Sunday, July 1, 2012

Welcome to my temporary Web site

My poor Web site is in the ICU, so until it's feeling better, I hope to provide enough info here to answer any questions you might have about my books.

Flash Heat
True Vision (True #1, 2011 Daphne du Maurier and HOLT Medallion winner)
True Colors (True #2, 2012 RITA finalist)
True Shot (True #3, 2012 RITA finalist)
Found Wanting
Caught in the Act (2004 RITA finalist)
Relative Strangers

Thanks for stopping by!
Joyce

True Vision (2011 Daphne du Maurier winner)

Newspaper reporter Charlie Trudeau is living an ordinary life, until witnessing a fatal hit-and-run accident gives her an intense psychic power she has no clue how to handle—and brings a Chicago police detective to her doorstep...

Noah Lassiter wants nothing more than to find the driver who killed his good friend. But his only lead is the beautiful Charlie Trudeau, who gets prickly when he starts nosing around town. Charlie’s clearly hiding something, but Noah needs her help unraveling the mystery of his friend’s death—even if the electricity between them complicates things.

But the more Noah and Charlie uncover, the more they realize they’re looking for a desperate killer—and the more danger they’re in. And if Charlie can’t gain control over her psychic powers, they may not survive long enough to explore the full sizzling potential of their desire …

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Excerpt of True Vision

Chapter 1

Reporter Charlie Trudeau stood on the curb and stared at the stoplight that glowed red in the March sunshine. This was her life at the moment. Ready to make a difference but waiting for someone else to give the green light.

The latest story she burned to get into the newspaper, about elderly residents getting ripped off, had been shot down before she’d even gotten the words “local car dealer” out of her mouth. The managing editor had squinted at her over his rimless glasses and growled, “Don’t even go there.”

So much for journalists being the public watchdog. The drive for advertising revenue had changed much of the newspaper industry from a Rottweiler cornering the bad guy into a fluffy toy poodle begging for a treat. Which meant that using her job to help the innocent, helpless and screwed wasn’t going to happen, at least not in Southwest Florida at the Lake Avalon Gazette.

“Charlotte?”

Charlie looked up, surprised as much by the sound of the voice as the name. No one but her mother called her that. She glanced behind herself, checking to make sure the woman had indeed waved at her. Which was silly, really, to think that another woman with the same given name would be standing right behind her.

“Charlotte!”

The woman hurried across the street toward her. The rev of an engine startled Charlie out of her confusion, and in the next instant, a sporty white car sped full-bore into the intersection, and into the smiling pedestrian. Charlie lurched forward a step, watching in stunned horror as the woman’s body pitched across the car’s hood, struck the windshield with a horrible thud and flew over the tan ragtop. The car screeched off while the woman’s body tumbled wildly across the pavement before coming to a motionless rest, face up, in the middle of the street.

Charlie tore across the asphalt, fumbling for her cell phone to call 911. She dropped to her knees beside the sprawled pedestrian, the phone pressed to her ear.

Come on, come on, answer.

Blood trickled from the corner of the woman’s mouth, and the side of her face was scraped raw. Who knew what other injuries she’d sustained? But, thank God, she was breathing.

“Hang on,” Charlie told her, grasping her limp hand and gently squeezing. “I’m calling for help.”

“911 emergency,” a man with a deep voice said in her ear.

She struggled for calm. Don’t die. Please, don’t die. “I’m at the, uh, the, uh … the intersection of Palm and Main. Behind the newspaper. A woman’s been hit by a car.”

“I’m dispatching emergency vehicles. I’ll be back with you in less than a minute.”

“Please hurry.”

The line went silent, and Charlie stared down at the injured woman, not knowing what to do. Should she run to the paper for more immediate help? But, no, she couldn’t leave her unprotected. She could get hit by another car. And Charlie knew that moving an injured person could cause more damage, so she stayed where she was, the heat from the asphalt leaching through the knees of her khakis, the sun on the back of her neck.

“It’s okay,” she murmured, not knowing whether the woman could hear her but hoping. “Help is coming. Just hold on.”

