevator car, Chanel sagged against the rail and rested her head on the soft green upholstered wall. “I don’t know if I can do this. The traffic, the building Nazi tracking my every move. She does not like me.”

Maddox stood square in front of her, his blue eyes soft as he ran large hands up and down Chanel’s arms. “You’ve got this. You’re just wound up from the drive. We’re going to get in the apartment, and I’m going to help you unwind.”

He lowered his lips to hers sparking a fire in Chanel’s lower belly. Maddox had a way of wiping everything from her mind when he kissed her, a feat of pure magic as her brain was constantly on the go.

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open on the tenth floor.

“Get it! Wooo!” A male voice thundered into the car.

Chanel jumped in surprise while Maddox laughed and turned with a smile to greet the giant in the doorway. “Hey, Clavin.” The two exchanged a complicated handshake. “Meet my girlfriend, Chanel. Chanel, Clavin Marks. He’s an O lineman on the team. His place is next door to mine.”

“Hey, girl, it’s about time you got yo ass into town. This boy’s been lonely!” Clavin held out a beefy hand. Chanel took it to shake, but he pulled her in for a hug that all but suffocated her in his bulk.

Maddox laughed as he shuttled Chanel’s luggage out of the elevator. “Let her breathe, man. I’d like to keep her around a while.”

Clavin chuckled, a rumble that shook his whole body, and turned Chanel loose. “And who do we have here?” He knelt as Soda crossed the threshold, tail wagging. She leaned into the big man as he pet her with a surprisingly gentle touch. “You an old lady, aren’t cha.” His voice went up an octave as he spoke to the animal.

Image by Charlotte Post from Pixabay

“This is Soda,” Chanel said. She couldn’t help but smile at the pair on the floor. The two seemed smitten with each other.

“You a beaut,” Clavin said in his dog voice.

Chanel looked over at Maddox, who grinned and shook his head. “Clavin was planning to go to vet school if he hadn’t been drafted.”

“Oh, I’ll be goin’ as soon as this ride’s over,” Clavin said, regaining his feet. “I love animals. I got two dogs, a Sheltie and a Brussels griffon. Make Alice crazy every time we go downstairs. I taught ’em to bark extra when she around.”

“Albert, the griffon looks like a damn Ewok,” Maddox said, running a hand through his shoulder length blond hair.

That move had always turned Chanel on. While she was enjoying meeting Clavin, she really just wanted to get her man into his apartment and all to herself.

“So, it’s not just me she doesn’t like?”

“Hell no. Alice picks her favorites round here and’s a snot to everyone else. She ’specially don’t like dogs. She thinks they belong outside, but she don’t own the place, so she don’t get to make the rules.” Clavin’s phone chimed from his pocket. He dug it out. “I got to go, Sean’s waitin’ at The Dive for me. Don’t tell Coach, but we havin’ gut bomb burgers for dinner.” He poked the button to reopen the elevator door. “Awesome to meet cha, Chanel. Bring Soda over to play with Albert and Barbara sometime.”

“Will do,” Chanel said, giving Clavin a parting wave.

“Later, man,” Maddox said as the door slid closed.

“He’s a good guy,” he continued as they walked down the soft gray-carpeted hall. “Loves to eat, and hates Coach’s diet restrictions. He and the other linemen sneak greasy grub almost every Monday night since we usually have Tuesday off.”

Maddox stopped at a door with number 1082 on a plaque beside it. He grinned at Chanel. “Here we are. Home sweet home.”

Fighting For Fall

Seasons of Love Book 2

Go. Fight. Win. Love?

Chanel Eber, a rancher’s daughter, faces down her fear of big cities to follow the love of her life to Portland, Oregon where he’s living his NFL dream. But the Wolves aren’t the only ones looking to score. Another woman’s got her eye on Maddox, and Chanel’s going to have to fight harder than ever if she wants to keep his eyes on her.

Meanwhile, Delsi Melita has a big decision to make. She’s a single mom, the only woman in the athletic training room, her boss is a pompous jerk, and she’s falling for the team’s owner. Can she have the job and the man, will she have to pick one, or will she lose both?

The stakes are high, and both women stand to lose big if they don’t fight hard for love.

Kayla Dawn Thomas

Kayla Dawn Thomas grew up on an Idaho cattle ranch, but now calls the wheat fields of the Washington Palouse home with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

Kayla writes romance, chick lit, and now romantic suspense. Her rural roots inspire her writing, and she enjoys giving the world a little taste of a life most folks have never experienced.

A rabid reader, when Kayla isn’t writing, ushering dogs in and out of the house, or taking care of the humans in her family, you can find her in a comfy spot with a book.

Share

In the sunshine of words

Share

Summer, as we all know, is a magical time.

A time of glorious mornings, of high blue skies, of long, gentle evenings.

Of the feeling of soft grass under bare soles, of the delicious shock of water from the sprinkler.

