Thursday, November 14, 2019

Cassie's Troubles @Liza0Connor 3

Cassie's Troubles 3


The SkyRyders are no longer the best-skilled fliers in the sky, and MAC is determined to rectify the situation by breeding better fliers. However, the introduction of an exceptional flier into the project brings an underlying cancer to light. Convinced the Corp removed a maneuver so a female could pass the flight exam, the male cadets in the Academy revolt. Sensing chaos and mutiny at the Fort, the enemy cartel gathers a force to annihilate the entire West Coast forces.


Twelve months later, Cassie glared at the grey walls of General Adams’ waiting room. Of all the betrayals in her life, this was the hardest slam, and because of her twenty-year contract she signed, she didn’t see how she’d get out of it.

What angered her most was she hadn’t even seen it coming. Yet, she should have. The signs were there. She had noticed the absence of women captains, yet she let her captains distract her with lectures to focus on herself: “Apply yourself and you’ll go far.”

Well, she applied herself, and look where it got her, in some Ryder’s version of a medieval harem. She had flown herself right into the Corp’s dirty secret that no female recruit ever heard about.

Dare to exceed and the Corp turns you into a breeding cow to make future fliers.
“Cadet Brown, the general will see you now,” the male admin announced.
Cassie stood up and tugged at the ridiculous short skirt she wore. She longed for her fly-suit.

General Adams surprised her. He was both younger and better-looking than the general at Dix, and the expression on his face, she had never seen on a general’s face before. He looked at her with an expression of kindness. It still didn’t change her resolution not to be part of this breeding program. She had not signed up for harem duty.

“Sit down, Cadet Brown,” the general ordered.
Cassie sat in the chair on the other side of his desk and tugged at her skirt.
He smiled at her sympathetically. “It’s just a uniform, cadet. I find all this braid about the neck quite irritating, myself.”

“If you want to trade uniforms, sir, I’m game,” she replied.
He gave her a slight smile and walked around the desk. Leaning against its edge, he studied her. “You aren’t particularly pleased with your new assignment.”
“No, sir, I’m not,” she replied curtly.

“I remember when I first became general here. My supply chain was an absolute disaster. Everyone I put in the job hated it. Each flier I tried to put in the role was worse than the one before. Finally, a wise old general suggested I appoint someone to the job who actually liked logistics. I did, and I’ve never had a supply problem again.”

“That is a very inspiring story, sir.”

“What did you find inspiring about it, Cassie?”

The change in his voice and the use of her first name in such a familiar manner threw her off-guard for a moment, but she rallied.

 “It inspires me to inform you I find my new assignment insulting and belittling, and I will be extraordinarily bad at it.”

The general laughed softly. “Everyone feels that way at first. Come back in six months and if you still hate it, I’ll get you transferred into a regular Corp unit.”

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About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, skydive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet throughout her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Cassie's Troubles @Liza0Connor bl0g 2

 Blog 2
Cassie’s Troubles


The SkyRyders are no longer the best-skilled fliers in the sky, and MAC is determined to rectify the situation by breeding better fliers. However, the introduction of an exceptional flier into the project brings an underlying cancer to light. Convinced the Corp removed a maneuver so a female could pass the flight exam, the male cadets in the Academy revolt. Sensing chaos and mutiny at the Fort, the enemy cartel gathers a force to annihilate the entire West Coast forces.


Cassie called the number on the card. The man who answered invited her to come for an immediate interview. When she arrived, the recruiting officer was both respectful and enthusiastic about her possible careers within the Corp. Because rank was decided by MAC, the non-biased computer that ran the Corp, women could advance up the ranks of the Corp, same as a man. The Corp had a proud history of great women officers, including several Generals. He told her about General Alisha Kane and her meteoric rise.

He then explained the Corp would invest more in a soldier who was willing to make a serious commitment in return. If she were willing to commit the time, they were willing to foot the bill for the special training required to move a soldier from good to great.

Focused on the goal of becoming a general, Cassie enlisted as a SkyRyder with a twenty-year commitment, which placed her on the fast track for training and promotions. She signed the contract, making her safe from her father, her unknown fiancé, and the countless lawyers her father would unleash to get her back.

