“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!

“Alive or Dead” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

TamiaCoverUnderground has a lot of interesting twists and turns, mostly because (aside from the actual Mole hunt going on) I was taking pieces from my real life and morphing them into events that fit the fictional storyline going on.

This was one of those scenes. While I’ve never been in the middle of an actual combat zone, and I’ve never been wounded in the line of duty (at least, not physically… It all depends on how you define the words “wounded” and “line of duty”), this scene was drawn from a conversation had not too long after I ended up in a very dangerous, self-inflicted situation. As with many events in the first three books of this series, this scene is a fictionalization of a very real event, and its aftermath (this particular event was kept hidden from everyone except myself, the man involved, and the medical personnel who treated me). This scene, from Rick’s POV, is the fictionalization of the fear the man upon whom Rick’s character is based dealt with during my own medical ordeal.

When love lays close to expiring, what would you give to keep it alive?

“Alive or Dead”  – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book #1) -

Rick paced a wide circle in Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Operating Room waiting lounge, exhausted but unable to even sit.  A worried frown creased his face as his gaze went to the door.  Damn it, what was taking so long?

He glanced at the clock again and noted that it was twenty-three-fifty hours.  Tamia had been in surgery since oh-eight-hundred this morning, and he’d seen no one.  No nurse with a progress report, no doctor to say if Tamia lived or died.  He ploughed his shaking hands through his hair, and wished he could smoke, to calm his nerves.  However, he had to go outside the hospital to do that, and he wouldn’t leave until he knew Tamia would to make it.

“You finally found a way to stop me smoking, babe,” he murmured beneath his breath, and laughed bleakly as he realized he already talked to her as if she was dead.  The laugh cracked, and he pressed his hands to his stinging eyes as tears slipped silently loose.  Damn it, he needed to do something, or he would totally break down!  He couldn’t just stand around, waiting for someone who had no idea what Tamia meant to him to determine her fate, and their future.

Rick drew a shuddering breath, his hands clenching in trembling fists.  He needed to see her, to hold her, so bad.  Last time he saw her was through the glass partition of the Isolation Room, and his heart nearly shattered at the sight.  She looked like Snow White in her damned glass coffin, her skin so pale it was translucent, and her body wreathed in vine-like tubes.  He wanted to pound down those walls, sweep her up, and carry her off to somewhere far away from the taunting machines she hated so much and the white-clad wraiths that hovered over her, so that they couldn’t take her away from him.  Instead, he stood there, helpless, as he watched the only thing he ever really wanted in life slip away from him.

“Commander Carinson?”

Rick whirled at the sound of a voice, to find a blonde woman in blood-covered scrubs paused just inside the doorway.  That was Tamia’s blood on her clothes, his mind registered as his heart clenched, and he felt sick with fear.

“How is she?”  He surged across the space toward her.

The woman frowned in concern as she studied his face.  “Commander, I think you better have a seat.”

Ice plunged through Rick, and his heart stopped mid-beat.  No.  Tamia wasn’t dead.  She couldn’t be dead, damn it!

“Just tell me,” he begged the woman, his voice a croaking whisper.  “Please.”

Find out more about TAMIA and the Underground, or pick up your copy! You can do both on my website!

“Cutting” – Excerpt from HERO’S HOPE (Underground)

There’s a side to Matt Clipper, aka Watchdog, that very few people get to see. In fact, the only people who ever see the side of him that scares him most are Tamia (who, being a former streeter, comes with similar baggage, and saw right through him from the beginning) and Jen, whom he can’t seem to shut out no matter how hard he tries…

Here’s a little look into that core personality, and the demons that drive him to self-mutilation…

This scene contains graphic imagery and adult language not suitable for younger readers.  Reader discretion is advised.

 

 

“Cutting” – Excerpted from HERO’S HOPE (Underground, Book # 4)

“You just can’t help yourself, can you?”  The sour tone behind his back stopped Matt Clipper in his tracks.  He really didn’t want to have this conversation, right now.  Especially not with her.  He was too pissed, and his chest squeezed with pain no medication on the planet could ease.  Hell, he had no idea what he might say, in this state.  Words tangled in his head, and he didn’t know how, or if, they’d come out.  However, words never seemed to be a problem for Jen.  Even the wrong ones.

