“Her Father’s Keep” — Excerpt from PHOENIX RISING

PHOENIX RISING Cover

Phoenix Telyn Gwndal gave up the love of her life for the destiny she was born to bear. As she undertakes the quest levied on her, will she uncover a secret alliance meant to destroy her, or can a shadow from her past save her from the ultimate mistake?

“Her Father’s Keep” — excerpted from PHOENIX RISING (Legends of Tirum, Book 2)

The crumbled ruin of a soaring war keep loomed on the forested horizon, bathed in the bloody streaks of Helios’ setting light.  Telyn’s breath caught in her throat as she stared at the structure, imposing in spite of its dilapidation.  Pain wrenched her heart, startling her.  She’d never been to this place, so why did the mere sight of that decaying ruin fill her with such grief?  Her eyes stung, and she blinked away the tell-tale signs of impending tears.  She didn’t have time for this foolishness.

Determination fueled her forward, toward the destroyed remnants of her father’s lineage – all that remained of her heritage, and the once-mighty Phoenix Clan.  One day, she promised herself silently, she would see it restored.  For now, she intended to search every nook and cranny of the old ruin.  The Phoenix Book was still here.  She could feel it.

Pelarius Brunnari was an evil man, driven by an insatiable desire for power that didn’t rightfully belong to him, but he wasn’t stupid.  Oh, no.  The old fox was wily, right up to the end.  He knew the legends of the Phoenix Book, and probably better than anyone left alive, at that.  It was said, she’d heard whispers once, that the removal of any of the sacred artifacts from those entrusted with their care would not only render the artifact useless, but also quite dangerous to the one who did the removing.  The Aerai Majin, it was said, made sure of that.  And those whispers confirmed Telyn’s gut feeling – the Phoenix Book never really left Phoenix Hall.

Excitement pulsed a fiery song through her veins as she urged Bloodcloud toward the forest surrounding Phoenix Hall.  She had no fear of its darkness – her Bathron eyes would grant her vision even in its darkest corners and brambles.  And, if Kishfa rode with her this night, she’d have the Phoenix Book in her hands before the morning light.

Get your copy of PHOENIX RISING from Amazon.com! Want to see how it all begins? Find Book I: DAUGHTER OF ASHES, available from Amazon.com and Desert Breeze Publishing !

“Call of Fire” — Excerpt from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum)

Daughter of Ashes

 

Telyn Gwndal has always feared Majik. When her destiny brings her back to the place her nightmares were born, Telyn must take up a sacred quest to avenge the father she never knew. Her greatest ally is a man with a secret that could reawaken a past Telyn believes dead and buried, and destroy the truth she holds sacred. Can she trust him with her heart, or will her destiny force her to let him go?

 

Nacaris Onarchar is a man without a home. He thought he left behind the past when everything he loved disappeared from his life. Resigned to his rootless life, he never imagined that a desperate Elder’s request would bring him face-to-face with his past, and a chance to change his future. Can he bring himself to destroy the only love he’s ever known, or will he sacrifice the truth to hold onto a heart he can’t be sure he ever held?

 

“Call of Fire” — Excerpted from DAUGHTER OF ASHES (Legends of Tirum, Book 1)

Telyn.

The voice whispered, light as a breath and reverent as a prayer, in her ear.

The daughter of Ashes has returned. A second voice, as ardent as the first, joined in.

We have been calling. If she is the One, why does she not come to us? This new voice hissed, dark with skepticism.

There is a new power about her. A new ally. It will take time for her to understand, the first voice explained patiently.

We must teach her to wield that power properly, agreed the second. The Phoenix must fly again.

We don’t have time for this, the third muttered impatiently. With every moment we delay, the Book slips further away. Without it, we have no protector. Send the Summoning, and let’s be done with it.

The voices continued to swirl through her, joined by more and more, all chanting in a cadence that pulsed like the Dorfaíle, and tears seeped from her closed eyelids as she fought their siren song. Her heart twisted in her chest as if she suffered diabolical torture, rather than comfortably ensconced in a lavish bed. Those voices were full of desperation that ate through the sleep she tried to cling to. Yet there was a joy in their song, reveling in the mountain’s fire.

The sense of purpose she searched a lifetime for suddenly blossomed in Telyn’s heart as flames licked at her skin from the inside, hot enough to sear flesh from bone. Yet, bizarre calm held even the thought of pain far from her mind. Instead, she tossed in her sleep, attempting to banish the seductive sound that pulled so strongly at her.

Agony grew in the flames around her, until light seared the backs of her eyelids, and pounding heat engulfed her body. With a cry of terror, Telyn sat bolt upright, her eyes flying open.

The room was dark, though shadowy flickers of light crept in around the edges of the roanwood door. A cool breeze shifted the curtains and flowered through the room. Telyn shivered as it hit her sweat-soaked, overheated skin. Her brow furrowed. Camp Houses weren’t known to be drafty — least of all this one. So where was the draft coming from?

A terrifying thought struck her. It couldn’t be!

To prove to herself that she was paranoid, Telyn turned toward the west wall. Her eyes widened, and her stomach wrenched. “I don’t believe it!”

The shutters she so painstakingly made certain were bolted tight now bumped softly against the wall, wide open once again. The face of Raiador peered through the inky blackness outside, lit by over a hundred thousand flickering lights. She was in so much trouble.

Pick up your copy of DAUGHTER OF ASHES today, and continue the journey with Telyn in Legends of Tirum, available from Desert Breeze Publishing!

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

Project Prometheus BadgeEvery 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, currently available from Desert Breeze Publishing.

“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!