Winner – Katee Roberts e-book is Michele

The winner for the Queen of Swords e-book is Michele, comment #6 on Katee’s post. She did not leave an email address.

Michele – please email me at torymichaels@live.com so I can put you in touch with Katee!

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Thursday Word-Slingers – Guest Denise Grover Swank

My guest today is Denise Grover Swank and she’s giving away a $10 Amazon gift card. Usual rules apply, 1 week for comments, winner announced next Friday! Take it away, Denise!

1)                  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing off and on my entire life, but I got serious about my writing about six years ago.

2)                  How many balls do you juggle on a daily basis, and how do you manage to keep them all in the air (usually), (ball = work, writing, family, etc.)

Oh dear.  A lot. Some mornings I wake up in a bit of a panic wondering if I’ll get everything done that day.  I have six kids, but only four my time and attention. The oldest has moved out and my twenty-one year old son is self-sufficient. Writing is my work now, but I consider it two full time jobs. There’s the business side and there’s the writing side. It’s tough trying to balance the two some days. Then there’s the running a house full of kids as a single parent. The house gets messy at times. Thank goodness I just hired  someone to start cleaning my house every other week!

3)                  When is your next release due out and can you tell the audience about it?

My newest release is Sacrificeand it just came out last Friday, March 23. It’s the third book in my The Chosen series. Chosen and Hunted, the second book, have done better than I ever hoped for! I hope Sacrifice is loved just as much.
 And then I’m re-launching my humorous southern mystery, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes with its new cover. It also has paranormal aspects. Rose, the main character, sees visions which land her into a heap of trouble at the beginning of the book. I’ll be running a two day free promo on Amazon on April 5 and 6.
4)                  It looks like the majority of your books have a bit of the paranormal, though I do see a couple which look to be mysteries as well. What is it about the two genres that you like so much?
I have three series with different genres right now—urban fantasy (The Chosen series), a young adult science fiction romance (On the Otherside series) and a humorous southern mystery series (Rose Gardner Mysteries).  All three have these things in common: There’s some type of mystery, thriller moments (less so in the Rose Gardner Mysteries), romance and a fantasy element.  The Chosen and On the Otherside series are more in common than Rose. They are darker while Rose is laugh out loud funny. But I like writing the two extremes. After my soul goes to deep and dark places, it’s like someone threw open the windows to air it out a bit.
 Why both paranormal and mystery? Hmm… I love to daydream as a kid and my daydreams were fantastical. I also prefer some type of fantasy or paranormal to the books I read. I’m not much into contemporaries. I read and write to escape my contemporary life. I think my childhood daydreams carry over into that. Why mystery? I think it’s because I love to question things. I love to try to figure things out. When I wrote my first mystery (an unpublished mess chained to my hard drive) I wondered if I could do it. It was a challenge for me. Now everything I write has some type of mystery element.

5)                  Do you think you’ll move to another genre, and if yes, what to and when?

I won’t say I won’t write another genre, but I don’t have any plans to right now. (I do have an unfinished middle grade urban fantasy on my hard drive I’d love to pick back up someday.)
 I’ll be starting a new series in May, which will be an urban fantasy with a romance. My main character Eli will carry throughout the series. I’m still getting to know her in my head, but so far I am loving her and can’t wait to get started writing. At the moment, I’m struggling with whether to write it in third person (like The Chosen series) or in first. I’m leaning toward first.

6)                  I’m sure you’ve gotten the question before, but why did you decide to self-publish? Have you had good success with it, and would you ever consider a mainstream publisher if you got the opportunity?

I decided to self-publish my first book, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, because no one wanted it. I’d get requests, but they always came back with very generic rejections. “Great voice/great plot/great characters but not for me. I had no idea what to fix, yet my twenty-plus beta readers LOVED it. So, in the spring of 2011 I decided why not try to self-publish it and see what happened?  It was a TON of work. More than I anticipated, but I am so thankful I took that scary leap. I released Twenty-Eight in July 2011 and I’ve sold nearly 8000 copies so far. I hope to really boost sales with my new cover and putting it for free on Amazon on April 5 and 6. Twenty-Eight has 50 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.7.
 Then there’s my The Chosen series. I published Chosen after receiving multiple rejections that said “Love the story but don’t think I can sell it.” Yet again, my beta readers loved it like rabid dogs. After I had success with Twenty-Eight the very first month I released it, I decided to publish Chosenand its already written second book, Hunted. I released Chosen in September and Hunted in November. I’ve sold over 32,000 copies of Chosen in six months and 18,000 copies of Hunted in four months and I’ve had one foreign rights offer.  I just released the third book in the series, Sacrifice, last week.
 Deciding to self-publish was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m building a reader base. I get to know my readers on Twitter and Facebook (my platform) and I’m not only making money, but significant money I wouldn’t have made if I’d sold either series in a traditional book deal.
 Still, I hope to get a traditional book deal. That’s why I’m writing a new series for my new agent (who found me and approached me because of Chosen’s success) to shop to traditional publishers. I’d like to grab the attention of readers who don’t buy their books on Amazon. I’d like to see my book on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf. It’s a business decision. A calculated one. I suspect I’ll lose money on the books I sell in a traditional deal, but I’m counting on the payoff of new readers. 

7)                  Silliness 1: Sweet or sour?

Sweet J

8)                  Silliness 2: Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?

Chocolate! Vanilla is wasted calories. (TM – I thoroughly agree)

 FAN INFO
DeniseGroverSwank@gmail.com  I LOVE reader email and respond to all!
Do you have a website, twitter, or blog? If yes, I’ll be happy to post any/all with the interview.
Blurb
Sacrifice
She was dead. 

No. She only wished she was. 

Everything Emma loves has been ripped away—Jake, Will, and her unborn baby. Within minutes of confronting her new reality, Emma is thrust in the middle of a war between two supernatural beings and she’s the prize. Raphael convinces Emma that Will is dead and that he’s the only hope for saving her son, but she resents Raphael’s dangerous supernatural hold over her. After a revelation from Alex, Emma suspects the only way to escape Raphael’s control is to find the fourth element—Water. 

He was losing his mind. 


You can’t love someone you don’t know. 

The Vinco Potentia thinks Will knows something about a woman he doesn’t remember. Will’s only memory of Emma is their few minutes together in the forest, but he is consumed with emotions for her—love and belonging. When James shows up and helps Will escape, his story seems off and Will wonders what he’s hiding. So while James wants to find way to sever Will’s connection to Emma, but Will’s not convinced he wants to be free. 

You are not bound to destiny. 

The book stolen from the Vinco Potentia holds the key to a new set of rules and everyone involved will stop at nothing to get it. Torn between her destiny and her desires, Emma will face her biggest sacrifice yet.


Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes
For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There isn’t enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Rose realizes she’s wasted twenty-four years of living and makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt: twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before her vision comes true. She’s well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking, but won’t help with number fifteen– do more with a man. Joe’s new to town, but it doesn’t take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got plenty secrets of his own. 

Somebody thinks Rose has something they want and they’ll do anything to get it. Her house is broken into, someone else she knows is murdered, and suddenly, dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn’t her biggest worry after all.


And there you have it! Ms. Denise Grover Swank! I know I liked hearing about her books. Now get to commenting so you can win the gift card, or else go out and buy the blasted books anyway! 🙂

No, I haven’t forgotten the Katee Robert contest. I’ll be announcing the winner later today. My apologies for the delay.

Life, Reviews and Blood-Mage Rising Excerpt

Hi, everyone! It’s been a bit since I just did an update on, well, just stuff in general, so I thought I’d do it here and now!

Finally crested the 10k views mark this past weekend, woot! Definitely been an upsurge in interest the last few months, and for that I greatly appreciate everyone!

My twins turned 1 last Thursday and we did the cake thing this weekend. I just can’t not share a couple of these pictures.

You can guess which is the “before” and which is the “after” pictures. I put the whole “Twins Meet Cake, Cake Meets Doom” series up on my facebook page. Friend me and check it out if you’re interested!

I’ve been blessed with some absolutely FABULOUS reviews.

The TBR Pile – 5 Star/4 Fuzzy Handcuffs 
You Gotta Read – 4 Stars
It’s kinda cool and fun finding these awesome reviews out there. Now, pssst, go tell your friends! 
Now for the rest of my post, I wanted to offer up the final half of Chapter One from Blood-Mage Rising for your reading pleasure. Part One is here.  Hope you enjoy Part Two, and I look forward to its release in just over two weeks now! ::happy dance::

By the time Chris pulled into the quiet community she lived in, she didn’t have a headache any more. The soothing sounds of opera singer Robert Kinsale, the only musician she truly loved, worked their usual magic on her.
Thanks to the airport detour, it was late, but not deadly late yet for someone halfway through their third century. The windows in her truck were tinted to the fullest extent legal for a member of the Blood, but she hadn’t gotten around to treating them like the windows at the airport. Too high a price tag.
She pulled into the driveway of her townhouses. Back when the developers built the community, she had bought adjoining units and knocked out some of the connecting walls to get more space. One of these days, she intended to clean out the garages so she could park inside, rather than have to brave the daylight when she got in late like this.
Taking a deep breath, she bolted for the front door, making a last-second detour to her mailbox. She’d been gone for several days. The trip only took fifteen seconds, but her skin turned red before she got the key turned and scooted inside. The tinting gave her some protection when inside the truck, but she’d really pushed her tolerances. She’d never come so close to her limits that she felt the needle-like pinpricks warning of imminent combustion.
Only after closing the door did she remember her laptop, still tucked under the passenger seat of her truck.
“Well damn.”
Chris tossed her keys into the geode that doubled as a key bowl in the niche by the front door and turned to face the door that blocked her nemesis: the sunlight. Did she really need the computer before evening?
Unfortunately she did. All the pictures of the murders were on it directly, rather than stored in the cloud. The matter was too sensitive to risk a chance hacking.
Still trying to decide while she waited for her skin to fade to its normal pale peach instead of lobster red, she flipped through the stack of mail. The lot consisted of bills, including a reminder from the Florida Bar to renew her registration and the ever-present “Attend our conference and get your CLE requirements filled” ads.
Stupid junk mail.
The emblem of the Bureau of Non-Human Affairs on the last envelope furrowed her brow into a scowl. What do they want? She paid her fees to gain access to the blood banks, and the Bureau should know better by now than to bug her about serving as a Council Rep. She ought to get something out of being involved in the foundation of the quasi-public entity.
A whisper of sound caught her attention as she started to slit open the envelope. Her internal alarm went off. She paused, tilted her head to the side, listening. The expected noises filtered in. A fan ticked in her den; the a/c forced air through the ducts; and water flowed into the icemaker. All soft, all normal, but the alarm continued to jangle.
Chris dropped the mail into the niche next to the geode and slid her right hand down to grab hold of the hilt of her silver and mahogany knife from her boot. She left its twin, mahogany and titanium, in the other holster untouched. The familiar hilt felt good in her grip, but she didn’t pull the weapon. It was probably just nerves left over from Xanthea’s odd visit.
That might be the case, but she didn’t go back to her truck to retrieve her computer or continue opening mail. Instead, Chris bounced on the balls of her feet, thinking. She extended her senses to sweep the townhouse for any sign of intruders. Mage-born she could find. Most vampires and all dhampires would show up on such a sweep as well. Only vampires older than she, deliberately concealing their presence, and shifters could hide from her. Nothing pinged.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Something felt off, and she hadn’t survived this long by ignoring her instincts. Whoever the intruder was, they knew she was there. Trying to hide her movements was pointless.
She edged down the hall, still feeling out the surrounding with her thoughts. The intruder might make a mistake, and she’d catch them. Nothing looked out of place in the kitchen. Rich cherry floors echoed softly at her tread as she left and headed for the den through the swinging door.
At first glance, nothing looked wrong. The plasma screen mounted on the wall, dark brown overstuffed sectional with its plumped cushions, and her stereo system all looked normal. That’s when she noticed the glistening silver ice bucket on the sideboard. A bottle of wine, a twenty year-old bottle of Riesling she’d paid almost a grand for, poked out of the top, and she saw ice filling it about three-quarters of the way.
“Son of a were-bitch.” She stalked over to the bucket to study the half-empty bottle without letting her guard down. Only a few of her friends drank white wine, and they wouldn’t hunt down the good stuff. None of her close friends could hide from her either, since she was the oldest member of the Blood residing in the state.
“I know you’re here. Might as well show yourself now.” No point wasting her time on a phone call to the police. Ditto for the Bureau. They’d be useless against her intruder. “Did it have to be the Riesling?”
Phantom laughter touched her thoughts, and her stomach plummeted. Chris gritted her teeth. He wasn’t supposed to have shown up so soon. His arrival made a perfect end to the crappy night and morning.
“I’m not playing games, damn it.” She plastered her back against the wall. Standard battle tactic for an experienced member of the Blood, the intruder remained in his mist form. Against the wall this way, he couldn’t pop in and stick a stake in her from behind. She knew the trick, used it frequently when she needed a quick kill shot.
“I like games. This is fun. Can you find me before I pounce? Maybe I came to kill you this time.” Jordan MacNaught’s voice, a mix of English and Scottish, sounded like nails down a chalkboard to her. Cold sweat trickled down the side of her face with the high-pitched giggle that jangled in her head.
He wanted to incite fear with that laugh, and it worked. Her heart slammed against her rib cage, but she managed to breathe normally. God, she hated the giggle; it brought back memories of the first time she’d heard the hideous noise, the night he buried her.
Show no fear.
Jordan fed off fear; it turned him on. She survived knowing him, intact save for the incident, because she didn’t give in to fear no matter what he did.
He can’t kill me without serious consequences, she reminded herself firmly. “I talked with Stuffy Britches. They think you’re involved with the murders. Killing me isn’t going to help you convince him otherwise.”
She wasn’t above lying. Her visitor wasn’t a suspect, at least not for the powers-that-be, namely Anthony. And while Jordan’s old modus operandi matched the current victims, she agreed with Xanthea’s assessment that the plot was too wide-spread.
“It would be fun.” He pouted like a child denied sweets because she wouldn’t play his game.
She shrugged and assumed a casual pose, crossing one leg over the other. Her gaze flitted over the room, looking for any sign of his misty form. The only thing she picked up was the dark suit coat draped nonchalantly over the back of the widest piece of the sectional. “A few minutes or hours of torture. Sure, that might be fun for you. But if you kill me, I’d be gone, and you seem to like popping in from time to time.”
Most of the time, the approach worked. One day it wouldn’t, and then she’d die.
No answer, not even a giggle. Chris thudded her head against the wall behind her. “You can’t hide forever. Even Xan can only hide for twenty-nine minutes that way, and she’s a lot older than you.”
Sharp pain swiped at her neck, fang-like. She put her hand to her throat to reassure herself the bite wasn’t real. No blood. Just a phantom touch. She would love to use telekinesis, but it was too risky. Those her age rarely had the strength to do it, and she didn’t need any avoidable attention focused on her.
Teeth scraped down the side of her throat at the same moment ghostly fingers caressed her thigh, sending a shiver of a different sort zipping merrily through her. Damned dirty trick. Time to end this.
“Why are you here?”
God help her, she had to draw him out. He wanted to play. Until she went along, they couldn’t get down to business.
“It’s been nine years, six months, and fourteen days, Chrissy. Why do you thinkI’m here?”
She shuddered, drawing in a shaky breath. Like him, she knew to the day how long it had been since their paths last crossed. Tides and taxes were no more reliable than their need, the hunger, for one another. They’d definitely lengthened the time between their encounters in the past forty years, but she hadn’t been able to totally steer clear of the man. Chris hated needing him, even as she craved his touch. But now was not the time. She moved away from the wall and let her guard down. Just enough.
Prepared to take the first blow, she still saw stars when blunt force slammed the back of her head. She staggered, caught herself before she fell, and spun around with her second weapon drawn now. No sign of Jordan.
Chris snarled. “I’m not afraid of you. Stop playing, and let’s get down to the real reason you’re here. I know it’s not just to annoy me.”
“Play the game first. You know the rules: no weapons, and we play until one of us wins. Only then will we deal with why I’m here.”
Life would be so much easier if he’d just die already. Or kill her. The universe “gifted” her with an attraction to a sociopath, thanks to weakness in her youth. Jordan thought fights that might turn deadly with the first spilled blood “fun”, and to make matters worse, he appeared to consider her a friend, or at the very least like a puppy in need of training. Ugh.
The sooner she finished playing the scuffle out, the sooner they got down to business, and then she could get on with what she needed to do. She edged to the sideboard, and slowly set her knives down on top, though didn’t release her grip on the hilts. She wanted the rules established first.
“Normal forfeit?”
“Unless you care to make it really interesting and offer me your blood.”
She needed to avoid that at all costs. He was far too old and would recognize irregularities in her taste. The forfeit sucked, especially with Anthony so close, up in Tampa. The last thing she needed was to get caught stepping out with Jordan. “You might lose.”
“Unlikely.”
Swallowing hard, she made herself release both knives and step away. No reason she had to fight to her best ability. Her competitive nature demanded victory, but the realist in her pointed out the slim chance of that. Better to let him win so they moved on. “Let’s go. Show yourself, you piece of crap.”
 The air in front of her swirled; mist heretofore unseen coalesced, and just like that, there he stood. Just a smidge taller than she, swimmer’s lean physique wrapped in a three-piece navy suit sans jacket, topped with an angel’s too-pretty face, the Bloody Baron smiled pleasantly, thumbs hooked in his vest pockets. Blond hair, impeccably combed into place, brushed his forehead just above brilliant green eyes that could alternate between passion and ice in less than a blink. He smiled, showing his fangs. “Always a pleasure to see you, too, Chrissy.” 

