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2012-05-04

  01:34:02 pm, by

Dark Love - Now Available!

 

A new edition of my paranormal short, Dark Love, is now available from Smashwords and Amazon.com.

Dark Love is the story of Carena Wilder, a new homeowner who finds a handsome and sexy vampire living in a hidden room.

Below is an excerpt. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Blurb:


Carena Wilder is delighted to finally have her own home, even if the power of sale property needs a fair bit of work. She’s less happy with her purchase when she finds a vampire living in a hidden library room.

Kalan Marx has had the worst date of his life. He wakes up on the beach with no idea how he came to be there or what happened to the mysterious woman he picked up in a bar. He returns home to find out his house has been sold in his absence to the lovely Carena Wilder.

While they work out the logistics of their joint ownership of the property Carena and Kalan find themselves falling in love. Until Kalan realizes he’s become the target of an over-zealous vampire hunter.

 

Excerpt from Dark Love:


Carena had been having the strangest dream.  She'd awakened in the bed in the old house she'd bought.  A terrible storm had shaken the night.  Then she'd heard the creak on the downstairs floor.  And that's when the dream had changed ...

Red soaked her mind.  Red shadows, red lightning etching the walls, crimson liquid running across the kitchen floor.  She should be afraid, she thought, desperately afraid.  Strangely, she wasn't.

She floated on that red tide, weightlessly.  Conscious thought seemed impossible to hang on to.  Dizzying waves of desire spiraled through her.  Strong arms enveloped her, holding her up, which was good because her knees had long ago given way.  It became impossible to think beyond the curtain of red across her vision.  Valiantly, she tried to pull back that drapery to gaze beyond at the being who held her, but awareness drifted away from her until the red became black and she remembered no more.

Consciousness came back to her with a jolt and a gasp.  She reached out a hand, finding warm leather beneath her questing fingers.  She cracked an eyelid.  Darkness.  Well, not quite, she could make out the colors in the spines of the volumes on the bookshelf on the other side of the room, see the weave in the carpet beneath the couch.  Someone had covered her with a blanket, even though the air felt hot and muggy.  She didn't recognize the room, she thought with a start, sitting up quickly.

The blanket fell to the floor.  And then she realized why she'd been covered with a blanket.  Her robe was gone along with the ratty t-shirt she usually wore to bed.  She reached for the blanket and hastily covered herself.

Something moved in the shadows on the far side of the room.  She caught a glimpse of a solid-looking oak desk and an old wooden chair on wheels.  But it was the man sitting at the desk, watching her carefully that absorbed her attention.

"Hey," he said, the way you might if you met a friend on the street.  It made him sound younger than she'd expected.  It made him sound like anything but the kind of monster who might ....

Might what, her mind inquired?  She searched her memory for the answers and drew a blank.  All she could remember was red.

2012-03-30

  03:22:37 pm, by

Now Available: Hot, Hot, Hot!

 

 

A new edition of my paranormal short, Hot, Hot, Hot! is now available from Amazon.com and Smashwords.

Hot, Hot, Hot! is the story of an untrained clairvoyant who must team up with a supernatural cop to solve a string of pyrokinetic murders. Crystal Addison was my first supernatural investigator and she was a lot of fun to work with.

Here is an excerpt from Hot, Hot, Hot! Hope you enjoy it!

 

Blurb:


Crystal Addison has a special talent: the ability to sense the paranormal. The police call her to the scene of an unusual crime. A man has been burned to death in his own apartment and the carpeting beneath him hasn’t even been singed.


Crystal suspects someone with pyrokinetic powers is involved. As she’s leaving the scene, she notices a strange glittering in the air. Following it leads her to handsome, supernatural cop, Razael. How can she resist a man who can literally set her passions aflame?


Before they can solve the murder, another occurs, this one more gruesome than the last. Pyrokinetic crimes are happening all over the city. Will their combined powers be enough to solve them?


Excerpt from Hot, Hot, Hot!:


And then I saw it.  A flash, a snap like static electricity.  The air between me and the building shimmered in the fading light like heat rising from the tarmac on a hot day.  Only the evening wasn’t particularly warm.  I felt every hair on my body snap to attention as the air rippled, then it was gone.

No, I realized staring down the driveway at the busy street beyond, it was moving.  I jumped into my car and gunned the engine.  The little car squealed as I rapidly changed gears and charged into traffic.  Up ahead, I saw that watery-looking air and followed.  Whatever it was, it moved quickly along the sidewalk.  Like something—no someone running.

