Over five years ago, I started on the book I’m about to reveal a scene from, but I put it to the side to write two novellas (self published) and three full novels (two for Loveswept and one self published) along with three partials (a tale for another time). But I can’t get the characters out of my mind, and I need to finish it. At the rate I’m going, it will probably be my longest book.
So far, the book doesn’t have a title. Well, it did, but I don’t like it anymore. For now I call it my Southern Crime Family book. If you read my books, you might recognize the hero’s last name and the county.
It’s unedited and raw. Here you go.
“I hope you rot in hell, old man.”
Jake Whitfield leaned over the grave and spit as his father’s casket slowly disappeared into the blackness. When a violent shudder brought the crank to an abrupt stop, he shot a sideways glare at the cemetery worker.
The man wiped a sweaty forehead on the upper sleeve of his faded gray uniform and kicked the contraption. “Stupid old thing,” he muttered as he avoided Jake’s gaze.
With a painful screech, the device started up again, rattling and jumping, and finally a solid thud came from the hole as it reached the bottom. If he believed in ghosts, he’d swear the hateful bastard wanted out to kill him.
Jake’s attention fell on the mourners surrounding the gravesite.
Their jackets flapped in the hot wind like vultures settling around a carcass as most of the men stared at the ground beneath their feet. No one looked into his face. Though the minister shook his head at Jake’s disrespect, he, like the others, didn’t say a word. They understood his hatred. Everyone who attended would love to do the same, if they had the backbone. All were business associates and most came not so much to grieve for the man’s death, but to receive assurance that his dad had died.
Many of the people in Sand County owed Dick Whitfield their livelihood and endured his heavy-handed manipulations, but none suffered like the Whitfield brothers. The old man had reveled in tormenting his bastard sons more than he did his associates. Besides their last names, the old man refused to give the boys anything without a deal or concession involved. Then again, maybe an agreement had been made when they were born, a bargain with the devil for their souls.
Releasing a snarl, Jake turned and nodded at his brothers. Townsend, Sen as he was known, and Ethan fell in step beside him as they headed toward the old man’s white limo idling next to the curb. No one said a word.
Another gust of wind tugged at their jackets. A bouquet of dead flowers blew across their path to become stuck between an urn and headstone.
Behind dark sunglasses, Jake scanned the area. Tension from the funeral and a gut feeling warned that danger lurked. Nothing appeared strange or out of place. But life with the old man had taught him to be extremely cautious whenever emotions ran high. With new leadership at Whitfield Industries taking over, many of the smaller players wanted a part of the business and conspired to oust the brothers. He knew without a doubt, no one would take one brick or dollar without a fight. After years of being under the old man’s rule, they deserved every piece of his ill-gotten money and property. They each had worked hard and often for pennies compared to others who worked for the old man and did far less.
He glanced around again without being obvious. The old cemetery covered acres of well-tended plots that held numerous large memorials and oak trees. Several people headed toward their cars while others remained near the burial site, talking and gesturing toward the grave being filled. In the distance, he heard traffic swooshing by, but strangely the birds stopped chirping in the swaying limbs.
Steps away from the limo with the chauffeur waiting inside, Jake passed a life-size marble statue. The head exploded, spraying chunks of the white stuff. The confirming snap of gunfire sent everyone running for cover. Screams and shouts of concern punctuated by more shots echoed around him as he scrambled for the other side of the limo, its bulletproof body offering better protection than a tree or headstone. He motioned for his brothers to follow. In no time they hunkered down with guns in hands.
“Damn! Who do you think it is? Some asshole out to get Jake for sleeping with his girlfriend?” Ethan sat on the ground with his back near to the car’s engine, watching for anyone coming from behind.
In his usual calm manner, Sen checked his Beretta and then edged closer to the taillights. “Probably the girlfriend.”
His brothers loved to rag him about how his last girlfriend had another guy on the side. When he kicked her out of his home, she must have told the other boyfriend a tall tale as the dumbass came at him with a gun. It almost became messy. When the boyfriend realized whose door he had knocked on, the poor dude wanted out of town so fast, he left rubber on the road for a half mile.
