“Dangerous Request” – Excerpt from BLOOD DEBT (Project Prometheus)

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When Doctor Michael Banks asked his brother to find him a specialist to help combat the biological weapon wiping out entire villages in the Amazon jungles, he expected a dedicated, licensed doctor with enough lab time to make Albert Schweitzer green with envy, and warrior enough to handle himself in the Amazon.  So he was stunned and disappointed to find himself face-to-face with a petite spitfire of a woman with no degree, desert features, and china blue eyes.  To beat the poison, Michael will need everything at his disposal, and the Persian spitfire at his side has the key to his most valuable weapon — if he can keep her far away from his darkest secret.

 

“Dangerous Request” –Excerpt from Blood Debt (Project Prometheus, Book 4) :

Michael, his head bent in concentration over the most recent batch of blood tests, jerked upright as a scream tore through the camp. As his brain registered the sound came from the nearby blood-supply tent, where Shahdi was working, icy panic lanced through him.

He lunged for the lab’s entrance, and dashed out into the bright light of day, with barely an acknowledgement of moving as he tore into the canvas of the collapsed tent next door.

“Shahdi!”

“Michael,” her faint voice, even muffled by the heavy canvas, sent an electric charge of relief through his veins. Shoving aside canvas as he went, Michael waded through the collapsed tent, until he uncovered a sight that made his blood run cold.

Shahdi lay pinned beneath a large chunk of the main support pole, with the heavy beam wedged sideways across her body from left shoulder to right hip. That thing had to be crushing her!

Scrambling to her side, Michael grasped the pole, muscles straining as he lifted the beam away. It wasn’t as heavy as it was awkward to lift, but it was still heavy enough to do damage when dropped from nearly fifteen feet above. Discarding the pole, he dropped to the ground at Shahdi’s side even as she tried to sit up.

“Don’t move!”

She gave him an odd look — probably questioning the sharp fear in his voice — but subsided with nothing more than a sigh and a wince. Michael ran his hands quickly over her body, checking for cracked or broken bones and warmer than normal spots that would indicate internal bleeding. Relief poured through him when he found nothing.

“This is not how I planned to have your hands on me.” The humorous lilt of Shahdi’s voice snapped his gaze to her face, and he scowled as his fear boiled over into anger.

“You could have been killed, and you’re cracking jokes?”

She rolled her eyes as she slowly sat up, his hands steadying her in spite of her apparent strength.

“You must learn to not fret so, Michael,” she murmured. “The point is that I was not harmed. Therefore, a little humor puts the situation into its proper place.”

“You’re going to have nasty bruises by tomorrow–”

“But they will heal with time.”

“You’ll be stiff and hurting–”

“But I am alive.”

He eyed her testily, his nerves drawn to breaking point. Damn it, she was hurt; couldn’t she see how much the idea scared him? “You have an answer for everything, don’t you?”

“No.” Her good humor fled, and her somber blue gaze met his. “I do not know how to make you love me.”

Blood Debt – Available from Desert Breeze Publishing on May 11,2016

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“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

“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

“Magic Mirror” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

 

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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.

“Magic Mirror” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Book #3)–

Red Widow’s fists clenched, driving her French manicure into her palms, as she glared out at the neon-lit night.  She wanted that mirror.  She was prepared to do whatever it took to make sure the Musir didn’t win, again.  Daniel was one of the newer generation of Arachaena.  She had to educate him.

“Do you have any idea how important that mirror is?”

His sigh sounded exasperated.  “Yeah, I know.  It was the inspiration for the tales of magic mirrors throughout European history; even believed to be the legendary mirror through which the Lady of Astolat watched Lancelot.  And it unlocks the Portal of Kronos.”  When she turned toward him, she saw his grimace.  “Aren’t we both a little old for fairytales?”

His sarcasm annoyed her.  That was part of what was wrong with this new generation of Arachaena.  They were decadent, self-indulgent, and jaded.  They didn’t understand the powers of the world, or why they were important.

“It’s no fairytale, Danny boy.  And the mirror is more than a mere key.”

He lifted one brow in skeptical attention.  “Convince me.”

“Cover that mirror in the blood of a Musir, and it acts as a beacon through the oblivion beyond the Portal.  We need it to guide the Great Lord back.”

