Welcome to the Blog Hop Hunt! This is a super fun event and I'm honored to be a part of it and very thankful you came to visit me on my hop hunt page. I write in the paranormal genre in multiple sub-genres. One of my recent publications, Rayne's Thunder, was voted the thirteenth (out of fifty) Best Indie Books of 2015 by readers and fans from Read Freely. I'd like to share an excerpt of this book with you below.
The funeral was fit for a king. As the alpha that brought an easy truce between the humans and wolves, father was like royalty to the small town of Myriad Springs. The humans knew we existed and we respected them, kept them safe from enemies. There are a lot of paranormal creatures out there, werewolves only scratch the surface of the creatures that threaten humans and other supernatural beings. The wolf pack is kept secret from the human world outside of Myriad Springs and in return we keep the humans safe.
If father had gotten his way he would’ve brought the witches into the peace, too. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to broker the deal before he passed. That responsibility now fell to River. Those talks, from what I hear, have been far from friendly. I couldn’t think of a better politician to take over the reins of that project than River. He’s always been diplomatic, skilled in compromise.
We were all asked to speak at the service, River stood proud and honored father’s memory with the utmost respect, praising his accomplishments and using the opportunity to humble himself as the new alpha. I knew it was his strategy to keep the Carters from becoming a disruption and it was well played.
Rhyme attempted and failed to hold her emotions in check which made her cut her speech short to keep up appearances and avoid showing her heartbreak. Out of all three of us, I think she was taking it the worst. She had the pain of what could have been if she’d ever found a way to win his respect. What she didn’t understand was he respected her far more than she realized or ever expected. She just didn’t accept the way he showed respect. He always told me to be more like her.
When it was my turn to take the stage, I decided to honor father by singing ‘Daddy’s Hands’ which was written and made popular by Holly Dunn. It was a song I sang to him every Father’s day and for his birthday. I figured it was the perfect send off for him. I didn’t mean to break down as I sang it, but the thought that I wouldn’t sing this song to him ever again was the branch that broke the dam of tears.
The police-escorted procession from the church to the family gravesite was uneventful. Signs of spring in the small Colorado town were everywhere and were viewed through the windows of the limousine as the parade of vehicles slowly made their way through the middle of town. Flowers burst forth in bloom in vivacious colors, the grass was a vibrant green and thick as a carpet. The fruits on the trees were filling in nicely and ripening. People were walking down the street in light shirts, shorts, and spring dresses. It was odd to watch life continue on while you said goodbye to someone important to you.
I found myself drawn to the mountains in the distance as a distraction from the emotions rolling around my body. Unfortunately, thinking about the mountains flooded my mind with memories of family camping trips and hunts. It was like pouring salt into an open wound.
One particular memory brought tears to the surface of my eyes, despite my state of dehydration.
Father and I were fishing, a simple day excursion to the lake on the backside of the compound property. It was a beautiful summer day. The flowers were in full bloom and their fragrance mingled with the pines creating an intoxicating floral mountain scent.
It was only a few weeks after mother died and I was lost. I was only seven and I felt like the universe was against me. My brother and sister had eight extra years with her that I’d never have. They would remember her in ways I never could. I think that was when father decided he’d be easier on me than River and Rhyme. He figured he needed to give me more because I had less time with her.
It was the first time I caught a fish. He taught me to gut the silver, slippery salmon and skin it. “I know you’re a girl, but I don’t believe little girls should be defenseless princesses.” He smiled as he passed the sharpened blade and fish to me.
Ew! Eeck! I screamed as I pushed the poor animal back from me. I hadn’t shifted or even shown that my genetics carried the werewolf gene yet. Some offspring don’t. I was still wearing pink dresses and sparkly shoes. There was no way my younger self was going to pull the insides out of a fish.
“Rayne, you’re a member of a wolf pack. Someday, you’re going to be catching these shiny creatures in your teeth. It’s my job to make sure you’re strong and independent. Now come here and let me show you how to honor your first kill.”
Slowly I made my way to his side, gripped the handle of the knife in my tiny fingers, held the fish flat as he showed me, and I made the first incision.
I loved him. I would do anything for him. Those lessons made me strong. They allowed me to grow into the woman I was today, and I was proud of all I’d accomplished. Thanks to him, I was, I am woman! Hear me roar!
The burying of the empty coffin went off without a hitch. According to River, father’s plane went down over the Amazon Rainforest in Columbia. There was nothing left of his body to have much of a showing of his remains. As alpha, there had to be proof he was gone, and the little they found was sent to the historians to be categorized and cremated.
