UPDATE: The winners are… Delaine McLafferty, Misty Dawn Cecil, and Elaine Swinney!
Besides my series, I have written some very sexy standalone stories, too! I forget about them because I’m so busy trying to keep up with series, but I shouldn’t. In fact, I should go back and look at my workplan, because I deserve to write something completely fun and one-off!
If you haven’t read the books below, now’s your time to peruse, and I’m including an excerpt from one of them so you can sample some of the fun. Several of them are menage stories, so if that’s your thing, be sure to check them out!
For a chance to win your choice of one of the books below,
tell me your weekend plans!
Click on any cover to learn more about the story!
Excerpt from Handy Men…
The impulse came like a flash of lightning—hot and searing—all the way to the bone. An idea born of a need she hadn’t felt in a long, long time…and inspired by one red-hot handyman in butt-hugging jeans and a snug T-shirt.
The man fired the militant gleam in her eyes as she brushed bronzing powder across her cheeks and swiped carmine “eat me” red lip stain across her mouth.
She didn’t give herself time to rethink the decision, reaching for the phone before her usual, cautious self reasserted control. No more couch potato cry-ins for her. No more self-imposed exclusion while she figured out what to do with the rest of her life. Today, a new Pamela Dwyer was reaching for the goddamn gusto.
The anger felt good. Especially after the shock she’d received moments ago when she’d surfed the internet for the latest gossip about her ex.
One glance at Andrew’s Facebook page, and Pamela’s confusion over what the hell had happened to her life dried up. He’d blocked her from his page, but his profile picture had been changed from Andrew’s handsome, craggy face to the soft innocence of his newborn son’s.
The picture said it all. And no doubt every one of their friends here in Austin, who’d rallied around her when he’d left, would now pour out their congratulations to him, while privately agreeing he’d done the only thing he could do to be happy.
Tears had stung her eyes, but she’d refused to let them fall. Instead, she’d blinked them away, closed out the screen and glanced through the blinds at her immaculate lawn. The perfect lawn and landscaping to surround the perfectly appointed house she’d won in the divorce settlement.
But back to that lightning strike…
Across the street, a man had stood atop a ladder while he fished leaves from old Mr. Johnson’s gutters. It wasn’t the fact the old man had spent money to hire someone to do odd jobs around his place that caught her attention, although that was plenty unusual all by itself. It was the way the sunlight glinted on the younger man’s hair. Glints of gold she could see from over thirty feet away. And once her attention was snagged by that halo-like glow, her gaze couldn’t help but trail down the long, lean, buff lines of his healthy frame.
From the back, the man was perfection. Then he’d turned to the side, no doubt to say something to Mr. Johnson who hovered at the bottom of the ladder. The old skinflint would supervise the handyman to make sure he got every nickel’s worth of his money. However, not a hint of irritation showed in the handyman’s expression. His smile had been quick—a flash of white teeth against a tanned face.
Pamela had breathed deeply, enjoying the surge of heat flowing through her veins. So much better than the cold, hollow feeling in her womb. Arousal had bloomed, fresh and unexpected, washing over her, lapping away the disappointment. Leaving her…expectant. Feeling younger than her thirty-eight years.
There were times in a woman’s life when she had to grab the bull by the horns or she’d never taste passion again. Pamela decided then and there that her time was now.
Twenty minutes later, the doorbell chimed.
Christ, do I really have the guts? She’d had twenty minutes to get icy cold feet.
She held her hand in front of her face and blew against her palm then sniffed. Mouthwash still works.
Before opening her door, Pamela bent over, shook her head then straightened, giving her straight blonde hair an extra fluff. She pasted on a smile—not too wide or eager—one she’d practiced in front of the bathroom mirror to make sure it reflected just the right amount of casual interest. She didn’t want to scare him away. At least not before she had a chance to practice being a femme fatale.
However, after opening the door, her smile faltered just a bit. Up close, the repairman was more of a rangy lion than a bull, and even more attractive than her secretive glances through the blinds had revealed. Thickly muscled arms and a broad chest stretching a green Handy Men tee filled her vision.
Maybe she should have targeted someone more in her league—and at least fifteen years older. However, when she’d seen him working on the rain gutters of her neighbor’s house and watched the way he moved gracefully up and down the ladder, a plan had begun to form. One she was too invested in to back out of now.
“Your neighbor said you were havin’ trouble with a garbage disposal?”
Good Lord, his voice was deep and sinful. Her greedy glance shot up to meet his, and she noted the crinkles of amusement at the sides of his eyes. Blue eyes with golden coronas around the pupils. Yum.
Realizing her mouth hung open, she snapped her jaw closed. “Uh, yes. Trouble with the disposal. That’s why you’re here.”
It was the truth, so she didn’t stutter over it. However, she didn’t mention she’d thrown a handful of screws into the sink to make sure the old disposal seized. Her plan to lure him into her house was working like a charm. She wished her ex could see her now. Plain Pam, reliable Pam, boring, defective Pam had a few tricks left.
“I’m Jeff McCaffrey,” he said, and held out his hand.
Blowing out a little breath to release her tension, she gave him her hand and shook. “Pamela,” she said quickly.
His palms were callused and large. She slid her hand slowly from his, enjoying the scrape. Even if things didn’t work out, she’d have plenty of sensory details to savor later to go along with the lovely picture he made.
“Um…” He lifted the toolbox with a flex of impressive biceps and raised his eyebrows.
It took a second to register that he needed her to move away from the door. Feeling flustered, she stood back and waved him inside. She closed the door behind him and followed eagerly on his heels into the hallway.
He halted abruptly.
Unable to stop her forward momentum, Pamela held out her hands to brace herself—and cupped his ass.
His head swiveled to glance back at her, a slight, dazed smile curving his mouth.
She paused a second too long before removing them, but it was his own damn fault. His ass was too much temptation for her to resist a little squeeze. “Sorry about that,” she muttered, palms and face burning. Lord, she was thirty-eight, and he had her blushing like a teenager. Her flirting skills were woefully rusty.
