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Please enjoy the first chapters of Silk Road!

The Silk Road. In ancient times it was a well-established trade route that began in China. But to Larien, it is the veiled entrance to the underworld where no human belongs.
Jayla Protegenu is as typical as they come. She owns a chain of gyms in the San Francisco Bay Area, enjoys popcorn-and-movie night with her two best friends and writes for her local paper. But that’s where ‘typical’ ends. As a child she learned to summon her guardian angels to keep at bay the things that prowled the night. An ability she’s kept secret all her life…until a Fallen angel answers her call.

Larien is not seeking redemption. He’s looking for the artifact that only Jayla can call power from. The woman has no idea of the extent of her abilities and he’s not about to teach her. However he is man enough to admit that this human has touched him, soul deep. And now that she is his to protect, his to love, when she’s taken Larien will search to the ends of the Earth to find her, from San Francisco all the way to…the Silk Road.

For a Fallen that has nothing but time, it is suddenly against him. And now he has to be the good guy? Damn.

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Snippet Saturday – Besties & Buddies


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 theme is: BEST FRIENDS. I must admit that friends is something that I have very few of. It’s the story of my life, really. I’ve never been the popular girl or the chick who gets invited to birthday parties, Christmas dinners and stuff like that. But while I was growing up I did have one friend who was alot like Kenoe is to Tameth in Serati’s Flame. Her name was Valda and that woman had my back coming and going! In this case, Kenoe Hatsept will do anything to help his best friend, Tameth Serati, win her mate. Enjoy this Snippet that truly shows how great friends really have each other’s back. Afterward, visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of this post.

Her vision full of Alaan’s broad retreating back, Tameth almost forgot about the searing pain from the hard knot on her shoulder. She loved nothing more than working out with her blades but she’d overdone it during last night’s session and now suffered the consequences. And all in an effort to clear her mind of the growing need for the very man who’d just ruined her damned apartment door.

A formidable Seeker serving the V.C.O.E., Alaan Serati was one of the most gorgeous vampires of her clan, and son of the Matriarch herself. Tall, deliciously muscled, and expertly skilled with a variety of weapons, surely he must be good with his hands. And those eyes, such an unusual shade of blue, like the finest cut tanzanite gemstones. His perfect body was topped off with a mass of blond curls so light they were almost platinum. And just listening to him talk was enough to make her cream. The deep bass of his voice never failed to make her think of slow ballads and dirty dancing in the dark.

Kenoe’s quiet chuckle brought her out of her musings.

“Well, that was interesting, don’t you think?”

“I’ve never seen Alaan turn that particular shade of red before. Ow,” Tameth yelped as Kenoe dug into the same stubborn knot he’d licked in front of Alaan. Strong fingers pressed into her lean trapezius muscles and sent a screaming ache to the base of her skull. After a few seconds of pressure, a dull throb spread through her shoulder blade and settled in her chest. Then Kenoe’s thumbs worked deeper, forcing the tendons to pop over the bone with a snap. A sharp pain was followed by an ease of tension so profound, her stress leached out of every pore and the nerves settled down until they stopped twinging altogether. Maybe he’d adjust the bones in her neck and save a trip to the clan chiropractor.

“Go see Dr. Lyons, woman. And yes, Alaan looked ready to kill. As grumpy as he is all the time, when was the last time you’ve seen him bare his fangs at anyone, even a Hatsept?”

“In all the years I’ve known him I’ve never see him do that when he wasn’t hunting. What do you think…?”

“Wasn’t it obvious? The man was jealous.”

“Are you kidding? He can be such an asshole sometimes, I can’t tell when he’s upset for some legitimate reason or if he’s just being his typical good-natured self.” She snorted.

“Well if the way he started growling when I licked your neck is any indication, I’d say the vampire has it bad for you, Tam.”

“I’m not so sure. Everyone knows he swore never to mate again after that disaster with Sher. He hasn’t been the same since the day they found her all those years ago.”

Continue reading Snippet Saturday — Besties & Buddies

Snippet Saturday: We are family


Snippet Saturday is a brilliant collaboration by Lauren Dane and a fabulous group of authors that she’s invited to join her in posting book goodies every Saturday. This week’s theme is *drumroll* WE ARE FAMILY! Today I’m putting up a bit from Serati’s Flame where there’s no doubt that even vampires love their little girls…

Enjoy the Snippet and then be sure to visit all the Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom!

An hour or so later they pulled into the gravel driveway of a modern-looking manor. Tameth immediately recognized the vamp who stood outside the front door. Several more patrolled the grounds in front of the house and, from what she could see, the gardens off to the east.

The second they cleared the car doors, she and Alaan were both embraced by the huge fellow.

“Jaidyn! It’s so good to see you. So this is where mother packed you off to, eh?” Alaan said, clapping the man on the shoulder with a friendly camaraderie.

“Yes, Master Seeker. She said that if anything happened to Carin or the little ones, she would castrate me herself. Quite a love she has for your adopted sister.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Alaan said sarcastically.

“So what are you two doing here?”

“Actually, Jaidyn, I’m not quite sure. Ask him.” Tameth motioned to Alaan.

Jaidyn cocked his head to one side as his gaze drifted from Alaan to Tameth and back. Alaan felt pride swell up in his breast. Clan Serati might be a ruled by a Matriarch, but Jaidyn was one of very few males with serious pull, and his woman stood her ground, held his gaze, practically daring him to ask her about what was going on between the two of them.

Suddenly her expression brightened and she said, “But before you ask him, point me in Carin’s direction, will you?”

Alaan allowed himself a small smile. Even though an awkward silence had descended between him and Tameth, he was glad the decision to drop in on Bix and Carin made her happy.

