Monday, October 6, 2014

Cover Reveal for HOUSE OF PAYNE: PAYNE!!!!!!


ARE YOU READY????????

My first-ever indie cover for HOUSE OF PAYNE: PAYNE is ready to greet the world!

But first, a first-kiss snippet, from Payne's POV. :)  Enjoy!

***

That melancholy was back with a vengeance, until it was almost painful to see. “What about you?”
“I told you, I don’t have any tattoos. I hope you don’t hold that against me.”
“I don’t, and that’s not what I meant. How’d you wind up with no family? Are you an orphan like me?”
“No. I’m invisible.”
The deadened tone, far more than the words, made him frown. “I don’t get it.”
“Disowned or estranged might be the correct words when it comes to my family, but invisible is far more accurate. When you say you’re interested in a 3D portfolio, what sort of images did you have in mind?”
No Trespassing. Do Not Enter. Violators Will Be Shot, Gutted and Served on a Stick. She may as well have had a sign hung around her neck. “I take it you have no interest in butterflies?”
“You already have those. What don’t you have?”
A rush of answers flooded in, all of them having to do with her. “I don’t suppose you’d relax your stance on Missing Piece?”
“That work is off the table. It was hard enough making it available for private sale. Allowing it to be worn by everyone and their hamster would diminish what it represents.”
“What does it represent?”
She was quiet for so long he thought she wouldn’t answer. Then she pushed her plate away as well, her waffle half-eaten. “Death. Its agonized and never-healed aftermath. I have many more 3D pieces on my website. Take a look through what I’ve got available and let me know if there’s anything that grabs you. I’ll also post more projects tonight, just to give you an idea of what else I have going on. Oh, and one last thing,” she added, pushing to her feet and digging out a few bills to lay on the table, “if you even mention the word audition again, it’ll be the last word you say to me.”
“I have one last thing as well.” He also slid out of the booth and didn’t suffer a hint of shame when he towered over her. Dainty women had always brought out the knuckle-dragging protector in him, but never more so than now. No matter how much fire and ferocity Becks put on display, he suspected it was only window-dressing to camouflage the cracks in her armor. “You said you believe in brunch, remember?”
She blinked. “Yes, of course. So?”
“I’m guessing you’re like most creative types—up until the wee hours of the morning while the sane and the unimaginative are in their boring little beds, getting their boring little eight hours. That would mean you’re crazy-desperate for coffee by… what? Noon?”
“Ten, actually,” came the huffy reply. “Again I ask, so?”
“So… I’m going to see you tomorrow for brunch.” He cupped the nape of her neck, his thumb elevating her chin to meet the descent of his mouth. Most farewell kisses were nothing, really, a shallow gesture that had no meaning behind it. The modern-day equivalent of a handshake.
Most farewell kisses.
Not this one.
Her lips were warm velvet and not anywhere near ready for his. He loved that. She’d had no time to stitch together some bullshit game so often used by women with seduction on their minds and dollar signs in their eyes. This was just… Becks. A woman he was attracted to. A woman who corrected him to his face. A woman who forgave without any drama or guilt trips.
In every conceivable way, she was his kind of woman.
Her lips parted with a gasp of surprise. Shamelessly he took advantage, softening his mouth to mold to hers while pushing her deeper into the kiss until their tongues tangled. He felt the moment her bewilderment and shock evaporated into dazed participation, as she slowly melted like wax against him. The long, unbroken line where their bodies touched dropped the floor out from under his feet, and the heaviness in his cock intensified into a sweet, pulsating ache. Damn, talk about escalating quickly. He had to break this up, now, before he got so worked up he lost it right there. And he could lose it, he realized with a jolt. Somehow her kiss had gained the power to hold time so still the world itself seemed to hold its breath at its simple perfection.
Her kiss alone was almost too much for him to handle.
It took most of his strength to lift his head, a fact that frankly alarmed him. Her eyes opened, and he had to lock every muscle in place at the sight of the dreamy desire glittering in their soulful depths. That was how a woman should look when kissed by her man, he thought before he could check it. Drunk. Dazed.
Hungry for more.
God knew he was ready to give it to her. Right there, in a crowded restaurant, he wanted to give it to her in the worst way.
Then that hungry look was blinked away a second later, and he was baffled by the chill that closed around him when she pushed out of his hold.
“I’ve got a lot of work to get done, so I’d better get going.” Her voice was little more than a breathless whisper as she grabbed up her purse. “I hope we can do business together. Email me about your portfolio ideas, and um… have a nice day.”


***

And now… THE COVER REVEAL!

But that might not work for some, so… I guess I need to do it the old-fashioned way.




I should have posted it by now, right?  Heh. Okay.






Tada!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(I seriously canNOT use enough exclamation points on this. For real :D)


HOUSE OF PAYNE: PAYNE releases a week from today, with over 10% added content, including an epilogue that made me tear up in all the good ways.  Can't wait to share!




