Snippet Saturday – I need a hero!

Every story needs a hero that makes us wish we could escape to his world for a little while, whether it’s to lay on a beach and stare at his hotness or just gawk at how thoroughly he takes care of his woman. I personally love alpha males who appreciate how awesome their relationship is even when things aren’t going all that great. Well, to whet your whistle here’s a bit of a look into the heroes (yes, ladies, it’s a menage) who are giving our heroine a run for her money.

Enjoy this Snippet from Seeker’s Solace, Vampire Council of Ethics Book 4 coming from Samhain Publishing. Read ’em and weep *evil grin*. Afterward visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post. Tally ho!

Unedited Excerpt from
Seeker’s Solace (a menage-a-trois)
Vampire Council of Ethics Book 4
by TJ Michaels
Copyright 2013 – All Rights Reserved
Shale, who sat at a small table eating some kind of pastry with strawberries and a creamy looking filling in it, looked up and said, “I brought some extra shots for sun and silver allergies and some blood suppressant, but it’s formulated specially for me. If there’s something we need in that arena, I can call ahead to the Clan Li medical facility and see if they can put some of the generic stuff aside for us.”

Slade was perfectly still but his mind tilted a hard left. Only Dr. Carin and those she designated could request special prescription fulfillment, and that was an exclusive list. And Shale was on it? He’d had no idea that Shale rolled like that. Interesting.

“No,” said Slade. “These boys are experienced enough to know the cost of half-assing.” Sometimes Seekers got complacent. It was a good way to end up severely burned or dead, so let them stew for a bit. Later he would ask Shale to cover their shortcomings in private. “You two hurry up and get out of here. I need to talk to the Ambassador.”

They grabbed a few more snacks, packed up quickly and left still squabbling like two old hens. Everything was normal with the exception of the current tilt-o-whirl going on in his head.

Never one to beat around the bush, Slade simply asked what he wanted to know. “So are you and Jovon together?”

Shale stopped mid-chew, raised a brow at Slade and put his fork down. “Are we what?” Wiping his mouth on a crisp linen napkin, he then set it back in his lap and waited.

But in spite of his appearance, Shale was far from quiet. No, his mind was a cacophony of noise, almost like the faint whoosh of wind during the building of a storm.

“Look, I’ll just be frank. I’m drawn to her. I have no idea why given I’ve just met her. I like her. But I’m no poacher. In the end any choice made is hers, but I felt I should speak to you as well.”

And there he was—Shale, live and in surround sound.

In. Slade’s. Fucking. Head.

Instinct said to throw his shields up. Block him. Now. Only one problem—Slade’s shields were already up.

“Interesting,” Shale whispered. The words were like silk against Slade’s skin. Weird. “I can feel you,” Shale said. “Almost taste you as clearly as the strawberries in this pastry.”
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Snippet Saturday – Holding out for a Heroine

Happy March, everyone! This week’s theme is about the ladies who carry our stories. They’re funny, smart, beautiful, kick-ass, yet flawed like everyone else. Our heroines can handle their men yet still be a total goddess-bitch in the feminine department.

So here’s a bit of sass without being crass from one of my favorite heroines, Neesia and Niah Pryde, African lion shifters from Spirit of the Pryde (an Erotic Dreams Reader’s Choice award winning novella). Spirit of the Pryde is Neesia’s book. Niah’s book, Niah’s Pride is coming in May 2013. Can’t wait!

Enjoy and then find the other fabulous Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post!


Spirit of the Pryde
by TJ Michaels
All Rights Reserved
Did you hear that? Neesia stopped in her tracks and glared toward the eerie sound. Thats a fucking Werewolf!

And it sounds pissed! Niah growled as they broke into a mad dash toward the snarled screams.

Hitting their bellies at exactly the same time, their golden brown coats were camouflaged by the grass and brush. Instinctive hunters, they moved into position for a coordinated ambush.

Neesia lifted her head, got her prey in sight and prepared to take this asshole down. One good look at his ugly maw explained plenty. Devon Lane. Hell! A bounty they’d hunted and nearly caught until a freak accident saw him take a tumble off a cliff in the Appalachian Mountains. They thought he’d died in the fall. But here he was, in the flesh. Son of a bitch.

Too much attention on Pryde ranch was detrimental to their very lives. And this idiot had done plenty to shine the spotlight on them. And nobody, nobody endangered her sisters!

