Deadly Alliance by Kathleen Rowland – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #romance #suspense

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Blurb:

Finbar Donahue, former Army Ranger, walked on the wild side in Iraq, but now he lives in the shadows. After his evasive partner, Les, was shot in a random drive-by, Finn discovers cash is siphoned monthly. He fights to keep his investment company afloat. When the late partner’s girlfriend, Amy Kintyre, applies for his bookkeeping job, Finn suspects she knows about his company drain and hires her.

Amy needs a nine-to-five with free evenings and weekends to get her fashion design business back on track. She unearths Les’ s secret bank account and alerts Finn. Freezing of the money laundering account sets off havoc within an Irish gang. Amy witnesses a gang fight between a brutal ISIS fundraising organization and the Irish. Desperate to escape a stalker’s crosshairs, she seeks refuge with Finn. As danger heats up, sparks fly hotter.

Les is alive. After cheating the Irish mob, he became their target. Mistaken identity took the life of his disabled twin brother. Now Les makes another deal—trading Amy and stolen drugs for their forgiveness. Stakes are high as Finn tracks assassins across the San Bernardino Mountains. If he gets her back, can he trust her?

Extract:

The front door opened. “Sorry, we’re closed.” Holding a broom, Burlie swept behind the bar.

Finn stepped closer. Drunken merrymakers, they were not. His heart hammered like it was stuck in overdrive.

“We offer protection.” Speaking with a Spanish accent, the shortest of the trio dressed like the others, donned the ISIS-style full face black mask.

“I have protection.” Burlie’s big mouth nailed his coffin.

A second thug grabbed the bartender’s hand and pulled out clippers. “You’ll change your mind, one finger at a time.”

“I just paid the Irish.” Panic burrowed into Burlie’s high-pitched cry. He thrashed his arms as he tried to pull his hand back.

“Us you pay”. His utterance with the object in the first position identified him as an Arab speaker. Light glinted off shiny metal. The thug pulled a combat knife, grabbed Burlie’s arms, spun him, put the blade to his neck. Finn dialed 911 and then shouted, “Finn Donahue here. Gang trouble. Burlie’s Jazz Club,” To grab their attention even more, he heaved in a breath and released a long whistle. His distraction worked.

Burlie broke from the hold, and Finn thanked God for the curious.

“Where are you?” Heavy boots pounded toward him.

Finn’s phone vibrated, but he killed the call and darted into the first door he saw, the one with the frosted pink window. He spotted Amy at the sink and pointed his index finger up.

He took off his coat and wrapped it around his fist. After rapping on the glass, he wound up and threw a hard punch through the window. Glass splintered as he connected with the thug’s nose. Prepared to jump aside, he opened the door.

Amy followed and jumped over the guy spread on the floor, holding a hand over his bleeding nose.

He struggled to stand. Finn patted him down, took his gun, and pointed it at him. After the guy stood, Finn walked him to a chair. “Don’t move.”

“I’ll phone the police.” A high-pitched squeal came from the back of her throat. “Never mind. Police are here.”

From the street, the blue light of a cop car radiated across the club’s interior like a strobe. Uniforms burst through the door.

The first officer made radio contact with homicide, and the second, much younger, rushed to the nearest thug and pulled out flex-cuffs.

“Stand over there, Amy.” Finn motioned toward a corner.

She rolled her eyes and dashed toward Burlie who wrestled with the Arab and tried to keep him from moving toward the young rookie. Amy pulled an item from her purse. A Swiss army knife? Out came a miniature cork screw.

The rookie cop turned the Arab around to be handcuffed and leaned him against a wall. The thug used the hard surface as leverage to throw himself against him.

Finn saw it coming. A switchblade . . .

Meet the author:

Book Buyers Best finalist, Kathleen Rowland, is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with a sizzling love story sure to melt their hearts. Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.She grew up in Iowa, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Kathleen now happily exists with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California, where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write while listening to characters’ demanding voices in her head.

