Monday, March 26, 2012

Omegas In Love


Today I want to welcome Annie Nicholas to My Odd Little World. Annie is the author of many great reads, and is here with Omegas in Love, her fourth book in her erotic paranormal Vanguards series. She is being very generous on this tour, giving one book from her backlist to a commenter on each tour stop, and one lucky commenter on the tour will receive autographed copies of the first three books in the Vanguards series and a $10 gift card from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. So let's welcome Annie Nicholas with lots of comments, and enjoy the day. But first a bit about Ms. Nicholas.



Annie Nicholas hibernates in the rural, green mountains of Vermont, where she dreams of different worlds, heroes, and heroines. When spring arrives the stories pour from her, in hopes to share them with the masses one day.

Mother, daughter, wife are some of the hats she happily wears while trudging after her cubs through the hills and dales. The four seasons an inspiration and muse.
 
Twitter: @annienicholas


And now, on with the show...er, interview
 
The Writer


What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?


The best:   FANMAIL! When I get an e-mail about one of my books it’s like nothing the day can throw at me will kill my happy. That someone enjoyed my story enough to drop me word is a thrill.
The worst:   Waiting…Sometimes this business moves at a snail’s pace. It’s nerve wracking and ulcer producing.

Do you bring your own life experiences to your writing? Your own personality? If so how?


Some on the internal conflicts my characters face have been mine. Not consciously, it’s only in reflection that I see issues on paper. Like in my first novel, Bait, the heroine mourns her dead husband who she lost to cancer. At that time, I had been battling an illness of my own. It took me year later to see the similarities and that book helped when I was in a bad place.
On a lighter side, my geekiness comes out in The Vanguards series. My pack of nerdy/awkward shifters definitely reflects many parts of my personality.
And of course, my special brand of humor is plastered all over the pages. LOL

Plotter or Pantser? Why?


90% plotter, 10% pantser.
I usually start my book pantsing but once chapter one is done and I’ve met the main characters, I plot. I usually make a general outline of the major conflicts then detail out each chapter before I start writing them. It’s a process, which allows me the freedom to change things yet keeps me on track so I don’t write myself into a corner.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?


The voices in my head.
Sounds horrifying, I know. LOL 
I need to give voice to the characters in my mind and tell their story or they drive me bonkers. I’ve been known to wake at 3am to write something just so I can get some quiet in my dreams. My husband no longer questions me about these habits.

If you could write in any other genre what would it be, and why?


I’m beginning to dabble in sci-fi. I’m shopping around a manuscript I’ve just written to see what happens. I’ve quite a few stories in this genre I’d like to tell.
I would also love to write paranormal historical but I lack the love of research that most historical writers have.


Where can we find out more about you and your work?

My website contains everything and more. The more being little secret things hidden on my homepage by webdesigner. LOL He likes to surprise me.


Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

The essence of my characters are already planned. Each person reacts differently in any given situation so I have to know their core self to write chapter one. As the book develops, so do my characters, and I discover smaller details such as if they like chocolate or not.

Can you tell us a bit about what book(s) you have coming out next and what you’re working on now?


The Sigma, book 5 of The Vanguards, is releasing in August 2012. I also have a new series titled, Confessions of a Succubus, book one will be releasing sometime this fall and I’ve joined some talented authors in another new series titled Gatekeepers. My book, Koishi, will be out March 2013. 

And I have some super secret projects in the works for this year as well. ;) I just can’t say until the ink is dry. 

The Person


When you get a chance to read, what books do you love to read?


I love romantic urban fantasies, paranormals, fantasies, and science fiction. I do love some straight sci-fi and fantasies as well.
I’ve been on an angel kick this year. LOL


What bores you as a reader?


A poor plot. I can’t read a story that is only about internal conflicts there has to be some action.


What is your favorite food and what is your guilty pleasure food?


I love Asian food, any type. My guilty pleasure is hot fudge sundaes. If I could eat those every meal I’d be in heaven.


What do you think is romantic? What does the word Romance mean to you?


I think what a person does or sacrifices for someone else happiness is the most romantic thing. A man could say, “I love you,” to a chair as easily as he could say it to me. But if that man will do the laundry without my asking then I’m all over him. ;)


What type of music gets you dancing?


Metal and Alternative rock makes me move.


