Excerpt of an embarrassing moment:
Mims watched the interaction between Sage and the waitress who was trying her damndest to get his attention. Maybe she could use the little scene in her next book. The poor girl wasn't getting anywhere with him. He looked utterly bored. Actually, he looked gorgeous and bored.
Mims rubbed behind her neck, wishing she'd left right after the photo shoot. Sissy was speaking to her. "I'm sorry, Sissy, what did you say."
"I said, 'Earth to Mims'." She laughed. "I was telling Chuckie and Sage what a great writer you've become. How you've improved with each book. Now you're one of our top authors. Although…" she sent a sly look around the table and leaned in, "…you'd probably be number one if you'd use your talent to write some erotic scenes instead of dancing around them. Of course, you do a pretty good job of dancing. The readers love it."
Mims felt color flood her face and rubbed the back of her neck again, a habit she'd carried from childhood whenever she felt flustered or nervous. She didn't know how to reply. "I…I…"
Chuckie added his two cents. "Don't worry about it Mims, practice makes perfect." He winked at her.
Mims wanted to crawl under the table.
The flirty waitress saved the day when she brought their orders. Serving Sage his coffee last, she said seductively, "Can I get you anything else?"
Sissy had obviously had enough because she said, "Honey, he's taken by the lady next to him. Show your wares elsewhere."
The young woman glanced from Sage to Mims and her eyes widened, as if to say, No way! Mims rubbed her neck harder and shot an apologetic glance at Sage.
Here is a sneak peek of soon-to-be released HONEY KISSES, book two in the ROMANCE ON THE RANCH SERIES. In book one, Ann Hackstetter was introduced. When characters keep me awake nights whispering their stories, I know I have to share them. Ann's story is irresistible, and she's irresistible to Jackson Martinez. However, Ann has a secret. I wonder what Jackson's reaction will be when he finds out? In this excerpt, Jackson asks Ann to dance at her son's wedding.
The band started a new song, I Cross My Heart by George Strait. "May I have this dance?" The deep timbre of Jackson's voice made Ann's heart trip. Looking up into smoky gray eyes, she couldn't form a word. She indicated her acceptance by pushing her chair back. Jackson held her elbow and guided her to a back corner of the dance floor. Placing her hand in his, she followed his lead in a slow dance.
"You look beautiful," he said, close to her ear.
"Thank you," she replied softly.
More people stepped to the floor, which forced Jackson to move closer.
The singer sang, "I cross my heart and promise to...give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true. In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine." Ann wanted to lay her head against Jackson's chest, but doing so would only make her look foolish. She was at least ten years older than him.
After a minute, he said, "Annie, do you remember the first time we danced?"
She nodded. He was the only person who called her Annie and it made her heart flutter. He made her feel twenty-one instead of forty-one.
I decided to do something different. Rather than sampling one book, I'm posting short samples from four books. Let's kick it off with my latest release:
(Sage trying to apologize)
"Look Sarah, I think we should start fresh. I want you to enjoy your stay here and anything I can do to help with your research, just let me know. As for what happened at Java Junction, I'm truly sorry. I was just playing the game your boss started. If I'd known it would upset you, I would have kept my foot out of my mouth. So, like I said earlier, can we call a truce?"
Sage watched Sarah sip her coffee and then cradle the cup in her hands. "I'd like to ask you something, Mr. Tanner."
Sage held her gaze. "Shoot."
"Did you actually think I would be flattered by your attention?"
"I didn't think about it one way or the other. Like I said, I was playing along with the charade."
"Perhaps it was a game to you, but I saw it as demeaning and cruel."
Sage bit down on his back teeth. The woman was impossible. What did she want him to do, grovel on the floor? Inhaling to keep himself from saying something that would only antagonize the situation, he said, "What's done is done. Will you accept my apology, or at least call a truce so you can enjoy your stay here?"
She sipped her coffee again, looked down into the cup as if seeking an answer there, and then back at him. "Okay, I'll call a truce and think about accepting your apology."
Sage just about lost it. Holding his temper at bay, he inclined his head and sipped his own coffee, staring at her over the edge of the cup.
Roth: Protector: Shapeling Trilogy Book One:
"Tahnoon Kahlifa, you are going to be shocked by what I reveal. But please, listen until the end."
Tahnoon acknowledged the request with a slight nod of his head.
