Friday, September 30, 2016
What's a Halloween Spooktacular without vampires? Today's author guest writes an urban fantasy series about the fanged folks. Welcome Catherine Winters! The book featured today is a stand alone book which fits with her vampire series. I have to say I'm impressed with an author who knows how to spell bogeyman. It's a small thing but a peeve of mine. Grin. Here's the book information and a quick guest blog post by Catherine:
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The Imperial Vampires Series
By Catherine Winters
Even vampires have bogeymen.
Geneviève Lacroix wasn't really made to be a leader. Perhaps that's why she chose to form a council instead of an empire; she wouldn't have to bear the burden of responsibility alone. While the Council of the Undead was a success, her inability to face challenges head-on would affect vampires all over the world.
When Coventry Payne informed Geneviève of her intent to betray her sire, Grant Black, Gené did nothing. When Coventry succeeded, Gené ignored her own laws and Coventry went unpunished. When Coventry showed up asking for her own House, Gené gave her New York. When Coventry began weaving myths of Grant's excessive violence and ruthlessness to keep fledglings in line, Gené remained silent. When Geneviève feared Coventry would make a play for the Paris Council House, she gutted it instead of fortifying it.
As Coventry continued to grow her power and influence, Grant lay bound in a box, alone in the dark, starved of blood, slowly going mad. Only Coventry hadn't counted on the ever-increasing population of humans, the "shrinking" of the world, the eventuality that someone would stumble upon his prison and release him.
One hundred and fifty years has seen that eventuality come to pass, and now he will have his revenge. Coventry will get the bogeyman she created — although the monster she claimed he was is nothing compared to the monster he's become.
This book is a standalone within the universe of The Imperial Vampires Series
The couple at table twenty-seven were not unusual for a Thursday dinner service. He was more handsome than most, and she more annoyed, but their clothes were expensively made and perfectly tailored, their shoes shiny and fashionable. She was perhaps too short for him; they looked a bit mismatched, but then, the gentleman was so tall that it was probably unavoidable. She was beautiful, though cold, refusing to smile even as her companion tried to charm everyone in reach. If they noticed the shaky hands and determined lack of eye contact from their waitress, they hadn't mentioned it; if they'd noticed the series of wait staff who had subsequently tended to them, they likewise had refrained from commenting. They were, in truth, the perfect table: neither of them ate, but both drank, and were pleasant and uncomplaining. The gentleman paid the tab, and tipped extravagantly – enough so that the shaky waitress didn't mind sharing, and even grudgingly admitted that perhaps she'd been wrong in her original estimation of his character ("Creepy.").
The couple left the restaurant, not touching each other, not even looking at each other. They were a mismatched set indeed: he was more than a foot taller than she. He towered over her, loomed, used all his great bulk to intimidate, but she would have none of that. She opened her own doors, assuming he was following, got behind the wheel of an obscenely expensive sedan, and pulled into traffic without looking.
"Is the car bugged?" He wished not to be overheard. As did she, when it came to that – the restaurant had been merely a convenient rendezvous, not a place for conversation.
"Of course not, it's mine."
"You'll forgive me if I don't have the greatest confidence in your – What is he, anyway? Is he even there anymore?"
"Not so often as to care what I do with my personal time." They spoke English with similar accents: softened consonants, narrow vowels, a superficially British sound with something more exotic underneath. It was the language they had in common, and the one in which they did the most business. "You didn't drag me to Budapest to discuss Vlad."
"True enough. I need your help."
She laughed. "It wasn't enough that I rolled back the stone from your tomb?"
"You did that for yourself."
"Did I? I can't remember what you've done for me since."
"I've been a convenient villain, haven't I? A tale told to fledglings so they fall in line."
"You could have been that lying in the sarcophagus."
"Yes, yes. I'm a terrible burden on your conscience. One has to wonder why you bothered to free me if it was going to plunge you into this ridiculous guilt."
"One does. I do. Daily."
"But I've stayed out of your way, out of Europe, like I promised, haven't I?"
"I fear that's going to come to an end."
"I deserve vengeance."
She bit her lower lip, worrying it with her teeth, drawing a tiny bead of blood that filled the car with a sweet-rotten scent, like berries gone slightly bad. A human wouldn't have noticed, but his nostrils flared and he turned to stare at her.
