“Dedication” — Excerpt from TRACE OF INNOCENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

ToIWhat happens when you bring together the best independent forensic lab in the country, one of the leading pathologists and criminal profilers in the world, and a Federal agent with a very unique skill set, and a gun loaded with Slayer bullets?

Welcome to Witch Hollow!

A decade-old cold case is about to get brand new life. Only problem is, the prime suspect has no criminal history, and swears she had nothing to do with the murder. When she convinces one of Faith’s team to help her, the future of the entire lab hangs in the balance. If the evidence proves them wrong, everything they’ve worked for could come crashing down.

“Dedication” — Excerpt from TRACE OF INNOCENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book #4) –

“How’s it going, Joyce?” He smiled at the redhead currently frowning at her computer screen. “Where’s Mac?”

Joyce rolled her eyes, then returned her attention to the screen. “Autopsy, where else? We got a possible suicide in, earlier this evening, and you know Faith. It’s going to be another long night. Lucky me, I got stuck with babysitting detail.”

Jonathan’s lips quirked up in a half-smile. It didn’t take him long after he started working with the Bunker crew to figure out Joyce covered concern with sarcasm and sass. He didn’t blame her for being concerned, though he wasn’t about to admit to anyone how concerned he was. Mac would have his head, if she found out. “She does take dedication to the extreme, doesn’t she?”

Joyce looked up at him, then, and her gaze assessed him, before a sad smile twitched at her lips. “Like a dog with a fresh bone. But,” she sighed, and shook her head. “I can’t really blame her. She moved back here to take care of her father, and stayed because her uncle made it clear he needed her here. He even built and funded this facility for her, to keep her close. But now that Ramsey’s gone, and with her only living family on another continent, the Bunker and her work are all she has left. Faith needs someone to need her, and whether she admits it or not, she sees each of these victims as needing her. This gives her purpose.”

Something he’d already figured out for himself, and hearing Joyce confirm his assessment wasn’t the relief he imagined. Mac spent all her time focusing on other people’s needs so she could avoid her own life. He was glad her team was so dedicated to her. Mac needed friends who understood her drive. He already knew most of the Law Enforcement community she dealt with thought she was overbearing and a step shy of terrifying. More than a few probably thought she was crazy, too. Having him in her corner probably didn’t help her reputation any, either. He was well aware most of his colleagues at the FBI thought he lost the plot a long time ago. They just didn’t say anything, because no matter how insane they thought him, they respected his case closure and conviction rate. Results spoke volumes. Still, it didn’t halt the whispers. And those whispers were what brought him out to the Bunker, tonight.

He sighed. “Thanks, Joyce. You can go on home. I’ve got this.”

Her eyes widened in momentary surprise, before understanding dawned, and she heaved a sigh. “I know what that means. And, for the record, I think you’re both nuts.”

He shrugged and headed down the short hallway toward the autopsy room. He couldn’t argue with Joyce’s assessment. There were times he questioned his own sanity.

“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!

“Trooper’s Crusader” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

TamiaCoverThis excerpt introduces a character who, while not a Commando, will become very important to their hunt for the Mole in the Security Network. The character of Carey Feldar is based in large part on a very dear friend of mine whom we always joked would have made an excellent reporter. No one got to the bottom of an issue more thoroughly, even if he was a bit of a conspiracy nut…

“Trooper’s Crusader” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book #1)

Barely five minutes after she settled herself into one of the plush lounge chairs, she heard someone enter the room, and looked up to find a man in his mid-thirties leaning against the doorframe, a curious expression on his stubbly face.  His strawberry-blond hair was in disarray, and his half-hearted attempt at a suit was rumpled enough to convince her that he’d slept in it at least once.

“You’re the lady asking about the Altura piece?”  He sounded suspicious.

“Yes.  My father left some paperwork—”

“I’m not as gullible as Pete, out there,” he snapped as he stepped the rest of the way into the room, and the glass door slid shut behind him.

Tamia straightened instantly as a shot of fear skimmed through her veins.  “Who the hell are you?”

“Carey Feldar.”

She gasped.  She’d heard of him.  Carey Feldar was one of print news’ top-rated war correspondents during the Divide, and the troops were always eager to talk to him.  He was sympathetic to their troubles – “the Trooper’s Crusader,” they called him.  Feldar won four Pulitzers for his coverage of the disaster in Montreal.  “The Carey Feldar?”

