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Every once in a while, I think most writers probably get these ideas that are just plain fun.  Fun…as in, sitting down to write the book is like jumping on a roller coaster, a quick, wild ride that just never lets up.

GrimmCircleCandy Houses was one of those ideas.  Candy Houses…think dark, bloody fairy tales, set in modern times.  The heroine is like a dark-haired version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer-complete butt kicker.  Hero wears long, flowing sort of coat-the duster type and likes sharp shiny objects.  He’s been mooning after her for a hundred years.  She’s so scarred from her childhood, she copes by keeping people at a distance.  In comes a certain individual who takes steps to force these two together.  I had so much fun writing this one.  I’ve already got ideas spinning for at least three more, and I can’t wait.

But…. I’m a little nervous.  You see, this was my first stab at writing first person.  But it’s not in first person the whole way through.  I need the male’s POV, too.  So it alternates… the heroine’s POV is first person.  Hero’s POV is third.  I think I made the flow smooth enough, but I dunno.  I do hope people like it, because I just plain loved writing this story.

There’s an excerpt at my site, but here’s a different one… from Greta’s POV.

Candy Houses, the first book in the Grimm’s Circle series, comes out in ebook this October.

*

I was pretty sure I hadn’t felt this kind of terror in a long time.

I’m not really afraid of dying. Or at least, normally, I’m not. Remember that “hard to kill” thing I mentioned?

I am hard to kill, but a bocan is strong enough to tear my head from my shoulders, and they are fast. That doesn’t sound like a fun way to go.

They are killing machines. Big, dumb killing machines and I was facing this one totally unprepared. The knife I carried wasn’t long enough to kill the thing unless I was really, really lucky. I’m good, but with these things, being good with a knife isn’t enough.

A sword would be better.

A cannon would be better.

Warily, I backed away, circling around and trying to lead the bocan away from the girl. I didn’t know if she’d be able to see it when she woke up. It depended on how far she’d dipped her toes into the waters of evil and death. I could hope that when she saw it, if she saw it, it might scare her straight, but I’m not really big on hope right now.

Not the way the night was going.

And to think I’d been bored just a few hours ago.

“So how long have you been hanging around this plane?” I asked.

The bocan didn’t speak. Their race didn’t have vocal chords. Other than the sibilant sounds they made when they breathed, they were quiet. They moved quietly, they attacked quietly and they killed quietly. Big, dumb, ugly…and quiet. They ought to be loud—only seemed fair. Something like this breathing death down your neck, there should be some sort of warning.

It cocked its head. The dim light danced over the dull gold scales that covered it from head to toe. Those scales were like armor. It had been a while since I’d faced a bocan…probably two or three hundred years, but I hadn’t forgotten how big they are, how strong they are or how hard they are to kill. At least the last time I’d faced one I’d had a for-real sword.

It came at me, a silent rush of death. At the very last second, I spun out of the way and felt the blast of air as it swiped out at where I’d stood only a heartbeat earlier. The thing’s hands ended in claws that measured close to three inches long.

The skin along the back of my neck prickled as I once more started to circle away from the bocan, weaving around it in nonsensical patterns. It made another rush and this time, instead of moving aside, I went down and sliced upward. Black, bitter blood covered me as I managed to break skin. It shuddered, but I figured out very quickly that while I’d hurt the demon, I hadn’t slowed it down. It slashed out as I scrambled away. Those claws got closer that time.

And then again. This time it caught me. I bit my lip to keep from screaming as the claws managed to get me in the belly, slicing me open. Blood flowed.

Shit—

A hand came out of nowhere and grabbed me, hauling me aside.

Dazed, I fell against the crumbled rock wall at my back and watched. I was in a state of shock, I think. I didn’t recognize the man at first…well, not consciously. My body probably would have, if I hadn’t been losing huge quantities of blood through the gashes in my belly. I whimpered and shrugged out of the blood-soaked jacket I wore and balled it up, pressing it to my wounded stomach.

The flesh was already knitting back together. I could literally feel it, deep, deep inside. It was a bad injury. If I was still wholly human, I’d be dead already. As it was, I was losing a lot of blood. Even us pseudo-immortals get weak when we lose too much blood.

Sinking to the ground, I watched as the man fought the bocan.

