“Monday’s Ghost” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

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One of my favorite Project Prometheus characters to write has, since this moment when he’s first introduced, been Jordan Watkins. As a child, he’s endearing, precocious, and just has a lot of real character in him. Later, as a teen and an adult, that combination makes for a man with a profound sense of self and what he wants in life.

 “Monday’s Ghost” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Atlantis Silver, Book #3) –

It was a typical Monday morning, Lieutenant Commander Jaye Michaels decided with a glance at her watch as she navigated the cluttered family room she never had time to clean, anymore.  At the foot of the stairs, she hollered, “Jordan!  C’mon, you’re going to be late!”

I’m going to be late.  Normally, a few minutes behind wasn’t a problem for her.  Even the United States Navy cut clinical psychiatrists a little slack; especially those decorated for valor she never felt less deserving of than she did this morning.  Not when the day loomed ahead of her like an executioner’s axe.  After two and a half long, terror-filled years of holding her breath and praying, she finally acquired the most important case of her life, on Friday.  Today, she would come face-to-face with a ghost.

Jordan!

A thoroughly put-upon sigh answered her from the second floor, and Jaye bit back a harried laugh as she made her way back to the kitchen.  Nine years old was just far too young to be so contrary.

A few minutes later, the heavy thud of sneakers clomped dejectedly down the carpeted stairs, and a thoroughly antagonized Jordan, his sweater on backwards again, appeared in the kitchen doorway, small frown lines denting his forehead.  Jaye smiled at him even as tender pain lodged in her heart.  He looked so much like his father, with his caramel-colored skin and dark amber eyes.  Only his high cheekbones and smooth, raven-wing hair came from her.

“I don’t need to go to school,” he protested with all the vehemence of nine-and-omniscient, followed by a hopeful look that pained her.  “Why can’t I go with you, instead?”

Jaye flashed him a tolerant smile as she slathered bread with Jordan’s two favorite food groups – peanut butter and apple jelly.  Sighing, she realized it was one more constant reminder of his father.

“Because you have to go to school, so you can learn how to do all that fun stuff you want to do, kiddo.  And I have to go to work.”  To beg forgiveness for my life.  Tension returned to coil between her shoulder blades, making her wince.

“Now, turn your shirt around so the tag is in back and find your book bag.”  She handed him his lunchbox – predictably Star Wars, like everything else in her son’s life – and offered him an encouraging smile as she ruffled his hair affectionately.  “Buck up, short-stuff.  Just think what you’ll be able to do once you get school over with.”

He brightened on cue as he struggled into his thick winter coat.

“I want to be a pilot, Mom.  Can I fly a jet, like on base?”  She winced again, acutely aware of her son’s love of fighter planes.  Her memories of watching fighters take off and land at Andrew’s Air Force Base were bittersweet, at best.  It was a regular pastime of theirs, thanks to Jordan’s rapt fascination.  She couldn’t deny him something that gave him so much joy, but a fearful knot tightened in her gut to know she fed his desire to rush into danger.  Jaye smiled wanly, unwilling to quash his dreams with her own reservations.

“You can be anything you want to be, honey.”

He grew pensive as he followed her silently through the house toward the front door.  “Mom?”

“What, babe?”  She asked distractedly as she shrugged into her coat and snagged her purse and the keys to her Toyota Corolla.

“Can I be like Dad?”

The unexpected question brought Jaye up short, and her eyes squeezed shut.  Good God, she hoped not.

Find out how it all begins… IN HER NAME, available now from Desert Breeze Publishing.

From The Pages: A glimpse from TAMIA (Underground, Book 1)

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Pick up your copy of TAMIA today at http://www.amazon.com/Tamia-Underground-Book-Esther-Mitchell-ebook/dp/B004TCVC02/ or find out more about Esther Mitchell and her books at www.esthermitchell.com

New Book & Series Trailers

Thought I’d share a few of the trailers I recently completed with you, here. The following are from some of my currently available books/series…

Enjoy! :)

And my favorite of the new trailers…

More to come, as I get them completed… As always, please leave comments and let me know what you think. :)

White Knights Need Not Apply: Exploring Romance and Human Emotion

It’s not every girl’s dream to be rescued, or to have a White Knight ride in and take her away (I won’t even talk about slaying dragons, since I’ll just get myself whacked upside the head for that! :) ).  But that doesn’t mean Romance doesn’t appeal to all women, no matter the size, shape, age, or sexual orientation… And certainly no matter how much one might protest or claim otherwise.