She looked up, expecting to see other witnesses or perhaps the car’s driver fretting about whether he or she had just killed someone. But the area was deserted.

Hearing a small gasp, Charlie glanced down. Her racing heart jammed into her throat when she saw the pedestrian’s light brown eyes keenly focused on her face, as though she were counting on Charlie to save her.

“Help is on the way,” Charlie said, tightening her fingers around the woman’s  hand. “Just keep breathing for me, okay? Nice and easy.”

Her lips moved. She was trying to say something.

Charlie stroked her forehead, trying to soothe her. “Please try to save your strength.”

A wet, gurgling sound issued from the woman’s throat before she could force the words out. “It’s up to … you … now.” She moistened her lips. “Bring them … together … Charlotte.”

Charlie wanted to shush her, to implore her to concentrate on breathing, on hanging on, but she couldn’t stop herself from asking, “Bring who together? I don’t know what you mean. Do we know each other?”

Instead of answering, the pedestrian tightened her hand around Charlie’s with surprising strength and stared intently into her eyes.

“Charlotte,” she whispered just before her fingers fell slack, and it took Charlie a few seconds to realize she was staring into the face of a dead woman. Oh, God, no.

The world abruptly shifted, and Charlie was no longer holding a dead woman’s hand. She was across the street, sprinting toward the intersection, hope and excitement rising in her chest as she spotted the woman she was looking for.

An engine revs, and I jerk my head up to see a white car bearing down on me. Before I can do anything but flinch, I feel crushing impact, feel myself flying through the air, then the bone-breaking shock of striking the road and rolling uncontrollably.

In the next instant, Charlie was back, kneeling on the pavement, unhurt, her fingers clamped around the dead woman’s hand.

Sirens began to scream in the distance.

True Colors (2012 RITA finalist)


Alex Trudeau has everything she ever wanted. She takes pictures for the local paper, she’s rescued a family of mutts, and hot police detective John Logan has finally asked her out. But then a near-death experience unearths an intense psychic ability she never knew she had…

John Logan moved to Lake Avalon, Florida, to escape a lifetime of hardship. When his darkest secret comes to town with revenge in mind, Logan lands the woman of his dreams in a serial killer’s crosshairs…

With their lives on the line and Alex’s hallucinatory flashes dragging her deeper into the twisted mind of a maniac, Logan and Alex face the ultimate test.  The tension is electric, but to survive they’ll have to look more than skin-deep—they just might not like everything they find …

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Excerpt of True Colors


Chapter 1

Alex Trudeau spotted the flashing lights of a police cruiser and pulled onto the shoulder of the beach road. She’d heard the call for emergency vehicles over the scanner when she’d been only a mile away. Hopping out of her dark red Jeep Liberty SUV, she dragged her camera equipment out then took off at a jog toward the scene of the accident.  

The heat of the Florida sun baked the asphalt under her feet, but she barely noticed as she ran, dodging the drivers and passengers who’d pulled over and gotten out of their cars to gawk. As she neared the mangled wreckage of a silver minivan upside-down in the ditch, she started snapping shots even as her stomach clenched.

Could anyone have survived an accident so violent that it shattered the windshield and caved in the roof?

Her heart skipped, and she lowered the camera, watching in awe as Lake Avalon Police Detective John Logan delivered a hysterical woman from the wreckage to bystanders who ran up to help. With blood pouring from a gash at her temple, the woman screamed, “Get my baby! Get my baby!”

Alex’s journalistic instincts snapped back into gear when Logan, tan and muscular in his khaki police uniform, turned back toward the van that had started to smoke.

Big, black clouds, the kind that looked like a precursor to a fiery explosion, billowed upward. She could tell by his determined stance that he was going back for the driver’s baby.

Where the hell were the fire trucks? At least firefighters were experts at this kind of thing. Yet, she’d known John Logan for two years, considered him a good friend, and he wasn’t the kind of man to stand around and wait for someone else to show up and do what he could do right now.

“Her back tire blew,” a bystander said. “I saw it explode just before the van flipped.”

Alex listened only vaguely, heart slamming against her ribs as Logan plunged into the billowing smoke.