"Many years ago I received an assignment. I was directed by my elders to make sure a young man arrived at his own wedding. The young man’s parents had arranged for him to marry a girl he had met only once as a teenager. He had not been impressed by her and did not want to marry her. The elders who gave me my assignment believed it was very important, however, that the young man and the young woman marry. It would maintain peace between their tribes. The young man was destined to become leader of his clan, and my elders believed he would gain much wisdom from his wife."
Tahnoon watched Roth’s every movement, a puzzled expression on his face.
"That young man, Tahnoon, was you."
Tahnoon said, "Impossible! You were not even born when I married."
"That is where you are wrong. May I continue?"
Tahnoon inclined his head again, his expression showing more puzzlement than before.
"Do you remember trying to turn your camel away from the path it was on, but the camel would not turn, no matter how much you switched or kicked or pulled the reins. After many attempts, you came to believe that Allah had destined your marriage, and you accepted it."
Tahnoon jumped up and said, "How can you know that?"
"Because, my friend, I was that camel."
Fawn: Master: Shapeling Trilogy Book Two:
(Fawn as a feral horse encountering Wade)
Fawn spotted the herd of feral horses. She searched the area for cowboys and seeing none, landed behind the cover of a large boulder. Shifting into the white mare, she lunged past the boulder and approached the herd. Her appearance did little to disturb the grazing horses and she mingled among them, slowly chomping her way to the black stallion. When she came within a few feet, he snorted and his ears pricked. However, it was not she who had caused his alert stance. Looking in the direction of an approaching rider, she was relieved to see Wade. He widely circled the feral horses, coming up behind and driving them forward. She ran with the herd, enjoying the thrill of the forced run. Wade herded them inland and halted Misty when they reached safer pastures. Fawn stopped when Wade did. Even though her mind urged her to continue with the herd, her emotions did not listen. She waited for Wade's approach. He walked Misty Morning toward her.
"Well, I'll be damn. So you're the seventh horse. I don't know how you do it, but your tracks appear and disappear like a magician's trick. You're a beauty. How close are you going to let me get?" He stopped at twenty feet and hesitated only a minute before sliding off his horse. Slowly advancing, he left Misty to graze. He walked to within ten feet.
"Shit, I can't believe you're letting me get this close. You're not going to rear up and trample me are you?"
Fawn snorted and shook her mane. He remained at ten feet. They stared at each other. She approached him. The shocked look on his face made her heart grin. When she stood directly in front of him, he hesitantly stretched his gloved hand to her neck. His touch sent shivers through her and he honed in on it.
"You like me, don't you?"
Fawn touched her snout to his forehead.
Davide: Prince: Shapeling Trilogy Book Three:
(Davide's contemplation while watching his parents soar as eagles)
Davide stood and walked to the railing. Watching his parents soaring antics, he asked himself a question. What about you, Davide? Is your happiness complete? The answer to that question was a no-brainer. No. He sucked in the sweet smell of spring, and sighed. All his life he had been told of the prophesy surrounding his birth; how his parents had met and how the son of their love was destined to become the Great Prince.
"What a crock," Davide whispered into the breeze. A Shapeling Prince unable to shift. Long ago, he had determined the universe had played a dirty trick on him. Since babyhood, his parents had trained him in the art of shapeling focus, to no avail.
He shook his head. His mother was only half shapeling and she had attained the ability to shift into at least one creature. His twelve year old sister was making great progress, and here he was a three-quarter shapeling who had never even come close to shifting. Even with his inability to shift, however, his parents had never waivered in their belief that he was the fulfillment of prophesy; that he was the Great Prince spoken of by sages.
Disgusted, Davide turned from the balcony and the midnight flight of his parents.
Excerpt from Davide: S
Excerpt from Davide: Shapeling Trilogy Book Three: Prince
Davide studied his fingers tapping the side of his glass. "I need your help, Zoe."
The unexpected admission took her by surprise. What on earth could Davide need her help with. She waited for him to continue.
Instead of blatantly telling her what he wanted, he said, "You know about the prophesy concerning me; about me being…" he bent toward her and said softly, "…the so-called Great Prince." Zoe nodded and waited for him to continue.
"When I was a child, I believed what I was told, and I did everything in my power to live up to that prophesy. I diligently practiced my focus exercises, listened to my father's teachings about shapelings, and prayed to the source that I would be worthy of my calling." He lifted his scotch to his lips and swigged a long swallow. "When I reached my teens, my lack of ability to shift began weighing heavily on me. Of course, you know all this because you've always been my confidant."
Zoe nodded again, and sipped her daiquiri, waiting for his revelation.