She was headed to her new base two hundred miles away before her father’s car arrived on campus to retrieve her. She knew she’d never see her family again. But given the choice of the life her father offered to the opportunities of the Corp, she never wavered in her conviction she had made the right decision.

Like all recruits, she entered as a first-year cadet. Being a cadet was hard, but she expected it to be hard.
While she wasn’t treated noticeably different from her male counterparts, she did notice all the captains, lieutenants, and every other officer she saw were men. Looking around her, twenty percent of the cadets were women and some of them were damn good fliers. So where were they going? Why weren’t any becoming captains?

Her captain, Captain Dan Torres, told her to stop worrying about the other women and just focus on herself. She had talent, and if she applied herself, there was no limit to how far she might go. He’d tell her these words of encouragement when she lay in his cot at night. During the day, he bellowed and threatened her much the same as he did the other cadets in his squad.

She resented the dual relationship at times, and by the end of her year, she preferred the bellowing to the praises, because when she really started to show progress, their relationship turned downwind, and the sweet praises turned sour, more like belittlements disguised as praise. What her captain didn’t realize was that the more he bellowed, the harder she worked to prove him wrong.

The day she successfully completed her test on the glide maneuver was the happiest day of her life. It wasn’t just that she’d move to a better squad and captain. It wasn’t even that she had learned a maneuver that only a small percentage of fliers ever mastered, and it had taken her one month, not years, to do it. The reason this was the best day of her life was for the first time, she felt real hope. Cassie Brown knew without a doubt she could and would become a general of the SkyRyders’ Corp.

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About the Author

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, skydive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet throughout her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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Monday, November 4, 2019

Don't believe any thing! Warning from Liza O'Connor

Memories- How reliable Are They?

When I was in college, I roomed with a very strange woman, and together we made the strangest occupants of our dorm hall.

Without even trying, we managed to terrify our dorm ‘mother’ into thinking we were witches. (or so I recall.)

I will state right now, I am not, nor ever have been a witch. However, my roomie later in life did become a good Wiccan. But there was no witchcraft going on during college. We were just two theatrical young women in a very bizarre college where classes would be shut down and all students corralled into giant auditoriums to watch fake healings. During that particular week, I took a puppet ostrich, a pillow, a blanket and the book Elmer Gantry to the never-ending pontification and healing event. There I read aloud the first page of the book, over and over, for a very long week.

I still remember the words: Elmer Gantry was drunk. Lovingly and pugnaciously, he was drunk.

If you google Elmer, you will discover that quote isn’t correct. However, it is what my brain recalls clearly, and I did read those lines over a hundred times.

So why aren’t they right? How could I read a sentence a hundred times, and still have it wrong? When did I start getting it wrong? 
I probably had it correct when reading it directly from the book. But somewhere during the week, I stopped actually reading it. I’d just open the book and burst out in oration.

 Thus, it probably started to change then.  I also remember the cult leader, finally seeing me with my pillow, blanket, and puppet ostrich far back in the balcony, and sending his security goons after us, thus requiring us to scatter.
I’ve no idea if that really happened. Before I found out how terrible memories are, I would have sworn it was true. But now, I’m not swearing to anything. 

The human brain is a terrible recorder of facts. 

If you want semi-factual memoirs, write it down as they happen. They’ll still be wrong, but that’s as close to factual as you’ll get to the truth. Unless you are willing to walk around with a video cams & mics attached to you. That would get you closer to the facts.

Turns out you will alter a memory every time you recall it. The more you recall it, the more you change it. Thus, the memories you remember the best are very likely your most inaccurate memories. I don’t know about you, but I find that concept highly annoying and unfair.

As part of my ‘humans can’t remember worth crap’ blogs, I would like to share how I managed to give a friend a PSTD event without actually doing anything but talk.

In fact, I had no idea I had done great harm until many years later when Facebook came to be and we all reunited electronically. She reminded me about the time we kidnapped a cute guy named Steve, tossed him into my roomie’s car and drove around for hours before releasing him.

