What is it about the night that awakens our imagination and gets our heart racing? There are all kinds of answers to that question. For me, it’s the secrecy. What exactly are the shadows hiding? What is cloaked by the black that the light of day would reveal?
I’ll be the first admit I have an overactive imagination.I don’t watch horror movies because I remember every detail of the monsters and the evil that reigned. When the lights go out, I don’t need those images adding to the ones I’m already conjuring. I close every closet door and tuck away every stray piece of clothing on the floor, lest they hide a villain or become some malevolent entity in the wee hours of the night. Problems loom so much larger when they pull me from sleep. Sounds magnify and become telltale signs of a malicious presence seeking to harm me. I try to be logical about this whole thing. But there’s something about all those shifting shadows that completely crosses my wires and I can’t seem to pull myself together.
Welcome to the JUST ROMANCE ME blog hop. If you got here without being on the “bus”, click HERE to join the fun and visit the other participating authors!
I’m so glad you could make it. At the time of this post the northeast United States is being hit with the trifecta of winter elements: a blizzard with 12-18 inches of snow and record high tides that may cause flooding (thanks to the new moon) are expected where I live, and record low temperatures. It seems like the perfect time to share one of the chilling scenes from my newest release IN HIS EYES, a romantic thriller that just may give you a few more chills! The scene below will give you an idea of how creepy the villain really is!
It’s always wonderful to be noticed … or is it?
To those around her, Maggie Callaghan appears to have the perfect life…a handsome husband, three beautiful children, and her own business. But beneath her thin veneer lies a dark past and self-doubts. When evidence of her husband’s infidelity surfaces, Maggie leases a cottage on the Maine coast and prepares for her inevitable divorce. But a serial killer is on the hunt—and he’s marked Maggie as his next victim. Now her beachside retreat is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation targeting the murderer who’s left a trail of bodies across two states. As lies and secrets are revealed, Maggie realizes her life depends on knowing who’s protecting her—and who’s got her in his sights.
Like most nights, he sat in the alabaster sand, sifting grains slowly from hand to hand as if measuring time. Watching.
People rarely saw him, unless he chose for it to be so. And the woman meandering along the water’s edge was no exception. She had no idea he was admiring her. Appraising her. Measuring her.
With the tide so low, he’d been able to study the exotic creature whose hair rode the wind like black silk. She dragged her feet in the shallow surf, her eyes cast down as if the ebb and flow of the ocean could soothe away her troubles. The dip of her chin and the graceful arch of her neck spoke of a heavy burden.
She walked without a companion. Alone was good.
Lord, she was beautiful.
The sadness that curved her body in on itself made her that much more irresistible. He imagined he could hear the sweet strains of her loneliness carried on the evening breeze.
He didn’t know he was searching. Didn’t realize the moment had come again.
It had been a long time since he’d found someone who obviously hungered for the kind of solace only he could offer. He replayed the scene over and over again, long after she’d left the beach, long after the day had surrendered to the night. How serendipitous for her to be here on his beach.
He sat, quietly measuring time in handfuls of sand, thinking about the grace of her walk, the gentle swell of her hips and breasts, the lovely mane of hair—and he knew.
You are the one. I’ve been waiting for you.
In the solitude of the new moon, he sat for a long time committing to memory every detail of their encounter and formulating a plan to make the woman his own. Satisfied, he strolled back to his cottage—his heart and soul as dark as the murky shadows swallowing him.
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**** CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED *****
Okay, so with all the cold and snow and wind I’m thinking I’d like to get away this weekend with a good book to one of my favorite warm-weather destinations … The Virgin Islands. I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in the sand and surf doing research while I was in college. It was amazing and beautiful.
If money were no issue, where would go … and it’s okay if you enjoy winter (brrrrr) and you’d like to go somewhere cold … and what book would you take with you? Curious minds want to know.
Anyone commenting on this post between now and SUNDAY, JANUARY 5 at 4:00pm EDT will be entered to win a prize pack including a $10 Amazon gift card, some IN HIS EYES goodies, a bookbag and a print book from my backlist. (Shipping to US or Canada only. An international winner will win a $25 Amazon gift card in lieu of prize pack.)
Thanks for visiting. Enjoy the rest of the hop!
I’d like to welcome JD Favor to my blog. JD is the author of the The Edge of Texas romantic suspense series…
I’m so excited to be here today, Nina. Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m celebrating the release of BAD VIBES, the third novel in my romantic thriller series: THE EDGE OF TEXAS.
The setting for this series is about 25 miles north of the Mexican border on the lower Texas coast. South Padre Island is a beautiful semi-tropical resort separated from the mainland and the small coastal village of Port Isabel by the two-and-a-half mile Queen Isabella Causeway spanning the Intracoastal Waterway.
