Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Snippet: A Gentle Valor


Okay, only one more episode of Orphan Black and my current obsession will be on hiatus. EEK! I'm definitely planning a full rewatch marathon so catch all the little nuances I'm sure I missed. J

Tonight's post is from A Gentle Valor, which doesn't involve clones, but it does have a similar theme of breeding the next upgrade to the human race. The heroine is forced to commit a horrific act and the fallout haunts her until she has a chance to redeem herself.

Here's the tagline:

Aggie Fyffe makes an impossible decision and survives a hellish experience. Haunted by her choice, she faces her demons with a little help from Zane Tetherson and earns a chance for redemption.

And here's the sneaky peek…

Aggie Fyffe stood, stunned, staring in horror at the sight in front of her. Women, so many women, hooked up to machines, tubes running to and fro like a spider's web. All in various stages of gestation, she had no idea if any could be saved. Swallowing down bile, she shuffled further into the lab on numb feet that tried to fight forward progress. She didn't blame them. Her brain might not be able to handle a closer look.
Give her a rifle, hell, any weapon, and she could shoot to defend, maim, or kill. The sight of blood didn't faze her. Gaping wounds, lost limbs, or severed arteries barely blipped in her mind. Combat had hardened her against it.
But the sight of the women?
Chilled her to her soul.
She edged closer to the first bed and bit back a curse. (Describe the visage. Unconscious, maybe comatose, her distended abdomen had to be in the final stages of pregnancy. Aggie had no idea how close to delivery the woman might be, but it couldn't be long off. What the hell happened to the infants? Aggie decided she probably didn't want to know.
Her eyes scanned the row of beds. Nine total. Logic suggested one for each month of pregnancy. Why? Again, her brain shied away from possible answers. Movement from the farthest bed caught her attention. Maybe she'd imagined it. She hoped so. Would be better for the women if they weren't awake and aware.
She slowly made her way to the last bed…oh, shit. The woman's eyes blinked, tears spilling out. Addie knew her, not well, but she ran one of the shops on their home world. Betsy Morehead, a nice lady who liked to sew.
Aggie edged up to the bed and Betsy's eyes met hers. Pain-filled and agonized, they beseeched Aggie to remove the tube so Betsy could speak. Aggie gingerly lifted the device and gently tore the tape away. Out of her element, she hoped she didn't cause harm. Putting a gun in the woman's hand would be easier.
Betsy gagged when the tube slid free, coughing and sputtering until her lungs filled with air.
She grabbed hold of Aggie's hand, her grip weak. "Thank you." Her voice croaked, but she got the words out.
Aggie squeezed Betsy's fingers. "What's going on? Why are you here?" Stupid question, but if she didn't get Betsy talking, Aggie would freak out.
The machines and tubes pressed in on her like a weight, a sick feeling crawled up her spine, and her head didn't want to believe what her gut knew.
Betsy swallowed hard. "You have to know. Or guess." Her eyes slid shut and Aggie's heart went out to her.
"Why?" Aggie needed to hear it. To have her suspicions confirmed.

Even with the darker subject matter, this one is a joy to write. Aggie's conflict is challenging to portray on the page and I love a good challenge. J

That's it for this week. Catch everyone on the flip.

ML Skye

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Snippets: Game of One


I've got yet another television show I’m obsessed with: Orphan Black. Seriously, it's one of the best written shows out there right now. The thing I love best? They NEVER do exactly what I think they will. I LOVE THAT!! I think they'll fall into the old trap of taking the obvious choice and BAM! They go completely off the rails with something totally unexpected. Sarah and Paul have a very twisted attraction that just works…even when it shouldn't. LOL

Anyway, tonight's post is from Game of One, a short novella featuring one of my favorite things: Friends who become lovers. J

Here's the tagline:

Lacie Brooks' annual Valentine's Day tradition of getting laid and letting off steam is cut short when she shoots her mouth off to the wrong superior officer. Stuck on base, she finds a way to pass her restricted time with Ren Blankenship by playing a Game of One. Too bad for Lacie, Ren decides to turn the tables on her and win for a change.