She turned just in time to see him sit forward, his interest suddenly intent.  “How much blood?”

A slow, deadly smile curved up her lips as she moved to the bedside table, and extracted a silver kris knife that glowed with a dim blue-white light.  “One of our archeological crews uncovered this on a dig in Greece.  It took some work, but we figured out what it’s for.”

“And that is?”

“You shed the Shadow Walker’s life blood onto the mirror’s surface with this knife, and it begins a chain that no power on Earth can halt.”

She stabbed the knife’s point into the table between them, and met his gaze with narrowed eyes.  He would do what she wanted.  She wouldn’t tell him about the magical lettering said to reside within the mirror’s surface.  Or that those letters would become clear in the presence of Ausar’s vessel.  That was a secret she planned to keep to herself.  Those letters were one part of the key to the Philosopher’s Stone, and the source of everlasting life.  The Musir were reincarnates; they hadn’t yet figured out their own history.  Aside from that threat, only the Widows and Dimitri Lapinov knew about the truth of the Philosopher’s Stone.  And she intended to keep it that way.

 

Read the book that started it all! IN HER NAME is available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!

“Fatal Conspiracy” – Excerpt from BLOOD DEBT (Project Prometheus)

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As the danger mounts, can the Prometheans hope to stop the tide of destruction the Brotherhood of Spiders leave in their wake… Or even hope to save the life of one of their own?

When Dr. Michael Banks called on his brother, Jeremy, to find him a specialist to help combat the biological weapon wiping out entire villages in the Amazon jungles, he expected a dedicated, licensed doctor with enough lab time to make Albert Schweitzer green with envy, and warrior enough to handle himself without assistance in the deep Amazon.  So he was both stunned and disappointed to find himself face-to-face with a petite spitfire of a woman with no degree, desert features, and china blue eyes full of humour.  To beat the poison, Michael will need everything at his disposal, and the Persian spitfire at his side has the key to his most valuable weapon.  If only he can keep her safe, and far away from his darkest secret.

“Fatal Conspiracy” – Excerpt from BLOOD DEBT (Project Prometheus, Book 4) –

“Your man in the camp is fucking up all our plans!”  The scientist shook an accusing finger in the stone-cold face of Dimitri Lapinov.  Would it really kill the younger man to display a human emotion, occasionally?

Younger man.  Hah!  He snorted as he glared at the tall Russian.  If the rumors he heard were true, Lapinov was old enough to be his grandfather.  Which made it even more disgusting that the man didn’t look a day over forty.

“Calm yourself, amigo.”  The soft voice soothed him against his will, even as a gentle, unlined hand rested on his forearm, lowering it and his shaking digit.

He turned his gaze to the source of that hypnotising calm.  She wasn’t anything much to look at, on the surface.  A soft face – she might actually be pretty if she did something with that stringy, unkempt hair and used a few cosmetics to take care of the dark circles under her eyes.  Surprisingly delicate hands and wrists that hinted she was more slender and attractive than those frumpy, wrinkled clothes and the stained lab coat indicated.  He couldn’t help the stir of interest.  Never mind that she was so far out of his league they weren’t even in the same division.  If Lapinov was old enough to be his grandfather, this pale-faced woman who looked like a lost child playing dress-up was old enough to be great-grandmother to every living human being on the planet.  And her status, at least, was no rumor.

Magdalena – God alone knew her real name, anymore – claimed the only direct blood tie to Onuris in all the Brotherhood.  She was his daughter – a child spawned of a magical union, incapable of aging, or dying.  And seemingly entirely content to retreat into her world of plants and potions and let the rest of the world slip by her, until Red Widow traipsed into her territory and started hunting prey.  He smirked.  Nothing like competition to get a Widow all riled up.  Magdalena’s lips flickered in return, a soft smile that said she knew what he was thinking, as she moved a step closer to him.

“Dimitri cannot be blamed for the incompetence of his associate,” she said in that quiet, husky voice of hers.

“Can’t he?”  He wasn’t mollified by her deference to the Tarantula leader.  “Thanks to that bumbling idiot, Babin, our target is suspicious, now.”

“Not of you,” Lapinov interrupted coldly, the first words he’d spoken since arriving an hour ago.

“But that whore Banks has taken up with is.  Or didn’t you listen to the tapes your man brought in?”

