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Claws

Just a couple more days, guys!

chang

“Hello, Kit.”

“Chang.” I cocked my head. “Sorry to crash in like this…sounded like serious stuff. Am I interrupting?”

Chang had an innate courtesy. He’d brush it off. Of course not. How are you, would you like some tea

To my surprise, the only response he made initially was to sigh.

It was a soft, heavy sigh, one that carried a world of weariness. “I had to call a family up north with grim news. An awful sort of call to make.”

“I…” I stopped for a moment. “I’m sorry. Are there…problems?”

An odd question to ask, maybe, but the look on Chang’s face wasn’t one that spoke of somebody who’d lived to see a ripe old age and then died peacefully in his sleep.

From the corner of his eye, he watched me. There was a strange expression to his features, as though he wanted to say something, but then he sighed and said, “No. Sit. I’ll fix tea. You’ll tell me why you’re here.”

There was no point in arguing.

Chang had fallen back on his role of courtesy.

There was no getting out of it now—and no chance of tugging out any details about that phone call, either.

I waited until I had my tea in hand—tea was a personal addiction of mine, almost as bad as the soaps and lotions and other girly things I bought obsessively. Breathing in the sweet and spicy scent, I sighed. I doctored it with sugar and cream. I liked my tea, with just a little more sugar than most people. Or a lot more sugar.

“How you can drink it that way confounds me,” Chang said. “I keep trying to break you of that habit, but it doesn’t work.”

“To each their own.” I shrugged and took my first sip. Perfect.

Chang had a look of amusement and revulsion on his face.

“When you spend a good ten years of your life scrapping just to get enough water and food to fill the hole in your belly, you develop odd cravings.” I shrugged it off.

Chang’s eyes fell away.

I scowled inwardly, wished I hadn’t said anything. I’d dealt with more abuse in my life than most people had ever heard of—I’d come to grips with what my family had done and generally dealt with it, in my own unique sort of way.

Sometimes, I was even able to not be ashamed of it. But it made other people uncomfortable. Honestly, that’s just plain stupid to me—it happened to me—if I can deal with it, then why can’t they?

But then I had to deal with people looking away, or lapsing into silence…or just…fading away.

“Sorry,” I said, my voice tense.

“Why?” Chang said quietly.

I stared at him, opened my mouth—then snapped it shut. “Fuck it. Never mind.”

But he was too insightful, by far. Unlike many shifters I knew, he didn’t just go by what his senses told him. He looked at people. Saw beneath the surface. Sometimes, he saw so deep, it pissed me off.

“I’m not aggravated with you for speaking of your childhood,” he said softly. “In a way, it…humbles me. I know you don’t always speak freely of your past, Kit.”

He rose.

The languid way he moved couldn’t be called pacing, not by any means.

But Chang rarely made wasted moves and the way he moved from the window at the back of his office to his wall of weapons then to his desk to straighten the non-existent clutter there before repeating the circuit was nothing but wasted movement. And it was done with all the elegance, grace and speed he did everything else with. “At the same time, the thought that any soul could treat a child as I know you were treated makes me…”

He looked up.

For the first time in all the time I’d known him, I saw a faint glow roll across his eyes.

The flash was gone so fast, I couldn’t even place it—just a glow of color too light to belong in that dark gaze, and then it was gone. “It angers me. Children should be treasured.”

“That’s how the world works sometimes.”

His eyes held mine. “And sometimes, the world sucks.”

“I’ve found myself thinking that a lot lately.”

“Yet another reason I like you, Kit. You are a wise woman.”

At that, I snorted. “I’m a lot of things—wise isn’t one of them.”

He chuckled and the tension in the air passed. He returned to his seat and faced me. “Let’s discuss why you’re here. Not that I’m not delighted to see you, of course.”

He’d never say it, but I suspected he had things to do, secrets to pass on and people who needed to kill or be killed.

That was his job, after all.

Since I respected that, I didn’t beat around the bush.

“I’m tracking down—or trying to track down—some information. I could use your help.”

He arched a brow as he lifted his tea cup to his lips.

He’d help if he could. I knew that. Just like I knew he’d stonewall me if he couldn’t.