He cleared his throat and pointed toward the door on the left. “The kitchen?”
“Yeah,” she said, sounding a little winded, but her fingers tingled and her skin felt on fire. She hadn’t wanted to come on to the younger man like a cougar in heat, but he was fine-fine-fine.
He swung open the door and walked to the counter, where he set his toolbox beside the sink. “What sort of noises was it makin’?”
“Crunchy?” His lips twitched.
She shrugged. He was the “Mr. Fix-It”. He’d figure out soon enough what the problem was. Maybe he’d think the screws in the disposal had gotten there by accident.
He reached beneath the cabinet next to the sink and flipped the switch.
Metallic grating made her wince. The poor thing ground worse than her ex’s teeth.
Without looking back, he said, “Don’t touch the switch. I don’t have my tongs, so I’m gonna stick my hand down there to see what’s happenin’.”
In his hand went, and he turned slightly to the side, his gaze meeting hers while a frown drew his honey-brown brows together. When he pulled free, he held a screw. “Wonder how that happened?” he drawled.
She grinned brightly. “Serendipity?”
So maybe not a brain surgeon, or even much of a reader, but the calculated stare he returned told her he wasn’t stupid. He pulled out another and laid it on the countertop, and then another. “Somethin’ you wanna tell me, Pamela?”
Click on the covers to learn more about these stories!
Have you read the books in my Beaux Rêve Coven series? The covers are gorgeous, aren’t they? (Thanks, sis!) If you love witches and trolls and werewolves and vampires, and…well, all those lovely beings who inhabit paranormal worlds, you won’t want to miss these stories. I have two more books planned in the series, and hope to get them both out before the end of the year. In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt from Wolf Moon Rising, and comment below for a chance to win a copy of one of the BRC books!
Wolf Moon Rising
In Jefferson Parish, deep in the bayou, is a place called Bonne Nuit. Off the beaten path, isolated by swamp and connected to the sea, there the Beaux Rêve Coven thrives.
Five witches…Too many demons to count…
Aoife is the flightiest of the sister witches, and she has a secret, one her mother warned her to keep close to her heart. Her father was a fairy—which explains her quirkiness and her affinity for flowers. She lives in a cabin on stilts that juts into the bayou, and one of her demon guardians is a werewolf. She’s attracted, but how would he feel if he married her, fathered a child, and that child disappeared into the land of the fae? Desperate to find a solution to her dilemma, she flees her guardian’s protection. Her last hope is to enlist her father’s help. Plead her case. Her happiness, and that of her one true love, Sigurd, depends on whether she can escape this fairy curse.
For Sigurd, acting as guardian to the witch, Aoife, was both a blessing and curse. A blessing, because he’d never known anyone as innocent and pure, and a woman who truly didn’t know her own allure. A curse, because he had to guard her against his own lustful nature.
And again, he was thankful two other demons were assigned the protection detail, because more than anything, he wanted her kept safe. However, he was equally annoyed at having two competitors for her affection.
Of course, many more among the demons living around Bonne Nuit aspired to hear the “echo” of their bonding with a witch. Such a bonding brought power to the lucky demon—and demons were greedy about that sort of thing. They frequented Aoife’s small cabin poised on long stilts above the bayou on the flimsiest of excuses. One needed a fragrant oil to help him sleep. Another needed a healing balm to soothe a bruise. And they were constantly underfoot in her garden and her workshop, interfering more than helping—at least, to his mind.
However, Aoife appeared blissfully unaware of the males’ attempts at garnering her exclusive attention. Her radiant smile flashed indiscriminately upon her pursuers, never mind their unsuitability as possible mates. And despite the fact they’d done nothing to earn the right to call her wife.
Unlike Sigurd, who suffered her proximity and who stood ready to serve her in any way she pleased. Who quietly stood guard over her while she slept, losing his sleep and his pride because she slumbered so soundly, completely unaware of his constant state of arousal.
Sigurd wasn’t naturally a patient man, but he had withstood the torture of being close day in and out for seven months. He was nearing his breaking point. If something didn’t happen soon, he would press their leader, Ethan, to ask his pretty wife for help. Bryn liked him well enough, always turning to give him a wink when “family” dinners took place, and one of Aoife’s admirers fought for the privilege of sitting at her side. Sigurd preferred to sit across from her at the table anyway—the better to glower at his competition. And perhaps raise a lip in a menacing snarl.
Bryn seemed to be in his corner. Perhaps she would be eager to see her sister witch settled. If something didn’t change soon, he’d speak with her.
On this evening, Sigurd wore his wolfskin and lay curled on the wooden floor beside Aoife’s bed. Just before she’d begun softly snoring, she’d reached down and scratched behind his ears. Probably not an act she was even aware of doing. She was kind to all creatures and seemed especially fond of his wolf form, sometimes taking a brush to his fur or giving him a bath in the large metal tub on the porch. He lived for those moments.
He shook his head in disgust. What a sorry excuse for a wolf he was. Wolves weren’t pets. They were pack animals who needed to belong to a family and a mate. A male needed to dominate his bitch, but he didn’t think Aoife would ever agree to be his bitch.
However, the thought did stretch his wolf’s mouth into a feral grin. He laid his head atop his paws and settled with a disgruntled whine.
Minutes passed, and he was nearly drifting off to sleep when the bed creaked and feet softly lowered to the floor. He perked his ears and pushed up to peer over the mattress, just in time to see Aoife slip through her bedroom door.
He followed, freezing when her steps paused, ducking behind corners when she glanced around. Something was afoot, and his hackles rose when she reached for her cloak and a small bag from the hook beside the front door.
Was she meeting a lover? Or were the witches gathering in secret? Somehow, he doubted the latter because Bryn was very pregnant and couldn’t slide gracefully from Ethan’s bed. And Miren would have to escape three mates, and that could never happen. Which reminded him, where the hell were the other two guards?
