“Primal Instincts” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

Project Prometheus BadgeLt. Commander Jaye Michaels has spent a decade regretting a single action, and all her psychological training has been unable to lessen her guilt, until a miracle coma patient’s tortured psyche lands him in her office, and offers her one last chance to set things right. Yet, everything in her tells her that mercenary Trevor Watkins’ soul is at more risk than his mind. Could she, who has devoted her life to disproving the existence of demons in the mind, reach beyond the medicine of her present to help a man trapped in a Hellish limbo, and perhaps redeem her own failed past, as well? It will take the courage of a warrior, and the patience of a saint, to cross the Hell in his soul and retrieve a life from Death’s grasp. And the cost might be her own soul.

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

 

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

It was a ten-minute drive from her home in Kensington to the NNMC, and Jaye prayed no cops were out tonight as she sped toward the hospital.  The nagging sense that Trevor was alone and in need of help was her only companion as she raced to the facility.  She was on autopilot, with little awareness of her actions as she showed her ID to the guard at the NNMC’s gate, parked and locked her car, and headed toward the inpatient wards.  She was just at the door into the building when something in her peripheral vision stopped her in her tracks.  She turned, her eyes scanning the bushes beside the building and her brow furrowed.  What was out there?

She shrugged when she saw nothing, but her skin prickled with awareness she didn’t want to acknowledge as she turned toward the door again.  A  whimper, followed by a moan, sent a chill through her that wracked Jaye to the core.  It sounded like an animal, and a man, in pain.  She spun around, and her eyes searched the bushes again, until she saw one move.

Heart in her throat, praying that she was about to find a wounded dog, Jaye eased toward the bush.  Whatever she found there, she already knew she wasn’t ready for it.

A warning growl faded into a whimper of pain and fear as her hand touched the bush, and she eased it aside, expecting an injured animal.  A dismayed gasp left her at what she found, instead.

Trevor lay in a tight huddle between the bush and the wall.  The moonlight touched his dark, bare skin, and he shivered from the bitter winter cold.

“Trevor!”  Immediately, she yanked off her warm trench coat, aware it still wouldn’t be enough if he’d been out here long.  She glanced up as the hospital door opened and an orderly stepped outside.

“Hey!”

He turned toward her, and Jaye barked out a single order.  “Get some blankets, stat!”

She returned her attention to her patient.  There were no outward signs of trauma, which did nothing to explain why he was out here in the freezing cold and as bare as the day he was born.

“Trevor?”  She laid a cautious hand on his shoulder, and felt the shudder that lunged through him.  “Trevor, can you hear me?”

His only response was a low whine, and Jaye reassessed the situation with a muttered oath.  It was worse than first appearances.  Last time she found Trevor huddled in fright, he’d come around quickly, and he was still fully clothed.  But he was weak then, and they only just made it back to his room from the medical storage down the hall, taht time.  Clearly, his situation was deteriorating.  She didn’t want to know how, why, or where he lost his clothes, and his animal instincts were sharper now than his human ones.  There was no way she could count on his help getting him back to his room, and she certainly couldn’t do it herself.

Resolutely, she reached over and pulled her cell phone from the pocket of her coat draped over Trevor’s broad shoulders.  He growled and yanked away, but she had her phone in hand, already.  Biting her lip, she punched the speed dial for Inpatient’s trauma unit.

“Naval Medical Inpatient trauma ward.  Chief Petty Officer James speaking.”

“Chief, this is Dr. Michaels.  I found our missing patient.  I need a gurney, and a couple of orderlies.”

Lydia was a professional; Jaye had to give her that.  Though the other woman didn’t deal with psychiatric patients very often, she kept her curiosity to herself, and her focus on the patient’s care.  “I’ll call down and have ER get one out to you, ASAP, Ma’am.  Where are you?”

“Right outside the lower entrance to building ten.”  Jaye clicked off the phone as the orderly she summoned earlier arrived, his arms loaded with blankets.

“Thanks.”  She took them and turned to Trevor.  He still looked oblivious to her presence, or his own humanity, and only stirred enough to voice a warning growl as she replaced her coat with the warmer blankets.

“Ma’am… Is he all right?”  The orderly’s worried voice reached her.

“He will be,” she murmured, keeping her voice low and soothing as she stroked Trevor’s head gently.  She kept her eyes on him, aware that taking her gaze off this wild animal would be a mistake.  She only prayed her words were the truth as she again whispered, “He will be.”