The idea that we were now parentless hit us on the drive over to the estate for the wake. Even River shed a tear or two before we entered the house and put on the perfect masks we were trained to display in public.
The house was full of pack members, inside and outside on the back lawn. There were also humans among the crowd. Mates and a few non-mated humans hoping to catch the eye of a pack member. River and Rhyme started making the rounds almost immediately. I held back. Truth be told, I wasn’t comfortable around pack members. It had been too many years since I’d been back, and far too many years since I’d been around a full pack.
Sure, I’d met some shifters at college over the years, but they were rogues and didn’t live by pack rules. Even though the rogues were outlaws and outcasts, they acted more civilized than the pack at times. Tonight, things would get out of hand and if that phone call my brother received earlier was any indication, the Carters were planning some sort of disruption, and it would be at the wake since the funeral and burial went smoothly.
“You still have an amazing voice,” a tenor from the past whispered behind me.
“Bryant, I didn’t know you’d be here.” I responded without turning around. Facing my high school crush was not something I needed right now.
“Your parents were like family to me and my siblings, why wouldn’t I be here?”
I could hear him sloshing the whiskey and ice in the tumbler behind me. His voice was warm on my neck. His very presence always ignited something in my body. Butterflies took control of my stomach at his close proximity. After all this time, all these years, all that had happened it was unbelievable, but apparently my crush was still hitting me full force like a punch to the gut. I took a deep breath and turned toward him. “I’m glad you could make it.”
He pulled me into a hug and his spicy scent mixed with mine. It made my mouth water. He was my best friend, my reprieve from my family growing up, and secretly, the guy I wanted to marry. Right now, he was doing what he was best at doing, comforting me.
I allowed myself to stay in his arms longer than necessary because I knew it would be short lived. Bryant wasn’t meant for me and no crush or unresolved feelings would change that.
“Bryant?” An unfamiliar women’s voice broke through my thoughts pushing the haze of comfort off me like one would rip off a blanket, exposing me to the cold reality of the world we lived in.
“Rayne, this is my wife and mate, Brittany.” He presented her with a level of pride, similar to how he presented all his trophies in sports to me when we were growing up.
“I had heard you were mated and married. Congratulations.” I smiled at the pretty blonde in front of me, avoiding the daggers that shot from her crystal blue eyes, and then refocused on Bryant.
He was still athletic, strong, tall, lean and built like a freight train. Age had left tiny lines on his face, but his eyes were still full of spark. He looked good in love. Admitting that felt like a vice squeezing my heart, but only because the feelings were unrequited and would never see the light of day. I’d moved on, just as he had. I was glad to see he was happy.
“Your father arranged the marriage. She is from the Barrister family from North Colorado.”
An obvious play at keeping peace. Father was good at what he did. “Of course he did,” I swallowed hard against the dry lump in my throat. Daddy would do anything to keep me from being with Bryant.
“I see the way you look at him, Rayne.” Father was alive in my memory. The one where he called me into his office and set down ground rules if I was going to continue to be friends with Bryant.
I remember I stood there nervously balancing my weight on alternating legs, a sure sign I was conflicted. “But, father what if--”
“He is not meant for you and you are not meant for him. These feelings are nothing more than puppy love and will fade over time.”
“Maybe you’re wrong.”
He slammed his open palm down on the desk and leaned toward me. “I’m never wrong when it comes to mates. He is not yours. Be his friend if you must, but never allow yourself to act on those feelings.”
I wanted to argue, but knew better. Instead, I stood there silently.
“Do you understand?”
“Yes.,” Tears stung my sixteen year old eyes. “I understand, father.”
He was right about one thing, Bryant wasn’t mine. He was obviously smitten with Brittany and they were happy. Father had a way of knowing what wolves should be paired together as mates. Too bad he never got it right with his children. My eyes traveled down the two and I realized that Brittany was pregnant. “Congratulations on the nuptials and the baby.”
“Thank you.” They both beamed with excitement as they spoke in unison.
Yes, they were perfect for each other. In a way, that knowledge made the love-lost pill easier to swallow. “Well, I should mingle.” I started walking away. To be fair, I never told Bryant about how I felt. I never told anyone. Father knew, but that was because I was his little girl. Strangely, seeing them together and happy was like closing a chapter in the book that was my life. Closure was the word of the day, it seemed.
I took a deep breath and waded out into the deep end of the pack pool by heading into the back lawn where the majority of the younger pack members were congregating. Some were play fighting, getting excited for the rise of the moon as it neared. Things would be far more different if it were the night of a full moon, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Others were chatting, catching up. Pack members from all over the state of Colorado were here to say goodbye and pay respects to the new alpha.