The driver continued to scream, “My baby girl! My baby girl!”

Alex counted the seconds as she waited for Logan to reappear. Sirens sounded in the distance, but they seemed so far away, her focus having narrowed down to the spot where she’d last seen Logan. She should have been taking more pictures of the chaotic rescue scene, but fear for him had constricted her chest muscles so much she could barely breathe.

Come on, Logan, where are you?

This can’t end in tragedy, she thought. Logan was too good, too kind. She accepted that bad things happened to good people. Not this time, she prayed. Please.
And then he stumbled out of the smoke, a small child of maybe two or three years old cradled in his arms.

Alex released her held breath on a gust of air and brought the camera up to take the picture, already knowing it would make headlines. There was nothing newspaper readers loved more than a ragged hero streaked with blood, carrying a crying, soot-smudged child away from wreckage that looked like no one should have survived. Especially a hero as good-looking as John Logan, his eyes even more blue in a face blackened by smoke, the child looking tiny and helpless in his large, muscled arms.

Logan delivered the bawling little girl to her mother, his eyes streaming from the smoke. Sweat made his short, dark brown hair spike. He was filthy, yet he’d never looked more gut-wrenchingly handsome. Then, surprising Alex, he walked over to her, his teeth flashing white in his streaked face.

“You got here fast,” he said.

A thrill raced through her that he’d noticed her among all the bystanders. Maybe that meant something. “I heard the call on the scanner.”

“Does this mean you’re back at work at the paper?”

She managed to prevent a hitch in her smile at the reminder that she’d technically died three months ago. A man gunning for her sister had shot Alex by mistake.

Three zaps from defibrillator paddles in the ER had revived her.

“Been back for a while,” she said. “Guess we just haven’t run into each other.”
His grin widened. “I find that unacceptable.”

She shivered at the heat in his starburst-blue eyes. He made her nervous. In a good way. A very good way. Before the shooting, she’d thought they were gearing up for their first kiss. After the shooting, he’d visited her in the hospital and had dropped by her house a couple of times after her release, armed with the makings for hot fudge sundaes and DVDs of old, quirky, dog-themed movies like Best in Show and Beethoven. That he’d known her well enough to cater to her love of sugary treats and animals had thrilled her. She’d thought, This is the man of my dreams. But then he’d pulled back, and she’d thought maybe he’d lost interest. She had to admit she was pretty pathetic after taking a bullet to the chest. No doubt, her inability to carry on a conversation, or watch an entire movie, without drifting off had been a huge turnoff.

But she was better now, and here John Logan stood, grinning at her after saving a helpless child from certain death. Things were looking up.

“What’re you doing for dinner tomorrow?” he asked.

Now we’re talking. “I’ve been craving some of that tasty grilled shrimp they serve at Antonio’s Beach Grill. You?”

“What a coincidence. I’ve been craving that, too. Shall we make it a date?”

A big, dumb smile spread through her entire body, more intense than anything she’d felt in a long time. In fact, ever since the shooting, she’d felt different. She figured death did that to people, made them more aware of the people around them. Made them feel emotions—compassion, pleasure, pain, anticipation—on a deeper level. Or maybe her senses just seemed sharper, like a head that felt lighter, and better than before, once a blinding headache faded. Whatever the cause, she thought she might have a serious crush on this man.

She nodded. “It’s a date.”

He thrust out a hand. “Shake on it?”

She laughed, low and breathless. Could the man get any more appealing?

The instant their fingers touched, everything around her made a dizzying shift …

I’m choking on smoke, eyes tearing as I fumble a door open and lurch inside the van, drawn by the cries of a small child. I’m not losing this one. Not this time.  

Where is she? Can’t see a damn thing. 

“It’s okay, it’s okay, I’m coming. Talk to me, kid, talk to me.” 

The inside of the van is hot, too hot. Just give me time. A little more time … and then something warm and soft brushes my fingertips.  

I close my fingers around a soft, pudgy leg, trying to be gentle even as the need to hurry, hurry clenches in my gut. I use the leg to guide me to a car seat. Strapped in, the seat and the kid. Glimpse of pink flowers on a white T-shirt. A little girl. 