The glitter above the sidewalk stopped suddenly.  Then it seemed to fold into itself and twist into nothing.  For a moment I thought I’d lost it, that I’d been a fool not to take the opportunity to get a head start on that good night’s sleep, and then I saw that tell-tale ripple in the atmosphere fading off down an alleyway.

Twisting the steering wheel, I maneuvered out from between two cars and made a sharp right turn.  The small car just fit between the walls of the buildings and the bags of garbage stacked against the walls.  Now I was going to have to pay for a car wash as well, I thought darkly.  The alleyway ended at what looked like a dead end.  I slammed my hand against the steering wheel in frustration.  But then I looked to the right and noticed a narrow wrought iron gate that led to a courtyard which backed onto two buildings set at right angles.

And heading for the back door of one of those buildings was that strangely glittering shape.

I leaped from the car.  The wrought iron fence wasn’t really made to keep anyone out and I jumped it easily.  “Wait!” I yelled, holding up my hands in the universal sign of surrender.  “I just want to talk.”

For an instant that glitter just hung in the air.  Then with another snap like lightning hitting, it changed.

It started at the ground.  Where there’d only been what looked like rippling air, suddenly there were a pair of sneakers, then a pair of faded denims hugging a pair of muscular legs.  The rest of those jeans filled out nicely, I couldn’t help noticing.  Heck, I’m only human.  Above the denims grew a black cotton t-shirt stretched over a fine-looking chest.  This guy, whoever, whatever he was, spent some time at the gym.  A nice pair of shoulders topped that chest.  I caught a glimpse of sandy blond hair, full lips and a straight nose.  But it was the eyes that stopped me cold.  Amber, like no human eyes should be, they reflected the light from the street like a cat’s.  He blinked and they faded to a more normal-looking light brown.  He stared at me like a trapped animal, cautious, but likely as curious about me as I was about him.

“Look, I’m not a cop or anything,” I said.  Oh, now that was smooth.

“What are you, then?” he asked.  He had a voice like honey.  I’d listen to him read his laundry list quite happily.

“Consultant,” I told him.

“No, I meant, what are you?”

2012-03-01

  10:50:01 am, by

Avenging Angel - Now Available!

 

 

 

I'm so excited to announce that my fantasy/paranormal romance Avenging Angel is now available from Ellora's Cave Blush!

The genesis for Avenging Angel began with a dream I had in which technicians were dispatching dreams from an air traffic control tower. That idea grew into a world that included angels who not only looked after dreams, but souls as well. It was great fun inventing that universe with all its mythology and gadgets. I hope you enjoy it too!

 

Avenging Angel Blurb:

“I never should have gone to The Purgatory Bar. That’s what started it all.”

Having worked her way through the Heavenly ranks, Porsche’s recently been promoted to Guardian Angel—and if she’d known what trouble lay ahead, she would have stayed in Dream Central.

She’s lost a soul. Well…not lost, per se. Technically it was snatched by a demon, but on Porsche’s watch. With mankind’s faith at an all-time low and Lucifer making a move to buy controlling interest in Heaven Inc., this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Porsche’s determined to battle every succubi, satyr and she-devil in Hades—and possibly a traitor in Heaven—if that’s what it takes to get Alex Chalmers’ soul back.

And if the handsome human wishes to thank her…there has to be some perk to the job.



Publisher’s Note: This story was previously published elsewhere under the title Guardian Angel and has been revised for Ellora’s Cave.

 

Excerpt from Avenging Angel:

When I reported for duty to watch over my roster of sleeping souls, I was even more strung out than I’d been the night before. As supervisor, I commanded the master control suite, a darkened room with rows of monitors occupying the walls. I sat down at the console and looked over the previous shift’s reports. Mercifully, tonight was quiet. Perhaps The Big Guy’d had a change of heart.

I followed protocol and checked the master log against the screens that showed our peacefully sleeping clients. All souls present and accounted for, and no demons afoot.

Having only been on the job a few weeks, I hadn’t had time to acquaint myself with all my charges. One caught my eye almost immediately. “Alex Chalmers”, the log read. I indulged myself with a peek. After all, I had to stay awake somehow.

Sprawled across a king-sized bed, covers in disarray, Chalmers made quite the picture. I reached for the joystick and zoomed in for a closer look.

Dark curls tousled from sleep contrasted against white sheets. Black eyelashes rested against tanned cheeks. He must have been dreaming something pleasant, because his full lips quirked in a half-smile. There was nothing innocent about that mouth. I thought of the things a man could do with a mouth like that and blushed. Guardian Angels aren’t supposed to have lusty thoughts about our charges. If the boss caught me peeking, there’d literally be hell to pay.