“Rayne!” My high school bestie, Chloe, ran up to me and wrapped her arms around me in a tight hug that I thought would steal my breath away.
“Hi, Chlo. How have you been?”
“Missing you, my BF.” Her words were slurred which indicated she had already drank far too much.
I couldn’t help but get caught up in her welcomed embrace. “Always and forever.”
She hung her arm around my neck and pointed her index finger at me while managing to balance the drink in her hand without any spillage. “You’re doing a poor job of keeping that promise.”
She was right. I’d been so wrapped up in my new life at college I neglected my life back home. I sighed heavily, “I’m sorry.”
“You’re forgiven. I mean what are BFFs for?” She hiccupped and I helped her stumbling body to a nearby chair.
“Chloe, you’re taking father’s demise harder than I ever imagined. I really thought the two of you disliked each other.” I couldn’t keep the confusion from my tone. Father wasn’t happy that I’d invited Chloe into our family, but he accepted her because he knew I needed a feminine influence. Chloe was a girly-girl, the complete opposite of me, the Tomboy. She was gorgeous; soft curly hair that looked like spun gold, piercing green eyes, and a brilliant smile. She almost always wore dresses. Rarely did she cover her legs with pants, and preferred shorts when a dress wasn’t appropriate. She almost died when skorts became a popular trend.
“We did, but your lack of communication over the last couple of years actually brought us closer in an odd way.” She stared at me for a long moment, unshed tears in her eyes. “I’m really sorry for your loss.”
I tried to hide the tear swipe I made at the corner of my eye and plastered on a fake smile. “Thank you, but this is a party to celebrate his life. He’d be so upset if he knew we were crying over him.”
“You’re right, he was always a stickler for details.” She wiped her eyes, moved in close to me, and used a loud stage whisper. “I think I overcompensated.”
“I think you did, too, Chloe.” River stood behind her, arms crossed over his broad chest. “I’m going to take you up to Rayne’s room so you can sober up a bit.”
“No really, there’s no need.” She attempted to argue with him, but he was so fast. He already had her in his arms and was carrying her up to my room. Now that was strange, too. River was always cordial to Chloe, but never super friendly.
I pushed that weirdness out of my mind and reminded myself no matter how he felt about my friends, he was a wonderful brother and he never failed to look out for us despite how much we frustrated him. Pride filled my chest as I watched him carry her off. He had become a great man and would someday, when he finds her, make his mate very happy.
“So the prodigal child returns home.” A voice that creeped me out came from behind me. I turned and came face to face with Storm Carter.
He was probably the most handsome man in the pack, and one of the most formidable wolves, too. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving. He may look like a tasty morsel, but he was poison underneath, like those delicious looking crimson poison berries that came out in spring. “Carter. I’m surprised you made it to the wake.”
“One must pay their respects to the out-going alpha and homage to the incoming, however short lived that might be.” He took a drink of his beer as he delivered his ominously veiled threat.
His attire was far from respectful, even I wore a dress. His jeans hung low on his v shaped hips and the emerald green t-shirt he wore was two sizes to small revealing his broad shoulders and showing off his biceps as he drank. With each movement the muscles under his tan skin flexed. Green was obviously his favorite color. He wore it all the time. It was the perfect match to his eyes and brought out the sun-kissed strands from his chocolate-brown hair.
“Respect? Is that what you call dressing like a slob to a funeral?”
He stepped dangerously close, but I stood my ground. “I’m dressed like this because I was on guard duty prior to the wake and had no time to go home and change.” His eyes traveled up and down the length of me, slowly, “I see you decided to finally accentuate your feminine curves with a dress. Tell me, Rayne, is college making a woman out of you?”
The implications in his words could go a hundred different directions, I decided to take it to the worst place possible. Without thinking, or perhaps over-thinking, knowing his family was making a move for the alpha position, disliking the man since I was in grade school, my hand shot out and slapped him firmly across the cheek. “If you’re implying I’m sleeping around you’ve got another thing coming, Carter.”
He rubbed his cheek and flashed a wicked grin. “Not in the least. I’m implying you’re filling out to be quite a sexy woman.”
I raised my other hand to slap the other side, but he grabbed my wrist mid-strike. The position gave him the opportunity to pull me against his body. “You were always daddy’s little princess. That’s not the case anymore. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll grow up quickly and get on board with helping your family in their new pack roles.” His breath was hot on my neck as he whispered his words.