Small and helpless and counting on me.

This child’s not dying, damn it. 

“Just hang on. I won’t let you down.” 

I can’t see, can’t find the mechanism that releases the straps. And I smell hot metal, burning plastic and rubber, hear a weird, ominous crackle. Flames?

Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus.

Still no straps, hands frantic as they move over the screaming, squirming kid, searching, searching. Finally, there it is. The latch. Jesus, the metal’s hot. 

Everything is so hot, making the sweat pour into my eyes, stinging along with the smoke. Two more seconds, and the latch is free, the girl all but sliding out of the seat into my arms. 

I crawl backward, out of the death trap, into humid, smoke-choked air. My lungs ache, burn, my throat raw. 

But I’ve got the girl, this sweet, warm, wriggly child, in my arms, and nothing else matters. This time, I saved the—

An explosion shook the world.

True Shot (2012 RITA finalist)


Samantha Trudeau has spent the past ten years using her intense psychic abilities to put bad guys behind bars. She's always believed she’s one of the good guys, until fellow spy and best friend Zoe reveals a shocking secret about who they've really been working for. When Zoe's gunned down, Sam goes on the run, because now her employer is coming after her. With no one to turn to for help, she flees to the only place she thinks she’ll be safe.

Journalist Mac Hunter has had a rough year. At the insistence of his good friends, sisters Charlie and Alex Trudeau, he’s going to crash at their family cabin for some much-needed rest and relaxation. But when he arrives he’s stunned to find the third Trudeau sister, Sam, wounded and unconscious on the cabin floor. Things go from bizarre to dangerous when men with guns show up.

Now, Sam and Mac are on the run together, trying to outsmart a demented government agent who has sadistic plans for Sam. As the heat builds between them, her past threatens their very survival. This unlikely duo -- a man who uses words to fight his battles and a woman who'd rather use a Glock -- are in for the fight of their lives. And in their growing partnership, perhaps they'll have a true shot at love.

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Excerpt of True Shot


Chapter 1

Zoe was dead.

Dead.

Sam closed her eyes and gritted her teeth against the throb of pain in her shoulder.

Focus, damn it. It’s what you’re good at. What you’re trained to do.

Soldier on. Accomplish the mission. Get to the cabin. Hunker down. Hide. Get warm. God, she couldn’t wait to get warm.

Blinking cold rain from her eyes, she squinted into the growing dusk, trying to get oriented. The cabin was around here somewhere. She was sure of it.

Unless she’d gotten herself lost.

No. She wasn’t lost. She knew where she was going.

Just like you knew where you were going when you ran away from home fourteen years ago?

Don’t think. Focus.

She peered through the rain running in rivulets over her forehead and into her eyes. She couldn’t see a damn thing. Just towering trees decorated in gold and orange and red. The same coppery red that spattered her Nikes and the leaves squishing underfoot. Her feet were cold and wet, just like the rest of her. At least she still shivered, the body’s way of creating its own warmth. But, crap, she’d been shivering for so long and so hard that she should have generated enough heat to warm a small house. If she didn’t find the cabin soon, she was toast. And not the warm, golden brown kind.

She was probably toast anyway. No way was he going to let her go. He’d hunt her down like an animal. Have her shot down like they’d shot down Zoe—
She battled back the wave of grief that tried to steal her breath and forced herself forward, one foot after the other. Don’t think, don’t think.

But she couldn’t help but think.

Zoe was dead. Her closest friend.

Don’t go there. Don’t go there.

Then she saw it. The Trudeau family cabin. Materializing out of a copse of amber gold and dark orange trees. An honest-to-God log cabin.

A rush of much-needed warmth spread through her blood. Almost home. As close to home as she’d gotten in a decade. Wouldn’t it be cool if her sisters and parents waited for her there? Alex and Charlie and Mom and Dad.

She pictured the cozy living room with its stone fireplace and polished wooden floor, the big, overstuffed couch with the red-and-black plaid blanket draped over the back. She imagined that blanket draped around her shoulders, imagined sinking into the poofy cushions and drifting off, wrapped in the familiarity of home away from home.