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My Husband’s Sin by Mary Bradford – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #contemporary #fiction

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Blurb:

In the weeks following Lillian Taylor’s burial, her four loving adult children assemble for the reading of her will. For the grieving youngest sibling, Lacey, life is about to come crashing down as a deep secret is revealed. The fall-out affects every member and they struggle to regain the happy family unit they once shared. Each of the siblings, take the reader on a journey as they try to come to terms and learn to handle this huge revelation.

Extract:

JULY

Lacey fled the Sherman and Jones Solicitors’ office in turmoil, only pausing to catch her breath before descending the cold solid steps. The appalling words kept ringing in her ears. How the bloody hell could a mother do this to her child? A bitch, that’s what she was. Lacey should have trusted her instinct all through the years.

The pleasant July day was lost on her. Without thinking further, she sought solace in the bar further down the street. In the dimly-lit pub she was the only woman.

Lacey Turner didn’t drink alcohol this early, but placed in front of her now was a double vodka with bitter lemon. Taking the glass in her trembling hand, she drank swiftly. The sour liquid made her shake her head. God, it was unpleasant. In one corner, two elderly men were sipping their stouts. Another up at the bar was reading the day’s paper.

The barman came over to where she sat and smiled. “A tough morning so far then?” He wiped down the glass-topped table and replaced some beer mats with fresh un-tattered ones.

Lacey didn’t reply. She couldn’t. The shock of this morning’s events was still gripping her tight. Christ, her life had been turned upside down in the stroke of a pen. Her hands still shook.

Looking the barman up and down, she acknowledged he was kind of cute. If times were different, she might even flirt with him; his tight black t-shirt groaned across his chest, but she didn’t have time to daydream. Reality had her gripped in its cold heartless hand.

“Can I have another?” Lacey called out to the bar attendant as he moved on to wiping down other tables. He nodded and went to the bar to get her fresh drink.

Her mind was swimming with horrible thoughts of her mother. Dear Lord, she mustn’t think like that any more. She was Lillian, not Mother. Where do you start to pick up the pieces of your life after something like that? Her mobile phone rang: it was Sally. Lacey snapped at it, turning it off in one quick touch. Bloody family. Her bloody family!

The fresh glass was placed in front of her. He seemed to linger for a moment, waiting for Lacey to make eye contact. She really did not want his company but he wasn’t going anywhere, judging by his stance before her. She looked up at him. Yep, definitely cute.

“You could try talking. This will only lead to a headache and misery.” The guy smiled encouragingly, but all she did was stare back at him, confusion and anger in her eyes. Throwing a twenty on the table, she stood up and paused.

“Maybe misery is what I deserve.”

Her taupe Guess handbag and caramel jacket hung on the chair. She shoved the bag onto her shoulder, took her jacket, and walked out. Kind, attractive barmen were not what she wanted. She desired space and freedom to take in and assimilate the horrible rotten words that she’d heard today. Who would believe it? Who would have thought when she’d wakened this morning at seven, that five hours later her life would have crashed down around her? With her mind troubled, she wandered without direction through the busy streets.

Lacey’s world had stopped, yet around her cars passed by beeping their irritation with the slow traffic, people pushed and chatted without a concern for the young woman in their midst. She strolled along, not fully noticing life around her. Those words, those poisonous words, kept swirling in her mind. The look of horror on her siblings’ faces would be etched on her memory forever. She couldn’t face them right now. What must they think of her?

“Watch it.” The woman grunted at Lacey.

“Sorry.” Lacey didn’t know what she was apologising for, but it startled her into realising she needed to get home. It would be safe there.

Picture of Mary T Bradford

Meet the author:

Mary T Bradford has been writing mainly short stories for a number of years now and has enjoyed success with her fiction in many magazines, newspapers and anthologies both in Ireland and abroad. It was because of this success, Mary took the plunge and self published her first collection titled, A Baker’s Dozen (2012) and is available in both print and e-book format from Amazon and other sites. She decided to tackle a novel when one of her stories kept getting longer and the word count continued to climb and so ended up with My Husbands Sin. She has also branched out into writing plays and has seen her work shortlisted and performed.