Friday, October 3, 2014

NOBODY'S ANGEL is on sale for $.99 until Oct. 27th!





I’m so excited! For almost the entire month of October, Carina Press is having a HUGE sale on lots of their PNR titles, and guess what? NOBODY’S ANGEL is one of them! *happy dance* For just ninety-nine pennies, you can have the novella that kicked off the idea of creating the 4 major archetypes in the paranormal world—the superhero (NOBODY’S ANGEL), the warrior (SAVAGE ANGEL, and a woman!!!), lost powers (WOUNDED ANGEL), and the reluctant hero (DANGEROUS ANGEL).
All four stories have their own story arcs in addition to a story line that ties them together, and all four books have their HEA (since I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers, heh). 
If that doesn’t intrigue you enough, how about a sampling of NOBODY’S ANGEL? Here’s the opening chapter for you to enjoy. :)

*****



Chapter One

“I can’t believe it…”
“There was so much blood.”
“What happened?”
Fragments of conversation hit Kendall Glynn from all sides, but the words were no more than an irrelevant buzzing in her brain. She was just as oblivious to the emergency vehicles scattered outside San Francisco’s top-rated KPOW TV station. Some of her colleagues were crying, while others spoke to police. The sea of people behind the yellow crime-scene tape all looked the same—eager spectators hoping for a glimpse of more blood, more madness.
She’d had enough of both to last a lifetime.
“Miss? Have you been treated?”
Kendall’s zombielike shuffling halted at the deep melodic voice close to her, and she turned to discover an EMT had appeared at her side. For a long moment she stared at him while his words slipped across the frozen surface of her mind without leaving a mark.
“I’m not hurt.” Her voice came from far off, unrecognizable and rough around the edges. Which made sense. The last time she’d used it had been to scream.
And scream.
And scream.
“You might not be hurt, but you are in shock.” Somehow she was moving again, heading for the back of an empty ambulance. It wasn’t until he helped her into it that she realized he’d pulled her along like a lost two-year-old. “I’m going to check you out, okay?”
“This blood, it’s not mine.” Amazing, how calm she sounded.
“I understand.” After settling her on the side of a gurney, the paramedic lifted her chin with a gloved hand and flashed a penlight across her eyes. “You’ve got lovely eyes, just like emeralds. Do you have a name?”
“Kendall Glynn.”
“My name is Zeke Reece. I’m going to take your vitals now, okay, Kendall?”
“I’m not hurt.” He had to understand she wasn’t the one who needed his attention. “The others, Dave Beamer and Jane Walters, they’re the ones who...” Oh, God.
“They’re being taken care of.” A blood-pressure cuff slipped over her arm. Began to squeeze. “You were close to them when it went down, right? Can you tell me what happened?”
“I don’t know.” Confused, she shook her head. “One second Dave was doing his job—smiling into the camera and reading the copy I wrote about a couple of murder-suicides. It was my first lead story.”
“Congratulations.”
“Maybe he didn’t like how I wrote it.” She couldn’t seem to stop shaking her head. “The next thing I knew, Dave was choking our anchorwoman so hard I thought he’d snapped her neck, before he took his pen and…”
“Easy.” Zeke moved to sit beside her and pushed her head between her knees. “You’re not allowed to go that white, Kendall. Makes me think you’re going to faint.”
“I don’t know what happened,” she said again, closing her eyes and willing the queasiness to pass. “Everyone was screaming. It wasn’t until I got close to Dave that I realized he was yelling the loudest. It’s like he was possessed, jamming his pen into his own neck while he screamed for someone to stop him. I jumped on top of him, but…” She gulped in air until the ringing in her ears went away. “I think he’s dead. I think Dave is dead.” She trembled on the verge of admitting she’d seen the essence of Dave’s life drain away, just as she’d witnessed her grandfather’s life essence drift from his body in the hospital when she was a child. She’d told her mother about it, and had been reprimanded for letting her imagination run away with her like crazy Aunt Maggie, a woman who read palms and talked to spirits for a living. But deep down Kendall had always suspected what she’d seen that day was real, and Aunt Maggie probably wasn’t as crazy as her family claimed.
After tonight, though, she couldn’t help but think she might not be standing as securely on the stable ground of sanity as she’d once believed.
“I’m sorry to say you’re right.” The EMT’s deep voice brought her back with a jolt. “Dave Beamer didn’t make it. Jane, though, is still alive. That’s something.”
Kendall let out a shuddering breath as the nausea passed. “I’m fine now.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” But he let her straighten up, his hand on her back. It felt sturdy and warm, but if this was what it took to get a hot guy to sit next to her, she was all in favor of eternal spinsterhood.
Lord. How awful she must be, thinking that at a time like this.
“Your color sucks.” With that professional assessment, he reached into a duffel bag and fished out a flask. “Let’s try some non-regulation emergency medicine packed just for such an occasion. Do you have any allergies to seventy-five-year-old brandy?”
“I have no idea.”
“No time like the present to find out.” With that, he tipped the flask into her mouth. Fiery liquid scalded her throat, but the sting brought the world back into sharp focus. “Better?”