When Aoife opened the door and crept outside, closing it behind her, he drew up short. He hadn’t considered how he would exit the house, so he quickly shook free of his wolfskin and strode onto the porch. His glance went to the steps at the side of the porch, but then a sound, a soft splash, pulled his gaze to the canal flowing past her porch. She’d taken a boat. The fact she was already on the water meant she’d been in a hurry.
What the fuck?
Footsteps sounded from inside the house. A door creaked open then slammed shut. So much for stealth. Hamdir, also a wolf, walked to his side, scratching his chest. “Where’s the witch? I was sleeping on the couch. Thought you were watching her.”
“I was.” I watched her escape. “Go back to bed. I have this handled.”
“Sure about that?” Hamdir yawned. “Don’t know how you aren’t dead on your feet. You really ought to let us have turns inside her bedroom.” His large hand patted Sigurd’s shoulder. “Driving to New Orleans in the mornin’, or I’d join you on this hunt,” he said with a waggle of his eyebrows.
His gaze followed Hamdir as he stepped back inside. Their group had grown complacent since Ethan defeated the council’s champion in battle and no retribution had been settled upon their unbanded group. Most presumed the mere presence of so many demons, concentrated in their small town, was deterrent enough to rogue demons seeking to steal a witch for a mate.
Sigurd was reminded he’d have to enlist another guard from among the bachelor demons during Hamdir’s absence.
A cool wind wafted against his skin, raising chill bumps. Early Winter in the bayou was mild, but he couldn’t easily follow Aoife on foot. Instead, Sigurd shifted again and fell to his paws. With a single quick yelp, he leapt past the stairs to the bank. Lifting his nose to the breeze, he followed Aoife’s delicious witch’s scent through the murky, shadowed bayou. If he startled a gator, the bastard better move out of his way.
Aoife drew her paddle into the pirogue and stepped out onto the bank. She hadn’t rowed far, but she worried that her guardians would notice she’d eluded their watch. And that couldn’t happen. Tonight, she needed privacy to commune with the moon, and perhaps, coax a stubborn door to open.
As she stepped into the thick forest, she drew deep, calming breaths. She crushed the carnation she’d secreted into the bag inside the pocket of her cloak and whispered a quick, ineloquent spell.
“Goddess, though I walk alone,
your moon’s rays light my way.
Let nature’s bounty, your gift to us but still your own,
do no harm or deter me along my way.”
Despite her prayer, she glanced around the deepening darkness and hoped she’d recognize the tree when she saw it. The canopy above her allowed only dapples of moonlight through to the forest floor. She’d found the oak only days ago when she’d been searching for moss for a fairy house she was constructing to sell online. No one else would have noted it. The tree was old. Its bark thick and rugged. Although shorter and squatter than the lovely old oak in the open field the witches used for their rituals, this one appeared ancient—much more suited to her task. When she’d rapped on its bark to awaken its spirit, she’d felt the old oak shiver its branches and sensed its anger at her intrusion. Only a grouchy old oak would serve her purpose.
With the picture of the squat oak in her mind, she reached into her right pocket and crushed the dried honeysuckle there, letting its sweet aroma rise around her, and sought the oak with her other sight.
When she again opened her eyes, moonlight gleamed brighter straight ahead. She plunged forward but didn’t note the vine on the forest floor. Her foot snagged and sent her toppling to the ground. As she pushed upright, she thought she heard something rustling in the bushes. Not a small animal. Suspicious, she narrowed her gaze and stared in the direction of the sound, sure a certain wolf with better night vision than she had stared right back.
She waited, listening, but when no other sounds intruded, other than the rustling of dried leaves above, she continued her way. If Sigurd were trailing her, he would already have made his presence known. He was forever standing in her path, forcing her to raise her gaze to his. In those moments, she felt as though her lungs constricted, and her voice got very small. She wasn’t exactly intimidated, because she knew he’d never harm her, but his size and steady, all-seeing gaze looked right through her. Like he could read her mind. Which was impossible. Still, she found deceiving him very hard, which was why she’d decided to sneak away in the dead of night. As soon as he’d fallen asleep, she’d crept from the house. Yes, she’d heard the slam of a door in the distance, but she’d been well around the bend in the canal. No, he couldn’t have tracked her so quickly to this part of the woods. If she was successful, he wouldn’t arrive at her destination until it was already too late.
It was well past time she should have had this conversation, and secrecy was of the utmost importance. This situation wasn’t something she could talk to her sisters about. They’d be hurt, because she’d never divulged the truth in all their long acquaintance, despite their shared travails. This secret burned a hole in her belly and made her lose sleep. Worse, it kept her from Sigurd. She could never agree to be his mate—and she knew he wanted that—not until her problem was resolved. Inside her pocket, she crossed her fingers and hoped she’d found the right tree.
The golden light beckoned, growing stronger the deeper into the woods she went, until she entered a clearing. Light from a golden gibbous moon gleamed through the branches of the canopy above. Fireflies, out of season, hovered around the trunk, blinking out and on. Something about the air had changed. It smelled sweeter, and felt…thinner…warmer.
This was the place. It had to be. She’d felt this same trembling excitement the one time her mother led her into the woods to greet an ancient oak and attempted what Aoife had to accomplish tonight.
Closing her eyes, she reached out and laid a hand against the rugged trunk.
“Come fae and fair,
No need beware,
A daughter comes to greet you.
One knock you hear,
Two draws you near,
The third opens the door to meet you.”
Taking a deep breath, she rapped three times. Then she waited.
The wind picked up, dragging back her hood. Light gleamed between the edges of the bark, up and down the tree.
She stepped backward. Her breaths came faster, and then the glowing edges formed a rectangle, wider than an arm span. The dark bark at its center melted away.
Revealed inside the doorway was a tunnel formed by intertwining gold and green vines. She swept up the edges of her cloak and bent to step inside the door. As soon as her feet touched soft moss on the other side, she heard a crackling sound from behind and a long, lonely howl.
UPDATE: The winners are…Ann and Michelle Levan!
