Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday from NOBODY'S ANGEL--How would you react to the paranormal?

How would you react if something paranormal crashed unexpectedly into your everyday world?  That’s the question I dealt with during a scene in NOBODY’S ANGEL, when the heroine is confronted with the impossible.  Kendall's reaction mirrors her personality.  What would your reaction be?


“…the date for memorial services for David Beamer, San Francisco’s favorite news anchor, has yet to be determined, as the police investigation into this incident is ongoing. . . Co-anchor Jane Walters was taken to St. Francis Hospital—”

“Excuse me, would you mind turning that down, please?” Kendall met the cabbie’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “I’m sorry, I have a terrible headache.”

The volume decreased to where Kendall could block out the words, but she wasn’t nearly as successful at blocking out the memories. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw the gruesome scene flashing before her. The screaming, the blood, the madness.

If it were possible, she’d never close her eyes again.

That, of course, made for a sleepless night. With nothing better to do, she decided to pick up her car left at the station. Who cared that it was two in the morning? If she was going to go for the sans-sleeping way of life, nocturnal errand running was something she might as well get used to.

At least the rubberneckers had left, Kendall noticed as she paid the cabbie and made her way to her trusty hybrid still in KPOW’s parking lot. It was a mystery why they’d shown up in the first place. The horror show they’d wanted to see had already played itself out on live television. Heaven only knew what else they’d been expecting to happen.

The hell of it was, none of it made sense. Kendall’s mouth flattened as she found herself turning her car toward St. Francis instead of home. Dave’s behavior hadn’t given any hint that he was about to go postal in front of a half-million shocked viewers. He’d been fine, reading her copy, and she’d been listening to every word. Her words, her story that she’d dug up a mere hour before they’d gone on air, with a gut feeling that this was an important story churning away inside her. Everything had been going beautifully, with Dave reading about the two murder-suicides like the professional he was. Then, in a blink of an eye, he began screaming as he turned into Freddy Krueger.

Not exactly how she’d imagined launching her first lead story.

There was a veritable forest of satellite antennas stabbing up from a fleet of news trucks around St. Francis Hospital, including a couple from her own station. Eager to avoid anyone she knew, Kendall drove to the back and parked beside an empty ambulance bay, only to freeze at the sound of a voice just as she shut the car door.

“You can’t park here.”

Guiltily she started and looked around. Under a porte-cochère and illuminated by harsh sodium lights, she spotted a gray-haired, scrub-clad man leaning against a wall by the automatic sliding glass doors. Clearly on a cigarette break, he looked at her as though she were something that had crawled out of a sewer.

She waved a vague hand toward the front. “I’m trying to avoid the news crews. Is there somewhere I can get in without being seen?”

“Why? You famous?”

“No, I…” She shrugged a little helplessly. “I write copy for KPOW TV News. I was the one who tackled Dave Beamer.”

“Oh yeah. Thought you looked familiar. Your wrestling match with that anchor guy is all over TV.” The man flicked his cigarette away and wandered toward her, a bluish-white haze of smoke swirling around him. “You here to get a scoop, or are you injured from tackling a crazy-ass guy twice your size?”


“Then what are you doing here?”

Good question. “I want to know why my friend is dead. Whether it was a dose of bad drugs, or a brain aneurysm, or a hitherto-unknown funky allergic reaction to shellfish, I want to know why. Whatever the answer is, I’m not going to be able to rest until I find it.”

“The only answer I can give you is that you’re not allowed to park here. We’ve got emergency vehicles coming in and out of…” The man stopped and craned his neck far to the left, as if he had a bad crick in it.

She frowned. “Are you okay?”

There was no warning. A muffled grunt escaped him as he lunged at her, hands outstretched. And his eyes…

His eyes were white.

A scream ripped from her already-abused throat, only to be abruptly choked off as his powerful fingers closed around her neck like a living vise.