World-Slingers – Guest Tamaria Soana

Happy Monday, everyone! My guest today, Tamaria Soana, comes to you through Sizzling PR and she’s got a fantastic sounding book out called Obsession. Hope you enjoy meeting Ms. Soana!


1) How long have you been writing? 

Since I was a child I dabbled in it. About 3 years spinning actual stories

2) How many balls do you juggle on a daily basis, and how do you manage to keep them all in the air (usually), (ball = work, writing, family, etc.)

I’m a stay-at-home mom. So finding time to write can be tricky, not to mention cleaning and errands. I need like 10 more hours in each day. LOL

3) When is your release due out and will you tell the audience about it?

Obsession released on March 19th

Alexandria Stevens is a New York Times best-selling romance novelist. After she makes a guest appearance on a popular TV talk show, she creates a Twitter account. Within a few short weeks she meets a fan, and they become fast friends…or that’s what Alex thinks. When Alex finds herself being stalked, the person she least suspects is her new friend Jillian. What she doesn’t know is that Jillian has been obsessed with her for years. She wants everything Alex has, even her husband.

4) What is it about the romantic suspense genre that you like so much?

I never thought I would. This story just needed to be told.

5) Do you think you’ll move to another genre, and if yes, what to and when?

My future publications will be romance/erotica

6) Sweet or sour?

sweet

7) Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?

chocolate

 EXCERPT

Alex went into her study to answer some emails and go over the script for her movie again when the doorbell rang. Knowing Hudson was on a conference call, she went to answer it. She looked out the window to find a deliveryman with a long, white box. Her heart melted, Hudson had flowers delivered for her. He was always so romantic and thoughtful. God, she loved him.


Alex opened the door and signed for the flowers. As she took them to the kitchen to place them in a vase, her mind wandered to all the ways she could thank Hudson properly after his conference call was over. Her favorite one involved her being down on her knees. Alex couldn’t wait to see and smell the beautiful flowers. Giggling, she untied the ribbon and anxiously lifted the lid.


