Thursday, June 1, 2017

Excerpt from Blazing Tales: Blaze and Willa Meet

One of the best parts of a romance is when the couple meet for the first time. It is the reader's chance to start to feel the heat and romantic tension build between them. I loved writing this scene in Blazing Tales. Check out an excerpt below.


It was a chilly day as Willa made her way down the broken sidewalk to her favorite coffee shop. She hadn’t been able to shake her nerves since she’d had her call with Gerri. Pulling her jean jacket tighter around her, she quickened her pace. She was pretty sure she made it clear she wasn’t looking for anything serious, but she found herself hoping she liked the man that her matchmaker set her up with. Maybe she’d even finding a little inspiration for the love interest in her next book. Detective Cassidy was in need of a new man.
A warm breeze hit her as she entered the coffee shop and the owner greeted her with a smile. She’d spent many afternoons in this place, hammering out chapters when her office wouldn’t do. It was almost always busy, and today was no different. She looked through the crowd of people searching for a man at a table with a red rose. She spotted a bouquet of roses connected to a hand, a large hand. That large hand was attached to a muscular arm, which was connected to a pair of broad shoulders, strong neck, perfectly chiseled face, and granite chest. He stole her breath. There was no way a man that hot was here for her.
“Willa?”
His lips moved, but she couldn’t hear what he said. She was too busy staring at the best-looking guy she’d seen in years.
“Are you okay?” he spoke again, this time waving a hand in front of her face, knocking her out of her reverie. It was one of those moments she wrote about in books, when the world froze, and the only people in the room were him and her.
He stood up and snapped his fingers in her face. She shook her head and blinked her eyes as she began to focus once again. As it turned out, she had that moment all wrong. There were no words to describe the feeling. She’d get it right in the next book. A voice in the back of Willa’s head yelled, run! You’re in trouble here. He is far too good for you. It was the voice that came from multiple men in her past. The one that always poked its head up when she found herself interested in someone out of her league. It is only one date, she reminded herself.
“Are you okay? Are you having a seizure?” His large hand roamed over her neck, and down her arm to check her pulse. His mere touch set her synapses on fire. Electrical currents vibrated through her body. She was suddenly hot, on fire from the inside out.
A blush burned her neck and cheeks. “No, I’m fine. I’m sorry.” She sat down. Time just stopped in your presence, and I don’t know how to process the moment, she thought silently. “I’m Willa. I hope you’re Blaze.” Otherwise I am making a fool of myself sitting here at your table.
He chuckled. “It would be uncomfortable if you sat down and I wasn’t, right?” He continued to watch her with a careful eye.
“Oh, maybe I do have the wrong table.” She tried to stand up, but he gently pushed her back down.
“No, I am Blaze. It’s nice to meet you, Willa.” His voice was as hot as the rest of him, like hot chocolate on a bitter cold day. She was in trouble. She really liked this man.

Happy Release Day: Excerpt from Blazing Tales

Blazing Tales, a new story in the Paranormal Dating Agency Kindle Worlds is now available. I'm super excited to bring you Willa and Blaze's romance. The fire between these two is going to scorch your tablet, beware.

Super hot fire fighting, arson investigating dragon shifter + inexperienced in life, but talented mystery author who lives vicariously through her characters = dangerous, scorching love affair that will blaze a trail to your heart.

I've included an excerpt below that gives you a little insight into our hero... check it out and I hope you enjoy