I did recall the cute guy named Steve and I’m certain my roomie had a car, which I often drove in, but I had NO recollection of kidnapping cute Steve against his will. 

However, my friend did and the guilt of her memories had continued to grow over the years until it had become a major traumatic event in her life. (While she didn’t say so in her comment, for such ‘guilt’ to grow, I’m thinking in her memories we did something more than drive him around Oklahoma for hours. I’ve no idea what we did, because I’ve no memory of the event.)

Wishing to resolve the matter, I contacted my former roomie and asked her if she remembered us ever kidnapping Steve. Nope, she did not remember it. Then I contacted Steve. Surely he would remember? His reply: nope, but sounds like fun.
Clearly, Steve was thinking we’d be doing something more than driving around town, as well, because having my roomie drive us around town didn’t sound fun at all to me. She was a terrible driver back then and her constant braking and then speeding up always made me car sick….or so I remember now.

However, since neither the alleged victim, nor me, nor my roomie remembers the event at all, I let my friend know it didn’t happen so she could stop feeling guilty.

Want to guess how that ended?

She became very angry and assured me it did happen and it altered her life forever! She went on about the pain it has caused her. Then she defriends me.

Until I discovered how easily memories could be created, I had no idea what had just happened. Upon giving the matter more thought, this is what I think happened, but I could be making it up.

 I faintly recall one night the three of us were in our dorm room, and I said “wouldn’t it be fun if we kidnapped Steve…” and then me and my roomie, both being of theatrical natures, would have created an entire event of fun things to do with cute Steve.
I think my friend got so caught up in our imagination, that it settled in her brain and later when she recalled it, the part of it being a ‘wouldn’t it be funny’ idea wasn’t retained, but the kidnapping was. And thus began the foundation of her PSTD event. And while my brain said, ‘You’re just making shit up, I’m not recording any of this’, her brain said ‘let’s record this. It’s a fascinating tale.’

My friend now lives in a remote place, raising llamas, selling llama sweaters via the internet. I hope, trauma memory aside, she loves her life, for I recall her being a lovely person and I feel bad about planting the seed that became her future trauma.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Cassie's Troubles @Liza0Connor

Blog 1.5 for
Cassie’s Troubles


The SkyRyders are no longer the best-skilled fliers in the sky, and MAC is determined to rectify the situation by breeding better fliers. However, the introduction of an exceptional flier into the project brings an underlying cancer to light. Convinced the Corp removed a maneuver so a female could pass the flight exam, the male cadets in the Academy revolt. Sensing chaos and mutiny at the Fort, the enemy cartel gathers a force to annihilate the entire West Coast forces.