He was a lot more equipped to handle the thing than I was, that was for sure. The bocan tried to gut him with those lethal claws but the man moved away, quick as a wish. I saw one hand disappear inside the long coat he wore—something about that coat, the way it stretched over his shoulders, tickled a memory. I wouldn’t look at his face. Thinking about it now, I know why I wouldn’t look, because I knew in my heart who he was, and I needed to prepare myself a little bit more before I actually looked at him.

Instead, I focused on his hands…and on the very awesome weapon he’d drawn from inside that long, black coat. It was a black cylinder, maybe two, two and a half feet long. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t sound too flashy. It would do some serious damage to a human, probably even a number of manifested demons.

But a nine-foot-tall bocan?

Nope. Right up until he twisted it, I wasn’t impressed. But then he twisted it. I heard the whisper of metal as two edged blades appeared, one out either end of the metal cylinder.

Now it was five feet long, and bladed on both ends.

He used it like an artist. He moved like a dancer of death. The silver flashed through the air. His body barely seemed to touch the ground before he was moving off again. Eerie, deadly and oh so lovely to look at. In a rather morbid way, of course.

Black blood stained the metal as he sliced through the bocan’s scales.

The bocan hissed.

The man just laughed. That laugh. I knew that laugh.

Rip…

Just before I passed out, I finally let myself look at him. I found myself staring at his familiar profile. An ache settled in my heart and it followed me as I went under.

*

CandyHouses300

Grimm’s Circle…You think you know fairy tales?  Think again…

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cross posted from my personal blog…

Okay guys…one more excerpt.  The ebook releases today from Samhain~as I mentioned a few days ago, more than likely this will go into print at some point, just not sure when.

Word of warning…this is definitely one of my more erotic romance, however it’s also got some tear-jerker moments.

(more…)

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~*~

Here’s an excerpt…

Her body ached.

It wasn’t anything new. Although Lee was only twenty eight years old, she already felt ancient. Exhausted even upon awakening,with stiff aching joints, and bruises that seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Lee slowly flexed her muscles and tried to hold together the fragile wisps of the dream. But as always, it faded away, out of reach, out of mind. He faded away.

She didn’t know his face. But each night he came to her. Each night, they found each other again. He would look at her with eyes that made her burn and want and wish and for that brief period of time, she felt whole, complete and that sensation lingered with her as she drifted from sleep into awareness, but the minute she opened her eyes, all memory of her dreams started to fade. All that remained was an ache in her chest, a knot inher throat and a body that felt as though somebody had tried to beat her death.

Today, the ache was worse. The memories were fading fast although she tried to hold onto them. Like smoke, though, they faded away even as she grabbed the notepad by her bed and started to scrawl down what little she remembered. She didn’t look down while she wrote—instead she clenched her eyes tightly shut and focused on him. Even if she couldn’t remember his face, she could remember how he made her feel inside. Focusing on that instead of trying to recall the dream made the words flow easier.

Blood. Screams. Smoke. The cries of the wounded. Ugly snarls and fetid breath. People clamored around her and they had needs that she couldn’t even begin to understand. And him—

Always him. Everything seemed to revolve around him and everything inside of her yearned for him. As much as Lee dreaded closing her eyes and facing the weird dreams that assaulted her while she slept, she yearned for them as well. Because her dreams led her to him. He would make her laugh, even when the dreamswere dark as death. There was a warmth in his presence that filled an empty ache.

But not this past night. There had been distance, anger, and disgust. He’d yelled at her. His fury had been so great even now she felt chilled with it.

She opened her eyes and stared at the notepad in front of her. She hadn’t just written words. She’d sketched out faces of people she’d never met and monsters the likes of which she’d never seen.

She stared at each of the faces she’d drawn, studying their features for something that would trigger her memories again. The notebook was filled with sketches and none of them meant anything to her. Allof them set against twisted, scarred landscapes.

Some of them appeared more than others, like the old woman and the two guys. Even on paper, the woman’s smile had a decidedly mischievous bent to it, as though she was laughing and Lee had no idea why. The men were polar opposites, one pale, one dark. One looked like an angel and the other had the devil’s smile. Both of them were enough to make a girl’s heart skip a beat but if the man she dreamed of was one of them, she didn’t know which one he was.

Furious with herself, Lee hurled the pad of paper across the room and watched as it hit the wall. It slid to the ground, several of the pages bent and crumpled. With a scowl, she climbed out of the bed and stalked to the bathroom.