I’ll make an announcement soon about a new SEAL story. Can’t share the news until I have a hard date and cover to share, but it should be very, very soon! In the meantime, I have lots of military heroes for you to enjoy, including several stories centered around a Navy SEAL or two or three… 🙂
Enjoy the excerpt I’ve included. I really, really enjoyed writing a story that featured a female amputee. And you would not believe the number of online articles I read and YouTube videos I watched to make sure I got the details right! I was determined to do Kylie justice.
Here are all my currently available titles in Uncharted series.
Peruse these lovelies…
Click on the covers to learn more!
I’ll choose two winners! Tell me whether you’re ready for more SEAL stories for a chance to win your choice of an Uncharted SEAL story!
Hard SEAL to Love
Former SEAL, “Big Mac” McLane, is sure he earned all kinds of bad karma somewhere when his first mission with Charter Group is guarding the “Love Boat” and its activity director. Okay, so the cruise line is sponsoring a special cruise for wounded soldiers and their families — a great cause — but Big Mac doesn’t do well around families and children, and Kylie Hammond is cute, but he feels like he has two left feet whenever she’s around. But he’s going to do his job, keep it strictly business, fade into the background whenever she’s around, but it seems Kylie has other ideas…
Kylie knows the big SEAL isn’t exactly gung-ho for his new assignment, but she can’t be more pleased. The big man’s the yummiest thing she’s ever seen, and coaxing blushes and glares from him becomes her favorite sport. But then things begin to go wrong aboard ship, people disappear, and then someone’s killed. The thing her charity most feared — a terrorist attack at sea — appears to be underway. Now, she has to trust Big Mac and his team to keep her wounded soldiers safe.
Mac stepped through the entrance of the Hampton Inn. The lobby was a study in orderly chaos. Suitcases were lined up and stacked against one wall. Men and women, some in wheelchairs or walking with crutches and walkers, and missing limbs—some multiples—filled the space.
Mac tamped down a feeling of guilt for being able-bodied and whole as he walked through the throng, nodding now and then as he passed the veterans. He headed to the concierge and asked where he could find Kylie Hammond. After being informed which conference room Soldiers’ Sanctuary had commandeered to hand out welcome packets to arrivals, he headed down a hallway, relieved he didn’t have to push through a sea of bodies. He was ready to start this op. Sooner the better. Five days would fly by, and then he’d have the down time he needed to get his head on straight before the next assignment.
Stepping inside the room, he noted two long conference tables filled with plastic buckets of folders. Three elderly men manned the table.
One of them who sported a gray buzz cut and a surprisingly muscular build glanced his way. He lifted his chin in greeting.
Mac decided he was as good a place to start as any and strode toward him.
The old man held out his hand. “Joe Olinksy,” he said, in deep, loud voice. Then he leaned against the table edge and whispered, “You with Charter?”
Mac eyed him then glanced at his two buddies who were moving closer. His presence as part of the security team was supposed to be on a “need-to-know” basis.
Grinning, Joe waved a hand. “We’re part of your support. Eyes and ears only. We’re a little too long in the tooth to be the muscle, but we’re here to help. We’ll be staying in the stateroom next to yours.”
Skeptical that this band of elderly brothers could be of any service at all, Mac drew a deep breath and gave Joe’s two companions another look.
“This is Morty,” Joe said, pointing toward a thin man with a round, pot belly. “And that’s Sly.”
Sly smiled, and his teeth were blindingly white and little too large in his mouth.
“Ex-marines, 3rd Division during Viet Nam,” Joe said. “You a SEAL like Wiley?”
“Semper Fi,” Morty said, grinning.
Mac grunted, revising his original assessment. These guys had seen real action. “I’m looking for Kylie Hammond.”
“She’s out in the atrium,” Joe pointed toward the windows behind him, “getting a cup of coffee. She’s been manning the tables since dawn. And don’t worry about us. We can handle ourselves. After all our help on the last cruise, Poppy made sure to add us to the team. We’ll have your six.”
The three elderly men hadn’t been mentioned in any of the briefings he’d attended back at HQ. Wiley for damn sure hadn’t said a thing, but then again, Wiley had looked a little smug when he’d heard Mac was being assigned to protect his wife’s best friend. He cleared his throat. “Mac McLane by the way,” he said, giving a nod to all three men.
“We’ll see you aboard the Oceanus,” Joe said.
Mac left them and thought about calling Wiley to find out why the hell he hadn’t mentioned his geriatric buddies. Just to bitch because he was already dreading the coming minutes. He didn’t have a lot of experience with Ms. Hammond’s brand of womanhood. He’d served with women in the field, and slept with the women who swarmed bars outside Navy bases, hoping for a hookup with a SEAL.
Women outside those two categories tended to make him nervous. In his experience, women had served only two purposes, as support and/or stress-relief for a SEAL. Not that he looked down on them. He liked the women he’d known. But he hadn’t had to think much about what kind of impression he made or how to talk to them. He could be gruff and blunt. What the hell would he talk about for the days and nights he and the princess would be glued to each other’s sides?
Entering the atrium, he glanced around for someone who fit the picture he’d made up in his mind. She’d be pretty, no doubt. He couldn’t imagine anyone who was friends with Poppy Shackleford and attending her social functions looking any different.
Most of the small round, brightly tiled tables were filled with men and a few women. Probably wives of the wounded soldiers, who’d be accompanying their husbands on the cruise.
One woman sat alone, her head bent over her cell phone which lay flat on the tabletop, a tall Styrofoam cup beside it. Her hair was a mass of dark brown curls. Her body, what he could see of it hunched over the table, was slender. Her bare arms and the tops of her shoulders, revealed by an olive tank, showed well-developed muscles. She wore no jewelry, save for a watch on an olive-colored web strap. Faux military-issue? And now he wondered whether she was one of those who was so enamored of military men she wore cammo pajamas. He’d met a few like that. As he moved nearer, she must have sensed someone watched her.
The woman’s gaze lifted from her phone and locked with his.
As he took in her features, he slowed his steps. Wide-set green eyes whose gaze never wavered, tan skin, rose-colored lips, cheeks that were prominent and high. She was lovely, but didn’t wear a hint of makeup. She didn’t need it. Unbidden, interest flared inside him, heating his blood.