He glanced around the room, seemingly forestalling what he wanted to say. "I've often begged my father to draw a map to the Cave of Thirteen, but he has refused. The reason I want to go there is to confront the co-Princes. I want to personally tell them they cannot count on me to become their Great Prince. How can a shapeling of mixed blood who cannot shift, possibly be the Great Prince. And anyway, I've never been told what this Prince is supposed to do or accomplish." Again, he swigged on his scotch.
"About two weeks ago, my father and mother returned from the Cave of Thirteen and immediately wanted to see me. They told me they were willing to reveal the way to the Cave."
"Of course, I was elated until they told me their stipulation."
"What is it?" Zoe leaned in.
Davide sucked a breath. "I must first travel to Uluru in Australia and go on a walkabout."
"Davide, you can do that. You-"
"Wait, Zoe," he interrupted. "There's more." He glanced down and drummed his fingers on the table. Finally, lifting his head and reaching into the depths of her eyes with his own, he said, "You have to come with me, both to Uluru and the Cave of Thirteen."
"What!" she shouted. Several heads turned to look at them. Bending toward Davide, she repeated low, "What the hell are you saying, Davide?"
"You heard me, Zoe," he whispered fiercely back. The stipulation for me to be given directions to the place I've longed to visit, is that you must accompany me to Uluru and then to the Cave. It's as simple as that."
"No Davide, that's not simple. I can't just pack up and travel to Australia. I have a job."
"Tonight was your last night for several weeks."
"So you've already checked my schedule," she hissed.
"Yes, of course."
Although Zoe's heart longed for the adventure of being with Davide, she knew it would only make her heartbreak all the more wrenching. "I simply cannot go," she said quietly while staring at her daiquiri and circling the rim of the glass with her finger. She chanced a glance at Davide to see him watching the movement of her finger. Stilling her hand, she flushed. He finally looked at her."
"Zoe, I need you."
His simple words pricked tears and she blinked rapidly. Don't do this to me Davide. She didn't respond.
Finally, he sighed and relaxed. "You know what I'd thought about doing if you refused?"
She shook her head, unable to speak.
Zoe's jaw dropped.
"But of course, I won't do that." He slid out of the booth. "Honey, whatever I did to upset you so much that you've avoided me, I'm sorry." He tossed a tip on the table. "I had no right to expect this of you. I'm leaving tomorrow night. I've decided to go on the walkabout anyway. You have a great life, kiddo."
Before he walked away, he said, "Zoe, it was great seeing you again. Maybe you can find time for next year's birthday party."
Zoe stared after him, her tear pricks turning into real tears.
Excerpt from: Davide: Shapeling Trilogy Book Three: Prince
Davide lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. He was twenty-five years old and going nowhere fast. Sure, he'd had a great education and now held a doctorate in philosophy. Sure, he was getting offers from the best universities for teaching positions. But did he want to accept any of the offers? No. He'd chosen to major in philosophy only because he'd hoped it would help unravel the mysteries of life—mysteries surrounding himself. He'd poured over ancient texts trying to gain glimpses into a race of beings that humans were unaware of—shapelings. He'd devoured the writings of ancient and modern philosophers and come up empty handed. When he'd approached his parents about the crazy prophesy surrounding his life, they'd listened to his misgivings, but had none of their own. They'd assured him the words of the prophesy would be fulfilled.
God, he felt like such a failure. He couldn't shift and he had no leadership skills. How could he be the Prince of Prophesy? Adding to his dismal attitude was the fact that his best friend, Zoe, had abandoned him
Davide sighed and looked toward the moon and shifting clouds. He closed his eyes and breathed the sweet night air, thinking of his sweet Zoe and how much he missed her. Running his hands through hair as black as his father's, he whispered a prayer to the Source. "What am I supposed to do with my life? I need answers."
He opened his eyes and gazed once more into the beautiful night, listening to the song of the wind. Later, he dreamed.
Book Three in the Trilogy is well on its way to completion. I'm aiming for a release before December. Here's a fun sample. Note: contains spoilers to Books One and Two.
Davide sat under a brilliant moon on the balcony of his third story bedroom and watched the night flight of the eagles. He followed their dark shapes soaring above the wild-flower field beyond the manicured lawns of the Childress Estate. They reached the lawn and circled several times, obviously aware of him. He waved and they dived toward his balcony. The larger Bald Eagle landed first, near his feet, and then the smaller one next to it. Davide grinned and waited for the shift.
Within milliseconds, the eagles morphed into Roth and Rainey Beowolf, his parents. The exhilarated look on his mother's face made Davide pat the chair next to him. "Take a seat, Mom, and tell me about the flight."
