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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interview and Giveaway: Finding Midnight: A Hellhound Tail by T. Lynne Tolles


Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

Finding Midnight is about A young woman finds a hellhound pup and takes it in since it’s mother is found dead. Craziness ensues with raising a hellhound while she tries to find a missing item for her landlord.

Are you a mom?

I am. My daughter is 18 now and my son is 26. And then there are the hairy children. I have three cats and up until very recently a Newfoundland dog.

If yes do you find it hard to juggle writing and parenting?

It’s very hard to juggle writing and LIFE. My kids are forming their own lives and only one of them lives at home now, but LIFE in general tends to get in the way – or maybe I’m just not as disciplined as I could be.

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

I’d say if there is a theme to my writing it’s that no matter who or what you are, we all have the same instincts. We just want to be accepted and loved. My supernatural characters are rarely diabolical, which I supposed disappoints some readers, but I like writing about those amazing souls that despite what they are on the outside are loving and caring beings.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I hated writing and reading in school. It wasn’t until I got out of school that I read for pleasure.

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

I have more hobbies than I can count. If it’s crafty I’ve probably done it or at least tried it. Sewing and knitting are my fall backs, but I’ve done stained glass, lace work, crocheting, quilting, painting, sketching, and baking.

Which romance book or series do you wish you had written?

The Vampire Diaries – Love L.J. Smith and was so thrilled to see two of her series made into TV shows.

Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

I’m attempting to write a steampunk book. We’ll see how that goes. : D

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

In Finding Midnight, I think probably Summer’s quirky side-kick Tori. I think she’s a kick in the pants and she’s so willing to try anything. I’m probably more like Summer where I’m a bit timid about jumping into something new and tend to be more introverted.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?


Well it hasn’t been written yet, but it is tentatively called Autumn Calls and it delves deeper into the Midnight family and the secrets they keep.

Finding Midnight: A Hellhound Tail
Book 1
T. Lynne Tolles

Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Troll Publishing       

Date of Publication: August 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9829876-7-4
ASIN:

Cover Artist: Jennifer Meyer

Book Description:

Life raising a hellhound is no easy task. Unforeseen problems can and will arise at every turn.  If things weren't crazy enough juggling a job, a blind dating a vampire and being stalked by a demon, then life in Paradise is about to get a whole lot worse for Summer when her landlord demands she unearth the RAT or the BROOM will have her head.

What does that even mean? Is the landlord insane? Summer's best friend Tori thinks so.  Top it off with a visit from a fallen angel, a dragon, and Summer's got herself a whopper of a mystery to solve.


Available at   iTunes   BN   Amazon   Createspace   ARe

About the Author:

T. Lynne Tolles can be found most days, juggling one of two cat muses and a laptop, tripping over an ancient Newfoundland dog and washing a never-ending pile of laundry. When life doesn’t get in the way, she writes paranormal romances for new adults.

Her passion for witches, ghosts, and vampires together with a light-hearted wit are reflected in her loveable characters and the adventures of mystery they unravel to find their happily ever after.










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August 11 Spotlight and review
Crazy Four Books

August 11 Spotlight
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August 12 Spotlight and review
Once Upon a YA Book

August 13 Spotlight
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August 13 review
The Tome Gnome

August 14 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  

August 15 Interview
Booklover Sue 

August 15 Spotlight and review
Musings of the Book-a-holic Fairies

August 18 Spotlight
CBY Book Club

August 19 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books

August 20 Review
Mythical Books

August 21 Spotlight
Angel’s Guilty Pleasures

August 21 Spotlight
Black Lilac Kitty

August 22 Review
Brooke Blogs

August 25 Spotlight
Cassandra M's Place 

August 26 Spotlight
Roxanne’s Realm

August 27 Interview
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

August 28 Interview and review
happy tails and tales 

August 29 Guest blog
A Night’s Dream of Books

September 1 Guest Blog
Fang-tastic Books

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Chris Podhola



Twinfinity: Nethermore
Volume 1
Chris Podhola

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal,Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication: May 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499625035
ASIN: B00KGZ41CM

Number of pages: 411
Word Count: 107,000

Cover Artist: Llpix.com

Book Description:

Whitney Leighton has a secret.  She is both blind and deaf but that’s not what she’s trying to keep hidden.  Her secret is that she can both see and hear through her twin brother Tommy.  They call it piggybacking because she can shift her consciousness into her brother’s mind.