“Maybe.” She gasped after downing what felt like half the flask. That had to be what it felt like to chug jet fuel. “I think I can now breathe fire.”
“Sounds like a cool super power to have.”
Kendall half-laughed, then was shocked she was capable of such a thing. “Did they teach you that technique in EMT school?”
“Nah, Boy Scouts. Always be prepared.”
Kendall trembled on the verge of laughing again and glanced at the man seated beside her. She must be in some serious kind of shock, was all she could think. That was the only way she could explain overlooking a square-jawed, raven-haired behemoth of a man with the most mesmerizing golden-brown eyes she’d ever seen. His chin was shadowed with a cleft at the point, and the arch of his brows had an elegant curve that made her fingers itch to trace them. She almost lifted a hand to follow through with the urge, and had to look away to stop herself from getting touchy-feely with a complete stranger.
“Your color’s coming back.” To her surprise he indulged in some face-touching of his own, laying the back of his gloved hand against her cheek. “Nice and warm. Brandy does have its medicinal merits, doesn’t it?”
“I think I’m going to make it.”
“I never had a doubt.” Tucking the flask back in the duffel bag, he pulled out a packet of wet wipes. “Once you get some of that blood off you, you’ll feel even better. May I?”
“Oh. Uh, I can do it—”
“Yeah, but I can see it.” Clearly not a man who took no for an answer, he began to massage her face with the cold wipe. “No one else is as covered as you, did you know that?”
“I’m not sure I want to know that.”
“Seems to me you were the only one who dived into the fray.”
“Oh?” Kendall frowned, oddly distracted by his touch. “Does that make me weird?”
“Depends. Were you and Dave Beamer close?”
“I’m not close to anyone here, yet. I’m a transfer from a small-market radio station in Half Moon Bay.” She leaned into his hand without thinking, almost nuzzling him. “I’ve only been at KPOW for three months, working as a researcher and assistant editor.”
“So you didn’t know him?”
“I didn’t say that. Dave was the first real friend I’ve made here, and he was the one who gave me a shot at the lead story tonight. He wasn’t threatened by me, my ambitions are in investigative journalism rather than anchoring. We hit it off right away, so much so that I’m comfortable in saying that wasn’t Dave tonight. It just wasn’t him.”
“Did he look different?”
“Since he’s never stabbed a ballpoint pen into his jugular before, I’d have to say yes.” Fearful she might puke at any moment, Kendall focused on his soothing ministrations. “There was a light in his eyes.”
“A light?”
“Light isn’t the right word. More like a veil. Like cataracts.” This man had some serious magic in his hands. In an alternate universe—a universe where he wasn’t wiping a dead man’s blood off her face—she would have done just about anything to keep him touching her.
“What color was it?”
Her closing eyes snapped open. “What?”
“That veil must have had some color. White or red, perhaps.” He continued to wipe at her cheeks, before sliding down to her neck. “Maybe you didn’t see anything.”
“It was white.” She arched her neck as luxurious warmth spilled from where his gloved hand lingered over her pulse point. “Milky white. Guess that sounds kind of crazy, huh?”
“Witnessing death puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people—violent death even more so. Who knows what really went down tonight? There we go.” He balled up the wipe and tossed it before he crooked a finger under her chin. “Feel better?”
“Um.” His heavy-lidded eyes were soulful, looking into hers as if she were all he could see, and her nerves beneath his fingers tingled as though from a lover’s caress. How appalling. A colleague killed himself right in front of her, and here she was getting overheated by a calendar-worthy first responder. “Yes, thanks. I should be able to drive home now,” she added, nodding toward her car not too far from where the ambulance was parked.
“Yeah. No.” He moved to hop out of the back before offering her a hand. “You’re getting a ride home.”
“Oh, please don’t bother—”
“If you don’t agree, I’ll follow you in the ambulance, lights on and siren blaring. At least then everyone would know to stay away from a potential hazard on the road.”
Something in his eyes convinced Kendall he wasn’t kidding. In the end, she followed along in his wake when docility wasn’t part of her nature. Her brain spun its wheels in an effort to think of a way to keep him by her side a few minutes longer, the need to simply be with him inexplicably powerful. But all she could do was thank him when he handed her off to a police officer, who did some hot and heavy ogling of her own when he walked away.
“With paramedics like that, I’d be willing to suffer a little emergency every now and again,” the woman muttered, eyes trained on Zeke’s firm backside.
Despite being in wholehearted agreement with her, Kendall gave her a sharp look. “I’d say one dead anchorman qualifies as more than a little emergency.”
The other woman arched her brows. “Both victims were breathing, last I heard.”
As the affronted cop led her to a patrol car, Kendall frowned. Obviously her shock-benumbed brain conjured up the impossible image of Dave’s spirit drifting vaporlike from his body; that made total sense. But why had Zeke sounded so sure Dave Beamer was dead? As they drove off, she searched the triage area for the paramedic with soulful eyes and gentle hands, and suffered an almost mournful pang when he was nowhere to be found.