For the next half hour, Davide listened to his mother's enraptured descriptions. He never tired of her enthusiasm. Finally, she rose and reached a hand toward her husband. "If we don't leave soon, I'm going to bore Davide to tears."
"Never," Davide responded, his voice sounding bittersweet. His mother placed her hand gently on his cheek and his father patted his shoulder.
His mother changed the subject. "Zoe isn't coming to your birthday party this year, either."
"When did you find out?" Davide frowned.
"Fawn called earlier today and told me."
"What country is her tour group in?"
"She's in Spain--Barcelona; soon to leave for Madrid."
"I haven't seen her in two years. She used to attend every party."
"Did the two of you have a falling out?" Roth asked.
"If we did, then I don't know about it."
Roth shook his head. "I know you've said you've tried calling her."
"Yes, several times, and left voicemails. I've sent her emails, too. She only responded to a handful of emails saying how busy she is. It's not like her."
Roth patted his shoulder again. "Keep trying, son. We'll see you in the morning."
"Okay, Dad." Davide watched his parents lower their heads to speak the Prayer of Secrecy that would shift them back into eagles. They flapped powerful wings and lifted skyward. Davide watched their ascent and disappearance behind low clouds. He blew a breath and rubbed his temples, thinking about Zoe. The strange attitude the past two years of his best friend baffled and depressed him. They had grown up together. Zoe had even babysat him when she was a teenager. He remembered fondly the pillow fight wars they often found themselves in. God, he missed her.
Davide caught sight of his parents zipping in and out of the clouds, diving and chasing one another. To take his mind off Zoe, he remembered the first time his mother had shifted. He had been ten years old and for ten years she'd faithfully followed his dad's instructions. His father had taught that the key to shifting rested in focus. Shortly before her first shift, he remembered seeing his mother in tears. He'd walked past the cracked library door and heard the desperation in her voice. "Roth, I'm a failure. I'll never be able to soar with you."
"Souier, you cannot give up. If it's meant to happen, it will."
His mother had sobbed and Davide had peeked beyond the door to see his father gently kissing her tears away.
He also remembered his mother bursting into his room a few days after the crying incident and exclaiming, "I did it, Davide!" She'd rushed back out and he'd run behind her while she'd searched the house for his father. She'd found him in the surveillance room talking to Johnson, one of the many bodyguards employed by Hank Childress to protect his family. When she'd burst into the room looking like a wild woman, both Roth and Johnson had rushed toward her.
Davide grinned, remembering how she'd thrown her arms around his father's neck and started kissing him passionately. His father hadn't known the reason for her joyfulness, but he'd participated wholeheartedly in the kiss. When she'd pulled away, she'd repeated her words to Davide, "I did it!"
I've written about thirty percent of the next book in the Shapeling Trilogy. This story continues with Davide as the focus. Here's a small snippet. I've had to keep it small because I don't want to give too much away.
Wade lifted on his elbow and gazed at his beautiful wife. A shaft of moonlight caressed her face and he bent to kiss her cheek. She lifted her eyelids and turned her head until her mouth touched his. "I love you," she whispered.
Brushing his lips gently from her mouth to her ear, he responded, "And I love you more than life." Smoothing his hand through her coal black hair, he reveled in its silkiness. In that shaft of moonlight they lost themselves to a lovers' realm begun twenty-five years earlier.
Hours later, pink sunlight filtered through the curtains above their bed and Wade trailed the tip of his finger down Fawn's cheek. He felt a tear. "What is it, love? Something's bothering you. I've felt it for awhile, but I've been waiting until you're ready to talk. Does it have anything to do with a mission?"
Fawn sniffed and nodded. She turned her head to look into her husband's emerald eyes. "The mission was…was…Zoe's mission."
"Honey, that was years ago."
"I know. Wade, I'm worried about Zoe.
This sample is from Book Two in the Shapeling Trilogy and it's part of the sequel to Book One.
After Fawn left, Roth touched his lips to Rainey's ear. "Let's go home, Soiuer."
She turned her head and met his azure gaze. "I love it when you call me that."
"The term is only for you."
"I know that now, but the first time you said it, I went crazy not knowing the meaning. And you weren't any help. Every time I asked for the translation you got mad."
"That's because I was calling you my lover when I had no intention of making it a reality. I was very frustrated." He bent and whispered in her ear again, "Soiuer, let's go home and make sure neither of us are frustrated."
Rainey giggled and playfully pushed at her husband's chest. With a twinkle in her eyes, she said coyly, "Only if you shift into your shapeling form."
Roth tilted his head back and laughed. "Anything for you, love." He captured her face in his palms and planted his mouth on hers. A little sound escaped her throat as she leaned into his passionate kiss. Pulling back, she glanced self-consciously past him and into the lab. Jim grinned and gave her a thumbs-up sign.
Late that night, Roth returned from soaring over the forests surrounding the Childress estate. He landed at the open French doors of their balcony and spoke the Prayer of Secrecy, shifting from a Bald Eagle into his human form. He approached his sleeping wife, gazing fondly at her round belly under the covers.
A moan from Rainey brought his attention back to her face. She grimaced and turned her head back and forth on her pillow. Roth knew she was having the dream again. The only thing marring their happiness was her recurring dreams about the hieroglyphs from the Sacred Cave in Egypt.
According to Tahnoon, leader of the Bedouin tribe who had led them to the cave, the ancient etchings contained the secrets of sound.
Roth heard Rainey moan again and sat on the side of the bed, stroking her forehead. "Soiuer, it's okay. It's only a dream." Roth waited for her to awaken and thought about the translation of the hieroglyphs.
Amun, Lord of silence, without mother, without father, being everything, creates nothing. Mut, Lady of Heaven, without mother, without father, balances everything with a feather. Khonsu, great snake, son of Amun and Mut, fertilizes the cosmic egg with disharmony to create.
He trailed his fingers across her cheek. At first she had scoffed at the poetic words having relevance to anything. However, upon their return to the United States, the dreams had begun. She said the dreams were always similar; she was in a black void consumed by thought forms. At first, the thoughts passed slowly through her mind, but then began speeding up until she waited for the inevitable explosion because there was no release for them.
Roth continued stroking her forehead and she relaxed and opened her eyes. He bent and softly kissed her lips. "It's only a dream. I'm here."
He looked at the strange expression on her face. "What is it?"
With a quick intake of breath, she said, "I understand the dreams, Roth. I know the secrets of sound."
Excerpt set up: Fawn is a shifter. Unknown to Wade, she is the mysterious feral white mare.
Fawn located Wade in a secluded section of the ranch; she shifted into the white mare. He whooped and pulled off his cowboy hat when he spotted her. Galloping toward her on Misty, he slid off his mount to straddle her bareback. Together they soared across his land. He called her by the name he'd given her, Sweetheart. Fawn had never shown herself to anyone but Wade. Sometimes she'd hear the cowboys razzing him about the ghost horse he always claimed to be riding.
A sudden gathering of clouds bumped each other and lightening zigzagged. The pasture darkened and rain poured in buckets. Wade, leaning low and grasping her mane, yelled for her to slow, but the feel of him on her back, and the pelting rain, excited her so much that she threw caution to the wind. He yelled again.
Her back hoof hit a mud pocket and she went down, throwing Wade sideways off her back. Shooting pain lanced her hind leg and she squealed. Wade jumped to his feet, sluicing mud from his body. He bent over her, "My God, No! No! Please God, let her be okay."
Fawn dug her hooves into the rain soaked earth and stood again. Wade rubbed her neck and tried to sooth her. He zeroed in on her limping leg, and rasped, "Please don't let it be broken." His expert hands felt the leg and he yelled above the downpour, "I don't think it's broken, Sweetheart." He reached for the walkie-talkie clipped to his belt and lightening split the sky asunder. Shaking the device, he punched the buttons again. "Shit!"
Fawn needed to find a place to shift and she started to move away.
"No! Sweetheart, don't try to walk on that leg. I've got to get a vet to you."
Fawn saw movement and looked toward it. Wade followed the direction of her head. Misty stood in the distance under the covering of a ledge. Wade whistled to her, but the storm blocked the sound. Lightening flashed again, followed by a deafening boom. Misty remained in her shelter.
Wade spat the words, "Damn! I've got my cell phone in the saddle bag. Maybe the service is working." His Stetson had flown off when he'd been thrown and he now reached to wipe rivulets of water from his eyes. He turned back to her, soothing her with words and touches. He said something that made her heart pound. "Sweetheart, we seem to have some sort of spiritual connection that I don't understand." He spoke in her ear. "Don't leave. I've got to get help." He patted her neck and leaned his forehead against it, then he turned and ran toward Misty.
With his back to her, Fawn knew what she had to do. She had to get back to the ranch before Mrs. Porter brought Zoe home. She prayed, shifted into a sparrow and flew skyward against the downpour. Wade turned back around.
"Holy shit! Sweetheart, where'd you go?"