Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spotlight on Bandit Creek Books: Twice Shy

This week's spotlighted title is Twice Shy

Twice Shy 
Bandit Creek Erotic Romance
June 1, 2012

Leaving Bandit Creek was the best thing Stacy Jones ever did. Returning was the last thing she ever wanted to do.

Stace ran away at 16, eight years ago. She now has a stable life with people that love and care for her. Except there's one important piece missing - the truth behind her identity.

To solve this mystery, she must go back to Bandit Creek and confront the one person who has the answers. Mary Jones, her mother.

She's hoping to get in and out of dodge without running into the guy that stomped the crap out of her heart. Because Stacy doesn't know which one will require the most courage. Finding the truth or facing her first love.

About the Author - Jill Christie

Jill has always loved writing and reading. And she has always been curious about sex.

When she was young, she would try to discover things about sex by trying to find the naughty bits in the books she was reading.

Exasperated that Nancy Drew didn't do anything with Ned Nickerson, she moved onto more adult fare. And was confused as all the sex scenes were behind closed doors. Or worse, the prose was filled with euphemisms that didn't make any sense (especially when you didn't have intimate knowledge of the equipment involved).

Besides Jilly Cooper, she was pretty unsuccessful at finding out (from books) how sex really worked.

Many, many years later she discovered the joys of erotic fiction. She had all ready figured out how sex worked by then, but enjoyed the variety of situations and positions, not to mention the numerous perspectives.

Then she started writing it. Her world has never been the same since.

'Twice Shy' is Jill Christie's first published work. Check out her website. Or you can follow her (slightly) less prurient alter ego, Jill C Flanagan on twitter (@JillCFlanagan).

Chapter One

The weathered ‘Bandit Creek Welcomes You’ sign appeared by the side of the road. Stacy wished she had a shotgun to blow it away.

Westcott noticed her tension even though his eyes were searching for the exit from the highway. “It’s all good, lovey.”

Stacy slanted a frown at West and raised an eyebrow. He chuckled, knowing she hated the phrase. Annoying her would lessen her unease.

Stacy gritted her teeth at well-worn clichés and lies. She liked the truth, even if painful. She preferred being open and honest, but hardly ever blunt. Her voice was always soft and clear, like she bathed it in honey.

At first glance, she looked trapped in the 70’s: a hippy chick/new-age wannabe. Upon closer inspection, the tailoring became apparent. Gauzy or gently flowing dresses and skirts and shirts, always nipped in at the waist and molding perfectly around her bust. She was a curvy 50’s pin-up in a tailored 70’s wardrobe. West was a young man during the era, and the clothes were ugly then and tacky now. Not on Stacy. Somehow it worked on her.

“I’m reverting back to my sixteen-year-old self. Pretty scary, West.”

“We talked about this…”

She cut him off. “My head is aware I’m not being logical. You know the backwashy taste in your mouth? Not quite nausea, but close?” West nodded. Stacy continued, “I know I should be over it. I know I feel this way because it’s the way I reacted the last time I was in this hellhole. Putting the knowledge into practice is another thing, though.”

West looked over at his Stacy and wished he could have done this trip for her. “Well, fake it ’til you make it.”

Stacy punched him in the arm, and her lips curved upwards slightly. She knew he was pissing her off on purpose. Poking at the obvious buttons. West was putting her in cliché purgatory as a diversionary tactic. She forced a smile again. “Love you, you old bastard.”

West clasped her hand and squeezed with a brief pulse before he downshifted and took the first exit into her past.

Welcome back.

They turned into the Super 8 and Stacy silently let out her breath. They weren’t staying at The Golden Nugget, where everyone gossiped about your meal choice at dinner, who you ate with, and how many times you went to the bathroom.

They had only decided a week ago the trip had to be done. She’d never wanted or expected to return.
She had become a runaway at sixteen. She had been lucky; she had somewhere to go. The new beginning turned out to be the best thing for Stace. She had found somewhere she could be herself. Not be labelled a freak.