Cassie lost her train of thought the moment a squad of SkyRyders dropped from the sky and landed twenty feet to her left. She noticed they wore combat gear. Two of them were young women, and both were armed to the teeth, the same as the men. She liked that.
A male SkyRyder, slightly older and rather “easy on the eyes” with his chiseled looks, approached her as the others folded their catchers into small bundles.
“If you were going to buy drugs on this campus, where would you go?” His lips turned into a seductive half-grin.
She smiled in return. “I’d go have my head examined.” She nodded at the frat house on the corner. “However, idiots who have no appreciation for their brain cells go over to the green house on the corner, but somehow I suspect you already know that.”
“I always like to get a local confirmation whenever possible and especially if it means talking to a pretty young woman.”
She smiled at his compliment. Normally, such a line would piss her off, but not when it came from those lips.
“You wouldn’t happen to know whether they conduct their business in the cellar or the attic, would you?”
Cassie gave this some thought. “I’ve never been in the house, but I have lectured a few girlfriends after they’ve gone there, and I noticed they had cobwebs from the Andillous family on their clothes.
“Cobwebs can be found in both cellars and attics.”
“Not troglobiont cobwebs. They are only found in moist areas such as the Cully River canyon and on rare occasions, basements, if they’ve been extended deep into the rock of the cliffs behind the house.”
He smiled appreciatively at her observation. “That is most helpful.” He then returned to his crew.
She watched as they disappeared right before her eyes. She had heard the Ryders had suits that made them invisible. She had thought it was bullshit, just something to scare little drug-dealers out of a life of crime. Now she saw it was true. Her mind turned to working out how they did that.
A few minutes later, she heard the low rumble of a concussion bomb from within the building and the cliff behind it. Silence followed. Except for a few people near the building running like hell to get away, no one came out of the house. She worried about the Ryders. She should have mentioned the frat house might be well-armed, but then shouldn’t they expect that?
The Ryders reappeared in front of their gear. The captain, however, materialized beside her. He knelt and studied her with his intense blue eyes. Lots of guys took notice of her, but this was different. He seemed to be measuring her worth as an intelligent human being. “What’s your major?”
“Quantum Physics, and Mathematics.”
He nodded with approval and handed her a card. “Keep this card in case you ever want a career with the Corp. It will exempt you from years of screening.”
“Thanks, but I’m going to finish school and become a scientist.”
He smiled and stood up. “Good for you. We hire scientist, you know.” Then he rejoined his group and latched into his catcher. Upon his command, the squad soared into the sky as if they were puppets yanked from the story.
Just as they disappeared, a ping sounded from her laptop, alerting her she had mail. Cassie glanced at the email. It was from her father. She opened it, expecting him to explain why the funds for this semester had yet to arrive into the school’s account. She had already received a second notice. Upon reading the email, she understood why the money had not arrived. According to her father, her education had gone on long enough and it was time for her to take on adult responsibilities. A car would come for her at three today, and tomorrow she would be married to some man she had never met in her life.
She fingered the card in her hand. Life in the Corp sounded a hell of a lot better than her current future.
Links for many booksellers

About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, skydive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet throughout her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Reaper @valerieullmer

(A Dark Assassins Novel Book Two)
Valerie Ullmer

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

[ Buy Links ]

[ Author Interview ]

Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I don’t know if you would call it quirky, but there are several steps I have to go through before I start writing my book.  I write out all the ideas I have for story, then I write what if questions to try and fill in the holes that bother me, and after that, I outline using plot points.  All of this is written freehand.  Once I am finished with my outline, I enter it into Scrivener and go over it to see if I am missing anything and only then do I start writing.  Being so detailed oriented allows me to write the story faster and with fewer problems.

The biggest surprise you had after becoming a writer
That if you want to be a writer, you have to write.  For years, I studied different books on how to write a novel, how to be a romance writer, and everything under the sun on plotting, outlines, character arcs, you name it, I read about it.  But it wasn’t until I sat down and wrote my first book (which I have to admit it was horrible), that I realized that the only way you become a writer is to just write.  I still study material on writing, but nothing compares to putting something on the page.

A fun fact about writing your book
Well my entire Dark Assassins series has a completely different spin than most paranormal romances.  Vampires and shifters work together as immortal assassins, but they are also close to each other and care for one another.  They are family to one another.  Also, while they feel a pull to their mates, there isn’t an instant connection or automatic knowledge that they are meant for one another.

What you struggle the most with when you write the story
There is always a spot, usually around the first plot point or midpoint, when I notice there is a lack of conflict or tension between the characters.  I have to take a couple of days to work through it, but my story is always stronger after.  But it’s a little frustrating.

Which kind of scenes are the hardest for you to write? Action, dialogue, sex?
I would have to say action.  It drives me nuts when I read over an action or fight scene and it makes no sense.  Instead of writing too much, I tend to write very little and add more later.  I end up with a scene that lacks flow, and it takes me a bit to fix it, but it’s worth it.

How do you keep from resenting your duties and every human’s sleeping requirement when you have to stop writing to take care of them?
I’m very lucky that I have such a supportive husband who encourages me and my writing.  He also is very good and telling me when I need to quit or gives me encouragement when I need motivation to finish.  Errands and other responsibilities make for a good break from sitting in front of the computer, but I usually wait until my husband is with me.

How long does it take to write a story?
I learned the hard way to make an outline and to have as much information as possible before writing the story, so between outline and finishing the first draft, anywhere between 3 months for novellas or 6 for novels.

