“Christmas Shadows”: Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

ShadowWalkerCoverArtWhen I first realized Trevor and Jaye’s story was going to play out over the holiday season, I was leery of what I call “the Rockwell Effect.” That is, I was very much afraid I’d end up with some postcard-perfect family scene that was a total contradiction to the emotionally volatile situation these two characters were in.

But, as usual with my characters, Trevor and Jaye came through for me.  Even little Jordan added that special, bittersweet moment of the hope of Christmas magic and the uncertainty of a child whose world is far from decided. And the scene that followed left me holding my breath in awe of this character (Trevor) I watched come to life from the first time he appeared on the page, in IN HER NAME.

“Christmas Shadows”: Excerpted from Project Prometheus: SHADOW WALKER —

Left alone in the empty family room, still surrounded by the scents and sights of the home he should have had all along, Trevor stared sightlessly at the dancing lights of Jaye’s Christmas tree until the image blurred before his eyes.  He’d thought he could put things right, that if he cared enough, and paid enough, he could wipe out the debt he had, and start over.  Have a real chance.

But the frightened little voice now echoing in his ears, and the worried frown that didn’t belong on a nine-year-old’s face, haunted him.  Jordan’s love was immediate and unconditional.  But the boy’s trust was another matter, and in that Trevor saw himself again, a twelve-year-old boy faced with his father’s absence, and his mother’s distance as she lost herself in a bottle.  Had he ever really forgiven either of them?

The answer was a resounding No.  He’d pitied his mother, but he still couldn’t forgive her for choosing alcohol over her children.  Even after his own bout with that demon, he couldn’t let go of the pain.  And Jerome’s chronic selfishness – bitterness and rage stirred in Trevor’s chest.  The man abandoned them.  Disappeared.  And now Trevor managed to prove himself as unreliable as either parent.

The disgust he felt for himself shook Trevor to the core.  He’d hurt Jaye and Jordan in ways he couldn’t erase.  There was no clean slate, and he was a fool to think there could ever be one.  He would spend the rest of his life earning Jordan’s trust, and probably still fail in the end.  But Jaye – Jaye’s fears, he could set right.  She was afraid he blamed her for Somalia.  She thought she wasn’t worthy of him.  The mere thought caught in his throat.  As if he was such a great catch.

With a resigned sigh, Trevor levered himself up from the sofa and turned off the Christmas lights, plunging the room into near-darkness.  How appropriate.  He lived in shadow, chained far away from the light.  But if he was very lucky, tonight he might just win a reprieve.

Get ready for the next Chapter of Project Prometheus

Shadow Walker

Available 12/21/2015

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“Dreams In Danger” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

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Their mission is to search out and bring down those who trade in terrorism, fear, and human suffering by whatever means necessary. To do this, they must be willing to give up their freedom, and even their lives. They are a mercenary unit with a mission, and a motivation that has nothing to do with what they get paid, and everything to do with the innocent lives they save. Meet the men and women of…

 Project Prometheus

Trevor Watkins is the miracle of the hour — the survivor of an unassisted coma. But he awakes in a strange place, with no memory but one — 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’s willing to let her step into a world that could take her away from him forever.

“Dreams in Danger” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Book #3)

Jaye stopped in the middle of her great-grandmother’s sitting room, her eyes closed, and drew in deep, cleansing breaths. The air here was old, yet sweet with the remnants of the last time Gran was here to clean during the summer. She let it fill her, take her away from the dark, terrible reason for her return. She nearly jumped as Trevor’s voice spoke from behind her.

“Where did you get this place, again?”

He loosed a quiet whistle of appreciation. The awe on his face as he turned in a wide circle in the middle of the spacious sitting room stirred a pang of combined nostalgia and regret in Jaye. The sturdy old house never failed to awe her either, no matter that she’d owned it for nearly fifteen years. Once, she dreamed of making a home here, but those dreams died in a single night in Hell. They were never coming back.

Dumping her purse and coat on the rocking chair her great-grandfather made with his own hands, she drew another deep breath of chilly, slightly-stale air and sighed. Even unused for years, this place made her feel like she’d come home.

