“Betrayed” – Excerpt from ILLEGAL PURSUIT (Section Psi)

SectionPsidecalWhen the past becomes the present, the greatest terror isn’t what happens next, but what might not happen at all. Detective Jack Peterson was a normal guy, and a member of the Martian Colonial Armed Response, until a shuttle crash left him stranded in the midst of one of Mars’ dangerous Dead Zones. He survived, but his ordeal in the Dead Zone left him battling for his life against the dreaded Martian Fever, and his scars run a lot deeper than his skin, his genetics forever altered. Jack’s never fully accepted the changes he’s undergone, and refuses to learn how to make use of his Psi abilities. But when he’s faced with losing the woman who gives his life meaning, he’ll have to accept that his abilities might be the only way of saving her life.

“Betrayed” — Excerpt from ILLEGAL PURSUIT (Section Psi, Book 1)

He was going to kill her!

Jack slammed his fist into the metal and concrete amphitheater wall and swore beneath his breath. Even physical pain wasn’t enough to drive away the sting of her manipulation. It would be an understatement – and a fatal one – for anyone to think he was angry. He was damned well beyond angry. And, to make matters worse, the woman whose beautiful neck he wanted to throttle so badly was long gone. Rage and hurt knotted together in his gut, a typical reaction to one of Kathrin’s stunts and, like normal, he honestly wasn’t sure what he wanted more – to throttle her, or hug her. At the moment, he’d put his money on throttle, if for no other reason than that he was twice as angry at himself as he was at Kathrin. He let his guard down. He thought he was safe with Kathrin.

He should know better, should have been prepared for this. He’d been here, in this catch-twenty-two between duty and friendship, before. Six years ago, it was Xander Mylonas who hadn’t listened, too obsessed with his pursuit of justice, at any cost, to see any of the dangers to himself or others. And the worst part was, Jack wasn’t sure Xander was ever sorry for what he did.

Jack winced as one crystal clear reminder chimed in his brain. Kathrin wasn’t Xander. She was everything but immune to the feelings of others, and he could at least understand her crusade, even if he saw the dangers to her she refused to acknowledge. Jack squeezed his eyes closed and pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers as he fought to control the frustrated urge to burn something.

Kathrin was different, no matter how he looked at it. The whole damned situation was. Hell, he’d been falling for her since the first day he looked into those indigo eyes. She used his feelings for her to manipulate and distract him, and the betrayal stung. But what hit him hardest was knowing, after that kiss, she had to know how he felt about her. And she still used him.

The need to burn something, to release the pain and tension Kathrin’s betrayal stirred in him, grew unbearable. He was going insane with the heat of rage pulsing in his body. His blood was boiling, and his skin felt hot and too tight. If he didn’t release this energy soon, he was afraid he’d explode.

His gaze cast wildly around as the pressure built, and he snatched up a trembling fistful of discarded plastisheet fliers, relief pouring through him at the feel of combustible material in his hand. Eyes closed, he focused the energy into his hands, the same way he did when he charged his Wulf-120. Heat swelled in his blood, and fire licked through his pulse like lava rushing toward release. He could feel his hands growing hot and saw the glow of red against his eyelids that told him his ability was gathering power. He caught the acrid scent of smoke and flesh before there was an audible hiss, and the pages burst into flame. The fumes of burning plastic and acetate reached his nose, and, within seconds, the fliers were a pile of melted goop in his hand. It left a disgusting mess, but at least his temper disappeared with the flames, and he could think rationally again.

As calm settled over him, Jack drew a deep breath of relief and stared at the goop in his hand as it cooled and hardened into a plastic lump. He couldn’t help but wonder if that lump was a sign of how close he really was to the edge. Funny, how the mere sound of Kathrin’s voice was capable of calming him, making him sane, while her actions inflamed his rage, and abilities. She had the power to destroy him with her little crusade. And that was the most troubling thought of all.

“Eviscerated” — Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

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Watching Faith and Jonathan’s characters develop and learn to trust each other, over the course of these books, is some of the most fun I’ve had with a series, to date. Particularly Faith, as she comes to grips not only with her developing relationship with Jonathan, but also with the evidence of the paranormal her involvement with Jonathan continues to drop in her lap. For a woman so terrified of the paranormal she’s gone out of her way to declare it non-existent, being faced with evidence to the contrary is a difficult thing to accept.

