Shay, a Blade Whisperer, has made a promise. A promise she is determined to keep, no matter the consequences or the pain that promise might cause. She has searched long, following the countless whispers of forgotten blades, until one quiet whisper reveals the blade she seeks. And now that's she's found the bewitched dagger, she must fulfill her promise to set her lover free…by killing him.
Shay watched from the depths of her hood as the next player reached across the reed mat and tried his luck. The fine lace of his sleeves swayed as he rubbed the ivory sticks between his flawlessly smooth hands. Proof that she sparred with men who had not stood in the shadow of war but rather allowed others to do it for them.
Unable to stop herself, she leaned in toward the circle as the man flung the bones into the air. She watched the slender sticks twirl, over and over, end over end, in an impossibly slow assent. When they tumbled to the mat and came to a halt, she tried to look away, tried to act as if the tally meant nothing to her, yet she found she could not.
"Two stripes, but no arrow showing!" the game master shouted above the din filtering through the rickety walls—walls intended to shelter the gamer but not to stop a prying eye.
"The game continues. Wagers?" the game master called out as he retrieved the gaming sticks from the floor.
"Place 'em now, or kindly leave the game. High bidder holds the bones, losers moan."
The gamers tossed their wagers to the center of the mat to join the already impressive riches scattered there.
Bejeweled daggers and pressed silver leaf mingled with rare gold droplets and even rarer flat coins—treasures from the time before the Mage Wars gave birth to the Divide and split the world in two.
Shay lifted her brow, the only reaction she allowed herself. If she had held any doubts to the seriousness of the game or the sanity of its players, the appearance of these rarities dismissed them. One did not easily part with such Old World wealth unless one had plenty to spare, or like her, harbored a need that went far beyond earthly gain.
Unlike the others gathered here, Shay did not crave the riches spread before her. The only prize she sought was a small silver dagger with a blood red ruby set high in its hilt lying unnoticed among the shine of gold. A Spirit Blade, an ancient weapon, imbued with a magic far older than any lingering in this world, its full power awakened by Tereece, a mage Shay had once sworn her allegiance. A mage she now vowed to destroy for his treachery. The blade was the key to her quest and her revenge—revenge long overdue—and the only reason she had ventured into this mudhole of a town.
It had taken her over a year to find the dagger, following lead after lead, trusting only to the reluctant murmurs and forgotten voices from countless blades, phantom whispers only she could hear, until finally the dagger revealed itself to her. Now that she had found it, she intended to possess the blade—by whatever means it took.
What magic lurks in a selfless gift, whispered by one who has lost all hope save for love? On the eve when darkness must surrender its cold grip on the land and cede victory to the light of renewal, one such gift is offered, but what ancient earth spirit will answer?
Zachary kept his gaze trained forward as a bitter north wind pushed against his back, threatening to tear the tattered remnants of his cloak from his grasp. He wrapped the thin wool tightly about him, fearful that he would lose what little protection left him and die alone in this winter wasteland.
And would his fate be any different when he reached the end of his journey?
He clenched his fist over the clasp of his cloak, grimacing as its sharp edges pierced his skin through the worn leather of his gloves. He must go on, if for nothing else than to see her face one last time before darkness took him. 'Twas that single hope that kept him moving ever forward. He dare not dwell beyond that thought.
A mournful howl wound its way through the tall pines, the sound serving to enhance the solitude of the place. The wolf had trailed him for days, since he had entered this cursed land that had once been his home. The animal was never far from him, yet never so near as to leave itself vulnerable, if vulnerable it truly was.
"You shall not have me yet," Zachary whispered to the creature lurking within the murky shadows. "For I shall keep my promise to her. And then . . ." Zachary halted and stared directly into the wolf's glowing eyes. "And then, we shall see what fate holds for me."
