romance excerpts

When I decided to sit down and write a fireman story I had no idea Reese Colton was a vampire. But as the story unfolded so did his history. And I gotta tell you, he’s one hot vampire!

Please enjoy this excerpt from “UNCONTROLLED BURN” available as a stand alone and as part of the “INTO THE FLAMES” boxed set …

Uncontrolled-Burn-e-reader
 
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Welcome to another week of Six Sentence Sunday. After several weeks off moving from Rhode Island to Maine, I’m trying to get my feet back on the ground again.

Last month was a wonderful month for my sexy romantic suspense story, “Blind Her With Bliss“! I thought I’d do a little happy dance and give you another six from the first book in “The Tilling Passions” series.

It was a wonder the man pouring his soul out through the piano keys didn’t simply collapse; an empty husk of a body, sacrificing everything to give life to the passionate strains of music filling the auditorium. Surely nothing so poignant could come from anywhere other than the heart. As melancholy notes penned by some dead composer plucked at her heartstrings, Julie could feel Damon’s sorrow filling her and resonating through every molecule of air.

As the emotional melody pulled her along its river of notes, she thought of her family. As much as they aggravated her, they also anchored her—gave her a sense of belonging. Damon had no one.

Available FREE from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

Thank you for your comments you leave week to week, they mean a lot to me. And don’t forget to go HERE to check out other authors participating in Six Sentence Sunday this week!

It’s here! FINALLY! It’s taken more months than I’d like to admit, to say that the third and final book in the Tilling Passions series is finally out in the world! Yay! Yes, this book was previously published and I LOVED it when it went out into the world, but ya know … I’ve learned a lot about writing and storytelling and so it’s gone through a major overhaul before I could re-release it. And here’s the gorgeous cover (designed by DAR ALBERT who is the absolute best!

BLURB:
He has a secret past. She has dreams for their future. Together they have a problem that may just kill them both…

Floral designer, MEGHAN TILLING, has been in love with her fiancé since college. With her business, his promotion and a family illness, she’s finding the demands on her time are keeping them apart. PETER MADDOCK loves his fiancée with a fierceness that claws at his soul, but finding answers to his past becomes an obsession he can’t ignore. When bizarre accidents threaten Meghan’s life, he wonders if his secrets have finally caught up with him. Can they both discover the truth without paying the ultimate price …their lives?

EXCERPT:
Peter wasn’t sure what to do for Meghan after the horrendous weekend she’d just endured.

First the episode with the cooler, which still knotted his stomach with guilt, then the death of her beloved cat and today she’d had some argument with Deirdre that had brought tears, but no explanation. Now her father lay in the ICU, fighting for his life yet again. Yeah, sucky didn’t quite cover his fiancée’s life at the moment.

Meghan dragged herself out of the car in the garage and through the door Peter held open. Stepping up into the breezeway and into the kitchen seemed an almost insurmountable task for her. At least he’d gotten the garage door to work, and she wasn’t schlepping through the freshly fallen snow.

Another winter storm had rolled in somewhere around midnight, accumulating several inches an hour, making the forty-minute drive from Bangor a treacherous one. Thank goodness her mother had agreed to ride back to Delmont with them. Alice was tucked in safely at home down the street. Deirdre and Ayden had gone home an hour ahead of them, leaving Julie and Damon, because their apartment was so close to the hospital, to take the first vigil at John’s bedside.

Absently, Meghan slipped out of her winter gear and threw it over the back of a dinette chair. Slumping into the seat, she looked like every cell of her body had been drained of energy.

“Babe, can I get you something to eat?” Peter walked across the kitchen and stuck his head in the refrigerator. “We’ve got eggs, bagels, leftover soup.”

“It’s three o’clock in the morning, Peter. How can you think about food?” A weak laugh escaped her lips. “I’m too tired to eat, but help yourself. I’m just going to take a shower and wash off the hospital before falling into bed.” Instead of standing, she laid her forehead on the table. “I should be able to get several hours of sleep before heading over to open the shop.”

