“Marked For Death” – Excerpt from NICK OF TIME (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

NoTWhat 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!

When a young woman is abducted from a Pennsylvania state psychiatric facility, it looks like a straightforward kidnapping, until her real identity is revealed, and the agent responsible for locking her down is put back on the case. Now, FBI Agent Jonathan Caulder and his new partner, Faith MacKenzie, are in a race against time, before an ancient Order uses a terrible secret to commit genocide.

“Marked for Death” – Excerpt from NICK OF TIME (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book #3) —

Faith glanced at the girl curled up in the motel room chair across from her, and worry tugged at her. Shawna didn’t look well. The girl hadn’t looked well since they found her, but even less so since that seizure.

“Are you okay?”

Ancient eyes that didn’t belong in such a young face stared back at her, sheened with tears.

“Doctor MacKenzie?” The girl’s soft voice emerged, hesitant, as she hugged her arms tighter around her shins and rested her cheek against her upraised knees, her gaze going back to the rain-slicked window. “What’s it like to fall in love?”

The question blindsided Faith, and she jerked back in surprise. How did she answer this question? She wasn’t prepared to provide motherly advice. Especially not about something she’d never figured out for herself. Finally, she settled on the truth, and sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever been in love.”

Shawna’s head nodded against her knees in an awkward shrug and shift motion. “I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ll never know.”

Faith’s worry edged deeper. Shawna’s spiral into depression, following her seizure, was a very bad sign. “Sure, you will. You’re young. You have a lot of time to figure it out.”

Those ancient eyes turned her way again. Only, now, the tears that were only a glimmer before traced the girl’s cheeks. “No, I don’t. I’m dying, Doctor MacKenzie. Didn’t Agent Caulder tell you?”

Faith’s chest constricted. Despite her job, death wasn’t an easy thing to deal with. Not the slow, wasting kind of death she watched her father go through. She wasn’t stupid or naïve – she knew kids died of terrible diseases every day. But the sad resignation in Shawna’s eyes got to her. Leaning forward, she stretched out a hand to cover Shawna’s clasped hands.

“No,” she answered softly, careful to keep her pity tucked deep inside. “He didn’t mention it. What’s your diagnosis?”

A sad, teary smile tugged the very edges of Shawna’s lips. “I’m Legacy, Doctor MacKenzie. After my first episode, they started medicating the Legacy, suppressing it, until Mr. George found me. He helped me, but it was already too late. The dreams had taken hold. Besides, Mara don’t have the greatest of lifespans, to start with. There’s no medical diagnosis. There’s just madness, and death.”

With that, she turned her attention back to the rainy day outside, and Faith had the feeling the girl wanted to be left alone. With a small sigh, she released Shawna’s hands, and rose to her feet, moving to the counter where Jonathan left Shawna’s case file. Determination flooded her. She wasn’t buying this nonsense about mythical legacies, evil dreams, and whatever the hell Mara were. Every disease had a root, and if she could find Shawna’s, maybe she could come up with a treatment. Maybe there was even a cure, out there. All it took was a clear mind, and the ability to see past all the superstition. Good thing she was here, after all.

Look for Book #1, SIGHT UNSEEN, coming from Desert Breeze Publishing in May 2016!

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“Deals with the Devil” – Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

BoEWhat 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!

When kidnapping turns to murder, the hunt could turn from dangerous to deadly for Dr. Faith MacKenzie and her team. A four-year-old cold serial kidnapping cold case is red-hot again, with fresh bodies turning up at a ten-year-old crime scene, and the daughter of a wealthy Witch Hollow family is abducted in broad daylight. Now, time is running out for Elizabeth Prescott, and the price of failure could also mean the life of a man Faith’s partner seems strangely determined is innocent.

“Deals with the Devil” — Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book 6) —

Faith pushed open the heavy, steel door to the abandoned garage warily, shining her flashlight into the dark interior. Her heart thudded harshly against her ribs, and she struggled to keep her breathing slow and even. She knew coming here alone wasn’t a smart idea, but she didn’t have a choice. She didn’t run the statistics for survival in her head – she didn’t want to know how much danger she was in.

