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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.

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Seductive Musings

Thursday, February 15, 2018

COVER REVEAL & EXCERPT — DEADLY INTENT: An I-TEAM Novel



DEADLY INTENT, the first full-length I-Team novel since SEDUCTION GAME in 2015, will be out NEXT WEEK! It is also my first Romantic Suspense novel since 2015.

Watch this space for news about the release.

Deadly Intent tells Joaquin's story. Yes, finally, Joaquin Ramirez, the I-Team's Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, gets his own story. His heroine is Mia Starr, a veteran of the war in Iraq and former Army officer, who now works as a horticulturalist at the Botanic Gardens.

Here’s an excerpt:

Mia stood in the doorway while Joaquin led Elena onto a bit of open wood floor to cheers from their relatives.

“Quino taught Elena to dance when she was four and he was fourteen,” Aleta, Elena's mother, told her. "He's the artist of the family.”

So Joaquin was thirty-four — three years older than Mia.

Not that that mattered or meant anything at all.

Mia really ought to head home, but having seen him dance once tonight, she couldn't get herself to move toward the door. He and Elena stood there debating something in Spanish.

Aleta leaned close to Mia. “My nephew wants salsa dura —  the classic salsa - but Elena wants salsa romantica. They've agreed on Marc Anthony.”

None of that meant anything to Mia. She knew nothing about salsa, apart from the kind that went on tacos.

Finally, the music started and Joaquin and Elena began to move. People cheered, the noise bringing friends and relatives who'd been in other parts of the house and wanted to watch, too. They pushed past Mia, but she barely noticed them, her gaze fixed on Joaquin.

He moved with innate grace, every step, every motion of his hips, even the way he held Elena radiating masculine sensuality. The two of them seemed to be connected, mirroring each other with their steps as if they practiced this together all the time. Elena — down-to-business Corporal Ramirez — had transformed into a dance goddess, her short dress barely enough to cover her butt. She twirled and tossed her hair, never missing a step, a bright smile on her face. How could anyone dance like that in three-inch heels? Mia could barely walk.

Then Elena turned in Joaquin's arms, pressing her butt backward toward him, her hips thrusting in a way that was blatantly sexual. He laughed, answering with thrusts of his own, their hips grinding in sync.

Whistles. Cheers.

Mia's pulse skipped.

If she had danced like this with a cousin... Well, let's just say her conservative Presbyterian parents would've asked questions. But there was Elena’s mother and her little old grandma, laughing, their feet moving to the rhythm, clearly untroubled.

Then another thought struck Mia.

If Joaquin moved like that on the dance floor, what would he be like in bed?

God in heaven.

No. No, no. She couldn't think about that.

She couldn't help but think about that.

Elena had begun to sing along to the music, even her ribcage undulating as she turned in his arms once again, their feet keeping a perfect rhythm as they circled around the room. But, although Elena was the showier of the two of them, Mia could tell it was Joaquin who was in control, his dominance clear—a touch here, his hand catching Elena's there, his arms supporting her while she arched backward.

More cheers.

When the song ended, the room exploded into applause.

Joaquin hugged Elena close. “Welcome home, prima.”

“Joaquin is a good man,” Aleta said.

Mia looked over to find the older woman watching her. “I ... um...”

Then Joaquin was there, hand out. “Dance with me.”

Mia shook her head. “I ... I can't dance. I've never—”

She’d never tried.

“Quino is the best teacher.’ Elena looked at Mia, expectation on her face.

“Come on, Captain Starr,” Aleta said. “Give it a try.”

Her words were picked up by the others in the room.

“At least try it.”

“Quino can teach you.”

“You can do it, captain.”

She glanced around at them. “Only if you all promise not to laugh.”

For some reason, they all found this funny.

But Joaquin didn't laugh. He looked into her eyes, the intensity of his gaze pinning her to the spot. “I won't laugh. I promise.”

Against her better judgment, Mia took his hand. “I'm warning you. I can't dance to save my life.”

“The basic step is easy. Elena, come show her.”

Elena walked over to stand at Mia's right side. “Just listen to Quino.”

