Thursday, April 30, 2015

44 - The darkest night will pass…

Katherine watched fearfully when the limousine pulled onto the drive and the King’s home came into view, the full moon illuminating its ancient grandeur. Other than excursions to go shopping with Chantal, this was the first time she had left Alaine’s estate since she’d been invited to stay with them. She trusted Alaine when he said she would be welcomed here—but still it was the King. And his human wife.

As the limousine pulled to a stop, the door to the manor house opened and a regal, dark-haired vampyre came down the steps to greet her.

“Welcome to my humble home,” he said, bowing slightly.

“Humble?” Katherine gathered up her waning courage, saying, “If this is humble than Alaine’s home is a shack by the railroad.”

Rian laughed, offering her his arm. “As you may have surmised I am Rian Marston. The lovely woman waiting for us is my wife, Pamela.” He looked up to where his wife stood framed in the doorway.

Katherine saw the look of love in Rian’s eyes and felt a tidal wave of sadness wash over her. She had once had that same kind love from Roque, and had thrown it away in a misplaced desire for revenge. Revenge which had driven her insane, and him to his permanent death.

Sensing her emotions, Rian drew Katherine into a brief hug, murmuring, “Do not be so unhappy.”

“If you tell me things will get better,” she muttered angrily.

He smiled. “Oh they will. No pain lasts forever. My son is living proof of that.”

As he finished speaking, they arrived at the top of the steps. Pamela stepped forward, wrapping her arm around Rian’s waist while she studied Katherine. “You are lovelier than I expected,” she commented, a tinge of chilliness in her voice. “Welcome to our home.”

Katherine snorted softly. “I look a mess. I haven’t had a chance to do anything about my hair and I’m all wrinkly. Well my clothes are.”

“Then come with me, I’ll show you to your room and you can freshen up before you meet the boys.” Pamela’s voice warmed slightly as she kissed Rian lightly and then offered Katherine her hand. “You must give me all the news about Alaine and Chantal. It’s been too long since I’ve seen them.”

Watching the two women walk away Rian shook his head. “I’ll never understand women if I live to be one million,” he muttered. 

Katherine, with her enhanced hearing, caught his words and stopped following Pamela long enough to look over her shoulder and say with a small smile, “Nor are you supposed to.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

43 - The darkest night will pass…

Pamela frowned. “Just why are they asking us to take in this woman?”

“Because Alaine has emergency business to attend to and he wants to take Chantal with him.”

“And this woman is incapable of staying there by herself? God knows Alaine has enough servants.”

“Under normal circumstances, I’d agree with you. However her case is different. Do you remember Roque?”

“Of course I do. He was one of my favorites. I was terribly distressed when I heard what…” Pamela looked Rian. “Oh no. You are not bringing that woman into our house, not after what she did. She’s insane. Think of the boys if nothing else.”

“From what Alaine has said she’s changed since Roque’s death.”

“I seriously doubt that.”

“My love, please. At least give her a chance. I trust Alaine’s judgment. He wouldn’t ask it if he thought she was still a danger. As for the boys, they’ll only be here for a few more days at most.”

Pamela gave Rian a suspicious look. “Exactly when is she due here…my love?”

“Well…Promise you won’t kill me.”


“Tonight. I’m sorry but it is an emergency.”

“So I’m supposed to baby sit this woman?” She glowered at him.

“No, just be her friend. She’s been through hell and is still feeling the pangs of guilt and remorse, even though it was a year ago that it happened.”

Pamela huffed in annoyance. “If she gives me any trouble, or even looks sideways at you, Rian, I’ll see to it that she spends the rest of her time locked in her room.”

Rian chuckled. “She is a vampyre, and for all that’s she a young one, still quite powerful thanks to Roque being her Sire. I think she’d manage to escape.”

“She is still our guest and she will behave.”

“Yes, my dear. I shall see to it that she understands. Now if you don’t mind I suggest we prepare for her arrival.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

42 - The darkest night will pass…

“I find it difficult to believe you let him have that horse to ride,” Rian said, scowling at the stableman.

“I’m sorry sir, but he never said a word about not knowing how to ride.”

“He’s right, father. It’s not his fault. I was… I wanted to show Seth I could do it and Nightwind seemed so docile until I actually got on him.”