Zachary crossed the frozen river as the last struggling rays of sunlight gave way to the rise of the moon, leaving the land awash in pools of silvery light. As he climbed the bank, he spied the circle of stark white birch trees that shielded the dais from mortal eye on all days save this one.
An unearthly glow gave life to the evergreen boughs draped across his lady's prison, the splash of color in an otherwise colorless world a beacon to his weary soul. This night would see him returned to the arms of his beloved, if only in his mind.
He knelt upon the dais and brushed aside the snow that hid her from his view. A shaft of moonlight shone down upon the form encased within ice, its glow illuminating the beauty of the face that had given him hope on an otherwise hopeless quest.
"My Lady of the Wood," he whispered as he looked upon a face frozen in eternal youth. "At long last, I have returned to your side." His numb fingers stroked the clear, smooth surface above her brow and trailed down the wavy outline of her delicate cheek. "And here I shall stay."
A slight shift in the silence caused Zachary to pause. He need not turn about to know the wolf waited just outside the circle of birch.
He ignored the creature as he laid his cheek directly above his lady's breast, and sighed as long sought understanding finally gave him clarity.
He pressed his lips against the ice and whispered, "My love, I have been a fool."
The wolf inched forward, but halted when Zachary withdrew a small acorn from his pouch and placed the tiny nut within the branches of the evergreen. "On this night of all nights, when the impossible may be made possible and moonlight cloaks the land in its ethereal glow, I evoke the magic of the ancient grove and ask that the spirits of those who have gone beyond look favorably upon me." He turned to stare into the wolf's ice-blue eyes.
The wolf drew closer, never taking his inhuman stare from Zachary. As he stepped into the protective circle, his form shimmered and changed. Gray fur blurred into a long flowing robe as silvery as the moonlight that shone upon it, while padded limbs that had inched silently through the snow, transformed to arms and legs.
The partners who run the business of eBook publisher, Books We Love Publishing Partners, would like to introduce ourselves and our authors to you, the reader of our Blog. We’ll start with introducing each of the partners. Today meet BWLPP's Creative Manager Sheri L. McGathy.
"Born in the Buckeye state, I was uprooted in 1971 and replanted amongst sunflowers, tornadoes, and college football. It's a good life." ~ Sheri L. McGathy
Who am I?
During the weekdays, I'm a Graphic Arts Coordinator/Copy Editor in prepress. In the evenings and weekends, I'm a writer. . . or I try to be. Sometimes that is debatable.
I'm often asked why I write fantasy, and I usually answer that fantasy, to me, evokes the wonder of dreams and unfettered possibilities. It can be filled with fanciful pleasures or unimaginable fears--all the things we believed in without question when we were kids. Fantasy is Santa and pixie dust, unicorns with long golden horns and white flowing manes. Fantasy is the monster that lurked in the shadows beneath your bed when you were little. Fantasy is fantastical and holds the promise that wishes just might come true if only we dare to believe. I write fantasy because I believe in the magic.
~:.*.:~~:.*.:~ May the magic always brighten your world ~:.*.:~~:.*.:~
BWLPP: How long have you been writing and in what genres?
SM: I've been telling stories most of my life, mostly fantasy, and writing them down since grade school. One of my best listeners was my dog, Babe. He always sat dutifully and listened to every story I told sometimes barking to show his approval.
I have dabbled a bit with some ghost stories but my love is Fantasy.
BWLPP: Where do you get your inspiration?
SM: I grew up around storytellers, so I suppose they gave me the gift of imagination. You definitely had to develop an imagination to appreciate those tales! The true love of fantasy started the day I read Shadow Castle...I've been a devoted fantasy reader and writer ever since.
Inspiration is all around us, it is up to us to be willing to see it.
BWLPP: Tell us about your book(s).