“Let go of me!” I spit the words in anger as danger flashed in my eyes. I’d already been pushed to the brink, teetering precariously on a weakened limb of a tree, ready to take the plunge into crazy town. Taking on the biggest wolf of the pack was an act of insanity if I ever saw one.
He chuckled. “You have fire, princess.”
“I’m not a princess,” I insisted, refusing to struggle against him knowing many alpha wolves enjoyed the chase, and there was no doubt in my mind that he was an alpha wolf in peak physical form. There was no way I was going to give him any ideas.
He examined me carefully, his nostrils flaring as he took in my scent. “No, you’re a fully grown she-wolf now, an alluring wolf who needs to be careful when dealing with alpha males. Some would consider your behavior a mating dance.”
He locked his lips onto mine and my body betrayed my mind as I melted into his arms. His lips moved over my own and I opened to him, the wolf taking the front seat and my human being thrust into the cage in my mind that kept her locked away for most of the month. She wanted him. Any wolf would want a man as strong as him.
My claws and canines lengthened and I reveled in the groan that escaped his lips as my nails bit into the skin of his back. He was the one to break the kiss, pushing me backward, almost knocking me off balance. Thankfully, I was able to salvage my dignity by remaining on my feet.
It was one of those moments when the world stopped and stared, all attention was on us. I rubbed his taste off my lips and shook my head, anger boiling in my veins. “Don’t ever do that again!”
His eyes bounced from me to the crowd where he saw everyone staring, mouths agape in utter shock. “I was teaching you a lesson, princess. Don’t read more into it than that.” He turned and started to saunter away.
“And just because I didn’t fall for your scum bag charms doesn’t mean you can rub my reputation in the mud.” I shot at his back. I didn’t need to shout it, he was a wolf. He heard me. How dare he imply that I was easy?
He turned, a wicked grin spread across his lips. Those very kissable lips. “Are you finished?”
His condescending tone grated my nerves raw like cheese against a shredder. I crossed my arms over my ample chest. “No, you’re a real asshat, you know that?”
He chuckled, stopped when my face remained pissed, and stared at me with a shocked look. My eyes went to the peripheral and I saw the crowd was still watching us with careful consideration, speculation wild in their eyes. I threw my hands in the air, “A real asshat!” and I stalked back to the main house.
Ten sexy Alpha males competing to marry one strong willed, independent she-wolf... who could ask for more?
Another one of my books, a paranormal mystery called Remote Paranoia (from the PBI Case Files) was part of the Wicked After Dark Anthology which hit the New York Times Bestseller List (also lucky # 13) in October. I wanted to share an excerpt from this book as well. Hope you enjoy.
Frankie jabbed her heel down on Tucker’s foot causing him to stumble back in pain. She grabbed him and tossed the large man over her shoulder with ease. His body slammed against the blue mat so hard breath rushed out of his lungs. She knew she was taking her frustrations over Fang’s distance, and her sister’s betrayal, out on her friend. It was wrong. She left him on the mat and walked over to her duffel bag for some water. “Quit taking it easy on me, Tuck, or you’re going to get hurt,” she warned as she emptied her water bottle. Her mind traveled back in time as she replayed the last conversation she had with Devon about Sarah’s decision to join forces with the Amazons.
“It’s about intention? What’s that supposed to mean?” He asked, confusion and hurt swimming in his eyes.
Frankie shook her head and shrugged. “I don’t know, but I get the feeling that she was trying to help us.” At least I pray she was trying to protect us, otherwise her treachery made no sense.
“She betrayed us.” Devon’s words sounded choked and riddled with emotion. It was understandable. He was in love with her, he failed to protect her, and she left him for his enemy.
“I have a feeling she did what she had to in order to survive.”
Devon looked doubtful.
“Look, I know my sister, and she’d sacrifice her soul to protect those she cares about.” Frankie insisted.
“And I know humans. They’d sacrifice anything to survive. It’s the mortality factor.” His voice sounded cold and distant.
“Sure, no one wants to die, but I’m telling you, dumbass, she’s not a traitor.” She had a feeling she was protesting too much, but she really liked Devon for Sarah.
“I hope you’re right.” The fear on his face, and rigidness in his stance told her he wasn’t sold on the idea, but the look in his eyes relayed his hope.
Hope was a nasty demon that tricked people into believing things were going to get better. In that moment, even in this moment, Frankie prayed ‘Hope’ was actually on their side.
“Karma wants to see you both in her office.” Jasmine’s heavy oriental-accented voice broke into the memory and pulled Frankie out abruptly. She didn’t wait for a response, simply turned on her heel and left before they could ask why. Jasmine was never really a very forthcoming colleague.