Some of us are quite capable of solving our own problems, tilting at our own windmills, and facing our own demons.  Some of us kick ass when it comes to taking care of our business, and we certainly don’t need another person to step in and save the day.  We’ve got it well under control, thank you very much. And you’ll rarely know if we don’t.

But does that mean we want to spend our lives alone, or facing an existence built on something dull and lifeless, or even frightening?  Of course not.

Every girl dreams of being a princess (even if some of us are more Xena than Sleeping Beauty). Not literally, of course, but at least in the eyes of someone else.  We want to be special, to be seen as someone beautiful, awe-inspiring, and beloved. We want to feel as if we’re the most important person in someone’s life, and to know that they compare every other woman they meet to us, and find those others lacking.

It’s hardwired into us to crave grand gestures of love and affection – some symbol that tells the world just how special we are to someone else.  For a lot of women, that’s what an engagement ring is all about.  It’s what lavish weddings are all about.

Plenty of people (women included) scoff at romantic fiction.  They call it trash, written porn, smut, etc, etc.  I can promise you this – none of those people have ever actually read a romance novel, without allowing their preconceived notions of the genre to color their reading.

Are there novels that are explicit?   Of course there are.  But then, there are Horror novels that are graphic about blood and terror.  There are adventure and action novels that are over-the-top with violence.  Crime novels that are almost too ghastly and grisly with their details, to read (I should know… I write them!).

So, what is it about Romance that sends people running?  Could it be the unwillingness to face their own deeply buried desire to be truly loved?  Perhaps it’s that they’re stuck in our prudish society’s mindset that anything involving sex should be shunned.

Personally, I think it’s the former.  Porn is a billion-dollar industry for a reason… People don’t have a problem with sex.  People have a problem with love.  The idea of facing your own emotions, of admitting that you want more, that you’re looking for something spiritual as well as physical, is something that sends a lot of people (both male and female) running for their lives.  They’re afraid to want, for fear they might never find what they’re looking for.

Romance novels are about more than sex.  They’re about connection, about love that’s true, deep, and abiding.  About the emotions that are tangled up inside of sexual desire, and about letting go of the desire, to get at one’s heart and soul.  And they make us face our own wants and needs – make us step up and say, “Yes, I do want more from life than just sex.”  They’re not about perfect people, or larger-than-life situations.  They’re about ordinary people who discover the most extraordinary gift of life – the ability to love and be loved.  In short, Romance novels are about every girl’s dream come true – not the perfect man or woman(after all, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” person), but the perfect match of two hearts and two souls.

So the next time you have the opportunity to pick up a Romance novel and read it, I suggest you do.  You might just learn something about yourself, along the way. :)

Heart

“Lights in the Night” – Excerpt from FROM THE SKY (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

WH14 From the SkyWhat 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!

When two planes that shouldn’t have been anywhere near each other collide in the middle of the night sky, the FAA suspects terrorism. But when they turn their investigation over to the FBI, the evidence lands the case with the Bureau’s resident expert on the bizarre, and the highly-trained experts at the Bunker. Can they unravel the clues, without reaching beyond the boundaries of Earth?

 

“Lights in the Night” – Excerpt from FROM THE SKY (Guardians, Inc.: Witch Hollow, Book 14) -

 

“It’s irrational to think that a race of beings intelligent enough to figure out how to break not only their own planet’s gravitational pull, but also the boundaries of their star system, and travel light years to get to ours, would be the least bit interested in examining or communicating with a few culturally and politically insignificant individuals, out of the whole planet.”

Joyce propped her head on her hand, where she sat at Faith’s lab table, watching her friend pace. “Faith, we specialize in cases most of the scientific world dismisses as little more than fairy tales. What’s ‘rational,’ anymore?”

“Okay,” Jonathan straightened from where he sat on the edge of Faith’s desk. “Let’s just assume, for the moment, Mac’s right. There are plenty of completely terrestrial explanations for the accident. Let’s focus on those, unless we discover otherwise. What’ve we got, Mac?”

Faith moved around the desk, and her fingers flew over the computer keyboard. “The information sent over by the FAA from the black box and CVR on the initiating craft rules out any mechanical, electrical, or pilot error issues. According to the FAA, the last radio call to the ground was garbled, but something about the pilot being blinded by some kind of sudden light source.”

