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Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Trailers, Preorders and Vacations!

by Suzanne Rock/AvaConway

I keep saying that I'm almost done with my hectic schedule, but this time I mean it. :) I just handed in SHATTERED, the sequel to HOLLOW, and will start planning my promotion next week. It's hard to believe that the release of Hollow is only a few days away. I'm so excited to share all of the awesome characters at Newton Heights with all of you!

Recently, I had a friend make a book trailer for Hollow. I thought I'd show you




Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Disaster in this thrilling and sexy debut novel, in which a college student learns her perfect life is a lie and finds new love where she least expects it—a mental institution.

Freaks, misfits and psychopaths. Those are the kinds of people found at Newton Heights Psychiatric Hospital, and high-society girl Lucy White's new home.


Freaks, misfits and Jayden McCray. Jayden has his own set of rules for life at Newton Heights, and in this contradictory guy Lucy finds a way to live with the events that left her cheating boyfriend and best friend dead and Lucy in the middle of the investigation into their demise.


The problem? Jayden makes her want things she's not supposed to have, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality and making Lucy feel more at home in Newton Heights than she ever did at home. But this isn't how her life is supposed to be.


Or is it?


Special preorder sale on from Amazon. Get it for only $1.99!

In other news, I'm part of a HUGE multi-author boxed set that is releasing tomorrow. Yeah, you have to wait until tomorrow to read it, but you can preorder it today. :) This is a fantasic lineup of authors, some of the best in the biz. Sponsored by Ink Heart, we're hoping that these boxed sets will help showcase some of our work.

 


I won't put the book descriptions here, because it will be too long to read, but if you're interested you can read the Sexy and Sweet (Mainstream Romance) set here, and the Steamy and Sizzlng (Erotic) here. Both boxed sts are only $2.99 for a limited time, so that means that you can get both for only $5.98! My addition is an Ecstasy Spa novel, The Great Escape. 

Like audiobooks? I finally got the fifth book in my Ecstasy Spa series up for sale on both Amazon and Audible. I'm a huge fan of audio, so I'm really excited to bring this to readers. :)


You can read more about Pressure Point either on Amazon, or Audible.

To celebrate all of these releases, I'll be taking part of a huge Summer-of-love-a-palooza with the Smutkatters. There will be prizes, contests, behind the scenes information, and much more.


I'll also be taking part in the monthly Ink Heart party over on Facebook, so be sure you watch our Facebook Page for dates and times!




On the personal front, I'll be taking my annual "no work, no internet" vacation with my family starting July 6th. We all unplug every year to reconnect with each other and to break the cycle of internet addiction we all seem to suffer from during the other 51 weeks of the year, lol. We've been doing this for a couple of years, and the first time it was really hard, but now I actually look forward to it. With no distractions, we really focus on each other and create some awesome memories. :)


For our vacation this year, we'll be taking a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. It should be a lot of fun. :) The only electronics I'm bringing is my kindle, because I can't go a week without something to read.

How about you? Do you have any books you are hoping to read this summer? How about vacations? Are you planning on going anywhere? Tell me about it. I'd love to hear from you!



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Coming Soon, All Bets Are Off by Sandra K. Marshall


My new short story, All Bets Are Off, will be released at the end of the month.  If you have, or know someone with a gambling addiction this story is for you.  You'll learn the havoc this addiction causes you, your family and friends. 
                               
Can you kill love with a single mistake?  In All Bets Are Off, the heroine, Ana Torres, does something unforgivable.  Or is it?  Will Jason Gibbs absolve her from her sins?  Will their love grow stronger, or will each go their own way?

Can a recovering gambling addict bet on a 2nd chance at love?  If you liked the Riverboat Mysteries, you will enjoy this soon to be released story from Eirelander Publishing. 