Whoa! What the hell was Jason doing out here? The Were landed a staggering blow, and was now moving in for the kill.

Hold, Niah! Its Jason! Neesia spoke urgently into her sister’s head.

I see him! Niah gasped. What the hell is he doing out here?

Well ask him after we save his ass. Lets go.

The sisters attacked. Neesia’s muscles bunched powerfully as she sprang into the air, massive teeth and claws bared. Flying into the rogue Were, she threw all of her heavily muscled bodyweight into the blow. Hitting him square in the chest, she sank her teeth into his throat as Niah plowed into his legs, taking him down.

Biting, tearing through the thick, tough flesh of the raging beast. Blood loss and severe injuries soon had him facedown on the ground gasping as his lifeblood ran into the dirt.

Done playing around? Niah panted with a quirky grin only a lioness could deliver.

Definitely. Lets finish this, Neesia growled. Together they moved in on the downed Were and relieved him of his head. He shifted back to his human form just as his heart stopped beating.

Snippet Saturday authors
Leah Braemel
Caris Roane
Eliza Gayle
McKenna Jeffries
Selena Blake
Taige Crenshaw
Delilah Devlin
Felicity Heaton
HelenKay Dimon
Shiloh Walker
Lissa Matthews
Myla Jackson
Lauren Dane

Snippet Saturday – Author’s Choice

For this week’s Snippet, I’ve chosen a bit from the upcoming release, Seeker’s Solace, book four in the Vampire Council of Ethics series. It’s the first menage in the series, so please enjoy!

Ladies and gentlemen…meet Jovon Dawson-Li *evil grin*

Unedited Excerpt from
Seeker’s Solace
Vampire Council of Ethics Book 4
by TJ Michaels

The Council chamber was an opulent affair without being gaudy. A place where the Elders met when they were all in town.

And here she stood in the presence of the matriarch of Clan Serati. She felt like doing a funky little fan-girl dance but managed to keep her cool demeanor. Just barely. Besides, she looked like hell and would probably be shot if she got too close to the Elder smelling the way she did. Jovon was a dusty mess having hopped off a military transport plane in Great Falls after a twenty hour ride, then right onto another flight from there to Kalispell, Montana with no prep time before walking into this meeting.

The Elders up on the dais were no surprise. She knew their faces well enough, including her own Elder of Clan Li.

A slew of assistants and Liaisons lined the walls.

Seekers stood in front of the dais listening to the discussion on what this mission was about.

The Seekers stood at ease, their bodies deceptively relaxed. There was no mistaking the menace and determination that rolled off of them. They might be vampire good guys, but they were really really good at taking down bad guys. And the only way to take down a bad guy…was to fight dirty like one. And they were all capable of carrying out whatever deeds were necessary to get what they wanted.

What determined a bad guy depended on who made the rules at the time. The Elders made the rules for the V.C.O.E. On their side equaled good guy. Against them equaled bad guy.

The thought made her shiver.

Seekers protected the entire vampire nation from law breakers. They also kept all the Clans off the radar of humans and kept those same humans from becoming rogue vampire lunch.

Another quick survey of the room and her attention landed right back on the Seekers. Only the one speaking now…wasn’t one. This man had come in through the other entrance with the Liaisons along with Jovon.

And she’d blown him off royally.
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Snippet Saturday – Sweethearts

This week’s Snippet Saturday features some of the most awesome authors I know. Be sure to visit them via the links at the bottom of this post. Now, back to business – this week’s theme is Sweethearts. Valentine’s Day just passed and while I don’t have any books with that particular holiday, Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without some romance leading up to it, right?

So, here’s a Snippet from Silk Road where Larien allows himself to be as vulnerable as any Fallen can be — by showing his true self to Jayla.


Excerpt from
Silk Road
Seals of Destiny Book One
by TJ Michaels

Out of the blue, she asked, “So you can change your form, right? Like the asshat that jumped me? He looked human one minute and a freaking giant the next.”

“Of course. All Fallen can take human form or revert to their working form.”

“Working form? What’s a working form?”

“I am a warring angel, so my working form is for battle. It is the form I take most often, or would take often if I still had my old job. We can also transform to celestial bodies, unless we go demon.”

“What happens if you choose Fallen demonhood rather than Fallen angelhood?”

“We lose the ability to take our celestial forms ever again.”

“Can I see? Your celestial form, I mean.” Her honey brown eyes sparkled, full of mischief. What was she up to? He tilted his head and tried to read between whatever lines he was sure were there. “Well, can I?”