So far, she’s only faced villains who involve the paranormal. Can she trust Jonathan enough to accept someone involved in the paranormal as a victim?

“Eviscerated” — Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book 6)

“Max didn’t do this, Mac.”

“What makes you so certain he’s not responsible?” Faith whipped around to glare at him. She was getting sick of his refusal to accept what was right in front of them both. “So far, all the evidence says Maximillian Prescott is the killer.”

“I know Max, okay? He doesn’t operate this way.”

That brought her up short. She expected him to bring up some kind of psychic mumbo-jumbo about reading Max’s mind or something. “What does that mean?”

“Max is Covenant-bound. And he’s been around long enough to abhor unnecessary bloodshed or cruelty.” Jonathan eyed the eviscerated corpse pinned to the parking garage wall with railway spikes. “This would take someone with a sick mind to even come up with. You’ve talked to Max. Do you really think he’s capable of it, or are you just being disagreeable because of me?”

Faith crouched beside the decedent’s mutilated feet under the guise of examining the damage, but she was aware she didn’t fool Jonathan for a second. They both knew she was hiding her discomfort with his accusation from him.

“Whatever did this, it hardly left much in the way of flesh on the feet. Almost as if it started there, and worked its way up.” She glanced over her shoulder at him. “And no, I don’t think your friend is capable of that. I’ve never seen trauma that presents quite this way, before. It’s not even ritualistic. It’s almost like something was… eating the feet, and then just scraped the rest of the flesh and organs from the body.”

Jonathan frowned. “How do you know that?”

She jerked her head toward a bloody mound in the shadowy corner near the support beam. “Because who or whatever did this left them all behind.”

Jonathan shined his flashlight over the darkened corner, and grimaced. “That’s just nasty.”

“On that, we agree.” She studied the feet a moment longer. Strangely, just enough tendon had been left attached to keep all the bones in place. Almost as if the killer knew exactly what he or she was doing. She frowned. “This body was posed. Our killer knows anatomy.”

“That seems kind of obvious, since they helped this guy out of his skin like an old suit.”

“Yes.” She rose to her feet, still frowning. “What I don’t understand, yet, is why.”

See how this unusual partnership begins, in SIGHT UNSEEN, coming soon.

“Walking Ghosts” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

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“Walking Ghosts” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book 1) :

As he and Jen moved through the trees on the south side of the complex, a bullet ricocheted off a tree next to Watchdog’s head, barely missing his ear.

“Shit!”  He swore as he dropped down behind the cover of the bushes.  Then, in a whisper, he said, “We’ve been made, Cat!  Some motherfucker’s shooting at us.”

She didn’t respond, and he turned to see why.  His blood congealed as he saw her, lying half-propped against a tree. Dark blood soaked her sleeve, and her hand was clamped to her shoulder.

“Cat!”

She reached to touch her ‘link as he crawled to her.  “Damn bullet winged me, Watchdog.  Wasn’t fast enough.I’ll be all right in a minute…”

“Like Hell you will!”  Savage fear launched through him, and his words emerged more growl and speech as he tapped his hand to the group COMlink on his belt.”  Angel, this is the Hornet’s Nest.  We’re down one.  Meet you at the front gate.  Watch out, the ghost is walking.  Repeat, the ghost is walking.”

“I am on the way.”

 

To find out more about Underground, and other titles, please visit my website

 

As always, please leave a comment! :)

“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.”

“Friendly Persuasion” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of AshesI’m a Science Fiction writer, when it comes down to it. While I’m eclectic in my reading tastes, I’ve always preferred to write what I call Bradbury-style Science Fiction (ie, Science Fiction slanted toward the societal and human aspects of Science. Some people call it “soft Science Fiction”… but that never seemed right, to me). Yes, I also thrive off of Romance, as the human heart and human motivations are fascinating to me.  One thing that it never really occurred to me to write, for a long time, is Fantasy. It just never seemed gritty or real enough for me.

One day, in my “doodling” (random writing of sentences and scenes to get the creative juices flowing), I penned a line that would change my viewpoint on Fantasy completely.  It would become the core motivation of an entire journey into a world full of magic, mystery, and a few surprises I won’t yet divulge :) … and introduced me to a character with a story every bit as real as any I’d written so far.