“Are you Mac?” she asked, her voice even and little husky.
His tongue felt thick as he gave a crisp nod and replied. “You Kylie?”
Her smile was a little tight, but she pushed up from the table to greet him, her arm reaching forward.
When he looked down at her hand, with its long fingers and short bare nails, his gaze dropped to her legs. Another shock stole his breath. She wore shorts which ended at mid-thigh, revealing one long, nicely turned limb paired with a shapely thigh that disappeared into the black cup of a prosthetic limb.
UPDATE! My two winners are…Eileen and Sheryl!
I hope you haven’t forgotten my Uncharted SEALs stories! I do have quite a few of these action-packed stories for you to enjoy—12 of them! And I’m not saying I’m done with them either. In fact, one of the stories, Big Sky SEAL is about to have a sequel inside the Montana Bounty Hunters series, Big Sky Wedding! I’ll have that story to you before the end of this month!
Uncharted SEALs spawned my Montana Bounty Hunters, and soon, MBH will spinoff to another series, but I’m not talking about that yet! Just know I love my military heroes, and I don’t plan to stop writing them anytime soon! I love writing them! They’re fast and funny. I make myself giggle when I write them.
And why write if you don’t have fun doing it, right? My Motto, always!
Here are all my currently available titles in Uncharted series.
Peruse these lovelies…
Click on the covers to learn more!
I’ll choose two winners! Tell me whether you’d love to see more Uncharted SEALs or Montana Bounty Hunters, or both for a chance to win your choice of an Uncharted SEAL story!
Between a SEAL and a Hard Place
The last person world-class sniper, Wolf Kinkaid, expected to see in the crosshairs of his rifle during an operation to take down a drug cartel assassin was his pretty, bounty hunter wife. He takes the shot, disarming the bad guy, but the assassin wasn’t working alone, and now, Piper is a target for revenge.
Solution? The two of them hole up in a safe house while his team tries to find the assassin’s psychotic brother. Piper and Wolf have issues to resolve, and all that time alone gives them something they haven’t enjoyed in excess for a while—each other. But while they get close, the enemy closes in…
So many things were the same. Merciless heat beating down from above. Staring through the scope of a Macmillan Tac-50 from a dusty perch. Spotter at his elbow. Familiar chatter from the mission commander in his ear. And yet, everything was different.
For Wolf Kinkaid, the differences made the experience surreal. Yes, the air was hot, but he wasn’t wearing a heavy helmet, which would have cooked his brain.
His position was on a high-rise rooftop rather than amid rocks in a lonely mountain pass. The spotter at his elbow was dressed in SWAT black rather than a uniform of woodland camouflage, as was he. And the commander providing updates of what was happening inside the building entrance he surveilled wasn’t talking about insurgents. He gave details about an Assistant District Attorney, a “suit” who was about to exit the law building they watched.
Yup, he was a long, long way from Afghanistan.
“Suit’s taking the elevator,” Deke Warrick, the mission commander, said quietly over the comm in his ear.
Wolf checked the pictures he’d taped to the wall he knelt behind. One was of ADA Ben Souther who had a hit on him from a Mexican cartel, primarily for the fact he was preparing to prosecute a high-ranking cartel member for murder and racketeering. The second photo was of the assassin that the team—which consisted of FBI, ATF, and Charter agents—was trying to take down. They wanted to arrest the bastard and maybe milk him for names of other members residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Wolf’s particular talent was needed to implement Plan B if the assassin got too close to Souther.
Outfitted with a Kevlar vest, Souther was accompanied by two bodyguards, both provided by Wolf’s new employer, Charter Group. They’d trained for this mission for a week in another city with a similar topography, all while keeping Souther in a safe house. Souther’s office had hired the company to provide added protection and, hopefully, nab another cartel member, because the cartel lieutenant they’d captured had, so far, remained uncooperative. After weeks of lying low, Souther had grown restless and suggested they end the impasse by allowing him to act as bait.
He was a gutsy bastard, an ex-Marine who’d used the GI Bill to complete his education and become an attorney. So, Charter had agreed, figuring he knew the score and could handle himself should shit go sideways. A situation which chatter from paid CIs said was about to happen.
“Get ready,” said Deke. “He’s about to come through the doors.”
His sights already set, Wolf looked through his scope, noted Souther’s set jaw, his short buzz-cut. Determination and fearlessness radiated from the man. He wasn’t a SEAL, but the man was a warrior, no matter he now wore a suit and tie. His battlefield was a different kind of minefield, a courtroom.
The doors swung open, and one of his guards preceded him, glancing left and right before turning to usher Souther through them. His second guard kept close to his back, glancing behind then taking in the sidewalk and the armored car placed behind a barricade that stood in front of the doors.
“We have movement from the West,” said Deke.
Wolf pivoted his weapon on its tripod. A slender figure with an impressive rack, wearing a ball cap, moved forward at a fast clip. But she wasn’t the target. He recognized that long, fit frame. Her brown and copper hair was drawn back in a ponytail that bobbed behind her. He noted a cord extending from her ear to her collar.
Damn, his fears were confirmed, the little twit was on the job, and likely looking for the same target they hoped to capture.
“Wolf, is that—”
“Southwest corner of the building,” came another urgent voice.
Again, Wolf sighted down his barrel. No time to wonder why she was here or how she’d discovered their plan. A man wearing blue jeans, a cowboy hat drawn low over his forehead, and wearing a casual jacket also made his way down the sidewalk from the opposite direction.
“God dammit,” he whispered as he took a bead on the man, ready to pull back the trigger at the first sight of a weapon—should the team closing in on him not get there in time. He glanced to the left, hoping the damned woman wasn’t about to get in the way of his bullet. Then she glanced up to the rooftop where he perched, mostly hidden, and he cussed again. She knew he was there, but she was still coming fast.
She reached behind her and drew a handgun then kept it hidden against her thigh.