“NHs are disappearing. I need to know about any shifters who have gone missing…specifically some in Georgia. I need information and if anybody has it, it’s you.”

The cup froze at his mouth.

Without taking a sip, he lowered it. Then he put it down and moved behind his desk to stare out the window. “Who have you been talking to, Kit?”

I started to move my knee back and forth. “Am I going to sound terribly childish if I say I asked you first?”

“Sound as childish as you want. But you’re more likely to get answers from me if you cooperate.” His eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Then a faint smile appeared on his face. “You can always ask Damon. However, if you wanted to do that, you would have. You often end up in messes that worry him, a fact I’m sure you’re aware of. This is likely why you came to me instead.”

“You’re telling me this because…” I drummed my fingers on the arm of the chair as I stared at him.

“Only two people possess the information you’re looking for—or possess an in-depth knowledge of it. That I know of. Damon hasn’t spoken to you—he wouldn’t, not about this. If somebody has spoken to you…” He let the words trail off.

“If you’re worried my source might be behind these disappearances, you can draw your claws back in, Chang.”

“My claws aren’t out.” A brow lifted. “Yet.”

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Ups and Downs of Being a Writer

There are times when being a writer feels like the best damn job in the world.  Seriously. I mean, you’re hardly ever bored.  You can look at a corkscrew and get an idea.  You can ride the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World and have an idea for a book (or two).  You can go to Disney World and write the whole damn trip off because you had an idea (or two) for a book–then sold it!

But then there are times when you’re up until 3am-because the voices in your head just won’t shut up.  Yes, voices, because that’s how my stories come to me.  People talk to me.  These are my characters.  I’ve mentioned before that I feel more like a narrator than anything else, because I’m just taking down the notes for the people who are living out the stories that happen in my head.  So imagine these people…living in your head…and they never shut up.

That’s been my head for the past month.  Several shiny, dazzling new ideas and I’m letting them all out to play before I knuckle down and get to work on RS project #2.

Which I have to start on this week.

The problem with letting them all out to play is that they don’t want to stop playing.

They don’t want to shut up.

They don’t want to let me sleep.  They don’t want to let me think or read or do anything but write their story.  They’d take me over and turn me into a…a STEPFORD writer or something if I let them.

O.O

Maybe this shouldn’t be a down side to be a writer, but it’s exhausting.  Too many noises inside the noggin.

So this weekend, I shut down.

I barely read email, I didn’t open my laptop.  I took a bubblebath or two.  I watched tv.  I read books.  I went to church. I went to the mall.

On Sunday, I did glance at my email….

And I saw one I’d been hoping to see.

From editor M. with St. Martins.

About RS book 1.

I’m loving this…

Hot damn, yes.  This is the upside to be a writer.  When somebody loves a book.

Now maybe I can shut up those many voices and focus on the one voice I need to focus on.

Here… snippet.  This is from book #1.  Right now, I’m calling it Nothing but Trouble, but that title might change.  No release date, etc available right now.

But let me introduce Neve McKay.

~*~

 

Home.

Her throat clogged from the memories and she blew out a breath.  She’d let herself get all sentimental and stupid later.  For now, though, she was going to have herself that damn beer and figure out her next step—and decide if she was going to call her brother sister right away, or wait until tomorrow.

Some frisson of nerves twisted inside her at the thought of trying to deal with the rift she’d caused in her family, but she’d deal with that when the time came.  All of that was for later.

Tonight?

“Just a drink,” she told herself.

And with that in mind, she started toward the door.

She had to take a minute to acclimate herself once she ducked inside.

The few glimpses she’d had inside the dive that had been Treasure Island didn’t match up with what was before her now.   The servers wore kilts—shorter lengths for the girls, although nothing that would make their mothers hide their eyes if they bent over—while the guys had a similar style that hit the knee.

She smirked, amused.  So they were going for a Scottish theme?  And still using the name Treasure IslandOooookkayyy.

To each their own, she mused as she wound her way through the crowd, ducking her head when somebody looked at her too long, averting her face when somebody looked familiar.

She had to avert her face a lot.