She found the key in its place, tucked into a cleverly carved notch three feet up from the planks of the porch. Her half-frozen fingers fumbled with it, missed getting it into the lock the first three tries. Hot tears streamed through the cold rain on her face.

Stupid, so stupid. Crying now, after everything that had happened, after so many years of not crying. N3 operatives didn’t cry. N3 operatives carried on.

But Zoe, poor Zoe.

Her hands trembled as she finally nailed the lock and heard the tumblers squeak open. The door swung inward, and she all but tripped over the raised threshold into dust-choked air and a musty odor that didn’t smell at all like the cabin she remembered. Where was the scent of fresh-chopped wood? The hint of fabric softener that spoke of clean sheets on big, soft beds?

She dropped her dripping bag on the floor and pushed the door closed, her arms and legs leaden now, weighed down by her sodden denim shirt and jeans. All she had to do was make it to the couch and get the blanket, and she’d be warm in no time.

But her knees buckled, and as they hit the floor, a fist of pain slammed through her shoulder. A burst of light flashed the world bright, and she flinched. A deep, quaking rumble vibrated the worn wooden floor under her knees. Thunder.

On the next burst of lightning, she noticed the pink water pooling near her left knee.

Oh, yeah. She’d been shot in the shoulder. Funny how she couldn’t feel it anymore.

In fact, she couldn’t feel much of anything. Maybe that should alarm her, but somehow it didn’t.

It figures, she thought. Make it almost home, and it wasn’t going to matter.

She was still going to die alone.

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Flash Heat

Flash Heat is available now as a $2.99 e-book on Kindle and Nook (other formats coming soon).

Here's what it's about:

Photographer Bailey Chase and reporter Cole Goodman only tolerate working with each other at a Southwest Florida newspaper. Cole knows Bailey's ex, and he's told Cole lots of lies about her. Not that Bailey cares. She's still healing from that disastrous relationship and has far more important issues on her plate: such as keeping her recovering drug addict brother on the right track as a single dad.

When Bailey gets slightly injured during a mugging while on assignment with Cole, she's shocked at how kind and warm and caring he is. And when it soon becomes clear that the mugging wasn't random, he reveals a protective streak that surprises them both.

Someone is after a photo in Bailey's possession, and he'll clearly stop at nothing to get it. Worse, it appears her brother's shady past is connected.

Cole and Bailey team up to crack this mystery before someone ends up dead. While they're at it, they let the sparks fly ...

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Excerpt of my new e-book, Flash Heat


Here's an excerpt of my new e-book, FLASH HEAT, while my website is in the Apple ICU. Enjoy! (Buy links are at the bottom -- it's $2.99 on Amazon and BN.com. Other formats will come later.) And, hey, if you love romance novels -- and why wouldn't you? -- you might be interested in my USA Today blog dedicated to all things romance novels, Happy Ever After.

CHAPTER 1

Some days started out bad and got worse.

Bailey Chase ground the Honda Civic’s gears in her haste to shift into third. Not only was she late, but she wasn’t entirely sure where she was going. She snagged the photo assignment in the passenger seat and tried again to decipher the scrawled address. No joy. Reporters had such crappy handwriting.

Hoping to spot Cole, she scanned the sidewalks along the practically deserted street. The lack of activity was usual for so early in the morning in downtown Kendall Falls, Florida, especially in this seen-better-days area. In an hour, workers would be striding toward their offices, not noticing the dingy pink stucco or the blue-and-white-striped awnings that had gotten ragged at the edges.

Now, though, downtown was quiet and still, save for a few stray cars. A motorcycle stayed stubbornly behind her, despite her crawling speed. Probably a tourist who also had no idea where he was going. Kendall Falls was home to its fair share.

The sun warmed the cool air, the weather typical of southwest Florida in March: not a cloud in the sky, the temperature headed for a comfy seventy-five degrees. A perfect day to hang out at the beach, which was where she had expected to be this morning.