 

Find out what happened to Trevor — get your copy of IN HER NAME, today!

“Unknown Variable” — Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus)

InHerNameCoverArt

Every story has a beginning. While Project Prometheus’ beginning is thousands of years in the past, Matt and Manara’s story starts not quite so long ago… with a brutal slaying, and a dangerous mission. Problem is, only one of them knows exactly how dangerous this mission really is…
“Unknown Variable” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus, Book 1) –
January 2, 2000

The noonday sun glinted off the Mediterranean Sea in sapphire and diamond shafts, reflecting light against dark sunglasses. Salty seawater sprayed up against the prow of the sleek speedboat, carrying with it the pungency of fish and seaweed. His jaw clenched as he shifted gears, watching the shimmer of approaching land dance in and out of view like a desert mirage.

Sidon. Matthew Raleigh’s stomach clenched with bitter memory. He was well-acquainted with the deceptively quiet Lebanese city. He’d been here too many times in a past that he’d just as soon forget as a Navy SEa, Air and Land operative on prowl-and-growl missions. His lips curved in a wry grimace. He wasn’t a SEAL anymore — there was at least that much mercy left in the world. Not that what he did these days brought him much peace either. Good thing he wasn’t looking for peace anymore. To deaden the pain in his soul and help reduce the nightmares that regularly stole away sleep, he formed Project Prometheus — a special mercenary organization dedicated to ending terrorism. A futile enough cause. He scowled. The men who’d hired Prometheus’ mercenaries had business in Lebanon. Scum was still scum. That never changed.

Matt pulled his mind from the dark thoughts creeping in; he needed to concentrate on the mission. Was the team ready? He brought them in under the cover of night yesterday. He hoped they made it to the pre-arranged safe house but he had no way of being sure. They were on radio silence and for safety’s sake, he couldn’t go to find them until he was ready to join them. Matt glanced at his wristwatch. Besides, he was already on his way to meet with their CIA contact, codenamed Star.

Uneasiness clutched Matt. He didn’t like that no one at Langley had ever actually seen Star. There was no picture, not even a physical description, though the Agency claimed Star was a miracle worker. Matt scowled. He didn’t believe in miracles or miracle workers. From the little Matt knew, he surmised Star was an important figure in Lebanon, well connected with an extensive knowledge of the local area. Matt also guessed Star, whoever he was, probably had connections to arms dealers or some other dubious operation. Great. Just what they needed; a contact they couldn’t trust.

Find out more about the mission. Pick up your copy of IN HER NAME, today! And look for the continuation of Project Prometheus with HOPE OF HEAVEN, coming in 2015!

“Moment of Doubt” — Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of Ashes

 

Legends of Tirum was another series that started out as a free-write notebook full of scenes. I started those back in the late 1980s, and collected them over the course of the next ten years, whenever I needed to take a break from the heavier Science Fiction books I was writing at the time. I was surprised to discover, in the mid-1990s, when I sat down to read through my accumulated scenes, that I had the foundation for a very unusual type of Sword-and-Sorcery Fantasy series. And, as the series background took shape over the next decade, the first book started to come together.

I really love the depth of these two characters – they manage to complete each other, without actually needing each other to be complete.  It’s a very interesting relationship. :)

 

“Moment of Doubt” – excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book 1) –

Sala floated back into the fireplace, and the fire suddenly doused itself into little more than hot ash and a few smoldering coals.

Telyn swallowed hard, suddenly edgy now that she was completely alone with Nacaris.

“I don’t know how to do this,” she admitted quietly.

“Shh.” He touched a finger to her lips, stilling her. “I understand there are things you can’t share with anyone. I’m only asking to be a part of what you can share.”

His face filled her vision, and Telyn’s eyes widened as his lips replaced his touch against her mouth in a soft, gentle kiss she never expected from this battle-hardened man. Enclosed in his embrace as he released her lips, Telyn allowed herself to sink against the leather of his tunic and breathe in the scents of man, horse, and travel that clung to him. It was a comforting scent, underscored by something dark, dangerous, and uniquely Nacaris. She sighed regretfully. “I wish–“

“What?” He nuzzled her hair, and stroked a hand lightly over her back. “Talk to me, Telyn.”

She stifled a mirthless laugh. He had no idea how much she struggled to keep her thoughts from him — she already feared they were doomed. “I wish it could always be like this.”