“Next time, ask,” Rian growled. “Now if I were you, I’d go change. You’re very lucky that you didn’t get torn up as badly as your clothes did.  As for you,” he rounded on Seth, ready to lay into him as well for letting Kemp do something so stupid. One look at the misery on Seth’s face and he changed his mind. “At least you were there to stop the horse, before it took off with Kemp to God knows where.”

“It was all my fault. I teased Kemp into coming for a ride with me, even though he’d told me he was afraid of them.”

“I think,” Pamela said, stepping forward, “that there is enough blame to go around for all three of you. Next time, if there is one, Kemp may use my horse. He’s gelded and quite tractable even with a novice.”

“Yes ma’am,” the stableman said, bowing his head.

“I feel like an idiot,” Kemp muttered.

“As well you should,” Rian told him. “And why are you still standing here? Go, change. Now.”

“Dearest, don’t yell,” Pamela said. “They’ve both learned their lessons. Boys, if you would, please go and do as Rian ‘asked’.” She winked at them. “We’ll meet again for breakfast. It’s you favorite Kemp, stuffed French toast, with kippers and bangers. At least,” she added, “it used to be your favorite.”

“I think I can deal with it.” When Seth looked puzzled Kemp explained that kippers were salted, smoked herring and bangers was just the British term for sausage.

“Even if I could eat, I think I’d pass on the kippers,” Seth said, wrinkling his nose as he tugged Kemp’s hand to get him moving. “We’ll see you later, Sir, and he’ll be spic and span clean by then, I promise.”

“He’d better be,” Rian growled, but he smiled as he watched them leave, kissing his wife’s forehead as she nestled into his arms again.

Friday, April 24, 2015

41 - The darkest night will pass…

“Well, my dear, what do you think of young Seth?” Rian asked as he and his wife strolled through the moon-lit gardens.

“He seems quite charming, and very taken with Kemp.” Pamela replied. “I just wonder…” she worried her bottom lip.

“Wonder what, my dearest?”

“This is twice now that our son has fallen for someone and both times they’ve been vampyres.”

“Perhaps that’s his mother’s side coming out?”

She chuckled. “I’m not quite certain it’s genetic, all things considered.”

“I’m afraid I agree with you, both that it can’t be genetic but more importantly, it somehow goes against his nature, or should.”

“On the other hand, one can’t help who they fall in love with, now can they?” She patted his arm. “At least he had one advantage; he knew what the boys he fell in love with were before it happened.”

“Which is more than you did. Do you ever regret it?”

Pamela shook her head adamantly. “I fell in love with the man before I knew you were more than human. I wouldn’t trade one moment of our life together.”

Rian cupped her face in his hands. “I wish…”

“I know.” She stroked his cheek. “I am considering it now.”

His face lit up. “You are? You truly are? Why didn’t you say something?”

“Because I haven’t made up my mind yet.  But watching the boys together and realizing that poor, sweet Seth won't have to chance to share his entire lifetime with Kemp—because of what Kemp isI understand more than ever how important having someone you love with you always can be.”

Frowning, Rian said, “You never in all our years together realized how I would feel when you died?”

“Of course I did, in my heart. But the mind is a strange place. I could tell myself I never wanted us to be apart—that I never want you to suffer because I’m gone. But the idea of becoming a vampyre…” She shook her head. “It frightens me, Rian. You know that. On so many levels it terrifies me, even though I know it shouldn’t.”

He wrapped her in his arms, just holding her for a long time. Then he said softly, “I promised you, I would never try to influence your decision and I will continue to keep that vow.” He wanted to break his promise. He knew that too soon she could be taken from him, whether by illness or death. But it was indeed her decision to make and she had to do it freely—of her own choice. Otherwise she could come to hate him. He would prefer a thousand times over to loose her to death than to that.

“I know you will,” she replied just as softly before pressing a tender kiss to his lips. “Now, my dear, I think we’d better go rescue our son before that new horse of yours does him a great deal of damage.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

40 - The darkest night will pass…

“You both think that you would never hurt the other but life, as each of you should know by now, has a way of throwing things at you when you least expect it. Things that could change everything, especially in our world.” Rian looked seriously at Kemp and Seth. “They say love conquers all, and in most cases that can be the truth. But not always.” He looked directly at Kemp. “You of all people understand that.”

Kemp winced but nodded in acknowledgement of his words, only saying, “So does Seth.”