“…the date for memorial services for David Beamer, San Francisco’s favorite news anchor, has yet to be determined, as the police investigation into this incident is ongoing. . . Co-anchor Jane Walters was taken to St. Francis Hospital—”
“Excuse me, would you mind turning that down, please?” Kendall met the cabbie’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “I’m sorry, I have a terrible headache.”
The volume decreased to where Kendall could block out the words, but she wasn’t nearly as successful at blocking out the memories. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw the gruesome scene flashing before her. The screaming, the blood, the madness.
If it were possible, she’d never close her eyes again.
That, of course, made for a sleepless night. With nothing better to do, she decided to pick up her car left at the station. Who cared that it was two in the morning? If she was going to go for the sans-sleeping way of life, nocturnal errand running was something she might as well get used to.
At least the rubberneckers had left, Kendall noticed as she paid the cabbie and made her way to her trusty hybrid still in KPOW’s parking lot. It was a mystery why they’d shown up in the first place. The horror show they’d wanted to see had already played itself out on live television. Heaven only knew what else they’d been expecting to happen.
The hell of it was, none of it made sense. Kendall’s mouth flattened as she found herself turning her car toward St. Francis instead of home. Dave’s behavior hadn’t given any hint that he was about to go postal in front of a half-million shocked viewers. He’d been fine, reading her copy, and she’d been listening to every word. Her words, her story that she’d dug up a mere hour before they’d gone on air, with a gut feeling that this was an important story churning away inside her. Everything had been going beautifully, with Dave reading about the two murder-suicides like the professional he was. Then, in a blink of an eye, he began screaming as he turned into Freddy Krueger.
Not exactly how she’d imagined launching her first lead story.
There was a veritable forest of satellite antennas stabbing up from a fleet of news trucks around St. Francis Hospital, including a couple from her own station. Eager to avoid anyone she knew, Kendall drove to the back and parked beside an empty ambulance bay, only to freeze at the sound of a voice just as she shut the car door.
“You can’t park here.”
Guiltily she started and looked around. Under a porte-cochère and illuminated by harsh sodium lights, she spotted a gray-haired, scrub-clad man leaning against a wall by the automatic sliding glass doors. Clearly on a cigarette break, he looked at her as though she were something that had crawled out of a sewer.
She waved a vague hand toward the front. “I’m trying to avoid the news crews. Is there somewhere I can get in without being seen?”
“Why? You famous?”
“No, I…” She shrugged a little helplessly. “I write copy for KPOW TV News. I was the one who tackled Dave Beamer.”
“Oh yeah. Thought you looked familiar. Your wrestling match with that anchor guy is all over TV.” The man flicked his cigarette away and wandered toward her, a bluish-white haze of smoke swirling around him. “You here to get a scoop, or are you injured from tackling a crazy-ass guy twice your size?”
“Neither.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
Good question. “I want to know why my friend is dead. Whether it was a dose of bad drugs, or a brain aneurysm, or a hitherto-unknown funky allergic reaction to shellfish, I want to know why. Whatever the answer is, I’m not going to be able to rest until I find it.”
“The only answer I can give you is that you’re not allowed to park here. We’ve got emergency vehicles coming in and out of…” The man stopped and craned his neck far to the left, as if he had a bad crick in it.
She frowned. “Are you okay?”
There was no warning. A muffled grunt escaped him as he lunged at her, hands outstretched. And his eyes…
His eyes were white.
A scream ripped from her already-abused throat, only to be abruptly choked off as his powerful fingers closed around her neck like a living vise.
This can’t be happening, this can’t be
Her sneakered feet left the concrete with the force of the impact. If her airway had been open, the breath would have been knocked out of her as she landed flat on her back, with the man landing hard on top of her. The back of her head smacked the pavement hard enough for her to see stars shoot across a darkening expanse. By the time her vision cleared, her assailant was looking down at her with a contorted face, his eyes milky white.
Oh no…
Wildly Kendall clawed at the fingers squeezing her neck so hard she felt bone grind against bone. An alarming buzz droned in her ears, while her eyes pulsed with the pressure of trapped blood, until that throbbing was all she knew and everything else faded…
Another violent impact rocked her, and it took her a few dazed moments to grasp that she wasn’t the one who had suffered the hit. Gagging, wheezing, not sure if her throat could even function after being so viciously abused, she sucked in precious gulps of air until the world came back into focus. She rolled to a wobbling sitting position, driven by the instinctive need to find her feet and run. But what she saw made her freeze in dumbstruck amazement.
The figure looming over her attacker was shrouded in black. It was as though the harsh artificial light itself couldn’t penetrate the darkness surrounding the masculine outline dressed in what looked like a long fitted coat straight out of The Matrix. His head was also covered in darkness, complete with a black, Zorro-like cloth that covered not just his head, but the upper half of his face as well.
A mask?
The sight of a masked man was certainly more than enough to stop anyone dead in their tracks, but then the seemingly empty black sockets behind the mask’s eyeholes shimmered. Then they glowed. Then they burned with the ethereal whiteness of pure light, and his hands…
His hands were on fire.
Only it wasn’t like any fire she’d ever seen. It was a rolling, vaporous flame that matched the white flare of his eyes. The sight of it, along with his whitely lit eye sockets, was enough to lock the breath up in her abused throat.
Dear God, I’ve lost my mind.
Her attacker swiveled his head around so hard Kendall heard the man’s neck pop before he swung at the man in black, and she had to blink at how his movements smudged together. The newcomer jumped back, only to unleash a crescent kick the moment he landed, and again her eyes couldn’t quite see the movement in the stark sodium lighting.
No. Wait.
It wasn’t the lighting. And it wasn’t the whack she took on the head, or being choked half to death. Though she knew it was impossible—like everything else she’d seen tonight—the movements of the two combatants were so fast they were blurring before her eyes.
The kick tagged her attacker, who spun with it and took a swipe at her savior’s middle even as an ominous snap of something in the hospital worker’s body rang out. With one of those too-fast-to-see-it moves, her savior evaded, spinning low and into her attacker’s body. Before she could fully register the move, he brought one of his glowing hands up to the aggressor’s chest, while the light where his eyes should be intensified until it was like looking into the sun.
“You’ve done enough damage for one night.” The masked man’s voice rolled forth like a cold wind across a barren plain; harsh, unforgiving. Inhuman. So terribly inhuman it made her want to curl up in a tight ball and never come out again. “I’m ripping you out of there once and for all, you unclean bitch.”
Before her disbelieving eyes, the vaporous white flame encasing his hand flowed into the man’s chest. The attacker’s white eyes bulged as though overfilled with the flame, his mouth opening on a soundless scream before he collapsed as if someone had suddenly pulled his power cord. A blue-white haze—the same haze she’d thought was a cloud of smoke—erupted from him and zipped off into the night.

