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Keta Diablo: 5 Haunted Cities to Put on Your Bucket List (Contest — 2 Winners!)
Friday, October 12th, 2018

UPDATE: The winners are…Katherine Smits and Mary Preston!

First, thank you so much, Delilah, for hosting me on your blog. Much appreciated.

Since it’s Halloween month, I want to talk to you about ghosts and the five haunted cities you should put on your Bucket List (“Things To Do Before I Leave This Earth”).

Not long ago, I was browsing through my back list of books and came to a surprising realization—many of my books have ghosts between the pages. The translucent spirit is usually a secondary character (at least, so far – lol). I had to ask myself two questions: 1) Why do I gravitate toward writing about dead people… er, I mean those who have crossed over and, 2) Does it have anything to do with seeing them as a child? Yes, you read that right—I started seeing ghosts about the time I turned three years old.

My wonderful Mom, now 91 years young, will vouch for me. She remembers those days with excellent recall. Every night, I insisted there were little people sitting on the coving near the ceiling of our very old home. I remember being frustrated that she couldn’t see them like I could.

I still don’t know if that’s why I write about them but it’s an interesting theory, isn’t it?

Anyway, back to the haunted cities. If there’s any way you can get to these ghost-sighting places, you should really check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

1) Savannah, Georgia

It’s believed that Savannah was built on American Indian burial grounds, which goes hand-in-hand with hauntings. It was also the site of Revolutionary and Civil War battles and yellow fever outbreaks. Best-selling novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil boosted the city’s spookier side, putting such locales such as Bonaventure Cemetery on the national radar.

Or go the DIY route and take your pick of haunted restaurants, like The Pirate’s House or The Olde Pink House. If you’re brave enough, spend the night at a haunted hotel: Room 204 at the 1790 Inn & Restaurant is reportedly visited by a ghost named Anne. She can be heard crying after turning off the lights. The Marshall House was once used as a hospital during the Civil War and yellow fever outbreaks, and tales abound, from ghost children who bite to soldiers carrying severed limbs. Other majorly haunted sites include Moon River Brewing Company, which was the city’s first hotel in 1821, and featured in an episode of Ghost Adventures.

2) Washington, D.C.

The White House, The National Theatre and Hay-Adams Hotel are among the city’s haunted hot spots. Get the lowdown on its seedy past with Washington DC Ghost Tours, Scary DC or Washington Walks. However, The U.S. Capitol Building, which was built in the mid-1800s, is filled with specters, from construction workers to politicians (John Quincy Adams actually died there). In fact, there’s even a “demon cat” that appears right before national tragedies.

Historical hauntings also happen at The Octagon House. Dolley Madison, wife of president James Madison, lived there for a spell, and loved throwing parties; she’s sometimes seen in her party frock. Less happy occurrences in the mansion’s past include rumored murders and unexplained deaths. If you take a self-guided tour of the now museum, don’t be alarmed to feel cold spots on the staircase or hear knocking inside the walls.

3) Chicago

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 lasted two days and killed at least 300 people. However, even worse was the 1903 fire at the much-touted fireproof Iroquois Theater, which killed more than 600 people at an afternoon performance. In fact, the alley behind it has been nicknamed “Death Alley,” after those who jumped to their death to escape the fire. It’s also where recovered bodies were temporarily placed. The Oriental Theater now resides on the spot, and people have seen ghosts in period dress, heard screams and smelled smoke.

Try your luck by booking a room at the Congress Plaza Hotel, said to be overflowing with ghosts. Room 441 is believed to be among the most haunted, with a woman that shakes the bed, shadowy figures and projectile objects. Even scarier, there’s a sealed shut room with no doorknob on the 12th floor. You probably wouldn’t want to spend the night there anyway. Weird Chicago Tours and Chicago Hauntings cover more haunted spots around the city.