Peter abandoned his quest and came up behind her, rubbing at the knots in her shoulders. “I think the good citizens of Delmont would understand if you didn’t open the shop today. There’s no doubt word has already made it around town that your father’s in the hospital.”

Turning her head to look at him, Meghan’s eyes filled with tears. “What if…”

“Don’t, Meggie.” Peter knelt beside her and cupped Meghan’s face in his hands, his thumb brushing a tear from her cheek. “Your dad’s a stubborn man. He’s pulled through before, he’ll do it again.”

“I just don’t know what I’ll do if he doesn’t.” Her voice trailed off.

Peter pulled her tight to his chest, protecting his own shattering heart. John had been the only father figure he’d known. His only memory of his mother centered on his fourth birthday, party balloons, and a bike. Shortly after that he’d been placed in state custody. His mother had never shaken her drug addiction long enough to regain permanent custody. Though he’d always believed she would come for him, her death when he was ten sealed his fate. He’d come back to Maine in search of the happy memories of his childhood and found love in Meghan.

“Hey, where are you?” Meghan’s finger trailed along his brow.

“Nowhere.” He stood and pulled her with him. No sense hashing over a past he couldn’t change. “Let’s get you to bed.”

“How about you climb in the shower with me?”

“Meghan.” The word came out on a husky breath. As exhausted as they both were, desire sparked in her eyes, and the heat shot straight to his groin. How had he ever doubted that she was enough? His lips came down softly on hers, the contact gentle but filled with unspoken hunger.

He swept her into his arms, cradling her against him, her cheek pressed over his heart. He carried her past the bed they shared, where she satisfied every part of him. He set her down, kissing her tenderly, her mouth hungry and eager for him. There would be no bondage tonight. No spanking or sex toys. Just sighs of pleasure and sweet caresses. As he pulled the T-shirt over her head and bent to kiss the luscious curve of her breast, he marveled at the many sexual personas of his fiancée; insatiable tigress, wanton sex-slave, and alluring angel. All his—whenever he wanted.

“I love you, Meghan.” He sighed the declaration into her ear. He didn’t need to say it out loud. His hands roaming her body communicated it so much better, but the emotions bursting from his heart required a voice.

“I love you too.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh, and did I mention it’s on sale for the next couple of weeks for $1.49?

BUY Link for KINDLE Lovers
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He understood she was his destiny.
She never knew a man was her future.

Yay! I LOVE RELEASE DAY! It never gets old … trust me! And this particular book is very close to my heart. I poured into the hero, Brenimyn all the traits I’d fallen in love with since I began reading romance in my early teens. And boy, did I have A LOT to share. I love Bren. I really do. And I think I found the feisty raven-haired beauty in Jahara who could give him a run for his money.

But this book is so much more than a love story. There’s an interesting twist on discrimination and social ignorance. It was really a challenge to explore that aspect of the story. And as a little teaser I’ll leave you with the blurb and a new excerpt (you can check out chapter one on the Jasmine Jade website).

BLURB:
In the female dominated society of the 23rd century, mating with a male, even if it is to save the human race, is a distasteful task and one Healer Jahara Hriznek has successfully avoided-but time and excuses have now run out. Obligated to reside at the procreation facility known as the Garden of Serenity, Jahara finds more than pleasure at the hand of the one man who refuses to leave her bed.

Brenimyn is a gifted breeding instructor at the Garden. Forced to copulate with all females who request his services, he’s tired of the sexist government enslaving men. He yearns to find the one woman who will fulfill his destiny and help him bring about social equality. When Jahara arrives with the new class of breeders, Brenimyn’s body immediately aches for her. But convincing the stubborn healer that sex is more than just an act for procreation proves to be a challenge he refuses to fail.

Jahara doesn’t want to enjoy the sinful rapture only Brenimyn brings to her body. Brenimyn has no intention of dousing the flames of desire licking at them until Jahara is completely his-mind, body and heart. But when the government finds their burgeoning relationship a threat to the natural order, there may be more than their stubborn wills at stake.