As soon as I have the buy links, I'll post them to our Yahoo group. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Heat with Sizzle by Janice Seagraves

Here’s something to help heat up your summer.
Matrix_Crystal_Hunte_Cover_for_Kindle
Blurb: Team Alpha Three’s spaceship is out of power after fighting a wormhole, and parked on the primitive world of Zenevieva. With half the team sick from radiation poisoning, the team commander entrust geologist, Maya Gladstone, to find enough matrix crystals to power up their spacecraft, so they can go home to Earth.
Vach Namaste of the powerful Clan Namaste, a native of the planet, has desired the lovely Maya since she stepped off the spaceship on that astonishing day a year ago. He’s hounded her every step since. As Hymeneal Night approaches, he makes plans to take her as his bride… willing or not.
~*~
 
Excerpt: As promised, Maya bought another cheap tote so she wouldn’t damage her prize. Then she worked her way through the bazaar, buying supplies for the next day’s trip. As she went from tent to tent, hunting down the few veggies, fruit and other types of food that she could digest, she caught glimpses of the Zeeman following her. She tensed. What does he want with me?
.
She stalked completely round one of the tents to come face to face with him. Now’s my chance. “Why are you following me?”
.
“What? I don’t know what you mean.” He took a step back.
.
Maya grabbed a fistful of his dark brown robes. “Yes, you do. You’ve been dogging my steps from the moment I set foot on your planet.” She suddenly noticed that the young man was bigger than she’d thought. His chest was deep and his shoulders broad. His arms were larger than Bobby’s and he worked out. And here I am, holding him by his clothes.
.
He stared at her hand. “I like you and want to get to know you. If you were one of my people, I would woo you.”
.
She realized his robe wasn’t made from the rough, homespun fabric used by the common Zeeman. Is he a clan lord?  Maya loosened her grip on the silky material. “Who are you?”
.
He moved back and swept his arm down in an elaborate bow. “My name is Vach Namaste of the Namaste clan. It would please me if you remembered it.”
With a flutter of his robes, he hurried away, weaving through the crowd. It wasn’t until he had disappeared that Maya realized that he’d been speaking to her in English.
 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why More Authors Should Write IR Romance

I recently joined the Loving Day Blog Hop as an author of interracial romance. In honor of the day, I wrote a light-hearted post discussing why I, as a pasty-faced white woman, felt qualified to write interracial romance. #:0) Normally, it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to ask myself that question because, as an author, I write about a wide variety of characters. That’s what we do, right? We study, watch, and ask questions until we understand our subjects and then we craft them based on that knowledge.

But I was first exposed to this question a few years ago at a Romantic Times panel discussion about the genre. Someone in the audience asked an author on the panel why she felt she could write from a black woman’s perspective. I was irritated by the question at the time, I mean, we weren’t talking about aliens from another planet were we? Women don’t have inherently different needs, challenges, or dreams just because of the amount of melanin in their skin. We’re all the same color under the skin. And if we’re using that as a parameter for what authors are qualified to write, most of today’s fiction would have to be trashed. I mean…I’ve never been a vampire either. LOL

I soon put the question behind me, considering it unimportant. Since that day, I’ve had a couple of readers ask me the same question. I told them pretty much the same thing I said here. Again, I shrugged it off. But one author’s reaction to my Loving Day post made me think about the subject from a different perspective. She thanked me several times for my post and expressed the wish that more authors would write IR romance. That was when I realized that the question I’d been shoving to the background might be a very important one, if only because it’s designed to keep a large number of very talented authors out of a hungry and ever-growing market. If we’re told we’re unqualified to attempt something, often times we believe it’s true.

The market for interracial romance, mostly of the black woman/white male variety (BWWM) is enormous. Readers can’t seem to get enough of these stories and if they like an author they’re very vocal and supportive. Some of my most loyal readers are fans of my Honeybun Heat and Honeybun Fever series, many of which are IR romances. I run into these readers all the time at conferences and they always take the time to give me a smile or a hug and tell me how much they love my stories. These readers don’t look down on me because I’m pasty. They don’t assume I’m unqualified to write their favorite stories. They’re happy that I give them hours of escape from real life, which can be challenging and difficult for ALL of us.

So don’t let someone else define what you’re capable of understanding and writing. Untether yourself. And if you’re interested in giving a wonderful audience the type of stories they love to read, then what the heck are you waiting for? *grin*


Happy Reading (and writing) Everybody!


Honeybun Heat: Book 7
Coming Soon - July, 2014!

She’s fighting to protect everything she cares about. He can’t resist a damsel in distress. But he has no idea how high the cost will be if they fail. 