Frankie offered Tucker a weak smile, tossed him a towel as she dried the sweat from her own body, and exited the training room. He followed closely behind. She could feel his breath on her neck and the warmth of his body in close proximity. Her mated, enhanced senses also scented his perspiration and eagerness to begin another case. He had pent up frustrations to deal with.
Frankie had no desire to do anything until they recovered Sarah, but they’d been off duty for over a month, and it was hard to believe Karma would keep them benched any longer. Devon was already out of play thanks to the poison the Amazons injected into his body. He was still a neutered vamp, and that was a handicap they couldn’t afford out in the field. Tucker had assumed Devon’s role on the team, and Persephone, by default, also joined them.
She sped up to avoid the scent of the man beside her. Tucker hurried his pace to match hers just as Fang turned the corner and joined the two. The tension between the two men was so thick it was difficult to breath. It was like cutting through a rough chunk of steak. Even if you did break through the tension, it wasn’t like you wanted to eat the meat. The two were both shifters, and they were greedy. Fang had good reason to be possessive of Frankie, but his good reason was riddled with betrayal which created distrust.
The memory of what Fang did to her was still raw, like an open wound that didn’t seem to heal over completely, and seeing him was like rubbing salt in the lesion.
Fang didn’t hesitate. He was a bit of a brute when it came to her. He took her arm in his hand and pulled her toward him forcibly. “We need to talk.” His hands and voice were harsher than he intended as he pulled the despondent Frankie down the hall.
Once again, she was being man-handled by the overbearing were-bear. One part of her wanted his attention. She couldn’t fight off the chemical attraction, but the intelligent side of her knew better. Being drug away was the wake-up call she needed. Frankie dug her heels into the ground, but it did little good since the floors were grey concrete. “Let go of me!” She hissed, and when she started fighting back, he tossed her over his shoulder with minimal effort. When she started slamming her fists into his solid back, he spanked her. That made her pause for a moment as she processed his actions. “Did you just...spank me?”
He slipped into an abandoned office, dropped her unceremoniously on the couch, and then locked the door so they wouldn’t be disturbed. He was so angry, she could feel the boiling heat radiating off his body. His glare cut her to the bone as he tried to put his emotions in check. She didn’t like seeing him this way. Something in her subconscious warned her he was dangerous when he was upset.
The warning voice in her head did little to calm her, instead, she saw red. He kept pushing and he’d pushed too far this time. She stood up. “How dare you!” Her fist aimed for his face, but he stopped her first punch and managed to stop her second as well.
“You may be well trained, Francesca, but I trained you.” The bitterness in his voice cut her open like a gutted fish and forced her to settle down. She’d never heard him speak to her with such anger, and knowing what he was, she knew better than to poke the bear more than necessary. The saying you can catch more bears with honey rang true to her in that moment.
His voice and words softened when he saw fear in her green eyes. “Please, Frankie, I just want to talk.” He released her fisted hands.
“I don’t want to talk to you.” She crossed her arms over her chest and took a step back. They were alone and he was too close for comfort. “You really need to take a socializing class. Your actions are inexcusable.”
He offered a shy, mischievous grin. “Social etiquette has never been a strong point for me.”
“Why do you hate me so much?” He gave her a sincere, hurtful look, one that almost shook her to the core.
“I…I don’t hate you. I just hate the things you do sometimes.” The sadness in his eyes made her attitude soften. For some reason, despite her annoyance at the man, she took pity on him.
“My mother told me that hate is probably one of the worst words a person can use to describe something.”
“Your mother is right.” Frankie unfolded her arms. “Maybe I should say I dislike the things you do, but I really don’t appreciate being thrown over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and I won’t tolerate being spanked. I’m in my mid-twenties, not a child.”
“Asking for a new partner without trying to work things out with your current partner is slightly childish.”
“You heard that? It’s not polite to eavesdrop.” She balked.
He shrugged. “I’m not polite according to you.” He mumbled the last part.
He moved forward a few steps so he was invading her personal space. She took a step back, and he clamped his hand around her forearms and pulled her back toward him. “Please don’t do that.”
“What? Let me go, Fang!”
“Not until I tell you what happened to you in the hospital.”
Frankie’s eyes grew wide. “Okay, what happened?” It was the secret she’d been trying to uncover since she woke up. She didn’t know why, but she needed to know what they did to her.
“First you need to understand why. You were going to die, and I couldn’t let that happen to you. I don’t know if you realize this, but there is chemistry between us.”
Frankie laughed. “Uh, no, there isn’t.”
