“Confrontations & Secrets” – Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc)

01 Double Take

This is an adult series, and while the main core of it is Paranormal Suspense, there are distinctly adult situations involved, which are NOT suitable for viewing by all ages.

DISCLAIMER: This scene contains ADULT situations of a sexual nature.  Reader discretion is advised. 

Jesse Guardian did his best to stay out of the family business for years. Aware of the Para, but choosing to work in the “real world,” he stuck to evidence he could see, and crimes he could prevent or solve, as a homicide detective for the San Francisco PD. But when his love affair with an intoxicating, mysterious woman turned out to be a trap, the intervention of one man would change Jesse’s life forever. As he struggles with the monster he doesn’t want to become, he’ll turn to the family he avoided, and find himself in a struggle to save more than his mortal soul.

 

“Confrontations & Secrets” — Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc., Book #1) –

  “Damn it, if you won’t let me help, I’ll do it myself.”

Those words plunged a knife of memory through Jesse, and the scar at his throat burned. He knew exactly how dangerous it was to tangle with something you didn’t understand. A year ago, that was him. Sick fear clawed through him at the image of Analeise laying helpless on some concrete floor, her life blood draining away. The icy terror of memory snapped him forward, and he latched onto her upper arm, hard.

“Don’t even think about it.”

She glared up at him, her awesome mocha eyes flashing with rage. “You don’t get a say, Mr. Guardian. She was my aunt. I’m not about to let her killer go free.”

He growled an oath beneath his breath. Infuriating woman! Her unwillingness to listen to reason twisted a knot of dread in his gut. He bit down on another oath. Regardless of how she twisted him inside-out, it was his responsibility to make sure she stayed safe. After all, she was a civilian. She had no idea what she was proposing.

“Ms. Claussen, it’s my job to find your aunt’s killer. This isn’t a normal criminal investigation. I can’t let you put yourself in danger by investigating something you know nothing about.”

Her eyes narrowed, and she yanked her arm from his grasp. She was furious, and he was certain she was about to give him a tongue-lashing and storm out in classic Prima Donna fashion. In his experience, most women were alike, when it came to throwing tantrums.

Analeise paced to the window, then back to the desk, to stop right in front of him, and her expression was one of internal conflict. That surprised him. Hell, it shocked him. Finally, she must have come to some conclusion, because she drew a deep breath, and enquired, “Just what, exactly, do I supposedly know nothing about?”

Aw, hell. He didn’t want to go there. At the moment, he’d settle for a tantrum, if it meant she didn’t look at him like he was as loony as the asshole who killed her aunt. But she asked the question, and her intractable expression said she wasn’t leaving the issue drop without an answer.

“The paranormal.” He winced as he muttered the word, but kept his gaze on her. Any sign of doubt from him, and she’d be convinced he was crazy.

“I see.” Her expression didn’t even flicker. Then, her cheeks still flushed with angry heat, she reached up and, before he even had an inkling what she planned to do, yanked open her shirt. “Does this look like nothing, Mr. Guardian?”

Jesse stared, slack-jawed, at her chest as his brain fogged and libido took over. She had lush breasts, displayed to perfection by a dark red demi bra. Her nipples puckered in the chill of the office air conditioner. He wanted to touch, and to hear her moan as he feasted on the exposed flesh. Hunger coiled in his gut, but instinctive wariness held him frozen. He had no idea why she took her shirt off. Before he made a move, he needed to know she was as turned on as he was.

He heard her breath hitch and lifted his gaze to hers, to see mortification flicker briefly. Damn it, what was she ashamed of? She was exquisite. Beneath his gaze, he watched her pupils dilate, and her lips part on an exhaled sigh, before her quiet, panting breaths filled his ears, and the scent of arousal and Analeise nearly drove him mad. He no longer cared if she was up to the same tricks as Natalya.

He stalked closer, until he held her trapped against the edge of his desk, her body trembling with the desire he saw reflected in her gaze. Bending closer, he breathed in, and the tangy, citrus scent of her wrapped around him. He heard the throb of blood in her veins, the pound of her heart beating in near-tandem with his own, and urges that both terrified and thrilled him twisted around inside his gut.

“Say my name,” he growled the words against her ear, unsure why it mattered so much that she did.