Clovis Honeybun is working undercover to catch the assassin targeting his uncle, Senator Brick Honeybun. But his search is waylaid when he spots a pretty woman being mistreated by a guy who looks a lot like his target. Going rogue on a dangerous hunch, Clovis plunges down a trail that might be the right direction but the wrong bad guy. Ultimately, Clovis discovers he could have to choose between saving the woman burrowing her way into his heart, or a man he’s loved and respected since he was old enough to crawl. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guest Blog: Erotic Romance Author Cris Anson



Meet Cris Anson
Erotic Romance Author 

I write erotic romance because I firmly believe that life doesn't stop at the bedroom door. I had a deeply romantic relationship with my husband of 22 years, and I want to celebrate his memory in my writing. After he died, it took me a long time to come out of my grief, but parts of him -- his honor, courage, optimism, tenacity, and lust for life -- live on in all my heroes. They’re all alpha men, as well.


And I write erotic romance because I feel you're never too old to give or receive love. Many of my stories have older heroines who dazzle younger men. As well, I’ve been immersing myself in research into BDSM and my newer works delve deeply into the lifestyle.  

Reviewers have said about my work:

 “sexy, erotic and sizzling” (TwoLips Reviews); “Author Cris Anson is on my auto-buy list” (The Romance Studio); “packs a powerful punch” (Happily Ever After Reviews); “unbelievably gripping and clever storyline…fraught with sexual tension” (All Romance eBooks).

Ms. Anson has been thoroughly enjoying herself lately...writing hot romance sprinkled liberally with BDSM.  How does she do it?


How Erotic Author Cris Anson Researches BDSM



Write about what you know. We’ve all heard that cardinal rule, right?



But if you want to write about a subject you don’t know anything about, you have to do research. Lucky for me, I’m enjoying my research these days—about BDSM, about the kinky things people do, about Power Exchanges, about Dominance and submission, about Safe, Sane and Consensual.



So how do I research BDSM? It started in August 2012 when I attended the first BDSM for Writers Workshop Weekend in New York City hosted by world-renowned sexologist and psychologist Dr. Charley Ferrer. Last year’s event was also modestly sized, but this year the workshop concept has blossomed into a full-fledged four-day conference with some thirty workshops over four full days, from August 21-August 24 2014. Registration is still open at




By the way, this conference isn’t just for writers, there’s a reader track which includes hands-on demonstrations by lifestyle practitioners (including spanking, fire play, erotic knife play, violet wand, and erotic toys). Among the how-to-write-BDSM workshops are two I’ll be giving, one with Joey W. Hill, “Putting the Reality and Romance in your BDSM Story Without Having to Don Leather”, and one with Miranda Baker, “How Personal Experience Enlivens our Books”. Pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum, wouldn’t you say?



Meanwhile, I’ve connected with local groups which meet monthly for “vanilla” socials as well as occasional private parties. I’ve been flogged, spanked, violet wanded, handcuffed and toyed with, tied up and tied down. To get into Dom headspace, I’ve also flogged and spanked others. I’ve written about my experiences in my blogs, especially my most-visited (by far!) blog, BDSM: Part IV, Getting Naked At Paddles.


How does all this research translate into actual writing? Here’s an excerpt from my most recently published book with Ellora’s Cave, Redemption and Glory. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide how much is personal experience and how much is fiction.



The setup: Vinnie (Davinia) is at a private party, tied back to back with a nearly naked sub. Jonathan is mentoring Adam, the hero.



Excerpt from Redemption and Glory 
 © 2014 by Cris Anson

 Erotic/Age 18 and over only

A large hand grabbed a fistful of her hair, arching her neck to one side. Vinnie’s gaze lifted to—Adam! He nuzzled her temple, kissed the tip of her nose, stroked her cheek with a knuckle, all the while pressing his humongous erection into her hip.



Vinnie sighed. This she could understand. The illicit thrill of being aroused without being able to respond. The blatantly sexual kick of the Wartenberg wheel skirting her nipples while roaming at will over her body, of Adam kissing and teasing her, of the feel of naked skin under her fingertips, of Jonathan’s low, soft voice promising obscene sexual actions ostensibly to his sub but reaching Vinnie’s ears and, yes, her pussy as well.