When taking a break from writing and reading Mary loves to crochet or cross-stitch, crafts in general interest her. Living in County Cork, Ireland, she is married and is a mother of four children. Having overcome open heart surgery in 2008, Mary made the decision to dedicate more time to her writing as her children were almost raised and were starting to spread their wings. Family is important to her and her writing often reflects the ups and downs of life that all families go through daily.

Connect with Mary through any of the links on this page and that is something else Mary enjoys, chatting with people!

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The House in Fez by Dianne Noble – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #contemporary #fiction

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Blurb:

In the oppressive heat of a Moroccan summer, an already fractured family is forced to re-examine its loyalties.

Sisters Juliet and Portia haven’t seen each other in years. When they’re invited by their estranged mother, Miranda, to visit Fez, they’re shocked on arrival to discover she has married Samir, a man half her age. What’s more, he’s already married to Zina.

Pressure builds in the simmering heat. While growing closer themselves, Juliet and Portia are dismayed that Miranda is only loyal to Samir, even while he employs children in sweatshops. Portia defies him daily to help the children, but when Zina plunges from a balcony, it’s Portia who’s blamed.

Juliet and Portia are forced to re-examine their loyalties.

Extract:

MAY 21st

Juliet

The foreign stamp puzzled her, but then she recognised the writing and backed away, left the letter lying in a sea of manila envelopes on the doormat. Darren scooped them up, his jaw tightening as he riffled through the final demands. Then his expression lightened.

‘One for you, love. From…’ he squinted, held the letter at a distance, ‘…Morocco, of all places.’

Juliet looked up at him. At forty-two he shouldn’t be so grey, have so many worry lines. ‘It’s from my mother,’ she said dismissively.

‘Aren’t you going to open it?’

‘No, it won’t be good news. Lord, the breakfast’s burning…’ She dashed into the kitchen and snatched the pan of bacon off the heat, her eyes smarting in the haze of blue smoke. At least it masked the smell of unreliable plumbing. After taking slices of bread from the open packet she forked the charred rashers on to them, then poured two mugs of tea.

He sat at the table in his boxers and vest, tattoos descending like sleeves from his shoulders. Upending the HP bottle over the sandwich he thumped the bottom. ‘Come on, love, see what she has to say.’

She sank into the chair opposite. The damp patch on the wall behind him had grown since yesterday. It looked like a map of Africa. She licked dry lips. ‘I don’t want to.’

The kitchen clock ticked loudly, announcing the arrival of each new minute. Darren put down the sandwich, took her hand, stroked her fingers.

She straightened her shoulders. ‘You do it.’

He ripped the letter open, and with a low whistle pulled out a cheque. ‘Now that makes a pleasant change.’ He passed it to her and she stared at it blankly.

‘Three hundred pounds. Whatever for?’

He fumbled in the envelope and retrieved a sheet of paper. ‘Here. Can’t read it without my glasses.’ He picked up his sandwich.

Her mother’s scrawl, as ever, resembled a lie detector printout. She frowned as she tried to decipher it. ‘She wants me to visit her in Morocco… the money’s for the fare… she’s sent a cheque to Portia as well…’

‘I thought she was teaching in Turkey?’

‘So did I.’ She smoothed the paper. ‘Says she has a surprise for us.’

He stopped chewing and raised an eyebrow. ‘Wonder what sort of surprise?’

‘God knows.’ She chewed a nail. ‘I don’t know—could we both go do you think?’

‘I can’t, love.’ He glanced up at the clock, bolted the last of his breakfast, then pushed back his chair with a clatter. ‘Need to work all the hours I can get.’