SM: I tend to write fantasy with a romantic thread. Most of my stories have roots in myth or lore and then I try to expand or take that lore in a new direction. Within the Shadow of Stone was born from my love of standing stone lore and a legend based on the King's Stone. Thief of Dreams, a story of love and emotion and magic, developed from my interest in old fairy lore and the mystery of faery rings. The Birth of Spring is told through the voice of my storyteller character from Elfen Gold and crafted in the fairy tale fashion of three. The Ancient One was conceived when I was doing research for another project. I began to ponder how did a god or goddess actually become a god or goddess and the story took shape from there. It was my attempt to answer my own question. One of my favorite stories is Where Lies Beauty; it is Tanner's story, and my own version of Beauty and the Beast. Tanner lives in a world that was changed by mages long before she was born. My short story Promises, takes place during the time the mages created that change. The Gift was a simple story, based on my notion that no gift goes unrewarded.
BWLPP: What about your next book?Will it be part of a series or a stand alone?Can you give us a taste to whet our appetites?
SM: Stand alone. I rarely write series. It is tentatively titled HOLE IN THE SKY. Here is a snippet from Chapter Two.
"Ah, Sandy, you're gonna spoil her," Shawn stated as he ducked under a limb and walked toward them. "Then she'll think she can come along on all our adventures."
"Just ignore him," Sandy said as he stood and loaded the sling's pocket with peas from his own jar. "And if you want, we can play the wishing game. You remember the wishing game, don't you?"
"No." Katie sniffed loudly as she backhanded a wayward tear off her cheek.
"Sure you do. You make a wish, and then take your shot. That way your wish will have wings."
A smile stretched across Katie's face as she dropped her sweater to the ground and laid her tattered rag doll on top. "You rest, Silkie," she whispered against the side of her doll's face. "I won't be gone long. I promise."
Katie wiped her hands down her overalls before taking the loaded slingshot. As she struggled to pull back the strap, Sandy stepped behind her and helped her draw it taut. "Now, just before you let the peas go, close your eyes and make a wish."
Katie nodded and aimed skyward toward the crow still circling the orchard. As she released her shot, she closed her eyes and whispered, "I wish the sky would open up and dump peas all over Shawn's head."
At that exact moment, the crow dipped lower, almost, Sandy thought, as if it was trying to hear what his sister had said.
"Katie, watch out!" Shawn protested as the tiny peas whizzed past him.
She stuck her tongue out at him.
Shawn placed his hands on his hips. He scowled, doing his best to look angry, but when Katie curled her tongue through the gape left by her missing front teeth and crossed her eyes, his anger crumbled into peels of laughter.
"Now can I be a pirate fighter?"
Her question only made Shawn laugh harder. "You'd make a better pixie."
Sandy shook his head. His brother didn't think girls had any place in his adventures. Not now, not ever.
Katie snatched Silkie off the ground and spun on her heels and headed toward the farmhouse. "I'm telling—"
A loud boom followed closely by the screech of the crow caused her to spin back around, her eyes wide. "What was that?"
"Look!" Sandy pointed skyward to where an odd dark cloud was rapidly forming in an otherwise cloudless sky. The same spot the crow had been only moments ago.
"Where did that come from?" Shawn took a step closer, his hand propped on his brow. "The dang thing is spinning like a cyclone, but it's acting all wrong. Whoa." He grabbed for Sandy's arm as the suction from the vortex threatened to lift him off the ground. Once free of its pull, he pointed skyward and shouted, "Jeepers, would you look at that? It's digging a tunnel into the sky!"
Fear held Sandy immobile as the thickening cloud ceased its spinning and folded in upon itself before stretching outward to form what could only be described as a gaping hole hanging in midair directly above them. It was very dark, nearly black, deep, yet small, hardly the circumference of a tractor tire. Lightning played along its edges, each rippling bolt releasing a strange rumbling from its core.
Before Sandy could utter a word, the dark mass seemed to exhale and spit out a shower of dried peas to rain down on Shawn's head and shoulders.