Whitney’s not the only one with a secret; Tommy has one too and it’s Whitney that he’s keeping it from.  His secret is that Whitney isn’t who she’s supposed to be.  He has dreams of her, but in his dreams she has tattoos, battle-scars on her face, and a formidable look of determination.  If Tommy’s dreams come true then Whitney is in serious trouble and so is everyone else.  The simple Whitney that is, doesn’t stand a chance against the evil that exists in his sleep, and the world will be thrust into chaos.

The teen twins end up at Camp Tumbling Waters and Lake Amicolola where something is waiting for them.  Something as dark as Whitney’s vision and as insane as Tommy’s dreams and IT needs Whitney to escape the prison that IT calls … Nethermore.


Available at Amazon

Excerpt:

This excerpt is from Chapter 10 of Twinfinity: Nethermore.  In it the main character, the blind and deaf Whitney Leighton, is preparing to make a physical statement to her summer camp peers.  They are all gathered at the obstacle course located in Camp Tumbling Waters and the group is divided.  Half of the campers blame her for the recent troubles in the camp, and the other half believe that she is the solution to those problems.  Whitney knows that she needs to prove a point to all of them in order to unite them.


Whitney had been a little surprised by how clearly her course could be directed through her imagination and memory.  Every step, and every move had been based on what she remembered from when she was piggy-backed with Kat, but she had been able to lay everything out in her mind with near perfect clarity.
She had been sitting on the bench brooding over her conversation with Kat.  She was mad all right, but little Mike had changed her mood.  She couldn’t see the fear in his face, and she couldn’t hear if he had said anything, but she had seen his shadow approach the wall and she had waited with anticipation for his shadow to ascend into the air.  She might not be able to see it with her eyes, but she would have still felt pride for him as he succeeded.  She could see that climbing it was important to him, and Kat had insinuated that it was so important that he had spent a year trying to get himself ready for it.  His body appeared to be weak and frail and Whitney had searched Kat’s mind for an explanation for that.
He had an accident when he was younger--a tragic accident that had broken many bones and left him in a wheel chair for years.  He was just getting to the point that he could walk again.  And, according to Kat’s memories on the subject, climbing that wall was his motivation—his driving force.  It was the thing that he talked about last year that inspired him to work so hard in his recovery.  He wanted to do it, but he was afraid.
Like she was afraid.
He backed off and someone else was approaching the wall in his place.  She didn’t want to sense someone else climbing the wall.  She wanted to sense him doing it, and she didn’t think it was right for everyone else to just shrug it off.
When she first got up from the bench and started walking toward the group her intention was to find a way to convince Mike to make his climb.  She was only vaguely aware of the clarity with which she could visualize her course.  She could see every clump of dirt, every stone that could make her stumble, and she could even remember seeing a Twix candy bar wrapper as she walked by it.
Her mind was more focused on how to convince Mike to make his climb.  By the time she got there she had figured it out.  She would lead by example.
It was after Kam had put the safety harness onto her and attached the safety line onto the clip on the back when she knew she had to take it off.  It was doing its job.  It was making her feel safe.  There was no danger.  The spotters were trained to make sure that she wouldn’t be injured if she slipped.  It was crazy, but she didn’t want to feel safe.  She wanted every handhold and every foothold to be risky and she wanted to feel the danger of it. 
Most of all she wanted to rely on others to catch her if she did fall.
She had been playing it safe all of her life and for once she wanted to leave safety behind her.  She had never let herself rely on anyone but Tommy—who she depended on vigorously for help in almost everything and she was done with that too.
She had chosen the members of her net the way she did because she wanted to show everyone that she trusted them even if they didn’t really trust her.  She didn’t just want to convince Mike to make the climb.  She also wanted to find a way to bring the group back together again.  She had divided everyone, and so she’d have to be the one to link them back together again.
She was a couple of levels off of the ground when the idea of the teambuilding element began to form in her mind.  The concept was simple enough.  You had to trust in the members of the team to catch you if you fell backward into them.  That teambuilding element was about a three foot drop into the arms of your team.  What if someone did it from the top of the climbing wall?  It was a scary idea, but if that didn’t make an impact on the crowd than nothing would.
Whitney ascended the wall.  Despite her nearly perfect memory of every hand and foothold her fear was a very tangible and real thing.  Slipping off and falling was still extremely dangerous even with the group below her because she might not be able to control how she landed and a broken leg or arm or even both was a probability.
She reached up and grabbed the next handhold, brought her leg up, and hauled herself up another level.  She had made it halfway up and she could feel her nervousness increase with her height.  She was about fifteen feet off of the ground, and her limbs began to betray her.  She was getting tired and her muscles were beginning to tremble despite her desire to remain steady and calm.  She was no athlete and it was beginning to show.
This was stupid she thought to herself.
If she fell from that distance and they didn’t catch her she may or may not break a limb.
Just do it now her mind begged.
And she knew she could.  She could steady herself, lean back, and fall into the arms of her safety net.  She could do that safely and no harm would come to her.  Her point would even be made pretty clearly.
But wasn’t Erik’s speech, as corny and predictable as it was, about just that?  Wasn’t it about pushing past your fears even though they sometimes seemed like an impenetrable wall?
She could make her leap from that point but if she did wasn’t she still relatively safe?  If so then was she really making her point?  Wasn’t her point to go beyond safety and to leap when the outcome wasn’t predictable?
She reached up for the next grip-hold and brought herself up to it.  Her nerves began to betray her even more.  She had never been this tired before in her life.  She had already exerted herself beyond exhaustion and she knew, from that very moment, that she needed to start training her body for more endurance.  She was never again going to let herself tire out this easily.  So much for being lazy, because she knew that those days had to be over.
She was three quarters of the way up but her muscles were aching and she was losing her breath.  On top of that she wasn’t sure if making it to the top was even going to be possible.  No matter how bad she wanted to get there.
She sucked in a deep breath, gathered her determination, and made two more handholds in quick succession.  Her fingers began to throb and go numb.  Her leg muscles were screaming at her to stop and her arms felt like rubber bands stretched out to their maximum.
The only good thing was that she only had three levels to go.