This can’t be happening, this can’t be

Her sneakered feet left the concrete with the force of the impact. If her airway had been open, the breath would have been knocked out of her as she landed flat on her back, with the man landing hard on top of her. The back of her head smacked the pavement hard enough for her to see stars shoot across a darkening expanse. By the time her vision cleared, her assailant was looking down at her with a contorted face, his eyes milky white.

Oh no…

Wildly Kendall clawed at the fingers squeezing her neck so hard she felt bone grind against bone. An alarming buzz droned in her ears, while her eyes pulsed with the pressure of trapped blood, until that throbbing was all she knew and everything else faded…

Another violent impact rocked her, and it took her a few dazed moments to grasp that she wasn’t the one who had suffered the hit. Gagging, wheezing, not sure if her throat could even function after being so viciously abused, she sucked in precious gulps of air until the world came back into focus. She rolled to a wobbling sitting position, driven by the instinctive need to find her feet and run. But what she saw made her freeze in dumbstruck amazement.

The figure looming over her attacker was shrouded in black. It was as though the harsh artificial light itself couldn’t penetrate the darkness surrounding the masculine outline dressed in what looked like a long fitted coat straight out of The Matrix. His head was also covered in darkness, complete with a black, Zorro-like cloth that covered not just his head, but the upper half of his face as well.

A mask?

The sight of a masked man was certainly more than enough to stop anyone dead in their tracks, but then the seemingly empty black sockets behind the mask’s eyeholes shimmered. Then they glowed. Then they burned with the ethereal whiteness of pure light, and his hands…

His hands were on fire.

Only it wasn’t like any fire she’d ever seen. It was a rolling, vaporous flame that matched the white flare of his eyes. The sight of it, along with his whitely lit eye sockets, was enough to lock the breath up in her abused throat.

Dear God, I’ve lost my mind.

Her attacker swiveled his head around so hard Kendall heard the man’s neck pop before he swung at the man in black, and she had to blink at how his movements smudged together. The newcomer jumped back, only to unleash a crescent kick the moment he landed, and again her eyes couldn’t quite see the movement in the stark sodium lighting.

No. Wait.

It wasn’t the lighting. And it wasn’t the whack she took on the head, or being choked half to death. Though she knew it was impossible—like everything else she’d seen tonight—the movements of the two combatants were so fast they were blurring before her eyes.

The kick tagged her attacker, who spun with it and took a swipe at her savior’s middle even as an ominous snap of something in the hospital worker’s body rang out. With one of those too-fast-to-see-it moves, her savior evaded, spinning low and into her attacker’s body. Before she could fully register the move, he brought one of his glowing hands up to the aggressor’s chest, while the light where his eyes should be intensified until it was like looking into the sun.

“You’ve done enough damage for one night.” The masked man’s voice rolled forth like a cold wind across a barren plain; harsh, unforgiving. Inhuman. So terribly inhuman it made her want to curl up in a tight ball and never come out again. “I’m ripping you out of there once and for all, you unclean bitch.”

Before her disbelieving eyes, the vaporous white flame encasing his hand flowed into the man’s chest. The attacker’s white eyes bulged as though overfilled with the flame, his mouth opening on a soundless scream before he collapsed as if someone had suddenly pulled his power cord. A blue-white haze—the same haze she’d thought was a cloud of smoke—erupted from him and zipped off into the night.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DANGEROUS ANGEL's Opening Chapter, From Kyle's POV (18 yrs +)

What’s happening on March 31st?  DANGEROUS ANGEL is going to be released from Carina Press, and it’s the final book in the four-part Earth Angels miniseries—woohoo!  Last week, I posted the book’s opening scene (and it’s one of my favorite openings EVER ^_^ ).  Now it’s time for the second part of Chapter One, which is seen from the point of view of the hero, Kyle.  For those who have read the series, they have gotten glimpses Kyle’s slightly insane personality, but he’s only been seen through internet chats and text messages.  This is the first time readers will get the full picture of who Kyle Beaudecker really is, and I'm hoping you like him as much as I do... even if he is a little crazy. (Readers 18 years and older only, please)