*****


Sound intriguing? Well then, why not one-click NOBODY’S ANGEL? For $0.99, you can’t go wrong. ;)

BUY LINKS:





Friday, August 22, 2014

INKED anthology is LIVE! Read a steamy excerpt




I’m freaking out in all the good ways, can you tell? :D My first foray into self-pubbing is now officially live on Amazon! *happy dance*




HOUSE OF PAYNE is one-third of the INKED Anthology, the first of the HOUSE OF PAYNE trilogy, and one of the hottest books I’ve ever written. *fans self* This was a pleasure to write, and I’m hoping it’ll be just as much a pleasure to read!



Sebastian Payne is the power behind House Of Payne—a self-made millionaire, international celebrity and a leading force in the world of tattoos. Payne could have any woman in the world, but he’s got eyes only for 3D artist Becks Delgado, and he’ll do anything to get her. When he takes her out for a little private dining at an exclusive restaurant I fashioned after The Metropolitan Club in the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago, he introduces his lady-love to his version of fine dining…


EXCERPT:
            “The Metro Club.” Becks’s eyes were everywhere as they walked through the brass-accented paneled dining area lit by crystal chandeliers. Breathtaking views of the night-shrouded Chicago skyline glittered beyond the wall-to-wall windows, the city’s lights glowing like a giant’s treasure trove below their perch on the sixty-seventh floor. “I never realized this place was here.”
            “The anarchist in me hates the concept of clubs.  Too elitist and usually filled with people who have no concept of what it is to really work for a living. But I discovered you have to go where business gets done, so I joined up when the House hit the big leagues. And being a member here does have certain perks that come with it.” Through a set of mahogany double doors, they entered a candlelit room no bigger than a large dining room found in any house, with framed black-and-white photos of Chicago monuments on its mellow golden walls. Their hostess seated them next to each other on a tufted leather banquette at a linen-swathed table facing windows that framed views of Millennium Park. Their hostess waited as a sommelier filled fluted glasses with champagne, then closed the doors as they exited. “Perks like private dining, for instance.”
            “Are you kidding me?” Payne watched her eyes grow to the size of saucers. She got halfway out of her seat to look around while the faint melody of piano music filtered in from the front of the restaurant. “Holy crap, this is the only table in the room.” She fell back into her seat and made a chagrined face. “And I just said holy crap out loud, which proves I don’t belong in a setting as refined as this. Are you sure you don’t want to just grab a quick bite at McDonald’s?”
            “Sounds great, but since we’re here now we might as well take advantage.” He edged closer to her until their thighs touched. The simple physical contact sang through him like a miracle. “I’m sure the chef could make you his version of a Big Mac if you asked.”
            “I wouldn’t dare. That dude’s got access to sharp knives.” By degrees her smile faded, and she fiddled with the napkin on her lap. “You know you don’t have to wine and dine me, right?”
            “And you know that I like to do things up right.” Payne caught that fidgeting hand in his even as the doors opened behind them. He brought her fingers to his lips as the starters he’d ordered—prime rib Carpaccio in truffle oil and prosciutto-wrapped grilled asparagus—were served. “I get such a kick out of surprising you that I want to do it all the time, so you might as well get used to it. I’ve only just begun to spoil you.”
            “Spoiling isn’t necessary. You care that I exist.” Her voice was so low he almost missed it as they were left alone once more and he transferred little delicacies to their awaiting plates. “That’s more than enough. That’s everything.”
            “Becks.” Payne struggled with the enormity of the emotions she spawned. With just a handful of words, she moved him to the point of speechlessness while at the same time she brought out every protective instinct he possessed. When she looked at him as if she couldn’t keep her eyes off him, everything that was masculine in his DNA demanded he lock her against him and never let go. “When you say things like that, it makes me want to give you the world.”
            “Meh. I don’t want the world. It’s too messed up.”
            “Tell me what you do want, and I’ll get it for you.” Whatever it was, he’d find a way.
            “You really don’t know?” Her dark eyes lifted to his. “All I want is you.”