She nodded, looking around the kitchen at the lino worn to a dark smudge near the sink, at the sheets of the Leicester Mercury taped over a broken window pane. ‘I wish I could help you more, find another job.’

‘Not yet. Maybe when you’re a bit better.’

She stood up. ‘I’ll tell her we can’t go.’

‘No.’ He put his hands on her shoulders, turned her to face him. ‘You go, have a bit of a break. This last couple of years have been shite.’

‘I don’t want—’

‘Yes. You wouldn’t be on your own if Portia goes too.’

‘Portia? I’ve not seen her for years. We’ve nothing in common.’

He rubbed his chin. ‘You’d think you’d be closer, being twins…I want you to go, love. Please.’

She knew she would agree. She was like a piece of jigsaw, always ready to fit her life in, with, and around others.

‘All right then,’ she said reluctantly, ‘but I’ll get the cheapest flight—what’s left of the money can pay a bit more off the gas bill.’

‘Good girl.’ He dropped a kiss on her forehead, then ran upstairs, whistling, to get into his work clothes.

Her throat ached with unshed tears as he watched him. Such a good man, always putting her first. Why then, didn’t she love him anymore?

Meet the author:

Dianne spent her childhood in Singapore and Cyprus, then raised her children in the Arabian Gulf and hasn’t stopped travelling since. Her impressions of China, Guatemala, Russia and Israel will perhaps be rich pickings for future novels, but for now India remains her favourite and she keeps going back. The atmospheric settings of her novels reflect her experiences.Still on the bucket list are Tibet, Bhutan and Burma.

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Heart Spell by Elizabeth Delisi – an extract #tirgearrtuesday

ISBN: 9781310984686
ASIN: B01EYXDJSS
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Blurb:

A CUP OF NEW AGE CHARM Can the spirit of Christmas, with the help of Hope and Chloe’s eccentric Aunt Saidie, bring together two hearts aching to be filled?

LOVE’S REDEMPTION Mara Parker’s heart is bleak as Christmas approaches. But is Doug who he seems—or is he after something more than shelter from the storm?

THE HEART OF THE MATTER Can Cupid remove the blinders from Violet’s and Brett’s eyes and the padlocks from their hearts?

Excerpt:

A CUP OF CHRISTMAS CHARM

Chloe Lange’s heart somersaults when Zack Martin walks into her New Age store, “Chloe’s Charming Gems.” He’s looking for the perfect Christmas gift for his sister, and she’s only too happy to help. But when he asks her out on a date, she gets cold feet. After all, she’s a single mother raising her four year old daughter, Amanda, and she has the store to run. Besides, all men are untrustworthy—she learned that when Amanda’s father took off as soon as he discovered Chloe was pregnant.

Zack Martin wants a woman in his life, and Chloe Lange fits the bill perfectly. But when she turns down his offer of dinner, he figures it’s for the best. Every minute he’s not at work he spends with his sister, Hope. She was born handicapped, and since the death of their parents, she’s his responsibility. Not that she’s a burden—Hope’s sunny smile and optimistic personality make life with her a joy. But the last thing he needs is to get hung up on a woman only to find she can’t accept Hope as part of the equation.

Can the spirit of Christmas, with the help of Hope and Chloe’s eccentric Aunt Saidie, bring together two hearts aching to be filled?

LOVE’S REDEMPTION

Mara Parker’s heart is bleak as Christmas approaches. Her husband, Stephen, was killed in an automobile accident and now will never see his unborn child. Mara has retreated into her shell in the cabin on the mountains she and Stephen shared. Then Doub Swanson, a camper in need of a roof over his head during a snowstorm, shows up at her door. He brings joy into her life, makes her smile, gives her a feeling of security. But is Doug who he seems—or is he after something more than shelter from the storm?