Her breath bated, then rushed out in a sigh. “Jesse, please…”

His hands bit into her hips as he dragged her against his body, even as he dropped his mouth to her exposed neck and breasts. He traced her throat with his mouth, devouring the scent and taste of her skin. Her nails bit into the back of his neck and shoulders through his shirt, and it was the sweetest pain he ever felt. He scraped his teeth over the sensitive column of her neck, careful not to draw blood for fear of turning heat into something infinitely darker.

He lifted her bodily onto his desk, nudging her thighs open with his legs as he did, then grasped her wrists and removed her hands from him, guiding them down and back, to rest on the desktop. Then, he backed off, gazing hungrily down at her where she sprawled on display before him. Her shirt hung open, her breasts now tight-tipped in passion as well as the cold, her pale skin hugged by all that dark red silk and lace. Her short skirt was hiked up around her hips, her legs splayed open to reveal another slash of dark red lace that barely covered her beneath the skirt.

The sound that hissed out from him wasn’t quite human, dragged from the primitive place where emotion and desire hid, until released. He reached out, nudged aside the strap and cup of her bra, exposing her right breast to study the purple, silver, and black tattoo there. It was an Ahnk, laid overtop a crescent moon. The mark of an Isian Coven. His gaze flew to hers, and he saw secrets, buried beneath the raw desire there. She was a witch.

Jesse’s head lowered, and he traced the image with his tongue, and heard her moan as her hips wriggled on his desktop. A feral smile tugged his lips as he continued his trek down, swiping his tongue across her distended nipple, then blowing on the damp peak.

     

            

“Bloodsucker” — Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc.)

01 Double Take

I’ve been researching the paranormal from a scientific standpoint for going on twenty-five years, and as such, I’m constantly irritated by the lack of research I see in both Hollywood and the publishing industry, when it comes to the paranormal. Writers (both screen and novel) who are too lazy or unconcerned to do the research, and rely on old tropes that have little to nothing to do with what is physically possible, or what is anecdotally in evidence, through either history or mythology.

Tired of vampires who turn to ash in the sun, swarms of rats at will, or sparkle, and sick of the Hollywood stereotypes that pervade modern fiction when it comes to the paranormal, two decades ago, I set out to provide a very different viewpoint — a series in which science, the real world, and the paranormal collide.  Here’s an excerpt from this series, taking the paranormal out of Hollywood, and bringing it back to the original myths and legends spawned by thousands of years of folklore.

Enjoy!

“Bloodsucker” – Excerpted from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc., Book #1) –

“You need blood.”  Analeise pushed up her sleeve and shoved her bare arm into his face.  “Take mine.”

Her pulse was a rapid flutter of fear.  Jesse scowled at her.  “What are you doing?”

“You need to feed—”

“I’m not a damned vampire!”  He snarled at her, and watched her shift backward in fear, her eyes wide and her breathing ragged.  Then her shoulders straightened, and she moved deliberately forward.  He glared at her.  “And even if I was, I sure as hell wouldn’t be getting blood that way.”

“I-I don’t understand…”

He rolled his head, aching like hell now that the potion was finally transmuting the poison in his system. That had been too close a call.  “Living vampires can’t drink blood, Ana.  It just breaks down in the stomach like any other protein source.”

Her stunned expression would have been funny, if his head didn’t feel like it was about to explode.  “Then how…?”

Dark humor curled his lips. He wondered that, himself, right after he found out the man who saved his life was a vampire.  The more he discovered, the less he wanted to be one of them.  “They inject it.  Living vampires only need a small amount of blood to feed the vampiric cells in their bodies.  They still have their own blood; it’s just been changed.”

“But the biting –“

“Mostly Revenants, and it almost never has anything to do with a search for food.  It’s usually an instinct driven by rage or revenge.  And yes, Living vampires can bite, as well.  Their bite releases a paralytic agent in their saliva into the victims.”

She nodded, as if she expected this.  “The vampire’s kiss.”

He winced, his hand raising to the scar on his neck as he remembered.  He’d beg to differ on the kiss part – there was no pleasure in the sensation.  It was a terrifying experience to be incapable of movement while a sinister killer feasted on your blood or flesh, or both.  He shuddered.  “It’s how they keep the victim immobile.”

Jesse struggled up, trying to regain his feet.  Before he made it the whole way to standing, Analeise was there, inserting herself beneath his arm to help lever him up from the floor.  “For a man who denies being a vampire, you sure know a lot about them.”

“Research,” he muttered, then groaned as a fresh wave of pain rushed through his side, and the coldness seeped further into his body.  Shit.  He was running out of time.