EXCERPT:
The sound from the crowd rolled up from the grass. The noise engulfed him like a thunderous storm. He had never delivered the words with such enthusiasm and confidence. Putting his arm around Jahara, he was showered with the strength flowing from her. He kissed her passionately, barely able to control the impulse to run his hands down her body and feel her respond to his touch. She melted into him and he held her until the noise diminished, satisfied in the minimal contact.

Knowing the next step would be the hardest, he hugged Jahara close to him. Her body tensed. She understood what was coming. “Most honorable friends.” He raised the book, waiting for the din to subside. “The time has come. We have waited and now it will begin.” Pausing a heartbeat, Brenimyn let the suspense hang in the air. “Men, no longer will we submit to the domination of the female gender.” The breeders whooped and raised their fists. “No more will we be treated as animals good only for increasing the female population.” Some men jumped to their feet. “We will no longer accept that we are not worthy of gifts and education.” Even with the amplifier, Brenimyn had to shout to be heard over the celebrating crowd.

“Women, you will no longer be forced to procreate for the sake of continuing humankind. Mating will be a choice, one’s body freely given to another for the sake of love, not obligation for reproduction.” Everyone was on their feet. “The time has come to stop ripping your children from your womb and your hearts.” He watched the pregnant women cradle their swollen stomachs. “We have waited long enough, the time is now.”

He let the crowd have their moment before lifting the book to silence them. The crowd settled back into the grass. The murmurs of approval still rippled over them like a pebble dropped in water.

“The prophecy says two great warriors, a woman and a man, shall join together to ready an army for a monumental battle. It will not be fought with weapons as our ancestors had done, but with intellect and cunning. This war will oppose all common beliefs and bring about a new world order where men and women, as equals, shall reign.” Jahara went slack in his arms. She braced her hand on his chest, her gaze flicking wildly about the people below. Holding her quivering body, Brenimyn knew only his arm kept her from collapsing. This was a burden anyone would find difficult to shoulder.

“Many visionaries have confirmed the prophecy. As you know, from a young age, I understood I would be chosen to begin the fight. I accepted the responsibility many years ago and have prepared the way, waiting anxiously for the woman who would stand at my side.” The crowd stilled, holding a collective breath, already knowing the words he would speak. Unsure of her reaction, Brenimyn looked down at Jahara. He watched her transformation in rapt fascination.

Stepping away from him, she stood with her feet planted, pulling herself up tall. She filled her lungs, her bare breasts held high. The dark triangle of her womanhood was visible through the gossamer fabric of her breeches billowing in the breeze. She looked so feminine. Yet, under the lifted chin and unpretentious set of her mouth, he could see the fierce warrior the visionaries had promised. She held her arms casually at her side, not at her hips in defiance as many would.

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And don’t forget to check out the contest (in the upper right corner of my sidebar) I’m having to celebrate the release. 

Since Healer’s Garden just got it’s release date. I thought I’d share an excerpt with you from Chapter One …

May 2267

Jahara Hriznek’s life was over. The evidence weighed heavy in her hands. In the time it had taken to do the retinal scan, her future had been stolen from her.

As she stood at the tall bank of windows, staring at the distant mountains, Jahara knew nothing could change this new course of her life. She felt the hollow reality as obviously as the barren expanse of desert stretching between her and the horizon. There was nothing to break up the monotony of the landscape. Nothing to take her mind off the inevitability of the days to come. Nothing to bring back the future she’d thought lay before her when she woke this morning.

No helo-vehicles were out this time of day. It was still much too hot for people to leave the climate-controlled confines of the buildings in the city on the other side of the mountains. It would be a few more hours still before the sun sat low enough to make the commute across the blistering sands a safe one. Then the nearly empty roadway, three stories below, would bustle with solar powered helo-vehicles and buses.

She wouldn’t be among the commuters winding their way from the Eastern Territory’s capital city of Lexington into her little village. Jahara had taken a much-needed day of rest from the healing facility.

The city’s new government expansion had brought with it careless male workers whose stupidity forced them to the hospital in droves for emergency services. Those healers not completely repulsed by the men’s presence were forced to work overtime to treat the injuries. Jahara had been fielding complaints and filling in for overworked healers for weeks.