The obnoxious odor of smoke and sweat clogged Kyle Beaudecker’s sinuses after ten seconds of breathing in The Toy Box’s poorly ventilated air. He hovered in the back of the low-ceilinged strip joint while his eyes adjusted to the blue-tinted gloom. As expected, the main room was dominated by a pole-studded catwalk skirted with garish silver tinsel, a shimmery mess that was echoed in the curtain at the catwalk’s staging area. The blue neon LED floor tiles would have classed the place up if it weren’t for a few tiles flickering bad enough to spark off a seizure. On the other side of the room the no-nonsense bar showed hard-liquor bottles and none of the decorative glass-and-bottle displays seen in many upscale nightclubs. In seedy little dives like this, fast times and getting drunk were the only two requirements the patrons needed.

Hidden in the shadows, Kyle smiled. When he was in the mood for it, this was his kind of place.

His first cursory sweep of the club didn’t get him excited, so he moved to an out-of-the-way table in the corner of the room to wait things out. As he settled in, however, his attention snagged on a familiar profile seated beside the catwalk. A massive young man waved an enthusiastic farewell to a stethoscope-wearing stripper as if they were long-lost friends.


The habits people indulged in when they were on the run never failed to boggle Kyle’s mind. No matter how crafty a fugitive was, there were still routines, material possessions or vices to which they insisted on clinging. For some, it was family. For others, drugs or alcohol.

For Jon-Jay Horowitz, it was the easy scoring grounds of The Toy Box.

As music hummed a prelude for the next titillating performance, Kyle tried to settle back and relax, but a ripple of restlessness tugged at the edges of his consciousness. Grimly he ignored it, as he’d been ignoring it for weeks now. That internal chaffing had nothing to do with the small-fry in front of him now, or any of the other jobs that had come across his path recently. No, this subtle but aggravating urgency emanated from another source entirely, and he knew damn well what it was.

The secret side of him wanted to do some demon-hunting.

The corners of his mouth tightened while he kept his ass in the seat where it belonged. It didn’t make sense, this crazy desire to go looking for trouble. He was a lover, not a fighter, damn it. He didn’t even know for sure there was any demon left in the world to hunt. Just the thought of it had tension pouring like molten steel into his shoulders, and he rolled his head from side to side in an effort to erase it. If he had half a brain, he’d stop thinking about demons and simply be grateful he had ordinary scumbags to hunt down.

There was no doubt Jon-Jay fit that description to a T. Though Kyle’s latest quarry was barely out of his teens, he already had a dumpy belly and generous man-boobs that jiggled beneath various childish graphic T-shirts. He was the epitome of the term Man-Baby, a nickname his doting mother had tagged him with. But no matter how unsavory he was on the outside, it was nothing compared to what he was on the inside.

The first hint of trouble started when Jon-Jay stole his mother’s bingo winnings. Mama dropped the theft charges when the police traced the crime back to her own son. This understandable—but not well thought-out—act of mercy apparently gave Man-Baby the go-ahead to pillage every relative within reach. In two years, over a dozen burglaries had been brought to light and subsequently dropped.

The last straw had been delivered in a truly cruel way. Man-Baby’s senile grandmother had held onto an antique rose-gold watch as if it were a lifeline in a never-ending sea of emptiness. She held it, kissed it and told everyone at the nursing home her wonderful husband had chosen to forego vacations for a decade just so he could buy her that watch.

Then one day, it went missing.

The elderly woman died within hours of its disappearance, fading into darkness without uttering another word. The home’s surveillance video revealed Man-Baby had come to visit, and as he’d pretended to adjust her pillows, he had slipped the watch right out of her gnarled old hands. He then blew what money he’d gotten for that irreplaceable memento on a new gaming system and a two-day bender at his new distraction, The Toy Box.

Jon-Jay Horowitz had bawled as he’d been dragged away in cuffs. When bail had been set, it came as no surprise when Man-Baby’s mother—“He doesn’t know any better, he’s just a baby!”—put her tiny house in Coconut Grove up as collateral. The moment she’d been distracted, Jon-Jay was out the door with his mother’s 1950 first-edition hardback autographed copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Stealing from his helpless grandmother was horrific enough. Threatening his mother with homelessness was equally heinous. But disrespecting Narnia was the last nail in Man-Baby’s coffin, as far as Kyle was concerned.

In addition to the hefty bounty, the family had matched it with a private reward, so the payoff wound up being a cool fifty-grand. Every bounty hunter in Florida was on the scent, but another sweep of the bar told Kyle that luck was with him. He was the only hunter who knew Jon-Jay enjoyed the dubious delights hidden within The Toy Box. All he had to do now was bide his time, wait for the perfect moment to drop the net, and walk away fifty-thousand bucks richer, while also helping a blindly loving mother out of a bind.

It might not be demon-hunting, but it wasn’t too shabby.

“She’s the woman who makes the grade.” The announcer’s nasal-whine of a voice almost drowned out the order of a beer Kyle gave to a waitress, who tottered so precariously on her high heels it sucked every ounce of sexiness from her corset uniform. “Step out of line and she’ll tie you up in detention, but if you please her you might become her pet. Gentlemen, if you’d ever had a teacher like this, you’d never have ditched a day in your life. For your viewing pleasure, please welcome The Toy Box’s very own Sex-Ed teacher, Ms. Sparkle Spanksalot!”

Outstanding. Kyle laughed as he took his beer, gave the waitress a generous tip for the courage it took to work in this dive, and settled back to enjoy the show. His quarry seemed to have the same idea, half out of his seat so he could tug his wallet out in preparation to flash some cash. He’d let the stripper get paid by the useless Man-Baby; it was the least he could do for having to put up with a ridiculous stage name like Sparkle Spanksalot. But then it’d be curtains for not-so-little Jon-Jay and his rampage of petty self-indulgence.

The heavy throb of “Hot for Teacher” pulsed through the club. On cue, a woman erupted from the cheesy tinsel curtain. Appreciation for how she took instant command of the stage curled the corners of his mouth, and he couldn’t help but sit up straighter as she paused, unmoving, to survey the room as if she owned both it and everyone in it.


There was an unyielding power in her eyes hidden behind ugly horn-rimmed glasses, the kind of power that made a man beg to be punished, as long as that punishment came from her hands. Her dark hair—either brown or black, he couldn’t tell under the glare of the spotlights—was pulled back into a tight bun. Kyle had no doubt that every man in the room wanted to pull it loose to let it tumble through his fingers. Her body was long and rangy, covered in a heavy gray tweed skirt suit that grudgingly showed a bare minimum of wrist and calf.

She was a shrouded masterpiece begging to be unveiled.

“Take it off!”

Kyle didn’t bother stifling a disdainful scoff. It came as no surprise that Jon-Jay, a towering moron who understood nothing but instant gratification, was the first to yell his head off. That oaf had zero appreciation for savoring the almost-painful build-up of anticipation, or delaying that moment of satisfaction until a strong man screamed for sweet release.

Ms. Sparkle Spanksalot, though, could probably write a book on the subject.

She had a ruler in her hand, and she pointed it at Man-Baby before swatting her own tweed-covered ass with a flash of polished wood. It wasn’t bad, as far as asses went, firmly packed into a heavy costume that looked ridiculous in Miami, but he had to admit he was as curious as Jon-Jay to see what was beneath the wrapping. Before he could think better of it, Kyle let loose a whistle when she put the ruler in her mouth and twirled around the nearest pole, one hand holding the thin bar while the other ripped open the fastenings of the tweed coat and prim, high-collared shirt beneath.

When NASA introduced the world to Velcro, they probably had no idea of the gift they were giving to strip joints everywhere.

There was a black scrolling tattoo running down her spine that was familiar, but as the dark gold of her skin brought his brain to its proverbial knees, he wasn’t interested in figuring out why it struck a chord. All he wanted now was for her to swing around in his direction so he could see what the acres of tweed had been hiding.

The coat and blouse were tossed away as her stilettos touched the catwalk. Briefly he pondered how a real teacher’s feet would be turned to hamburger in those shoes by the end of the school day. Then that wayward thought sank under a rush of desire-spiked male appreciation as she turned his way once more. The woman was a goddess. Her breasts were covered in a spangled white bikini top, and just full enough to have a hint of shadowed cleavage. Willowy arms honed with fine muscles moved gracefully as she toyed with the fastenings of the school-marmish skirt. A charm in her navel flashed, bringing attention to a lush stretch of honey-hued skin. Her torso was long and lean, and the ridge of rib cage showing with each sweet gyration hinted at a fragility that made his hands itch to explore.

Holy hell, he wanted to touch her.

The heavy calf-length skirt loosened. With a move akin to drying off one’s backside, the stripper stood right in front of Kyle’s target and shook her tweed-veiled ass until Man-Baby erupted with a raucous hoot. Satisfied, she tossed the skirt aside, and revealed a heavily spangled white bikini bottom. It wasn’t the dental floss G-string he’d been expecting, but nevertheless it was a sight that turned his mouth into a desert and his blood into a wild flow of molten lava. The liquid heat pooled in his lower regions until he had to shift, the raw hunger pulsing through him so feverishly he didn’t have to look down to know he’d grown hard.

Mystery solved as to why Jon-Jay Horowitz was such a fan of The Toy Box. If this was the caliber of talent employed at this unassuming establishment, then Kyle really had no choice but to become a repeat customer himself.

With a half-smile that would have seduced a ninety-year-old monk, the woman onstage repositioned the ruler in her ruby-red mouth so that it stuck straight out. Then she sank with a ballerina’s grace to her knees and offered the opposite end of it to Man-Baby.

Damn it, not him. He’s not worthy of you.

Kyle glared at the lummox’s expansive back while Man-Baby upended his chair in his haste to accept the woman’s challenge, and the ruler passed from her mouth to his. Then, still on her knees, she sat back until she was resting on her heels, her head tilting all the way back as she slid her hand down the center of her lean torso. And down. And down. And down…

A harsh sound grated out of Kyle’s clenched throat when her fingers slid boldly under the edge of the spangled panties. Her hips arched and rocked, a fluid sex-motion that he could picture her doing as she rode a man until he cried out for mercy. As he watched, so mesmerized by the unrepentant vision of sensuality, he didn’t realize he’d reached for the bulge behind his zipper until he groaned at the pressure of his squeezing fingers.

She was the embodiment of carnal pleasure, a fantasy men wove in the darkest part of night when sleep was impossible and the bed was empty. It almost crushed him when she withdrew her hand, as her ecstasy hadn’t yet been reached…and pulled out a shiny pair of handcuffs.

Oh, hot fucking damn, YES.

The other patrons seemed to agree. The noise level trebled as she swung them tantalizingly in front of Jon-Jay. He let out another whoop and gave her a fistful of money before he offered up his wrists. A strange, out-of-place expression flashed across her face for a split second. It looked almost like…like…


“Wait a minute.” But even as suspicion slammed into Kyle with all the force of a sledgehammer, she slapped the cuffs on Jon-Jay and hopped off the stage in a no-nonsense manner, pulling a badge out of one of the spangled bra cups of her bikini top as she went. Then, when she flashed it in front of Man-Baby’s disbelieving eyes, took off the big, ugly glasses and shook out the long waterfall of wavy dark hair, Kyle wished to any powers listening that he had the flexibility to kick himself in the ass.

“Damn you, Nikita.” And, to add insult to injury, Kyle found he didn’t have the strength to peel his hand away from his rock-hard dick.