What do you do to unwind and relax?


I’m all about the hot bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to indulge.


Lightning Round


Chocolate or vanilla?


chocolate


Wine-white or red?


sangria


Mountains or seashore?


Seashore


Winter or summer?
summer


Morning or evening person?


evening


Random Questions:


Aliens have landed on the planet. What are the three things you would tell them that are great about this planet?


·       Pizza Hut has the best wings
·       Not to use the porto potties
·       Dogs are not food

If you could create your own drink what would go in it and what would you call it?


One ounce of espresso, an ounce of Kahlua, a shot of hersey’s chocolate syrup topped with whipped cream. I’d call it the All-Nighter.


You’ve been given the honor of naming a planet, what would you name it?


Mine


If you were in a rock band what would the name of your band be? What would your rocker name be?


The Pillagers and my name would be Wench. 


You have been locked in a mall and told you can get anything you want and when they open in the morning you won’t have to pay a single cent. What stores would you hit? Better question how would you haul away all your loot?


I’d hit them all. I’d find a store with carts, grab some ties, and tie them like a train. Then make sure my husband rented the biggest U-haul he could legally drive. LOL

And finally, have you got a sneak peek excerpt from your current work in progress you can share with my readers and me?


This is my attempt at a sci-fi romance. It still needs some editing and I haven’t even started shopping it around yet.
Trinkets from the past nailed my feet to the station floor.  Inside the unsealed the container laid a few rusted objects, an ancient laser weapon, and a plastic covered book with a faded picture on the front. I reached to inspect the goods and almost lost my fingertips as the metax merchant snapped it shut.
            His long chipped claws clicked on the side of the container. He retreated further into his market tent. “If you’re serious about purchasing, you best come inside. There’re too many prying eyes.” The hiss in his speech was normal and caused by his elongated canines. The metax aliens populated this region of the galaxy and ran Parovi space station. They were carnivorous, but never ate sentient species, unlike some other race I didn’t care to think about.  “There are rumors a ko ship is docking.”
            My racing pulse paused. That’s all I needed. Stepping past the table of used wares, I followed him inside. Brody would tan my ass if he knew what I was up to. He went to empty the mailbox he kept on station, so I only had a few minutes in the market. “Open it already. I don’t have all day.” I flexed my fake pointed ears at him and peered at the contents once more, pieces of lost human history, according to the merchant. I lifted the old weapon and ran my fingers over the cold, crusty metal. “How did you come by these things?”
            He shrugged.
            “They’re probably not even bona fide.” It must have been salvagers who wanted to rid themselves of the things fast. Anything human was contraband in all known systems. A few people dabbled in the trade though, a risky business, and I was one of them. I set the gun aside for the book and flipped through the pages one at time.
            Breathing grew more difficult. I flicked a glance at the metax to see if he noticed, but he didn’t betray any awareness of my growing excitement. Tossing it aside, I checked out the remainder of the box not really seeing what I was examining. My mind’s eye only focused on what I’d just looked at.
            A child’s picture book.
            With human words written inside.
            I took a shaky breath. Not many people knew how to read the dead language but my ma made sure the knowledge stayed alive within me. There ain’t too many of us still left around. I’d heard a drayian museum displayed a few freeze dried corpses. They took a huge risk if they did. The ko wanted us erased from existence and memory. Some said they didn’t even want human DNA in the space dust.
            Hunted to the point of near extinction, no other race would help my kind anymore in fear of retaliation. It’s told that a species called the torrath aided my ancestors. Nothing remains of them now. The ko made an example of that world. We hid now, disguised as other races, and lived among them, or face being delivered to the flesh traders for ko delivery. Some humans used body paints, others like me and Brody, used prosthesis. We traveled as jurranians with long, prehensile ears and vertically slit pupil contact lenses. They contained neurotransmitters so the ears moved naturally and the pupils dilated or constricted. If anyone found out what we were…


  Some things are best to forget. But what if the past won't be forgotten?
Born in China of a pure shifter bloodline, Katrina was raised with only one purpose--to breed. Abused by her alpha, she runs away to America as soon as she can. With a new pack and her true mate, she thinks the nightmare is behind her, but when she is abducted on the streets of Chinatown, Katrina must face her past and fight for her freedom.
It took Tyler a year to earn Katrina's love, another to build her confidence and pride, and only a moment to lose her. Broken-hearted, Tyler won't give up his search for Katrina. But he never trained as a warrior like the other shifters. What chance does a real estate agent have in the fight for his mate?
WARNING: Explicit shifter sex, heartbroken torment, and an unstoppable shifter in love.
 