For one day she’d wanted to think about nothing more taxing than what music selection she would pull from her computer files. She’d planned on using some of her monthly water allotment and soaking in a hot bath rather than her daily chemical wash. Jahara had even considered calling Merenith and convincing her to take the day off from the animal clinic and lounge around with her. She had no doubt her current lover and she could find ways to entertain each other.

But none of that had happened.

The messenger service had shown up at her door early this morning, delivering the wretched news. Had she known they were making their way to her, Jahara definitely would have worked at the hospital today and long hours into the night. Using her hands to heal males was preferable to holding this retched projection disk.

Now, as Jahara glared at the palm-sized disk, fear burned the back of her throat and trembled along her chin. Hot tears of anger welled in her eyes. She shouldn’t be so upset. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t known this was coming. Her twenty-eighth birthday was next month. It was law. Her birth-mother, the Dame of her family, had held off the inevitable as long as possible. Jahara’s position as medical director had, up until this day, kept her from fulfilling the horrid obligation. But no woman, no matter how prestigious her position, ever ran from it. The thought soured in her stomach.

She’d known what the packet contained the moment she’d opened the door to find the government currier standing in the hall. Jahara had wanted to flee, to shut the door and hide from the responsibility, but instead she calmly leaned forward and let the android do the eye scan that proved the disk had found its way into her hands. She stared down at the official government seal over her Dame’s image on the disk. Even offspring of the chief administrator of the Eastern Territory weren’t exempt from this law enacted by Congress nearly a century and a half earlier.

Throwing the disk at the wall, she let out a feral sound of frustration.

As if chastising her, the bells chimed at her door. The normally soft chirp sounded loud in the silent womb of her living abode where she’d closed herself away. Jahara didn’t want to answer it. Didn’t want to know there was more to fulfilling her obligation. When it rang again, the sound almost persistent, she reluctantly skirted around the couch and slammed her hand on the touchpad, retracting the pneumatic door.

“Having temper tantrums, I hear.” Merenith leaned in for a quick kiss. “I heard you all the way down the hall.” The short crop of blonde swished about her chin as her lover shook her head in disbelief. Her pouty lips were pulled tight between her teeth to mask-humor? Concern? Jahara couldn’t be sure.

“You have no idea what kind of a day I’ve had.” Jahara stepped back and invited the willowy beauty through the door. “The worst day of my life, as a matter of fact.” As she passed, Jahara marveled as always at the beauty of Merenith’s body. A descendent of the Olakuma clan, Merenith’s ancestors had long ago lost any semblance of body hair. It was unnecessary in their life in the desert heat. Merenith’s skin was all tawny satin, save for the velvety blonde eyebrows and thick lashes that once protected her people from the harsh sand thrown up in the hot winds.

The woman stared at her, arching one of those elegant brows, the skeptical expression marring the flawless contours of her face. “Worst? I think you’re exaggerating just a bit.” Merenith bent to brush the dust of the desert from her heavy work boots.

“You have no idea.”

Straightening, Merenith tenderly pressed her lips to Jahara’s and wrapped her in her arms. The comforting scent of jasmine, hay and the animals Merenith tended filled Jahara’s nose. She pulled Merenith in tighter, wishing they could stay this way forever and ignore the projection disk.

Merenith might be four years her junior, but Jahara wanted to believe that what they shared was the stuff made of fairytales. At her age, Jahara was desperate to find the woman who would complement her in every sense of the word-a woman who could be the sun to her moon, the color on her drab canvas, the shadow that moved in synchronized harmony with her-a woman who would satisfy every part of her. She had hoped Merenith would become that person. But their relationship was still so new. There was no doubt fulfilling her obligation would have some affect on her career, but that she could rectify. Jahara just wasn’t sure she would survive if it stole from her the one thing she wanted most-true love.

I love this book. I actually did a bunch of research to get details about vineyards and wine making. It was a ton of fun. And then when Nick and Frankie’s chemistry became combustible … well, I was completely smitten.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt

Having Nick present while she visited with Joseph wasn’t really in her plans. Frankie had tried to talk Nick into taking the motorcycle to the hospital later in the morning but Margaret had come running down the granite steps swinging a picnic basket as Frankie was climbing into the truck. She handed it to Nick with two quick kisses on his cheeks and stood watching as he climbed into the passenger side of the cab and they pulled from the driveway.