"I don't know those laws," she said, and he could hear every ounce of relief.
"It's not the law that gives me the right to kill them."
"Then you don't have that right."
"They locked me in a box for a century and a half."
"Didn't you deserve it?"
"You thought I didn't."
She shook her head, taking a sharp right turn off the main road. They'd left the city completely behind, and he thought he knew where they might end up, but allowed her to determine their course. "I…don't know if that's true."
"Then I am the villain to all of us, is that it? I'm the bogeyman, the big bad vampire?"
"We all have our roles to play," she whispered, without looking at him.
Hey, all! *waves* I'm Catherine Winters, here to promote my newest novel, A Murder Of Vampires. It's part of my Imperial Vampires universe, and a prequel to the Josephine Trilogy. I hope you'll give it a try – it's a great place to step into the series!
I'll be honest, I struggled with this guest post for a while. I just couldn't decide what y'all might want to read about. Writing? Reading? My characters? Why I love Star Trek so fucking much? (Probably not that last one. But feel free to message me if you're interested. I could talk about Star Trek for days.)
Finally, someone suggested that I should just let you all get to know me. And I figure there's no better way to do that than to see my Buzzfeed quiz results. I mean, they're clearly the most accurate personality assessments on the interwebs, right? Right. So let's get started!
I'm 40, based on my McDonald's order. But also 21, based on my shoe preferences. I'll let you guys sort it out.
I'm 100% pug, which I think is pretty damn impressive. I mean, how many pugs do you know who've published five novels? But I'm also somehow 67% cheese, which doesn't seem likely, mathematically. Though I did only get a D on a basic math quiz, so maybe don't take my word for it?
I'm 64% keen, which I think must be a British quiz, because it means, like, smart? And since I got 8/10 on the "Can you guess the animal from its French name" quiz, I'm going with smart. At least with words.
According to a visual test, I think I should live in London, but should actually live in Sydney. Denver, where I actually do live, was not an option, which is straight-up bullshit, yo. Denver is the place to be, as so clearly evidenced by all the out-of-state license plates I've been seeing lately. I'm also never going to get married, which will be news to Mr. Winters, who thinks we walked the aisle at least a decade ago. (Fun trick if I'm 21, eh?) And our fat, grumpy, orange tabby is apparently most like a black panther. I'll believe it when I see it.
I am not a die-hard Disney fan, though to be fair, the quiz was about the parks, mostly, and not the actual stories. I know a lot of useless facts, but not a lot of them are about theme parks. Sorry, Charlie. As for which famous redhead will play me in the movie of my life? Julianne Moore. I was hoping for Tess Holliday – she's much more my style – but who am I to argue with the Buzzfeed gods?
So. There you go. I hope you've got a pretty good idea of who I am, now, based on the world's most accurate metric: A 21-40-year-old unmarried married pug, who is kind of smart, doesn't know jack about Disney, looks like Julianne Moore, is more than half cheese, and should live with her black panther in London or perhaps Sydney.
Sounds about right. ;)
About the Author:
Catherine Winters writes urban fantasy, women's fiction, and literary fiction. She is an undefeated four-time Chopped champion and the principal mezzo-soprano for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver. When she's not writing or singing, she enjoys teaching French to cats. At least one of these things is actually true.
5 copies of A Murder of Vampires, print or ebook (to be decided by the winners). Open internationally.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Constance Burris' latest book is titled Black Beauty. Inside we find out the bad consequences for a young girl who goes to a Voodoo priestess for help with bullying. I can definitely see this one as a movie! Check out the trailer:
School Go Ziplining in
Costa Rica Go To College Get a passport Make love under
the night sky Visit Canada Write a book Fall in love Get married Have a baby Travel to
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By Constance Burris
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror
Publisher: BE Publications
Date of Publication: September 2015
At Vista Apartment Complex, life drastically changes for four of its residents when they decide to do business with Crazy Jade—the supposed voodoo witch that can grant your wish for a price.
Shemeya wants the confidence to stand up against the girls bullying her at school, but she soon has to choose between keeping her dreadlocs or living a normal life. After catching her boyfriend cheating, Latreece just wants to have the same curves as all the other girls. Ashley will do whatever she can to have “White Girl Flow”, but takes her pursuit too far when she steals from Crazy Jade.