            Need slammed him, a crazed desperation that ripped through his system like a runaway train. Savoring the sensation, he reached over for a morsel of food and held it to her lips. “If you’re very good, you’ll get what you want. But I want something in return.”
            She took the bite into her mouth and sucked the truffle oil from his finger. The feel of her kitten-soft, velvet tongue against the pad of his finger taunted him without mercy. All too easily he could imagine that sweet little tongue sliding up the length of his dick so clearly, it was as though she’d actually done it.
            Oh, God…
            “You want something from me?” The smile that curled her usually solemn mouth was knowing. Sexy. Destined to snap his will like dry kindling. “Are we bargaining now?”
            “Always.”
            “What is it that you want?”
            “Your panties. Take them off.”
            Static-filled silence exploded between them for a heartbeat, and in that moment he could have sworn he heard her heartbeat. Then, with her eyes never leaving his, she slid out of the banquette and bunched up the folds of her long skirt. The teasing glimpses he got of her legs—pale, slender columns that needed to be wrapped around him—were enough to make his stiffening flesh swell to the point that his briefs felt like they’d grown small enough to cut off all circulation. With a grimace of near pain, he shifted in his seat while drinking in the faint shimmy of her hips. God, she was beautiful. The world could have been ending beyond the windows in front of him, and he still wouldn’t have been able to look away as she glided her hands up her thighs before they disappeared under her skirt.
            “I wish I’d known this was going to be in my immediate future.” The sound of her voice hit all his happy-buttons. Soft and sultry, it was a purr that was as sensually stimulating as a tangible caress.  “I would have worn my royal purple French lace thong. Instead, you get… these.”
            A hint of red dropped to the floor. With uncomplicated grace she stepped out of them and scooped them up. When she folded them design side up and handed them over, the edgy hunger that stalked him lightened with a flash of irresistible humor.
            “Wonder Woman?”
            “Don’t knock the Amazon princess.” Laughter danced in her eyes along with a lush excitement she couldn’t seem to hide, and it had him biting his lip to keep from groaning. This woman getting hot for him was almost too arousing to bear. “That chick rocked. She was my role model as a kid.”
            “A woman who appreciates comic books. How did I ever get so lucky?” As she slid back into her seat, she lifted her skirt out of the way, and he caught a hand above her knee before it could once again be covered. Her skin was a living fantasy of crushed silk and rose petals and all things that belonged in heaven. Soon he’d find out if she was that soft everywhere. “Though I have to admit, I always preferred Marvel to DC.”
            “Are you crazy? Superman and Batman and their multi-layered back stories were better than The X-Men or Spiderman any day of the week.”
            “Hey, now. Those are fighting words right there.” It was insane how delighted he was with her, this nerd-girl in disguise. With his hand sliding up her thigh, he gently bit at her neck and wondered what she’d make of the small images of Venom and Spidey fighting it out within the cityscape tattoo he had across the small of his back. “I think you need to be punished for that.”
            “Ooh. Scary man.” Her breathing was audible as she angled her body toward him for easier access. “Do your worst.”
            The invitation nearly broke him.
            Before another move could be made, the doors behind them opened again. Dirty plates were whisked away to make way for entrees of duck breast with cherry compote and skewers of flame-roasted vegetables. Payne barely saw any of it, glancing up only to inform their server that privacy was what they wanted now. When they were alone once more, the thought of sedately eating a meal with her wearing nothing under her skirt was the one sure way he’d lose his goddamn mind.
            “Becks.” No matter how delicious the aroma was from the dinner they’d been served, all he could smell was her scent. Lust burned in him, all-consuming. It was a fever, and she was his only cure. “Tell me if you’re hungry, and I’ll try like hell to keep my hands off you. But if you’re not…”
            “No.” Her breath trembled as she propped a knee on the seat and slipped a hand to his shoulder for balance. “I’m not hungry… for food.”
            “Excellent. Because the only thing I want to eat right now is you.” With that, he cleared the space on the table in front of him so he could set her ass down on it.