“Dammit, he’s got a gun!” Deke said. “Wolf! Take him out!”
Wolf adjusted, aimed for the middle of the cowboy’s thigh, drew a breath, held it for a split second, and then pulled the trigger. Blood spurted from the wound.
Piper sprinted the last few feet and took the assailant down at the knees. His cowboy hat fell away, long black hair spilled, a dark hard-edged profile was revealed. They had their man.
Or rather, Piper did, pressing into the wound Wolf had made while shoving her Glock hard between the bastard’s legs.
The man reached out his hands and dropped his weapon to the pavement at the same moment the first of Souther’s guards took position over him and Piper, his stance wide and his weapon pointing downward.
Blood pounded in his ears. Wolf cussed again and put down his weapon.
“Want me to pack up for you?” his spotter drawled.
Wolf shot him a deadly glare. “Not a fucking word.”
The man smirked and took up position behind the weapon, likely to watch the fireworks through the scope.
Wolf headed to the stairwell and hopped the steps two at a time, racing downward. At ground level, he hit the bar on the exit door with a bang and sprinted across the street.
The team was converging. Souther had been moved to the armored car. Piper was still on the ground, but now lying face down beside her “collar” with her hands cupped behind her head.
“I have paperwork in my pocket,” she said, annoyance in her voice. “He’s mine to return to Houston on an outstanding warrant.” Frowning, she glanced behind her shoulder. “Is this really necessary?”
Deke shook his head then spotted Wolf bearing down on them. “Mind explaining how she knew to be here at this exact moment?” he bit out.
Wolf shook his head, too furious to get out the words. She’d promised him she’d be taking easier jobs, ones close to home. And although she’d never promised to stay completely out of harm’s way, something that would have been impossible for a bounty hunter to do, she had said she wouldn’t be seeking the most dangerous, high-value jobs. At least, she’d kept the first promise about staying closer to home. He bent and tugged at her earpiece, dislodging it.
When she looked over her other shoulder at him, she ventured a thin smile. “Hi, there, hon. Thought that might be you on the rooftop.”
He brought the device to his mouth. “Calvin, hustle your ass down here. Now,” he gritted out then dropped it. She began to open her mouth. “Just shut up.” He glanced at Deke, wanting to know if he had a preference for how this should be handled.
“Bring her along. I’d like to hear her sorry excuse, too.”
Several of the team turned as a large man barreled down the walkway, huffing. “Damn, Piper,” Calvin said, pausing beside her, then bending, hands on his knees as he gasped for breath. “Told you this was a bad idea.”
“I took him down,” she said, her voice gruff. “He’s mine.”
“Don’t think they’re gonna agree, baby girl, and your man looks ready to pop an aneurism.”
She glanced back again. “Can I get up?”
Barely able to keep his motions contained, Wolf reached behind his back, drew out a set of cuffs and snagged her wrists, drawing them down to the small of her back, and quickly snapping on the cuffs. Then he gripped her upper left arm and levered her to a stand.
Deke handed him her piece and the keys to the vehicle they’d come in. “See you back at HQ.”
Wolf grunted and goose-walked his wife to the underground garage.
I love my Uncharted SEALs series. All have rugged, alpha heroes. All have strong heroines. Humor. Action. All the ingredients that make the stories fun for me to write, and hopefully, fun for you as well.
With Uncharted SEALs, I experimented a bit. For the first time, I did sequels with the same characters—for the simple reason I couldn’t say goodbye to them. I wanted to see inside their Happy Ever Afters. Through Her Eyes and Between a SEAL and a Hard Place share the same main characters, as do Dream of Me and Heart of a SEAL. Big Sky SEAL gave birth to my Montana Bounty Hunters, introducing Jamie and Reaper, who as a result of their work in Big Sky earned their own satellite office of MBH.
A fun theme I used in two of the stories was a cruise ship. Both Before We Kiss and Hard SEAL to Love are set on the same ship, and have the same supporting characters. You’ll meet the old guys in the scene below. Hope you enjoy it!
Click on the covers to learn more!
Win your choice of one of my Uncharted SEALs stories! There will be 3 winners! All you have to do to enter is answer me this…
If you could go anywhere in the world, what would be your cruise destination?
Before We Kiss
Navy SEAL, William “Wiley” Coyote, should have known his “piece of cake” assignment would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz.
A general’s daughter, Poppy Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a man made famous for defeating insurgent forces. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, and the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq—not from the physical wounds that had claimed his two legs—he’d taken his own life. His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances. Her mission in life is to see that no veteran of war would ever feel so alone, so hopeless he’d choose her dead fiancé’s path. Which was why, despite the current threats against her father, she was on this cruise, assessing the ship’s ability to accommodate the soldiers rather than sending a surrogate.
However, the first threat doesn’t come from terrorists with an axe to grind. Mexican banditos stop her tour bus heading toward Mayan ruins to shake down the passengers for their money and belongings. When one snaps a picture of her, he soon figures out there’s a much bigger payday. She knows she’s going to be kidnapped, but she didn’t know someone was on that same tour bus who had her back.
Wiley’s unconventional takedown of her would-be kidnappers exposes the fact her father didn’t honor her wishes to fly under the radar. And now that the cat’s out of the bag, Wiley’s made it clear he’s moving into her suite for the rest of their time at sea to keep her out of harm’s way.
Excerpt from Before We Kiss…
William “Wiley” Coyote should have known the “piece of cake” assignment his team leader, Deke Warrick, offered him would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz. He was due a vacation, and he’d envisioned slipping into a chaise on the cruise ship’s deck while his target sunbathed nearby. Something his team leader had warned him might not be in the cards. After all, Deke’d had a similar, simple assignment when he’d been tasked with protecting a girl. And look what it had gotten his buddy. Shot at. Then married. Happily, it seemed.
Not that Wiley had marriage on his mind. No, sir. Not him. Everything he owned was stuffed into a duffle bag. He lived in hotel rooms, tents, and, now, a cruise boat cabin. No, he had nothing to offer a bride. Marriage wasn’t something in his cards. And certainly not to some celebutante who couldn’t keep her picture off multiple social media sites on a daily basis. That sort of exposure, even by association, would be deadly in his line of business.