Chalmers moved in his sleep, exposing a muscular chest that nearly stopped my breath.

“Research,” I said. My story, and I’d stick to it. I was newly assigned. It only made sense that I’d need to familiarize myself with my subjects. Just then, Chalmers muttered to himself and turned over, burying his head in the pillows.

“Damnation,” I whispered. And sincerely hoped that wasn’t divine intervention.

Exhaustion caught up with me. I glanced again at the wall of monitors and yawned. Angels might be stronger and faster than humans but we still need to rest. I hadn’t had much sleep lately. I was on my third coffee and I still couldn’t will my eyelids to remain open. Finally, I rested my feet against the console and closed my eyes.

Just for a minute, I promised myself.

The persistent shrill ringing of the alarm jarred me from Dreamland.

I sat up, knocking over the coffee at my elbow. Brown liquid poured across the console into the delicate equipment.

The intercom beeped. I gave up hoping for mercy.

“Master Control.” I tried to sound official, and awake.

“Damnation, Winter, you asleep in there?”

I winced. Uriel was my supervisor, right up there next to Gabriel himself. “I’d love to talk, Boss, but I’ve got an alarm going off here—”

“I know about the alarm, you fool. You’ve got a lost soul in sector fifteen.”

“Sector fifteen.” I punched in the coordinates. “I’m on it.”

“You should have been on it five minutes ago. You’re supposed to be watching these things.”

Swiveling my chair away from the pool of coffee dripping down the side of the console, I cast around for something to mop up the spreading puddle before it damaged anything else. My fingers grasped the thick, fan-folded log. Figuring one more transgression couldn’t possibly make things worse, I dumped it in the middle of the mess.

Somewhere in sector fifteen, a disembodied soul was adrift.

“Get in there and fix it!” the boss screamed into the intercom.

“Right, Boss.”

“And, Winter—”

“Yes, Boss?”

“I’m sending Jarrett with you.”

Coffee and hangover made a sickening cocktail in my stomach. Not Jarrett. Anyone but Jarrett. It didn’t help that I knew Uriel was testing both me and Jarrett, trying to determine if Jarrett really could do my job better.

The boss’s tone certainly didn’t encourage discussion. I felt the prickling of a locator beam on send.

“Hell,” I said, as the floor dropped out beneath me, and hoped the boss hadn’t heard.

* * * * *

We found our charge on the floor of his bedroom, still clutching the sweat-soaked sheets he’d dragged with him in his fall. Though his lungs labored to draw breath to scream, he managed only a whimper.

I took a closer look and groaned. Alex Chalmers. Guilt tugged at my conscience. Had I inadvertently drawn attention to him?

I’d come dressed for battle. The holster at my hip held a discourager—think Taser on steroids. A GPS-type device called a locator was clipped to my belt. A locator did more than just find things and give directions. It had a whole set of nifty capabilities, such as allowing us to change planes of existence, move things around and snag people in its beam. Jarrett carried an interceptor in a sling across his back to retrieve Chalmers’ soul.

“Demon for sure,” I said, drawing my discourager.

“Looks that way.”

I could feel Jarrett’s piercing gaze inventorying the dark circles under my eyes, the flight suit that already looked as if I’d slept in it. He might glory in my mistakes but spending the night as my assistant had certainly not been in his plans. I noted he was a shade paler himself. Shouldn’t have gone to Purgatory. I shook my head.

It was going to be a very long night.

Cautiously, I stalked the perimeter of the room, discourager ready should any demons come leaping out of the shadows. I reached for my locator with my left hand, pointed it at the bed and pressed the green sample button on the handle. Readings on the palm-sized computer showed high levels of paranormal activity. Red lights bounced off the walls, and the button blinked, signaling that it was processing information. The tiny screen on the top of the handle read as I feared. Demon.

The display dissolved and flashed another message. Souls present, two. Jarrett’s and mine. The fiend had made its getaway and taken the soul with it.

Squatting by the bed, I examined our subject. Having your soul ripped from your body leaves no outward scars. These days few people pay any attention to body, soul or spirit. Likely only the devout would notice the loss.

Experience told me that this Alex Chalmers was substantially different from the one I’d spied on a short time ago. The aura of innocence had vanished. Not that he wasn’t still appealing.

Our semiconscious subject obviously devoted a good deal of time to his body. One glance revealed a physique honed to peak condition. Bare arms and chest rippled with muscle. I pulled up his blurb from the locator’s database. The profile named him Alexander Alan Chalmers, thirty-one, stockbroker. He didn’t look like the kind of guy who belonged in a suit and tie.