She screamed and dropped the box. It was filled with a dozen black roses, a purple plastic butterfly attached to one stem. Fear rocked through her body as she remembered the note left on her car. Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly. I will collect you and capture you.Alex fell to the floor and wrapped her arms around herself.


“Alex, oh my God. Are you okay? What happened?” Hudson asked as he placed his arms around her trembling body.


She pointed to the black roses. “I thought you sent me flowers,” she stuttered in between her sobs.


Hudson looked at the roses with confusion, then Alex pointed to the butterfly and told him about the note she’d found on her car and how Colleen said it was nothing, probably a sick prank.


“You should’ve told me, baby. I’m calling your father, this isn’t just a prank.” Hudson dialed Anthony, Alex’s father and a police detective. Hudson held her tight and assured her that he wouldn’t let anything happen to her and they would find out what was going on.


Anthony was at his daughter’s side within fifteen minutes with two policemen in tow. He asked a few questions and took the flowers for evidence. Alex just clung to Hudson as her father lectured her for not telling anyone about the note that had been left on her car. He was upset that the note had been destroyed, because there could’ve been forensic evidence on it that would help them figure out who was doing this.


Alex looked into her father’s eyes, he looked both angry and conflicted. She knew this had to be hard on him. He had to be both her father and the detective on the case. He assured them he would try and keep a lid on it for as long as possible. Alex let out a moan knowing what would happen if the media found out about it.


Hudson asked Anthony about the possibility of the police providing some sort of security for Alex. She objected, saying she didn’t want to be babysat. Her father quickly dismissed her objection, stating it was a good idea and he would arrange regular patrols of the street. He swore to her that he would catch the psycho who was stalking her. He hugged her before he left, which took Alex by surprise because he never showed emotion.


When everyone was finally gone, Hudson got Alex some water and two sleeping pills. Soon she was in bed wrapped in Hudson’s arms. Although she was both emotionally and physically exhausted, she felt safe next to him. She sighed and snuggled as close to his warm body as she could as she wiped away a tear and drifted off to sleep.


Alex woke to her cellphone ringing over and over again. Who the hell keeps calling? She moaned as she grabbed her phone from the bedside table. When she looked at the screen and saw who the caller was, she rolled her eyes.


“Mom?”


“Oh my God, Alexandria, are you okay? Why do I have to find out from the media that someone is stalking my daughter?”


Alex just let her mother rant—no good would come out of trying to stop her and explain things until she had it all out of her system.


“And a movie deal? Why am I the last to know everything? Well, I’m waiting.”


“I’m sorry, Mom. I was going to call you today. Things have been a bit crazy. What do you mean you heard it from the media?”


“It’s all over the entertainment news.”


“Christ!” Alex took a deep breath. She needed to focus and find out what was being said. “Mom, I have to go. I promise I’ll call you later and fill you in on everything. I need to find out exactly what has been leaked.”

FAN INFO
How can people contact you (email)?

tamariasoana@yahoo.com

Do you have a website, twitter, blog, goodreads? If yes, I’ll be happy to post any/all with the interview.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Beachwalk Press

 And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the fabulous Tamaria Soana! I loved her excerpt, how about you?


Don’t forget, today’s the last day to comment on Katee Robert’s post for a chance to win a copy of her book, Queen of Swords.

Thursday Word-Slingers – Guest Christine Warner

Today’s guest is Christine Warner, a friend of mine from the Enchanting the Muse crit group.  Her debut novel, Some Like it in Handcuffs, comes out tomorrow. So, join me in giving a nice, warm welcome to Christine!



1) How long have you been writing?

I’ve always wanted to write, but life seemed to get in the way with family, kids, jobs—you know…the norm.  About 3 years ago, my sister pushed me into giving it a try and going for what I’d always talked about.  And here I am J

2) How many balls do you juggle on a daily basis, and how do you manage to keep them all in the air (usually), (ball = work, writing, family, etc.)

My kids are older now, so they don’t take up as much time, I gave up on pressuring myself to keep a perfect house and my job consists of power working for 2 or 3 days a week and that affords me 4 to 5 other days of the week off to write and get all the other things that need attention done.  I have to admit, even though I work long shifts each weekend, I’m lucky to have so much time off during the week.

3) When is your next release due out and can you tell the audience about it?

Besides Some Like it in Handcuffs (releasing March 23rdin print and ebook—shameless plug…lol) I have 2 other books coming out.  Two-Timing the Boss is also coming out with The Wild Rose Press but I don’t have a cover or a release date yet.  And I also have an ebook coming out with Entangled Press from their Indulgence Line with Lori Wilde.  That book is titled Blind Date Billionaire, and as of yet, no release date or cover there either.

Here’s a blurb for Two-Timing the Boss:

Farah Smith is on a mission: secure the funds for her twin sister’s surgery.  She’ll do whatever it takes to succeed.  Even if that means putting her values aside to work for a man she finds morally bankrupt.  But when the real Farah meets her new boss, she wonders if she’ll be able to resist his sexy advances long enough to help her sister.

From the blonde wig, to the stilettos strapped around her ankles, Farah’s a clone of Keller Donovan’s harem of past assistants.  She can’t believe she’s let herself be talked into the disguise, let alone working for the man planning to demolish the hospital her sister so desperately needs, but the salary he offers is the only way she’ll be able to afford her sister’s surgery.  The moment Farah meets Keller she realizes her most daunting task isn’t typing, spreadsheets or organizing travel arrangements, but fighting the growing attraction toward a man whose ruthlessness is legendary in the boardroom as well as the bedroom.

Determined not to end up in a disastrous marriage like his divorced parents, Keller believes all relationships should have a shelf life of sixth months or less.  But when he meets Farah, all bets are off.  He not only wants her to continue as his personal assistant, but his own private bed warmer.  Unfortunately, his offer of an affair doesn’t sit well with her fairytale dreams or the strangled hold gripping his heart.

I’m going to be naughty (TM – oh you naughty girl, you) and give you a quickie one sentence teaser for Blind Date Billionaire:

Her professional reputation tarnished, her life in turmoil, Jill Adgate is given sixty seconds by Chet Castle—an attractive, womanizing, sexy business tycoon—to make the decision of a lifetime.   

4) What is it about the romantic suspense genre that you like so much?

I love romantic suspense as well as contemporary romance (which is what the other 2 books are) mainly because I love reading stories that could actually happen.  I like that they are set in today’s world with today’s possibilities, obstacles and challenges.

5) Do you think you’ll move to another genre, and if yes, what to and when?

For now I think I’ll stick with contemporary and romantic suspense, but have tossed around the idea of writing erotica.  J…I feel rebellious and naughty just saying it…lol  Don’t know if I will, but it’s something to consider for down the road.