Now they were headed into town, the midmorning sun hanging in an azure sky, its rays dancing on Seneca Lake. Normally Frankie would have loved a day like this but the cab seemed claustrophobic with Nick Gradin’s surly attitude sitting between them.

“It’s not my fault you didn’t know who I was,” she said quietly.

Turning to her, he cocked a skeptical eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest.

“You knew your father had a stepdaughter.”

“And a child bride,” Nick remarked coldly. “I expected my stepsister to have pigtails and braces.

Not…” His hand motioned up and down her torso.

“Well, you didn’t seem to mind the package yesterday.”

“Yesterday I thought you were Joseph’s assistant.”

“Funny, yesterday I thought you were a womanizing pig of a manwhore.” She shot him a patronizing smile. “Guess one of us was right.”

He frowned. “If you’ll recall, I wasn’t the one who came on to you in the field.”

“As I recall, it was you who was ready for action in the wine cellar.”

“I was simply reading the signals you were sending out.”

“Then you have a faulty GPS.”

“My wiring is just fine thank you.”

“I suppose you think it is, with all the woman you have tumbling into your posh Philadelphia bed.”

“Now what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, as if you don’t know.”

“I have no idea what you’re…oh, this is stupid. Pull over here.” Nick motioned to a dirt road that led to a small alcove near the lake.

She’d been parking there once in high school.

“I’m not going to see Joseph until we clear this up and can at least be civil to each other,” he said.

Frankie acquiesced. He was right. It wouldn’t do Joseph any good to have them bickering in front of him. She turned the truck into the trees, their pumpkin and gold leaves floating passively on the gentle breeze. They bumped down the dirt tracks, the center lane overgrown with the dried weeds of summer. Frankie felt as if she was entering the lion’s mouth. Anger surrounded Nick like the cloud of dust trailing behind them. She had no idea why he was so pissed when she’d only spoken the truth.

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Recently Ambrosia from Whipped Cream Reviews gave “Hearts Afire-May” a 5 cherry review. This anthology includes my vampire novella “Shadows of Fire”. This is part of what she had to say …

“It was a pleasure to read such an alarming, hot tale of the flames of desire, sparked by such an awesome set of characters. The other characters in the story lent a gamut of emotions from joy, to pain, to love, and hatred as the story licked the edges of Alex’s world.

A definite must for those who love a good suspense and hot read of fabulous frisky firemen and a feisty female. This story deserves its own 4.5 rating for the exceptional writing. One can only fall into the heat of well written prose with glee.”

Click HERE for the full review.

Yep, I’m smiling all over with that review! And to celebrate I’d like to share with you a new from my novella, Shadows of Fire. Please enjoy …

Clouds shrouded the moon as the vampire moved through the abandoned field. Some caring neighbor had probably come in today and no doubt sheltered the wayward animals. Just as well. After tonight, pig’s blood would no longer be needed for that heinous concoction that passed as vampire sustenance. Glenn’s death had solidified that.

Vampires were nocturnal creatures, born of blood, they lived by blood. To hell with modern views to the contrary. Ridding South Kenton of the contemptuous vampires who had weakened themselves had been necessary. Though the professor’s death should have been the end, the realization that one more fire would complete the purification spurred the beast forward.

Under the cloak of darkness the vampire searched Glenn’s house, but found nothing. Obviously, Glenn had hidden whatever he’d found in the professor’s office well. Had there been more time last evening, it would have been a pleasure to coax the information from his bloody lips. But misdirection required precision. The setup left in the barn fire could not have been more perfect. Killing the kid after Glenn resurrected the poor bastard had been an added pleasure. Staking the body to the pentagram was nothing short of pure genius. Already gossip of Glenn’s occult practices had begun to spread. Small towns survived on grist from the rumor mill. The lies had been whispered in the man’s own tavern tonight, for chrissake.