Jake shook his head and white dust fell around him. His forehead stung. A light touch came back with blood, just a nick. “Most likely someone who’s wanting to take over the old man’s businesses,” he said as he ignored his brothers’ comments. “Or possibly the person who set the fire.” Leaning over, he ruffled his hair, showering the ground with powder and bits of stone.
He sneered. They’d already received warnings that someone outside the county planned to make a move soon. He hadn’t expected it to be at the cemetery. The old man was barely cold in the ground.
Several more shots zipped by and dug into the asphalt a few yards away.
Damn! They needed to concentrate on stopping the sniper. Normal people ran and kept moving when fired upon, but no, not the Whitfield boys. Maybe he and his brothers were as insane as the bastard they buried.
Sen nodded to where the road looped into the cemetery near the interstate fence. “I think the shots are coming from that direction. See the old rusted-out black van?”
“Yeah.” Ethan peeked over the limo’s hood.
“The sliding door is cracked opened. You think he’s still in there? The smart thing for a shooter to do is leave with the crowd.” Jake referred to the mourners cranking automobiles and screeching tires on their way out.
“I’ll go around and come up on the opposite side.” Without wasting time, Sen stooped low and ran alongside a couple cars parked by the curb.
Jake shook his head. He always wondered if his middle brother had a death wish. “Tick!”
The rotund driver inside the limo rolled down the window, showing only the top of his pale bald head and large blood-shot eyes. “Yeah, boss?”
“Scoot over. I’m coming in.”
“You get in the back.” Jake nodded at Ethan. With a jab, he returned his gun in its holster beneath his jacket.
“Sure, boss,” his brother said, mimicking Tick.
In seconds, they eased the limo down the lane toward the van. Jake caught a glimpse of Sen dashing behind a tree a few feet away. Then the side door on the van slammed shut, and a figure dressed in black jumped into the driver’s seat. No way would he let the asshole escape. He flatfooted the gas pedal and the old limo t-boned the van.
The crunch of metal and broken glass rang in Jake’s ears as he pushed hard on the door and sprinted to the other side. Two fellows ran for the trees. He tackled the nearest one as Sen sprinted after the faster, smaller one.
“You son of a bitch!” Jake flipped him over. Fist pulled back to slug the sniper, he stopped. “Sally? Sally Tally?”
Light green eyes in the middle of dark liner and eye shadow glared up at him. Chin length ebony hair tipped blood-red stuck to a sweaty pale face. A grimace stretched her crimson lips lined in black as she waited for the downward swing.
He lowered his arm and examined her clothes. No wonder he’d mistaken her for a guy from the back. She wore an ankle length leather coat, thick sole biker boots buckled at her knees with tight black pants tucked in. The only feminine clothing was the stiff red corset holding up plump, creamy white breasts, heaving with each intake of breath.
“No one calls me Sally anymore. Call me Angel.”
The last time he’d heard that husky voice, they had been teenagers, and she’d stolen his wallet. He’d retaliated by turning her over his knee and giving her nearly bare bottom a good sound spanking. During the chastisement, an unexpected dilemma had emerged. He’d enjoyed it way too much.
A famous author told me one time to never give the first chapter as an example. People will read the first chapter of a new book and think they already have it. So please, if you want to read this make a note to yourself somewhere, “I need to buy this book.” LOL! If all goes well, I should be finished with it this summer. When it will be published is still up for debate.
Of course, the above is copyrighted.
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Circle of Desire was my debut book. Sure there are a few things I would change about the book, that is if I had written it recently, but overall, I love that story. My favorite thing about the book is that the heroine is just as dangerous as the hero. And the hero knows it and respects it. They are equals in many ways. Both are damaged, but the heroine is more so. Though the hero knows this in the beginning, it takes him a while to understand how much she has to overcome. All of it makes him love her more.
One of the hottest part of the book is how they got turned on when they argued. A couple times their arguments even turned into a physical fight and then an explosion of red hot sex.
Here’s an excerpt (not a sex scene – you need to buy the book to read those – but there is lots of sexual tension). Collin is standing over Olivia as she is stretched out on a couch.
“You need to be briefed on our policies. Then we’ll test you to see what skills you possess and the best way to utilize them.” He watched one corner of her mouth quirk up as she tried to hold back the smile. “What’s so funny?”