6) Silliness 1: Sweet or sour?

I like sweet and sour…my mouth is already watering just thinking about it.  Lol

7) Silliness 2: Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?

I actually like vanilla with chocolate syrup on top J  I also love Mint chocolate chip.  Oh, don’t even get me started!  

I’m with you on the Mint Chocolate Chip. Oh lord, that sounds good.

FAN INFO 
Twitter under ChristinesWords: https://twitter.com/#!/ChristinesWords
Facebook page…stop by and give it a LIKE to know first what I have coming up: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Christine-Warner/143430882396013
I love to hear from readers and other authors J  
PURCHASE WHERE?
BLURB

Sunny Kennedy, the only female in a family of blue blood male detectives, is determined to prove testosterone isn’t the only qualification required to solve a cold case. Handcuffed while undercover then taken to the precinct by an attractive detective, her domineering family demands she work with Detective Judson Blackwolf, or she’s off the case.

Judson Blackwolf thinks women in law enforcement should work behind the scenes. The prospect of working with his Captain’s sexy daughter doesn’t thrill him. He only agrees in hopes of solving the murder of his one time mentor’s daughter. Once the case is over, he’s moving to Montana to heal his wounds from the loss of his last partner.

But when their investigation takes a dangerous turn, Sunny and Jud soon realize their feelings for each other cannot be denied.

EXCERPT
Judson soaked in her appearance, but controlled his grin. A pair of baggy sweatpants and a stretched out blue sweatshirt which matched the color of her eyes looked sexy as hell on Sunny. She’d pulled her hair into a pony tail and her small feet were hidden in a pair of girlish, fluffy, pink slippers.
With her tomboyish ways, he never considered she’d own anything girly, fluffy, and especially pink. The black framed glasses perched on the tip of her nose almost caused him to come undone. He didn’t usually go for the brainy look, but the whole effect had him rethink his prejudice. Nerdy looked great from this view.
He looked around her small, homey apartment. Antique wooden tables accented the array of bright colored leather furniture. Neon red, green, yellow and blue leather filled the room. Somehow the quirky furnishings matched her personality, and the way she’d arranged the old and new pieces brought the room together nicely. Pictures of her family were visible on every available surface, and unexpected piles of romance novels covered a corner of the floor to his right. He smiled at the discovery. He’d have guessed she’d be more interested in true crime or mysteries.
He cleared his throat. “Nice place.”
“I like it.”
The way she slid her heart shaped pendant back and forth along the chain of her necklace betrayed her agitation. She hid her gaze beneath the fluttery fan of her lashes.
“Surprised to see me?” He waited until she’d taken a seat on the yellow sofa before he claimed a spot on the red chair across from her.
“You could say that. I hoped you’d drop it and leave me to work alone.” The smile on her lips didn’t reach her eyes. “Your tough skin must’ve deflected the message I sent through my powers of mental telepathy.”
He laughed outright before he could stop himself. Her outspoken sense of humor and girl-next-door-look were a lethal combination since she was off limits. Only an idiot would mess with the boss’s daughter.
And there you have it, Christine Warner!
Don’t forget, today is the last day to comment for a chance to win one of Kallypso Master’s backlist, and we are still running a contest for Katee Robert’s Queen of Swords (ends 3/26).

The winner of the Carrie Ann Ryan give away was Romance Reader Enthusiast! I’ve emailed her.

Lucky Seven

Well, I got a nice lil’ surprise, and given I’m still procrastinating when it comes to working on In Dreams (working title for Book 3 in the DWW series), I just have to participate. The awesome Doris O’Connor nominated me for this.

Here are the rules, as she laid them out:
  1. Go to Page 77 of your current WIP.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy the next 7 lines (sentences or paragraphs) and post them as written. No cheating.
  4. Tag 7 other authors.

Now, like Doris, my current WIP (the poor, neglected In Dreams) isn’t long enough yet. I’ve got like 7 pages. Hehe. So, I guess I’ll just have to use Blood-Mage Rising. So, here they are:


“Thanks.” She felt her cheeks heat as Jordanstudied the mix of patrons waiting in line to get in. Overall, they were pretty dull for the ‘Cor, thus far. Only one was naked. Luckily, the stairs to the second floor were just inside the second set of double doors to the club, and she bolted up them, forcing him into a jog to keep up. She didn’t intend to discuss the patronage of the club if she could help it. 

A rope blocked off the small second staircase to Donovan’s tiny one-bedroom apartment atop the club. 

 Now for my tags:



  1. Katherine Wyvern
  2. Lia Davis
  3. Georgia Fox
  4. Adonis Devereux
  5. Zee Monodee
  6. Alexandra O’Hurley
  7. Christine Warner (who will be showing up on the blog tomorrow, btw!)

So, there you have it. My seven sentences! Woot. Don’t forget to comment on Kallypso Masters’ post for a chance to win one of her books. Tomorrow’s the last day to comment. The winner of Carrie Ann’s swag bag has been drawn – just waiting for Carrie Ann’s go-ahead to announce it. 🙂


Have a great day!

Word-Slingers – Guest Katee Roberts


Today I’ve got the privilege of hosting my first person from Bewitching Blog Tours, talented author Katee Roberts, who’s here as part of her promotions for two books, The Queen of Swords and The High Priestess.



Katee Robert
1)      How long have you been writing?

I’ve been dabbling in writing for my entire life (I still have my first story telling the adventures of a shark, a dolphin, and a killer whale), but I’ve been writing with the goal for publication for about four years now.

2)      How many balls do you juggle on a daily basis, and how do you manage to keep them all in the air (usually), (ball = work, writing, family, etc.)

Oh man…Three? Four? Most days of the week I work full-time, then come home to my wee ones and do all necessary Mom duties. Once they’re in bed, I carve out time for writing. It makes me tired just thinking about it, but I get through it via a combination of coffee and wine. Okay, and I make lists. Lots of lists. I’ve found that if I don’t write things down, they disappear into the ether.

3)      When is your next release due out and can you tell the audience about it?

My sci-fi romance novella is out this month. It’s the story of Marianna and Gerald, who are about as opposite as two people can get. She’s a Diviner, a species that uses Tarot cards to commune with their goddess. He’s a lieutenant of Sanctify, a hate group who has a nasty tendency of torturing and burning anyone not pure human. They share a hot kiss before everything goes to hell and Gerald takes Marianna captive. She comes up with a crazy plan to seduce him into setting her free…but things don’t quite go as Marianna plans.

4)      What is it about the sci-fi romance genre that you like so much?

