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Undercover Danger ~ Excerpt from 'Women Under Fire'

Angie stood motionless in the shadow of a misshapen cypress tree. The setting summer sun of Seattle didn’t relieve the cold frisson of danger or the press of her revolver’s cold metal against her skin. Although it had been months since her last reconnaissance mission, her body recognized the drill and tightened into high alert.

Splatters of fading sunlight danced across the sagging house. Official yellow tape was wrapped around the turn of the century beauty like a Christmas bow on a crushed, forgotten present. A “condemned” sign was nailed to the warped door. The crumbling front steps looked like their weight bearing days were a distant memory.

Not sure how to proceed, she waited and watched the abandoned house in the residential Ravenna neighborhood until it got dark. Should she take the squatters unaware? Surprise Maddy before she could run?

She moved from her hiding place to investigate the back of the house. The yard was littered with broken glass, smashed Styrofoam carryout containers, and plastic bags mired in mud from the wet Northwest summer. She stepped over the yellow tape that was haphazardly hung around the back steps, turned the handle, and then pulled open the back door. It was unlocked. The rusting hinges screeched.

“Maddy, it’s Angie from your VA group.” She reverted to her forceful military command voice. “I’m coming in.”

When the door was thrown wide open, small dark bodies—rats—scurried away. Dread raced down her spine into the tips of her toes. God, she hated rats. This rat hole was worse than anything she had seen during her tours of duty in Afghanistan.

She stepped gingerly over the bags of garbage strewn on the uneven linoleum floor. The smell of the years of neglect and black mold hit her sensitive nose. She tried not to breathe. All of her senses heightened in the darkness, an internal radar honed from door-to-door urban combat. She took another two steps, listening for sounds other than the resident rodents.

“It’s Angie from your VA group.” She wasn’t too worried about handling a high Maddy, but handling her companions might get tricky. After eight years as a Marine, she was used to tricky. And after everything Maddy had gone through in Afghanistan, Angie wasn’t about to let her friend descend into another hell.

She reached in the pocket of her jeans for her tiny penlight as she walked into the dark dining room. The light of her flashlight reflected back at her from a cracked mirror hanging over the fireplace, then a sudden, shiny motion. Before she could react, a bright burst of pain exploded in her head. She fought against overpowering blackness.

Women Under Fire

An Unexpected Pleasure ~ Excerpt from 'A Code of Love'

Cord stepped into the hallway. “Lady Henrietta, what a pleasure to welcome you to Rathbourne House.”

She stood abruptly. By the astonished expression on her face, she hadn’t expected to see him. “My lord…” she mumbled, looking down at the floor. She fingered a necklace hidden under her pelisse, an anxious gesture, he was coming to recognize. “I’ve come to see your aunt.” Her chin went up in defiance.

He knew nothing of her friendship with his aunt. He glanced behind her to see if her maid accompanied her. She was alone.

She didn’t offer any further explanation but bit on her lower lip.

A very sensual lower lip, now that she had called attention to it. He found himself riveted to the pink plump lower lip. “My aunt is out on her social calls with Gwyneth. May I assist you?”

It didn’t matter what brought her here today. He wasn’t going to let her leave until he had time to probe the mystery of her unaccompanied appearance.

She stood motionless.

The air filled with expectation.

“Is your need to see my aunt concerning your uncle? I know they’re close acquaintances.”

It was hard to imagine that her large green eyes could get any larger, but they seemed to grow.

“What do you know of my uncle?” Her strident voice and stiffened stance challenged him. She was absolutely compelling with her fiercely determined eyes.

“I don’t believe I’ve yet had the honor of meeting the gentleman.”

She studied him, weighing his answer.

“I’m trying to understand what would cause you to arrive at Rathbourne House, seeking word with my aunt.”

“My visit is of a private nature.”

His impulse was to take her into his arms and console her about whatever problems she faced, to kiss away the anxiety furrowing her forehead. “May I offer you tea while we wait for my aunt?” He gestured with his hand to the marble staircase, which wound grandly up to the second floor.