 

“Friendly Persuasion” – Excerpted from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book #1)

Inside the cave, Telyn removed her ruined woolen cloak and tossed it to one side in a disgusted motion.  Not that taking her frustration out on the cloak solved her problems, but it did make her feel more in charge of a situation already spiraling out of control.  She liked that cloak!  It was a mud-brown length of marmot wool that, while not particularly costly, was her favorite riding cloak.  That drab brown garment had offered her anonymity on many occasions when her only other cloak – a scarlet length of brushed fleece her mother had gifted her with – would have made her presence painfully apparent.

“What’s riding you?”

She turned from her contemplation of the cloak to find Nacaris at her side, his long hair and clothing dripping miniature puddles on the dirt floor of the cavern.  She sighed heavily, and shook her head.  She owed him an apology.  No time like the present.

“Nacaris, I—“

“Shh.”  One long, capable finger pressed to her lips.  “I figured out what you were trying to say.  You’re right – you don’t know me well enough to see me as a friend, no matter what else we share, and I can’t give you the answers you’re looking for.”

She turned toward him, her body instinctively seeking his warmth.  “Why not?  Are you running from someone?”

He chuckled, then sighed.  “No, not exactly.”

She frowned.  “What is it, then, exactly?”

“I can’t tell you.”

The grim set of his mouth and features told her how determined he was to keep his secret.  With a sigh, Telyn leaned into him, sliding her arms around his waist and pressed her face to his damp chest.  “We’re all right?”

His arms came around her, squeezing her against himself as he dropped a kiss on her head.  “Always.”

Relief sighed through her.   Perhaps her luck wasn’t as foul as she believed.

 

DAUGHTER OF ASHES is available from Desert Breeze Publishing.  Find out more about Legends of Tirum at www.esthermitchell.com

Resurrected: Excerpt from SOMEONE TO DIE FOR (Project Prometheus)

PPSeriesDecalI got an introduction to two fascinating new people over last weekend. One wasn’t actually new to me, but while I always assumed there was a story behind those tormented green eyes, I had no idea what it would be, and didn’t expect to ever learn. Logan MacCauley was an enigmatic and solitary figure when I first met him during the drafting of his brother, Ryan’s, story. He didn’t immediately strike me as the type to ever have any kind of romantic entanglements. That is, until this past weekend, when I also met Belinda “Billie” Cranshaw-Hastings. Billie is a woman with a difficult story to tell, and a secret she’s been able to keep from everyone — everyone except Logan.  And, as their story begins to emerge, I understand why Logan has become solitary. Only time will tell if he can find his way back.

Excerpt from Project Prometheus: SOMEONE TO DIE FOR –

Billie hunched down in the driver’s seat of her rented sedan, trying to look like she belonged there among the hedgerows and prize roses of Kensington’s wealthy streets.  What she felt like was a first class fraud.  Why had she thought this would be easy?  Resurrecting a life never was.

She swallowed hard, and her gaze fell briefly to the picture tacked to the dashboard in front of her.  In it, a cherubic little face, framed by dark curls, grinned up at the camera.  Pain twisted in her chest.  Her little Melanie would be six, now.  She’d missed so many precious years.  Her head thumped down against the hands crossed on her steering wheel, and she fought tears for what had to be the hundredth time since she left Houston.  How could she have been so naïve, so stupid?

Roger took her baby away.  That was what she got for marrying the first smooth-talking Prince Charming Wannabe to come her way.  She should have known better.  People like her just didn’t marry rich guys like Roger Lloyd Hastings of the Maryland Hastings.  His mother had delighted in reminding Billie of that fact every chance she got in their brief three-year marriage.  Until Melanie was old enough to “leave the brood sow” as her mother-in-law so haughtily put it.

Sick, helpless rage roiled in Billie’s stomach, and she wondered if it was stress, or just the fact that she’d eaten nothing but a stale donut in the past three days – ever since that slimy P.I. she hired in DC had turned out to be more interested in her ex’s family money than in Billie’s heartache and need for justice.

“Billie?”  She turned at the sound of her name, before she remembered she wasn’t supposed to be her.  She’d cut her hair, dyed it, and she was wearing shades.  No one should recognize her.  And when she saw who half-crouched beside her car door, the donut she consumed about made a reappearance.  Logan MacCauley

“My God, Billie, what’re you doing here?”  His dark green eyes skimmed over her, his face lined in worry.  “You changed your hair.”