She hadn’t paid attention when West checked in. As they were walking into the hotel room she asked, “Are we in two rooms or one?”

“Adjoining, sweet.” West made a Vanna White-like move to illustrate the door. Much campier than his normal behavior. He was doing everything to lighten the situation. Stacy’s heart melted at the thought. He put his valise on the bed and stated, “If we manage to get what we want in a day or two, Tim won’t join us. If we take longer, then…”

Stacy nodded. Tim and West couldn’t bear to be apart for long. Tim, especially, suffered in West’s absence. 
“How about I go next door while you give him a call? A full five bars on my phone means the coverage isn’t bad here.”

West shook his head. “I’ve texted him. I’ll ring him later, he’s busy with the club tonight since we’re away.”

That meant West was saving the conversation so the talk would turn into a long, lusty and private call. One with orders and maybe a little cock-and-ball torture in store for Tim. Stacy smiled, and added a bit of self-pity to the ton of emotions already roiling inside of her. Wistful and hoping she would one day be rewarded with the type of relationship Tim and West had. They’d been together for over ten years. A Master and submissive, who co-owned the club where Stacy worked managing the bar staff.

They were the gag-and-vomit type of happy 99% of the time. At other times they were committed and working out whatever they needed to. Stacy had benefited from their domestic bliss and was pleased for them. Except when she was navel-gazing and self-pitying, anyway.

“After, we’ll demolish a bottle of wine and wait for Sarge. Then we can get a plan of attack.”

Stacy nodded, breathing in deeply. She centered herself, took her time and became calmer, trying to let go of the anxiety. She emulated her Domme mindset by putting a steel rod into her spine and bringing her shoulders back. Reasserting her identity. Stacy was Miss S. Not forgetting who she used to be, but welcoming who she became.

West crinkled his warm hazel eyes, gazing knowingly at her. His look conveyed his belief in her. Confidence and confrontation were her strengths now. She hoped the surprise attack they planned to launch on “the bitch” would give them what they needed for Stacy to move on.

Sarge was a key component of the plan.

With her balance intact, Stacy nodded and gave West the first genuine smile since they’d decided on the trip to Bandit Creek. “I can’t wait ’til Sarge gets here. It’s been months. I wish he’d just move down to California with us and forget about the Powder Horn Saloon. I’m sure he would get a good price. He needs to sell and retire. Or something.”

West didn’t comment. Didn’t have to. Sarge would do what he wanted when he wanted to, no sooner. All three of them at had at one time tried to convince their favorite ex-army blowhard to move down. Sarge became intractable when questioned, and refused to tell them why he preferred to stay in Bandit Creek. It continued to be a mystery, but to be tackled another day. There would be enough to deal with soon without worrying over Sarge’s secrets.

Once they both settled, Stacy re-entered West’s room through the adjoining door and cracked open the bottle of wine. They talked about nothing important avoiding the subject until Sarge came. They thankfully didn’t need to wait long.

Stacy watched Sarge as he moseyed in, taking his time, taking the place in with his eyes, ever calculating. Sarge looked the same as always. His face had been stuck in middle-age ever since she’d known him, his skin weathered, deep smile lines bracketing his lips of his weathered skin. It had always amazed her how a man with thinning hair and pale blue eyes radiated such calm and self-assuredness. Sarge was appealingly grizzled, with his muscular frame, and was shorter than average. But he looked taller due to the way he carried himself.

West, aka Westcott Knowles, was six feet and wiry. With hazel eyes and silky coffee-colored hair that was worn slightly too long, giving him a rakish air. He was meticulously casual. Tim always complained to Stacy how long West took to get ready in the morning. He looked younger than his forty-seven years, his sprayed-on tan giving him a glowing visage.

Stacy thought about making a little small talk but decided to just get down to business and asked, “She still drinking most of her paycheck?”