Rian tuned his gaze to the young vampyre. “This is true?”

“Yes sir, it is.”

“Very well, then both of you know the odds. Now, if you’re still of a mind to do this, Seth, let us get on with it.” Rian reached for a heavy goblet and the slender knife that lay beside it.

“I am.”

Rian nodded once and then drew the blade of the knife across his wrist, letting the blood flow into the goblet. When there was enough, he sealed the wound before handing the goblet to Seth.

Seth drank slowly, feeling the power of the King’s blood surge through him. Now he understood why Rian had chosen this way to do it. Had he been drinking from the wound itself, he’d have been hard pressed to stop. With the power though, came the desire to do whatever the King bade him to. It wasn’t a feeling that he had to be servile. More that he would obey in order to please Rian. When he had been in Hakim’s thrall there had only been fear. With Rian as his blood Master, there was a deep trust that the vampyre would not ask anything of him that he would be unwilling to do.

“And so it is done,” Rian pronounced once the goblet was empty.

A grin quirked Seth’s lips and he bowed deeply. “Yes …Master. Now your wish is my command.”

Rian rolled his eyes. “Kemp, get him out of here before I take that literally and put him to work cleaning the stables.”

Kemp snorted in amusement. “We might visit them, but not to clean them.”

“Indeed? I heard that you two were headed to the hayloft when my man found you. I would suggest a bed would be much more comfortable.”

“But not nearly as ‘romantic’,” Seth said as he crossed the room to join Kemp.

“Tell me that when you’re pulling hay out of your hair, and other places. Now get, both of you. I have things to do that do not involve two oversexed young men.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

'The Hybrid Stories' is out in print

The Hybrid Stories


Captured and tortured, Brand becomes...unique. He escapes and with Mag's help, he sets out to exact revenge. Soon life becomes complicated when they meet others willing to help them. Will they find his captor, and if so, what then?

What do you do when you find out the man of your dreams may just be a creature out of a nightmare? That's what Ryan must decide when he invites Adrian to be his housemate.

Talbot, a loner--and lonely---hybrid dhampir/werewolf, is asked to help the Enforcers find a turncoat in their midst. Reluctantly agreeing, he meets werewolf Ulrik and things become...interesting, when the team is sent to New Orleans to stop a rogue and catch a traitor.

39 - The darkest night will pass…

“Before we go any further, I need to know that you trust me, Seth.” Rian’s gaze fastened on the young vampyre.

“I trust Kemp, he trusts you and,” Seth locked eyes with Rian, “I know that you can not control him so his trust is real, not forced.”

Rian smiled slowly. “Very well put. Perhaps not entirely true as Kemp is my son, and sons are supposed to trust their parents. However Kemp is strong-willed and would not hesitate to tell you if he doubted in me.”

“I’m quite certain he would.” Seth cast a quick glance at Kemp who was sitting across the room, as Rian had asked.

“Now, you understand the premise of what we’re going to do I presume.”

“In theory when I drink your blood, you become my Master and no one will be able to take control of me except you.”

“There are a very few others who could if they were so inclined, but I doubt they’d find you interesting. They are so old that they have become bored with the world and what goes on in it. It would take something catastrophic to make them sit up and take notice.”

“That includes any other Kings?” Kemp asked.

Rian smiled tightly. “I don't believe they would want to test themselves against me. Besides, if they were going to try, it would be you they went after or one of my favored Children.”

Seth frowned. “They could get to him through me though. That’s why I’m willing to do this in the first place. To keep him safe.”

“Which I find quite admirable. You must care for him quite deeply.”

“As much as he cares for me,” Seth replied, smiling at Kemp.

Rian nodded. “You realize if you choose to do this, my power over you will be such that if you hurt Kemp in any way, I shall be able to retaliate in ways you can not imagine.”

Seth stared at him in outrage. “Is that a threat?”

“No,” Rian replied with a brutal smile, “It is a promise.”   

“Father,” Kemp said in protest, “he wouldn’t.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

38 - The darkest night will pass…

Early the next evening, Kemp took Seth on the grand tour of the manor house and its grounds. By the time they’d finished Seth was visibly impressed.

“You grew up here. Whew. Do you know how to ride?” They were standing outside the stables when Seth asked that.