"Ow, ow, ow." Shawn hopped from one foot to the other as he pulled his jacket over his head and ran for the cover of one of the apple trees. The downpour followed him, the tiny peas playing a loud rat-a-tat-tat on the tree bark as they sought Shawn out.
"Jeepers," Sandy whispered. He turned to Katie. "Your wish came true."
"Double jeepers," Katie whispered back, her eyes wide. "It really did have wings."
Sandy nodded, but like Katie, kept his gaze locked to the shower of dried peas raining on Shawn alone.
While Sandy struggled to make sense of it all, the shower ended, leaving behind a strange quiet to hang over the orchard like a protective shield. Neither he nor Katie seemed inclined to move and break the spell holding them.
"What's the matter with you two?" Shawn demanded as he crept out from under the cover of the tree and brushed dried peas out of his hair. "Can't you see it? There's a hole in the sky." He grabbed Sandy's arm and dragged him toward the barn. "We need to get a ladder!"
BWLPP: Why did you choose to publish electronically?
SM: I thought it cool back in a time when others didn't.
BWLPP: What are your hobbies and interests?
SM: Art, reading, history - all types of history and writing.
WHAT IF EVIL VISITED THE ONE PLACE WHERE YOU FEEL THE MOST SAFE?
Following the breakup of her marriage, Rachael retreats to the old beachhouse in Jenny's Cove, where she once lived with her grandmother. It is the one place where she had always felt safe and loved. Devasted and lost, Rachael longs for the simplicity of her childhood.
But Jenny’s Cove has changed. From the moment of Rachael’s arrival, a man watches. He has already killed, and mercilessly will do so again. Soon Rachael becomes a target for a vicious predator whose own dark and twisted past forms a deadly bond between them.
And sets her on a collision course with a crazed killer.
"...Joan Hall Hovey is a female Stephen King... a stunning, multi-layered, modern-day gothic, told with the unforgettable style and grace of a true master of suspense..." Rendezvous Magazine
"...a taut thriller, woven with uncanny magic..." Cindy Penn, WordWeaving.com
“... a chilling hold-your-breath novel..." Evelyn Gale, All About Murder Reviews.
The year is 3033, and deep in the bowels of the underground galactic prison, something has gone terribly wrong. Rhonda Alendresis never wanted this prison job. When the civilians vanish and an earthquake damages the nuclear reactor, she must go down to repair it with Captain Perfect himself, Cole Riggeur, who always plays by the rules and never trusted a woman in his life. But in the underground penitentiary, the most wicked convicts in the Galaxy are loose, and a treacherous shape-shifter plans his revenge. Disconnected from the Garrison, against impossible odds, Cole and Rhonda now face their greatest challenge... trusting each other in order to survive.
"The action reminded me of an INDIANA JONES movie and the romance was equally intense." - Paranormal Romance Reviews
"the fantastic anticipation only a ticking bomb can generate, I was enthralled from page one" - 4 Stars rating - Lynn Lowe - Ecataromance
"...suspenseful, gripping saga of survival, betrayal, and hope...the resourcefulness and courage that occurs when a person refuses to admit defeat and die." - 5 Angels rating - Dena - Fallen Angel Reviews
Are Shadow, the grinning black cat, and Annabelle Coffinfinder, guardian of the crystal chandelier, the only lingering spirits in Mansion House, or are there more? When Kati Danson discovers her power of clairaudience, she decides to find out.
Forty-nine poems covering a period from my high-school years to the time of publication. A mixed bag of mainstream and genre offerings.
This is my most ambitious poetry collection to date. It includes work from as far back as 1974, when I was a sophomore in High School. I think you will be able to see the growth. I am pleased with the collection. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. -- Rie Sheridan Rose
The King has ordered the marriage of Lady Marta Shipton to a Russian Prince. Of course the King doesn't realize that Lady Marta is a prophetess, a fact that has been kept hidden from everyone but Marta's mother and father. In a vision Marta has seen her future and the face of her betrothed. Thus, even as she sobs her heart out in the arms of the steward of Gresham Manor, Marta knows her marriage is inevitable and that soon she must take her place in the Court of King Henry VIII.
