Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

By popular demand: Excerpt from Unlawful Contact

First, let me show you, if I can, the face I have in mind when I think of Marc:

Note the very full mouth, the hollows beneath the cheeks, the slightly dangerous, completely sensuous look. Oh, yeah, that's Marc to a T.

Here's a bit of background to help the story make sense. Marc was the school bad boy. Bad. Boy. Bad. He managed to graduate — just barely — and went into the Army to get himself straightened out. But on his last night before leaving for boot camp, he sees pretty Sophie Alton, a sophomore, threading her way through a kegger in the boonies, in tears because a couple of bitchy chicks have been picking on her for being smart and virginal and for having lost both parents in a car accident. He watches as Sophie stumbles blindly away and into a nest of meth-heads. Naturally, he goes to her rescue. What follows is every teenagers dream. (Needless to say, Sophie is no longer a virgin.)

Fast forward 12 years...

Sophie is a successful member of the I-Team. She's been following the struggle of mothers in prison, when one of the young mothers disappears from a halfway house with her infant daughter. Sophie gets a tip to interview the girl's brother, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. She follows the tip, and gets a whole hell of a lot more than the interview she's expecting...

From Unlawful Contact

Cold steel touched Marc’s skin, the handcuffs closing with a series of metallic clicks. Then, sandwiched between Cormack and another guard, he walked down the long hallway and through the first checkpoint, ignoring the shouted warnings, obscenities, and threats that followed him.

“You think you the big bitch, don’t you, Hunter?”

“Better watch your back, Hunter! I’m gonna kill you before I kill my number!”

“Check it out! Hunter’s going to lay some pipe. Is she pretty?”

Marc felt his pulse pick up as they left the maximum-security wing. He tried to tell himself it was just the thought of what he was about to attempt that had his adrenaline going, but he knew there was more to it than that. It was also the thought of seeing Sophie again.

It had been twelve years since that night at the Monument, twelve years since they’d sipped sodas and shared their dreams, twelve years since she’d made what had probably been the biggest mistake of her young life and given him her virginity. He’d always wondered how she felt about it afterward, whether she’d had regrets. He certainly hadn’t. Memories of that night had helped him get through boot camp, sustained him through the freezing cold of Afghanistan, and brought him back to Colorado when his term of enlistment was over.

No, he hadn’t forgotten her.

I’m the kid who always gets in trouble, remember?
Not with me you’re not.

That night had changed his life—for a while. He’d gone into the Army with a different sense of himself, had pushed his way up through the ranks, earning the insignia of Sergeant First Class before giving up the green. He’d parlayed that experience into a post with the DEA, hoping to put away the kind of scum who’d sold drugs to his mother and sister. But in the end, it hadn’t mattered. He’d ended up exactly where everyone had known he would.

Why not shoot for the stars?

Marc had shot—and missed.

Tension drew to a knot in his gut as Cormack led him through the last checkpoint and into the visitor’s area. He was lower than a snake’s ass for even thinking of putting Sophie through this. But she was his only ticket out of this place, and Megan and Emily needed him. Hopefully, the fact that Sophie knew him would give her some measure of trust and keep her from becoming too afraid—or putting up a fight. Then again, if she reacted too strongly to seeing him or was too friendly, the guards might get suspicious.

And then he’d be fucked.

“You taking it from here, Kramer?” Cormack motioned Marc through the next gate and stepped aside.

“Yep.” Kramer adjusted his leather belt with its Glock .45 and looked at Marc with obvious disgust. “Why anyone wants to talk to this piece of shit is beyond me.”

Some of the tension inside Marc settled. He liked Cormack and hadn’t been looking forward to roughing him up. But he had no qualms about kicking Kramer’s ass. In fact, he’d probably enjoy it. Kramer was a cold bastard who got off on breaking inmates’ balls.

“Over here, Hunter.” Kramer led him toward one of the visitation rooms. “You got thirty minutes. And just in case you got ideas about putting your hands on that sexy bit of gash, just remember I’ll be standing right behind you.”

Bit of gash?

Yes, Marc was going to enjoy this. He met Kramer’s gaze, smiled, the edges of the little shim he held in his mouth sharp against the inside of his cheek.

I’m counting on it, asshole.

Then through the Plexiglas window, he saw her.

He quit breathing. His step faltered. His mind went blank. He didn’t notice Kramer opening the door or ordering him inside or shoving him into a chair, one beefy hand on his shoulder. He was oblivious to the heavy click of the locking door, Kramer’s hulking presence behind him, the weight of the handcuffs on his wrists.

He was aware only of Sophie.

She was even prettier than he remembered—not a teenage girl, but a woman. Her strawberry-blond hair was still long, and she wore it up in a style that was both feminine and sophisticated. Her gentle curves seemed fuller, softening the professional cut of her navy blue jacket and skirt. Her face seemed even more delicate, her cheekbones higher, her lips sweeter, her eyes impossibly blue.

Fairy sprite.

He bit back the words and drew in a deep breath to clear his mind.

A mistake.