The fingers of the fire licked the night sky, and dark smoke billowed around the restaurant. Blaze was an expert at fires. He’d seen massive burners in his time as a firefighter, and likewise as a dragon shifter. As a fire investigator, he’d seen more of the aftermath and less of the blazes for years. This fire was out of control. The building would be condemned. He pulled over on a side street and headed toward the fire truck.
He approached his mentor and old friend, Juan Martinez. The man he started working for when he was a fresh recruit, looked exhausted. Martinez rarely let a fire get under his skin. Something about how beat down he looked in that moment told Blaze this was one of those rare occasions. “Captain, it looks like a bad one.”
“Yes, we’re trying to contain it for minimal damage to the surrounding buildings.” Martinez turned his attention back to the fire. “Keep the flames from flaring! There are gas lines and propane tanks in there! Careful of explosions.” He barked orders into his bullhorn.
Blaze ran a hand through his dark locks, surveying the damage that had already hit the location. It was going to be difficult to contain. “You need help?”
Captain Martinez shook his head. “Nope, but I’m sure you’ll be called in to check for arson when we get this monster put out.”
Blaze had a feeling this fire was going to fall under the same MO as the others he’d been investigating. He didn’t smell chemical accelerants on the air. It was probably electrical. If he was a betting man, he’d place the ignition sight in the office. That would be the most likely origin of an electrical fire.
“Jacob? Jacob?” A frantic woman ran up to Juan. “Please, sir, I think my son is still in there!”
Blaze grabbed a spare suit off the truck and started getting dressed while the woman begged for help. He was a firefighter first before becoming an investigator, and he knew how to handle himself in a burning building.
“He went to the bathroom and we got separated. I can’t find him anywhere!” Her voice took on a shrill tone as fear radiated off her in waves.
Martinez turned to Blaze. “I think we can use a little of your dragon magic. My boys can’t get in there. The building is collapsing, and there are random explosions in the walls.”
Electrical. Blaze nodded. “I figured.” If anyone could take the heat it would be his dragon self. Fully suited up, more for show than anything else, he ran into the building. Inside he took off his helmet. Fire lived inside his soul. He knew what he could and could not handle. “Jacob?” He called out. “Jacob, where are you?”
A wall exploded, and a glass aquarium shattered spilling water out across the floor. “Jacob, if you’re here, I need you to call out!” The smoke was more hazardous to his health than the blaze. He called upon his animal half to help him see and hear. His human half was a weakness in this situation.
The only sound he heard was the roar of the flames as they devoured everything in their path. “Jacob!” He put the mask back on and started checking rooms. She mentioned the bathroom so he headed in that direction. As he got closer, he heard muffled sobs. His heart leapt with joy. The boy was still alive, but his breathing was raspy.
“Jacob, if you can hear me, I’m coming! Stay low, and if there is a wet cloth nearby, cover your mouth and nose.”
Another explosion from a side wall hit causing a minor ringing in his ears. He was focused on his enhanced hearing when the boom hit. Blaze shook it off, the tingling in his animal ears, and refocused. “Jacob, if you can give me a sign of where you are it would help a great deal!”
A tiny hand popped up from the low hanging smoke cloud across the room. Relief flooded Blaze. He headed toward the shaking hand. He was only a few feet away from the kid when part of the ceiling caved in. “Shit!” He looked up at the sky. “Seriously?” He turned back to the area where the boy was. “Jacob, are you okay?”
“No, my leg.”
“I’m coming. Hold on!” He tossed the wood beam in front of him out of the way and reached down for the kid, picking him up in his arms. “I’ve got you.”
Hope filled his scared little eyes. Tears streamed down Jacob’s soot-stained face as he wrapped his arms around Blaze’s neck like he was a life preserver in the middle of the ocean. Blaze carried him out of the burning building, and made a beeline for the ambulance on the street.

“He has heavy smoke inhalation, and part of the ceiling fell on his leg. I didn’t assess the damage,” he told the EMT. 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Phoenix and a Dash of Sass (Milly Taiden's Sassy Ever After Kindle World) Excerpt

Check out my newest release, Phoenix and a Dash of Sass written in Milly Taiden's Sassy Ever After Kindle Worlds. I'm super excited to share Tessa and Jackson's romance and adventure with you. Here is a little excerpt.