It’s so easy for our eyes to stray from the stories on our computer screens or in our typewriters to the green vistas beyond the window. So many of us take the opportunity to move our laptops to a table outdoor.

And we find inspiration in the beauty of the natural world around us, or from the breathtaking achievements of people past.

So here are some photos showing the kinds of views that inspire some of your favorite bestselling authors.

Enjoying a quiet neighborhood, DelSheree Gladden likes to sit out on her deck to write during the summer. And she has a back yard that’s just about perfect.

Kayla Dawn Thomas also loves her back deck in Washington State. She sets up her writing desk there every minute the weather allows.

A quaint English garden is D.G. Torrens’ favorite writing place in the summer. “Especially when it is in full bloom and my cherry blossom tree is beginning to bear fruit, my garden is alive with birds and squirrels.” It’s a wonder Dawn can concentrate on her next book!

Water inspires Mary Doyle. “When I have a laptop near water, the words flow,” she says. So she likes to visit her brother and set up on his decidedly inspiring back deck in Minneapolis, MN.

Water is also a strong theme in Toby Neal’s inspiration. She finds beach walks inspiring. And with homes in Maui and near the coast of northern California, beaches seem always close at hand for Toby.

The peripatetic J.L. Oakley finds the white noise that surrounds her helpful, so she sets up at the closest café whenever she has the chance. “Plus, I get to watch the characters outside—weird and inspiring.”

Samreen Ahsan finds inspiration from old European castles and palaces, like this one, the Pena (“Feather”) Palace in Sintra, Portugal. This inspiration shows up in her fantasy novels set in a castle, Once Upon a [Stolen] Time and Once Upon a [Fallen] Time.

Scott Bury rides his bike 50 kilometres (30 miles) every day when the weather allows, and finds inspiration in the surprising sights. This week, he spotted a Great Blue Heron only metres from the bicycle path in the middle of Ottawa, Canada.

Tell us about your favorite place to read, and we’ll enter your name in a draw for a free book!

Share

Why we write what we write

Share
Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

Romance, mystery, thriller, science-fiction … what makes an author choose to write in a particular genre? Your favorite bestselling authors reveal why they chose their literary path. This week, we continue with Kayla Dawn Thomas, David C. Cassidy, Scott Bury and J.L. Oakley.

Kayla Dawn Thomas

Romance

I’ve always been fascinated with falling in love, with everyone finding their perfect someone. While I read romance from all time periods, I like writing contemporary to show that people can still find love in this somewhat jaded, prickly world.

David C. Cassidy

Horror

For me, it was simply a case of being enthralled and inspired by Stephen King and Clive Barker at a young age. For me, they taught me two things. King: How to tell a story with “real” characters a reader cares about. Barker: How to imagine … and then to imagine more.

Scott Bury

Historical fantasy, non-fiction and mystery

When I was about 15 or so, I was into science fiction. I read a novella by Larry Niven featuring a detective named Gil the Arm. He served in a global police force, a couple of centuries in the future, so it was essentially a science fiction detective story. I was hooked!

When I started writing fiction, I felt frustrated by the expectations and tropes of genres: noirs, police procedurals, fantasy, science fiction … Plus, I am interested in many different types of stories. That’s why I not only write in different genres, I cross the boundaries as often as I can.

J.L. Oakley

Historical fiction

I’ve always loved history and even wrote a very serious thesis on Comanches as prisoners of war using primary materials from the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institute. My goal was to make it readable, not some high-faluting work that people wouldn’t understand. That’s what a publican historian is all about.

Writing historical fiction is another way to present history in an engaging way. When a reader becomes involved with a character facing the troubles of her time or just living life, you can teach about an era much more effectively. 

Take your pick

Whatever genre you like, BestSelling Reads members are authors who adhere to the highest professional publishing standards, dedicated to bringing readers compelling, enjoyable stories that leave you wanting more.

Share

Welcome Kayla Dawn Thomas

Share

Another bestseller joins

Kayla Dawn Thomas, author of rural romances and romantic comedy, has joined BestSelling Reads’ team of authors dedicated to bringing you the stories you want to read.

Kayla Dawn Thomas grew up on an Idaho cattle ranch, but now calls the wheat fields of the Washington Palouse home with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. Her rural roots inspire her writing, and she enjoys sharing a taste of a life most folks have never experienced.

Her published work includes:

  • Swept Up, the story of two broken hearts that meet on the midnight streets
  • The Collection, a set of stories about a Jenna Ray, a vigilante who finds justice for women who are too tired and hurt to stand up for themselves
  • The Seasons of Love series of romances set on the Double-O Ranch.

She plans to publish the final volume of the Seasons of Love series by the end of 2019, and then turn her attention to a long-awaited new addition to the Jenna Ray series.

“I also look forward to communing with fellow indie authors and getting to know new readers through Best Selling Reads,” she says.

Learn more about Kayla Dawn Thomas on:

And don’t forget to visit BestSelling Reads’ Facebook page to interact with all the members.

Share