“What, always on the hunt? Roaming endlessly, without a home?” He squeezed her lightly. “Be careful what you wish for, balnyt. Nature is both a capricious and mischievous mistress. You may get what you want, in ways you least desire.”

Telyn shuddered, hearing the ring of prophecy behind those teasing words. She wasn’t fool enough to test them just now. Instead, she burrowed into his embrace and allowed herself a rare moment to be something other than a warrior.

Pick up your copy of DAUGHTER OF ASHES today, at Amazon.com

“Gatekeeper” – Excerpt from BETWEEN WORLDS (Project Prometheus)

Project Prometheus BadgeBETWEEN WORLDS wraps up the sub-series within Project Prometheus called Atlantis Silver — a sub-series of five books that kicks off the entire series with the reincarnation of five Elders from the abandoned and mostly destroyed ancient island of Ali-Antos, known today as Atlantis.

BETWEEN WORLDS brings the Elders back to Ali-Antos, and the temple they abandoned in the face of its imminent destruction at the hands of the Brotherhood of Spiders. And none among the Elders has more to set right than the gatekeeper to the Temple of the Stars — a woman who literally gave everything she was to correct a grievous wrong she committed. And the price she’s to pay in her reincarnation may be one she can’t face at all.

“Gatekeeper”  – Excerpted from Project Prometheus: BETWEEN WORLDS (Project Prometheus, Book #5)

She was so cold.  The wind here on the shore was bitter, chilled by the storm raging around her.  Csilla huddled in the cavern, watching as the boats were made ready.

“Are you ready, Gatekeeper?”

She turned at the sound of a masculine voice, to find Sargon beside her, tall and strong in his armor, the glow of his charge shining around him even from where it rested, secure in the scabbard at his side.  She shuddered to think how, of them all, only she was a real danger.  Only her charge could bring them all back to this place, and only her charge could be forced from her grasp by any manner besides death.

“Go, Warrior,” she whispered, already aware of what she must do.  And yet, she could not tell these men, her soul-brothers, what she planned.  They would surely halt her plan, if they knew how she meant to protect them all.  “I am weary, and will bide here a while.”

He frowned.  “It is not safe, Csilla.  Already, Arachaena swarm the mountain above us.  They must not find us here.”

She looked out toward the storm-tossed waves where she once found solace.  Sadness gripped her. She would leave all of this behind. She hugged her cloak tighter about her shoulders.  There was no help for it.  This was as it must be.

“I shall follow directly.  Have Mykalos tie me a boat in yon rocks.”

Sargon sighed, but relented.  Truly, he was too tender to a woman’s comfort. She feared that would bring him to ill ends.  “Do not linger too long, Csilla.”

She smiled up at him, careful he did not read her sorrow.  “I will be gone before they arrive.”

With a nod, his eyes wary, Sargon left her and headed for the boats beyond.  Csilla sighed, and shivered slightly as she rested her back against the cool rocks.  The weight of the knife concealed beneath her cloak was a cold reminder of what she must do.  She would keep her promise.  Only, it would not be as Sargon believed.

Look for the book that started it all, IN HER NAME, coming soon from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“Confessions in Blood” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

This is not the final cover. A warm "Thank you" to Nikita Gordyn for this cover art!

This is not the final cover. A warm “Thank you” to Nikita Gordyn for this cover art!

Every once in a while, as an author, you encounter a scene that just blows you away. This scene was that for me — totally unexpectedly. I originally intended for Trevor to come around alone, to have to battle his thoughts and personal demons completely alone, to illustrate how much inside of himself he’s gone in order to retreat from what he can’t understand or face. Instead, his disappearance dragged Jaye into the mix, and this amazing bit of character exposition developed all on its own.

“Confessions in Blood” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Atlantis Silver, Book #3) –

 

Ten minutes and a gurney trip later, Jaye frowned in true worry as she realized Trevor was still dazed and not at all himself.  Even worse, the bright fluorescent lights illuminated the blood on his dark skin that the moonlight and shadows masked.

Helping him to his bed, she left him just long enough to collect gauze, warm water, and antiseptic.  She doubted he lost enough blood to need emergency surgery or a transfusion, though the amount was alarming to view.  She frowned.  Even knowing it was probably a superficial head wound, and looked worse than it was, she was worried.