Another drink down. “He is kind of hot,” Tessa admitted as she started to enjoy the burn of the hard liquor as it settled into her empty tummy.
“Kind of?” Josie started laughing. “He’s super hot!” She leaned in. “And I hear shifter sex is amazing.” Josie’s eyes got larger than normal, expressing her excitement on the subject.
Tessa looked at Josie. She was surprising her this trip. They’d never talked like this before. It wasn’t the nature of their relationship. “Then I guess I’m out. I’m still recovering from this injury.”
“It’s your choice, but I think you’re insane to pass up the opportunity.” Two more drinks were poured and downed by the women. Josie poured some scotch into a tumbler. “Why don’t you bring this to him? I’m sure he’s thirsty.” She pushed the glass into Tessa’s hand.
Tessa laughed. “You’re terribly obvious when you’re trying to be a matchmaker.” She took the glass anyway and made her way back to the kitchen.
Jackson was whipping up a meal like a professional. He chopped ingredients, sprinkled spices, and mixed with precision. As he moved, the muscles under his tan skin rippled in his arms. His shoulders were broad, and his waist tapered off to a pair of enticing buns that she wanted to squeeze. She bet she could bounce a quarter off those gluteus maximus muscles. He was oblivious to her ogling, or chose to ignore her as she stood watching from the kitchen doorway.
She gasped when the flame from the stove exploded over the pan’s edge and set the meal on fire. She ran in to help, pouring the only thing in her hand onto the flames, which made the fire intensify. Jackson grabbed Tessa around the waist and pulled her away from the stove.
“What were you thinking? You never pour alcohol on a burning flame.”
“I… wasn’t thinking, just reacting.” She knew better, but the combination of an empty stomach and hard liquor made her mind fuzzy. And their closeness in the moment made her knees weak. His lips were inches from hers, and both of them were breathing heavy from the shock. Their eyes locked and they froze in that instant. The world around her seemed to fade. The sprinklers overhead burst on and pulled them both out of their magical connection.
“Are you hurt?” He inspected her from head to toe.
She shook her head. “No, just a little shaken. I’m sorry if I ruined your meal.”
He chuckled. “I could care less about the meal. I can cook more. I’m more concerned about you.” His hand cupped her face. “I’m sorry for snapping.”
She bit her lower lip. He still had one arm snaked around her waist and she was crushed against his body. The closeness sent a shiver of desire down her spine and pooled in her core. In that moment, she wanted nothing more than to taste his lips on hers. As if reading her thoughts, he slid his lips over hers, and she opened to his kiss.
The water that fell from the sprinklers overhead massaged their shoulders as the moment intensified. His tongue entered her mouth hesitantly and plunged deeper when she didn’t resist. The contact made her heart race and her knees wobbly. He slipped his thigh in between her legs to keep her steady as his hands roamed her body.
The kiss ended, and she tried to catch her breath, but his lips moved to the spot behind her ear sliding down to the apex between her neck and shoulder. “Jackson, we shouldn’t.”
“Shouldn’t what?” His voice was raspy with desire.
She didn’t want to stop, but they were putting on a show for Josie in the kitchen. “The sprinklers.”
He growled with need, but stopped nibbling on her neck. “You’re right.”
“Um, it’s the fire department. Is everything alright?” Josie stood in the doorway with a cordless phone in her hand.
Jackson pushed Tessa’s back against a metal counter and kept her trapped with his arms on either side of her. “No, we need someone to come shut off the sprinkler system.” His breathing was labored. “I’m sorry, Tessa. It’s going to be a while.”



Tessa Grant is on the hunt for a stone that holds the power to scare victims to death. Her job is to find mystical items and store the dangerous ones away in a vault created specifically to shield the magic from harming innocents. While a noble crusade, it is a job that leaves little time for romance. The last thing she needs is to fall in love, but when she meets Jackson, her world is shaken to the core and her future becomes uncertain. 


Phoenix shifter Jackson Brand is struggling to launch his restaurant and finds himself in dire straits when Tessa walks into his life. The loan for the restaurant is in jeopardy of being recalled, and his investor isn’t the kind of man you avoid paying unless you want to lose a finger or a leg. The last thing he needs is a mate that he has to protect from his past, but sometimes fate likes to add a dash of sass to the mix.

The hunt for mystical treasure forces the couple together, and the magic they make may not be enough to keep them from falling apart. Partnerships will be tested, people will get hurt, lives may even be lost as they are thrown into a mystery that promises to have an explosive ending.

Happy Release Day: Excerpt from Phoenix and a Dash of Sass

Phoenix and a Dash of Sass written in Milly Taiden's Sassy Ever After Kindle Worlds has released today! I'm super excited to share Jackson and Tessa's adventure and their romance with you.

Tessa is a strong independent woman who isn't in the market for romance, but she has a hard time pulling away from the deliciously hot chef / restaurant owner, Jackson.

Phoenix shifter Jackson isn't searching for a mate, but can't deny the attraction to Tessa when she walks into his establishment.

Both characters are drawn to each other and have a difficult time denying their desires. For those of you that have read my stories, it is common to find a lot of page turning action along with the romance and suspense.