Now, the murderer needed to finish destroying the professor’s work. But the evidence Glenn had stolen from the man’s office-information that would no doubt spur others to follow in his footsteps-needed to be found and destroyed. Time was running out.

Standing on the back steps of the farm house, the monster listened to an owl cry a victory song in the darkness and its prey scream a death wail. It was a haunting sound that called to the vampire heart. “Life taken to give life.” The creed rode  in the gentle breeze.

The rain had slowed around midnight and now, nearly an hour later, had finally stopped. It would make the long walk back to the bridge where the car was parked a pleasant stroll. The heavy boots clomped down the stairs and across the driveway. Clouds skittered across the sky and opened. The full moon beamed in all its glory upon the blackened barn, the rays of light stretching to illuminate Glenn’s vehicle. An obvious sign that couldn’t be ignored

With a gentle push of air, the vampire stood at the cab of the truck. The moon glittered off a metal ring hanging on the shifter. Opening the door, the vampire leaned in to retrieve the key, and found the leather satchel hidden beneath the seat.

Fate had smiled down once again.

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Furry, Fluffy & Wild is a wolf shifter anthology available through Liquid Silver Books and includes my novella Blue Moon Rising which actually kicks off the “Shifting Bonds” series. This is the story where I first fell in love with Jayda Kynslan, a veterinarian who hasn’t yet met the shifter within…

Please enjoy this excerpt:

Chapter One

Jayda Kynslan sauntered into the Whip and Bull Tavern wanting only two things: a cold beer and a hot c**k. The first she hoped would ease the heavy ache in her chest. The second would be attached to a good-looking man who would replace the images of the jackass who’d broken her heart. This whole road trip to the high mountains of Montana had been a knee-jerk reaction to the asshole’s selfishness. Jayda shook her head, clearing away thoughts of the friggin’ pig of a manwhore. She didn’t want to go there tonight. This night was about getting a little buzz and a lot of sex.

Her first objective was only as far away as the bar on the other side of the room. But weaving her way through the handful of empty tables, her red cowboy boots crunching on the peanut shells strewn on the marred floor, Jayda realized finding someone to fulfill the second thing on her wish list wasn’t going to be as easy. She’d picked a bad night to go cruising for male flesh in a nearly empty bar that seemed to cater to the college crowd.

Plunking her voluptuous ass on one of the padded barstools, Jayda lifted her hand to the bartender. Some might consider Jayda fat, but she liked to think of her size-sixteen frame as curving in all the right places. Why men would go for the little waifs with nothing to hold on to, like the petite blonde behind the bar, was beyond her understanding.

“Bud Lite,” she said to the female bartender, who looked only slightly less bored than she felt at the moment. Except for football season, which had already passed, Jayda figured Monday nights, even in a cowboy town like Lonesome Fork, weren’t really big tavern nights for most people.

The woman’s ponytail swayed as she set down the bottle, offered a glass, which Jayda refused, and slid over the bowl of peanuts. Jayda hadn’t eaten since lunch–just before leaving the clinic. Anticipation had kept her driving through the mountains, but now her stomach rumbled, reminding her she hadn’t bothered to fix herself dinner before leaving the cabin, either. Grabbing a handful of nuts, she scanned the reflections of the patrons in the mirror behind the bar, searching for possible targets.

Tonight, she decided, would be her last go-around with the opposite sex–unadulterated, uncomplicated coitus with a complete stranger. A nice memory to hold onto in the quiet of the night when she was alone in her bed. She didn’t want to need a man. She was a successful vet in a big practice–it should be enough.

After tonight, she’d spend the week in solitude at her friend’s mountain cabin, mending her shredded heart, and planting her feet solidly on the path to celibacy. Obviously, two weeks drowning her sorrows with tears hadn’t helped. Men, she’d come to believe, were nothing but scumbags of trouble on the garbage heap of misery. The sooner she cleared them from her mind, the happier she’d be.

Jayda had chosen this evening’s outfit to accent her best features. Her ass was swaddled in her favorite pair of soft Levi’s, and her cleavage was displayed quite nicely in the white cashmere sweater. Her clothes definitely announced, “I’m yours for the taking.”