Jonathan settled back, flipping open his notebook. “Eyewitnesses told crash investigators they saw ‘weird, flashing lights’ just prior to the crash, too. One person described it as ‘fireworks without the sound’ and others claimed it was more like strobe lights.”

“So,” Joyce looked between them, one brow raised in query, “if it’s not a UFO, just what the hell is it?”

 

“On Display” – Excerpt from HER MOTHER’S LIGHT (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

WH11 Her Mother's Light

 

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!

When Dr. Faith MacKenzie’s friend is accused of murdering and mutilating three men in a ritualistic “witchcraft” sacrifice, she and her team must prove this modern witch-hunt false, and find the real killer – before he or she strikes again. But when her friend’s past comes to light, can Faith accept what the evidence is telling her?

 

“On Display” – Excerpt from HER MOTHER’S LIGHT (Guardians, Inc.: Witch Hollow, Book 11) -

She frowned and quickly assessed the scene as she gloved up. Her gaze landed finally on the body spread-eagled in the center of the barn floor. Almost as if the victim was displayed to find.

“I don’t understand.” She glanced toward her partner as he finished up his call with Haitsburg PD.

Jonathan put his phone away and joined her. “What’s wrong, Mac?”

“There’s absolutely no attempt to cover this up. No attempt was made to conceal the body, or,” she walked the perimeter of the crime scene, studying the corpse from every angle and enough distance to get an overview of the entire scene, “disguise the brutality. Even from here, I can see his eyes are missing, and given the amount of blood on the lower half of his body, I’d say he suffered the same mutilation as the last two victims, as well.”

Jonathan swore beneath his breath. “So this is the work of a serial killer, then.”

She shrugged, and ducked under the crime scene tape, picking her way to the body’s side. “Since, by definition, a serial killer is someone who kills three or more people, yes, I’d say this qualifies. What I can’t figure out,” she crouched beside the body, easing aside the victim’s jacket to examine the level of mutilation. The arms of his jacket were all but shredded, and a variety of defensive wounds scattered across his hands and arms. Her frown deepened as she finished, “is whether or not this crime is actually sexually motivated.”

Jonathan hunkered down beside her. “Seems pretty obvious, Mac. He’s missing all the right parts to label it sexually motivated.”

She shook her head. Just like with the other bodies, her observation told her something wasn’t right about this. “Sexual crimes tend to be either sadistic or heat of the moment. This doesn’t have any of the indicators for either. He’s missing his eyes, too, and the careful way his genitals and eyes were removed suggests someone meant to preserve them. Just like the other victims.”

“That’s not sadistic enough for you?”

She spared him a glance. “If there were indications of torture or attempts to protect any region of his body but his chest, I might agree with you. Besides, there’s relatively little blood, considering his eyes were removed. If I’m right, the autopsy will show this man’s missing parts were dissected out post-mortem, just like the others’. That’s not typical of a sexual sadist. There’s no sadistic pleasure to be derived from mutilation, if the victim is already deceased.”

Jonathan frowned. “So what does it mean, then?”

Faith sat back on her heels with a sigh. “I have no idea. Not yet.”

“The Hero’s Geis” – Excerpt from HOPE OF HEAVEN (Project Prometheus)

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Their mission is to search out and bring down those who trade in terrorism, fear, and human suffering by whatever means necessary.  To do this, they must be willing to give up their freedom, and even their lives. They are a mercenary unit with a mission, and a motivation that has nothing to do with what they get paid, and everything to do with the innocent lives they save. Meet the men and women of…

Project Prometheus

 

Peter Talladay swore he’d never return to Ireland alive, until a battle with a demon in Iraq left him certain he would die a broken man. But when his boss’ wife calls in an expert on demons, and a withering disdain for mercenaries, Peter’s found a new reason to live. Now, if he can only convince determined-to-hate him Hope MacKenzie to trust him, Peter may still find the peace he’s long believed lost to him.

 

“The Hero’s Geis” – Excerpt from HOPE OF HEAVEN (Project Prometheus, Book 2) –

Peter stared thoughtfully out the window as he hung up the phone. J.R. sounded like a kid at Christmas once Peter explained his reason for calling. He rattled on excitedly about what a find they unearthed, until Peter began to wonder why only he was uneasy about this discovery. The information J.R. gave him sounded familiar — almost eerily so. Peter shivered as a chill ran down his spine. Had Sinead told him those tales before? He couldn’t remember.