Tousled dark hair covered part of his face but did nothing to hide those tempting lips. With a pang of guilt, I wrenched my mind back to the task at hand. Scandalous thoughts were unbefitting an angel. But I’d have to be dead not to notice a body like that.

I cleared my throat. “Netherworld’s on to him already.”

At the sound of my voice, Chalmers opened his eyes, gaped at us and screamed for real.

I pointed the discourager between his eyeballs and fired. He lapsed back into Dreamland and was silent.

Jarrett grinned. “Sure is entertaining when you screw up, Winter.”

When Jarrett found something funny, it was usually at someone else’s expense. “Go to Hell, Jarrett,” I snapped.

“That’s probably where you’ll end up. I hear they’re short of help in Hell. But after this, you’ll be lucky if they’ll look at your résumé.”

Jarrett’s not-so-good-natured teasing didn’t improve my mood. “Just help me get him back on the bed,” I said, and ground my jaw shut.

The subject was heavy, a good one hundred and eighty pounds of solid muscle, built up on the weight bench in the corner of the bedroom. Glowering at Jarrett, I put my shoulder under Chalmers and heaved.

His eyes flickered once. Deep-brown eyes, I noted, then looked away. We weren’t supposed to notice things like that. Especially with my “buddy” Jarrett along for the ride.

“Now,” I said, “we’ve got to find his soul.”

“Oh no.” Jarrett held up his hands in protest. “I’m not going wading through the Netherworld because you screwed up. The boss said help you, not do your job.”

Wouldn’t want to do anything you didn’t have to, would you, Jarrett?

“This arguing is useless,” I said. “There’s a soul getting away on us. We have to go after it now if we want to have it back in Chalmers’ body before morning. If we wait, we’ll have to search Hell itself.” Jarrett swallowed nervously but didn’t look convinced. “If you can stand the loss of someone’s soul on your conscience, that’s fine. I’ll do it myself.”

He glared at me for calling his bluff. “All right,” he said, turning away. “But you owe me for this one, Porsche.”

Being in Jarrett’s debt was hardly an optimal situation but I was quickly running out of options, so I frowned and said, “Just let me secure the room.”

Using the discourager’s invisible beam, I set up boundaries against further demon intrusion. I stalked the perimeter, stringing lines of protection around ceiling, floor, the windowsill and the doorframe.

“There,” I said finally, stepping back to admire my handiwork. “That ought to hold it until morning.”

Jarrett was poking around in the muscle mags on the night table.

“Whenever you’re ready, Jarrett.”

Caught prying, he looked up, embarrassed. Score one point for me, I thought, and dragged him after me into the Netherworld by the locator’s beam.

Diving into the Netherworld was like tumbling headfirst into a stagnant pond. No one in their right mind would do it if they didn’t have to. Body and soul recoiled from the wisps of clinging fog that chilled me instantly to the bone.

To journey from Heaven into Hell, you must pass through the Netherworld. A plot of territory so unpleasant it’s worked its way into mythology under several erroneous names. Call it Limbo or whatever you like, it’s just plain miserable. The terrain is constantly changing and obscured by curtains of drifting fog. Easy enough to see how a soul could wander forever in its eternal twilight. Not even an experienced angel would travel the Netherworld without a locator.

I plunged into the darkness with Jarrett, my conscience nagging a persistent monologue. Due to my error, poor Chalmers was about to start his first day without his soul. My paranoid mind sorted through the numerous ways a soulless stockbroker could go astray. From all angles, it came up trouble.

Trouble for sure, no doubt of that. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had Wynn Jarrett as witness to the one and only, albeit serious, mistake of my career. I had to fix it. Fast.

In the darkness, the locator beeped reassuringly. The demon couldn’t be too far away if we were still able to track the soul.

Fog cloaked us on all sides, drowning out sight and sound. The mist chilled to the bone. This was the absolute worst part of the job, searching around in the gloom, only air beneath your feet and nothing but the red light of the locator to guide you. Stories of guardians gone astray and never found echoed in the recesses of my mind. I fought the terror down to a manageable discomfort and concentrated.

From beyond the boundaries of space and time, a sickly breeze carried aloft the cries of lost souls. Even the distant whisper of those plaintive entreaties was enough to send a chill creeping down my spine.

Like a vast funnel, the Netherworld channels errant souls into its shadowy depths. Legends of this scary territory abound. But the one detail that never made it into myth is that few souls escape. Doomed to wander, their anguished cries echo eternally.

A shuddering crescendo of screaming swept over me. Cringing, I pressed my palms over my ears. Their distress was seductive, especially to those of us trained to protect and heal. Their pitiful cries were like a magnet drawing me closer. I wouldn’t be the first kindhearted guardian to stray into their numbers…forever.