Too bad her buzz from her nephew’s sixth birthday party last night had already fizzled. She still smiled, though, thinking of his excitement as he’d unwrapped the old Nikon. She’d given him her first “real” camera, and she’d loved how into it he was as she’d showed him the basics of apertures and f-stops and how to focus. He’d caught on even faster than she’d expected.

Spotting Cole Goodman pacing on the sidewalk next to his gun-metal gray SUV, she swerved to park along a section of crumbling curb. She could see that the next street had been blocked off because of the massive construction project.

He met her at her door as she swung it open and stepped out.

“You’re late.” And then his gaze swept over her khaki shorts, white T-shirt and hiking shoes. “You do know we’re meeting Senator Waters, don’t you?”

Bailey walked to the trunk, popping it open with the button on her key. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t have time to change. I inherited this assignment five minutes ago.”

She’d arrived at the newspaper expecting to be shooting spring breakers at the beach, not snapping pictures of a state politician at the site of his latest pet project. While she admired the senator’s goal of turning one of downtown’s oldest industrial buildings into lofts for low-income housing, she would have preferred the beach.

Lifting her camera bag out of the trunk and onto her shoulder, she met Cole’s deep blue—annoyed—eyes. He wore an impeccable black suit and royal blue silk tie, making her feel even more underdressed. And did he have to look so dang hot? The man filled out a suit like no man she’d ever met. All broad shoulders, thick, muscled arms and lean waist. He looked like he’d wandered off a page of Men’s Health or GQ.

He seemed about to say something, then clenched his chiseled jaw. “Where’s Carrie? Last I heard she was scheduled for this gig.”

What am I? Chopped liver? But instead of sniping at him, she said, “Carrie’s having an appendectomy.”

His dark brow furrowed with what might have been concern before he gestured at her camera bag. “Do you need help with that?”

“I’ve got it, thanks.” She clasped the wide, leather strap with both hands, not knowing whether to feel flattered or insulted. None of the other reporters offered to help with her equipment. Was Cole being a gentleman or did he think she was too weak to handle it herself? Yeah, it weighed some forty pounds, but she’d been lugging it around for years.

He indicated the parking meter at the front of her car. “Don’t forget to feed that. You’ll get a ticket.” Digging into the pocket of his slacks, he flipped a quarter to her. “That’s all I’ve got.”

He turned on his heel and started walking as Bailey lowered her bag to the pavement and knelt to dig coins out of a side pocket. When she glanced up, change in hand, he was already striding into the next block, his shadow disappearing under the shade of navy blue awnings on a white building.

“Thanks for waiting,” she muttered.

If it had been anyone but Cole Goodman, she would have called after him to put on the brakes. But doing so would only irk him further. He had a Florida-sized chip on his shoulder when it came to her, and she knew exactly why. Her ex and Cole were friends, and her breakup with Daniel hadn’t been pretty. Cole had to have heard lots of stories. None of them good.

After plugging coins into the meter, she hefted her bag up and looped the strap over her head so that it securely crisscrossed her chest. As she hurried to try to catch up with Cole, she hoped for a short shoot so she could get to her next assignment. She couldn’t wait to mingle with spring breakers giddy with youth, sun and freedom. Not one of them would sport a stick up their butt the size of the one occupying Cole Goodman’s.

“Would you come on?” he called over his shoulder.

“I’m coming,” she replied, irritated at how breathless she sounded. She was in excellent shape. She played tennis every other day, and it wasn’t just hitting the ball around. It was cutthroat, I’m-serious-about-this-crap tennis. On days when she didn’t play, she rode her bike at least twenty miles, up hills and everything. Her muscles were toned, her body trim. But trailing a good twenty feet behind Cole—who moved fast and silently—made her feel out of shape and clumsy.

Of course, it did give her the opportunity to admire one of his better features. The man might be an ass, but he also had a damn fine one. Add to that long legs, a flat stomach—she was sure that a work of sculpted art lurked beneath the crisp shirts he usually wore—and he was indeed a very well-constructed man.

Dark good looks went with the fantastic body. His short, almost black hair always looked as if he’d just gotten out of bed, but rather than looking messy, it was sexy as all hell. Long thick lashes framed blue eyes the color of the water in the Caribbean—and showed just as many shadows.