“Go away, Jen.  You got what you wanted.”

He heard her gasp, and winced at the pain in that sound, but kept walking.  He didn’t want to think he was capable of hurting her; he already knew he could do it.  And he really didn’t want to go there.  All he wanted, right now, was to get as far away from her, and the searing agony of what she’d done, as he could.  He wanted to lock himself in his quarters and bleed out the pain of her betrayal.  Damn it, couldn’t she just leave well enough alone?

Her footfalls behind him echoed off the titanium-steel walls, and he gritted his teeth against the urge to turn, yank her off her feet, and burn out his fury in a way he was sure would destroy everything between them.  Didn’t she get it?  He was on the edge, here.

“Talk to me.”

Like hell, he would.  He was done talking.  It never solved anything; he learned that as a kid.  “Quit following me.”

“No, dammit.  I want to know why the hell you can’t tell me what you’re doing out there.”

A sharp bark of laughter forced its way from him.  Not that there was anything funny about what she said.  He was ready to fly apart at the seams, here, and she wanted to talk about his job.  Fat chance, honey.  “Screw you.”

Relief twisted his brain as he entered his quarters.  When the obstruction tone sounded, letting him know the door couldn’t close, he groaned and turned, to find Jen with her foot wedged against the door.

“Go away,” he growled at her, desperation clawing through him.  Damn it, he needed to get her out of here, where she’d be safe, before he went into total meltdown.

“Look at me.”

“No.  Goddammit, Doc, go away!”

“I didn’t ask for this, you know.”

He gritted his teeth.  She wasn’t asking for the rage that built inside of him, either.  Only, she couldn’t see that.  She wouldn’t know the storm was brewing until it exploded.  And he’d live just long enough to regret every second of it.  He wanted to scream at her to get away, for her own safety, but he couldn’t.  He didn’t dare.  He had to keep control for just a moment longer, he promised himself.  Just until he could get rid of her.  And just as long as he didn’t touch her, he could do this.

“Jen,” he was begging now, and he didn’t care.  “Just leave me alone.”

She edged forward a step.  “You think I want to be your shadow?  You think I want to learn about what you do out there in little bits, or from a third party?  Damn it, Matt, I want you to talk to me, for once in your degenerate life!  I don’t want to fix you…”

He almost lost it, at that.  A twisted, desperate laugh burst from him as he practically dashed for the cabinet where he kept his switch blade locked up when he wasn’t on the street.  “Sure sounded like it to me, Doc.  Go the fuck away.  Go play head games with someone else.”

She looked shocked, and worried.  “Matt?”

“Go.  Please, just go.”

“This isn’t a head game, and… and…What are you doing?”

His head lifted sharply from his task as he worked the lock on the cabinet in desperation.  The crazed lunatic urges prowling in his head grew loud, and the glare he fixed on her was deadly with intent.  His hand slapped the cabinet door shut, even as the last vestige of his sanity screamed No! He stalked her, pain writhing in his gut as her eyes widened in fear of him for the first time since they met, and she backed away a step, into the corridor.  He told himself that was good enough.  It was what he wanted, after all.  His fist hit the door, and he trembled as he sank to his knees, his forehead pressed to the cool metal door.  He was so fucked.

He was on his feet again in a surge of motion, desperate to kill the beast before he went after Jen.  He threw himself at the cabinet like the maniac he really was, grabbing up his switch blade and flicking the catch open as he yanked off his shirt.  His hand trembled, and he knew that no pansy-ass nicks were going to make a damned bit of difference, this time.  It was all or nothing.

The pain as he pulled the blade down across his arm was sharp, burning up into his shoulder and chest, but only for a moment.  Then, endorphins crashed over him, and muted out the clawing madman, and Matt sank against the back of the sofa, dropping the knife as he closed his eyes and breathed deep, feeling sanity return.