Pen or computer
Pen for outlining and computer for writing.

Music or silence
Music, silence drives me batty.

Alone or in public
Alone, while I love music I can’t stand low-level conversation, it’s very distracting.

Routine or when inspiration struck
Routine, every day, even on the weekends.  It’s like my favorite quote about writing.  “Waiting for inspiration to write is like standing at the airport waiting for a train.”

You were stranded on a deserted island and can have only 2 people with you, a person from your book and a person from any other book which would they be?
The only two people that come to mind is Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.  I think they are the epitome of love and it would be interesting to hear their conversations.  I love the characters in all my books, but it would be hard to pick only two.

Have you ever found someone in a story who’s exactly like you?
To be honest, no, I’ve never met a character that resembled me, but I have read author interviews and I have noticed that I have a lot of qualities that other authors have.  A wicked sense of humor, introverts, a love of reading, and a love of writing.

[ Blurb ]

A wolf-shifter and his powerful human.

Reaper had expected it to be an easy assignment. Break into a biotech facility with minimum security and rescue a group of immortals who were subject to deadly experiments and eliminate those who might try to fight back. But the moment he walked into the glass prison and spotted a human woman being held with the immortals, his mission changed.

She became his mission.

Before Reaper had a chance to explain that he was there to help her, she blinded him and the rest of his team and slipped away. Although she had escaped him, a protectiveness that he'd never felt washed over him, and he became determined to find her.

Ara has always depended on herself, but there was something about the shifter that made her want to trust him. She recognized him as someone who was capable of protecting her as well as understanding her secrets without turning her away, but before she could allow herself to trust him, she ran.

But with no resources and running out of ideas about how to protect herself, will she be able to lower her defenses and allow the shifter to help her?

[ Excerpt ]

Copyright © 2016 Valerie Ullmer

All of his muscles locked down as he scanned her, making sure that she hadn’t been hurt.  When he found her injury-free, he blew a sigh of relief.
Comparing the last memory he had of her, he took note that she had lost even more weight from her time on the run.  Her body, clothed in scrubs that were similar to the pair she wore close to a month before, hung loosely on her curvy frame.
Before he could rein it in, a low growl of disapproval slipped past his lips.  Either too tired or determined to get into the house, she missed the noise.
He kept his gaze on her as she ran up the porch and hesitated a moment, before she waved a hand in front of the door.  When the door unlocked, she pushed her way in and closed it behind her.  He heard the distinct click of the lock sliding back into place.
Although he wanted to rush after her, scoop her up, and take her home while she would be too tired to launch him down the block, instinct told him to wait.  If he found her, then someone else could’ve as well.
Less than five minutes after she entered the house, a figure emerged from the woods several yards from where he stood.  Without disguising his movements, the man ran up to the porch and jiggled the doorknob.  His amateur actions covered the noise of Reaper’s advance.
As Reaper stood feet away from eliminating the new threat, a male voice erupted through the man’s earpiece, making the asshole jump.  Reaper paused and listened to the angry voice.
“Have you got her yet?”
Instead of answering, the stupid git removed the offending object from his ear and stomped on it.  “I’m going to kill that bitch when I get a hold of her.”
Reaper waited until the man went back to his futile attempt at picking the lock before he unsheathed a knife from his thigh.  Not giving his target time to make any more progress on the lock, he stepped forward and wrapped a hand around the man’s mouth and nose, silencing his shout of surprise.  Rage filled Reaper at how close this man had gotten to her.  So with precise movements, he drove the knife into the man’s chest to the hilt and twisted.  The man was dead within a matter of seconds.
He hid the body on the side of the porch.  The bushes would prevent anyone from the street happening upon him.  After the woman was secured in his home, he would call for a cleanup crew to make the body disappear.
Reaper hadn’t been surprised that they caught up to her, and he knew that this one man’s incompetence didn’t mean that whoever chased her would make the same mistake twice.  He had to rush before the man in the earpiece realized that his colleague lay dead.
Stepping up to the door, he placed his hands, several inches apart, and pressed until the locks gave way.  He slid inside without a sound before shutting the door.  Taking a deep breath to get a trace on where she might have gone, he was surprised because it seemed as the entire house smelled of her.  Light and sweet.
He darted from room to room.  They were running out of time before they were discovered.  Desperation clawed at his chest as he found each one empty.  At the top of the stairs, he paused when a faint cry reached him.  Unsure of where the sound came from, he wandered farther down the hall, hoping that the sound would repeat.
Mumbles and whines of pain came through the door farthest away from the master bedroom.  As he opened the door, the floor beneath him started to shake, which intensified the closer he moved into the room.  Not knowing what had caused the house to move, his need to protect her ramped up.