Treasure wasn’t a big town—population at the last census was just under nine thousand.  Her graduating class hadn’t even topped two hundred.  Just in the short walk from the door to the bar, she’d heard several familiar names and seen people she hadn’t seen in eight years.

But she hadn’t seen the people who counted the most, and that was all that mattered.

As long as she could brace herself before she had to see them, then everything would be just fine and dandy.

Spying an empty seat, she slid onto and looked up at the bar.  She hooked her backpack on the little hook in front of her and shifted to keep it between her legs.  She’d had people try to relieve her of her belongings more than once.

Breathing out a sigh of relief, she let herself relax.  Now…for that drink—

“Well.  ‘Allo.  What can I get you?”

At the sound of that voice, a shiver raced down her spine and a punch of heat—something she hadn’t felt in far too long spread through her, warming her from head to toe.

 

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Razed…available now!

Razed

 

“I knew I didn’t want dating advice from you two.” She was not going to discuss sex with Javi standing right there. She wasn’t. Absolutely not.

“Hey, this isn’t bad advice. Besides . . . you know how bad an idea it is to get drunk around a guy you don’t know.”

An ugly headache started to pound at the base of her skull. Yes. Keelie knew full well how bad an idea that was. But all she said was, “That’s why I don’t generally drink when I’m going out on a first . . . or even a second or third date.” She didn’t drink much and when she did, it was only within the company of friends.

Anais waved a hand. “Just order a beer at the bar. That’s all you need. One drink. You’ll loosen up a little. Now . . . the most important thing . . . and I mean it, this is serious shit.”

Keelie lifted a brow. “You understand the concept of serious, Ani?”

“Absolutely. But only in reference to men and metal.” Anais did take metal seriously.  As the only piercer they had on staff at Steel Ink, that was a good thing.  She excelled at her job.  And the men definitely loved her.  “Now, are you listening to me or not?”

“I’m all ears.” And she was. Considering that Anais actually looked halfway serious, Keelie wanted to know just what would her friend considered serious.

“So am I.”

Keelie shot Javi a look. Part of her suspected she should make him to leave. There was no telling what would come out of Anais’s mouth. She had no filter. None. But Javi was like a brother to her and if what Anais had to say was going to embarrass her, it would likely embarrass Javi, too. Keelie believed in sharing the misery.

Unaffected by Javi’s presence, Anais pinned Keelie with a wide, direct stare. “Listen, no matter what, no matter how hot you think this guy is—and he is hot, I’ve seen him—no matter how hot he is, you can’t give him a blow job on the first date.”

The bell over the front door jingled, shattering the silence that had fallen after Anais’s declaration.

She might have said something—anything—to ease the embarrassment crawling through her.

But then she heard a familiar voice.

“Hey . . . anybody around?”

That embarrassment exploded and, suddenly, she had a hard time breathing. Her heart raced. Blood crashed in her ears. Her hands felt hot and sweaty.

“Did you hear me, Keelie?” Anais asked, lifted a brow. The hoop there caught the line, shining back. “No blow—”

Blow jobs. She clapped her hand over Anais’s mouth just as Zane Barnes appeared in the doorway. Yes. It was exactly who she’d thought it was. Anais was going on about blow jobs and now—

An image formed in her mind. Full-blown, so detailed it might have actually happened, and larger than life.

Stop it, she mentally shrieked. Stop it right now.

Like it had happened yesterday, she could feel his hands on her, the way he’d covered her mouth as she came, muffling her cries, the way he’d twisted his fingers inside her, playing her body like he’d been born to do just that. His mouth on hers.

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Razed… couple of days…

Razed

“So, this place. You want me to meet you there. For coffee.”

“Yeah.” She angled her chin up.

It made him want to bite her, kiss her, hug her, cuddle her. That cocky, almost brash exterior . . . what did it hide, he wondered? Sweeping his thumb across her mouth, he murmured, “And just why are we meeting for coffee? You just like caffeine?”

“If you’re going to be an asshole,” she started.

He cut the rest of her words off with his mouth.

She’d answered his question. He’d just wanted a chance. Now, taking advantage of her already parted lips, he slanted his head and licked the inside of her mouth, sliding one hand up to cup her cheek, angling her head back.