About the Author:

The author is a 43 year-old United States Air Force veteran of the first Iraq War.  This is his debut novel in the Twinfinity urban fantasy series.  He was born and raised in south-eastern Michigan and served his country in California, Germany, and Turkey. 





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Monday, August 25, 2014

Love Legends: A Fantasy Romance Boxed Set


August 18 Mythical Books

August 19 Deal Sharing Aunt

August 20 Roxanne’s Realm

August 21 Books & Tales

August 22 Corazones Literario 

August 25 Sister Sinister Speaks (review)

August 25 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

August 26 Urban Girl Reader (review)

August 27 Sapphyria's Book Reviews

August 27 Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock (review)

August 28 Fang-tastic Books

August 29 Illuminite Caliginosus

August 29 Butterfly-o-Meter Books

September 1 Share My Destiny

September 1 Cover Reveals 








Love Legends
A Fantasy Romance Boxed Set 
Jaide Fox, D.X. Luc, Skhye Moncrief,
Sky Purington and Alisha Paige

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Date of Publication:   July 7, 2014

ASIN:  B00LMMBRS4

Number of pages:  805
Word Count: 397K

Formats available: PDF

Cover Artist:  Skhye Moncrief

Book Description:

Steal the keys to five realms with these five fantasy romances for a mere $.99 with this bundle simply bursting with love, lust, and power games. From witches and werewolves to Greek mythology and even Scottish magic, these tales offer an eclectic mix sure to stoke your summer's heat into a solar storm! So, summon your inner warrior princess and ready your charms. Prepare for the battle of the sexes and wizards with hexes, because the only way to defy all evil is to fall in love...and maybe invoke a god!

His Forbidden Fruit by Jaide Fox

First she would become his captive...then he would capture her heart....With his lands cursed to wither and die, a desperate Lord Dominic Rainier learns from a witch that the only way to save his people is to capture the lovely Lady Lilith Somerset … and impregnate her before the next full moon….