Her scent slammed into him, subtle and fresh and so very female, igniting every drop of testosterone in his blood. How long had it been since he’d smelled anything but the sweaty bodies of other men? If his hardening cock was any indication, too goddamn long.

Jesus H. Christ!

He fought to clear his mind, to think, to relax. He needed to focus, to rein in his hormones, to control his emotions. Anything else would get him killed.

She seemed to study him, her expression detached, her hands folded in her lap. She wore on rings—no engagement ring, no wedding band. She reached to shake his hand. “I’m Sophie Alton from the Denver Independent. Thanks for agreeing to meet with me.”

That’s when it hit him.

She didn’t recognize him.

She has no idea who you are, Hunter.

The realization came like a fist to the gut, cutting short his breath, the force of it taking him completely by surprise. It had never occurred to him that she might not remember him. It didn’t seem possible, but he could see in her eyes that it was true.

He willed himself to speak, took her small hand in his, tried not to look like a man whose world had just imploded. “My pleasure.”

Helluva blow to the ego, isn’t it, dumbass?

But it was more than that.

It meant that she would be terrified.

He looked at her sweet face, saw the girl he’d made love to—and wondered how he was going to bring himself to do this to her. Then he thought of Megan, alone and running for her life, her baby in her arms, and he knew he had no choice. He’d already lost his sister once. He wouldn’t risk losing her again.

Sophie pulled her hand back, feeling strangely ill at ease. There was something about the tone of the inmate’s voice, something in the way he looked at her…

She set her digital recorder in the middle of the table, cleared her throat. “Since I can’t have my notebook or pens here, I need to record our conversation. I hope that’s all right with you, Mr. Hunter.”

He nodded, his eyes focused entirely on her. “Whatever you want.”

Marc Hunter wasn’t what she’d expected. She’d known he’d be tall because his sister was tall. But Megan was also fragile and out of shape, the result of heroin addiction, a sedentary life and years of prison food. There was nothing fragile or out of shape about Marc Hunter.

At least six-foot-three, he was athletic and well built, his orange prison smock stretched across a broad chest, the sleeves of his white undershirt rolled up to reveal powerful, tattooed biceps, the U.S. Army’s eagle and shield on his right arm and an Aztec sun on his left. His brown hair hung to his shoulders, thick and wavy. A dark beard covered the lower half of his face, concealing most of his features, emphasizing his high cheekbones and giving him a threatening look that was lessened somewhat by a full mouth. His eyes were a piercing green that seemed to see beneath her skin.

Even if she hadn’t read his criminal record, Sophie would have known he was dangerous. He had an air about him—intimidating, menacing, aggressive.

A killer.

She pushed the record button and struggled to compose her thoughts. “Um… As I’m sure you know, I’ve been following Megan’s situation since—”

“I’ve read the articles,” he said, adding, “obviously.”

She hadn’t revealed to DOC officials that her interest in this interview had originated with an anonymous caller sent by the inmate, sure they’d refuse to grant her request under those circumstances. She wasn’t going to acknowledge that fact now, either, not with Lieutenant Kramer listening. Mr. Hunter might not care whether he aroused their suspicions, but she did.

“What you might not know is that I care very much for Megan and Emily and haven’t been able to think of anything else since they disappeared. I was hoping you might have some idea why she vanished or where she’s gone.”

His lips curved in a slow smile. “And here I thought you might be able to tell me.”

Confused, Sophie stared at him. He had contacted her, hadn’t he? The man who’d called had told her that Marc Hunter would be able help her with Megan. And yet Hunter was sitting here saying that he hoped she had information. It made no sense.

His smile faded, and his expression grew serious. “Megan is a very troubled woman, Ms. Alton.”

And you’re a model citizen!

Sophie kept her expression neutral and waited for him to say more.

“She’s been fighting drug addiction since she was a teenager, and every time I think she’s made it, she relapses.”

No news flash there. Sophie had already reported this in her articles. “Are you saying you think that’s what has happened this time?”

“That’s what your article led me to believe.” He stretched out, his muscular leg brushing against hers beneath the table.

She sat up straighter, tucked her feet beneath her chair, wondering if the contact had been accidental. The guy had been in prison for six years, after all. He wouldn’t be the first inmate she’d interviewed who’d tried to make physical contact. “I know Megan was in touch with you. Did she say anything to make you think she’d started using heroin again?”

“I haven’t had contact with Megan for years. We’re not allowed to communicate with one another, as I’m sure you know. What did she say to you?”

Growing annoyed by this purposeless, circular conversation, Sophie found herself glaring at him. What kind of game was Marc Hunter playing? She glanced up at Lieutenant Kramer, who looked like his mind was a thousand miles away, then back at Hunter. “Is there anything about Megan you’d like to tell me, Mr. Hunter?”

He started to speak, his words cut off by a coughing fit. He raised his cuffed hands to cover his mouth, croaked out, “Can I get… some water?”

Lieutenant Kramer nodded, and Sophie realized he expected her to get it.

“All right.” Biting back a retort about middle-aged men and sexism, she stood, crossed the room to the water cooler, and filled a little paper cone.

Why had Hunter wanted her to come down here? If he had something to tell her about Megan, why didn’t he just tell her? He’d known a C.O. would be present during the interview, that he wouldn’t be able to speak with her privately.