Lapinov snorted derisively, as if to say that he had no need of such trivial things as the tapes Babin routinely supplied from the bugs planted all over the Angelis Fund camp.  “The Daughter of the Star of Heaven would be suspicious even had Rurik not erred.  She is a vessel of the Musir, and a catalyst in the Healer’s life.  You failed to cover your own tracks well enough to evade her intuition.”

Rage poured through him, and he fought to keep his expression neutral in the face of this bald-faced attack.  There was no way he’d rise to this bastard’s challenge.  But, as he opened his mouth to toss a retort back in Lapinov’s face, he was cut off by another voice.

“Enough!  Both of you.”  The room’s only other occupant, who’d been strangely silent until now, spoke up sharply, reminding them all of her presence.  Red Widow turned from the office window to pin each of them in turn with her icy glare.  “I refuse to lose this artefact because you two want to have a pissing match.  We need a plan.  Though,”  she favored Lapinov with a censuring look, “he does raise a valid point, Dimitri.”

Smug humor burst in his as he watched Lapinov bristle with indignation.  So the pet wasn’t above censure, after all.  Interesting.

“Okay.  So, what’s the plan, then?”

Red Widow’s scarlet-tinted lips twitched, but he couldn’t tell if it was a smile or a frown that marred her cosmetically-altered face.

“The plan hasn’t changed.  The Daughter of Heaven must die, if we are to succeed.”

 Find out how this came to be. Pick up your copy of IN HER NAME today!

“Immortality” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus)

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Matthew Raleigh knows Hell intimately. He’s been there too many times in the past, and he’ll do anything to avoid going back again. A former SEAL determined to bring hope to the hopeless, Matt formed Project Prometheus, a mercenary organization dedicated to eradicating terror. But his own prejudice against the supernatural could cost Matt the only thing he’s ever wanted — love.

“Immortality” – Excerpt from IN HER NAME (Project Prometheus, Book 1) –

 Matt found himself staring at a vision made to stop a man’s heart.

Manara sat beside a small pool of water, looking like an otherworldly vision of wistful sadness, bathed in desert moonlight as she stared into the water’s mirrored surface.  Gone were the fatigues he hadn’t realized he hated until this moment, replaced by something dark and filmy that flowed around her like wisps of smoke on the slight breeze, to catch the light in a fall of stars.

Matt’s breath caught, and his chest squeezed with a primal lust that drove away all memory of death and battle.  How could any man remain morbid in this presence of this beauty?

Reality slammed home with the force of a speeding train.  He was lusting after a woman forbidden to him – a virgin who wanted nothing to do with him.  A woman whose trust he so blatantly misused.

He froze as his courage fled completely under the weight of regret and shame, and he knew he had no right to approach her, or to beg her forgiveness.  Especially when he couldn’t yet reconcile who she was with how he felt about her.  Instead, he watched her silently, absorbing her beauty, as regret for all he let slip away from him welled up, followed by one violent thought.  Damn you, Rachel.

“She is a beautiful woman.  The kind men spend lifetimes composing poetry about.”

Matt started, his attention jerked sideways by the sound of a new voice, speaking in Arabic.  Mustafa stood beside him, a knowing smile curved on her weathered face.  Matt nodded, and swallowed against the regret that stung his throat. “Have you ever made a mistake you knew was wrong?”

Mustafa sighed.  “Once, many years ago.”

“What happened?”

“I tried to own a woman already owned by the world.  She belonged to the wind and, deep inside, I always knew it would carry her away from me.  Still, I did terrible things, threatened terrible consequences, in my attempt to keep her.”

Matt nodded slowly, as the guilt of his actions toward Manara closed around his throat.  He doubted Mustafa had done anything so terrible, but he would not insult the man by belittling his experience.  “What did you do?”

“In the end, you mean?  I let her go.”  Mustafa glanced Matt’s way.  “Celia taught me a valuable lesson about belief, and that my family is not always correct.”  He sighed again, a wistful sound that didn’t escape Matt.  His curiosity was piqued.  What did Mustafa find so alluring about this Celia he mentioned?

“Why wouldn’t she stay?”

Mustafa chuckled.  “There are powers at work in this world far greater than any mortal man can control.  Celia taught me that my family’s narrow views of the world merely masked their lack of concern for the fate of others.  With my eyes open, I could not stay, so I left in search of the truth, and here is where I found my destiny.  I have Celia to thank for that.  My only regret is that I could not save her from hers.”