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

When Brett Newman accompanies his brother Bryan into Violet Webber’s wedding shop, The Cupid Connection, Violet figures Brett’s the best-looking man she’s seen in a long time. But she knows his type: the hunk with all the women hanging off him, who uses women and discards them as if they were tissues. Violet’s amazed to find he’s just as cynical about love and romance as she is. She’s even more astonished to find herself falling in love with him, despite her best intentions. Can Cupid remove the blinders from Violet’s and Brett’s eyes and the padlocks from their hearts?

Meet the author:

Elizabeth Delisi wanted to be a writer since she was in first grade, and probably would have written in the womb if she could have convinced her mother to swallow a pencil. But life hasn’t always gone the way she planned, and on her road to publication she worked as a motel maid, waitress, secretary, administrative aide, substitute teacher, and newspaper reporter.

Elizabeth is a multi-published, award-winning author of romance, mystery and suspense. Her time-travel romance set in ancient Egypt, Lady of the Two Lands, won a Bloody Dagger Award and was a Golden Rose Award nominee. Her romantic suspense novel, Since All is Passing, was an EPPIE Award finalist and Bloody Dagger Award finalist. Fatal Fortune was a Word Museum Reviewer’s Choice Masterpiece. Elizabeth’s contemporary romance novella The Heart of the Matter is featured in the Valentine’s Day-themed anthology Cupid’s Capers and was an EPPIE Award finalist. A Carol of Love is part of Holiday Hearts anthology and an EPPIE Award finalist. A Cup of Christmas Charm is part of Holiday Hearts 2 anthology and was also an EPPIE Award finalist.

Elizabeth is an instructor for Writer’s Digest University. She has taught Creative Writing at the community college level, has worked as a copyeditor for several small publishers, and edits for individuals. She holds a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing major from St. Leo University.

Elizabeth is currently at work on Deadly Destiny and Perilous Prediction, the sequels to Fatal Fortune; Knit A Spell, a paranormal romance; and recently published Wandering Spirits, vol 1 and 2.

Elizabeth lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Rat Terrier, and feisty parakeet. She enjoys hearing from her readers.

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In the Eye of the Wind by Katherine Wyvern – A Guest Blog #evernight

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Hello and thank you for hosting me and my pirate story today! This was such a wonderful book for me to write! It came about by chance when I was drawing an elf, messed up his left eye, and ended up with a one-eyed pirate instead.

I have been afloat on imaginary seas with many favorite authors of mine from Melville, to Conrad, to Patrick O’Brian and Björn Larsson all of my life, so I pounced on the chance of writing a pirate story!

The original idea, as much as I had an idea at all, was to keep it light and fun (and short… most of all short). I wrote a bunch of dialogues very much at random in the first day, all of them full of banter, innuendoes and bratty jokes and I thought that I would keep the story on that note. But I didn’t have a plot, and I still missed one of the main characters, and I had only the vaguest idea of what universe the story could be set in. For a brief while I even considered making it a bit of tongue-in-cheek Tolkien fan fiction. But then the muse spoke, and suggested such a dark twist to the main character, Rikko’, that it became clear that the story needed to grow and to have deeper layers.

And it began to fit very well into the fantasy universe where my older novel Spellbreakers was set, and to connect rather neatly with that story, although it’s not really a sequel to it, and it can be read as a standalone. I hope you find my pirate as irresistible as I did!

Blurb:

Born in the northern wastes of Kaleva in the middle of a devastating war between light and darkness, Rikko’ has found his way south to the warm shores of the Circled Sea, the first elver to ever turn pirate.

Forbidden by the rules of the Andalouan court to pursue such an ungentlemanly career, Gael can only dream of ever becoming a doctor, and his medical studies remain unfinished until his aunt the Queen sends him on a covert mission to the pirate city of Beyas’kahl.

And here, after one night with Rikko’, all his loyalties are put to the test.

Queen Amata has reigned for three decades, and she always used her men cunningly. But even the best player can miscalculate, and her blunder places Gael first in slavery, then in a naval battle, and finally, worst of all, face to face with Rikko’s darkest and deadliest side.