A Code of Love

Not What He Expected ~ Excerpt from 'Men Under Fire'

Talley’s nails clicked on the wood floors as they approached the door. Nick’s heart beat erratically, his palms were sweaty, and his mouth was dry.

Hollie looked up from her desk as he walked through the door. Surprise registered on her face as she stood and came around her desk. Her hair was piled on top of her head in a high ponytail, and she wore a soft white dress that clung to all her curves. Her sweet and innocent look was a fist to his chest. He was having trouble moving air in and out of his lungs.

“Talley, Sgt. Welby, is something wrong? You don’t have an appointment today.”

She looked young and virginal, nothing like the dominatrix that his male mind had created in the late nights. The swimming regime recommended by Dr. Walters to help Talley was taking the edge off the long days, but the nights were still bad. And when he woke from the same nightmare, he lay in bed and fantasized about Hollie, her incredible bod in the tight black skirt, fishnet stockings, and black boots, and her gentle touch of his dog.

She looked closely at Talley. “Is Talley ill?”

He couldn’t speak but stared at the enticing woman as his heart thudded against his chest like a marching band drum. He shook his head. “No, we’re good. Really good.” God, he sounded like a simpleton. He could feel his ears burning in embarrassment. “We were in Seattle and thought we’d stop by. That’s not a problem, is it?” Of all the lame shit to say.

“Oh, I’m glad nothing’s wrong.” Hollie bent and patted Talley. “It’s good to see you, Talley,” she crooned in a soft, alluring voice.

Talley’s ears perked up, and her body relaxed at Hollie’s voice.

As she was bent over Talley, he tracked the creamy angle of her neck and a coiled black curl. He could feel her heat, and he caught a whiff of her flowery fragrance.

She didn’t look like the badass woman of just three days ago. She was soft, womanly, and enthralling.

Men Under Fire

The Invalid ~ Excerpt from 'A Code of the Heart'

A Code of the Heart by Jacki DeleckiAmelia didn’t share Gwyneth’s amusement. She wanted to believe that Lord Brinsley cared about her, but who could rely on the opinion of a blissful bride? She wished she wasn’t lying in bed like an invalid with her tangled hair and a bandage wrapped around her head, but Gwyneth was adamant she had to remain recumbent. Doctor’s orders.

Gwyneth opened the door with the sound of the footman’s tap and waved in the visitor.

“Brinsley. Please come and see for yourself that the patient is doing fine.”

Gwyneth waited at the door, as Lord Brinsley entered. His brown, curly hair was tousled; his shirt and cravat were stained with blood. His eyes were dark and sunken with anxiety.

Amelia had been unaware of the tenderness she felt for him until now; she wanted to hold him, to comfort him, but she didn’t dare.

“Thank you, Lady Gwyneth.” Brinsley’s voice and manner were much subdued.

Gwyneth curtsied to the gentleman and left the room, closing the door behind her.

Amelia clenched her hands on the damask coverlet. She’d be scolding Gwyneth for this newest attempt at matchmaking. Gwyneth’s maid was in the dressing room a few yards away, but Gwyneth had left her alone with Lord Brinsley.

He edged closer to the bed, scrutinizing her face, noting details of the bandage and the facial swelling.

“Miss Amelia, are you comfortable?” His voice was hoarse with emotion.

She tried to lighten his serious mood. “My injury doesn’t warrant bed rest, but Lady Gwyneth and the doctor were quite fearsome.”

“Of course, you must rest. You lost a great deal of blood, and you’re quite pale.”

“I doubt greatly that I’m pale. This is my normal skin color. I suspect you look worse than I do.” There was purple bruising below his eye, covering his strong cheekbone almost back to his ear. “I stopped a ball, but by the looks of it, you stopped a very large fist. We make quite a pair; now we’re matching.” She teased, but the gorgeous man stared at her as if she were on her deathbed.

He stepped closer and she got a whiff of his scent—lime and male muskiness. “I’m truly sorry. This was my fault. If I had stayed quiet, you wouldn’t be injured.”

The way he looked at her, with such concern and care, she couldn’t look away. Butterflies danced a fast tempo in her stomach. She was captured again in his all-consuming stare.

A Code of the Heart

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