“Dedication” — Excerpt from TRACE OF INNOCENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

ToIWhat happens when you bring together the best independent forensic lab in the country, one of the leading pathologists and criminal profilers in the world, and a Federal agent with a very unique skill set, and a gun loaded with Slayer bullets?

Welcome to Witch Hollow!

A decade-old cold case is about to get brand new life. Only problem is, the prime suspect has no criminal history, and swears she had nothing to do with the murder. When she convinces one of Faith’s team to help her, the future of the entire lab hangs in the balance. If the evidence proves them wrong, everything they’ve worked for could come crashing down.

“Dedication” — Excerpt from TRACE OF INNOCENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book #4) –

“How’s it going, Joyce?” He smiled at the redhead currently frowning at her computer screen. “Where’s Mac?”

Joyce rolled her eyes, then returned her attention to the screen. “Autopsy, where else? We got a possible suicide in, earlier this evening, and you know Faith. It’s going to be another long night. Lucky me, I got stuck with babysitting detail.”

Jonathan’s lips quirked up in a half-smile. It didn’t take him long after he started working with the Bunker crew to figure out Joyce covered concern with sarcasm and sass. He didn’t blame her for being concerned, though he wasn’t about to admit to anyone how concerned he was. Mac would have his head, if she found out. “She does take dedication to the extreme, doesn’t she?”

Joyce looked up at him, then, and her gaze assessed him, before a sad smile twitched at her lips. “Like a dog with a fresh bone. But,” she sighed, and shook her head. “I can’t really blame her. She moved back here to take care of her father, and stayed because her uncle made it clear he needed her here. He even built and funded this facility for her, to keep her close. But now that Ramsey’s gone, and with her only living family on another continent, the Bunker and her work are all she has left. Faith needs someone to need her, and whether she admits it or not, she sees each of these victims as needing her. This gives her purpose.”

Something he’d already figured out for himself, and hearing Joyce confirm his assessment wasn’t the relief he imagined. Mac spent all her time focusing on other people’s needs so she could avoid her own life. He was glad her team was so dedicated to her. Mac needed friends who understood her drive. He already knew most of the Law Enforcement community she dealt with thought she was overbearing and a step shy of terrifying. More than a few probably thought she was crazy, too. Having him in her corner probably didn’t help her reputation any, either. He was well aware most of his colleagues at the FBI thought he lost the plot a long time ago. They just didn’t say anything, because no matter how insane they thought him, they respected his case closure and conviction rate. Results spoke volumes. Still, it didn’t halt the whispers. And those whispers were what brought him out to the Bunker, tonight.

He sighed. “Thanks, Joyce. You can go on home. I’ve got this.”

Her eyes widened in momentary surprise, before understanding dawned, and she heaved a sigh. “I know what that means. And, for the record, I think you’re both nuts.”

He shrugged and headed down the short hallway toward the autopsy room. He couldn’t argue with Joyce’s assessment. There were times he questioned his own sanity.

“Bombshell” — Excerpt from UP IN FLAMES (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

UIF

What happens when you bring together the best independent forensic lab in the country, one of the leading pathologists and criminal profilers in the world, and a Federal agent with a very unique skill set, and a gun loaded with Slayer bullets?

Welcome to Witch Hollow!

A serial arsonist’s path of destruction has turned into bizarre murder, and when local Law Enforcement decides they’re in over their heads, the case is turned over to the FBI’s resident expert on the bizarre, and the only forensic lab in the country equipped to handle tracking down a madman backed by one of the world’s largest religious organizations. Are Faith and her team ready for what they’re about to uncover?

“Bombshell” – Excerpt from UP IN FLAMES (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book #2) -

Joe stared in disbelief at the towhead little boy with the impish grin who stood in the doorway. Shock radiated through Joe in waves, and a terror unlike any he ever felt pushed through him. Even the nightmares of a downed plane in a burning field couldn’t suck the air from him, this way. Surely, she would have told him…

“Hi!” The kid didn’t seem to share his hesitance, his grin widening as he half-swung from the door handle. Clearly, the boy was a livewire, and the concept of standing still foreign to him. Joe pegged him at about four or five years old. And he didn’t want to think she’d moved on quite that quickly.