Check out the excerpt below and grab a copy today.


Excerpt:

JACKSON SAW TESSA FALL BACWARDS, heard the cry from the wolf that fell on top of her, and instantly saw red. His skin grew hot, and his body flushed with fire as an inhuman roar escaped his lips. It took everything he had to keep the beast that shared his body at bay. He managed to remain in mid-shift as a human fireball. He knocked all three of the men beating on him out of the way, and ran to Tessa’s limp form. The only other man still standing stepped into his path.
“This could’ve been a simple reminder that payment was late, but your bitch wounded my brother. I want my pound of flesh,” he snarled.
As if on cue, the sky opened up and rain began to fall. His fiery half sizzled under the downpour and fueled his primal instinct to protect.
“What the hell is going on here?” Jackson’s brother, Lincoln, approached, gun drawn. Both men froze mid charge.
Jackson pushed the fire down and became a man once again. “Nothing. They were just leaving.”
“Like hell! Someone needs to answer to the injured woman and the wolf.” Lincoln aimed the gun at the delivery men.
Jackson looked at the four men standing, hands at the ready to arm themselves. He didn’t want his brother involved in this mess. Besides, turning the collectors over to the authorities was not an intelligent idea. It would bring down more wrath upon his head. “I’ll answer to the situation.” He took a step toward his brother and held his hands up in surrender. “Tessa was hurt defending herself.”
“Mike was hurt defending himself,” Baron snapped as two other henchmen gathered the wounded wolf.
“It was all just a misunderstanding.” Jax went to Tessa and picked her up in his arms. “But we are going to need an ambulance. She’s bleeding pretty badly.” He forced the fire of the phoenix’s rebirth into his hand and used that to encourage healing on her wound. Her skin sizzled and sealed up. He looked to the sky. The rain was coming down hard. “Please, Lincoln, we need some help.”
“Fine.” The collectors left as Lincoln dialed 911. “Yes, thank you.” He finished the call and turned back to Jackson. “I can’t keep covering for you, Jax. What do you suppose we’re going to tell the doctors?”
“The truth. She was defending herself. She jumped in to help me fend off my attackers.” He picked her up and carried her unconscious body to Lincoln’s car.
Lincoln opened the back seat and gave Jackson room to put Tessa inside, out of the cold. “And your attackers?”
“Collectors.”
“Shit, Jax, I told you not to get involved with Brady.”
“I needed the money for the restaurant. I’ll have their payment by week’s end. Don’t worry.” He brushed Tessa’s wet hair off her forehead. Realization hit him suddenly as he stared down into her peaceful face.
“How many lives are you going to lose to pay for this dream of yours?”
“None, I’ve got this handled, Link.” He couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. Could it be? Could she really be his?
Lincoln kicked the tire in frustration. “You’re lucky your car broke down and you called me for a lift.”
“I suppose I am.” He monitored Tessa’s pulse. Steady. Good.
Sirens echoed through the night air. The ambulance was on its way.
“And why did she step in to help?”
“Because…I think she is my mate.”
“Shit.”

“Yeah, that would sum it up.”


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sneak Peek # 2 of Cursed: Piper's Story from the Blood Courtesans Series

Cursed: Piper and Sebastian's story from the Blood Courtesans Series is now on pre-order discount on Amazon for only $0.99. Grab it before release week when the price will go up to its regular sale price of $2.99. Check out chapter two, the beginning of Sebastian's story below. 

I am lost, broken, desperate. I awakened a centuries-old curse and the hunter has now become the hunted. The monster has chased me across the globe, leaving bodies and devastation in its wake. My only refuge is to become a blood courtesan and seek sanctuary from the vampires, still the beast haunts me.

Sebastian becomes my beacon in the darkness. He is my protector and while he can keep me safe, I'll never be free so long as the monster lives. His plan to use me as bait is terrifying. Am I willing to trust him with my life - or should I let another stranger tame the beast that threatens to tear apart my soul?

Will the curse be lifted or am I doomed to remain in the darkness... alone with my demon?