Excerpt from Omegas In Love

The Asian stranger grabbed Katrina’s arm and yanked her into his embrace.
“Hey!” It took every ounce of Tyler’s control to keep his beast from busting out on the tourist filled streets of China Town. He shoved the stranger from behind, knocking Katrina from his arms.
She stumbled and landed hard on the ground. Tears stained her cheeks. The cold wind blew strands of long, black hair across her face.
“Get your hands off her.” He bent to help her, but the stranger blocked him. Straightening, Tyler glared at Katrina’s assailant and met a cold, dark stare.
His beast rose closer to the surface and clouded his thoughts. She belonged to him and this male thought to block his way. The only solution was to tear this asshole limb from limb. “Get out of my way.” He spoke each word separately and clearly to get his point across.
“This is none of your concern.” The stranger spoke with a thick accent like Katrina’s.
“You’re on Vasi territory. Anything that happens here is my concern. And she belongs to me.” Tyler pointed to Katrina, then back to himself.
“Chinatown is not Vasi territory. Never has been and never will be. And this female mated me before she ran away.” Crossing his arms, the stranger planted himself in front of Tyler. “She still belongs to me and has never been yours to take.”
Tyler’s jaw hung as if on broken hinges. He shot her a questioning look, but she stared at the ground, not meeting his gaze. Katrina hated to speak about her past. Now, he knew why.
She wiped her face, huddled on the ground, and didn’t deny a thing.
Every bit of joy in his life lay with Katrina, but truth’s claws dug into his heart. He didn’t know which hurt more, the lies or the way she hunched on the ground, submitting to this stranger like an omega all over again.


Thank you to Annie Nicholas for spending some time with us today. She will pick her winner, so be sure to leave your name and email address for her to contact the lucky commenter.








Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fire Baptized


Today I want to welcome Kenya Wright, whose new Urban Fantasy, Fire Baptized was recently released. Kenya will be giving a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter during the tour.But first, a bit about Ms. Wright.





               Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.
        However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.
        Now Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.
        Will she succeed? Of course.
        For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.
            Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.


Now, on to the interview and a blurb about the book.





The Writer


What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?


The best thing about being a writer is being able to create and virtually live other lives. I have a lot of fun exploring Fire Baptized’s world and hanging out with all my supernaturals.


The worst?


The revision process is the worst part for me. I hate having to cut things out of the book. I love my characters and world so much I feel like every little detail should be there, but that’s not true. If it doesn’t move the plot along then it really should be cut.


Do you bring your own life experiences to your writing? Your own personality? If so how?


I definitely bring my own life experiences and personality into my writing. Many of the Fire Baptized characters had somewhat dysfunctional childhoods filled with drug abuse and neglect. I definitely experienced that within my child.


Plotter or Pantser? Why?


Plotter!
I find that outlining a book completely helps me stay organized. Whenever I just write without any clear outline I end up writing all over the place and losing the story’s focus.


What fuels you as an author to continue to write?


I have an addiction to writing, period. All I want to do is write. I miss meals. I lose sleep. I literally have to force myself to stop writing. If I was a millionaire I would still write books.


If you could write in any other genre what would it be, and why?


Sci-fi is a genre that I would like to tackle one day. Especially, the cyberpunk sub-genre.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

I write a whole lot of posts on my Goodreads’s blog.
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5402447.Kenya_Wright/blog

Although at times it could be irrational rants, I do write three a week. My last post discussed Dr. Drew’s disgust with the Erotic Romance book Fifty Shades of Grey.

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

I do both. I have a ten page questionnaire that I answer for all of my main characters. However, when I’m writing nothing is set in stone. Sometimes the characters reveal their unique personalities as I create a scene.


Can you tell us a bit about what book(s) you have coming out next and what you’re working on now?


This month I will release Caged View, which is a short story collection of Fire Baptized’s main characters. There will be POV stories for MeShack, Zulu, and Lanore.
In May, the sequel The Burning Bush will be released.
In July, I will release Chameleon which is a YA novel set in the same caged supernatural city of Fire Baptized. However, this series will involve different characters and be less graphic.