“He isn’t real,” she told herself as she turned the hot water on full before turning to tug off her t-shirt. “He isn’t real.” He’s not, her mind insisted, even though something inside her heart argued.

Her reflection caught her eye and she stilled, fighting the impulse to turn and look. Damn it, she was going to take all the mirrors down. She couldn’t not look, when the mirrors were there.

But every time she saw a bruise, a chill ran through her. It was no different this time. Her eye was black, swollen, raw looking it. It had been fine last night. And today,she looked like she had a bruise that had been healing for days. Her mouth trembled as she tried to make sense of what she was looking at.

The doctors had tried to tell her she was doing it to herself. They had even done a sleepstudy, and watched her all night long to determine what caused the bruising.

The study had revealed nothing. And everything.

For when she walked out of the room where they had monitored her body all night, her ankle was swollen, twisted and discolored. It had been fine the night before.

The tape of the study had shown her laying quietly on the narrow bunk, never once rising in the night. She didn’t toss. She didn’t turn. The only weird thing was a blip in the middle of the tape that lasted no more than a few eye blinks. For that brief span of time, the bed was empty. But she hadn’t gotten out of thebed. The probes and lines weren’t long enough to allow her to leave it without one of the attendants disconnecting them. They hadn’t done it.

Odder still, an attendant had been in the room during theblip. They could see him at the edge ofthe screen. But he’d never seen her move. She hadn’t done any more studies after that. Even though the doctors tried to urge her to agree, it had simply unsettled her too much. So no more studies. She’d just deal with looking like the loser of a boxing match.

Lee leaned forward and probed her eye, touching it gently,wincing at the tender flesh she encountered under her fingers. The eye itself looked fine, which was a relief. There had been one morning when she woke up and her pupil had been blown. Her vision had been blurred and the sickening pain made her think she had a concussion. By nightfall, though, the pupil had returned to normal and her vision was fine.

Today, her eyes seemed a little more bloodshot than usual and the red looked unnaturally bright against the nasty mottled blue. Almost festive, the red, white and blue.

There was another bruise on her knee, like she had fallen down. The flesh was sensitive and each step she took sent pain shooting through her knee. Much as the knee hurt, it was actually a rather light night. Lee knew from experience, though, that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Light nights seemed to be followed by bad ones.

Her gut churned as that thought circled through her head. Bad ones came with concussions,broken bones—even burns. It had been awhile since she’d had a real bad night and it was like a little mental clock was ticking away the time. It wouldn’t be much longer before she woke up one morning hurt so bad that she’d wish for death, just to get away from the pain.

Even if she did heal fast, pain was still pain and she was tired of feeling so much of it.

“Morbid, much?” she muttered as she turned away from her reflection. She climbed into the shower with one goal in mind. Shower…then caffeine. With caffeine, she could face almost anything.

* * * * *

Through the Veil, Kalen could see her. Stubborn little bitch. He could still just faintly smell the sweet scent of her skin and his hands still itched to feel that satiny skin under his hands, to feel the silk of her hair brush against his body. The vivid bruise on her face infuriated him,even though her rapid ability to heal was already lessening the vivid color and the swelling.

The demon that had attacked her was dead. Dust in the wind. Not that Kalen had anything to do with it. Lee had taken damn good care of it herself. She was good at that. Always had been. Scowling, he wondered if maybe she was a little too good at it. Good at taking care of herself, good at rationalizing away problems, good at everything.

Clenching his jaw, he turned away from the Veil and prepared himself to face the coming day without her. It was a frightening thought. But it always had been. One never knew what the day might bring. Not in this world.

There had been another demon attack, this time high up in the mountains, striking the small settlement of families living there. They had refused to come down into the valley. Too close to the Roinan Gate. It was as if they thought a few miles would protect them. They had been wrong, terribly wrong and Kalen had to live with the guilt of not trying harder.

Raviners had killed the few men and taken their time with the women and children. It brought back memories too ugly for him to dwell on, staring at the their remains. He couldn’t even take a little bit of comfort in knowing that his men had slaughtered the Raviners. If he had taken them down himself, filling their bodies with the dangerous power of the pulsar he carried at his hip, it wouldn’t have been any comfort.