“The Visitor” – Excerpt from DOUBLE TROUBLE (Guardians, Inc)

02 Double Trouble

 

When Jason Guardian left the Church, disillusioned by the cruel treatment of the Paras the Church chose to torture and destroy rather than understand, he never imagined he’d be forced to turn to the very Church he battles, to save the life of a woman who they would kill if they ever find out who she really is.

So who is this mystery woman, and can Jason overcome their past, to save her life?

“The Visitor” — Excerpted from DOUBLE TROUBLE (Guardians, Inc., Book #2) –

“Jason?  You have a visitor.”

Jason Guardian lifted his head in lackluster interest toward the sound of his assistant’s voice, and gave Kylie a vague nod, his mind a million miles away from what she said.  The information his mother e-mailed him this morning on ancient writings about the Ra Chalice filled his mind, instead.  Supposedly, the chalice was blessed by an ancient Egyptian priest to carry the power of the sun-god, Ra.  It could raise the dead, reverse the ravages of disease, even reverse the effects of the Undead Curse.  Of course, how much of that was real remained to be seen, but—

“Jason?”

Jason’s attention snapped up at the soft, lightly accented sound of a familiar voice, and his lungs stalled halfway through a drawn breath as he belatedly registered he did, indeed, have a visitor.  And not just any visitor.  “Yanamari.”

It seemed a lifetime since he uttered her name.  Even longer since he last saw her.  Yanamari Durango was the reason he joined the Church, the reason he fought demons, and, ultimately, the reason he lost the faith that held him to the Church.  And now she was back.  Bitter memory settled over Jason, and he swallowed it back with difficulty.

“What can I do for you?”

The sadness in her dark eyes was familiar, and roused an old feeling within his chest.  They were kids when she disappeared on him without even a good-bye.  How could she still have any effect at all on him?   But she did.

He could blame it on her witching ways, her Gypsy charms and spells, but he knew that wasn’t all of it.  His eyes skimmed her, taking in what changed, and what hadn’t, in eighteen years.   Still willowy, her body had the shape of a woman, now, rather than the girl she’d still been when he last saw her.  That body made him hungry for things he couldn’t have, and all of them started and ended with Mari.  Her midnight hair was shorter now, shorn to just below her shoulders, and he briefly mourned to loss of the glorious hair he spent so many hours tangling around his hands.  She was his Mari, and yet, not.  Her eyes were more wary than he’d ever seen them, and devoid of the guileless optimism at the heart and soul of the girl he knew.

Now, she perched on the edge of the chair opposite him, her shoulders tense and her back straight, like a frightened bird prepared to bolt with the slightest provocation.  And something in him rebelled at that image.

“Jason, I need your help.”

Her words yanked his attention back to her face, and what she was doing in his office after disappearing on him eighteen years ago.

“A Love So Deadly” – Excerpt from LADY’S LAMENT (Guardians, Inc.)

10 Ladys Lament

 

Opening in Rhode Island shortly before the start of the Revolutionary War, LADY’S LAMENT absorbs all the history of the period, and the danger of being a privateer in an age of upheaval.  Then, it fast-forwards to modern day, as a paranormal investigator takes on a challenge she never saw coming – tangling with the ghost of a man determined to make her remember.

 

“Love So Deadly” – Excerpt from LADY’S LAMENT (Guardians, Inc., Book 10) –

“The Cap’n, he be acomin’, Mistress!  An’ he look fit for the storms of Hell, he does!”  The brogue-laden words of Brigit, Caroline’s Irish lady’s maid, reached Royce’s ears, even as he mounted the stairs, and his lips twisted in a dark smirk.  Oh, aye, he was in a fit, and his lady-love should well know why, if the rumors he heard were true.

Ah, Caro, how could you?  Cold comfort enough, the news borne by the Continental Congress, that the Colonies were to go to war.  Normally, war would profit him most fortuitously.  Hadn’t he procured the funds for this lavish estate from the war between England and France, ended just twelve years ago?  Even as young and new to the fine arts of the privateer as he’d been, back then, he secured his fortune in those turbulent waters of the channel, and then added to them by plundering French merchant vessels from the West Indies in the name of King George, in the years since.  And still, Caro would not marry him.  Though he gave her lush estates, and provided her with everything she could want, she claimed she could not marry a man who made his fortune on the blood of another.