Now this was his idea of fine dining. 
******

Sound interesting? Find HOUSE OF PAYNE in the INKED anthology, along with Jade C. Jamison’s PUNCTURED, BRUISED, AND BARELY TATTOOED,  and J.M. Walker’s SHATTERED STRINGS. All proceeds go to charity!


Blurb for HOUSE OF PAYNE:

Life is supposedly what you make of it, but that’s crap as far as 3D artist Becks Delgado is concerned. She never wanted her brother to die in a car accident… or to be the one who was behind the wheel. Her external scars are nothing compared to the raw wounds inside, and death seems to be the only way to find peace.

Sebestian Payne took the concept of a tattoo parlor and transformed it into a sophisticated gallery of living art. The House Of Payne now caters to the rich and infamous, has garnered a worldwide following, and is run by Sebastian with an iron fist. He knows Becks is exactly what The House Of Payne needs, but there’s a problem. The accident that changed her life left its mark on him as well, and whether he likes it or not, it’s time to put his House in order.


BUY LINKS

My inspiration for Payne, Micah Truitt. Nice, right? :)


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

INKED anthology proceeds donated to charity!



IT’S OFFICIAL!!! The authors of INKED are proud to announce that ALL proceeds from the book will go to benefit women in need of mastectomy tattoos and tattoos that cover scars. Tattoo artist Madame Lazonga specializes in tattooing women, particularly in beautifying women who have experienced the scars that surviving cancer can leave behind. She had agreed to use the proceeds from the INKED antho for women who would like to have these restorative tattoos but might not be able to afford them. Because our anthology revolves around tattoos and women, we couldn’t think of a better cause.

If you’d like to learn more about Madame Lazonga’s process, drop in on her website and have a look, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of INKED, out 8/25, to support a great cause!

http://www.madamelazongastattoo.com/


Watch this space for buy links for INKED!


 










Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Opening scene from HOUSE OF PAYNE, out 8/25



It’s Teaser Tuesday!  In less than two weeks, the INKED Anthology is scheduled to be released, so I thought it was time to introduce to you… Becks and Payne.  Enjoy this opening scene from my full-length novel, HOUSE OF PAYNE!