As he straightened, however, queasiness assaulted him, and his head felt detached from his shoulders.  He swayed, tried to catch himself on a low bookcase, and toppled the whole thing as he stumbled.  Oh, fuck.  He stared at the blood running down his arm in morbid fascination, and a hoarse laugh bubbled up.  He didn’t need to worry about hurting Jen, anymore.  Hell, he didn’t need to worry about anything, now.

Get your copy of HERO’S HOPE and find out more about the Underground series at www.esthermitchell.com

“The Score” – Excerpt from HERO’S HOPE (Underground)

Heros HopeThe character of Matt Clipper, aka Watchdog, is one of my more unusual and intriguing characters. Loosely based in equal parts on a friend with a very rough upbringing and a well-earned attitude that won’t quit (and covers a heart of gold), and my brother, from whom (among other details) Matt Clipper draws part of his core personality and name, Watchdog is an unusual blend of streetwise tough guy, a gang-banger whom Rick and Tamia, at different points, refer to as having an attitude the size of Texas, and the lonely, sensitive artistic type, given to a romanticism he rarely even shows a glimmer of.

One of the things I most looked forward to, with writing these later books in this Evolution, was finally being able to actually delve into this character and what he really experiences. In the first few books, we only ever get to see how he interacts with the team, and all we know about his interactions outside of the Underground are based strictly on what he reveals to other characters. He comes across as a thug with a few chinks in his armor, but generally not deep.

Well, hold onto your hats, folks! Starting in HERO’S HOPE, you get to see a whole other side to Matt Clipper… This is a man with a surprising amount of depth, and who, for his biological youth (he’s only 25), feels ancient because of what he’s seen and experienced. And, finally, we get to start seeing exactly what Watchdog does out there on the streets, at night. And his world isn’t a pretty one…

So I thought I’d share one of those glimpses into Watchdog’s world outside of the Underground… On the streets, where he’s known by the pseudo-alias “Clip.”  Here you go…

 

“The Score” – Excerpt from Hero’s Hope (Underground, Book #4) –

He told himself he was ready for this.  And he knew he was full of shit.  No one was ever ready to tangle with a dude like Terrence Walker.  One wrong move, one wild card in the mix, and it would all end in a bloodbath.  Matt Clipper sealed his lips in a grim line over the worried oath that pressed against his tongue as he primed his Colt Racer – a recent addition to street warfare, the weapon was a cross between a conventional handgun and a Super Taser – and double-checked that he had his backup.  He glanced into the rearview mirror of the Lincoln Continental.  “Y’all ready?”

“Let’s roll.”  Snooks brandished his weapon with a grin just this side of sadistically gleeful, and Matt bit down on the wave of nausea that spiraled through him at the sight.  Similar anticipation preceded too many of his nightmares.  He resisted the urge to shudder.  He was getting way too old for this shit.  Problem was, he didn’t see how he was of any use to the Commandos if he left the streets behind.  He didn’t have Blade’s skills, or Jen’s brains, or Red’s background.  He had nothing to offer but what he learned out here, and the one thing Matt Clipper wasn’t was a leech.  So he did the only thing he knew how to do.  Even if it killed him.

To combat the queasy uncertainty in the pit of his stomach, he pasted on his most cocky grin and reached for the driver side door.  He was about to put it on the line to get Big T to this meet-up.  The Man had best represent.

“Let’s go.”

Like a pack of wild animals, the gang-bangers piled out of the vehicle with none of the stealth or finesse Matt grew accustomed to as a Commando.  He winced inwardly, and triple-checked his weapons again.  He had a bad feeling this was about to go to Hell, and Jen would kill him if he got sloppy.  Hell, the Voodoo woman would probably dig him up just to kill him again, if he got himself whacked.

A snort of dark laughter nearly broke his lips, and he caught the wary look the kid beside him cast his way.  Rance stuck close to him since JT went down.  Poor kid wasn’t cut out for this life; too bad Matt didn’t know how to get him out.