I love the possibility of sci-fi. Anything that you can dream up, you can create. It’s similar to paranormal, though without the use of magic. One of my favorite inventions at this point is the InstaChef—an instant meal available at the push of a button. It would be nice to have that around some days.

There’s also an element of the Old West in sci-fi. On the out edges of space, one can bend the rules and smugglers and pirates are still in evidence. Because, really, who doesn’t love a pirate?

5)      Do you think you’ll move to another genre, and if yes, what to and when?

I love horror and paranormal romances, so I’ll most likely dabble in those as well (I have a paranormal western romance calling my name rather insistently), but I don’t think I’ll ever totally leave sci-fi romances behind. I love them too much.

6)      Silliness 1: Sweet or sour?

Both! I have a borderline-worrisome obsession with Sour Patch Kids

7)      Silliness 2: Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?

Chocolate. Always chocolate. *happy sigh*

CONTACT INFO
The High Priestess

A Sanctify Novella – Book One – Katee Robert
Marianna Zain is in trouble. The handsome stranger she just kissed? He’s a member of the most terrifying hate-group in the universe. Even after he takes her captive, Marianna can’t shake her initial instincts that he’s a man of worth…and her only chance at escaping death.
One of Sanctify’s most decorated lieutenants, Gerald Leoni thought he had everything figured out. But then he crosses paths with a Diviner, the most despised of the alien races, and is honor-bound to bring her in. One night with Marianna makes him question everything he knows.
As the day of her scheduled execution draws near, Marianna forms a plan. She’s going to seduce Gerald—a task that would be simpler if she weren’t being seduced as well. But Sanctify doesn’t take kindly to their people cavorting with aliens, and instead of finding a savior, Marianna may be dragging Gerald to his death alongside her…

QUEEN OF SWORDS

A Sanctify Novel – Book Two – Katee Robert
When the cards tell Ophelia Leoni she’s supposed to marry the Prince of Hansarda, the gunrunner grits her teeth and boards the starship that comes for her. It doesn’t matter if the ship’s commander is the gorgeous stranger she just spent a wild, drunken night with. As a Diviner, she’s painfully aware the cards don’t lie. Ever.
Boone O’Keirna knows Ophelia is trouble the second he sees the way she moves. Not about to let the deadly little hellcat marry his sadistic half-brother, Boone pretends to be the Prince’s emissary and kidnaps Ophelia. Too bad they can’t be in the same room without him wanting to throw her out an airlock–or into bed.
Even as they fight each other–and their explosive attraction–Ophelia and Boone sense something is wrong. Too much is going their way. Soon, they realize while the cards may never lie, the truth is sometimes hidden between them…and the future king of Hansarda is not one to take defeat lying down.

CONTEST INFORMATION
I’m excited to announce that Katee has offered up one copy of Queen of Swords to a lucky commenter below. She’ll probably pop in from time to time, so please, leave lots of comments for her!

Reminder: this is the last day to comment on Carrie Ann Ryan’s post for a chance to win a swag back. Winner announced tomorrow.

Six Sentence Sunday (3/18/12) – #sixsunday

Wow, I’m actually typing this up on Friday night, rather than waiting until I’m half asleep (or tipsy) late Saturday evening, or (more common recently) drowsily skimming my WIPs at 3 in the morning on Sunday.


Today’s post comes from Blood-Mage Rising, which is going to be out on April 12! It takes place early in the book, and is an exchange between Chris and Jordan. They’re negotiating whether or not she’s going to help in the search for his wife’s killers, and she’s trying to limit just how long she’ll be stuck working for him.

“I have a life. Put a time limit on this.”

“What life?”

Now that’s just cold. I have a life. Just because it didn’t involve a lot of people didn’t make it any less of a life.

 And there you have it! Hope you’ll check out other posters from SSS. They can be found HERE.


Don’t forget – tomorrow’s the last day to comment on Carrie Ann Ryan’s post for a chance to win a swag bag! And we’re still going strong and hoping for more love shown to Kallypso Master’s post. Just by checking it out, you can get a code to get a copy of her first book, Master at Arms, for FREE! Plus, one lucky winner can pick any of her books as a prize.


Have a great week and while you’re here, why not check out my post from yesterday. I included an excerpt from Blood-Mage Rising to hopefully interest you.

Special Excerpt – Blood-Mage Rising

Well, here we are, 26 days out from the release of Blood-Mage Rising, and other than the snippets I’ve used for Six Sentence Sunday, I haven’t shared much with you from it. So, in the spirit of hoping to whet your appetite for what’s to come next month, I present the prologue and part of the first chapter to Rising.

For the record, I highly recommend you read Blood Rage first, though it is not required to understand. If you have, know that parts of Rising will overlap with Rage. In case that interests you, here are the buy links!

Evernight Publishing     Amazon UK     Amazon     BookStrand     All Romance E-Books   B&N

Without further ado, here we go.

Blurb
In the eighty years since the Great Awakening, humans and non-humans have lived side by side, relatively at peace.  In an attack that leaves his wife dead, Jordan MacNaught is caught up in the start of a war meant to turn the other races against the vampires. He knows beyond a doubt the vampires of yesteryear are not involved in the attacks. They’re all dead, except for him.


Jordan asks for Chris Javert’s help in hunting those who murdered his wife. She’s no stranger to hunting vampires. After all, she nearly destroyed Jordan when she ended the reign of his Aristocrats in Europe two hundred years ago.

Despite doubts about Jordan’s innocence, Chris joins forces with him, the man who once tried to kill her, to save the inter-species pace from the new Aristocrats before war consumes them all.

Prologue
Ares dumped the third body on the sidewalk. Music from the nightclub a block away pulsed through the balmy night. Even though he was so close to a large number of people, the vicinity immediately around him was deserted. He’d broken the streetlamp above two days earlier, and, as expected, the city hadn’t gotten around to fixing it yet, giving him the cover of darkness.
The woman – he never caught her name – stared up at him, shock still clear in her dark brown, cow-like eyes. She’d been a fighter, that one. Bruises covered her wrists and ankles, the wounds so rare to find on a vampire. The quad responsible for her capture and death had been brutal with her.
Ares didn’t approve of rape, not even in the war he wanted, but he gave his people a free hand, as long as they accomplished the goals he set before them. The quad here in Tampa seemed to glory in the torture side of things.
Aware he wouldn’t have long before someone came upon the scene, he crouched and studied all three bodies. Though most of the injuries varied from corpse to corpse, they shared two specific ones. The death blow on each came in the form of near decapitation, heads held to the bodies by only small slivers of flesh.
Ares smiled, looking at the second wound in common each of the three bodies carried: a quadruple claw gouge from right hip to left shoulder. He touched the ragged flesh ever so gently on the third victim. It sent a message. It invoked the memory of the original group of Aristocrats and their reign of terror in London. He’d usurped the name for hisfollowers. By invoking that legacy, the other races were much more likely to believe what he needed them to.
On high alert from the risk of dumping the bodies himself rather than allowing the quad to do it, his senses warned him a half-second before he heard soft footfall. Glancing up, he saw a figure step out of the alley behind the nightclub and turn in his direction. He stood, brushed himself off, and smiled.
Let the games begin.
Chapter One
From VampiresForever.bnha.org – WhenConsideringConversion:

If you’re mage-born, you shouldn’t even be looking at this list. The Circle outlawed blood-mages two thousand years ago, and they won’t bend the rules for you.