He tilted his head and looked deep into her eyes, like he was examining her soul. “Do I need to kiss you again to prove it?”
“Keep those lips away from me.”
He moved closer, his lips inches from hers. “Why do you deny yourself the pleasures I can show you?”
“I don’t know how else I can make it any clearer. I’m. Not. Interested.” She did it, she dared to poke the bear’s chest.
“When you stop lying to me, and perhaps to yourself, things will be a lot better between us. Even now, your heart speeds up as my lips inch closer to yours. Your green eyes grow dark with desire. You moisten your lips in anticipation and your scent is honey mixed with musk. The words you speak do not match your body’s response.”
“You’re also describing fear.” Frankie pointed out.
His face fell, and he dropped his grip on her arms. “I don’t wish to make you afraid me.” He took a step back, and Frankie felt guilt over her words. He was so literal and blunt, and he put her on the defense. It was hard to believe that her words could cut him, but they did.
“I’m sorry, Fang. I’m not afraid of you.”
His brown eyes lit up with hope. “Good, because what I need to tell you could change everything between us.”
“Okay?” Her voice was guarded.
“You were about to die.”
“I know.” The mutated strain of the Ebola virus had caused complete organ failure. The only way to survive was to eat human organs to replace those that had shut down, and she was not going to do that. The memory made her shudder.
“And it was my fault.”
“No, it wasn’t.” Not entirely his fault. The brute was constantly arguing with her about her safety in the field, and he was too preoccupied with his anger that he hadn’t put the child infected with the virus in the car before laying into her with his words. The girl was hungry and started gnawing on Frankie’s hand. She clamped down so tightly that the only way to get her to release the appendage was to kill her. Frankie closed her eyes against the memory of Fang breaking the girl’s neck. She’d never seen someone die in front of her like that, and she was still a bit traumatized by the tragedy. Fang had been suspended for a week while they investigated his actions, and he was returned to duty once they determined he was protecting his team in the line of duty. It didn’t make the picture of the girl’s death any easier.
“We all knew you weren’t ready for field work, but we needed you because of--
Just being near him made her emotions go haywire. She needed to get away, and didn’t want to hear it anymore. “Look, Fang, I get it. You all injected me with some sort of paranormal healing serum. What I really want to know is if it’s going to fade.”
“The strength?” Fang tried to catch up to her questioning. Changing gears mid-conversation wasn’t always easy.
Frankie nodded. “And the enhanced senses.”
“No, you’ll always have those things no matter what you do.”
Frankie took a deep breath. “I’ve thought a lot about this, and assuming that is what you all did to me, I’m… okay with it.”
She didn’t know it then, but there was far more to it. “Well, kind of, as long as I know what is happening to me and understand all the things connected to it. I mean, it makes me a stronger agent. I just hate being kept in the dark with people I’m supposed to trust keeping secrets from me. Are there any nasty side effects?”
Oh, boy, there were nasty side effects. She didn’t learn the whole truth from him. It was a banshee that revealed the curse he put on her. The bear didn’t even have the guts to tell her they were mated. She supposed that was what hurt the most about the whole situation. That, and the tiny fact that when she was near him they were hot for each other beyond belief. There was a thin line between love and hate, especially where mates were concerned.
Mentally, she knew what he did saved her life. He risked his own life to keep her breathing, and gave up any chance of ever finding a mate by bonding with her to save her from dying. Intellectually, she should try and make things work with him, but all the lies he told after the fact created muddy water under that bridge. She couldn’t trust her body near him. The only part of her that she did trust around him was her mind and the ability to make decisions for herself. Besides, who could make a lifelong commitment to a man they barely knew? A Neanderthal brute that had difficulty even having a simple conversation.
It made her guilty whenever she allowed those thoughts to mull around in her mind. He was raised more bear than human. Holding his childhood against him was immature, but it was yet another point against the man. The were-bear was not what she envisioned for her mate.
“Tucker, can we have a minute?” Fang stepped in front of Frankie halting her entrance Karma’s office.
Tucker’s warm, brown eyes gravitated to Frankie, and she nodded ‘okay’ before he entered the office leaving them alone in the hallway.
Fang took a step forward and Frankie stepped back. “This insistence on keeping us apart is killing me, Frankie.” His blue eyes pleaded with her for a little understanding.
She stepped back again, and felt the cool wall seep into her spine. “I need time, Fang. If there is any chance for us in the future, you need to give me space.”
He did the exact opposite with another step putting him closer to her than before. “I get what you’re saying, I do, but we’re partners, and we were becoming friends. Can’t we try and kindle that friendship?”