Matt’s gaze went to the building before them, and the scene was far too familiar.  Rundown and solitary among the empty lots that flanked it on three sides, this pre-World War Three tenement was where JT was murdered, and Matt’s fall into Hell began.  No one knew how much he hated every time he had to come back here.  The queasy sensation in his gut talked loud and clear.  When Matt Clipper checked out, it would be in a place just like this one — a building on the edge of forgotten.

Damn.  He was dipping into the morbid, again.  That was a distraction he didn’t need.  Matt shook it off and cocked his weapon with a grin only he knew was forced.

“Playtime.  Just remember, the Big Man wants T alive, or we’re in deep shit.”

He wasn’t worried they’d fuck it up.  These boys might need some lessons in finesse when it came to assaults, but they were far from incompetent novices.  They had their own silent language, and while it didn’t have the sophistication he’d learned by hanging with Booters like Blade and Ace, he was comfortable with it.  These were streeters.  They knew the score.

The gang fanned out to surround the front door, waiting for Matt’s signal.  He edged up to the door and listened intently.  The sound of an old building settling, and the drip of water somewhere in the distance, reached his ears.  No voices, no footsteps.  Relief wound through him.  No ambush; and that was good news to him.  He jerked his head toward the door, then eased it open to scoot inside cautiously.  The same couldn’t be said for his gang.

Snooks barreled through the door like a maniac.  Damn it, was he high?  Matt couldn’t tell; he couldn’t see the kid’s eyes, but Snooks was sweating.  That was a bad sign.

“Yo, Snooks, hold up a min-” His caution fell on deaf ears as Snooks took the stairs three at a time, disappearing into the upper levels of the old building.  There was a loud crash, and the Snooks’ voice echoed down the stairwell.

“Prayer time, muthafu-”  His words died in a spray of gunfire that lit up the stairwell and echoed off the tile walls.  Matt immediately dropped behind cover, his instincts honed to self-preservation by years of Commando missions.  He knew what that gunfire meant.

“Damn it.”  Anger tightened his chest.  It wasn’t supposed to go down like this.  God damn it, Snooks knew better than to get high right before a hit.

“Shit, dude!”  Rance dropped back as well, his face a shade between green and gray.  Kid was scared.  Smart.  “What was that?”

“That,” Matt responded grimly, “was trouble.  Everyone, hang back.”

With that quiet instruction, Matt started slowly up the stairs, forcing himself to draw even breaths as he went.  This was it.  He’d never told anyone, but he always knew he’d die alone.  And here he was, climbing into the lion’s den, alone.  Still, if he wanted this to go down without any higher of a body count, he had to go it solo.

As he reached the first landing, Matt flipped his Racer to stun.  He didn’t want anyone going down for a permanent nap, least of all his mark.  The Man would never forgive him for that, and nor would anyone else.  Set to stun, the energy weapon would release a non-lethal electrical charge in a beam that would render the target unconscious.  He wanted Big T down, not out of the picture.  He had orders, after all.

Pick up your copy of HERO’S HOPE today at Amazon.com   and check out the rest of this critically-acclaimed fan favorite series, with TAMIA, MIND KILLER, and TERMINAL HUNTER. Find out more at www.esthermitchell.com

“When Heroes Fall” – Excerpt from HERO’S HOPE (Underground)

Sometimes, when life looks darkest

Hope shines the brightest.

 

Heros Hope            Richard Carinson hasn’t had much in his life truly worth protecting – until now. With a new wife and an unborn child, he can’t afford to make any mistakes, or take any chances his past will come back to haunt them. But some sins can’t be wiped away, and Rick’s are about to come calling – on his wife and child. To save Tamia and their son, Rick’s going to have to make the biggest sacrifice of his life – and it just might cost him everything.

“When Heroes Fall” — Excerpt from HERO’s HOPE (Underground, Book #4) –

The hydrolift ride to the fourth floor was torture as he debated the wisdom of what he was about to do. If only Emergency Rooms and clinics didn’t require fingerprint identification. He’d much rather go there. Involving her was dangerous, and she wouldn’t like keeping his secret, either. Outside her door, he paused for a heartbeat, and told himself she would understand. She might not like it, but she would keep his secret.