Everyone who comes into contact with Crazy Jade soon learns the true price of her magic—and how horribly wrong it can go.
Shemeya knocked on Jason’s door. For the past two years, they’d ended up in the same chemistry course as lab partners. He’d asked her out a few times, but she’d politely said no. He bored her. Turning him down made her feel like an idiot who only went out with thugs, but she wasn’t stupid. She only wanted a little thug, not a full serving.
When Jason opened the door, she pulled off her backpack and stepped into his house. “Is your mom home?”
“No, she’s with her new guy.” He led her into his kitchen. “Want something to drink?”
“You got some juice?” She desperately wanted to get rid of the dry, earthy taste that the herbs had left in her mouth. Water hadn’t worked.
“I got something better.” He reached under one of the kitchen cabinets and pulled out a bottle of Hennessy.
He smiled innocently.
She rolled her eyes. “Sure. I need a drink after the day I’ve had.” And liquor should kill the taste in my mouth.
He poured the cognac into two yellow plastic cups before they walked into the living room and sat on his couch. The alcohol warmed her insides and seared away the taste of the herbs.
“We should be talking about absorption, not sitting here getting drunk,” Shemeya pointed out.
“We always finish our projects tipsy. Why should this time be any different?”
Shemeya laughed. “Anyways, let’s get started: absorption vs. adsorption.” She pulled her chemistry book from her backpack.
“Stupid names. Why do they have to be so similar?” He sat back on the couch with a glazed look in his eyes.
“Are you going to get your books?”
He licked his lips and leaned forward. “I’ve heard stories about you and Latreece’s boyfriend.”
“So?” The buzz she had from the liquor quickly dissipated while her heart rate increased. She dreaded where the conversation was headed.
“I don’t understand. I’ve been asking you out for months, but you go out with him instead. He has a girlfriend.”
“I didn’t go out with him,” she said through clenched teeth. She’d expected to be harassed at school; she hadn’t expected it here. She had hoped her anger would shut him up, but no such luck.
“I saw you go in the room with Corey last weekend at Serena’s party.”
She threw her books on the table and stood. “Oh damn, Jason. Really?”
“I’ve treated you with nothing but respect since I’ve known you.”
“I’ve had a horrible day with everyone teasing me at school. Now I get here and have to deal with it from you, too. I’m leaving.” She turned from him and bent over to pick up her books.
“Are you crying?”
She brought her hand up to her face, and it came back wet. Why was she crying in front of him? Wasn’t the fake weed supposed to give her courage?
“Don’t go. I’m sorry.”
She was so busy wiping away her tears that she didn’t fight it when he grabbed her hand and pulled her back onto the couch. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
She let him hold her as she cried. Maybe it was the liquor, maybe it was the fake weed, or maybe it was her loneliness, but whatever the reason, she didn’t stop him when he brought his lips down onto hers.
His sweaty hands on her breast brought her back to reality. He wasn’t who she wanted. “No, Jason.” She pulled back. “I have to go.”
“Don’t go,” he pleaded, with his hand still under her shirt. Somehow they’d ended up on the couch with him on top cradled between her legs.
“No.” She tried to move from under him.
He loomed above her, flushed despite his dark skin. “Do you like it rough? Is that what it is?”
“No. This isn’t what I came here for.” Shemeya tore at his chest, but Jason refused to budge.
He kissed her neck. “I’m tired of being the nice guy,” he murmured, pinning her further beneath his body.
“Get off me!” she screamed. His erection rubbed against the crotch of her jeans. She punched and kicked, but it made him more excited. Her scalp itched as she fought. She wanted to scratch, but she needed both hands to fight Jason off. I’m getting raped, but I can’t fight the urge to scratch. The inconvenience of it almost made her laugh.
Something above moved. She looked past Jason. Five snakes were hovering above his head.
“I’m going crazy.” This time she did laugh, and the snakes, which were the same rusty brown color as her dreads, smiled.
Jason looked towards her. “Why are you laughing?” His eyes darted above her. The feel of his erection disappeared as he crept away, but she wrapped her legs around his waist.
Her itching scalp had been replaced with pleasurable tingles that ran from her head down to her toes. “Where are you going?” she asked.
“We need to leave,” he said, trembling. “There are snakes in here. There are snakes in your hair.” She pulled him closer while he fought to be released. “Let go. We need to get out of here.”
