10/10/12

Sniper Shots: Excerpt 4


Amy skirted a fat spruce at the bottom of the hill she was navigating and froze. A beautiful grassy meadow, about thirty yards across, opened up before her. Crossing it without being seen would be hard, but not impossible. What made her pause, however, was the prickly awareness running along her skin like goose bumps. Slowly, she eased back into the spruce’s needles, ignoring the thousands of tiny pin-pricks against her skin. Someone was out there.
She forced her breathing to slow, quieting the rush of air so she could listen. Leaves rustled, limbs creaked. No voices or footsteps broke the stillness. Not even a faint echo. Anyone else would have assumed there wasn’t a soul for miles. The peaceful quiet only made Amy more nervous.
With the ease of long practice, she melted farther back into the tree’s embrace, sideling through the thick branches with very little sound or movement. Reaching the thick trunk, she knelt on the carpet of old needles to make herself as inconspicuous as possible while she planned her next move.
That wild river ride should have put her several miles ahead of any pursuit. How had they gotten in front of her so fast? More importantly, who was it that waited so quietly for her to step into their trap? Couldn’t be the Wassiles. Despite their self-taught skills and knowledge of the area, Chet and his brothers were like a back-woods version of the Three Stooges compared to men like Chambliss and Velavich.
And the Harrier.
Amy’s heart jumped in her chest. The thought that Joshua might be tracking her made her limbs turn to jelly. If he’d somehow discovered she’d been taken, he’d probably just assume from the evidence that her kidnappers were the Wassiles. He wouldn’t be expecting a professional like Chambliss, or worse, Adrik himself.
She needed to warn him.
She stood, only to have her common sense stop her. She didn’t know for sure that it was Joshua out there. Odds were not in his favor. He’d probably already discovered her missing from the vet clinic, but how would he know where to search for her? That meant her stalker had to be either Chambliss or Adrik.
It would be just like her ex-lover to play a little cat and mouse before re-taking her. The sick bastard. He was so like his namesake, lying in wait until his prey came within striking distance. She hated the thought of being anywhere near him again. He’d almost killed her the last time.
A slight noise at the top of the hill she’d just descended caught her attention. The heavy footfall came again, followed by another, and another. Then the snap and crackle of broken brush. It sounded like a herd of elephants coming down the hill, which meant Chet and his stupid brothers had caught up to her. Amy quietly let out a disgusted breath. Damn it. She’d waited too long to cross the meadow. Now she was pinned down in her hiding spot. And if those three were here, Chambliss couldn’t be far away.
She’d have to—
An arm snaked around her from behind, hand clamping tight over her mouth. Amy didn’t waste time on screaming. She leaned back to put her attacker off balance, then threw her weight forward, trying to roll him beneath her. Satisfaction shot through her when she succeeded, only to change to chagrin when her attacker’s free arm and both legs wrapped around her, effectively trapping her. She had barely enough room to bring her hand around her hip, aiming for the tender flesh beneath the hard bulge pressing into her butt.
“Careful, sweetheart, we might need those later.”

10/7/12

Sniper Shots: Excerpt 3


Joshua sighed and went to the kitchen, wondering just how badly he’d screwed up. Never in his life had he slept with someone he was supposed to be guarding. If one of his men were to pull such a stupid stunt and Joshua found out about it, he’d bust them so far below private they’d never see NCO status again.
He tried to figure out how things had gotten so off course while he cleaned the couch with a damp cloth and a couple of sanitizer wipes. “Colby, you’re an idiot,” he muttered. “Completely certifiable.” He’d evidently taken too many shots to the head somewhere along the way. The only good thing to come out of this was the possibility that Amy might feel a little more inclined to go along with the whole engagement thing. Or not.
When she came back out of the bedroom a few minutes later, he had their steaks and vegetables warmed up and back on the table.
“Thanks,” she said, smiling and sitting across from him. She wore her own clothes. Joshua tried not to frown at the small rips and stains still visible. The reminder of her close brush with death sent a chill through him. The driver had to have been Velavich. Chet wanted her alive, not dead, and there wasn’t a third player in this deadly game that he knew of. He would have to keep a far closer eye on her than he’d intended. At least until his men got here. Three were due to arrive tomorrow. He’d already worked out a surveillance schedule designed to keep Amy covered twenty-four-seven. If Adrik Velavich so much as sneezed in her direction, he’d be in a NightHawks’ crosshairs.
The silence between them stretched into something almost companionable while they ate. Joshua was content to watch her devour the food he’d prepared. Plenty of time to get back to their verbal sparring match later.
“You’re a good cook,” she said, finally setting her fork down and picking up another roll. She bit into the bread with obvious relish.
Joshua shifted in his chair with a mental curse. He really shouldn’t be thinking about how good those even white teeth had felt against his skin. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
After another long silence, she brushed the crumbs from her fingers and leaned back in her chair. “All right.”
“All right, what?”
“All right, I’ll go along with your preposterous engagement scenario.”
Joshua smiled, feeling an absurd sense of relief. “Considering the rumor has no doubt already spread the length and width of the valley, I think you’ve made a wise decision.”
She snorted softly. “Believe me, I realize how fast news travels here. It’s not the reason I’m going along with your ridiculous plan. If I wanted to, I could deny I ever met you until yesterday.”
“You could, but no one would believe you.”
“Why not?”
“Because everyone knows I never lie.”
She blinked. “You really are delusional, aren’t you?”