Kemp admitted somewhat sheepishly that he didn’t. “Horses scared me when I was little, and I left here when I was eighteen, still not trusting it was safe to get up on one. Now if you want to see someone who can ride it would be Leif. But then when he was a kid that’s all they had.”

“I can teach you someday,” Seth said. “If you want that is.”

“Why am I not surprised you know how.”

Seth laughed. “Because you know how old I am?”

Kemp grinned wickedly. “Old enough that you probably know hay has more uses than just feeding the horses.” He took Seth’s hand, leading him around the stable to the stairs leading up to the hayloft.

“Planning on having your wicked way with me?”

“Several times if I can,” Kemp growled huskily, pressing Seth against the rough stone wall, intent on kissing him until his knees buckled.

“Gentlemen.” A tall young vampyre came around the corner. “The Master requests that you join him and his wife for dinner.”

“Fathers—they sure know how to spoil someone’s fun.” Kemp’s growl was louder now, and frustrated.

The vampyre stood there, arms crossed as he waited.

“Guess we either ask him to join us,” Seth said, smirking at the vampyre, “or go in to dinner.”

“I would highly suggest you choose the latter,” the vampyre said firmly. “Master Rian does not like to be kept waiting.”

“He never did,” Kemp grumbled as he wrapped his arm around Seth’s waist.

Seth laughed. “He’s a parent. They expect immediate obedience or else. At least mine did. So, we’ll continue this later.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

37 - The darkest night will pass…

“Holy shit,” Seth said in an awe-filled voice as Rian’s home came into view.

“Yeah, it’s a bit…big,” Kemp admitted.

“I guess. Wow.”

The Tudor manor house was set amid rolling, tree-covered hills in a hidden valley virtually inaccessible except by the narrow lane the limousine was carefully negotiating. The pearl-gray stone buildings, for there were several that made up Rian’s holdings, seemed to glow eerily in the moonlight.

As the limo pulled up the in front of the main house, Rian stepped into view, his arm around the waist of an auburn-haired beauty.

“Your parents I presume,” Seth said, sensing Rian’s power even as he and Kemp exited the car.

The woman hurried down the steps to enfold Kemp in a tight embrace before stepping back to look at him. “You’ve grown up,”

Kemp laughed. “Yes Mother, it happens you know.” Taking Seth’s hand he performed the introductions as his father joined them.

“So this is the young man who needs my help,” Rian said, cutting to the chase as the quartet started up the steps.

“Rian,” his wife said, admonishing him. “Let the boys get settled in before you start interrogating them."

Rian chuckled. “Yes my dear, you’re correct. We have a time enough.”

As they entered the manor house, Seth stopped, gaping at the great hall with its high, beamed ceiling. “It’s like going back to medieval times. I expect to see King Arthur walk in any minute.”

“Wait until you see the rest of the place,” Kemp told him.

“But not yet.” Rian studied Seth and then signaled for one of the young men standing at the back of the hall to come forward. As he introduced him to Seth, Kemp’s mother took her son aside.

“I have a meal ready for you as well, that doesn’t require a donor,” she told him as she led the way into one of the rooms off the main hall. “I suspect you’re starving after your long trip.”

“More than. Father’s plane was sort of lacking in the food department.”

“As always,” she replied with a roll of her eyes. “I always have to remind him to stock up when we travel.”

“That boy Seth’s going to feed from, is he a new ghoul? I don’t remember seeing him before. He’s awfully…pretty.”

“Jealous?” She smiled knowingly. “Not to worry, he’s devoted to Rian and quite, quite straight, which is why your father chose him.”

“I wasn’t jealous,” Kemp told her in denial. “Well, okay, maybe a touch. Things are still new between us, so—yeah.”

“Sweetie, I get jealous and I’ve been married to your father for well over twenty years now.” She nodded toward the table where a meal was laid out and said, “Sit, eat and tell me all about Seth.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Out today - 'Garth's Chronicle'

'Garth's Chronicle'
The final book in the Immortal Angst trilogy. 

When Garth is attacked by his ex lover, his life is saved by a stranger who then vanishes. When they meet again, Garth learns the name of his savior. François. What Garth doesn’t know is that François is a vampire. One who distrusts all but a few humans to the point of hatred. Despite that, they find they are attracted to each other—an attraction that François fights with all that is in him. When Garth finally learns what François is, the question becomes can they overcome their differences or are they fated never to discover that love conquers all?

