Excerpt from Destined for Eternity

I thought I’d tease you all with the first three chapters of Destined for Eternity before it releases Sunday.  Hope you enjoy!


Chapter 1

 Cori

When one runs a business, they’re always happy for more customers, but the reception area of Cori’s tattoo shop was packed almost beyond capacity. People sat in every available chair and even more milled around the place. Several young women stood together at the wall next to the large front windows, checking out the designs displayed there. For the last few weeks, the shop couldn’t keep up with all the folks coming in to get tattoos. Cori had finally had to put in a television set so her customers had something to do while waiting their turn.

She stood behind the counter and rubbed her aching back. “I can’t believe how busy we’ve gotten lately.”

“It’s a good thing you hired me when you did,” Ginny said, standing next to her as she cashed out the latest client. “I’ve never done so many tattoos in such a short time.”

“It wasn’t always this way.”

Business had started picking up at the start of the New Year. It was more than welcome after a major lull before that. But by the end of January, Cori realized she and her only other employee, Asher, could not handle the workload by themselves anymore. Not to mention she was due to have a baby at the end of May and needed someone to cover for her while she took time off.

She’d interviewed several humans first, but none of them fit in well. Her criteria had been strict. They had to bring something new with their work that would attract a different set of clients, yet they couldn’t stand out in a way that would draw the wrong kind of attention, and they had to be tough enough to hold their own for those times when trouble brewed. In Fairbanks, Alaska—a haven for supernaturals—peace rarely lasted long, especially since the world had found out humans weren’t at the top of the food chain. There were beings far more powerful and dangerous out there.

After two weeks of interviews with no luck finding a new employee, Ginny had strutted her way through the shop door, arms covered in vine and flower tattoos. Her body was petite with curves that would turn any man’s head, and she had shoulder-length purple hair (her natural color) with light purple freckles on her fair cheeks. She definitely wasn’t human, which didn’t fit Cori’s rigid criteria. The pixie, a breed of fae, stood no more than 4’10” high and looked like a stiff breeze could knock her over. There was no way anyone would take her seriously or want her to work on them with her otherworldly appearance. Continue reading

Excerpt from Destined for Dreams

I know you all have been waiting patiently for the next installment in the Dark Destiny Series. In a few days, I’ll be doing the official cover reveal and announcing the release date (which is very soon, I promise!).  For now, I thought I’d go ahead and share the first two chapters of the novel.  Hope you enjoy!

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Chapter 1

 Bartol

When a man has too much time on his hands, and he’s trying his best not to think of a certain troublesome woman in his life, he must find some sort of distraction.  Over the last few weeks, while avoiding the aforementioned woman, Bartol had turned to an old hobby—one that came from a time before electricity and modern machinery—back in the days when a man used his bare hands and simple tools for crafting his work.  And if he did a reasonably good job, he might even make a little money for his efforts.  Carpentry had been his trade off and on for many centuries whenever he had the spare time or needed a little extra cash.

When Bartol had gotten the brilliant idea to start up his old hobby again, it had seemed simple enough.  Build a table, some chairs, perhaps a desk—easy.  Of course, he’d had to construct a workshop first since there was hardly enough space in his cabin, but that hadn’t been too difficult despite the cold Alaskan weather.  And as a nephilim—half angel and half human—who’d lived more than eighteen-hundred years, Bartol had the strength of dozens of humans to speed up the process.  It had kept him busy and helped keep Cori from his mind—the woman who’d become his bonded mate and then rejected him.

Bartol sighed deeply and ran a brush over the chair, staining the wood a deep russet color.  It would be beautiful when it was done, maybe his best work yet. Working his way over the high back, similar to the Victorian style, he recalled what had first driven him to learn such a trade.  It was, ironically, to impress women.  He didn’t impress them now, most especially his mate, with his scars and reclusive behavior, but at least the work served a more important purpose.

He’d discovered how much humans would pay for unique pieces, and he’d found someone in Fairbanks willing to sell the furniture for him to local customers as well as others across the country.  The first piece he’d put on the market, a desk, had netted him over a thousand dollars.  It was a start to rebuilding the fortune he’d lost while locked away in Purgatory for more than a century.  If one must be confined as a prisoner for a long period, it was a bad idea to do it just before the economy went into shambles and a recession started.  Most of his investments were lost, and he’d had no idea it was happening until it was too late.

So now Bartol was starting over and taking whatever jobs he could.  The archangels were paying him a fair wage for his assistance in training a young nerou crossbreed—Tormod—who had both angel and demon blood, as well as a little something else, but that job would run out in a few months.  He needed to have something else in place before then.

Plus, Bartol didn’t want to rely on the archangels any more than necessary, especially since they were the ones who’d confined him to Purgatory in the first place and caused him to lose nearly everything.  They might regret the severity of their punishment now that they knew he wasn’t as guilty as they’d thought, but it didn’t undo the damage.  Bartol had been tortured both physically and psychologically during that time and scarred for life.  He would never be the same man again, which was likely why Cori had rejected him.  She had to see he wasn’t worth her time or energy.

A shuffling noise came from just outside the workshop.  He’d almost missed it with the blowing wind hitting the walls and windows as yet another snow storm passed through.  If not for a wood-burning stove nearby, it would have been freezing inside.

Bartol stiffened and slowly turned on his stool.  Only a few people knew about this private escape deep in the woods, and none of them were expected.  Tormod had the day off to spend with his mother, no friends had mentioned dropping by for a visit, and Cori had yet to discover his shop since he’d constructed the building well out of sight from his cabin, and he hadn’t spoken to her since before it was built anyway.

As the door slid open, a large, muscular figure appeared with snow swirling around him.  His body blocked what little light was available on such a gloomy day as he entered the workshop.  It took a moment for Bartol’s eyes to make out the chiseled features of his oldest rival and closest friend.

“Caius,” he said, standing.  “It’s been a long time.”  More than two centuries, in fact.

The older nephilim chuckled and moved forward to stand under the solitary light bulb hanging from the ceiling.  “Too long.”

“How did you find me?”  Bartol hadn’t exactly advertised his current whereabouts to the supernatural world, considering all he wanted was solitude since returning to Earth.

“Word travels, my friend, especially after what you did to get yourself thrown in Purgatory.  People pay attention. Continue reading

Excerpt from Destined for Shadows

Those of you who are in Facebook fan group have gotten a couple of snippets already, but today I’m posting the first two chapters of Destined for Shadows.  I thought I’d hold off until now so you wouldn’t have long to wait until the rest of the novel came out.  Hope you enjoy!


Chapter 1

 Cori

Cori used to have a cranky old lady for a neighbor who nagged her incessantly about her numerous faults, but Ms. Callahan had recently been replaced by a cranky immortal with a lack of social skills who rarely made an appearance outside of his cabin.  She should have appreciated the change.  Truly, she should have been happy that her one and only neighbor for miles in the Alaskan wilderness kept to himself.  Except the immortal was half angel—also known as a nephilim—who’d just come from a hundred-year prison sentence in Purgatory.  And yeah, it was the same Purgatory from religious texts that most people thought was only a myth.  A place in some other plane of existence where souls were tortured for their crimes on Earth.

Bartol, the nephilim, needed someone to bring him out of his shell and show him how to live again.  Cori believed she was the right woman for the job.  Not that she was looking to get into a relationship or anything.  Neither of them was in a place where they were ready for that, but it didn’t mean she couldn’t give Bartol the kick-start he needed to get going again, and they could have a little fun along the way.  She liked focusing on other people’s problems, rather than her own.  Especially since her problems were in the past and not exactly fixable.

Cori headed for the kitchen, entering the only part of her two-bedroom cabin she’d remodeled since moving into the place a few years ago.  It had black marble counters, dark wood cabinets, and stainless steel appliances.  A window was set over the sink so she could view the forest behind her place and a bit of the blue sky above.  She loved cooking in the kitchen even if she had to eat alone most of the time.  Her regular customers at the tattoo studio would have never guessed she enjoyed preparing meals as much as permanently marking people’s skin with artwork.

The lasagna she’d baked sat cooling on the stovetop.  The aroma wafted from the dish, overwhelming her senses and making her stomach growl.  She grabbed a spatula, cut through the pasta, and scooped out a large chunk to put in a plastic container.  Then she took a few slices of the garlic bread she’d also made and put them into a plastic baggy.  Bartol would eat at least a couple of decent meals a week if she had anything to say about it.  Left to his own devices, he only ate baked potatoes or canned soup.  As a man who was born when the Roman Empire was still around, and who’d missed out on the biggest technological changes in modern history, he had a lot of catching up to do if he wanted to survive in this era.

After grabbing a pre-made bowl of salad from the fridge as the final piece of the meal, Cori put everything into a plastic bag and left the house.  Cool air touched her face as she stepped outside.  Though it was mid-September and the days were still long, autumn had already arrived to the Alaskan interior.  She had lived in the state her whole life and was used to the weather being colder than most other places.  Forty degrees might seem a bit cool to southern folks, but she had no problem wearing jeans and a tank top until it hit below freezing.

She carried the food bag as she walked down a narrow dirt road lined with evergreen trees.  The rutted path ran for about half a mile until it reached the highway.  Bartol’s cabin—a smaller one-bedroom place—wasn’t quite as deep in the woods as hers, but it only took a few minutes to reach.  She caught the smoke from the chimney before she saw the actual home.  Only during the warmest days of summer had she not seen it going.

According to Cori’s friend, Melena, the bowels of Purgatory where Bartol had been imprisoned were freezing cold.  The ice set into the bones of whoever stayed there, so that the inhabitants could never truly feel warm.  Melena had gotten over her stay fairly quickly, but she’d only been confined there a few months.  Bartol, whose stay was longer than most people’s life spans, acted as if anything below seventy degrees was too cold for him and kept his fireplace blazing day and night.  The poor guy probably should have moved to Florida, but his friends had talked him into living in Alaska instead.  He had a lot of catching up to do in the modern world, and at least here he could ease into it a little slower.

Cori skipped up the wooden steps to his front porch and knocked on the door.

No answer.

“Bartol!” she yelled.  “I’ve got dinner for you.”

Curses and grunts came from inside.  A minute later, the door flew open and an annoyed man with golden eyes filled the opening.  Cori couldn’t help dropping her gaze to his bare chest where he’d filled out over the past few months—mostly thanks to her cooking.  A healthy nephilim tended to be large and strong due to the angelic half of their DNA, but years of wasting away in Purgatory had left Bartol unnaturally lean.  He’d grown to a healthier weight recently, and his muscles were more defined now.  Black sweatpants covered his long legs, and he had a pair of thick socks on his feet.  For all that he complained about the cold, he didn’t like wearing shirts for some reason.  Cori didn’t mind that little quirk at all.

“Here.” She shoved the bag of food at him.  If she wasn’t brusque and demanding about it, he’d try to refuse her.  “I cooked more than I can eat again.”

Bartol took hold of the bag, sparing it a brief glance.  “Then why don’t you try cooking less?”

And the game resumed with him pretending a complete lack of interest in her food, but she wasn’t fooled.  The containers always appeared on her porch the next morning empty and freshly washed.  He liked her cooking, but he’d never admit it.

“Because most of my recipes were designed to feed a family.”  She didn’t dare admit she’d had a family once and that was how she’d picked up her love of cooking.  It wasn’t something she ever wanted to discuss, not even with her closest friends.

He narrowed his eyes.  “If you knew what was good for you, you’d stay away from me.”

“About the only thing I do that might be considered good for me is take long walks through the woods.”  With a rifle, just in case a bear or other wild animal made an appearance.  “Bringing food to you doesn’t even rate on my list of bad.”

He set the bag on a side table next to the entryway and braced his hands on the door frame, leaning closer to her.  “Look at me.  Do I look friendly or nice to you?”

Cori swallowed.  She had a knack for pretending not to notice the burn scars on the left side of his face.  If she ignored that half, he was stunningly beautiful, but if she stared at the part where a guardian from Purgatory had burned Bartol from his hairline down to his chin—only leaving the area around his eye intact—then his skin bordered on grotesque.  Everything from next to his nose to just before his ear appeared to have melted, begun to heal, and then got locked in place by some sort of magical spell.

That was the story she’d been told by others, anyway, since Bartol would never talk about it.  Nephilim could normally recover from any injury, but what happened to him was an exception to the rule.  His wounds couldn’t be fixed, and he would have to live with the scars for the rest of his life.  He didn’t even have the glamour capabilities some of his kind had to cover it up.  At best, he could make himself invisible, but then no one would notice him at all.  It was kind of sad since she had a feeling there was so much more to him that he kept hidden away.

“I see you,” Cori said, forcing herself to stare at the damaged half of his face.  He’d grown a light beard that obscured some of the scarring, but not all of it.  “So what?” Continue reading

Christmas with Dragons update

I just wanted to let everyone know I’m working hard to finish edits on Christmas with Dragons and expect to have it out by the end of the weekend (the 18th).  In the meantime, I wanted to go ahead and post the first chapter for you all to get started.

Hope you enjoy and that everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

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Chapter 1

 Bailey

 

I inched my way out of the bed, trying not to disturb the sleeping dragon lying next to me.  Even in his human form, he took up a lot of space with his legs sprawled across the mattress.  It made it that much more difficult to get around him, though I had to admit the sight of his toned, muscular body tempted me to stay.  Who knew a fire-breathing dragon could turn into a sexy man with olive skin, spiky black hair, and high cheekbones that gave his features a chiseled edge?  I might be genetically programmed to kill both shifter and pure dragons, but Aidan had somehow found a way around that problem and into my heart.

I touched my toes to the cool wood floor and expelled a light breath.  Almost there.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Aidan snaked his arm around my waist, dragging me back across the bed.

“Nooo,” I protested.  “I’ve got things to do.  It’s bad enough you made me sleep past noon!”

He’d gotten me to the point where I kept dragon hours, which meant I didn’t go to bed until almost dawn.  It was putting a cramp in my slaying activities since I liked to catch the beasts while they slept in their dens.  Aidan should have appreciated my strategy, considering I was killing his clan’s enemies, but our relationship was still new and he didn’t like letting me out of his sight very often.  At least, not since we started living together a couple of weeks ago.

“More important than me?”  He nuzzled my neck.

The spicy scent wafting from his hot skin was familiar and comforting, weakening my resolve.  I turned my head to find him staring at me with intense, yellow eyes.  “I’ve got to meet Trish in a little over an hour to go Christmas shopping.”

“Christmas shopping?” He lifted a brow.

“Well, yeah.”  I paused to search for the right words, considering we’d actually be looting stuff out of stores that hadn’t been open since the dragon apocalypse seven months ago.  Food, medicine, and products people used on a daily basis were mostly gone, but plenty of other stuff was still out there.  Norman—a suburb of Oklahoma City—was down to maybe forty percent of the population it once had, and among those left, people generally only took what they needed.  Traveling to get stuff and transporting it all home was too dangerous to grab many luxury items, especially since we didn’t have trash service anymore to get rid of the old stuff.  “It’s more like searching for gifts.”

He nodded.  “I have heard of this holiday called Christmas.  The humans at the fortress celebrate it each year after Dragomas, and our merchants enjoy great profits from both occasions.”

“What is Dragomas exactly?” I asked.  I’d heard him mention it to his sister recently when she came by our house—or lair as Aidan referred to it—but I hadn’t had a chance to ask more since I was on my way out at the time. Continue reading

First three chapters of Forged by Flames and a publishing update

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m running a little behind on getting through final edits.  It’s likely that I won’t be uploading Forged by Flames onto the retailers until sometime on Saturday (October 29th).  My apologies for the delay! For anyone who would like an alert once the novel is available, you can sign up for my release alert list here.  You are able to select which retailer/format you use so you’ll only get an email when the book is available with your preferences.

In the meantime, I’m providing the first three chapters of the novel for you to read while you wait.  Hope this helps 🙂

 

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Chapter 1

 Bailey

I clutched the steering wheel and searched for a threat, any threat. The last gasps of autumn were approaching now that November was almost over, which meant dragons on the west side of Norman, Oklahoma had been out in force searching for enough food to get them through the coldest days of winter when they’d be stuck in their dens semi-hibernating. Though there were still plenty of cows and wildlife in the nearby countryside outside of town, some of them had developed a taste for humans.

“Where in the hell are they?” I glanced over at my slaying partner, Conrad, who sat in the passenger seat of the truck. He held a loaded crossbow with the front aimed at the floorboard, ready to lift and shoot out the window if we came across danger. Conrad wasn’t flame-proof like me, but he could do some damage from a distance while I went after the dragons up close with my trusty sword. He’d been working out more too and building up his already toned muscles to give him that much more of an edge. The extra strength came in handy if he had to release a rapid succession of bolts or carry me to safety if I got badly injured during the fight.

The dark-skinned nineteen-year-old—wait, that’d be twenty since his birthday was two weeks ago—gave me a grim look. “You’ve killed so many of them, I’m willin’ to bet they’re hiding from you.”

I ground my jaw. “Only three this week and it’s Wednesday. I need to kill more.”

Conrad had no idea how much I needed it, considering the dark and deadly side of me was something I tried to keep well-hidden from my friends. Slaying was the only way to bring relief to the irrepressible instincts that drove me to attack dragons wherever I could find them. To a certain extent, I’d learned to control myself, but lately I hadn’t found many reasons to bother. The motivation to curb my killing desires had been for the sake of the red shifter dragons—some of whom I’d become allies with since they weren’t a threat to humans. I hadn’t seen much of them lately, though.

“Maybe we could address the big elephant in the room,” he said, arching a brow.

I stopped at an intersection and leaned forward in my seat, taking the opportunity to get a better look around for any fire-breathing beasts. “We’re in a truck—not a room.”

“You know what I mean, Bailey.”

I didn’t look at him or say anything. It was a topic I’d been avoiding for a while now.

“Ever since we rescued those kids you’ve been actin’ different. You’re all weird and cagey and shit. About the only time I see you smile is right after you kill a dragon.” Conrad ran a hand over his short tufts of hair that he’d started growing out recently. “Don’t think I didn’t notice this all started about the time Aidan stopped comin’ around.”

I stiffened. He wasn’t wrong, though Conrad wasn’t aware of the full story. No one knew that after we fought a major battle against the pure dragons at the Norman airport—to rescue a group of children and push the clan out of town—Aidan and I had met again later that night.

Fresh from battle and our blood still pumping, the attraction between us had been higher than ever. Aidan had also been working through his feelings because he lost his father—the pendragon—during the fight. They hadn’t been on the best of terms, which only made him feel worse. Alone in Aidan’s lair, we’d taken comfort in each other’s arms. It had been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and the scariest.

Considering he was a shape-shifter, a rare breed among dragon-kind compared to the pure beasts that outnumbered them ten-to-one in the world, and I was a slayer born to slaughter all fire-breathing creatures, it probably wasn’t the smartest move on our part. Still, it was one of those moments I’d remember forever.

We’d grown close over the months he’d been training me to slay his enemies—the pure dragons—and I’d learned to trust Aidan despite my instincts. In his human form, he could be more civilized than half the people I’d met since D-day (the arrival of the dragons) six months ago. Despite that, a relationship between us couldn’t work. I’d been doing my best to accept that the same way I had to accept fighting dragons for the rest of my life. Slayers didn’t get sick or age. They always died in battle and usually before they reached thirty. Every day I survived was a gift. I had to do everything I could to get back to my family in Texas before my slayer heritage got me killed. Aidan was the key to doing that, and I needed to stop thinking of him as anything more.

“The new pendragon is keeping him away,” I said, pressing on the gas pedal. The truck jerked forward, and we continued our way north on 36th Avenue.

“Yeah, I bet he did after he found out about you.” Conrad paused and narrowed his eyes at me. “But do you think the pendragon suspects you and Aidan are getting a little too close?”

I jerked the wheel, almost sending us off the road. It took a moment to get the truck under control again. “What are you talking about?”

“You ain’t foolin’ me, girl. You’ve got that whole angry and bitter vibe goin’ on. That’s the real reason you started spending almost every day out here huntin’ dragons—to avoid thinking about what you can’t have.”

I tensed, realizing Conrad was right. For those first few weeks, after I last saw Aidan, I stayed at his lair most of the time until the need to hunt dragons overwhelmed me. It hurt not being able to see him. Then Aidan’s sister, Phoebe, came by and told me her brother had been sent far away to patrol their clan’s borders. I’d realized I needed to stop fantasizing that there could ever be anything serious between us. My family needed me, and I’d nearly allowed my emotions for a dragon shifter to make me forget about the people I loved. If not for the giant chasm running parallel to the Oklahoma border with Texas, separating me from my mother and step-father, plus a huge clan of pure dragons who wouldn’t be easy to get past, I’d have gone home already.

“I know it can’t ever work,” I said, shooting Conrad a look. “So I don’t want to hear another lecture.”

His eyebrow raised in disbelief. “But do you really accept it?”

“It doesn’t matter what I accept. What matters is I know what I have to do,” my voice came out clipped.

I didn’t want to talk about this with him or anyone else. The more I discussed it, the more it bothered me—and not just because of Aidan. There were still days where I woke up surprised the world was filled with dragons, and that I was expected to slay them. Never mind that I might have begun to fall in love with one of the damn beasts. My future was never supposed to be like this. I’d just finished college when the apocalypse began and had meant to return home to my parents’ ranch to help them run it. Then my whole life spiraled out of control on that fateful day back in May. The only thing I could do now was keep slaying the beasts that were ruining the world and work on getting back to my family.

Conrad was quiet for a minute. “Alright. I’ll let it go, but only cuz you look miserable enough without me making it worse.”

I snorted. “At least you’ve got someone you can care about openly.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” he said, smiling at the mention of Christine. We’d rescued her and her daughter after a tornado struck Norman shortly after D-day. That was the beginning of her and Conrad’s relationship, though they’d gotten even closer after we rescued Christine’s daughter, Lacy, from a dragon that had kidnapped her and a few other human children in town.

“It’s good you have somebody,” I said, truly happy for him.

“Thanks,” he replied, then frowned and looked away.

“What is it?”

He shook his head. “Nothin’. Let’s just find some dragons for you to kill.”

That was strange. Conrad usually didn’t keep anything from me, but I wouldn’t push him for now. The tone of his voice made it clear he wasn’t ready to open up about whatever was bothering him.

“Okay, but I’m here if you need to talk.”

He glanced at me. “Yeah, I know.”

In the middle of the road ahead, a middle-aged woman with long, brown hair streaked with gray appeared out of nowhere. I slammed on the brakes, jerking us forward in our seats as the tires screeched across the pavement. The truck came to a stop about twenty feet from where she stood.

“I’m going to kill her,” I swore, rubbing the side of my neck where the seatbelt had dug into my skin.

Conrad slowly removed his clenched fingers from the dashboard. “Not if I get to her first.” Continue reading