[ About Author ]

Valerie writes romances.
Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotic, and M/M.
She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab, Maddie.  Valerie is addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character-driven romances.
As a voracious reader, she’s believes that all writers are rock stars, and she hopes that people enjoy her stories as much as she loves the romance novels she’s devoured over the years!
When she’s not writing or learning about the craft of writing, she can be found surfing the internet way too much, watching Investigation Discovery and thinking that her neighbors are up to no good, and finding new ways to get her husband to laugh.
She loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at, Facebook at, or Twitter

[ Social Media ]

Monday, October 14, 2019

Naktmerie's Monster by CeeRee Fields

Naktmerié's Monster
By CeeRee Fields

New Adult Fantasy Romance

Blurb ~

Sometimes the future is a path set in the hardest of stone and can only be altered by love.

Oneyroi D'Naktmerié is a product of the Northern Installation, designed to be the stuff of nightmares. At fourteen his abilities proved deadly, and he shuts them away terrified of how uncontrollable his power is. He refuses to bond as that could unleash the dangerous abilities constantly roiling inside of him. Taking refuge in the village of Ketewah, Naktmerié's only pleasure now is spending the night with whatever willing woman catches his eye. Never spending more than one night with each.

Until he meets Shae, the Speyressa of Uanty.

Shae sees the future. All the paths in a person's life. But there is one vision that has haunted her since she was a child. One that she's done everything in her power to prevent. Choices make up the paths, and she's forced to choose between allowing Naktmerié to be kidnapped or the destruction and enslavement of the human race. She chooses to protect the human race and seals her fate as well as his.

Betrayed by the first woman he's ever opened up to, Naktmerié returns to Ketewah after freeing himself from the Flesh Traders. Months later he discovers the path Shae began all those years ago didn't end with his kidnapping; instead, it ends with her death and Naktmerié is the only one who can save her. Can he trust her enough to form the mental bond that will save her? Or will a forced bond drive her to madness?

Book Trailer ~

Buy Link ~


Nakt relaxed onto the wooden lounger near the river and checked that the fishing pole was stable in its holder. Satisfied, he took his bottle of beer from the cup holder and drank as he fell into the peace he'd found after months of hard work.

After the debacle with Shae, Nakt had needed the stabilization. It'd taken him weeks of working with Kaos to reach a place where he could relax without accidentally sending his energy out and giving those nearest him living nightmares. How the higher powers ever thought she'd fit him, or that he deserved someone like that back-stabbing witch he'd never understand. And more power to that place if they wanted someone who decided whose life was worth living and whose was worth dying.

If he'd remained longer, he'd have fallen for her, her strength of character. Her compassion as she listened and guided the various people who sought her out and her single-mindedness when she was on a mission. Her determination to make sure each prisoner was brought to justice fairly.

It'd all been a facade. While her acolytes remained brainwashed. He'd had his eyes opened to the truth when he woke up in that cell. Flesh traders who wanted to pass him to Norwyna.

And his potential bonded had been the one to set the whole damned thing up. Maybe he should have given her a chance to explain, but then again they weren't friends. It'd only been about the sex, never about their potential bonding.

A hefty sigh pulled Nakt from his musings, and he rolled his head to the side. "Zev, man, hey. Didn't know you all were back yet."