Judith Pittman's ancestor, the 16th Century Prophetess who penned Mother Shipton's prophecies, lived and loved in a dangerous and intolerant society. Flames of Prophecy is a fictional account of the girl, Lady Marta Shipton, who became known as the prophetess, Mother Shipton.
Review from Amazon.com by Betty Sullivan La Pierre (Sunnyvale, CA United States)
"FLAMES OF PROPHECY" by Judith Pittman is a most enchanting tale. The author does a beautiful job of taking you through the life of Lady Marta and all the dilemma's she suffers. The story takes place in England during the era where Kings and Queens ruled their territories. Many died or were put into dungeons at the stroke of the rulers mighty pens. The smallest crime could be punishable by death or life in a horrible cell. Wars were fought in hand to hand battles and thousands of Kings along with their soldiers lost their lives defending their land.
Review by Juliet Waldron, Author of Mozarts Wife and other wonderful historicals.
"Flames of Prophecy" is set in the reign of Henry VIII, but with a unique twist. Marta is born to a noble family. She grows up in a country manor like any other lady, but she has a secret bloodline--she is sole heir to the throne of Moldavia. Driven out by the Turks, her father took refuge in England as a young man. Here he married and lived quietly, hoping to escape his enemies. There is more than royalty in Marta's background, however, there is magic, too, for she descends from seers. As she matures it becomes clear she too has the "gift" (or perhaps, "curse") of foresight. This is respected in the East, but in England prophecy is dangerous, for it is connected with witchcraft.
As Marta grows to womanhood, every day is filled with danger. First, Turkish assassins, who want the last Christian heir to the Moldavian throne dead, stalk her. Then the handsome, worldly Russian prince who is contracted to marry her arrives with a jealous, murderous lover in tow. When King Henry, the family's protector, dies, his unstable daughter Mary comes to the throne. Queen Mary dislikes Marta and is eager to burn all heretics and "witches." Written in a colorful romantic style, Flames of Prophecy is a fast read, with an engaging, strong heroine and plenty of action. How Marta manages to survive all her trials and to--perhaps--found a line of prophets in the English countryside--makes an intriguing, unusual story.
Flames of Prophecy
[Hampton Court, England, 1534]
Nicholas Shipton, Earl of Gresham, had been visiting Fairhaven, the southern home of his wife’s mother, Lady Margaret Sontheil, when King Henry’s messenger galloped onto the grounds.
“My Lord,” The messenger doffed his hat . “His Majesty has urgent need of your presence at Hampton Court.”
Nicholas bid goodbye to Lady Margaret, mounted his black stallion Thunder and hastened to obey the summons.
* * * * *
“Damn, the stench of this place!” He cursed as he rode through the gates of King Henry’s Palace at Hampton Court. Hooves, heads and entrails of deer and cattle in various stages of decay lay in fetid piles and packs of royal dogs snarled over the reeking portions. Rugs fouled by the dogs and thrown haphazardly over posts and pillars exuded noxious fumes. Nicholas’ home, Gresham Manor, lay in the North of England where the fragrance of heather and pine scented the air. He was unaccustomed to the squalor and filth that attended the Court.
Now, in the courtyard of the Palace, he dropped his reins and slid off Thunder’s back. “Here lad,” he hailed a young page. “Take my mount to the stables, see that a groomsman has him properly cooled and brushed before he’s given aught to drink.” He tossed the pale-faced boy a shilling and strolled towards the great hall. Here he pressed through swarms of clamoring petitioners as he moved towards the Presence Chamber.
“Greetings, Sire.” Nicholas stopped at the doorway and addressed the Steward. “I’ve received a summons from His Majesty.”
The Steward passed his eyes over the scroll and motioned him to a seat.