The Person


When you get a chance to read, what books do you love to read?


Urban fantasy without a doubt! My favorite authors are Laini Taylor, Ilona Andrews, and K.A. Tucker.


What bores you as a reader?


Info Dumps! God I hate long paragraphs updating me about what happened in the earlier series or telling me about the rules of the world. Just show me all of this. I hate telling.


What is your favorite food and what is your guilty pleasure food?


Favorite food- foie gras
Guilty Pleasure- Fried cheesecake with chocolate dipping sauce


What do you think is romantic?


Candle light, soft music, and a whispered conversation with the one I love.


What does the word Romance mean to you?


This word has so many meaning for me. As a mother of three (5yr, 4yr, and 9month old), sometimes my husband will just grab all of the kids and say, “Baby, you worked hard this week. Relax, I’m going to take all of the kids for the day.”
That just gets my heart pumping!


What type of music gets you dancing?


Holy Cow! You have no idea how difficult this question is for me. I listen to everything: salsa, alternative, hip hop, country, electronic, etc.
Anything that sounds good gets me dancing!


What do you do to unwind and relax?


Glass of Pinot Noir and a good book!


Lightning Round


Chocolate or vanilla?


Chocolate


Wine-white or red?


Red


Mountains or seashore?


Seashore
Winter or summer?


Summer


Morning or evening person?


Evening

Random Questions:


Aliens have landed on the planet. What are the three things you would tell them that are great about this planet?

1-  There are some truly beautiful natural landscapes on this world.
2-  There are more people who try to do good then people who create evil.
3-   No one thing on this planet is the same. Every person you meet, every object you discover will be unique in its own way.


If you could create your own drink what would go in it and what would you call it?


I actually created my main character Lanore’s drink. The Inferno: chocolate, coffee, jalapeƱo pepper juice. It’s actually yummy.


You’ve been given the honor of naming a planet, what would you name it?


KENYA
(Dugggh… aren’t most writers narcissistic or is it just me?)


If you were in a rock band what would the name of your band be? What would your rocker name be?


Venom!
Queen Kobra (I actually named myself that in high school when I thought I wanted to be a rapper.)


You have been locked in a mall and told you can get anything you want and when they open in the morning you won’t have to pay a single cent. What stores would you hit? Better question how would you haul away all your loot?


I’d hit the hell out of Barnes and Noble! There would be nothing left!!! I would devour all of the baked items, take every book in the fantasy and sci-fi sections, and snatch up all of those sexy journals they always are selling.
Roooooaaaaarrrrr!
(Sorry that was Zulu…)

And finally, have you got a sneak peek excerpt from your current work in progress you can share with my readers and me?


This is a sneak peek from Zulu’s POV short story “The Heart Ripper’s Song” which is in Caged View.

I leaned Nona’s way and asked, “You see her?”
“No, mon, but me smell her coming from over there.” Nona pointed far off to the right.
I shifted my eyes to black to get a better view and headed that way.
Where are you, Lanore?
And then I spotted her.
My heart sped up to an erratic pace. My cords vibrated on my arms. I knew that they glowed under the shirt.
It was what always happened when she was near.
Lanore swayed back and forth with the beat. A strapless plum dress wrapped around her cinnamon body. The silky material ended in the middle of her thighs but didn’t cover everything. Her waist, tiny belly button, and the top of her ample cleavage were exposed.
I licked my lips in anticipation, just happy to be near her for a few hours.
She kept Mixbreeds For Equality and myself out of the rest of her life, never letting me take her home, and didn’t stay too long at any of MFE’s social functions.
I grinned as she raised her hands and waved them around. Amethyst gems hung from her ears and dangled all the way to her shoulders. I’d slipped them in her jean satchel, without a note, one night when she wasn’t looking.
“And in this cage, behind these bars, I think of you and me,” York sung. “And how we held on.”
“We held on!”
Lanore jumped up and down, repeating the lyrics with the rest of the crowd. She’d curled those long, black dreadlocks tonight. They hung in spirals a little bit past her shoulders and bounced with her movement.
I got closer and spotted Wallace, MFE’s technical expert, jumping in front of her. He bobbed around like an idiot, getting her full attention. His bushy red hair flopped up and down as he twisted his hips. He wore a purple shirt with the fictional superhero Captain Habitat covering the front, as usual. His pale, splotchy fists pumped in the air.
She laughed, which motivated Wallace to act even crazier.
He kneeled down and started flapping his arms like he was flying.
She covered her mouth in clear amusement.
He’s always fucking making her laugh.
My hands formed into tight fists. I couldn’t do anything but stand back and bear it. She preached too much about peace. I figured ripping off Wallace’s arm might turn her off.
“Love whispers beyond the bars. It washes the pain. No more scars.”
I glided by her, rubbed my arm against hers as if there was just no space to maneuver through, and inhaled her scent of lavender mixed with sweet cream.
Our eyes met within the blinking laser lights.