Just nine weeks to go before DANGEROUS ANGEL is out!  Until then, check out the three books leading up to it—NOBODY’S ANGEL, SAVAGE ANGEL, and WOUNDED ANGEL, all from Carina Press.  Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on this blog for Throwback Thursday, where I’ll post favorite scenes from the previous Earth Angels books. :)

Buy links for pre-ordering DANGEROUS ANGEL:

Friday, January 24, 2014


Straight from Carina Press's fabulously talented art department, I have the cover for DANGEROUS ANGEL—wheeeeee!  Since I’m a perpetually playful personality (ooh, alliterations), I thought it might be fun to do this in puzzle form.  Ready?  Tada!!!

Buuuuut, let’s face it.  Some peeps prefer the non-playful approach.  That’s cool.  I don’t judge. *cough*grumpypants*cough*  So I thought maybe something subdued would be appropriate.  Discreet.  Like a crop circle.

Then again, that doesn’t give you the full view of my awesomely awesome cover, does it?  You can’t get the kickass color from trampled-on wheat (does that look like wheat? I think it does). Since this Carina Press artwork deserves bigger-than-life greatness, I wanted to hire Banksy to "up" the street cred of DANGEROUS ANGEL.  Sadly, since no one actually knows who Banksy is, I was forced to do my own graffiti.

I know, I know. AMAZING, right?  But… you still can’t see ALL of it.  So what the heck, let’s just slap it up, shall we?  




Also, since it’s officially the end of Friday, it’s time to announce the winner of my mini-giveaway. The winner of the $10 Amazon GC giveaway is…

HBowles! *throws confetti*

Holly, I’m going to contact you via FB to ask for your email addy, and I’ll get that right to you, okay?  Happy shopping and thanks for dropping by!

Watch this spot on Tuesdays for teasers from DANGEROUS ANGEL, and Thursdays for throwbacks from NOBODY’S ANGEL, SAVAGE ANGEL, and WOUNDED ANGEL, otherwise known as The Earth Angels series from Carina Press.  If you haven’t seen their covers, look no further than right here.   Enjoy!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday--First Scene of NOBODY'S ANGEL, Plus $10 Amazon GC Giveaway

Welcome to my first ever Throwback Thursday! Less than ten weeks from now DANGEROUS ANGEL, the final book in The Earth Angels miniseries, will be released (March 31st, sqeeeeeee!).  Because this thought plunges me into the deep end of nostalgic warm and fuzzies, I’m revisiting the stories leading up to this series’ conclusion.  First up is the opening scene in NOBODY’S ANGEL, Book One in The Earth Angels.  Have a quick read-through and leave a comment, and you could win a $10 Amazon GC tomorrow.  Enjoy!