They were losing a little more ground every day. The demons were breeding in his world now and they didn’t just have to wait for the Roinan Gate to open for more of their numbers. There had been a time when finding a clutch of demons had been a rare occurrence and they were killed quickly, if not always easily.

They might have a ghost of a chance if they could shut down the fucking Gate.

Order

You can read a Dear Reader letter & a nice long excerpt here at Berkley’s site.

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It’s a hodge-podge sort of day.

I’m getting ready for the release of Through the Veil, setting up contests. guest blogs, interviews and other forms of madness. I also had some ebooks out in May-so weirdness there, and an excerpt below.

So far, I’ve got several different ‘stops’ planned on a little whirlwind virtual book tour I’m doing. They include….

Yes. All of this was very, very last minute. *G* My specialty. You can find me at these places if you really want to spend time in my weird presence. 😉 And it’s possible there are a couple of others. But my brain has gone to mush. Two ebooks out this month, the baby bratlet turns two next month, a release next month, finishing up two books and a novella this month, not to mention school lets out, something going on family-wise (no emergency, but still….)

Oye. I’ll be surprised if I’m even coherent.

Anyway. Onto the Excerpts!

PhotobucketHunter’s Edge

Some love can last a lifetime—their love was destined to last longer.

Angel’s first words to Kel were I’m going to marry you. She was seven at the time. He was eight. And he didn’t laugh when she spoke the words.

Best friends as children, lovers as young adults, they had an unexplainable bond. Their future looked set. Until the night they were attacked by a creature that couldn’t exist.

Angel survived the attack—barely. But Kel didn’t. Or at least, nobody thought he did. His body was never found and Angel’s life would never be the same.

The attack might not have killed Kel’s body, but it sure as hell killed his heart. Twelve years later, there’s one part of his former life that he can’t move past. Angel. He can’t let her go, but he can’t have her either. She doesn’t even realize he is still alive.

But when a threat surfaces, Kel’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect Angel. Even if it drives them both to the edge of insanity and back.

Warning: Some violence. Some sex. Some bloody violence. Even a little bit of bloody sex. Not all of the sex is between the hero and the heroine, even though every time that happens, the hero closes his eyes and thinks of England Angel. Not exactly a traditional romance, but I promise it does end HEA.

–>Buy

Excerpt

Kel felt something moving in there.

Something living and hungry…

His skin crawled.

Foreboding choked him.

The scent of blood and pain colored the air around him in vivid, dark shades. The scent of blood didn’t call to him at all, the stink of fear and pain drowning out what might have once been appealing.

Under the sour, bitter stench of violence, there was something disturbingly, distressingly familiar. It tickled his memory until Kel had no choice but to work past the abhorrence and make himself focus, make himself drag in a deep breath of the fear-tainted blood.

He went cold and for just the briefest of moments, he couldn’t move. Denial wrapped itself around him, followed by some futile hope he wouldn’t even allow himself to cling to. Hope was such a bitter, ugly disappointment.

Instinct took over, instinct that hadn’t existed until twelve years ago. It wasn’t just the instincts of a vampire-the fear coming from that place was enough to have the typical civilian vamp backing away damn quick. Definitely not vamp instinct-it was the instinct of a Hunter and while he’d do damn near anything not to have it, ignoring it hadn’t ever been an option.

It pushed him into action. Without consciously realizing it, he slid into the shadows and cloaked himself within them. He pulled the darkness around him and used its cover as he made his way inside the warehouse.He heard a broken, tortured moan. It was a pitiful, faint sound and as it faded into the air, there was a laugh-icy and amused, so damn evil it made Kel’s skin crawl. The part of his brain that wasn’t controlled by instinct was screaming to get the hell away.

That kind of evil wasn’t anything he wanted to look at, anything he wanted to face, anything he wanted to fight.

A fucking failure, that was Kel. Hunter instincts, Hunter drive, and he still didn’t want this fight. But he didn’t turn around. He didn’t leave. There was no way he could, even when he heard her heartbeat falter, heard the rattle of her breath. It was the sound of death edging closer and Kel could even feel the chill of it looming near.

A man’s voice broke into the silence, underlined by a dry edge of humor. “I told you that it was pointless to fight, darling girl. And yet…still you fight. Why is that? Unless it’s to amuse me.”

