“Againt the Rules” — Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground)

MindKillerCoverMatt Clipper is a product of the streets. His slot with the Commandos depends on his ability to keep playing a game with death he’s growing tired of. But with no military skill set, no education to fall back on, and no special skills to call upon, the streets and gangs are his only way to contribute to the team. But when the game he’s been playing goes from deadly to suicidal, his only hope of salvaging his sanity could rest in keeping how close to the edge he really is to himself.

 “Against the Rules” – Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground, Book 2)–

This couldn’t be good.  Jen LaSaulle swung her chair toward the hydrolift’s monitor as the signal of keycard activation buzzed in Comms.  The only people not in the Underground tonight were Ishmael, who was probably at least three thousand miles away, and Matt, who shouldn’t be back until dawn.

She sucked in a breath and fought away the grip of queasiness as her gaze locked onto the image of the black man currently slumped against the wall of the hydrolift, one hand pressed to his side.  Was he injured?

Her heart twisted as she searched his face for signs of pain, and found only weariness.  He must have forgotten about the monitoring system, or he’d never show this kind of vulnerability.

“Rough night?”  She spoke into the Comms headset, aware only he could hear her, in the confines of the soundproofed hydrolift.

Matt’s head jerked up, and all hint of vulnerability was gone as the badass returned full-bloom.  Only now, she knew it was all bullshit.  “Nah, I’m great, Catwoman.”

She rolled her eyes, even aware that he couldn’t see her expression.  When was Matt going to actually let her in?  “I’m a psychologist and a profiler, Clipper.   Give me some credit.”

He swore, and glared toward the camera as the ‘lift came to a halt in the Underground.  “Then read my mind, Doc.  I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Annoyance zipped through her.  This was an old argument.  She wasn’t prepared to have a relationship with a man who couldn’t share himself with her, and he only seemed to want to have a good time.   So they stalled at sex.  She told herself she was fine with that, then called herself a liar.  Still, they had the job, and if he couldn’t respect her as a lover, he was damned well going to respect her as a teammate.  “You don’t have a choice, tough guy.  You have to report in.”

The door to the hydrolift slid closed, but not before she saw his response in an uplifted finger.  Her cheeks burned with fury.  Damn it all, she was sick of this.  She couldn’t get him to talk to her, anymore, without pulling rank as the team fitness evaluator.  Even then, she knew he was handing her a line, even if she couldn’t prove it.  Matt Clipper was not okay.

Shoving to her feet, she stalked through the door and out into the corridor just in time to see Matt heading up the hall toward the housing sector.

“Get back here.”  Her words were cold, and laced with all the fury and pain she held caged inside her.  Matt wouldn’t treat anyone else on the team with this kind of careless disdain.  Why her?  “You know the rules, Clipper.”

He turned, and for a split second, the walls dropped.  Jen sucked in a gasp of surprise and dismay.  Matt was close to dropping – not unusual – but his eyes were wild and troubled.  She had no doubt where he was headed, or what he would do once he got there.  Her anger was forgotten as she hurried toward him.

“Please,” she softened her tone as she approached, and saw him tense as if he meant to flee.  “Just talk to me.  Let me be your friend, Matt.”

He shifted, and his face blanched.  Jen’s eyes widened and her gaze dropped to the floor, where she saw a growing puddle of blood on the concrete and steel floor.  “Oh my god!”

Join the Commandos! Pick up your copy of the critically-acclaimed book that started it all, TAMIA, at Amazon.com today!

“Confrontation” – Excerpt from TAMIA (Underground)

TamiaCover

 

Marine 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.

 

“Confrontation” – Excerpted from TAMIA (Underground, Book 1)

The sound of voices, from Communications, reached him.  The first shivered along his awareness, and he knew instantly that was Tamia.  The other was familiar, and male, but Rick couldn’t place it.  His brow furrowed as he wondered what happened; Rick strode across the command center to the open door of Comms, and froze as the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head.

Tamia sat at the console, her head bent forward so that her hair fell across her face.  Behind her stood Matt Clipper, a grin on his face that Rick wanted to pound out of him as the darker man’s hands massaged her exposed neck and shoulders, wringing a small groan from the woman.

“God, that’s good.”  Tamia’s voice was tinged with laughter.  “Okay, so I stand corrected.  You do have God’s hands.”

A shaft of pure rage avalanched through Rick at sight and words combined.  Dammit, if he couldn’t touch her, he sure as Hell didn’t want anyone else pawing her, either!  His eyes narrowed.  Matt and Tamia were both products of the streets; they probably had more in common than he and Tamia did.  Just how close were these two, anyway?

“I keep tellin’ ya, Chinagirl.  Black is be—” Matt stopped as his gaze flicked over, and met Rick’s scowl.  Rick watched with dark humor as the other man’s eyes widened, just before his hands fell away from Tamia and he muttered, “Oh, shit.”

“Why’d you stop?”  Tamia asked from behind the curtain of her hair, then straightened to look around.  “What’s the mat—?  Rick!”

Matt swallowed hard and took a step away.  His eyes moved nervously to the outside door of Comms.  “I’m outta here.  See ya later, Blade.”

With that, he beat a hasty exit, Rick’s glare following him into the corridor.  As soon as Matt was gone, Rick turned his frustrated rage on Tamia.

“What the hell was going on in here?”

“Not that it’s any of your business.”  Her posture was instantly defensive.  He knew he took the wrong tack with her, but damn it all, he was too pissed to care.  And he sure as hell couldn’t tell her why he was pissed.  Especially not with that red fire that flashed in her eyes.  “Matt just stopped in to drop off his mission notes.  He was helping me work the kinks out of my neck and shoulders.”

“Damn it, Tamia!”  He stalked over to her, yanking her seat around as he bent over her and let her see the frustration that burned in him.  The flicker of fear in her eyes lasted only for a second, but it was enough to turn his roar of frustration into a hot accusation.  “What is it with you?  Do you get some kind of rise out of tormenting people, or something?”

She jerked away in clear anger as she rose to her feet and grabbed up a file.  She ignored him as she headed for the Command Center.  At the door, she finally stopped to look back at him.  “I don’t recall doing anything of the kind.  Just who am I supposedly torturing, anyway?”

“Me,” he growled.  He caught her just inside the doorway as he dropped his head to cover her lips in a punishing kiss.  She gasped against his mouth, and the sound of paper hitting the concrete floor filtered through his consciousness, only to be swept away by a raging flood of hunger as he drank in her sweet response.

 Get your copy of TAMIA today at Amazon.com !

From The Pages: A glimpse from TAMIA (Underground, Book 1)

Tamia 02

Pick up your copy of TAMIA today at http://www.amazon.com/Tamia-Underground-Book-Esther-Mitchell-ebook/dp/B004TCVC02/ or find out more about Esther Mitchell and her books at www.esthermitchell.com

New Book & Series Trailers

Thought I’d share a few of the trailers I recently completed with you, here. The following are from some of my currently available books/series…

Enjoy! :)

And my favorite of the new trailers…

More to come, as I get them completed… As always, please leave comments and let me know what you think. :)

“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