And the sneaky peek…

Halfway through the paperwork, it occurred to Ren that Lacie would miss her annual tradition of picking up a one night bootie call wouldn't happen this year. Might not be a bad thing. She'd had five years to let go of Chuck. Then again, so had he.
And yet Ren wouldn't act on the sexual attraction hovering just under the surface with Lacie. Part of that had to do with how they'd met. And some of it had to do with enjoying the back and forth with her. They discussed hooking up on a regular basis, but always in a teasing manner. Neither had been willing to take a step to no return. Lacie wanted a friend she could count on and Ren filled the bill.
Ren held back because Lacie needed balance. Someone who'd have her back as often as they got in her face when she needed it. He'd been in on as many pranks she pulled as he'd been on the receiving end. They made a wicked good team. But he'd also go toe to toe with her when she crossed boundaries she shouldn't. She'd do the same for him…if he ever stepped over the line, which he didn't.
The tendency to be exasperating and frustrating, all part of Lacie's appeal. He might be a glutton for that kind of punishment, but rarely did he ever suffer boredom when she happened to be around. From the day he met her, she'd knocked him off balance and showed him new ways to look at things.
His lips quirked. Anyone who'd seen them the day of Chuck's funeral wouldn't have believed they'd end up as great friends. Monica and Doug held a gathering after his burial at Chuck's favorite tavern. Lacie sat at the bar downing shots, one by one, until she practically weaved back and forth on the barstool. At least a dozen glasses lined the wood top in front of her.
Ren didn't realize her connection to Chuck. He'd been stationed off planet when Chuck bought it in a skirmish he shouldn't have been involved in. Chuck told Ren he'd found someone, the someone, and couldn't wait to introduce his best friend to the woman who made life awesome.
Resembling a lush more than an incredible specimen of womanhood, the lady at the bar offended Ren's sense of decorum.
"You should leave. You don't belong here."
She swung her head around and tilted it sideways, tried to focus on his voice. "And why not?" Her words slurred together slightly, but she licked her lips and blew out a breath. "Why shouldn't I belong?" She blinked and seemed surprised she sounded almost normal.
Ren frowned. "Because this gathering is to honor a great man. You're being disrespectful to his memory."
She sniffed. "A great man." Her head bobbed up and down. "Yes. A very great man." Her hand reached for the next shot and she flung it down her throat.
Ren lowered his voice. "Look. I don't know who you—"
Her hand shot out and grabbed his arm in a surprisingly strong grip. "Everything hurts. I hurt." She dropped the shot glass on the bar. "And I can't make it go away." Her gaze met his and the pain in it knocked him back. "I…he…we…" Her eyes slid closed. "I don't know how to make it stop." Her slim fingers rubbed back and forth along her forehead, trying to soothe an ache that couldn't be eased.
It hit Ren. Her identity. "Lacie?"
She lifted her head, eyes watery and bleak. "What? Oh, right. I shouldn't be here." She wobbled on the stool and eyed the last shot on the bar.
A shudder went through her and she tried to slide off her perch. Ren hooked an arm around her and swung the other under her legs before she hit the floor. Lifting her easily, he headed for the exit.
"Hey. Put me down. Who are you?" She squirmed and tried to wriggle out of his arms. "Put. Me. Down." She bucked and struggled against his hold. "Where are you taking—" She tensed. "Oh…God…I'm gonna heave."
Ren made it out the door just in time. Lacie turned her head and puked the alcohol all over the parking lot. He carried her several feet away and crouched down, settling her on a bench outside the bar.
He handed her a handkerchief. "Feel better?"
She wiped her mouth and shook her head. "Not really. No." Her gaze met his. "You're Ren, aren't you?" Her lips quivered. "Please tell me you're Ren."
He nodded. Didn't trust himself to say anything. He felt like an ass for berating her.
She tried to keep it together, but her face contorted and a sob escaped. Ren moved up to sit beside her, wrapping an arm around her shaking shoulders. He let her cry it out. Figured she'd been holding it in and needed the cathartic treatment.
In a moment of shared grief, a friendship developed. He took Lacie home and got her settled in bed. He stuck around, crashed out on her couch. She got up the next morning and apologized for almost throwing up on him. Ren grinned over the memory. Not exactly the way he envisioned meeting the woman who completed his best friend's life. After she swallowed about four painkillers, Lacie insisted he stay and let her cook breakfast for him. He agreed if she'd allow him to assist.
They put together a huge mean. Lacie informed him Chuck taught her everything she knew and Ren shared the funniest stories of Monica teaching 'her boys' the finer skills in the kitchen. She didn't want either one to burden some poor woman with a need to feed them. Lacie shared lots of great memories and over omelets, bacon, homemade cinnamon rolls and fresh squeezed juice, they got to know each other.
Ren left that afternoon with a promise to keep in touch and made an effort to call and drop in when he had time. Lacie transferred to his base a year or so later and they had an easy camaraderie together. She made a damn good lead pilot and helped pull more inexperienced pilots up through the program.
If only she'd tone down the crazy antics. And the smart mouth. Her natural ability kept her in the good graces of the brass on base, but every once in a while she stepped over the line. If he didn't happen to be there to smooth ruffled feathers, she ended up spending time in the brig or had her passes revoked.
He should probably check in with her, let her know he'd be around. Nah, he'd hit the rec room. Sooner or later she'd make her way there. Gathering up the daily report, he filed it and grabbed his fitreps. Might as well work ahead while he waited.