They'd left over three months ago to attend Michael's new judgment then had taken a longer route back to Ketewah so they could do their foraging runs in the fallen cities before winter hit. Nakt had declined the invitation to go with them to the judgment. He was finally in a good place mentally, and after coming clean about his father's death, Draper and Kaos were assisting him in harnessing his abilities instead of just bottling them up behind a wall and never using them.

Sadness and worry rolled off Zev as he met Nakt's gaze. This man Nakt understood better than anyone else. His brothers all had a bit of darkness in them, but enough light to be able to trust others. Zev held a deep darkness, and his beast thrashed just beneath his skin. There'd been many a night neither man had slept; they would end up outside the Defenders' house talking well into the dawn.

"So, is Michael dead?"

"Yes," Zev answered his fingers tracing the three scars that sliced across his face.

"What is it? Shae stir up another hornet's nest? Send one of our own into another trap to be caught for Norwyna's amusement?"

"No," Zev replied, a scowl replacing the contemplative look.

"Then what?"

"I don't know. She wasn't there."

"Wasn't there? But she was the one that had to be there to pass judgment, she was the one that couldn't come to the MFZ to show the leaders what had happened—"

"They had a video. A video of Michael's actions, and a recited list of broken laws and the punishment for each in her voice. But no, she wasn't there. And it was weird—"

"So, this is where the nightmare calls home," a voice dripping with derision said from behind Nakt. His hand wrapped around the handle of his whip as he lunged from the chair and spun to confront the intruder.

"Kamolien? What the hell are you doing here?" he asked with a sneer.

"Delivering a message from Quaan." Kam held up a gridchip and tossed it his way.

He caught it automatically before throwing it back. "I want nothing from that vacking place."

Instead of catching it they both stepped back.

"Want it or not. Look at it or not. We don't really care. It took us over a month to find this damned village after you left. Betrayed her by getting—" Shalon cutoff as his twin sister jabbed him in the stomach.

She turned to face Nakt, her contempt a surprise. Of everyone in Shae's village this woman and her brother had been not quite friends but not enemies. "I'm not the one who betrayed anyone. She betrayed me—" He jabbed a finger toward the QZ.

"Yes, so it would appear. A plague crouched in our minds I think was the term you used. And I thank the gods she never heard it." Kamolien shrugged. 

"We've done our duty. You have the last of her now."

"The last of her? Not until she's dead and gone. She'll find a way to force me—"

Snarling, the brother pushed into Nakt's space. "As I said, the last of her, Nightmare. You who are so aptly named have destroyed everything. Given a gift and tossed it aside at the first test."

Pain lanced into him. "She's dead? Impossible. She sees everything."

"So she does. And so she did. Come on, Kam I'm tired of this place. Nothing but vacking ghosts here." Shalon spun on his heel.

"Kam? Is it true?"

Her dark eyes met Nakt's, and she shrugged. "By now? I don't know. It depends on the glass..." she shook her head. "It depends. She didn't want you to have that message until after—but Quaan asked us to deliver it sooner. He thought maybe knowing we were coming to you she'd hold on longer, but I don't know she wasn't doing well..." she kept trailing off as if unsure what to share. "We got lost after our transport to Icaria dropped us off and wandered for a while. Your village is not easy to find." She turned to follow her brother. "I'm sorry, Nakt. Maybe someday you'll find another as you were never bonded to her. It is unfortunate that Shae, however, bonded you."

Author Bio ~

I'm a geek, a gamer, a music lover, and a voracious reader. I love Star Trek and B-grade movies like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Sharknado. I enjoy figuring out software and learning new things and applying them to whatever book I'm currently working on.

I write romantic adventures. Mostly, I live vicariously through my characters. I can be a knife-wielding forager who saves her family from deadly kidnappers or a slinky thief who must outmaneuver her sadistic cousin. My male characters aren't cookie-cutter either. There's so much diversity in the world that one size does not fit all. It's the same for love. My male characters are diverse. I have several he-men, alpha types, but I also have nerds in glasses who can kickass when needed, whether in a board room or in a parking garage. I have characters who are blind and some who have lost a limb putting their lives on the line to save others.

The one thing they all have in common is they are people who learn to move past their hurdles and find love.

I can be found at: