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Grayce Walters Series

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The Witness - Excerpt from 'An Inner Fire'

Davis stared down the hallway after Dr. Walters left. He hated surprises. Getting back late to the office, he hadn’t been able to do a rudimentary background check before the interview.

The delectable Dr. Walters was more than disorienting. Her big green eyes, short skirt, and the way she laughed, lying on the ground with Henny licking her face, was a shock to his system. And he wasn’t sure he liked the jolt.

He sat down and opened his computer to do the witness profile he hadn’t been able to do before the interview. The woman was brilliant, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan, honors from Vet School at Cornell. There were endless pages on her research, papers, and presentations. Now, she practiced animal acupuncture. What the hell was that?

She was a good witness, factual not emotional. Her lack of reaction left him suspicious. Most witnesses needed to describe the experience of encountering criminals. Not the intrepid Dr. Walters. She seemed frightened as she described the man with red hair. But unlike most witnesses, she disclosed none of her fears.

He appreciated the irony of the situation. She had given the perfect interview logical, precise and it made him suspect her. Dr. Walters hadn’t offered any personal insights. He was familiar with the tactic; he used it all the time. When his neatly constructed world had careened out of control two years ago after his father’s slow, agonizing death, Davis learned the only way to survive was not to reveal anything.

There was something inexplicable about Dr. Walters, something he couldn’t grasp. She bore watching. God, who was he kidding? Her tight little body and her legs bore watching.

An Inner Fire

A man, a dog...and a woman - Excerpt from 'Men Under Fire'

Men Under Fire by Jacki DeleckiDr. Walters looked up from her note taking. “I’d like to treat Talley once a week for the next three months. You live in Auburn. Will it be a problem to drive into Seattle?”

“Not a problem, ma’am. I’d do anything for this dog.”

She leaned across her desk. “Do you swim, Sergeant?”

“Yes, ma’am.” He didn’t get what swimming had to do with acupuncture.

“I’d like you and Talley to start swimming in a lake or deep river. It’s important you do it together.”

“Lake Young is close by our family farm. Talley and I can swim there.”

“Water will soothe Talley’s ratcheted up nervous system.”

Why did he feel as if the doctor wasn’t talking just about Talley?

“Don’t do any training around the swimming. Talley needs a real break from her work. Her senses, especially her focus and her nose, are working overtime. She’ll have a break in the water.”

He nodded. “It will be great to swim after our morning runs.”

“Sounds like we’ve got a plan. Let’s see how the swimming works.” Dr. Walters stood from her desk and walked toward the door. “I can hear that my assistant is back. She’ll make your appointment for next week.”

Talley woke up with the doctor’s movements. With her front paws planted forward, the usually hyper dog stretched her spine and then slowly hoisted herself to follow Dr. Walters. He couldn’t explain exactly what had happened, but like Talley, he felt a deep sense of relaxation. For the first time since he had arrived stateside, he could breathe calmly and catch glimpses of the contented man before the war. He and a tranquil Talley followed the doctor to the outer office.

Dr. Walters stopped suddenly in the doorway. A young, curvaceous woman was balanced on a stool, reaching into cupboards, as she sang the painful lyrics from Nirvana’s song “Sliver.”

When she stretched her entire body forward, her short, black skirt inched higher, giving him an incredible view of her sweet, rounded backside. He swore under his breath at the tempting sight. She wore fishnet tights and thigh-high boots that were right out of every red-blooded male’s fantasy.

His whole body tightened, not in danger but in hunger. Lust and need hummed through him, an invigorating feeling that he hadn’t experienced in a very long time.

Men Under Fire

Gaze into my Crystal Ball - Excerpt from 'Women Under Fire'

Ambushed by Aunt Aideen, Grayce Walters was trapped. The bonds of social pressure gripped tighter around her wrists and ankles, holding her captive in the kitchen chair. She couldn’t escape tonight’s séance.

Dressed in a flowing cobalt-blue caftan, Aunt Aideen ceremoniously placed a scarred, black box on the table and then carefully opened a chest lined in red velvet and raised a glimmering crystal ball into the air. “This Keek-Stane has been passed down through generations of Scottish witches.”

The enormous kitchen suddenly went airless. Grayce gulped for a breath. Mitzi, who had been sleeping under the table, protectively covered Grayce’s feet with her paws.

Grayce knew nothing about tarot cards or witches. Why hadn’t Davis warned her that his aunt considered herself a witch? Grayce had recognized Aunt Aideen as a gifted intuitive, but not a witch, whatever that meant.

Aunt Aideen placed the ball in the center of the table spread with tarot cards. “The Keek-Stane guides me in the reading of the cards.”

A call to a suspicious fire had interrupted the cozy dinner with her boyfriend, his aunt and dog. If Davis had stayed, she’d be eating dessert instead of having a metaphysical experience.

Aunt Aideen’s enormous moonstone ring flickered in the candlelight as her hand hovered over the cards. “We must look to the future.”

Grayce couldn’t see the card. She felt light-headed from the burning sweet flag incense or from the ominous energy swirling from the crystal ball.

As she turned over the first tarot card, the large woman’s usual booming voice grew quiet with a mysterious Gaelic lilt. “The Knight of Swords.”