“Joey, how many times do I have to tell you to not open—“ Joyce’s scolding Texas twang died off in a horrified gasp as she rounded the end of the staircase. She froze, the dish towel in her hand dropping to the floor at her feet, and a panic in her eyes Joe couldn’t find explanation for. “Omigod. Joe.”

She flew into motion, snatching the boy back to her, and the wariness in her eyes punched Joe in the gut, hard, even before she demanded, “What are you doing here?”

He frowned. This didn’t sound like the Joyce he knew. “I stopped by the Bunker, and Faith told me you went home. We got a break in the case. Mark identified the accelerant.”

He saw her tense, her grasp on the little boy tightening, as his gaze dropped curiously to the kid again. His frown deepened, and he couldn’t halt the flash of betrayal. “You never told me you got married.”

She sucked in an audible breath, then sighed heavily. “I’m not married.”

Those words jogged another detail into place, and something she said before hit him at last. Joey. She called the kid Joey. A blond little boy with a daredevil’s fearlessness. Five years… Aw, hell.

His gaze lifted to hers, and the fear in her eyes suddenly make a hell of a lot more sense.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

She didn’t back down, her chin lifted proudly. That was the Joyce Lindon he knew. Joe nearly smiled, until her next words wiped away every trace of humor.

“Because I didn’t want you to know. I’d think that was obvious.”

“Deadly Alliance” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus)

InHerNameCoverArtMatthew Raleigh knows Hell intimately. He’s been there too many times in the past, and he’ll do anything to avoid going back again. A former SEAL determined to bring hope to the hopeless, Matt formed Project Prometheus, a mercenary organization dedicated to eradicating terror. But his own prejudice against the supernatural could cost Matt the only thing he’s ever wanted — love.

“Deadly Alliance”  – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus, Book #1)

They were nearing Nineveh.  She could feel the energy within her rise, and her power come flooding back.  Black Widow glanced at the man driving the battered old jeep and triumph bubbled through her.  Once she told Ra’id that his slut of a little sister was on her way to Nineveh, she had his complete attention and cooperation.

“They’re on foot, Ra’id,” she reminded him wryly as she steadied herself with one hand on the dashboard again.  “I think it’s safe to slow down.”

He shot her a scowl.  “If you had done as you were told and sat in the back—”

“I’d be laying back there in the sand somewhere.  Don’t give me that crap about a woman’s proper place,” she snapped.  “This is my proper place.  And you don’t have to break land speed records to get there.  She’s not going to beat us to the temple.”

His face twisted derisively.  “You do not know these women as I do.  Especially not the little virgin.  They all have evil powers that they use to ensnare men.  They can appear suddenly, far from where you believe them to be to torment any man they choose.  My father told me this.”

Black Widow bit back a laugh.  Ra’id believed that the Daughters of the Star of Heaven were evil!  What would he think if he knew he’d made a pact with the Devil – a pact to become the Devil?

“She’s not a virgin anymore,” she said instead, taking glee in the darkening of Ra’id’s scowl.  Apparently, the desire to murder one’s sister was immaterial when it came to her interaction with the opposite sex.  Ra’id looked protective as all hell.

“How do you know this thing?”  He demanded sharply.

A sadistic smile twisted her lips.  She wasn’t about to let him know the truth.  “You have your spies; I have mine.”

He cast her a disgusted look.  “If she is no longer a virgin, then she is no longer a threat.”

“You fool!”  Black Widow hissed, sitting upright sharply.  “As long as she remains alive, the Poet-Priestess is a threat.  Didn’t you read those incantations on the tablets?”

“Fiction,” he dismissed her words with a condescending sneer.  “All that is of any value in those tablets is the location of the hidden door.”

She laughed darkly.  “Keep telling yourself that, sugar.  In the meantime, we need to remain alert.  Even if you don’t believe your sister is a threat, the man who travels with her is.”

His attention snapped to her.  “What man is this?”

“A man you’ve already killed.”

As Ra’id’s face paled, Black Widow sat back, satisfied that she’d at last convinced Ra’id she was serious.  She needn’t tell him that she could control Matthew if she wished.  Ra’id wasn’t going to live long enough for that to make a difference to him.