Touch of the Gods by D.X. Luc

When Love and War make a wager, what could possibly go wrong? Hephaestus has lived a life of harsh abuse. The lame god knows heartbreak and doesn't believe love is in the stars for him. Little does he know, Eros and Ares puts his love life to the test and leads him to the full bodied, mortal Vanessa. Does he take a chance to open up or continue to believe he's destined to suffer for eternity?

Swordsong by Skhye Moncrief

He's arrived to help her create the perfect bride. His ticket home relies on a lonely woman haunted by more than apparitions. If time-travel duty, romance, and a bit of magic don't help them realize their destiny resonates in mysterious fairy SWORDSONG, all known history could change.

Sylvan Mist by Sky Purington

Coira refuses to acknowledge the Scotsman haunting her.Why should she? She carries no magic and is newly engaged. Though well aware of the mysterious tie between the medieval MacLomains and her Broun heritage, she prefers a proper English gentleman to a barbarian living six hundred years in the past. However, as one whirlwind day will prove, she has little choice in the matter.

Circle City, Lord of the Wolfen by Alisha Paige

Axl Wolfdorn is coming of age, ready for his Unleashing and on the hunt for his Moonswan, the female he will choose for the Chase and the royal Feral Consummation. But how can he consider bonding with a mate when the only scent deep within his nose is the tangy scent of the woman he must now kill to avenge his mother's death?

Available at Amazon   BN   Kobo


Coming soon to iTunes, Book Foundry and Scribd

Connect with the Authors:

Alisha Paige- www.alishapaige.com

Skhye Moncrief- www.skhyemoncrief.com

Sky Purington- www.skypurington.com


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Guest Blog Bayou Blues by M. M. Shelley




As I started working on my series A New Orleans Mystery series I knew that I’d combine the story with Martial Arts. I have been studying Tai Shing Pek Kwar for almost eight years and before that I’ve studied San Soo Kung Fu. My first day of class, I knew absolutely nothing about fighting; I didn’t even know how to make a proper fist, I was awful! I did a lot of falling that day, the one good thing was that at least I learned the proper way to land without hurting myself. There is a technique to it, you see, if you are pushed and knocked down you’d thrust your arms out and keep your head up and try to relax as you fall. By having your arms extended out you slap your palms against the ground thereby preventing your head from knocking into the ground.

Spending so many years around Martial Artist I discovered that the really great ones are the most humble. In fact you wouldn’t know they were grandmasters or masters, as they present such a demeanor you’d think they knew nothing of Martial Arts, but the moment you’d see them move you’d know that they have spent years training and dedicating themselves to their art. If you were to watch them do a demo you would see that their movements would be made with such ease and with such precision that you’d stand in awe.  

I have had two Kung Fu teachers, the first one was Richard Ramirez who I learned San Soo, in La Puente, California. He’s now retired. And Tai Shing Pek Kwar from Grandmaster Jim Muse Furtado, in Whittier, California. These are two very unique styles and I have used them both in scenes for both Murder on Mars and Bayou Blues. In fact I plan to use them in all four books in this series. 



Thank you so much for hosting me on this tour for Bayou Blues A New Orleans Mystery!




Bayou Blues
A New Orleans Mystery
Book Two
M. M. Shelley

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Urban

Date of Publication: June 2014

ISBN: 978-1500255053 /
ISBN: 150025505X
ASIN: B00L7YLU0W

Number of pages: 322
Word Count: 52,500

Cover Artist: Michelle Marquez

Available at Smashwords and Amazon  

Book Description:

Sixteen year old orphan, Ava Lopez, has returned to New Orleans, Louisiana, just as a dark entity has taken residence in the bayou.

Not only does Ava have to discover who or what is taking its victims from the Quarter, and leaving their remains in the Bayou. She will also have to maneuver her way around a new school and deal with a new bodyguard.

Ava will have to uncover the mystery before she becomes its next victim.