She hadn’t wanted to mess with the corkscrew curls of her hair while traveling the ninety minutes from her condo in Blackfish Springs to the cabin in Lonesome Fork, so she’d pulled the whole mess into a long French braid. The thick tail of black curled over her shoulder and draped invitingly over her breast.

Unable to make out faces in the murky light of the tavern, Jayda gave up on her sly inspection of the clientele and kicked the stool a half turn. Leaning one elbow on the padded edge of the bar, she casually sipped her beer, assessing her chances of getting laid.

This week I’d like to share another excerpt from my futuristic erotic suspense novel, The Healer’s Garden. Currently available from Liquid Silver Books

He understood she was his destiny. She never knew a man was in her future …

The sound from the crowd rolled up from the grass. The noise engulfed Brenimyn like a thunderous storm. He had never delivered the words with such enthusiasm and confidence. Putting his arm around Jahara, he was showered with the strength flowing from her. He kissed her passionately, barely able to control the impulse to run his hands down her body and feel her respond to his touch. She melted into him and he held her until the noise diminished, satisfied in the minimal contact.

Knowing the next step would be the hardest, he hugged Jahara close to him. Her body tensed. She understood what was coming. “Most honorable friends.” He raised his arm, waiting for the din to subside. “The time has come. We have waited and now it will begin.” Pausing a heartbeat, Brenimyn let the suspense hang in the air. “Men, no longer will we submit to the domination of the female species.” The breeders whooped and raised their fists. “No more will we be treated as animals good only for increasing the female population.” Some men jumped to their feet. “We will no longer accept that we are not worthy of gifts and education.” Even with the amplifier, Brenimyn had to shout to be heard over the celebrating crowd.

“Women, you will no longer be forced to procreate for the sake of continuing humankind. Mating will be a choice, one’s body freely given to another for the sake of love, not obligation for reproduction.” Everyone was on their feet. “The time has come to stop ripping your children from your womb and your hearts.” He watched the pregnant women cradle their swollen stomachs. “We have waited long enough, the time is now.”

He let the crowd have their moment before lifting his hand. The crowd settled back into the grass. The murmurs of approval still rippled over them like a pebble dropped in water.

“The prophecy says:  two great warriors, a woman and a man shall join together to ready an army for a monumental battle. It will not be fought with weapons as our ancestors had done, but with intellect and cunning. This war will oppose all common beliefs and bring about a new world order where men and women, as equals, shall reign.”  Jahara went slack in his arms. She braced her hand on his chest, her gaze flicking wildly about the people below. Holding her quivering body, Brenimyn knew only his arm kept her from collapsing. This was a burden anyone would find difficult to shoulder.

“Many visionaries have confirmed the prophecy. As you know, from a young age, I understood I was the chosen one. I accepted the responsibility many years ago and have prepared the way, waiting anxiously for the woman who would stand at my side.” The crowd stilled, holding a collective breath, already knowing the words he would speak. Unsure of her reaction, Brenimyn looked down at Jahara. He watched her transformation in rapt fascination. 

Stepping away from him, she stood with her feet planted, pulling herself up tall. She filled her lungs, her barebreasts held high. The dark triangle of her womanhood was visible through the gossamer fabric of her breeches billowing in the breeze. She looked so feminine. Yet, under the lifted chin and unpretentious set of her mouth, he could see the fierce warrior the visionaries had promised. She held her arms casually at her side, not at her hips in defiance as many would.

All this happened in a matter of seconds. 

“I present to you today, my mate–the honorable Jahara Hriznek. She is the one sent to save us from the tyranny of the Governmental Body of the Garden.”

Bowing before the thunderous crowd, she accepted the accolades with humility. Brenimyn was sure his heart would burst with love for the brave woman standing not above him like so many other females, but at his side.

What happens when a landscaper finds herself tangled up in a drug ring and the only man who can save her believes she’s guilty as sin? 

Please enjoy this new excerpt from Love’s Bounty the second in the Tilling Passions series available from Liquid Silver Books.