4) San Francisco, CA

The lawless gold rush period and the 1906 earthquake, which triggered a fire that killed at least 3,000 people, likely contributed to San Francisco’s haunted present. However, Alcatraz Island is also notoriously haunted. Tales of death, murder and insanity surround the prison that once held mobster Al Capone. You can visit at night for the chance to experience cold spots, whispering in empty cells and sounds of slamming doors. Learn about other haunted sites, from the USS Hornet to Chinatown, with San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour, Haunted Haight Walking Tour or SF Chinatown Ghost Tours.

Although about an hour from the city, it’s worth detouring to visit the Winchester Mystery House, whose history is just as fascinating as its hauntings. Long story short, a medium advised Mrs. Winchester to never stop building a house in order to prevent ghosts from haunting her. Mrs. Winchester took this to heart, and after 38 years of endless construction, the result was 160 rooms with baffling architecture, from doors that open into walls to staircases that don’t lead anywhere. Ironically, despite her efforts, Winchester is most certainly haunted; take a candlelight tour in October and watch out for lights turning on or Mrs. Winchester herself calling your name.

5) Portland, Oregon

At one point, Portland was considered one of the most dangerous port cities in the world thanks to prostitution, gangs, opium dens and gambling rings. One of the most persistent stories from this era is about the Shanghai Tunnels, which are underground tunnels that connected hotel and bar basements to the docks. Originally intended to transport goods from the waterfront, they’re rumored to be where hired hands in the 19th century would kidnap, or “shanghai” men to work as slaves on ships bound for Asia. Victims would be dropped into the tunnel via trapdoors found in bars and imprisoned in cells until their ship set sail. Some ghost tours such as Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour, Haunted Pub Tour, Hawthorne Ghost Tour and Shanghai Tunnels/Portland Underground Tours start at Hobo’s Restaurant, where there’s a basement entrance to the tunnels. Besides hearing screaming and crying, people report seeing Nina, a prostitute who met an untimely end at the bottom of an elevator shaft of what’s now Old Town Pizza.

Happy Ghost Hunting!

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I’d like to share an excerpt from my most recent book Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series. Several reviewers said the ghost scared the bejeebers out of them (although they loved the book).

Setup: Sutter (known as the shaman Yellow Smoke) confronts the ghost, Ten Wounds.


A haze of gray mist swirled around the spirit’s form, his human form. If the situation weren’t so serious, Sutter could have shouted with joy. He took in the ghost’s visage. A quiver hung from his shoulder, stocked with sharp, pointed arrows—a sign he’d transformed into the fierce warrior who once walked the earth. Steeped in blood (no doubt from his recent kills), his clothing hung in tatters around his massive frame—a vest made of animal hides, a breechcloth and fringed leggings. Sutter’s gaze traveled to his painted, pock-marked face. Yellow and white stripes marked his forehead and chin, and black circles blended into his dark eyes. For a brief second, Sutter’s insides quivered and ropes of tension knotted every cord and fiber of his body.

Bleary, unearthly eyes speared Sutter when the wraith raised a hand of claw-like fingers and pointed at his enemy’s chest. The wind, much like the sound of a thousand women wailing, keened into the deafening silence. Fire exploded from the ghost’s eyes—flames the fires of Hell couldn’t compete with.

Sutter shouted over the infernal noise and flames. “You are not welcome here! Hear my words, you are dead!”

Like a misty cloud of energy, Ten Wounds lurched forward, a staccato rhythm of hisses and howls spewing from his foam-drooling mouth. Sutter had never imagined such a demonic apparition.

Read More On Amazon

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Contest! Contest!

To qualify to win a luxurious, specialty bar of soap (from Keta’s favorite vendors) sign up for my Newsletter HERE and leave your email address in the comment section below. Two winners will be selected and the soaps mailed out several days after this post.

Thanks so much for visiting Delilah’s blog and reading about Comes A Specter, Book 2, in my Ghostland Series (Comes an Outlaw, Book 1) available HERE.

Alyssa Turner: Reverse Harem and Menage Romance
Thursday, October 11th, 2018

At the core, we are all animals. Our mammal DNA contains certain predispositions that cause our bodies and our brains to simply react. I’m no behavioral scientist, but I believe I’ve got some evidence to back this up. I, for one, will confess to being addicted to the sound of a rich, gravelly male moan, or the heavy rasp of a command dipped in arousal. I can literally binge on those sounds. If you’ve ever inspired these little pieces of ear candy from a guy, then I think you’ll know what I mean. Describing tasty bits of maleness in my books is an absolute must! Until, now I’ve only been able to imagine the sounds my characters make. Now that I have three titles in audio, the phenomenon is real!