Sounds interesting-I'll keep an eye out for it.


               Since the 1970’s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.
            Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.
            Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend Meshach and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.   
            While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?



I want to thank Kenya Wright for coming by, and remind everyone that she is giving away a $10 Amazon GC to one commenter on the tour. So make sure to leave a comment, and watch for this one-it does sound intriguing.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blood Rite A Blurb Only Tour


Today we have a different kind of visit: no interviews, but the blurb and excerpt from Melanie Atkins' new book, Blood Rite. Melanie will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one commenter on the tour, so be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win. Now for a brief bio of Melanie, and a peek at her new release.


Melanie Atkins is a multi-published author of romantic suspense. Writing is more than an escape for her—it’s a way of life. She grew up in the Deep South listening to tall tales and penning stories about her cats. Now she writes gripping stories of love, suspense, and mystery with the help of her furry little feline muses.

She is an active member of Romance Writers of America®, the Magnolia State Romance Writers (MSRW), the Published Author Network (PAN), the Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), Sisters in Crime (SinC), the Red Dog Writers, The Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA), Southern Writers, the Mississippi Writers Guild and the Byram Writers’ Group. She currently serves as Past President of MSRW.

Website/blog/social networking links:
Website:  http://www.melanieatkins.com
Blog:  http://melanieatkins.wordpress.com
Facebook:  http://www.face-book.com/melanie.atkins
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/melanie_atkins


Blood Rite
Melanie Atkins
Whiskey Creek Press

Women in New Orleans are dying; women New Orleans Police detective Nick Marconi has dated. To make matters worse, they have all been found with vials of his murdered sister’s blood in their throats. Nick is walking a tightrope between depression and rage. His superiors are worried about his mental health, so they send him to see psychiatrist Gracie Simmons.

Gracie is walking a tightrope of her own. She became a psychiatrist because she wants to help people, and in addition to private practice, she also treats police and parolees. The extra work gives her flashbacks about her father, however, a bad cop arrested when she was fifteen. Then a former flame harasses her, and her best friend turns up dead. Desperate for a distraction, she makes Nick her special project. Only… he doesn’t want to be saved.


Excerpts



 Excerpt 1:

The crime scene was awash in blood, its warm, coppery scent mixing with the fresh odor of rain that had fallen during the night.
New Orleans Police Department Detective Nick Marconi pulled on a pair of latex gloves and popped a square of mint gum into his mouth. Weary resignation set in as he sidestepped the overturned trash receptacle serving the far corner of the tiny park. Crime scene techs swarmed the scene, taking pictures and eyeing the rain-dimpled sand for any evidence, no matter how small, the murderer may have left behind.
Even with the icy tang of gum cleansing his palate, the stench of death made Nick’s stomach buck. He cursed himself for not getting the jar of menthol salve out of the sedan.
“Mornin’, Marconi. Got a grisly one for you.” Orleans Parish Medical Examiner, Pal Stewart, bobbed his thick gray head in greeting. “She’s cut from ear to ear and exsanguinated.”
“Well, hell. That explains all the blood.” Nick looked at Pal, who raised his eyebrows.
Then he steeled himself and looked down at the nude corpse. The woman lay on her side facing away from him, her pale hips cocked at an odd angle. Blood had crusted in her spiky blond hair, and a bright silver hoop earring stood out in stark contrast to her purplish right earlobe. The sand beneath her was stained a dull red, made pale by the rain.
“It’s a lot, but not enough.”
“What do you mean?” Nick frowned. “The ground’s saturated with it.”
Pal walked around the body. “He drained her blood here—” He turned and acknowledged a row of metal swing sets behind them. “And took it with him.”