“No, stay,” she whispered in his ear. “They won’t hurt you.”
Shaking, he looked from Shemeya to the snakes. He tried to force himself from her legs. This time, when she tried to pull him closer, he punched her. Pain exploded in her jaw, but she never let go.
“Jason, that hurt.”
He looked into her eyes. “Please,” he begged. A snake sunk its fangs into his cheek. Another struck his ear. One clung to his nose, and another hung below his left eye. He writhed in pain as he tried to escape the snakes and her thighs. His pleading eyes came back to her before he stopped moving completely. The snakes retracted their fangs. She relaxed her legs. Jason fell onto the carpeted floor.
She stood and nearly fainted before she righted herself by grabbing the side of the couch. She brought her hands up to fix her hair but hesitated a few inches away. She’d never touched snakes before. But the snakes came to her, caressing her open palm. They were cold and smooth and full of life.
The Bucket List
By Constance Burris
Josephine lifts her arthritic knees up the steps of the small Japanese tour bus and stares past the rows of empty seats before she settles her gaze on a middle-aged woman with a curly afro.
When the woman turned and smiles, that is all the invitation Josephine needs. “May I sit,” she asks after she wobbles her wide hips through the tight aisles.
“Of course,” the woman says.
“Thank you. I’m Josephine from Texas.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Keisha from North Carolina.”
“Are you traveling alone?” Josephine asks.
“Yeah, are you?”
“No. My no good husband is at the hotel in bed. He ate some bad sushi or some shit.”
The woman blushes. She must be from the suburbs, Josephine thinks. Suburbanites are always blushing over curse words.
“Are you looking forward to seeing Mt. Fuji?” Josephine asks the girl once the bus starts moving.
“No, I’m getting off at the Aokighara forest.”
“The what?” Josephine asks.
“The suicide forest at the base of Mt. Fuji.”
“I’ve heard about that place. It’s where people go to die.” Josephine shakes her head. “I wonder why so many go there?” Josephine asks. “I suppose they’re all unhappy.”
“They can’t all go there because they’re sad,” Keisha says. “Maybe some are just finished.”
“Finished with what?” Josephine studies the woman. She’s too pretty to be so morbid.
“With life. Maybe they’ve crossed everything off their bucket list.”
“Well, then you create another list. Believe me; I’ve started over more than a few times. You can always reinvent yourself and create a whole ‘nother bucket of lists.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“You’re not thinking about going there to die are you?” Josephine asks suddenly concerned.
Keisha laughs. “Of course not. I’m just curious.
Josephine brings her hand to her chest. “Oh my goodness. You about gave me a heart attack.”
“You don’t have to worry about me. I have a husband and a little girl at home. I would never leave them.”
“Good. Good,” Josephine says as she stares at the woman, looking for any sign of depression.
“I promise. It’s just a weird curiosity of mine. I’m not going to kill myself.
“Well if you’re sure,” Josephine says, finally at ease.
“Ms. Josephine,” the Japanese tour guides says with an almost flawless American accent “We’re here.”
“Oh my. I didn’t even know I was sleep.” Josephine looks over to Keisha, but the woman’s seat is empty except for a folded sheet of paper. Josephine glances around the bus for the woman, but she is nowhere in sight. All of her belongings are gone. Satisfied she has done her due diligence and no one can call her nosy, Josephine unfolds the paper.
Keisha’s Bucket List
Visit the suicide forest
All but the last one is marked out.
Constance Burris is on a journey to take over the world through fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Her mission is to spread the love of speculative fiction to the masses. She is a proud card carrying blerd (black nerd), mother, and wife. When she is not writing and spending time with her family, she is working hard as an environmental engineer in Oklahoma City.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016
What do you think of a biker gang of demons? Sounds pretty cool to me. Those guys are part of Traci Douglass' series Blood Ravagers. Book One is titled Blood Bound. Love, lust, a kick butt half-demon/human, secrets, and a whole lot more make for some interesting reading. Here's the information on the book and an excerpt from another of Traci's books.