Kel’s lips peeled back from his teeth as he heard a familiar sound, a wet thwack as a fist struck flesh. The only sound she made was a distant, almost non-existent moan. He emerged from the shadows just as the feral bent down and fisted a hand in her hair.

“Let her go,” he said in a flat voice. As he spoke, he also released his control on the shadows, an illusory talent some vampires had. It was all a trick of the mind, but it came in handy-muffled his presence, could cause an aversive effect where people avoided something without even realizing why.

And apparently, it worked on this one, because when his brown eyes cut towards Kel’s, there was surprise in his gaze. His eyes widened and the faint, bored smile on his lips widened. Dropping his victim to the ground, he stepped over her…like she was so much garbage. Something about the feral’s features, the way he moved, was disturbingly familiar but Kel didn’t know where he had seen this guy before. Hunters didn’t let ferals live-if this was one Kel had fought and not killed, then Rafe would have sent another Hunter to do the job.

But he’d seen him before-

No time to worry about the past though, because the present was bearing down on him, hard and fast. Kel wasn’t about to go hand-to-hand with a vampire that probably had a good century on him. Shit, if he’d known he was going to be dealing with a feral this strong, he would have enlisted help.

For vampires, strength came with age and in relative terms, Kel was just a baby compared to this fuck. As the feral circled around him, something about the man’s moves, something about that ugly sneer on his face, kept tickling at Kel’s memory.

“A bit young to be out here trying to tangle with me, aren’t you, boy?”

He slid a hand inside his shirt and closed it around the Beretta. Drawing it, he leveled it at the feral’s brow and smiled. “I’ll manage.”

The feral paused, cocked his head as he peered at Kel. Something flashed in those brown eyes, curiosity. “Hmmmm…You’re a cocky one, aren’t you, boy?”

“Yeah, I keep hearing that.”

“The Council really should be more careful.”

Something cold slivered through the air. The temperature seemed to drop twenty degrees. But it didn’t affect Kel. The fear that might have had some sway over him was one Kel had been trained to resist. As the temperature dropped and fear rolled through the room like a river, all Kel did was tighten his finger on the trigger.The feral lunged to the side. Kel moved with him and when the vamp tried to circle around behind him, Kel echoed his moves.

Deja vu…

I’ve done this before, he thought.

The feral across from him stilled, narrowed his eyes as he peered at Kel. Something measuring…

They both figured it out at the same time.

Releasing 5.20

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Hunter’s Edge

I’m feeling lazy today. It’s Spring Break, I’ve had edits, I’m working on two books, and there’s a third whispering to me, so instead of thinking up a blog post, I’m taking the easy way out and posting an excerpt from my upcoming Samhain book, Hunter’s Edge. Releases in ebook in May.

 

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How fricking classic-a vampire sleeping the day away in a cemetery.

If he’d had much choice, he would have tried to find someplace else, but choices were limited. The trucker had left him just outside Greenburg a little before dawn and with the clock ticking, Kel went for the first secure place that he came across.

Instinct drove him to get closer to Angel, but he hadn’t known where to look. As dawn crept closer, he had to focus on finding someplace dark and solitary. The private mausoleums in the old Greenburg Cemetery definitely fit that description.

He’d banked on being able to get into one of the older ones that didn’t get visits often and he’d been right. The one he’d selected had none of the stained glass windows and a recessed doorway.

Inside, with the door closed, it had been as dark as a tomb, just the thinnest sliver of pre-dawn light visible under the door itself.

As sweet, safe darkness wrapped around him, it took everything he had just to stumble away from the door and get one of the freestanding vaults inside the crypt between him and the door as an extra precaution.

Kel didn’t even remember getting horizontal. As enraged and scared and worried as he was, he’d thought sleep would elude him but it didn’t, hitting him hard and fast.

Normally Kel only needed four or five hours of sleep, but by the time he came awake a little before dusk, he’d been out for probably twelve hours.

The setting sun had kept him prisoner within the small crypt for a while longer. He shrugged out of his jacket long enough to pull on a T-shirt that he’d ‘borrowed’ from the trucker earlier. Killed a bit of time pacing endlessly up and down the stone floor.

Finally the sun set. His body recognized the moment it was safe. He slipped out of the musty, confining crypt with the sure and certain knowledge that he was glad his body wasn’t going to end up in some quiet, private resting place for all eternity. When he did die, he’d be burned and that suited him just fine.