I can refuse her nothing.

Without another word, Larien rose and padded to the living room with Jayla on his heels.

“Why the living room instead of the office?”

“You’ll see.”

The moment she settled on the couch he let the change explode from his very cells. His body stretched and expanded. The familiar burn of the emergence of his wings was followed by an awed gasp from Jayla.

“Wow. You have wings?! And you’re so big, uh, bigger.”

But even at eight feet ten inches this body was still restricted by flesh.

“This is my battle form.” His voice, deepened by the transformation, caused her eyes to widen even more, yet the stink of fear was absent. Humans usually pissed themselves if they managed to glimpse an angel’s battle form, Fallen or not. “But I want you to see my true form though it is dimmer than when I was eudaemon.”

Nodding enthusiastically, Jayla simply sat with her eyes aglow with wonder. The eager acceptance in her gaze never ceased to make him feel special. Proud, even, of what he was. Or rather, what was left of him.

* * * * *

Jayla was fully along for the ride. Energy crackled in the air, rode along the ridges of her spine and then sank into her blood. It pumped through her heart, infused her cells and then burst forth like an explosion of moonlight and starlight behind her eyes. It was peaceful yet so beautifully vibrant she could almost hear the hum of electricity in the room. The tips of Larien’s beautiful wings trailed the floor and then snapped out to fill the room. A variation of black she’d never seen before, the color seemed alive and swirled with luminescence. Lethal-looking talons on the end of perfectly sculpted feathers were a-glow with shimmering gold.

Wow, how did he ever walk away from such power, she wondered. Larien outshone anything her mind could even possibly conceive. When Improbael had morphed from his human form he’d grown at least a good two feet, just like Larien, but where Larien’s skin was an almost-glowing dove gray, Improbael’s Fallen demon skin had become as dank as cement—lifeless and cold like the dirty ash that remained in the bottom of a grill long after the charcoal had burned itself out.
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Snippet Saturday – Character

Today’s theme is Character. I’m picking a side-character rather than our main because I feel that the sidekicks help make the story by giving us insight into how our main characters handle different kinds of relationships.

So here’s a snippet from Gathering of the Storms: Wind and Fire (coming Spring 2013) and heroine is trying to talk her best friend into doing something that’s actually against the law. Now let’s see how the two get along, shall we?

Be sure to visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post. Tally ho!

“Oh come on Joan, please do this for me. Please.”

“Forget it Reanne,” Joan said hotly, slashing her hand through the air. Moving swiftly for the door she yanked it open and rounded on her obviously crazy friend. If she’d believed in a god, Joan would have prayed earnestly for the deity to come take Reanne away somewhere, anywhere but here trying to talk her into another dumb stunt.  “Ever since we were children I’ve done all kinds of stupid things for you and I always get caught. Your father’s going to kill you when he learns you haven’t been planning a wedding trip for the past few weeks. You’ve been planning to run.  And don’t look at me like that. I’m not going to help you, because unlike you, I want to keep my skin.”

“Ssssh! Get in here already, Joan.”

She’d almost made a run for it when Reanne grabbed her by the hand and yanked her back into the apartment with a grumbled ‘shush’. “What if RuArk is next door?”

Joan didn’t really care. Hell, she almost wished the man would overhear what his numb-skulled woman was up to.

“What if I get caught, Reanne?  Your father would tell my father. Or worse, he’d have me carted off to Harbor Station and assigned to one of your brother’s airships. As a soldier, I don’t mind the patrol part of it, but you know I hate riding in those blasted airships. On the water or flying above it, they still make me wanna hurl. Bleh.”

“Joan, I’m not asking you to help me leave theHighCity. I’m only asking you to go on this errand for my father.”

“Yeah, but it’s your errand. You’re supposed to do it, not me,” Joan fumed. Her nails raked through her platinum tightly coiled curls until they were a riotous mess on top of her head.

“He’s always wanted me to delegate more of my duties, right?”
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Snippet Saturday – Celebration

This week’s theme is celebration. I think it’s fitting that good cheer be spread around during the holidays. In this scene from Entwined Hearts our heroines have just learned that after managing to protect their Atlantean legacy, find their lifemates and defeat the ultimate evil, they’re going to have babies! Now…to break the news to their men. Yep, celebrations are definitely in order. Enjoy this excerpt from the book, Entwined Hearts, Hearts of Fire Book 5.