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By Book One
Release Date: October 10, 2016
Anna Frost had a bad feeling when her twin sister, Liz, told her she’d run off with a member of the notorious Otherworld biker gang, the Blood Ravagers. And her unease skyrockets when her sister subsequently vanishes. The police have no authority and little interest, so Anna decides to take matters into her own hands by infiltrating the group to discover for herself what happened to Liz, where she meets…
Dante, half demon, half human. A mix of two worlds, accepted by neither, he’s had no choice but to learn the hard way how to play whatever side of the fence kept him alive during his nearly 500 years of existence. Now, as second-in-command of the Blood Ravagers biker gang, his survival depends on keeping his humanity a secret. Dante’s ultimate goal is to fulfill the vows he made over two centuries ago to create a world where half-breeds can live in safety and equality.
But when sheltered schoolteacher Anna finds unexpected, white-hot passion in the arms of Dante, will her quest for the truth cost him more than he ever bargained for? Or will they find a way to save Liz – and their love – together?
Sneak Peek - Opening Scene From Seven Seals Series Book 4 by Traci Douglass
One look around Rick and Serpent’s should have been enough to make any rational person turn tail and run. From the sweaty press of overly sexed bodies to the awful disco music booming overhead, the place reeked of bad booze and even worse decisions. Not exactly the way she’d choose to spend a Saturday night, if she’d had a choice. Too bad they were paying her damned good money to bring this bastard in.
Thana Girgis weaved her way through the crowd of drunken revelers and headed toward the makeshift bar at the back end of the narrow structure. She’d been all over the world, seen way more of life’s underbelly than any twenty-six-year-old should, yet this was the first time she’d celebrated Mardi Gras in a double-wide.
A jacked-up, pimped out double-wide but still.
Tiny hairs on the back of her neck stood at alert and she sighed.
He was here again, watching her. At first she’d thought she’d picked up a stalker. Wouldn’t have been the first time. Then she’d seen him intercede during a convenience store robbery and recognized the finely tuned moves of a former covert operative. Which meant someone had hired him to follow her.
Plus, there was the strange fact that the first time Thana had locked gazes with his feline green stare, a connection between them had been formed—dark and strong and needful. That had been almost six months ago and nothing—not work, not distance, not time—had diminished the link.
She stood on tiptoe and searched the room as best she could from her five-two-inch height, but didn’t spot him anywhere. Just as well. Distractions of the sexual kind weren’t needed. Not when she was so close to trapping her prey.
A flash of movement drew Thana’s attention back to where it firmly belonged and she pushed her way up to the bar. “Shot of Jack, please.”
“You bet, chere.” The bartender’s warm southern drawl hinted at deeper creole roots. He placed the small glass before her and filled it to the rim. “Hunting tonight?”
“No.” She knocked back the liquor in one swallow then gestured for another. “I’m working.”
The bartender eyed her up and down as he poured her another shot then took her money. “Be careful, chere. Bad juju in the air.”
Thana ignored his warning and swiveled to survey the crowd once more.
“Aw, shit.” A large, heavily tattooed guy shouldered in beside her at the bar.
Dressed in tight jeans and a skimpy top, Thana didn’t resemble her normal staid self, but then again, that was the point. Considering her new neighbor was practically staring a hole in the side of her head, it was time to get this party started.
She turned and gave him her best deadpan look, silent.
“I lost my fucking keys.” The guy made a show of checking his pockets, then stopped and grinned at her, his mouth a mix of bad teeth and gold caps. “Can I check your pants?”
“Has that line ever gotten you laid?”
“Most times I beat the bitches off with a stick, but tonight’s your lucky night.” He held his arms wide, showing off a bushy set of hairy armpits beneath his stained Sons Of Anarchy tank. “Now c’mon over here and give us a kiss.”
Thana burst out laughing.
Mr. Rico Suave didn’t seem take kindly to her giggles because he smashed his beer bottle against the metal wall. The surrounding crowd continued to party, unaffected as shattered glass tinkled to the floor. Thana remained relaxed against the bar, waiting.
His first mistake came when he wrapped a beefy hand around her upper arm. He didn’t have a chance to make a second.
Within seconds, she’d grabbed his wrist and twisted, maneuvering him down to the bar while hoisting his arm behind him. She lodged a knee firmly between his spread legs to nudge him square in the balls. “John Barbour, you are under arrest for the death of Dr. Martin Dreben.”