He’d listened intently when Deke outlined his assignment, determined to keep this job all business, despite the photos that had spilled from the envelope during his initial briefing.
“Every time she steps out of her suite, the room attendant will buzz you. You keep on her tail, but not close enough she notices. Her daddy said she’d raise hell if she knew he’d hired security after she refused a special detail.” At that point, Deke had grinned. “I think he’s a little afraid of her.”
Wiley hadn’t smiled. Instead, he’d grunted. General Shackleford wasn’t any lightweight desk-jockey. He’d seen his share of action.
The ship had barely left the Port of Miami before Wiley understood. The woman never stopped moving. Or talking. Sometimes loudly, if she didn’t like what she heard. If he could have worn earplugs, possibly his first impressions of her would have been very different.
Poppy Shackleford was a pretty little thing. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lightly tanned, curves in all the right places. And maybe five-foot-two in her espadrille sandals. He’d had a girlfriend charge two pairs to his credit card years ago, so he knew darn well what they were and how much the cork-heeled things cost. Although he could appreciate the sexy curves the three-inch heels gave her toned calves, he wasn’t risking getting any closer. So far, he’d managed to operate under the radar. He had no doubts she’d know exactly what he was there to do if she got one good look at him. Nothing escaped her attention. Not the too-steep ramps leading onto the ship when they’d embarked. Nor the undercooked steak she’d been served last night in the dining room.
He’d begun to think she was deaf because she talked so loudly, but then he’d realized her complaints were on behalf of her fellow passengers, and this cruise had been billed as senior-themed. Most of the thousand passengers on board were over seventy. The dinner conversation surrounding him last night consisted of tracking blood sugar levels as his companions pricked their fingertips and fed droplets of blood into their readers. Afterwards, their conversation drifted to the best fiber to promote healthy bowels and where the captain would store their bodies if they happened to pass during the night.
“No kidding?” Deke had said after Wiley’s status update early that morning.
Wiley’s jaw ground shut at the snickering no hand over a receiver could muffle. “The Countess cruise line’s security seems pretty tight. Someone is always nearby, although they’re better at blending in than I am.”
“You mean you didn’t pack any Hawaiian shirts?”
“Don’t own one,” he’d gritted out.
“How are you keeping from blowing your cover?”
Wiley grunted. “I haven’t shaved, and I have on my cowboy hat and boots.”
“So you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.”
“She won’t expect a security detail to blend in quite like I do.”
Deke grunted. “Just remember you have people positioned around the ship. Channel two if you need them.”
Which would be great if his assignment was actually aboard the ship. The farther into the jungle their tour bus drove, the deeper his concern grew. They were on an excursion to view Mayan ruins. Anywhere along their route would be a great place for an ambush. The two security people provided by the cruise line to accompany his target were in good shape, but he could tell neither was armed. Conventional weapons were impossible to smuggle aboard the ship, and the weapons kept under lock and key aboard the vessel wouldn’t have been permitted for this little jaunt.
And why were they out here? If he remembered right, the pyramids weren’t exactly wheelchair-friendly. But he knew Poppy was thorough, that she took her tour coordinator job seriously. No stone would be left unturned. No tour unvetted, personally, by her.
He’d read the dossier Charter Group had put together. Poppy Shackleford, daughter of Lieutenant General Randall Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a famous man. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq, although not from the physical wounds that had claimed both his legs. Frank Sutton, who’d been despondent over the loss, had killed himself.
His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances, whether supporting wounded vets with additional therapies the VA was slow or unable to provide, or seeking the latest in prosthetics and mobility devices. And the organization provided mentorship, one wounded soldier to another, to ensure no veteran of war would feel so alone, so hopeless, they’d choose Frank Sutton’s path.
Wiley understood and admired her for not simply crying then moving on, but embracing a cause that might help others. However, today he wished she wasn’t quite so determined to make it impossible for him to protect her. Not that she had a clue he was there. If she’d glanced toward the back of the air-conditioned bus, all she might have noted was one dark head amid a sea of white, gray, and blue.
The fellow seated next to him gave another narrow-eyed, flinty glance.
Wiley aimed a frown his way, hoping the old guy would mind his own business. The man was burly, surprisingly muscled for an old dude.
He leaned sideways in his seat and whispered, “Name’s Joseph Olinsky, but you can call me Joe. I’m a Marine.” He nodded toward the head of the bus where Poppy stood beside the tour guide, asking questions. “She someone important?”
Not as invisible as I thought. Wiley blinked. “No, sir. I think she’s just another passenger. A noisy one.”
Shaking his head, Joe grunted. “She has a detail. That guy with a clipboard ain’t a cruise director. I’d say he’s ex-Navy, probably a SEAL. Has a trident tattoo on his upper arm. Saw it when he was stowing her backpack into the overhead.”
Knowing there was no use convincing Joe he was just a guy on a trip to see a pyramid, Wiley gave him another look. He recognized the type—his dad had been the same steady, patriotic sort. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Maybe he did need backup, should shit go sideways. “You’re right,” he murmured. “The cruise line provided her security.”
“What about you?” his gray-haired companion asked.
“Name’s Wiley, and I was Navy.”
“A SEAL,” he said, nodding. “Can’t hide that look. Everyone else, besides her, has been taking a nap. Not you. You’ve been watching the road ahead. Expect trouble?”
“Not expecting, but prepared.”
Joe nodded. “Don’t get along as well as I used to,” he said, patting his right knee. “But I can be another set of eyes. And I do know who she is, son. She’s the daughter of that general ISIS wants taken out. They had his face and his daughter’s plastered all over Facebook faster than Homeland and the FBI could take down the pages.”
Wiley almost smiled at how in tune the old guy was. “Nothing much gets past you, does it?”
Joe lifted his chin toward two older gentlemen seated across the aisle from them.
Wiley glanced over to find both old codgers staring back.