Excerpt 2:

     Gracie Simmons stepped around her desk and rechecked her appointment book for the fifth time that day. Since lunch, she’d dealt with a woman with bi-polar disorder, an obsessive-compulsive fireman, and a shy teenager trying to find herself. Next up was a burned out cop.
     Not the best way to wind up the day. She rubbed her tense neck. Her nerves had been on edge ever since this morning, when she’d met with him. She closed her eyes and pictured her nurse’s neat handwriting on the crisp new folder. Thirty-nine year old white male. Presenting with non-specific complaints of depression and anxiety. The description didn’t even come close.
She was afraid he was deeply disturbed. His cool, calculated answers to her questions had scared the hell out of her.
     “Dr. Simmons?” Ashley, her part-time twenty-something receptionist, stuck her head in the door. Her long brown hair gleamed in the muted light. “Would you like some coffee before your four o’clock arrives?”
     “Yes, thank you.” Although it would take a hell of a lot more than a brimming mug of high-octane java to get her through her next appointment.        She never should have volunteered to handle cases for the police department while their regular psychiatrist was on military leave. Her dad had been a cop. A bad cop. And her childhood had been hell because of it. She certainly had no love for law enforcement professionals, especially those with problems on the job. If Dr. Myers wasn’t a good friend, she’d call him back and tell him she’d changed her mind.
     Her head pounded. She reached into her drawer for an oversized bottle of ibuprofen.
     Ashley came in and set a brimming cup of cream and sugar laced coffee on her desk. “Your patient’s in the waiting room.”
     “Already?” Gracie eyed the sunburst clock on the wall in surprise. She’d expected this guy to balk. “He’s ten minutes early.”
     Ashley shrugged. “At least you’ll get out of here on time today.”
     “True.”
     “Shall I send him in?”
    “Give me five minutes, okay?” Gracie picked up her coffee cup and took a small sip. “I need to do some deep breathing exercises.”
     “Sure.” Ashley smiled. “Yoga’s great when you’re feeling tense.”
     Gracie had to agree. She downed another mouthful of steaming coffee, set down her cup, and leaned back in her chair. If only she had time to get out her mat and do some simple stretches. Her body was as tight as a bow string.
She rested her hands in her lap, palms up, and closed her eyes. After a few seconds, she drew in a long breath, careful to fill her lungs and expand her ribcage. The stretch relaxed her. She held the breath for another long moment, and then slowly released a slow, steady breath.
A sense of calm enveloped her.
      She repeated the action three more times, growing more relaxed with each extended breath. Her neck grew less taut. Breath in, she told herself. Breathe out.
      Her cell phone rang. She muttered an ugly word.
      After two more rings, she yanked it from her purse and stared down at the display. Jerry Howard. The annoying guy she had dated for a while, and was now trying to blow off. There was no chemistry between them. No attachment, at least on her part. Why wouldn’t he take no for an answer?
   A brisk knock rattled the door. Gracie blinked, and struggled to orient herself.
     The knock rang out again.
    “Come in,” she said, quickly putting the phone on silent and dumping it back into her purse. She sat up straight in her chair.
     The door opened and Ashley appeared, followed by the most handsome man Gracie had ever seen. At least, he would be handsome if he got some sleep and maybe shaved once in a while. He was tall and rugged, with short jet-black hair and glacial blue eyes. Inky stubble rimmed his taut jaw. His gray suit fit him, but his coat looked like it had been worn for a week.
     “This is your four o’clock,” Ashley said, her eyes glued to the strapping man beside her despite his dishevelment. “Detective Nick Marconi.”
She stood there as if rooted to the floor.
     “Thank you, Ashley.” Gracie said, rising. Her mouth was as dry as river sand.
      Ashley didn’t move.
     Nick’s full lips curved in a weary, knowing smile that conveyed a world of information to Gracie. Namely, that he was arrogant, smug, and didn’t want to be in her office.


Thanks to Melanie Atkins for bringing this story to my attention. It sounds like a terrific and suspenseful book and I look forward to reading it. Be sure to comment for your chance at the $25 Amazon GC.