Matt’s brow furrowed.  He didn’t like where this was headed.  “What power?”

“Come,” Mustafa laid a friendly hand on his shoulder.  “Let us walk as we talk.  The exercise does my old bones well.”

Matt kept easy pace with the older man’s stroll through the camp.  They walked in silence for a time, before Mustafa drew a deep breath, and sighed again.

“The desert air holds many secrets, but the earth holds the greatest secrets of all.  Treasures that are both amazing and dangerous, in the wrong hands.”

Those words roused disturbing images in Matt’s head, of a blue-white sword, and tablets marked with strange characters unlike any he’d ever seen.  He had to clear his throat twice, to ask, “Like what?”

“There are many tales.  Tales of Djinn trapped in magical lamps, and mystical races with horses that run like the wind.  But the most powerful tale is terrifyingly true, of a secret entrusted to the temple of a dying religion.  It is a secret many have coveted, and men have wasted a lifetime in search of, yet have rarely unlocked even a fragment of.  It is a dangerous secret to guard.  One of my ancestors, according to family legend, stumbled across the secret quite by accident, in a tablet crafted in ancient Babylon.”

“Cuneiform?”

Mustafa nodded.  “He paid dearly for his knowledge, even after he passed it back to its guardian.  Men of Rome came, and killed him for his secret.”

“What was it?”

“A recipe.”  Mustafa stopped as he reached the edge of the camp.  “A recipe to give immortal life.”

Want to read more?  IN HER NAME is available for sale at Desert Breeze Publishing

“Memories” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

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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.

“Memories” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Book #3) —

Senses he didn’t understand told Trevor Watkins that there was someone outside the door, even before it opened.  He had no idea where the heightened sensations came from, but sight, sound, and smell were intensified to the point of overload.  He smelled fear, deep and earthy, and the salty scent of grief.  He could hear a heartbeat, loud and fast, and female.  Whoever she was, the woman on the other side of that door had something to hide.

The door opened, the motion a badly needed distraction for his growing disquiet.  He didn’t like the emotions and sensations whirling in his mind.  He was edgy and out of place, unable to remember how he came to this place, or why he had these strange senses.  He felt… well, hollow.  That hollowness terrified him and comforted him at the same time.  It told him he once had a life, full of friends and family.  What scared him most was that all the people he should know were strangers to him.  He agreed to see the psychiatrist only because he wanted – no, he needed – his past.  He was lost without it.

One glimpse of the woman in the doorway, however, convinced him that desire, at least, was not confined to his past.  Her warm, cinnamon scent filled his lungs, and his body responded with a primal force that nearly flattened him.  His eyes roved over her and he decided this was the closest he’d ever been to perfection.  She was tall – probably only an inch or so shorter than his own six-foot stature – with shapely legs that, beneath the starched hem of her uniform skirt, seemed to go on forever.  Her skin was the flawless, lightly burnished tone of a deep tan; but why did he think she was that same shade all over?

As he studied her, his eyes narrowed.  He picked up the scent of fear and guilt again, and heard the subtle alteration of her breathing.  Then she shifted, and he became aware of her body, beneath that regulation uniform, all toned curves and supple lines.  No woman he saw in the past year could carry off the pure white of a Naval uniform like this woman could.  She had smooth, high-boned features, and full, lush lips that made him think of sultry whispers and sinful kisses.  Her head was held proudly erect, the raven-wing hair coiled into a tight braid around her head.  The image of his hands, tangled in dark, waist-length hair, assaulted Trevor and cranked his already-elevated temperature up another degree.  Who was she?  The flash of vulnerability, and confirmation of guilt, in her amazing jade-green eyes sent a chill of fear through Trevor.  They obviously had a past, but for the life of him, he couldn’t recall what it was.

“Hello, Trevor,” she greeted him familiarly, confirming his fear.  Her voice, even softened by pain and uncertainty, lanced through him in a way nothing since he awakened had.

He blinked at her, suddenly afraid to know who she was, or how they hurt each other.  Maybe, he realized with a shiver of apprehension, not remembering the past was a good thing.

Read the story that started it all in IN HER NAME, available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!