With his other hand, he cupped her hip. Only her hip, because it would be so very easy to try for more.

Everything inside him pushed for that.

But he wasn’t going to rush this.

Not this, of all things.

He slid his tongue along hers, growled when she caught him and sucked him just a little. Dark, dirty little thoughts raced through him as he imagined her doing that to his cock. His fingers tightened on her hip and she swayed, leaning closer.

The sound of her moan pierced the fog and he forced himself to end the kiss, bit by bit. His heart was racing when it was done and his muscles were tight with the urge to grab, take . . . keep.

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I want this…

this

The simplicity of the gesture stunned her into passivity.

She held still as he lifted his head and stared down at her.

She blinked, not moving, as he continued to stand there, his hand on her chest. “I want five minutes of your time . . . over a cup of coffee. An hour for lunch. I want you to pick up the phone when I call, talk with me for a while,” he said, staring into her eyes while the blue green of his gaze cut into her.

Then he leaned in and pressed a hot, open-mouthed kiss to her chest, just above the neckline of her sweater. “I want to peel your clothes away, learn each and every one of these insanely sexy tattoos . . .and the reason behind them. I want to know what makes you laugh, and I want to know what makes you mad. I want to know what sort of book you’re reading whenever I’m in the office—I’ve asked, but you always toss it down when I walk by and you never answer me.”

His breath was a caress on her flesh and she broke out into goose bumps.

Her heart raced and she couldn’t even begin to understand why there was a knot in her chest.

Then he lifted his head and caught her skull between his hands, leaning in to lightly brush his lips over hers. “You see, Keelie . . . I want a lot more than a quick fuck from you. But every time I try to get even five minutes of your time,” he murmured, each word low and raw. “You pull away. The one time you actually did talk to me? That was three months ago. At the wedding. You gave me five minutes and then I put my hands on you and since then, you’ve run even harder, even faster. So maybe you can understand why I’m a little leery about just what is going on here.”

Quick as a wish, he was gone, standing five feet away, and she slumped against the wall, her knees weak as she stared at him.

Her heart lurched, lunged inside her chest, and the voice of common sense told her one very simple message.

Time to go.

Except everything else compelled her to stay.

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Razed…another snippet

Razed

He pressed his thumb to the wide, soft curve of her lower lip.

Eyes on that curve, he said, “So . . . what? You here looking for a quick fuck, Keelie?”

She jerked, tried to pull away.

He didn’t let her, leaning his weight more heavily against her although he knew full well he might be tasting his balls, bloody and broken, in his throat in a moment.

“Back off,” she bit off.

“No.” He dipped his head, rubbed his lips against hers, and when she averted her head, he  skimmed them along her neck. “I’m just trying to see the picture that’s so obvious for you. I mean, I’ve been trying to get you to go out with me for . . . hell, three years now, if I remember right.”

Three years. Eight month. Two weeks? Not that he was counting, really.

When she did nothing, said nothing, just watched him with those inscrutable eyes of blue and brown, he leaned in and buried his face against her hair. Black and white again, the chunks of black framing her face.

“What’s this obvious thing I’m missing, Keelie?” he asked.

Then his eyes just about crossed, because instead of outright answering, she twined long, long legs around him and arched, pressing the heat of her sex against him and rocked. “This . . .” That pink flush rode her cheeks, hotter now, brighter, while her eyes practically glittered at him. “This. Isn’t it obvious what’s going on?”

Zane couldn’t help it. He caught her hips in his hands, his fingers digging into the curve of her ass as he leaned into her and rocked against her, hard, fast. Once, twice.

She shuddered and met him. And when he stopped, she whimpered.

He slid a hand up, closed it over her throat. The mad beat of her pulse against his palm drove him insane. He wanted to cover that fragile bit of skin with his mouth and bite down, suck on her skin until she shivered and whispered his name.

Instead, he said, “There are a lot of names for what this is. A quick fuck, like I mentioned. Keelie, that’s easy, and either one of us can get it any way. I’ll be honest . . . that’s not what I want from you.”

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