“Hello?” She called into the darkness, uncertain who she was supposed to meet, or what she’d find, here. She didn’t want to think she’d been lured her to discover Elizabeth Prescott’s dead body any more than she wanted to contemplate whether she was walking into her own death. She had to stay focused on what she did know, and the only clue she had was that someone claimed to know what happened to Elizabeth.

No one answered her, and Faith steeled herself, then pushed the door open even further, until the sparse street lights filtered into the building ahead of her. Then, with a resolute breath, Faith took a cautious step inside the building, swinging her flashlight in a wide arc, illuminating empty garage bays full of stagnant, algae-filled water, stacks of tires that looked like they’d been slowly rotting away since Katrina, and electrical fixtures that could probably double as electrocution devices, if there was even still a current running to them. Hisses and chittering noises in the dark told her the only inhabitants were probably local wildlife – none of which she was particularly wild about meeting – though an eerie sense she wasn’t alone crawled along her spine.

“Anyone here?”

“Are you alone?” Rasped a breathy voice from the shadows beyond where Faith’s flashlight could reach, sending another shiver down her spine. She was reminded of the Prescott crypt, and the strange, ominous presence of Marie Prescott.

“Yes,” she managed, careful to keep her voice calm and unafraid. She needed to keep the upper hand, and that meant showing no fear.

“Good.” The voice, stronger and deeper, suddenly came from directly behind her, and the heavy door slammed shut. Faith jumped, her self-reminder about showing no fear fleeing as a shadow loomed over her, and her flashlight went out, plunging the room into pitch dark. Then, before she could draw another breath – never mind move – a large hand closed around her throat, and she was tossed across the room, to bounce off a stack of tires and drop to the floor with enough force her head impacted the concrete, and the darkness swam before her eyes, closing in around her with suffocating speed. As heavy, rubber objects – the tires, most likely – pelted down on her, drawing groans of pain with each impact, one final thought sparked through her mind. At least she slipped Jonathan the note. Even if she died here, someone would find her. Jonathan would avenge her.

“Secrets and Abductions” – Excerpt from NICK OF TIME (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

 

When a young woman is abducted from a Pennsylvania State inpatient mental facility, Dr. Faith MacKenzie is about to be dragged into one of the most unusual cases she’s ever worked — a case with a living victim, and a race against time. If Shawna Hollister isn’t found before the secret society known as the Crucibani figure out how to access her memories, the end result could be mass genocide.

 

“Secrets & Abductions” — Excerpt from NICK OF TIME (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book 3) —

“So, when are you going to tell me what’s really wrong with this girl?” Faith looked up from the file with a frown. “There’s nothing in her file to indicate any kind of mental illness. In fact, there’s hardly anything in her file.”

Jonathan perched at the edge of her desk, the familiar flash of metal from the Challenge coin he carried passing over his hand as he rolled it across his knuckles. “She’s not mentally ill.”

She knew the implication of those words. “She’s one of your special cases, isn’t she?”

One brow lifted. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Like Jenna, and that other girl — the one we found in the fire, last month.”

“You don’t have to make it sound sordid.”

She sighed as she laid the file flat on her desk and leaned forward. “You know what I mean. Why was she in a mental hospital?”

“Does it matter?”

“Of course it does.” She frowned as she rose to her feet. “I can’t profile her abductor, or figure out where she might be, if I don’t know why he took her.”

Jonathan straightened. “He?”

“Figure of speech.” She shrugged. “Statistically, abductions of adult and teenage females are committed overwhelmingly by men. What I don’t understand,” she stopped in front of him, hands on her hips, “is why you’re being so secretive about this.”

Jonathan sighed, and straightened, to stand before her, tossing the coin into the air and catching it, before pocketing it. His gaze, when it met hers, was somber. “Mac, I didn’t put Shawna in that institution. She begged us to put her there. She knew it was the only safe place.”

“Why?”

“There are things about this case that won’t make sense to you. Shawna Hollister is one of those things.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You don’t think I can handle it?”

“No.” He met her gaze levelly. “Not yet.”

“Midnight at the Mausoleum” — Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

Typically, I don’t write series in order, per se. I draft all the story packets (my ideas, laid out in a general chapter-by-chapter format) in the beginning, but I will fill in scenes as they come to me, then make changes accordingly as I fine-tune, for the series. Guardians, Inc. and Witch Hollow have definitely fit that mold.