“We were in the same division, the 3rd, during Vietnam. We’re all that’s left of our company. Try to take a trip every couple of years. Went to Nam five years back. There were eight of us then.”
Wiley nodded his understanding.
“That’s Morty,” he said, pointing at the thin one with a round belly. “The other one’s Sly.”
Sly gave him a grin that displayed unnaturally white teeth.
Wiley gave both men a nod then turned his attention back to the front of the bus.
“She know you’re tailing her?”
How had the old guys figured out he was there for Poppy? He remembered how the old men had jostled him, cutting him from the rest of the group when they’d boarded the bus. He’d thought it unintentional, but now knew they’d meant to be seated beside him. Admiring their cunning, he shook his head. “She doesn’t know. Not yet, anyway.”
“Need a better cover,” Joe said, eyeing his boots and the scruff on his chin. “Could tell folks you’re my grandson.”
Wiley chuckled. Sounded like a better plan than the one he’d started with. “Just don’t get in the way. If things go down…”
“You could use another set of eyes—between the three of us, we might just make one good pair.” Joe tilted his head toward his buddies.
This time, Wiley laughed.
Joe grinned and gave a slow nod to his companions, who settled back in their seats and now directed their attention to the job at hand—and the woman wearing the pretty blue dress at the front of the bus.
Suddenly, the bus shuddered and slowed. Cries arose from those seated near the front.
“Fat’s in the fire now,” Morty said, pointing forward.
Wiley cussed. A pickup was parked sideways in the middle of the road. He began to rise, but then he noted the four men standing in front of the truck. All dark, but with features that were clearly Mestizo. So, bandits rather than terrorists. He settled back in his seat. He’d let this play out a bit before he gave himself away. As long as no one was hurt, he’d keep his cover.
We’re still on grandma watch here. Her respirations are slowing, and she’s only woken up a couple of times the past day or so. My sister, Elle James, and her dd arrived yesterday to provide much-needed relief. We’ll likely be holed up in grandma’s room, tending to her while we try to sprint through some pages today. Anything to keep our minds engaged elsewhere.
Do you have big things planned for today? I have a suggestion! Read the excerpt below from Baby, It’s You, and tell me you’re not tempted to find a SEAL book-boyfriend to spend your day with!
Comment for a chance to win one of my Uncharted SEALs stories!
Click on a cover to explore the series!
Baby, It’s You
Carter Vance, Jr. stands at the fork in the road. Wounded in action, the Navy SEAL has a decision to make: whether to find work with a spec ops unit, or return to his family ranch in Texas and repair his fractured relationship with his dying father and the woman he wronged. Complicating the decision is his reignited attraction to Melanie Schaeffer and his confusion over his feelings for his dead brother’s little girl, whom Melanie has raised since his brother’s and her sister’s deaths by a terrorist’s bomb.
Read an excerpt…
The morning that would change Melanie Schaeffer’s life forever began quietly enough. The whoosh of a curtain opening sounded a moment before sunlight spilled across her bed. Melanie rolled to her back to see the maid picking up clothing Melanie had left draped over a chair the night before.
A blush crept into her cheeks. She didn’t think she’d ever grow accustomed to having someone else handle her intimate items. “You don’t have to do that,” Melanie said as she pushed another pillow behind her head. “I can clean up after myself.”
The maid gave her a cheerful smile. “It’s my job. And I wouldn’t have woken you at all, but you did say you wanted to get used to the time change…”
Yes, there was that. After two days, she still felt a little muzzy-headed. The nine hours’ difference in time zones from Austin to this little city bordering Asia and the Middle East took some getting used to. Melanie rubbed her eyes and blinked, focusing on the sun peeking through the arched window and the view of the lovely, lush garden beyond it. Bushes exploding with large cabbage roses and tall, fruit-laden palms nearly obscured the ten-foot wall surrounding the estate nestled in the diplomats’ sector. Read the rest of this entry »
Christmas is almost here! And so much is happening in my world, I’m having a hard time catching my breath.
Some of you may remember that, last year, my family was dealing with my then 97-year-old grandma who had fallen and broken her back. After spending time in rehab, she was moved home, and our family pitched in to give her round-the-clock care. Well, this year is a new crisis. Beginning about two weeks ago, her health is failing, and despite the doctor’s best efforts, and ours, she’s declining. I suppose it’s to be expected at 98, and she’s ready for it. Still, we’re all very saddened, and we’re back in “pitch-in” mode.
My dd is her nighttime care-giver now. My SIL just started a new job with the sheriff’s office and works nights. So, guess what my job is? Yeah, I’m the kids’ nighttime babysitter. They are running me ragged, and my working hours have been slashed. We’re all tired and squeezed. No complaints though. Grandma and the kids come first.
So, here’s hoping your holidays are more joyous and restful than mine!
Noah hopes buying the classic ’68 Camaro from a fellow firefighter’s widow will ease some of the grief weighing down his heart. When a noise under the hood sends him looking for a mechanic, he finds so much more. Big and burly Hoyt grabs Noah’s attention right off, and not just because of his bad-boy biker looks and ice-blue eyes. The fact Hoyt is a Dom and a member at Club LaForge certainly interests Noah.
Hoyt never thought he’d feel that rush with a man again after his partner died, but his body certainly reacts to meeting Noah. LaForge seems like the perfect place to meet and work off some energy and explore this sudden flood of desire. The heat between them starts to burn through their emotional barriers, whether the men are ready to make a deeper connection or not.
Read an Excerpt
Noah stopped before the sign at the intersection. One right turn and one block’s drive, and he’d be at the fire house.
His fingers tightened on the leather-wrapped steering wheel of the Camaro. He still didn’t think of it as his Camaro. No one at the station would either. It was Danny Truitt’s car.
And the only reason Noah was driving it now was because Danny was dead.
“Huh.” Noah rubbed the pain over his heart. It was funny, but even thinking those words still had the power to make his chest tighten. Which made driving his buddy’s car feel somehow disloyal. Read the rest of this entry »