Here’s a little experiment. Which of these clips get your inner kitty to purr?


Clip 1 is narrator Curt Bonnem as Hill from Four Real. He doesn’t know what that rasp in his voice does to Tricia, until she tells him.

[From Four Real] Coming to Audio in October

The air was sweet and thick with the smell of him. She closed her eyes and pressed her cheek against his thigh as he pushed his fingers into her hair. His scent comforted a place in her that always felt uncertain. He smelled like a cherished memory of something good she lost long ago, and she wanted to write the word “mine” across his chest so she’d never forget it.

She kissed the salty tip of his c**k and the hiss he exhaled vibrated through her body. Then, with wet lips, she caressed his engorged head.

“Fu****ck Teeee…” It was all he managed, but it was plenty. He loved her, and today she believed him.

Clip 2 is narrator Adam Riley portraying Jack in Swept. I must like the sound of a man saying the F word in the heat of passion.

[From Swept]

“Go ahead, Ror. Touch yourself. You earned it, sweetheart.”

Rory moaned from the other side of the table. Spencer couldn’t see her, could only smell her arousal mixing in the air with Jack’s scent. Jack pumped his c**k a few times and stopped. Spencer sensed a shiver run through him.

“Mmm, f*ck,” Jack whispered, clearly trying to maintain control. “Hey, baby, don’t you want something nicer than your fingers to get you off?”

“Yes, Sir. Please, Sir.”

Clip 3 is narrator George Orlando as Jack in Polished with that tone that snaps your head…yeah that’s the one.

[From Polished]

Jack placed his hand on Spencer’s neck, thrusting his hips forward as he did so. He grunted at him. “Look at me.”

Spencer raised his head, tearing his eyes away from the sight of both their c*cks sliding in Jack’s hand. The way Spencer’s breaths passed through his clenched teeth in short puffs made him feel like a steam engine ready to blow. His eyes narrowed, his gaze fixed on Jack, and Jack stared back with the same intensity. And that was what did it. He came like a bullet…

You can stream or download 6 chapters of Polished for free here!

Thanks to Delilah for having me over! If you’d like to hang, be sure to join my Facebook group The Vixen Room and sign up to my newsletter on my blog,

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Cynthia D’Alba: Two SEALs in Paradise (Contest)
Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Morning all! Cynthia D’Alba here. Hugs and kisses to DD to allowing me to invade her private space today. (Wow! Upon re-reading that last sentence, I realize that can be taken in a couple of different ways. Oh well. Whatever! HA)

I’ve taken A LOT of time off from writing during 2016, 2017 and 2018. Those who follow me in Facebook, you know all about my illness. Those whose do not, no biggie. That’s in the past. My point is I am finally back to writing. My brain can once again string together words. WOOT! Progress.

I have TWO (gasp) new releases coming in October. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

First up, Hot SEAL, Cold Beer – which released yesterday!

©Cynthia D’Alba 2018

Hot SEAL, Cold Beer is about a destination wedding, a blind date, and a SEAL who isn’t looking for love. Well, actually, my heroine isn’t looking either! Here’s a little more about the story…

Nicholas Falcone, aka Nikko, aka Falcon, is five months out from active SEAL duty, putting his pre-service accounting degree to use while going to law school at night. He’d love to take a vacation between semesters, but every buck is earmarked for his education. When a fellow accountant approaches him about his sister needing an escort for a destination wedding, Nikko jumps at the idea. With the wedding families footing the bill, what does he have to lose?

Surgeon Dr. Jennifer Pierce is still stinging from a broken engagement. Going to a destination wedding at the Sand Castle Resort in the Caribbean would be great if only her ex-fiancé and his new wife weren’t also attending. Her options are to find a date or not go, but not going isn’t really an option. That means letting her brother set her up with a guy from his accounting office…Heaven forbid. When did accountants start looking like this?