His curses were muffled by the sticky bar top, but she still understood the words ‘whore’ and ‘die’. Unfazed, she slapped a pair of handcuffs on him and jerked him to his feet. “C’mon, Johnny. Someone’s expecting you.”
She used his big body like a battering ram, shoving through the crowd toward the front door. Once outside, she glanced sideways before heading to her car.
Shit. There he was again, her watcher, and even more gorgeous than she remembered.
Beneath the purple neon lights, his smooth caramel-colored skin seemed to glow. And those lips—full and lush and just begging to be kissed. The material of his dark cotton shirt clung to his tall, solid form in all the right places, accentuating the muscled torso beneath. But it was still his eyes that caught her, held her captive, made her think he could peer into her very soul.
“Bitch, can we get this over with? I want my phone call so I can make bail.”
Dammit. She pushed her quarry across the street toward her small Ford Fiesta and clicked the unlock button on her key fob. She never lost focus, especially during a case. What the hell was wrong with her tonight?
She opened the back door and crammed Barbour inside then slid and locked the door before slipping into the drivers seat and jamming the keys in the ignition. Whoever the guy watching her was, the man scrambled her brains and that was unacceptable.
A blow to the back of her seat jarred her back to the task at hand. She glared at Barbour in the rearview mirror. “You break it, you buy it, asshole. And forget about bail. They’re going to lock you up tight for a long time, scumbag.”
“Fuck you. You don’t know nothing.” Barbour tipped backward and prepared to ram his feet into the back of her seat again, but never got the chance.
Something bulldozed into the side of her car, knocking it sideways. The force caused Thana’s head to collide with the side window and the glass spider-webbed from the impact. She vaguely noticed Barbour tumbling off the backseat and onto the floor with a grunt.
Time slowed and she struggled to clear her blurry vision. A blast of humid air breezed past her face and she regained her composure in time to see Barbour finagle open the back door and sprint toward an alley nearby, away from the crash.
At least she thought it was a crash.
“Son of a bitch.” Dizzy and disoriented, she fumbled out of the car and peered around the area. No fleeing cars in sight, no squealing tires. She pressed her fingers tight to her throbbing temple and made her way slowly to the other side of the vehicle to assess the damage. She stopped and squinted at the gray exterior.
Nothing. Not a scratch anywhere on the Focus.
Yet it’s current cockeyed position straddling the roadway and the curb clearly showed the car had been moved, forcefully, from it’s previous position.
Thana slumped against the passenger door. If her pounding headache was any indication, she had a mild concussion. Fantastic. Not only would she have pissed off clients to contend with, she’d have medical bills. Bills she couldn’t afford.
The world tilted before her eyes and she would have face-planted on the asphalt if it hadn’t been for a set of strong arms that came around her, pulling her tight against a warm, muscled chest.
She opened her eyes and raised her head to peer into the face of her savior.
Up close, he was even taller than she’d first thought, towering at least a foot over her.
Then he smiled and all her instincts went into overdrive.
Thana Girgis did not lose her shit over men, injured or not.
Not now, not ever. Period. Amen.
“Uh… thanks for the help.” She pushed away from him and this time he let her go. His expression looked as unsettled as she felt, but that didn’t matter. She had to get out of here and find Barbour. Now. She steadied herself against the vehicle as she walked back to the driver’s side. “Excuse me, but I’ve got a bad guy to catch. Again.”
She jerked the door open. Barbour would hopefully be more conspicuous with his hands trussed behind his back, but it would still be hard to find him in the all the Mardi Gras revelers.
Shit. Just shit.
She had started the engine and was about to take off when the passenger door opened.
“Mind if I join you?”
Thana blinked at him for a moment. If she’d thought his looks were deadly, his voice was lethal. Deep and smooth and laced with some exotic accent—the man was a thousand orgasms waiting to happen.
Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she fished it out without looking. “Girgis. No. I…uh…I had a little accident. Give me a few more hours and I’ll have him in custody.”
The line went dead while she stared at her uninvited guest. “Listen, I appreciate your assistance, but you need to get out of the vehicle.”
“I’ll help you.” He smiled pleasantly and crossed his arms. “I can handle myself.”
“I’m sure you can, whoever you are, but I work alone.” She cut the engine. “Get out or I’ll have to throw you out.”
His grin deepened. “I’d like to see you try, canim.”