Like what your read?  IN HER NAME is available now at Desert Breeze Publishing!

“The Hit” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

TamiaCoverMarine Captain Tamia Kuan is no stranger to war. Raised in war-torn Tibet, and then turned loose with the street gangs of Old San Francisco, Tamia is living proof that no matter the crisis, the strong will survive. On the streets, she learned to bury her heart to survive, and, but the end of the world war known as the Divide, that survival depended on no longer having a heart at all. But one man’s doubt in her innocence will turn the tables on her, and force her to free her heart. For, in the midst of one of the deadliest counterespionage missions of her life, the one thing that saves her life could be love.

“The Hit” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book #1)

            Tamia lay in the rafters of the old Columbian factory, her weapon resting against her chest and belly as she stared at the ceiling and waited for Gypsy’s signal that she and Cali had arrived.  Eyes closed, Tamia drew a deep breath and mouthed a prayer chant from her childhood as she sought strength.  Kuron would probably skin her as a blasphemer if he heard it.  He’d be scandalized that she’d use a Buddhist chant – words of peace and life – as weapons of war and destruction.  But she’d use whatever she had at her disposal to get this done right.  The world was at stake.
 

            A tiny series of beeps sounded in her ear – Morse code never seemed to fade out of war completely – and rolled swiftly onto her stomach in the loft to rest the barrel of her rifle against the wooden ledge.  Peering through the gun’s sight, she drew shallow breaths, even behind her soundproof mask, and steadied herself as she watched and waited.

            The door below opened, and Tamia tensed.  This was it.  She heard Gypsy’s soft voice float through the air, and then the deeper voice of a man, just before Hector Cali stepped through the door and into Tamia’s sights.  Her weapon trained on his head, she squeezed the trigger and the sniper rifle kicked against her shoulder as Cali jerked and fell, a red dot in the center of his forehead.

           Gypsy stepped forward and stooped to place two fingers against the side of the downed man’s neck.  After a moment, she sketched a cross in the air above his body, and then rose to her feet and gave Tamia a thumbs-up.

            Tamia released her breath in a sigh of relief as she rolled to her back again tapped the COMlink on her belt.

            “Striker to Tin Roof.  Dinner’s over; come and get us.”

          “Affirmative,” came Frank’s voice over the ‘link.  “Rendezvous LZ.  We’ll be waiting.”

            Tamia acknowledged him, and slid forward, feet first.  She pushed over the edge and dropped the ten feet from the loft to the concrete factory floor, to land in a crouch.  Swiftly, she rose to her feet and signaled Gypsy, who didn’t have the advantage of a COMlink or any protection in that peasant dress, as she turned toward the loading dock.

            One down, three to go, including Coramaz.

Get your copy of TAMIA, and more of the Underground series, through my website!

“Memories” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

Project Prometheus BadgeTrevor Watkins is the miracle of the hour; the survivor of an unassisted coma. But he awakes in a strange place, with few memories – including the smiling face of a woman with jade-green eyes he has a dreadful feeling he’s supposed to hate. Trapped in a living nightmare from which he believes there is no escape, he finds himself face-to-face with a betrayal he can’t help but forgive, and a secret he can’t hide from. Now, the jade-eyed beauty from his past can set him free, if he is willing to let her step into a world that could take her away from him forever.

 

“Memories” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Book #3)

Senses he didn’t understand told Trevor Watkins that there was someone outside the door, even before it opened.  He had no idea where the heightened sensations came from, but sight, sound, and smell were intensified to the point of overload.  He smelled fear, deep and earthy, and the salty scent of grief.  He could hear a heartbeat, loud and fast, and female.  Whoever she was, the woman on the other side of that door had something to hide.

The door opened, the motion a badly needed distraction for his growing disquiet.  He didn’t like the emotions and sensations whirling in his mind.  He was edgy and out of place, unable to remember how he came to this place, or why he had these strange senses.  He felt… well, hollow.  That hollowness terrified him and comforted him at the same time.  It told him he once had a life, full of friends and family.  What scared him most was that all the people he should know were strangers to him.  He agreed to see the psychiatrist only because he wanted – no, he needed – his past.  He was lost without it.