Enjoy the Snippet and then visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post.

Mirriam sat down on a flowery couch next to Angela. “Why didn’t you just tell them about your vision?”

“The girls don’t know that I see the future. I decided long ago not to share my ability with them. Knowing too much is dangerous. It could change their natural responses and thus alter the future. I’ve seen it happen before.”

“I still can’t believe all four of them are going to have girls,” Mirriam said.

A few minutes later, the door to the palazzo burst open and Creed stalked inside, the other men right behind him. “Where’s Charlotte?”

The foyer was filled with noise as each of the men called their woman’s name.

“Creed.” Charlotte came bounding down the hallway, laughing and crying at the same time.

Creed swept her into his arms, holding her tight. “What’s wrong, baby? I couldn’t get off that damn boat fast enough to get to you. I could feel you were upset.”

She swiped at the tears running down her cheeks. “I’m pregnant.” She clasped his face in her hands. “We’re going to have a baby.”

Creed paled, but then a slow smile covered his face and his gaze heated. He scooped her into his arms amid congratulations and headed up the stairs toward their bedroom. Hoots and hollers followed them. There was little doubt in anyone’s mind what he planned to do when he got Charlotte upstairs.

“Kenna,” Ryker bellowed.

She raced down the stairs, blades in each hand and her gaze scanning the house for any threat. “What? What’s wrong?”

“You tell me, darlin’. We were on that boat and all four of us sensed trouble. We got back here fast as we could. Was it Charlotte’s news that got y’all riled up?” He grabbed her around the waist. “And would you put those damn knives away before you hurt someone.”

She sheathed the blades and wrung her hands, her gaze continued to flit about, never meeting his eyes. “Damn it, Kenna. What’s wrong?”

“Me too.”

The words were barely a whisper but they made the big man stumble backward, his new Stetson tumbling to the floor behind him unheeded.

“You too what?” he grumbled.

“You knocked me up, cowboy, that’s what.”

He bellowed loud enough to bring the house down around them, picked up Kenna and spun her around until she punched his shoulder.

“Put me down before you make me barf.”

He shot Faison and Marco a sympathetic glance as they patted him on the back and offered congratulations.

“Come on, darlin’.” He never set Kenna back down. “We’ve got a lot to talk about.” His voice deepened and turned raspy. “In private.”

“That’s fabulous news,” Faison said, a bright smile spread from cheek to cheek. “I’m already getting ideas for a song dedicated to the new babies. And you know Dee will want to throw a big baby party.”

“Baby shower, sweetie,” Dee corrected.

“Right, that thing. Let us know what you need. We’d love to gift you with some custom furniture for your nursery.”

“Yeah,” Dee quipped. “After we fill up our own nursery.”

“What? Fill up our…?” Faison’s brow knit in disbelief, then cleared as joy replaced the incredulousness. “We’re…? You’re…? Our?”

“Yep. All that,” Dee replied with one half of her mouth lifted in true snark fashion.

“Holy shit!” All eyes turned to Marco. “The three of you are all pregnant?” He wrapped an arm around Memory.

She snuggled in and said, “All four of us.”

“Four? But that would mean you too.”

“Uh, yeah. Me, too.”

As each couple went off to celebrate in private, Angela walked over to the coffee table and pulled a bottle of champagne from a bucket of ice. She made quick work of removing the foil and popped the cork, whooping in delight as white bubbles poured over the bottle and her hand. Mirriam joined her, holding out two of the ten crystal flutes lined up on the table.

Angela set aside the bottle and the two life-long friends clinked glasses. “To our family. May the newest additions be as healthy and strong as their parents.”

Snippet Saturday authors
Lissa Matthews
Rhian Cahill
Leah Braemel
Myla Jackson
Caris Roane
Jody Wallace
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
HelenKay Dimon
Shiloh Walker
Delilah Devlin
Eliza Gayle
Lauren Dane

Snippet Saturday – Holidays

Snippet Saturday is a brilliant collaboration by NYT and USA Today bestselling author, Lauren Dane, and a fabulous group of authors that she’s invited to join her in posting book goodies every Saturday. I’m thrilled to be part of this mad fun!

This week’s Snippet is HOLIDAYS! My favorite time of year is Fall and Winter when we celebrate the holiday season with our families. And because of this, I chose to post bits from a story where our heroine, Melaniece, is spending the holidays with her kids…and an unexpected guest.

Enjoy this snippet from Forever December, then be sure to visit all the Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post.