Excerpt: Prologue

It had been at least three years since he had left New Orleans, Louisiana and Auguste Cheval still wasn’t sure if he had made the right decision in returning. It didn’t feel right, yet he no longer had the option to stay away. His father had skipped out on him again leaving him no choice but to live with his uncle Prosper Cheval.
Uncle Prosper was absolutely crazy. He refused to live in town preferring instead to live out in the Bayou. Auguste had to make the long trek from town to his uncle’s shack each and every day, to and from his high school. Auguste attended Ben Franklin, in part thanks to his social worker, who for some reason or another seemed focused on making sure he stayed the course. His social worker Phillips believed that Auguste had the grades and the drive to excel at school; a school where nearly everyone excelled at one thing or another.
The only issue Auguste had was that a normal life could never be in the cards for him, but he wasn’t about to tell his social worker Phillips just why that was. How could he even begin to explain it?
As Auguste headed deeper into the Bayou he ventured down a narrow pathway that was nearly completely covered over with knee high marshway cordgrass. Auguste had taken the long way home as he was in no hurry to return. His uncle Prosper probably wouldn’t be there, more than likely he was out checking on his traps.
A slight sound came from his left. Something heavy was pushing through the marshway cordgrass, but Auguste couldn’t see what it was. So he waited. He didn’t want to move any further until he could see it clearly. In the light of the fading sun, Auguste held his breath as he waited to identify what moved in the cordgrass. In spite of the fact that the sun had reached the horizon, the air remained hot and humid enough to cause his clothes to stick to his body.
A man in his early forties rolled out of the cordgrass falling right in Auguste’s pathway. The man rolled until he was on his hands and knees, he lifted his head high up in the air, his chin tilted skyward and his eyes closed. He smelled the dry stillness in the air. His eyes opened and he quickly shifted toward Auguste. His eyes locked in on Auguste and his head made a rather sharp movement almost like a wolf finding the scent of his prey.
As the man’s eyes focused sharply on Auguste, a deep low growl escaped his throat. The eerie sound was so disturbing that it caused Auguste to feel ill. As the man leaned onto his back legs ready to pounce on Auguste, a wolf jumped out of the marshway cordgrass and latched onto the man’s throat, dragging him onto the ground and ripping at his flesh.
He tried to fight back, sinking his teeth into the wolf’s coat, but to no avail as the wolf tore fiercely away at him. The man screamed out in pain against the assault. Sudden silence signaled that the man had given up the fight. His body grew limp as his life began to ebb, leaving him unable to endure anymore.
The wolf turned and shifted toward Auguste, it took a step towards him with a giant paw. The wolf had an unearthly presence as its paws were large and sunk into the earth with each heavy step. Its head was slightly larger than the rest of the body giving it a disproportionate appearance. The wolf’s green eyes looked like they had seen centuries of war and chaos and were filled with a sadness that tore at Auguste’s heart. In spite of his feelings, Auguste found the hint of darkness lurking beneath the wolf’s demeanor disturbing. It was a darkness that wouldn’t think twice about attacking Auguste and harming him, just as it had killed the man without hesitation.
 Auguste held out his arm as if to prevent it from coming any closer. As he did so, the fading sunlight illuminated the scar that ran from the outside of Auguste’s elbow to the inside of his middle forearm. The wolf sniffed at him before taking another step; then, as quickly as it had appeared, it turned and ran back into the cordgrass leaving behind the lifeless body of the man it had just killed for sport.




About the Author:

M.M. Shelley is a storyteller, wordsmith and dreamer. She has traveled the world extensively in search of the magic which is often overlooked in everyday life. M.M. Shelley is a native of southern California, and a student of mythology from which she gets much inspiration.







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August 11 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books

August 11 Spotlight
fundinmental

August 12 Interview and review
Wonderland Reviews 

August 12 Spotlight
Mila Ramos

August 13 Interview
The Word at My Fingertips 

August 13 review
Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock

August 14 Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy &, Sissy Too!  http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com

August 15 Spotlight
Deal Sharing Aunt

August 18 Guest blog
http://momwithakindle.blogspot.com/

August 18 Spotlight
FictionZeal.com  
http://www.fictionzeal.com

August 19 Spotlight
Roxanne’s Realm

August 20 Guest Post 
Mythical Books

August 21 Spotlight
Books Direct

August 22 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books

August 25 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

Spotlight on Forever and a Day by Ann Gimpel





Forever and a Day
The Company Store
Book 2
Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Taliesin
ISBN:  978-1-62916-065-8
Release Date: 7/3/14

Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 50,000 words

Espionage operations and runaway love travel halfway around the globe as Tamara and Lars stay one step ahead of death. Tension heats to boiling, but it’s not half as hot as the attraction licking at their heels.