“It was given to me,” she answered Trevor with a bittersweet smile. “My great-grandmother had it built here on Boone Mountain in 1907, because she believed she belonged here, rather than locked away on a Reservation. When she died, the house passed to Gran, who stubbornly refuses to live anywhere but on the Reservation. When I turned eighteen, she gave me the house. She said it was where I, not she, belonged.” Jaye traced loving fingers along the sturdy oak dining table as she made her way through the dining room. “She was right, too. I couldn’t bear to part with this place, even when I knew I wouldn’t be able to live here. It’s been too much a part of my dreams for too long to give up.”

“Dreams?” Trevor’s voice sounded suspiciously husky, and, when she turned to meet his gaze, the naked hunger there twisted her heart. Why couldn’t he just trust her?

Of course, she already knew the answer to that. With a wince, she admitted, “I always dreamed of living here. I decided that when I retired from active duty, I’d come here to live. I dreamed of coming home. I wanted to fill this place with the laughter and love it was built to hold.”

He slanted her a curious look. “So why didn’t you, after Jordan was born? You were never very concerned with more than your required four years of service before.”

She turned away from him to hide the pain she knew was visible in her eyes. Didn’t he remember? Didn’t he realize what it meant to her to have him a part of those dreams?

“I couldn’t bear it,” she admitted in a raw whisper. “My career was the only place I could hide from my dreams. Somewhere along the way, the dream changed. And then I killed it completely.”

He was silent for so long she feared he left. She was just about to turn and look, when she heard a shuddering sigh leave him.

“I remember.” His booted footsteps creaked on the old wood floor. “You used to talk about this place a lot.”

She nodded, and swallowed back tears. Used to. “You remember our day together, in Muqdisho? We talked about coming here, once we both got back stateside. We were going to…” Pain fisted around her throat, and a sudden chill enveloped her. Rubbing both arms with her hands, she hugged warmth to herself to ward off the pain as she forced the whispered words past her throat. “We were going to get married here, before…”

“Yeah.” After a long moment of silence, she felt as much as heard his retreat. His voice, when he spoke again, was full of pain and longing. “Before.”

Get ready for the next chapter of Project Prometheus!

Shadow Walker

Available 12/21/2015

“Wuttin” – Excerpt from SKALDED (High Stakes)

Legend says that to look into the eyes of a Thorolfkind is to give him a piece of your soul.

Legend says that to look into the eyes of a Thorolfkind is to give him a piece of your soul.

While I’ve often played with the paranormal in my fiction, and I’ve taken many a stroll through the realm of Fantasy, it’s rare when I take the step of overlapping the world of myth, legend, and magic with our scientific and technological world. In the case of my High Stakes series, I’m doing just that – blending a world most people consider little more than myth into our world in a way meant to make you believe in the possibilities of magic, and love, all over again.

This excerpt is taken from the second book in that series. Hope you enjoy reading as much as I’ve been enjoying the writing process!

Bound in Blood…

Ten years ago, Geoff Grayson made a blood pact with the woman he loved, and wronged. He swore on the honor of his clan and the wrath of the All Father he’d stay away from her, and never hurt her again. Now, an impulsive bet with his best friend has brought Geoff up against his pact, and everything he’s always felt for Kyna Ravensfall. But the woman who’s now Headmistress of the prestigious Dalamor Bardic Academy isn’t the girl he remembers. That innocent, sweet girl has becomes a cold, haunted woman with a proposition of her own. If Geoff wants her to schedule an admittance sitting for young Ysabet MacCorran, he’ll have to agree to craft a tale unlike any he’s ever made  – and somehow remember his vow. Only, Geoff’s already decided it’s all or nothing, and the prize he’s after is Kyna’s heart.

Wuttin” —  Excerpt from SKALDED (High Stakes, Book 2) —

He was weak. He knew it — which didn’t mean he had to acknowledge it. Geoffrey Grayson, Master Skald of the Thorolfkin, pushed back the strands of straight, moon-pale hair that escaped the leather thong at his nape. His azure, lupine eyes moved slowly over the collection of gargoyle-encrusted buildings looming at the end of the road, and the swift, bittersweet tug of memory assaulted him. That place housed his fondest memories, and his worst nightmare. The ache of nostalgia was nearly overwhelming.