“Adam,” said Jonathan in that same low, seductive voice, “unbutton Davinia’s top. She needs to feel the wheel on skin, not through some heavy piece of fabric.”



Still fisting her curls in his grip, Adam managed one-handed to open the garment, revealing an underwire bra of almost sheer ecru lace. The gasp he was unable to hide at seeing more of her went straight to her pussy and she hoped he wouldn’t be directed to remove her slacks, or he’d encounter an extremely wet thong.



Apparently he took his role seriously, for Adam worked the blouse halfway off her shoulders, pulled the tails out from under rope and waistband and tucked the material as far back as could be managed.



Then—yes!—he pasted his hard cock against her again, rubbing it up and down her hip while his teeth grazed the exposed column of her throat. Sandor played the wheel over her nipples, which had hardened almost unbearably. Between them they were driving her crazy. She felt her hips begin to undulate in response.



“Davinia!” Jonathan’s voice snapped. “Stop twitching. Do. Not. Move.”



She took a deep breath and steadied herself. Remember, right now you’re a sub.



“Now the trousers.”



Oh god.



Adam released her hair and used both hands to work the button then the zipper of her slacks. He knelt at her feet, nose centered right at her crotch, and inhaled deeply. Then looked up at her, desire rampant on his face. His eyes burned, his jaw worked, his skin flushed.



Then he slowly slid the material down her legs until it pooled at her ankles.



Dear god, she couldn’t stand it. Her pussy wept for his tongue, his fingers, his cock. The wheel continued its exploration of every exposed inch of her skin above the waist. Even Jonathan had abandoned his suggestive comments to his sub as he thrust one hand into Vinnie’s hair and yanked her head back until it rested on the sub’s bowed head, making Vinnie’s breasts jut forward as her spine arched.



She couldn’t help it. Her hips moved restlessly, she fought against her restraints because she needed to touch Adam—hell, or Sandor or Jonathan, she just needed a man in her hands, needed a cock inside her, needed someone to scratch this intense itch, she needed to—



With a single gesture from Jonathan, all three men stepped away, leaving Vinnie panting and desperate for fulfillment.


Blurb for Redemption and Glory

Bored with all the groupies who provide him with anonymous sex, famous sculptor Adam accepts the offer to lurk behind a voyeur screen at his agent’s BDSM club. Watching the magnificent Mistress Glory in action, Adam is so smitten that he can’t decide if he wants to tame her or kneel before her.

When Davinia helps her business partner at a book signing, the man of her wet dreams, a magazine’s “Most Eligible Bachelor,” comes by to help publicize the event. Instant lust turns to chagrin when he addresses her as Mistress Glory.

As the two novices to Dominance and submission explore what turns them on in this exciting new world, the journey takes explosive twists and turns. Add the sexy agent and his slave, and anything can—and does—happen.

Warning: contains male/male and female/female action, a foursome and lots of dungeon activity resulting in one scorching-hot story!


~ * ~


Cris Anson with Alpha Caveman DeAngelo at 
Romanticon 2013



Here’s where you can find Redemption and Glory in digital format. It will be released in paperback in November 2014.







Also check out my website  and blog






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

HOW DID JUNE BECOME THE MOST POPULAR MONTH FOR WEDDINGS?



I was married in June. At one time I thought I’d never marry in that month because June Bride is such a clichĂ©. Yet, on June 12, 1976, I was a bride. The reason I chose June is because the weather is usually nicer then, not cold, not too hot or humid yet. I had my reception out of doors and sweated that it might rain, as it does frequently around these parts. But we had a beautiful day. Mother Nature fooled us, though, by making it very hot.

Here's my husband and me on our wedding day.


I got to wondering why June is such a popular month for weddings. So I did a little research. I’m not sure anyone knows the correct answer, but here are some things I found interesting.

Some say it’s the harvest. Back in the agricultural days when every hand was needed for the harvest, the feeling was that a young bride who got married in June and had a summer pregnancy wouldn’t be too far along with the pregnancy that she couldn’t help out at harvest time. Make sense? Could be.