Peter crossed the office to the door, and made his way toward Hope’s room. A wry grin crossed his face as he neared the closed door. Ever true to her inquisitive nature, Hope ensconced herself in her room with Sinead’s journals and books hours ago, the same excited determination in her eyes she met every challenge with. Peter shook his head in amusement. Hope was amazing, with her vibrancy and absolute determination to never fail, no matter how hard the course. She was a woman a man should be proud to have by his side. Hope MacKenzie had staying power. Bowers was a fool, Peter decided darkly. He hated the man for using Hope’s innocence, for tainting her faith in men with his cruelty. Peter hated Bowers with everything in him, because he hurt Hope.

With a grimace, Peter marshaled control of his not-so-sudden desire to kill Robert Bowers and knocked at Hope’s bedroom door. A laugh answered him from the room’s interior.

“You know you don’t have to knock, Peter,” she called out. “Come on in!”

He nearly laughed as he opened the door to a room covered in open books and piles of paper and notebooks. “Did we have a cyclone I’m unaware of?”

She offered him an impish grin in response, her face awash with an enchanting blush. “This is amazing stuff. Your mother recorded practically every waking moment of her entire life.”

Memory, like a bittersweet arrow, lanced Peter, accompanied by images of Sinead at the end of a long day, settled into her favorite rocking chair with one of her ever-present notebooks, the sitting room fireplace crackling merrily. She called those moments her labor of love. He never understood what she meant until this moment. These notebooks were precious, his connection to the woman he never really let himself know.

“Aye,” Peter whispered around the sudden lump of emotion lodged in his throat. Swallowing hard, he changed the subject. “J.R. is going to e-mail me information he thinks will help us either prove or disprove your theory as soon as he gets back from Libya.”

“What’s he doing there?” Hope was distracted, her nose buried in a book on Celtic mythology.

“He didn’t say, but it sounded like it was probably covert and dangerous.” Peter shook his head sadly. “J.R. never did learn when enough was enough, and–”

“Oh, wow! Look at this, Peter,” Hope broke in excitedly as she waved him nearer.

“Find something?” Ironic humor touched his voice. She obviously didn’t hear a word he said.

She laughed. “Oh, yeah. Listen to this: ‘The Celtic hero myth is characterized by the belief that the hero is both mortal and immortal. He is often slain in battle, but just as often resurrected by some power or object. Such is often the case when the hero is slain to repay some great debt, called a geis, as in the tale of,’ ” she drew a deep breath, and triumph flickered across her face, ” ‘Cuchulainn!’ It says that Celtic heroes are resurrected at times when they’re needed again. Amazing stuff, huh?”

“Certainly beats cryogenics.” Peter propped one hip against her desk to bury the pain that slashed through his head, and weakened his knees.

“Peter!” She scolded him, though she didn’t appear angry. “Don’t you see? Cuchulainn was known as the Lance Lord, and mythology suggests that he’ll be reborn at a time of great darkness.”

A scowl darkened Peter’s face. This all made a fascinating fairy tale, but he already knew that was all it was. Real life didn’t work that way; there wasn’t any savior waiting in the wings.

“So where was he in Nineteen-twenty-one, when Ireland was tearing herself apart at the seams?” As he saw the wounded anger in Hope’s eyes, he winced. She clearly still believed in heroes, and the power of faith. He didn’t have the heart for the truth, but he couldn’t lie to her, either. “Sorry, love. It’s not that I don’t believe in the supernatural. I can believe in spirits and Faeries and Bean Si, but once you’re dead, the condition is rather permanent.”

“Says who?” She challenged, her chin tilted defiantly. “You did it, didn’t you? And Matt Raleigh was a dead man in Lebanon, but love brought him back. Who’s to say there’s not some force capable of bringing the dead back to life?”

I do,” he rasped tightly. His fists clenched as he fought the pain that plunged through his head, and his soul. “I prayed for a miracle, for the lives of the three people who were my life to be returned to me, once. They’re still dead. There’s not a power in the universe that can raise the dead.”

Look for Hope of Heaven, coming soon from Desert Breeze Publishing. Find out how it all begins, with In Her Name, available now, from Desert Breeze Publishing!