“We are friends,” she responded without thinking. Her body’s chemical reaction to the man was kicking in. Her desire to wrap her arms around his neck and kiss his lips was overwhelming her thought process. “But, I can’t give you more until I find my sister. Sarah has to be my priority right now.”
“You’ve got to know she’s mine, too. What’s important to you is important to me.”
Her eyes snapped fire. “And that’s why you altered my chemical makeup without consulting me first.”
He looked hopeless. “Are you never going to forgive me for saving your life?”
“Probably not.” And sadly, she knew it was probably the truth.
He slammed his fist into the wall beside her head. She didn’t flinch. She was used to his temper where she was involved. “Damn it, Francesca! I beg you to give us a chance.”
“Are you two coming?” Jasmine opened the door and waited for them to enter, impatience written all over her face.
Saved by the dragon. Frankie ducked under Fang’s arms and entered the office. Fang was slow to follow, but he did. Jasmine, Tucker, Persephone DeLuca, Devon, Karma, and two strange women were already seated, waiting. No one looked pleased with the delay.
“Sorry.” Frankie apologized as she took a seat next to Devon. Fang grumbled what passed for an apology from the man.
“Thank you for joining us. I need your help on a new case.” Karma began. Our boss had two personas; the badass goddess that doled out punishment to equal the scales of karma, and the hipster chick that looked like a 60s throw-back when she was evaluating karmatic justice.
Lately her attire erred on the side of the badass biker chick, and today was not different. Her skin-tight leather body suit hugged her curves and would have made a supermodel jealous. Her long, blonde curls were tied back in a braid that fell to the small of her back, and her ‘one green and one blue’ eyes were lined in smoky kohl. The girl was out for justice, and it was bad, bad, bad.
“We already have a case,” Frankie was careful to point out. “I thought you told us finding Sarah was our priority?”
“It is,” Karma began, “but since we have made no traction on the search in the last few weeks I need to allocate some resources to this new case. You, Fang, and Devon will join Tucker, DeLuca, and Jasmine on this one case.”
Devon was quick to point out, “I’m still unable to cause pain to another living being--”
“Which is why you’re the team leader.”
Devon and the other horsemen of the apocalypse, who happened to be vampires, were injected with a neutering serum by the very Amazons that brainwashed Sarah in their last case. Since the serum had proven to be irreversible he’d been placed on the bench indefinitely. For Karma to put him in the field said a lot about the severity of the case. It was the only reason Frankie decided to keep her mouth shut.
Tucker asked the question that was on everyone’s mind. “What is the case?”
Karma passed out file folders to everyone in the room. “We have a string of accidental deaths involving high powered supernatural officials.”
Devon looked quizzically at Karma. “Accidental deaths don’t generally fall under the purview of the PBI.”
“No, they don’t. But these are peculiar and demand a thorough investigation.”
Karma flipped on the big screen with her remote. Two faces appeared on the television. She shot the red laser to the first man. Dark hair, dark skin, hazel eyes, goatee, and dangerous stare. “Jerrell Jackson, an alpha wolf from Washington State. Parts of his body were discovered in the wood chipper on the compound.”
Fang ran a hand through his blond hair. “Are we sure this wasn’t murder?”
“It was labeled as an accidental death. He was drinking the night before, somehow fell asleep in the chipper, and when the crew came in the next morning and started the machine his body was shredded.”
“By the gods!” Fang rarely spoke in debriefs, but this obviously had an impact on him. “Horrible way to lose an alpha.”
“And so the local authorities concluded that falling into a wood chipper was an accidental death?” Devon shook his head.
“It happens,” Karma’s eyes flew to the redheaded stranger in the room, “unfortunately.” She took a deep breath and continued. “According to the report, Jerrell was drinking, he made the chipper his bed, and passed out, and when the workers came in the next morning and turned on the machine,” she swallowed hard, “…the rest is detailed in the report.” Even Karma looked sick as she gave what little details she could.
“Come on!” Frankie blurted out. “I mean, unbelievable.” She followed her statement of disbelief with one of astonishment when all eyes turned toward her.
“Frankie’s right. Seems a little impossible.” Devon backed his partner up.
Karma shrugged. “Freak accidents happen all the time, I myself have been responsible for a few of them when karmatic justice is delivered. Not chipper accidents, mind you.” She shuddered. “It’s a little too gruesome for my taste, but last year alone there were fourteen deaths by wood chippers across the country.”
“So death by freak accident.” DeLuca rolled her eyes. “Were there any witnesses?”