I’m not really sure about this one, but it also makes sense. You’ve all heard that a long time ago people took an “annual bath.” It seems the “annual” bath was taken in May or June, so people got married in June when they were less stinky. Definitely the ick factor at work here.


This last one sounds like it could be the most likely. Juno was the ancient Roman goddess of marriage. Many Romans honored her by marrying in the month named after her, June. They figured it was a favorable time to marry. Totally makes sense.

What is the next most popular month for weddings? August, followed by September.

There you have it, some theories as to why June is the most popular wedding month. Do you know of any others?

Most everyone loves weddings and brides. And marriage-of-convenience stories have always been popular. I know I love them. I have several books and short stories featuring weddings. A few of my short stories begin with a wedding scene, and many of my shorts and novels end with a wedding. My novelette, Her Forever Husband, is about a modern-day marriage-of-convenience. This story is available separately and is also included in the multi-author anthology, The Marriage Coin. The heroine in my novella, Loving Or Nothing, owns a bridal salon at the Jersey Shore. A Groom for Christmas is about a fake fiancé who becomes so much more. Loving Or Nothing and A Groom for Christmas are each available separately or in a boxed set along with my short story, A Cinderella Christmas. The set is called Wedding Dreams. What could be more appropriate for June?










Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Meet Kathleen Creighton and her Demon Lover

Today we present an interview of award winning romance author, Kathleen Creighton.

NOTE: For additional information about Kathleen and her books, visit her author page at http://www.romancebooks4us.com.

Questions for Kathleen and her answers:
How did you get started writing your wonderful romances books?
(1.)  I've been writing something or other since I was about 9 years old. The romances came about much later.  My first--a short story written when I was about 19 and published in a pulp magazine called "Ranch Romances"-- was sort of an accident.  I had no idea I had written a "romance," had no idea what a "romance" was, and so was never able to duplicate the feat.  Flash forward through all the years of raising kids, and there I was about to become an AYSO soccer coach. During a workshop drill on a foggy summer morning in coastal California, I suffered an injury that had me bed-ridden for several weeks. I read--a lot. And I read romances, because that was what my dear sister-in-law brought me by the shopping bagful. And somewhere at about the 20th one, the light bulb came on in my brain. Ah HAH! I can write these!

My first efforts gave my school-teacher mom fits of the giggles--I never was a great speller.  However, I kept at it, took a night class at UCLA taught by a terrific lady (and writer) named Marilyn Lowery, met my agent, the late and dearly missed Pat Teal, and a couple of years later, in 1983, sold my first book to Silhouette.  It was "DEMON LOVER," which hit the shelves in February of 1985.  This past December, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of that first sale, I released "Demon Lover" in digital format.

To date I have 48 published books and counting. Slowly...

Where do your ideas come from?
(2.) My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere.  That's the easy part.  I can get an idea from a song, a place, a photo, someone's personal history, my own personal history, a name, a title, a newspaper or magazine article, a TV show... Anywhere.  However the process of turning an idea into a book takes a whole lot of work.  And I mean the kind of work that happens while I'm staring into space appearing to do nothing while hours tick by in a heartbeat.  On one memorable occasion, I was pitching ideas to my New York editor via telephone. I had several I thought were pretty good, and pretty well developed, so I expounded on those. Her response was: "Uh huh..." So I threw at her an idea that had popped into my head a couple of nights before while watching PBS or National Geographic or some such station: "I, uh, had this idea about a story set on an orangutan rehabilitation station in Sumatra..."  "OH!" she cried, "I love it! Do that one!"  I think my reply was, "Gulp."  I had no story, no characters, no plot...nada."  Eventually, the book was written, and "TIGER DAWN," was a RITA (tm) finalist that year.

What’s your daily writing routine?
(3.) My daily writing routine varies with my circumstances.  I've managed to keep writing through a lot of upheaval and change in my personal life, including divorce, deaths, cross-country moves, and 9-11-2001.  Somehow, I've always managed to find a time of day to write that works for me.  Until recently.  For some reason, since losing my husband to lung cancer and moving back to the community where I grew up to care for my (then very ill) elderly mother,  I haven't been able to get my groove back.  Right now I live in two houses, located almost 20 miles apart.  At night I stay with Mom and care for the animals on the farm where she has lived all her life (and where I lived as a child) and help her run her life.  She's 93, now, and in great health.  During the daytime--most days--I drive to the nearby town where I have my own house and garden and stuff, and kind of sort of try to write.  It's not working real well, but I'm trying.