Amazon 📷
Barnes and Noble 📷
Apple/iBooks 📷
Add to Goodreads TBD! –

The second, Hot SEAL, Black Coffee, releases Oct. 23!

©Cynthia D’Alba 2018

Dealing with a sexy ex-girlfriend, a jewel heist, and a murder-for-hire can make an ex-SEAL bodyguard a tad cranky.

Trevor Mason accepts what should be a simple job…protect the jewels his ex-girlfriend will wear to a breast cancer fundraiser. As founder and owner of Eye Spy International, he should send one of his guys, but he needs to get his ex out of his system and this is the perfect opportunity to remind himself that she is a spoiled, rich debutante who dumped him with a Dear John letter during his SEAL training.

Respected breast cancer doctor Dr. Risa McCool hates being in the limelight for her personal life. Her life’s work is breast cancer treatment and research, which she’d rather be known for than for her carefree, partying debutante years. She agrees to be the chairperson for the annual breast cancer fundraiser even though it means doing publicity appearances and interviews, all while wearing the famous pink Breast Cancer Diamond for each public event. The multi-million dollar value of the pink stone requires an armed bodyguard at all times.

Past attractions flame, proving to be a distraction to the serious reality of the situation. When Risa and the millions in diamonds go missing, nothing will stop Trevor from bringing her home, with or without the jewels.

Here are the preorder links. Order both and I’ll publicly thank you on Facebook and Twitter! Seriously, I don’t usually do preorders so this makes me nervous!


Now, if you’re STILL with me, THANK YOU. (Breathes sigh of relief!)

Leave a comment here on the blog to be in the running for a prize TBD by the winner!

AND here’s all are my online homes where we can visit!

Tell me a story… (Contest)
Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

UPDATE: The winner is…Katherine!

HookHere’s a quick reminder that this story releases ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! It’s fun, fast, sexy–and features a disabled vet! If you haven’t yet ordered your copy, here’s where you do it: HOOK

I have an insane schedule to keep up with this week (finish a book, finish another author’s edits, clean my office!, clean the cat box!!), so today’s post is short, and you get to do all the work! To give you a teeny bit of incentive to play, I’m offering a prize. Have fun!


See the picture? I’m putting this pic out there for you to think about. You can offer a simple one-sentence idea or paint an entire paragraph of a story. Have fun with it. I won’t be judging your idea!!! I’ll choose one winner who can pick an ebook copy of any of my recent releases! Now, go!

Viviana MacKade: How to Kill an Author in 7 Questions
Monday, October 8th, 2018

Meeting and introducing myself to new people is always a struggle. I’m not really a people person, I’m rather shy and, more days than not, I have a bad disposition. But now, as the age of 40 is not on the far horizon anymore, I can say I’m not as bad as I used to be. I can ever stretch it to enjoying meeting new people. Of course, those new people I come to meet have passed my husband’s first approval, and I’m more inclined to know them.

Still, the moment inevitably comes when they ask the question. Defining and unavoidable. And with the potential of crushing an Author’s ever-fragile self-esteem.

“What do you do for a living?”

What happens next can make or break a writer’s night (and the next few days, the time it takes to snap out of it).

To be clear, this is not a post about how an Author survives it. It’s a half-serious guide on “How to Kill an Author in 7 Questions.” The hope behind it is that nobody asks these anymore (yeah, right).

Oh, and BTW, some of the following apply to Romance Readers as well! Who’s never hidden a romance book because she/he didn’t want to get caught with it? Or lied and said she/he read only Chaucer and Hemingway?

So, here it is.

– Are you making any money?
Sure, a truckload. Artists of any kind are known for how much money they make.
Why it hurts: Because we’re not making money, man. At least, not enough to survive with it. So we have other jobs to keep us physically alive, while something inside us dies because we can’t give our art all we’ve got. Thank you for reminding me, asshat.