"Well, well, well, look who I found."
I spun around and froze in fear. Yeah, I'd been careless. After more than two months in the city, I'd let my guard down and taken a shortcut from my local bar back to my apartment. With only one beer in me, I was sober, so I couldn't put it down to being two sheets to the wind. It was just stupidity. After a long day's work, I'd decided to stop for a drink before I headed home. The shortcut was one I often used during the day since it was a quick way to get to the trolley, when I decided to take it instead of biking, like I had today. At night, I avoided it since it ran behind businesses which were closed by six p.m., and it was poorly lit.
Conner smiled tightly from his position at one end of the alley. His hand swung loosely by his side, and despite the darkness I thought I saw the shape of a weapon in it. I turned to flee the other way only to see a second man at the far end of the alley.
"You shouldn't have pried into my affairs, Garth," Conner said coldly, walking toward me. "We had a good thing going until you got nosy."
"If you consider the fact I was hooked up with a member of a drug cartel a 'good thing', I suppose we did."
I stood my ground while I looked around for something to use to defend myself, other than my fists.
"You should have kept your mouth shut instead of passing the information on," he growled softly. "Passing it on, then lying to me when the cops showed up."
"I told you, wasn't me," I replied defiantly.
"You're a lousy liar."
By then, he was only a few feet away, and I could see the heavy iron pipe he held in one hand. I took a fast glance in the other direction and saw his partner, or whatever he was, had also closed in. He held a gun pointed at me.
Conner shook his head. "Let me get my licks in first before you kill him," he said to the man.
I pressed back against the alley wall, thinking I could use it for leverage to get in a few well-placed kicks. Just to make myself feel like I'd tried before he turned me into hamburger, or I got shot. Stupid probably, but it was all I could think of at the time.
"Two on one? Hardly sporting."
The voice seemed to come from the deepest shadows of the alley, and then a man stepped into view. He was of average height and dark-haired from what I could tell at the moment, considering it was dark and I had other things on my mind.
Conner half turned to look at him. "Too bad you decided to stick your nose into this," he spat out. Then he stepped in and swung the iron pipe at the man's midsection.
The man moved swiftly to avoid the hit, and  at the same time, grabbed Conner's other arm. Seconds later, Conner slammed against the wall across from me. A shot rang out, and my rescuer grimaced when a bullet creased his side. It didn't seem to faze him, however. He must have been in hellish good shape because almost before Conner's partner knew what had happened, he too had hit the wall. His gun skittered across the alley pavement to land at my feet. I bent to pick it up, then held it in shaking hands, pointing it at them.
The dark-haired man stepped up to Conner and…

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

36 - The darkest night will pass…

“I can tell you without equivocation you are not under the thrall of any vampyre,” Rikard told Seth.

Seth let out a deep sigh of relief. Rikard had spent what seemed like forever inside his mind looking for any traces of another vampyre’s having put a compulsion on him of any kind.

Kemp’s response was a bit less restrained. He whooped and hugged Seth tightly. “Now that we have that cleared up, we’re good to go.”

“Not so fast Kemp,” Rikard replied. “There’s one more thing that has to be done. I need to make certain no vampyre can control him in the future.”

Both of the young men frowned at his words.

“Exactly how?” Seth asked, afraid he knew, and at not all certain he would be willing.

“You drink my blood, thus acknowledging I am your Master.”

“No way!” Kemp said before Seth could reply. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, Rikard, but damn it hasn’t he been through enough already in that respect with Hakim?”

“Shh, calm down,” Seth said, squeezing Kemp’s arm as he asked Rikard, “If I did, then no other vampyre could reverse it or force me to do their bidding?”

“None weaker than I, no.”

“I see. So in theory at least, none of Hakim’s or Khalid’s Children would be able to use me.”

“In theory, presuming none of them is more powerful than I.”

“I don’t like those odds,” Kemp said. “After all Khalid was Hakim’s Child, and he was able to break the bond between you and Owen. So there are probably others out there like him.”

“Sadly, you’re correct. However it’s the only way I can think of to keep him at least somewhat safe, Kemp.”

“There’s one other way. My father, if he’s willing.”

“That would definitely make Seth invulnerable to all but the most ancient of vampyres.” 

“What about Kemp though?” Seth asked.

“Dhampir here,” Kemp replied with a smile. “No vampyre can control me. It comes with the territory.”