“Absolutely no problem,” Jaidyn replied with a smile of his own. “She’s supposed to be up in her apartments feeding the new lad, but I’ll give you directions to her labs just in case.”

Tameth cocked her head. “Labs? Here?”

The same words teetered on the tip of Alaan’s tongue, but should he have been surprised? After all, this was Dr. Carinian Bixler they were talking about.

“Every property she and Bix own has a lab in it. A genius, that woman is,” Jaidyn said, admiration clear in every syllable.

“Thanks, Jaidyn,” Tameth said quickly, already striding into the house. Alaan’s eyes were plastered on her skirt, knowing she wore nothing underneath it. Immediately his head started to swim with a heady combination of desire and frustration. She didn’t want him.

“Is something wrong, Master Seeker?”

“No. No, nothing. Where’s Bix?”

“In the gardens with little Alaina. You can go through the house if you like.”

“No, that’s fine. I don’t mind the walk. I’m suddenly in need of some good, cool English air.”

“Too bloody cold if you ask me.” Jaidyn sniffed, turned on his heel and headed back indoors.

Alaan strode around the side of the house. As he made his way to the extensive gardens, he quietly greeted the vampires that made up Carin’s personal guard. Many he’d trained himself. Every Seeker on the property had been personally chosen by the V.C.O.E.

And Carin was one of their most important allies in the constant fight for survival. Vampires were in no way weak, but they certainly had enemies. Unfortunately, those enemies were other vampires.

Carin’s expertise in biotechnology had royally saved all their butts a few years ago. While she’d been trying to find a way to extend her life by emulating vampire traits in her own body, a rogue scientist was trying to do the opposite. The bastard had actually found a way to destroy vampire DNA without killing the humans he needed to fulfill his sadistic pleasures. And a V.C.O.E. insider helped him. Carin had single-handedly found a way to counteract the rogue’s nasty vamp-killing agent, as well as inoculate her mate, Bix, and the others against future attacks.

Their entire race was indebted to one beautiful spitfire of a woman. And as Bix’s mate, Carin continued to work tirelessly to ensure that they were all taken care of. Alaan wondered sometimes if Carin had become a vampire, though he knew turning a human was impossible. It just seemed that whenever she was in residence at Council headquarters in Montana, she was forever after one of his veins to draw blood for this sample, or that test. And it was usually after Bix had managed to escape her clutches.

After walking through what felt like an endless canopy of evergreens, Alaan turned a corner and came upon Bix sitting on a stone bench in front of a fountain. He tossed a giggling Alaina into the air. The darling little imp, her long black curls flying around her head, squealed and squirmed with delight.

Alaan stopped short. His lungs seized as his heart overflowed with a longing so complete it was unnerving. And all for something he’d seen a thousand times. It was common to see Bix playing with his little girl, but this time as he watched the two, listened to Alaina scream and yell with glee, “Higher, daddy! Higher!” Alaan’s heart squeezed tight with longing for a child of his own. He imagined her with golden skin, a black fall of silken hair like Tameth’s. And whether the little munchkin had his blue eyes or not, she would definitely inherit her mother’s attitude.

Sigh. Tameth. He was in real trouble where she was concerned.

Finally the invisible bands around his chest released and he opened his mouth to greet his lifelong friend.

“Damn it, Bix, she won’t bite me!”

Bix turned a questioning yet amused eye on his bellowing best friend as he held his daughter in mid-air.

Snippet Saturday Authors
Megan Hart:Read in bed!
Leah Braemel
Jody Wallace
Eliza Gayle
Mandy M Roth
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Myla Jackson
Taige Crenshaw
Shiloh Walker
Delilah Devlin
HelenKay Dimon
Lauren Dane

It’s SO Over!


Snippet Saturday’s theme this week is *wait for it, wait for it* ENDINGS! Waaaaah *okay tj, cut it out already*

I think every ending, no matter what kind, gets to us in one way or another. I remember when I was contemplating leaving the game of World of Warcraft (which I did eventually cut loose) you would not believe all the ups and downs I went through in my head over such a silly thing. Me, Miss Rational, lost my mind for a few seconds over whether I really really truly definitely wanted to quit the game. Ridiculous, right?

And we’ve all experienced the emotional roller coaster of leaving or being kicked out of a relationship. So today I picked a scene from Serati’s Flame where the heroine has had it driven home that her man is seriously stuck on someone else. And she doesn’t like it at all. Enjoy the Snippet, then visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the post.

Happy New Year!

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Kenoe rocked the room. “She smells like a Hatsept.”

Alaan swung around with a snarl. “No way! You’re wrong. How would you know, anyway?”

Tameth gaped. He took one look at her and dropped into his chair with a sheepish snort. After all, it was a stupid question. Kenoe’s clan shared the same blood and had a connection of sorts, just like every other clan.

“Alaan, you’ve been out of Vampire 101 for a long time now,” Tameth countered sarcastically. Her anger rose with each word. “Snap out of dense mode. Of course clan members can sense and scent each other at close distances. Kenoe caught a whiff of one of his own clan members just the other day, remember?”

“She’s not a fucking Hatsept.” Alaan was back on his feet, fangs bared on a snarl. Fear and pain snaked down the bond and bit into her like a viper that had just been prodded with a stick.

“Look, Alaan,” Kenoe said, “I don’t know how she got here, or where she’s been all this time, but I know what I scented on her. The real question is, if Sher smells like a Hatsept, how the hell did she get that way?”

“Stop pushing, asshole.”

Tameth’s heart sank another notch. Sigh. Apparently she’d been right all along. Alaan was still all wrapped up in that woman.

“This is getting us nowhere,” Tameth interrupted. “Collins, tell us what the hell happened. Where did you find her?”

“Randall and I were scouting Mayfair, near Hyde Park. We sighted a couple of suspicious-looking vamps. The second they saw us, they took off running. We followed them into an alley. That’s where we found her.”

“The vamps you two were chasing, did they do this?” Kenoe asked quietly.

“No way. We ducked into the alley just seconds behind them. Someone else had to have injured Sher. They simply didn’t have time.”

“Interesting,” Kenoe mumbled to himself. An intent expression remained etched across his forehead as he worked something out in his head.

At the end of Collins’ recounting, they were no closer to figuring out this mystery than they had been when the briefing began. But one thing was sure. Nobody was getting into this house and nobody was getting out.

Tameth gave everyone their orders and ended the meeting.

Just then, Carin and Bix bustled into the library.

Carin was all business. “I’ve brought a ton of medical equipment. Where’s the patient?”

“I’ll take you to her.” Alaan jumped from his seat and practically dragged Carin out of the room.

Tameth watched him go. All of her accusations about Alaan still being hooked on Sher came back to haunt her. Her mother always told her to think positive, because whatever she expected would be exactly what she’d get. Boy, had her mom’s words turned out to be true.

Miserable, she followed Kenoe to the staircase and paused, her eyes plastered on her mate’s back as he bustled Carin down the hallway towards the room where Sher lay unconscious.

With a sigh, she allowed Kenoe to lead her up the stairs while Higgins offered to take Bix, with a sleeping Alaina bundled in his arms, up to one of the empty rooms.

Choking back a wash of tears, Tameth’s heart broke into tiny, sharp pieces, like glass broken out of a once-shiny mirror. Kenoe led her into his suite and promptly locked the door. And she didn’t even care why.

Snippet Saturday Authors
Lauren Dane
Rhian Cahill
Eliza Gayle
Selena Blake
Anne Rainey
Jody Wallace
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Myla Jackson
Taige Crenshaw
Alison Kent
Delilah Devlin
Shelli Stevens
Shiloh Walker
Leah Braemel
HelenKay Dimon

Snippet Saturday – BFF

BFF’s are cool, rare and occasionally a pain in the ass. My BFF is Valda Thomas. Though I haven’t seen her since I moved away from my home state more than ten years ago and we’ve lost touch, I’ll never forget that friendship. To this day, she is still my BFF. She was there when I was pissed off and needed to rant. She was there to tell me I was being an idiot and to sit my “goofy behind down somewhere”. She was there when I was sick and couldn’t take care of myself or my kids (I think she became an expert of doing tricks with Cheerios to keep my then five year old son occupied while I sweated out my fever).

In this Vampire Council of Ethics book, two BFF’s are having a typical conversation…well, typical for them considering Tameth (vampire) is an elite Seeker for the Council, and Carinian (human) is a genius biogeneticist who can hold her own in a no-holds-barred fist fight. Something fishy is going on and these two are going to get to the bottom of it. No doubt they’ll both be in trouble by the time it’s over!

Enjoy this excerpt from Hatsept Heat, Vampire Council of Ethics Book 3, then be sure to visit all the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of this post. Happy Saturday!

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“What the hell? Tam, you see that?”

Tameth’s head swiveled around and followed Carin’s line of sight. Exceptional vision revealed the slightest movement of a shadow along the tree-lined path near the fence across the way. That path led to a grotto that couldn’t quite be seen from here, and on the other side of the thick stand of trees was a locked gate that was supposed to be guarded twenty-four seven.

“What the hell is she doing? Kenoe’s gonna kill her.”

“Yeah? Well who does she remind you of, Tam?”

Tameth rolled her eyes but couldn’t help but answer honestly…sort of.

“She does not remind me of either of us.” Tameth replied blandly.

“Riiiight,” Carin drawled. “What about that little excursion to Sausalito after we got back from the London mission?”

“You can’t count that,” Tameth huffed. “We are both Serati females and can do as we please. I was not even on duty and had no need to report in. Besides, I was well prepared to look after both of us.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t have permission to take Stealth One. Which you, uh, sort of failed to mention at the time.”

“Oh shut up. You got a nice pair of designer pumps out of that shopping spree, didn’t you?”

“Sure did. And Bix on my ass. Hell, I was almost looking forward to him getting sent off on a mission somewhere just so I could go take a pee by myself!”

“Drama queen.”

“Me! And who complained after Alaan actually gave her a spanking then revoked her pilot’s license for three months?”

“Nobody I know,” Tameth lied boldly. Carin laughed out loud, then clamped her lips shut. She didn’t want to bring any unnecessary attention to them right now. Considering they’d gotten into plenty of trouble together by wiggling out from under Seeker radar, the last thing they needed was anyone running off to find their husbands.

The shadow eased closer to the grotto entrance then darted out of sight into the trees.

“Come on, we’d better save her ass before Kenoe turns it another color, like blazing red.” Carin wrapped her fingers around Tameth’s upper arm and tugged, almost surprised when Tameth didn’t put up a fuss.

Tameth shrugged. “What can I say? I like her. She’s good for Kenoe.”

“Yeah, but I have a feeling she won’t be good for his nerves.”

Emma Petersen
Leah Braemel
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
HelenKay Dimon
Sasha White
Shelli Stevens
Delilah Devlin

Snippet Saturday – Talk me DOWN!

Ever had a day where you just wanted to get up on the ledge and jump…or worse, push someone off? Well, our girl, Shinju, the heroine of Hatsept Heat Vampire Council of Ethics Bk 3, is having a meltdown. Why? Because she just found out that the very thing she saw almost kill her only brother is sleeping in her bed…but he didn’t bother to share his little secret before knocking boots.

Enjoy Shin’s meltdown and then be sure to visit the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links after the post. Come on, ya’ll, talk her DOWN!


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Back in their room, Shinju had quickly dressed and was sitting in a chair pretending to read one of the romance novels she fancied. He knew she was faking it when her thoughts slammed into his head, practically screaming that some tragedy was coming, or that he really didn’t want her. The one that really got him was, Oh God, he’s married!

“Shin? You all right?” Kimora asked.

“Sure. What are you two up to now?”

Kenoe walked over and took her by the hand, leading her back to the bed and into his lap. “We’re not up to anything, but I thought it would be better to have your cousin here while I talk to you.”

“Really.”

Clearly she didn’t believe him. Actually, it wasn’t disbelief as much as it was fear of the unknown.

“Shinju, I want to tell you where I’m from. Who my people are.”

“Why in the world would you need Kimora here for that?”

“Because, love.” He took a deep breath and tightened his hold on her. “I’m…something you’ve never expected to exist. I’m not human.”

“What the hell did you pop while you went to get Kimora? You on drugs?”

“Shin, I’m a vampire.”

Immediately, her fear slammed into him like a two-ton steel demolition ball aimed at his chest. She believed him, and in the worst possible way.

“What?” she hissed through clenched teeth. Every muscle in her body tensed, ready for fight or flight.

So he said it again.

“Shin, baby, I said I’m a vampire.” This time he allowed his fangs to drop into place.

Shinju struggled in his arms and he immediately let her go. She flew to the other side of the room looking for something, anything with which to protect herself.

“Shin,” called Kimora. “It’s all right.”

“Are you fucking crazy? It’s not all right,” Shinju screamed, grabbing her cousin by the arm trying to haul her out the door. When Kimora didn’t move, Shinju dropped her arm and took off so fast, the other woman actually stumbled.

Kimora cut him a steel-sharp glance so hard blood should have spurted from his forehead.

She snarled, “You idiot! What the hell were you thinking showing her your teeth like that?” Taking off after Shinju, she called to her fleeing cousin’s back. “Shin, we’re on a damned plane. Where the hell do you think you’re going?”

“Away. Far. Somewhere, anywhere!”

“Shinju!” Kenoe ran to the door, yelling down the hall after her. “I’m not going to hurt you. You’re my bondmate, damn it.”

“Noooo!” she screamed, her voice laced with enough fury and dread to leave a trail of terror behind her as she fled.

“Kimora, we’ve got to get out of here.”

“Shinju, will you relax already. So he’s a vampire, what’s the big deal?”

That worked about as well as a combination slap in the face followed by a bucket of iced water. Why wasn’t Kimora freaking out too? There was only one good explanation—the woman was demented.

“Are you out of your damned mind? I don’t care if we have to find a couple of parachutes and jump into the middle of the fucking Pacific, we’re getting off this plane.”

Just as her fingers wrapped around the knob to the cockpit door, Kimora caught up to her and pulled her into a fierce hug.

“It’s okay, Shin. Honest. Calm down, it’s all right.”

Shinju took a deep breath, or as deep as she could between wracking sobs. Kenoe’s dread of her doing something drastic slammed through her. No desire to bleed her dry, nor rip her neck to shreds. There was only care, concern. Love? The man, correction, vam-fucking-pire, was upset because she was afraid of him? Shinju was so stunned that Kenoe was more concerned for her well-being and absolute state of panic than he was about anything else, she didn’t even jump when his hand landed gently on her shoulder and slowly turned her to face him.

Snippet Saturday Authors:
Emma Petersen
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
HelenKay Dimon
Taige Crenshaw
Lauren Dane

Snippet Saturday – The Moment

This week’s Snippet Saturday theme is (wait for it, wait for iiiiiitttt…), the Moment. Now which moment, you ask? Well, it’s authors choice so I actually took the easy way out and asked my daughter to pick one of her favorite scenes from any of my books.

Oooohohoho, you guys should have seen her squirm! I thought that I was the only one that had a hard time picking my favorite pieces and parts of books, but seems like my daughter does, too ;D Kinda nice, actually. That means she actually really does read the darn things…and luckily loves ’em as much as I do.

So, this week we’re going to get into the mind of one of our bad guys. He used to be a mouse, easily manipulated and persuaded by other bad guys. But he’s not playing that game. Not anymore.

Please enjoy a bit from Hatsept Heat, Vampire Council of Ethics Book 3, then be sure to visit all the fabulous Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of this post.

Hatsept Heat
HATSEPT HEAT
Vampire Council of Ethics, Book Three
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Dan hung up the phone, tucked it in his pocket and pulled back the drapes. Surveying the city around him through the wall of glass with a huff, he watched the nightlife of Tokyo light up below him. The clubs didn’t close until five a.m. here. The night was young…but there was no way in hell he was stepping out into it. Not with the news he’d just received.

There was a Seeker, definitely not a local, hanging around the sister of Max Maruyama. Dan wondered if it was one of the huge bastards that had almost made him pee his pants on the streets of San Diego three years ago. In fact, it had been three years, eight months and fourteen days since the night he’d never forget, nor forgive. Fucking vampires. A mean-assed Aleth Sidheon had marched into Idac Pharmaceuticals where Dan worked as a scientist. Part of what he’d loved about his job was working on the same floor as Dr. Carinian Derrickson. But that crazed bloodsucker had gotten Dan tangled up in a mess that cost him his dreams, his job and almost his life. And all because the freaky vamp couldn’t keep his dick in his pants where Dr. Carin was concerned. Well, that and a need to bring the entire vampire nation to its knees if they didn’t kiss his ass. Needless to say, it backfired in a major way. But Dan had escaped with his skin intact and fled to the east. As far east as he could get.

Dan stood and looked twenty stories down at the tiny bodies swarming through the crosswalks at specific intervals. Animated ads marched across gigantic billboards hawking everything from soft drinks to music to television shows. His brow furrowed as his head filled with thoughts of another time and place.

Oh, what a mouse he’d been back then, letting that Sidheon idiot pull his strings and make him dance to his tune. But those days were long past. Dan was a bit rougher around the edges than he’d been the night he believed he’d never draw another breath. Two Seekers, one dark as night, the other a platinum blond, had shaken him like a rag doll and threatened to literally peel his hide if he didn’t hand over the information to help them get to Dr. Carin in time to save her life. In fact Dan had never been so happy to pass out cold than he had upon waking on the chilled concrete sidewalk.

Later, he’d learned the dark-headed one was Head Seeker for the Vampire Council of Ethics. And that Seeker was Jon Bixler—just the mention of that name caused every vampire he’d met since then to cut him a wary glance or flat-out refuse to do business with him. Dan had later discovered why. Jon Bixler, now Dr. Carin’s husband, was the meanest, baddest, most feared fang-bearing bastard with a badge. In short, the Head of the Seeker Corps, and those like him, were known for kicking butt, taking names and asking questions later. And the Seekers’ favorite prey was rogue vampires, the very scoundrels Dan needed to make his schemes pay off. Then there was the blond refrigerator that worked with the Bixler asshole, Alaan Serati who served as second-in-command. And Dan had no intention of ever tangling with either of them again in all his natural-born days.

So he’d dealt with rogue vampires instead. Here in Tokyo they tended to remain underground—not literally, but they flew well under the radar. Every vamp declared rogue was a criminal in one way or another and had done something to get himself excommunicated from the ten clans of the vampire nations. Only a fool would deliberately bring himself to the attention of the Seeker Corps.

The rogue vamps also knew that in order to gain territory they’d have to fight not only the ruthless Clan Li Seekers, but the human yakuza clans too. And those tattoo-wearing mobsters were more cutthroat, if not more dangerous, than the vampires. In fact the only difference between the two factions’ modus operandi was the vamps just kicked ass with a little more class and flair.

Yep, self-preservation rated high on these boys’ list of important things in life, so they specialized in smuggling black-market-type stuff. Simple things like firearms, ammunition and good old-fashioned pornography, which were all illegal in this country. Now, thanks to Dan, they peddled those things along with special biotech agents, like the physical strength enhancers that emulated vampire traits in humans.

That Dr. Carin was a true genius.

In fact, just after that little run-in with Jon Bixler and Alaan Serati, the two vamps left him unconscious on the sidewalk and rushed to Dr. Carin’s home. And Dan had taken off out of San Diego like a man with the hounds of hell on his ass, but not before breaking into Dr. Carin’s labs to borrow some of her research. Sidheon was in the middle of ripping her throat out on the other side of town while Dan shook and trembled as he tucked a few vials of samples and compounds into his pants pocket. He’d actually cried as he quickly and carefully went through her files and specimen carts. Afterward, he made sure to put everything exactly the way he found it, though he doubted Carin would ever be back in that lab again.

The grimace on his face from recalling the unpleasant memories morphed into a small smile as he thought on the day he’d received news on Dr. Carin. Dan had always liked her and had been glad to learn a year after her terrible ordeal that the two men, vamps rather, who’d jacked him up had been able to save her. It would have been a shame to see such genius snuffed out.

After Dan had a chance to really examine the items he’d snatched helter-skelter from Dr. Carin’s labs, he’d discovered that the woman had quietly developed a compound that, when given in the proper doses and intervals, produced agility, speed and unusual strength in humans. Basically, vampires without the fangs or the need for blood. Only one problem—the formula was incomplete and Dan hadn’t been able to perfect the serum. The end result was the human trial participants, as he liked to call them, had all become deathly ill after several months. In the end it was as if the enhancements not only reversed themselves, but did so with a vengeance, practically nuking the specimens’ immune systems. They’d have been better off with AIDS than the side effects of his treatment.

Since then he’d managed to tweak the formulation enough to stretch the deterioration time out to a year, which was plenty of time for Dan to do business, get the hell out of wherever he’d temporarily set up shop, and head somewhere else. And he’d keep right on milking that cow until it dried up altogether.

And dry might be coming up soon with a Seeker skulking around the home of one of the relatives of a human who should be approaching the illness stage of the enhancements.

Did the Seeker know about the flawed treatments? Worse, was Max Maruyama working with the Seekers to get revenge on Dan for giving him a short-lived treatment? Never mind the fact that Dan hadn’t bothered to reveal the side effects. Maybe the ghosts of his past had come to haunt him, come to take him to task for the punishment he’d escaped three years ago the night Aleth Sidheon had attacked the innocent Dr. Carin.

A deep tremble seeped into the core of each limb, as if his old cowardly self was clawing to get out and run for the hills. For a moment, terror gripped his lungs and sped toward his heart. His lungs seemed to have a fierce determination to hyperventilate.
He forced his logical mind to the forefront.

“No!” he yelled to no one. “I refuse to be the victim ever again. This time I am in control. This time, I’m the perpetrator. I’m the savant, damn it.” And he refused to ever go back down the hill he’d fled up so long ago.

Come on man, think, think, think. Thumb and forefinger squeezed desperately over the bridge of his nose as Dan pulled in deep, fortifying breaths.

“Okay, Dan, relax. It was only a sighting of a stranger who happens to be a Seeker.” A Seeker who his sources claimed was dressed like a common man and hadn’t bothered to speak with any of the territory leaders in regard to his arrival. Just because a vampire cop was sneaking around didn’t mean anyone was on to him. Besides, Dan never stayed in one place long enough to get caught by humans, and could only be reached through the rogues he’d brought into his employ. And not even they always knew where he’d be at any given time.

He’d escaped before. He could do it again. And this time, he was a whole lot wiser, richer and could at least be comfortable while on the run. Shaking himself out of the cadaverous grasp of the old specters, Dan pulled up his resolve and began to plan.

Angry at himself for allowing fear to send him pacing through his living room—well, his living room this month—he forced himself away from the windows and commanded the muscles in his thighs to relax enough to sit.

Settled in a comfortable chair, he put his feet up on a settee and picked up the remote control. Perhaps there was something good on the science channel tonight. With a snap of his fingers, his companion of the moment, a beautiful little human female, all dark hair, dark eyes and dark lashes, scurried into the room and knelt at his feet. In her hands was a silver tray with four of his favorite drinks and a few snacks displayed to his satisfaction.

God, he was tired of sushi, sake and soba noodles. What he wouldn’t give for a piece of southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy.

Sipping a dark brown liquid from one of the glasses, Dan sucked in a breath as the liquor burned a path down his throat, leaving behind a hint of mint and lime.

He turned his lip up at the whitetail sashimi but ate it anyway, then chased it down with the next glass of alcohol—grape liqueur and sake.

Perhaps recent events were a sign that it was time to head for greener pastures…pastures with more unhealthy food. But first, there was a manufacturing facility to clean up and a yakuza clan war to start to cover his tracks

Saturday Snippet Authors
Jody Wallace
Emma Petersen
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Delilah Devlin
Eliza Gayle
Lauren Dane
Helen Kay Dimon
Leah Braemel

Snippet Saturday – Bad mood

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of national bestselling author and wonderful friend, Lauren Dane. Each Saturday our group of authors selects excerpts from our work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This week’s theme is *wait for it, wait for it…* BAD MOODS.

This is going to sound crazy but I love bad moods in a book. Whether the bad guy is pissed off about something, or our hero/heroine are mad at somebody, the little bit of “grrrr” can add both tension and spice to a book.

In this Snippet, Kenoe Hatsept is having a really bad day. He’s been kidnapped, has to play dumb until his team comes to rescue him, then there’s the threat of a non-stop torture of the sexual kind. Our boy is pissed off, but it all works out in the end.

So enjoy! And be sure to visit all of the Snippet Saturday authors through the links at the bottom of the post.

Order: Samhain Publishing | Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble

The second the blindfold was removed, Kenoe forced stark terror into his eyes.

They hadn’t changed a bit. As with most Hatsepts, neither kept their fangs sheathed. Lowan still wore his thick, white hair tied back into a mid-length ponytail, complementing his slender build and fine-boned features. With the exception of the hard lines around his mouth and the cruel light in his blue-white Hatsept eyes, he appeared as youthful as ever.

Myles, on the other hand, was still a big brute of a Hatsept, and the ugliest vampire this side of creation. Hair cut almost too short to consider a buzz, he sported a jagged scar. It stretched from the corner of one eye down to the base of his chin, compliments of Kenoe, a silver blade, and a nasty allergic reaction to the knife used to inflict the wound. Myles had always believed only weaklings took allergy meds. Shortly after the cut became infected and refused to heal, he’d changed his mind.

Kenoe looked around. The vampires providing security might not all be on the Top Twenty Most Wanted list, but he recognized several of them as wanted in one capacity or another. Another vamp walked into the room, capturing Lowan’s attention. This time Kenoe’s eyes went wide for real. Not wanting to be noticed staring, he dropped his gaze to his lap and listened as Lowan and his new guest engaged in a hushed conversation.

This fucking vampire played both sides. Not a rogue, but an informant who’d passed information to the Council on more than one occasion. If this vamp had been his team’s main source of information in London, no wonder they hadn’t been able to find Lowan until the Knightsbridge Seekers double-crossed him. And there was no way Kenoe could get this information to Collins before he reported that Kenoe had been successfully apprehended. Hell.

Knife held between his teeth, Myles stepped forward and unzipped Kenoe’s trench coat. With a familiar, spine-chilling gleam in his cold eyes, he slipped the blade underneath the bottom of Kenoe’s black form-fitting T-shirt and cut the fabric from his body. The quiet hiss of the ruined fabric played louder in his ears than the informant’s clunky departing footsteps on the stone tile outside the door.

Lowan stepped back into the room just as Myles reached to stroke Kenoe’s groin.

“No,” Lowan commanded harshly.

Myles growled, but backed off.

“You are only to supervise, Myles. Call Kimora. Give him a dose of Vigelium. It’ll keep him hard for hours. Have Kimora suck him off until right before he orgasms, then hold him there over and over. He is not allowed to come until he tells us Alaan’s plans. My guess is the Seekers will arrive sometime before midnight, but I want to be sure.”

In spite of the tight rein on his emotions, Kenoe almost sighed with relief when Lowan stalked from the room. But then again, that left him alone with a disgruntled Myles.

Kenoe didn’t know this Kimora person, but he wished she’d hurry up and get in here. The old saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” didn’t apply. Kenoe would take any demon over Myles any day of the week.

Leah Braemel
Lissa Matthews
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Delilah Devlin
Eliza Gayle
Lauren Dane
Jody Wallace

Shelli Stevens

Snippet Saturday – Near Death

Enjoy this snippet from HATSEPT HEAT, Vampire Council of Ethics Book 3
Copyright 2009, TJ Michaels
Available in Print and eBook
(don’t forget to visit the other Snippet Saturday authors. You’ll find links to their snippets at the bottom of this excerpt. Merry Christmas!)

The scene Kenoe rushed in on would have been somewhat satisfying if Shinju hadn’t been covered in blood, both hers and her attackers’. The air was full of the scent of rogue, rotten to the core and unmistakably rancid. The smell mixed with Slade’s and all three women’s.

Slade was injured and crawling with the last of his strength to get to and cover Shinju’s body with his own. Bowie knife still drawn, Carin was trying to push Slade back enough to examine Shinju. Tameth stood guard at the alley entrance.

With an aggravated tap on his earpiece Kenoe called in the cavalry.

“Hatsept here. Clean up, fast. Sending GPS coordinates. One Seeker injured. Four rogues down.” Not just the two Slade originally reported as tailing her. Squashing his rage, he spoke through gritted teeth and reported, “And one human also down. Dr. Carin is already on the scene.”

Thank God.

Shinju lay flat on her back twitching weirdly. A strange yellow foam bubbled up out of her mouth and dribbled down her chin.

Two steps had him at her side.

“Is it okay to move her? Anything broken, severed? How can I help? What can I do?”

“Kenoe,” Carin snapped. “Get hold of yourself. Her vital signs are weakening, but none of her injuries are life threatening. Something else is going on here.”

Easing Shinju off the cold, hard pavement and carefully into his arms, Kenoe saw Carin was right, as usual. A quick inventory revealed no serious wounds at all. A few cuts and scrapes along her arms and legs, a cut under her eye and a goose egg over her brow. One injury, a deep sluggishly bleeding slash from her left ear down to her collarbone made it appear the dogs had aimed to kill but simply missed by sheer luck.

None of it explained the woman’s deep level of unconsciousness or the frothing liquid pouring past her lips. What the hell had they done to her?

Slade filled in some of the blanks. “They were waiting for her.”

Kenoe looked up and briefly met the gaze of his fellow Seeker. Slade had managed to push himself up against the wall to sit up. His eyes were bright, unclouded. And pissed off.

“I followed them around the corner expecting two bad guys. Instead there were five. One got away. Outnumbered, the women were already kicking ass and holding their own pretty good. Even without a weapon, Shinju was in the thick of it. Next thing I know she screams like you wouldn’t believe. I turned in time to see one of them stick her in the neck with something. She fell to the ground and started flopping around. I was running to her. That’s when one of the bastards got me in the back.”

“So how are they down if you were already out of the fight?” Kenoe wondered aloud. But he never took his eyes off the now convulsing body of his woman, her skin so unusually pale, clammy and blood slick. Where the hell was the clean-up crew, damn it?

“I said one of ’em got me in the back. Never said I was down,” Slade grunted with a wry, tight smile as he sat up a bit straighter, one hand holding his ribs. “I sliced ’em, then I hit the pavement.” Slade’s chuckle became a hack, then he spat a wad of mucous-laden blood off to the side.

Tameth strode over, reached down to help Slade up then turned to a sulking Kenoe. God, he never sulked. This was new. Couldn’t look past the fact that his best friend thankfully had been there for Shin when he hadn’t.

“Come on, Key. The ambulance is here.”

Tameth paused and cocked her head sideways. The fat braid down her back was mussed as it flopped from side to side.

“Kenoe, I know that look. This is not your fault.”

Easing to his feet, he moved to one of the unmarked ambulances that had just backed into the alley. Trying not to jostle Shinju’s battered little body, he kept his eyes front and his gait smooth.

“Thanks for being in the right place at the right time, Tam. I should have been with her.”

“But it would have been worse if you hadn’t put Slade on her. You knew she was going to sneak off. I’d fault you if you knew it, but did nothing about it.”

“I knew she would pull something. It’s in her nature to work things out on her own. But I should have been the one tailing her. It’s my responsibility.”

“Yes, but it was her choice.” Tameth said gently, firmly.

Carin had already climbed into the ambulance and was busily, and rather loudly, batting away the hands of the attendants.

“Damn it, I’m not the one who’s hurt. Stop groping me already!”

But her hair was plastered against the side of her face with a clotting bloody gash, and more of the red stuff was sprayed down the front of her shirt.

The hands kept reaching for her.

“Shinju is the one who needs your attention. Now quit it or I’ll put something in your food to give you a flaming poo!” Then she looked up and locked eyes with Kenoe. Confusion, concern, it was all there in her expressive eyes as she motioned for him to move faster.

Before he handed his lovely mate over to the ambulance techs, he cut Tameth a glance and said, “What a fucking mess, Tam. First Max and Sasuke, and now Shinju. I mean, what are the odds that my woman and her only family in all of Japan would be laid up in the hospital at the same time because of the same shit?”

A low, miserable groan from behind them caught Tameth’s attention. But Slade was there first. The vamps they’d knocked out all had been cut in one place or another. They were now semi-conscious and barfing like dogs. Good. All hail Dr. Carin’s barfinator serum smeared on the edge of their blades. A nondescript van pulled into the alley just as the ambulances pulled away.

Bix and Alaan jumped out, followed by Alex and several more Clan Li Iudex Judges. Yep, interrogation was going to be fun.

Moira Rogers
Ashley Ladd
Anya Bast
McKenna Jeffries
Taige Crenshaw
Shelli Stevens
Shelley Munro
Eliza Gayle
Victoria Janssen
Juliana Stone

Snippet Saturday – Weaponry

Excerpt from HATSEPT HEAT
Vampire Council of Ethics Bookk 3
By TJ Michaels
Samhain Publishing, Inc., Published 2009
All Rights Reserved

“Shin?” Kenoe sent the query quietly into her head. She sent back reassurance that nothing was wrong. In fact, if this went as expected, she didn’t think her life could get any more perfect.

Without further ado, Bix signaled the start of the meeting. “So, Shinju, what can I do for you?”

Shinju locked her knees and blurted the words out. “I want to be a Seeker.”

Bix and Alaan both looked at Kenoe, who’d promptly gone ashen. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him that, or any other, shade of gray.

“I can already fight. Max saw to it that I was trained in the arts of war, including hand-to-hand combat and blade training since I was old enough to hold a katana.”

Terror, palpable and vivid, flashed through to her, so strong she almost flinched.

“What? Shinju, a Seeker? Are you crazy?” Kenoe protested. Loudly. His arctic focus on Bix, he lowered his voice to what would have sounded polite except for the dangerous snarl accompanying the words.

“Sir, with all due respect, I do not agree with your even considering drafting Shinju into the corps.”

“Draft?” With the smirk from hell plastered firmly across his mouth, Bix said, “It wasn’t my idea.” His gaze swung a hard left and landed on Shinju.

“Shinju Deni Maruyama,” Kenoe snapped. Hmm, never a good sign when your lover used your whole name in a sentence. “Who the hell put you up to this? Tameth? Carin?”

Okay, now that pissed her off.

“What, I can’t come up with a great idea on my own?”

Kenoe’s jaw clenched and for the first time since he’d run from the debauched harem of his half-brother decades ago, he saw red. Opaque, almost stifling, anger-laced red.

The mere thought of his woman, his human woman, even thinking about accompanying a group of hardened vampires on a rogue hunt sent his blood streaking inward. A heart attack was surely imminent. The next thing Kenoe knew, he was in her face and not at all sure how he’d gotten there from across the room. Her request was so outrageous, he simply didn’t care about propriety.

“Don’t even think about twisting my words, woman. And it’s not a great idea, damn it! It’s stupid and dangerous!”

“Back. The. Hell. Up. And stop yelling at me.”

“Yelling? You’re lucky that’s all I’m doing!” He wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her until she saw either stars or common sense. Instead, he clawed his way toward some semblance of self-control and met her snarl with one of his own. Kenoe didn’t miss the fact that everyone else had backed up a few steps.

“Look, Shin, you are not hunting rogues, period. If you think I’ll permit such a thing you are out of your fucking mind! It’s too dangerous and you’re a human. Not even an enhanced one, like Carin, because you won’t bond with me or take my goddamned blood!” Who cared if the final word had come out a roof-shaking bellow?

“Kenoe Hatsept, are you cussing at me?”

“Look, woman—”

“You think I can’t protect myself because I’m just a plain ole human? Well, prepare to defend yourself!”

Kenoe knew Tameth could have easily stopped Shinju from getting to the blade tucked into the modified sheath that ran along the spine of her trench coat, but his fellow Seeker didn’t even flinch when Shinju went for it. Instead, her lips morphed into a proud parent-type grin. Figured.

Three-foot blade in hand, Shinju dropped into a wide horse stance.

“Shin, what the hell are you thinking?” Kenoe snapped.

“I said,” she gritted out, “prepare to defend yourself.”

With that, the sting from hell streaked across Kenoe’s chest as the blade in Shinju’s hand left a thin trail of blood across his pecs. Damned woman had ruined his shirt. It now hung limply from his body with a gaping diagonal slash across the middle.

“Woman, are you out of your fucking mind? Oh, wait. I already know the answer to that one.”

She didn’t bother to reply, but came at him again, this time her intent clear when her gaze dropped for a split second to a spot just a hair below his waist.

At the last second, Kenoe slipped his own katana out of its back holster and blocked a ruthless slice headed for his groin.

“Damn it, if you ever want to be a mother, watch where you point that thing!”

“Talk is cheap, Seeker. Surely a mere human couldn’t do you any harm. So bring it.”

He laughed and all it did was fire her up more. But there was no help for it. He knew exactly what she was up to. And he must be just as crazy because he felt a feral smile spread across his lips. The sight of her preparing to skewer him turned him on like nothing else.

So the woman was not only a wildcat in the sack…she was a wildcat, period. And a skilled one, he thought as he lowered his katana to block a slice headed for his ankle. He’d expected her to be good given her quietly kept background, which she obviously thought he didn’t know about.

A flux of fierce determination slammed into his consciousness. Shinju’s determination. Why the need to fight him so hard? Why not just let him wrap her up in his love and keep her happy, safe and content for the rest of her days? Suddenly it became clear as polished glass. Bottom line—Shinju needed this. Needed to avenge her brother and be the one to take care of him for a change.

It was something he could relate to all too well, having spent most of his early years with nothing on his mind but revenge. His single-minded dedication to becoming a Seeker was for the sole purpose of dispatching his own brother. And he’d been so consumed, it had almost cost him his soul. He couldn’t let that happen to Shinju. Yet how could he deny her the opportunity to seek what he so thoroughly understood?

Then another thought occurred to him—she’d made her choice. To train as a Seeker, Shinju had to make a commitment to remain among his kind and live as one of them. Live…with him? Permanently, as in bonded?

“Yes, blockhead. Took you long enough,” she hissed into his brain. But that hiss carried with it a dose of love and a dash of humor. “Now, let’s see if you can kick my ass. You win, you make dinner. No McDonald’s.”

That could certainly be arranged. “Snarky-assed woman.”

Enjoy all of this week’s awesome Snippet Saturday authors:
Anya Bast
Vivian Arend
Ashley Ladd
Leah Braemel
Jaci Burton
Taige Crenshaw
Shelley Munro
Sasha White
Jody Wallace
Victoria Janssen
Elisabeth Naughton