She was returning to Boston.   His scowl returned in force, and rage prowled his soul.  He gave her everything, squandered his immortal soul at the Devil’s table, for nothing more than her love.  And now he learned she could not be bought.

“Damnation!”  He spun on the stair, his fist flying of its own will, to crash against the timbered walls with a terrible splintering of wood.

“Royce!”  The voice from above him on the stair was sweet, and laced with shocked disapproval.  Ah, how he wished to truly offend his lady’s delicate sensibilities!  Images flooded his mind as he stared up at her, standing at the top of the stairs like a goddess over her erring petitioner.

“You’re leaving.”  He spat the words out in a fury as he lunged up the remaining steps between them, heedless of the mud on his boots upon the expensive carpeting.

She stood her ground, which drew a grudging smile from him.  That was one thing he loved most about his Caro.  She never backed down.  “Yes.”

A simple enough statement.  Another man might have taken it at its worth.  But he was not another man, and he already made a bargain with the Devil, to have her here.  Without Caroline, he was already damned.

“No!”  He roared the word as he covered the final inches between them, and yanked her hard against his body.  “You belong here.”

“Unhand me, you beast!”  She shoved at his chest.  “How can you say I belong here, when here I am nothing but miserable?  I am not your property, and you cannot buy me – not with coin, and not with demands.”

“Have I not given you everything I have to give, ungrateful wench!”  He could not control his tongue.  After weeks of fear, terror that he would arrive to find her already gone, his temper ran unchecked.  “Perhaps I should just take what I have already paid for, then!”

He would not harm her.  It was not in what little remained of his soul to ever cause her harm.  Yet, he craved one taste of her, and the chance to convince her to stay.  Yanking her hard against him, he slanted his mouth over hers, and plundered willfully, the pirate he truly was.

Caroline’s body went rigid against his, and he heard a soft snick, like a knife loosed from its sheath.  Breaking his hold, he barely heard her soft whisper, before heat pierced his chest, and the world began to darken.  But, as he stared up into her tear-filled eyes, he knew he was betrayed, and her words were his last companion into the darkness.

Forgive me, my love.

He would not.  He could not.  She had consigned him to the Devil, but as life ebbed away from him, he made a promise to them both.  One day, he would return.  And she would pay for what she did.

“Contrary Evidence” – Excerpt from BURDEN OF PROOF

Burden of Proof FinalAssistant District Attorney Justin Blakely believes only in the letter of the law. When asked to prosecute a dangerous woman accused of killing her husband with 64 stab wounds to the chest, he sees only a butcher who should be locked away for her depraved act. But when he comes up against the woman’s driven, feisty attorney, he knows Chelsea Hanover has the power to change his mind. And, as he realizes her aim is truth rather than law, he can do nothing but respect her integrity. Knowing she’s stumbling into trouble, he’ll do anything to save her from herself, even if the casualty of his crusade is the law in which he believes.

 

“Contrary Evidence” — Excerpt from BURDEN OF PROOF –

“Tell me you have something.” Justin leaned against the door frame leading into the Forensic Technician Penny James’ lab. He knew better than to cross the threshold without permission. The sixty-two-year-old grandmother of four had scolded him like one of her grandkids a number of times when he was a rookie prosecutor about cross-contamination and improper attire for the lab.

Now, she glanced up at him over the rims of her glasses, her brown eyes twinkling in welcome. “Depends on what you consider ‘something,’ young man.”

“At the moment, I’ll take whatever you’ve got.” Normally, he enjoyed matching wits with Penny. She had a brilliant mind, and a sharp sense of humor. He knew she and his Uncle Mic went way back, but he never dared ask how far, or how close.

Today, however, with Chelsea’s assertions of her client’s innocence ringing in his ears, he was just too weary, and too worried, to muster up the fortitude for one of Penny’s brain teasers.

“You’re sure in a mood, today.” She tsk-ed beneath her breath and turned toward her desk, flipping through the files neatly stashed in the drawer there. “Case got you on edge?”

He opened his mouth to agree, but the words wouldn’t come out, as Chelsea’s thunderous green eyes seared through his mind, again. No, he was pretty sure the source of his mood wore a skirt and blazer that looked more second-hand than high-end. His breath caught at the memory of her slim form — the woman really needed to eat more — severely controlled red hair, and flashing green eyes… and he didn’t want to let his mind wander that way. No matter what he wanted, for years now, Chelsea Hanover wasn’t going to ever give in. She might look like sex up and walking, but she made it pointedly clear she considered him somewhere beneath pond scum on the evolutionary chain.