He smirked.  “There sure as hell ain’t two of me, honey.  And I’m the man who snapped this pic,” he held up the clipping she’d given Pete.  Feldar’s eyes narrowed.  “I know who you are, too, Lieutenant.”

“Captain,” she corrected automatically, and then sighed.  “Okay, so I was there.  I didn’t really want to advertise that fact, Mr. Feldar.”

“I’d already figured that out, but I think I’m going to enjoying hearing why.”  A brief grin slashed his face, and was gone.  “And congratulations on your promotion.”

She glanced around.  “Is there somewhere else we can talk about this?  I need some information from you, about that photo.”

His gaze fell to the clipping in his hand again, and he frowned.  “Why do I get the feeling it isn’t aesthetic appreciation that brought you here?”

“Because it’s not,” she confirmed grimly.  “It’s a lot more important than that.”

He looked resigned, but interested.  “So what’s in it for me?”

“The chance to help prevent another war.”

He smirked.  “Haven’t you heard, Captain?  War means news.  Why would I want to put myself out of a job?”

“Because you’re playing a game with me, and maybe even yourself, right now.  You’re the Trooper’s Crusader, and that wasn’t a title you earned, or ever took, lightly.”  She met his green eyes head-on, reading the discomfort there.  “You saw enough of war and death to never want to see more.”

His shoulders slumped as he nodded.  “All right, you got me there.  Let’s go on up to my office.  I’ve got plenty to show you.”

Find out more about this and other books in the Underground series on my website!

“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!

“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!

“Dangerous Proposal” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground) [ADULT CONTENT]

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.

(WARNING: This scene contains sexually explicit language. Reader discretion is advised)

“Dangerous Proposal” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground, Book #1)

“Try it again, Frank.” The engine compartment door muffled Rick’s voice as he torqued an electrical plug a little tighter. Stepping back, he swiped a grease-darkened hand across his already-smudged face and listened intently as Frank turned over the Rover’s Chameleon system.

Designed to make the transport gunship silent and invisible, Chameleon engines were state-of-the-art technology comprised of sophisticated electrical systems, holotechnology, and hydro engines that ran on superheated water. So far, only the Commandos’ Rover was equipped with the prototype system. Lately, though, the damned thing was anything but silent.

Rick frowned as he heard the low-pitched whine of the engine on rotation. “Cut it, Frank! It’s still whining.”

The whine died, and Rick sighed as he bent over into the engine compartment again. He’d been at this ever since he left Tamia in Comms last night. At the point when he knew sleep was beyond him, he decided to get something productive accomplished. He pored through the manuals Science and Research sent over for the sophisticated Chameleon. Those manuals might as well be in Greek, for all the good, they did him. He wasn’t much of a mechanic when it came to heavy-duty machinery. So he was glad when Frank came to help at 0600 this morning, until the other man admitted that the technology stumped him, too. Rick sighed. What they really needed around this place was a damned mechanic…

He nearly cracked his skull open on the compartment casing as a hand suddenly ran over his rear, to become fingertips as they traced a shivery line up the center of his spine. He jerked upright in shock, even as his body went on red alert. He withdrew his head from the engine, rubbing it as he muttered curses. Rick glanced up to find Tamia beside him, an impish grin on her face that stalled his heart.

“Sorry.” She looked anything but. “I couldn’t resist. You’ve got a great ass, you know.”

He gave her a mock scowl as he rubbed his still-aching head. He knew what this was all about, now. Tamia was getting even for his alpha-male stunt in Comms last night. “You’re late.”

Her grin widened. “I had a lot to weed through. Besides, you weren’t in your quarters when I got there. I had to come track you down.” She glanced over his grease spattered coveralls and skin, and one dark eyebrow rose. “You need a shower.”

Those words sent a spike of lust through him as his mind conjured images of her in that shower with him, her soft skin damp and slick beneath his hands. Her long, smooth back, those slim, capable hands clenched against the tile as he slid in and out of her slickness from behind. He drew a sharp breath and bit down on an oath as his jeans tightened painfully against his sudden hard-on. That she could drive him to this state with a single, innocent comment told him how tight he was strung, lately. Time to give her back what those  come-fuck-me eyes offered. He let his eyes trail over her skin-tight bodysuit beneath the open shirt she wore, and smiled languidly. “You planning to join me?”

Get your copy of TAMIA today, and look for other Underground Titles, available now!

“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!