***** This book contains adult content of sexual nature and violence and was written for audiences 18 and older.

Chapter Two


Sebastian

THE COPPERY SMELL OF BLOOD assaulted my senses long before I entered the dingy bar. Any vampire walking by this location would’ve been lured into the establishment by scent alone, not to mention, the place was a well-known supernatural roadhouse bar, which was why I was called in to help with the investigation. There were a lot of pieces to this jigsaw puzzle, and my gift would help put some of those parts in the correct place. Forensics would reveal the missing bodies were vampires, there was no question of that. The others would require DNA testing to determine what supernatural or human species they were.
One thing science or my power wouldn’t answer was if the woman who called in the massacre at a payphone down the street was a vampire or a human. If she was a vampire, I’d assume she’d call the council, but there wasn’t any notification from them. The only call I got was from the human police. My contact on the council responded back fifteen minutes ago and told me they had no notification of the crime. The unidentified woman could’ve thought the vampires’ bodies would take care of themselves, and may be one of the few of our kind that had a soft spot for the humans, which would’ve encouraged her to call the police, but why not the council? Was she in hiding? Was she the one who did this? Not calling the council left more questions than answers.
The evidence of multiple vampire deaths was the scent of their blood mixed with the remaining human bodies. There was also a distinct smell on the air, one I hadn’t encountered in a long time, so long that I couldn’t place my finger on its identity. Could it be the woman? Perhaps.
I’d seen death, destruction, devastation, and plenty of crime scenes over the years. No amount of preparation could get me comfortable with viewing these scenes. You’d think after a couple of centuries I’d be desensitized to gruesome deaths, but one thing I have learned from years of existing as a vampire, life is priceless.
It wasn’t just the blood dripping from the corners, the bar, jukebox, and ceilings. It wasn’t even the dismembered body parts that were strewn across the musty, alcohol-laden location. It was the terror frozen on their faces that gripped my empty soul. Whoever, or whatever did this, was a monster. One that horrified its victims before it killed them.
“Is the crime scene ready to be cleaned?” I asked detective Marshall, my good friend and police contact. There wasn’t much for the vampire side of things to sparkle up, but I needed to take notes and see what psychic energy I could discern from the items found at the sight. I preferred to do that when the humans were out of the way.
“It is. The CSI have already examined the scene. I’m afraid they didn’t find much.” The grim look on my old friend’s face told me he didn’t expect to find the killer. I knew he feared it was a supernatural creature, and from the looks of the devastation, I was starting to think the same thing. No human could rip bodies to shreds like this without some sort of inhuman power behind them.
“That is because their science trained minds are having a hard time grasping the supernatural. This was obviously an attack by some sort of creature.”
“Any thoughts on what it was?”
I shook my head, and frowned as I looked around the room. “No. I haven’t seen anything like this since the crusades.” Those were bloody, lawless times. Death was feared, but human life was of no consequence to criminals. At least in today’s age, people and paranormal beings put more value on life, most of the time.
“Do you think you can find out more by doing your thing?” Marshall waved his pen in the air.
I frowned as I looked around. My fingers itched to wrap around some of the remaining items at the crime scene. “I’ve been looking for any kind of personal object to help me with that, but there isn’t much left.”
Marshall grinned, a sparkle lighting his hazel eyes. “I believe I can help with that.” He handed me a crime scene evidence bag with a woman’s bracelet inside. “I also have a dagger that might be of some use.”
I took the bag and pulled out the bracelet. “Pretty,” I remarked to no one. The thin silver trinket had a couple of charms attached to it, and it was coated in human blood, mixed with that distinct, familiar scent. It was going to drive me mad until I remembered what that scent was.
“Anything?” Marshall’s tone was impatient.
I shook my head, wrapped my fingers around the soft metal jewelry, and closed my eyes, allowing myself to focus on the energy imprinted on the item. A fight broke out in front of me. Eight men, some human, some vampires, were attacking a gorgeous brunette. She fought with spirit, grace, and the fluidity of a trained fighter. Despite her obvious martial arts training, she was overpowered. As the gang piled on top of her, I felt something seize my heart. I knew it was an imprint on time. There was no way I could help her, but something inside me wanted to, something needed to step in and protect her. Was this the woman that called the police? I shook my head. There was little I could do but watch as the men beat the life out of her.
I turned away from the battle for a moment. Maybe there was some sort of clue as to who ripped the men and vampires to shreds around the room. They were obviously distracted. The killer could have been watching the scene. Maybe he was as disgusted with the whole thing as I was.
By the time I turned back to the slaughter, a gargoyle was taking out the entire gang of men. The woman was nowhere to be found. The gruesome scene played out to the bitter end.
“Anything?” Marshall asked, his hand extended to take the bracelet back.
I frowned as I handed it over. “I think the woman that made the call escaped an attack by the men who were killed.”
“And the killer?”
“Supernatural creature. We’ll take the case from here.”
“Another vampire?”
“Do you really want to know?”
Marshall shook his head. “Not really. Curiosity killed the cat. I prefer to be in the dark with these paranormal matters as much as possible.”
“Will you handle the cover up?” I asked him as I looked around the room again, committing the scene to memory. He’d send photographs, and when it was possible, more items that I could use to rewind the psychic energy of the scene.
“Yes. I’ll take care of it.” He bagged the evidence. “Can I report back to my boss that we won’t have any more of these massacres?”
“We’ll do our best to take care of the killer as quickly as possible and minimize the damage in the process.” I knew it was a promise we’d have a hard time fulfilling. Gargoyles were nasty creatures, and a rogue gargoyle on the loose in town was going to be difficult to contain.