From such darkness, is there any coming back? Is there any hope of love for Gael, or redemption for Rikko’?

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Excerpt:

“Come, Puna, sweetie,” he said, plucking the lemur off Gael’s shoulder with one hand. He placed her on his chest of drawers, on a pile of freshly laundered clothes, her favorite bedding in the world, after himself. She grumbled a little but soon settled down. “And as for you, my boy, you come here to me,” he whispered, drawing Gael to the edge of his bed, where they both tumbled down together, kissing.

Gael was still frantically pecking at him, with those tight-lipped clueless kisses that drove Rikko’ to distraction. He let himself be kissed like that for some minutes—it was so ridiculously lovable.

Ah, it is a pity to teach him anything, he thought. I wish I could keep him like this forever. He knows nothing, except that he has this need…

But you can’t have your cake and eat it, I suppose.

“Wait, sweet, wait,” he whispered finally, and laid Gael on his back, pinning his body down with his folded leg as he lay beside him, and took his cheek in his palm. He put his mouth to Gael’s mouth, and gently, slowly, savoring every minute instant of it, he ran the tip of his tongue along the seam of those tightly closed lips, lightly at first, then harder, until the lips finally parted, like two halves of a plum, and Gael gasped in surprise and then lust. His body arched in desire when Rikko’s tongue met his, and he groaned with hunger, welcoming the new intimacy of that tongue-to-tongue kiss with an adoring fierceness that had Rikko’ near to tears with emotion. He groaned again, hugging Rikko’ closer, sinking his fingers in his hair, touching his face and neck and ears, pursuing his mouth when Rikko’ pulled back to breathe, licking Rikko’s lips.

Rikko’ had never met any grown man (Gael was young, sure, but not a child—Rikko’ despised child lovers, and never, ever went close to the little creatures himself) both so inexperienced, so shy, and yet so wholeheartedly passionate. It was enchanting, and utterly enflaming. He laughed softly and pulled back from the kisses. This was just too much. He could not wait any longer. He needed to touch this boy properly all over; he had to have his cock in his mouth, and maybe, if Gael was so inclined, inside that beautiful, taut little butt.

“Too many clothes,” he said, in Gael’s ear. He kicked off his flip-flops, and realized, with a bit of a shock, that he was still wearing his dagger, stuck in his sash, and his sword belt. He had forgotten all about them. He crossed the room to lay both weapons on his chest of drawers and untied his sash, and felt Gael’s hands on his hips.

“C—can I? Sir? Please?” whispered the boy, and Rikko’ smiled as Gael, with almost religious awe, unwound the length of silk from around his waist and hips and let it fall to the floor around his feet.

Rikko’ stepped out of the puddled folds and murmured, “You too.”

He finished undressing in a few seconds. He never wore a lot. It just got in the way.

Gael took off his clothes, and Rikko’ watched him from the bed, waiting. Under those strangely unattractive breeches and shirt, he was every bit as delicious as Rikko’ had always known he would be, not particularly muscular, but sleek and quick, and just a little awkward, like a young animal, full-grown but still uncertain of his body.

Rikko’ pulled him close, pressing that lithe soft form against his own, and their cocks met halfway, both hard and quite ready, so that they had to be pulled up against their bellies for them to embrace. Rikko’ smiled and palmed Gael’s butt, and kissed him, deep and long, and then put a hand between them and took the boy’s member in his fingers just for a bit of a feel, a bit of foreplay.

He tugged at the lovely taut cock once.

Gael gave a sort of astonished yelp, tensed all over, and then moaned wildly against Rikko’s shoulder, oh, oh, ooh, and suddenly Rikko’ found himself awash in hot, splashing, dripping jets of sperm, all down his belly, lap, and leg, a veritable, goddamn, bleeding flood of it.

He let go, dumbfounded, and then burst into laughter.

“Wh—well, I’ll be … what the…” he began, but, really, he could only laugh. I just barely touched him!