Outside in the cool night air, he lifted his head and breathed in, letting the air wash over and through him, sweeping away the stink of decay.

The sound of a truck moving over the road had him retreating and swearing. It wasn’t that late yet, probably only around seven and he sure as hell didn’t need anybody seeing him here. Greenburg was a small town and Kel knew for a fact his face hadn’t changed a bit since he’d lived here.

He slipped into the tree line, his mind focused on finding Angel. But something, he couldn’t even explain what, stopped him. Physically stopped him. He couldn’t take another step away and everything inside him urged him to turn around. Unable to deny it, he turned and his eyes sought out the truck creeping along one of the cemetery paths.

It was a beat-up old Ford and even with his eyesight, he couldn’t quite see through the windows. But he knew.

Somewhere inside him, without even seeing her, he knew. He slipped forward, just where the trees gave way to grass and there, he crouched, one hand resting on the trunk of the tree, the other clutching the ring at his neck.

Hiding in the shadows, he watched, spellbound, as the truck came to a stop and the door opened. There was a fist wrapped around his throat, around his heart, and it wasn’t going to ease up any time soon.

It was her.

Angel.

~*~*~

Shi

http://shilohwalker.com 

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markvamp.jpgHer romances aren’t for the faint of heart. Just a word of warning. 😉 But man oh man, can she tell a romance. Joey Hill is guestblogging today and one of the commenters will get a signed copy of either The Vampire Queen’s Servant or The Mark of the Vampire Queen.

Entering is easy…just comment or ask a question. From those who participate, their name will go into the drawing one time and I’ll draw one winner’s name…reader gets their choice of the two offered prizes.

Below is the blurb for Joey’s latest, The Mark of the Vampire Queen

When he becomes Lady Lyssa’s full servant, Jacob crosses the threshold into a darker relationship with her than he’s known before. His time as a vampire hunter certainly hadn’t prepared him to embrace a world where humans are sexual commodities, but he adapted. Now he finds the integrity of his soul challenged as he serves his Mistress’s needs as fully as he services her desires.
 
The vampire world believes human servants are inferior, a vital source for their varying appetites. Jacob knows a human servant is far more than that. His Mistress needs a warrior, a friend and a lover. A man who will serve her in all ways, even if he has to betray the priceless treasure of her love.

And now, onto to Joey’s guest blog…

A ROMANCE PLOT ISN’T A STRAIGHT LINE 

At the moment, “Let it Whip” is bouncing around in the empty space between my ears, with the result that my body is bouncing with it. Fortunately, that image of erratically jumping notes gave me the idea for a blog topic. Plot and romance. Or rather, plot and love stories. Romance is a catchier marketing term, but if we do our job right, we’re writing love stories. A love story is a relationship. And the relationship has a beginning, or development phase, which evolves into a spiraling seesaw of learning about one another and ever-deepening feelings. At some point, two beings make that final step toward true commitment, willing to spend a life on that spiraling seesaw together.  

When you write most genres, there’s a straight line between plot point A to plot point Z. Some deviation, certainly, but not a lot of latitude for it. However, a relationship isn’t a straight line, and that’s why I love writing love stories. I’m going to credit Nora Roberts for this. As I lost patience with the “misunderstanding” romance–where the characters never really get to know or enjoy one another until the very end–I discovered Mrs. Roberts. In her books, while the characters usually did have some significant emotional roadblock, there were a plethora of scenes devoted primarily to them falling in love, in the myriad ways we all fall in love – with romantic and fun memories, some painful ones, as well as turning points and revelations about ourselves and the other person. Until finally, their separate lives slowly align, and they walk hand-in-hand right past The End, toward the next book of their lives, committed to one another.  

Reaching that alignment is the plot, but an author can follow it like a toddler let loose with a crayon. You can even leave the paper entirely and come back to it, so your characters can explore the waterfall they’ve found along a deer trail, attend the carnival that’s come to town or decide to take a spontaneous overnight drive through the desert and wake up to a brilliant sunset over the ocean, while lying on the hood of the car and sharing the last lukewarm soda.  