Do you have favorite characters from any of your stories?
(4.) I do have favorite characters, actually, but quite often they aren't the main characters in the story.  I love the "absent-minded professor" hero in "THE SORCEROR'S KEEPER," because he was roughly based on my son, who was a child at the time, and of whom I used to exclaim in exasperation: "He's going to need a keeper when he grows up!"  But even more, I love the two-year-old, Wendy, in that same story.  I love the homeless bunch in "EYEWITNESS," and the dog in "DANGER SIGNALS."  And the cat, Pia, in "THE PRETENDER," because she's MY cat--aka "The Cat From Hell." One of my all-time favorites is Doveman, from "THE AWAKENING OF DR. BROWN."  And, of course, my very first hero, Chayne Younger, from "DEMON LOVER."

Is there any one person or persons who have influenced your writing?
(5.) This is a tough one.  I know the first person who really had an influence on my writing was my Uncle Tommy Hand, because when I was a child, he told me I should definitely keep on writing. He was the one who made me think I had some talent. There was Marilyn Lowery, of course, the lady who taught that class at UCLA, who also made it clear she thought I had something special.  Pat Teal is probably the one who taught me how to write a romance, though, and I learned a lot from Leslie Wainger, my first editor, even if she could be something of a tyrant at times.  <grin>

What do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?
(6.) When I'm not writing--which, sadly, is most of the time, now--I'm kept pretty busy with Mom, the animals, my garden, and involvement in community organizations and activities.  I sing in the choir at my church, serve on the boards of directors of our local historical society and another community service organization, am a member of the local Rotary Club, and organize a group of gleaners who gather the leavings from the potato harvest in our valley and distribute it to various food charities.  I love to take pictures and spend a lot of time making photo books from them. I spend quite a bit of time keeping up with family members, loved ones, friends, my kids.  I spend way too much time on Facebook, and of course, like all writers, I love to read.  I also collect old dolls in need of restoration.  I used to restore them and resell them, but these days don't have the time.  I do hope to get back to it some day, though, because I have HUNDREDS of them!  If I have time--someday--I would love to do more traveling.  Right now, my favorite trip is to Austin, TX, to see my new baby grandson.

What’s up next for you?
(7.)  What's next?  Finish the book I'm on! It's the third book in a 5-book series, called "The Scandals of Sierra Malone."  The first two books, "SHERIFF'S RUNAWAY WITNESS," and "THE PRETENDER," are available for all the various eReaders.  I hope to finish the third, tentatively titled "THE SOLDIER'S SECRET," this summer.  After that, I hope the next two, to complete the series, won't take nearly as long!

In addition, I'm continuing the task of bringing out my older work in digital format.  I have released ten books so far through Blue Jay Publications:  Six books originally published under the "Loveswept" imprint for Bantam Books; one book originally published as a Harlequin American Romance, under the pseudonym Kathleen Carrol; a short single title romance originally published by St. Martin's Press, which was the basis of a CBS Movie, "A HOLIDAY TO REMEMBER;" a Silhouette Christmas novella; and of course, "DEMON LOVER."  You can read more about all of these on my website.

 And there are lot's more to come! 

 Demon Lover
Blurb:
Veteran Border Patrol agent Juliet Maguire was amazed to find herself still alive.  She’d been captured by the most dangerous of border smugglers—the ruthless man they called “Blue Eyed Demon.”  It was he who threw her into a camper, removed her clothes, and offered her one frightening chance—make the other coyotes believe she wanted to be his new lover or die at their hands. She would have to create the illusion of lust to survive,  no matter what the cost to her dignity. As she abondoned herself, her world turned upside down in a way she never could have imagined.