“Damn it, doctor, our ship sprung a leak,” he said finally, still laughing. “I’m drowned!”

“Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods,” said Gael, absolutely frantic, “oh gods, sir, I am so sorry!” He jumped out of bed, fumbling around. “I’ll find my handkerchief, sir, I’ll mop it up this minute…”

Rikko’ laughed even harder and stretched out to pull him back in bed.

“Stop that. Leave it. Leave it, damn it! It’s all right. I’m joking. It’s all right! It’s all good! Stuff’s good for the skin, it is known. Leave it.” He couldn’t stop laughing.

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Visit In the Eye of the Wind’s web page with maps and an exclusive excerpt: HERE

Amazon (free sample): HERE

Evernight (sexy ecerpt): HERE

BIO:

I have entered that age when looking at beautiful male models in their prime makes me a cougar, ahem.

Almost all my heroines are short: that’s because I look at the world from hobbit level. Being so small I am three times more concentrated (read: obsessive) than anybody I know. I am exhaustingly creative in writing, arts, crafts… Sometimes my brain gets friction burns from hurtling at such speed from one universe to the next.

I love animals, plants, and occasionally even people.

Like the Highlander I come from a lot of different places. I was born in Italy but lived here and there and consider myself simply and deeply European. I love Europe passionately, its antiquity, its diversity, its quirkiness. All my books are set in Europe, or alternate versions of it.

I have been writing since I can remember.

LINKS:

Katherine’s Blog: https://katherinewyvern.blogspot.fr/

Katherine’s Website: http://meetingivory.wixsite.com/katherinewyvern

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherinewyvern

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatherineWyvern

Or follow her on Instagram @katherinewyvern

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From the archives: A Woman’s Place #flashfiction #amwriting

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A Woman’s Place is in the Home

In the middle of a Hampshire suburb, Derek Bradshaw was living with a lie. On the outside, to everyone else, he was a mild-mannered accountant with OCD for cleaning and being punctual. He even had a pair of nail scissors, specifically for ensuring that every piece of grass on his meticulous lawn was exactly the same height. Of course these scissors were kept in his immaculate shed, to prevent them from bringing outside germs into his pristine house.

But what his neighbours, and indeed Derek’s own wife, didn’t know was that Derek Bradshaw was actually the employee of an organisation so secret that the Queen and Prime Minister didn’t know it existed.

While Alice, Derek’s beloved wife of ten years, was working as a legal secretary, or hoovering the cream carpet that ran throughout the semi-detached home, Derek was killing those who threatened the security of the United Kingdom.

It was hard to lie to friends and family, but it was part of the training, and Derek knew that if anyone found out what he really did, he would have to silence them. Permanently. On this particular day though, everything was about to change.

Derek was sat behind his desk, filling out the tedious paperwork that goes along with having terminated a terrorist, when his phone rang. It was Cecil, his boss, the man who had more power in his little finger than M from those silly James Bond films, could hope to wish for.

“I have a new target for you,” Cecil said. Derek listened intently as Cecil began to spill the details of a Chinese spy. British intelligence had intercepted a conversation that had triggered a codeword, and the spy was now active and plotting to kill prominent members of the UK government.

Derek sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He didn’t much care if the UK government was killed off. He’d only just returned from Syria and single-handedly defeated the IS troops, bringing peace and humanity to the entire world, of course giving all the credit to those girls and boys of both the US and UK forces. And now, he was being asked to save Britain once again. But it was his job.

“It needs to be done tonight,” said Cecil.

Derek agreed, and hung up.

Now, being the most punctual of people, Derek was always home at precisely seven p.m. but because of this new mission, he had to change his plans and found himself home at six-forty-six. Had he arrived home as he always did, then the following events may not have happened.

Alice was home, and hadn’t been expecting Derek for another fourteen minutes. She hadn’t cleaned up the mess that had been created in the kitchen, and when Derek walked in, already thinking of how he was going to track down and dispose of this Chinese agent, well… things didn’t get any better.