My latest book, Mark of the Vampire Queen, is the sequel to Vampire Queen’s Servant. Initially it was one book, but since it was paranormal and did have a fairly complicated plot related to vampire society, it grew to encompass two books. That’s because it doesn’t matter if there are a greater number of outside factors impacting the relationship, the romance can’t be sacrificed. There has to be sufficient room for it to remain the main story. So Jacob deals with a complex world of vampire politics that force him into the role of a sexual submissive, challenging his ability to protect his lady in the way he knows he must. And Lyssa walks a dangerous tightrope to safeguard the territory and vampires under her protection. But while all that is going on, their relationship evolves. They are given time to find their love, not just through the trials, but through leisure time. For example, here’s a little snippet, where Jacob, tuning up Lyssa’s Mercedes, has been trying to extract a kitten hiding in the undercarriage… 

      “What are you doing under there?”

      Speak of the devil. Or perhaps—at least for the moment—an angel. Tilting his head, Jacob saw a pair of pretty bare feet planted on either side of his left leg. At the same moment, his fingers brushed his goal. An unhappy mewl greeted his triumph.

      “Come here, little mite. Sshh…it’s okay.” He managed to hold onto the squirming thing, only because it was too young to be strong, and the mouth too tiny to do any damage. “Can you tell Bran to go sit a few feet away, my lady?”

      She bade the dog move back and he heard the dog chuff, pad away as Jacob wriggled out from beneath, holding the tiny kitten to his chest to keep it from streaking away.

      “How on earth did that get here?”

      “Without the dogs eating her, on top of that. She’s not more than about eight weeks old. Mother probably got hit by a car and the kittens scattered.”

      As he came out, his lady changed her stance so she was straddling his waist, standing above him, her brow raised. She was holding her strappy high-heeled sandals in one hand and wore a tailored suit with a short skirt, suggesting she was heading out on one of her business errands.

      Now she stepped to his side so she could squat beside him.

      *Now see, you little rat, if not for you I could have run my hands up those beautiful legs and…*

      “Think again.” His vampire mistress picked up his thoughts easily enough. “Not with that grease all over you.” Reaching out, she touched the kitten with a finger. The animal was cowering under the cup of his hands, quivering so she appeared to be a faceless ball of matted, oily fur. “Oh, goodness, what are we going to do with you? The dogs won’t tolerate you, that’s for certain.”

      “I thought I could take her over to Elijah’s. He’s had to take his grandson in. Even if his son or the kid’s mother comes back to get him, he could likely use some company.”

      Lyssa raised a brow. “You’ve been male bonding.”

      Jacob gave a mock shudder. “You make it sound so sordid.”

      Smiling, she came down to him, catching his lips in a kiss, stroking her fingers through his hair. “How do you know it’s a she?”

      Too late, he couldn’t cover the thought that came into his mind. With a smothered laugh, she gave him a sharp nip.

      “Men tend to be pains in the ass, too, Jacob. Quite frequently. In fact, they’re probably the main reason women don’t always have a sweet disposition.”

      “I bow to your great wisdom, my lady.”

      “Only because you know I could stomp on your groin with my heel.”

      “There’s that sweet disposition showing itself now.”

       He grunted as she drew blood this time, but the tip of her tongue flicked at it, took it off his lip, her green eyes meeting his, glowing with sensual intent. His body stirred. If he hadn’t spent so much time retrieving the feline, he would have let her toddle back under the car and see if he couldn’t coax his lady into getting dirty. 

I love these types of segues – In Vampire Queen’s Servant, there’s a great scene where Lyssa disguises herself and they spend an evening at a mall, window shopping together. I have characters who have enjoyed a tennis match, attended a Renaissance Faire, planned a tea party for a little girl’s birthday party, gone shopping at a classy erotica shop, watched a film festival, etc… One more snippet, from the aforementioned Renaissance Faire, where Jacob and Lyssa are looking at a booth where rings are being sold. 

      As she looked at the designs, he reached out to touch one he liked. A simple and delicate thing with a sapphire center stone. The stone rested in a fairy’s lap, her tiny metal-etched hand resting atop it. She lay reclined in the clasp of her lover who appeared to be human. The sinuous intertwining of their bodies made up the top half of the band and the setting for the stone.

      Lyssa pressed closer to his shoulder, examining it. “It’s quite deft, isn’t it?”

      He nodded, glanced at the jeweler. “How much?”