Lately, I’ve been working on Witch Hollow’s 6th book, BODY OF EVIDENCE…

What’s a pathologist to do when the body parts believed to be from the same victim instead turn out to be from a dozen different victims? Add in a missing girl from a wealthy family, abducted in a similar manner as all the other victims, and a man with a very dark family secret to keep, and Faith MacKenzie and her Bunker crew have their work cut out for them. And when the missing girl’s trail takes Faith and Jonathan into the dark underside of New Orleans’ paranormal community, it may just turn out to be more than Faith can handle.

“Midnight at the Mausoleum” – Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book 6) —

“So, are you going to tell me what we’re doing in the middle of a cemetery, in the middle of the night?” Faith cast a glance his way. “This isn’t how I usually exhume a body.”

He quirked her a wry half-grin she could barely see by the light of her flashlight. “We’re not exhuming anyone. And this is the only way we get in. Max’s relatives are a little… eccentric.”

Her brows lifted, and she fought down the urge to swear. Why hadn’t she seen this coming? “This is another one of your little ghost hunt things, isn’t it? Jonathan…”

“No. Just trust me, okay, Mac? If we’ve got any hope of finding Elizabeth alive, we have to use every resource at our disposal. You need to try and keep an open mind, here.” He turned to pin her with an intense stare made all the more unsettling by the night-draped cemetery around them. “And stay close to me. No wandering off. And, Mac? Don’t touch anything.”

She rolled her eyes, and forced a laugh. “You make it sound like we’re walking into a minefield.”

He didn’t laugh, and his somber expression didn’t so much as flicker. “I’m serious, Mac. You stick to me like glue, and don’t touch a thing, or this is going to end very badly for both of us.”

Something about his tone… Faith swallowed hard as sudden fear closed around her throat. Her voice rasped when she finally managed, “Just who are these people?”

He sighed, and resumed walking. “Vampires.”

Her feet felt frozen in place, disbelief ricocheting through her, before she forced herself to start moving again. He’d pulled some strange ones, in their time as partners, but this took the cake. “Vampires? Really, Jonathan…”

“Very traditional ones. Old World. They like their theatrics.” He stopped, looking up at an imposing mausoleum. “We’re here. Remember what I said, Mac.”

She swallowed again. “Close. Don’t touch. Gotcha.”

And, as Jonathan slowly pushed open the heavy, weathered door to the crypt, Faith tried to force her pulse steady. It was getting more and more difficult to dismiss Jonathan’s world as non-existent. If only she knew what she was getting herself into…

“Reconnaissance” – Excerpt from SOMEONE TO DIE FOR (Project Prometheus)

Project Prometheus BadgeThis couple continues to surprise me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where this one was going to go when I started drafting (other than the obvious kidnapping storyline). I didn’t know if Logan and Billie’s relationship could even be salvaged. It just seemed so pulled apart at the seams. I had a really sad feeling, going into this one, that it wasn’t going to end well (I don’t require all of my characters’ relationships to work out. I don’t write Romance in the strictest sense… It’s more Suspense with Romantic Elements). But I have to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, since I started. Haven’t got to the Black Moments for either character, yet, but I’m starting to see a relationship that’s a lot stronger than I initially thought – one that’s survived six years of separation and secrets.

I’m starting to really have hope for these two. I hope you find them as easy to root for as I do. 🙂

 

“Reconnaissance” – Excerpt from SOMEONE TO DIE FOR (Project Prometheus)

She lay in the high brush beside Logan, scope to her eye as she tried to ignore the warmth of him, and her awareness this was the closest they’d been, physically, in a very long time.

“Target is thirty meters out and stationary, but definitely hot. Wind velocity is,” she tagged a birch tree to the immediate right of the idling SUV, “five knots, south-southeast. Angle of adjust is—“

“Billie,” he broke in, his voice warmly amused. “We’re on recon, not live fire.”

She blinked, and gave her head a quick shake before she glanced his way. She couldn’t tell him she was reacting out of trained instinct because if she let herself think about the situation, she might break. Melanie was counting on her. She had to keep it together.

“Right.” She flashed him a tight smile. “Old habit.”

She turned her attention back to the scope. “What do you think they’re waiting for?”

The stretch of silence flipped her heart over in her chest. His grim expression, when she glanced his way, seized the breath in her lungs, even before he muttered, “You don’t want to know.”