“So, Miss Tilling, tell us again what happened.”

“Do I need a lawyer?”

“You’re welcome to call one, if you’d like.”

“But I didn’t do anything. The drugs aren’t mine. I don’t know how they got in my truck. I was just headed back to Delmont to dump the refuse. I’m a landscaper, and I have a job here in Cutler. I’ve told you all that.”

Ayden paced the little room, watching Deirdre through the window. He had all he could do not to storm into the interrogation room and pull her into his arms. Over the past half hour, she seemed to be shrinking into herself. She’d told the same story a half dozen times, never once wavering about her innocence.

Did he believe her? Or was his opinion colored by their evening together? He scrubbed his hands over his face. This is why you never got involved with women when you were on a case.

“I demand to see her,” a man’s voice bellowed.

The commotion in the hallway happened only seconds before the door of the interrogation room flew open. Shawn Jameson shook off the officer trying unsuccessfully to detain him.

“Mr. Jameson … what are you doing here?” The chief stood up so fast he toppled the chair. It fell with a thunderous clatter.

“This woman is an employee of mine.” He put his arm around Deirdre’s shoulder.

“Shawn, I…” She looked up at him as if her savior had just arrived riding a white horse.

“Don’t say another word, Deirdre. My lawyer is on his way.”

“An employee? We weren’t aware. I don’t think the lawyer is necessary, Mr. Jameson.” The chief sputtered out the words. “We haven’t charged her with anything yet.”

“And yet you continue to interrogate an innocent woman?”

What the fuck? Ayden sat down hard in the closest chair, feeling like he’d just been kicked in the gut.

* * * *
Ayden leaned over the steering wheel of the Saab in the back lot of the precinct. Dark had descended hours ago, and night hadn’t been far behind. He’d been trapped in the little room for an hour, watching the chief fawn over Jameson. But that had been only half the show.

Jameson’s blustery lawyer showed up, shouting and pontificating, and the Cutler police’s big arrest had turned into a circus act, with Deirdre sitting center ring. In the end, they’d charged her with only a misdemeanor possession, no intent to traffic, no court date or jail time. A simple fine that could be paid through the mail.

Poor Deirdre.

Who was he kidding? She had pulled the wool over his eyes and led him around by his dick. All fluttery lashes and innocent smiles. “Innocent, my ass.” Ayden slammed back into the seat, banging his head against the leather. “Jameson came to your rescue and offered to post bail a little too quickly for my taste, Deirdre, m’dear. Methinks you’re more than his landscaper.”

He started the engine and backed out of the lot.

“And to top it off, I’m beginning to wonder if the chief’s on his payroll as well. Obviously someone tipped Jameson off about the arrest.” He looked in the rearview mirror. No headlights behind him. He would take a circuitous route back to the 7-Eleven just to be sure.

For the last forty-five minutes, Ayden had been grilling the chief about the citizens of Cutler. He hadn’t let on that Jameson was the suspected drug trafficker the DEA was after, but he’d steered the conversation in his direction several times. The chief assured him he knew Jameson only as a legitimate real estate mogul. It was his business to know the townspeople of Cutler. And Jameson was just that, a citizen who had purchased the rundown estate up on the hill.

Ayden wasn’t sure he believed the story. Not after the way Lafflin had tripped all over himself to make Jameson happy and cut Deirdre loose. It bothered him more than he wanted to acknowledge, when Deirdre walked out of the interrogation room huddled against Jameson. He had no idea where the woman was now.

“Probably cozied up with Jameson at the estate.” Ayden was such a fool.

He floored the pedal of the Saab, racing through the darkness, trying to outrun the prickly unease that had settled itself on the back of his neck.

The night had turned cold, and the thin sports jacket did nothing to keep the chill from penetrating straight to Ayden’s bones as he ran through the house lots back to his condo. The timer had tripped the lights as usual, and Ayden hoped whoever was watching him believed he’d been tucked in since late this afternoon when he’d parked the Jag out front. Slipping through the glass slider, he headed straight for the fridge and a cold brew. He flipped a couple CDs in the stereo just as the knock came at the front door.

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