Sneak Peek of Cursed: Piper's Story from the Blood Courtesans Series

Cursed: Piper and Sebastian's love story from the Blood Courtesans Series is now available for pre-order at a discounted price. The price will go up after its release on 1/17/17, so grab a copy today on Amazon.



Check out the first chapter of Cursed below and get to know Piper's character and her turmoil. See why she is backed into a corner and chooses to become a Blood Courtesan as she searches for protection from an ancient curse. 

I am lost, broken, desperate. I awakened a centuries-old curse and the hunter has now become the hunted. The monster has chased me across the globe, leaving bodies and devastation in its wake. My only refuge is to become a blood courtesan and seek sanctuary from the vampires, still the beast haunts me.

Sebastian becomes my beacon in the darkness. He is my protector and while he can keep me safe, I'll never be free so long as the monster lives. His plan to use me as bait is terrifying. Am I willing to trust him with my life - or should I let another stranger tame the beast that threatens to tear apart my soul?

Will the curse be lifted or am I doomed to remain in the darkness... alone with my demon?

***** This book contains adult content of sexual nature and violence and was written for audiences 18 and older.

Chapter One


Piper

“GREGORY JAMES MASTERS.”
The heavily tattooed and overly pierced, muscle man turned toward my voice when I called out his name. I swear there was an evil glint in those brown eyes before he bolted, knocking me down in the process.
Bastard! I hated it when deadbeat dads and cheaters ran. I jumped up, slapping away random hands from good Samaritans that offered help, and took off after him. It wasn’t like the man had many friends in Chinatown, the problem was the crowded streets gave him a sea of faces to hide in, and his maneuver of knocking me off balance, gave him a head start. Instinct told me to go left. I weaved in and out of the people as I made my way over the beat up concrete sidewalks. A good private investigator rarely wore heels. Tennis shoes, jeans, and a t-shirt were the only way to go when you were in pursuit of a criminal.
Instinct was right. I saw a blur of a red tank top and tattoo-sleeved arm turn down an alley only a few meters ahead of me. Picking up my pace, I found my stride and followed. The man knew I was coming. His soon to be ex-wife told me as much. So why was he running? This was supposed to be a simple job. Hand him the papers, take the picture, and turn in the paperwork for a nice little paycheck. Simple, my rear end!
He ducked into the back door of a building just as I turned the corner. I followed, and instantly regretted my decision the moment I walked into the moldy and booze-coated bar. The sickly-sweet scent of fermented alcohol assaulted my senses and made my stomach flip. The place looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in ages. I made a mental note to put a call into the health department. The dive was in dire need of an inspection.
I slowed my movements because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The hair standing at attention on my arms and neck told me whatever it was couldn’t be good. This place reeked of cigarette smoke, lost souls, and bad juju. Resisting the urge to turn around and run out the door, I plowed forward. Ever since that night in Egypt, at the Tomb a couple of months ago, I had been making bad choices, and this one was another example of not listening to my gut. When would I learn, and why was I so hell-bent on hurting myself? These questions echoed through my mind as I walked into a trap set up by my target. The answer, obviously not anytime soon.
He was surrounded by five other guys, each one looked nastier than the next. They were holding weapons that could do some major damage to me, like pool sticks and baseball bats. One even held a butcher’s knife. The glint from the dangerous looking blade only urged on the need to protect and defeat. When this was over, I would need to get a shrink to find out why I was insistent on chasing death. Part of me yelled ‘Run’, but the two men that came up behind me from the bar made escape an impossible task. I was trapped. The only way out was to fight. My hand went to my side, expecting to feel the cool steel of the handgun. When I came up with empty air in the hip holster I knew what had happened before I even looked at Gregory James Masters. He held my gun in his hand, an evil grin spreading across his rugged face.