Dalamor Bardic Academy didn’t change, though everyone who set foot through its gates did. Him included. He came here a cocky youth, fifteen years ago. And, in the dark, rush-lit halls of Dalamor, he was forever changed. He fell in love for the first – and last – time. And he saw his future happiness forever crushed – or so he thought – in those very same halls. When he last left Dalamor, he expected to never see the Gothic structures again. He barely even acknowledged them, in his pain. And when she took a position as one of the Academy’s teachers, he knew he’d never come back. Then, she was promoted to Headmistress, and the banishment became final.

Geoff shifted uneasily on the leather seat of his Harley Davidson as he recalled the last time he saw Kyna Ravensfall. It was during his cousin’s Ektesgatt to one of her sisters. The wedding was held here at Dalamor, and he’d been asked to stand up for Borand. He hadn’t known the bride asked her sister to stand up for her, as well. The ceremony was torture, watching her as those words were spoken, and knowing she would never come to him, never let him near her. She was his wuttin — he’d claimed her. And the idea she might have been with someone else since she sent him away made him want to howl with rage. But he held onto his control, until that night. Then he shifted, went prowling to burn off his rage in the hunt.

He found her, instead. She hadn’t known he was there, watching her from the garden laurels, or she never would have shown her vulnerability. During the Ektesgatt, she refused to even look at him, and she was aloof and shrewish – not at all the girl he remembered.

That night was different. Geoff closed his eyes and recalled the vision burned into his memory. She drifted from the building like a ghost, clad in deep burgundy that enhanced the pale, unfed starkness of her skin, and he rethought his assumption she moved to another’s arms after him. She looked as if she hadn’t fed in years. Her beautiful, long hair was gone, as well, and he mourned the loss as he studied her short, spiky cut.

Given the early hour of morning, and the deep, misery-laden rings beneath her eyes, she’d likely been unable to sleep. She was thinner, too, which concerned him. Her crystal blue eyes were so bleak he felt the urge to whine, even now, with the pain those eyes stirred in him. Though she looked miserable and weakened, at the time, she’d still been beautiful enough to take his breath away, and stir his long-denied body.

Then, she tipped her head back, let the moon bathe her face, and loosed the small cry he would have heard anywhere in the Strata. It was their distress call, the howl he taught her to use whenever she was in danger or distress. In the end, that cry prompted his desperate bet with his best friend, Alasdair MacCorran. He needed an excuse to come back to Dalamor, to speak with Kyna face-to-face. It was probably foolish, considering how she responded to him at Borand and Deirdre’s Ektesgatt. But Geoff trusted his gut, and it said Kyna needed him. Even if it was only to feed, he didn’t care. He wasn’t about to abandon her. She was his wuttin — his soul mate. How could he ever abandon his soul?

Unexpected Life: Behind the Scenes for the Writing of SHADOW WALKER

A lot of what I write touches my heart in some way, but there’s not a lot that actually shocks me. This book managed to do the latter, in spades.

SHADOW WALKER is the book that never should have been, but wouldn’t let me not write it. I figured, at the end of IN HER NAME, Trevor Watkins was pretty much done for. By HOPE OF HEAVEN, I figured it was just a matter of time, and if I wrote any further books, I’d be featuring his funeral in one of them. So, imagine my surprise when not only did he wake up from his coma, but he woke up with a story to tell — a story of betrayal, misunderstanding, guilt, and, above all, a love that refused to be extinguished by any of those.

When I started writing SHADOW WALKER, even with a firm outline in mind that clearly told me how it would end, I didn’t expect it to work. The odds seemed insurmountable, and the characters kept running away from each other, either physically or emotionally, just like they’d done for a decade. I was utterly convinced I would get to the end, hate the story, and consign it forever to my shredded idea pile.

That never happened. Instead, I watched two people with a world of pain and tragedy between them take the ultimate leap of faith, I watched a man firmly entrenched in the physical world, who learned to never forgive a betrayal as a child, open himself to a world of mystery that would require the ultimate forgiveness, to be realized. And I watched a woman battered and bleeding on the inside for a crime she didn’t commit, a woman of sound, practical logic who has denied her heritage and all that comes with it, become a truly powerful woman, spiritually, and take the biggest risk anyone is ever asked to take.

Add into all of that a boy whose one wish has always been to know his father, a dangerous psychopath with an agenda that could mean one or all of their deaths, and a bitter, angry sibling intent on causing pain, and SHADOW WALKER came to vibrant, amazing life… And became one of my favorite stories to tell.

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