One glimpse of the woman in the doorway, however, convinced him that desire, at least, was not confined to his past.  Her warm, cinnamon scent filled his lungs, and his body responded with a primal force that nearly flattened him.  His eyes roved over her and he decided this was the closest he’d ever been to perfection.  She was tall – probably only an inch or so shorter than his own six-foot stature – with shapely legs that, beneath the starched hem of her uniform skirt, seemed to go on forever.  Her skin was the flawless, lightly burnished tone of a deep tan; but why did he think she was that same shade all over?

As he studied her, his eyes narrowed.  He picked up the scent of fear and guilt again, and heard the subtle alteration of her breathing.  Then she shifted, and he became aware of her body, beneath that regulation uniform, all toned curves and supple lines.  No woman he saw in the past year could carry off the pure white of a Naval uniform like this woman could.  She had smooth, high-boned features, and full, lush lips that made him think of sultry whispers and sinful kisses.  Her head was held proudly erect, the raven-wing hair coiled into a tight braid around her head.  The image of his hands, tangled in dark, waist-length hair, assaulted Trevor and cranked his already-elevated temperature up another degree.  Who was she?  The flash of vulnerability, and confirmation of guilt, in her amazing jade-green eyes sent a chill of fear through Trevor.  They obviously had a past, but for the life of him, he couldn’t recall what it was.

“Hello, Trevor,” she greeted him familiarly, confirming his fear.  Her voice, even softened by pain and uncertainty, lanced through him in a way nothing since he awakened had.

He blinked at her, suddenly afraid to know who she was, or how they hurt each other.  Maybe, he realized with a shiver of apprehension, not remembering the past was a good thing.

Read the story that started it all in IN HER NAME, available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“Trooper’s Crusader” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

TamiaCoverThis excerpt introduces a character who, while not a Commando, will become very important to their hunt for the Mole in the Security Network. The character of Carey Feldar is based in large part on a very dear friend of mine whom we always joked would have made an excellent reporter. No one got to the bottom of an issue more thoroughly, even if he was a bit of a conspiracy nut…

“Trooper’s Crusader” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book #1)

Barely five minutes after she settled herself into one of the plush lounge chairs, she heard someone enter the room, and looked up to find a man in his mid-thirties leaning against the doorframe, a curious expression on his stubbly face.  His strawberry-blond hair was in disarray, and his half-hearted attempt at a suit was rumpled enough to convince her that he’d slept in it at least once.

“You’re the lady asking about the Altura piece?”  He sounded suspicious.

“Yes.  My father left some paperwork—”

“I’m not as gullible as Pete, out there,” he snapped as he stepped the rest of the way into the room, and the glass door slid shut behind him.

Tamia straightened instantly as a shot of fear skimmed through her veins.  “Who the hell are you?”

“Carey Feldar.”

She gasped.  She’d heard of him.  Carey Feldar was one of print news’ top-rated war correspondents during the Divide, and the troops were always eager to talk to him.  He was sympathetic to their troubles – “the Trooper’s Crusader,” they called him.  Feldar won four Pulitzers for his coverage of the disaster in Montreal.  “The Carey Feldar?”

He smirked.  “There sure as hell ain’t two of me, honey.  And I’m the man who snapped this pic,” he held up the clipping she’d given Pete.  Feldar’s eyes narrowed.  “I know who you are, too, Lieutenant.”

“Captain,” she corrected automatically, and then sighed.  “Okay, so I was there.  I didn’t really want to advertise that fact, Mr. Feldar.”

“I’d already figured that out, but I think I’m going to enjoying hearing why.”  A brief grin slashed his face, and was gone.  “And congratulations on your promotion.”

She glanced around.  “Is there somewhere else we can talk about this?  I need some information from you, about that photo.”

His gaze fell to the clipping in his hand again, and he frowned.  “Why do I get the feeling it isn’t aesthetic appreciation that brought you here?”

“Because it’s not,” she confirmed grimly.  “It’s a lot more important than that.”

He looked resigned, but interested.  “So what’s in it for me?”

“The chance to help prevent another war.”