EXCERPT:
            “Excuse me… Becks?”
Becks Delgado turned from her study of the slush-covered streets of Chicago’s bustling downtown area known as the Loop. Beyond the reception area’s floor-to-ceiling windows, traffic moved at a snail’s pace, the occasional impatient honking of a horn all but muted by the thick insulated glass. God, she hated this part of town.  Hated. And it wasn’t because the traffic in the financial district was usually enough to make even a saint wish for more middle fingers. This part of town represented death to her, in every sense of the word. Her little brother’s life had come to an abrupt end only a couple blocks from where she now stood, along with life as she’d known it.
But she’d had to come. And she wouldn’t leave until she had her pound of flesh.
 “Yes?”
The rockabilly brunette manning the reception desk smiled while flicking scarlet-tipped fingers expertly over the surface of a tablet. “You’re in luck. Payne will see you now. Right up the stairs and through the double doors.”
The tension inside Becks ratcheted up another notch, but she nodded her thanks and headed out of the elegant lobby of House Of Payne, Chicago’s premiere tattoo studio. Though calling it a studio was a little like calling Marilyn Monroe an attractive woman.
            House Of Payne was unique in the world of ink, and it wasn’t shy about letting everyone know it. The difference was noticeable right from the moment a client entered the building. Unlike other tattoo studios, there were no tattoo stencils tacked up on walls or kept in disorganized, well-used portfolios. Instead, state-of-the-art touchscreens embedded into the V-shaped reception counter provided instant access to the House’s countless exclusive designs.
            Clearly, only the best of the best was accepted here.
            The retro-hipster atmosphere most studios adopted was also nowhere to be found. Fashioned after upscale art galleries, House Of Payne prided itself on paying homage to the glory and beauty of art. The only difference was that this particular gallery worshipped living art, and the human body was perceived as an ever-changing canvas just begging to be decorated.
            No one could overlook the gallery-like bones of the showroom beyond the open reception area. Black marble flooring, modular white walls, brilliant spotlighting and mobile floor displays of stacked flatscreen TVs that matrixed together into a complete image—all of it was a backdrop for showcasing unique artwork.
In the center of the showroom was the true gem of the House, a 3D holographic image beamed onto a large transparent film suspended over a gilded circular plinth. As a 3D artist herself and an admirer of the “Pepper’s ghost” effect, Becks knew just how much it had cost to make that holographic image happen. But that wasn’t why she kept glancing back to that display. The 3D image, a puzzle piece falling from a human heart and turning black with death while exposing the demons within the organ… it was hers. The quiet agony it represented was known only to her, and those demons within her heart were still there. That missing piece of heart—that missing piece of her—had let the demons out when it had died.
            There was no way she’d allow that sacred part of her to be drawn onto every poser who came here just because they thought it looked cool.
            Following the brunette’s directions, Becks zipped up a glass brick staircase to the second floor where the tattoo artists did their work. Each work station was discreetly housed within its own private cubicle of frosted glass, with the subtle logo of the House Of Payne embedded into the glass itself. The trippy strains of Pink Floyd whispered overhead as she pushed through the closed double doors without knocking. So what if the man inside didn’t approve of her manners? She wasn’t there to be polite. She was there to kick the ass of arguably the most powerful man in the tattoo industry. Knocking his head against a wall was the only kind of knocking she had in mind.
            “Ah, the one and only Rebecca Delgado has finally graced House Of Payne with her presence. Gotta say, Becks, it took you long enough.”
            She slammed to a halt, irrationally pissed off now that the rug had pulled out from under her. Damn it, she’d been the one who had wanted to do the pulling. With a vexed frown, she regarded the man lounging back against a massive glass and steel executive desk, his arms and ankles crossed as if he’d been waiting for her his whole life. From the polished brown leather lace-up boots to the tailored trousers, button-down dress shirt and shocking red suspenders, he looked like he’d just strolled off a fashion shoot. He was her definition of eye-candy, and if he hadn’t just rattled her cage so thoroughly, she would no doubt be in danger of having to wipe the drool off her chin.
            Took you long enough…?
            Sebastian Payne, or Payne, was as well-known in Chicago as Oprah or Jordan. From Hollywood’s A-Listers to European royalty, from music moguls to the gladiators of the athletic world—they all came to Payne for ink. His fame began years earlier when he posted a session online with the client’s consent. The client in question had once been a super-sweet, cavity-inducing child star before vanishing when she’d grown out of her adorable lisping phase. She’d chosen to celebrate her twenty-first birthday at Payne’s then-tiny parlor by getting a tattoo across her ass that read “Fuck It Hard.”
            Clearly, the saccharine-sweet kid was all grown up and itching to prove it.
            Payne had been more than willing to help her scratch that itch. With the camera rolling, he’d taken the tat up on its suggestion and had given that young woman what appeared to be the wildest, screaming-for-God ride of her life. She was now making a name for herself in the adult entertainment industry with a website that pulled down an estimated seven figures annually.
Payne had become a living legend.
            It probably didn’t hurt that he was so gorgeous he didn’t seem real. With mussed tobacco brown hair, heavy-lidded hazel eyes that suggested he’d just rolled out of an overcrowded bed and a crooked smile full of sin, Becks had hatched her share of fantasies about him. So had every other woman in Chicagoland.
            But that was before he’d stooped to pirating artwork off the internet like a goddamn hack.
            “My, my. How remarkable you are.” She gave herself a mental pat on the back for her calm tone. No one would have guessed she’d spent the entire trip on the L envisioning ways of torturing him. Almost nothing could shake her out of the cocoon of numbness she’d been in for the past four years, but her art was an exception. If anyone dared to screw with it, she’d make them regret the day they were born. “You’re capable of looking me right in the eye as if you’re unaware that you’re nothing more than a common piece of shit. I’m impressed with your testicular fortitude.”
            His cocky smile dropped. She picked it up and returned it in spades.
            “Common, huh?” She’d thought those heavy-lidded eyes couldn’t get any sexier. Then he narrowed them and showed her how wrong she could be. “Even when I didn’t have a pot to piss in, I’ve never been common in my life.”
            “Pirating artwork off the internet and claiming it as your own is as common as they come.”
            “True… if that was the reality of the situation.” He reached back behind him for a tablet identical to the brunette’s downstairs and danced his fingers across its surface. “There. Look familiar?”
            The last thing Becks wanted to do was take the tablet. But a superior smirk was doing its damnedest to seep into his expression, so she had no choice. A second later she clenched her jaw so her teeth wouldn’t drop all over the carpet at the sight of a familiar invoice.
            Shit.
*****

BLURB:

HOUSE OF PAYNE – Stacy Gail

Life is supposedly what you make of it, but that’s crap as far as 3D artist Becks Delgado is concerned. She never wanted her brother to die in a car accident… or to be the one who was behind the wheel. Her external scars are nothing compared to the raw wounds inside, and death seems to be the only way to find peace.

Sebastian Payne took the concept of a tattoo parlor and transformed it into a sophisticated gallery of living art. The House Of Payne now caters to the rich and infamous, has garnered a worldwide following, and is run by Sebastian with an iron fist. He knows Becks is exactly what The House Of Payne needs, but there’s a problem. The accident that changed her life left its mark on him as well, and whether he likes it or not, it’s time to put his House in order.

*****


Don’t forget to put INKED on your Goodreads TBR list today!

Obligatory tattooed eye candy. You're welcome. ;)