Chapter One

“I can’t believe it…”
“There was so much blood.”
“What happened?”
Fragments of conversation hit Kendall Glynn from all sides, but the words were no more than an irrelevant buzzing in her brain. She was just as oblivious to the emergency vehicles scattered outside San Francisco’s top-rated KPOW TV station. Some of her colleagues were crying, while others spoke to police. The sea of people behind the yellow crime-scene tape all looked the same—eager spectators hoping for a glimpse of more blood, more madness.
She’d had enough of both to last a lifetime.
“Miss? Have you been treated?”
Kendall’s zombielike shuffling halted at the deep melodic voice close to her, and she turned to discover an EMT had appeared at her side. For a long moment she stared at him while his words slipped across the frozen surface of her mind without leaving a mark.
“I’m not hurt.” Her voice came from far off, unrecognizable and rough around the edges. Which made sense. The last time she’d used it had been to scream.
And scream.
And scream.
“You might not be hurt, but you are in shock.” Somehow she was moving again, heading for the back of an empty ambulance. It wasn’t until he helped her into it that she realized he’d pulled her along like a lost two-year-old. “I’m going to check you out, okay?”
“This blood, it’s not mine.” Amazing, how calm she sounded.
“I understand.” After settling her on the side of a gurney, the paramedic lifted her chin with a gloved hand and flashed a penlight across her eyes. “You’ve got lovely eyes, just like emeralds. Do you have a name?”
“Kendall Glynn.”
“My name is Zeke Reece. I’m going to take your vitals now, okay, Kendall?”
“I’m not hurt.” He had to understand she wasn’t the one who needed his attention. “The others, Dave Beamer and Jane Walters, they’re the ones who...” Oh, God.
“They’re being taken care of.” A blood-pressure cuff slipped over her arm. Began to squeeze. “You were close to them when it went down, right? Can you tell me what happened?”
“I don’t know.” Confused, she shook her head. “One second Dave was doing his job—smiling into the camera and reading the copy I wrote about a couple of murder-suicides. It was my first lead story.”
“Maybe he didn’t like how I wrote it.” She couldn’t seem to stop shaking her head. “The next thing I knew, Dave was choking our anchorwoman so hard I thought he’d snapped her neck, before he took his pen and…”
“Easy.” Zeke moved to sit beside her and pushed her head between her knees. “You’re not allowed to go that white, Kendall. Makes me think you’re going to faint.”
“I don’t know what happened,” she said again, closing her eyes and willing the queasiness to pass. “Everyone was screaming. It wasn’t until I got close to Dave that I realized he was yelling the loudest. It’s like he was possessed, jamming his pen into his own neck while he screamed for someone to stop him. I jumped on top of him, but…” She gulped in air until the ringing in her ears went away. “I think he’s dead. I think Dave is dead.” She trembled on the verge of admitting she’d seen the essence of Dave’s life drain away, just as she’d witnessed her grandfather’s life essence drift from his body in the hospital when she was a child. She’d told her mother about it, and had been reprimanded for letting her imagination run away with her like crazy Aunt Maggie, a woman who read palms and talked to spirits for a living. But deep down Kendall had always suspected what she’d seen that day was real, and Aunt Maggie probably wasn’t as crazy as her family claimed.
After tonight, though, she couldn’t help but think she might not be standing as securely on the stable ground of sanity as she’d once believed.
“I’m sorry to say you’re right.” The EMT’s deep voice brought her back with a jolt. “Dave Beamer didn’t make it. Jane, though, is still alive. That’s something.”
Kendall let out a shuddering breath as the nausea passed. “I’m fine now.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” But he let her straighten up, his hand on her back. It felt sturdy and warm, but if this was what it took to get a hot guy to sit next to her, she was all in favor of eternal spinsterhood.
Lord. How awful she must be, thinking that at a time like this.
“Your color sucks.” With that professional assessment, he reached into a duffel bag and fished out a flask. “Let’s try some non-regulation emergency medicine packed just for such an occasion. Do you have any allergies to seventy-five-year-old brandy?”
“I have no idea.”
“No time like the present to find out.” With that, he tipped the flask into her mouth. Fiery liquid scalded her throat, but the sting brought the world back into sharp focus. “Better?”
“Maybe.” She gasped after downing what felt like half the flask. That had to be what it felt like to chug jet fuel. “I think I can now breathe fire.”
“Sounds like a cool superpower to have.”
Kendall half-laughed, then was shocked she was capable of such a thing. “Did they teach you that technique in EMT school?”
“Nah, Boy Scouts. Always be prepared.”
Kendall trembled on the verge of laughing again and glanced at the man seated beside her. She must be in some serious kind of shock, was all she could think. That was the only way she could explain overlooking a square-jawed, raven-haired behemoth of a man with the most mesmerizing golden-brown eyes she’d ever seen. His chin was shadowed with a cleft at the point, and the arch of his brows had an elegant curve that made her fingers itch to trace them. She almost lifted a hand to follow through with the urge, and had to look away to stop herself from getting touchy-feely with a complete stranger.
“Your color’s coming back.” To her surprise he indulged in some face-touching of his own, laying the back of his gloved hand against her cheek. “Nice and warm. Brandy does have its medicinal merits, doesn’t it?”
“I think I’m going to make it.”
“I never had a doubt.” Tucking the flask back in the duffel bag, he pulled out a packet of wet wipes. “Once you get some of that blood off you, you’ll feel even better. May I?”
“Oh. Uh, I can do it—”
“Yeah, but I can see it.” Clearly not a man who took no for an answer, he began to massage her face with the cold wipe. “No one else is as covered as you, did you know that?”
“I’m not sure I want to know that.”
“Seems to me you were the only one who dived into the fray.”
“Oh?” Kendall frowned, oddly distracted by his touch. “Does that make me weird?”
“Depends. Were you and Dave Beamer close?”
“I’m not close to anyone here, yet. I’m a transfer from a small-market radio station in Half Moon Bay.” She leaned into his hand without thinking, almost nuzzling him. “I’ve only been at KPOW for three months, working as a researcher and assistant editor.”
“So you didn’t know him?”
“I didn’t say that. Dave was the first real friend I’ve made here, and he was the one who gave me a shot at the lead story tonight. He wasn’t threatened by me, my ambitions are in investigative journalism rather than anchoring. We hit it off right away, so much so that I’m comfortable in saying that wasn’t Dave tonight. It just wasn’t him.”
“Did he look different?”
“Since he’s never stabbed a ballpoint pen into his jugular before, I’d have to say yes.” Fearful she might puke at any moment, Kendall focused on his soothing ministrations. “There was a light in his eyes.”
“A light?”