BAD MEDICINE was the first of THE EDGE OF TEXAS romantic thrillers and it’s FREE today. I hope everyone has a chance to download it.
BAD MEDICINE is followed by BAD KARMA, and BAD VIBES picks right up where BAD KARMA leaves off. BAD VIBES is the story of Deputy Darla Calhoun. She’s both depressed and angry over her husband’s suicide some six months previously, but she has to carry on for the sake of her twin 4-year-old sons. She is a member of the tight-knit law-enforcement team under the leadership of Sheriff Rafael Solis (the hero of BAD MEDICINE).
Darla arrests a vagrant, hanging around the marina, but after he’s cleaned up, she discovers a hunky, hard-body with a smoldering gaze hidden beneath the filthy rags. He turns out to be a federal agent working undercover. He’s after a gang of human traffickers using the Intracoastal Waterway to bring sex slaves into the United States from Mexico. Rafael assigns Darla as liaison officer to work with the feds, bringing her face-to-face with the “Iceman”, Mike Burke, the undercover agent she arrested. Darla, Mike and his partner tear up and down the Intracoastal Waterway in pursuit of the human traffickers, but when two local women disappear, the search becomes personal.
After a failed mission Darla and Mike are left alone on the boat, which leads them to an unplanned night of passion. The following excerpt takes place the next morning.
The sound of weaponry being discharged caused Darla to awaken with a jolt. She was lying naked in Mike’s arms.
It was the starter’s pistol for the regatta that had awakened her. She knew what it was immediately and sank back down into the warm embrace of the man who had made love to her in the wee small hours of the morning.
She gazed into his eyes. It was like staring into a reflection pool, deep and fathomless. She couldn’t read him at all, but he smiled and pulled her closer. She had been starved for tenderness and as unlikely a source as Mike Burke had seemed, he was proving to be a wellspring of affection. He stroked her hair with one of his large, yet surprisingly gentle, hands. She rested her cheek against his chest and closed her eyes.
She judged that she had only been able to grab a couple of hours of sleep, and considering the probability that this day would unfold to be as demanding as the last, she should run to her bunk and burrow her head under the covers. But Mike was stroking her bare skin with his fingertips.
His touch stirred her passion, a passion that had raged out of control earlier and, once awakened, lurked just under the surface, ready to rage again. The raging thing was new for Darla.
He kissed her forehead next to her eyebrow. A sweet gesture in any other setting, but considering that the full extent of her nude form was pressed against his, it was definitely a sexual act. She soaked it up like a sponge, lifting her lips to his.
Resistance is futile.
Mike’s kiss deepened. He seemed to have some kind of radar when it came to reading her. He knew how to make her senses sit up and beg, and he knew how to deliver.
His gaze alone could arouse a deep longing within her. A need for something she didn’t have or perhaps never had…that sense of belongingness that comes when two halves come together to make a whole. It seemed that when Mike was touching her and kissing her; when his body was speaking to hers, she felt that oneness she had read about in romance novels, but never truly experienced. And he seemed to take his job so seriously, the job of pleasuring her.
She wanted to tell him how much he thrilled her, but the words couldn’t seem to come. She felt tongue-tied, unwilling to admit that she had been starving and that he was giving sustenance not only to her body but to her soul. His ardent attentions restored her sense of self as a woman.
He kissed her, and then kissed her some more, as if he couldn’t get enough of her. His lips and tongue caressed every part of her body. She thought if she were to be swabbed for DNA, Mike Burke would be found guilty. But he wasn’t acting guilty. He was performing the act of making love the same way he did everything else; competently, thoroughly and in great detail.
His hands were on her thighs, gently caressing them with his fingertips. Her heart pulsed in her ears. She wanted him to touch her and to kiss her…and yes, she wanted him to make love to her with such single-minded intensity.
He grazed the inside of her thigh lightly with his tongue. She tried to play it cool, knowing where this was leading, but she couldn’t contain her grin. He pressed his tongue into her wetness, found his objective and proceeded to torment his target until she was gasping for relief. When waves of desire roiled low in her belly, he kneaded her with his finger and then when she couldn’t stand it anymore she pulled him toward her and embraced him by wrapping her legs around his hips. Not very subtle.
“Are you ready for me?” he whispered.
She wanted to scream, ‘Oh, hell yes!’ but managed to nod her head, not trusting herself to speak. When he guided himself into her, she felt all the sensual impact of their joining. The image of oneness returned, but she brushed it determinedly away. This can’t last. This is going to break my heart again.
But Mike couldn’t hear the lecture she was giving herself, so he was taking care of business in his own unique way. With each thrust he was bringing her to a higher and higher crest. Her body was filled to capacity by the man she was trying unsuccessfully to resist. He was hitting all the right parts. She lifted her hips to meet his thrusts and then when the first wave of orgasm hit her she latched on and rode it with him through the last swell.