“Nothin’ much has changed, ’cept she’s getting older. Still looks pretty hot considerin’ how much she’s abused her body. More cougar-like now. Goin’ after the younger ’uns.”

Not surprising. “She have a regular guy in her life right now? And do we have to worry about him?”

Stacy referred to Mary’s talent for playing the damsel in distress. A certain type of man liked rescuing women. It was her mother’s favorite flavor of man. LOVE THIS SENTENCE Mary had a way of making the most ludicrous story plausible. Which meant if Mary went into the Powder Horn to pick up her pay, and she had a knight-in-a-shining-cowboy-hat in tow, the situation could easily become unmanageable. Mr. Cowboy Knight usually believed whatever Mary said.

Violence would ensue. The knight always fought for the maiden. Until he wised up, anyway.

The last thing Stacy, West or Sarge wanted was for the reunion to devolve into a physical fight. Their goal was Stacy’s birth certificate. Mary’s drama had to be managed.

Sarge answered, “She just broke up with a guy. He got sick of her shit. They sometimes still hook up. Billy shouldn’t be there. And if he is, he won’t be any trouble.”

Problem was, Mary hated being cornered. If the male du jour wasn’t around to defend her, rescuing her from persecution with fists or bluster, she would revert to her alternate weapons: manipulation, lies, guilt, evasion and even cruelty.

Stacy had the ability to handle those. She’d had sixteen years of practice. In the intervening time, her natural dominance and self-assurance had been nurtured. But the thought of confronting dear old Mom made her tired. The clock showed ten p.m., and she’d only had one glass of wine. Exhaustion filled her bones with an achiness which mimicked the sensation of ’flu.

Stacy stood and walked over to the two of them. “I’m exhausted. I’m going to go to bed.” She kissed and hugged each of them and whispered “Love you” into West’s ear and “Thank you” into Sarge’s.

After Stacy left, Sarge made eye contact with West and shook his head. “This could be a clusterfuck, Westcott. Mary an’ the truth don’t reside in the same zip code.”

West sighed. “I’m worried for Stacy’s mental well-being. This is going to be difficult for her, but she needs a resolution to this. I hope Mary cooperates for Stacy’s peace of mind.”

“An’ if you cain’t get the answers Stacy needs?”

West remembered those first few months after Stacy had come to live with them. She hadn’t even owned enough belongings to fill an overnight case.

After a time, Tim had started the process of ordering a copy of Stacy’s birth certificate. They found no record of a Stacy Jones born in Montana on or near her birth date. Further investigation from a private detective revealed the same with a wider search. This weekend was about finding out the truth. No matter what. Either way West and Tim would take care of their own. Stacy was their family.

They had found ways around the situation. They had managed to get her into a high school with a bit of finagling. Work-wise, she worked under the table for them. But both he and Tim wanted their Stacy to have the freedom to do anything she chose to do. West and Tim both considered her their daughter.

“Tim and I discussed this extensively. We will try to obtain a ghosted identity if this doesn’t work. We’ve got a lot of connections. Hopefully it’s a matter of paying the right money to the wrong people.”

Sarge stood. “We know she’s gotta helluva lot of potential. She shoulda gone ta college. Papers like that’re mebbe good for regular jobs. Wouldn’t stand up to security screenin’s though. No passport without frettin’ about gettin’ caught. I know Mary shouldn’ have ever had a kid. She’s not a terrible person, but she did some truly horrible things to Stacy. I hav ta get to work, make sure Mary shows up on time and Cotton don’t intimidate the customers.” He stretched and went to walk to the door. Stopped halfway and turned back.

West raised an eyebrow at him.

“There’s ’nother potential problem. Brendan’s in town. Surer than farts from a cow he’ll find out our Stace is here.”

West expelled an annoyed breath and said sadly, “This is going to be even harder for our girl. My poor, poor little girl. As if she doesn’t have enough to deal with.”