“Okay, Gregory James Masters, I am so going to serve up your papers on a platter when this is all over,” I told him as I readied for the attack. I planted my feet into the sticky red carpet and pulled out the dagger sheathed at my side. The handgun would bring about unnecessary blood and possible death anyway, which wasn’t on my agenda today. By the looks of the men in front of me, their sheer size told me the stun gun I wore on my other hip would do little to no damage, so I opted for the hand to hand combat weapon. A dagger would require closer proximity, and would leave behind some blood, but fatalities were unlikely. Thankfully, Gregory agreed with the logic behind no gun use because he dropped the weapon on the floor and kicked it out of the way.
The dark-skinned man to Gregory’s left came at me wielding a baseball bat. He swung and missed as I dodged, sinking down to the floor, and kicking his feet out from underneath him. On his way down, I sliced into one of his Achilles’ heels to make sure he stayed down. It would mean a miserable recovery time for the man, but his life would be spared. This was about delivering divorce papers, not taking on dangerous criminals in a death match.
Two men attacked simultaneously after watching me take down the first guy. I managed to dodge the butcher knife, but was hit in my mid-section by the pool stick. The impact knocked the air out of me and sent be flying backward. The man had strength, but I’d bested better. Being a female detective, I had to learn to fight harder than my male counterparts. I was taught to use their strength against them. The bigger they are, the harder they fall is a very true statement in most cases. I rebounded quickly and went on the defense as both men grinned in delight, thinking they had the upper hand. I almost felt sorry for them. I steadied myself, and readied for their attack. So focused on the two in front of me, I didn’t see the ones that circled behind me until it was too late. A weapon of some sort slammed into my back, rammed into my kidney, and knocked the air out of my lungs. As I crumpled to the ground in pain, I pulled out the stun gun holstered at my side, but was unable to defend myself as multiple men wailed on me. My vision blurred as more jabs, kicks, and punches hit the surface of my body on all sides. I don’t know if I took any of them out with the weapons in my hands because a familiar scream erupted from my lips, and I lost consciousness.

*****

A moan escaped my mouth as I opened my eyes. Every part of my body ached. The smell of copper and sulfur assaulted my senses first. It felt as though my eyes were glued shut. My first thought was I died, but death wouldn’t be so cruel as to leave me in excruciating pain, would it?
I slowly stood up, aches and pains screaming from every inch of my body. Echoes of violent waves of agony made the edges of my vision go dark. With each movement, I feared I’d pass out, but instinct warned me to get out. Caked in blood, bodies contorted in death surrounded me. What the hell happened? How the hell did I survive the attack?
My breathing was labored from pain and fear as I tried to focus on my surroundings. My body was covered in sweat and red, sticky liquid, some of which had hardened into a disgusting mask on the surface of my skin. I pushed my black hair back off my face and glanced up at the ceiling fan that offered a slight cooling breeze, which carried the scent of death along with it. You must leave, there is nothing you can do for these souls. The warning seized my heart like a vice grip. What if whatever did this returned to finish the job? It wasn’t the first time I’d been attacked and spared. Why me?

How was I the only one to survive an attack of eight men? I was trained in martial arts, but these bodies were far from bruised and beaten. They were dead. Ripped to shreds. The eyes of the men were frozen open in fear, staring at me. A shiver passed through me when I found Gregory’s body. His abdomen had been ripped open, entrails pulled out, his neck severed from his body, his head laid inches from his shoulders. It was worse than any scene I’d witnessed in a horror film, perhaps because I was a part of it, and I had no memory of what happened. Part of me felt like I should call the cops, the paramedics, but there was no saving these men. I limped my way out of the bar, taking solace in the darkness of night. When I got some distance between me and the nightmare I left behind, I would call the authorities.