– Aw, that is so sweet.
Is it? Really? I think making pink cupcakes with a rainbow frosting and a glittery top is sweeter, but whatever.
Why it hurts: because there’s nothing sweet in doing it. There are blood and pain (not literally, but it just as bad) and tears. And the tone in which is usually said implies that it’s a very nice thing we like to do when we have time to spare. You know, between farting glitter and sweating honey. Because it’s so sweet.

– Nice, but what is your job?
At that, I usually retreat into A) making up a profession – don’t use this strategy if you know you have to see this person again. B) I say I’m a homemaker – don’t use this option if you have already guessed you’re talking with a stupid snob who thinks only a job outside from the house deserves recognition. C) Go with the truth, which is also why it hurts 
Why it hurts: Because it is our job. Even if it’s not what we exclusively do for an actual living, it still feels like our job. The most important one, as far as jobs go, and one worthy of being taken seriously.

– Nice, your husband must be happy.
The implication here is that because I write romance, and romance has sex in it (as life does), then I’m either an insatiable beast under the sheets, one that knows every little bit of the Kamasutra, or a famished maid (in the sense that I don’t get any, despite being married and all)

– Oh, you write Romance.
I do.
Why it hurts: Because the genre is always, and has always been, seen as a second-class genre. Never mind all the research that often goes into it (I’m looking at Historical, but also suspense and pretty much all of them). The effort. Never mind the message of empowered women and smart, good men. It’s still not literature. It’s still not serious enough.

I hope this will help some! Is any of those situations happened to you, either as a Romance Reader or Writer? How did you react?

Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to hearing your stories about it.

His Midnight Sun

Tormented, fierce, and broken, sculptor Aidan Murphy has judged himself guilty. He yearns for love but pushes everyone away. He longs for acceptance but has lost the key to open his heart. Until he meets Summer Williams. Beautiful and smart, Dr. Williams promises haven for a man who believes he deserves none. All he has to do is let her in and risk his heart and soul.

Summer’s managed to keep her inner light alive, even through tragedy. She’s created a new life for herself and her daughter in Crescent Creek with loving, caring and fun friends–well, except brooding, breathtaking Aidan. She’s used to keeping away from his type, though. All she has to do is ignore the pull of a man who’s turning up to be much more than snarls and storms. Will her compassion and medical instincts let her?

Love can heal a broken soul and shake up a timid heart. Or it can unleash devastation and revenge.

Will Aidan and Summer survive the hurricane?

5 Star Read
FREE with KU

Get your copy here!

About the Author

Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.

Find Viviana:
On her website | On FB | On Twitter
Amazon Author page

Susan A. Royal: Texas Slang
Sunday, October 7th, 2018

I’m a Texan. And proud of it. You know the old saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas”? Folks here don’t just say what it is, we illustrate it. We don’t get thirsty, we get “so dry we’re spitting cotton”. We’re not busy, we’re “busy as a one-armed paper hanger. Weather is “hotter than a summer revival” or colder than a well-digger’s knee (or other parts of the anatomy). If we feel like someone is dishonest, we “wouldn’t trust him any farther than we could throw him,” because none of us “fell off the turnip truck yesterday.”

If my grandmother shivered involuntarily, she “bucked a rigor”. Instead of swearing out loud and getting switched with a peach tree limb, my uncle muttered “GARDEN SEED” whenever he got angry. At the end of a lecture, my mother always told me to “put that in your pipe and smoke it.” If someone came to visit, my grandfather sometimes said, “Well, look what the cat dragged in.”

I never questioned this colorful slang until I started writing. Some people love it. Some people don’t like it at all. They consider it cliché. Or they don’t know what it means.

My next book will be about girl who lives in present day deep east Texas, and I hope to use some of the colorful sayings I love the most. Either people won’t “cotton to it” or it will work “slick as a whistle”.

Susan A. Royal
Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)
In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
Book trailer
Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
Book trailer
All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

About the Author

Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan shared a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town with a singing ghost for years. Now she lives in the country.

Mother of three and grandmother of six, she comes from a family rich with characters, both past and present. Susan’s grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned all about growing up in the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.

Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On, and is working on book three. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA fantasy with romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.

Want to know more? Visit for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.