Ren does indeed find Lacie in the rec room and a lovely Game of One ensues. I'll say Lacie is completely caught off guard and leave it at that. LOL

That's it for this week. Catch everyone on the flip.

ML Skye

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Snippet: Flesh and Bone

Happy Mother's Day to all the awesome moms out there!

If I'd been thinking ahead, I would have tried to have something put together featuring relationships with a mother and child. Sadly, I didn't think about it until now. J

Tonight's post is from Flesh and Bone, which will have a nice mother/daughter dynamic, but it's also a prime part of the conflict and might give too much away. L I've really enjoyed getting into this work because the idea of artificial intelligence gaining cognitive abilities and becoming self-aware really fascinates me.

Here's the tagline:

An AI that spouts philosophical mumbo jumbo, a past that may not be all it seems, and a link between both sends Peta Jones on quest to figure out the truth. It's a good thing she's got Abe Cantrell along to act as her voice of reason.

And here's the sneaky peek…

Peta Jones couldn't breathe. Her prisoner had a firm, deadly grip around her throat and no air could enter her lungs. And, Great Maker, it had happened fast. One moment they faced each other across a table and the next her back hit the wall and her feet left the floor. She struggled against the attack, but couldn't kick out. The prisoner used his free hand to drag the overturned table between them, pinning her in.
And crushing the hell out of her knee. Between the lack of oxygen and the sharp, stabbing pain radiating out from her kneecap, Peta had tears leaking out the corner of her eyes.
She could hang on. She heard the marines pounding on the hatch. They'd blow it any moment to get inside.
Or the prisoner could snap her neck before they had a chance.
"Put her down! Right now. Now!"
A marine sergeant, Danvers if she remembered correctly, and two lance corporals surrounded the prisoner, weapons primed and ready.
She hit the floor in a heap, striking her hip on the table on the way down. Dragging air into her burning lungs, she watched the prisoner offer no resistance when the soldiers shoved him face first to the deck. Shaken, knee throbbing, hip stinging, Peta jumped when the sergeant gripped her shoulder.
"Medic's on the way. Sit tight, Lieutenant."
She gave a jerky nod, the only she could manage with her throat feeling so raw. Danvers stepped in front of her, securing the prisoner with a titanium steel tether. So far, the only thing that worked on the AIs. They could break free from or wriggle out of everything else with a little work.
The prisoner looked her squarely in the eye. "Say my name, Peta."
A rifle butt to his head didn't deter him.
He laughed and found her gaze again. "Say. My. Name."
Danvers stooped down, snarling in his face. "Shut up. You do not speak to or look at the lieutenant. Understood?"
The AI briefly flicked his gaze toward the sergeant and then upward. He didn't have to see her to continue. "Say it, Peta."
Her hand rubbed gently at her throat and she winced, the bruised skin tender under her fingertips. He wanted recognition, status. She'd been ordered not to give it to him.
Too bad she didn't always follow orders.
"Be—" Her voice croaked and when she swallowed it felt like shards of glass slipping downward. She welcomed the discomfort. It made her more determined to name the bastard and call him enemy. "Bensalem." She struggled to her knees, the injured one all but screaming out when she put pressure on it.
Drawing in a shuddery breath, she repeated, voice stronger. "Bensalem." She swallowed, ignoring the burning sensation. "Ben-sa-lem." Peta leaned in, just a little. "A name is just a word. It has no power."
The AI met her gaze. "But you'll remember mine, won't you, Peta?" He flinched when the butt of a rifle landed between his shoulder blades.
Peta swallowed again finally able to build up enough saliva for her next action. "Yeah, I'll remember." She spit in his face. "With fondness."
She jerked her head toward the exit and the marines dragged the AI away. As soon as they rounded the corner of the door, she collapsed, reaction and pain hitting her in one big wave. She stifled a sob, refusing to cave under the watchful eye of the monitors. A moment later, capable hands scooped her up and loaded her onto a gurney. She had no idea which medics wheeled her away, but crossing the threshold into the corridor brought instant relief.
Felt good to get out of the suffocating and noxious atmosphere of the interrogation room. Felt even better to let her eyes slide closed and shut out her utter failure.
The best thing? Breathing. Deep, soothing, calming inhalations. In. Out. Nice and slow.
The not so best thing? Trying not to freak out about how much the stupid AI—Bensalem One—knew about her personal life.
Peta had a feeling the revelations had only just started. There'd be more and she didn't quite know if she could handle it. But she'd try to be ready.
Once the gates were opened they rarely got shut.

Peta's journey isn't going to be easy, but she's got an excellent support team in place with Abe Cantrell and his grandfather. Exploring how she deals with everything she learns and giving her a safe place to pick up the pieces has been a joy to write.