“Well that’s a bummer. I can think of several things I’d like to make you do.” Seth’s eyes gleamed wickedly at he raked them over Kemp.

“Boys, pay attention to the problem at hand,” Rikard ordered. “You’ll have plenty of time for playing later—out of my presence.”

“Yes sir,” they both replied, grinning as they turned their attention back to the old vampyre.

“So the question remains, would you be willing to let a powerful vampyre become your Master, Seth.”

Seth glanced at Kemp again—this time seriously. “Do you think your father would?”

“It can’t hurt to ask. We have a week before Trev leaves for good. He can watch the territory while we go visit my father and see.”

Sunday, April 12, 2015

35 - The darkest night will pass…

“You’re absolutely certain you want to do this?”

Kemp nodded. “Yes, Trev. Positive.”

Trevor glanced at Seth for a long moment. “And you’re sure you can handle it as well?”

“It won’t be easy I know. After all I’ll be going up against my own kind when he needs backup.” Seth clicked his tongue against his teeth and then nodded. “It isn’t as if we’d be going after all of them. It's only the killers. I can handle that.”

“All right, I’ll let the others know, Kemp. I’ll also give you the names of a couple of vampyres I know and trust, just in case. Now about this other thing.” He paced to the window and back before continuing. “Here’s the deal. I’ll rent the house to you for a term of six months, Kemp. At the end of that time if you still want to buy it then it’s yours.”

“May I ask why those terms, sir?” Seth said.

“Because of you.” Trevor pulled up a chair to face Seth, who was sitting on the sofa. “You’ve managed to work your way into our lives, especially Kemp’s. Now I don’t want to be a naysayer but I have to be positive that you’re for real.”

Seth understood. “Because I’m Khalid’s Child.”

“Exactly. I don’t want Kemp to feel tied to this place if something happens between the two of you, or because of you.”

“I won’t betray him,” Seth said adamantly.

“I’m certain you believe that, but you have no defenses against other, stronger vampyres. Especially those who are Khalid’s or Hakim’s Children. Should they decide to seek vengeance for their Sires' deaths, you would be the obvious tool.” He slid his chair back far enough so he could look at Kemp as well as Seth. “I know that neither of you believe Seth is now, or ever could be, forced into another vampyre’s thrall. But believe me when I say it’s possible it could happen without either of you being aware.”

Kemp rubbed his forehead as he thought about that, then reached for Seth’s hand. “I’m willing to trust in him, and my feelings, even though I understand what you’re saying, Trev. We can wait out the six months easily, and you better believe, when they’re over we are buying the house.”

“I hope that’s the personal and not the royal ‘we’,” Seth said, trying to lighten the tension.

“It’s we as in you and me, smart ass,” Kemp grumbled in reply.

“Good.” Seth gave him a hug before looking back at Trevor, a worried frown on his face. “I don’t think you’re right about my possibly being in the thrall of any of them. But if it’s true, could Rikard tell and do something about it?”

“An interesting question, for which I don’t have an answer. I suggest you talk to him very soon and find out—for your sake and for Kemp’s.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cover reveal: Art Theft 101

Coming May 10th from JMS Books
Very unofficial blurb:
Vampire, Philip Archer, and his team of art thieves—black panther shifter Duff, ghost Rob, and Duff's human girlfriend Liddy—are asked by Ian Croft, a potential client, to break with tradition and rescue a kidnapped child. When they agree to help Ian, Philip finds that he is interested in the man on a very personal level and believes the interest is returned in kind. In the process of saving the child, Philip finds it's not the love he has been longing for—but betrayal. Can Philip learn to trust again when he meets Ephram, a Fledgling vampire who has been cast adrift by his Sire? Or will he once more be betrayed?

Friday, April 10, 2015

'Revenge' is out today!


When Jared's brother Danny is murdered, Jared is the only suspect. The reason? While the murder happens, he's in the hands of unknown kidnappers. Since the police don't believe his alibi and he has no proof it happened, he goes on the run. When he meets Lang, an ex-cop, the man offers to help Jared find both the reason for Danny's murder and the men who committed it.
They discover that Danny had apparently been blackmailing some very prominent people, three of whom become prime suspects in his death. But is he indeed the blackmailer or is there a second party involved?
With the help of Lang's computer whiz sister, the two men set out to discover the answers while dealing with their growing attraction to each other. The question becomes, will they survive long enough to act on their feelings, or will they become the killers' next victims?