Turkish. The guy had just called her darling in Turkish. She hadn’t heard that term since her childhood in Cairo. A picture of her mother’s face, so happy, so carefree, wavered in her mind before it fractured into a thousand pieces.
Dammit. She shook her head and gripped the steering wheel tight as a fresh wave of nausea swept over her. Common sense said she should head to the nearest ER for a check up. Her bank account insisted otherwise. She needed to find Barbour and collect her fee.
“I really don’t think you should be driving with you head injury, canim. Perhaps I should take you to the hospital, have a doctor check your…”
“I’m fine. And I am not your darling. Stop calling me that.” She forced her fists to unclench. “This is your last chance. Get out now.”
“How about a compromise?”
“Yes. You wait here and I’ll get Barbour for you.”
She snorted despite her discomfort. “Really. You’ll just walk up and grab him, huh?”
“Sure. He’s lying right over there.” He pointed to a shadowed spot against a nearby brick building. “After I knocked him out, I put him there for safekeeping.”
“Safekeeping?” Thana felt like a brain-damaged parrot, repeating everything the guy said, but her mind felt sluggish. Not more than a minute could’ve passed between the collision and Barbour taking off. Even if her stalker had been poised and ready for the escape, there was no way this guy could have reacted fast enough to knock Barbour out and save her from hitting the pavement. No one had those kinds of skills. “I don’t believe you.”
“Check for yourself. I’ll wait.”
Grumbling, she shoved the door open and climbed out onto shaky legs. Ridiculous. She didn’t have time to play his ridiculous games. This was stupid. Insane.
What the hell? Propped up between a drainpipe and a section of chain-link fence, slumped John Barbour, out cold and drooling into his scruffy beard.
“Would you like help loading him into your vehicle, canim?”
Somehow, her watcher stood right behind her and she’d never heard him move.
She looked between him and her quarry, uncertain. She didn’t work with a partner. Ever. And she had no intention of splitting any of her bounty with this guy, superpowers or not. After all, she’d done all the hard work—tracking Barbour for days, watching him in this pathetic excuse for a nightclub, planning the apprehension.
Thana kicked Barbour’s foot with the toe of her combat boot. The guy had to be pushing three hundred pounds fully ambulatory. Unconscious, getting him into her compact car alone would be difficult, to put it mildly. She turned and gave her new acquaintance a hard stare. “Fine. Just don’t get in my way. Understand?”
Despite her less-than-hospitable demeanor, Luther couldn’t help but be impressed by his new target’s tenacity. She’d hoisted the criminal’s legs into the air and carried her portion of his heavy bulk all the way to the tiny vehicle, despite what must’ve been a monstrous headache. “Want to tell me who the hell you are and why you’ve been following for months?” Her questions broke him out of his reverie in time to avoid having his fingers slammed in the car door.
He stepped back and wiped his hands on his jeans, his gaze steadfast on the ground. The fact she’d spotted his surveillance didn’t bother him half as much as the fact that the strap on her barely-there top had slipped down to expose a dangerous amount of cleavage.
With her long, silky black hair and wide, dark eyes, she reminded him of an ancient Egyptian queen, only twice as shrewd and far more dangerous. Her dossier had prepared him for her military-grade training and tough bravado—being orphaned at thirteen and enduring the harsh training of the Mossad would do that to a person. What it hadn’t prepared him for was just how lovely she was, or his reaction to her. He took a deep breath and changed subjects. He didn’t want to reveal too much about his purpose. Not yet. “Why have you chosen such an unusual profession?”
“I asked you first.” She waited, arms now resting on the top of the car. “I don’t like to be followed.” She eyed him up and down. “Who do you work for?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” With her body safely hidden by the vehicle, he ventured another glance at her face. “Seems we are at an impasse, canim.”
“I told you not to call me that.”
“And I told you I would help you. Based on what happened to your vehicle tonight, I’d say you could use all the help you can get.”
“You saw the people who hit me?”
“I saw the creature responsible, yes.”
Traci is a USA Today Bestselling Author of Contemporary and Paranormal Romance. Her stories feature sizzling heroes full of dark humor, quick wits and major attitudes and heroines who are smart, tenacious, and always give as good as they get. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and she loves animals, chocolate, coffee, hot British actors, and sarcasm—not necessarily in that order.
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