Standing before him, she dipped a piece of gauze in the warm water and began gently cleaning the blood from his face.  If she could get through the blood, she could find out if he needed stitches or not.

Trevor flinched with a hiss, and she raised startled eyes to find him regarding her with clear eyes, as if he’d never been the animal she found hidden in the bushes.

“Jaye?”  His voice was weak, and his hand trembled as he lifted it – the only signs he was actually unwell.  He glanced toward the window, and his brow furrowed.  “What time is it?”

“About two in the morning.”  Jaye bit her lip.  He lost track of time, and she didn’t like that.  Losing time was a bad sign in psychiatric medicine.  She wiped away the last smear of blood, and a chill passed through her.  There weren’t any wounds.  Not a single laceration.  She swallowed past her trepidation, but her voice still came out small and breathless.  “What happened to you?”

He tensed. “I don’t remember.”

The tone of his voice alerted her something was wrong, even before she met his gaze.  His eyes were clear, but evasive.  Damn it, he was lying to her.  “Trevor…”

“No.”

She loosed a small cry of exasperation.  Zero-two-hundred hours, when she barely slept last night, was not the time for him to start pulling his stoic routine on her.

“You never were a good liar.”

His gaze darkened as he stared her in the eye.  “And you must have a lot of practice at it.”

Those words drove the breath from her even more than his bitter tone did.  Had he finally remembered Somalia?  Did he know what she did?  She sought blindly for a place to sit as her knees weakened with fear.  “What do you mean?”

The anger dropped from his face, and he reached out to her, oblivious of the blankets dropping, leaving him naked from the waist up.

“Hey, I’m sorry… I don’t know what that was.  I just… I don’t want to talk about where I went, okay?”

For a reason she couldn’t explain if he asked, his secretive attitude annoyed her.  She went back to cleaning the smaller blood smears from his face and neck.  “Great.  Fine.  Do you want to at least tell me how you ended up naked and covered in blood?”

“Not particularly.”

“Damn it, Trevor!”  She threw the gauze into the bio waste container with more force than necessary and glared at him.  “This isn’t a game.  I’m trying to help you.”

“I’m fine.”

“Funny.  Your boss doesn’t think so.”

“I said, I’m fine.”

“Bullshit.”

His eyes narrowed.  “You never used to swear.”

She bit down on words that would turn the air blue, and instead snapped, “Yeah, well I had to get tough.”

The frown on his face pulled her attention from her anger, even before he hazarded, “Because of me?”

She flinched, in spite of her attempt to remain neutral.  She couldn’t help it; she’d run from the truth for too long.  “Yes.”

His gaze turned away, toward the window, and he looked truly ill for the first time.  “I’m sorry.”

The words hit her out of nowhere, and stung because he had no idea how little she deserved them.  She should be the one begging for his forgiveness.  Jaye bit down hard on her lower lip, and stepped closer.

“Don’t apologize,” she whispered as she stroked his cheek gently.  “Not to me.”

 

Want to know more?  Find out how it all starts in IN HER NAME, coming from Desert Breeze Publishing in September 2014.

“Destiny’s Hand” – Excerpt from “Liberty’s Flight” (BOREALIS II)

Borealis II“Destiny’s Hand”  — Excerpt from Borealis II, “Liberty’s Flight”

Bars offered anonymity. Anonymity offered security, and survival. That was, if they didn’t turn into all-out brawls and bring down the Enforcers, which this one looked like it might do at any moment. Samuel Hanniford cast a wary glance over the boisterous crowd as it surged around the bar, and tried not to look nervous. It never paid to look nervous in a negotiation.

Eyes on the prize, Hanniford. He returned his attention to the man seated across from him. Baltarians were a humanoid-standard race not noted for being exactly forthcoming, but they owed the Rebellion big time, and Sam’s job was to collect.

“Look, we need to know the TPP patrol route through this sector. We know your people monitor them.”

“For a price.” The tall, reed-thin man’s voice was whisper soft, and hissed with his people’s reptilian roots.

Sam thumped his tankard down on the laser-scarred metal table with a clang that would have drawn attention had everyone else’s eyes not been riveted on the bar — and the women dancing on top of it. “Damn it, Eloyd, we had a deal. We kept those bastards from wiping out every man, woman, and child on your planet. Hell, we even kept them from abducting your friggin’ queen. We already paid the price, and you damned well know it!”