He rounded the street corner ahead of her, bypassing the barricades blocking vehicle access to the closed street, and Bailey kicked her pace up to a jog. She imagined him standing next to the senator, both already in hard hats and each tapping a foot while they waited. She was just a few steps from the intersection, glancing into the front window of an indie bookstore she’d always meant to visit, when the strap of her camera bag caught on something.

Off-balanced, Bailey spun, more startled than afraid. But then she saw the man in motorcycle leathers and shiny black helmet. He seized the strap of her bag and dragged her back several feet into an alley that separated the bookstore from a hair salon.

“Hey!” she yelled, struggling against his strength.

He slammed her hard against the peach stucco, and a gloved hand that smelled of cigarettes cut off her next scream.

She could do no more than slap at his jacket and helmet until he trapped her between his body and the unyielding wall and held her immobile. Terror nearly choked her. Oh God oh God oh God …

He tugged at the camera bag, but the way she’d put it over her head made it impossible for him to simply tear it away from her and run.

She clasped the strap to her, instinctively protecting the expensive equipment, but then she heard a snick and saw morning sunlight reflect off a blade. White noise began to roar in her head.

He’s going to kill me.

She tried to fight, to scream, but he held her so tightly she couldn’t budge. And then he began to saw at the leather strap of her bag, his movements awkward as he struggled to hold her still at the same time and see what he was doing despite the helmet.

The buzzing in her head waned. He wasn’t killing her. He wanted her camera equipment. Fine with her. Hell, she wouldn’t even lose any work because the camera’s memory card was empty. But his hand clamped over her mouth prevented her from telling him he could take it all.

The strap, nearly separated, slipped from the blade, and her attacker swore in a guttural voice. He stabbed forward with the knife, the gesture laced with frustration, and missed the strap.

Bailey sucked in a strangled gasp, stunned by the shaft of pain. He jolted back and stilled. She saw her face reflected in the dark visor of his helmet, saw the shock in her expression. Then he gave one last swipe at the strap, and it snapped. He turned and ran, her bag clutched to his chest.

Suddenly free of the weight of both the man and the heavy equipment, Bailey staggered. She pressed a hand to her side. Blood, warm and sticky, oozed between her fingers. Dizzy already, she knew she needed help, fast, but her iPhone was in the bag. She looked around the alley at the faded peach walls on all three sides of her, felt the rough stucco at her back. No one could see her here. She had to move, get into the street, call for help.

Unfortunately, her legs and lungs seemed frozen, pain pulsing in her side. Glancing down, she forced herself to look, to assess. Maybe it wasn’t that bad. Maybe the dizziness would pass in a second, once she confirmed that it was nothing more than a surface cut. Please, God.

Drawing her hand away, she saw the bloody edges of fabric where he’d cut her. Her first thought was that the son of a bitch had ruined one of her favorite shirts.

She couldn’t see the wound for all the blood. And now her head was spinning again. Black splotches splattered her vision, much like the splatters of blood on the pavement at her feet. She told herself she felt lightheaded because she was one of those wussy people who passed out at the sight of blood. The faintness would pass. Any second now.

Her knees buckled, and she slid down the wall.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Check out my romance novels blog at USA Today

Hi! In October, USA Today and I launched a blog devoted entirely to romance novels, the readers who read them and the writers who write them. Lots and lots of author interviews and book reviews, ranging from inspirational to erotica to self-published e-books.
Some of the authors featured include Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvez, Kresley Cole, Debbie Macomber, Kristan Higgins, Cynthia Eden, Cindy Gerard, Marie Force, Brenda Novak, Beverly Jenkins, Virna DePaul, Jenny B. Jones, Jayne Ann Krentz, Bella Andre, Tina Folsom, Desiree Holt ... and so many more.
I hope you'll stop by and say hi! You can find Happy Ever After at happyeverafter.usatoday.com. You also can follow us on Twitter at @HEAusatoday and "like" us on Facebook: Facebook.com/usatodayhappyeverafter.com.