“Light isn’t the right word. More like a veil. Like cataracts.” This man had some serious magic in his hands. In an alternate universe—a universe where he wasn’t wiping a dead man’s blood off her face—she would have done just about anything to keep him touching her.
“What color was it?”
Her closing eyes snapped open. “What?”
“That veil must have had some color. White or red, perhaps.” He continued to wipe at her cheeks, before sliding down to her neck. “Maybe you didn’t see anything.”
“It was white.” She arched her neck as luxurious warmth spilled from where his gloved hand lingered over her pulse point. “Milky white. Guess that sounds kind of crazy, huh?”
“Witnessing death puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people—violent death even more so. Who knows what really went down tonight? There we go.” He balled up the wipe and tossed it before he crooked a finger under her chin. “Feel better?”
“Um.” His heavy-lidded eyes were soulful, looking into hers as if she were all he could see, and her nerves beneath his fingers tingled as though from a lover’s caress. How appalling. A colleague killed himself right in front of her, and here she was getting overheated by a calendar-worthy first responder. “Yes, thanks. I should be able to drive home now,” she added, nodding toward her car not too far from where the ambulance was parked.
“Yeah. No.” He moved to hop out of the back before offering her a hand. “You’re getting a ride home.”
“Oh, please don’t bother—”
“If you don’t agree, I’ll follow you in the ambulance, lights on and siren blaring. At least then everyone would know to stay away from a potential hazard on the road.”
Something in his eyes convinced Kendall he wasn’t kidding. In the end, she followed along in his wake when docility wasn’t part of her nature. Her brain spun its wheels in an effort to think of a way to keep him by her side a few minutes longer, the need to simply be with him inexplicably powerful. But all she could do was thank him when he handed her off to a police officer, who did some hot and heavy ogling of her own when he walked away.
“With paramedics like that, I’d be willing to suffer a little emergency every now and again,” the woman muttered, eyes trained on Zeke’s firm backside.
Despite being in wholehearted agreement with her, Kendall gave her a sharp look. “I’d say one dead anchorman qualifies as more than a little emergency.”
The other woman arched her brows. “Both victims were breathing, last I heard.”
As the affronted cop led her to a patrol car, Kendall frowned. Obviously her shock-benumbed brain conjured up the impossible image of Dave’s spirit drifting vaporlike from his body; that made total sense. But why had Zeke sounded so sure Dave Beamer was dead? As they drove off, she searched the triage area for the paramedic with soulful eyes and gentle hands, and suffered an almost mournful pang when he was nowhere to be found.

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