Preview (Triggered by Love)

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Fashion Designer Avery Cockburn lost everything in one New York minute. Her fireman fiance was gunned down next to her and her business is in shambles.

NYPD Detective Jason Burnett shot the killer and saved Avery’s life, but a year later, he still has no leads and the case has gone cold. He believes Avery is still in danger so he stalks her — to the gun range, through clubs and parks, and hopefully into her heart.

Chapter One

Avery Cockburn was on top of the world.

Here she was, twenty-six years old.

Manhattan Fashion Week and her very first show under her own label.

Her models strutted on the runway, and the fashion press was going gaga over her daring designs.

Haute couture with a wicked flair.

Her longtime boyfriend, fireman Brando Bonet, fidgeted with his suit jacket and tie, and she hung onto his arm.

They’d take the trademark ramp walk together, trailing the last model and accept the accolades of her fans, competitors, the press, and industry buyers gathered at the base of the runway.

“Ready?” She graced his handsome visage with an encouraging and adoring smile.

She loved this man. How could she not?

He’d saved her life. She was a complete stranger and a nobody back then—a design student staying late at her drafting table when a fire broke out at the institute.

Ivanna, her model wrangler, signaled her. “It’s looking good out there. And, you’re on.”

Striding in a more subdued gait than the slinky models, Avery placed one slender leg in front of the other, letting the slit of her off-shoulder evening gown part, barely. Her steps were in between mincing and assertive, and beside her, Brando’s hunky fireman’s body was solid and fluid like a symphony of testosterone and alpha manhood forged with power.

The applause and cheers were deafening as they walked out onto the runway. The spotlight heated her face enough to draw tiny prickles of sweat, but Avery was safe underneath her makeup. The heady, spicy scent of Brando’s cologne was enough to invigorate her from the stage fright she suffered—unbeknownst to her colleagues.

This was her moment of glory. She had nothing to be afraid of. It was her hometown crowd, and she was the hometown favorite. With Brando at her side, she’d foregone her anti-anxiety meds. She could do it.

Brando shined a proud and admiring glance on her, bucking up her spirits. They strode past the applauding models to the end of the runway. The cheers were deafening over the electronic pulses of techno music, and the plethora of photographic flashes shot stars into her eyes.

“We did it,” she whispered, glancing up at her hunky hero.

“Love you,” his mouth formed the words.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

“Get down!” A man’s voice roared, followed by more popping sounds.

Avery tumbled off the runway. Pain showered her, punching the breath out of her and slamming her ribs. Her head thumped onto a hard surface, and her arms and legs flailed helter-skelter.

A collective scream arose around her with the sounds of chairs toppling and footsteps running. Avery pushed and shoved underneath a big, heavy body.

“Brando. Brando,” she cried, unable to see past the red blurring her vision. Hot, sticky blood dripped over her, and she could taste the salty tang in her mouth.

The heavy man weighed over her, still warm, but silent. The coppery scent of blood overpowered the manly cologne, but Avery knew every inch of her lover’s body.

“No! No! No!” her screams rose in a wail of anguish. She didn’t have to listen for a pulse to know there was none. No breath, no heartbeat, not a single muscle twitch.

What happened? Why?

She held onto him, moaning, sobbing. “I love you. I didn’t get to tell you. I love you. Come back. Come back. You can’t leave me. My love. I owe you. It should have been me.”

“Man down,” someone shouted close by, but she already knew.

A fusillade of what she now recognized as gunshots followed. Shells clicked to the floor, and a strong hand yanked her from underneath her precious Brando’s body.

“No, no, no!” She was reduced to a single word. “No, no, no, no, no.”

Pop. Pop. Pop.

“You got to get out of here.” The stranger wrapped her slender body with one arm while shooting at the same time.

“No, no, no!” She struggled and clawed at his face, hands, anything.

Bullets whizzed by her, but strangely she didn’t care. She turned her head, looking back through the red mist. Brando’s eyes were still open. He lay on his stomach with his arms spread out. He’d protected her, and she was soaked with his blood.

“No!” Avery’s wail was thin and forlorn. “No …”

“Get down.” The man shoved Avery through a doorway and fired off more shots. “Got him.”

He spoke into a shoulder mic and holstered his gun.

“You killed him.” Avery kicked him with the heel of her stiletto. “You killed my Brando. Who are you?”

“Officer Jason Burnett, NYPD.”


Watch for Triggered by Love some time in 2020. [Avery’s friends have novellas in the same world as the REVISED (2018) Leap, Laugh, Love and Blush of Love.]

Writing from the Villain’s Point of View

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A romantic suspense is supposed to deliver equal doses of love, attraction, desire and sex along with spine-tingling fear, adventure, and a walk in the dark side of forbidden passions.

My new series, Desiring Danger, explores the dark side of passion, the thin line between passion and obsession. There’s a dark side in all of us, and whether we mean it or not, our strongest desires bleed over the edge when something we want is just out of grasp.

The fun and scary part for the writer is to immerse and discover these dark and forbidden emotions, then magnify and act on them through the story. Sometimes, what’s hidden in the shadows is the very force that drives the story forward, makes the characters take the largest risks, and slams them when they least expect it.

In this series, I include short snippets from the villain as they stalk that which they also most desire. Love Will Stay, Book 1 and Taking Me Back, Book 2 both start this way.

Here’s an excerpt from Book 3, my work in progress, All You Want, where town busybody, Tami King, has her eyes on the handsome but aloof sheriff, while a stalker has his eyes on her.

Chapter One of All You Want, Book 3 in the Desiring Danger Series

He hates her guts, but he’s a patient man.

He doubts she even remembers him.

He was aware of her before he could even speak. He lurked near her crib, and he hid in her closets. She was loud and bold, the little princess born with a golden spoon in her mouth.

His mother made him be nice to her, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t hate her. So he bided his time, and he did things to her that she’ll never know about.

Oh, they were small victories. Tiny things. Like the time he brushed her toothbrush on his ass, and the poison ivy he rolled her pajamas in. He was careful to cover his tracks, and even though his mother suspected and she warned him with her frightened eyes, she never knew how much he hated that blond little fairy with the sapphire blue eyes.

He grits his teeth and grinds his molars, clenching his fists until his knuckles would pop. He kneels on the damp earth and brushes the pine needles off his mother’s tiny gravestone.

“Oh, isn’t she the prettiest girl you ever laid eyes on,” Mooma would say while ironing and folding the little monster’s many dresses. She was always buttering up her employers with her constant praise and adulation of the pampered puffybutt. It was a wonder anyone could breathe when all the hot air went to pumping up the prissy petunia’s poufy head.

The tinkling of the piano would draw him to the window, and he’d press his forehead against it to stare at her. He wasn’t allowed to stare or speak to her after his voice turned, and he was relegated out to the barn. But his mother always kept him apprised of the princess’s many accomplishments.

Her flowing hair was light as wheat, and the blue in her eyes were those of an enchanting goddess. The sparkling tones of the piano tinkled and plinked like a colorful waterfall of crystal bells, and rays of sunlight enfolded her like a golden bath showering her from heaven.

A kick on the seat of his pants sent him sprawling. His mother was always cross with him. “Get back to work, you lazy bum. They raised the rent again, and I’m working my fingers to the bone for you.”

He picked up the ax and hefted the weight in his hand. How easy it would be to blot her beauty with ugly, dark-red spurts of blood.

But he was a patient man, and patience was a virtue.

One day, the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

He raised the sharp axe, swung it high and hard.

Thwack.

A wedge of hard oak exploded into splinters.

He kisses the cold, dead gravestone and vows to his mother. “This is for you, Mooma. This is for you.”