If you choose to disregard the above, know an execution order for you and whatever stupid sap converts you will be issued as soon as the Council and/or the Circle gets wind of it. 

Chris gauged the early morning sky as she pulled off the highway at the exit for Fort Myers and Lehigh. She still had a couple of hours before it grew too bright for her to be outside. Her phone rang in the cup holder located between the driver and passenger seat of her Ford F-350.
She didn’t recognize the South Florida number. Utilizing her Bluetooth, she answered. “Hello?”
“Chris?”
The rich, melodic voice with faint traces of an Arabic accent identified the caller immediately. Chris grinned. “Xanthea, my God. You’re local?”
“Only for a few hours. Are you available to speak with me?”
“A few hours? Um, yeah. Where are you?” Obviously Xan wasn’t in Egypt. What on earth brought her all this distance? She never travels.
“I just landed at the airport. Can you come here? My flight for Californialeaves in three hours.”
California? That’s odd. Though she knew Xan wouldn’t see the movement, Chris nodded. “Yeah. I just got back from Vegas a few hours ago.”
And what a difference a few hours made. Her world had been blown apart by the revelation of a string of murders. She still didn’t know how she felt about the entire situation, much less what she’d been asked to do about it.
Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully as she flipped the signal on and scooted across two lanes of traffic to get into the lane that squirted her over toward the airport. A horn blared in protest as she cut one of the million plus local blue-hairs off.
Xanthea tended to know everything. What were the odds that the ancient one “happened to drop by” just as the shit hit the fan? Very low, Chris decided.
“I will await you by the check-in counter for Delta.”
“See you in about twenty minutes.” Glancing around for any sign of the cops, she stepped on the accelerator. It wouldn’t do to keep Xan waiting. People turned up injured or dead when the ancient woman grew impatient.
****
Nineteen minutes later, Chris dashed across the road into the sheltering comfort of the concourse. The August sun at eight in the morning might not be deadly to her, but she still couldn’t dilly-dally. No vampire could, no matter what the hour or how young. Relieved when she stepped through the sliding glass doors, she peered around.
After only a second, she recognized the tall woman. Given Xan predated the Archaic period in Greek history, Chris wouldn’t be surprised if she learned one day that the Greeks had based the legends of the Amazons, in part, on her old friend. Xan stood a half-foot taller than her own five-foot ten frame, frozen forever somewhere in her mid-twenties, if one had to guess. Possibly younger, but no one who cared to live asked anything that personal of the ancient one.
Dressed in a black cotton abayawith a silk hijab of the same color loosely draped over her head, Xan’s alabaster skin looked luminescent. When her onyx eyes met Chris’s, a rare smile lit the woman’s face, and Xanthea glided across the busy terminal.
Chris felt underdressed beside the ancient one, wearing her standard in-public uniform of t-shirt, jeans and cowboy boots. In the paranoid days more than ten years after the attack on the World Trade Center, Xan garnered suspicious looks. She reeked of the Blood andwore Muslim attire. Chris picked up more than one stray thought through her telepathic gifts, and they weren’t charitable.
Xan stooped enough to press a soft kiss to her cheek and then inclined her head toward a bench that overlooked the runways. Knowing better than to initiate contact with the sometimes frightening vampire, Chris trailed in her wake and plopped down on the bench.
The other woman settled far more gracefully next to her  and folded pale hands in her lap. Sunlight streamed over them both, beautiful but not deadly, thanks to modern science which had developed a coating for surfaces that blocked out the wave length that killed the vampires. All new public buildings used it, and as airports expanded or remodeled, they added it to their structures as well.
Silence stretched between them. For something to do, Chris propped her boots up on the low-lying window sill. Not far away, an American Airline jet taxied away from the loading ramp.
 Finally, after three minutes passed with no indication of a break in the silence, Chris gave up trying to be patient. She wasn’t very good at it anyway. “So, what dragged you out of Cairo?”
“Email doesn’t have the same appeal as a face-to-face conversation, and we haven’t talked in quite some time.”
“Uh huh. Am I in trouble for something?” Very unlikely, but it seemed a good way to keep Xan talking. Chris needed to get home. This trip had taken away from her set-aside time to see her horses, and her task involving the bodies wasn’t going away.
“Not at all.” A feather light touch on her shoulder brought Chris’s face around, and she met Xan’s fathomless eyes. Very quietly, no doubt to avoid curious eavesdroppers, Xanthea said, “Are you aware that a new group calling themselves the Aristocrats is wandering about?”
Chris nodded. She didn’t mind that Xan didn’t revert to telepathy, despite the topic. Contact with the ancient mind creeped her out big time. The other woman didn’t feel remotely human, or even vampire.
Just hearing the name “Aristocrats” sent slivers of icy unease down her spine. Once before, there’d been a group by that name. They had terrorized the non-humans in London, and Englandin general, for more than fifty years.
 “Anthony just told me a few hours ago. They found a couple of bodies in Tampaoutside a nightclub.”
The body count hovered near three hundred humans and non-humans across the globe, at least as far as she’d been told. One never knew how much Anthony might be keeping to himself. Only members of the Circle and a few members of the Council knew about the problem. Who knew where Xan came up with the information, given its hush-hush nature.
“What do you think of the resurgence?”
“It’s gotta stop before word gets out.” Given the ritualistic markings on the bodies, once word spread, the non-humans could turn on the vampires. Things were bad enough for the vamps without new suspicions cropping up. Not a week passed without at least one editorial or gossip rag posting inflammatory garbage. She’d been turning up more articles in her searches lately too. “I don’t think the old Aristocrats are involved.”
Xan sniffed and looked away. “I agree with that assessment. The scheme is far too widespread for the Bloody Baron.” Chris sank her teeth into her lower lip, containing the tremor that name sent through her body. She knew better than most just what the baron was capable of. “He is cold enough, but he’s never been interested in power over any but our own kind. He thinks the rest of the world is beneath his notice. Whoever is involved wants more than just control over the Blood.”
Chris sighed to herself, her momentary unease passing as Xan left behind the topic of the baron. Her friend’s presence so far from home, given the difficulties ancient vampires had in traveling long distances because of their daylight restrictions, spoke volumes about her mission.
“If anyone asks, I am not involved, Chris. If I wished to be involved with current events, I would be a member of the Circle.”
No doubt she’d lead the Circle, the shadowy body that served as the Blood’s ultimate authority, if she so desired. Thankfully for all of them, she didn’t. “Naturally. I don’t s’pose you’d care to cut to the chase, would you?”
A smile tilted the edges of Xan’s mouth up. “You’re such a sweet child. Direct and blunt, even in the face of someone who could eliminate you with a thought. That will serve you well in the days ahead.”
Chris shrugged. Her motto, show no fear, served her well with friends along with enemies. “Whatever. You wanna kill me, do it.”
“I’d miss you if you died.” In the course of their idle chitchat, their voices had risen to normal levels. With her next statement, Xanthea returned to the barely-audible whisper. “No one need know I spoke with you.”
 The piercing gaze Xan leveled on her burned to her very soul, and Chris fidgeted on the uncomfortable metal bench. She nodded, just so the look would desist. It might not be magic, but damn, the woman could shrivel a body with that lethal expression.
“Good. If, or rather when, you find these Aristocrats, tread very carefully. You don’t know what you’re dealing with. No one does. Not yet.”
“Eh?” That was unusually obscure, even from Xan.
“More than that, I don’t care to say. It is premature. Simply walk carefully. Take every precaution. This may be a threat I failed to see coming.” She stood, brushed a speck of lint that had had the effrontery to fall on her abaya. Her voice, soft as it was, trembled. “I thought it couldn’t happen any more.”
Something was troubling her, Chris realized, for even that much emotion to show from the normally tranquil vampire. Concerned, she hopped to her feet and reached out, not quite touching her.
“There may come a time when I must become involved, but until more of their plan is revealed, I dare not. I don’t know what these people want, and that frightens me. I don’t know why these Aristocrats are on the move, what their end game is. Most of all, I don’t know why they’re revealing themselves now. I thought they were all gone.”
Chris couldn’t mistake the plaintive despondency that came through with the end of the little speech. Still, the “all gone” held her riveted, and excitement made her jump up. Maybe they were about to catch a lucky break. “You know who they are?”
Xanthea’s face cleared, assumed its usually pleasant expression, and she shook her head. “If I did, I would tell you.” She took Chris’s hands in her own, her skin cooler than a human’s but not abnormally cold. “If you believe me on nothing else, believe this: you must root these people out. All of them. Do whatever you must; work with whomever you have to. Don’t let them escape. I trust you, your judgment, on whom can help you best.”
Surprised by the calm, yet vehement words, Chris stared at her. Even Anthony, head of both the Circle and Council, hadn’t seemed this upset, and he’d been containing the disaster for several months. “But you won’t get involved?”
“I can’t. They may watch for that. Until we know who the actual puppet master is, I will not know whether my involvement will improve our chances or destroy them. I must know.” Xanthea’s grip loosened, and absently she tucked the hijab closer about her ebony hair. The cloth blended perfectly with the dark strands. “Tell me something. Do you still have the amethyst I asked you to hold onto some years back?
“That hideous thing? Yeah, of course.” Xan had given it to her about a century ago with instructions to keep it locked away. No explanation, but that wasn’t unusual. Since Chris owed the ancient one a great deal, including her sanity, she hadn’t even considered saying no at the time. “What would I do with it? I doubt anyone would buy it.”
            The gem was badly flawed, with more than one crack. The inclusions rendered it almost worthless, even if cut down by a master jeweler. Still, it had meant something to Xan, so Chris had locked it away. It was currently in her safe at home.
            Xanthea nodded, her expression distant. “You’d be surprised. Keep it safe, especially now.” Blinking out of whatever thoughts had distracted her, she smiled softly. “One last thing. Guard your dreams, my sweet Christine. I sense a second dream-walker somewhere in the world.”
That statement sent an invisible fist into Chris’s solar plexus. If she needed to breathe, she would have gasped. Blood drained from her face, and her eyes widened. “There are no other dream-walkers. They died out.”
“So it seemed. But I know what I sense. It’s possible a young mage-born is just coming into their power, and the timing is coincidence.” Xanthea frowned as she rested one hand on the glass. “But given the strength I sense, the sense of purpose that shakes the very essence of the world, I do not believe that to be the case.”
Chris cursed under her breath. The day just kept getting better. Every single race, human and non-human alike, feared the dream-walkers. Centuries ago, so legend had it, the dream-walkers could kill through the dream passage. Only others like them could hope to keep secrets when a dream-walker invaded a person’s dream. “What is the chance the person you sense is a blood-mage?”
It shouldn’t be possible, given the laws about mage-born conversions. Of course, that assumed one got caught breaking said law. Almost all who risked it paid the ultimate price.
The fingers in contact with the glass curled into a fist. “I wish I knew, Chris. If this dream-walker isn’t one of the Blood, then they are in possession of one of the strongest mage-born talents I have ever sensed.”
“Lovely.” Chris muttered the word and blew her bangs out of her eyes. Given Xan’s history, they were probably at the end of the conversation. “Anything else you’re willing to share?”
“No. I may know much of the hidden things in the world, but not all. If I learn of something which may be of use, without actively becoming involved, I will inform you.” The ancient glanced toward the security checkpoint, signaling the end of the conversation.
“Well, thanks.” Thanks for almost nothing, Chris thought. Sticking her hands in her back pockets, she kicked the toe of her left boot against the floor.
“Oh, before I forget?” A light touch brushed against her waist. Head cocked to the side, Chris glanced at Xanthea. “I don’t usually offer advice, but I will this time. Take assistance wherever you can get it. The situation is such that you cannot afford to be choosy about whom you work with. As the proverb states, ‘The enemy of your enemy is your friend’.”
Before Chris could even begin to think of a response to the statement, Xan turned and strode away, robes swirling softly around her ankles. The crowded line waiting at security melted away to allow the woman passage. She watched the TSA agent on duty blanch and give Xan only the most cursory study before waving her through the scanner that led to the gates.
Xan might not technically be a seer, but she was never wrong in her predictions.
Rubbing her newly throbbing temples, Chris slumped. “Why me? Why are they all coming to me?”

Since the universe didn’t see fit to answer, she slunk toward the exit to retrieve her truck. So much for her faint hope that she could go exercise her horses. If the murders dragged Xan out of Egypt, Chris couldn’t afford playtime before starting on her assignment. And maybe do a quick search on the internet to see if she could ferret out just why Xan was interested in that hideous amethyst. The woman never even wore jewelry.