10/4/12

Sniper Shots: Excerpt 2


“So you think misbehaving is part of my nature?”
Moonlight highlighted the humorous twinkle in her blue eyes. “I don’t think it, I know it. You forget I’ve been around Kyle and Farrah for almost a year. Just about every story Kyle tells about his past misadventures include a certain Joshua Andrew Colby. The evidence is clearly undeniable. You reek of misbehavior, mister.”
Joshua smiled easily. “In that case, have dinner with me tomorrow.” He really didn’t expect her to say yes. The only thing she knew about him was that he was friends with Kyle and Farrah. She didn’t know him. Which, given his line of work, was probably a good thing. No doubt she’d run away screaming if she ever found out.
Instead of a clipped “No,” and a door slammed in his face, Joshua was surprised at the sudden speculation in her gaze. His heart beat a little faster when she asked softly, “Why?”
He picked the light approach. “Because I think the playing field needs to be leveled. You know all about my misspent youth thanks to Kyle, but I don’t know anything about yours. Not to mention, you owe me for the scare your dog gave me. Damn beast almost gave me a heart attack.”
Smiling, not saying a word, she backed up the next step. He raised a brow and followed. “Retreating, Ms. Sheridan?”
“Just a matter of self preservation, Mr. Colby. Things are getting a little deep around here, if you know what I mean.”
“Are you accusing me of exaggerating?”
“More like flat-out lying. I can’t imagine the man who, as a boy, braved his neighbor’s angry dogs to rescue a baby skunk, being afraid of my Bors. What did you name the little thing again? Patches, Patty…?”
Joshua feigned a grimace. “Panda. And Kyle evidently failed to mention the angry dogs were a pair of Yorkie Terriers.”
“Ah, but size is relative. To a five-year-old, two Yorkies in full battle mode should at least equal one Bors today.”
He held up his hands in surrender. “Fair enough. Far be it from me to tarnish my tough-guy image. I take back the part about the heart attack. Everything else is true, however, so I still need an answer. Dinner tomorrow, yes or no?”
She continued to smile and backed up again, planting both feet on her porch.
He tsked. “Don’t know if anyone’s told you, Ms. Sheridan, but it’s not a good idea to run from a predator. It tends to trigger their urge to chase you down.” Slowly, deliberately, he put first one foot, then the other, on the next step up. Instead of backing away this time, she leaned forward, making him wonder who was really doing the chasing.
“A predator, Mr. Colby? I thought you were a—” She broke off, lips suddenly pressed together in a tight line, as if literally holding back her next words.
“A what?” he coaxed.
She blinked, smiled, and looked at him from beneath her lashes in a way that made his blood run hot. “A man who ought to know better than to try using intimidation on a woman he’s just met. Really, I never would have expected you for the Neanderthal type. Chet, yes, but you?” Lips pursed in disapproval, she shook her head back and forth in a slow, playful gesture. The teasing look in her eyes brought to Joshua’s mind a long, steamy night of naughty sex.
Get your mind out of the gutter, Colby. She’s just a job. A target.
Targets, whether his or someone else’s, were always off limits. Always. That was the one rule he’d never had any problems following. Until now, damn it. For the first time in his military career, he found his libido more than willing to toss the rule book out the window.

10/1/12

Sniper Shots: Excerpt 1


Greetings all! In anticipation of the release of my newest book, Sniper Shots, I'm going to be posting several excerpts in the next few days...just to whet your appetite. Hope you enjoy!
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Sunlight winked wickedly off shiny dark wood as Joshua raised the compound bow and pulled back string and arrow. Maybe a foot of space separated the girl and Chet now, less between their faces. Not much room for error.
He sighted down the straight length of polished wood, past the razor sharp point, and selected his target. He took a shallow breath, held it, and then released his attention-getter. The arrow zinged straight across the water, slipped between the girl and Chet, and sank into a skinny tree. The feathered fletching quivered close enough to tickle Chet’s nose.
Chet stumbled back, rubbing his face. “What the—”
Joshua aimed a second arrow at the tree next to the skinny sapling, noting the girl seemed frozen in place. Was she in shock? Damn, maybe he should have pinned Chet’s boots to the ground instead. Too late now.
He set the second arrow free. All three brothers stumbled back into each other, arms flailing like a trio of drunks. By the time they untangled and turned to look across the river, Joshua had a third arrow nocked and aimed in their direction. Chet shoved away from his brothers and stomped to the rail. “Fagan! Are you crazy?”
Kyle leaned casually against a matching rail, ostensibly taking the weight off his leg, and crossed his arms. “You and your brothers leave Amy alone, Chet.” He nodded in Joshua’s direction. “Or Josh here is going to stop aiming at trees.”
Chet squinted against the late afternoon sun. “Josh Colby, is that you? Damn it, man, this ain’t right! We’re just trying to be friendly here!”
“Go be friendly somewhere else,” Joshua advised, raising his voice over the noisy flow of water.
Kyle yelled again when the brothers didn’t show any immediate signs of backing off. “Look, Chet, you’ve been warned to stay away from Amy. Now back off or I’ll call Penwell and have him arrest your asses for harassment.”
Joshua stared at Chet over the point of the arrow. The younger man’s face flushed so dark with anger he looked like he was going to explode. The possibility made Joshua curse silently. He didn’t need this kind of shit. His orders were to lay low and keep his eyes and ears open, not get arrested his first day home for putting an arrow in the local bully.
Then Chet’s expression changed, smoothing out into a smile. He held up both hands. “All right, all right, have it your way.” He propped a booted foot against the guard rail and pointed a thumb in the girl’s direction. “Though with this kind of temptation running through the woods, I don’t see how you can blame me.” He leaned over and brushed his hand against his leg as if dusting off his jeans. He was so damn easy to read it was pathetic.
Focused on his target, Joshua’s peripheral vision still took in every movement the others made—Arney’s hand rubbing against the bulge of a knife in his jeans pocket, Franklin restlessly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. Only the girl stayed still, for which Joshua was extremely grateful. She could cause problems if she took two steps in the wrong direction.
     Then she moved.