Monday, October 6, 2014

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


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.”



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.

(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.”
“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?”
“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. ;)