With a stern reminder that they were long beyond my assistance, I kept scanning. That won’t be Chalmers’ fate, I promised myself. You’ll find him in time.

Our world had shrunk to a series of red dots on the locator’s palm-sized grid. I forced the display to take on a 3-D perspective in my imagination, reminding myself that we did indeed exist in space and time, that I had only to push the locator’s red emergency button and I would find myself home in Heaven. Counting, of course, on the luck that a demon wouldn’t find us first.

We zoomed down the Y-axis, following the blips of light.

“Nothing,” Jarrett said, doubtless as anxious to get out of there as I was.

“Switching to X.” I dialed the appropriate knobs. My stomach turned over as we changed planes. Jarrett cursed in the darkness. If it made Wynn Jarrett uncomfortable, perhaps it was worth it.

We zoned in on X and plunged along the axis. Blips became more regular. As if pulled by invisible strings, we glided closer, wisps of fog parting before us like damp curtains. Ahead of us on the locator’s screen, a red light blinked persistently.

“There,” I said, lining up the dots on the grid. Behind me in the gloom, Jarrett grunted in agreement. “Get ready to intercept.”

From behind his back, Jarrett grabbed his megaphone-shaped interceptor and flipped a switch. A low whine rippled through the silence as the interceptor charged, ready to retrieve the lost soul.

“Ready,” Jarrett said.

“On my mark… One, two…” The intervals between the locator’s beeps decreased to a steady tone.

Ahead in the darkness, two green, unblinking eyes glared at us. My imagination filled in the rest of the details—the sinewy body, the double rows of teeth and barbed claws.

Demon. I knew it.

And it had Alex Chalmers’ soul.

2012-02-29

  10:58:47 am, by

Coming Tomorrow - Avenging Angel

 

I'm excited to announce that my paranormal/fantasy romance Avenging Angel is due out tomorrow, March 1st from Ellora's Cave Blush!

Here is the blurb if you'd like to take a sneak peek:

 

Blurb from Avenging Angel:

“I never should have gone to The Purgatory Bar. That’s what started it all.”

Having worked her way through the Heavenly ranks, Porsche’s recently been promoted to Guardian Angel—and if she’d known what trouble lay ahead, she would have stayed in Dream Central.

She’s lost a soul. Well…not lost, per se. Technically it was snatched by a demon, but on Porsche’s watch. With mankind’s faith at an all-time low and Lucifer making a move to buy controlling interest in Heaven Inc., this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Porsche’s determined to battle every succubi, satyr and she-devil in Hades—and possibly a traitor in Heaven—if that’s what it takes to get Alex Chalmers’ soul back.

And if the handsome human wishes to thank her…there has to be some perk to the job.

 

 

2012-02-26

  12:31:32 pm, by

Bio Hazard - Now Available

 

 

 

I'm happy to announce that my horror story Bio Hazard is now available from Smashwords and Amazon.

I've been releasing a few stories from my backlist, some of which haven't been seen in a while. It's an ecclectic mix of horror, science fiction and romance.

Bio Hazard was written while I was working as medical photographer. I have to say that hospitals are some of the most interesting places I've worked!

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Blurb:

A medical photographer discovers a strange, parasitic life force lurking within the hospital. Can she stop it before it kills again?

 

Excerpt from Bio Hazard:

cord button lit up the front of the camera and the deck whirred away reassuringly. Koren leaned back in her chair and rubbed the back of her neck. A flurry of action in the operating room caught her attention.

The patient, who not a second before was doing just fine, had suddenly gone into cardiac arrest. Was it suddenly very cold in the control booth? Or was it just her imagination?

Koren hit the stop button, and ran the tape backward. She stared at the images on the monitor. The operating room, as it had been two minutes ago, the cardiac arrest, the resulting action…no wait…. She hit the jog-shuttle and watched it move backward again in slow motion. The operating room…a curtain of white gauze…yes, there it was. Koren ran the tape frame by frame, examining each image as the video jerked forward.

A filmy white shape passed in front of the camera. Koren paused the tape. In the glare of the lights the white streak materialized into roughly human form. It paused at the head of the operating table. Neither the surgeon nor his attending staff seemed to notice the intrusion. The translucent figure bent over the patient's face, as if in prayer, then vanished. On the tape, another second passed uneventfully.

Suddenly the operating room sprang into action, all hands occupied in an attempt to resuscitate the patient.

Koren looked away from the monitor to the scene in the operating room. The patient was being wheeled away, a sheet over his face.

 

 

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