Excerpt:


JULIET MAGUIRE AWOKE amazed at finding herself still alive. For a moment she couldn’t think why she should be amazed; but then memory returned in a single sickening rush and instead she couldn’t understand why she should be alive.
Coyotes. I’ve been captured by coyotes.
Cold–blooded smugglers, ruthless traders in human contraband, couldn’t possibly have any use for one incredibly clumsy Border Patrol agent. It would have been so easy for them to kill her and dump her body in the desert.
Why didn’t they?
And where am I?
It was dark, but she seemed to be on a bed, in something that moved. She could feel the rough fabric chafing her cheek, hear the low growl of a powerful engine, feel the occasional lurch and sway of rapid motion. The camper—she was in the camper, of course! And they were on a paved road, probably still in the desert, since the road seemed to be arrow straight.
She lay very quietly, holding her breath and listening for sounds of alien breathing. She heard only the drone of the motor and the sound of her own blood pounding in her aching head. She was alone. That fact gave her very little comfort; they had left her alone because there was absolutely nothing she could do to escape. Julie wasted no time struggling with her bonds. They were simple and effective—completely professional.
He knew his business, that one—the tall one. The one who had caught her.
What was it they’d called him? Demonio Garzo. Or had she only conjured the name from her nightmares? Blue–eyed Demon. Julie shivered in the darkness.
How did it happen? I’m a professional, an experienced and well–trained agent. How could I have let it happen?
Partly to keep her mind off her physical and emotional discomforts, and partly because it was almost second nature to recap any incidents encountered on patrol, Julie stared into the shadowy darkness and began a painful and meticulous replay of the whole fiasco.
…From my position behind the rocky knoll I watched the camper crawl across the desert floor, dragging a plume of dust behind it like a deflated parachute. I frowned, shading my eyes against the late–afternoon glare. Something about that camper bothered me.
It wasn’t anything that could be explained. The extra–wide wheelbase and oversize off–road tires, heavy–duty shocks and four–wheel drive could all be the accommodations of a dedicated off–road enthusiast. But there was something—a gut feeling, an instinct. I didn’t question it; after nearly ten years as an agent of the United States Border Patrol I had learned to trust my instincts.
The camper climbed steadily toward me up the narrow dirt road, its engine purring with the throaty growl of power to spare, its gearbox whining in high–pitched overtones. I watched it pass and drop out of sight over the ridge, and then climbed back into my vehicle, reaching for the radio as I snapped my seatbelt into place. I gave my location and stated my intention to pursue a suspect vehicle, then started the motor and pulled slowly out onto the road.
I kept well back. The desert could easily swallow up a vehicle bent on eluding a pursuer. And if the camper was, as I suspected, carrying smuggled illegals from Baja California, it would probably be heading for a rendezvous sometime after dark, either to pass its human cargo on to another, more innocent–looking conveyance for the last leg of the journey to the urban wilds of Los Angeles, or to deposit them in some remote way station to make their own way north. They might even abandon the whole camper–load to die in the desert. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Coyotes. There isn’t an agent in the Border Patrol who doesn’t loathe and fear the unscrupulous smugglers. I consider them the lowest form of life—and the most dangerous. They are usually sky–high on drugs and completely unpredictable. They can turn violent without warning. I considered requesting a backup, but rejected the notion as premature. The camper could turn out to be carrying dirt bikes and beer. Just the same, I reminded myself to use extreme caution.
Just before dark the camper left the road and dipped into a dry wash, where it sat motionless and silent. There were no bustling preparations for camp, and no one emerged from the cab; the camper sat in the gully, out of sight, waiting.
So I did the same. I had left my vehicle hidden behind a clump of scrub juniper a quarter mile or so away and now I lay on my stomach at the edge of the ravine. I peered down at the pale glint of the camper shell below, my ears straining for the slightest sound. The warm desert wind rustled through sage and juniper and Joshua trees, masking all the other noises of the lively desert nighttime. There was no moon. In the west the pale glow of the distant city washed out the stars, but directly overhead there were enough left shining to provide a ghostly illumination, turning the land into a surrealistic canvas in silver and indigo.
I remembered to pull on the dark cap I use on night patrols to hide my blond hair.
Where was it now? She closed her eyes and moved her head against the bed, feeling only the weight of her short platinum curls. Gone, then.


 Here's where you'll find Kathleen:
Twitter: @kathleencreigh2


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