Prickly sensations lifted the fine hair on Grayce’s neck. Mitzi came from under the table and sat next to Grayce’s chair.

Aunt Aideen opened her massive hand to allow Grayce to see the card—a medieval knight in armor on a powerful white horse rode toward a battle in the distance. The horse’s harness was decorated with butterflies and birds. The sky behind him was filled with storm clouds and the trees, tossed wildly by the wind. The knight resembled St. Michael the Archangel.

“The Knight of Swords is hard to resist,” Aunt Aideen intoned.

Davis obviously fit the Knight of Swords. His commanding presence, physical strength, and his commitment to fight crimes made him the perfect archetypal hero.

Heat moved across Grayce’s cheeks in embarrassment. “Davis was hard to resist.” Grayce knew first hand. As a witness to arson, she had been interviewed by the sexy fire investigator and had fallen in love with the irresistible man.

“My nephew, Ewan Davis, is in no way a Knight of Swords. Davis is an Emperor, a man of the logical world, like his Scottish forebears. The Knight of Swords is a messenger, a call for adventure. He does not see, nor does he care about risks or dangers and instead moves forward with his strong determination and strength to succeed, no matter what.

Grayce wasn’t going to discuss Davis’ ability as an adventurous lover with the aunt who had raised him after his mother’s death.

“The knight will call to you from your dreams.” Aunt Aideen’s solemn voice and the shimmering moonstone known for clairvoyance were doing strange things to Grayce’s perceptions. The images in the room faded in and out. The heightened energy from the ball moved in undulating waves.

“His call will challenge you to leave your present way of being.” Aunt Aideen’s eyes were in the shadows, but Grayce felt her focused stare. “The Knight of Swords can also be seen as a warning.”

With the soft burr of Aunt Aideen’s Scottish inflection, the wavering candlelight and the nutty scent of sweet flag, Grayce was floating into deep relaxation.

Aunt Aideen’s voice lost its soothing rhythm. “And it doesn’t take a seer to predict that Davis will have trouble with the knight’s appearance in your life. Davis needs to be your protector.”

Grayce came immediately out of her meditative state. Davis tried very hard to control his fear of unforeseen disasters by guarding all those he loved.

“Does the knight have to be human? Maybe I’ll have a new patient?” Grayce asked.

Aunt Aideen kept her eyes closed. Her muted voice was firm. “I see a tall, dark man in a uniform. He holds a gun.”

Shivers of fear danced on Grayce’s skin.

Women Under Fire

Keeping Secrets - Excerpt from 'An Inner Fire'

An Inner Fire by Jacki DeleckiA half hour later, he completed her recorded statement and the interview was finished. She had achieved what she had set out to do as a responsible citizen. She had given the lieutenant the description of the arsonist without sharing any of her insight.

“Thank you, Dr. Walters. Your information may be helpful.”

She was thankful to be done with the interview. She hoped never to think, dream, or come close to the red-haired man again. The gigantic lieutenant with his aura of command looked totally capable of handling the dangerous man. “I hope my description will help you find him.”

“Is this the best phone number to reach you?”

Grayce stared at the sheet of paper he handed her. She swallowed the rising panic and ignored the bone-deep awareness that the red-haired man wasn’t finished.

“I may need to contact you,” he said.

“I’ve told you everything.”

“You never know what may come up with an investigation.”

She forced her lips to curve into a smile of sorts. “Of course. You have both my office and cell number.”

When she stood, Henny stood, too.

For a man his size, the lieutenant was quick. He was next to her by the time she had picked up her purse.

She craned her neck to look up at him. His eyes were focused on her. They locked gazes briefly. Grayce looked away, trying to lessen the forceful connection between them, the heat racing through her body. She bent down to pet Henny. “It was great to meet you, girl.”

Henny had been a bright spot in the morning, supporting Grayce with her gentle, loving spirit. Throughout the interview, Grayce had agonized over how much she should reveal about her intuitive grasp of the man’s violent nature. She had almost confided in the lieutenant. She had almost believed he might be able to accept her gifts.

Almost. Almost wasn’t good enough. Almost wasn’t enough to trust. Almost would open up an abyss of her secrets.

An Inner Fire

Veterans Day: Honoring those who served

Veterans Day, which falls on Saturday, November 11th, serves as an opportunity for Americans to recognize those who have served in the U.S. military. I am grateful to all those who serve in and support the armed services, including active duty and retired service members, canine troops, and military spouses and families.

Throughout American history, approximately 45 million Americans have served in our armed forces during times of war, along with additional millions who served in peacetime. Since 1775 close to 1.4 million members of the military have died in our wars and military actions. (Source: Fox News)

There are currently about 20 million U.S. military veterans living in the United States out of a population of 326 million, according to the Census Bureau.

How do you celebrate Veterans Day to acknowledge our military service members? Some communities sponsor parades. Some businesses and organizations offer freebies and discounts to veterans. Families visit memorials or final resting places.

My way of honoring service members is by featuring them in my contemporary romantic suspense stories. These “everyday heroes” make for wonderful characters. Do you have a favorite fictional military hero or heroine? How does that character inspire you?

Men Under Fire by Jacki Delecki