Knowing the King, Nicholas prepared for a lengthy wait. It had been years since he’d visited the royal Chambers, and he scanned the furnishings with critical interest. Sparkling jewels and finely weaved murals lined the walls, but Nicholas shuddered at the sight of imported sculptures and fine brasses stacked on piles of fouled rugs.
“His Majesty will see you now, Sire,” the Steward interrupted Nicholas’ inspection and led him into the Presence Chamber.
King Henry, resplendent in a crimson robe trimmed with gold ropes and flashing gems, nodded in response to Nicholas’ bow.
“You grow ever more like your revered father, my Lord Gresham. It’s been a good many years since God’s messengers called him homeward, but his foul murder still plagues my soul.”
A cold chill shot down Nicholas’ spine as he took a seat facing the King.
“I’ve no use for those Turks,” the King continued. “They’re a bloodthirsty bunch of barbarians, and it’d be a fine Christian act to rout them from your Kingdom.”
“I’m afraid I’ve had no opportunity to look into the plight of my countrymen these past years,” Nicholas mumbled.
King Henry nodded. “I’ve long cursed the fates that I’ve been unable to help restore your throne, but at last I’m happy to say there might be a way.”
Nicholas froze. He loved his life in England, and he hadn’t the slightest interest in the Moldavian throne. Years ago he had been rescued from Moldavia by Tarot, a gypsy King, who’d raised him as his own. Tarot warned Nicholas that one day duty might force a return to his native land but until recently he’d all but forgotten Moldavia.
“I’m grateful for your majesty’s concern.” Nicholas chose his words with care, mindful not to anger the King. “Truth to tell though, I’ve never felt much like a King, and my life in England has been happy and fulfilling.”
“That’s good to hear my lord.” The King’s tone held a mild rebuke. “Still, as I myself have often found, duties have a way of intruding on a man’s pleasure.”
Nicholas steeled himself to hear what King Henry had to say and accept his fate. The King, however, changed the subject.
“I’m told you have a comely daughter.”
Nicholas’ face lit up “She’s a beauty, our Marta. She has the grace and charm of her mother, but she gets her flaming tresses from my father. With her sapphire eyes and auburn hair she could almost pass for a pagan goddess.”
King Henry lifted his brows, and Nicholas hurriedly added. “Oh, there’s no mistaking the noble British blood that runs through her veins. I like to think her beauty is a compliment to the mingling of bloodlines.”
“I’d heard she pleased the eye.” The King nodded approval. “That’s why I know you’ll be glad I’ve arranged an excellent marriage.”
Nicholas’ mouth dropped. “But your m-m-majesty – Lady Kathleen and I planned to have her grandmother, Lady Margaret, present her at court next spring.”
King Henry shook his head. “Lady Marta’s royal birth requires consideration. You’ll find the match quite suitable. The husband I’ve chosen is Prince Frederick of Russia, a cousin to the Tsar’s own betrothed.” The King fixed Nicholas with a hard eye. “There are many advantages to this match, and since the Tsar won’t rule without his guardian for another six years, Prince Frederick and Lady Marta will remain in England for the duration.”
Nicholas forced a smile. Even in Gresham, Nicholas and Lady Kathleen were privy to Court gossip. Only last year Prince Frederick’s affair with Lady Millicent was the talk of the Court. The affair ended abruptly when Prince Frederick returned to Russia, and King Henry appeased the Lady’s angry father by betrothing her to a disfavored Duke. Nicholas shuddered to think what sorrow that careless young man might bring to Marta.
The King however was well satisfied. “Frederick will arrive in early fall. It would be well for Lady Marta to be presented to the Court at once.”
“I shall return to Gresham Manor and make preparations.” Nicholas bowed and left the Chamber.