“Road to Vataria” – Excerpt from CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS (Legends of Tirum)

SOD Dragon 01

 

For the very first time, I’m allowing a sneak peek inside the next book of Legends of Tirum, CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS.

Why am I being so secretive about this book? CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS is a bridge book for the whole series. This is where everything both the characters and audience thought they knew about this series takes a very unexpected twist. This book sets the scene for some later explanations I’ve left vaguely explained (deliberately) or completely ignored by the characters who have the answers. And, like all catalysts, it defeats the purpose of the surprise to give too much away, too soon.

 

“Road to Vataria” — Excerpt from CHILD OF FALLEN WATERS (Legends of Tirum, Book 6) –

 

It wasn’t an easy feeling, to think the sky could fall on one’s head at any moment. Phoenix Telyn Gwndal, daughter of feuding houses and Chosen Protector of the World Forge, squinted against Helios’ glare as she glanced toward the cloudless sky again.

Not that she expected the sky to literally fall on her head, but knowing the Draconi were not the creatures of myth she once consoled herself with unsettled her. Through Marlaesa Bonedirk, she knew the Draconi of Junfa Canyon were allies, but the mere knowledge they were up there left her uneasy about what else might be soaring around above her. Telyn didn’t like the idea of enemies she couldn’t see or gauge.

“They’ll be here.”

Telyn turned her attention from the sky to find her lover, Nacaris, watching her. He did that a lot, lately. As if he thought she would disappear if he blinked, or fall apart at the least disappointment.

“I know.”

“Then why do you keep looking up? You’re going to trip over your own feet, if you keep at it.”

A wry smile tugged up the corners of her lips. “Battle instinct, I guess. The warrior in me doesn’t quite trust we won’t be attacked from the sky, now that I know there are massive creatures flying around up there.” She cocked him a curious glance. “I’m surprised you’re so calm about it.”

He shrugged. “I grew up knowing there were large creatures flying around above me. And I knew they meant me no harm.”

She blinked, confused. There was no way he’d encountered the Draconi as a child. The Lurudani were on the opposite end of the continent from Junfa Canyon, and there were no other Draconi on Ravenos, that she was aware of. Then, as she remembered another tale, she relaxed. “The Avarii. Paduari talks about them.”

Nacaris nodded. “Half-bird, half-beast. They have the gentlest souls, however ferocious they appear. Knowing them makes it easier to accept other winged races might be benevolent.”

Telyn glanced at the sky again, and changed the subject. “Do you think Hakan has any chance of finding out about his mother, after so long?”

“You would be the expert on lost parents,” Nacaris reminded her, referring to her own decade long search for her father, culminating in the discovery of his death at Raiador.

At least Hakan knew his father was still alive. Cold comfort, considering who his father was. Knowing his father killed his mother must be a very special kind of torment. But at least he had the hope of one day confronting his father and demanding answers. Telyn couldn’t even be certain her father knew she existed, before he died. Her mother remained close-mouthed on the subject of her father, and Telyn had no idea who Mistress Gwneth believed she was protecting.

Discover how the legend began! Pick up your copies of DAUGHTER OF ASHES, PHOENIX RISING, SPIRIT MAGE, MISTRESS OF CATS and SISTER OF DRAGONS today, at either Amazon.com or Desert Breeze Publishing.

Friday Q & A: The Book Soundtrack

color graph

Someone recently asked me this question, so I thought I’d extend it to all my fellow authors, as well:

Do you write with a “soundtrack”?

My answer:
Personally, I’m a music person (I grew up immersed in it), so I always have both a “series soundtrack” and a separate soundtrack for each book I write… a playlist of songs that keep the creative juices flowing and help me get into the “zone” of a particular book (it’s part of the secret to how I can write multiple books in multiple genres all at the same time, without ever confusing things… As soon as the “soundtrack” for that book starts, I’m instantly in that “zone”… Since I use the same soundtrack when drafting the storyline as I do when I’m writing, my brain’s conditioned to the pattern by the time I start writing…:) …)

If you have a question you’d like me to answer about writing in general, my process, my books, etc, please go to my FAQ Page and leave your question at the bottom of the page. I’ll select questions to answer on my blog every Friday, and those and other questions will be posted to the FAQ page, as well.