Belatedly, it seemed to dawn on him why she was there, which was a good thing, because she couldn’t speak if her life depended on it.  This man knew her deepest, darkest secrets.  He knew the truth about Melanie’s birth – a truth she hadn’t dared speak in the three years since her divorce.

“You’ve come back for her.”

She couldn’t very well deny it.  Billie nodded.   Then, clearing her throat, she met his gaze again.  “I thought you were in Italy.”

He lifted one shoulder in a negligent half-shrug, then moved around the hood of her car to open the passenger side door.  He slid into the seat without asking if it was all right with her, then stared at her again for a long moment.  Finally, he drew and released a breath, and shook his head.  “Damn, you look good.  Even with red hair.”

Her eyes narrowed.  “Logan.  What. Are. You. Doing. Here?”

He glanced toward the fancy Victorian mansion, then lifted one dark eyebrow at Billie.  “I imagine the same thing you are.  Except I don’t have a restraining order keeping me from that front door.”

Billie’s throat closed, and she reached out in blind panic to clutch his arm.

“You’re not going to…”  She couldn’t finish the terrible idea.  She hadn’t spent the last of her meager savings only to lose in a legal battle she couldn’t face, had she?

He watched her with that level, hooded gaze for a long moment, before he finally spoke.  “A daughter belongs with her mother.”

Enigmatic to the last, and neither confirming nor denying her fears.  And that, more than anything she’d been through so far, scared the life out of her.  She had the dreadful feeling she was about to lose her baby forever.

Truth Revealed: Excerpt from SISTER OF DRAGONS (Legends of Tirum)

Sister of Dragons CoverLegends of Tirum is not my first foray into the world of Fantasy, but it has the distinction of being one of the most emotionally impactful. Because it follows the same set of main characters, particularly the warrior-woman Telyn, I had the chance to let you, the readers, get to know these characters in a much deeper way than any other Fantasy series I’ve had a hand in.

I introduced Telyn and Nacaris both in Daughter of Ashes, and followed the twists and turns of Telyn’s quest and their changing relationship through Phoenix Rising, Spirit Mage, and Mistress of Cats. Now, we join them on the journey to help two of their friends. A journey that will bring them both back to their shared past, and questions that were left unanswered half a lifetime before.

Excerpt from Sister of Dragons (Legends of Tirum, Book 5):

“What’s bothering you, Telyn?”

She glanced up at Nacaris in surprise, and then sighed. Of course he’d be able to tell she was worried.

“What if he’s forgotten me?”

Nacaris’ laughter rang with disbelief. “I doubt all the time in existence could blank you from Dariadus’ mind. Don’t you remember what Marat told you, in Ulambara?”

She relaxed slightly as she recalled the Mummer they encountered in the Gild’s holiest city. He’d welcomed them with open arms. If she was banished by Dariadus, surely Marat would have been more wary?

“Besides,” Nacaris continued, as if unaware of her change in demeanor, “if anyone should worry about his reception, it should be me.”

Her lavender gaze snapped his way as a knife of concern sliced through her. “Why?”

“Dariadus banished me himself, after you left.” He frowned, his gaze averted from hers. “After I held him at the point of my blade and threatened to kill him if he didn’t tell me where you’d gone.”

Telyn barely contained her gasp as she stared at her lover in a mingling of horror and gratitude. This man traded a life he loved for the rootless wandering of a mercenary, all because he loved her?

“Why?” She asked again, her voice rough with unshed tears. “Why would you give it all up for someone like me?”

“You still don’t understand, do you?”

She glared at him. “Understand what?”

He reached out, took her hand, and lifted it, gauntlet and all, to his lips. “Without you, Telyn, the rest means nothing.”

“The Hit” – Excerpt from NOWHERE TO HIDE (Project Prometheus)

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Today’s offering is excerpted from another of my current Project Prometheus works-in-progress, as part of my lead-in to my upcoming re-release, self-published, of IN HER NAME, the first book in the series.

This particular piece comes from NOWHERE TO HIDE.  Meet Candace Billings, daughter of a man with connections that could get her killed.

 

 

“The Hit” – Excerpted from NOWHERE TO HIDE (Project Prometheus)

            This is it.  I’m going to die.

