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

Project Prometheus Badge

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.

“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)

Project Prometheus Badge

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!

“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!