“Step back with your right, step in place with the left, then step slightly forward with your right. Then back with your left, step in place with the right foot, slightly forward with the left. Rock back, replace, step forward. Rock back, replace, step forward. That's it. You've got it.”

They repeated that several times, Mia watching Elena's feet.

"Now, try doing it without looking at your feet. Look at me, and follow my lead."

Mia looked into Joaquin's brown eyes, felt her pulse spike - and her step faltered.

"Relax," he said in a silky voice that made relaxing impossible.

"I'd rather be taking enemy fire." She blurted the words, but it was the truth.

The room exploded into laughter — and somehow that helped. No one here wanted to humiliate her. No one wanted to embarrass her. They were just having fun, and they wanted her to have fun, too.

"It's easier for you to follow if we're a little closer together." Joaquin drew her deeper into his arms —not so deep that their bodies touched, but close enough that she could feel the warmth emanating off his body and smell his skin.

She inhaled deeper, savoring the scent of him.

"Let's try again. One, two, three, rest. Five, six, seven, rest. You've got it. You're doing it. Now let's try turning."

The next time she stepped back with her right foot, Joaquin turned her to the right — and she lost the step.

That's okay. This is new. You'll get the hang of it." Joaquin coached her until she'd managed to get through a few turns, not once losing patience with her. "Let's try it with music."

Someone put on the same Marc Anthony song, Joaquin counting out the rhythm for her. "One two three, rest. Five, six, seven, rest. Look at me, not your feet."

Mia found herself dancing, the rhythm of the music showing her feet what to do. At first they moved forward and backward. Then Joaquin led her through a few turns, putting a hand on her hip to guide her. The contact startled her, his touch seeming to burn through the fabric of her dress. Again, her step faltered.

"Hey, no one gets it right the first time," he said. "Just keep dancing."

Mia tried to concentrate. One two three, rest. Five, six, seven, rest.

"You're overthinking it. Let go."

She gave in, looked into his eyes once more, the rhythm taking over.

"You've got it." Joaquin grinned, his face stunningly handsome.

Mia found herself smiling, too. She knew she must look stiff and awkward, especially compared to Elena, but she didn't care. "This is fun!"

"More fun than dodging incoming fire?"

She couldn't help but laugh. "Yes."

Too soon the song ended.

Cheers and applause.

Joaquin stepped back, raised one of her hands to his lips, kissed it. "Thanks."

Heat rushed into her cheeks. "Thank you."

All at once, Mia needed to be somewhere else, anywhere else. "I should go."

"So soon?" Elena looked disappointed. "It's not even ten."

"I'm an early riser, so this is late for me." Mia gave Elena another hug. "It's great to see you again."

"It's good to see you, too. Thanks for coming. I'll get your coat."

Mia thanked her hosts, accepting hugs from Elena's mother and a kiss on her cheek from Elena's father.

"Thank you so much for what you did for Elena."

When Elena returned with Mia's coat, Joaquin took it and helped Mia into it. "I'll walk you to your car."

She was about to tell him there was no need for that, but the look in his eyes told her that would be pointless. "Goodnight."

He grabbed his jacket and followed her out the door, and for a time they walked without speaking. He broke the silence. "Thanks again for coming tonight. It meant a lot to Elena."

"I try to stay in touch with all of my soldiers. Well, they're not really my soldiers, not any more."

"Like Andrew Meyer."

"Yes." Mia's mood plummeted.

“I'm really sorry about your friend—and the news article.”

"You just have a job to do. Nothing personal, right?" Mia clicked the fob on her key chain, unlocking her car door, her headlights flashing.

Was she being unfair to Joaquin? It was his job. And she was a person of interest — at least at the moment. The police would clear her soon.

He opened the door for her. "I hope you get good news soon."

"Thanks." She stood there for a moment, caught between anger and attraction. "And thanks for the dance lesson."

“My pleasure.”He waited for her to climb in and shut her door.

As she drove down the street, she saw in the rear view mirror that he was still standing in the street, watching her drive away.

~ ~ ~ ~

I can't wait to get Joaquin's book into your hands!

Copyright (c) Pamela Clare 2018

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