“Not any according to the report. A good friend of the deceased had been there, but when he left Jerrell was alive, and when he returned in the morning he was the one to start the machine. What makes this peculiar is the gruesomeness of the death ensured that the alpha wouldn’t survive.” Karma clicked the remote again and the next face appeared on the screen. “We know how to kill paranormal creatures, but the humans don’t. That leads me to believe these killings, if they turn out to be murders, are by a supernatural, or at the very least, preternatural with a lot of information.”
The agents cast glances at each other and the screen, but none spoke so Karma continued. “Frankie and Fang will go to Washington to investigate a little further.”
“Persephone and Tucker, I want you two to take a second look at the suspicious death of Libby Good. She is a witch that died by drowning in her bathtub.”
“Were there any defensive marks?” Persephone DeLuca raised a dark eyebrow.
“No, and there were no bruises on the body to indicate she was held down either.” Karma answered the next obvious question.
The group started flipping through the files again.
“What connects these two together?”
“They are part of the Order.” Jasmine supplied the answer. She looked at the two strangers in the room. “So are the two of you.”
“Very good, Jasmine.” Karma smiled warmly.
“That is why we believe one of us are next.” The small woman with shiny, red hair and twinkling blue eyes joined the conversation. Her voice held a soft Irish lilt.
The second woman with long black hair and olive skin nodded. “Usually, we wouldn’t be concerned with something like this. We’re very capable in handling our own affairs. The problem is this threat is taking down our best operatives.”
All eyes turned to the two women. The ginger woman offered a grin that didn’t touch her eyes. “We come to you asking for sanctuary. Our team was disbanded a month ago. Once we’ve been retired, we’re on our own. My name is Mackenna, but my friends call me Red. The dead on the screen were my friends, and at one time, teammates.”
“And I’m Olivia,” the dark-haired woman who carried a holstered sword between her shoulder blades added. These two women looked far more dangerous than they had first appeared. Frankie didn’t know what the Order was, but she had a feeling it wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
“Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the Order?” Frankie asked after a long silence stretched between them like an abandoned highway. Both gave her the creeps.
“The Order works for the Fates, my mother and aunts. Their job is to simply keep destiny on track for major players.” Karma began.
“Game changers. If someone whose path impacts large numbers of people, and the fate of nations is not on track, it is our job to help them back on the rails, so to speak.” Red offered.
“So you manipulate fate.” Frankie now understood why they were here. It was an odd form of nepotism.
“No one manipulates fate. It has already been decided. We just help it along.” Olivia’s tone was stern leaving no room for argument.
“And you think someone is trying to kill you all?” Devon asked.
“We’re a six person team, and two of us are dead within a month of leaving the Order. Supernaturals are hard to kill.” Red added, “Order members are far more difficult to terminate.”
“Libby was excited to go home and learn her heritage, not to mention she was a water witch. There is no way she could drown. Water was her friend.” Olivia’s tone sounded odd.
“Jerrell was in love, and he was the new alpha for Washington State. He had everything to fight for.” Red added.
“In love? With who?” DeLuca asked.
“Me.” Red answered. “He was happy.”
“Sometimes people are good at hiding how…” Tucker used a soothing voice, like a comforting hand on the shoulder as he began to question the witness.
Red rushed up on him, inches from his face, “I’m not a naïve civilian. I’ve lived centuries as a Nephilim. I know how people can hide feelings and thoughts. Don’t patronize me, boy.”
“Down, Red.” Karma commanded. “My agents are only trying to help. If you prefer, we can let you handle your own investigation.”
Red backed up, but the glare from her stone-cold eyes caused Frankie to shiver. She didn’t like this angel half breed, and would be happy when the case was over.
“I’d like Devon to run point, and Jasmine and Dev can stay here guarding Red and Olivia while you investigate the crime scenes. Then return here, and we’ll coordinate next steps.” Karma snapped the screen off and sat down at her desk, dismissing them.
This series has it all, mythological Gods, paranormal creatures, mystery, suspense and romance. It is a deliciously wicked combination. Grab your copy of Remote Paranoia online here.
This series has it all, mythological Gods, paranormal creatures, mystery, suspense and romance. It is a deliciously wicked combination. Grab your copy of Remote Paranoia online here.
Check out all of my paranormal reads on Amazon here. I truly hope you enjoyed my excerpts. Both of these books are currently FREE with Kindle Unlimited as well. Check them out and escape into the world of the Paranormal with Author Jami Brumfield.
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As always, thank you for reading. Have a wickedly wonderful day.
Up next on the blog hop hunt is Josette Reuel. Check out her blog stop here.
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