With dinner done and dishes cleared, Denise and Melvin decorated the seven-and-a-half-foot real pine Christmas tree they’d picked up in town earlier. An overstuffed Melaniece slid onto the floor in front of the fireplace and watched them at play. Her fingers sank into the thick pile of the sheepskin rug as she lay on her back and moaned with a lopsided smile plastered on her face. Dinner had been fabulous. Denise had made Shrimp Creole with Dirty Rice and Melvin had whipped up a peach cobbler made with homemade butter crust. Oh god, she was so full, all she could do was lie there, soak in the warmth of the fire and hope she didn’t explode. But hell, if she did blow up she’d die fat and happy. Heh!

When the doorbell sounded, she didn’t move from her warm spot on the floor. Besides, she had a good idea who it was and secretly wished the cockeyed nosy neighbor would just leave her customary Christmas cookies on the porch and leave.

“Get that, will you Denny?” Melaniece drawled sleepily, eyes half-closed. The soft footfalls of her daughter’s bare feet, the quiet click of the deadbolt and easy swish of the front door opening reached her ears. She waited to hear Denise’s “thank you for the gift, Mrs. Orley”. A few moments passed but the neighbor wasn’t calling out her customary holiday greeting, nor was Denise giving her usual Merry Christmas to whoever was at the door.

She definitely knew something was going on when the little hairs on the back of her neck joined her stomach in an out-of-the-blue spastic butterfly dance. Melaniece cracked open one eye and looked toward the door.

Two large suitcases sat in the middle of her now snow-covered foyer floor and Denise, who was doing a fabulous job of completely ignoring her, thus avoiding her stare of doom, helped a bundled, but familiar-looking, form out of a thick parka.

Melaniece glanced over at her son and froze. If the boy wanted her to believe nothing was out of the ordinary, his ear-splitting grin pretty much gave him away. But whatever it was, he wasn’t telling.

She watched layers of clothing fall away from the person. A jacket, sweater, snow pants and boots had been hiding a wide, solid-looking back, thick muscular thighs and an ass that couldn’t possibly belong to a mere mortal. Successfully swallowing the lump growing in her throat, Melaniece sat up, both mouth and eyes wide. Oh lord, had the kids ordered her a stripper? Woo, what a hunk!

Said hunk turned to face her and snatched a knit cap off his disheveled head to reveal tastefully cut auburn hair, startling green eyes and sinfully full lips.

“Holy. Shit,” Melaniece whispered.

Michael Bannon walked into her living room, eyeing her like the cat who’d swallowed the canary…or in this case, the partridge in the pear tree.

Snippet Saturday Authors
Rhian Cahill
Leah Braemel
Mari Carr
Shiloh Walker
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
HelenKay Dimon
Lauren Dane
Jody Wallace

Snippet Saturday – Talk talk talk

Ever look at a friend who was running their mouth, yet all you could hear was Charlie Brown’s teacher saying “Wah wa wa wa waaaaah”? Well, welcome to Snippet Saturday, a brilliant collaboration of Lauren Dane and a fabulous group of authors that she’s invited to join her in posting book goodies every Saturday, of which I am thrilled to be a part of. This week’s Snippet Saturday theme is—Talk, talk, talk (dialog).

I think this is one of my favorite dialog scenes from my newest release, ‘Silk Road’. Enjoy, and then grab a Snippet from all the Snippet Saturday authors via the link at the bottom of the post. Tally ho!

The following morning Larien awoke to a sleep-warmed, delicious smelling woman tucked against his body. He nuzzled Jayla’s neck as he whispered against her skin. “God, I could kiss you all night.”

He felt her smile against his skin where she nibbled him right back. “You did kiss me all night. Time to get up already?” She yawned, but looked bright and ready for the day.

They should both be tired as dogs who’d been hunting for two days without a break. But Larien noticed that Jayla charged him up somehow. He mentally added the whole “energy thing” to his list of questions for Gabriel when he delivered his next status report.

“Speaking of getting up in the morning,” he said as he rolled her beneath him yet again, “I forgot to tell you that Talan said you’re all healed now and it’s okay for you to travel. I went ahead and updated our train reservations. We leave day after tomorrow.”

“What? When did this happen?”

“He told me last night.”

“Where is Talan?”

“Sleeping on the couch.”

“Wait. Did you say day after tomorrow?” She was out of bed so fast he tumbled off to the side, caught completely off guard. She stood, fists jammed into her hips. The skimpy spaghetti-strapped camisole left nothing to the imagination. And he could imagine quite a bit now that she’d had those pretty breasts pressed against his body. They were a little more than a handful, soft with puffy nipples that became stiff cocoa buds and…

“Larien! Stop ogling my boobs already. I can’t be ready in two days. I haven’t done laundry in forever, more accurately, since the unhealthy incident at the hands of a no good winter Fallen demon. And given you haven’t let me lift a finger since I was injured I don’t even want to know what my house looks like with you and Talan taking care of everything. Oh my God, I have a news piece due to my editor. Shit!”

“Are you insinuating that I’m messy?”

“Out of all that, all you got was that I think you’re messy? Hey, I’m the one that’s been out of commission for weeks.” A sharp index finger pinned him in the chest. Damn. That almost hurt. “You don’t get to make this about you. Then again, it is about you and you not bothering to ask me if I can be ready to go in barely forty eight hours.”

“Ask? For what? Anything you need, I can get or fashion for you.”

“Ask for what? For what?”

Was she turning colors?

He rose and gently stroked his hand down her spine to calm her. That earned him her back and an elbow in the ribs as she walked away, grabbed a robe off the little bench at the end of her bed and practically ripped a sleeve off as she jammed her arm through it.

“Can you clean my house with a sweep of your hand, too, then?”

Larien was at a loss. Sure he’d had plenty of experience with women but nothing like the spitfire glaring daggers at him just now.

“Jayla, are you angry?”

“Answer my question, damn it,” she snapped.

“No, I cannot clean your house with a wave of my hand. I am a warring angel, not Harry Potter.”

“Didn’t think so. And for the record, making decisions for me when I’m perfectly capable of making them myself falls firmly into the assholery department, damn it. And Talan told me that you two have been sharing dinner duty. I don’t know about you, but I can guarantee Talan hasn’t washed a dish since he’s been here! Goddamn men! Think you know every damn thing in the whole damn world and—”

He should have pretended to miss out on the rest as she stomped out of the room and down the hall. Soon her words were accompanied by various banging and slamming of pots, pans, and what sounded like the stove and dishwasher.

So much for spending the morning kissing in bed.

“Talan, get in here and help me,” she yelled from the kitchen, and then grumbled, “Before I break something…like a plate over your bonehead. Talan! Wake up.” Followed by a splash, a yowl and a sputter in what sounded like old Gaelic. But it didn’t keep Larien from laughing as he fashioned some clothes and moved toward the racket with a shake of his head.

Snippet Saturday Authors
Rhian Cahill
Shelli Stevens
Anne Rainey
Jody Wallace
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Myla Jackson
Taige Crenshaw
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Lauren Dane
Shiloh Walker
Leah Braemel

Snippet Saturday – Fears *shiver*

I don’t think today’s Snippet Saturday topic needs any ‘splaining. In this Snippet, fear = scared shitless! And this alpha is determined that his woman isn’t going to be anyone’s prey.

Enjoy this Snippet from Jaguar’s Rule, then be sure to visit all the Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post

Jaguar’s Rule
Kindle | Nook

There was no trail here, just a huge mound rising up out of the ground, covered with brush and vegetation. Making their way around, Aaron signaled Anthony and Austin to go to the left while he flew off to the right. If their luck held, they’d meet up together at the rear of the structure.

Adrenaline sent his heart up into his throat as it pounded from a combination of fear and hope. If anything happened to Reya he couldn’t even wrap his head around what he’d do. The only thing he could see in his mind’s eye was a curtain of pulsing red rage and black fear. Please, God, let him get to her in time.

The next scream froze the blood from his brain all the way down to the middle of his chest as it faded into nothing.

Just as he hoped, his brothers pushed aside the overgrown vines and thorns at the same time he did right in front of a low stone ledge that led into a newly uncovered structure of some sort. Thankfully, there was a string of dim electric torches lining the walls, obviously part of the excavation effort. Raising their night-vision goggles, Aaron again motioned for silence as they moved cautiously into the building and down a narrow earth and stone hallway to the sounds of scrapes, growls and snarls.

Toward the rear of the building, the hallway curved then opened up into a wide room. Three pairs of eyes widened at the sight of two muscular jaguars fighting to the death. Aaron recognized both cats.

“No!” he bellowed, jumping in front of his brothers as they raised their guns to fire. “Don’t shoot!”
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