"Why are you doing this?" Jared waited for a reply, trying to figure out where his captor was. He could hear breathing and quiet footsteps. That was all. As if whoever is holding me captive is circling around me.

His kidnaper hadn't said a word from the moment he'd jumped in the car when Jared pulled into the lot at the convenience store. The man's gun had spoken for him--the gun and his free hand pointing to the exit from the lot. He had been wearing black clothing and a ski mask. Jared supposed he still was, although he had no way to prove it since he was now blindfolded.

The man had used hand signals to let Jared know which way to go. Jared had barely been able to drive, he was shaking so badly. He was certain he was going to end up dead in some alley--if he didn't crash the car first--and he didn't even know why. "If you want my car, take it," he'd said, his words jagged with fear. All he got for a reply was the man indicating he should turn right.

They ended up in a dark lot behind what looked like a soon-to-be demolished big box store. There was one other car there and when Jared pulled to a stop next to it as his captor indicated, a man got out. He was big, much bigger than the first man, dressed identically to him, and he also held a gun.

Jared had been forced to get into the backseat of the second car, his captor sliding in next to him then pressing the gun against his side. For a wild second, Jared thought about resisting. Then the other man got in on Jared's other side long enough to blindfold him tightly. That was the first time Jared had asked, "Why are you doing this?" Neither man replied. The car door closed again and seconds later Jared heard the driver's door open and close. Then they were moving.

The ride seemed interminable and too short at the same time, the result, he knew, of his fear about where they were taking him--and why. Eventually the car came to a stop. The man in the backseat with him used the gun to urge him to get out. As soon as he had, one of the men grabbed his wrists to cuff them behind his back with… All he could think they might be were the padded leather bondage cuffs he'd happened across online one time.

Why the hell am I remembering them? It's not like they're planning on playing some S&M games with me. At least I hope like hell they're not. His fear grew even deeper with that idea.

The men carefully led Jared, blindfolded and restrained, step by step, as if they didn't want him to fall and hurt himself. The sound of a door opening told him they were taking him inside--somewhere. When it closed behind them, they steered Jared forward then brought him to a standstill. One of his captors turned him, forced him to walk backward a few steps then released one of Jared's wrists long enough to pull his arms around what felt like a square metal pole before closing the cuff around his wrist again.

After that, Jared heard the door open and shut and for a panicked moment he thought they were leaving him there to starve to death. Get a grip, he admonished himself. If they wanted me dead, they'd have shot me and gotten it over with. They need me for something. But what?

The sounds of breathing and movement told him he wasn't alone and again he asked, "Why are you doing this to me?" There was no reply. "What do you want?" Silence. Breathing. Footsteps.

Time passed. He didn't know how much. He moved his legs, trying to ease the ache in his knees from standing. Finally, he slid down until he was sitting on the floor. He realized suddenly the room was totally silent. Has the second man left too? When? Fear swelled again, worse than before--then hope. If he was alone, perhaps he could find a way to get free. He tested the restraints. Tugged, pulled, and tried to see if he could manage to get one hand free. To his dismay, it felt as if they were tightening. Next he tried to scrape the blindfold off by rubbing the back of his head against the pole. It was too smooth to make that happen.

Finally, defeated, he slumped forward, resting his forehead on his bent knees, and realized maybe he could get the blindfold off that way. He tried. It moved. Then he cried out in fear when someone grabbed his shoulders, pulling him upright. The person removed Jared's blindfold, but only long enough to put it back again, tighter than it had been before. In the brief seconds it was off, he saw light and blue metal racks filled with crates. I'm in a warehouse of some sort.

Time seemed endless. Whoever was with him in the warehouse became totally silent now after retying the blindfold. Jared found he was dozing off, starting awake seconds or minutes later, only the doze again. Hiding, he supposed--his mind hiding to escape the fear.
Suddenly, he heard solid footsteps. His hands were uncuffed just long enough for his captor, his kidnapper, to pull him to his feet then he was restrained again--this time with his hands in front of him--and marched forward. A door opened, closed behind them moments later, and soon they eased him into a car.

Now I die? His whole body began to shake. He gripped his hands together, trying to still himself. If I die, I'll never know why they killed me.