“You.” She gave up the struggle and grinned big. “All your policies, testing, and utilizing. Why don’t you talk like a regular person? And tell me in plain English what you want?”
She raised one knee and the robe parted, exposing a long, smooth length of gentle muscled thigh to trim ankle. His hands itched to clasp her legs around his neck again and rejoice in the taste and heat of her body.
Relaxed and smiling up at him, she revealed her true danger. Her sex appeal. Deep inside he’d realized he held an intense attraction to her. But for now, at the beginning of her training, he needed to keep her at arm’s length to a certain degree, holding himself away from her like a carrot in front of a donkey. He studied her face. If she could read his thoughts, he would be dead for comparing her to a donkey.
She turned on her stomach, arms folded across the armrest, chin on top, looking at him with a poignant softness. Though she appeared all sweetness and femininity, he knew she was lethal. What method would she use to kill him? Her hand slammed into his nose, shoving bone and cartilage through his skull, killing him instantly? Or debilitating him with a hand to his crotch and then a twist of his neck? The latter took strength or skill. While she’d been handcuffed to the bed, he’d experienced firsthand the well-trained muscles defined beneath her silky skin. She had many deadly skills.
When I think of Jack Drago in Circle of Defiance, I think of how different he is from all the other heroes in my books. He loves cats. In fact, owns a white one named Kinky. His best friend is a female (Marie from Circle of Danger), and strangely, considering how he falls in love with unavailable women, he never touches her sexually. And he recites poetry when he’s amorous (fancy way of saying horny).
Though his brother hates his guts, he has a soft spot for the big guy (Rex from Circle of Deception). Hey, he made sure that his brother and his brother’s sweetie reunited. No one knows the real Jack. Totally misunderstood by all who hate him and that’s a lot of people in The Circle. Bless his heart, he even ended up being dumped in Sand City, Alabama drunk and in trouble with the organization that should be looking after him. But one woman understands him, better than he’s comfortable with. She doesn’t have a sweetheart or husband, but I imagine Jack believes she’s unattainable because her dad is the head of a dangerous syndicate. The same one that hung his brother naked by the ankles in a warehouse (Circle of Deception). To Jack, Katerina is merely a challenge. He loves challenges.
Here’s the beginning of the novella.
The sharp smell of blood and alcohol penetrated the cool air as the glass door closed behind Katerina Savalas. She hesitated and scanned the unfamiliar surroundings. Being in the less than safe side of town, she wanted to get her business done and over with as fast as possible.
Never in her wildest nightmares had she imagined stepping into such a place. When her dad kicked her out of the house, she’d sworn she’d find another way to express herself. Too many people believed it to be the perfect way to protest. Instead, it became a rebellion that led to a habit. Not her. No way.
Looking at an intriguing drawing on the wall, she shook her head. Maybe it was a tiny bit tempting.
“Hello, pretty little girl, what can I do for you?” The man smiled and his skin pulled at the black swirling pattern covering one side of his face. A chain connected his pierced nose to a large spool in his ear and jingled when he moved around the counter. He stopped a little too close.
She swallowed, trying to keep her stomach from turning upside down. Just thinking about a needle sinking into her skin gave her the willies. Taking another deep swallow to settle her stomach, she forced her legs to stiffen and hold her up.
Wrenching her gaze away from the maltreated chunk of fat and skin, she looked over his shoulder to regain her composure. “I was told Jack Drago’s here.”
“Who told you that?” His tone was threatening.
“Phil at the Sandbox,” she answered, straining to see around a curtain in the back of the room.
Whoever named the bar had thought they were cute, playing with Sand City’s name. She agreed the place was pretty decent as it sported a couple pool tables in the back and a small stage for local bands. Even on Tuesday nights, families gathered and enjoyed an old movie shown on a drop-down screen. A person could call the atmosphere homey, for a bar. She’d visited it several times since moving into the small town. But then again, the Sandbox being the only bar in town limited her choices.
The owner had told her to hang around until late that evening. Jack often showed up by nine. The problem with that was she didn’t want to waste any more time. So he’d suggested checking at Lonnie’s Place.
From what she’d seen so far of Lonnie’s, she preferred the Sandbox Bar and Grill.
“Phil’s going to get his ass beat, if he ain’t careful. He knows better than to give out info about Jack.”
“So he’s here?” When the man’s brow wrinkled in confusion, she added, “Jack. Is Jack here?”
The Mike Tyson wannabe leaned close, his onion-loaded breath bursting across her face. She moved back a step and pretended to scratch her nose. Anything to block the smell.
“Whatcha going to give me?” He grabbed her arm. “Everyone pays a toll.” The leer told her what he expected.
Without thinking, she pushed forward and brought her knee up hard. He hit the floor with a scream so high-pitched it came out more like a squeak before he curled into a ball. Thanks to her brothers’ endless roughhousing, she’d learned that little trick a long time ago. She grinned and stepped over his body, heading toward the large red satin curtain separating the back of the room. He’d think twice before placing a hand on her again. Nevertheless, she’d better find Jack quick before the man recovered.
Pausing for a second to take a deep breath, she then fisted the soft material, yanking it across the pole, making the large metal rings clank. She gasped.
Stretched out on a recliner, head shaved, broad chest bare, jeans and black underwear around one ankle with a large smirk on his face, was Jack Drago. A shapely blonde sat between his legs with her head bent over his groin.
Face hot, Katerina took one step back but hesitated, squashing the desire to turn and run. She needed his help, and she couldn’t put it off any longer. With her decision made, she forced her gaze to meet his, not caring about whatever she intruded on. Light blue eyes examined her with lazy, licentious interest. No matter how uncomfortable his stare made her feel, she refused to look away.
The man was still as gorgeous as she remembered with his grid-defined abs and huge muscled arms on full display. Some type of Celtic design covered one shoulder to wrist. Piercings through his nipples, one brow, and a loop in his lip made him look like a pagan god while the woman worshiped his . . . staff?
Warmth spread across her face and neck.
“Hey, you look familiar,” he said in the deep gruff voice she remembered. “I know.” He lifted a stubborn chin. “You’re that Savalas girl. Kristina. No. Katerina. Yeah, that’s it.” He slung a beefy arm over his head; his relaxed pose displayed muscles and toned body like a romance novel cover. “Come over and tell me how she’s doing. She claims to be a pro at it, but I think I’m her first.” He chuckled as he lifted a bottle of Devil’s Cut in his other hand and guzzled a third of it.
Shaking her head, Katerina held up a palm. “No. No. I’ll pass. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
The blonde huffed and leaned back. “I’ve been doing this for ten years, and I’m a hell of lot better at it than the fellow in Atlanta you were telling me about.”
Fellow? Eyebrows raised, her gaze returned to his face. He swung both ways? Then a mechanical humming stopped. What in the world? Unable to resist any longer, she peeked over the blonde’s shoulder.
She breathed a sigh of relief on seeing the artwork the woman worked on. Feeling a little stupid ― it was a tattoo shop ― she eyed the design.
On the left side of Jack’s groin, a large black ink pattern depicted a fallen angel with wings curled over a bowed head and around a bruised, bloody body. Dark feathers brushed Jack’s abs and ended where his thigh and torso met. The design was beautiful and poignant.
When Jack’s cock twitched, she realized where her gaze had drifted, and her face heated again until it probably looked like an overripe tomato.
She twirled around, giving him her back. “Uh . . . I need to talk with you. After you pull up your pants.” The image of his cock would be seared on her brain for the rest of her life.
Be on the lookout for the paperback book with the novellas, Circle of Dishonor and Circle of Defiance, coming out soon!
Recently, I read an interesting article about how readers enjoy seeing the relationships in an author’s books spelled out on her website or blog. So here you go. Be careful. There are some spoilers.
THE CIRCLE NOVELS (Circle of: Desire, Danger, Deception, Dishonor, Defiance)
Olivia St.Vincent (DESIRE) – trained by Theodore Palmer (leader of The Circle) to be an assassin, kidnapped by the hero, Collin Ryker. Shows up also in minor roles in DANGER, DECEPTION, and DISHONOR.
Collin Ryker (DESIRE) – leader of the OS, he’ll do anything to protect his people, even hand over the woman he’s fallen for to his enemy. He believed his brother (Arthur Ryker) was dead. Loves to fight with Olivia.
Marie Beltane (DANGER)- slave to Theodore Palmer, set free when hero, Ryker, kills Theodore. As a child, she was protected by Ryker from Theo. Shows up also in DESIRE and DECEPTION.
Arthur Ryker (DANGER) – brother to Collin Ryker; leader of The Circle after Theo’s death, scarred on one side of face and body from a fire when he was a preteen, wears a patch over one eye. Shows up also in DESIRE, DECEPTION, DISHONOR, and DEFIANCE.
Abigail “Abby” Rodriguez (DECEPTION) – operative in the OS, thought to be dead by former fiancé, Rex Drago, and was the security officer called A.J. with The Circle. Growing up, she always felt out of place with an passive aggressive mom and overachieving brother. Shows up in DESIRE and DANGER.
Rex Drago (DECEPTION) – second in command at the OS, tallest of the heroes at six-five; a thin scar in “v” shape from cheek to mouth to eye. He’s determined to find out why Abby disappeared before their wedding. He hates Olivia and thought she’d been involved in Abby’s death. And he dislikes his brother, rumors are that his brother and Abby are lovers. Shows up in DESIRE, DANGER, and DEFIANCE.
Lena Matthews (DISHONOR) – a widow with no connections to The Circle or OS. She is fascinated by the instructor of tae kwon do, Master J (John). After a stale marriage, she’s really for adventure, and she gets that and more. She’s only in this story.
John “Ice” Takahashi (DISHONOR) – assassin for The Circle, had long blue hair until his book. He killed his yakuza father for dishonoring his American mother. Protective of his half sister. He wants to leave The Circle. An expert in Shibari. Shows up also in DANGER and DECEPTION.
Katerina Savalas (DEFIANCE) – daughter to Mikolas Savalas, crime lord (mentioned in DANGER and DECEPTION); has four brothers. Overprotected by the males in her family, she wants to be independent. Shows up also in DANGER.
Jack Drago (DEFIANCE) – second in command at The Circle, a womanizer who has slept with his brother’s wife-to-be and another operative’s wife, and he gave up the OS to be near Olivia in The Circle. His only friend is Marie (Ryker’s love). He loves cats and tattoos, and of course his heroine, Katerina. When he’s turned on he recites poetry. Being a romantic, in Danger, he’d returned Katerina to her father rolled up in a rug (like Cleopatra). Shows up also in DESIRE, DANGER, and DECEPTION.
A Secondary character in The Circle novels
One character I want to mention here is Ty Roman. He’s a fascinating man. A spy and assassin in disguise. Some readers have mentioned him, but I wonder how many know he’s in Desire along with Danger, Deception and Defiance. He’s mentioned by name in all of those books, except for Desire. In that one, he’s the prisoner of Theo’s that was moved at the time A.J. was imprisoned before Olivia shows up in the cell next to her. If you read them, I bet you didn’t know that. And here’s a little secret, he’s the one trying to take over or destroy The Circle. Maybe one day, I’ll write his book. He’s a very bad man who needs redemption and maybe a kick ass heroine.
THE BROTHERS OF MAYHEM NOVELS (Hidden Heat, Full Heat, Naked Heat)
Cassidy Ryder (HIDDEN) – daughter to former president of Brothers of Mayhem Motorcycle Club. All she wants is to keep her brother (Storm) away from the club. Shows up also in FULL HEAT.
Thorn Savalas (HIDDEN) – Brother to Wolf, undercover cop, and nephew of Trick Savalas, local crime lord. Great nephew to Mikolas Savalas (CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE). He protects his heroine (Cassidy) from the president of the local Mayhem chapter. Has a sleeve of tattoos. Shows up also in FULL and NAKED.
Mary Jane Parker (FULL) – co-owner of Marcus-Parker Motorcycle Repair Shops. Brought up in an eclectic commune. She needs help from the Brothers of Mayhem to protect her partner from the Thirty-second, but they are too late when her partner turns up dead and they come after her. She’s only in the this story.
Storm Ryder (FULL) – Brother to Cassidy. Served a term in prison with time extended due to fighting. Friend to Wolf Savalas. Elected as youngest president of local Mayhem chapter. Shows up also in HIDDEN.
Sofia Cruz (NAKED) – cousin to Toro (enemy of the Brothers of Mayhem and leader of the Thirty-second gang). Sent ex-husband to jail and he wants her back. She never imagined falling in love with a Mayhem Brother. She shows up only in this story.
Wolf Savalas (NAKED) – Brother to Thorn, nephew of Trick Savalas, local crime lord. Great nephew to Mikolas Savalas (CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE). Friend to Storm Ryder. Former VP of the Brothers of Mayhem. Must protect his heroine from nearly everyone. HA! He feels abandoned by his brother. Shows up in HIDDEN and FULL.
Sand City in Sand County: A fictional city and county in Alabama. Really, no way did I want to hear from some city or county official about how terrible I was making the place sound. So I made one up. Mentioned in Circle of Deception, Circle of Defiance, Hidden Heat, Full Heat, and Naked Heat. And will show up in one of the books from my new Southern Crime Family (Whitfield family) series to be released in a few months or so. The Whitfields are mentioned in Full Heat and Naked Heat. And Sand City/ County is the setting for another book to come out in a couple years.
Being a love ’em and leave ’em sort of guy, Wolf never expects to fall for Sofia Cruz. But he keeps their dating low-key, only talking about the here and now. All is good until he discovers her cousin is the leader of the hated Thirty-Second gang. Before their relationship becomes any deeper, he breaks it off and tries to stay away. That is until his MC marks her cousin for retaliation. Wolf kidnaps her. Just to make sure she’s safe.
Sofia is afraid to fall in love again. The men in her life have ignored or used her, especially her ex-husband. So finding out she’s dating a deadly Mayhem Brother, terrifies and excites her. She agrees not seeing each other again will be for the best. So why is she now handcuffed to the sexy biker? And why is she not sure if she wants to be set free?
Everything is looking up, Wolf has proclaimed her as his old lady, and she’s falling in love with the biker. Then her ex is released from prison, and she’s certain he wants revenge for her setting him up. Her cousin wants her back under his protection, and the president of the local MC has decided to use her in his goal to become the next Brothers of Mayhem national president.
To Wolf, it’s all simple. The only way for anyone to reach Sofia is over his dead body.
My book, NAKED HEAT, is coming out February 21, 2017. How appropriate is it that’s Sticky Bun Day? LOL! I guess I will be giving away sticky buns that day or something similar. Anyway, here’s the cover. My newsletter subscribers saw it last week. Click here to get news before everyone else.
Today, I was thinking about assassins. Don’t know what my train of thought was that got me there. One of my problems with ADD. I start looking up one word like Muscular and before you know it, I’m looking at pictures of butterflies. You thought I was going to say naked men, didn’t you? Well, I’m sure I did that somewhere along the way to butterflies.
Going on, I Googled assassins — oh, I remember now — I was looking for the assassin movie that I watched a couple years ago and wanted to use as a reference in my current book. Anyway, I found this great article about the Top 10 Movie Assassins. I don’t necessarily agree with all his choices (Tom’s Collateral should be number 1) but I enjoyed his insight. The article is from 2010, so he doesn’t include Looper.
I love Bruce Willis in anything including that movie. And of course, as you know I have a thing for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. No. Not a sexual thing. I like my men older, like Bruce. But then again I’m happily married. Whatever. Back to the subject.
Then I found this other list of assassin movies under Box Office Mojo called simply “Hitman/Assassin.” It lists all the movies for the last thirty years. Wonderful! I do love them.
That’s partly why I wrote my first published book, CIRCLE OF DESIRE. It’s about a female assassin. The opening scene is her waiting for a target. In fact, I’ll place an excerpt for you.
Yeah, yeah, violence and sex. Sex and violence. That’s what you’re thinking, and congratulations, you’re right. It is an erotic romantic suspense and not about her going around killing people. She will and does, but it’s more about the relationship she develops with her kidnapper/opposing competition.
Okay. Now I’m going back to that list and figure out what movie I haven’t seen. Surely, there are a couple.
[This was originally posted May 10, 2014. I just wanted to share again.]