Book Description:

Tamara MacBride has a much bigger problem than hiding her shifter side from the world. By the skin of her teeth, and with a smattering of Irish luck, she manages to kill her sister’s murderer. Escaping from the scene of the crime is proving much harder than she anticipated. Just when she thinks she might be safe, her cab driver shrieks and slumps over the wheel. She cowers in the back seat, too scared to run, expecting the next bullet will be for her.

An unknown assailant terminates Lars Kinsvogel’s target. Pleased by the outcome, after all dead is dead, Lars exchanges the glitz of Monto Carlo for a nearby airport intent on collecting the private plane he left there. He’s no sooner arrived when a cab jumps the curb. His instincts blare a warning, but Lars ignores them and trots over to investigate. There’s not much he can do for the cabbie, but his passenger is still very much alive—and absolutely stunning. It takes some tall talking, but she agrees to come with him.

Espionage operations and runaway love travel halfway around the globe as Tamara learns to accept her shifter side, and Lars embraces what’s been missing from his long life. Initially reticent to trust one another, it takes a series of crises and a near-fatal accident for them to take a chance on love—and each other.

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/pYbEHtRor20

Excerpt:
Lars Kinsvogel sucked in an annoyed breath. Anxiety and greed thickened the air in Monte Carlo’s Place de Casino, and he stifled a choking sound. Damn his hypersensitive shifter senses. If it weren’t for them, the desperation hovering around him wouldn’t be quite so palpable. Casinos were always like this, though, a haven for the rash and reckless. What had likely begun as a harmless pastime turned into hardcore addiction for an unfortunate few, forcing them to return again and again despite diminishing returns.
Hope springs eternal. All the poor sods need is one more spin of the wheel, another hand of cards… Lars looked up, right into the croupier’s beady gaze.
“Would monsieur like to place a bet?” The croupier grinned with all the warmth of a hammerhead shark, displaying a mouthful of bad teeth. What was it with the French and their aversion to dentistry? Lars shook his head and made shooing motions with one hand. He’d have to either join the baccarat game soon, or move on, but he could get away with loitering for a few more minutes without drawing undue attention to himself.
His target, a powerfully built man with Asian features revealing his half-Chinese ancestry, had an arm slung around a striking brunette. Maybe she was one of the hookers who worked the casino circuit, maybe she was a steady thing for the man. Lars considered it and decided she could be both. Around five feet eight, she had a lush, curvy body, hair cut into a stylish bob that fell a few inches past her shoulders, and memorable eyes the color of a restless ocean. A short, black sheath hugged her like a second skin. Open nearly to her waist, it displayed half her full breasts. Even though Lars’ appraisal was surreptitious, he forced his gaze elsewhere. The woman was sex incarnate, and he didn’t need anything diverting him from his objective.
Jaret Chen pressed chips into his companion’s hand and urged her to pick a number. He gave one of her breasts a familiar squeeze, which earned him a smile, perfectly rouged lips stretching over impossibly straight teeth—and a slight shake of her head. Color stained her tanned skin. Lars realized he was looking at the woman again, wondering how her breasts would feel beneath his fingers. She seemed uncomfortable with Jaret’s frank exploration of her body, so she probably wasn’t a pro. For some unexplained reason, Lars felt relieved. The woman was too elegant to earn her living lying on her back.
He snorted to himself and studied the flashing display above the baccarat table. Maybe the woman wasn’t French. That might explain her perfect teeth—and her discomfort with having her body mauled in public. At least she held Jaret’s attention. So far the drug dealer hadn’t spared him so much as a sidelong glance. Lars had never met the man, but knew a great deal about him from an extensive dossier provided by The Company, Lars’ international security employer. Deeply involved in the heroin trade from the Middle East, across the Mediterranean, and into Europe, Jaret was one of the principals in a large operation—and Lars’ current project.
He sized the man up. Maybe six feet, he had a barrel chest. Strongly muscled arms strained against the fabric of his cream-colored silk dress shirt. His art deco tie had been loosened. Dark eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and straight dark hair cut short blended with his business attire. For all intents and purposes, he was indistinguishable from the phalanx of wealthy—and wannabe wealthy—men circulating through the casino. Lars glanced at his own cream-colored silk shirt and black linen pants. With the exception that his tie was still firmly knotted, he and Jaret were dressed as twins.