      To him, it was expensive. He knew to Lyssa it was a paltry sum. The night he’d met her she’d been wearing a necklace the equal of which he’d only seen on movie stars and fashion models. So he wasn’t sure what made him nod and dig the money out of his pocket. It constituted about a week of the salary he accepted from Lyssa.

      “For an admirer of yours?” she asked in a neutral tone. Jacob lifted his shoulder in an uncomfortable shrug. “A token, my lady. You may keep it or gift it, if it’s not to your liking. I just…” He’d never given her a gift, and today he wanted to do so. “I thought it would please you.”

      She was giving him that arch look she did so well, and he wouldn’t be baited. She’d never struck him as the type who wanted slavish devotion, preferring Bran’s dignified and unquestionable loyalty to slobbering affection. But she knew full well how much Jacob felt when it came to her, so it would do no good to hide it. He couldn’t bear her laughing at him, though. So he shrugged and began to pocket the ring. “I’ll give it to someone else, and not trouble you.”

      Clasping his wrist, she stopped him. Extended her left hand. “Let’s see if it fits.”

      Nodding, he tried her middle finger first. The ring was too tight. “If you’d prefer the right hand, my lady, we can put it—”

      “I prefer the left hand, Jacob.”

      He thought her dark green eyes could rearrange all the shadows of his soul into the shape of herself. “After all” —her voice was soft as their gazes held— “you did promise me forever, didn’t you?”

      She put his heart in his throat so easily he wondered she didn’t just pull it out completely. If she didn’t, he was sure he’d choke on it one day. When he slid the ring over her ring finger it fit perfectly, snugly at the base as it should. 

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I hope you’ll have time and opportunity to enjoy your own spiraling seesaw of learning and deepening love for another. Thanks for letting me visit.

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Beautiful Girl

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This is coming out from Samhain in January… yeah, I know it’s still a few months off, but I wanted to show off the new cover.  It suits the book… very well.

and…. an excerpt!  UNEDITED….  shhhhhh….

The woman at his side, though, didn’t look a damn thing like Deedee Prescott.  Her hair was dark, nearly black.  It was hard to tell with the way she had it braided, but her hair looked straight as a pin, too.  Dee had the most beautiful, amazing blonde curls, curls that looked almost too perfect to be real.  A pale blonde that on most people, he’d say came out of a box, but he knew in detail just how natural a blonde she was. 

Deedee had dressed like the princess she was, wearing cute, flirty clothes that showcased her pinup girl body.The woman walked beside Vance had a weird goth/punk thing going on.  There was a black cord around her neck and Blake caught sight of something silver hanging from it.  The shirt she wore was form fitting, outlining a rather magnificent pair of breasts before disappearing into a pair of loose, almost baggy pants that she kept cinched around her waist with a wide belt. Thick soled boots completed the ensemble.

She looked like she was dressed to fight, Blake realized. Well, maybe not fight.  She didn’t look like she was out cruising for trouble, but she sure as hell looked like she was deal with it if it happened her way.  This dark haired woman carried herself with a tense, wary grace, like she was ready to defend herself or take off running. 

Like she’d had to do both in the past, and she was prepared to do either or both again.

The bell over the door chimed and Vance held the door open.  The woman stepped through and Blake almost turned away.  That wasn’t Deedee.  But then her eyes met his and his heart stopped.

Oh, shit.

Those pretty misty green eyes were unmistakable. He had dreamed about those eyes more times than he cared to remember. But her gaze wasn’t so soft now—hell, with the exception of the breasts straining under the thin cotton of her shirt, nothing about her looked soft.

She wasn’t just dressed to fight.  She was prepared to fight.

He’d been wrong.  That was Deedee, alright, but she’d changed.  The sweet, fun party girl she had been in high school was gone, long dead if the look in her eyes was any indication and the woman in front of him had nothing sweet or fun inside her.Something hard and cold settled inside him as he studied her.

The look in her eyes, unfortunately, wasn’t one he was unfamiliar with.  He knew it all too well.  Prescott was a small town in a small county, but it wasn’t Mayberry.  Bad shit happened here.  The average citizen could overlook it, many were probably unaware of it.  A man working for the sheriff’s office didn’t the luxury of not seeing it though.

The kind of things that caused the hardness he saw in Deedee’s eyes were the kind of things that made him hate his job. That look came from going through hell, kicking and screaming. 

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