When Stella's niece Mikki calls with news that she is expecting a baby by a married man--whom Stella considers a self-centered jerk -- things seemed bad enough. But when the "jerk" turns up dead after denying any responsibility for the baby and insisting that Mikki get an abortion, things get worse in a hurry. Stella turns to Kelly McWinter to set things right but he soon discovers a tangled web of secrets and lies that threaten a young woman's freedom and put friendships to the test.
"Texas humor, heart-pounding action, sexy nuances and mounting suspense. Excitement, intrigue, local flavor and hot, steamy romance titillate the senses.
MIKKI'S SONG is full of surprises. Author Jude Atkins knows how to handle characters and build drama and suspense. Will there be MIKKI'S SONG, then sit back and enjoy a tightly plotted whodunit." ~ Vi Janaway, Romance Reviews Today
A fabulous mixture of Texas humor, heart-pounding action, sexy nuances and mounting suspense. There's plenty of excitement, plenty of intrigue, a local flavor to tickle the toughest of taste buds and a good serving of hot, steamy romance to titillate the senses. The second of Jude Atkins' Indian Creek, Texas novels, Betraying Mikki reads like a locomotive with non-stop action from beginning to end.
…Mikki is a riveting tale of greed, deception and murder served up with a generous helping of hot, steamy romance.
…Mikki is a totally engrossing, can't-put-it down story that draws you in and won't let you go. A bit of romance and love also creeps into the riveting storyline, giving it a wholesome feel. Ms. Atkins ties up all the loose ends quite neatly and ends the novel on solid footing. She leaves the reader anticipating more in the Texas series. All in all, an excellent read! ~ Bramble Nymph, LITERARY NYMPHS.
Mikki slipped the peach chiffon over her head, smoothed it down her hips and peered into the full-length mirror. A frown tugged at her lips and her eyes focused on the bulge below her waist.
“Darn,” she muttered. “It shows already.”
Tonight, over a romantic dinner, she planned to tell Alex about the baby and she didn’t want him guessing beforehand.
Not long now. She glanced at her watch. In the bathroom, she applied makeup and took a brush to her short curly hair—finishing it off with a few tendrils pulled around her face. After fastening a gold chain around her neck, she slipped her feet into high-heeled sandals and stood back to inspect herself. Satisfied, she turned out the vanity light and hurried into the living room. She’d made reservations at Mystique Taverna for nine and it was nearly eight but Alex still hadn’t arrived.
“I should’ve made them for ten,” she muttered, pulling aside the draperies and peering out at the street.
Another half-hour passed before Alex’s Mercedes pulled up to the curb and intending to meet him out front, Mikki grabbed her wrap, flipped off the lights and stepped into the hall. The elevator light was already lit—probably Alex—so she locked her apartment and waited.
“I’m ready,” she said, when the elevator doors slid open and Alex emerged. “We’ve got to hurry because I made the reservations for nine.”
Alex bent down and brushed her mouth with his lips.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, pulling her against his chest. “I like the dress.” His hand moved over her shoulder and he slid a finger into the hollow between her breasts, pushing the chiffon aside to expose her lacy bra.
Mikki’s eyes tilted to meet his. “We’re going to be late,” she said.
“Hmmm.” He pulled her closer and slipped her bra strap down her arm. “I just want a taste,” he murmured, grasping the lace with his lips and running his tongue across her nipple.
“The reservations,” she moaned.
Laughing, he lifted her into his arms and swung her around to face the apartment. “We’ll call them. It’s not food I’m hungry for right now.”
Mikki wrapped her arms around his neck and sighed. There was no use arguing with Alex.
“Hand me the key,” he mumbled against her neck.
Mikki pulled it from her bag, handed it over and lay back in his arms while he unlocked the door and carried her inside.
“Let me telephone first,” she begged when he started toward the bedroom. Alex chuckled, changed direction and stopped in front of the couch, where he held her suspended for a moment, then dropped her onto the soft cushions.