Guess neither of us wanted to stick out in anyone’s memory.
Lars glanced at his Rolex. Close to midnight and time to move on. He’d seen enough. Now it was a matter of figuring out where and when to strike. These things always went more smoothly when they were nearly invisible. He melted into the crowd and made his way outside. The casino fronted the French Riviera; Lars stood looking out at the Mediterranean for long moments. The water was quiet tonight, waves barely slapping the white sand beach. His cell phone, set on silent, vibrated against his hip, and he tugged it from a pocket to look at the display.
Private. Damn! Could be anyone.
Lars punched the answer icon, held the phone to his ear, and waited. No need to say anything until he knew who was on the other end.
“Are you somewhere you can talk?” Lars inhaled sharply as Garen LeRochefort’s voice came through the phone’s speaker. Another shifter, Garen had founded The Company hundreds of years ago. The mechanics of the spy game had changed drastically between the late seventeen hundreds and modern times, but the basics—kill or be killed—hadn’t altered much. Everyone who worked for The Company was some type of shifter. Lars’ animal form was a mountain lion, Garen’s a wolf.
Lars loped farther down the beach until he cleared several couples engaged in deep, hungry kisses. “What has happened?” Something must have, or Garen wouldn’t have risked contact.
“You need to leave.”
“But I have not—”
“Doesn’t matter,” Garen cut in. “I’ll explain when you’re back in the office on a fully scrambled line.”
Lars thought about his twin engine Piper Seneca waiting at the Nice airport, fifteen miles from Monte Carlo. It gave him freedom to come and go, and was much cheaper to operate than the business class jets he also owned. “Maybe I could still—”
“No!” The one word thundered so loud, Lars moved the phone away from his ear. “Don’t even go back to your room.” Garen hesitated. “Old friend. Trust me on this.” The line went dead.
Lars stared at the iPhone’s display and dropped the cellular device back into his pocket. He’d been compromised. He wasn’t certain quite how, and a part of him was curious as hell. He kept walking, swinging in a wide circle to head back toward the Hotel de Paris. Garen had said not to return to his room, but if he were careful, maybe he could learn something critical that would help their side.
“Ja, forewarned is forearmed,” he muttered. Keycard in hand, he let himself into a side door of the rambling old structure, got his bearings, and started cautiously up a stairwell. His suite was on the second floor, at the very end of the wing facing the Mediterranean. He’d always loved the old hotel with its thick, patterned carpets and antique lighting and furnishings. Staying next to the walls, he used a bit of shifter magic to cast a don’t look here spell. It wouldn’t keep someone determined from seeing him, but it didn’t require much magic, either.
He entered the second floor a few doors from his own and scanned the empty hallway, his senses on high alert. Midnight was early in Monte Carlo, a city where people frequently stayed up through dawn and slept the day away, so he fully expected to see other guests, but the hall was mercifully empty. He padded silently toward his door and examined it, wishing he’d set a trap. He inhaled, trying to sort scents, but there were too many to make sense of. He could leave, just walk away like Garen had almost ordered him to, but Lars had never been a coward, and he was more intrigued than frightened. He’d spent years worming his way out of dicey situations. This was just one more, and he was damned if he’d walk away from his things. Not unless he had to.
He took a deep breath, tugged his guaranteed-not-to-set-off-metal-detectors .32 caliber revolver from its ankle holster, and shoved the key card into the slot in the door. A tiny electric motor hummed and the deadbolt snicked out of the way. He turned the latch, kicked the door open, and turned from side to side scanning the sitting room of his suite, gun at the ready. Lars waited in the doorway, barely breathing, and then he heard a muted click, followed by an unmistakable whirr, and knew.
A bomb.
He cursed in German, not knowing if he was more annoyed with the turn of events or with himself for not taking Garen’s advice and getting the hell out of there.


About the Author:

Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent.  Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing.  A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 20 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.





@AnnGimpel