Meet Hook
Saturday, October 6th, 2018

It’s too early in the morning for me to be getting the giggles, but I just re-read my title. Don’t get it? Say it out loud now. LOL! Get it? Okay, I’m over it. Or maybe I’ll wait until I have this little bit written then I’ll go back and laugh again.

I’m still finishing up Hook. But it’s coming very, very soon (October 16th!). I’m sharing a snippet from the opening. I love my bounty hunter openings. I always try to introduce the heroes as they’re right in the middle of the action, taking some skip down. Hope you enjoy meeting Hook!



Former Army Ranger, Dylan “Hook” Hoecker, has a new job along with a new prosthetic arm. Being a bounty hunter is the closest career field he could find as a civilian that gives him the adrenaline rush that is his addiction. So, when his first solo assignment is to keep an eye on a flight risk the boss bonded out of jail, he’s not thrilled. However, he soon discovers a fresh addiction—one mouthy, nerdy redhead, who resists his attempts to keep her out of trouble.

Felicity Gronkowski is grateful for the bone the head of Montana Bounty Hunters threw her. She didn’t have the money to pay for bail, but he has a soft spot for former soldiers, and she bartered to install a new computer system in his satellite office in Bear Lodge. Being on the outside of jail was her first imperative because she has to figure out who framed her for a series of high-end robberies while she worked installing home security systems. However, her bounty-hunting babysitter isn’t giving her any slack. Every time she thinks she’s given him the slip, he’s one step ahead of her. Either she must find the perfect method of distraction to escape him or she has to enlist his help.

Pre-order  your copy here!

Dylan “Hook” Hoecker had no problem keeping pace with Dagger and Cochise as they raced along the dark alleyway, following the skip they’d tracked to a gun shop in Libby. Scooter James had made the crew the moment Dagger entered the premise. Perhaps it was Dagger’s burly physique that had tipped him off, or maybe he was just nervous having three intense-looking dudes enter the store, but he’d run for the back exit.

No, Hook’s legs had never been an issue. He ran like the wind, easily leaping over a barrel Scooter dumped on its side, hoping to trip them. Beside him, Dagger cursed, and Hook couldn’t help smiling as the big guy went down. This skip was his. When he reached the end of the alley, Scooter veered left and ran through a stand of motorcycles, tipping over one, which sent the rest slowly falling like dominoes. Bikers sitting at outdoor café tables nearby rose and filled the street, shouting and moving toward their Harleys, forcing Cochise and Hook to push past them.

Cochise went down when one biker stuck out a foot, perhaps angry that their chase had scratched his ride.

Hook waved his prosthetic arm, which, sometimes, had even those who weren’t so tight with the law pausing and giving him a break. He didn’t mind one bit using his disability to give him an advantage. He shouted out a “Thanks, man,” when one biker rolled his bike forward to clear his path.

Now, it was just him following the slap of Scooter’s Adidas on the pavement. Hook paced himself, forcing himself to keep his breathing even so he’d outlast his target. He didn’t use every bit of his strength to close the gap, because he knew he’d need anything extra to take the fucker down once he began to slow.

In his mind, Hook thanked his physical therapist, who’d concentrated on helping him make the adjustment to his new circumstance, learning to use his prosthetic, but who also continued to meet him on the track three or four mornings a week to make sure he worked out the rest of his body to help, not only keep him toned for the work he did, but to keep his dark moods at bay. Raydeen Pickering was a hero in his mind, because she went the extra mile for every man and woman she accepted into her treatment program.

Ahead of him, Scooter ducked into another alley.

“He’s turned again,” he said, knowing the others could hear him through the radio in his earpiece. “Left, into an alley.”
“I’m behind you,” Cochise said. “Don’t let him out of your sight.”

“I’m cutting through another alley. Will try to get to the street before he does,” Dagger said in his ear.

Hook went left and entered an alley lit by a single golden bulb at the back door of a restaurant. He ran past rank-smelling trash bins and plastic bags but didn’t see his mark ahead. “Don’t see him,” he said, and then slowed and turned.