That's it for this week. Catch everyone on the flip side.

ML Skye

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Snippet: Organic Chemistry - Civil Revolution Book Two

Wow, some gorgeous weather today. I love having a true spring with mild temperatures and lovely breezes, instead of a chilly thirty degrees one day and eighty-five with loads of humidity the next. LOL

Today's post is from the second book in the Civil Revolution saga. Organic Chemistry features the same folks from Bad Chemistry but the focus is on Dom and Etta's relationship. Etta is a fascinating character to write and she speaks very loud and clear when I try to go in a direction she doesn't like. LOL I wish all my characters had such strong opinions. :D

Here's the tagline:

Dominic Marinelli and Etta Morgan meet under very difficult circumstances, but form a relationship built on one basic need: sex. When Etta decides to strike out on her own, Dom has to figure out why it bothers him so much.

And here's the sneaky peek…

The walls of the former spa turned way station for refugees closed in on him. He snagged his jacket, turned and bumped into Etta Morgan.
Literally, almost knocking her on her ass.
"Damn. Sorry." His free hand reached out to steady her. "You okay?"
Etta laughed lightly. "I'm fine. Fine." Her fingers were warm when they closed over his bicep.
Kind of like her eyes when she looked at him.
"I wasn't paying attention." Her hand slid down to his forearm and rested there.
Dom stepped back a little, needing some space, but didn't try to shake her hand free. Etta looked over his shoulder, her gaze landing on Lex and Char then dropping down to the jacket in his other hand.
A brief shadow of something entered the depths of her eyes and her mouth flattened to a thin line. But only for a moment. She let go of his arm and smiled brightly in his direction.
"I'm glad I found you…" She angled her head in the direction she'd come from. "Do you have a minute? Or are you heading out?"
Damn. He really wanted to escape into the shadowy dusk. He felt honor bound to assist her though.
His mouth turned up in a brief smile. "I've got more than one if you need it." He flung his jacket over the back of a chair.
Etta's eyes crinkled with a genuine smile. "I promise I won't keep you long." Spinning around she led him to her room and pushed open the door. It hung slightly lopsided and Dom figured out what she needed him for.
Resetting the hinge.
Etta dug into her back pocket and produced the missing pin.
Ding. Ding. Ding. He'd totally called that one.
"This spa is a great place to crash for a few days, but the eight foot doors are just a tad above my reach." She lifted her gaze and jerked her head upward. "Would you mind?"
Dom took the pin from her outstretched hand. "Not at all." She lifted up on the door and lined up the slots of the oversized hinge.
He slid the rod home and swung the door back and forth a few times to make sure it would hold. "Thanks." The assistance hadn't been necessary, but he appreciated it.
Etta grasped the handle and pushed the door shut. Then she turned and pressed her back against it.
"They're perfect together."
He didn't have to ask who she meant, but he so did not want to talk about it.
He frowned. "Yeah, I know." His voiced sounded harsh, even to his own ears. He should probably work on that.
"Why not let it go? Hook-up with someone else?"
Dom shot her a sideways look. "You volunteering?"
Etta shrugged. "I might be." She eyed him up and down. "You interested?"
He swept appraising eyes over her from head to toe. She had a certain rough beauty. Sorta raw and sensual, enough to make his dick twitch under his jeans.
Right. He wouldn't be going down that road again.
He sighed. "Even if I were, I wouldn't be." A hard on didn't make him stupid. She looked the type to tease, tempt and walk away.
Actually she looked offended before her eyes dropped to the bulge in his pants.
"Why not?" An arched brow worked for her. The slightly triumphant gleam in her eyes didn't.
Dom cut to the chase. "You don’t wanna be a substitute. Don't you deserve better?"
She rolled her eyes. "It's not about what I deserve. I'm WAY past that."
Baffled, Dom queried. "Then why make an offer that'll open you up to abuse? Because right now—with me—that's what it would be."
Her laughter caught him by surprise.
"Abuse? Really?" She walked around him, putting her hands on his arms, grasping at the muscles of his biceps. "Because you don't feel all tender and gooey toward me?" She snorted. "Not exactly what I'm looking for."
Okay. She had him intrigued.
"What, exactly, are you looking for?"
"Something hot, hard, dirty, and fast." Her gaze flicked up and down, lingering just a moment too long on his crotch. "Three outta four isn't bad. I'd take it."
Dom gave her a tight smile. "And which one do I fall short on?"
She smirked. "For all your big, bad talk of abuse, I seriously doubt you have it in you to be as dirty as I want." Shrugging she turned away. "But I can live with—"

Yeah, sorry, gonna leave it right there. LOL Needless to say, Etta pushes just the right button to get a reaction from Dom. Seriously, delicious fun to write her. :D

That's it for this week. Catch everyone on the flip!

ML Skye