She carried the water back and held it out for him.

It seemed to happened all at once. The splash of cold water against her wrist as he exploded out of his chair, hands somehow free, feet flying. Her own scream as Lieutenant Kramer fell, unconscious or dead, his weapon out and in Hunter’s hands. Hunter’s iron grip as he grabbed her wrist and yanked her roughly against the hard wall of his chest.

Their gazes collided, his green eyes as hard as jade and unreadable.

Light-headed, her body shaking, her pulse frantic, she gaped up at him, tried to jerk away. Then her splintered thoughts drew together, formed one word. “N-no!”

“Don’t fight me, Sophie!” He wasn’t even out of breath. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

From outside in the hall came shouts and the shrill peal of an alarm.

They knew. The guards knew. They would stop him.

They would protect her.

Stay calm, Alton. Stay calm.

Even as the words entered her mind, she found herself spun hard about, her back crushed against his ribs, his arm locked around her shoulders. She heard him click off the safety on the gun, felt the cold press of steel against her throat, and then she did understand.

You’re his hostage, Alton. He might kill you. He might kill everyone.

She shuddered, felt her knees turn to water.

This couldn’t be happening. It could not be happening.

Marc felt Sophie’s heart pounding, saw her lips go white, and hated himself for doing this to her. Then she did something that made him hate himself even more.

“Pl-please don’t! I-I h-helped your s-sister!”

It was nothing less than a plea for her life, a desperate appeal to his conscience.

Too bad he no longer had one.

“I know.” He pulled her toward the door, almost lifting her off her feet. “And now you’re helping me.”


Debbie H said...

I'm trying to compose myself. What to say? WOW, now I am hooked like a rat on crack. I need more, please?
God, that guy is sexy as hell!! It does look like the way you described Marc!
Write, girl, write. Feb is too far away, I don't know if I can wait that long.
Thanks for sharing!

Libby Loo said...

RAWR! That man is yummy, and I can absolutely imagine him when I read that scene.

Thanks for giving us a little fix!


Ronlyn said...

oh man!!! My mouth is watering! Literally!! What a wonderful little treat for the morning. I can't WAIT to read the finished product. I've said it before and I'll say it again, YOU ROCK!!!

J said...

Okay! As we say in Australia..

"Hurry the fuck up, alright?!"

Damn,if I knew I was gonna want to read it THIS MUCH I would have delivered the bloody Tim Tams instead of posting them...

I'm with Debbie, write, girl, write!

And that boy you picture as Marc?

I'd only kick him out of bed to fuck him on the floor....

Love it!!!

J xx

DebbieD said...

WOW! Incredible! Awesome! can't wait til Feb. (boy that's a long way away.)

Nes said...

Ok, as we say in Holland: Schiet op! Kan niet wachten.

LOL! Love it! Can't wait for it to come out. Oh and Pam, I miss you too! Sorry we seem to be missing each other at YIM.

Thanks for the kind words yesterday and we'll talk soon. Last day of work tomorrow! Yaaay.


And thanks for sharing! Exce-fucking-lent! w00t!

Tammy said...

I can not wait to read it!

I'm so glad you all enjoyed it! Thanks so much for stopping by to read it. I've decided I'll post excerpts every so often just to be a bitch. LOL!

DebbieH, I agree that February is too far away. After having two books a year for a few years, it's going to be a long and lonely 2007.

Libby, I like the RAWR thing. LOL!

Thanks so much, Ronlyn. YOU all rock. You all are why I write.

You know, Joanie, I've always wondered how Aussie's said, "Hurry the fuck up." And I can't wait for my Tim Tams. I need to see if I have Rosie's snail addy... I don't think I do.

Debbie D — Thanks! Seems VERRA far away to me, too.

Nes, I've never seen you do the Dutch thing before. Language, I mean. In Danish it would be, "Hold dog kæft! Jeg kan ikke vente." Doesn't look at all the same but is pronounced very similarly, at least the second sentence. And I'm sorry we keep missing each other, too! I hope all is well. I hope tomorrow rolls by quickly. I'm taking the day OFF to write more Marc and Sophie.

Tammy, thank so much! I really appreciate your enthusiasm. :-)

Ummm... Pamela? WRITE FASTER!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Forget my suggestion you stop & read Lover Revealed! Write! Please. *whine* I can't wait...


I'll do my best, Charina.

And Jolene, it's TOO LATE! I'm halfway through Lover Revealed. C'mon, Butch! Definitely this one focuses more on Vishous, and I like him — a bit kinky, but I like him. Now if only Butch and Marissa would get it seriously ON!

Rosie said...

Let me just reiterate what everyone else said - write, write, write as fast as you can!!! I don't know if I can wait for the rest of this book. Well, as long as I have dreamy here to look at, I may be fine in my own fantasy world.

Thanks for sharing the excerpt. Actually, should I be thanking you? I'm not sure because again, I'm impatient for the rest!!

Sorry, Ro. LMAO!

Yeah, I might post a few excerpts over the year here, just to be a bitch. ;-)

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