He relaxed against her, but held her close, one hand under her hip. At least he was breathing hard. “Darla… Honey, I…”
Her breathing and heart rate were out of control, but she loved being held. She loved that he didn’t give her a peck and roll over. She loved…Mike…Oh, my God! I love him.
He found her lips again. It was a good kiss. It wasn’t a “Thanks for the sex” kiss or an “I’m done with you now” kiss. It was an “I’m just getting started” kiss.
Pick up the books in order:
BAD DREAMS (currently under construction)
I hope everyone has a chance to visit South Padre Island and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. In the meantime, you can visit through my series and keep up with the happenings. My goal is to entertain…and keep you up nights. 😉
J.D. Faver lives near Houston, Texas. She writes contemporary romance and mystery/suspense. She writes daily, but finds time to enjoy her family and friends. Her many hobbies include cooking, sailing, gardening, and painting. She’s active in writer’s organizations in the area. She belongs to National RWA and is a member of all three Houston area chapters. She is owned by two cats and a small, yappy rescue dog. Her idea of a great day would take place on a beach somewhere. Find out more about her books by visiting her website or following her on facebook or twitter.
Today I’d like to welcome dear friend and fellow author Pam Champagne. A Maine author, Pam writes romantic suspense novels with enough danger to keep you riveted to the edge of your seat and sweet love to keep you turning pages late into the night. Take it away Pam …
Thank you Nina for inviting me to your blog to promote my latest release, Missing In Action.
Many of you weren’t around in the sixties and early seventies when our country was at war with Vietnam. The memories of those years still haunt me. Too many good friends and classmates were lost. I was not one of the war protestors flooding the streets. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but like Nina, I tell it how I see it. I’m ashamed of U.S. citizens, like Jane Fonda, who supplied the enemy with propaganda. It was a scary time.
When I was in college I used to go every day after classes to Chelsea Naval Hospital where the badly wounded were brought in by the dozens. I’d read to them, talk with them and listen to stories of their wives and girlfriends back home. Sometimes they’d just want to hold a warm hand.
In later years, I became involved in groups who pressured the U.S. Government to account for those still listed missing in action. Time has a way of making memories fade and many families and relatives wanted closure to the extent they accepted government proof of their loved ones deaths. Most of the so-called “proof” wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. Bone fragments near the site of a crash or a battle that even forensics couldn’t identify the DNA.
Hence, came the idea for my book, Missing In Action which is available at Amazon. And the really good news? It can be downloaded FREE July 11, 12 and 13th.
Zoe Zanardi was born with a gift. She paints pictures of people she’s never met. One day an unseen force draws her into an antique shop where she finds an old POW-MIA bracelet. Through the bracelet, she discovers her biological father, a pilot, missing-in-action, during the Vietnam War. Zoe is convinced the bracelet is communicating with her and her father is still alive somewhere in Southeast Asia. She is determined to travel to Vietnam to find him, with or without the help of Chad Stone, a private investigator and former CIA agent, who turns up at her mother’s house one day with information about her father. Coincidence? Or is there more to her father’s disappearance? Are Zoe and Chad mere pawns in a deadly game?
Zoe burrowed further under the damp sheet in a futile attempt to recapture her dream. She’d been on the beach back in Maine with the waves lapping her toes in the sand. A safe, secure haven.
“Zoe! Wake up.” The harshly whispered command did its job. She wasn’t home on the beach. She was in a hotel in Vietnam with a man hot enough to burn the morning bacon and who seemed to have the morals of Sushi before he’d been castrated.
She bolted upright. “What do you want?” she rasped, pushing her heavy hair out of her eyes. “What time is it?”
Chad backed away from the bed and glanced at his watch. “Four o’clock,” he whispered.
“In the morning?” she croaked. “Why are you waking me so early?”
His low voice had a hint of huskiness. “We’re leaving.” He tossed some clothes on the bed before putting his mouth to her ear. “We’ve got to get out of here before they realize we found the hearing devices.” Chad walked around the bedroom, checking under chairs, under the beds. “I’ve tucked what we’re taking into one backpack. Leave the other one here.”
Wide-awake now, she sat up. “What about Sam and Kiko?”
Chad barely glanced at her as he continued checking under furniture and behind pictures. “Keep your voice to a whisper. We’re leaving without them.”
Zoe’s heart pounded. Didn’t Chad realize that Kiko and Sam wouldn’t just give up and go home? “Sam can have us arrested with one phone call. He’ll put out an APB or whatever they call it here.”
Chad’s gaze finally settled on her, the gray of his eyes dark, but calm and determined. “That’s why we won’t be traveling on main roads. I’ve got a destination. Once we arrive, we’ll have new identities.”