Enough. He raised his left hand and knocked on her door, before he could change his mind.

“Just a moment.” The voice was muffled. Then, the sound of movement, before the door opened, and he watched her face drain of color, her green eyes wide in disbelief as a gasp left her.

“What—? How—?”

He quirked her a tired grin. God, he was tired of this charade. “That’s eloquent, for a journalist.”

She recovered quickly, and her gaze shot up and down the empty hallway. “Get in here, before someone sees you, and—” She froze as he flinched when she tugged at his right arm, before he moved past her, into the apartment. Her gaze latched onto his side, where the dark stain was spreading. “Oh my god, you’re bleeding!”

“Yeah.” He sank onto the edge of her sofa as a wave of dizziness hit him.

“Idiot.” The word held no rancor, just open concern, as she moved to her bathroom and returned with antiseptic and first-aid kit. “Take off that coat and your shirt.”

He frowned, suddenly uncomfortable. “Jean, I don’t think—”

She glared at him as she set the items down on an end table and fisted her hands on her hips. “Get over yourself. I did. Now, strip.”

He was too light-headed to sustain this argument. He told himself his wife would understand, even as he reluctantly stripped off his coat and shirt as Jean sat down beside him. She barely spared him a glance, her gaze fixed on the bloody gash in his side as she examined the wound.

“Who the hell did you have a knife-fight with?” She asked evenly as she turned to retrieve a bottle of antiseptic wash and a gauze pad from her kit.

“No one.” He wasn’t about to discuss this.

“Really.” She tipped the bottle, coating the gauze in green gel, before she applied it to his side.

He hissed and sat bolt upright. “Shit, that stings!”

“You deserve worse.” Her expression hardened. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”

“No.”

“Surprise, surprise.” She sighed, and shook her head. “I assume you have a good reason.”

A different pain, one no antiseptic could soothe, twisted inside him. “A damn good one.”

“It better be.” She applied a wound microsealer to the gash. “Because this one’s going to come back to bite you in the ass, my friend.”

 

Are you ready for the explosion? Because this one might just level the Underground forever.  Get your copy of HERO’S HOPE, today! 

Fan Favorite Underground series returns, with brand-new release!

Seven years ago, Underground moved publishers. It’s taken almost a decade to get the first three books re-released and back out there and move forward, but now, at long last, we’re debuting a brand-new release, with Book #4 of the series, HERO’S HOPE!

The hunt for the Security Network mole is about to get very close to home …

Find out just how close, in HERO’S HOPE (Book #4), now available!

Heros Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you figure out who’s behind it all? Follow the trail from the beginning…
TAMIA (Book #1)
MIND KILLER (Book #2)
TERMINAL HUNTER (Book #3)

Underground #1: TAMIA

Underground #1: TAMIA

Underground #2: MIND KILLER

Underground #2: MIND KILLER

Underground #3: TERMINAL HUNTER

Underground #3: TERMINAL HUNTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And stay tuned to find out what happens next… VENGEFUL HEART (Book #5), coming soon.

 

Underground New Release! HERO’S HOPE Now Available!

The hunt for the mole in the Security Network is heating up. For Rick and Tamia Carinson, the stakes can’t get any higher.

Richard Carinson hasn’t had much in his life truly worth protecting – until now. With a new wife and an unborn child, he can’t afford to make any mistakes, or take any chances his past will come back to haunt them. But some sins can’t be wiped away, and Rick’s are about to come calling – on his wife and child. To save Tamia and their son, Rick’s going to have to make the biggest sacrifice of his life – and it just might cost him everything.

 Tamia Carinson has everything she could ever want: A husband who loves her, a child on the way, and friends willing to risk their own futures to keep her family safe. But she can’t shake the uneasy feeling something’s very wrong, and her streetwise ability to read people tells her Rick’s keeping dangerous secrets. Now, for the sake of her child, she must uncover what he’s been hiding, before the past catches up with them all.

Get your copy of HERO’S HOPE today! (PDF only) or find in Kindle or Nook, later this week.

Heros Hope