The Baltarian leaned back in his seat, a serpentine smile curving his lips — damned smug bastard. “I cannot act on such a price without authorization.”

“So get it.” He wasn’t about to back down on this one. The Rebellion needed these patrol routes, and fast, to have any hope of making a dent in the armored hide of TPP. And Sam had a personal interest in stopping the TPP’s expansion.

“Give me some time.” Eloyd slithered to his feet. “I will be in touch.”

As the Baltarian slunk from the bar, Sam cursed to himself. This mission was turning out as rank as any. But he couldn’t go back. Not yet. The TPP were closing in on him, and until he had solid information, he couldn’t risk running the patrols to get home. And, after nearly six Sol-standard years, he wanted — needed — to go home.

With another oath, Sam rose and turned toward the door. What he really needed right now was some shuteye…

A woman’s scream rent the air, followed by the drunken howls of the men in the bar. He yanked back to look, just in time to see one of the women being carried across the upraised, pawing hands of the bar patrons as she fought and kicked like a screaming hellcat. And, before he could move, or even blink, she came flying at him, landing with a solid thud against his chest, a spitting, hissing she-cat whose claws were set to tear into his hide.

Pick up your copies of  Borealis and Borealis II Science Fiction anthologies at Desert Breeze Publishing today!

“In Faith” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of AshesThe character of Telyn Gwndal began life as a writing exercise… a single line penned on a piece of paper half a lifetime ago, then shoved into a folder and forgotten for years.  What inspired me to open that folder, where I found that long-forgotten sheet of paper, I’ll never know for sure. But as I looked down at that single line on the page, I realized this was someone with a story I wanted to tell… a story I NEEDED to tell. And so began one of the most ambitious projects I’ve as yet undertaken – the quest to create not just a realm, or a world, but an entire universe. It took the better part of a decade, but in the end, I have to say I’m humbled by the result…. And I feel vindicated. I was right. Telyn’s was a story that NEEDED telling, and being the scribe to her and Nacaris’ story is an honor, indeed. :)

“In Faith” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book #1)

Nacaris eased open the stall door and entered the space.  Bloodcloud immediately pricked his ears, then lifted his head and turned toward this new invader to his space.  Looking into the dark, liquid eyes of the horse, Nacaris saw a plea that looked nearly human, as if the horse tried to tell him to help Telyn.

Crouching down beside her, he laid a hand on her shoulder and rubbed gently.  “Telyn?  What is it?”

She jumped, clearly startled, then swiped defensively at her eyes.  “It’s nothing.”

He sighed and eased down beside her, resting his head and back against the wooden wall.  “Isn’t it always?  When do you stop being so damned stubborn?”

She bristled instantly.  “I am not stubborn!”

“Then why can’t you let anyone in?  Why must you always be the brave one, the strong one?”

Her laugh was quiet with sadness, and twisted with a bitter sound.  “That’s just it.  I’m not brave or strong.”

He frowned.  This didn’t sound the cocky, determined warrior he knew.  “I don’t follow…”

She sighed heavily, and turned her face away from him.  “I’ve spent so much of my life running.  What happens if I’m really not good enough to do this?”

He squeezed her shoulder gently, and drew her into his arms.  “What brought this on?  For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been indomitable.”

“But you don’t know me.”

The bitterness in her voice got to him, knotting in his chest like a giant serpent coiled around his heart.  How he wished to tell her the truth!  His arms closed tighter around her, and he leaned to murmur against her ear, “No, but I’d like to.”

He felt the shudder that went through her, before her face lifted to his, and he saw the small, wavery smile on her face.  “Sorry. I guess I’m just nervous about tomorrow.”

That had him frowning, again.  “What about this Seoman bothers you so?”

She offered him a half-shrug, as if she wasn’t sure how to respond.

“You’ve known him a while?”

“Since we were children.  Seoman was an orphan my mother took in when I was very young.  He was a sweet boy, always desperate to please.  When his gifts for Seeing became apparent, the MajiMasters came and took him away.  I’ve only seen him once, since, and he seemed sad.”  She sighed again.  “But what Carmyd said this morning worries me.”

“What did he say?”

“That Seoman is no longer the boy I knew.”

Nacaris nodded, and squeezed her gently.  “Everything will be all right.”

She glanced up at him.  “How can you have so much faith?”

Nacaris couldn’t help himself.  He raised his fingers to her face, skimming soft skin as he leaned closer.  “Because I believe in you.”