The thought slipped through Candace Billings’ mind like a snake, gone in a flash as the dark sedan slammed into the side of her sports car again. Grim humor gripped her as she acknowledged it wasn’t actually her anything.  She didn’t know a damned thing about cars. This was Ben’s car, sliding out of control on the rain-slick road as she fought to break free from the shove of the other vehicle.

God, please don’t let me die here.

What she was praying for, she didn’t know.  Death would be preferable to being returned to Ben’s fancy townhouse, or worse, to her father’s sprawling mansion.  Still, Candace gritted her teeth and fought the out-of-control car, and the jarring pound of the hitman’s vehicle.

And she had no doubt he was a hitman.  One of the cartel’s thugs, no doubt, employed strictly to take care of people like her.  Candace barked a sharp laugh, but didn’t dare spare a glance for the backpack on the passenger seat beside her, or a thought for its contents.  She didn’t have time.

A guardrail loomed in the beam of her headlights, and she swore softly beneath her breath as she slammed the brake to the floor.  The screech of the expensive machinery protesting the hard use joined the chorus of squealing rubber and the splinter of crushed metal and fiberglass.  Then, there was a sickening crunch, and pain seared through her body as she flew forward, caught between the guardrail to her left and the gunning engine of the sedan to her right.  Her breath stopped in her lungs as the seatbelt strangled her, then snapped, and a nauseating crack filled the compartment.  She slumped sideways with a groan as pain exploded through her, and only the tortured squeal of the windshield wipers kept her company as she tumbled into darkness.

Want to know more about Project Prometheus?  Stay tuned… And look for the upcoming re-release of IN HER NAME, coming soon from Esther Mitchell!

“In Raiador’s Shadow” – Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Legends of Tirum: Daughter of Ashes

Legends of Tirum: Daughter of Ashes

This excerpt comes from my currently-available Legends of Tirum Fantasy-Romance series (heavier on the Fantasy than the Romance, in this case).  The series can be found for sale in e-book at www.desertbreezepublishing.com or via www.amazon.com and in print at Amazon.com

 

Excerpt from Daughter of Ashes (Legends of Tirum, Book 1) –

Raiador.

“Quite a sight, isn’t it?”

Her attention whipped to her left at that query, to find a man standing beside her. He had the long, plaited hair of a Borderlander, and his tarnished armor screamed mercenary loud enough the dead could have heard it. And yet, something told her he was neither.

“Excuse me?”

He nodded toward Raiador. “The mountain. Never seen anything quite like it.”

She peered closer in the diming light, trying to discover what it was about him that convinced her he wasn’t exactly what his appearance claimed. He was tall, even to her with her Bathron blood. That could be a Borderlander trait — the few she met were easily as tall as she was. His mud-brown hair hung midway down his back, woven into the traditional Borderlander plaits. But there were secrets in his smoky-green gaze that told her he wasn’t who he appeared. A sense of kinship to this man blanketed her — she was more than she appeared, as well, even if she wasn’t sure what that was, yet. This man’s charisma told her he was far from the mercenary his garb declared him to be.

A well-worn scabbard hung from an equally abused leather belt, but his sword hilt had the gleam of care, and the glint of metal at the top of his scuffed black boots hinted that he was well armed. He wasn’t a man to take lightly, and she had to wonder if he was friend, or foe.

“And you are?” She frowned up at him, daring him to meet her gaze.

He did, but those eyes remained shuttered, not allowing her access to his thoughts. “No one of consequence, Sera.”

Trailers and Books

I thought I’d share some recently created book trailers with you… :)  Please feel free to share the link to this post with anyone you think might be interested… And stay tuned for the announcement of a total make-over of www.esthermitchell.com

This first one is a series trailer for my Underground series, available from Under The Moon (www.underthemoon.org).  This is a Speculative/Science Fiction series that’s received quite a bit of praise, including a Recommended Read from Fallen Angels Reviews, several years ago:

If Science Fiction isn’t your thing, and you prefer a Fantasy world, full of swords and sorcery, quests, warriors, and magic… Have a peek at the following trailers, for my Legends of Tirum series, available from Desert Breeze Publishing (www.desertbreezepublishing.com):

And, as always, you can find out more about any of these books, and more, at www.esthermitchell.com