“What’s happened?” he asked, seeing the floor coated in a red, watery liquid.

Alice picked up cupcake with scarlet icing piped into swirls over the top. “I spilt the food colouring,” she explained and tried to smile and shrug it off. “No, no!” she exclaimed, as Derek went to move one bin bag filled with soggy red tissue. “I’ll do it. You go and relax,” she nodded.

Derek agreed, as he always did, and made his way upstairs. Once in the bedroom, he could still hear his wife clattering about in the kitchen, but he had more important things to consider than whether the food colouring would stain the beautiful white tiled floors. He hoped they didn’t though. The last thing he needed to do was hunt out matching tiles while he was trying to dispose of a body.

Loosening his tie, Derek began to change his clothes, removing his shirt and trousers and folding them up, before placing them into the laundry basket. He opened the wardrobe, dressed in a clean pair of black trousers and a black shirt, tucking a black balaclava into his pocket, and pressed a hidden button, which opened a secret drawer and allowed him to pick his weapon.

He was making his way back downstairs when he saw one last black bag by the back door. An arm flopped out. A severed arm, with a Chinese tattoo emblazoned across the flesh.

“Tut tut,” said Alice as she plunged the untraceable and fast-acting poison into the vein in Derek’s neck. “You should have been on time. I would have had it cleaned up by then,” she said in a Russian accent.

Derek died in his assassin-wife’s arms, and never did save the UK from Russian control. It turned out that Alice had been given the mission of killing not only the Chinese spy, but also the only British agent who stood in the way of Russia invading Britain. The fact that this unstoppable man was her husband, gave Alice as much of a surprise as Derek had felt when his heart stopped. But, as all good contract killers know, it’s just a job.

So, comrade, now you know how a mild-mannered man with OCD from Hampshire, was responsible for the demise of human rights and the freedom of all British citizens. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is nobody better at keeping secrets than a woman, especially one who happens to also be a secret agent and deadly assassin. The moral of this story would have to be that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

THE END

Extract from Four Letter Words

Read Seven Dirty Words? Continue Paige’s story with…

Four Letter Words

FLW2

Nightmares teased and taunted me that night. Great hulking beasts tore away at my skin. Their gnarled fingers with long, scratching talons, tore at my flesh. I tried to scream, but they had stolen my voice. Breathless, I struggled onward, down the twisting path of infinite darkness. Cackles and howls surrounded me, flooding my senses. I tripped over my own confusion. Even on this one road, with no other way to turn, I knew that I was lost. Everything was lost.

  I scrambled on, clawing my way up the path. My body was heavy, forcing me down as though gravity had increased. It was impossible to stand. I dragged myself through the muck, tears streaming down my face, creating a sea beneath me. If I didn’t find my way home, I was going to drown in my own sorrow.

  The beasts continued to harangue me, spitting putrid bile in my way. I felt sick. I could taste the acrid stomach acid building in the back of my mouth. I gagged on my humility. But nothing was freed. I kept heaving, hoping to relieve some of the weight, make myself lighter so that I could stand.

  Then he was there. TDS stood in front of me. He loomed over my pitiful frame, towering as though he were twenty feet tall, a resolute statue of demanding respect. His stare as pitch black as my surroundings. Soulless.

  “Please help,” I tried to say. But my mouth wouldn’t move. “I’m sorry.” Still no words could be heard.

  An unknown force flipped me over. Invisible restraints held my wrists flat against the cold, hard ground. The ocean of tears soaked through what skin remained. Dirt crawled up my body like tiny insects. I struggled. But against what? There was nobody there.

  TDS was gone, and in his place, a callous reminder of my past. 

***

REVIEWS:

If you loved the first one then buy the second you won’t be disappointed!”  

The book pulled me in from the beginning and kept me on my toes throughout.”

A brilliantly written book is a must read…”

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