Something dark swung at his head, and he held up his right arm to deflect the blow from a two-by-four from a pallet, no doubt. But the board hit plastic and metal and bounced off. Hook swung under it with his left, catching Scooter in the chin. Their target dropped like a sack of rocks across a row of trash bags lined up on the dirty, smelly pavement.

Hook stood over Scooter, shaking his left hand because it hurt like hell. Then he noted that his prosthetic dangled kind of funny. He tried to open and close the claw, but apparently, Scooter’s blow had damaged the cable. “Fuck,” he said, and gave Scooter a light kick in the side. “Bastard.”

The sounds of two individuals converging on him from different directions forced him to contain his anger and tuck his prosthetic against his body to hide the damage. The last thing he ever wanted to have happen was for one of these guys to think he was less capable of mixing it up. For the most part, he thought of his arm as an advantage in a fight. Metal hit harder than flesh and bone, and, generally, it could sustain a punch much better, too.

Thankfully, he kept a spare in his vehicle. He just had to get there. But first things first.

Scooter moaned from the ground as Cochise then Dagger came to a halt beside him and stared downward.

“Like we tried to tell you before you ran like a scared rabbit,” Hook said to Scooter, “we’re fugitive recovery agents, and we’re taking you to jail.”

Scooter pushed up on an elbow. “What the hell is that smell?”

Dagger sniffed. “Don’t know, but now I’m hungry. Could be chili.”

“I think it’s stew,” Cochise dead-panned. “Benny’s Eats makes a mean beef stew.”

“Shit, it’s all the way up my shirt,” Scooter said as he sat, rubbing his jaw.

“Well, looks like you’ll have something to snack on during the drive back,” Dagger drawled.

Scooter let out a huff. “Goddamn. My car, man. I left it at the gun shop.”

“You’ll just have to pick it up from impound,” Dagger said, “if the judge is stupid enough to let someone bond you out again.”

Hook reached down his left hand to help Scooter to his feet.

Scooter frowned. “Damn, you wearing armor on your arm? My teeth about rattled out of my head when I hit you.” Then he glanced at Hook’s metal claw. “Well, shit. That explains a lot.”

Hook reached for his handcuffs from the pocket on the back of his web belt. When he pulled them forward, he realized he wasn’t going to be able to cuff him, not one-handed.

Cochise held out his hand. “Let me do the honors.”

Hook pressed his lips together and handed him his handcuffs. If he’d been on his own, he’d have managed, somehow, but he might have had to put Scooter back on the ground first. He hadn’t quite mastered the single-handed snap using his left hand. Everything was harder to master with his left. Maybe he should ask Raydeen to add handcuffing to the everyday tasks he worked on improving.

Once Cochise had Scooter restrained, he stood back and let Hook grip Scooter’s upper arm to take him back to their vehicles.

The walk back was interminable. They passed the bikers who shot them birds but otherwise stayed pretty mellow. Back at the gun shop, Lacey, Dagger’s partner, gave a wave to the shop owner and sauntered their way. She’d canvassed the businesses in Libby days ago, leaving cards. No doubt the middle-aged owner had been only too eager to snitch, because then she’d grace his shop again. Dressed in skin-tight jeans and a pink button-down blouse that she’d knotted at her midriff, Lacey looked like a sweet confection. All that was missing was the powdered sugar.

“Hey there, Scooter,” she said. Then she shook her head and held her nose. “Good Lord, he is not riding in our vehicle.”

Hook grunted. “You can ride with me. I’ll even let you drive.”

Lacey might have looked like a cupcake, but she was one sharp cookie. Her gaze went to the arm he’d tucked close to his body, and she gave him a broad smile. “Dagger, you don’t mind if I ride with Hook, do you? I’ve never had the chance to talk with him alone.”

Dagger narrowed his eyes.

Lacey gave him a blinding smile. “See you back in Bear Lodge! Only you’ll be way later than us,” she said, then held her nose again and gave him a wink.

Cochise chuckled. “Come on, Scooter. You’ve got a new date with a judge. Bet if you sweet talk your jailers, they’ll let you have a shower before they put you in your cell.”