Mikki tossed her head in an exasperated shake and reached for the phone to call the Mystique Taverna. Alex crouched beside her and slid her dress up her legs.
Mikki bit her lip and tried to concentrate on the ringing phone while Alex’s fingers explored the lace of her panties.
Welcome to the world of Indian Creek, Texas, where you'll meet some of the most amazing characters to ever grace the pages of fiction. Kelly McWinter, a retired cop who has sought out a simpler life in Indian Creek while trying to put a personal tragedy behind him. Kelly's dog, Jake, a German Shepherd who has fought some battles of his own and is still the best partner a man could ever hope for. Anna Davis, an old woman hiding from her past whose secrets come back to haunt her.
"...this is an old-fashioned whodunit with a Texas twang ambiance." ~ Patricia Harrington / About.com
"SHADOWS ARE DEADLY kept me guessing. Just when I thought I knew "whodunit," I'd turn the page and discover someone new with the means, motive and opportunity. If you like an entertaining mystery that will confound you until the very end, SHADOWS ARE DEADLY is for you. I highly recommend it and look forward to more from this talented storyteller." ~ Marilyn Miller, Mystery Maven
"SHADOWS ARE DEADLY has enough bends and splinters to throw a reader into a quandary trying to figure out who is the guilty party. It was certainly a surprise to me. If you are in the mood for a whodunit, I recommend SHADOWS ARE DEADLY." ~ Vi Janaway, Romance Reviews Today
SHADOWS ARE DEADLY
“You just try to throw me out of this cockroach-infested whorehouse.” Anna’s high-pitched shriek echoed through the front door of the Hideaway Bar.
Kelly McWinter, in the act of stepping across the sill, stopped mid-stride and cursed his luck. He’d agreed to meet bar owner Cam Belsher for a couple of beers but if he’d known Anna was on one of her rampages, he’d have turned Cam’s invitation down flat. Gritting his teeth and preparing to face the inevitable, Kelly strolled across to the bar. A cloud of thick blue smoke cloaked the semi-dark room and Kelly aimed his eyes toward the sound of Anna’s voice.
“Cam’s got his hands full tonight,” Darlene, Cam’s barmaid, stopped beside Kelly and pointed across the room to where a scrawny little woman in an old black poncho had Cam backed as far up against the pool table as he could get without settling his backside onto the felt.
“Sure looks that way,” Kelly agreed. “Bring me a cool one, will you? I’ve got a feeling I’m going to need a couple of them.”
Turning back to watch the show, Kelly was just in time to catch Cam’s eye. “Help!” the desperate barman mouthed a plea and with a resigned shrug, Kelly swung his leg off the barstool and headed across the room.
“What’s wrong with my best gal?” Kelly moved in front of Anna blocking her view of Cam.
“Stupid jackass says I can’t hold my whiskey.” Anna lifted her head and wobbled unsteadily.
“Whoa. Steady now.” Kelly reached out to catch her shoulders just as she lurched and landed flat against his chest. Giggling, she tilted her head and gave him a drunken smile.
Kelly sighed and tightened his arm around her shoulders. He liked Anna a lot, even if she was a drunk. “Easy now.”
He took her arm and steered her toward a table where Bubba Tate and Leroy Elliott were set up with one of those giant bottles of whiskey that Southerners refer to as Texas Mickies.
“How’s it going, boys?” Kelly nodded to Bubba and Leroy.
“Hey, Kelly!” Bubba grinned at Kelly and reached over to pull out a chair. “How ya doin’?”
“Not bad,” Kelly helped Anna into the chair and rested his arm along the backrest.
Bubba, a bowlegged, potbellied shorty with the face of a mischievous boy, pushed his cowboy hat back on his forehead and pointed at the bottle. “Care for a shot?”
“Thanks, I’ll pass but Anna could probably do with one,” Kelly picked up a glass and handed it across the table. “I’m going over to have a chat with Cam, so how about you boys keep her company for a spell?”