Not traveling on main roads? New identities? Zoe swallowed hard when she saw Chad push a handgun into the backpack. Where had that come from? Zoe continued sitting in bed as she scrutinized his changed appearance. He’d shaved his beard, making him look more like the man she’d met.
“Come on,” he said. “Get dressed. We’re walking out of here in five minutes.”
No matter what he looked like, this definitely wasn’t the man she’d first met. Zoe scrambled from beneath the covers and threw on her clothes. One quick trip to the bathroom, and she was ready to roll. On their way out the door, she leaned down and grabbed her sketchpad from the coffee table. She ripped off the drawing of the War Crimes Museum and tossed it on the table. It might buy them some time.
Chad touched her arm. “Good thinking. Let’s move.”
In the hall, they moved passed the elevators and headed toward the exit stairs. Chad led, pausing to glance over his shoulder a few times. Making sure she stayed close? Zoe figured she wasn’t doing too badly for a woman who normally couldn’t function without at least two cups of strong black coffee. Must be the adrenaline.
Their footsteps sent an eerie echo spiraling down the stairwell. At last they reached the bottom, and he stopped her with his hand. He disappeared through the exit door. Zoe waited on the bottom step, the only sound she heard was blood pounding in her ears.
The door creaked open. Chad waved her outside. As soon as her feet hit the sidewalk, he grabbed her arm. “We’re going to a safe house. There’s a car waiting there.”
Zoe matched his long strides with little problem. Every now and then, he’d lean close ask if she was all right. To an onlooker, they’d look like two tourists.
She soon lost track of the turns they made. The street twisted and curved through one of the strangest neighborhoods she’d ever seen. Row after row of houses made from old tin cans. They must have been left over from the war. Most labels were in English. The cans had been flattened and nailed onto some sort of wood then fit together to make outside walls and preserved with lacquer. The sight was odd and colorful, adding new meaning to recycling.
At one of the entrances, Chad stopped and knocked. How did he know which door he wanted? They all looked alike. Perhaps he recognized it from the can of spinach above the doorknob. She almost giggled at the thought. A few doors away dogs started to bark.
A light went on. The door opened enough to allow them to slip inside. Zoe stayed behind Chad, not sure what to say, if anything at all. A Vietnamese man, whose age would be anyone’s guess, came forward. “I’m Tahn. Sgt. Jack say you come.”
Chad shook the man’s hand. “Have you got the Jeep? And maps?”
“Jeep not far away. First, you come with me.”
The two men left the room through a door on the far wall. Zoe whirled around when someone touched her arm and met the eyes of a young, doe-eyed woman. “Tea?”
Zoe smiled. “Yes, thank you.”
The woman waved her to the table. Zoe sat down and accepted the minute cup handed to her. Steam curled upwards, releasing the sweet scent of green tea. Zoe sipped the tea while she glanced around the shadows of the tiny room. Sparsely furnished, the single room served as a combination kitchen and living room and den.
Her mouth watered at the smell of food that preceded her host, who’d returned to place two more dishes on table. “Rice and pho. You eat. It good.”
Having had nothing to eat for longer than she could remember, Zoe grabbed the chop sticks and wolfed down the rice. She ate the noodles and bits of meat from the pho, a type of soup, before picking up the dish and drinking the broth. Probably wasn’t the proper way to eat it, but at this point, she wasn’t too concerned with manners.
“This is very good.” Zoe smiled at the woman seated opposite her.
Now that her stomach was full, she wondered exactly what type of meat she’d eaten. Bile rose in her throat, but she swallowed it and concentrated on the tea.
“We do anything for Sgt. Jack,” the woman offered, a smile lighting her face.
Sgt. Jack. That must be Chad’s friend. The one helping them to escape. The word escape brought a chill to her overheated skin. She and Chad were on the run in a foreign country. Not only a foreign country—a communist country.
A small hand extended across the table. “I’m Bi’hn.”
Bi’hn raised her hand and stroked Zoe’s hair. Her face seemed sad, almost as if someone had died. “So pretty.” Bi’hn picked up the scissors next to her plate.
“I don’t understand—” Zoe broke off when Chad returned to the room.
“Chad, I…” She trailed off and took a box he held out to her. A picture was worth a thousand words. Even though the instructions were in Vietnamese, she didn’t need a translator to know she held a box of black hair dye. Her gaze flew to his face.
“It’ll make for safer traveling.”
Zoe dropped her gaze and nodded. Bi’hn touched her arm. Sighing, Zoe followed her to do the deed.
Missing in Action is a story near and dear to my heart. Do you have memories of this turbulent time in history or stories of soldiers bravely defending out country today? I’d love to hear them.
Thanks so much for having me Nina.
Glad to have you Pam! To find out more information about Pam’s books, please visit her website or follow her updates on facebook. And don’t forget to download Missing in Action!