He smirked.  “Haven’t you heard, Captain?  War means news.  Why would I want to put myself out of a job?”

“Because you’re playing a game with me, and maybe even yourself, right now.  You’re the Trooper’s Crusader, and that wasn’t a title you earned, or ever took, lightly.”  She met his green eyes head-on, reading the discomfort there.  “You saw enough of war and death to never want to see more.”

His shoulders slumped as he nodded.  “All right, you got me there.  Let’s go on up to my office.  I’ve got plenty to show you.”

Find out more about this and other books in the Underground series on my website!

“The Gathering Storm” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus)

InHerNameCoverArtIf you’ve been wondering how Project Prometheus came to be… The story starts in 9000 BCE, when five Elders of a Temple charged with maintaining the balance between our world and the Otherworld faced a fierce army of invaders, led by a power-hungry priest determined to become a god. With each reincarnation of the Elders, the battle for the portal between worlds has grown closer. But it all began with a storm…

“The Gathering Storm” – Excerpted from Project Prometheus: IN HER NAME

Aermórnosa, Ali-Antos, 9000 B.C.E.

A storm brewed on the horizon.  From the turret above the city walls, Sargon could see its fury out over the sea.  Electricity prickled along his arms and neck, and he knew this was no ordinary storm.  Energy hummed on the wind that carried in from the sea. Already the waves grew high and violent around the port of the city below.  This was a storm forged of magical power, and that meant only one thing…

            “They are coming.”

            The Akkadian didn’t need to turn to know that four others joined him along the high turret walls.  They were joined by bonds of power, the power they had sworn to protect, he and these other Elders.  Each had left home and family, casting aside their pasts for this calling.  As one, they felt this moment arrive, and they were not surprised.

            “Onuris has gathered his faithful.  The Brotherhood are on the waves,” the voice that spoke beside him was deep and steady, though touched with a concern that caused Sargon’s brow to raise as he turned his gaze from the rapidly darkening sky to the giant at his right.  Lugh was a wise man, known to speak his mind.  Lugh’s talented hands crafted the magic that protected them all, and only he knew the correct combination of nine elemental properties that created that magic.  And Lugh, the master craftsman, had molded the sacred objects housed within the Crophines Astenim.

            Sargon turned restlessly to face the ocean once again as the ground rumbled beneath his feet.  He didn’t like this.  It took a tremendous amount of power to disrupt an entire ocean.

            “They are stronger than we believed.”  This came from behind him, the only female voice among them.  The Gatekeeper, Csilla, stepped forward, her soft tones wavering with the tension they all felt.  This was the moment they all dreaded, the moment when time returned to them.  Death was not an option as long as their charges remained unhidden.

            Through Sargon pulsed the flame of battle, and he could hear the drums of war growing louder.  Onuris glutted his minions on the blood of nations, filled his own greedy maw with the souls of the dead and damned until his power rivaled even the Gods’.  Still, Onuris wanted more.  He wanted the Portal of Kronos to make himself immortal.

            Sargon’s eyes narrowed.  He would see to it that Onuris never unlocked the Portal or any of the secrets of Aermórnosa.  His mazes and traps lined the walls and floors of the Crophines, and Lugh’s magic sealed over those.  Still, the artifacts remained.  They must make certain the artifacts, which opened the Portal, could not be reached and put into the hands of Onuris or his Brotherhood.

            “We must go.”  Mykalos, their Healer, voiced his very thought.

            Sargon nodded.  “Our charges must not remain on the island.  Take all but the fifth key.  Take your charges and hide them far away from this place and use whatever means you must to make certain they do not fall into the Brotherhood’s hands.”

            He turned to study each face in turn and knew they thought as he did.  Once they left this place, the time they once abandoned in their service would begin again and they would possess only one immortality – the very thing that Onuris fed on – their souls.

            Grimly aware of the closing jaws of Fate, Sargon pushed away from the wall and strode toward the Crophines.  As the First Elder, Prometheus gave up his immortality and risked the wrath of the Gods to save humanity from the darkness, so too would they risk the same to preserve creation from destruction.  It was a price he knew they all paid willingly.

Like what you read here?  You can find IN HER NAME at Desert Breeze Publishing!